Welcome to the April 2023 roundup!
My April kicked off with a trip to Sydney for Easter so my family and I could see my mother, sisters, aunty, cousin, and extended family, and meet some family members for the first time in real life who were visiting all the way from Scotland.
It was a quick trip of 5 days (2 days of travel, and 3 of catching up), and the day after we got back, my twin messaged to say she was positive for COVID. Within the week, I then tested positive for COVID, which I think puts to rest the debate over who the evil twin is 😂.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might remember that last April I had COVID for the first time, making this my second bout of it. Thankfully, it was a milder version and I didn’t get the crippling symptoms and fatigue I had last time. After a week of bed rest, during which I read through the majority of my April to-be-read pile, I was back to my usual routine, albeit at a slower pace. As for the rest of the fourth month of 2023, this is what I got up to…
What I’ve Been…
Blackbirch 4 – On the 5th of April—after 11 months—I finally finished draft 7 of Blackbirch 4! For this draft, I spent those 11 months fleshing out the basic story I started with draft 1 back in 2017, added in the story elements from the published versions of books 1-3 that needed to be carried over/resolved, added 5 new scenes, reworked the final 12 chapters, wrote a new epilogue, and added 33,793 new words.
It was something I really enjoyed doing. It also ended up being the biggest manuscript I’ve ever penned. The final word count was 101, 975, which is 21,975 words past my original word goal of 80,000.
When I recovered from COVID, I opened the file back up, resaved it as draft 8, and spent the final week of April writing a new outline. During my break, I’d thought of a better idea for the opening chapters that will get the adventures moving along quickly and flagged the scenes that could be cut to get that word count down so the book is closer in size to the 3 before it.
I’m hoping now to spend May making as much progress on draft 8 as I can. This draft will be my beta reader draft, and when I’m done with it, I will be passing it on to my awesome team of Betas to see if the story makes sense. If it does, draft 9 will be my ARC (advanced reader copy) draft, which will incorporate any beta feedback changes needed. Draft 10 will then be the final published book (everything formatted, title pages, dedication, acknowledgments added, and hopefully as typo-free as possible, etc).
I still plan on releasing this book this year, so I’ve got some work ahead, but I’m looking forward to it, and to closing out a series I’ve been working on in my head and with my keyboard since 2001.
Dungeons And Dragons: Honor Amongst Thieves.
Before sitting down to this movie at the cinema, the only thing I knew about D&D was whatever was shown in movies, TV shows, and pop culture references, so I’m sure there were references to the source material and characters that went over my head, but that didn’t take away from the fact that this was a fun-filled ride.
When Edgin (Chris Pine) and Holga (Michelle Rodriguez) are imprisoned during a heist gone wrong, Edgin wants nothing more than to get back to his daughter. In order to do that, they need to pull off one last heist, teaming up with old and new friends, and crossing paths with old and new foes (including a perfect against-type role played by Hugh Grant). There’s magic, dragons, sword fights, and double-crosses galore, making this a movie for anyone who likes a good old-fashioned adventure story.
This TV series starts with a road rage beef between down-on-his-luck handyman, Danny Cho (Steven Yeun), and about-to-sell-her-business-and-become-a-multi-millionaire, Amy Lau (Ali Wong). They have nothing in common, other than being a child of immigrants who wants to do better than their parents. The reason why Amy even starts the road rage incident when her life is perfect is a big question of the series, and it gets answered as each episode develops. Full of twists, blackmail, and the horrible things we can do to each other, Beef ends up in a place I think few would suspect. The character development and arcs are masterful, and Ali Wong and Steven Yeun play their very flawed characters to perfection.
The Night Agent
When FBI agent Peter Sutherland stops a subway bombing, he’s rewarded with a job in the White House answering a phone that will only ring when undercover agents need help. This night job has been uneventful until he gets a call from a civilian. Disgraced cybersecurity whiz, Rose Larkin, has been outed from the startup she created and then caught up in the murders of her aunt and uncle. Given a phone number and code words before running from danger, she calls the night number and gets Peter. The two form a bond as he talks her through her escape and they are then caught up in a conspiracy that goes all the way to the President. A great show for watching something entertaining to switch off, The Night Agent is full of action and just the right amount of romance. It’s already been green-lit for a second season, with the story for this season wrapped up nicely by the last episode.
While the green screen of this movie is more than obvious in most scenes, and the storyline is pretty basic, it’s saved from being completely forgettable by its two leads, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas. Teaming up again after Knives Out, they have good chemistry as a farmer who is looking for a girlfriend, and a CIA agent who wasn’t looking for a boyfriend but ends up with one anyway. The role reversal of having her as the action-fighting agent and him as the distressed “damsel” caught up in a CIA op gone wrong is refreshing, and the movie alone is worth a watch when a bounty is put on their heads and almost every celebrity you can think of pops up for a cameo. It’s popcorn movie fun at its finest.
River Witch By Cheryl Burman
Although I found the start of the story a little slow, I quickly became invested in the characters, and once that happened, I could not put this book down. Beautifully written with song-like prose, River Witch tells the story of Hester, a young girl who has heard the call of the river and its nymphs all of her life. Working on the family farm, she wants nothing more than to learn how to use nature to heal. As she grows into a young woman, she’s given that chance by a stranger who lives in a nearby cottage.
Aaron can hear the nymphs and the river too, but his past keeps him from succumbing to his true feelings for Hester. The story rounds out with accusations that Hester is a witch, and the interest of the brutish fisherman, Jem. He is intent on making Hester his wife and the way their paths cross makes for a stunning final showdown. The characters of this story really made this book for me and I loved the friendship between Hester and Catherine, the slow-burn romance of Hester and Aaron, and that Jem was a true villain worthy of the scorn the author expertly creates for him.
Days End (Fortune’s Well Book #3) By Chantelle Atkins and Sim Alec Sansford
The third and final book in the Fortune’s Well series kicks off in the aftermath of book 2. Darcie and JJ are trying to get back to living normal, teenage lives, but as their own powers continue to develop, and they find even more Fortune’s Well residents with abilities, it’s time to finally uncover the long-held secrets of their powers and where they came from. The duel POV of this series continues to be a highlight, especially when it’s written by two different authors so seamlessly. They’ve crafted the perfect ending for the series, one full of reveals, and twists, and guaranteed to pull on the heartstrings.
The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them) By Jack M. Bickham
Full of logical advice for all different levels of writers, these common mistakes are good reminders of various writing tricks that can strengthen your words. Written in a conversational tone, Bickham’s book doesn’t shy away from giving straight, sound, solid advice. I didn’t agree with all of it, such as not showing your work in writing groups with other amateur writers, but found the majority of the 38 mistakes worth reading and taking on board.
Christopher Pike Books
Inspired by the Netflix series, The Midnight Club, I decided to spend 2023 re-reading the books of my favorite author, Christopher Pike. It was his books that put me on the path to writing for Young Adults, and it’s interesting reading them now as a writer rather than just a reader. For these books, I’m enjoying the nostalgia and reading for fun and not to review.
This month I read The Immortal, The Wicked Heart, The Return (Remember Me #2), The Last Vampire, Black Blood (The Last Vampire #2), and The Lost Mind.
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
Melbourne to Sydney road trip. It’s always fun to take photos from the road and to capture what changes in-between visits to my two home states.
On The Blog…
In case you missed any of my posts, or want to read them again, here are the latest blogs.
- March 2023 Roundup
- Action Scene Do’s And Don’ts
- 3 Ways To Mess Up Your Character’s World And Hook Your Readers
I’ve been continuing to guest on The Australian Booklovers Podcast for their Blog Tip segment, where Veronica Strachan (aka V.E. Patton) and I briefly chat about different writing tips. You can check those tips out, as well as author interviews, book reviews, and other great ABL podcast content, here!
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, Writing A Book: 6 Ending Types.
Blackbirch Review Of The Month…
This review is from 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:
- Blackbirch: The Beginning (Book 1)
- Blackbirch: The Dark Half (Book 2)
- Blackbirch: The Ritual (Book 3)
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 April Roundup. What did you get up to this month?
— K.M. Allan
You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
2 thoughts on “April 2023 Roundup”
So glad you’re making progress on book 4! I took a trip home in April, too, and it was less than stellar. I’m still on my writing sabbatical, but the urge to create is making itself known. It may be another month or so before I finish all the necessary tasks. Hope you have productive month of May!
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Thanks, Alex! Enjoy your writing sabbatical. I had most of April off (intentionally and then unintentionally 🤣), and I also found it made me eager to create again.