Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Self Published Taboo

As the release of the second Skunk-Guy book is now underway. I find myself examining options to promote it. I have set out a local press release, (that is now available on the NEWS page at skunk-guy.com). I am scouring the book review websites, which I will submit copies for their review. But I have noticed a myriad of reader blogs that are wonderful. Their review of books comes from their love of reading. They are honestly critical and supportive with each book they discuss. These web-sites are really a great resource for finding a good book or book series or what books to avoid.
I would like to put a challenge out to these reading blogsters. Upon reading your blogs I have been exposed to books that I have never even heard of that have proven to be wonderful finds.
All of these books are published by mainstream publishers however. What I would like to propose is that you would devote some small portion of your reviews and examine some self published books. Now granted their probably is a lot of bad stuff out there but there is also probably some hidden gems. I would like to think that Skunk-Guy would be a gem, but I'll never know until someone puts it through the ringer. By giving some attention to the self published market you might actually open doors for some good books that never got a chance.
It's risky, I know. I don't think a blog tour would be appropriate but if you honestly looked around for books that were self published, every now and again you just might be pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Slime Saga Submitted For Your Scrutiny.

In the literary world when an author releases a new book they have a party and celebrate the launch and aspiring success of the book. I intern am but a humble author and the launch of the latest Skunk-Guy novel “The Sensational Slime Saga” will be heralded far more modestly.
The book is currently available at the Skunk-Guy web-site http://www.skunk-guy.com/ but it should show up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble before Thanksgiving, just in time for Christmas, the perfect stinking stocking stuffer.
Now that the book is available I would appreciate any feedback that you the readers may care to express.
Reviews are always a risky thing to ask for because you face the possibility of rejection. But I think that an honest review of what you thought about the book is really a compliment in itself. Because the reader took the book seriously enough to read and think about what they read tells the author that what they wrote is important.
So go get some goldfish crackers, maybe some popcorn and a soda and give this new gooey book a read and have your own private book release party. Then let me know what you think.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Coming Soon Skunk-Guy II

In just a few weeks the official release of the second Skunk-Guy novel will be available. It has been an intense few months getting the proof copies and going over them with a fine tooth comb. As an artist I continually find things that I want to improve. Working and reworking the illustrations, checking the text for a better way to have written something, reviewing the strength and consistency of the characters, etc…
I have a few thank-you’s to dispense not the least of which is my editor Lauren Nichols. From the very start, when I presented Lauren with the original manuscript for what would eventually become Norman & The Stinking Space Goo, she has been candid and thorough with every thing that she has done for me. She has really helped me to understand and write to the young readers who will be reading about Skunk-Guy. My Wife Cindy has been very supportive in giving me the time I have needed to tinker away at this. Cindy has also scoured the manuscript herself pulling out grammatical glitches helping to make the story shine. I would also like to give a nodd of graditute to Maureen McCozzi who contributed a special note at the end of the book.
Here is an advanced peek at the cover of this epic sequel.
The Sensational Slime Saga picks right up where Norman & The Stinking Space Goo left off. Norman has his stink power and he is trying to make a name for himself as a superhero. It turns out a bit tougher than he first thought. He’s attacked by a girl-scout troupe and gets walloped by a women he tried to rescue. On top of that a strange gloppy creature slithers up from below the street. This slime creature leaves a path of destruction wherever it goes, giving a whole new meaning to the expression “Jumpin’ crud!”
For those of you who have been waiting patiently it won’t be long now. This latest Skunk-Guy novel will be available the second week in October barring any unforeseen delays.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Reviews Are In

It has been a week now since my visit to Central Lutheran School. The students have done their part to tell the internet universe what they thought of the first Skunk-Guy novel. I found their reviews scattered throughout several websites. It was very similar to hunting for Easter eggs. I hope I didn't miss any.
Over all I am delighted that the kids enjoyed the book. The reviews were honest and enthusiastic. Many of them mentioned the parts of the story that they personally liked, and they weren't shy about mentioning anything negative. Many noted that when the story started out they weren't sure about it, but that it took them by surprise.
I would like to give a personal thank you to the kids whose reviews I found on line.
Gabriel
Abby
Alex
Ohndrea
Maddie
Kylie
Tori Bontrager
Christina Lewis
Keegan Holle
Katie Strahm
Kristen Eiden
Brianna Bowman
Garrett Bricker
If I have missed anyone elses review please let me know.
If you would like to post a review on your own, you can check out either of these websites;
http://www.yabookscentral.com/cfusion/index.cfm?fuseAction=books.newReview
http://www.booksunlimited.ie/review.asp?ISBN=9780615151410
or find a website on your own that will post your review. Just make sure you let me know where I can find it. I am very interested in who is reading the book and what they thought.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Next Generation Skunk-Scouts


I spent Friday morning with 40 students at Central Lutheran School in New Haven Indiana. They had all just read Norman & The Stinking Space Goo, and were eager to discuss it with me.
It was a real treat for me to get to meet these kids. They all were very enthusiastic and loaded with questions. “How long did it take you to write the book?” Did you draw your own illustrations?” “Why did you set your story in Fort Wayne?” Then the questions got more personal, “Did you read comic books when you were a kid?” “Are you Norman?” “Who is Nemo?”
My answers were simple. As I mentioned before I used Fort Wayne because I was living there when I created Skunk-Guy and it has a rich history to draw from. It took about three months to write the actual book you see here, but I spent close to thirty years perfecting the idea and developing the characters. Yes, I do all the illustrations myself.
On a more personal level, yes I did read comic books when I was a young kid, and I still do. Well, let’s just say that Norman is modeled after me, only I would like to think that he is more of a klutz than I am. And Nemo was my Grandmother. She was a pretty special grandma to me and I have always called her Nemo. She passed away a little more than ten years ago now. Dedicating the book to her was my tip of the hat to her.
Several of the kids had developed games based on the book. Three of them were board games. It is such a joy to see that the art of board game design has not disappeared in this age of computer and video games.
One of the games was based on colored cards that directed you to the appropriate colored space on the board. There was a black box in the center that you could be sent to and hoped to avoid. Along the way you were quizzed about various smells and odors. The second game looked like a map of the school neighborhood. You traveled through the map by the roll of the dice and when you landed on any space with a students name on it you had to answer one of the questions that that student had written about the book. Tough questions like; “What was the 6th word on page 95 in the 3rd line,” answer: “him.” The third game was centered around a motley collection of super villains. If you landed on a black space you drew a card to see which villain you were going to have to fight and then you threw a dice to determine the outcome of the battle.
The forth game was not a board game but a simple smell & guess it game. It was a game that could be used by any one, in fact it would be a wonderful party game. They gave me a written copy of the rules they came up with so that I could post them at http://www.skunk-guy.com/.
The students were then told that if any one wanted to post a review of the book on line that they could get an extra 200 points toward their grade. I about fell over that was music to my ears. I was hoping that if the kids enjoyed the book that they may pass the word on by posting a review somewhere. But to make it a project for them to improve their grade was an exciting surprise. I have set the following web addresses on the skunk-guy website for the kids to post their reviews:
http://www.booksunlimited.ie/review.asp?ISBN=9780615151410
My only regret for the morning was that I took my camera and then got so wrapped up in our discussions that I forgot to take any pictures. I wanted to post some here. If any of the students from there read this blog entry, I would love it if you could send me a picture of your group or any of the games you designed. You can e-mail any pictures you come up with to this e-mail address skunkguy@thestinkingstalker.com
We talked about the further adventures of the Stinking Stalker and the production of the second book. The next Volume The Sensational Slime Saga should be coming out about the time they get back to school in the fall. There is even a preliminary picture of the front cover on the NEWS page of the Skunk-Guy web site. I look forward to going back to Central Lutheran High School to discuss book two with them. And more than likely swear them all in to the Skunk Squad.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Origins

The origin story of any superhero is a critical part of their legacy. Skunk-Guy’s story is no less important. Like many of the hero’s before him his tale has gone through many incarnations. I have had thirty years to tinker with it and it has been a creative challenge to find just the right scenario.
I toyed with the idea of Norman being sprayed by a radio active skunk. (A great idea, but too similar to someone else’s story.) Then there was the brilliant flash I had, about morphing with a skunk during a space-alien abduction. (Too gruesome, remember the Fly.) I plotted out the whole course of putting Norman and the earth in the middle of an intergalactic war. (Way too complicated.) I finally settled for simplicity.
Now the histories of all of the main stream superheroes have some trauma motivating them to do the deed and right the wrong, Spider-man loses his uncle, Batman lost his parents and Superman had his entire home planet obliterated. None of these tragedies would fit with a character called The Stinking Stalker.
Instead I opted for a theme utilized many years earlier, before Superman made his appearance. That of the lanky dreamer so filled with stories of knights in shining armor, that he mounts his own steed with lance in hand, in order to do battle with an army of windmills. Yes, the theme has been done before, but not of recent memory, at least not to any great effect.
Take this basic idea and move it into a domestic setting, introduce a few simple sci-fi elements and you have the formula for "Norman & The Stinking Space Goo". The official origin story of Skunk-Guy: The Stinking Stalker.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Renovated Hero

Having actually lived the life of the Stinking Stalker around the middle of the 1970’s, I have a lot of odd and nutty experiences to draw from in creating the stories for this series. Throughout the years as I would tell the tale of this Aromatic Hero the reaction was always one of wonder and laughter. The character of Skunk-Guy easily won the admiration of all, and the listeners would inevitably beg to be considered for the Skunk Squad. It was plainly obvious that there was still a spark of life in this legacy, and so I began the task of reinventing The Stinking Stalker for the printed page.
There were certain elements from my experience that I decided up front must be maintained. The first being the time period. The nineteen seventies was a gaudy and awkward period. It was a time when technology was nowhere near what we have today. The biggest video game on the market at the time was a thing called PONG. This presents our hero with the challenge of doing more leg work in his investigation of things. He couldn’t just Google something and get the answer. This is why there is no PC in Wendal’s bedroom. The second element was the place. Fort Wayne, Indiana was the actually stomping grounds of the original Stinking Stalker. There were so many historical and special events that took place, I wanted to make certain that they would be a part of this new phase of the legend. The third element came through the radio. When Skunk-Guy was regularly interviewed on the air, listeners would call in and add to the fun. Their enthusiasm was very much like a twisted version of bat mania from the 1960’s. I wanted to make sure that this form of interaction would be continued and so I constructed http://www.skunk-guy.com/.
I wanted the humor of Skunk-Guy to be genuine, coming mainly from the characters and their relationships and not stereo-typical super-hero clich├ęs. That’s the main reason that Skunk-Guy isn’t mentioned in the title of the first novel. It’s really about Norman the boy behind the mask. What kind of an imaginative kid could take an absolutely ridiculous situation and turn it into a noble crusade. Villains and monsters will come and go, but the hero should stay with us long after the story is over, no matter how much of a klutz he is.