HENRYHERZ.COM → KidLit, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

By Henry, Josh & Harrison Herz


KidLit Authors at the LA Times Festival of Books

Pelican Publishing asked me to sign some books at their booth for the LA Times Festival of Books. I had never attended, and so was looking forward to experience “Bookstock”. I had a great time meeting some kidlit authors:


This made my day. I got to meet Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett (again). Too much awesome!


With James Burks, illustrator of The Monstore and author/illustrator of Bird & Squirrel.


Here is Debbie Diesen, author of The Pout Pout Fish, and Salina Yoon, author/illustrator of Found and Stormy Night.


Here is author/illustrator Andrea Zimmerman.


And here is yours truly in costume to lure customers. Read or die!


My Excellent Adventure at the Texas Library Association (TLA) 2015 Convention

My publisher, Pelican, flew me out to the Texas Library Association’s 2015 convention. TLA is the second largest such convention in the U.S., after ALA. It’s Comic-Con for librarians! I had a terrific time signing books, getting free books, getting books signed by authors I admire, and meeting lots of cool librarians and teachers. I was a kid in a candy shop. Below are photos of some of the talented KidLit writers and illustrators I met.

Highlights that I was not able to capture in photos included:

  • signing a book for a child with the cool name, Azul Estrella (blue star)
  • I approached Mac Barnett, who was wearing a name tag of “Harry N. Abrams”, and said he looked a lot like Mac Barnett. He concurred. We also agreed that he looked pretty good for someone who passed away years ago.
  • watching Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers sign The Day the Crayons Quit in parallel, Drew on the left side of the spread, and Oliver on the right. They needed to be efficient given how long the line was.
  • seeing Dan Yaccarino (the Italian Stallion) vs. Dan Gutman (the Kosher Butcher) verbally sparring to a standing room only crowd.

Larry Brimner – prolific author and all-around nice guy. I have an interview with him elsewhere on my blog.


Justin Chanda, aka very busy guy. Not only is he the editor of children’s imprints at Simon & Schuster, but I saw him setting stuff up, taking photos, etc., all with a big smile on his face.


Dianne De Las Casas – fellow Pelican author


Peggy Eddleman – author of the Sky Jumper series. I have an interview with her elsewhere on my blog.


Dan Gutman – funny and prolific author of Honus & Me, the My Weird School series, and the Genius Files series. I first met him at LA SCBWI 2012. I have an interview with him elsewhere on my blog.


Henry Herz – yours truly signing Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes at the Pelican booth


Molly Idle – Caldecott Honor-winning author/illustrator and all-around delight. She was on a KidLit panel I moderated at WonderCon 2015. I have an interview with her elsewhere on my blog. She hogs all the talent.


Cynthia Leitich Smith – NY Times bestselling author of the Feral and Tantalize series. I have an interview with her elsewhere on my blog.


Meg Medina – Pura Belpre medal and CYBILS Fiction winning author of Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. I’d vote for it based on the title alone.


Karen Santhanum – Up and coming picture book author/illustrator from San Diego.


Neil Schusterman – NY Times bestselling fantasy author. I met him at the 2014 ABLA Big Sur Writing Workshop. His voice sounds like Jon Favreau’s.


Jon Scieszka – Awesomely creative author, whose name I’ve spelled correctly.


Don Tate – picture book illustrator. He’s cool, plus his hair is the inverse of mine. Together, we are fully coifed. He completes me.


Eugene Yelchin – Newbery Honor-winning author illustrator. I first met him at LA SCBWI 2012.


Jane Yolen – Nebula, World Fantasy, Golden Kite and other award-winning author of Owl Moon. She contributed a story to my dark fantasy anthology, Beyond the Pale. I refer to her as a legendary writer, but she assures me that she does indeed exist.


“A good time was had by all.” – Tea Rex by Molly Idle

 Click to Tweet: My Excellent Adventure at the 2015 TLA Convention at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-Pq via @Nimpentoad

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Geeky Newborns Following in Their Nerdy Parents’ Footsteps

From http://www.boredpanda.com/geeky-newborn-baby-photography/

We can all pretend that a newborn’s first photoshoot is supposed to be all about the baby, or we can give in to our secret desire to dress babies as characters from our favorite fantasy and sci-fi movies, books and TV shows. It’s hard to tell who’s having more fun with these pop-culture newborn baby photos, the parents or the babies.

Before arranging such a photoshoot, just be sure that your baby is comfortable and that all of the materials being used are safe – but if you’re the parent of a newborn baby, you probably don’t have to be told that.

If you have a cute photo of your baby showing their (or their parents’) true nerdy colors, please add it to this list – and upvote your favorites, too!

#1 Baby Princess Leia

Baby Princess Leia

#2 Baby Mario

Baby Mario

#3 Baby Ninja Turtle

Baby Ninja Turtle

#4 Baby Spock

Baby Spock

#5 Baby Star Wars Jedi

Baby Star Wars Jedi

#6 Baby Ewok

Baby Ewok

#7 Baby Flash

Baby Flash

#8 Baby Harry Potter

Baby Harry Potter

#9 Baby Yoda

Baby Yoda

#10 Baby Gamer

Baby Gamer

#11 Baby Spiderman

Baby Spiderman

#12 Baby Olaf

Baby Olaf

#13 Baby Knight

Baby Knight

#14 Baby Batman And Baby Wonder Woman

Baby Batman And Baby Wonder Woman

#15 Baby Luke Skywalker

Baby Luke Skywalker

#16 Baby Doctor Who

Baby Doctor Who

#17 Baby Hobbit

Baby Hobbit

#18 Baby Batman

Baby Batman

#19 Baby Alice In Wonderland

Baby Alice In Wonderland

#20 Baby Wonderwoman

Baby Wonderwoman

#21 Baby Ninja Turtle

Baby Ninja Turtle

#22 Baby Luke

Baby Luke

Click to Tweet: Geeky Newborns Following in Their Nerdy Parents’ Footsteps at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-Pc via @Nimpentoad

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Interview with Young Adult fantasy author Kendall Kulper

Kendall Kulper writes historical fiction with a fantasy twist for teen readers and knows more about nineteenth century whaling than she ever imagined. Her debut YA novel, SALT & STORM was published by Little, Brown. She graduated from Harvard University with a degree in history and literature in 2008 and spent several years as a journalist before deciding to write full-time. She grew up in the wilds of New Jersey and now lives in Boston with her husband and chronically-anxious Australian Shepherd mix, Abby.


What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

There are so many challenging parts to writing, but one that I’ve dealt with lately is keeping my head clear from outside voices and opinions. For example, I don’t really read my reviews, good or bad. I trust certain people’s opinions about my writing—my editor and my agent, my beta readers and critique partners—but otherwise I find it really hard to trust my own instincts when I’m constantly wondering what other people will think.

Henry: Yes, they say that the only thing more perilous than reading reviews of one’s books is responding online to those reviews. That’s why they make chocolate and vanilla.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

I think writers tend to be observers and tend to think about things from many different angles. Writing really encourages empathy, because the whole process of writing requires you putting yourself in a stranger’s situation and imagining a completely different perspective from your own. I try to take that point of view and carry it into my daily life, and, I hope, it’s made me a more empathetic and caring person.

Henry: Wait, my picture books can be from the perspective of someone other than myself!? ☺ I agree that writing makes us more sensitive to universal truths.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

The “I’m doing this for a book” excuse has taken me on some really wonderful adventures, and my favorite so far was a research trip I did out to Arizona. I’ve long wanted to write a Western and sort of randomly decided to go to Arizona to check out the geography and history, and I am so happy I did—within a week we drove from 90-degree desert border towns to 30-degree mountain forests and finished with a few days hiking in the Grand Canyon. It’s something I never would have done had I not thought about writing a Western, and because I was book researching, I paid so much more attention than I otherwise would have to the sights, sounds, smells, and feeling of the places we visited.

Henry: That gives me an idea. I shall now go research a picture book about vacationing in Monte Carlo. Thanks, Kendall!

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Read, of course. Read everything and anything you can get your hands on, and try to read it not as a reader but a writer: ask yourself what works and why and what doesn’t work and why. Try to pay attention to what things about reading that you love and put that passion into your writing. It doesn’t always feel fun, but if it’s not satisfying, you’re doing something wrong.

Henry: A lion is the product of all the zebras it’s eaten, and an author is the product of all the books they’ve read.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

If we’re talking writing quotes, I love this one by John Cleese: “This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If just you keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious.” It’s a nice reminder that the best ideas can come when you let your brain rest, relax, and play.

Henry: Well, if we’re doing John Cleese quotes, then I must add “It’s just a flesh wound!”

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

I definitely need to be in a very specific mind space. I like to wake up, have some tea, read the papers, do the crossword, and sort of ease into writing. My brain has to wake up and focus on other things first before I can even think about writing.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I would have the power to instantly teleport anywhere in the world, so I could visit all my far-flung friends and family any time I wanted.

Henry: Nice. Teleporting: the greenest of transportation modalities.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Well, right now I’m busy with my newborn, so sleep is my number one non-writing priority. But when the baby is occupied, some of my favorite things to do are go running with my dog and cook up multi-course meals—they’re both great ways to unwind, especially when my brain is all turned around from thinking about my novel!

This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.

Click to TweetInterview with Young Adult fantasy author Kendall Kulper at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-P6 via @Nimpentoad

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Interview with picture book author, Laura Sassi

Laura Sassi has a passion for telling humorous stories in prose and rhyme. Her poems, stories, articles, and crafts have appeared in Highlights for Children, Cricket, Ladybug, Spider and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. and elsewhere. GOODNIGHT, ARK is her first picture book.


Tell us about your debut picture book. 

GOODNIGHT, ARK is a rollicking, yet ultimately restful, rhymer about bedtime on Noah’s ark. As the storm escalates various pairs of animals get scared and dash into Noah’s bed for comfort. The story is light-hearted and playful. Illustrator Jane Chapman, who also illustrated Karma Wilson’s BEAR SNORES ON, adds to the fun with her warm and humorous illustrations.

What are some rhyming tips you can offer other authors?

Writing picture books in rhyme can be challenging because there’s more to it than just rhyming. The rhyming must work within the structure of meter and verse. Sometimes writers are tempted to invert words to make the rhyme or meter work, but this only makes the piece feel forced.  Another common mistake is to let the rhyme drive the plot so that things happen simply because it’s convenient for rhyming purposes. So, my biggest piece of advice is to make sure the story comes first! If you’re having a hard time making it rhyme naturally, maybe it’s better told in prose.  But if you have a good ear, a lot of patience, and a passion for playing with words, go for it!  =)

Henry: I tell beginning writers to visit http://www.DontDoRhyme.com (not a real website). It IS much harder. Then, of course, I don’t listen to my own advice. My debut picture book was MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES. Do as I say, not as I do.

I’ve seen some less-than-perfect rhymes published. What is your reaction when you see that?

Rhyming poorly is akin to singing off key. It’s hard to enjoy. At the same time, reading poor rhyme brings out my passion to keep working at my craft.  So I guess as a rhymer, I find it motivating to make sure my poems and stories are in tune.

Henry: That’s like my bizarre instinct to pull weeds even on yards that are not mine.

Would you tell us a little about Zonderkidz?

Zonderkidz is the children’s imprint of Zondervan, which is part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Zonderkidz publishes bibles, devotionals, picture books, chapter books and more. They are based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information, you can visit their website at http://www.zonderkidz.com.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

Last year, after reading some of my poetry to my daughter’s third grade class, one of her adorable classmates shyly handed me a very crinkled scrap of paper and asked for my autograph. That was the first time anyone had asked me for that. I happily obliged. Now, I always carry a pen with me, just in case.  =)

Henry: I give away life-sized cardboard standees of myself to whoever will take them…

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? 

Writing is a long journey, with many opportunities for growth and improvement along the way.  My biggest bit of advice would be not to rush the process by sending manuscripts out to publishers prematurely.  Rather, keep honing your craft, day by day. Enjoy the journey, rather than focusing too much on the final goal of publication.

Henry: That’s good advice, but not so easy to implement. I find myself thinking that a manuscript is done about ten times before it’s really done.

Do you have any favorite quotes? 

I love the quote, from Antoine de St. Exupery’s THE LITTLE PRINCE, “Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”  Writing for very young children keeps my imagination alive as I seek to see the world from the their perspective. Children live each day so much more intensely than many adults, fully absorbed in the wonder of each moment.  That’s how I choose to live life as well – soaking up the richness of each day. I hope that comes through in the vividness of my writing.

Henry: Writing lets me visit with monsters of all shapes and sizes. I’ve never left that distant island in WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

Hmmm… well my son often observes that I tap my fingers and murmur as I write. What I’m actually doing is filling my senses with the rhythm of the words, but my children find it mortifying, especially if done in the presence of anyone outside the family.  That’s not really a ritual, I suppose, but it is a defining characteristic of my writerly self.

Henry: I use dots and dashes to compare the emphasized and non-emphasized syllables of a couplet.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I’d love to have super-cleaning powers so that, with a snap of my fingers, all the laundry, dishes, floors etc. could be spotless, leaving wide open time slots for writing.

Henry: This can also be achieved by obtaining a brownie (look it up!), or via the collection of minions.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? 

I love reading, going for walks with my husband (and dog), doing art projects, or baking with my daughter, and talking about the meaning of life (and other light-hearted subjects) with my fourteen year old son.

Henry: Please let me know if you figure out the meaning of life.

Where can readers find your work?

GOODNIGHT, ARK is available at bookstores everywhere. You can also keep an eye out for my stories and poems in past and/or future issues of kids’ magazines including Highlights for ChildrenLadybugSpider, and Clubhouse Jr. I also write weekly on my blog at www.laurasassitales.wordpress.com. Parents and teachers, especially, might be interested in the series I’m posting now on extension activities for GOODNIGHT, ARK.

This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.

Click to Tweet: Interview with picture book author, Laura Sassi at xxx via @Nimpentoad


Low Polygon Count Paper Animals

By Carolina and Juan from http://www.boredpanda.com/lowpoly-paper-animal-sculptures-guardabosques

Carolina and Juan launched Guardabosques (‘forest ranger’ in Spanish) – an illustration and design studio based in Buenos Aires.

Nature was a theme we both loved when we started this. Juan studies natural sciences and the things he learned during his classes influenced our work. Firstly, we started with the birds and then continued with the mammals while at the moment we’re working on the underwater creatures. We love nature’s theme and its endless possibilities. We also try to generate awareness of taking care of the natural world as we did with the paper birds or the endangered Argentinian animals made from cardboard.

We love working with paper. The lowpoly animals we make usually start in a 3D software, then are transformed on paper to be cut, and finally to be reassembled in real life. We also like to work on paper from scratch, cutting forms and drawing some details on it. The results are pretty different but we like to be able combine both processes when we can.

Spectacled bear


Tanuki or racoon dog

Green bee-eater

Humpback whale


Red fox

Feb 2014 inner cover for Ohlala magazine


Melanic wolf

Anuario de Ilustradores: woods

Anuario de Ilustradores: dinosaurs

Giant cardboard animals installation

The explorer


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Interview with Sci-Fi & Fantasy Author Gini Koch

Gini Koch writes the fast, fresh and funny Alien/Katherine “Kitty” Katt series for DAW Books, the Necropolis Enforcement Files series, and the Martian Alliance Chronicles series for Musa Publishing. Alien in the House, Book 7 in her long-running Alien series, won the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award as the Best Futuristic Romance of 2013. Alien Collective, Book 9, released in May, and Universal Alien in December. As G.J. Koch, she writes the Alexander Outland series, and she’s made the most of multiple personality disorder by writing under a variety of other pen names as well, including Anita Ensal, Jemma Chase, A.E. Stanton, and J.C. Koch. Currently, Gini has stories featured in the Unidentified Funny Objects 3, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens, and Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthologies, and, writing as J.C. Koch, in Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters, The Madness of Cthulhu, Vol. 1, and A Darke Phantastique anthologies. She will also have a story in the first book in an X-Files anthology series coming out in 2015.


For what age audience do you write?

I write for pretty much anyone, but I don’t write children’s or middle grade, and while I think my books are fine for mature YA readers, I don’t, as of yet, write YA. My main genres are Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Mystery/Suspense, but I write under a variety of pen names, so I kind of cover all the genre bases. The Alien series has a high heat level (call it a Hard R), but everything else so far is PG-13.

Tell us about your latest book.

It’s the best book ever and a deal at twice the price!

No? Okay then, the 10th book in my Alien/Katherine “Kitty” Katt series, Universal Alien, is a book I’ve been building to for the entire series so far. It’s also a pivotal book in that it’s going to allow me to open things up and pretty much do whatever I want, whenever I want. Within good storytelling reason, of course.

It’s also the book that reveals the true identity of the Mastermind, which is a reveal that fans have been awaiting for several books now.

For those who haven’t picked up this series yet, start with Touched by an Alien. Trust me on this one. The series follows Kitty as she discovers the Roswell rumors are true, but with a twist – the aliens are here to help us and, as a side benefit, they’re all gorgeous. They also have talents and abilities that are far superior to those of humankind. They’re also at the center of every plot or conspiracy theory going. Kitty ends up using her natural talents – sarcastic wit, bravery, vast knowledge of pop culture, in-depth knowledge of comics, and love of rock and roll – to save the day. Basically, if Kitty’s around, hijinks ensue.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

Entertainment, enjoyment, laughter, thrills, chills, and perhaps a few thoughts about political, religious, racial, and socio-economic issues. But mostly entertainment. Because that’s my job.

Henry: That’s a lot! Clearly a bargain at the price.

Two of your books are titled Touched by an Alien, and Alien in the Family. Will there be other TV show-based titles in your future?

Probably. I tend to go for pop culture-ish titles, though not always. My short story in the Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, for example, is entitled “All the Single Ladies”. So more TV or movie references are inevitable.

Henry: I look forward to Babylon 90210 and Downton Asteroid. You’re welcome.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Meeting all my deadlines on time. Because I’m a gold medal, world class procrastinator and, happily, I have a lot of deadlines.

Henry: And here I’ve exacerbated things by asking you to do an interview.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

Meeting your deadlines is extremely important. But I honestly knew that one already.

Probably the most powerful lesson is that what you write matters, many times more than you realize. I’ve had readers in terrible circumstances tell me that my books were what got them through the hard times. That’s a wonderful, and very humbling, feeling.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

Every single fan interaction. They’re all great, and I’d never have experienced them, or met all the wonderful people I have, if not for being a published author.

Henry: That’s right. We would never have met at a writers conference. And our lives would have been forever diminished. *swoons*

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Never give up, never surrender. And remember that grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax, and word usage matter, especially to agents and editors.

Henry: Wait. Editors care about your writing ability!?

Do you have any favorite quotes?

Oh, of course. These are probably my all-time faves.

“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying.” Woody Allen

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.” W.C. Fields

“Never give up. Never, never give up. Never, never, ever give up.” Winston Churchill (yes, I know it’s a contradiction to the Fields quote. What can I say? I’m a woman of many moods, me.)

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ ” Eleanor Roosevelt

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

Not really. I need to have music playing, anything in the broad spectrum of rock and roll, and definitely with lyrics. Other than that, finding the right band, song, or playlist for a book is, for me, the most important step. Beyond that, my only ritual is to sit my butt in the chair and write. That’s the only ritual that ensures success.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Because I write superhero fiction with my Alien series, I’ve been asked this question a lot and so have given it a lot of thought. Therefore, I choose Hyperspeed. I could get so much more done if I could do it faster than someone can blink.

Henry: The thought of you with Hyperspeed is a bit intimidating. :)

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

Oh, the hard question. Hard in that it’s really hard for me to limit it to three. I’m going to choose three who are dead, because I actually get to dine with many authors I admire these days. But I can’t run into these three at a convention. So I choose:

Robert Benchley, Charles Dickens & Mark Twain

The why is that Benchley is my favorite humorist of all time, Dickens is the reason we authors get paid, and Twain was the best social humorist of his and probably any other day. And they’re three of my all-time favorites. And I also think they’d be fun to eat with, since each would be trying to one-up the others in terms of witticisms and commentary.

If I got a bonus author, by the way, it would be Arthur Conan Doyle because Sherlock Holmes. I mean, ‘nuff said on that one, right?

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Wow, another tough one. While I love vampires, werewolves, and really all the mythical creatures out there, I’m going to have to go with drop-dead gorgeous aliens who are enamored of humans and able to mate successfully (and frequently) with said humans. Because those aliens helped give me a writing career. So I’m partial to them.

Henry: So, you’re a Fifty Shades of Green kinda’ gal? :)

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Wait. You can do things other than write? I didn’t get that memo!

Henry: You are correct. It was a trick question.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

Beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great-great grandmother, great-great-great to infinity grandmother, pet mother, and author. We know she’s taking over, wherever she’s going.

Where can readers find your work?

Everywhere! No, really, everywhere. All my books are available in e-formats, and most are available in physical format as well. The Alien series is in pretty much all bookstores, too.

But it’s easiest to find that everywhere via my Bibliography page at my website: http://www.ginikoch.com/bibliography.htm We try to keep it updated as regularly as we can, but do forgive us when deadlines mean you know where my books are faster than I do.

This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.

Click to Tweet: Interview with Sci-Fi & Fantasy Author Gini Koch at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-OL via @Nimpentoad


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