Your place to discover great books. (I might be biased.)

The one where I change up everything you know about this newsletter because of “New Year, New You” and all that nonsense.

A person in glasses works on a computer in a dimly lit room with neon lights. Text reads, "The Impressive Shallows: Newsletter Archives January 2024.

Note: This article first appeared in my monthly email newsletter, sent on January 30, 2024. If you want to read more content like this, please subscribe. You will also get exclusive content, including e-books, as part of your free subscription.

Hi Reader Friend,

Welcome to 2024.

All right, now that that’s out of the way, let’s address the three elephants in the room. I’ll be referring to them by their official names: Peanut, Taco, and Bubbles Divine of the Eastern Pachyderm Syndicate of Greater Canada and Random Parts of Europe.

Strap in.



I started this newsletter in November 2020, and those of you who have been here since the beginning have seen it undergo several structural changes, with its latest iteration taking form in May 2023. Now that we’ve entered another year, I wanted to introduce another important update to the format that I hope will make the newsletter more interesting to you (and personal), as well as respecting the newsletter’s intention, which is to keep you informed while also entertained.

Now, I’m not a fan of change personally, so I categorize any major restructuring to a familiar format as an elephant in a room. But this change in format is small and should go mostly unseen, with two exceptions: Taco and Bubbles Divine.



You may have noticed right away that I’m calling you by your first name this month. This is partly because I want to justify changing the newsletter’s format. But it’s primarily because I want to keep it personal.

And, just so you know, I’ve always wanted to keep it personal.

Well, as personal as much as I can make a newsletter that goes out to more than one person at the same time. We’ll call it “personal.”

So, why haven’t I called you by your name until now? Why this “Reader Friend” address?

Well, it comes down to early signup form design and a touch of apprehension.

Perhaps I should explain.

When I decided I was ready to build a newsletter for my author career, I had to figure out which provider would be the most cost-effective. At the time, I was working part-time during a pandemic that had forced me to work at home, and I’d just gotten back from a three-month layoff due to a COVID-related reduction of need.

Now, because of that temporary layoff, I was able to file for unemployment under COVID rules, and that meant getting a lot more money in a shorter amount of time than I’d been used to. And because I’d been spending it slowly, I still had forward momentum in keeping up with my bills once the layoff period ended and I could return to work.

That meant I had a little extra money available to invest in the author career that I’d spent the previous five years trying to build, which had not been the case prior to 2020. But I had to be wise about where and how to spend it. Because most marketing experts claim that websites and mailing lists are important for all content producers (including novelists like me), I knew I had to invest that extra money into those two things.

But all the current solutions required monthly subscriptions, and I wasn’t sure I could keep up with them on my existing monthly income (again, because my position at the time was part-time).

Fortunately, while asking about stock photos for my book covers in a Facebook group for authors, I’d learned of a photo site called Depositphotos, which had Black Friday sales through a company called AppSumo, and through AppSumo I learned about a lifetime offer with an email service provider called SendFox, which would let me buy my contact limits upfront and once only, with each purchase tier adding an extra 5,000 contact slots to my account (up to 25,000), instead of paying for them by the month as most providers require in their business models.

Because I didn’t want to pay a ridiculous monthly fee rated at however many people signed up for my newsletter (with most companies charging as much as $30 a month or more for 5,000 contacts, never mind 25,000), I bought my SendFox license (all five) and set up my contact form.

But because all email experts say I should have a newsletter signup on my own website, which I hadn’t yet built as of November 2020, I had resolved to use that form only temporarily. My goal was to create my own form once my website went live.

Well, thanks to AppSumo, while I was building my website, I’d bought access to a pop-up service called Optinly, which had templates for email signup forms that connected with SendFox. The template I’d chosen initially had just the email address in the form. And because I couldn’t edit the template’s design, just the words and pictures inside, I couldn’t capture names with signups, so I wouldn’t be able to call new subscribers by their first names, even if I’d wanted to…

But I didn’t want to at the time because I wasn’t yet comfortable with the idea of calling people that I’d never met in person by their first names, especially since opening that option ran the risk of pushing potential subscribers away (according to my inexperienced thinking).

I was, however, comfortable with calling them by the name “Reader Friend.”

The problem with that, though, is that most emails these days go out with the receiver’s name addressed, and to call them by another name is kind of rude, not to mention uncharacteristic of what we’re all used to now.

So, fast-forwarding to today, I’ve got my website built, a new signup form provider ( because Optinly’s hasn’t worked right in about a year, and the option for new signups to give me subscribers’ first names (or nicknames). That means everyone coming onboard to receive this newsletter will have at some point given me their first names, and that means I can start calling them by that name if I want.

And while I still think it’s odd to call someone I’ve never met by their first name, I typically prefer the emails I get from others to have my name in it, so I shouldn’t assume automatically that you’d want different treatment (though I acknowledge that you may still prefer I call you “Reader Friend,” and please tell me if that’s the case). Therefore, I think it’s time I moved this newsletter into that more personalized direction.

And sorry in advance if you’ve signed up with a joke name and I’m now and forever calling you by that name. I don’t really believe your name is Puddles McPuttypants. I just don’t know your real name.

And sorry to call you out specifically, Puddles. You should’ve just called yourself Bob.

Note: If you’re reading this, and you see that I’m still calling you “Reader Friend,” that’s because I never got your first name. Please send me a quick message telling me who you are if you’d like me to start addressing you by name. If you’re happy with “Reader Friend,” then you don’t need to do anything but continue to open and read my newsletter.

Anyway, I hope you’re happy with this change.


Bubbles Divine of the Eastern Pachyderm Syndicate of Greater Canada and Random Parts of Europe:

This newsletter is typically long. In 2022, I’d experimented with splitting up the articles into separate emails for more bite-sized reading, but reader engagement went down when I did that, so I went back to shoving everything for that month into a single email. So far, no one has complained.

But the problem with posting one email a month (except for months where I’ve finished a book and want to tell you about it and give you an opportunity to check it out while it’s hot) is that I might still have a lot to tell you, and that could lead to longer and longer emails.

Now, the simple solution here is for you to read them in bursts. If you’ve got a hundred other emails waiting for you, it would make sense if you bookmarked this one for future reading when things slow down. Then it wouldn’t matter how long this gets.

And I say this because the newsletter may be getting even longer in 2024, thanks to a new monthly article topic I’d like to introduce.

For those of you who skim ahead, you may have already seen it.

Beginning this month, I want to share with you my “helpful app, tool, or object of the month.” In this short article, I will introduce you to an app, tool, or object I use to get work done or make my life happier.

But I won’t be sharing it with the expectation that you’ll click off and buy it right away, or ever. Rather, I’ll be sharing it with the idea that you may need an app or tool just like it, without necessarily assuming you would want exactly that app or exactly that app’s functionality. Instead, I’ll be sharing it with the assumption that it may generate ideas for your workflow, whatever that may be, so that you may decide whether that tool or app or something like it is something you could use to improve your situation.

I want to add this segment to the monthly newsletter because another author I subscribe to had asked her audience if they knew anything about this rotating pizza cooker by Presto that she wanted for Christmas, and when I clicked on the link to see what she was talking about, I decided it was exactly the thing I wanted to get my mom for Christmas, which I did, and she’s since used it to cater a girl’s birthday party.

So, I hope this extra section will be worth your time. If not, you could always just skip to the end.

Note: I don’t currently have any affiliate links. This could change in the future, and I’ll let you know if it does, but for now these are just recommendations I have, based on my own personal use-cases, and based on my positive opinions about them.

Okay, so that concludes our address of Peanut, Taco, and Bubbles Divine of the Eastern Pachyderm Syndicate of Greater Canada and Random Parts of Europe. Let’s get on to this month’s topics.

Banner with the text "Writing Update January 2024" in bold white font on a purple background with abstract patterns, straight from The Impressive Shallows' Newsletter Archives.

So, January started off strong, as I was still in a steady momentum after having finished a beta-final draft of The McCray Parables: The Fountain of Truth, which I shared with you on Christmas Eve if you missed that email. But it tapered off a bit mid-month when I checked my 2023 task list and realized I’d have to roll most of it into 2024, including website updates and other non-writing things. So, once again I had a month that could’ve been more productive overall but wasn’t entirely wasted, either.

Let’s explore.


The McCray Parables: Snow in Miami

This is honestly the only story to get most of my focus this month. Because I want to have both McCray Parables books finished this year, and because I don’t want to work on either once the weather heats up, I wanted to tackle the current version now and revise as much as I could before March.

So, from Christmas until the second week of January, I pored through the first half of the book, fixed most of the logical and consistency errors I’d found, and got as far as the start of the third parable before reaching a checkpoint in the process. By the time you read this, I’ll have likely made some progress on the final act, after Douglas McCray learns and acts on his inevitable “Christmas lesson.” Because the narrative to follow the third fable is already finished and doesn’t need any major revisions, I expect to knock that revision out without much information or structural conflict or demand on my time.

The reason I won’t have it finished in January, however, and maybe not even in February, is because the third story, “The Pear Tree,” requires research that I started in 2020 and hadn’t ever finished, thanks to the rabbit hole I fell into while researching its protagonist’s profession, and I still have to finish that research. And because the story itself is the longest of the three fables and involves a mystery, I’ll have to take my time sorting through it and making sure the entire piece works, which probably won’t be quick, not as quick as the rest of the book takes to review and edit. But I do expect to finish it by March. Certainly by July.


The Coconut Envelope

I had a little extra time to pick at this story during some downtime at work, so I started Chapter 2 and got a few paragraphs in. Now that I’ve faced my apprehension of using online writing tools to write anything of substance, I expect to “pick at” this and other writing projects more often in the future, which should lead to a slight increase in progress.

But it should also be noted that I want to keep my downtime projects tied in more with my work activities, which may include writing essays, so I won’t likely be writing fiction during those pockets. But I will likely spend some of that time writing my blog and newsletter articles, which could free up the time I have at home to work on The Coconut Envelope and other stories moving forward. We’ll see how it goes.

It’s worth noting that this month’s feature is tied to a project I did for work last month, so I wrote it at work. That means I didn’t have to write it here at my desk (or at least not all of it).


The Golden Paperweight

Ugh, I still haven’t written that updated tomb-raiding scene. Why am I resistant? I don’t know. I just need to get it done.

Hopefully by the time you read this, I’ll have swept my apprehensions aside and gotten the rest of Lewis Urlong’s treasure-snagging sequence fixed and finished, leaving me room to finally figure out how to finish the book.

But yeah, no new progress here. Big surprise.


The McCray Parables: Happy New Life

So…yes, this is an announcement. As you may or may not know, indie writers love to write prequels for their series fiction. I don’t know why it must always be a prequel (says the guy writing The Coconut Envelope), but they do.

The McCray Parables: Happy New Life won’t be a prequel, but a transition from The Fountain of Truth to Snow in Miami.

If you’ve read and finished The McCray Parables: The Fountain of Truth (again, check your email from Christmas Eve if you haven’t yet), you may be wondering how Douglas and Miranda’s date went. This short, three-parable story told as a series of “what ifs” will answer that question, while using New Year’s Eve as its holiday backdrop. Foolish impulsiveness may happen. But you’ll have to read it to find out if and how much.

Fortunately, it’ll be a newsletter freebie, which means you’ll get to read it as soon as I finish it. Everyone else will have to wait until after The McCray Parables: The Fountain of Truth is released in November.

Anyway, I haven’t started it yet. But I think it’ll be a fast project. Maybe two weeks to write. Maybe less.

I’ll let you know.

So, that’s the writing update for this month. Stay tuned for next month’s updates…er, next month.

Banner with the text "The Impressive Shallows" in white, set against a purple background, featuring highlights from our January 2024 Newsletter Archives.

Last month, just before we all took two weeks off for the holidays, my coworkers and I began a discussion about a literary fiction genre called “dark academia.” Even though I’d never heard of the genre prior to the discussion, it has been part of literature for ages, and learning about it for the first time didn’t mean I hadn’t read examples or watched movies from the genre previously. In fact, not only have I been exposed to dark academia literature and entertainment in times past, but I’m willing to bet you have, too.

Turns out, dark academia is a subgenre of suspense that takes what we know of educational institutions and casts a sinister shade over them. Like any good subcategory of suspense or thrillers, it takes the normal known world and twists it into something dreadful, if not educational.

For example, think of the college story that focuses on the dark underbelly of fraternities. Perhaps to join the famed Delta Delta Delta fraternity, the protagonist must partake in a secret ritual involving togas and motorcycles. He can don the toga and ride the motorcycle, but only after midnight, and only barring the risk of getting caught by school authorities (who frown on that sort of thing). Maybe the last person to go through the ritual got the toga caught in the engine and didn’t make it (or made it only because he disrobed before his wheels could catch it and pull him under). With this stigma already hanging over the ritual, the protagonist has to be extra careful not to get caught at the risk of losing his opportunity with the fraternity. And this is assuming he doesn’t want to get caught by the authorities; after all, those who discover the secrets of Delta Delta Delta level-up into extraordinary students destined for a seat in Congress or something, and there’s nothing the hero wants more than to become a member of Congress or something.

Of course, this genre is not limited to fraternity stories or even secret societies. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark can be considered a form of dark academia, when you consider Indy’s job is to teach his students about the ancient treasures he’s stolen from their original resting places. Likewise, the film Dead Poets Society fits loosely into this category when Robin Williams’s teaching style shakes up the lives of his students, sometimes to tragic effect. And The Chocolate War takes the genre head-on with its all-boys school protagonist facing off against a student body using psychological warfare to conspire against him.

The “dark” in dark academia inevitably comes out in the story’s subject matter, but this genre also often leads the reader or moviegoer to a place of intrigue. What mysteries lurk in the shadows of those creepy little books in the corner? Why does that instructor always ask cryptic questions about philosophy and the supernatural? Are the skeletons in his closet literary or literal?

These are all fascinating questions to consider, but sometimes that mystery and suspense lead to disappointment. The national bestseller Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, a book about a third-shift bookstore clerk trying to crack the code hidden among a series of forbidden books in a members-only section of the store, has the makings of a dark academia title full of mystery and intrigue…and ultimately fizzles out making an underwhelming point about analog vs. digital archiving. The anticipation of something groundbreaking and shocking falls on the sword of familiarity catching up with innovation. The idea is fine, and the story ramps up to an exciting expectation, but it’s ultimately flat in its final revelation, making it, in my opinion, a four-star book (out of five).

So, dark academia, like any genre, can be a hit or miss. And the difference between the two comes down to execution, also just like in any genre.

Now, before the Christmas holidays, the topic of dark academia came up during one of our shifts at work, and the conversation led us to making up funny professor names based on terrifying emotions or concepts. Some examples included Professor Gorgon, Dr. Kilmore, and Professor Friend. We also grabbed the names of real professors we knew who had equally sinister or contradictory-to-quality-education names and added them to the list. We ended up with about 60 names, each one moderately credible, if not ultimately unsettling. It gave us a good laugh.

But we didn’t stop with the list. Because the topic of AI is also hot around the department, we joked about using AI to write a dark academia story using some names from the list of scary professors. We even went so far as to send out a poll voting on the top 10 scariest or most unsettling professor names, with one of our real writing professors getting top votes (because of course he would).

Then I used AutoCrit, an AI-based writing app that has its own story analysis and ideas tool, to give the ten chosen professors an identity within the unwritten story, including academic focus and character tropes ranging from the heroic to the villainous.

From there, I took AutoCrit’s character descriptions and asked it to give me an outline based on a specific dark academia thriller prompt. The outline turned it into a murder mystery. Our top-voted (and real-life) professor became the victim.


The outline was amusing. The AI really tried to produce quality work on few inputs. And it seemed to pick the right beats for the occasion. It was almost too tempting for me not to see what AI could do with the story itself…

I decided to go for it. I asked GPT-3.5 to write a multi-chapter story based on the prompts. And, like the obedient robot that GPT-3.5 is, it drafted a story set in the halls of a dark and mysterious school.

And, well, it kinda sucked.

The AI made a decent effort at telling a story, but it leaned too heavily on the language and did little to craft a story of substance. And because it was GPT-3.5, the text was too short, and the story moved too fast, and it turned into nothing more than a pretentious slog of literary lines and boring plot devices that none of us could take seriously.

So, I scrapped the outline and let the AI tell its own story with those characters, this time with GPT-4 as the model.


Taking some tips from the YouTube channel The Nerdy Novelist (by Jason Hamilton of Kindlepreneur), I crafted a special GPT to consider the identities of each character, the genre of focus, and a few other construction notes, and tasked the robot to get to work, writing each chapter one at a time, and following up each output with the simple prompt, “Write the next chapter.” Because the GPT is already loaded with the context details, the chatbot could move relatively seamlessly from one chapter to the next without losing the thread.

Also, because the engine I used allows me to select from about twenty different language models, including GPT-4 Turbo, I had the option to choose the best model for this occasion. Normally, I’d use Claude for fiction, but I wanted to test GPT-4 Turbo’s quality and context window (meaning its ability to generate and remember a long conversation).

So, I chose GPT-4 Turbo and had the AI generate the first chapter. Then the second. Then the third…

Except for Chapter 6, which I’d generated the next day but forgot to set to the correct model, each chapter followed the same rules and output structure. And I kept generating until I thought the story reached a logical conclusion. It seemed to reach one at the end of Chapter 9, so I stopped the generation process there.

The end result was a story about a young woman discovering the secrets of the Evernight Academy and becoming the chosen keeper of its secrets.

It never explained what those secrets are.

The story, while imperfect, was competent enough to share with the staff. So, I brought the conversation home to my personal computer, where I could assemble the story in Affinity Publisher and make a proper PDF out of it. Because I wanted to go all-out on the AI-generative content for the book, I also used Leonardo AI to generate the book’s background and character art, as well as art for the front cover. The text I added myself in Affinity Photo.


Then, to make the process and final product entirely absurd, I also AI-generated the “About the Author” page and adopted a unique character for GPT-4’s author photo. In fact, the only parts I kept human were the copyright page (adapting it from my own books’ pages) and the dedication page. And that’s it.

Once I exported the PDF, I uploaded it to one of my flipbook services and shared the link with the staff.

And now here is the result of that story if you’re curious.

Now, I wouldn’t propose to think for you, so if you read the story, I hope you’ll read it for your own analysis and entertainment. But I do find it interesting what AI can do with a detailed prompt, yet I find it equally fascinating how much it cannot do without modern prompting.

I plan to explore this idea of AI as a quality author further in a separate article on my blog, which I’ll share with you in a future newsletter. But I definitely have praises and criticisms about the AI-generated fiction process, especially in the context of creating novels, and at some point, I’d like to break down my observations about the process and the reception it has with readers (and other authors), as well as discuss why I think humans will be the better authors for a while longer.

But the short version is that the end product, while appearing deep, is quite shallow. The AI has figured out how to keep the language compelling, but like the original generation from the GPT-3.5, the GPT-4 Turbo model hasn’t quite nailed the depth or the emotion that a novel needs to stand out as memorable, or even worthwhile.

It all comes down to “the inner story.” Lisa Cron speaks about a storytelling necessity called “the third rail,” which common readers may refer to as the point or essence of the story, in her book Story Genius. I’d say that the AI hasn’t yet figured out that third rail.

Then again, based on how generative AI works, you could argue that AI hasn’t figured out meaning, either.

It’s all interesting to explore, if not disturbing to discover. But we’ll certainly revisit the topic someday soon. And I’d love to hear what you think of the whole thing. Is it all too creepy? Or is it just cool?

Purple banner with the text "I Recommend Fool Me Once" in large white letters, featuring a subtle nod to The Impressive Shallows.

About a year ago, a friend of mine had finished reading her stash of Harlan Coben paperbacks and asked if I wanted them. Having thoroughly enjoyed Just One Look, which I’d read several years earlier, I said, “Sure!” So, she handed me the bag of 17 mass-market paperbacks*, and I brought it home and put it in my “to get to” media pile, where it’s sat ever since.

Last month, I was looking for a new read, and I decided to pick into the pile for one worth reading. I grabbed Fool Me Once.


As usual, I started out the gate cautious but optimistic, read just enough to get a feel for the story, then went to bed satisfied. For the next couple of days, I did the same, reading in small chunks, enjoying it while hoping that enjoyment would continue. Then, as usual, I got distracted with other things, didn’t read anything for about a week, and started forgetting what I’d already read.

Worried that I’d lose the plot, I picked up the book again, read through about 100 pages, thought, This is good, then went to sleep. By now, the story had bitten into its hook and raised a lot of questions. And then I committed to finishing it and spent the requisite obscene hour getting to the finish line. And then I checked IMDB to discover (or confirm, more likely) that it has a Netflix series that had just released about a week earlier, and I cross-checked the characters with the actors to see how little they resembled what I’d had in my head.

Good timing!

I also read the show’s reviews to see how well it adapted the book. But more on that in a moment.

So, the story, about a military woman named Maya who’s returned home from the desert, begins at her husband’s funeral. She has a young daughter, Lily, who’s unaware that her father is dead, a bunch of super rich in-laws who are worried about his will, and a police officer who’s hounding her because he thinks she’s the reason for the funeral.

It’s enough that she’s got to deal with these typical upsets to regular life, but her best friend Eileen makes things even more complicated when she brings her a gift. Now that Maya is widowed, her friend thinks it would be useful to have a nanny cam in her living room to ensure that everything is on the up-and-up with Lily’s nanny.

And, in Harlan Coben fashion, this seemingly innocuous object—a picture frame with hidden camera—becomes the catalyst for the story’s big mystery, which gradually propels Maya’s life into chaos and ultimately resolve.

Fool Me Once has the same thrilling earmarks that Just One Look has, so it’s no surprise that I enjoyed the book from beginning to end. Much of it reads more like a domestic drama, at least at the start, because the mystery and thriller elements don’t have much of an anchor if we don’t yet know anything about Maya’s life or current situation. And, like any good mystery, the threads that get the reader to the ending are all in place, and all visible to anyone paying close attention. But they’re still hidden enough that most regular readers won’t notice them—just like a hidden nanny cam in a picture frame. If you look, you may see it. But there’s so much else to notice that you probably won’t. And that means the ending will likely satisfy.

So, I recommend it. If you get a chance, check it out for yourself.

Note: I haven’t watched the Netflix series, but I’ve read the reviews after reading the book. It seems the show adds a few subplots that aren’t in the book to justify the series runtime and fails to show the reasons certain characters do suspicious things when the book makes their reasons clear. So, whether you’ve watched the show or not, I think the book is worth reading. And even though I haven’t yet watched the show, I think the book is better. At any rate, give it a look. Just one look.

*I haven’t actually counted how many books are in the bag. It looks like 17. They also aren’t exclusively mass-market paperbacks. Some are trade paperbacks, and some are hardcovers. But I’m sure they’re all great. I know a couple of them are.

Banner reading "Helpful App of January 2024: MediaPlace" in white text on a purple background with subtle graphic designs.

Do you take lots of photos but have an ineffective way of organizing them?

Do you post memes on Facebook and Twitter, but you’re tired of using Canva to make them?

Are you tired of people telling you…

Wait, sorry, this is starting to sound like a sales pitch. What a terrible way to launch this “Helpful App/Tool/Object of the Month” feature. Let’s start over.

A couple of hours ago (or late Saturday night if you’re reading this on or after Tuesday when this newsletter goes live), I bought an app called MediaPlace that lets me import my photos, videos, and other creative assets for easier viewing, rating, tagging, etc., and I must admit I’m impressed. Where the usual file explorers show you the thumbnail and provide similar information behind hoverable metadata, this app, which is a file explorer for media creatives, displays huge thumbnails, video previews, and connects them to easily seen metadata like tags and ratings, as well as color profiles for matching images (great for creating branded ads and YouTube thumbnails), and the usual size and timestamps.


But it goes a step further. It also lets you browse websites and drag their graphic assets (like logos, shapes, and product screenshots) into your image library, where you can access them for editorial references or YouTube review thumbnails (or whatever). For those who review other people’s stuff online, this could save a lot of time. But it also helps website developers analyze the types of assets other brands are using, or graphic designers to match colors to a client’s site, or whatever the case may be if they need ideas.

And it also has slide shows, free stock images and videos, and other functions designed to make an artist’s or advertiser’s life easier.


I’ll likely write an expanded feature on my site for the “Helpful App/Tool/Object of the Month” for those items I have a lot more to say about, and that may include this app. But hopefully this short version gives you an idea what type of app it is and whether it’s something you need or want now or in the future.

Also, I’m debuting the Helpful Item segment with this app, and not with something I’ve used much more frequently or find more useful, because it’s still available on AppSumo for another nine days (as of Tuesday, January 30) at $39 for a one-time cost, and I figure it’s worth checking out while it’s still marked down at a tremendous discount instead of waiting until it returns to its usual cost of $149 a year.

Anyway, do with that info what you want. You can read more about it here. (Note the pricing section has a link to the AppSumo deal page, so you can access it from there.) Next month, I’ll be talking about an app I use all the time that isn’t on sale but has free competitors that are also good if you’re looking for that sort of thing. Stay tuned.

Final Thoughts" text on a purple background with faint graphics from the January 2024 edition of The Impressive Shallows.

So, that concludes this month’s information blitz. To address Dumbo (the fourth elephant in the room), I didn’t give you a proper welcome into the new year at the top, so let me end here by fixing that.

Welcome to 2024. I hope it’s off to a good start.

As always, thanks for reading to the end.

Until next time. Enjoy your week(end).


Thought of the Day: If AI can write stories about education, can it also educate?​

Now for My Usual Post-Newsletter Reminders (aka, the footer P.S.s):

P.S. Were you aware that I write in multiple genres? Experts in author marketing suggest I don’t do this, not without developing multiple pen names (and personalities?), but I’m doing it anyway because a good story is a good story, and one of the jobs of marketing is to show a book’s relationship to a genre and trusting the reader to decide whether that’s interesting. That said, if you haven’t yet checked out which genres I write in, you can do so here.

Note: I may still split my personalities one day (and add new pen names) to make the reading process easier on you. I just haven’t done it yet.

P.P.S. If you haven’t yet claimed your subscriber extras or if you want to catch up on an old article you’ve missed, be sure to get them here. You can also help me improve my books by becoming a beta, ARC, or early access reader today. Joining my advanced reader team guarantees you’ll get to read any of my future or unreleased books at no cost (if you don’t mind encountering a few pre-release flaws along the way). [Note to public readers: The links to the extras are for newsletter subscribers only.]

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