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Treehouse Chronicles, our book about the building of an enormous timberframe treehouse in the Maine woods, has been named as finalist for a Nautilus Book Award in the catagory of Art/Specialty/Gift. If the book wins, this will be its 9th national book award (see the awards page).
According to the award’s sponsor, Marilyn McGuire & Associates, Inc., The Nautilus Awards are give to those books that “contribute to our society’s awareness and well-being, and that embrace spiritual and ecological values such as compassion, sustainability, simplicity, and global peace.”
We are honored to be named finalists for this award and hope that the publicity that comes with the award will help the book’s sales. Although widely and critically acclaimed, sales of Treehouse Chronicles have been poor. It’s very hard for a tiny publishing company such as ours (TMC Books) to compete with the publishing juggernauts.
Most Amazon.com reviews are run-of-the mill. I liked the book; I didn’t like the book, and here’s why. And that’s why I was so tickled when I checked out the latest Amazon the reviews for our book, Treehouse Chronicles, and found this review from a reader:
You know that delightful list of warm and wonderful things that Julie Andrews tucks the children in with in the old musical classic?
It’s like that.
That novel that you can’t put down?
It’s like that.
That cup of coffee that is brewed just right?
It’s like that.
That poem or song that says it all and brings a tear to your eye?
It’s like that.
That photo that captures you and makes you want to frame it and put it on your wall?
It’s like that.
The gift that you decide is the best thing that you can give to all of the families on your Christmas list?
It’s like that.
In fact, last year when I first saw it, that is exactly what I did! I just had to. As different as all those families are, there was something about it that was perfect for each of them. The contractor, the dreamer, the writer, the displaced Mainer, the hobbyest, and the photographer. It was perfect for each one of them.
Early in January Treehouse Chronicles was honored with its 8th national book award (not bad for a book created by a publishing company so small that all its employees can easily fit in a Mini Cooper). This latest award was an Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest’s International Self-Published Book Awards in the category of Life Stories. Here is an excerpt from the judge’s commentary sheet, based on the question, “What did you like best about this book?”
I suppose it would be too general, and not that helpful, to respond with “everything,” so I’ll focus on the most delightful aspects. But just so you know, “everything” was my first thought. Very witty and smart project. From the subtitle, to the Table of Contents, to the “Can I visit the Treehouse?” I devoured the linguistically interesting way of expressing ideas and philosophies. The photographs and illustrations are beautiful and refreshingly placed throughout. I like the turquoise of the font in the section titles and also the attention and adoration of detail and usually-neglected perspective. Also, the varying moods of the author were appreciated. This work truly holds gems of breezy enlightenment and I hope to catch the interview on NPR’s Fresh Air… if I haven’t missed it! I wish this wasn’t one of the works I had to give back.
A critique doesn’t get much better than that! If you would like to purchase a signed copy of this book, direct from the publisher (free shipping), please click here. Or, you can go straight to Amazon.
To see the other awards the book has won, please click here.
There’s still time to give the dreamer among your family and friends a great book for the holidays. Our book, Treehouse Chronicles: One Man’s Dream of Life Aloft, has won seven national book awards and praise from reviewers everywhere.
The most recent reviewer, Cheryl Hurst, Managing Editor for the Spencer County Leader, had this to say in late November 2006:
“Wonderfully unusual and architecturally amazing pictures and illustrations of this unique hideaway are only a tad of what makes this book one of the best I have ever read. It is artistically exciting to view and articulately insatiable reading. The humorous and poetic wording author Lewis spreads throughout the 130-page, hardback bound edition are a joy to comprehend, often left this reader laughing out loud. Combined with well chosen and cropped photos, balanced with magnificent watercolor illustrations and sketches, and iced with true-storytelling sidebars, Lewis has a winner on his hands.”
If you would like to purchase a signed and personalized copy, please visit our website, tmcbooks.com. You can also purchase the book through Amazon.com, other online booksellers everywhere, or your favorite book store.
The Uppermost House, our 300 sq. ft. timberframe treehouse in the Maine woods, is full of odd things. Perhaps the oddest, is the drawbridge—it certainly gets the most comments. Cobbled together out of timbers, lumber, cables, pulleys, boulders, and plumbing supplies, it is a contraption in the finest Rube Goldberg tradition.
The theory is simple: make a set of stairs that look like the spinal column from a Stegosaurus and that can be lifted into the air with ease because they are counterweighted with big rocks yet fall gracefully to earth (unfolding their steps as they descent amidst a cacophony of creaking, grunting, and thunking sounds) when the (hidden) catch mechanism on the counterweight is tripped by a secret latch. See, simple.
The key to this whole mess, is the catch mechanism. Here is an excerpt from the book, Treehouse Chronicles: One Man’s Dream of Life Aloft, that tells the story of the discovery of the magic gadget:
Sometimes a dashed plan is like a poor draw in poker. If the title to your house is on the table and you’re dealt just a pair of twos, you either bluff well or end up living with your in-laws. Ted came back from an expedition to the local hardware stores today with dire news: we can’t use a gate latch as the catch for the drawbridge. One store didn’t have any latches. One store had cheap flimsy things that weren’t up to the task. And the last store had so much stuff lying in the aisles that Ted gave up and waded back to his truck. I had always known that a gate latch was the key to this Rube Goldberg contraption, and now I had to face the cruel fact that it wouldn’t work. I felt like the guy who swam across the English Channel until he saw the waves breaking on the beach in Calais, France. He didn’t think he had the strength to make it, so he turned around and swam back to England. Things suddenly looked so hopeless I feared we might have to start the whole treehouse over. “If we can’t make the stairs work, how are we ever going to get up into the treehouse?” I moaned.
Ted, always the optimist, yelled “Don’t give up yet,” and then bolted downstairs and out to the sprawling garages. A half an hour later he returned from what he calls “the land of archaic hardware” with his hands full. “There,” he said proudly, spilling a jumble of oddball widgets onto the table. Among the treasures was a spring-loaded door catch with no apparent way to attach it to anything, a neat little thing milled from a block of aluminum with a perpendicular pair of what appeared to be thumb screws, another door catch that had “Push” stamped boldly on the side of it but no moving parts, and, lastly, an odd, cylindrical, aluminum, ball-bearing-equipped, spring-loaded, something-or-other. This last item turned out to be the pearl. (Our other business partner, Frank, has a collection of outbuildings that are the equivalent of giant oysters. A tiny little annoyance-a metal thingy of unknown purpose-gets stuck inside one of these buildings and over time it is transformed-at least in the human mind-into something wonderful, and sometimes even useful.)
You can see where this is leading. To read the whole story, and see a detailed drawing of the catch and the drawbridge itself, please click these links:
And, to see the whole story of the building of this whimsical treehouse, please buy our award-winning book, Treehouse Chronicles. If you buy it from our website, TMC Books.com, we will sign the book and include a personal message (if you wish). You can also purchase the book from all online and retail booksellers.
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Last night I found my daughter staring out the kitchen window. “Oh, no,” she said, hands on her hips. “Dad, wears the snow shovel?” I looked out and saw just a dusting on the lawn. “I don’t think there is enough, Mandy,” I said. “Oh, there will be,” she said, confidently.
This morning at 5:30 I was shovelling six inches. Welcome, winter.
For the next four months, we will hibernate, coming out only to shovel off the skating pond, scrape a windshield, or go for a quiet ski across the fields. But, every once in a while, we will trudge out to the forest, climb three stories into a tree, light a fire in the stove, and just sit and watch the world go by.
If you want to find out more about the treehouse, and the award-winning book that tells its story, please visit our extensive pages, or our website, tmcbooks.com. You can order a signed copy of the book directly from our website and get it in time for the holidays!
It was 11 degrees this morning. The earth is setting up like concrete and I sleep a little better each night—with each new inch of frost the treehouse is tied more firmly to the ground. I met a friend at a coffee shop this morning at 6:15 and as we walked out together he pulled up his collar and shuddered. “I haven’t hardened off yet,” he said. I like that.
More than 50 people visited the treehouse over the Thanksgiving break and for an hour or so on Saturday there were 18 adults in the treehouse at the same time. This set the all-time record, at least in terms of sheer human tonnage (approaching 3000 pounds). Nothing moved, nothing creaked, the cables just hung there, taught as always. The decibel level was astonishing. At one point I stood up on a bench and began counting people on the first-floor deck (pointing dramatically and calling out the numbers). When I finished I made a terrified face and shouted, “quick, I need at least two people to move to this side of the tree!” A lady in the back shrieked. Several people rushed forward and panic seemed imminent. Then people began laughing and a guy threw a pine cone at me.
Two days later 15 junior high students and their chaperones showed up. The total weight was lower than the record day, but the number of questions (some of them very clever) was way up. The smart-aleck remark of the day came from one young man who, after hearing me rant about how much of a hassle it had been to work up in the air hanging from ropes, raised his hand and said, “Wouldn’t it have been much easier if you just built this thing on the ground?”
Later, another boy took me aside. “I had a treehouse once,” he said quietly. “Now it’s a ground house. ”
“Wind?” I asked.
“Wind,” he said.
And we just stood there with our hands in our pockets, nodding together, commiserating; two guys sharing a common trajedy: one that had already occurred, one that was inevitable.
Sales of the award-winning book that tells the tale of this treehouse have been creeping upward lately–no doubt from people discovering that this is by far one of the best holiday gifts ideas ever. If you would like to learn more or buy an autographed copy, please visit TMCBooks.com, or Amazon.com.
In November 2005 we spent a long and frantic day with the film crew of the HGTV show “Look What I Did!” After hours under the hot lights and endless re-takes (“Now, this time, put more emphasis on the word ‘screwdriver’ and don’t pick your nose), lousy take-out food for lunch, and countless trips up and down the drawbridge, the crew finally pulled out of the driveway with a promise to make us famous.
And now their handiwork will be shown for all to see. To find out more about the HGTV spot, click this link: See the treehouse on HGTV, or tune in to HGTV on Sunday, November 19, at 6:30 (EST) for a virtual tour of the Uppermost House!
And don’t forget to check out the award-winning book we wrote about this crazy building: Treehouse Chronicles: One Man’s Dream of Life Aloft.
The treehouse, and the book that tells its story, Treehouse Chronicles: One Man’s Dream of Life Aloft, have just been featured on the Unites States Chess Federation website. A chess problem was set up in the treehouse (the second floor was designed just to play chess) and members of the USCF were asked to try to solve it. The distraction of having the problem set up on a chess set that looks like something out of the Lord of the Rings, didn’t seem to bother anyone, as several people solved the problem quickly. If you would like to try your hand, here’s the link to the USCF site.
Our thanks to Jennifer Shahade, two-time American women’s chess champion, for working with us on this cool idea. We met Jennifer earlier this year at Book Expo America in Washington DC, (where we went to pick up two national book awards for Treehouse Chronicles–see the awards page in the sidebar), and we immediately hit it off. If you are interested in chess, please check out her book, Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport.