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text 2015-11-29 17:34
So NaNo didn't exactly get my word count right, but nonetheless..

I am a NaNoWriMo Winner for 2015.  That's the good news. :)


Bad news is that this is yet another NaNoWriMo where, despite the fact I've reached over 50,000, the novel's nowhere near done.  My actual word count is around 62,000 - some of it was handwritten, and the rest of it was typed, so I tried the word generator to supplement what was typed...and it screwed up, but I'm leaving the count on the site it as is. Probably when I end up finishing it, it'll be 85,000 - 95,000 words.  So it's hefty.


The idea for "Mark of Contagion" came from a number of inspirations.   (Took forever to come up with a title, but nonetheless it finally came to me mid month as I was writing).  I knew I wanted to pen a female protagonist of color in a fantasy realm that was a blend of old and new scenescapes - so I ended up creating a blend of tech heavy environments and rustic environments in the novel as the backdrop.  Not to mention I've been somewhat inspired from settings that were designed in the backdrop of the old Amiga game "Shadow of the Beast" (which I've heard they're remaking for the PS4).  I think that's the best way to describe the mind and vision I had when penning the novel.


Sadi's a young woman (15-16 years old) who lost her entire village to a brutal plague.  First part of it physically turns the person into a foul looking creature (and this is a transient stage - meaning the person infected can turn back to a human if they can manage the symptoms), second part they lose their humanity and ability to make decisions, third part is a self-destruct stage where the monster's body breaks down, so ultimately it destroys them from within.  The onset of the plague was so brutal in Sadi's village that her people never went through these distinct stages, and she's the only survivor left to tell what happened to her village - at least among the humans who weren't either killed or turned.  She realizes that she's symptomatic of the plague and that she only has so much time to figure out the cause, how to cure it, and how to warn others of its on-coming (because otherwise it'll kill her), but she fights an uphill battle because not everyone is welcoming of her (since she's symptomatic), and some even think she's untruthful and might've been behind the killings of her village and want to kill her before she loses her humanity.  But she travels with a group of colorful comrades who believe in her mission and want to save her before she succumbs to the plague.  That's the basic description of it without major spoilers.


I still have yet to determine how I want to end it, but I know that I'm still working on structuring the novel so far, and there may be some characters I decide to keep and some I take out.


I'm pretty sure that this novel will be one that I work on for another year or so, so after a point, I may set it to the side and try to finish other projects once I get the first draft done.


But I'm at least happy to have gotten the first leg of it completed.  It took me all month, so my other projects are going to be on delay, but nonetheless, I'm going to start back reading and writing at my normal pace in December.


Happy reading/writing all,



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review 2015-10-12 00:00
Work in Progress
Work in Progress - JenNova Work in Progress - JenNova Nice, sweet fic.
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review 2015-08-14 15:39
ARC Review: Work In Progress (Belladonna Arms #2) by John Inman
Work in Progress - John Inman

Work In Progress is the 2nd installment of the Belladonna Arms series, where love pollen hits even the ones who don't want to fall in love again, the ones who've been hurt and left.

Harlie Rose stumbles into the apartment building, drenched by what's apparently unusual rain in San Diego, and meets Arthur, who owns the building and dresses in drag. Arthur is a force of nature, and Harlie internal commentary had me howling in laughter before I was even two chapters in.

Then Harlie meets the other tenants, including Pete and Sylvia, Roger and Stanley (from book 1), Bruce and Charlie, the kleptos, and Ramon and ChiChi. The author cleverly introduces all the characters again, without making it feel like infodump, so this book can be read as a standalone just fine.

Harlie needs a job, and Sylvia knows just the place. Harlie takes one look at the baker in the restaurant where he's applying, and falls hard and fast. Except the baker, Milan, is grumpy and seemingly not interested.

Until he is. Hot romance ensues.

This is John Inman at his very best. It's humorous, it's romantic, and it's emotional. The sexy times are hot and sweet, and not one of them is superfluous. They all need to be there, to move the plot forward, to show how the romance is blooming and growing.

And there is heartache too. Not only are Harlie and Milan both still hurt by their former BFs, but things aren't well between Ramon and ChiChi. I sure hope that the next book gives Ramon a chance to find true love, and not the kind ChiChi gave him.

There are some subplots with Sylvia finally getting the plumbing she wants, and make her and Pete even happier.

Throughout it all there is also growth, especially for Harlie. I loved how the author made him a writer too, and how he took the "Work In Progress" concept and applied it not only to Harlie's novels, but also to Harlie's life, and that of others in the building. It drives home the point that we're ALL a work in progress, striving to be the best we can, but that we all move at our own pace, and that someone's changes may not apply to someone else.

This was wonderful. I giggled a lot, I howled with laughter at some of the zingers the author put all over this book, and I sniffled when the romantic scenes just took my breath away.

A wonderful addition. Highly recommended.


** I received a free ARC from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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review 2015-07-06 07:22
John Inman – Work in Progress
Work in Progress - John Inman

Reviewer: Barb

Genre: M/M Contemporary


When Harlie Rose first sees the Belladonna Arms, his impression is that of a rundown building sadly in need of fixing. Then he enters and meets Arthur, the three hundred plus pound drag queen and owner of the apartment building, and he’s charmed by Arthur’s tales of the building’s reputation for bringing on romance. By the time they get to apartment 2C, Harley has decided that this is where he belongs.


Dumped by his lover four months earlier, Harlie has been seeing the country in his big old gas-guzzling Buick, but he’s ready to take his notes from the trip, buckle down, and start writing his next novel. He earns some money from royalties from past books, but needs a part time job to supplement his funds so that he can keep writing. Fortunately, Syliva, one of the residents who happens to be going on leave for her sex change surgery, knows just where he can find work.


She takes him to the deli where she works, and her boss promptly hires him, not as a waiter as he’d hoped, but as a baker’s assistant—an assistant to the gorgeous young man who is currently slaving over a hot oven and creating a very positive impression on Harlie. It turns out that his name is Milan, and he’s the owner’s son. He’s also recently broken up with his lover and is not interested in anyone new.


Harlie quickly makes friends in his new home, but of everyone, it’s Arthur whom he seems to take to the most. Not romantically, but as a friend because Harlie thinks he knows what’s best for Arthur, and he sets about making him more butch. He even goes so far as to go shopping with Arthur, and when Sylvia throws a party to which Arthur is invited, Harlie convinces him to show up in his new western gear. That evening, since Milan and his dad both catered the party, Harlie has a chance to finally get to know Milan as more than his boss. Coincidentally, Milan’s dad has a chance to meet Arthur, and the two hit it off immediately.


This story was very light on the drama and was mostly a revisit of all of the principal characters from the previous story with a look at where they are now and with a lot of romance and sweet moments thrown in. Sylvia and Greg are getting married once the surgery is over. Stanley and Roger may be next, but who knows? Milan and Harlie get very serious, very quickly, and even Arthur finally finds the love of his life. The only two who are not faring well are Ramon and ChiChi, and their story is what brings the little bit of drama near the end of the book.


I struggled to enjoy this story because I didn’t like Harlie’s character right from the beginning. I found him to be too snarky and too harsh about other people. I totally disliked what he tried to do to change Arthur’s persona, and I hated that he could be so clueless about how sad he was making Arthur. I also found it odd that he was that clueless, considering he was a writer and supposedly observant. He also rarely ever worked on his book. It was almost as if the author forgot that Harlie had a primary job and that his role as baker’s assistant was only secondary.


I liked Milan, but he went from the aloof, quiet, dark, brooding man of Harlie’s dreams to totally committed lover in a very short turnaround time, and he never developed further. He was almost too good to be true, and their sweet romance never had any opposition or other disruption.

It was a pleasure to revisit Roger and Stanley, and Sylvia and Greg, but my favorite part of the book was Arthur falling in love and having that love returned tenfold. I wish Arthur had been the principal MC because I would have liked to have witnessed more as those two got together. I am so very happy that his love for Tom was reciprocated.


I’m not sure whether my dislike of Harlie’s personality was due in part to the change in narrator for the series. This is not the same person who narrated Serenading Stanley when I fell in love with the characters of Belladonna Arms, and it’s possible that Caleb Dickinson’s delivery of Harlie’s voice and tone are what negatively influenced me toward this story. However, to be fair, it may have simply been the writing, but when you listen to an audiobook, it is difficult to tell.


As I stated earlier, I am disappointed that there wasn’t more drama and that everything in Harlie’s and Milan’s romance went so smoothly. Once they had their first kiss, it was all pure romance with no conflict at all. So, I’d recommend this one to those looking for light, sweet, and fluffy, with little to no angst, and I think, in this case, I’d recommend reading the book, rather than listening to the audiobook.

Source: heartsonfirereviews.com/audio-review-john-inman-work-in-progress
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-06-06 21:25
Work in Progress - John Inman

I really, really liked this one just like the first one but I really, REALLY hated that Harlie tried to change my beautiful, beautiful queen Arthur, and just minutes after he met him. No, no, no. Arthur is so beautiful, and kind, loving, caring. I don't care how he looks and neither should Harlie. The nerve of him saying to Arthur that he needed to change his clothes and way to be and loose some pounds just to meet a man. I refuse to accept it, and luckily so did the man who loved Arthur. I accept that it was necessary for the plot to work, but it really annoyed me.

I hope there's at least one more book because I NEED to know what happens with Ramon. He really didn't deserve any of what he went through.


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