Saturday, February 26, 2011

New Mugs--fresh from the kiln.

I just came in from unloading the kiln. Many of you have asked from time to time to be notified when I have fresh pots. Well, today is the day! I just unloaded nearly 100 mugs in a huge range of colors. My shelves are full of these beauties. I also did a bunch this time with forget-me-nots on them. I will be around most of next week if you would like to stop by. Call first just to make sure. 801-883-0146. I also unloaded about 25 journey jars. I still need to finish lashing on the handles, and with the need to do another glaze firing, I may not have those done until Thursday.

My son had a Pinewood Derby this morning with the cub scouts. My daughter made a car too. She came in third. He came in twelfth. Any good ideas about teaching boys to be better losers would be greatly appreciated. This has not been my proudest fathering moment. I have a really hard time putting up with poor sportsmanship.

Writing did not go very well this week. I think I am in a bit of a funk, but I am trying to kick it. Looking over my journals from previous years, I realize I don't do February in Utah very well. It makes my wanderlust flair up something fierce. I've got to kick my butt back into gear.

Anyway, happy Saturday. Cheers,

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Book Signing/Art Opening this Weekend

I just wanted to let folks know that I will be having a book signing and showing some of my recent pottery work at Evergreen Gallery this Friday, Feb 18th from 6-9 pm. Evergreen Gallery is on 2000 East and almost 3300 South in Salt Lake. It is a beautiful gallery. This friday is Gallery Stroll, so start there and make it a fun, cheap date.

While I'm blogging, I will just say that I am making good progress on my next book. I am now about 60 pages in and it is feeling good. Yesterday, as I was working in the studio, I had a new idea come to me and had to stop to outline another book that I am really excited about. I thought I was done with Niederbipp for a while, but I am really excited that this one will take me back there. I think it will be called The Matchmaker of Niederbipp. It will likely be directed to young would-be lovers, but will have lots of good stuff for those of us already married and wanting to stay that way. This is going to be fun. I am really enjoying writing and hoping to spend more time with it. Boy, I really need to find an agent. Any suggestions from my friends in cyberspace? Cheers. Ben

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Progress on the Tundra

There are few things I really enjoy doing when the world is gray and frozen solid. Writing has become one of the few things that makes me happy in such circumstances, but I found another one today which may prove to distract me from my writing. I took my kids out of school today and took them skiing at Park City. They are running an amazing deal for new local skiers--$25 for rentals, a lesson and a lift pass. We decided we couldn't afford not to go. It was cold, but clear, and a lot of fun. I grew up skiing, back when it cost $5 a day for a lift ticket and $5 for rentals. That was in 1981. I was eight when I started and I never had a lesson. My mom took us to the top of the mountain and told us she would see us at the end of the day, back at the car. My younger brothers and I learned how to ski out of desperation and by watching others, trying to keep up with people who were better than us. It worked for us. I'm not sure I would have lasted in lessons, but I also recognize I wouldn't want to teach my kids. I have patience for a lot of things, but I know myself well enough to know that teaching my kids how to ski would not be one of those. It was difficult enough for me to hang out with my wife on the bunny hills all day while she worked on her form. She took her first lesson a few weeks ago. I like steep, fast runs, covered with jumps and chutes and challenging terrain. I used to love to ski moguls, but I realized a few years ago that I am far too fat and old to handle the gut wrenching I used to relish.

I just wanted to let folks know that I am making progress on the next book. I have written about 40 pages and I am happy with what I have so far. The first fifty pages of any book are probably the hardest ones to write--laying the foundation of everything that is built upon it. I remember when I build my studio, I spent about three weeks working on digging the hole, pouring the footings, the foundation, and the slab. The rest of the structure went up in about 3 days. I anticipate that the book will require much longer than three days to finish, but now that the foundation is laid, I hope it will go much quicker. It amazes me how long it takes to research stuff you don't know enough about to make it sound believable. Because I am a potter, the last books were fairly easy to make them sound believable because I had all the info stored in my noodle. Not so with this book. I have no idea how long it might take for this next book to be ready to be released and I am not going to make any promises, but I am enjoying both the process and the research on this one tremendously. I hope you will enjoy the final product.

I mentioned in October that I finally decided to send a query letter to an agent. I waited and waited, but heard nothing despite the fact that her website said she responded within six weeks. I found out three weeks ago that she had never received my letter or the books I sent with it. I promptly sent another. Today, I heard from her assistant that they are reading the books and will get back to me soon!. Okay, so I let out a little yalp. I know that might not mean anything, but I know I have to find an agent if I am to continue this journey. I know the books need to reach a wider, broader audience and I am keenly aware that my one man show is indeed a one man show. I suppose that sounds quite conceded really, considering that I have so many readers who are doing more than amazing things, spreading Niederbipp around the country. I just had a woman last week from Preston, Idaho, home of Napoleon Dynamite, who sent me an order for 43 books. I know I am not alone in this journey and I thank all of you who have helped me to get to this point. So far, we have sold about 18,300 books. That ought to count for something. But the fact is that I am tired and wanting to write more. In addition to the book I am now writing, I have five more books outlined that I think about every day, anxious to get to them, but feeling overwhelmed with everything else I have to do. I need to buy myself some time. I need to feel like I can take the day off from my pottery and just write. As it stands right now, I feel like I need to start getting ready for the art festivals and art shows which have paid for all the books. To date, I have spent more than $85K publishing the trilogy. I have broken even and am now making some money, but I will need to spend another $20K-$60K before summer to replenish my stock. I can't continue to do all of this indefinitely. I know I need a network of publishers and publicists who can help spread the word beyond the intermountain west. I feel like I've only glimpsed the tip of the iceberg. I never wrote these books with the hope of becoming rich, but I knew from the beginning that they would reach a broad audience--and so I must continue to push and hope and pray.

The books continue to sell well on Amazon, thanks in large part to the word of mouth advertising and the positive reviews the book has received. If you enjoyed the books and have yet to review it on Amazon, I invite you to let your voice be heard. Just look up the books on Amazon, then click on the number next to the stars. This will bring up the reviews. There will be a button there that says, Create your own review. If you follow the prompts, it takes only a few minutes but can really make a difference. Thank you in advance for taking the time to do so.

So, I am signing off. I am tired, but I want to write for an hour or so before fatigue overshadows me. It's probably too late to be wishing anyone a happy new year, so I will just say I hope its going well. Keep your chin up and Viva Niederbipp!