Does it actually feel like fall where you are, witchlings? Around here, it still feels an awful lot like summer, but we're getting in the spooky spirit no matter what. New candles, hot cocoa and pumpkin cream cold brew, back in sweaters even if it's still 90 degrees F nearly every day. But most of all, back in the spirit for spooky books and thrillers.
Although, let's be honest, I read paranormal 99.999% of the year. Lately, I've been in the mood for thrillers, and the new release by Layne Fargo absolutely hit the spot. They Never Learn was so good; it's one of those rare books that I wish I could entirely forget, just so that I could read it again like it's the first time. I never knew that feminist thriller was a subgenre that I needed in my life, but it was exactly what I was looking for in 2020. And it has really moved the bar for thrillers.
It was fast-paced, and I loved the characters. I loved the touch of romance sprinkled throughout. I enjoyed it from page 1, but once I hit about the halfway mark I could not put it down. There are a few content warnings: the main characters deal with emotional abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual assault (nothing graphic is on page, but these are critical issues to the characters' actions). But for everyone who does not need to avoid the book due to the content warnings, I absolutely 10/10 recommend it.
Seriously, please read it. Then comment here or slide into my DMs, because I NEED people to discuss this book with before my brain explodes.
Speaking of amazing new releases ... Look what's coming out next week! My lovely friend Lillian Lark wrote a dark romance, and it is AMAZING. Do yourself a spooky season favor and go check out Tangled Wires. It's a dark romance that poses the question, "Can a machine love?"
It's sexy, it's steamy, and it's a fast-paced page-turner that you won't want to set down. There are a few content warnings, so definitely read through the author notes before starting. But if these content warnings do take this delightful bit of spice off of the table for you, have no fear. Her next book Three of Hearts is out as an ARC copy now, and it is just as amazing. If you like dark, steamy romance with filthy banter that will have you turning on the fan even as the weather cools, then she is an author to watch.
For all of my nano friends,
How did week two of Preptober treat you? Have you made brainstorming progress? Do you have your idea worked out if you're a pantser? If you're a fellow plotter, I'm sure you're already deep in your outline.
Pantser or plotter, one thing that all of us will face at some point (probably many points during nano), is Imposter Syndrome. So what do we do when we're sure that every word we put on page is bad, or worse, that our entire idea is trash? Listening to a writing podcast (I've listed three of my personal favorites) is a great start; it's a reminder that even authors who we put on a pedestal are human writers like us. They all have days when they don't like what they're writing or trust the idea in their head to be good. And they all had to work through those days to get to where they are now.
Deadline City, hosted by Zoraida Cordova (The Brooklyn Brujas series, Incendiary) and Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles, Tiny Pretty Things) is so much fun. These women are clearly amazing friends, and it makes the episodes a hoot to listen to. Season 3 just started last week, so it's the perfect time to binge through seasons 1 and 2.
Writing Excuses is hosted by Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Taylor, Margaret Dunlap, and Mahtab Narsimhan, with frequent guest hosts. Their slogan is "Fifteen minutes or less, because you're busy, and we're not that smart." Episodes are short, sweet, and incredibly informative. They have entire seasons devoted to character development, worldbuilding, etc.
No Write Way, hosted by Victoria / V.E. Schwab (The Darker Shades of Magic, The Invisible Life of Addie Larue), is brand new and has only a handful of episodes. A little quarantine project, Victoria Schwab recorded these as Instagram Live with a new guest author each week, and the interviews are bursting at the seams with information.
Building your own writing community that you can interact with and reach out to when you hate everything you're writing can make the difference between taking a mental health break for the night and abandoning your project entirely. Find writing friends that you can bounce ideas off of--that you can read sections of your story to for constructive feedback when all you can hear is the demon on your shoulder. I kind of fell into my Smut Coven writing group by accident, although given my love of paranormal romance and the fated mate trope, maybe it was less accident than it was destiny. I love them, and they have been such an integral support through editing my last nano project and starting my current WIP, and I cannot wait to see how we form a support system for nanowrimo.
And lastly, taking breaks is part of the writing process. It can be easy during nano to be overwhelmed by that 50K writing goal and fall into the trap of feeling like you need to be writing no matter what. Relaxing in the bath and thinking about your characters is a valid part of the writing process. So is reading books that bring you joy or inspire you. Putting your WIP completely out of your brain to workout, or spend time with family, or do an entirely different creative hobby is still part of the process. If you're stuck, set the work aside and do something that is good for your body or your soul. Your WIP will still be there when you have fresh eyes.
Good luck with your projects, and remember that you are always enough, witchlings.