A Lesson from 2021: Take a Break

As a writer, one of the biggest lessons I learned in 2021 was the importance of taking breaks. 

For the past 6 or 7 years, I really hadn’t taken any breaks from writing. It was one short story to the next. One novel to the next. I’d alternate between revising and drafting, but I’d do some kind of writing thing everyday. Maybe I’d take one or two days off to read a book on a weekend, but that was it. The pause between projects was never more than a couple days. 

This worked out okay for a while, as long as I alternated between revising and drafting frequently enough. But long term, it really was sustainable. 

2020 and 2021 were busy years. And they were traumatic years for me and probably everyone else because living through COVID is traumatic. 

At the end of 2020, I got into Pitch Wars, with is a mentorship program for writers that culminates in an agent showcase. It involved a lot of in-depth revision, and through it, I made some great friends. However, it was a lot of work. 

Right out of Pitch Wars, I got edits back for Earth Reclaimed, and it turned out they were very substantial developmental edits. They took months to get through. 

And even as I finished those, I had two nvelettes I had to keep rewriting and editing for an anthology, Distant Gardens. It was late July before I was done. 

So from mid-november 2020 through the end of July 2021, I had just been revising and editing on deadlines with almost no breaks between. 

When that time ended, finally, I was exhausted. My anxiety was through the roof. I couldn’t edit. I couldn’t revise. I couldn’t write. 

So I took August off.

In the fall, I started a few things, just for fun, but mostly just read. It wasn’t until November, until National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), that I actually wrote another book. And by then, I was ready. It felt so good to write again! 

But even now that I’ve finished writing one book and am sitting down to try and revise one of the six books I need to revise, I’m feeling overwhelmed. Like it’s too much to go back and revise again. 

It’s hard to get back into after all this time and all the memory I have of the stress from the last three things I revised. 

Had I taken more breaks and not let myself get as stressed out and burned out as I did, then I think things would be much easier now. 

I think one of the most important lessons I learned in 2021 is that I need to take breaks. I can’t just keep pushing myself non-stop. It’s okay to rest. It’s not only okay but necessary to take a break.

2021 Publication Recap

I think it’s a little too late now for an awards eligibility post, but I’ll still do a quick recap of my publications from 2021. It’s a pretty short list compared to when I used to write more short stories.

I had two novelette’s published in an anthology called Distant Gardens.

The first story is “Killer Trees and Second Chances” and is set in a potential future in the world of the Evanstar Chronicles. Mel and Erin are main characters in the story, but it is meant to stand on it’s own.

The other, “Brie and the Marsh Kraken,” is a stand-alone near-future science-fantasy with no connection to my other existing works.

I also published a novel, Earth Reclaimed.

Earth Reclaimed is a stand-alone YA eco-fantasy novel featuring non-binary and trans main characters.

And that is all I published in 2021. I have no forthcoming releases for 2022. And while I’m sad about that and hoping change it, I’m also enjoying a break from deadlines. For now, I can write whatever I want!

Power Inversion by Sara Codair [Book Spotlight – Queer Urban Fantasy]

Check out this short interview with me along with a blurb and except from Power Inversion.

If Power Inversion sounds good, but you haven’t read Power Surge yet, then grab a copy of Power Surge while it’s on sale for $0.99!

Matt Doyle Media

Power Inversion - Sara CodairSara Codair has a new queer supernatural/urban fantasy book out, Evanstar Chronicles book two: ‘Power Inversion.” And there’s a giveaway!

Do you have to be a monster to fight one?

Erin Evanstar is a demon hunter, a protector of humanity from nightmarish predators that feed on people’s fears and flesh. They are settling into their dual life of being a teen and hunting demons.

When a tentacled horror abducts Erin’s partner, José, Erin and their family go on the hunt to get him back. But Erin gets an ultimatum: help the Fallen Angels bring on the apocalypse or watch José die. Erin will do anything to save José, but fighting monsters comes with a grim price–becoming one themselves.

Warnings: Violence, Death, Death of a Minor Character, Temporary Death of a Main Character, Mention of Past Abuse, Mention of Miscarriage, Pregnancy of Side Character, Self-harm, Suicidal Ideation, Guns, Grief, Kidnapping/abduction, alcohol…

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Guest Post & Giveaway: Deleted ‘Power Inversion’ Scene by Sara Codair

Check out a deleted scene from Power Inversion as well as an excerpt from the published version!

Beauty in Ruins

Erin’s boyfriend, José, is being held captive by demons and Erin finally has a way to track him. Erin is preparing for a journey through a place between worlds that exists outside of time that will take them to where José is being held. In this scene, Erin and their grandmother stop to get supplies. I loved how this scene showed the relationship developing between Erin and their grandmother. However, it was stalling the narrative and distracting from the rescue mission Erin was on. Therefore, it had to go.

On the way back to Grandpa’s house, Niben insisted on a quick detour to get some durable clothing for the trip through the Between. For some reason I pictured this as something we’d get in Faerie, but we stopped at a sporting goods store. The firearms department was packed. We steered clear of that heading over the men’s clothing section.


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The Long Road to Power Inversion’s Publication

Once upon a time, I posted on this site at least once or twice a month, whether it was a book review, craft post, recipe, or something about teaching. Alas, it has been about six months since I posted any original content.  A lot has happened since then.

The most exciting of all the things that have happened was that I had a book published. A year and a half after Power Surge was released, its sequel, Power Inversion, is finally out in the world. It happened months later than I expected, but after setbacks, tears, and hard work, it’s finally here.

Writing this book was a blast, but editing it was not. The story was so clear in my head while I was drafting that I just flew through it, but shaping it into something readers could enjoy proved more challenging.

When I thought the book had shaped up well, I sent it off to my publisher. After waiting for months, my publisher finally offered to contract for it. I thought that meant my revisions had been a success. However, after another six months passed, I got the book back from my editor, and realized that was not the case at all.

No. I had to do another major rewrite.

I usually have somewhat thick skin when it comes to feedback, but I hadn’t been expecting it this late in the process. It really blindsided me and shook my confidence.

And the timing was the worst. The edits came the day before I left for a convention. My students were turning in drafts of their essays, which I needed to turn around quick. The weekend after the convention, I went to New York City for a launch party for an anthology I had a story in.

Weeks passed before I had time to really process the amount of work the book needed, let alone get started.

Then COVID-19 exploded in my area and I found myself scrambling to switch my face-to-face classes to remote learning. I liked working from home, but switching the method of instruction mid semester was extremely time consuming.

Getting through that rewrite felt like it took forever, but eventually, I finished. I let it rest. I read through it again and sent it back. The second round, the copy edits, and the proof read all had very quick turn-around times.

Just when I thought the book was finally ready to come out, I learned that it wouldn’t be coming out in early June like I’d been told. The release had been pushed up to the end of the month.

Finally, on June 22, 2020, Power Inversion was published.

I’ve ordered my copies, but they haven’t come in, so it still doesn’t quite feel real. It probably won’t until I finally get to hold the paper in my hand.

Erin is just settling into
 their new life as a Demon 
hunter when José is 
literally snatched away by
 humongous Demon’s 

On their journey to save 
him, Erin strengthens their
 relationship with their 
family while also finding 
out what lines they are 
willing to cross to save 
someone they love.

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Power Inversion by Sara Codair

Check out the cover for Power Inversion, the next book in the Evanstar Chronicles!


Today on the site, I’m thrilled to have Sara Codair to reveal the cover of their upcoming young adult urban fantasy, Power Inversion, releasing June 1st from NineStar Press! Here’s what it’s about:

Do you have to be a monster to fight one?

Erin Evanstar is a demon hunter, a protector of humanity from nightmarish predators that feed on people’s fears and flesh. They are settling into their dual life of being a teen and hunting demons.

When a tentacled horror abducts Erin’s partner, José, Erin and their family go on the hunt to get him back. But Erin gets an ultimatum: help the Fallen Angels bring on the apocalypse or watch José die. Erin will do anything to save José, but fighting monsters comes with a grim price–becoming one themselves.

And here’s the electrifying cover, designed by Natasha Snow!


Sara Codair is an author of short stories…

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Book Review: Elysium Girls

If you like weird west stories and chosen one narratives, then read Elysium Girls. The setting and the world are something of a twist on classic western with a vibe that isn’t quite steampunk but something similar. There is even a magic showdown.

While I did enjoy the book, I didn’t find myself as immersed in it as I would have liked, and I’m wondering if it is because I knew a little too much too early on. 

The blurb summarizes a lot of  the story, so I think instead of just engaging with the narrative, I was waiting for the described things to happen. For example, I kept wondering where the scrap metal horses were and when they were going to come into play, and was waiting for them so long that when the finally came, it was anticlimactic. However, that was because of the blurb, not the book. Had they not been mentioned in the blurb, I would’ve had a different reaction. 

I enjoyed the world the author created. I appreciated how small of a role romance played in the story. I was happy to see the lesbian rep, which was subtle, but visible. I liked that it wasn’t a story about being gay, but there were still gay girls being badass outlaw heroes. 

Another thing I liked was how thought provoking the concept was in examining how just trying to flip the power in a society doesn’t always make things equal. A leader can’t just force people to stop being racists and sexist. 

The end was good, but to avoid spoilers, I won’t say why. 

I’d read more from this author.

Book Review: To the Flame

To the FlameTo the Flame by A.E. Ross

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: To the Flame


When I first heard about To the Flame and realized one of the main characters was nonbinary, I had to read it. I preordered it right away, but then when the author was looking for people to review ARCs, I requested one and read it within a few hours of receiving it. I was so excited to not only read something with #ownvoices nonbinary rep, but one that also had a contemporary setting and a paranormal element.

To the Flame lived up to my hopes and expectations. There are so many things I liked about it .

The prose were beautiful but not to purple. There were some fantastically vivid descriptions that really brought me into the moment without overwhelming me.

The college setting was perfect for the romance between a human and a moth person, and put the characters at just the right age to be navigating the kind of feelings they have for each other.

As far as the plot goes, I didn’t get bored thinking I knew how they were going to get from A to Z, and felt satisfied both when something surprised me and when I felt I had figured it out right. I also really enjoyed Morrie’s emotional arc, and how the narrative wove back and forth between their past and present.

There was a range of queer rep in the story in the “everyone is gay” kind of way. But of course, my favorite was the nonbinary character, and reading something written in third person from the point of view of someone using they/them pronouns.

The characters were easy to like and root for. When the story was over, I wasn’t ready to be done with them. I’d happily read more, longer stories about Emmerson and Morrie.

View all my reviews

Book Review: A Dream So Dark

I received a copy of A Dream So Dark from NetGalley. 

I enjoyed the world, the characters, and the voice in A Dream So Dark as much as I did the first book, A Blade So Black. It wasn’t too hard to fall back into this world, and by the time I was about 30% of the way through, I had to just finish the book. Had there not been so much time between me reading this and me reading the first book, I think this would’ve been a read the whole thing in one sitting type story. 

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the queer rep.

 Alice still has feelings for Hatta, but she also is crushing on a  another dreamwalker, a girl named Haruka. We learn that Hatta was in love with a guy (won’t say his name to avoid spoilers) who has resurfaced after being missing for a long time. 

The  Hatta/Alice relationship definitely got way more interesting in this book. 

All the relationship drama seemed perfectly balanced with plot, which actually surprised me a couple times. I admit, there were a couple places I got a little lost, but it was never so bad that it hurt my ability to enjoy the story. Overall, it was a great romp, dark yet funny, through McKinney’s version of Wonderland. 

My biggest complaint was that at times, Alice’s mom felt more like an obstacle than a fully developed character. 

I liked how the story ended, but there were a lot of loose ends left. At first, I was mad about this because I thought this was the last book in the series. Then I did a little research and realized that it was not the last one, that the author is writing a third book. The end works a lot better for me knowing there is going to be another book. I can’t wait to read it! 

Book Review: Eclipse the Skies

 I received a copy of Eclipse the Skies from NetGalley. I was excited to read this sequel, but it took me a little longer than I expected to really get into it. I was about half way through before I reached a point where I really did not want to put it down. 

What I liked most was the character arcs. Eclipse the Skies seamlessly picked up where Ignite the Stars left off, and I really enjoyed seeing how characters grew and changed as the story continued.  

I got a little annoyed at one point because I thought some kind of a love triangle was forming. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with love triangles, I’m just not a big fan of them. Thankfully, this didn’t really turn into a love triangle, and it did add some depth to the characters. 

Another thing I liked about this novel was how the narrative explored some moral and philosophical questions through plot and character decisions. If I were to ever use this in a class, I would be able to get some interesting discussion prompts out of it. 

The worst thing about this book was the way it ended. I won’t go into detail so I won’t spoil it. I’ll just say this: I kind of understand the author’s choice, but as a reader, it was not what I wanted. 

I like happy endings. I want to know for certain that all the main characters to survived. The end of Eclipse the Skies was hopeful and well executed, but it was not exactly the happy ever after or happy for now type ending I personally enjoy most.