Visual novels and Psychedelica

While I’m taking a break from my second novel, I’m learning how to make a visual novel with Ren’Py.

Why a visual novel? I’m experimenting with branching narrative. I’m a software dev. I used to compose music, and am curious about doing it again. And of course I write!

Why Ren’Py? Some of my favorite VNs are made in Ren’Py. To be fair, I could use Twine since I’m starting with almost no graphics. Maybe I should do that for story drafts.

But as research, I’m playing lots of visual novels on the Vita. I’ve been focusing on otome games: these are generally targeted at women and have pretty dudes in them that are sometimes dateable. The genre is often SFF, too, which makes it entirely my catnip.

Beautiful rainbows!

I started with the Psychedelica games: Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly and Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk. Black Butterfly is now available on Steam as well as Vita.

There’s a wolf AND a hawk!

Black Butterfly reviews:

Ashen Hawk reviews:

I enjoyed both of these games so much- I look forward to replaying them sometime soon. They’ve got angst and some bittersweet endings. If you want a more hopeful game, I guess I’d go with Black Butterfly.

Obsidian Rim

Every week I check what’s new in SFR, and I see a lot of cover images featuring shirtless dudes, usually with no heads and sometimes with altered skin (say, tiger-striped, circuit-boarded, or purple). I read some of these books. I enjoy them. I’m happy other people enjoy them. But there are other things I want from SFR, too.

The SFRB posted an article about the new shared-world series called Obsidian Rim. Far-future space adventure romance. To say I’m excited would be a tame statement. It ticks my following boxes:

  • Available at all retailers
  • Humans only
  • A medium dose of science, so it’s not space fantasy
  • Character-driven story with relationships
  • Explore new society experiences

Things that don’t tick these boxes are cool with me, but there’s already plenty of that to read in SFR. This series sports a whole bunch of factors I like together that I don’t see done often.

So far, three books are out:

I believe in what this series is doing and want to support it as best I can. Ideally there will be reviews and giveaways to come. I think there are something like twenty books in the pipeline for 2019? I’m looking forward to that!

How I use BookBub to buy ebooks

Every morning, I get an email from BookBub telling me what’s on sale. I scroll through this, and automatically buy the book if…

  • I’ve read it before, enjoyed it, and haven’t bought it yet
  • It’s by an author I have liked and the blurb sounds at all interesting
  • A friend or blog told me it’s good, but I was on the fence

Here’s a list of the blogs I read:

If you have good sources to recommend me for science fiction, romance, fantasy, and any combination of the above, let me know!

Book purchases: this week’s rundown

Writers are often curious as to how readers find their books and what makes them push the buy button or hand money to the cashier. Here’s my receipt from Kobo this week so far:

  • Before I Wake by Kathryn Smith
  • The Rogue Prince by Lindsay Buroker
  • Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
  • Not Another Family Wedding by Jackie Lau
  • Dangerous by Amanda Quick
  • Outcast by Kiru Taye
  • Rock Rift by Elsa Jade
  • End Transmission by Robyn Bachar
  • Lady of Desire by Gaelen Foley

Dangerous and Lady of Desire are both historical romances I borrowed from the library when they first came out and I enjoyed them. They’re now on sale, so I’ll support that. In a similar vein, I loved Kathryn Smith’s historical romances years ago, and this paranormal looks like it could be fun.

Rosemary and Rue and The Rogue Prince have both been recommended to me: the former by a personal friend, and the latter by some SFRB members.

Not Another Family Wedding and Outcast are part of my personal desire to support writers of color, especially in romance.

I read the weekly Veronica Scott new SFFR releases, and picked up Rock Rift and End Transmission, both new releases by authors I like. Rock Rift is a new series in a shared universe that I heard about via the SFRB, and End Transmission wraps up the Galactic Cold War series.

I also bought Nier: Automata – Short Story Long by Jun Eishima from my local bookstore because I’m a super hyper mega fan of the video game.

Long story short cover image, has androids on it
!@#$ Square Enix, as Yoko would say.

I have gotten to the financial point where I don’t have a book budget anymore. If a book fulfills certain criteria, I buy it. I’ve given up the goal of reading every book I buy. There are just too many good books out there!

Choice paralysis

I’ve signed up for another multi-week writing class where we try to write or revise a hundred pages. But I find myself confused as to what I want to work on: a project that’s 25% of the way through the first draft, or a brand new one? I’ve an idea for a fantasy romance…but it it fantasy when the magic is sufficiently advanced technology? It’s not set in space, so it’s not space fantasy. The project with some writing and plotting already done is another scifi romance.

Am I beguiled by the shininess of a new project, or does this indecision come from my fear of nobody wanting another book that’s set in the world of my first manuscript? Sequels are a hard sell. So motivating myself for working on that project can be difficult any given day.

But I need to remind myself that the high-order bit is that I’m writing. Writing is good for me. Either story needs a good structure, its beats figured out, and its themes crystallized. Figuring out those things help keep my brain balanced.