Meet Daniel Wagner (a character sketch – Until Summer)

He loves his son and longs to be a good dad, but he’s afraid he doesn’t know how.

When Daniel first met Meredith, he was an awkward teenager who was abandoned by his mother and raised by an uncle who struggled to show him love. Smoking pot and singing along with The Smashing Pumpkins helped him to drown out his feelings.

Fast-forward twenty years, and Daniel is struggling to raise his teenage son on his own and break free from his drug addiction. When he hits rock bottom, living in a car and digging for meals in dumpsters, he decides that placing his son back into foster care is the only way to give the boy an opportunity for a better life.

With his son placed as a foster child in Meredith’s home, Daniel reconnects with his old flame. But will it set him on a path toward healing and reunification, or will it give him an excuse to disappear into the demons of his addiction forever?

Until Summer is a story of love and hope against the darkness of trauma and addiction. You can find it on Amazon for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited and in paperback. Check out the free three-chapter sample.

You can now follow me on Facebook: facebook.com/bergmanwrites

Photo by: unsplash.com/@henmankk

Q&A: What authors influenced you as a child?

Thinking back, there are three who come easily to mind.

Vicki Grove. She is a local author near my hometown. We read some of her books in class. She would also visit our elementary school and talk about life as an author.

Gary Paulsen. Hatchet, of course, is a classic. I also remember reading The River, Canyons, and Dogsong among others. He knew how to capture a boy’s sense of adventure.

Finally, Louis Sachar. His Wayside books have always stuck with me in their quirky humor. In fact, I’ve loved being able to read them with some of the foster kids we’ve had, and even sing along: “I’ve got one sock, looking for the other. One sock, looking for it’s brother…”

The thing that really struck me about Sachar was the interaction he would take with his fans. In the fifth grade, I believe, we had to write a letter to one of our favorite authors and I chose him. He wrote back, a very nice handwritten letter. Sometime later, I sent him another letter and talked about wanting to be an author. Again, he sent back a letter that was quite encouraging.

Those are the three that came quickly to mind.

If you have a question about writing, my books, or me as an author, I’d love to hear it. Please include it in a comment!

Meet Callum Martindale (a character sketch – The Secret Baker)

Ten-year-old Callum is good at mazes and video games and, well, not much else. His dad was a star high school baseball player, and his mom and sister are pretty good at basketball. Ask Callum about sports and he’ll tell you, “I’m as athletic as a sloth.” People expect him to be good at more, but since it’s not sports, he’s not sure what that’s supposed to be.

Until one day, he has to stay home from school sick. He ends up watching a baking show with his mom, decides to try baking, and discovers that he is actually pretty good at it.

Callum gets the idea to secretly leave surprise treats around his school with the help of his best friend, Ryan, even calling himself Captian Cookie! The Secret Baker! But when the school bully finds out, will his secret remain a secret?

The Secret Baker is a story for kids ages 8-12ish about learning to be yourself and embrace what you’re good at, no matter what other people think. Read Chapter 1 for free by clicking here (PDF).

You can find the book on Amazon for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited and in paperback.

Writing Prompt Wednesday (Characters in a Crunch)

Today’s writing prompt comes from Writers’ Digest. Click on over and join the discussion there: https://www.writersdigest.com/be-inspired/characters-in-a-crunch

Here’s my contribution:

“Oh, my gosh, Dad! What did you do?”

James stopped chewing mid-crunch and glanced up from his phone. His eyes were wide as Kole and Katie, still in their pajamas, stared at him.

“What?”

Katie held up the nearly empty cereal box and shook it. There were two, maybe three pieces left as crumbs. “Trix are for kids, Dad!”

“Sorry,” James muttered. Then he finished chewing his bite. “I was starving, and it was the only cereal we had. Your mom is shopping. She’s buying more. If you’re really that hungry, I can make you pancakes or something.”

Seven-year-old Kole had been scowling, but his eyes grew wide and his jaw dropped. Both he and ten-year-old Katie took a step back, but the boy cowered behind his sister. James followed his gaze and peered over his shoulder. He jumped, startled, and nearly spilled the remaining cereal and milk as he scurried to the opposite side of the table.

A six-foot-tall white cartoon rabbit stood in the kitchen. Its ears flopped as it cocked its head. “Hello, James.”

“This can’t be real.”

“Oh, I’m real.” The rabbit’s eyes narrowed. “Did you enjoy your lemony yellow and orangey orange, James?”

James sidestepped so he stood between the rabbit and his children. “They were alright. Froot Loops are better.”

The rabbit shook its head. “You shouldn’t have done it, James. You shouldn’t have eaten the Trix.”

“What do you want, Rabbit?”

The rabbit opened its mouth. A ray of sparkling blue light poured from the dark cavern behind its bright red tongue. Katie and Kole dropped to the floor. Katie hid her eyes, but Kole gawked. James felt warmth as the light enveloped him. It was soothing, like crawling under an electric blanket on a chilly evening. His clothes seemed to grow bigger. James stared at his hands and watched his wedding ring slide off and strike the linoleum with a clink.

That was when he realized his clothes weren’t getting larger.

The light faded, and James grabbed the waist of his pants to keep them from falling. “You turned me into a kid?” he squeaked.

The rabbit grinned. “There!” He pointed at the table, and a new box of cereal appeared. “Now you can enjoy all the Trix you want!” The rabbit turned and strolled out the back door.

Katie and Kole stood. James shook his head. “Your mom is going to kill me.” He glanced down at himself and sighed. Then he cocked his head and eyed his son. “I’m going to have to borrow some of your clothes.”

Photo cred: https://unsplash.com/@nyanastoica

Meet Meredith Hillis (a character sketch – Until Summer)

She was in love.

Life for Meredith Hillis finally seemed to be going the way she had long hoped. She had a good job and a stable relationship. She was mom to one teenage boy and foster mom to another. She was happy with all she had.

But when she receives a phone call asking if she has room for another boy, everything will change. Suddenly, the boy’s father, a man she once loved, is thrust back into her life, along with the memories of her broken past.

Meredith is a survivor. As a child, she and her brothers faced abuse that no child ever should. It almost cost her everything. But after her son was born, she found the help and strength she needed to face the trauma of her past and set course to her brighter future.

Until Summer is the story of how Meredith learns to love and holds on to hope even when the past once more rears its head. You can find it on Amazon for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited and in paperback.

“Until Summer” Available Now!

My latest novel is now available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited and in paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08RSLGHDN/

It is a story of love, hope, and finding light against the darkness of trauma. Foster care is a central theme to the book. I wrote it, in part, because foster care is important to me and there isn’t a wide selection of novels on that topic. There’s kids’ fiction and non-fiction, but it’s harder to find general fiction. The book is a love story. It’s also an ode to foster care. It’s also a book about trauma, which means some of the subject matters in it are hard. I don’t go into explicit details about things, but there are certain events that could be a trigger for traumatic memories, so purchase accordingly.

I would love for you to check it out.

If you read it and like it, I’d love for you to leave a rating or review at Amazon and tell someone else to check it out. 🙂

Here’s the blurb from the back cover:

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.

Your Imagination Is a Gift

Why do you write? Why do you rhyme? Why do you paint or draw? Why do you build?

Most people want to see the world a better place. We might not always see eye-to-eye on how to do that in a holistic sense, but one thing that spurs on the creatives and artists is a desire to make the world a little more beautiful. Some simply want to entertain. Some wish to inspire. Others long to provoke thought or create change. Others create for different reasons or combine reasons together.

Your imagination is a gift.

However you decide to put it to use, use it well. Let it soar. Inspire, encourage, entertain.

Create.

Image cred: Photo by Louis Maniquet on Unsplash

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