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Redoing this post again due to some new additions.
  • The Artist's Touch and Tested in Fire by EJ Russell
I really don't know what it is about these books in particular, but I am such a fan of Luke Morgenstern and Stefan Cobb(e) and their relationship, which manages to feel conflicted but not in a gratuitously melodramatic way. Also, the writing in these books is phenomenal.
  • Rule of Thirds by Aidan Wayne
My favorite soft, gentle PTSD recovery book ever (outside of my own work, of course *cough*). I've had problems with Wayne's writing style in the past, but it seems much more engaging in this book.
  • The Witch Stone by Jasmine Hong
My go-to recommendation for books about QPOC by QPOC (outside of myself). It's just a really cool urban fantasy novella.

Honorary mentions
  • Empty Net by Avon Gale
I'm really, really iffy about the demisexual rep, but this is probably my favorite cheerful character/grumpy character romance. Also, it made me interested in hockey, so there's that.
  • All the Wrong Places by Ann Gallagher
I...feel kind of bad not having an ownvoices ace book as my favorite (I can't count my own stuff :P), plus I'm more hesitant about recommending this book because of some Bad Things the author did. But sex-averse asexual romances are still so rare that this still has to be my favorite. Sigh.
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Pyre at the Eyreholme Trust by Lin Darrow

Genre: 1920s fantasy; M/NB pairing with genderfluid character

This novella was really well-written and the heist was fun...but for some reason, I put it down at the 1/3 mark for half a year and only picked it up again when I had nothing else to read, so I have no idea how to rate this.

Rule of Thirds by Aidan Wayne

(Content warnings: PTSD, implied past torture, implied past sexual assault)

Genre: Science fiction; M/M/M pairing

Aw, I liked this. This book is straight-up PTSD coping hurt/comfort for about 50k words (with a low-steam M/M/M pairing). If that's not what you're looking for, you're likely to be disappointed, but if that's exactly what you want, I recommend this read.

Adrift by Isabelle Adler

(Content warnings: PTSD, torture)

Genre: Science fiction; M/M pairing (bisexual & demisexual leads)

Hm. I have mixed feelings about this book, so I guess my rating would be about 3/5 stars?

I liked elements of this space sci-fi, but I also felt like there was so much description that, ironically, I couldn't picture a lot of it. I'm the kind of reader who really needs concise description over long and comprehensive in order to be able to picture things vividly.

I...didn't really like the demisexual rep so much in that (1) it was linked to genetically engineered humans, and I'm not sure if I'm overreacting, but I feel a similar kind of discomfort as I would feel for books that connect asexuality to aliens or non-human-ness; (2) the non-ace MC kept obtrusively trying to get into the demi character's pants, including by getting him drunk, which was just all sorts of uncomfortable to read; (3) unnecessary jokes about how dying a virgin is the worst thing ever (sigh).

(Side note: It was really weird that this space sci-fi had zero POC.)
rainwaterspark: Image of Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton wielding a bow and arrow from Assassin's Creed III (assassin's creed iii bow and arrow)
I'm very nearly done with Novel #3. I pretty much need to get off my lazy butt and fill in the handful of remaining gaps, then do a (final?) read-through myself in order to fill in some details and correct any outstanding prose issues. And that should bring me to #DVPit in April.

(I also should be—finally—hearing back about Novel #2 from my publisher soon...)

And...I'm already thinking about my next book. I've decided which of the 2 ideas I had before to move forward with.

Now, I'm definitely not going to write my next book at nearly the same speed as #3 (60k words in 2 months? Never doing that ever again). In fact, Novel #4 is going to have to be carefully outlined before I begin writing—my first time doing so ever (which is going to be an adventure). Which should also mean that the actual writing stage should be easier than what I'm used to, since I shouldn't be half making up things as I go along. And to avoid burnout, I'm going to write it slowly.

(I've probably mentioned this before, but a large part of why I wrote Novel #3 so quickly was that I wanted to "get it over with," so to speak, so that I could go back to trying to write YA.)

The interesting thing about the idea for Novel #4 right now is that it's an idea that has series potential, but for now, I only want to concentrate on writing one book. To see if it's even *possible* for me to break into traditional publishing.
rainwaterspark: Image of Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton wielding a bow and arrow from Assassin's Creed III (assassin's creed iii bow and arrow)
#PersuasionWIP: 60k words


...and I'm not even done! XD

So, I have all the major scenes/additions down now, I think, though I still have a couple of smaller holes to patch over that should bring the total word count over 60k (but probably not by much).

I'm going to try to stitch up the remaining holes this weekend. My first beta reader should also finish soon. If I don't need any/many substantial revisions, I can begin contacting my second beta reader and polishing this thing in time for late April!
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Here is the thing about depression: Being depressed means you don't have the same capacity for dealing with bad stuff as you can when you're mentally healthy. It still amazes me to this day that I can bounce back within a few hours of feeling down about something, whereas I know that when I was depressed, it would have been the end of the world.

(I never take that for granted, because I always live being afraid that depression can rear its head again some time in my future.)

So...it's been hard for me to deal with the fact that I've had a lot of marketing failures for my first (published) novel. But at this point, I know I have to look ahead. I'll always love that novel so much, because of how personal it is to me, but I can't force other people to read or like it. I can only control my writing career going forward.

I like making lists when I have a lot of things on my mind, so here it is:

1. Apply to new day job(s). I'm in a bit of a pickle recently because my current employment situation has turned south very fast. This *should* be my number one priority at the moment.

2. Finish Novel #3. As I mentioned before, I'm gearing up to use this one to foray back in the world of traditional publishing and querying agents. And I think--I *hope*--that I have something special enough to catch their attention. First, though, I have to polish this manuscript to make it shine in time for April.

3. Decide on my next big novel project. Yeah, maybe I shouldn't be thinking about this while I'm in the editing stage for another big novel...but dammit, I want to be prepared in case Novel #3 also gets rejected by tradpub. And I have two promising ideas that should be absolutely suited for tradpub. I just have to decide which one of them I want to focus on.

4. Work on another M/M romance as a Wattpad project?? I've mentioned before that I do not see myself being able to develop my career in continuing to write queer romance. Also, I'm wary about trying to publish a queer book with a trans lead knowing that I cannot ever be out as anything other than cis (plus my gender is kind of a big question mark that I'm not sure I'll be able to resolve, anyway). But I've gotten an intriguing idea recently that I am interested in playing with. So, the solution I've come up with is to work on this story casually, as something to do when I need a mental break from other things, and post it on somewhere like Wattpad or AO3.

...The problem is that I am absolutely terrible at writing stories serially. X'D I'm the kind of writer who treats initial drafts as opportunities to further think through the story by writing; I'm also the kind of writer who generally writes out of order and needs to do a ton of editing to flesh out details/correct inconsistencies. I guess I could write a coherent draft and then post chapters as I edit them, but that seems like a *little* bit more of a time commitment than I'm ready for with what's intended to be a public domain story. Eh, we'll have to see.

And that's my plan for right now! (Watch a new story idea come along next week and throw a wrench into everything, though...)
rainwaterspark: Image of Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton wielding a bow and arrow from Assassin's Creed III (assassin's creed iii bow and arrow)
In 2018, I barely wrote anything. It's partially understandable because I spent a lot of 2018 studying for standardized exams. I did expand a bit on Novel #2 to make it novel-length, and I wrote about 20k words on a Romeo and Juliet retelling that ended up not going anywhere. I started freaking out due to having months of writer's block, though at the end of the year, I started working on some new projects that I was hopeful I could finish.

2019, so far, has been the exact opposite.

It almost feels as though my brain has decided to make up for the "drought" of 2018 by spitting so many ideas at me. Too many to keep up. On top of those WIPs from the end of 2018, I wrote and am editing a novel that looks like it's going to hit 60k, and then my brain has been like "How about space sci-fi? Oh, and how about a contemporary romance with a trans character?"

Seriously. I. Can't. Keep. Up.

It's honestly a bit exhausting, because when I get a new idea, I usually crest on a bit of a "high" while I tinker with it, until I can decide whether to finish it for not. And as I've said in a previous entry, I'd really rather try to steer away from writing adult queer romance anymore (I say, as I continuously fight the tidal urge to write more M/M romances).

From a logical standpoint, I have to focus on editing Novel #3, my 58k book that will probably break 60k once I'm done editing, so I can get it ready for more beta readers and for pitching during #DVpit in April. Everything else can wait until after.

But after...i'm no longer sure what to focus on. My (unfortunately) neglected YA fantasy from the end of 2018? The new space sci-fi idea (possibly YA, though I originally formulated it as Adult) kicking around in my head? Something else entirely, given the pace at which my brain keeps spitting ideas at me???

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It's...interesting to me that there is such a huge emphasis on having #ownvoices queer stories (especially #ownvoices trans stories), but there's nowhere near the same level of attention to the idea that stories about QPOC should be #ownvoices instead of written by white queer authors.

(By "interesting," I mean "I'm ready to flip a table about this.")

And now I want to talk about the #ownvoices idea generally.

#ownvoices means a very different thing when applied to race as applied to queerness. Race is a binary: either you are a person of color or you aren't. And although there are white-passing POC, it often can be fairly obvious whether someone is or isn't a POC.

Queerness, on the other hand, is not nearly as obvious. Both because there are definite pressures for people not to be open about their queerness, as well as because sexuality and gender can be nebulous.

For example, I don't know whether I am cis or nonbinary. Either way, I cannot afford to openly declare myself as trans/nonbinary. But then do I dare to write stories about trans characters, possibly as a way to explore my own gender, when I know people will assume I am cis and therefore not writing an #ownvoices trans story?

Honestly, I'm against how nebulous #ownvoices has become in regard to queer stories. For example, I don't think bisexual women should say that stories about bisexual men are #ownvoices. I don't think aroace male writers should say M/M stories are #ownvoices.

I definitely don't think white queer writers should ever, ever say stories about QPOC are #ownvoices.

This is NOT to say I don't think bisexual women should ever be able to write bisexual men, etc. This is simply to say that I believe simply being any kind of queer does not excuse any writer from self-reflecting about why they're writing a story not about their own specific identity.

(With the exception of white authors writing QPOC.)
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(Trigger warning: The following post discusses sexual assault used as a plot device, and the specific example of sexual assault comes from a book that features childhood sexual assault between an adopted parent and child. If any of this is triggering for you, please take care of yourself.)

Previously, there has been heavy criticism of men who use sexual assault of women to motivate male protagonists. Nowadays, sexual assault is used in other ways—by women and nonbinary authors, of male characters, in ways claimed to be #ownvoices narratives.

But in my experience as a reader, by and large, sexual assault narratives still lean heavily on “shock factor” presentation, often to shock both the reader and the survivor’s love interest.

Let's talk about The Fever King by Victoria Lee (which I read early courtesy of Amazon First Reads).

See TWs above. Also, spoilers, even though I don't believe sexual assault/CSA should ever be treated as spoiler content. )
rainwaterspark: Image of Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton wielding a bow and arrow from Assassin's Creed III (assassin's creed iii bow and arrow)
#PersuasionWIP: 56k / 60k words

I just added a chapter, but I'm conflicted about whether it's been integrated properly or whether it breaks up the flow. T_T

At least my beta reader should be starting soon, so I'll be able to get a second opinion!
rainwaterspark: Image of Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton wielding a bow and arrow from Assassin's Creed III (assassin's creed iii bow and arrow)
#PersuasionWIP: 53k

I'm fairly confident now that the final draft can reach 60k.

I took a day off for a "brain cleanse" by working on—of all things—a Captain America fanfic (I legit haven't written one of those in years), and it worked wonders. Now I'm all refreshed and ready to dive back into my manuscript.

I'm still waiting for my beta reader to help me fill in the remaining plot gaps, but right now I'm trying to flesh out some of the details and dig deeper into the characters' emotions.
rainwaterspark: Image of Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton wielding a bow and arrow from Assassin's Creed III (assassin's creed iii bow and arrow)
#PersuasionWIP: 52k / 60k words

So...technically, there are still a few holes left to fill for this to be a "complete" first draft.

And I might want to add another chapter.

But I think I've reached the point at which I'm so burned out and exhausted that I'll call this "finished for now."


I'm going to take a break for a few days, and then possibly do a little editing. Mostly, though, I'm waiting for my beta reader to become available so they can help me patch up the big holes and give me their big-picture thoughts so I can be confident I've actually accomplished what I set out to do.
rainwaterspark: Image of Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton wielding a bow and arrow from Assassin's Creed III (assassin's creed iii bow and arrow)
#PersuasionWIP: 51k / 60k


I'm not confident about reaching 60k, though most of my novels elongate by quite a lot during the editing stage, so I guess anything is possible!

(My guess is the first draft will wrap up somewhere between 52-55k.)
rainwaterspark: Image of Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton wielding a bow and arrow from Assassin's Creed III (assassin's creed iii bow and arrow)
#PersuasionWIP: 45k / 50-60k

I'm. So. Freaking. Close.

50k. 50k is my target for the first draft.

If it goes over that, I will be *ecstatic*.

I want to hope I can finish/get close to finishing over the weekend, but Other Obligations may arise...and next weekend, my sister is visiting, so I dunno.

rainwaterspark: Image of Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton wielding a bow and arrow from Assassin's Creed III (assassin's creed iii bow and arrow)
#PerusasionWIP: 42k / 50-60k

Still doing the final push to wrap up the first draft for beta readers. Still not sure if the final thing can manage to break 60k.

I'd be more confident that I could wrap up the story quickly if I had like, a week off from work. T_T
rainwaterspark: Image of Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton wielding a bow and arrow from Assassin's Creed III (assassin's creed iii bow and arrow)
#PersuasionWIP: 40k / 50-60k

WELP. I have now reached 40k and still have a lot to fill in, so scratch what I said in my last entry.

So...now I guess the first draft will be done somewhere between 45-50k. That's pretty good. Maybe 60k is a reachable target after all? *crosses fingers*

(Also, I wrote 40k in 3 weeks??? WHO TF AM I)
rainwaterspark: Image of Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton wielding a bow and arrow from Assassin's Creed III (assassin's creed iii bow and arrow)
#PersuasionWIP: 35k 37k / 50k?

I *think* I've reached the point at which I want to try to fast-draft this to tentative completion and then get some ideas from my beta readers.

So if I do that, I estimate the tentative first draft will end up around 40k, so it should reach 50k after editing.

My problem is that apparently for traditional pub, 60k is more of a minimum instead of 50k, and I'm not sure if I can reach that benchmark.

*shrug* We'll see.
rainwaterspark: Image of Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton wielding a bow and arrow from Assassin's Creed III (assassin's creed iii bow and arrow)
Novel #5 / #PersuasionWIP: ~29k 31k / 50k words

I'd hoped to get more writing done this MLK day and possibly hit 30k, but that might not be possible since some family issues have come up today. (Edit: lol jk, I hit 30k)

Anyway...wow, almost 30k and I still have a week left in January? 30k in a month is already impressive for me. I don't know whether I'll hit 40k or not by the end of the month. We'll have to see!

I think I've hit the point at which I have all of the major scenes down, or at least decided on, so from here on out it'll be mostly the slog part of the process, AKA linking all the scenes together and figuring out transitions.

Will I be able to finish this manuscript by some time in February??? I don't want to jinx my luck... Hopefully the first draft comes out as close to 50k as possible. Finishing in February would not only be a relief for me (since I've teetered perilously close to burnout by writing this fast, and I need a break after finishing this manuscript), but it would also leave plenty of time for me to be able to catch #DVpit in April.

But again, I probably shouldn't be thinking about this stuff in case I jinx myself. XD (Also, I often slow down anyway after hitting 20k words or so since the process becomes less about writing major scenes and more about transitions and stuff.)
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Novel #5 / #queerromanceWIP: 15k ~ 24k / 50k words

Jotting down my status now because there are already some parts I need to rewrite, so some cuts are incoming.

(Also, I don't know what to code-name this project. #queerromanceWIP? #PersuasionretellingWIP??)
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Novel #5: 12k ~ 20k / 50k

Why the range? It's because I had been trying to write this story in chronological order, but then ended up writing bits out of order again. So, when everything is added up, I think the total would actually come out to roughly 20k.

I haven't written at this speed since I was unemployed, and I think I'm already feeling the physical burnout. So tonight, I'm enforcing a break...and going to do my best to limit my screen time. If I can. Gulp.
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Novel #5: ~ 10k / 50k? words

I think it's safe to say the only reason I managed about 10k words in a week was that this was a slow work week for me, so I actually did a lot of writing at work.

(I haven't written at this speed for a LONG time, and I'm hoping I'm not already starting to burn out.)

I think I haven't actually talked about this project yet, so let me do so.

This is a contemporary romance (whaaaaat??). It's a retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion. So, you know, I have the basic plot outlined already. (Though I really need to watch a Persuasion movie to refresh my memory on the details.)

If I have any doubt about whether I can finish this story, it's because it's contemporary, which has traditionally been kind of a No Man's Land for me. (I did try writing a contemporary romance last year, which was also a retelling of a classical story, but I dropped it after around 20k words.)

While I am...let's say not too thrilled about putting my other projects (especially my YA fantasy) on the backburner, because of the speed at which this story is coming together, I think it might be worth trying to finish this draft first. 20k is usually the make-or-break point for me, though—in other words, the point at which I either drop a project or continue to the end—so we'll have to wait and see.

Tentative deadline...I'm going to say by the end of March for now. Is it doable? I have no idea, but I'll aim for that.

(Also, assuming I meet that deadline, would I be able to polish it up for #DVpit in April? Who knows??)


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