44 out of 50

I'm not going to lie. Well, I mean, I might. I'm a writer. It's kind of my thing. Let's just say that if I do lie, it will be all in the interest of telling a good story. Good. Glad we got that settled.

Where was I? Oh, that's right. The not lying.

No, wait. That's not it. I mean, it was, but that's not....phhh.

Let's try this again.

Hi. I'm Todd. I'm a writer. And this is the obligatory what the fuck happened in 2018 and what am I going to differently in 2019 post that I know you have all been waiting for.

And by all, I mean maybe like 2 of you that were wondering if I would ever dust off this blog and throw some words up here.

To be honest, I wasn't sure I would. Not just the blog, though, I mean the whole wording thing at all.

Jeesh, Todd, that's a bit dramatic, don't you think?

Well, yeah. Maybe. But haven't you heard? Drama makes for great stories.

OK. Not really. But what does make for great stories is people who are struggling. And their challenges and missteps and little victories all on the way to solving and conquering those challenges. Right? Sure. We'll go with that.

Admittedly, this is all pretty much self-inflicted, but that's mostly beside the point. Mostly.

Riding the high from a really good writer's retreat, I was pumped for National Novel Writing Month. I had a new direction for my book and I was feeling good about it. I attended a pretty kick-ass kick off event and even managed to get some words in the first few days.

And then I stalled.

Seriously stalled.  I don't know really what else to call it. I found myself coming up with some really good reasons why I just couldn't make the 60+ minute drive to attend the write-ins hosted by my base writing group. It became easier to convince myself that it didn't make sense to sacrifice 2 hours of drive time that I could be writing. And so I did. I convinced myself that the time would be better spent writing.

Only I didn't write.

I caught up on some reading. And cleared a lot of things out of my Netflix queue. And did some things around the house.  All of these were, in my mind, important things. Roadblocks that needed to be dealt with so I could get down to writing. To being a writer. You know, that thing I convinced a few of you I was way back in 2017.

Yeah. That thing.

Along around the same time, I was becoming seriously disenchanted with social media. Well, not all of it, just the book of Face, to be specific. I figured out why I left it some years back, and started to low-key loathe myself for coming back. So, add a failed  NaNo, and a dislike for the book of Face, and there's a few more steps down the spiral.

I deactivated my Facebook account sometime in December. I did it rather quietly. A week beforehand, I posted something about making sure if you wanted to stay in touch, we had a way to do so. And then I did an Irish exit and just deactivated my account. I had about 5 people reach out to me to see what happened. I had a few more than that sitting there and stewing about the fact that I didn't say goodbye personally or tell them what was going on.

And to be honest, I just couldn't. I needed to leave when I did the way that I did. I needed to do it to stay on this side of sanity and strike at least one solid blow back at the heavy, wet, wool blanket of depression that was pretending to offer me warmth, but slowly suffocating me. Whether or not you believe me, or are mad at me, or are OK with the way it went down--it's done. I can't change it. And even still, I think it was the right move for where my headspace was at the time.

So, yeah. That's a thing. Depression. I haven't really danced with depression in quite a few years. Not like this. When I would get up, go to work, zombie through the day, and do as little as possible before going to bed--not even talking more than a few sentences to my roommate, I knew there was an issue.

I still haven't talked to my doctor about going on anti-depressants. I have an appointment in February. That gives me one month to turn things around on my own. And by 'on my own' I mean that I'm not living in the bubble of 'everything in my life is great' any more. Somethings are wonderful, don't get me wrong, they are. I just need to get back to doing the things I know worked before when I was off the anti-depressants the first time.

I'm going to pause here and just mention that I was on anti-depressants for nearly 15 years. Many different ones through the course of that decade and a half. I know how my body responds to them and I know what they do to my sense of self. The last thing I want to do is to go back on them. That is not saying that I'm against them. I just don't want to be back on them. It's a very personal decision. So, I'm going to do everything I need to do before I open that door back up.

Which leads me to 2019.

There's a thing going around where you pick a word, and that's your word for the year. It's supposed to be in line with your goals and who you want to be or become in the year to come.

It's a wonderful idea, but I honestly couldn't think of a word. Which really is just more proof that I need to get back to meditation and finding my center with more of a concerted effort.

Anyway...the hunt for the magic word that is going to make 2019 awesome.

Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

And then I got an email from a kickstarter project I backed. The project was to help build a story-building/world-building system for gaming/story-telling based on using Tarot spreads. Today they drew a card for me.  And it went a little something like this:

There it was. Restoration.

Everything clicked into place.  So, my friends, my 2019 journey is about restoration. Restoring the Todd that I know I am. The man, the friend, the father, the writer, the lover (ok, ok, but I had to at least put it on the list--you never know!) that I know in my heart I am. The true me.

One of the things I did today was to reconfigure my writing desk. It was spread out on a table in my bedroom and it just was...bleh. I moved in a dresser that had been sitting in the garage since I moved in and set up my computer on top of the dresser. I saw a movie depicting a madly drunk Hemingway pacing in front of a typewriter on a dresser in a Spanish hotel. And he was moving around and he'd come back, type some pages and move around. He did this weird dance with the story as he typed. And in those frames I saw the truth of it, much of writing is a full-body, full-contact experience. So, yeah, standing desk of sorts. It looks a little like this:

So, the cool thing about this, other than taking up less space and the fact that I no longer have to use the annoyingly squeaky but cool vintage office chair, is the fact that this dresser was my dresser all through childhood. Before that, I am pretty sure it was my big brother's dresser, and my mother's dresser when she was growing up before that. So, it's got family energy. It just feels right.

And if you're wondering, the painting above it was there before I figured out what I needed to do in 2019, but it so fits. Man does it fit!

Things are truly coming together the way I always knew they could. The way I always knew they would. I guess, for the most part, I just needed to get out of my own head. And out of my own way.

And so the restoration begins.



44 out of 50.

I set a goal at the beginning of 2018 to read 100 books from my Goodreads list by year's end. About a week into the year, I realized that was just ridiculous and recognized my own limitations in that arena. A goal of 50 seemed more reasonable, but will still be a stretch as it had been some time since I had read a book a week.

But here we sit on December 30th...er...December 31st now and I have read 44 books toward that 50 book goal.

And I'm going to take that as a win. Because it's a lot closer than I really thought I could hit. 2019's reading goal will be 75. It's ambitious, but I think it's doable.

Ambitious, but doable. I guess most things are if you get off your ass, eh Skaggs?


Have a wonderful day my friends. I'll catch you sometime in the coming days, weeks, months...we'll get together, have a drink and catch up. I'd love to hear all about the latest crafting thing you found on Pinterest.



Digital Detox

Sorry if this is starting to sound a bit like a broken record, but as it's on my mind and as my words are my way of clearing through some thoughts, I don't really see a way around it.

I saw a friend tonight I haven't seen in a good little while. Since at least before the move back in March. It's cool. I got a batch of homemade Christmas cards. Like the batch of homemade cards I got last year and the year before, they will likely sit in a stack in the same place until about February when I will put them in the box with the other unsent cards.

Maybe this year will be different. I say that every year. Maybe this is the year it will be true.

I say that every year, too.

Anyway, in the course of conversation, I let slip that I wasn't on Facebook. Her husband said, "Again?!" and she said, "You'll be back."  Both were said in jest, I know.

Still. It got me thinking.

It's been about a week.  Just one week. There have been a few moments where I have really been tempted, but not because I wanted to see what was going on, but because I was bored and my default action when I was bored was to get on fakebook and scroll until I was not only bored, but I was bored, numb, and generally thinking most people were terrible at humaning.  So, it wasn't that I missed it per se. And I realized that tonight, rather than agree, I just smiled and said, "I don't think I will."

And I was good with that.

It's just kind of a weird headspace to be in right now.

I know I'll be past this stumbling block of obsessiveness, but for now, I'm just working through it.

But on a positive note...the Christmas lights are up outside, so that's a good thing.

And with that I bid you goodnight. Yup. Short and sweet.

Except I'm not short.

And not always sweet.

Have a good rest of your evening.



You Stole From The Crippled Kids Jar!?

There's a scene in Office Space  where the efficiency experts, The Bobs, are reading the names of people they are going to fire to Peter and they get to Samir's file. "And this guy...Na-een...Na...Not gonna be working here"

That only comes to mind because it is 2 days after NaNoWriMo is officially over for the year.  For me, it was probably over before it began. I didn't really have a clear plan and didn't really account for well, life, to be honest. As with all things NaNo, there is no one to blame for it but me. And that's OK.

I can't say that I wrote every single day of the month. I didn't. I can't say that I hit fifty-thousand works at the miraculous 11th hour. My logged seven-thousand words clearly indicate that didn't happen.

But, I did have something of a breakthrough this year that I didn't have in years prior. A couple of them, actually.

The first is something I've seen at other points in my life. I need to be around people. Not really to compete against, but to draw inspiration from. The number of actual write-ins I attended this year was less than 3. My word count shows that. There were times I felt fairly isolated this month. I don't put that on anyone but me. I had a calendar of events I could have attended. I had the NaNo calendar of events close by--hell, less than 2 miles, but I didn't. Don't know why. I may dissect that later, next year when it gets closer to NaNo. I may not. Which leads to the second epiphany of sorts.

The only person putting pressure on me to "win" NaNo was...you guessed it. Me. I didn't quite have a breakdown this month, but I had a few near misses that would qualify as mini-anxiety attacks, I'm sure. I was certain that I would be letting this person down or that person would be pissed if I didn't do this thing or that in November. And in the end, I shut down. On my birthday I woke up and decided that I was doing something for me. And I did.

And it was rather liberating, if I'm being honest.

I'm going to pause here. I know that I have some friends who, like me, sometimes internalize and overthink things. I want to be very clear about why I 'failed' (and ultimately won) the whole NaNo thing this month. It had nothing to do with anyone but me. I applied the pressure. The voices I was guided (and/or misled) by were the ones in my head. No one else. Me.

That simple fact is also the reason that I won, if you will.

The ultimate epiphany was that I am traveling this writer's path for me. For the stories I have to tell. For the songs I have to write. For the pictures I have yet to pen. Don't get me wrong, I hope you'll share that with me. And if you like the yarns I'm spinning, awesome. If you don't, that's OK, too.

I think the real goal of NaNo, albeit not explicitly stated anywhere that I've seen, is that participants come away from the month feeling like, thinking like, and believing themselves to be real writers.

And I did. Because I am. I am a writer. I went through the real writer shit of getting so hyperfocused on the minutia of life that I forgot that my shield, my armor, my weapons against the mediocrity of life are the words I put to page. My way to escape this world is to create my own and play around in them for a while.

So, in that sense, NaNo succeeded. And did I win? Yes. And No. It really just depends on who's definition you're using.

If it's OK with you, I'll use mine. Well...I guess if I'm paying attention to my own epiphanies, the fact is, it doesn't matter if it's ok with you or not. I need to do the thing my way.

I didn't quite catch it happening as quickly this time, but I do seem to have something of a chrysalis forming around me. I didn't notice it, but standing outside myself, looking down, I do see that it's there. I'm usually pretty good about identifying and embracing the moments in my life when these kinds of things happen...ok. No, I'm not. Normally I think something feels 'off' and I write some blog posts where I say that I feel like I'm on the verge of something big happening. And if something big happens, I write a 'see how cool that was' post. If it doesn't, I distract you with a post on the futility of trying to compare Chicago to New York style pizzas to one another (seriously, just don't. Nobody wins if you exclude either of these pieces of heaven from your pizza repertoire).

So, here's the prediction. The change that I feel like I'm on the cusp of is the same one that's always been there. The one that is finally me embracing this life and my role in it. The scales finally falling away from my eyes, if you will. Embracing the gifts and the path and the...

Fuck it. Honestly, I have no idea.

I just know I love to write. I need to write.

So I'm going to keep doing that and let's just see where this thing goes.


So Long, Ass Grape

I am a writer. You can tell by my fancy blog. No, but seriously. I am.  I don't know if I've always been keen on using analogies because I'm a writer or if I'm a writer because I've always been keen on using analogies. I'm not sure which, if either of those, is actually relevant to the rest of this post except for the fact that this post is probably going to be riddled with them. I mean, it's what I do.

Now, if you're sitting there asking yourself what an ass grape is, you're in luck. You'll probably know what it is both literally and figuratively by the end of this post. Now I have to warn you, I am prone to oversharing. My roommate's daughter things that means being too nice, but in my world it means that I'll probably tell you more than you want to really want to know. If you're not keen on knowing the medical procedure associated with removing an ass-grape, you should skip ahead.

So, apparently there are a few types of hemorrhoids (look, I warned you)--one of them is external. I guess at one point, I had one. And when it went away I was left with a skin tag. And without getting too graphic (I know, too late), I'll let you draw your own conclusion why I call it an ass-grape.

Anyway...I got sick of rocking the docked tail look, so Friday I had it taken off. The crew at the Taylor Station Surgical center was amazing.  I can't tell you a time I actually enjoyed going in for a surgical procedure.  Remind me to tell you about it next time you're around. It's kind of a funny story. I've never had anyone ask me to name something they were cutting off before.

*Post-Medical Ass-Grape Removal stuff a.k.a. The Metaphorical and Allegorical Shit Starts Here*

If you skipped ahead, I'm pretty sure you made the right choice. One of the things that the nurse asked, was if I took my little tail home, what would I name it? Someone in the room suggested Quentin. This made everyone laugh and for a good few minutes took my mind off of the fact that there were no less than seven people looking at my bare backside.

I can confirm, though, that I now have sound medical verification that despite what you may have heard from anyone I've ever dated or been married to, my head is no longer up my ass.

Oh...the name I chose for the ass-grape?  And yes, I did get them to commit to at least try to get 'ass-grape' used as the new official medical term (at the very least, I'm sure they all got a good laugh from it for the rest of the day).  But yes, I did come up with a name for it.


You see, as a writer and all-around creative type, naming it Doubt was really the logical choice. I mean, Doubt was constantly riding my ass. And while it didn't always cause physical pain, it was always there as a reminder. And true or not, it was never a far thought from me that no matter what I did to cover it up, sooner or later someone would see. They would see that Doubt was right there. It was a part of me, no matter what. Attached, grown out of me.

No more.

After a couple of very painful, burning shots to numb my buttocks, Doubt was removed with surgical precision. The physical piece is gone. Send off somewhere to be tested to make sure the Doubt wasn't cancerous. Something I've lived with away too long

As weird as it sounds, I felt a sense of relief wash over me once it was gone. Oh, I know there will still be some figurative residual left, but I know now that Doubt has been removed to the best of the surgeon's ability.

The rest is up to me.

And with that, I'm off to bed.

Have a wonderful evening and rest of your weekend my friends.



The Silence Is Worse

I fully prepared for friends to pepper me with the 'Dude, why did you unfriend me?' line of questioning when I deactivated my bookFace account.

What I did not prepare for was a complete lack of response. Of course, my anxiety disorder manifests itself in such a way that I tend to rabbit-hole, a.k.a. overthink, damn near everything.  The meds help on most days. And to be fair they are probably helping right now, because instead of my mind being curled into a ball onto itself over this, I'm left with a thought of Huh, isn't that interesting. No one gives a shit.

And I'm not super upset, but it would be nice to be missed.

Those are the thoughts that ping pong in my head. But then I remember that the Facebook 'feed/wall/whateverinthefucktheyarecallingitthisweek' algorithm sucks dick and most people don't really notice when people that were part of their online life suddenly drop off.

And that's cool.

It truly is. I told like 5 people that I deactivated my account. One of them congratulated me. Two of them completely understood. And the other two couldn't care less.

It's interesting. I have only twice felt the twinge of wanting to check the feed. I'm taking it as a good sign. The good news is that my roommate has promised to send me anything cool (events or otherwise) that I might miss by not being on there. So I've got that going for me.

Nobody has found the blog since I left. Or at least thought to check it. That I was fully expecting. The post detox-jitters haven't started yet. I know those will take another day or two. Luckily I'm having minor outpatient surgery tomorrow and will be largely recovering this weekend. So I don't plan on having time to think about it. And of course there are projects I need to get working on for Christmas presents, so that will keep my mind off of the Feed.

It's all good and I realize that this post really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of  things. But, I needed to get the words out of my head.

Now back to work.

Peace out!


Saying Goodbye..and Hello

For some time now I have struggled with an addiction. Well, several in all likelihood. But the one I refer to spefically in this post is the  addiction to Facebook, and to some extent all social media. Facebook is by far the worst, at least for me.

Today I said goodbye, well sort of. I actually just deleted my account without so much as a ‘I’m running away from Facebook for a while to clear my head and take back my life’ post. Even though that’s exactly what I’m doing. I took the app and it’s dumb lumpy cousin, Messenger, off of my phone a couple of weeks ago. I still found myself opening up both in the browser on my phone. So, I didn’t actully cut the cord, I just changed my access. Instead of getting my fix at home in the safety of my bedroom, I had to go see that skeevy guy behind the bowling alley that always smells of stale kimchee and fresh cat piss.

After downloading my entire FB life up to now, I deactivated the account with fanfare. I had a couple of moments of weakness where I almost got back online to see if anyone had said anything or had missed me. I’m still waiting for the inevitable Why did you unfriend me? text or email that will invariably come. Or, maybe it won’t. Maybe my worst fears will be realized and my absence in the online realms won’t cause this big gaping hole. Women and children won’t be screaming because there is no more iTod on their newsfeed. In fact, I suspect that it will take most people quite some time to notice, and even longer to care.

And you know what? That’s OK by me. Thing is, I am striving toward a life of more meaningful interactions in the meat-space. With people I care about.

I just recently watched a documentary on minimalism that my roommate recommended. She says that she repeatedly watches it when she feels like she’s getting too caught up in getting stuff. And I have to say that it had an affirming affect on my decision to abandon the book of face. The last line in the whole thing-the whole thing is amazing and you should watch it- but the last line was the key for me. And it was simply this.

Love people. Use things.

That was the kick in the third eye that I needed to hear. And it’s true. It goes along with what I recently heard Cal Newport say in a podcast. The technology in our lives should be used to facilitate real-life interactions with people. And that we should stop counting online interactions as real. Both of these things hit home and gave a little turbo boost to my decision to ditch the big blue F for good (for now).

Will I go back? God I hope not. I mean, I can say that right now, without a compelling reason, a seriously compelling reason, I can see not going back, period. The last time I quit (and did a full-on account delete), the thing that brought me back was the death of a friend. All of the gatherings around his death were being coordinated via the book of face. And so I found myself sucked back in. And from there it was easy to convince myself that I needed to be there. That it was the only way I could stay connected to certain people.

Which, really, is bullshit.

It is certainly the easiest way. It is by no means the only way.

And that’s the reality, isn’t it? The application has made itself so indispensible in everyone’s lives that to try to remember a time before Facebook is actually hard for a lot of people. They have bought into the myth that seeing a blue thumb on something you post or putting a blue thumb on someone else’s post is the same as having an actual interaction with someone.

It isn’t. It isn’t even close. Because first of, people say and post shit on there that they would generally never do or say in real life in front of as many friends as they have online.

I’m not judging you. You do you, as my BFF is wont to say. But I ask that you do the same, dont’ judge me. Don’t preach to me. Don’t try to talk me into coming back. If I do, it will be on my terms. If I don’t, that’s cool too.

And honestly, if you want to talk about it, why don’t you come over? We’ll have some drinks and some laughs.

If you’re not the kind of person I can share a drink and laugh with, chances are we weren’t really friends anyway, regardless of what facebook tells you.

Anyway, with that-I’m tired. And I’m going to bed. It’s the first night in a long time that I haven’t checked my notifications and facebook feed before bed. And tomorrow will be the first morning in a while where I will get up and checking my online shiznit won’t be a thing.

I’m quite looking forward to both.

Have an awesomesauce day my friends!


OhshitInearlyforgot!  If you are reading this, thank you. It means that somewhere along the way you bookmarked this blog or made a concious effort to find this little slice of heaven I call my bloggy-blog. Anywhoo, thank you. And again, have an amazing day!


The Day After The Day After The Day

It’s 3 in the afternoon on a Sunday and I’m sitting in Starbucks.  According the calendar, I’ve just recently had a birthday. My birthday was on the day after Black Friday. Black Friday is one of the busiest days for my company as I work for a national electronics retailer. It is THE day. That makes today the day after the day after the day. 

As I posted already on Facebook, I feel a sense of gratitude and thanks for everyone that took a few moments out of their day to wish me a happy birthday. 

It truly was a happy birthday. I actually started the birthday on Friday, after work. I hit a local retailer for a few records that were released on Black Friday. And I also went to Target and upgraded a particular piece of tech that I had been wanting to update for quite a little while now. The new tech should hopefully last me a few years. 

I spent my birthday kind of just doing my own thing. I went to an antiques show at the Ohio Fairgrounds. I picked up a typewriter and a camera. Then I had lunch with a couple of friends. I came home and veg’d. My roommate and her daughter made me cupcakes and dinner. It was truly wonderful.

And, as much as it made me smile to see all of the people that wished me a happy birthday on social media...the people that sent me a text made me smile even bigger. I was on the book of face for maybe a total of 30 minutes yesterday. And it was a good day. Today I was on even less than that. I was worried that it might be hard to wean myself off, but the truth is, I don’t think it will at all. I think when I get to that point, I’ll just close shit down, turn off the lights and never look back. And that’s OK. 

I wonder, if I don’t post the link to the blog, how many views I’ll get on this post? Good question. 

Let’s try and see. 

Have a wonderful rest of your day, my friends. 

I’m off now. I have to get home and sync my Scrivener projects so I can keep working on them on my iPad when I’m out and about. 



Giving Thanks

I started to write a post on Facebook for what I was thankful for today. Then something hit me. I could post it there. You would see it (or you wouldn't, depending on where you ranked in Facebook's "You should see this person's post" algorithm). And then it would just fall off. It might pop back up next year or in 3 years as something I remember. Good Lord, if I'm still sucking on FB's teat in 3 years, please fucking shoot me. 

But here, on my blog, I'm free to stretch out, there are no ads to distract me as I type this. My best friend is sitting on the other end of the couch working on her plot to take over the literary world (and later, the literal world). There's a little white-haired, neurotic furball curled up on the middle cushion. My belly is full, and my soul is sated.

Life is good.  Actually, that's not quite true. Life is neither good nor bad, but I am good.

Today I'm thankful for the fact that I got to see my daughter. She has grown into a wonderful young woman.  And my grandfather. Who, at 95 has some amazing stories of his own.  And my parents. And my brother and his family. It was a day of family. And friends who are family. A day that in years prior, I would have to still dial in and do work to ensure that our stores would be ready to open tomorrow morning (Black Friday is one of our busiest days of the year). But this year, someone on my team took that ball and ran with it and there were only a few minor bumps that needed my intervention.

Otherwise, I got to make my White Castle stuffing and my eclair cake. Both of which were received quite well. I brought home an empty stuffing dish and everyone took home some eclair cake.

I'm sitting here and thinking about my life. And they are good thoughts. They are happy thoughts. Things are falling into place. Well, things have been in place for a while, I'm just finally getting to the point where I recognize and appreciate those things for what they are. And that's a damn fine place to be.

It might be a little early in the game to put my "these are my 2019 goals" cards on the table, but I don't want you to be caught off guard.

I'm going to actively work to minimize my social media footprint. It's not helping my quality of life. And the screen-addiction usually winds up making me more miserable. I am ascribing to the philosophy that the technology in our lives should not replace our interactions with other people, but they should facilitate our real-live (meat space) interactions with people.

I want to have people come over for cocktails. I want to hang out with my other author friends and talk shop, or talk shit, whatever the case may be. I want to have jam sessions with my musician friends. And I want to be in a house filled with Love and Laughter. Real. Live. Laughter. I want to cut down on the number of times I type LOL to you because you're going to be in the same room, at the same gathering and you're going to actually hear my goofy ass laugh. Out Loud. And with any luck, it will be infectious and you'll laugh too.

I am thankful that I am to the point in my life where I'm ok with stepping away from my online presence. And the people in my life who care about me won't feel hurt or abandoned, because they will realize that it's not really about them. It's about me. Reclaiming me.

To that end, there will be a day in the near future where I will not show up on your feed. You may do a search on the social media platform of your choice and I won't be there. And soon I'll just be a name that you sort of recognize, but that you can't really remember that much about me. And that's OK. Because if this thing goes the way I hope it will, you won't be looking for me online. It won't be a post from me on your Facebook feed that makes you smile, but rather a letter or postcard or invitation to a swanky gathering at the Gallifrey Annex in your real-life mailbox. Those things will bring the smiles.

I have tried this before, this 'getting Facebook out of my life' thing. And what invariably happens is, someone will see that I'm not on their feed...or they can't find my page or posts and will think I've unfriended them. I'm then left defending my decision not to use this wonderful tool for keeping people connected (which ironically makes people feel more isolated than ever). That's not going to happen. I've come to realize that when it comes to the things in my life that are for my health and well-being, there are actually very few people that I have to give any kind of explanation to.

What I'm saying is, bookmark this blog (CTRL+D for windows users, CMD+D for mac users), reach out and shoot me your snail mail address. If you want to stay in touch and are worried that I don't have a way to reach you or you reach me, then fix the situation. I'll do the same. But I'm done assuming the intent of others based on what they do or do not post on social media. I am done trying to read minds over the ether. If you're upset with me, tell me. If I'm upset with you, I'll do the same. If I haven't told you, then chances are--we're good.  There's a lot going on in my life and the possibility is high that I'm focused 100% on the shit in my own life and not worried about yours at all.

The beauty is, on this day of giving thanks, I'm thankful for that epiphany. I'm thankful for the realization that it's OK for me to keep doing my thing (you just keep doing your thing man, in my best Strongbad voice).

Sure, I'm thankful for the standard stuff, too. Health. Having a roof over my head. Food in the pantry. Clothes on my back. And a job where I feel I'm appreciated and making a difference. I don't take those lightly. I'm thankful for those things every day I wake up above ground.

I'm also thankful for the hard times in my life that got me to this point. Two divorces. Open-heart surgery when I was 25. Not knowing if my premie daughter would make it past the first 48 hours of her life. These, as much as the good things and people in my life, make up the person you see before you. And you will  see me, because we're gonna hang out soon. For reals.

On that note, I need to get off this thing and get ready for bed. I have to be at work at 6AM tomorrow to make sure all 25 of my stores are ready for Black Friday.

I hope you have a wonderful day. And I hope whatever you face today you remember that you can kick ass and prevail.

Alright, I'll talk to you soon my friends.



What Is An ML?

I'm a writer. 

If you know me, or have come to know me in the last few years, you know that I used to have a hard time saying that sentence. Let's be honest here. There are still some days that I say it, but I'm not sure I quite believe it. 

Every year, just to see if I can drive myself completely crazy in 30 days, I participate (yes, willingly) in an event called the National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to see if I can write 50,000 words in a month. The hope is that the words will be A) coherent, and B) presumably part of a book or story that I will then go back and turn into something that I will actually let other people read. 

I've been doing it since 2015. 2015 was a waste. I didn't have a clue what I was doing. Again, some days I don't think I have a clue. 

Something changed in 2016. That was the year I found myself in not one, but two writing groups.

And something crazy happened. I finished my first draft of my first book. 

2016 was the first year that I "won" NaNo. 

This post isn't a how-to. It isn't really supposed to be some kind of inspirational piece, either. 

What it is, is a thank you letter.

You see, if you find yourself attempting NaNo, you will want to find yourself a group. You can find other like minded writers in your region. Each region has someone call a Municipal Leader. And because we writers don't really like full words in real life (just one the page), we call them ML's.

My first (and current) ML is an author by the name of Carma Haley Shoemaker. 

She organizes events...she comes up with ways to keep us motivated.  She's our fearless leader. 

It's odd to have a situation where I can't quite find the words I'm looking for. 

I guess, what I'm trying to say is...Carma, if you're reading this--thank you.

I suspect that sometimes it feels like we don't understand all that you do for us. The hours you plan for the activities we do. The little flourishes that make a write-in memorable. The pep talks. All of it.

I suspect that it's quite a lot like herding cats. Wet, sometimes angry, confused, self-doubting, somewhat self-absorbed cats who forget that they actually do know how to meow. OK...maybe that's just me. Which, is weird. I'm allergic to cats. 

Anyway. Enough about cats. 

Carma--thank you. I appreciate you. I value what you bring to the group. And I am thankful for the time and effort and blood, sweat, and tears that you've given the group, but also the impact it's had on me personally. 

You rock.

Thank you, truly. 


Lights, Camera...Wait...You're Fogging Up the Lens. Dammit Heath!

Greetings from SkaggleRock and the Gallifrey Annex. It's almost Fall. Well, technically it is Fall, but it's almost that magical 3 weeks in Ohio where it actually feels like Fall and the weather behaves the way it's supposed to in the autumn.

Gallifrey Annex
I'd  like to tell you all a story.

The year was 2016...maybe it was 2015. The only "romance" novels I'd read besides the hastily stowed away copies of Judy Blume (because, you know, they were 'girl's books'), was an excerpt of "Fear of Flying" by Erica Jong that I found in the back of an issue of Cosmo. Needless to say, I only really read it for the naughty bits.

And then I met Monica Corwin. She was a romance writer. Prolific as heck, and further along in her writing career than I could have dreamt of being. I didn't know it at the time, but this author and amazing woman would become my best friend.

Having said that, you may think that what I'm about to tell you is just the rantings of a dude wanting his bestie to make good. And that's partially true.

Here's the thing, though.

Her books are amazing. She has had a mission since the day I've met her--To make Romance accessible to everyone.

And, I'd have to say, she's done it. I've read a good chunk of her books and I have to say, it's the story that keeps me coming back. Sure, I buy the books to support my friend. That's a given.

But here's the key...I read the books because I love the stories and the way she tells them.

And I'm pretty sure you will too.

All of that just to say that Monica has a new book coming out. It's another in her line of Twisted Classics.

This time it's Wuthering Heights that gets Corwin'd.

If you think you know Hollywood or Wuthering Heights, I can tell you right now, you don't.

Check it.

Heath was never my brother. 

Nor my step brother, or any other relation our family tried to impose on us.

He was always just Heath, and at the end he was my Heath. Ten years ago he disappeared, and within three years of his absence he’d taken over Hollywood.

The world my father built.

The world he wasn’t good enough for.

The world he’d been denied when he was told he couldn’t have me.

Now he’s back, and he only wants one thing…to take it all.

Even me.

Hollywood King is Wuthering Heights crashed into the glitz and glam of Hollywood Royalty. A stand alone book with the happily ever after you always wanted for Cathy and Heathcliff.

Was that hot or what? I can assure that it's really only a hint of the heat that is in this book. But the heat is like a fine salsa. Sure, it's hot, but not so hot that you can't taste and savor the flavor.

Seriously. I can't wait for that. And if you are like me and you want to get in on this world now, you can check out the first three chapters on the Radish app.

Oh. you might have been wondering what was fogging up the lens.

It's a special cover reveal for the book. There's only a handful of us that get to show you this cover before the book comes out. You may want to have a cold glass of water handy.

I know. It's sexy. If you click through to Monica's website, you can sign up for her newsletter--don't worry, she's one of the good ones that won't spam you. AND...you can get another story set in the Hollywood Kings world before the book comes out. 

Alright SkaggleRockers (look I'm still working on a name here for when there's actually a group of people all in one place that are fans of my books, help a fella out), I know I've given you a lot to take in. It's OK. No, really. Go ahead and get that second glass of cold water. Cold shower? Uh..sure. Might want to leave your electronics on the bed, though. They don't play well with water. 

Have an Awesomesauce weekend, and if you see Monica (or even Heath), tell'em Todd said 'hi'!



The Theater of Semantics

The house lights are down. The audience an invisible mass gathered with a low jumbled murmuring sit restless, somewhere out there in a cloud of black nothingness. A lone, bare bulb hangs down, center stage, trying to cast light somewhere. Anywhere. A slight electrical pulse, a heartbeat of electrons, visible to anyone who might be casting their eyes its direction, the only evidence that the bulb is succeeding in its life purpose.

A lone figure comes out. He heads toward the microphone stand, taking care not to trip on the cable going from the stand to some magic port off-stage. His steps are cautious, but fueled by a purpose. It is a purpose he has either just learned, or just remembered. Having forgotten since the days before he was born. His movements are slow, deliberate, some would say timid. The shyness is not all his. He doesn't want to spook anyone that might be in the audience. Be they eight or eight-thousand.

A finger comes up. The mic is tapped. One time. Two times. The third time is three rapid taps. A loud thumping heartbeat reverberates through the theater. Bump. Bump-bump. Bump-Bump-bump. Followed by a high, piercing tone cut short by gruff throaty hrrmrumph.

"Good evening. Uh. Hello... Is this thing on?"

I can't believe it's been over a month since I blogged. Why didn't anyone tell me it had been that long? Did you guys stop loving me? Did you even miss me?

I jest.

I don't have a good reason for not posting anything in August, I really don't. I could say that lunch breaks were spent working on 18 Clocks which is true. I could say that I've been busy unpacking yes still and adjusting to life with a roommate which, while true is kind of a cop-out. There's very little adjusting needed, my roommate is one of the few people I think I could live with and not actually go nuts. So, there's that. 

Truth is, I just haven't made the time like I used to for the bloggy blog, but I realized this week that I need to. This is a good outlet for me to just get some things off my chest and just clear some cobwebs.

I know there's a great deal I could go off about right now. From the antics of our current tenant in the White House, to the stuff going on with Nike, to any of a dozen things that people are getting shitty with each other over on Social Media.

First though, a moment of silence for Burt Reynolds.


Smokey and the Bandit is one of my favorite movies. Always has been.  And other than a 1971 Pontiac GTO Judge, the Trans Am that's in Smokey and the Bandit is really the only other Pontiac I've ever wanted. There is a scene in an episode of My Name Is Earl where Jason Lee and his brother have their moment of nirvana by getting to drive the Bandit's car. I get that. I totally get that.

So, the topic at hand...what shall we talk about? OH, right. Semantics. The way in which something is said and interpreted. It's not an exact science. Well, maybe it is. But it's not one I ever really took. I just like fucking with people sometimes by taking exactly what they said literally. It messes with some people, but to be fair-sometimes people need to be more clear when they ask or declare things.

Case in point, if you have spent more than fifteen seconds scrolling on your bookface wall these past two weeks, you've no doubt seen something like the following:

Can you answer this? There are 5 people in a room, you go in and kill 4 of those 5, how many people actually remain in that room. Comment with your answer and I will inbox you if you're right or wrong. If you're wrong, you have to repost it with the name of the person to whom you lost.

Now,  my response to this on a friend's post (after having passed by it so many times on others') was to comment to the post by simply saying "your answer."

I was inboxed with the reply that I was wrong. And what they thought the answer was. I was then instructed to post it on my wall and see how many other people I could 'get.'  That's dumb. I'm not doing that.

What I am going to do, though, is point out that the 'right' answer really depends on which part of the paragraph you're dealing with.

Let's break it down.

Can you answer this?  Yes, yes I can answer this.  <--this answer.="" bullshit.="" by="" is="" p="" right="" the="" way="">
There are 5 people in a room, you go in and kill 4 of those 5, how many people actually remain in the room. Typo, or intentional admission of a question-mark aside, this is the part of the post that most people get wrapped up in.

So, breaking it down. 5 people are in a room. I walk in. That makes 6 people as of the time I walk in. The question is how many people remain in that room (presumably after I kill 4 of the 5 that were in there).

Barring any motivation for walking into a room and killing 4 people, I have some questions. First, seriously, what was my motivation? Why only 4? Were you burned with acid or something? No, ok. Here's the thing.

Right. Semantics.

At the point in time I walk into the room, there are 6 people in that room. Your possible answers to how many remain after my random killing spree are as follows:

  • 6 People.  Presumably the 5th person I didn't shoot is just chilling there with me and 4 dead bodies.
  • 5 People. The person I didn't shoot bugged the hell out, but I'm still there just lording over my handiwork. 
  • Also 5 people. The person I didn't shoot is still there, but I bugged out, because witnesses, dontchaknow.
  • 4 People.   The 5th person I didn't kill bugs out. And I decide to leave, too. I mean, after all, I just killed 4 people for no reason and a witness got away, leaving the 4 dead people in the room. 
  • 2 People. Me and the 5th person I didn't kill. One could argue that since four people are dead, they are no longer people, but instead are bodies. Anything that made them a person, ended when I took their life.
  • 1 Person. Me. Assuming the 5th person bugged out, and the 4 dead people aren't people (for the reason mentioned just above), I would be the only person in the room. I would assume since I was crazy enough to kill 4 people for no reason and leave a witness alive, that I might want to chill among my artwork for a while. 
  • Also 1 Person. The 5th person. This scenario also plays on the dead not being people, but presumes that I would have bugged out leaving the 5th person with therapy bills and survivor's guilt. 
  • 0 People. Again assuming the dead are longer people, this answer assumes that the 5th person and I went off to have drinks and toast to the fact that those 4 assholes are no longer in our lives. And also to work on our alibi. 
So which answer is actually right? 

All of them. That's the joy of Semantics. Depending on your focus, you can make any of the above answers work. 

Except the bullshit "yes" answer. That's cheap. Of course we can answer the question. To me that's just the lowest form of bait and switch smart-assery. It's almost as bad as the bullshit "Your Answer" that I left in the comments.

Technically I followed instructions. It says "Leave a comment with your answer."  My comment was "your answer." Boom. Done. 

I did that because deep down, I knew there was a trick. But, you can do what you want. You can play the game. If you've paid attention you know the "right" answer that this post is looking for. And you also have several other answers and the justifications for why you chose those answer. 

Now, I am not normally an argumentative person OK, that's a lie, but you can do whatever you want, or come up with your own answer for why your friends are full of shit and randomly accusing you of walking into rooms and killing 4 people. It's all on you, man. As my bestie says, you do you.  

The funny thing about this, is that it's really just a small reflection on life. The kind of life that creeps up on us every day. 

First off...no one has the right answer. Everything that is thrown our way is responded to based on the item we are choosing to focus on. Secret sauce time? So is everybody else's. And the likelihood that you and another person are focusing on the exact same thing in a given scenario, identical though they are, is astronomical. 

Secondly, most of the time, the questions in life are poorly worded and for the most part, bullshit anyway. 

How about this?

How about maybe you cut other people some slack?

And how about maybe you cut yourself some, too?

Oh, and if you happen to walk into a room and I'm in there with 4 other people, how about maybe you don't kill anyone?  That would be awesome.

The last words hang thick in the air. The audience is still a faceless cloud of nothing beyond his field of vision, only making its presence known with a laugh here, a gasp there. 

The echo of his final thought, verbalized, finds its way into to the darkest oldest crevice of the theater. Waiting to be the stuff of a recounted memory years down the line. 

The anticipation battles the heavy silence for his last breath. 

Then a clap.

Then two.

Then seven. 

Then a roll as the claps swell and roll to the stage. Crashing over in thunderous applause.

He sets the microphone back in the clip. A hand shoots up in a meek wave. Gratitude that they didn't boo him off the stage, and a seed of hope that maybe one person out there got it. Got him. 

"Thank you." 

Exit, stage right. 


Collision Insurance

"Listen to Tommy with a candle burning and you will see your entire future."

Almost Famous is on right now. My bestie is in the kitchen heating an IKEA cinnamon roll.

"It's all happening"

I'm going to put a cork in the cerebral spew that's about to happen at any second (likely with the next Crown and Coke). But the cork for now is because between sentences I am watching a movie that hits both nerves with me...writing and music. Something about this movie hits me in the feels every time. Even more so after the 6 days on the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp tour in 2008.  Holy shit. That was almost 10 years ago.

What's up, Columbus? What's up, Internets?

I feel like there is a muscle that I have used...and was getting pretty good and comfortable using it, and then I stopped using it for a while. And now I'm using it again. Or trying to. Try. That's a fucked up word. But the writing. That's thing. And it feels fucking amazing.

No, my johnson is not the muscle I'm talking about. The pen is.

The last four months have been amazing. Amazing is the crazy word I'm choosing.

I have moved. I moved from the iTapt. The zone I was in after the second marriage ended. Then the iTapt evolved into SkaggleRock. I'm sure I had a post about that. Or a blog post. Or at least I thought I did. You should have read it. It sounded great it my mind, I didn't actually post it.

It's happening.

It's all happening.

Did I mention the brainspewing? That's also happening.

And now, on my bucket list (since I can no longer meet Lester Bangs OR Phillip Seymour Hoffman), I have added Party with real people in Topeka, KS to the bucket list.

I have to get this soundtrack on vinyl.

I think that's the underlying current of my life. Like, you...well maybe not necessarily you, but definitely you. You're in my life. And I feel like you're vibing on the soundtrack. Which is cool, because I am too. But I have to tell you this.  And I tell you this in all seriousness.

The soundtrack sounds so much fucking better on vinyl.

It's all happening.

I'm listening to the author of a book read the book to me on Audible. The book is Unfu*k Yourself  by Gary John Bishop. And I'm about halfway through it.  It's kicking me right between the eyes. It's some serious shakabuku shit happening. So, that along with the fact that I'm exhausted from hoisting boxes all weekend is putting me in a place of weirdness. More than normal weirdness for me.

I love this movie.

Sure, Almost Famous,  but also this movie I'm living. I have for many months now felt that I have just been around the corner from some really awesome shit for some time now. Books to be written. Things to be crossed off my bucket list. A life to be lived. How many of us are sitting around waiting for 'life' to happen without realizing that it happens when we stop waiting?

I couldn't have predicted what this piece would look like. It's barely a piece, to be honest. But it's writing. It's words. It's happening.

I find myself starting the words to a new chapter. There are still boxes to be unpacked. Words to be written. A life to be lived.

I have to say it's pretty awesome to be in this chapter.

Word by word.

Hope you'll hang around to read what comes next.


I have some writing to do.



Crushing Self Minimizing

I had intended to write this post the other day as it was still fresh in my mind. I had some rather well thought out points that I wanted to make, but time, as is oft the case, decided to be short with me and I only got the first part of the post out.

I am currently taking a writing course and there is a raffle prize up for grabs. To be in the running for the prize, I need to write every day.

To be fair, I should be writing every day anyway, but this just caters to the Obliger in me. So, here are. The post that didn't happen is seeing the light of day.

I'm not sure it's a good thing, though. Maybe it is, maybe not. It does tend to fall into the realm of trying to deal with the dreaded Imposter Syndrome that is a constant companion to me and other creative people I know.

And bless your heart, I know you mean well when you tell me that I really need to be proud of what I've accomplished and that I need to embrace the fact that I am a "real writer."  I know you say it from a place of love, but I need to ask. If it were as simple as just telling myself and the world those things and that my mind, the twisted synaptic quagmire that it is, would just believe it and I could go on happily writing, don't you think I would have gone that route already?

I have posted many times in this very space about the self-doubt and the issues I have had with embracing my identity as a writer, both as symptoms of Imposter Syndrome. One thing I haven't really touched on that I've been noticing in myself lately is self-minimizing.

It plays out a little bit like this in my head. If this is something you do, too, feel free to sing along. I'm sure you know the words.

WOW. I am super stoked. I just put up my novella (book, poem, etc). This is an awesome moment for me. It's up there on Amazon. I'm a real-life writer now!!

(Cue Self-Minimizing)

You know, Todd, you probably shouldn't make a big deal about this. I mean they aren't *new* books. Technically they already came out in a box set. And you're kind of nuts if you think that people are going to pay another dollar to get a story they already got just because you threw together a cover for it. 


It's *just* a novella. It's not like a real book or anything.


Why am I getting excited about this? My friends are putting out *real* books. It's silly of me to think that anyone will want to read these, or share the links, when there are much better things out there. 

Yeah. It's a bit of doubt and self-sabotage.
I get excited that I have *goes over to check KDP* sold 36 copies of both books combined.
(side note: I really am excited. Yesterday that number was 35. Today it's 36).

Does it seem silly? 36 books sold.  Maybe. And if I sit to long and think about it, I won't want to say anything.

I'll convince myself that I would be better served saving the excitement and enthusiasm for when the next book hits. THEN I'll be allowed to get really excited.

And there you have it. Some jacked up inner dialog caught on a loop of somewhere, somehow I don't deserve this joy. That I don't deserve to be this excited over $12.60 in royalties.

But I am.

Have I made any bestseller lists?
Am I able to quit my day job and be a full time writer?
Am I going on a national or international book promotion tour?
Am I guest speaker at any panel (or anything) to do with writing?


Not Yet.

Not Yet.

I add the 'yet' in there because I know I will be. I know that the people that I secretly hope will read and love my books will actually one day do so (and tell me about it).  I know that I will be on a best seller list at some point in my life. And I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I will speak to a group, or even a single person, about my writing and something in that conversation will ignite the spark, set aflame their creative pilot light and their furnace will be up and running, waiting for them to stoke the fires.

I know all of this is going to happen. It's not law of attraction or anything like that. It's just that I've seen it. I just know that it will.

That in itself should be enough to quash the self-minimizing. And yet, it still creeps in. I see it hiding in phrases like "it's no big deal," or "I know it's silly to get excited about this..." or "It's just a ...

The key is to now be on the lookout for it. The more I get an understanding of my patterns of self-sabotage, the more I will be able to fully embrace the me that is here now.

The soon to be bestselling author,
Todd Skaggs

OH...and because I think you'll like these books, you should go over and pick up copies for your Kindle. I'm posting the link to my Amazon Author page because 1--I really like saying "Amazon Author Page" and 2--because you can get both titles there.


And with that, my friends, have a great rest of your evening. I have laundry to put away before hitting the sack.


Resetting The Why and Crushing Self-Minimizing

Resetting The Why

If I am able to string the words along properly and give some kind of accurate representation on this page that bears some resemblance to the dance they have been doing in my head for the last 3 days, then you may well get two lunchtime bloggy blog posts for the price of one.

And I may again be able to stare down a couple of demons who have been whispering shitty things to me from the shadows of my mind.

There seems to be some kind of romantic notion (good or bad) that springs to mind when you tell someone that you are a writer. Images of  empty whiskey bottles strewn about the room. A glass dish big enough to be considered the murder weapon, littered with butts; evidence of nicotine fueled battles between author and muse. Crumpled sheets of rejected ideas you wished you'd written yourself if only to see where the shop keeper's son stored the dead presidents found in the pocket of the banger, dirt napping dead in front of the store on 2:30 in afternoon on a Sunday in August just before the storms rolled in to clear the stench of piss from the air and the stain of blood from the sidewalk.

The other extreme is equally terrifying. The project board and perfectly detailed notes. Color coded and cross-referenced on a separate print out. Dates and word counts clearly displayed, sticky-notes flapping proudly like the trophy case of the state-champion high school. A subtle nod of intimidation, whether intentional or not, to any who might want to one day throw their own hat into the ring. Dipping their metaphorical and very literal pen into the ink that is both fuel and vessel. Ship and roiling sea.

I won't tell you where I fall on that spectrum. Likely you already have your own idea.

A friend of mine had a setback. Not a minor one. One that knocked the wind out of the sails. One of those 'question the very reason for donning a cutlass and eye-patch and thinking they could make a go of this pirate' kind of thing.  I got a note from them at the time. It said simply, "I need to reexamine my why."

Like many things this particular friend writes, the words hit me in a way I didn't see coming.

Now, to be fair, comparison is death. But you're lying if you say that you don't use someone who inspires you to at least build the guidelines for your own benchmarks. At some point, there is a shift and the milestones and goals are truly your own. The shift from "I want to do XYZ just like so and so" soon becomes, "I want to do XYZ."

But there's always the why.

Why am I a writer?

Not what makes me think I am a writer?, but why do I write?


The thing that really pissed me off when I started to think about the why was the fact that it didn't seem like too long ago I was just coming to grips with even telling the world that I was a writer. I mean, fuck, man...give me a minute to just be able to say that I am a writer first.

It doesn't work like that.

I'm looking at my words. I'm looking at what I've written in the last 6 months (and it really doesn't feel like much, if I'm being honest), and I realize that I really need to stop and look at my why.

It's time.

And I didn't want to.

Because I already know part of my why. And facing that part in the light of day sucks. It just really...
It just sucks.

I grew up needing to feel like what I did mattered. That it was good. That you liked it. That you wanted me to do more of it.

In one of the hundreds of personality tests out there, I come back as an Obliger. This means that I will put your needs above my own if given a choice. And I did, a lot.

I still do.

And I know that tendency has crept in and morphed into part of my why. Now, having the obliger tendency in itself is not a bad thing. As long as you recognize it and realize that it's ok to actually take some time for you and do things for you before someone else.

That's just it, though. Part of the 'why' for me is because inside me there is still that little kid, unsure, holding out the paper with a space battle drawn in pen, hoping that the person they are showing it to will tell me it's the best thing they've ever seen. But more than that, I want the people I love to tell me that they have read my words. Love them or hate them, I just want to be read.

There. There is it. Part of me writes because I read Stephen King growing up. I read Koontz. I read Tolkien and Asimov.  And Douglas Adams. And Piers Anthony.

And I loved them all. I hung on every word.

As a writer, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't want that. That I don't want someone to fall in love with my voice and my style and to hang on every word, wondering what the next glorious page will hold.

I do. Part of me wants that.

I write because I want to make you happy, and there's a part of me that's vain enough to think that my words can do that. Can bring a feeling, an emotion, and take you to a place you've never been.

I write because there are writers who inspire me. And I want to pay them back for that inspiration. I want to show them that what they wrote matters.

And I want to be that inspiration for someone else.

Yes...it's true. There is a part of me, of every writer that says they would write every day, because to not write is tantamount to not breathing, as dramatic as it sounds. And yes, I would write anyway, even if I knew it wasn't going to be read. But I can tell you that stuff that I write half thinking no one will ever or want to ever read it...that stuff is raw. And it's probably garbage. But yes, I still write.

The other reason I write is because I feel like I'm fairly fucked up in the head. And for me, writing is way I can create characters who may or may not be messed up in the same ways that I am, and I can walk them through scenarios in the story. I can make things happen to them, for them, and by them.
And maybe, just maybe they will get their happily ever after.

Because if the characters in my stories get their happily every after, then maybe I will too.

So..yeah. There's the brutal why. And it's pretty clear that I won't stop writing until either the happy ending happens in real life or I run out of ways for my characters to find theirs. 

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

And, unfortunately, I've run out of minutes in my lunch break (and I just killed the oatmeal cream pie).  The second piece on the crushing self-minimizing will have to wait for another lunch, I'm afraid.

Until then, I hope you'll tell all of your friends about the raw post thrown out on the interwebs by one of your soon to be favorite writers.




If I am ever asked to write a...what?

OK Fine.

WHEN I am asked to write some kind of article or give an interview about how my writing process works, I might just leave out the part where I think it is actually a good idea to down a Watermelon Rockstar at 1AM on a night where I need to be up just 5 short hours later to do what is commonly referred to as 'going to work.'

And yet, here we are.

Oh, but...against all odds, I am actually sitting at my writing desk (such as it is at the moment) giving you a fresh dose of bloggy randomness.

This is quite unique as it's the first (I think) blog post from the new abode.

It's also the first blog post on this blog that I think I have penned from my bedroom (I'm not counting hotel rooms, and neither should you. Vile things, really).

So, for anyone betting on this...official move in date was March first. It is now June 21st.

I'd like to give a hearty shout out to Summer. Welcome, Summer, you wee right bastard!

My daughter, by the way is VERY lucky that her parents weren't some new-agey/hippy types or she might very well have had some kind of name like Summer Rae or Sunbeam or some shit like that.

Which is to say, she's lucky that her father was afraid of what her mother would do to him if he pulled that shit. I suppose it's bad enough that I got to warp the way we spell her first name.

Someday she'll appreciate that.


Holy shit. Writing. So, that's a thing.

I've been nose deep in working on the first draft of 18 Clocks these days. Stealing words during lunch on the Alphasmart NEO2. No, I haven't been lunching on it, don't be ridiculous.

I've been reading quite a bit more these days than I am used to.  It's a good thing. Weird, but good.

Current mood is...hmm. That's a little trickier, isn't it? Let's just say, it's not full on 1996/97 level depression. More of a dip in the road. If you're still in my life these days and you knew me back in 96/97, first of all, I'm sorry. Second of all, wow, are you a fucking glutton for punishment.

Yeah. I mean, things are going well. On paper there is absolutely no reason for the grey film that's covering everything and yet, there is it. I wipe it away, but in that odd post-shower instant condensation science is cool kind of way, it comes right back. I think a large part of it has to do with getting things settled in the house. Once things get where they need to go and I find places in this space for the shit that's mine, I think a lot of it will go away. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

OH. Shit. I almost forgot.

I have put out Shadow Initiate and Ovid's Folly as standalone e-books on Amazon. The cool thing about that is, that between the 2 titles, I've already sold 30 copies. AND, since they are standalone, I can keep them up on Amazon and my author page won't go away. Now when I tell people my things are on Amazon, they can find me instead of getting a heartfelt collection of life lessons from a rookie College referee. I'm going to track that dude down one day just so I have can have him autograph a book To Todd Skaggs, From Todd Skaggs--coolest name ever bro! And naturally, I'll have at least one paperback by then and I can return the favor. We can then each put the books up on our shelf and pull it down when the record-listening party had hit a lull.

Here's the thing, I'm not tired. I should be. And I probably am (I'm not), but it's likely the Rockstar keeping me alert (or what passes for alert at 2AM). I'm going to go ahead and hit the hay.

I will catch you on the flip side my friends!


Todd "Not A College Referee" Skaggs


I Know You Got Soul

Whenever I wander back over to the shelf that is this blog, I think to myself, "man...I wonder if anyone still reads this anymore?"

And then I see how many days (weeks, months) it's been since I put anything of substance (or sometimes just anything) on here and the prescient words of Erik B come to mind...

"It's been a long time, I shouldn't a left you without a strong rhyme to step to..."

Here, let's just enjoy that groove together for a minute.  Very few other hip hop artists of that period put the depth of the philosophy into the amazing lyrics quite the way Erik B did. I need to meet this dude. I have a feeling he and I could seriously shoot the shit for hours and have some wicked mix tape built up by the end of the night (or early morning as the case may be).

Is it weird? I mean that I see myself being friends with and having conversations with people that others see as 'famous' or untouchable in some way?  I guess it might be. I don't know. I just always figured that things would fall into place to make that happen.  If you had told me 5 years ago that my best friend would be someone who was a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, I might have looked at you a little sideways, but the revelation would not have surprised me. I would have just figured that by having that person in my life, I had something to learn, and something to teach.  And, by the way, that has been the case. As I look at the people in my life now from the outer, extreme circle of facebook acquaintances, to the people who guard my deepest secrets, the universal connector is all of these people enrich my life in some way that I need. I have lessons to learn or lessons to teach, and we're all in the same classroom for this version of the syllabus. 

It's pretty fucking cool, to be honest. If I stop and try to stare directly at what the lesson (and my role in the giving or receiving), I lose it. It flits away until I'm truly ready. And it seems that the times I am truly ready to learn or teach are the time when that is the absolute last thing on my mind. Then it's all of a sudden like, "boom. wake up, bitch. We gots to go to work!"

Jeeeeeeesus, Skaggs, when did you get so philosophical?!?

Somewhere around my 6th birthday.  Every 7 years, my birthday falls directly on Thanksgiving. I was turning 6. My parents were hosting Thanksgiving for the whole famdamily and a bunch of people I was expected to remember 30 years later at a family reunion when they said, "I haven't seen you since you were six years old."  Spoiler alert: I never remembered them, but smiled politely as though I did. 

So, six year old Todd didn't really process too much about Thanksgiving. But birthdays. Yeah buddy. I knew ALL about that. And birthday parties! While the tone and timbre of the parties have changed for me over the years, I learned all I needed to know about parties early on. They were awesome. Especially if they were for you. And the more people at these parties for you, the better.

Can you see where this is going?  

Six years old. Birthday boy. House full of people coming over for Thanksgiving.  Only I thought they were all coming over for my birthday.  Most of them didn't even know it was my birthday. So, no cards. No gifts. I don't remember if there was a cake or not. Actually, I'm sure there was a cake for dessert, but it wasn't a birthday cake.  Second worst Thanksgiving ever (But I wouldn't know that at the time. From that day until the first Thanksgiving without my Grammy (early in the 80's), it stood as the worst Thanksgiving ever. 

Pretty sure Todd the Philosopher was loosed into this world about 4:57PM on that Thursday in 1977.

And he's been here in one form or another ever since learning the lesson of "the world does not revolve around you, son." In fact, I think that might have been a direct quote from my father. It brought tears at the time (or more tears, as I may have already been sitting on my bed with the Star Wars blanket and Mickey Mouse and Pluto as knights sheets and pillow case set) when he said that. 

The details are foggy. But that's the way it is with our origin stories, isn't it? Foggy until that moment when a singular detail emerges with crystal clarity and smacks us dead in the eye with a "Oh fuck yeah!! I had completely forgotten all about that!!"

Did I mention that this was going to be a fairly random and rambling post? I didn't? Shit. My bad. I thought you might have picked up on that when I went from 80's hip-hop to 6 yr. old Todd. 

Well, yeah. Rambling randomness is afoot my friends. It's probably a good time to go back to your bookface feeds if you want. 

OH! That reminds me.

I'm getting sick of The Book of Face again. It happens about every three months.  And then I realize that someone will only communicate with me through that wretched platform, so I stay. And then about 2 or 3 years later it builds to the point where I can no longer take the bullshit.  The Cambridge Analytica BS has tipped that scale a bit early. 

Here's the thing. I'm not dumb. And neither are you. Of Course livre visage has been mining all of our data. From the day that it opened up from campuses to the public, its model has been to collect and mine as much data as possible. Why do you think it stopped being a university only app? Because students don't stay students for ever. It's a limited data set. And if they are going to make money selling data, they need a bigger pool. Boom, faycebooook is now open to the public. 

Why do you think it claims it will never charge to use the service? Because it wants as many people as possible.  Games? Advertising? Messenger? Video? Marketplace? Payments?!? Hell yes. All data  points.

Within 2 weeks at the outside the book of face knows everything about our lives it can possible know. Because we give it the information it needs. The information it sells. They don't need to charge, they are making money hand over fist by us using the "service" they provide.  And forget trying to figure out the algorithms to actually make it useful for yourself (like say, as an author trying to gain readers).

Do you know why retail stores move product and fixtures around in a store?  Studies have shown that if a shopper takes more time trying to find something that has moved, they will walk out of the store having purchased more than they intended to, even if they had a list.  I don't have the study that quotes that, but I work in retail. That shit is real. 

All the bitching that happens when something changes on the feed, or your wall? Makes you spend more time. Clicking on things you might not have click on in your old routine. 

All of that is to say that very soon I will be looking at deleting my FB account. I don't need it. It's annoying the piss out of me. And the reason I came back to the 'social' media in the first place is no longer there. 

I'll still maintain Instagram (also owned by the bookfacers, but still somehow less evil at this point), and Twitter. 

And of course this blog.

If you're worried that you won't see these posts because I don't have them on your wall anymore, you can do this, right now.

Hit CTRL+D. On a Mac, hit COMMAND+D.  Almost all browsers will save the URL of the page. 

Save it in your bookmarks. Come by and see me from time to time.  I'll be around. 
Hell, you might see me on the New York Times Bestseller list some day. (Spoiler alert: You totally will.)

And remember, if you get invited over for dinner, or Christmas, or Thanksgiving...be sure to ask your host if there is a birthday boy or girl. If there is, bring them a present. You will be the hero and change their life forever, I guarantee it. 

Until then my friends, I'll see you on the other side.

And remember, it's not where you're from, it's where you're at. 


Failing NaNo - 4 Years and Counting

I looked, Dear Readers, and noted that the last time I saw fit to let the words fall from my brain bucket and onto these virtual pages was o...