Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Buckle Up, Buttercup

 Because we've got a lot to talk about. Yeah, I kind of fell off the planet a bit this last week or two. I

don't know what to say other than school is out for the summer, there are holidays happening, and I, for the life of me, can't seem to keep to any semblance of a schedule. One minute I'm taking the kids to the pool for the afternoon, the next it's 11:30 at night and I'm freaking out because I have to be up in 6 hours and I forgot to take my meds. Which reminds me, I better go do that. I also look a lot like Elaine in that .gif, too. Ask my husband. He likens me to a duck swallowing a fish. 

So, I guess this begs the question, what the hell have I been doing these last couple of weeks? What? I just told you... living in chaos. Everyday is some new activity, appointment, or mental health disaster...I can barely keep my days straight. But seriously, things have been busy. 

First order of business: I have been invited to participate in the Ripley County Reads Author Fair on September 11th of this year, along with Ben. We're both very excited to participate. I love author fairs. It's fun to get out there and talk to people about my books and meet other authors. As a prelude to the event I was interviewed by the Greensburg Daily News, which was a lot of fun to do. If you live in the area, I encourage you to come out and say hi. Ben and I will be sharing a table so you won't have to look hard to find us.

Second order of business: Look at this badass tattoo! Yep, that's my arm emblazoned with Skeletor, Our Lord of Perpetual Frustration, holding my cat Oscar. A large part of why I've been kind of lazy lately is because this bad boy is healing and, for about four days, hurt like hell. Seriously, it felt like I had the world's worst sunburn. I could hardly move my arm. And, no, this isn't my first tattoo... it's my *counts on fingers* ninth. It's my ninth. But this is, by far, the largest. Right now it's healing and looks like a mess of peeling skin, but that's normal. I hate this part. 

Third order of business: I have an official release date for Tales of Fort Thomas. Mark your calendars, folks, it's coming! July 20th Tales of Fort Thomas will be live on Amazon where you'll be able to get your e-book, paperback, or audiobook... whichever floats your boat. 

Fourth order of business: Finally, the moment you've all been waiting for... The winners of my e-book giveaway. 


Robert Linville
Susan Emans
Tracy Linette

Once the e-book goes live, I'll send each of the winners a FB message containing the link for the free download. Congratulations and thanks for all your support. Thanks, all of you, actually. The support of you, my readers, means more than I think anyone realizes. 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Love, Sex, and Robots

So, I've been wanting to discuss this on my blog or somewhere for a while but never quite got around to doing it. Don't ask why. I don't know why I never brought it up until now. Probably because I'm pretty sure I'm the only person I know who tries to rationalize the sexuality of sentient robots. Seriously, I've thought way too hard for way too long on this subject.

It's always been hinted, if not outright stated, in Paige's Story that the Janes in the story are every bit as romantically and sexually active as the humans. As Fer noted, people aren't going to make hyper-realistic humanoids and not want to screw them.

It's true. So, how do you deal with that? The Janes are basically human in almost all aspects save for construction, which means they can experience attraction and fall in love. Now, when I first started writing this back in the early 2000's, the relationships were all very, very straight. This doesn't make any sense when the people in those relationships are sentient machines. It makes no sense for a Jane to just be straight. They don't have the biological factors that humans do that would influence something like that. They don't really have biological anything. They're machines. Everything from their skyn, to their organs, to their...um...bits... is manufactured. Under their skyn is all metal and wires. 

So, when they wake up, they don't have any of that biological feedback to tell them, "Hey you like men." or vice versa. They aren't affected by social stigmas surrounding non straight/cis relationships.  Which brings me to the bit of info you were all just dying to know... What are they?  Well, if they are going to be sexual beings in my world, it would make the most sense for the Janes to be pansexual.

So what's that mean? It means they are attracted to people regardless of their gender, gender identity, or biological sex. So, while Fer is attracted to Master Park, he could just as easily be attracted to a man, or transgender person, or nonbinary person. That's not to say they're out there just... you know... wanting to bang everyone they come across... that's not how pansexuality works, I think we all know that.

Being machines they also experience attraction differently than most humans. It's rarely ever a physical thing-- yes they do recognize the human standard of what is considered attractive, but it's like such a
back-burner thing. Fer wasn't attracted to Melissa because he thought she was pretty, just like Nix didn't fall for Patrick because he's handsome. (Who's Patrick, you ask? You'll just have to read Tales of Fort Thomas when it comes out.) Beauty and attraction is different for them. You might say they're attracted to inner beauty moreso than outer. Or, if you're Ino, you just like people for their brains and ability to go toe to toe with you in intelligent conversation.

This is all very over-simplified, and I apologize about that. Gender and sexuality is such a big and wonderful rainbow that it's hard for me to properly articulate what I'm trying to say. So... I'm just going to break it down to the basics: In my universe the Janes are pansexual. Fer's relationship is straight presenting. Nix's is gay presenting. That could have easily not been the case. Hell, Fer could have very easily had feelings for his old friend, Hem from Rho squad. We don't know if he ever did, but we do know it was possible. 

Look, I decided to dedicate an entire, rambling, blog post about this subject because as the series progresses, we're going to see a lot more of these relationships and meet characters who fall in different places on the gender identity spectrum, and that's a thing that needs to be shown more. Books, TV, and movies have really come a long way with depicting the variety of genders and sexualities, but there's still a long way to go until it's considered a normal thing to see. 

Friday, June 11, 2021

Hello Again, Imaginary Friend

 Okay, so I'm a couple days behind in my weekly blog, but I've been busy so it's allowed. Time is really flying and can't believe Phil is already recording Tales of Fort Thomas. It's been so long since I did

audiobook work that I completely forgot the process. In order to hear my 15-minute sample I needed to actually have the book on file with the production company, which is easy enough. I mean, it should have been, but I forgot a lot of the finer details of the process which left me kind of bumbling around my KDP and ACX pages for about three hours trying to get things in order. 

But, as things always do, it all worked out in the end. I presented my contract, Phil accepted it and two days ago I got my first audio sample of Tales. Phil read Funeral For a Fish and, let me tell you, you're all going to love it. 

It was so nice to hear Paige and everyone again, but moreover, I got to hear Bourbon for the very first time. I know maybe only 4 of you actually know Bourbon like I do and understand his importance, but believe me when I say that hearing him brought to life like this was just great... even if it was only for one short scene. 

It's surreal hearing my characters speak. Like I've said before, I've been writing Paige since I was fifteen. Fer and the other Omegas came along in my early 20's along with Bourbon and Rossdale. I know more about them than I care to admit and at some point they all became a kind of imaginary family to me. So, when Phil gives them an actual voice, it's like meeting them for the first time all over. It's one of the best feelings in the world.

I am very particular about my characters... like I said... I know them better than I know most real humans. I think Phil can attest to my particularities when I send him character sheets with paragraphs of back story, illustrations, and weird details like "Picture early 2000's Rob Thomas mixed with Bluegrass from the Silverhawks." If I am anything, I am thorough. 

So yeah, that's what I've been up to-- well, that and cleaning up blood from the Cafe floor at the day
job... Don't ask. Just know it was a hell of a way to begin the day and that head wounds bleed... a lot.

I can't wait to hear the finished work and I can't wait for all of you to experience it too.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Tales of Fort Thomas Sneak Peek

 Right now it seems like everyone is hard at work on Tales of Fort Thomas but me. There's still a long way to go before release day, so that means I need to keep you all interested until then. Besides, you've all been such great fans I'd be remiss if I didn't give you all something to whet your appetites. 

This excerpt is from one of my favorite stories in the collection: "Terms and Conditions". I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

And Here We Are

 Well, after a week of struggling, my husband finally got my old domain name re-routed to my blog here. So, now when you search ajbasswrites.com you'll end up here.

As of right now, my manuscript is done. It's been beta read and adjusted, edited and cleaned up, and proofread and corrected... I feel there is nothing more I can do with this book at this point. Any further changes will be nothing more than overworking it. Again, I like to keep The Oatmeal's comic about overworking a painting in mind any time I find myself nearing the end of a project. 

So yeah, Tales of Fort Thomas is done... at least as far as my part goes. Tomorrow I'll send it off to Phil so he can get a feel for it before he records. I can't wait to get my first 15 minute sample. Saturday, my family and I are going to Bloomington for a day trip to the IU campus, where I'll be taking my new author photo. Once that's done, I'll send the manuscript off to Damonza so it can be formatted. They'll send me my final, hi-res covers and I can finally do a cover reveal.

It's so strange. Writing seems to have two speeds. Either absolutely nothing is happening or everything is happening. There is no in between.

Right now, though, I'm tired. So I think I'm going to have a celebratory beverage and then go to bed. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Horrifying Necessity of Change

When I was in 8th grade, my teacher found a doodle I did of a horse and told me it was good. 

She was right.

From then on a drew every chance I could get. I copied images of game character from Game Pro magazines, video game boxes, and sometimes I'd pull stuff from my head. Everyone thought it was great. They especially liked that crazy 'Japanimation' style I used which was like, so cool and new. (Seriously, it was 1996, anime was basically relegated to Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and hentai from the back corner of the video store.)

Everyone loved my work. I got compliments galore and I rode that wave all though high school. Somewhere in my junior year I decided I was going to art school and would eventually become a cartoonist. Everyone said I'd kill it as an artist. I mean, why wouldn't I? Everyone said I was great.

Enter: Art School... where I was asked to draw in new and different styles, with tools I wasn't familiar with. 

"Nah, nah," I said to myself. "I'll do the project in my style and everyone will love it. They'll see how good I am, and I'll get an A."

At this point, you'd think I'd be all, "Hmm... maybe learning things like fundamentals is important and taking the time to learn these things now will help me in the long run when I'm out of school and drawing on my own." Yeah no. I took the coaching of my teachers as insults... and while I did adjust my style accordingly to whatever project I was doing, I didn't like it and I didn't do it 100%.

Soooo....I half-assed my way through art school... I still made it out with a solid B+, but still... sometimes I wonder, what if I had tried? Once I graduated, I got to work on my comics... but I never bothered to learn how to get them on the internet in a way that was beyond my janky deviantart account, or refine them so they were, you know, clean or colored. I was stuck in my way... which was fast becoming outdated... and refused to learn anything new. 

I wasn't a teachable student and I wasn't allowing myself to grow as an artist partly because of my ego, but mostly because I was lazy. Learning how to use art software? Buying different pens and markers? Maybe reading a book on the subject? Ugh, that all sounds hard and time consuming. What's wrong with pen and ink and basic know-how? Nothing if you're Charles fucking Schulz. (I love Charles Schulz, by the way.)

Suffice it to say, I never made it as an artist. I did eventually learn how to use photoshop and invested in a tablet, but it was too little too late. I still draw for fun from time to time.... Mostly illustrations from my books and little pencil sketches.  And that's fine. I'm okay with that. But now, here I am writing and selling books, and trying to make a respectable profit from them. 

Ben Wallace once mentioned to me that I need to find time every day to work on my writing. That's solid advice and his success is a testament to that. You'd think I'd see that and maybe, you know, listen... but I did what I always do... I agreed politely and went on about my business of doing exactly NOT that. I published Paige's Story aaaaand basically that was it. Occasionally I'd boost an ad on Facebook or Instagram but that was about all. I'm not sure what I expected to happen, but I'm pretty sure I was relying too much on luck-- luck that the right person would read my book, make a big damn deal over it and that would be that. 

Yeah, that's not how that works. It took me three years and a Facebook post from JN Chaney to get it through my damn thick skull, but I finally got the message that I can't just sit around and wait for recognition. 

Which means I not only have to write books, but I have to market them. I have to interact with people

on social media, make partnerships, advertise, write REGULAR blogs, and basically do everything that I hate doing with the fiery passion of 400 billion suns.

I'm not a people person. Those of you who have met me in real life can probably agree that I'm awkward and talk way too loud and fast when I'm nervous... which is more or less all the time.

But, here we are. Tales of Fort Thomas is getting ready to go and I'll be damned if I just keep on keeping on with the bare minimum. It's going to be hard. I work a day job, raise a family, and (worst of all) have my mental health to contend with. Sometimes the depression is so heavy all I can do is stare at my computer and wonder why I even bother. Then, when I DO bother, my anxiety crashes the party and starts in with, "Holy shit! Why did you do that? Who do you think you are? You're going to bomb so hard! People are going to laugh at you! You want to be laughed at?"

I do not want to be laughed at, but I also want to write soooooo... I guess, maybe I should learn from my mistakes in art school and become a teachable human being. You know, take the advice other, long time authors are giving me and listen. I also need to be open to learning new tricks like marketing and strategic social media practices. These are small, reasonable things. But, most importantly, I need to be open to change and I need to put in the work. 

Ugh... that last bit's gonna suck. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Temper, Temper

 Monday is writing night. As such, I was supposed to spend this evening working on my edits of Tales of Fort Thomas. But earlier today I lost my temper and now I'm exhausted and I don't think working on my book is a good idea. 

It's been a long time since I've lost my temper. And, to my credit, I was fully aware of it as it happened. Basically, spelling practice with my son was, once again, a complete disaster. I managed to keep it together until my husband got home then proceeded to lose my shit at him. Note, I said "At him" not "On him." I needed a body to intercept my emotions and he was it. 

Now, back in the day when I had an emotional shit show like that, I'd just call my friend Wendy and be all, "Hey, I might murder someone unless we go to Yogi's." And we went to Yogi's where we'd drink and eat various fried foods until about 1 AM and we'd talk our problems to death. We'd stumble back to our apartments, pass out, and wake up the next day feeling better...albeit hungover. 

These days, I and my friends all have gross, grown up responsibilities and suddenly "Meet me at the bar before I'm in jail for homicide." is likely to be met with "Okay, but I can only get away for an hour." And truth be told, I'm in that same boat. So, when Ben was all, "Do you need to call someone and have a margarita?" my first thought was, "Yes! But me and my friends are all grown ups now and we have families, and shit to do! We need at least three days notice before stuff like this!"

So, you know what I did instead? 

I stood up, tears still on my face. I looked at Ben and said the only thing I could think of at the moment, "We're having tikka masala for dinner!" Then, I got in my car. I didn't even listen to any angry music. I put on goddamned K-pop (because BTS and Ateez are my jams at them moment). I didn't go to a bar or any place like that. I went to Kroger, and in my fury I bought a house plant. Not booze or chocolate or anything like that. A fucking house plant. 

I am physically unable to get angry like I used to, and I guess that's a good thing... but rage-buying a house plant does leave a bit to be desired.

Oh well.

Anyway, her name is Bronwyn and she's my new baby.