T.C. Harrelson's Blog
March 10, 2015
May 13, 2013
Well, it’s official. I’m no longer under contract with a publishing company. I’m going rogue!
From now on, all of my titles will be self-published.
What exactly does that mean? For one thing, cheaper books for you!
You see, the publishing world is evolving. Amazon (and their subsidiary company CreateSpace) provides all the tools I need to become my own publisher. I can format them for Smashwords and get into all the same distribution channels as a traditional publishing company. In fact, I’ve done that already with a book of short stories entitled Stories for Halloween Night. And I have full control of quality, distribution, price-point… the works.
Self-published books are cheap. A self-published book in print is 50% – 75% lower than the cost of a traditionally published book. An e-book is usually priced between $0.00 – $2.99. That’s better for the consumer!
So this author doesn’t see a “down side” to his decision to become independent. I’ll still write good stories and I’ll produce quality books for the buyer. But they’ll be cheaper and they’ll be exactly the vision I have for the reader.
So here’s to going rogue… it’s about time!
May 12, 2013
On this Mother’s Day, I’d like to share a wonderful story written by CNN Contributor Bob Greene about a teacher who so touched her students’ lives back in 1958 they gave her a Mother’s Day card. Ms. Twyford is her name and she’s now 86 years old. And, no, that’s not a typo… it’s Ms. Twyford. She’s never been married and the card given to her from her fifth grade students was the only Mother’s Day card she’s ever received.
It’s fitting that Teacher Appreciation week culminates with Mother’s Day, because a good teacher may be the closest thing to a good mother some students ever experience. So here’s to all the mothers—and teachers—who touch our lives.
A Mother’s Day card for Miss Twyford
By Bob Greene, CNN Contributor
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Sun May 12, 2013
Back in 1958 when she was Miss Twyford, Geraldine Twyford Ferguson received this card signed by her 5th grade class
Bob Greene: Former classmate’s fifth-grade teacher sent copy of 1958 Mother’s Day card
Students had given the card to Miss Twyford, beloved teacher who had no children
Greene: Miss Twyford says she treasures card; only Mother’s Day card she’s received
Greene: She’s taught 700 kids; all would surely say: Happy Mother’s Day, Miss Twyford
Editor’s note: CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a bestselling author whose 25 books include “Late Edition: A Love Story”; “Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen”; and “When We Get to Surf City: A Journey Through America in Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship, and Dreams.”
(CNN) – The letter in the U.S. mail came as a surprise.
Not the return address — Cathy Sadler had been corresponding with her old fifth-grade teacher for several years, so she recognized the address of the retirement community in Dublin, Ohio.
But when Sadler, who lives in North Carolina, opened the envelope, she found something she wasn’t expecting.
It was a photocopy of an old Mother’s Day card.
There were many signatures on the card. She found her own name among them. She was Cathy Holt back then, a fifth-grader at Montrose Elementary School in Bexley, Ohio.
Miss Twyford had been the teacher. That’s how all of her students, all of the 10- and 11-year-olds in that 1958 classroom, referred to her. Geraldine Twyford was her full name.
“She’s still Miss Twyford to me,” Cathy Sadler, now 65, told me the other day. “She was such a wonderful teacher — she brought such excitement and enthusiasm to her job. You could tell she wasn’t just going through the motions. She loved teaching. My own love of history started in that classroom.”
Her admiration for Miss Twyford is what led Sadler to seek her out and start writing to her. At 86, Miss Twyford chooses not to use e-mail — she writes her letters in elegant longhand.
The old card — the kind you would buy at a drugstore– featured the embossed message: “You’re such a sweet person, So thoughtful and kind, That days such as this, Always bring you to mind. Happy Mother’s Day.”
Surrounding those words were all the signatures — written neatly in fountain pen, in children’s script. The names were of the students in Miss Twyford’s class: Arloa Shultz, Kent Kellner, Paula Young, Susan Bryant, Joe Sebring, Sherry Lamp, Maury Topolosky, many more. There was the signature of one child — Alan (Peewee) Meyers, is what he wrote — a sprightly, friendly boy who, three years later, would lose his life in an automobile accident.
Miss Twyford, in 1958, was unmarried and had no children. Yet the boys and girls had decided to present her with the Mother’s Day card.
And she had saved it for all these years.
Geraldine Twyford Ferguson
I called her last week at the retirement community in Ohio. She has been a widow since 2011; at age 39 she married Bob Ferguson, an electrical engineer in the aeronautics field, and they remained wed for 46 years until his death. “I’m not Mrs. Ferguson to my old students,” she said. “I’m always Miss Twyford. Which is fine with me.”
I asked her about the card.
“I was surprised, and so touched, that they would give that to me,” she said. She said that she had kept it in a “treasure chest” — a footlocker where she has preserved all of her most precious memories.
“To me, the card meant that the boys and girls knew how much I cared for them,” she said. “As a teacher, you always hope that you mean something to the children, and you hope that they understand how much they matter to you.
“As I look at the card from time to time, I see also that it is a sign that we accomplished one of our goals that year. In the fifth grade, students were expected to learn how to write in cursive, in ink. When you use ink, in a fountain pen, there is no erasing, no way to cover your mistakes. So I think they were showing that to me, too.”
She told me that she grew up an only child in Gratiot, Ohio, a town of just 250 people. She said that a career teaching fifth grade — she spent 30 years doing it — was a full and satisfying way to spend her life. At Montrose Elementary, where she taught for 16 of those years, she said her classroom was on the top floor, overlooking Main Street.
“It was Route 40,” she said. “The old National Road. I would tell the boys and girls to look out the window at the cars on the street, and to try to imagine the covered wagons moving west all those years ago, right there, carrying people who had left everything behind to start a new life.”
The main reason she has kept the Mother’s Day card, she said, was a simple one:
“I never had children of my own.
“It is the only Mother’s Day card I ever received.”
She said that, as a teacher, “You sometimes look out into your classroom and silently think, ‘I wonder what will happen to them when they grow up.’ ”
Fifty-five years later, it is a Sunday in May again.
She is 86, and on her own.
In those 30 years of teaching, more than 700 boys and girls moved through her classrooms.
I know every person who signed that card; I know those who are living, and I knew those who have passed away.
And on this, I think I can safely speak for all of them.
The words on the card still hold true:
“. . .So thoughtful and kind, That days such as this, Always bring you to mind.”
Happy Mother’s Day, Miss Twyford.
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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bob Greene.
May 9, 2013
Exciting news! I’ve officially entered the world of self-publishing!
Stories for Halloween Night is now available online at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million in both print and e-book formats. Stories is a book of 3 short stories written for young adult readers. They’re scary… but not too scary.
“The Whistler” is a young girl’s tale of Halloween terror at the hands of a faceless legend.
“The Girl from the Other Side” is a story of envy and magic in separate dimensions.
In “The Thing at the Foot of the Bed,” a loathsome creature of despicable horror terrorizes a young, bedridden soldier.
The e-book is only $0.99 and the print version is $5.99 ($3.94 on B&N site). I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I enjoyed writing them.
Why did I want to self-publish Stories for Halloween Night? In a word, control.
Since my debut young adult novel The Beast of Macon Hollow was published by Second Wind Publishing in October 2012, I’ve been toying with the idea of venturing into the self-publishing world. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the process. Amazon’s CreateSpace now gives any writer the ability to become his own publisher even if he/she possesses only basic computer skills.
But the best part? The author is in control. I can control the quality of the final product, the cover design, the release schedule, and even the price. I like the sound of that!
Some authors have achieved phenomenal success. I’ve especially been inspired by Hugh Howey’s story. His e-book Wool, a serialized science fiction novella, grew so popular with readers that the large publishing houses came calling. He now has a contract with Simon and Schuster in which he retained the e-book rights (a one-of-a-kind deal!). And… (drum roll) Howey just sold the rights to THE Ridley Scott, the director of Alien, Blade Runner, and Prometheus.
My sincere congratulations to Mr. Howey for a wonderful success story. And thanks to his inspiration, I decided to give self-publishing a shot. Thus Stories for Halloween Night is my first step into this world.
How do I like the results?
So far, so good. But I’d love to hear from you!
You can help make Stories for Halloween Night another success story by clicking here on your favorite booksellers icon here!
May 8, 2013
Yesterday, Hollywood lost one of its foremost authorities on special effects, Mr. Ray Harryhausen. His creature effects have appeared in 17 films, beginning in 1953 with “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.” He went on to supply the effects for the “Jason and the Argonauts,” the “Sinbad” movies, and “Clash of the Titans” in 1981. Why was Mr. Harryhausen considered a legend?
Before the advent of digital effects, or computer generated images, filmmakers had to rely on physical effects. Mr. Harryhausen’s specialty was stop-motion animation. After sculpting life-like scale models of everything from a giant octopus, mythological gods, and sword-fighting skeletons, Harryhausen photographed the figures in continuous poses. When the film was played at full speed, the figures appeared to freely move.The technique was basically the same method employed by traditional pen-and-ink animators, such as Walt Disney’s nine old men. What separated Ray Harryhausen’s work from other stop-motion animators was the life he breathed into his characters. George Lucas, who used the same methods in the original Star Wars trilogy, said, ”I had seen some other fantasy films before, but none of them had the kind of awe that Ray Harryhausen’s movies had.”
I also appreciated Mr. Harryhausen’s work. Having grown up reading Famous Monsters of Filmland, a pulp magazine dedicated to the great horror and sci-fi films of a by-gone era, I was quite familiar with his films. And thanks to FM’s behind-the-scenes look at movie-making, I was also an admirer. In fact, I’m still in awe of what he was able to accomplish with simple sculpted figures, time, and a lot of patience.
Thank you, Mr. Harryhausen, for bringing a little magic to all of us.
April 26, 2013
December 27, 2012
Many thanks to Ginger King, author of Carolina Wine Country Cooking, for including me in The Next Big Thing blog series. Ginger, you rock!
Christmas 2012 is now behind us. Many of us will use this time of year—the week between Christmas Day and New Years Day—to reflect upon the many ups and downs of the passing year. Though I’ve had my share of memorable moments in 2012 (my debut novel The Beast of Macon Hollow was published!), I’m looking forward to the many surprises 2013 may bring.
So here’s a look forward at my upcoming projects as well as a little about The Beast of Macon Hollow.
What is the working title of your book (or story)?
The Beast of Macon Hollow, Book 2: Rise of the Apollyons
Where did the idea come from for the book?
It’s the natural progression of the characters and plot lines of The Beast of Macon Hollow. There were some intriguing ideas brought to light near the end of the book that were worth exploring with a second (and maybe third) book.
What genre does your book fall under?
Young adult fiction, for the most part. But I try to write in a way that all age groups can enjoy the character development and action sequences. The Beast books will always have strong characters, elements of the supernatural, and some science fiction.
What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
The Beast protagonists—Will Shepard and Cate Duncan—will need to be young, up-and-coming actors that need their big break. For the character of Howard Macon, I’ve always envisioned an Alec Baldwin-type. For Rufus Jackson, the rough-and-tumble everyman that figures prominently in the events of Beast, Michael Rooker would be perfect.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
For The Beast of Macon Hollow: After moving to Macon Hollow, fifteen-year-old Will Shepard is drawn into a deadly struggle with a legendary creature known as the Beast and with those who want to control it for their own evil purposes.
For Rise of the Apollyons: Will Shepard must once again find the courage to face his destiny: this time in the form of the remaining apollyons and the menacing force behind them!
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The Beast of Macon Hollow was published by Second Wind Publishing.
How long will it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
That is a good question. It depends upon the time I have to devote toward it. My goal is to complete it in 2013.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
As far as the overall plot—boy with a problem or boy vs. monster—I would compare to a number of young adult books by highly acclaimed authors, such as Rick Riordan and J.K. Rowling.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The Beast of Macon Hollow was born because my wife dared me to write a story about our hometown’s legend, the Beast of Bladenboro. But when I began to actually explore this creature, Macon Hollow’s beast took control of my keyboard and proceeded to reveal itself to me in startling detail. The result is its story. I may go back and actually write another book on the original beast. For Rise of the Apollyons, my inspiration is to further explore these characters and plot lines and see what adventures I can find!
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
I strove to make The Beast of Macon Hollow a story with rich characters and settings that will allow the reader to become a part of Macon Hollow. For instance, Will Shepard has been a victim for much of his life—physically bullied by his peers and verbally bullied by his father. It’s through facing his destiny—the Beast—that he faces and overcomes his fears of life. Also, Will’s sister, Liz, must take over the motherly duties after Will’s mother is killed by senseless violence. During the story, Liz reaches out to help another of life’s victims—a hearing-impaired character named Possum—and transforms his life through her kindness. These are just two of the characters that populate the Town of Macon Hollow.
For Rise of the Apollyons, the Beast goes global!
December 2, 2012
More exciting news from Macon Hollow! The Beast of Macon Hollow is now available on LitPick, an innovative website where teens and preteens can review young adult novels. LitPick’s mission is to help kids develop a lifelong love for reading by empowering them to share their opinions in a social community.
LitPick was started as Flamingnet.com by Seth Cassell in 2002 when he was in the fourth grade. Seth liked to read and he wanted a place to post his reviews. Since his dad created websites as a hobby, Flamingnet was born. As interest grew, so did the potential for reviewers. To meet the demand, LitPick was launched, allowing teens and preteens from all over the country to review the latest in young adult literature. Now, many schools are getting involved by registering entire English classes as reviewers. I hope you will consider being a reviewer, too.
I’m proud to be associated with LitPick. I don’t know about you, but the thought of our nation’s kids developing an interest in contemporary literature and sharing their ideas electronically is comforting to say the least. Now, it’s up to me and other writers to give them something worth talking about…
If you (or a young adult you know) are interested in reviewing The Beast of Macon Hollow, you can find it on the LitPick site:
November 14, 2012
I recently had the chance to talk about The Beast of Macon Hollow with author and blogger Pat Bertram. Here’s an excerpt from the conversation:
T.C.: The Beast of Macon Hollow is the story of Will Shepard’s connection to a legendary creature that haunts a small, isolated mountain town. Will has visions that force him to see-and feel-as the Beast embodies its victims’ greatest fears before consuming their souls. He soon realizes that he must fight to prevent his own soul from being corrupted as he searches for a way to stop the creature’s growing power. Along the way, he crosses paths with seedy characters, power-seekers, and supernatural forces.
I wrote Beast for teens and preteens, ages 10-16. Even though it contains chilling scenes and diabolical characters, at its core, the story is Will Shepard’s journey to replace his insecurities with inner strength. By the way, it contains no foul language or sexual connotations.
Pat: What inspired you to write this particular story?
T.C.: A few years ago, my wife and I were talking about the Beast of Bladenboro—the legend of our hometown. She suggested that I try my hand at writing the story behind the legend. However, once I started, the Beast had other ideas. It soon began to reveal layer after layer of its history and personality until a totally new story emerged. Maybe one day I’ll revisit the original beast and tell its tale.
Pat: Tell us a little about your main characters.
T.C.: Beast is Will Shepard’s story. Fifteen-year-old Will is emotionally broken when he arrives in Macon Hollow; he has just lost his mother to gang violence and his policeman father has been distant and verbally abusive. His arrival in Macon Hollow starts a chain of events that will force him to either overcome his inner fears or be consumed by them.
Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth (Liz) is Will Shepard’s older sister. Since their mother’s untimely death, she has assumed the mother role in Will’s life (much to his chagrin at times). Liz is smart, pretty, and eager to help with a good cause (as long as she can play by the rules).
Sixteen-year-old Cate Duncan lives next door to the Shepard ancestral home with her brother Marty. Beautiful, smart, and headstrong, Cate takes some convincing before she accepts the truth about Will’s connection to the Beast. But once she does, Will couldn’t have a better ally.
Seventeen-year-old Marty lives next door to Will and is Cate Duncan’s older brother. Athletic and handsome, Marty is ready and willing to help Will get to the bottom of the peculiar circumstances surrounding the Beast. They often spend their time in the Lookout, Marty’s remarkable tree house nestled within the boughs of a great oak.
Old and full of wisdom, Annie is Will Shepard’s moral compass. She sees what others can’t—that Will has been Summoned for a special task.
Pat: What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?
T.C.: The take-home message of Beast is simple: don’t allow others to define you.
Very often in life, we listen—and believe—the opinions of others to the point of shaping our lives around their perceptions of who we are. And if those perceptions happen to be very negative (as they were in Will Shepard’s case), our lives tend to be self-fulfilling prophesies. I propose a new approach: look within yourself to understand who you are. Only you can define your life. If you believe in yourself, then others will also.
Pat: Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?
T.C.: Wow, tough question. Beast has quite a few unusual characters. All of which were fun to write for, I must say. But, the most unusual character that was also the most likable would have to be Possum. Possum has a hearing and speech impairment that has made life in the backward town of Macon Hollow very difficult for him. As a result, he is shy and fearful of others. Somewhat of an outcast, you could say. But when kind-hearted Liz commits to teaching him American Sign Language, his heart begins to open. Will and the others will find out that Possum, like so many others who are overlooked by mainstream society, may have a vital role to play in the big story of life.
Pat: What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?
T.C.: Easily, the biggest challenge to writing Beast was overcoming a foe we all face sooner or later—time. As an author, I haven’t made it to the point financially that I can write as a full-time occupation. So, it’s a struggle for me to balance my day job, my family responsibilities and my social commitments and still write effectively. But, like we all do for the things we love, I find the time to write. Sometimes, I even make time. I have a machine out back.
You can find the full interview on Pat’s website: http://patbertram.wordpress.com/2012/...
November 7, 2012
Greetings! I come to you with news of the most exciting kind…The Beast of Macon Hollow, my debut young adult, has been released! It is now available for purchase from Second Wind Publishing and Amazon. In the coming week, Beast will also be available for Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Apple’s iBooks, on the Kobo website, and on Sony’s Reader Store website.
As many of you know, Beast is loosely based on our own local legend, the Beast of Bladenboro, and incorporates many of the eccentricities of the mill towns that were the lifeblood of the Old North State during the early to mid twentieth century. Although it’s a paranormal thriller that features chilling scenes and diabolical characters, Beast contains no foul language or sexual connotations. I wrote Beast for teens and preteens, ages 10-16.
After you finish reading Beast, I would love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to write a review on Amazon’s site or post it on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/tcharrelson). You can check it out at the following links: