Monthly Archives: March 2014

Book Giveaway Contest

BookshelfDo you see that shelf of books right there? It offends me.

Not because those are my books, but because they didn’t all fit on the shelf. I just received an order of books because my supply was getting a little too low for comfort. When they arrived, I was so excited to put them where they belong and then … my heart sank. This was unacceptable.

I’ll bet you didn’t know I had that level of … umm … OCD (that’s a better word than the one most would use to describe my behavior). Well, I do. Books either fit on the shelf, or I buy new bookshelves. Stacking just makes things messy.

There is no room for more bookshelves here and since I have to look at this all the time, I decided that the best way to deal with it would be to give a complete set of books (all five that have been published so far) away to one person. That way these extraneous books can fill their shelf, rather than sit here taunting me.

I will choose one person from the entrants and ship signed copies of this set to you. First caveat? I’m so sorry, but I will only ship within the US.

Everyone should enter, even if you’ve read them all on your Kindle, or have already purchased the paperbacks. These would be a fun gift for someone who should visit Bellingwood, or maybe you would just love to have some more books for your own bookshelf.

How can you enter? Well, this is going to be posted to Facebook and that’s where the whole contest will happen. I’ll pin the post to the top of the Facebook page and all you have to do is “LIKE” that post. I’d love for you to have already liked the Facebook page, but I won’t get picky about that. Actually, you might want to like the page so you’ll know if your name is chosen! Just go there, like the post, and your name will be entered to win. Go ahead, share it on your own Facebook walls … get your friends to play along.

If you are one of those crazy (and wonderful) people who is reading this and doesn’t have a Facebook account, reply to this post and I’ll make sure you are entered, because I love all my readers!

There’s a deadline. Midnight (Central time) Thursday, April 3. I will announce the winner on Friday and wait with bated breath for them to email me with their mailing information.

I really do love you guys.

Resilience

I drove into town today and was reminded at the resilience of creation. Today is the first day of spring, a date that some of us (me included) thought might never arrive.

Cat in SnowRather than snow in the fields, I see black dirt again, waiting for planting season to begin. Farmers are hauling their big equipment out of the barns and getting it ready, friends are buying seeds for gardens and dreaming of flowers and vegetables to come. My cat wakes me up and begs to be outside, staying for longer than fifteen minutes before returning to the warmth of the heating pad beneath my feet.

And while I haven’t forgotten that there were -11 degree temperatures which held me hostage this last winter, those days are simply a memory. They no longer threaten my movement and become less and less important the closer I get to summer.

I am so fortunate to live in the Midwest where every season is experienced in totality. The beauty of that is each time a new season rolls around, we are fully prepared for the old one to leave and the new one to arrive. We are resilient that way … our joy is found in the change and transformation that comes with the cycles ahead of us.

Friends (and me too) have mentioned that they didn’t want to complain about the horrible temperatures of winter because they despise the awful heat of summer, but it occurs to me that is all part of enjoying our seasons. We are always ready for the next one to arrive and welcome it with open arms. Even spring and fall, which are my favorite seasons, give way to the glory of summertime and the beauty of winter, making a year in the Midwest a wonderful experience.

TB on Front stoopI am so excited to see farmers get back into the fields and watch as the world turns green once more. I have complained about the miserably cold temperatures and whined that winter seems to have lasted forever, but in truth, it is just a short period of time and that is all behind me.

As creation around me springs to life again, I find myself breathing more deeply, taking in the beauty of a sunshiny day and being thankful that I get to experience winter as well as spring.

A World of Creativity

An old friend often described imagination as a nation of images. Whenever he used that phrase, my mind would explode with possibilities. I can read fragments of sentences and a story line flutters at the edge of my imagination. I see photographs or paintings and there is an entire life that exists in the picture, one begging to be told. I read novels and my mind can barely stay quiet as I wait for the author to unfold what has happened in his or her thoughts. I observe as people use things that seem so mundane to create beauty. Our imagination is limitless.

I was fortunate to be raised in a family where creativity was encouraged and imaginations were allowed to run free. My father was a story teller. His stories generally came from reality, but he could spin a yarn better than anyone I’ve ever known. My mother was an artist, a sculptor, a poet, an author, a designer … she could barely contain her creativity long enough to finish things. She always wanted to try something new. It drove Dad crazy, but I look back on the things that she gave me and I can’t imagine her being any other way.

The wonderful thing is that because of that freedom to create and explore, the three of us kids were given an incredible gift. We are all musicians, though each of us has approached our talent differently. We have all explored different mediums as we create beauty in the world. Carol makes gorgeous jewelry and helps children find their own creativity every day. Jim has worked with wood and stained glass; he writes computer programs and has raised three more creative children.

And now, he is coming closer and closer to his own dream of writing a novel and getting it published. I’m in the middle of initial edits right now and it’s exciting to see where his mind goes. We’re very different writers, but the funny thing is to see the similarities in how we approach our stories. Apparently we grew up in the same household.

He has his science-fiction book, Rookie Privateer, in the hands of beta readers right now and isn’t letting the grass grow under his feet. He’s already working on a short story that is part of the world he’s building.

Check out his Facebook page – Fickle Dragon, as well as his website … again: Fickle Dragon. We’re still a couple of months away from publication, but he’s sharing the process as he goes from writer to published author.

Carol doesn’t believe she’s much of a writer. One of these days we will finally convince her that isn’t the truth. The girl has an amazing command of the English language and when she puts her mind to getting words on paper, it’s pretty awesome. I think a Greenwood publishing force could be a lot of fun. Now I just have to get everyone on board. There’s a younger generation out there, too, who have a lot of stories to tell.

Brandon Sanderson signature Brandon Sanderson signing my bookSidenote: Last week I discovered that Brandon Sanderson would be in Omaha and I asked Max if he would take some time to go to the book signing for me. I’m a huge fan of this guy’s epic fantasies and I truly didn’t care which book Max got for me. I just wanted the signature and maybe a photograph of the event. Max did all of that. He stood in line for over an hour and then told Sanderson that I was an author … and got an amazing inscription for me. I totally fan-girl freaked out on this. A lot of the authors that I would pull a fan-girl freak out on are dead now (Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Anne McCaffrey). There are a few who have come up through the ranks and this guy is one of them. I’m so excited, it’s almost more than I can stand.  Thanks, Max.

Creativity and imagination are gifts that have been given to each of us in extraordinary measure. Do not believe for a moment you aren’t filled with them. It might take some time for you to discover where you can make them reality, but let them run free. The world needs just what you have to offer!

All Roads Lead Home – Free

All Roads Lead HomeWhile I’m madly writing away on Book 6 (I can hardly even believe we are that far into the series!), I figure it is always a good idea to keep telling the world about the Bellingwood Series.

You know, writing is one of those things that I’ve always done throughout my life, but never to the point of publishing. I have scores of stories that I’ve started, all waiting for me to bring them fully to life, but when Polly showed up in my mind, I knew she was real and she brought a lot of friends along for the ride.

The little town of Bellingwood exists in its entirety in my mind, too. At least once a week, I drive past the corner where I planted the town in some poor farmer’s fields. It’s the Bellingwood corner to me. When the morning mist hangs over the horizon, I swear I can see the buildings rising up to greet the day. Did you ever see the musical Brigadoon? Kind of like that. I know just where Sycamore House lies and how far it is from there to the downtown. I see the facades on the fronts of the downtown shops and the library, with fifteen steps going up to the front door from street level. I see Joe’s Diner, with its red checkered curtains hanging from the midpoint of the windows and the name painted in white with red outlines on the glass. The bell on the doorway rings every time someone walks in and Lucy smiles as she carries ice-filled glasses of water to the tables. “Order up!” is heard and she carries plates of tenderloins and burgers around while people move out of her way as they talk to their friends over cups of coffee and glasses of coke.

There is nothing more fun for me than to listen in my mind as the townspeople tell me what is happening in their community and find a way to transmit it, so Bellingwood continues to live on, even amidst the seemingly constant tragedies that show up around Polly Giller. For a couple of weeks every few months, she gets embroiled in something or other and those are the stories I have to tell. The rest of the time, her life is as normal as anyone else’s. She lives, laughs, loves and plays with all of her animals and her friends.

Book 1 – All Roads Lead Home will be free until Saturday, March 15th. I hope you have fun with us in Bellingwood! Click on the book link in this paragraph or on the picture of the book at the beginning of this post to get your copy!

Communication Chasm – Bridged

I know, I know … I should be writing words in my book today. I feel guilty … trust me!

As I’ve gotten older, the time change’s disruption to my schedule is less tolerable and I desperately needed a nap yesterday. I lay down and while waiting for the cat to tuck in behind my legs (instant sleeping potion, I’m telling ya), I turned on my Kindle. I’m reading Kevin J. Anderson’s “Clockwork Angels.”

TB snuggled in, my mind started getting fuzzy, my eyes were missing words and I tucked the Kindle and my glasses under the pillow beside me. As I drifted off to sleep, I realized that I had communicated with the author via email back in the late nineties, before fandom exploded all over the internet.

Then, my mind tracked to another author who had communicated several times with me in the same time period – Bob Mayer, of the Area 51 series. I had reached out to both of these men, after doing a little research to find an email address for them, to tell them how much I appreciated their writing and enjoyed their books. Their responses meant a lot to me, even though I’m sure that since they’ve had so much input from fans over the years, I was nothing more than a blip in the cosmos to them.

Copyright 2008, Maxim M. Muir

Grand Canyon. Copyright 2008, Maxim M. Muir

Before I completely drifted off, I began thinking about how much the world has changed and what a short period of time it took to make that change. That was only 15 or 16 years ago. The communication chasm that separated an author from their readers has been bridged and it is amazing.

It was amazing enough that in 1998-99, I was able to communicate at all with an author in a short period of time. I’d written letters years before to authors, but had never received a response. All of a sudden, I could send a quick email while the thoughts were fresh in my mind and communicate with someone whose work I appreciated. Then, within hours or maybe a day, I had a response. That encouraged me to read their next book and try to discover other things they had written. I thought it couldn’t get any better.

But it has.

Last night I posted a quick (and vague … sorry) bit on the Bellingwood Facebook page regarding a plot twist that would be happening in today’s work. The people who read my books get to enjoy part of the writing process with me and I get to talk about what I’m doing while it’s happening. For me, that lessens the solitude of the writing process. But, even greater, I can speak with people I’ve never met before, but have connected to because of my books. That is one of the best parts of how this bridge has changed the world.

This morning when I woke up, there were messages and comments from these new friends (and many old friends) who wondered what I might be up to with the plot. How fun is that? The communication chasm is completely bridged. There is no longer any separation between an author and readers. This is changing everything.

The relationships I am uncovering with new friends on the Polly Giller Facebook page is one of the best parts of writing these books. I believe that any author or musician, artist or designer, or any other creative person would agree – the opportunity to connect with people is as important as creating.

Funny story … random … a little along these lines. It’s been over twenty years ago … I went to a science fiction convention in Omaha with a friend. We had a blast. George Takei was the featured speaker and the place was packed. All day long, we had seen signs reading, “George Takei. Sulu. Live and In Person!”  We waited and waited, wandering through the various booths. There were very few costumed guests in those days, but some were trying their hand at it and they were always entertaining.

We heard the announcement that people should make their way to the room where “George Takei. Sulu. Live and In Person” would speak, so we did. We couldn’t get in. There wasn’t enough space. We’d had a great day and though we were disappointed, it didn’t really change the fact that we’d had so much fun up to that point, so we decided it was time to go.

I didn’t think much more about it until now. Because the internet has bridged this communication chasm, I follow George Takei on Facebook and get to see him “Live and In Person” every day. I don’t have to be disappointed because the room is full … there is no limit now to the number of people he can speak to at any given moment. What a fun transformation this has been.

It just occurred to me (I’m a little slow sometimes) that I hadn’t followed Bob Mayer or Kevin J. Anderson on Facebook yet and though I love their books, it might be even more fun to follow their progress from book to book. I just fixed that.

And now … it’s time for Polly to discover a body and call the Sheriff … it’s what she does.