Tag Archives: John Stack

When You Are Making Your Christmas Lists . . .

When you are making your Christmas lists, don’t forget books!!

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Interview with Cody, the Hero of “Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo” by John Stack

Who are you and where do you live?

My name is Cody. My mom said not to tell my last name because of the publicity. I live in Treble City.

Do you have any special strengths?

I’m pretty smart for an 8 year old, at least my Mom thinks so.

Do you have any skills?

I’m very curious. Sometimes it gets me into trouble. I also like to set things right if I can, like if someone is being treated bad.

Do you have a hero?

I really like Spiderman. Some of the other superheroes are okay, too. But, he can climb walls. So, Spiderman is my favorite.

Are you honorable?

I like to think so. My Mom and Dad taught me to do things that were right.

What makes you happy?

I’m happy when I feel that my Mom and Dad are proud of me.

Do you get along with your parents?

My Mom and Dad are great. At times, they do get fed up with some of the things I do, but I know they still love me.

Who was your first love?

If you don’t count my Mom then it would have to be Ms Morgan, my 3rd grade teacher. She is only a few years older than me and she is a pirate. I do have a few girls in my class, but most of them are still yucky.

Have you ever had an adventure?

Just one, but very few people believe me. Here’s what happened. Our class went on a field trip and our bus turned into a pirate ship. We bumped into a jel-urtle and escaped by using chocolate chip cookies. Then we went to Host Isle and found an Arang-a-roo and a Croc-adill-phant. Then we came home. I have no idea where Host Isle is, but I have been there.

What is your most prized possession?

My most prized possession is my emergency backpack. Even though I put stuff in there, I can always find what I need for an emergency.

What is your favorite food?

I really like pizza with lots of cheese, but it gets messy. I usually get it all over my face. My next favorite is cookies, especially chocolate chip. The best cookies come from Suzanne’s Bake Shop in Treble City.

What is your favorite beverage?

I really like almond milk. My Mom won’t let me drink much else except water.

Name five items in your pockets or backpack?

I carry my favorite marbles, a cat’s eye and a shooter. It’s blue. I have a small screwdriver. I also carry a small flashlight and my lucky quarter.

If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?

If I had to be stranded on deserted island I think I would like Mr. Fletcher, the school custodian. He can do lots of things and speak several languages. If not him, then Mr. Arang-a-roo. Not only can he hop up high, he can climb trees too. He would be real good at finding food.

Where can we find out more about you and your story?

Check out my story @ http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=154&osCsid=12d5999b0c66e57ab41d49027ecb9554
It is available at Second Wind Publishing, Barnhill Books in Winston-Salem, NC and on Amazon.

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Interview with John Stack, author of “Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo”

What is your book about?

In my book “Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo”, Cody’s class is going on a field trip to the Onmi-zoo, or so they think. The school custodian, who is driving the bus, turns down a dark alley. He drives the bus in to a lake and it turns into a pirate ship, of which the custodian is 1st mate and their teacher is the captain. They are going on an expedition to Host Isle find some strange, but wonderful beasts. On the way, they encounter a giant sea monster with an exotic taste for chocolate chip cookies. Once they arrive on Host Isle and began their search, they come across the Orange Arang-a-roo. They also find some other very different animals, all of which want to go live at the Omni-zoo. It was an amazing trip, but did it really happen or was it just a dream? Arrrgh!

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

The idea for Cody began to develop about a year and a half before I started writing. The idea started as “Confused Zoo” but I couldn’t get it to mesh. I put Cody and one other character back in the back of my brain and the rest of the stuff in a folder. I developed a few new characters, but could not get the story going. So, I took my ideas and refilled them back into the back of my brain and let things cook. A few months later I became bored while my students were taking a test. It was at this point when it all came together.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Please remember that I write picture books, so keeping that in mind, from the point where all of my thoughts came together, it took about five hours of sporadic writing to get down the basics. After that it took another 2-3 hours to add specifics, like the ending. After I was satisfied with the story, I put it away for about a month. I then took it out for editing and reviewed it like I was reading it for the first time. So, if you look at the total time from initial concept to completion – at least a year. If you look at actual work, then maybe 15-16 hours.

What is your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

Since I work full time, have a 3 year old and we foster parent a newborn, I do not have a writing schedule per say. If I have free time after 9:00 pm I may write down some ideas or if we are traveling to the local big cities, I may have time to jot down a few thoughts. (Usually my wife drives everywhere we go.)

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m working on an idea for another “Cody” book that includes the discovery of another realm. Book 2 of the series is at the publisher and involves a rescue from the zoo. Book 3 awaits editing and involves a little girl that can change shapes.

At what age did you discover writing?

I figured out how to write a passable paper the second time I went to college (I was 40ish), but I really discovered writing around the youthful age of 55. It took another couple of years before anyone else agreed with me.

Does writing come easy for you?

Yes and no. I’ve not experienced writers block, but I have experienced what I would call situational block. When I’m working on a Cody book ideas just seem to flow. I may have to rewrite a few things to get the correct idea across, but it usually comes easy. What has given me difficulty is real life perspective through the eyes of a small child. I may have my immature “guy” moments, but 5 years old can be really tough.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

I currently have three stories in my thoughts. Along with working on book four of Cody, I am working on a children’s picture book on adoption. I’m trying to write through the eyes of a five year old. I also want to write a book on fostered/adopted children for teens. Here I want to present actual adoption stories – both good and bad.

What do you like to read? What is your favorite genre?

I really like adolescent science fiction/fantasy. Usually, the authors steer away from profanity, extreme violence, and sexual situations. I like magic, elves and quests, but going from realm to realm is fun too.

What writer influenced you the most?

I really like the style of Piers Anthony and his Xanth series.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

To aspiring young (and old) authors I would say, write about what you know and enjoy. One you write something, put it away for several weeks and read it as if you had never read it before. It may surprise you

What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?

Take care of yourself and your family, but don’t forget the orphans and fatherless.

My wife and I have raised 2 daughters and are now raising a third daughter whom we adopted last year. We have also been involved in the lives of 17 other children that were in our home for foster care.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

Names are fun and usually mean something special. I use kids that I have taught, daughters, grandsons, and friends. Family can be cool because you can often capture their personality in the character and no one really gets offended.

Do you have a saying or motto for your life and/or as a writer?

This comes from Colossians 3: 23. What ever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord.

Where can we find out more about your book?

Check out my book @ http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=154&osCsid=12d5999b0c66e57ab41d49027ecb9554

It is available at Second Wind Publishing, Barnhill Books in Winston-Salem, NC and on Amazon

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Excerpt From “Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo,” a children’s book by John Stack

Cody’s class is going on a field trip to the zoo, or so they think. As the bus passes through the middle of Treble City, the school custodian, who is driving the bus, turns down a dark alley. He drives the bus in to a lake and it turns into a pirate ship, of which the custodian is 1st mate and their teacher is the captain. They are on an expedition to find some strange, but wonderful beasts. But, do they ever make it to the zoo?

EXCERPT:

Cody was really confused. He thought they were going to the zoo and some how they were at a lake and Cody didn’t know that Treble City even had a lake.

But, things kept getting stranger and more confusing. All of a sudden some of the kids began to scream and that was when Mr. Fletcher drove the bus straight into the water. Ms. Morgan didn’t seem upset – even though the class was frantic.

All of a sudden Cody was no longer on a bus, but on a ship. Everyone was on the ship. Ms. Morgan was wearing strange clothes and so was Mr. Fletcher, and Mr. Fletcher was wearing a funny hat. As Cody and the others in his class walked around on deck, he could see that this was not just any boat, but a Pirate ship.

Ms Morgan wore clothes like a pirate and carried a long spy glass. “Children,” said Ms. Morgan, “please settle down. We are going on a special trip today.” Mr. Fletcher, who was steering the ship, just looked at us and said, “Arrgh!” Cody tried not to freak out, but this was really weird.

***

Writer: John Stack is a middle school math teacher in Kernersville, NC and this is his 15th year in the teaching profession. He attends a local Christian church. Prior to teaching, he served 20 years in the US Air Force helping design and build support facilities for the fliers. He has been married for 38 years. He and his wife have two natural daughters, ages 36 and 34, an adopted daughter who is three, and 2 grandsons, ages 4 and 2. He has been adopted by a retired racing greyhound named Lola and a Chihuahua named Millie.

Illustrator: Aron Daniels lives in Winston Salem, North Carolina with his wife, Amy, and their two dogs. A graduate of Western Carolina University’s School of the Art and Design, Aron works as a graphic designer and freelance illustrator.

Click here to buy: Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo

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