He’s done it! Erik Weibel, my friend and fellow 12×12 Challenge participant has published his first book!


Book description: “For years the evil villain Wintergreen had tried to destroy super crime-stopper, Tomato and his sidekick, Pea, and take over planet Oarg. In a plan gone wrong, Wintergreen traps himself along with his arch-nemesis in a runaway rocket ship that crashes on a strange planet called “EAR-TH”. Now these perennial enemies must learn to work together to survive the dangers on this strange world. Hungry birds, enormous snakes and the giant inhabitants of EAR-TH stand between this brawling bunch of aliens and finding a way home.”

5 Questions for Erik:

From what I understand you are a very active young man. You practice martial arts, you cook, you write a column for your local paper, you belong to a book club for boys, you review books for your own blog, and you spend a considerable chunk of time beating the required reading requirements for school. And I suppose I haven’t even covered it all! How on Ear-th do you find the time to write, let alone a novel?

One thing is that I really don’t play video games or watch TV (not that we don’t have them, I just like to do other things more (like read and write)). Writing for the newspaper and for my blog are things I really enjoy doing. My newspaper column is once a month so I have a whole month to write that and I have cut down my blog posts to 3 times a week. I used to post more, but it was taking too much time. I find time to write by writing whenever I have the time! I usually write in the early mornings or after school and on weekends. Over the summer I write a bunch of reviews ahead of time. Like right now I have 2 months-worth ready to go!

I’ve been told I’m a very fast reader. To prove that point, I already beat my school reading requirements for the whole year on the 2nd day of school. And on the 4th day of school, I got enough points to get the highest reward possible from our school (getting your name on a plaque) with 204 points.

It took me 3 years to write The Adventure of Tomato and Pea so it didn’t happen all at once. I had to do a lot of editing and re-writing so I had to work on it when I could. I think that’s why it took me so long to write it.

Can you tell us how you met the characters Tomato and Pea? 


My Uncle Dave (Dave Costella) made two stuffed toys (I included a picture of them) and told me they were named Tomato and Pea (I think he named them after the color of the fabric he made them out of). Dave gave me the toys and asked me if I could write a story about them (I am always making up stories). I was nine years old at the time. Dave told me he didn’t care what the story was about, to just use my imagination. I decided that Tomato and Pea are aliens that live on planet Oarg (and no they are not vegetables). They are Smidges (the inhabitants of Oarg) and stand about 5 inches tall. Tomato is Oarg’s greatest hero. Tomato and Pea work for Oarg’s Law Enforcement Agency (O.L.E.).

What enticed you to write about them?

I love Sci-Fi so it was a no-brainer that the book would be about aliens. I couldn’t wait to get writing.

My original story was about 500 words long. When I showed it to Dave, he made up some more characters that I could write about (including a bad guy, because Heroes need a bad guy).

I kept adding to the story because it was so fun to write about. I added more and more to the plot and tried to give more personality to the characters. I love writing twists into plots and I decided that the twist in this book is that all the Smidges end up on EAR-TH. Once I came up with that, it opened a whole new section I could write about.

In school (in fourth grade) I had a project where I had to make a product and develop a business and do a presentation on it. I decided my product would be my book and I wrote more to the story to make it a great product that someone would want to buy (it was about 5000 words at that point – oh, and I got an “A” on my project  ).

I won a critique of my MS on Julie Hedlund’s blog and I sent her the first 10 pages of it (I was very nervous about having an author read my story, but she was SUPER nice). I used Ms. Hedlund’s comments to help me improve my book and really develop the characters. Author Michelle Isenhoff helped me edit the book. She gave me all sorts of advice about proper grammar, character development and she really cheered me on for two years to write my story down. I really appreciate all the help she gave me.

I entered the pitch for my book in Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Would You Read It Wednesday” and my pitch won! I was able to have the pitch critiqued by an actual editor – Erin Molta! Between Ms. Molta’s, Ms. Hill’s and the commenters on Ms. Hill’s blog, I had a ton of great advice on how to make the book better!

Finally, I had a 9000-word early chapter book that I feel really good about.

Hand drawn by the author himself, know what I’m sayin’? Yeah – this illo rocks!

How did you decide to publish the book yourself? 

I did try to traditionally publish my book (not that I ever expected to get an agent/publisher). I wanted to go through the steps and learn about it. It was a great learning experience! I did try to get a publishing agent, but no one took an 11-year-old middle-schooler seriously (I couldn’t even get a rejection letter). Then I tried to get a traditional publishing house to read my MS without an agent and finally I got what I was waiting for – my first rejection letter! It started “Dear Author” – hey that’s ME – an AUTHOR! I have the letter hanging in my room.

I never really thought that my book would be traditionally published but I am really proud of the book I wrote and it is a fun and silly story that I think some kids would enjoy so I decided to try self-publishing it.

What is cool is that some of my friends look at the book and they are thinking “I can do that too.” It would be awesome if my book got other kids to write.

Now for something of a more personal nature, I hope you don’t mind my asking: If you were a vegetable, which would you be? 

I would be a carrot, because I love Carrot Cake, or maybe a zucchini, because I adore Zucchini Bread, but then I could be a Brussels-Sprout because practically no one likes them, so there’s a good chance I wouldn’t get eaten… As you can see, this is a hard question.

I LOVE Brussel sprouts! I’d be honored to make your acquaintance on a plate! Haha! And now a little something for you, from me – a character drawing of my favorite – PEA! I cropped it so you can use it as an avatar should you feel so inclined! Thanks for stopping by on your tour, Erik the Great!


To read reviews and other interviews with Erik the Great check out the blog tour posts:

September 8 Erik’s blog – cover reveal and announce blog tour

September 9 Michelle Isenhoff’s blog – Book review

September 10 KidLit Reviews – Book review

September 11 Mother Daughter Book Reviews – Book review

                       The Story Reading Ape – Guest post by me (Erik)

September 12 Catherine Johnson’s Blog – Book review

September 13 Julie Grasso’s Blog – Book review

By Word of Beth – Book review and giveaway

September 14 Diane Tulloch’s blog – Book review

September 15 Picture Books Help Kids Soar – Book review

September 16 Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog – Interview – Q&A with Commenters and giveaway

September 17 Reading with Rhythm – Book Review

September 18 Julie Rowan-Zoch’s blog – Interview

September 19 Dr. Nana Plum’s (AKA Dr. Niamh Clune) – Book Review in rhyme 😀

September 20 S.W. Lothian’s blog – Book review


Look for your copy here:

30 thoughts on “BLAST OFF!

  1. WOO HOO! Check out my AWESOME new avatar! Thank you SO MUCH Mrs. RoZo! 🙂 Thank you for being part of my blog tour! OH NO!!! You like brussel sprouts?!!!? I am going to have to change my veggie choice 😉 Did you do the SHAZAM too (it’s really cool)? I am going to Tweet this post and post it on facebook! Thank you! 😀


  2. Pingback: Leah’s Voice by Lori DeMonia | This Kid Reviews Books

  3. Fantastic interview and LOVE the Pea Avatar! Woo hoo! So awesome, Julie! We are big fans of Mr. Erik, Tomato and Pea. What a fun stop along the Blog Tour. Have a great day, all!
    ~The Stanley & Katrina Gang


  4. Though peas are not a traditional gift, I think the one you drew is awesome!
    Great interview – I loved hearing more about how the story came to be. Erik – you have some nice illustration skills. What jumped out at me was your handling of facial expressions and eyes – I think that’s the thing that makes illustrators stand out.


  5. Well author Erik I am thrilled that you could use your book as a school project too and get an A well done you. And what a fine pea that is, Julie :0)


  6. What a great blog tour this has been for you! I love your drawings, and I love the avatar Julie made for you of a brussel sprout. Could look like a pea too??? What a great cover that would make. Julie, you are so generous. Love it!


  7. Great Pea – now I understand what that was as your icon. I love the interview. I know so much more about you. I am thrilled for you Erik. Your first rejection letter! Good job! I’d be proud of that, too. You did a great job on your book and on balancing your life. You could teach a few of us how to do that.


  8. I’m lovin’ the pea! Great interview, Julie!!!

    And I would have to agree that you are a fast reader, Erik!
    “already beat my school reading requirements for the whole year on the 2nd day of school. And on the 4th day of school, I got enough points to get the highest reward possible from our school (getting your name on a plaque) with 204 points.”
    Holy rocket reader!!! That’s fast!


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