In which there are both questions and answers (!)

Welcome, friends, to the first installment of Ask Me Anything, a terribly exciting series in which readers are invited to (wait for it) ask me anything. Whee!

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Without further ado, let’s get to the first question:

Question 1: What are your favorite places to visit in Chicago, and why? -Vicky

Well, Vicky, that’s a fine question, and one I will now do my best to answer. (Because if I don’t, this will be a rather short and disappointing first installment of Ask Me Anything.)

To those who’ve never been, Chicago is a bustling metropolis of ice, snow, and people who for some reason view putting ketchup on a hot dog as one step below killing puppies on The Great List O’ Unforgivable Sins.

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Mm, sin-a-licious.

With that said, however, Chicago does have many places of varying degrees of awesomeness, several of which I’ve had the occasion to visit.

So, which are my favorites?

Well, I’m partial to Millennium Park, which has a lovely garden, lots of places to sit, grass and trees and other naturey things, and free classical concerts in the summertime.

Of course, it also has these nightmare-fueling things:

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*cue screaming*

But if you ignore the giant freaky heads sticking out of the ground (and don’t imagine their eyes slowly opening and shooting lasers at you a’la The Neverending Story), the park is a pretty nice place in which to spend some time.

Other places I enjoy: Teavana in Water Tower Place (for the free tea samples and monkey-picked oolong [those monkeys are some great pickers]), the bridge over the Chicago River at Michigan and Wacker (‘cuz it’s perty), and the Moroccan restaurant near the Irving Park Blue Line Station (because delicious).

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Next question!

Question Two: I would like to know what you would do if Benedict Cumberbatch started talking (in public or to you directly) about how much he loved one of your books. -Jamie L.

What would I do, dear Jamie?

Well, I would give a polite smile, offer my gratitude to him in a most dignified way, and then very calmly

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Hopefully that answers your question. <3

If you’ve got a question you’re dying to have me answer, head over to my Contact page and make your seemingly impossible dream a reality. I’ll just be sitting here, staring at the screen like a hopeful puppy and awaiting the inevitable barrage of questions.

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In which the dreadful consequences are revealed

It would seem that my six-hour journey yesterday was not without consequences.

Yes. For you see, the sad truth of the matter is…

I’m sick.

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On the plus side, at the moment it’s just a bit of a sore throat plus a general overwhelming feeling of you’re sick you’re sick you’re sick just in case you forgot for a minute HEY you’re sick…but as I just took three sick days last week due to a stubborn bastard of a migraine, this is less than good.

Teaching, alas, is one of those professions where the ability to speak is somewhat integral, and in my current state, I can only talk for three or four minutes before my throat turns into a gritty stretch of desert highway and I suddenly start sounding like a pack-a-day blues singer on his death bed.

In addition, being self-employed, I’m perpetually only one paycheck away from financial ruin, particularly around the holidays. So, naturally, my body decided that now would be a hilarious time to come down with a nasty cold, because my body is kind of an asshole sometimes.

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Seen above: My body, being an asshole. Or Vader-somebody. I’m always getting those two mixed up.

On the plus side, I had the whole day today to rest and recuperate, so perhaps a Glorious Miracle will occur and I’ll wake up tomorrow 100% healed, HALLELUJAH!

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Or, more likely, I’ll wake up tomorrow and still feel like death, but I shall keep an optimistic attitude and trust in the power of positivity – as well as the gallons of Emergen-C I’ve been drowning myself in since my symptoms began this morning.

Think fondly of me, my friends, and should you have any spare healing vibes, do send them in my direction. If anyone needs me, I’ll be wrapped up in a sweaty cocoon of blankets, watching I Love Lucy and dreaming of a day when I no longer feel crappy, world peace is achieved, no one goes hungry, universal equality is the way of things, and each and every one of you goes and likes my Facebook page.

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For more on why doing so is in your best interest, check here. And then go like my Facebook page, because why not?

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Why not indeed.

/questions for the ages

In which I meet the Nostalgia Critic, and it is good.

Today, after a journey so long and arduous that I had to resist the urge to toss a ring into Mount Doom at the end of it, I had the chance to meet one of my internet celebrity heroes, Doug Walker, AKA the Nostalgia Critic / That Guy With The Glasses!

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The event, held at a Barnes & Noble in Oak Brook, was a group discussion about both great and terrible Christmas movies, and ranged from talk of A Christmas Story to It’s a Wonderful Life to various obscure (and sometimes gloriously insane) holiday classics.

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Doug was joined at the event by his equally hilarious brother, Rob, who some may also know as the actor behind that unforgettable holiday icon, Santa Christ.

During the event, folks in the audience were able to raise their hands and talk about their favorite or least favorite holiday movies, with frequent bantering commentary from the Bros. Walker. I did actually raise my hand at one point, though I’m sure I would’ve collapsed into a twitching pile of jelly had I actually been called upon to speak.

I was nervous enough just going up to talk to Doug and Rob at the meet and greet after the event, which saddens me, since I endeavor to be one of those people who encounters celebrities and responds with, Oh, hey. You’re awesome and somewhat famous, but that doesn’t intimidate me in the least. Here is some witty banter. ‘Kay, see ya.

Instead, I believe my terribly articulate and original lines were, “I feel like I know you, since I’ve been watching your videos for so long,” and then, “Can I trouble you for a photo?”

Hilaaaaaaaaaaarious.

But I got a picture, I got to shake hands with Doug and Rob, and I even walked away with a signed photo of that holiest and beardiest of pancake-lovers,  Santa Christ (with Nostalgia Critic lurking in the background):

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Woo, free pancakes!

So, yes, despite having spent a whopping six hours on public transportation today, I have to say, it feels like a day well spent. <3

In completely unrelated (but important) news, HEY, don’t forget to like my Facebook page for a chance to win a signed, advance reader copy of my upcoming fantasy novel, Chosen!

…good God, there’s not a single gif in this entire post.

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Muuuuch better.

For more on Doug, Rob, and the Nostalgia Critic, check out thatguywiththeglasses.com/, or The League of Super Critics on YouTube.

Edit: It seems That Guy With The Glasses has moved to channelawesome.com – head over there for more hilarity and (of course) awesomeness.

A glorious announcement and a chance to bombard my inbox with awkward questions

Friends, I have some truly glorious news. I have accomplished something today that I never dreamed possible, something that I feel is the very pinnacle of human achievement.

I HAVE FINISHED ALL OF MY CHRISTMAS SHOPPING.

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My Christmas shopping style, it should be noted, generally involves a frenzied rush through the shops two days before Christmas, followed by a sleepless night of wrapping and papercuts and salty holiday tears.

But this year, THIS YEAR, I’ve actually managed to get things done semi-ahead of time, and even spread out my gift-buying so as to avoid my entire bank account being sucked into a black hole at the end of December.

Of course, I’ve still ended up broke, but at least I can take comfort in the fact that I would’ve been even more desperately broke had I not spaced out my holiday shopping throughout the months of October, November, and December.

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It’s the little victories.

Anyway. Despite my aforementioned impoverished status, I allowed myself two small Christmas purchases for myself – namely, season 5 of I Love Lucy and a massively dorky Snoopy shirt which I shall wear with pride until I inevitably spill something on it.

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Yeah, you wish you were cool like me.

In other news, in case you missed it, you can enter to win a signed, advanced reader copy of my upcoming LGBT fantasy novel, Chosen! Wow! Amazing! Stupendous! And other exclamatory words! Just head over to my official author page on Facebook and click “like,” and BAM, you’re entered.

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http://www.facebook.com/tjbaerofficial/

And really, what better way to celebrate the holiday season than by showering your love upon my Facebook page?

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…okay, there are literally thousands of better ways to celebrate, but will any of them potentially win you a copy of a book so glorious that even I, the author herself, cannot look upon it without being momentarily blinded by its sheer, dazzling brilliance?

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Ooooh. Dazzling.

I’m also pleased to announce that I’ve done a few more site renovations. The Books page has been spiffed up (you can now click on the book covers to go to each book’s individual page), and the main Chosen page now has some extra goodies on it as well.

Lastly, an important announcement!

I’m going to be doing a new segment on this blog called Ask Me Anything, which may be the least creative title in the long, sad history of uncreative titles. But it does at least give you a good idea of the general idea of the thing, which is that readers can use this opportunity to ask me questions, whether they be about writing, my books, or my opinions on politics, religion, or cheese. (Important note: I am lactose intolerant.)

So, head on over to my Contact page and send me your questions – I’ll answer them here on the blog (and link to your site as well, should you like me to do so). If you’d like to remain anonymous, that’s also completely fine, provided you agree to wear a mysterious hat and trenchcoat when sending me your questions.

SO. In conclusion. Hey, ask me some questions!

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Win a signed copy of Chosen, Book I

Hey, whoa, it’s giveaway time!

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The prize: A signed, advance reader copy of my upcoming LGBT fantasy novel, Chosen, Book I: The Hayel.

How To Enter: Like my Facebook page.

And? And…that’s it! Just like my Facebook page, and you’re automatically entered.

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And if you’ve already liked my page, first of all, congratulate yourself for being awesome, and then sit back and relax, because you’re already entered to win.

More on Chosen here:

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CHOSEN: BOOK I

The contest will run for a week or two, at which point I’ll randomly select a winner from those who’ve proven their unquestionable good taste by liking me on Facebook. I’ll post the announcement on Facebook and here on the blog so all may delight in your victory (and loathe your astounding good fortune).

atla_sokka_library!FLY NOW TO FACEBOOK, MY FRIENDS! FLY!

/yep, still sleep-deprived

Chosen cover reveal!

Despite my lingering headache (and growing certainty that I really shouldn’t have eaten that extra piece of chocolate), I’m pleased to offer you all a first glimpse of the cover of Chosen!

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Long-time readers (and psychics) will recognize Chosen as the LGBT fantasy series I’ve mentioned approximately 75,000 times since starting this blog, and others will not recognize it at all, because the world is a sad, sad place where many people don’t yet know the intimate details of my writing life.

In any case, the first book in the series will be called The Hayel (pronounced hī-yel’), which is a deep and meaningful title that will only have deep meaning if you actually read the book.  Funny how that works.

The full cover, including the back and spine:

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(click for larger version)

The cover art was done by a talented artist named Steven James Catizone, who created six or seven different versions of Kaine standing there holding blue fire – and now has to deal with the fact that the author (read: me) has chosen to use the very first draft version, heartlessly casting aside all the hard work that went into the others.

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Authors are such bastards.

By the way, I’m still looking for bloggers, authors, or book reviewers interested in writing review blurbs for Chosen, so if you are any of the above (or know someone who is), send me a line at tjbaerwrites@gmail.com. Or if you just want to say “hi,” that’s cool, too.

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One last bit of news: I’ve spiffed up the site a bit, changing the banner and the layout so as to give it a slightly more professional, less beige appearance:

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Also, it grieves me to inform you all that the weird little apple in the upper left corner of the page has gone, vanishing back into the fruity ether from whence he came.

craftytheme_apple This guy.

He shall be missed. <3

Sleep deprivation, take #578093248234

Massively sleep-deprived, wheeeee!

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Second night in a row that I’ve been kept awake by a nasty headache, then awakened later when Benny decided to practice his feline yodeling in the wee hours of the morning.

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On the plus side, being up early means I have a nice long period of time in which to get over my headache before work, so…that’s good, right? RIGHT?

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It does, Arthur. It really does.

In less obnoxious news, the work on getting Chosen publish-ready is moving along nicely. The cover of the book is nearly done, which means that there’ll be a terribly exciting Cover Reveal post at some point in the future, because what’s the point of having a cover if you can’t do a terribly exciting cover reveal post?

In other-other news, due to the unfortunate demise of my laptop, I’m currently in possession of a Shiny New Laptop and – due to said laptop not having anywhere for me to plug in my modem – a similarly shiny and new router. Which means that, for the first time in my impoverished teacher/writer life, I am in possession of WiFi, and can thus access the internet ANYWHERE IN MY APARTMENT.

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At the table by the windows? INTERNET. On my bed? INTERNET. Perched on top of the refrigerator for some reason? INTERNET.

Amazing.

(I realize that everyone else has had wifi for approximately six thousand years, but I shall bask in the shiny newness of it nonetheless.)

Anyway. Not much else going on. Thanksgiving was lovely and taught me the  valuable life lesson that giblets are pretty freaking gross. Also, ya know, love and family and gratitude and such, but man, those giblets.

Anyway, as I seem to be losing my tenuous grip on coherence, let me bid you adieu for now, hopefully to return at a later time when I’m less sleep-deprived (or have a bit more caffeine in my system).

Best wishes to all for a non-sucky day~~~!

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