I have always enjoyed the idea of being in a classroom helping students. Oddly enough, I never loved the idea of being a teacher. I would definitely love to be a college instructor, or professor, or whatever the right title would be, but I have a healthy fear of large groups of kids younger than that when I would see them daily.
Maybe that’s why I am absolutely thrilled to be starting a little tour of some classrooms to talk about my book. I will be at my daughter Haven’s kindergarten class tomorrow. It will likely be the most challenging class I talk to since none of them can really even read, let alone potentially enjoy a middle grade novel. I’m still pumped though. I know we will have a blast together.
Over the next few weeks, I will be meeting with a number of classes around Montana, and hopefully beyond. The idea of talking about the creative process is a passion of mine. I want to help kids find the fun in writing and understand the importance of writing in almost any adult path they choose. Plus I just want to have fun joking around with kids!
I will post about how it all goes, but in the meantime, wish me luck!
Lefty is Xander’s other grandpa. While he’s closer to Pops, who is much more of a nurturer, he loves him some Lefty as well.
My great-grandfather was nicknamed Lefty and actually played some semi-professional baseball. While he died before I could get to know him really well, I liked the idea of having his memory in my book. The Sugarbeet Falls character Lefty is more of a loose idea of a sort of older and lazier Dr. Cox from the television show Scrubs. He’s kind of just an ol’ malcontent but really for no reason, and when push comes to shove, he has a huge heart and love for his family.
In the book there are a lot of fabulous athletes from Sugarbeet Falls. Coach Clark, Lefty, Leo, Grace, Xander, and Aaron are all former or future stars. I’m sure the residents of the small town have enjoyed watching high school sports for a long time.
I spent this Friday morning doing phone interviews with potential employees for my day job and started doodling this fellow. He is The Comfort Crusader, the outspoken superhero Xander conjures to help him endure a bus ride for a field trip to the Sugarbeet Falls Hospital. It’s not necessarily my best artistic endeavor, but it did make me feel good. I love the idea of kids and others that read Sugarbeet Falls can naturally think of heroes big and small that would be nice to have around. I mean a super pillow? That guy doesn’t get an invitation to Professor X’s mansion to be part of the X-Men, but he sure helped Xander that day.
Inspiration is a funny thing. Its hard to put a finger on what is inspirational for before you’re inspired by it. I’ve already talked about my inspiration for the book itself is my son Zack, but to take it to the level of publishing and trying to market it has been a mixture of all kinds of inspiration.
The biggest inspiration is my wife. She’s a wonderful wife and mother, but professionally, she is a cheer coach. She is nothing else. She loves cheerleading, she loves coaching, she loves helping cheerleaders get better, and she loves to compete. Twice now, she has opened cheerleading gyms in our small town against long odds, and twice she has been successful. No one could tell her “no,” if they did, she wouldn’t hear it.
I have another friend from Phoenix named Miguel. He felt the call to start an energy drink company called Fuga Energy. To break into that market is a bear, the Monster, NOS, Red Bull, and others don’t take kindly to new guys. Miguel hasn’t put Fuga in every store yet, but he is putting everything he has into it and he will either make it or die trying. Either way, he won’t regret the effort and faith he put into his dream.
I work for a couple of guys who’s story would to too unbelievable for Hollywood. They were students in welding school in 1998 and now they have a company that does more than $100 million in revenue, they own a racing team, they give back to communities in a manner that would cause most accountants to drink far too much, and they’re only just beginning.
Bits and pieces of all of these stories, and more, made me take the leap and self publish Sugarbeet Falls. It has been fun, and scary, and time consuming, and exciting, and stressful. Ultimately though, whether I have already sold my last book or it becomes a best seller, I truly hope someone does something creative or outside of their comfort zone because I took the leap to put this silly little book into print.
Wow…that was a long one!
Pops is my favorite character. Partly because my kids call my dad Pops which makes it ultra personal, but also because I fashioned him as a cross between a couple of my favorite real life characters. Do you think any other literary character is a cross between Bill Walton and Howard Stern? Throw in a little of my own father, and there you have Pops. Eating healthy and loving the earth but with a quick wit and sassy side that makes him fun and interesting.
Pops has an interesting run in Volume 1. As the story continues though, all of his personality traits become more evident and enjoyable. In the Sugarbeet Falls movie that I always daydream about, I want Howard Stern to play Pops by doing his best to act like Bill Walton. It might not work, but it would be darn fun to watch.
If you get a chance to read Sugarbeet Falls, enjoy Pops. I certainly do.
When I started the process of writing Sugarbeet Falls I kind of just wanted to see if I could actually write an entire book. When I finished, I was thrilled. My dad and my mother-in-law both read it and were impressed (if perhaps a bit biased). After that I decided to try to find an agent, then it wasn’t fun for a while. The query process was long and arduous, and literally no agent would even read the book. I would honestly have preferred negative feedback to just hearing nothing at all. Almost 10 years later I decided to bite the bullet and self-publish. While I am not yet sure of the ultimate intelligence of that decision, there are some aspects that are super-fun!
Holding my actual book in my hands and seeing it on shelves is amazing, and knowing that a few libraries have already put the Dewey decimal system numbers on it is exciting, but my favorite part so far is signing books and meeting people. I have been practicing my signature since jr. high, but that was mostly because I was planning on playing for the Lakers. When that didn’t happen I sort of gave up the practice. Now having people ask me to sign their books and talk about my creative process is giving me a joyful experience different from any others I’ve had. Other than my children, who can probably thank their mother for most of their best traits, this book is something I created and actually take some pride in.
So if you don’t think my ink would ruin an otherwise enjoyable book. I’d love to sign one for you. Here’s the link.