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.

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.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Impatience and the Art of Gun Jumping

     I'm good at jumping things. I jump to conclusions. I jump through hoops. In 8th grade I won 4th
place in the long jump on track and field day at school. But the thing I'm best at is jumping the gun. Which is kind of what I did with the announcement I made yesterday regarding the release of Tales of Fort Thomas. I know, I know, it's a total dick move. But I think once I explain myself, you'll understand.
When I create anything I want to get it out to the masses as soon as humanly possible. I have no patience. I just get my book/art/etc... out there and let the universe do with it what it pleases. I did that with Paige's Story. No, honestly, I really did. I should have held on it to for a few more months, scoured the manuscript again, and beefed up my marketing strategy. But I didn't. Now, I had a great release for Paige's Story. Sales are still steady years down the road and that's pretty okay for a self published gal such as myself. Now, to my defense, I had no fucking clue what I was doing when I published Paige's Story, so all things considered, I think I did okay.

    This time it's different. This time I know what I'm doing. I know more about marketing. I know more

about publishing, and editing, and all that. But, most importantly, I know the importance of taking my time, timing things correctly, and how to make sales count. 

    I hadn't really intended on doing an audiobook release of Tales of Fort Thomas, but after I wrote the short story 'Terms and Conditions', I just knew I couldn't deny the world the opportunity to hear Phil Thron's take on Fer after he loses his ability to swear.

    That's right. You guessed it. Phil's back and he's reading my next book! It's official! I'm excited! Are you excited? Because I'm excited! That's why I'm postponing my launch. I want to be able to give you, my readers, followers, and friends, the opportunity to experience my next book the way you want-- be it paperback, e-book, or audiobook-- from day one. I don't have a specific date yet, but I will certainly keep everyone posted once dates become clearer. ...and this time I swear I won't jump the gun.  

In the meantime, don't lose heart, there's still going to be plenty to look forward to in the upcoming months. Ben and I are working on new designs for stickers, t-shirts, and other merchandise for when we re-open the Fort Thomas PX. There will be give aways for free e-books and audiobooks on the horizon. And, of course, regular updates and progress reports from yours truly. 

Friday, March 5, 2021

Trying To Write In All the Wrong Head Space

 Scene: It's eight o'clock and time for my kids to go to bed. They turn off their video games and You Tubes as though they were on death row and it was time for them to make the long walk. They go to the
bathroom and brush their teeth and after I confirm for the five millionth time that my son is actually using toothpaste (what the hell is it with little boys and not wanting to do shit like this?) we get waters, my daughter takes her pill (chronic UTIs for the win... do people still say that? For the win? They don't, do they? I bet they don't.)

    After pills and waters, it's story time. But not yet, because everyone has to find their blankies, Cat-titos, and Corgos. Now, with stuffed animals and blankets and gathered and it's time for a story. We're reading
Matilda right now. We read a chapter... with frequent commentary from both kids on how Matilda's parents are garbage and how they are so confused as to why Miss. Trunchbull would work in a school if she hates kids so much. We make it through a chapter and of course both kids are all, "Noooooo! One more chapter!" Depending on the length of the next chapter I may or may not oblige. 

    After stories there are tuck ins, hugs, and if you're my daughter, a big long conversation about death, how one goes about getting their own apartment, and how she plans to never get married and just live with her pet beagle named Rosie. ... my daughter is six. 

    So at this point it's been an hour since bedtime began and now I have to go downstairs, sit in front of my computer and put myself in the headspace of a traumatized fifteen-year-old and her sentient android parent. 

    This is hard.

    This is hard because I worked a shift at the café that was utter pandemonium, I ran my ass off, made a nice chunk of change, came home, tided the house, got the kids their showers and then headlined the three ring circus that is bedtime. I am tired. I am tired and my mind is all, "Can I please just watch Bob's Burgers and eat a bowl full of Dot's pretzels?" But I don't. I sit down and open my computer and a have at it.  And sometimes, like tonight, good stuff happens. I get right into the correct headspace and
everything flows. Other nights I get nothing. 

    The last few nights I wasn't able to get anything really good down. I couldn't loosen my brain up enough. I've had a long week. It's nice out so that means the café has been super busy. That's not a complaint. The fact that we're starting to bounce back to normal, pre-'rona business is great. It just means I'm tired as fuck at the end of the day. Tonight I was just the right amount of tired, and focused, and with the aid of a glass of bourbon my brain was able to get some good stuff down. 

   Hopefully I'll be able to get some more quality work done tomorrow and wrap this story up. Once it's done that means it's time to start editing and putting Tales together. 

    I'm looking forward to that. 

    In the meantime, have an old drawing from 2011 of Paige, Anji, and Fer.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Why I Dislike Disaster Films and Why I'm Stuck On This Fucking Scene


So... I'm still stuck on the same scene I've been stuck on for the last three nights. Well, no, I'm not stuck per se. I know what I want to happen and all that right down to the dialogue... It's just I'm looking at this and all I can think about is how tired I am and how loud the TV is in the background. It's some disaster film-- Ben loves those. I don't. I think they're terrible actually. I don't like to watch realistic movies where everyone is suffering and struggling. I don't like to watch movies where kids get hurt or separated from their families. Last weekend we watched Doctor Sleep and the scene with Baseball Boy and Rose's crew gave me nightmares. It still bothers me if I let myself think about it. Now, that said, Doctor Sleep is fantastic and I loved it. I'll have to listen to the book. But still... that scene...ugh. 

    Actually, I guess that's not entirely true-- Pet Sematary is one of my favorite movies (the first one) and we all know what happens to Gage. But I think the fact that it all sort of happens off screen makes

it easier. I mean, I love horror films-- like good, legit horror films not bloodbath-torture-porn. Fuck that noise. Like, the first Paranormal Activity movie, The Exorcist, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, IT (both versions)... all stellar. But I guess that's because they're all ghost stories more or less and as far as I know, ghosts aren't real and I will probably never find myself in the position of doing a midnight autopsy on the corpse of a dead witch. And, if any demon should possess me, I'm pretty sure my anxiety and depression would make them regret their decision pretty quick. 

    Demon: Your soul is mine now!

    Me: Well, okay. If you can find it you can have it, I guess.

    Demon: Foolish mortal...wait... why're you? ... Jeeze, what's going on? Why...why is everything wound so tight in here? I mean... is something bad going to happen? 

   Me: I dunno. Anxiety says so, soooo... probably. Wanna over think it together?

    Demon: I... I mean... it just feels like everything in here is about to get into a fight with something and I don't know what it is... but at the same time I don't care because everything sucks anyway and I'm bad at everything I do.  ...Why do I suddenly feel so pathetic?!

    Me: Yeah, that's the depression. You get used to that. Want me to take a trazodone and we can both go to sleep?

    Demon: Yeah... yeah... let's do that. Maybe we'll feel better in the morning.  

    Me: Aw, you're optimism is cute. 

    And that's why ghost stories don't bother me. I can handle ghosts. What I can't handle is real life disaster stuff because I know that shit is a real possibility and not even my super nihilism powers can shrug that off. 

    To my husband, I guess, these disaster films are cathartic. He's a low level prepper and he takes

comfort in making sure we're prepared for shit like that. Those movies are like goddamned training videos for him. He loves them and I don't begrudge him that. His super prepper powers are what let us cruise through this pandemic with little to no trouble so far.

    But anyways, I'm staring at the same scene and for the life of me, can't finish it. I don't know why. It's a good scene. But I just can't seem to find the right words. And that's a problem. Because on a draft you shouldn't need the right words. The right words come later. But I can't write a draft. My brain isn't designed for outlines and plotting drafts. It's always working in final draft mode so I'll fixate on a little thing until it's just right at the expense of an hour. The funny thing is... that on the second round that paragraph will be edited and changed, and on the third go round it'll probably be gone entirely. Soooo.... there went that hour... right down the fucking drain. 

    I'm going to go back and try it again. Wait here.

     Hmm... well, what do you know. I finished the scene and it only took about twenty minutes. It's not great, but it will do for the moment, I guess. I mean, that's what I'm telling myself anyway. It will do. 

Moving on.

Friday, February 19, 2021

I've Got a New Book and Am Watching Grumpy Old Men

     So I'm supposed to be writing this blog post to talk about my upcoming book but my husband is watching Grumpy Old Men on HBO and I've never seen it before and, well... it's really good. So my attention is a little divided at the moment between this and Burgess Meredith being just the best. I mean, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are great too, but Burgess Meredith is hilarious. I honestly can't believe I've never seen this movie. 

    Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, I have a new book coming out. It's about ten thousand words from being written... give or take a shitty afternoon or bad mood. Now, before you go and get your hopes up allow me to just stomp them ahead of time. This is NOT, I repeat, NOT book 2. Sorry. It's not. Book 2 is coming. I'm working on it. But it's going to be a while. 

   I know, I know, it's been almost three years, but look, I have a day job and kids and depression. Finding time isn't always easy and when I find the time it's not always easy to write... which loops us back around to the depression. Fuckin' asshole. So, I know authors make money by selling books. No, really, we do. I know, it surprised me too. And I have found that the more books an author has, the more likely they are to sell them... especially when they have a loyal fanbase. (Thank you, both of you.)


    Well, I don't have a lot of books... yet. But what I do have are a lot of short stories. And you know what you can do with lots of short stories? You Ray Bradbury that shit and put them into a loosely connected collection! 

     So that's what I'm doing... with sincerest apologies to Ray Bradbury, of course. I'm taking all the Fort Thomas short stories I've been posting on my blog, along with a few others that have never been seen before and publishing The Tales of Fort Thomas. 

    Why, oh why, you ask? Why can't you just write book 2? I already told you. I am. It's just not as easy as it sounds. Also, six years passes between book 1 and book 2. (Side note, unrelated: I hope the little girl in Grumpier Old Men appreciates that Burgess Meredith sang her a lullaby. Yes, we're onto the sequel now.) Anyway, where was I? Yeah, six years. So, six years passes between books and that leaves a lot of space to fill in. 

    Look, the truth is, I know what my characters are doing every day down to the minute. It's creepy and it bothers me sometimes. But that's what happens when you've been living in the same fictional world (or a general facsimile thereof) since you were fourteen. I like to think that Tolkien had the same problem, except instead of creating my own languages, I'm creating popular movie franchises and bands for my characters to enjoy. So, apologies also to JRR Tolkien. Instead of Sindarin and Quenya I have Ice Shark 1-5 and groups like Harassing Edward and The Bathtub Marys. Yeah. I'm pretty far gone.

    So, here's the thing. Sometimes when I write, I don't actually write. I just stare at the screen all grumpy like... like Walter Matthau. And when I don't write it has been noted by reliable sources (to which I am married) that I get, well... a little affected. Like I don't just shrug off a bad day's work. I get the morbs, and not just the morbs... the super morbs, and believe you me, my depression doesn't need any more fuel for its fire. So that's when my reliable source of a husband suggested that maybe I start to get the word out for The Tales of Fort Thomas by documenting the process. 
It'll get everyone, hopefully, excited about the book and it'll help me to maybe not be so angry with myself when I don't have a super stellar writing day.     

    So here we go. The Tales of Fort Thomas is coming by summer this year. It will have a few stories that show you what happens after Paige's story, some that happen before, and one that actually happens right in the middle of the it. You'll get to see all your favorite characters on a more personal level. You'll get to see their private lives... the hardships they encounter, the random shenanigans they get into and all that kind of stuff. I really think you'll enjoy it. If I didn't I wouldn't publish it. 

    Right now, I'm working on a story that follows Paige and Alpha right after Paige's Story ends. Paige is trying to process her trauma and Alpha is trying to figure out how to be a parent. I'll be posting regular updates with what I'm writing and where I am in the publishing process (hopefully), and hopefully you'll follow along.