The Crooked Street Sign

From Marcia at facebook.com/theauthorswife:

Being an author means a lot more than “just” writing books…Promoting the books is a big part of Brian’s job. And while social media and the internet have given us new ways to connect with readers, nothing beats book events as a way to meet readers in person and sign their books for them. In fact, over the years, Brian has traveled thousands of miles and appeared at hundreds of different venues to meet fans and sign their books…! (Just out of curiosity, I asked Brian if he has any idea of how many books he’s signed over the years. Of course, he has no idea but we know that the number is in the multiple thousands range.)

As we prepare for several upcoming events (many of which had to be rescheduled from earlier this year due to the snowy Minnesota winter we’ve had), we’ve been talking about how the way we travel has changed over the years. Getting to and from event venues has always been a challenge…from “red-eye” flights to long drives, Brian’s done ‘em all. Luckily, I’ve been able to accompany him on a lot of the various trips over the years. And although airline travel is often the only way to get to some areas, we actually prefer when we can drive. In the early days, before the advent of GPS, we used to plan our routes with an atlas, or by using some of the online websites (like Mapquest) and printing out the directions in order to reach our destination. Of course, those sites weren’t always accurately up-to-date and even the GPS navigational devices weren’t always correct, either, so there were a number of times when we’d need to make our own best guess of which direction to go. (Yes, a number of years ago in Vero Beach, our GPS insisted that we go straight—which would have sent us right into the middle of a rushing river bed. Needless to say, we didn’t follow those directions.)

These days, though, our smartphones do a remarkably good job at getting us places…we just pack up the car, plug in our destination and we’re off. But we do still love following the various roadsigns along the way…like this one…!

Hearing From Readers

From Marcia at facebook.com/theauthorswife:

With Brian’s next book THE CROOKED STREET due out on Tuesday, there are a lot of details that we need to attend to…but in the midst of that, we both enjoy the opportunity to interact with his fans. (We’re always receiving emails from folks around the world.) And as we were working yesterday, a lovely email came in from one of Brian’s fans…it was so touching that I asked Brian if I could share it here. And of course, he said yes.

Don’t worry, your eyes aren’t failing you…the text IS very small…and even if the letters weren’t so small, it’s in Italian…! Neither Brian nor I speak nor read Italian, so thank goodness for online translators, right…? They’re always a little “rough”…but the gist comes through. It reads as follows:

**********
“The trouble again but I just finished – the darkest day [the Italian edition of MARATHON] – spectacular. I have no words is wonderful. I am entranced by the intrigue of his stories. I have been in a wheelchair for seven years because of stroke and therefore my hobby is to read light and read. I only read foreign thrillers and I like them a lot. They fill me the day and they make me forget my disability and make me feel like the others.

In addition to being in love with his books, his fantastic characters, in my mind I imagined the city of duluth.

I have read many American writers but I have never seen so much BRIAN FREEMAN.

THANKS FOR YOUR TIME
Sincerely”
**********

The translation may not be grammatically correct, but that doesn’t matter…her kind thoughts came through loud and clear…and warmed our hearts on this cold Minnesota day…!

Looking Forward and Back

From Marcia at facebook.com/theauthorswife:

Now that the holidays are over (we hope yours were great) and the new year is upon us, a lot of us are thinking about time…the past, the present and the future.

One of the interesting things about the publishing business for us is that Brian and I often find ourselves actually living in the past, present and the future—simultaneously.

How so…? Well, with so many of his books out in the marketplace, Brian is always hearing from readers who are reading those previous books…so we regularly revisit the characters and their experiences in the past. Just like all of us, those characters have changed and grown…and it’s fun to hear how readers relate to them, have embraced them, and grown right along with them over the years.

As for the present…with Brian’s new book coming out soon (January 29 and it’s available for pre-order right now), he’s already busily working on the next one…a book that will reach readers’ hands in the future. Indeed, the book that he’s working on now will be published about a year from now…in 2020…!

But just as none of us knows what the future has in store for us, none of us knows what the future holds for the characters in Brian’s books. Well, none of us…except for Brian, that is…and of course, he’s not telling any of us—not even me—yet…!

Looking for Signed Books?

From Marcia at facebook.com/theauthorswife:

One of the greatest joys of Brian’s career as an author is the opportunity for him to get out from behind the desk…and meet readers in person. And he loves the chance to chat with folks individually and sign their books…! Often people want just his signature and the date…but in many cases, people will ask for a special inscription because the book holds some special significance for them…or it’s because they intend to give the book as a gift. Of course, he’s happy to oblige…and he’s very good at coming up with a comment or a phrase that works for any occasion. One of his favorites is when a reader asks him to sign his name and write something funny. So, when this happens…he lets his humorous side take over…and has actually written the words “something funny”…!

As we all know, giving books as gifts is a wonderful idea…and at this time of year, we’re being asked how folks can get books to give to family and friends. If you go to Brian’s website, you’ll find each of his books…and if you click on the individual books, you’ll find ways to order from your favorite bookseller, as well as a link to buy Brian’s two most recent books, ALTER EGO and THE VOICE INSIDE from us directly so that Brian can personally sign the book for you.

And while you’re there…don’t forget to pre-order Brian’s newest book, THE CROOKED STREET, which will hit bookstores and online retailers on January 29…! You won’t wanna miss the action as Frost Easton returns…!

Happy Thanksgiving

From Marcia at facebook.com/theauthorswife:

Like many of you, this week we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving. We’ll be having some friends over to join us and our “boys”…and as we begin our preparations, Brian and I find ourselves reflecting on how thankful we are to have so many wonderful friends—like you–all around the world. Brian loves writing books and what a joy it is to know that his books have touched so many lives.

Every day Brian receives emails and messages from loyal and devoted fans…writing to tell him how much they enjoy reading his books. All of these messages are wonderful…and yes, he does read and respond to each of them personally.

This one was so touching, I asked him if I could show it to you…and of course, he said yes. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how much of an impact we have on others…this was a lovely reminder. We’re thankful for all of you and the joy that you bring to our lives…Happy Thanksgiving to all of you…!

Here is the email…just as it was written….

Hello Brian Freeman.

I am ****, and I have recently become acquainted with (aka addicted to) your work and your alter ego, Jonathan Stride. I have been a book junkie since the age of 8, when, at my second grade book fair, I purchased my first book with my very own money. The title was, “The Happy Hollisters Haunted House Mystery”. Fifty-eight years have passed, yet every moment of that purchase is clear in my fuzzy mind.

I came upon your name about three weeks ago, and I have been working my way through the Stride series since. I just completed “The Cold Nowhere” and will be moving forward after this letter. I need to tell you that I usually cannot complete an entire series without taking breaks after every two or three novels to read something different before returning. Not so with your work. I’ve only EVER done this once before, and that was with the Lou Boldt/ Daphne Matthews series by Ridley Pearson. You are in a very exclusive club…rightfully so!! So, move over Ridley, because you must now share your pedestal with Brian! I am nearly 67 now and I am handicapped. It is because of The Library of Congress BARD program for blind and handicapped people that I am able to continue to read and remain sane. Thank you so very very much for making your work available to them. Really Brian, nothing I can say is enough. Nothing I can say is adequate enough to help you understand how much this means to me. The quality of my life is quite different now, but as long as I can climb inside a book and live there….life remains grand. I appreciate you. Please give my best to your lovely Marcia. Carpe Librum

Open Sesame

From Marcia at facebook.com/theauthorswife:

One of the things that I try to do is to share fun and interesting details of our lives…but the reality of it is that, unless we’re out traveling and doing book promotion events, we’re home and Brian is busily writing away in his office (which, of course, he’s doing currently). That being said, we usually do quite a number of events each year, so we spend a lot of time out on the road.

When we travel, I enjoy taking pictures…so thank goodness for the quality of cellphone cameras, right…? Of course, I’ll take some pictures at the book events…and maybe you’ve even seen me “snapping away” at some of them. But I also enjoy taking “touristy” pictures…so if our schedule permits, we’ll go and visit the local tourist attractions in any given area. (Yes, that does sometimes include cemeteries and ruined buildings—cause after all, we never know when or where something will prove inspirational for a future book…!)

Sometimes though, as in this case, I’ll see something that is so unique, I’ve just gotta take a picture. Now, if you take a look real closely at this one…hopefully you’ll be able to see what it is and figure out how it’s supposed to be used…! But…just in case you’re stumped…thank goodness they also had instructions and a diagram…

Death in the Fridge

From Marcia at facebook.com/theauthorswife:

One of the most common questions that Brian gets asked is about how he schedules his writing time: does he write every day…does he prefer to write in the mornings or evenings or both…does he work 7 days a week…etc. And the answer to that is…being an author means that Brian’s schedule is always changing. Although he does spend his days (mornings and afternoons, but usually not the evenings) busily writing away, that time is often “interrupted” when a new book is coming out. During the months leading up to…and following…a book launch, there’s a lot of activity taking place online and in traveling to bookstores and libraries (and bookclubs) to promote the new book, so we’re in and out and constantly engaged in marketing activities.

But then there are the “off” times…like now. It’s been several months since the last book was released…and it will now be several months until the next one is released. (Of course, it’s available for pre-order now—online or from your local bookseller.) So, it’s actually rather quiet at our house currently. We’re home with “the boys” and living pretty normal lives…which also means taking care of some of the things that get neglected when we’re too busy at other times of the year.

One of those recent activities involved…cleaning out the refrigerator. Yes, one of the days last week when we opened up the fridge…it became immediately obvious that something had…umm…”died.” The smell was overwhelming…so, I took on the task of getting rid of the problem. (Of course now that I think about it, I’m wondering whether Brian used an upcoming manuscript deadline as a way to avoid involvement. Hmmm, I may need to do a little detective work of my own to solve that mystery…!)

Luckily, it turned out that it was NOT the result of Brian doing research on how long a body could be kept in the fridge…but rather, just a package of broccoli that had outlived its “best if used by” date. Thank goodness for lots of “elbow grease,” baking soda, and some good old-fashioned oatmeal…yes, oatmeal…!

I triumphantly told Brian to come and check out my results…which he did. And after complimenting me on my a job well-done, he promptly asked me how the freezer was doing!

I’m pleased to report that yes, we’re still happily—and humorously—married…!

Brian On a Stick

From Marcia at facebook.com/theauthorswife: Although summer is winding down and schools are back in session in many parts of the country, in Minnesota the end of August means it’s time for the Minnesota State Fair. For 12 days, ending on Labor Day, hundreds of thousands of people flock to the fairgrounds daily to see all sorts of exhibits, meet up with friends, attend concerts…and of course, consume every kind of junk food imaginable.

And topping the list of favorite foods are those that can be deep fried (mini-donuts, candy bars, cheese curds, etc.)…and foods on a stick (corndogs, cheesecake, bacon, spaghetti, etc.). Yes, you name it, and you can find it fried…or on a stick…or both…!

Brian and I love to attend the fair and often go several times each year. He’s even done guest appearances there. In fact, several years ago, one of our favorite local bookstores had a booth out there and asked Brian if he would come and hang out there to chat with readers for the afternoon. Needless to say, Brian jumped at the chance to do so. As an added perk to people who stopped by, we wanted to come up with something to giveaway that was right in keeping with the theme of fair foods…so we gave it some thought and finally came up with the perfect idea.

We designed and printed up bookmarks with a complete listing of Brian’s books to date—then attached them to sticks. And voila…“Brian-on-a-stick” was born…! They were a HUGE hit…and we gave away hundreds…!

These days, there are too many books to fit onto one bookmark…so Brian-on-a-stick is history…! But, we still go every year…and have a great time…along with the other almost 2 million other attendees. No wonder it’s called the “the great Minnesota get together”…!

What’s in a Name?

From Marcia at facebook.com/theauthorswife:

Brian is known for using unique names in his books, so one of the questions that he’s often asked is whether any of the characters in his books are real…or based upon people that we know. The answer to that is generally no…but he has been known to use the names of a few real people that we know or have encountered. (Perhaps you’ve even noticed a familiar name or two over the years.)

Sometimes there are fun stories behind Brian’s choice of names…and his newest book, ALTER EGO, has a great story behind the names of two of the leading characters. Last spring, Brian and I were approached by the director of the Duluth Library Foundation to see if he would not only participate in their Fall fundraising event, but also whether he would also be willing to “auction off” the chance to become a named character in his next Jonathan Stride book. Of course, he jumped at the opportunity to help support such a worthy cause…!

A live auction was planned…and the bidding started with a number of folks jumping in with their bids. As the bids went higher, it became obvious that there were two people who were intent on winning. A hot and heavy bidding war between these two ensued. In the end, the winner was Lori Fulkerson…who was thrilled with her triumph. But then, in a surprise—and very generous gesture—the second bidder approached Brian afterward to ask whether, if he still gave his final bid amount, would Brian also let him be a named character in the book? Of course, since the ultimate winner would be the library foundation, Brian said yes…! And so, Dean Casperson became the name of another major character.

But here’s the twist…Lori and Dean didn’t know what kind of characters in the book would be named for them…!

Perhaps a victim…? Perhaps a villain…? Perhaps a murderer…?

This secret was kept from them…until the book was released. As a part of the launch for ALTER EGO, the Duluth Library Foundation held a second fundraising event at Glensheen–with Lori and Dean and in attendance—and Brian was invited to publicly reveal their characters. It was a sold-out event and everyone was thrilled with the revelation…including Lori and Dean. And of course, the best part was that it was all for a good cause…more than $6,000 was raised for the foundation.

Of course, if you’ve already read ALTER EGO, then you know which characters were named for Lori and Dean…but if you haven’t, now would be a great time to pick up a copy to find out…!

Four Years of Fun

From Marcia at facebook.com/theauthorswife:

Although I can hardly believe it, this month marks the fourth birthday of my page, The Author’s Wife…and in that time, the number of friends who connect with me here has grown to over 1,400…! Of course, we’ve talked about Brian’s books and events…but I’ve also been able to tell you about some of the fun and funny things that happen to us, both at home and out on the road. Several of my personal favorites were when I got to transport the baby bobcat…dried a pair of Brian’s jeans with a hair dryer and a hotel radiator…found our neighbors’ missing dog because a Duluth-based friend saw the notice online…trapped bugs with a vacuum cleaner…collected bathroom toiletries…and of course, thawed our friends’ garage door opener with a heating pad (we DO live in Minnesota, after all…!). Just FYI…sometimes I know it’s hard to keep up…so if you’ve missed these or other stories, they’re all still there for you to take a look.

And of course, it’s great fun when you chime in with your thoughts and stories, too…!

But, I think the best part of it all…is keeping in touch with all of you…! Thanks for being here with Brian and me…and we look forward to keeping in touch with you in the future…!

(And a special thank you to those “party animals,” the Adrian Branch Library Dragons, for their good wishes, too…!)