I'm not the most sociable of people. If my wife offers me a choice of going to a party or staying home with my computer, the computer is going to win nearly every time. However, in the rare instances when I really click with someone, there is nothing better. It has happened to me only a few times in my life, and since I move so much, I have only two real-life best friends that still keep in touch regularly. With them I never have to make small talk. I can talk forever about my hobbies and they won't get bored; they will actually encourage me. So, thanks Mike D. and Gary L., you really make life better!
Mike is a very creative person. We got a little band together when we lived in Zagreb, Croatia. It never went anywhere (we could never find a singer), but it was great fun jamming to old Led Zeppelin songs. I was always awed that Mike could apparently play everything -- drums, bass, guitar, harmonica. He would even try to sing, though it's better not to go there.
Well, once when I visited Mike in Maryland he surprised me with a book with the following cover:
(NOTE: This was before I had written the story!! I had only talked with him about what I intended to write.)
It turned out to be a random novel that he had wrapped this cover mock-up around. It felt good to see my 'book'. I hate to nitpick when he put so much effort into it (and the cover art he found is really great, very appropriate to the colorings that I prefer in fantasy art), but the awards he listed are for sci-fi books rather than fantasy, and even though my series eventually turns to sci-fi, for now it is just a fantasy. I don't feel the font and coloring worked for the title, either, but having tried to do that myself a couple of times, I know just how hard it is to get right. What wowed me the most was his made-up blurb on the back cover. It isn't professional quality and has a few too many cliches, but he essentially got my story right (I must point out, though, that the boy is not a farm boy. Even I wouldn't push the cliches that far!). This was one of the best gifts a friend has ever given me!