Weenie roasts and blogger recruitment

It’s a lovely sunny morning, I have nowhere to go and nothing I have to do (aside from housework, but that’s easy enough to ignore), and it’s just about time for my second cup of tea. Life is good.

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Well, except for that whole thing about how very soon our country will be controlled entirely by a bunch of rich white guys who are determined to block any legislation that might help people who are not (straight, Christian) rich white guys.

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In less soul-destroying news, the Chosen publishing process is moving along nicely. An artist has been commissioned to design the cover, and I’ve had a review copy of the book printed up so I can press my nose up to the pages and scent out any typos, errors, or gaping plot holes as of yet undiscovered during the writing and editing process.

This isn’t the official cover, but here’s the cover of the review copy:

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Ooooh, (stock photo) fire.

In related news, I’m currently looking for bloggers or fellow authors who would be interested in writing review blurbs for the book. If you’re interested (or know someone who might be), drop me an email at tjbaerwrites@gmail.com. I’ll send you a free electronic copy of the book, and your review blurb will be included here on this site (and also possibly on the front or back cover of the book).

In case you’re not sure what to write, might I suggest one of the following?

1. “LITERALLY THE BEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ OR WILL READ IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.”

2. “So good that Jon Stewart should immediately call up T.J. Baer and ask her to come on The Daily Show and talk about it.”

3. “I was really depressed about Republicans gaining control of the Senate, but reading this book made me feel like life had meaning again. Thank you, T.J.!”

Or something to that effect.

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Okay, not really. But any of the above will certainly get you a queen-sized helping of brownie points.

Self-publishing and the avoidance of cooties

As many of you already know, I’ve recently finished my final draft of Chosen, the first volume of an LGBT fantasy series I’ve been working on since I was a wee gel of fifteen. And while considering agents and publishers as of late, I’ve found myself rather seriously thinking about…

Self-publishing.

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I know, I know. But hear me out.

Now, I know that self-publishing sometimes (read: often) gets a bad rap, and it certainly does carry a “so you couldn’t get any REAL publisher to publish your book, then, eh?” stigma. But I think it’s important to remember that authors and publishers are generally working from vastly different motivations, the author’s motivation beingĀ I poured my heart and soul into this novel and I want to share it with other people, while the publisher’s motivation is more along the lines of sell books sell books sell books.

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Which isn’t a bad motivation, of course, when your livelihood (and ability to build that money shower you’ve been longing for) depends entirely on being able to turn authors’ sweat and tears into profit. But when it comes to preserving the author’s vision for the book and keeping the story in line with what the author’s always dreamed it would be, it’s much easier to push these things aside in favor of following well-established formulas for book-selling success.

Example: Both of my previously published novels have love stories in them, and as such, were categorized as “romances.” My second book in particular is not what I would categorize as a straight-up romance, as it’s more about family relationships, self-acceptance, and dealing with all manner of issues – but it does happen to have a nice squishy gay romance at the center of it.

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D’aww, squishy.

Because that “romance” tag was slapped onto it, I was suddenly expected to put in a bunch of additional sexual content, because that’s what fits in with the established idea of a “romance.” There is sex in the book, but it’s sparse and tasteful, there only when it advances the plot (wacky though that may sound). The main focus of the story just isn’t on sex.

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(Wonderful though sex of course is.)

In the end, I was able to hold true to my vision of the story and not put my characters through a pointless series of Olympics-level sexual encounters that did nothing to further the plot, but it wasn’t easy. I had to fight for the right to keep the book as I wanted it, because my vision of it didn’t match the cookie cutter formula for selling and marketing books.

And with Chosen, which is probably the single most important thing I’ve ever written, I guess I’m somewhat wary of putting it into any hands other than my own.

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I mean, other people’s hands could have cooties or something, amirite?

My reason for writing and publishing this book has nothing to do with money or fame (awesome though those things would be); it’s more about getting out a message I feel is important, and sharing these characters with people who might feel that same spark of connection towards them that I feel.

So that, my friends, is why I’m currently considering self-publishing. It involves a hell of a lot more work on my end, but if the end result is getting this book exactly as I want it, then I think it might just be worth it.

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For more on Chosen, head over to the brand new Chosen page, complete with a fancy new blurb and OOH, FIRE.

On my doings as of late.

Hey.

Hey, you.

Yeah, you.

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Now that that’s out of the way, on to business. Nearly a month has passed since my last update, and you may be asking yourself, “What has T.J. been doing all this time? Why did she leave us for so long? Does she not realize that her absence plunges us into a chill, unending darkness that never abates until she returns?”

Then again, you might not be asking yourself that at all. Either way, you’re getting an answer.

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So, what have I been doing as of late?

Many things, friends. Many things. I turned another year older, thus drawing me one step closer to becoming a crazy old cat lady. I started a new story, a Buffy-esque YA novel that I’m really enjoying writing. I dressed up as Mara Jade for Halloween, started taking a Japanese class for the first time in years, got a flu shot, voted, read a bunch of books, took on some new students, and discovered that my quality of life really suffers when it’s dark, cold, and miserable outside all the time.

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Who knew?

I also finished the fifth draft of Chosen (AKA, my LGBT fantasy epic), incorporating changes suggested by various folks who have been kind enough to read over the book thus far. And I think…I think…I think…!

I think it’s just about ready to go.

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Translation: Yay!

My next step is to get to work on my query letter, which I will happily admit is the most difficult, soul-crushing part of the whole writing/publishing process. Great, so you’ve sweated your guts out for the past several years writing a fantastic novel – now you have to condense everything that’s great about said novel into one short email and somehow convince an agent and/or publisher that it, unlike the other hundreds or thousands of novels they’ve received queries about today, is actually super awesome and worth reading.

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Yeaaaaaah.

But rather than focusing on that, I’ll focus on the fact that the book is finally almost ready to send out, because that’s pretty spiffy – particularly since I started the first version of this story when I was about fifteen, and I am now…considerably older than fifteen.

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Considerably.

Not much else to say, as I spent most of today in a rainy-day haze and am still having trouble getting my brain to do complex tasks like forming words or making coherent sentences. But I shall return at another time, I’m sure, and further assail you with gifs, sarcasm, and happy sparkling gayness.

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Until then, dear friends.