January 2023 Roundup

Welcome to the January 2023 roundup!

Well, it looks like the quickness of 2022 has followed us into 2023 as we’re already one month down!

It feels like I just barely got back to my writing desk after spending most of December in Sydney visiting family for Christmas, and I’m trying my best to get back into editing mode so I can release a new book this year.

If I mange it, the book will be the fourth and final installment in my Blackbirch series, and its conclusion means I’ll have to start writing about different characters for the first time since 2001. I’m not sure how I’m going to do that, but I am looking forward to finding out.

Another goal that I’ve set for this year is to read more. I’m trying a mix of writing craft books and reading for fun (no reviews just star ratings) as well as the usual books I review for my blog roundups, and it’s been going well so far. If you’ve also picked new goals for the year, or spent your January trying something different, I wish you the best of luck with it! May we all feed our creative souls this year and rediscover any spark that we’ve been missing.

As for the first month of 2023, this is what I got up to…

What I’ve Been…


Blackbirch 4 – I’ve slowly crawled through 3 chapters this month and plan on making faster progress once February ushers in the new school year and I’m back into my normal routine again.


Kaleidoscope – You might have seen this series talked about because it was designed to be watched out of order. Netflix automatically does this for you by mixing up the episodes but always ensuring that you see the final episode last. I don’t know if this way of viewing made the story any better. It’s a pretty basic heist plot, full of characters that are more villain than hero, making it hard to root for any of them. Not seeing the heist until the last episode, but seeing its aftermath in the other episodes, does make you want to get to the final episode for answers, so it had that going for it. Ultimately, I think I would have preferred to see the story in chronological order (which is Violet, Green, Yellow, Orange, Blue, Red, Pink, and White). The overall story covers 25 years before the heist, the lead-up, the heist, and then 6 months after, and I believe that seeing it in that order would have given more weight to the characters and their actions instead of the random order, which mostly left you scrabbling to keep straight who everyone was.

The Last Of Us – As someone who stuck with The Walking Dead long after the good seasons, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to dive into another dystopian zombie show, but I have been enjoying The Last Of Us. It follows an outbreak of a disease that turns those infected into zombies. The first episode introduces us to Joel (Pedro Pascal), his teenage daughter, and his brother as the world turns to chaos when their neighbors start trying to eat everyone. Cue government bombs, every man for himself, and heartbreak. The show then time-jumps to when barricaded cities keep the infected out and the uninfected in. Trying to reach his brother in another settlement, Joel is caught up in a group’s effort to move a teenager named Ellie (Bella Ramsey), who may be the only person on earth immune to the virus. Episode 3 has been the best so far and is storytelling at its finest with award-deserving acting from Nick Offerman as Bill and Murray Bartlett as Frank.

The Resident (Season 6) – While The Resident hasn’t been officially canceled yet, the fact season 6 was only 13 episodes long and used the finale to tie up every single storyline of the various doctors from Atlanta General in a neat little bow, I don’t hold out much hope. It’s a shame, as this is one of my fave medical dramas. It did go out on a high, however, and it’s always better to see a show end by giving viewers closure for every character instead of unanswered questions and unresolved storylines.

Poker Face – Produced by Knives Out writer/director, Rian Johnson, Poker Face is a homage to detective show classics like Colombo and Murder, She Wrote! Charlie (Natasha Lyonne) is able to tell when people are lying and uses that trick to play poker. When she’s caught out by a casino boss and blackballed in the industry, he gives her a job so he can keep an eye on her. Unfortunately, a friend and co-worker of Charlie’s is murdered at that same casino, and she can’t help but follow the lies and solve the case. This sends her on the run and every episode after centers on a different killing that Charlie gets involved in as she flees across the country. While it’s fun to see how Charlie will pop up in each story, every episode does start with a murder, so as the viewer, you always know who killed who and are just waiting to see how Charlie pieces it together. While this takes the whodunnit? out of the storylines (boo), the show is well-written and full of great actors, so I’ll keep watching to see how it shapes up.


Boss From Hell by Laurie Bell – This was such a fun and entertaining read, perfect for fans of Buffy and Lucifer. When Margaret (Mig for short) gets fired from her job as a personal assistant, she’s desperate to find work ASAP so she can pay the mortgage on her new place. Luckily, she’s head-hunted and offered a new job that seems too good to be true. And it is.

Before her first week is done, Mig encounters messages asking for help sent to her computer that disappears whenever she tries to show others. Her boss also sends her on errands delivering what looks to be clothes covered in blood and contracts about souls. To make things worse, she discovers every PA hired before her has mysteriously disappeared. With help from her psychic energy-reading best friend, a hunky new neighbor who has a dark past of his own, and crazy-antic-inducing grandmothers who have a knack for showing up at the wrong time, Mig needs to discover what her boss is up to, and how to stop him. Combining humor, heart, action, and myth, Laurie Bell will keep you turning every page until you reach the final twist—and then leave you wanting more.

5 Secrets of Story Structure by K.M. Weiland – Written in a fun, conversational tone, 5 Secrets of Story Structure is a quick read that outlines structure with examples from well-known books and movies. It’s a good resource for writers who want to know the basics of structure without being overwhelmed by info about adding story beats and plot points at certain percentages. While that kind of info is included, it’s backed up by easier-to-understand examples and will leave you with a basic idea of what story structure is. Nothing more and nothing less.

The Rarkyn’s Familiar by Nikky Lee – When Lyss is accidentally bonded to a Rarkyn named Skarr, her plans to seek revenge for her Fa’s death are put on hold as she travels to Illredus to seek help. Told she’ll go mad being tethered to an Otherworld creature, Lyss is in a race against time. She’s also running from the man who brought the Rarkyn to their world and wants it back to complete a casting that will go against the natural laws. Finding friends and foes on the road, Lyss also discovers that Skarr is not the terrible creature she’d been taught to fear. The friendship that evolves between Lyss and Skarr is a highlight of this well-written book, as is the world-building and action. The first book in a planned trilogy, Nikki Lee brilliantly sets up what is sure to be a worthwhile read for fans of mythical monsters, dark villains, and elemental magic.

Christopher Pike Books – After feeling burned out by reading books for reviews at the end of 2022, and inspired by the Netflix series, The Midnight Club, I decided to re-read the books of my favorite author, Christopher Pike. It was reading his books as a teen that inspired me to be a Young Adult writer, and it’s interesting reading them now as a writer rather than a reader. While some haven’t aged well (his early works were written in the ’80s and reflect the attitudes and stereotypes of the era), I’m enjoying the nostalgia and being swept up in the stories where time has allowed me to mostly forget the plot. This month I read Spellbound, Gimme A Kiss, Scavenger Hunt, Fall Into Darkness, See You Later, and Witch, after having read Slumber Party, Weekend, The Tachyon Web, and Last Act, in December 2022.

If you’ve got any good book recommendations, let me know in the comments, or be my friend on Goodreads and share your books/recommendations with me! You can also find and follow my reviews and book recommendations on Amazon and BookBub.

If you’d like to add the Blackbirch books to your Goodreads “Want to Read” shelf and/or check out the reviews, click the following links:

Taking Photos Of

Nature. I’m back to my daily walks and trying to walk twice a day when I can. Daylight savings is helping, but it all depends on the weather. We’re still all over the place here in Melbourne and it’s either super hot, raining, or as cold as winter. On the good days, I get to see pretty birds.

On The Blog…

In case you missed any of my posts, or want to read them again, here are the latest blogs.

Writing Tip Of The Month…

#WritingTipWednesday posts are added to my social media feeds every week and here is the most popular tip for this month. It’s taken from my blog post, 5 Ways To Train Yourself To Write.

Blackbirch Review Of The Month…

This review is for Blackbirch: The Beginning, and was the most popular one posted this month on my social media feeds.

If you’d like to read the books released so far or find out more about each novel, here are the links:

If you’ve read any of my books—and haven’t done so already—please consider leaving a review or even just a star rating. It really helps indie authors get their books noticed, and also helps fellow readers find books they’ll like.

Quote Of The Month…

I hope you’ve enjoyed my January Roundup. What did you get up to this month?

— K.M. Allan

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

24 thoughts on “January 2023 Roundup

  1. Best of luck and patience for your editing in the coming weeks and months – I believe it’ll be strange but happy feeling when the series is done, even though there’s likely a lot of work left.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank so much, Tom! Totally agree. Sometimes I wonder if I’m subconsciously taking longer than normal because I’m not ready to end the series, but I’m also excited about finishing it and I’m having fun writing this last book. It’s a real dilemma.


  2. Honestly, I have no idea how you find the time for watching TV, daily walks, or increased reading! Go you!! I’m eager to see what your next book or series will be, so don’t keep us in suspense too long…
    I’m still not finished with my Valentine’s Day book. Missed my self-imposed deadline back in mid-December. Discouraging, but I’m nearly done and have to keep going. Up next is some time off!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some of those things have come at the cost of making more progress with my writing, but walking and reading help me think up new ideas or how to fix a scene, so it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. Sorry to hear you missed your deadline, but it still sounds like you have a good handle on things. I wholeheartedly think it’s great that you’re planning to take time off afterward. The break I took over Xmas really helped me get into a better head space, and I was more than ready to start writing again once I got back to my desk after the break.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I totally understand.I’m glad the system works for you. It was your comments about breaks and retreats that got me thinking about the same for myself. Just thinking about not writing for a while makes me feel guilty! Too bad. I need some R&R, plus I plan to study up on book marketing and revamp my website. We’ll see how far I get!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Writer-guilt is the worst. Whenever I take a break, I always spend the first few days feeling like I should be doing something. By the end of the break, I usually find myself enjoying not doing anything 🤣.

        Best of luck with your website revamp. I’ve got some many tasks like that on my endless to-do list. One day I’ll get to them!


  3. I recently published the last of a series of related books I’ve been working on since 2000. I know what you mean about having to move on into another fictional world!
    I agree that writing reviews for books we read can take the fun out of reading, but except for 5 stars, I find ratings without reviews mystifying. The reader clearly thought the book was missing something; it would be good to know what, especially for a rating of 3 or less. A single sentence like “Intriguing plot but flat characters,” or “Typos kept me from enjoying the story,” is vastly better than nothing, both for the writer of the book and other readers.
    (I’m working on a post about book reviews, which is why I mentioned this. My apologies for seeming presumptuous.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Congrats on completing your series, Audrey! I’ll keep an eye out for your book review post. I’m always interested in learning how others write their reviews, or what writers might expect from readers. The books I’m not leaving reviews for have been out since the 80s and 90s and have hundreds of reviews. I doubt the writer would care of notice that I’m not leaving my thoughts. These are also some of my favorite books and what I love to read, so I have been giving them high ratings because they tick the boxes for me in terms of writing style, characters, plot, etc.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Well said! I dislike ratings by themselves. They reveal nothing useful to the author or to potential readers. On the other hand, the star ratings as a total number help still help sell the book. I think Amazon did it to encourage readers to do SOMETHING, rather than skip to the next book, and the next without any feedback at all.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I find star ratings are somewhat problematic, especially when I compare books to which I’ve given the same rating. “How can you rate x the same as y?” I ask myself. But then, I tend to overthink. And I always wonder about the reasons for 1-3 star ratings when there’s no review.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I wonder about low stars without reviews too. It’s not really helpful if a writer wants to know if there was an issue, or for a reader wondering why someone would rate a book with only 1 or 2 stars without saying why.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Hello. Sorry, it’s been a long time since I’ve answered your emails. Sometimes I get so far behind I just start deleting. Again, apologies. But if you’re going to do more studying on craft, I have a suggestion. I just enrolled in a free email course from Daniel David Wallace: https://danieldavidwallace.com/the-story-behind-the-story/. He sends an email with a prompt. I’ve never written a short story, but these lessons start with the idea of writing a short story, and putting the character first, before the plot. The idea is to build the story around the character, not events with a protagonist thrown in. The lessons (which I write, send to him, and he sends them back to me at the end of the course with his comments/suggestions. I am so surprised at the differences I’ve made in creating the location, then putting the character in the middle of a crisis. You’re already a prolific writer, but maybe it would give you a different perspective, too.

    Whether or not you check it out, happy writing to you, and blessings on creating new characters for your next series.


    Aleta Kay


  5. Wow, I’m impressed with your series! How strange that will be to move on to a new world full a new characters. Freeing, if not also a little daunting, I would imagine! I don’t watch much TV, but Poker Face does sound like it would be right up my alley.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You nailed it, Rebecca. Moving onto other books will definitely be daunting and freeing at the same time. One thing I know for sure is that I’ll give a standalone story a try.

      Yes! Definitely give Poker Face a watch if you can 😊.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. 2022 went by quickly. January even more so. How can that be?! I’m starting to really worry about that aspect of life.

    Anyway… I was pleased to see your views on Kaleidoscope. I heard about it and thought the concept was intriguing, but I was worried that it just wouldn’t work for one reason or another. It seems like I was right to give it a pass.

    I played The Last of Us video game and I’m definitely curious about the series. I might give it a go.

    In terms of writing, do you have a new set of characters in mind, or are you not thinking about that yet? I think it will be fun for us to embark on that new journey with you. But first, good luck with the last installment! Stay golden!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It went so damn fast.

      Glad to hear my review of Kaleidoscope was helpful for you. It had some redeeming qualities, but not enough to make it a real worthwhile watch.

      Definitely give The Last Of Us a try. It’s one of the better shows I’ve seen in a while.

      I have some story ideas that I’ve been thinking about for a few years. I can’t really work on more than one set of stories/characters at once, so I’ve stuck with my series for now, and will work on different stuff when my brain is ready for other ideas. Thanks for the well wishes, and for stopping by, Sam!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s