I beg of ye to tell me . . . what be more fun than dinosaur pirates?
Nothing I tell ye! Nothing!
So if ye care to have fun then lend an ear. Henry Herz be having a new tale! CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW just be released on August 1st!
Ye must sail on down to yer local bookstore or yer library and nab a copy! It be a treasure!
From Kirkus Reviews: The dinosaurs may be extinct but let’s hope dinosaur pirates keep on sailing for arr-ternity.
I be thinkin’ ye have questions about how such a tale came to be. Well jump aboard cuz I be askin’ Henry just that! And he be answerin’.
Me: Ahoy there, Henry. I see ye’ve written a clever tale o’ dinosaurs and pirates. How in the seven seas did ye come up with such an idea?
Henry Herz: I thought it would be fun to do a mashup – a combination of unlikely elements. In fact, my original title was DINOSAUR SPACE PIRATES! But it became clear as I worked on the manuscript that mashing up three ideas was one idea too many. Kids love dinosaurs, and they love pirates. So, they must REALLY love a book featuring dinosaur pirates, right?
I also wanted to do a book with the theme of thinking outside the box. Captain Rex and his dinosaur pirates sail the seven seas in search of buried treasure. But whenever they hit an obstacle—like a giant shark or pea-soup fog—the crew members are quick to say they can’t overcome. To this, Captain Rex always glares with teeth bared and says, “CAN’T YE?” And, somehow, the crew always comes up with a clever solution. Being clever is always preferable to being eaten, I always say.
Me: Well sink me! Ye be a clever buccaneer! Once ye had yer clever idea, how did ye steer yer tale in the right direction? Did ye experience rough seas or were it smooth sailin’ the whole way? (As a fellow buccaneer I be used to rough seas when spinnin’ tales. Sometimes I feels as if my tales may end up in Davy Jones’s Locker!)
Henry Herz: Great question. And it reminds me of the terrific saying: “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” That’s certainly true for writing. I checked my computer to see how many versions of the manuscript I wrote. 27. That said, a score of revisions is not that uncommon (for me, at least) for perfecting a picture book. Certainly, my editor at Sterling was a pleasure to work with – no rough seas there.
Me: Blimy! Ye had to be bloody bullheaded to tell yer tale. Seems there be no hornswagglin’ nor dabloon-bribin’ bookmakers into publishin’ yer tale. And since there be no hornswagglin’ do ye have a bit of advice for other mateys who be wantin’ to their tales to be books like yers?
Henry Herz: I’m going to parse from my blog post on this topic at https://henryherz.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/be-an-animal-to-write-a-picture-book/
- Be a honey badger. Have no fear. Don’t be scared to put words to paper. Don’t flee from constructive criticism. Don’t be afraid of rejection. They all line the path to traditional publication. Honey badger don’t care, and neither should you! Get outside your comfort zone.
- Be a dung beetle. Be tenacious, even on crappy days. Becoming published isn’t easy. But it won’t happen if you stop trying. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a one step. Revise, revise, revise. But remember that perfect can be the enemy of good enough. At some point, you need to submit!
- Be an armadillo. You need to be thick-skinned and learn to roll with the punches. Understand that a publisher’s or agent’s rejection isn’t personal, but it is highly subjective. Many great works of literature were rejected repeatedly before being published, so you’re in good company.
- Be an ant. No man is an island, and no ant is a bridge. Teamwork is your best friend. Take advantage of critique groups to hone your craft. Join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators to develop a support network. Leverage social media to connect with fellow writers. You’re not alone.
- Be a hagfish. Be flexible enough to incorporate helpful feedback. But feel free to ignore feedback that doesn’t resonate with your gut. Follow the rules, but recognize that they can be broken when the result is a success. Drew Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Quit is a picture book with over 1,000 words and inanimate characters. But it’s also a New York Times bestseller.
Me: Ye not only be clever . . . ye also be wise. Speaking of clever and wise I be thinking ye must have other tales that be sailin’ into bookstores in the future? Will ye share a bit if ye have such tales?
Henry Herz: Well, there are three picture books my agent is shopping around right now:
TOP OF THE HEAP – Barnyard animals debate who is the best animal on the farm. Each makes their claim, even Dung Beetle. In response to the others’ laughter, Dung Beetle takes a vacation. Eventually, they all recognize even tiny Dung Beetle’s important contribution. That’s how he rolls.
NEVER FEED A YETI SPAGHETTI – Two young goblin siblings throw their mom a monstrous birthday party. Despite their best efforts, things go further and further awry, thanks to the yetis. One should never feed them spaghetti.
ALLEN & ALIEN – Like many boys, Allen doesn’t like to eat his veggies, pick up his toys, or take baths. But he loves playing with his alien toys. When an indefatigably inquisitive alien drops in to study humans, the alien’s enthusiasm (even for the mundane) is infectious. Allen learns an important lesson about appreciating one’s blessings, while his parents are pleasantly surprised at their son’s new alien behavior.
And these three books are scheduled to be published next year:
HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS (Pelican Publishing) – Ever wonder why two of a squid’s ten arms are longer than the others? A selfish squid is cold, so he swipes other animals’ clothing. Will he learn it’s wrong to steal in the end? This modern fable demonstrates you reap what you sow. It’s Kipling’s HOW THE RHINOCEROS GOT HIS SKIN meets Klassen’s THIS IS NOT MY HAT.
GOOD EGG & BAD APPLE (Schiffer Publishing) – Not all the foods in the refrigerator get along like peas in a pod. Bad Apple and Second Banana are at the root of the problem. The vegetables are steamed. Good Egg suggests his friends try different responses to the bullies, but his tactics don’t bear fruit, at first. Only by using his noodle does Good Egg save their bacon.
ALICE’S MAGIC GARDEN (Familius) – Alice lives in the dreariest boarding school in England. She pours her love and attention into caring for her little garden and its denizens. Unknown to her, these include a large caterpillar, gryphon, and a talking white rabbit. When Alice is in trouble, the magical creatures come to her aid. Love, it turns out, is magical. GARDEN FAE is A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE meets ALICE IN WONDERLAND.
For more about Henry‘s books and blog interviews, see www.henryherz.com.
Ahoy! There be treasure! Ye won’t need a treasure map. But ye must walk the plank and outsmart the sharks to win! Har! That be a pirate joke. All ye really have to do is leave yer comment below. Leave yer comment no later than midnight (CDT) Tuesday, October 3, 2017. A winner be randomly chosen. ***You must be in the United States to win.
Details: Enter for a free chance to win an original signed painting by Benjamin Schipper, illustrator of the picture book, CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW, by Sterling Publishing. The painting of Kyle the Ankylosaurus pirate is roughly 8.5″ square, and was created with Holbien Acryla gouache and Prismacolor pencils on Arches Cold-pressed illustration board. It’s suitable for framing and mounting in any dinosaur pirate-loving kid’s room.
Thanks to Henry for sharing with us today and huge congratulations on CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW!
Meet Henry: Henry Herz writes fantasy and science fiction for children. He and his sons wrote MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES (Pelican, 2015), WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY (Pelican, 2016), MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS (Schiffer, 2016), LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH (Pelican, 2016), CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW (Sterling, 2017), GOOD EGG & BAD APPLE (Schiffer, 2018), HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS (Pelican, 2018), and ALICE’S MAGIC GARDEN (Familius, 2018).