Tom Kepler lives a minimum of three lives in one: his life as a writer, his life as a school teacher, and his life as a publisher of Wise Moon Books. These enterprises are chronicled on his blog at tomkeplerswritingblog.com.
Tom Kepler Writing
Tom has published three books, a fantasy novel, The Stone Dragon; a young adult novel, Love Ya Like a Sister; and a small book of poetry, Bare Ruined Choirs. Besides publishing on paper, he is also focusing on publishing online, including poetry at Every Day Poets and flash fiction at Metazen, Every Day Fiction, and 365tomorrows.
Tom Kepler, Classroom Teacher
Having taught in the classroom for over thirty years, grades 7-12, his writing reflects much of what he has observed: young people raising themselves, struggling to make the right choices, helping one another, and usually finding a way to get through to the place and person they want to be. "I've learned as much as a teacher as I've given my students. Growing up is truly a heroic journey."
Wise Moon Books
Tom "authenticated" his poetry by publishing in literary little magazines prior to publishing Bare Ruined Choirs via Wise Moon Books. He also publishes in online zines to establish himself as an author accepted by the gatekeepers of the industry. His novels are a tougher task, though, and as he seeks publication in the traditional publishing world, he is also learning and using the new technologies to make his books available, not only to the general reading public but also to his students. "There are two things I can pass to my students. I can hand them one of my published books, and I can also give them the knowledge of how they can publish their own writing. The book may impress them, but the knowledge empowers them."
Find Tom Kepler also on Facebook at Tom Kepler Writing/Wise Moon Books. Links are available at his blog, tomkeplerswritingblog.com. Click "like" or "follow" to keep current with his writing adventures.
Where to find Tom Kepler online
Where to buy in print
I Write: Being and Writing
By Tom Kepler
Published: October 28, 2012.
Composed of articles from the author's writing blog, this book was compiled in order to have a book to use in his high school writing classroom that considers both writing and consciousness, creating an authentic discussion that would model for students how to create their own books for publication. Tom Kepler is a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation program.
Who Listened to Dragons, Three Stories
By Tom Kepler
Published: February 3, 2012.
Set in the same reality as the fantasy novel The Stone Dragon, three short stories continue the magic of the novel. Two brothers--one the strange one, the other the brother of the strange one, desert and wyrm, river's daughters or river nymphs, soldiers or assassins, retribution or abomination . . . Visit a land where magic makes all things are possible.
The Stone Dragon
By Tom Kepler
Published: September 18, 2011.
Dream magic is the most dangerous of magics because it is so difficult to control.
"The source that is not dreaming, sleeping, or waking...perhaps the salvation of us all. An interesting journey into the creation of reality from the source, enabled by a cup of cabbage tea."
Love Ya Like a Sister
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
By Tom Kepler
Published: March 10, 2011.
If you want something done right, then do it yourself. At least, that's what people say. But does that include having three girlfriends at the same time--and stealing a car? Love your girlfriend, like your motorcycle? Life can get complicated. You've got to learn what to do when your parents are too busy, too divorced, too drunk, or too dead to help.
Tom Kepler’s tag cloud
Smashwords book reviews by Tom Kepler
- Dragon Cloud
on Aug. 14, 2011
Reading a middle school book (around grades 5-8) requires a certain level of intellectual focus by an adult, at least for me. I found that true of Dragon Cloud, but that is not necessarily a criticism. The human protagonists are aged ten and fifteen, after all. And even Tazure, the dragon, is an adolescent. I think this book would be better for the lower end of that middle school age grouping.
I finished the book with a flash, enjoying the ending. In fact, my overall assessment of the novel is to get through the first two or three chapters, and then enjoy the rest. There is an amount of stereotyping (selfish teen boy, egghead nerd girl) at the beginning, but this disappears as the book progresses. One could say that the characters have to start from somewhere, but the beginning was the least enjoyable part of the book for me.
Once the adventure begins, it moves with speed and efficiency to a satisfying conclusion. The world of Draggonfeld is described creatively, and the characters are developed to greater believability as the novel progresses. The action is straightforward and moves at a good pace. I especially liked the characterization of Dragonscar, the antagonist: creepy enough to be the "evil one," yet not too creepy.
All in all, this is a tale that is about becoming less self-absorbed and learning to think and care about others. It's a good tale for middle grades to read, a good message for middle grade students to think about. There are a few editing errors in the book, oddly enough also in the first half, but few enough not to become a big negative.
Denice Hughes Lewis sets the human part of the story in Oregon, in locations I've lived and visited, and the link between fantasy and actual geography, such as Crater Lake, was an added plus to the story. And the "price" of free ain't bad, either.
Originally posted at www.tomkeplerswritingblog.com
- Treadwell, A Novel of Alaska Territory
on Oct. 27, 2011
Leonard "Stoney" Compton, author of Treadwell, a Novel of Alaska Territory, it seems to me, decided to choose an interesting place to set a story, to choose interesting, dynamic characters and challenge them with complex conflicts, and then chose to research an era of a hundred years ago to accurately describe the milieu. The result of his choices is a highly readable, entertaining story about the Alaska Territory in 1915, complete with romance, skulking imperialists, murderers, Pinkerton detectives, and diverse inclusions of the different cultures that populated the northern frontier.
I was continually surprised as I read the novel--the depth and diversity of character development was unexpected and quite a treat. The detail in which the frontier towns of Alaska were described was not only entertaining but also informative. I actually asked myself the question: "Why am I so surprised and delighted?" The answer was an interesting one.
Both before and after reading Treadwell, I was reading authors who wrote around 1915--western romance writer Zane Grey and young adult action novelist Joseph Altsheler. Altsheler's novels were his The Guns of Europe trilogy. What I realized after reading Compton's Treadwell historical novel was that one hundred years of historical perspective can add a great deal to a writer's toolbox. Compton develops characters of the Filipino, Native American, and various immigrant cultures with compassion and understanding that is possible because of the hundred years of experience time has provided. Women are characterized with more realism and sensitivity--especially two sisters in the novel, Florence and Fiona, who act as foils for the women's issues of the times. Loss of culture, changing cultures, and immigration to new cultures are significant to the novel. Key minor characters to the action of the story are members of racial and ethnic minorities, which allows for a richer experience of the times.
In an way, the Alaska Territory is an important "character" in the novel because of the significant interaction and influence it has with the human characters. And the basic story? A Pinkerton detective arrives in Alaska to solve a murder. While doing so, he falls in love with both a woman and the land--and becomes embroiled in World War I politics and German saboteur intrigues to keep the United States either out of the war or to weaken its ability to go to war. How can this be done in Alaska? The answer is gold.
The novel has some weaknesses. A short background chapter on gold mining is written in present tense, which is a contrast to the past tense explication of the novel's action. Some of the prefatory material for the chapters (mostly historical artifacts) is overlong, but that is easily remedied by just skipping the reading and getting on with the story. I didn't do this until the suspense built at the end of the novel. Then I just skipped to the action. (We've all done this, haven't we?) Some proofreading errors exist, but they were far enough apart that I was able to enjoy the development of the story.
I know that one of my major complaints about reading some writers of the turn of the century, such as Zane Grey and Joseph Altsheler, is that I am uncomfortable with the racial, ethnic, gender, and ideological perspectives of the time. I don't want Hispanics dismissively stereotyped, or a woman characterized as being strong, considering she's a woman, or entire races or cultures mentioned but never explored or celebrated. After reading Alsheler's trilogy of the beginning of World War I, the idea that war is bad was evident in his writing--and I appreciated that--but as a writer, it was evident that the man had no desire to create that ugliness with his words. Therefore, war didn't seem so bad; after all, the protagonist lived through it without maiming wounds--and got the girl. How many young men--and now young women--have gone off to a brave, beautiful war and were returned in a body bag or buried far from home or returned as the walking wounded?
Leonard Compton's Treadwell, a Novel of Alaska Territory provided me with the opportunity to have those grating historical perspectives rectified in a novel. I was able to experience the diversity of culture that the frontier attracted. I was able to observe individuals wrestling with the democratic issues of the time: people with a voice instead of imperialism, participatory democracy instead of anarchism, gender equality rather than inequality, racial and ethnic inclusion rather than exclusion. I found this highly satisfying.
Even if only a minority of the population of 1915 could be called socially aware by the standards we hold today, it is highly fulfilling to read their story and to engage in their challenges and triumphs. It might be retro civil rights activism, it might be wishful thinking, but it feels good.
- Nymph's Heart
on Aug. 15, 2013
Let's see . . . Juan Ponce de Leon, a water nymph, a Jesuit priest, the Fountain of Youth, hurricanes, the Everglades, and the Chosen One--along with three timelines: 1567, 1926, and 2005. That'll do it.
Archeologist William Rombola has written a creative novel that is part fantasy set in Florida, part mystery, and all adventure. The woven strands of the three timelines are artfully joined, and the main characters are fresh and fascinating in their backgrounds, personal history, and actions. Rombola also doesn't tell too much at once but lets the action gradually reveal character.
Because this is a do-it-yourself novel, there are lapses in proofreading and formatting that distract at times, but I found the concept and development of the novel sufficiently captivating to easily surge through to the end. I mean, Ponce de Leon is the bad guy.
The basic premise of the novel is that Miami is one screwed up town because an ancient corruption has not been cleansed from the land. Although this sounds like a hackneyed concept, the originality of the setting and characters make for a lively story. Also, Rombola's background as an archeologist adds verisimilitude to the places, people, and events of the novel.
Even without the guiding hand of an old-hand editor, this story is memorable, enjoyable, thoughtful.