I decided that I’d put my latest short screenplay info on the blog…

Short Drama: CHANGE OF HART (15 pages)

Logline: Judge Hart, at the end of his career, receives a heart transplant that affects the last verdict of his career before retirement.

If there are any managers, producers, directors, financiers interested…please contact me:



WWII Action / Adventure: GRADY’S WAR

I decided that I’d put my latest screenplay info on the blog…the link below goes to InkTip.com where a synopsis and PDF of the script are available to view.

WW II Action / Adventure: GRADY’S WAR (110 pages)

Logline: In Spring 1942, Grady, a 17 year-old seaplane pilot, will let no one stop him from joining the hunt for the German U-boat that killed his father off the U.S. East Coast (inspired by historical events).

If there are any managers, producers, directors, financiers interested…please contact me:


Feature Dramedy: BOOK SMART

I decided that I’d put my latest screenplay info on the blog…the link below goes to InkTip.com where a synopsis and PDF of the script are available to view.

Feature Dramedy: BOOK SMART (96 pages)

Logline: Connie, a troubled 20 year-old literary genius, sabotages her novelist father’s career, both overtly and covertly, as payback for psychological abuses that may be real or imagined.

If there are any managers, producers, directors, financiers interested…please contact me:


Pandamoon Publishing Sells Film Rights to Sleeperwave Films to my Syrian conflict novel: LOOKING INTO THE SUN



Today saw some horrific reporting in the national news media about barrel bombs and Syrian child casualties (deaths) in Aleppo. Unfortunately, this is not news. It has been going on for almost five and a half years in Syria! The appalling lack of awareness for this issue in 2014 drove me to write “Looking Into the Sun” to raise awareness and support for Syrian children.

I am extremely excited and proud to announce that my fabulous publisher, Pandamoon Publishing, recently sold the film rights to my Syrian conflict novel! I am happy for a two reasons, the first of which is that if this story makes it to the big screen, we will be able to maximize awareness for this important issue plaguing our world. Second, I hope a film will help result in donations to help those Syrian children who have been suffering for so long!

Thanks for all those who have read the book and posted reviews for me on Amazon! I truly appreciate the support! Both Pandamoon and I have made a commitment to donate a portion of proceeds to Save the Children’s Syrian Children’s Fund. So, if you haven’t read it, please order a copy and encourage everyone you know to do the same, knowing that you will be helping Syrian children if you do.

Currently, I have turned in a second draft of the screenplay to Sleeperwave Films and am waiting on their further notes. I will keep everyone posted as the film development process moves forward.

Thanks to everyone who has already read the book and spread the word about this important issue. I am excited to continue raising support and awareness, I hope you will help me toward that end as well!

Of course, I must thank Zara Kramer, CEO of Pandamoon Publishing, for recognizing the potential of my passion project and Eric J. Adams, Producer at Sleepwave Films, who also saw the need to give this story to a wider audience. Thank you both for your fantastic support!

I’ve included Pandamoon’s full press release below and will put out a few blog posts in the near future that will explain how we were able to get to this point with this project.

Pandamoon Publishing Press Release:

Austin, TX – 08/31/16 – Pandamoon Publishing is pleased to announce that Sleeperwave Films of San Francisco, California, has purchased the film rights for LOOKING INTO THE SUN, the bestselling novel of the Syrian conflict by Pandamoon author Todd Tavolazzi. Sleeperwave Films intends to produce the film as an independent major motion picture.

“Every day, we see new stories in the headlines about the ongoing tragedies faced by civilian Syrians and their innocent children. LOOKING INTO THE SUN provides an up-close and personal view into what’s really happening in that hot spot from someone who knows. Author Todd Tavolazzi based his novel on his own observations while serving as an operational planner to the U.S. Sixth Fleet. In that capacity, Todd and the rest of his group were particularly interested in developments in Syria since their area of responsibility included the territorial waters of Syria’s Mediterranean coast. During his research, he became appalled at the deteriorating situation in Syria and particularly its effect on Syrian civilians caught up in the violence,” stated Zara Kramer, Publisher of Pandamoon Publishing.

When asked why he wrote LOOKING INTO THE SUN, Todd Tavolazzi said, “Videos of the innocent children who were being shot, starved, gassed, or blown up drove me to write the book. My focus in LOOKING INTO THE SUN was intentionally narrow. I had three simple goals: (1) raise widespread awareness of the sacrifices and risks freelance journalists take to bring us the stories the mass media machine doesn’t seem to have time for, (2) acknowledge the ongoing child suffering in Syria since November 2011 and, most importantly, (3) remind the average person that there are credible and effective ways to help these innocent children.”

“While LOOKING INTO THE SUN has achieved bestseller status, we knew that we needed a broader reach to shed more light on this subject. Taking this story to the big screen gives us the opportunity to get it in front of a much larger audience. We couldn’t be more proud to partner with Eric J. Adams and his team at Sleeperwave Films. An award-winning feature film production company, Sleeperwave Films focuses on films that are socially relevant, our perfect partner to bring this story to life for audiences everywhere,” Kramer added.

“LOOKING INTO THE SUN is that rare story that combines emotional resonance, commercial potential, and the opportunity to spotlight an important issue. With his inside view of the Syrian conflict, Tavolazzi takes us on a heartfelt journey of spellbinding veracity. We look forward to working with Todd to bring his vision to the screen,” said Adams.

All three partners in this endeavor (Pandamoon Publishing, Author Todd Tavolazzi, and Sleeperwave Films) are so committed to helping the Syrian children that all have agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds of this joint venture to Save the Children, the most important organization providing real relief in the area. Together, we strive to provide Syrian children (and all suffering refugee children throughout the world) the tangible, loving care they need and deserve.

Pandamoon Publishing focuses on publishing quality and unique fiction works and distributes them through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Ingram, as well as other book distributors and bookstores worldwide, including Powell’s and Books-A-Million. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Pandamoon Publishing is dedicated to growing good ideas into great reads…one book at a time. Review copies of our books are available to journalists and qualified reviewers through our media contact. Learn more at www.pandamoonpublishing.com.

Purchase “Looking Into the Sun” and help us help Syrian kids.






Syrian Video that Illustrates the Daily Pain

I watched this video segment yesterday and was overcome with the gravity of the situation still roiling in Syria. Everyone should see this to get a feel for the very real pain that has been heaped on Syrian civilians who only wanted to have their voices be heard.

If you have children – it will hit you immediately…

Warning: This video is slightly graphic

My Interview on the Malliard Report

Check out my interview on the Malliard Report. I discuss why I wrote my Syrian conflict novel and a bit about some strange things (some would say supernatural) that have occurred during my writing process. Enjoy! Remember, a portion of proceeds from my novel are being donated to Save the Children’s Syrian Children’s Fund!

Malliard Report Interview


Eye-Opening Syrian Reporting

In the course of my research for Looking Into the Sun I came across the following video series by Robert King, a freelance photojournalist, who smuggled himself into Syria to bring out the horrible truth of what was going on in Syria for Vice News. The images moved me to act and write my novel to help garner as much support as possible for those who are truly trying to help the innocents in Syria. However, I must warn you, they are very graphic, but exactly what everyone should see if they want to really understand what is going on behind the headlines.

Why I Wrote a Novel on the Syrian Conflict

I wrote Looking into the Sun in my off time while I was assigned as an operational planner to the U.S. Sixth Fleet staff in Naples, Italy, from April to August 2014. When I arrived at my new assignment, in September 2011, the Arab Spring was well underway. Syrian protestors had joined Tunisian, Libyan, and Egyptian protestors in voicing their displeasure with their government. The resulting unrest in Syria became a serious concern for the U.S. Central Command, as well as the U.S. European Command and its naval component command, the U.S. Sixth Fleet.

I was one of many operational planners to study the effect the Syrian conflict was having on our European partners. During my research, from unclassified open source material, I was appalled at the deteriorating situation in Syria and particularly its effect on Syrian civilians caught up in the violence. For the most part, there was only mainstream news coverage when chemical weapons were found to have been used in the conflict (which tapered off after only a short time) and when ISIS began to gain ground in northern Iraq and northeastern Syria.

In the course of my research, I found that there were many freelance journalists who had smuggled themselves into Syria to bravely report what no one else could, after Bashar Al-Assad closed his borders to foreign correspondents soon after the violence began. The stories by freelance journalists working for Vice News or on their own were astounding. The video proof of the suffering of the average citizen in Syria was heart-wrenching, especially the awful plight of the children. I saw video reports of children that were blown up by the Assad regime in their indiscriminate bombing where helicopters would push barrels packed with explosives out of their cargo bays on neighborhoods suspected to be rebel strongholds. There were also video reports of starving families who could not be resupplied because the regime had cut off all services to their neighborhoods in a cruel play to starve out their own people who they perceived were harboring rebel groups.

The videos of the innocent children who were being shot, starved, gassed, or blown up drove me to write Looking into the Sun. I knew there was not much I could do in my position as a U.S. military officer to effect any real change,so I decided to compile my research and weave real case studies into a novel. Through that effort, I would attempt to put a coherent face on the horrible situation the world seemed to be ignoring. Only recently, with reports of refugee drownings, their push across Europe, and potential ISIS terrorists hiding amongst the fleeing masses, has the refugee problem been addressed in the mainstream media, despite the fact that the situation had been going on to some extent since the fighting began in November 2011.

My focus in Looking into the Sun was intentionally narrow. I had three simple goals: (1) raise widespread awareness of the sacrifices and risks freelance journalists take to bring us the stories the mass media machine doesn’t seem to have time for, (2) acknowledge the ongoing child suffering in Syria since November 2011 and, most importantly, (3) remind the average reader that there are credible and effective ways to help these innocent children.

My publisher, Zara Kramer at Pandamoon Publishing, and I discussed what we could do to directly help the Syrian children. We mutually decided to each donate a percentage of the profits of the sale of this book to the most important organization providing real relief in the area. I am honored to support the selfless souls at Save the Children as we all work to provide Syrian children (and all suffering children throughout the world) the tangible, loving care they need and deserve. I thank you personally for contributing to this effort by purchasing this book. If you would like to make an additional donation, please visit http://www.savethechildren.org. Remember, every little thing we do makes a difference, but you first MUST ACT. Please help me make a difference today!

Want to Write? You’ve got to Read!

If one aspires to get better at writing, it is essential to read widely. There are a few reasons for this. First, it exposes a writer to other styles and elements of the craft of writing. Seeing how Kurt Vonnegut writes compared to how Stephen king writes is very informative when one reads as a writer. Second, it is a great way to get ideas and specifics from real life to sprinkle into your stories. If one reads narrative non-fiction there are plenty of topics that can help any writer develop verisimilitude in their fiction.

I began writing down all the titles I read when I was about halfway through the Naval Academy. I did it as a way to look at the list and feel proud of myself for reading things the school didn’t make me read (most of the things on my list were not mandatory reading assignments). My book list also functioned as a motivator to add one more title to the list. It was 1996 when I started and currently have a total of 622 titles on my list with an average of about 32 books per year.

My list is about 80% non-fiction and 20% fiction, which is not a surprise to me. I was a History major as an undergraduate and took International Relations for my post-graduate degree. Most of this work kept my recreational interest firmly in the non-fiction category. However, I have been trying to round out my reading experience with much more fiction, as I believe I should if I expect to get better at writing fiction!

I will post the most interesting books I’ve read in each reading year with a short reason why I liked it. And I’ll also include any books I didn’t expect to be disappointed with. The list will not be every book I read – only what I believed to be the most interesting ones I read that particular year. If they have an *asterisk, I loved them and were well worth my limited reading time.

The first year I will post will be 1998. I graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1998 and was happy to be done with school and cherished the freedom to read exactly what I wanted with no pressure.

Number of Books I Read in 1998: 63

 My Notable 1998 Titles:

*In Search of the Warrior Spirit (NF) by Richard Strozzi Heckler

  • This was an interesting journal-like account of the author’s time introducing his meditation and Aikido martial arts techniques to U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers.

*The Last of the Breed (F) by Louis L’Amour

  • Exciting adventure story about a Native American U.S. Air Force test pilot who finds himself in a survival situation in 1980s Cold War era Siberia. He is tracked by a relentless Russian and a Siberian tiger through the wilds of Siberia as he tries to make his way to safety. A great departure from Louis L’Amour’s more familiar westerns.

*The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float (NF) by Farley Mowat

  • This was a short, playful story about his time refurbishing and sailing his own sailboat from the Canadian author who wrote Never Cry Wolf, which was an account of his time in northern Canada studying wolves (made into an early 1980s movie that I actually watched in the theater).

*The Sun Also Rises (F) by Ernest Hemingway

  • I actually read this one for school. But it was an excellent introduction to his work. I wasn’t too interested in the story itself as much as how he wrote the story. His craft in the sparse way he wrote is worth studying as a writer.

*Mayday: Eisenhower, Khrushchev and the U-2 Affair (NF) by Michael Beschloss

  • This was an enthralling account of the shoot down of Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 spy plane and subsequent capture and trial in the Soviet Union.

Closing Time (F) by Joseph Heller

  • I was a bit disappointed with this novel, however, it is difficult to follow up a performance like Cath-22.

*Master and Commander (F) by Patrick O’Brien

  • My first experience with the legendary nautical novelist. It was rich, interesting, educational and most entertaining.

*Old Man and the Sea (F) by Ernest Hemmingway

  • This was one I had to read after reading The Sun Also Rises. Ernest Hemingway was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for this novella and the work contributed to his selection for a Nobel Prize in 1954. I actually read it on my mother’s sailboat off of Key West, very near where Ernest imagined it might have happened off the coast of Cuba. I would look up every so often and imagine the story playing out in the nearby waters that surrounded me. Very cool.

*The Alchemist (F) by Paulo Coelho

  • An excellent moral parable that is still on the NYT bestseller list!

The Gospel According to the Son (F) by Norman Mailer

  • I was a bit disappointed with this novel as well. It seemed a bit disingenuous as a New Testament retelling from the eyes of Jesus with a few blasphemous additions for shock value. But I wasn’t surprised to see this sort of thing from Norman Mailer.

Rainbow Six (F)(Audio) by Tom Clancy

  • I remember REALLY liking this book. It kicked off Tom Clancy’s foray into serious video game development based on this story. It was a pleasure to read and cheer for the good guys.

*Easy Target: The Long Strange Trip of a Scout Pilot in Vietnam (NF) by Tom Smith

  • This was a unique glimpse into the experiences of a U.S. Army OH-6 Cayuse Light Observation Helicopter (LOH – pronounced “loach” throughout the Army) pilot during the Vietnam War. Great action and incredible real-life military hero stories.

*The Perfect Storm (NF) by Sebastian Junger

  • Superb narrative non-fiction of three huge storm systems that ravaged the North Atlantic and the toll it took on sword boat fishermen and the people who raced to save them. Exciting real-life adventure.

Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives (NF) by Michael Newton

  • This book has stayed with me for a long time. It is an account of a hypnotherapist who documented many of his subject’s comments while they were supposedly hypnotized. He had them talk about death and what their impressions were. He was surprised when a large number of unrelated strangers described many of the same details about the afterlife. He began to write them down and presented his findings in the book. If it is true, it is amazing and comforting for anyone who has lost a loved one, if you choose to believe it.

Anthem (F) by Ayn Rand

  • Was a bit disappointed with this book. It preceded The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and felt like she was collecting her notes to eventually get on a role and produce Atlas Shrugged.

*Hazardous Duty (NF) by Charles Hackworth

  • This was an amazing book of a newly commissioned officer to read. Yes, it was about the experiences of a U.S. Army Infantry Company Commander in Vietnam, but the leadership examples were epic and universal across all the military services. He chronicled exactly how he took care of his men, led from the front and succeeded in taking the fight to the enemy in Vietnam. Phenomenal wartime memoir and leadership study.

Those were my highlights of 1998, the year I graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. Stay tuned for successive years – leave me a comment on a favorite book you read in 1998 – if you can remember! That’s why I wrote them down – because there was no way I would have remembered!

One Publishing Success Tends to Beget More

Sounds easy right? I have to remember that while it seems like I’ve been waiting forever in my mind to get my writing out into the world (I was unpublished in any format up until only a year ago), it hasn’t really been that long since my first fiction was picked up by Potluck Magazine (www.potluckmag.com) in May 2014. Since then, I’ve been able to publish seven more short stories on e-zines and three in print journals and my first novel was accepted for publication only seven months after my first short story. This relatively short  timeframe is not the only span of time that I’ve been an aspiring writer.

I began writing with the intention of eventual publication in April 2010. I managed to complete a 95,000 word novel by August 2010 and shopped it to literary agents for a year with only one partial and one full request. They both came back as declines and I didn’t begin a new project until December 2011. That second attempt yielded a 107,000 word thriller I felt was worth sharing with agents by June 2013. I was optimistic when I received four full requests and several partials over the course of six months, all of which eventually declined (two of the full requests came back negative after 9 months!).

Needless to say, I was tired of waiting. I took the sage advice from the many authors and agents out there who say that you should work on your next project while you wait for responses on the previous one. So I did. It didn’t make the waiting any easier but it did take my mind off the minutes ticking away and got me to check my e-mail only about twenty times a day instead of a hundred and twenty.

As I began writing my third novel, I also decided that I would dabble in a bit of short story writing to keep my mind fresh as I inevitably would get bogged down in different parts of a novel-length project. This did a few things for me: (1) it refocused my writing efforts on a short-term goal (2) it exercised my writing in a more concise form (3) yielded a tangible product I could shop around without having to wait for novel completion.

These three things helped develop my writing, allowed me a positive break to bring an unrelated short project to completion, and helped me return to the imposing novel project with a fresh mind.

When the first short story was accepted by Potluck Magazine I was ecstatic. It gave me confidence and a little bit of legitimacy. I used the stories as writing credits on my query letters and kept at the novel.

That first short story success spurred me on to take more short story breaks and yielded more acceptances. Maybe I wasn’t wasting my time after all! Someone out there thought my writing was good enough to post on their site and one editor even accepted a story for their print magazine, then two! It was intoxicating. These small victories did wonders for my confidence and helped me keep focus on my writing as I slugged away on my novel.

I completed my third novel in only five months and had a publishing contract offer from a small publisher only three months after that! I was unsuccessful at landing an agent and decided to go with the small publisher without an agent for many reasons (I’ll share some of those in a future post). I actually had a full manuscript request from a reputable agent within a few days before the publisher offered a contract. I spoke with the agent and decided to go with the publisher after the agent said that they most likely couldn’t get to my submission soon to give me a quick answer on an offer of representation. I smelled another several month wait for a possible negative response and jumped in with both feet with the publisher.

These were problems I was happy to have. After completing three novels and basking in eleven short story acceptances, I was ready to discuss my work with someone who was excited about it as much as I was. The small victories helped me keep my sights set on the goal of having a novel (and hopefully many more) published.

I am happy to report that my manuscript is in the editing phase with a fantastic publisher (to be announced soon) and is serving as another writing success that has given me the strength to begin my fourth novel (the other two were great practice and may still see publication with solid editing).

I am still taking breaks from this new novel-length project to write short stories (just finished another this past week that will be offered to Potluck soon) to exercise and develop my writing in more than one area and will hopefully keep one more publishing success begetting many more.