Tom's Writing Workshop

Advice, exercises and thoughts on the craft of writing fiction.

Fifty Shades of Ink. Episode 3: Making Contract

I didn’t open the wax-sealed manila envelope Noel gave me until I returned to my grubby little hotel room in [google NY neighborhoods]. Then I opened said envelope and take out the papers inside, surprised to find my heart was [synonym for “pounding”].  The contract. This was what he wanted me to sign before he’d […]

Imagining Darwin 4: In the Galapagos

Imagining Darwin 4: In the Galapagos On October 18th, 1835 Darwin was camped on St James Island (Isla Santiago) in the Galapagos Archipelago, where he’d been exploring and gathering specimens. He and the crewmen who came with him were now waiting for the Beagle to return for them after finishing its surveying cruise around the […]

Fifty Shades of Ink: Episode 2 “The editing chamber”

“The editing chamber” The next day a much anticipated and yet dreaded text popped up on my phone: Back in NY. Finished your book on the flight. May I call you? – N P I sat staring at my phone screen, a mixture of emotions swirling in me like bits of toe jam and other […]

Imagining Darwin 3

Darwin was 22 years old and Captain Fitzroy was 26 when the Beagle set sail on its five-year mission. Pause and consider those ages for a moment. A hot-tempered 26-year-old, prone to depression and fits of rage, had command of a British naval vessel that was going to circumnavigate the globe and carry out surveying […]

Fifty Shades of Ink

            Fifty Shades of Ink The story of a writer and an editor. My name, for what it’s worth, is Robin Hackwright. I was a 24 year old student attending Bulwer-Lytton Memorial University, but I wasn’t doing very well in school because I was spending all my time outside of […]

Imagining Darwin 2

Almost from the moment the Beagle first set sail, Darwin was violently seasick and spent the first few weeks of the journey into the Atlantic confined to his cabin and unable to keep food down. It seemed to him he had made an enormous mistake undertaking this voyage. He recovered enough to change his mind […]

Imagining Darwin

  I’m working on a novel set during Darwin’s voyage on board the Beagle. In order to find my way imaginatively into his world, I’ve been creating dioramas out of my kids’ old toys, illustrating key moments in Darwin’s life (something like the collages I made when I was working on my novel Salamander, but […]

A Soundtrack for Every Blade of Grass

A Soundtrack for Every Blade of Grass What follows are the names of some tracks and artists that inspired me during the writing of Every Blade of Grass. In most cases I found that a particular piece of music came to represent a scene or an aspect of the book’s themes of wonder, loss, and […]

Naked people in books

        Read the following passage. There will be a short quiz afterward.   Augustus was intently writing at his desk when there was a knock at the door. With a low growl he thrust the quill pen into its holder, rose from his chair, strode to the door and threw it open. […]

How & Why This Writer Went Hybrid, Part 3

    Okay, I promised to get to the WHY.     Just to keep the Darwinian metaphor going a bit longer: one could compare the life of a hybrid author with that of a hybrid vehicle. Able to run on fossil fuels (traditional publishing) as well as some form of clean, sustainable energy (the […]