Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What we're up to.


Hi all! Just keeping up with my tradition of blogging regularly, dropping off the face of the planet, and then returning like nothing ever happened. I am the Jenny to your Forrest, and for that I am sorry.

But here we are.

So what's going on? A lot! For starters, I took a break from Deliverance to complete a 2nd edition of Advent--which is free, indefinitely, on all ebook platforms! If you've already read Advent (aka, Book I of the Vessel series), then there's not much new to see. Just some corrected typos and a gutted paragraph or two. But if you've got a friend who would love Vessel? Now they can start the series without spending a single hard-earned dollar! I can't say for certain what the future will hold, but I hope to keep it that way. 

And Deliverance? It's rolling right along. A huge chunk of it was written during my first attempt at NaNoWriMo last November. Advent's 2nd edition, plus a change in my household (my man moved in!) caused a few months of delay, but I've been back at my desk for a while now and plan to use this year's NaNo to complete the 1st draft, plus work on a smaller project that I think you'll like. With the draft done by the end of the year, I estimate that Book III will be available sometime next Spring. And what a book it will be! Deliverance will highlight Corin, and is somewhat of a darker departure from the first two books. Fear not, though--there will still be plenty of laughs. I'm not quite sure yet how I'm going to maintain that balance, but these boys haven't let me down yet. As always, I'll start out with what I think I know and then see where they take me.

As for that smaller project . . . there are a few spinoff short stories turning my wheels and this first one will feature . . . (drumroll) . . . Stella! I'm very excited about trying a new POV and exploring some pre-Vessel backstory. The short in untitled as of yet and will be available either right before or at the same time as Deliverance. Can't wait!

Oh, and I played with some sloths.

you jelly?

Cheers! 

Tom



Monday, March 31, 2014

FINALLY: Book I is FREE!!!


I am so pleased to announce that Vessel, Book I: The Advent is now FREE for all e-reading devices, including Kindle! Indefinitely! 

Everybody now: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

It's actually been free for Nook and Apple for a few weeks, but it took Amazon a little while to catch up. Long story short, you can't set a free price for Kindle books, but you can sell a digital title for free elsewhere and wait for Amazon's price-matching algorithm to kick in. So imagine my joy at checking my reports this morning and finding that finally, Amazon had lowered the price of Advent to $0.00! 

"But Tom!" you exclaim. "Why are you so excited to be giving away such a massive investment of time and money for free?" Simple! Because if you're someone who might potentially love Vessel, then I don't want you to have to think twice before trying it out. That's all there is to it. My payment is excited, satisfied readers who go on to buy other books in the series as they come out. Everybody wins! So if you have friends who've been on the fence about adding Vessel to their to-read pile, hook them up with some links. I mean, hey, it's free!

Speaking of other books, Book III: The Deliverance is still well under way. You might even be re-reading it this time next year, whilst nursing your over-bitten fingernails. It's gonna slay, people. I can't wait to hand it over to you.

Vessel, Book I links!
Kindle
Nook
Apple (iPhone, iPad)

Now excuse me while I do this dance in my apartment all day.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Revision update!


Oy. Me and my self-inflicted deadlines, I swear. Remember when I said that Advent's second edition would be available to all as a free e-book by Valentine's Day? Well, I totally meant by the end of February. :)

As in definitely, for real, absolutely by the end of February! I'm this close to done---I just couldn't swing it by the end of the week. Thank you for being champs at putting up with my setbacks. And if you have friends who haven't yet read Vessel (and are they really your friends if they haven't?), be sure to hook them up when it's FREE! You can bet I'll let you know the moment that happens.

And don't worry. I'm still working like mad on Deliverance. It's going to be a ride like no other and I can't wait to give it to you.

Best!
Tom


Saturday, February 8, 2014

In pursuit of "ready".


The Advent revision continues! We all know how reliable I am when it comes to deadlines, but I'm relatively certain that the second edition of Advent will be available for all e-readers by Valentine's Day. For free! Pending select retailer distribution times and Amazon price-matching speed, of course.

At times it's hard not to turn this into a full-on line edit, which I'm sure any creative person can relate to. There's always something that can be better! you think. But overall I'm still more than pleased with my first book. It's a solid story and I'm glad I waited until it was ready to publish it. Finding "ready" is a delicate dance---again, something you fellow authors or painters or musicians out there are sure to understand. It's hard not to keep adding more. It's hard to cut away at the excess. It's hard to fill in the hungry places, or the odd places where you are sure nothing will fit. But it's important to do all those things. In the end, you just have to trust yourself to recognize "ready" and go forward, see what happens. And to forgive---or indulge---yourself if further tweaking feels necessary down the road. 

Amirite?

That said: Holy crap I use the word "immediate" a lot. Got to cut that out.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Announcements: Tiger years and FREE EBOOKS.


Nostalgia!

The end of this January brings Chinese New Year (what's up, Wooden Horse!), reminding me that it's been three years since the release of Advent. It also reminds me that I've never quite stated why I chose "Year of the Tiger Press" as the formal name of my one-woman publishing entity, which at present does little more than make the spine of my books look "legit". (It has a logo and everything! It's neat.)

So here's the reason. At some point prior to the publication of Advent, it dawned on me that the following all happened during Tiger years:

1. My birth. April of 1986, a Fire Tiger year. If you, like me, consult your local Chinese restaurant's placemat for guidance regarding your zodiac animal, then you'll know that I'm "aggressive, courageous, candid, and sensitive" and that I should "look toward the Horse or Dog for happiness, and beware the Monkey." Sounds about right. And for the record, I've always loved horses and been fond of dogs, but monkeys can GTFO because they are mean and strong and creepy as hell. Don't even with your "monkeys are cute" nonsense. No.

2. Vessel was conceived---twelve years later, by twelve-year-old me, during a sleepover with one Lindsey Strain during which we stayed up until dawn filling brand new spiral notebooks with the kind of character profiles and embarrassing fantasy prose that only tween girls can write. Best night of my life, bar none. The contents of those notebooks barely resemble Vessel, but the barest bones are there: five male elementals, dicking around and kicking ass. The year was 1998, an Earth Tiger year.

3. The finalization of Vessel, Book I: The Advent, all of which occurred twelve years later, right through to its official publication at the tippy-tail end of the Metal Tiger year in early February 2011.

Pretty much.

So there you have it: the story behind the name. I wonder what's in store for 2022's Water Tiger Year? Every last book in the Vessel series should be out by then, at the very least! My fingers are crossed that a lot more will be happening with the series. Graphic novels. Blockbuster films. Mega hot cosplayers feeding me grapes. Hey, I dream big. Like a tiger. 

Anyway, with yet another Chinese New Year upon us, I wanted to make an epic announcement! Ideally, I wanted some action to go with this announcement, but the work itself is taking a little longer than expected. So here goes for now:

At some point in February, I will be offering the newly revised "Vessel, Book I: The Advent" for FREE on all e-reader platforms. Indefinitely.

Yes. Free. Indefinitely. As in for a very long time, if not forever.

Why free?
Early on, I said that I'd never charge a lowly 99 cents for any of my e-books, much less offer any of them for free (except during promotions, of course). Why am I changing my mind? Because offering the first book in a series for free just means that loads more people will give it a chance, love it, and pick up the rest of the series. And what matters most to me---other than telling a great story---is getting that story into the hands of people who will love it. Money ain't no thang compared to that.

Why revise?
If you already adore Advent, fear not: I'm making no dramatic changes. It's been my intent for the past year to go back and tighten it up a bit, correct typos, do away with the odd unnecessary adverb, push around a bit of the dialogue, etc. I may do this with Exodus at some point, too, though hopefully my craft and production process are evolved enough now to prevent future books from needing any post-publication revisions. At any rate, you will not miss out on some vital piece of Vessel information if you've only ever read the first edition. But if you still absolutely must check out the new edition, then hey, it'll be free

Stay tuned for the exact release date. This is Tominda Adkins with Year of the Tiger Press, over and out!

We are totes legit.




Friday, January 24, 2014

Best of: Books I read in 2013


Just in time for your weekend! Here are my favorites from last year's reading list, in no particular order.

My pick for Best Bromance (protagonists Locke and Jean really take the cake there) AND my introduction to the Sanza twins, who officially fill my docket for Preferred Fictional Threesome Partners.The first book in Lynch's incredible "Gentlemen Bastards Sequence", Lies follows Locke Lamora---brilliant thief, weak swordsman, and sore loser---through an affair much larger than any of his previous heists. Set in the dizzying and cutthroat city of Camorr (an alchemically-powered fantasy version of Renaissance Venice), where organized crime, ancient alien architecture, an extreme divide between rich and poor, and female shark-wrestlers are the order of the day. FEMALE. SHARK. WRESTLERS. Bloody, smart, and full of side-splitting dialogue, plus a refreshing lack of romantic subplots. Don't worry, those come later in the series, as do some truly kickass female characters. As for Lies, it shines a light on the boys alone. Books II and III (Red Seas Under Red Skies and The Republic of Thieves) are also out now, with four more books planned for the series. Don't walk, run.


Kushiel's Legacy Series
Jacqueline Carey
My second-favorite series. I spent the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 on this two-trilogy masterpiece. Books 1-3 (Kushiel's Dart, Kushiel's Chosen, and Kushiel's Avatar) follow Phedre, a woman indentured from a young age to the exquisite and highly respected pleasure houses of the City of Elua, capitol of Terra D'Ange, a nation of fancy folk who claim angelic bloodlines and value pleasure in all its forms. Early on, we learn that Phedre has been "marked" by Kushiel, the god of punishment, as denoted by a red mote in her left eye and her fascination with pain. Long story short: girlfriend likes a good spanking. And not only does she like a good spanking, but getting one can make her feel downright transcendental. And in this city of wealth and political intrigue, there are men and women who will pay bank to spank, whip, bind, and otherwise debase such a creature. Recognizing this, a certain nobleman pays off Phedre's contractual servitude and educates her to be a perfect spy, hoping she can ferret out important information from her high-profile patrons. She does, and thus begins Phedre's long life of international adventure, saving queens, wearing magnificent dresses, learning new languages, and having super good spanky sex everywhere she goes. I have yet to meet a protagonist that I love more than Phedre. She is brave, compassionate, polite, unapologetically vain, and above all, a constant scholar.

The second trilogy (Kushiel's Scion, Kushiel's Justice, Kushiel's Mercy) follows one of Phedre's family members--a male protag with a lot of sexual and emotional hangups. Essentially: less spanking, more angst, but I liked it. The protag is great in his own way and Carey's world-building is just too good to pass on, and there was still plenty of Phedre for me to admire in these books as well.


If you are of Applachian heritage and grew up in your grandma's wallpapered kitchen listening to your family casually discuss the gruesome details of various relatives' deaths, then you will understand and enjoy this book. If you didn't, then I don't really know what you'll make of it, but it's worth a read. Pure poetry for the homesick. I may not be able to get a Tudor's biscuit in Seattle, but I can pick up this book and soothe my soul.


Blankets
Craig Thompson
Alternate title: Lindsey Strain Will Hate This Book. I made an effort to finally start reading graphic novels last year, because I know I've been missing out. This one was a thing of beauty, basically an illustrated bible of the trajectory of your typical adolescent long-distance relationship. Questioning Christian teens, mixed tapes, furtive kisses, and lots of snow. It will make you sigh and think back on the days when you used to talk to a boy for hours on the phone and mail him handmade presents before ever even kissing him. Can you imagine doing that now? Me neither. It's nice to remember.


Saga, Volumes I and II
Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Another perfect graphic novel. Blessed with fucking glorious artwork and humorous details of the finest subtlety, Saga follows Marko and Alana, star-crossed creatures whose races have been at war with one another for centuries. They're on the run with a baby, and encounter ghost babysitters, nobility with televisions for heads, a giant lie-detecting cat, and the greatest bounty hunter character ever:

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Stalk.


I don't often find non-fiction that doesn't make my eyes glaze over, but books like Seabiscuit make me feel like taking a break from novels and browsing for more. This book reads like an American tall-tale, and it has every right to. In an age when gumption alone really could get you from the slums to the top in America, three men---an industry mogul, a horse trainer, and a jockey---team up to shape up the nation's favorite and fastest horse. So many extraordinary stories. And racing facts! The accounts of the jockey lifestyle alone is worth the read. Did you know that jockeys used to dig big holes in giant mounds of sundried manure to create saunas for themselves? Or that one such mountain of crap once came apart in the rain and took out an entire Mexican casino with a terrible poop avalanche? Neither did I!


The Scorpio Races
Maggie Stiefvater
I would call this YA literary fiction, or speculative fiction due to its elements of fantasy. I love this book. It's as if Stiefvater had a fever dream about Chincoteague Island and then wrote it all down. The setting: the hard-luck island town of Thisby, where meat-eating horses emerge from the sea each autumn and go mad trying to return to the water if caught. The protagonist: Teenage girl Puck Connolly, determined to keep her family's house by winning big money in the Scorpio Races, a deadly annual event in which the island's men race their carnivorous water horses along the shore. The fantasy and superstition surrounding these horses is hardly the story's focal point. Scorpio Races is a powerful story of community, hard choices, and courage in the face of tough odds. There is also the beautiful and cautious affection between race veteran Sean Kendrick (Puck's rival and love interest) and his prize-winning stallion Cor, a beast he loves beyond measure---despite the fact that it would kill him the instant he lets his guard down. There has to be a life metaphor in that somewhere, but I just realized that there is Fudge Ripple ice cream in my freezer and so I am done here, people.

Also, the phrase "terrible poop avalanche" is still making me laugh, so I'm not sure if you even want to trust my taste in books. But if you do, the links are all up there. Read on, friends!



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

When one of your characters comes out to you.


I kind of wondered if this would ever happen, and a few weeks ago, it did. Someone made the assertion that my inclusion of gay characters must be part of my personal agenda. I have no idea what, specifically, that agenda is thought to be. Legalizing Gay Olympics? (Oh wait: awesomely, that already exists. Don't reinvent the wheel, Tom!) Anyway, before going any farther, let me make one thing clear, for now and always:

My only agenda when it comes to my gay characters is to write as if gay people exist.

That's seriously it. Look, it's no secret that I lean way left when it comes to GLBT politics (I will not rest until all straight couples are forced to divorce!), but I'm writing a fantasy here, not a Daily Kos article. My characters are who they are; I don't just go around assigning them characteristics as a way of championing my beliefs. If I did, Jesse would be planning his legal Texas wedding, Khan would be burning down Purity Balls nationwide, and Corin would be rescuing all the orcas from Seaworld. (omg, spin-off novellas, anyone?)

So I have gay characters. Two out of eight, if you're counting all my main characters. One is married. The other is known to hump furniture. So why did I make them gay? Here's the secret: I didn't. I guess in some genres (such as erotica) or for some story lines, it is necessary to cultivate the sexuality of one's characters, but for mine, the process was pretty organic. As any writer will be able to tell you, good characters will do as they please. Like children, they shape themselves in some regards, despite your best efforts. Ask my dearest friend Lindsey about the early days. Corin, for instance, used to be a total ditz. Khan was overflowing with pathetic angst, if you can believe it, and Ghi---Ghi!---was the quintessential leader character. I lie not! And Jesse? Jesse used to bang ALL THE LADIES and drive a VW camper van around. No joke. He was like a younger, blonder version of every character played by Matthew McConaughey. Anyway, I think it was all compensation for something, because one day back in 2008 I was trying to sleep and Jesse was all like, "Hey, what if I was a pop star? Oh, and I'm gay." And I'm all:



Seriously, dude? And he's like "Yep. Pretty sure I'm exclusively into dudes now." And I'm like, Do you even know how much stuff I'm going to have to edit if you're gay? And he's all:


And that is Jesse's coming out story, I guess. My only fear at that point was making a cheap caricature out of him. Jesse was always promiscuous, always fashionable, always androgynous, always obnoxiously talented. And he was stubborn about changing any of that. So I just made it a point to tread carefully around stereotypes. Yes, Jesse is fabulous. Yes, he is expressive. But that's just Jesse being Jesse. He's also vapid, vain, inadvisably fearless, affectionate, a certified musical genius, and, when it matters most, remarkably intuitive and compassionate. He is a collection of positive and negative traits, just like any good character, gay or straight or invertebrate.

And Stella? Back in the day, Stella was married to a much younger man. And, oh gods, she was also a fairy at some point, during a dark period of my life known as 'tween years' (there are pictures of this shit. Which no one will ever see). Anyway, when Naunet came into the picture, I just rolled with it. One does not tell Stella Rosin what to do.  

So there you have it: my insidious political agenda to let imaginary people be who they are. Which maybe sort of definitely reflects my treatment of real actual people. Someone best call Olivia Pope: this is a scandal for sure. 



**related side note** Since we're on the subject of author agendas, there is one thing I would absolutely force-change about Vessel, if I could at this point. And that is the incredible and inexplicable abundance of white characters. Specifically, but not limited to, the fact that three out of five gods whose origins lay in Northern Africa are white people of European descent. What is EVEN up with that? It's a lame excuse, but during Vessel's formation years, I was young and sheltered and wholly unaware of the concept of white-washing. I just dreamed up a bunch of cute boys and gave them powers, and a lot of them, and their friends, were white. I love my characters, but I definitely hate that promoting racial diversity in mainstream media was not on my agenda when they were born. Maybe I can redeem myself when the movie is cast? :D


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How to be a fucking person.


I was going to write about New Year's Resolutions (I resolute to blog!), but it's come to this instead.

It seems like you can't visit Facebook these days without seeing some shared post about How To Be A Real Man or Good Women Are Almost Extinct Because SLUTS and True Beauty Is On The Inside So Stop Having So Much Fun Being Pretty You Whore and This Is How You Should Go About Being A Wife or Husband  and You Should Teach Your Kids To Be Patient And That The World Doesn't Revolve Around Them but You Should Definitely Also Set Your Phone on Fire And Throw It At A Bus Anytime Your Child Comes To You, Even If She Just Wants To Show You A Booger and People Who Follow All These Rules Will Definitely Die Old Together Like In The Notebook And Everyone Else Is Just Selfish And Empty And Unhappy And They Will All Die Alone and Unloved. 



HEY.
GUYS.
QUIT IT WITH THAT SHIT.



Look. All of us--men and women of all ages--we're all under insane pressure to dress, act, and perform in certain ways all of the time. The pressure comes from innumerable angles and the messages contradict themselves at every turn. So can we just stop it with these “this is how a REAL woman/man behaves!” posts? Please???? They don't help anyone. They only serve to validate small minds and categorize human beings as either worthy or unworthy of respect, love, and joy.

You know what?
It’s okay to have sex. Be safe. Respect your partners, and don’t accept disrespect from them.
It’s okay to marry young and only ever have sex with one person.
It's okay to marry young, divorce at 70, and become a dominatrix.
It's okay to never have sex, ever ever!
It’s okay to go to church.
It’s okay to go to the club.
It's beyond okay to be this guy.
It’s okay to wear impractical heels and exhibit massive cleavage.
It’s okay to wear sensible flats and tasteful sweaters every single day.
It’s okay to prefer women who dress modestly.
It's okay to prefer godless tarts.
It’s okay to LOVE BOOBS (just remember they are attached to people).
It’s okay to take a bunch of selfies because you feel pretty.
It’s okay to not give a shit about being pretty.
It's okay to devote yourself to an important, time-consuming career.
It's okay to work a crap job and then go home and watch Netflix every night until you pass out.
It's okay to live under a bush and read people's fortunes.
It's okay to not like dogs.
It's okay to have standards.
It's okay for other people to not give a hot, salty fuck about your standards.
It's okay for people who don't live by your standards to be happy. And safe. And healthy. And successful. And fulfilled.
It's even okay to wear cardigans, despite what Nathan says. But we should take his words to heart anyways:





Why approach this stuff like it's so hard? Why seek, share, and follow such narrow thinking, or treat it like universal doctrine when there are so many different ways to be a person? Want to know how to be the perfect husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend? Maybe give your significant other a hug. Feed them food or something. The options are endless! Want to be a decent parent? I literally have no useful advice for you! Good luck! You'll do great! Want to meet someone who shares your values and interests? USE YOUR GOD-GIVEN EYES and look around. If you want to go out and party and get naked, it's easy to find like-minded company. If you want to fall in love and settle down and start a family, there are millions of people around you seeking the same thing. Pick one and strike up a conversation. This isn’t rocket science, nor is it a standardized test. It’s humanity. There’s no one way to Be A Good Person. There’s no one way to Be A Man. There’s no one way to Be A Lady. There’s only being yourself, and owning it, and dismissing unqualified definitions.


And if you're reading this, chances are you live in a place where you have so many beautiful choices. No one is going to kill you with rocks for saying or wearing the wrong thing. Do you realize what an outrageous privilege that is, considering the kind of censorship some people on this planet have to put up with? USE THAT. DRAIN EVERY LAST DROP OF IT. You should embrace your neighbor's freedom to be sinful, or bland, or vain--however you choose to view them. Unless your neighbors play their bass too loud. Seriously. Don't be that guy. That's almost as bad as being the guy who writes blog posts about how to be---HOLD UP. I'M TOTALLY BEING THAT GUY, AREN'T I? 

CRAP. NEVERMIND.


Happy New Year, everybody!