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.

In which Kaine searches for peanut butter.

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As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been working on the writing of Chosen for approximately all of recorded time – or, more accurately, fifteen or sixteen years, since I was a Dragonlance-obsessed teenager longing desperately to write my own fantasy opus. The story has gone through dozens of different incarnations, though always with Nicholas and Kaine (and their relationship, be it BFF or something more) at the heart of it.

This morning, friends, I came across a version of Chosen that I would very much like to share, as it has given me great amusement on this otherwise irritating morning.

I call it: Kaine Searches For Peanut Butter

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Okay, not really. But that’s the general gist of this two-page start to a story that never got off the ground. Rather than setting the story in an alternate fantasy world, Past Me decided to play around with the idea of Nicholas and Kaine living in the modern world. More specifically, in Chicago.

Here is the result:

Continue reading

In which my curse takes the weekend off.

First, some news: I’ve officially finished the second draft of Chosen!

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The Scene That Wouldn’t End finally gave in and ended today, and after that, it was a simple matter of making a few changes to the last chapter and then BAM, I had myself a finished draft. Only took fifteen years, to-ho-ho.

Now, of course, we enter into the editing phase, wherein I read through the book eight or nine thousand times making little edits (and sometimes big, annoying edits) in an attempt to make it Not Awful.

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Which should be fun.

Actual, totally real photograph of the vicious bee-monster that attacked me on Labor Day.

In non-writing-related news, you’ll be relieved to know that I have not yet perished from my bee-related wound, and in fact said wound is healing nicely (though still itches like the itchiest of itchy things).

The bee sting, unfortunately, was only the beginning of what I’ve been calling The Curse of September, as something terrible has befallen me every single day of September thus far.

Today, September 6th, has been suspiciously free of misfortune and/or bee attacks, making me wonder if (a) the curse has finally lifted, (b) the curse will strike when I least expect it, possibly at 11:59 PM, or (c) the curse has decided to take the weekends off so as not to get overworked.

More information on this as it becomes available.

As I head off to bed with hopes that no jet engines crash, Donnie Darko style, into my bedroom, I leave you with this gif of The Almost Hug from Merlin, because it never ceases to entertain me. And in my delicate, post-bee-trauma state, I need desperately to be entertained.

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/still blaming it on the bee venom

Stars. Can’t do it. Not today.

Labor Day has arrived, and as it’s rainy and miserable outside, I can’t possibly go out and do all the many dull and important errands I was planning to do today.

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So, yes, woe of woes, horror of horrors, I guess I have no choice but to just stay inside and write all day.

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I’ve hit a slight snag, however, in that I’m sleep-deprived and having trouble English-ing, so I’ve remedied that in the only way I can think of.

With cake.

This will result in a glorious sugar high that should last for approximately fifteen minutes, after which I’ll crash down to earth and spend the rest of the day in a haze of sugar withdrawal and regret.

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So, yeah, this should be a productive day.

In other news, the gods of art have gifted me with yet another lovely piece of Chosen artwork!

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This sketch, done by my very talented writer/artist friend Emily, is about as perfect an artistic rendering of Silas as I can imagine being done. She’s perfectly captured Silas’ bored rich girl attitude, and even got her hair and school uniform right. (When you spend your off hours terrorizing and attacking young magic users, it’s so important to have a manageable hairstyle. Emily understands this.)

Really, I’m so grateful to the folks who have put their artistic talents to the task of drawing my characters – not only has it brought me a lot of joy, but it’s also gotten me excited about this book again, which is a pretty spiffy place to be as an author.

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So, with the temporary power of cake, I’ll dive back into the writing/editing of Chosen and hopefully get The Scene That Doesn’t Want To End finished today. After which, all I’ll have to do is clean up some things in the last chapter, and then I’ll be done. DONE!

Until the next round of edits and the realization that there are several thousand things I need to change.

But for now, HUZZAH!

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[More on Chosen here. More on having your art featured on this blog here. And here’s Mark Hamill being awesome with his Jedi Beard here. <–One of these things is not like the others, but you should still click on it.]

Procrastination via blogging: take 387.

It’s Saturday again, which means I’m once again faced with a mountain of household chores that desperately need doing. So, hey, blog update!

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I’ve actually spent much of the morning in a somewhat productive manner, working on Chosen and finally making some progress on a scene I’ve been struggling with for about a week now. The problem with having two highly complex and complicated individuals as your main characters is that it’s pretty damned hard to get them to have a straightforward conversation with each other, but I think I’ve finally got them heading in the right direction. After said scene is finally finished, I can go back to the arduous task of reading through the finished book again and again to make sure everything makes sense and I haven’t accidentally created an utter piece of crap instead of a Grand Opus fifteen years in the making.

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No pressure, though.

bc-mrdefrin-brownhairI’ve also been realizing, more and more, just how desperately in love I am with Mr. Defrin, to the point that I’m pretty seriously considering writing a prequel from his point of view at some point in the future. I’d like to start when he’s relatively young, then take it all the way up to the events of Chosen, ‘cuz, damn, I adore him. And not just because I’ve cast Benedict Cumberbatch to play him in the Sure To Actually Happen movie adaptation of the book.

No, my love for Mr. Defrin is rooted in the fact that I both long to be like him and want someone like him in my life. He’s calm and patient, intelligent, has a good sense of humor, and cares for the people around him so deeply that he’s willing to make any sacrifice necessary to keep them safe. He’s a mentor, friend, and substitute father for Kaine, and while he makes mistakes from time to time, he always tries to do what’s right, and to protect the people around him. He’s just…*flutter-sigh* Ohhhh, Mr. Defrin. <3

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Er, anyway, though.

Moving on. I don’t actually have much else to say, as I think I used up my daily allotment of coherence during my writing session this morning. All I can think about now is finding something good to eat for lunch, and then maybe collapsing onto my bed and thinking about how great it would be if I could clean my apartment with the power of my mind.

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Use the Force, Luke. Those dishes aren’t going to wash themselves.

Until next time, friends.

Sunshine does strange things to the human mind.

Greetings, internet. I have returned! You may rejoice if you wish.

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Or not. It’s cool.

So, yes, as for the reasons behind my lengthy hiatus, I have no excuses except that Chicago has been experiencing an unusual stretch of gorgeous weather, and thus I’ve been somewhat distracted by strange feelings of optimism and delusions that the world may not be such an awful place after all. Amazing what a little sunshine can do.

I’ve also been working hard on Chosen, and have actually finished – finished, I say, FINISHED – the first draft of the book.

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And now, of course, I’m working hard on editing, adding new scenes, and in general trying to ensure that the novel I’ve been agonizing over since I was a wee gel of 15 does not, in fact, suck monstrously.

I’ve also made a rather significant change to the story, wherein main character Kaine and his love interest actually exchange words PRIOR to the last few chapters of the book. A radical notion, certainly, but one must take risks from time to time.

hunterparrish_sadnicholasSaid love interest is portrayed (in the highly unlikely dream cast of my mind) by Hunter Parrish, seen here looking angsty but very Nicholas-ish (albeit somewhat older than 16). I’m actually really enjoying having the chance to put him and Kaine together so much earlier in the story, as they have an interesting sort of chemistry. Kaine is sarcastic, defensive, and doesn’t bother much with this whole interacting-with-other-humans thing, whereas Nicholas seems to be normal and perfect and almost supernaturally well-adjusted. He has a devoted league of friends at school, he plays sports, he has two awesome, loving parents, and he’s just all-around the most irritatingly perfect person Kaine’s ever encountered. Kaine alternately hates him and longs to be him, and the really bizarre thing is that Nicholas genuinely seems to like him, and Kaine can’t quite figure out why. Of course, things in Nicholas Land aren’t nearly as perfect as they seem, which Kaine will eventually discover (drama drama drama).

Anyway, I’m working hard on getting the book finished, after which I’ll begin on my lofty goal of it becoming a massive hit and eventually leading to a movie deal and bags of money and Jon Stewart asking me to come on The Daily Show to discuss my awe-inspiring literary success.

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…it could happen.

In other news, I’ve finally watched Games of Thrones, which I have to admit is pretty damned compelling despite having given me borderline PTSD. (This due to the characters’ unfortunate tendency to misplace various body parts in the messiest and most disturbing ways possible.)

In any case, GoT has at least done the noble deed of bringing Thomas BrodieSangster to my attention.

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I’m determined to find a place for him somewhere in the Chosen series, because dammit, he’s awesome. So, People of the Earth, hear my vow: There shall be a role for this man in my series! Maybe Book II, maybe Book III, but somewhere in there, there will be a character he can play in the inevitable (and doubtless award-winning) screen adaptation. And at least I don’t have to worry about him getting too old for whatever role I may give him, as he seems to be permanently frozen at age 16. Most convenient.

Anyway. Lunchtime.

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To the refrigerator!

Spring! Or not.

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So, spring has finally come, meaning lovely sunny days, warm weather, flowers and birds and plants and happy, sparkling rainbows!

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Ha ha, just kidding. It’s actually miserable and cold and stupid, because it’s Chicago.

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But on the plus side, we do seem to be slowly moving in a spring-like direction, and I’m confident that I will, at some point before June, be able to walk outside without needing to wear my hat, scarf, and giant puffy coat of unsexy doom.

Anyway, on other topics, I’m still hard at work on Chosen, and in time not spent writing, I’ve been rereading books from my youth, watching episodes of The Moomins on YouTube (don’t  judge me >_>), and quietly freaking out over the somewhat precarious financial situation that occurs when all of one’s students go on vacation at the same time. *_*;

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So, with that in mind, I thought I would offer a friendly reminder to the internet at large that HEY, aside from being an author of books and short stories (which you can buy – did you know that? :O ), I’m also a freelance editor of novels, stories, essays, and anything else you may have that needs a critical eye run over it. (Not literally, as that would be messy.)

So yes, if you have anything you’d like edited or proofread, head on over to my Proofing Services page for more information. My rates are based on what you can afford, so don’t worry if you don’t have a huge budget.

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Hey, I’m a link to the Proofing Services page and you should click on me.

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Listen to the link. It loves you and it would never lie to you.

Anyway, on that note, I’d better get off the computer and get dressed, as it may harm my professional teachery image if I attempt to teach my lessons in my Snoopy pajamas.