michael ringering | 6 bits

w e l c o m e

Photo by Alex McMahan

Thank you for stopping by and for your interest in my first novel, Six Bits. The process of writing this book was such an incredible experience, and one that offered its fair share of moments that inspired and others that forced me to question my own sanity.

One of the more interesting aspects of this journey has been the reaction of those who know and are close to me. Many seemed shocked to know I was working on such a project, while others seemed surprised I held an interest in writing at all. I guess that's what happens when you've been away from home for 20 years. For whatever reason, I never thought writing a novel to be something beyond my reach. My doubts centered on having the time to write and being able to sustain the drive necessary to complete such a project writing part-time. I also think the word 'novel' itself adds a depth and complexity many view as either too time consuming, or too daunting.

I clearly remember the moment I first desired to write a book. I was in the third grade, attending Eastwood Elementary in my hometown of East Alton, Ill. My teacher, Mrs. Jones, assigned the class to write a book report. While perusing the shelves of the school's small library, I remember having trouble choosing a topic, and noticing my indecision, Mrs. Jones asked me of my interests. At that time I was really into horses. She walked to the far end of the room and pulled a book from a top shelf. She assured I would like it.

When I got home that afternoon, I studied the cover and the beautiful illustration of the book's main character - a horse named Broomtail. I noticed the author's name just below the illustration, and clearly remember saying aloud that someday I, too, would write a book. Thirty-seven years later, I managed to hold true to that claim.

This project was not without its frustrating moments. There was a point in late 2010 that I found myself struggling through a massive case of writers' block, searching for something, anything, to revive inspiration. While perusing eBay one afternoon, I managed to find a copy of "Broomtail." Not wanting to waste time with the bidding process, I purchased the book outright. It was an incredible thrill to hold the book in my hands again after so many years, and turned out to be just the spark and motivation I needed to kick-start my creative juices.

I'm often asked where the concept of Six Bits came from. It was actually a story I developed for an assignment in college, albeit, under a different working title and a mere shell of what it is today. Although I'd hoped to pen this story long before now, time, career and circumstance never afforded the right moment. It was not until 2004 that I typed the first word. As a matter of fact, I tapped out the first letter on my computer keyboard on Wednesday, Oct. 24. I remember this day clearly, as my wife, Teresa, and I were enjoying a quick getaway at my sister-in-law's cabin in the north Georgia mountains. I woke up early that morning and spent the entire day on the front porch pounding out the first few chapters, then watched later that evening the Boston Red Sox sweep my hometown St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. What I find humorous is that day's effort barely resembles the finished product today - oh, those rewrites! Regardless, it was a start and felt good to get the ball rolling.

Six years later, on a late Sunday morning in early April 2011, I completed my main character's journey. After typing the book's final word and placing the last period, I paused, walked to the other side of the house to find my wife, and simply asked, "Are you ready?" At that time, Teresa, God love her, was one of the few people close to me who had no idea of the plot or characters involved, as I wanted her opinion of the work only after I'd had a chance to edit and complete the many necessary rewrites. That morning she followed me into my office, stood behind me, and watched as I typed "The End."

It was one of the more surreal moments of my life. It was hard to believe this concept that had churned and fermented in my brain for so long had finally manifested into a 195,000-word manuscript detailing one man's journey in search of redemption. Eager to celebrate, we spent that Sunday afternoon at our favorite outdoor restaurant, sipping on sangrias and discussing my next book!

It was not until the middle of August that I'd gotten the manuscript to a point I felt comfortable sharing it with Teresa. I'm not sure what type of story she was expecting, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't anything resembling this. Getting approval from the one you love most can be a nerve-racking experience. I handed over the manuscript and did not say another word.

A week or so later I was in my office still tweaking parts of the book when I noticed Teresa enter the room out of the corner of my eye. She was holding the manuscript against her chest and just shaking her head. I turned toward her and noticed she was crying. She stood in front of me, unable to speak at first, which prompted me to recall that scene in the Chevy Chase movie, Funny Farm, when he'd given his wife his manuscript as a wedding anniversary present and she suggested he should burn it. I soon learned - and was relieved to know - her reaction was meant as quite the opposite. I value few opinions more than hers, and when she was finally able to speak, she told me the story was so far beyond anything she'd ever imagined, and that she was literally stunned at its depth and the impact it had on her emotions. For the first time since typing that first word in 2004, I felt I might have a good story. Seeing her reaction at that moment will mean more to me than anything that happens beyond this point, and something I will never forget.

I hope you're intrigued to purchase Six Bits, and enjoy it well enough to recommend it to your family and friends. If you do, please stop back or catch me on Facebook to offer your feedback. As I work on my next project, I will value any opinion you may have. I will always look to improve, and know that's not possible without constructive feedback.

Thank you for stopping by. I wish you peace.