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Volume Nine in the Tony Hawk’s 900 Revolution series, Zombified, is now on bookshelves.
Once more beset by visions, Omar finds himself trapped inside one. The world he sees is vastly different than the one he left. In this post-apocalyptic vision, the Collective has defeated the Revolution. In their absence, the disbanded Revolution has been replaced by a group of tribes that skate in their honor. Omar searches for his friends, for the meaning behind this horrific vision, and for a way out!
Here’s the initial mock up cover for my newest book, Campfire Crisis.
Three kids go camping with their parents. When a forest fire wakes them one night, what will they do? — this is choose-your-path style book in which readers learn tips about camping and survival in the outdoors.
Last Thursday I drove over to Marshall, MN, for the Young Authors Conference. More than 800 students came to see Jonathan Friesen, author of Aldo’s Fantastic Movie Palace, give the keynote presentation. Then it was off to the breakout sessions, which is where I talked about creating comics.
As I always tell students, they come to these events not to just sit and listen to me talk but to exercise their creative muscles. Below is a fantastic example from a student of what we work on during my presentations.
I’ll talk through some of my steps in writing, starting with creating characters. Once that’s done, we drop our characters into a situation to see what happens.
The beginning of the year starts another season of presentations for me. Here’s my upcoming calendar.
Young Authors Conference
WHERE: Marshall, MN
WHEN: Jan, 10th
I’ll be talking to 3rd through 5th graders about creating comics
Young Writers and Artist Conference
WHERE: Mankato, MN
WHEN: Mar 6th & 7th
More talk on creating comics. But what I love about going back in Mankato is that I’ll get to eat at one of my favorite pizza joints in Minnesota: Pagliai’s
Young Authors, Young Artist Conference
WHERE: Rochester, MN
WHEN: May 21st & 22nd
This is the conference that started it all for me. I’ve been presenting at Rochester for the last 15 years.
“The first of the newest four books in the series find the youngest members of the Revolution crew working together without direct supervision. Things are going well at first: Dylan and Amy are scoping out a skate park in Minneapolis, and Joey and Omar are checking out some local caves in St. Paul, both teams hot on the heels of the magical skateboard fragment they have traced to the region. Both teams soon run into trouble, though, when members of the Collective, their evil counterparts, find the teens and attempt to claim the fragment for themselves. Of course the Revolution team obtains the fragment and gets away safely, with just a little help from their elders, but as soon as the team completes one mission, they head right to another: Venice in book 6, Mexico in book 7, and Hawaii in book 8. In each volume, new characters are introduced and old characters resurface, sometimes helping the Revolution crew and sometimes exposing their vulnerabilities. After reading books 5–8, this series seems like NCIS for ‘tween boys. With the silver-haired and unflinching director, Eldrick, followed by his loyal, talented, and street-smart team of agents, each book plays out like a new episode: a different villain, a new location, a special agent’s skill set highlighted, maybe even a little flirtation between the cast. The series is gratifying for the same reasons the favorite TV drama is gratifying: because it is familiar, part changing story and part single overarching narrative (to get all of the magic fragments of Tony Hawk’s busted skateboard). The shift to graphic novel style at the climax in each book also adds to the visual quality of the series.”
Talk to you next year—it’s time to go spread some of that Christmas cheer.
Hope your holidays are filled family and friends.
Now, I’ve kind of given up on buying gifts for my oldest three nephews (my sister’s boys). At this point, iTunes gifts cards do the trick as they then have control over what they get.
But there is a new crop of young ones in my family (my brothers’ kids). And thanks to a recent event I did at the Barnes and Noble in Roseville, MN, I was able to get some Christmas shopping done.
For my nephew Gavin, I picked up a copy of the Polar Express. It’s a classic, and he loves trains.
For my niece Zoe, I went with Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. Mo Williems creates a funny story with such simple art. He makes me want to try my hand at illustrating.
And for the newest addition to that family, Aila, I picked up a copy of Quack, Quack, Moo by Doreen Cronin. Yeah, another book where a fowl causes things to go a foul.
I hope the young ones enjoy some family reading time!
We’re under a snow emergency here in St Paul, so I’m fitting in some extra writing time. Of course, I’m taking breaks to shovel (we have about 8 inches on the ground, and it’s still falling) and play with Ty in the backyard. She loves chasing a soccer ball that I kick around in the snow. But I’m enjoying the excuse to stay in and pluck away on my keyboard.
My current project is providing some warm thoughts. I’m writing a choose-your-path book called Campfire Crisis (for an early elementary grade audience). I’m hoping that it’ll be expanded into a series: Adventure Kids. The main character (you, the reader) has two friends who go on adventures together. In this first tale, a mishap while camping causes the kids to flee their campsite in the middle of the night. Each choice the reader makes involves learning about camping tips and tips for surviving in the wild.
Campfire Crisis is due to be release this coming spring
(the view from my studio)
Last week I visited the Kenyon Middle School/High School to talk about my book: Greek Mythology’s Adventures of Perseus, a choose-your-path book. I prefaced my presentations by saying that this is what authors do when they have a new book—they travel around to promote their work.
But I’m not one to just talk when I present, so I told the students a little about my writing process, and then had them do an exercise. They created characters, whether robots or animals or talking fruit. Using those characters, we wrote a story about what happened when the characters came to their school. What did their friends think? What did their teachers think?
The exercise lead to some giggles!
I’m always amazed at the creativity and imagination of students. We had a great time, and there was even a nice write-up in the Kenyon Leader about my visit.
Though this time around, they are coming to your galaxy in chapter book form.
More details to come . . .
My editor liked my first story in Stone Arch Book’s new Tony Hawk series, Live 2 Skate. So I’ve been asked to write a second book.
Here’s what I’m thinking for the plot: Carter thinks he’s finally made it. He’s in the 8th grade. He’s one of the older kids on the local skate team. And now is his time to shine. He’s going to be more than just a sub this year. He’s hoping to be one of the star skaters on the team. The only problem is that his younger brother is also a skater, and he’s got some moves. Carter ends up having to compete against his brother for a spot on the skate team. Not only that, but a couple of the older boys are harassing him. When they start to threaten Carter’s younger brother, Carter needs to step into the big brother role. But if he does, some of the kids on the skate team could turn on him. It seems like no matter what he does, he either has his family or his friends gunning for his spot on the team.
I started strong, with 1,900 words. The working title for my novel is Dragon Born, and here’s a snippet from the first chapter (I image each chapter opening with a short clip pulled from some fiction reference book)
During the spring equinox of his sixteenth year, a very odd notion struck Cedric Volans—awaken a dragon. This sudden urge was so persistent (and peculiar) that he did not know whether the impulse to perform a task which had killed, or driven mad, some of the most accomplished wizards of his day sprung out of his own longing to escape yet another arduous planting season, helping his father with the annual jewelweed crop, or if he should believe his life-long friend, Trenton, who had suggested . . .
(from Histories of the Dragon Born by Fferibush Newt)
“How else could such a crazy idea just pop into your head?” Trenton said. “A wizard must have put it there.”
This was similar to how Trenton explained away everything. Last fall, when his father was missing a quiver of arrows, he had blamed the theft on elves. When the neighbors found their motorcycle in a ditch with a dented gas can, he had accused goblins and their reckless driving habits. Now he was blaming Cedric’s dreams on wizards. As if elves, goblins, and wizards didn’t have better things to do than stealing arrows, crashing motorcycles, or depositing odd notions into people’s heads.
Luckily for Trenton, the local farmers were suspicious of faerie creatures, allowing him to get away with his tall tales. And probably a few lies. Cedric, on the other hand, was less inclined to believe his strange desire to awaken a dragon could be so easily explained away.
Recently watched Clash of the Titans with a friend of mine, and note, it was the old version, as in the 1981 movie with the mechanical owl, and not the remake done a few years ago.I haven’t seen that one, and don’t know if I ever will. I just love the original so much—it helped inspire my love of mythology.
One thing that always bugged me about the movie, though, is that Perseus is riding Pegasus on his quest. I suppose for the big screen that that is more dramatic than having him zoom around on winged sandals as he does in my retelling.
In myths, Pegasus is born from the blood of Medusa when she is slain, so this horse wasn’t even alive while Perseus was on his quest. But back during the Renaissance, painters started to depicted Perseus riding Pegasus. Again, they probably did it because it made for dramatic scenes. Myths have often been changed to make them more exciting.
Ever since, people always think that Perseus is the hero who rode Pegasus. But it was Bellepheron, another Greek hero. So as a bonus, I added the story of him slaying the Chimera to the end of my tale about Perseus. Not only will you get to follow Perseus on his quest to slay Medusa, but you will get to ride along with Bellepheron as he captures Pegasus and then battles the Chimera, a three-headed fire-breathing beast. Enjoy!
With my newest book, Adventures of Perseus, at the printer, I’ve been scheduling a few events to promote the book. Please come see me if you can.
Read and Signing
WHERE: Barnes and Noble in the Galleria Mall (3225 W 69th, Edina, MN 55435)
DATE: Nov 16th
TIME: 7:00 pm
Read and Signing
WHERE: Barnes and Noble in the Galleria Mall (3225 W 69th, Edina, MN 55435)
DATE: Nov 29th
TIME: 7:00 pm
Read and Signing
WHERE: Barnes and Noble in the Apache Mall (1201 12th Street SW, Rochester, MN 55902)
DATE: Dec 8th
My dad has completed and delivered my Free Little Library. Now I just need to get my official signage for it, install a post, plant it in the ground, and then fill it up with books. Soon . . .
My graphic novel retelling of of one of Kipling’s folk tales was selected for a Moonbeam Award. These awards celebrate books that inspire children to read and learn. Entries are judged by expert panels of educators, librarians, booksellers, and reviewers. And I’m excited to say that How the Elephant Got Its Trunk won a bronze medal in the graphic novel/comic book category. Thanks to Pedro Rodriquez for capturing my adaptation so wonderfully with his illustrative style.
It’s getting to be that time of year again, National Novel Writing month. I’m signed up, have an idea in mind, and just need to clear all my writing and editing projects from my schedule in November. It’s a great, exciting challenge. Hope some of you join me in it.
My dad continues to work on my Little Library. He’s finished the main box, and he’s now adding some decorative features—the siding.
It’s been a while since I’ve had a dog in my house—since my OGG (Original Good Girl) Zuki passed away, so I was thinking it was time to get back to fostering. I receive weekly updates on my “favorite” breeds from Midwest Animal Rescue and Service here in the Twin Cities, and my favorite breeds, if you can’t guess from past posts about dogs, are boxers and saint bernards.
Well, I received a note about Ginger, a boxer mix. Those eyes and that gray muzzle remind me a bit of Zuki, and I am found of those sweet, older dogs. So now I have a new resident at the homestead.
If she does well with me, and no one else adopts her, I’ll probably end up keeping her, especially since she loves to lay at my feet while I write.
Anyone who is familiar with my past books knows that I’m a huge fan a mythology. I’ve written some short introductory book about some of the most popular characters in Greek and Roman myths. I’ve also adapted the Perseus and Medusa story into a fantastically illustrated graphic novel.
Next up, Perseus’s story as a choose your path adventure.
This is just the initial concept for the cover.
Each summer, I pick a series of books to read on my week long camping trip in late July. Two years ago it was Harry Potter (I read 4 of the 7 books while camping), last year it was the Hunger Games series (had to read it before the movie game out), and this year it’s Game of Thrones.
I’ve already started digging into this series; I bought the first four books as a set for my Nook. But I’m not sure if I’ll buzz through these while up north. The writing is great and the story interesting so far, but the books are dense and not quite that riveting action type of stuff I usually bring with me. Not to mention, the four books amount to 3,500 pages. Glad I’m not toting them already with me—love my Nook!
I invited another foster dog into my home. Autumn is a boxer mix, and reminds a lot of Zuki. Actually, with her brindle coloring, she could be Zuki’s granddaughter. Both of them were absolute sweethearts and loved to chase squirrels.
I’ve decided to rename her Ty, short for Tiger. She’s has stripes and slinks about like a tiger. She also has made herself at home, just see the picture below.
Ty likes to curl up at my fee as I write—that’s where she is now, and I may have to adopt her as my writing companion.
Turned in my latest Tony Hawk story to my editor. The working title is The Fixer.
Summary: An inner-city kid, Gavin Cole, is sent to a school out in suburbia. He’s not sure he’ll fit in until he meets a couple fellow skaters, Lindsey and Timmy. Gavin’s a street skater, but he’s excited to join his new friends at the local skatepark to check out a halfpipe. Problems arise, though, when Gavin has a run in with one of the top, local skaters. But he has a secret talent. Gavin’s a whiz at fixing skateboards. While his skating abilities may not be enough to impress his new school mates, he skills at repairing skateboards could win him some new friends.
Shortly after moving into my house in St. Paul, I came across a neighbor with an unusual item in their yard. It was a small, house looking box with books in it. I’ve since learned that it’s a Free Little Library. These book exchanges are popping up everywhere, from Calgary, across the United States, to Rome.
Of course, I wanted one. What better use for old books? What better way to share all my extra copies of the books I have written, than a book exchange?
So during one of my dad’s visits, we walked by the neighbor’s Free Little Library. I was able to convinced my dad to take on the project of building one for me. He has the frame built.
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Remember a couple months ago where I was talking about a chair I picked up? It was a gift from one of my mentors and friends, Terry Davis, author of Vision Quest. After spending a day helping him clean out his pole shed one afternoon, he let me take an old beat up office chair as payment for my help.
I have since sanded down and refinished that chair with a dark walnut stain. It’s what I’m sitting on now, so I guess it’s time to start writing that masterpiece.