April is right around the corner and with that Spring. Officially Spring was the 20th of March but here at VeL live in New England. We’re lucky if it shows itself at all before May. With the changing of the seasons comes a slew of new releases in the book world. No longer do we need our comfortable stories to carry us through the cold harsh winters. Spring is the best time for some adventures. Here are the top four* titles we’re most excited to devour this spring.

DIAL A FOR AUNTIES by Jesse Q. Sutanto

We don’t usually stray from the SciFi/Fantasy genre but this book, by title alone, hooked us. It’s a murder mystery and rom-com all in one with a deep dive into Chinese-Indonesian culture. This book is about what happens when one accidentally kills their blind date like Meddelin Chan does at the beginning of DIAL A FOR AUNTIES, who then calls her meddlesome mom who in turns called Meddelin’s even more meddlesome aunties all to get rid of the body. Sound interesting enough right there but author Sutanto then goes on to add even more chaos to the mix with the dead body accidentally being shipped in a cake cooler to a billionaire’s two thousand guest wedding. 

Then Meddelin’s long-lost love from college shows up in the middle of the wedding fiasco.

The chaos and hilarity this novel promises to bring have us counting the days down until it’s on shelves. DIAL A FOR AUNTIES will be released on April 27th. 

THE INFINITY COURTS by Akemi Dawn Bowman

What if Siri or Alexa even grew to full sentience and took over our afterlife? That’s kind of what happens in Bowman’s THE INFINITY COURTS. 

Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is suddenly murdered on her way to a party. A very important party that her whole recently graduated class is planning on attending. Most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years is planning on attending. Once dead, she finds herself in a place called Infinity. Infinity is where the human consciousness goes when their physical bodies die. Sounds pretty cool, all except the fact that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used on Earth, has taken over Infinity and declared herself queen. Ophelia, if Alexa and GLaDOS had an AI love child. My guess is the cake would still be a lie in Infinity. 

Like GLaDOS, Ophelia has grand plans of eradicating human existence one and for all. 

Nami soon joins a team of rebels aimed at bringing Ophelia down, saving the humans imprisoned under her, and forcing her to reckon with her past. That line right there is so intriguing. What past does an AI need to reckon with? We’re hooked! THE INFINITY COURTS #1 will hit shelves on April 6th.

IN DEEPER WATERS by F.T. Lukens

IN DEEPER WATERS what happens when someone asks the question, “Could Pirates of the Caribbean could be gayer?” and the answer is yes. 

A young prince relies on a mysterious stranger to save him when he gets kidnapped during his coming-of-age tour. Prince Tal is a sheltered prince with forbidden magic that hasn’t been allowed to see the kingdom until now. All he wanted was a bit of adventure and two days into the tour, adventure finds them in the form of a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel. This mysterious prisoner, Athlen, forges a fast bond with the prince before leaping overboard and disappearing into the water of the open ocean. Tal thought that was the end of that but days later runs into Athlen on dry land right before Prince Tal finds himself kidnapped. His captors are held for ransom with the idea to reveal his rumored powers and start a war. Tal, with the help of Athlen, must escape in hopes of saving his family and the kingdom.

IN DEEPER WATERS is set to be published on the 20th of April and we can not wait to devour this one. 

WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD by Ciannon Smart

First, the cover of Smart’s debut novel is downright gorgeous. It’s both eye-catching and breathtaking all in one. It is the perfect cover for this Jamaican-inspired YA Fantasy novel about two enemy witches who must enter into a deadly alliance to take down a common enemy. Iraya and Jazmyne are exact opposites. Iraya has spent her whole life in a cell while Jazmyne is the Queen’s daughter. One dreams of freedom and vengeance while the other is dead set on not giving her life to strengthen her mother’s power. Like her sister had done. They band together to eliminate a mutual threat but soon find that the power is intoxicating.

Judging from all the great reviews on Goodreads from those who were lucky enough to get advanced reader copies, Smarts does an amazing job from start to finish. We can not wait to get our hands on a copy of this and devour it ourselves.

Come for the cover. Stay for the amazing world and characters of Smart’s debut novel WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD, released April 20th. Between this and IN DEEPER WATERS, it might be a good idea to take the 21st off because there’s a high chance of binge-reading until dawn with both these books.

If any of these titles interest you, remember to get your preordering game on. 

*In lieu of recent news about one of the authors, we have decided to no longer endorse their books and themselves in any way.

All links within are affiliate links and all proceeds generated from sales are used to pay authors, guest bloggers included, and to grow the company.

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Hard to believe it’s already March. It doesn’t look all that different from March last year for some of us.

For anyone curious as to what #onemillionwords is click here for the week 1 update which explains it all.

After spending a year stuck inside a 860 sq ft box of an apartment, I’ve come to some decisions. First, decision was made last May when I had decided to launch VeL to the best of my current ability. Not long after we published our first anthology, Graveyard Visits Vol 1, and for the first few weeks it was in Amazon’s top 1,000 titles for Horror Anthologies. Not bad for our first book. Next we’ve gotten a few dozen submissions which we’re still going through because we’re a small team here but it still blows me away anyone would look twice at us. Let alone, trust us with their manuscript.

It’s been a wild start but while this was all happening I was trying to find ways to better my work habits. We tried scheduling but that fell through after a week. Whiteboards, alarms, everything you could think of. It all came back to the fact that I am ADHD and I have executive disfunction and it had gotten worse during lockdown. Without concrete deadlines, I have been finding it harder and harder to get stuff out in a timely manner.

After talking it out with my husband, I called a mental health clinic and started seeing a therapist to get me back on some well needed Adderall. This time I won’t randomly decide I’m good without it, shooting myself in the foot for another ten years like I did right after college. Not everyone with ADHD needs to be medicate. I’ve learned over this past decade that I do. Think about what I’ve already accomplished without it and then double or even triple that. That’s how I am on Adderall. 

Why did I take myself off of it? It’s a long story but shortened version is I was 20, lost my pills for almost two weeks – they rolled off my desk and got lodged between my dorm room bedframe and mattress – and still did great in my classes. Figured, I didn’t need them anymore. Didn’t take into account just how structured college was, especially when you were taking 8-9 classes a semester because overachieving was the only thing to do in that dinky town.

That being said, I haven’t started on it yet and probably won’t until at least the end of April. For those who are not aware, Adderall is a very regulated med because of it’s ‘street value’. What this means is college students used to sell them all the time because for neurotypical brains, it’s like a massive energy drink straight to your heart. For people with ADHD, it’s the opposite. Because of this insurance might fight us for a few months just to fill it.

That all being said, my week of writing wasn’t as fruitful as I would have hoped. A good chunk of time and my brain power was focused on getting back into actually managing my ADHD again. Still, I wrote words. This is up on time. I’ve been able to accomplish some of my smaller goals, still wrote every day, and started outlining. That combined with still making sure I are three meals every day, showering and basic hygiene was still met, and I found time to cuddle both my cats separately. The week wasn’t 100% a success but it was more than enough for me right now.

Quick project update.

CHAINED HEAVENS – This project has been the easiest for me this whole week, which I am extremely thankful for. CH has the highest word count of all my project so being able to play a little catch up has been great. I am nowhere near where I should be in terms of word count but I’ve been slowly lessening that divide. As of today, I should be around 71k words but as of right now, I’m only at 43k. The goal is to make up the difference by end of April. By doing that I should have exactly what I need to start compiling the first volume of short stories which I will then have to find the time to edit and rewrite what needs to be before sending it off to the editor. Kind of an exciting thought to be that close to having something to show for all of this.

VeL – Like always, these are still hit or miss but I’m starting to see the curve of it getting easier. I had been lucky enough to get three posts completed with two of them going live this week and the third going live next week. If we have any downtime this weekend, I hope to get a few more pre-written and scheduled ahead of time. Trying to get better at that whole not leaving things until the last minute habit us with ADHD are known for. 

The word count, as of today, for where I’m supposed to be is just under 27k. I am at least well over halfway there with almost 16k words written. I’ll count that as a win. 

CLOAKED RITES – This project has been in a sort of stopping and starting pattern all week. It’ll probably stay like this until I can find the time to sit down and really plot it all out. I really am interested in trying the Snowflake Method but it seems like it’d take a full day to do from start to finish which needs to be scheduled for one of the days my husband is home since it’ll probably be best done with a sounding board at the ready. So, for this upcoming Monday, I have put it on my schedule to spend the day doing this instead of writing. No matter how caught up I am at that point. There’s been almost no progress to report.

The Stormbloods Saga – This is my only project that has exceeded the actual word count goal for the day. My aim for each installment when finished to be no less than 30k words and no more than 40k. I’m already at almost 18k words into the first installment and a thousand words over the daily goal. There’s at least 2k of filler in there that needs to be cut but I still feel really pleased about my progress. Also, thanks to this story I really want diner food again. It’s been too long.

DLPSW – Just over 12k in and I’ve finally gotten to the big trope in my first romance novel, the fake relationship. I’m a little behind where I should be but since I’ve passed all the setup and info dumps I have a feeling this story will start to write itself. The word count goal for today is just a touch over 17.5k which means if I really hustle in the next few weeks I could have two projects back on track or even ahead. I will say one of the hardest parts of the set up was finding a believable, more or less, way for the Werewolf pack to ‘by accident’ find out these two have been ‘dating’ and just didn’t tell anyone because of reasons. I had mapped out five possible reveals but ended up poking holes in all of them.

Finally, I just said screw it and started writing. If I write it odd or wrong, it can just be fixed with my editor at a later date. The most important thing was to just to keep the story flow going, to get words to page. Not sure who said it but a quote I try to remember often is ‘you can’t edit a blank page.’ Cliché but true.

I’ve also gotten into the habit of just glossing over scenes that I can’t get to work in the moment with a line in all caps telling me to work on this during revisions. I also try to put in a random word that I know probably won’t be written anywhere else in the project like for example, mopery. Mopery means a violation of an imaginary or trivial law. Nowhere in my manuscript will I ever actually use mopery so I put it there. That way later I can use ctrl-F and search for it.

If you think you’d like to use this method but don’t know what random obscure words to use, try wordnik.com. It’s very useful in that regard.

The Keepers Chronicles – This project is the furthest behind for many reasons. The first being, that even though I loved the characters from the first story I wrote, it was supposed to be a standalone horror short story. Now, I’m expanding and haven’t had to time to fully sit down with that idea. I’m aware now that this was short-sighted on my part when I set this all up. Next year I plan on structuring my projects very differently, having none but the major ones spanning the whole year. I’m over 10k short for this project and probably will be for a little bit until I can straighten out some of the larger word count projects.

To everyone else participating in #onemillionwords or just trying to do better this year, how’s it going? Let me know in the comments below

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