My Autumn TBR: End of the Season!

Autumn ended up being a two month season because I wanted it to be Winter already.. I think we celebrate Christmas too early. I’m always reminded of that line from Community: “It’s the crazy notion that the longest, coldest, darkest nights can be the warmest and brightest.” But when Christmas is over there’s still like- 3 months of Winter left. Maybe I’m overthinking. Let’s talk about books instead…

My Autumn TBR: End of the Season!

I finished Conquest, the first book of The Chronicles of the Invaders by Jennifer Ridyard and John Connolly that I really wanted to finish this year. I don’t think that’ll happen but hey! Stranger things have happened. I enjoyed the first book the first time and second time, but I loved the second book the first time I read it so maybe I’ll speed through a re-read..

And I read Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth! I was spurned on to read it by watching the TV show and the first book in the series scratched the itch. Since it’s non-fiction, I’m not rushing to read the rest. I’m sure when the new series is released on Netflix, I’ll pick up the next book.

The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell were on my Summer TBR and have now joined my Winter TBR because I haven’t even opened the first book yet. It’s a real shame. However, in one of the #bookbloggers chats, I found a fellow blogger who loves this series and we’ll hopefully be planning a buddy read soon!

On the other hand, I read both The Lily Bard Mysteries: Shakespeare’s Landlord and Shakespeare’s Champion by Charlaine Harris. I saved the third book; Shakespeare’s Christmas for- well- Christmas, but I’m sure to speed through the rest of the series once I let myself. 

I started the Lux series by Jennifer L Armentrout series as part of my Summer TBR with Obsidian and I loved it! Unfortunately, when I picked it up a couple of weeks ago, it didn’t feel right. I’m a big sucker for the books you read changing with the seasons. And this feels like a Summer series to me. For now, it rejoins the shelf until the sun is out.

And finally, I started the Lord of the Rings series. I took the plunge and got the audiobook for The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. I think everyone can join me in my utter unsurprise that I’m really enjoying it so far. I should, hopefully, finish The Fellowship of the Ring soon. And then onto the next!

And that’s four out of six! That’s surprisingly good for me. Spring was all together useless, Summer was quite good, but this has been my successful so far. Hopefully the streak continues although my Pre-Christmas Winter TBR was outrageous!

How was your reading in Autumn?


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My Winter TBR: Pre-Christmas Edition!

Did you know Winter doesn’t officially start until the 21st of December? The seasons are weird. And I’m ignoring it and writing my Winter TBR now because it’s already snowed and the nearing the end of November. That says Winter to me. And I split it up into Christmas and non-Christmas because Christmas reads are dominating the list!

My Winter TBR: Pre-Christmas Edition!

Shakespeare’s Christmas by Charlaine Harris is the third Lily Bard mystery and  putting off reading it until closer to the season has been super difficult. We all know how much I love Charlaine Harris’s writing and I’ve been really enjoying this series so far. I also got the audiobook; Wolfsbane and Mistletoe that she co-wrote after I mentioned in my Audiobooks I Want to Buy and Why post. It’s downloaded and ready to go!

The one review copy that I have this year to read is The Cat of Yule Cottage by Lili Hayward* and I’m super excited. Cats and Christmas? Those are two of my favourite things! I don’t know a huge amount about it but I know the main character is a writer, so my hopes are high.

I got the beautiful Penguin English Library edition of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens last Christmas from Santa and I haven’t read it since I was a kid so I’m looking forward to it. I’ve seen it in play form and the muppets movie several times so I’m hoping that knowing the story will help with all that Dickensian language I struggle with. And it’s pretty short at 94 pages.

My second Dickens is actually an anthology with a bunch of Victorian authors; The Haunted House. The idea is that the narrator invites over friends on the Twelfth Night and they tell spooky tales. I love a good ghost story when it gets nearer to Christmas, but the reviews on this are still pretty- eh. We’ll see if I get around to it.

Another short story collection, that I got for Christmas two years ago, is The Mistletoe Bride and Other Haunting Tales by Kate Mosse. Come Christmas Eve, I’m going to be well and truly spooked. And if I like it, I have her The Winter Ghosts book too.

I actually won The Christmas We Met by Kate Lord Brown on Goodreads last October but it didn’t show up until February and well- it’s a Christmas book so I waited on reading it. I really don’t know that much about it apart from that it’s set in the seventies and it entered around the main characters mysterious family jewels.

And another Goodreads win is The Proposal by Tasmania Perry which I’m actually currently reading. It’s set in New York and so far, the descriptions of the city are making me long to visit. When I won this, through some sort of computer error, I was sent 10 copies and the publisher told me to just keep them so- giveaway?

I am a terrible, terrible sister who borrowed Batman: Noel by Lee Bermejo from her brother over 4 Christmases ago and never read it. I am determined to actually read it this year because it does look amazing. It’s Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with Batman as Scrooge.

Okay! That’s the Christmas books. Onto the others because the self control I had with my Autumn TBR has failed me. Really, I’m just pulling books over from my Autumn TBR. I want to continue the The Chronicles of the Invaders by Jennifer Ridyard and John Connolly and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, and I want to start The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. We’ll see, eh?

What are you reading in the run-up to Christmas?
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Three Years of Imogen’s Typewriter.

It’s my blogs birthday once again! I say it every year, but I can’t believe a whole year has gone by since I wrote Two Years of Imogen’s Typewriter, two years have gone by since A Year of Imogen’s Typewriter, and three years have gone by since this little blog began! It always surprises me, but the great thing about having a blog is easily looking back at your year.

I’ve learnt a lot from book blogging over the years, much more than these 5 things, and I’m so glad to still be here doing what I love. I went to YALC this year and it just solidified how much reading, and readers, mean to me. Big books or small books, we all have something amazing in common no matter what. And we got to read together when the #Hallowreadathon happened again.

This year I read some great books: If You Go Away by Adele Parks, Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen by Alison Weir, Tenacity by J.S. LawGreen River Killer: A True Detective Story by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case, and more!

I started writing seasonal TBRs to narrow down the books I wanted to read. With these I wasn’t reading only more books, but audiobooks entered my life again this year. And I finally figured out a way to talk about my favourite podcasts, even if I’ve only written one post so far.

And as a little bonus, on my third year blogging I thought I’d giveaway the trilogy that started it all. Just go here to enter!

Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting. Thank you for sticking around.
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Book Review: The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

I heard a lot about The Diabolic when I was at YALC. Pins with the butterfly on them were being handed out left and right, and who can blame them? The cover of this book is amazing. So I was intrigued when the opportunity for a review copy came up, and I jumped on it. The book ended up reflecting the cover pretty well though; half one thing, half the other and not quite either.

The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.

Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.

When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.

As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.

The concept of Diabolics was awesome. I’m a big fan of genetic engineering stories and the idea of these humanoid people who only bond with the one person they’re supposed to protect… Interesting! I wanted to know more; the history, the pricing, the way they’re made, everything. Unfortunately because the world needed explaining too, with new hierarchies and religion and being out in the galaxy, there just wasn’t the time to get the detail in. Set in a Sci-fi universe, trying to work with a medieval political system, it’s too far from our contemporary world to not need more detail.

With this book, the story and action was everything. Which sounds like most books, but The Diabolic was the novel equivalent of those Transporter movies. There’s backstory, but it’s to move the action along rather than add any kind of commentary. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. We all need these kinds of books in our bookish diet. Like chocolate. But if I read nothing but them, I’d stop reading.

Lastly, the romance. Eesh. There was a short minute where I thought the author was going to do some badass ladies loving ladies but my hope was cut short like 90% of the characters lives. The endgame is predictable, although I do like a slow-burn.

The problem in the end was the length. You’re looking at 400 pages, but double spaced and with margins the size of Texas, there wasn’t enough time to delve deep. On the other hand, if you want fast action and slow-burn romance and maybe you’re just looking to get through a fun story; this might be for you!

“Did I injure you in the least?”
“My knuckles ache from punching you.”

If you’re interested in The Diabolic, you can get it here!

What do you think? Does The Diabolic appeal?
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Blog Tour: Fifteen Words by Monika Jephcott Thomas

It’s rare you see books from the German perspective when it comes to the Second World War and Nazi Germany. I’ve only read one. So when I got an email about Fifteen Words blog tour, and a guest post by the author about her choice to write from a German perspective? Count me in! Hopefully my readers will find this as fascinating as I do. So, without further ado, Monika Jephcott Thomas…

Fifteen Words by Monika Jephcott Thomas

Two young doctors form a profound and loving bond in Nazi Germany; a bond that will stretch them to the very limits of human endurance. Catholic Max – whose religious and moral beliefs are in conflict, has been conscripted to join the war effort as a medic, despite his hatred of Hitler’s regime. His beloved Erika, a privileged young woman, is herself a product of the Hitler Youth. In spite of their stark differences, Max and Erika defy convention and marry.

But when Max is stationed at the fortress city of Breslau, their worst nightmares are realised; his hospital is bombed, he is captured by the Soviet Army and taken to a POW camp in Siberia. Max experiences untold horrors, his one comfort the letters he is allowed to send home: messages that can only contain Fifteen Words. Back in Germany, Erika is struggling to survive and protect their young daughter, finding comfort in the arms of a local carpenter. Worlds apart and with only sparse words for comfort, will they ever find their way back to one another, and will Germany ever find peace?

The story I had to tell…

We’ve all sorted through dusty boxes in attics full of photos of our parents in their salad days, letters they sent to each other, memories they shared, perhaps even secrets they kept. For those of us over forty those memories, no doubt, were often coloured by the Second World War. It was whilst doing just that in my own parents’ trove of memories that I discovered stories that were the thrilling, gripping, emotive stuff of novels, which is why I decided to turn them into one.

I think it is safe to say, all writers want their novels to be a critical and commercial success, so writing a novel in English (since I came to live in the UK in 1966) about two young Germans struggling to survive the war in Nazi Germany may seem to be commercial suicide when there has been a tendency in recent years to decry any depiction of the German perspective of the war as revisionist in the pejorative sense.

But my novel doesn’t seek to suggest a moral equivalence between the Axis and the Allies, or to minimize Nazi crimes, or deny the Holocaust. On the contrary. I felt compelled to write this novel now in an age when Europe is once again seeing how war can displace and tear apart the lives of families from so many different countries at the same time, just as it did in World War Two. Then, not only Polish and Russian people became refugees, not only did millions of ordinary British, French, Italians, Africans (the list goes on) lose their lives, but millions of ordinary Germans too. And although it seems almost too obvious to state, it clearly still needs to be stated: not all Germans were Nazis, not all of them supported what Hitler was doing.

German concentration camps are synonymous with the war, but some people will be surprised to find out that the Soviets ran equally barbaric camps for their millions of German prisoners. In my novel Fifteen Words I hope the reader will find the many other truths told there eye-opening.

But I think my aim with this novel was to write a human story first and foremost. A story about two people in love, struggling to reconcile their different opinions, being swayed by all the powerful forces vying for their faith, be that friends, parents, religion or political parties; the kind of things anyone around the word can relate to. And the more stories we read and tell which show how similar we are, beneath all the wonderful and incredible cultural differences we possess, surely the better the world will be for those children sifting through our memories in the dusty attics of the future – or rather the dusty hard drives and digital footprints of the future – where, one can dream, war will play less of a leading role.

Fifteen Words is being released tomorrow and you can get it here!

Have you read any WWII books from a German perspective? What did you think?
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5 Things I Want to Do Before 2016 Ends!

2016 has been so bad, it’s literally become a meme. I don’t know anyone who has had a good year so far. Is it just that I’m getting older and therefore more aware? Or have the past couple years just sucked? Either way, I’m going to try and turn it around as best I can. I was looking back at my goals for 2016 and thought I’d switch it into 5 manageable things to do…

Stationary and a calendar for 2016

1. Get my bedroom in order
My bedroom is in a state of limbo right now. It’s newly decorated, but I’m still waiting on furniture so everything is still everywhere. It’s stressful that nothing has a place. So I’m hopefully going to get some heavy lifting done, build some flat-pack, send a bunch of stuff to charity shops, and just get everything squared away before my family descends for Christmas.

2. Go to Germany
Last December I went to Köln to see the Christmas Markets and the chocolate museum. It was incredible, but my depression was in high-gear.  This year I’ll be heading to Munich for a couple days to get myself in the Christmas spirit. Now I’m a little better at speaking German and my mental health is a little more controlled, it’ll hopefully be a good time.

3. End the year up to date on my degree work
I’m a little behind, it happens. I got really sick in October so I need to catch up if I want to end the year up to date. I have a two week break starting on the 24th of December, and I’d love to not need to work through it. But I will if I have to. I don’t want to start 2017 trying to make up for 2016, I have a feeling there’ll be enough of that in the world.

4. Grow my blog
My blog is going to be three years old this time next week. I’m not completely content with where I am now- I don’t know many bloggers who are!- but I want to learn and grow. I want to publish blog posts that my readers will love, and for my readers to feel about my blog, the way I feel about these blogs. So if you have any ideas- I’d love to hear them!

5. Plan 2017!
2016 was a bust. Even without taking Brexit and Donald Trump into account, there’s also been a huge amount of loss and sadness in my personal life and the lives of everyone I love. We all deserve better, the world deserves better. So, it’s my hope that with a steady plan for 2017, it will be the year that I look back on and think- yeah, we needed that after 2016. I don’t know the specifics but my general thoughts are; beginning year 2 of my degree, starting a podcast, and getting a handle on my physical and mental health.

What do you want to do before 2016 is over?
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NaNoWriMo Check-In #2

I wanted to write these check-ins to keep myself accountable for NaNo and I’m totally regretting it. I haven’t been writing! There’s not much difference from my first check in because the past fortnight has been horrible; both my co-writer and I have been sick, the election happened which was just awful, and I haven’t hit my sweet spot yet.

Laptop with a notebook and pen

The Plan
We took some time out and planned up to Chapter 8 which took some time but helped with understanding where our characters would be at what time, and the pace. Pace is always important when it comes to zombies, and not just the question of running zombies or shuffling zombies. We want to get the spread of the infection right. Too fast and there’s just chaos, too slow and what’s the point. So *spoiler alert* Chapter 8 is when shit goes down.

“I think we’re determined and doing our best considering our schedules. We have a lot of heart.” 
She’s right, as always. We’re going to get this done. We’ve written things in the past that have spanned over three years, different laptops, jobs, huge life events- and we still finished it. No abandoned projects when we’re working on them.

The Word Count
Just over 3500

How are you doing with NaNo?
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Books I Read in October!

October was the month I started so many new series. I kind of hate myself for it because one of my goals for reading in 2016 was to finish more series and now we’re in November and I have double the amount of series I’m currently reading. Whoops! At least I did more reading then I did in my disappointing September.

Books I Read in October!

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
Honestly, I wish I liked this more but I wasn’t a fan! Although I admire Pratchett’s use of similes and metaphors that are completely new, but make as much sense as the common cliches, it didn’t feel like a first book to me. It felt like Pratchett expected you to know about the world already, and when things were explained it was all unnecessarily complicated. I found myself getting lost over and over again and that just isn’t something that happens very often when I’m reading. I couldn’t connect to the characters, I couldn’t settle in the world and now I’m not sure if I’ll ever return!
Terry Pratchett fans, am I missing something? Did I start with the wrong book? Educate me!
His words drifted across Death’s scythe and split tidily into two ribbons of consonants and vowels.

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell
This was in my Hallowreadathon TBR and Wrap-up. High-five! Despite this, I struggle to talk about this book. There’s a nice little segment where the main character gets a lot of literary nannies, Jane Ear and Hebe Poppins being the only ones I recognised off the bat, but I’m sure if I was more well read that I would of known the rest. And, of course, Mary Shellfish and her monster make an appearance too. But beyond these literary references, the story is a little all over the place. Maybe because it’s a kids book, maybe because it’s the first book in a series and Riddell is just trying to get all the characters onto the page.
Overall, I liked it! But I didn’t love it and I’m trying to not let my adoration for Chris Riddell colour my review. The illustrations were beautiful, as always, but the story didn’t do much for me.

Shakespeare’s Landlord by Charlaine Harris
Am I actually reading things off my Autumn TBR? Not just the one from last month but this month as well! I knew I wanted to start a new Charlaine Harris series as soon as I put down my last. The obvious choice for me, after adoring the Aurora Teagarden series, was her other completed cosy crime series, the Lily Bard mysteries.
Guess what? I loved it! Unsurprisingly. I initially gave it four stars but went back and bumped it up to five because I read it at a very busy time during the month and that was probably the only reason I didn’t finish it in one go.
As always with Harris’s writing, you’re immediately introduced to the main character and you grow to love them really quickly. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Aurora but Lily is a fighter, she’s a champion and a survivor and I adore her. There’s a logical reason for her getting involved in the action (something commonly missing in cosy crime), and I didn’t see where it was going until a couple of pages before the big reveal! I missed books like this.
I will say, if you have certain triggers relating to sexual assault and rape, this might be too much. Lily is an amazing character but she is still struggling and it’s important to protect yourself if that might affect you.
Claude’s voice provided a pleasant background sound, like listening to a familiar book on tape.

Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak*
Did you know 1% of the population are psychopaths? Fun fact!
I requested a copy of this from the publisher because my favourite character to write is a woman named Evelyn, and I love reading about psychopaths. This book has its own Evelyn and it based in a prison that houses, and studies, psychopaths.
This was a really smart crime novel. It was put together well, paced well, the characters and back story were interesting, it balanced everything and managed to keep me guessing until the very end. I can’t wait for the next book. I think this will be one of those series that just keeps putting out quality.
I will say the one thing that really pulled me back from absolutely adoring this book was the repetitive flip-and-flop nature of Evelyn’s thoughts and attitudes- I’ve definitely been there in the past with my own mental health but I’m not a professional. I feel like I wanted to wrap her in a blanket and convince her to go to therapy. Hopefully in the next book, she’ll address this and move forward.
But being a good psychiatrist, cop, actor, musician or writer – a good anything – meant being able to take a risk when the situation warranted it.

Conquest by Jennifer Ridyard and John Connelly
Another from my Autumn TBR, I actually read this for the first time in October, two years ago! Pretty neat.
I’ve actually been reading this for a couple months because I’m terrible at re-reads. As soon as that unknown is taken out of it, I find myself really struggling to pick the book up. However, read it I did and unlike my last re-read, my opinions didn’t change. I liked it! I love the characters and the world, the romance and the friendship. And again, my only problem is the info-dumping that happens. If you haven’t read this series, you’re missing out on what YA should be like! And I’m really excited to re-read the next book because I gave it a 5 star review the first time around.
And the earth did indeed surrender, for what choice did it have?

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
I listened to the first book in this series last month, and continued on this month with Moon Over Soho. Unfortunately, this might be the last one though. They’re just not memorable to me. I wanted 80% less of the main character- who I’m struggling to remember the name of as I write this- sleeping with women related to his cases, and for that to be filled up with the magic.
On the other hand, I read one of the graphic novels in the series and really enjoyed it, so who knows.

Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs by Molly Harper
Imagine how excited I was when one of the books from my Books I Want to Buy and Why #9 came up on iTunes for free? I was very excited. I love the iTunes free book of the week service even though I don’t really like reading ebooks because I’m prone to headaches that make reading off a screen for hours just the worst.
But! I really wanted to read this book and if I have it there on my phone, I really didn’t want to buy another physical copy. And I’m glad I didn’t because it was a middle-of-the-road read for me. I felt like there was a lot of judgement of other women and there were a few moments where I was like- yikes. I don’t like that in my reading. It was also very similar to the Sookie Stackhouse series in a lot of places.
The story was predictable, and although this was an enjoyable read- I just want more originality and less vampire story cliché.

What did you read in October?
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#Hallowreadathon Wrap-Up!

Another Halloween goes by, and another Hallowreadathon with it! I actually spent the weekend of the readathon down in London with my family visiting the Harry Potter Experience Tour, which I’ll put a post up on soon if anyone is interesting. This meant I had a 5+ hour drive on Sunday to read, and a bone-deep need to curl up with a good book.

#Hallowreadathon Wrap-Up!

I picked up Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell at a little bit past midnight. Mainly because I had the terrible idea of watching The Woman in Black with my family and couldn’t sleep, that movie is terrifying and even though it was my third time seeing it, it seemed scarier. Anyway, Goth Girl was on my TBR post and I actually only bought this in Summer at YALC when I met Chris Riddell. It ended up being a great readathon choice because it was a quick, easy read and the illustrations were just beautiful. I probably spent more time looking at them then I did reading. I read this during day 1 then went to bed for a fresh start on day 2.

Then it was time for my ‘Monster book’, and I chose Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, another from my TBR. It actually was referenced a lot in the Goth Girl book as well which pushed me towards it, because it’s about time I read it! I didn’t get that far into it though, and I’m still reading it because I don’t think you can rush classics.

However, once I knew that I wanted to draw out Frankenstein, I picked up the sixth hardcover of The Walking Dead. It has monsters galore! This, I finished just a little past midnight after one of those naps that you think will be quick but end up being three hours, so I’m counting it. And blaming it for all of my latest zombie nightmares.

A readthon success! Kind of? I’m counting it.

How did you do in the Hallowreadathon? Have you read any of these books?
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NaNoWriMo Check-In #1

It’s Day 2 of NaNoWriMo and I’m doing a quick check-in before I start writing today. In four weeks today it’ll all be over, and I’d love to have a record of how I did and what worked and didn’t. But I’m getting ahead of myself! NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month where writers around the world get together and write a first draft of 50,000 words in November. Here’s a bit more about my NaNoWriMo…

The Co-Writer
I’ve mentioned Ashley, and linked her blog before, but in short- we met 7 years ago in a The Walking Dead chatroom and a bunch of us just became buddies. As you do with strangers on the internet. We still watch the show, and I love it, even if it has become garbage. Season 6 ended with a cliffhanger that got most fans annoyed and that with the continuity problems led to this conversation and the beginning of it all:

The Story
Late last year, I had an idea for a podcast. It hasn’t yet come into fruition because, in short, 2016 has been awful for my group of friends that I’m doing it with. Without giving too much away, it’s about transatlantic friendships and zombies, because write what you know, right? My character is a 999 Ambulance service operator called Velma. And hopefully in a week, I’ll have something I’ve written that I’ll want to share and a title that isn’t just ‘Ashley and Imogen Write a Novel.’

The Word Count
At the moment- 294. Don’t judge me. I haven’t written yet today.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo?
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