Might as well have fun while you support Right Here. Right Now.: Spend a weekend at Le Vatout Bed & Breakfast and they will donate every penny you pay for lodging to Toni’s cause.
Has Toni made a difference in your life? Tell us about it in the comments below. We are also accepting videos for our YouTube channel so contact us if you would like to add yours!
I first met the wonderful Toni when I heard him read at an open mike. The piece was much like him: unique, generous, passionate, and intelligent. I was astounded. When I heard someone say that he was a teacher I knew, right there, right then, that I wanted to work with him. Toni has been invaluable in helping me turn my instincts into conscious choices. The last three years have been filled with family turmoil: my mother’s death in an accident, the loss of all of my pets, my father’s long illness and death. As a writing coach, Toni helped me, with great delicacy and compassion, right there, right then, to craft pieces that spoke of these events in ways that were true to my voice. I would not have been as clear-eyed, unsentimental, and articulate without his help. We spend our sessions talking about writing, reading, family, animals, identity, politics, religion, and a hundred other things that all eventually inform the writing because they inform the life. But more than the help he has given to me personally, I am supporting Toni because he gives of himself unsparingly to those who need him. He feeds people, shelters people, counsels them and coaches them in their writing, very often on a pro bono basis. It is not just a job for him; it is a calling to serve people, especially people who have been traditionally marginalized, right here, right now. Toni Amato is a mensch and I love him. Please join me in supporting him so that he can continue his important work supporting others.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. The support, guidance, community and space you hold and your unending love that pours out of every place of your body, soul and energy. Wednesday night writing workshop has been crucial to my well-being, sense of self and energetic being over the past two years. I can’t remember life before it; maybe I don’t want to remember life before.
Although I will not re-unite with you for months to come, I wish you so much positive energy and love to filter inward. Embrace it and know the community around holds you dearly.
All my love,
In Toni’s home office, there is a small sampler in exquisite script. It reads Bless the Freaks. Every time I see it, I grin. It might as well say, Toni, bless the freaks because that is exactly what he does.
From the day I met Toni when he was doing a reading with Queer Soup through working with him on my novels to refine my true voice, I have been aware of his abundantly generous ministry to our community. Toni’s never said much about it, but because of our spiritual connection, I saw his work for what it is from the beginning: ministry.
Toni, quite literally, ministers to each person he encounters, and it doesn’t matter to him who that person is. He sees us all as belonging here in our wild and wonderful permutations. Truthfully, Toni sees us, and we need to be seen. That’s why I support his work in every way I can: financially, emotionally, spiritually.
I came to writing late and wholly ignorant of the mechanics. So when I presented my novel to a couple of agents during Muse and the Marketplace and got a polite “That’s very nice; come back after you’ve done revision”, I was puzzled. “What’s that?” I asked and was instructed to google it and find a course. I did, and that’s how Toni came into my life. Since, Toni has not only become my writing mentor and my editor, but a one-man support system, a friend, a shrink, a barista, a spiritual guide, a rare constant on my ride through an increasingly challenging world. When we met, my company which had sustained me and many others for over 20 years had fallen apart and I was a mess. My identity as a business woman was in tatters, my life savings were gone, and my prospects for employment were pretty much nil. Writing was all I had. That, and the conviction that there had to be more to life than sitting behind a desk 80 hours a week. As I stumbled through re-focusing my existence, Toni became my North Star. Twice a month I’d sink into his ridiculously overstuffed hand-me-down client chair and experience revision. Of my novel. Of my essays. Of my life.
When funds ran out we kept it up. He wouldn’t have it any other way. Even when we moved to Maine and opened a Bed & Breakfast, my wife and I continued to drive the 300 miles to Somerville and back so she could see her therapist and I could visit with Toni – and she will gladly tell anyone that he’s the better shrink. During the season he made sure we exchanged emails and continued working on the phone, always urging me to keep writing, gently (and not so gently) daring me to follow my calling. A couple of years ago, Toni started coming up with clients for writing retreats and now it feels as if he’s been my guiding light forever. He witnessed my transformation from CEO to chief cook and bottle washer and from city-girl to country crone. He saw me through bankruptcy and foreclosure and through a gigantic interstate move. He amused me with stories of living in poverty in Maine and laughed at mine. He counseled me when my son joined the military and was sent to Iraq. He indulged me when I became an infatuated grandmother and consoled me when my once formidable mother who lives alone in Germany became fragile, ill and old. He helped me to see and then, during revision, he helped me to see again. He kept me honest. He kept me fed. He was there when I needed him. Yes, right then and right there.
I can never repay the man for all he’s done for me.
He fed me rice and sausage
That sizzled in his pan.
He laced my coffee with espresso and
Made it stronger than The Atlas Man.
He watched me slurp my way
To the bottom of the bowl.
With sausage, rice and coffee
He fed my hungry soul.
Many years ago Toni’s writing inspired me to keep on with my own, and his whole life continues to inspire me.
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