In my book “Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo”, Cody’s class is going on a field trip to the Onmi-zoo, or so they think. The school custodian, who is driving the bus, turns down a dark alley. He drives the bus in to a lake and it turns into a pirate ship, of which the custodian is 1st mate and their teacher is the captain. They are going on an expedition to Host Isle find some strange, but wonderful beasts. On the way, they encounter a giant sea monster with an exotic taste for chocolate chip cookies. Once they arrive on Host Isle and began their search, they come across the Orange Arang-a-roo. They also find some other very different animals, all of which want to go live at the Omni-zoo. It was an amazing trip, but did it really happen or was it just a dream? Arrrgh!
How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?
The idea for Cody began to develop about a year and a half before I started writing. The idea started as “Confused Zoo” but I couldn’t get it to mesh. I put Cody and one other character back in the back of my brain and the rest of the stuff in a folder. I developed a few new characters, but could not get the story going. So, I took my ideas and refilled them back into the back of my brain and let things cook. A few months later I became bored while my students were taking a test. It was at this point when it all came together.
How long did it take you to write your book?
Please remember that I write picture books, so keeping that in mind, from the point where all of my thoughts came together, it took about five hours of sporadic writing to get down the basics. After that it took another 2-3 hours to add specifics, like the ending. After I was satisfied with the story, I put it away for about a month. I then took it out for editing and reviewed it like I was reading it for the first time. So, if you look at the total time from initial concept to completion – at least a year. If you look at actual work, then maybe 15-16 hours.
What is your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
Since I work full time, have a 3 year old and we foster parent a newborn, I do not have a writing schedule per say. If I have free time after 9:00 pm I may write down some ideas or if we are traveling to the local big cities, I may have time to jot down a few thoughts. (Usually my wife drives everywhere we go.)
What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on an idea for another “Cody” book that includes the discovery of another realm. Book 2 of the series is at the publisher and involves a rescue from the zoo. Book 3 awaits editing and involves a little girl that can change shapes.
At what age did you discover writing?
I figured out how to write a passable paper the second time I went to college (I was 40ish), but I really discovered writing around the youthful age of 55. It took another couple of years before anyone else agreed with me.
Does writing come easy for you?
Yes and no. I’ve not experienced writers block, but I have experienced what I would call situational block. When I’m working on a Cody book ideas just seem to flow. I may have to rewrite a few things to get the correct idea across, but it usually comes easy. What has given me difficulty is real life perspective through the eyes of a small child. I may have my immature “guy” moments, but 5 years old can be really tough.
How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?
I currently have three stories in my thoughts. Along with working on book four of Cody, I am working on a children’s picture book on adoption. I’m trying to write through the eyes of a five year old. I also want to write a book on fostered/adopted children for teens. Here I want to present actual adoption stories – both good and bad.
What do you like to read? What is your favorite genre?
I really like adolescent science fiction/fantasy. Usually, the authors steer away from profanity, extreme violence, and sexual situations. I like magic, elves and quests, but going from realm to realm is fun too.
What writer influenced you the most?
I really like the style of Piers Anthony and his Xanth series.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
To aspiring young (and old) authors I would say, write about what you know and enjoy. One you write something, put it away for several weeks and read it as if you had never read it before. It may surprise you
What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?
Take care of yourself and your family, but don’t forget the orphans and fatherless.
My wife and I have raised 2 daughters and are now raising a third daughter whom we adopted last year. We have also been involved in the lives of 17 other children that were in our home for foster care.
Where do you get the names for your characters?
Names are fun and usually mean something special. I use kids that I have taught, daughters, grandsons, and friends. Family can be cool because you can often capture their personality in the character and no one really gets offended.
Do you have a saying or motto for your life and/or as a writer?
This comes from Colossians 3: 23. What ever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord.
Where can we find out more about your book?
It is available at Second Wind Publishing, Barnhill Books in Winston-Salem, NC and on Amazon