A Free Peek at
The Color of Your Dreams
I took some time off in 2017 to focus on writing a very personal book. I dove into the fears and doubts that plague most writers, no matter how experienced they are.
The result is The Color of Your Dreams. It covers other important issues like the writing process, considering who your readers will be, your notes, submitting your words, and even where you do your writing.
Below you'll find a free preview of the book's introduction. I hope you enjoy it. If you're ready to get your copy of the entire ebook, this will take you there. It's only $3.99 at Amazon. Other outlets, such as iTunes and Barnes & Noble, are forthcoming. A print version and an audiobook will also roll out.
Disclaimer: This book is not for kids. It includes language that may offend. Like I said, it's a very personal book, and those words sometimes spill out of me.
The Color of Your Dreams
When my father passed away, my siblings and I found a large box tucked into the back of his bedroom closet. Inside he’d squirreled away all sorts of memorabilia, ranging from newspaper clippings to crinkled photos to lottery tickets. Losing tickets, of course.
Near the bottom of the box my sister retrieved a red spiral notebook. It turned out to be the English composition notebook from my third grade class at the American school in Verona, Italy. My eight-year-old self had scrawled the name “Dominic Testa” across the top of the cover in very respectable cursive, thank you.
And inside? A veritable treasure trove of essays, accompanied by the author’s crayon illustrations. Among the titles:
A Field Trip (where our class saw Juliet’s balcony, as in “Romeo, Romeo”)
My Favorite Pet (up to that point my only pet, actually, a German Shepherd named Tiber)
Looking for Fossils (which, I guess, could’ve been A Field Trip, Part Two)
But the winner, without a doubt, written in early December that year, was called My Boring Family. Apparently my parents and my sister were frightfully busy and unable to entertain me around the clock, so that shit got catalogued for posterity.
Thus began a career based on words. Spanning many decades, I’ve now been paid to speak words on stage and on the radio and paid to scribble words between the covers of books.
Money from words. I’m sure at your core you know it’s possible, and you’ve dreamed it could happen to you. But there are a few things holding you back, preventing you from jumping in, paralyzing you. One big thing in particular.
Which we’ll get to in a moment. In fact, we’ll make it the entire focus of the next chapter. For now, though, let’s see if I can paint an accurate portrait of you.
You enjoy reading and likely always have. You keep several books beside your bed, either because you’re one of those people who’s able to keep more than one going at a time or because your book queue is longer than your Netflix queue. There’s so much to read!
When you read, you often find yourself thinking, This doesn’t seem that hard. I could do better than this.
You’ve started writing—and subsequently stopped writing—several books or at least stories. The ideas got you excited, but then you ran out of steam. Or got distracted. Or discouraged. You may or may not have these stories hidden away.
You’ve at least glanced at a book on writing, maybe Anne Lamott’s or Stephen King’s or one of the older classics. There’s a good chance you’ve devoured these and others completely. They got you fired up for a few days or weeks, and then you lost the spark.
You’ve told hardly anyone that you want to write a book, because it’s somehow embarrassing. But you do want to.
You’re looking at this book for several—or all—of the reasons above.
It’s time to quit screwing around and get with the program.
Of course, I’m a big talker. I lugged around the dream of professional writing (professional = paid) for almost twenty years and never did squat to make it happen. Yes, I wrote some short stories—pretty good ones, too—and kept them in a drawer. I think I submitted one piece to a newspaper, their Let’s Hear From the Readers! section, never heard a peep from them, and interpreted that to mean I should never write another word.
So I focused on the radio portion of my life. Hey, that’s been successful, so no complaints there. But those were valuable years where I could’ve built up a reservoir of stories, essays, and novels. My old word processor (remember those?) gathered dust.
Until one day it didn’t, and I got reacquainted with my secret love affair with words. They spilled out, eventually forming a 65,000-word young adult novel.
Before I could talk myself out of it, I self-published the book, years before it was cool to do that on your own. And some funny things happened. I’ll spare you the details until they’re needed for specific chapters of this book, but the bottom line was a six-book contract from a major New York publisher.
Moral of the story: Waiting is idiotic.
This book will not teach you how to write. These pages are not about the art of storytelling, nor how to craft a perfect paragraph. I have enough experience to attempt that, and perhaps I’m as qualified as other authors, but there’s no schooling I could give you that would be any better than countless existing volumes on the subject.
No, this isn’t a book on how to write. It’s a book about getting off your ass. It’s about the reasons you’ve ignored your creative urges, and how you can stop ignoring them.
And it’s mostly about what to do once you get serious about stringing words together.
Yes, that means publishing them. I’m going to prepare you to be published, even if you’re kicking and screaming along the way. I’m targeting your spirit.
I’m not going to give you any bullshit speech about how the world needs your writing. Regardless of what flowery instructors say and what you’ve seen on social media memes, the world doesn’t need your writing. Or anybody’s writing, for that matter. It’s already got plenty. Have you seen the shelves at bookstores? Have you scanned the millions of titles online? You really think the world needs your words?
F the world, as we say. This isn’t about the freakin’ world. This is about you and your voice. Whether one million people read your work or just one person, you need to get your words out there for you. You need your words.
And while we’re at it, let’s dispense with this nonsense that you’re somehow not qualified to write, that you need an MFA from some prestigious university or a journalism degree or some other pedigree. You don’t.
What you do need is something to say. Something interesting, unique, fun, funny, compelling, educational, tear-inducing, inspiring, or any combination of the above. You need a clear understanding of how to transfer your vision into print. You need the resolve to stick to it until you see your name on a cover.
Writers, by their nature, are insecure as hell. In this book we’ll attack that problem and beat it into submission. I titled this book The Color of Your Dreams because I am and will always be an admirer of John Lennon. In his song Tomorrow Never Knows, he urged us to listen to the color of our dreams. That imagery has moved me since I was young.
You and I have dreams to write and publish, and each of our dreams has its own color. And, within those colors, you’ll likely identify countless shades of each. It’s time for you to explore them, and it’s definitely time for you to listen to them. They have a lot to say to you.
You’ll notice this isn’t a large book. It doesn’t have to be. It has just the right amount of information and inspiration you need to stop crawling and to start running. Just keep in mind that you could spend the rest of your life reading about writing, but eventually you have to write. More on that later.
From humble essays in a red grade-school notebook to more than a dozen published manuscripts, I’m qualified to help you on this path because I was handcuffed by the same damned thing that’s stifling you. And it’s the subject of the next chapter.
Fear. Stupid, baseless, insidious fear.
If you're ready to get your copy of The Color of Your Dreams, just follow this digital trail. Happy reading! And thank you.