Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weekend update

I spent a good chunk of the weekend revising a manuscript called "How to Become a Knight in 10 Easy Lessons." I got comments back from an editor a couple of weeks ago requesting changes--a good sign. I'm not going to jinx it by being overly optimistic, but it means the odds of a sale have gone from 2% to 25%, and those are good odds for any writer not named Rowling.

The editor's comments were spot on, and my agent (a former editor herself) also made great suggestions. The final (?) revised version really is much better as a result. Feels good to have it done. It'll be in the editor's in-box tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

On Friday I got a Google alert for "How About a Kiss for Me?" I figured my book had been added to a local library somewhere. Instead it was a very nice comment posted on a kids' book blog:

I read everything, every chance I get and I have definitely instilled that in our 16 month old daughter....My personal favorite to read to her is a book we got from Scholastic called "How About A Kiss For Me" by Todd Tarpley. The level of cuteness in this book is off the charts! The first two pages...Do you like to kiss a dog/ Do you like to kiss a frog? As we read, I ask her if she wants to kiss whatever it is, sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't but it's just too cute and fun to read with her.

If I had more energy I'd write glowing reviews like that for myself under assumed names and post them all over the Internet. But I've grown too complacent in my old age. That one's legit. I swear.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How to be a real man if you can't afford a Hummer

1. Buy a car--er, 4WD vehicle--that looks kinda like a Hummer. Like a 4-door Jeep with serrated metal running boards over the wheel wells. As if you're going to be riding on the outside of the car a lot while hunting big game on the Upper West Side.

2. Buy an American eagle-motif tire cover. I almost walked on the opposite side of the block I was so intimidated by that damn eagle's stare. It looks like he's saying "Don't even think about trying to cross our border and mooch our health care benefits."

3. Get an "Army Strong" bumper sticker. In case the American eagle-motif tire cover wasn't clear enough.

4. Spring for tinted windows. In case you want to drive your SWAT team buddies to work, or conduct surveillance on terrorists without looking conspicuous. Plus it impresses the hell out of that chick at the Wendy's drive-thru when you roll down the dark window to reveal--YOU with aviator sunglasses.

5. Top it off with a small New York Islanders sticker in the right rear window. Hockey, get it? Yankees = wimpy sport.

Unfortunately if the owner of this particular vehicle discovers this blog post he's going to seek me out and totally kick my butt. If more than two weeks go by with no blog post from me...

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I am very happy. I have a new job at, which I think is the perfect job for me. Samuel just got accepted to his top two high school choices. I got a request from an editor to revise a book manuscript, which is promising. And I have a big scar on the side of my face.

Four weeks ago I didn't think I was going to get the job, and I feared it was my last good shot at working in a genre I'm passionate about. My freelance job was winding down, I didn't have another job lined up, and even though I pretended not to be stressed, I was.

Then I went to the dermatologist and found out I had early-stage skin cancer, just to put an exclamation point on it.

I felt like, well, so I'm either going to work at jobs that I hate for the rest of my life, or I'm going to have no job at all, or maybe I'll just die young and not have to drag it out.

Fast-forward four weeks. I have a scar, but no more skin cancer. A good trade. I got the job. Samuel will go to a high school that appreciates him. (At least the admissions director.) Maybe I'll sell another book, maybe I won't, but I'm in there swinging.

What have I learned from the past four weeks?

Things can turn on a dime. From bad to good. From good to bad. You never know. There was a family in Connecticut that lost three young daughters in a fire in their home on Christmas Eve. Things can go from great to horrific in the blink of an eye, and you have absolutely no control. You have to make plans, and have dreams, and keep moving forward. But you never know. You can't control everything. You can't.

On the day that Samuel was born I said I'd never complain about anything again for the rest of my life. Whatever happens, I've been blessed to watch two beautiful roses bloom. I need to remember how blessed I am.

I need to stop complaining about all the little things. And all the big things. I need to take a deep breath. Enjoy my life while it lasts. Tell Jennifer I love her. Tell Samuel and Ethan I love them. Smile at a baby. Write more. Spread a little joy.

And be thankful. Be really, honestly, super-f-ing thankful.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine dance

How much fun is this? From my niece Mary.

valentines day from Mary Tarpley on Vimeo.

(Note to self to learn that little rope dance move.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Happy 14th!

Look how tall he is.

And with his "Hill Valley High" t-shirt. It makes me smile just to look at him.

His birthday party today had a "Portal 2" theme, complete with Cave Johnson audio greeting and repulsion gel for beverages (Orangina laced with red food coloring). If you have to ask, you're not cool enough to have been invited.

There was a little Twister..

...a little multi-player gaming...

...and a little more multi-player gaming...

...followed by pizza and Portal cake.

He is a good guy. He is a very good guy. I knew my life was blessed the day he was born.

A Wrinkle in Time

Samuel and I went to an event today celebrating the 50th anniversary of the book, "A Wrinkle in Time." There was a Q&A with several notable children's authors including Lois Lowry ("The Giver"), Katherine Paterson ("Bridge to Terabithia"), Rebecca Stead ("When You Reach Me"), and R. L. Stine ("Goosebumps").

Cool to see four great authors in the same place at the same time, and even cooler to be there with Samuel, who seemed to enjoy the event despite the lack of pyrotechnics or DeLoreans.

I was thinking, maybe he won't be a scientist or an engineer after all. Maybe he'll be a sci-fi writer. Whatever. It's just nice to sit next to him and see him happy.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Carriage houses!

You know what's great about living in NYC? You can be walking along minding your own business and suddenly look down a block you've never looked down before and see an entire row of restored, turn-of-the-century carriage houses.

I felt like I'd accidentally wandered onto the Universal Studios backlot.

I started taking pictures with my cell phone, fearing that if I came back tomorrow I'd find only Starbucks and Duane Reades.

Then I thought, you know what would look really cool in the vacant lot at the end of our block?

Add it to my post-lottery to-do list.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

"I have an idea for a TV show"

Ethan: It's called "Will That Shoot Out of a Cannon?"

Todd: Sounds good so far.

Ethan: Every episode they put three different things into a cannon and shoot them out and see what happens.

Todd: I love that idea. I think I would watch that show.

Ethan: Me too. Dad?

Todd: Uh-huh?

Ethan: Do you think it would be illegal to shoot a pig out of a cannon?

Todd: Probably. I don't think they'd let you do that.

Ethan: Even if you got him to sign a release form?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hurray! A real royalty check!

I got a $35.16 check in the mail today from Penguin Group.

This means two things:

1) "How About a Kiss for Me?" was a gargantuan financial mega-hit--perhaps the most successful book in Penguin's history, who knows? I am like Dr. Seuss, only more successful.

2) I can now drop little lines at cocktail parties like, "Well, we haven't yet decided what to do with the royalties from my first book. We've talked about re-doing the bathroom." (It's true: we've been talking about re-doing the bathroom for years, and the $35.16 will pay for a new shower curtain.)

I went online to see if I could figure out how many books earn out their advances and actually generate royalty checks for their authors. The two ballpark figures I saw were "3 out of 10" and "less than half." So I was high-fiving Kahlua and Bailey and tossing out dog treats, and we were all very excited. Then I went to another site, which said that most kids books earn out their advance because the advances are so small. And I chose to ignore that as "outlier data."

Only remaining question: what color shower curtain?