Heart Surgery (original poetry)

I don’t write poetry often, but the other day something kept rattling around in my brain that I had to write out. It started as a feeling and some images in my animation program, but became words as I just put my fingers on the keyboard. So, here is the ‘poem’ I wrote, as well as the video version of it below. (It’s appropriate for all ages)


Heart Surgery

You’re always there.

Your eyes watch me and I feel you; hands not unlike breath on my skin.

I’ve got goosebumps in my soul — I want to sing.

Tears strangle my voice in the stead of a melody — claws grasp my heart with careful fragility.

I trust you.

With careful precision, you force life back into my lungs.

Desire for the veil was never so sweet as your face — the glowing red my sign in the dark.

Passion pulls me away.

My life is no longer mine but yours — your will to fan the flames stoking my soul’s perseverance.

No.

I will not go today.

(Closed captions available if you can’t understand some of the words)

© 2018 Shane Blackheart

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Excerpt from ‘Bittersweet; Love Is War’ – my 2018 NaNoWriMo novel

I won my first year of NaNoWriMo! It feels pretty great, to be honest. I feel like it has been some of the best writing I’ve done in quite some time, and it’s worked wonders to jumpstart my vigor for writing again. Since, I’ve rewritten a short story and doubled its word length from an old favorite in high school, I’ve continued a few other projects — I work on more than one at a time sometimes — and I’ve just generally been extremely creative since my start in November. I’ve hit some major bumps in the road along the way (more like potholes), but I’m happy to say I’ve produced some pretty awesome things.

Here is an excerpt from my 2018 winning NaNoWriMo novel, ‘Bittersweet; Love Is War,’ and it is appropriate for all ages.


As the clock ticked loudly against the walls of the stone room, Byleth stood in the center of it all. The cold metal table beside him chilled his fingers as he drifted claws across its scratched surface, its sheen adding a glow to his already luminescent red eyes. So many times had he looked down at Faye from the doorway as she sat there — a spread out mess of a human hanging back in her chair and watching the smoke drift across the ceiling from her menthol cigarette. Although an immortal being, Byleth still couldn’t stand the smell of the cancerous stuff, and there was definitely plenty of it on a daily basis. He could almost smell its miasma now as the memory of it drifted across time.

He clenched his teeth and ran a hand through his jaw-length, wavy blond hair. ‘I could just imprison her again. Tie her to the chair and take away all of her free will, and I would find a way to make her fear me. That would dispel any kind of affection for me, surely. Then we can both move on.’ It would most likely do the exact opposite, knowing her. She was fearless and mad about him, which was a sick joke in itself. He chuckled. She’d probably get off over being tied to a chair by him anyway.

He was brought away from his reveries by the sound of pages flapping in the wind, and recognized the natural glow that had spread throughout the room. It shrunk to reveal a form that Byleth remembered all too well, and he instantly went on guard. The being was lucky he didn’t react on impulse and tear into its glowing, pale flesh. “What do you want?!”

“Hello, brother!” An angel with short, upswept blond hair smiled kindly at the Fallen, his soft features flawless and beautiful beneath the dim lighting in the room that had returned. “I see you are well, and that you have taken a turn for the better.”

“Voyeuristic, aren’t you?” Byleth scoffed and crossed his arms. “What brings you down here to pester me, Gabriel?”

“I’ve come to offer you a chance. As God’s messenger, I wish to make a proposition with you.” The angel’s blue eyes had a spark to them that caught Byleth off guard, and he realized that something was amiss. This angel had a different kind of aura than the one he knew all too well, although it most definitely seemed to be Gabriel.

He lowered his eyes in suspicion and decided to play along. “Oh yeah? What kind of proposition does daddy dearest possibly have to offer? Is he finally kissing my ass to get something out of me?”

“Language, Byleth!” Gabriel wiggled a finger in the air with silent judgment. “It is something great — something you have been desiring for a long time, I am sure. There is something in Heaven you wish to reclaim, isn’t there?”

Byleth’s eyes grew wide and his breath came short. He’d spent the better part of his time as a Fallen plotting ways to get back into Heaven to reclaim his throne. Most often, it had been a violent fantasy that involved much force and a taking over of Heaven, but he knew it was an impossible and foolish thing to try. God was too powerful for anything in the entirety of time, even for Satan’s seven-headed dragon with his legion of demons to conquer, but if he could get back onto his throne and allow them all to think that he had been redeemed, he stood an honest chance of at least enacting revenge on a grand scale.

He snapped back to reality as Gabriel’s expression changed to become something darker. The angel’s eyes shone a pale gray for a millisecond, which a Fallen would not have missed. Although he knew no being immediately with eyes like that, the underlying darkness made everything quite obvious. There was corruption on the other side of the charade. “Who are you? Show yourself!”

The being laughed darkly and the form blurred and shifted as if it were warped, and came clear once more as Byleth’s suspicions were confirmed. The being that stood before him then, however, hadn’t been expected. It was one of the few times he had honestly been at a nervous unease. The name he was finally able to mutter was as quiet as it was dangerous. “Azazel.”

 

©2018 Shane Blackheart

NaNoWriMo; November 2018!

Another absence on this blog, and another reason. Although, it’s an amazing reason this time (I promise)!

I’ve made the decision to do NaNoWriMo this year. If you aren’t aware of what that is, in short, it’s a challenge to write an entire 50,000 word — or more — novel in 30 days. On the more descriptive end of things, NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization that raises money for all kinds of good causes related to writing. One, in particular, is to fund kits to send to schools that need them and to encourage younger writers. Besides that, it is an event every year in November that has been going since 1999, and millions of writers join in on the chaos every year. This year is my first.

The idea is to start with a brand new manuscript; a clean slate. You may also begin with an outline, or a part of an outline and nothing else to go on other than your imagination. Either way, after you’ve created your own profile and filled in your novel’s basic details, you’re ready to begin.

Every day, ideally, you’ll log your word count in one of two ways. There are stats you can watch to see where you are at compared to the average person, and you can also see a projected completion date determined by your average daily word count, and how many words you have left to write to complete the 50k dash (or more!). Below are my latest stats, taken as of today.

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You write your novel outside of the website, and as you log your word count and interact with the site, as well as donate if you so choose, you will earn badges. There are also badges you can choose to give yourself based on an honor system, as they are achievements that can’t actually be measured in any way. For example, I gave myself the ‘Something in my eye’ badge for wringing my heart out over a few scenes or more. Sometimes writing really can be an emotional roller coaster, but that makes for some of the best writing out there.

From November 20th onward, you can claim your win by pasting the entirety of your first draft in their official word counter. They also give you the option to scramble your words if you wish, although no one is actually going to read your novel. Nothing gets uploaded to the website and your words are deleted as soon as they are counted. Once that process is complete, I imagine you’ll feel pretty good about yourself for your successes.

There are prizes, but there are no limits to winners, so be honest! They are small things like coupons to writing programs and online courses, and other little things that really aren’t a huge deal, but a help to writers to keep them going strong long after they’ve finished their NaNoWriMo novel. Personally, the feeling of accomplishment from completing an entire first draft of a novel in a month is the biggest win of being a participant. Even if you don’t complete your novel, you’ve still accomplished something great, and you still have words there that you didn’t have before. It’s even more incentive to keep going for yourself, and for the story you have to tell.

I’m well into 27k words on the eighth day, which isn’t something I thought I would be capable of. I passed NaNoWriMo by for a few years after hearing about it, mostly because I didn’t think I could do it. I sold myself short due to my own insecurities, and I was doing the very thing some people in my life have done to me in the past — I was putting myself down because of a lack of faith in myself. I believed my anxiety disorder and other mental illnesses left me unable to do much of anything, and I was destined to fail. I would become too stressed and spiral down into a mess of a human being.

Yet, it’s November 8th and I have come a long way from that mindset. On the first, I’d sat in front of my computer mulling it over. A friend from a Facebook writing group brought it to my attention again, claiming that she was doing it herself. She needed a writing buddy. I’d told her I wasn’t participating before, but on a whim, I signed up for the site and I locked myself in. I haven’t looked back.

It’s like something lit a fire under me (usually, that’s Byleth, but this time I did it myself. He and Lestan have been the best cheerleaders). Having a deadline with the goal of having fun and just letting loose on the page, not caring about editing as I went like I usually did, was freeing. The goal was to just go until it was time to stop, as editing during NaNoWriMo is heavily discouraged. All of that would come in the months to pass after ‘winning’, and the site also has a section for just that. My goal is to be able to open up that part of the site after my victory.

At 27k in after only the first week, I am certain I can ‘win’. I can safely say that if you go into this as a lover of words, stories, and a passion for the art of writing, you’ll win too. Just keep at it and don’t worry about the numbers while you’re writing. Focus on the amazing story you have to tell, and the rest will come in time.

The best of luck to anyone who is participating this year. I hope to be able to make another blog entry when I’ve finally reached the ultimate goal.

The End of an Era

I can’t believe it’s over tomorrow.

After starting Plotagon in February of 2015, all of my accomplishments there will be gone. I was a moderator of the site and continue to be a beta tester for the program, and I made many tutorials on how to use it, how to write better stories and characters with it, and I generally tried my best to be supportive of others and, within the last month or so, have tried my best to do my part in keeping the community together and inspired along with others. Sadly, my Choose Your Own Adventure series with the community had to end. I’d started it to get the community involved in a series where they told the story and not me, which was a huge last bit of inspiration.

I’ll admit, this really hit at a time when I already had a lot going on in my life that hasn’t been good, so this loss is something I haven’t really been handling well. I can paste on a smile and try to have a bright outlook for the future, but with what I know and have experienced, it’s hard. I feel like everything I’ve accomplished there – my followers, my staff picks, my featured status – will mean nothing now as it will be erased from the internet, save for the wonderful blog entries about us that the Plotagon Team put together. Now, all I have is my Youtube channel that is mostly quiet, this blog that is unknown and nothing to the internet, and a Facebook page that is equally as quiet.

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I feel I won’t ever get the audience I had on Plotagon, or that kind of engagement and encouragement, again.

My Youtube channel was never meant for younger eyes, so Plotagon has, unfortunately, attracted a lot of kids to subscribe to my channel now where I had meant to keep the two separate, as my Plotagon profile was the sole source to find my plots (what the community calls videos made with Plotagon). This has put me in a very awkward situation since I don’t have the energy to maintain two channels, and people who subbed to me before this didn’t care for the Plotagon films I made. Maybe this will change in the near future, although Youtube doesn’t like duplicate uploads so this is unlikely.

It just hurts. The place that made the creator in me come so far, and made me who I am today, is gone. It gave me the confidence to speak to a large group of people in voice and then on camera, and I found my love and talent for voice acting. It helped me finish stories where I otherwise couldn’t. I spent a month back in 2016 between illnesses writing, voice recording, and editing an entire film that was a little over an hour long.

It helped me progress to even better quality in my video editing by giving me new challenges there. Most importantly though, I met so many cool people that I otherwise wouldn’t have. I hope we all stick together. I at least want to be able to keep my Plotagon friends around so we can continue to support each other no matter where our creativity takes us.

You guys are super important. Thank you for giving me a chance. Muriel, Maxfield, Klas, Maria, Quincy, Helen, Anthony, Arnaud, Martin, Rebecca, Kat, Lukesters, Lance, Georgia, John, Jon, Gary, Reid, Stephen, Doodius, and anyone else from Plotagon who I may have missed, as well as anyone who has ever supported me on the platform, including all of my followers. The community may be over, but the program still exists and I hope we all keep creating with the software and sharing as before. We might be scattered across the internet now, but we’ll find ways to stay together.

Stay inspired.

Anywhere But Here [M]

RatingMature (vague and tasteful, but descriptive, love scene)

SummaryThis is based on an actual bit of headspace time I spent with one of my demon guides, Daro. When it’s hard for me to see reason after experiencing a traumatic event, I can always count on one of my guides to take me away from it all for just a small time. This was very strange for Daro, however. He is not one to be sexual in any sense of the word except on rare occasions. It seemed this was one of them.


I laid my head on the table over the soft blanket, my heart sinking slowly as all life seemed to leave me. I wasn’t dying in reality, but I felt as if my future was already dead. I didn’t know where to go in life since my dreams had ended before they could even begin, my life’s goal no longer within any sort of possible reach. I was a slave to my mental disabilities and my poor health, as well as the system that enjoyed all too much keeping the lesser-abled down where they belonged.

“Shane.” A deep voice broke over my lamenting and a tan, clawed hand crept onto my upper back. It hesitated before moving in a soothing motion, my muscles easing from the tension that had formed long ago. I smiled.

“Daro.” I glanced over to see a tall, golden-skinned demon with long black hair and silver horns staring down at me, his pale pink eyes piercing straight through my soul as they always did. Byleth was present as well, but he moved aside to let Daro gain control over my reality for a little while. Even he knew when he and Lestan’s kind of reasoning wouldn’t pull me back.

“I… am not good with comfort. I apologize for that. I do, however, believe that you may do whatever you wish. You have accomplished everything you’ve set out to do in life, Shane. That does not end here.”

“I feel like it’s the end. I feel like my future is blank because the only thing I’d ever wanted to do – the only plan I’d had for my life is now no longer there.” I felt emotion welling up within me and tears burned behind my eyes. “It’s so stupid. At least, it probably sounds stupid. Who gets this emotional over wanting to tell stories, or to be heard?”

“It is as good a reason as any.” Daro smiled down at me, his hand moving slowly over my back. I then felt it – a wave of energy that made my stomach flutter. That wasn’t a usual reaction to his presence. I then remembered the last time I’d started making changes to my body for my transition, and Daro had developed the same sort of energy then. I felt self-conscious at that moment as I noticed the dark and aggressive energy coming from him.

“You aren’t normally like this, Daro.”

“No, but your energy is quite contagious and strong at this time. You are early in your transition.” His hand’s movements turned to something more sensual, his fingers sliding over my still very tense muscles as if they were tempting me. I wanted him to take me away from here.

“I don’t want to be here.” I sighed as another rush made my stomach spin. “Take me somewhere else. Please.”

“If it is not for self-destructive reasons, then where would you like to be?”

“Anywhere but here. I don’t want to even be alive right now.”

Daro closed his eyes and chuckled quietly as I closed mine in like. The soft blanket against my face brought me comfort as I sank into it and the feeling of the large hand on my back that was rubbing in circles. I started to drift off until I saw nothing but the blankness that was already present in my mind.

*** 

When I opened my eyes, I was lying on a stone floor. There were thick blankets beneath me and pillows everywhere, and I could feel a faint breeze coming through the natural windows in the stone walls around me. A few pillars surrounded the room and vases of lotus flowers and leaves were scattered about. The sun was setting and gave an orange glow to the already flickering candles around the blankets on the floor, and I realized then that we were most definitely not anywhere in current space or time.

My attention was brought back to where I lied as the blankets shuffled around me. Daro’s athletic form crawled over me and I watched as his sleeveless black trench disappeared, leaving him in the black silk harem-type pants he usually wore. My heart was in my throat as I realized it was all that he was wearing. “This is so weird. You’re not usually this kind of a… romantic?”

He smiled before I was surrounded by black hair and left breathless with a kiss, his lips full and soft as they teased mine open. I grabbed onto his toned arms and wrapped my fingers around his tribal band mark, squeezing as if I were uncertain of his presence. I didn’t want him to let me go. He chuckled against my mouth before releasing me and throwing some of his long hair behind his back.

“You may find that I can be romantic when the mood calls for it.” I gasped as his claws tickled up my shirt and back down to my shorts where he tugged at the hem. “Your energy has been quite contagious. I can no longer contain myself.”

“I’m sorry. Is it hard to deal with? I know you aren’t really that sexual.”

“Not at all.” Daro nipped at my jaw before trailing kisses to my neck, and then left his mark there as if to claim me as his own. I lost the ability to breathe as he slid my shorts down and his fingers slipped between my legs. Despite the bliss that I was in, this was all strange to me. Daro had rarely, if ever, displayed such eroticism before. It consumed my mind until he sunk low, tossing my shorts to the side before diving between my legs to make me swoon. My hands shot down to run through his hair and my back arched, my mind growing fuzzy and forgetting all of my worries. It hit me then just how much I wanted him.

He trailed his lips back up my stomach and came up to kiss me again. It was like a game as our lips teased, nipped, and ghosted over the other’s. Embarrassment burned up into my ears as I realized how heavily I was breathing, but nothing could make the excitement calm within me that he’d created. It was an entirely new side of him that I never knew I needed to see, but it was one I wanted to see more often. It was caring, gentle, playful, and loving. Everything he had created there – the flowers, the fantasy-like setting, and the atmosphere – it was all for the sake of this moment.

I was jolted back once again as he nipped my neck more aggressively than the last time, his teeth leaving little bites down to my abdomen and down my thigh. He paused as he was lifting my leg, sitting back on his knees to glance at me from beside my raised knee. “Forgive me. I am feeling rather aggressive. I am not entirely comfortable with such an aggressive emotion.”

“Is it a bad thing? You’re not going to hurt me, are you?”

“Hurt you?” He chuckled. “Never hurt you, Shane. Although, I suspect you enjoy this kind of aggression.” He accentuated his words by nipping my leg once more and then paused to remove his pants. I looked away, not sure of the exact reason for doing so. We hadn’t been intimate many times in the past, and I was always aware of how much I wanted that kind of thing from him throughout the years. His beauty never escaped me; it was exotic and mysterious and it held a certain kind of danger to it, but nothing that was a threat to me.

He’d always held an air of dark mystery about him. Being purposefully vague, never answering my questions fully, and remaining stoic, calm, and collected during even the worst crises. I never feared him, but I always desired him. It was something I’d brushed to the side often due to his mostly asexual nature, his willingness to humor Byleth due to the Fallen Angel’s insistence more than anything. It wasn’t even that Daro didn’t enjoy it when it happened either. He would always become claimed by the passion of the moment sooner or later. I often wondered if he hid more than he had to at times like those.

“Daro, why aren’t you a sexual person?”

“Because I am not a person.” A playfulness glistened in his eyes as he came back to kiss me again, teasing entrance between my legs. “I am much more than that, although I am not immune to stronger emotions such as this. Even I have moments where I cannot remain as calm as I’d like to be.”

“But what do you feel you have to hide?” Despite my breathlessness, I had to know. I knew I wouldn’t get another chance to have him so vulnerable. I was rendered speechless with a more insistent nudge.

“It seems…” A quiet moan interrupted his speech as he slid fully inside. He remained still as he supported himself on his hands beside my head, his eyes closed as if to control himself. “… It seems I cannot always control myself around you.”

“Wait…” I gasped as he thrust forward. “Daro…”

“There are things I must never admit, although Byleth has done such a thing.” A clawed hand turned my head to the side so Daro could tease my ear, whispering as he rocked his body into mine. “I care for you in ways I should not.” His words quivered as he began to lose control, his breath hot in my ear as he lost himself to the sensations between us. I wrapped my legs around his waist and gave myself over to him fully then, my body sliding back against the blankets on the stone floor. I noticed that it had grown darker and the candles were our only source of light.

I mumbled his name over and over again as he returned to my neck, our bodies still rocking against the blankets as he nibbled at the bruised skin. I was completely consumed with my lust for him and my mind felt far away as the end approached quickly, my body arching into him as my release overcame me. He grew much more rough with his movements then, goosebumps forming on his arms beneath my fingers as he lost the last bit of control he’d managed to keep.

I watched as he rose up onto his knees and grabbed my legs, lifting them as he quickened his movements. The pleasure was so intense that tears rolled down the sides of my face, and I felt light-headed from the distant buzz and my lack of ability to breathe. It had to be a dream.

I was reminded of the reality of the moment as he thrust deep one last time before shuddering, his claws gripping at my legs like a vice. I bit my lip and hummed with pleasure through all of it, my insides filling with him. He fell onto his hands beside my head, struggling with his control as he moaned through his release, his body rocking and riding the wave until he started to calm. It was then that everything grew eerily silent.

A faint buzzing throughout my body caused a distant ringing in my ears. Our labored breathing seemed to echo around us as we both came down, and the candlelight flickered in the still-present summer breeze. I was the first to finally come around and I ran my hands through his hair, coaxing him into a kiss that he accepted fully. When we parted, I saw in his eyes a feeling of utter exhaustion, his natural glow from them dimming in the dark. It worried me. “Hey, are you okay?”

He huffed a laugh before closing his eyes to hide them from me. “I will be fine. You need not worry.”

“What in the hell’s possessed you? You aren’t acting like yourself at all.” I grew even more concerned as he sat up and pulled me with him, hugging me tightly.

“One of the stronger emotions I often try to bury.” He rested his chin on the top of my head as I relaxed into him, my bones melting into his embrace. “But that is not important. What is most important here, is that you realize your worth to continue with your life. I would not see it any other way.”

“You’re avoiding the subject.” I couldn’t help the smile that spread across my face. He sighed before releasing me just enough to look into my eyes, and took my jaw into his hand and lifted it to guide me into a kiss, one that I knew was meant solely for a distraction. All too often I couldn’t get him to speak clearly to me, but I was determined to do it this time. I released him from the kiss and mused at the look of concern on his face. “Daro, what emotion are you burying?”

“Shane.” He sighed again, his unease growing.”There are things I must not speak. Not yet.”

“Well, what can you say? I mean, there has to be some vague way you can express it that I might get without you having to say it outright.”

He watched me for a moment in silence, the breeze coming through the windows causing strands of his hair to drift across his face. I smoothed them aside as he seemed to finally come to a conclusion in his mind, and spoke carefully. “There are certain words and feelings a demon must never admit or express – a demon prince is held in much higher regard. Byleth is free from the rules and unspoken laws we set for ourselves. It is why he is free to express himself as he so wishes, as he is a Fallen and not a demon.” Daro ran a clawed thumb across my lower lip in which I bit at playfully. He smiled. “I care for you, Shane, more than you may ever know.”

“I guess that’s good enough for me.” I laughed. “Man, we’ve come a long way. It’s taken you longer than everyone to come out of your shell, and even then you only lose control for a moment before you return to your stoic self.” I hugged him tightly again, my head resting on his chest. He smelled like myrrh. “It’s not my intent to undo you or who you are. You’re just the biggest mystery life has brought me and I want to figure it out. Not only that…” I looked up at him again, trying not to blush. “You’re hot as hell.”

Daro leaned back on his hand while the other still rested around my waist, a genuine laugh consuming him that was quite rare. I’d never seen him laugh like that for as long as I’d known him.

***

I opened my eyes and I was once again lying face down on the rainbow blanket, Byleth and Lestan’s presence returning. There was no longer a breeze and the dim lighting of my apartment came back into focus, and Daro was kneeling beside me on one knee. He opened his eyes to search me, making sure I was alright before standing and returning to his usual self. Despite everything that had happened just then, there was no sign of him losing his composure. I knew the truth though, and I’d seen a side of him that I suspected none ever had. It was all I could do to keep from grabbing him by the waist and hugging him from where I sat, to which I gave into easily. Byleth’s hum of amusement reached my ears as I clung to Daro tightly.

“Thank you.”

~ ©2018 Shane Blackheart

10/7/2018 9:06PM: Tonight’s Adventures (A conversation)

Sometimes I write out conversations between me and my alters/guides. It’s an interesting way to keep a journal, anyway. I definitely want to post more of these, but they are usually riddled with foul language because Byleth doesn’t really care about what he says. With that warning, this is what we were up to tonight. This was between me, Byleth, and Lestan.

***

“Sugar, you’re drinking and you shouldn’t be.” Byleth paced around my desk and computer chair, keeping an eye on me as my leg kept up with its nervous jitter, bouncing as if I were ready to run a marathon. I scoffed.

“I’m not drunk though. I’m still able to type.” Despite that, I did feel rather woozy.

“Rather woozy?” Byleth rolled his eyes. “You’re supposed to be picking up a pizza in fifteen minutes and you’re,” he lifted his claws in quotation, “‘woozy’.”

“Hey, it burned going down so it’s going to get me a bit messed up. Well, not messed up entirely, but numb enough to not care that my dreams are basically going to be flushed down the toilet.”

“Stop it.” Byleth latched his claws onto the back of my chair that was still vibrating with my leg’s nervous jitter. It seemed my excess energy was on a… roll? Is that even a thing? “No,” he interrupted. “It isn’t a thing. Lestan and I are walking with you when you leave. You shouldn’t have even drunk straight from the bottle.”

“He’ll be okay.” Lestan crossed his ankle over his knee and leaned back on the couch. He seemed bothered, his expression darker than what his voice suggested. “The bottle will be gone soon enough and then we won’t have to worry…”

“Soon enough?! Are you expecting – and enabling – him to drink it until it’s gone to get rid of it faster? What the fuck, Lestan?”

“That’s not what I was getting at and you know it.” Lestan grew slightly irritated. “I just mean that Shane won’t buy anymore after this one, right, love?”

“Right. That’s my plan anyway.” I was beginning to feel warm. The liquor had definitely kicked in. I also realized that it wasn’t such a good idea to drink directly from the bottle. It really did burn like hell going down.

“Because you’re not used to it.” Byleth left my chair and fell into the wooden one at the L part of my desk. He crossed his arms and watched me, his expression mostly blank, although I could see some sort of sympathy behind his red eyes. He snorted a laugh.

“Look at you getting all flowery with your words and assuming you can ‘see what’s behind my eyes’ or some shit.” He closed his eyes and looked to the side, but soon after returned his gaze to me from the corner of his eye. “Yeah, I do care about you, you know. If I haven’t made that fucking clear enough already.” I stopped to rub my forehead, but was brought back to the page. “Hey, don’t you stop writing. It’s been a while since we’ve talked and I won’t let you lose your mind and forget about this conversation too.”

“Wait.” I sighed. “We talk all the time. I just don’t always write it down.”

We write it down, sugar. You should’ve caught onto that by now.”

“Well, yes?” I guess I’d missed that part somewhere along the way when the small bouts of dissociation would happen. Lestan chuckled from where he sat on the futon sofa.

“Baby, it’s okay. It took you years to come to terms with who we are to you. I can understand a bit of confusion here.” He stood and came to stand behind me, ruffling my hair lovingly. Byleth lifted an eyebrow and sighed.

Cornyyyy.”

“Hey, Shane’s allowed to be silly when he’s drunk and forget a few things.”

“I’m not drunk!” I flashed a stubborn expression before I focused on the screen again. Or… was it really me focusing? I felt slightly spaced, but my phone’s alarm brought me back to reality. Byleth stood and Lestan backed away to approach the door. Byleth was the first to speak.

“It’s time to grab that pizza, sweetie. Let’s hope the guys at the counter don’t catch on to your slight inebriation.”

***

As we walked back through the front door, I set the pizza aside and pulled off my binder, threw on my shirt I’d been wearing before, and took another quick swig from the bottle of Malibu banana rum. Byleth was less than pleased, but started chuckling as he set eyes on the computer screen. I’d started to type but backtracked. “Shane, you should have kept it as a ‘tit corset’.”

“Nah. It was too ridiculous.”

“It is a tit corset. One you won’t have to worry about much longer if everything goes right.”

“Yeah… I hope.” I turned on Byleth’s playlist on the big screen through the PlayStation and settled in to eat some pizza. Like I needed to clog my arteries any more than they already were. He reclaimed his chair at the L in my desk and leaned his head in his hand. He seemed perturbed.

“Which I am,” he confirmed. I knew he was because I’d taken another swig from the bottle like he encouraged me to do the exact opposite of, and I was feeling pretty good to not really care. That brought a scowl forth from the Fallen Angel and he sighed.

“I’m just going to focus on my music and singing, and pretend like you’re not disobeying everything that I’ve asked of you tonight.”

“Hey, we had mind-blowing sex earlier, so don’t give me a hard time.” I flashed him a comical judgemental look, to which he lightened up and returned to a more positive mood.

“Oh, we did. [Redacted].” I shrugged in response, stuffing my face with pizza. Attractive.

“You’re a Fallen Angel. You have magic spit. We’ve been over this.” He broke into laughter at the ‘magic spit’ bit.

“Let’s just hope your body is done being difficult with sex.” He smirked. “[Redacted].”

“Like I said. Fallen Angel. Magic spit.” Lestan chuckled from where he sat on the futon sofa, his expression calm and at ease as he watched the images on the TV. ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’ by Billy Paul was currently flowing from the speakers, Byleth’s corny but groovy taste in music flooding the apartment.

“Hey. Corny? Bullshit. It’s classic seducing music, sugar. At one time in history, this was the sexiest song on the radio.”

“One of them, maybe. There’s a sweet romantic vibe to it now.” I smiled, a warm and fuzzy feeling consuming me. “Awww, Byleth, you’re such a romantic!” He laughed humorlessly and seemed to clam up with embarrassment.

“No, fuck the embarrassment part of that line.” He jabbed his claw in my direction. There was definitely a slight blush in his cheeks. “No, no there isn’t! Stop. I like the classics because they make me want to fuck something, okay? No romance involved there.”

“But,” I teased, “you are a romantic whether you admit it or not. You call me sweetie.”

“That is true,” Lestan chimed in from the futon. He slipped out of his leather jacket that he’d still been wearing. “Byleth, you aren’t fooling anyone. You’re very romantic. I saw the way you kissed Shane earlier.” He flashed Byleth a teasingly flirtatious expression. The Fallen Angel was becoming flustered.

“Seriously, if you both don’t quit I’m just going to take my music in the other room and say fuck all of you.” No irritation was in his voice, however. A small smile was playing on his lips and there was a glint in his red eyes. His mood had improved despite the teasing banter and he relaxed into his chair, falling into the lyrics of the next song that had started to play; ‘Little Wing’ by Jimi Hendrix.

A silence fell then, I eating my pizza and Lestan relaxing in the background, watching Byleth as he sang to the song that it was switched to – ‘You Don’t Own Me’ covered by Masquer. The song was appropriate for a brat king such as Byleth.

“Damn right it is, sugar. Don’t tell me what to do…. Don’t tell me what to say…” Despite Byleth being a Fallen, he definitely still had the voice of an angel. “I was an angel. The beauty of my voice or my devilishly good looks didn’t disappear because I fell.”

“Mr. Vain King.” Lestan stood from the futon and approached Byleth, who turned in his seat to welcome the vampire. Lestan straddled his thighs while standing over him, teasing the Fallen Angel’s golden horns. Byleth bit his lip.

“Would you have me any other way? And you keep talking like that, mister. Call me King a few more times and I’ll make sure you won’t be able to speak… In the best way, of course.”

“Reduce me to a mumbling mess, my King?” Lestan chuckled as Byleth hummed, the vampire’s hands sliding through the Fallen’s jaw-length blonde hair. Hands crept back up onto Byleth’s horns and he huffed a laugh.

“What are you trying to do? Get me so worked up I can’t sing? Make a distraction for Shane over there?”

“Maybe.” Lestan grinned and caressed one of Byleth’s horns before the Fallen wrapped an arm around the vampire’s torso and pulled him into his lap.

“Alright, vampire. You’ve got a deal.”

“We didn’t make a bet.”

“As long as Shane doesn’t drink any more rum tonight, I’ll do whatever you want.” Byleth trailed a claw down Lestan’s front, causing the vampire to sigh. “Anything, sugar.”

“Wait, why is this on me?” I pouted, still buzzed, although I suspected more than that. “Do what you want.”

“Oh no, sweetie. That’s the breaks.” I sighed in response to Byleth’s ridiculous stipulations. He cocked an eyebrow at that line. “Stop drinking and you get to see wonderful things.”

“Sorry, baby. I have to go with Byleth on this one.” Lestan ghosted his lips over the Fallen’s as he turned Byleth to face him once more. “I’m not passing up the opportunity to have control over the brat king.”

“Whatever.” I sighed hopelessly and chuckled. “I won’t drink anymore, but don’t go overboard. I want to be able to eat my pizza.” Byleth hummed his approval and gave his full attention to Lestan then, their lips meeting in a deep and much-needed kiss. I returned to my pizza, finally deciding to let the alcohol wear off.

(For the record, Byleth’s taste in music IS corny, but amazing.)

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A positive absence, for once!

When I am absent, it’s usually due to a multitude of emotions destroying me from the inside out. I can’t manage more than the videos I barely take in on my favorite Youtube channels, and my creative drive has taken a vacation abroad for an indeterminable amount of time. Things have been different this time around, though.

My mind has been more stable since trying the injectable form of testosterone over the gel to get my transition going again. It had been hell during my first try with the injections, and since I’ve covered all of that elsewhere on this blog, I won’t get into it here. Long story short, it seems like a different mixture is what was needed. My mood swings, while still there in the background, have dimmed significantly. I didn’t expect this to cure my bipolar episodes or the interpersonal problems I have with my borderline personality disorder, but it has been much easier to calm myself as well as stand up for myself when I need to. I’ve had this fire within me that refuses to let me take shit from anyone. This isn’t a bad thing for someone like me, who was more likely to sit by silently while verbal abuse or any other kind of bad thing would happen. To be able to speak up when I need to has been a great change for me.

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Along with all of this, I’ve pulled my creativity back from its extended vacation. My writing is important to me again and I’ve made it my job, or at least, I’m treating it like one until I can officially call it that. I’ve become more involved in writing communities online and am getting braver about asking for critiques, and I am learning to give them. I have learned so much within the last week about publishing, editing, and I’ve gotten great advice from editors and published authors alike on how to navigate all of this. It was something I desperately needed, but I couldn’t possibly accomplish it while I remained in my little bubble of self-hatred.

Yesterday, I finished editing and looking over the fifth draft of a novella. I had finished writing it during the summer of 2015 during a manic episode while I was homeless, and it was the first book I’d written that I saw to completion. Although it was riddled with poor grammar and my sentence structure was just as poor at best, I was proud of it. Over the past few days, I went and I fixed the earlier chapters that had been started years ago. It was something I began and left to sit, unable to finish like I’d done with so many. I fixed the wording, added new things and explained others, and poured more emotion into the original draft than was originally there. After all of this and splitting it into chapters, I feel like I have a second book ready to send out.

I’m in contact with an editor or two, one of which I am certain I want to do the job for my longer book that I’d like to publish first. Hopefully I can build up a working relationship with them for my future projects. Having that thought alone makes my nerves jump in all of the best ways.

I’m no stranger to anxiety. I’ve seen it in its worst form and it’s left me sickly and bedridden. (I wrote about that here: From My Memoir – Two Years that Changed the Rest of My Life and I recorded it with Byleth and the others here.) To finally understand that there is good anxiety and be able to feel it is freeing for me. It feels the same in all of the physical sensations, but there is a different emotion attached. It’s not fear, but anticipation.

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If you want something bad enough, it will happen. I’ve been wanting the title ‘author’ officially for many years. I can only hope that my want and need for this is bad enough to make it all happen.

From my Memoir: A Night with Mary

An excerpt from my memoir, in which I relive a memory of one of my very first experiences with friendship, a birthday party, and trauma incited by an urban legend.

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My anxiety disorder formed into what it would be for the many coming years of my life. I still wet the bed well into my fourth-grade year, although I would always be reprimanded for it. I was punished whenever it would happen, my fear of the alarm clock in the middle of the night not enough to keep me from wetting myself. That horrific sound of metal striking metal as the sharp ringing of the purple clock would wake me from a deep sleep, often causing me to panic and slip beneath my bed sheets as I looked out into the darkness of my room. I feared the dark more than anything, and at times I would fear the silliest of things. I think I remember having a sleep hallucination of Jesus once that caused me to panic as the desire for it to go away gripped at my heart. It seemed that even as I child I found no comfort in Christian images or the idea of it. Regardless, I would climb out of bed once my bravery was there, no matter how small, and crept to the bathroom. The next morning my bedclothes would be wet, and I would be chastised and punished.

My pediatrician, Dr. Suk Kang, was a shining light in my life and also the reason for my parents having finally understood why my bedwetting wouldn’t cease. Not only was he one of the best doctors around, he was kind and very invested in my healthcare. Every time I visited him he would give me a quick kiss on my forehead or cheek and smile widely, happy to see me doing well. His accent was strong and he spoke broken English, but he spoke it well and was also a friend to my parents. He absolutely adored Disney and we often brought him posters and memorabilia back from Disney World, or any time we saw something relating to Disney for him. He always put them up in his office, and his place of practice was a Disney Wonderland in itself. Everything from the wallpaper to the decor was Disney centric. I always loved seeing him even if I was afraid of the doctor’s office in general.

He informed my parents that my late bedwetting was no fault of my own, but due to my body’s lack of producing a hormone to be able to hold it while asleep. I developed this eventually, of course, but it was a constant strain on me and my parent’s relationship, as well as me and my friends. I could not spend the night with others unless I had Pull-Ups with me to my own embarrassment, or friends would have to sleep on the floor instead of in my bed with me. I often got made fun of for this in school, and I remember having to wear Pull-Ups even during the day while I was there. The bullying started very early for me and caused a fear in me that led to agoraphobia, which is a fear of public places or certain places in general. I was afraid of everything and everyone.

This became worse and worse over the following few years. The other kids who I had thought were my friends turned out to be humoring me and nothing more. I had maybe one or two true friends in elementary school who I cherished and who did not use me as the butt of a joke as the others often did. I was pushed, physically assaulted on the playground, laughed at, mocked, and any secret I dared to trust my first best friend with, or who I called my best friend, became public knowledge and another teasing point for the other kids. A birthday party and sleepover at this best friend’s house ended up being one of the few childhood memories I have that is so vivid. We were still only in elementary school.

The girls and I were standing around in my friend’s room. There were two twin-sized beds there, one for my friend and the other for her older sister. There was a dresser to the side by the door and a large mirror over it. The room was of average size, but the memory of the small details are hazy now. I just remember spending a lot of time there and a lot of my childhood memories of any semblance of friendship formed there as well, but as we all stood there and faced the large mirror, a new memory was forming that wasn’t so pleasant. The girls were attempting to invoke Bloody Mary.

As most people know, the legend of Bloody Mary is an infamous one that is often brought up during parties. Back then it was popular due to the success of Alvin Schwartz’s ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ series, illustrated with ghoulish amalgamations by the talented Stephen Gammell. The urban legends within the series of three books were not softened for children at all, except to be worded in a way that would be easier to understand. This led to the book going through a short time of contention with school librarians, and for a time it was almost banned from public school libraries. The gruesome nature of the stories remained the same and survived the legal struggles, and the Bloody Mary legend could be found within their pages.

I don’t believe I’d read about the legend yet, or even had read the ‘Scary Stories’ trilogy, but I was introduced to the traumatizing practice that night of looking into a mirror to conjure a violent spirit. She was to appear with blood on her skin and a vengeance that would pull the conjurer into the mirror, lest the foolish conjurer switch on a light instantly. The light remained on while we all stood in front of the large mirror that night, and I don’t remember if we switched it off at any time, but the fear was there. I was scared, but I was surrounded by my friends. That is, until they asked me to leave the room. As I stepped out into the hallway, I was alone to watch the bedroom door as it closed in front of me. I stood there for some time, my anxiety eating away at me as I heard the room erupt in laughter. I knew deep inside it was at my expense, but I stood there anyway, hoping that something special would happen and it was all just a joke.

The door was opened by my friend who was still giggling, and they invited me back in. I don’t remember what happened then, other than the party seemed to resume for a short time before I was coaxed into going into a dark bathroom by myself with a small flashlight. I didn’t want to do it. I was afraid of the dark and I knew that to try the Bloody Mary chant alone, as was suggested by the girls that I do, I was invoking danger upon myself. I believed in it wholeheartedly as any child would, and I was shoved into the bathroom before I could protest any further. The door was closed behind me and weight was pushed against it, and no matter how hard I pressed into that door with my body or pounded on the wood, no one would let me leave. I was trapped.

I backed away and I tried to calm myself. I was told that I was not allowed to turn the light on, and being as easily controlled back then as I was being a child, I listened. I didn’t want to disappoint my friends or lose them, so I looked into the mirror. With nothing but my anxiety and a small flashlight to guide me, I tried to stutter out the Bloody Mary chant three times – loud enough for them to hear. I began to cry. I was terrified and my heart had started to race against my ribcage. I was at the door again, pushing on it and pounding against the wood. I was begging to be let out but no one would listen. They stood against the door, pushing against my efforts cruelly to keep me trapped in that small room of danger. I cried louder. I screamed. I pleaded to call my mom because I wanted to go home. I just wanted to be safe again, and I knew that my mom’s presence would be enough to show me that everything would be okay.

After a short time, an older woman’s voice was tense out in the hallway in question as to what was going on. It was my friend’s mother. She finally released me from my dark prison and I stumbled out into the hallway, tears streaming down my face. I repeated over and over that I wanted my mom. I wanted to go home. It was all I could manage to say after the trauma I’d experienced, and it seemed that my friend and her sister weren’t too happy about their mother’s reaction to it all. Words are muffled in my memory and the rest became a blur as my parents were on the phone with that woman, I snuggling with my Winnie the Pooh security blanket I’d latched onto as an infant, and then they were in the driveway late at night, guiding me into their car as I tried to come down from the shock that I’d experienced.

To this day I am still afraid of dark bathrooms. Mirrors bring me discomfort in the dark and I don’t dare to look over my shoulder at them. The pounding heart and the racing mind – the fight or flight sensation that I still feel any time I have to walk across my hallway to get to the bathroom at night in my own apartment as an adult… It just won’t go away.

©2018 Shane Blackheart

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What If…?

Although I am not feeling so great today, I still wanted to post something a bit more positive since a lot of my entries have been dark. So, to mix up the monotony, I wanted to share a video I made solely in Plotagon itself without any outside editing. I am a beta tester for the program, and I was able to get my hands on a version that is still under heavy testing, but I’ve produced some amazing things with it! Hopefully, these new features will be available to all, but not until the bugs are worked out properly.

I made this video during a particularly bad night, as they have been lately. I was in a lot of pain from a medication that my body just didn’t like, but I wouldn’t let it stop me from creating this bit of comedy that I’m still pretty proud of. So without further commentary, here is the video, voiced by myself, Byleth, and Lestan:

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Grab Plotagon here: http://plotagon.com
Join the community and upload your own animations, and meet some awesome people! You can find me here: http://plotagon.com/ShaneLestan

Plotagon Story – An Opinion from a Long-time User

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(Update 7/2019: Plotagon Studio is the only Plotagon app available on PC and MAC currently. Plotagon Story is solely on mobile devices. The interface has also changed drastically, and no more content updates will be added in the foreseeable future. The community portion of the site/app has also been shut down, but people still post Plotagon videos on their individual Youtube channels. Plotagon Story is still free to download and use, and Plotagon Studio is available for professional use/enabling monetization at three price options.)

Maybe you’ve heard of this interesting little app while browsing the internet or the store on your mobile device. Friends have mentioned it or you’ve seen things on Facebook or Twitter. Maybe you have no idea what it is at all, but you should. It’s small and simple to use, but it contains so much magic within that you can only access if you take the time to explore what it has to offer you, which is quite a bit.

Plotagon, in its storytelling aspect, is an app to create animated films by writing a script. The interface is very simple to learn and with a few clicks and a bit of creativity, you can watch your stories and ideas unfold in a way you probably didn’t think you were capable of. That was my first impression, anyway.

I’ve been a writer since I can remember. I’ve spent years upon years creating worlds and conversing with people in my head and on paper, and I’ve always had just that – my head to work from. My imagination is vivid; I can see everything happening in my mind as if I were watching a dramatic film on the screen – my personal biological theater anything but tame, and most unforgiving at times, in that aspect. So, of course, when I stumbled upon Plotagon three years ago in its bare-bones form, I was blown away by the fact that I could project these ideas on a screen in an interesting way for people to hear and see.

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“Live long and Plot.” Plotagon offers many different character customizing options, especially if you’re into nerd culture like me.

If you’ve ever played a Sims game or any game with character creation for that matter, you’ll know how great variety can be. Plotagon offers a lot of options to customize the characters that will star in your films. The one above is myself, but the diversity of items you start with as well as have the option of purchasing is impressive for what this little app is. Plotagon supports everyone as well, so no matter your race, gender, sexual orientation, or whatever defines you, there is something here for you. (They released a rainbow pack for Pride month with some transgender t-shirts and gay pride themes! They are also advocates for anti-bullying and non-violence.)

After character creation, you are ready to begin. You’ll navigate over to the ‘Plots’ tab, which is what the community calls the films you upload, and you can begin planning out your script. This is very easy for even the most inexperienced user. The buttons across the top of your script are the important elements that make your plots shine, and the rest is up to you!

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The interface is organized and simple to learn and navigate.

As you can also see, there are microphone and camera buttons off to the side of scenes and character dialogue boxes. With these tools, you can really create something that is both visually pleasing to look at and interesting to listen to. You can record your own voice with automatic lip sync and do your own voice acting like I enjoy doing, and you can also use the camera button to frame your shot in several ways. Of course, all of this is laid out for you, so it’s just a matter of experimenting with angles and a few clicks. No coding or experience needed with directing/filmmaking.

There is also the option of allowing Plotagon’s voices from the Acapela Group to do the talking for you. There is a myriad of voices to choose from in the store and the diversity is growing with every update. The voices sound much more interesting and emotional than most automated voices, and they also can express different sounds and emotions with little hashtag codes that you can enter. (For example, #CRY01# starts the voice’s crying sound, #LAUGH01# is the first option for a laughing sound for that particular voice, etc.) Below are just a few of the voices available among many others in the store for purchase. And yes, the voices speak fluently and properly in your native language! When you first download Plotagon, you will get a few free ones to experiment with.

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Plotagon offers voices through the Acapela Group, which adds a wide range of diversity for users of all languages.

Plotagon is definitely something to experiment with since you learn tricks as you go. Being a user of three years, I’ve found that the more you use it, the better you will get at controlling it and making your plots shine. You don’t have to be a writer to excel or make something interesting, either. If you have some extra time on the weekends or have interesting ideas you think would be fun to share with a very supportive community, that’s all you need to get started. Did something interesting happen to you that made your day? Plot it. Want to let the world know a bit more about yourself in a fun and creative way? Plot it. Are you a writer or creative person and have some stories to tell? Definitely plot it!

From personal experience, the Plotagon community was like a second home to me (it’s since moved to Youtube). I’ve made many friends from all over the world who have become some of my greatest and most supportive, and I have learned so many things about other cultures through this app and meeting like-minded creators. I have made friends young and old and from all walks of life. I’d also been given the opportunity to be a featured member for putting my all into what I make with the app. If you tag your videos on social media, they may even feature your videos on their Youtube channel!

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My very first plot. Three years ago, jeez!

As a testament to what I just stated, the above is the very first plot I published to the community back in the beginning of 2015 before it was moved to Youtube. (Click here for a more recent plot of mine.) I had no grasp of how to work the program other than what it guided me to do, and it was very bare-bones then. This was before character creation was introduced, voice record, and diverse electronic voices. The community was the most welcoming out of any online space I’ve experienced, and it was the first time in my life that many people actually cared about what I had to say and write. The community, even since it has relocated, is genuinely a bunch of nice folks who love to boost each other up and see everyone succeed, and I saw that from the very beginning.

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My personal Plotagon profile before the community moved.

I grew quite a bit myself. 412 plots later, I’m still enjoying Plotagon as much as I did when I began. It’s definitely proof that if you just have fun and create with your whole heart, anything can happen. Be genuine and reach out to others where you can, and it will be returned to you. Not only that, but you’ll meet some amazing people! But enough about me. I want to get back to the more technical specs of Plotagon and give a proper layout of the program. So, in summary:

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Grab the Golden Ticket to unlock a majority of the paid content for a steal!
  • Plotagon is free to use and comes prepacked with a few free items, voices, and plots for idea starters.
  • In-app purchases allow you to expand your Plotagon experience without breaking the bank.
  • Plotagon is always evolving. Every new update brings improvements or brand new features to the app as it is constantly in development.
  • The app is very easy to learn and provides an interactive tutorial in the plot creation screen.
  • Fun for all ages and a great learning opportunity.
  • You can get your plots featured on their Youtube channel if they really enjoy what you make! Just tag them with #Plotagon.

Now, some cons, although not many:

  • There are limitations with what you can do, but there are just as many ways to work around these limitations and trick the cameras! Limitations also make you think outside the box so you can become more creative.
  • The app may run a bit slow on mobile phones and tablets, especially if you have an older device. I highly recommend using Plotagon on a Mac or PC for the best experience.
  • I can’t really think of anything else!

Overall, you have nothing to lose by trying out the app. It’s free and a lot of fun, and if you stick around long enough, you can become a master at it too.

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Images are from the Plotagon app.
You can get Plotagon for yourself here: http://plotagon.com (Story is the version you will want if you are a home user, Studio if you are a commercial user or business, and Education if you are a teacher and want to use it in your classroom.)

*9/20/18 – This review has been updated to reflect community changes, as it has relocated to Youtube to host videos.

Books are immortality