I recently got the shipment of my first printing (5000 copies) of my new illustrated children’s book The Sprit of Lindy just in time to sell them at the Reno Air Races!

Putting out signs to promote sales at Reno!

The new book includes characters from my first book All of Life is a School and two new ones – a Dehavilland Mailplane named Geoffrey D. H., and Lindy, who represents the Spirit of St. Louis.

In the story, the characters hear about the Prize for the first plane to fly non-stop between New York and Paris and decide to build a plane that will do it.  As with the first book, we all learn a valuable life lesson by the end.

Aside from taking some artistic license with the Lindy being built by airplanes at Fantasy of Flight in Florida, it is actually very historically accurate in many of the details, including “Lindy” being visited by spirits that helped guide and encourage him at a very low point on his Journey.

My set-up in the entrance of the Main Merchandise Tent!

I decided not to sell books at Reno the last two years because I wanted to get my new book out.  I had already sold over 500 All of Life is a School books a year there for two years and wanted to come back with something new.

While I also sold a number of All of Life is a School this year, most of the sales were for The Sprit of Lindy and I bettered my total sales from previous years; selling over 600 books!  I also had 100 each of the Puff and Zee plush, which were very popular and totally sold out!

Ready for action with books and plush!

The artwork is great and I am VERY proud of how this new book came out.  I included some questions on the back that are chronological to the story where the readers can not only have fun discovering the answers, but learn a little history in the process.

I you have a cute kid, know a cute kid, or ARE a cute kid, you can order The Spirit of Lindy online at https://www.fantasyofflight.com/store/index.asp?cid=9

Kermit

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

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

An empty "North Forty" due to soggy ground a day into the Fly-in!

This year’s Oshkosh was a great one, even though it got off to a soggy start.  With a lot of rain prior to the event, they kept the “North Forty” closed to general aviation traffic for several days, only allowing show planes to arrive aand park in the dry areas.

I got a chance to hook up with an old friend, the World’s Greatest Aircraft Collection’s DeHavilland Mosquito!  We were very fortunate it was on display at the EAA Museum and not in Miami when Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992.  It has been many years since it has flown (1989) and once I get some additional hangars built at Fantasy of Flight, I intend to truck it back to Florida where we will go through it and get her flying again.

I got the chance to stop by and visit the KW Research Hangar where they keep all the aerobatic show planes during the fly-in.  This was the first building EAA built at Oshkosh (1983) that wasn’t a shower or a toilet.  What a legacy!  I have been an EAA member since I was sixteen, joining in 1969, and have been on the Board of Directors for almost twenty years.

One of the cooler things I got to do this year was attend a press conference where it was announced that my long-time friend and Heli-ski partner, Sean Tucker (right), and I got accepted to be on the Board of Directors of the Lindbergh Foundation.  As Charles Lindbergh began to fly around the world, he began to notice from the air how technology was beginning to impact our environment.  The Foundation was set up to promote balancing technology with the environment on the 50th anniversary of his famous flight.  It’s a great group of people with lots of opportunities to help out and network with a whole new group of friends!

I also got to read my All of Life is a School book to the kids at Kid Venture.  We had a great time and every kid got to keep an autographed copy!  Now how cool is that?  I finished writing my next book in the series called The Spirit of Lindy (how timely) and have begun the process of developing the artwork.  We hope to have the work finished by the end of the year, which might allow enough time to get it published before Sun ‘n Fun in April.  We’ll see.

With Ray Bensen!

Someone I had not seen since our Wings & Strings music festivals days many years ago was Ray Bensen from Asleep at the Wheel.  They played several times in the seven years we held the festival at Fantasy of Flight and got the crowds swaying and dancing one night at the Fly-In.  It brought back a lot of many fond memories.

With 7/8 scale homebuilt "Storch"

Another cool thing I got to see was the scaled down Storch that was part of an article in the latest EAA Sport Aviation magazine comparing this scaled down homebuilt with my original WWII German aircraft.  They did the photos and interview during Sun ‘n Fun last winter and I found myself on another cover, although I still find myself wondering why no one’s ever asked me to be a centerfold!

Kermit

July Cover of Sport Aviation magazine