Thursday, November 14, 2013

I can actually write fast! This is crazy!


And it ain't bad, either. This will all need some major editing, of course, but holy hell, Book III is coming right along. The same book I was fretting about a few weeks ago, worrying that there would never be enough substance to tie the plot together. I've learned by now that the plot always finds a way, but that doesn't stop me from pussyfooting around or avoiding the work when things dry up.

werk.


But not this month! This month marks my first attempt at National Novel Writing Month's challenge of 50,000 words in 30 days. Gotta be honest: most of the reason I've never given it a shot before is that the abbreviation--NaNoWriMo--kind of gets under my skin. Like when someone names their kid Awstyn or something. But I totally see now why my fellow writers get so pumped about it. It's true that I work best when there's a deadline ahead of me, a raging fire under my ass, and nothing in my fridge but half a can of chickpeas. And sharing that kind of unhinged but totally sublime pace with thousands of other people just takes it up a notch. I'm writing like crazy. And the more I write, the faster the ideas come. The easier it all starts to feel. The juicier the plot becomes. The better those chickpeas taste.

Someday I'll post to this blog regularly. Like, actual helpful, entertaining, relevant stuff that you'll want to read. But it ain't gonna be this November. Right now, I just want to wish all my fellow WriMos (cringe) the best of luck and the most potent of ideas. We can do it! We can! And then we know we can sit down and rock this shit any day or week or month of the year, no matter how much the plot lags or how contrarily our characters behave. YES.


Seriously, though. Someone send me a pizza.



Friday, August 9, 2013

Freebies!


If you haven't heard it on Twitter or Facebook, Vessel (Book I: The Advent) is FREE for Kindle thru August 11th. So if you're curious about the series, or just trying to get a friend to read it because you already love it so much, check it out! http://amzn.to/15Ogbpc

Want Book II: The Exodus for free, too? I'm giving away ten copies of the paperback over on GoodReads. Giveaway ends August 10th, so get on that!

Cheers! So excited to see what readers, both new and old, think of the existing Vessel books. I can hardly wait for the reviews to start coming in.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Out of limbo.



So this is it. The first print run of Exodus is finished, shipped, and received. There are copies all over my apartment (who wants the one I killed a spider with?). Pre-orders and early orders shipped Friday. The release party is over, the books signed, the wine enjoyed. And I'm not quite done yet. I'm in limbo.

Most of you who pre-ordered will get your copies in the mail today. I'm on pins and needles. I'm not done until you've read it. I guess I'll never truly be done, ever--I'm already seeing things that I need to change for the second edition--but this is the most thrilling time for me. I've been so eager all this time to share this with you, and now that moment has arrived. Sharing time! Hooray! After a year and more of feeling like the finish line was so far away, these past few weeks shifted into hyper-drive, everything moving faster than anticipated, and this day has come so fast. All the crawling forward, word by word, has led up to this, and suddenly I feel like a kid hiding behind someone's couch, waiting to jump out and scare my friends. I can't wait to see your reaction. I'm pretty sure you'll love it. I hope so, anyway. And I'm so, so excited.


Thanks for being here for this final step. It would be nothing without you.

Now: 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . BOO!

Love,
Tom


Friday, August 2, 2013

'Book II: The Exodus' Available Now!


Well, that only took two and a half years...

The day has come, everybody! The story of Vessel continues with Book II: The Exodus, and Jordan and the boys are bound for Egypt. Awaiting them are rival cults, a basement of catalogued horrors, roadside tombs, holy underwear, a certain not-quite-dead princess and her carnivorous horse, and, naturally, a gay bar. Would could possibly go wrong, you ask? Get your hands on a copy and find out! 

Signed copies are available in the vesselbooks shop.

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and everywhere books are sold. In Seattle? I just hand-delivered ten copies to Elliott Bay Book Company.

e-book releases Aug 6 on all platforms. Details soon!




FINALLY!! I cannot wait for you guys to read it.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Release party and one-armed drink-mixing tournament!



It's that time again. Come celebrate the arrival of Book II: The Exodus at the incomparable Arabica Lounge in Seattle. Thursday, August 1st, 7-10 pm. Reception, book signing, and the world's ONLY one-armed drink-mixing tournament. Copies of Books I & II available, plus the Sexodus Tour t-shirt. Cash, card, and Paypal accepted. RSVP on Facebook and bring your friends! Can't wait to see you there!

Love,

Tom

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Exodus release details!


If you follow the Vessel series on Facebook or Twitter, you've probably already absorbed all this. But just in case, here's everything you need to know about Vessel, Book II: The Exodus:

The Paperback: 8/2/2013
Signed copies available from the vesselbooks shop on the release date. Other copies available wherever books are sold (amazon, brick-and-mortar booksellers, etc) once they receive the book's data. Pre-order here, and your signed copy ships Friday, August 2nd!

The E-Book: 8/6/2013*
For Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and other e-readers. *Pending distribution schedule, a delay of a few days might occur for some retailers.

The Release Party: 8/1/13
Seattle, Arabica Lounge, 1550 E Olive Way. Time TBA.

The Book:
Nine months after their lives collided inside a fabulous but doomed tour bus, our five unlikely gods are still right where we left them: on Elysium, their luxurious island home. For the Vessel, it's paradise. For Jordan, it's little better than a prison---but at least it has a fully stocked bar. When the Vessel are required to make a short sojourn to Alexandria, Jordan jumps at the chance to join them, but no time in their divine presence comes free of tribulation. Awaiting them are rival cults, a basement of catalogued horrors, roadside tombs, holy underwear, a certain not-quite-dead princess and her carnivorous horse, and, naturally, a gay bar. The sanctified walls of a Luna Latum compound provide little protection against the forces conspiring to see them dead, and while the Vessel defend their hosts from a plot of unmatched devastation, one truth becomes too clear: the world they left behind as men is no place for a god. In it, one misstep can unearth mortal danger, and the chance to defy fate will bring them all to death's door---and she’s expecting them.



Other Vital Info:

ISBNs:
    paperback: 978-0-9830550-2-0
    ebook: 978-0-9830550-3-7
LCCN: 2013944771  (Ask your library to carry it!)

More surprises to come! Get your cocktail glasses ready...

Friday, June 7, 2013

It's a date. 'Exodus' release set for August 16th.


That's right. In a little over two months, you can be face-deep in Vessel, Book II: The Exodus. The first edition paperback will be available that day, with the e-book release to follow. Finally, finally, finally! I cannot wait to share this next chapter with you. Cheers, all!

Love,
Tom

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Odds and ends


Announcing a major announcement! I'll have big news on June 7 for Vessel. Don't worry--it's good news. No mom, I'm not pregnant. In the meantime, here's a rundown of everything that's going on:

Cocktail Book: In anticipation of the release of Exodus, I'm releasing a downloadable cocktail recipe book. It'll include character drink favorites and a reader drinking game . . . and it'll be FREE! Just download, print, staple, and grab your blender. Look for it in August 2013.

Other surprises: a hilarious video series, a second edition of Book I: The Advent, and a new T-Shirt are all in the works . . . all coming soon!

Pinterest! Vessel now has a Pinterest. It's still in its infancy (I have no idea what I'm doing), but there's already a casting wish list board because I'm my own biggest fangirl. And because AMIN AL GAMAL. Seriously, those shy puppy eyes. I am now butter. Soon to come: maps and visuals, the aforementioned drink recipes, and something involving mason jars, because apparently that's some kind of requirement on Pinterest.

Ghi material, amiright?

So there you have it. Keep an eye out for more announcements, and remember: now's the perfect time to pass Advent along to a friend, because Exodus will be here by the time she's finished! (Unless she's Lindsey Strain, who reads at the speed of an Andalite*.) Holy crap you guys, it's almost here!


*If I remember my Animorphs shit correctly, an Andalite can read an entire book just by touching its cover. Did I make that up? Or am I thinking of some other sci-fi/fantasy species from my youth? Because I can't find reference to that anywhere online. Oh well, guess it's time to re-read the best book EVER, according to 11-year-old me.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How to: Create badass faux wallpaper using magazine covers . . . or anything else you want.



And now for a post that has nothing to do with Vessel! Don't worry--Exodus will still be here before you know it....



It should surprise no one who has known me for more than five seconds that I love Lady Gaga. Like, a lot. Like, enough to have this tattoo forever. Like, enough to camp out and pee in bushes for three days in 19 degree weather among strangers in a town known for its extraordinarily high rape and murder rate. Wearing THIS:


BAM.

. . . all to get HERE:
Front fucking row, motherfuckers!!!

. . . and HERE:

akdjhaghadf!!! EXCUSE ME WHILE I DIE SO HARD.

But did you know that I also am in possession of THE WORLD'S MOST EXCELLENT LADY GAGA BATHROOM? You didn't?

Here. I will show it to you. Please don't use the nice towels.




But the crowning glory of this bathroom has to be its epic wallpaper of black and white Lady Gaga magazine covers:

EPIC.

It's gorgeous, shiny, and it will come right down in one piece whenever I move out of my apartment. So how did I do it? Well, I've never done a how-to post like this before, so forgive my lack of foresight in not taking "before" photos. Or really any helpful photos of the process itself. But I'll try to explain as best I can---in Ten Exhausting Steps!

What you'll need: 
photo-editing software
magic tape
stepladder
hammer and small nails
self-laminating sheets  (sheets, not pouches! get a box of like 50, available at any office supply store)
scissors

Step 1: Pick what you want to use as a wallpaper, of course. New Yorker covers? Liner notes? Horse posters? Whatever the hell you want. Let's just say you want to use Chanel ads. If you have a big stack of magazines laying around (does anyone still do that?), estimate about how many you'll need and start cutting out the ads. If you don't, search for images you like using Google Image. I needed upwards of 50, so I found about 25 I liked and used doubles of each. Look for the largest versions of the images you can find (500 pixels wide or more; that info will be listed in plain view if you're using Google Image). Save them all to a folder.

Step 2: Manipulate. Note: this is why it's best to get the largest images you can find. If you try this stuff with some little 4x3" photo you find online and then blow it up like this, it'll look fuzzy as hell. If you're only increasing the size a little bit, it won't really matter---not for this project. Okay, so: Using Photoshop or some peon equivalent, increase the dpi of the images to 300 (using the Image Size settings) and change the height to 10.5 inches (be sure your "Constrain Proportions" setting is on so that the width will proportionally change as well). Now each image will print nicely on an 8.5x11 sheet of paper. If you want to go with a color scheme like I did, now's the time to make those changes to each image as well. Save ALL your images as pdfs and then combine them all into one big pdf file. Email it to yourself or stick it on a zip drive, and then . . .

Step 3: Get thee to a print shop. This is too big a job for your HP 3-in-1, trust me. Crack open that pdf at any self-serve printer station and then print it out. Any shitty grade of xerox paper will do; no need to get fancy.

Step 4: Turn on the first episode of Battlestar Galactica and start neatly cutting off all the white trim off your prints.

Gonna be at this awhile.


Step 5: Collage time! Using some of that poster putty you have left over from your college dorm years, compose your prints on the wall as you like them. Pro Tip: Don't even try to align every corner and edge. You don't want some boring grid-thing to occur, and your prints won't all have the same width anyway. Just start in the center of the wall with one print and move outward. Go collage-crazy if you want, rotating and overlapping all willy-nilly---or do neat rows with alternating starting points like I did (think of the way bricks are arranged to make a wall). When you reach weird corners and crannies, just hold the print up in the position you want and crease it where it needs to be cut. Cut it to the right shape along the creases and, if it fits, stick it in place. Don't worry about sticking them on super firmly. The easier it is to pull them OFF the wall, the easier Step 7 will be.  


Left: Cutting to fit weird nooks and corners.  Right: See how the images don't form a perfect grid?


Step 6: Using Magic Tape or some other invisible, easy-to-remove tape, secure ALL the prints together along corners and seams. You don't have to secure every inch of every seam---just make sure every sheet of paper is adequately secured to its adjacent sheets in some way. You're basically turning your wall collage into one giant, abnormally shaped sheet of paper. Or one giant sheet for each section of the wall, if you're doing more than one wall.


Step 7: Take it all down! Gently, gently, gently. Start at the top and drape it over a stepladder or something as you go. Once your giant wall puzzle is disconnected from the wall, lay it on the floor image-down and gently remove the wall putty. Leave the Magic Tape.

Ignore the duct tape. I shouldn't have used it.

Step 8: Flip the entire thing image-up. Turn Battlestar back on, because this part can take awhile, too. Here's where the self-laminating sheets come in (sheets, not pouches!). These things are basically giant, clear stickers. They will not only keep your wallpaper nice and flat, they'll also add this really slick, seamless gloss to everything, like some kind of wall installation at a hip recording studio or something. The idea is to cover the image-side of your entire wallpaper with this stuff, sheet by overlapping sheet. Be careful! Once you lay one down, it can be tough to pull it off without damaging the image. They also will have creases unless you lay them FLAT, so lay carefully. Try holding each sheet by the middle of its shortest ends, letting it bow downward slightly. Let the center hit the paper, then just let the rest drop. If it lays flatly enough, press it down, HARD, outward from the center, rubbing out any bubbles and creases. Take a credit card and drag one edge over the whole thing, reeaaallly rubbing it on good. Repeat with more sheets until your entire chunk of wallpaper is covered. And don't worry: you don't have to be precise and match up the edges of these laminate sheets. Overlaps and edges won't show once they're stuck in place. And you can simply fold them over at the edges of the wallpaper and stick them to the back, cutting away where necessary.

Laminated and ready to hang!

Step 9: Almost done! Now all you need to do is grab your hammer and nails and hang your giant, misshapen, laminated poster. Climb up and give it a try; let it hang from your hands to see that everything is going to fit okay. Then nail the whole thing to your wall, starting with a top corner. Depending on the size of the area you'll be covering, you won't need many nails. Just one at the each corner, and along the edges wherever the wallpaper looks like it needs to be flattened or reinforced. Very small nails work just fine; good thumbtacks would probably do the trick as well. Heck, wall putty should even work if you're not allowed to leave holes in your walls---you'll just need to apply it as necessary to the back of the wallpaper before hanging it.

Step 10: PEE IN SPLENDOR.

Check this wall cause I'm marvelous.

And there you go! You have a slick, seamless, totally hip wallpaper that adds texture and pizazz to your apartment---with absolutely no damage to your walls! You can take it down in two minutes and nothing will be left but a few nails holes and a sad, blank wall. And it's totally portable! Cut it to fit a wall at your next place, or add to it, OR just snip it into a big rectangle to create one large, laminated collage poster. Amazing.

But don't even try to make a better Lady Gaga-themed bathroom than Tominda's Bath Haus of Gaga. Because it is the best and always will be. Coming soon: an automated disco ball with music! (I'm not kidding).

DON'T.




Tuesday, April 30, 2013

People Who Make It Possible #1: My Editor


Welcome to the first installment of "People Who Make It Possible". In this series, I want to highlight the people who've helped me make Vessel what it is today. 


When I first met Beau Prichard, I was terrified. Beau is a thirty-something transplant from New Zealand, a mystery author, and a theater director---not exactly my target audience. But in the summer of 2010, he agreed to edit a very large, very precious stack of paper for me.


I feared that it would be the dumbest thing he'd ever read.  

It wasn't. But it wasn't perfect, either. After spending a month deconstructing Advent, Beau met with me and went through every page, indicating clunky sentences, glaring plot inconsistencies, and cliches---but also pointing out the story's strengths. He knew what he was doing, and he brought into sharp focus what had been only vague issues to me. He also went about it with a wonderfully easygoing and enthusiastic manner, and that caused something important to happen. I left that meeting knowing that I was ready, that my book was ready. I left knowing that it was a book--a book that needed some edits, sure, but a book. Not a project, not a manuscript, but a book. All because this relative stranger saw potential in it. Beau didn't treat the edit like a job, ticking off grammar mistakes as he went. He got into it. He wanted to see Vessel move forward once it left his hands, and that showed in every notation he made.

After getting to know him a little better since then, I recognize that that's just his style. When Beau edits something--whether it's a novel draft or a fully realized play script--he doesn't just aim to make it correct and airtight. He wants the work to succeed. I wasn't at all terrified when I handed over Exodus, because I knew he wanted to help make it the best it could be---and that he had the skills to do so. If you're a writer, author, playwright, or general professional in need of editing, proofreading, or ghostwriting, you can email Beau at xgollum@gmail.com. And now, some words from the man himself. On to the Q&A!


Howdy, Beau. First off, aside from editing and other professional services, you're an author, too. Tell us about some of the books you've written. 
BP: I have written (almost) three novels about Seattle Private Investigator Kevin Adams. He's an unapologetic asshole, and people love him for it, which constantly surprises me. It wasn't until after I'd been trying to sell the first book, Elegy, for years, that I realized what a disservice I'd done in terms of saleability by making him such a difficult character. The people that love him really, really do, but literary agents look at him and are immediately turned off because he's not ever going to be really widely appealing. I haven't quite finished the third one, at least partly because I still don't have a title, but it's mostly done, and it'll be out before the end of the year. The first two Kevin Adams books, Elegy and In Absentia, are about a suicide and a runaway, respectively. Both are available for Kindle and Elegy is in print. The sequel will be available in paperback before the end of the year. The books have a lot of local flavor and detail, Kevin's running commentary is snide and often funny, and the mysteries are really grounded in reality. I also get a LOT of compliments on the supporting cast. Kevin knows lots of people, and many of them are very colorful. 
My other two novels are presently only on Kindle. One is a serial killer thriller called Auburn Grave that is a fast, mean read. The other, The Author, is a slow-burn horror novel that I'm really proud of. One of the main characters is kind of a mashup of some relatively well-known writers, and periodically he pontificates about where ideas come from, what writing is for, and so on. It was really fun to write, and I think it's a really satisfying read. 
You've edited both Advent and Exodus in the Vessel series---splendidly, might I add. What draws you to editing? What is the process like for you?  
BP: I have, and I'm still very proud of my thank-you in the back of Advent and the cheerleading that I did while you were on that particular adventure! When I was thinking about it, I just realized that my first editing gig was much longer ago than I'd thought. My entire family, except me, is dyslexic, so I proofread everything before it left the house: resumes, Christmas letters, you name it. 
I love collaborating, and I've found that I'm able to help people create the best version of their work without me intruding into it. One of my biggest frustrations as a writer is when editors get contagious. "What I'd do is..." Yeah, but it's not your damn book! I've helped poets turn short works into plays, I've helped people find words they never knew they had, and I get to use bits and pieces of that when I work in theater as well. To me it's all storytelling. Editing is when I help others tell their own stories. It's incredibly satisfying to see an end result and know that it's a better, truer version of itself because I helped. 
The process varies from writer to writer. I worked on a book late last year that was a very rough first draft, so I helped the writer shape that a lot more than, say, the Vessel books, which were finished products, just not completely polished. On a script I just helped on, I recommended moving several events around, which will make the story move more dramatically, and which means I'll do another edit after the writer has tinkered some more. So I guess one answer is "it depends." By and large, however, I get a printed version of the manuscript, I go through it with red pen, tell you what I really like, highlight word choices I think are exceptional, or ones that are not as strong as they could be, and point out sentences, passages, and so on, that don't work, that need to be streamlined, and so on. Depending on what the writer wants, I'll either then sit down with him or her and go over the notes in person, as I do with Tom, or I'll input them in a digital manuscript as notes and tracked changes, so the author can go over them at leisure. I always start with what the writer wants, though. Some of them are finished enough that they won't or can't or don't want to make big changes; they just want to make sure everything's spelled right and what-have-you. 
I know you've worked on both fiction and non-fiction books. Is there a particular genre you prefer to edit, or do you like to mix it up? 
BP: I've started doing edits and script doctoring for screenplays, too! I'm going to split the difference and say I like editing "narrative" best. The non-fiction I've done is largely books on teaching and finance, so I don't like those as much because there isn't a story. I'm reading narrative non-fiction right now, The Devil in the White City, and I'd LOVE to edit a book like that. 
What are some things you'd advise aspiring authors to do to make your job easier? 
BP: I have a couple of pretty standard responses, but it's advice in general, not as it relates to me or my job so much. 
One is don't wuss out. I've done first passes on books for writers who have never followed up, and it wasn't because I crushed their spirits! They got busy, they got distracted, etc. You're a writer or you're not. If you have a story to tell, it should be a compulsion, not an option. If that's not true for you, then I hate to tell you, but you're a hobbyist. Stephen King says that you write because not to do so would be suicide. Those are the writers I like working with. That is the really polite way of saying "don't waste my time." 
The second thing I tell aspiring authors is to have some confidence. I've worked with a number of writers who tell wonderful stories, but who aren't sure of themselves. I work in theater as well, and I can tell you the rule is the same. You'll get a lot more gigs if you walk into an audition like you've already got the role. There is very little point in sitting down to write if you aren't very sure you're going to rock it. So keep reminding yourself that you're awesome. 
Finally, you need help. I don't care who you are, I don't care how good you are, you can't be creative in a vacuum. I think I'm an excellent editor, but I can't edit my own work at all. You get too close to it, at some point you have to come up for air and get a third party's feedback. It's not easy, but I meet lots of writers who are convinced they can keep at it as a one-man band and go to press without anyone doing any real editing on their manuscript. It's a really, really bad idea. I always invite people to come watch rehearsals when I'm directing a play to make sure I'm not barking up the wrong tree. It doesn't happen often, but it DOES happen, and you'll never be able to tell by yourself. 
What's the best way for writers and others to contact you for editing, proofreading, scriptwriting, and ghostwriting services?  
BP: The email address provided [xgollum@gmail.com], definitely, and it'll help if you flag it by making the subject line something about editing. 
Last question, because you've never told me! Who's your favorite Vessel, and why? 
BP: Jesse Cannon 4 eva! As to why? He has and IS the most fun. Jackson really has some incredible moments coming up in Exodus, and I probably identify with all the Vessel more than JC, but he's epic and silly and obviously having the most fun, and I think anyone can see that YOU have the most fun writing him or coming up with his shenanigans.

Indeed I do, Beau. Indeed I do.

The Author, my favorite book by Beau Prichard.

Thank you once again, Beau, for all you've done for Vessel so far. I hope we're able to work together for the coming installments---still three books to go!

Again, if you'd like to contact Beau regarding his professional services, email him at xgollum@gmail.com and include something about editing in the subject line. And if you're interested in seeing some of his directing work, check out "Two Rooms", a hostage drama by Lee Blessing. Opening Thursday, May 30th, at Eclectic Theater in Seattle. Tickets at tworooms.brownpapertickets.com.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Over the hump.

Just touching down from my editing cloud to say it once more with feeling: we're almost there! Book II will be in my editor's fabulous hands by the end of March, and I feel comfortable announcing a June or July release (I'll be able to state a more precise date by April's end). I am so excited to share this new leg of the Vessel saga with you. If Advent kept you up all night, then you're going to need some 5-Hour-Energy for Exodus. It's an absolute ride. If you haven't already, check out this excerpt for a little taste. And thank you, all of you, for all the encouragement along the way. Writing would be a vacuum without you!

Much Love,

Tom

PS: What would you like to see more of on this blog? I really do want to blog more!