Author Musings #11

I thought I’d return to these ramblings about my writing and publishing efforts but not do them weekly; rather, just an occasional series. So I’ve decided to return to my original plan of self-publishing even though I didn’t query very long, and I’m excited about it.

Feels like I’m one of the few authors who’s not interested in querying, though. Maybe one day, if I have the right book, but the way the market is now, I would need to write sapphic books, since these days it’s all about writing characters that share your identity. Vampires and werewolves are an overdone, oversaturated trope and I think agents often reject them as soon as they see them. I even saw a publisher whose guidelines said paranormal romance but no vampires or werewolves or any combination thereof. What else do you write about, selkies? Mediums? More traditional publishers are picking up queer books, and vampires come and go; but it’s always wait and see every three years what an agent or publisher feels like buying in the heat of the moment.

I write the kind of books that fit into familiar favorites and popular genres, but I write anti-tropes that are difficult to market. I could see myself querying 200 agents and spending a year on sub to find the right person who loves my weird stuff and I’m just not sure it is really worth it; nor do I have the patience to chase that gamble even if I know I’m good enough and my book has wider appeal. Even after you land a book deal you still have to move copies or you’ll be in the midlist forever. Many traditionally published authors with several books under their belt that they’ve successfully queried still need day jobs.

Then small presses, you earn 30-40 percent of the royalties, and they do the work of cover art and editing so you don’t have to invest in that upfront yourself. But many of them rely on their authors for their exposure, you have to do all the marketing yourself, and you can’t track and guide sales plans as easily as if you were doing it yourself. I’d rather query or self-pub than go with a small press, personally. This, even though small presses are friendlier to edgier, riskier topics and subgenres that major publishers won’t touch. Half are vanity presses, poorly run out of the owner’s pocket, and nothing more than social clubs that won’t last for more than a few years, anyway. You can usually tell by their business model, by their website and by their marketing plans. Many, though, are completely legitimate and have an important place in the market.

So self-pub it is. I like the idea of creative control, and the fact that I know I’m good enough and my book has wide appeal means to me that I think it has a good chance to sell more than the average of 150-200 copies if I market it right. I’m finishing up final edits now; my editor finished his major edit, and now we are checking it for continuity issues. This is the dark werewolf m/m romantic suspense novel.

Then I’ll figure out cover art; I may invest in an illustrator or do the cover art myself as I’m a photographer and have graphic design knowledge; I haven’t decided. I bought Atticus for formatting. I’m researching marketing and launch strategies. I’m going through several different drafts of my back cover/sales blurb, which is very important for marketing self-pub books. Then to figure out ARC copies and a release date. I am getting so close to pushing this baby out into the world.

I’m about 62k words into Book 2, as well, which focuses on halfbreeds and a side character, Eamon, and his love story with an FBI agent, Isaiah, who has a child whose mother was killed.

In other projects, I’ve decided to work on multiple WIPs this month to see what lands. I’m still working on my sapphic romantic psychological thriller from NaNoWriMo; I’ve got about 24k words in that one. I started a new m/m steamy contemporary fake dating romance about a guy who comes out as bi whose new gay friend is helping him get comfortable with his sexuality; problem being, he’s socially awkward as hell. I’m about 9k words in that one and constantly daydreaming about it so I think I’ll stick with it.

That’s about it for writing and publishing news. Until next time.

Instagram tips for writers looking for a Twitter alternative

One of the things I always hear from writers who want to dump Twitter when Instagram is suggested, “I’m a word person. I don’t do visual content.”

When really, that’s their first mistake, in thinking of it as “visual content.” When you say “visual content” you think you have to have a fancy DSLR, frame a shot with good composition and lighting, and engage in high-class production values. That sounds like a lot of work. When you’re tweeting, you’re also producing content, but you don’t think of it as marketing content because you’re tweeting about your day, chatting to your writer friends, or posting your word count.

Instagram is much the same. In fact, professional photographers struggle to use it because it wasn’t set up for professional photographers. You have to practically hack it to get it to work on your desktop. Slick, professional shots don’t do well in the algorithm. Instagram was originally envisioned as a place for friends to share pictures of their day. They didn’t need to be professional “visual content.” Think snaps of your garden, your food, books you’re reading; I use it to hold myself accountable with my new gym habit I’m hoping to form.

Most of all think of your audience. What does your audience consume? Is your audience even on Instagram? Maybe you don’t need it, if your audience isn’t there. Instagram is all about the aesthetics. Memes sometimes work. But snippets don’t play as well here. No one wants to go to your profile and scroll through a grid full of blocky word pictures. They want to see you, even if you’re not a model. I see a lot of nerdy types on Instagram, so don’t think you have to be skinny and hot for your selfies to get attention. If you’re a horror writer, take spooky, moody shots of your street at night, for example. It’s all about the vibes. And you don’t need a fancy camera. You just need your phone, and to hold your hand steady so you take a non-blurry shot.

But some of my grainiest, poorest lit photographs, too, will get more likes, because people respond to the heartfelt caption. Captions are huge too. Instagram is about words as well as visual content. And you can still post your word counts here; just go to Canva, pick a template, and make it pretty. Don’t forget alt text for the visually impaired. Just please make it pretty. Instagram is all about the pretty aesthetics. It’s where you go to relax from the politics, controversy and arguments on Facebook and Twitter, by scrolling through meditation prompts, pictures of the Northern Lights or even hot people.

Reels are also huge; they started as Instagram’s competition to Tiktok. If you’re stuck with reels, just repost your Tiktok videos. It’s part of the culture; lots of people do that and you won’t be looked down on for cross-posting, since Tiktok and Instagram users often are not the same. Posting reels and stories will help you get boosted in the algorithm because you’re using all of the service’s features.

Most of all it works like any other algorithm-based social network. The more you like and comment on other people’s posts and stories, the more visibility you will attain. It’s slower to build on Instagram because people aren’t as interactive as Twitter and its word-based alternatives. But there is an audience who uses Instagram and no other platform. They tend to be Millennial age, because we grew up using Instagram before Facebook bought it, after we got sick of Facebook when all our parents and grandparents joined up for baby pictures.

Just take a look at the #bookstagram tag and see what genres are popular. YA, fantasy, women’s fiction and romance do well on Instagram. Hashtags also help raise visibility but if you use too many you just double up on tags – and your caption will look ugly. Pick a few and make sure to share your latest posts to your stories so people know how to find it.

Thus wraps my top Instagram tips for writers; hope this helps make the platform seem less intimidating.

How I Did In NaNoWriMo: Wrap Up Report

As I fully expected, I failed to win National Novel Writing Month; but it’s all good, I still feel satisfied with the progress I made on my new manuscript, SAKURA SEASON, a psychological thriller set in Japan. The biggest reason why I did not make it is that I didn’t write every day and took too many breaks.

I think I need to learn to not overthink things as well; I put too much pressure on myself to make perfect sentences and make sure the plot is flowing. To win NaNoWriMo you have to vomit it out and that’s what makes it fun.

Here’s a chart from Scrivener of how I did for the month.

I ended at 22,457 words, so that’s a pretty good start. When I get past 20,000, I usually know I will stick with a manuscript. I tend to lose interest quickly especially if I feel it’s not going well. I am not very good at vomit writing. I always want to go back and edit and make it perfect. Perfectionism means I take awhile to finish manuscripts, though.

I missed about 14 days I’d say. If I’d kept up my pace I think I could have easily gone past 30,000.

I feel much better about NaNoWriMo than in past years though. I didn’t give into the pressure of comparing myself to others although I fully admit to feeling jealous of those who made it to 50,000. Only human, right? I may try again in June for Camp NaNoWriMo with a new mental attitude and some of the tricks I’ve learned. I’m going to keep working on SAKURA SEASON because I like how this manuscript is taking shape. It will be a shorter book, around 60-75,000 words I think, so I think it’s manageable.

In December I’m going to keep trying to write most days, but I won’t write every day. I think I will take 2-3 day breaks every week. Seems to help refresh my creative engine. Writing every day isn’t the most productive for me unless I’m really in the zone. I am also going to switch between multiple WIPs in December. I think I will take fewer breaks if I jump between ideas and it will help me feel less bored or stuck.

I have:

  • The thriller
  • A contemporary fake-dating holiday romance between two guys
  • Book 2 of the werewolf trilogy
  • Getting Book 1 ready for release
  • Possibly also a horror novella

So I have a busy end of the year ahead of me in writing.

Can’t believe it is already December.

NaNoWriMo Week Three Progress Report

Image from Pixabay

Truth is, I don’t feel like I really did make much progress over the last week, but I don’t want you to think I have given up like past years, so here I am, faithfully checking in.

I skipped four days because I was so exhausted. Haven’t been sleeping well and felt like I’d be forcing creativity if I made myself sit down and write. It’s always a balancing act between forcing yourself and making yourself do something instead of coming up with excuses, I think. But one day passed into the next until it was four days.

However, I have since caught up over the weekend, and now I’ve hit 20,387 words, so I’m happy with that. Slow progress is still progress, and there is hope even if you have not made huge gains like others. I usually give up after 20,000 words, thinking my first draft isn’t worth pursuing, I lose interest in my characters and I think I can’t possibly add enough conflict. 20,000 words is my usual wall. But this time I am determined to stick with this till the end.

That to me will be a win for me, because in past years, I’ve given up by now, seeing how far along everyone else got and how I’ll never catch up. I will be plugging away every day until November 30 and I’ll feel accomplished.

So my next goal is to make it past 25,000 words this week. I have a four-day weekend for the American Thanksgiving holiday coming up, and no big plans other than a small dinner with my partner, so I should have plenty of time to catch up, or keep going. All I care about right now is not quitting. I can do this! And you can do it, too, if you are sticking with it and also behind like me.

NaNoWriMo Week Two Progress Report

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Commencing Week Two of National Novel Writing Month. I am still feeling good about my project but this is usually the time I give up on my WIPs. I see how much further along everybody is in their manuscripts and I give into the pressure. I’ll never catch up so why bother? But since I started off slow with 500-1,000 a day word counts, and I didn’t anticipate I’d actually make the 50,000 words, I am giving myself grace and using those power word counts from the community as motivation instead. I need it to light a fire under my belly to keep going and push through.

I have failed in my goal to write every day, however, but that is okay. I skipped the 14th, when I was exhausted after going out of town to visit friends. I also skipped the 10th. But because I know I’m playing catch-up I am using that as fuel to stay consistent with my daily writing sessions since then. Sometimes you need to make yourself sit down and write even when you’re tired, like making yourself go to the gym when you really don’t feel like it; other times it is better to rest, instead of to force creativity.

However, right now it feels like I’m endlessly playing catch up. But I am really proud of my progress so far.

I am currently at 17,299 words in my psychological thriller, and I have ramped up my daily word count sessions from 500 words a day to 1k-2k words a day. My goal is to exceed 25,000 by the end of this week. I feel like the momentum is lagging in this part of the plot and I need to raise the stakes and increase the external conflict and action, so I am planning on taking some notes to inspire me to push through the rest of the next milestone. I usually don’t outline much, I just daydream my way through; but I don’t want to write a bunch of muddled, boring chapters just for the sake of a word count that I will have to cut later. The word count isn’t as important as whether the words are good, and if the words are good it will motivate me to keep going.

That said, I am not getting bogged down by editing as I go. For me, as I am a perfectionist, that is a sure way to get mired in an endless loop of perfectionism. For instance, I realized a different POV served my story better; I switched to writing it in first person present tense. The first 10,000 words are all in third person limited, but that is too much work to change that as I go. I will never get anywhere in the plot.

The challenge now is since it’s a psychological thriller, I feel it needs to take place in a confined area. In this instance, it’s a haunted ryokan. So I am taking notes and daydreaming, visualizing my story as a movie, to try to increase the conflict even in a tight physical space.

But overall I am feeling good about my project. I am not giving up. I just need to be consistent and write every day because it’s fun and I need to know what happens next. If I am in suspense, the reader will find it unpredictable, too. This is part of what I find joyful about discovery writing, without a detailed plan to guide you. It is a more visceral, nerve-wracking way to write, and it’s what I need to keep myself interested in the story. It doesn’t have to be perfect; the magic happens in the editing. I just need to get the bones down.

Hope your Nano projects are going well. If you’re flagging, maybe it is time to re-evaluate your goals or your plot. Hang in there writers!

NaNoWriMo Week One Progress Report

Image by 0fjd125gk87 from Pixabay 

I’ve decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month this November, despite my utterly failed previous attempts in other years. I always think this will be the year and cave under the pressure. I finished my werewolf book in a very Nano-like manner, though, writing in chunks nearly every day, so I know I have the capability of doing it.

I am working on a sapphic romantic psychological thriller set in Tokyo, Japan, among expats and the yakuza; writing women this time is an interesting departure, but the world needs more sapphic stories. I decided to do an alternative NaNoWriMo and not stress about word counts; only try to write every day. I am aiming for 40,000 words instead of 50,000.

Normally I end up posting to Twitter and that’s that, but with the implosion of that platform recently I’ve taken a break from tweeting, so I’m only updating Instagram and the NaNoWriMo website. I miss some of the community that way, but it’s also much less distracting.

The first week has been slow going. I thought I’d try something different and plot this one out, but every time I tried to prepare a plot in October I became frozen and couldn’t even jot down simple scene summaries in the various outlining methods I’ve experimented with. So I decided to return to my pantsing ways. Writing by the seat of my pants. I am not editing as I go this time though because I found I just cut a lot of that in revisions anyway, so hopefully I will save time by just pounding it all out in one big fever dream. My goal is continuously think of the action and increased conflict in the next few scenes. My weakness in pantsing has always been that I can write well, my prose and my characters are strong, but my storytelling isn’t as good.

So because I was taking a wild plunge into my story, starting out was like molasses. 500, 600 words here and there. I didn’t write yesterday at all because I couldn’t force myself to the keyboard and I don’t like to force writing sessions. And I had intended my weekend to be my big catch-up time.

Thus Sunday was the day I had left. Today I managed 3,662 words, bringing my total word count up to 6,679. I feel a renewed vigor and interest in my story. I feel like I finally hit upon the hook and why this story matters for me, and I find myself daydreaming the next scenes and sensing the same pull to the pages that enabled me to finish my other book in five months of drafting.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings, but I am fired up about this project now and anticipate pouring out more than 500 words with tomorrow’s session.

Weekly Musings #10

Image from Pixabay

After about a week and a half break, I couldn’t stand being away from my manuscript so long and I finally started to tackle my revisions for my paranormal romance.

I thought it would be hard to attain the necessary objectivity as I felt pretty attached to my characters, but I started working on it in December so the first half of the book was far enough away and I was surprised at just how quickly my professional editor’s reflexes kicked in. I have demolished at least three chapters already. It started off at just over 100,000 words and I hope to cut it down to 90,000 words, which is a bit more appropriate for the genre; but only if I can tell the story efficiently enough. If it needs more words, then it needs more words.

I feel much closer to the second half of the book so I think it will be a lot harder to kill my darlings in that section. “Killing your darlings” is writer-speak for cutting out stuff you’re attached to but do not add to the story in the long run. I am attached to a side character romance between Eamon and Isaiah and I may have spent too much time on that, but as Eamon is one of the three POV’s in the book, I may have to keep it. I didn’t want it to be too predictable, either. But maybe those chapters just need to be backstory. Something to ponder later on.

I have also decided, after looking into the cost of hiring an editor (anywhere from $600-1800), commissioning cover art ($50-150 on Fiverr, $350-600 for some artists), and investing in Atticus formatting software ($149), I have decided I am going to submit to small presses first instead of self publishing, and keep self publishing in my back pocket if the small presses don’t give me what I want.

I think I have a pretty good chance, considering as paranormal romance, crime and queer characters are big sellers right now for debut authors. And I think small presses are a good compromise between self publishing and querying. You don’t get as much of the control or the royalties with small presses, but after investing in my team I don’t expect I’ll get much in royalties anyway. I’d rather have an established business do that work for me, if I can get accepted, as long as it is not a vanity press or hybrid press. If I have to pay money to publish, I’d rather self publish and pick my own team.

I’m not interested in querying because this is a very niche market, and ownvoices is very trendy right now. I am a queer author but I am not queer guy, but I’m writing about queer guys in love. Besides, querying takes too long. You often spend a year getting rejected by agents and then a year getting rejected by publishers your agent pitches, especially if it’s not a trending topic. I want my book published faster than that. It can happen faster than that if your book has the right magic sauce, but reading the tea leaves of the rapidly changing publishing industry is complicated.

So I have been looking at small publishers who are interested in LGBT paranormal romance crime thrillers and compiling a list of people to submit to. I figure I’ll give it a good six months and if I get buried by rejections, I can still go about hiring an editor and proceeding with my original self publishing plans.

And I also recently read Richard Russo’s essay “Getting Good” that ultimately persuaded me to try small presses. It helped me understand the value in rejection and how having a community of professional people in the publishing industry can help improve your craft and help you grow as a writer. I am fine with running my own publishing house and thinking of it as a business, but I also don’t want to pump out 30 books a year just to be remembered by the algorithm. I want to take my time, be inspired, and get good, be the best I can be with my craft.

But first things first: The edits. Had to take another little break from it because I was starting to get too obsessed. Can’t find your romantic leads annoying, after all, or the reader will. I’ve been saving multiple drafts as I make major changes to the first half, then I compile everything into an ebook format and read it again on my Kindle – I always manage to find typos I missed versus when I look at it in Scrivener. I’m actually surprised at how ruthless I’ve been. I was really finding my way in my first half and just racing to achieve a word count, I think. I found my footing in the second half, which won’t need as much work.

I’ve also closed down my Patreon and I’ll only be keeping up with my Ko-fi from now on. I just wasn’t getting enough interest in previews of upcoming works, but I think people would be interested in my short stories if they were free on a donation basis. I still have to work on building a fanbase for my writing, after all. I get ahead of myself sometimes. I also decided to discontinue my newsletter because after a year I only had 15 subscribers. That’s the advice that people always give to new authors, but frankly I’ve had more luck with my blog so that’s where I’ll focus my efforts for now.

That’s all my ramblings for now. Until next week!

Support me on Ko-fi

Weekly Musings #9

(Image from Pixabay)

My enormously exciting news is that I have finally, at long last, after five months of steady work, finished my first draft of the paranormal romance crime thriller.

Clocking in at 100,071 words, it is finally done. Well, not done, because I still have massive amounts of editing to do, but considering all the half-finished manuscripts littering my hard drive the past few years, it’s a huge accomplishment for me. Have to celebrate the wins when you get them.

I took a week off from writing even though it made me itchy and worked on my reading. I have an enormous list of books to catch up on and some more pre-orders on the way. This weekend I thought I had enough space from it so I compiled my Scrivener file into a Kindle ebook and read through the whole book.

I thought I had been good at editing as I went along but other than a few typos I was mostly just good at proofreading and producing clean copy. I can really see the split between when I was working on it just once a week while writing another project; and when I really became immersed in the story and the world and began working on it every day. There is a subtle shift in tone.

That said, I think the first draft is not terrible; what mainly needs work is fixing up the copy, have more show and tell and less body language, and I need to totally gut the first half to make it align with the second half. There are a few gems that I will keep but I need to do some serious rewriting.

I think I need another week off from it to regroup though. I am far too obsessed and fixated on it right now. The second half is much better than the first half but like I say you can tell when I found my footing, got to know my characters and warmed to the plot. Life of a pantser. But I find I am looking forward to editing. Drafting was a nerve-wracking rollercoaster, like diving off a cliff; editing will be polishing the turd into gold.

I may start working on some short stories although mainly I need to clear my brain space, which is hard to do because I’ve worked so hard on that thing. I’ve decided I will also purchase Atticus for formatting, hire a cover artist from Fiverr and hire an editor, after I finish my own rewrites. This is my baby and I want to do this self publishing thing right, even if I end up losing money, which I probably will. It’s also a passion and I have to invest in it.

In other news, I decided I will close down my Patreon in June once the serialized version of my story ends. I only ever got two patrons and I think it was hard to get people interested in the paywall. From July on out I will focus on my Ko-fi and a serialized fiction site like Kindle Vella or Radish Fiction and post my fiction for free to build up a fan base. The plan is to keep on submitting short stories, then post the rejections to Ko-fi, hopefully compiling enough to publish in a collection.

Until next time, friends! I finally finished something for once… I cannot believe it. I am still pinching myself. It’s been years in the making and you can do it too.

Support me on: Patreon | Ko-fi

Weekly Musings #8

Image from Pixabay

I don’t know what got into me but I way surpassed my weekly target goal this last week. I am feeling a really odd mixture of excitement, trepidation and nerves as I near the end of my first draft of my paranormal romance crime thriller. I think I was feeling inspired by getting so close and pushed through, and I kept getting good ideas and had to run with them.

My WIP is now up to 98,586 words. I have one more chapter left to write, the marriage proposal chapter (I don’t mind telling you that my paranormal romance has a Happily For Now ending. Happily For Now since this is only Book One of a trilogy!) I for one appreciate HEAs and HFNs (Happily Ever After and Happily For Now endings) so I don’t mind spoiling you on that.

I was going to push through and finish today but I think I’ll stretch it out over the next week and really take my time with it. I didn’t manage to write a short story, but there will be time for that tonight when I was going to plug away at my novel some more. I did, however, write a blog post. I usually write my short stories to submit on Sundays because I have all day and I can work on them in 20-minute chunks of time between doing other chores, and my emotional headspace is cleared from the weekday triggers of the day job.

After that I’m planning on taking a month off from working on the paranormal romance. I’m still too close to it so I don’t think I could dive straight into editing with the proper brutal touch. My characters Mal and Noah have become like living, breathing beings to me and it feels like introducing my children into the world. Being a novelist is kind of like playing God.

I will spend that month working on short stories and Bablyon 5 slash fanfiction under a pen name. If you follow me on Twitter I’ll whisper my pen name on there if you’re interested in that sort of thing. I also plan to catch up on my enormous backlog of reading and write some book reviews and maybe some Medium articles. These are all a different kind of writing mentality than producing a novel, and I don’t want to take a break from writing completely to lose my momentum.

Then I’ll be able to detach myself from my darlings and approach editing my first draft with the proper brutality. I’m looking forward to the revising process. I plan to spend two-three months on it.

I’m finally feeling better from my cold as well, so my other goal is to get back into my exercise routine. I need to go to the gym and pool at least three times a week.

Feeling very excited that I will finish my first draft this week. I started working on this project on December 5, 2021 according to my Scrivener writing history. Now I’m nearing the end, and I’m an odd mix of chaos, panic and reverence.

Until next week, friends of the pen.

Support me on: Patreon | Ko-fi

The Mythology of my Werewolf Universe

Image from Pixabay

I thought I’d talk a little bit about how my werewolf universe came to be in my manuscript, CRY WOLF. I’m going to be changing this title, but it’s the working title for now.

I fully admit I picked paranormal romance because originally I was going to publish this as a serialized story to Kindle Vella. I looked at what sells and trending categories on Vella and paranormal romance sells. Considering I’d struggled to complete manuscripts in the grimdark fantasy and horror genres I’d dabbled in previously, I thought, why not. Because I like to be difficult, I decided to make it a romance between queer guys. I am queer and even though straight romance sells better I want to see more queer romance; besides, it’s more fun to write.

Paranormal romance usually involves supernatural beings like vampires, witches and werewolves. Vampires are so popular, even getting their own mainstream soapy TV shows on the CW and bestselling movies. But werewolves don’t get enough love, so I picked werewolves. I am a big fan of forbidden love as a trope, so I made my romantic leads a werewolf and a human.

Because I’m a pantser, and I wanted to make my werewolves fresh and unrecognizable from pop culture or any tabletop gaming systems, I made up my werewolf mythology as I went along.

In my universe, there are all kinds of creatures – werewolves, vampires, witches, demons. Creatures came to being in ancient Europe when the early church was experimenting with demon possession. Eventually demon DNA mixed with human DNA and the first creatures were created. These creatures branched off into werewolves and vampires and et cetera. Witches have the most powerful source of magic but other creatures can do limited magic.

This brings up the problem of halfbreeds. When werewolves breed with humans they produce a halfbreed werewolf. This becomes a thing later on in my story and attracts the interest of the FBI, which enters into a covenant with the werewolf clans. In my story werewolves operate in a clan structure, similar to indigenous tribes, and they have their own jurisdiction. They don’t exactly shout about their presence but the U.S. government officially recognizes them even though most humans think they are just a myth.

I decided to portray the werewolves similar to dissociative identity disorder; not an exact replica, but similar. When Mal, my main character (MC) shifts into wolf form, he takes on a different name, Etienne, and has a different personality. He is a wolf with some abilities that wolves in the wild don’t possess. Mal doesn’t remember what happens to him when he’s Etienne and doesn’t have any control over Etienne, but their consciousnesses are still linked even though they can’t directly talk to each other. They more convey communication through emotions.

When werewolves mate, they mark someone as their mate. This can be conscious or subconscious as long as there is a strong desire on the part of the people involved. Mates can be polyamorous or exclusive although most mate for life. Creatures can smell desire thanks to a finely tuned ability to detect pheromones.

I’m sure the number one question I will get asked is why with four queer guys with sexual tension, did I not make them polyamorous?

I thought about a Mal/Noah/Eamon story for a time, in fact. But I decided this was too easy. I wanted to show queerplatonic, lovers-to-friends relationships, which you see rarely in fiction. Not every queer person is polyamorous. Polyamory needs more attention in fiction too, but I decided lovers-to-friends would provide more drama. Mal probably would have been okay with it but Noah wanted to be monogamous. He struggles with jealousy and insecurity and has a possessive personality. He wanted Mal all to himself.

Mates then can choose to get married. Divorces are frowned upon and will get you a lot of judgment but they happen; they’re more common among human-werewolf pairings. Marriages are usually arranged within the clan to keep their secrets and keep everyone in line. But romantic relationships happen. When a human and a werewolf want to get married, they need to get the permission of the werewolf council.

Leadership in my werewolf clan is run by the alpha, Donovan, who is also a father figure to Mal, whose parents died when he was young. But it is also a democracy, with a council that makes decisions. A halfbreed council meets when the clan needs impartiality, such as appointing defense attorneys for lone wolves who have mental health holds. The werewolf clans run a mental health institution for wayward wolves.

Werewolves can shift at the full moon or any time they wish, but they need rituals and spells to be able to shift. The clan has a tradition of a hunt and celebration at the full moon, when creatures also swear the oath if they wish. Halfbreeds cannot swear the oath, so that’s why they can be impartial members of their own council.

I think that about covers the main highlights without giving too many spoilers. I could go on about my werewolves for hours; I only think about them all day, every day after all.

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