New Website and New Book Release

30 Dec

write life

Hi All,

I just wanted to take the time to say thank you to all of you who have followed Looking Up over the years. I’ve appreciated your tweets, and comments, and support through three books and a lot of blog posts.  One thing that’s always pulled me in two directions is trying to market my books to readers, agents, and publishers, and at the same time sharing my life with my friends and readers without marketing my books.  It’s like this. friends who are reading posts about my life don’t necessarily want to hear the latest promo for my books, and the people who are reading my books don’t necessarily want to hear about trips I’ve taken with my three kids.

It’s a puzzle that a lot of authors have to wrestle with; I’m sure.  But…I think I’ve come up with a solution.  I’m going to start a new website for my books only. I’ll still keep Looking Up as my personal blog (for all those raising kids type stories that I end up writing about :)  but I’ll be moving all my book news over to Write Life @alexmarestaingbooks  www.alexmarestaingbooks.com.  If you want to shop for books, read reviews, or hear about my latest ideas, you can check it all out there, and don’t forget to follow the new site  if you like what you see.  And if you don’t want to read about the books, then that’s fine too. I’ll post links to the latest posts here occasionally, but you don’t have to look if you don’t want to. :)

Anyway, thanks so much for reading. I really appreciate it.

- Alex

I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages Exclusively on Amazon Until January 15

16 Dec
I'm Nobody Comic Letters copy

Buy I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages Exclusively On Amazon Until January 15

Be one of the first  to get a pre-release copy of I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages  just in time for Christmas. Get it on paperback before it’s worldwide release on January 15.  Now only $8.99 for Amazon Prime members.  Just click on the cover photo above to take a look.

Be on the lookout for an exciting book giveaway and all new website coming this January.

I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages Synopsis:

How long has it been since you believed in magic?

Caleb Reed is scared of everything. Terrorists. Bird flu. And even the kitchen stove. But what frightens him more than anything is the abandoned, ghost of a mansion across the street. With its boarded up eyes and eerie overgrown gardens, the hundred-year -old beast has been mocking the agoraphobic 7th grader for years, Now, things are getting worse. The paint peeled mansion has been changing, and mysterious notes have begun to arrive on his doorstep. His parents think he’s losing his mind, but Caleb knows they’re wrong. Something’s going on over there, something strange, something terrifying …something beautiful.

Read the EPIC Award nominated novel that critics are saying is “an amazing read!”, “powerful” and “unlike anything I’ve read.” In a stressful world, I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages is a triumphant tale of hope over fear, and one that kids and grown-ups of all ages will love.

I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages Coming Soon In Paperback

8 Dec

I'm Nobody Top View cropped

I hope you all enjoyed the  32 Author Hunt.  The scavenger hunt is now over, and  we have some winners…

The Grand Prize winner: Renee Manning

2nd Prize:  Chris Morcom
3rd Prize:  Christa Scott

Congrats to the winners, and enjoy your books. Thanks to all of you who joined the fun. Keep an eye out for some more giveaways coming soon.

In other news, after a successful ebook test run on Amazon, I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages is coming to a book store near you.  The book will be sold on Amazon later this week, and then everywhere else on January 15.   Thanks to the readers and reviewers who made this book launch possible. If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you all get a chance to soon.  I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages is suspensful, inspirational, and great for middle graders and adults alike.  Oh yeah, and if you like what you read, don’t forget to rate the book on Amazon. That always helps.

I'm Nobody Back Tile Edit

Up ahead, a chance to win my book in an upcoming giveaway. I’ll keep you posted.

God bless,

Alex

32 Author Hunt – Ready, Set, Go!

29 Nov

32authorHun-poster

It’s time for the 32 Author Hunt*, a chance for you to read some great author interviews and collect clues which may just lead you to an armful of books and an iPad Mini.  You’ll find this stop’s clue somewhere below.  Have fun.

princess cover (1)

Author Interview: Karen Whiting

Karen Whiting loves to let creativity splash across the pages of what she writes. She writes books for women and families to help families thrive and writes for children, especially girls, to grow tomorrow’s families today.  She has sixteen published books and over 500 articles In more than sixty publications. Karen enjoys helping with the Bible studies at the US Naval Academy and baking for the midshipmen. Karen also enjoys adventure and travel. She has water-rafted in Australia, ridden a camel in the Canary Islands, biked beside the ocean in Singapore, and ridden a horse in the ocean in Jamaica. She also loves spending time with her nine grandchildren.

Q: Everyone seems to have a “how I got published” story. What is yours? God sent me a mentor (published author) and I attended a writer’s conference where editors asked me to submit short pieces. I followed all the advice and within four months I had my first acceptance. Then I had something accepted every month for one hundred months at which time I was writing a column.

Q: When did you realize you wanted to become a writer? I’ve never wanted to be a writer. My degree is math, so I stayed away from writing. But, God called me to it, he gave me a vision, and then someone gave me a painting of the vision a few hours later. So, I answered the call in 1994 and I’m still writing.

Q: Tell us a little about your books.  I write to encourage families to thrive and to grow tomorrow’s families today.

DSC_1714 copy 10x11 300

Q: What are some of the strongest influences on your writing? What I’ve learned at writer’s conferences and from critique groups

Q: How do you write? What’s a normal writing day like for you?I write all day most days, from morning until about 4 or 5 PM.

Q: Who are your books aimed at? If applicable: What are some of the challenges of writing for your audience?It depends on the book—Ones for children are for little ones and families. Ones for tween girls are for girls Others have been for families and military families.

Q: What’s your view on e-books and the new publishing revolution? Any e-book plans in your future? I write nonfiction and that seems to be slower moving into ebooks. My print books that are also in digital format are selling much more in print than ebook. My newer books are all available inn both print and ebook.

Q: What was your favorite book as a teen? Pride and Prejudice

Q: Describe your feelings when you opened the box and saw the first published copies of your very first book. Oh no! They misspelled my name!

Q: If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be? Jesus, Dolley Madison, and Abigail Adams

Q: What inspired you to write?  The desire to reach out and help families be functional. I grew up in a wonderful family and want to share how people can nurture thriving families.

Q: What were some of the challenges for you writing your book? The editing and rewriting. Writing as my husband battled cancer and died.

Q: What do you want readers to take away from your book?  I want them to build stronger family bonds. I want girls to develop skills and virtues that will help them thrive as they grow.

Q: In what ways does your faith impact how you approach writing?  It’s the reason I write and undergirds all I do.

Q: What can you tell us about any future releases you have planned?  I have a book, Nature Girl, releasing with Zonderkids next spring. It is my first co-authored with my older daughter and will be fun and informative for girls. I’m also working on a one-year interactive devotional book for boys with Jesse Florea as my co-author. It should be fun and hopefully encourage boys in their faith.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday memory? Opening Christmas stockings with the family (my article about this has been a classic one at FOF online since it was published years ago.

Q: Do you have a favorite Bible verse? Ephesians 3:16

Q: Does anyone else in your family have musical/writing/artistic skills?  My dad played in an ancient fife and drum Corp for 75 years-they won the gold medal at the NY world’s fair in 1938-39. I didn’t inherit any musical ability.

Q: What is one thing you’ve read that you wish you had written, and why? Nothing comes to mind. I enjoy what so many others have written but have never felt I would have wanted to write what I read. I write what God calls me to write and trust he chose others to write the books I enjoy.

Q: How would you like to be remembered? As a mother who loved and supported her children

Q: What is your favorite thing you have ever written? Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front. This book shares true stories of courageous women, families, and children from the home front of American wars. As a military wife and mom I wanted to tell the real stories of the struggles and triumphs of so many people who supported out troops throughout history. I’m thankful that the book received some national awards.

Q: Who would you most like to thank for their involvement in your writing career? My late husband for believing in me. Conference directors and mentors–Reg Forder, Billie Wilson, and Patricia Sprinkle, to name a few.

Q: What have you learned about yourself through your writing? Creativity can take you a long way in writing. My creative ideas have really helped me get contracts. My math ability gave me organizing skills that have also helped.

Find Karen Whiting on the Web:

pintrest

twitter goodreads

32authorBookshelf (1)

Thanks to Karen Whiting for providing some up close insight on her books and writing. Now, I’m guessing that all you amazing readers on the hunt are probably looking for your next clue, well here it is: “for Christmas”

Now that you have your clue you can continue on to Karen Whiting’s website for your next interview and clue.  You’ll be able to find her by clicking on the “Next Stop” icon below.

33authorHunt-nextStop

Of course, if you’re lost and missing a clue, you can always find more info by clicking on this icon:

just iPad

And finally, if you have some extra time, make sure to check out my book, I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages by clicking the book cover below.  If you want to keep up to date on my books, blog posts, and giveaways, you can sign up to follow my blog at the top of the sidebar to the right. Happy Hunting!

Alex Marestaing

twitter

I'm Nobody Comic Letters copy

Get your copy of I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages Today

 

*32 Author Hunt Contest only available to participants in the U.S.A.

How Not to be an Ostrich

16 Nov

ButOstrichesIf you haven’t noticed already, ostriches can’t fly. They have wings – pairs of beautiful, feathery fliers – but they still can’t lift off into the wild blue yonder.  It’s sad really, especially since they used to be able to soar into the atmosphere like the coolest of eagles. But not anymore.

It appears that over time, with no predators to attack them on the ground, they simply forgot how to lift off. And so, they became tethered… to the Earth.

How sad, to lose a gift like flight, to lose the ability to defy gravity.  So, here comes the metaphor. I think a lot of us are losing our ability to “fly” as well. And here is my top three list of suspected “flight” stoppers:

1. Technology:  I love technology. It’s made our lives easier, sillier at times, and definitely more entertaining. But, if we don’t watch out, it has the potential to steal some pretty precious gifts from our lives.

A while back I heard a news report of how Yahoo was changing their homepage because they wanted it to become more addicting. Addicting? That’s not a good thing is it? Especially when our kids are involved.  But, it’s the truth. Facebook, Candy Crush, Vines… are programmed to be addicting and we simply need to be aware of that. No, I’m not saying technology is evil, but if we want our families to fly, we need to keep on top of how much priceless time we’re spending on our iPhones, tablets, and apps.

Wouldn’t it be tragic if our kids lost the ability to fly? I mean, wouldn’t it be awful if they lost the ability to just lay in a warm summer sun lost in a good book. Or missed out on the laughter found in a simple board game with family, even though it doesn’t “load” as quick as Temple Run? Or were unable to enjoy the sweetness of sitting in a TV-less room and just talking, about life, without a text to be found?

Tip: Qustodio offers a great, and free, app, that allows you to limit tablet and computer time. We use it with our kids, and it has really helped the family keep “flying”. Check them out at: Qustodio.com

2. Lack of Introspection: A few weeks back I was at church, and I noticed something. There was no silence, no space for contemplation, no room for introspection. There was great worship music, deep prayers spoken from the front, and great teaching, but there were so many words that there was no time to really absorb the immense depth of worship.  I’m not writing this to insult the church experience, and the point of going to church isn’t really to sit in a silent room with a bunch of people anyway.  But what I am saying is this:  If we just move from church gathering to church gathering, or news channel to news channel, we may be losing our ability to think for ourselves whether it be spiritually, politically, or personally. It takes a lot of quiet time contemplating our political, social, or even parenting philosophies in order to discover what we stand for instead of simply parroting what we’ve been told by the media or by the crowd we hang with.  It takes a lot of silent thought to face ourselves and drop the weights that keep us tethered to the ground. I love what Paul writes:

What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. (1st Cor. 14:15)

One of the greatest gifts God has given us is our minds, our ability to think for ourselves, so exercising that gift is imperative if we want to keep flying.

Tip: I know you’re busy. I know you live in a noisy world. But don’t forget to turn down the volume every once in a while – so you can think, pray, listen, and remember how to fly again.

3. Anger or Frustration:  We all get frustrated every once in a while. It’s normal, simply part of life in a hectic world.  People say hurtful things (most likely without even knowing it), politicians drive us batty, and news of the world’s injustices are constantly blaring out of our radios and TVs.

I don’t know why, but humans have a tendency to focus on the frustration, have this habit of dwelling in irritation as if it were a warm coat on a cold winter day. But that coat has huge, gaping holes in it. Sure, frustration may give us an adrenaline rush of drama to fuel our day, but in the end it’ll weigh us down and keep us on the cold earth instead of up in the clouds with the eagles where we belong.

Tip: If you really want to fly, try forgiveness. If you want to enjoy the view from above, let compassion be your fuel instead of frustration.

You know, the most tragic thing about the ostrich is that it lost it’s most precious gift without ever even realizing it. It simply forgot. So let’s all remember to fly this week, to defy gravity with our families and fight for the freedom to spread our wings and soar.

- Alex

Stay up to date on future posts, new books, and upcoming giveaways by signing up to Looking Up. It’s easy, just click on the Follow button found on the sidebar, and you’ll be good to go.

Announcing the 31 Author Hunt

9 Nov

Image

I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages is coming to a book store near you. That’s right, after finding success in the Kindle world, plans are to make I’m Nobody available in print. More info on that soon, but today I wanted to tell you about the 31 Author Hunt. The hunt is a chance for readers, like you, to get your hands on an iPad mini and 31 one novels by some of your favorite authors, including I’m Nobody.

31 Authors have teamed up to provide tons of awesome prizes just in time for Christmas. Follow the clues found on each of the author’s websites and you just might win one of three prize packages:

Grand Prize: an iPad Mini and 31 Books (one from each of the authors)

2nd and 3rd Prizes: 31 Books (one from each of the authors)

Plus some, if not all, of the Author Stops will have some sort of giveaway such as signed books, giftcards, or, who knows, maybe even your name in one of their books. The fun begins on November 30, so mark the date on your calendar.

One week, 31 Authors, lots of prizes!  A list of clue laden websites will be coming soon, so stay posted.

Enjoy life to the fullest,

- Alex

Leading from the Middle

21 Sep

hu·mil·i·ty

     (h)yo͞oˈmilitē/)

noun

Among the greatest military officers our country has ever seen stands Joshua Chamberlain, a humble college professor who led his 20th Maine regiment brilliantly during the Battle of Gettysburg.  Though he had no prior military experience, he rose through the ranks because of his innate leadership skills, skills born of humility rather than pride. This humility could be seen most clearly on arduous marches when the Medal of Honor winner would walk with his troops rather than ride a horse as was his right as Lieutenant Colonel.

By walking, he showed solidarity with those who fought. By walking, he could hear the hopes and fears of his charges. By walking, he could lead more effectively…from the middle.

IMG_0292

Perhaps it was the exhausting heat and humidity, or maybe it was the miles and miles we hiked, but I was thinking of Chamberlain as I trudged through Disney World with my two daughters last month.  No, I’m not about to say I deserve a medal for braving the Florida heat in August, but I am about to tell you something that dawned on me on our spur of the moment cross country trip,

As my kids are growing older now, I need to  start leading from the middle

Allow me to explain, I took my girls to Florida on a frequent flier mile fueled whim.  We had a couple of tickets to use, we got an amazing deal on a hotel, and my wife and son didn’t really want to deal with the heat. So it was just me and the girls, my youngest just turning teen.  Since, the trip was kind of last minute, I had no agenda, no schedule to keep, no checklist to finish. And that was the best part.

I hang out with my kids a lot, but this trip was different. See, because I had no plans, I was able to simply “walk with” and let my two daughters lead. Whatever parks they wanted to go to, we went to, and whatever rides or shows they wanted to see, we were there. As a dad, I got a new perspective as I basically just “hung out” with my kids, listened to them chat, and followed where they wandered.  Sure, I gave them options and ideas, but I basically let them lead the way, and, wow, was I impressed by what I saw.

By walking with my “troops”:

  • I learned that my two princesses are just that, classy princesses through and through, beautiful, capable young ladies who are gentle and kind to everyone they meet.
  • I realized that they are more than able to get up early, schedule plans, budget their time and money, and that they can giggle their way through anything.
  • I was able to see how my daughters are true best friends, and, probably since they have shared a room from infancy, have a deep sense of fairness that underlies all that they do.
  • I was able to listen as they dreamed aloud about having their own kids one day and explained how they want to let their toddlers “wander around and explore the world freely, so that they don’t think the world is such a scary place”

The list goes on and on, and I won’t bore you with it. But I have to say, my week with my daughters changed me. It  made me want to listen more, preach less, give them the reins more often, and cheer louder as they go out and conquer the world.

When my kids were younger, my wife and I led from the front, teaching our toddlers where to walk,  how to talk, and where to go next. That was necessary, for a season. But, that week in August, showed me that a new season has begun for us, a season of leading differently, a season of stepping back and leading…from the middle.

It’s Been a While (A Quick Update)

11 Jul

#1 on Amazon

I hope everyone has been doing well and enjoying these summer days with your families. As you can tell, I’ve been absent from my blog as of late. I’ve been working on a new book, and, as always, my blog seems to take a backseat when that happens.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to give you some information about that in the near future.

As you can see from the picture above, today was a good day for I’m Nobody. Thanks to many of you who downloaded the book during Amazon’s promotion, it reached #1 on Amazon’s bestseller list for Young Adult/Literature Free titles and #7 on the suspense/free bestseller list.   The promotion runs until tomorrow, July 11, so you still have a chance to download  it for free if you want. Just click on the following link to get a Kindle copy —> I’m Nobody Promo

That’s it for now. Until next time, relax, knowing that God has everything in control, and make the most of each day.

Life’s Like That

30 Mar

DSCN0479

This is my luggage. It’s supposed to be in Richmond, Virginia along with my son and I. My son’s a huge history buff, so, as his Christmas present, we had planned on spending Easter week on the East Coast, checking out all the historical sites.

But, as you can see, my luggage is not in Richmond today. Instead it’s still sitting in my bedroom, along with me who is also sitting in my bedroom…with the stomach flu.  Yup, I was forced to cancel our trip about an hour before leaving to the airport.

The miserable events of the last twenty-four hours reminded me of this verse from the book of James.

13Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:13-15

In other words, though we may think we’re in control of our lives, we’re really not.

In 2009, I celebrated Easter at my parent’s house. From down the street, I could see Anaheim Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Angels.  Four days earlier, at that same stadium, 22 year-old Angel rookie Nick Adenhart had been on top of the world, pitching six shutout innings against Oakland.

The following morning he was dead, tragically killed by a drunk driver.

“I hate that this happened, but this is part of life,” Angels outfielder Torii Hunter told ESPN. “That’s why you’ve got to kiss your kids, kiss your family every day when you get up in the morning and before you leave for work.”

Pray Away the Rain 2

When someone is taken in their prime it makes us all aware of our own mortality, causes us to introspect and realize that life can be random at times, causes us to come to grips with the fact that we’re not in charge. See, life on Earth is but a vapor, and we aren’t fully in control of what happens on any given day.  And that can be scary.

But, tomorrow’s Easter.

Easter, the day that Jesus demonstrated His control over death and sin.

Easter, the day that reminds us that we can rest our weary souls in the calm and capable hands of a God that loves us…even when life seems painfully random.

So this Easter, smile, enjoy the loved ones around you,  and have faith. Because God is in control

…of everything.

Traveler

26 Mar

My two daughters giggle as they play around with the video screen on the seat back in front of them, while their mother sits calmly besides them, flipping through the pages of some foreign magazine.  After a long taxi, the plane turns, the brakes release, and we’re off.

As we pick up speed, the metal bird shakes, fighting gravity as it lifts its silver head skyward. That’s when I see her, like always.  She’s staring at me from between seats, and smiling, a deep soul smile that plays out in her endlessly blue eyes.

Europe 2012 098

This  scene has played itself out on countless runways now, in countless countries.  And I’m in love with it, in love with us.  You see, we’re travelers my wife and I.  We always have been.

Most think it’s me with the restless soul, me who plans these frequent flier mile induced jaunts, but it’s her too.

My wife spread her wings for the first time when she was only 17.  That’s when she packed her bag, hopped a plane out of Stockholm, and headed for the States…alone. Her father had died when she was only eight months old, and that left a hole, a hole too big for anyone, even a wonderfully loving mother, to fill.  And so she traveled, in search of something, a place , a city, a feeling to call home.

And there our hearts collided.  See, I was searching too, searching for that same place, that same shelter…home.  After four miserable years of high school, I needed home more than anything.

And in all this world wide searching, in all our wearing out of shoes and hard landings, we finally found it…

Home

At the end of desperately long days, in the silent hugs that seemed to flow from the arms of God himself, an answer to our silent prayers

In the joyous banter around the dinner table, where three kids talk over each other as they tell us all the simple things that matter most.

Home

During our family prayer times, where hopes, dreams, and fears reflect like misty rain in the warm glow of faith

In words of grace, underserved and given freely, because we’re loved, deeply, by the people surrounding us, and by God.

Europe 2012 238

See, in all our travels, we’ve discovered that home was never a place on a map, never a structure made of stucco and steel. So my wife and I have tried  to live accordingly, investing in the things that will truly decorate, not our house, but our home.  One of the ways we’ve done that is by  traveling, cramming all five of ourselves into tiny hotel rooms every summer, and even spending a year away from our California sun in Sweden, just so we could  get closer to the ones in our lives that matter most.

I’m not saying we’ve always invested right, but  at least we’ve tried to, and that’s made our home, well, home. 

One day, when my wife and I are old, gray and deeply grateful, we’ll fly once more on paper wings, defying gravity as our souls lift skyward.  And that’s when I’ll see her, like always, staring at me from between the seats, and smiling, a deep soul smile that plays out in her deep blue eyes.

 

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.(2 Corinthians 5:1)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 33 other followers