How do you sum up your life in a paragraph or two? I took the easy way out and used the thumbnail my agent, Brian DeFiore, has on his website (and added a couple of lines). It was interesting to see my life summed up so succinctly...at least my life as a writer.
In reading it I think back on all those years I wrote The Undertoad and found myself questioning just what I was doing and where it would lead. Most importantly it had me writing regularly and that is something I'd never done before. But to think that a decision I made to start my own little newspaper led me here...well it's just more than a little neat. It goes to show you that you never do know what will happen in your life when you dare to dream.
During my Undertoad years I struggled to pay my bills but I refused to give up the paper because I believed in it and I loved what I was doing. It led to this. I consider my 11 Undertoad years my education as a writer
Recently, while I was bemoaning a recent loss in my life my friend Constance pointed out that there were many, many people who would gladly trade places with me. She was right and her comment and the rest of her email helped me to lift myself up, dust myself off and move forward. Not many people dream of writing and then end up getting paid to do it, especially not the sums that are coming our way from publishers here in the U.S., Italy, the U.K. and Germany.
From way back at the beginnings of the lowly 'Toad, which a friend once referred to as the "little mouse that roared", I now find myself at a very exciting time in my life. I've made my living as a writer for nearly 15 years. The only difference is now I can pay my bills and the stage is so much grander.
You could say I'm living proof of what Thoreau said, "If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
That quote, and a few more from Thoreau, were etched into a rawhide hanging my father had in his kitchen when I was growing up. I didn't know who Henry David Thoreau was but I liked the way the guy thought and so I always held those words, and others Henry had recorded, close to my heart.
Anyway, this is a round about way of saying, "Follow your dreams". I did and it worked.
Here's the biography I sent in:
Tom Ryan was the founder and publisher of The Undertoad, a Newburyport, Massachusetts newspaper and went on to write the popular 'Adventures with Tom & Atticus' column in the NorthCountry News and Mountainside Guide.
During the winter of 2006-2007 Ryan and his dog Atticus M. Finch climbed 81 4,000-foot peaks while raising several thousand dollars for the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for the fight against cancer. Then, in the winter of 2007-2008 the duo climbed 66 4,000-foot peaks while raising thousands of dollars for Angell Animal Medical Center in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Because of their fundraising efforts Ryan and Finch were inducted into the Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) Hall of Fame as the co-recipients of that organization's "Human Hero of the Year Award" at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
They were recently featured on Animal Planet's 'Dogs 101' television show.
Ryan's book 'Following Atticus' is being published by William Morrow in the spring of 2011. Foreign rights have also been sold in Germany, Italy and the UK.
Tom and Atticus now live in Jackson, New Hampshire. Their website is www.tomandatticus.blogspot.com.