A Book Lover’s Christmas

jollyholiday_2000pxBooks are great Christmas presents. No, they really are. Because unless you’re last-minute shopping and grabbing the first thing you see (been there, done that) a book is a personal gift.

Giving someone a book indicates you’ve taken the time to find a present specifically for them. A book says, “I saw this and thought of you. I think you’ll love it.”

We all have book lovers on our lists. My wife is a librarian. If I pick a book for her, I just about can’t lose. My mother likes biographies. My sister appreciates unusual cookbooks. If I can find a book that mentions Purdue University, then I am “in like Flynn” with my father-in-law.

What kinds of books do your friends and family like? Check out “Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection” which contains my novella, Big Love. It’s a great collection of seven novellas, each one with a tiny house incorporated. There’s some romance, suspense, humor (okay, there’s lots of humor), and even some architecture!


MichaelEhretMichael Ehret loves to play with words and as an editor, he is enjoying his playground. Previous playgrounds include being the Managing Editor of the magazine ACFW Journal and the ezine Afictionado for American Christian Fiction Writers for seven years. He has also proofedited for Abingdon Press, worked in corporate communications, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

Get Onboard for Adventure!

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Tiny Luxuries

Contains the novella

One of the preconceived notions I was disavowed of when researching tiny houses for my novella “Big Love” (which is part of the Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection, published by Penwrights Press), is that these small living spaces are Spartan, utilitarian, and basically cute. But certainly not attractive or luxurious.

Well, I discovered I was wrong. And, as my protagonist Berly Charles says in the novella, “If you think so, you’re wrong too.” (She has opinions.)

Tiny houses are, by nature, utilitarian. That’s part of their whole minimalist attraction. But like a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian style home (also part of my novella), that doesn’t mean unattractive.

LuxuryTinyHouseToday in my email I received another reminder of how jaw-droppingly beautiful these homes can be, if that’s what you’re looking for. If you click on the photo above you’ll be taken to a Tiny House Talk article about that house. Treat yourself and watch the video. It’s five minutes you won’t feel is wasted. Oh, and the inside is where most of the gorgeousity happens.

Then treat yourself further and check out the reviews for Coming Home (and “Big Love”) at Amazon. Give the book a try. I think you’ll like it. And with seven novellas in one book, it’s a luxury you can afford.

“Big Love” is one of seven novellas written around the theme of tiny houses. It is included in Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection from Penwrights Press. Available in e-book and print . Cover design by Ken Raney.

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Visit my co-authors: Ane Mulligan, Linda Yezak, Pamela S. Meyers, Yvonne Anderson, Chandra Lynn Smith, and Kimberli S. McKay.

Tiny House Living May Not Be For You—But Our Book Is!

My novella, “Big Love,” is just one of seven great reads collected here!

Me and my co-authors in the novella collection Coming Home (which contains my novella, “Big Love” and six others) were attracted to the concept of tiny house living for many reasons:

We’re fascinated by them! Tiny houses are part of a current societal trend we found interesting—minimalizing the impact we have on the planet.

They fired our creative synapses! There were a plethora of opportunities to creatively integrate tiny houses into our stories.

We’re romantics at heart. They are, gosh darn it, sort of romantic and intriguing and fun—especially as settings.

Some of us, myself included, have contemplated living in a tiny house but none of us currently do. For me and my lifestyle, I see them as a fun second home to have on lakefront property. A place to get away to.

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My wife waiting in line to see this tiny home. We could live in this on lakefront property some day.

Fortunately, readers don’t have to live in a tiny house to enjoy our stories. You just have to like great stories about fun people who live in tiny houses or, in some cases, work in the industry. But what if you’re seriously considering taking the plunge to tiny- or small-house living?

That’s great! You’ll enjoy the stories then, for sure. If you haven’t plunged yet, but are thinking about it, here are 10 things to consider—especially if you have children at home—that may take the romantic stars out of your eyes. Or not, if you are really committed to small house living.

Diane and Chris, who author the Small Home Family blog linked to above, have two children and live in a 400-square-foot tiny house.

What are your thoughts on tiny house living? Do you say “yes” or “no” or, like me, “maybe” in the right circumstances?

Buy on Amazon.

“Big Love” is one of seven novellas written around the theme of tiny houses. It is included in Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection from Penwrights Press. Available in e-book and print . Cover design by Ken Raney.

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Visit my co-authors: Ane Mulligan, Linda Yezak, Pamela S. Meyers, Yvonne Anderson, Chandra Lynn Smith, and Kimberli S. McKay.

A Fabulous Fall Read

Fall Read Meme

Samara Is A Real Place

My novella “Big Love” is part of this seven story collection.

Samara, one of the key locations in my novella “Big Love” in the collection Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection (Penwrights Press), is a real place. It’s about an hour and ten minutes north of me in West Lafayette, just off I-65. It is one of the last houses architect Frank Lloyd Wright envisioned and had built in his Usonian style.

And I never knew it existed—until I needed it. In that sense, Samara is rather like J.K. Rowling’s fictional creation, The Room of Requirement, in her Harry Potter series of novels. That room appears, stocked with whatever the magician requires at the moment, just as it is needed. And until it is needed, it cannot be found.

Only, as I said, Samara is real. You can visit it and I highly recommend you do.

In my novella, my architecturally-minded journalist and my as-independent-as-Yankee-Doodle small business woman who builds tiny houses for the homeless, needed a place they could explore together to deepen their relationship—and divide them.

Samara is one of the last examples of Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian period designs.
This is the front approach and garden at Samara. The entrance, which Wright liked to hide in his creations, is just around the corner created by the bank of windows you see.

I knew I had to have this almost magical place where the natural attraction these two feel for each other could be easily intensified. It’s a novella, after all, there wasn’t a lot of time.

As I searched for the right location—I wanted a real one, not something made up—I knew Purdue University had a great school of civil engineering and that south of Indianapolis is the city of Columbus, renown for its architecture. So this got me thinking about what architectural marvels might be found in Indiana. I fully expected to make a road trip or two to Columbus for exploratory purposes.

But when I searched online for architecture in Indiana, I found this 2014 article from Indianapolis Monthly magazine: “Milestones: An Indiana Architecture Road Trip,” by Daniel S. Comiskey. As I read through the piece, the name “Samara” lit up like neon in my mind.

And the location in West Lafayette couldn’t have been more perfect. My journalist, Nathan “Rafe” Rafferty, lives in Chicago. My builder, Timberly “Berly” Charles, lives in Indianapolis. Connecting them is I-65 and almost exactly in the middle is—Samara.

You hear it too, don’t you? When you read “Samara,” doesn’t it sing? Don’t you almost hear Hervé Villechaize’s Tattoo calling out, “The house! The house,” as Ricardo Montalban’s Mr. Roark strolls nonchalantly onto the veranda?

A quick email to Linda Eales, Samara’s associate curator, secured a visit to the home for my wife and I. And yes, until very recently Samara was a home and a museum. The original owner, Purdue University professor John Christian, and his wife Catherine, lived in the home until their deaths. It is now operated by the John E. Christian Family Memorial Trust and is open to the public.

Here’s a bit of a scene from my character’s visit to Samara. In the living room of the house, Berly and Rafe experience the calming effects of the room’s architecture. The scene is in Berly’s point of view:

Wall-sized windows fill an entire side of this amazing great room that was created before the concept of great rooms. A line of cushioned benches underneath a wall of shelves for books and knickknacks extends into and around the corner of the library section of the room.

Linda talks about how the design, the integration of nature—“With a capital N as Wright would say”—and the unity of the lines in the house create a feeling of peace and relaxation today’s homes often don’t have.


The corner Wright called “the best seat in the house.”

She motions to the library’s distant corner. “Wright would have said that corner bench is the best seat in the house.”

I move into that corner to look at the amazing display of books and other decorative pieces on the shelves.

Rafe follows me. “Don’t you want to sit?”

“Oh, I couldn’t.” To me, this is a museum, and that means Do Not Touch. But Linda confirms Rafe’s invitation.

“No, it’s all right,” she says. “Dr. Christian lived in the home until his death in 2015. The furniture is intended to be used.”

So I do, and Rafe sits next to me. I am sitting on a piece of furniture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

“I’ll dim the lights,” Linda says. “That will help you feel the peace.”

As we sit there, in the quiet and in the natural light of a sunny Hoosier afternoon, a calm does descend. My breathing evens out, and my body relaxes. It’s the first time I’ve noticed how architecture can be used to create mood—and I love it. How can this be incorporated in our work at La Petite Maison?

Rafe rests his hand protectively over mine on the seat cushion between us. It scares me to even think about it, but I am beginning to wonder about the future with Rafe. Sitting next to him, I swear I hear some pieces of my life fall into place. I try to lean into the peace and enjoy it. I don’t find it often.

“What are you feeling?” he whispers in my ear, his warm breath accentuating his words.

What am I feeling? I can hardly tell him, now can I? I’m not even sure I could tell Bets, were she here. But I am feeling.

Just a short scene or two later, trouble descends in paradise and the comforts of Samara get lost as the characters… well, you’ll just have to read it!

And you can! I have five electronic copies to give away. Just leave a comment either here or on the Facebook post for this blog. If you win and read “Big Love,” (and the other six tiny-house related stories), I’d be honored if you left a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Though a review is not required to enter, reviews give books a fighting chance to find an audience. Thanks in advance!

“Big Love” is one of seven novellas written around the theme of tiny houses. It is included in Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection from Penwrights Press. Available in e-book and print . Cover design by Ken Raney.

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Visit my co-authors: Ane Mulligan, Linda Yezak, Pamela S. Meyers, Yvonne Anderson, Chandra Lynn Smith, and Kimberli S. McKay.