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Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


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Morgen Bailey’s Writing Blog Spotlights the Herz Authors

from http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/author-spotlight-no-310-henry-herz/:

Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the three hundred and tenth, is of children’s fantasy author and interviewee Henry Herz. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.

authors72Henry Herz writes fantasy and science fiction stories for children, aided in this noble endeavor by his two young sons, Josh and Harrison. Henry’s love of the fantasy genre began in elementary school with Where the Wild Things Are and The Lord of the Rings, and continued in high school, college, and beyond playing Dungeons & Dragons and Warhammer. Henry is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and writes for the San Diego Children’s Book Examiner.

Like their father, both boys are big fans of fantasy, science fiction, and the annual Comic-Con convention. They have an entrepreneurial bent too. They’ve started three web-based businesses selling LEGO party favors, custom cast bases for Warhammer, and painted concrete yard sculptures. Their efforts have been featured on Young Entrepreneur Magazine, Wired GeekDad, CNN iReport, TheOneRing.net, and the Warner Brothers’ website for The Hobbit movie.

The writing trio’s first book, Nimpentoad, is a stunningly illustrated high fantasy early chapter book. It has earned over 85 Amazon 5-star ratings to date. The unlikely hero is the bright-eyed Nimpentoad, a furry little creature who’s been victimized by the bigger creatures of the ancient forest one too many times. Nimpentoad convinces his fellow Niblings to make a perilous journey to a castle where they hope to find refuge–if they can just evade and outwit the ravenous goblins, trolls, rhinotaurs, and other perils that stand in their way.

TwigFront72Nimpentoad expands the ecosphere familiar to fantasy fans with adorable, fuzzy nibling protagonists. Their dark Grunwald Forest is also home to creatures like rhinotaurs (menacing, muscular minotaur/rhino hybrids) and neebels (two-legged beasts with gaping maws). Parents appreciate the implicit lessons on bullying, teamwork, perseverance, and leadership.

The writing trio’s second book, Twignibble, is a fantasy easy reader. Twignibble is a very smart and mechanically adept sloth, with animal friends all over the world. When he learns that his friends are in danger from pollution and poaching, he builds a helicopter to visit them. Twignibble helps each friend by making them a special gadget. Kids love the cute animals and funny inventions; parents appreciate a book that promotes friendship, empathy, and protecting the environment.

And now from the author himself:

NimpFront72I originally drafted our first story, Nimpentoad, as a way to interest my young sons in the fantasy genre. It did that, but my sons also gave me feedback on the plot and suggested character names. So, what began as a simple tale to instill a love of fantasy gradually morphed into a collaborative writing effort.

We had no plans to publish initially. We just shared the book with family. When my sister-in-law commented, “You know, this is really good. You should consider publishing it.” We thought about it, and decided to go the self-publishing route. Nimpentoad was born. And thus, my writing career offers a good example of the Butterfly Effect*.

The book has gotten a very positive response, and this has encouraged us to write other books. All of us are big animal fans and lovers of nature, so a book featuring pro-conservation animal characters was an easy choice. We were tickled when we came up with the idea of a sloth protagonist who must overcome his torpid nature to race around the globe to help his animal friends.

Other books we have in the works include re-writes of classic children’s tales and a science fiction picture book. Finstin, an inquisitive alien boy from the planet Nubnub, gets lost on a hike and hopes his encounters with strange creatures don’t prevent him from reaching home before nightfall and its perils.

I should caution aspiring writers about self-publishing. It is very much a two-edged sword. Self-publishing offers some distinct advantages over traditional publishing, such as complete control and speed. But, as Spiderman says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” A self-publishing author is responsible for (i.e., must personally perform or pay someone else to perform) a diverse and daunting range of tasks, including copy editing, book formatting, technical aspects of publication (e.g., getting an ISBN number and barcode for the book), promotion, printing, warehousing, and fulfillment (the last three just for printed books).

So, self-publishing is not for the faint of heart or for people who don’t enjoy learning new things. When we think of a writer’s career, we imagine them honing their literary craft over time. Self-publishing authors have a second path they must follow simultaneously, which is to hone their publishing craft. Because I’m self-employed, I have flexibility with my time. The process of writing and publishing children’s books would have been even more challenging were that not the case.

The other practical consideration for self-publishing is financial. Do NOT think you’ll write a great story, push it out on Kindle, and immediately be able to retire on a never-ending stream of royalty payments. Just as developing your craft takes time, developing a platform and an audience take time. So, by all means write, but do NOT quit your day job. At least not immediately.

We’ve all hear the term “midlife crisis”. I didn’t give it much heed up to this point in my life. But then I look at myself and see that I’ve transitioned from salaried employee to being my own boss, and from being a reader of books to a reader AND writer of books. But whether you are middle-aged or not, writing offers a wonderful way to express yourself and bring enjoyment to others. Just as the journey of a thousand miles begins with that first step, the journey to your book starts with that first keystroke.

*Per wikipedia: “The butterfly effect is a common trope in fiction, especially in scenarios involving time travel. Additionally, works of fiction that involve points at which the storyline diverges during a seemingly minor event, resulting in a significantly different outcome than would have occurred without the divergence, are an example of the butterfly effect.”


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Writing with My Kids

CNN iReport recently put out this call to dads:

“It’s been 30 years since the release of Mr. Mom, the 1983 comedy-drama about a dad who loses his job, becomes a stay-at-home dad, only to discover he’s clueless about managing a household.

At the time, that was being a mom. Now it’s just being a parent.

Though the stereotype of the incompetent, bumbling father still persists in consumer-product ads, the reality is, today’s dads bake cookies, change diapers, drive mini-vans, have tea parties with their daughters – and are proud of it.

So dads, we want to hear from you. How do you spend your time at home with the kids? How is your parenting style different from your own father’s? What kind of dad are you?”

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Last year, my beloved father passed away after 59 years of marriage to my mom. He was a kind and gentle soul; hardworking, soft-spoken, and absolutely devoted to his family. I asked him to be the best man at my wedding because he was the best man I knew. I miss him.

My childhood memories of dad are right out of 1960’s TV like The Dick Van Dyke Show, complete with him coming home from work with briefcase, sport coat, and hat. He was the breadwinner. Mom was the homemaker. Much of dad’s time outside work was spent fixing things around the house, maintaining the yard, paying the bills, and other tasks required to provide for his family. I remember being just a little sad that he couldn’t spend more time relaxing with us.

After I became a father, I decided that while I may not be as good a man as he was, I could spend more time with my family than he did. Three years ago, I made the switch from salaried employed to self-employed entrepreneur. This affords me wonderful flexibility in how I spend my time.

One day, I drafted a story to interest my boys in reading fantasy (being a Lord of the Rings fanatic myself). They liked the story, but something else happened. They gave me feedback on the plot. They came up with creature names. A simple learning exercise morphed into a rich collaboration. After that, my sons helped provide art direction to the illustrator, and participated in promoting the book.

Our first book Nimpentoad is a fantasy for 3rd-5th graders. It has earned 86 Amazon five-star ratings. Nimpentoad has reached as high as #1 in Kindle Best Sellers large print sci-fi & fantasy. And my young co-authors have been featured in Young Entrepreneur, Wired GeekDad, and the Warner Brother’s website for The Hobbit movie. But this is about more than writing a book kids enjoy. It’s been about spending time with my boys as I fulfill my paternal duty developing them into kind, successful adults.

The fun time we’ve spent has also taught my sons valuable lessons about creative expression, public speaking, interacting graciously with others, running a small business, and being responsible with their money. They split the book profits, half of which goes into savings which they cannot touch.

We just published our second book Twignibble. Hang on to your hats!

This article also appeared on San Diego Children’s Book Examiner.


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The Nimpentoad authors at San Diego Comic-Con

My fellow Nimpentoad and Twignibble co-authors and I had a great time wandering the Exhibit Hall at the San Diego Comic-Con. Here are a few pictures.

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Nothing starts your day like meeting a zombie from the Plants vs. Zombies game my boys enjoy playing.

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For us older folks, it was a real treat to meet Peter Beagle, author of “The Last Unicorn”.

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Here are my co-authors with comic artist Ken Meyer, Jr.

SDCC_KatieCook

Here are my co-authors with Katie Cook, who writes “My Little Pony” for IDW Publishing, and has also done licensed illustration work for DC, Marvel, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.

SDCC_HappyHobbit

Proving again that timing is everything, we just  happened to wander in front of the Badali Jewelry booth, when our friend Cliff Broadway from TheOneRing.net was conducting a Lord of the Rings trivia quiz. Have I mentioned that I am a Lord of the Rings Rainman? It will then come as no surprise that we won the quiz, and left laden with terrific Tolkien booty, much as Bilbo ended his Hobbit adventure riding a pony burdened with treasure. As a bonus, we got to meet the Rice sisters, who write and star in the weekly Happy Hobbit video that is shown on TheOneRing.net.

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In the foreground, my co-author Harrison. In the background, the smoking hot Evangeline Lilly, who will be appearing in the upcoming (second) Hobbit movie. We also saw Sir Richard Taylor, who heads up Weta, the company that makes props for Peter Jackson’s movies.

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Here my co-authors pose with the largest Domokun I’ve ever seen.

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An enormous Azog the Orc in front of the Weta booth was not nearly as welcoming as Domokun…

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At the IDW Publishing booth, we spoke with several comic book illustrators. As it turned out, fate smiled upon us again. We have a friend Sohaib Awan, who writes the comic JINNRISE. His illustrator, Andrew Huerta, was there and graciously offered to sketch Nimpentoad !

SDCC_NimpByHuerta

Here is the wonderful end result he knocked out in no time flat.


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@DorothyDreyer interviews Nimpentoad authors for We Do Write blog

from http://we-do-write.blogspot.com/2013/04/interview-with-authors-of-nimpentoad.html

For today’s interview we have the three authors, two young and one young at heart, of Nimpentoad, a chapter book fantasy.
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Henry Herz’s love of the fantasy genre began in elementary school with Where the Wild Things Are and The Lord of the Rings, and continued with playing Dungeons & Dragons and Warhammer. Struck by inspiration one day, Henry began a fun project with his two bright young sons, who share his joy of entering the magical realms of fantasy. Together, they wrote this tale. By day, Henry is a management consultant who also teaches after school enrichment for elementary school children.
Josh and Harrison Herz are elementary school students who enjoy fantasy stories. Josh’s hobbies include parkour, building with LEGOs, and painting Warhammer miniatures. Harrison plays basketball, and collects Yu-gi-oh cards and KidRobot vinyl figures. Both are big fans of The Lord of the Rings, the annual Comic-Con convention, and have an entrepreneurial bent. With design help from their dad, they started three web-based businesses selling LEGO party favors, custom cast bases for Warhammer, and painted concrete yard sculptures.
 

Welcome to We Do Write, guys. How long have you been writing?

Nimpentoad was several years in development. Our second book, Twignibble, is due out in the early fall of this year. And we have a few projects lined up after that. Once we started writing, the flood gates really opened!

I know that feeling. Writing is addictive! Tell us about NIMPENTOAD. What’s the story about?

Our unlikely hero is the bright-eyed Nimpentoad, a furry little creature who’s been victimized by the bigger creatures of the ancient forest one too many times. Nimpentoad convinces his fellow niblings to make a perilous journey to a castle where they hope to find refuge—if they can just evade and outwit the ravenous goblins, trolls, rhinotaurs, and other perils that stand in their way. With teamwork, perseverance, and Nimpentoad’s leadership, the niblings overcome these menaces and learn important lessons.

I love a book set in a new, interesting world, chock full of fun creatures. How did the idea of the story come about?

When my sons were five and seven years old, I wanted to share my love of fantasy with them. Struck by inspiration one day, I came up with a way to share the joy of entering the magical realms of fantasy. I would write a fantasy book for them.
What I did not anticipate was that my boys would give me feedback on the story. They devised some of the character (“Nimpentoad”) and creature (“Neebel”) names, and made plot line suggestions. And who better to help make the story appealing to kids than other kids? My sons also helped with the art direction. Our artist would give us a rough sketch, and we would provide feedback on details and color palette. My goal of interesting my sons in fantasy transformed into also encouraging them to participate in the creative process.

What a great way to get your kids thinking creatively! What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Writing is fun. It is the promotion of the book that is most challenging for us.

What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

A computer with an internet connection for easy access to dictionary,
thesaurus, rhyming dictionary, and Google images.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

The ability to pick a new super power at will. Like a super power chameleon. The first power I’d pick is mind control. That way, I could end war and global hunger. Plus I could sign a really good publishing deal! 🙂 Clearly, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Ha! Yes, that might be a problem… As Uncle Ben says, with great power comes great responsibility. 

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve googled?

Sorry, but my policy is to neither confirm nor deny the conduct of weird googling.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: toad, nimble,

and bumbling.

The nimble toad could not help but snicker at his bumbling skink companion.

Finish this sentence: If I’m not writing, I’m probably …

Working at my day job (but thinking about the next book concept).

Who would you like to thank for supporting you and your writing?

There are too many to list individually, but thank you to all our supportive readers, reviewers, fellow authors, particularly those who provided us with blurbs, and bookstores that have carried our book (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Mysterious Galaxy, Warwick’s, Readers, and Vroman’s).

And finally, where can people find you and your book online?

Nimpentoad’s official website is at www.nimpentoad.com, where you can order signed copies of the book. Nimpentoad is also available (without author signature) atAmazon and Barnes & Noble. Our blog, where you can learn about our other book projects as they progress, is at www.henryherz.wordpress.com. You can Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nimpentoad, and Like us on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/nimpentoad.
 

Thanks for joining us, Henry, Josh and Harrison. Your story sounds like a lot of fun.


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Nimpentoad Authors Featured on Event Horizon Radio

Tonight on the Event Horizon at 9 PM Pacific, Midnight Eastern, we welcome father and sons Henry, Josh & Harrison Herz, authors of Nimpentoada children’s fantasy tale about cooperation, leadership, and standing up to bullies.

Then, it’s S. P. Hendrick, author of Uneasy Lies the Head, and the entire Glastonbury Chronicles to which it belongs, as well as the books in the Tales of the Dearg Sidhe series  – we discuss her creative process, and learn about the series.

The show repeats Sunday, 4PM Pacific / 7PM Eastern.

It’s Sci-Fi for your Wi-Fi!

http://kryptonradio.com/2013/04/13/event-horizon-henry-josh-harrison-herz-s-p-hendrick/

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Fun at #WonderCon

The Nimpentoad authors had fun at WonderCon in Anaheim, CA.

In front of the vehicle Tom Cruise flies in the movie Oblivion:

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With the robot Wall-E:

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With Chicken Boba Fett from Family Guy:

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Josh being knifed by Ezio from Assassin’s Creed:

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With fellow authors Jenn Reese and Greg Van Eekhout at the Mysterious Galaxy booth:

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A Dad. Two Young Sons. And the Story of the Book They Wrote and Published Together

from The Good Men Project at http://goodmenproject.com/families/a-dad-two-young-sons-and-the-story-of-the-book-they-wrote-and-published-together/

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The creative journey of Henry Herz and his sons.

When my sons were five and seven years old, and I wanted to share my love of fantasy literature with them. One day, I came up with a way to share the joy of entering the magical realms of fantasy. I would draft a fantasy book for them.

Nimpentoad is the story of a courageous and resourceful little Nibling who leads his tribe through the perilous Grunwald forest, overcoming obstacles and encountering strange creatures along the way.

What I did not anticipate was that my boys would give me feedback on the story. They devised some of the character (“Nimpentoad”) and creature (“Neebel”) names, and made plot line suggestions. And who better to help make the story appealing to kids than other kids? My sons also helped with the art direction. Our artist would give us a rough sketch, and we would provide feedback on details and color palette. My goal of interesting my sons in fantasy transformed into also encouraging them to participate in the creative process.

Of course, collaborating with kids is a very different affair than collaborating with an adult. Their work ethic is, shall we say, less disciplined. This can be mitigated by making the working sessions more like play sessions – we’re telling a story, not crafting a manuscript. And once we began creating the artwork, the boys’ interest grew as they saw images of Nimpentoad and the other fantastic creatures come to life.

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Eventually, we had a good book, but no readers — the challenge facing all self-published authors. So, we then embarked upon the most arduous part of our journey – promoting Nimpentoad. While I handled the web-based promotional activities, I wanted my sons to be involved in the live events. Once again, I had to train and encourage them – this time to become good public speakers. By starting with small groups, like elementary school classes, they learned to be comfortable in front of a crowd, and to make eye contact and use voice inflection to enhance the reading experience for their audiences. They have also participated in several phone interviews for web radio shows.

Once they mastered public speaking, the next learning opportunity for my sons was mastering the sale. We’ve found selling our book at farmer’s markets to be surprisingly successful. Imagine trying to coldly walk past two charismatic young booth operators who ask “would you like to see the book WE wrote?”. But as before, they needed guidance. They had to be coached about engaging effectively with passersby — smile, sit up, and speak to them. My sons learned how to answer commonly asked questions about the book and their participation in its creation. And how to change a twenty dollar bill, or deal with someone who tries to haggle on price.

At the risk of infringing on child labor laws, I booked my sons as much as their school schedules would allow. We’ve done readings, giveaways and signings at San Diego libraries, elementary schools, farmer’s markets, La Jolla YMCA, the New Children’s Museum, the San Diego Comic-Con, Mysterious Galaxy Books, Readers Books, Warwick’s Books, and Barnes & Noble.

All these experiences have further enriched the journey for my sons. They understand some of the aspects of running a business and publishing. They are now comfortable meeting new people, doing public speaking, and rubbing elbows with famous authors. It has been a great ride.

The Nimpentoad authors have been written about in Entrepreneur Magazine and Wired Geekdad. The book’s artwork was a semifinalist in an art contest sponsored by Warner Brothers (and judged by The Hobbit movie staff). Nimpentoad recently received its 82nd Amazon 5-star rating. The book is available in paperback and Kindle format. Our website is http://www.nimpentoad.com

But my kid’s learning journey didn’t end there. As Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, and Game of Thrones fans can tell you, there just aren’t many sci-fi 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?

Finstin is a 32-page science fiction picture book. The story takes place on the distant planet Nubnub, 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? My sons helped write the book!

Right now, we 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. 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.

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).

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 plans of world domination.

We hope you will help make this sci-fi book for kids a reality! To contribute, please see our Kickstarter campaign here. 

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