Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Upcoming Chapters

We are home, and it feels…

It feels…

It’s interesting. 

It’s as if I’ve had a tune-up. I have a set of goals staring at me from the corner of my old desk. They each feel like invitations to go another adventure. 

For now, I won’t go into them. Suffice it to say that I'm overjoyed to be 
back on the trails we love, swimming and wading in the rivers and streams, and putting in more mileage than we have in the past year. 

Our kitchen has welcomed us home, as has my writing desk. Oh, to sit here is a joy itself. There wasn’t much writing done these last three months save for a few letters and cards to friends. But the written word beckons me. 

There are two projects I’m currently working on. Both are in the beginning stages. My first novel, and another memoir, a bit different than the last two. 

An excitement greets me that is fresh and tantalizing when I pick up a pen or sit down at the keyboard to let the words flow. It’s different than it used to be. Writing “Following Atticus” showed me I was a storyteller. “Will’s Red Coat,” helped along by maturity, experience, and my health issues, showed me I was an author. 

In “W.R.C.” I took more chances, felt freer, and bolder because…

Because . . . Let’s face it, when you dance with death, it loosens things up. It didn’t change me as much as it reminded me of what I wanted to accomplish. 

“Will’s Red Coat” prepared me for what comes next in my writing career. It let me know I can handle a novel, that the books will come more freely now. Although I will always love “Following Atticus,” Will’s book may never be replaced as my favorite no matter how many books I author. It’s not so much the story, it’s the writing and where it came from. It’s a new level. 

As my friend, Paula pointed out, “There’s more of you in there. I really got to know you.” 

Thinking about what comes next now has the butterflies in my gut swirling about. After “Will’s Red Coat” I fully believe there are no limitations to my writing. While I grew through my various sicknesses last spring, I’ve grown even more since then. That adds to the tools I can call on. 

As for Samwise, he’s also grown a great deal. The book tour and the road trip were intense lessons for him. (One day I may tell you about the time he and a bison touched noses.) To see him extend himself into the world, to know his limitations and what to take chances on is a joy to behold.

The other day, when a friend asked me if we would ever go out west again, I was honest in saying that I’m not sure. Doctors tell me I’m doing well, considering all that has happened, but the odds are against me living a long life. 

As one doctor put it, “The best way to describe it to you, Tom, is that there was a dumpster fire inside of you.”

Some things cannot be replaced. 

I have no plans on dying anytime soon, but it’s a reality I need to confront that I may not live into old age. All the more reason to write as much as I can, while I can. 

Before closing to go for an evening walk, I would like to tell those of you who came out to the book events just how much that meant to me. Seeing you face-to-face, hearing your stories, telling me how Will and Atticus touched your lives was a gift beyond any I have ever received. To hear you talk of your struggles with cancer, heart attacks, domestic violence, career changes, divorce, confronting your fears, and overcoming mental and physical challenges is the best medicine for me. That along with your comments about “Will’s Red Coat.”

Facebook tells me we have more than 245,000 followers on our page. As of tonight, there are only 112 reviews on Amazon and 253 on But gosh, they are magnificent! 

Thank you. Thank you! Thank you to everyone who has given a bit of themselves through their words in leaving a note about the story.

To see how “Will’s Red Coat” has moved those of you who have written reviews blows both my editor and me away. 

It’s incredible. 

By reading Will’s story, you’ve helped to keep his legacy alive. As I’ve said more than once, what was special about Will, what was relatable about him, is that he is every one of us who has ever been broken and had to choose a new direction. Like the subtitle says, he “chose to live again,” just as many of us have done. 

Onward, by all means. 


DebP said...

I am so thankful you are enjoying good health to travel and to write. I am thankful for Samwise and for Atticus and for Will. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I look forward to more books! Godspeed, friend!

Unknown said...

Tom, I hurt when you said you may not live a long life...take care of yourself,keep writing, and please let us know about Samwise and the bison. I love your writing and had the pleasure of meeting you and Samwise in Manchester, Vermont. Onward by all means my friend!

Pearl Ladd said...

A most welcome Tom and Samwise!! And dear Bill too. You both had a wonderful long journey and we rode all the way with you
Rest and reflect on it all and I know there is another great book in you I always look foward to your stories,photos and great videos!
It all makes our lives richer. Everyone must be so happy to have you home again❤️��

Ruth said...

Wow, Tom, you are able to share your interior life in a way that so captures how experiences inform and change us, moving us incrementally to our next challenge, or self-expression, or just plain notching the groove of gratitude a little deeper in us. Thank you for how you can do that.

There is great poignancy in your health report, but as others also have said, it is indeed heartwarming that you have come back from death's door and have continued, it seems daily, to build strength. You saw hundreds of people on your tour, and I was blessed to be one of them. You made me feel like I could take as long as I needed to tell you my story; I'm sure everyone who met you felt the power of being listened to in that way. Thank you for how you can do that.

Mrs A said...

Oh the stories you will tell... take care I look forward to them and your adventures from New Hampshire :)

colodreamer said...

Your words and travels help me to see a new and different world. I pray and hope you do live a long life because you are touching so many of our lives with your writing...thank you for that.

Unknown said...

Tom, I'm glad you, Samwise and Bill are home safe and sound. It's wonderful to sense your enthusiasm about new writing endeavors. It only makes me look forward to your next book. I think that, perhaps, why we all love your writing so much is like what your friend Paula said,we have gotten to know you. Reading your books is like listening to my life-long best friend open her heart and soul to me. I can't imagine how you must feel (how you SHOULD feel) to know how many readers have loved, and been moved by, your writing.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing your journey west. We never know what life will bring us - an old hurting soul such as Will who just need patience and dignity or other journeys such as trip of lifetime. I have read Will's Red Coat first because my family has had a couple "second hand" schnauzers, but quickly realized the book was so much more. Your trip west began as I was starting my own journey heading west also following you by about 1 week to Arizona. Then I read Following Atticus and enjoyed it as much.

Thank you again and keep walking in beauty!

Betty Fagen said...

Hi Tom and Samwise welcome home to the both of you. Thank you for taking us along on your awesome road trip.
You read Will's Red Coat to us as we traveled our 11,000 mile road trip just before you and Samwise took yours. There is nothing better than listening to an author read his own words.
We looked forward to seeing your daily pictures on FB and Instagram because we had visited many of the same places and it felt like we were on the trip again. A trip that was gorgeous.

You opened up your life in the book and shared more than I ever thought was possible. You have so much more to share and your readers look forward to what will be next.

I want to thank you for including my "hug in every stitch" I was surprised and felt so honored to be in your treasure. I was driving when you read my name and I had to pull over for a bit to collect myself.

Tom Ryan you are an amazing human being and I pray that you will be here for as long as you are supposed to be - many decades to come.

Enjoy your days in NH. Hugs to you and Samwise. <3 <3 Peace my friend.

Unknown said...

Every day is a blessing Tom. This is what I hear when you write.
Glad that you and Samwise are home and enjoying the beauty that surrounds you.
Setting your new writing goals must be exciting. As a fan I look forward to your next book.
When I saw you talk at Anderson's book store, I had just said goodbye to my 95 year old father. He was battling pneumonia and not winning.
It's never easy to let our loved ones go. But as you know, when it's time, they tell you.
Thank you for sharing your life with a very sweet old dog that still had a lot of love to give.

Unknown said...

Tom and Samwise: good to see you home and in the store. You and Samwise look good.
Right after you left a woman came in the store with her little dog. I mentioned that you two had left and she was so disappointed that she missed you two.
Twas random, but it shows how far and how many people you have affected.
Keep up the good work.

Unknown said...

Glad to have you both back and looking forward to reading about the adventures.

Unknown said...

This is very exciting Tom. I am looking forward to the novel as well as any other books you write. Will's Red Coat was extraordinary and filled with life lessons. It was just plain amazing. You let your audience into more of your life and it is what made the story that much more special. Will is forever in our hearts and lives on because you kept your promise to him. Following Atticus to me was just as extraordinary as WRC. They were different, but both fabulous. I loved getting to know Atticus and all you and he shared together. It was grand. I am so happy you will be writing lots more books. Something truly wonderful to look forward too.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Tom. It's good that we all inspire you. But you are very much an inspiration. Your efforts, great works, optimism, energy - all if it helps carry me thru anxieties and sadnesses a little easier. And sometimes it's even intimidating!

Ellen said...

You have touched my life in ways you cannot imagine & I can't begin to express. I thank you for all the beauty you have out into my life! Wishing you joy, peace, good health - and onward by all means��

Unknown said...

Wishing you peace,joy, love and happiness. You have a special spirit and a fabulous gift. Samwise is welcome on my ranch anytime, as are you. Walk in beauty!

Unknown said...

Loved reading about your trip and all your adventures. Just finished "Will's Red Coat." Have had it since it was released but saved it for the perfect time because I knew 1. I would start it and read until finished in one sitting; 2. Reading it would involved both tears and laughter and 3. knew when I finished it I would want more! So, just like "Following Atticus" I'll go back to it again and again.

Unknown said...

I am so glad to hear Tom is on the trails again with samwise.

Anonymous said...

Dear Tom,
I have enjoyed reading Wills Red Coat! I am so happy to see that you and Samwise have been able to walk and explore together! I lost my sister four years ago she had a heart attack. A year later she has a stroke she did not make it. She lived every moment of her life. She was a writer. I have gotten some of her poetry and photos she was working on after her illness. She did not get to finish them. I am going to try and put them together.
Your journey with Atticus helped me through a difficult time of grieving! Take care Sylvia Seymour Australia

Angela Vigent said...

Mr Ryan, I just finished reading Will's Red Coat and I wanted you to know how much it affected me. The story held a special meaning because I adopted a terrier mix, not a senior dog, but a 4 month old pup who was neglected and abused. He didn't trust me or anyone else. It took a long time and many bites as I tried to become his keeper. It took a long time to earn his trust and eventually, his love. I have spoken of your book to anyone who will listen to me. I tell them that I was changed after reading it. It makes me want to become a better human. Your compassion and understanding of the world around us makes it seem less frightening. Thank you for giving Will such a beautiful life. I look forward to reading Following Atticus...

Nancy Lopez said...

I just read Atticus book last week and I'm profoundly touched overall. What a life experience. I'm sad to discover he's already gone! but happy for your writing and new wonderful doggie. What about YOU? How did meeting Paige turn out ?????