On the Shelf

^ I hate creating blog titles

I realized that I haven’t done any updates since the new year, and we’re now in March. Whoops.

After I finished one of my side projects, I hit a bit of a writing stagnation, which I followed up with doing the heavy revisions that needed to be done to The Miracle Man. That felt AWESOME (after avoiding them for a year, what), but was followed by another stagnant period where I didn’t know what I wanted to do next.

All of the things and none of the things and should I stop writing romance and yet as soon as I think that I want to do nothing but write romance. It wasn’t conducive to writing, to say the least!

However, I have been doing a bit of reading, which has been a whole different struggle in life #AlexWhining.

After watching all the Father Brown available on Netflix, I picked up the copy of The Innocence of Father Brown that I had lying around, since that character was the inspiration for the show. It’s very different, of course (they updated the show to after World War II, rather than early 1900s), but I can definitely see the character inspiration (as well as some of the story plots). It’s one of those books that I pick up once in a while, but I don’t think I could read through. Thankfully the stories all mostly stand alone, so they are easy to pick up and put down. They’re all also rather slow-moving, so stopping in the middle of a story doesn’t hurt much either.

I’m perpetually in the middle of The Left Hand of Darkness, and I’m not sure why I’m struggling to get through, except that I have such high expectations for it that if I don’t love it, I’ll feel like I let everyone down. Anxiety is weird.

I started Stephen Fair when I failed to read more of Left Hand and thought a YA novel might fix that. I was doing good, and then a m/f love interest was introduced and I lost interest. I don’t think it’s going to be problematic as my first impression gave, so I’ve been reading a little bit at a time, but while the idea has hooked me, we’re fumbling around in the real world too much and I need to sit down and just read it!

Black Torn, White Rose is my most recent purchase. It’s a collection of “adult” fairy tales by various authors. It’s a nice dose of short fiction in semi-familiar worlds (and settings I enjoy). I’ve read through two stories and look forward to the next. I’ll probably end up finishing this book first, because the short stories are engaging and easy reads and encourage me to pick up the next one.

Finally, this old “family” cookbook from the fifties isn’t really a “read” but I went through and found recipes that might actually be edible (spoiler, I skipped all the entrees). Maybe these bread recipes will work for me!

New Year, New…

If you’re anything like me, you don’t need the turning of a new year to make and break resolutions. But it’s nice to do it all together, isn’t it?

Yada, yada get fit.

Yada, yada watch less TV.

I’m continuing my “monthly goals” (which I hit only slightly more accurately than yearly ones!). I’m trying to up my writing word count and actually hit 120,000 in a year (or 10K a month). Not all those words are going to get published, and some of them are for other side projects not connected to my name, but writing is writing!

One serious goal is to submit The Miracle Man. Which means finally finishing revisions. Which I haven’t touched since….November? I’m a work in progress…

Currently I’ve been using my morning writing time to try to brainstorm the end of a different story (that is only 1/3 written) and takes place in the same world as Mark of the Familiar and Gift of the Familiar, but about a hundred and fifty years in the future (ie, our modern day, assuming similar timelines). I’m excited about this story and the characters (some of whom were not originally supposed to be as important as they are), but something’s hinky and I need to thinky.

So if anyone would like to wave their magic wand and resolve my issues, I’d much appreciate it.

Hard Truths on KU

Isaac didn’t expect to find love at his family’s Christmas dinner, but that was before he met his sister’s new fake boyfriend. Tall, muscular, and tattooed, Logan is what Isaac would love in a partner—and also everything his parents would hate in one. Not that they know Isaac’s gay.

That doesn’t stop him from dating Logan—unbeknownst to his parents, and with his sister’s approval after she fake dumps him. The pair dive into a whirlwind romance of motorcycle rides, cheesy puns, and hot sex. They meet each other’s friends and fill their time with happiness and laughter. It’s all perfect.

Until Isaac suggests they move in together, and Logan asks Isaac to come out to his parents. Isaac wants to, but he’s scared; he doesn’t want to lose his family. Unfortunately, he can’t see that his real family has been right beside him all along.

Christmas freebie!

I’ve written several blog posts since my last one, but they’ve all been in my head. Which doesn’t help you, but it keeps tricking me into thinking I update this more than I do!

The last few weeks have been busy: not only do I have the holidays (and holiday shopping) to contend with, but I also have been running a tabletop game and prepping all the feed for my riding instructor. She needed to have retina surgery, and I was up for the task. But it also means driving 20 minutes to the barn 3 days a week to mix feed (and supplements) for 15 horses, and sometimes (most times) taking care of all the evening chores (with help).

Whew. I don’t mind helping out, and it has really made me appreciate all the work she does, but I’ll be glad when she can return to work!

For the holidays, I released Two of a Kind, which is a short asexual romance about two boyfriends who are home for Christmas and haven’t come out to each other yet. It’s sweet and dorky and will hopefully bring you a little smile. Plus it’s short, so it’s easy to read among the hectic holiday season!

It’s “pay what you want” on Smashwords, which means you can get it for free or you can give me a little present.

Happy holidays!

Quietly writing…

Back in the beginning half of the year, I was working on a project I was super excited about. I was so excited, in fact, that I broke one of my cardinal rules: don’t talk too much about a project.

One of the reasons I have this rule is because it gives my audience expectations of something coming, and I don’t want to let anyone down. A few teases? People will likely forget. A tweet every day for a month? They’ll remember that (hopefully).

The other reason is the same reason I previously never outlined/plotted stories, and even now have to be very careful: if I know too much about the story, my brain decides the story has been told/heard/figured out and doesn’t need to be written. (I do not agree with my brain on this, but ultimate the brain wins.)

So a month of following a hashtag and answering questions about my story and plotting it out…

And I found a little plot hole in my planned outline, and I tried to think of a solution. And I thought and thought and eventually wore that story out in my brain. It’s not dead, I don’t think, but it’s also not in an exciting part of my brain where I have to write it down.

So I set it aside (and barely wrote for several months….), and when I started my new piece, I’ve said not a thing. I know it’s silly and superstitious, but that seems safer than risking it, right?

The new piece was mostly started on a lark, a “what would happen if I took this setting that takes place in a Victorian-esque world and put it in the modern day?” And I started writing, just throwing whatever I wanted at it. No plotting, just adding pieces as they came. Some plots have begun to appear, but I’m not thinking too far in advance.

It was supposed to be a straightforward “MC meets LI” story, but then the LI has this friend and the MC has a weird connection with the friend as well, so now I have no idea where these folk are taking me. This is a truly magical world 😀

So we’ll see where it goes, we’ll hope that I’ll be more diligent on working on my revisions, and if everyone could send me some positive vibes to get through this dark, cold season with my depression, I’d greatly appreciate it.

Review: Given (anime)


Somehow, the guitar that he used to love to play and the basketball games that he found so fun just lost their appeal… That was until Ritsuka Uenoyama randomly met Mafuyu Sato. Ritsuka had started losing his passion for music in his everyday life, but then he hears Mafuyu sing for the first time. The song resonates with his heart and the distance between them starts to change.



I had no idea what to expect going into this show, except for the fact that it would be gay and about a band, but it was so much more than that.

First off, if you’re looking for classic yaoi with its tropes, over-the-top dramatics, and awkward power dynamics, this will not hit the mark for you. While this show is undeniably gay (there are several m/m kisses and relationships), and it is following the relationship of several men, the relationship itself isn’t the driving impetus for the story.

In fact, while the band plays an integral part to the story and the characters, it’s not the driving impetus either. Both Ritsuka and Mafuyu’s relationship and the band are more like vehicles to explore Mafuyu’s…journey. And that journey has a lot of twists, and a heavy dose of reality. It’s fantastic.

Reasons to watch:
1. Realistic portrayal of queer men.
2. Positive portrayal of being queer, with supportive friends.
3. Realistic depiction of mental health issues and topics like depression, suicide, and abuse.
4. Complicated relationships in both the main pairing and several side characters, whether those relationships are romantic or friendship.
5. It’s dark and at times very heavy, but ultimately uplifting. You go on an emotional journey with the characters.
6. Unlike most band anime, you are not forced to listen to the full length of the “main” song repeatedly in every episode as the band comes together.
7. The art is pretty while staying realistic with a dash of humor thrown in.

Downsides:
1. Currently sub-only (although I have my fingers crossed!)
2. It’s a slower-paced show, especially in the beginning.
3. Trigger warnings for (highlight to view):

suicide, overdose, family abuse.

As I told my friend, this felt like a combination of Kids on the Slope with Sweet Blue Flowers (and a dash of Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad thrown in).

A+ Would recommend to anyone with taste.

Review: Magical Girl Raising Project (anime)

When I first saw this title advertised, all I could think was how obviously perfect it was for my friend who loves all things magical girl. But a cast of all girls is generally not for me. However, their reviews had me interested, so it got slotted for our regular get-togethers.

And I’m so glad I did. This anime is a fantastic mix of cuteness and darkness, with a look at what happens to these characters as they are put under extreme duress. It’s a large cast, but the show does a fantastic job of building an in-depth character within one episode to help the viewer better understand the character’s motivations and backstory.

The show does rely on some tropes, but never lets that restrain the story, and does an excellent job of dealing with some very dark and heavy subject matter. While not for everyone (there is a fair amount of character death), for anyone who loves magical girls and wants a new (and dark) take on them, this is definitely worth a watch. It’s a fairly short show, but they utilize every minute and keep raising the stakes to keep the viewer on the edge of their seat.

SPOILER WARNING

Spoiler: there are two cannon lesbians who both die, but most of the cast dies, so I cannot hold that against it – plus the relationship was very well handled and portrayed.

New (re)Releases!

My recent release Ties That Bind is once again available at major retailers!

Amazon * B&N * Kobo * Smashwords

For Chel, Tomlin, and Mathias, life is simple but good. They share a home and a love, and despite a few conflicts of personality, are happy. Mathias runs a magic shop, where he makes magic items and potions for his customers, and Tom is his familiar, helping supply his magic. Chel, who’s not magical, works at a bookshop and makes sure dinner is on the table for his lovers.

When Mathias suddenly comes down with a mysterious illness, Chel and Tomlin seek out answers. As Mathias’s familiar, Tomlin can sense that nothing is wrong with the magical parts of him, but when a trip to the doctor’s indicates nothing is wrong with him physically either, they start to worry.

Then Mathias collapses, and the search to find the truth becomes urgent.

In more spectacular news, Sharing a Pond is now on Kindle Unlimited!

This title is much older than Ties That Bind, so I put it through a bit of revision before re-posting it. The book is pretty much exactly the one that was released before (so no need to re-buy it!) but I cleaned up a lot of clunky language, fixed some of the issues that were pointed out (that didn’t require a complete rewrite), and tweaked a few things that in retrospect didn’t work. Some of them are minor changes that create a very different feel for a scene.

(If you previously bought a copy and would like to see/read this new version, drop me an email with a screenshot of the current book and I’ll send a digital copy of the new book.)

The print will be coming shortly. There’s a lot more formatting to fiddle with, and I want to see what it looks like in hard print before I release it to the world.

Brent shows up on Corey and Shane’s doorstep in the dead of winter needing a place to stay—and hopeful his mates will provide it, and not mind he’s a frog shifter.

Being a shifter is nothing new to Corey and Shane, but neither is being mates. They’ve been together since before they first met Brent ten years ago—back when Brent was Brenda. While bringing a third into their relationship is more than a little complicated, they’re willing to try.

But change is always easier said than done, and Brent wonders if he ever really stood a chance at being happy with the men he has always loved and admired.

Review: Hitorijime My Hero (anime)

I started this 12-episode show while pet-sitting for my parents and just finished it last night (before leaving to pet-sit for someone else). It’s based on a Japanese yaoi manga series, but this will just be looking at the anime. Because of the lack of sexual content, I’d place this more as a “boy’s love” story or just plain ol’ romance.

Overall this was a sweet/cute story following four guys (two couples) along with their friends. It was an interesting watch, but it didn’t entice me into “just one more episode” until the last four. Part of this is because while the couples aren’t already established as we start, there is a certain sense of “finding” a relationship that was already there, which removed a lot of the emotional build-up between the characters. (Also the first episode confused me as one character’s hair color changes with a time skip and I mistook him as someone else.)

I will warn that the one couple includes a guy who is in first year HS (roughly 16, I believe) who ends up with a teacher (his friend’s older brother). I’m guessing the age gap is 10 years, which in itself is reasonable but at that age can be problematic for viewers. However, the anime does a good job of handling the age gap problems (as well as addressing student-teacher issues*) and their relationship is sweet rather than sexual, as far as we see.

I hope this show is an indication that more yaoi is moving away from the horrific tropes that make up this genre–while it does include many of the traditional motifs of earlier yaoi, it avoids making the relationships entirely physical; there’s no on-screen sex, if they are having sex at all; and while seme/uke visual tropes might be invoked, there is a stronger sense of actually having consent…which yaoi often ignores. There are a few scenes which are callbacks to the time before consent, but overall it’s much improved from…well, pretty much anything from the ’90s and early 2000s.

If you’re a fan of the genre in general, this is worth a watch as long as you don’t go in expecting the reluctant uke and the domineering(/rapey) seme. The dramas are cute, although very low-key; the final arc hit my emotional notes especially, although your mileage may very. There’s a sprinkling of humor mixed in, the dub was well done, and the art for the most part was enjoyable.

While it didn’t blow me away, I can definitely see myself watching this when I want a sweet relaxing show to play in the background.

* The show brings up the student-teacher issue and has it as a dramatic point, although I’m not sure it really resolves it satisfactorily – unless the last few scenes imply something I missed.