The Secret Baker (introducing my kid’s book)

In our three years of being foster parents, my wife and I have had several children in the 8-10 year old age range. My wife suggested, with those experiences, to write a book aimed at kids that age. She even had an idea: Write a story about a boy who is good at video games and discovers that he likes to bake and is good at it. He tries to keep it a secret but his friends catch him looking up recipes at school.

Part of her motivation in that idea was you can find books out there about girls baking but it’s a little more difficult to find a book about a boy who bakes. In our home, both my wife and I love to bake and some of our foster kids, including boys, have gotten in on the baking as well.

Thus, The Secret Baker was born. The story does not go quite the way she envisioned, though it does involve a boy who learns he’s good at baking and tries to hide it from his friends. Without giving away all that happens, in the end, the story is about embracing what you’re good at and what you love, and getting past the fear of what other people think.

Second to this, The Secret Baker also touches on topics such as foster care and bullying.

I wrote the book for upper-elementary kids. You can check out a free PDF sample of Chapter One here: Mom and the Bakers.

The book is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats: The Secret Baker.

Here is the book’s description from Amazon:

Ten-year-old Callum doesn’t think he’s good at much. That’s about to change…

Meet Callum Martindale. He’s the son of the high school baseball coach in a family known for athletic ability. If you ask him, though, Callum will tell you that he’s “as athletic as a sloth.” Besides playing video games and doing mazes, Callum isn’t sure what he’s good at. That is until one day when he’s stays at home sick and binge watches a baking competition with his mom. Callum then discovers a love and ability for something he’d least expect…

The Secret Baker © 2020, Michael Bergman

The inspiration behind “The Weatherman” (of Stars and Space)

With the publication of my collection of stories, Of Stars and Space, this is part 10 in a series of posts about the inspiration behind each of the twelve stories.

Everyone likes to complain about weather forecasts. I’m a bit of an insider when it comes to weather. I’ve never worked in the business, but my undergrad degree was in meteorology, so I know more than the average person about atmospheric science. What makes the weather so hard to predict is how complex the atmosphere is and how many influences impact the daily weather in any given place.

So, I empathize with the meteorologists who struggle to produce accurate forecasts. In reality, though, some are much better than others.

The Weatherman was an idea inspired by my wife. Without giving too much away, the story is about a TV meteorologist who is terrible at his job, quits trying, and suddenly becomes good. Personally, I think this story is simply a fun read. Yet within, there is also a kernel about self-discovery and embracing one’s true identity.

Of Stars and Space (and other stories) is available at Amazon in both Kindle and print formats. Kindle is immediate delivery; print is print-on-demand and may take a few days before the order ships.

“The Weatherman” and Of Stars and Space, © 2020, Michael Bergman

Excerpt from “The Weatherman”

“I hate him,” I said, perhaps too loud.

“Mommy says not to hate.”

I thought my son was asleep. I sat on the couch in a t-shirt, boxers, and tube socks, like I had most of the day. Aaron was curled up beside me. He wore his Spider-Man pajamas but he, at least, had dressed to go out when Anna left for work and took him to daycare.

“I can watch him,” I had told her the day after I had been fired. She smirked and chuckled.

I rubbed Aaron’s back. “Mommy’s right. Daddy shouldn’t have said hate.” Except, I meant it. I loathed everything about John Manning, Channel 9’s evening weatherman. His perfect hair and its business part. His gleaming smile. His charming personality. His dimples. I hated it all.

Because he was me. I had been Channel 9’s evening weatherman until the prior week.

Ken Martin called me into his office. Carley Jackson flanked him on the right and Steph Whitehead on the left. “Tom, we’re sorry,” Ken said after a minute of small talk, “but we’re letting you go.”

“What? Why?”

“Well…”

“You’re terrible at your job,” Carley interjected.

5 Favorite Authors :: Faves for 40

May is the month I turn 40. To celebrate, I thought I’d do a series of posts about some of my favorite things.

Today: 5 Favorite Authors, in no particular order

1. Francis Schaeffer. He was a well-respected thinker and Christian apologist in the 1960s&70s. Yet, he was not a hardened intellectual. He had great compassion for people as he sought to lead them to Jesus. His works heavily influenced my early faith and continue to challenge me today.

2. CS Lewis. A theologian and a dreamer. Lewis knew how to stir the imagination as well as the soul. His works remind us that theology doesn’t have to consist of a bunch of cold propositions. Jesus often spoken in stories. Stories can help to form us spiritually.

3. Michael Crichton. He wrote a lot of popular fiction, especially of the sci-fi variety, during my teens and 20s. It’s not high literature, but there’s a lot of fun reading. And plus, Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Dragon Teeth… there’s also dinosaurs. What’s not to like?

4. Jared C. Wilson. A very grace-filled and gospel-focused author of the present. You could say a lot about what he writes, but I’ll leave it at this: I’ve yet to pick up anything of his not worth reading.

5. Dean Koontz. This one is borderline on my list. He writes a lot of pop fiction, a lot, especially of the sci-fi and mystery genres. And not everything he writes is good. When you have published over 100 books, there’s bound to be plenty of duds. He makes my list for one main reason: The seven-book Odd Thomas series. Odd is a kid in his 20s who talks to ghosts, hangs out with the spirit of Elvis, and reluctantly solves mysteries. It’s fun, it’s quirky, it’s humorous…it’s odd.

Honorable mentions: AW Tozer, Os Guinness, Gary Paulson, Louis Sachar (who I pen-palled in the 5th grade)

Image source: Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

Tips for the Aspiring Writer

Recently, I wrote about how I Love to Write. I now want to take a moment to encourage others who think they might enjoy writing, but are not sure what to do. Here’s a few tips for aspiring writers:

1. Just start. You never do something you don’t begin. Even if you don’t think you’re a very good writer or if you’re not sure what to write about, just sit down with a computer or notebook and start writing. Write your thoughts. Do a Google search for writing prompts. Describe the scene from your back porch. Just start.

2. Write, write, write some more, and then rewrite. One of the temptations I often face is to craft the perfect thought (at least perfect to the way I think it). I can write a few sentences or a paragraph or even a page, and get so caught up in it not sounding right that I go back and delete. It’s frustrating and it slows the process down. The truth is, you will likely never be fully satisfied with a work. Two years later, I can reread something I wrote and edited and still find things that I want to change. That’s why they say it’s best to just write, get it down, and then go back and make changes when you’re finished. Let the process carry you and then edit.

3. Read a lot. One of the best ways to learn how to write and craft a story is by reading those who have written and crafted stories. Some are better than others, and the writing geniuses are few and far between, but there are a bunch of good writers to learn from.

4. That said, find your own voice. You’re not Stephen King, Robert Frost, Earnest Hemingway, or Maya Angelou. Don’t try to be. You’re you. Yes, you’ll find things to sharpen about your style, but let your own voice shine through.

5. Don’t fear critique. I have been a part of writer’s groups where we critiqued each other. I have friends who read and make suggestions. I don’t always follow their suggestions because of tip #4. Yet I have also grown and changed. When it comes to my stories, a critique I’ve heard with consistency is that my dialogue is often great and realistic but my descriptions can be wooden and lack color. That encourages me to keep doing what I do with dialogue but to put more thought into my descriptions of places and events.

What tips might you share with aspiring writers?

I Love to Write

As long as I can remember, I have loved both reading and writing. Creating short stories has long been a hobby. Some elementary teachers even thought one day I’d grow up to be a professional author (that hasn’t happened yet). I have submitted some stories to various contests and shared them with others. Even though my stories have yet to be widely read, I still love to write.

I love to write because it lets my imagination soar. Our imaginations and ability to create art are a gift from God. It only makes sense that God who imagined, created, and tells a story through creation would impart the same to creatures made in his image. Humanity was designed to dream and create. Painting and drawing are not my forte, nor is making music. But I love to write and create worlds and characters through words.

I love to write because it helps me deal with stress. No matter your job, no matter where you live, no matter your family and friends, even with those being good, life is hectic. Certain things have to get done. We face pressure imposed by both self and others. We battle the tyranny of the urgent. Then life occasionally throws unexpected curve balls. We feel the stress. Each of us needs healthy ways of processing and de-stressing. Writing helps with this for me. Even if I begin a story and never finish it, I am able to channel thoughts and emotions in ways that reduces the pressure.

I love to write because it is fun. You might not feel the same way. Video games, jogging, or golf might be your thing. That’s the beauty of hobbies–our personalities, talents, and passions intersect to engage in something we enjoy. I hope the things I write can encourage others and bring them enjoyment. But even if I’m the only person to ever read something, I still love to write because it’s fun.

I love to write. Maybe you love something else. Find your hobby, make the time, and embrace it.