Lake of the Falls Cover

Lake1v5Work is progressing on Lake of the Falls, and today I received the cover design. Let me know what you think of it, but be warned, I really like it (and I’ve already paid for it).

In case you’re wondering what the book is about, here’s an early description:

Kevin Hargrove is a workaholic attorney who has been in a rut so long that he has given up on ever getting out. That is, until he takes a trip with his father to their small former hometown in Northern Wisconsin. Kevin hates the idea of going back, but when he unexpectedly runs into an old high school flame, he starts to think that getting out of his rut is not only a possibility, but a necessity. Can a divorced workaholic really change his life in his childhood hometown or was Thomas Wolfe correct when he wrote “you can’t go home again?”

The book is scheduled to launch in eleven days, and final edits are taking place right now. Time to get back to work.


Where Did That Story Come From?

What IfIn Tierra del Fuego, Matt, the main character, leaves his home in Chicago following his wife’s death, and starts driving south through Central and South America. He ends up in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in Argentina, which is where the road literally ends.

People often ask, “Where did that story come from?” That’s a question that writers are often asked, and I’m not sure that any writer has come up with a really good answer.

I was thinking about this question in a general sense recently while I was on a hike. As I made my why down the trail, I kept asking myself “what if” questions. For example, when I got to the trail, there was another vehicle parked in the parking lot. “What if the person who owns the vehicle is dumping a body on the trail?” I thought.  “And what if I’m somehow implicated in the murder of that person?”

The trail I was hiking was in Tennessee, not too far from a Civil War battlefield. “What if a Confederate soldier was somehow transported to 2015, and appeared in the woods where I was hiking? How would he react? How would I react?”

As I was finishing my hike, I noticed a wooden shed off to the side of the trail that I had never noticed before. The boards were weathered and gray. “What if somehow I was transported back in time? What if when I got back to my truck, it, along with the roads and the parking lot, were gone? What would I do?”

As for Tierra del Fuego, I’m not sure what the first “what if” moment was that eventually led to the story. I do know that I had the first inkling of the story several years ago (probably around 2010), and it took me until 2014 to write the first draft of the book. The story changed over time as I continued to ask “what if,” questions, and continued until I was satisfied with the finished product.

Story ideas are everywhere. There’s never a shortage. Coming up with the idea isn’t the tricky part. The hardest part of being a writer is sitting down to turn the initial idea into a story, and then returning to the chair day after day until the story is finished. Coming up with the initial idea is a piece of cake.

A time travel murder mystery that takes place on a hiking trail in the woods of Tennessee? Hmm…


What’s the Plan, Stan?

Coming SoonA while back, I was talking to a friend about the book she was reading. She told me what she thought of the book (she liked it), and started telling me about what the author had planned for the future. I knew that my friend was not personally acquainted with the author, so I asked her how she knew about his futures plans.

“I read his blog and follow him on Facebook,” she said. “I think I like reading about his plans as much as I like reading his books.”

That gave me an idea. What if I lay out my plans for the next several months, then everyone will know what I have in the works. As soon as the idea popped into my head, I wanted to backtrack. If people knew what I have planned, they’d expect me to stick to the plan. That’s pressure that I don’t need. Or maybe I do. Maybe having people hold me to my plan is what I need to stay on track.

With that in mind, and with the cowardly weasel words, this plan is tentative and subject to change, let’s take a look at what I have in the works for the next several months:

September 2015 – Publish Tierra del Fuego

This was the first item on my agenda. I got it done! Tierra del Fuego was published a few weeks ago, and is doing well. If you’ve read it, please take a moment to leave a review on Amazon. The more reviews, the merrier. (Thank you to everyone who has left a review!)

November 2015 – Publish Lake of the Falls

Lake of the Falls is another novella that will be in digital format only. It is about a workaholic attorney who is given the opportunity to dig out of the rut he has been in for years, to live the life he once desired, if only he has the courage. The book recently went through final edits, and then I decided to tear it apart again. I wanted to revise it one more time before it’s published. The additional revision wasn’t planned, but I think it is going to make for a better story. I’m still shooting for a November release date.

January 2016 – Publish Back on the Road

Back on the Road takes place in the 1980’s, and follows three friends on a cross-country road trip designed to celebrate their recent college graduation, and forestall their impending life as adults. They have big plans, but things don’t always go as expected. Back on the Road will be released exclusively in digital format.

February 2016 – A Good Life (tentative title)

I don’t want to say too much about A Good Life. It is a special project, and I still have a lot of work to do on it. What I can say is that it takes place over several decades, beginning in the 1920’s, and it includes a lot of historically accurate details (at least I hope they’re accurate). I’ll be talking more about A Good Life as we get closer to the publication date.

February 2016 – Publish Road Stories

I know I’ve listed two books to be published in one month, but there’s a method to my madness. Road Stories is a collection of the first three novellas I will have published: Tierra del Fuego, Lake of the Falls, and Back on the Road. Why would I publish them again? That’s a fair question. It’s because I want to release the novellas in print (as opposed to digital), but each novella is too short to be printed by itself. So as soon as all three novellas are available digitally, I want to publish them as a collection in print. Make sense?

April 2016 – Promised Land

Promised Land is a very special book to me, and found its inspiration in a true story. I’ll talk more about the origin of this book as we get closer to the publication date, but I think you’re going to like it. Promised Land will (I think) be the last novella I release. At least, the last for a while. Once it is published, I’ll be turning my attention to my first full-length novel.

That’s what I have planned for the next several months. As I see my plan in black and white, I understand how ambitious it is. Even so, I have faith that I can get it done. It gives me something to work toward, and I hope something for you to look forward to.

Thanks for following along. The journey is just beginning, but already it’s a ton of fun.


The Reviews Are In!

Tierra del Fuego CoverWow! Have you read the reviews for Tierra del Fuego? I have, and they’re really good. Here are a few examples:

“A very good read! Mr. Mindar’s writing allows the reader to quickly capture the visions of a faraway place, making them feel like they are sitting close by in the same car, bar or restaurant. His characters are relatable, reminding one of sitting down with an old friend and having a couple of imported beers.”

Tierra del Fuego is a sparsely and beautifully written novella about what it takes to overcome loss and how travel and new experiences can bring one back to life. Mindar captures, in this short book, the essence of what it means to be human and to discover that no one person’s grief is greater than another’s. “

“Mr. Mindar offers a memorable, well-structured romp through Argentina…[His] prose is freighted with just enough detail to make his scenes feel tangible. His sentences never feel forced or over-written…It’s also worth noting that in a market that’s saturated with bloated, leviathan-like novels, Mr. Mindar offers the reader a no-nonsense narrative that can be enjoyed in the span of a single afternoon.”

“I curled up with my cup of Yorkshire Gold tea from Taylors of Harrogate, only to find out it makes an appearance in the novella (small world). The story was exciting with descriptive details, that seem to have come from someone who has actually made the journey!”

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to leave a review. There’s plenty of room for more. If you’ve read Tierra del Fuego, please consider leaving a review. It will be greatly appreciated.


Win a Copy of Vanessa Blakeslee’s New Book, “Juventud”

Vanessa BlakesleeWant to win a free copy of my friend Vanessa Blakeslee’s new novel Juventud? All you have to do is go here and share Vanessa’s book trailer on Twitter. Seems easy, doesn’t it.

In the meantime, check out Vanessa’s book trailer below, and pre-order her novel here.

By the way, my friend Shawn McKee edited Vanessa’s book trailer. He’s a knucklehead, if ever there was one, but he did a great job on this video. Don’t tell him I said that. It’s important to keep him down and unsure of himself.


Happiness, Grief, Joy, Despair

In my novella, Tierra del Fuego, the main character, Matt Cravens, is having trouble dealing with the twin emotions of grief and betrayal, after his wife, Lisa, who he suspects of having an affair, dies in an auto accident. When he feels grief, he is reminded that Lisa was cheating on him, which brings out the betrayal he feels. But when he feels the pain of Lisa’s infidelity, he experiences guilt because he is focusing on something other than the love he feels for his wife, and the grief he is struggling with over her death. His emotions are a jumbled mess that eventually lead him to run away to one of the most remote places on earth.

Johan SchwartzThis past weekend, I felt dual, contradictory emotions like Matt, albeit on a slightly smaller scale. My friend, Johan Schwartz, ran his final race of the year in the Pirelli World Challenge Championship. When the three weekend races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California were complete, Johan had won the championship. This is no small feat. World Challenge is one of the top sports car racing series in North America, and it is incredibly competitive.

Johan is originally from Denmark, but he moved to the United States, away from his home and his family, to pursue his passion for auto racing. He has dedicated himself to building a career in motorsports, and all of his sacrifice and hard work is paying off in a big way.

I couldn’t be happier for him. After he clinched the championship, I sent Johan a note congratulating him, and told him how proud I was of his accomplishment.

A few hours after communicating with Johan, I heard the terrible news that Scott Dinsmore had been killed in an accident while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I didn’t know Scott well. He was a friend of a friend. I had been introduced to him a few years ago, and immediately liked his approach to life.

At a young age, Scott decided that he wanted to help others discover their passion, and do work that really mattered to them. He started a company called Live Your Legend, and proceeded to help thousands of people.

When I first met Scott and he learned that I had a passion for writing that I wasn’t pursuing, he encouraged me to do whatever I had to do to find the time and space to write. He didn’t have to be encouraging. Heck, he had just met me. He could have easily muttered a few pleasantries, and been on his way. But he didn’t do that. Instead, he took the time to listen, and he genuinely cared that I do what my heart was telling me I should do.

Scott and Chelsea DinsmoreSeveral months ago, Scott and his wife Chelsea sold their home and most of their possessions, and went on an around the world tour that was supposed to last a year. They globe-trotted for eight months until they landed in Tanzania, where they were going to climb Mount Kilimanjoaro, one of the items on Scott’s bucket list. Sadly, rather than claiming that bucket list item, the mountain claimed him.

For a brief period over this past weekend, I was feeling on top of the world. I had just published my first book, and my friend Johan had won a racing championship. Life was great, then suddenly it wasn’t. My happiness, joy, and sense of accomplishment were mixed with the grief and despair I felt over Scott’s untimely death. Since then, my emotions have been tangled and disordered. One minute I’m happy thinking about my book or Johan’s success. The next I’m grieving the loss of Scott and his boundless joy and energy.

Scott packed a lifetime of passion and adventure into an all-too-short thirty-two years. If he taught us anything, it’s that we should take action now to do whatever it is that is most important to us in your lives. I’d like to think that the successes Johan and I experienced over the past week are the result of us taking such action. Despite the fact that Scott lost his life on the mountain, he too was following his passion and doing what he loved. And although I grieve his loss, I don’t think he would have wanted it any other way.

As a way of paying tribute to Scott’s life, here is the Ted talk he gave in October 2012. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Thank You! Thank You Very Much!

Elvis Thank YouThanks to you, I just had an exciting three days. This past Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, my book, Tierra del Fuego, was being offered on Amazon for free. During those three days, you all downloaded the book so many times, that it climbed to #5 among all Kindle literary short stories, and #9 among all Kindle contemporary fiction-literary books. I couldn’t have been more pleased or surprised, and I couldn’t be more grateful for your support.

When I published Tierra del Fuego, I had very few expectations. Naturally, I hoped people would enjoy the book, but I didn’t expect it to reach the upper levels of any categories on Amazon. The fact that it did proves two things to me: First, it proves I have a lot of very good friends who are willing to support my efforts, and second, it proves you just never know what might happen.

Now that the book is back to its normal paid status, it’s no longer in the upper ranks of books on Amazon, but that’s okay. It had a great three day run, and now I need to work to expose it to a wider audience. If you are so inclined, please share the book with your friends and family. If you enjoyed the book, there’s a good chance others will enjoy it as well.

Also, if you read the book, please post a review on Amazon. Even a short review can be very helpful. The more reviews the better.

Thanks again for your support. It is greatly appreciated.


It’s Alive (and it’s Free)!

Tierra del Fuego CoverThe official launch date for Tierra del Fuego is next Tuesday, September 15, but I wanted to give you a heads up that the book is live right now. And for the next three days (beginning tomorrow), you can get the book for free.  Of course, you’re probably asking, “What’s the catch?”  There’s really no catch, but there are a couple of reasons I’m doing this.

First, you’re really cool, and you deserve a gift. That’s right. You’re being rewarded for being so cool. Congratulations! You’ve earned a free gift.

Second, the book needs reviews. If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate it if you’d submit an honest review of the book to Amazon. It would be greatly appreciated, and reviewing the book is exactly the sort of thing that a really cool person would do.

Pick up the book for free, enjoy reading it, and if you are of a mind to, please leave a review. Taking these three easy steps will make the world a better place for our children and our grandchildren. And when all is said and done, isn’t it really all about the kids?

P.S. – Don’t forget that Tierra del Fuego will only be free Saturday (9/12), Sunday (9/13), and Monday (9/14). After that, the price shoots way back up to $1.99. You can find the book here.