New Release – Where The Broken Lie by Derek Rempfer

Well, my friends, the time has come.  To raise the roof and have some fun!


It’s been a long time comin’, but my first novel – Where The Broken Lie – is now available.  Here are the purchase links:

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Print-On-Demand (for the paperback)


Barnes and Noble (Nook)

Apple iBook – coming soon!

Thank you all so much for your interest, support, and encouragement through this process.  You have no idea how much I’ve needed it.  Now all you have left to do is, well, read my book.  Oh, and – if you like it – leave a review on Amazon and perhaps recommend the book to a friend.

For those of you who are just getting on board now, if you’re interested in reading about my journey to publication and the story behind the story, I would invite you to read some of my previous blog posts – especially A Goodness and The Best Book Review I’ll Ever Receive.

Ok, as a last minute reminder, there is release party on Facebook today from noon to 2 pm CST that everyone is invited to. Click here to participate.

Now, back to my man Lionel…

Everbody sing, everybody dance
Lose yourself in wild romance
We’re going to party
Karamu, fiesta, forever
Come on and sing along!

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A Goodness

There’s a part of me that feels a little conflicted when I say that I wrote my book for Ethan, our son who was stillborn over 16 years ago now.  After all, the book isn’t non-fiction, it’s a novel.  Arguably a murder mystery even, although I’ve resisted calling it that.  I don’t want anyone who has suffered a similar tragedy to read this book with the thoughts that it’s a memoir, because they’re sure to be disappointed.  While rooted heavily in all the non-fiction that has been my life experiences, the story itself is fiction.  So let me explain what I mean when I say I wrote it for Ethan…

Ethan’s sister Chloe was born a year after we lost him.  It’s fairly safe to say that there is no Chloe without an Ethan.  She is a Goodness that came from him.  So is Quinn, who came along two years after Chloe.  So are the new friendships we made and the old friendships that were strengthened.  What I want is for this book to be another Goodness that Ethan gives to this world.

This need to find some Goodness has been with me since almost the very beginning.  I say almost the beginning because those first several weeks were just filled with grief and guilt and a special kind of insanity.  But at some point in the months that followed losing Ethan, I created a memorial site for him on the web.  I told our story, shared the poems I had written for him, and posted pictures of Ethan with Tammy and me in the hospital.  I also created an online guestbook where visitors could leave comments and condolences or share their own tragic stories.  At some point, Yahoo bought Geocities (where my page was hosted) and Ethan’s memorial page was gone – along with thousands of other pages.  I’m sure I probably received some emails warning me that the pages were going to be removed, but I never saw them.  I just went up there one day to check on the guest posts and it was all gone.

Fortunately, I would periodically save the guest posts on my local PC, so I had most of them which was the main thing I cared about.  I found so much comfort in the messages people left for us.  It was probably the single greatest thing that helped me through those dark days.  But there was one particular entry that really moved me.  It was from a young college student named Diane and this is what she wrote:

I am truly sorry for your loss. I have a one year old son and if i lost him id be devastated. I can try to imagine how it feels to lose a child, but could never come close unless ive experienced it. So i dont want to say i know how you feel because i dont I just wanted you to know i am a person who cares. The reason i read stories like these is because i am in school to be an obgyn and to specialize in infant surgeries, the studying of sids, and cord accidents. maybe one day i can write you back and tell you that i found a cure, and to apologize that i could not save your baby, but ill, promise you that ill save someone elses. take care, and know that you have the best gift of all. an angel who will love you for all eternity

Six years after posting that on Ethan’s memorial page, Diane lost her own son – not the one-year old she references above, but her second child.  His name was Derek and he was three years old when  he wandered into his neighbor’s backyard, fell into their swimming pool, and drown.  I looked up Diane just last year and thanked her for the note she had left for me back in 1998.  I told her how many times I had cried over her words and the hope that they had given me.  She made me believe that Goodness would come from Ethan.

Who knows, maybe there is no novel if some young mother hadn’t taken the time to write what she wrote almost 16 years ago.  I don’t know why her message had such a deep impact on me then, but it did.  And I don’t know what it means that the son she lost she had named Derek – probably nothing.  But there’s one thing I do know.  When I reached out to Diane, I gave her a Goodness back.

And it felt good.

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The Best Book Review I’ll Ever Receive

As some of you know, on March 15, 1998  my wife Tammy and I lost our son Ethan.  It was his due date and he was stillborn.  I know it’s cliche to say that a part of us died then, too, but there’s just no better way to phrase it.  Ethan did not die alone that day.

The other thing that happened that day was that the seeds of my first novel were planted inside me.  Obviously, there are things that happened before and since that day that made me who I am and shaped the story, but the seeds of this story were planted that day.

On Saturday November 22nd, I will be joined by dozens of people that I love and admire to celebrate the release of my novel Where The Broken Lie.  I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that night, but probably not for the reasons most people think.  I honestly don’t view this as a celebration of either me or the book.  I am going to be surrounded by people I love and admire.  People who have in some way or another played a part in making me who I am and thus contributed to the making of this book.  I want to celebrate all of us.  And I want you to know that:

  • When you wrote and sang your song, it lifted me.
  • When you took your pictures, it encouraged me.
  • When you made your cupcakes, it made me fat and gave me cavities. But it also inspired me.
  • When you sacrificed your dreams for those of your children, it moved me.

And I want to celebrate Ethan.  And I want this party to be the unwritten epilogue of the book that was born from his death.


One night when I was confessing to Tammy my fears that this book was inadequate, she said something that made everything okay for me – which is something she has always done.  She said, “You’ve written a beautiful book that will be around forever.  What a wonderful tribute to your son.”

My goodness is that woman right for me.


“To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die.” (Thomas Campbell).

So, yeah, a part of Tammy and I died with Ethan.  But a part of Ethan is going to live forever.  In the pages of the book that his daddy wrote for him.  And in all of us Hearts Left Behind.




Filed under Ethan Merrill Rempfer, Loss of a child, Uncategorized, Where The Broken Lie

I Need Some Blurbin’ Help!

Let me save you some time and have you stop reading right now unless you fall into one of these two categories:

  1. You are someone who DID read my novel when it was released as Hearts Left Behind
  2. You are someone who DID NOT read my novel when it was released as Hearts Left Behind

Yes, truthfully I need input from both crowds.  I am working on updating the back-of-the-book blurb (aka the BOtBB to those of us in the publishing game) and I am struggling a little.  Not the favorite part of the job for many writers.

Anyway, if you are in the first category, I’d love to know if you feel the blurb at the bottom of the page accurately describes the story you read.

Is it accurate?

Is it accurate?

Keep in mind that the blurb isn’t necessarily meant to cover all of the elements of the plot, but rather to spark some level of interest in potential readers.

 If you are in the second category….does the below spark your interest.

After the tragic death of his son Ethan, Tucker Gaines returns to his childhood home of Willow Grove to stay with his grandparents. In the comforting womb of this small Midwestern town, Tucker can grieve.  In the safe haven of memory, he hopes to heal.

Soon after arriving, Tucker hears of a former schoolmate who has also recently lost a child and he is moved to leave an anonymous note of sympathy and comfort at the child’s grave.  And with this simple kindness, Tucker has unwittingly kicked-off the phenomenon that comes to be known around town as The Grave Letters.  Soon the Willow Grove cemetery is decorated with Grave Letters – one of which is left at the headstone of the man convicted of having killed Tucker’s childhood love Katie Cooper. 

That short letter sends Tucker down a path that he comes to believe will lead to him to peace.  If he can solve the mystery of Katie’s death, Tucker will find purpose in Ethan’s.

Or so he thinks.

I’ll end with this… When you are an unknown author (as I am) and a new blogger (as I am), your blog readership is, well, minuscule.

BelindaBlurbSo you are essentially begging for blogoshame (™ Derek Rempfer 2014) when your post specifically requests user comments and you are confident (as I am) that you will only get comments from Laurie Hopkins Farrell (God bless your heart, Laurie) and, if your lucky, maybe two other people (YOU could be one of them!)

My fate is in your hands, people.

Say hi to Tony and the girls for me, Laurie.


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Hoping for a Faceball!

My son Quinn scored his first goal for his middle school soccer team the other day.  He was playing center forward and when the right forward crossed the ball from the far corner, Quinn positioned himself perfectly in front of the goal and waited for his moment.

The ball flew just over the reach of the goalies outstretched arms and there was Quinn poised and ready to put it in the goal.  He knew it was going to take a header to get it in the net.  He turned toward the ball, braced himself, closed his eyes and…



But here’s the thing…remember that part about how he closed his eyes?  Well, the poor lad didn’t so much head the ball into the goal as face it in.

(Does it make me a bad dad that I am giggling as I write this?)

He ran back to midfield giving high-fives to his teammates with one hand and rubbing his face with the other.

(Seriously, I am really laughing my butt off right now).

But the bottom line is he scored.  He did everything he could to make sure that he was going to.

  1. He worked hard and paid attention in practice, so he knew exactly where the center forward should be in that situation.
  2. He executed what he had learned, planting himself right in front of the net.
  3. And then he hit that ball with his FACE!

Okay, so maybe that last part wasn’t necessarily the plan.  It wasn’t perfect.  

But he could get away with being a little imperfect because of everything else he had done leading up to that moment.imperfect2


There was a lesson there for me.  I am doing everything I can possibly think of to put my novel in the right position to be a raging success.  And now, I’m just standing in front of the net waiting to try and score.  I’m trying to keep my eyes open, but even if I blink…





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Hi, Coach Derek!

We all have dreams for lives.  Dreams about what we need to be happy.

Like really happy.

A lasting happy.

As you probably realize by now, one dream I’ve always had is to be able to make my living as a writer.  And while that is still a goal I am working toward, I’m trying to get better at appreciating those here-and-now happy moments. I’m working toward detaching the writing dream from words like:

- Happy

- Value

- Success

It’s a maturation process, I suppose.

I’ve had a whole lotta happiness in my life – I just haven’t always done a great job of recognizing and appreciating those times.  I suppose that’s partly because most of those things that have brought me joy came from things that I always expected.  I took for granted that I would someday fall in love, that I’d have children, that I would have a home and cars and a big-screen TV and a fridge with an ice-maker and all the other accouterments of the American Middle Class.

Little pink houses for you and me

Little pink houses for you and me

But here’s something I didn’t expect….

Outside of those Little Pink Houses expectations and my personal BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals), when I think about those experiences where I can attach the words:

- Happy

- Value

- Success

I think about the experiences I’ve had coaching kid’s sports over the years.  I think about:

- Sarah whose mom left her family and moved out of state after signing Sarah up for AYSO soccer.  How I was able to help out by giving Sarah rides to practices and games and providing her with a pair of cleats that my own daughter had outgrown. And I remember watching Sarah’s dad erupt when she scored her first goal.

- Victoria, who somehow ended up on my team for 3 consecutive years in Park District Basketball.  Victoria was not athletic and had little confidence in herself as a basketball player (and perhaps beyond).  But she was tall and strong and I love a challenge.  She never turned into a superstar, but she did end up playing traveling basketball and other school sports.  And every time Victoria would see me out in the world, she’d go out of her way to come up to me and say, “Hi, Coach Derek!” (jeez, makes me teary eyed just thinking about it).

- Christian, who…well, I can’t really point to one thing with Christian.  I just love the smile he would get on his face or the little fist-pump he would give when I told him he did a good and that I was proud of his effort.

There are literally dozens of other examples I could give, but I think you get the point.  I don’t mean for this to sound self-congratulatory.  Believe me, there have been kids that I didn’t connect with and a few things I’ve done as a coach that I’m not super-proud of.  But why risk making you like me less?

Anyway, I’m sharing this because I feel so blessed to have had those opportunities.  I know that in some small way I’ve made a positive impact in the lives of a lot of young people.  That’s a dream that I never really had.

But it’s one I’ll never forget.


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Things Have Gone Exactly As I Expected!

So way back on February 1st I wrote the below, but – funny story – I seemingly neglected to hit the “publish” button – something I just recently became aware of. At any rate, I think it’s still worth sharing…

Dear Friends,

Just a quick entry to let you know that I won’t be making any more blog entries until the afternoon of August 31st, 2014.  I’ve just got a lot going on right now and I expect that to be the case for the next 211 days.  I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone thinking that I’ve become just yet another blogger who didn’t commit to the process.

To give you a little insight into what I’m talking about, this is some of what I expect to happen in those 211:

- Based on the first round of edits, I expect that we will hit a few more snags and schedule conflicts with my book (Where The Broken Lie) that will cause the release date to be pushed back – probably even past August and into September or October.  

- My wife and I will be spending a lot of time going to our son Quinn’s traveling baseball practices and games.  They had an okay year in 2013, but they seem improved to me and I would be shocked if they didn’t finish the season exactly 15-7.

- Speaking of youth sports, I’ve really missed coaching soccer in the Fall these past 3 years.  I could probably be easily talked into volunteering to coach Quinn’s team and leading them to a 3-0 start to the season.  Sitting here on February 2nd, though, it’s hard to project out much further than those first 3 games.

- I am going to invest a lot of time and energy into my writing career.  I’m going to learn a lot about the craft and the industry via podcasts, blogs, and ebooks.

- I am going to put more time into my next project which will actually be a YA novel with some elements of magic and mystery.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.  I’ll be gone. Then I’ll be back.  And then I’ll be better.



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Good News! You’re In Disney World!

Do you ever have one of those moments where you’re a middle-aged father of three who is making a decent living, currently pursuing a lifelong dream on the side and thrilled about it, blessed with great family and friends, and then you realize you’re going to die one day?

ME, TOO!!!

But then I think to myself, “Man, this life….this whole place….I mean, this is Disney World!  And, yeah, fine, the park closes around 10, but until then…until then I’m an 8 year-old in FREAKIN’ DISNEY WORLD!”

You're in Disney World!

You’re in Disney World!

(Except 8 year-olds should not say FREAKIN’.  Nobody should, really.  It just doesn’t sound classy.  Anyway…)

So, yeah, we’re all in Disney World and sometimes our feet and our knees and our back hurt from all the walking and we’ve got to take a seat on a bench for a bit.  But let me caution you….don’t get too comfortable on the bench.  There’s just too much going on around you.  Don’t wait for all your aches and pains to go away before you get up and go get in line for Splash Mountain.

Get up now and go explore.  Go ride something (even if the lines are long).  Go see a show (even if it’s lame).  Go get yourself a tasty treat (as long as you’re eating a balanced diet).  But whatever it is, do it now.  Get off the bench and do it NOW!  If you get moving, you’ll have time to do and see everything you want to do and see. Because remember…it’s a small world after all.

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Where The Broken Lie Wins AIA Book of the Month Award!

Well, sort of….

Before I connected with the fine folks at Immortal Ink Publishing, I had been doing everything I could to market the book myself.  As part of that effort, I had submitted Hearts Left Behind (original title) for review by the Indie Reader.  Recently, the Indie Reader published their review and I was thrilled to see that they gave it their highest rating of 5 stars.  Here’s an excerpt from the review:

Author Derek Rempfer conveys the parent-child relationship with haunting power, highlighting with deep sensitivity and extraordinary insight, just how children create their parents and even become them; how death affects the living; and how a grief over a lost child changes a parent . . . even years later.

Click here to read Maya Fleischmann’s full review.


Additionally, I also found out that the Association of Independent Authors named Hearts Left Behind a Book of the Month Award winner.

Click here to see AIA’s Book of the Month Award winners.

I am obviously very honored by all of this.  And it makes me even more excited about the upcoming release of Where The Broken Lie, because thanks to my new partners at IIP, it’s going to be even better.  Can’t wait for it to find new readers.  If you’re interested,

Click here to be notified when Where The Broken Lie becomes available

Friends, self-promoting is something that I struggle with.  Most authors do because we tend to be introverts.  Some of us are neurotic and most of us our insecure about ourselves and/or our work.  We’d rather believe in the romantic notion that our work will naturally find a large and adoring audience.  The simple fact is, it doesn’t work that way in most cases.  We all want to be Hugh Howey, Amanda Hocking, and William Paul Young, but getting there takes a lot of work and even more luck.  And it takes doing things that go against our natural tendencies at time.

All of which is to say, I hope I’m not coming off as too “salesy”.  It’s a tough thing to balance at times.  I want to find a readership and connect with them on a more personal level, but that can’t happen until I have that readership.  :)  If you have thoughts on this, please feel free to share them here in the comments section or by emailing me at  If there are other writers out there who would be willing to share your struggles with this issue, I encourage your feedback as well.

Stay in touch.

That’s a wrap.

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The 411 on the 855

In early December, I received the round one edits of (my literary mystery) Where The Broken Lie back from IIP.  Somehow, the editor – for the sake of anonymity let’s call her Louise (in fact, let’s call her Louise Caiola – author of The Making of Nebraska Brown and part of the management team at IIP) – anyway…somehow the editor managed to find 855 ways to improve my novel in her first pass through.

Now, this so-called “Louise” also happens to be the person who first reached out to me about having IIP represent my novel.  Louise and I had connected via Twitter and – long story short – I sent her a free copy of my novel.  A week or so later, Louise contacted me and we had a 30 minute phone conversation about the book and what IIP could do for me.  NOBODY in my life has ever complimented me so much about anything (Tam, Mom – you hearing this?).  She went on and on about how much she loved the story and the writing itself.

“Please, tell me more, Louise.  I have all day.”

Now, she did mention that there was a little bit of clean-up to be done.  And when Louise returned that round one review of my document, I discovered that she and I have a very different understanding of what “a little bit of clean-up” means.  Or perhaps it’s a Midwest vs East Coast thing, I don’t know.  All I do know is that when I opened the doc and saw the number of edits, my first instinct was to check the total word count to see which number was higher (chalk one up for Word Count!).

Here’s the thing though…I agreed with 99% of her edits.  In fact, rather than being discouraged by the process, I was highly charged to have found someone who “got” the story and cared about it enough to give it the tough love it needed.  And that was just round one! I still have (gulp) two more rounds of editing to go through!

Hurray for more editing! the blogger typed.

Seriously, though, I understand that the process is going to result in a better story for the reader which – at the end of the day – is what I care about most.  Well, that and the royalties, but mostly that thing about a better story.

I’ll end by directing your attention to a couple things:

1.  On the right side of the screen, you’ll notice a section called “Out Takes and Short Stories”.  Nothing cryptic here.  This section contains links to a couple short stories I previously had published as well as some parts of Where The Broken Lie that will not be in the finished product.  But I liked them enough that I wanted them to see some light.

2.  If you know of anyone that you think might be interested in my novel, I would very much appreciate your help in spreading the word by sharing the links below:


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