Friday, November 12, 2010

"Book Signing in New Ulm"

On November 6th, me, my wife Cindy and our girls Emily and Anna traveled to beautiful New Ulm Minnesota to sign books at the Woman's Expo and Craft Sale. Well...I was the only one in the family actually signing books, but we all did go, and had a blast!!

I was invited by the wonderful Nancy Kokesch, owner of The Country Loft in New Ulm, to participate in this signing event. She had four regional authors present there and we were all treated royally! The expo was held at Jefferson Elementary School. The halls, gymnasium and cafeteria were packed with vendors and crafters from all over south central Minnesota. My wife and daughters had a good time sampling goodies and looking over all that was to be seen.   

Nancy ordered a large number of my books, which I wish I could have sold more of at the expo, but she had me sign each and every one of the unsold books for sale in her store. I asked, "Are you sure you want me to do this?" to which she replied..."Oh I'll sell them! Don't worry about that!"  She is one spunky lady!!

Our nephew Jeff and his lovely wife Mel stopped by. She's a native of New Ulm and were in town for her baby shower. They brought Mel's mom along who bought both my books for me to sign, we also had a nice chat about inspiration and other artistic things.  We asked them where a good place to eat in New Ulm was, they suggested...

                               Veigel's Kaiserhoff!!!!!

It was great! An ice cold Schell's beer and jager schnitzel made my day! My wife had the sour kraut & bratwurst with German potato salad dinner, she's a sucker for good sour kraut. The had a cheeseburger and the other had the pulled pork sandwich special, their German roots don't impress them much! But they were impressed with New Ulm, a very historic and charming city. I hope to be invited back next year, or better yet, maybe I can set up a book signing for my newest book this summer at the Country Loft! This time we can make it a weekend!! Schell's Brewery here I come!!!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

"A Haunting We Will Go!"

There is something magical about an eerie autumns night...

The air is crisp and cold, ghostly cold! The moon shines it's silvery light on the world below, casting strange shadows across the October landscape. You pause to listen, hearing only the sound of the autumn leaves as the tumble to the ground. Out of the corner of your eye something moves, your heart quickens..."What was that?!!"

 Such is the magic of Halloween, that mystical time of year when the ghouls and goblins of your imagination can run free. It's a holiday rooted in ancient pagan rituals, transformed into a celebration of childhood and imagination, a time for everyone to be childlike again.

For me, I've always had strong memories of Halloween from my childhood. The vibrant and slightly sinister decorations that would adorn our home at that time always sparked my imagination. One was a large, jointed, cardboard skeleton that would grace our living room wall, we also had a cardboard witch with the most sinister smile! We had various cut outs of Jack-o-lanterns that we would tape up on the windows, the graphics were so sharp and detailed, stark images in black and orange. I remember the joy of creating Halloween decorations in school, bright orange pumpkin headed creatures with crinkly black arms and legs...oh the joys of construction paper, safety scissors and paste!!
The carving of the jack-o-lantern is a yearly ritual that cannot be neglected!! I dare say I haven't missed a carving for as long as I can remember. Even as a young eligible bachelor, carving a pumpkin for my own enjoyment was a secret indulgence of mine. You can't celebrate Halloween without a jack-o-lantern!!! The smell of the freshly cut pumpkin, the feel of it's inner's the stuff of memory! You would then simply light the candle, turn off all the lights, and bask in it's hallowed, orange glow. 

There are so many fond memories of this ghostly season, memories of watching your children go trick or treating for the first time, of seeing through them what having a real excitement for life is all about. 

I created the characters pictured above as decorations for the outside of our home, some of them are over twelve years old, but they are still going strong today. My wife told me I should write a story about them way back then, and so I did, it was called "The Scarecrows Halloween".   The story centers around a forgotten scarecrow who, now get this...comes to life on Halloween night!! Okay, not real original, but it's a time honored story line in children's literature and by God I was a gonna use it! The main focus of the story though was that the scarecrow and all the decorations of Halloween who came to life on that magical night, realized that they needed to live for that moment, because by morning the magic would be over and they would go back to being lifeless again. "The time is quickly fleeting! The time to live is now!"   That was their battle cry, their mantra so to speak, so they partied like nobodies business until dawn. That's when the Halloween spirits left them and they returned to their lifeless forms, but for that one shining moment, they were truly alive.

I guess that was the message I tried to convey in this story, that the time to live is now. And that's the beauty of this Halloween season, to run with your imagination and experience the wonderment of life as a child again...

"For the time is quickly fleeting!!! The time to live is now!!!"

Happy Halloween everybody...and don't try to steal my idea, I've already copyrighted it!!!! hee hee hee!!!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

"The Tree Out Front"

The maple out in front of our house has sat there, rooted firmly in the soil, for over twenty years I'm sure. We've lived here for almost seventeen, and the tree was barely a step above a twig when we moved in.

As time went by, the tree grew and thrived, it kept a most agreeable form and proportional was in fact a truly magnificent sight!! The trunk is straight and smooth, the branches reach skyward with an almost flawless poetic grace, it's foliage is thick and robust. It is a tree for the ages!!

But when the waning light and cooling temperatures of September begin to work their magic, it becomes a thing of legend! By the first week of October, our maple had reached the perfection of autumn gold. Granted some maples scream with the most stunning of scarlet, a maybe far more adventurous, or dare I say sexier shade of leaf. But I have only the deepest of respect for our dear maple, resplendent in it's shawl of pure autumnal gold.

Framed against the autumn sky, the clearest and purest blue you will ever find in nature, it almost vibrates....nay radiates a beauty that cannot be captured by mere words or by paint upon the canvas!! It must be witnessed in person. You need to stand beneath it's cathedral like canopy of gold and breath in it's rich and intoxicating aura, for there is nothing as sweet, or as life affirming, as the smell of autumn leaves.

So as I sit at the dinning room table, the vision of this most sacred tree framed neatly by the window at the front of our house, I ponder it's beauty. I think about how much value it's added to my daily life these past few weeks, how it has inspired me to write and create, how it has lifted my spirit to soar with the eagles!!! And then I ponder yet another thought..."When are those kids ever gonna rake that mess up!!"

Happy autumn everybody!!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My secret identity as a...."Regional Author"

Last Winter I received an e-mail from the Northern Lights Library Network to invite me as a "regional author" to their "Spotlight On Books" conference at Sugar Lakes Lodge near Grand Rapids, MN.

As a "regional author", I would have my conference registration and my meals paid for, they would order a number of my books that they would sell for me to sign, and I would get to network with a number of media specialists from northern Minnesota....all at the beautiful Ruttgers Sugar Lake Lodge! I thought they had me mistaken for somebody else, I went anyway, and had the time of my life!

So that was my introduction to the wonderful world of library conferences and my role, or should I say my secret identity, as a "regional author". "So I get to go to neat places, visit with neat people, get free food and sign my books....sweet!!!" I could get used to doing that!

Imagine my joy when I received an e-mail invitation from the Minnesota Educational Media Organization inviting me, "regional author Greg Budig", to attend their 2010 conference at the St. Cloud Civic Center on October 1st. I wondered if I could start doing this for a living? Sure beats the hell out of working in a warehouse!!

I arrived early Friday morning and picked up my name tag and conference packet, found the author signing table and then went to breakfast. My cousin Nancy, who is the media specialist at Becker High School in Becker, MN, was able to show me around and help me get situated. Always nice to know people in high places!! I was glad to see some of the other "regional authors" who appeared with me at the Spotlight On Books conference in attendance at this conference, at least I wouldn't be totally on my own. Later on that day we would participate in the Author Spotlight sessions where we would have a few minutes to talk about ourselves, our books and how we get started in creating children's books...something I need to work on, I think I tend to ramble.

All in all it was a wonderful time! I think I may have gotten a few school visits lined up, I signed quite a few books and got to talk shop with some of my fellow author and illustrators.

My next appearance as "regional author" will be on November 6th at the Women's Expo in New Ulm, MN. I will supply more information on this event when I receive it.

So if anybody out there needs a bonafide "regional author"'ve got your man!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Summer Turns To Fall"

It's a slow process, but it always seems to creep up on us and catch us unaware...what once was summer has quickly turned to fall.

We notice the shortness of the days, the cooling of the evening air and how the light becomes clearer...the colors of nature deeper, more vibrant.

And then without fanfare the leaves begin to turn, slowly at first, but soon the golds and reds of autumn begin to glow against the remaining greens of summer.

My first book "I Hear The Wind" takes place in autumn, but it has nothing to do with the changing of the colors or the beauty of the clear autumn sky, it centers on the mysterious sounds and sights of a turbulent windy night.

I remember having such a fascination
as a child with listening to the creaking and howling of the wind on nights like the one described in this book. Watching the trees as they twisted and turned, they seemed to come alive, the air is charged with the energy of the unrelenting wind.

Soon the air is filled with a thousand swirling leaves!! Tumbling and cartwheeling through the night air, past the streetlights and down the empty midnight streets!

I think it was the uncontrollable power of the wind that fascinated me the most. The untamed, raw power of nature, growing stronger...almost out of control!!! Rising and falling like and ocean wave, whispering to me low and lonely. Such is the power of an autumn wind!

Writing and illustrating "I Hear The Wind" was a labor of love, I had no idea whether or not anyone would ever want to publish such an unconventional children's book, but I felt like it was something I had to do. I was driven to see it get finished.

So now the season is upon us! Time to breath in the crisp autumn air, to see the beautiful fall colors and to sit around the bonfire on a still autumn night. But maybe you will awaken from your slumber to the sound of the howling wind as it rattles the windows and whistles past the chimney, just remember to close your eyes and the wind rushes on through the night!

Friday, September 10, 2010

"These Are My Stories"

This is my first book, my baby, my literary pride and joy. It's called "I Hear The Wind".

Released in December of 2006, it was almost the book that didn't happen. Originally scheduled to be released in June of 2005, this book ran into production problems in China and a series of unfortunate events here in the U.S., the worst of which was the death of my editor and the driving force behind this book, Craig Thorn.

Craig was editor-in-chief at Stemmer House Publishers when I sent them a query letter about "I Hear The Wind" back in March of 2004. I really didn't know much about Stemmer House, other than the fact that they accepted unsolicited manuscripts, most other publishing houses will only look at work submitted from an agent. So I sent forth my expertly crafted query letter along with some illustration samples from the book...thank God I sent the samples, for that is what caught the eye of Mr. Thorn.

Through e-mails and phone conversations, Craig guided me through the editing process, making this story better without changing the hypnotic feel of the text. He even suggested this illustration by asking if I could do a bird eye view of the house, I said "sure", and this is what I came up with. Probably one of the most memorable illustrations from "I Hear The Wind".

Final work on this book ended in early autumn of 2004, everything was now in the hands of Stemmer House and a June 2005 release date was announced, my anticipation grew as the magical release date came near!!! And then nothing happened... the book was stuck in printing limbo in Hong Kong, not a good place to be. After six months of inactivity, the publisher was forced to fire this printer and start the search again, eventually settling on a printer in Canada.

It was during this time that Craig's cancer grew worse, he never mentioned anything to me until a month or so before his death, it was only then that he mentioned he was having health issues.
His wife Andrea sent me an e-mail telling me of his passing in June of 2006.

"I Hear The Wind" was released in December of 2006 in paperback without much fanfare, I was able to receive some nice reviews from Armchair Interviews and Through The Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews for the book, but I felt I needed to work on something new.

"Still (A Winter's Journey)" was released in hardcover in September of 2009 by Stemmer House Publishers... they must like me! The story leading up to the release of this book is pretty uneventful, which I've realized is a good thing when it comes to book publishing.

My editor for this book was Dave Eisenstadter. It was only after I became friends with Dave on Facebook that I realized something... I have suits in my closet older than him!! He did a wonderful job helping me getting this story in order. I must admit that "Still" wasn't as thought out as "I Hear The Wind" was, I spent a lot of time making changes to the story, trying to make it flow from beginning to end during the editing process.

I really liked "Still" as a book, I felt I was able to capture the dreamlike quality of walking on a perfect snowy day, but deep down I felt "I Hear The Wind" was a better book. I was amazed at the attention "Still" received when I first started promoting it!

It was featured on Beth Solheim's blog Reading Minnesota in January of 2010. I received some great reviews from Sheila DeChantal's blog Book Journey, Audrey Helbling's Minnesota Prairie Roots blog and of course another fine review from Through The Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews. I had some nice book signings, school visits and was even invited to a library conference in Grand Rapids, MN as a regional author! I'm sure this is all small potatoes to some big time author/ illustrator type who travels the world in search of fame and fortune, but I am still truly honored anytime someone acknowledges my work...and I hope I never lose that feeling.

So that of course leads us to this, my newest endeavor in the world of children's literature..."At The End Of The Day".

It's to be released in the spring of 2011 by, who else, my good friends at Stemmer House Publishers. I feel like everything I've learned from my other two books has come together in this one, I'm actually quite excited about the possibilities this book has to offer.

At the time of this posting, I will be working with editor Rebecca Dalzell on this book. She hasn't sent me any revisions yet, so I hope she likes my lyrical style of writing, I'm anxious to hear her opinion of this story. I have a number of finished illustrations, some I may want to re-do, but I think I'm making good progress.

My publisher is also interested in me doing a Spring themed book, that way I have all four seasons covered, but for now I have my work cut out just trying to get this one finished.

So thanks to Stemmer House, I seem to be a working author & illustrator for the next couple years. Maybe a reissue of "I Hear The Wind" in hardcover could be in the never know!!

take care

Monday, September 6, 2010

Starting Over...Again

I started my first blog a few years ago as an experiment.

I was interested in seeing what I could do with the blog format to promote my books, and I wanted to use it to blow off some literary steam from time to time.

And so I began writing the epic blog "Greg Budig (Thoughts, Ideas, Ramblings and Stuff)". I must admit that it was a lot of fun at times. I was able to do some book promotion, some creative writing things and generally have a forum for my opinions. I had so much fun that I decided to start a blog for my second book "Still (A Winter's Journey)".

With that blog I was able to journal about the day to day experiences with that book, from release to reviews to book signings. I felt it was a great way to get the word out.

But now I'm at a crossroads, I felt I needed to simplify my presence on the internet. Between a website that I haven't updated in years, two blogs that have started to compete for my attention, a Jacketflap page I do nothing with....I was getting overwhelmed just thinking about it!

So I've decided to start over with a clean slate, and here it is! I hope to manage this one blog and tie it in with my "Greg Budig Author & Illustrator" Facebook page. Next I need to inform my handful of followers about the change and hope they decide to follow this one. Then I will, in time, delete the other two blogs off the face of the Internet.

So here it is, a new start...a new beginning!!!!! Hope to hear from you soon!

take care

Greg Budig