Finding Love in a Book, a Song, and a Hamster

Hey there, paper valentines.

I apologize for the absence last month. Life took some unexpected and traumatic turns, and I decided I would take the time off to get back in the groove before I wrote something I would regret, even if I'm a little late this month too. To that end, I also had no progress to speak of concerning the novel. But ah, how the tides have turned. Check this out.

The Professional Stuff

Letís get down to business (to defeatÖ the HunsÖ #Mulan). While I was in my ghost state, I managed to finish, yes, FINISH, the first book of The Prophecies of Hell. The writing portion of it is finally complete. Seven drafts and six years in the making, and I can officially say Iíve completed my second full-length novel. All thatís left to do now is edit, which is a lot lengthier of a process than you think.

Edits consist of several parts. There are the big pieces, like plot line, scene cuts or additions, and character consistencies. Then you have to work on the smaller stuff, such as minor plot holes or errors, making sure the dialogue is specific to each character as far as style, writing technique, and so on. Finally, you look at grammar and punctuation, because why edit the grammar and punctuation on something you may end up deleting anyway? This is the way Iíve been reading is the best way to approach editing. I bought several self-editing guides over the last month and a half, one of which is a workshop/step-by-step guide type book, and even though I havenít read much of them yet, Iíve learned that part of the process. I plan to get at least two of those editing guides read before I go on to edit the book.

Editing should commence by mid-to-late February.

In addition to working on the novel, Iíve got three other nifty pieces of news.

First, I entered a short story of mine into a Writerís Digest competition. I should be hearing about the results on that within the next couple of weeks. The grand prize winner will receive a cash prize and a paid trip to the writing conference in California. Iím not sure if Iím skilled enough to win with my realistic short fiction (fantasy wasnít permitted in this particular contest), but I figured I could at least try. This will be my second year entering a contest through Writerís Digest, and it will stand as the third major contest I have ever entered.

Second, Iíve begun the outline for book two of The Prophecies of Hell. Iím excited for you all to figure out whatís going to happen in this one. Two new major characters are being introduced, and the dynamic of the war has changed. Hopefully, the drafting of this book can begin in late spring or early summer. With the edits for book one waiting for me, and the outline potentially taking weeks to complete, itís hard to project a timeline for it just yet.

Third, I was blessed with the opportunity to do an advanced reading on a novel by my friend and former U.S. History teacher, Mr. Joshua A. Johnston. ďInto the VoidĒ is the second novel in his trilogy, The Chronicles of Sarco, which I would describe as a Christian Sci-Fi blend. The Christian ideas and influence in the novels are prevalent, yet not overwhelming if you donít find yourself to be the religious type. And though I am not one for Sci-Fi (usually), I found ďInto the VoidĒ to be thrilling, intriguing, and packed full of action and suspense. Itís definitely a book that, while reading, you must pay attention to. Skimming will not do; not that you would want to skim it anyway. Itís just that good. The thought processes and complexities behind the interpretation of faith and science are rich, and the craftsmanship of the world building and species development is just astounding. The book is available on Amazon for purchase as a paperback or as an eBook starting tomorrow, February 6, 2018! If youíre looking for something unique, mentally engaging, and thought-provoking to read, this is the novel/series for you. I should mention that I also did the advance reading on his first novel, ďEdge of OblivionĒ, which is a beautiful start to the series. That one is also on Amazon for sale, and often times there are price reductions on the eBook, so I would definitely check it out! It was a pleasure and an honor to be a part of the advanced reading journey for the first two books of this series. I hope book two soars, and I canít wait for the release of book three!

You can check out Mr. Johnston, his novels, his short stories, and learn about some of his other writing projects here.

The Personal Stuff

I hope your holidays and vacations went well over the course of the last couple of months. Excluding the drama that occurred in my life, I had a lovely Christmas and New Years Holiday season. Iíd have to say my favorite gift that I received was my Nintendo Switch, complete with three games, a travel case with all the necessary equipment, and two limited edition controllers. So far Iíve only finished the plot of Mario Odyssey, but Iím still working on getting all of the power moons. We also received Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which intimidates and excites me at the same time, and Sonic Forces, which is pretty fancy. Iíve started that one, and Iím enjoying the gameplay. The story is more intense than I thought it would be, so thatís pretty neat too.

Iím currently reading the second book in J.R. Wardís Black Dagger Legacy series called ďBlood VowĒ. I liked the first book, but I wasnít blown away by it. This book is different. Iím completely taken. Iím about two-thirds of the way through it, and I canít wait to see how it ends. Then Iíll move on to book three of the series, which was just released in January. That one is called ďBlood FuryĒ. The new Black Dagger Brotherhood book should be out in early April, and Iím ecstatic for that release, as always. Other books on my reading list for 2018 include: ďItĒ by Stephen King, ďThe Grim CompanyĒ by Luke Scull, ďSix of CrowsĒ by Leigh Bardugo, ďTalon of GodĒ by Wesley Snipes and Ray Norman, and a couple of historical fictions such as ďI, Eliza HamiltonĒ by Susan Holloway Scott, ďAmericaís First DaughterĒ by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, and ďThe Boleyn KingĒ by Sarah Dunant (yes, I know Henry VIII didnít have a legitimate son, but the idea is cool).

A short note, though a relevant one. I know Iím eight years late, but I decided to cave and listen to Black Veil Brides, a band Iíve always avoided because every Emo kid loved them (the phrase ďEmoĒ in this case meaning those kids who are kind of like the little cousins of Goth kids, wearing dark clothes and heavy makeup, but being more about music than anything else). I never wanted to like anything anyone else liked, and I also was wholly devoted to Green Day in the most intense Emo years of my life (itís not a phase, bro. Itís a lifestyle if you do it right). But with some life changes come some new opportunities. I really enjoyed Andy Blackís album, ďThe Shadow SideĒ, and so when BVBís new album ďValeĒ dropped, I decided to give the new single a listen. And I was blown away. That same day, I drove down to Target and bought $30 in iTunes cards (I still use my iPod for music despite my Android phoneís ability to play it because I have so many songs). With that, I was able to get three albums. I played them non-stop for a week. Then proceeded to buy $30 more dollars in iTunes cards to get the rest of the BVB collection. I havenít heard a song I donít like. The musicality presented by the bandís instrumental talent is phenomenal and complex, the lyrics are well-written and meaningful, and Andyís voice is so rich and intoxicating, literally. Iím sorry I was an edge lord (*shudders*) and didnít get into BVB sooner. My life is now better with them in it. If you want some good songs to look up, because they canít ALL be song of the month, check out these titles: Wake Up, When They Call My Name, Faithless, Goodbye Agony, I Am Bulletproof, Devilís Choir, Wretched and Divine, Rebel Love Song, Youth and Whisky>, >Knives and Pens, and The Morticianís Daughter.

And my last order of business, I adopted a hamster! He is a Robo Dwarf named Ezra, and he is just the sweetest thing. In the last two weeks, weíve been able to hand-train him, teach him to roll in the ball, feed him from our hands, and teach him his name. Heís quite smart. He was an impulse buy, but he was the best impulse buy ever. Sebastian (the cat), and Coley, Rizzo, and CiCi (the dogs) arenít sure how to feel about him. The dogs tend to ignore him when heís out and about. The cat wants to play with him, but if he charges the cat in his little ball, Sebbie will dive behind the nearest object and cry, which I think is hysterical. I think they all get along fine. Itís just a matter of boundaries.

I hope you all have a great Valentineís Day and that your holidays were fantastic and cozy. I hope to have more exciting news for you next month. I canít wait for springtime (weíre currently in the middle of a growing ice storm. Yay usÖ)! See you then!

Best regards and a lollipop,

Kat Jenning // Shade Shadows

**Song of the Month: New Years Day -- Black Veil Brides**

**I know it isnít New Years anymore, but this is a wonderful song that demonstrates a little bit of everything I love about Black Veil Brides. And itís my first blog post in 2018!**
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