Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Great Kick-off, Two Open Houses Left

Despite the inclement weather all around us, Saturday was a great launch for the new book. We had a nice, manageable turnout, which is rather unusual, but those who made it said they drove through snow to get here. It was a Saturday                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                like this last one which first convinced us several years ago that we needed to do three weeks in a row instead of just two.
The balmy weather on this coming Saturday (expected to reach 41 degrees) will be a great day to visit the studio and/or stroll through our home. We invite you to come and visit Niederbipp. I have been working hard to get more work done for Saturday, in between visits from customers and friends who don't like crowds. If you are one of these, give me a call, 801-883-0146, and come and see me during the week.
I have already heard from many people who have loved the new book. And every day this week, people I saw last weekend have returned to get additional copies of the new book, explaining they know someone who needs its message. I printed 3000 copies of this new book, Put a Cherry On Top, but they're going fast. And when you buy them directly from me, you get a free pack of crayons! Yeah, that's right, because the book is part coloring book. I also have copies of my other five books available for your gift giving needs. Come and visit. I'd love to see you.
Wild Rooster Artworks
1150 East 800 South
Salt Lake City
December 14 & 21 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Open House, This Weekend

I have been a firing fool lately, firing the kiln three times this week already, and plan to do two more before Saturday. I'd like to invite to you attend the Studio Sale/Book Launch/Home Tour.

Wild Rooster Artworks

1150 East 800 South

Salt Lake City, Utah

December 7th, 14th and 21st

10-5pm Each Saturday

If you have seen the house and just want to come for a book or for pottery, I am open during the week too. Just give me a call to give me a heads up. 801-883-0146. Looking forward to seeing you and showing you my new book. The books are now available on Amazon for those of you who aren't close to Salt Lake. Cheers.

Monday, November 18, 2013

New Book! Put a Cherry On Top ...Available Dec 7

It has been several months since I have updated my blog, and the main reason for that is that I have been frantically trying to finish my newest book, Put A Cherry On Top. Today, it was officially sent to the printer, and with any luck, I will have the book available at my

Holiday Open House and Home Tour
 December 7,14, 21
 1150 East 800 South
10-5 each Saturday

If you are just interested in pots or books, come during the week as well. Just call first to make sure I am around. 

I am super excited about "Put A Cherry On Top: The secrets of creating an Artful Life (at least the ones I've learned in my first 40 years) Yeah, I know, long subtitle. This book itself is a work of art. All the left hand pages are filled with pictures and quotes, and it is a coloring book, (even comes with a pack of crayons), where you will be encouraged to color outside the lines. The right hand pages are filled with these secrets, encouraging the reader to think outside the box, open your life to possibility and live the dream. As a full time artist for the past 17 years, I like to think I know a little bit about those things. It is filled with optimistic quotes, encouraging everyone to make the ordinary into the extraordinary by giving life a little bit extra. It is a book for people of all ages, a book for people who want to believe the world is round. I will be following up with a picture of the cover as soon as it is done. 

So, although it may appear that I have been a slacker, in reality I have been busting my butt to get this done. Come and see me in December. Pick up a book, or a pot, and tour the house. We have added a few things since last year. See you soon.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Back to Niederbipp

It's been a while since I have written. This was the first summer in perhaps my whole life where I feel like I actually had a summer vacation, time to spend with the kids, some good trips, some real down time. So much so that I am wondering how to get back to work. I have to. I have shows coming up and people wanting pots, and books wanting to be written. I spent some good time writing this summer too. But it's not enough to have a book ready by Christmas. Bummer. I am actually going to be spending some time working on the Niederbipp books again, getting them ready to find a national publisher. I have learned some things about writing over the past few books and I need to create a cleaner, better manuscript to send to the national publisher. I have some help. After casting my bread upon the waters, considering the lilies, and all that, I feel excited to have someone to help me move forward and hopefully open the door for many, many more books to come. I cannot go through the day without dozens of characters dancing around in my head, begging for their stories to be told. I am excited to get moving on those too, but I am feeling more and more that it is important to stop and build a solid foundation before I build any higher. Sorry to those of you who are waiting patiently for the next book. I hope it won't be forever, but after running crazy for the last several years, I feel like its time to stop long enough to make sense of all the stuff that has happened and plan the road ahead. This is going to be good. I can already feel it.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mother's Day Open House May 9-11--Just in time to save your Bacon!

A friend asked me on Sunday how the writing was going. I was sad to report that it wasn't going at all. I have done little but make pottery night and day for the last few months. I've got a lot of pottery to show for it, but the stories are working on me hard, screaming sometimes to get out. I am anxious to get to it.

But first, let me announce our Annual Mother's Day Extravaganza
Studio Sale and Home Tour
May 9, 10, 11, 2013
10 am -5pm Daily
1150 East 800 South Salt Lake City, Utah
Books, Pottery, Yard Art, a ride on the Zipline of Happiness, a tour of our crazy home!

If you haven't been here in the last year, you haven't been here. I have been working on my stairs in the studio, covering them with tile, and I also hope to have Isaac's Bench done in time for the open house. I've got a lot to do. I wish my body didn't get tired because there is so much more I would like to do. For now, sleep is calling me and I must yield. Hope to see you on Mother's Day Weekend.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Spring in the Valley of Awesomeness.

I usually experience seasonal funks, but this year has been especially bad. I think part of it was because we spent a month in Newport Beach and came home to snow, low temps, and frozen pipes. I have not felt like writing, even though the muses have been singing in my ear. I have not been super excited about making pots even though I have boatloads of ideas. I have not felt like breathing, even though I am still in need of oxygen. I have not felt like sending query letters to agents even though I know that is really the only way to find one. I have been in a funky, non-motivated state for the way too long. But that is beginning to change. Two weeks ago, I sent out my first 10 query letters. I have already received 4 rejections which hurt a lot less than I imagined. I am refining my letter and plan to send more soon. But my big break came on Saturday. I needed to get some work done in the studio, and was bummed because it was the first really nice day in about 400 days, or so it seemed. Realizing I couldn't go hiking and get my work done, I opted for a happy hybrid. I opened the garage door for the first time in 6 months and let the sunshine in. It was awesome. I was productive and motivated and it felt so ding-dang good, I actually found myself feeling happy. I should be happy. I have a lot to be happy about. And when the sun shines, I tend to recognize it more. Yay for sun!
Being away from writing for the last few weeks has made me rusty. I tried to get back to it today and though I know where the story wants to go after thinking about it everyday for the past few weeks, I wrote a whopping two paragraphs in about three hours. I know I need to give this more of my attention. I am still dealing with the old fears that have been proven ridiculous over and over again, but still I have a hard time setting aside the time to write when there are pots to make and shows to get ready for, and and and..... My goal was to have a new book for release at Christmas, and I still have lots of time, but I know that if I don't write everyday, it won't happen. I hope the sunshine will help with the motivation. Living on the south side of my street, my front yard is still filled with snow, but the piles around the yard are getting smaller and my hope is getting bigger, and life is beginning to look up. I know I am solar powered. Never has that been more clear to me as it has this year.
I am including a picture I took while in Watts earlier this year. My new book is set there and I am surrounding myself with the pictures to keep me motivated. I know it is still early yet, but I wanted to be the first to wish you a happy spring. It's gonna be awesome!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Calling all Agents!

This past month has been an interesting one. Since returning from sunny California to frozen Salt Lake City, I have been in the process of selecting a literary agent. Nearly four years ago when my first book, Remembering Isaac was nearing completion, I considered finding an agent to help me launch it to the world. But reasoning that no agent or publisher would be interested in an unproven author, I decided to self-publish instead and see how it would be received. Discovering Isaac followed nine months later, and Becoming Isaac, nine months after that. To date, I have sold more than 28,000 copies of the Niederbipp books, most of them through word of mouth, from people like you who have read the books and told their friends and book groups about them. I have spoken to more than 180 book groups over the last few years. It has been an inspiring, exhausting journey. I have met thousands of people I never would have met and been invited into homes I never would have entered. Isaac, for so many of us, has come alive—a living, breathing, wonderful old potter who not only shaped the village of Niederbipp, but also each of us who has learned to love him. Thank you for sharing Isaac with those you love. Thank you for spreading Niederbipp. Thank you for believing in me and this story. It has been touching to hear from you and your experiences with Isaac and the characters of Niederbipp.

As much fun as this has been, I feel like the time has come to find an agent who can help me spread Niederbipp beyond the Wasatch Front. This morning, I sent out my first ten query letters to agents. This process is normally long and depressing, from all I have heard and read, but I feel confident, with the track record of these books, that someone will be interested and want to know more.

I have many more books to write and I want to get back to writing. I think I will always make pottery. It is in the quiet studio, in the middle of creation, that the voices of Niederbipp and Borrowing Fire have spoken to me. I don't know if I could ever separate my writing from my physically creative art, but I know I want to be writing more than I have been. I got a great start on the new book while in California, but since being home, I have done little but make pottery and search for potential agents. I need to get back to writing and work on the other stories that continue to sing in my head, begging to be written. I feel like finding an agent and selling my books to a big publisher is the only way I can continue to do this. I feel like the stories I have written, and the stories I have yet to write can help shed a little light and joy in our sometimes dark world. I am anxious to find an agent who can help me spread the happiness.

 I want to thank all my readers and everyone who has taken it upon themselves to be my promoters. Without you, Niederbipp would still be an dream and Isaac would be stuck in a box, unable to breathe. I am convinced that there is no such thing as a self-made man. I have struggled for years with the stories I have written, but without you, without all the good things you have said about my books, I never could have done what I have done. 28,000 books is huge. But I feel like the story is just beginning and I look forward to the ride. Thank you for your part in making this a reality.

If you know any agents who might be interested in my books, I would love to hear from you. Otherwise, please cross your fingers and send out good energy for me, the books, and the agents who will be receiving my query letters.
Viva Niederbipp!

I should also mention that I have had several book clubs come to my home and studio for a book club field trips. I am open to this. We have hosted several book group discussions in our living room. It makes the experience even more real. If you are interested in coming here with your book group, or having me attend your gathering to share the story behind the story, please give me a call. My number is in the back of the books. I look forward to hearing from you. Cheers, Ben

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Month in Paradise...or close

I just returned from a month long trip to Newport Beach, where I established a new office on Lifeguard Stand 71. I have had this idea for several years now, but as Christmas approached, I realized this would be the last year I would be able to take off for a whole month as my son will be in 7th grade next winter and it will be more difficult to get him out of school for such a long time. After doing some checking, we found we could rent a beach house for a whole month for less than it costs to rent the same property for a week in the summer. It was a no brainer. We had to go
We left the day after school got out and made it down in time to see the annual Christmas boat parade in the Newport Harbor. We rode bikes almost every day, spent lots of time beach combing for shells and beach glass, had lots of Nerf wars with the guns we got for Christmas, spent more time together as a family than we ever have before, and I spent lots of time writing on my office. The beaches were nearly abandoned. We saw twice as many dolphins as we did people. And though the wind was sometimes chilly, I found that if I sat on this side of the lifeguard tower, in the wind shadow, I could be warmed by the sun and sheltered from the wind. I ended up with a great tan on one side of my face and a hundred pages on a new book!
My next book is set in Watts, LA County and part of the reason for this trip was to be closer to Watts. Its a rugged place, a slum really, filled with interesting and gritty characters. Every home is surrounded by chainlink fences and every window is barred. There are regular drive by shootings and garbage everywhere, but in the middle of Watts is an incredible surprise. In 1921, an Italian immigrant named Sabato (Sam) Rodilla began construction on his masterpiece, now known as Watts Towers. The towers, seventeen of them in all, are incredible. The tallest of which are just shy of 100 feet tall, built of steel reinforced concrete that he built by hand, covering every surface of these skeletal towers with glass and tile mosaic, sea shells, pottery shards, and beautiful junk. He built a seven foot all wall around his property, covering the walls with the same incredible coverings. I will be including pictures over the next few months as I continue to work on this, but if you have not seen Watts Towers, you have really missed out. It is an inspiring place. After working on this project for 33 years, Sam walked away from it, leaving it all to a neighbor. Over the years, the house he lived in on the property burned down, but the towers and the walls remain as sentinels over this oasis of humanity and loveliness in an otherwise chaotic desert. An art center has been built next door and guide tours are given four days a week.
The book is set in the shadows of these tower and revolves around a man, Sammy, who hears voices and shares those messages with people who are too busy with their lives to hear the gentle whisperings of the wind. The working title is Embrace the Wind, but it may change as I get further into it. I am really enjoying this one. It has been working in my mind for more than five years and I am excited that it is finally working its way out.
I will be doing a book signing tomorrow at the Bountiful Costco ( January 25) from 2-5 and on Saturday 26th from 2-5 in Ogden at Costco
Next week I will be at the Sandy Costco on Wednesday (30) from 2-5 and in Orem (Jan 31) on Thursday from 2-5. I will only be signing the Niederbipp Trilogy while I am there, but I will bring some of the new books, Borrowing Fire and have them with me in my trunk if you want to come towards the end of my signing, or about 5, I can sell you one of those in the parking lot. I will be working on getting the new book into Costco soon.
I am also realizing that if I want to have some semblance of a normal life, whatever that means, I need some help. I have talked about finding and agent over the years, but I have never followed through, and now that I am working on my 5th book, I can see I am limited without one. My new years resolution is to stop hiding the light of Niederbipp under a bushel and get it into the hands of someone who can help me take it to a larger audience. Any suggestion?  I don't know any agents so I am starting from zero, which means I've got nothing to lose. Wish me luck.  Happy New Year.