Books, books, books!

Because I apparently don’t have enough to do with all my other projects, I also recently started work on a vegan cookbook, this one designed to highlight (a) how very bad I am at vegan cooking and (b) how you can potentially avoid my mistakes. The idea hit me while I was in the shower, as many (sometimes questionable) ideas do, and I’ve been having a stupid amount of fun with it ever since. Thus far, the cookbook includes Sad and Soggy Sushi, Breaded Cauliflower of Awesomeness, and even a small cat interlude wherein Benny and Darla disclose their culinary favorites (Benny: cat food; Darla: shredded paper).

In other book-related news, the Amazon Kindle Store has finally decided to stop waging war against my ambitions, because the print version of Talking About Fungus has been approved and is up for sale! Hurrah~!

Now, if you’re going to read one of my novels, I highly recommend the second, Following Grandpa Jess, for its greater maturity, less embarrassing sex scenes, and just general better writing, but TAF definitely still holds a fond place in my heart. It’s a good young person’s book, in any case, which I am just not anymore, so…yeah. Keep that in mind, I suppose. :P

Click here to check it out on Amazon.

As a reminder, you can still buy the ebook of Talking About Fungus here for $0.99.

Annnnd now I’d better go get ready for work before I lose the opportunity to shower. Until next time, friends~~~!

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 being 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.

Which is all about fungus.

Good news, fungus fans! After a lengthy wait of approximately five thousand years, the print version of Talking About Fungus – now with a spiffy new cover that actually relates to the book – is now available!

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It’s currently available on Amazon’s “Createspace” site, and will be up on the Amazon main page within, if the legends be true, 3-5 business days.

And if that’s still not enough fungus for you, the T.J. Baer Shop (est. Yesterday, 2014) now carries a Talking About Fungus T-shirt! WOW! What an unexpected merchandise tie-in! And how convenient for those ardent fans whose deepest desire is to have my poorly drawn doodles on their chests for all the world to see!
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http://www.cafepress.com/tjbaershop

Get all your TAF stuff now while supplies last! (Which will probably be quite a long time, actually, so it might be all right to finish what you’re doing before buying your book(s) and/or T-shirt(s). But I wouldn’t wait much longer than that, just to be on the safest of safe sides.)

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In other news, my Chosen beta-readers (a very official word meaning “friends who have been pressured into reading my lengthy LGBT fantasy epic and giving me some feedback on it”) are beta-reading, and I’m doing a great deal of editing and reading and reading and editing.

And, contrary to every natural impulse in my body, cleaning.

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Why, you may ask, would anyone with a comfortable chair and internet access subject themselves to something as miserable as cleaning? Well, my mother is coming for a visit this week, and that means that I have to extricate myself from my usual life of squalor and offer the illusion that I live in an apartment that occasionally gets cleaned.

This evening’s To Do List will involve a great deal of dusting, sweeping, and scrubbing of gunk out of horrifying places, but hopefully by the end of it, I’ll have created an environment that I won’t be ashamed to let my mother set foot in.

And, of course, as soon as she leaves, I’ll likely lapse back into my usual disgraceful and dusty existence, but for a few golden, glorious days, I shall live in a world of CLEAN.

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And now, I shall go back to asking that age-old question, “What is this stuff in the bottom of the sink, and can I destroy it before it destroys me with its probably-highly-toxic stench?”

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I’m off to find out. Boo-yah.

Art!

I’m pleased to announce that the first round of Chosen artwork has arrived! And…okay, most of it is my own and thus is imbued with a certain lack of what one might call “artistic talent,” but meh, details.

So, yes! ART! (Or whatever we’re calling it.)

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First up, we have a pencil sketch of Silas Phelps, the sweet-faced bully whose hobbies are being rich, coming to class late, and beating the crap out of Kaine. Lovely girl, really.

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Next is Elisabeth Defrin, Mr. Defrin’s wife and Nicholas’ mother. Sweet and quirky, with a (mostly) sunny outlook and a rather serious addiction to tea, Elisabeth looks a lot like Amanda Abbington (or would if I could draw her properly) primarily because I was watching an unhealthy amount of Sherlock when I was writing her scenes.

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Next, a sketch of Nicholas and Kaine when they’re a bit older. Stubble added because they looked like girls otherwise. Pretty, pretty girls.

And finally, the pièce de résistance:

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A fun, colorful artwork of Mr. Defrin, Nicholas, and Kaine, done by MarcoEmma over on deviantart.  This picture has brought me a lot of joy, I have to say. For a story that’s somewhat dark, having a picture like this of three of the main characters is pretty awesome. Thanks, MarcoEmma!

In related news, I’m still looking for artists who’d like to have a go at drawing some of the Chosen characters. If you or anyone you know is familiar with moving a pencil over a page and afterwards discovering that a picture has appeared, let me know. For more information, head back to that long-ago entry I posted two days ago: https://tjbaer.wordpress.com/2014/08/28/looking-for-artists/

And for more on Chosen – including my Absolutely Sure To Happen movie dream cast – head over to this post: https://tjbaer.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/chosen-stuff-and-more-stuff/

And now, since my upstairs neighbor woke me up at 4:00 in the morning with her drunken singing and stomping around, I’m going to go collapse face-down on my bed and not get up until the sun is shining again.

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Pleasant dreams, friends. <3

Reasonably priced fungus for all!

Incidentally: You may recall how I mentioned in June that my first novel, the curiously named and non-mushroom-related Talking About Fungus, was going to be available for the low-low Pride Month price of $0.99. Well, why celebrate Pride for only one month? Thus, I’m going to keep the Kindle Edition of TAF at this Super Awesome Amazing Did You Buy It Yet and If Not Why Not Price for the foreseeable future. Hurrah!

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Talking About Fungus (Kindle Edition) – $0.99

I’m also working on making a print edition of TAF available with the spiffy new cover, so look out for that in the coming days/weeks/months/however long it takes me to stop being lazy and edit the bloody thing.

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And now to go take a shower. …with seagulls.

Until next time.

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!

TAF on A Blog Abroad

So, the supremely awesome Rebecca B. has made me a very happy author by pimping my book on her blog, “A Blog Abroad.”

A Blog Abroad | Book Pimping: Talking About Fungus <–Here.

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So, yes, this pleases me.

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http://www.ablogabroad.com/

If you’re into K-Pop, sarcasm, or good, intelligent writing on a number of topics, you should absolutely check out the rest of her blog. And click on some ads while you’re there, so she can get paid. Because getting paid is pretty great.

Also, buy my book.

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