Welcome to the wide crazy world of TJ Klune

As you can see, this is a blog (a blog, you say? You're like the only person in the world that has one!). Here are my promises to you: I promise to up date this as much as I can. I promise that at some point, you will most likely be offended. I promise you may suffer from the affliction the Klunatics know as Wookie Cry Face. I also promise to make this some place where you can see how my mind works.

You've been warned.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Advanced Review For Bear, Otter, and The Kid

As promised, below is an advanced review for my debut novel Bear, Otter, and the Kid.  D.W. Marchell, a fellow Dreamspinner author, was kind enough to read my story and wrote a very nice review (my first!).  I know that not all reviews will be as great as this, but I'm glad that I had this one as my first.  I'll release the final sneak peak tomorrow right here and Bear, Otter, and the Kid will be released 8.12.11.
When you read “Bear, Otter and the Kid”, you will have the great honor and privilege of meeting Derrick McKenna - you can call him “Bear” - and his younger brother Tyson - you can call him “Kid”.  But be forewarned!  This is a story full of betrayal, lost dreams, confusion and sacrifice.  But it is also a story about friendship, commitment, selflessness, being true to oneself and ultimately, a story full of love.
Anyone who knows me will understand why stories featuring family make it to the top of my very long TBR list.  And this touching story was no exception.  From the very first page, I was hooked.  Bear is seventeen, a few days away from graduating high school and looking forward to venturing out, on his own, into the world, away from home for the first time.  Life has not been terribly kind to Bear, but it has blessed him with a precocious little brother, Ty, who adores his older brother.
It is this dynamic that helps them survive when their mother - the only parent they have ever known - makes a decision that will see all of their lives changed forever.  Bear will have to sacrifice his own desires, Ty will learn that trust is a very fragile thing indeed and both brothers will forge an indestructible bond that will leave you positively breathless with its sincerity and beauty.
But Bear and the Kid are not completely alone.  With the help of a colorful and eclectic group of friends, Bear and Ty find themselves surrounded by love, friendship and a family of their own making.  There is Anne, Bear’s on-and-off-again girlfriend, Creed, Bear’s best friend since second grade, Mrs. Paquinn, the wonderfully warmhearted and insightful elderly neighbor who babysits the Kid, and - last but not least - there is also Oliver - you can call him “Otter” - who is Creed’s older brother.  Each of them has a story to tell, and you will find yourself falling in love with all of them as they try to make the perilous journey to becoming a family.
Of course, I’m not going to tell you what happens, but please believe me while I explain that you simply must read this story.  It will disarm you, infuriate you, beguile you and leave you utterly speechless.  There are moments of such tenderness that you will want to make sure to have a Kleenex or a shirt sleeve handy.  There are moments of such injustice that you will want to curse me for telling you to read this story.  And there are  moments of such good-natured hilarity that you will wonder, while you are laughing out loud, why you ever cursed me in the first place.  
“Bear, Otter and the Kid” is the debut novel for T.J. Klune and I know I will not be alone when I sing his praises for creating an unforgettable cast of characters who learn what it means to be part of a family.  I invite you all to join them as they discover that a family is not only made through blood, but also through laughter, through sweat and through tears.
D.W. Marchwell is the author of "An Earlier Heaven", "Good to Know", "Sins of the Father", "Falling" and it's upcoming sequel "When Memory Fails" to be released from Dreamspinner Press on 8.5.11.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Cover Art Of Bear, Otter, and the Kid.

First, the sketch:
I absolutely loved it.  Even without the color, I saw it exactly for what it was supposed to be. 

THEN came color:
My god, it's simply beautiful.  All the credit, of course, goes to Paul Richmond.  That man is a genius.  The detail is amazing.  It's really everything I could have ever have hoped for from my first cover.  Only a couple of more weeks!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pre-Release Jitters, My First Interview & First Review: Or, How I’m Trying To Not Sound Like a Douche Bag

Bear, Otter, & the Kid comes out in just under three weeks, 8/12/11, and there’s moments that I wonder if I’ve gotten in over my head.

When I set out do write this, I was 26 years old, bright eyed and bushy-tailed and I’d gotten !!!An Idea!!! in my head.  Fellow authors can relate: it’s when you can almost see the entire outline and plot in your head.  You think, Why didn’t I think of that before? and Ooooo, what if THIS happens?  I’d attempted to write a novel before at the tender age of 22 and by the time I’d gotten to page six hundred (!!!), I realized that I hated everyone in it.  It was so fucking trite and condescending that it made me mad.  I thought about just finishing it (it being a look at high school students from a realistic perspective—realistic it wasn’t—everyone did piles and piles of cocaine) by having an asteroid hit this made up town and killing all my characters.  There was a certain sense of savage glee I had when I started to do just that, but eventually I stopped and never opened it again.  I’d always been told I had an ear for dialogue, that people expected to see my name on the front cover of a novel some day, (that mythical, magical time of Some Day).  That original novel was bad.  Like really, really bad.

So I got scared (Maybe I am bad at this, I thought.  Maybe people were just being nice when they complimented me on my writing, and on the inside they were rolling their eyes.) and didn’t write anything for a while.  But my mind could never stop its chatter and every now and then something would raise its head and say “Hey, what about me?”  But it would never pan out.

But then the Kid came along and wouldn’t shut up.  Like at all.  I’d be at work and I’d hear his humor and wonderful bluntness in my head and realize four hours had passed with me doing nothing but staring slack-jawed at my work computer.  And then I began to plan.  He would be nine years old!  And smart as fuck!  And he would be a vegetarian! (But not a Vegan; I had to draw the line somewhere).  And so I started out again, this time not wanting to write the Great American Novel, but instead to write a story that while not perfect, I think turned our pretty good.  And wouldn’t you know, so did someone else.  And now it’ll be published and people will get to meet my three boys and their awesome little family.

And that scares the royal crap out of me.

Did I write this book to get universal praise? (of course not, I don’t think that’s possible—but wouldn’t it be nice?)  Did I write this book to sell a bajillion copies and get rich and famous and then have it made into a movie that’ll win Academy Awards? (seriously, no fuckin’ way, but that would be cool.)

I wrote this book to prove to myself that I could.  The fact that it was accepted for publication was icing on the cake.  The people at Dreamspinner have been totally rad about this whole thing, taking a chance with an untested writer who didn’t know what a Beta reader was (oh boy, do I now, though—seriously: you all should have seen how rough my originally submitted manuscript was; it’s embarrassing to think about) or apparently the difference between “then” and “than”.  But they saw through all the grossness and it’s been polished into something that still amazes me even now.

How will others feel?  I could tell you I don’t care, but that would be a lie.  Of course I care.  This is my first, my baby, and I’m sending it out into the world.  How much will it sell?  I could tell you that it doesn’t matter, that as long as one person bought it, that would be fine with me, but that’s bullshit.  I want a lot of people to buy it (and not just people I know, but thanks, Mom, for saying you’ll buy it in paperback AND eBook, even though you don’t even know what an eBook is).

What about now?

The lovely D. W. Marchwell (author of Good To Know, Falling and its upcoming sequel When Memory Fails) humbled me greatly when he told me that he’d gotten ahold of the manuscript from Dreamspinner and had written a review on it that’ll be posted here and on his website within a few days.   Let’s just say he was extraordinarily kind in his review and it eased me slightly to see that what I was trying to say in my novel hadn’t gotten lost in translation.

As of yesterday, the equally lovely SJD Peterson (author of Lorcan’s Desire) will be doing my first interview on her blog, set to be posted on 8/11, the day before BOATK is released (you like how I shortened that?  It kind of reminds me of NKOTB, and all the awesomeness that comes with that.  And you want to know how I know I’m gay?  I just posted the abbreviated form of New Kids On The Block and called it “awesome.”)  She sent me the list of questions to answer and I was excited… and then I froze.  Oh my God, what if I come across sounding like a whining douche bag?  What if people hate the interview and that makes them not want to buy the book?  So of course I didn’t sleep last night.  And now I’m tired and cranky and the butterflies in my stomach have turned to Pterodactyls.  But it is,of course, having only to do with my own issues, none of Ms. Peterson’s thoughtful questions. 

So I gotta just do it, right?  I’m answering the questions as truthfully as I can, realizing that be changing an answer to have it sound like what someone would want hear is just a bad idea.  I’m not one for sugar coating.  So for better or worse, Bear, Otter, & the Kid will be out in a few weeks and it’ll either fly or crash and burn.  People will either like it or hate it.  But, in the end, I realize I wrote it for me. 

And I think that’s okay.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The official song for Bear, Otter, and the Kid

As I teased last week, the local Tucson band Dash Pocket has allowed me to use the WONDERFUL song "Rain" to promote the release of Bear, Otter, and the Kid which will be released on 8/12/11.  This song is fucking gorgeous and seriously captures everything and more that I want people to take away from my debut novel. Click the link to listen to it on Reverbnation at the top of my blog.  I've posted the lyrics at the end of this post.  The player is on top of the screen, it takes a second or two to kick in.  This song and a few others are available for download free of charge.  If you're a Tucson local, Dash Pocket will be performing Saturday 7/23/11 at Nimbus They are also on Facebook to follow.  I hope you all love it as much as I do!


Rain By Dash Pocket


I woke up late last night
To the sound of falling rain
And as I stumbled for the light
To my lips your name came

For a moment I stood still
And let the raindrops fall
I guess I lost my free will
But was it ever free at all

And now I don’t know why
I always feel this way
Any time it rains

Now the moments roll on by
Like the water down my walls
Their just teardrops from the sky
Blaming gravity for the fall

But with gravity there is no shame
Just the constant pull of the Earth
There is no one there to take the blame
Or left to doubt there self-worth

And now I don’t know why
I always feel this way
Any time it rains

I woke up late last night
To the sound of my own pain
And as I stumbled for the light
To my lips your name came

For a moment I stood still
And let the teardrops fall
I guess I lost my free will
But was it ever free at all

And now I don’t know why
I always feel this way
Any time it rains. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bear, Otter, and the Kid Sneak Peak Part II

Here we are, guys and gals: one month from today, Bear, Otter, and the Kid, will be released by Dreamspinner Press.  I can't tell you how excited I am for people to meet my three boys.  The first peak into the book is posted in the notes section on my FB profile (in addition to the blurb), showing the relationship between Bear and his younger brother the Kid.  Here, we meet Bear and Otter.

Otter has been gone for three years and suddenly returns out of the blue, throwing Bear's well ordered world into chaos.  Bear still has a lot of anger at what he considered to be Otter's abandonment, and doesn't know what it means now that Otter is back.  Let me know what you think!  I'll post a final preview on 8/1/11.  Enjoy.
     It's raining harder now. I don’t say anything when I get back into the car, and I hope that Otter doesn’t want to talk, either. Most people don’t realize that it’s nice to not talk every now and then. Talking makes things real.  Talking puts things in the forefront. Talking is a waste of time. Nothing ever gets solved by talking about it. People speak too much and regret what they say, but if you don’t speak at all, you can’t feel like a jackass later.
     I glance over at Otter out of the corner of my eye. His face is unreadable from what I can see, and that’s only when a street lamp overhead passes by and flashes through the window. I think that maybe Anna can see things that I can’t. She’s kind of cool like that, having insights into people that I never have. Yeah, I give her shit about it, telling her she’s prying where she’s not wanted, telling her that she’s projecting, but usually she’s right. I sigh and look back out the window.
     “What?” Otter asks.
     “What what?” I say.
     “It sounded like you just said something.”
     “I didn’t.”
     It’s quiet a little bit longer before, “So you and Anna still, huh?”
     “Me and Anna,” I say.
     “You guys have been together for a long time.”
     “I guess. Off and on.” 5… 4… 3… 2… 1….
     “So how’re you holding up, Bear?”
     It’s inevitable. People always ask me this like I am going to break. Like I’m going to fall down and never get up. I wish people weren’t so predictable. I wish Otter wasn’t so predictable.
     “Oh.” A minute passes. Then, “Well, you seem to be doing well. And Ty, man, the Kid seems to be getting bigger all the time.”
     “People change. That’s what happens when you disappear for a while,” I think, then bunch my fists as I realize I said it out loud. Shit.
     “Disappear?” he asks, sounding genuinely surprised.
     “Forget it.”
     “What do you mean, forget it? You can’t say something like that and expect the conversation just to be over because you say it is, Bear.” I can hear him gritting his teeth and I think it’s because he’s mad. Good. Let him be mad.
     “Yes, I can,” I retort, hating how I sound.
     Another minute passes. Rain on the roof beating a song.
     I hear Otter snort and shake his head. “I didn’t disappear, Derrick. You knew where I was.”
     At that moment, I hate him. Using my name like that, like he’s talking down to me, like he’s better than me, like he’s talking to a child. That’s something my mom’s infinite string of boyfriends use to do. I was never
Bear to them, not that I wanted to be. But the way they said it, that knowledge in their eyes, grinning at me when my mom wasn’t looking.  Always with the same thought: Yeah, I’m here with her. What are you going to do about it? Stay home and take care of your brother like you’re supposed to.
     “You left, Oliver,” I snap at him. “Call it whatever the fuck you want, but you left.”

Monday, July 11, 2011

It has begun!!

Would ya look at that?  I'm not computer idiotic after all!  I was even able to get this go over to Facebook. (don't look at me with such sarcastic awe--if you knew me, you'd know how difficult that was.)(and I had help--thanks Michele).

So here's the deal.  My first novel Bear, Otter, and the Kid will be published on 8/12/11 by Dreamspinner Press.  It's a gay dramedy that features misanthropic seagulls, jumping castles, a birthday party that does not end up on To Catch a Predator, the ocean, bad poetry, and the smartest nine year old vegetarian eco-terrorist in training.  It's also a love story between two guys who didn't think they would ever see each other again.  Here's the official blurb:

Three years ago, Bear McKenna’s mother took off for parts unknown with her new boyfriend, leaving Bear to raise his six-year-old brother Tyson, aka the Kid. Somehow they’ve muddled through, but since he’s totally devoted to the Kid, Bear isn’t actually doing much living—with a few exceptions, he’s retreated from the world, and he’s mostly okay with that. Okay that is, until Otter comes home.

Otter is Bear’s best friend’s older brother, and as they’ve done for their whole lives, Bear and Otter crash and collide in ways neither expect. This time, though, there’s nowhere to run from old feelings that threaten to rise. Bear still believes his place is as the Kid’s guardian, but he can’t help thinking there could be something more for him in the world... something or someone.

It's my baby, my first, and I'm excited for the world to see it.  Oh, and I hope you buy it. =) Once I have the cover, I'll post it here for all to see. 

Questions? Comments? Concerns?  We'll figure it out somehow.