I need the happy ending

Lately I’ve been trying to read outside the romance genre more, which has been an on-going thing from last year, but it hasn’t seen rousing success, and while part of it is just me not sitting down to read, another key road block is that, well, I’m reading outside the romance genre, and in the romance genre, I’m guaranteed a happy ending.

It’s not that I can’t read stories without them (I have in the past, at least), and it’s not like general fiction/fantasy/sci-fi don’t have happy endings a lot of the time. But in this day and age (hah), where it’s cool and edgy to have dark, unsatisfying endings, I’m incredibly cautious of proceeding. Not because I don’t see the use of some of these types of books, but rather, when I read, I experience the emotions of the book, and if the book is going to be depressing, then it’s likely to trigger a depressive episode, and who wants that?

Unfortunately, I’m not sure how much of this roadblock is in my head (again, because I’ve read LOTS of non-romance stories with happy endings), but I know it’s kept me from finishing Left Hand of Darkness and The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion (which is a novella and I really have no excuse).

A little voice in my head is yelling at me to just read some romance, let myself off the hook, and get some reading done rather than tie myself in knots. But I’m so bad at letting myself off the hook.

We’ll see.

Anyway, I have a horse show this weekend, so wish me luck!

Bonk: unarousing

Having read Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, I was interested in what she’d bring to the table when talking about sex. Well-known for her humorous footnotes and glib commentary, she tends to make what could be dry reading into an enjoyable experience.

While Bonk continues the humorous footnotes, glib commentary, and accessibility of content, overall the books fell flat for me. Part of it I think maybe attributed to Roach’s age (she was 52 at year of publication), the fact that the book is 8 years old (and research even older), and–as she points out many times–sex research is difficult to fund, find volunteers for, and explain to your dates. Obviously any research is limited by these factors.

My biggest issue is that the book (as likely the research does) focuses almost exclusively on sex between a cis man and a cis woman. Obviously Roach can only present research that’s available, but a few too many comments throughout made me concerned that it’s not just lack of research but lack of author looking at said research. Aside from mentions of Kinsey’s work, there’s very little about homosexual sex, and almost all of it is shoved in the last chapter, where it discusses a study from 1976, and–without any further research–Roach discusses how obviously heterosexuals caught up to the gays in talking about sex, so thank goodness for that. (The point being that talking about sex will lead to better sex between the participants, but she makes a 40-year leap without any thing to back her up.)

I won’t hold against her the complete lack of discussion about trans individuals, as there likely is limited research. However, if there is limited research, it seems like it should be important to point out, especially when discussing things related to the brain, arousal, etc.

Obviously Roach has to toe the line between producing edu-tainment and paying the bills, so is likely to play to the largest audience, especially if she has pressure from her publisher to do so, but overall I found the book lacking. Anytime the discussion wasn’t strictly medical/scientific, it felt like she was giggling behind her hand, especially at anything that wasn’t heterosexual vanilla sex. My suggestion: It’s worth loaning from the library, but not buying a copy.

On the Shelf

My reading has been sporadic and weird at best, and most of it’s been audiobooks of late. Partially because I’ve been reading less romance (since a lot of it, for me, is tainted by things I see/experience on Twitter, and even authors who I want to read bring up those emotions tangentially), but also because I worry about being too immersed in a genre and wanting to bring “fresh” ideas by tasting other genres. At least that’s the theory 😉

After watching the Series of Unfortunate Events TV show and hearing that there were changes from the books, I was curious. (Oh sure, I could probably find a wiki page about it, but where’s the fun in that.) So far, I’m finding the TV adaptation to be one of the best I’ve seen from a book, and the format Netflix went with was kind of perfect for a youths’ series like this. But more on that as I delve further and more changes are likely to appear. (I just finished The Austere Academy.)

Currently on my nightstand (in real, physical form!) is Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach. I’ve read Stiff by Roach already, so I knew what I was getting into (and I highly recommend reading Stiff if you haven’t, as long as thoughts of death won’t depress/freak out you!)

Bonk was published in 2008 by (as far as I know) a cis straight woman, so in some ways her humor/commentary feels dated and out of the loop for a hella queer reader like myself in 2019. That said, there are still plenty of humorous stories and footnotes, not to mention factoids and historical accuracies that make it enjoyable.

(As an ace person, I sometimes study sex the same way I study religion as an atheist. Is that weird?)

A more thorough discussion once I finish the last 100 pages. Now off to enjoy the sunshine, while it lasts.

Happy New Year…

Do I get extra points for doing this post before the end of January? I think I should…

I’ve been keeping myself busy so far this year with my writing goals (10K again), revising goals (Just do it *swoosh*), reading goals (book a month, that sounds familiar…), and health goals (lose the extra weight I put on over the past few years).

Of course, I’m a writer so you can assume I’m mostly playing mindless app games, watching TV, and talking on social media about how I should be writing…

But I did do revisions on The Miracle Man, which I’m currently looking for a beta reader for:

I’m looking for a beta reader, focusing on pacing/plot issues, for a light fantasy m/m romance (light on magic, heavy on time spent in wagon traveling). 53K, would love feedback by end of month.

Email me if you’re interested!

Premise: A young man with a “knack” for fixing things, becomes apprentice to a miracle man in the hopes of learning how to heal people.

I also finished writing a 50+k contemporary that might never see the light of day (who knows), brainstormed a new fantasy story (disgruntled coworkers to lovers is a thing, right?), started brainstorming a second in the same world as Magic Runs Deep, and I’m reading The Left Hand of Darkness which is good but not light.

So I’m keeping busy. I guess it keeps me out of trouble 😉

Let’s Talk About Expectations

There are many, many things to have expectations for/about in life, but this post is focusing on self-expectations, specifically in regards to goals/resolutions, because these are the expectations we have the most control over.

I set some goals for myself at the beginning of the year and by the second week of February I knew I’d built a pretty high mountain to climb. January went well. Book read, edits done, writing mark hit! Of course I also finished a book, so starting a new one was hard–immediately my word count plummeted. I finished edits, got beta reads, submitted the book…and immediately got developmental edits to do. While I was brainstorming how to fix February’s editing case. So my “edit a book a month” plummeted. Reading one book should be easy, right? But after reading all day, editing various books, and struggling to write, the last thing I wanted was another person’s words in my head. I read one page of a book and switched to another. Read a page of that and put it aside.

What I realized around the middle of the month, was that I might have burnt myself out by being too productive too fast. I need to reassess and adjust accordingly.

Revising: One book a month is kind of crazy, especially depending on how much work needs done. Especially since I edit for a living (duh, Alex). I think if  get 6 books revised this year, I’ll call it a win. It’s still going to be about 5 more books than I did last year!

Writing: Same basic 10K a month, but I think it’ll be a year-end goal of 120,000 instead, which will average out to 10K a month, which is pretty much how I looked back a 2017, so I think it’ll work.

Reading: I might need to “cheat” and read another volume of manga, but I do want to at least hit some of my titles on my to-read list. However, I also want to watch a bunch of anime shows (many of which are subtitles), so I’m giving myself flex here. Kind of a “we’ll see how it goes”. I know it sounds like I’m giving up, but it’s more a matter of “how much can I fit into my free time without feeling like it’s not fun anymore?”

The important thing, for me, is not thinking of the above changes as failing. Goals and resolutions should be flexible, especially in the beginning, so you can improve while also not killing yourself. Because once you start to fail, you give up. But if you lower the bar, then you might end up jumping just as high as you’d first planned, once the stress of failing is removed.

January round-up!

The new year means resolutions, cold weather, and the daylight hours slowly getting longer. I have to say, I’m pretty proud of myself for being on-task for my resolutions so far. But first…

Magic Runs Deep is up on Riptide’s site, available for preorder!! It’s coming in April (SO FAR AWAY)!

For the last five years, Veier has been chained to a king’s throne in his bear form. When a neighboring kingdom overthrows the crown, Veier’s imprisonment ends, but true freedom is not so easily earned. With blood on his hands, he needs someone with patience, strength, and trust to help him become the person he was before and prove to the invaders that he isn’t the monstrous king’s loyal pet.

Elrid, the invading king’s brother and a powerful mage, is everything Veier despises. He’s also the only thing between Veier and execution, because he thinks he can help Veier change from an aggressive bear shifter into a reasonable man. While the pair have a rough start, with long talks and mutual leaps of faith, they begin to care for each other.
However, the closer Veier gets to his freedom, the closer he is to losing Elrid. He must find balance in his heart and his life if he wishes to truly claim the freedom he’s been given—and the man he loves.
I’m really grateful to the artist who made this lovely cover after I gave…less than stellar feedback on what I was looking for.
January has also witnessed me get my first 10k written for 2018, which also matched up with me finishing my current WIP The Miracle Man. This book’s idea started several years ago, as a jotted opening in a notebook that sat unused in my bedside table for several years. Then during a writing slump, I said Well, why not write this, it’s utter bollox, and then everything started flowing. And now it’s done! Er, well, the firs step is. 
I’ve also spent January revising my one manuscript, and I have about 30 pages to go. It’s a contemporary (maybe even a rom-com) with a sexy tattooed biker and his not-as-straitlaced-as-his-parents-think boyfriend. It has playful banter during sex and puns. And a shower scene…
Anyway. I’ve also been reading! (You know…that 1 book a month goal.) I’m on-goal to finish What-the-Dickens by the end of January. It’s not captivating me, but it’s cute. 

New Year, New Resolutions

Last year, my goals were:

I want to keep being better at my fitness ‘program’ and eating habits.
I want to write 10K a month every month.
I’d like to get three things published this year.

I…didn’t do awesome. In fact, I forgot about the first goal completely (or at least I didn’t try harder than I normally do).

I hit 10K roughly ever month. If I add up the months and average them out, it’s about 10,900 words a month.

Three things published? Er. Well…I didn’t think this one through. I submitted three pieces to publishers, and two were accepted. One got feedback, one came out a few weeks ago, and one comes out in April. So I think that counts as a success, even if I didn’t publish three things this year.

And this year?

My goals this year are similar to last year with some additions (and maybe some follow through :D)

1. Write 10K a month. I was originally thinking of upping it to 15K, but after November and December this year, I decided to focus on another resolution:

2. Revise a book a month. Writing is only worthwhile if I actually revise and submit books for publishing. Last year I focused on publishing books, but I think it was too abstract (and much of it out of my control), so this time I want to focus on taking steps to submit books–aka, revise the stuff I write and move it along on the path of publishing!

3. Read at least 12 books. This obviously doesn’t count work stuff, and last year I only squeaked by via manga (specifically What Did You Eat Yesterday?), which isn’t bad but wasn’t what I had in mind. This year I’m picking 12 books from my pile and want to read them:

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin, The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, 10 lb Penalty by Dick Francis, The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan, The Innocence of Father Brown by GK Chesterton, Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, The Black Book of Secrets by FE Higgins, and What the Dickens by Gregory Maguire

I figure some might get replaced by manga, some might get replaced by library books or new finds, but these are some titles on my shelves that seem like I should read or at least might be interesting. I tried for a variety so I wouldn’t get bored or burned out.

(If you’re interested in reading along with me when I start a book, let me know, I’m always looking for reading buddies, and I’m not a fast-paced reader…)

First up will be What the Dickens.

Good luck on your New Year’s Resolutions!