Thursday, October 17, 2013

Why Hawaii?


I was asked this week by a reader, "Why did you choose to set your next book in Hawaii?"  This post answers that question.

The simple response is that I fell in love with Hawaii on my very first visit.  Soon after getting married, one of my dreams was to someday take my family to Hawaii for vacation.  I made that a goal and set aside work bonus monies for a couple of years to make the dream a reality.  When we landed in Honolulu and got off the plane, the beautiful tropical flowers, aloha spirit, and appealing fragrances of the islands instantly hit all of us.  It was total appeal on so many sensory levels.

Our first night was spent in Honolulu at a Waikiki Beach hotel.  I will never forget waking early to have breakfast and how we enjoyed all the amazingly flavorful homegrown pineapple and papaya.  They just don't taste as good back on the US mainland.  Catching the sunrise over Diamond Head was a treat, too (time change had us up early).

We have been fortunate to make many trips back to Hawaii as a family enjoying stays on most of the inhabited islands.  The wife and I even managed an escape for the entire month of February one year on Lanai.  With the children though, they preferred Maui and in particular Kaanapali Beach.

I could stop here but that would not be the crux of the story about a motivating force that propelled me to work extra hard and regularly travel to Hawaii.  Except for the month on Lanai, we have only traveled to Hawaii around the Thanksgiving holiday.  The backstory there is not complicated.  One year on Thanksgiving Day, we were all sitting around the dining table at a family member's home.  The time before dinner had become somewhat charged with various relatives and close family friends derisively challenging each other about political ideologies, educational choices for children, how other members chose to spend their money....well, you get the picture.

That tension carried over to the table despite all the "happy face" poses.  Sadly, this was the typical scene holiday after holiday where the extended family gathered together.   And this particular year I reached my fill.  I vowed then and there that this was my family's last time to have to endure these toxic "family" relationships.  The next year we went to Hawaii for the first time.  Every year after that until the children were older and off to college, we escaped to the islands.  I must say that it is much easier to give thanks in Hawaii on the beach with a Mai Tai in hand!  And that, as Paul Harvey said, is the rest of the story.

With Thanksgiving just over a month away, it's probably not too late to book your flight!  :-)


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Inspiration Everywhere


So, while Thin Places:  Santa Fe is in the editing stage, I can come up for air from writing and tell you a quick story.  Our daughter rescued the border collie pictured above.  He was not fond of herding sheep.  In fact he didn't like animals of any kind.   So the breeder found a good home for him.

He typically stays with us when she travels on business, which is just about every month for a week at a time.  I've learned that this Einstein of the dog breeds does herd after all:  Nyla-bones and tennis balls and people.  It's a riot!

The 3 year old is pictured lounging at my feet just beneath my desk.  I snapped it on a recent afternoon while writing.  At the time, I had taken my gaze off the computer screen because I had come to a place in the story where it was important that my lead character's dog have a name.  I don't know if you're a dog lover or have ever had one as a pet.  We have and naming them was something akin to naming our three children.  The name had to fit.

Nothing, and I mean nothing was readily coming to mind.  I got up from my chair, walked down the hall, then down the stairs and into the kitchen to pour myself a cold glass of water.  Just like he always does, this dog was directly beside me every step of the way, except he does take the stairs really fast and wins at getting to the bottom just about every time.

I got tickled at his persistence following me everywhere and said to him, "You're just determined to be my shadow."  Did you just see the light bulb in my head turn on brightly?

Buck's dog is named Shadow.  That's not my daughter's dog's name.  But he was the inspiration.

Shadow is not a border collie either.  You'll have to read the book to find out what breed he is and you won't have long to wait.  It will be available via Amazon Kindle in a few weeks.  (If you haven't already done so, signing up for my email list will keep you notified about future releases and specials.  The link is at the top right on this page.)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

little tweaks = BIG CHANGES!



I am a member of an awesome private group that my writing coach created.  Though small, it's an incredibly encouraging group of fellow authors at all different stages of their publishing adventure.

Every now and then someone will mention that they just don't think they can hack it.  Among the recommendations for conquering this kind of thinking, a fellow member recommended this video that she watched and applied.

Many of us in the group took pause and spent the 21 minutes listening to Amy Cuddy's TED Talks presentation.  Some of us started applying it before doing the "butt in the chair, mind in the story, words on the page" (thank you Nora Roberts) thing.  AMAZING!

The reason I share it with YOU is that it's not just for writers.

Enjoy.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What Are "Thin Places?"

I stumbled across the term "thin places" some years ago.  A book I read had a fascinating story that took place in Ireland.  One of the characters reminded me of a close friend of my grandfather who owned the legendary New Orleans bar that carried his name, Pat O'Brien.  Having married a woman with Irish heritage, I was doing some research to learn more.  Following the "black Irish" trail, I landed on an altogether unfamiliar term -- thin places.

At the time, not much was written about thin places.  I did learn that it is reasonably clear that this is an old Celtic concept.  Today, you can easily find a lot more information about thin places.  It was then that the idea of writing a fiction tale about thin places was birthed in me.

My first book in my "Thin Places" series will be published by summer's end.  As word gets out, I've been asked by family members and friends, "What in the world are thin places?"

Of all that I've read about them, the best definition for my writing purposes (the one that gives me the most latitude) comes from Eric Weiner, a writer for The New York Times.  Here is how he describes thin places:
They are locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine...


So, there you have it.  If you're interested in a little more exploration I encourage you to read Eric's excellent article "Where Heaven and Earth Come Closer."

The main character in my novel has a thin place experience that is unexpected, one he is not seeking.  I'm looking forward to sharing his story in THIN PLACES:  SANTA FE.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dream


Quite awhile back in what now seems like a completely different lifetime, my buddy and work associate, Jim, gave me this large river rock with the word "DREAM" carved into it.  When we sold the big house we put just about everything in storage.  We thought at the time that we would have a six month interim living situation and then try out that high rise lifestyle that was on the agenda.

As the packing and moving commenced, I was compelled to grab this out of the flower bed which was next to the swimming pool and bring it with me.  It never made it into storage.  Rather, I set it in a very conspicuous location in my office.  A place where I would be reminded multiple times a day as I did my work to....well, dream.

Dreaming has never been a challenge for me.  One of my favorite classic books has long been The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz.  Its message just underscored the one that my parents instilled in me growing up.  Dream big dreams.  You can do, be, or have whatever you desire.  Go for it!

Yesterday, Father's Day here in the USA, one of my adult children wrote on the card she gave me a sentiment that, in my minds eye, took me back to that book, my own encouraging upbringing, and this rock.  She said, "You inspire me and teach me to dream BIG."  I love that!

I have found that it's not always easy to dream big dreams.  Hell, sometimes it's downright challenging to dream much of anything.  The aging process, financial pressures, extended family drama, and a health crisis or two thrown in tend to crowd out hope and the ability to dream.  It's all you can do to just get through another day.  As I departed the season of youth and the illusion of being bullet proof, I've had to make a determined, conscious effort to keep on dreaming.

From the time I was a teenager, one of my dreams was to write novels and be a bestselling author.  That's becoming more and more a possibility since I just completed the detailed outline for the first novel in my "Thin Places" fantasy series, Thin Places:  Santa Fe.

So, be encouraged!  It's not too late.  It's never too late in life to dream.  Circumstances and intervening events are often there, I'm convinced, to reconnect us with forgotten or diminished hopes and dreams.  For some of us it just takes that constant reminder staring back at us from across the room --- a rock with one simple word written on it.  DREAM
 



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Big Rocks


Some years ago, I had the good fortune of attending a 4-day leadership seminar along with about 50 other business executives at Sundance Resort in Utah.  It was hosted by Stephen Covey and his team.  One of the many topics covered was time management, something most of us in the group struggled with.  I know I was overwhelmed at times trying to balance the career, family, and personal facets of life.

Covey was big on helping us focus on what truly mattered -- those things that aligned with our personal mission and goals.  And he also helped me eliminate or just push way down on my list of priorities things that didn't matter so much.  Oftentimes, as I practiced what I was taught, I found that items that didn't matter not only got pushed to the bottom of the list, but just dropped away completely.  It was not just about rearranging the stuff of your life to get even more stuff done.  Sometimes, I was attempting too much and had to eliminate a few not so big rocks.  The end result was that over time and with effort, I found myself focusing on the essential and most important areas that impacted my overall vision and goals.

In the seminar at Sundance, Dr. Covey demonstrated his now famous "Big Rocks" talk that he later put into his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  I will never forget the visual and the lesson.  That picture has proven to be worth a thousand words.  If you are not familiar with the story you can read it when you click on the link here in Big Rocks.

So, now that I'm pursuing a longtime dream of writing novels, Covey's lesson popped back to the surface.  Just the other day, my writing coach (affiliate link) mentioned the lesson and applied it to writing.  As a writer, my BIG ROCK is guess what?  WRITING THE BOOK!  All the other items relative to getting published and marketing and the like don't much matter until the book is written.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Setting the Scene for My First Book



There was something about Santa Fe, New Mexico that completely captivated me from my very first visit.  Art.  Food.  Pace.  Architecture.  Climate.  All of that and more combine to rejuvenate my spirit and revive my body every time I set foot in the city.

That's why I have chosen Santa Fe as the setting for the first in a series of books in the fiction-fantasy-series genre.  I've been working on this book for nearly 3 decades.  Truth be told, I've only recently started the actual writing.  But I've dreamed about writing novels since I was 17.  And now I'm doing it!

This first tale should be completed and published on Kindle in the next few months.  If you want to be in the loop, please follow me on twitter and join my Ben Coleman Books Facebook page (links on the right).