I am very excited to have completed my second illustrated children’s book in the Gee Bee Series, The Spirit of Lindy. After two years of writing, working with the artists, and endless tweaking, I recently sent it off to the printer!

It’s a great story based on the famous flight Charles Lindbergh made from New York to Paris to win the Orteig Prize in 1927.  I came up with the concept, wrote the story, and had two great Disney-trained artists, Dominic Carola (pencils), and Ryan Feltman (paint), do the artwork.  We came together to create a beautiful book that, we all feel, has more potential than my first book, All of Life is a School.

The first book was actually a condensed version of a feature film script I’d written.  At the time, I owned several of the ten airplane characters in the book.  Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to collect another character here and there and eventually realized life was leading me to collect all ten!  I now have seven on display at Fantasy of Fight!  There’s a possibility to collect two others but the third, Curtiss, will have to be built from scratch, as only the original exists and is in National Air and Space Museum in Washington.  Something tells me, I don’t think they’ll be willing to part with it any time soon!  :-(

Cover Art including Questions on the back to help teach History in a Fun Way!

While creating the next book, and to save myself some money, I got smart this time and made sure I only included new characters that I already had in the collection!   This will be my approach for future books in this series, as I’ve got plenty to work with.

Two new characters making their debut are Geoffrey D. H., an enthusiastic DeHavilland 4 Mailplane with a grand idea, and Lindy, based on the Spirit of St. Louis.  Of course, it all takes place at Fantasy of Flight where Gee Bee Zee, Puff, and all their friends pursue Geoffrey’s idea, build the plane, and learn a valuable life lesson in the process.

Geoffrey D.H. makes his debut!

Currently, I’m awaiting a sample copy from the printer to approve before we run the presses.  As with All of Life is a School, the first run will be for 5000 books.  I’m hoping to have them by the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In in late March 2012 but this may be somewhat tight, as the printer is currently on vacation and I’m not sure where I may end up on their schedule.  If I don’t make Sun ‘n Fun, I will definitely be signing copies at the Oshkosh Fly-In in July and the Reno Air Races in September.

So far, I’ve sold over 6000 copies of All of Life is a School out of the Fantasy of Flight gift shop, on the Internet, at airshows and other smaller events.  I’ve had no luck trying to break into the major bookstores so, I’m quite proud to have sold this many on my own.  I actually have signed so many books the non-autographed ones are rarer and probably worth more!  :-)

Lindy is Ready to Go!

Since the book will now be printed in 2012, I’ve missed the deadlines for entering any 2011 contests.  I’m excited to submit it, as I believe it has as much, or more, potential than All of Life is a School, which won a Bronze independent Book Publishing Award!

I have concepts for another dozen books in the Gee Bee Series and now have to think about which one to focus on next!  Once I get The Spirit of Lindy books in hand, the real work will begin trying to promote and sell them!  At least I’ve laid the foundation with the first book and already have an email list and somewhat of a following.

I’m still learning the business, which is all but impossible to break into for a first-time author.  I can only apply what I’ve learned so far and hope to implement some new things as well.  But, hey . . . now I’m a two-time author!  We’ll see.

Kermit

Restoration Specialist, Andy Salter, just completed a milestone on one of our onsite airplane projects . . . the installation of a Liberty engine he overhauled himself for our WWI DeHavilland 4!

Andy makes last minute checks!

Andy is an expert machinist and comes from a background of tool and die making as well as car and airplane restoration.  He was involved in the rebuild of the Spitfire we have at Fantasy of Flight as well as several other projects I had done in England before he came to work for me.

Hoisting the Liberty to its new Home!

One of the more tedious parts of the overhaul was hand-scraping the silver babbitted crankshaft bearings, which alone took him three weeks!  Next steps on the project will be to begin installing anything that connects to the engine like fuel lines, instruments, radiator, etc.

Installed!

Andy is also working on another Liberty for our other DH-4 Mailplane so what he’s learned from this project will have a direct carry over to the Mailplane.

I can’t wait to hear one run!

Kermit

Developing the "Star" of my new book!

As I mentioned before, I have written my next illustrated children’s book in the Gee Bee Series.  It’s called The Spirit of Lindy and features two new characters along with many of the old ones.  We’re making great progress towards completing all the artwork by the end of the year and I hope to have all the files ready for the printer by early next year.  With any luck, I’ll have product to sell by Sun ‘n Fun in late March 2011.

With the second "new" character . . . Geoffrey D.H. . . . based on my DH-4 Mailplane.

Since I have already done much of the initial hard work laying out the first book and developing character design, backdrops, colors, text boxes, finding a printer, etc. this next one should be much easier.  It’s a great story with a great theme, with somewhat of a surprising, yet profound, ending.  I think it may have more potential than my first book.  I have treatments for another dozen books in the series and, with any luck, hope to publish at least one a year!  We’ll see.

After looking at the initial drawings, I decided to add a helmet to Geoffrey's open cockpit!

Here’s the first page to have been colored, which also happens to be the first page of the book.  The same group of artists are working on the artwork and coloring that did the last book and are doing a great job!  The opening text for the book reads -

"It’s a beautiful morning over a seemingly never-ending countryside . . . as a lone Mailplane named Geoffrey D. H. . . . flies along in the sunlit skies."

I think it will be a winner!

Kermit