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Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


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Young San Diego authors publish conservation-themed kid’s book

The Carmel Valley (San Diego) father-sons writing team has done it again. Henry, Josh (13) and Harrison Herz (11) just published their second book, Twignibble. Twignibble is a 1000-word easy reader for kids in 2nd-4th grade that’s Frog & Toad meets MacGuyver. It will appeal to animal-loving kids and to parents who support conservation (and who want to encourage their kids to be empathetic and resourceful).

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Twignibble the sloth learns that his animal friends are facing threats to their habitats, and races to help them. The mechanically-inclined Twignibble, knowing he could never walk to his friends in time, builds a solar-powered helicopter, flies all over the world, and engineers devices he hopes will help each of his animal friends.

View the 30-second  Twignibble book trailer.

The wonderful independent bookstore Mysterious Galaxy Books will be hosting a book release party for Twignibble from 2-4 pm on Sunday, August 4. They are located at 7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite #302, San Diego, CA 92111 ~ 858-268-4747. The Herz men will be there signing copies of Twignibble. Also in attendance will be James Morris, local teen author of Skybound and Water Tower.

Henry Herz is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and writes for the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner. He and his young co-authors’ first book was the fantasy early chapter book Nimpentoad. It has earned 86 Amazon 5-star ratings so far. Nimpentoad has reached as high as #8 in Amazon Best Sellers large print sci-fi & fantasy, and #1 in Kindle Best Sellers large print sci-fi & fantasy. The father-sons team has been featured in Young Entrepreneur, Wired GeekDad, CNN iReport, Fictional Frontiers, the Warner Brothers’ website for The Hobbit movie, and TheOneRing.net. The trio is looking forward to attending this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.

If you live in San Diego, we hope you’ll come out to meet the authors and enjoy the great selection of books offered by Mysterious Galaxy Books.


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Interview with ‘Wig in the Window’ author Kristen Kittscher

Kristen Kittscher is the debut author of the ‘The Wig in the Window’, the first in a hilarious new mystery series for kids coming June 18 from Harper Children’s. A former middle school English teacher and graduate of Brown University, she works as a writing tutor in Pasadena.

Ms. Kittscher will be celebrating the launch of ‘The Wig in the Window’ at Warwick’s Bookstore in La Jolla at 7:30 pm on June 25th — everyone’s welcome to join! She has graciously agreed to answer questions about her book.

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For what audience do you write?

I write mysteries for middle readers; I imagine my ideal readers as between 5th and 8th grade, but precocious younger kids could certainly enjoy ‘The Wig in the Window’, too.

Tell us about your latest book

My latest (and first!) book is ‘The Wig in the Window’, a funny mystery about two tween detectives who suspect their school counselor is a dangerous fugitive…and might be right! It’s a thrilling mystery, but it’s also a story about friendship and developing confidence.

Henry: I like kid’s stories that are entertaining, but also subtly convey positive values.

What will readers will get from the book?

I hope readers laugh out loud and are thrilled by its twists and turns, but is also relate to Young & Yang’s sometimes tumultuous friendship.

Henry: Young and Yang sound like perfectly complementary friends. 🙂

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Writing the first draft of a manuscript is the most challenging for me, even though it’s the most fun and surprise-filled. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all there is to shape and invent, and lose heart. 

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

I’ve learned that expressing what’s most true to me is what also resonates most with others.

What’s been a memorable experience you’ve had as a writer?

There have been so many memorable experiences, including having the opportunity to develop friendships with authors I’d long admired—but the one that stands out is opening up a package of letters and cards from kids who’d been inspired by a classroom visit!

Henry: I was told by a parent that after reading Nimpentoad, her child now eats mushrooms. 🙂

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I don’t feel seasoned enough to give advice, but I’ll say that I frittered away a decade or so doubting myself as a writer. If you love words and telling stories, follow that passion and enjoy! No sense worrying about whether anything will “come of it.”

Henry: So in addition to being a good writer, you are experienced at frittering. 🙂

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

I don’t have strange rituals, but I do write with a little knight figurine by my desk that a friend gave me: her father was a writer, and he kept the knight on his desk as a symbol of charging forward with his work. He passed away in 2006, and when my sold my first book to Harper, my friend gave the knight to me for inspiration. I like to think it works!

Henry: That is a beautiful story.

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

I’d like to be able to stop time whenever I wished, so I could get more done!

Henry: Ah, the old “stop time for everyone but me” ploy.

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

I love to get outside, whether hiking with my dog in the San Gabriel mountains up the road from where I live in Pasadena, or visiting the nearby Huntington Gardens.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

She cared.

Where can readers find your work?

‘The Wig in the Window’ is out June 18th from Harper Children’s and is available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, as well as at your local independent bookstore through IndieBound. Readers can find out more about it and Young & Yang’s next adventure, ‘The Tiara on the Terrace’ at kristenkittscher.com — and see some pictures of my pets while they’re at it!

This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner


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‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ Poster

from http://www.flicksandbits.com/2013/06/09/first-the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug-poster-trailer-confirmed-for-tuesday/49593/

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With the first teaser trailer for ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ arriving online this Tuesday, June 11th, at 10am PST/1pm EST/6pm GMT, Warner Bros. Pictures has unleashed this first poster for the film. Source: @TheHobbitMovie.

The adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ was originally made as a two-part film, however Warner Bros, Peter Jackson, producer Fran Walsh and writer-producer Philippa Boyens announced last year that ‘The Hobbit’ films will be a trilogy. The release schedule for the upcoming two films are as follows: ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ arrives in cinemas on December 13th, while ’The Hobbit: There and Back Again’ concludes the trilogy on December 17th, 2014. In March, Jackson revealed a 6-minute excerpt of the live event he hosted for ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,’ providing us with a first official look at the film.

‘The Hobbit’ films are set in Middle-earth 60 years before ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ which Peter Jackson and his film-making team brought to the big screen in the fantastic blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar-winning ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.’ Reprising their roles from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movies are Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey, Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Orlando Bloom as Legolas, Ian Holm as the elder Bilbo, Christopher Lee as Saruman, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, and Andy Serkis as Gollum.


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Interview with Erin Soderberg, author of ‘The Quirks’

Erin Soderberg lives in Minneapolis with her husband and three quirky kids. Before becoming an author, she was a children’s book editor, a cookie inventor, and also worked for Nickelodeon. She has written many books for kids, but especially loves writing about silly and lovable families (like the Quirks!). Erin also writes YA and tween novels using the name Erin Downing.

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She’ll be at Yellow Book Road in San Diego at 4:30 on June 6. She has graciously agreed to tell us about her books.

For what age audience do you write?

‘The Quirks’ is my first middle-grade series, but I also write books for teens and tweens using the name Erin Downing.

Tell us about your latest book.

‘The Quirks’ is about a lovable, zany family of magical misfits who have just moved to a town called Normal with the hope that they might finally find a place to settle down, fit in, and call home. ‘The Quirks’ have had to move around for years, because everyone in the family has a secret, magical power–except nine-year-old twin Molly, who is totally, utterly normal. More than anyone, Molly wishes the rest of her family was a little bit more normal, too. But the trouble is, the Quirks don’t really do normal. It’s a fun, silly story with a lot of heart…and an adorable, scaredy-cat monster.

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

I hope kids will laugh a lot while reading ‘The Quirks’, but I also hope that they’ll come away realizing that there’s not really any such thing as “normal,” and it’s the things that make us unique and different from the people around us that make us truly special.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

I have a very hard time finishing my books! I can always get started, but once I hit the halfway point, it’s tough to keep going.

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

I’m a very social person, and writing can be a lonely job. So I love visiting schools and bookstores to talk to people about books!

What has been a memorable experience you’ve had?

I would never have gotten to visit so many schools to talk with kids about books and writing. In the past three weeks alone, I’ve spoken with more than 1,000 kids in grades K-5!

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Keep writing. We all write a lot of bad stuff, and we all write a lot of good stuff. So keep practicing to make sure the good stuff outweighs the bad!

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

If I could have a “Quirk”, I’d probably like to fly. I don’t love airplanes, but I love to travel – so it would be great to get places on my own flap power.

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

I love walking around, watching and listening to the world around me. I also love going out to restaurants with my friends, playing with my kids, and swimming in Minnesota’s lakes (when it’s not snowing, of course!)

Where can readers find your work?

There are signed copies of ‘The Quirks’ all over the San Diego area. The book is available online at Indie Bound. Here’s my website. Book fans can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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


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Kid Authors Seeking Support for Their Latest Book

from http://www.thecarmelvalleylife.com/kid-authors-seeking-support/

As Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, and Game of Thrones fans can tell you, there just aren’t many sci-fi or fantasy books written for younger kids.  So, what’s a geek parent to do?  Well, how about writing a sci-fi picture book for all those young future geeks? And that’s just what a Carmel Valley dad has done!

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Henry, Josh & Harrison Hertz | FinstinFinstin is a 32-page science fiction picture book.  The story takes place on a distant planet, where the alien boy Finstin gets lost.  As he navigates his way home, he meets some amazing creatures with incredible talents.  Shhh, don’t tell the kids, but the book also encourages interest in animals right here on Earth.  Wanna’ know what else is cool about this project?  The author’s 11- and 13-year old sons helped write the book!

These young entrepreneurial are using Kickstarter to crowdsource the publication of this book.  Kickstarter is an online funding platform for creative projects.  Kickstarter is full of innovative and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others.  Since Kickstarter’s launch in 2009, over $500 million has been pledged by more than 3 million people, funding more than 35,000 creative projects!  Every project creator sets their project’s funding goal and deadline.  If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen.  If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers’ credit cards are charged when time expires.  If the project falls short, no one is charged.

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Henry, Josh & Harrison Hertz | CoauthorsFinstin is the young authors’ SECOND book, by the way!  Their first was the popular and stunningly-illustrated fantasy early chapter book, Nimpentoad.  Nimpentoad  has earned glowing reviews from Midwest Book Review, and well-known authors and illustrators including: David Brin (Uplift Trilogy), Saladin Ahmed (Throne of the Crescent Moon), Larry Bond (Red Storm Rising), Chris Ryall (IDW Publishing), Ron Noble (Rugrats, Rocket Power & The Wild Thornberries), Stephen Silver (Kim Possible), and Grant Gould (Star Wars).

Nimpentoad has earned 81 Amazon 5-star ratings, and has been featured in Young Entrepreneur Magazine, Wired Geekdad, TheOneRing.net, Fictional Frontiers, and elsewhere.  The book has reached as high as 8th on Amazon Best Sellers large print > sci-fi & fantasy, and 1st on Kindle Best Sellers children’s > social situations > bullies.

The Kickstarter campaign will pay for the illustration of Finstin by the talented Ken Meyer, Jr.  Ken’s work has appeared in a range of books, DVDs, card games (Magic the Gathering, Vampire the Eternal Struggle, Dune, Dragonstorm), roleplaying game books (White Wolf Games, Wizards of the Coast), magazines (Heavy Metal), and comic books (Marvel, Dark Horse, Image, and Revolutionary).

Author’s Note:

By helping publish a book by kids and for kids, you will be promote reading, writing, and entrepreneurship.  I’d like to tell you that the young authors’ profits from book sales will go toward their college education.  In all likelihood, however, they will fund the purchase of LEGOs, designer vinyl toys, and consumer electronics.  While that doesn’t sound especially laudable, it does offer the advantage of distracting them from their diabolical Stewie Griffinesque plans of world domination.

In all seriousness, thanks for giving our project a look.  We hope you will help make this sci-fi book for kids a reality!  To contribute, please see our Kickstarter campaign at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/henryherz/finstin-science-fiction-picture-book-for-little-ge


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San Diego author and sons start their next writing project

from http://www.examiner.com/article/san-diego-author-and-sons-start-their-next-writing-project

Finstin is the latest project from father-and-sons writing team Henry, Josh, and Harrison Herz
San Diego author Henry Herz and his two sons, Josh and Harrison, are working on publication of their second book, which is titled “Finstin.” Herz and his sons decided to take on the project because there are very few sci-fi or fantasy books written for the younger audience.

The first book from the father-and-sons writing team was “Nimpentoad,” (www.nimpentoad.com) the story of a Nibling that leads his tribe on a perilous journey to safety. “Nimpentoad” has earned 82 5-star ratings on Amazon.

“Finstin” is a 32-page science fiction picture book set on a distant planet where an alien boy named Finstin becomes lost. Finstin must find his way home and meets other creatures along his way. Herz said, “Don’t tell the kids, but the book also encourages interest in Earth’s animals.” Herz also noted that helping kids publish a book for other kids promotes reading, writing, and entrepreneurship.

Herz and his sons are using Kickstarter to crowdsource “Finstin.” According to their website (www.kickstarter.com), “Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others.”

To learn more about this project, visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/henryherz/finstin-science-fiction-picture-book-for-little-ge. Learn more about “Nimpentoad” on the book website at www.nimpentoad.com.


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Nimpentoad’s Young Authors Kickstart New Sci-Fi Tale

from http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2013/03/finstin/

Becoming a published author is something many writers strive to achieve for a good portion of their lives. For young Josh (13) and Harrison (11) Herz, they are already working on their second book. Their first published work, Nimpentoad was featured here on GeekDad less than three months ago. Not wasting any of that momentum, and a vigorous marketing campaign from their father Henry, the boys have completed work on their second book, Finstin and are looking for some Kickstarter help to pay for the illustrations. The lessons and rewards on both sides of the donations are pretty strong here.

The new book Finstin is another science fiction tale from the boys rooted in good morals and adventure. The story takes place on a distant planet where Finstin, an alien boy, gets lost. Clearly, whether psychological or not – the Herz boys are writing stories that focus on the journey – something we should all pay more attention to. Along the journey home, Finstin runs into a bevy of interesting creatures, all with their own lessons to teach. There are clear allegories between these interactions and animal rights issues on Earth, though I’m yet to read the book so I can’t speak to how direct they may be.

While the Herz boys have proven themselves to be competent writers, they still need assistance when it comes to the illustration. Which is why they are running a Kickstarter this time around – to pay the illustrator. The illustrator in this case is Ken Meyer Jr., whose work has appeared in a range of books, card games (Magic, Vampire the Eternal Struggle, Dune, Dragonstorm, RPG books (White Wolf Games, Wizards of the Coast), magazine such as Heavy Metal and comic books for Marvel, Dark Horse, Image and Revolutionary. That’s a pretty awesome credit list, which is probably why Meyer won’t be working for free.

It’s commendable that these boys, with the assistance of their father of course, continue their course of creativity. I’m not going to say that their future is secure, but two published books before they hit high school is pretty impressive. Though Henry admits that any profits the boys may see will be unlikely to fall into savings bonds for college.

“By helping publish a book by kids and for kids, you will be promote reading, writing, and entrepreneurship,” says Henry about the Kickstarter. “I’d like to tell you that the young authors’ profits from book sales will go toward their college education. In all likelihood, however, they will fund the purchase of LEGOs, designer vinyl toys, and consumer electronics. While that doesn’t sound especially laudable, it does offer the advantage of distracting them from their diabolical Stewie Griffinesque plans of world domination.”

In the end though, this kind of gives hope to the parents out there with children who are creative thinkers. There is an outlet and it is possible in this age of crowdfunding to see your child’s projects come to fruition. So when your kids are sitting around making up words and strange stories, that should be encouraged and the Herz boys and their books should be shown as an example of the possibilities that await.

Be sure to check out the Kickstarter and donate and share to help make this book a reality for Josh and Harrison.