Friday, December 4, 2015

ADVENT CALENDAR Day 4 - Behind the Scenes - When Good Authors Go Bad...

Want to know exactly how crazy it is to live in a writer brain? (Or in same town as an author?) Read to the bottom and comment for your chance to win a digital copy of Every Ugly Word!

It's a Funny Story...

A couple weeks ago, on my way to an author event in Portland, Oregon, I had to pick up some printing at the local Staples. As soon I reached the counter, I saw a young man in line on the other side who looked exactly like a character I'm currently writing.

All nods to normalcy fled.

My heart started pumping, and writer brain took over:

Maybe I can take a photo of him surreptitiously, so he won't notice? 
Can I get the angles I need to see his face clearly so I can use it for my visual diary? It'll show if I zoom up, right?
What if someone catches me? I'll look like a weird stalker and they'll probably call the Police.
But he looks just like Aiden!
Am I a creeper if I secretly take photos of a guy half my age--even for professional reasons? 
Why am I talking to myself as if I don't already know what I'm thinking?

The unsuspecting Staples agent was able to help me, and managed to maintain her smile despite my preoccupation with the line forming to her right. Eventually she got my stuff for me, but was called away to help another staff member.

While waiting to pay I threw good sense to the carpet. I couldn't resist the temptation to try to take a photo of the guy.

Unfortunately, I was juggling my purse, my phone, another bag, and the printing which had just been handed to me. I was also at an angle that left me little in the way of photo fodder. I'd almost settled on exclaiming loudly over a display of school bags behind him and how my mother REALLY wanted one of those, when I raised my phone... And managed to drop everything I was holding, and then trip on my purse.

This was the resulting "covert" surveillance photo.


I'll admit, it was incredibly embarrassing. I don't think anyone realised I was trying to take a photograph, but since the guy and a couple other people were staring at me, I paid for my printing and fled.

The story should have stopped there, but I literally couldn't get past how much this guy was the doppelganger for a character I had. How awesome it would be to have pictures of his face and build? It wasn't like I'd be looking at them for personal reasons . . . So when I reached my car in the parking lot I put my things in the car then stood next to it.

If he comes out in the next 60 seconds, I'll ask him.

A minute passed.

Okay, if he comes out in the next two minutes, I'll ask him.

I'd reached about four minutes of freakishly loitering in the parking lot when he finally came out.  

I can only imagine what he thought when this short little woman stopped him on the cement and asked for his picture. But bless him -- his name's Brandon -- he was totally game!

It turns out, Brandon is a photographer, and accustomed to asking strangers if he can take their pictures too. So with several assurances that I'm "not a stalker" I gave him a free book (I had boxes of them in my car for the author event) and asked for a couple pictures.

All's well that ends well, right? I have to say, Brandon wins the Nice Human Award, for being very sweet about a weird situation, and understanding about what could be misconstrued as Scary Creeper Behavior.

If you'd like to visit Brandon's photography page, Rockstar Images, on Facebook, you can! Tell him I sent you, and I say "Thanks for not laughing at me--or calling the Police!"

Your Turn: Have you ever done something really nuts to a complete stranger? Or had a stranger do something nuts to you? Tell me about it! You might win a copy of Every Ugly Word!


  1. Hilarious!

    when I lived in my hometown, I was frequently stopped to talk to from high school students or young college students but they confused me with their former math teacher. I would just nod and wish them well rather than call them out in their confusion. To their credit, I am a twin and she has taught a lot of students and apparently very memorable.

  2. I may work retail, but I am actually an incredibly shy person. I do not often reach out to people and I am quite oblivious when others are paying me any sort of attention. My story goes all the way back to middle school. It is a roller-coaster of random strangers.
    When I was in middle school I played a card game, YuGiOh, with my friends. We were not competitive about it at all; we would just build random decks to play during lunch and have fun. One of the great things about the game was all the collectible merchandise separate from the cards: t-shirts, pins, action figures, and video games. I collected a variety of this merchandise to display the pride and joy I felt from my hobby. I usually wore the pins on the lapel of my coats or jackets.
    My mother always took us to get new shoes just before the school year started. We always checked a variety of places for the best deals and discounts. It can be quite chilly in the late summer or early autumn here in Oregon, so I was wearing a nice big coat. That year, our quest led us to Big 5. My sisters and I all picked out our shoes and headed up to the front to check out.
    The gentleman at the front counter took notice of my pins, at the time I was wearing five of them. He asked if I played the game. I confirmed his suspicions, so he gave me a business card and told me that they often hold YuGiOh tournaments on Saturdays.
    That was the first time I had ever heard of Castle Hill Games. I had no idea there was a place you could go to play trading card games other than school. When you are in middle school, the only point of going is to see your friends and to avoid getting yelled at by your parents.

    1. The first time I showed up for a tournament, my mom dropped me off, I had my deck in hand, I was ready to play, and no one else was there for it. All the other YuGiOh players had gone to Medford for an event there. I sat by myself at a table and fiddled with my cards, unsure of what to do. I did not wish to leave, I had only just arrived; however, I was too shy to approach anyone else and see what they were doing.
      About thirty minutes later, I was approached by this huge guy in a black trench coat. He had a beard and blue eyes. He said, "You look bored and lonely. Wanna role-play with us?"
      I did not know what a Role-Playing-Game was. I did not know what Dungeons & Dragons or RIFTS was. But I was excited to try something new, so I agreed and played GURPS for the first time that day. I built a new character and we started on a high-fantasy adventure. I was playing a thief who was masquerading town as a painter. There were six people other than me in the group, including the game-master. I bought my first dice set and we played for hours. We met five or six times after that to continue playing.
      On the third or fourth time we played game, one of the other players and I were chatting before game started. Hew as flirting with me, but at the time I did not realize it. After several minutes of conversation, he finally asked, "You know I am Gay, right?"
      I was astonished and realized that he made the same mistake so many had before him. He thought I was a boy. In middle school I had a very flat chest, slim frame, short hair, and wore loose, baggy clothes. I immediately responded to him, "You know I am a girl, right?"
      The shock on his face was priceless, and he said quite simply, "Oh."
      We preceded to continue our role-playing game after that.
      One week when I showed up for GURPS, no one else was there for it. Apparently there had been some kind of scheduling problem. It was a Friday at about 6pm. Again, I did not wish to leave, but was too shy to approach anyone else to see what they were doing.
      A third time, a total stranger decided to approach me. They asked if I liked card-games, and when I said yes they told me about Magic:The Gathering. They threw some cards together for me into a deck and taught me the basics. I played MTG for the first time that night, in the weekly Friday Night Magic Tournament. I did not do particularly well, but I had a lot of fun.
      That is how I got into gaming as much as I do.

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    3. Wow. Small world. I play Magic at Castle Hill too. This this really awesome chick who works there called Cierra. You should totally look her up.

      She doesn't look like a boy ;) (In all seriousness though, that story CRACKED ME UP. Apparently I need to get into D & D to get some better stories...)

  3. Hi Aimee, OMG, I love your story. Something similar happened to me, but here is what happened with my author brain: I had visited an extremely close family friend in the hospital, my BFF's father who I had known since I was 3 years old. Sadly, he died a few days later. On the way out of the hospital parking lot, I drove by a landscaping crew. One of the guys had long blond hair - he was the spitting image of one my characters in the book I was writing. The overwhelming desire to jam on my breaks and ask him if he wanted to be my cover model gripped me hard. Should I stop? Will he think I'm nuts? How does a 40-something woman ask a 20-something random guy to model for her without coming off like a crazy cougar married author? Well...I didn't stop. But the question followed me for 3 months until it became my next book, Caught Up In Raine, which releases in April 2016. Find out what happens when a widowed 40s romance writer stops her car and asks a hot 20s something landscaper to be her cover model. I guarantee the story is much better than what would have happened to me :-)