Amazon.com Widgets

Researching the Wild West

Sasspirilla Springs

The latest children’s story I am working on involves a small old western town in the middle of nowhere. Unlike other western towns, this one didn’t pop up around a gold or silver rush. Nope. This one popped up around a more unusual product of mother earth.

The story is in the outline stage and is being set around the people of the town itself. It’s staged to be a group of short stories that revolve around the every day life of these colorful, quirky, and sometimes misguided, characters.

I find it rather amusing to research the lingo used in the old west. Many of the colorful statements were used by people who were uneducated and, for lack of a better word, ignorant. Yet it closely resembles the “rap” style lingo spoken today.

As usual, the issues of writing a children’s story about a violent time in history brings up topics such as guns, violence, drinking, and much more. But I’m up for the challenge to tackle these issues in a creative way.

 

Tempus Fugit

Time flies. It sure does. It’s been a while since my last post here on my blog. Sorry about that. So, what’s going on. On the sadder side of things, my mother passed away on Father’s Day this year. She was very ill and had been battling diabetes here whole life, as well as the loss of her kidneys. In the end, her body just gave out. In spite of all of that, our family is going well.

As for projects, work is proceeding on Fields of Dreams. We hope to have some illustrations for Volume 0 very soon. Other projects are getting rewrites and progressing forward. Ron and I have reworked our old “Draglets” concept and are creating a new and unique story based on characters Ron created in the 80′s.

Ron and I also created our own company called “Vivid Imagination Studios.”, follow us on Facebook! We’ll be positing images and information on all our projects there.

Eartha the Sea Turtle at TurtleFest 2013

TurtleFest 2013Every year the Loggerhead Marinelife Center of Juno Beach has their annual event, TurtleFest. This year I had the privilege of attending and signing copies of Eartha the Sea Turtle. I really enjoy the look on a child’s face when they see me write their name in the book, and sign it. TurtleFest is an amazing event that includes live music, art displays, gift vendors, food, and educational information as well. All this and you also get to tour the facility and see the sea turtles currently being cared for.

I had a copy of a personal photo album I created which contains many photos of the real Eartha. I was asked by several people if the book was for sale. (Lightbulb!) So I am currently preparing to publish the photo book by the end of this year. The book shows Eartha in her holding tank where I first met her, and takes you on a photographic journey which end with spectacular images of her returning to the sea. It’s a true successful rescue story.

 

My Interview with FreeFromHarm.org

FreeFromHarm.org recently contacted me about doing an interview regarding my children’s book, Steven the Vegan. FreeFromHarm.org is an in-depth news and information source for all things regarding animal rights, and veganism. I’m very excited that the book is starting to get recognition in the vegan community.

Check out the interview here.

 

Megacon Orlando 2013

This year I attended my first con. During my visit to Orlando, I met with Ron (my illustrator and friend) and we attended the MegaCon Comicbook Convention at the Orange County Convention Center. As I said, it was my first con. My interest in the convention was to see and meet other independent writers and illustrators. I noticed the more mainstream illustrators draw in the same format, that standard hero post, comic book format. The more independent illustrators had their own formats, and, what seemed like, much more creative freedom. Those are the people we spoke to.
These people love their craft. There was no pressure to buy something from their table, and they were more than happy to just talk to us about what they do, and we, of course, told them what we are working on. Without giving specific details, many of the artists seemed to like the fact that we are focusing on restoring imagination to young kids. Don’t be surprised if Ron and I have our own booth here in the coming years.

 

Taking research seriously … with pirates

Pirate ResearchYou’ve heard the expression, “Writers write.” That is very true. I have a slew of story ideas I’ve been cultivating for the past year. One of the stories is a pirate tale. The goal is to create a story which can be turned into a graphic novel. Writing a pirate story is not as simple as it sounds. Most of my knowledge of pirates came from movies, and the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World. I wanted to learn more about real pirates, not just those in fiction. But I also wanted to maintain peoples expectations of pirates as well.

Jack Sparrow, the fictional pirate in the Pirate of the Caribbean movies, gave people a different view of pirates. Although his character is purely fictional, characters such as Bartholomew and Morgan, the two pirates who wrote the fictional Pirates Code, are actual pirates. Pirates did live by codes, but each Captain  did have a set of company articles, or rules. These rule were often very fair to the pirates, even compensating them financially for missing limbs.

As you can see, I take my research for stories pretty seriously. I’ve watched true documentaries of pirates, I’ve watched at least 7 different pirate movies, and I have read several books on pirates, pirate lingo, and even a pirate handbook.

I’ve also found that inspiration can come from anywhere, including a few replica pirate coins. When I wrote Eartha the Sea Turtle, and Steven the Vegan, I used photographs, plus a few visits to locations where the real animals resided, for inspiration.

I can’t tell you when the story will be done, but as always, I will keep you posted.

 

Let Them Eat Gummy Bears

On a recent trip to Orlando to visit my friend and illustrator Ron, we took a day off and visited the Magic Kingdom. I didn’t realize until the day before that the New Fantasyland had just opened. Prior to my visit I did some research online and found that there were a few restaurants that had garden burgers in the Magic Kingdom. Being a vegan, I find it necessary to make sure I can find something to eat when visiting new places.

be-our-guest-veganWhile in the new Fantasyland, Ron and I decided to give the new “Be Our Guest” restaurant a try for lunch. The line was long, but it’s Disney … what line isn’t long there? I looked at the menu and saw one item that I could eat. It was a Quinoa salad with green beans, potatoes, olives, roasted bell peppers,
and, tomatoes. It’s sad that there was only one item, after all, the concept of a menu is to choose an item. When there is only one item, do you really have a choice?

The meal was good, not the best I’ve had, but I’d compare it to a typical sit down chain restaurant. What’s funny is all the servers say “Bon Jour.” and “Merci” but I think those are the only two words they know. If you do decide to eat there, remember this. It’s noisy. Real noisy. You also have to tolerate people walking around all three dining areas taking pictures.

Lunch was over.

For dinner, Ron and I were over at Epcot Center. I figured my best shot would be The Land pavilion. I mean, it’s the “land” right? After walking around a bit I came up to the Asian food area and asked the attendant if they had anything vegan. DITH (Deer In The Headlights) The attendant had to go get a chef. By now Ron was getting a decent taste of what it’s like to be vegan in public restaurants. It was becoming humorous. But Ron and I could find humor in anything. The chef came by and said “Yes, the vegetable lo-mein is vegan, and so is the tofu.”  ”Tofu?” Why didn’t said attendant know that tofu is vegan? Did he even know it was there? I sure didn’t.

I ordered my meal and walked over to the dessert area. I thought I’d try my luck there. Ron and I looked over the display, then asked the attendant if they have anything that is vegan. DITH. The attendant went off to find a chef. When the chef came by they asked what they could do for me. I asked again, “Is anything here vegan?” Her response was, “Let me go check.”

Two more chef’s emerged from the mysterious back kitchen. Each adorned with their white kitchen coats and hats. One was carrying a binder. The magical binder was opened for all chefs to see. Apparently they were looking at the recipes. After a few moments one chef came over and said that they didn’t have anything that was vegan, but there is an allergy kiosk in the corner for people that have allergies to things like nuts and (wait for it….)  ”I think the gummy bears are vegan.”

I bursted out laughing. Gummy Bears? Really? That’s the vegan dessert?

In my fit of laughter, I thanked him and told him that chances are they aren’t vegan because they are probably made with gelatin. (Gelatin is made from the collagen of animals. Remember that next time you make room for jello.) I know it wasn’t his fault they had no vegan desserts, but I did suggest they consider  that Oreo cookies are vegan. Dip them in dark chocolate, and Voila!

If you plan on visiting Walt Disney World, and you are a vegan or vegetarian. Take a look at this chart from AllEars.net. Vegetarian / Vegan Counter Service Meals in the Parks

Myth Illogical is now on Kickstarter.com

We started our next project and have once again turned to fans to help back it. Myth Illogical is our latest project. It takes a child’s perspective at looking at mythological creatures … with a twist. What’s the twist? Well, if I tell you then it won’t be a real twist will it.

The story surrounds four characters, Bigfoot, Unicorn, Minotaur, and Dragon. As the story unfolds, Bigfoot is trying to scare the reader … unsuccessfully. He starts getting pointer and tips from the other characters until all of them are attempting to be scary. It takes an interesting look at fear by making things that are suppose to be scary, funny.

The primary goal of the book is just to be fun to read. No strong headed moral, but good old-fashioned fun.

Check out the kickstarter campaign, and please consider backing our project.

 

Steven the Vegan on VeganCuts.com

Today, Steven the Vegan was promoted on VeganCuts.com VeganCuts is an amazing service that offers deals on vegan products ranging from foods, to … books! While I was completing the layouts of the pages I contacted VeganCuts and asked if my book was something they’d like to offer. (Duh!) Of course, they said yes.

Be sure to checkout the deal at VeganCuts.com and sign up for their newsletter to get deals on other vegan products!

 

Let the book signing begin!

The books are here!

Last week the illustrator for Steven the Vegan,Ron Robrahn, signed all the books, and now it’s my turn. Ron also hand drew all the sketch cards which look AWESOME! This weekend I will start signing and endorsing all the books. Next week they will slowly begin shipping out to all the Kickstarter.com backers.

I cannot stress how important their role was in getting this book published. Not only did they provide financial support, but they provided moral support as well. Notes of encouragement really helped to keep us going. That kind of appreciation cannot be put properly into words.