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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.
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.
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.
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.
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: 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.
My recent release Ties That Bind is once again available at major retailers!
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.
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.
With the closing of Less Than Three Press, I had to decide what to do with the titles I’d had with them.
For one, it was easy. Ties That Bind released in April, and it didn’t take much thinking to want to get that out again as soon as possible. It should require minimal editing and work, and I spent some time today loading it on Amazon and on Smashwords – I’m not to the point where I can make accounts with ALL the individual vendors – so hopefully by Monday it will be back for people to buy it! (Links will be updated then.)
Sharing a Pond was a harder decision. It came out four years ago, and I’m not the same author I was then. But I LOVE that cover and I love that book, so I didn’t want it lost to the Couldn’t-Be-Bothereds. The decision was made.
I’m reading through Sharing a Pond and fixing it up a bit. Now, this isn’t a complete overhaul – all the major plot points and dramas still unfold (unless I get farther in and realize Past Me was a fool) – but I am smoothing out the language a lot, and cleaning up issues I realized in retrospect (or were kindly pointed out to me). Mostly minor actions/language that made certain characters seem a bit more like jerks than I’d intended. The story is the same, I’m just adjusting a few things with four years of knowledge under my belt.
The re-release of this title will depend on how edits go and how the publishing process goes in general (I’m going to make sure it’s available in print as well as digital).
In some ways this process is very eye-opening. The edits I’m making, while not major, are rather extensive. It really shows how I’ve improved as an author* in the past few years, and I think I’ll be prouder of having this new (nearly identical) version on shelves.
It also makes me wonder in four more years, how I’ll feel looking back at the writing I’m doing today.
* I will admit that Sharing a Pond was written while I was still recovering from a brain injury, so some of the language issues could be related to that – none of it was nonsense, but my mastery of English was no what it could have been.
It’s been a long, long while since I had a really relaxing weekend (where I relaxed rather than slipped into a unproductive puddle). This weekend was one of those weekends. I’m still flipping out about the writing funk, but I’m using the time to do things rather than obsessive over it too much.
- As mentioned prior, I’m re-reading Sunshine by Robin McKinley. It’s been a while since I read for pleasure and actually found the reading to be an intense pleasure. I had begun wondering if I’d lost enjoyment of reading. This has reminded me that maybe I do still love it but I’m not picking books that really grab me.
- I watched a ton of anime (only 2-4 episodes of each, which is how I consume most things)
– Yakitate!! Japan – This show is very much a precursor to the more modern Food Wars, and it suffers a little from me having already seen Food Wars and the humor being dated. It’s sub-only, and really slow, but kind of enjoyable if you just go with the flow.
– Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing – I probably should have rewatched the first series, but this does stand alone. I generally don’t like anime with a ton of young girls, but this handles it well, has them be strong and mostly not annoying, and while slow-moving, it’s involving politics and war, so is fitting (and matches the first series in this).
– Magical Girl Raising Project – I’m really enjoying this, although before recommending it, I’d warn that it’s dark! Viewers of Madoka Magica will probably find this a natural fit, although I’m enjoying this more, as the writing feels tighter and the characters more enjoyable/relatable to me (possible because we get more variety).
– Spice and Wolf – I’m not particularly in love with this show, although I’m only two episodes in. It doesn’t fall into the “naked wolf girl” problem (thankfully), but it does suffer heavily from talking head syndrome (which is a neat trick in a visual medium!). I think my issue is that the guy is okay and the goddess is on the other side of okay, so I’m not really engaged in them, so their talking heads are boring and talking at me rather than inviting me to contemplate with them.
- It’s really expensive to have 1 niece and 2 nephews with the same birthday and then an honorary nephew born the day after (5 years later). I got a lot of shopping done. My wallet wept 😀 (And that had nothing to do with the oh this yarn is on sale, I swear).
- A good chunk of my weekend was spent reading the Changeling: The Dreaming core book and plotting. And then replotting. Painting stones. Rereading that one section. Wondering if I actually know how to play games at all, really.
I’ll get back to editing and writing in serious form soon enough, I hope, but this was a much-needed break from reality, where I got in touch with my roots.
I’ve been mired in a bit of writer’s bog, and one Nano thought led to another, and I was reminded of a story I wrote that probably needs completely redone. It’s a vampire story (sorta), so I decided a reread of one of my favorite vampire stories was due. The book is Sunshine by Robin McKinley, and since I read it pre-concussion, I remember absolutely nothing about it except liking it and there’s vampires. (I forgot she was a baker, that’s how much I forgot.)
This is only discussing the first ten pages or so (before the first scene break), which if you haven’t read the book, can probably be found in an online excerpt.
What’s interesting to me as a writer, is that McKinley does a few things that if this were submitted to a writers’ group, might be marked as no-nos:
- the first seven pages are blocks of text (no dialogue)
- these seven pages are pretty much an info dump
And yet it works for the story, and as an entertaining read. Because while the reader is being given lots of information (her job, her boyfriend, her family…and more about her job), there are a lot of hints of things to come, and it works more to paint a picture of her world rather than just dump the information on the reader’s lap. But it’s a fine line, which McKinley succeeds in toeing. Obviously if you read the blurb, you know this is supernatural/vampires. If not, the first scene hints of this with “cockroaches the size of chipmunks” and “Other law” then hinting a bit more with “Voodoo Wars” and “bad places around the lake” before the very last word is “vampires.”
Not all of the first scene would be considered info dump, but looking at the parts that could be considered that (if not masterfully handled) shows how it can be done.
- Hint at something more than is being presented
- Have the information dump contrast with the something more (ie, mundane info when there’s something supernatural lurking in the background)
- Use the info dump to introduce the reader to the narrative voice/tone of the story, weaving in information about the character’s personality while seemingly just presenting facts.
- Make the information interesting on its own, but not quite interesting enough that the reader wants the story to be about that.
At least those are my thoughts on it. If you’ve read (and enjoyed) Sunshine, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the first scene and what works/doesn’t work for you!