I’m a lover of stories, and my own story is a great one. I’ve had 6 NY agents over 25 years, some of the biggest, and in many genres, including picture books, adult novels, adult non-fiction, and children’s novels. I sold non-fiction, but I could never sell fiction. The Methuselah Parrot went out to hundreds of agents and as many publishers as I could submit to.
I took it to editors at conferences too.
My sister, Connie, said I needed a one-word snappy title. I didn’t have one, but thought about it for two weeks. I was watching a video, and the word, WhipEye, came into my head. I thought it was weird, but the more I thought about it, I liked it. But it didn’t have anything to do with the book, characters, or setting. So I called the staff in the book WhipEye, invented backstory for it, and suddenly the book felt complete.
WhipEye was taken on by a small publisher in 2014, who a month before publication had financial problems and decided to give me 3 pennies/book royalty. That was against the contract.
Since I had already paid for a private artist and copy editor, I walked away from the publisher and formed KiraKu Press and published it myself.
Now a year later WhipEye has won the International Book Award for Children’s Fiction. How cool is that? Plus WhipEye is a Top Pick on LitPick, the number one site for kids reviewing books. To have kids reviewing your book, and loving it, is a great thing. WhipEye was also awarded a Notable in Shelf Unbound, and bronze finalist in eLit Book Awards.
Most of my writing includes my passions for nature, wildlife, water, and adventure. I’ve sailed all over the South Pacific and Caribbean, and was lost at sea for 3 days on my first charter out of Key West. That was pretty funny—and another story.
I live by intuition, another element in WhipEye. I teach in special education, and work hard to build self-esteem and get students to trust themselves. I was able to include those aspects in WhipEye naturally, so the reader isn’t hit over the head with those themes. I grew up reading my mom’s books, Bourne Conspiracy and other thrillers, so I write thrillers—even though WhipEye has a lot of my cherished values for young people, it’s a fast-paced ride that reluctant young readers love. It’s the kind of book I’d like to read, especially when I was younger. I’m very proud to say that adults have loved the book too—it’s a great feeling to please so many readers of varying ages with a story.
I am an environmentalist, and have cared deeply about the planet (nature and wildlife) since age fifteen. Thus, I mention 100 different species of wild animals in WhipEye. It’s my way of educating young readers without their knowing it. I wanted to create a protagonist who is an animal nerd, Samantha, so the reader sees the world through the eyes of someone in love with wildlife, and nature, and isn’t attached to electronics. I try to get my students into nature and the outdoors every chance I get, and hope they will do more on their own. There are also themes of love in the story, and what that means when we’re faced with a choice of helping others or doing what is right.
WhipEye is an urban fantasy, and I’ve always loved fantasy of any kind. When I was younger I read Lord of the Rings, Sabriel, and the Thomas Covenant series. I never mind a dark story, so long as the outcome is worthwhile, and happy to a degree. That’s my vision of life, that we all suffer and go through pain, but at the end of the day we learn and grow and become happier for it. I went through a 25 year serious illness, and now I am done with it, all with no regrets. It changed who I am, all for the better—another long story.
In WhipEye, Samantha, the main character, and her spunky side-kick, Jake, are grieving losses, but they come out better for it. I also like to joke and kid around with my students, so it’s important to me to have humor in most of my writing. Charlie, the wise-cracking thousand-year-old parrot in WhipEye, adds humor to the story so that even when things are tough for Sam and Jake, sometimes there is a smile attached.
For other passions I love to cook, swim, sail, SCUBA, hike, and do kung fu (black belt), and I’m close to my parents and life-long friends. Most of my passions are thrown into my writing at some point. I’m currently finishing up Book 2, Gorgon, WhipEye Chronicles, which should be out Sept. 1, 2015. My goal is a movie for WhipEye, and I’m talking to a producer soon. He saw my You Tube WhipEye book trailer and liked it. How great it that? I don’t know where all this will lead, but intuition is guiding it, and as long as it’s a blast to write, I’ll keep at it.
Right now I have another environmental book proposal out, a non-fiction book I just finished, and a YA series that I’m ready to begin putting out. It’s all exciting, and I’m glad I’m off summers from education so I can write. A great day for me is writing, swimming, seeing friends, and sharing great food. I’m the luckiest guy in the world. (Though luck had nothing to do with it.)
I applied for a CHASE $100,000 grant for 3 book projects that focus on nature/environment and stress-free living—I have a long history in many modalities for self-awareness, teach a cutting-edge class in this area to students, and have been a long-time nature enthusiast and published a book about environmental issues in 1994, Green Essentials.
I have a great chance at the grant because of the International Book Award, and my decades and background in education and SEL (social emotional learning).
To be eligible for the grant however, I need to get 250 votes from the ‘community’—workplace, writing collegues, friends, etc.
If you are interested in participating in my endeavour and would like to vote of me, please click on the logo or link below and click on a button.
It will ask permission to view your Facebook Public Profile, but will not post on your page.
I need the 250 votes by June 19.
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