Friday, February 10, 2023

The Pterrible Pteranodon Available for Sale

All the copies of The Pterrible Pteranodon from the Kickstarter campaign were delivered in time for Christmas. I received several emails from people who not only read the book, but really enjoyed it. That's  the kind of encouragement any author loves to recieve.

If you're interested in purchasing a copy for yourself, I encourage you to do so through one of your local, independent book stores. will help you find a local indie bookseller and allow you to order The Pterrible Pteranodon through them. I'm a big fan of indie book stores and encourage everyone to help support them.

However, there's always the Amazon option for both the hardback & paperback editions. (And, no, I have no idea why Amazon resellers are selling three copies of the hardback for over $20. That's just crazy.)

-- Tom

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The Final Four Days on Kickstarter!


Long story short: I wrote a book, spent 5 years working with agents before signing with one who shopped my book around for another year, then, when it failed to find a publishing house, it was considered dead. 

 Now, as Lockdown is coming to a (hopeful) close, I'm going through Kickstarter to fund the publication of the book. Thanks to Heather Kelly of Pocket Moon Press (who is coordinating the printing &  distribution, indie illustrator Bob Thibeault (who did the cover artwork), and Rebecca Evans who did the interior design, this edition is something I'm very proud of. It really is a terrific-looking book!


 Then, much to my surprise, two things happened this past week: Kickstarter named it as a Project We Love and, the next day, we reached our initial funding goal — meaning the book will be published!

I'm seriously blown away by this. And very humbled by the belief and support people have shown me. Now, in the last four days, we're looking to raise some additional money to pay Bob to do some interior illustrations. So far, we've raised enough for 3 illustrations. I'm hoping we can do up to 12 or more. If you're interested in looking at the project, here's the link:


Sunday, June 28, 2020

Hilary Price's Rhymes with Orange 

The final chapter of The Pterrible Pteranodon was posted almost a month ago. At the start of the project I set a goal for myself: post one chapter per day until the book was completed. Each chapter took anywhere from ten to twenty-five minutes to read, then sometimes twice as long to edit.*

Still, I was able to complete the goal: 30 chapters in 30 days.

When the last chapter was posted, I felt a mix of accomplishment and Now What? The latter was the one that hung over me, nagging at me to choose a next project to work on.**

Looking at the Powers Beyond Their Steam podcast today, here's what the download stats look like:

Stats for my Powers Beyond Their Steam podcast as of 6/28/20
677 downloads is pretty danged impressive, if I say so myself. But I'm also realizing the podcast has all but run its course with the limited audience of my friends who have chosen to listen. I need to something -- or some things -- to keep it alive and moving.

So, I've decided on two things:

  • Learn about self-promotion, starting with writing a Press Release to send out and
  • Do the extensive re-writes needed to get the second book in the series ready to be read and posted as a second free, serialized podcast.

I'll post more about both of these in the coming weeks as they progress.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please leave them for me!  I'd love to know what you think.

-- Tom

* At the very end of Chapter 28, the penultimate chapter, I added in one such bit of edited-out misreading mixed with me berating myself for the mistake. I love seeing blooper reels at the end of movies and I wish I had added more of them to the chapters. Mind you, most of the edited out mistakes also involve a variety of not-so-family-friendly words.

** Luckily, I'm also a regular contributor of board game reviews over at, a great web site with over 20 board game enthusiasts who write reviews, articles, conduct interviews, and do the occasional humor piece as well. I had two games that needed writing up, including the brilliant Pyramid Arcade, a game that is actually 22 games in one box.  If you like games or have bored kids at home, you should definitely check it out.

Monday, May 18, 2020


Okay, people: I am both gobsmacked and humbled. 

Thus far I've sent out:

  • One rambling, poorly worded email about the serialized podcast to a great many friends (one where, as one friend pointed out, I completely failed to say anything about what kind of story I had written or who the audience was) 
  • One General FriendFace* post, meaning those who fell within the FriendFace algorithm for the moment it was posted who then saw it.
  • Another FriendFace post that was tagged with the names of my former students (from the days when I was an Elementary School Librarian) who I have been FriendFace friends with.

For those keeping score (i.e. Me), that's 174 downloads in about two weeks to over five different countries. 

Yes, I'm proud; yes, I'm thankful.  And, yes, I'm both bewildered by the numbers, and I am truly thankful for those who have said how much they're enjoying the story.

A new chapter is going up each day. 

Please consider giving it a listen if you haven't.  If you have kids who are bored and are looking for something different to entertain themselves with, have them give it a listen and send me questions.  I'm more than happy to respond!


* The IT Crowd, S03 E05, written and directed by series creator Graham Linehan, who I  would love to meet one day but would, undoubtedly, be embarrassingly awkward around.  Unless many drinks were involved.  Then I'd embarrass myself by being the unabashed fanboy that I am concerning his work, desperately hoping he'd catch the Wayne's World "I Am Not Worthy" adulations I would undoubtedly bestow upon him in my very crass American way.   I mean, seriously, the man created/wrote Father Ted, Black Books, and The IT Crowd! 

If none of these are familiar to you, The Google Is Your Friend. Trust me on this.

Friday, May 8, 2020

So I Made a Thing

Powers Beyond Their Steam image
I freely admit I'm not very good at logos.

When the Stay at Home orders started spreading and public schools were being closed around the country I wanted to do... something.  I thought about this and decided that one of the things I learned about myself when I was a children's librarian at two elementary schools was that I read picture/kids books pretty danged well.

I collected all of my picture/kids books and cleaned up an area in my room so I could have a reasonable space to video myself reading.

Then I read where my Writer's Loft friend, Josh Funk was having to ask permission of his publisher to read some of his own books online.  Then LeVar Burton posted to Instagram, lamenting that he couldn't bring back Reading Rainbow to read to kids during these Interesting Times due to copyright restrictions.

Burton, being Reading Rainbow Famous, managed to quickly get permission from Neil Gaiman and several publishers.  Me, I'm just a former librarian who would quickly accumulate Cease and Desist orders and whose videos would be stricken from YouTube for copyright infringement.

After about a week it occurred to me that there is one book that I do have full rights over.  It's the book I started this blog for, the book that got me an agent but was Friendzoned into obscurity by publishing houses that all Liked but didn't Love it.

I dusted off the manuscript and tried videoing myself reading the first few chapters.

Yeah.  So.

Then I switched over to just recording the audio for the chapters.  That went much better.  So much better that after recording the first nine chapters I've started posting them as a free, serialized podcast through podbean.

They can be found through:

iTunes Podcasts



Please feel free to listen and leave comments.  I'd love to know what you think of the story, the characters, and my embarrassing British accents.

-- Tom

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Candlewick Podcast Interview with Kate DiCamillo

Candlewick Press Presents

Candlewick Press has a podcast where the speak with Candlewick authors about their craft, their visions, and their processes.

Their interview with Kate DiCamillo has two bits of wisdom that I'd like to share:


"So, the way I work is I do the First draft, which looks like something somebody who is certifably insane wrote it.  It has very little coherence and it's just kind of like a rough map of where I'm going to go.  So I get that out and I don't pay any attention to how it sounds or anything. 

Then I go back, after letting it sit for a bit and do a Second draft, which does has some shape.  Now I'm still getting the story right and the words aren't exactly right. 

Third draft, I know the story a little bit better and now I can concentrate on the words more.

Fourth draft is where I'm actually happiest because it's just like I'm fine-tuning it but nobody else has seen it yet, but it's really starting to become itself.

So then forth or fifth draft is where I'll start to let people who I trust look at it.  It's not done.  'Is this a thing?' is a question I always ask myself. 'Does it seem real and necessary?' And that's the only question I want them to answer and if not, if it's not those things, then it's not working.

And then I'll do the Sixth draft and that is usually when it goes to to my agent, and then from my agent to my editor."


@ 15:15

"There's that thing that Anne Patchett talks about where you have this beautiful vision in your head, this beautiful book that you're going to write, and the minute that you put the first word down on the page you compromise that vision.  You can never capture that beautiful thing that's in your head. And so it's like letting go of the dream of perfection and just doing the best you can do."

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Better People

Front window of Magic City Books in Tulsa, OK
(Quote by Magic City Books co-founder Cindy Hulsey)

"Our brains like reading.  It lets us experience life.  ...I think it makes us better people."

-- Cindy Hulsey

I saw this photo/quote last week in Shelf Awareness Pro, a publishing industry newsletter and immediately agreed with it. 

Much of my life is spent passively reacting to the world around me.  There are, however, those things that shake me loose from that numbness and bring me back into this miracle world.

There are things that make me want to be a better person.  Books.  Music.  Writting.  Photography.  People.  Cats.  Day Lilies. 

These are things that actively make their mark on me as I actively spend time with them, seeing my world anew.  How can I not want to be a better person?


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Sometimes the Words Stop Coming At All

Peanuts ® Charles Schultz

For the past month or so the words have just stopped coming altogether.

I'm trying to find my way through music, but music is still something of a foreign language.  And despite new, cheap fountain pens, words have disappeared.  Well, my words, new words, have disappeared.

All that's left to do is to try a little patience.  And then some more patience. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018



This is a story about my puppy dog Bjorn.

 There are lots of stories about Bjorn, but before I tell the story I came here to tell you about, let me give you an aside (surprise!) that gives you a bit about his background: Bjorn was a true rescue dog. As a puppy he was bought by a man who wanted a viscous guard dog. Instead, he got the most friendly-spirited German Shepard puppy in the county.

 Frustrated, he gave "Rex" away to his son, a firefighter who lived down the road from us. "Rex" lived somewhere beside the firefighter's trailer and spent his days escaping from whatever enclosure he was in -- until he got hit by a car. At that point, said firefighter tied "Rex" to a small tree in the open space of his land in the heat of the summer. After getting complaints from the neighbors about "Rex's" whining and crying all day long, he moved "Rex" to a bigger tree in the shade.

 A month or so later a UPS driver delivered something to Bonn at the old farmhouse where we used to live. The driver arrived in tears, telling Bonn how she had seen a dog starving and pleading with her when she delivered a package. Bonn drove down and confirmed the awful conditions this skinny, malnourished German Shepard was barely living under. When I got home, she told me about him. I didn't need to think about it. "Let's go," I said.

 The situation was worse than I had imagined. He'd been starved and left without water for weeks. Maybe months. We poured a half gallon of water we'd brought with us into a bowl. He finished off all of it without coming up for water. "What are we going to do?" Bonn asked. "Well, I guess we have ourselves a dog," I replied.

 One end of a rope tied was around a tree, the other end was around his neck. He'd paced nervously around in circles so much that the rope had twisted and twisted until I couldn't get my finger underneath the rope around his neck. I cut the rope just past his neck with a knife and then proceeded to write a note to the firefighter that I taped to his door.

 The firefighter called later that night to explain that the dog was "in his teenage years" and might eat everything we put in front of him (surprise); the next day the vet said the dog was about a week away from dying from dehydration and starvation.

Bjorn on stairs
Bjorn, slightly older than in the photo above.

So much for the background. Here's the story I came to tell you about today. Bjorn -- I quickly named him after Bjorn Borg, a tennis player I'd grown up knowing because our Bjorn's first toys were tennis balls, which he absolutely loved running full-tilt after in our big yard -- lived most of his early years on the land around an old farmhouse. After a while we all moved to a house in the Raleighwood suburbs where Bjorn had a big backyard to run around in.

 Suddenly, there were new, suburban sounds for him to figure out. The best of these were fire engines. His first few times hearing fire engines, Bjorn was confused. He couldn't quite figure them out. There was... something there that he was trying to remember, trying to recognize, trying to connect with. 

Finally, one day, the far-off wailing sound of the fire engines reached deep within his subconscious genetic code and spoke to the distant wolf inside of him. And Bjorn began to howl. Bjorn howled in unison with the sirens, in sympathy, in heartfelt sorrow and fellowship with those sirens. His eyes would glaze over and he was transported by his becoming one with that primeval howl, that call to something lost, something missing. That just-out-of-reach longing.

 At first we were perplexed by this howling. I loved my Bjorn-e-o and worked to understand the depths behind it. Soon, I started joining in with the showing with him. At first he was somewhat taken aback by this big pink monkey doing his best to howl alongside of him. That soon dissipated, though. He understood that I was trying (as best I could) to howl along with him for all of those missing pieces, those empty spaces in my soul, adding my voice to the chorus of all of the others who felt the same way.

  ADDENDUM 1: The kids next door had two young dogs who started joining in with Bjorn whenever a fire engine siren started wailing in the distance. They never knew why they were doing it, they were just joining in with that cool dog next door in his howling. After Bjorn died and went to that great Crab Shack in the Sky, both of the next door neighbor dogs still howled every time a siren went by down the main road two blocks away.

  ADDENDUM 2: I still howl with the sirens sometimes. And when I do, I can hear my Bjorn howling with me. Arooooooooooooooooo...

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Stories I Tell; Stories I Don't Tell

"And I wasn't looking for heaven or hell
Just someone to listen to stories I tell"

--Toad the Wet Sprocket "Stories I Tell"

As an author in search of a story I look for characters and a situation that grabs me.  I need  something different, something that makes me curious, makes me want to know more about them. 

In short, I want a story I'd like to read.

One of the best-known writer tropes is to Write What You Know.  My problem with that is that I don't find my own stories all that compelling.  At best, they might make for amusing anecdotes; at worst they show what an insensitive and flawed human I am.  Neither of these create that spark in me that makes me want to know more.  I already know about me.  Even if I were to attribute my actions to a fictionalized version of myself, I don't know of a resolution that wouldn't ring false with me*.

Most of us can look around us and see strangers and make up stories about them -- brief vignettes of what they're doing, who they're going to meet and why, what secrets they're keeping, what they really want in life.  These are fun distractions, but I've never had one spark into an idea for a story I wanted/needed to tell.

Then there are stories/parts of stories I know about friends, family, acquaintances.  These are often exactly the type of deeply moving stories that reflect the kind of vulnerability and a struggle for the kind of positive resolution we, as readers, want our storied friends made of typeface and our imaginations to find.  For me, even if I tried to change and disguise the people and the events, this comes away as something of a betrayal of the confidence under which I learned about the story.

Some stories are not mine to tell.

One of the best things about being a writer, from my perspective, is finding the right story, the right characters, the right setting, and having them all come together in my head.  That's often a long, frustrating process.  Like now, for instance.

Then, of course, there's finding someone to read and appreciate those stories.

(But that's another post for another day.)

"Now what is a blessing and what is a dream
Caught between portraits and none's what it seems
And why is it people expect there's a change
When I feel I'm a part of something I can't see
I feel the same"

--Toad the Wet Sprocket  "Stories I Tell"