Yoshiyuki

Yoshiyuki Ly

Writing.
Video games.
Music.
Fanfiction.

Don't ignore the:
Social realism + romance.
Intensity.
LGBT, minorities, and women as fully-realized characters.
Power plays that push mental and emotional limits.
Armor over vulnerabilities. Strip that armor to get to the soft, devoted core.



Anathema
Historical fantasy romance. Self-published. It's available now. Book summary:

Prepared to die for her country, Solaire Copeland is drafted to the Drakengard knighthood at twenty-two years old, and vows to stop running away from the one she loves. Guarding over her dark secrets in shame, she nevertheless takes a leap of faith and entrusts herself to her intelligent equal in Stella Azrith, an alluring, measured, and methodical young woman of magic. Solaire elevates her love for Stella in romantic showmanship and subservience, even as the two of them struggle to understand one another through their temperamental differences. Anathema is a historical fantasy romance that tells the tale of Solaire and Stella's courtly relationship in their youth, as they grow into their characters--Archangel Vespair and Mistress Fury--from The Scorpion's Empress, Venus and Lysander, and Black Waltz as a prequel to the existing trilogy.

Desperate to keep Solaire at home, Stella conspires to prevent her from getting sent off to fight in an unjust war for their country, the Monomyth of Astora. In her scheming at the highest levels of government, she forms an unstable alliance with Fey Murasaki, the wicked and wily ambassador from Astora's closest foreign ally. Stella and Fey's influence across the land slithers in darkness while Solaire's knightly powers shine to alarming levels in the light, causing them to become targets--for both good and ill--of the nation's most powerful leaders. Through intensifying mortal perils, Solaire's love for Stella deepens to maddening levels, restrained only by her distinct sense that her free will erodes more each time she kneels in fulfilling servitude.

Independent streaks contradict religiosity in service of loving a woman with a will so strong--Solaire bears both the light and the dark or enlightened empathy and burning hatred, with her secrets fueling her rise as the strongest knight of an age.

Anathema - ebook cover

buy here on Amazon

--

Black Waltz
Contemporary fantasy romance. Self-published. It's available now. Book summary:

As a Black Waltz--a magical ballet dancer--Stella Azrith appears to all as a composed, no-nonsense sorceress of notable talent. Yet she is deeply dependent on her muse for far more than most artists, complicating her relationships. Nyte Lysander is a suave, emotional cellist who once struggled in her obsession to stay in Stella's world. She and Stella find one another again after a tumultuous breakup, needing the other for reasons warped beyond the norm. Black Waltz is a sprawling urban fantasy romance set 350 years after The Scorpion's Empress and 100 years after Venus and Lysander, concluding the trilogy. Can be read as a standalone.

Searching for acceptance, Stella and Nyte learn to understand each other anew, strained only by disagreements past and unspoken. Nyte's living situation in the crime-ridden district of Maleficus in the city of Eden pushes her and Stella to pursue better artistic opportunities elsewhere. As they toy with the idea of exploring a power play relationship, they learn about a greater evil that threatens the Azrith and Lysander family. The true enemy twists on its head through whirling rainstorms, driving Stella and Nyte to prove who and what they stand for.

There can be no waltz for three.

Black Waltz ebook

buy here on Amazon

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Venus and Lysander
Historical-fantasy-romance. Solstice Publishing picked this one up. It's available now. Book summary:

Living as a nobleman and a woman, Valerie of Lysander is sick of waiting for the world to change. The discrimination she suffers as an outcast builds into resentment. Once Val takes matters into her own hands, the whole Empire of Tynan feels her brand of justice. The Emperor's adviser, Lucrezia of Azrith, wants more of Val's ruthlessness
for revenge against the unjust, and for her own desires. Venus and Lysander is an intricate romance set in the fictional Victorian city of Eden, 250 years after the events in The Scorpion's Empress.

Lucrezia is Lady Chancellor for the Emperor and a sorceress-in-hiding. She is forced to conceal her identity from the religious public for fear of death. As she learns to trust in Val's chivalry and affections for her, they both fall for the softer sides behind their similar bulletproof personas. Lucrezia receives a mysterious warning about a sadistic enemy threatening the Azrith and Lysander families. Once they discover their nemesis' true motive, Val and Lucrezia's tyrannous devotion for one another is all they can count on to survive.



buy here on Amazon

Finalist in the 30th Annual Lambda Literary Awards - Lesbian romance
2017 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention


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The Scorpion's Empress
Erotic romance plus a bit of fantasy. Also under Solstice Publishing. It's available now. Book summary:

After years of serving a corrupt government, Ser Videl, an idealistic paladin, learns that her younger sister is tangled in a dark scheme against Raj Mangala, the compassionate yet troubled Empress of the city's oppressed lowtown; the two women meet and are deeply drawn to one another, finding a shared sanctuary in their violently-divided city. The Scorpion's Empress is intimately written through the eyes of both twenty-seven year old women.

Videl's loving devotion is just what Raj craves, but Raj is wary of letting her guard down while protecting her throne. Determined to prove her worth, Videl chases after Raj and works to unravel the mystery of the plots against the Empress. Raj wants Videl to serve her emotional and sexual needs, and the two explore a meaningful relationship of dominance and submission that delves fully into their deepest wants. When the conspiracy against Raj comes to a head, Videl's loyalties are tested when she is forced to choose between her past and her Empress.

The Scorpion's Empress

buy here on Amazon
Goodreads // Solstice Publishing

Winner in the 29th Annual Lambda Literary Awards - Lesbian romance
Finalist in the 2016 Independent Author Network Awards - LGBT
Winner in the 2016 New England Book Awards - LGBT
Honorable Mention in the 2016 Rainbow Awards - Lesbian erotic romance

--

Online Stories
Find most of my romance works here. The joy of sharing.

In-Depth Story Notes
Find my personal commentary and additional notes for certain stories here.

Twitter

Contact Me + Navigation
-Email me at yoshiyuki.ly17@gmail.com with questions, comments or book-related requests.
-Follow the tag links on the right hand side if you're looking for anything specific.
-Click the cuts below to read what's underneath.

Book publishing dates/progress

1. The Scorpion's Empress (erotic romance with some D/s) - June 1, 2016
2. Venus and Lysander (historical-fantasy-romance) - January 31, 2017

3. Black Waltz (urban fantasy romance with some BDSM) - September 25, 2018
4. Anathema (historical-fantasy-romance with some D/s) - May 1, 2019
5. Chauvinistic Coquette (contemporary romance with some fantasy) - editing final draft - publishing date: August 17, 2020
6. Anathema II: The Scorpion's Empress (erotic romance, dark fantasy, BDSM) - next WIP - publishing date: 2021

These are all set in different eras of my fictional Anathema universe: the world, Tellus, with Nyx Vevina as God of the Anathema religion; she is the morally ambiguous shadow to her more spirited twin sister, Venus, who is revered as the standard of beauty, femininty and acceptance. My main characters all challenge the status quo in these societies in ways that are relevant to the real world.

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Vespair drawing

Kamala Harris: never forgive. never forget.

Kamala Harris is still going places.

I won't let go of the tragedy I witnessed against her during this primary.

All of this because too many people couldn't stand to give her, a black woman, the benefit of the doubt, and to really re-examine their beliefs.

She is a fighter. She wants to protect people, everyone. She stands up for the vulnerable and for the voiceless. She has such a big heart, and for a fine time, she made me believe again in something beyond myself, for this fucked up country that still refuses to reconcile with its Achilles' heel.

I'm not talking about blatant racism. I'm talking about the inherent biases that make people give less qualified candidates pass after pass while raking the black woman over the coals for anything less. I'm talking about the absolute unfairness and injustice of letting twisted narratives and lies define someone's character in the face of who they are and what they've fought for their entire career. I'm talking about the ridiculousness of blaming the black woman for locking up criminals who just so happened to be black, while saying nothing about the politicians who wrote the actual laws that dictated her actions.

She fought to reform the criminal justice system from the inside while you were doing -- what, exactly?

And now you break her heart and call her something that she is not.

And now you rewrite her history while she's still out here fighting for a better country and a better world for you -- even when you don't deserve it.

She fights against the same injustices that I've seen since I was a kid -- the same injustices that made me so angry because they happened and because everyone seemed to pretend they weren't there; the same ones that shaped this permanent scowl over my face like a knife through my skin, that to this day still makes ignorant asshats tell me to smile, because I'm so pretty and I have to please them with my pleasantries, not deign to make them feel uncomfortable with my actual reality.

She's smiling now because that's who she is -- and because she has to.

I'm as ruthless as they come. I know how to hold a motherfucking grudge.

I will never forgive or forget how you treated her.
  • Current Music
    thousand eyes - FKA twigs
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Vespair drawing

atmospheres, remembrance, and effectiveness.

Since I'm moving to a new place, I've had the unfortunate fortune of having to go through my things: things that I'd set up and far away, out of my reach; out of sight, out of mind. I found several letters to and from specific individuals, various gifts, a list an old "friend" made of qualities they look for in relationships that just so happened to describe me oddly well, and even a curious video from X years ago that I had no idea I still had.

In fact, after watching the video, I re-read some old, relevant stories of mine. I smiled the whole time, even if it left me with this dull, useless feeling in the pit of my stomach that's steadily going away as I write this.

I have no problems setting this aside. Any other time, this trip down memory lane might have thrown me off, or at least made me moody.

While I went through all of those situations, I had something else waiting for me, patiently, that whole time. Something that I was terrified to accept, because of what it might say about me. But, it seriously doesn't matter anymore. It really doesn't, because I'm able to write at my absolute best with this, despite having to deal with these other side-effects: mostly that I'm set in my ways and not nearly as open to other perspectives or persuasions anymore, causing me to be Machiavellian about protecting my inspirations.

And yet, that all brings me to where I am today -- a place I wouldn't trade for anything, not even for the chance to be back with her again and for things to go well. Because for a relationship like that to work, I would have to give up on these ambitions of mine. That's not something I'm willing to do again. Never again. Not for someone who could end up changing their mind again, and with such disrespect and a real lack of empathy and trust that I had foreseen and hadn't wanted to accept, though I really had no excuse. That risk isn't worth the potential damage I could suffer -- again.

Because I knew: if I kept my ambitions, I would have acted distant toward her like before, and I would have hurt her -- again. So it came down to the choice of me hurting her, or her possibly hurting me. I couldn't stand the thought of putting her through the same thing as before, with how unconcerned and uncaring I was, and so I put her first, deciding that I could deal with that possibility. Even though, in the end, she didn't deserve my consideration like that.

If it came down to it, I trust that I could pull myself out of a similar rock bottom...again.

Why would I risk that for someone when I already have everything I need, right where I am?

This path is the only place I want to be.

--

Thanks to this path, Anathema II's progress is stronger than ever. Even when I'm not necessarily writing, it helps for me to keep coalescing ideas, and to really pin down the atmosphere I want to convey in any given scene. I struggled in the beginning because I didn't necessarily want to use the same voice as in the first book. But this was a futile struggle. I gave in to the idea of having a similar enough voice, so to speak, but to aim for a different flow, a different feel, a different overall atmosphere whenever appropriate. The different plots and events from book to book are a given; it's how they feel that I kept obsessing over, because if there's one thing I hate with writing, it's the risk of sounding the same.

It's the little things with writing romance: for example, trying to only using the word kiss when it's for something chaste and to-the-point, and not using the word, or replacing the word with more of the atmosphere of the affection to convey something more. That's the subconscious undertone of how my writing works. It helps to switch things up between direct, easy-to-understand language, and something more complex or abstract or wondrous or painful, so that you hopefully appreciate the complexity when you see it, making it stand out more. If it was all the same, all the time, I don't think it would have the same effect.

What helped me get to this point was listening to FKA twigs' latest album. She truly knows how to create an atmosphere with her music like no other. Her most recent release was much more vulnerable than I expected, even knowing the surface details of what she had gone through since releasing her last album. I really do enjoy how unique and all-encompassing her sound is. I also appreciate what little I do know about her, with those surface details: she's mixed race like I am, for one, even if that does come with the caveat of people assuming that her music is R&B. It's nice to see her be herself regardless of how often others misunderstand her.

Magdalene is without a doubt one of my favorite albums of all time: thousand eyes, mary magdalene, fallen alien, mirrored heart, daybed, and cellophane are the standouts for me.

What I love most about my favorite video game series, Shin Megami Tensei, is the tangible, pervasive atmosphere in each of the games.

It's only right that I apply the lesson to help distinguish my books a bit more, while still keeping them as recognizable parts of a series.

The only terrifying part is applying the full atmosphere to the romance itself, to those actual emotions. Being that open and present and honest and -- vulnerable... I'll never get used to doing this. But if I did, then it wouldn't make as much of an impact, now would it?
Yoshiyuki

point of view.

Point of view is a staple of my stories.

I always try to see things from other peoples' perspectives -- and when I stop trying, that's when I know that there's no turning back.

I feel that someone's lack of perspective can skew their reality in ways that are untrue at best, and destructive at worst. Someone is an antagonist because they have a different perspective; that same person is the protagonist of their own story where their point of view is clear to them.

Of course, there will be times when people do things that are unforgivable. There's no equivocating in situations like that.

For this, I'm only talking about when our perspectives inform us in ways that are outright wrong. Less black-and-white situuations also apply.

Raj and Videl in The Scorpion's Empress are unreliable narrators because of all of the assumptions that they make throughout the story. They think they know everything. They think that they're always right. You believe them because you care about them, or you don't, but you've gotten this far and these characters have no reason to lie to you. They seem to have the happy ending that they deserve.

Val and Lucrezia in Venus and Lysander are uninformed narrators, and yet they're willing to stop and really take in what's going on around them -- to a point. They live in a world of Raj and Videl's consequences, and so they're open to understanding how and why things came to be the way they are. They question key things that Raj and Videl never considered. But, once they're even more personally affected after this book, they react in different ways that end up testing the endurance of their relationship together. Their perspectives divert and change because of their priorities for one another, yet always bending to keep understanding each other through the uncertainty.

Stella and Nyte in Black Waltz are misinformed narrators up to a certain point in the book. They interpret those stories as dictated by their own views and perspectives, coming to vastly different conclusions on their own. They do question things in their own ways, but their questioning takes them in such wild directions. It was ultimately their grossly different perspectives that brought them together in the first place, and -- you know.

Venus and Astrid in Chauvinistic Coquette (not yet published) are unreliable narrators, again, but only because they're purposely omitting information to control your perspective of them, not outright giving you wrong information that they believe is right. They live in a world of Stella's willingness to understand someone who didn't always want to be understood. They have things much easier, at least in this world by comparison. But inevitably, Venus keeps her secrets -- she even goes so far as to hide them from the reader. Astrid doesn't fault her for them, and instead wants to be closer to her because of this. They both accept one another in a way that's not quite on the page and is highly up to your interpretation, on purpose. Yet because they don't talk about it, that interpretation keeps them apart as much as it unites them. There is no rest, no resolution.

And then there is Anathema with Solaire and her Stella.

Dramatic irony is obviously my favorite literary trope to mess around with. In case you're not familiar: it's when you as the reader/audience knows something, whether it's from another character mentioning it, but the current protagonist has no idea (yet). Or they may have some idea, but they're in denial -- this is the crux of the Anathema series for me, at least with the conflict between the main pairing.

Stella or Solaire always have a feeling about something they don't want, but they stay together anyway. They may not have solid answers -- they may not fully understand the situaiton -- but they're constantly centering the other's point of view as their own justification for their denial. Yes, Stella may have done something that she shouldn't have, but she did it for Solaire and for no other reason; or, yes, Solaire may have looked into a situation that she should have avoided, but she did it with Stella in mind, always.

This constant centering is obsessive, I know. It's the whole point. They never seem to put themselves first; they put themselves first in their need to stay with the other person in their lasting obsession, out of fear of living without them: this other person who always puts them first, even when things get twisted and absolutely fucked up.

--

I came up with this series some years ago, before I started writing The Scorpion's Empress, from a universal idea. It's the idea that you can fall out with someone you've known for years over your different perspectives. Maybe you worked to understand each other before, and then something happened and that was no longer the case. Maybe you confided in someone about something, and in a matter of time, other people learned about it and turned against you. Maybe you stood up for someone, and you pissed off the wrong people, and those people tried to get back at you.

Finally, there's the conscious decision to believe in a "wrong" perspective when it's for someone you love.

You know she's done something wrong, but you're in denial -- or perhaps not.

You know she's associated herself with someone she shouldn't have, and you can't deny it -- or perhaps you do.

Either way, you know, and you decide to stand by her anyway. You know, and yet you're there for her anyway, and she accepts your judgment. You're angry or upset about these other things, but to the world, you will fight anyone who dares to step to her. And you do, and you will. No one else needs to know the rest of it, because you have her back through her successes, her mistakes, her fuck-ups -- everything.

The one time she does something that is unforgivable, it's a matter of choosing to understand her again. Because she would never truly do something to you that's unforgivable. If she did, then fine -- leave. Yet that's not the case here, and you have the leeway to decide that.

That's the shape of this series. That's the backbone. That's the theme, of loving someone when anyone else wouldn't blame you for hating them.

There is always this choice.
Vespair

possessiveness.

I used to hate the thought of someone feeling possessive over me in relationships. It was a major turn-off. How could you feel so entitled to own me? I detested the thought of being anyone's property in that way, even if it wasn't necessarily a submissive thing. It was always about power dynamics.

Being possessed seemed to equal being owned, as if they held some sway over me.

I enjoyed being subservient to the women in my life, but never outright submissive.

The thought of taking that next step was terrible to me, triggering all sorts of problems for my dysphoria.

And then now that I'm writing Anathema II, about the main couple at this point in their relationship, where one character is extremely possessive in one way, and the other follows suit in their own way as well:

My whole worldview on the topic has changed because of this.

Yes, it is still about power to me. But in this case, the character who is traditionally possessive: I trust her to have this power in their dynamic. I never trusted anyone else with this power, and so their claim to it -- and to me -- disgusted me in mistrust. This power extends far beyond the character's reach: it presents the drama of the story's themes and lessons and morals. It is all-encompassing for Anathema II. It is this way because it brought me so much discomfort before, and so I'm trying to learn and reclaim my unease by seeing the beauty in it.

This one exception guides the shape and the color of the story in ways that I enjoy embracing, specifically because I'd rejected them before.

That's how I know I made the right choice.
Lulu

progress with Anathema II - currently on chapter six.

Let's just say that I'm feeling the weight of my own expectations and struggles here.

The good thing is that the structure of the manuscript somehow solidified, at least for the next handful of chapters. I'm not worried about things suddenly changing. I have control, in the short-term, and leaving the later chapters to remain fluid. This is way less stressful than jumping into the beginning of the manuscript with absolutely no control and hoping for the best. I did get the best, but that process is still terrifying.

I'm only on chapter six. It feels like I'm on chapter sixteen from how much I've written so far. Still stacking foundatios bricks on top of each other, neatly, with strength, only to tear everything down later on in the story. I'm definitely not lacking in ideas, vision, or inspiration -- I obsess over every story detail as usual, so nothing wrong there. This is yet another case of me being too hard on myself and delaying things out of fear/frustration.

Obsessing: I picture every single scene down to the figurative letter, mapping an emotional path that must make sense. It must make sense. It must make sense. I can't sleep because this process won't shut off, it won't shut up, it won't leave me alone. Restlessness, insomnia, decreased appetite, constant headaches when I do manage to wake up after sleeping. I haven't allowed it to be this bad since the days before my published books. I'm not even allowing it; it's spilling over on its own because the plot to Anathema II later on in the book is fucking me up that much.

But I'm persevering. On the outside, I seem fine.

I'm fuctioning.

Agonizing: this won't come out in the manuscript in the exact way I envision it because of -- disconnect between my thoughts and the simple act of writing, using words to describe what I see. This is critically important because my one purpose, my true drive is to write these books, to have them in my hands and feel relieved that these will remain of me after whatever amount of time that may pass.

Procrastinating: I'll go do something else while I think about this some more and (not really) ignore this weight of my world bearing down on me.

Frustrating: a few days pass with no progress -- I have no patience and my temper rises to dangerous levels because "I can't write" anymore.

Depressing: I can't write anymore.

Comforting: I get over it and write things out, and it's actually pretty good. Exactly how I get over it is my secret, but it works every time.

???

This is my life.

I'm turning twenty-nine in one week.

I still have the same sense of impermanent permanence with myself, the same one I've had for quite a while now.

It's a little different these days because of the acceptance I've found with the way I am and how I work. I'm okay, but I don't go around advertising how and why I found this peace with myself and my process. The funny thing is, I wouldn't have reached this point if not for all of the pain and ambivalence I seemed to put myself through in my denials for so many years. I could have walked away or ignored it, but there was always an instinct I had to see those things through, knowing that I had something to learn from the situations.

I sometimes did things that felt out-of-character for me just for this conquest of knowledge. And yet I feel that I would be worse off today even if I had avoided all of that.

Everything's bolstered, reinforced.

My current distraction is almost over, though. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice isn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I've beaten all forty or so of the mini-bosses and I have most of my crafting upgrades. Now that I'm at the final boss before the multiple endings, I feel relatively accomplished. I had planned on beating the boss tonight after normal-work, but I should start on this next chapter instead. If I don't, that dangerous cycle will start up again.

The problem is that the next two chapters, six and seven, are going to be among the most difficult ones I will ever write. Six is for a type of event that I haven't written properly in years, and seven is the follow-up that I already know is going to give me a hard time. I'm again putting so much pressure on myself to write these two chapters correctly because of how much they mean to me. I won't get the chance to do this again.

It's all that I have -- this one shot.

So please, leave me to my solitary process. I say this because my intuition keeps buzzing about something that I definitely don't want, and that I know someone is thinking/considering.

Don't do it.

No surprises this year. Not next year, or the year after that, either. Never again.
Yoshiyuki

living through intensity makes me crave even more difficulty, intensity.

This is new.

I'm living through the most harrowing activism in my life. I've never felt this strongly about a cause, a belief. I was afraid of letting myself believe again in case things turn out badly. It's too late for that. The only real problem is seeing the ridiculous amounts of hate and negativity and bias and misogyny and racism and erasure and misinformation going on. It pisses me off to no end.

So, this situation ends up making me crave more intense experiences. I find that nothing else is really as difficult as this, making those other things feel surmountable in comparison.

It started off -- without me realizing it first -- when I played through Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne again earlier this month. I spent a week straight on it and went on to beat the game, finally seeing the Neutral ending for the first time. I still prefer the True Demon Ending because of how much the devs clearly wanted us to take that path, since everything in the Maniax version (standard NA/EU versions) lead up to TDE against Lucifer. But I found myself enjoying the difficulty during this playthrough instead of just putting up with it like I used to before.

The atmosphere and uniqueness of these games were the main draw before. I've found a new appreciation for the difficult gameplay. It's not all that difficult anymore once you know how to prepare, more so because these are turn-based games.

I had the freedom to do this since I've already cleared this raid tier in Final Fantasy XIV on my dark knight last month. I beat the first three fights during week one and then took my time with the fourth one. Without a static. It wasn't too terrible at all. The only crazy thing was clearing the final fight while subbing as the second tank for a static. They were good and had strong DPS, but kept wiping for stupid reasons over several hours -- aside from acceptable mistakes, the black mage was high, people were hungry and had agreed to make plans to go eat at 3am once we finally cleared, the white mage's internet cut out during a pull, someone's dogs kept begging to go outside, etc. That was a wild night.

All of those inconveniences reminded me of why I don't want a static, though. I'd rather just be on my own and go at my own pace. I don't want to be on anyone else's schedule.

Now, I'm hooked on Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. I originally didn't like it that much. I always loved the precise controls, the skill-based gameplay, and the Japanese setting and the lore surrounding Buddhism and life and death. But I felt like the game was too repetitive. I beat the first actual boss and then dropped it. I didn't play it for a few months until about a week or so ago.

I went back and something finally made sense. I'd never felt that Sekiro was too difficult. It's just that now, with everything else going on, I feel like I can enjoy the rush and the satisfaction that the game has to offer instead of taking it for granted. Beating Genichiro after only a few tries gave me an unforgettable high that I hadn't felt outside of Shin Megami Tensei games. I think I'm about halfway through the game now, going through the Sunken Valley after beating that gimmicky boss with the monkeys. I'm taking my time as I go and I really love it.

I like suffering for my victories. 
Vespair

watching UK politics on Twitch.

Seriously.

https://www.twitch.tv/ukparliament

I'm American, but I'm genuinely following what's going on with the UK Parliament in between getting work done. So much insanity right now. Yesterday's drama with one of the Tories switching to the Liberal Dem party was unexpected, considering all the gridlock and the hyperpartisan environment of our national politics here. I can't see our own Reps or Senators rebelling against their own parties like the MPs did.

I really hope the UK gets through this.
Noctis

Anathema II so far: 22,200 words - and Final Fantasy VIII Remastered and Catherine: Full Body.

Pretty damn good, even though I didn't really solidify the opening chapters until today. A minor character I had planned for ended up becoming a major character who needed more screentime in the beginning. I had to prioritize the setup over moving the story along quicker.

My only concern is that the details of the plot are flying out of my control and beyond my expectations. The general plot will be the same. Given that we're now in canon territory with the years leading up to and including The Scorpion's Empress, there isn't anything I can change without getting into dreaded retcons. The "how" keeps changing instead of the "what". I just have to let the story be its own thing instead of trying to control too much. The only things I'm actively wrangling against are situations where other characters (Yotsuyu, and this new major character) seem to want to take over the narrative. I can't let them do that. I have to keep this focus while still letting the story be its own thing. Contradictions, I know, but it's part of my job.

--

With Final Fantasy VIII Remastered and Catherine: Full Body coming out tomorrow, I've been thinking a lot about the video game stories I enjoy. Thinking about them helps me to refine my own process with Anathema II. As far as I know FFVIII R will be unchanged from the original, story-wise, while Catherine FB will have additions to flesh out the characters' backstories, which I'm all for.

The original Catherine was pretty good...aside from the lack of setup with the characters. I wanted to see why Vincent loved Katherine so much, how they met, etc. I wanted to see what made him so great and interesting that these women chose to fight over him. The re-release looks to answer those questions I have (maybe not the second question), along with introducing a new character, Rin.


Now, I've heard the cries about transphobia and censorship surrounding Rin and her inclusion in the story. I have no idea what the deal is as I've done my best to avoid spoilers. I've resigned myself to actually playing the game and coming to my own conclusions about how the writers handled all of this. So we'll see.

Years later, I still smile way too much when I hear Laura Bailey's voice for Catherine. That sweet and devillish temptress thing she does is too good.

I do have fond memories of playing the original Catherine years ago while waiting for Mass Effect 3 to come out. Almost breaking my controller while playing those puzzles on the hardest difficulty and earning the platinum trophy -- in retrospect, all a good time.


As for FFVIII, I've long accepted my gripes with the story. Even though I love the themes of the overarching narrative, there are some weird things that happen, namely with Quistis' character.

My biggest complaint about FFVIII is that, after a certain point in the plot, Quistis just falls of the face of the planet relevance-wise and practically stops existing as a person. Yes, she's there, and she's with you to the very end, but it's like the writers forgot about her later on in the game. When she's not suffering Squall's rude dismissiveness of her feelings for him (and he's an idiot for this, considering how fucking hot Quistis is), or showing poor leadership skills as an instructor, or getting jealous of Rinoa for useless drama, or feeling sorry for herself over her failures in life, then Quistis just isn't...there...at all.

Unless you use Quistis in battle for her overpowered blue magic skills, it's natural to forget about her entirely.

Why do I even like her as a character? For her unused potential. I like the idea of what Quistis could have been more than how she turned out.

I never liked Rinoa as a person, or even for her potential.

I've started wondering how differently the story would have turned out if Rinoa hadn't existed at all, and if they had made Quistis as Squall's love interest instead. If not that, then she could have been the one to keep mentoring Squall to improve his own leadership skills throughout the story, instead of Headmaster Cid, but then she couldn't have gotten in trouble for her own problems in this department.

Really, I think I would have been more satisfied with Squall and Quistis being together in a more mature relationship instead of having to accept Rinoa's immature self.

If only.

Vespair

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered out on September 3.

I'm dropping every other game to play this right away. Already have it preordered. It's a good thing I quit Final Fantasy XIV ahead of time, since I would have basically not logged on at all to play this game instead. I'm excited to go after the platinum trophy by revisiting all of the old secrets and tricks I've known about for 20 years now.

I remember the store I bought the original in when I was 9 or 10 years old or so. Seeing that cover behind the glass and how realistic the characters were, I thought it was amazing -- ahead of its time. My mother didn't know what the T rating meant, so she bought it for me anyway. It's been my favorite mainline FF game ever since.

Do I even need to mention how stunning Edea is? All of her special sequences are pure beauty in mysticism. That first one with Quistis, as well, when she enters the infirmary and finds Squall, and she just sighs with a soft smile, and then the original PS1 disc works its ass off to steadily fade to black: unforgettable.

More than anything, the romantic themes in the story had a big influence on me. They're real, larger-than-life, and more meaningful than the usual petty drama.

Squall's quote in particular to Rinoa is a cornerstone:

"No matter what happens, even if you become the world's enemy, I'll be your knight."

I used to pretend that I had found something like that with others. I would convince myself that I had, just to stay with them. But then I would do and say things that proved the exact opposite. It seemed as if I never felt what I believed for anyone who was right in front of me, and I didn't know why. I eventually learned what the problem was -- that I hadn't yet seen the person's true face, even though their instability with me had usually brought it out. I wouldn't have seen it if things between us had been all right. I had always felt that that was a problem, because I need to see someone for who they are, completely, without censorship or them holding back. Otherwise, what's the point?

Final Fantasy VIII doesn't necessarily get this deep. It doesn't need to. The story is about seventeen and eighteen-year-olds in the military saving the world: there's bound to be some weirdness and immaturity at points. But the point is that it was the beginning and the foundation of how I see and write about romance.

If you want to know what I mean, then I suggest you play the game for yourself. It'll be out on PS4, Steam, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.



edit:

AND Yakuza 3 Remastered is out today? Yakuza 4 and Yakuza 5 will be bundled with it for physical release in February. This is too much. I can't.

Yakuza 3 with a proper localization and all of the cut content from the original US version will be here?

I get to spend time with Kiryu and Haruka again. They really made this series for me.

All of my gaming plans are now canceled for this.

Goodbye.