3 Tips – For NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow, and I thought I’d share some tips for a successful month. 

Also, I’ll be including videos on more of my posts.

  1. Don’t feel like you have to stick to the 50k goal if that’s too daunting for you. You can edit your goal or create a new goal for the same project. Also, your outline and summary counts if you’re working on that too. It all goes towards that final book.
  2. Keep your inspiration flowing with some good wiring playlists, whether it’s your favourite artists, or some emotional, instrumental music. My YouTube and Spotify has some playlists if you want to check them out.
  3. Writing sprints are a great way to help keep you focussed, so be sure to find some sprints either via the site or through other writing groups.

I’ll be announcing my project tomorrow.

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Book Review – Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton – 4.5 stars

Warning: May contain minor spoilers, but opening comments are spoiler-free. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This is very dark, with a dash of mystery, psychological thriller, and some spooky goings on. I enjoyed this book far more that I expected to since it’s not my usual genre, but I read a lot of dark fantasy so it wasn’t too much of a leap.

Trigger Warning: This book has a lot of triggering content in relation to non-consensual acts, graphic sex and graphic violence and child abuse. It was probably darker than I was prepared for.

What I liked…

Adeline isn’t some weak-minded MC who needs a man, but she’s also realistic that she wants one.

Zade is… a psychopath. Like, hardcore psycho. But that’s what makes him interesting from a literary perspective. His reasoning for what he does to Addie, effed up as it is, makes a twisted sort of sense.

Both MCs have particularly interesting inner conflict over their actions compared to what is appropriate or “normal” behaviour. I’m conflicted myself over how much I liked this book.

I listened to this on audible, and when we were in Addie’s POV, any male voices were done by the male narrator and vice versa. 

I love the snippets from Gigi’s diary and how history is repeating itself with Addie, but in a much darker and twisted way.

Random thoughts…

It did baffle me how Addie’s friend reacted to what was going on with Addie and Zade. If I found out some guy had done things like that to my friend, I’d be dragging her to as far away as possible. 

The police sucked too. I get that they can’t do everything, especially when someone’s tampering with their system, but they were just so… unbothered on Addie’s behalf.

What I didn’t like…

I can’t really complain about this since it’s a huge warning, but… some moments in this were too much and I found myself skipping. The number of times I had to remind myself it was just fiction…

Final thoughts…

I definitely wouldn’t recommend this to just anyone. If you’re into dark and twisted minds playing fucked up games with each other, with a dash of spooky and history repeating itself, then I might recommend it to you if you can handle this.

Book Review – The Awakening, as Told By the Boys by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti – 5 stars, obviously

Warning: May contain minor spoilers, but opening comments are spoiler-free. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

We all know the Heirs are jerks to the twins in book 1 of Zodiac Academy, but why? Why did they go so far? We get our answers from Darius and Orion, with sprinklings of Seth, Caleb, and Max.

What I liked…

I already loved this book and series, but going back and seeing the Heirs’ reasoning makes me love them even more. 

What I didn’t like…

There wasn’t much of Max. I moaned about his random POVs in the later books, but I expected more in this one. 

Final thoughts…

I don’t recommend reading this unless you’re on at least book 4 or 5 of ZA. It doesn’t exactly spoil things, but there are some fun moments that make more sense. 

Writing Ranting – Supporting Writers Between Writing

As writers, we can be a complex bunch, and we write for many reasons. One of my main reasons is some form of therapy to process my emotions or dreams. This form of expression through art isn’t new, and writing can get a lot of emotions out in a way that makes it meaningful to me as a mental health sufferer. 

I don’t often talk about it on here or my bookish social media because I want to keep things light. But sometimes, I need to just point things out.

Recently, I offered to be a beta reader for a couple of writers I knew through TikTok. They were both super nice, but one manuscript, I couldn’t finish because of life changes, and the other I took longer than I planned. When I explained this and apologised, they were both so understanding. 

They both said I could reach out whenever if I was struggling or just wanted to talk. Sometimes people say that to be nice, but I got the sense they meant it. Either way, it was nice to hear since I have been going through a rough time since spring. 

My mum is going through cancer treatment, and though we had some very good news that the treatment is working, it’s still hard for her with the side effects and being very limited in what she can do. Last week was particularly stressful because I have a foster kitten, Nix, who is in a very bad way and has been in and out of the vet’s for over two weeks now. Then my dad had his COVID vaccination and had the usual reaction so was limited in what he could do. 

When it rains it pours. 

All this is temporary, but with my mind not being able to cope with too much going on, I just stalled for a whole week. It was Mum, kitten, work. That was all I could manage. 

Reading Ranting – Don’t Have Time to Read?

Disclaimer: The product recommendations mentioned below are based on my personal experience. Also, I have no affiliation with them.

Do you have time to read? Me neither. I also find it super hard to focus on written words after a long or busy day, especially on Kindle because I only have my phone for digital books. My mind races at a million miles per hour, and I struggle to pay attention to just one thing. Ironically, I’m a slow reader, too, so it’s extra difficult for me to sit down with a book no matter how good the story is. 

However, audiobooks have changed my reading habits, and I now read/listen to a book in about a week as opposed to a month. I listen during my drive to work, when I’m washing up, when I go for a walk, or sometimes in the shower. And I definitely find it helpful to wind down at the end of the day and listen in bed. 

But audiobooks are expensive, right?

Yes. They can be, but an Amazon Audible subscription is about the same price as a book, and you get 1 credit for any book, plus a selection of books included like Kindle Unlimited. I’ve read some really good books on their subscription. If you want to buy and keep more books, they’re a lot cheaper as a member, so it really doesn’t cost that much. 

Alexa will read Kindle books aloud and is quite natural. I sometimes switch from UK to US or Australian English, so each book sounds different. I needed a better speaker to connect to my phone because my Wi-Fi doesn’t reach my kitchen where I like to listen to music or my ebooks. When I saw how cheap the basic Alexa Echo was, I bought that instead, and it connects to my Wi-Fi just outside my kitchen. I just tell it to read my book, and it does. It’s also fun for music, information, and connecting to my smart plugs, so it has infinite uses beyond a speaker.

I also get a few ebooks as ARCs or beta copies and I use Google Books for those. Google uses its own voice to read those aloud or I can use FB reader’s premium version with Google voices. Personally, I prefer FB reader because it shows the play and pause options in my phone’s notification section, so it’s easier to control. 

Thanks to these fun apps and devices, my reading has become so much easier and more enjoyable.

Also, not long after I bought my Alexa, my internet service provider gave me a media assistant and a shiny new Samsung A6 tablet. Thank you, Movistar. Now I have a bigger device to read ebooks and the assistant acts like another speaker that I put in my bathroom, which is the opposite end of my flat to my Echo and I can connect the two. So many connections to make life easier 😍😍😍

My new media assistant and my new tablet.

Book Review – The Never King by Nikki St. Crowe – 4 stars

Warning: May contain spoilers, but opening comments are spoiler-free. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Firstly, TikTok made me buy it and I’m glad. 

Secondly, this has adult content, including graphic sex scenes and violence.

Thirdly, this is a fun but way-too-short story. 

Winnie has spent her whole life being dragged around by her mentally unstable mother to escape a family curse. Every time a Darling girl turns 18, Pan takes them away, and they return traumatized and unable to remember much, hence her mother’s instability.

When Pan comes for Winnie, she’s lonely, unsatisfied with life, and wants to find out what broke her mother’s mind. The answers lie in Neverland where Winnie meets the lost boys and finds herself the key to saving Pan’s dying lands.

What I liked…

I really love how Winnie’s character, background, and personal needs are established very early on, so we understand why she reacts the way she does ongoing.

I don’t know how I end up reading polyamorous books, but I really like them as long as the characters have fun too. This one is particularly fun since Winnie has been unsatisfied previously. 

I loved the plot and why Pan keeps taking the Darling women. 

I loved the POVs. We don’t just get Winnie and Pan. We get some lost boys too. And a sneak peak into another character. 

What I didn’t like…

This is where it loses a star – Character relationships were too rushed for my liking. I prefer to see a gradual progression to make the relationships feel more natural and more meaningful. 

Final thoughts…

If you like shorter novels with extreme spice, polyamory, exciting reveals, and magical lands, then this is for you. It’s also a great story of found family and belonging. 

Writing Ranting – Magic Makes a Story

Magic systems are more than just world building in fantasy fiction. As a writer, you make the rules and can use your magic system as part of the plot.

Here are things to consider for your magic system when planning your story…

  • Create a challenge for your characters like newly discovered magic, opening a magical room, translating a magic book.
  • Represent something emotional for your MC. Maybe trauma locked away their powers. Maybe an estranged parent has answers.
  • Establish a social hierarchy. More power could mean more respected or feared. Certain abilities might be good or bad in society.
  • Tools to complete a bigger task. Maybe a specific power will achieve the final goal. Maybe a certain combination of abilities is the only way to solve a problem.
  • Secret magic. Perhaps magic is banned, so any magic users have to hide it. Someone could dabble in dark magic and they have to keep it a secret.
  • A race. There could be something special that multiple people are trying to find.
  • Base your magic system on something real. Manipulating natural energy or elements can make it easy to set limits and exceptions.
  • Magical conduits like devices, runes, spells, etc. can have specific magical effects on things or people around them. 

There are probably more, but these are some of the main things that I have in various WIPS. 

My favourite is connecting emotion to magic. I have a character who fears her magic because her mother couldn’t maintain control, and my MC is worried she’ll end up the same. Another WIP has merging magic that is only possible with a strong emotional connection like family, friends and extra fun when it’s between lovers.

In one WIP, I imagine the magic as a way to combine magic, science, and religion in that one all powerful being (a sort of star) released a massive amount of energy that created the universe. This being then created worlds and more masses of energy that are like stars from a science perspective but are also similar to angels. Each ability has a scientific explanation or theory behind it, such as creating wormholes like portals, breaking down and reforming physical matter for shifting, bending light, etc. Sure, much of it is pushing it in relation to exact science, but it helps me as the writer decide what is and isn’t possible. 

One WIP has stones that hold the power of the elements, and only specific people can use them through special devices. The stones are also used for everyday things like light, heat, showers, helping plants grow, and powering airships.

Book Review – Dark Fae – Ruthless Boys of the Zodiac book 1 – By Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti – 4.5 stars

Warning: May contain spoilers, but opening comments are spoiler-free. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I loved this book and the characters. It’s set in a mirror world to our own, but Fae live there in place of humans. They have the power of the elements plus a magical creature form. Dragons, vampires, basilisks, and harpies are just a few of the amazingly fun creatures along with lion shifters and werewolves. The list goes on…

Elise starts off with a mission to find her brother’s killer and fakes her way into Aurora Academy. Her grief and need for vengeance drive her on her solo mission until she realises she might just need a friend or two to get her through it all. Or she’ll end up on the wrong side of a gang fight. 

What I liked…

Elise – I love female characters who don’t take shit from people around them. At the same time, she needs friends after losing her brother, and is open to it with the right people.

Dante – Love the name. Love dragon shifters. Live storm dragons. So he was an instant 😍 for me. Also, a fun balance of friendly and “not to be messed with”

Leon the lion 🤣 – He’s very much the tame one compared to the other guys, but he’s also what Elise needs to lighten her mood. We get to see hints of his beast so he’s not always the oversized purring kitty cat. 

Ryder – Interesting character with a seriously underappreciated creature for his shifter form. His past trauma that explains his current behaviour though he lets others believe differently. He has feelings that he can’t bear others seeing. And he has awesome hypnosis powers.

What I didn’t like…

Gabriel – Honestly, I don’t feel much of anything for him. Sure, he’s one of the good ones… mostly, but he’s not particularly interesting as a character considering his role in this story. He’s also kinda annoying with Elise even though we kinda get his reasoning. Not cool to play hot and cold then blame her for it.

Final thoughts…

Definitely a good read if you like questionable characters, badass magical powers, countless mythological creatures, and murder mysteries. Also, if you’ve read Zodiac Academy then you’ll love this. It’s less chaotic in all the crazy things that happen, but still exciting to read. And if you haven’t read ZA, then I suggest you do after this. Some characters overlap, which is always fun with series set in the same world.

Monthly TBR Update – June 2022

Oops. Sorry it’s late. I meant to post this last weekend but… tired.

I read some looooong books this month, so didn’t get through that many. But I did finish book 7 of Zodiac Academy. I don’t think I’ll survive until the next one in December, so I’ll probably read the novellas some point over the summer.

Books I read this month…
  • Zodiac Academy book 4, Shadow Princess by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti 
  • Zodiac Academy book 5, Cursed Fates
  • Zodiac Academy book 6, Fated Throne
  • Zodiac Academy book 7, Heartless Sky
Mini non-spoiler reviews…

Wild. Just freaking wild. So many things go wrong and only half go right. All the books are hilarious, heart-wrenching, steamy, and outrageously addictive. It is very immature at times, so I wouldn’t recommend it for people who like “serious” characters. But they have serious moments that just draw on so many emotions that I’m left flailing after. See my reading ranting page for full reviews.

Books I’m going to read next month… 

It’s going to be a demanding month at work with the summer camp, so I’m sticking purely to audiobooks. 

  • Ruthless Boys of the Zodiac book 1 – Dark Fae by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti 
  • RBotZ book 2
  • Book 4
  • Book 5

Books I’m putting on hold until August…

  • The Never King by Nikki St. Crowe
  • Ruin & Roses by Deanna Ortega
  • Halven Rising book 3, Fates Fulfilled

Writing Update- The Fourth Wall Series.

Oops. I meant to give this one last check yesterday before posting it, since I post my writing ranting on Wednesdays. This week has been a bit weird with final prep for summer camp at work and family health stuff getting to me. Actually, this is perfect way to introduce todays post because it’s something I work on when I don’t have much.

The Fourth Wall is a new mini series I’ve started based on a TikTok video I made about my MC accidentally hearing me as the writer. I thought it would make a few short and fun pieces to have for various characters where they overhear me or tumble into my world if it suits the story’s magic system, which in some cases, it does.

It’s also a way to get an interest in my novels as prequel chapters since they’re set not long before the mains story and don’t spoil anything. I have some other short stories planned for various WIPs as non-spoiler backstories, and some bonus chapters from other POVs. But they’re something to share after I’ve published to keep people interested in between each book in the series.

Mostly, these started when I got into writing slumps or in the middle of planning. They helped with world-building and fleshing out my characters or detailing past events that don’t need whole scenes or chapters in the main book. 

I have my debut novel about to go through the publication process once I’ve chosen my editor and made some decisions on art, etc. My Fourth Wall story with Clair will be available before publication as a glimpse into her life. Also, it’s something fun to write during a busy few days where I need to write but can’t focus on the main novel.