Thursday, December 16, 2010

Last Official Open House of the year- this Saturday- December 18th

I feel like I am living in that movie, Groundhog Day. This has been a busy month. I don't remember the last time I kept the kiln fires burning so often. I am currently firing the last kiln of the year in preparation for Saturday's open house, here at the studio, 1150 E 800 S in Salt Lake, from ten to five. If you would like to be on my email list for future mailings about shows and sales, email me at benbehunin@comcast.net .
I also have the full Niederbipp Trilogy here at the studio for only $36--40% off the retail price. I have had a steady stream of folks coming for last minute gifts and would love to see you too. Niederbipp always welcomes you.
I am looking forward to some time off from pottery to write. I will update the blog soon about that, but I am really excited about this story. It seems to be knocking on my door with at least as much force as the Niederbipp series did and that makes me really happy. I am excited to find out what the universe wants me to learn this time.
Maybe I'll see you this weekend. Viva Niederbipp!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Two More Weeks for Open House

Just a reminder that the
Wild Rooster Artworks Studio Open House will continue on the next two Saturdays at 1150 E 800 South in Salt Lake (my studio behind my home)
These will run from 10-5 with fresh pots on each Saturday. If Saturdays don't work for you, give me a call. 801-883-0146. I will be in the studio most days and dozens of people are stopping by during the week, hoping to catch me on the wheel. This is kind of nice because it gives me a chance to talk to people on a more personal level that the crowded open house does not afford. I have all three books available here as well as lots of pottery, mugs, bowl, platters, tiles. You can see many of these items at www.potterboy.com
If you are out of town and would like to order the books, either for yourself or for someone you love, you can do that by calling me directly or by ordering online at Amazon. While you're there, take the opportunity to fill out a review. It is fast and easy and helps spread the good news of the Niederbipp Trilogy.
If you would like to receive a copy of my annual newsletter via email, send me an email to benbehunin@comcast.net and I will send one your way.
I hope to see you sometime soon. Happy Holidays.
Viva Niederbipp! Ben

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Studio Open House Begins December 4

I have been somewhat neglectful of my blog in recent weeks. I have been busy working in the studio, making pots, cleaning, dusting, getting ready for the Studio Open House which begins officially this Saturday at ten. So, here it is
Wild Rooster Artworks
Studio Open House
Official Dates December 4, 11, 18
Unofficial Dates --The Entire Month of December
except Sundays
1150 E 800 S
Salt Lake City, Utah
10 am - 5pm

Unofficial means there probably won't be any treats as there will be on the Saturdays, but there will be lots of great pots and books and a tour of the studio. If you haven't been here before, you really need to come. It is a wild, creative place. If you come on the unofficial days, give me a call before hand just to make sure I am here and not Christmas shopping, but I do plan to be around most of the time and it is likely that you will catch me at the wheel, making pots or glazing or loading the kiln.
801-883-0146
On Saturdays, you will find the studio cleaned up, organized and filled with lots of people waiting to taste Lynnette's cookies or handmade toffee that she will have available to sample and for sale for $10/ half pound box. It's amazing. She will also have carmel and licorice carmel available for $8/ box.
I have the Niederbipp Trilogy available here for $36.00--40% off retail price.
The pottery is also on sale for 10% off. This is something I do every December for my customers, but this year I am offering my customers a no-pressure opportunity to help out local charities by donating the 10% you would have saved to places like the Utah Food Bank and others.
I am also doing a shoe drive. Bring a pair of new or used shoes to donate to charity and you will receive one free Fridgehead magnet for each pair of shoes you bring.
Parking is a little tricky. You are welcome to pull into my driveway, or park on 8th South and walk.
I look forward to seeing you.
Happy Holidays!
p.s. you can see a lot of my work at www.potterboy.com

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Perspective

I was working with a friend of mine, installing a toilet grab bar for an ailing neighbor on Monday night when my buddy's phone rang. I watched as his face went pale and a look of sickness came over him. "My dad just shot himself," he said. A minute later, we were on our way to the hospital. I spent much of the night there with him as he and his siblings gathered to make life and death decisions with other family members. We were informed by doctors that if they tried to save him, he would never be the same, would likely be paralyzed and blind and have a really crappy life, requiring 24 hour care. If they wanted to go that route, they would have to decide within the next hour because emergency surgery would be required to save whatever life was left to save.
I watched as my friend and his family struggled with the issues they'd been presented with. It was an emotional time and emotions ran high and deep as they discussed their decisions. Several prayers were said, that they might know the will of God and be able to understand and accept that will. My friends father was a good guy who had his issues and challenges, but this had come as a complete shock to everyone present. He had talked about ending it before, a few times over the last thirty years, but showed no signs of depression and took no action towards that. He was just married on Saturday. Things were mostly good. But he started drinking Monday afternoon and after Jack Daniels started speaking for him, things went bad quick.
The decision to take him off life support was made nearly an hour before we were allowed to see him, and I'm grateful the decision had already been made. If anyone had any hesitation or struggle with the decision, I think all of that was gone as soon as we saw him. I don't think any of us recognized him. What a terrible way to go. What a selfish way to die. I have been around death many times in my life. There is often a sweet spirit of peace associated with death. There was no sweet spirit there that night--just unanswered questions, sorrow, pain and turmoil.
I didn't sleep that night. I don't know anyone in the family who did.
Today, in the land of Niederbipp, there was finally some hint of hope. My friend has three younger brothers, all of whom took pottery in high school. They came over this morning to work on some urns for their father's ashes. Today, though they each wore the signs of pain on their faces, these brothers worked for several hours to create. They were all rusty. Apparently making pottery on the wheel is not like riding a bike, but there was laughter and chiding and encouraging words and in the end, seven beautiful jars that will store the remains of their father. I know my friend well. I know his family. I know of their faith in God. Their father did not share that faith, at least not anymore. I have found myself thinking about faith a lot lately. It is hope in things that are real and true. It is a journey, one filled with probably at least as many valleys as peaks, but if it is true, a journey that propels one forward. There is a great quote from Winston Churchill that says, "If you're going through hell, keep going." I think sometimes we spend too much time in hell. We need to keep moving. We need to get back to the top of the hill where the sun can shine, where we can see by the light of truth. I am grateful I am not a judge. There before the grace of God go I. It seems the answer to most of life's problems and challenges lies in perspective. We must somehow rise above, or seek the counsel of one whose perspective is broader than ours. Many of us are kept from the truth because we know not were to find it. Keep going. Keep your head up. I have learned that above the clouds, there is always sun.
I have found it interesting how doors open. I'm not sure sure if I mentioned already what my next book is about, but I have been working on it now for several months, working on research and just began really writing last week. It is a story about a young man, who after a botched suicide attempt, learns to discover what life is all about by attending funerals. There is a great Quaker proverb that says, "Proceed as the way opens." It seems that the universe wants me to write this book. I pray I can do it justice.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Much Needed Vacation


I spent the weekend in Mt Pleasant, at a friends retreat in a little pioneer home. This was the same place where I went to be alone to work out some kinks on Remembering Isaac a couple of years ago . I took the family and some friends for a glorious weekend of peace and relaxation. There is something magical about laying in a hammock under the autumn sky. I love all the seasons, but Fall has always had a special place in my heart. The colors, the scents on the wind. There is something so amazingly wonderful about the sweet smell of willows in the fall. The colors, the sound of the wind, the clouds that blow across the sky, the sight and sound of geese and other birds flying south. I love it all. There is something special about Mt Pleasant. It is in the middle of Sanpete County. It is a place where time has a different meaning. I have always felt this way about this place.

My friends purchased this cabin 14 years ago, shortly after their son was murdered up Emigration Canyon. He had gone out to take pictures of the moon with his girlfriend. He was shot and killed instantly by a young man who wanted to see someone die. His girlfriend was shot several times, missing every vital organ, and then left for dead. She survived. This cabin has served for years as a place of refuge for the family who has suffered so intensely. Three years ago, another of their sons passed away from cancer. This has been very hard on my friends. Being down there at their cabin this weekend, I realized how much hope there is in this family. It is a place of peace and quiet reflection. I wish there were more places like this left in the world. It is a place where you can always hear the sound of the wind in the trees. There is always peace, always hope, always a haven for those who seek it there.

I came home with a cold. My voice is gone and so I had to cancel my signing yesterday and will likely cancel my signing tomorrow. I simply cannot talk without pain. I'll get better. Meanwhile, I had a very nice man stop by yesterday to pick up fifteen books to share with friends and family for Christmas. I met him last week in Bountiful at Costco. He purchased the third book in the store and talked me into selling him copies of book one and two in the parking lot since Costco is not currently carrying them. He explained that he had been reading the books to his wife and they had been touched . I have had the chance to speak to book clubs in the last few days too an have sold more than 100 books there, along with a bunch of pots. It seems like this series is gaining momentum, but not at all in the way I thought it would. People are talking and sharing and recommending the books to their friends and neighbors. It is multiplying as it rolls forward. It is so fun to receive your emails and letters, thanking me for the books. It is often very humbling to hear your stories about finding the love of God, wanting to become better, thinking more compassionately about those around you. Thanks for sharing.

Ten days ago, a big change came to my life. I was released from a calling in my church that I have held for more than six years. I am a Mormon, and like the Quakers, there is no paid ministry in my church. People take turns serving each other. For the past six years, I have served as a bishop in my congregation. It has been an intensely humbling experience over those years, one that has caused me to lean heavily on God for direction and guidance as I have made decisions that have effected many people's lives. Being released from this calling and having those responsibilities given to someone else has been another humbling experience. It has been bitter sweet, having learned to love people and knowing so much about their lives has been wonderful. I no longer have the obligation or responsibility to love my neighbors in the same way I did as bishop, but once you learn to love, I am not sure you can ever really refrain. I am grateful for the things I have learned along this journey--to look beyond the end of my own nose, to have a deeper faith, to find the beauty in every individual, to love and be loved, to join hands with other imperfect souls as we work together to become something better than we naturally are. I don't know if your life can ever be the same after something like that, and I am realizing that more and more each day. I have been a part of Niederbipp, and I hope I always will be.
So, for now, I'm signing off. I'm not sure what the future will bring, but I am ready for the ride and looking forward to it. Cheers to the journey!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Overcoming Fear


It seems strange than my whole story so far has been about overcoming fear. It took a lot of work to get me started really going on my series and even then it took me the better part of a decade to finish the first book. Once it got going, the others came much more quickly, but I realized today how fear has kept me from moving forward with making this series something bigger. I have spoken to more than 100 book clubs over the last 18 months, and at everyone of them, I speak about the scripture that finally got me over the hump--got me writing regularly until the book was complete.

2 Timothy 1:7"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind."

I am certain that God does not give us fear. It always comes from the Great Inhibitor, who uses fear to keep us from becoming what we are supposed to be--what we are supposed to do. It was 13 years ago that Isaac started talking to me, telling me the stories of love and grace and redemption. I knew I needed to write them down, but I was not a writer. They were beautiful, but inconvenient and I struggled for a long time with fear and uncertainty. I didnt know what I was supposed to do with them.

Looking back usually offers a better perspective. I remember dozens of times when I recieved a tiny glimpse of where I was headed, like the twinkle of a distant star in black sky that offered me some direction and hope. I know my journals of full of recordings of those glimpses, but at the time, dealing with fear and bills and uncertainty, the little hope it offered me served only to keep me slowly trudging forward. I hate fear. I'm sometimes angry at myself for buying into it...for not allowing faith and love to overcome those dark emotions that have inhibited me.

Two years ago, when I was finishing my first book, I remember hearing reports on NPR about the sad state of the publishing market in the economic downturn. At the time, I was also reading a lot of books about finding an agent and all of them said how difficult it was--like climbing Everest in the winter in the middle of a blizzard without a sherpa--or in other words--impossible. I decided I didnt want to waste my time. I had had a dream where people were flipping through my book, watching the self-propelled movie, laughing at the doodles and sketches and loving the story. I decided to self-publish, rather than even try to find an agent.

To date, I have sold 15,000 copies of my books. It is a nice place to be. I think I have broken even and I still have some books left over and I hear from nice people every day who are sharing with me how my books have affected them in positive ways. That is more than I hoped for--way more. There was a time, shortly after I bought my first 1,500 books that I thought I would be giving them away as wedding gifts for the rest of my life. Luckily, it has not been that way. My wife still loves me, and though the new kitchen we sacrificed to buy books instead is still only a dream, that dream is getting closer to becoming a reality. I am so grateful for a wife who puts up with my crazy ideas.

So, after all those hurdles over the last 13 years, you would have thought that I could have overcome my fears, but the sad reality is that I have not. For the last year, I have known I need to write a query letter and begin the long and painful process of dealing with rejections as they pour in one after another. These books are my babies, and no one likes to be told they have an ugly baby, right?

This last week has been disappointing with sales at Costco. I normally would have been loving this experience, as I did last year, regulary selling 60-100 books everytime I did a book signing. It was really quite amazing. I went to Costco with the same hopes this week, but the reality was different. Costco only ordered the third book, claiming they had too much inventory with Christmas to deal with books one and two. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to try to sell people the third book in a series when they haven't read the first two? It is like trying to sell a big wheel to a newlywed couple, trying to convince them they will love having it sometime down the road. Needless to say, it has been a painful week. I have left each of the signings overwhelmed with the idiocy of the situation. It has been humbling, but it has also been incredibly motivating. Leaving early from my signings each day, I came home and began researching agents and working on my query letter. In one week, out of a feeling of despiration, I have accomplished more towards finding an agent than I had in the last year combined.

Tuesday night, after speaking to a book club, I went out to the studio to clear my mind and think while I glazed a bunch of pots. There is magic that happens in that studio. For me, it is a sacred space, the place where I go for answers. I hope you all have a place like that. As I worked, a memory came to me from probably more than two years ago. A strange memory. I was downtown, sitting at the counter at Siegfried's German Delacatessen, and a bus drove by. There, on the side of the bus was the cover of a book being advertised. I remembered the title for some reason, but not the author. I came inside after midnight and googled the book, got on the author's website, and searched the whole thing over for a hint of his agent. I found nothing. This author is a New York Times Best Selling Author, lives in Virginia, has written a bunch of books and is very busy. But on a whim, I emailed him and asked him for his agents name, figuring he would never respond. To my great surprise, he did respond, sending me the name of his agent the next morning. I looked it up the next day and found, from her description, that there may not be a better fit for my book. Finding that gave me a lot of motivation to move. I finished my query letter yesterday, and today, sent out my first two query letters to an agent in California and one in New York. I have no idea what will come of this, but I did something! Ding-dangit, I did something that has scared me stupid for tha past two years. I put my baby out there to be called every possible name, but I did something and boy, does that feel good.

And tonight, before I go to bed, I am finally ready to start my next book. I have no idea how long this one will take to write, and I have no promises to make, but I have a great idea for a story that won't leave me alone and I know I have to move with it. I am excited about it and all that I hope to learn from this next journey. For now though, it feels great to have overcome one more fear. And tomorrow is a new day. I can't wait for it!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Becoming Isaac hits Costco this Week- (in Utah)


That's right. Sometime this week, Becoming Isaac will begin to appear in Utah Costco stores from St. George to Ogden. I am excited about this. I am trying to stay positive, knowing how difficult it will likely be to sell only the third book. (Costco has decided not to carry the first and second books at this time, which will likely mean never again unless the people rebel and flood the front desk with requests). I know it is a great blessing to have one book at Costco so I won't say anything more. Here is my schedule of for signings this month.


Tuesday October 5--Murray Costco Noon-6

Wednesday October 6--UVSC Bookstore, 11-1

Thursday October 7 --Sandy Costco Noon-6

Friday October 8 --Salt Lake Costco Noon - 2

Tuesday October 12--Bountiful Costco Noon-2

Wednesday October 13--Orem Costco Noon-2

Thursday October 14 --Ogden Costco Noon-2

Friday October 15 --Murray Costco Noon-6

Tuesday October 19--Salt Lake Costco Noon-6

Friday October 22--Bountiful Costco Noon-6

Tuesday October 26 Ogden Costco Noon-6

Thursday October 28--NOt sure yet where I will be.

As you might imagine, this means I will not be making as many pots this month, but I am grateful for the opportunity to sell my books.

I am tired. I am grateful. Before I say anything else, I have to send out a big thank you to all of you who came to my open house last weekend. In total, I sold nearly a thousand books and lots of pots. It was by far the best open house I have ever had--ever. Thanks for coming and bringing your friends. It made me feel like both an artist and a writer. Thank you.

I was hoping to be able to take a small break after the open house and recover some of the lost sleep I missed prior to the open house. I really don't know what happend to this summer. Between writing and editing and the arts festivals, I hardly had time to catch my breath, but the day after the open house, I recieved my schedule for book signings and realized I had no time to relax. I need a new kiln and then on Monday, as I was welding said kiln, a huge order came in from one of my galleries in Georgia, wanting it delivered asap. So it has been a busy week. I used a thousand pounds of clay and filled the kiln for a bisque firing that will take place tomorrow. I hoped to spend some time writing query letters to find an agent. I did a little research and became even more confused than I was before, so after several months of saying I am going to do it, I still have yet to write even one query letter that I have sent. Oh, I have written plenty, but they are crap, all CRAP. I think I am making progress and then I go back and read it and I see how bad it is. It's weird that I can write a thirteen hundred page trilogy, and I cant write a stinking one page query letter that is supposed to get me in the door. If any of you have any suggestions, please let me know. I am humbled and ready to listen to anything at this point. While I am asking for suggestions, I want to solicit another if I may be so bold. As part of the query process, I am supposed to tell my future agent what my book is comparable to. I know that there are many of you out there who have read my book and thousands more and would have an idea of how to compare it. I would very much appreciate your suggestions.

I have just begun hearing from the earliest readers of Becoming Isaac. I am excited by the comments. I love hearing from readers. Your comments make me think. They make me grateful that I finally listened to the voices in my head and put these books together. I hope they will continue to touch you as you read them again. I am constantly humbled by the things I hear from you. Thank you. With all the sincerity of my heart, thank you. Thank you for the positive reviews you have given me on Amazon. com and Good Reads. Thanks for telling your friends. Thanks for loving Niederbipp and sharing it with everyone you know. Thanks for being part of my Niederbipp.

Because Costco will not be carrying Remembering Isaac or Discovering Isaac in the near future, and because I continue to receive emails and phone calls from people near and far wondering where thy might find my books, I will tell you that the best place to find them is at http://www.amazon.com/ I sell the books on Amazon under the name Abendmahl Press, and all books sold through Abendmahl come signed and new. I also have a box set available there. (It comes in a box) ;)

Anyway, I am going to bed thankful. I have no idea where I am going from here, but I am in it for the long haul and looking forward to seeing what it on the other side of the mountain, even if it is only the other side of the mountain, or a hundred more mountains just like it. I will sleep when I am dead. Cheers to the journey. Ben
Added October 9-- After very poor sales at Costco this week, I have cut back on signing times and will likely cancel signings after next week. If you planned to come to a book signing, it might be wise to email me to make sure I will be going. Because Costco is only carrying the third book, I am finding it difficult to convince anyone to start the series with book three. This apparently makes sense to everyone except the buyers at the top. (I am having to send people to Barnes and Noble or Amazon to begin the series.) Sorry about the inconvenience. If I didnt have to worry about feeding my kids, I might continue to hang out at Costco all day to make just a handful of sales, but as it is, I still need to make a living :). As always, you are welcome to come to the studio and pick up books or pots. You can phone me at 801-883-0146.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

First Day of Open House, A success.


People started lining up this morning before ten and the party didn't stop until 9. This is such a different experience than it was when I first published Remembering Isaac almost 18 months ago. Back then, I wondered if I would be stuck with those books forever, giving them away as wedding presents for the rest of eternity. A lot has changed since those humble beginnings, and though I am still humble, I am happy. I am happy the books are touching people and making them think and feel and do. I sold close to 500 books today. That was really exciting. Lots of folks came with lists of people who needed them. They bought pots and yard art too, but nearly everyone went home with at least one book.

The show continues tomorrow and Saturday, September 24 & 25 here at my studio in Salt Lake at 1150 East 800 South from 10:00- 5:00. I have to run to Brigham City tomorrow morning to pick up more copies of Remembering Isaac from my distributor. I have only a handful left after today's sales. I have a kiln full of pots to unload tomorrow, too. I just peaked inside and there are some great ones.

I spoke to my distributor tonight about Costco. Costco has decided to have the third book, Becoming Isaac, in the stores sometime in October. That means I will be back signing books, but they, so far, have decided not to carry the other two books. I am not sure why. I think the only way they will change their minds is if enough people request them. This kind of stinks, but I guess I'll take what I can get. I have people calling me everyday wondering where they can find the book. For the time being, unless you want to come to Salt Lake to my studio, I suppose the best place to find all three books is on Amazon. I am Abendmahl Press and I just recently put together a box set of all three books, available through Amazon for $39.00 plus shipping. If you pick it up from the studio, you save the shipping. Any book ordered through Abendmahl Press on Amazon is autographed and I would be happy to personalize it too. With Christmas coming soon, this may be the best way to go if Costco doesn't pick the other books up too. We were told that we would likely have the chance to sell all three books there this fall, but things never work out exactly the way you plan.

Anyway, just wanted to say hi. Maybe we'll see you this weekend. We'll keep the peppermint tea coming, and we have plenty of peanut butter and h0ney sandwiches for everyone. Viva Niederbipp!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book Signing/Pottery Sale- September 23-25

Book Signing / Pottery Sale
September 23,24,25 10-5 each day
Wild Rooster Artworks
1150 East 800 South
Salt Lake City, Utah 84102
10% off all pottery and yard art
25% off Becoming Isaac--(signed copies only $15)
40% off Remembering Isaac and Discovering Isaac (only $12 each)
We will be serving peppermint tea with peanut butter and honey sandwiches!

Well, I am supposed get my first books delivered on Friday! I'm not sure why, but I seem to be even more excited about this book than I was about the first one. Maybe it's because of the comments I have heard from all of you about how much you are looking forward to this third book. Maybe it's because this is by far the best book of the three. I love the way this book looks and feels and smells and reads. I know you will too.
I have had several people inquire about when Becoming Isaac will be available on Amazon. As luck would have it, today! Also new on Amazon is the new box set- but without the box--all three books for $37.99.
I am working hard to get ready for the open house. There is a lot to clean and organize as I have kind of let things go during the summer months. I just fired 75 mugs yesterday, but I won't know how they turned out for a couple more days. Life is crazy, but exciting. I appreciate all you reading my books and sharing them with your friends. This is really exciting for me to see how Niederbipp is spreading further and further all the time. www.Squeakycleanreads.com just reviewed my book, as has www.theliteratemother.com. I am grateful to have been a part of this story. I am grateful to have my name on three books, but as I explain in Becoming Isaac, I do not feel any ownership in this series. Instead, I feel a deep sense of stewardship for the wisdom that Isaac gave me. These books took me more than twelve years to write, and it feels good to finally be at this end. If I could do it over, I would do it again, but I would hope that the next time around, I would not allow fear to keep me from what I knew I was supposed to do. Viva Niederbipp! See you next week. Ben

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

And we're off to the presses!


I spent the morning at my printing office, going over the proofs so I could give my final approval on the book and get things moving. It was strangely an emotional experience for me, reading through the story once again, looking for any mistakes. I couldn't find any, though I am sure that with 128,254 words, there are bound to be mistakes somewhere. Hopefully the story will suck you in enough that you will be able to forgive me when you find them.
I was hoping to have a picture of the cover for this post, but unfortunately, Blogger doesnt accept pdf files, so it will have to wait until I have a jpeg file. The cover is great. Bert spent a lot of time on it and I really think it captures a lot of the story.
I will be having a book signing/pottery sale here at my studio on September 23, 24 & 25 from 10-5. 1150 E 800 South. The pottery will be 10% off and the book will be 25% off--Only $15. This is a great chance to get a head start on Christmas gifts and avoid the holiday rush and get the next book before anyone else. I really think you are going to love this third book. It is by far the best ot the three. I will attach an invitation for this event as soon as we have them available, but if you would like, you can email me at benbehunin@comcast.net and I will send you an email invite.
Many of you have emailed, wondering when the third book will be available at Costco. To be honest, I dont know. I am working on it and will be working on it a little harder now that the book is being printed. Costco is a little finicky sometimes. I just have to be patient. I am beginning to feel ready to go back to doing book signings at the stores. It has been really nice to have time to work and be in my studio making stuff, but I know I have to do book signings too. There has to be an easier way to make a living that writing books and making pots, but I am grateful to have two fulfilling jobs.
I am still dragging my feet about writing a query letter to send to agents. I am scared--scared of rejection--scared that no agent will like the books or give them a chance--scared of failing. At times like this, I ask myself what Isaac would do. I am sure he would encourage me and give me lots of sage advice. I am busy. I just installed two funky fences that I have been working on for a while, but I realize I am filling my time with stuff I really dont have to do now, just because I am being faithless. I just neet to do it, dang it. Maybe I will ... tomorrow :) . I am tired. I think a vacation might be in order, but there is so much to do, I'm not sure when I'll get to it.
So, I am signing off, financially poorer today than I was yesterday because of the 5000 books I just purchased, but happy to be alive and happy to know that in ten to twelve days, I will have a new book to share with the world. Cheers, Ben

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Good News!!!!!!!!


So, this afternoon, I dropped the file off at the publishers! If all goes as planned, we will have a finished book Tuesday the 13th of September. Many of you have emailed me at benbehunin@comcast.net , asking to be notified of when they are available. I am tentatively planning an open house/book signing for that weekend, but I will let you know for sure. I also need to get things set up on Amazon for those of you who are out of town.

I am really excited about this. My buddy, Bert Compton, and I were up till 1:30 this morning, finishing the final design elements. It looks awesome, but the story is even more fun. Bert asked me last night how it felt to have three books with my name on it in 18 months. It's a strange feeling. I am tired, but overall, the feeling is one of relief and humility. My name is on the books, but I really don't feel like I own them. I feel like I have been given the responsibility to be a steward of this story, but the best, most meaningful and amazing parts of the book were a complete and total gift that I can only thank God for the opportunity to share something so meaningful with all of you.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for sharing the books with your friends and family. Thanks for writing reviews on Amazon. I just read two of the most recent reviews on Amazon and I'll admit, I cried. To hear people say that they feel the love of God as they read the books has been amazing. It was because of that love that I wrote, and it because of the writing and the experience of putting these books together that I have come to understand the love that God has for all His children. Again, I am humbled and touched by how the books are reaching you and your hearts.

I have been working on writing my query letter to begin looking for an agent. This is a difficult letter to write. A query letter, as I understand it, should be no more than one page long. How do you wrap three books together in a short, one page synopsis? How do you talk about the books' successes and responses? How do you convince a busy, overworked agent to take a chance on you. I am convinced that if we can just get these books into the hands of the right person, we can spread the good news of Niederbipp around the country, maybe even to exotic places like...Canada! For some reason books cost more up there! :)

This has been a successful summer with pottery sales, which is a really good thing, because this final book is going to cost nearly 20K. Book two will need to be reprinted in the next month or so, and book one will need a reprint before Christmas. I broke even at 11,000 books, which is nice, because now I don't have to dip deeper into savings to bankroll the next run of books. Self-publishing is tough, but I am hoping with the track record we've established, a big publishing house will be interested in taking national.

I got a big surprise last Thursday when I opened my mailbox and received a postcard for an opening at the Gallery at Union Station in Ogden. There on the front of the postcard was a picture of one of my teapots, my name, and the announcement that I would be part of the show that opens Friday, September 3. I vaguely remember agreeing to do this show back in January, but I never heard anything more and figured they had made other arrangements. I guess they didn't. So, with the teapots on the postcard, I knew people would be expecting to see teapots, so I whipped up a bunch as quick as I could in two days. I loaded my small electric kiln on Saturday night and candled the pots overnight to dry them out. Then Sunday night, I started the kiln, hoping I could glaze the pots the next day and get the glaze firing going. This usually takes two weeks minimum to turn these around, but I had a deadline. I went out on Monday morning to check on the temperature in the kiln, and the kiln's power light was off. I tried the breaker. Nothing. Then I smelled it--the distinct odor of burnt electrical stuff. Long story short, the male part of the 220 plug had fried and sealed itself to the wall and the female part of the plug. The kiln had not fired. The teapots were still greenware and couldn't be glazed. After freaking out, I got to work and within a few hours, I had the plugs repaired and replaced and could start the firing.

So, the glaze firing got started way later than I planned--today at 1pm. It is now 11:30 and I am just about ready to turn the kiln off. I'll have to use gloves to unload the kiln on Thursday morning in order to get the pots to Ogden in time. A potter's life is never dull. I am very grateful the melted plug didn't lead to a fire in the studio. I feel very fortunate and blessed. So, there will be teapots on Friday. Come one, Come all. I think the hours are from 6-9 at the Union Station in Ogden. If you need a cheap date, stop by. Food and drink are served and the company will be better if you come. Lynnette and I will be there with two other artists--my neighbor, Dave Malone and a great landscape artist whose name has escaped me. If you miss Friday, the show will be up for a few weeks. I will also have signed books available there. Life is good. Never a dull moment. Sometimes it's really good to have ADD.

Send me an email if you want to be notified of activities associated with Becoming Isaac, and if you feel so inclined, I'd love for you to fill out a review on Amazon. Cheers, and thanks for keeping me excited about all of this stuff. Maybe I'll see you in Ogden on Friday. Ben

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Almost There!


If it weren't for work getting in th way for Bert and me, the book would have been done and in bookstores weeks ago. But darn it, we have to work to feed our families. We were up until 12:30 last night, running through some of the last things, making minor tweeks and fixes. I would have worked later, but Bert had to be to work at 7. I tried to explain that I have people calling every day, wanting to know where Becoming Isaac is or when it will be available. I am tired of putting people off, but it truly is beyond my control. So, the best I can figure, if we finish tonight or tomorrow night, I will take the book to the printer on Thursday or Friday. They will run some proofs, Bert will finish the cover, and with any luck, the book will be out by November! Just kidding. I am not going to give a date, because I keep missing them, but we are working hard and hope to have it done asap. If you are not on my mailing list and would like to receive a card in the mail or email announcing the release of the book, please send me an email to benbehunin@comcast.net and you can be the first to know. Cheers and thanks for your patience. Ben

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's coming, I promise.


So, it has been fun getting so many emails and phone calls from folks who are anxious for Becoming Isaac, but I am sorry I can't yet offer you a firm date when the book will be available. I am sorry about that. We are still working through the layout. It is nearly 11pm and I am just getting ready to leave to work on the book with my buddy, Bert. I had to get a few last photos for the book--some bread, a hat and some other small things, that will go into the book at chapter heads. Believe me, I too am looking forward to seeing the finished product.
It was really fun to be in Park City this last weekend for the Arts Festival and have so many people stop by and thank me for writing the books. I am happy it is reaching so many from so many different walks in life. One woman left me with a long note, detailing her journey of faith, stating that my books have helped her to recognize the love of God in her life again. I read the letter with my wife and we both cried as we read this woman's words. I do not know her name, but I know she will probably read this, so I want to say thank you. Your letter made my day. Hearing things like that make the turmoil and sacrifice of time and treasure worthwhile. This has been a journey of faith for me, too. I talk about this in the last chapter of Becoming Isaac. Faith is perhaps the biggest and most important and most potentially troubling journey that we face in this life. We are all spiritual beings having an terrestrial experience and sometimes that experience is tough--okay, maybe it's always tough.
As I read this woman's letter, I was struck with the realization of all that I have learned along this journey. I have mentioned it before many times, but this is not my story. I was simply at the right place at the right time and felt compelled to write the story that came into my heart and mind. The wisdom and love was a gift, as I suppose all true wisdom and love is. I wish I could claim it as my own, but I realize how blessed I have been to be a part of it. It is not my own, but it has become truth that I have learned, and hope to spend the rest of my life implementing. Those who know me best, know there is no way I could possibly have come up with this stuff on my own. I am irreverent and more inclined to potty jokes. This experience has made me grow and stretch and, yes, become something much more than I naturally am.
Thank you for your kind accolades and encouragement. I have loved hearing about your stories and your interactions with Isaac's books. Thank you. The snowball began with a tiny snowflake, but it is gaining momentum and mass and moving forward. Thank you for telling your friends about the books and thank you for your reviews on Amazon. There are nearly 65 reviews combined for the two books on Amazon and they are all positive. This is amazing to me. I am a potter, pretending to be a writer, but somehow the words I was compelled to write are reaching your hearts and touching lives and opening minds to the love of God. That is more than I ever could have asked for.
So, I will let you in on a secret. Many have asked about the name of my press, Abendmahl. Abendmahl is a German word. If you google it, you will probably be sent to a host of sites that have pictures of the last supper. The word literally means, evening meal. I like the idea of people sitting down to break bread together as they share stories and truth. I was very much directed as to what I should call my press.(When you self-publish, you get to make up your own press.) On either side of the name are symbols, wheat and grapes. These are not just nice pictures, but have deep meaning to me and other Christians throughout the world. If you think what they become, the answer is clear. Grapes become wine and wheat becomes bread. The sacrament--symbols of the greatest sacrifice this world will ever know. It was my hope that like the great books of C.S. Lewis, these books might help us understand the love of God in a more simple and understandable way. I believe the third book, Becoming Isaac will do that in a beautiful way. I cant wait to share it with you. Thanks again for sharing your comments. Your encouragement keeps me going when I am tired, stressed, discouraged and wondering why I should spend $20,000 on the next book. A much older and wiser friend of mine recently told me that when you choose to walk in faith, there is really no such thing as sacrifice. It is simply a way of life. Cheers.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Almost Half Way Done with Layout



I am not a patient person, so this has been really hard. Bert, my buddy and graphic designer for my books has been working on the book, but it is going slower than we both hoped. He was laid off from his job last December which has required that he take on many freelance jobs to pay his bills--part of life in this economy, I suppose. I was ready to get things moving with the layout a little bit before he was and I have needed to cool my heals while I have waited for him to finish with other work. He is a talented guy, and someone I can really work with. He scheduled a vacation for this week with his family, anticipating that we would be done with Becoming Isaac. Well, it is unfortunately not done. He has completed 20 of the 51 chapters, so we're nearly half way. Next Monday, he begins a new job as artistic director at a engineering firm, so my goal of having the book ready for the Park City Arts Fest will not be a reality. I am sorry. I feel like I have let many of you down, but Bert has taken his computer with him on vacation and with any luck, we will be at the half way point or beyond when he returns.


I have been nursing a nasty wound for the last week. I went water skiing on the 24th with my brother-in-law at East Canyon. I have not skied in many years, but after getting up and doing well, I decided I would jump the wake. I did this many times with grace and skill, or at least as much of that as I could muster from my tired bones. Then I crashed. I hyper extended my knee and tore my hamstring, resulting in a bruise that runs from my ankle to my butt on my right leg. It is probably the closest thing I will ever get to a tattoo. I was disappointed at first that it was only black and purple, but over the last few days, it has been fading to a nice array of rainbow colors; blue, yellow, red, purple and green. It's pretty awesome. I'd include a picture, but it might induce vomiting and I would not want to be responsible for spoiled furniture.


The timing of this injury could not have been worse. I am swamped, trying to get ready for the festival which begins this Friday. I feel very fortunate that I was not injured worse. (Another reveler at the lake that day, a man who shared my last name, drowned in shallow water.) So, I learn once again that no matter how bad life may seem, it could always be worse.


I am tired, but I am excited for this weekend and even more excited about this forth coming book. The artwork is fabulous and the story is thought provoking and healing. I have learned a lot from each of the books, but this last one is by far the best. You are going to love it. I will keep you updated on our progress. Sorry, once again, for the delay. I am receiving emails and phone calls daily from people all over the United States, anxious to get their hands on a copy of Becoming Isaac. I will just say, I am too.


If you dont have anything better to do this weekend, come and see me at the Park City Arts Festival. If you come on Friday night, it's free to get in, cooler and less crowded. Hope to see you there. Ben


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Onward, ever onward!


So, it has been a busy week. My buddy Bert has been working on my book, working out the format and fonts and uploading artwork. I forgot how labor intensive my books are. I have spent twenty hours this week working on artwork for the book and I think I probably still have another 50 hours. Bert on the other hand probably has another 90 hours. Bert got some good news this week. He was laid-off from his job in January and has been doing a lot of free-lance work since then. On Friday, he received a great offer from a local design firm for a better job than he had before. He and his wife are very excited. I am too. He starts on August 9th so that means we have a lot of work to do to make sure we are done before that.

My books have each taken about 100 hours to layout. That seems like a lot, especially when normal books take only about ten hours to design. I have never been normal. Bert anCheck Spellingd I have a lot of fun working together. It is like two kids sitting down with an endless supply of Tinkertoys. The fun never ends as we build on each other's ideas.

Each chapter of this book will begin with a numbered tile--each one hand-made. I think i might be insane to spend so much time on these books, but I am hoping you all enjoy them--that you feel like they are as much of an experience as they are for me--like you can find yourself in Niederbipp, eating Sam's bread, drinking Isaac's tea, falling in love with Jake and Amy as they discover the truths that are all around them. This has been a most enjoyable experience. I am excited to share this last book with you. It feels like it is by far the very best. I find myself dreaming about it at night and thinking about it all day as I am frantically trying to get ready for the Park City Arts Festival, the first weekend in August. So, try to stay cool. Read a good book, and Viva Niederbipp! Ben

Monday, July 12, 2010

Layout For Becoming Officially Begins Today


That's right. After a long and tedious editing time, we began today with the layout and design for the book. The cover art for this one is amazing. My friend, Erin Westenskow Berret, did the artwork--an amazing picture--she paints like Amy, and I can still afford her. You are going to want one of her pictures too as soon as you see the artwork. I spent the day working on my doodles and sketches for the book. I am a little stressed out with all I have to do. I was accepted to the Park City Arts Festival this year and have several firings I need to do in order to be ready so I will have a lot of late nights between getting ready and finishing the book. It is the twelfth of July and I am still hoping and thinking we might have it done for the festival which is on the 7th and 8th of August this year. Then I am really going to need a break.

I have been amazingly unmotivated to make pottery lately. I am sure the heat has a lot to do with it, but I am really enjoying the writing. I have two more books that are screaming at me to begin them, and I really want to, but I have to finish this one, make pots, provide for my family and find an agent.

I am glad folks are enjoying my books. I have sold over 12,000 copies now. Most of those have been passed around because we love to share books and, yes, we're cheap, :) so I am guessing that with only 12,000 copies sold, I have had nearly four million people read my books. ;)I may be off just a bit. I never hoped to get rich by this, but it would be nice to break even. Somehow, I know it will work out.

So, for those of you who have been waiting, I am going to suggest that if you want to get the most ouf to book three, you should probably reread the first two. You may have to get them back from Aunt Edna or your fourth cousins sister's grandpa, but I garauntee it will be worth it. Cheers. Ben

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Arts Festival Keeping Me Busy


I am still a full time potter, and I am still making my living by making pots. This weekend I am at the Utah Arts Festival, selling both my books and my pots. It has been fun to have so many folks come in to my booth who have read my books.

After finishing the writing of book three, I have done nothing but make pots for the past few weeks to get ready for this show. I have been getting up early and working until midnight or later every night to get ready, but it paid off. I have lots of wonderful pots to fill my booth. I am excited to get back to writing though. I should have my manuscript back from my editor on Monday so I will go through that next week and I plan to begin layout the following week. I think things will take off quickly after that. I am really excited about the third book. The stories from this one have resounded in my mind over and over again over the last few weeks and I am excited to share them with all of you.

I am looking for an agent. If any of you have any suggestions, I am all ears.

I am suggesting to all my readers that you will get the most out of this third book if you re-read the first and second ones before jumping into the final book. There are lots of details that will make this more meaningful if you do.

I've got to go get ready for the day. I'll write more later. Cheers

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fertig-- that's German for finished!


So it already past midnight so its a new day, but on Thursday at 4:03 pm, I finished Becoming Isaac. Finished is really a generous word in this case. I know I still have lots to edit and review and rewrite, but I made my goal to have this portion done by the weekend. For the last three weeks, I have been writing nearly non-stop--12-14 hours a day with only Sundays off. It has been weeks since I have been to bed before midnight. I am tired, but I made it. Viva Niederbipp. YOu're going to love it!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Last Costco Booksigning Until Fall, Tomorrow at Bountiful Costco


That's right, tomorrow is my last book signing at Costco until probably September or October. I'll be there from noon to six.To be honest, I am not very upset about it. The universe seems to be telling me this is okay. I had two singings last week and ended up leaving early from each one because they were so abissmally slow. I signed on 9 books at Lehi in three hours. This is really strange because Lehi has been one of my better stores where I am accustomed to signing 50-70 books every time I sign. I dont know what to say other than that the economy is weak and people usually buy less books in the summer than the winter.

I am glad this will give me a chance to finish the third book, the writing portion of which should be done by Wednesday! I also need to make pottery. My shelves are empty after the Mother's Day Sale and I have the Utah Arts Festival coming up in a month. I need a break somewhere here, but I am already feeling the winds blow and the ideas I have had for another book are coming quickly. As always, it is coming at a very inconvenient time.

I am really enjoying this third book. I feel like it has come faster and is better than the others in depth and truth. I feel like I have been taught by the universe and I am grateful for the opportunity I will so have to share it with you. I have some fun ideas for the layout of this book too. I appreciate so many of you who are emailing and calling, encouraging me to hurry up. I promise I am moving as fast as I can. If I can make some good progress tonight, I should be able to finish tomorrow night. Then edits, and minor rewrites, copy edits, layout and design and whatever else is necessary. I am tired, but I am motivated to finish. Cheers. Maybe I'll see you tomorrow. The books should be in Costco until the first week in June.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I've Got Some Good News And Some Bad News


So, the good news is that I have made some great progress with the book in the last week and I hope to be done writing by the end of this week!

The bad news is that I just got off the phone with my distributor with the news that Costco is yanking my books about June 1st. I am writing you all to tell you this so if you want to pick up copies at the costco price, you have two weeks to do it. Apparently, sales have been slower and so they have decided to let it go. I am not sure what that means long term. My distributor believes they can get book 3 into Costco by September. I was shooting to have it done by the end of July, but things rarely work out the way we plan. I am still shooting for July to have my book done, but you may have to come to my studio to pick it up until we can work it back in. If you have book clubs that are reading the books in the coming months, let them know that now would be a great time to buy it from the shelves at Costco. The books will still be available from Deseret Book, Barnes and Noble and other book sellers, including Amazon.com

I am trying to figure out how I feel. Disappointed. Tired. Overworked and underpaid. Feeling like in the long run, this may be in a good thing as it is offering me the incentive to go out and find an agent to represent me so I can find a big publisher in New York. It will definately free up some time for me to make pottery and be with my family, but I am nevertheless, disappointed.

The Story of the third book has really taken on some incredible dimensions lately. I am excited about the things I am learning and the way I am growing along the way. I feel like the universe is open and dumping all sorts of things down the shoot and into my heart.


So, life goes on. I am excited for what lies ahead--that great unknown that keeps me humble. Cheers, Ben

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Stomach Flu is not fun.


Yeah, so I was scheduled to sign today at the Orem Costco, but I won't be there because of the stomach flu. I'll be hanging around my bathroom instead, and trying to write where I can. Sorry to anyone who was planning to drop by. I will have to catch you another time. Cheers, Ben

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

If wishes were fishes...


... then I wouldnt have to worry about making a living to support my book habits.

I have been working on pottery and welding and cleaning for the past few days instead of writing which makes me crazy. I need to make pottery to pay for my book writing habits, but I have to write to keep my brain from exploding. It's a tough place to be. I wish I could buy myself more time. I have a studio open house this weekend.

Announcing !

Wild Rooster Artworks Annual Mother's Day Open House and Sale

May 7th and 8th 9am-5pm

1150 E 800 South

Salt Lake City, Utah

Behind the house in the studio.

After sending out 1500 postcards, my mom called to ask if I forgot that my youngest brother is getting married on the 7th ... so I won't be here much of the day on Friday, but I will be around all day on Saturday. My friend will be playing shop for me on Friday after 11. I think my brain cells are suffering for all the stress.

So, after this weekend, I am seriously getting back in the saddle and getting some serious writing done. I promise! Maybe I'll see you on Saturday. I have a plethora of really great new pots and garden art. Plus, it is worth coming just to see the new mosaic on the gazebo behind my home. I hope to see you soon. VIVA NIEDERBIPP!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Signings in May


I have had several people request that I post my book signings on my blog, so here we go.

April 29 Salt Lake Costco 1-6 pm

May 4 Murray Costco 12-6pm

May 6 Bountiful Costco 12-6pm

May 8 Studio Mother's Day Sale and book signing at my studio 1150 E 800 S Salt Lake City Don't miss this!

May 11 Orem Costco 12-6pm

May 13 SLC Costco 12-6

May 18th Sandy Costco 12-6pm

May 20th Lehi Costco 12-6 pm

May 25th Bountiful Costco 12-6pm


I am continuing to make slow progress with the book, here a little and there a little. I have had to go back to the wheel to make some pots so I can continue to live the dream of being an author someday. That's why its nice when people buy my books instead of checking them out at the library:) Life is good, but always busy. I have been speaking to about 3-4 books clubs a week. I am still having fun, but feel sometimes like I have had to cut my candle into twelve pieces and then burn each of those pieces on both ends. Someday, this will all make sense, I am sure of it.

Meanwhile, thanks for all your supportive phone calls and emails. Cheers, Ben

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Back in the Saddle, Again


Ahoy! It feels like it has been a long time since I last updated by blog, and I guess it has been over a month. I have wanted to write many times, but opted out, deciding my time would be better spent working on the book. Sorry about that, but things have been moving along nicely. I am now 142 pages into the book so I probably just crossed the two thirds point.

I spent some time in St. George, just before Easter. I went down to sign books at Costco and then spent the evenings and mornings writing like crazy. I made some good progress there before I took my wife and kids up to Washington State for a vacation and to visit some friends for the week after Easter. I hoped to be able to write a lot while I was there too, but I wrote about 3 pages. I returned home very frustrated, wanting to find out what happens to Jake and Amy next.

This has been a very interesting journey of faith for me. I started this book more than eleven years ago with no idea where I was going with it or where it would take me. For many years I was faithless, making very little progress but feeling continually compelled to write. I still am not sure where this series is going. Some things have been clear from the beginning, but very few. When I first started writing, I was writing in first person, through Isaac's eyes. That never really worked, yet I knew I couldn't give it up. I had to keep moving. When I discovered Jake and killed the potter, Isaac, things blossomed and became what they are in a relatively very short period of time.

With this third book, I am feeling a huge amount of pressure. You have fallen in love with the characters of Niederbipp like I have and you want to know what happens next in their lives. So do I. When I am sitting at the wheel, or working in the clay, the voices of Niederbipp scream out and me to finish their story. I want to. Perhaps I am still a little faithless. I think I just broke even with the books, but up until now, pottery has been paying the bills for the books. What would happen if I gave up on the pottery? I think I might lose my mind--it has become so much of who I am, but what if I was able to concentrate on my writing without worrying about making a living. I may never know, but I hope there will come a time when my writing pays the bills and I can make pottery just for fun. I have to finish this book. I have to finish this series so I can get on to the next books I need to write, but for the time being, I have to wear a lot of hats. Too many sometimes.

So, this was going to be a short entry. I just wanted to say to whoever cares that I am progressing. I may not have things done now until July, but things are coming. I have been speaking to a lot of book clubs lately--between two and four every week. This has been exciting and fun to see and hear how the book is reaching people in different ways. It is nice to have people believe in me and thank me for the story. I have also discovered how sensitive I am. I make the mistake every once in a while of reading the reviews on Goodreads. I say mistake because though the majority of the reviews are positive, the negative ones make me feel sick inside. I tell myself I am not going to read the reviews anymore, but then something happens and I get curious and so I look. Like I said, by far the majority are positive, but I am kind of ashamed to admit how powerful the negative ones are to me. I feel like I totally lose my steam. I feel like I am just pretending to be a writer. No one likes to be told they have an ugly baby. I wish I didn't care what people think, but unfortunately, I still do. I am still very vulnerable, too sensitive, too thin skinned. I wonder if authors ever get over negative reviews. If they do, how do they. I would love to hear from any of you have have experience with this.
So then, tomorrow I am going back to the writing. I am going to try to buck up and buckle down and get past the fact that some people think I have an ugly baby. I don't entirely know where I am going, but I have learned through this process that if I move forward with faith, believing, the path always rises to meet my feet. I suppose there will always be critics and citiques. I need to remember I cant make everyone happy, but I am going to keep writing--I have to. I have been faithless long enough and suffered because of it. The path forward is cloudy and unsure, but I know it is the only way for me to go. I am pressing on, my ugly babies in tow! Thanks for coming along. I appreciate your support and help. Cheers to the journey!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Remembering Isaac: The Wise and Joyful Potter of Niederbipp

Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Remembering Isaac: The Wise and Joyful Potter of Niederbipp
So, I was signing books at the Lehi Costco today and I had several people who stopped by to thank me for the book and ask about book three. I also invited them and now all of you to fill out a reveiw on Amazon .com. It is easy and its free and will take just a few minutes. All you have to do is click on the title of this blog entry and it will take you right there. Then all you have to do is click on the button that says, Create your own review. Then just follow the prompts. I really appreciate your help in spreading the word. Cheers, Ben

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Progress-slow and steady

Question: How to you go jogging two weeks ago and get a bruised tail bone without falling and still can't sit down without pain two weeks later? I must be getting old and fat.
I was repremanded by a couple of blog readers for letting too much out about book three. Sorry. I wont do that. I thought I might just write a bit and tell you all where I am. I am on page 106, which is not nearly as far as I hoped to be. I have had to stop my writing and concentrate on what is making me money. I will be participating in Art and Soup, a fundraiser for Community Nursing Services which takes place every year at the Sheridan Hotel in Downtown Salt Lake. That runs in two weeks from Tuesday to Thursday. That is always a big money maker for me and since I am still a potter who relies on that income to sustain me and my book writing efforts, I have felt compelled to make pots. I am hoping to give the book more attention next week and then after the show. Tonight, I am up late, firing a kiln and trying to catch up on emails. I might write a bit too, eventhough I usually dont do well if I dont have at least a couple of hours to concentrate.
I want to thank those who have written their reviews on Amazon and encourage you to share your feelings about the book with the world via a book review on either Amazon or Goodreads.

I am feeling lately like I have too many hats to wear. I would like to take the time to look for an agent, but I feel more compelled to finish Becoming Isaac before I do. Still, I think there has to be an easier way than spending so much of my time signing at Costco. I enjoy getting out and meeting folks, but I will tell you--it is not easy selling books to people who are grazing on the free samples or there to buy groceries. I have heard some of the lamest excuses, seen thousands of diverted eyes, been ignored, been chewed out, wanted to quit about fifty times, etc etc. This is different for me--I feel like I am starting over. People know me for my pottery and people drop by my studio all the time to buy stuff, but signing books is a different beast. Sometimes people treat a $12 book as a lifetime marriage. Granted, $12 is more than it used to be for most folks, but, hey, it comes with a free self-propelled movie. That's got to be worth ten bucks all by it self, right? I dont know. I'm still trying to figure people out. Last week, on a Tuesday, I signed 95 books at the Murray Costco. On Monday I went back and only sold 50. I cant figure it out, but I will tell you, signing books can be wonderful one day and the sincerest form of drudgery the next, depending on the day, my attitude and the people in the store.
Tonight I spoke to a book club on the south end of the valley--Nice group, very supportive. I enjoy these experiences--they make me stretch and reflect on the journey these books have been for me. I have been speaking to 2-3 book clubs every week since January and have a busy schedule ahead, but if you have a book group who would like to hear me talk about the story behind the story, let me know.
When I was signing on Monday, I had a nice old couple come in and buy both my books. They explained that they had just returned from Guatamala City with a tour. Someone on the tour was reading my books and telling everyone on the tour that they needed to buy them. (I'm pretty sure it was not a relative. :) ) Anyway, thanks for spreading the word. It makes the drudgery of selling books more pleasurable when I hear stories about how people are responding to the books. Thank you.
If anyone cares, I will be at the Bountiful Costco on Friday and the Orem Costco on Saturday, from noon to six. I will try to blog again soon. Cheers, Ben

Monday, March 1, 2010

Slow and steady-97 Pages in.

The last couple of weeks have been hectic. My distributor signed me up to sign books at Costco 4 days a week and then I signed myself up to speak to 3-4 book clubs a week and I've been trying to make pots to get ready for Art and Soup and I went on a two day vacation over Presidents Day to visit an old roommate and his family in Boise so I could spend some time with my kids who have been neglected. That is a really long sentence. Needless to say, I have not had the time I would like to have to spend on the book, but today marks the beginning of a new month and a new signing schedule. This week, I am signing only twice and no more than three times in the coming weeks. Hurray, I will have time to write.
Since my last blog entry, I have only written fifteen pages, but I plan to make some progress this week. I see the road opening up and I have been encouraged by many people coming up to me at book signings and others at book clubs who are connecting with Isaac in very intimate and personal ways. It seems the books are touching hearts and making people think and dream and act more selflessly. I think that's a good thing. There have been many who have emailed me or written reviews on Amazon that help me realize that I need to keep going--that people are waiting and anticipating to see what happens next in the lives of the characters they have learned to love as friends and neighbors. Thank you for your kind words. I love hearing from you.
I am writing tonight because I plan to spend the day tomorrow writing and don't want to be distracted by my guilt that I haven't updated the blog in so long. I have found that it usually takes me a good hour to be able to get into the groove of writing before magic starts happening and since I don't want to stay up late, you get a blog instead of some progress on the book--sorry.
Becoming Isaac continues to take twists and turns that I had not anticipated last month or even last week. I am constantly being surprised. Many people have asked me if I know the ending and am just filling in the stuff between. Man, I wish I knew how it was going to end, but I don't, not really. There are lots of things that need to get tied up and brought together, but I only have about 120 pages left to do it and I'm realizing I have my work cut out for me. I will tell you that Amy just ordered her wedding dress and Jake officially proposed, so those of you that wrote me worried that Jake was going to dump Amy and go for Alice can sleep and little easier tonight :)
Like I have mentioned in the previous entries, writing this third book has been a very emotional experience as so many of the the things from the previous books are making more sense to me as the truth of this book is unfolded. So many things are tied together, interconnected. I am talking more about truths than I am about personal relationships. I feel like every time I write, I am exposed to a new truth or a new understanding of an old one. This book has made me a better father and husband and made me want to concentrate more of my time and efforts on loving my family and working on building stronger friendships with those I love the most.
So things are moving, sometimes slower than I would like, but I think I am still on track to have the book finished by June or July.
Thanks for spreading the word about Isaac. I hear from people everyday who want the book because someone they love and respect told them how much they enjoyed it. Word of mouth is amazingly powerful. When I was signing up in Ogden last week, the book girl there said my books were the best selling books they have. Word of mouth has made that happen and I thank you all. I have yet to turn a profit on the books, but I am getting close to breaking even and that is encouraging. I spent 65k last year between printing, layout, editing and design. That is a lot of money--money we had been saving for years to build onto our house. My wife, Lynnette, believed in me and the book and so we jumped in with both feet, believing good things would happen. I mentioned in a previous blog and in both my books, I never wrote these books with the intention of becoming rich, but as a business owner, I never wanted to lose money. My faith has been weak at times and I have had many days and weeks of discouragement, but I know I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. I feel like God has compelled me to write and given me the words to say once I finally agreed to move my feet. The answers have always come when I needed them and though they have often been hard to swallow, the truth has made me free and filled my life with joy. Thank you for sharing with me in that joy. If you feel so inclined, I would love for you to fill our a review on Amazon or tell a friend. Cheers, Ben

Monday, February 8, 2010

82 Pages and Going Strong

82 pages--that's about 170 real pages in a book. I've been working hard this last week on Becoming Isaac, but these last fifteen pages have been slow going, mostly because they required a lot of research to make sure I was getting things right. The last time I was in school, the internet was still pretty fresh and awkward. We had a very slow dial-up connection that was more painful than going to a library and researching whatever it was I needed to research. I still remember filling index cards with facts and figures and references for my research papers. Those were the days when the card catalog was still the fastest way to find material. Things have changed a lot in the past ten years. I love high speed internet that helps me get my information quickly and relatively painlessly.
My research has centered around the Quakers. I am not completely certain, but I think I have Quaker roots. If I don't, I wish I did. I have admired them for years, but the more I learn, the more I want to learn. I have great admiration for William Penn especially. What a man of integrity, wisdom and inspiration. Much of the material that inspired me in the beginning to set my book is a Quaker village will be included in Book III, but if you're bored and have some time to spend on the internet, I highly recommend doing some research on William Penn and the Quaker people. I think our world would be a much better place if we all would embrace the Quaker ideals.
I'm having a great time. I had a couple of people email me this week to ask if I was going to kill Amy in this book. No, I am not going to kill Amy. I think I have a crush on her. I have infused her with so many of my wife's finest qualities and I want to make sure Amy has a chance to pass those on to the next generation of Niederbippians.
I have also recieved many emails this week asking when the final book will be out. Good news! If things continue to go as they are, I should be able to have the book available my late June, early July. I hate to make promises because I know there are lot of things coming up, art shows, house projects, etc, but this is the book that the others have been written for and its messages are coming fast and strong. I promise I am working on it everyday. I hope the next couple of weeks will give me a chance to make a lot of progress. I love the days I dont have to go to book signings because I can get so much done. Six pages today as well as a lot of editing of the previous pages.
I just wanted to give a shout out again to those of you who have written reviews of the books on Amazon. As of this evening, there were 26 reviews for Remembering Isaac and 4 reviews for Discovering Isaac. If you feel so inclined, I invite you to fill out a review too. Its easy and good karma and it helps spread the word. If you don't know how, read the past two or three blogs. For now, I am signing off so I can get some sleep. I will be at the Orem Costco tomorrow and the West Valley Costco on Wednesday which is traditionally my slowest store signings. I hope I wont need anti-depressants by the time I'm done. I'll be in Murray on Friday and the 18th South Salt Lake Costco on Saturday. Noon to 6 each day unless I sell out of books or die trying.
Cheers, Ben

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

66 pages into Becoming Isaac!

Ok, so I just wrote for a half hour and lost it all when I pushed publish so I am going to start over and hope it works.
I spent the morning glazing and then started writing at 1. I put in more than 9 hours today on the computer and feel like I made some really great progress. I am learning all sorts of things--namely that this is not my story. I tried to force something that wasnt working a couple of days ago, and it kicked back, getting me frustrated. Yesterday I learned again that this is not my story when, frustrated, I sat down to write after a long prayer and good night's sleep and it became clear to me that I had missed out on some really important things that needed to come out- that needed to be told. Michaelangelo once said when he sculpted stone, he felt like he was freeing the figures from the stone, that they were telling him what they wanted him to make them into. I thought I understood this as a potter, but I am really understanging it now as a writer. Things are coming together in a magical and strange way that I never could have imagined. Many of you have expressed your anticipation at what is going to happen next. I know exactly how you feel. I don't know either. It comes a day at a time, but I promise you, you are going to love book three. I am beginning to realize that this whole series is really just getting us ready for book three.
I have recieved another few reviews on Amazon. Thank you. Hearing how the books are affecting you makes the toil of writing them worthwhile. I would love to see more of your reviews on Amazon. It's easy and only takes a few minutes. if you dont know how, I have posted the instructions on my previous posts. Thanks. Ben

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fifty one pages in to Becoming Isaac


So, I am trying to find a balance between my work in the studio as a potter and book signings and what I really want to be doing most of the time--writing. I signed books yesterday in Bountifl after making 50 cereal bowls. I was hoping to get some writing done--ideas were burning holes in my head, but I didnt get to do any writing yesterday until very late. I wrote some on Monday after making bowls and again today after making bowls. I guess Ilike to make bowls. They take up space in my big kiln and feed my family, so what's not to like.

I have learned that if I don't make pots, I can't write. Somehow the world of writing is connected to the world of creation and silence found in my work at the wheel. This book is being different for me than the others have and I find myself learning and being taught by what is coming out of my fingers. I am learning a lot about the need for forgiveness. How many of us have been holding on to grudges and hurt in our relationships with family and friends? I never thought I did, but as I write about Amy and her dad and Sam and his son and Mr. Allan and his kids, there is a common theme that continues to rise to the surface. I feel like this book is working on me at least as much as I am working on it. There is contention in this book and I don't do contention very well. When I go back and read it, I dont feel it so much, but when I write it, it takes time and effort. Today, I spent the better part of an hour on one paragraph--learning and discovering pieces of myself--things I want to change--things I want to overcome. I don't know if others will feel similarly. I guess time will tell. I will say that is it really isnt fair that you as a reader can read in ten minutes what takes me a week to write. I either need to write faster or figure out a way to slow you down.

I will be signing at the Lehi Costco tomorrow from 2-6 and then speaking tomorrow night at a Mentors Series from 7-9 in the Olympus Cove area. Oh, and I am speaking to a book club tomorrow at noon. SO I wont be writing much tomorrow.

On Saturday, you can find me at the SLC Downtown Costco from noon -6.

Thanks to those who responded to my invitation to fill out a review on Amazon. I have already had four people respond, fortunately, with postitive reviews. I invite you to take five minutes and write your own review. Instructions can be found on the previous blog entry. Thanks and cheers. Ben

Friday, January 15, 2010

Be connected to Isaac in cyberspace! An invitation to create your own review on Amazon.com

Since the time I began signing books at Costco, I have had lots of folks ask if my book has been reviewed on Amazon.com. It has been and currently has 5 stars, but only 15 people have reviewed the book. To date, we have sold more than 8500 copies combined of the first two books, so I have a feeling that people either don't know how, or they are just too doggone busy to figure it out. I filled out a review a little while ago on another book and it is very simple once you know where to go. Here is the easiest way I know how.
I should mention first that this will only work if you have purchased something from Amazon before. See below for more details.
-Got to www.Amazon.com
-In the box just above the word and picture of the Kindle, type in- Remembering Isaac. Then press the "GO" button to the right of that box.
-Remembering Isaac will come up with a picture of the cover. To the right of the book cover are five stars and to the right of that is a number in parenthesis. At the time of writing this blog, the number is 15 so it looks like (15). Click on that number, whatever the number is, and all the customer reviews will pop up.
-At the top of that page, just underneath the stars, there is a button that says, "Create your own review." If you click on that, and follow the prompts, you will be able to quickly write your own review and then push the button that says, publish, or something like that. You can give it the stars you think it deserves. Of course, five stars means you liked it, one star means you didnt like it so much.
I know that by asking for you to post your opinion, it may cause my ratings to drop, but I think its important to have a lot of ratings and we'll still be friends if you hated my book and say so.
You are also welcome to leave a review for Discovering Isaac as well. I really appreciate your help.
I should mention that this will only work if you have an Amazon account which only requires that you once bought something from Amazon.com. If you go to www.amazon.com from the computer with which you made the purchase, Amazon should recognize you, even if you forgot your password. If you have any qestions, post a comment on this blog and I will respond to you. With so many people having read the book, it seems like it would be easy to double or triple the reviews in the next few weeks. Please tell your friends that have read the book and invite them to do the same.
Thanks so much. Ben

Friday, January 8, 2010

40 Pages In To Becomming Isaac


This has been an ineresting week. I am a potter and January is always a crazy time because it is the time I get ready for art festivals. It may seem early, but applications are usually due by mid February and I feel it is important to come up with new work each year to keep the jurors excited about me. Most folks dont know that art festivals are very competitive, especially for potters. At the Park City show for example, there are usually more than 300 potters vying for the 15-20 spaces they award to potters. I have been fortunate for the last several years to have been able to get in to both major Utah shows, the Utah Arts Festival and Park City. These shows have been a great boon to my business and provided me with the funds I've needed to self-publish my books. So, I have to take application time seriously. I worked hard on Monday and Tuesday mornings and was able to produce a lot of work so I could write in the afternoons. On Wednesday, I wrote for a couple of hours before going to a book signing in Ogden. I was disappointed to discover when I got there that they only had 19 copies of the first book and about 40 copies of the second. I sold the 19 copies in less than an hour, along with about ten copies of the second. As I was packing up, I sold another three copies of book 2 to people who were curious, but had not yet read book one. I really like signing in Ogden. I came and wrote more.
Yesterday, I wrote from 8:30 am until 1 am with a short dinner break to spend time with the family. It was amazing how the story unfolded as I wrote. I am constantly learning what this book is about. I came in for dinner, completely emotionally drained after Sam's story took on a twist I never could have guessed. The experience taught me once again that I am not writing this book.
40 pages in...that translates to about 80-85 pages in book format. I am expecting this book to be about 500 pages, give or take, considering how much as been written and how much more I have to write. I had figured on this being the last of the Isaac series, because I have three other stand alone book ideas that keep me up at night, but Niederbipp is going to be a hard place for me to leave. I love going there on the days I write. I love the people I meet there. I have fallen in love with each of them and each of them-okay, most of them have made me a better person. A new guy showed up when I was writing last week. I wrote about this Fromage bon vivants in my last post, but as I read over those chapters today, I found myself completely enamored by this eccentric fellow. He has a lot more to say and I am excited to hear more about him in the coming chapters.

I spent the day writing again--I have lost interest, for the time being, in pottery--and I have enjoyed discovering the depth and pain and hope of the town baker. Sam was such a jovial character in my mind, but Jake discovers some pretty dark stuff.

One thing that has really kept me going this week is receiving emails from readers. One man sent me beautiful poem that book 2 inspired his to write. Another told me of the comfort she recieved from the books as she lost her nine year old neice. Several others told me they were planning trips to Niederbipp and asked for directions. I suppose I better put a map in the next one--no one seems to be able to find it and everyone wants to go there. For those of you who have read the book, thanks. I love hearing from you. If you feel so inclined, I would love to have you fill out a review on Amazon. Just look up my book, click on the number next to the stars and then click on the button that says "create your own review." It doesn't take long, but it is a great way to spread the word about Niederbipp. I should warn you that unless you have purchased something from Amazon, (not necessarilty my book), it won't work. I will write more about it in an upcoming blog.

Its late, but my wife is at an overnight girls-night-out, so I may just stay up late and go back to Niederbipp. Cheers