Monday, October 26, 2015

How to Write A Bestseller Like a Writerly Writer

It just occurred to us in the many years we've been blogging that we've never taken you, the reader, on a journey into our daily lives as writers. Specifically, showing all of you how we put pen to paper and create literary magic. How we, as artistes, bring you "the craft", and with such success at that. So today we're going to share our step by step secret to writing a bestselling novel.

You see, writing isn't just as simple as sitting down and writing. No, that would be far too easy. Writing is a long, technical process that involves a myriad of rituals and preparation so as to show the world that I am writing a novel and it's serious business, you guys. So here we go.

Step 1: Put on your writerly facial hair. Every writer needs to have classy facial hair. Even women.

Step 2: Put on some writerly clothes. You really need to look the part.

Whoa, whoa, scale it back, there. We said writer, not hipster douchebag.

Ah, much better. Writers (for some reason) always have elbow patches, and as we all know a true writer is one who is dressed in such a way that you can never truly tell if they're homeless or a writer. Or both.

Step 3: Buy yourself a really fancy pen or two. Spend at least $50 on each to demonstrate that you're really putting some investment into your career as a writer.

Step 4: Now put it immediately in your pocket, because writers don't write with pens anymore, dumbass. That would be stupid.

Step 5: You're officially ready to begin. Take some time to step outside of your comfort zone and flesh out a unique character that you can breathe some life into.

If you've ever noticed that practically every novel ever written features a main character that's almost identical to how the writer is or just wishes they were, including the character being a writer (we're looking at you, Stephen King), that's because ideas are hard and sometimes it's best to just write what you know. That's not ego. It's just novel writing efficiency. Use this to your advantage.

Step 6: Wow, okay, this has been a lot of work so far. And cost a lot of money. You should probably treat yourself to a break. You know, play some video games, or surf the web for a few hours. Or a few days. You earned it, tiger!

Step 7: Make character sheets for all of your characters. Include things like height, weight, eye color, hair color. Likes, dislikes. Astrological sign. Allergies. Celebrities they'd probably be played by in the movie version. This shit matters. Also, feel free to exercise those killer drawing skills of yours and illustrate exactly what they look like.

Step 8: Draw an intricate map of your novel's world... even if it's not a fantasy story. Having a hand drawn map of your own hometown or a blueprint of your character's house will absolutely matter when your novel is done.

Step 9: Take another break. Watch a few hilarious cat videos on YouTube. Read that GIF-filled Buzzfeed article that's going to change the way you look at everything (#16 made me cry). Play that freemium Facebook game your weird aunt keeps sending you requests for. Writing is really hard work, especially when you haven't even written your first official word yet. Whew!

Step 10: Your story is complex, right? That means you need to make notes, and an outline, and notes of your outline, and then an outline of your notes. Leave out no details. Fill your entire wall with Post-It-Notes until you look like the deranged, sleepless detective that's tracking down a serial killer.

Step 11: Now would probably be a good time to take up drinking as a hobby. Or sport. Your choice, really.

Step 12: Spend an inordinate amount of time creating spreadsheets outlining your current workload and schedule. Outline all of your writing time.

Step 13: Realize you don't have any.

Step 14: Create an intricate musical playlist which will be crucial to the development of the story and will be listed as the unofficial soundtrack when the novel is released. Or finished. Or even started. And it had better include some Enya, because that bitch sets moods like you don't even know.

Step 15: Disappoint your parents.

Step 16: Turn your drinking hobby into full blown alcoholism to numb the pain of failure.

Step 17: Gouge your eyes out with your stupid, fancy pens and eat your own arms.

Step 18: Take another break. Eating your own arms is hard work!

Step 19: If you haven't already, you should really consider drawing the cover. I mean, I know you haven't even started the novel yet, but people will definitely want to see a badly scribbled sketch of what the book's cover will be like when done.

We didn't even think it was possible to be so aroused by color pencil, and yet here we are, awkwardly erect and simultaneously dying to read this "masterpyece."

Step 20: Pound your head against your keyboard until the sweet blackness of death releases you.

See? Writing is just that easy.

Okay, so that's not how you write a bestselling novel. But we figured this whole list was better than giving you a post that was only two words.

Just write.

See, the funny thing is, plenty of authors will tell you to do shit like the above post, and while creating 20 page outlines and making some cutesy stuff to help you get into the project is great, that's no substitution for just sitting the fuck down and writing. Really, there is no secret. Just sit down, shut up, and write. No amount of character sheets and drawings and soundtracks can make up for just writing the damn story.

That's how we do it, anyway. And we haven't once gouged our eyes out, eaten our own arms, or painted our keyboards in soggy brain matter.

Cheers and stay classy, friends,

Music: Not Enya
Beer: Breckenridge Agave Wheat

Monday, October 19, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen, Meet Mr. Tuck Watley

So we've got some great news and some terrible news.

The terrible news is that today's post is full of words and light on comics, so to those who only come here for the "purdy pictures", who don't give a shit about our actual words, feel free to get back to that rousing Buzzfeed quiz, "What Potato Is My Spirit Animal?", that we temporarily distracted you from.

The great news, for everyone else, is that we're one step closer to obtaining a big fat publishing contract.

See, this is us without a big fat publishing contract, as we currently are now.

But this is us with a big fat publishing contract.

Most people don't realize that even if you sell thousands of books per year that with royalties being something like $1-2 per book, you're still not left with enough to live comfortably on. Or support your family. Not by a long shot. So we're looking to change that.

Our lovely agent, Holly, recently finished reading our newest novel and loved it enough to instantly put it out on submission. For those who aren't familiar, that means she's sending it to editors at big publishing houses who she believes will love it as much as she does. And since our first agent was a lazy dipshit that we fired, this marks the first time that we've ever been on proper submission with an agent. That also means that we're hopefully one step closer to achieving our dream of becoming successful writers.

The novel is called Tuck Watley: The Freedom Fighter Fighter and it's the first novel of a multi-book series about a lowly government phone tapper who must infringe the rights of everyone around him to protect us all... from ourselves. It's a satirical look at the NSA and how they spy on us in the name of so-called "freedom", starring a call center employee who fancies himself the American James Bond. He... is definitely not. If we do say so ourselves, it's pretty fucking hilarious.

So today we wanted to celebrate with you (or punish you, if you're one of those ingrates that just stops by for the pictures and glazes over the words while you drool Mountain Dew remnants onto your keyboard) by giving you a little taste of our new character, who we hope you'll be seeing more of in the near future. Enjoy!

Tuck Watley: The Freedom Fighter Fighter

It was just one of those days.
You know the kind, where the coffee in the break room’s a bit burned, and the air conditioning is a little low so the whole office is cold and clammy, and your coworker is bound and gagged in your cubicle, trying to shriek beneath her makeshift mouth-gag that she’s not a terrorist.
Yeah, one of those kind of days.
“Pleeb,” Gabby pleaded, “leh muh goo.”
I couldn’t understand the deranged girl, but she was probably saying some kind of anti-American, jihadist prayer, pleading her maker to strike me down. Or at least that’s what I assumed. After all, she had enough wadded Post-It-Notes in her mouth to choke a hippo. That was my idea, by the way. So was the thick wall of rubber bands that held her arms to my office chair, and the tall manila envelope stuffed over the top of her head, covering her eyes and the top of her nose.
The girl was tough. Unbreakable, even. Her forearms were covered in binder clips pinching down into her skin, and she had enough glue sticks up her nostrils to break a hot glue gun. But I wasn’t done. No, I was just getting started.
 “Now listen carefully. If you don’t tell me who you work for,” I said, holding my stapler before me like a black plastic revolver, “I’m going to waterboard you.”
“FUGH. YUH,” she spat. “I wohk foh yuh, yuh idjit.” It was times like this I wished I had spoken Arabic so I knew what she was saying, but perhaps it was better I didn’t know what kind of hoodoo curses she was putting on me. Shaking her head violently, the envelope tipped off and toppled to the floor. She then spat one of the sixty-seven pieces of Post-It-Note out of her mouth like a wad of soggy paper tobacco, straight into my face. Her eyes were ablaze with venomous defiance.
Ugh, and to think at one point I had put my tongue in that mouth.
“Then waterboarding it is,” I said, loosening my tie. My once neatly-combed jet black hair was strewn across my eyes, my face was sticky from where I had been Post-It-Note spit-balled, and my button up dress shirt was soaked in sweat—the sweat of a man who was serving his country by the seat of his pants and delivering sweet after-hours justice.
I grabbed an ‘I’ve Got a Case of the Mondays’ mug off of my desk and threw water into her face.
“There,” I said, uncertainly. “You’ve just been waterboarded. Had enough?” I guess I really didn’t know or understand what waterboarding was.
She started to scream again, and I threw another mug of cold water into her face. Then another, then another. She stared daggers back at me as her mascara ran down her cheeks. This girl must have been expertly trained in torture, because I was waterboarding the crap out of her and she was taking every face full of cool, purified drinking water like a champ.
I took one of those mugs of water, held it up to my lips, and took a long, hard sip. Fighting terrorism was exhausting work. I then splashed the remainder into her face.
“Where’s the bomb, Gabby?” I asked, but Gabby and her sixty-six Post-It-Notes weren’t talking. “Terrorists always have bombs. Where’s yours?”
Behind us, Jerry the janitor was mopping up lazily, and when he saw Gabby bound by office supplies, he arched his eyebrows at me. “Hey, Tuck. Do I want to know?” he grunted.
“Oh, hey Jerry. She’s a terrorist,” I explained flatly. “I’m waterboarding her. Or at least I think I am.” I took another mug off my desk and dashed the liquid against her face.
Oops, I thought, as my scalding hot coffee burned rosy red patches into her cheeks. Wrong mug.
But Gabby wasn’t talking. No, she was just screaming, something about fire and agony and third degree burns. I had tried to waterboard her, and instead of breaking down and confessing all she could do was threaten to bomb me. Classic terrorist.
I held my hands against my hips as I examined my bound, soggy prisoner. “Hey…do you know what waterboarding is, Jerry?”
Jerry shrugged. “If I knew how to waterboard, you think I’d be cleaning up piss all day? I’ll tell ya, you guys can hit a perp from a hundred feet away, but you sure can’t hit a damn toilet.”
We both shared a hearty laugh, and then he went back to mopping. And me, I gathered up all of the empty mugs, cradled them into my arms, and waddled toward the break room to refill them via water cooler. It was going to be a long night.
             I’ll tell you, it was just one of those days.

Cheers and stay classy, friends,

Music: Rationale
Beer: Ska Brewing True Blonde Ale

Monday, October 12, 2015

Reimagine the Possibilities!

To date, the two of us have written 8 novels, 2 novellas, and enough short stories to fill a biblically sized tome. And all of those pieces have had completely unique characters and plotlines. In doing so, we thought we were being clever and original.

Turns out, we were being complete dumbasses.

Earlier this year, garbage-bag-full-of-farts-and-bad-ideas-with-an-awful-drag-queen-wig E.L. James released the cleverly titled Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey As Told By Christian, in which she rewrote the exact Fifty Shades of Grey novel all over again... except this time, told it from a different character's perspective.

Not to be outdone, Stephenie "I Ruined Everything Once Terrifying About Vampires" Meyer dared to dream and asked the question: "What if I wrote the exact same book all over again, but this time I made the guy a girl and the girl a guy?"

So now as of a few days ago we have Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined, which turns Bella and Edward into Edythe and Beau. Do you see what she did there? That, folks, is called creativity, and you can't buy it. We writers are just born with it.

So it got us to thinking - why are we sitting around writing original story ideas like assholes when we can just "reimagine" our existing story ideas?

Like, our zombie novel Dead and Moaning In Las Vegas has been a huge seller and gotten rave reviews. To give the fans what they truly want, why don't we release a "reimagined" version, where it's the exact same story, but this time told from the perspective of one of the zombies?

Or maybe we should turn our sights on something a little less gruesome, like our Slim Dyson novel. For this, the choice seems pretty obvious. The story will remain exactly the same, but all of the parts previously written by Bryan will now be rewritten by Brandon, and all the parts written previously by Brandon will be rewritten by Bryan.

Hell, now that we're really thinking here, why not "reimagine" the blog? We can recycle, uh we mean reinvent blog posts and turn them completely on their heads by gender swapping us, kinda like that time we did A Wine for the John. Imagine how wildly different our blog posts would be if we were both women!

Do you see what we did with last week's post about Bryan's Chinese neighbors hating him? Now instead of hating him because he's white, in this version, his neighbor hates him because he's white AND a woman. It's practically a whole new joke!

So please, join us on a journey of untapped creativity as we drop trou, take a spicy burrito dump all over our readers, and rehash everything we've ever written to death, all in an effort to scam you out of more money for something you've already read before.

If it's good enough for such literary geniuses as E.L. James and Stephenie Meyer, then it's good enough for us.

Cheers and stay classy, folks,

Beer: Upslope Blood Orange Saison
Music: Yonder Mountain String Band

Monday, October 5, 2015

My New Neighbors Hate Me Because I Exist

Hey guys. Bryan here. If you've followed this blog for a while, you know that I have bad luck with neighbors. Like, really bad luck. Like, really truly bad luck. They always invariably hate my guts, mostly because of poorly conceived rumors or misinformation or sheer idiocy.

Well, now I have new neighbors. I was hoping for a fresh start with them. They're Chinese. Now, I don't mean that they're some kind of Asian and I just assume they're Chinese by default because white people think all Asians look alike. I mean they're actually from China. And let me tell you, so far it's going well.

And by well I mean terribly. I think they hate me, simply because I exist. There's a whole household of them, ranging from teenager to grandmother, and while the teenage son smiles and says hi, everyone else avoids eye contact with me and flees upon seeing me. And 5 out of 6 Chinese people agree - Bryan is fucking awful and should be avoided at all costs. Apparently.

Mom, pictured above giving what I assume is the Chinese hello, likes to stare at me when we're both outside. I imagine that she thinks I don't notice. But the moment I look in her direction and say hi, she averts her gaze so quickly I'm worried she'll get whiplash, starts grimacing, and walks away while pretending she couldn't hear me.

Out of all of them, though, Grandma is the worst. I don't annoy her. I just terrify her. Yesterday I was out front with my 3 tiny dogs, letting them use the grass equivalent of a bathroom. Grandma stepped outside of the house. I picked up my poodle so he wouldn't try to run over to her and jump up on her. I then waved and said hi.

This was how she reacted.

I've never seen a woman that age shuffle so fast. She ducked her head, shielded her eyes with her hand, and did a complete 180. She burst back inside the door from whence she had came before I could so much as attack her with a caustic, "How are you?"

Which, I mean, is just amazing to me. This surely has to be the first time ever that a person has fled in terror at the mere sight of a thin white guy with 3 cat-sized purse dogs.

If you think that's terrifying, you should see the sleeveless sweater-vest I rock in the summer so I can let "the guns" breathe.

But really, I can only imagine Grandma running back inside, heart racing and out of breath, struggling to relay her tale of horror to the others about the ghastly white guy that almost asked about her day.

Maybe I should have told them I'm not actually all white. That I'm part Mexican. No, wait, then they'd think I was in a gang, selling drugs. Better they just think I'm an evil, scary white guy.

Anyone else here have neighbors that hate them simply because they exist?

Cheers and stay classy, friends,
Bryan (and Brandon)

Music: Olympic Ayres
Beer: Goose Island Oktoberfest