Color Keys

One thing I really like to do is to take photos when i' m traveling when I dont have time to sketch. These are a few scenes I documented in Jordan and Hawaii. Although drawing from photos can be no good as they frequently result in boring and stiff compositions, using them for reference is a handy tool. Id like to develop these a bit further sometime soon, stay tuned!

bear with me

New Mugs--fresh from the kiln.

I just came in from unloading the kiln. Many of you have asked from time to time to be notified when I have fresh pots. Well, today is the day! I just unloaded nearly 100 mugs in a huge range of colors. My shelves are full of these beauties. I also did a bunch this time with forget-me-nots on them. I will be around most of next week if you would like to stop by. Call first just to make sure. 801-883-0146. I also unloaded about 25 journey jars. I still need to finish lashing on the handles, and with the need to do another glaze firing, I may not have those done until Thursday.

My son had a Pinewood Derby this morning with the cub scouts. My daughter made a car too. She came in third. He came in twelfth. Any good ideas about teaching boys to be better losers would be greatly appreciated. This has not been my proudest fathering moment. I have a really hard time putting up with poor sportsmanship.

Writing did not go very well this week. I think I am in a bit of a funk, but I am trying to kick it. Looking over my journals from previous years, I realize I don't do February in Utah very well. It makes my wanderlust flair up something fierce. I've got to kick my butt back into gear.

Anyway, happy Saturday. Cheers,

son of the moon

I haven't got much to say about this guy, but he's the son of the moon and his main hobby is to make those cool clouds that look like animals and stuff.

Warm Bodies US cover

Friends, after many months of back and forth struggle between me, my agent, my editor, her assistant, her art director, her designer, her sales team, her sales team's pet chinchillas, and her sales team's pet chinchillas' assistants, we have found a cover we can all smile about.

Granted, it's not what I would have designed myself, but that's probably for the best since I am a shitty designer. It's also not what I would have chosen if I had my pick of any possible art style, but that's also probably for the best since I am a pretentious fuck who doesn't know a sell-able book from a hole in the ground full of unsold books.

What this IS is a fairly kick-ass cover that has wide appeal but also dignity, that will jump out at the reader without raised lettering or holograms or Smell-O-Vision. (You don't want to read a zombie novel in Smell-O-Vision.)

Also, we have yet another official release date, and hopefully this one will be final:

APRIL 26, 2011

In other related news, I got my first mainstream American review from Kirkus Reviews, and it's excellent! Contains lines such as "This is no Team Edward sob story" and "So begins the weirdest courting in the history of literature." We're off to a great start!

Also, here's the latest tally of countries/languages Warm Bodies is being published in:

'Murrica (United States)
UK (England, Scotland, Ireland, also includes Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and most other countries filled with English speaking whiteys.)
Czech Republic
South Korea

That's approximately 25 countries, 19 languages! Can you even wait to see all the wacky foreign covers?? Best believe I'll be posting them!



Almost 1!

March 4, 2010.

Truly, it feels like a blink of an eye since that day. And yet, Eliana has grown and changed so much! Has it really almost been a YEAR? It feels like yesterday that I caught my breath and held it until I first heard her little cry right after she was born. It feels like yesterday that they held her up over the blue curtain and I saw that thick head of hair and beautiful chubby little face.

Eliana is walking, trying all sorts of new foods, talking up a storm, and is still as sweet and silly as ever. She loves making all the different animal sounds when you ask her what each one says, gives a high five, and thinks that pointing to a person's nose is hilarious. She is truly amazing. It is really hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that in a couple of weeks, we will be celebrating her first birthday. Elmo style. Because, she, like many other kids her age, seems to have become obsessed with this red furry friend.

The funny thing about time is that it always seems to feel too fast or too slow... meetings that seem to drag on, yet only lasted forty minutes; a year in a child's life that feels like it flew by in a matter of days.

One of my favorite psalms says:

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. ~ Psalm 90:12

Yet that can be so hard, can't it? Hectic schedules and too many demands can easily throw our priorities so out of whack... and that's when time flies, or it drags. To number our days, we need to be fully present, living fully in each moment, thanking God for both the little and the big things and knowing that each day is truly a gift.

Showreel 2010

Book Signing/Art Opening this Weekend

I just wanted to let folks know that I will be having a book signing and showing some of my recent pottery work at Evergreen Gallery this Friday, Feb 18th from 6-9 pm. Evergreen Gallery is on 2000 East and almost 3300 South in Salt Lake. It is a beautiful gallery. This friday is Gallery Stroll, so start there and make it a fun, cheap date.

While I'm blogging, I will just say that I am making good progress on my next book. I am now about 60 pages in and it is feeling good. Yesterday, as I was working in the studio, I had a new idea come to me and had to stop to outline another book that I am really excited about. I thought I was done with Niederbipp for a while, but I am really excited that this one will take me back there. I think it will be called The Matchmaker of Niederbipp. It will likely be directed to young would-be lovers, but will have lots of good stuff for those of us already married and wanting to stay that way. This is going to be fun. I am really enjoying writing and hoping to spend more time with it. Boy, I really need to find an agent. Any suggestions from my friends in cyberspace? Cheers. Ben

Please Vote for Us!

Last fall I entered us into a contest to win a photography session with the awesome photographer, Crissie Traugott, who did my maternity pictures and newborn pictures with Eliana. She is awesome!

The bad news: we didn't win.

The good news: she's holding another contest and we are entered!!!

Could you please vote and help us win?

To help, please visit Crissie's Facebook site and "like" her page.!/pages/Crissie-Traugott-Photography/92815980769

Then, please lave a comment on our photo! Simply "liking" the photo won't count.!/photo.php?fbid=501441025769&set=a.501440670769.273831.92815980769&theater

For every 5 comments, we get 1 entry into the drawing.

Thanks for helping us!

A Familiar Route

We began our annual journey to sunny, we hope, Florida on Saturday morning. It is hard to believe that this is our fifth year. The last three years we have traveled the I95 route down the east coast that is so congested with travelers. This year we decided to use the I88 to I81 to I77 to I95 route. It has brought back many memories for us. The last time we attempted to go this way was 2007 when we got caught up in the Valentine's Weekend Blizzard and spent many unplanned days on the road. Prior to that eventful trip we had driven this route often to visit my parents in North Carolina and our children attending college in the Carolinas. We estimate about 40 trips in all down I81. Of course, we noticed quite a few changes along the highway especially new commercial development.
Except for a few snow flurries the first morning, the roads have been dry. It is a relief to have less traffic and no tolls. I have also enjoyed the scenery especially the Shenandoah Valley. The first morning we ate breakfast at the Penn/Cann truck stop which was a traditional stop for us. The food was not as good as we remembered so will not stop there again. Saturday evening we stayed in Winchester, VA and ate at a Ruby Tuesdays. We had a gift certificate from Christmas (thank you, Suzi and family). Mary and I had the Valentine's special for two which included an appetizer, two entrées, and a decadent desert. It was all delicious and fun. On Sunday we drove to Charlotte, NC and were greeted by 60 degrees. Today we will visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame before continuing our journey south.

How to Make Love

In honor of Valentine's Day, I wanted to direct you to an incredible post written by the eloquent Ann Voskamp. So, hop on over to her blog and check out this post. You'll be glad you did :)

domestic etch

What exactly is domestic etch?

Well domestic etch is a very special time in a boys life when... anyway it's a very cool magazine with some very cool people trapped inside it.

At the moment there is an excellent prize draw being held to mark the super special valentines issue, i'd click the image below if i was you.

Illustration Friday : Sweater

Fun little sketch for the website check it out!

who dat?

Just a fun little sketch from today..trying out the new brushes

Zero Day

The bright red ball of sun that I am watching come up this morning has a hard day of work ahead of it as our digital thermometer reads 0.0. Even though the sun at this time of year lacks heat, it is the light that I crave. And so this February morning I give thanks for a cold and bright day.

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you. ~Maori Proverb

The sun is nature's Prozac. ~Astrid Alauda

Ever since we crawled out of that primordial slime, that's been our unifying cry, "More light." Sunlight. Torchlight. Candlelight. Neon, incandescent lights that banish the darkness from our caves to illuminate our roads, the insides of our refrigerators. Big floods for the night games at Soldier's Field. Little tiny flashlights for those books we read under the covers when we're supposed to be asleep. Light is more than watts and footcandles. Light is metaphor. Light is knowledge, light is life, light is light. ~Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John1:5

In Joy and Pain, in Sun and Rain, You're the Same

Sitting here listening to Pandora, and on came one of my David Crowder Favorites... Never Let Go.

I love that line, the one that says, "In joy and pain, in sun and rain, You're the same, You never let go."

It is the constancy of God's character that causes me to still hope... to know that we can trust Him, not because of His activity, but because of His constant character.

These past few months continue to be filled with such joy as we continue to watch Eliana grow up. I am in constant awe of the miracle that she is... her amazing personality, how much she is learning, the way she laughs. How she is developing preferences for certain things, like sweet over savory (just like her Mama!) and like cats over dogs... for particular books over others. She is becoming a fairly proficient walker (video to follow in an upcoming post!), knows how to point to Mommy's nose, says several words (like purple, Isaac, and cheese). She is absolutely amazing.
It's incredible to me that a person has the capacity to envelope such joy, while the missing can simultaneously still linger. I often wonder what Eliana and Isaac would do if they had been given the chance to play together. I wonder if he would be as enamored by his little sister as we are.
I am just really grateful for the fact that God just meets us in that, and that the constancy of His character allows me to be able to trust Him, even though I don't always understand what He may be up to.

"...for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness..." ~ Psalm 26:3

A Valentine's Day Greeting

This is a little Valentine's Poem that I came across.


Kudzu is green,
my dog's name is Blue
And I'm so lucky
to have a sweet thang like you.

Yore hair is like cornsilk
a-flappin in the breeze.
Softer than Blue's
And without all them fleas.

You move like the bass,
which excite me in May.
You ain't got no scales
but I luv you anyways.

Yore as graceful as okry
jist a-dancin' in the pan.
Yore as fragrent as SunDrop
right out of the can.

On special occasions,
when you shave yore armpits,
Well, I'm in hawg heaven!
I'm plumb outta my wits.

And speakin' of wits,
you got plenty fer shore.
'Cuz you married me
back in '74.

Still them fellers at work
they all wanna know,
What I did to deserve
such a purty, young doe.

Like a good roll of duct tape
yore there fer yore man.
To patch up life's troubles
and stick 'em in the can.

Yore as strong as a four-wheeler
racin' through the mud.
Yet fragile as that sanger
named Naomi Judd.

Yore as cute as a junebug
a-buzzin' overhead.
You ain't mean like no fat ant
upon which I oft' tread.

Cut from the best pattern
like a flannel shirt of plaid,
You sparked up my life
like my rattletrap shad.

When you hold me real tight
like a padded gunrack,
My life is complete;
ain't nuttin' I lack.

Yore complexion is perfection,
Like the best vinyl sidin'.
Despite all the years,
yore age, it keeps hidin'.

And when you get old
like a '57 Chevy,
Won't put you on blocks
and let grass grow up heavy.

Me 'n' you is like a Moon Pie
with a cold RC drank.
We go together
like a skunk goes with stank.

Some men, they buy choclit
for Valentine's Day.
They git it at Wal-mart,
its romantic that way.

Some men git roses
on that special day.
From the cooler at Winn-Dixie
"That's impressive", I say.

Some men buy fine diamonds
from a flea market booth.
"Diamonds are furever ,"
they explain, suave and couth.

But for this man, honey,
these will not do.
Fur you are too special
you sweet thang you.

I got you a gift
without taste or odor.
Better than diamonds,
its a new trollin' motor.

KELLY is dead, and other news

Thanks for all your input on "The First Time Kelly Killed Herself" guys. Even though most of your comments were positive, a few people's reservations made me decide that I am in over my head with this one. The concepts in there--suicide, depression, and the various causes of and justifications for them--are way too complex and multi-faceted to be handled justly in a ten page short story written in Fairy Tale Voice.

So, this particular piece of nastiness will not be included in FLASHLIGHTS IN THE BASEMENT, but don't worry, there will be lots of other previously unseen tales of darkness and misery, including one about roadkill, one about feral cats, one about a self-proclaimed mass murderer, one about college kids fighting monsters in the basement of a sinking house, and a prequel novella to WARM BODIES.

I'm doing my penultimate editing sweep at this very moment. Give me two months, tops, and I'll have a finished, printed, bound book to slap down in front of you.


As you may have seen, here and there I like to draw my dogs. I really should draw them more, they are such amazing wonderful animals..and super cute. Here is Roo, based on a sketch I did nearly a year ago which i came across in an old sketchbook. She may look peaceful here, but she can be quite the guard dog.

Something that I have learned recently is the importance of using different brushes than the normal ones in photoshop, the default brushes are just the tip of the ice berg my friends. I have a lot of experimenting to do with over 200 brushes I just got for photoshop. Very frequently I get hung up on trying out new stuff because I get so excited to draw that I don't want my medium to hold me back. This can be true, but new mediums can be extremely inspiring in their own way so remember to always keep an open mind. I have been working full time at ZYNGA for some time now and I am finally settling in. Hopefully I will be able to share some more personal work soon.

Progress on the Tundra

There are few things I really enjoy doing when the world is gray and frozen solid. Writing has become one of the few things that makes me happy in such circumstances, but I found another one today which may prove to distract me from my writing. I took my kids out of school today and took them skiing at Park City. They are running an amazing deal for new local skiers--$25 for rentals, a lesson and a lift pass. We decided we couldn't afford not to go. It was cold, but clear, and a lot of fun. I grew up skiing, back when it cost $5 a day for a lift ticket and $5 for rentals. That was in 1981. I was eight when I started and I never had a lesson. My mom took us to the top of the mountain and told us she would see us at the end of the day, back at the car. My younger brothers and I learned how to ski out of desperation and by watching others, trying to keep up with people who were better than us. It worked for us. I'm not sure I would have lasted in lessons, but I also recognize I wouldn't want to teach my kids. I have patience for a lot of things, but I know myself well enough to know that teaching my kids how to ski would not be one of those. It was difficult enough for me to hang out with my wife on the bunny hills all day while she worked on her form. She took her first lesson a few weeks ago. I like steep, fast runs, covered with jumps and chutes and challenging terrain. I used to love to ski moguls, but I realized a few years ago that I am far too fat and old to handle the gut wrenching I used to relish.

I just wanted to let folks know that I am making progress on the next book. I have written about 40 pages and I am happy with what I have so far. The first fifty pages of any book are probably the hardest ones to write--laying the foundation of everything that is built upon it. I remember when I build my studio, I spent about three weeks working on digging the hole, pouring the footings, the foundation, and the slab. The rest of the structure went up in about 3 days. I anticipate that the book will require much longer than three days to finish, but now that the foundation is laid, I hope it will go much quicker. It amazes me how long it takes to research stuff you don't know enough about to make it sound believable. Because I am a potter, the last books were fairly easy to make them sound believable because I had all the info stored in my noodle. Not so with this book. I have no idea how long it might take for this next book to be ready to be released and I am not going to make any promises, but I am enjoying both the process and the research on this one tremendously. I hope you will enjoy the final product.

I mentioned in October that I finally decided to send a query letter to an agent. I waited and waited, but heard nothing despite the fact that her website said she responded within six weeks. I found out three weeks ago that she had never received my letter or the books I sent with it. I promptly sent another. Today, I heard from her assistant that they are reading the books and will get back to me soon!. Okay, so I let out a little yalp. I know that might not mean anything, but I know I have to find an agent if I am to continue this journey. I know the books need to reach a wider, broader audience and I am keenly aware that my one man show is indeed a one man show. I suppose that sounds quite conceded really, considering that I have so many readers who are doing more than amazing things, spreading Niederbipp around the country. I just had a woman last week from Preston, Idaho, home of Napoleon Dynamite, who sent me an order for 43 books. I know I am not alone in this journey and I thank all of you who have helped me to get to this point. So far, we have sold about 18,300 books. That ought to count for something. But the fact is that I am tired and wanting to write more. In addition to the book I am now writing, I have five more books outlined that I think about every day, anxious to get to them, but feeling overwhelmed with everything else I have to do. I need to buy myself some time. I need to feel like I can take the day off from my pottery and just write. As it stands right now, I feel like I need to start getting ready for the art festivals and art shows which have paid for all the books. To date, I have spent more than $85K publishing the trilogy. I have broken even and am now making some money, but I will need to spend another $20K-$60K before summer to replenish my stock. I can't continue to do all of this indefinitely. I know I need a network of publishers and publicists who can help spread the word beyond the intermountain west. I feel like I've only glimpsed the tip of the iceberg. I never wrote these books with the hope of becoming rich, but I knew from the beginning that they would reach a broad audience--and so I must continue to push and hope and pray.

The books continue to sell well on Amazon, thanks in large part to the word of mouth advertising and the positive reviews the book has received. If you enjoyed the books and have yet to review it on Amazon, I invite you to let your voice be heard. Just look up the books on Amazon, then click on the number next to the stars. This will bring up the reviews. There will be a button there that says, Create your own review. If you follow the prompts, it takes only a few minutes but can really make a difference. Thank you in advance for taking the time to do so.

So, I am signing off. I am tired, but I want to write for an hour or so before fatigue overshadows me. It's probably too late to be wishing anyone a happy new year, so I will just say I hope its going well. Keep your chin up and Viva Niederbipp!

The Color of Lightning

Author Paulette Jiles has crafted a very engaging novel about West Texas history in the years following the civil war. The book,The Color of Lightning, was inspired by the real life adventures of a slave, Britt Johnson, who became a freed black man. On October 13, 1864, Britt and the other men were in town when a large band of Kiowa and Comanche warriors attacked the homestead where his family lived. One of his children were killed and his wife and two children were taken captive. Broken hearted, Britt dedicates himself to finding his family and gaining their freedom. Afterwards he buys a wagon and a team of horses and starts a very successful freight business. The author's prose is very descriptive of the country and its people. She writes with a sensitivity and appreciation of the life style of these natives of this wild land. At the same time she does not shy away from graphically depicting the violence and brutality of the times.
Another character, Samuel Hammond, is a Quaker Indian Agent who is assigned the responsibility to treat the native tribes kindly but convince them to stop raiding and taking captives. His idealism is shaken by the realities of life on the prairie and the clash between cultures and life styles.
Jiles novel gives the reader an insight into the tensions, conflicts, politics, and racism of the years immediately following the civil war. This was a fine read and a gift from my son, John. It is not for the weak of heart but the reader will not soon forget Britt Johnson and the integrity with which he lived.


February. I used to dread February. The cold, the snow, and the fact that it is followed by March. March was always a disappointment weather wise. I am always ready for spring by the time March rolls around and it always disappoints. Usually more snow. The wet, heavy kind. And gray skies.
I now anticipate February with excitement. This will be our 6th yearly winter trip to Florida. In past years we have gone for four or five weeks. This year it will be six. The best part? In Florida, spring does come in March. Birds, flowers, warm and sunny days.
I keep very busy in this season of life and continue to have many opportunities to do the work and ministry that I love. I am so busy that people will say; "You're not really retired.". Then comes February and the anticipation of weeks of exploring a new area in Florida, watching the birds, enjoying the beach, visiting the State Parks, spending time with friends, reading, and relaxing with Mary and John. Oh yeah, I am retired.
January was exciting and challenging. I spent a good part of the month preparing to preach and lead workshops at a conference for "First Call" (new) pastors. The four day conference was last week. This year I was accompanied by son, John, who shared his gift of music as part of the presentations. What a joy. We also contended with a few snow storms in January and are in the midst of another now.
So tomorrow we will dig out. What do you expect? It is February.

"Why, what's the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?"

- William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing