NEWS! Plus weekly tour wrap up

Hey everybody,

 

First up, I want to share some pretty awesome news. The guys over at ProseBeforeHohos.com have invited me to become a contributing editor at the site. That means my blog post will now be somewhat evenly divided between here and there. All the Prose Bros are cool guys and if you’re not familiar with the site, go give it a follow.

Now, on to Beasts of Burdin blog tour news. Here’s a recap of everywhere I’ve been this week.

 

I got to share my favorite PIs with Kayla over at Bibliophilia.

I shared my favorite authors with Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts and Things.

Lola’s Reviews got a list of my favorite foods.

A list of favorite demon books, tv, and movies went to Musings of a Fantasy Writer’s Life.

And finally, over at the Stabby Pen, Jonathan Lister gave me the most professional interview ever. If you only click one link, click this one. I’m honored.

 

And lastly, I wrote an article for Prose about why writing is a complete waste of time, and that’s not a bad thing.

 

That’s it. Stay tuned for more next week. Monday I’ve got the most intriguing interview of the tour coming up…

Reading, writing, and stealing

I started writing, like, actually writing with the intent of finishing a novel, a little over two years ago. Yeah, I’m kind of a noob, but that’s okay ‘cause it works in my favor sometimes. You see, before I started writing, I didn’t read a whole lot. A topic I’ve already covered. Short story: The shit I had to read in school bored me and I didn’t know people wrote novels I wanted to read until much later.

Things changed when I started writing, though. I like to think of myself as having a bare minimum not-quite-stupid level of intelligence and the sponge residing in my cranial cavity told me something. Before you ask, it’s not an actual sponge. No, it’s more like a coral reef kind of thing. Either way, it’s alive and it talks to me.

So, the sponge said, “Hey, dumbass, if you’re going to write books, don’t you think you should read them too?”

To which I replied, “Why?”

“So you don’t sound on paper like the dumbass you are in real life, dumbass.”

The sponge is very fond of calling me dumbass. It’s like a cute pet name, only slightly less cute and less puke inducing. You know what I mean, Snookums?

The sponge had a valid point. How could I expect to string together words in a coherent way if I never actually read words strung together coherently? To satiate the sponge’s constant nagging as to my semi-illiteracy I started reading while I was also writing.

And now I come to my point. If I had read as much as I have now, I would never have finished my first book or any thereafter. Crippling paranoia of copying someone else’s work would have killed me deader than dead right on the spot. I find when reading it’s natural to compare to things you know, for reference sake, I guess. It’s set in space like Serenity or it’s about people trapped on an island like Gilligan, or it about bloodthirsty investment bankers that do blow off the wombs of maiden hyenas to retain their poster-boy good looks like Wolf on Wall Street. Disclaimer: I’ve never actually seen that last one, I’m just filling in blanks from what I saw in the trailer.

Comparing as a viewer is totally fine. It helps you define what you like. For example, Book F sounds a lot like book R. I really liked Book R so therefore I would also, probably, enjoy Book F. As a creator, comparing wreaks havoc on the fucking process. I start to write a scene and then I get all, “Man, that’s just like that one scene in Book F. Fuck my life.” *Slams delete key with all the anger of a thousand political talk show hosts*

The reason I bring this up is: I started reading a book, Devil You Know, it’s a good book that so far is very enjoyable. It’s about a witty, down-on-his-luck exorcist who has been retired for over a year and takes a job to help out a friend. My debut novel, Beasts of Burdin (Out February 10th, preorder today!) is about a witty, down-on-his-luck demon hunter who has been retired over a year and takes a job to help out his brother.
Sound similar? Yup.

Did I steal anything from Devil You Know? Nope. I hadn’t even heard of it when I started writing Burdin. But, I had heard of it then, instead of now, I can promise Burdin would have been a completely different book.

Now, I have a little more confidence in my creative abilities. I know that there are always going to be similar stories to what anyone writes; there are no new ideas, only new ways of telling them, and all that jazz. I also trust my integrity to never steal a person’s work or ideas. Sure, some things influence me. I see a powerful story and think, “Man, I want to write like that,” and possibly try to incorporate some elements of what I like into my style.

So in a short way, being ignorant of other books has helped my writing. Would I suggest an aspiring writer stop reading? Fuck no. Go read a book. Preferably mine. Not for literary content though. I’m still pretty bad at writing, obviously.

 

Writing & Raising Kids? Same Thing, Pretty Much

The other day I was thinking about all the ways parenting can go wrong. I’m not sure why that day in particular, just call it Parental Paranoia: PP for short. So I get hit with the PP, bad, and I start thinking about how hard it is to figure out what’s right to do with your kid’s upbringing, and shit. At this point the mush on one side of my brain overflowed into the mush on the other side and a theory struck me: There are many similarities between writing and raising a non-asshole child.

Think about it, when the idea first strikes you (I’m gonna make a new human/I’ve got a great idea for a story) you’re all about it. You can’t think of a single fucking thing that could go wrong because your idea is so perfect. So, obviously, you commit to the idea.

In the very beginning there is a lot of research and plotting. For example, you have to find out how to convince the stork to stop at your house on its next flyby. That can be a tough one, those ol’ birds are fickle bitches. Then you have all kinds of required reading: What to Expect While You’re Expecting, and, and…other stuff. Internet articles? Youtube videos? Actually, no, that is a terrible idea. STAY AWAY FROM YOUTUBE!

The writer has research to do too. Namely, how to make your novel not suck. That’s the hard one, I think. After that there’s Elements of Style and What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Best-Selling Novel. Okay, that last one’s probably not a real thing. Maybe it should be.

Now that you’ve got your research done and your story/hellspawn brewing you’re riding high. You’ve got this. How hard could it be? Millions of other people have done this very same thing and millions of other people aren’t like you, they’re morons. If a moron can write a book/make a human, you can too. And you’re well-read on the subject. You can tell me about Chekhov’s gun/proper placenta cooking methods.

Then comes the big day, the day the hellspawn bearing fowl drops off its package/the day you get, oh say, five thousand words in to your first draft. This is the first instance of PP for most people, and it usually requires a change of clothing on both fronts. All of the sudden, every. Single. Bit. Of research. Goes right out the fucking window. You officially know not one damn thing about infant raising/wordsmithing.

After days/months/years of PP (it depends on the length of the work/the difficulty of the hellspawn in question) you find a groove. You’ve read all the reading and taken tips from all those other “professional” parents/authors. All of the information has wormed its way in to your brain. At some point you will have the epiphany that every single word they said is BULLSHIT. It is true that some people raise really good children and some people write really good books, but what worked for them will almost certainly not work for you. The world just isn’t made like that. Especially the ‘no yell’ parenting people. Show me someone who says they haven’t flipped their lid on their kids because they were having a shit day and could only take hearing the same question repeated so many times and I’ll show you a liar, probably.

Back on task. You’ve been in your groove for a while and things are good. You’re children/characters are behaving mostly as they should and things seem to fall in to place. This is when things get dicey. Reviewers. You have put all of your palmflesh and vocal cords in to molding the perfect angel/work of art. Now you are forced to send it out to the world and see what other people think. Children get this in the form of teachers and authors get reviewers. There is nothing better than the feeling of being told your angel/art is really fun to be around, but it’s a very scary process either way.

The last part of the process is being finished. Finished? Yeah, it’s some more bullshit. You are never finished parenting/writing. You will always wish you could go back and change something you did in the beginning, but will have to settle with nudging what you have in the right direction and hoping for the best.

In closing, here is a thought on the matter from expert character-wrangler Danielle Shipley:

The similarities grow more starkly apparent when the characters are having toddler-like meltdowns. Character: Why do I have to suffer this plot?!

Author: Because I said so!

Character: YOU’RE NOT MY REAL MOM!

And then of course the author goes into the whole “I brought you into this world, I can take you right out again!” thing…

 

Well said, Ship, well said.

Sneak Peek: Beasts of Burdin + Updates

All right everybody. Today is a big day. Shit just got real. Today the advance copies of Beasts of Burdin went out to reviewers. Deep breath. I got this. Even if I don’t I guess it’s kind of out of my hands now anyway. So, while I sit here and freak out about what the reviewers think, I am going to share a sneak peek of the first chapter with everybody. Here it is in all of its sarcastic, alcoholic glory, the opening to Beasts of Burdin. Please leave comments and tell me what you think. The whole thing will be available to everyone on February 10, 2014.

Chapter 1

“Ty Burdin! Answer the phone already. It’s your brother.” The voice comes from the next room in a tone usually used by stress-fried mothers, not twenty-something-year-old receptionists. The harsh words crack through my whiskey-soaked brain like someone snapped a bullwhip in my ear. I pick my head up off the desk and wipe the drool from my mouth, as she bursts in the door.

“He’s adopted, and good morning,” I say, opening the drawer to my desk and digging through it.

“It’s not morning. It’s past noon, you lazy drunk.” Her tone is accusing, but there’s a slight smile to her ruby red lips. I really do think Nora gets enjoyment from trying to keep me in line. Her rockabilly style, all tattoos and polkadots, might scare some people off, but honestly, I think it’s kind of cool.

“Fine, I was wrong about the time, but you’re wrong, too,” I say.

“Oh, yeah? How’s that?” Nora kicks her hip to the side and props a hand on her leopard print skirt.

“I’m not drunk. I’m hungover.” I pull out a flask full of scotch and take a long drink. “I’m working on getting back on track, though.” I tip the flask toward her.

“I swear someone’s gonna find you in a ditch one day.” Her voice has a trace of concern, but it’s mostly drowned out by annoyance.

“In my line of work, that’s almost a guarantee. Now, can you tell me why you disturbed my ugly sleep?” Ugly sleep is a gross understatement. No amount of alcohol ever seems to drown out the vision of the young, innocent girl burned into my memory. The scene is even more ominous in my dreams than it was in real life.

A thunderclap breaks the silence of my memories. Nora stares down at me, hands stuck together. “Wake up, drunkard. Hartnet’s been trying to reach you on the phone for the past fifteen minutes.”

The pocket of my jacket buzzes, probably been ringing the entire time. Nora walks over to where it hangs by the door and withdraws the phone. “Jesus, Ty. You’ve got four missed calls, ten new messages, and over twenty emails. Do you ever check this thing?”

“No.” I have the phone, but honestly, I hate it.

Nora sets the still ringing phone on my desk, puts her hands on her hips and, using only facial expressions, guilts me into picking up.

“Hello,” I say into the phone that smells of smoke. I use my free hand to dig out cigarettes and a lighter.

“Ty! Finally, man, where you been?” Hartnet asks.

“Oh, you know me. I just got back from hiking the Swiss Alps with Edmund Hillary.”

“Real funny, Ty, but I imagine you’ve been spending more time with Jim or Jack.”

“God, no, I hate southern whiskey,” I say. “I prefer a fine scotch, Macallan to be specific.”

“You prefer whatever’s in front of you as long as there’s a proof label on the bottle,” Hartnet says.

I don’t have any argument for that. “So, what do you want?”

Going back and reading that just now, I wish I could share more with you guys. Listen, Ty is more than just an alcoholic. He hunts demons in his spare time. Yeah, demons.

Reviews are a’comin

In exactly one week, advance reader copies of my debut novel, Beasts of Burdin, are going to be sent out to book reviewers. That means people who read books for a living, or at least a very passionate hobby, are going to be flipping through the pages of something I created. Me. A high school dropout who manages a pizza place. Damn. So yeah, I’m scared shitless. This seems like a good time to talk about my personal ratings system and what I’m expecting from the whole reviewing process.

 

I rate my books on a five star scale and everything I’ve read I’ve rated on Goodreads if you’re curious as to my tastes in books. (You shouldn’t be. I have awful taste. Just kidding. I read awesome books, usually) If I start a book and its just something I can’t get in to by no fault of its own I don’t rate it. If I step out of my comfort zone and don’t like it, it’s not the books fault, it’s mine.

*1 Star – I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone. Not only can I not think of anything nice to say, I can only think of terrible things so I’m just going to keep mouth mouth shut and let this one, lonely star speak for itself.

**2 Stars – It could have been better, but I’m not pissed for having stuck with it. It wasn’t great, but it had enjoyable aspects.

***3 Stars – This book was completely average and I don’t mean that in a bad way. There is nothing wrong with average. It just means I enjoyed it as much as I would a normal book. A Knight’s Tale is an average movie and I will sit down and watch it every time it’s on TV.

****4 Stars – Now were cooking with something slightly more combustible. Four stars means I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to a friend in need. Four star books have something that really makes them stick out from the crowd.

*****5 – Holy shit I can’t believe I just read that. Best. Book. Ever. That’s my five star. My favorite books of all time fall into five star territory. It’s where the best of the best reside.

 

That’s not how everyone feels, but it’s a system that works for me. Now, what does all this mean for Burdin? Am I going to be hurt if someone rates Burdin one star? Fucking of course. I worked hard on this book and it means a lot to me. Am I going to be mad at a reviewer for giving it one star? Fucking of course not. People have opinions and Burdin isn’t for everyone. Neither is anything. Ever. There is no one media that all human beings agree on. I even know one guy who doesn’t like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. One guy is all that stands between RHCP and universal love.*

 

Am I going to jump up and down if someone rates it five stars? Damn straight I will. I worked hard on this book and it means a lot to me. If someone else appreciates my story that much I will be honored. I will also be honored by every single reviewer who writes one word, good or bad, about my book. They took the time from their life to swim around one of the many stories in my head and that means a lot to me. Reviewers: I thank you, for better or worse.

 

I don’t expect to change the world with Beasts of Burdin. You’re not going to change your religion or have some life changing epiphany about how the world works. If I did my job right you will close the book and say to yourself, “Huh, that was fun” and that’s all I’m aiming for. If that means one, three, or five stars, so be it.  I’m just happy someone read it.

 

*Not actually proven, just a theory I’ve been working on.

 

Beasts of Burdin Cover Reveal

Image

Demon hunter Ty Burdin hung up his guns, knife, trench coat and fedora a year ago. Bags packed, hands washed of all demon politics, he’s done. Forever.

 

In fact, to get far far away, he dragged Nora, his rockabilly secretary, from Miami to the Tennessee mountains where he’s lived a life of peace—if peace can be defined as drowning in scotch and taking private eye jobs to keep the lights on. Jobs for real people. Not demons.

 

No demons.

 

He’s retired from that. Remember?

 

Demon hunters aren’t a dime a dozen, though, and when Ty’s brother asks him for a favor—just one—what’s a brother to do? Agreeing to take down one hillbilly demon shouldn’t take that long. In. Decapitate. Out. Favor complete. Back to the office where Nora and his bottle of whiskey are waiting.

 

Unfortunately for Ty, staying retired doesn’t seem to be in the cards, and an avalanche of bad luck draws him right back to an agency he despises and the career that nearly cost him his sanity.

 

This time, Ty has no way out and will have to face his own demons just to survive.

Under The Cover: Beasts of Burdin

     Okay guys, so in three days my cover for Beasts of Burdin is going to be revealed to the world. I’m super excited and can’t wait for you all to see it. To get everyone ready for the reveal I thought I would tell you a little bit of what went on to get the cover what it is.

     Disclaimer: I think my cover is awesome and I think the team at J. Taylor did a great job at bringing a picture to my words. I was very picky about the cover and they worked with me every step of the way.

     When my book was first approved I was asked what other cover designs I liked to imitate for Burdin. I like the idea of something simple like Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man or Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt books. I definitely wanted a cigarette and glass of whiskey on the cover. Oddly enough, I don’t smoke and drink only occasionally, but Ty Burdin does both to excess.

    Cigarettes and alcohol got vetoed. They sent me a cover to see how I liked it. As soon as I opened the attachment in my email my heart dropped. It was a picture of a dark alley (good) with a man on the cover that looked more like he belonged on Jersey Shore than drinking himself into a hole.

     I spent a very long time trying to craft an email back to the publisher to express how little I cared for the cover. After a couple more idea exchanges we ended up with the correct person on the cover. Then came the color disagreement.

     The publisher wanted a blue hue for the entire cover and I wanted more of a sepia color tone. Burdin has a very retro feel about him and I wanted that displayed on the cover. I was told that blue looked more like urban fantasy and we needed to remind readers what kind of book Burdin really is. After a great deal of complaining on my part we came to a beautiful agreement and that is what you are going to see on Monday.

     Thanks to everyone at JTP for giving me a cover I’m proud of and I hope you all like it.

Weekly update…a week late

I’m back with my occasional Thursday posts. I missed last week. No reason other than I totally forgot. On Friday my wife was like, “Hey, did you have a blog post this week?”. Oops. Now, I’m back, better then ever…hopefully.

This week I want to bring everyone up to speed on the million projects I’ve got going now. Not really a million, but a bunch.

I didn’t think line edits for Beasts of Burdin would be sent to me until late in July, so I figured I would have time to rewrite an old project I desperately want fixed and publish ready. Half-way through the rewrite I get an email with line edits for Burdin. Now, I’m taking a quick break from other project to get these edits done.

 

On top of that, lucky for me, I’ve already got the first draft of Burdin 2 (Which I’ve now decided will be titled “Ty Down”) finished. I am going to edit it immediately after finishing the line edits for Burdin since the story and characters will be fresh in my head.

Looks like my other project is going to be taking a back seat for a minute and I have no idea when I’m actually going to have time to actually write any new material. I’m going to get to it eventually though.

Oh yeah, and I’ve spent tonight catching up on like 6 blog posts I should have had written two weeks ago. Such is the life.

Until next time…

Fun to see an improvement in other people’s writing

Hey guys. I took last week off because I had a guest post on Terri Rochenski’s blog and figured there was only so much of me anyone could stand in a one week period.

Now, I’m back and better than ever. Maybe. I guess.

On to the point. The other day I started reading a book by a famous author I really like. The book was one of his first published works and the synopsis sounded like something I could really get in to.

Turns out, I couldn’t. I quit reading about halfway through because I didn’t like it. It’s a rare thing for me to stop reading a book, but I just couldn’t get in to this one. It’s even crazier considering his newer series is one of my absolute favorites. The older story just didn’t seem to be written as well as the new stuff.

This stands to reason. The more we do something, the better we get at it, practice makes perfect and all that junk. I’m just saying that as a relatively new author it’s refreshing to see that even best selling authors have room for improvement. It makes their writing seem somehow more achievable, I guess.

I could be a hypocrite, maybe

I’ve been thinking about something for the last couple weeks. I don’t want to turn things in to a political debate or any junk like that, just want to get some thoughts out there. Personally, I’m not a big fan of guns. I’ve shot a gun exactly two times in my life, the most recent of which was over 15 years ago. Both times were enjoyable, I guess.

Some days I have a bigger problem with firearms than others, but every day they scare me. Guess I’m just a wuss, but even holding an unloaded gun makes me uneasy. Getting to the point, I have finished almost four novels now. Guns are a large part of three of the four of them. And in the most recent two, the main character is a dual pistol wielding badass, although even he prefers to use a big knife.

So I can’t decide if not liking guns personally and writing about characters who use them at will is hypocritical. I don’t think so, and I guess it doesn’t really matter because I’m not changing my story, but still I wonder. I know it’s just fiction, but there’s a big part of me laced throughout that fiction. Then again, if I were face to face with a demon, like the character in my books, I’m sure my gun policy would be radically different.