Greetings fellow readers and writers! Another month has flown by, and with it came an array of new worlds to explore, characters to meet, and tales to untangle. As I continue to pen my high fantasy novel, “Beyond The Grey,” reaching a 14,000 words this month, I’ve also journeyed through varied realms in my reading.

This month my literary compass pointed towards a rich variety of genres, from the elegant narratives of Jane Austen revisited in multiple “Pride and Prejudice” variations, to the gripping suspense and horrifying thrill of the undead in zombie apocalypse thrillers. I stepped back in time with a historical non-fiction account of a devastating hurricane, and into the harsh reality of a Soviet labour camp. These diverse stories served not only as entertainment but as research, inspiration, and instruction for my own writing journey.

Writing progress

Sierra Montague

Like I mentioned, I added about 14,000 words to Beyond the Grey. I’m pretty pleased with this considering I was out of town for three weeks this month – I wasn’t exactly on my normal routine!

In the interest of spoilers (and future edits) I’m not going to say too much about what Damon, Riann, Sierra and Elisabetta were up to this month, but Beyond is shaping up to be rather a harsher, grimmer novel than Into the Grey was. I’ve been AI-generating some art to use as inspiration for certain scenes – above is very much how I picture Sierra at Tarion castle.

The Month of Austen Variations

I was on vacation for half of July, and that apparently means endless Austen variations. In brief: an Austen variation is a genre of literature that reimagines the classic novels of Jane Austen. These variations can take on many forms, but they typically revolve around the characters, settings, and themes present in Austen’s original works. There is a Variation for Every. Single. Possible. Thing. you can imagine happening to Elizabeth and Darcy, and for many of the other main romantic pairings as well 9I am particularly fond of Henry Crawford & Fanny price re-tellings). You’ve probably heard of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, right?

So this month I read…

“Prevailed Upon to Marry: A Pride and Prejudice Variation” by Mary Smythe, was an interesting twist in which Darcy was the poor-er one (he was just pretending, though). Similarly, “An Affectionate Heart: A Pride and Prejudice Variation” by Heather Moll provided a fresh twist on the iconic tale, revealing a burgeoning affection between our beloved Elizabeth and Darcy. “In Sickness and in Health: A Variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice” by Frances Reynolds reminded me once again of Austen’s charm, but with the dreaded smallpox affecting the romantic narrative of our favorite couple. Shana Jefferis-Zimmerman, in “From Land and Legacy…To Love: A Pride and Prejudice Variation,” adds an element of intrigue around inheritance and social status to the timeless love story. Sarah Ozcandarli’s “Revisit Mansfield Park: How Fanny Married Henry” presented a delightful twist on another Austen classic, painting a picture of an alternate universe where Fanny Price ends up with the flawed yet charming Henry Crawford.

Phew.

The Month of Other Things to Read Than Just Endless Austen – Nonfiction/historical fiction…

Erik Larson’s “Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History” took me through the heart-wrenching true tale of the 1900 Galveston hurricane and meteorologist Isaac Cline’s catastrophic encounter with it.

“One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn immersed me into a deeply introspective journey within the austere confines of a Soviet labour camp.

…And horror/thriller/ZOMBIES!

Nick Clausen’s “Cadaver” trilogy plunged me into a post-apocalyptic world overrun by the undead, and each installment — “Cadaver 1,” “Cadaver 2,” and “Cadaver 3” — left me on the edge of my seat as survivors grappled with increasingly hostile circumstances. These were wonderful and I eagerly await Cadaver 4.

Jonathan Dunne’s “The Squatter” was a horror novel about your typical haunted house, but not particularly creepy enough for me.

Lastly, “The Undead Day One” thru “Day Six” by R.R. Haywood started off as a very unique one-day-per-novel story of zombie survival, but by day six I was a bit tired it. Bonus: I learned how to clear a house. Uh. In case I ever need that, as a systems analyst.

Goals for next month

As we wave goodbye to this month and welcome the new one, I am looking forward to setting and working towards new goals, building on the momentum gained from the past month’s achievements. Here are my objectives for the coming month:

  1. Write 15,000 Words: Building on the progress made this month with my high fantasy novel, “Beyond The Grey,” my primary goal is to add another 15,000 words to the narrative. This might appear ambitious, but I’m confident that with dedication, focus, and a little imagination, I can achieve this. After all, each word written is a step further in the story’s journey.
  2. Read Four Books: My adventure through the literary world doesn’t stop. The goal is to read at least four books next month. Whether it’s another Austen variation, a dive into a different historical period, or venturing into a new genre altogether, I’m excited to see where my reading list will take me and how it might inspire my own writing.
  3. Work on a NaNoWriMo Writing Workbook/Guide: With National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) on the horizon, I am keen to create a workbook/guide that can support myself and other writers through this intense and rewarding writing challenge. This will include planning strategies, motivational tips, and potentially advice gleaned from my own past experiences.

There’s a busy and productive month ahead, and I am eagerly looking forward to the challenges and opportunities it will bring. Each goal will not only further my writing and reading journey but also help foster a sense of achievement and progress. I can’t wait to update you on these objectives as I embark on another month of literary exploration and creation.

Until next time, happy reading and writing!

By Jade

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