August 2019 Update

I’m afraid I haven’t been able to achieve the goals I’d set for the month of August. That is, writing two outlines for my two short stories.

At first, I was terribly busy and didn’t have time at all. Then I went away on holidays, but it was a road trip and I have motion sickness, so no writing. And after that… well, the month was gone. I’d already mentioned I was going to be very busy and I set easy goals, but I was still unsure. And yeah, I was so busy I had to do overtime at work.

September looks a bit less busy so far, but I’ve been writing things unrelated to the goals I’d set. Still research and outlines, but, maybe unsurprisingly, not for the stories I’m supposed to be writing.

So I’m going to count that as a win, because I didn’t overwork myself, my anxiety is mostly under control, and I’ve managed to write a bit, even if it’s not what I’d intended to write. For September, I’m going to set the same goals. And I’m going to start a new notebook!

Photo by Drew Rae on Pexels.com

About Fan Fiction

Ten months ago I wrote a post about Romance that was my personal love letter to the genre, and now I want to do the same for fan fiction.

Fan fiction (or fanfiction) is another type of writing that, like Romance, is condemned and vilified by those who believe they have the intellectual higher ground. Given that most fanfics also depict a romantic or sexual relationship between two or more characters, I believe many of those who deride fanfiction are the same who look down on Romance.

Of course, we all know that some people have different issues with fan fiction, mainly ones that stem from legal concerns. Many are scared of plagiarism, which —for the record— is very different from fan fiction. Others don’t want to share their own characters and ideas with random people from the Internet. But I think there are some issues that may be caused by people not being familiar with fanfiction; they don’t understand what fanfiction really is about and where it comes from.

Fanfiction is not something new created by the weird people of the Internet. The term fanfiction predates the creation of the world wide web by half a century. The name first appeared in 1939 and fan fiction became an important part of fandom culture in the 60s thanks to Star Trek, but derivative fiction written with characters and settings established by a previous author or based on a non-fictional subject that attracted many followers has been an important part of mankind’s literature since the beginning of the written word. Think about Shakespeare, the fake sequel to Don Quixote, the Arthurian cycle, and even the apocryphal gospels. When the novels published in installments were popular, people used to write their own additions and endings as they waited for the following chapter to arrive; sometimes they would send them to friends and family, and that is how the Brontë sisters got published. So we admire writers who have composed fanfiction and we call some derivative works “classics”, but still the mention of the term fanfic makes people sneer.

And nevertheless, we keep writing fan fiction.

Like many of us, I started reading fan fiction because the canon was not enough. Not satisfactory enough, not happy enough, not gay enough… And, somehow, I ended up discovering a community of people who wrote both fanfics and Romance novels that covered all my needs. I made new friends, read fanfics whenever I was too stressed for anything else, went back to writing… discovered that what I used to write for my school friends was basically fan fiction… then started to write in English and, eventually, decided to write my own original stories. And here we are.

Fanfiction is an important part of fandom, of literature, and of our lives. And that is why AO3 winning a well-deserved Hugo Award made me so happy and emotional this week. The fact that people have started to notice and appreciate fan fiction globally, and that they’ve awarded a site that was created to fight against censorship and other limitations is a huge step. But don’t just take my word for it. You can read some cool articles about this on Polygon, Vox and The Mary Sue.

So… have you ever read or written fanfiction? Has it helped you in any way?

The Hugo Award won by Archive of Our Own.
Our Shared Hugo Award. Photo taken from the OTW’s tumblr post.

July 2019 Update

My goals for July were to finish transcribing another notebook and, being up to date, to decide what to write first. But I’m pretty bad at decision-making, so I made a list and divided the stories I wanted to write into four groups. Group 1 had all the long stories, so that was out of the question. Group 2 had medium-sized stories with several ideas. Group 3 had short stories that needed more development, and Group 4 was formed by mere ideas. I wanted to choose one particular story from Group 2, but I knew I’d need a lot of time to do research (not as much as Group 1, but still), and I think I’m not ready for that yet. Maybe the problems I had with my PhD still affect me.

Somehow, world-building doesn’t feel so insurmountable at the moment, so I’ve chosen two fantasy stories that will just need some preliminary research. I didn’t want to choose one so soon, so my goal will be to write the two outlines during the month of August, and then decide if I want to write one of the stories, both or none.

I’ll keep you updated!

By the way, July has been a good month in general. I feel more positive nowadays, and I have more good weeks than bad ones per month. I even felt curious about my own notebook and I had fun transcribing it. That’s great news for me!

I also participated in my first Pride Parade ever! It was a lot of work, but I had fun and shared candies and rainbows with lots of people. Unfortunately, I’m very busy at work at the moment, but I’m taking care of myself. It’s always good to have friends that remind you to take a break now and then. My month could have ended badly if it weren’t for them.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Eighth Notebook

Cover of the Embellished Manuscripts notebook with a draft by Chopin and his signature.

The Embellished Manuscript collection is back! This one has the music sheet of one of Chopin’s Polonaises on the cover. Beautiful, right? I’m in love with this notebook. Chopin means a lot to me because I’ve studied piano in the past. I’ve probably told you I touched a piece of music handwritten by Chopin once, right? It was in one of the Writing Workshops I attended as a teenager. A historian brought one from her private collection and I was shocked when she let me hold it in my hands. You may laugh, but in that moment I thought that no one had trusted me with something so important before. I still feel humbled and honoured whenever I think about it.

Ahem, well, let’s get to the most important part in a notebook: what’s inside.

Of course, there’s always a lot of ideas and worldbuilding for the long fantasy story, so no need to keep telling you that. What I find interesting is there’s always something I’d forgotten I’d written. In my previous notebook, the new stories I found weren’t worth your time, but in this one I saw a couple I haven’t dismissed completely yet.

One of them looked like fun, but I didn’t know where it was going. At first I thought it was related to a fantasy story I had, but I’m not sure now.

Then there was a long outline for a thing I restarted in a different notebook (my current notebook), so I haven’t transcribed that one yet. I feel a bit like cheating because it took a quarter of the notebook, but I’m not going to write an outline 4 times.

I also found some notes I took during one of my research trips and a couple of weird dreams I’d forgotten about, so it was quite fun.

June 2019 Update

Holidays were a bit stressful for me because I got sick, so I spent a couple of weeks recovering and getting used to work again.

Once I got into it, transcribing the seventh notebook wasn’t hard at all. The Pact ™ has kept me motivated, even if I’m still doubting and second-guessing myself. I know making decisions is an important part of writing, so I’m trying to ignore my constant misgivings and keep pushing forward. Well, at least when it’s about transcribing my notebooks… because I still haven’t decided which project I want to draft for The Pact.

I know the doubts will be there with anything I choose, and if I have to choose between writing a draft and thinking it’s not the right one, and not writing anything… well, I’ve done the not writing already, so it’s about time I finished a draft, right? And they’re all going to feel wrong, so the only thing I can do is… try to do my best.

Anyway, you may have noticed I’ve posted not only one, but two posts with book recommendations. I wanted to share good books to read during Pride Month. My goals for the month were to finish transcribing a notebook and to post the Year 2 of Books I Loved as a Romance Reader. As you can see, I’ve been a bit of an overachiever; I did both, and then also posted Year 3 for Pride Week.

But Pride is not over for me! And I didn’t just mean it in the metaphorical sense. It’s still Pride Week in Spain, and we still have to celebrate it in Germany, so I’ll try to keep it up.

After reading this, my own post, I’ve decided my goals for July will be 1) to finish transcribing another notebook and, since I’ll be up to date by then, 2) to decide what to start writing first.

I also want to do something for German Pride, but I don’t know what. I don’t want to stress anyone with more book recs, so what would you like to see?

Photo by Samir Belhamra @Grafixart_photo on Pexels.com

Book recs – Year 3

If you liked the books I shared in my previous book-recs lists, you may enjoy this one as well. As a reminder, you already have the post about books that changed my life, the post about books that made me become a Romance reader, and the one featuring the books and series I discovered during my second year as a Romance reader.

Anyway, these were my favourite discoveries during my third year as a Romance reader:

Covers of twelve books/series I discovered during my third year as a Romance reader.
  • Him: Shall I start with another Ice Hockey Romance? Because I didn’t lie: they’re really quite popular. The first book of this series is one of the few romance novels with LGBTQ+ protagonists that have won a RITA award. It tells the story of two old friends that reunite and have to face the fact that their relationship will never go back to what it once was. Which doesn’t mean that it can’t go any other way.
  • The Carstairs Affairs: Two excellent spies with very different styles are forced to pose as a couple and work together in 1920s London to uncover a terrorist plot. The Great War is over and they will fight those who want to reignite the tensions… and do whatever is in their power to fulfill their mission. Becoming a real couple was not the plan, but a good spy can improvise in any situation.
  • Spires universe series: A group of contemporary standalone novels by Alexis Hall that take part in the same universe. They are all very different from each other, but also have some points in common: opposites attract, couples that shouldn’t match but do, characters with emotional intelligence versus logical characters. I love all of them, but my favourite is Waiting for the Flood. The most popular one is For Real, which won a well-deserved RITA award.
  • Snow & Winter: Sebastian Snow is an antiquarian who finds himself involved in crimes related to a topic he knows a lot about: Edgar Allan Poe. He’s lucky detective Calvin Winter doesn’t find him suspicious, even if he’s always one step ahead. Instead, Calvin ends up asking for his help to solve different cases. What could go wrong? Well, Sebastian could become a target, one of them could get killed… or worse, they could fall in love and change their lives forever.
  • Downtime: FBI Agent Morgan Nash is working on a dangerous case when he wakes up in 19th Century London. Ezra might have saved his life, but has also left him stranded in a past he doesn’t understand. No problem, though. An FBI Agent can fix anything, so he decides to solve his little time travelling problem, his new friends’ lives, and, on his own free time, the case of Jack the Ripper. Living so close to Ezra is not easy, though, because he can’t help falling in love with him.
  • Wanted: Wanted, A Gentleman is one of my favourite historical novels. One of the main characters wants to be a writer, but earns his money publishing a gazette with matrimonial ads. The other main character needs to find a friend who’s eloped after using said gazette. When they realize the young couple is going to get married in Scotland, both men embark on a road trip that will draw them closer than any of them wants.
  • Sins of the Cities: Another great historical series by KJ Charles. This one is full of suspense. There are murders, fraud, blackmail, and a line-up of adorable and wonderfully diverse main characters. What else could you need? Taxidermy? Mediums? Acrobats? Very nasty London smog? Very cool pubs? This series has you covered. And it’s one of my favourites!
  • The Roosevelt: This wonderful series starts with Carry the Ocean, which is one of my favourite books, and I hope it will continue for a long time. The main characters have a wonderful relationship in which they help and support each other so they can become the best versions of themselves. One of the main characters is autistic, and his partner has anxiety and depression. And they work great together because in each other they’ve found exactly what they need.
  • Lord Heliodor’s Retirement: A Fantasy book where the main character is retired and has to go back to work when he finds out the queen’s life is in danger… again. The good news is that he’s also discovered his first love is alive and well. The bad news is that he’s found out in the worst possible circumstances. Is it worth learning that the man you loved is a spy who faked his own death decades ago when he’s telling you that you’re all going to die?
  • Peter Darling: This Peter Pan retelling is a stroke of genius. In it, Wendy Darling is actually Peter Pan, and Neverland is the only place where he can be true to himself. But when he realizes this and manages to go back, everything has changed and, most of all, himself. He’s not a child anymore, and somehow the only person who seems to understand and share his misgivings is Captain Hook. Will they be able to agree to a truce? Could they become friends after all these years? And what about lovers?
  • Shatterproof: A dark Urban Fantasy Romance with lots of content warnings that you should check out. It’s a fascinating blend of Celtic Mythology and Haitian Vodou. The main characters are similar and different at the same time. Both have lost something, both have depression… but one of them wants to live more than anything else, and the other wants to die. It must be fate that brought them together, because Saint is doomed to lose all his lovers, and Grey couldn’t have dreamt of a sweeter way to kill himself.
  • Spindrift: A dark Paranormal Romance to end this list. This one is set in contemporary England and features ghosts, curses, and folklore. The main character is trying to recover from a suicide attempt in a quiet seaside village, but ends up investigating the history of the place to find out more about the ghost that haunts his rooms… who happens to have a very handsome descendant working at the local museum.

As you can imagine, I’ve learned a lot from Romance novels, especially about philosophy, politics, racism, ableism and mental health. If you need personalized recommendations or want to share your own, just leave a comment.

Happy reading and happy Pride!!

Seventh Notebook

A dark green notebook with the Google logo.

This small notebook was a present from a friend who lives in Ireland.

As mentioned in my previous notebook post, it contains some drafts for my blog in Spanish. Since I had already posted those, transcribing the notebook didn’t take as long as it could have. I was aiming to finish by the end of June, but you can see I’ve finished much earlier.

In this notebook there were some unexpected snippets. For instance, I had no memory of writing an outline for a gay retelling of Pride & Prejudice. And I’m always doubting and second-guessing myself, but for the first time I’ve felt 100% sure about something: I don’t think it’s worth writing. The main conflict was Darcy not accepting his sexuality, and… nope, I don’t want to do that. But because one may be able to use parts and pieces of unusable writing for something else in the future, I’ve transcribed all of it.

I had also written down a couple of dreams I’d forgotten all about. It was interesting, because they came back to my mind as I was transcribing what I’d written down so long ago. Reminded me of a dream diary I used to keep when I was a teenage.

I also had some notes about my trip to England… which was ages ago, now I realize.

In any case, I had lots of scenes for stories I’ve already mentioned, and these three new stories that I’m not going to start with. I’m looking forward to the next notebook, which I used during 2017, because it must have some new ideas.

Book recs – Year 2 (I guess)

It looks like many of you liked my post about the books that made me become an avid Romance reader, so I wanted to give you some more books you may want to read in this very special Pride Month. I guess that make this post Year 2, since the other mentioned 12 of the books I read during my first year as a Romance reader.

As you know, I prefer my books in English and with LGBTQ+ characters, but I’m open to anything as long as it’s good and I’m in the mood.
I’m afraid I’ve only discovered these wonderful books rather recently myself, so I’m still learning. Don’t hesitate to leave more recommendations if you think I’ll like them. I’m especially interested in ace, trans and f/f representation, since I haven’t read as many.

Here are the books and book series I discovered during my second year as a Romance reader (a few years ago):

Twelve books/series I discovered during my second year as a Romance reader.
  • The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal: A compilation of short stories about a ghost hunter. Imagine John Watson writing about the nsfw paranormal cases he shared with Sherlock Holmes. That will give you an idea of what it’s about. By the way, there is a short story not included in this compilation that belongs to both Simon Feximal and the Whyborne & Griffin series. Do not miss it if you like any of these stories!
  • Hexworld: The idea of having witch policemen bonding with familiars who are actually shifters, and set it all in 1920s New York is something that could only have occurred to Jordan L. Hawk, because they’re a genius. Believe me, these two first series I’ve mentioned are two of the best Paranormal Romance series out there, so go ahead and read them if you haven’t yet.
  • The Turner Series: A delightful historical series about a group of siblings and their found family that includes my favourite retelling of Beauty and the Beast. The series has a diverse cast of characters with different disabilities who find love and happiness where (and when) they least expect it. With this series, Cat Sebastian became one of my favourite writers, and you’ll know why when you read it.
  • Scoring Chances: A sports series about ice hockey, because ice hockey has quite a few LGBTQ+ friendly series, and this is one of the best. The books follow teams playing in the ECHL: mainly the Sea Storms and the Spitfires, but there are characters who belong to other teams as well. I think that the fact that it’s minor-league professional hockey makes it more interesting and fun. Every book has different main characters, so you can learn what happens to the enforcers, the goalie, the coach… If you made me choose, I’d say my favourite one is Power Play.
  • Vivaldi in the Dark: This is one dark series, because I used to read many of those before my burnout turned into depression. This series is wonderful, and the representation of depression is superb. It shows that things are not easy, but there’s hope, and… most importantly, it shows that a romantic relationship doesn’t cure depression. In any case, read the content warnings before you read the book. Or ask me in the comments if you’re interested (in any of these books).
  • Wytch Kings: Another Fantasy series with magic and dragon shifters. In this one, the dragons come as a surprise when the characters realize that they belong to a line of dragon shifters. It all starts with the firstborn of the Wytch King: in order to inherit the throne, he needs wytch powers… but he has none whatsoever. His younger brother doesn’t want to rule, so he undertakes to make an experiment that may awaken the powers within himself. The problem is… no one really knows how to control a dragon.
  • Howl at the Moon: This one is a typical small town Contemporary Romance… with a twist: in this small town, many of the inhabitants are actually dog shifters. Territorial, loyal, and adorable, these shifters may be the perfect neighbours for some, and the worst for others. Fortunately, the town is a haven for dog lovers. There are military dogs, comfort dogs, people who want to be human and refuse to shift… and people that stop trusting humans and want to live like dogs.
  • Dark Space: The name might have given it away, but this is a dark science-fiction series. And it really is dark, so do check for content warnings if needed. I don’t read sci-fi that often, but I really enjoyed this series and I’m looking forward to the third book of the trilogy. If you want something lighter by this author, you can always check Adulting 101, which appears at the end of this list.
  • Think of England: Another KJ Charles Romance, like The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, but this one is historical. The protagonist is a war veteran in the early 20th century, investigating if he’s been the victim of an accident or sabotage. Soon, he finds out that he’s not the only one interested in uncovering the secrets of his hosts, nor the only one who wants revenge.
  • Spirits: Another Paranormal Romance series by Jordan L Hawk. This one explores the unlikely relationship between a traditional spirit medium and an inventor who uses science to find and exorcise spirits. They meet each other when they join a contest to exorcise the house of a rich family, but will science or tradition win? In the end, the contest stops being important when the spirits try to kill everyone in the house. They’ll have to work together if they want to survive.
  • Mermen of Ea: A Fantasy Romance about… well, mermen. But it all starts with pirates. Or rather, a boy kidnapped by pirates who decides to join them because he enjoys life at sea. One day, during a storm, the boy dives overboard to save someone, but he’s lost and rescued by a rival captain. However, he was not as unlucky as it may seem, for the man tells him that they’re both mermen and he might know something about his true origins.
  • Adulting 101: Tons of fun in this Contemporary Romance novel with two very good best friends, a horny 18 year-old with a crush on a coworker, and lots of pizza, cuddling, and Netflix and chill. One of the main characters doesn’t know where his place in the world is, the other one knows his place is everywhere and nowhere. So it’s not a bad idea to spend a summer together and then continue with their lives, right? Unless feelings are more complicated than they thought.

Let me know if you’ve read any of these books and whether you liked this list. I hope so, because I have already started working on Year III of these book recommendation posts. There are so many good books out there! And I can’t wait to reach the years in which the books I read became even more diverse.