Monday, April 2, 2012

Nimpentoad equals the collaboration of family!

Nimpentoad is the fantasy 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.
This post is about the creative journey of Nimpentoad by a father and
his two young sons.

When my sons were five and seven years old, and I wanted to share my
love of fantasy with them. They were too young for watching most of
the fantasy and sci-fi movie classics, and there are only so many good
fantasy books available for that age range. 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? So,
my goal of interesting my sons in fantasy transformed into also
encouraging them to write. Very cool.

I decided that we would self-publish Nimpentoad, so the next step was
to find an artist who had the skill and style suitable for our book.
This turned out to be the most time-consuming part of our journey.
Nimpentoad's artwork is (I think you’ll agree) eye-catching, with
incredible detail. The kind of detail that makes the reader want to
climb into the picture and go exploring.

Once again, my sons were involved, this time helping with art
direction. We would describe what each illustration should contain.
Collaborating remotely via email and DropBox, our artist would give us
a rough sketch, and we would provide feedback on details and color
palette. Nimpentoad came to life, while my boys added another
dimension to their experience.

Eventually, we had a good book, but we lacked readers. So, we then
embarked upon the most arduous part of our journey – promoting
Nimpentoad. Luckily, my boys (dare I say it) are charismatic and
precocious, and are comfortable conducting public readings and doing
book signings.

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 and
signings at San Diego libraries, elementary schools, La Jolla YMCA,
the New Children’s Museum, Mysterious Galaxy Books, Readers Books,
Warwick’s Books, and Barnes & Noble.

At the San Diego Public Library 46th Annual Local Author’s Exhibit, my
sons asked for autographs from Chris Ryall (of IDW Publishing) and
famed graphic novelist Eric Shanower. Both of these gentlemen then
graciously asked for my boys’ autographs. First class!

At the La Mesa Centennial Readers & Writers Festival, we shared a
booth with Ron Noble, animator of Rugrats, Rocket Power, and Wild
Thornberry's. He was very kind, and my boys left that day with
personalized Wild Thornberry sketches. First class!

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

Henry, Joshua, and Harrison

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