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.

Because procrastination isn’t just for weekends.

Good morning, friends. I have only a limited time between finishing breakfast and needing to be on my way out the door, so naturally I’ve chosen to use this time to write a blog entry. Is this a good idea?

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Yeah, probably not. Let’s do it anyway.

So, as it happens, I don’t actually have much to say, which I admit may make writing a post somewhat challenging. I’ve never let that stop me before, however, and today shall be no different…!

So. Yeah. Stuff.

1. Still working on the editing and rereading of Chosen. It’s going well, though I do find myself devising a Chosen Drinking Game as I go through it. For example, if Kaine frowns or scowls, take a drink. If Mr. Defrin puts his hand reassuringly on someone’s shoulder, take a drink. If Silas is a little shit, take a drink. Etc. Helps pass the time (and increases bathroom breaks by approximately 500 percent).

2. The weather in Chicago has finally decided to cooperate and have a go at not being awful and depressing, which I’m enjoying.

3. Preparations for my mother’s visit have come to a bit of a standstill, and predictably, I’m leaving most of what needs to be done until the morning before I pick her up at the airport (i.e., tomorrow). Why deal with cleaning and tidying and prepping when Future Me can take care of that in a stress-filled tornado in the wee hours of morning?

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And, on that note, I’d better be off. Time to get ready for another day of teaching folks to speak Amurican. ‘Til next time, y’all.

 

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.

In which tea is necessary (on your shirt).

You know what’s absolutely necessary?

tea

Tea.

And you know who needs to know that?

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Everyone.

“But T.J.,” you may say. “I am but one person. How can I possibly spread the holy word of tea unto the ignorant masses all by myself?”

Well, random internet person, I am here today to answer just that question.

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Visitors with Sherlock-levels of observation may have noticed that there’s a new tab at the top of the site now, with the mysterious moniker of “Store.” Whatever could that mean?

Allow me to enlighten you. Today, I’m pleased to announce the official opening of the T.J. Baer Shop over on CafePress, for all your merchandise-related-to-my-books needs!

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http://www.cafepress.com/tjbaershop

What’s available at present is a line of T-shirts featuring a quote from Mr. Defrin in Chosen, regarding the vital importance of tea in all human endeavors. A tea-tee, if you will. (Or even if you won’t.)

The front:

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The back:

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Show your support for tea, me, and Chosen (as well as the wise and wonderful Mr. Defrin) with your very own “Tea is always necessary” T-shirt. Because if we don’t tell the world of the true and mighty awesomeness of tea, how are they ever to know? (Also, if you don’t walk around with the URL to my blog on the back of your shirt, they may never find their way here to this mad little block of gif-filled cyberspace, and that would be a tragedy indeed.)

So, yes. In conclusion: Buy my shirts. And my books. Or just send me a wad of cash in the mail; whatever would be most convenient.

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In other news:

The weather in Chicago has taken a turn for the dismal as of late, going quite suddenly from sunny, eighty degree days to gray, cold, depressing weather that makes me wonder if there even is such a thing as the sun. I’m bearing it as best I can, though the fact that two days of gray weather has put me into such a major funk is probably not a good sign for the winter to come.

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/autumn angst

On the plus side, my apartment is warm and has a cat in it, as well as an impressive supply of tea. And tea, as I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned before, is pretty great.

If only there were some sort of T-shirt available to express to the world my true feelings about tea, while at the same time shamelessly pimping my upcoming novel and this site…

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http://www.cafepress.com/tjbaershop

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.]