Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Holidays 2012

  
"The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in
one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not
enchantment then where is it to be found?"

J. B. Priestley

Happy Holidays to you and yours from the House of Tystad.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving


I was invited to be one of author Terri Giuliano Long's guests during her "For the Love of Love" event and, fortunately for me, the topic I was asked to write about was food. Followers of this blog know how I feel about food and my contribution to Terri's event allowed me to get a little more specific. In anticipation of one of my favorite holidays, here it is again. Bon appetit.

For the Love of Food
by Todd R. Tystad

Most people agree that it was Socrates who first said, “One should eat to live, not live to eat.” Far be it from me to disagree with one of the world’s greatest thinkers, but I just have to wonder if we really can have it both ways. I propose, “Live to eat and share food with those you love.”

Love of food for me isn’t simply about the food itself. It’s about enjoying a multi-sensory experience with the people you share it with. We all need nourishment to survive, but sharing food with the people we love allows us to thrive.

When I think back to all of the food I’ve enjoyed with family and friends over a lifetime, it takes me back to the moments and experiences that make up the very fabric of who I am. I remember corn on the cob in my grandmother’s kitchen, scallops wrapped in bacon at a friend’s wedding, roasted red bell pepper soup with colleagues in the mountains, grilled steak served outside a livestock auction, wedding cake, PB&J, Thanksgiving turkey… the list goes on.

I come from a family where love is expressed through the food that is served and, sometimes unfortunately, through the quantity of food on the plate. The events that are anticipated and planned most meticulously are the shared meals that give us a moment away from the world outside and allow us to break bread with the people who we will hold in our hearts forever.

For me, the effort put into creating a meal and serving it to the people I care about is the best way to say, “I love you.”

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Football Season


The annual calendar at the House of Tystad always begins with football season. Summer is over, a new school year has begun, and our attention is now focused on a sport that is absolutely greater than the sum of its parts.

Our shared American culture is diverse enough that a person could conceivably grow up not knowing the meaning of the word huddle or the responsibilities of a quarterback. But cultural literacy requires at the very minimum a proficiency in the basic terms that are associated with the game of football. The language of the game is a part of our shared language, whether the speakers have played the game or not. Football is a part of who we are.

So, as we begin another football season, I want to wish the very best to the players, the coaches, and the fans who make the game what it is. Let's not forget that before it's a broadcast program, it's a game played in grassy parks and empty lots in every community. Before it's a high dollar ticketed event, it's a sport that teaches players the meaning of teamwork and character and dedication. Before anything else, it's an endeavor that has taught life lessons to countless athletes who may have not otherwise had opportunities that football provided.

I'm a football fan. This is the time of year that I wait for. It's a brand new season and anything is possible. See you at the game.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Growing Up on a Summer Afternoon


I was out walking the dog around the neighborhood a while back when I came across a moment in time that's stayed with me. I could see a boy, about 12 years old or so, mowing a lawn and being directed by a man who looked like he was probably the boy's father. Nearby, two other men stood watching. As I passed by, I figured that this was the boy's first time mowing the lawn. The smile on his face and his careful attention to the task told me that it was a moment that he would remember for a long time.

As I came near one of the two men watching, I said hello and commented that it was a great moment when a young man can take over the job of mowing the lawn. The man smiled and agreed, adding that the boy had been looking forward to it for a long time. There was pride in his voice and it made me happy to have come across something so simple and yet so profound.

In America, we don't have a singular rite of passage that formally marks a young person's transition into adulthood. We've got church confirmations, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Quinceaneras, and Sweet Sixteen celebrations. Getting a driver's license or registering to vote might be as universal an experience as you can find. But I think the real coming of age happens in moments like the one I witnessed.

Families live together and care for each other and deal with the good and the bad, sometimes on a minute-by-minute basis. Washing the dishes, changing the baby, and mowing the lawn are the things that families do together. You can care for the people around you whether you're young or old. But when you can take over a family responsibility and make it your own, you're really growing up. And that's what I had the privilege of seeing as I was just passing by.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Hot Summer Tip #3

Grilled Anaheim Peppers With Cream Cheese and Bacon

Hot Summer Tip #3: Food

Food is always a popular topic at the House of Tystad and summer provides some extra time to take the food outdoors. My grill gets a lot of use, especially when the weather heats up. Whether it's peppers or burgers, some of my favorite meals are prepared on the grill.

This summer's favorite so far has been Mahi Mahi Burgers from Trader Joe's. Served with baguette slices topped with Cilantro and Chive Yogurt Dip and Gazpacho (also from Trader Joe's), it makes an unforgettable meal.

Whether you're grilling or cooking in the kitchen, take your mind off the heat by enjoying a sizzling summer meal. Here are some recipes from the House of Tystad kitchen that I hope you'll enjoy:




Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hot Summer Tip #2


Hot Summer Tip #2: Movies

When it gets so hot that even your dog doesn't want to go outside, it's time to take advantage of the supercooled air inside your neighborhood movie theater. The House of Tystad has been counting down the days until July 20, opening day for The Dark Knight Rises. It's less than a week away and the anticipation is huge.

July has already been good to us (The Amazing Spider-Man, Savages) and I'm certain that the best is yet to come. Feel free to share your thoughts here.

"He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight."

The Dark Knight (2008)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hot Summer Tip #1


Hot Summer Tip #1: Music

Whatever you're doing this summer will be even better if you've got the right music. I listen to independent radio and my favorite station is Lincoln, Nebraska's KZUM.

KZUM is heard locally at 89.3 FM and - thanks to live streaming - on the web at KZUM.org. Staffed entirely by volunteers, it's Nebraska's only independent radio station and offers what is perhaps the most eclectic variety of music, news, and discussion you'll ever find in one place. Here's a short list of some of my favorite shows (all times listed are Central Time):

  • Saturday 5:00-7:00 p.m. - "Mundo Latino" (Latin Music)
  • Monday 7:30-9:30 a.m. - "Dance Bands" (Big Band Music)
  • Monday 1:00-3:00 p.m. - "Buenos Tangos" (Tango Music)
  • Monday 6:00-6:30 p.m. - "Canine 360" (a talk show about dogs)
  • Friday 6:00-8:00 a.m. - "Morning Breath" (a variety of music)
  • Friday 8:00-10:00 a.m. - "Turtle Island" (World Music)

And last, but certainly not least, KZUM plays the blues in all its varieties every weekday afternoon from 3:00-6:00 p.m. On any given day, you may hear classics from the archives, brand new recordings, or interviews with blues artists. Every day is something different.

Visit their website at KZUM.org for the program guide and you'll find a lot to choose from.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Independence Day


Happy Birthday, America. It's time to take a break from everything else going on in the summertime and celebrate the great country we live in. Between the barbecues, the community events, and the fireworks, be sure to remember the real meaning of the holiday.

While we're celebrating, take a moment to think of our men and women in uniform. Our military doesn't take the day off. Ever. Thank you to those who have given us so much.

Take some time to think of our pets too. Protect them from the sounds and the heat that can endanger their health.

Happy Independence Day!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Moments That Matter


If we agree that people, art, and nature comprise many of the moments that allow us to look within ourselves and realize who we are in the world, then we would come to an important conclusion: It's critical to pay attention, especially to the people around us and to the world we live in. If we don't, then we've become busy dying instead of becoming busy living.

The natural world may be God's handiwork, but I really am partial to the young and hopeful apprentice, humanity. From the dawn of time, people have been creating art. I'd like to believe that art nourishes us with an unspoken message: "Here is some art. Enjoy it. Now, get out and create some more art of your own." And this, I believe, is just as important as enjoying and responding to the moments we experience in nature.

So make a point to enjoy some art. Listen to some music and later, watch a movie. Visit a museum or check in on a website that brings art directly to you. There are countless moments that are waiting and won't be discovered unless you make the effort to look for them. No one knows what you can create until a moment moves you to inspiration.

Make art a part of your life, watch for those moments that speak just to you, and respond in kind by creating something that provides someone else a moment that they'll remember. It's all a matter of consciously looking for those moments and then making them relevant in your life. Just keep looking.
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
Ferris Bueller's Day Off, written and directed by John Hughes

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Get Busy Living

Evergreen, Colorado

The Sunday Night Movie at the House of Tystad a while back was The Shawshank Redemption. We watched it on DVD and the video quality was amazing. Not all movies made 18 years ago hold up to the test of time, but this one really does. It's a beautiful film that anyone who loves movies really must see. Ask around and you'll be surprised at how many people count it among their favorite movies of all time. If you watch it for the first time or again for the 50th time, you'll be glad you did.

One of many reasons to love the film is its message to "Get busy living or get busy dying." That line of dialogue is taken verbatim from the Stephen King short story "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" (upon which the screenplay is based), which was one of four stories in the 1982 King book Different Seasons. Different Seasons also contains the stories "Apt Pupil" (also made into a film), "The Breathing Method," and "The Body," which was made into the film Stand By Me (an outstanding movie that warrants its own discussion).

As an aside, The Shawshank Redemption was adapted for the screen and directed by Frank Darabont, who has directed other films based on Stephen King's books. He also created the AMC television series "The Walking Dead" and is reportedly a close friend of Stephen King.

The case can be made that Stephen King, who is known to be a huge fan of rock and roll, borrowed the idea for the line "Get busy living or get busy dying" from the Bob Dylan lyric "He not busy being born is busy dying" from the song "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," which appeared on the classic 1965 Dylan album "Bringing It All Back Home." The lines are strikingly similar and it would make sense that Stephen King would be appreciative of Dylan's genius with the English language.

In any case, the message we get from watching The Shawshank Redemption - probably from Dylan, through King, through Darabont - is that we each need to make a simple decision to either embrace life and live it to its fullest... or be satisfied with the status quo. I won't elaborate on that issue here, but I will say that one of the things that inspires me the most and motivates me to live my life to the fullest is art. Specifically, film as art. And that brings us full circle. Creativity breeds creativity and art fosters art.

Thank you, Bob Dylan. Now I'm busy.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Peace, Dogs, and Spiritual Moments


I was looking for peace. I just took my dog Pablo the Chihuahua out for a walk around the neighborhood and, between the exercise and the near-death experience brought on by an angry Irish Setter on the loose, I think we both got a lot out of it. Pablo got some serious cardio and a newfound realization that he isn't nearly as intimidating as he thinks he is (a hard life lesson for a Chihuahua). I got to breathe in some fresh air and feel an important connection to nature and the value of life... my own and my dog's.

One of the most peaceful people I've ever known was a religious man, a man of the cloth. He was the leader of his congregation when I knew him and I count him among the most influential people I've ever known. He used to say that his most spiritual moments came not in a house of worship and not among other people, but late at night when he took his dog outside for a walk. He said that having that time alone with his dog, walking in the darkness, he was able to reach a point of having an honest and satisfying conversation with God. Those moments gave him peace.

I'll never forget that lesson, that we can sometimes be surprised where we can find our own peace. My friend clued me in to the idea that we need to pay attention to the moments that come unexpectedly and allow us to look deep within ourselves and realize who we are in the world. And that these moments can bring us true peace.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Making Everybody Happy


Author and blogger Beth Revis wrote a terrific post a couple of days ago that really got me thinking. She started out by saying that she has a friend who hates puppies. Hard to believe, but apparently there are people like that. Beth then mentions people hating Harry Potter, chocolate, and bacon (also hard to believe) before leading up to dealing with negative book reviews.

Her point is that no matter how great a book is - just like no matter how cute, cuddly, and adorable a puppy is - there will always be someone who doesn't like it. Beth is gentle in her approach, concluding with the idea that people are just different. I prefer to think of it as the problem dwelling within the puppy-hater, but that's just me.

The lesson I'm reminded of with Beth's post is that there is no way in the world that you can make everybody happy. It's a lesson I've tried to learn, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, and is one that I need reminded of occasionally. I'm glad Beth reminded me that people are different and you should never be surprised at what some people cannot stand.

But just for the record, I absolutely love puppies.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Summer Vacation

The Kind of Bike I Like

Summer vacation has long at last arrived at the House of Tystad. With it has come all of the hopes and excitement of a season almost entirely unencumbered by schedules and deadlines, to-do lists and routines. Following the traditional school schedule allows both students and adults the pleasure of casting off the shackles of a long and demanding school year and joyfully transitioning to a well-deserved break from the ordinary. Every day of summer can and should be a new adventure, so long as the sunscreen is plentiful and the bug spray is DEET-free.

The creative mind runs wild with the possibilities of what a summer day can hold. Nature enthusiasts plot their paths through the forest, sporting types pump their bike tires and arrange backyard ball games, and homeowners from coast to coast dig and mow and till until nightfall. It's nothing short of breathtaking to think of an entire country's populace coming alive under the warmth of the summer sun.

And so, in keeping with the long-standing summer tradition of all proud citizens of Los Angeles - or, in this case, proud Los Angeles expatriates - we shall vacate the House of Tystad and go to the movies. Exercising our God-given right to spend time in a darkened and air-conditioned movie theater is one that must be cherished and practiced frequently, especially during this all-too-brief season of the summer blockbuster. Matinee prices are simply Hollywood's whispered message to come early and come often.

So, out of our way, joggers. Step aside, sightseers. Our showtime draws near. And we need to get this out of the way before it's time to light the bar-b-que and contemplate which Netflix movie we'll be watching tonight. There's only so much summer, you know. And you've got to make the most of it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Free Speech, One Year Later


The House of Tystad is celebrating the one-year anniversary of this blog tonight. Like I promised, it has not been about cats, weight loss, bass fishing, or the new rules of dating. It has, however, been about dogs, creativity, important moments, and motorcycles. I've tried to touch on all the important things in life (oh yeah, I forgot food) and I've barely even started on music.

Thanks to everyone who's followed along. I appreciate your comments and it means a lot to me that you take the time to check in. Happy anniversary. Here's to many, many more.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The House of Tystad on Wattpad

Random Photo Taken in Downtown Los Angeles

Wattpad is a great site where readers and writers can share stories, poems, and other types of creative writing. Like its more formal and stuffy cousin Scribd, it has a social component. But Wattpad is more like a party that celebrates fiction. A very rowdy party.

Wattpad is the largest and most active reading and writing community on the Internet with 1.3 million users. It has more than three million stories and using the site is free. For readers on the go, Wattpad mobile applications are available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry devices.

I've shared some blog posts on Wattpad that have appeared previously on this blog. If you'd like to see what Wattpad looks like, here's my page: Todd R. Tystad. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The House of Tystad and Social Media


The House of Tystad will celebrate the one-year anniversary of this blog in two weeks. With well over 5,000 page views, I'd like to thank each and every reader for their time and participation. Now is the perfect time for some reflection on where we've been and where we're headed.

Projects of this sort require regular care and attention, just like other social media. I'd like to make decisions about how to best budget my time and, honestly, writing fiction is a whole lot more fun than writing about writing fiction. Blogs can fun, but I'd rather be making stuff up.

I'm currently 20% into Book 2 of the Asa Roth Series, which will be a follow-up to Blue Hill. I've also developed a concept for a follow-up to Seven Moments in Time, which will provide satisfaction to everyone who has been curious about where all of those characters ended up. It's time to kick things into high gear and I'd like for you to have a part in deciding the destination.

I'd appreciate having you weigh in on what you've enjoyed, would like to read more about, or anything else. Feel free to share your thoughts with comments here, or email me at TRTinNE (at) gmail (dot) com. You can also follow me by clicking on the following links:


Thank you for your time and your support. I truly appreciate it. Now, back to writing.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Family Literacy


"Family literacy" involves the idea that members of a child's family are the child's first teachers and will continue to influence literacy development throughout childhood. Many schools are taking the initiative by offering family literacy programs to support students and their families.

Family Literacy: Developing a Program for Your Elementary School was written for parents and educators who are just beginning to explore the idea of family literacy or are ready to start a program. It's a research-based guide that's easy to understand and provides ideas that can be used in any elementary school. It's available on Amazon in ebook and paperback formats.

Family Literacy:
Developing a Program for Your Elementary School
by Todd R. Tystad 
"This helpful guide draws upon current research to examine the reasons for implementing a family literacy program. It also presents programming ideas that can be used and adapted to fit the needs of different schools and their respective families. This guide can be used to make decisions, gather resources, and develop and implement a family literacy program in any elementary school."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Peppers


In my continuing series of recipes from the House of Tystad kitchen, today I bring you something that you'll never forget. Fire up the grill and get set for peppers like you've never had them before.

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Peppers

small Jalapeno peppers
softened cream cheese
bacon
brown sugar
toothpicks

Clean, cut, and hollow out the peppers. Some people cut them in half lengthwise to make the stuffing process easier, but I like them whole. Also, tenderfoots like to blanch the peppers before stuffing them (which will aid in bringing down the heat of the peppers, as does the cooking process), but I prefer them au naturale.

The classic version of this recipe calls for the peppers to be breaded and fried. But at the House of Tystad, we believe that bacon makes anything better. And so it goes a little something like this...

Stuff each pepper with cream cheese, wrap it in bacon, roll it in brown sugar, and secure the bacon with a toothpick. Then, bake or grill the peppers until the bacon is fully cooked. I always use foil underneath because you never know how much the cream cheese will leak.

The beauty of this recipe is the brown sugar. If you get it right, the brown sugar will caramelize and create a sweet balance to the salt of the bacon and the spiciness of the peppers. I'd advise you to make a lot more than you think you'll need because they're going to be the most popular peppers at the party. Ole!





Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Significance of Amazon Book Reviews

 

Authors Gwen Perkins and Anne R. Allen recently wrote about book reviews on Amazon. One of the most important points they make is that a lot of Amazon's customers don't realize the significance of reviews. It's a fact that reviews on Amazon aren't just there for the shopping experience. Even if you never read reviews, they affect what you see when you shop on Amazon.

Amazon uses a series of algorithms to determine which books will be suggested to customers. A minimum number of reviews is required before a book is added to the "You Might Like" or "Also Bought" lists. What that means for unknown authors is that, without reviews, it's a struggle to get the word out about their books. That's when reviews become critical.

Perkins points out that reviews don't need to be lengthy and Allen states that a minimum of 20 words will qualify as a review. She also says that the Amazon star system is unique in that anything less than four or five stars does nothing to get a book onto the "Also Bought" lists; it's used differently than a star system that would be used to rate restaurants or films.

So please consider visiting Amazon to spend a minute or two sharing your thoughts about a book you've read. The author will certainly be grateful and potential readers will appreciate it too. It's quick, it's painless, you don't even have to use your real name, and it will allow newer authors to meet Stephen King and Suzanne Collins on a somewhat level playing field. Game on.

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April 21, 2012

I'd like to acknowledge the reader who commented here and all of the KindleBoards users who assert the claim that book reviews have nothing at all to do with Amazon's algorithms. What remains after all the discussion is over is the fact that no one, aside from those who dwell deep inside the nerve center of Amazon, knows exactly how those algorithms are actually used. We can only venture a guess based on anecdotal evidence and that, of course, leads to a variety of personal opinions.

The good news is that all of those personal opinions led to this blog receiving literally ten times the normal Internet traffic last weekend and that tells me that I should be writing about controversial topics a lot more often. So you can look forward to several future posts on politics, religion, intimate relationships, and whether toilet tissue should hang over or under the roll.

That won't actually happen, but what I will do is continue to follow the lead of Gwen Perkins and Anne R. Allen, the authors whose blog posts I drew my information from to begin with. They're writing and blogging and continuing to discuss the issues that matter to writers and Amazon customers. It's a wild new frontier out there and somebody's got to populate it with books.

And finally, many thanks to those of you who are writing book reviews. They really do matter.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The House of Tystad on Scribd

Random Photo Taken in My Back Yard

Scribd has been around for five years, but it was only recently that I started to look into the tremendous amount of material stored there. It's a document-sharing website that has frequently been described as the "You Tube for documents." The site houses essays, reports, presentations, books, magazines, recipes, and all sorts of other text and images.

Archived blog posts from The House of Tystad are now available on Scribd. You can always search my "Blog Archive" here on this blog, but Scribd makes it easy to find posts by title and then search with tags and categories to find related documents. It's a lot of fun and you'd be surprised at what you can find to read. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Here's my page on Scribd: Todd R. Tystad. You can find my documents on my shelf, or just click on these links:






Sunday, April 1, 2012

Blue Hill: The Book Trailer



Blue Hill is now available in the Amazon Kindle Owners' Lending Library. That means you can borrow it for free if you have Amazon Prime. It also means that Blue Hill is now available only from Amazon.

In other news, my good friends at Google made it possible for me to create book trailers for Blue Hill and Seven Moments in Time. You can find both trailers on You Tube. I hope you enjoy them.



Friday, March 30, 2012

Todd R. Tystad: Three Questions


Los Angeles-based author Milda Harris welcomed me to her blog today and asked me three difficult questions. I did okay with the first two, but the third had me stumped. I resisted the temptation to Google the answer and took a wild guess. Here's her post: Writer Girl in L.A.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring is Here

  
Spring is Here
by Todd R. Tystad

Unfortunate news for the skiers and snowboarders among us is the fact that spring has, undeniably, arrived in our fair burg. Signs are everywhere and even though the possibility of snow and icy cold winds will remain for a few weeks, the worst of an uncharacteristically mild winter is over. Whine if you must, but spring has arrived here in the Midwest.

Those who know me well know how fond I am of the climate in Southern California. I spent the better part of 15 years honoring the changing of the seasons by making hard decisions like whether to wear a short or long-sleeved t-shirt, whether I could eat outside, and whether it was an SPF 15 or 30 day. If I ever wanted to remember what winter felt like, I'd head up to the Bay Area for an afternoon.

Now that I'm in the final stretch of a long haul in America's heartland, I watch carefully for any sign that the awful Season of the Dead (a.k.a. winter) is on its way out. I celebrate every indication that winter could be over. At this very moment I can see baby blades of grass struggling to rise up above last year's growth, lilac leaf buds preparing to burst open, and clouds of pollen telling me that it's time for authentic warm weather.

With spring's new growth comes our traditional occasions that symbolize new life and freedom. Easter and Passover are only weeks away and as we all prepare for the time we'll spend with our families and friends, I'd like to share some reminders that will help us all make it to summer without any gloom, despair, divorce, or assault charges.

First of all, please remember that we all have to put up with some crazy relatives at holiday meals sometimes. If we didn't, it wouldn't seem at all like a holiday meal. Secondly, please do not give baby rabbits, chicks, or ducklings to children as gifts. Few households are suited to safely adopting such animals and giving a plush pet is a much better choice. Seriously. And finally, get outside and enjoy the weather while you can. Like Mom always said, there's no reason to stay cooped up in the house all day when there's beautiful weather outside.

Celebrate spring. Celebrate family. Celebrate the fact that you don't need to hide indoors for fear of frostbite or collapsed lungs. Spring is here. Now go out and do something about it.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Seven Moments in Time: Free and Rabbit-Approved



Readers of this blog will be happy to know that I'm doing another promotional day with Amazon. Seven Moments in Time is available as a free download right now and for the rest of today.

Seven Moments in Time
by Todd R. Tystad 
"This collection of seven short stories examines human relationships and the complicated journey from childhood to adulthood. From a moment in a sandbox to a moment in a synagogue to a moment spent outside a Christmas party, these are the moments that reveal who we are and how we're weathering the journey."
Readers will also be happy to know that Seven Moments in Time is now rabbit-approved. I was fortunate enough to have my short fiction collection featured as a Free Friday E-book on the Bunny's Review Book Blog yesterday. I was also asked to be a guest on the blog today, so I wrote an affectionate piece called "Spring is Here" - in which I managed to mention snowboarders, lilac leaf buds, divorce, and assault all in the same post.

So go get yourself a free copy of Seven Moments in Time, check out the Bunnies, and enjoy your St. Patrick's Day. (Don't forget to leave a review on Amazon, mate.) Cheers!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

7 Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day


With St. Patrick's Day just one week away, it's time to make plans for how you're going to celebrate. I've put together a lucky seven list of ways that the House of Tystad marks one of its most favorite days of the year. You've got seven days to get ready, so get on it.

1. Watch a movie about Irish blokes. I really like and highly recommend The Commitments. The soundtrack is outstanding.

2. Listen to some Irish music. My short list includes The Killigans and The Dropkick Murphys.

3. Cook up some Irish food. There has always been and will always be corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes on St. Patrick's Day at the House of Tystad.

4. Wear some green. Keep it under control, but this one is just a given.

5. Visit a St. Patrick's Day community festival. There's nothing like celebrating with some kindred spirits.

6. Watch a St. Patrick's Day parade. Sometimes even better than a festival because the good ones are a festival in and of themselves.

7. Stop in at an Irish pub. Some might say that St. Patrick's Day is too busy and crowded, but... you ever notice that those people aren't Irish? Don't listen to them. Live a little.

And, as if you need any more inspiration, I leave you with my favorite Irish blessing.

May those that love us, love us.
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles
So we will know them by their limping.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Screenwriting Resources


I had the pleasure of participating in a writing festival yesterday. It's not often that writers get the chance to spend a whole day with other writers doing nothing but writing and talking about writing. It was great. I participated in a panel discussion about writing and presented a session on screenwriting.

I referred to several resources during my presentation and I'd like to list a few of them here for my fellow participants. Feel free to share any related resources or links in the comments section.

The Daily Script is an online collection of movie and television scripts. Some can be read online and some can be downloaded. Check the "links" tab for lots of extras.

Final Draft is a scriptwriting program for screenwriters, television writers, playwrights, and writers of new media.

Essentials of Screenwriting by Richard Walter is the best book I've ever read on the topic of screenwriting.

On Writing by Stephen King is the best book I've ever read on the topic of writing in general.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Seven Moments in Time: The Cast List


I'd like to introduce the entire cast of Seven Moments in Time. Each character is important and I know that readers will connect with every moment in the book in a different way. Flash fiction doesn't leave a lot of room for character development, but I think you'll enjoy getting to know these characters - even if it's only for a moment.

The Father and The Son: A mass media consumer realizes that the most important business of the day takes place early in the morning in his own living room.

Julia and Evan: They're both six years old, enjoy spinning on the merry-go-round, and know more about random acts of kindness than many adults.

Aaron Klein: On the day of his Bar Mitzvah, Aaron begins to understand that becoming a man is less about age than it is about personal responsibility.

Jay and Kenny: Suburban high school boys can't wait to get away. Sometimes getting across town is good enough.

The Devoted Wife, Sean, and their son Clay: Every family going through hard times has a story. This family is transitioning from one chapter to another.

Ellen: Alcohol and a lifetime on the sidelines of politics has made her weary. Confronting her reality will allow Ellen a new chance.

Neil and Krystal: Love and familiarity can carry a partnership through the good and the bad and sometimes even through dreaded social obligations.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

For the Love of Food


I was invited to be one of author Terri Giuliano Long's guests during her "For the Love of Love" event and, fortunately for me, the topic I was asked to write about was food. Followers of this blog know how I feel about food and my contribution to Terri's event allowed me to get a little more specific. Bon Appetit.

For the Love of Food
by Todd R. Tystad

Most people agree that it was Socrates who first said, “One should eat to live, not live to eat.” Far be it from me to disagree with one of the world’s greatest thinkers, but I just have to wonder if we really can have it both ways. I propose, “Live to eat and share food with those you love.”

Love of food for me isn’t simply about the food itself. It’s about enjoying a multi-sensory experience with the people you share it with. We all need nourishment to survive, but sharing food with the people we love allows us to thrive.

When I think back to all of the food I’ve enjoyed with family and friends over a lifetime, it takes me back to the moments and experiences that make up the very fabric of who I am. I remember corn on the cob in my grandmother’s kitchen, scallops wrapped in bacon at a friend’s wedding, roasted red bell pepper soup with colleagues in the mountains, grilled steak served outside a livestock auction, wedding cake, PB&J, Thanksgiving turkey… the list goes on.

I come from a family where love is expressed through the food that is served and, sometimes unfortunately, through the quantity of food on the plate. The events that are anticipated and planned most meticulously are the shared meals that give us a moment away from the world outside and allow us to break bread with the people who we will hold in our hearts forever.

For me, the effort put into creating a meal and serving it to the people I care about is the best way to say, “I love you.”

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Organizing the E. S. Classroom (Free E-Book)


Organizing the Elementary School Classroom is now available in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. To celebrate, I'm making it available as a free download on Amazon today and tomorrow (February 18 and 19). Here's what readers had to say about the book:

"A MUST read for all elementary educators."
"A must-read for new teachers and a great reflection tool for veteran teachers."

Enjoy the free download, share the news with your friends in education, and consider posting a brief review on Amazon. Reviews are powerful and I'd sure appreciate it.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Nebraska Writing Project Youth Writing Festivals


The Nebraska Writing Project, a network of professional educators and writers, is sponsoring its first-ever NeWP Youth Writing Festivals. The two festivals are designed for high school students and educators and will allow participants to learn more about writing, share written work, and interact with other students, educators, and writers.

Omaha - Elkhorn South High School: March 3
University of Nebraska - Kearney: April 28 

I am honored to have been asked to participate in both festivals. I'll be presenting sessions on screenwriting and also participating in panel discussions on writing and publishing.

Both festivals are sure to be outstanding events. I encourage you to forward this information to any Nebraska student or educator you think might be interested. The early registration cut-off for the Omaha festival is February 15, so spread the word as soon as possible.

For more information, click on either of the links above. Thanks in advance for sharing the news.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Seven Moments in Time (Free E-Book)


Seven Moments in Time, my short fiction collection, is now available in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. To celebrate, I'm making it available as a free download on Amazon tomorrow (February 5) as part of my "Instead of Football" promotion.

Whether your team didn't make it to the playoffs, you hate football, or you're not even aware that there's a game tomorrow, forward this post to your friends and everyone can get something for free from Amazon for a change.
Seven Moments in Time
by Todd R. Tystad 
"This collection of seven short stories examines human relationships and the complicated journey from childhood to adulthood. From a moment in a sandbox to a moment in a synagogue to a moment spent outside a Christmas party, these are the moments that reveal who we are and how we're weathering the journey."
Remember, tomorrow's the day to step away from the hot wings, find a quiet place, and get a free download. Enjoy some moments that don't include football and remind yourself that it could always be worse - it could be March Madness.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Organizing the Elementary School Classroom


I'd like to shift gears a bit with today's post. Since Blue Hill was published, I've put all of my promotional efforts into getting the word out about my fiction. One thing that's taken me by surprise is that my non-fiction work has been living a life of its own without any support from me at all. It occurred to me this week that I shouldn't neglect the first work I ever published and today I'd like to mention the fact that Organizing the Elementary School Classroom is available in both paperback and ebook formats.

What's really cool is that I've had great feedback from readers, both personally and from Amazon reviews. One reader said that Organizing the Elementary School Classroom is, "A MUST-read for all elementary educators." Another said, "A must-read for new teachers and a great reflection tool for veteran teachers."

As a way of saying "thank you," I've dropped the price of the Kindle Edition to less than a person would pay for a latte. Tell your friends in education about it and let them know it really can change the way they teach. Readers are always welcome to leave a review on Amazon. Thanks.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Indie Exchange


Those of you who have been following this blog know how much I enjoyed "Adopt an Indie" Month. It was an event that brought together readers, authors, and bloggers for a wide range of activities. I'm proud to announce that "Adopt an Indie" has now become The Indie Exchange.

The Indie Exchange is a web-based community that simply brings readers and writers together. It has some of the features of "Adopt an Indie," but has an entirely new personality all its own. In less than a month, The Indie Exchange has already provided information about new books, links to free books and sites of interest to readers, books available for review, author interviews, and a whole lot more.

I was honored to be the first featured author at The Indie Exchange and I'd like to thank everyone for their kind words and feedback. It's exciting to be involved with people who care about books as much as I do.

Visit The Indie Exchange and take a look around - there's something for everyone. Share it with a friend and enjoy discovering some great indie books together.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Salisbury Steak Sandwiches

 
It's no secret around Blue Hill that Asa Roth's grandmother can work wonders in the kitchen. Rachel Roth has been creating family meals her entire life and is well known for putting a new twist on a traditional recipe. Her grandsons love her Salisbury Steak Sandwiches and I do too. She's been kind enough to share her recipe with us today.

Grandma Roth's Salisbury Steak Sandwiches

ground beef cooked in long patties
beef gravy
mashed potatoes
brat buns
black pepper

Toast brat buns. Spread a layer of mashed potatoes on each bun. Place a beef patty on each bun. Top with gravy. Add pepper to taste. Serve with mashed potatoes and gravy.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Blue Hill Review


Blue Hill received another great review today. Here's an excerpt from author and blogger Cege Smith's review:
"Given that this is YA fiction, I’d have no problem giving Blue Hill to my kids to read. The author handles all of the more violent parts with sensitivity and at a high enough level that your heart may be in your throat, but it’s because his words have given your imagination plenty to play with."
You can read the rest of Cege's review here: Cege Smith