Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Not Attractive?

I just got my first “industry” review for “Fangbone.” It’s an odd one. They seem to say many nice things about the book, but lead it off with some really negative comments. Dealing with reviews can be tough sometimes, but at this point in my career I don’t let them get to me. My book was reviewed on the “Kids Comics” page where every other book reviewed was full color. Perhaps the anonymous reviewer had certain expectations that “Fangbone” did not meet.

“Flat, primitive art in yellow and gray brings to mind “what if the Wimpy Kid was instead Conan’s kid?” The book’s not attractive, but it is easy to read and very expressive. It looks like something a classmate might have scribbled on notebook paper and passed around, providing a sense of “I could do this!” The familiar plot sends the young Fangbone, normally picked on by the bigger warriors, on a mystical quest that, if successful, will reward the clan with victory against the enemy army. The young fighter is surprised to find that his mission involves blending in at an elementary school, which leads to much culture-clash humor. It’s cute, funny, and will win over most readers with its commitment to its premise. It’s even heartwarming, as Bill (Fangbone’s friend, previously thought to be a loser) learns confidence, and Fangbone gains an appreciation for teamwork during a dodgeball-like game. The modern touches—such as hot wings and Bill’s ADD medicine—ground the book, while jabs at school philosophy through the character of the goofy principal will entertain adult readers. Ages 7–9. (Jan.)”

---Publisher’s Weekly

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Best Question Ever

In October, I spent a week in the Norristown area of Pennsylvania doing five days of school visits. On the last day, during my last presentation, I had the single best question ever from a student. Now, I’m not talking about a cute, “out of the mouth of babes” type question, such as, “When did you go bald?” I’m talking about a smart, thoughtful question that made me pause, and took me out of my “performer” mode and really made the day memorable.

During my presentation, I talk about how my boys, Declan and Gavin, give me lots of ideas. I explain that they are responsible for some of the more crazy and disgusting scenarios in an upcoming series I am working on. In short, I let the children know that my two boys are my biggest inspiration.

During the Q&A part of my presentation, I let the kids ask anything they want. Usually, they want to know how many books I’ve done, or which book is my favorite. But this one, wonderful, thoughtful and insightful fourth grade girl raised her hand, and calmly asked…wait for it…

“Before you had kids, what was your muse?”

Wow. Best question ever. Not only did she know, and understood, what a muse was, but figured out that I’d been making books long before my kids were born. I actually paused for a moment with a huge grin on my face. She completely made my day, and my week. It seems that the teachers were equally shocked and impressed.

My answer was, “My niece, nephews, and other kids that I have known,” had all inspired me in some way or another. Then I looked right at her, and said, “I also get very, very inspired by the kids I meet at school visits!”

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween 2011

My boys were zombies for Halloween this year. However, Halloween almost didn't happen. Half the town had no power (no doorbells or lights to see who's home), there were trees all over the streets and we had to navigate piles of snow and slush. We've only been in our new house in Leonia, NJ, for a week. For four of those days, we have had no power. The blackout ended this morning around 6:30 and we were happy to have heat and light again.

Fangbone Book #3

The last two months have been very unproductive, yet I've been very busy. I'm not sure how that happens. Fangbone Book #1 and #2 come out in a few months. Right now, I'm working book #3. It will hit late summer/early fall. Here's the cover sketch done on an ipad.