Tag Archives: motivation

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

4 Reasons to Join the Writing Community

Writing is a lonely process. Most of the time, us writers are holed up in a room, all alone, with our own thoughts, dreams, and ideas. It’s such an isolated process that it can be hard to remember there are other writers – and people like us – out there. Since joining the Writing Community two years ago, I’ve connected with so many amazing writers, and found a place where I can fully be myself.

So where do you join the community?

It’s all over the place! Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc…However, Twitter is the best place to be the most active. So many writers have accounts, as well as literary agents and publishing houses, and it’s the easiest place to interact and communicate.

But what benefits are there to joining the Writing Community?

1.) Community

There is a community full of writers out there. People who are on the same journey as you – whatever level you may be at. There are those who are writing their first novel, or their second; others who are ready to self-publish or already have. Whatever path you’re on, there will be hundreds of others just like you.

Like I said before, writing is a lonely process. But finding a community that you can connect with, where you can talk to like-minded people, makes the writing process a little less lonely.

2.) Connections

Being part of the community also means making connections with people. Other writers, editors, freelancers, critique partners, beta readers, and literary agents – they’re all people you can meet, and it’s important to get to know them.

Well, you don’t have to get to know all of them.

But making a few meaningful connections with other writers who can become your critique partners, or getting to know what an agent likes or dislikes by their tweets, can build meaningful connections that are guaranteed to help you along the way.

3.) Advice

Another amazing part of the community is learning advice from other writers, agents, and editors. So many of these writers tweet out daily writing advice, or agents will tweet things they frequently see go wrong in writer’s query letters or manuscripts.
Twitter can be a goldmine of advice.

Follow writers like Delilah S. Dawson, Susan Dennard, or V.E. Schwab for advice on writing.

4.) Platform

Whether you’re self, traditional, or small press publishing, one of the most important things you will have to do as a writer is build your author platform. By building an audience of people who are invested in you, and your work and brand, you’re already making a name for yourself in the publishing world.

Marketing is harder than ever these days, with so many markets oversaturated with products; but by ensuring you are active, and actively making connections with people, you’ll only continue to grow and build your platform. Follower count isn’t the most important thing – but building connections is.


If you’re interested in joining the community, follow along with hashtags like:

#WritingCommunity
#writingcommunity
#amwriting
#amediting
#authorlife
#writerlife

Do any of these tips help you want to join the community? How do you interact with other writers? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

June Recap 2019

Today’s my birthday! I officially turn twenty-five today, and that means I’m five years away from being thirty. Wow. It’s so hard to wrap my head around. I feel like when you’re a teenager, thinking about your twenties seem so far away, but every year just goes by faster and faster. June went by in a blur, but I’m still feeling pretty down about certain things in my life. I’m hoping July is a better month!

What I Wrote:

Back in May, I finished outlining three new projects. My original plan was to bounce between all three and work on them all simultaneously, but after more thought, I decided against doing so. I had a feeling that pushing myself to write three different stories would only both confuse me, and mess with my writing.

However, I did start writing my YA Thief idea, and it’s currently sitting at 42,000 words! I feel strongly that I’m going to hit my 80k word count goal, and while this project has been pretty hard to write, I’m falling more in love with it every day.

What I Read:

Total: 3

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon ★★★★☆

I’ve really been in the mood for a ghost story, so when I googled “ghost stories” and saw this new release on Goodreads, I just had to pick it up. The story follows Helen and Nate, a couple who are building their dream house – but little do they realize that the land they’ve bought may be haunted.

While I did really enjoy this book, I had two gripes with it: one was that it just didn’t feel spooky enough. I was hoping for a little more fright and chills, but I unfortunately didn’t get any of that. My second gripe is that it took me forever to finish this book; I normally finish a book within three-to-four days, but this took me over a week to read. I’m not sure if it was the pacing, or the fact that words were rather small and the pages really long, so my brain was tricked into believing there were more words than there actually were.

All in all, I did really enjoy the mystery and the characters within this book. If you’re looking for a ghost story that’s not too scary, then this might be the perfect book for you!

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson ★★★★☆

This is the first novel I’ve read by Margaret Rogerson, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The world and characters were rich and complex, and I love the magic system. I also loved that this was a standalone fantasy, which I don’t feel like there are enough of. My only major issues with the book (besides a few nitpicky personal things) were that the pacing felt off, and there was quite a bit of purple prose.

By the last hundred pages of this book, I kept wondering when it was going to end. While the story was amazing, I definitely felt it dragged on just a tad too long. There were also many instances of far too heavy-handed description, which would pull me out of the story. However, the ending made up for a lot of the issues I had, and this was still a really beautiful story.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman ★★★★☆

Reading Ms. Herman’s debut novel has really made me miss contemporary fantasy in the same vein of Beautiful Creatures. The writing was simplistic, yet beautiful, and I did enjoy the story and characters within the novel. There’s not much more I can say, other than that while reading this book, I felt transported back in time to my high school days, and I really miss contemporary and paranormal fantasy being on the shelves.

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What I’m Watching:

I’m halfway through the final season of The Fosters, and will be sad to finish the series. Once I do, I’m not sure what I do watch next. Let me know if you have any recommendations!

Otherwise, the boyfriend and I are on the final season of The Tudors, and I’ve been really enjoying it.

Currently Reading:

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How I Did: June Goals

Back in June, I gave myself several goals:

• Create my July blogging schedule
• Finally apply to school
• Begin writing YA Fantasy Thief Idea
• Begin writing Secret Project Idea
• Begin writing Sci-Fi Idea

I’m happy to see that I completed two of these. As I mentioned before, I decided not to write all three WIP’s at once, so I haven’t got around to writing the Secret Project idea or the Sci-Fi idea. I also created my July blogging schedule; unfortunately, I still have not applied for school. I really feel like I need to go and get a degree, but I’m so worried about the cost of going back.

Have any of you gone back to school later in life? How did that go for you, and do you regret it? Let me know in the comments!

July Goals:

I’m very excited to say that all of my beta readers finally got back to me, and I’ve analyzed all of their feedback and read through my adult fantasy WIP once again with a fresh pair of eyes. I’m ready to dive into revisions, and that’s definitely one of my new goals this month:

• 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

Coming Up:

Since I’m about to start revisions, and I have three projects I want to work on, I’m going to be taking a step back from the blog. I have several posts scheduled to upload for the rest of July, but I’ll be taking most of August off to really focus on my writing. I still plan on uploading at least two blog posts, but I hope to be back in full swing in September!


How’d everyone’s June go? Are you excited for the summer?

Let me know!

XOXO – Devon

6 Things to Do Before Starting Your Novel

So, you’re getting ready to write your novel. Whether this is your first book or your tenth – here’s a handy list of things to do before you even begin putting words on the page!


1.) Outline Your Novel

Often times when I hear writers ask, “I don’t know what should happen next” My question is, “Did you outline your novel?”

Having an outline – whether it be detailed or not – can really help you keep on track. Knowing what happens beforehand will keep you motivated, and prevent you from suffering the dreaded writers block. It’s easier to sit down for a writing session and know where to take the story, rather than sit for an hour and wonder what happens next.

If you’re not an outliner, this might not work for you, and that’s okay. Everyone has a different method of writing their novels. If you don’t like to outline, it may help to just known the story beats of your novel, too. Check out Save the Cat! Writes a Novel to get a good idea on how to learn story beats.

2.) Know Your World (And Your Rules)

Every fictional world has a set of rules. There’s certain limits to a magic system, or certain rules within the government control that can’t be broken. Whatever it is – it’s important to know the rules within your world and how they work together.

Let’s take Harry Potter, for example. In the world of Harry Potter, people born who can do magic are known as “witches” and “wizards”. People who cannot do magic are known as “muggles”, and children born from muggles who have magic are known as “mudbloods”. Those born to magical parents, but unable to do magic, are known as “squibs”.

This is a perfect example of knowing your world. It’s important to know who can do magic and who cannot, and why that is. JK Rowling went so far to create an entire government based in her world of Harry Potter, known as the Ministry of Magic. Knowing your world, and the rules of the world, and how they work together can ground your story and make it feel more real.

If you want a more in-depth look at how JK Rowling created the rules for her Harry Potter universe, check out this page here.

3.) Organize Your Writing Space

It’s important to keep a clean writing space. Having a clean writing space will not only keep you free of distractions, but also keep you tempted from cleaning up. You’ll be able to focus more clearly on what’s in front of you, than what’s around you.

When I’m outlining, it’s always messy around me. Books and papers are littered everywhere. But when it’s time to write, I make sure my desk is neat and organized.

4.) Make an Aesthetic

Making an aesthetic is a favorite of many writers. Finding pictures that capture the atmosphere of your characters and world is a great way to not only keep yourself motivated, but to see what kind of imagery you’re going for with your novel.
It’s a great way to get a feel for your world, or what your characters interests and personalities are like.

I find all my pictures for my aesthetics on Pinterest, and even create different boards for all my ideas! I use Canva to edit the pictures together!

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(*All pictures found on Pinterest. Credit goes to all artists. I do not own these images).

5.) Make a Playlist

Many writers love using music as an inspiration, myself included. Similar to an aesthetic, create a playlist of songs that really capture the atmosphere of your world, characters, or specific scenes. Play them as you write or just to keep yourself immersed in that world.

6.) Stop Procrastinating

This might be the hardest one yet! It can be so difficult for writers to sit down and begin their novels. There’s so much self-doubt and fear that goes into writing a book, and sitting down to write only makes those doubts even worse.

But the important thing to remember is that if you have a dream, no one else can make that dream come true but you. You will eventually have to sit down and do the work. But by utilizing all these tips above, it can be much easier to dive into the work, and enjoy the act of writing your novel.


Do you use any of these tips before writing your novels? Let me know!

XOXO – Devon

Interview with a Writer: Tauri Cox

Are you interested in getting to know more of the writers who are part of our amazing community? As part of my new blog series, I’ve interviewed some of the writers in an effort to get to know them better, as well as share their stories!

So today, I’m introducing Tauri Cox onto the blog! Tauri and I met last year and become fast friends and critique partners. I am so excited to share what she has to say about her life as a writer, the advice she has to new writers, and what her publishing goals are!


#1. What got you into writing? How and when did you first start?

I’ve been experimenting with writing for as long as I can remember: short stories, creative writing classes, etc. But I didn’t pursue it – or even consider it – seriously until my senior year of college. I had gone in as a pre-med student. Then quickly learned I sucked at math and science. But my professors always complimented me on my writing. So I switched over and immediately fell in love.

#2: Where do you usually get your ideas?

My ideas come from a variety of places. My first two novels were fictionalized retellings of real life events. But my third and current project was inspired by the city of New Orleans. It’s one of my favorite places in the world, and I just knew I wanted my next story to be based there. Luckily there’s plenty of interesting subject matter to go with NOLA!

#3: What current project are you working on right now? What was the inspiration for this project?

Like I said above, New Orleans was the inspiration for my current project. Once I dug into the past and culture of the city, I found a story about Marie Laveau – the infamous voodoo queen – and the pieces fell into place.

My second inspiration was Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries. I really wanted to write a female version of his character: a morally grey, reluctant, sassy but lovable antihero. My main character Jessa stemmed naturally from there, popping into my head fully-formed.

So my WIP is a NA contemporary fantasy revolving around a young woman who discovers she’s the missing heir to the voodoo queen but doesn’t really want anything to do with it.

#4: Traditional, Self-Publish, Small Press? What path to publishing are you pursuing/have pursued and why?

I am currently pursuing traditional publishing. I dream of seeing my book on the shelves of Barnes & Noble, and I believe traditional is the best way of going about accomplishing that dream thanks to bigger distribution and the backing of a big house and editorial/marketing team.

#5: What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?

Hmmm. That’s tough because I’ve been lucky enough to receive a lot of great feedback. But I think the best was a reminder to take breaks. Burnout is a very real thing, and it can happen fast. So pacing yourself, refilling your creative well and taking a break between drafts has really helped my process.

The other is to give yourself a little grace – especially with first drafts. I am a perfectionist and the first draft is paralyzing to me because it never comes out the way I want it to. But that’s okay. That’s what revisions are for. So just get it down on paper and fix it later.

#6: When are you most creative?

After a glass of wine 🙂 but seriously it’s true. It goes along with the above, loosens my control freak-ness a little so I can just write. I typically am most creative in the evenings – right after work and before dinner. I can crank out a couple of hours then.

#7: What authors inspire you the most?

I am sure everyone says this, but JK Rowling has been a huge source of inspiration to me. Her journey is just fantastic. Sarah J Maas is the same way. She was published so young and has created this incredible platform from scratch.

But I’ve also been really inspired by a lot of the writers I’ve met along the way. Writers who have been working for years and never given up, writers who have consistently published books – books that didn’t make it big – but slowly built a strong following, writers who advocate for each other. It’s really a phenomenal community.

#8: What’s your most anticipated read in the next few months?

Well, my TBR pile is so gigantic that it’s actually overwhelming. But there are some great books in there! One of my most anticipated books of the year just came out a couple weeks ago and that was Finale by Stephanie Garber. It was fantastic. I am also really excited to finally start reading V.E. Schwab’s Darker Shade of Magic series.

#9: What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman. It’s fabulous – dark and atmospheric with well-crafted characters. I love seeing more and more “fantasies” set in the real world – especially since that’s what I am writing!

#10: What’s your favorite book or book series?

That’s a toss up. Favorite series are Harry Potter and both of Sarah J Maas’ series. Favorite stand alone is The Great Gatsby!

#11: Favorite childhood book?

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – a classic! The Witch Family is a close tie.

#12: Biggest book pet peeve?

Insta-love. It drives me CRAZY! Insta-lust is fine. But I am a firm believe that you can’t really love someone until you know them and know them well. Plus slow burn romance is the BEST.

#13: What book has made you cry?

A lot. I am a big crier. But The Shack by William P. Young absolutely wrecked me in the best way possible.

#14: Favorite writing snack or drink?

Red wine and Goldfish.

#15: What’s your biggest fear? Writing related or otherwise – or both!

Snakes and failure.

#16: What other hobbies do you have outside of writing?

Reading obviously. I love puzzles and crafts and cooking. The rest of my life pretty much revolves around my dog and my family.

#17: Biggest real life pet peeve?

Slow walkers and people who don’t pay attention to where they are going in the grocery store. MOVE, GET OUT THE WAY!

#18: Any final words to aspiring writers out there?

Don’t lose faith if your first book doesn’t get you an agent. Don’t lose faith if your first book doesn’t get picked up by a publisher. It’s rare, and it’s all about the right book at the right time with the right person. And eventually the right combination will arise.


All About Taurisweater-headshot.jpg

Growing up, Tauri wanted to be a variety of things: marine biologist, veterinarian, equine chiropractor, neonatal surgeon. All biological, all scientific.

Until she arrived at college and quickly discovered… she was horrifically bad at science.
But she also learned that she had a knack for writing, and a passion was ignited.

Since then, Tauri has graduated from the University of Texas where she studied creative writing and psychology under Elizabeth McCracken, five-time author and James A. Michener Chair in Fiction. Immediately afterward, she joined the Writer’s Path at Southern Methodist University where she honed her skills under the tutelage of authors Suzanne Frank and Kay Honeyman.

She now lives in Austin, TX in a one-bedroom apartment with her eighty pound German Shepherd mix, her satanic cat, and a small shred of intact sanity.

You can follow Tauri on her blog and on Twitter!

 

May Recap 2019

May was a hard month for me. Between what feels like constant kidney stone pain, some personal things going, and just feeling stuck in life, I’ve had a rough month. I’m really hoping for a fresh start in June!

What I Wrote:

Well, I didn’t get any writing done; but I did finish outlining three of my new projects, which I’m very excited for! I have big hopes and ideas for these projects, and am so excited to start writing them!

What I Read:

Total: 7

Shadow Crown by Kristen Martin ★★☆☆☆

I read Ms. Martin’s first novel, The Alpha Drive, last year and was really unimpressed. I felt there were far too many problems with the novel and that it needed a lot more work before being published. That said, I debated for a long time on whether or not I wanted to buy the first novel in her newest series, but finally caved and decided to buy.

By far, Shadow Crown is leaps and bounds ahead of her first novel. The writing is much smoother, the plot is less jumpy, and the story is more focused. However, Shadow Crown is not without err.

The novel is littered with grammatical errors, the use of modern language, and military time. Phrases like “firing like missiles” and “awesome” are used. The characters act without much reason or motivation, and the entire inciting incident only happens because our main characters makes a decision that is completely out of character. We’re constantly told things instead of shown them, and there is hardly any world-building.

While Shadow Crown is much better than The Alpha Drive, I have to give this two stars. It’s clear Ms. Martin is improving as a writer, but I still think she needs work.

Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline ★★★☆☆

This is my first Lisa Scottoline novel, and I’m really torn on how I feel about it. The writing was absolutely beautiful, and the world was vivid. The characters were interesting and complex, and every voice was unique and easy to follow.

The novel is divided into two parts, following the past and present. The past part of the novel was by far my favorite, and the mystery was well constructed and amazingly written. However, the present part of the novel – which takes place twenty years later – felt like it fell into the thriller cliché a little too much. The killer was outed easily, but the final, end twist was unexpected and it really made this novel.

But between the beautiful writing, there were far too many characters to follow whose POV’s felt unnecessary to the overall plot. One character also keeps a secret from his spouse, and has a choice to revel this secret, but he choose not to. This character decision was something I could not get behind, and it’s one of the reasons I have to take a star off.

Someone Knows is a really close four stars, but I would definitely pick up another Lisa Scottoline novel and give the author another shot.

The Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy by Jenny Han ★★★☆☆

The Summer I Turned Pretty ★★★★☆
It’s Not Summer Without You ★★★☆☆
We’ll Always Have Summer ★★☆☆☆

I’m rating the entire trilogy three stars, but I’ve given each book in the series an individual rating as well. After reading, I have some major thoughts on these books.

On one hand, I loved the first book. I really connected to the main character, Belly, and identified with her struggles as she grew into a young woman. The writing was simple, yet beautiful, and I didn’t expect to enjoy the first novel as much as I did.

Unfortunately, my enjoyment for this series only faltered as I went on. The quality of the writing stayed the same, but it was the two love interest’s behaviors and actions that made me enjoy the series less and less. I didn’t agree with Belly choosing either love interest, not after the way they treated her throughout the series, and by the end I found myself rooting for Belly to find her own independence. Unfortunately, the books ended in a way I just wasn’t happy with.

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An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena ★★★☆☆

I’ve read both of Shari Lapena’s previous works and enjoyed them, so when I saw she’d released a new book, I picked it up without hesitation.

An Unwanted Guest is clearly inspired by Agatha Christie’s novel, And Then There Were None, and there’s even a slight mention of the novel within the book itself. Lapena does well to make sure her own novel is original and interesting, and the premise really pulled me in.

What really fell flat for me is that the end twist – while I didn’t see it coming – just didn’t grab me the way I hoped.

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald ★★★★★

Okay, I LOVED this book. The writing was beautiful, the characters were complex, and the story was fast-paced and so gripping. The story was unique, and I love the parallels between past and present. This book brought tears to my eyes in the end, and I was satisfied with the journey and ending of the amazing novel. I will definitely be picking up Christina McDonald’s next book!

What I’m Watching:

Well, May marked the series finale of Game of Thrones. I admit that I was crushed by the ending. I’d been rooting for Daenerys to win the Iron Throne since day one, so seeing what happened to her was so disappointing.

The boyfriend and I also stopped watching The Magicians, which was a bit disappointing, but we just didn’t have any interest anymore. On the flip side, we’ve begun watching Psyche and The Tudors, which we’re both really enjoying.

I am devastated that Netflix took off Switched at Birth. I was halfway through season two and loving it. Since they’ve taken it off, I’ve been watching The Fosters, and am already halfway through season three!

Currently Reading:

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How I Did: May Goals:

Back in May, I gave myself several goals:

• Outline YA Fantasy Thief Idea
• Outline Secret Project Idea
• Actually make a plan to go back to school
• Create my June blogging schedule
• Begin writing YA Fantasy Thief Idea
• Begin writing Secret Project Idea

I’m proud to say I completed three of these! I outlined both projects and created my June blogging schedule. I wanted to come up with a plan to go back to school, but unfortunately, I had some decisions to make that I was holding back on making. I’m proud to say I have made a final decision, and am excited to move forward with my education!

I really wanted to begin writing my two new projects in May, but wasn’t able to, considering it took me most of the month to plan both novels! I also decided to add a third new project to my plate as well, which I’m proud to say I also finished outlining!

June Goals:

• Create my July blogging schedule
• Finally apply to school
• Begin writing YA Fantasy Thief Idea
• Begin writing Secret Project Idea
• Begin writing Sci-Fi Idea

What’s Coming Up On the Blog:

I have a brand new series planned to be released this month, so stayed tuned for that!

I’ve also been considering doing more full-length book reviews instead of only these smaller reviews on my Monthly Recaps. Do you guys want to see more in-depth book reviews? Let me know!


How’d everyone else’s May go? What goals do you have planned for June?

XOXO – Devon