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…!)

Watch Out for Dragons

From Marcia at facebook.com/theauthorswife:

Over the years, Brian and I have attended hundreds of book events and Meet & Greets, and had the pleasure of meeting thousands of fans. The venues have ranged from bookstores, to restaurants, to private homes, to wineries…and of course, to libraries. When Brian’s not busily at work writing away on the next book(s), we love the chance to visit with his readers. The welcome that we receive everywhere is so heartwarming.

But one of the challenges these days for authors…and really all event planners…is getting the word out. With so many opportunities for activities…and so many ways to reach people…sometimes planners need to get creative—just to grab their clients’ attention.

With that in mind, the Adrian Branch Library in southwestern Minnesota has raised their marketing to a whole new level…! We all know that libraries operate with limited budgets…so a number of years ago, the branch manager knew that she needed to come up with an inexpensive way to connect with adults and children to keep them informed. And so, “The Library Dragons” were born (hatched?)…! These adorable little creatures help the library get the word out about all of their programs and their upcoming activities. And the best part is…even though the population in the Adrian area is about 1,100 residents, the adventures of the Library Dragons are now followed and enjoyed by thousands of folks around the world—including Europe, Asia, South America…!

We’ll be visiting the Adrian area in a few weeks…and can’t wait to meet them—and especially the librarian who created them—in person…!

Oh, and it looks like the Library Dragons are already prepping for our visit…!

The City By the Bay

From Marcia at facebook.com/theauthorswife:

Earlier this week, parts of Minnesota had a major snowstorm roll through…with reports of anywhere from 5-18 inches of snow falling in a less than 24 hour period. (In our area—just east of the Twin Cities—we got a foot of snow. Thankfully we have a very good snowblower…!) We Minnesotans are a hearty bunch, so while some folks may go south for the winter, Brian and I generally stay put…with the cats…and just weather the snowstorms from indoors. Still, there are times when we’d love to “jet off” to a warmer place for the winter. One of our favorite places to go is the “City By The Bay”…San Francisco. Because Brian grew up in that area, we still have family and many friends out there, so it’s always a great getaway. Not only are there great restaurants (seafood to die for, of course), shops and plenty of museums to satisfy any interest…It’s also the place where the newest Frost Easton book, THE VOICE INSIDE, is set.

When we head out there, one of the things that I truly LOVE is flying into the city over the clouds…of course, courtesy of Brian’s imagination, you never know what kind of mayhem can follow your landing…!

Doesn’t He Know About Shack?

From Marcia at facebook.com/theauthorswife:

Whether you’re new to my page or a long time reader, you know that one of the things that I try to do here is tell you some of the fun and funny things that happen in our lives. And if you take a look back, you’ll see that I include a photo to help illustrate the story behind the post. Although the photos are usually candid, there are times when I do actually have to stage the picture—in order to get what I really want you to see.

With Brian’s newest book coming out in just a few short weeks, I thought the time would be right to post a picture of one of our cats perusing the book…just as I’ve done with the previous books. And with our Minnesota temperatures still well below zero (yes, that’s Fahrenheit), today seemed the perfect day to work on staging that purrfect picture. But as you can see…our cat had his own idea of how to spend the cold, winter afternoon.

So, after several hours of randomly trying to entice him into posing for me, I knew we were gonna have to put off his “photo shoot” till another day.

Be sure to check back again…just to see if I have any better luck with my next try…!

Christmas Time is Here

Although December can be a slower time in the book business, it’s a busy time for many folks…us included…as we prepare for the upcoming holidays. Visiting with friends, planning gatherings, sending greeting cards, finding that “purrfect” gift for family members and friends…all while bundled up against the cold winter chill…make it an exciting time. And although Brian is still busily writing away on the next book during the days, in the evenings we like to find time to watch some of our favorite holiday television programs. For Brian, it’s Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang. For me, it’s not the holidays until the Grinch carves the “rare roast beast.”

What’s your annual “must watch” holiday show…?