Putting the Writing First: Spring 2022 in Review

Ooof. Remember when I used to do these on a monthly basis?

As I’m a bit behind on things, I’d thought instead of doing just June in review, I’d cover the entire spring season. That’s quite a lot, so let’s jump right into things.

A Superhero Heist Story: Publishing Breaking and Entering and working on Red and Black #6

Early May brought the fifth book in my Red and Black series, Breaking and Entering! In this story, Dawn and Alex find themselves faced with an impossible task. They, and a team of unlikely allies, must break into a SynergyCorp facility to prevent another Project Regen-like scenario. It was nice to really get to dig into the SynergyCorp storyline after Dawn’s trip to the future, while watching her and Alex struggle with the burden of knowing what’s to come. The actual publication process was a little stressful, thanks to a delay on the cover art. Fortunately, that’s all in the past and you can pick up your copy of Breaking and Entering today!

I’ve also put some time into Red and Black 6, the next book in the Red and Black series. And let me tell you, it has been a challenge. Writing fiction is a complex juggling act of macro and micro plots, individual character journies, and overall themes. If you do it right, it should look effortless, but it doesn’t always feel that way. This is especially true with the sixth book which needs to deal with that cliffhanger from Breaking and Entering and set things up for the seventh and final book in the series.

Every time I revisit this project, I feel like it comes away stronger. But this spring, I knew I needed to step away from it for a moment, which led me to push another project up my timeline.

Diving into Portal Fantasy

In January, I mentioned that I would be working on a new fantasy novel this year. And I am bucking all self-published fantasy trends by making it completely standalone. Yes, I know that this is not smart, but I am full of stand-alone novels ideas that are just begging to be read!

As a series writer, this has provided me with its own set of challenges, as I’m used to each book building on the last. One of the side effects of that? This book is going to have a longer page count than anything I’ve ever written. Fortunately, doorstopper novels aren’t exactly something new in the fantasy genre.

As of the writing of this blog entry, I’m a little more than a third of my way into the book. Like all of my writing projects, it’s going to require a fair amount of revisions, so I can’t honestly say when it will come out. As a result, I’m not hugely comfortable sharing plot elements. Unlike The Twin Kingdoms series, it is not a fairy tale retelling, but like The Twin Kingdoms, I am having a lot of fun with the world-building.

A couple of hiatuses: Podcasting and Beta reading

Before diving into my portal fantasy, I knew that it was something I really wanted to focus on. Part of this was because building a new world from the ground up takes a lot of mental effort. The other part was because I had taken on way too much and was completely overwhelmed.

The back half of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 were frankly, a lot to handle. I published four novellas and a novel, and even though the majority of the writing of those took place long before that, it doesn’t change the fact that the publishing/promotional process takes a lot of time and effort. Even as someone who’s been doing this for four years now, I can still find the whole thing to be overwhelming. Some writers are also master marketers. And while I love being part of every part of the publishing process, I’ll always be a writer first and a publisher second. Publishing so many things in less than a year put me in one of those situations I thought I would never fall prey to. I was too busy with the business of writing that I didn’t have enough time to write.

So before I shifted over to my portal fantasy novel I decided I was going to take a break from two things: beta reading and podcasting.

This wasn’t an easy decision. I know that I will be opening back up for beta reads by the end of the summer, but a lot of indie writers work on narrow timetables. When they ask you to beta read a book, they usually need to hear back from you in weeks, not months. As a result, I’ve had to turn down multiple beta reader requests, which feels like I am letting my friends down. And in taking a step back from my podcast, I feel like I am treating my listeners as if they are second-rate when I appreciate every one of them so much.

Whenever I feel guilty about this decision, I remind myself of one very important thing. That this isn’t going to last forever. I’ll be open to beta reads again by the end of the summer, and the podcast will likely return sometime in the fall. There’s more to being a writer than just the writing. But writing is one of the most vital parts of the process. And sometimes, you’re going to have to prioritize that. And that’s okay.

A sneak peek at summer!

So what’s next, you may ask? Well, on the writing front, the goal is to focus on this portal fantasy book until sometime in August and then shift things back to superheroes. On the podcasting front, Anna and I will be recording a few episodes of One for All to help us rebuild a buffer so that when we do come back, we’ll be able to better deal with the complications that life has to throw at us. On the publishing front, I will be holding some sort of ebook sale around July 31st for my birthday. I’m still working out the details, but the idea is to discount some books in both my superhero and my fairy tale series. So if you’ve read one, and have been curious about the other, this will be the perfect time to try them out.

So that’s it for me! I hope everyone is enjoying the start of their summer. Stay hydrated, wear your SPF, and try not to melt from the summer heat!

Kpop and Dark Fairy Tales: What’s kept me going through 2022

Ah yes. Once again I return to my poor neglected blog. I swear, one day I’ll get back on a more regular schedule. But for today, I wanted to recognize one truth.

2022 has been challenging.

Obviously, it’s not all bad. We’re far from the early days of the pandemic when we didn’t have any defenses against COVID, but there’s no denying that when I check the news, I often find myself overwhelmed. This is especially true given the current assault on Roe v. Wade, the tearing down of LGBT rights, the tragic war in Ukraine, and the fact that everything is just really expensive.

So to keep me sane, I have created an arsenal of things to help distract me so I can be ready for the next wave of news. I thought I’d share some of them here.

Great Reads

I may not have read as much in 2022 as I have in previous years,  but I’ve come across some great books. On the novel side of things, I absolutely loved The Midnight Bargain by CL Polk, which combines fantasy and feminism with a Regency Era-inspired worldbuilding. I also really dug Brandon Sanderson’s Cytonic, which is part of a fantastic sci-fi series (Skyward), that doesn’t get nearly as much love as his fantasy books. And, my most recent favorite, T. Kingfisher’s Nettle and Bone, is a dark fairy tale where the princess doesn’t want to marry or save the prince but murder him.

The graphic novel side of things has been even more successful. I loved NK Jemisin’s take on Green Lantern in Far Sector, Aminder Dhaliwal’s slice of life view on mythology and racism in Cyclopedia Exotica, Tony Fleece’s creepy dog-centric psychological horror comic, Stray Dogs, Saladin Ahmed’s historical graphic novel about faith and Dracula in Dragon, and Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s The Waiting, a heartbreaking story about the people caught up in the fallout of the Korean War.

Kpop

If you recall, I recently posted about how the pandemic has fostered a love for Korean dramas. Because Korean television and music are often linked, it makes sense that I would also find a love for Kpop too. And that’s well-timed because South Korea has put out some great music in 2022.

Some of my favorite new EPs include Stray Kids’ ODDinary, Red Velvet’s Feel My Rhythm, and Moonbyul’s 6equence. As far as full-length albums go, both Taeyeon and Dreamcatcher had delivered some strong stuff with INVU and Apocalypse: Save Us. And on top of that there’s just been a lot of great songs like Kwon Eun Bi’s “Glitch,” IVE’s “Love Dive,” Seori’s “Can’t Stop This Party,” LE SSERAFIM’s “FEARLESS,” VIVIZ’s “Bop Bop,” Solar’s “Honey,” and Billlie’s “GingaMingaYo.” If you’re interested in getting into Kpop I’ve actually made a playlist of some of my recent favorites.

Moon Knight

I’ve watched some decent shows this year, but all have paled in compassion in Moon Knight. Moon Knight is one of my favorite types of shows. It’s twisty and mysterious but also knows when and how to be fun. It focuses on a man named Steven Leeds, who finds himself constantly losing time. Thus begins a journey that will bring him face to face with the Egyptian Moon God Khonshu, the superhero Moon Knight, and the complexities of his own mind.

Oscar Isaac is perfectly cast as the lead of Moon Knight. In fact, he is so good that Ethan Hawke has possibly delivered one of the MCU’s best villains, and no one is really highlighting it because it’s impossible to not talk about Oscar Isaac’s performance. Whether or not we’re going to get a season two is still up in the air, but I would be shocked if we didn’t get some kind of follow-up.

Nintendo Switch Online

And let’s save the most controversial for last! I remember when Nintendo first announced the price point for the new expansion pack of their online subscription service, Nintendo Switch Online. I was honestly a little upset about it. I had planned on treating NSO like I do pretty much every one of my subscription services outside of the ones I use year-round like Spotify and Netflix. I would subscribe to it for the months when I was in a gaming mood, and drop the subscription when I wasn’t. Unfortunately, Nintendo requires you to pay for a whole year at once, and the cost was almost as much as a brand new game. And unlike a brand new game, you didn’t get to keep it.

Now, months later, I’ve come around to the expansion pack, and this has a lot to do with the fact that Nintendo has been adding enough retro games to make the subscription worth it. I really loved getting to replay Ocarina of Time again, and I recently finished a playthrough of the first Paper Mario, which was super enjoyable. With several other games from the service on my list (next up is Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards), and hope for more, I have undeniably gotten a lot of joy out of this service.

Now, could we get some Mario Party DLC?

And there you go! The books, music, TV, and games that have helped me through 2022. Do you have anything you’ve fallen in love with this year? Any thoughts on the titles above?

Breaking and Entering is now available in paperback!

Hey everyone just a quick update about my latest book in the Red and Black series, Breaking and Entering.

The paperback version of Breaking and Entering is now available to purchase. You can pick it up as an ebook and as part of your kindle unlimited subscription as well. I know that this version was a little delayed, and I’d like to thank everyone for being so patient.

I hope you enjoy the latest chapter in the Red and Black series. You can check out the full back-of-book summary below:

Dawn has seen the future. Her beloved city transformed into ruins, destroyed by the man she loves in a fit of grief. As Bailey City’s first superhero, she will do anything she can to prevent it from falling. But before she can deal with what’s coming, she must grapple with her past.

A familiar face has arrived with disturbing news. SynergyCorp has revitalized Project Regen. Only this time, they are experimenting on unwilling participants right in Bailey City. And this time, they’re focusing on children.

Alex’s powers have brought him nothing but trouble, but to break into SynergyCorp, he’ll find himself relying on the tools that once served him as a villain. Is it possible to bring Faultline back for good, or does his disturbing future mean that it’s best to put those skills to rest?

It’s time to take down SynergyCorp once and for all.

Breaking and Entering is out today!

Time for a superhero heist story!

Dawn has seen the future. Her beloved city transformed into ruins, destroyed by the man she loves in a fit of grief. As Bailey City’s first superhero, she will do anything she can to prevent it from falling. But before she can deal with what’s coming, she must grapple with her past.

A familiar face has arrived with disturbing news. SynergyCorp has revitalized Project Regen. Only this time, they are experimenting on unwilling participants right in Bailey City. And this time, they’re focusing on children.

Alex’s powers have brought him nothing but trouble, but to break into SynergyCorp, he’ll find himself relying on the tools that once served him as a villain. Is it possible to bring Faultline back for good, or does his disturbing future mean that it’s best to put those skills to rest?

It’s time to take down SynergyCorp once and for all.


Are you ready for the fifth book in the Red and Black series?

Breaking and Entering is available to purchase in both ebook and as part of your kindle unlimited subscription. I really hope you enjoy reading this one as much as I enjoyed writing it. Reviews, as always, are appreciated, but please don’t spoil the ending on this one! I can trust you, right?

Also, if you’re a print reader, you may have noticed that paperback was not listed in the description above. That is because there’s been a delay on the artwork. I am really sorry about this. My readership for the Red and Black series isn’t as print-focused as The Twin Kingdom, but I know that you guys are out there. I’ve received your messages and emails and know some of you have been here since 2018. I will be taking steps in the future to make sure this doesn’t happen with future books.

If you’d like a paperback version of Breaking and Entering, keep an eye on this blog for the announcement of its availability. I’ll also be giving people a heads up on my Twitter and Instagram.

Read the new Red and Black book early: Breaking and Entering ARC offer

Hello, in case you missed it, the fifth book in the Red and Black series is coming out on May 4th!


Dawn has seen the future. Her beloved city transformed into ruins, destroyed by the man she loves in a fit of grief. As Bailey City’s first superhero, she will do anything she can to prevent it from falling. But before she can deal with what’s coming, she must grapple with her past.

A familiar face has arrived with disturbing news. SynergyCorp has revitalized Project Regen. Only this time, they are experimenting on unwilling participants right in Bailey City. And this time, they’re focusing on children.

Alex’s powers have brought him nothing but trouble, but to break into SynergyCorp, he’ll find himself relying on the tools that once served him as a villain. Is it possible to bring Faultline back for good, or does his disturbing future mean that it’s best to put those skills to rest?

It’s time to take down SynergyCorp once and for all.


The ebook is currently available for preorder, and the print book is also in the works, but you can also get my superhero heist story a month early! The reason? Authors often send out free copies of their books to reviewers as a way to generate early buzz. This is a good fit for you if you like to review books and products on sites like Amazon, GoodReads, Bookbub or your personal blog. All you need to do is disclose that you received a free copy of the book from the author.

Would you like to receive an ARC of Breaking and Entering? Just fill out the form below to be put on the list. You can also leave a comment with your email address if that’s easier for you.

Introducing Breaking and Entering: A Superhero Heist Story

Are you ready for the next book in the Red and Black series?

Dawn has seen the future. Her beloved city transformed into ruins, destroyed by the man she loves in a fit of grief. As Bailey City’s first superhero, she will do anything she can to prevent it from falling. But before she can deal with what’s coming, she must grapple with her past.

A familiar face has arrived with disturbing news. SynergyCorp has revitalized Project Regen. Only this time, they are experimenting on unwilling participants right in Bailey City. And this time, they’re focusing on children.

Alex’s powers have brought him nothing but trouble, but to break into SynergyCorp, he’ll find himself relying on the tools that once served him as a villain. Is it possible to bring Faultline back for good, or does his disturbing future mean that it’s best to put those skills to rest?

It’s time to take down SynergyCorp once and for all.


Wow. How are we five books into this series already?

In so many ways, it feels like it’s been a long time. I came up with early versions of the characters of Dawn and Alex (plus Calypso, Sunshine and Steve) back when I was in college. I began writing the first book in the series in November of 2014 and published it back in August of 2018. In so many ways, that feels like a lifetime ago.

But in so many other ways, it doesn’t. Because not only is Breaking and Entering the fifth book in the Red and Black series, but my tenth published book overall. And on top of that, it’s the first heist styles story I’ve ever written, so I guess this May 4th is going to be a day for a lot of milestones.

As you may have surmised from above, Breaking and Entering will be published on May 4th. The goal is to have print, ebook, and the kindle unlimited versions available on release day. I’ve managed to do that so far with all of my previous books, and I hope to do the same here. You can preorder the ebook version today, and add it to your goodreads shelf.

I am so excited to get to share this story with you! I will be posting sample chapters and ARC offers on this blog in the near future.

An Indie Author’s Two Cents on the Multi-Million Dollar Brandon Sanderson Kickstarter

If you hadn’t heard of Brandon Sanderson before March first, there’s a pretty good chance that you do now. That’s the day the popular fantasy writer launched a Kickstarter about self-publishing four upcoming books, then proceeded to break every record imagable a handful of days.  Sanderson is an author used to making waves. From taking on the impossible task of finishing the Wheel of Time to his multi-series mega-verse The Cosmere, Brandon Sanderson is arguably the biggest name in fantasy right now.

But even for him, this is a lot. It’s even gotten to the point where people have been asking me, a small-time fantasy writer with a minuscule online following, for my take. So I figured, why not get into it?

But first? A disclaimer. I am a Brandon Sanderson fan. I first picked up Mistborn in 2015, have read 90% of the books he’s put out, and have thoroughly enjoyed the vast majority of them. There’s going to be some bias here.

So without further ado, I’m going to address some of the biggest takes and criticisms I’ve seen as this crazy Kickstarter closes in on 25 million dollars.

Is this a good thing for writers?

In an era where it’s getting more and more difficult for writers to make any kind of a living off of their work, where indies are finding their profits margins decimated by the increasing cost of ads, and books must compete with a deluge of high-quality streaming content, yes! It is incredibly encouraging that one writer can break Kickstarter because he wrote a bunch of books that people want to buy.

But wasn’t his announcement video insensitive to writers who have been struggling with their mental health/productivity during the pandemic?

For those of you who haven’t seen the video, Sanderson announced his Kickstarter in a youtube video. It begins with what almost feels like one of those infamous YouTuber apology videos. Sanderson talks about how tough the pandemic has been, and how he has been lying to his audience. But just when you think he’s going to announce a delay on a forthcoming book, there’s a twist! He has dealt with the pandemic by stress writing a growing pile of manuscripts.

A lot of people have interpreted this as a dig against writers who have been struggling with their mental health and productivity during the pandemic. As a writer who has been struggling with her mental health and productivity, I did not take offense. In fact, it is so hard for me to see this as an intentional dig at writers in pain, that I struggle to understand how anyone can make that criticism in good faith.

But unintentional hurt is also a thing, and as someone who’s been down that emotional hole my fair share of times during this pandemic, I can understand why some folks feel like this. My heart genuinely goes out to people who are struggling, and I am not going to tell you specifically how you should react to it.

Isn’t this level of productivity damaging for other writers? Doesn’t it make it look like writing a book is easy?

This is where my background as an indie is coloring things. In a world where so many voices seem to be yelling out that mantra that high volume publishing is the way to go, I see writers who are capable of this level of productivity all the time. But clearly, that is not the norm. And I think most writers know that too. I also think that most Sanderson fans get that. I mean, have you seen some of the memes about this man’s productivity?

Credit @Kisaoda on Twitter

At the same time, there will always be dummies that look at something like Brandon Sanderson’s output and use it as a way to look down on writers who are less prolific. Fortunately, these bad takes have (so far) been few and far between. Let’s keep it that way.

Sanderson is a highly successful author with deep pockets. Isn’t Kickstarter for people without the backing of a traditional publisher or the financial capability?

I supported my first Kickstarter back in 2012. It was for a mildly popular webcomic, and the creators wanted to do a special print run This is not something they could have afforded to do without a site like Kickstarter, and I still treasure the hardcover I received as part of this campaign and the two campaigns that followed.

But ten years later, for better or for worse, Kickstarter is a very different machine. Plenty of people more or less use the website as a way to drum up excitement/preorders, or as a way to gauge how many copies they need to print. I can understand why people are critical of this change, but I have accepted it.

As for why Sanderson didn’t just go through his publishers, this is something he actually addressed in a live stream on his youtube channel.  He spoke about how right now, so much of his sales are going through the mega-corporation that is amazon (and audible), and while he isn’t anti-amazon, he wants to be able to explore other options. That seems smart to me.

In addition, given some of the things that Sanderson mentioned in his announcement video, I have to wonder how much of this has to do with legacy. The further you get into your writing career, the less it becomes about writing the next book, and the more it’s about seeing your writing as a whole. And while Sanderson is far from old (he’s in his mid-40s), there is no guarantee on how many years life with give us. Robert Jordan died at 58. Terry Pratchett, who Sanderson is a fan of, only got to 66 years. As Sanderson continues to build his career, I can imagine wanting to leave behind a body of work that is not just large series, but also interesting, and at times weird standalone novels that stretch his creativity in different ways.

If Sanderson can do it, anyone can, right?

One of the most inspiring things about this Kickstarter is it shows what fantasy writers are capable of, and indicates that there is real money to be found in the creation of original fantasy worlds. But let’s be honest, just because one writer can do it, doesn’t mean that everyone can. And when it comes to the wide range of possible success rates for fantasy writers, Brandon Sanderson is the fucking ceiling.

I’m sure that there are plenty of people looking at this Kickstarter right now and wondering how they can do the same thing. I know that because when Sanderson completed his last Kickstarter that’s what a lot of folks did. And while I can understand how some might look at this and see money on the table that they’re just leaving behind, no one is going to replicate it exactly.

Brandon Sanderson can launch a 24 million (and counting) Kickstarter because Brandon Sanderson’s life and career have followed a very specific path shaped by innate talent and luck, as well as hard work and privilege. Sanderson was able to boost his visibility in a big way by finishing the Wheel of Time series and has been dutifully building his audience through the publication of well-received works, and a solid online presence for over years. And he has a large staff that can fulfill all these campaigns promises while he writes the next thing.

Down with gatekeepers! Is this Kickstarter the death knell for traditional publishing?

No.

Brandon Sanderson has stated that he has no interest in leaving the trad world behind right now. He’ll still be publishing books like Mistborn and Stormlight through his publishers and those books make bank.

What this more represents is the larger trend of traditional authors going hybrid. Gail Carriger and Kelley Armstrong, who are not as big as Sanderson but are quite successful in their own right, are already doing this, and they’re not alone. More and more traditional authors are seeing self-publishing as a way to tell different types of stories and expand their body of work. Obviously, Sanderson is the biggest one to do this so publically. But while this represents how the publishing world is changing and being shaken up, I wouldn’t count the traditional space out yet.

And I say that as a proud indie.

So those are my (very long!) thoughts on the latest Brandon Sanderson Kickstarter. For those of you who made it this far, I hope that answered all of your questions.

So what’s with all the kdramas, Nancy?

If you caught my list of top shows and movies of 2021, you may have been surprised to find four Korean dramas in the top ten and even more in the honorable mentions. Like many, 2021 was the year that I discovered kdramas, and it went beyond the Squid Game phenomenon. This may have you wondering, why did I, a white American woman in her 30s, get really into South Korean content this year?  After thinking about it for a bit, I’ve actually come up with some solid answers.

It’s not ENTIRELY new

Before 2021, I had never watched a Korean drama, but that didn’t mean the subject was entirely new to me. A solid decade ago, I actually went through a jdrama phase. This mainly came out of my love for Japanese anime, and Japanese music, as most of the TV shows and even films I watched were either manga adaptations (Hana Yori Dango and Nodame Cantabile) or starred jpop singers (Tokyo Friends, or the film Taiyou no Uta).

Of course, I understand that Japan and South Korea are two different counties and that their entertainment is also different, but given that I was already experienced in a related area, Korean dramas weren’t as big of a leap. I’ve also been watching anime for many years, making me experienced with subtitles, which can be a big hurdle for some people.

The Hype

I’m not the type of person to like something just because it’s popular. In fact, in my teenage years, I could be a bit of a contrarian! But there’s no denying that you’re more likely to know about something if people around you are talking about it, and a lot of people started watching Korean dramas in 2021.

Weirdly enough, it wasn’t social media that first brought dramas to my attention, but booktube. I am a regular follower of Reagan (PeruseProject on youtube) and her reading vlogs. One thing I enjoy about these vlogs is how she doesn’t just talk about books but also allows us to see into her life, which happens to involve kdramas. After hearing about her rave about them week after week, I was convinced to give them a try.  My first two dramas (Cinderella and the Four Knights and Crash Landing on You) were based on her recommendations.

It’s all about the structure

This one may sound boring, but I actually think it may be the most important. While some dramas (especially those made for Netflix) break the mold, most kdramas have 16 episode seasons, with each episode at just over an hour. The second most popular format is 20 episode season and occasionally you get 12 episode seasons. Sometimes the installments can run up to an hour and a half each. And most importantly, 90% of Korean dramas are one and done, meaning they never get a second season.

And let me tell you, that is very appealing to me! Don’t get me wrong, I love long-running storylines. I’m a big fan of the anime My Hero Academia, which is gearing up for its sixth season, and I have been happily following the Marvel Cinematic Universe for over a decade But in recent years, I’ve found myself moving away from that level of commitment. Maybe it’s a result of being burned by shows which are great for a few years, and then tank in quality. Or falling into shows that are part of extended universes, which make you feel like you need to be watching all of the connected shows to understand what’s going on in crossover episodes. That’s a big ask!

Korean dramas rarely overstay their welcome. They’re not concerned about getting you to show back up for season two, allowing them to focus on delivering a satisfying ending. And that is something I’ve really come to love about them.

The value of the female perspective

This may be because I tend to be drawn to shows that include some level of romance, but the kdramas I pick often have a female perspective either front and center or in important support roles. And that lines up with my personal taste. It’s not like I’ll turn away a sausage fest (I still love those Lord of the Rings movies), but I’m more like to turn to content that has women in it. Of course, this doesn’t happen all the time. One of my personal favorites Memories of the Alhambra, actually vastly underutilizes its female cast. But most of the dramas I watch aren’t afraid to put women and women’s experiences front and center.

High-quality talent

Being an American often leaves you with the perspective that Hollywood (and by extension, the American television industry) puts out the best content. After all, people come from all over the world to star in our stuff. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t great material coming from elsewhere.

And guys, there is some really good shit coming out of South Korea right now.

Everything I wrote before this—the hype, the appealing structure, etc—is completely true, but I wouldn’t have stuck around if the performances weren’t good. And if you think about it, they really have to be. Watching Korean dramas sometimes feels like going back in time. Since there are no mega franchises, people end up following their favorite actors from show to show. I am no exception to this. A lot of the time, I am more likely to pick up a show if it stars an actor I’ve already been impressed by. If you can pull me in once, you probably do it again.

Accessibility

The final reason why I’ve been watching more Korean dramas? They’re so easy to access nowadays. With drama-focused streaming services like Viki that are available for very affordable costs (and easy to add and drop from month to month) things are a lot different from ten years ago when I was watching pirated Japanese dramas and movies on Daily Motion. Hell, you don’t even need to have a drama-specific streaming service. Watch one kdrama on Netflix, and they will start recommending them to you by the truck full. In addition with great sources like mydramalist and youtube channels all about kdramas, it’s easier than ever before to learn about dramas and research them in advance so you know you’re getting something good.

So those are some of the reasons why I’ve really gotten into kdramas over the past year or so. Have you also started watching Korean dramas? What are your favorites?

Magical Crime Families and Kaiju: My 2022 TBR

Last year I made a list of the books I wanted to prioritize in 2021, and it actually worked out pretty well. I ended up reading eight out of the ten books (including one DNF), which isn’t all that bad! As a result, I’d thought I’d do the same for 2022. Unlike last year’s list, which was entirely made up of 2019 releases that I wanted to “catch up” on, this one is a mixture of 2021 and 2022 releases. Keep on reading if you’d like to see the books that I will be prioritizing in 2022.

Cursed Luck by Kelley Armstrong– How did I not get to this one in 2021? Can I blame Kelley Armstrong for having too many releases?

Cursed Luck is the first book in a new urban fantasy series, originally serialized on Armstrong’s website. I know this because I read  (and enjoyed) quite a few chapters. But as someone notoriously terrible at keeping up with serials, I ended up falling behind. I am genuinely looking forward to picking up the book version.  The energy between the main characters was fabulous, and I was a big fan of the luck-based magic system. And given that a follow-up (High Jinx) has already been published, I have plenty to catch up on!

The River of Silver: Tales from the Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty– Given that Empire of Gold was one of my top titles of 2021, it makes sense that I would be eager to delve into The River of Silver, which collects short fiction and side stories from The Daevabad trilogy. This one looks to be an audio-first experience, given that the print copy isn’t coming out until almost the end of the year. I’m not sure which one I’ll go for, but I’m grateful for a chance to experience more stories in this world, regardless.

What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher– One of my best discoveries of 2021 was T. Kingfisher, especially when it came to her horror work, which are all retellings of classics. What Moves the Dead tackles the Fall of the House of Usher. If it’s anything like her previous scary books, I’m expecting deliciously creepy tension, wonderfully weird horror, and great banter between the principal characters.

Babel, or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by RF Kuang– RF Kuang’s Poppy War trilogy was deeply critical of colonialism, and it looks like Babel is tackling the topic even more directly. Taking place in London in the 1800s, the book focuses on Robin Swift, a young Chinese man and his complicated feeling surrounding Britain’s involvement in his home country. Babel appears to tackle a meaty topic while utilizing dark academia vibes, and a magic system involving silver and language. So clearly a very different type of book than The Poppy War trilogy, despite its similar themes! I am really curious to see how this is going to turn out, especially given that Kuang was an Oxford student herself!

Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee– Every Nancy TBR needs one or two ridiculously long fantasy books, and for 2022, that book is Jade Legacy. Standing at an intimidating 737 pages, Jade Legacy is the final book to focus on the Kaul crime family and I am really curious to see how Lee ends up wrapping things up. It will likely take some time for me to build up the courage to tackle this doorstopper, but based on the two previous books in the series, it will certainly be worth my time.

Gilded by Marissa Meyer– Marissa Meyer has returned to fairy tale retellings? I’ll read that, thank you! Beyond the obvious. what intrigues me about Gilded is the fact that it is retelling Rumplesteinskin, a fairy tale filled with absolutely unlikeable characters (beyond the poor miller’s daughter of course). One of the interesting things about this story’s retellings is seeing how the writers take on this problem, which is usually by softening the Rumplesteinskin character somehow. I’m curious to see how Meyer handles this.

The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal– Mary Robinette Kowal is easily one of my top 5 authors and has been for a few years now. The Spare Man steps outside of her established series (The Lady Astronaut, and The Glamourist Histories) to deliver a sci-fi mystery book. I’m a sucker for mash-ups, and it’s an area where Kowal flourishes, so I am really curious to see how this one turns out.

Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson– Much like Kelley Armstrong, Brandon Sanderson is an author that I struggle to keep up with, and I can guarantee that Cytonic is not the only book of his that I will be reading in 2022. But I absolutely love the first two books in this series, and can’t wait to see where he takes Spensa and M-bot next as the universe surrounding Skyward seems to get bigger with each installment.

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi– As much as I enjoyed Scalzi’s epic sci-fi trilogy, The Interdependency, it’s his stand-alone works that tend to stick with me the most, which is why I am pumped for this book about a delivery driver that gets pulled into an animal preservation site that just happens to be dedicated to kaiju. What could go wrong?

The Unicorn in the Clockwork Quest by Lou Wilham– As you may have seen, Lou Wilham’s steampunk Rapunzel telling, The Girl in the Clockwork Tower, was one of my favorite books of 2021. So it would only make sense that I would make it a point to read the follow-up in 2022. Focusing on two side characters of the first book, I am really interested to see how this book builds on the first. Also, how can you go wrong with a book about a unicorn?

There you have it! My 2022 TBR. Let’s see how well I do with my list this time around.

The Starlight Blade is Published: Read the final book in the Twin Kingdoms Series Today!

All good things must come to an end.

The Warrior Princess

Viola Verdis would do anything to protect her family. But what can she can do against The Mage King—an ancient enemy who hides in the shadows and uses others as pawns? With the royal family scattered for their own protection, it falls to Viola to protect her father, King Valient. But The Mage King’s latest weapon has plenty of tricks up her sleeve.

An Assassin in Disguise

Rue regrets joining The Mage King in his quest to sacrifice the royal family. And now, his magic burns in her chest, tying her to his will. By day, she disguises herself as a kitchen maid, masked by her cloak of many furs. By night, she plans King Valient’s demise, armed with the weapons of her late mother, Kelvia’s most notorious assassin. Only one person stands in her way, the king’s ever-present and infuriatingly beautiful daughter, Viola. Viola draws Rue in like no one has ever done before. But following her heart is impossible when she knows what she must do.

Spill royal blood, or die.

As of today, the fourth and final book in my Twin Kingdoms series, The Starlight Blade, is available to purchase in ebook, paperback, and is free as part of your kindle unlimited subscription.

Just like the previous books in the series. The Starlight Blade is a retelling of the fairy tale Allerleirauh, also known as Donkeyskins or All Furs. It’s a much lesser-known fairy tale, but one with devoted fans (including myself). The focal characters this time around are Viola and Rue, who you’ve been introduced to in previous books, and I had a really good time getting into their heads and getting to know them better.

Thank you to everyone who’s supported the Twin Kingdoms, whether you’ve been around since the beginning, or are just picking them up today. It’s been a fascinating experience as a writer (very different than my Red and Black series!) and one that I will take lessons from for my future publishing endeavors. I really hope you enjoy The Starlight Blade and the Twin Kingdoms series as a whole!