Thursday, November 22, 2018

13 is a Lucky Number

A lot of people are wary of the number 13. Superstitions abound and the whole Friday the 13th shtick is also kinda cute. But for me, I love the number. I was born on a 13 and it's been a number that along with the #4 has tagged along soooo often it's almost crazy.
So naturally, for my 13th book I wanted to do something special. Something from the heart. Something that will hopefully inspire people to read and write and thus came to be Given to Fly. Some people might ask why I'd choose my 13th book to be a middle-grade fantasy about a boy who dreams about flying, but most of the people that read me have said that's par for the course because it seems I have a knack for not following patterns and of course I'd write a book intended for audiences 11 and up after releasing not one but two non-fiction books that are pretty much self-help books.

But that's me and as an indie author, I need to show how broad the spectrum is when it comes to my work. As for Given to Fly, well a good first question to ask yourself is if you've ever wanted to read a book that dreams about becoming a Studio Ghibli film? That's what I set out to do with this book and that's why I insisted on avoiding violence. If you see movies, TV, video games, or the news at any given moment, it’s almost as if violence is a required ingredient in whatever medium we enjoy. Given to Fly is a book that avoids the use of violence even when talking about real issues like death, financial and professional struggles, and life in general in favor of finding joy and life lessons through the fantastical.

The tale lets us tag along 11-year-old John Rivers, a kind hearted kid who dreams about flying. He’s just moved to the Pacific Northwest with his family to a house that although it’s very lovely and very cozy, it’s not exactly magical. What he doesn’t know is that magic is actually closer than he thinks.

After strolling up a hill near his house, he finds a cliff with a cove at the bottom and a huge tree growing over the water. What’s special about this particular tree is that it currently serves as the resting spot for a house that defies logic while embracing the amazing. As curious as he is kind, one look at Od Manor would have been all it takes for him to consider heading into the sideways house, but when he sees a shadow inside, he climbs down to make sure no one is in trouble. Once inside, he discovers that no one is in trouble but that the term "living room" has never been as literal as when an ottoman starts asking him questions. The house’s owner is called Fäet Odstein. Adventure ensues as Fäet discovers that John dreams about flying. Intent on helping the boy out, they seek the help from a library pillaging bookworm, angels, spiders, and even take a moment to contemplate at the meaning of life in the linen lagoon as they try to discover what it takes to fly.

Apart from a whimsical adventure that feels like a lover letter to works by Hayao Miyazaki, Given to Fly is also the first of what will be a series of stand-alone middle-grade novels with Fäet Odstein as one of its protagonists. For those who find the ä in Fäet a little familiar, you'll know that it is my literary incarnation, or more so, who I am when passed through the filter of who and how I am as a writer. There's a little Wonka, a dash of Cheshire, and a whole lotta me.

If you've ever read me, you'll know it's not the the first time I've written middle-grade fantasy stories. Some people have described my Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore as whimsical bedtime stories with a lot of heart. That same heart was the main driver for this story. Like most of my works, Given to Fly was written longhand in one of the best gifts I've ever received in my life. A long time ago, my wife Janelis gifted me a hard cover notebook. She had asked me what image meant the most to me. Without batting an eye, I looked up the image to the Pearl Jam single by the same name. A couple of months later and with misty eyes, she gave me a hard cover notebook with that same image and the name could only be Given to Fly. But what to write about…

The question lingered in the air and rumbled in my brain until a trip to Orlando had us visiting Epcot Center and getting on the Soarin’ ride for the first time. As sights, sounds, and smells washed over me in the beautiful flight simulator, an idea was born and by the end, I found myself soaring straight into an epiphany. “It’s going to be about a boy who dreams about flying,” I told Jane through tears of joy after getting off the ride.

Several years have passed after that ride and finally Given to Fly is ready for you to read. It is a tribute to things that bring me joy and a song that makes my soul smile. In honor of the band that has inspired my life so much, all proceeds for Given to Fly and all other Estrada books for the remainder of 2018 shall be donated to in support of #EBAwareness. Epidermolysis Bullosa is a family of rare genetic disorders that affect the body's largest organ: the skin and Eddie Vedder (lead singer for Pearl Jam) has worked hard to support this cause. It is a small token of gratitude for everything the band means to me and aligns with my #Humans4Humans efforts to support different causes and try to make a positive impact through my writing and any other efforts to support good causes that help our fellow humans.

To purchase your very own copy of Given to Fly, you can pre-oder the kindle copy by clicking here.

Thanks for reading, for supporting, and for letting me share 13 magnificent experiences in book form. It's an honor and fills my life more than I can logically capture.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.


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