Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Meet Cute

This past Sunday Ben and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. 12 years of marriage plus 4 years of dating puts us at 16 years together. Not too shabby. And of those 16 years, my favorite story to tell is the story of our first in-person meeting. 

Just like old times.
If you wanted to be specific about it, Ben and I met in the comment section of a mutual friend's Live Journal... yes, I'm well aware of how dated that sentence is. It was 2005. My little sister had just died three months prior and I had broken up with my emotionally unavailable boyfriend shortly after. I was not even a year out of college, living on my own in my little apartment in Bloomington with my cat Rosie. At the time I was trying to become a newspaper cartoonist and failing. To make ends meet, I worked at Jiffy Treet East-- a small ice cream shop on the corner of a strip mall just off Pete Ellis Drive. You can still go there today. It's just as good as it ever was.

One day, in my apartment I got a message on AOL instant messenger (yes, dated, I know) from this guy who says he knows me from Live Journal. We chat for a few minutes before I make up an excuse to go, because, you know, strange men on the internet. Over the next couple of weeks, he kept messaging me, nothing threatening or inappropriate, just "Hey how are you? How was your day?" Each time our conversations got a bit longer until I was confident he wasn't some gross creeper. Turns out he just wanted someone to talk about anime and movies with who wasn't a 16 year old.

And that's how we arranged our first in-person meeting-- to exchange anime. I had a copy of Cowboy Bebop: The Movie that he had never seen and he had a copy of Nausicaa that I had never seen. We agreed to meet at Jiffy Treet during one of my closing shifts. I'd have my coworkers around in case things went weird and yeah. He told me he'd be driving a Jeep and gave me a ballpark of when he'd be in.

I spent the entire shift anxiously looking out the front window waiting for him to arrive. Every time a Jeep pulled in, I'd have a miniature heart attack until I realized it wasn't him. Finally around 10pm, a tan Jeep pulled up to the shop and I knew it was him. 

He didn't try to hug me or do anything creepy when we met. He just introduced himself and said it was nice to finally meet me. We took a seat at a small table by the neon-noodle sign in the widow (which is still there) and swapped movies. I asked what he was up to tonight and he told me he was going to Bear's Place to watch his friend's band play. 

    "Oh, that sounds like fun," I said. 

    "Yeah, not really. I won't really know anyone there other than my friend and his girlfriend."

    Then he asked me what I was doing and said, "You're looking at it. I'll be here until at least 11 to close up." 

    "Well, they probably won't even go on until 11 at least. It'd be nice to have someone to talk to."

    And I'm just all, "Yeah, I bet."

The conversation went on for about twenty minutes or so and in that time he made multiple hints at how he'd like me to go with him to the bar... all of which flew right over my head. Finally, after he had left, I went back behind the counter and co-worker... a big stoner-dude named Chris... looked at me like I had just sprouted an extra head. When I asked him what the problem was he told me, "Angie, I want you to replay your entire conversation with him over in your head and think reeeeeally hard about it."

So I did. My eyes went wide and I felt like a complete idiot. "He was asking me out!" 

"Yeah, genius. He was. Way to go."

So that was the first time I met Ben in person. I blew him off like some rando. The next day we got in touch and arranged to meet up again. This time at his apartment... where we sat on separate couches, watched Demon City Shinjuku, and ate a Big 10 from Pizza Express. Sooooo... progress? 

Despite the slow start, we finally got off the ground. We crash landed a time or two in the four years that followed... he was struggling with PTSD, having just come home from the war and I was struggling with my own issues having suddenly lost my sister... but once we learned to navigate the winds, we really soared... and we've been flying high ever since. 

That's how we started. It's our meet cute... our origin story... my favorite story to tell. 


Friday, September 24, 2021

The Story Behind the Real-Life Ino

I got an email from an old friend the other day and it made my day. It was from one of my oldest internet friends and one of the very few online friends that I've had the pleasure to meet in real life (it's doubly impressive because I traveled all the way to Italy to meet her). This particular friend is also the direct inspiration for Ino in my books. 

Yeah, Emanuela has been my friend for a long time and though we don't talk as regularly we as we used to, it's nice to know that after almost 16 years we're still friends. 

So sit back, get comfortable, and let me tell you the tale of how a much younger me made one of the best stupid decisions of my life.

Since the dawn of time parents have told their kids to be wary of strangers, and when the internet rolled around the warnings became even more frequent because we were now conversing with strangers online on a daily basis and it's easy for someone you think you know to be someone very much not.

The year was 2006. I was still wearing Kikgirl jeans, watching Naruto, and living alone with my two cats, Ed and Winry. I was 25. I like most nerdy young women my age spent most of my free time chatting online with other nerds. That's how I met Emanuela-- on a Naruto fan blog on Livejournal. It didn't take long before we realized we had a lot more in common than Naruto. We'd talk about movies, music, and whatever other fandoms we were into at the time. She (along with about half a dozen others) read one of the first versions of Paige's Story that I ever wrote and got to meet all the characters you know in their... infant stages. 

One night (night for me, early morning for her because Italy) I was telling her about how I'd love to visit Italy one day and she immediately offered me her couch as a place to crash should I ever visit. Now, most rational, cautious people would be all "Thanks. I appreciate it." and never revisit the subject. Not me. Nope. I crunched numbers, budgeted, and booked a flight to Italy that November with full intent of being picked up at the airport by Emanuela and crashing at her place. 

This could have easily gone south in a bad way, but it didn't. When I arrived in Florence I was greeted by

a tiny little blonde Italian lady who drove like a bat out of hell and said "Ow-zum" instead of "Awesome". And we had the best goddamned time. My friend Emily flew over and joined us a couple days later and we spent evenings at cafes and bars meeting Emanuela's friends and colleagues. We saw all the typical sites, but it was the nights drinking and talking that were the best. The open cafes and dark bars and over all slower pace are what made me fall in love with Italy. 

When I got back we made a point to send each other care packs every year-- she'd send me all kinds of chocolates and amaretti from her home town in Liguria (amaretti which make an appearance in Tales of Fort Thomas) and since Italy had basically every kind of American chocolate bar available already, I'd send her things like hot sauce, caramel popcorn, and Girl Scout cookies. We still exchange packages, though not as regularly.

When Ben and I got married in 2009, we decided to have our honeymoon in Rome and managed to take a train to Florence to see Emanuela and she took us out to a wonderful steak Fiorentina dinner and we got to catch up in person for an evening. 

It's 2021 and we still keep in touch, even if it's just a quick email to say hello every few months. I was only 25 and had never traveled anywhere alone let alone to another country where I barely spoke the language and there I was, with my broken Italian, meeting a total stranger. It was a stupid and dangerous decision and I don't regret a single second of it. ...Actually that's not true, I regret not bringing proper walking shoes. Florence all day in heels is absolute murder on the ol' feet.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Come On Down To Cornfield-- I mean, Batesville!

 Hello everyone! I know I've been really quiet on the ol' blogger lately. I'm sorry. But, here are some updates. The launch of Tales of Fort Thomas went well. It's been almost 2 months and, so far, it's being very well received.

Second: Book Two... like the official book two of the Fort Thomas Series... is moving along at a really nice clip. I'm 17,000 words in and at this rate I'll have a first draft by the end of October. In Book Two we pick up with everyone six years after the events of Paige's Story. Paige and Nikki are all grown up-- Paige is in bootcamp to become a scrapper and Nikki is interning at the Jane Research Center at Fort Thomas. There are lots of new characters to meet and new problems to overcome both on individual character levels and in the world around them.

Third: This Saturday, September 11th I'll be taking part in the Ripley County Reads Author Fair along
with my husband, the award-winning Benjamin W. Bass. We'll have a table with books and I'll have some merchandise. There will be lots of other events happening that day too-- the Farmer's Market is just down the road (it's really nice), there will be story time for the kids under the Umbrella Sky art installation, and you'll be a hop skip and a jump away from The Big Four Cafe where you can grab a bite to eat. (Reservations are not necessary, but generally a good idea on the weekend as we tend to be really busy.)  

I'm really excited for this author fair. I've got cool new Game Ender buttons that I'll be giving away, a fancy pants banner, and more books than you can shake a stick at! Also, Amack's Well is one of my favorite places in town. I'm there every week with my friend and fellow author, Paige Gray, and we talk about our books (she's writing an historical fiction series), and vent about life. It's where we take the kids after flu shots and other unpleasant things to take the edge off, or sometimes we just drop in on a nice day for a treat. It is a lovely place. 

So yeah, come on down and see the town I call home.

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.