Yurika S. Grant's Author Site

The Yuri Retreat

Dreaming of the Stars, Book 1 of Aida, is now live!

After something like two and a half years, the first novel I ever wrote is finally complete and available on Amazon! If you’re interested in yuri/lesbian romance with naughtiness and sexy shenanigans, set on a sci-fi future planet called Aida… well, this might well be right up your alley. Grab it here:

Dreaming of the Stars (Aida: An Idol Romance Book 1)

It’s also enrolled in KDP Select, so if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription you can grab it for free. And if you do buy or borrow, I’d love it if you could leave a quick review on Amazon. It doesn’t need to be anything long, just a simple ‘I enjoyed this book’ is plenty. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy!

Now… let’s talk Amazon pre-orders and using them as a new and largely still unknown author. The short version first: don’t bother. Now the long version. Initially, I put the book up on Amazon with a three month pre-order window. This was primarily advice given by other authors I know, plus various websites I’d been visiting while researching.

However, pre-orders are a problem if you’re not that well-known just yet. Why? Because in order for pre-orders to have the desired effect—pushing your book straight up the Amazon rankings in hopes of a #1 bestseller the moment the book goes live—you need to have a lot of sales. I mean duh, kinda selling 101, right?

But I figured that over three months I’d be able to advertise and grow my readership, no worries, so I went for it anyway. Hah, still a problem. Why? Because going for a month or more without consistent sales actually harms your ranking, I learned a bit later. So while it’s technically possible to grow your audience during the pre-order period, chances are it’s still going to do more harm than good if you don’t have an established audience.

As such, I rethought my plans a bit and decided to kill the pre-order and simply put the book up for immediate sale. Except you can’t do that. For some unfathomable reason Amazon outright bans you from using pre-orders again for a full year if you cancel one. And not just for the author name, for all books under all author names you might put up. Nice, huh? And I might well want to use pre-order in a few months when Aida’s second book goes up, not to mention other works.

I therefore just had to bring the pre-order back to the earliest release date possible, which was today, the 9th. After all that rigmarole, the book is now live and ready to go, yay. And I’ve learned a good bit about what to do and what not to do when releasing a new book. All in all, it can be total minefield when navigating Amazon’s rules, but as they say… first time’s always the hardest.

New Works + Updates

At New Year I put up a post talking about a project I was hoping to write this year. The idea was to write a story spanning a whole year where each day would be a chapter, or possibly each week if that didn’t work out. And while I still intend to write the story, this post is basically just to announce that I’m putting it off until 2019 now, to start publishing around the end of March.

The reason for this is simple; I can’t get it written quickly enough to actually start publishing it this March as originally planned, not if I want it to be good. I want this story to be the best it can be, and it’s going to be kind of a pain to write due to the unusual structure, so I’m simply not willing to compromise on it. I’ll write the whole thing over the course of the next year, edit the hell out of it, and publish it when it’s ready.

The other big reason is simply the fact I don’t have enough readers yet. This story is going to be a magnum opus for me (hopefully, lol), and I want as many readers as possible to be enjoying it. As such, I’ll be using the next year to build more of a following for the current works (Aida, Starlight, others being announced below).

With that out of the way, let’s talk about this year’s projects. First, as I mentioned in the post I wrote on Starlight Blues, I have a new work in the pipeline to start being published in the next couple of weeks, something with a slice of life fantasy setting. I also have the mentioned sci-fi far future story mentioned in that post. Those two will take us through a good part of the first half of 2018. The second half of the year is already being planned, with one story involving cute lesbian witches, and one or two other things in addition.

I’m also writing some sexy novellas for some fun on the side. Those will be Amazon releases, but if you’d like early access when they’re done, patrons at $3 or higher will get them at least a month before release. The first two are well underway, with one being a sleepy British village setting and featuring a girl who lives in Japan but has to return to the UK for annoying family business, and the other being something involving a lesbian vampire 😉

The vampire story (titled Moonlight Becomes Her) will be freely available to anyone who wants to read and will have no overt ero content; it’s an introductory kind of story to give people an idea of what I write before committing to supporting me on Patreon if they wish. And both the other stories will be free to read and published on a roughly weekly schedule (with any luck…).

I’ll toss up a proper announcement post once I actually start publishing the fantasy story. Until then, why not check out Aida or Starlight? Thanks!

Subverting Expectations (Persona 5)

Before I talk about the subject of this post, a spoiler warning: I’ll be talking about the big twist in Persona 5. If you’ve played it, you already know what I mean. If you’ve not, stop reading now unless you don’t care. And if you don’t care, why are you reading this? Now, onto the subject.

There are twists that come completely out of nowhere and are so utterly nonsensical and poorly set up that it’s hard to believe a real person actually wrote them. You know the sort of thing; your Star Ocean 3s, your Mass Effect 3s, your God of War 3s (… there seems to be something about the number 3…).

And then there are twists that are so good in so many ways that I still can’t believe a real person actually wrote them, just for wholly different reasons. Twists are pretty hard to pull off well, and it’s often a case that they’ll present themselves to a writer mid-way through drafting, or at the end, or while editing and polishing, necessitating entire rewrites to incorporate the new ideas.

At the other end of the spectrum you get stories where it’s abundantly clear that the writer had the idea for a twist first, then wrote the narrative around it. For a good (bad?) example of this type, go play Fallout 4. It’s a terrible twist basically everyone saw coming months before release, and is so ineptly handled that I’m not sure how Emil Pagliarulo can even show his face in public after coming up with it.

Anyway, I just wanted to talk a bit about Persona 5’s big twist towards the end of the game, and how it actually managed to take me completely by surprise. The reason for this is both because I wasn’t expecting it (insert Star Wars joke about subverting expectations here), but also because Atlus played with my expectations of Igor himself. Allow me to explain. (more…)

Starlight Book 1 is Complete! What Did I Learn? + New Work

Out With the Old Cover…

After some two years, the first book of my magical girl (urban fantasy/paranormal) trilogy, Starlight, is complete! Well, the first draft is. Now comes a second draft and many edits in readiness for… well, something I’ll announce in another post, something I’ll be needing some help with. But before that, I want to chat a bit about what I learned while writing this book.

First, the most obvious thing: I suck at maintaining schedules where I have to actively write something on a week by week basis. It’s part of my general personality, I switch between projects pretty frequently, writing one thing for a day or two, then another thing for another day or two, and so on. If I’m not feeling a particular work, I find it helpful to write something else for a while.

Needless to say, that doesn’t work so well for something I was intending to have published weekly like Starlight. The story that will be replacing Starlight for the Saturday slot, a slice of life yuri fantasy I’ll talk about in a moment, will be easier to deal with on that front. Why? Because it’s slow-paced slice of life that will focus on a different character or situation each week, making it easier to write in small chunks.

Starlight was a fast-paced novel with continual forward momentum and required a lot of foreknowledge of how the later events would go—knowledge I had, I always have a solid grasp of the shape of things in my mind regardless of whatever notes I keep—but the individual scenes to get to those later story beats were largely written as I went.

Foreshadowing and hints as to future events were placed as necessary because I already had those figured out (though they can definitely be improved), but some weeks would see me dithering on what to write for entire days at a time, making for horrible delays.

That’s to say nothing of my personal situation, which I won’t bore you with here. Suffice to say that I don’t have a home right now and am intruding on family, which isn’t exactly conducive to being able to write interrupted. I’m getting that sorted out right now, but it’s still something I have to bear in mind for my writing life.

The other major thing I learned is that I need way more practice in certain areas of writing. Normally I write pretty light-hearted yuri romance stories (Aida, for example), which have minimal conflict and instead focus on fun characters and situations with a healthy dose of humour arising from the interactions between characters. Starlight was my first real foray into something with more serious conflict.

With Book 2 of the trilogy effectively being my Empire Strikes Back, the experience of writing Book 1 will help a great deal, given it’ll have a much darker and more serious tone. The girls will have to confront aspects of themselves they might not like much, will have to really come together as a team to survive a harsh environment, and will have to conquer one or two pretty serious personal demons from their past. And I can’t wait 😀

But while it’s true that I’m super pumped for Book 2, I also need a break so I can write some other things for a while. And, more importantly, so that Book 2 can be published without missing any beats, and that means writing the whole thing in advance this time. So that’s a project for much later this year.

Note, if you want to read the whole book, now would be a good time (link at the start of the post, no account needed to read). My plans for the book will necessitate unpublishing it for a period of 45 days, meaning you won’t be able to read it until those 45 days are up. If you have knowledge of indie publishing, you can probably guess what I’m planning for Starlight based on this 😉

… in With the New Cover.

I mentioned another project I’m planning to replace Starlight with, now it’s finished, so let’s talk about that quickly. It should be obvious to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of my works that I love slice of life stories with minimal conflict, so you probably won’t be surprised to learn that’s what the new work will be. There will be some conflict and drama—some pretty serious stuff, in fact—but mostly it’s going to be fairly fluffy.

The setting is fantasy with some level of magic, but less focused on systematic magic (casting fireballs and the like using a complex system of magical rules or similar) and more on magical technology. Primarily the story will be set around a trio of islands off the coast of a major city and the cast of characters who live there, as seen from the point of view of the main girl; an adventurous 18 year old from the city who feels like she wants a change of pace from the largely restrictive life she leads there.

I also have another story in the works, something far-future and sci-fi (and by far, I mean far, like year 3000 far) involving lesbian girls in a survival situation, but I’ll put a post up on that project at a later date. The aforementioned fantasy work will be coming in the next couple of weeks, so if you enjoy that type of story, stay tuned!

How Can I Shake Things Up? (Writing)

Have you ever tried writing a story and hit a point where you think ‘I need some extra conflict and drama’? Assuming you’re not writing slice of life where conflict isn’t much of a thing, you should have been asking yourself this question virtually non-stop. But depending on where in the story you are, the type of conflict can change dramatically.

Let’s say you’re two thirds through the story and everything’s gone to hell for your guys. At least one main character has died, you’ve pushed the rest to the edge of sanity by having disaster after disaster befall them, and the bad guys are on the verge of completing their Doomsday Weapon. But your good guys still have their home base, a place of safety from which to launch operations and provide resistance. That’s good.

Or is it? In general, when writing a story the stakes should be gradually going up to introduce tension and uncertainty at every turn. Even when the characters are at their lowest point, another disaster can still be introduced into proceedings. Especially when they’re at their lowest.

The secret ingredient here is known as tension and release, or the Rollercoaster Effect. Build up the tension slowly and surely, let the reader feel the stakes as the protagonist stumbles through the darkened house being startled by every little creak or thump. Then BAM! The protagonist gets out of the house and runs into the night. Tension is released as you realise they’re not about to be eaten by a scary monster… but now the tension creeps back up again as the reader speculates on where the monster might be… (more…)

Is Conflict Essential to a Story?

Most writers will tell you that conflict is essential to a story. Some would even go so far as to say a story can’t exist without conflict. And sure, depending on the medium involved, conflict is pretty crucial to a story. But is it essential to a story? Short answer: nope. The longer answer is a bit more involved.

There are several major exceptions to this rule. The most prominent examples I can think of would be humour and slice of life. In both instances, something else takes the place of conflict. For humour it’s the concept of set up and pay off, using jokes and crazy situations to propel the story. And for slice of life it’s having stellar characters the reader will fall in love with and simply enjoy watching or reading about in fairly normal (and occasionally fantastical) situations.

Often the above two categories of story will coincide, of course. Slice of life thrives on ordinary situations made humorous by putting a new slant on them. Something like GJ-bu is a great example of this. Likewise, Aria’s various seasons are all heavily focused on what we in the business like to call ‘cute girls doing cute things’, and is what you might call a healing show. (more…)

So… let’s talk about 2018

As per the title, let’s talk briefly about next year. Yes, I know next year is still a few months off, but regardless, I have a project I’m planning to write for next year and feel like talking about it. The basic idea is this: I want to try my hand at something similar to Persona, a work that will run over the course of a full year, with each day of the year being a single chapter.

Some chapters might only be a few hundred words, others might be a few thousand, and each chapter will be published on the appropriate day of 2018, starting – I think, subject to change but I’ll get to that in a moment – on April 1st… which I admit might not be the best day, so maybe I’ll go March 31st instead, lol.

And special days, events, and times of year (summer, Halloween, Christmas, Valentine, etc.) will of course get special chapters. One of the main reasons I’m thinking April is a good start point (rather than, say, January 1st) is because there will as usual be a degree of influence from Japan on the work, and school terms start around April 1st or so over there, which will affect my setting directly.

But more importantly, it’ll take a good few months before all the characters are introduced, so having Valentine’s happen when not all the main cast are even around yet would be pretty bad. Summer is kind of the first really big thing, and by that point I should have all 8 mains introduced at which point Halloween, maybe a November fireworks event (Guy Fawkes or similar), Christmas, New Year, and Valentine’s can all happen and be enjoyed by the whole cast.

As for the story itself, I’m not going to spoil it here, but I’ll just say this: it’ll be an academy setting of some sort, and will be heavily influenced not only by Persona (a series I adore), but also a few lesser-known works such as Alundra. So expect supernatural shenanigans and general weirdness 😀

So why am I telling you about this now? Simple, a work like this will need to be fully written in advance, all 365 chapters. Intrigue, plotting, mystery, they all play a part, but they’re also things that have to be carefully set up by the writer. And I’m well aware, thanks to copious experience with my previous serial works, that fresh ideas for hints and foreshadowing and similar can occur late in a work, which would require edits to be made to the earlier parts. And that ain’t going to work if I write this week by week.

With that in mind, consider this my announcement of intention to write a good portion of this work as my Nanowrimo project for this year. I have the next month to plan and prepare the major bulk of the work (characters, setting, plot, antagonists, etc.), at which point November will be the start of my month-long hell for the fourth year running 🙂

I’m going to write as much as I can for Starlight and (another work I’ve not announced yet, coming soon!) over the same October period, so I have content to put up in November without needing to actually write it, leaving me free to plan this new work. Who knows, I might even share some things with patrons as I plan them, though only for the opening sections of the story, don’t want to go spoiling later events, do I? ;p

Lastly, while I really like the idea of the 365 days as chapters thing, it’s also possible that might end up not working too well. As such, the other option is to make it 52 chapters instead, and make it weekly. I prefer the daily idea… but we’ll see how that works out once I start writing it.

That’s all for now, will update on this for patrons when I have something more solid to share. I already have the basis for the work (setting, major plot, antagonist’s motivations, a couple of main characters) pretty sorted, so we’re not talking ‘completely from scratch’ here. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, but eh, I figure it’s time to properly go forward with it, given Nanowrimo is just around the corner.

Music Choice When Writing

Music Choice While Writing

Do you listen to music while writing? I do. More or less without fail, in fact. Humans are sensory creatures, and music can help put you into the right frame of mind to write particular scenes. So let’s talk quickly about music choice while writing.

In general, I’ll normally have something easy to listen to (for me, your mileage may vary) such as late 90s trance. It’s a genre of music I have a particular fondness for, for personal reasons involving my own misspent youth, and therefore has a positive effect on me when I listen to it. That’s great when writing, because it puts me into an overall happy state where I’m likely to write more effectively.

But what if I’m writing something specific, something where I want to evoke a particular feeling or emotion in the reader? Ah, well then I’ll break out my playlists. Romantic scenes? That’ll be my romance playlist, including various tracks from the eras I like. Energetic trance for fight scenes or similar high-stakes events. For creepy or chilling I’ll use soundtracks from games such as Silent Hill (obligatory #FucKonami). Something epic and grand in scale? I might use this amazing piece from the final level of Serious Sam 3 (it’s actually 4 pieces stitched together, keep listening, it ramps up in epicness as it goes). (more…)

Describing Characters Through Environmental Details

Describing Characters Through Environmental Details

This is possibly a bit ‘too’ much…

There are nearly as many ways to describe a scene or character as there are stars in the night sky. Sometimes a quick description with additional hints sprinkled through the following action and dialogue works well. Other times a more thorough description, with metaphor and simile, might work better. And for some things, a description is barely even necessary, it might be enough to simply hint through clever placement of objects in a scene.

It’s the last option I’ll be talking about here. Indirectly describing a scene, location, or character is a great way to give your reader a good idea of what’s what without needing to overtly tell them. In other words, this is a form of the old ‘show, don’t tell’ technique. First, let’s take a quick example from one of my own works, Starlight Blues:

Meg moved across to the kitchenette and stared at the cooker. Then at the sink. A variety of pots and pans, plus several plates and a number of pieces of cutlery lounged there, awaiting her attention. She turned to the centre of the room where her sofa and TV stood. T-shirts, random pairs of pants, and various jeans and trousers lay strewn across her sofa.

This simple paragraph of description gives the reader some hints as to the sort of girl Meg is. Potentially a little lazy; not necessarily true, but a reasonable assumption for now. Untidy and disorganised; plainly accurate based on observation, but could also indicate she simply hasn’t had time to tidy. Not hugely interested in cleaning when she has other things to be doing; it’s previously been shown that she’s an art student at a university, and artists are often portrayed as untidy, so this is again an okay assumption. (more…)

Writing Large Groups

Writing Large Groups

Feeling sheepish about writing large groups?

Excuse me a moment while I scream. YAAAAAAAARRGGHHH!11!!!!ONEone. Okay, that’s better. With that out of the way, let’s talk about writing large groups of characters, a topic of much hair pulling and flustered frustration.

There are a few basic ways to handle more than, say, four characters in a scene. The easiest is to simply not do it. This is normally my preferred solution because I like to keep things focused on specific characters, pairings, or small events.

But there are always exceptions, and I do occasionally bite the bullet and write anything up to eight characters. Or even ten to twelve in very rare situations. So let’s go over some of the ways I handle this when necessary.

Split the Group for the Whole Chapter/Scene:

Potentially the easiest option for a large group, simply split it into two or three smaller, more manageable groups. For example, I have a group of eight characters and a part of my story demands that all eight characters be taken on a special trip/event together. So I split them into two groups: Group A, the important group, and Group B, the less important group.

Group A has the four characters this part (chapter, scene, whatever) mostly focuses on. Group B has the more incidental, background characters. By determining which were most important to this part of the work, I can easily focus on them while still keeping the others around for cross-group dialogue and events, without confusing matters by trying to have eight characters talking in one scene. (more…)