This is a blog I wish I didn’t have to write. The writing community lost a dear friend this week. Tony N. Todaro, cofounder and president of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society passed away this past Tuesday, December 12th, 2023.
He wasn’t just a friend to me, but to an untold number of aspiring writers. About 12 years ago I decided to pick up writing seriously again. It had been my dream since junior high. I attended USC’s School of Cinema/Television Production to pursue that dream. But now, so many years out of college, I had no contacts. I met Tony and learned about GLAWS at a Loscon, a literary science fiction and fantasy convention that I have been attending for 35 years.
We all have a picture of a writer spending hours alone at his computer typing away, and there is a lot of that. But a writer can’t succeed alone. He needs other people on his journey. Tony provided that.
Like any other occupation, one has to learn the skill of writing. Reading books on writing can only take you so far. You need teachers. Tony provided that through GLAWS’s monthly Special Speaker Events and the West Coast Writers Conferences. That is where I met such writers/educators as Art Holcomb, who has written far more than I can hope for; plays, comic books and television.
GLAWS hasn’t only taught me the art of writing, but also the business of writing. I’ve met and gotten to know editors like Dr. Helga Schier, agents like Steve Hudson and even entertainment lawyers like Paul Levine. These are all the kinds of people I will need in my writing career, and I would not have met them if it weren’t for Tony.
After you have an education, you need to practice your art. GLAWS provides that opportunity through critique groups. This is where I met my mentors such as Sara Ann Fox and Dan Watanabe, both professionals in the film and television industry, and Carl Nelson, the leader of my novel group and longest-running critique group I’ve been in.
Tony was always encouraging of new writers, and generous. By volunteering at conferences, he allowed us to attend free. Not being a natural networker, this was invaluable to me. This is how I made all my industry contacts. He was also generous in other ways. Countless dinners he paid for at conferences and lunches at the L. A. Times Festival of books.
All of this provided a community of inspiring writers. People who all share the same dream, some of whom I have seen become published authors, like Brandy June. She was in my same novel critique group for a while. She found her editor and agent trough GLAWS and was published through Camcat Books, which always has a presence at the conferences. She is an inspiration to me. She came where I came from, she made the same contacts, and seeing her be published reminds me that my turn is coming.
The members of the GLAWS executive board are working hard to keep his legacy going. Many future writers will have a great debt to him without ever having known him.
Education, inspiration and encouragement, that’s what Tony provided to many of us. I will always be very thankful to him.
193rd blog completed.
First Steampunk novel: 75,769 words. ß Past 75,000. Goal: 80,000.
Second Steampunk novel: 783 words.
Second Steampunk screenplay: 157 pages.
First Steampunk screenplay: Need to update with notes from the novelization.
Third Steampunk screenplay: 38 pages.