TJ Talks to TJ: A Totally Normal Author Interview

Greetings, friends, and thank you for joining us. My name is TJ, and today I’m going to be interviewing…*checks notes*…TJ.

TJ: Thank you for having me, TJ.

TJ: It’s my pleasure, TJ.

TJ: Do you think this format might end up being somewhat confusing and/or irritating for readers?

TJ: Most likely. Well, let’s begin! So, TJ, first of all, why don’t you tell us something incredibly fascinating about yourself. No pressure.

TJ: Uhh… Well, I was a three-time Scrabble champion in elementary school, and I used to be able to do a round-off back handspring without killing myself in the process. Is that fascinating?

TJ: Eh. Let’s move on. Tell us about your books.

TJ: Sure thing. My first book came out way back in 2007, and it’s a gay romance called Talking About Fungus because I didn’t listen to the repeated pleas of my writer friends and change the title to something that did not bring to mind venereal disease.

TJ: Good call on that one.

TJ: My second book, Following Grandpa Jess, came out in 2013 and involves no fungus of any kind. While it was marketed as a gay romance, it’s really more of a family story with a gay romance in the midst of it, and I find it far less cringey to look back on than TAF.

TJ: TAF being…

TJ: Talking About Venereal Disease.

TJ: Gotcha. Well, this is all very fascinating. Why don’t you tell us now about the projects you’re working on currently? Our reader(s) desperately want(s) to know more about them, I’m sure.

TJ: Well, the one I’ve been focusing on lately is Guardians, a YA LGBTQ+ fantasy/action novel in which queer teens fight to save the world from an invasion of dimension-hopping body snatchers. The book is actually in its final editing phase, though I’m sure I’ll wake up at 3 AM some night with the realization of a massive plot hole that will require me to deconstruct the entire story and build it back up again from scratch. For now, though, it’s pretty much finished – huzzah!

TJ: Huzzah indeed. And why do you think Guardians is worth our reader(s) caring about even the slightest tiny bit?

TJ: Well, it’s a pretty fun adventure, for one thing, and really one of my goals in writing it was to set a story in my hometown in Western Pennsylvania (one of the whitest, straightest places on Earth) and then fill it with queer people and people of color. So that is what I have done. :D

TJ: Well, it sounds like our reader(s) will have a gay old time reading it.

TJ: I hope they do, TJ. I hope they do.

TJ: And your other project, TJ?

TJ: My other project is Chosen, a queer fantasy epic I’ve been working on for the past 7,000,000 years [citation needed]. I’ve actually finished it a bunch of times and then scrapped it and started over, because I enjoy rolling boulders up and down hills for eternity, apparently.

TJ: Wonderfully obscure reference, thank you.

TJ: You’re welcome.

TJ: Well, I think we’ve just about run out of time, so why don’t you tell our reader(s) where they can find you on social media, buy your books, etc.

TJ: Well, if you want to buy my books, you can head over to the Books page and buy-buy-buy away, and if you want to find me on social media, I’m @TJBaerAuthor over on Twitter.

TJ: Glorious. Well, thank you so much for being here with us today, TJ.

TJ: I didn’t really have a choice in the matter, TJ, but you’re welcome, and thank you for having me.

TJ: Wonderful.

TJ: Indeed.

Site revamp, shiny new covers, and cats

So, if you’ve stopped by the site lately, you may have noticed that everything is completely different.

Yes. Hi. I did that. :D

It was time for a change, so I revamped the site entirely, making it easier to access my books, check out my blog, read the bad sci-fi of my youth, and (of course) learn more about my cats. (Because come on, we all know that’s the kind of content you’re really here for.)

I also, through the help of Fotor’s Book Cover Maker site, created some spiffed up covers for several of my projects, including a shiny new one for my 2013 short story, “Rain Would Come.”

And hey, did you know that you can go buy “Rain Would Come” right now on Amazon for the low-low price of $0.99? IMAGINE.

Anyway, if you feel so inclined, take a stroll around the new site, browse through my books, check out my works in progress, and learn about the Feline Management Team, a vital part of the T.J. Baer organization.

On Gender Identity and How To Be Cool

All right. Gender identity. Let’s rap.

So, there seems to be a lot of confusion out there about sex, gender, gender identity, etc., so I figured I would offer a quick primer for anyone in need of clarification. I’ll start out by saying that there’s a certain fluidity to all of this, and one person’s experience does not encompass all people’s experiences, and a general rule of thumb is just to take people at their word when they say they are this or that.

Example:

“I’m trans.” “Oh, okay, cool.”
“I’m non-binary.” “Oh, okay, cool.”
“My pronouns are “they/them.” “Oh, okay, cool.”
“I am a giraffe.” “I mean, you don’t look much like one, but you would probably know better than me, so okay, cool.”

See? Super easy.

But let’s get a little more in-depth here.

So, at some point in our illustrious history, it was decided that when it came to humans, there were only two boxes that could be checked. One was “male” and one was “female.” Which box you ticked depended solely on what body parts you had, and this was further expanded with the idea that said body parts also determined your interests, personality, mannerisms, and what kind of body wash scents you were allowed to enjoy.

For example:

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The CW’s Nancy Drew: Queer Ladies and Considerate Ghosts

So, full disclosure about me: I have been a Nancy Drew fan for a very, very long time. It was a big part of my formative years, and I’ve reread the books multiple times in my adult life and continue to enjoy them very much. So, naturally, when I heard that the network that brought us the insanity that is Riverdale was coming out with a dark Nancy Drew reboot, I was pretty sure it was going to be… Well. “Hot garbage” was the first term that came to mind, quite honestly.

This past Friday, however, I actually checked out said series, and I discovered to my great surprise that it is not garbage of any temperature. It is, in fact, a rather awesome and compelling show that I am now low-key obsessed with, because I binge-watched the entire series over on the CW site and endured endless prescription drug commercials in order to see how it all panned out.

And hoo boy, did it not disappoint. It’s a CW show, so you do of course have a few standards that had to be included: (a) characters making out while sexy and/or angsty pop songs play loudly in the background, (b) everyone in the cast being excessively and illogically attractive, and (c) teen heartthrobs from the ’90s now being cast as parents to these excessively and illogically attractive young folk.

But those things aside, the CW’s Nancy Drew is a freaking delight. The mystery is fascinating and multifaceted and actually turned out in a way I did not at all suspect (always a good thing), and what’s more, it actually made sense. The show does have its more Riverdale-esque bananas moments, but for the most part, it’s pretty grounded in the world it inhabits. What happens might be weird, but it fits the weirdness they’ve established for this world, and I’m down with that.

I also have to say that there is a queer element to the show that I was not expecting and was very much delighted by.

Anyway, I took some notes while watching the show, and I would now like to share those notes on the off chance that someone aside from myself may find them entertaining. I also must say that these notes of course include spoilers, so proceed with caution if you don’t wish to be spoiled.

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In which gay teens fight monsters

I’d hoped to get some writing done today, and shockingly, I did! :O

…but not on the project I was actually hoping to work on. Ah, well. :P I’d been hoping to add to my forever-WIP and gay fantasy epic (TM), Chosen, but instead I unearthed a long-ago begun story and added a few chapters to it.

Said story is tentatively entitled Guardians, and it’s a fun little YA story about teens fighting monsters and trying to stop the end of the world, because that plot hasn’t been done before.

The story, though, is surprisingly engaging, and I can say that because I started writing it long enough ago that it no longer feels like something I wrote. :P The main character, Alisha, is a kickass seventeen-year-old with frizzy hair and a talent for fighting monsters and keeping her narcissistic younger brother out of trouble. Her mother fought monsters back when she was a teenager but now is Retired, and her dad is a researcher who likes punning, Doctor Who, and annoying his children in the most loving way possible.

I have, of course, felt obliged to put as much gay into the story as possible, so Alisha’s older sister has a girlfriend, her brother’s love interest is an awesome trans girl, and Alisha has definite chemistry with nemesis and fellow teen monster-hunter, Belladonna.

Anyway, here’s a quick excerpt from a draft of a scene when Alisha visits Belladonna’s excessively nice house in search of info about this whole ‘end of the world’ thing:

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How could I sneak with this fine physique?

Greetings, friends. Greetings and hello and hello and also greetings.

I find myself with a bit of time to spare this evening, so I thought it was about time I posted an update. So to all those readers who have been weeping bitter tears into their pillows at night wondering when I would return, you may now rest easy. Your prayers have been answered.

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A scenario entirely unconnected to current events

Firefighters: So, we’ve been making some progress on putting out the fire, but as you can see, there’s still a lot of work left to do.

People: Oh, yeah, it looks so much better! Okay, you can stop now.

Firefighters: But…there’s…still fire?

People: Nah, I think we’re heading in the right direction. Just stop what you’re doing and we’re sure it’ll be fine. We’re going to go back inside now, k?

Firefighters: The building is on FIRE.

People: Yeah, but we’re tired of standing out here safely away from something that could kill us, so we think we’d rather just go back inside and get our lives back to normal.

Firefighters: THE BUILDING IS ON FIRE. You can’t go back to your normal lives when the whole place is burning down around you. And if it keeps burning, other buildings might catch on fire, too, and burn down the whole city.

People: This is America, dammit, and that means we have the right to a life of freedom in a burning building if that is what we choose! USA! USA! USA!

Firefighters: ….

SO YOU WANT TO BE A VEGAN… (Part 2: Calcium)

Hello, friends. You may remember me from such posts as SO YOU WANT TO BE A VEGAN… (Part 1) and Nutritiony Things I Have Learned # 1 (Protein). Or perhaps this is your first visit to my weird little blog, in which I case, welcome.

In today’s installment of SO YOU WANT TO BE A VEGAN, we’ll be looking at some common myths about veganism, because there are about 735,000 of them, and we should probably make a start on that. Today’s myth concerns calcium, and why these wacky vegans refuse to get it from cow’s milk like everybody else.

So whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or frowning at your screen with a piece of bacon hanging out of your mouth, venture below for more information on those wild plant-loving scamps, The Vegans. *cue ’80s-sitcom-style theme song* Continue reading

SO YOU WANT TO BE A VEGAN… (Part 1)

So, you want to be a vegan! Or, more likely, you don’t. Hey, that’s all right. Thassokay. No judgment here. We cool.

But even if you don’t want to be a vegan, maybe you have some questions or want to know a little bit about these mysterious kale-eating creatures, so hey, let’s start with a few basics. Continue reading