Other books by Dave Whitaker:

Monday, August 27, 2012

Otter's Going to RenFest!

image from kcrenfest.com

I will be appearing at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival doing readings and selling my book, Otter and Arthur and the Sword in the Stone. I will be appearing the following weekends:

  • September 1, 2, & 3, 2012
  • September 8 & 9, 2012
  • September 22 & 23, 2012
  • September 29 & 30, 2012
  • October, 6, 7, & 8, 2012

You can find my vendor booth in the Trade Wind Pirates' Adventure Cove children's area. Check kcrenfest.com for full details about the festival and times for my readings.

Kansas City Renaissance Festival
633 North 130th St
Bonner Springs, KS 66012

Sunday, August 26, 2012


image from hellaheaven-ana.blogspot.com

Getting a book made is a long process involving many people. Obviously the writer bears the brunt of the responsibility in taking a book from its initial idea to a final version. That process requires a lot of note taking, plenty of rough drafts, and a great deal of editing.

There are, however, many people involved in making a book become a reality. I have self-published books and have used traditional publishing (see all of my books here or check out my Amazon Author Page). There are pros and cons to each. The latter means someone else takes responsibility for editing the book, developing the cover art, and promoting it. If, however, an author self-publishes, that means taking on the responsibility and cost of getting all that work done. I chose to self-publish because of the satisfaction of having a book hit the market as soon as it is ready. Traditional publishing can take a year or more even after the book is "done."

My book started in the spring of 2011 with an idea which developed because of my kids (see "The Origin of Otter and Arthur"). My first acknowledgement is to them for letting me brainstorm ideas with them and reading them early drafts of the book. I never would have been inspired to write this book if it weren't for my boys' love of books.

I put together my basic story idea and started sharing it with my writers' group. By the way, for any budding writers who are reading this, I highly recommend this process. I got great feedback from fellow writers which went a long way toward shaping this book. Thank you so much to Rachel Ellyn, Julia Flowers, Greg Gildersleeve, Kara Hoffmann, Ken Hursh, Susan Grace Napier, Christine Williams, and Denny Young for all your work in helping my book become a reality! You can learn more about their works here.

I finished up my final draft this summer. Then I turned to Joyce Jackson to edit my book. She had edited three of my books before when she worked at School-Age Notes and I was pleased at the opportunity to work with her again.

I also wanted strong cover art which not only gave potential readers a glimpse of what they'd find inside, but would make people want to pick it up. I definitely got that with Gen Goering's wonderful cover art. She had done lots of work in the art field, such as set designs for Kansas City's Lyric Opera, but this was her first stab at book cover art. I am overjoyed with the results.

Thank you to everyone for your help in making Otter and Arthur and the Sword in the Stone a reality!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Otter First Sees the Sword in the Stone

screenshot from Disney's The Sword in the Stone

An Excerpt from Chapter 6: Otter Goes to the Village

This scene takes place about a third of the way into the book. It is Otter's first trip to the village of Dragon Head where he sees the sword in the stone for the first time. The story is told in first person from Otter's viewpoint.

You can listen to an audio file of the excerpt here:

or read the text below:

I was mesmerized by the village. I had never seen so many people and so much activity. The food was phenomenal. Shops sold and traded clothing, jewelry, beads, pottery, baskets, tools, and musical instruments. The shops surrounded a town square, which was the local gathering place for important meetings and events.

I was most intrigued by the town square and the peculiar decoration at its center. On top of a large stone sat an anvil. A sword had been thrust into the anvil. It seemed an odd centerpiece for the town.

When Arthur and Kay passed a blacksmith shop, they begged Merlin to stop so they could look at the swords and armor. Merlin waved a hand toward the shop to indicate it was okay. I beamed with pride at my own sword.

It was a hot day but the blacksmith in the back still slaved over his hot stove. He showed Arthur and Kay how to put the iron in the hot fire and then pound it into shape by placing the object on an anvil and hitting it with a hammer. He was eager to answer the boys’ questions.

After watching the blacksmith a few minutes, Arthur asked, “Did you put that sword in the anvil in the village square?”

“No,” replied the blacksmith. “No one knows how it got there. That large stone has been there as long as I can remember. A dozen years ago, that sword and anvil just showed up.”

“Why hasn’t someone pulled it out?” Arthur asked.

“It’s not from lack of trying,” replied the blacksmith. “I’ve seen the strongest knights in the kingdom tug on that thing for hours. No one’s even got it to budge.”

The answer satisfied Arthur and he returned to checking out the swords in the shop. A woman in front, who I assumed was the blacksmith’s wife, approached the boys.

“Be careful with those swords. I don’t want any heads lopped off in our shop.” Kay and Arthur nodded in agreement.

“You boys planning to be knights some day?” inquired the woman.

“Oh, yes, ma’am,” said Kay with excitement.

“Not me,” said Arthur in a disappointed voice.

“What’s the matter, boy? You don’t want to be a knight?”

“No, ma’am. I’d love it, but I’m not of noble birth.”

The woman looked at Arthur suspiciously. “You sure dress like a noble.”

“Oh,” said Arthur, “I was born to peasants but adopted by Sir Ector.”

“Hmmph. If you ask me, it’s the people like us who ought to be deciding if we fight or not. What do the nobles have to lose?” she grunted, jerking a thumb toward Kay. “They already have plenty.”

Kay rolled his eyes, but Arthur nodded in agreement. “I think you’re right,” he said. “Everyone should have a say.”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Origin of Otter and Arthur

early sketch of Otter done by Gen Goering

The seeds for Otter and Arthur and the Sword in the Stone were planted in the spring of 2011. My oldest son, 8 at the time, loved Harry Potter and Peter Pan. My youngest, then 5, was a fan of stories with mice such as Beverly Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

In my teen years I was a big fan of Arthurian legend. I was eager to share my passion with my children, but was discouraged by the absence of age-appropriate versions of the tales. While there is no shortage of books about King Arthur, they are generally the equivalent of R-rated movies.

I was also dismayed by how little attention was typically given to Arthur's youth. Most accounts glossed over those years, quickly get to the point when Arthur pulls the sword from the stone, and then focused the brunt of the attention on his years as king.

I had published more than a dozen non-fiction books, many focused on activities for children. It seemed time to take a stab at children's fiction - and tell this story which had sadly been shortchanged.

I hatched the idea of a mouse nicknamed Otter who lived in Merlin's cottage. He secretly watches Merlin tutor Arthur learning jousting, archery, magic, and more. Most importantly, though, he eventually becomes friends with Arthur - and helps him become king.

I owe my gratitude to my kids and my writers' group for the excellent feedback they gave me on early drafts of this book. It is because of their wonderful suggestions that this book exists.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book: Otter and Arthur and the Sword in the Stone

Follow a mouse nicknamed Otter who soars over a castle on the back of a falcon, practices jousting with a squirrel as his horse, rummages through Merlin’s spell books, and storms the corridors of Camelot with a cat and dozens of knights chasing him. Most importantly, Otter befriends a boy named Arthur and helps him become literature's most celebrated king. 190 pages. Catalog number: OABK0812; Price: $9.95

Also available: the sequel, Otter and Arthur and the Round Table.

Buy directly from me, the author, for $9.95 + shipping & handling. The "Add to Cart" button will process credit cards through PayPal, but you do not need a PayPal account.

Also available from Amazon for $12.95 + postage & handling and taxes.

Also available at Barnes & Noble for $12.95 + shipping & handling and in Kindle format for $2.99.