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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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Novel #5: ~5k / 50k? words

I know what you're thinking, which is the same thing I was thinking, which was "Why the hell am I starting ANOTHER novel when I already have 2 WIPs?????"

And to make things worse...it's another queer romance. After I swore off writing queer romances, for the time being, to further my career.

But this is actually a huge topic, so let me back up and explain.

My first two completed novels (one published, one currently seeking publication) were queer romances. I wrote them after I had fallen hard and fast for queer romance, first through fanfiction, then through original fiction when I left the Captain America fandom.

Even though I deliberately left Novel #2 open for a sequel, I consciously made a choice to stop writing queer romance, due to a number of reasons combined:
  • I don't want to--and can't--make a career solely off indie publishing queer romance.
I don't write fast enough for self/indie publishing to ever be significantly profitable for me, plus I'm terrible at self-promotion. Yeah, some queer books are being published by big traditional publishers now--but not enough for me to be confident in continuing to query queer romances after my first unsuccessful try.

It might sound callous that I made this choice as a business decision. But the truth is, I don't have a day job I love enough to soothe the sting if writing isn't a viable career for me.
  • The (indie) queer writing community isn't very friendly to authors of color.
I wouldn't say it's openly hostile, but lack of hostility/overt racism does not equal welcoming. The indie queer writing community is incredibly white-author-dominated, which makes it very hard to bring up issues relating to race. And because it's so white-dominated, many white queer authors feel entitled to write about queer characters of color (rarely ever well) and there aren't enough voices who can speak out against the poor portrayals or appropriation. So I wanted to leave the community.

Okay, you might be thinking, but how come you're still writing another queer romance anyway??

The answer is long and complicated and ends in, "Basically,I don't know."

I often don't control what ideas catch me by the throat and don't let me go until I've written them. Yes, I have felt awkward writing M/M romances as someone who doesn't identify as a (binary) man and couldn't be openly nonbinary even if I'd come to the conclusion that that was my gender identity, but who is attracted to men (though as an asexual and demi/grayromantic person).

And yet. For years, I've felt more comfortable writing male protagonists than female protagonists. I can fill my stories with strong female characters as side characters...but I have a hard time spending a long time in their heads. I tend to gravitate toward writing angsty, conflicted, traumatized characters, and I can only ever write those characters as male. I can't write them as female.

So, naturally, when I write romances involving mentally ill and/or traumatized, angsty characters, they end up being M/M, because I can't make them M/F.

The logical explanation in my head is that I'm too cautious about avoiding problematic gender roles/stereotypes. If a woman is the traumatized one, she is the "weak" one in the relationship who needs a man to take care of her. If a man is the traumatized one, the woman has to shoulder all the emotional labor in order to put him back together.

"But it doesn't have to be this way? Plenty of authors have written these kinds of romances without them being problematic?" you might be thinking. And yes, I know. But for whatever reason, I still can't do it.

I have a hard time writing female characters as being emotional in general. I used to write M/F romances (back when they were all I knew), and they were terrible. But making the leap to M/M has made me far more comfortable with exploring emotion and intimacy.

All of this is stuff I think about and reflect on frequently. Even if I identified as nonbinary, as someone who will never "pass" for male, I don't have the lived experiences that I write about, and I think a lot about why I feel drawn to writing these stories and whether I even should. I believe I have that responsibility, at the very least.

But, like I said, somehow I can't stop. I resolved not to write any more M/M romances and yet I'm still doing it.

So, as I said, the answer boils down to: "Basically, I don't know."
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Novel #4 (Fantasy WIP): 10k / 50-60k words

I think it's safe to say that I'll finish 2018 having penned 10k words for this novel, which isn't terrible. Still not sure yet if 50-60k is an accurate target, but I am writing this book in semi-chronological order and I've only just started Act II (of III), plus it seems like this manuscript is going to grow quite a bit when I go back to add more descriptions and details about the world, so that's good.

I think I've reached the point at which I'm finally able to shut up my inner editor and I'm okay with the first draft being awful since I can go back to edit things later. Fingers crossed that I can finish writing this thing in 2019!

(PS: I'm trying hard not to plan *too* much in advance for this book/series because I definitely intend on trying to get an agent + publishing deal before I even finish writing this trilogy. But I've also been toying with the idea of writing a spin-off prequel. Though that'll definitely be something I save for not only if I get a traditional publisher, but also if these books even sell well...)
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I'm 75% of the way through the story, so this isn't technically a review, but I doubt my thoughts will change too much so I've decided to jot them down now.

Hidden under a cut due to spoilers. (Also, content warning for discussion of sexual assault & childhood sexual abuse.)

(Spoilers) )
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Since I have a difficult time finding fantasy books that I like, in general, I thought I'd make a list of my favorites so I can articulate what I look for in fantasy.

(Note: By "fantasy," what I mean for this list is "alternative world" fantasy, a.k.a. fantasy that doesn't take place on Earth in any fashion. I'm not sure if "epic fantasy" is technically the most accurate label for the books below.)

  • The childhood faves: Tamora Pierce, Garth Nix, T.A. Barron
I haven't reread any of these books in a while, but for me, these were the archtypal examples of fantasy with deep worldbuilding.
  • Of the Abyss by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
I haven't read the other books in this series (yet), but I really enjoyed the level of worldbuilding in this book, especially as the world seemed based on a more early modern Europe rather than medieval Europe.
  • These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch
The best fantasy I've read in recent times in terms of plot and worldbuilding. (It's criminally underrated, in my opinion.)

rainwaterspark: (sonic and the black knight fairytale)
Novel #4: 6k / 50-60k

Welp. Apparently, as soon as I came up with a plan during my last entry, my brain was like "PSYCH, LET'S DO THE OPPOSITE NOW!"

As I mentioned before, Novel #4 is YA fantasy. I think my brain decided to latch onto this one as the most likely candidate to be able to land an agent/publishing deal, so...now I guess I'm working on this one instead.

(Maybe it's also the novelty of doing alt-world fantasy, which I haven't done for a long time, whereas my last couple of projects were contemporary/contemporary-adjacent [e.g. paranormal]?)

I might've mentioned this in my last post (or not, my memory is horrible), but I've been feeling increasing pressure to get to the point at which my writing career can take off. While working on this book, I'm also trying to figure out a way to ease the pressures, because this kind of pressure is not conducive to productivity.

I wrote Novels #1 and #2 for the sheer joy of it, and it's been difficult for me to recapture the same feeling of love and freedom since then. Mostly, though, I need to remind myself that first drafts are supposed to suck and that I can always make things better during editing. It's weird that my anxious brain now demands any first draft I produce to be perfect, as irrational and impossible as that is.
rainwaterspark: (sonic and the black knight fairytale)

Novel #3: 13k words / 50k?

Novel #4: 5k words / 50-60k

Based on my current progress, I feel confident in concluding that my writing speed is nowhere near what it was when I was a student.

I've been working on Novel #3 for roughly over a month, and 12k words in that time isn't great speed. To be fair, I spent the past week rewriting large chunks of it to solve various issues. I have the full skeleton of the story laid out, which is why I'm cautiously optimistic that I can finish this story; however, fleshing out the details has been pretty time-consuming. 50k is my default estimate for novels (which would technically mean I'm about 25% done right now), but I'm not sure if I can actually meet 50k (& 50k is still on the short side for publishable novels).

Novel #4 is newer and YA, so I was tempted to prioritize it over #3 (another New Adult novel). That's especially because I'm not 100% sure Novel #3 is publishable (I think the overall premise could be appealing, but it would probably be more "popular" if I were the kind of writer who could write a romance full of Unresolved Sexual Tension instead of, like, friendship as romance.) However, again, since Novel #3 has the story basically fully outlined, whereas #4 is (a) newer, and (b) intended to be the start of a trilogy, my cautious instincts would rather try to finish Novel #3 first so I can have more completed projects.

(On that note, Novel #3 was initially intended to be the start of a series as well, though I've decided to give up on that for now. While I do think the world of the novel has clear series potential, I'd rather see if I can publish this novel, assuming I can finish it, before I start thinking about writing sequels. This novel itself can definitely stand alone.)

On the topic of deadlines

I'm usually not good at meeting my own deadlines, although I do find that it helps to at least have deadlines to aim for.

Novel #3: In my ideal world, I'd like to finish this before April of 2019 so I can participate in #DVpit on Twitter. I have some idea of how to pitch this one on Twitter. But given that I'm only about 1/4 done, I'm really not confident I can meet this deadline. I'll try, though.

Novel #4: At first I thought this was a candidate for #DVpit as well, but I started to think that this book may be better suited to a traditional query letter, since it's not quite as easy to sum up in 280 characters. In any case, unless something changes, I've already decided to prioritize #3 over this book anyway, so it'll be a while off.

rainwaterspark: Image of Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton wielding a bow and arrow from Assassin's Creed III (assassin's creed iii bow and arrow)
It's been a while since I've done one of these, and there are quite a few books I'm itching to read that come out next year, so here's a list.
I've never read any of Chokshi's works before for...reasons (totally personal, nothing on the author), but hearing this book described as "like Six of Crows but with a diverse cast of POC by an actual author of color" has made me want to give this book a try.
I'm always interested in non-Western sci-fi.
  • Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons - 2/5/19
Hmm. Okay. I'm not as excited by this book as I once was, because based on the opening excerpt, this seems to be another case of White Authors Trivializing Slavery In Fantasy. But the writing style is engaging, so I may finish this just to see where the story ends up (and so I can write a review).
The cover. It's so pretty.
This book OWNED me the moment I heard that the male lead is a tortured, reluctant assassin. (Yes, I have a fictional type. *cough*)
I was kind of "meh" from the summary, but I'll give this book by an Asian author a try.
Very curious about this book since it's being billed for its depression rep.
I read and enjoyed Heart of Iron, so I'm looking forward to seeing how this story ends.
"1920s fantasy" + Mexican mythology = I gotta check this out.
I was a major fan of These Rebel Waves, so I'm excited to see where this book goes!

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Me: I have 2 weeks' leave from work to write my current WIP! I gotta get down to business!

Me, after Day 1: ...I'm not sure what I accomplished today other than come up with an idea for a totally different story.
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Hello, it's me here with a blog post on one of my favorite TV shows currently, DC Comics' Titans and some of my thoughts on how to establish character.

I was actually prompted to think about this given my recent disappointment with a book I had been anticipating because I felt like it didn't do a good job of establishing the main character(s) at the outset. I'm a reader who really needs to feel connected to the main character(s) before I feel compelled to read a book, and that sense of connection comes from either sympathy or fascination, which in turn comes from immediately knowing something about the character's personality and/or drive.

I'm not saying I need to fully understand a character before I'll follow their story, but I do need a "hook" to get me invested in their journey.

As it turns out, Titans is excellent at establishing character. Even though it's a TV show, I think there are plenty of things that can be applied to books as well.

Raven: establishing character through reaction

Raven/Rachel Roth is Titans' first character to appear, and she's immediately set up to be sympathetic through her dream of the Flying Graysons' deaths and her terrified reaction to it, even though she's unrelated to them. Her grieving reaction demonstrates that she's a deeply empathetic character who cares about people she's never met.

Kory: establishing character through challenge

Kory's character arc is interesting since she's introduced with amnesia. Although oftentimes amnesia can feel like it's being used cheaply, I think it makes sense in the context of this show because Kory (Koriand'r) is such a powerful character that Titans wanted to begin with some limits to her powers and knowledge.

In any case, Kory is introduced with amnesia and soon realizing that she's being hunted. Even though she has amnesia, she's shown to be incredibly resourceful and able to at least figure out what her goal had been before she received amnesia. Kory's resilience and resourcefulness immediately make her a likable character in addition to the mystery of who she is and why she's pursuing Rachel.

Dick: establishing character through hint

I saved Dick Grayson for last, well, because I have a tremendous soft spot for the members of the Batfamily, but also because Dick's characterization is the most subtle in Titans Episode 1 and therefore the most interesting. Putting aside the flashback to his parents' death, Dick is introduced without any dialogue at all. In his first scene, he's flipping through a folder with a picture of a bruised child, watching the man we infer to be the child's father, and casting looks at a suitcase in the back of his car. Through visuals alone, we're immediately told several things about Dick:

(1) He cares about children injured through abuse.
(2) We're not sure what the suitcase is for or what's in it, but Dick's glances at it demonstrate that he views it as something ominous.

This, on its own, is a pretty interesting "hook" for Dick, but Dick's character is also slowly unveiled over the course of the episode. When he shows up to Detroit PD, we see that he's cold and standoffish with his new partner, but as revealed through the other characters' dialogue, it's because something went wrong with his last partner (and we learn exactly what happened toward the end of the episode). When Dick finally acts on the child abuser, we see not only that Dick is Robin (and the suitcase contains his Robin suit), but also that Dick is clearly struggling with violent urges while feeling regret afterward.

Dick is, in some ways, the main character of Titans, but in some ways, he's also the most mysterious. Even though, unlike Rachel and Kory, he understands himself and where he came from, he's the most complex character in the sense that he is clearly carrying his past as baggage (in some ways literally symbolized by the Robin case he carries all over the country) and he is slowly trying to come to terms with his past and how to move on from it.
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Today's post is brought to you by the appearance of Jason Todd in DC's Titans and some of the arguments I've seen regarding what Jason's "true" personality is.

So, for those who don't know, Jason Todd is the second Robin, a.k.a. the Robin who died, a.k.a. the guy who comes back from the dead as Red Hood, known for being the most violent and gun-happy among the Batfamily. However, like many comic book superhero characters, Jason's origins and personality have changed over the years. This is most obvious from the fact that Jason's death wasn't something planned from the start, but rather something done to drive sales (and possibly because the character was not terribly popular? I'm a little unclear on the exact details). So, Jason's transformation into Red Hood was, again, not something planned from the inception of the character.

I'm not a complete Jason Todd comics history expert (*sob*), but I believe Jason becoming Red Hood (see also the "Under the Red Hood" comic arc and excellent animated movie) was accompanied by a retcon of his prior origins and personality. Initially, Jason was something of a Dick Grayson clone, down to a similar origin story involving a circus (yes, really) and a cheerful personality. But with Red Hood came a ton of retconning in order to retroactively establish the "seeds" for Jason's ability to become the ultraviolet Red Hood. Jason's origins were now rooted in his being a street kid and criminal before he met Batman, and he was depicted as having always had violent tendencies even as a Robin.

This is the version represented in Titans, and while Jason Todd as Red Hood has become entrenched enough over the years that most people are fans of this interpretation of Jason Todd, you still do see some people who are bitter about the original change in Jason Todd as a result of "Under the Red Hood."

This gets to another issue, though, of how many comic superheroes do change and get new origins/personalities over time.

Yes, I do get how it sucks when you're a fan of one version of a character and then the character ends up permanently changed due to the whims of various writers. But I also think that changes of this sort are extremely hard to backtrack from. So many people weren't a fan of Wonder Woman's origin being changed from the "made of clay" story to being a daughter of Zeus—and yet, thanks to the movie, it's the origin story that most average non-comics readers are now familiar with.

Whether you're happy about it or not, Red Hood is a character who is here to stay. And the retroactive refitting of Jason Todd's background to better "suit" his transformation into Red Hood is also probably permanent as a result.
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The Storm Runner by JC Cervantes

I have mixed feelings about this book—specifically, about the disability representation.

In general, I think this was a pretty successful "Percy Jackson" take on Maya mythology. It's very Rick Riordan-esque...though not quite exactly the same.

But I'm here mostly to talk about the disability rep, so, here are my thoughts.

Although the story concludes with Zane being okay with his shorter leg, there are parts of the book where Zane temporarily gets his disability "fixed" and goes into detail about his feelings of elation, and I worry that still sort of reinforces ableism, maybe. Especially since Zane's cane is often described as an object of his hatred instead of an object he needs/heavily relies on.

Anyway, those are my (brief) thoughts.
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Undertow by Brooklyn Ray

(Trigger warning: this book heavily implies a character is physically abused by their parent)

Full confession: I've read only about 15% of this book so far, but what I read made me so angry I had to stop and blog about it.

I had a bad time with the first book in this series, Darkling. In general, this author has serious issues with portraying PoC and Asian American characters in particular, even though they frame themselves as kind of the "champion" of the queer community on Twitter (really, mostly a champion for white queer Twitter + their few QPoC friends).

In Darkling, Tyler Li—the only Asian American character—is the antagonist. He is portrayed as the least tolerant, most bigoted person even though he is literally surrounded by white characters. He is also pitted against the book's only other PoC character. Because Ryder is the protagonist in Darkling, the reader is essentially positioned to hate Tyler Li and think he's a massive jerk.

In the beginning of Undertow, it's heavily implied that Tyler is a jerk because his father is physically abusive toward him.

Let's unpack this.

Abuse within Asian American families is a sensitive issue. It happens, and it's often swept under the rug as a normal "tiger parents" thing. It's on the spectrum of Asian Americans who have difficulties with their parents. I'm not against the portrayal of Asian American characters with difficult or even abusive parents.

But for a white person to insert themselves into this intracommunity issue is swerving out of their lane to the extreme.

And it's not just that in Undertow; I'm sensitive to portrayals of abusive relationships in fiction, and the whole thing is treated in a way that felt incredibly disrespectful to me: Ryder (the protagonist of the previous book, remember) essentially mocks Tyler for being abused by his father.

What. The. Actual. F**k.

Author—how dare you? How dare you make the Asian American character the most intolerant and reviled one out of your majority white cast, how dare you decide that his jerkishness is due to him being a survivor of parental physical abuse, and how dare you then have the previous (white) protagonist mock him for it?

What is wrong with you??

How dare you call yourself an ally to 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 think I mentioned in my previous post that I'm in a rut right now in regard to writing, and as I was talking to my friend about it, she suggested that I write what I like to read.

Which is some common sense advice that I'd somehow managed to forget.

Maybe this is due to my childhood or something, but oftentimes I get very focused on trying to write something "groundbreaking" and "original" and "never been done before" and "'certain' to be successful"...and every single time, those projects fail.

My finished novels were always, always ones that I initially started with no intention of publication—stories that I started writing purely for fun, not because I was trying to make a statement or leave my mark on the world. Stories that I started off writing because they were exactly the kind of book I wanted to read and couldn't find.

Book #1 was the amnesiac assassin enemies-to-lovers story that I'd been trying to write for ages because I love writing assassins, I love writing/reading enemies-to-lovers, and I love amnesia tropes.

Book #2 was the story about an autistic vampire hunter who got to kick ass while snarking at how unfair neurotypical society was because I wanted to read about a kick-ass autistic protagonist and complain about neurotypical privilege.

Inevitably, of course, I do end up making statements, and my stories do end up being unique and original. But it's always a side effect rather than the primary goal.

The problem then, though, is that I essentially have to "trick" my brain into working on a project that I can finish.

Which is ridiculously hard.

And due to real-life stress and/or genre fatigue, sometimes I get into periods when I don't know what I like anymore, because I don't like anything (or barely anything) I'm actually reading. And then I can't write at all.

On top of that, there are only so many tropes I like, but I also try not to repeat myself from story to story because I feel like that's tacky.

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I read These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch this weekend. Having disliked her previous book, Snow Like Ashes, and having seen mixed reviews for TRW, I was prepared to dislike it, but I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. This is probably the first fantasy book I've read that I've enjoyed in...maybe a year?

I didn't find the infodumping to be intrusive or slowing the pace down. An overly-explanatory style doesn't always work, but it worked for me in TRW because of the dense history of the world, and it was fine. At first, I was uncomfortable with Grace Loray as a close analogue to the United States, but I was really glad when the author actually provided more complexity later on, showing that Grace Loray wasn't a utopia, either.

I also find it surprising that people have called this book "boring" or "dry." I will quit reading books within literally a few pages if I think the writing style is boring, but this book captivated me with a killer first line and didn't let up (although there were admittedly some questionable word choices sprinkled in). I did skim some of Lu's passages because hers seemed the slowest, but that was about it.

Each of the three main characters was fairly complex and multifaceted. Lu was my least favorite, if only because she was kind of the predictable Strong Female Character, but she was still well-drawn, and I appreciated that the author challenged Lu's naïveté about Grace Loray. The portrayal of various kinds of PTSD for the three leads felt realistic and was a touch of depth that I'd given up on expecting from YA.

The way Ben was written, as a queer (gay?) character, bothered me a lot in the beginning because he seemed so sexualized compared to the straight characters. (When the author cited C.S. Pacat as an inspiration, my reaction was less surprised.) But he got a lot better later on. Lu and Vex's relationship bored me because it felt like a very typical, very obvious M/F enemies-to-lovers dynamic. However, I am ALL FOR what looks like it's going to be a slow-burn enemies-to-lovers relationship between Ben and [SPOILER REDACTED] in the next few books.

Ultimately, though, this book inspired me to try my hand at writing fantasy again, and for that reason I feel more favorably toward it than simply viewing it as the sum of its parts. It captured some of the magic I remember from reading fantasy as a kid and that I lost in YA fantasy of recent years; namely, deep, complex characters and a well-thought out world that feels like it actually lives and breathes, not that it's just a cardboard set.


I've been reflecting a lot on writing and what I should write next.

In recent years, it's been something of a battle between my desperate desire to write something "mainstream," something that can get picked up by a traditional publisher, versus what my brain actually wants to write.

I think I could push myself to write a "mainstream" YA novel. Being a relatively experienced writer by now (not just in terms of fiction writing, but also because I've had a lot of practice writing for my day job), I think I could do it and have it turn out to be okay enough to query. In other words, I could treat writing as a job.

The deep reflection I've done after my first book was published has led me to some of the conclusions I've feared: That writing a book that is 100% what I want is apparently unpopular in this market. I thought a queer romance with assassins and mysteries and corporate corruption would be interesting to people...but I guess it isn't, since I've been having a ton of trouble with marketing and complaints that the book doesn't fit neatly enough into one genre. So it makes me think that maybe I shouldn't write a book based solely on what I like, if I ever want to turn writing into a full-time career.

But writing is such a hard, lonely endeavor that if you don't have the strongest love and passion for your work to sustain you...what else can?

I like speculative fiction. I like a touch of mystery. I like exploring how people cope with a damaging past. I like angsty but also tender interpersonal relationships. I like sarcastic nerd protagonists. I like exploring the use of narrative to reveal and hide information. I like healing narratives.

I can't change what I like.

Embracing that is hard when I can't be certain that it will lead to success. But maybe it's the only way forward.
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Seeing some Reddit discussions about other MMOs' failures has made me reflect on GW2 and why I've stuck with it for so long.

I've had my eye on GW2 since it was in development, but I didn't play it at launch because I wanted a free trial to confirm that it was a fun game and not as grindy as the free-to-play MMOs I'd dabbled with before. But when I did finally try it out, I was in love. The design choices that stripped away the grind and competitive nature of other FTP MMOs resonated deeply with me, as those were the number one reasons I never stuck long with MMOs before. GW2 was beautiful and fun right from the get-go.

And the classes! I love that each class has their own unique mechanic, so that playing each class feels different not just because of different weapons/skills. For example, my sister gravitated toward Mesmer because of the whole illusions/phantasms/shatter mechanic, and while I usually steer away from heavy armor classes, I made my first character a Guardian because of the virtues.

I know everyone groans about underwater combat, but frankly I love underwater stuff. It adds even more exploration to maps with water and stands out as another unique feature of GW2. (Honestly, I'd even want an underwater expansion and underwater mounts*!)

Admittedly, the fact that GW2 only requires a flat fee (for the core game and expansions) is a major pragmatic reason I keep coming back to it, as I can take a break for a few months and then return when I feel like it.

I wasn't excited about Heart of Thorns at first because of the way it seemed to be marketed toward more "hardcore" players; I eventually did buy the expansion (when it went on sale ~1 later) primarily because of the elite specs, though, and I found myself enjoying the meta events, particularly Auric Basin's Octovine. I was so hyped about Path of Fire, though. The mounts have made it a joy to go through the old Centra Tyria maps again. I love that mounts aren't solely prestige items (other than Griffon, maybe) but were truly created to enhance the experience of movement in the game.

I'm also super grateful for the QoL updates GW2 has had through the years, showing that the devs really do care about optimizing player experience as much as possible. The wardrobe system was a game-changer, and I'm so incredibly thankful for the new Novelties system (the lack of which was the major reason I never paid too much attention to toys/other novelty items in the past). (Also, how incredibly generous was it of ANet to give each player a choice of a free Novelty item to kick it off???) Now we just need a library system for all the books weighing down my Revenant...

In case I sound like I do nothing but sing GW2's praises, I will mention that I do have issues with the game. Chief among them is that ANet has introduced grindier achievements/collectibles that I think were really unnecessary--namely, the swim infusions (I still cry about not being able to get the bubble helmet) and many of the new armor sets in PoF. I'm also annoyed by many of the achievements in PoF and Living World Season 4 requiring large groups of players, which means that I'm usually stuck waiting around for the magical moment when I end up in a map with a group of players also doing these events. (I'm not saying no achievements should be tied to group content, but it's a pain when the maps are often deserted, especially in the PoF maps, which is a design flaw itself.) I was also angry enough at the original RNG Mount Adoption License that I actually stopped playing the game for several months (while the system they introduced later fixed that problem, I still think they should introduce it for the original set of mount skins as well).

So yeah, that's my Guild Wars 2 story.

Random Trivia:

Favorite holiday: Wintersday

Favorite mount: Springer (I just can't resist these adorable bunnies)

Where would I like to see a future expansion: Cantha, Charr homelands (seriously, I think Charr lore is fascinating and there's so much possibility there), or underwater (related to the Deep Sea Dragon)

(*Now that I think about it, though, I think if ANet were to do underwater mounts, they'd probably have to do it with Living World Season 4, given that each expansion + corresponding Living World Season seems to have a self-contained mastery system.)
rainwaterspark: Image of Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton from Assassin's Creed III (Default)
I'm in another writer's block rut.
Logically, I know I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I've been distracted and on edge for the last few months due to my upcoming debut release and studying for an exam and the crappy day job.
But writer's block brings me so much fear.
There's nothing quite so terrifying as watching a bunch of story ideas fizzle out as soon as you put a few hundred words down on the page.
It makes me fear that I'll never be able to finish writing a book again.

And, okay, part of it is that I'm in another genre crisis. I've become disillusioned with the queer romance genre due to difficulty breaking into traditional publishing, combined with how so very white indie queer publishing is. So, even though my brain still spits out MM romance ideas, I think somewhere in the back of my head I'm feeling less attached to these ideas because they just feel like a dead end, professionally and emotionally.

So I'm trying to get back into YA and MF romance again, and I think I might have a candidate. But "might" is such a fragile word, because I've learned never to count my novels until they're actually done.

There's also the fact that...I kind of suck at writing MF romances. I've only written one successful one in my life (and, not so surprisingly, this new idea is kind of a retelling of the old one).

rainwaterspark: Image of Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton wielding a bow and arrow from Assassin's Creed III (assassin's creed iii bow and arrow)
I know PoF is old news by now, but I've just recently gotten back into the game (thanks to the Roller Beetle) and I have new thoughts on why PoF isn't as compelling as Heart of Thorns for long-term play.

Now, I haven't done a ton of Crystal Desert bounties/meta events since they (allegedly) rebalanced the awards, so I don't know if those events are more rewarding (in any case, they're clearly not as compelling as the Istan farm). But here are the thoughts I had today:

HoT had several armor/weapon sets to go for that were time-consuming if you wanted to collect them all, but they were eminently doable. They took a long time, but they were doable. And grinding the Octovine event for the Auric weapons, or Chak Gerent for Chak weapons, wasn't bad because you could make decent gold doing those events.

For PoF, it's different, since the new armor/weapon sets are primarily based on crafting. When I looked at the Spearmarshal armor, I realized that not only would I have to collect a ton of Trade Contracts to buy recipes, and then farm even more Vials of Linseed Oil (which, to be honest, I was more than a little tired of doing after farming them for HoT), but I would also need a whopping 150 Hardened Leather Sections per armor piece! At which point I was like "Screw it, there's NO way crafting this armor set would be worthwhile."

And then I looked at the Trading Post. And then I realized that the Spearmarshal armor sold for WAY less than it would cost in time and resources to craft.

That's the problem: It's not worth playing the game to get the new armor when you could buy them off the TP for low prices.

To be fair, Bounty Hunter armor isn't available on the TP. But still, the resources needed to craft the armor makes it not worth it. Sunspear and Mordant armor are craftable, but they're also available on the TP for (largely) reasonable prices as well.

I'm not sure if the Crystal Desert bounty awards have been rebalanced to make it reasonable to get the Funerary armor/weapons. But in any case: HoT armor/weapons were designed to be grindy, but easily doable as long as you wanted to invest the time. PoF armor/weapons were designed to be essentially impossible to make/get in game without a HUGE time/money-sink.

And that's the problem; that's why it doesn't feel rewarding to play in the PoF maps once you've unlocked all the initial things.
rainwaterspark: Image of Connor/Ratonhnhaké:ton wielding a bow and arrow from Assassin's Creed III (assassin's creed iii bow and arrow)
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

(Content warning: This book contains graphic violence directed toward gay men. There are more detailed content warnings in the book itself.)

As usual for McCade, the quality of writing is excellent. I really enjoyed the representation of Malcolm and Seong-Jae. The characters are fascinating and alluring, both with mysterious backgrounds teased for future stories to come.

My main issue with this book is with how the mystery was resolved. Spoilers abound below--you have been warned!

Cut for spoilers )


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