Saturday, February 13, 2016

'Writer’s pen’ works magic, creating unique bond for grandfather/ granddaughter author duo

There’s always a bit of magic in the writer’s pen. Michigan mystery writer Rich Baldwin discovered it long ago, when he began writing his series of mystery novels, starring the amiable detective Lou Searing, who also happens to be Baldwin’s alter ego.
Author Rich Baldwin with granddaughter Hannah Hoffmeister's novel, Ava. The poster is book cover for Rich's latest mystery, Murder at the Cherry Festival
Now 13 novels later, and just as many years, the magic of the writer’s pen seem to have sparked a love of writing and a similar novel quest in his granddaughter, Hannah Hoffmeister.

The magic, in this case, is that Hannah’s novel series depicts the fantasy world of 13-year-old Ava Popolis. Magical, too, is the fact that Hannah’s first novel in the Dream Ring Series was published when she was just 13 years old.

ies) begins on the heroine’s 13th birthday, when she learns that her mom is a witch.  As quickly as Ava celebrates turning 13, her world just as quickly turns upside down.  Ava’s mom informs her that she and best friend, Victoria, are both witches.  The two young teenagers must now go away to school on the far off planet Neptune.

Along come many adventures at the school for aspiring witches, including encounters with Widdiworm, an evil sorcerer. In Book One, Ava describes the fantastic tale of her first year at this other-worldly school.

Book Two, Widdiworm, finds Ava and Victoria back in school for their second year, facing more challenge and adventure due to the sorcerer Widdiworm. In Book Three in the series, Victoria, Ava’s challenge is to find Victoria, who is gone, and get her back. Training at the Battle School for Advanced Witches and Wizards, Ava comes up with a dangerous plan to rescue her best friend.
The writer’s bond between Rich Baldwin and Hannah Hoffmeister is evident, when Hannah notes in her acknowledgements for Ava, “Thank you Grandpa Baldwin, who has never left my side in my development as an author.”

If magic can ride moonbeams, then both grandfather and granddaughter are riding high. Hannah recently won second place in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards in the category of Years Best Book Written by Someone Under 18 Years of Age. 

The Buttonwood Press publisher shouts it out on his website: “Hannah is 14 now, but Ava came out when she was just 13!!!   Wow!!! – this is awesome and the competition was national. Please join me in a standing ovation!!!”

As for granddaughter Hannah, the teenager (now a high school freshman in her home state of Missouri) enjoys book signings and speaking engagements with students. In an interview with her local online news, Call Newspapers, Hanna tells reporter Kari Williams, “"It's been a really neat experience because all sorts of stuff has come out of it that you would never have thought would ... and to look at all these kids with a book like this, I'm like, 'You're reading what I imagine,' and it's so weird. It's been cool."

Besides writing, Hannah spends her time reading, gardening, hanging out with friends, playing softball and keeping up with her favorite baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals.

At the pace of this young writer’s pen, Hannah will soon catch up with her Grandpa Baldwin, who now enjoys promoting her work, as well as that of Buttonwood Press author Mary Morgan. Mary also writes mysteries. Her series are written for young children, and are set in various national parks.
Morgan’s current book is Stolen Treasures at Pictured Rocks, a national park on the shores of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Her second National Park's Series mystery is The Face at Mount Rushmore.

Morgan-- married to a pastor – is a church secretary, who also writes devotionals, inspirational stories, and Christmas plays. Her passion, however, is writing mysteries for children, ages 8-11.
Stolen Treasures at Pictured Rocks was selected as one of the Lansing School District’s Michigan author books for Reading Month in March.  Morgan has spoken about this book in 10 schools to 2,000 students in Lansing and Grand Ledge.

The story is about twins Ben and Bekka Cooper and friend Eli, who encounter thieves planning to steal artifacts from sunken ships, turning their vacation into much more of an adventure than an ordinary camping trip.

Now available in its second printing , Stolen Treasures sold 1,500 copies in 9 months. You may find it in stores throughout Michigan, including at four visitor centers in Pictured Rocks National Park.
Rich’s current book for 2012 is: Murder at the Cherry Festival: It’s the Pits.  The mystery revolves around the murder of Tom McNutt, wealthy owner of Northernmost Winery on the Old Mission Peninsula, north of Traverse City, MI.  McNutt, Grand Marshal of the Cherry Fesitval Parade, is shot in the parade set-up area. The police invite detectives Lou Searing and Jack Kelly to investigate.

Rich dedicates his Cherry Festival book (his 13th mystery) to Hannah:

“Hannah is my eldest granddaughter, who at a young age decided to write novels. By the time she was 14, she had written five books in her Dream Ring Series…. Where her writing career will lead is anyone’s guess, but for sure, she is a very talented young woman… Her maternal grandparents, Nana and myself, are extremely proud of her talent and professionalism, and we commend her for reaching goals most people her age can’t imagine.”

The art of storytelling probably comes naturally for Hannah, but Rich recalls a conversation the two of them had when Hannah was age four. He remembers  how much fun they were having playing make-believe, fantasizing about having their own bookstore, that would always be open.
As Rich puts it, you never know where your dreams will take you. With the imagination of the writer’s pen, he’s passed this love of storytelling on to  granddaughter, Hannah, who signs her books: Follow your dreams!

Grandfather Baldwin writes under the name Richard L. Baldwin.  He is also a public speaker, addressing groups on the topic of How to Self Publish Your Own Book. Before becoming a published author, Baldwin enjoyed a long and exciting career in special education. He served as a teacher,  college professor and spent 20 years at the Michigan Department of Education, where he was a consultant, supervisor and State Director of Special Education from 1990-97.

The story of Rich Baldwin’s career may be found in my previous  Livingston Post blogs:
Mystery writer Rich Baldwin finds joy in telling a story – a good detective story.
TUT, TUT: Murder (In Ice), He Wrote

Writer’s Pen Notes – aka Rich Baldwin:
Rich enjoys traveling with Buttonwood Press books to various craft shows in Michigan
Rich’s murder mystery books are now in the Book Trader Bookstore in Lansing, Michigan. “Owner J.P. Johnson gave me a rack for all 13 books, right by the door! J.P. operates a used book store but is welcoming me in on a trial basis to see if we can sell some novels. If you live in the greater Lansing area and need a book for a gift or personal reading please stop in at the Book Trader and give J.P. the business - well you know what I mean!  Oh, the store is located in a small strip mall at the corner of St. Joe and Waverly Roads - 635 S Waverly.”

“Many of you are asking, ‘What's Next?’ I am working on two books at the moment. The first is ‘Death in the Choir Loft. The second is a story that involves the MSU and U of M football rivalry. I don't have a title for this one yet - how about Murder in the Big House? One or the other will be out at the usual spring release time.”

Buttonwood Press books on Kindle: With the help of Mark Vorenkamp, Buttonwood Press has seven books available via Kindle or Nook.  “I have 5 books and Hannah Hoffmeister (The Dream Ring Series) has her books (Ava and Widdidorm) in our e-book offerings.” More are on the way.

Possible movie in the works: Baldwin noted recently, “I visited with the owner of Brandella Films about a future film based on my book -- Final Crossing: Murder on the S.S. Badger. The visit was positive and it just may happen, but a lot of bridges need to be crossed before this becomes a real flick. Stay tuned!!”

The Writer’s Pen Links :
Rich’s corner:
Susan Parcheta’s Livingston Post blogs about author Richard L. Baldwin
Buttonwood Press
Authors at Buttonwood Press
Hannah’s Corner:
Buttonwood Press author Hanna Hoffmeister
The DreamRing Series site:
Interview with author Hannah Hoffmeister at Call Newspapers
Hannah’s book signing for Ava highlighted in Missouri The Teachers Loungeonline parent/teacher store

(Pub Dec 12, 2012 in The Livingston Post)

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