All posts by Shane Blackheart

Shane is a transman writer of LGBTQ+ dark romance, urban fantasy, and all manners of curious and odd things. He’s greatly inspired by Anne Rice, V.C. Andrews, Edgar Allan Poe, Marquis de Sade, and various philosophers. He lives in Ohio as a cat dad, and his daily routine consists of getting lost in conversations with his muses/spirit guides, lots of caffeine, and regular bouts of melancholy that result in philosophical musings. He also loves to add to the growing collection of books he claims he will read someday.

[M+]Excerpt from Gabriel – original writing

I haven’t posted anything in a while, so I figured I could post this bit of inspiration I got today. This is an excerpt from a longer story I have in progress. I had horrible writer’s block with it until today when this moment hit me out of nowhere. It was deviously fun to write and will be part of the book, but a warning: It’s rated as mature content for a reason. Byleth is pretty liberal with his language most times, and this scene is kind of spicy, but more so in an emotional aspect. It could also be considered a bit offensive. The book itself is an LGBTQ+ erotic fantasy, although this scene does not contain anything explicit other than language.


Gabriel stormed into Byleth’s flat and crossed his arms once he reached the bar, refusing to look at the fallen king behind him. He couldn’t allow himself to fall into any more depravity because of the deviant, and he would put a stop to everything right now. “Byleth, no more.”

“Oh, so your high wore off. Great. Killed my buzz.” Byleth huffed as he fell onto the bed. Gabriel had been more than jovial on their walk home from the concert, the weed that had been passed around to them potent enough, especially for a first-timer like the angel. When Gabriel’s wings had come out after his high kicked in, everything had come to a stop as Byleth snapped his fingers to rush them out of the theater. The Doors would be around again soon, no doubt, but Byleth was more eager to play with the angel’s tolerance for certain things. Acid had been potent as well as grass, but now that it was wearing off, as with the acid before, Gabriel was coming to his senses. That wouldn’t do.

“I’m not even supposed to be doing this sort of thing!” The angel finally turned around, his arms wrapped around himself. He couldn’t meet Byleth’s eyes. It would only remind him of the forbidden things he’d done with the fallen king the night before. “All of this is new to me, but I see now that it’s only a way for you to manipulate me.” He braved a glance at Byleth’s red eyes that were staring right at him. “That’s been your plan, hasn’t it? Our discussion this morning meant nothing to you?”

“I’m getting a fucking headache, which isn’t something I have to deal with. Congratulations.” Byleth pushed up off the bed and approached the bar beside Gabriel to pour a drink. It was a metaphorical headache, of course. “I know what we discussed. I don’t hate you like I do the others, Gabriel. I’m just trying to show you a good time while you’re here — which, by the way, you never elaborated on. Care to?”

Gabriel fell silent and stared at the floor. When he didn’t speak up for some time, Byleth turned to face him with a strong drink in his hand. It was an awkward moment before the angel figured he should say something. “May we agree to enjoy our time here without mind-altering substances?”

“You mean to tell me you didn’t like feeling human for a minute?” Byleth smiled and shoved the drink in Gabriel’s direction. There were many tricks he could play to loosen the angel up that he wouldn’t expect, a good glass of gin and tonic a great place to start. Byleth took his own glass as Gabriel sipped his.

The angel grimaced and swallowed hard. “What in Heaven’s name is this awful concoction?”

“Something to tame your tensions, turtle dove.” Byleth took a large drink from his own and returned to the edge of the bed. He snapped his fingers and a record player kicked on across the room to play ‘Get Ready’ by the Temptations.

Gabriel stared suspiciously at the glass as he leaned back against the bar, sniffing it before taking another drink. “It burns.”

“It’s supposed to. You’ll be feeling warm and fuzzy in no time.” Byleth chuckled. The angel would be a lightweight for certain, which he was all too happy to witness.

“This isn’t another of your strange substances, is it?” Gabriel took another drink despite his concerns.

“Most humans enjoy this sort of thing. It isn’t taboo if that’s what you’ve got your feathers in a bunch over.”

“Oh, I see.” Gabriel took a bigger drink that time, the warmth spreading down into his stomach where it lingered. He had to admit that it felt very nice, and it wasn’t messing with his perception of reality like the other two things. He was also aware, as the minutes ticked by and after a second glass, that he was feeling particularly fuzzy and happy, and his skin was warm.

“Feeling good now, are you?” Byleth bit his lip to keep from laughing at the angel, his tolerance much higher. It took more than three glasses of the stuff to affect him, and Gabriel was already practically swooning over the sensations from two small glasses. ‘Come and Get Your Love’ by Redbone came over the speaker, which was enough to get Byleth in the mood. He leaned back on the bed on his elbows, drink still in hand. “Get over here, pigeon.”

“Oh, no. No, see, I see what you’re doing, Byleth, and it won’t work this time. No, sir.” Gabriel was speaking much more freely now, although he was still very aware of the king’s deviousness. No amount of muscle peeking through a half-buttoned shirt, nor a pair of bellbottoms that were much too tight would distract him. “Oh, dear.”

Byleth arched an eyebrow. “Get your angelic ass over here.”

Gabriel was already reaching behind the bar for the bottle of gin, not realizing that what he’d been consuming before was a mixed drink. Byleth smirked and let it happen, laughing quietly as the angel groaned and made a face of extreme displeasure. “I must purge these wicked thoughts.” Gabriel turned to Byleth, glaring. “The only drink I can trust is one made by my own hand. You shan’t trick me again.”

“Oh yeah? Go for it.” Byleth watched as Gabriel downed the gin in his glass. “But do it over here.”

Gabriel rounded the bar and grabbed onto the edge of it, dizziness hitting him. He nearly dropped the half-full glass in his hand. “You can’t make me this time.”

Byleth lowered his eyes. “Come. Here.”

The tone in the king’s voice sent a shiver up Gabriel’s spine, and it alarmed him. He wasn’t sure exactly what possessed him, but he met Byleth’s gaze and answered with a breathy, “No.”

“Excuse me?” Byleth stood to approach the angel and observed him. Oh. It was happening again, it seemed. The fallen king smiled, two small canines poking over his lip. “Are you defying me?”

Gabriel licked his lips nervously and avoided Byleth’s gaze, his cheeks growing red. Why did everything feel so good right now? Surely it wasn’t from the drink. “Y-yes. My answer is no.”

Bullshit. Byleth circled around the angel and trailed a finger up Gabriel’s arm. He could smell the gin on the angel’s breath as he breathed heavily. “What’s the matter, pigeon? Can’t handle your gin?”

“I am not a pigeon.” Gabriel tensed as he felt hot breath drift across his neck as Byleth came close only to draw back again, chuckling.

“You’re a fucking pigeon. A messenger pigeon, more like it. God’s little bitch.”

Byleth’s baritone laughter went straight south, and Gabriel was quickly downing the rest of his drink for something less awkward to do. “Your language…”

“Am I offending you?” Byleth mocked a sound of sympathy and set his glass on the bar, coming up behind Gabriel to run his hands up the angel’s back where wings would otherwise be present.

Gabriel twitched more from pleasure than annoyance. “It is inappro — inappopiate…” Gabriel trailed off, his buzz strengthening. He had no doubt he’d consumed something else that was causing that debauched feeling to come back, although this time he was aware of every second. He was also very aware of how much the sober Gabriel very much liked this sort of thing deep inside, and this strange drink only brought it out of him. He shivered.

“Oh? Inappropriate, huh? What if I said I didn’t give a fuck about your sensibilities?” Byleth was sure to moan out the ‘fuck’ to torture the angel further.

“Please, Byleth.” Gabriel teared up as he fought his true desires. They were eating him alive, and he was frightened by them.

Byleth paused and watched the angel’s eyes become red around the edges as tears threatened to spill forth. A smile tugged at his lips. “Are you going to cry?” A sadistic pleasure rushed up inside him and he came close to Gabriel, grabbing the angel’s jaw and forcing it to look up at him. “You gonna cry, baby?”

“Why are you so cruel? Why — why do you…” The drunkenness robbed further speech from Gabriel as Byleth’s touch sent a wave of arousal through him.

“Pigeons are supposed to coo, sweetie, not whine.” Byleth reached down and slid a hand along the bulge that had formed in the angel’s corduroy pants. It brought a breathy moan from the form in his grasp. “Much better.”

The tears finally spilled over, but not from misery. Everything felt so wonderful and Gabriel knew he was powerless to deny himself what he had come to enjoy. He was already surely damned for what they’d done together the other night, so what was once more? But that was how it started. Soon, Gabriel was sure, if he ever came across God again in his shame, he would end up in the flames with this devil. “I’m debauched,” he slurred. “Indecent.”

Byleth hummed in approval, grabbing a fist full of the angel’s shirt to drag him over to the bed. “Beautiful words. Are you getting it now?” Byleth’s own buzz had set in and he was more than eager to give the angel another test drive.

“Unfortunately.” Gabriel fell on top of Byleth as they stumbled backward onto the bed. He lifted himself up onto his hands and stared down at the being that would surely be his undoing on a grand scale. “Why have you done this to me? Why me?”

“Because I like it.” Byleth untucked the angel’s shirt and pulled the buttons open, teasing his claws up quivering sides. “And so do you.”

“Do I? Oh God, do I?” Gabriel was close to tears again as a pulse below nearly pulled another moan from him. He felt Byleth’s arousal just as strong against his own as the fallen king gently bucked up against him.

Byleth lifted his head to lick away a tear trail and whispered against the angel’s face. “You love it.” He pulled back and rocked his hips into Gabriel’s once more while staring into a pair of glazed blue eyes. “This beautiful cock of yours isn’t so angelic right now, is it?”

“That’s so… dirty.” Gabriel’s eyes fell shut and he met Byleth’s rhythm with his own. “It burns and it aches, and it’s so, so, so miserable. But why do I like it?” He stopped and stared down at Byleth, his tears drying. “Why?”

The fallen king chuckled. “We need to get you drunk more often, sugar.” He beckoned for the angel to close the distance between them, and he was pleased when Gabriel fell into a kiss that had them both breathless.

©2020 Shane Blackheart

Book Review: Butchers

ButchersButchers by Todd Sullivan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I dived into this book with certain expectations, as I’m a huge fan of vampire fiction, and I was pleasantly surprised at the unique take the author had on them. This was a wild ride full of gore, grossness, and vampires who are truly immortal and equally immoral. (This review will not be completely spoiler-free.)

The story begins with an intense fight between vampire members of an organization called Gwanlyo. The rules are strict for them and meant to keep vampires in place — existing among humans without alerting them to the presence of beings much more frightening than they could imagine. They may tear at each other, slice off limbs, gouge out eyes, and pry an entire torso open, but unless one is beheaded or a heart is crushed, they will continue to exist. This fight opens the book to show just how much of a beating these vampires can take before one keels over for good.

The reason for the fight? Gwanlyo member Cheol Yu has broken one of their strict rules. His engaging with a potential member, who is still human, was out of line, and he is to be tortured. He happens to be extremely powerful, however, and makes it to safety with his head mostly attached.

After, we are introduced to more of the vampires. Hyeri, a wicked and destructive woman who can’t help but laugh over others’ misfortunes and craves destruction, Sey-Mi, an unfortunate high school girl who is pulled into a world she wants nothing to do with, and Dae Lo, a sadistic, evil monster who is all too happy to cause the greatest misery to those who betray the organization. We also get to meet Min Gun, who is not as foreboding as he initially seems.

What unfolds is a plan to take down the Gwanlyo by a vampire who wants nothing more than to destroy humanity, a betrayer on the run, and a young girl who is to decide where her loyalty lies.

The book definitely began with a bang, and I was unapologetically pulled into the gore that would follow throughout the book. Usually, the vampire stories I read are of the more classic variety, but I found that I actually liked this sort of vampire for a change. While they are known to be beautiful and seductive, they’re equally as awful and scary and every bit of what a horror book would entail. It was so different to me, personally, that I didn’t even think about them being vampires while reading. Although the word ‘vampire’ isn’t even used, or if it was, it was easily missed.

One of the few hang-ups I had about the book was during the chapter where Sey-Mi is being introduced to the organization. Her fear was absolutely warranted, although I felt her reaction built into a crescendo and kept going far past it, and she began tearing at her skin in her fear after punching herself. I had a hard time believing a teenager would mutilate herself like that just to see if she was dreaming.

At times the cruel nature of these vampires seemed to be all there was to them. It does change as the story progresses, however, and the characters that seemed flat, like Min Gun, eventually show that there is more depth to them. On the same note, other characters were wonderfully unique and fleshed out. Hyeri was personally my favorite because of how wickedly fun she was, and we get quite a bit of time with her. Min Gun, however, I don’t feel we get to know very well at all, and I can only begin to speculate who he is and how he feels about everything. At the end, it seems he grows attached to Sey-Mi, but we truly don’t get as much time with him like the others.

One specific little detail I found really interesting about the vampires feeding on each other in unison, was the connection created. They shared memories and feelings, and it was a very intimate experience. The same was true for a vampire feeding from a human. They saw memories and took in sensations, which is a really cool ability and added some emotion to the otherwise cold and cruel creatures.

Overall, I had few nitpicks about this novella and I enjoyed reading it, and I am glad I got the chance to review it. Todd Sullivan definitely got me into the atmosphere and the location, which takes place in Korea, which he knows quite a bit about. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who hungers for a different kind of vampire story, although I would warn that it is not for those who are squeamish.

View all my reviews

NaNoWriMo 2019: A difficult win

I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time last year, and I found it to be a very rewarding, exciting, and emotional event. I still have the images I snapped of my progress on the website, and I remember fondly the writing friends I made that seemed to fade off and do their own thing into this year.

NaNoWriMo 2019, however, was not the same experience.

Back in October, the new website was launched and there were multitudes of bugs — many that are still prevailing near the end of November. At first, I was disheartened to see that all of my progress on my Camp NaNo projects were at 0 despite finishing them, and nothing seemed to be operating properly with my stats. That wasn’t a big deal, though. Numbers on trackers are just that and in no way a determination of my successes with writing books, but it does tend to put a damper on your spirit.

I was still excited despite all of that. I planned the project that I ended up changing a week later due to my writer brain steering in another direction all of its own accord, and I found myself energized for writing again, my mood was boosted, and everything was falling into place like it had last year.

And then, I screwed up my stats page. Awfully so. I accidentally deleted all of my word counts and progress on my 2019 project due to being half awake and confused at the new stats page layout. There was no way to retroactively date progress either, so I just input my total word count from that day, and I pushed on. Soon, my stats page was looking pretty nice again despite my mess up.

Some friends didn’t take me seriously. A few even became very rude because I chose to dedicate my time to my project. I was yelled at in my own home, and I was spoken to as if I were boosting myself on a pedestal and considered nothing important but my own pursuits, and that I cast everyone and everything aside because I didn’t consider them important. This was furthest from the truth, merely just a judgment placed on me by some who were angry that I finally set boundaries, but it was difficult to deal with mentally. It’s very hard when you’re trying to accomplish something great — writing an entire book that you hope will help in your future writing career. It’s your work. Yet, for some reason, in my case, I was not allowed to do this work without being chastised, being judged, or generally being met with negativity from a select few.  This was in between other interruptions and important appointments I usually have.

It got lonely as much as it got too busy in my life. I tried in vain to post to Twitter to connect with NaNoWriMo writers, and I posted on social media everywhere to try to gather writer and NaNoWriMo friends so we could cheer each other on. I tried to message a friend on the site as a cheerleader for them, but I received no response. To this day, after finishing my feat of ending my first draft of a new novel at just over 52k words, everything is so silent. I don’t have anyone to celebrate with, but I didn’t have anyone to go through the journey with, either.

NaNoWriMo is for ourselves, as writers, to get better at what we do. It doesn’t matter if we have one, several, or no friends cheering us on. In my case, I write because it makes my life complete and it is the best kind of therapy to keep my head out of dark places. It has also, in my experience, been a lonely feat. Even outside of NaNo, my writer friends I’ve made have all slowly drifted off or stopped responding to my messages, or disappeared altogether.

I don’t know how algorithms work to find support. I don’t even know how to properly human to make friends half the time, but even though I may be doing a lot of lamenting, I am happy I finished my book. Even if I am sitting here just watching Youtube all night until my life resumes once more, I accomplished another feat I can wave my little happy flag at.

After all of November, I am left feeling like I just angered people who I care about or came off as a jerk for setting boundaries — for just wanting to work on and finish writing my book. I struggled through all of the challenges this month while trying to keep my friends happy. By talking to them even though I wanted to write, and finally dropping everything to do things for them when they just didn’t want to listen to me. When I wanted to talk about my book, they faded off or just didn’t really respond to it. Although, I have two friends who listened and even helped a few times, and I am grateful for them.

I’m more exhausted this year than I was the last, and yes, I’m happy I finished, but I’m left feeling as if I irritated people this month for simply wanting to do what makes me happy and is important to me.

NaNo 2018: Great.

NaNo 2019: We’ll just sweep this one under the rug.

NaNo 2020: Let’s hope for the best.

What happened when I stopped following internet extremism and reactionaries

Since I’ve gotten away from a lot of toxic and extremist social media stuff, I’ve started to realize what my own true opinions are — uninfluenced by others — on political and other world things.

I don’t think people realize how much their decisions are influenced by trends and what’s popular to scream about or share. A shocking article title, which is the point of them, when shared widely, starts a scary trend without people actually reading it, or people read others’ opinions first before delving into the article. It colors your own opinion because it’s fresh in your mind, rather you’ll admit to that or not, and in all honesty, we as a species love drama and to be upset over things because anger and upset are powerful emotions to feel. Speaking to psychology on that, anger is addictive. That’s a known fact.

I’m not exempt from feeding into this stuff in the past, either.

This is coming from someone who has both bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder that are, thankfully, better managed as I grow older. Trust me when I say I know all about extreme emotions and sensitivity. Emotions are a nightmare for me, and anger was one that made me feel like I could do anything. Getting rid of extremist social media articles and things has significantly helped me recover.

Often, people’s upsets are a bit misdirected and we end up tearing each other apart instead of listening to reason because ‘the masses say it too!’ Of course, there are certain things we should be upset about and we should signal boost certain people and things to raise awareness, but insulting and putting others down in activism for petty things is not the way to do it. It’s not going to get the other side to listen. That has become new-age activism. Aggression breeding aggression instead of understanding breeding understanding. We insult people for not doing their own research instead of just giving them the damn information we already have.

Guess what? Nine out of ten times when I’ve spoon-fed people information instead of insulting them, they’ve shut the hell up and stopped frothing at the mouth. Those who don’t want to listen to reason aren’t worth my, or your, time. No amount of arguing will change their minds and it just becomes a wasted day resulting in exhaustion.

Because I’ve removed myself from extremism and focused on facts, I feel healthier mentally. I only get my news directly from official sources and I’ve blocked out as much propaganda as I can, including anything that is too emotional in tone concerning current events with my news. Activism is still important and I am an activist in the ways I can be, by having my gender identity as a trans man visible where it can be, voting, and making posts about things publicly to educate or point out a problem with something.

In the end, though, I rely on facts instead of opinions. I look into anything that seems overly emotional and I research for myself so I can spread facts instead of misinformation. When you hear something shocking or a rumor, look into it. Don’t post about it and then look into it.

Be responsible.

Stop spreading hearsay and don’t automatically conform to mass outrage unless you’ve found a legitimate reason for it.


Obligatory internet disclaimer: This is just what I’ve learned from my own experiences. I’m not woke or giving a hot take. I’m just saddened by the state of America and frustrated by the people in it, and I’m too exhausted to be up in arms 24/7 over every tiny little thing. I’ve got more important shit to worry about like writing books, voting when I can to actually make a difference, and keeping my own trans ass safe.

Excerpt from my memoir

I’m currently working on my memoir, one of two, possibly, for NaNoWriMo this year. It isn’t conventional to say the least when it comes to a life story, but it’s mine — well, ours — and it’s the only way I can tell it. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to gloss over certain experiences and things I deal with on a daily basis, mostly because it’s not been well received in the past. I’ve been met with disbelief or brushed off as an overactive imagination, which is the worst feeling not only for me, but for those I share this strange version of reality with. My alters and spirit guides, of which only I can see unless I draw them or agree to a switch, feel the brunt of the sting when they’re dismissed as much as I do.

My memoir isn’t just my story alone, but theirs as well as they live my life with me. This is a moment from it, edited for readability, but ultimately, it’s how it happened in what I call our ‘headspace,’ which is a difficult thing to explain. It not only takes place here in the reality we live in during actual events from my life, but upstairs in the space we share as well, which combines to create what I know and see of this reality. In this case, pertaining to a spirit guide, the lines become much more blurred.


I sat trembling internally in an uncomfortable institutional chair. The waiting room was almost empty save for one other person and the receptionist, and the clock was the only sound besides my own nervous breathing. I had made an appointment to discuss some issues I was having with the manager of my apartment building, but my best option was to just show up where her office was. Any calls would undoubtedly have gone unanswered and any other method to solve the problem was ineffective. I was down to one solution that left me with sweaty palms and quaking bones — heart hammering so loud that I’m sure others would have heard it if they paid any mind. My anxiety was my biggest hindrance in life, but this time, I wouldn’t allow it to get the best of me.

My breath caught in my throat as goosebumps traveled up my arms and a shiver ran up my spine. I felt the presence of something but I couldn’t quite place it, yet instinctively my eyes drifted over to the elevator. When the metal doors opened, I made eye contact with a very familiar figure. “Daro?” The name barely left my lips in a whisper as he smiled, approaching me with as much elegance as he always had before. My cheeks burned. He wasn’t in his usual attire. He wore small, rectangular wire-rimmed glasses with a white button-up shirt tucked neatly into a pair of black dress pants, a black tie, and a shiny pair of black dress shoes. His silver horns were visible, and his eyes shone with a light pink hue that reflected a hint of deviousness. My blood pressure rose for an entirely different reason than my anxiety. “Wow.”

“Yes, this does…” he paused for a moment before huffing and closing his eyes. “Suit me, does it not?”

“Did you just make a pun?”

“Perhaps. I do have a sense of humor from time to time. Humans have worn off on me, it seems.” He ‘tsked’ as he looked around, spotting the door to the offices around back. “Excuse me.”

“Wait!” The urge hit me to grab his sleeve and pull him back, but I realized quickly that it wasn’t possible to do.

“Dear Shane, I have some business to attend to.”

“Business? You’re not actually… now?! But you said—”

“I’d help you set that woman straight. A bit of fear can go a long way, can it not?”

“Well, yeah, but…” Someone cleared their throat loudly and I looked to see the receptionist opening the door to the back rooms where she disappeared. “Please don’t do anything irreparable.”

“I have much more class than that. Now, if you’ll excuse me. I cannot allow this to continue any longer.”

I fell back into my chair more comfortably knowing that Daro was nearby. I felt safe as my anxiety ebbed away, although I looked to the other waiting room guest out of self-consciousness. They seemed to be absorbed in a magazine and hadn’t realized anything was amiss with me. All I had to do then was wait.

* * *

After quite some time, Daro stepped back into the room, pausing to tuck his glasses into his shirt pocket. Oh dear. So the glasses had come off.

He approached me and invited me to stand, then led me to the stairs. “Shall we go for a walk? The weather is lovely and I believe there is an ice cream shop down the alley.”

“You — you want to get ice cream? Do you eat that stuff?”

“I enjoy things comprised mostly of sugar.” He smirked as we descended the stairs. “Although I am anything but sweet myself.”

“Besides that, can I ask you a question?”

“What is it?”

“Are you, um…” My heart skipped a beat. “Are you going to keep wearing that outfit?”

Daro hummed with amusement as we left the building. “If you like.”

As we sat outside with waffle cones, I couldn’t help but admire the beautiful weather. There was a slight breeze and it was in the low seventies, and the sun was out shining brightly. It strained my eyes, but it seemed to cause Daro’s to glisten even brighter. It was almost as if his eyes had a catlike ability to reflect the light.

He paused and stared right back at me, for I had apparently been gazing at him longer than was considered polite. I quickly busied myself with my ice cream and averted my eyes to the metaphysics shop across the way.

His baritone voice interrupted my buzzing mind. “Aren’t you curious?”

“Curious? About what?”

“What I accomplished in the back room with that woman?”

My face burned. “When you say it like that, it sounds kind of messed up.”

“Oh, dear.” He cringed. “Not with her.”

“I’d hope not.” I laughed and focused back on his eyes. “You didn’t hurt her, did you?”

“Of course not.” He tilted his head slightly to the side. “I can tell you one thing about that woman, and it is that she is highly miserable in her life. She does not hide it well. She wears it openly with her lack of care for her own image — it seeps forth from her very skin. I could taste it.”

“Really? I guess it’s kind of obvious.”

“You have more ability to see these things than you think.” Daro’s eyes drifted up to look at the sun, and then back to his ice cream. “It’s melting.”

“Yeah, heat does that.” I smiled as I finished my waffle cone, Daro’s still half-eaten in his hand, the ice cream dripping down his wrist to stain his white button-up. There was something strangely erotic about it that made my blood pressure rise again. He watched me curiously as I tried to hide my red face. As if to taunt me, he lifted his hand to unbutton the cuff around his wrist, rolling the sleeve up and then doing the same to the other. He then lifted his wrist to lick the ice cream dripping down his brown skin. My ears burned as I tried to look away. He knew what he was doing.

“You seem troubled.” The knowing smirk on his face widened. “Is the heat too much for you today?”

“It’s not even hot out. I mean, it’s hot — not what you just did, I mean. Oh god, it’s just the sun is—”

“Shall we carry on? The lakefront may do well to calm your nerves.”

“Yeah, and to get away from this crowd.” I stood up and began to panic. “Not that I want to be alone with you. I mean, we could stay in the crowd. That’s fine too. I’m not dying to go to the lake.”

“Calm yourself.” Daro chuckled before standing and tossing the remainder of his cone. “I enjoy the lake. It’s one of your realm’s most peaceful resting places and I believe you would do well with a bit of quiet.” He brushed past me, I hesitating before following him. “Perhaps a bit of privacy is warranted. I am quite good at calming you down.” His voice lowered impossibly more with the last word and it sent shivers up my spine despite the sun’s rays.

It was times like those that felt like a curse, but it was a wonderful curse.

©2019 Shane Blackheart

STIGMA – book trailer

I don’t have publishing details or anything yet for my book, but I wanted to make something for fun since I love this project so much. It’s extremely close to my heart in many ways, and I wanted to share the excitement in a more creative way than just typing about it.

So, here is a book trailer I spent a few days creating. My editor and I are working on the final touches to the book, and we’re discussing possible publishing avenues. Traditional or Indie is my highest hope! Either way, no matter which type of publishing I pursue, the book will be published as soon as everything is worked out. When that time comes, I’ll be sure to update this video with any relevant information.

Until then, hopefully you enjoy the little trailer I put together and it sparks some interest in you.

Stories in art — if they’re appropriate, that is

I’ve been wondering for a bit now what more I’d like to do with this blog. Posting excerpts of my stories was an initial theme and will still remain, and book reviews were something new but not often enough to keep a regular flow of interesting content. I will also keep doing those, but I felt like there needed to be something more.

Something more personal, maybe?

I reopened my DeviantArt account, and I’ve been posting my art scattered across a few days so far. The writing project that came about because of that wasn’t intended at first, but it has become something I’ve been eager to share. A lot of the subjects in my drawings do appear in my books — major parts in them, including being main character(s) — and it’s another way to get my stories out there and hopefully entertain in a different way. It’s also a way for me to be transparent, so to speak, and give them the life they truly have.

The blog posts will be one picture each with the story/explanations beneath them, and they’ll be linked to their original DeviantArt post. A few will have mild mature themes, but no explicit nudity or anything that couldn’t be viewed by an older teenager. As per DeviantArt’s rules, I’ll just have censored my art where it needs to be.

Which brings me to another topic: Censoring art. What is the purpose of art, then?

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Rather than get into it fully myself, because goodness knows I could write a novella about my feelings about it, what do you think about censoring art as it is now on the internet in 2019? With the fall of Tumblr alienating sex-positive communities and queer people, as well as Facebook banning simple combinations of words in posts or anywhere — creative intent or not — the world has taken strides to send time backward.

I’m not implying we should be posting erotica and nudity and sex in all open areas — free play — but I believe we should be allowed to post our art (drawings, artistic videos, photography, writing, etc.) uncensored online in our personal spaces (sans Facebook, since that really isn’t a platform that’s good for sharing art unless you want it stolen), but with the ability to mark it with a rating to hide from younger eyes. And while sites like DeviantArt do have a mature filter, why are we still instructed to censor our art? Women’s nipples, all genitalia, especially, are an important part of art and viewing ourselves and our horribly conservative way of seeing something we look at every single day. What are we hiding it from? Or are the powers that be just frightened of a bit of base human need that we all feel because… well… we’re animals. But I won’t get into that.

So what do you think? Should art be censored, thereby killing its means of expression and message in this new ‘family-friendly’ trend online that is killing adult creators, or should artists be allowed to just be artists, all the while putting up reasonable barriers, like warning covers that can be clicked away to deter minors, when it comes to mature art?

Digging up old interests

Click above to go on over to my Facebook page to read the entire post. Within are some recommendations for darkly interesting books, a few teasers as to what I’m writing or have planned to write eventually, as well as a fun fact about me I’ve never really mentioned out loud to many.

While you’re there, feel free to like my page and hang around. The page is slowly growing, and I try to keep things writing-related. I’m less formal with my wording on my page as it’s more of a down-to-earth-I’m-human-too-and-not-all-flowery-words type of space. I also share posts there from my author Instagram page when I remember to post on it. I also share posts from here, so it’s kind of an interesting little hub for all of my updates in one place.

Book review: Invasive Species

Invasive SpeciesInvasive Species by Karle Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me just start by saying that this book isn’t for the easily offended or squeamish.

The story is, generally, about a man named Ranse who runs a large farm. He’s sober for the first time in his life, and life seems to be going as usual save for his desire to be back with his ex-wife and his son. He wants nothing more than a second chance from where he screwed up before.

His neighbors consist of two close friends, Molly and Mick, and a man who is nothing short of detestable. A racist, hateful, greedy buffoon to put it lightly — Warren Maxxy. His wife isn’t faithful to him and tends to sleep around, and the men are more than happy to oblige her around town, including those working on Ranse’s ranch.

A sickness begins to spread about, and all any sickness requires to dig its claws into a population is one person. In this case, one bite. Everything spirals down without giving too much of the plot away, and Ranse finds himself having to protect his son, hoping the beasts slowly growing in number don’t come back, and wondering what happened to his ex-wife after she left their son in his hands. And more and more people are getting horribly sick…

This book was wonderfully written, although there were many editing errors throughout it that interrupted my reading flow. This didn’t take away from the story itself, though, which was written so well it kept dragging me back in despite some of the elements that did put me off slightly.

Karle’s storytelling is masterful, in my opinion. I personally love horror, and although this book didn’t read like an atypical horror story, I couldn’t put it down. I read it much quicker than I read most books, and that says something about Karle’s talents. His acknowledgments in the beginning tell of his passion for storytelling and where it came from, and this definitely shines through.

While the story was gripping, intense, and beautifully told, there were a few elements that almost caused me to stop reading, but it’s no fault of the author. There are some extremely sensitive subjects breached in this book, and while I don’t feel anything bad, racist, or taboo was being advocated for, a few of the subjects hit too close to home for me and upset me greatly, and I had to pause reading for a day. If you have been domestically abused or abused in any relationship, or have been a victim of sexual assault or incest, please tread carefully. These subjects are not tip-toed around even if they are just a few brief moments, and they are very blunt.

Another bit of criticism I had about the book is the harsh racist language. I understand that it was attached to the character of Warren Maxxy for a reason, and it had its purpose (he seems to closely resemble a certain political figure), but the number of times he mentions racial and homophobic slurs began to grate on my nerves. I felt the racist elements of this book could have been eased back on just a small bit and still drove the message home. That said, this criticism is based on my personal feelings and my usual tendency to avoid material that uses these words too much, but I felt it was worth mentioning because it was a factor in my rating of the book.

The gore, the unapologetic grossness, and the blunt writing were on point. I actually got very nauseated reading about the number of times people hurled their brains out, but rather than mention that as something negative (it’s merely a part of the story itself), it’s just further testament to the blunt and effective writing style.

And oh my goodness, some of the lines in this book were amazing. Karle has a way of weaving words at times that are quite poetic. The endings to the chapters are great examples of this.

The ending was definitely a long one, but it was very intense. After each paragraph within the last few chapters, as Karle realistically portrays the stages of fear and confusion during something so horrific as having to fend off a legion of werewolves, I was caught up in all of it. When I was certain no more could possibly be done and Ranse was surely finished, it continued. A roller coaster of emotions for the reader, at the least. Not to mention the events near the ending that completely ripped out my heart and stomped on it. It goes without saying that having your town turn into werewolves from a highly contagious virus, sparing no one, is more than enough for the worst of tragedies. There is a nice epilogue to it all, though, that will bring your head above water again.

Overall, this book was hard to put down. At times it was hard to digest the subject matter due to the sensitive nature, and a few of the scenes were enough to leave even my strong constitution turning green, but Karle is an excellent writer who has written a hell of a story to leave a great emotional impact. I’m glad I read it and was given the opportunity to review it, and I will definitely recommend this book to others, although with a small content warning.

I look forward to exploring more from this author.

View all my reviews

Progress and writing advice

As I’m getting closer to being done with my first personal edits on my project, I’m noticing a great change in my writing, as well as the quality. It just goes to show how important criticism is as well as another eye, and I’m very thankful for my editor for being that experienced and fantastic eye. There are just certain things you can’t possibly pick out or see in your own work.

I feel very good about this rewrite. It’s got me thinking about the other books I’ve written and how I can greatly improve them. The biggest thing was taking the writing advice to ‘only write what’s important to the story and be careful of getting too wordy’ and running with it. I was afraid to write TOO much, and my stories were lacking from that. Backstories need to be told, and the reader must have a reason to fall in love with, or hate, your characters in your book. Don’t shy away from showing who they are, either. (I’ll not get into the ‘show versus tell’ argument.)

To summarize what I’ve learned that has helped me grow as a writer:

  • Don’t be afraid to delve into your characters’ backstories.
  • Begin your book in a way that leaves the reader needing to read more. Leave them shocked, excited, or on the edge of an action.
  • To follow up on the above especially, don’t info dump! (Giving the reader a ton of information all at once.) Scatter information, backstories, and world-building throughout your book to pull your reader back into the world.
  • Learn to take criticism. Constructive, preferably. Another set of eyes is so important, and it has to be from a stranger or a friend who will be completely and unabashedly honest with you. They’ll see glaring errors and mistakes, as well as problems with pace, where you won’t.
  • Your first draft is just getting the idea down. It is far from being complete or ready for other eyes. You have to review your own work first, and then send it off to a trusted beta reader(s) or editor or both. You might rewrite the thing once, twice, or however many times it takes to get it perfect, but as perfect as you can get it is the ultimate goal and your future readers will be happier for it.
  • The #WritingCommunity on Twitter is amazing.

There are other things I’ve learned as well, but these are the main things that have helped my stories improve. They might seem obvious at first glance, but when you actually sit down to write, along with keeping your story together in your head, a lot of this stuff tends to be missed by mistake. That’s what editing, numerous drafts, and rewrites are for.

I feel good about my writing today. I’ll probably make even more improvements once my editor gets back to me about my rewrite. The most important thing is that this writing thing is a constant learning process, and writers are always evolving. It’s really an exciting process for me and I love all of it, which a lot of writers will probably call me crazy for. I never really did understand the martyrdom and the love/hate relationship some writers have with their writing.

No matter your feelings on it or your process, the key is to never give up. Keeping on and being persistent gets the cake.