Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What's Abigail Reading? Sly the Sleuth & the Pet Mysteries

I was in a quandry over what to write today. Yesterday, I wrote about my awesome day, instead of posting my usual character interview. That was fine, but today I usually post little known facts about the book the character appears in. So that's the problem--no interview, no little known facts. So, what to do?

My seven year old daughter, Abigail, has wanted to talk about a book that she's read ever since her brother started letting us in to his reading world. So, I thought today would be a good day to let Abby make a guest appearance (we'll see what Christian's reading tomorrow, as usual).

So, What's Abigail Reading? Sly the Sleuth & the Pet Mysteries by Donna Jo Napoli & Robert Furrow, illustrated by Heather Maione.

This is what Abigail says the book is about.

"It's about cases that Sylvia has to solve. Everybody calls her Sly. There are three cases about pets. One is about a fat cat, another is about a fish, and there's one about a mouse and a puppy. She likes to find out clues and act sly. She's clever and finds out clues to solve all her cases for her friends."

What did you like the most about Sly the Sleuth?

"I liked the cases. They were interesting because each one was different, and they were about pets. I like pets. Some of the cases were weird. The first one was about a fat cat. The second one was about a wish fish that a little boy named Jack wished for on his birthday. The last case was about Sly's friend Brian and his mouse and her frield Melody's puppy."

Was there anything you didn't like about the book?

"Yes, I didn't like the part about Sly's friend Brian screaming at her because he lost his mouse, Wilson. Brian thought that Sly's cat, Taxi, had eaten Wilson who got out of his bucket. I didn't like that part."

So, how did Abby rate the book?

She gave it 5 out of 5 puppies & kittens.

Monday, January 30, 2012

What An Awesome Day

Well. where do I start? First of all, I should tell you that the Monday Interview Series will not be seen this week, so that we may bring you the following special presentation. It will return next week on its regularly scheduled day.

Yesterday was just fantastic. I had such a great turnout at the book signing. Two Steps was great, thanks Tom and Company for treating me so well! I want to thank everyone who was able to make it. It was great to see so many friends there, and to make some new ones, as well! I was fortunate enough to sell (and sign) a bunch of copies of my book, The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel.
Eager author waiting for the crowds
I had a great day. People were buying like crazy, and I was signing everything in sight! It was great seeing all my friends from Union Savings Bank, and the Candlewood Lions Club, and everyone else who took time out from their busy Sunday to stop by.

I was also excited to meet a couple of friends for the first time. Jess and Stephanie from the Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow have been great blogging friends, and have given me a whole lot of support ever since I started my blog in October. That included showing up at the book signing, buying a couple of books, and presenting me with a signed copy of their book, The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow! I can't wait to read it. You'll hear more about this book in the coming weeks.

Middle Grade Authors Greg Slomba and Stephanie Robinson
The whole event was fantastic, but it didn't end there. After that, it was off to our Chinese New Year celebration in Hartsdale, New York. It was great to see all ten families! This was the first time in a while that all of us were together for an event! The restaurant was great, and put up with more than 40 people, including 16 children 11 and under, with a smile.

Mothers and children--Happy New Year!!
I don't know how the day could have been any better! Thanks to everyone who helped make it so special!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Versatile Blog Award

I had my first book signing at Two Steps Downtown Grille in Danbury, CT today. It went really well, and I'll fill you in on the details tomorrow.

Today, I'd  like to give a big thank you to Roberta Goodman at Ro-alwaysinspired for passing the Versatile Blogger Award on to me. I'm really honored that she thought of me.

There are a few rules that go along with the award:

1. In a post  on your blog, nominate 15 fellow bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award (15 isn’t mandatory, but try to pick at least 5).
2. In the same post, add the Versatile Blogger Award.
3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog.
4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
5. In the same post, include this set of rules.
6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

Here are seven facts that you may not know about me:

1. In addition to fantasy and middle grade/young adult literature, I enjoy reading books about history and sports.
2. My favorite teams are the Dolphins in football, and the Dodgers in baseball.
3. Banking is my day job.
4. I am terrified of heights.
5. I like model trains.
6. I once wrote for a flooring trade magazine.
7. I've been to Canada, Spain and China.

Now, here are my Blog Award recipients:

Congratulations toeveryone! I'll be stopping by your blogs to notify you!

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Writer's Week #4: Taking Shape

This week was not without it's challenges. On the work front, there was a lot to do. No time for moss gathering there. At home, there was a lot going on as well--children that needed shuttling back and forth, and helping out around the house.

I have to admit I haven't been too helpful in that department, lately. So I wound up cooking dinner twice this week. I don't think anyone will be asking me to cook so often any time soon. My family's stomachs can only take my cooking once a week, tops.

What I'm trying to convey here is that in a week that was challenging to find spare time to do anything, it was doubly challenging finding the time to write. So, I did the only thing I could do to keep the new book progressing. One day I closed the bedroom door on all the chaos, and wrote.

God bless my wife! She took the bullet for me this week, keeping two children occupied for a few hours while I holed up and typed my little heart out. It was two on one out there, but she held her own.

Because of her sacrifice, I was able to write a chapter and a half. The story now stands in the middle of Chapter 10! It's really starting to round into shape, too. I've made it past most of the introductory part of the story. Most of the introductions to the key players have been made, and I'm starting to discover what makes them tick.

Some things have surprised me. As I noted last week, characters have appeared unexpectedly, and I've discovered the true motives of some, even if Eric and company have not. All in all, I'm pretty pleased with the way the story is progressing to this point. I'm a little closer to knowing what's going to happen, but I'm sure there will be a few more surprises before all is said and done.

It's really a pleasure to write, and I find myself looking forward to every opportunity I get to do just that. Oh for the life of a professional writer. You know what I mean--when writing is your day job, and you can do that for long stretches every day. Well who knows, maybe someday that will be me. For now, though, I'm just happy to be able to write what I can.

Next week promises to be just as hectic, if not more so. I've got my book signing this Sunday for The Deliverers: Sharkey and the Jewel, followed by an hour drive to spend the rest of the day with our China adoption families. Not much chance to write there. I'll be forced to try and write on a weeknight, which is always hazardous. Good intentions give way to other priorities. Oh well, at least I don't have an editor breathing down my neck. I'll let you know how I made out next Friday!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year!

My daughter, Abigail, suggested I write something about Chinese New Year today. So I'll take a break from writing about literary related things to talk a little about this holiday and why it's so important to our family.

The new year celebration began on Monday, and will continue for a couple of weeks. This year is the year of the Dragon, one of 12 animals in the Chinese yearly cycle. I was born in the year of the dragon, so this year is close to my heart.

Those that are born in a certain year, have specific characteristics. For example, those born in the year of the dragon are passionate, brave and self-assured (although in my case, rarely at the same time). Dragons are blessed with good fortune, are smart, enterprising, and have a wicked sense of humor.

The year itself will also bear the characteristics of the dragon. A dragon year is a good year to start a business, or to initiate a new project because money will be easier to come by--yay!

If you're a Dragon looking for love, you're compatible with those born in the years of the Rat, Monkey, and Rooster. Lucky for me, my wife's a Rat!

So, now to the reason Chinese New Year is important to my family. My daughter Abigail is adopted from China. In 2005, Stephanie and I left 3 year old Christian with our parents, and flew over to China to meet Abby. We were lucky enough to travel with 9 other couples. We all met our girls together.

Meeting Abigail

I can't describe the feeling of seeing Abby for the first time. It was like the feeling I had when Christian was born, but different, too. Anyway, I knew our family was complete at that moment. We spent two weeks in China and really bonded with the other families, so much so that we get together several times every year. They're all great people, and have become good friends.

All of the families on the staircase of the China Marriot

One of those times is during Chinese New Year. We go to a Chinese restaurant and party!! In fact, we're going to get together right after my book signing on Sunday. Here's a picture from a new Year celebration from a few years ago.

So to all our little China angels, and to evertone else, Happy Chinese New Year!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What's Christian Reading? Holes

My son Christian has been reading a wide variety of books this week, as usual. So what did he pick to share with us? Holes, by Louis Sachar. Here's what he had to say about it.

Here's a rundown of what Christian says the book is about:

"Holes is about a boy named Stanley Yelnats--that's Stanley spelled backwards--who got sent away to an army boot camp where he had to dig holes all day.  Rumor has it that the warden is looking for something, but no one knows what it is.

"Long ago Stanley's great great grandfather (named Ely Yelnats) made a promise to his friend, Madam Zeroni that he would carry her up a mountaintop and he would sing her a special song. He never fulfilled the promise.

"Stanley winds up keeping the promise by helping Madame Zeroni's great grandson, Zero (Hector Zeroni).

"Eventually, they find what the warden was looking for, but discover that she is really mean and evil."

Here's what Christian liked best about Holes.

"I liked that Stanley was kind, caring, and compassionate. I also liked the fact that both Stanley and Hector never give up. Finding the box the warden was looking for was good, but turned out to be dangerous.

"This book was full of action and suspense!"

Here's what Christian didn't like about the book.

I didn't like that when they found what the warden was looking for, the warden became mean and evil!"

So, how does Christian rate Holes by Louis Sachar?

He gives it four out of five flaming monkey heads.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Robin Hood

This week's interview is with that famous outlaw, Robin Hood. It's hard to get Robin away from his merry men, and even harder to pry him away from Maid Marian, but we managed it. We'll see if we can shed some light on this legendary figure.


Greg:  Welcome, Robin, it's great to have you in from the cold for a minute.

Robin:  Thank you, good sir. It is an honor to speak with such an august personage as yourself.

Greg:  You flatter me, sir. I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about your youth.

Robin:  I was born  so long ago that I can scarce remember it. I was born in the early 12h century...hold. No, it may have been later, perhaps the 13h century. Ah well, 'tis no matter, all water under the bridge. In any event, I was born and grew up strong and true in England's green and pleasant hills. It was there I learned the archer's art, and sword craft.

I practiced uncounted hours, until as an archer I was without peer throughout the length and breadth of England. As a swordsman, I was scarcely far behind. In fact I daresay that among all the swordsmen of the realm, there were only two or three that could best me.

Greg:  How did you become an outlaw?

Robin:  Ah, now there we come to the crux of the matter, one that shaped my destiny, if you will. There are scores of theories circulating throughout the shire, nay, throughout the country, but I shall shed the light of truth on the matter.

I was a stout yeoman, not noble born, but I considered myself as good as any man alive. When good King Richard left England for the Crusades, his brother Prince John robbed the poor in taxes to pay for his gluttonous ways...hold again. Perhaps it was good King Edward that I served. Ah well, as before it is of little moment. The point is that I robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. Yes, that is what history shall remember.

Greg;  Right, right, why should details get in the way? It was all a long, long time ago. Which begs the next question. Are you a historical figure, or a fictional character?

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Writer's Week #3: Feedback From My Toughest Critic

First off, let me apologize for not posting anything yesterday. I'd like to say it was because I was a day late on the internet blackout, but the ugly truth was that I had a Lions Club meeting, got back home late, and couldn't get a post together. Most weeks when I know I have a meeting, I prepare something ahead of time, but it just wasn't happening. So, again, I apologize.

On the writing front, I was a little more successful. I was able to write another chapter of The Deliverers II, the as yet unnamed second adventure. I was pretty pleased with how things were going, so I let my wife read everything I'd written so far.

I love my wife. She keeps me grounded while encouraging me to reach for the stars. But she's a tough critic. That's a good thing, but it isn't much good for my ego. So she reads the book so far. I'm sitting on the couch pretending to read a book, trying not to look interested, and looking at her from the corner of my eye. There was some chuckling. Good sign. Stephanie doesn't chuckle easliy. Like I said--tough critic.

Then, she finishes and turns to look at me. "Well?" I ask, shaking with nerves. This is the first human being that's read this thing. What will the response be? I know she loved the first one--after I fixed it.

"Well, it's good. There's only a couple of things."

"Like what?"

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What's Christian Rading? Matilda

My son, Christian, had another busy reading week.  With all the choices, he was in a quandry about which book to feature. He finally narrowed it down to a couple. Here's his final choice.

So, what's Christian reading> This week it was Matilda by Roald Dahl.

According to Christian, this is what the book's about:

"Matilda is about a little girl who is a five year old genius, who plays tricks on her mean parents and outsmarts them. Her parents are mean and call her stupid and idiot. She's also got a mean headmistriss at school, Miss. Trunchbull.

"She can also move things with her mind. She used her powers to write a fake message from the ghost of her brother to Miss. Trunchbull on the blackboard."

What did Christian like most about the book?

"I liked the tricks she plays on her parents and Miss. Trunchbull. My favorite one was when she borrowed her friend's pet parrot and put it in her chimney. The parrot knows a lot of creepy phrases, like 'shiver me bones'. She tells her parents that the chimney is haunted. They hear the parrot saying stuff and it really creeps them out."

Is there anything Christian didn't like?

Christian pretty much liked the whole book. His little sister, Abigail, did not like the name, Matilda, though.
So how does Christian reate Matilda?

He gives if 5 out of 5 flaming monkey heads.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Did You Know? The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

This week Did You Know? features little known facts about The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Did You Know?
  • Sherlock Holmes never said "Elementary my dear Watson" in any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories?
  • Sherlock Holmes' address, 221B Baker Street, never existed? Arthur Conan Doyle made it up. The Sherlock Holmes Museum displays the 221B address out front, but is actually located at 239 Baker Street.
  • The first story to feature Sherlock Holmes--A Study in Scarlet--was first published in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887?
  • Sherlock Holmes died, then was brought back? In 1893's The Final Problem, Holmes and his arch enemy, Professor Moriarty went over a waterfall in a battle to the death. Public outcry was so strong, that Doyle wound up bringing Holmes back.
  • When Holmes was killed off, the magazine in which the stories appeared, The Strand, saw subscriptions drop by 20,000?
  • The first two Holmes stories, A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four, didn't sell very well, and Doyle almost didn't continue with them?
  • Sherlock Holmes was modeled after Conan Doyle's mentor in medical school, Dr. Joseph Bell, who was said to be able to deduce a patient's illness simply by looking at them?
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was friends with Harry Houdini? They were both Spiritualists who believed they could contact dead family members and friends through a "medium".
  • Arthur Conan Doyle was a doctor? After graduating from medical school, he served as ship's doctor on a voyage to West Africa?
  • In real life, Doyle helped free two men wrongfully charged with murder by conducting his own investigation?
  • Doyle believed in fairies and ghosts, and was a member of the British Society for Psychical Research? He and other members would investigate supposed psychic happenings wherever they occurred.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Sherlock Holmes

Greg:  Good evening. It is a singular honor to be speaking with this week’s guest. He has solved some of the most baffling cases in history, always through outstanding feats of intellect and deduction. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Welcome Mr. Holmes.

Holmes:  Thank you.

Greg:  Tell me a little about your early life.

Holmes:  I don’t like to talk much about myself. It could give my enemies valuable information with which to do me injury. However, since I am retired and most of my enemies are jailed or dead, I shall indulge you just this once, although I shan’t go into too many specifics.

I was born in England in 1861. My ancestors were country squires, but the thought of lounging around on an estate all day never held much appeal for me. So, after sitting two years at Cambridge, I left school in 1880 to fight in the Second Anglo-Afghan war, where I was wounded.

Upon my return from the war, I decided to apply my immense powers of reason and my ability to disguise myself to use as a consulting detective. I had always had a talent in this line. In fact, it was while at university that I had first used my powers of deduction to solve a number of trifling cases that had been puzzling the local constabulary.

Greg:  How did you meet Dr. Watson?

Holmes:  As I said, I had been working as a consulting detective in London, but times were hard. Financial difficulties required that I advertise for a boarder. Dr. Watson turned up on my doorstep the day after I posted the ad in the Times. Wonderful bit of serendipity, that.

He and I lived and worked together for a number of years, quite successfully, until he decided to get married. After his wife’s untimely death, Watson returned, and I was happy to receive him. He has chronicled all of my most formidable cases.

Greg:  You’ve got a reputation as quite a clever fellow. It’s said that you can deduce anything about someone just by looking at them.

Holmes:  Quite.

Greg:  What can you deduce by looking at me?

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Writer's Week #2--Out of the Shadows

The second week of the year has come and gone. Last week was very productive. This week...not so much. I have to admit that I only got a couple of paragraphs written. I'm optimistic for the coming week, though. I'm right on the cusp of a three day weekend, which means I should have some extra time to write a decent amount.

While nothing much was written this past week, I did polish up what I have so far, and kick around some ideas that could broaden the story.

This book seems to be a little darker than Sharky and the Jewel, not as lighthearted. This new world is a darker place, so far. Still, I think the overall tone will be optimistic and the ending will be good. What the ending will be, I don't know for sure. I think I know, but you never know where the characters will take you.

For instance, Eric & Co. are about to meet someone they weren't expecting. But I discovered someone I wasn't expecting, too. As I was thinking about the scene and how it would play out, I suddenly realized that the one character had become two.

Who was this extra person, coming out of the shadows? I knew who the first guy was--the leader of a people who had been enslaved. But who was this other guy? Then, it came to me, and suddenly I understood. He's the missing link to taking the story from where it is now to a successful outcome at the end.

So although I didn't make much tangible progress on the book, I struck upon an important piece of the puzzle. I also set up my first book signing at a local restaurant, and was able to get a local bookstore to carry a few copies of Sharky. Hmmm, maybe it wasn't such a wasted week after all.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cold, Rainy, Exciting Day

Today was one of those cold, rainy, chill you to the bone days in Connecticut. Now, I don't want to blame the weather on the overall lethargic feeling I've got today. It's not entirely to blame. Really. It's also got nothing to do with the fact that I don't have anything extremely riveting to write about. Really.

Okay, not really! I'm going to have a book signing! It's taking place on Sunday, January 29th at a local restaurant during their brunch! It's very exciting. So, if you're in the area, come on down to Two Steps Downtown Grille in Danbury between 11 and 2 on the 29th. I'll be there, signing books. Anyone who buys a copy of my book will receive $3.00 off the cost of brunch for every adult in their party.

The restaurant did up a nice flyer, but it's a pdf, and I forgot to convert it to a jpg before I emailed it to myself from work, so I'll have to do that another day. It's a great opportunity given to me by owners Tom Devine and Keith O'Marra. They do an awful lot for our community, and I'm extremely grateful for their support.

So, if you're going to be in the area and are in the mood for a great book and a great brunch, stop by. Or, better yet, make reservations by calling 203-794-0032, or email tom-twostepsrest@comcast.net. I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's Christian Reading? Warriors: The Forgotten Warrior

Christian seems to read constantly. He reads so much, I can't keep track. That's good, though, because that means he had a number of choices for this week, but to him one book stood out.

So, what's Christian reading? This week it's Warriors: The Forgotten Warrior by Erin Hunter.

According to Christian, this is what it's about:

"It's all about a race of warrior cats that are divided into different clans. They have territorial battles. The main characters are two warrior cats named Ivypool and Dovewing who have different adventures.

"They meet Hollyleaf, a cat they thought was dead. Things go crazy from then on. Weird things happen.

"A cat named Sol is turning all the clans against each other by spreading rumors, such as the Shadow Clan will scratch your eyes out. The clans start to fight, and it's up to Ivypool, Dovewing, and Hollyleaf to try to bring peace back to the clans."

What did Christian like most about the book?

Christian liked the fighting.  As he said, "There was a lot of action and adventure that kept him in suspense."

Was there anything Christian didn't like?

"No, it was a really good book, overall."

So, how does Christian rate Warriors: The Forgotten Warrior?

He gives it 5 out of 5 flaming monkey heads.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Long John Silver

This week's interview is with one of my all time favorite villains, Long John Silver from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Long John is an interesting study for a bad guy, because throughout Treasure Island we see more of the nice Long John than we do of the evil Long John. Oh sure, he shows flashes of brutality, but most of that is only hinted at. For me, this makes him much more interesting.

Okay, enough with the character analysis. On with the interview!

Greg:   Welcome, Long John. Thanks for coming ashore.

Long John Silver:  Aye, you’re welcome, matey. I don’t often come ashore, ground’s too firm beneath m’ foot. Not enough give. ‘Sides it reminds me too much of m’ time on that cursed island lookin’ for Flint’s treasure.

Greg:  Were you always a seafaring man?

LJS:  Aye, almost since I can remember. I run away from home as a lad, and stowed away aboard His Majesty’s frigate Unrepentant. It were there I came into His Majesty’s service. I served under a number o’ fine naval gentlemen, squire.

I started off as cabin boy, then midshipman, an’ finally seaman. It were a good enough existence, I suppose, but it wore on me to have to take orders from them as claimed to be m’ betters, but weren’t..

Greg:  How did you lose your leg?

LJS:  I lost it in service to Baron Hawke, one o’ the toughest sailors to ever trim a sail. None better at it, ‘ceptin’ maybe Captain Flint, but it’d be a close call there.

We were fightin’ pirates, strangely enough. Cannonball took it clean off. Guess I should of gone below decks and steered clear in m’ berth, but that aint ol’ Long John’s way. General quarters was soundin’ anyhow, so I was stuck an’ had to meet m’ fate, so to speak.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Writer's Week #1

In this new feature, I'll chat about the writing that I did during the past week. Hopefully it will be an interesting insight into one writer's creative process. As for me, I'm hoping that it will help keep me focused on what really matters here--having another Assignment with Eric and company chronicled for you to enjoy by the end of this year.

As I wrote yesterday, I had all of last week off. In addition to doing some very fun, unwork-related things, I was also able to make some great writing headway on the new book. I took the little plot twist that I hinted at a while back and built upon it.

I really think the book is coming along nicely. I was able to write 2,900 or so words. Right now I'm in the middle of chapter seven. So far, I'm only up to about 28 pages, which kind of worried me at first. In Sharky and the Jewel, it took me 70 pages to reach chapter seven. Yikes!

But then I realized the reason for that. In Sharky, chapter one is real long, and--while I think it moves pretty quickly--there was a lot of setting up of the whole premise. The events in the new book so far move along pretty quickly. It's a pace that I think is pretty effective. I'm moving from scene to scene smoothly.

So, although I've got a lot of chapters done, I'm really still only a little past the introduction. As I envision the book, I think it will be around 200 pages, just like the last one, but there will be a lot more than the 27 chapters the last book had. I think this will make for an even faster paced book.

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson is a little over 450 pages and has a ton of chapters--79! I think it's a gripping read. How long, or short, do you think a good chapter should be?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Back To the Grind

After having a joyous ten days off in a row, I schlepped back to work on Tuesday. A big part of me was ready to get back, but there was part that would have liked to have stayed home. I was able to get a decent amount of writing done (more on that tomorrow) while I was off, so that was good.

Suddenly, though, I was thrust back into the work frenzy, and it seemed like everything kicked in all at once. We started a big training initiative the day after I returned, so the first day back we were scrambling to make last minute preparations for that. Then, I had a big Lions Club planning meeting scheduled for that evening. Add the fact that I had to get my rear in gear in the morning and get back to the gym to work off some of my vacation excesses. That meant that I left home at 6:30 in the morning and arrived home a about 10:00 that night--ugh! Can I have another helping of vacation, please.

Still, in spite of work, an exercise, and Lions I haven't neglected my first book. I'm managing to keep things going on the publicity front. Earlier this week I was the subject of an interview on a fantastic blog, The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow. They'd also reviewed The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel just before Christmas. I'm very grateful for their support and encouragement, and I really recommend that you all check their blog out and follow it!

On the local front, I'm working on getting my first major book signing set up. I'll share the details when I get everything hammered out, but it's shaping up to be a nice event. It'll combine books, friends and food--how can you go wrong with that?

As I'm writing this, I can't help but think how much I've been blessed regarding this book. The help--unasked for no less--that I've received has just been overwhelming. From Ana Vogel and her layout, to Daniel Vogel and his cover and illustrations, to my wife Stephanie, Christine and all our friends, to Stephanie and Jess at Secret Files, to the Citizen News and the News Times, and all the friends  who've been so enthusiastic about the book, and on and on. Thank you all so much!

That's it for now. I'll be back tomorrow to talk about some actual writing!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What's Christian Reading? Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever

Today is the debut of another new feature, What's Christian Reading? This is what it's all about. Christian is my nine--soon to be ten--year old son. He reads all the time. So I thought it would be interesting to check in with him once a week to find out what he's reading.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not even pretending that these can even remotely be classified as book reviews. However, if you're looking for a fourth grader's take on a book, this is the place.

I also have to take a moment to explain his rating system. He chose to rate books using flaming monkey heads (I think it's a video game thing or something). So, books will be rated on a scale of one to five flaming monkey heads, five being the best. So, here we go.

This week, Christian has been reading Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney.

According to Christian, this is what the story's about.

It's about a wimpy boy named Greg Heffley who finds himself trapped at home in a freak snowstorm with no power. Before the snowstorm, Greg and his friend Rowley get into a whole lot of mischief, like using a sprinkler to clear a snow covered driveway, and starting their own newspaper to tell people about the holiday bazaar that they're planning. In fact, it's the bazaar that gets them into trouble.

They put up some signs on school grounds to advertise the bazaar, but the writing runs in the rain and makes a big mess. It makes the real paper, and Greg just knows they'll be found out. That's when the snowstorm hits, and Greg and his family are trapped inside the house without power.

What did Christian like most about the book?

The fact that Greg is wimpy gives the book some depth. Christian also liked the fact that Greg is able to rough out the big snowstorm by rationing out ketchup. He also liked the part where they all cuddled up on the queen sized pullout couch with a blanket over them to share body warmth.

Was there anything that Christian didn't like?

Christian didn't like the fact that the family babys Greg's younger brother Manny, which doesn't give Manny the chance to grow up. He also did not like that Greg's dad spent the whole time of the snowstorm in a hotel with power and heat.

So, how does Christian rate the book?

Christian gives it 4 1/2 out of 5 Flaming Monkey Heads.