Ferdinand Uses the Potty: An Empowering Toilet Training Tale, is my first venture into writing for children. It is the story of Ferdinand the Frog and how he overcomes his fear of using the potty. Ferdinand has the encouragement of his owner and best friend, a small boy he loves him dearly. The book is written in rhyme, so not only is it a valuable tool in the toilet training process, it is fun to read. Ferdinand wakes up one morning in a wet bed and he does not know how it happened. As the story progresses, Ferdinand learns that he can not simply hold it all day. He has to face the fear of the awful sound the potty makes when it is flushed. With encouragement from his best friend, he faces his fear head on. It is a triumph that I hope many children will share with Ferdinand.
Tell us something about yourself.
I am a native South Floridian. I have a degree in elementary education from Florida Gulf Coast University and I’ve spent my entire professional career working with young people as a youth minister and in the classroom as a teacher. I married my high school sweetheart, Kimberly, and together we have two beautiful children. I have been writing professionally for a relatively short time, only about three years. I published my first book, The Whole Youth Worker; Advice on Professional, Personal, and Physical Wellness From the Trenches in 2008. I love to write from personal experience. I believe everyone has a book inside of them that is just waiting to be put to paper. Everyone is an expert about something.
What inspired you to write this book?
My wife and I had a tough journey in toilet training our son. We read all the books, tried all the different methods, and still he was not having success. It was not until we settled down and realized that he was going to achieve potty training success in his own time and at his own rate that he started to get it. We learned that potty training must be something that is approached with patience, humor, and love. My book is really a celebration of this discovery. My sincere wish for this book is that it inspires other parents to enjoy the process and appreciate the effort it takes from their little one.
How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?
I am very fortunate to have a publisher that believes in my ability. Victor Volkman, the owner of Loving Healing Press, published my first book and I approached him with the idea for this potty training book. He liked the idea and gave me the freedom to go for it. I was introduced to Mr. Volkman by the editor of my first book. He had worked with him on other books and he thought my youth ministry project would be ideal for Loving Healing Press. I sent my manuscript to Victor, and I was immediately impressed with his care for authors and with the fairness he showed me throughout the entire process. In the writing game, it is all about the connections you make.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
As a young boy, I would spend hours in my room thinking of stories and creating my own books. I pursued journalism in high school and became sports editor of my high school’s paper. I caught the writing bug from that experience and decided that one day I would achieve my dream of becoming a published author. I read as much good writing as I could, and tried to implement things I learned from the authors I read. Along the way, I received a ton of encouragement from teachers, family, and friends. During my course of study in college, I enrolled in a children literature class. One of the assignments was to write a story in the style of an author of my choosing. I chose Dr. Seuss and set out to write a story about this frog that I had been doodling since middle school. Out of that experience came Ferdinand the Frog. When the time came to write my children book for Loving Healing Press, I simply told the story of my child’s potty training experience with Ferdie as the star.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
The hardest part of writing is overcoming the thought that you can not do it. I never sit down with the goal of writing a book. I write because I love to write and sometimes it gets developed to the point of becoming a book. I encourage people to write about what ever it is that gets them out of bed in the morning. Passion=good writing.
How do you do research for your books?
I write about things I experience. Life is the best research project out there. I have never set out to write about anything that I have not lived out. I guess that makes me a little different from other authors. I am not much of a researcher, so if it is not something that is part of my life, or something I have experienced, I will not write about it.
Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?
I learned that creating a story for children is challenging because you have to get you point across in a very succinct way. Children have short attention spans, so the goal is to create something entertaining without wasting any words. I have found that it is much more daunting to say what needs to be said in few words.
What are you reading now?
I spend a lot of time reading things that inspire my passion for God. I love to read the Bible, not only for the spiritual significance that it has in my life, but also because I find it to be an enchanting and engaging work of literature. The writers of the Bible were inspired by God, making their words as relevant now as they were the day they were written. The goal of any author is for their work’s relevance to far outlive them.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I have a rather eclectic group of authors who I count among my favorites. My favorite book of all time, aside from the Bible, is Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain. Twain was a master of story telling who used humor to tell stories of great social conscience. Other authors whom I enjoy are Rob Bell, Doug Fields, George Carlin, and Mark Levin.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I have four Ferdinand the Frog stories in the vault that are already written. I work closely with illustrator D.E. West. Our next project is called Ferdinand Gets a Sitter. It is about the first time that Ferdinand has to stay with a baby sitter. I want to engage Ferdinand in situations that all parents and children can identify with. Other books that will hopefully come out with Ferdinand include a Christmas story, a tale about Ferdinand and his friend Travis the Turtle (a turtle who is deaf), and a chapter book that is intended for 1st-3rd grade readers about the first day of school.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Make connections with people who know a lot about the process. I would definitely encourage anyone to have their manuscript professionally edited. Find an editor that understands and appreciates your point of view. Writing for publications, blogs, and other websites that fit your style are also valuable ways of getting your name out there. People want to read things written by others who know what they are talking about. So research the internet for sites and forums that involve people who are looking for the type of information you know about.
What are you doing to promote your latest book?
I scour the net looking for interview, blog, and writing opportunities. I love to write, so I am very willing to write for just about anyone who wants to hear what I have to say. We are also utilizing Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace. Social networking sites are terrific free resources that give you a captive audience of friends. I would also suggest using Google Adwords. You can set the cost perimeters to meet your budget.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
Our website is www.ferdiethefrog.com. Our site provides the viewer with a blog, free coloring pages of Ferdinand for children, the video game “Frogger” that they can play for free, and a link to our book’s page on www.amazon.com.