Archive: July 31, 2019

July 31

Checking In…

Hey, so I think the first episode of the PATB serial is officially ready. It won’t be available for purchase just yet though. This is my first book launch in a long time, and I need to think a lot about how I want to handle it. Not even along the lines of success–I need to figure out how to do this without bringing unneeded stress into my life that will harm me more than help.

While editing this episode, I was doing a lot of research into my condition and its relation to PTSD, and the correlation is really strong. The human body has built in defense mechanisms that shut it down when it feels required. The same way an animal might feign death when a predator is about to attack, the human body has the same kind of instinctual wiring deep within the nervous system. These systems can turn off dopamine production to stop the obsessive task orientation that can occur in trying to escape once danger has passed, which in turn disrupts motor skills and cognition. It can happen in learned helplessness, or when the body numbs to pain under stress. All these conditions from my emotional and physical numbing I experienced this summer, to the low dopamine symptoms of inability to lift my arms or hold my head up, the cognition loss, etc: these can all be a result of my body having been so ravaged by years of PTSD that it is shutting down as a defense mechanism.

I didn’t realize that just sitting, thinking I was relaxed, wasn’t actually me being relaxed. My body is tight, tense, my mind races, my thoughts hate to be still. I talk a lot about not knowing how to have fun, because, for real, I struggle with it so much. I can’t let myself just enjoy; I think everything I do needs a purpose. My mind knows it’s nonsense, but this is how I live my life. I rush everything–EVERYTHING–because I can’t feel comfortable in the stillness.

Peeps, I decided to start a business when I thought I was fucking dying! Not just the author stuff, either, btw. No, that was the ‘easy’ business. Before I got into writing, I was thinking of sculpting small figures, mass producing them, painting them with airbrushes, and selling them. My arms were so weak I could barely lift them, but I thought maybe I’d knit or crochet things to sell, or create a zillion of these beautiful tree of life necklaces I had designed. That might seem super cool ‘way to fight to live’ kinda bullshit, but that was me killing myself with stress when I needed more than anything to rest. I am fucked and never saw how damn bad it was.

When you read my first books, you’re looking through a brain of a traumatized individual who didn’t like to look around at the world, and therefore had difficulty describing it in words. Who was never really in her body, and therefore couldn’t convey the weight, the sensation, the depth of concrete imagery. I couldn’t write a complete sentence without rushing because a part of me is so uncomfortable being heard and sitting with my thoughts, that I just rush to the next idea, getting through it all instead of enjoying the experience. If you ever had a conversation with me in real life, whoo, it’s rough. I can’t finish my sentences without rushing through. I can’t handle being heard by others, partly because I don’t feel comfortable hearing myself.

I have been running on adrenaline for so long, I don’t know what calm actually is. But I need to figure it out because when I fail and I start rushing again, my body shuts down. It will hit me with a fever, or take the use of my arms away and force me to fall asleep, or will make it so I can’t focus, and I’ll get distracted by whatever, because ‘whatever’ isn’t stressing me out the way the other thing was I was trying to focus on. And it’s not like ‘things’ stress me out–I stress myself out over things. I’m the one doing this shit to myself. I strive to be perfect, controlled, useful, driven and exact instead of just letting myself exist.

I think I realized just why I like shifters so much, because my inner primitive animal is fighting me for control of my body, demanding I change or be knocked out of life for a while. Ha, and no, I didn’t see that when I started writing but it sure seems obvious now. It’s important I figure this out, and as a result, I need to slow down and see where I’m creating stress. I need to find the space between my thoughts and feel comfortable sitting with me. I’m practicing mindfulness lately, and looking at an interesting read about dystonia–dystonia is the movement disorder side of Parkinson’s, but is also traced to trauma wiring the nervous system. This particular doctor has a theory that movement can rewire the brain back to proper health by engaging and rewiring the nervous system. It’s been helping; just stretching when I feel certain muscles tighten and my energy start draining has given me my movement and energy back really quickly. I can see how my thoughts trigger the flares now, how stress does, how self doubt… It’s a lot to take in, and I’m being super slow with that too because I have a habit of jumping in to new health treatments and pushing to get results like I’m running a marathon instead of allowing myself to relax and heal.

I am so hard on myself, peeps, it feels impossible to put into words because I still can’t grasp it. It’s that aspect of my personality–this rigid, demanding drive to succeed at everything including healing–that is likely the source of so much of my problems. I am terrified of looking at myself, so I DO–I run around doing things, putting these value systems on the tasks I do to feel like I’m therefore a valuable person. But if I can’t value myself at rest, I am never actually valuing me, so the vicious cycle continues. I need to find that deep compassion I can find so easily for everyone I meet and actually turn it inward and let myself be okay existing.

It’s tough right now. It’s good to finally see this big link to it all, but whoo, it’s tough to face it at the same time. There are so many things I want to do, but because I let this get so bad, I need to pace myself and do the inner work. I’m waiting for the day I’ll finally sink into my body, sink into my life, and I won’t have to question it all, just experience.

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🌍Please Stay Safe

Hey babes,

Guys, I totally missed the fact that ICE raids were happening this weekend when I sent out the Newsletter talking about covers and visual novels and damn…

I’m so sorry. I’m living in my own little world of illness and creativity, and I’m really fucking privileged to not have to personally worry about this. The news is so full of misery that I can only tune in so much. To all the people with family, friends, loved ones and acquaintances facing this hate based ethnic cleansing currently tearing through the US pulling families and communities apart, my heart goes out to you. Please stay safe, and stay strong.

You are worthy, just like we all are, and I’m so sorry that you have to live in fear based on something as wholly insignificant as the place of your birth. Humans keep making these inane, insane rules and then point to them like they’re supposed to mean a fucking thing. No wall or border or culture or language or accumulation of wealth can separate the fact that we’re all human, all deserving, all equal of being treated with respect and dignity. I hate that it’s the worst of us running the show, while the best of us are just wondering how to fucking cope with it all.

Remember, don’t open the door. “An ICE deportation warrant is not the same as a search warrant. If that is the only document ICE brings to a home raid, ICE does not have a legal right to enter a home.”

Stay safe. You’re loved even if these bigoted fucks make you feel anything but.

💞Seriously Cool Stuff This Week!❤💕

Hey babes,

Okay, so cool stuff this week! For one, Wendy has released her Foundling Trilogy. And might I say, the covers are absolutely spectacular. *preen*

 

The Foundling Trilogy

Wendy talks about the creation of this trilogy, and in it, a bit of her process as an mm author. She jumped into the genre writing field after coming from a literary background, and part of the beauty of the Foundling Trilogy is watching her find her voice when she shares these characters with the world, book by book. On her Facebook page, you can find more interesting tidbits from her behind the scene world as a writer, as well as on her group page, Wendyland.

 

A Little History on How the Foundling Trilogy Came to Be… (by Wendy Rathbone)

Back in 2012 I knew gay porn was being written, and some was romance, but I didn’t know there was a whole genre called “mm romance.” I’d never heard the term.

I come from a background of many different writing experiences including non-fiction, poetry and fantasy short stories. I wrote a ton of slash fanfic and was always hungry for more male/male (in the past we spelled it out and put the slash between the ‘m’s). The mm romance genre was young and new, and I had not heard of it yet.

At that time, I also had a wonderful obsession with Anais Nin, who wrote beautiful and poetic erotica back in the 1930s and ‘40s for a mysterious benefactor who paid her and her friends a dollar a page for sex stories, and she had two volumes of erotica published, as well as very sexually explicit diaries of her life and her sexual exploits juggling a husband and multiple lovers. I couldn’t stop reading her lush prose, her amazing insights, her deep thoughts about her explicit sexual encounters. But she comes from another time, thus she writes phrases like: “He stormed and sought to conquer.” “He made of their room a den covered in rugs and tapestries, perfumed.” “A long member came out from the middle of one man and penetrated another from behind.” She even eroticized rape. And yes, these books are sold on Amazon despite taboos in them because they are considered “literary.”

I was in a dreamy swoon over it all.

I had an idea for an original gay love story and had the thought, after encountering mostly gay porn (not romance) for several years that I wanted to tackle the experience of writing beautiful erotica and try to stay away from typical porn-isms for just one short book. Not that anything is wrong with porn. I love porn. But I was in a swoon over Anais’s ability to write in a different (albeit “dated”) language. And I am a poet at heart, and was trained in literary writing as well.

I deliberately chose to write a hard-hearted character, someone who is the last person you might expect to tell a story from a swoon-worthy point of view, but he can’t help it. A man has entered Diego’s edgy life and he is instantly challenged by his dramatic feelings and transformed.

This was an experiment. It was supposed to be a one-off. I had zero plans for three books. I’m a pantser, so I didn’t even know there would be more story to come after the first erotically poetic short novel.

I put the story on Amazon under gay erotica. I called it a hot gay love story. I did not understand the language or terminology that existed then for mm romance.

When I wrote book 2, the plot just came to me. It was a year later and I decided to use a more straight-forward third person writing style. Yes, it’s still lush, and it’s hot, but I was less Anais-influenced and more wanting to write in a fever about these characters. I saw mm romance then. I was still exploring it as a genre, still new, but I was happy to find it as a reality! So with the second book I deliberately made it more relate-able.

Two years later, book 3 came to me out of nowhere. I am a pantser which means I use zero outlines and very few notes, if any. I just hear a character and go with them.

I was writing another novel at the time, but suddenly Alec started talking in my head. Dictating his story. He was shy and afraid at first. He wouldn’t let me know much at all about him, so I let him babble. He’s emotionally unstable, a bit messed up (for good reason!) That book is first person, and because Alec is himself in a dream-state a lot of the time due to amnesia and nightmares of his past ordeal at the hands of sex traffickers, I let him go on. The first parts of that books show his mind-state. It’s a dreamland a lot of the time. He’s not right in the head. But the second part is intense angst and very straight-forward as he finally confesses, and finally remembers himself. It is, I think, the strongest of all the books, and makes me cry every time I re-read it.

What a ride this was! All of it was an experiment. I didn’t consciously do formula romance. I focused hard on setting-as-character and how it affects emotion. And I focused on character-driven 100%.

On the re-release of these books of my heart, I updated everything I could, editing, proofing, tech, covers. It’s been almost a year in the works to re-do and re-brand these books.

I write this history because I want people to know how these books came to be and how and why they differ in style from each other and from my more recent books. My journey has been my own, unique and wonderful, writing from a state of pure love.

The mm romance genre continues to be a hard place to actually experiment in and win favors, but I love it so much! I read it all. The bestsellers, formula, and especially seek out the unique and on the edge authors who unabashedly blaze new paths into kink, dark and taboo. And some of the more poetic authors… I sink into your books!

I think it’s all wonderful and I thank you all every day for letting me be a part of it!”

Free on KU<3

I gotta say, I do love when authors share their process. It’s like getting a little window into their minds. These three books are an amazing exploration of love and lust in the settings of a dark, humid jungle to the streets of San Francisco. The characters unfold, resistant in their defenses and deeply felt pain, to both each other and the reader. The journey is a glimpse into the soul in all the right ways.

book 1

Rescue Me

book 2

Sacrifice Me

book 3 *release date 7/15

Remember Me

 

The Foundling Trilogy Covers

 

 

I was really excited to be invited to take on the Foundling Trilogy cover project and give them a contemporary makeover. Working with stock photos to ensure that the covers all look related can be damn difficult, especially when sifting through models and trying to get the right look and feel (and face! @[email protected]) But there was something about this project that just clicked, and I felt like I grew a lot as a cover artist as a result.

I used color pallets I’ve avoided before this project, especially yellow. (Yellow has been such a challenge for me. I found interesting research that it could be linked to the Parkinson’s and how the brain perceives tone and color, which might be used to diagnose the illness.) I truly feel the second cover with the yellow/purple color theme pops—They all do, really. (Do I get to say that? Like, is that just narcissistic as fuck?) There was just something about that touch of cherry red on the bridge of the third cover that I fell in love with. Anyway, I’m super happy with the results. I got to give readers a peek into each book, hopefully appealing enough for them to want to crack the story open and give it a read.

 

I started the visual novel project!

 

 

I started the Demon Virus one too, but it’s only for members. Everything Demon Bonded is free—cuz fuck yeah, Demon Bonded! I think it’ll be interesting to watch these games grow.

So it’s all preliminary stuff at the moment as I try to understand the game engine and how to get my vision to manifest. But it’s been so much fun! (Frustrating too, let’s be real XD) but I’m really enjoying this approach to telling a story and engaging readers in a new way. I only have placeholder images. I need to take some time to sculpt the characters and actually learn the texturing in Blender so I can get some color on them. I want to do the background scenes and everything with 3D modeling—it may seem like a lot of initial work, but everything I make can be reused.

It’s why I’m making two games at once “Demon Bonded” and “Demon Virus.” Both are long games that will require reuse of the characters. If I’m going to put the effort in, it should be for strong story based stuff that can be revisited, chapters added with ease, art made with the character models to collect, etc.

These project has been a long way coming. Not just because of the illness. I’ve been struggling with adulting, if I’m honest.

It’s one of those things where I think if I do ‘the right thing,’ I’ll get good results. Instead, I just get bored, and frustrated, and fight myself like a kid having a tantrum. I know as a ‘proper’ writer, I should stay on focus, write what I’m ‘supposed’ to. It’s good business. But my creativity just doesn’t work like that. Which I fucking knew when starting, yeah? Once I hit the 10,000 word mark, I want to write a new story. All the time. But I’ve been fighting that and I think it’s been stifling my creativity a lot.

When I resist my impulse to play (which writing used to be for me,) writing becomes this horrible, mean job where I can’t find my happiness. Working on these visual novels has been a lot of play for me after a really long time of telling myself I have to work instead.

I don’t know if it’s my neurotic brain, something to do with the low dopamine, or what, but I get stuck in these really dumb ideas of ‘supposed to.’ I mean, really dumb. I know they’re dumb every time I stop and question it, but there I am, stuck anyways. I start judging myself, telling myself real writers work like machines and write what they’re supposed to, not what they love or are inspired by in the moment. I start thinking people are judging me, angry I haven’t finished other projects (and fuck, I get PMs along those lines, lets be real.) It’s hard to remember I’m a human being, not a human doing, and I have limitations.

I can’t be a machine; I don’t want to be a machine. I want to have fun. I started writing to have fun and it’s really important I figure out how to keep that fun in my life.

I think these visual novels are going to add to that fun and help break up the monotony of ‘supposed to’ I’ve trapped myself in. I enjoy learning— when I learn something new, I am having the most fun. So I need to make sure I’m learning while I’m also writing novels and series and such. I need to start adding that into my priority list of being human.

I hope you’re all having a marvelous weekend and enjoying the weather! I keep waking up when the sun is about to disappear, but even so, I may have tanned a bit. XD Not quite as pale and ghostly as before. Good stuff. 😉