One of my most favoritest video games of all time is Hatoful Boyfriend, which is a categorized as a ‘dating simulator.’
Plot twist: You play as a human girl in a post-apocalyptic world that is dominated by hyper-intelligent birds. The puns are egregious.
And it gets weirder from there.
I know, I’m a strange person for loving the heck out of this game.
Which reminds me that I wanted to make a “Hatoful Boyfriend” shirt for myself…
Anyway, this game is what got me thinking that it would be a lot of fun to write a visual novel, especially because decent portions of it are spent reading events as they happen, rather than any per se ‘playing.’
I’m getting pretty excited over the idea of turning The Scion Suit into an interactive visual novel. I’m not planning on doing any art, at the moment, but exploring all of the ‘what ifs’ is … AWESOME.
And honestly, it’s a relief to be back in the realm of fantasy/sci fi writing. I missed it.
I also need to give Hatoful Boyfriend another play through, lol.
I’m going to be completely honest and tell you: I fully expect 2021 to be even worse.
Here’s the thing: Life isn’t a linear board game. The point isn’t to race to the end while accumulating the most money, and there aren’t any winners in the end.
Poets of the Fall is my favorite band, and the above quote comes from their song, “Love Will Come to You”. The lyrics continue on to say,
Life doesn’t run a clear course
It flows through from within
It’s supposed to take you places and leave markings on your skin
And those marks are just a sign of something truePoets of the Fall, Love will Come to You
you witnessed in your time
Of something new, like the start of something fine
Life is an adventure. Life is a testament to the strength of the human spirit. Sometimes we are meant to survive the black plague, or huddle in shelters as the cities around us burn, or scrounge for meager scraps of food in the face of starvation. The fact is, life never has been, and never will be, a set course to follow. It requires far too much adaptation and perseverance.
Our ancestors were strong AF, and they passed that strength on to us. If you’re worried about your ability to make it through tough times, remember that the gift of strength was already given to you through countless generations that survived hardships we can’t imagine. This is our adventure and our legacy – our moment in history. Embrace it, and pass the gift of strength on to the future.
So yes, I do fully believe that 2021 will be much harder, but I also fully believe that it’s our time to show the Universe what we’re made of.
I started writing Alice and the Warden back in February, when I was about halfway through my pregnancy with baby #5. Naturally, I was having *a lot* of dreams about pregnancy and babies at the time.
One in particular really stuck with me, about a young woman living alone in a tower, and I found myself thinking about it more and more. The pieces of a story started to come together in my mind, so I decided “what the hey” and went with it. Given the circumstances of my life at the time, I figured that it was going to be a “purely for fun” side project.
Aaaand seven months later, I’m 40,000 words in with a 3-month-old baby.
A little bit of trivia is that in the original dream, Alice had a brother who was friends with Damon. When Alice texted a picture of her baby to her brother, Damon saw it and put the pieces together that he was the father. However, once I started writing, I realized that the brother would function more as a prop than a character, so I cut him out.
Also, in the dream Alice and Damon broke up with a nasty fight after Damon replaced her with another girl. Again, a new girlfriend seemed more like a superfluous prop rather than a character, so I dropped that idea as well. Having her be flat out abandoned worked better with Alice’s neurosis, since she was still too “controlled” to suddenly blow up at Damon at that point in time.
Hackett was Hackett — basically no changes there. He fell in love with Alice the moment he caught her stealing his books with the intention of actually reading them.
There you have it, the origins of Alice and the Warden.
I’ve come to think of this as the theme song for Alice and the Warden.
It’s that time of year when I have to take full advantage of every sunny day.
One of the perks of being a stay-at-home mom is that I no longer have to spend these days wistfully looking out of windows as Spring blossoms on the world; I just tell the kids to put their shoes on, and out we go. Sunshine is an essential nutrient for everyone, and we need to catch up after months of clouds. It’s a matter of health.
Of course, the streams and puddles of melting snow means that there’s mud everywhere, and the children are having a hay day.
I love opening the windows and cleaning out the stuffiness of winter.
I love listening to chirping birds, watching the tulips start to pop up from the ground, and the way the world returns to green.
Ah, Spring. So marvelous.
And endlessly beckoning me with a voice too strong to resist.
I sat down to work on writing my story.
I had the 1.5-year-old solidly in my lap, flailing a balloon around and giggling.
The 8-year-old was listening to her favorite song on repeat.
The 4-year-old and 6-year-old were running around the darkened living room with a flashlight.
When all of a sudden it hit me that I was actually pulling it off.
Oh sure, my story wasn’t exactly progressing quickly, considering that I had to periodically move a balloon out of my face and all, but it was progressing. Despite all the chaos, I was actually getting some writing done.
And all I can feel is an awestruck sense of, “Wow.”
Once upon a time, I used to pray for the planets to align with nap times and quiet hours, then struggled with frustration when day after day refused to turn out the way I wanted it to. Finally, while my third was still a baby, I decided that I had enough and set my mind on writing Light Eternal, rain or shine.
That was late 2016. I finished the second draft a year later, then hung on to it for awhile out of indecision before officially publishing it in 2019. Phew.
In 2018 I had my fourth baby, and shortly afterwards started telling The Black Magus to myself during all the hours and hours and hours that I spent nursing. It wasn’t long before I figured out how to keep baby propped up on the pillow so I could write it down while the other children played video games. I am currently finishing the final proofread.
Some days, I have a harder time tuning out the noise and distractions, and having all the kids around probably isn’t helping me produce the highest quality of writing, but I have become a strong believer in persistence (and editing). It may take me forever to finish a novel, but progress is progress.
I’m blogging about this because I want other moms with small children to know that they can still have hobbies, without hiring a nanny or enlisting an army of babysitters. Guess what? You can still feel like a person with hopes and dreams, even with all the vacuuming and diaper changes.
You just need to find your zen, so to speak. Honestly evaluate what you’ve got to work with, and let go of the perfect scenarios that just aren’t going to happen. Find the spare time in between activities, and utilize it instead of killing it.
And I know: it’s hard. It took me eight years to get to this point, but I did it. Don’t ever give up.
Setting down the spatula, still laden with chocolate frosting, Elias calmly turned to face his death.
-The Black Magus, by Autumn Rain
I’m a hopeless romantic, through and through.
This was perhaps a bit silly of me, but after “The Scion Suit” gained a smidgen of attention on Reddit, I wondered if I should downplay the romance aspect of The Black Magus to make it sound more appealing to the sort of people who would actually read it — after all, I don’t think that I’d gain much traction with Twilight fans. But, I decided that would be rather disingenuous, considering that it’s right there in the very first chapter.
So there you have it: The Black Magus is the ultimate Mary-Sue fanfic, where the main character is a shy nobody who through sheer coincidence gains the attention of the most powerful magus on the planet. He competes against another magus to win her affection in a saucy love triangle, and ultimately pulls ahead by gifting her the most expensive car ever built. The girl, on the other hand, maintains an emotional affair with the other guy, just to prove how strong and independent she is after she’s married …
I’m totally not awesome enough to write that.
It’s not the sort of crap that’s always portrayed in popular romance novels. It’s also not the sort of “singles together” crap that we’re told to settle for because “romance doesn’t exist”. You won’t find any Taylor Swift songs that fit it.
It’s about devotion and compassion. It’s about two people joining together to become a family, and learning how to be there for each other. It’s about real love.
There’s also some stuff about magic and the world they live in, and a few other characters who have some dialogue and whatnot. You know, that necessary story-type stuff, to flesh it out into an actual novel and set up the sequel.
So, I have decided against downplaying the romance aspect of The Black Magus, because it is the entire foundation and structure of the novel. Please, don’t dismiss it because of a few bad stereotypes — I assure you that this story is different.