My Craft Books

My Craft Books

This week I’d like to talk about the craft books I truly use, whether they are sitting on my desk or in my Kindle. These are the books that help me in my day-to-day writing or when I’m feeling like I’m a failure as an author. Each one is important to me for some reason and I’d like to share with you why. I won’t discuss every book because I have about sixty that I use regularly, some are exclusively for research and unnecessary for this discussion, but the ones I will discuss have made a major difference in my author life. I will include links where possible and I do not make money from any link I include. The books are in no particular order other than what I saw them in on my desk or in my Kindle (on my desk they are sorted by size in my Kindle I have no idea how they are sorted, but it is probably by what I read them last). 

Physical Books:

These are the books on my desk

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi – Actually, there are six books in this series, and I have all of them. I highly recommend all of them not only because of the way they help describe whatever you may be having difficulty describing, but because each entry (in the Emotion Thesaurus at any rate) is two pages and describes internal sensations and physical appearance.

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff Vandermeer – I was introduced to pieces of this book during my MFA program and fell in love with some of the exercises. Not only are the illustrations amazing, but the book helps me work on my worldbuilding and character development, it is great for any fantasy or sci fi authors who may need a little more experience. 

The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler [3rd Edition] – Another book that is great for fantasy authors although it was specifically designed with screenwriters in mind, I find it helps me get the major plot points and character archetypes figured out. 

Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody – Like the original Save the Cat, this helps an author figure out the story structure, but is designed for novel writing rather than screen writing. I cannot recommend this highly enough if you’re having a slow-moving middle.

Intuitive Editing by Tiffany Yates Martin – Is one of three books on editing that I keep on my desk, but I will only be talking about two today. This is my most recent purchase and is rapidly replacing all my other books on editing and revision because it is practical, Ms. Yates Martin doesn’t just tell you what a problem is, but she gives examples and actionable steps on how to fix them.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print by Renni Browne & Dave King [2nd Edition] – Has been my go-to book for editing and revision along with White and Strunk’s The Elements of Style and I still use it regularly. I do wish they would update it soon as it hasn’t been updated since 2004. 

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King – I have not yet met a writer or wannabe writer who won’t tell you to read this book and I’m no different this collection of essays and memories by one of the greatest writers is amazing. Although the next book may be a close second or even first, it’s purely a matter of opinion.

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury – Of all the books I have by authors about writing, this is probably my favorite with Stephen King’s being a close second. If you haven’t read it yet, go to the library and get a copy to enjoy for yourself.

By Cunning & Craft: Practical Wisdom for Fiction Writers by Peter Selgin – This was a textbook for my MFA program and it has been well-loved if I opened it up you could see where I marked passages inside that spoke to me on a wide array of topics including characters, scenes, descriptions, and more. This book probably taught me more about the mechanics of writing than any other with the exception of How Fiction Works by James Woods (another textbook that I marked up terribly). 

Kindle Books:

I have a lot of books on my Kindle, but I’m only going to talk about the ones that are the most important to me as an author and the list is short even though there are about thirty on there. Here we go:

Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-Publish, and Why You Should by David Gaughran [4th Edition] – This book is free, and David says he’s going to try to keep is permanently free for the foreseeable future.  It’s the first in his Let’s Get Publishing series. David Gaughran along with Mark Dawson are two of the most influential people on my self-published author journey in 2020 (but more on that in another post). In fact, you’ll notice books by both of them in my Kindle list as they have helped me learn more about the business side of self-publishing, something I sorely lacked knowledge of when I started.

Strangers to Superfans: A Marketing Guide to the Reader Journey by David Gaughran – It is the second in the Let’s Get Publishing series and is one of the books I desperately needed four years ago (along with his newsletter and website). It tells about how to identify your ideal reader or fan. 

BookBub Ads Expert: A Marketing Guide to Author Discovery by David Gaughran – This is the third book in the Let’s Get Publishing series and the only one I haven’t been brave enough to try what it teaches. I’m a flaming coward, I admit it. I’ve just barely started advertising and BookBub terrifies me.

Learn Amazon Ads: Use AMS to Find More Readers and Sell More Books by Self Publishing Formula – Self Publishing Formula is the brainchild of Mark Dawson and I recently became a student of his classes. I finally dipped my toes into the shallow end of the advertising pool, and I have to admit I’m very impressed. I am not an affiliate, but if you’re a self-published author like me, and you can afford to take his classes I recommend them.

The Newsletter Ninja: How to Become an Author Mailing List Expert by Tammi LaBrecque – I am still trying to implement everything this book taught me about mailing lists and failing horribly. If you’re like me and have a newsletter that is suffering from a lack of engagement, buy this book you won’t regret it.

The Artist’s Journey: The Wake of the Hero’s Journey and the Lifelong Pursuit of Meaning by Steven Pressfield – I adore this book and another book by Pressfield, The War of Art. They lift me up when I struggle with my day-to-day writer life, writer’s block, and more.

Some of the Strange Research I do for Books

Some of the Strange Research I do for Books

Just because I write in the urban fantasy doesn’t mean that I don’t do my research. In fact, I have spent more hours doing research and falling down the research rabbit hole than I want to mention. Okay, I’m going to mention it, for Golden Opportunity I spent nearly 250 hours on research alone.  Seas of Gold had about 300 hours of research and Golden Parachute had about 350, but that was only because I had to spend more time researching areas that I had minimal memories of from my childhood and I wanted to make sure I did them justice. Now Black Gold and the final book the series are each getting far more research than the other three combined because I moved across country and I have to spend more time researching locations so that I can give them the respect they deserve. 

Honestly, locations aren’t the biggest issues I have when it comes to research. Neither are the gods and goddesses that I completely mess with. Nor are the supernatural creatures that I place into my world with their own unique mythos. My biggest issues are the things I have to research that cause me to worry about the FBI showing up on my doorstep asking all kinds of questions about my Google search history. 

Here’s a few of my personal favorite searches.

Sword fighting – I spent a lot of time learning about sword fighting for one specific scene and then completely blew the scene during the initial writing of it. It was both my biggest failure and one of my most fun scenes to write. 

Knives – Initially I wanted Siobhan to carry guns or swords, but I felt that almost every UF heroine had a variation of a theme when it came to their weapon of choice (knife, sword, or gun). I ended up using knives and then throwing magic in for fun later, but I wasn’t happy with the decision (I’m still not). I have another heroine in a different series, I still haven’t completely decided what her weapons will be, but she’ll be different (I hope).

Guns – I grew up with a father who taught me to respect guns, but that is about as far as my education went. In order to write characters who carried guns I needed to know a little more than what a gun was, so I spent a lot of time learning about them to decide not to use them in the end.

Bombs – There was one scene in Golden Opportunity involving an enchanted rope and bomb filled with a magic spell. I have no clue what a bomb looks like or how one should work other than what one sees on television shows. I spent several days learning about bombs (that was when I worried about the FBI showing up and my nephew taught me about VPNs [virtual private network] although I still haven’t gotten one LOL).

These are a few of my favorite strange searches, have you ever searched anything strange for a book or research project? Let me know in the comments.

V. L. 

eBooks Versus Print: How I Decide What Stays In Which Format.

eBooks Versus Print: How I Decide What Stays In Which Format.

For today’s blog I thought I’d talk about eBooks versus physical books. I’m not Marie Kondo, I don’t think we have to be limited based on what brings us joy, but there are times when we need to cut back on what we keep. Personally, I love the smell and feel of books, but after moving across the country from the Pacific Northwest to South Carolina, I came to the realization that I was too attached to my physical books and had to make a change. Well, it was that, plus there were a lot of them and they took up far too much room and they were heavy. 

Here’s how I decide which books to keep as physical copies and which are eBook only copies:

  1. Was it a gift? If the answer is yes and the person who gave it to me is someone I’m particularly close to, I’m more likely to keep it in my personal library. 
  2. Is it irreplaceable? Yes, there are books that cannot be replaced. For example, autographed copies. Those stay in my library. 
  3. Is it necessary for my writing career? I have a small craft library that I started during my MFA program and I have added to it both in eBook and physical formats. Combined there are thirty physical books and thirty-four eBooks (both numbers will change as I discover I need more research books and find other authors who speak to my author soul). While not all of my craft library is in a physical format, the ones I use the most often such as The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi,Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff Vandermeer, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King, and Intuitive Editing by Tiffany Yates Martin sit right next to my computer on my desk.
Yes, that really is my little craft library.

If I can’t answer yes to at least one of those answers, then the book gets donated to the nearest thrift store. 

eBooks work better for me because they take far less space on my shelves, I don’t have to worry about them collecting dust (allergies suck), and for the most part they cost less than a traditional paperback or hard back book (there are always exceptions to this rule; I’m looking at you trad publishers). 

In the comments let me know which you prefer and why.

Until next time, 

V. L. 

Locations in the Custodian of the Golden Assembly Series

Locations in the Custodian of the Golden Assembly Series

I was born in Washington state and raised all over the Pacific Northwest. I guess you could say the Pacific Northwest is in my blood. When it was time to decide on locations for my series, I chose to set it in my backyard. Obviously, I love my former home. Heck, I practically have rain running through my veins instead of blood but selecting my favorite locations to put in my books was challenging. Here are a few of my favorites and how they made the cut when so many didn’t. 

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? The farm is set in a fictional location based on two small towns. One where I grew up and graduated high school, the other where I spent most of my adulthood. They are typical small-town America where everyone knows everyone (no, I will not be sharing their names), but suffice it to say they could be everywhere and nowhere. 

In Golden Opportunity, locations that the readers are introduced to are mostly in the Willamette Valley of Western Oregon (one notable exception involving a giant toddler). One location for a mission was near Willamette University in Oregon’s capital, Salem. I grew up about thirty miles from here and this is the city we went to when we needed to shop in stores with a better selection than the single store in our small town. 

Salem, Oregon Capital Building

In Seas of Gold, I used settings around water one of my personal favorites was Lake Crescent in Washington state. I used to live near Forks, Washington (yes, that Forks, it is part of the reason I make an excessive amount of Twilight jokes) and we spent an inordinate amount of time at Lake Crescent in the Olympic National Park as a family. I may have exposed myself to far too many ultraviolet rays there as a child, but some of my happiest memories were of the times we had there.

Lake Crescent at sunset

I also had a scene involving some merfolk sunning themselves in Cannon Beach in Oregon. More accurately, they were sunning themselves on Haystack Rock. I’ve always loved this gigantic rock out in the water and had to figure out a way to use it in my book, mermaids made the perfect vehicle to get the location into the story.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon

Another location mentioned in Seas of Gold, is Lake Chelan, also in Washington. If you haven’t had the chance to see it yet, you really should, it’s gorgeous (just look at the picture), but not as gorgeous as the final lake from the book that I’ll show you next…

Lake Chelan

My personal favorite of the lakes in Seas of Gold, is Crater Lake in Oregon. Although, none of the action in the book occurs in the lake it all occurs in fictional caves under the lake it was still important to the climax of the book and worth noting. Tell me this lake isn’t absolutely beautiful, I dare you. I spent days trying to figure out a way to put Wizard Island, the island in the center of the lake’s name, in the book and couldn’t make it work, maybe next series.

Crater Lake

There are so many locations that I want to mention, but I’m trying to limit myself and that means Golden Parachute will only have two locations talked about in this blog post. First, Seattle, Washington. Specifically, the Space Needle with not one, but two dragons hovering near it or on it depending on where you are in the book. As a child, one of my favorite books was Wheedle on the Needle by Stephen Cosgrove. I also have a fascination with King Kong and the Empire State Building, so I had to do some sort of homage to all three in my own very unique way and that is why I chose this location.

The Space Needle in Seattle, Washington

Also, in Golden Parachute, I have a scene involving a pair of sylphs at Multnomah Falls. It is probably the most iconic waterfalls in Oregon and honestly, I couldn’t write books set in the Pacific Northwest and not use it at least once. Since I knew I was transporting the series out of Oregon at the end of book three I was running out of time and it was now or never. 

Multnomah Falls

What is up next for locations? Well, I can’t really tell you much other than it will be in the Upstate region of South Carolina. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

V. L.

Organization for a Self-Published Author’s Life

Organization for a Self-Published Author’s Life

As a self-published author, college student, and the caregiver to an elderly parent, organization is critical, or I would never find time to write. Between Hospice visits, schoolwork, and trying to get my writing career more focused I barely have time to think most days let alone squeeze in time for things like exercise and doctor’s appointments for myself if I didn’t use planners (both electronic and analog) and other tools to keep me organized.

Here’s a few of my personal favorites that I can’t live without. 

Happy Planner – I use both a classic and a couple mini planners. The classic is used for my writing to track what I need to post, edit, my writing goals, research, and other things. The minis I use for tracking personal appointments, medications (I have a nasty habit of forgetting to take mine, but remembering to give my mom hers), and other habit tracking like drinking enough water (I don’t recommend hemodialysis which can happen if you don’t drink enough water and are on diuretics. Been there, done that, refuse to do it again). Plus, they have the added bonus of being able to be prettied up with stickers (I love stickers!).

Google Calendar – First, it’s free which is great if you frugal like me. Second, if you use an android device it notifies you for appointments (sometimes it’s annoying about them if you accidentally make an appointment daily). I use both analog and digital organizers because then I have a guarantee that I can’t forget (Fibro Fog is real my friends).

Trello – An organizing tool that allows you to create your own daily, weekly, and monthly workflows. If you haven’t checked this out, you really should. I’ve been using it to pre-write topics that I want to post on social media when I have a few extra minutes and it works great. I just add extra blocks and fill them out and when I need a topic for a day/week I have one ready to go.

Next, I use other things to keep me focused on my writing and away from the biggest time sink known to humankind…social media.

Scrivener – Yes, I know this is primarily a writing program but it allows me to keep all my research together and composition mode also expands the writing interface to the entire screen so nothing can intrude on your writing. 

Tomato 2 – It’s a Pomodoro timer app for Mac, but there are other programs available you just need to find what works for you. For those who are unfamiliar with the Pomodoro method, you work for 25 minutes, take a short break (3 – 5 minutes), then repeat. Once you’ve done that four times you take a longer break (typically 15 – 30 minutes) and then repeat the cycle again. Until you complete the task. For writing, I set a goal usually a work count or chapter goal and then just write in short bursts using the timer and taking quick breaks to check on my mom or sister, start dinner or a load of laundry, before I go back to writing.

Facebook Creator Studio – I use this to preschedule posts to my Facebook Author Page and Instagram account. It helps keep me away from social media, but still active.

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I also preschedule reader group posts where I can, but I try to log into the group at least once a day to see if I can get people talking. My group is still small, and people don’t talk much there, so I’m trying to grow it.

Tweetdeck – I use this to schedule posts to Twitter when I have something that needs to come out on a specific date/time like a contest or something similar that I’m afraid I might forget. It has been a life saver.

These are a few of my organizational tools, what are yours? Please share them in the comments I’m always on the lookout for new things to help me organize my life.

V. L. 

Hunting Fiends for the Ill-Equiped

Hunting Fiends for the Ill-Equiped

I read a lot, and by a lot I mean at least three novels a day, and some of the time I read more. Lately, I’ve limited myself to no more than two fiction works and only one is allowed to be paranormal/urban fantasy. The latest book series I love is courtesy of Annette Marie and her Guild Codex series. Actually, there are two series:

THE GUILD CODEX SERIES

Spellbound Series:
Three Mages and a Margarita (#1)
Dark Arts and a Daiquiri (#2)
Two Witches and a Whiskey (#3)
Demon Magic and a Martini (#4)
The Alchemist and an Amaretto (#5)
Druid Vices and a Vodka (#6)
Lost Talismans and a Tequila (#7) Available in July

Demonized Series:
Taming Demons for Beginners (#1)
Slaying Monsters for the Feeble (#2)
Hunting Fiends for the Ill-Equipped (#3)


Delivering Evil for Experts (#4) Available in September

Spellbound is my favorite series, because Tori is strong and willing to fight for her friends. She doesn’t just lie down and expect to be rescued by a man.

Robin, the female protagonist from Demonized series is the exact opposite. I don’t normally do spoilers for anyone’s work except my own and this will be dangerously close to spoiler territory. In Hunting Fiends for the Ill-Equipped, she’s still annoying me. Allow me to explain. Three books in, I still love the demon half of the main duet, Zylas. He tugs at my heartstrings more with each book.

Here’s what annoys me about Robin, first, she goes into battle without thinking things through, even when warned. Robin and Zylas are in an illegal contract which works for them, but she doesn’t bring weapons, use defense spells, or dress with armor when they go into the field.

How dumb can she be? I understand she’s young, but come on defend yourself for goodness’s sake. 

If I gave this book/series a rating it gets four stars strictly because of Zylas and the fact that Ms. Marie’s writing is phenomenal. It lost a star because Robin is an annoying heroine when compared to the heroine of the other series set in the same world. The entire series is available on Kindle Unlimited.

Overcoming Challenges as an Author

Overcoming Challenges as an Author

When life throws a challenge my way, I try to push my way through and focus on what’s important—my family, friends, and my writing. As 2020 threw one challenge after another my way, I focused on my family first and my writing second until all I lost the ability to connect with my characters and my sole focus was my family. Now that things have (mostly) stabilized I’m trying to get my head back in the writing game and it’s challenging.

The first thing I did to take control back was revamp my author platform and daily writing schedule. I’ve found scheduling tools so my posts to social media can be created one day and set up to go out on specific days. I’m still not finished, my author group, newsletter, and website need updated but I’m making progress. The next thing on my list of changes was to put my rear in my chair and start writing again.

While I do have household and familial responsibilities that are top priority right now, I spend a couple of hours each night free writing if my characters want to avoid communicating with me. I’ve also started meditating and focusing on my spirituality. I’m not a person who believes in labels or organized religion, but I feel better when I commune with a higher power on a regular basis and I need it right now. The last thing I did to regain some semblance of control was invest in my craft library (which I will discuss in greater detail in a later post), I may have gone a little crazy on it but I have spent a lot of time finding books that I feel help me improve myself as an author. Some improve my writing, others help me improve my revising/editing, and there are others that speak to me as an author and make me feel less alone in my struggles and help me change myself and my writing for the better as I sit at my keyboard.

What do you do when life kicks you in the teeth and you need to create positive mental attitude and change in your life?

V. L.

Where Do My Characters Come From?

Where Do My Characters Come From?

Wow, it’s been a long time since I posted, but I’m hoping that will change since I’ve set myself up with a weekly schedule that I’m hoping will stick. This week, I’d like to talk about my character development process and where my characters come from.

When I first started developing the Custodian of the Golden Assembly series, I knew what I wanted Siobhan’s personality to be and where pieces of her personality would come from i.e. from my sister, friends, and even some of it from me (yes, I’m responsible for Siobhan’s addiction to Pepsi and melodrama–now where’s my free dragon?). dragon-4622407_1920

For other characters, a book or a movie may have something to do with how their personality developed. For example, Norman came from watching the male actors in Guys and Dolls and my fascination with kitschy lawn art. dwarf-1336495_1920Honestly, we’re lucky he’s not a talking, pervy, flamingo. Most of the exchange between Siobhan and Nikolaus in Golden Opportunity came from a conversation between my niece and me about the movie/book Twilight and how vampires should never sparkle (sorry, not sorry).

In reality, my characters come from everywhere and nowhere. I have an entire process that I use for developing characters including pieces from various books that I have read over the years (I’m looking at you Christopher Vogler and you’re character archetypes). My worksheets contain detailed information for each character including who the characters are, what their family looks like, whether it was a family they were born into or if it is self-made, their fears, weaknesses, backgrounds, what they love and hate, how they respond to conflict, and more. Once I have filled that out for each character, then I write detailed psychological profiles for each one filled with family histories most of which will never make it into the novel(s). This information helps me create realistic reactions for the characters and the situations into which I place them.

I’ve also filled out Myers Briggs Type Indicators for my main characters so I know what type of characters I’ve created. For example, Siobhan is an ISFP-T the adventurer, for the record and the heroine for my master’s thesis project is an ISTJ-A the logistician. I test between two different types myself. For years, I was a solid INFJ-A the advocate, but I’ve noticed a lot of authors are INFJ’s. If you’re interested in testing to find your own MBTI personality type, I use this site because you don’t have to sign up for anything or even give an email address to find out the results. I hope you’ve enjoy learning a little about my character development process. Next week, I’ll discuss some of the challenges I’ve faces as a self-published author and how I’ve struggled to overcome them. Consider this me letting you see behind the curtain.

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I posted,

V. L. Cooke

I’m a Little Salty Today (Possible Rant)…

I’m a Little Salty Today (Possible Rant)…

I’ll admit it, I’ve been too busy to blog. It doesn’t mean I don’t love blogging, it just means giphy (1)that between taking care of familial responsibilities, class, my writing, and my thesis I was wearing a little too thin and something had to give so the blog was the first thing to go. Then the newsletter became less frequent because I was becoming butt hurt by all the unsubscribes and spam reports after the one I sent every few months. I had to take a few steps back to get my head back in the game to be the best me I could be for my readers. Today, I was ready to be that person. My thesis is turned in, my final bit of classwork is finished, I’m good to go. Then two interesting things happened that were completely unrelated. One made me embarrassed to be in the same profession as a person and the other just made me salty. The only thing the two instances have in common is that they involve emails.

WTF!Like many people, I follow authors just like fans follow me. I open their emails and read them because I’m a fan. Today, an author I follow for advice on several topics sent out an email with a link to a blog about the topic of mansplaining. Intrigued I had to go read it. The author proceeded to talk about how someone told her that her exercises and classes that she sells are unnecessary for true authors. Whether or not I agree or disagree is irrelevant, what offended me was the screenshots of the conversation between the author I followed (notice the tense) and the person. The author made fun of the person who “mansplained” her because they were an unpublished poet while the author has been traditionally published multiple times pointing out in the screenshots of a private conversation which publishing houses published them and when their next book is coming out. Wait, what does your career have to do with the person who thinks your exercises are worthless for helping someone learn the craft of writing?

I’m sorry, but hubris trumps mansplaining any day of the week. As a teacher of writing you of all people should know that not all tools work for all people and rather than jump down this person’s throat with the “I’m trad published therefore I’m better than a non-published poet” and then blogging about it, perhaps you could have kept it to yourself.

The second incident was one of my creation. I’d decided to revamp my email newsletter. I wanted to make it more personable and enjoyable for my subscribers. I’ve been reading a few books on the subject and felt that my subscribers deserved better than they’ve been receiving from me. I’m a slacker and not proud of it. To fix my email newsletter slackitude I decided to reach out to the subscribers themselves and get their input on what they like and don’t like about emails. I created a survey and asked a few pertinent multiple choice questions. The last question was a short answer question, it was a dumb mistake on my part. Within the first few responses to the short answer question I could see a very clear trend appearing. Most of the responses to that question were my readers telling me they wanted free books and novellas in the email. Although, these were the same people who all stated they didn’t want to see any book recommendations or unedited snippets of works in progress in the newsletter. But contests and giveaways are unanimously approved. Is that what readers expect, contests and free books? Do they not realize that authors can’t afford to fund contests without making a living? Where do they think the covers and editing for those free books come from? Do they think there’s some free editing service and cover designer fairy who’s going to come along and give us those services to go along with all the fully developed, researched, and written plots we’re supposed to pull out of our derrieres and to away for FREE? 

I warned you I was a little salty. I’m not ungrateful. After all, I get to write books and have people read them. It’s my dream life and I do love it, but sometimes I wish people would think about their expectations a little. giphy (2)Don’t get me wrong, authors are just as rude (myself included). My fans don’t get a book this year because I was selfish and wanted to complete my MFA. That’s on me and I own that shit. It was rude and I take responsibility for my actions. I’m hoping I can write fast enough and get book four to the editor soon, but I’m realistic enough to realize it’s probably not likely but with a few good word count days it’s theoretically possible.

V. L.

Amazon won’t let me leave a review. So here it is!

Amazon won’t let me leave a review. So here it is!

I adore reading. In fact, I adore it so much that I read between fifteen and twenty novels a week. When Shayne Silvers and Hailey Edwards had novels come out close together my inner fan girl nearly cried trying to decide who to read first. Hailey Edwards’ Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy Book Four How to Dance an Undead Waltz won. I read this book in one sitting with no breaks and I have no regrets.

giphy (4)Grier is one of my favorite protagonists and I was heartbroken over the ending in book three. I almost gave up on the series entirely due to the ending. I’m trying really hard not to give any spoilers to the series, so let’s say that I’m a die hard Hailey Edwards fan and she almost lost me with the way the relationship between the perennial bad boy, Boaz, treated my favorite heroine, Grier. If it weren’t for my new found fascination with underdog, Linus. I would have walked away from the series and never looked back. However, Linus called to me on a level that I didn’t expect so I gave the series a second chance and book four did not disappoint me at all.

giphyGrier is trying to live up to her title as Dame Woolworth and Linus is doing his part as teacher and guide to help her find her footing in High Society. Things are not going to be easy for the former inhabitant of Atrementous the necromancer prison, since someone has put a bounty on her head and assassins are crawling out of the woodwork. If you are looking for a good read in urban fantasy, I highly recommend the entire series. It’s definitely worth the time. It’s an emotional roller coaster ride. I give it five dragons. I almost gave it four, but only because I’m still reeling from book three’s ending. That still stings Ms. Edwards! (Maybe, I was a little too emotionally involved).

V. L. Cooke