Look at that, it’s an actual #onemillionword update posted on Friday and everything.

Two hands typing aware at a laptop, wearing black long sleeves. The laptop has a bunch of stickers on it and they are sitting at a marble grey and white table.

We are now at the end of week 8 which almost lines up with the end of February. A month that I am all too happy to say a proper farewell to. Over here in New England we’ve seen a lot of cold temps and a lot of snow which usually I’m fine with when I can also leave the house. This year with the quarantining, I don’t get any vitamin D during the week and I can’t wait for spring because of that. The ever so slightly warmer days that are slowly passing by have given me a little extra pep in my step in most aspects of my life. For one, I’ve already started our spring cleaning. The amount of tumbleweeds made out of cat hair my two make in a week is astounding.

Now, between the spurts of cleaning and trying to hit my word goal I’ve neglected a big part of my life; reading and video games. My husband and I haven’t been able to play WoW at all this winter which is when we usually hunker down for some good ol’ fashion raiding. This is because of my work and his plus homework. It’s been a busy pandemic.

As of right now, I am in the middle of four different books and three different video games with no progress made in any of them for weeks. What I’m getting at here is, I am horrible at the whole work/life balance thing. It’s not a horrible shock since I’ve been like this my whole life. Just comes with the territory of being ADHD. Though it did take me two months into the year to realize it too.

So the problem has been identified, now I need to fix it as much as I can. First, as of next week, I’ll be seeing an ADHD specialist which is great. I work best with structure and accountability. Regular check-ins to keep meds going does exactly that. Just being accountable to my husband doesn’t cut it, no matter how much he tries to be the hardass in the relationship.

From there I plan to try and write 6,000 words a day but only Monday through Thursday. Friday the goal is 4,000 words. Saturday and Sunday the goal is 500 words. Dividing it up like this should allow me to catch up as well as relax, regularly. If done correctly, I should have 29k new words a week which is 7k more than what I’d need just to stay afloat.

Some might ask, why write at all on the weekends? Shouldn’t I use those two days for a real day of relaxation? Especially since my husband works a regular 9-5. It’d give us more time to just hang out with each other. I’d 100% agree if I didn’t use a website called 4thewords.com to write and I have to keep my streak going. If you don’t know what 4thewords is, I’ll explain it below.

A cartoon colorful middle eastern style city.

4thewords.com is a website that is an infusion of a word processor and a flash video game. You start at level one with a basic avatar and level up by completing quests and ‘fighting’ monsters as you go. It has all the usual trappings of a fantasy video game so you may ask, where does the whole writing thing come into play? Well, to fight the monsters you have to beat them with word counts. Right now, I’m fighting a monster called a Nitana. Sort of looks like a toucan. To defeat the Nitana, I have to write 700 words in 130 minutes. How am I doing right now in this battle? I’m just under the two-hour mark and have written 289 words. Some battles are a lot tighter. For example, there’s an Assassin that you have to defeat by writing 1,400 words in 130 minutes. The largest monster I’ve encountered so far needs 2k words to defeat it.

There are probably bigger monsters in the newer areas but I haven’t done any quests there yet even though I’ve had those areas opened for months. The reason for this is because I’m a completist. I’ve slowly been going through and finishing up all the quests in the first 4 areas before moving on. Granted, right now I’m stuck in the desert area since I used up my last 20 coins to travel. I could wait ten minutes to slow travel for free but who has patience like that?

In addition to just writing, you can dress up your avatar in two different ways; aesthetic and battle gear. I used to raid ICC three times a week during the Lich King expansion so I am a huge fan of gear grinding. Feels nostalgic since no raid has lived up to ICC yet. Sorry, Blizzard. All battle gear has at least one of three stats; attack, defense, and luck. Attack gives you extra words. Having a +10 in attack will get you 1 extra word for every 10 you write. This lets you whittle away the monster’s health faster. Attack is a great stat to build up when going against the 2k monsters. Defense gives you more time. Not too sure about the ratio but with my attention span, more time is always good. Lastly, there’s Luck. Luck affects what items will drop when you defeat the monster. The higher your Luck means the more likely the monsters will drop rare items.

There’s even crafting and some great lore to round this all out. Not to mention the art is cute and well done. They’ve even introduced reaction emojis for the forums that use the same art style the monsters and world are in.

This all sounds wonderful, right? There is a catch. As you’ve probably guessed, it costs money. The good thing though it’s not that expensive, only $4 a month or less if you buy the crystals needed to get the subscription in bulk. It takes 44 crystals to buy one month. The largest bundle they offer is 2250 for $150. That makes it about .06 a crystal instead of the normal .09 cents. If you don’t have the money all the time, there are two ways to get a month or two free. One, they have a pool you can opt into that helps those without the means get subscription time donated to them. The other way is that there are quests that give you crystals. If you are smart and don’t spend them on some of the aesthetic items you can save those up easily to use on months that you don’t have the money.

Don’t be like me and waste them on boots and a kickass top the first minute of playing.

If you are at all interested in trying 4thewords, I’d really recommend it. They have a free trial is 30 days and allows you complete access to the game. If you decide not to pay after that then you can still access your work, you just can’t add or edit it on the site. You can copy and paste to another word processor.

Also, if you use my referral, we both get cool stuff; VNMLP95872.

Until I can find a better balance between work and play, this will probably be my only video gaming for the time for a little while.

Seven weeks in and things are coming together, finally.

One more week completed of #onemillionwords 2021. For those who don’t know what this click here to read my very first #onemillionword update where I explain it all.
As stated above, things are finally starting to come together.

In the beginning, all my projects were completely disorganized, words slapped together just to hit the goal. Now after finding my stride, things are coming together. There is a point in constructing a story where it takes shape and isn’t just fragments, or beginnings, or introductions, but actual stories. I’ve hit that point on some of mine. Not all of my projects since some are sitting pretty in the problem project piles, but that’s okay. The few that have started to morph into actual stories and novels are still cause for celebration.

Let me do a deep dive into each project.

Chained Heavens – I’m at a little over 30k words. According to my charts- that sounds so nerdy, I love it- my word count for this project is supposed to be 55,743 words as of today. As you can see I’m a bit behind and I’m trying not to let it get me down. I love writing this character and this world. It’s been a very long time since I had down anything in a High Fantasy setting. It’s been a lot of fun to just build a world from scratch, with a few nods to DnD 5e here and there.

The big thing about this project is it’s a collection of short stories and I’ve now completed two of them. The completion of the stories has been huge since I’ve been working with this character on and off, getting her just right, going on almost five years yet I have never completed one of her short stories. That’s my whole problem no matter what the project is; seeing it through. I have a few completed manuscripts and a dozen or so short stories under my belt. I had completed the original Merranyssa trilogy a few years ago only to realize it was all wrong and had to start again but for all the years I’ve been writing, it’s not a lot. Or, to be honest, not as much as I’d like to show for it all.

This time around, not even two months in, I have things to show for it. Two completed stories totaling almost 15k words with a third one less than 500 words away from being done. That’s what I have to show after seven weeks of writing and that’s amazing to me.

What’s my plan for these two short stories? Well, once I have at least five stories completed, I plan on taking time off from the general word count to revise and edit. I know both are rough right now but if I get all five done and edited then I have a full first volume of stories.

VeL Posts – I wish I could say these were coming together as well since blogging has always been hard for me. After finishing this post, I’m at 11,429 words but the number I should be at is 20910. At some point my hope to get caught up with a mad stroke of genius, pumping out great blog posts one right after the other. Realistically, that probably won’t happen but at least these updates will be helping. I do find writing each update has helped make blogging just a little bit easier for me. By the end of the year, I hope to get better at it. I used to write editorials all the time for my college paper and even got a degree in journalism but I wasn’t willing to work in the field after being confronted with some cold hard truths about the industry. Funny that I’m not trying it all over again ten years later.

My plan to improve these roadblocks is to spend some time at the end of the month to just plot and plan out actual article topics ahead of time. I’ll start back up with the book reviews as well as maybe a bi-monthly post of writing advice I’ve found helpful. If any of my readers would like to see anything else specific whether it be about books or writing or even geek culture, comment below.

Cloaked Rites – This has been one of the projects that have been hopping back in forth from good to a problem. As of today, I am a little over half what I should be at but I have almost 11k words written in it. Again, I’m not where I should be but I’m a lot better than if I had never started this. At 11k words in, I’ve barely got past the introduction of the world but we’re getting there. Part of the reason why I think this one has been hopping back and forth is that I might have to do that dreaded outline for this one.

I’m the worst at outlining but it has to happen. I’ve known this for a while so I started watching tutorials on the Snowflake Method. Don’t know what that is? Click this link here and it’ll take you to the blog post of the guy who created it. Or if you work better off videos, like me, click here for a great breakdown of the method.
I plan on sitting down, hopefully, this weekend, and spending the day outlining Cloaked Rites with this method. I’ll let you all know next week if a. I even did it. and b. how it went.

The Stormbloods Saga – This is the only project that is actually on track with the overall word goal. I’m even ahead by a bit. I’m just shy of 15k in this project yet the word goal for today is only 13,700. The goal for this project at the end of the year was to have 3-4 novellas finished. This whole story is being structured like a multi-season show but instead of 48 minutes on the CW, there’ll be a novella published every 3-4 months and every calendar year would be seen as a completed season. This one because the structure is so different will be a bit challenging in the editing stages which makes my progress look so much better.

I hope that we can complete the first season this year and have the first ‘episode’ published in January 2022 under VeL.

DLPSW – This project, I’ve realized would probably also benefit from outlining. It’s a little behind on its word count coming in at just under 10k when I should be at 13,700. This is probably one of the shortest gaps of all my projects that are behind but this is also the project that sits just right outside my comfort zone. I have huge appreciation and respect for those that write romance and write it well. I have never been one of those people. Hell, I wasn’t even into the genre as a whole until a few years ago. Mostly because I do like supernatural and fantasy elements in my story almost exclusively. In the last handful of years, the genre of paranormal romance has exploded, from what I’ve noticed.

There are now more and more romance stories that are more up my alley. We’re even getting a whole new wave of queer paranormal romance. I am in love and have added a bunch to my TPR over the last year or two.

The goal going forward, sit down and do the same as Cloaked Rites. Both need a plan moving forward. I am just about finished with the beginning parts of both and will need that outline once I dive deep into the actual plot.

The Keeper Chronicles – It seems this is my most forgotten and hardest project of them all. It’s also supposed to be a series of short stories but lately, I’ve been thinking if it also wouldn’t be a bad idea to throw in a few full-length novels to this series and if that’s the case, what will I do for the plots? As of now, the current word count stands at 5268 and the goal as of today is 13,700. Not much to report on this one since I’ve barely been able to get any done in it.

My goal going forward is to decide what to do with it. Originally it was supposed to be a series of short stories that were posted on our companies patron weekly. Possibly even broken up into parts, depending on story length and I still like that idea but thinking up short story ideas is hard enough with one project, doubling that makes it seem almost impossible. I think, for the time being, I’ll keep trying to produce short stories in this universe. Maybe even sit down and plan some out ahead of time.
Seems I have a lot of planning to do. Guess I should start doing that now.

Happy writing!

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Climate change. The issue everyone is aware of but very few people ever mention outside of a political debate. C.D. Tavenor and other indie authors have started a project to change that. The World’s Revolution: A Climate Crisis Anthology was started with the goal to ‘inspire to explore the intersection of the human condition and the climate crisis… with a little bit of science fiction and fantasy thrown into the mix.” Quote taken directly from their Kickstarter that is set to finish next Thursday, March 4th at 5:30 pm EST. 

Their goal is only $2,000 which will go towards paying all the contributing authors fair pay for the first volume titled GAIA AWAKENS.

C.D. Tavenor, a fantasy author/editor by night and a public interest environmental attorney by day, with a dozen books under his belt was kind enough to sit down with us here at VeL publishing to talk about this project.

Tell us about The World’s Revolution and what it’s about? What role do you play in it all?

The World’s Revolution is a climate fiction project with a SciFi/Fantasy twist. I’m the project lead, which essentially means I first came up with the idea and somehow managed to convince a few other authors to pursue this crazy concept with me.

The World’s Revolution is a soon-to-open Climate Fiction market aiming to pay authors at least $0.01 per word. We launched on Kickstarter at the beginning of February! We’re excited to give authors the opportunity to translate their personal experience of the climate crisis into a compelling fiction narrative. We’re asking authors to consider: “What if the world began to fight back against the main cause of climate change… us?”

Plus, we’re designing the project so every story is technically in the “same” setting. It’s going to be a challenge to link stories together from a multitude of authors, but it’s going to create a unifying and cohesive anthology.

When’s the deadline and when can people start submitting?

The Kickstarter closes March 4; following the end of the Kickstarter, we’ll officially open the World’s Revolution’s submission window, taking submissions on a rolling basis.

What drew you to this?

Climate change and its impacts to present and future generations drives my career and much of my writing. I’ve wanted to design some sort of annual publication for a few years now, and given my interest in climate fiction, it was the perfect concept.

Climate change isn’t talked about often in literature, let alone having a whole anthology based around it. What made you decide to go this route to bring awareness to the topic?

I believe in the power of story to change the hearts and minds of readers. When we’re faced with the daunting scale of the climate crisis, the little things matter. Inclusion of climate change in fiction matters. By launching the World’s Revolution, we’re all-in on the idea that our project can impact people’s perceptions of the climate crisis. If we can push people to act in the real world as a response to our stories, then our job has been successful.

As mentioned before, your initial goal is only $2,000 USD. If that is funded, what would further success with this project look like to you?

In the long run, we would love to see The World’s Revolution become a market capable of paying $0.08 per word, the professional rate making stories eligible for SFWA.

Running a Kickstarter is a unique experience of both dread and excitement, with a great potential for even personal growth. What was the best thing you learned during this?

You can never do TOO MUCH Kickstarter marketing. Get creative. Make new connections. Badger your friends and family.

Now, what’s the worst?

The answer to the last question is the answer to this question.

Back to the Kickstart itself. What made you decide on the SciFi/Fantasy twist for this project?

I’m leaving a lot of those details up to writers to create, but the simple answer is… the Earth is fighting back against the causes of climate change, and in some cases, it uses people, creating environmental superheroes in the process.

Think Captain Planet!

What’s your plans for this anthology in the future?

We’ve got a lot of ideas! Nothing is set in stone yet, but we definitely want to make the anthology an annual project, and we might explore opening the setting for novels, novellas, and more!

There are so many amazing Kickstarters going at any one moment. Too much for one person to back but if you had someone out there on the fence about your project. What would you say to them to give them a good reason to support The World’s Revolution?

Because the book you receive for supporting the Kickstarter will be written by authors paid for their work, bringing into the world one more place where climate writers can tell stories inspired to cause people to act on the crisis.

That’s a good enough reason for us and the lowest pledge is only $5 USD which comes with a digital edition of book 1. The Kickstarter’s set to end in a little over a week’s time. What do you and your group plan to do once it’s over?

Once the Kickstarter ends on March 4, the submission window opens and we get to read everyone’s awesome stories!

For those that still aren’t sure about the genre or topic, they’ve released a free sneak peak to give writers and readers a lot a taste. Nothing beats free. If interested, click the link. Can’t donate? If you can, sharing this project would help just as much. The World Revolution project can be found on Twitter and Facebook as well as their website

C.D. Tavenor can be found on Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Happy Friday. Week six of #onemillionwords has been completed!

Today marks the end of the 6th week of #onemillionwords 2021 and it’s been interesting. Last week, I set a goal for myself; write 5k words every day to start catching up and outline three short stories for Lucifiel’s short story collection. Well, none of that happened. At all. My best day of writing was this past Wednesday, wrote 4,020 words which I was happy about but it still missed the goal I needed. That’s okay. We’re still early in the calendar year which means I still have 46 weeks to play catch up and at some point, as long as I don’t give up, I’ll be caught up.

Does this mean for next week my goal will be 6k or higher? Probably not because raising the number is a great way to trigger my flight or freeze response. Most ADHD brains do this. They either freeze up, scroll social media for hours while trying to get themselves to actually do The Thing or flight. Flight is when either our brains completely purge the information because it’s too stressful or we use something else we deem as just as important for a distraction. I’m usually the former because since the beginning of quarantine my executive disfunction has been at the worst it’s been in years. I’ve given full permission for my husband to take my phone if he sees me start to get stuck in a social media spiral.

I’m lucky enough to have a writing buddy in my husband for some of the time but he works full time, Monday through Friday. At least three of those days are out of the house. So, what am I to do when he’s not around? It’s been a trial to find out what works for me and what doesn’t. At first, we tried making an hour-by-hour schedule for myself the night before. That has about a 40% chance of working. Most of the time, if I don’t have accountability then I just sort of ignore the calendar notifications. I feel super guilty and then spiral into endlessly scrolling social media or watching YouTube videos. Accountability is a huge thing with my ADHD. I was always the one in college to organize study/workgroups because to me, that’s a great sort of accountability. Especially, if everyone agrees to give hourly or half-hour check-ins. It’s hard to be the only one in the group to be like ‘I wrote three words,’ while everyone else has a laundry list of things they accomplished in that time. Also, I’m competitive as hell. I will pick a person to one up and use that as motivation.

I had a friend in college who told me they did the same and usually picked me because we were the two English majors. From then on we were each other’s biggest work rivals and it worked extremely well for us but they’re now off living in Alaska of all places, originally from New Jersey, and raising three kids. That means I’m now accepting applications for a new ‘work rival’ and I’m only half kidding. We were each aware that ‘winning’ meant nothing more than bragging rights for the next five or so minutes as best. Or the occasional bet on who buys the other pizza from the local pizzeria which was honestly, not even that good but I went to college in a very small town so options were limited. Still, tangible prizes are great motivators.

Before COVID, I used to go to coffee shops and try to work there. It was a 50/50 since if the coffee shop was busy I could get easily distracted. If it was extremely busy though, I was able to power through all my work. Funny how the ADHD brain works. Little stimulation and we latch onto it. An overload of stimulation we block it out. Also, I kind of had to reason with myself if it was that busy I needed a damn good reason to be taking up a seat if I wasn’t working. Since more coffee shops weren’t that big this gave me a great kick in the pants.

I’ve had to find ways around that, ways that work well while quarantining. Let me start by saying nothing works 100% of the time. One of the best ways I could find, since I live in New England and the great outdoors is off-limits for another three to four months, was to switch rooms in my apartment. Unfortunately, I live in a four (minus the bathroom) room apartment. Two bedrooms and an open concept living room and kitchen area. This trick works if I don’t overdo it. There are only so many times I can room hop without it losing its appeal, especially when one is almost completely bound to the apartment 24/7.

My husband and I are house-hunting at the moment and you can bet that the first thing I think of when touring a house now is how I can manage being locked inside all day. Is there enough room for me to move around? To change my scenery? Is there usual outdoor space when there isn’t snow? Right now we’ve got almost 2 feet so unless I went out to the middle of our parking lot, that answer right now is a resounding no.

Basically, what I’m getting at is that trying to maintain constant productivity is hard in a pandemic. I say this but all the creative-minded people out there are just nodding and wondering why it took me so long to figure out. It didn’t but now that I have actual goals, it’s become more noticeable. It also becomes extremely noticeable when during a weekly update, I don’t have all that much to update my readers on for each project. They’ve all had a little bit of progress made in them but just a little.

I’ve gone on a bit on ways I try to achieve the best levels of productivity but I want to hear from my readers. What is everyone doing to keep themselves going? Whether that be to write, to draw, or anything else that is creative. Comment below and tell us! I’ll even try a few out and report back.

You don’t have to make progress every day, week, or even month to still be in the game.

Happy Friday and welcome to the end of the 5th week of #onemillionwords 2021. Why do I add the ‘2021’? Because if I live through this year, I’m trying this bull again in 2022 and possibly every year after until I die. This updates a bit late, really late, but better late than never.

Week 4 was sort of a bust when it came to writing. I don’t even think I was able to get 10k words to page let alone the 20k or so words needed to just break even but life happens. This week, thankfully, went a little differently. According to all my trackers, I’m very behind in each project and that’s okay. I made up some of it this week, just enough to get me jazzed once more about this whole experiment.

A quick recap on what #onemillionwords is for all new readers and taken from a previous update, CKnightwrites on Twitter sent out a text at the very end of 2020 stating their goal of trying to write one million words in the upcoming year. From their more than a hundred people piled onto this idea and it became a sort of event. We’re a month in and people are still just as hyped about it as they were on January 1st. The goal is to try and get 2740 words a day, 85,000 words a month written. This is also with the knowledge that very, very few will be able to reach the one million mark but those that try and make some sort of progress, no matter how big or small, still win.

The last week of January was kind of a fail for me. I barely got any words in and lost a lot of time with adult responsibilities which caused all my creativity to fall into a rut. This past week, however, was slow going but there was progress. Progress, that was starting to build up steam again. I’ve never found 100% tried and true methods of getting myself out of a creative rut or a way to kill writer’s block but over the years I’ve picked up a few tricks to help both along. As I said, not 100%. They don’t work every time but that’s fine. That’s why I amassed so many tricks.

First, I read. I find a book that I know I’ll devour and I do just that. Usually, it’s a book by Kelley Armstrong or Seanan McGuire. Both are tried and true authors that I love. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough downtime to even crack a book. Another great trick I use that couldn’t be implemented this time was to just recite the entire plot so far to a friend or my husband enough times that they can either help me plot out a problem or I work it out a little bit as I talk.

My husband started his Spring classes the last week of January so he was out. My usual friend to vomit plot onto started her master’s program three weeks ago and thought it grand to do an accelerated study. Both are out for the time being.

Now onto the tricks that did work while having time restraints shackling my creative process. The one that worked the best, daydreaming. Literally, just daydreaming of a sort of fanfiction of my stories. Adventures where my character’s had enhanced powers or were hundreds of times more badass. Like the old superhero stories before modern narratives started focusing on actually giving their characters real personalities instead of stereotypes. I have no idea why this works but it does. I get hyped up for the story again. Sometimes this can take a few days of daydreaming but it’s worth it. It surprisingly is also great for working out rough spots in plotlines as a side effect.

A few other tricks I employed were scrolling through the writing community on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. Be warned, it might be inspiring but it can backfire and become an endless scroll day. Or slowly building playlists that fit my current project. I work from home so I listen to a lot of music and have a habit of picking a ‘surprise me’ type playlist at random to listen to while I clean or cook or exercise. My brain is occupied thinking of the creative project and figuring out which song fits best. It kills two birds with one stone. When it works it’s a kick in the pants to get back into it and helps my mind stay occupied while I do some form of mindless physical activity. This was a modified technique to help me manage my ADHD I learned years ago.

Thankfully, these few tricks worked great. I was able to start the 5th week of #onemillionwords with some pep in my step. Just enough to start but that’s all I needed it seemed. A creative jump start.

How’s each project going you ask? Well, my six projects can be broken down into two categories; the good projects and the problem projects. The good projects, I have been able to breeze through those word counts, high fiving my muse and all that good stuff. The problem projects I end up sitting at my desk and just banging my head against a wall, no muse to be found. I’ve realized that these two categories will probably exist throughout the whole year. At some point, I’ll try to come up with wittier names for each.

Some days I’ll be more into writing Elven Urban Fantasy and others I’d rather write about a clueless Werewolf stuck in a fake/pretend relationship with his best friend. And sometimes I just want to do nothing but write about a queer barbarian lady with chronic pain. I really like writing Lucifiel.

Now that I have a little bit more downtime coming up my plan for the next week is to try and write 5k words a day to catch up on the words I missed last week. As well as outline three short stories for Lucifiel’s collection and at least some of each book I’m working on. I want to think I’m still a pantser but without even a very basic outline my writing goes off the rails. I think it works at the moment but it edits very hard. Yet, I have not found an outlining process I actually like. Good figure.
Got any outlining suggestions? Feel free to drop them in the comments!

Four weeks in and we’ve hit our first wall.

Sometimes life gets in the way of plans, especially when those plans are writing a book or several. When one sets out to write a book, the gods above throw every stupid and time-consuming obstacle they can in our way. Or maybe that’s just how it feels. Hell, I had so much thrown at me the last week of January I’m writing this post a week late. Better late than never, especially with things such as #onemillionwords. I keep having to remind myself it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Missing one week because life has decided to kick up her heels and fill the calendar with STUFF isn’t the end of it all. I won’t bore you with the details but it was a lot of adulting that I really did not want to do.

Quick recap for those that aren’t aware of what #onemillionwords is, CKnightwrites on Twitter sent out a text at the very end of 2020 announcing their goal of trying to write one million words in the upcoming year. From there, more than a hundred people piled onto this idea, and it became a sort of event. We’re a month in, and people are still just as hyped about it as they were on January 1st. The goal is to try and get 2740 words a day, 85,000 words a month written. This is also with the knowledge that very, very few will be able to reach the one million mark, but those that try and make some sort of progress, no matter how big or small, still wins.

During NaNoWriMo every year, I hit a wall causing me to fizzle out for the rest of the month. I usually start extremely well by hitting my daily word goal every day for two weeks. Then something comes along and throws off my groove. One year, smack dab in the middle of NaNoWriMo, I was working at my local Barnes & Noble and the store lost power. Just our store, not the little plaza it was in either. Two other managers and I had to stay until the electrician came because all our locks and alarms were on the grid that went down. It wasn’t until nearly 3:30 in the morning that we finally get our store-specific electrician on the phone after calling him at least two dozen times. It takes him over an hour to show up. By this point, the backup generators are depleted, and it’s November in New England. The three of us were huddled on a beanbag chair in the kid’s section for warmth.

In the end, the guy came and flipped a switch. A single little switch locked up in an electrical box that only the maintenance company B&N employed had a key to. We found out some of the switches in there if played with incorrectly could blow up like a small bomb. We had been waiting at that point for over six hours. Earlier in the night, while checking out a loud and off-putting noise, I broke my foot. By the time the electrician showed, I was limping and miserable. The noise, by the way, was the backup generator shutting off. None of us had heard it before so, we thought someone had broken in.

I ended up not getting home until closer to 5:30 in the morning after all was said and done. The next day was my day off, thankfully. The plan had been for every day off that month to meet up with fellow writer friends, remember this was in the before times, and sit down together at a local coffee shop or library. Suffice it to say I slept through my writer’s group and most of that day.

One day down the drain, and my NaNoWriMo that year was over. I probably only wrote an additional 5-6k words the rest of the month. Unfortunately, that’s how I’ve always been and only recently found out that this whole easily discouraged and quitting when the groove gets disrupted thing is a common ADHD trait. The amount of things I’ve learned about ADHD in the last two years is probably five times more than what I had learned the whole rest of my life since getting diagnosed at 6/7 years old.

That aside, I’m still writing and still making progress in #onemillionwords 2021. Part of this is a big thanks owed to the community. The chats may have quieted down some, and a few of us have paced ourselves a bit more now than in the beginning, but it’s still there and still amazing.

I usually give updates on how each of my projects are going. This week, I see no point in breaking it down as I have in the past. I added a few paragraphs here and then, made four different post-it notes reminding myself that I really need to outline some of the short stories still but haven’t thrown in the towel yet. I’m horrible at outlining. If anyone out there had some great tools for it, please comment with them below.
I let life sweep me up in all types of craziness, but that’s okay. I have a whole year to get stuff done. A little break now and again isn’t a bad thing. Learning to not give up is important too.

I’m trash at consistency it seems.

I’ve set up multiple trackers for #onemillionwords. Each project has been set up individually on the NaNoWriMo website. I have a monthly tracker for each project in my bullet journal as well as a tracker on each project in 4thewords which is where I write. The site automatically updates each project as I write so I don’t even have to worry about that one but the other two? I’m horrible about updating them.

This is the same problem I ran into in school. The whole having to actually update it every day thing doesn’t work for me. So far, it’s been more like once or twice a week. In the end, will it matter if I updated every single date? Not really. They’re tools to help. The main goal here is writing every day and as long as I do that, then I’ve still accomplished my goals. This might be common sense for some but it’s a big thing for me. I tend to hyper-focus on using the tools exactly and tend to get discouraged when I misstep.

Everyone works and succeeds differently. Myself, I have to use multiple accountability tools, a community, and half a dozen post-it notes a week to accomplish this. I found what worked for me. Not 100% mind you but it has worked enough to keep me going. Before this, I was a disorganized ball of static. Three weeks of using a bullet journal can only do so much

This whole thing is teaching me to organize and utilize tools that better suit my brain. Wild to think that three weeks of a random internet event has helped where most of my special education teachers failed. Not throwing shade since I am well aware of just how badly understood ADHD was when I was in school and do not fault them these shortcomings.

First, let me give a #onemillionwords refresher. A wonderful mutual of mine over on Twitter tweeted out close to the new year that they were going to do a writing challenge for all of 2021. They were setting a goal of writing one million words in just one year and invited others to do the same. Nearly a hundred people, that I knew of, jumped on this and set the same goal thus an incredible community was born. To break it down that’s on average 2740 words a day and about 85,000 words a month. Most of us aren’t expecting to get to one million but pipedreams are a thing for a reason. If interested, you can find the mastermind behind this on Twitter at CKnightwrites. 

How’s my progress? I’ve been keeping on track more or less. I haven’t been able to bank any significant amount of words so that I have a buffer when we move, whenever that is. House hunting is fun and full of delightful surprises, said no one ever but my total as of this morning was at about 58k words. That’s still a great deal of progress. I keep having to remind myself of that fact. I’ve written more in these past three weeks than I have most years since graduating college.

  • CHAINED HEAVENS – Still really hate the name but I can’t think of anything better. This is my high fantasy short story collection that follows the adventures of Lucifiel and her two siblings, trained to fight against the demon armies plaguing their world. I have to be honest, Lucifiel is one of my D&D characters, an Aasimar barbarian. She was created five years ago when I finally joined a campaign that didn’t have three other Aasimars. I made a barbarian because the duality of it tickled me. It was a pairing that you seldom saw until Critical Role Campaign 2. Good thing Lucifiel and Yasha are not that similar in personality. That being said, it took me way too long to use D&D mod prompts but since doing so it’s helped a lot to start new stories.
  • Blog posts. Here’s one, isn’t it lovely? These weekly updates help me twofold; keeping my word count growing and reteaching me how to write editorial content. I have a bachelor’s in journalism but I obtained that over a decade ago and haven’t done anything with it since. I’m a little rusty. I will probably always be horrible at thinking up topics. The next post by me should be out Tuesday, a book review of DISAPPEARING NIGHTLY by Laura Resnick.
  • CLOAKED RITES – Every time I go back and rewrite this story, iI remember just how much I love these characters. This book is 1st person and written from Lysundra Evan’s perspective, a half werewolf, half peri agent of the supernatural British version of the FBI. I am afraid I haven’t gotten a lot of extra words banked in this project. It’s hovering just about where I should be so this weekend I plan to set aside some time for this project specifically. Maybe even try to outline beforehand. I’m rubbish at outlining and honestly, don’t know a method that works for me. If anyone has any method suggestions for this poor ball of static, please let me know.
  • The Stormbloods Saga Series – This is project has been the easiest to write. Hands down. Out of all my projects, this one has the most words banked. I also randomly, this time around, decided to make her ADHD so I’ve been having a lot of fun writing little internal monologue bits. It’ll get cleaned up in editing but for now, I have a little outlet for my own internal monologue which I didn’t know until recently that most neurotypical people don’t have. Another thing I’ve leaned into with this story is the sass of my main character. Here’s a snippet that I’m proud of:

I looked down. My energy drink was more than half empty and my coffee wasn’t steaming anymore. I furrowed my brow, wondering how long my mind had wandered off. With a deep breath, I grabbed the mug and put it into the microwave, hitting a minute reheat before asking my cousin if he wanted some as well. Not sure if coffee did anything for the Fae. Caffeine or any stimulant really didn’t do a whole lot for me but the little kick it gave was always appreciated.

“If that’s all you have.” He sounded so put out that I had to bite my tongue to not immediately tell him to go fuck himself.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked, trying to keep the urge to murder out of my voice.

“Tea, darling, I would prefer tea.”

I flipped the bird in his general direction before popping an earl grey into the Keurig. A wall separated us which meant as I waited I finished my energy drink and starting in on my coffee while every so often just flipping him off for no particular reason other than he was here.

  • THE DANGEROUS LIES OF A PERPETUALLY SINGLE WEREWOLF – This story is so hot and cold with me. Some days I can put in a solid 600 words and other days I barely write the minimum. When the latter happens, it’s like pulling teeth. It’s my first time really jumping into the romance novel scene and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Out of all the genres I feel like romance is the hardest to write. I have so much respect for romance writers. That being said, I am still going to power through because I got a nice plot bunny of an idea that I think could turn out to be something really good. Also, challenging myself with something new after exclusively writing urban fantasy for thirteen years is a good thing.
  • The Keeper Chronicle Series – It’s going the same as DLPSW is going; hot and cold. This series is a bit hard because even though I fell in love with the characters and the world it was originally meant to be a singular short story. The main character, Frankie, basically got trapped inside a magical house for the rest of her life so she can watch over the demons and angels within. Kind of hard to figure out how to make that kind of future interesting enough to have multiple short stories come after. I’ll post a snippet when I write something I love not just like.

Three weeks in and even though I’m not where I wanted to be or using the tools I set up every day I still feel pretty good about this. I’m happy I did this. That might change mid-April when the last of my sanity runs but we’ll see. Let me know below if any of you are participating in this challenge and if so, how’s your writing doing?

I’m just going to put this out there from the start. I hate zombies. I find it a dry and overdone trope. I try to avoid anything with zombies as a rule because it just makes my eyes cross. They neither scare nor intrigue me. I just am not a fan of zombies. 

That being said every rule has its exceptions. MY LIFE AS A WHITE TRASH ZOMBIE is now one of those exceptions.

This is the first book in a series by Diane Rowland that came out a few years ago. I picked it up on a whim since I’ve been in the mood for good stories with an undertone of comical absurdity. I’ve been finding some really good series that match this. Rowland’s White Trash Zombie series has now been added to the list.

The main character Angel Crawford is a grade-A loser from the swamps of southern Louisiana with a pill habit, a criminal record, and a deadbeat alcoholic father. After waking up from an apparent overdose Angel’s life gets turned around by a mysterious note that promises a job. A job she can’t mess up for a month or else she’ll be sent to jail.

So the job is as a van driver for the parish morgue, anyone surprised? She also assists with autopsies which put her in direct contact with brains. Human brains that for some reason now smell simply amazing to Angel. Add in a serial killer who dispatches their victims by cutting off their heads, conveniently the best method of killing a zombie.

It’s pretty obvious early on what Angel has been turned into even without the title as the dead give away but Angel herself does take a while to get with the program. As a reader, I was rolling my eyes at her obtuse theories but to be honest not many would jump straight into ‘Oh god! I’m a brain-eating Zombie! With a capital Z!’ Also, they added to her character well and rounded her out a good deal but the whole figuring it out gets dragged out a tad too long for my liking but overall it could have been worse. 

Not to say she’s the dumb (fake) blonde everyone thinks she is. Angel picks up on things most others don’t. Rowland writes her as a perfect mix of smart and spacy. She has an eye for detail which helps with all the recent suspicious deaths in the parish. Rowland makes these observations sit somewhere between blatantly obvious that you wonder how all the cops on the scene even tied their own laces and Sherlock level connection. It’s a nice balance.

As for the serial killer terrorizing their small Louisanna town, Rowland does a great job of leaving the reader guessing. The reveal at the end is a great surprise even to those that figured out who the killer was beforehand. I love me some supernatural serial killer plotlines and I was very happy about this one.

Angel’s also an extremely likable character while displaying her flaws. From the beginning, Angel feels like a real person, or as real a person as one would find in a zombie novel. 

Rowland’s does a great job of flipping the zombie script on its head in two different ways. The first is having the zombie as the main character. A few stories and movies have done this before like Warm Bodies, but I can’t think of any that has done it in this manner. Zombies in her world operate the same way a vampire or werewolf does. They are turned and can with regular meals of human brains can be a functioning part of society. Without those brains, they become feral similar to a vampire or werewolf except that’s the only time a zombie starts to rot. Flesh off bones and all that fun stuff. The second way she flips the script is that the main character and only main character of this zombie story is female. There must be some out there but I can’t think of any in pop culture. It’s good to see.

Overall the pace of the story is a bit on the slow side until you hit about 2/3rds of the way in. It wasn’t so slow that I threw this book in my donate pile but not fast enough that I devoured it from start to finish. Most first books in urban fantasy series, I’ve noticed, tend to be like this. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s because of the whole world-building within the world we know thing that does it. It’s something I try to remember when starting a new series.

The characters were interesting enough. Especially the two background character cops that I did constantly mix up which might have been a me thing. There was also a good dose of reality checks from one of Angel’s co-workers Nick who hated her for getting the job without so much as trying. Nick can be a bit much at times, well, most of the time but he’s a good way to ground the story back to reality. Characters in stories like this never second guess why something just kind of fell into the main character’s lap. A lot of urban fantasies, especially from the mid-2000s, have a bad habit of building their interpersonal relationships around the main character.

There is a tiny bit of a romance in this book with Angel and a Detective Marcus Ivanov. Rowland does a great job throughout most of the book to leave you guessing whether Detective Ivanov is actually on Angel’s side or will out to get her. I would have loved more interaction with the attractive detective she starts crushing on but I feel like if I keep reading the series I’ll get what I want. Meaning, I think he will be Angel’s love interest. 

I do have to label this book with a few trigger warnings besides the pill-popping and alcohol abuse. There is a heavy scene where her father gets violent with her. There are also flashbacks of her mother physically abusing her when she was younger. They are detailed but do only last a few pages total.

Overall I wasn’t completely in love and obsessed with this story from the beginning but was pleasantly surprised by how much I did enjoy it. It had a weird pace but an interesting main character as well as side characters. It wasn’t as comically absurd as I was hoping but was still funny and witty at times. Solid three stars out of five and worth continuing the series. 

Definitely a good book to pair with DISAPPEARING NIGHTLY by Laura Resnick. We’ll be reviewing that next week. Stay tuned.

Let’s talk trying to get words down while one’s country is extremely some, well, problems.

Doomscrolling is a thing. A very bad but very strong factor in procrastinating for me it seems. For those who don’t know what doomscrolling is, let me explain. Doomscrolling is when something bad happened or is about to or even, happens in a continual loop like say, a pandemic and you can not stop hitting refresh on social media or the news. Last week was a lot of doomscrolling for me. I tried to break myself of it and succeeded a few times but still, it eats up a good chunk of the day for no good reason.

Doomscrolling aside I was still able to hit all my goals, even if just barely. To refresh the readers, the average word goal per day for #onemillionwords 2021 is 2740. I’ve been writing anywhere between 2745 and 2750. I’m happy I’m on track but I do wish I had been able to bank a bit more words. I’m confident I’ll be able to do so moving forward, barring any big world events that might trigger my doomscrolling once more. It’ll probably happen, but here’s hoping. It seems like 2020 just came back to the party wearing a different hat and a fake mustache.

My total as of now is 41,658. I am in no way complaining about this number!

My goal for the end of the month, though, is 108,500. I’ve got a bit of catching up to do. The actual month goal is 84940. The reason mine is so much higher is because I’m in the middle of house hunting with my husband who works full time and goes to school part time. Basically, what the means is I’m house hunting, at least until we hit spring break.

That alone has been exhausting, especially with the many restrictions put in place because of COVID. Once we find the house, it’ll only be the beginning of it all. Moving takes a lot of time and energy which means during that time, whenever it is, I probably will be lucky to get down one or two hundred words down at most. Then there’s the whole unpacking stage. We’re going from a two-bedroom apartment to a 3-4 bedroom house so it’ll be a whole ordeal.

That said, the only reason I feel confident still is because of the great community that has formed around #onemillionwords. I was half expecting a sudden drop after the first week, which I’ve found is normal in most online communities no matter how long they have been around. Usually, a handful of people keep somewhat active but that’s about it. I have always come and gone from every single one I’ve been apart of. Sometimes I’m active all day and sometimes I’m not seen for a week.

I’m still a little hit or miss in the community but I’ve noticed I’ve been a lot more engaged overall. Not sure why. Maybe the adrenaline rush from taking on a large challenge like this is still pumping strong in my veins. Or maybe, Charlie just struck internet gold and brought together the right people to start this community. Either way, something is working right. I’ve stayed engaged. Even not meeting my personal goals, which usually takes the wind right out of my sails, hasn’t deterred me from continuing.

That being said, an update on each project.

  • CHAINED HEAVENS – All the titles here are working titles. Some I’ve grown to really like and some, well, I’ll be happy when I think of something better. This is one of them. I’ll workshop better names later and deal with it for now. CHAINED HEAVENS is a high fantasy collection of short stories that I’ve been working on for the better part of two years. I have a few stories planned out and am very close to finishing my first one of 2021. It’s getting close to the 10k mark and will probably be over by the time it’s finished but that’s okay. I always have to remind myself with these short stories, like how I write during NaNoWriMo, half of that is filler and can be cut. One thing that has been helping me plan out future stories is DnDBeyond.com. The monster guides are great inspirations for figuring out what my main character’s next adventure will be. My favorite at the moment is a little demon called a Cackler. They aren’t the biggest or toughest but when they die they release a laugh that scars the minds of every creature nearby. In actual D&D, the DC to succeed is pretty low, only an 11, but it’s a great idea to play with.
  • Blog posts for Vox et Liber. So far so good. I’m bad at thinking up topics so I have been sticking to a Tuesday and Friday update schedule for now. Tuesday, book review. Friday, #onemillionwords update. Easy so far and it’s been kicking me in the backside to actually read my very large TBR pile instead of just looking at it. Right now I’m reading WINTERSONG by S. Jae-Jones. After that is Jim C. Hines newest TAMORA CARTER: GOBLIN QUEEN. Thinking I might start posting polls on what to read and review next. It’ll help me decide in a timely manner as well as let my readers have a bit of say in what they read about.
  • CLOAKED RITES – I’ve rewritten this one story five times, not including the rewrite I’m working on now. It’s been fully finished twice. Got changed from being a single novella to a novella trilogy to a full-length novel. Now, it’s a novel trilogy. I know where I’m going with this story considering I’ve written it five times but it hasn’t been sparking as much excitement as it has in the past. I still love the story and want to finish it but I have a feeling to get excited for it once more I need to do that dreaded thing they call outlining. I also realized about halfway through last week that after having written about 4k words in 3rd person specific that it works so much better in 1st person. That was a joy to figure out and might have also been some of the reason it’s been like trudging through mud trying to write it.
  • The Stormblood Saga Series – This is also one that’s been rewritten a few times. This is the fourth time I am rewriting it. I realized quickly with the first draft that I jumped into the middle of the storyline and a storyline that’s supposed to build up over time to something big. I started with something big and big enough it would disrupt the characters’ lives forever. Not a great start for what was supposed to be a long series. So, the plot got reworked. A lot. Now, I am so much happier with it and my characters in general. I also forgot how much I miss writing them, especially the main character Merranyssa. Her interacting, against her will, with her father’s side of the family or really anything Fae is hilarious every time. This is one of the few projects I have where I’ve been able to pump in more words than just the bare minimum.
  • THE DANGEROUS LIES OF A PERPETUALLY SINGLE WEREWOLF – I love this title and will fight tooth and nail to keep it for publication. This is the other project where I’ve been able to make decent sized dents in. Who doesn’t like the fake/pretend relationship trope? Especially when they’re best friends trying to keep the other safe even if it’s from their well-meaning but completely out of touch relatives. It’s been fun to write especially since I’ve never been a fan of the stoic Werewolf characters that are often written in media today. Wolves in general, are derpy as all hell. They love to play and run and fake fight each other. There’s no reason that Werewolves wouldn’t be the same way. Add in a little bit of intelligent thinking and they’d be getting into entertaining trouble 24/7.
  • The Keeper Chronicle Series – This one I’ve been warring with a bit back and forth. Somedays I’ve been able to get a lot down and other days, not so much. This series stemmed from a short story I wrote for a horror anthology. After it was done and off to the editor I realized, I wanted to explore this world more. I’ve been working on the world that CLOAKED RITES and the Stormblood Saga Series are both in for thirteen years, the world of the NightOthers. Hell, even longer if one counts the time it was set in a high fantasy world that was a combination of a bunch of books I read in high school. So, the KC series is a breath of fresh air. Even still, I’ve stalled a bit on where to go next. The original short story was just that, a short story. It was complete as it was. Continuing it has been harder than I thought but the challenge is what makes it worth doing.

Overall, #onemillionwords 2021 is still going well. I’ll feel a bit better about it all once I have a month’s worth of words banked for when I enviable go crazy from house hunting. It’s easy to do in the area we’re looking in. 250k could get you an amazing 3/4 bedroom house in a beautiful rural neighborhood or a murder house. There are no in-betweens and to add salt to the wound, it’s considered a low inventory time which means good luck. Just, good luck.

The same thing goes for all those participating in #onemillionwords 2021. It’s a crazy thing to try and accomplish. There’s a good chance you’ll turn in your last sanity token before the year is out but it will be worth it. Just like getting a house of your own during a pandemic to escape your upstairs neighbors who you swear bowls every day for sixteen hours straight. It’s just like trying to write a million words in one year. Wild but worth it.

Nicole Peeler, an urban fantasy author and current professor at Seton Hill University, is one to add to your ‘Instant Pre-order’ lists if she isn’t already on it.

Back in the early 2010s, I found her Jane True series, having picked it up because the first book’s cover is gorgeous and because the main character has the same name as one of a family friend and ex-babysitter of mine. So partially ‘oh pretty’ and partially happy nostalgia.

I remember standing in the fantasy aisle at Barnes and Noble, holding this book and just staring at the cover. It sounded like it could be a great series. It sounded like it was exactly the type of book I should enjoy, that I should devour but like any new unknown book I picked, I at least hoped it was baseline good. It is not uncommon for me to be taken in by a pretty cover or a witty title. As someone with ADHD, I have no focus left in my day for reading the synopsis of a book. I go off visuals. This has backfired in my face many times but still, I do it.

So yes, I stood there hoping a moment before saying ‘screw it’ and just buying it. TEMPEST RISING, the first in that series did not disappoint. Neither did the second book, TRACKING THE TEMPEST.

The main character was great and the world was beyond interesting. There was only one thing I wasn’t the biggest fan of; the love interest. He was not for me and was the reason it took me a year to pick up the third book in the series but I am beyond happy that I did. The love interest was downgraded to a close friend, which looking back was a really good element of the story considering Jane is supposed to grow from a newbie supernatural to a powerhouse. It made sense to have her outgrow some relationships. From there I blew through the series, realizing I didn’t dislike the character Ryu, the first love interest, just the lag it brought to her character.
So, I already knew that Nicole Peeler could pull off great, well-balanced stories. That fact is even more evident in her book, JINN AND JUICE.

JINN AND JUICE introduced Lyla; a belly dancing, kickass heroine who is also a Jinn. Originally born a human in ancient Persia, Lyla made a deal with a very powerful Jinn, Kouros, to help her escape an arranged marriage. In exchange, she was turned into a Jinn for a thousand years. After a thousand years, if she is Unbound at the time, Lyla will turn human once more. If she was Bound, she’d stay a Jinn for another thousand years and Lyla was very decidedly against that.

In this world, Jinn can be Bound by any human Magi that finds or Calls them. Free will is only ever temporary for them.

Also, turning Lyla into a powerful cosmic being like Kouros did get himself imprisoned for all of time by his own kind somewhere very, very far into the Sideways. The Sideways is what Peeler calls another dimension. It’s where a lot of the supernatural beings are from and live. Think the Feywild, if you play D&D or a magically oversaturated Narnia.

Enter Oz, a Magi who only recently learned about the supernatural side of the world, being only half Magi and he needs help. Specifically the help of a Bound Jinn in finding a kidnapped girl, Tamina from a Magi tribe he spent time with. Thus he finds Lyla and binds her. She is royally pissed because, at the time of Oz binding her, the curse is only days away from being broken.

Now they have to fight against her curse’s clock to find Tamina. Then Oz says he’ll free her but all her masters beforehand were horrible, why would he be any different.
If you’ve read paranormal romance before, you know how this one is going to turn out but the book is still well worth reading.

First, I want to say that it was a simple read with great action and an even easier to follow but immensely enjoyable storyline. This is the exact type of book one needs to get through a pandemic. They are the perfect read to keep a happy streak going. It’s light-hearted in parts and never takes itself terribly seriously. Not every book, especially fantasy books, has to have a great big dark plot with sinister creatures lurking at every turn. Some books and this is a wild idea, can just be fun.

Peeler has a great imagination of taking mythical creatures and making them human, likable, and still very interesting. Lyla and Jinn in general are perfect examples of that. Also, all of Lyla’s supernatural friends are great examples of this as well with one even being a Willow the Wisp which one does not often see in urban fantasy. This book is a great example of giving the main character some great friends with even greater personalities. Lyla is not the only character that can stand on their own.

I just want to say just how interesting her side characters are. Each one is either a very imaginative supernatural creature or has a background that just begs to be revisited, like Charlie. I want a book just about Charlie. Charlie is a side character that you learn very early on was once human as well like Lyla but now, well it’s complicated. It’s a great example of bringing a point home without hammering it into your reader’s head. Look at these two crazy, old, and supernaturally screwed kids. Watch as they get on in the human world. When Lyla is unable to give us added perspective about the duality Charlie is there to take it on without dragging the plot or pace down.

Peeler has a great gift for writing extremely vivid character(s?). None fall into the wet cardboard category. A lot of urban fantasy, I’ve noticed in recent years, relies on the one-dimensional side characters to stroke the main character’s ego or be a cheerleader. Lyla’s friends are just as fleshed out as herself. Peeler put a lot of thought into each one before starting the book. Or maybe it comes naturally.

I loved Jinn and Juice dearly but to be honest, it wasn’t quite as good as her Jane True series. My opinion might be getting colored by the fact that it’s only a standalone book and I really, really want to know more about Lyla, Charlie, and the rest of them. If expanded into a full series I would be pre-ordering the sequels the minute the link went live.

Overall, it’s a great read and a great palate cleanser when dealing with the world at large. It’s enjoyable beginning, middle, and end.