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