March 22, 2024

End of the Work Week Pic and Video

Be proud of me! I'm almost done with the first season of Young Royals, and as much as I'd love to share my thoughts here, they'll have to wait. The thriving fandom (especially over at Tumblr) has done a spectacular job picking the show apart, picking the characters apart, picking the soundtrack apart -- everything that could be picked apart has been picked apart. And if I were smart, I'd just share links or embed posts here (which I'll probably do if my energy levels flag and my brain shuts down). 

That said, diving into this series is not only entertaining me in a good way, but also doing a bang-up job of reigniting my love for boarding school romances. It's kind of important for me to keep those fires burning since Compline is set in a boarding school. A creepy boarding school. No royalty in sight, though. Anyway...

Fandom (generally speaking) is fun as long as people don't take stuff too seriously. There are, of course, fandom corners I refuse to touch (i.e., Star Trek and Star Wars) because they're all tainted by too many alpha-wannabes, and life's too short to rub shoulders with people who ruin things for everyone. Tumblr, for all its reputation as a hellsite, is so anarchic on so many levels, and it manages to do so in a pretty fun and colorful way. And if I were to go back to setting up a social media account, that's the only place for me to settle in and feel comfortable about. 

So you can kind of tell that's where I'm getting all of my fun social media posts when it comes to shows and films that float my boat with their queer content -- though admittedly I've yet to check out Red, White, and Royal Blue, which is quite likely a non-starter as I didn't like the novel at all. But at the moment the YR fandom's in full swing, and people have been posting some pretty good analyses of the show overall. As I'm not even done with the first season, I'll hold off delving into more of a good thing over there. 

One of the fun things fandoms do is cobble together their own take on a show's soundtrack. I can't do it, myself, unless I'm very, very familiar with the plot and the characters, but this one struck me out of nowhere while I was scouring Youtube for certain videos (not YR-related). It's not at all the young romance type of thing -- if anything, it's a very adult take on Wille and Simon's relationship, but it works. And I can see this from Wille's POV overall though Simon's POV can also work. The show's focus is primarily on Wille and how he navigates the awful waters of being the crown prince, but it still does a pretty effective job in exploring the idea of "accident of birth" in general (a favorite theme of mine in fiction) which means no one chooses the family and the circumstances they're born into. 

So from Wille's POV based on the meager number of episodes I've managed to watch so far, this song nails it. Oh, even the freaking video works in conveying the escalating crisis in Wille's head, I'll have to add, and it sure helps that I not only love the song, but the video as well. It's really well made and simply mesmerizing.

My favorite verse:

Come to me, just in a dream
Come on and rescue me
Yes, I know I can be wrong
And maybe you're too headstrong
Our love is

I see that as a message from Wille to Simon, and that's the hill I choose to die on. Cool. Did I do justice to the fandom and the show? Well, that's my contribution to the fun, and I'll likely post more stuff -- my own take on things, anyway, which might not jive with the younger set on Tumblr (because I'm such a fogey). Any connections I'll be making will be very adult in angle for what it's worth. But, hey, I'm enjoying this almost nostalgic dive back into some kind of fandom even if I'm not actively writing fanfic or showing fanart or anything like that. 

Anyway, I'll be back to writing tomorrow and Sunday, and The Dubious Commode will be finished sooner than later as I only have a little over 20,000 words left to go for the first draft to be done. That's not a lot of words, actually, and that number goes incredibly quickly once I cross the final marker (which is the 20K-word mark). The book will be done mid-April, methinks, and then I'll be spending the rest of that month and all of May revising and editing. 

And then...

I'll be back to writing gothic horror, which I'll get started on soon. I'm still on the fence as to when exactly I'll begin work on Voices in the Briars, but it'll come even before -- quite likely well before, in fact -- I'm done with revisions and edits for The Dubious Commode. And so further whet my appetite, I'm scouring the 'net for ridiculously gorgeous dark images like the one above, which was from . Hello, weekend, at last!

March 18, 2024

As They Say Where I'm From: "Crikey!"

Well, not really. I'm not from the UK, but that's a good word to sum up this day. My commute home was not without weirdness -- like the bus breaking down and sitting on the shoulder of the freeway. Yeah! Good thing the bus driver was super chill and so were the passengers, and we all just sat around and stayed safe while waiting for our "rescue bus" to come pick us all up. 

There's a first time for everything, and this was the first time I've had my bus break down on the freeway. But you've got to roll with the punches, and happily I was too distracted by my phone and social media updates on the final episode of Young Royals, so it's safe to say I'm spoiled once again by those ecstatic posts, and I'm thrilled. 

That's the good thing (maybe the only good thing?) of spoilers: I'm reassured, and I can move forward with the series with a clearer idea of what makes the characters tick, both main and side. I've got to admit the biggest hurdle I faced when I finished the first episode was August and his smarmy douchebaggery. Did I really want to sit through more of his crap? Is it worth the trouble? But with the second episode giving me some necessary backstory for his character, I'm feeling more open to putting up with his shittiness. 

And knowing how his arc ends adds extra layers to my viewing of the earlier seasons. I might loathe his character, but I also know there's a lot more to him than what's so blatantly obvious. Same thing with Felice (but she's not a doucehbag and is also shown to be caring and understanding toward Sara after Sara admits to having Asperger's). So a lot of things to unpack, and it's only the second episode. 

Of course, there's the main couple in Wille and Simon (or Wilmon in fan circles). Again, knowing how their story ends adds something extra special to my viewing of their initial meeting and the awkward way they keep dancing around each other while inching closer. Oh, my heart. 

It's safe to say I ain't bingeing this puppy, though, but everyone already knows that. I'm incapable of doing that now that it's proving to be a series that'll require every ounce of my attention and every minute of my time. I'm not complaining one bit, no, but I ain't getting any younger, and I can only chip away at a slab of marble with a plastic spork. I'm definitely in it for the long haul, though, even if I feel really stupid fangirling a series that's been around and has established a dedicated fanbase well before I was made aware of its existence. 

Anyway, if I do pepper my blog with a few random updates on my viewing of Young Royals, you'll know why. Bear with me, please, as I'm reconnecting with my college-aged self (the earliest point in my life when I'd have developed a full and, hopefully, mature appreciation of a series like this) and will be prone to occasional giggly outbursts that would be mortifying coming from someone my age. Well, age is a construct, anyway, right? Right. 

EDIT: As an addendum, I'm out of the house twelve hours a day, five days a week. And my weekend's spent catching up on chores and errands with a healthy dose of writing on the side, hence my dismal series-viewing record. Adulting's such a buzzkill.

March 17, 2024

The Rabbit Hole, It Calls to Me (Translation: "I'm SO Late to 'Young Royals', It's Not Funny")

Damn it. I'm teetering on the precipice here, finger hovering above the "play" function for Young Royals on Netflix, and I wasn't planning to do it. I've already talked about not bingeing any shows (no more time, no more energy), but this show is tempting me. It doesn't help that so much buzz has been thrown at fans over the third and final season, the last episode dropping tomorrow (including a one-hour documentary behind the scenes or something like that). 

I can sit down and plow my way through multi-episode shows like Derry Girls, Cunk on Earth, and 1670. If anything, those were so far the only series on Netflix I actually binged -- because they're all comedies, and the humor's just up my alley. A perfect match. If Netflix produced all four seasons of Blackadder, I'd do the same thing. 

But a multi-season series drama? And a pretty complex one at that? I'll dive into it, but it will take me a dog's age to go through a single season. See: Bodies. That said, Young Royals has some of the tropes I love in a LGBTQ teen romance / love story. I've already seen the first episode of the first season (yes, I'm THAT LATE to the party), and I'm sitting on the next. I want to adopt Simon so badly, and that's all from just one episode, and I want him and Wilhelm to ride off into the sunset, the crown be fucked. 

I've been spoiled by episode recaps, and I'm cool with that. Considering how long the series has been on Netflix -- with Netflix constantly recommending it to me after I watched other queer films and series (i.e., Heartstopper), it's inevitable that I'll be spoiled. At any rate, yes -- I'll be watching Young Royals from start to finish, and do excuse this tortoise as she plods toward the finish line, which I reckon will be sometime in the summer if I stayed consistent. 

Hey, who knows? I might get so sucked into the plot that I'll end up harpooning my way through the series without even realizing it. I did just that with Heartstopper, by the way. 

In other news, I've updated my Book News page, at last, with new banners for upcoming releases. The 2024 calendar shows three books, and the 2025 banner also shows three but without dates since things are so tweakable right now, there's no justification for any projected dates that far out in advance. The banners also show the sequence of releases as well as an updated cover art for The Twilight Lover, which I'm also furiously writing notes on in my notebook. 

I've never been hit with this many story ideas all at once before, so my poor notebook's been getting a workout, but it's a good workout. I only hope the momentum I'm enjoying right now continues as will the energy levels. Really, after nearly four years of practically dragging myself from one book to another, this unexpected surge is like drinking cold, fresh water after being in near dehydration for so long. 

So, yes, I'm ecstatic beyond words. Hey, maybe picking my way through Young Royals will feed the fire and keep it going.

March 10, 2024

Back in the World of Revenants

Any turn I have toward the macabre, the grotesque, and the ghoulish would be credited to my dad, BTW, who raised us kids on Hammer Horror films, The Twilight Zone, The Night Gallery, Kolchak: the Night Stalker, The Sixth Sense, Ghost Stories, etc. back in the 1970s. Sense of humor also came from him as did the love of animals and all things artistic. Love you, Dad, you glorious enabler, you.

Preamble aside, I'm looking forward to the next book on my plate, which is Voices in the Briars. As noted in the previous blog post, the book's all but written down given all the notes I've written in my notebook as well as the main story (and chapter) outlines. It took me a while to settle on an angle with this retelling of the "Bluebeard" fairy tale since there are so many ways I can approach this as a gothic horror story and gay romance. 

So I decided to go back to one of my favorite folklore characters: the vampire. It was a convoluted and overly winding road I took to get to this point, but I made it, and it was the angle best suited for almost all of the notes I wrote down. Those items that won't work will be dropped or tweaked accordingly. Suffice it to say, the revenant angle will again hew closely to the original version of the vampire in folklore with only a slight nod to the more current and romantic versions of it. 

I'm dusting off my Nox Arcana playlist for this, and I'm easing myself into a whole new world even while I work through the second half of The Dubious Commode. And in reference to the previous blog post as well regarding calendar dates, I'm looking at a July release for this book. I haven't updated the Book News page with a new banner yet, but I will soon enough. And with that said, it really opens up the final quarter of the year for Voices in the Briars, which means should things go well with THAT book, I might be releasing it in December. So, yeah. Lots of juggling and rearranging here.

It feels great that I still have all these stories in me -- at least all the way to The Bells of St. Mark's Eve. Any more story ideas after that will be sorted out as they happen, but there's comfort to be had knowing that I'll continue to write and publish for at least another couple of years. 2028 will mark my twentieth year writing and publishing, and beyond that is still pretty nebulous to me. I'd love to continue, of course, as long as I have the inspiration, the time, and the energy for it. Things were a bit touch and go for a while in the previous years, but I'm getting over all that, and I'm glad I had writing to turn to when shit hit the fan back in 2020 because life was rough all around even after. 

So focus on positive stuff. Make all good things happen this year and the years after. Oh, and by the way, I also briefly said something about finding the original image I wanted to use for Compline. There are two that caught my attention, and I'm still on the fence on which one to use when the time comes, but here they are:

I'll be saving the image I posted before this for another book since I also love it, but it doesn't quite jive with the theme of the book, which is a hybrid of folklore, horror, and romance. Well -- no different from the stuff I've been writing and publishing, anyway. When I update the Book News page with the new 2024 calendar banner, I'll try to include the one for 2025 as well.

EDIT: Ah. Here's the winner:

I had to ask for help from the husband and sisters, and this was the choice across the board. I'm relieved, really. This image was the one I had chosen months ago before it vanished in my hard drive, so it was nice to have my initial preference validated. So, yay! We have a final cover design for the book!

March 09, 2024

Hard at Work and Looking at that Calendar Again

Hoo boy, do I feel wrecked. The day job's been pretty intense, and things aren't letting up anytime soon. My writing time continues to be sacrosanct, though, and the early morning weekend hours are forever fixed as MY time. So I'm now halfway through The Dubious Commode, and I'm beginning to feel bummed out over the second half of the book because this is it for the Ghosts and Tea collection. It's hard to let go when the time comes, and I went through that before with Masks, but it's inevitable. I've also sworn off series books after this, and I'm looking forward to nothing but standalone books once The Dubious Commode is finally published. 

I'm looking at moving the release date -- obviously going back on my resolve not to mess with the calendar again, but I've been flying high since the start of the year, at least where my writing's concerned. The day job's another matter entirely, but for my creative life, I'm having a blast and am enjoying a surge of unexpected energy. Not to mention a more positive outlook. I think it's got everything to do with the end of Ghosts and Tea and a future of long novella standalone books. As much as I love Ghosts and Tea (and it's hands down my favorite series to work on), I'm really looking forward to a freer creative time with everything under the Grotesqueries umbrella. 

Voices in the Briars is all but completely written down by hand in my notebook. I've got so many detailed outlines and notes for that book that I might as well get started on it -- strike while the iron's hot, blah blah blah -- but I need to pull back from that. It's extremely, extremely tempting, and I tend to forget the physical exhaustion I put up with at my full-time job when the weekend rolls around, and all my attention's fixed on my writing. Maybe once I'm down to the last ten chapters of The Dubious Commode, I'll test the waters and see if I can manage half a page at a time or something. The concern I have is losing that spark of inspiration if I continue to hold off (or if I hold off too long), so maybe a bit of an overlap in writing schedules will keep that fire burning.

I'll be talking more about the next book soon as there's a lot I want to share (call it pre-writing buzz / marketing). 

I've also messed around with the calendar, and if you were to check out my Book List page, you'll see the minor tweak I did. It basically shows that I decided to bump The Perfect Rochester up and place it after Voices in the Briars and not after Compline. I think waiting a year for another dip into the world of primordial gods and the Nightshade family is the maximum length of time for me to wait for a related book to be published. 

The Book List page also details the books' categories with The Bells of St. Mark's Eve being another dark comedy. It didn't start out like that, but as the book will be dealing with family -- or the relationship between a young man and his devout grandmother -- I figured a dark comedy would be a much better fit than the usual serious tone that's expected from a gothic horror book. Everything past this year doesn't have a date attached to it yet since things will always be mutable (in spite of my wish for a more relaxed and spaced out schedule). As always, how things play out this year will influence the calendar for the years following, so I might end up publishing three long novellas this year and next. 

And so onward and upward, and I'll be back to talk more about the next book and other stuff.