In which I am a crotchety old lady

A few bits of news:

1. The site header has finally been redone!

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The new header features: (a) a more up-to-date photo of The Author (as well as The Author’s Hair), (b) pictures that are actually lined up properly, and (c) some of The Author’s bad art (and one piece of good art by someone who is not The Author). Hooray!

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For those unfamiliar with the subjects of the drawings seen here, they’re all characters from Chosen. Left-to-right, we see Mr. Defrin, Kaine, Nicholas, Darek, and (suspiciously well-drawn) Hema.

2. Speaking of Chosen, for anyone who didn’t get the chance to read the sneak peak of the first few chapters, you can still do so here:

https://tjbaer.com/2015/06/12/a-sneak-peak-at-chosen-book-i/

For the uninitiated, Chosen is the first volume of my upcoming LGBT fantasy series, which I mention on this blog approximately every .25 seconds. I’ve actually made some changes to the first few chapters over the last few days, as well as adding in some new material to the “sneak peak” post above, so even if you’ve already had a look at it, now might be a good time to go have one more. Ya know. If you want to.

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3. For those who are unaware, the Chicago Blackhawks recently won the Stanley Cup, which is apparently kind of a big deal. To celebrate, they had a parade, a huge stadium event, and a general all-day avalanche of merrymaking downtown today.

As one of the few people in Chicago who doesn’t give any damns at all about professional sports, I found myself surrounded for much of the day by happy, chattering masses of people in Blackhawks jerseys, who got progressively happier, louder, and drunker as the day went on.

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Artist’s rendering. Strange how so many Blackhawks fans seem to be tiny and bald.

I’m thrilled that so many people were so very happy today, but as I’m a crotchety old lady who dislikes crowds, noise, youngins, and  especially crowds of noisy youngins, today was something of an exercise in self-control. And, I’m pleased to say, I managed to get through the entire day without once waving my cane over my head and shouting for everyone to keep it down / keep off my lawn, so I consider it a victory.

Incidentally, I seem to have a unique combination of traits that make me the absolute antithesis of other Chicagoans: I don’t care about sports, I prefer thin-crust pizza, and I always, always put ketchup on hot dogs (an offense punishable by death within the Chicago city limits).

What can I say? I’m just a rebel. A crotchety old lady rebel.

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Seen above: Me.


 

Edit: Apparently, this marks my 100th post on this blog! Wow and hooray and woot!

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I suggest we celebrate by having everyone immediately go and mail me one hundred $1 bills. Or, because I am exceptionally kindhearted, I will also accept $100 in any denomination of your choice. <3

Publishing plans and vengeance via diversity

I HAVE RETURNED. colin-bradley-thumbsup Yes, friends, after a lengthy holiday (and post-holiday hangover) hiatus, I have returned to the wondrous world of WordPress. Let us rejoice and be merry, and pretend that some of you actually remember who I am. Hurrah!

Now, onto business. First of all, let us discuss Chosen, A.K.A., my LGBT fantasy epic, A.K.A., the story I’ve been working on since I was a frail young thing of fifteen (and actually not that frail; I did sixty push-ups a day and was still capable of doing a one-armed handstand a’la Empire Strikes Back Luke). sw_luke-handstand (The hardest part was unraveling Yoda’s grammar while all the blood rushed to my head.)

But in any case, Chosen: chosen-frontcover_dec2014

The original plan was to go the indie author route and self-publish via Amazon. And that may still be what I end up doing, but for now, I’m trying a multi-tiered plan that involves first submitting Book I of Chosen to a few awesome-seeming literary agents, then (should none of them grasp the glory and wonder that is Chosen and snatch it up), submitting directly to a handful of publishers I’m interested in. Finally, if none of those pan out, we’ll go back to the original self-publishing plan.

There are pros and cons to all the above routes, but I figured there’s no harm in at least trying the traditional publishing route before committing to self-publishing. Sadly, this means a longer delay before the book is actually released, but if doing so means it can reach a wider audience and potentially bring me one step closer to the sell millions of copies and become so hugely successful that Jon Stewart asks me to come on The Daily Show to talk about my book dream, then it’s all worth it, baby.

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…it could totally happen. >_>

Anyway. At present, much of my non-teaching time is occupied by the business of sending out queries, polishing up my manuscript, and even doing a little work on Book II of Chosen. I’ve also added a bit more to Queer Investigations, a quirky little novel-in-progress that involves lesbians in Chicago solving paranormal mysteries, because that’s a gap in the market, amirite? queer-investigationscast_jan2015_zoe-saldana_keiko-agena_jamie_02

Ooh, MS Paint.

Casting for the aforementioned novel changes practically every day, but at present, my dream cast features Zoe Saldana playing logical, brilliant, and bookishly repressed Miranda, while Keiko Agena  steps into the starring role as sarcastic tea addict Lila Matsumoto.

I’m also working on a Buffy-esque Teen Girl Kicks the Crap Out of Monsters book, set in my hometown of Middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania. As aforementioned hometown is comprised of 90% Christian white people, I’ve challenged myself to the task of putting as much diversity into the cast of the novel as possible. Thus far, I’ve included a rainbow of races, religions, sexualities, and gender identities, and it gives me a strange feeling of satisfaction to populate my xenophobic little hometown with such an amalgamation of all that scares the bejeesus out of its inhabitants. Muwahahahaha. ill_lucy_blehh But in conclusion, I’m writing stuff, YAY.

And now I must go and prepare for the day’s lessons, and perhaps do a little writing or editing or stickin’ it to the man. Farewell for now, friends.

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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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 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

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!

Chosen: Stuff and More Stuff

I’ve been working hard on my fantasy novel lately, but given my minuscule attention span and attraction to All Things Internet, it was inevitable that I waste at least a little bit of time online when I should’ve been writing.

But rather than watching an endless parade of cat videos or reading YouTube comments and despairing of humanity, I instead used my precious time to create…a newer, more complete Fake Cast Poster for Chosen~~~!

Behold:

Chosen cast 6-08-2014 (Alex Kingston version)

A brief explanation of the premise of Chosen, for those who haven’t been feverishly reading every word posted on this blog:

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C H O S E N

colinmorgan-kaine-YESAfter the mysterious disappearance of his father, 16-year-old Kaine Ikarra moves with his mother to the small town of Aurora. Unable to cope with his feelings of guilt and abandonment, Kaine begins to close in on himself, spending the majority of his time shut up in his room studying magic. In this conservative, gods-fearing town, however, interest in magic is a dangerous thing.

The Book of the Gods warns against the Marked Ones, a group of people who, for their crime of stealing power from the gods, were cursed to an endless cycle of reincarnation, being kept forever out of the gods’ glorious realm. The people of Aurora fear the Marked Ones like nothing else, and are more than willing to kill anyone they discover to be Marked.

With his sarcastic, secretive nature and talent for magic, Kaine is a natural target for his neighbors’ suspicions, and must hide his powers or risk the people of Aurora discovering his secret – that he is one of the Marked. According to the Book of the Gods, he is an abomination who must be put to death, and he knows that his new neighbors won’t hesitate to do just that if they find out what he is. But Mr. Defrin, his teacher and mentor, assures him that the Book of the Gods is wrong, that the Marked are not enemies of the gods at all – they are the Chosen.

_________________________________________________________

Dun-dun-DUNNNN.

And for the record, writing that teeny little summary took me a good hour and a half.

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Summaries are hard, yo.

Anyway, regarding the cast picture above: Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Morgan, and Hunter Parrish have been “cast” for quite some time, and I actually wrote the character of Mr. Defrin’s wife, Elisabeth, with Amanda Abbington in mind.

Alex Kingston, however, was a mad stroke of genius that hit me yesterday, because damn, she’s perfect for the role of Kaine’s tough, loving, frequently swearing healer mother.

Gemma Arterton, I confess to having never seen in anything except an interview on the Graham Norton Show, which probably doesn’t count. I chose her mainly because she just looks like my mental image of Silas. Silas is a diminutive, sweet-faced bully who beats the hell out of Kaine because she catches him practicing a spell in the woods, and her uber-religious dad has brainwashed her with anti-magic and anti-Marked propaganda for her entire life. So yeah, she has some Issues. But she’s a lovely girl, really, if your definition of “lovely” is “terrorizes half the school with her gang of muscly thug friends and makes Kaine’s life a living hell.”

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I do actually really like her, though. >_>

Anyway, Nicholas hasn’t been in the story much yet, but he’s actually the second main-main character after Kaine. He and Kaine start out with a sort of rivalry relationship, both vying for Mr. Defrin’s attention – Nicholas as his son, Kaine as his student – but come together later after Bad Things Happen. Their beautiful Man Love is really the heart of the story, and has been both one of the most wonderful and one of the most challenging things I’ve ever tried to write. *_*;

Buuuuut, anyway. Now that I’ve geeked out appropriately re: my own story and characters, I shall return to actually writing said story, as that’s probably a slightly better use of my time.

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Laterz~~