Local Children's Book Author, Greg R. Fishbone, says...

Archive for the ‘Penguins of Doom’ Category

Stuffed Penguin Population Plummets, Scientists Baffled

In Penguins of Doom on July 29, 2010 at 10:51 pm

A startling report released today from the Stuffed Animal Preservation Society reveals an unexpected disappearance of penguins from the living room of local children’s author, Greg R. Fishbone. “The North American Stuffed Penguin once flocked all up and down these stairs,” Fishbone told a documentary film crew that’s been following this story. “It’s almost as if they’ve been moved aside to make room for something else…”

The penguins first arrived as gifts from fans and well-wishers around the release date of The Penguins of Doom in 2007. Over the years, the stuffed penguins adapted to an indoor environment bereft of their natural enemies, stuffed sea lions. They multiplied wildly, filling all available surfaces until this week when suddenly, they were gone, perhaps the victims of condo warming. “It has been a hot summer,” Fishbone admitted.

Scientists are at a loss to explain the sudden disappearance but warn that an open niche in the living room ecosystem will not remain empty for long. “Something new is coming,” said Fishbone. “Something bigger than a planet. Bigger than a star. Perhaps as big as a galaxy. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

I May Be a Humorist

In Galaxy Games, Humor, Penguins of Doom on June 17, 2010 at 12:08 am

It may be a case of being too close to the source material, but I haven’t been thinking of Galaxy Games as a humor book. It’s been primarily science fiction and sports with lots of funny bits thrown in. I also didn’t think of Penguins of Doom as a humor book, but as a contemporary fantasy with humorous events told in a humorous voice. If it’s not acknowledged as a humor book, I told myself, I get to be funny only when I want rather than having an obligation to toss out punchlines on a regular basis.

Now, however, may be the time for me to reassess my writing in general as well as in the specific case, to take hold of the virtual podium, and to proclaim: “I’m Greg R. Fishbone and I write funny books for kids. And teens. And penguins.”

Feedback from my editor at Publisher-I’m-Still-Not-Daring-To-Name-In-Public: “Some members of the acquisitions committee didn’t get the book because they only read the first three chapters, which weren’t punchy, hooky, or funny enough.” Except she probably didn’t use the words “punchy” or “hooky” because that’s just me cribbing from my notes of our conversation. Now that I’ve had a week to think about it, I’m sure the committee was right on and I’m the one who didn’t get the book–because the middle and end parts are pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. Hence a violation of the Promise Principle of novel writing:

The Promise Principle:

The first chapter of a book (along with the title and jacket copy) should set up a reasonable expectation of style, genre, character, and plot. The rest of the book must fulfill the promises made, or otherwise leave the reader feeling satisfied rather than cheated.

If you fail to do this, the best you can hope for in reader reaction is the Positive Bait and Switch.

The Positive Bait and Switch:

“That wasn’t at all the book I thought it was going to be, but I liked it anyway.”

But just as often you’ll get a Bait and Switch Off.

The Bait and Switch Off:

“Someone told me the book would be funny, but I stopped reading after three chapters of not laughing.”

A humor book has to front-load some of the humor, which is difficult because the nature of humor is to require a setup and punchline, or better yet, multiple punchlines. Since I wasn’t thinking of Galaxy Games (still in search of a title, by the way) as a humor book, I was spending three or four chapters on mostly setup before dropping several loads of punchlines.

The challenge with a humor book is providing punchlines at the beginning that require little or no explicit setup and yet blend seamlessly into the funny stuff that happens later on. If I can do this successfully, the book will head back to the committee and there will be thunder. Ka-pow!

The Penguins of Thunder

In Penguins of Doom on June 1, 2010 at 9:35 pm

thunderstorm -lightning

I sold my first book during a thunderstorm, at night, at 70 miles per hour. My wife and I were driving from our home in Boston to Philadelphia, where her family lives. In the middle of Connecticut, my mobile phone rang. You can imagine any ultra-cool ring tone you want, but I’m embarrassed to say it was probably “Sk8er Boi” by Avril Lavigne. (Hey, it was 2005–don’t judge me!)

I don’t ever drive while taking on the phone. Ever. It’s a dangerous and stupid thing to do. But I also had never gotten a call with a publisher’s name in the caller ID. With my wife cheering me on, I took the call and steered the car toward the next exit off Interstate 84 and then into the first driveway I could find. So it may be more accurate to say that I sold my first book in a pizzeria parking lot, while streaks of lightning flashed across the night sky.

What my wife heard must have sounded something like this: “Sure… That’s great…” [Raising voice to be heard over the downpour.] “Yes, I’d love to have PENGUINS OF DOOM published by Blooming Tree.” [Dramatic crash of thunder!] “Merchandising rights? Well, that sounds good. Hey, what about little penguin dolls filled with jellybeans? They could be kinda like beanie babies but refillable! Yeah, okay, I’ll think of something else…”

After her, the next people to know were the staff and patrons of the pizzeria because, hey, I had to tell somebody. Then I called every family member and friend in my address book until my phone ran out of batteries.

I’m not planning any family trips for, let’s say, the end of this week…but it’s a good omen that thunderstorms are forecast for Thursday and Friday. Keep your fingers crossed!