Tuesday, August 21, 2012

To Be Thankful

While this blog has been used to rant, to promote, and to otherwise ramble, today I would like to write about being thankful.

I've been up since 3:00 AM. Unable to sleep, I watched TV. I played on the computer. I bought a new coffee pot. I wrote. I worked at submitting a short story to a number of magazines. And I contemplated ...

You will oftentimes hear people say, "Life is funny."

They don't mean funny, ha-ha. Generally, they mean, ironic. Sad. Mean. Evil. Yet, they express this by calling it, "funny."

Having failed out of college back in 1989, trying my luck then at community college and getting close to no where, I was able to land a job at Kodak. That job allowed me the comfort of getting married and raising a family.

Then life got funny.

After 19 years with the same woman, 15 married, I suddenly found myself divorced. Not living home with my three amazing kids. This was in 2007.

But the funny doesn't stop there. It gets down-right hysterical.

After 19 years with Kodak, I was let go. Down-sized. Unemployed. I had to give up the studio apartment I lived in, and move back home with my parents.

Yeah. Had to give up a studio. Doesn't that just have you in stitches?

Hard to feel thankful. Harder still not to just feel constantly depressed. Like giving up. Giving in.

In 1995, I had my first short story published. From there, I've gone on to sell nearly 100 short-stories and articles. I penned 9 novels. Two of them won small-time awards.

I did newspaper, magazine, radio and television interviews. I held book signings at over 100 bookstores throughout New York, Pennsylvania, Florida and Indiana. I've been flown first class, had limo drivers, and been treated like a celebrity.

For nearly three years I've been working for the city as a Fire/EMS dispatcher at 911. It's a good, steady job. We're growing. Not shrinking. There is stability with the position. And I am thankful.

My newest novel, PULSE OF EVIL, was just released. It is my ninth. And I am thankful.

But a job, a writing career -- thankful as I am -- are nothing compared to my kids. My family.

Three kids. Teens. All of them.

I am thankful for them. For their health. That they are in my life -- that they want me in theirs. That we are close. That we hug and kiss hello, and goodbye. That we laugh, and talk, and share. That we text and call and see each other often.

I am thankful for my entire family. For parents that are supportive and always there when needed. For brothers and a sister who would do anything for me, and for whom I would do the same. I am thankful.

Life is far from funny. It is unfair and dark at times. It is stormy and violent. Depressing and despairing.

It is important ... no, no ... vital -- it is vital to see the good, to find the worthwhile, to value the relationships that we have.

They can end at any moment.

Be taken from you. Stolen. Stripped and shredded.

It is vital to love. To move forward. To forgive, and forget.

To let go...

It is vital to remember why you are important to someone else -- just as "they" need to know how they are important to you.

There is a purpose behind this blog. A driving cause. It's crippling for me to think about it. And at this time, it is not necessary for me to explain the background. The words above are true. Harsh. Bitter-sounding, but true.

I may hate where I am. Forty-two, divorced, living in an apartment a few miles from my children (yes, I was able to move out of my parents' house after a while and get back up on my own feet -- for which I am thankful).

I don't sugarcoat things. I smile. I always try to smile. I don't say stupid shit like, "There is always a silver lining." That's bullshit. Not true.

But there is always hope.

Hope, and reasons to be thankful ... thankful for something.

Search your own hearts. Find the things you are thankful for -- and make sure your feelings are known. Make sure. Don't let regrets fill the space inside your heart.

. . . thank you for letting me get this out.


Phillip Tomasso

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

White Noise Nightmares

Working the graveyard shift as a Fire/EMS Dispatcher at 9-1-1, sleep sometimes eludes me. As tired as I might be while at work, once I leave—walk out the doors to the parking lot—I am immediately hit with a second wind. At first I used to blame the job. High stress. All wound up from work. The tons of coffee and Mountain Dew consumed to keep from falling asleep on the job.

It could be a combination. I’m not sure. I’m no doctor. I’ve tried different things to help me sleep once home. Eating a meal. Watching a movie. Having a beer. Nyquil. I usually sleep, or try to sleep, with the television on. It’s my white noise.

Oftentimes I put on Nickelodeon. Leave on Spongebob, or Disney’s Phineas & Ferb. I have to use my channel guide to make sure it’s a running marathon. That the show is on long enough for me to fall asleep to, and then some. Lately, I’ve been falling asleep to programs on channels like History, or Discovery, Science, or Animal … What I’ve found is, the droning monotone voice of the narrator is hypnotic and soothing.

Unfortunately, the programs themselves are disturbing at times to the subconscious.

Sharks Attacking, Aliens Invading, Civil War Bloodshed, Venomous Snakes, Stalking Spiders, Big Booms, Life on Mars, Hitler’s Conquests, Devastating Hurricanes, Destructive Tornadoes, Still-at-large Murderers, Haunted Homes, Meandering Ghosts and Earth-crippling Sun Flares fill my dreams. Regardless of the catastrophic events portrayed, it is still the monotone voice that does it for me. It is that nearly identical voice in every show that allows the sandman to visit.

The nightmares that ensue is another story altogether.

Nothing worse than having someone say to you, “Oh, man, I had the weirdest dream last night,” and then proceed to tell you a long, boring rendition of what they dreamed. I will spare you. Based on the above paragraph, it won’t take much imagination to figure out what nightmares taunted my dreams.

Like most people, after I wake up, rarely can I recall an entire dream in vivid detail. Bits and fragments float here and there. I’ll do my best to splice it together, try and recount some form of uniformity, or am forced to make up parts, or embellish—as people will do—if only to keep some sort of flow flowing or in an attempt to hold a listener’s attention.

The thing is, when I explain to people what happens, that my sleep is plagued with unspeakable horrors, they all tend to say the same thing. “Fall asleep with a different channel on.”

As a writer, though I may not recall the dream in its entirety, I am confident my subconscious pulls on the scattered fragments to incorporate in the tales I tell. Relatively, confident, anyway.

I tried the old, sleep-with-a-notebook-by-the-bed-and-write-down-my-dreams-in-a-journal-thing. Didn’t work well. Once up for the day, I’d re-read what I’d written. Talk about lack of lucidity. I kept at it for a few months. Not religiously, but regular. At the end of the few months, I realized I’d wasted a journal, and had pages and pages of unusable material. Not fruitful at all . . . Ho-hum.

The most frequent question asked is, “Where do you get your ideas?”

The answer is not simple. Not black and white. Not cut and dry. Life is my automatic response. People who know me, who have read my books, believe this answer to be obvious. Characters depict my dry sense of humor, or lack-thereof. And while all characters are fictional, and absolutely never based on real people – sometimes glimpses of so-and-so or what’s-his-name can be inferred???

Although I am not able to point at or refer to a specific dream, I do know that nightmares influence my writing. Since I’ve tapped into the current channels I watch while falling asleep, I can absolutely insist that my writing has become more obscure and unique.

The point of this blog? Just that I enjoy nightmares. Sometimes look forward to them. How weird is that statement? A bit bizarre, I suppose. True, though. Very true.

Take care,

Phillip Tomasso

Pulse of Evil Book Trailer

Pulse of Evil For Sale (Just click on the book cover)

Other titles for sale for Kindle

The Molech Prophecy for sale on Nook/Paperback -- writing as Thomas Phillips

Monday, August 13, 2012

Evelyn Cullet Interviews Phillip Tomasso

Hello Phillip. It was nice of you to grant me this interview for your novel’s upcoming August release date.

1. Pulse of Evil is an interesting title. How did you come up with it?

It’s a vampire novel. Unique—if I do say so myself. In the story, the Pope has a team of priests and nuns that sole responsibility is to hunt down and kill vampires. So it is important for the Vatican to keep a … pulse on evil.

2. Tell us about your novel.

I tried to play with the stereotypes of vampires some. And of course, keep a love-story at the center. In Pulse of Evil, the main character is involved with a woman. He does not realize she is a vampire. When they get into a car accident, he is mortally wounded. She saves his life by trying to turn him. However, the turn is not complete until a first kill is made—or until human blood is ingested. My main character fights this transition, despite growing weaker and weaker. Ultimately, he is on the run. The woman’s family has to either get him to change, exterminate him, since he knows too much. Taking some refuge in a church, the main character confesses all to a priest – who in turn, contacts the Vatican.

3. Where did you get the idea for this story?

Long before Twilight, >wink wink<, I have been fascinated by vampire stories. Have read most novels out there. And have written a few manuscripts in my time. None good enough to move forward with until, Pulse of Evil. The actual idea – I dreamt it. Of being in a psych-ward, hiding from vampires. Was quite the nightmare!

4. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

This list will not surprise many. However, I grew up with a reading disability. Did all I could to never read. Wasn’t until 7th grade that I actually read my first novel. It was an assignment. It was S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. Read it cover to cover. Went on to read, Rumble Fish, That Was Then This Is Now and Tex. Once I finished with those, I was hooked. Never before realizing that books could actually be better than TV, I began to devour every novel by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and John Saul. I still prefer to read horror, but my list of favorite reads expands regularly, if not daily.

5. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Oh, I think I put a lot of real life into every story I write. A lot of “me” can be found in a little of each character. My dry sense of humor, my outlooks, my fears … Yes. To call each novel a snap-shot of autobiographical-fiction would not be far from the truth.

6. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

While my first short story was published in 1984, and I have since sold more than 100 short stories, 9 novels and 2 middle grade books – the criticism has spanned the spectrum. However, some of the best things I’ve learned are, fiction still needs to be factual. Keep sentences short and simple. Dialogue needs to be crisp—so read your scenes out loud to test it for authenticity. There’s more. Always more. These three stand out most.

7.  How have your personal experiences affected your writing?

In 2007 my wife and I separated after 15 years of marriage. Worst thing to ever happen in my life. My work, since, has become more gritty. A bit darker. Unfortunately, I like it. The awfulness of divorce has improved my writing. Tough to admit. But true. Some silver lining, huh?

8. How did you choose the genre you write in?

I have tried reading literary works. Classics. I just don’t enjoy them. I need something that … happens. Page one. Intensity. Something that drives me to keep turning pages. Time is of the essence. That kind of thing. I remember reading Cannery Row. I thought, when I finished, am I missing chapters here? Nothing happened. I am not putting down Steinbeck. Just saying. So I prefer to write fiction that is similar to what I like to read. Suspense. Thrillers. Horror.

9. What project are you working on now?

I have two books previously released (Tenth House, Third Ring) that feature a private investigator who’s client’s and cases teeter on the edge of supernatural. I am working on the third in this series that I call, First Fragments. And I am also turning a recently published short story, “Vaccination,” into a novel – and deals with zombies. Love zombies nearly as much as vampires. And with The Walking Dead’s huge success, I have high hopes for this manuscript.

10.  Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers?

I love email from people who have read my work. As I’ve stated, I have 9 published novels out there. If you are in a hurry to see what I’ve written while waiting for Pulse of Evil to be released, please Google my work. I like to tell people, I am very Google-able! Thank you for taking the time to interview me. I’ve enjoyed the questions very much!

No Idea Why This Blog Looks So Funny. Best I Can Say Is...Sorry :)

Take care,

Phillip Tomasso

Pulse of Evil Book Trailer

Pulse of Evil For Sale (Just click on the book cover)

Other titles for sale for Kindle

The Molech Prophecy for sale on Nook/Paperback -- writing as Thomas Phillips

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Been There (Still Haven't) Done That

Back in 2001, an independent film company optioned the movie rights to my novel TENTH HOUSE. The back cover blurb reads:

"Private Investigator, Nicholas Tartaglia, is hired to stop a satanic cult before they sacrifice another victim. Amidst a mysterious web of deception and conspiracy, Tartaglia's investigations has him chasing a shadowy, elusive figure -- the cult's high priest. The search for answers turns into an urgent race against time when it becomes clear who the next victim to be sacrificed will be. Tartaglia must save the chosen one before the demented cult leader and his followers hold their next ceremony."

Lynda Carter was looking at the lead female role for the film. The scrtipt was started. And then, just when it looked like the ball was really, really going to get rolling, it died. The project stopped. The film company went under.

The cool thing was the fact that I'd made it that far. Not too many authors can say their novel was almost turned into a movie.

Here I am again. Same place. Hoping this time it will actually happen.

A film company is looking at the possibility of turning my novel JOHNNY BLADE into a movie!

It's a bit more gritty and hardcore of a story.

The back cover blurb reads:

"When a whoring, violent drunk loses everything--his job, his wife, his kids and his home--he quickly becomes enraged, and vengeful. He focuses his energy on killing prostitutes. When a college graduate winds up with a job on the city’s newspaper writing obituaries, it does not take much for him to spot opportunity. Taking a part-time job as a cook at a diner where the victimized hookers hung out, the journalist gets close to those closest to the murders. The journalist falls in love with one of the prostitutes, turning his world upside-down. When Johnny Blade takes this particular streetwalker for a ride, it is up to the journalist to save her life."

At this point, it's just talking.

The film company has the info on the book. A working script has already been written by my good, and talented friend Greg Palmer. They have that, too.

The company claims they want to make a go of this project. So while my fingers are crossed, I am apprehensive about holding my breath, just yet.

People never believe me when I say writing isn't about the money. Of course I'd love to do this full time. Love to leave my job and stay in a bathrobe all day writing. Who wouldn't? (Maybe someone who doesn't own a bathrobe?)

It isn't about the money.

I am a storyteller. A writer. Dare I say, an artist?

What matters most to me is creating, and then sharing that creation.

Regardless of a movie deal or not; of hitting the best seller list or not; of having to work a full time job or not ... I write because I love it. Getting published is icing on the cake.

Getting paid, or landing a movie deal ... well, my firends, that's getting to eat my cake, too!

Know what I say? Don't wait for the movie. If you haven't read JOHNNY BLADE (which, by the way, won a Bloody Daggar Award in 2002) -- read it now! Love to know who you "picture" as actors for parts in the film!

Take care,

Phillip Tomasso

Pulse of Evil Book Trailer

Pulse of Evil For Sale (Just click on the book cover)

Other titles for sale for Kindle

The Molech Prophecy for sale on Nook/Paperback -- writing as Thomas Phillips

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Fourth D

Writing is a solitary experience. It is like most anything else. It's about what I call the 3-D's: Discipline, Dedication and Drive. You have to want it, yes. But you actually have to work at it. A writing routine is important. Getting into a routine is key. I sometimes suffer there. I have the time. There is a fourth D. It' can be a killer to a writer. A downer. (No, Downer is not the fourth D).

Distraction. That's it. The Fourth D. Distraction.

Remember the song, Video Killed the Radio Star?

Facebook and other social networks killed the writer.

I remember back when I wrote on a typewriter. There was no internet. I mean, there might have been. People didn't have home computers. Facebook wasn't alive. Breathing. Twitter was more of a sound-effect. Birds flapping wings.

I wrote my first horror novel on a typewriter. The Party House. A slasher story. Took place in a ... well, yes, a party house. I was a fourteen year old busboy at the time. It was all I knew. It's what I wrote about. And I wrote about it without distractions.

Back in 2000, my first novel was published. Mind Play. A psychological thriller. I was then on target. Released a new book every year for seven years. Life got in the way. It has been a while since I've had a new book come out. That is until now.

Pulse Of Evil was recently released. It's in E-book and Paperback format. I have three other manuscripts started, and a young adult novel still under consideration by a different publisher.

It is the three started manuscripts that bother me. They, in and of themselves, are now a distraction. I know why. It's like being so hungry at a restaraunt, that you can't decide what to order. Too much selection. That is a distraction. Especially when you think it all sounds so yummy.

I know what I need to do. Of course I do. It's like wanting to lose weight. You know what you have to do to drop pounds. Meal portions, exercise and lots of water. It's simple. But people would rather spend money to meet goals. Weight Watchers, and diet-fads, buy books and videos on how-to. Those are not needed. They are frivolous at best. Meal portions, exercise and lots of water. Quite simple.

What I need to do is pick one tale.


And finish it. Slave away at it. And get it done.

It's not like the other stories vanish if I concentrate on just one. They won't. They'll still be there. Waiting for my attention.

The tough part, though, is picking which one deserves my utmost dedication.

While writing this, I have narrowed the choices down to two. Hopefully by the time I hit "publish" I will have selected which manuscript I will choose and vigorously move forward...

Hmmm. I think I know.

In the mean time, while I get back to writing -- because, yep, you guessed it, blogging is not much different than Facebook, and Twitter, and YouTube, and the Internet -- it's part of the Fourth D. Blogging, although necessary, is a distraction from my actual writing -- why don't you check out some of the links below!

Look at the time. Way behind schedule. Got to run!

Phillip Tomasso

Pulse of Evil Book Trailer

Pulse of Evil For Sale (Just click on the book cover)

Other titles for sale for Kindle

The Molech Prophecy for sale on Nook/Paperback -- writing as Thomas Phillips