Novel Workshop 365

2020 IS NOW FULL. WE ARE NOW SIGNING UP FOR 2021 AT STORYVILLE.

Instructor: Richard Thomas
Email: storyvillerichard@gmail.com
Skype: richardgthomas3
Class Hours: Fourth Thursday of each month, 3 hours, 7:00 to 10:00 PM CST.
Length: 52 Weeks
Class Size: 8 students

COURSE STATEMENT:

Are you ready to take the next step? I constantly talk about writing short stories, finding your voice, and developing as an author. That’s all very important. But the end goal for many of us is to write a novel (hopefully LOTS of novels). That’s probably the best way to access innovative small presses, and the most common path to acquiring an agent, and landing at one of the big five publishers (and selling your film rights). This class will cover pre-writing (development), writing, editing, and submitting. The end goal is to have a novel over 66,000 words by the end of the year. Not only have I written three novels, but I’ve edited and helped other authors get their work published. The reason I’m teaching this class is to be there to help others go through the process—surrounded by talented peers, and with a safety net and published author to help guide, nudge, push, and advise.

COURSE OBJECTIVE:

To outline, write, edit, and submit a novel in one year.

I’d add PUBLISH here, but we all know the submission process can take months, or even a year (or longer) not to mention the editing, marketing, design, and promotion that will come once you’ve sold that book.

BOOKS REQUIRED:

None. But if you’re looking for good books on the craft, here are my four favorites: On Writing by Stephen King, Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass, Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer, and Thrill Me! by Benjamin Percy.

OVERVIEW:

There are two ways you can come to this class—with a novel written, or not. I will accept students either way. I expect that MOST will come to class with nothing written yet (aside from some notes, ideas, and maybe a handful of scenes). Either way, here are my thoughts and notes on how the year will play out.

You will have daily prompts. Those will be on Facebook, in a private, secret group. We will meet via Skype once a month for about three hours, where each author will get 20 MINUTES to talk about any aspect of their novel. You can talk about what is blocking you, exciting you, or eluding you. You can toss out ideas about the plot, questions about clarity, or how you might subvert your genre—you name it. There will be 12 Skype calls a year.

January—Development and Outline (one month)

We will spend the first month using daily prompts to sketch out your book. We will talk about a wide range of topics, including but not limited to: narrative hook, inciting incidents, plot, character, setting, internal and external conflicts, tension, cast, genre, theme, expectations, innovation, structure, format, climax, resolution, and denouement. (Sound familiar?) If you already have a novel written, you will use the daily prompts to check your work, and go deeper. At the end of the month you will share your content with the class, and give feedback to your peers in a timely manner (a week for outlines, please).

February through June—Writing (six months)

This is where the rubber meets the road. I will give you daily prompts that will push you to write. The early prompts will be about the beginning of the novel—the hooks, the setup, the cast of characters, the pace, early foreshadowing, etc. Then we will look at how the plot unfolds, and how deep you go with secondary plots, themes, and characters. As the book grows we will continuously look at the development of your characters, how we feel about them, sympathy and empathy, how the protagonist/s resonate, the enemy and other villains, and overall voice, tension, and depth of story. As we approach the end, we will make sure this story is staying true to character, surprising us along the way, and being as innovating, fresh, and personal as is possible. All of this is leading to that powerful ending—the climax, resolution, change, and denouement. Does it all add up? Does it work? How do we feel? And what was the journey like? Did it give us everything it promised? If not, then that’s the next stage—editing. You will turn in 11,000 words a month (that’s only about 350 words a day). Our goal is to get you over 65,000 words for the year. Most presses want at least 60,000 for a novel. At the end of the month you will share your content with the class, and give feedback to your peers in a timely manner (a month for this writing and developmental editing, please, also known as a read and respond). If you already have a novel written, you will use the daily prompts to check your work, and go deeper.

July through November—Editing (five months)

Okay, this is not only the most painful part of the process (in my opinion) but also the most exciting. What, you doubt me? This is where you give your novel an honest evaluation, listen to your classmates, and trim the fat. There is something hypnotic and invigorating about looking at each chapter and seeing what works (which is probably MOST of it) and then tweaking, trimming, editing, and polishing—making each section sing. Then we get to go through a number of times to check the grammar, make sure the tense stays consistent, develop the setting (all five senses), enhance the feelings we have about our characters, and make sure their actions match their morality and abilities, while not only embracing the genre/s you are writing in, but subvert those expectations. If you promise us a cheeseburger, you better deliver, but the bun, the meat, the toppings—that’s where you can make it your own. You will not turn in edits each month, but will instead work toward a goal of a final, polished novel, which you WILL share with your peers. (Final feedback from YOU is another read and respond, talking about the overall experience, but from me, it will be a full line-by-line edit.)

December—Submission

You didn’t think I’d abandon you after it was all written, did you? This is where we will do research on small presses, agents, and the big five publishers (and their imprints). We will use a variety of tools and resources to figure out where to send your work. And then you will SEND YOUR BOOK OUT! (My final edits are due back to you 30 to 60 days after the class ends. I need time to do my best work, but I also don’t want to hold you up.)

WHO IS THIS CLASS FOR:

  1. Advanced students who are looking to take their writing to the next level.
  2. Experienced authors who have penned many successful short stories, and/or published widely, and are eager to take on the long form. They should have a strong sense of their voice (including strengths and weaknesses).
  3. Authors who are firmly entrenched in one genre, and feel they have a strong understanding of what is expected and/or those looking to subvert the expectations of that genre.
  4. Authors who are writing cross-genre and/or hybrid fiction, and are looking to break the mold and innovate across those genres.
  5. Writers who have the time and discipline to commit an entire year of planning, writing, editing, and submitting this novel.
  6. Authors who are excited about THIS BOOK and are willing to put their blood, sweat, and tears into this narrative. Story should have the depth to go 66,000 words or more.
  7. Writers who have enjoyed my other classes.
  8. Author who have enjoyed my own writing, editing, and publishing (including Gamut and Dark House Press).

PAST SUCCESS:

Other authors and clients I’ve worked with have sold novels to Angry Robot Books, JournalStone, Crystal Lake Publishing, One Eye Press, Post Mortem Press, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, Kraken Press, and Perfect Edge Books. Many writers have also landed agents after working with me. Work I’ve edited has been nominated for the following awards and prizes: Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, Thriller, Nebula, Folio, and Pushcart.

COST/FINANCING:

This was tricky, but basically what I wanted to do was look at my rates for a developmental edit ($4/page) of a novel, as well as a line-by-line edit of a novel ($8/page), and then the class. For 66,000 words, if the average page is 250 words that’s a 264-page novel. So those costs would be $1,056 + $2,112 = $3,168. My workshops are $800 for 16 weeks and my Dark Fiction Class is $1,200 for 16 weeks, so you COULD extrapolate those out to between $2,400 and $3,600 a year. That would put the grand total at somewhere between $4,268 and $6,768. I decided to price it at $5,000. Here are the discounts:

  1. Full Price (with payment plan): $5,000
    (12 months—$416/month; 24 months—$208/month)
  2. Past Student (10% off, with payment plan): $4,500
    (12 months—$375/month; 24 months—$187.50/month)
  3. Past Student (20% off, paid in full): $4,000

For payment plans, there are two obvious options—12 months or 24 months. If you’d like to have the class paid off in full before we start, do 12 months. If you need to stretch it as far as possible to get the lowest monthly rate, do 24 months. I’m willing to work with you all to make this possible. All payments are by Paypal invoice. Other means are possible as well.

NOTE: If your novel goes over 66,000 words, I will bill for the additional length. So, in the developmental stage, that’s at $4/page, which I will bill when we go over (billed in June). With the finished novel, that’s at $8/page, billed when I turn in the completed edits (January or February of 2020). So, if the developmental edit ends up at 70,000 words, I’d bill an additional $64. And if the final manuscripts balloons up to 76,000 that would be an additional invoice for $320 (due upon receipt of the full edit).  

FINAL THOUGHTS

I think this class will go a long way toward making your novel happen. Obviously, the heavy lifting is on your end—I can’t write the book for you. But by having my input and guidance during the conception, writing, editing, and submission, I think your chances for success are very high. And the input of your peers is valuable as well. I was part of a similar group, Write Club, for many years, and it helped me a lot when I was writing Transubstantiate and Disintegration. Also, I won’t accept any students that I don’t think are ready to do this. You must have the determination, the talent, and the imagination.

Don’t hesitate to ask any questions! Sign up now at Storyville.

Thanks,
Richard

Disintegration Makes TWO Best Fiction of 2015 Lists

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Well, I’m stoked to announce that Disintegration (Random House Alibi) has made two Best of the Year lists. The first is at Entropy Magazine, where it was selected as one of the Best Fiction Books of 2015. The second, is at Cultured Vultures, where it made their Top Ten Books of 2015 list. They added this, as well:

“Disintegration is a novel I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. It holds back no punches and dives into a gritty world that we have come to expect from Thomas. Not only is this a stand out effort, but a promising sign that despite being one of the most hands on people in the lit community, he’s not just all talk. Disintegration is probably one of the darkest things on this list, but by no means should that make you run away—just dive right in.”

I’m honored to make both lists, and am in some excellent company. Thank you to Peter Tieryas at Entropy and Jay Slayton-Joslin at Cultured Vultures for the kind words and support.

Bound Copy of Breaker (Random House Alibi)

BoundBreaker

I’m giving away ONE signed, bound copy of Breaker, my third novel, and the second book in the Windy City Mystery Series from Random House Alibi. These printed copies are usually sent out to get blurbs, so most people, myself included, never even see them. My editor, Dana Isaacson, had a few extra, and was kind enough to send me a few copies. So if you hate reading eBooks, but enjoy my writing, here is an opportunity to get this in print.

Here is all you need to do:

Go to Breaker at Goodreads.com, and add it to your “to-read” shelf. I will pick one person at random from that list on Sunday, November 29th at midnight. So, head on over, and good luck! (USA only, sorry.)

DESCRIPTION:

Living alone in the dusty apartment where he grew up, Ray Nelson is a mystery to his neighbors and an unbeatable foe to the brutal men he fights in the ring for money. But a life defined by sinister secrets doesn’t stop Ray from trying to do the right thing for his dangerously high-flying sister. Or for Natalie, the young girl living next door. As a sadistic murderer’s ominous white van trolls for young victims throughout the Windy City, Ray is determined to protect Natalie from both predators and a bleak future.

When she sees a bruised and beaten Ray return from late-night fights, Natalie spots a kindred spirit. Still, she cannot imagine the darkness just beneath, or what’s hidden in the rooms he calls home. Now, as the horrors of his own past creep back to life with a twisted vengeance, Ray may not even be able to save himself.

PRAISE FOR DISINTEGRATION (the first book in the series):

“A dark existential thriller of unexpected twists, featuring a drowning man determined to pull the rest of the world under with him. A stunning and vital piece of work.”
—Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting and Filth

“Sweet hot hell, Richard Thomas writes like a man possessed, a man on fire, a guy with a gun to his head. And you’ll read Disintegration like there’s a gun to yours, too. A twisted masterpiece.”
—Chuck Wendig, author of Blackbirds and Double Dead

“This novel is so hard-hitting it should come with its own ice-pack. Richard Thomas is the wild child of Raymond Chandler and Chuck Palahniuk, a neo-noirist who brings to life a gritty, shadow-soaked, bullet-pocked Chicago as the stage for this compulsively readable crime drama.”
—Benjamin Percy, author of The Dead Lands and Red Moon

“Thomas builds his universe and its population with terse prose and dynamic, often horrifyingly visceral imagery that unspools with grand weirdness and intensity. Then he rips that universe apart, brick by bloody brick. Disintegration is provocative. It’s also damned fine noir.”
—Laird Barron, author of The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and The Croning

“A sodden, stumbling anti-hero in a noir so dark it makes much of the rest of the genre seem like Disney movies by comparison. Gritty, obsessive, and compulsively readable.”
—Brian Evenson, author of Immobility and Windeye

Disintegration is gritty neo-noir; a psycho-sexual descent into an unhinged psyche and an underworld Chicago that could very well stand in for one of the rings of Dante’s Hell. Richard Thomas’ depraved-doomed-philosopher hitman is your guide. I suggest you do as he says and follow him, if you know what’s good for you.”
—Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Little Sleep

“In sharp, icy prose that cuts like a glacial wind, Richard Thomas’ dark Chicago tale keeps us absolutely riveted to the very end.”
—Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time and Knockemstiff

For a Limited Time, Disintegration is On Sale for 99 cents.

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For a limited time, Random House Alibi has put Disintegration on sale for 99 cents. 92% of the reviews at Amazon and 84% of the reviews at Goodreads are 4 or 5 stars. Pick up a copy today, and I hope you enjoy it.

“A dark existential thriller of unexpected twists, featuring a drowning man determined to pull the rest of the world under with him. A stunning and vital piece of work.”
—Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting and Filth

“Sweet hot hell, Richard Thomas writes like a man possessed, a man on fire, a guy with a gun to his head. And you’ll read Disintegration like there’s a gun to yours, too. A twisted masterpiece.”
—Chuck Wendig, author of Blackbirds and Double Dead

“This novel is so hard-hitting it should come with its own ice-pack. Richard Thomas is the wild child of Raymond Chandler and Chuck Palahniuk, a neo-noirist who brings to life a gritty, shadow-soaked, bullet-pocked Chicago as the stage for this compulsively readable crime drama.”
—Benjamin Percy, author of The Dead Lands, Red Moon, and The Wilding

“Thomas builds his universe and its population with terse prose and dynamic, often horrifyingly visceral imagery that unspools with grand weirdness and intensity. Then he rips that universe apart, brick by bloody brick. Disintegration is provocative. It’s also damned fine noir.”
—Laird Barron, author of The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and The Croning

“A sodden, stumbling anti-hero in a noir so dark it makes much of the rest of the genre seem like Disney movies by comparison. Gritty, obsessive, and compulsively readable.”
—Brian Evenson, author of Immobility and Windeye

Disintegration is gritty neo-noir; a psycho-sexual descent into an unhinged psyche and an underworld Chicago that could very well stand in for one of the rings of Dante’s Hell. Richard Thomas’ depraved-doomed-philosopher hitman is your guide. I suggest you do as he says and follow him, if you know what’s good for you.”
—Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Little Sleep

“In sharp, icy prose that cuts like a glacial wind, Richard Thomas’ dark Chicago tale keeps us absolutely riveted to the very end.”
—Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time and Knockemstiff

Essay about Transylvania up at Suvudu

SuvuduArtSo when I went to Transylvania this summer to teach horror writing in the shadow of Bram Stoker’s castle, I knew I’d write a few essays about my experiences. This article touches on setting, and how it seeps into my work—how it played a big role in my second novel Disintegration (Alibi) and how it might work its way into future stories and novels after some times spend in Romania. ENJOY!

Cover reveal for BREAKER (Random House Alibi).

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I’m thrilled to share with you the cover for Breaker, the second book in the Windy City Dark Mystery Series (Random House Alibi). This series is not like most traditional mystery series, in that we don’t have the same protagonist. What we do have is the same city (Chicago) with the first book set in the Wicker Park / Bucktown area, the second in Logan Square, just up the road. I lived in both areas for about twelve years in all, and the backdrop, the atmosphere, the tone and mood, that’s all similar. It’s really more like what Stephen King did for small town Maine, instead of Agatha Christie or F. Paul Wilson.

So, what’s Breaker all about? Our protagonist is Raymond, or Ray to his friends. He lives alone, haunted by secrets in his past, various abuses that his parents and sister lay on him, trying to survive, while repressing these memories. He works as a fighter, underground warehouses and private events, in order to pay his rent. Next door, is a young girl, Natalie, just in high school, who see him for the innocent boy he used to be. She’s not afraid of him. But maybe she should be. The struggle throughout this book is for Ray to break the cycle of abuse, to not be the monster that he is destined to be. Can he do it? You’ll have to read it to see.

Right now we’re looking at late 2015 or early 2016 for a release date. If you liked Disintegration, which Irvine Welsh called, “A stunning and vital piece of work,” and Chuck Wendig said was “A twisted masterpiece,” then hopefully you’ll like this book too.

Thanks for the continued support, faithful readers. Can’t wait for this to come out. Thanks to my agent, Paula Munier, and my editor at RHA, Dana Isaacson, for all of their hard work on this.

Hanging with Chuck Palahniuk and Irvine Welsh

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CP2015Balls

CP2015

Had such a great time at the Chuck Palahniuk reading last night in Naperville. Got to hang out with Chuck and Irvine Welsh, two of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, so very generous and supportive. The lit up balls really show you what a crazy night it was, Chuck giving away so many cool prizes to his fans. Admission got me the signed book and comic, but I was lucky enough to finally catch the severed arm. I edited Burnt Tongues with Chuck (and Dennis Widmyer) which was nominated for a Bram Stoker award, and Irvine Welsh was kind enough to blurb my novel, Disintegration, calling it, “A stunning and vital piece of work.” I’m working on Irvine and I sharing a stage in the near future, since he’s in Chicago now. So much fun. Grateful to both of these guys. Also got to hang out with Jason M. Fylan who has an excellent story in Burnt Tongues, and Kirk Clawes, who helps run ChuckPalahniuk.net and LitReactor.com.

It’s Release Day for DISINTEGRATION!

DisintegrationALL

I can’t even believe Disintegration is finally here, six years in the making. I started this in my MFA program back in 2009, writing the first half with my professor Lynn Pruett, who knew nothing about neo-noir. After I gave her copies of work by Will Christopher Baer and Craig Clevenger, she got what I was going for, and was extremely supportive. When I got to Dale Ray Phillips, who was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he said it might not be thesis material, which means—not good enough. I put it aside to work on literary short stories with him, and it was worth the wait. A year and a half later, I had a week between gigs and wrote the second half, 40,000-words in five days, my fingers bruised, my arms aching, practically in tears when I stopped, feeling like I might throw up. That began the year search for a small press, where it was rejected 20, 30, 40 times. Running out of options, I decided to try and get an agent, and over 100 rejections later, Paula Munier at Talctott Notch called me, only 100 pages in, to say she loved it and wanted to sign me. I said finish the book, it’s kind of dark. She did, and she signed me, and we went after the big six and their imprints. So many close calls, coming down to board votes in some cases, and then we got the offer from Random House Alibi. I knew we were taking a chance on this eBook only imprint, but it has been a fantastic experience, my editor there, Dana Isaacson, so supportive, helping to make this book so much better. A team of three copy editors, and four marketing/PR associates, gave me more support than I’ve ever gotten. Now, the day is here.

I hope you enjoy the book, this neo-noir, transgressive thriller that is the first book in the Windy City Dark Mystery Series. It’s kind of Dexter meets Falling Down. The second book, The Breaker, is also set in Chicago, with a different protagonist (out in late 2015, or early 2016). It’s more like what Stephen King did with small town Maine novels than the F. Paul Wilson series, and his Repairman Jack.

ENJOY!

Here are some early reviews:

THIS IS HORROR

THE HORROR BOOKSHELF 5/5

ENTROPY MAGAZINE

CRIME FICTION LOVER 4/5

MATT PUCCI BLOG

SPLATTERHOUSE FIVE 5/5

QUIET FURY BOOKS BLOG 5/5

SJ2B HOUSE OF BOOKS 5/5

PAUL READ OR DEAD

PANTHEON MAGAZINE

HELLNOTES

Here are some excerpts:

ZOUCH

PUNCHNEL’S

ENTROPY