Big Changes

Holly says “Hello! And why aren’t you writing right now?”

I’m planning on several big changes for this site soon. There will be more sections added for reviews, articles, and other offerings. I plan on making this a little more active. It seems I say this and nothing happens, but I assure you it’s a lot of planning in my notebook and new posts will be coming soon as well as new stories and more insight and upcoming publications.

So far on the horizon you can expect:

  • Unbridled the second edition and new cover. I’m finishing up edits for this.
  • a camping themed short story
  • NaNoWriMo 2020 project – Hello, Professor – a new romance!
  • Articles on self-publishing, design and mindfulness
  • more reviews!

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during these crazy times.

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe

Review – Gakuen Heaven (anime)

I figured since this journal is so quiet I at least should do some reviews of things I’ve watched or read. One of the things that I’ve been doing in all my “free time” other than writing and freelancing is make some progress on my queue, specifically anime, which I’ve been obsessed with since junior high (a long long time ago). I started watching the anime Gakuen Heaven on Amazon Prime, free to subscribers and 13 episodes long.

Gakuen Heaven on Amazon Prime

The perk here is Amazon Prime has a lot of free Anime to watch from Retro Crush, a digital rights company that has a lot of old school anime, some of it I grew up with and am happy to revisit.

I had never seen Gakuen Heaven, but I’ve started to really get into the M/M and BL community, whether it’s manga, novels or TV and movie series. And this month being Pride Month, it’s even more fitting to celebrate LGBT+ stories.

Back to Gakuen Heaven – this is about the anime ONLY. I know there’s a manga and RPG but I don’t have access to them, so I’ll stick to talking about the anime. This is about the Japanese audio and English subtitled version, as they did not have the dub available.

Amazon rates this as 13+ ages, so it’s not as explicit as some Yaoi anime can be. I see this more as Shonen-Ai (boys love) so the romance is mild and fluffy. As with most Shonen-Ai anime, the formula is pretty typical. It’s an all boys school, so there are no female characters. None. There are effeminate boys that could be considered girly, obviously the “uke”(bottoms) label, and there are dominate “seme” (tops) males.

The main protagonist is Keita Ito, who is an effeminate boy with large blue eyes, wild reddish-brown hair, and is shorter than most of the other boys characters. He’s specifically of the “fandom bicycle” trope, though he does have interactions with other guys that are interested in him or flirt with him, but his true love interest is obviously his childhood friend Kazuki Endo. There are other boys that don’t care for Keita in the beginning, but quickly he wins everyone over, even the scheming twins who antagonize him and basically just throw barbs at him and eye daggers. They don’t really do anything other than kvetch that he’s even at the school.

Keita is invited to attend Bell Liberty Academy (BL Academy, get it? Har har) in the middle of a semester. Bell Liberty is known for only accepting exceptional students that have a particular talent, whether it’s computer science, arts, or sports. Keita is completely ordinary. He is an average student and doesn’t have an specific talents. The only thing that may be considered his talent is that he’s “lucky” because he does get into certain dire accidents and comes out of them completely unscathed for the most part. However, he is still offered to attend by a mysterious “Chairman” of the school. With good reason, other students that have talent start to wonder what the motivation is to accept such an average student to their school.

Kazuki Endo is Keita’s dorm neighbor and immediately he dotes on Keita and wants to spend time with him. The two go to breakfast together, as well as dinner, and Kazuki watches him to the degree that he’s in love with Keita, even before he comes to the school. We find out later that Kazuki is actually the “Chairman” and he’s busy doing a lot of meetings and dealing with board members who don’t believe he’s fit to take the position. The Chairman relies on the Student council who is headed by the King, who immediately warms up to Keita as well.

In a short time that Keita is at Bell Liberty, he amasses some powerful friends, some of them who make passes at him immediately, like Nakajima (who is far too creepy and makes Keita visibly nervous) to Naruse, the tennis captain, who immediately claims ownership of Keita, is overtly lovey dovey with him, and calls him “Honey” and tries to force him on dates. Naruse comes on strong, but he’s not creepy, just an obvious lover boy. Keita tries to rebuff him kindly, and even cool and calm Kazuki gets angry when Naruse is around trying to advance on Keita.

Kazuki is the most doting (boy)friend. He’s possessive of Keita but it’s more enduring than excessive. SWOON.

There are other characters, quiet and reserved, who open up or have personality shifts because of Keita. Keita is a bit of a Gary Stu, but Gakuken Heaven, though obviously formulaic of BL anime, does not take itself too seriously.

Even the supposed danger Keita is in does not last for long, as his long line of student council or pretty boy friends come to his immediate rescue, or Keita wins them over with his charm – Jin Matsuoka one of them, whom was intent on slitting Keita’s throat at one point.

The unfortunate thing with the Jin Matsuoka arc was it was tacked on the end. Jin wasn’t around much throughout the whole series, but he appears in the last two episodes as someone who believes Keita is responsible for his lover being in a coma as the both of them had the same virus, but Keita was “lucky” and came out of it unscathed in childhood whereas Hiroya, Jin’s lover, is in a coma. Of course at the end, Hiroya comes out of it and wakes up to Jin, and everything is hunky dory. The story wasn’t really fleshed out well at all, and Jin’s hatred of Keita seemed to come out of nowhere.

Obviously the MVP story arc is the best, with the boys uncovering the corruption of the Vice-Chairman who wants to expel Keita to get at Kazuki so he would resign as Chairman, because the Vice-Chairman and his skeevy board member allies don’t want some punk kid in charge of the school.

Keita and Kazuki join the MVP contest, where more is revealed about Kazuki to Keita, and Keita, for whatever reason, starts to remember Kazuki as his childhood friend who made a promise they would go to school together. The two win the MVP contest, with Keita solving some of the riddles and helping the twin boys that hate him out when they are in danger. Even with the Vice-Chairman’s interference of hiring goons to take out Keita during the contest, Keita and Kazuki win, with a little help from their friends of course. Nakajima and the King specifically come out of the shadows to rough up the goons who try to taser them, and even Shunsuke runs over a couple of goons with his bike, unknowingly. Like I said, everything comes out perfectly for the heroes and the Vice-Chariman is fired and shamed for all his shady dealings.

Kazuki finally confesses to Keita, and during a meteor shower, they snuggle and share a kiss. It ends with all the other characters enjoying their own happiness and watching the meteor shower too. And also during that meteor shower, Hiyora wakes up from his coma to Jin, and they embrace, and Hiyora appreciate’s Jin’s long hair, which he grew out no doubt for him. It’s a feel good ending, and the two main boys get together. There’s kind of a hilarious epilogue in the morning where Keita is coming out of the bushes frazzled and running late to his classes, blaming Kazuki. Kazuki winks at him, and it’s up to the viewer to assume whether they did more than kiss the night before.

(they totally banged)

Okay we know you got some, Kazuki.

It was a cute anime story. I liked the 13 episode format, and there was no drawn out drama or stupid misunderstandings, which I’ve come to like in anime. I’ve seen enough anime with big seasons and multiple episodes that just draw stuff out and I just can’t get into that. It was a feel good ending, the anime boys are pretty to look at, and there’s some good humor throughout the plot. Nobody is really in danger and even the coma boyfriend of the evil school doctor comes out with a win.

I wished there was a little more development of Jin/Hiyora but other than that, I think they treated the reveal of Kazuki’s true identity to Keita in an appropriate way.

If you want to watch a cute, boys love anime with not a lot of uncomfortable explicit scenes, this is for you.

Disclaimer: I pulled some of these images from the web on Google. If any of them are yours I’d be happy to credit. Thanks!

2020 Update & Upcoming Topics

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I know it’s been awhile since I last updated this blog. My writing has been… scattered, and to be perfectly frank, I haven’t done the amount of it I’ve wanted. I wanted to work on War Fury, the sequel to Mod Fury, as well as my other WIPs and short stories. I have plans, but time has been limited. Being a mom has taken up most of my time.

Back in mid-March I lost my full time job, a job which I loved, to the COVID-19 hardship and have been job searching ever since. In the meantime, I’ve been catching up with projects, freelancing, learning new skills and updating my portfolio website.

I am also a full-time mom now, as our shelter-at-home decree have forced the family to stay home, that means my daughter is not attending daycare as much. Taking care of a three year old is a full time job. I’m teaching her baking, painting, and we’ve mastered riding a bike! Being able to be with her during these pivotal life moments is a priceless treasure I wouldn’t trade for anything.

However, as job searching is starting to slow for me, I’m starting to shift back to my writing projects. There are a couple of projects in the pipeline:

  • Protector, a short story part of an anthology. This has been on hold as only half the group have turned in stories. I’m one of the authors behind… It’s in the editing process at the moment.
  • Blazing Heat – Just a short story romance story, almost finished.
  • Unbridled – 2nd version, with a new cover and some more editing.

I’m hoping to keep up with these, as well as begin to work on some of the other stories that need heavy editing and drafting.

I hope to keep the blog more updated and active. I’ve been thinking about posting some articles on various topics, like navigating the self-publishing world, as well as give some insight on some of my processes.

I became inspired to do this when a friend came to me to ask me where I published my book, and she seemed surprised that I did most of it myself, albeit with the help of freelance editors and betas, but as for the artwork, fonts and layout, that’s all me. She was surprised because a friend of her used a professional publisher to publish her children’s book, paid a hefty sum of money on it, and the artwork and layout of the story is terrible, the pictures are too dark and the font choice was COMIC SANS (RAGE), and it was not only used on the titles and sub titles, but also in the actual story.

No professional worth their salt would ever do the things this publisher did to this woman’s story. It was supposed to be a cute story about a dog, and it’s a huge mess.

No design student would use Comic Sans. No design student in MIDDLE SCHOOL would use dark pictures on dark backgrounds. Nor would they draw the main character in the CREASE of the binding.

I was appalled. This poor author saved up her money to have this half ass book made for her, a children’s book that was soft cover, no less, like something you get printed at Staples, and she has 3 reviews on Amazon.

I cannot stand predatory vanity publishers. Every time I see the commercials for publishing companies on TV peddling their book packages to new authors, I cringe. You can do the hard work and send queries and get an agent and have a big boy publish your work, or you can self publish and utilize the tools out there, do your own marketing, and build a network of freelancers, reviewers and betas to help with your book. Both situations do not promise a bunch of bullshit for a large fee and then you end up getting a subpar product.

So something must be done about this. I hope with some of my guidance and experience, I can help.

Take care, everyone, and stay healthy. See you next time very soon!

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe

Apologies

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I know that I haven’t been around here in some time. Unfortunately, we lost our dear beloved dog Malachy this last month, and things have been rough for me to get into any sort of writing or creative endeavors. His health had been failing for some time, so taking care of a senior pet up until we had to make that tough decision really takes a toll on you.

We adopted Malachy in 2007. He was three years old, so he was a part of our family for 13 years. It almost seems unreal that he’s not with us anymore, that he’s not at my ankles following me around, or that I can’t put my hand down and feel his cold nose sniff me as he rubs his scruffy head against me.

It’s rough. He was family and now adjusting to his absence is very painful.

So writing has been on a pause. I finally finished up a short story for an anthology and sent to my beta reader. Hopefully that’ll be polished for publication soon.

NaNoWriMo is coming up and I’m going to attempt to do it in order to make progress on my Avenging Sisters series.

If you have pets at home, give them a big hug for me. Treasure every second with them. They don’t have as long as we do, and their love is irreplaceable.

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe

Spellbinding: An Anthology of Magic RELEASED

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Spellbinding: An Anthology of Magic is available on Amazon Kindle!

Authors: Meredith Anderson, Sara Coates, Alyssa Corbett, Rebecca Crunden, Kristina Decker, John Flynn, Kasey Kubica, L.J. LaBarthe, H.K. Rowe
Genres: Fantasy, Anthology, Urban Fantasy
Links: Amazon | Goodreads (add to your to-read or currently-reading lists)
Available in ebook (and paperback soon).
Summary: Everyone knows magic isn’t real … But what if it was?Nine tales, each one a snapshot of what happens to those who suddenly find themselves entangled with magic. From the wish that grants one sudden, unimaginable power, to a dark hex upon a wood, to faeries with nefarious intentions and hunters seeking blood, this anthology showcases the intricate web of adventure that comes from messing with magic.
My short story is “Promise to Keep” and is about a modern-day mage, Katrina, and a werewolf police captain Alastair! (I’ve always liked that name.) The story has action, urban fantasy, and two-knuckleheads in love — oh, well, they have feelings for each other, but one of them has a problem keeping them from making that first move…
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There are other great stories to read in this anthology by a lot of talented authors. Please grab your copy and support indie writers by leaving feedback! I know you’re enjoy all the diverse stories of magic!
Thanks for the support. Cheers,
H.K. Rowe

“Promise to Keep” short story

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Credit to Photo by Aiony Haust on Unsplash of the beautiful woman. The gorgeous man was found and paid for from Dreamstime. Graphic design by Stargazer Heather Designs.

Soon I’ll be releasing another short story within an anthology with a group of talented writers. The anthology itself will be a collection of magical stories, and I’m very excited to share this with you. The release is right around the corner; though, I don’t have a definitive date yet.

I will post an update once the ebook is live!

My contribution is a story called Promise to Keep about a modern-day mage, Katrina, and a werewolf police captain Alastair! (I’ve always liked that name.) The story has action, urban fantasy, and two-knuckleheads in love — oh, well, they have feelings for each other, but one of them has a problem keeping them from making that first move…

Here’s a short preview except of the story…


Lightly and carefully, she pulled Alastair out and leaned him against her for support. She looked around, glad that there weren’t any onlookers. It was late enough in the night, yet there was still potential for people to stop by and see them. ‘Try to stand upright and not look so wounded. We don’t want people to get suspicious.’

He made a ragged noise of affirmation and straightened up as best as he could. He steadied his breathing, trying to hold back the pain.

When they got inside the building, one of his night volunteers, Raye, rushed over to them.

‘Oh my God, what happened?’ she exclaimed, immediately helping Katrina prop him up. They steered Alastair into the office with the sofa and laid him down.

He sighed in relief when his back met the soft cushions, but when Katrina started inspecting his wound, he flinched. Pangs of agony throbbed through him.

‘He was attacked. Go get the medical kit and my healing herbs in my desk,’ she said, and Raye turned dutifully.


Stay tuned for updates on the release of this anthology.

In the meantime, I plan on finishing War Fury soon. The recent death of one of my dogs, as well as my full time job’s demands have made it a challenge to keep up. Mod Fury will get its sequel soon.

Cheers!

H.K. Rowe

SPIRITS ABOUND IS FREE!

The anthology Spirits Abound: Ghostly Little Tales is now FREE for Kindle ebook from today until Monday. Please pick up your copy!

spiritsabound-cover

Summary:

In The Hitchhiker…Out of luck and out of battery, Madeleine Cooper is too prideful to go back to campus to call for a ride after she misses the last bus out of town. Determined to walk the full distance back to her current home just south of Seaside, Oregon from Astoria, one thing after another goes wrong and she’s forced to try thumbing for a ride on a secluded coastal road. Little does Madeleine know that her savior is more than they appear on this dark and stormy night.

In The Ties That Bind… She’s drawn to certain places and certain things, and they never fail to lead her somewhere interesting. It’s a long drive through a clear night, and there’s something waiting at the end, in the dark, biding it’s time. It has a story to tell.

In Deathly Ever After… Three young high school girls live out the last day of their torture and murder over and over again. Lanie starts to realize that they have been caught in this nightmare, and she wonders if there’s any way she can break free and save her friends.

In Whispers… After two life-altering tragedies, Katie finds herself alone. She returns to her childhood home to make a new start. But she has some unexpected and mysterious intrusions into her life awaiting her.

Please support indie writers and pick up a copy! We’d love to hear what you think. Find the book on Goodreads too and add it to your reading list!

 

Thanks,

H.K. Rowe

FREE BOOK: Unbridled (accidentally)

Well, by accident I tried to set up a free promotion for the Spirits Abound anthology for today, and ended up setting up the wrong book. Because obviously I don’t pay attention to things…

Spirits Abound will go up for FREE on Kindle tomorrow, but today, I guess I’m also running another FREE promotion on Unbridled! So the kindle version is free until Sunday. Get a copy if you haven’t yet!

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Unbridled is FREE now!

I’ll be back tomorrow to promote Spirits Abound!

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe

PRICE DROP! Mod Fury is now $0.99

My short story about modern day furies is now priced at $0.99. Get your copy!

Mod Fury by H.K. Rowe on Amazon! As always Mod Fury is FREE on KU.

Mod Fury

Mod Fury – Urban fantasy series coming soon on Amazon!

If you get a chance to review it, that would be lovely! You can find it HERE on Goodreads too. Thanks for all the support!

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe

BOOK RELEASE: Spirits Abound Anthology!

Happy Halloween! Spirits Abound: Ghostly Little Tales was released yesterday for kindle. Please check it out! Get your copy here at Amazon.

My short story “Deathly Ever After” is one of four chilling little ghost tales. Three other authors have been published for the first time. Please support us!

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It’s here! The digital copy of Spirits Abound: Ghostly Little Tales is available on Amazon.

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe