Tag Archives: authors

Writer’s Digest: Copyediting Certification Course Review

Over the last several years, I’ve come to realize that I really enjoy helping other writers with their developmental and copy edits, so much so that I’ve considered making a career out of it. But I wondered how to go about it. Did I need a degree to be a professional editor? Or take a class or workshop? How did I learn the required skills? Just as I was considering how to pursue this career path, I got an email from Writers Digest: a Copyediting Certification Course.

Now, I’m not really a religious person or don’t believe in manifestation or anything like that, but I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a sign from the universe that I had to take this course. A workshop for something I was striving to do was literally staring me in the face. How could I say no? So, I bit the bullet and decided to enroll in the course, and thought I’d give a review.

Price: $800 USD
Instructor: Kim Catanzarite
Length: 10 Weeks

Initial Thoughts:

After signing up for the program, which required me to immediately pay the $800 fee, I waited until the start date, which was May 16th. I logged into the course first thing that morning and noticed a few things right away:

The first is that it’s an entirely self-study course that you have to read. There are no instructional or follow-along videos in the course. If you’re someone who is an audio learner, this course has no audio in it.

The course runs for ten weeks. Every week we were required to complete a writing and grammar assignment, which had to be turned in every Sunday. There were no letter grades (A,B,C, etc…) for this course, and only “Complete” or “Incomplete” grades. I do not know what the repercussions would be if you never completed the assignments at all.

Due to be it being a self-study course, I did notice that quite a few students read ahead and moved onto the next sections faster than other students. Again, there were no repercussions for doing this. The lessons were not locked behind any kind of start date or time. You could move onto the next lesson after completing the one you were already on.

There was also a discussion board at the bottom of every lesson page, so the instructor and students could communicate with each other if they had any questions or concerns. The website itself was easy to navigate, and I never had any issues figuring my way around.

The Lessons:

The lessons were broken down into different parts, gradually increasing in difficulty as the course went along. The first several lessons consisted of a refresher of basic grammar: covering phrases and clauses, and the eight parts of speech. Eventually, the lessons moved onto things like: different kinds of paragraphs, tools of the trade, and how to get real life experience as a copyeditor.

The lessons themselves were easy to navigate and organized into well-structured parts. I never found myself getting lost on the website, or confused about where to find the answers if I needed to look back on previous lessons. Likewise, the instructor did a very good job of explaining every piece of information and giving adequate examples of what was being learned that day. I never had to google for a better explanation.

At the end of the course, which I completed on August 8th, there is a final test which you must take. The test consisted of 50 multiple choice questions, and you had to score an 84% or higher to pass. You were allowed to take the test five times. I do not know what would happen if you failed the test all five times.

Final Thoughts:

While I did enjoy the course and found it helpful, I did not find that there were nearly enough exercises to really help drill the knowledge into my brain. I am someone who learns by repetition, and I didn’t think there was enough of it in this course. As soon as I was finished with that week’s lesson and logged off, I would not look at the course until the next week.

I really think this course could’ve benefitted from a printable workbook that the students could’ve used at home. At least, for me, something like that would’ve really helped me continue to hone my skills and practice being a copyeditor. I did not think the writing and grammar exercises were enough to help me learn. I am finding myself in a position now that, if I want to really practice, I will have to reach out to fellow friends and writers to let me see their work and edit it for them. But without an instructor to grade my work, I find there is no way to discover if I’ve made mistakes. I think the course could’ve also benefited from this – some kind of final “paper” where the students had to copyedit ten pages of a book and turn it in.

However, one of the benefits is that the course is always available to me now. Whenever I log onto writersonlineworkshop.com, I can always go through the course and look back at the information. The instructor also included a PDF of the course, which is available to download.

In my honest opinion, I would’ve sliced the price in half and charged $400 instead. Or maybe even $600. But I don’t think it was worth a full $800.

I would give the course three stars. ★★★☆☆

All this said, I do not feel deterred from continuing to try other Writers Digests workshops, and I would definitely give them a shot.


Have you tried any writing workshops? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

Writing Advice I Wish I’d Learned Sooner

I’ve been writing almost consistently for fifteen years now. Once I realized I could put my ideas down on paper, I’ve never been able to stop. The last fifteen years of my writing journey have been a whirlwind of learning my process, learning the writing craft, getting involved in the writing community, and so much more. But in all that time, there are three things I wish I’d known before I ever started on my writing and publishing journey. If I could go back in time and tell my younger self these three pieces of writing advice, I absolutely would.

So, what three pieces of advice do I wish I’d learned?

1.) Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
2.) Read – and Read a Lot
3.) Writing is Rewriting

I’m sure you’ve heard these pieces of writing advice before. But when I first started writing, we didn’t have the internet to look up common writing advice, or search Youtube for “newbie author mistakes”, and so on. Through trial and error, I made huge writing mistakes, but had I known these three tips beforehand, I’m sure I could’ve avoided them – and I want to help you avoid them, too!

1.) Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

This tip isn’t just limited to writing. You’ve probably heard it in regards to many different areas of life. But for me, it really means one thing: Don’t put all your hopes and dreams into one story idea.

I wrote my first novel when I was twelve, and fell head over heels in love with the idea. So much so that it took over my entire writing life. I rewrote that first novel – from scratch – about eleven times. I queried it endlessly. I even wrote the sequels. And as you can imagine, my journey through the query trenches resulted in…nothing. No response, no literary agent.

I finally had to trunk it.

But this led me down a path of wondering what to write next. Sure, I had other ideas in my head, but for the last almost ten years of my life, I had only pursued that one novel. I’d never branched out, never written another idea. I didn’t even know if I was capable of writing another novel.

But I was.

It was a very long and hard journey in teaching myself how to write another book. While I don’t regret rewriting that novel over and over again – it definitely helped me develop my own process and a writing habit – the anxiety, depression, and overwhelming sense of failure of not knowing if I was capable of writing another book is something I wouldn’t want to wish on any writer out there.

Remember: just because you have to put your project aside and work on something else, it doesn’t mean you’re giving up. Put all of your heart and soul into the book you’re writing, but don’t limit yourself to that one idea. You do have other ideas inside of you, and you are capable of writing them.

2.) Read – and Read a Lot

If you haven’t read my “How Reading Made Me a Better Writer” blog post, I’ll link it here, as it goes more in-depth on what I want to touch on for this tip.

I’d been an avid reader most of my life. It wasn’t until I hit my late teens and early twenties that I suddenly lost my love of reading. I wanted to read, but nothing on the shelf caught my interest. I wasn’t interested in fantasy either, which had become widely popular. I was only reading – maybe – a couple of books a year.

It wasn’t until one day that I realized I wasn’t “leveling up” as a writer. My writing reached a level where it wasn’t improving. I didn’t know the popular tropes and clichés, or why some books were bestsellers and others weren’t. I realized that if I wanted to be a professional writer, and have a life in this business, that I needed to bust my butt and actually pick up reading again.

So I did.

And I vastly improved in so many ways. From my writing craft, to my knowledge of the interest – everything about me and my writing improved. Since then, I’ve become an avid reader once again, and I read several books a month now. Reading can do so much for you, not as just a wonderful hobby, but

As Stephen King says, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”

3.) Writing is Rewriting

For the longest time I never understood this concept:

“What do you mean I have to rewrite the book?”
“I just finished the first draft. You mean I have to write everything all over again?”

Those – and other misconceptions – wracked my brain whenever I heard this piece of writing advice. But guess what? It’s true.

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to write your entire book from scratch, like I’d been led to believe. What this really means is that the first draft of anything you write will be crap. It will have awkward phrasing and prose, character motivations might not be clear, the dialogue might be stilted and awkward, crucial descriptions might be missing…and the only way to fix these issues to rewrite what you’d already written.

But having all of that in your first draft doesn’t make you a bad writer. Every writer in the history of writers has had to revise their books. It’s just part of the process.
When I first started writing, I didn’t understand this. I thought my first drafts were fine after a little reread and some editing – but I was very wrong.

Every novel needs time to sit after you’ve finished writing it. Every writer needs to come back to their project with a clear mind, so they can see what is and isn’t working within the manuscript, and that’s why getting feedback from outside sources is so important, too.

This is a concept I wish I’d understood years ago. If I’d known this sooner and given my earlier manuscripts time to sit and get feedback on them – and then give them the revisions they deserve – I wonder how much of a better chance I’d have had at hooking a literary agent. This is one piece of advice I’ve had to learn the hard way, but I’m so glad I understand it now.

Learning these three pieces of writing advice have helped me tremendously, and I hope they help you too!


Have any other pieces of writing advice you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

Questions to Ask Beta Readers (My List)

Since we talked all about beta readers a few weeks ago, today, I thought I’d share my list of questions that I send out to my own betas. When I was first looking for betas back in the end of February, I came up with this list, and have been sending it out each time I enlist a beta. I find this list touches on everything that will help me as a writer know what needs to be fixed.

The important thing is to make sure you’re asking clear, concise questions that betas can answer easily. If you need more feedback based on something within the world, or a character, be sure to ask more detailed questions regarding that certain subject.

Note: This list is tailored to my own tastes and what I’m looking for betas to answer. Feel free to copy this list and switch it up to meet your own needs!

#1: Did you notice any obvious repeating grammatical, spelling, punctuation, or capitalization errors? Examples?
#2: Is there anything about the world-building that doesn’t make sense and could use elaboration? If so, please explain.
#3: Did the setting interest you? Was the world vivid in your imagination?
#4: Did the story hold your interest from the very beginning? Why or Why not?
#5: Were there any parts that confused you?
#6: Did you notice any inconsistencies? If so, where/what?
#7: Were there any spots where the story lagged or you lost interest? If so, why and where?
#8: Were there any scenes that bored you or had you skipping pages? Why?
#9: Was there enough conflict, tension, and intrigue to hold your interest?
#10: Were any parts of the plot predictable?
#11: What grabbed your attention most?
#12: Were you confused by the multiple POV’s?
#13: Who was your favorite POV? Why?
#14: Who was your least favorite POV? Why?
#15: What was your favorite and least favorite part of the book?
#16: Did the climax feel climactic, was the payoff in the end worth reading the whole book?
#17: Was the end satisfying?
#18: If this book were part of a series, would you pick up the sequel?
#19: What was your immediate thought after finishing the book?
#20: Lastly, why did you keep reading?
Bonus Question: Is there any way I can repay you for taking your valuable time to read my work? I am available to return the favor of a beta read as well!


What do you think of this list? Are you going to use it the next time you’re looking for betas? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

August Recap 2019

To be honest, I don’t have too much to say about August. Oh…except that I got engaged! My (now) fiancé and I went on a little vacation at the beginning of the month, and he popped the question! Of course, I said yes, but I am so excited! We’ve already begun planning the wedding, and I am finding myself overwhelmed. There is so much to planning a wedding that I didn’t even think about.

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What I Wrote:

After much debate, I decided to trunk my YA thief novel. I’d lost momentum and inspiration, and found myself uninterested in working on it anymore. As much as I didn’t want to, I had to listen to what my mind was saying. It was pointless to force myself to write something I wasn’t passionate about anymore.

That said, I did start writing my Foreign Princess WIP, and am currently 18,000 words in! I’m aiming for at least 70k – 80k for this one, and so far, it’s going well!

What I Read:

Total: 4

Wilder Girls by Rory Power ★★★☆☆

I was so eager to read this book and anxiously awaited its arrival. There were so many things about this book that I was loving: survival of the fittest, deadly diseases, mutation – all of it was great. This book should’ve been a five stars from me.
And then the ending came.

While I don’t want to spoil it, the only real thing I can say is that there was hardly any resolution. Almost none of the questions brought up in the beginning were answered. The book ended on a very weird note, and I haven’t heard any confirmation that the author will be writing a sequel. If this remains a standalone novel, I will be very disappointed.

I’ll Never Tell by Abigail Haas ★★★☆☆

I am so torn on how I feel about this book. The novel follows Anna, a high school senior who goes on vacation with her friends. When one of her friends is murdered, Anna is to blame. The novel jumps between different timelines – detailing Anna’s life in school before the vacation, the events during the vacation, and then Anna as she is detained in prison while awaiting trial.

There was so much I loved about this. It was a great read, and I read almost all of it in one sitting. But much like Wilder Girls, once I got to the end, I was stunned at the twist. While it got me totally off guard, there were a lot of loose ends. While I really enjoyed this book, I don’t know if I would read it again.

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan ★★★☆☆

I wanted to love this book – and I was. I loved the characters, the world, the magic, the atmosphere – everything about this book pulled me in from the very beginning. And then: the end came. The end of this book felt very rushed; many things were left unanswered, certain magic rules set in place suddenly flew out the window. This was the kind of book that I loved reading in the moment, but once I put it down, I started to notice a lot of inconsistencies within the plot.

Likewise, after every book I finish reading, I read other people’s reviews to see if they felt the same way I did. In reading and watching reviews of this book, many things were brought to my attention regarding discrepancies within the plot, the world, the characters, and with the author herself. It’s clear that the author borrowed many ideas from other source material – which, while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since many authors do the same – the fact that so many different reviewers noticed almost plagiarized ideas made me feel a little uneasy.

All this said, I did enjoy this book enough to pick up the sequel. Considering this is the author’s debut novel, I’m willing to look past some of the issues and give her a second chance.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig ★★★★☆

I really, really enjoyed this book. Craig’s debut novel is a dark fantasy retelling of the classic fairytale Twelve Dancing Princesses. There was so much about this book from the characters, world-building and writing that I really enjoyed. I read 130 pages of this book in one sitting, and when I picked it up again, I could not put it down!

The only reason I’m not giving it five stars are because of a few little, nit-picky things that I can’t mention without spoiling the whole book. But otherwise, I highly recommend picking this one up!

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What I’m Watching:

The fiancé and I finished watching Dragon Ball Z Super, which we loved. I’ve been watching The Originals more as well, but as of right now, we have no idea what to watch together as a couple! Any recommendations?

Currently Reading:

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How I Did: August Goals

At the beginning of August, I gave myself several goals:

• Finish revising adult fantasy WIP
• Finish writing YA Thief Idea
• Send adult fantasy back out to beta readers
• Create blog schedule for September and October
• Start writing YA Foreign Princess Idea
• Start plotting new adult fantasy romance idea
• Research literary agents
• Revise query letter for adult fantasy WIP

I’m happy to say that I completed five and a half of these goals!

For starters, I not only finished revising my adult fantasy WIP, but I also sent it out to beta readers! I even researched literary agents and revised my query letter. It still needs work, but I’ve got a good start! I also created my blog schedule for September and already have them my posts scheduled and ready to go. And as I mentioned above, I started writing my Foreign Princess WIP! All in all, I feel pretty good about the goals I accomplished last month.

September Goals:

• Finish writing Foreign Princess WIP
• Organize list of literary agents
• Get submission materials ready for Pitch Wars
• Submit to Pitch Wars
• Plot out adult fantasy WIP sequel


How was everyone’s August? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

The 101 on Beta Readers (And Where to Find Them)

One of the most important steps in an author’s writing journey is getting feedback on their work. No matter if you’ve written your first draft or your tenth, feedback is always valuable. As authors, we are so close to our own work that it can be difficult to catch mistakes – whether they be plot holes, character inconsistencies, or pacing. This is where having a beta reader comes in.

Critique Partners and Beta Readers

Critique Partners

A critique partner – or CP, for short – is a fellow writer on the same journey as you. Unlike beta readers, who will be reading the work as a whole, a CP will help you look at your work on a more personal level. They’ll help you spot plot holes, character and world inconsistencies, help you brainstorm ideas, and so much more. With your CP, they’ll not only be looking at your own work with a close eye, but you’ll also be looking at their work as well.

It’s both polite, and common curtesy, to give back what you receive. Don’t be a bad CP and take their feedback without giving some of your own!

More often than not, by gaining a CP, you also gain a friendship. Having someone in your corner who roots for you every step of the way is so helpful in the writing process.

Beta Readers

Beta readers – or simply known as betas – can be writers themselves, or just people who love to read. Unlike CP’s, who will most likely know your book inside and out, a beta will go into your book with fresh eyes, unknowing what awaits inside, much like a reader would if they picked your book off the shelf.

A betas feedback is beneficial, as they’ll tell you how they felt about the book as a whole. Did they like the story? Did it grip them the entire way through? Were there any parts where the pacing dragged? These are all things betas will be able to point out to you. They’ll be able to tell where the weakest and strongest parts of the novel are in a way that the writer – who’s so close to the project – can’t always see.

While you can enlist family and friends to be beta readers for you, it’s best to find someone who has an unbiased opinion of you and your work. Your family and friends most likely won’t be honest with their feedback, in an attempt not to hurt your feelings, so finding someone who can lay on the hard truths about your work is more beneficial to your growth as a writer.

NOTE: A beta reader and CP are in no way obligated to do any editing for your novel. Don’t expect them to do line edits, copy edits, developmental edits, etc…unless you and your CP or beta have specifically agreed to exchange any type of editing for one another.

But How Do You Find Them?

The only way to find beta readers and critique partners is to get involved in the Writing Community. I find Twitter in particular to be the easiest place to meet writers, but there are plenty of other places, too.

Twitter Hashtags and Chats:

• #amwriting
• #amreading
• #amrevising
• #amediting
• #WritingCommunity
• #AngstySquares
• #MuseMon
• #1lineWed
• #StorySocial (Every Wednesday at 8pm CST)
• #Chance2Connect (The second Tuesday of every month at 8pm CST)
• #WritersPatch (Every Sunday at 10am CST)

Facebook Groups:

Free Beta Readers, Free Critiques, and Paid Editors
Professional Beta Readers
Beta Readers & Critiques
Writers Helping Writers
Writers, Beta Readers, Critique, Advice, Writing Exercise & Rainbows!
First Chapter Critique Group

Reddit:

BetaReadit
Beta Readers

NOTE: I’ve also heard that Goodreads is an excellent place to find beta readers, but I’ve personally never tried it. I’ve found all of my beta readers and CP’s from Twitter.

When Should You Start Looking?

You can start looking for beta readers whenever you feel ready, but it’s important to do so BEFORE looking for a literary agent, editor, or attempting to publish. It’s also recommend that your draft is as clean as possible before sending it to betas. You want them to focus on the STORY – not the grammar and spelling mistakes inside.

A good beta reader can catch many of the mistakes as I’ve mentioned above, and many of these things can be fixed with a few rounds of revisions. No matter if you’re looking to traditional or self-publish, you always want to have your manuscript as good as you can get it. Having a manuscript littered with easily fixable mistakes will not only bring rejection, but often, more work for an editor (who will only charge you more for their time, if you’ve hired a freelance editor).

What Should You Ask?

The more specific you are, the better the feedback will be. Give your betas something to look for or keep in mind while they’re reading. Here’s some examples from my own beta reader questionnaire that I sent with my last WIP:

• Is there anything about the world-building that doesn’t make sense or needs elaboration?
• Did the setting interest you? Was the world vivid in your imagination?
• Did the story hold your interest from the very beginning? Why or why not?
• Were there any spots where the story lagged or you lost interest? If so, why and where?
• Were there any scenes that bored you or had you skipping pages? Why?
• Was there enough conflict, tension, and intrigue to hold your interest?
• Were any parts of the plot predictable?
• What grabbed your attention most?

Feel free to be as detailed or simple with your questions as you see fit!

How Many Beta’s Do You Need?

As many as you think you do! There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, but my personal advice would be to secure ten beta readers, at least!

The reason I say this is because you want a wide variety of people to look at your manuscript. Everyone will come at it with a different opinion and take on what they get out of the story. With ten different pieces of feedback from ten different people, it can be easier to pinpoint what is and isn’t working.

Example:

If you have ten beta readers and eight of them finish the book saying they LOVED the ending, but two said they were disappointed, whose feedback do you agree with? But if eight beta readers say they hated the ending, and two say they loved it, what do you do then?

If a majority of beta readers come to the same conclusion on what aspect of your story isn’t working (Act I dragged, this character fell flat, they loved the ending, etc…) more often than not, they’re right. If one or two beta out of ten mention, it could be their personal opinion.

It’s also beneficial to have a larger number of beta readers in case someone doesn’t finish. People are very busy, and even though people may commit to read your work, not everyone always sees it through. Make sure you have enough betas that if someone does stop reading, then you’ll still have plenty of feedback to work with!

What To Look For in a Beta Reader

Familiarity in Your Genre

You’ll want to find someone who actively reads what you write. For example, if you’re writing an epic fantasy complete with sword fights and dragons, but give your manuscript to someone who has never picked up a fantasy book in their life – well, their feedback might not be the best.

You want to find someone who would be in your target audience.

Honesty

Finding someone who can be brutally honest is the next thing to look for. It may sting at first, but you’ll have to grow a thick skin. Find someone who won’t sugar coat things.

How to Work With a Beta Reader

Develop a Thick Skin

To be a writer, you have to have thick skin. It’s just the way the profession goes. You will face rejection every step of the way, and working with betas readers will be no different.
The beta reader stage is all about whipping your manuscript into shape. It’s about fixing everything you can’t see with your own eyes. A beta reader’s job is to judge your manuscript, not you.

Ask Questions

As I mentioned above, asking questions is so important. By asking detailed questions and getting detailed answers back, you can see where your manuscript will need the most work.

Analyze Their Feedback

Once you get your feedback, it may take a while to digest. I recommend reading all of it and letting it stew in your mind for a couple of days before trying to make changes. Having betas also gives you a chance to step away from the manuscript. Take a step back and really think about what they’ve said, why they’ve said, and if they’re right.

NOTE: Beta readers are not always right. Take everything they say with a grain of salt. Remember, this is still your work, and you can choose to agree or disagree.

Swap

I personally think the best way you can pay a beta reader back is by offering to beta read for them in return. Betas take time out of their lives to read your work, and returning the favor is one of the best things you can do. When I enlisted my beta readers, I offered to return the favor to every one of them.

At the end of the day, having beta reader’s feedback is one of the most valuable things you can have as a writer. Beta readers help to make your story stronger, and help you grow as a writer. It’s important not to skip this step in your writing process!


How do you work with beta readers? Are these tips helpful? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

Anticipated Book Releases (September and October 2019)

I think this is my longest list yet for anticipated book reads! Seriously, there are so many good books coming out in September and October, and I am so excited to get my hands on them!


September

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Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin – September 3rd
I love, love the sound of this book, and I’m such a sucker for witches.

We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund – September 3rd
I don’t normally read books like this, but this one is really calling to me.

The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young – September 3rd
I never read this authors first book, Sky in the Deep, but I heard really good things about it. This book sounds lovely!

A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth – September 10th
This one sounds so interesting, and I’m really looking forward to it.

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Seeker by Kim Chance – September 10th
I read the first book Keeper, so I can’t wait to see how this duology ends!

The Nanny by Gilly MacMillan – September 10th
You know I love thrillers, and this one is no exception! It sounds so creepy.

What Rose Forgot by Nevada Barr – September 17th
This one sounds so unique and I love it! I can’t wait!

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave – September 19th
This one sounds unique, and I love stories with sisters.

The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring – September 24th
I’ve really been in the mood to read something creepy, and I have a feeling this one will sate that craving I have!

October

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Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo – October 1st
I’ve read almost all of Leigh Bardugo’s works so far, so I’m really excited to see what she has in store for this new book, especially since it’s not YA. It doesn’t quite sound like my cup of tea, but I’ll still be picking it up.

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky – October 1st
I cannot wait for this one! Like I said, I’m really wanting a creepy read, and this one sounds perfect for that.

The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen – October 1st
Another creepy, haunting book. What can I say?

One Night Gone by Tara Lakowski – October 1st
I love, love the sound of this one!

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Shadow Frost by Coco Ma – October 1st
I love Princess and court intrigue, so this one is right up my alley.

The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy – October 1st
I love the premise of using memories as currency, and I think this one has a ton of promise!

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher – October 1st
Another creepy book that I am in the mood for. October can’t come fast enough!

Maternal Instinct by Rebecca Bowyer – October 7th
This one sounds so, so unique, and I’m really interested to read it.

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I Know You Remember by Jennifer Donaldson – October 8th
Another thriller! I can’t help myself.

It Ends With You by S.K. Wright – October 8th
I’m a sucker for any novel that tells me I’m going to second-guess myself, and I’m really interested to see if that will be the case with this one.

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi – October 15th
I am wanting to get back into reading more sci-fi, and this one sounds perfect for doing just that.

Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon – October 29th
I love the sound of this one! It sounds so unique.

Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland – October 29th
I’m not sure what to expect with this one, but I’m excited for the ride.


Are you putting any of these books on your TBR list? Let me know!

XOXO – Devon

July Recap 2019

July has been a hard month. A lot has been going on in my personal life, and I’m finding myself both emotionally and creatively drained. On a high note, I began revising my adult fantasy romance WIP, Forbidden, and finished round one of revisions, which is amazing! But on the bad side of things, my mom had a mini-stroke and I had to take her to the hospital. She’s recovered well and luckily nothing too serious happened, but there’s still the worry of another stroke possibly happening again. On top of that, I started a new job! I’ll be working weekends, and still get several days during the week to dedicate to writing! But just between all the travel, the hospital visits, and the stress of the new job, I’m worn out. But I’m hoping I can bounce back soon!

What I Wrote:

Like I mentioned above, I finished round one of revising Forbidden. The previous draft was sitting at 128k, and I managed to cut it down to 117k! I’d still like to cut those extra 2,000 words, but I’ve made a plan on how to tackle the next few rounds of revisions. Otherwise, I really haven’t dedicated time to any of my other projects. All of my focus has been going towards these revisions instead, but I did get an idea for a new WIP that I’m very excited begin plotting.

What I Read:

Total: 8

My Sweet Audrina/Whitefern by V.C. Andrews ★☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

My Sweet Audrina ★☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Whitefern ★☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

If I could say two words to describe these books, it would be: just don’t.

Seriously.

I saw this two-in-one book on the shelf at Walmart one day and thought it sounded intriguing, so I decided to pick it up, thinking it would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, I bit off more than I could chew, and found myself spiraling into a book series I wish I’d never discovered.

The story follows seven-year-old Audrina, who after her older sister – also named Audrina – was brutally murdered, struggles to become “The First and Best Audrina” instead of “The Second and Worst Audrina”. As Audrina grows and lives her life, she uncovers the dark secrets that her family has been keeping from her. Whitefern, the sequel, follows Audrina as an adult, as she struggles to come to terms with the secrets she’s learned.

The premise itself is very interesting – but the problem is everything inside the book. It’s chock-full of melodrama, long, drawn-out scenes, and abusive themes and messages such as:

Trigger Warning:

*Hints of pedophilia
*Spousal Abuse
*Verbal and Physical Abuse
*Child Abuse
*Rape/Sexual Assault
*Misandry
*Misogyny
*Disability Abuse
*Substance Abuse
*And much more

The worst part about reading these two books is that they’ve put me in a very negative headspace, and many of the negative messages inside have burrowed their way into my brain. I definitely did not feel good or excited while reading these, and I wouldn’t recommend these books to anyone.

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The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins ★★★★☆

The Hunger Games ★★★★★
Catching Fire ★★★★☆
Mockingjay ★★★★☆

Okay, I have a dirty little secret: I’ve never read The Hunger Games. Until now. The books came out when I was in high school I think, but for some reason, I just never picked them up. Even though I’ve seen the movies and knew the plot o each book, when my boyfriend asked me to read them (since he has the box set) I said sure!

Even though I knew what was going to happen with every scene, I still found myself completely enthralled in the world of Panem. I loved the writing, the story, and found myself constantly on the edge of my seat in anticipation. I really don’t have anything negative to say about the series – except when it comes to the final book, Mockingjay. I did find Mockingjay, at times, to be rather confusing to read when it came down to the war and battle scenes, but other than that, the series was a very satisfying and fulfilling read.

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To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo ★★★☆☆

I was really loving this book, until about halfway through. Something shifted in the middle of this book. Everything about the tone, the pacing, the characters – things took a very drastic turn that I just couldn’t get behind, and I found myself growing bored as I got closer to the end. By the time I did reach the final fifty pages or so, I was skimming just to get this book over with. Unfortunately, the plot became very unrealistic and cliché towards the end, and it wasn’t my cup of tea.

I Invited Her In by Adele Parks ★★★☆☆

I didn’t hate this book, but I didn’t love it either. The writing was compelling, and I was really interested in the story. Even the twists and turns I didn’t expect! But as I was drawing closer to the end, I kept thinking there was going to be some big, mind-blowing twist, but there really wasn’t. While the story hooked me and kept me reading, I just wasn’t satisfied with the ending.

Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau ★★★★☆

This was one of my anticipated releases for this year, and it was definitely worth the hype! I loved the characters and the world, particularly the magic system – it was all so unique and interesting to read! I don’t have really any complaints about this book, other than I felt like the ending was just a tad rushed, but other than that, this was an enjoyable read! If you love fantasy romance, you should definitely pick this one up!

Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre ★★☆☆☆

I wanted to love this book, I really did. Everything about this premise sounded right up my alley. While the writing is nice and the story is fast-paced and an easy read, it felt like the author had multiple ideas that she wanted to write about, and decided to mesh them all together in this one book. Unfortunately, the difference in the ideas just didn’t work well together for me. There’s so much going on in this book, and not nearly enough time is spent developing each plot point. The ending wasn’t fulfilling, and there were multiple plot holes and subplots that felt neglected. Despite my complaints, I didn’t hate this book, but I feel like it was wildly miss-marketed. This is a really close three stars, but in the end, I just wasn’t happy with this one.

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What I’m Watching:

I finally finished The Fosters, which I was very sad to see end! My boyfriend and I also watched Netflix’s Castlevania series, which was actually pretty good, and I’m very excited for Season 3! We also finished The Tudors, which was very good, and I definitely recommend watching it. We’ve started rewatching Dragon Ball Super in preparation for the last two volumes to be released on DVD, and as always, DBZ Super is a fun time, and an amazing show.

Currently Reading:

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How I Did: July Goals

Back in July, I gave myself several goals:

• Revise adult fantasy WIP
• Finish writing YA Thief Idea
• Send adult fantasy WIP back out to readers
• Make a final decision about going back to school
• Create my blog schedule for August and September

Unfortunately, I only managed to complete one of these, which was revising my adult fantasy WIP! Since I still have a few more rounds of revision I want to complete, it probably won’t go back out to beta’s until August! I also didn’t finish writing my YA thief idea since I was so preoccupied with these revisions. I did create my August blog post schedule, but not my September one, so I guess I completed half the goal.

And then there’s the school thing. Ugh. Ever since I started posting monthly recaps, I’ve been talking about wanting to go back to school – and I did. But at this point in time, I have no debt, and I’m scared of getting into a ton of debt. Have any of you gone back to school later in life? How did that turn out?

August Goals:

• Finish revising adult fantasy WIP
• Finish writing YA Thief Idea
• Send adult fantasy back out to beta readers
• Create blog schedule for September and October
• Start writing YA Foreign Princess Idea
• Start plotting new adult fantasy romance idea
• Research literary agents
• Revise query letter for adult fantasy WIP


How was everyone’s July? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon