Verano the Fish News

In all this holiday focus on the Mayan Ball League, end of the world, and novel editing, some of you may be crying out, “But what of Verano the fish, that lovable scamp of a fish!”

Fish and hook

Well, here’s a partial answer:






And there’s your reason W.C. Fields said, “Never work with children or animals.” She did nearly complete the text on the page, though, to her credit.


Coming soon to an iBookstore near you.

Record Verano Audio Reminder

Celebrate Cyber Monday with Mayans or Fish!

It has come to my attention that today is a day for giving 30% off nearly everything, so I decided to jump into the fray and offer 30% off both “The History of the Mayan Ball League” and Verano the Fish*!

The History of the Mayan Ball League
The History of the Mayan Ball League

Since both are free** your discount works out to about $0.00 (or, checking, £0.00 — I couldn’t even begin to tell you the savings in Euro). So that’s not brilliant, but isn’t no price at all worth it if you get the thrilling story of a bunch of Mayan professional athletes and their league’s story? Or for the story about a plucky young fish who makes some interesting life choices?

So for this limited time only you can get both stories for UP TO 30% OFF! Buy it now, quick!

Oh, and, by the way, these stories, as well as the Fenway Fiction series, make excellent gifts for the holidays. Just sayin’.






* Except where we have to charge $0.99 or thereabouts because we have no option to give away our content.

** Again, on most platforms.

Thank You — Verano the Fish Bows Out in the First Round

I want to thank all of you who voted for Verano the Fish in the Goodreads Choice Awards.

Unfortunately we didn’t make the cut for the semifinals, but we did gain a few new readers along the way.

Verano 2 (and his little sister, of course)
Verano 2 (and his little sister, of course)

I’m busy trying to get a read-aloud version out, but our voice talent is a bit finicky pickety and have possibly been on strike these last few months, without me realizing it.

So this isn’t the last you’ve seen of Verano, but it’s certainly the last you’ve seen of Verano in the Goodreads Choice Awards.

Thank you, again, and we hope to have something new for you soon.

Go On, Make My Saturday – Vote for Verano the Fish

Listen, there’s only a few hours left, but there’s still time for you, yes, you, to go vote in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2013 for Verano the Fish for Best Picture Book.

You can even download the book, for free, from! This way you’ll possibly be even more informed than on the ballot where you just pick a name because you’ve seen their name on a lot of signs on people’s lawns*.

Verano in the sea
Verano in the sea, waiting for your vote


If Verano gets enough write-in votes today it’ll be listed, alongside with those other excellent picture books, in the semifinals starting November 11th and would fulfill a lifelong dream**.

So log into, create an account if you need to, and go vote for Verano the Fish! Please?







* NB. This may or may not be how I vote. I am possibly not qualified to be a citizen. But I wrote a decent story about a fish, so I have that going for me.

** In this case, lifelong consists of the last week or so, in which I was made aware of the contest.

Vote for Verano the Fish! He’ll Feed Your Family for a Day!

Update: In the interest of ease-of-use, vote for Verano the Fish here: Best Picture Book category

It’s that wonderful time of year again, the Goodreads Choice Awards season!

Goodreads Choice Awards 2013
Goodreads Choice Awards 2013

This past year (according to the eligibility rules for the award, the year stretches from November, 2012 to November 2013 — this may be fallout from the Mayan Apocalypse) I’ve had two books… not quite published, let’s call them ‘released.’

The History of the Mayan Ball League was the first, coming shortly before the Mayan Apocalypse, which happened and did a real number on book sales, as everyone on the planet perished.

Verano the Fish came out in May, 2013 and is the lovely story of a little fish, his family, and a hapless fisherman. It’s written by me and illustrated by my family, which is good, because I couldn’t illustrate my way out of a paper bag.

Both books are a nice short length and, even better, both are *FREE*! Or at least they are on the platforms on which that sort of thing is allowed. Where I couldn’t make them free I made them as cheap as possible. I really, really wanted to make them more expensive in Belgium, because, well, they know what they did. But I didn’t.

So why am I writing you today, you ask?

Great question.

So I would like to humbly beg that, if you enjoyed either of those books, you would vote for them in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2013.

If you haven’t read them yet, I would humbly beg that you go read the books on your iPad or Kindle or nook or whathaveyou. Read them in your browser, as you can download them both, for free, from and then, if you like them, go vote for them.

You can vote for Verano the Fish in the Best Picture Book categoryThe History of the Mayan Ball League is more of a Best Humor sort of book.

Both of these books will require a little extra work on your part, and for that I apologize, profusely. You’ll need to write in the entries. Like so:

Writing in Verano the Fish
Writing in Verano the Fish

Same goes for The History of the Mayan Ball League.

And once you’ve done it, like the voting sticker you receive at the booth, you get a nice little pat on the back, social media-style:

I voted!
I voted!


So please, go vote for Verano the Fish and The History of the Mayan Ball League at the Goodreads Choice Awards 2013. I have just the thing to wear on the red carpet, and some sparkling acceptance speeches to give.

Do Your Civic Duty and Vote for Verano the Fish!

Get out and vote for Verano the Fish (you’ll have to write it in) for the Goodreads Best Picture Book of 2013, please:

Goodreads Choice Awards 2013

If you’re in Boston, you’re probably already in a voting mood, from the mayoral race, so why don’t you keep on exercising that freedom to show what you really love and care about, even if it’s only the lesser of two or three evils and vote for Verano the Fish?


For those of you who were putting off buying (well, downloading) Verano the Fish because you couldn’t see what was actually inside the book and didn’t want to risk downloading some sort of fish snuff book that was far too dark for your children, well, your fears are assuaged!

And you should get downloading.

After many trials and tribulations, we now have screenshots of the book up on the iBookstore!

See what's inside the tin!
See what’s inside the tin!

Tell your friends, your neighbors, leave a review, leave a rating — we’re currently just slightly behind on our goal to win the Caldecott Medal this year (though 2013’s winner was a fish book, so we’re not holding our breath).

Reading Guide for Verano the Fish

We (my son and I) presented Verano the Fish to his class yesterday for Book Day, and we handed out a reading guide for it, to show the kids how we made it.

Verano the Fish: a reading guide
Verano the Fish: a reading guide

It was accompanied by a short Keynote presentation (since the illustrations for the book and book itself live on the iPad we did it all from the one device) and the main goal was to show these second graders how they could create their own book from their own stories.

We even showed them a sneak peek of a Read Aloud version we’ve been working on, in which the kids provide the audio soundtrack while the words are being highlighted for young readers.

All-in-all it was a fun little event.

You can download the reading guide yourself: Download the Reading Guide for your classroom [PDF]

You can also download the Keynote (upon request, I suppose), but it’s a little less useful, because it’s very few words, with a lot of explanation, and I haven’t put any of that in the notes or anything.

The Story of Creating Verano the Fish, Part II

This is a continuation of the story begun in The Story of Creating Verano the Fish. Now on with the story…

But, as W.C. Fields is purported to have said, “Never work with children or animals.”
W.C. Fields had no advice about drawing stuff yourself when you can’t draw, so one day I went with that option. I sketched out a few fish-like drawings in the application called Paper, on the iPad. They looked… well, they looked like this:
A feeble attempt at a fish
A feeble attempt at a fish
Undaunted by the fact that the drawings didn’t look so good, I soldiered on, scrawling out more and more pages like one lone monkey in the room full of an infinite number of monkeys, and I was the one who didn’t get a typewriter. I opened up iBooks Author, added the pages, added the text, and voilà! I had a pretty ugly version of the story which you could read on your iPad. I showed the children and my wife.
I would like to say I had a grand strategy, that I intended to kick start in their little hearts the passion to make something more presentable than their dad’s attempt. That I “threw the game,” as you might say. That the horror they felt at the sight of their beloved story was carefully calculated. In fact, I just might say all of those things, to make myself feel better.
The First Verano iBook
The First Verano iBook
Well, with a start, they roared to life, grabbing the iPad, flipping over to Paper and working through a few of their own fish. That weekend we took a trip to the California Academy of Science in San Francisco to sketch fish. We spent the night at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, sleeping under the sardines in the Open Sea wing.
It was after the night at the aquarium that we had one blessed, focused day, where the kids sketched the artwork for the book. We mailed the pictures to ourselves, and then I began Pixelmating them (a cheaper version of Photoshopping) on the Mac.


Under the Sardines
Under the Sardines

Promotional Strategies

So, as you can tell from the great pile of money I’m sitting on to write this, I’m something of a promotional genius. It’s certainly not for my posture, as my posture goes to pot when I’m sitting on a pile of money, attempting to type. I’ve never read, anywhere, that, to improve your posture you should sit on a pile of money.

Because of this pile of money and fame (the fame isn’t piled, that is incredibly difficult to sit on, and I don’t recommend it), I expect that you’ve come here, looking for promotional advice. “How on earth do you do it?” you might be saying.

Well, I’ll tell you. Per-book pages.

And now Verano the Fish has its very own page, since you can get it from more than one source.

I can tell you, in confidence, because I know you’re that sort of person who will keep a secret, that the main reason for setting up a page for Verano was to be able to hand out the link to people as an easy, mostly reader-agnostic way of getting people the book. Got a Kindle and an extra $2.99? Great, click on the Kindle icon on that page! Have an iPad and thus no more money? Great, click on the iBookstore icon on that page! And, well, that’s it. If you have a web browser and eyes, click on the icon! I’m afraid you’re out of luck, if you don’t fall into those categories. For the moment.

The brilliant thing, the amazing thing is that, if you only have access to papyrus and the blood of a chicken, well, if we end up getting a publisher which will fulfill your needs (hopefully whilst wearing an apron), we’ll chuck a link to it up on that page and future-you will find it there! Hurray!

Plus it’ll make a great promotional tool when we present the book in the kids’ classrooms.

So there you have it, very sage promotional advice from someone who’s sold (or given away) at least 20 copies of his books.