April is an in-between month. The Thursday of months, if you will. Not quite spring but definitely no longer winter. It’s also traditionally wet, blustery, and overcast. I find that as I grow older, I have less resilience to drab, cloudy days. I grow gloomier the more clouds pile up in the sky. This has effectively ruined any plans my spouse has to move to the Pacific Northwest after retirement, but I’m sorry—this Texas girl needs her sunshine! In times like these, I rely heavily on external artistic inspiration to keep me juiced and going. Here are the books, music, and movies that served as the carrot at the end of my stick, leading me from April showers to (hopefully) lots of May flowers:

Books: I started the month with A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney. This “Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Alice in Wonderland” book did NOT disappoint. At times, the narrative leans a bit heavy on The Emotion Thesaurus (the “show don’t tell” bible), but McKinney knows how to write engaging action scenes. absbHer cleverly-laid nods to Wonderland lore throughout the book are delicious, and it is refreshing to read contemporary-fantasy YA from a black character POV. Mid-month, I dove into Beach Pulp, an anthology of short, pulpy stories based in beach towns along the Delaware/Maryland/Virginia coasts. Beach Pulp marks my first “officially” published piece of work—a short adult horror story called “A Million Tiny Bites”—and I am so proud of it! I hadn’t yet read any of the other tales included in Beach Pulp, so my spouse and I read them out loud to each other as bedtime stories. I am finishing up April with Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi, a whimsical middle grade fantasy novel. I’ll be spending the next several months building my MG cred, as I’m actively querying a middle grade book and need to be more in-tune with the market.

Movies: I spent more time than usual in front of TV and movies screens in April. I chalk it up to several GREAT releases I couldn’t ignore combined with the fact that dreary days enabled my slothiness. I started the month with my first viewing of Captain Marvel. It was damn near perfect in my opinion (which is the only one that matters in Domosea World.) I watched it again later in the month with my 15-year-old and discovered that, yes—you CAN love something even more the second time around. We also watched Shazam! that same weekend (sooo much popcorn . . .) Despite my daughter’s anti-DC stance, we all enjoyed it. bumblebeeWe also picked up Bumblebee on Redbox, and let me tell you, this is the Transformers movie we need and deserve. Netflix was my special buddy in April, as it brought me Love, Death and Robots, The Umbrella Academy, Osmosis, and a couple of comedian specials. I’m working on an episode ranking post for Love, Death, and Robots, as it was truly a mixed bag of goods: some miniature chocolate bars and some orange- and black-wrapped taffy. I highly recommend The Umbrella Academy (the characters are richly drawn and acted), and French sci-fi Osmosis is weirdly compelling. I typically prefer foreign shows subtitled rather than dubbed, but this one is a special case: my little sister, a voice and MoCap actor in LA, provided the English voice of Ana. I had to support my highly-talented and beautiful baby sis!

Audio: I leaned heavy into my 90s alternative rock channel on Pandora during work hours. The raw and driving energy of Alice in Chains, Nirvana, RHCP, and Soundgarden helped ease me through many chilly, grey April days. poePlus, Captain Marvel made me craaaaave it. (And wasn’t that use of No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” the absolute BEST?) When I needed to slow down or space out, I drifted over to my Sigur Ros, Iron and Wine, and Jesper Kyd stations. Jesper Kyd sets just the right mood for when I’m working on my fantasy and epic adventure manuscripts. I filled in the gaps this month with a bit of Dido and Poe as I worked on my ROYAL series, which calls for a more feminine bent of inspiration. If you’re not familiar with Poe’s seminal Hello, and you like edgy, bitchy female rock, give it a whirl. “Trigger Happy Jack,” “Dolphin,” and “Fingertips” are my favorite singles, but all the songs rock.

Remember, if you have suggestions based on what I’m watching, reading, or listening to, please be my “because of your interest in . . . ” algorithm and let me know in the comments!