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Monday, March 3, 2014

Author Showcase: Tom Tinney

Threads – Fabric of the Universe by Tom Tinney is set just over 500 years into the future. There is a sadistic killer on the loose, and he could be anywhere in the universe - literally. Twin brothers, Mark and Matt Williams, have been recruited to serve in a special unit of the USS Marshals due to the special ability the twins have: threading, a type of mental communication that reads like a shorthand Twitter message. With special brain implants that are basically high powered computers, they can access almost unlimited data. With ISTEC, a company owned by an extremely wealthy group of people hiding their own explosive secret, Matt, aided by Mark stationed at headquarters, eventually becomes involved in finding the killer on the loose, and aiding in exposing the secret held by ISTEC for 300 years.
 Threads - Fabric of the Universe is an incredibly complex story. Well written, and highly descriptive, the plot and subplots are layered nicely. There are a lot of characters in this book, with quite a bit of back story and technology to explain, but it was necessary to the story, and wasn't uninteresting. I do wish it could have been spread out more, but as I turned the last page, I'm glad I stayed with it. I think the author wove his own magical threads in creating characters and worlds that were very believable. With technology worth drooling over, I think this is what hardcore sci-fi readers dream of, and even those who aren't will find this an engrossing and enjoyable story.  Reviewed by Chameleon (B.G.) for Reader's Favorite

Q. Tom, Threads is quite a story. What inspired you to write it?

A. First, I want to thank you for this opportunity to talk about Threads. I’d had the storyline in my head for a long time. The basic three “mechanisms” of the story (Threading, The DSMM to allow intergalactic travel and the lone USS Marshal as the ultimate protector of rights in an expanding sphere of human colonization).and the beginning plot arc. As in a single plot arc.
    I was describing the story for “the book I was going to write someday” to a co-worker and he was adamant that I should just take the time and write it. So I did.
    Once I began thinking about the characters, the book’s universe and how to connect those basic mechanisms, I suddenly had a whiteboard full of history, places, people, tech and plot arcs. I wrote the basic “rules of the universe” and applied my “free- enterprise/ individual effort/personal responsibility” take on success in life. I’m a Biker-nerd with serious “Don’t tread on me” issues.
    As I made those notes, I found all of the plot twists and antagonists. I found ISTEC (Intra Stellar Transportation and Exploration Company). I determined that businesses and personal prosperity will drive our expansion, but I had to demonstrate that it could only do that after a massive failure of government control, socialism and oppression centuries before (which would be late in this century). I just followed the breadcrumbs after that.

Q. That's an incredible process, Tom, honestly, it amazes me. Though this book is set 500 years into the future, the technology you describe seemed so natural, how did you come up with it?

A. I geek out…a lot. When I needed a device to “get something done” I invented or extrapolated it. I always knew that the pigeon was going to be how we communicated in the future. It’s as close to instant as we can get across those distances, which is why the USS Marshals have a slight advantage over criminal enterprises. I knew there had to be a way to stop Threaders (or those in dire consequences who have had their thread broken), so I invented the Nano-Storm.
    Personal Implants are going to happen quickly, once we get over our fear of “Skynet”. I paid homage to William Gibson with how the tech is handled, implemented and used by people, even referring to his ICE technology. Gibson and Herbert were huge influences in my writing.
    I have been asked why I did not make the implants “wireless”, eliminating the need for cable interconnects. That was simple and harkened back to my days in the USAF. They are wireless for mundane things, but for any priority or important interfaces, you go with a cable. It is all about security. When a signal is broadcast, it can be intercepted and decoded. I was somewhat prophetic in that instance, the way the NSA is grabbing our communications. Direct connection also minimizes interference. It serves as a great story mechanism.
    I will stop there, because if we go too much further, I start introducing spoilers.

Q. Ok, let's not do that, because this is such a good read, I want readers to be surprised. Your character and world building were excellent. Many authors base their characters on people they actually know, did you do that with any of yours?

A. With the good guys, they are an amalgamation of people I have met, read about or imagined, that live to higher ideals. I did not make them perfect. I gave them flaws; physical, emotional and decision-making. Nobody got a free pass.
    The bad guys? They are mostly a reflection of the idiots and jerks I have met. Or politicians. Yeah, there is a political slant that will be easy for the savvy reader to figure out. I tried not to be cliché in their badness, but I wrote them from a mindset of “what will make the reader REALLY hate this guy?” and then the character did or said or acted on that thing. The main antagonist? He comes from a dark place. It was uncomfortable to write who he was and what he does. I have gotten some blowback over the level and description of the sexually oriented violence. I can live with that. Those sections are a grand total of four paragraphs in a 520 page novel. Do you hate the guy? Good. You should.

Q. I didn't think the sexual aspects were overdone, personally. I really liked your story premise, but I was truly impressed with how flawlessly you kept the story flowing so well through the entire length of the book. No mean feat, even for seasoned authors. Did it really flow that well for you when you wrote it?

A. When I started actually writing Threads, I completed it in six weeks, 185,000 words. I wrote three to four hours per night, most weekends and had the draft ready for first edit at the end of that time. I used a detailed spreadsheet that I created to track all of the characters, calculations for travel/history/technology, chapter outlines, etc. I understand that there is software that does this, but it was my first book, so I used what I knew. I also checked off each of the plot arcs and the story points on the white board as they were implemented. Believe it or not, that was the easy part. The writing, dialogue, world building and plot twists come naturally.
    And then the real work started. It took almost a year to shake out the formatting, grammar, spelling, punctuation and rework the finer points of my fat finger issues. There were three editors helping at different times, but Paul was there the entire project (he was the one that said I should write it, so he was dragged in to do some of the work). We went through the book five complete times and we knew we had it nailed. Then we got the draft copy print from Createspace and on the first page was a glaring error. We were bummed. We sat down that sixth time and read it line by line with yellow highlighters and post-it notes. We marked every error and corrected them. We are proud of it and have now gotten compliments on its professionalism.
    While I was writing it, I had made the decision self-publish and learned as much as I could about the process. I was not going to let Threads be a “hangar queen” on a dusty pile because it did not meet someone else’s idea of what my book should be at that moment. Now that it is getting five star ratings, I know I made the right decision.

Q. It is very well written. Your patience and knowledge with the whole process of self-publishing, and your attention in “getting it right the first time” is clearly evident in Threads, Tom. I think it's worth noting that you donate 10% of the proceeds from your book sales to a special cause, can you tell us more about that?

A. While I was editing the book, and learning about self-publishing, I made the decision that Threads should benefit something important. If it made any money, it was money that I had not budgeted, so I committed to donate 10% of the profits to ALS research and patient care. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
    My best friend’s wife, Sheila, was diagnosed a couple of years back and it really hit everyone hard. We like to fix things and solve things. I think that Sci-Fi writers like to envision a future where those things are solved or cured. In the here and now, that is not the case. I wrote ALS into the book and it was a struggle to not let my anger at how people are affected overwhelm the support and strength shown on a daily basis by those that are dealing with it.
    The first royalty check that I was able to write over to ALS was a significant moment (but a small amount) in my burgeoning writing career. There are bigger things than us and our words. We need to understand that and keep things in perspective.

Q. That's truly touching, Tom, think of the possibilities if only more authors could do that. You're obviously a talent to watch, what's next on the horizon for you?

A. I have three projects in the works, but the one getting most of my attention is “Blood of Invidia”. An awesome tale of Vampires and Aliens spanning thousands of years. Galactic conquest with a huge twist.
    I have a son in Australia that I have never met in person, named Morgen. We have been corresponding for a few years and began tossing story ideas via text message. He is a really talented writer and his personality speaks to genetics versus environment…because he is just like me.
    I saved the messages, and after I wrote Threads, I took the messages and did a basic outline for “Blood of Invidia”. Over time, we flushed out the book. We are now Skyping and writing it in the cloud, blending our two distinct styles. We have the draft prologue up on my personal blog. The first draft of the book will be done in a couple of months.
    My two other projects are the second book in the Fabric of the Universe series. It will be called “Weaves” and it continues the story started in Threads. I will get back to it after “Blood of Invidia” is released. I am also writing more WEBisodes to a Sci-Fi detective series on my blog called “PULPED!”. They started out as an entry in a micro-story contest and have taken on a life of their own.

Thanks for joining me, Tom, I wish you great success, and look forward to seeing you expand as an author. Any parting words you'd like to leave your readers with?

 For readers? Look at Indie/Self Published authors. Their books are not restrained by the vanilla formulaic size and pattern requirements inflicted by the big publishers and, as such, are more innovative, risky and cutting edge.
    For Indie authors? Do not rush to publish. Beta readers, PROFESSIONAL EDITING and great cover artist will keep your work from being dismissed. Do you want fans or one-time buyers?
    Unfortunately, there is a lot of low quality and poorly written stuff out there. It has created a huge amount of distrust in the readership of Self-Published Authors Efforts. If the author knows the book has issues…they need to FIX THEM before they publish. It is not fair to the reader or other authors when you knowingly let low quality stuff out on the market. I read a book and the authors notes at the end were “With everyone of my works, you will get the Typos and Grammatical errors at no extra charge.”
     And yes, in his cute comment, he had another error (“With every one of”). He thought he was being funny. I think he was being unprofessional and knew he was selling me less than his best work. Don’t be that guy.

Great advice, Tom. I highly recommend Threads. Not only is it a great read, but it helps a great cause!

Threads: Book One of the "Fabric of the Universe" (Volume 1) Purchase here for Kindle

Threads: Book One of the "Fabric of the Universe" (Volume 1) Purchase here for Nook, Sony, Apple Chameleon Author

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