I’m Tommy Balassa and I’m a Science Fiction/Fantasy writer with aspirations of fame and fortune, but mostly I just want to make a living as a writer, working for no one but myself.
I’ve started this website because, as a writer with little experience with novels or storytelling, I feel lost and alone. There are so many great indie-authors who are self-published and sharing their wealth of knowledge, that I feel ashamed that I’m not doing better as a writer and Authrepreneur. (I’ll credit that word to Joanna Penn of thecreativepenn.com)
I’ve been in love with Science Fiction, Fantasy and intrigue since I was a little boy. On rented b/w or color TV’s from Seven Eleven I watched Lost in Space, The Outer Limits, UFO, Mission Impossible, Star Trek, The Invaders (1967-68), Space 1999, Land of the Giants and The Time Tunnel. In 1975 or 76, that’s when I started watching movies on TV over the summer break from school. No early bedtimes and I found two movies that year that changed me.
Three Days of the Condor made me fall in love with Faye Dunaway and along with The Parallax View with Warren Beatty made me think in ways I’d not thought before. Politically. Ideologically. Socially. Ethically. Those two movies from 1974 and 1975 have influenced my love of that type of story more than any others, until I saw The Bourne Identity.
What all of these things have in common is TV. Even the movies, I saw them all on TV in the 1970’s and early 80’s ( I saw STAR WARS 27 times in the theater that year – it’s the greatest – I think that’s a given). I didn’t read much then, other than comic books. Green Lantern, Batman and Superman, the Flash and Spiderman were my go-to comics. Stories about Sciencish stuff – fact or fiction, fantastic worlds and creatures and of course, intrigue, have always been my first loves. They all mingled together.
I’ve never been a voracious reader but my mom was. I think I veered away from books because that. Of course, I married a woman who loves to read and can easily disappear for a day with a good read.
Instead of reading books, I watched TV and Movies. I did and do read, however in my teens into my early twenties I was reading science and tech magazines, like Popular Science and Popular Mechanics, Omni Magazine, Discover Magazine and others like Mad Magazine, Heavy Metal, Analog, Starlog. For me, visual stimulation was everything. Story was something I expected to be shown on the screen.
The first book I read after the second grade was Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster, the Star Wars sequel published in 1978. I didn’t read another novel until 1985’s Contact by Carl Segan and not another until 1991 when Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn was released. I followed that with the next two in the Thrawn Trilogy – Dark Force Rising and The Last Command in 1992 and 1993.
In 1994 I found Muddle Earth by Hugo award winner John Bunner. I read it twice successively. I don’t remember why. I followed that up with more Star Wars novels; Truce at Bakura, Shadows of the Empire, Darksaber, The Courtship of Princess Leia, Children of the Jedi and then stopped. A Star Wars novel by a Hugo and Nebula Award Winning author stopped me in my tracks. I couldn’t read beyond page 11 of this novel. I’ve tried since then on four separate occasions to do this and I wasn’t able to get past page 11. Trust me when I tell you, other than The Two Towers by Tolkien, it’s the only book I’ve ever started and stopped more than once.
I’ve failed to mention that I read The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring when I was a boy, because I also read Chippy Chipmunk when I was 8. Truthfully, I liked Chippy better than Bilbo or Frodo, but I loved the story and concepts of the Hobbits and their worlds.
That’s why I waited until now to mention Tolkien. I love worlds. I love settings and the moods. I often build an idea for a story from a moment. I might walk outside on a cold night like tonight, it’s 24 degrees, snow on the ground and maybe it’s overcast? Amber lights from the city light up the clouds and cast an orange hue onto everything, creating a mystical kind of vibe. From that vibe my mind might go off and start creating a world. That’s where I have real issues as a writer.
That’s not story. That’s not concept. It’s not even an idea. It’s atmosphere, literally. Nothing more.
I also suffer from what I’m calling hump disease. I can write a lot. I have a manuscript I started and finally had to make myself stop at 120,000 words. I still hadn’t reached the first plot point, the turn, the pinch or whatever your guru calls it. It is a long series of backstories and setup, that on the surface was boring, but underneath was even more boring.
That manuscript sits. It waits for me to fix it. Some … day. Until that day arrives, I still have other stories I’ve started and learned from. Stories I love and concepts I’ve built from watching videos, listening to podcasts, attending webinars and reading a host of books on the craft, structure, about not using structure, business and so on. Many of these have been of great help. I’d still be working on that 120K words of kale if not for those who came before me and shared.
My mission here is to get your advise on how I can improve as a writer and have that advise available here for everyone to read and share. Hopefully my mistakes and missteps, along with your advise and direction, can not only help me attain my dream of being a financially successful author, but help you too.
With that in mind, I’ll be posting snippets of my writing, for anyone who signs up, to comment on. Once I figure this website stuff out, if you’ve signed up for the mailing list and joined the site, you’ll be able to post your own writings and get feedback from the community.
Please bare with me while I build this platform and scale it up to be a place for Unpublishable Will-Be Authors to share and hone their craft.
Thanks for reading, Peace.
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