Can you say, “Spooky Book Launch Party?”

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Yes! It’s finally here! We did it! We got published and now Octavia Books in uptown New Orleans is having our debut Book Launch Signing event for Bayou Bogeyman Presents Hoodoo and Voodoo.

And that means you can get a fabulously spooky signature/autograph from me (and possibly 8 other Bayou Bogeyman storytellers). Believe me, having 9 creative minds together in one room is spooky enough.

So come one, come all, y’all – Saturday, April 16 from 11:30am-12:45pm at Octavia Books.

OH, and click here to LIKE us on Facebook for future signings and spooky appearances come October: I Triple-Werehamster Dare You!

1200x CREEPY the Jolly-Devil

Look: I wrote a book! Now BREATHE.

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Well, technically I didn’t write the whole book. But I did pen two short stories in the newly released “The Bayou Bogeyman Presents Hoodoo and Voodoo” – published by Pelican Publishing Company.

For Middle Graders ages 8-12, the Bayou Bogeyman includes 13 spooky stories told from a different author, and each short story is part of one larger tale where the kid who tells the worst story might just get eaten – C O O L ! ! !

So how’d this all happen?

Well, while attending a SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) monthly meeting in New Orleans, and reading a few pages of a funny story I was working on, Laura Roach Dragon (a.k.a., the Dragon Lady) asked if I could write “CREEPY.”

I was a reluctant, practically non-existent reader as a kid (except for forced school work assignments and comics like Garfield, Bloom County and Calvin and Hobbes), and I figured I’d try my hand at writing something that I would have liked to read back then.

Four months after that ask – and TA-DAH! – I had penned two spooky tales. One was about a zombie tween who must survive middle school but keep in mind, don’t eat your friends (Deja’s View: A Zombie Tale). The second story took a little longer about a girl who needs to save her little brother from a doll living in their wall. So I let (The Doll in the Wall) breathe for a month or two while editing here, adding new stuff there – and totally starting the ending of the story over and over and over.

But me being published didn’t happen overnight – unlike those lucky millionaire lottery winners after buying only ONE ticket.

Truth is, I had been writing stories since I was that non-existent kid reader – mostly awful stories that were only good for shooting trashcan baskets. A few comics about a Super Egg Hero, a few recurring tales about Ghastly Ghosts living in the suburbs, and a series of disturbing, yet funny, poems and real stories from Edgar Fruggenburger. Like I said, mostly trash fodder.

In my mid-twenties, I took writing serious – bought some How To Write Children’s Books for Dummies and even took a number of online writing, screenwriting and Institute of Children’s Literature classes. I even sharpened my craft as an ad agency writer for 19 years.

Like most writers, I began writing about life experiences – because all the books say “WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW.”

I wrote about life on the bayou, life about a bat in my yard, life about how I passed sixth grade without ever cracking open a book (fictional, of course). I submitted story after story after story – surprisingly many stories were requested by seasoned editors at recognizable publishing house.

Then came the rejections. Not quite right for us. Not ideal for our list. I didn’t connect enough with the hero to read on. One agent (who someday I will kneel before and thank with a drink of choice) said in harsh, bold words, “Throw away your entire first chapter and start there.”

That’s when it hit me, why would anyone want to read about ME.

I paused. I reflected. I wanted to take this serious. So I joined SCBWI. I attended monthly meetings. I went to writer conferences and workshops. I read author blogs. I joined conversations on twitter #kidlitchat. I shared my tales and ideas with critique groups (one where I was the only unpublished author too – talk about intimidating).

Then, I sat back and breathed!

After trying, and trying, and trying, I stopped trying to write to get published. And I started writing what I would want to read when I was a kid.

Fast forward hundreds of stories or idea starters later, and the first story ever published in print by author (that sounds so cool) Gary Alipio is about that Zombie Tween surviving middle school without eating her friends.

SO … by all means, definitely feel free not to “WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW.”

Back to the release of “The Bayou Bogeyman Presents Hoodoo and Voodoo” by Pelican Publishing Company (nice plug, right)? It’s now online, and if it’s not in a bookstore near you, please ask them to stock it – or we’ll put some gris-gris on them.

Then, pick up a copy or two or even three. Snap a selfie of you with your Bayou Bogeyman book and Tweet or Instagram it with #BayouBogeyman, and every now and then I’ll reach out to send someone a signed (by a number of Bayou Bogeyman authors) copy.

BE WARNED: You may need to sleep with one eye open.

Buy your Bayou Bogeyman copy today.

P.S.

It’s never too early to start thinking about stocking stuffers either.

NOW BREATHE!!!

 

 

30 Picture Book Ideas in 30 days – Come Join #PiBoIdMo

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Yep, #PiBoIdMo is upon us.

What is #PiBoIdMo? It’s a picture book idea self-challenge to come up with one picture idea a day for the whole month of November – courtesy author Tara Lazar. Learn more about the fabulously zany, and most of the time brilliant, Tara Lazar and her blog “Writing for Kids (while raising them)” at the following.

Your idea doesn’t have to be well thought out, brilliant or even make much sense. But the idea behind Tara’s challenge it to get the ideas out of your head and onto the page. Each day there is a guest blogger made up of several children’s book’s authors and agents from around the country.

This year’s agents are:

  • Liza Fleissig, Liza Royce Agency
  • Karen Grencik, Red Fox Literary
  • Ginger Harris, Liza Royce Agency
  • Susan Hawk, The Bent Agency
  • Teresa D. Kietlinski, Prospect Agency
  • Lori Kilkelly, Rodeen Literary Management
  • Tricia Lawrence, Erin Murphy Literary Agency
  • Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties
  • Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency
  • Kathleen Rushall, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
  • Jodell Sadler, Sadler Children’s Literary
  • Sara Scuito, Fuse Literary
  • Deborah Warren, East-West Literary

Oh, and the ideas are as an infamous James Bond girl would say, “For Your Eyes Only.” No sharing of ideas required. You’re on your honor system.

AND you can win some fabulous prizes, and maybe even a comment or two from an agent : ) (we can all dream, right?) Here’s who’s blogging:

piboidmo2015calendar

So what do you have to lose? Get the scratch paper out, open up that laptop or pull out those unused stickee notes. And let the ideation begin.

REGISTER NOW!

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I Just Got A Contract For A Book. Now What?

YAY! Yes, I just got a contract for a book. A real book by a real publisher with real legal jargon of about 8 pages in length. And for legal purposes, I can’t say who the publisher is, nor can I say much about the book either.

Well, I can tell you that it is a creepy anthology penned by several other SCBWI LA authors. What’s SCBWI? The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. And if you’re interested in penning or doodling for any kind of kids book, I highly suggest you join us – I wouldn’t be writing this blog post without them. They also named me the PR Coordinator, so you’d be doing me a favor by leaving a comment below for details.

I joined the national SCBWI group just after the turn of the millennium when I was just toying with the notion about writing for kids. But come to think of it, I’ve been writing and telling stories pretty much since I was in the 5th grade. I remember writing a comic series I doodled in science, social studies and english notebooks – 3 subjects I despised back then – and shared with friends and classmates for a few good laughs. Needless to say, I got quite a bit of detentions that year along with visits to the principals office regularly. The comic: “The Misadventures of Super Egg.” The premise: it was about an egg that had rather unusual super-strong egg powers (he could fly) and of course, he fought for justice, equality and peace in the school cafeteria. His arch-enemies: a two-faced sugary treat named Trick or Treat, and an obsessive compulsive and very shiny egg beater named Dr. EggB.

Years later, I moved on to draft my first screenplay when I was only twelve years old. Finishing anything in the 80s during my addiction with this thing called Music Television (MTV) could very well be considered just short of a miracle. I got the idea after returning home from viewing a Godzilla movie (Godzilla vs. Megalon), and I thought, “Wow, I can do that. And so much better!” So I did. I spent about a week arranging scenes, dialogue and laughs on the backside of used office memos (thanks, dad) in what took a little more than a week. Fast forward twenty years later while cleaning out a closet and I realized, “This is awful, what was I thinking?” So I destroyed it on sight – tossed in the trash (sorry, pre recycling movements). The plot: a high school outcast stumbles across a time machine that transported riders sideways in the space time continuum to a bizarre parallel universe (Inner-Earth) where zombie-eating monsters ate the hero’s jerk friends. Gross. Boring. Been there. Read that (or seen it on TV a thousand times courtesy Ed Wood).

Any who? We can talk more on how I got started writing for kids some other time. I guess the point of this post is: don’t ever stop writing or drawing or doing anything that you love. Something may never come of it. But one day, you might be cleaning out your closet and stumble upon an idea that could rattle around in your brain for decades – and get you published. How so? Well, one of the stories I crafted in the anthology is about a certain type of blank-eating monster that gets her revenge on a real jerk friend. Coincidence? I hadn’t thought about the two until now.

So get back to writing, drawing and making art. Because the only difference between me being published and you not is that I never quit.

9 Love’em Most Memorable Kid Names in Kid Movies.

What makes a great kids character name? Silly, sarcasm, punny, the foreshadowing of what’s to come: these are all likely formulas used in creating unforgettable names. But while the names are memorable, it’s the movie character themselves that jump off the screen and create their legacy.

NOTE: I’m only talking about KID CHARACTER NAMES; not adult, toy or animal names used in kid movies. So no Cruella De Vil, Simba, Beetlejuice or Buzz Lightyear, etc. – sorry. And I’m also excluding any Harry Potters, Star Wars and Superhero Movie kid names – they deserve their own list.

Here’s my top 9. Who are your favs?

9 Darla (Finding Nemo). I think everyone knows a naughty, freckle-face, braces wearing kid out there. You haunt me, Darla. And I pray that I never cross paths with you at my dentist’s office. Pet store, either. (via rebloggy.com)

tumblr_m8h6qbc6Wr1rsmws3o1_500 (via rebloggy.com)

8 Coraline (ditto, Coraline). A flip on Caroline, and yet, Tim Burton and author Neil Gaiman paint a lovely backdrop for an endearing story about a girl and her other parents. Thank you, guys. I can’t look at a button today without blinking. (via coralinegifs.tumblr.com)

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7 Junior (Problem Child). Yes, I can name several. But when I hear “Junior,” I only see a redheaded Problem Child tossing birthday gifts into the pool and rounding the bases with bat in hand. John Ritter was the only father who could tame this monster. (via gifsoup.com)

it-s-my-party-o (via gifsoup.com)

6 Scotty Smalls (The Sandlot). “You’re killing me, Smalls.” Really, you never heard someone use it? Early 90s, and so worth an hour and a half of your life. Wendy Peffercorn, you can save me any day. (via rebloggy.com)

via rebloggy.com

5 Hiccup (How to Train Your Dragon). First thought: what a dumb name? After following his journey: brilliant. A boy and his pet dragon. What kid hadn’t dreamed? I only have Hiccup in mid list because it’s so young of a movie. (via gifsoup.com)

toothless-delicious-o (via gifsoup.com)

4  Not G-rated but teen’ish names. Ferris, Duckie, Long Duk Dong, McLovin, McFly and Stifler. You can’t speak these out loud without recalling a moment when you almost peed in your pants – at least I can’t. (Google’em)

3 Scut Farkus (A Christmas Story). Whose little red light doesn’t go off and also want to tear into this holiday bully like our beloved Ralphie does? (via gifsoup.com)

scott-farkus-o (via gifsoup.com)

2 Veruca Salt (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory). Classic, rub salt into the wounds of daddy. She even has an alternative band named after her. Plus, she makes her way into my vernacular often. Example at work, “I met the deadline, so why you goin’ all Veruca on me?” (via crushable.com)

Veruca-Salt-Willy-Wonka (via crushable.com)

1 Drum roll, please … CHUNK (The Goonies). Once upon a time, there was an adventurous, plump kid with a rousing obsession for … FOOD. Ice cream, whipped cream, potato chips, pizza, Baby Ruth, and who can forget the most famous of all, the truffle shuffle. Yes, Mouth, Sloth and Data are just as delicious. (via wifflegif.com)

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Your turn.

Daddy Tips: How to get Toddler through the Holidays

My daughter is nearly five, so I’ve had a few years to hone my daddy-daughter-home-alone-during-the-holidays-skills.

Please note: I’m just a dad trying to maintain sanity within the new OnDemander generation. There, don’t sue me if your attempt goes insanely south.

1  Start a drawing, let your kid finish it. You’ll treasure this shared bonding time – maybe get a cool pic worth framing. I started a drawing with large smiley faces of our family, including pets. Daughter filled in the rest of the picture. (Below: I had no idea we were mermaids and our dogs could fly).

co-artwork

2  Make up songs in the car. Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? This tip might help preempt headaches or restless road rage. Basically, you change the words of the songs on the radio. Until I was a tween, I thought the Eagles lyric “Taking Care of Business” was really “Taking Care of Biscuits.” Don’t ask. But my toddler cackled long enough to keep the game going for a half hour or so.

3  Use “timeout” as an opportunity to draw pictures about your feelings. First, it’s the holidays – give’em a break. But if you must send them to their room, send them with crayons and paper. Note: coloring on the bed should not increase length of stay. After all, they’re washable. (Below: timeout-induced, crayoned bed spread).

crayon bed

4  Madlib stories at bedtime. Once upon a time, there was a little kid named (let them answer). You tell a line. They tell a line. Continue until they all lived happily ever after. Believe me, stick with happy. You don’t want your toddler waking up because the wicked witch swiped your holiday presents or a T-Rex from Mars lives in your neighbor’s backyard. Live and learn.

5  Build something worth building. Preferably at Gramma’s house, too. Test your kid’s architecture skills at constructing the best make-believe tent, skyscraper or castle animal kingdom in your living room. Caution: be sure to snap a picture of it. You may have to recreate it if dismantled overnight. (Below: Castle de lion king).

animal kingdom

6  Lend them your camera phone. You think you see what your kids see? Give them your phone or digital camera to capture the world the way they see it. You’ll be surprised at what’s really going on inside their lil brain. (Below: bffs for life, wait, is that a pleonasm?)

bffs instagram

7  Paint the inside garage door. Finger paint, splash paint, graffiti – it’s a garage door. Enough said.

8  In the infamous words of the Terminator, “Get out!” Turn off the TV. Put the video games and tablets down. Nothing says adventure like getting outside the house. Feed the squirrels, check out your neighbor’s holiday decor or simply go to the airport and watch airplanes taking off (big win here). Keep their little minds and bodies filled with activity, and you’ll lessen the likelihood of midday meltdowns. If you’re really lucky, maybe even tucker your tyke out for an afternoon nap.

9  Keep the happy in the holidays. Do something new this holiday you’ve never done before. You only live once. Twice, if you’re James Bond.

Summary: If none of these tips help, don’t worry. Work is waiting for you, school for them. Happy Holidays!

The Greatest Fishing Story Ever Told | ch07

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A life-changing essay told by a boy named Hatch
retold by a guy named Gary Alipio.
(kids 9-12)

Pestering insects, pesky neighbors, angry seas, boat blunders, and an encounter with a two-footed cryptid that inhabits Bayou Vivrè – the Loup Garou. You ready?

————————————————————-

SUN DAY 07

Brickety-brack, brickety-brack. Nothing.

Brickety-brack, vrr-uuuum, vrr-ummmmmm. The boat turned over.

The hum of the motor vibrated under my feet. A plume of smoke covered the air. A magical smell of burning oil shot up my nostrils.

Sniff.

I don’t think I’ve ever whiffed such choice in my life.

Sniff sniff.

The memory of Hunter waving us so-long was just that – a memory.

Bring on the FISH.

Grampa stood at the helm of the boat and steered us away from the dock.

We putted down a slim water pass until we were clear of the soldier-like fishing camps lining the bayou.

A guy could get shot for causing a wake in the ‘NO WAKE’ fishing camp zone.

So I’m told.

Grampa snagged the cap off my head, and as he pulled back on the throttle, a rush of warm air pressed against my face.

The roar of the boat.

The spray of brackish water.

The wind whipped at my hair.

The bug smacked dead against my sunglasses.

AIYEEE!, I screamed . . . in my head.

Grampa reached over and tightened my life vest. Then he opened the throttle. She may not have been much of a looker, but Ol Nessie sure cut through the water leaving behind a spurting fishtail.

Just then, a terrible feeling came over me.

An awful, toss-me-overboard, I-might-as-well-die feeling.

I forgot my fishing pole in the car.

Aiy-nooo . . .

*******************************************

Round two. Putt-putt, putt-putt, putt-putt.

I tightened the straps of my life vest, leaned forward and waited.

The roar of the boat.

The spray of the water.

The wind . . . oh, you get the idea.

Grampa really didn’t say much about the mishap. Just a smirk and a grunt.

A snorting, grumbling grunt.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a brown fuzzball against the banks. An otter. It looked right at me then disappeared in the murky waters.

Moments later, it re-surfaced with a crawdad in its mouth.

To the right, four pelicans flapped in the distance. One of them lingered behind, its wings clipping the water.

A dark dorsal fin cut through the waves and rode besides the boat for a blink.

Porpoise.

Fish jumped in and out of the water. One nearly landed in the boat, hitting the side.

“What was that?!”

“Mullet.” Gramps replied. He said they don’t make good eatin’. He also said Mullet jump sometimes because they were being chased. But sometimes they jumped just for fun.

Ones that make high soaring leaps were not being chased.

Ones that jump and do a backflip were not being chased.

Ones that jump practically in a boat moving at forty miles per hour, they WERE being chased.

In the distance, a flock of seagulls trailed a large skimmer. Trawlin’ for shrimpses.

The captain, a short stubby man with the reddest redneck, he stared at us long then flipped a finger at us.

Grampa whipped a finger back.

Some sort of code.

Grampa swiveled the wheel, a sharp turn, and the water before us narrowed into a smaller channel.

The channel ahead had space for no more than two boats.

One lane in.

One lane out.

“Bayou Vivrè,” said Grampa. “Welcome to Bayou Vivrè.”

WAAAAAAANNNNNNNHHHHHHHH!!!

The motor of Ol Nessie was loud enough, but up from behind, another boat passed us like a bat out of hell.

Yes, if you’re like me, you too are wondering about such a saying?

Why are bats flying out of hell so fast?

How do we know bats don’t like it there?

And if they don’t like it there, then why is it there always seems to be some unlimited amount of bats to fly out of hell?

Once they leave, do more magically reappear waiting the day for someone to speak about them flying out of hell?

Wait . . . what I talking about?

Oh, yeh.

The other boat.

It sliced through the water hella-bat fast. As it passed, I recognized the driver.

The one-armed nubby Lazarre.

He nodded, and gave me an evil wink with his non-wandering eye.

;-{

Lazarre sped off so fast his boat created a large fishtail.

Let me rephrase: a gigantor-normous fishtail that soaked us to the core.

Perfect.

Running out of underwear faster than the bayou water sure do stank.

———————–

Want more? Leave a comment below for the complete 10,000 words.