August 3, 2022

Summer is flying by as we all know it can. I hope you took advantage of some time off and made it to a beach or river or lake somewhere. My brother Mike and his son Thomas rented a couple houses at Topsail Beach, here in North Carolina. We spent a Saturday and Sunday with them and our cousin Val was able to come up from Fayetteville with her two kids as well. We had a great time of eating and sharing and of course plenty of time in the water and sand.

When I did my book launch last year for The Sneezing Toucan, some of you asked how I got started writing these stories. Well, you are about to find out! I went Christmas shopping many years ago and had stopped by a wonderful gift shop in downtown St. Marys, Georgia. As I went to the counter, standing there was a Dept 56 collectable. It was an alligator with trees and presents all down the spine. BUT, what really caught my eye was that the alligator was wearing red high heeled shoes! I went home that afternoon and just couldn’t get that gator out of my head. Here is a picture of the collectable I found on Ebay and an ornament I bought years ago.

So, I went to the computer and just started typing and out came the first story, The Alligator’s Red Shoes. I read the story to the girls, who were little at the time, and they laughed and said “Dad, that’s funny!”

Well guess what my friends!! The Alligator’s Red Shoes is on the drawing table with Samantha Bell as illustrator again! I can hardly contain my excitement! She has sent the first batch of sketches and I want to share a couple with you. Just like The Sneezing Toucan, I will be asking young students to submit drawings for the website, so be on the lookout for that announcement soon. Here are a couple of the first sketches Samantha sent.

Recognize that boy in the window? Wait and see what’s in store as The Alligator’s Red Shoes makes it way through all the sketches and changes and then finally heads to the printer. A new character will be introduced to all of you and only The Shadow knows who it will be!

This second book will definitely have ties to the first and will also have future connections to book number three. Yes, book number three has already been written and is undergoing a review process and will be in the queue in a very short time. I must give credit to my daughter Bailee, who inspired me to build these books around a fictional town. After much thought, it hit me the other night as I was trying to get to sleep, Harpersville. It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

That’s all for now my friends! Send me your requests for a Meet the Author event so I can get you on the calendar. Enjoy the rest of your summer and if you are already back in school, have a great year!!

Jim

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