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I write for the ones without a voice.

Yoshiyuki Ly
Video games.

Don't ignore the:
Social realism + romance.
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.

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


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


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.


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.

Call me YoshiCollapse )

Current video game(s)Collapse )

forcing myself to take a break from novel writing.
Taking a break feels counter-productive. I'm always thinking about my stories anyway. I never get to unplug from them.

But that's not really the point in taking a break. I have to reset my voice from Anathema to find a new, appropriate voice for Anathema II. If I were to continue writing now, both books would sound exactly the same. I don't want that to happen. And this brings me to my latest dilemma:

There's a LOT that happens between Vespair and co. leading up to The Scorpion's Empress. Really, the original TSE is a drop in the ocean compared to what Vespair goes through. So the events you're familiar with will probably not take up that much of the word count. That's the only way that I can make everything fit in the book without making it too long (over 250,000 words). That's fine. That's okay.

I plan on writing Anathema II as dark erotic romance. There isn't supposed to be as much room for the plot as there is in the first book. It's not PWP, certainly, but I want the outside politics and drama to take a backseat. The first book was all about building up to the scenes I have in mind for book two, so I don't want to squander this momentum. It will be even more character-focused, if possible. I just need to make up my mind on the opening chapter, since that's what will set the tone for the rest of the story.

Writing sex is a lot more difficult for me. People have complimented my scenes, sure. They tell me that I make the writing process look easy. I dread it, honestly. But you aren't supposed to know that once you read the final product.

So, to prepare and research for Anathema II, I tried playing other video games. I picked up Assassin's Creed III Remastered. Going back to ye olde days of STEALTH in AC games was fun for a while. However, I quickly realized that this would be yet another one of those games where I learn what not to do from its story. I love Connor as a protagonist, but his flimsy motivations bore me. Wasted potential.

I don't have anything else to pull from for inspiration. The whole point of my work is that I'm writing what I don't see, what I want to see.

I suppose I'll just stick with the usual: hanging around for Final Fantasy XIV's next expansion. I fully expect it to be more of the same. Tempering my expectations will help me to not be disappointed. I am happy that they split the data centers a bit more. Before, there was always a slim, slim chance I would run into someone I didn't want to be bothered with. Now, the people I want to avoid in this game are all on other data centers. If not for that, I probably wouldn't have started playing again.

Persona 5 The Royal...ugh. I'll probably get it when it releases in English next year. I'm not importing the Japanese version like I did last time. I'm still waiting for more information on Shin Megami Tensei V for the Switch. I expect I'll be waiting for a long time.

Oh yeah, the last thing -- we finally got a new trailer for the Final Fantasy VII Remake. When that FFVII sound effect played at the beginning of the stream, and then they cut to Monster Hunter, I laughed. I'm vaguely interested in hearing more about what's going on with this. I have no idea how they'll keep the comic mischief from the original with these fancy new graphics. A lot of what made certain scenes so hilarious was how silly the graphics were, sometimes leaving a lot up to the imagination because of the lack of finer visual details. I don't care about the rest, as I'm sure it will be decent enough.

Anyway, I won't have much else to say here for a while. The rest of this process -- finding my next voice, preparing to start book two, and editing CC -- is private and personal. I don't need to whinge on here about it. Aside from freelance work, this is all that I'm focused on. I'll make a new post when there's actually something to update you about.


edit -

When in doubt, return to Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. I should have done this sooner. I'm replaying the game now on my PS2 while waiting for more FFXIV information during the media tour later this month.

Crisis averted. I have a clear vision now. I'll start working on Anathema II in the coming days. 

Anathema is out.
Buy it if you want. Or don't.

It's really only for me, for my sake. If other people enjoy it, that's cool. It's not a goal of mine.

My only goal in publishing my books, on the surface, is to have them in print. I don't care about selling a bunch of copies.

There are more goals, more reasons. There's always more with me. The rest is for me to keep to myself.


I quit my "normal" job and retreated back to freelance writing as a way to pay bills and collect/save money. Turns out I don't do well with too much structure and order. I need controlled chaos and predictable unpredictability in my life. I'd gotten so used to free-falling for the past decade. Having such a predictable routine was too easy.

It also depressed me in ways that are difficult to explain. Something about it kept reminding me that I'm more of an observer in society than an actual person living in it, experiencing it. Things that seemed so important at the time to everyone else meant little in my eyes. Even issues that should have mattered -- they felt ephemeral, fleeting. No one was in on the "joke" except for me. The joke being that the here and now is far less important than whatever else is out there. But that was my way of staying above most situations and absolving myself of emotional attachments. Despite being able to feel everyone around me, reading them without a word, I had to stay detached. I can't turn off this weird empath shit I have all the time. I can make the decision to not let it influence me.

I would rather keep drifting in my own way while staying afloat, if that makes sense. I don't want anything getting in my way, like debris in my path.

I want to write. I want to play video games. I want to keep making money.

That's it.


So now, I'm forcing myself to take a break from my novels. Chauvinistic Coquette is technically next. But Anathema II is going to take me much longer to write than the first volume. Not necessarily because it will have more words/pages. I will try to aim for about the same length if possible. It's more that this one will span a longer period of time than the first book. Right now I don't see a path where I can fit everything within the constraints for Amazon's self-publishing limits with the page count. I'm just going to have to write what feels right and worry about the structure later.

I have a lot to show with this next book. I'm not sure how I'm going to show any of it.

I'll make a separate post some other time to discuss where I'm at with this.

Anathema is up for pre-order - officially out May 1.
Everything's going according to schedule.

The print edition will be up once I receive the proof copy in the mail and look it over. Once I make sure it looks the way I want it to, I'll approve it.

I had to make a lot of sacrifices to reach this point. Even since I started editing in early February, it's been quite a ride.

I'm excited that the book is finally on its way. This cover is everything.

After May 1, I'm going to take a break from writing for at least a few months. I need to recharge and get back to Chauvinistic Coquette while finding my voice and tone for Anathema II. I have PLENTY of video games to learn from and draw from in the meantime.

Final Fantasy XI is on the backburner because it's the same thing over and over again, and I'm bored now that I have my REMA bard. I went back to Final Fantasy XIV during the free login campaign and decided to stick around for the new expansion. I would like to find some takeaways from the upcoming story.

I almost regretted logging on because of...something.

I'm over it now. I had fun playing through the FFXV event, hanging out with Noctis and listening to the glorious soundtrack again. I'm happy with my new outfit that uses Noct's jacket. I already had enough points saved up to buy the Regalia car mount, which is cool to use. For now, I'm chilling out and farming Yotsuyu's Triple Triad card from an imperial NPC. Seems to be pretty rare but I'm going to keep at it for obvious reasons.

The very first instance the duty finder put me in when I got back was Tsukuyomi's primal fight, so...

I'll be back on May 1 with an official launch post for the book. 

title page

final draft of Anathema is finished - 197,000 words
And 769 pages for the paperback edition. The ebook is 653 pages.

It's cute that the paperback is ~37 pages longer than Black Waltz, yet about ~20,000 words shorter as a whole. Anathema only has 19 chapters to Black Waltz's 27 chapters. A typical chapter here is about the same length as my last book, but there are a handful that are much longer than the others.

Clearly I had a lot of work to do with additional scenes/chapters since I finished the first draft at the end of January. I honestly don't remember the last time I was so stressed out. I'm BEYOND relieved that this is all finished now. All I have left to take care of are minor edits here and there as I continue to re-read the manuscript, obsessively, until the day arrives. But, overall, it's done and ready to go.

Here were my biggest issues that I managed to resolve (spoiler-free):

1. The ending!
I must have written this and re-written it, with my whole heart, at least four different times. I would get attached to one "final draft", and then set it aside, and then re-read it later, realize it's shit/doesn't fit, and then I'd have to trash it and start all over again. The hardest part was admitting to myself was that something I had put a lot of effort into was bad. I felt like I'd failed. But then I'd look at the date and realize that I still had time to regroup and try again. Even the last post I made about the ending: I had to reset my progress with that attempt, too.

2. Spider Lily
I really wanted to add this chapter toward the end. It was supposed to be an unconventional night out for the main couple and their closest friend. When you read the book, this was supposed to happen after the chapter titled Sight Unseeing. You'll be able to figure out what this was supposed to be through contextual clues. In the end, I decided to scrap this chapter, even though I had already written most of it. I felt that it would have overshadowed the current chapter after Sight Unseeing. Plus, it would have introduced certain themes prematurely, before the main couple was ready.

3. Their closest friend
This character almost got out of hand for me while writing the manuscript. She is absolutely larger-than-life, entertaining as hell, and a force of nature, unlike anyone else I've ever written, save for Duchess Stella's daughter Venus in the upcoming Chauvinistic Coquette to be published next year. I had to deal with a precarious balancing act of giving her enough screentime without letting her hijack the whole story with her sheer energy and personality.

Love her or hate her, I'm proud of how she turned out.

4. Sex
This was the second-most stressful issue.

There is no "traditional" sex in this book. There is sex on the page, but it's... Well, you'll see. The main couple's relationship is more conservative than I'm used to writing. But I had to take into account that they are younger (ages 18 and 22/23) than my typical characters in their mid-to-late twenties. There was a pragmatic reason for this as well, as I didn't want the book to be too long for Amazon's publishing limits (828 pages max with my chosen trim count...which means I'm already pushing it with 769 pages). There's also more that you'll read about on your own.

It was stressful, not because of my war with the page count, but because of the constant editing I had to do to accomodate this. By the time I made this choice, I needed to go back and re-tune entire chapters to make sure that they were consistent with these restrictions that the characters placed on themselves (and that I placed on them for practical reasons). Not to mention, I really wanted to... I obsessed and grieved and went back and forth, back and forth, and back and forth on this. I was glad to have a resolution when I'd finally made up my mind, yet it still left me frustrated.

5. Memories
Being alone and isolating myself from people and relationships is a double-edged sword. My productivity, my stamina, and my satisfaction with my work are sky-high. On the flip side, my celibacy leaves me open to thinking too much, as I only have "real" work and video games to occupy my time when I'm not writing. I'm always thinking about Anathema and future books, and Chauvinistic Coquette as well, though everything and everyone that brought me to this place manage to slip through, somehow.

The memories mostly cropped up while listening to music, or picking songs to listen to as a way to shape the direction and structure of any given scene. I wouldn't say that I actively tried to remember anyone or anything. It just came up. Like this song that I have listed on the post: I started listening to it more while wrapping up final edits and formatting this week. It got me thinking about the language, Italian, and how someone I used to know loved the language and applied herself to learn it in college. I never got a lot of answers from her about a lot of things; the song made me think back to those unanswered questions and all those frustrations, and too much other shit that doesn't matter anymore.

I also keep having these strange dreams of people from my past trying to reach out to me, and deciding not to for whatever reason. I still feel their agony from how much they miss me or love me, like their hearts transposed themselves into mine. I have no idea if this means that the feelings are real or not. Especially since it seems to be one particular person cropping up more than the rest, over and over again, consistently. I knew her for a long time, and she is part of the DNA for how I write Stella's character, how I describe her physical appearance, and how it feels for Vespair to touch her.

I keep telling myself that it's all in my head, or that it's only natural, considering I think about my characters all the time.

Having to keep forgiving myself for thinking about the past is exhausting.

6. Acknowledgments - refusing to tolerate intolerance
Usually, the hardest thing for me to write is the summary on the back of the book. Summing up ~200,000 words into 301 words was a struggle, yes. It wasn't that bad this time around. The acknowledgments at the very end of the story gave me the most trouble this time. I thought about including something about this person that keeps inserting themselves into my dreams. There's no point, really, because I told her to leave and that was that. I can't go back to living my life for other people in the way that I used to. I didn't want to acknowledge her on the page. I didn't want to memorialize it.

The truth of the matter is that I wrote this story as a response to everything that happened while she was with me. I don't necessarily include direct references in the story. It's more in the way Stella and Vespair come together, stay together and love each other: they give one another unconditional acceptance, even when they're upset or confused or feel justified to the contrary. My ex didn't give us a chance to have that once I was ready to give it to her; I only ended up getting hurt whenever I tried. And back when I wasn't ready, she seemed to be. Seemed being the key word here.

The point is, silly me thought that she would understand my efforts and my pain and the choices I had made for her in my ridiculous devotion, because she went through that same pain for me before, back when I wasn't ready. There is a part of me that still loves her and always will. I don't love her ego and her hypocrisy and her superiority through her pride; especially not the way she uses her competitive fulfillment from her work to fill the empty void inside of her. Well, maybe I do, because that's what love is. But in reality, I don't tolerate intolerance. So that "relationship" had to end.

Basically, Anathema is what she and I could have had together if not for those disagreements.

My main focus, though, is the actual characters--Stella and Vespair, forever. I chose to put them first above everyone else. And I will keep making that choice, because it's meant to be.

"Based loosely on true events."


I don't want a traditional epilogue.

I'm not satisfied with the current ending I have.

What to fucking do.

I'm going to have to compromise, somehow.

Thematically, for the series, having the final chapter titled Black Sun is great. I'll keep that.

What bothers me the most is:
1. Having a cheesy epilogue
2. Ending it where it is now, self-centered, even though this is thematically consistent with where I'm taking the story
3. Writing something different for the sake of being different is not always productive
4. I'm tired of the writing process. I need a break from it for a few months

I don't want complete closure because then the "To be continued" at the end seems out of place.

I have to find a balance.

Time is ticking.

I only have a couple of weeks to figure this out before I start post-production and get the publication process going, to have everything up on May 1.

Needless to say I'm not in the best mood today.

The crazy thing is: I already have in mind what I want to write, the substance of it. The problem is the tone, the mood. If I don't strike that balance, then my voice will come off as passionless. It will show. I have to set these things aside and write the scene. It's that simple.

I really am exhausted from all of this. What tires me out even more is that my mind won't shut off about this. I can't go a few minutes without thinking about this, or the next book, or Chauvinistic Coquette, or the third book in this series and making sure that everything is cohesive and makes emotional sense and is thematically consistent and is in-character and isn't too restrained or over-the-top or strange--

You get it.

I'll make it work.


edit 4/2/19

I found a solution and finished it.

I found a compromise -- more than a compromise, really.

I didn't get to keep everything that I wanted, but what I have now is more than what I thought I knew I needed before.

All that's left is to keep editing.

And even though I'm exhausted, I already know that as soon as I'm done with this, I'll be onto the next thing: editing Chauvinistic Coquette to publish in August 2020 while working on Anathema II.

So much for needing a break.

editing frustrations.

So, I scrapped the "Spider Lily" chapter because I found that it was redundant. I could remove the chapter entirely and it wouldn't really change much. I can include it, or something like it in the next book. I had to adjust the following "Invierno" chapter, improving it.

As for the ending, it's still at the end of Black Sun, but it's different. It leaves a suggestion of how our dark knight earns a certain something that goes on to define her later on. I found that a standard epilogue would have been too cheesy, or tone deaf, and so I'm going to leave it out in favor of this one scene at the end. Again, a standard epilogue is a means of giving closure to the world, to all of the characters. This ending gives closure to our dark knight, and only her, because she is the main character of this book. I want it to be secretive, self-centered. It's important that it is this way. The opening chapter of book two will bring everything back to the current events as a refresher, and then bridge things on to the next adventure.

However, there are still 18 chapters now instead of 17 because I ended up splitting the original chapter 14 in half. I had extended the first scene there before the story's climax. But the scene ran away from me and ended up turning into a lot more than I had anticipated. The whole chapter would have been way too long if I hadn't cut it in half. The fun part is that I got to bring back an old naming convention for my chapter 14s. I hadn't gotten to use this in years. I'm happy that I get to include it now.

All I have left to do at this time is to finish this final scene: the secretive, self-centered ending.

I'll have it done by the time I leave work later on today. I will then format the manuscript and set about getting everything ready for publishing on May 1. From there on I'll keep proofreading up until it's time.


Today, once I get home, I'll start up Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice on my PS4. I originally wasn't going to pre-order this game until I saw the stealth mechanics. The combat is fast, too, which I definitely prefer in Bloodborne over the Souls games. I think I'll like it a lot. I've been craving a good third-person stealth game for a long time. Hitman 2 is good, but not quite what I'm looking for. Hopefully Sekiro is it.

It's a little sad, though, that I pre-ordered Kingdom Hearts III and still haven't gone back to it. I cleared the first introductory level, got to the save point in the next level in Olympus, and then...never continued. Got caught up with something else:

I got my major goals accomplished in Final Fantasy XI. My bard has all the ultimate instruments as well as the dagger: relic horn, empyrean harp, mythic dagger, aeonic horn. Full REMA bard! It's crazy considering plenty of other jobs are fine with only one ultimate weapon. No, no, bard is most optimal with all four. It's insane.

I never thought that I'd be able to get the mythic done, especially. It seemed so daunting. I'm really relieved that I got it done.

still editing Anathema.
This is getting a little out of hand.

There's a certain type of scene that I keep shying away from. Before today, I had scrapped my plans for my original chapter 16, as well as the first scene in chapter 14, since every time I tried to write them before, I would get too flustered and give up. Now, today, with renewed vigor, I realize that I should include these certain types of scenes. That means extending my thematic Black Sun chapter from 17 to 18, and completely scrapping the ending that I wrote in favor of a longer epilogue.

A potential total of 19 chapters, with more scenes added than I had planned for a month ago. The book will end up being ~180,000 words at this rate.

I never asked for this.

Seriously. So much for cutting down on the word count.

In summary:

Adding a new scene to the beginning of chapter 14.
Changing chapter 16 back to what I had planned on before, titled Spider Lily.
Making the current chapter 16 into chapter 17.
Changing the current chapter 17 to chapter 18.
Cutting out the ending from the current chapter 17, soon-to-be chapter 18, and extending it out into a chapter 19 epilogue that transitions the next part of the story to the new location(s) in Anathema II.

I'm changing the current chapter 16 to 17 because, on its own, the current chapter 16 lacks gravitas. It's boring. I don't want boring.
I'm going back to my original idea for chapter 16, Spider Lily, to liven things up before the finale. Without that liveliness, the current chapter 16 is boring.
I'm extending the epilogue into a chapter of its own because, as it is now, it feels rushed at the tail-end of (the current) chapter 17.

I'm anxious about writing these new scenes. I had avoided them before because I thought that they would be too hard. That's not the right reason to skive off from them. I need to write them specifically because of how difficult they will be.

Revised chapter list:

1. Solaire's Nocturne
2. Stella's Rising
3. Humanity and Idealism
4. Astoran Mirages in Summer
5. A Higher Loyalty
6. Are You Afraid of the Dark?
7. The Bismarck
8. Catastrophe's End
9. Sole Survivor
10. Beloved
11. Fury
12. Wayward Daughter
13. Vengeful Despair
14. Her Honor
15. Sight Unseeing
16. Spider Lily
17. Invierno [REDACTED - spoiler]
18. Black Sun
19. [Planned epilogue - chapter title TBD]

Really, though. I can write and write and write for hours, days, weeks, months, and my hands won't fall off -- and yet once I face a challenge like this, it stops me in my tracks. I know I shouldn't cut out or leave out scenes for the sake of trimming the word count. This Anathema series is my magnum opus. I'm allowed to let the books be epic in word count, even if it takes a lot out of me.

Now I have to get myself into this mindset.

This difficulty, this transposing is the only thing in the world that truly scares me. But once it's done, it's forever. It's everything. It's worth it.

I'll get to work.

Other Lulu
I'm editing Anathema now. I'll be working on this over the next couple of months, through April.

Nothing else matters to me.

(As an aside, I can't believe I like this song. It's both relevant and prescient. The video is hilarious too.)

summoner's remembrance.
Lulu's smile
Avatars, summons, leveling for a mile -- I found in a song the shape of your smile. The measured effort from you, the cadence of it: the very end of this tune sounds as the steady curl of your lips, up and brightening with quiet strength and exclusive purpose. Your stoicism is still there, beneath the layers of mild melancholy, but you are here in joy for this ending, smiling at me.

It's no wonder everything from the past couple of weeks has felt so serendipitous. 

Anathema is finished - 163,352 words.
It's done.

The first draft, anyway.

I have scenes to add/change/remove. I can't stop thinking about them. For now, I'm trying to let it sink in that this manuscript is finished, regardless of what I have left to change. I started writing it in May of last year, and now it's done. It's done. It's done, and I feel like I just lost a part of my heart to time.

One checked off, and a few more to go.

I got to leave work early today because of the snow here, and I finished up the final scene of the last chapter as soon as I got home. Now it's all finished.

I need to take a serious look at where I can cut down on the length, but other than that, I'm ecstatic with the story.

I finished just in time to reward myself by starting a new game of Kingdom Hearts III.

I still can't believe that this game is actually out, just like I can't believe that this story is done.

Soon, I'll start the process of commissioning the cover art. For now, I'm putting the manuscript away for two weeks, to let myself "forget" it before I go back to edit -- adding/removing/changing scenes as needed. And then, I will wait until it's almost time to publish before I do a final pass. In between that time, my cover art will be done and ready.

May 1 is the publication date I'm aiming for.

I sacrificed a lot to get this done. I chose to forsake much, much more, and I'm continuing to forsake more than that.

Let's stay up here, concerned about other things, unfathomable to anyone else, as they should be. 

Anathema - closer to completion.
I'm currently on the (planned) second-to-last chapter of Anathema.

Even though I'm happy with the story, and I enjoy it more than anything else I've written, I'm still worried about the word count. I'm sitting at around 145,000 words now. That's with certain scenes that I skipped to write later that are missing from the final count. So I may have to cut things out here and there. I don't know yet. I'm trying not to think about it until I finish the final chapter, and then I'll go back and see what else I need to do.

Nothing else matters.

In this solace of solitude, I feel far-removed from everything else.

Losing track of people like losing track of time. The clock is the crowd; the hands are broken because I don't have any of their hands in mine. I only have this single, simple motivation shaped as enough through me. Once I'm done, it's on to the next project, and the next, with this unwavering focus bearing down on me, testing me, constantly, as a marathon of the mind.

Pacing myself, I feel fine. I'm in my element. I don't know how someone else would fare. I went through this in the past and it almost broke me. Now it feels as natural and automatic as blinking and breathing.

In between writing, I have the oddest craving to play Bloodborne. I'm finding the time to do that along with getting through Hitman 2 every now and then. Hitman 2 is tons of fun with intelligent stealth and open-ended, funny strategies and situations, but I can't get used to how clunky the controls feel. I have my eye on Hitman Blood Money and Hitman Absolution coming to PS4 soon. Tomorrow, I think. Plus the remaster/remake of Onimusha, one of the classic games from my childhood during the PlayStation 2 era. Kingdom Hearts III is finally coming out at the end of the month, too, yet I'm not excited about it at all. I'm here for the soundtrack by Yoko Shimomura, my favorite and my legend in gaming music. Also looking forward to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice in March. Nothing else is on my radar this year unless The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima release in 2019 as well.

With Final Fantasy XI, I feel burned out, even though I should feel accomplished now that I have my relic and empyrean instruments for bard. I think what bothers me is that I feel obligated to go after the mythic dagger and aeonic instrument as well even though I don't want to. Mostly to have that title of "REMA" bard (Relic, Empyrean, Mythic, Aeonic). Being able to have four songs up to support the party isn't enough -- I feel like I have to have the 50% song duration from the mythic dagger and Honor March from the aeonic harp, too, otherwise I feel incomplete. I'm trying to pace myself and think of these things as long-term items. I need to temper my perfectionist tendencies here.

In the meantime, I have two more chapters to finish this month. I'll definitely meet my goal to have the book published on May 1.

Since I finished chapter 15 today, I'll take a bit of a break to play Bloodborne tonight as a reward. FFXI had an update today with a new monthly Ambuscade raid. I'll wait until people sort out the strategies before I bother with it. I don't have the time/patience for trial-and-error adventures this month. Maybe next time.

Anathema's chapter names so far:

1. Solaire's Nocturne
2. Stella's Rising
3. Humanity and Idealism
4. Astroan Mirages in Summer
5. A Higher Loyalty
6. Are You Afraid of the Dark?
7. The Bismarck
8. Catastrophe's End
9. Sole Survivor
10. Beloved
11. Fury
12. Wayward Daughter
13. Vengeful Despair
14. Her Honor
15. Sight Unseeing
16. Spider Lily - current work-in-progress
17. Black Sun

"In darkness blooms the spider lily."