And so it was in the summer of 2007, with my head in the clouds, I perceived a skunk out of an elephant and yelled aloud, “ EUREKA! This woodland animal was the perfect substitute for Eeyore, the “Disneyfied” donkey of Winnie-the-Pooh fame. Thinking aloud, I surmised what might happen if a skunk had lost its tail instead of a donkey. The skunk would be at a significant disadvantage. After all, without its tail, the skunk would no longer have a means of protection. Hmmm, how about I call its tail a “musket?” Isn’t the skunk’s tail its God-given gear for delivering poisonous musk? And can’t this be done in two ways, by spray or by stream? So, wouldn’t you agree that the skunk’s tail is a built-in gun … right?

I decided not to mention guns and drop the idea of calling it a musket, aware that in future years, having a gun in a children’s book would be most unpopular if not banned within school libraries. The problem is that kids pick up sticks and point them in play as gun substitutes anyway. So what the heck? In the “end,” I decide against it and consider other possibilities. 

I continue my contemplation of this new character with no tail. If I can’t use the word “gun” to describe its protective equipment, what about an atomizer, like those found on perfume bottles? Nope, that won’t work either. Although, like a skunk’s tail, an atomizer delivers a scent when squeezed, the delivery system cannot be regulated. There is only the spray option. So, what else can I compare a skunk’s tail to, if not a gun or a perfume bottle? Ah ha, a squirt bottle comes to mind. I recall many years ago giving my kids water bottles with adjustable nozzles instead of squirt guns to play with. 

Leaving my reverie behind, I return to Electra, joining our passengers, who are already buckled up and ready to go. After getting seated and settled, I incorrectly surmise that I have a few minutes before take-off to adjust my watch. However, Electra revs up her engine unannounced, and in a nanosecond, we zoom ahead seven years, landing in the same meadow from which we had just left. However, now we are in the autumn of 2014. The sites, sounds, and scents of the Meadow Path within Collier’s Discovery Park are different. 

We disembark, heading over to the meadow’s edge, and observe me standing on one of the several paths surrounded by tall fading grasses and wildflowers gone to seed. A chilly breeze blows wispy white clouds in a bright blue sky. I am posing for a local magazine cover shot, with my book in hand for an article about “Sebastian’s Tale,” the self-published adventure novel about what the many character animals do to save Penn’s Woods from an evil intruder. 

I described my hero’s tail as a chamber with musk bullets. Thus, although I avoid using the word “gun,” it is implied, n’est-ce pas? And, if losing his tail isn’t enough of a challenge, readers learn early on in the book that when our hero Sebastian is born, he has inherited a genetic defect from his great-grandfather to the Fifteenth Power of Greats. Like Captain Norton Bulymur, Sebastian is born without his all-important skunk insignias, and like his great-grandfather, NO STRIPES becomes the bane of his existence. 

So, how long did it take me to write and self-publish “Sebastian’s Tale?” Simple arithmetic … seven years. Pictured above, I proudly hold my fable of 376 pages with thirty-three characters. The book is separated into three parts. Parts One, titled “Pretendment,” and Three, titled Enlightenment, comprise 249 pages, while Part Two, titled Primeval Time, is 117. Part Two, a very long flashback, taking place in ancient times, could be considered the book’s prequel, while Parts One and Three are sections of the same story taking place in modern times. Altogether, there are 33 characters. I did it! I now have characters to select as substitutes for the Disney animals I used in DJ’s Tale. And thus, I began to write what I thought would be “DJ’s Tale.”

A year later, I attended an annual writer’s conference sponsored by Women’s Independent Press. I was introduced to Joyce Faulkner, President of Red Engine Press, the afternoon’s VIP speaker. I had a question for Joyce, and during a conversation that followed, I told her that I had self-published a novel and gave her a copy. Within a week, she contacted me, wanting to have lunch. Over that three-hour lunch, we bonded, and shortly after that, Joyce offered to reissue my book. However, her editor felt the format needed to change from one book with three sections to a trilogy of three. Thus, the original book was divided. Parts I and III were knitted together, becoming “Sebastian’s Tale,” Part II became a stand-alone book titled “Norton’s Tale,” and the third in the series, “Quinn’s Quill,” remains an outline in my head. 

Want to know how Sebastian earns his stripes? Are you curious about who or what the evil intruder is? And what has happened to Penn’s Woods that needs saving? Find out by reading Sebastian’s Tale” and “Norton’s Tale.” Hint … purchase directly from my website via Amazon.  

Stay tuned to learn more …