The Existential Author Syndrome

emo-dark-wallpapers-10So there’s been this empty space in my heart for the past few months. I hit a point where writing and publishing had lost its vice grip on my soul and instead of feeling passionate wanderlust I felt bitter annoyance.

I didn’t like it anymore, none of it made me happy.

I had no inspiration, no desire to tell readers about my books, no excitement about my latest release, no rush of pride when fans asked me to sign their books, no curiosity or motivation to read another book, nothing. I was an emotionless void of apathy. And when something you used to love stops making you happy and it’s not something that pays your bills, you really have no choice but to stop doing that thing.

Months went by, I wrote my second non fiction book, went on a family vacation, dedicated myself to three days at the gym to feel something — anything (pain, fatigue, and chemical highs for the win) but none of it restored my love of books. I attended my first two events as a Word Fire Press Author, Emerald City and Dallas Comic Con, the latter of which was the beginning of being shaken out of my perpetual book void.

Days before taking off to Dallas I bought my first hard cover book in ages. It was an off the cuff young adult book about a girl growing up in a cult and her liberation from said family lifestyle. It was an interesting, easy read by an author who has done nothing but dedicate her life to literature.

Shortly after that I found myself in Brandon, MB. for a Rock and Mineral Festival where I spent too much money and ended up at the bookstore. In the months of the void bookstores made me miserable. I’d walk into one, wonder why my books would never, ever, ever be on the shelf (like, ever) and I’d look at the books that were on the shelf and wonder how their books ended up on the shelf and mine did not. There’s really no good explanation to this because for all intents and purposes the people whose books are on the shelf endeavored to write great books and succeeded to some degree and then there’s me whose books are bestsellers and just as well written and popular as the books on the shelf.

The only difference is that Barnes & Noble does not stock my publisher’s books.

Bookstores always ignited this sort of sanger (sad anger) that would choke me up and force me to buy nothing because it was impossible to buy anything once the eternal debate began in my brain. However, when I was in Brandon I returned to a Coles I had once done a book signing at. The signing was during my first year as a published author, and it was so charming that a kid with a large McDonald’s drink asked me to watch his drink so he could go look at the Manga section. He left it on my table because he wasn’t allowed to bring it into the store. I wended through the aisles to the back of the store and bought two John Green books. Paper Towns because it’s becoming a movie soon and Will Grayson, Will Grayson because it had a new cover and looked interesting and because I really like John Green and David Levithan.

Paper Towns was incredibly insightful, but it was also just a book about teens doing stupid teen things and philosophically analyzing the stupid teen things they were doing so that in the grand scheme of the universe, those silly things actually meant something and helped them come to epic conclusions about their small existence in the giant universe.

And that’s when I realized that’s the sort of author I want to be.

My issues with writing and publishing stem from becoming a monkey in a box, churning out meaningless novels in a pointless attempt to keep up with the demands of the publishing world. I know the landscape of publishing is changing and that readers are demanding a book every nine months. I’ve listened to various talks on the state of the publishing industry and how authors can navigate these choppy waters. I’ve felt pressured to fall in line with every other author out there, chain myself to my computer and write until I bleed. The only problem with that is that when my heart isn’t in it, I can’t write. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that authors must write everyday, and that to truly be successful you have to get your butt in the chair and write.

But writing requires thinking, and thinking takes time.

I thought that since I didn’t want to be the mold, it meant I wasn’t cut out to be a published author. I’ve been withdrawing because I’m not like the other folks, I don’t like crowds, parties, people, promoting, and I don’t celebrate the small successes because things like bestseller lists mean very little to me. What matters most to me are reviews, fan feedback, support, and admiration for the actual book I wrote (not the cover or the bazillion copies I sold or the thing I posted on tumblr or the vlog you watched, but the booooook you read and loved).

I’m quiet and comfort. I will never have a youtube channel or post a lot on twitter or facebook. I will never be the kind of literary leader a fan base needs because I am an incoherent introvert.

Paper Towns made me realize that I could easily be a paper author living in a post apocalyptic publishing landscape, or I could be me and I could think, dream, and be.

The types of books I’ve always tried to write were the ones that made readers stop and think about the frailty, beauty and imperfections of life, told through the eyes of young people who haven’t been tainted, jaded or turned apathetic by those same imperfections.

Strip away the mystical island, the hidden abilities, prophecies and magic, and you’ll find behind most of my books is a startling central philosophy. If you like so many others were swept up in the romantic fantasy drama, you may have missed these messages, but they’re all over my website like testaments to the actual importance of the books.

“Life DEMANDS your participation”
“Your destiny will ALWAYS come for you.”
“You cannot know JOY until you know SORROW.”
“Sometimes it takes evil to DESTROY evil.”
“Sometimes the villain is YOU.”

I will never be a commercial author. I won’t write for the sake of writing, for the bonus paycheque, or the glory and fame. I will always write because I have a story to tell and wisdom to share.

I’m a bit like George R.R. Martin in that I frequently kill my main characters and it takes me forever to release a book, but if George R.R. Martin is my author patronus, then John Green is my spirit guide because my books will always carry an important message about life, love, and what it means to exist in this chaotic universe.

And right now I have no stories I want to tell, but I can tell you this — the next story I write will be treated differently because my stories were meant for bookstore shelves and literary awards and international tours and one day I will write something worthy of those things.

– Rhi

The Evolution of The Ferryman & The Flame Covers

I’ve seen a few posts on this subject as of late and thought since the fourth book in my The Ferryman & The Flame series is hitting the shelves in a few days, that I’d write a post about the evolution of my covers and the thought process behind each of them. These are in chronological order, since if you can believe it, I released SURRENDER in October of 2011!

2011

Covers by Parajunkee Design

Rachel and I had a plan, use the models from the fandom photo shoots and make something epic and pretty. I loved both of these covers so much. You’ll notice that my publisher at the time, Coscom Entertainment, preferred the three word titles as opposed to single words. You’ll notice that in publishing, some publishers prefer certain things when it comes to titles. Always, always be prepared to workshop your titles when you publish.

 

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These covers served me well, they were stunning, creative, dark and they captured the essence of the story. Unfortunately, sometimes authors end up having issues with rights and soon, the two models on these covers began dating, had a messy break up, and revoked the rights they had given me to use them on my covers.

2012

Cover by Marc Wolfe and Ash De La Rosa

I tried something new. I went to an artist friend of mine, and asked him to make me his version of my main characters. I liked one of the pieces so much I tried to use it as a cover for a short period of time. At this time I had also revoked the rights from Coscom Entertainment and was self publishing the work on my own.

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Marc Wolfe did a fantastic job of capturing Kaliel, but the art was difficult to work with, without the title blending in too much with the cover. I also tried a newer cover designer who did her best to make the cover look like a real book cover. Needless to say this is unfortunately my least favorite attempt at a SURRENDER cover.

2013

Cover Designer: Regina Wamba, Mae I Design, Emma Michaels

After stalking Regina online for months, I decided to talk to her. She was fantastic, suggesting that we take my existing covers and start from scratch. I helped with the stock photo hunt since we had a hard deadline, and we came up with something aesthetically pleasing. At this time I was also working with Linn Borscheim on adding interior art to the books because I didn’t like self publishing without offering something more in the books. So I was getting maps, interior art, and creating a guide for readers. Regina finished some of the most amazing covers for me over the course of the next few months, enough to cover the whole series.

You may have noticed that Parajunkee only did Surrender and Justice, because nobody had ever gotten further into the series than that. Regina was the first to do covers for all the books in the series.

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Other than VILLAINS, Regina was the mastermind behind these epic covers, which really defined my books and set the stage for SURRENDER selling over 100,000 copies and making me a national bestseller in Canada!

Emma Michaels made the fantastic VILLAINS cover you see in the middle of this collage, but this was after she had created five novella covers for me. The novellas tied into the series, but I wasn’t sure how to handle them. Because they weren’t paperbacks I wanted to release them as ebooks, so people could pick them up individually between the other books.

When I was picked up by WordFire Press however, we wanted to make an omnibus of the novellas, so we created VILLAINS and put all five of the stores into it with their respective covers.

Here are the five novella covers Emma Michaels made for me

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Emma is the designer I like working with the most. Sure, I’ve worked with a few others, but Emma and I were fast friends and the fact that she shared my vision for the books always helped. I always breathed a sigh of relief when I needed a cover and I could work with Emma on it.

2015

Cover Design – Emma Michaels

Cover Art – Galia and Kitty

That being said, even though these covers were gorgeous, when it came to releasing MERCY (aka my favorite book of all time) I was conflicted about the covers. Regina’s and Emma’s earlier covers were fantastic, but the use of stock images bothered me. Anyone out there could use the same stock photos and I’d see the model on someone else’s books. At the same time, the heavy photoshopped feel of some of the covers made me feel like this was just too much. We were trying to manipulate stock photo far too much.

I was also at a crossroads with the second artist for the interior art, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get art into the books anymore. I was searching Deviant Art for an artist who could work with me and work fast on producing more pieces for MERCY, ASYLUM and CHAOS. I knew I might have to start from scratch but I was willing to take that chance if the art would stun the readers.

Then I found Galia and Kitty. Their redraws of Elsa and Anna were hard to look away from, and I had to work with them. I didn’t know WHAT we would work on, but an idea struck: redo the TFTF covers. Since Galia and Kitty specialized in redraws, I thought, take the original covers and have them redraw them in their style, which was anime, but closer to the artwork inside the books than anything else.

I waited weeks for Galia to begin, and was posting on my group Incoherent Introverts and other places that we were getting new covers.

When I showed  the art to some of my fans, they both loved and hated them. I guess I understand, but I truly loved the new direction. I wanted these covers to attract a younger audience, to match the interior art, and to be something that would stand apart from all the other covers out there.

I think what I got was exactly what I was looking for.

I asked Emma to be on board to do the typography and design bits for these covers, because she’s really the only person I want working on my book covers ever. We waited together on a number of things because I was being really picky. This was the first time I’d have to sell a publisher on a cover, since nope I didn’t have the blessing of Kevin or WordFire Press behind me to get these covers.

Emma and I waited on the art, loved some of it, hated some of it, had to have some of it redone a bunch of times, but eventually it was perfect. Then we waited on the guy who owned the font we wanted to use. After testing a lot of other fonts I chose Dust Serif, which we couldn’t use without a proper license. So the guy took forever to get back to us and then charged us for it and we went on our merry way.

If that wasn’t enough, I decided I wanted accents and we went through the book store looking at cool covers similar to mine and decided what we wanted my new ones to look like. Both of us thought the tree of life, or some kind of emblem would be fantastic. I did the stock photo searching and came up with the image, and some other cool celtic knot corner pieces.

Once we had all the pieces together, Emma was able to layout and design the covers within a few days. I’m never worried with Emma because I know what she’ll produce will be amazing. And then we often sit back and have our own private little SQUEEEE moments until we’re allowed to show the world the pretty cover.

How did it go with Kevin? Well, when we did show him, he wasn’t sure about their saleability, but he was willing to give them a chance and hope it opens me up to a new market of fans.

And if you haven’t seen them at the top of my page here they are again, minus CHAOS because we’re still working on that one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In the end I might very well be that crazy author that’s addicted to redoing my covers a bazillion times, or it just goes to show that when you find a cover designer you like working with, you should thank your lucky stars and never look back.

Either way, I’m 100% in love with these covers and cannot thank Emma Michaels enough for putting up with all my crazy throughout the process!

Cheers,

Rhi

 

 

REVIEW: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

Hands down the best dystopian book I have ever read.

I know this is saying a lot considering The Hunger Games, Divergent, Delirium, Halo, Blood Red Road, The Giver, etc, but it’s true. Elizabeth Fama has created the first believable dystopian I have read.

Soleil lives in a world where in many countries they have divided the population into Night and Day. Strict restrictions guard each of the factions with the Day people being favored over the Night people, the smudges. Soleil is sadly a smudge, only allowed outside after dark, to do the same things other people do during the day.

The system works because it’s something that could happen to our society. Not every country on the planet has been abolished, Japan doesn’t have the Day/Night system, and transfers from Night to Day take place depending on what your position in work and the government are.

It makes sense because there’s less traffic on the subway, more productivity in factories where before there might only be one person on the night shift, now there’s a full crew. It helped countries get out of the economic slump and begin to solve their debts.

Soleil is about as normal as they come, and I love how the elements of a poverty imprisoned youth collide with a seemingly privileged doctor, Day Boy for lack of a better term (he has a name but I can’t remember it) is exactly what you’d expect from an intern trying not to piss off the powers that be to get his sanctioned scholarships and set on a good path in life.

It’s amazing how realistic Elizabeth Fama has made Plus One that it’s sometimes hard to believe it’s dystopian. I’d have to call it dystopian contemporary because the elements in the book besides the romance between Sol and Day Boy is obvious, the medical procedures, kidnappings, and cancer are all things that make this book very contemporary.

Do yourself a favor and get this one when it comes out. Elizabeth Fama has succeeded in being just like Katie McGarry when creating her characters, and as creative and out of this world as Frankie Rose with her world building. You will not regret picking this one up.

Cheers,
Rhi

P.S. I got this book off NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Keep calm and let Kevin handle it

O hai!

Welcome back readers, fans, bloggers, friends, and other people just perusing the interwebs for interesting stories. What you’ve stumbled upon is another chapter of my publishing journey.

If you need some catching up, here’s the long and short of what you’ve missed.

I wrote a book (Surrender, The Ferryman + The Flame #1) and after trying the traditional route, I was picked up by small press Coscom Entertainment. That was July of 2011. They published the book, signed the second one, and in August of 2012 we parted ways. At the time Coscom was too busy to give their authors what they needed, so I took the rights back and self published my books.

2013 was a banner year for me, selling 50,000 copies of Surrender, releasing Justice, the novellas, and the prequels. I wrote the last book in The Ferryman + The Flame Series. I went to BEA, met David Levithan, and did a lot of shows, Chicago and Salt Lake City being the most awesome shows for me.

I wasn’t sure what would happen in 2014.

It wasn’t until Salt Lake City that I felt good enough for myself. I have a tendency to set the bar far too high for myself and then have trouble reaching my goals. In this case, I exceeded my goals, and had to make new goals.

I didn’t know what else I wanted to achieve, and the emptiness I felt was palpable.

Selling books doesn’t make me happy. Readers make me happy, the look on their faces when I remember their names, the feeling I get when they talk about certain parts of the books, or make props or costumes, or ask me to write novellas branching off into other characters. I like it when people are interested in what I do, when they think it’s cool and want to enjoy my work for the fandom it is.

So because I didn’t know what I wanted to achieve, I took time off to go to Disney World with my kids, catch up on some television (third season of Sherlock) and live like everyone else. I killed off some of my giant TBR list, and worked on other long term goals I hadn’t completed yet (like buy a house.)

Somewhere in all of this I thought it would be nice if someone would pick me up. I’ve seen it happen to other authors who had sold 10k, or 20k copies of their books, they’re with Atria, or Harlequin or were picked up by an agent, or small press. I sold 50k, queried a few more top agents who seemed interested but ultimately found reasons to say no, and so nothing really special happened to me.

No fanfare, no red carpets, no tiara or scepter, or really awesome poofy dresses.

And frankly, nobody caring is what made being self published suck.

Fast forward a few months to March 2014, where I’m moving to my new house, moving my store to a new location, running three events, traveling to one out of the city, and life is at the height of crazy cakes.

I joined Kevin J. Anderson’s group on Facebook (we met in 2012 and again in 2013 at shows,) and one day he posts a limited edition T-Shirt that says, “Keep Calm and Let Kevin Handle It” I laughed because when we were at Salt Lake City, he had a big booth display and it wasn’t just his books, he had a couple other authors there. I assumed he was only publishing his titles, I didn’t realize he and Rebecca had opened a small press and had published over 100 titles and were making waves in the industry.

So I posted: “LOL I was thinking that the other day ‘Man, publishing my books all by myself is so hard, I should let Kevin handle it.”

And by some crazy happenstance, the next day there’s a message in my Facebook inbox . . . from Kevin. And he’s saying, “I know you were kidding, but if you were thinking about it, let’s talk.”

Business woman in me tells me to stay calm, this could be nothing, while fangirl in me is like, holy shit did he just respond?

So I respond and we talk about trust, and what WordFire Press has been up to, and all the authors he has and all the cool things he can offer me. All the while saying things like, “if you think this can benefit you.”

And I’m thinking: UM YES . . . NO KIDDING . . . SOMEONE CARES!

I manage to reel in my inner fangirl, because in case you haven’t noticed, Kevin J. Anderson has written over 100 books, has 40 NYT Bestsellers out there, is one of the nicest people on the planet, and has something to do with the new Star Wars movies (I think, there was an article I’ll need to link you to.)

We basically unofficially agreed this would benefit both of us, and he unofficially signed me. He went to Emerald City Comic Con and told Emma Michaels he had picked me up, and a couple days later she congratulated me on Facebook and I’m all, “How did you find out, I don’t remember telling you?” and she’s all, “Kevin told me.” and I’m all . . . “OMG I CAN’T EVEN . . .”

And because life was insane, I was taking possession of my house, trying to keep up with e-mails from Kevin discussing details and heading to St. Louis for Wizard World where I clearly did not bring enough books (I sold out at noon on Saturday . . .)

As soon as I returned, Kevin went to Hollywood for Writers of the Future, but despite that he e-mailed on the day my movers showed up, wanting to Skype, and I’m all, “Hahahahahahaha so my fridge is in a truck . . .”

Go us.

Before Kevin went to Hollywood he announced me to his WordFire Press team, and it was UNANIMOUS. They are super excited to have me as part of their publishing family!

And that’s when business woman in me was like, “shut up and read the contract” and fangirl in me was like, “OMG is this really happening!?” I got this e-mail while I was at Captain America with Kristie and I was jumping as we were leaving the theatre. She was confused and I was out of breath so I told her and then she was jumping too.

I’m allowing myself a moment to say it’s incredibly cool to be signed by Kevin J. Anderson. He’s had an amazing career, writing books, teaching young authors, attending events, and plowing the way with WordFire Press. He’s community oriented, and I’m glad I was picked to be on his team!

Share, comment, like and you’ll be entered to win a Rhi Pie Prize Pack!

I’ll have details soon on the new release dates for the books, but Kevin is certain we can get them back on the shelf by mid May.

Cheers,
Rhi

The Hero’s Journey Panel at WW St. Louis

O Hai!

You heard right! I’ll be at Wizard World St. Louis talking about Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey and how it pertains to popular series like Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and more. You’re welcomed to join our distinguished group of panelists for an interesting look at pop culture.

DAY: Sunday, April 6
PANEL TITLE: “The Hero’s Journey..(more)”
TIME: 11:30-12:15pm
ROOM: 144

Moderator: 

Rhi Paille

Rhiannon is a Booksmith from the North, telling her fantastical tales to unsuspecting folk on mountains, in valleys and mostly in cities around the world. She holds a PhD in Metaphysical Science and Parapsychology, which is to say she happens to know a lot about what goes bump in the night. When she’s not writing she’s singing karaoke, burning dinner, and hiding her superhero identity. She’d like to own a unicorn one day, as long as it doesn’t eat her. You’ll find her sipping iced cappuccino despite her allergy to coffee at www.yafantasyauthor.com

Panelists:

Christopher Boll

He’s still busy writing his bio, so for now I’ll say he makes art for Studio De Sade, First Arcana and Flame Bearers as well as maps for my The Ferryman + The Flame Series. He’s philosophical so it might take him awhile to write a real bio, for now you can use this one.

Adron Buske

St. Louis-based writer Adron Buske is the co-creator of the supernatural comic adventure series “Loop & Hoodie” with artists Dan Cassity and Travis Nuckolls, as well as the fantasy adventure comic “Good Intentions” with artist Gene Kelly.

He and his wife, Wendy Buske, are the creators of Nerd for a Living, a website and marketing service dedicated to helping nerds/geeks discover fulfilling, profitable and sustainable career paths in fandom-related industries. They host an interview podcast at NerdForALiving.com.

Adron has been a creative professional for over 12 years, working in digital and broadcast media. He channels his skills in graphic design, web development, photography, and marketing into his company, Armadian Creative.

Find out more at AdronBuske.com
Follow him on Twitter: @AdronBuske

Genese Davis

Genese Davis is an American author, host, columnist and media personality. She is the author of The Holder’s Dominion and the founder of The Gamer In You. Davis was recently awarded iGR Woman of the Year, and is a Publishers Weekly featured novelist. As an award-winning writer, model and moderator she appears internationally for entertainment and literary events.

Jeffrey Johnson

One of the greatest things about growing up a fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy in the 80’s was that I was there to be shocked as Flynn was pulled into the digital world in “Tron,”  I could be jealous of Alex Rogan when he was recruited by Star Command  in “The Last Starfighter,”  I cheered when the Ghostbusters defeated Gozer the Gozerian.  The wonderful thing about being an illustrator is that I’m no longer merely a spectator, but am now a part of bringing exciting stories like these to life.

Jeffrey Johnson is a stay-at-home dad, freelance illustrator, web comiker, and crafter. He lives, works and plays in Saint Louis, MO with his wife and two daughters. You can find more about him and his Handmade Family at http://www.lifewithgirls.net

READ ALL THE BOOKS

THE FOLLOWING BOOKS HAVE BEEN RELEASED IN PAPERBACK AND ON KINDLE (exclusively) (also click this to be taken to where ALL my books are) 

The rest of this post is inconsequential.

In November I unfriended over 400 people on Facebook because I’m an introvert and I have issues.

At the time I really needed a vacation. I was sick of working my ass off, sick of everyone and everything. 
No seriously, I wanted everyone to leave me alone.
December became massed in work not being done and me catching up on all the shows I had missed. 

January came and we took the kids to Disney . . . and we didn’t really want to leave, but we did . . . because we had to.

And that’s really when all the crazy hit us. I honestly believed the worst was over, and that I’d go on a vacation and come back rested and go back to doing things I loved doing . . . I was wrong. 
In the interest of keeping my sanity, the whole telling the world to read my books thing became the least important thing in my life. 

And despite that whole, wanting to stick to my new year’s resolutions and lose weight, write songs, and learn to play the guitar, my attention was averted. No play time for me.

And now that I’m almost through all the hard stuff, I’m about ready to get back to people reading my books and jumping for joy over the number of fans I’ve gotten by doing everything wrong.

And because I’ve been wallowing in this hole of despair trying to put my life back on track, and also because I love my fans so much, I’ve released VULTURE and the omnibus of The Untold Stories all at once, both in paperback and kindle versions. I’m taking everything but SURRENDER back to KDP Select because Smashwords hasn’t paid me (not once since I began using their services.) and I’m concerned.

In case you didn’t hear it the first time, I HAVE UNLEASHED THE KRAKEN! Erm, I mean the books! The books are out and you can read them! (Seriously go read them.) 

I’ll be doing things I love again including but not limited to: writing, reading minds, burning dinner, singing karaoke, going to movie with my kids, songwriting, guitar playing, event organizing, editing, beta reading, blogging, and consulting.

And in case you were wondering about those issues of mine, here’s #72.

REVIEW: The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson

What a terrible book.

J.C. Carleson has the writing style down, there’s no doubt that she can write, what she lacks is believability, story line, and passion.

When I read the blurb on NetGalley I was expecting a fictional true life story. Even if those events never happened and it was alternate reality fiction I still wanted it to be based somewhat on truth.

The biggest issue for me was not knowing what country Laila and her family was from. That made a lot of the logical things stand out for me, like the CIA helping the royal family escape to America but then leaving them with no money to live on. That didn’t seem remotely believable to me, and was then negated when Laila found the proof of the multiple bank accounts around the world holding onto her family’s fortune.

Culture, culture, culture was the second thing for me. Under no circumstances would a muslim girl come to America and a) claim to be not religious b) not wear her hajib anymore c) wear revealing clothing and grope on a dance floor d) not defend her country or her family e) have a relationship with a boy not of her culture and f) speak with those from her country who consider themselves her enemy.

At first I was trying to see into Laila’s world but the more I poked at it the more I saw the holes, the flimsy world building, and all the lies the author was feeding us. I realized about 25% into the book that this was not based on something that actually happened.

And the complaints continue. The minor complaints made me want to scream on a very crowded airplane. HIJAB! Muslim women wear HIJABS and not once did J.C. Carleson refer to it as such. She kept referring to it as a veil. It’s not a veil.

Secondly, Laila spoke like an American girl most of the time. There was no hints as to how her accent sounded, only that she had an accent. I hate to say it but everyone has an accent, you need to be more specific so the readers can read her words properly. When Rainbow Rowell wrote Eleanor & Park, she not only explained Park’s mom was Korean, but also outlined the way Park’s mom spoke, and wrote the mother’s dialogue in such a way that as a reader I was hearing Mrs. Kim’s voice (Gilmore Girls) in my mind.

J.C. Carleson included an author’s note in the back of the book which basically blew my mind. Carleson explained her trips to the middle east, her inspiration for the book and her choices to not include the name of the country because for this story she drew from many countries in the middle east.

The author’s note solves all of my complaints. The story isn’t believable because Carleson isn’t middle eastern. Laila seemed American because again Carleson is not middle eastern. Laila did a pile of things no middle eastern princess would ever do because again, Carleson isn’t muslim. (I think the groping on the dance floor thing was the biggest OMG moment for me.) The accents were undefined because Carleson obviously forgot about the readers. The word “hajib” was horrifyingly missed because Carleson didn’t bother to look it up.

What this boils down to is a whole lot of ignorance. Carleson was inspired to write a story centering around a middle eastern princess, without actually knowing what it’s like to be a middle eastern princess. She fails to put together a story that’s believeable, poignant and that actually opens our eyes about the problems the middle east is facing.

Visiting a country isn’t the same thing as being brought up in that country and it certainly doesn’t give someone the right to blatantly disrespect that culture or that country. Maybe Carleson didn’t realize that there’s a lot of violence, political and religious differences between the factions of middle eastern people and that creating a character with conflicting traits from all of these cultures might offend some people.

I’m offended.
The end.

Cheers,
Rhi

REVIEW: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We were liars was provided to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review, but truthfully, I picked this up on NetGalley because of a fantastic review by Emma Michaels.

We were liars is a deceptive tale of a girl who almost drowned, and is both trying to remember what happened before the accident and heal herself from the past.

She’s a girl who falls in love with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks and a girl who for lack of a better word doesn’t really feel like she fits into the family she’s part of.

She speaks a lot about the hush hush nature of her posh family who owns an island with four houses no less, and has a scrutinizing grand father and whose mother and aunts keep divorcing men who aren’t good enough for them.

The writing style is beautiful, with short, choppy sentences that simply display the details and none of the fluff that can sometimes bog down books. It’s very poignant and precise in its writing and I love that about it.

The mystery surrounding the girl’s accident and the way she pulls it all apart is quite flawless. It’s gruesome and terrifying come the end but it’s also one of those things you can’t forget in a book.

I can’t talk about it too much without giving out details but this is a drag you to the bottom of the ocean kind of book. I loved it when she realized the dogs had been involved and when she hugged Gat, he told her that wasn’t everything, that there was more to remember.

You have to read this one for yourself to understand the pure genius of this novel, so I’ll leave you to it. Besides, I was told that if anyone asked me about the ending, I would lie.

Cheers,
Rhi

REVIEW: The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa

My first thought when I saw this book on NetGalley was OMG another book by Julie Kagawa! Click click click click click click.

Then a few days later Harlequin approved me (thanks ladies!) and I downloaded the book onto my kindle.

And then life got in the way and I began reading but I kept putting the book down and reading nothing because I wasn’t in a reading mood this year.

I finally came back to The Iron Traitor in November wondering what I had missed. I really didn’t like the cover on this one, the guys on the previous covers looked like teenagers, and they greatly differed from the “Fabio” hunks on the usual Harlequin covers. (Hey Harlequin has come a long way but they still put out those “Harlequin Novels”)

This guy looks like Fabio, the chiseled jaw, the pointy nose, the longer hair, the gray eye. I just couldn’t connect with him and I’m pretty sure this is meant to represent Kierran so okay that’s great too, once again a character I didn’t connect well with in The Lost Prince . . .

In some ways I feel like Julie and I have some of the same ideas and then completely different ways of executing those ideas on paper, which I love about her. I like the way she weaves the fantasy world with the real world.

This book was a bit different, the plot has been getting more and more diluted as the books go on. I’m all happy for more Iron Fey books don’t kid me, but Ash and Megan had their day, their huge war, and they won their Iron Throne. Ash even oddly enough went off to get his humanity and then somehow kept his abilities as an Ice Prince.

Iron Traitor kind of picks up where Lost Prince left off. The Forgotten aren’t feeding on exiles anymore, but they’re feeding on something worse, and then Annwyl the girl Kierran is in love with, is dying of the Fade, which leads them into a slew of trouble trying to figure out how to stop the fade. There are a few new fae creatures in here, one of which I liked was the Thin Man.

Without giving too much away, the story got interesting about a quarter of the way through, when Ethan is in New Orleans and Kenzie shows up anyway despite him telling her not to. And it’s nice watching Kenzie save Ethan’s ass, since he pretends to be such a bad boy.

There’s a guest appearance briefly by Ash, a new way to travel through “the In Between” and an ending you definitely won’t forget. Oh and then a ritual with Guro that will take you by surprise. I was surprised because that ritual was done rather well, and rather accurately for the results the characters wanted to pull off. I liked the real feel to it, it gave the story a lot of believability.

And then the end came and I was pretty much shocked. I wasn’t sad and I didn’t cry but I was like, “wow, another person taking more risks, I wonder how this is going to be taken . . .” You know, because one author already killed off their main character this year and ignited an uprising, now we have another author doing it and here I am over here in my little Indie Corner with my not very well known book series in which I also killed off my main character … and I’m thinking “great now there’s nothing I can do to be original anymore.” but I did it in the first book, and I’m glad there’s another book in Julie’s series because otherwise I might be upset.

So the thing is, this is the fifth in the Iron Fey Series and if you haven’t read the other books you should because they are SO GOOD! This feels a bit like we’ve been there before, but at the same time, Julie is upping the ante with the characters and making good decisions and she’s got a story arc that I want to see to the finish line, so hopefully this finish can be as good as the one in The Iron Knight (book 4 in the series)

This book has been out since the end of October, so if you haven’t read it yet go grab your copy and get reading!

Cheers,
Rhi

The Official VULTURE Themesong

O Hai,

So this song . . . was on repeat more than any other song while I was writing VULTURE. For me it’s always about lyrics and in this song the chorus and the bridge hold a lot of meaning and relevance to the goings on in VULTURE.

If you’ve read SURRENDER and JUSTICE you know that VULTURE is the crescendo, all the little seeds I’ve planted have grown and if you thought the impossibilities Kaliel and Krishani faced in SURRENDER and JUSTICE were dire, just wait until VULTURE. Essentially VULTURE is the first of my two favorite books in this series, and I can’t wait for you all to read it and completely hate me afterwards.

AND a little note for those of you who have read SURRENDER, don’t forget to post a little REVIEW on Amazon for it, it really helps others find the books and I’m a sucker for five star raving reviews, I’m apt to post that shit all over my facebook waving my hands in the air like, “SOMEONE THINKS I DID GOOD!” That’s all that matters, doing good, being respected for the kinds of choices I had to make with this book.

I promise it’s worth it in the end. You won’t get an HEA until the sixth book CHAOS, but the emotional depth and the scary incredibly depressing places I will take you through the eyes of Kaliel and Krishani will make you think about how fragile life is. I know I told this story with all of the paranormal elements but I hope you see the emotional aspect, the struggle to be normal (and not paranormal) that the Kaliel and Krishani go through.

So without further adieu here is No Light No Light by Florence + The Machine

Cheers, Rhi