Giftmas, Books, and Addictive Kitty Apps!

giftmas_350x350I have a couple of quick things to share! First of all, I’m participating in a Giftmas Blog Tour to celebrate the holidays. 🙂 I’ll be hosting two posts on my blog and be posting twice on others’. If you read the posts and follow along, you have the change to win a TON of awesome books from the people participating, including some thrown in by yours truly.

Look out for those posts coming in December!

Also, the book I mentioned in my Stories I Love post for October – Second Hand by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton – is on sale right now on Amazon for 99 cents. It’s character-driven m/m romance that is very well-written and I just really enjoyed it a lot, despite the redhead’s scary face on the cover.

… I want to tell you about this app. I might be…… more than slightly addicted to this app. And it’s the greatest app to be addicted to because it doesn’t involve a lot of your time. It’s called Neko Atsume, or “Kitty Collector.” The entire game takes place in a cartoon yard. You put out toys and games, and stray cats in the area come to play there. You can take their pictukittiesres and collect their profiles in a “catbook.” Aaaand that’s the entire game. It’s free to download in the google or apple app store. Clearly you need it. 😛

AAAAAND finally…

In case you’re wondering what’s up with me and my life right now… I am currently working hard on four awesome projects. One of which is Vitality (because I am always working on Vitality) but the other three have yet to be announced. All three are writing-based, and I should have more information for you on all three of those…. by the end of December/early January.

Awesome Books You Should Be Reading: Firebird and Other Stories by R. Cooper

firebirdI am a huge fan of R. Cooper, and have read (almost) everything she’s written. If you have any interest in feelsy love stories between two guys (often with supernatural stuff going on), you need to read basically everything she has ever written.

But let’s talk about Firebird.

This book is a TREASURE. It is the crowning jewel in R. Cooper’s already stunning array of amazing books, and I am just… “book hangover” does not begin to cover it.

Firebird is told in a series of short stories, all in the same world as Cooper’s other “Beings in Love” books.

Cooper is the absolute queen of the “mutual pining” story. All of her characters are distinct, complex people with their own personalities, and yet she weaves them together with their perfect counterpart, in an brilliant, entertaining story like absolute magic. Every time.

In Firebird, the stories go from 1930 to present day, with Kazimir, the firebird, being a shiny golden thread throughout. One couple hears him singing on a street corner, another is a fanboy whose love interest gets jealous of how much he likes him. A child introduced in the first story is seen as an adult years later. It’s very masterfully done, just the right amount of connection for the stories to belong in a book together without being overburdened with trying to hard to be clever.

I basically wept through the last 20% of this book, it was so beautiful. And then sat up straight when I started the last story, waking up my sleeping partner shouting “IT’S THEM! IT’S THEM!” and then “I KNOW THE ENDING!”

This book is fantastic. All of R. Cooper’s books are fantastic, but this one is quite possibly my favorite. I would recommend it to absolutely anyone who loves love stories. It is <i>fantastic.</i>

P.S. … As someone who has read the entire series, I kept sitting up and making undignified squee noises over the hints and suggestions of her other characters. A human and fairy couple offhandedly mentioned (Cal’s parents?). A town of werewolves “up north” taking in refugees (Wolf’s Paw?). And as someone who got into her books by starting with The Boy and his Dragon, I pretty much lost my mind to see those characters revisited.

P.P.S. If I were a mythical creature, I would be one of R. Cooper’s fairies. We have more or less the same personality traits (and addiction to sugar). 😉

“Choosing You” Now Available on Amazon

My time-travel romance short story “Choosing You” is available on Amazon!

Cover of Choosing You

I’m excited to announce that my first self-published piece is available on Amazon. It went up earlier this week, and already is getting great feedback.

The story follows Collin through high school, college, and into adulthood. He is visited by a time traveler – a woman who claims to be his wife in a hypothetical future… only the timeline has been disrupted, and the two will never meet unless he makes four key choices in his life that will guide them together again.

“Choosing You” is a short story in a conversational, first-person voice, about what happens when deciding to love someone becomes a literal choice. It’s 7300 words long and features a transgender protagonist.

You can get it on Amazon for $0.99, or for free on Kindle Unlimited!

Read an excerpt below:

The first time I met her, she called me Collin.

I sighed, tightening the high ponytail that was uniform-standard at Corey’s Cookies. That’s when I heard her say my name.

“Collin?”

I continued eating my food court Chinese. My name badge, at that time, said Collette.

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Awesome Books You Should Be Reading: The Ghost Dragon’s Daughter

The Ghost Dragon’s Daughter is incredible. The story immediately pulls you into a world so rich you can taste it. Everyghost dragons daughter page is packed with worldbuilding, atmosphere, and personality. Not a word is wasted.

And the world is awesome. If I’m not mistaken, it is Chinese-inspired, and weaves an urban city and a magical world together into something so very, very fun to read. Math-based magic. Girls creating a magical robotic translation machine. The struggles of modern urban life (debt, mass transit, scraping by ’til payday) in a magical world where demons patrol the streets at night and every person has a spiritual companion animal that they can talk to in their thoughts.

And did I mention the majority of the characters in it are queer?

I was given this book to read for free in exchange for an honest review. The author described it as a “LGBTQ geek girl story” and as the internet would say… I’m always a slut for LGBT geek girl stories! 😛 I went into it unfamiliar with the author’s work and not really expecting anything great out of it, but I was immediately blown away. Every new thing revealed in the story made me more and more excited until I was halfway through and tweeting the author like, “HEY WAIT A MINUTE. THERE’S MORE AFTER THIS, RIGHT? RIGHT?” FYI – There is more after this, two stories set in the same world but both with different characters. I’m definitely going to be reading them!

This story is a short read and it’s only a dollar on Amazon. I highly, highly encourage you to give it a read.

Everything’s Hard When You Hate Yourself: Productivity while Depressed

hate yourself

I have a chronic form of depression called dysthymia. It’s described as a long-term, milder form of depression (as opposed to a “Major depression” which is intense and can last from 4 months to 2 years). However, tell someone with dysthymia that their condition is “mild” and you’re likely to get a hearty “FUCK YOU.” The difference between chronic and major depression is the difference between having a hole shot through your hand with a gun, or slowly bored through you with a rusty spoon. Yes. It’s so much milder.

Dysthymia cannot be cured. You learn to treat it, to manage it, but you don’t have hope of someday getting back to “normal.” A dull, low-grade ache of depression is my normal, and accepting that is a big part of learning to live with it.

So, when it comes to approaching things like productivity, writing, starting a business, etc. most of the helpful blogs and books are very discouraging. “Just do it! Just get your butt in the chair and work hard!” seems to be a recurring theme. “Plan your goals, schedule your time, and put forth effort.”

So what do I do when there are days – sometimes even weeks – when I cannot “just work hard,” when getting out of bed and feeding myself is about the most I’m going to get done that day, when that looming schedule of things I Have to Do causes so much guilt, shame, fear, and self-hatred that it does more harm than good?

I ranted about this on twitter recently and was recommended two good articles (here and here) which were a great starting point for me, but it took a lot more introspection and planning before I found something that worked for me. And I’m going to share with you in case someone might also benefit from this.

There’s 7 main parts to this: accept the situation, set (flexible) goals, try things out, keep detailed records, get to know yourself, forgive your failures, revise your plans, and celebrate your successes.

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Nanowrimo – Here we Go!

I am participating in Nanowrimo (again) despite the fact that my track record with Nano is NOT GOOD. My track record for finishing projects in general is terrible, as I tend to jump from idea to idea and never actually get to THE END on any. It’s a bad habit I am trying to break.

This year, though, I’m going into it with a hefty outline and a solid idea of what the story will be. I recently read 2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron (Goodreads | Amazon), after hearing a few people over at the Rocking Self-Publishing podcast recommend this book. It has some great tips for how to write more – basically, reduce the amount of time you waste not knowing where your story is going, or writing scenes you’ll later cut, and instead do planning ahead of time, so you know exactly where the story needs to go.

In my natural state, I am some amalgamation of Plotter and Pantser. If I just wing it, I never write anything, or just randomly write a bunch of kissing scenes with no context. But I also tend to get bored of the story if I outline too thoroughly, because in my mind, the story has already been told. Here. Read the outline. That’s how the story ends. K bye. But clearly, my current method could use some improvement. I’m trying to learn to outline/plan without taking the fun out of the story, and Nanowrimo will be a nice test run of how that is working.

Okay, but what are you writing??

I’m writing a fantasy romance novella tentatively called “Serving Her,” set in a world (Ellaster) where magic is used to fuel technology, gods and goddesses are real and interact with human beings, and some humans – who have been Touched by the gods – can communicate with magic itself. 

Power cells across Ellaster are going dark, with the magic suddenly running out. Lia, a high priestess and investigator for the goddess of magic, is given the task of discovering what is causing this and putting a stop to it.

Jamen is serving as a vessel for a being who claims to be the goddess of magic herself, but is working to destroy the heart of the planet and take away the magic power the gods have given to the world.

When Lia meets Jamen, it is to immediately throw him, and the false goddess possessing him, into prison. She is tasked with interrogating him, extracting the spirit from his mind, and restoring the magic to the world. But there is a gentleness to Jamen, even as his master is using him to create chaos, and Lia finds herself wanting to set him free from his torment because she has begun to care for him.

Doesn’t it sound awesome?

The world of Ellaster has been bouncing around in my brain for years. In fact, my first-ever Nanowrimo attempt was a story called Anayati, set in this same universe (but about, idk, 100 years after Serving Her). I have two short stories and three novel ideas set in this world, as well as a half-finished board game called Middlemist, where you run a city housing one of the artefacts of the gods and must protect it against three invading armies.

As you can tell, I love this world, and I’m really excited to finally write (and finish!!) a story set in it!

Are you doing Nano? What are you writing for it? Want to be writing buddies? Here is my Nanowrimo URL