Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Friday, January 1, 2016

Once Again, Neil Gaiman Says It Best

May 2016 be filled with Good Madness and may you continually surprise yourself in the best of ways.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Maggie Stiefvater and FAST Cars

In what seems like another lifetime ago my wife and I met up with Maggie Stiefvater and her husband when they were driving through the Raleigh, NC area and took them to a wildlife conservation center where we spent a year volunteering at.

Like my wife's fascination with cars, I don't exactly get Maggie's love of cars -- especially FAST cars -- but I do love a good story from someone I know.

After all, isn't this what writing and sharing time with friends is all about?  Telling and creating good stories?

-- Tom

15 Minutes a Day

Jacques Francois Duvall oversees my work on replacing the back porch stairs.
As usual, he isn't impressed.

The Book is still in the hands of Acquisitions Editors at Publishing Houses across the country.  All of the editors who have read and responded thus far have liked the book and the characters but none of them have been willing to make an offer on the manuscript.

Life, eh?

So, while the dust is collecting on The Book I've started preliminary work on The Other Book.  I have most of the characters sketched out in my head along with the basic storyline.  I've keyed most of this into Scrivener, which seems a good place to keep track of virtual notecards that I can access online.  (I have the files on Dropbox, meaning I can access them from a variety of computers)  With most of the groundwork done it's time to start actually writing the thing.

At this point I'm still something of a reluctant writer.  Writing isn't easy to begin with and since I'm still feeling frustrated by the Endless Revisions from The Book diving back into writing anything comes with a healthy dose of suspicious hesitations.

What has helped me thus far has been an app called CoachMe*.  It's basically a reminder app with many pre-set reminders while allowing you to create your own.  The pre-set reminders also have Forums where you can ask questions and find support for whatever you're looking for help with.

One such group is "Write for 15 minutes each day."  I've never been able to commit to writing every day because I've seen it as a large time commitment that doesn't easily fit in with my work and home schedule.  I looked at this CoachMe reminder and thought, "I can handle 15 minutes a day."  And, for the most part, so far I have.

It's been enough to get The Other Book plotted out and some of the problems worked out in my head.  Even small, incremental progress is progress.

-- Tom

* CoachMe is a free app for both iOS and Android.  The reminders are free as are the Forums.  They have live Life Coaches available for hire if you're looking for more individualized, personal help.  I am in no way associated with this app or anyone working for them (as best I know).

Friday, September 4, 2015

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast: The School Appreciation Video

My Internet Buddy, Josh Funk, has had his first (of many) picture books, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast, published this month.  He's already had a fantastic response from schools including the Richland County Elementary School in Olney, IL.

After a Skype conversation with Josh, the school celebrated and put together a video they shared on The You Tubes.

To me, this is one of the most amazing things an author can receive by way of thanks and celebration for writing a great book.

Wiping some errant dust from the corner of my eye, I send out Major Congrats to Josh.  Well Earned and Well Deserved, sir.

-- Tom

Friday, August 14, 2015

Felicia Day and How the Writing Journey is Worth It

"You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)"by Felicia Day
I'm currently reading Felicia Day's memoir, "You're Never Weird on the Internet."  Despite being a generation or two older than Day, I greatly appreciate how her unique and quirky upbringing led her to be both the very talented and very unsure-of-herself (i.e. human) person she is.

Here's a great section from her book that I read this afternoon on the busride home that I felt was more than worth passing along:

“The next morning, I sat down at my computer and took a deep breath. “I will write a TV pilot before January 1. It may be the worst script ever written, but I will finish it, or . . . there isn’t any ‘or,’ stupid girl. It will happen. This pilot will happen.” And I started typing. 
I would love to say that given my resolve, the muses flowed through my fingertips to produce a script of utter perfection. That once I put pressure on myself, I rose to the occasion and found joy in every bit of dialogue I gave my characters.
That is NOT the case. 
Every second of writing that script felt like walking barefoot over shards of glass. I would write a bit and then I would sob, wanting desperately to erase what I’d just written. Oh God, that’s not a scene, no one acts like that. I have no idea what to make happen, who should talk next? I hate myself. Then I would force my fingers to type more, every word feeling like I was bleeding from every orifice. I was engulfed with fear of making mistakes, of writing something stupid, of encountering story problems “I couldn’t think my way out of. I was, in short, terrified of the process. It was not fun.
What drove me to continue? Sheer obstinate grit... 
“If ideas flow out of you easily like a chocolate fountain, bless you, and skip to the next chapter. But if you’re someone like me, who longs to create but finds the process agonizing, here’s my advice: 
  • Find a group to support you, to encourage you, to guilt you into DOING. If you can’t find one, start one yourself. Random people enjoy having pancakes.

  • Make a goal. Then strike down things that are distracting you from that goal, especially video games. (Unless it’s this book; finish reading it and THEN start.) 

  • Put the fear of God into yourself. Okay, I’m not religious. Whatever spiritual ideas float your boat. Read some obituaries, watch the first fifteen minutes of Up, I don’t care. Just scare yourself good. You have a finite number of toothpaste tubes you will ever consume while on this planet. Make the most of that clean tooth time. For yourself.
The creative process isn’t easy, even for chocolate-fountain people. It’s more like a wobbly, drunken journey down a very steep and scary hill, not knowing if there’s a sheer cliff at the end of it all. But it’s worth the journey, I promise."

Felicia Day is exactly the type of woman/gamer/person we need telling kids (and adults) of today that being different is not only okay, but important and valued.  She's also the kind of writer other writers need to hear speak the truth about how difficult and downright soul-shatteringly painful the writing process can be.

And, of course, that the writing journey is totally worth it.

-- Tom

Friday, July 24, 2015

Susan Jane Gilman: There Is No Lightning Bolt

I've been a fan of Susan Jane Gilman's writing since I read her memoirs Hypocrite In a Pouffy White Dress and Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven -- books I read based on a single quote from her former high school writing teacher Frank McCourt who said, “Thank you, O Lord, for sending us Susan Gilman’s tales.”

I have to say I agree.

Gilman gave a Ted X Talk in Zurich earlier this year and the talk has just been posted to The YouTubes.  It is well worth watching for artist and/or anyone who contemplates making art.

Seriously, you should watch it.

-- Tom

Thursday, July 23, 2015

An Unquestionable Love for Black Cats

In some ways Max reminds me of my Ani -- although even as a kitten my Ani would have known better than to not believe a mouse.  She was bound and determined to go adventuring even before her eyes had opened, relying on her sense of smell to see her through.

Still, I'm very likely to be picking up a copy of Max all the same.

-- Tom

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Magic of Platform 9 3/4

Platform 9 3/4
King's Cross Station
London, 2006

Back in 2006 I went to England and Scotland for the first time.  I got a chance to see the homelands of my ancestors as well as meet some LiveJournal friends in real life.  I spent two weeks alternately trying to not look too much like a tourist and spending far too much time with a camera in front of my face.

One evening we were in King's Cross station.  As we walked into the platform area where we were to catch our train, I had one of those not-quite-deja-vu experiences where I knew I had seen this place before, but not exactly the way I was seeing it. 

Looking up, I saw a huge clock above the platform.  "That clock!" I called out to Bonn. "I know that clock!  This is where part of the first Harry Potter film was shot!"

I felt a tap at my shoulder.  Turning around, a woman wearing a King's Cross Station uniform gave me a bemused smile and pointed off to our left. 

I had walked right past half-a-cart in the brick wall with the sign "Platform 9 3/4" above it.

It takes a lot for me to become the squeeling fanboy, but (much to Bonn's embarrasment) that was one of those moments.

Almost ten years later, the most lasting part of that moment is the sense of amazement that came with a piece of visceral, important fiction coming to life.  Even if only for a moment, that platform and the disappearing cart was real.  And as one of the millions who read the Harry Potter series and longed for it to be real, there is something truly magical about that.

-- Tom