Thursday, August 21, 2008

Music Inspires My Writing

I know many writers that require dead silence when writing. The slightest noise becomes an immediate distraction. They'd rather sweat in heat and humidity instead of listening to the hum of an air conditioner; or write in a vacuum to prevent the rattle of basement pipes from breaking a train of thought; or lock themselves in the attic if it will muffle the laughter of children playing outside from reaching their ears ...

And, I know other writers who will allow classical music -- as if trapped in an elevator -- to softly spill from tiny stereo speakers, a stereo kept in some other room, so that the sound just barely reaches the ears ... but is there. Still present. Ever so soothing.

Then, well, then there is me.

I can't write at home. Or rarely. Writing at home, regularly, is a distraction. The fridge is too close. The TV--right there. The bed--and the thought of a quick nap--too tempting.

No. When I write, it's in a public place. A loud place. A crowded place.

I saw an episode of Family Guy once. And in one of the (endless) flashbacks, it showed two guys in a Starbucks -- laptops open. One guy says, "Everyone look at me. I'm writing. I'm a writer..." And the other guy, says something along the lines of, "I need to let everyone see I'm writing...."

Yeah. I laughed. It was funny. I saw me in them. I do not write in public to "show off". I write in public because it inspires. I am a people watcher. A people studier. And as much as I enjoy listening to snipits of conversations as they take place around me ... I write best when I am listening to music.

There are really only two places where you can find me writing. At the Starbucks in Barnes & Noble in Greece Ridge Mall, or at Cafe Amenity on Ridge Road. I buy my coffee--what's that? Oh--yes, I like to buy a ... don't laugh ... iced vanila-flavored coffee with cream and heavy sugar. Heavy sugar. When you think enough sugar has been added. Add a ton more ...

Anyway, I sit with my coffee, turn on the laptop and --here's the important part-- pull out my Ipod and earbuds. While the computer boots up, I get the music started. When I write, I write with the music loud. My feet tap. My knees bounce. I sometimes sing along (tragic as that may be for those around me).

What happens is, the style of song I am listening to inspires the tempo and tone of my writing. Something fast, and hard has me typing fast and furious. The thoughts pouring from my brain quicker than my fingers can transpose them onto the LED screen. When a softer, slower song comes on, my brain down-shifts. My words are more articulate and timed, more careful and exact.

If my Ipod battery dies -- I'm done writing for the day. And if the battery was fully charged when I walked in -- and it still died, well then I must have had one heck of a productive day.

The art of writing is about your classic Three-Ds. Drive. Dedication. Devotion. Whether you write in the morning, at night, with music or in complete solitude -- I guess every writer needs to find what works best for them. The important thing is, if you have a story to tell, tell it. Without music, who knows, maybe I'd never have become a published author ...

What can you find on my Ipod?

Jars of Clay
Jeremy Camp
3 Doors Down
Hawk Nelson
Casting Crowns
Goo Goo Dolls
Garth Brooks
Randy Travis
Avril Lavigne
Chris Tomlin
Todd Agnew
The Fray
Chris Doughtry
Counting Crows

Thomas Phillips
Author of, The Molech Prophecy

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wiccans vs. Christians

I held two book signing events in Buffalo this past weekend.

At the first, two Wiccans approached the table where I sat and signed copies of my novel, The Molech Prophecy. They read the back cover of the book (provided below), and then proceeded to tell me how upset and offended they were about the story I’d written.

At the second signing, oddly enough, two different Wiccan’s came over to the signing table. They read the book’s back cover, and –seemingly excited—bought a copy.

To be clear, when writing fiction, everything still needs to remain primarily factual.

In The Molech Prophecy, the principal story revolves around Christians and a rogue Wiccan.

In my extensive research on Wicca, their beliefs and practices, I often came across their principal rule: Harm None.

The story I tell centers around a Wiccan coven leader who, in order to fulfill a prophecy, breaks the cardinal rule of his faith.

Is it “Hollywood” story-telling. Sure. Was it meant to be offensive? Of course not. Are the facts about Wicca that I incorporated into the story factual? You bet they are.

Unfortunately, when you write fiction or non-fiction, you will stumble across critics. Generally, I do not mind criticism—from someone who actually read my book. However, I do get offended as an author when my book receives negative criticism from someone who only spends forty seconds reading the back cover summary of the entire novel and from that, passes judgment.

What’s the best way to decide if The Molech Prophecy is offensive, or entertaining, is for you to read the book yourself – and then decide. And if you do—I would love to hear your thoughts, good, bad, or indifferent!

Here is a definition of Wicca, as described in an article found on Suite 101:

Wicca is a Pagan revival of European pre-Christian religions. Often called the religion of witches, the Wicca practice a religion of secrecy. They do not actively seek new members and they do not convert people to their religion.

Wicca is a loosely woven religion. Each Wiccan is allowed to choose what he or she believes. For example, some believe in reincarnation of the soul. Others believe that the soul travels to Summerland after the body dies. Still, others believe that we travel to Summerland after death and, when we are ready, reincarnate as birds, animals, and plants.

The origin of Wicca is hotly debated. Some believe that author Gerald Gardner invented Wicca. This is a half-truth. Wicca evolved from ancient Shamanism. It traveled through the ages, shaping and changing into classical Paganism. When Christianity gained power, Paganism was perverted into a fairytale of evil witches, imps, and satanic goats. Gerald Gardner, and others, took what was left of the Old Ways and rebuilt a new Pagan religion: Wicca. Wiccans practice a religion of duality. They believe in the God and Goddess or the Lord and Lady. Both God and Goddess are equal, and each presides over different aspects of nature and life. There is the Lord of the Hunt, Lady of the Woods, Sky Father, and Earth Mother.

The Wicca internalize their God and Goddess. They believe that their deities are within them and within all things in nature.

Wiccans are often accused of not having morals because they do not have a book that lists rules for behavior. Instead, Wiccans have one golden rule: do what you will, harm none. This simple rule governs all that Wiccans do.
Suite 101, Wicca Defined

Thomas Phillips
Author of The Molech Prophecy
In Stores Everywhere

Friday, August 8, 2008

Upcoming Signings

Kind of a boring blog -- but wanted to post my upcoming signings and radio interviews:

Saturday, August 16, 2008, Starting at 2:00 PM, Borders, 2015 Walden Ave, Cheektowaga, NY 14225, 716-685-2844

Saturday, August 16, 2008 Starting at 6:00 PM, Barnes & Noble, McKinley Mall, 3701 McKinley Parkway, Buffalo, NY 14219, 716-822-0832

Saturday, August 30, 2008, Starting at Noon, Borders Express, Boulevard Mall, 702 Alberta Drive, Buffalo, NY 14226, 716-833-8820

Saturday, August 30, 2008, Starting at 4:00 PM, Borders Express, 4545 Transit Road, Williamsville, NY 14221, 716-634-0335

Saturday, September 13, 2008, Starting at 1:00 PM, Barnes & Noble, 3956 Route 31, Liverpool, NY 13090, 315-622-0370

Saturday, September 20, 2008, Starting at 8:00 AM, Bagels And Blessings, WRCI 990 AM
With hostess, Ethel Chadwick

Friday, September 26, 2008 Starting at 7:00 PM, Borders Books, 30 Square Drive, Victor, NY 14564, Phone: 585.421.9230

Saturday, September 27, 2008, Starting at Noon, Barnes & Noble, 4401 Transit Road, Suite 800, Clarence, NY 14421, 716-634-1011

Friday, October 10, 2008, Starting at 7:00 PM, Talking Leaves, 3158 Main Street, Buffalo, NY, 14214, (716) 837-8554

Saturday, October 11, 2008, Starting at 11:00 AM, Alpha & Omega, 1601 Penfield Road, Rochester, NY 14625, (585) 381-1250

Saturday, October 11, 2008, Starting at 2:00 PM, Alpha & Omega, 125 White Spruce Blvd., Rochester, NY 14623, (585) 272-8080

Saturday, October 11, 2008, Starting at 6:00 PM, Alpha & Omega, 1540 Ridge Rd West, Rochester, NY 14615, (585) 697-7693

Saturday, October 25, 2008, Starting at 11:00 AM, The Book Shoppe, 519 Main Sreet, Medina, NY 14103, 585-798-3642

Friday, November 7, 2008, Starting at 7:00 PM, Barnes & Noble, Webster Towne Center, 1070 Ridge Road, Webster, NY 14580, 585-872-9710

Saturday, November 8, 2008, Starting at 1:00 PM, Creekside Books & Coffee, 35 Fennell Street, Skaneateles, NY 1352, 315-685-0379

Hope to see you at some of these!

Take care, and God Bless,


International Christian Retail Show in Orlando, FL July 13-17, 2008

Without much time to recoup from the July 11th book signing at Barnes & Noble to kick off the release of The Molech Prophecy, I was Florida bound.

Whitaker House is an absolutely amazing publisher. You don’t often hear authors dedicate much time to talking about their publisher. The topic is usually about themselves, or their titles. And as much as I want to talk about me, and my book, none of it would be possible without a publisher. And when I was fortunate enough to find a home with Whitaker, this became that much more of a reality.

Please remember, I am a first time novelist. No one really knows Thomas Phillips. Few have heard of The Molech Prophecy.

In May, 2008, Whitaker asked me if I’d be interested in attending the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in Orlando, Florida in July. Of course, I told them I’d be honored.
What I did not expect was: 1. Flying first class, 2. Limo at the airport to take me to the hotel, 3. The publicist coordinating a TV, radio and a variety of media interviews, 4. Limo to take me back to the airport, 5. First class flight home …

Unreal. Need to say it again. Unreal.

I knew that fellow suspense novelist, Mark Mynheir was going to be at the conference. Over the last several months Mark has provided support, encouragement, endorsements, and friendship. So I emailed Mark telling him it would be such an honor to finally meet him in person.

Unfortunately, Mark was going to be leaving the conference the day I was arriving. It looked like we might have an hour or two where our attendance would overlap. Of course, my flight was a little delayed. The room at the hotel wasn’t ready …

Mark, a Floridian, called me on my cell. He told me he explained to his wife he might be a little late getting home. Why? He wanted to wait for me. We met in the lobby of the Orange County Convention Center. Working as a Homicide detective, Mark stood a few feet taller than me—which was fine, I looked up to him anyway. We were dressed very similarly, with matching gray-blue shirts and ties … which, as he proceeded to escort me around the conference showroom, was pointed out by each and every person he introduced me to.

Like a mentor, Mark spent more than an hour, leading me from booth to booth, giving me the rundown on how the conference worked, what to expect, what not to expect, and how not to let any of it get to me (good and bad). Mark introduced me to some of his author friends—and my jaw, surely stuck in a dropped-open position—consisting of: Robin Jones Gunn, Terri Blackstock, Dave Lampert, Angela Hunt … ah yeah, hence the “O” shaped mouth …

The days I spent in Orlando went quickly. I was at the conference from open to close. In bed by 10:00 … which made me laugh. Who goes to bed at 10:00? This guy right here!

One of the best parts of the convention was seeing the Whitaker House booth. The set-up was wonderful. And better still, I had the opportunity to meet the staff working behind the scenes to help sell my book.

Please, stop by my Myspace and Shoutlife sites to take a look at the photos from this convention.

Take care, and God bless,


First Book Signing for The Molech Prophecy (7/11/08)

Looking back to when I first signed a contract for The Molech Prophecy with Whitaker House (September 2007), it felt like July 2008 would never get here.

Fortunately, editors and in-house publicists, kept me busy through the months.
The work that goes on behind the scenes prior to the release of a novel is, at times, a bit overwhelming. I enjoyed every minute of it, from proofing galleys, soliciting reviews and endorsement blurbs, to coordinating a wide variety of interviews.

It was mid-May when I set up my first book signing for The Molech Prophecy. It’s hard to believe that someone could have a “relationship” with a place, but I am most fond of the Barnes & Noble in The Mall at Greece Ridge Center, in Rochester, NY. There was no question in my mind that my first signing would be held in that store.

The store, or should I say Rebecca—the store’s events coordinator, was thrilled to hold the launch release for The Molech Prophecy.

Despite sending out invites, promoting the signing on sites like Myspace and Shoutlife, and begging friends and family to show, I worried the night before and the day of the signing. (Book signings in the summer are tougher than when held in fall, or winter months—why? Because people are busy. Vacationing. At the Beach. They want to be outside. Soon enough inclement and unpredictable weather will nearly paralyze the western New York area for six months …)
Although my signing started at 7:00 PM that Friday night, I arrived around 6:00. I’m a bit neurotic that way. (Like if I go to the movies and the coming attractions have already started—I have to resist demanding my money back and walking out …).

By 6:30, a few people had arrived. I signed a copy or two, and had a time to spend talking with people. And all the while, my stomach twisted into knots. Where was everyone else? Wasn’t anyone else going to show? I’d casually glance at my watch. 6:33. The event didn’t even start—officially—for another 27 minutes … but still …

At 6:45, my stomach twisted in the opposite direction. I saw people I recognized coming in through the street-entrance doors, stepping out of aisles, coming around corners. The quiet events area’s library-like silence shattered. A line formed.

My ten year old daughter was charged with the responsibility of working as my personal photographer. I sat at the table—which was ridiculous. As each person came up for a copy of the book, I stood, hugged and kissed them. Some people I knew (and some I did not—but it didn’t matter, lol).

I saw people from work, family, friends, Myspace friends, strangers … and two hours later, my hand numb, my gel pen out of ink, I sat back in the wood chair and took a moment to catch my breath.

The day had been more successful than I’d hoped. I felt so blessed that people came to share in my excitement about having a novel published. Blessed.

Please visit either my Myspace site, or Shoutlife site to see a slide show of photos taken by my daughter at the signing.

God bless,