Pre-Order “Until Summer” (and read a sample)

My new book Until Summer is available now for Kindle pre-order on Amazon. You can check it out here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08RSLGHDN

Here is the about blurb on Amazon:

They were in love but that seemed a long time ago, a different life. Abused and neglected, Meredith and her brothers spent much of their childhood in foster care. Now she’s a single mom of a teenage boy and foster mom to another, trying to juggle work, children, and dating. Abandoned by his mother, Daniel was raised by an uncle who struggled to show him love. Now he’s an addict warring against himself as he fights not to fail a son of his own. When Daniel’s son is placed as a foster child in Meredith’s home, the two are reunited but what will that mean for them and their families? Until Summer is a story of love and a longing for hope as two people battle the traumas of their pasts in search for a brighter future. 

(Note: Until Summer is a book about hope in the face of trauma. There are a few scenes in the book depicting various types of trauma. While these are not graphic or explicit, they could impact the traumatic memories of some people. Purchase accordingly.)

You can read the first few chapters for free here (PDF): https://mikebergmandotco.files.wordpress.com/2021/01/until-summer-sample-28.pdf

Cultivate Future Readers

Want to cultivate future readers, writers, and other creatives? Read, read, and read to you children.

It’s a near daily thing in our house. We read about five or six books at the start of the day. Usually, as he grabs them, runs up, and shouts, “Bookie!” as he holds it high.

Yes, my wife and I have read about Llama Llama more than any human being should. But that’s okay. He wants to read because we read to him and we make sure to act excited about it.

Read to your kids, grandkids, nephews, nieces, etc. The future world will thank you.

Let’s Talk Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block.

Whether you’re a professional author or sometimes storyteller, you know it. Those moments, days, weeks, or in my worst case several years where you want to write but something is stopping you.

The imagination seems to shut off. The motivation vanishes. You hate the words you see on the page/screen, trash it all, and walk away wondering if you’ll ever write again.

Fortunately, often time will get you past. Maybe you need to drink a cup or twelve of coffee. Maybe ponder nature. Maybe take a walk.

The thing I’ve found that’s helped me most is to ask my wife for ideas. She’s good at helping me brainstorm and I can take a sentence or two from her and churn out pages. I’ve even had stories win awards that way.

What about you? How do you fight the block?

Image cred: https://unsplash.com/@florianklauer

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 “A Grandfather’s Yarn” (Of Stars and Space)

With the publication of my collection of stories, Of Stars and Space, this is part 9 in a series of posts about the inspiration behind each of the twelve stories.

A Grandfather’s Yarn is, perhaps, the shortest story in this collection. I wrote it as a submission to a science fiction contest a few years ago. It has two inspirations: First, was a trip a friend and I took to Arches National Park a decade ago. It was a beautiful scene and I tried to capture that with my words. Second, is the old notion that grandfathers like to spin stories with embellished facts–like the “walk uphill both ways in the snow” idea.

I combined these two inspirations and added a twist. Maybe aliens are real or maybe grandpa just likes to talk…

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.

“A Grandfather’s Yarn” and Of Stars and Space, © 2020, Michael Bergman

Excerpt from “A Grandfather’s Yarn”

I sat on the porch in my chair with my three grandchildren at my feet. Peter and Lucy were eight-year-old twins, and Michael was four. Peter giggled as he listened to my story.

“Grandpa, everyone knows that aliens aren’t real!”

I smiled. “Just wait, one day you’ll meet them, too.” The night had grown dark and the full moon hung high in the sky. “Now go wash and get ready for bed.” I loved it when my grandchildren visited and they loved staying up well past their bedtime, even if they didn’t always believe my stories.

The inspiration behind “Space Dinosaurs” (Of Stars and Space)

With the publication of my collection of stories, Of Stars and Space, this is part 8 in a series of posts about the inspiration behind each of the twelve stories.

In my one-year-old son’s room there hangs on the wall behind his closet door a banner to measure height and growth. My wife and I went with a dinosaur theme for his room, so in keeping with that theme, the banner has blue and green dinosaurs, a t-rex and brontosaurus, dancing and smiling. In between are the words Little but Loud.

Change the brontosaurs to a triceratops and you’ll notice a matching banner in this story.

In the mornings or after naps, H will walk to the edge of his crib, smile, and start waving at his banner. It’s just like one of the characters in this story. Who knows what goes on in the mind of a one-year-old, but I thought it would be fun to write a short story to give a reason behind the why? of smiling and waving at that banner.

And, so, “Space Dinosaurs” was born.

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.

“Space Dinosaurs” and Of Stars and Space, © 2020, Michael Bergman

Excerpt from “Space Dinosaurs”

Lydia’s blue eyes narrowed before they rolled. “Not this again.”

“Come on…”

“No, Steven. The theme is space and astronauts, not dinosaurs.”

“Just pretend they’re space dinosaurs.”

She glanced down and rubbed her belly. Our son, Issak, was due in two weeks. “What are we going to do with your daddy?”

I laughed. Then I held the banner against the wall. “How about over here by the closet door. When the door is open, you won’t even see it. Please?” I saw her look. I knew I was pushing it. “It was on my wall as a kid. It meant a lot to me.”

“Why? I mean, it’s cute, but why is it so important?”

The inspiration behind “The Perfect Man” (Of Stars and Space)

With the publication of my collection of stories, Of Stars and Space, this is part 7 in a series of posts about the inspiration behind each of the twelve stories.

“The Perfect Man” is the first story in the science fiction section of my book. It is a story about love, with a twist. It’s hard to dive too much into the inspiration of the story, because that would give away the twist.

I do, however, owe the story to my wife. A few years ago, I was suffering a case of writer’s block and I told her that I wasn’t sure what to write about. She thought for a moment and replied, “You should write a story about…”, and then four hours later, the first draft of The Perfect Man was finished.

I also submitted this story to Writer’s Digest annual writing competition. It took home an honorable mention. And, yes, they sent out the image below to use for “bragging rights.”

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 Perfect Man” and Of Stars and Space, © 2020, Michael Bergman

Excerpt from “The Perfect Man”

Hearing their voices urging her on, she filled out a profile for an online dating site, entered her credit card information, and clicked Match Me!

And then she went to bed.

The next morning, Tamara found herself matched with ten guys. She immediately got rid of three who had no pictures. Four more seemed only interested in showing off muscles and cars. “Grow up,” she murmured as she closed them as well. Another guy looked cute, but was three years older than her and still lived with his mom. Another claimed to be some sort of wizard supreme from a parallel realm, whatever that meant. The last guy seemed normal and sweet, but he was an inch shorter than her and she just couldn’t see that working.

After the failure, she went about her day and woke with anticipation the next morning, much to the same results. Finally, on day four, she came across the profile of a man named Chad. He was thirty-two, never married, and an accountant with a legitimate firm. He had no pictures of himself flexing, none with his car, and none that appeared to have ex-girlfriends cropped out. He liked reading and hiking, and he owned a single cat—a British shorthair named Milo.

Best of all, she had a message waiting from him.

The inspiration behind “Trail Blazing” (Of Stars and Space)

With the publication of my collection of stories, Of Stars and Space, this is part 6 in a series of posts about the inspiration behind each of the twelve stories.

“Trail Blazing” is the final story in the life, love, and loss section of my book. It is a story about growing up and leaving behind childhood loves for new grownup loves. It is the adventure of two brothers and a cousin as they spend a week hiking along the Current River in southern Missouri.

One inspiration was growing up canoeing the Current River. Almost half the summers of my life have time spent on that river. Another inspiration is reflecting back on my own experiences of how life changes as you age.

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.

“Trail Blazing” and Of Stars and Space, © 2020, Michael Bergman

Excerpt from “Trail Blazing”

On that first trip Xander took with us, Parker was still out cold well after Xander and I woke. My brother sat beside me with a mischievous grin as we munched on granola and dry cereal. Then he told me his plan for a practical joke that involved a hatchet, duct tape, and the words last one up.

Now, as we waited for my brother to emerge, my and Parker’s laughter turned into solemn stillness. Without saying a word, we both knew what weighed on each other’s minds. He and I had just finished college, Xander would soon be a high school senior, and I was engaged to be married at the end of summer.

“I think I’m going to take the job in Virginia.” Parker broke the silence.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

The inspiration behind “Strange Walls” (Of Stars and Space)

With the publication of my collection of stories, Of Stars and Space, this is part 5 in a series of posts about the inspiration behind each of the twelve stories.

One of the things you learn as a foster parent is to never say a negative thing about a child’s biological parents. It doesn’t matter the backstory. Every child has a longing for a good relationship with those who gave birth to him/her. To speak negatively about a child’s mom or dad is to attack that longing.

“Strange Walls” is a story about such a longing, told through the eyes of a 17-year-old boy in foster care. Abused and neglected, he simultaneously both loves and hates his father and longs for the good memories before his family was torn. Within the raw emotions, it is within those memories that a hope for the future is found.

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.

“Strange Walls” and Of Stars and Space, © 2020, Michael Bergman

Excerpt from “Strange Walls”

There is a funny thing about being a kid in the system. Good people, like the Isaacs, mean it when they say they are there for you. Their love is genuine. In time, you figure that out and even begin to feel love for them.

And then you hate yourself.

It’s like you’re betraying where you came from, even if where you came from involved too much alcohol and yelling, and not enough hugs.

The inspiration behind “Flowers for Every Day” (Of Stars and Space)

With the publication of my collection of stories, Of Stars and Space, this is part 4 in a series of posts about the inspiration behind each of the twelve stories.

Sometimes it doesn’t take much to inspire a story. This is true of “Flowers for Every Day.” It is, indeed, a short story, one of the shortest in the collection, and a simple story about lifelong love.

So, where did the inspiration come from? A song.

The Gray Havens is one of my favorite bands. On their debut album, they have a song called Gray Flowers. The chorus starts with the line, “He brought her flowers every day.”

That’s it. That’s the inspiration.

Sometimes, that’s all you need.

You can read an excerpt of “Flowers for Every Day” below.

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.

“Flowers for Every Day” and Of Stars and Space, © 2020, Michael Bergman

Excerpt from “Flowers for Every Day”

The young man watched as the young woman stepped into the room. She stood tall, though she was of average height, and held her head high. Brown locks with waves of curls were pulled and pinned near her left ear. Her golden-brown eyes scanned the crowd until she found the two other girls she was looking for. Then she smiled and waved.

“Who is that?” the young man asked.

Another young man, shorter and stockier than he, glanced up. “I don’t know. Maybe she’s new. Wait, Robert, where are you going?”

Robert had already stood and moved away from their seats before his friend had finished. He smoothed his dress shirt and adjusted his tie. The school concert was set to begin in ten minutes, leaving him enough time.

A vase of fresh flowers sat on a table near the entry. He plucked one, a white daffodil, and approached the group of three with a smile.