Random Update!

Don’t forget to check out my Reading Ranting for thoughts on reading and book reviews. Feel free to ask about my Writing Ranting Discord group @lovefantasy#0367. Follow me on Instagram and TikTok.

Writing is going really well. I rewrote the intro the Out of Ashes, which is now with a couple of writing friends for fresh eyes. I’m happy with the new opening. It’s a little more dramatic on an emotional perspective, but not too heavy on story points. 

We’ll see what my writerly people say, then I’ll revise it based on their suggestions, and try agents again. So far, no luck. One said they would take a look at my full manuscript in January, but they’re not taking on new clients this year. That was encouraging that they showed interest.

I’m not taking it to heart because a writer never knows what a potential agent might be looking for. You miss the mark by a fraction, and they won’t consider you. I’ve read enough people moaning about not getting an agent to know that it’s a long shot and might take a good while. 

Unfortunately, I can’t afford to self-publish any time soon unless I edit myself (BIG FAT NO NO ON THAT) and smile very sweetly at a couple of graphic designers I know to do a super cheap cover and help me format the book. I wouldn’t feel right asking for that if I couldn’t pay upfront, even if they did offer me friends and family discount. But if I won the lottery, then I’d love to commission a cover and formatting from them as a fully-paying client.

I’ve gone TikTok mad 🤪. It started off as an extension of my Instagram with writing-related reels. It spiralled from there and became a blue-haired steampunk girl cosplay. This is actually super fun for my writing since I have a blue-haired steampunk character. She started off as a secondary character, but as I wrote more of the book, I saw openings for more characterization.  

Here are some recent favourites from my Instagram and TikTok. As you can see, they are quite different, but both are meaningful to me as a writer and avid reader.

The link to this TikTok video looks questionable depending on what app you’re looking at it, but it’s a safe link.

But mostly, it’s fun and has prompted me to put myself out there more. After a rough few years with low self-esteem and serious self-doubt, it’s about time I picked myself up. I used to do all kinds of creative things,and I was good at them, but finding the confidence and brain power to do them has been hard in recent years. 

I’m also doing fun videos on Instagram in relation to reading and writing, which I freaking love doing. I bought a ring light, some cheap props, and new makeup, but apart from that, I don’t need anything. I use TikTok or Instagram’s built-in video editing software or PowerDirector’s free version for more precise editing. I’ve yet to explore Snapchat’s video capabilities, but it’s on my list of things to learn more about in order to make my videos more interesting. And as of October, I’ll be minimising content on this site and posting links to my Instagram and Facebook.

On the personal front, I’ve painted my spare room and closet, died the lower half of my hair turquoise, and am just having a lovely summer break. I still have two weeks off, plus a mini trip planned, just a couple of nights away, but I’m looking forward to the change of scenery.

Featured image from a recent TikTok and Instagram. Yup, that’s me, and I love this video despite struggling with self image for years.

Book Review. A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair. 3.5 Stars.

Warning: Some reviews contain minor spoilers, but I keep the best parts vague. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more reviews and thoughts on reading.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I love all things mythological, so this was a fun book to read. However, I found that for everything I liked in general, there was a huge exception that put me on the fence with this book. I would have given it 2.5 stars based on that, but it had a certain… “je ne sai quoi,” to it, so it got an extra star for that. 

What I liked…

  • I love how the mythological gods were brought to life in the modern world very much how the myths depicted. 
  • I liked how Scarlett played on Persephone’s sexual inexperience without making her sound naive or like she has no idea what to do. It was a great balance in that respect.
  • I like how Persephone was conflicted over Hades based on her mother’s warnings and the stories of impossible bargains. 
  • I like the god of the underworld trying to maintain his reputation as the bad guy until Persephone comes along and makes him want to look like the good guy. 

Image here… Hades-and-Persephone-by-Procastle

What I didn’t like… which were exceptions to what I did like…

  • The contract??? It was too unclear for my liking, and I couldn work out how a card game lead to Persephone being tied to a contract with Hades. I mean, they agreed to terms of the card game, but then suddenly, it becomes a whole contract. Maybe it was me.
  • Persephone felt too naive when it came to everyday things. I get why some things were confusing to her because she’d been kept away from people until a few years ago. But it’s been a few years. Sure she’s figured things out by this point.
  • Her surprise over the backlash of her article seemed unrealistic. She’s a journalist who’s probably seen it happen to other writers. Again, might just be me.
  • The prose was a little… ho hum for my liking. It felt like a newer writer’s prose rather than a bestselling author’s. 
  • The love scenes fell short for me. All the actions were there along with some thoughts, but they felt rushed and lacked the physical sensations to complete and well-rounded emotional moment.

Like I said, I generally liked a lot about this book, but some of the issues made it less enjoyable than it could have been. Still, I read it and have just finished book 2, so it was worth the read.

Talk‌ ‌Dirty‌ ‌to‌ ‌Me‌ ‌😉!‌ ‌

Disclosure: May contain book spoilers but only in relation to… relations 🤣 Also, this is about sex in literature in case it was unclear. This is also about sex in fantasy novels that play heavily on romance as opposed to romance and erotica. Also, just in case it needs to be disclosed, I do not encourage underage sex, though it exists, so it exists in fiction too. Not so important but an FYI, this was planned for Valentine’s Day, but I kept changing my mind on how I wanted to write this. Finally, here it is.

As an adult who loves a full emotional journey in her reading, love and lust tend to play a big roles in most of the books I read. I’ve also written various levels of explicity in my sex scenes, and each one suits the book’s tone and the characters in the scene. I’ve been told I’m good at them, so between my reading and and feedback on my writing, I’d say I got this down. This means I have very specific opinions, and I’m going to share them. 

Let’s breakdown my thoughts..

  • Dirty talk. Don’t get me wrong, some sex talk is pretty realistic and fun for the characters, but there’s a limt. Sure, romance or erotic can get away with however much they like. But when romance is paired wih another genre, it all depends on the readership you’re going for. 
  • The tone should suit the characters’ age and experience. YA can totally have sex scenes since YA includes late teens, but I’d expect it to be more emotional than physical. A good example is Cassandra Clare’s love scenes. Adult or NA however… go as smutty as you like. I’m looking at You Sarah J. Maas. Love her smut. I find that many explicit books are mislabelled as YA when they should be NA (new adult) but I have another rant on that. 
  • The MC’s experience should play a huge part in how they feel before, during and after sex. Some might be nervous because it’s their first time even though they’re adults like in A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair. But it’s still ok for a first love to cause butterflies even if it’s not the character’s first time like Feyre in A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.
  • Balancing the emotional and physical makes a much fuller experience for me. And by physical, I mean physical reactions and sensations, though please avoid using the words, explosion and fireworks if you plan to write love scenes. One of the best scenes I’ve read was in Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin. 
  • Speaking of explosion and fireworks… language is also important, and readership’s age should be considered. When I read YA, I expect some delicacy. When I read adult, I expect more specificity but still… we know what goes where so there’s no need for a play-by-play of every cringe-worthy thrust and pump and pound. Please, just NO.
  • Bodily fluids. Eww. I recently read a book with quite fun sex scenes, until… the mention of his seed dripping down her things. I’m looking at you Sarah for A Court of Silver Flames. That kinda spoiled it for me. Eww. 
  • Timing is everything. When emotions are high, it might seem like a good time to get spicy. Not necessarily. Any situation where the character feels vulnerable then safe with their love interest is good. However, when someone’s just died (maybe after the funeral when the shock has worn off is… ok-ish), or after a fight when the characters are still covered in blood is NOT romantic in my opinion. That’s what stunned me in Jennifer L. Armentrout’s A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire
  • Quantity. Too many sex scenes can bore me and make me skim. This is when summarising is best after the first two or three unless there’s a particularly special moment between the characters, which leads me to…
  • Special moments. These are pretty much exempt from all my previous opinions because they need that extra umph. I’m not talking the first time in general or first time with a specific love interest. I’m talking about that moment when they realise this is it. Whether its “I love you,” or “You are my mate,” or some other unspoken words that equal love or a magical bond, these are the moments that need to be consummated and emphasised to the reader. 

So there you have it. Lots to think about when writing a sex scene, and lots of ways to satisfy or disappoint readers. 

Image by Bingo Naranjo from Pixabay

Book Review. A Court of Silver Flames. 5 Stars

Warning: Some reviews contain minor spoilers, but I keep the best parts vague. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more reviews and thoughts on reading.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What I liked…

So much, so these are just the top ones…

  • Nesta’s PTSD. The fire, the darkness, the fear, the flashbacks, the alcoholism. All incredibly well done on my opinion.
  • The fact that her first real friend that doesn’t judge her is a house.
  • Cassian 😍😍😍 He’s not as possessive as Rhys, which I found a little much in previous books. But Cassian still has his moments that feel more like realistic bursts of testosterone that’s more swoon-worthy.
  • Cassian and Nesta are one steaming hot couple. 🔥
  • Wings. I love wings. 😍
  • The stairs and what they represent to Nesta. 
  • I loved getting Nesta’s full perspective on the past as well as recent events. If I’d read this book first I’d think the others were complete jerks for what they do to Nesta at the beginning of the book.
  • I like how she feels like she’s a piece of shit because others have made her feel that way.
Find this and more images at  Society6 by Dominique Wesson 

What I didn’t like…

  • I didn’t like how Cassian could cut the ribbon. I would have loved for him to almost do it, but not properly so the women could have a real win.

That’s it for the dislike list.

A Court of Frost a d Starlight paved the way for more perspectives in this series. The first three definitely suited Feyre with the odd hop to Rhys, but I’m glad it’s branched out. I think we needed a new protagonist to spice things up in the series.

If you like bigger picture plot movement, this isn’t going to be your thing. There is a bigger plot going on, and things get interesting all around but ACoSF is more character-driven, which I personally love when done right. This doesn’t disappoint.

Writing a Series!

Writing a series can boggle a writer’s mind before you get things figured out. If you plan to write multiple standalones with overlapping characters and world-building, then you have more freedom with plots. But if you plan for your series to be one massive story with shorter installments in each book, then you need to think carefully about how to start.

Here’s a quick list of things to consider. See below the list for more thoughts.

  • Plan ahead in plot and world-building.
  • Don’t reveal too much.
  • Don’t hide too much.
  • Multiple POVs can keep things fresh.

Trust me, I’ve drafted a pentalogy, and book 5 was the deciding factor in things that I needed to play on as soon as book 1. I strongly recommend you plan the whole thing, even if book 2 and onwards is more of a rough synopsis or scribbles of world-building that only make sense to you. It helps you see where you want the series to end so you can get the journey right.

Consider carefully what elements you play on in book 1. You don’t want to reveal everything and repeat yourself in the rest of the series. At the same time, you need to hint at things you’ll need for later. Ideas that come out of nowhere can annoy readers depending on how you’ve played the possibilities prior to the reveal. This also helps with keeping things fresh in each book. 

One idea, and hear me out, is to switch protagonist in each book, or at least alternate. My Starlighters saga alternates female protags with their respective love interests as the 2nd MC. I still give the others a POV so readers don’t get disappointed if they fall in love with my 1st protagonist and her love interest, but they take a back seat in book 2 and 4 to give a fresh perspective on the ongoing story. 

I also have alternating minor POV for a couple of short scenes to give a fuller perspective throughout the whole series. You’d be surprised how much a POV switch can spice things up. 

There are so many things to consider when writing a series, but if I’ve learned anything while outlining and drafting multiple series, is that you have to account for future possibilities. 
Image by fotografierende from Pixabay

Book Review. Eversong by Donna Grant. 3.5 Stars

Warning: Some reviews contain minor spoilers, but I keep the best parts vague. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more reviews and thoughts on reading.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

What I liked…

  • Multiple POVs. I love 2 to 4 or even 5 POVs in my reading as well as my writing. I enjoyed the various perspectives  and where each character and group of people were coming from.
  • I liked the romance and the lack of unnecessary drama for the sake of building some tension like some romance tropes. 
  • The characters were nicely done with clear wants and needs.
  • I loved the love scenes.

What I didn’t like…

  • Without spoiling things, I think one of the earlier POVs could be cut since it doesn’t continue later in the book, and there’s another character that could convey the same thing.
  • Also, a couple of new POVs came in pretty late (half-way) for my liking. Personally, I feel that POVs should be established in the first act of a novel. 
  • The prose was a bit simple. It conveyed the right things, but was low on the creative side for my liking. 
  • The love scenes were a bit too explicit for YA in my opinion. I don’t mean for them to be fade-to-black, just a smidge more delicate for the age category.

If you like witches and witch-hunters out for revenge, then this should be on your TBR list. Just to warn you, the other books in the series each have their own set of main characters, so if you’re looking for a series to get addicted to for its characters, this isn’t going to be your thing.