National Friendship Day

I recently downloaded an app called “Today Is…” that tells users the National _______ Day for each day. When I downloaded it, my hope was it would inspire some things to write about for the blog, let me know when the penguin-themed holidays are and maybe lead to some Google searches that would then lead me to some cool penguin stuff that I would share. Today on the calendar it reads, “National Friendship Day”. Here’s some information on the history of “National Friendship Day.

I gush about my friends a lot on here. Probably to the point of embarrassing them, but I mean it when I say that Super Penguin doesn’t exist without the friendships I’ve had over the last 15 years. My high school lunch table friends who read my silly comics, college buddies who I shared my desires to write with who encouraged me, and my adult friends now who continue to support my dream in so many different ways. The importance of friendship is a theme I try to include in my stories. The relationship Paul/Super Penguin has with Annie and Sam are pieces and parts of my friendships with different people. Annie represents my closest friends. We have our silly, lighthearted moments but when I need them most, they are there for me. Sam represents some of my older friends who have acted as mentors for me. There’s even one character who starts on the villain team, and later fights along side Super Penguin. I have friends that while we weren’t “enemies” when we first met, I could not stand them. Over time, a friendship developed and now I can’t imagine life without those people.

Having learned about National Friendship Day, I’m adding it to my “real calendar” and aim to celebrate it every year. “How do you celebrate National Friendship Day?” you might ask. Here’s a list from

  • Get in contact with your buddies for a chat or visit.
  • Accept an invitation to meet new people. You might make life-long friendships you didn’t know could exist.
  • Share a memory with old friends to spark a fun conversation.
  • Tell your friends how much you appreciate them.
  • Challenge your circle of friends to share an experience they think none of your other friends have had. You’ll discover new things about your friends and find out just how unique each of them is. 
  • Mail a card to your friend.

Happy National Friendship Day to all my friends!

Thanks for reading this week’s blog post! If you haven’t done so already, click the follow button, or subscribe on the homepage for updates! Also, please give Super Penguin a follow on FacebookInstagram, and follow me on Twitter for more Super Penguin content! Have a great week!

Exciting News!!!

Hello friends! I’ve stepped away a bit from the weekly blog to focus my Sunday mornings on Super Penguin 2. BUT I have VERY exciting news! On Friday, I received my biggest order to date! 750 books for Danville District 118! 375 for fifth graders and 375 for sixth graders this fall! I will also be doing a special lunch with select students after they’ve read the book!

I’m very excited to share the Super Penguin story with kids from my hometown and am so thankful for Dr. Geddis and her team for this opportunity!


Last Christmas, my parents gifted our family a trip to Hawaii. This past week we went on the trip. We stayed on the island of Maui and had a really great time. Since I started writing this blog, I try to look for things to write about and take lessons from any experience. Today’s post is a collection of some of the highlights. Please note, I’m experiencing quite a bit of jet lag as I write this, so it’ll be more of a collection of pieces and less of a cohesive blog post this week. Thanks for bearing with me through this one! Haha!

We did some really neat things on the trip. While I’m certainly not an outdoorsy person, I really enjoy snorkeling. The condo we rented had access to the beach with a beautiful reef and one afternoon, I journeyed out there with my dad to snorkel. We swam around for a bit, and saw some incredible fish and some sea urchins. I got to a point where I was done and headed back to the shore. My dad, who wasn’t quite done, and about 10-15 feet from me yells out “Rob, Turtle!” and points between the two of us. I rushed to put my snorkel back on and a MASSIVE sea turtle was swimming just a few feet from where I was treading water. After penguins, turtles are my next favorite animal, so seeing this big fella in the wild was amazing. So what was the lesson? There’s a some cliche lessons about “looking beyond the surface” or how my dad saw the turtle because he “hung on a little bit longer”, but I think what stood out to me was the importance of my dad being there. See, when I went out snorkeling, my dad had just finished. We had a limited number of masks, and he had just gone out with my sister, Katie, and her husband, Jason. I was perfectly content going out alone, but, as my dad does, he wanted to make sure I wasn’t alone. Had he not gone out there with me, I would have swam right past the turtle and missed out on what’s now one of the highlights of my trip.

My second lesson of the trip happened while shopping on Maui’s Front Street. Halley, Parker and I stopped in an art gallery. Roughly 20 artists’ works were on display, and some reproductions of some maps. We found some canvas prints we liked (one of them shared below), and wouldn’t you know it, the artist that created what we bought was also working the front counter that day. Her name is Amy Justen.

Love Birds of Wailea by Amy Justen

Amy was very nice to us before we even hinted at making a purchase and were just browsing around the store. But when we went to the counter with a couple of her prints, her face lit up. She was so excited that we chose her work out of all the other artists on display. I recognized that joy. It’s the same joy I feel when I sell one of my books. Her joyful reaction was contagious, and it made me happy to make her so happy. I don’t always wear my emotions on my sleeves, but I hope when you buy my book, that I make you feel as appreciated as Amy made us feel.

I also want to plug Amy’s Instagram and her website. Please check it out!

Last but not least, my third lesson was a reminder to enjoy the ride. To quote one of my favorite philosophers, Frank Zappa, “You got to be digging it while it’s happening, because it just might be a one shot deal.” We rented these little convertibles for a few hours called “Slingshots”.

Halley and me in our Slingshot

Halley and I in one vehicle and Katie and Jason in another, we drove around the island and saw some beautiful scenes. But my favorite part was driving around with Halley. We blared our favorite songs from The Beatles, Barenaked Ladies and Hamilton while the wind whipped through our hair. While I’ll probably forget what some of the scenes looked like, I’ll never forget mumbling my way through “One Week” with my best friend.

Thanks for reading this week’s blog post! If you haven’t done so already, click the follow button, or subscribe on the homepage for updates! If you haven’t done so already, please give Super Penguin a follow on FacebookInstagram, and follow me on Twitter for more Super Penguin content! Have a great week!

Community Connection with Laura Williams

Hello friends! I’m on vacation this week, so no blog post. However, last week I was able to be a guest on the Community Connection with one of my favorite people, Laura Williams. You can listen with the link below! Have a great week!

Creating the Characters

My absolute favorite part of being an author is creating the characters that exist in my world and coming up with their names. When I create the characters, A LOT of thought goes into it. For this week’s post, I thought it would be fun to give you an idea of how my brain works for that process.

As I start the process, the first thing I need to know is the characters purpose. Are they a friend or foe? Do they have a big part or just a minor role? For me, that answer tells me how serious I need to take the character. It’s a silly story about a super hero penguin, so all of the names are silly. But I give myself license to be extra silly with the smaller parts. Minor roles can have joke names, like the elephant “Donald Trunk”. They won’t be around a whole lot of the story, so their name might just be for a quick laugh, or an homage to other pop culture like “Howie the Mallard” a tip-of-the-hat reference to Marvel’s Howard the Duck.

For characters that do play a bigger role, they get a lot more brain storming time. In high school, my creative writing teacher, Mr. Brown, taught us that good writers don’t just make up a name. Each name has a purpose, and when it’s dissected can tell you a lot about the character. Mr Brown used the film The Matrix, to demonstrate that point. Keanu Reeves plays “Neo” who is commonly referred to as “The One”. N-E-O is an anagram for O-N-E. “Neo” also means “new” or “revived” and when you watch those movies those definitions are a part of Neo’s story. Neo’s alter-ego is “Thomas Anderson.” Thomas derived from the Bible’s “Doubting Thomas” who doesn’t believe Jesus came back from the dead until he saw the holes in Jesus’s hands. Thomas/Neo spends a lot of time doubting that he is The One until the movie’s climax.

References I used in Super Penguin include references from everything from the Bible to the Care Bears. Some I named after friends and my dogs. Some of the names are specific to the animal, their job, their role in the story and other bits of trivia. And as the ultimate homage to super hero stories, I use as much alliteration as I can. Just like some of Marvel’s best characters (Reed Richards, Peter Parker, Doctor Doom) I try to do the double letters when I can with characters like Tom Truck and Wally Whax. Speaking of Wally, he checks a lot of the boxes on my character naming checklist. If you’ve read the first few pages of Super Penguin, you know that Wally is a hockey player, and a turtle.

Let me break it down.

  • First, the obvious alliteration with the double “W”.
  • “Whax” is a reference to the popular car product “Turtle Wax”
  • He’s a hockey player who “whacks” a hockey puck for a living.

I do this for every character in the story. Some names are more complex and some less, but every name from the front cover to the back has a purpose. I don’t want to share too much because like Neo in The Matrix some parts of the names coincide with what happens in the story, and explaining their name in too much detail may lead to some spoilers. BUT if you’ve read the first Super Penguin book, and want to know more about the names, ask me on the comments page. I’d love to break down some more names for you!

Thanks for reading this week’s blog post! If you haven’t done so already, click the follow button, or subscribe on the homepage for updates! If you haven’t done so already, please give Super Penguin a follow on FacebookInstagram, and follow me on Twitter for more Super Penguin content! Have a great week!

My First Friend, Nick, and the Importance of Play

When talking about Super Penguin, I’m frequently asked, “How do you come up with this stuff?” or “Where do these ideas come from?” My responses are usually “I don’t know, I just do,” and ” I don’t know where they come from, they just kinda appear.” Those responses may seem like copouts but they are sincere and truthful. I don’t know specifically how my brain thought to combine a penguin and cape, it kinda just showed up in my head one day. Perhaps the better question is, “Why do those ideas show up in my brain?” And to that, I absolutely know the answer. It’s because I grew up with one of my best friends, Nick Mills.

Nick was my very first friend and to this day one of my best friends. We don’t see each other nearly as often as we’d like. But when we do reunite, we always pick up right where we left off.

Nick and me at his wedding. June 18, 2022

I don’t remember when we met, because we were both so young. Nick and his family have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Our parents bought some of the first houses on Indian Ridge Drive in North Las Vegas, Nevada and as young boys did in the 90s we played a lot.

Sometimes we played with action figures. It was usually a hodgepodge of X-men, Star Wars, G.I. Joes and Jurassic Park dinosaurs all interacting with one another in some elaborate story that we’d make up. Other times we were the characters in the story. We’d get our NERF guns, lightsabers and other toy weapons, fight invisible foes also with an elaborate story. If we didn’t have a toy version of a weapon we wanted to have at our disposal, we’d put a random item in it’s place. For example, a small, foam NERF basketball made an excellent fill-in for a grenade that we’d toss at our invisible bad guys.

We’d play these games at my house, Nick’s house, and in the after school “Safe-Key” daycare we attended. We played A LOT and never seemed to use the same story twice. It was always off the cuff, high stakes adventures that would keep us entertained for hours on end.

My family moved away from Nevada and on to Illinois when I was 10 years old. I didn’t realize this until I started writing today’s blog post, but when my family moved, I never played with anyone like that again. I still played with my action figures, but the playtime was never collaborative with another friend. New friends were made and we’d play video games together, or sports outside, but the creative, story building adventures went away with the move to Danville.

This weekend was Nick’s wedding. We had so much fun reminiscing about the good times, and we had a lot of fun thinking about the future too. Nick said to me in a letter, “I hope Maggie and I can have kids soon. so our kids and Parker can play together”. I thought about that sentiment, smiled and couldn’t agree more. I am so thankful that I was blessed to grow up with a super creative kid right across the street from me. I’m also incredibly blessed that our parents became best friends too, maximizing the amount of playtime we had together. And though I can’t recall what a single one of those stories were about, I’ll never forget playing with my friend Nick.

Thanks for reading today’s blog post! If you haven’t done so already, click the follow button, or subscribe on the homepage for updates! If you haven’t done so already please give Super Penguin a follow on FacebookInstagram, and follow me on Twitter for more Super Penguin content! Have a great week!

Meeting J. Lee at Indy PopCon

Last week, Super Penguin made its first convention appearance at Indy PopCon. While we were there, I had the pleasure of meeting actor, J. Lee.

J is best known for his role as Chief Commander John LaMarr on the Hulu sci-fi comedy, The Orville, which previously aired on Fox. My wife, Halley, and I are big fans of the show, so when we found out J was going to be at Indy PopCon we were pretty excited to meet him.

We had the opportunity to talk to J for a few minutes. We talked about the show and it’s new season coming out, a little about the midwest (he’s from St Louis and graduated from Indiana University, Go Hoosiers!). And we also talked about how his acting career started, which is a very cool story, and a great example of dreams coming true in unusual ways.

My wife Halley, J. Lee and me at Indy PopCon

Before he was on television screens, J sat behind a desk. More specifically, a receptionist desk at Fuzzy Door Productions, Seth MacFarlane’s production company. As he spent time there, he would frequently have chats with actors and writers. His desk became the go-to place for people, especially Seth, to hang out between meetings. Conversations led to friendships, friendships led to parts, parts led to bigger roles, and when it came time to cast The Orville, Seth offered J his biggest role yet. If you’d like to read more about that journey, you can read about it here)

J was super cool to meet. He was so friendly and fun to talk with (I can see how he made so many friends at his reception desk) But what made meeting J really neat for me, was the parallels between his story starting up, and where I’m at on my journey with Super Penguin. My best friend Gardner and I talked about how we were “planting seeds” PopCon weekend. Each book we sold, or bookmark we gave away can lead to all sorts of future possibilities. And just like J didn’t know his receptionist job would lead to being the Chief Commander of The Orville, I don’t know what the weekend at PopCon will lead to, but I am very excited to find out what’s next!

Thanks for reading my blog post! If you haven’t done so already please give Super Penguin a follow on Facebook, Instagram, and follow me on Twitter.


I’ve been really working on being more of a “half glass full” kind of guy. Today I feel like I was tested on this, and I feel like I passed.

I sold 3 books today for day one of Indy Pop Con. Three! A glass half empty guy, would tell you I lost today. But I feel like I’m winning! I’m building my brand, expanding Super Penguin’s audience, and making connections with people I never met before today.

I met Jonah, who shares the same admiration I do for penguins, and bought the book because they are his favorite animal. If he’s true to his word, he’s reading Super Penguin in his hotel room as I type this blog post.

I met Elayna who bought the book for her 10 year old nephew, and Super Penguin looked like something he’d enjoy.

Last but not least, I met Luke who really digs super heroes. After talking to Gardner and I for a minute, he thought Super Penguin sounded like something he’d enjoy and he bought a copy too.

Selling these three books are baby steps in my big picture plan. But baby steps forward, are still steps forward and I’m so excited for each of them.

Life Lessons from Robin Williams

This week, I was struggling to come up with a subject for my “Life Lessons” series. I sat at my desk, thinking and thinking and then I looked up. Above my desk is an 11×14 poster with one of my favorite quotes. It reads, ” ‘You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it’–Robin Williams ”

I bought the poster when I started focusing on my writing. In my early days Super Penguin, I was embarrassed to tell people “I’m writing a book about a crime fighting penguin.” It seemed silly, crazy, or even mad, But when I would read the quote, and considered Super Penguin to be my little spark of madness, it helped me keep going.

Many, MANY people know I’m a Robin Williams super-fan. Like most of my personal history, I don’t remember when this admiration started. I presume somewhere between Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire and Flubber. These were some of my favorite movies growing up, and as I grew older I explored more and more of his movies and became a bigger and bigger fan. I also remember being a little kid and thinking it was neat that he and I had the same initials.

Years later on September 30, 2009, I met Robin. He was on is Weapons of Self Destruction Tour. One of his stops was Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where I was going to school at the time. My friend Matt and I attended the show, and afterwards we met Robin. It was one of my all time favorite moments. I got some really neat autographs, and took the picture below. But I will never forget how kind he was to me and the rest of his fans. He posed for several pictures, signed photos, and for a little bit spoke to his fans in the Mrs. Doubtfire voice.

Rob, Robin Williams, and my friend, Matt. 2009

Years later, my friend Gardner and I began going to comic conventions. During those conventions, I’ve met three co-stars of Robin’s; Linda Larkin (who voiced Princess Jasmine in Aladdin), Henry Simmons (co-starred with Robin in World’s Greatest Dad) and Dante Basco (played Rufio in Hook). I asked each one of them, “What was it like working with Robin Williams?” and each one talked about how nice he was to everybody on set, and how much fun he had while working, never taking himself or the job too seriously. There’s my lesson from Robin. Be nice and have fun. It’s so simple, but with all the other crud we have to deal with sometimes, we lose sight of what’s most important. Be nice to everyone, you never know what they are going through, so be nice all the time.

As a super-fan, I have the uncontrollable urge to share some of my favorite life lesson movie quotes from Robin to close out this week blog post. Have a great week, and don’t lose your little spark of madness.

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change this world.” –Dead Poets Society

“Sometimes you can have a whole lifetime in a day and never notice that this is as beautiful as it gets.” The World According to Garp

“The world is your oyster. Never stop trying new things.” –Dead Poets Society

“You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” Good Will Hunting

“If there’s love, dear…those are the ties that bind, and you’ll have a family in your hear, forever.”-Mrs. Doubtfire

“You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.”-Patch Adams

“Please don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this earth. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness. Turning night into day…make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular.–Jack

“Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary”-Dead Poets Society

Life Lessons From My Friend, Mike Hulvey

For Week 3 of the me sharing the wisdom shared with me series, I wanted to talk about my friend Mike. I previously mentioned Mike two weeks ago when I talked about my friend, Bob Kay and he’s absolutely worth mentioning today. I don’t remember the first time I met Mike. I remember moving to Danville in 1999 when I was 10 years old, and I don’t remember living in Danville and not knowing Mike, so there’s a pretty good chance it was pretty early after the move.

My clearest, early memories come from spending a week in Mike’s Sports Media Camp for Kids. Every summer, Mike, Scott Eisenhauer, Eric Westfall and others would spend a week with kids from around the community (and some from other states too). These kids got to talk with media professionals from around the world, including ESPN, professional sports teams, as well as some athletes too. The campers also had the opportunity to learn how to do play by play, write a news story, co-host a sports talk show and much more. Over time, I’d get to know Mike more. I worked at the radio station he managed through high school, and would spend most Saturday mornings with him and the other Saturday Morning Sports Talk Guys.

Mike and my mom also became great friends, Mom refers to Mike as the brother she never had. So our paths have intertwined for many years, and over the years I’ve picked up a few lessons.

  1. “March Fourth, B Positive”–If you know Mike, you know this is his personal motto….as well as his birthday, and blood type! Mike embodies his motto and his personality and positivity are contagious. For me, it’s easy to be a sarcastic curmudgeon, especially when times are tough. When writing, it’s very easy for me to get overly critical of myself and stop writing for days, weeks or even months. But when you (or I) get down, just remember to “March Forth, Be Positive”
  2. Dream Big, Then Do It–Mike was a 2017 inductee to the Danville High School Wall of Fame. I was honored to have been asked to co-introduce him, along with his daughter, Macey. The first (and best) part of my speech was blatantly plagiarized from the opening of Mike’s bio that now hangs in the hallway at DHS. It read’s “As you walk these hallways, know that anything is possible. You have an obligation to dream big, to see the future and make it so. If you took the time to read this, then keep working, don’t stop, and never give up. You’re from Danville High School, just look around, you can do anything!”
  3. Invest in the Future Generations–Mike’s Sports Media Camp for Kids is really, really awesome, but what’s even more awesome is what happens after the camp. Rather than seeing them off and waiting for a reunion a year later, Mike gives several students opportunities like none other. Opportunities like doing radio play by play for baseball games, sideline reporting for high school football, working part time at the radio station among many more. When I graduated and left my post as the radio station’s weekend help, another camper took my place, and another one after that. Hundreds of kids have gone through the camp in the nearly 30 years its existed, and Mike has given opportunities like this to so many of them. Not every kid had every opportunity, but every one of them had Mike actively rooting for all of them. He frequently tells stories about his campers and you can feel the pride in his words. Mike’s campers have got on to work in professional baseball, cover NCAA games for radio and print, host their own podcasts, and a couple even worked last year’s Super Bowl in Los Angeles. Mike’s been a big encourager for me personally with Super Penguin, and I’ve learned the best way to pay that back, is to pay it forward.

Thank you Mike for all that you do for our community and especially for our young people! March Fourth!