First Booksigning Is in the Books

Last night was my first live event to support the launch of We Hope for Better Things.

Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was a perfect venue. Not only is it the retail arm of my publishing house, it is a fantastic space with lots of room for events like these.

I didn’t count, but I would estimate that there were around 50 people who came to listen to me jaw on about the importance of knowing our history in order to improve our future.

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There was family — my mom and dad, my aunt, my husband and son, my mother-in-law and father-in-law.

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There were dear friends — girls who were on my Little League softball team and stood in my wedding, and fellow writer-friends I met through WFWA who actually made the trip from Chicago (with two more of their friends) to surprise me (and boy I was surprised!).

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There was a sweet old lady from the church I attended in my early twenties when I lived in Grand Rapids. There were members of my publishing team and people I’d worked with for well over a decade. There were fellow writers I met through my involvement with the Breathe Writers Conference and the Capital City Writers Association.

And there were lots of people I’d never met before. Several of them grew up in Detroit during the 1960s, which is where the book is partially set. One of them actually went to the same high school as my mom did in Detroit at the same time she was there. Those who had already read it said they really enjoyed seeing their childhood come alive in the book. That was really gratifying to me because it means I not only did my research but I got it onto the page in a compelling way.

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All in all, it went well and I know I’ll be less nervous for my next event coming up on January 24th at 7:00pm at Schuler Books & Music in Okemos, MI.

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Also, I want to take a moment to point you to a new page on this website. This events page is where I will be putting information about where I will be in the future, just in case you want to connect in person. You can also find it through the media page in the header of the website, along with pages that link to reviews, interviews and articles, and resources for book clubs.

Thanks for reading!!

Now Available in Paperback! The Intentional Writer

If you’ve been waiting for the paperback edition of The Intentional Writer, this is your lucky day. If you don’t even know what I’m talking about (and you’re an aspiring author) this is still your lucky day. If you’re neither of these, indulge me a moment while I explain.

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The Intentional Writer is some of my best advice for beginning writers who wish they had more time, space, and inspiration for their writing. It offers lots of tips and tricks for carving out time to write, courting the muse to keep your ideas flowing, and prioritizing writing so that you can stop making excuses and start finishing things.

Every piece of insight I have to offer comes from my own experience as a writer looking for a sustainable writing rhythm that would keep me creating regularly, but wouldn’t saddle me with a load of guilt if I didn’t meet a certain word count every day.

As I formatted the paperback edition, I’ve added new content and updated existing content to reflect further developments in my own writing journey. I plan to update the Kindle edition soon to reflect those changes.

It is my hope that the things I’ve learned can help many other aspiring authors. Click here to purchase!

I’ll also take this chance to let you know that I will be speaking again at the Breathe Christian Writers Conference this year. Last year I spoke on the topic of finding your writing rhythm. This year I’ll be giving out great revision tips and advice to bring your writing to the next level. I would love to see you there! Check out the schedule of speakers and register for the conference on October 10-11.

New Release! This Elegant Ruin…and other stories

I’m so thrilled to tell you that This Elegant Ruin…and other stories is now available at Amazon! Click here to order.

For the uninitiated, in 2013 I challenged myself to write one short story each month. The twelve stories that make up this collection are the result of that challenge. I’m so thrilled to see them in book form with the incredibly beautiful cover my friend and colleague Heather created.

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Now that the kids are back in school, do something for you! Short stories make great reading material for when you just want a little down time (or when you are waiting in the pick-up lanes after school). I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them!

Here’s the back cover copy to give you a bit of the flavor of the writing:

 

Love and hate. Dreams and nightmares. Luck and misfortune.

In twelve engaging stories, the joys and sorrows of life glow against such varied backdrops as a snowy wood, a quaint country inn, a crumbling metropolis, the shore of Lake Superior, and a lonely country highway. A man in the twilight of his career falls in love with a young woman at the dawn of hers. A girl at the end of her rope finds an unexpected friend in an eccentric stranger. A young man haunted by memories finally gets a chance to forget his troubles. An artist takes stock of his life’s work and discovers an unwelcome truth.

With prose that evokes wonder and fear, regret and relief, Erin Bartels draws meaning from the small moments of life, challenging us to be still, to notice, to dream—and to hope.

Good Christian Men Smoke

It is a warm and windy first day of November. The sky is gray and my burning bush has finally turned red, but my maple trees in the back yard are still green. Autumn has been slow this year so that I’m not sure any of us are really mentally prepared for November. Shouldn’t we be waking to cars needing to be scraped and frost on the windows? Instead, my marigolds still look incredible.

But it is the first of November, and therefore it is time for this:

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Tonight is a book launch party at Timothy’s Fine Cigars in Bay City, Michigan, for The Christian Gentleman’s Smoking Companion, a hybrid illustrated/reference/humor/cultural commentary written by my husband Zach Bartels and our friend and fellow writer Ted Kluck.

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Some of you may be thinking, “Christians smoking? Isn’t that a sin?” The short answer is, no, it is not. And I won’t go into the long answer here, but there is a chapter in the book that addresses this very question.

In fact, a large portion of this book is devoted to profiling famous and influential people of faith who smoke(d) cigars and/or pipes, such as Charles Spurgeon, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C. S. Lewis, Pope Pius X, J. R. R. Tolkien, Karl Barth, G. K. Chesterton, J. Gresham Machen, Johann Sebastian Bach, and more. The book not only includes original illustrations of all of these men, it also includes many quotes from them (and even a fairly lengthy poem from Bach!) on how one can smoke to the glory of God.

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There are interviews with a few smoking enthusiasts (including Tim Socier, owner and proprietor of Timothy’s Fine Cigars in Bay City, and Jody Davis of Newboys fame, who creates one-of-a-kind pipes as a side business), and chapters explaining cigar types and terminology, smoking lounge etiquette, what cigar brands say about the person smoking them, and more handy advice that keeps the smoker from looking like an amateur out there.

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And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg (or perhaps a more fitting metaphor would be just the ash at the end of the cigar). The bottom line is, if you smoke cigars or pipes, this book’s for you. If you think this whole enterprise sounds a little suspicious because you’ve been taught that smoking is sinful, this book’s for you. If you love satire and sarcasm, this book’s for you. If you can laugh at yourself (and others) this book’s for you. It’s just a fun, enjoyable experience (as long as you’re not too uptight).

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If you’re in the Bay City area tonight, join us at Tim’s on the corner of Center and Saginaw (across from the planetarium) from 6-8pm. There will be amazing gourmet snacks, including chipotle brownies, made by Ted’s wife and personal chef Kristin Kluck, a.k.a. The Saucy Broad. If you can’t come by but the book sounds like something you or someone you know would like (perhaps as a Christmas gift?) you can buy it here!