Blog: Here's what Tom says about that!

Gratitude for Being a Writer

Posted November 17th, 2015 by Tom

I love my life as a writer for several reasons. Primarily, I enjoy the craft of writing; the satisfaction I get from putting my thoughts into words. I love the research, the impact on my own thinking, and turning it all into words on a page; the art of creating stories – both nonfiction and (coming in the not-so-distant future) fiction. I love the wonder and magic and awe of what writing does for me. I love working alone in my pajamas on a rainy day, taking a walk along the river on a warm, summer’s day to think about a particular chapter or paragraph or sentence, hanging out at the library, or taking a short break by walking into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and returning to my laptop to dive back into the words.

Book Cover (300dpi)There’s another aspect of writing for which I’m grateful. I recently received small royalty checks from Beacon Press for the sales of my two books during the first half of 2015. Inheriting the Trade was published almost 8 years ago; Gather at the Table more than 3 years ago. They’re both definitely “catalog” titles now. Major publicity and media coverage for both books is in the past. In case the first two sentences in this paragraph misled you, it isn’t the royalty checks for which I’m primarily grateful. GATT Cover (compressed)Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful to receive income from my work, but that income is, ahem… modest (I haven’t yet achieved Stephen King or John Irving levels of success).

No, it’s that people read my books. They give Gather at the Table and Inheriting the Trade to friends and children and parents and colleagues. They check them out at the library. They save them on bookshelves in their homes. They sometimes write to me to tell me how my stories impacted their thinking.

All this time after they were published, more than 300 copies of my books – in hardcover, paperback, and ebook – were purchased between January and June of this year. I find that amazing. I love receiving royalty statements to see how many more people now hold one of my books in their hands. For THAT, I’m forever grateful. Keep reading, friends, and we authors will keep writing. I appreciate our relationship more than you probably know.

Thank you.

The Beloved Community

Posted July 31st, 2015 by Tom

CTTT logoFor the past two and a half years I have worked for a non-profit organization I’ve been part of since it was formed almost 10 years ago. Coming to the Table is a committed and growing group of people providing leadership, resources and a supportive environment for all who wish to acknowledge and heal wounds from racism that is rooted in the United States’ history of slavery.

TheChildrenI’m currently reading The Children by David Halberstam and today read a statement by which Civil Rights Icon, and U.S. Congressman, John Lewis was profoundly moved. “The Beloved Community” jumped out at Lewis in the early 1960’s. “The Beloved Community” jumped out at me from the page of this powerful book today.

From The Children – “It was not a utopia, but it was a place where the barriers between people gradually came down and where the citizenry made a constant effort to address even the most difficult problems of ordinary people. It was above all else an ever idealistic community. It became a permanent part of Lewis’s vision of what he believed he was working toward.”

I’ve been involved with Coming to the Table for the past decade because I have witnessed the barriers between people gradually come down. I have witnessed folks making a constant effort to address the most difficult problems of ordinary people. In the most difficult times and circumstances that can lead to hopelessness, Coming to the Table gives me hope.

I encourage my friends and readers to spend time at the website (here), to follow Coming to the Table on Twitter (here), and consider joining the very active Facebook page (here).

Together we can build The Beloved Community.

 

Inside Out

Posted June 23rd, 2015 by Tom

My oldest granddaughter (age 8) and I went to see Inside Out, the new Disney/Pixar flick, during its opening weekend. In connection with my writing, my study of Trauma Healing and Infinite Possibilities, and my work with Coming to the Table, this is one powerful movie. I will absolutely be utilizing clips from Inside Out in future workshops and presentations I offer.Pixar Post - Inside Out characters closeup

Riley is uprooted from her home in Minnesota (Note: I originally called it the Midwest in this post, but when my granddaughter read the draft, she said, “that makes no sense, Papa, she was from Minnesota” so Minnesota it is) when her father starts a new job in California. The transition at home and at school does not go well. We get to watch that transition from inside Riley’s mind… and those of her mother and father… as we watch the key emotions inside their brains advise and direct their choices in life. Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear jockey for position in response to the events in Riley’s and her parents’ lives.

Understanding the impact that trauma has on us physically, spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally, and knowing how deeply rooted responses to trauma are in our bodies and brains, in our instincts and emotions; watching a IMG_7703fun, engaging, animated film explore issues of memory, emotions, and trauma in thoughtful and thought-provoking ways is refreshing and useful. I’ve been talking ever since with my granddaughter when she laughs or scowls — about who is at the control panel in her brain at the moment… joy or anger; disgust, or…

An interesting and critical aspect of the film for me is the moment I realized I had been rooting for Joy to be in control all the time and eventually understanding the important roles Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear play in the richness of our full lives.

The more I study trauma, how our brains work, racism, and Infinite Possibilities, I realize how clearly our thoughts become the things and events of our lives. How we direct our thoughts, particularly in reaction to what happens to us and others, goes a long way in determining who we become and how we create the rest of our lives.

You gotta see this movie (and respond in your own life accordingly).

Give BOOKS for the holidays! Save $$$ and support a Great Cause!

Posted November 22nd, 2014 by Tom

Christmas 2014bGIVE BOOKS!

SAVE MONEY!

SUPPORT A GREAT CAUSE!

This Holiday Season, you can give copies of Gather at the Table, or Inheriting the Trade, books from the King Legacy Series, the powerful An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (which I recently reviewed) or virtually ANY book published by Beacon Press to your friends, family, and professional colleagues and you will SAVE MONEY and SUPPORT HEALING in the United States!

My publisher, Beacon Press, has partnered with the non-profit organization Coming to the Table, for which I work as Executive Director, to offer this special. Order as many books as you want directly from Beacon Press. When you go to your “Cart” to check out, enter  CTTT in the “Coupon or Promotional Code” box in the upper left corner and click the “Apply” button. You will receive:

BeaconBooks

(click image to enlarge)

  • 20% discount on your full order

  • FREE shipping

  • and Beacon Press will donate 10% of ALL SALES to Coming to the Table

Make a positive difference in the reading lives of those around you, and in everyone who is served by Coming to the Table! I wish you a joyous and blessed holiday season. Let’s join together in working toward more Truth, Justice, Mercy, and Peace in 2015!

Thank you,

                           — Tom

Can you handle an honest conversation about race?

Posted May 4th, 2014 by Tom

Clippers_SterlingVisiting our son’s family in Maryland, including our new, 1-month-old grandson, I sat down on Sunday morning with the Washington Post. In it I read Jonathan Capehart’s opinion piece, “That honest conversation about race everyone wants? We can’t handle it.” It’s one of the best commentaries I’ve read in a while about the difficulty navigating “race talk.” Here are a couple of teaser quotes to encourage you to read the article:

“God bless Donald Sterling. The octogenarian owner of the Los Angeles Clippers was caught on tape doing the one thing we all need to do. He talked openly and honestly with a trusted friend about race.”

and

“In politics, there is even less room for frank discussions of prejudice or for even talking about race, especially on the GOP side of the aisle.”

I work for the organization Coming to the Table. We provide leadership, resources and a supportive environment for all who wish to acknowledge and heal wounds from racism that is rooted in the United States’ history of slavery. My friend Sharon Morgan and I wrote about “living” the Coming to the Table model together over a 3-year period in our book Gather at the Table.

Coming to the Table has members and supporters throughout the United States. It isn’t always easy or pretty, but we are engaged in an honest conversation about race. Our mission is to inspire more people to do the same. Learn more here. Join our Facebook group here.

(photo from U-T San Diego, (c) Associated Press)

Gather at the Table authors record Gettysburg Address for PBS site

Posted November 19th, 2013 by Tom

This post was originally published at Gather at the Table

 

LincolnSilhouetteNovember 19, 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. PBS and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns launched a national effort to encourage people to video record themselves reciting President Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech, one of the most important statements on human equality in American history.

Sharon Morgan and I participated in the project, as have President Obama, Stephen Colbert, Whoopi Goldberg, Rachel Maddow, Stephen Spielberg, and many others. You can watch our video at the Learn the Address website on PBS. Or you can watch it below from the Gather at the Table YouTube page.

We hope our participation will raise more awareness of the Coming to the Table approach to acknowledging and healing wounds from racism and the legacy of slavery that Sharon and I wrote about in Gather at the Table.

And may we all now re-dedicate ourselves “to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom…”

Criss-crossing the country with Bruce Springsteen

Posted October 23rd, 2012 by Tom

Yer killin’ me here, Bruce!

As regular readers of my blog are well aware, I’m on the road with my writing partner Sharon Morgan. We’re touring America to spread the word of our new book, Gather at the Table. Crowds are good. Response has been great. Lots of folks going home with a signed copy of the book in their hands.

We have just two appearances remaining in the Northeast portion of our tour: Wednesday, October 24 at Trinity Church in Boston, Massachusetts, and Thursday, October 25 at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Connecticut. We look forward with great anticipation to these two events.

At the same time…

Bruce and the E Street Band are also touring. I did catch a show in Detroit in April, just an 8-hour drive from where I spoke the previous day in Wisconsin – no big thang… but THIS week is killin’ me, Bruce! Read the rest of this entry »

Melissa Harris-Perry to interview DeWolf & Morgan this Sunday on MSNBC!

Posted October 19th, 2012 by Tom

The first national television exposure for Gather at the Table will take place this weekend when my co-author Sharon Morgan and I are interviewed by Melissa Harris-Perry on her show Sunday morning on MSNBC. We’re scheduled to be on during the final half-hour of the show; between 11:30am and noon (EDT).

Tune in!

The serendipitous ways we sometimes Gather at the Table

Posted October 17th, 2012 by Tom

One of my favorite moments of our book tour for Gather at the Table took place last night. A couple came to Sharon’s and my event at American University. How they found out about it brought a huge smile to my face.

A couple weeks ago they were in their local library. They saw a movie that looked interesting to them. They had never heard of it, but checked out Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North. They loved it and did some research about it online and found my website here. Checking the Appearances page, they saw that there was a new book and that Sharon and I would be near where they live last night. Voila! They came to American University.

Their journey continues; as do the serendipitous ways in which our lives intersect in this world.

Imagine that…

Nobel Peace Prize 2011 — blessed are the peacemakers!

Posted October 15th, 2011 by Tom

When the Nobel committee in Norway announced that this year’s Peace Prize was being awarded to three women, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, African peace activist Leymah Gbowee, and pro-democracy campaigner Tawakul Karman of Yemen, I was thrilled. Only twelve other women have won the Peace Prize in its 110-year history (what’s wrong with that picture?).

My personal interest is enhanced by the fact that two of the recipients are alumni of schools at which I’ve also had the privilege to study. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School, which also sponsors the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program.

Leymah Gbowee earned a master’s degree at Eastern Mennonite University in conflict transformation. She attended the Summer Peacebuilding Institute and has completed the STAR (Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience) program.

Congratulations to the Nobel Prize committee for your wisdom. This year’s selection focuses unmistakably on peace.

Copyright 2012 by Thomas Norman DeWolf | Website: James DeW. Perry