Facebook and other social media platforms have created amazing ways for people to interact and stay in touch, promote their businesses, and view the world from new, interesting perspectives and opinions. Most of all, it's allowed people to share their lives, support one another's endeavors, or be a shoulder when there's loss. Dogs, criminals, lost children, all have been found through social media. It's powerful. But what I've also learned from social media is that there's a lot of hate and divisiveness still in this world. More than I had realized. Because on the flip side, it's also become a place for people to denigrate each other, bully, and and wave flags for ignorance and intolerance.
After the attacks on Pulse in Orlando, Florida, it's never been more clear that hate among, not just extremist groups, but Americans, is strong. Regardless of whether the shooter, Omar Mateen, decided to shoot up the club because he hated gays or he hated Americans, make no mistake, it was a crime of hate. And I'm certain that when Eddie Justice, a club-goer who tragically lost his life during the killings, was texting his mother that Mateen was in the bathroom with them, what motivated Mateen's hatred was second to the fact that he was in there to kill as many people as possible. "I'm gonna die," Justice texted his mother. Those texts were the last conversation she had with her son. I have no words.
These are the stories that chill me, the last text messages, the phone calls people made to loved ones on 9-11, faced with so many definitions of terror. It makes it real. For a brief moment, I can imagine, what if that was me? What if that was me saying one last goodbye and thinking about my young child who is my world, left behind without a mother? What if it was me receiving such a message from my husband, my sister, a friend? How helpless a feeling, how terrifying, how horrible, how lacking in words do I feel to try and describe what these people must have felt, what their loves ones are now feeling. Sadly, it's a scenario I've imagined many times.
In times like these, of which there seem to be increasingly more, it's always healing to see the country unite. Sharing love, compassion, empathy, and grief. I feel at a loss this time around, in the wake of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. I've seen plenty of support for the gay community and a general sharing of sadness over this tragedy, but I've also seen a serious breakdown in the culture of support, a divisiveness where there is no compromise, a spewing of stances on second amendment rights, disagreements surrounding presidential responses, Muslim rights, gay rights, etc. More anger, more hate, more vitriolic discussions on who's right and who's wrong. Forty-nine people died and the country is grieving. Let's focus on that as a united people before we get back to the squabbling, don't you think?
It's my mantra: #StopTheHate
It was Friday, pizza and movie night with my husband and son, when I got the instant message from my marketing manager ... Did you see the latest Booktrope announcement? I knew before looking, I'd had a feeling that I hadn't taken seriously. I should have.
When my publisher, Booktrope, announced they were closing late last month I was instantly awash with a mesh of emotions that sent me straight to the wine. Once I was sipping some Apothic, the movie forgotten, by me at least, I waded through the confusion, anger, disbelief, and fear among authors and team members that accompanied the announcement in Booktrope forums and teamrooms, I felt my anxiety rise. Some people showed their best colors, others their worst. I tried to show my most reasonable, supportive, and kind face in the midst of widespread panic.
I'd been wanting to try different avenues of publishing for a while. I've read that some of the most successful authors are those that are diverse among platforms and publishers, which I deemed a good way to go about this crazy publishing business. But I'd also planned on publishing with Booktrope for a long time to come, as long as they'd have me anyway, so I wasn't ready for my books to not be available come May 31. I'm in the middle of writing a sequel after all! Booktrope was my first book home, and ice cream soon followed the wine chased down by intense uncertainty. What would I do next?
I could self publish, which seemed to be the avenue the majority of my fellow authors were planning on taking ... I thought about it, agonized, called my sister to whine. But when it was all said and done, I knew I wasn't ready for that. I wanted the support from a publisher, I always had. First and foremost, I knew I had been given one blessing with the news. After having spent eight years writing Fractured Dream, I could barely wait to set my first book baby free back in 2014. Looking back, I see mistakes I made as a new author, ones I've been wanting to fix. I believe so strongly in this story, I spent years building the world, and with the second one getting closer to being done, I knew I really wanted to re-edit Fractured Dream and make it better. So that is what I'm choosing to do. Unfortunately, Fractured Dream is going to disappear for a while. When I'm ready, I'll be looking for its new home along with the second book in the trilogy, Shattered World. And it will be back, I promise!
As for The Reaper's Daughter, I'm happy to announce as of June 1, fantasy publisher Dragon Moon Press will be my second book baby's new home. I'm excited to join this new publishing family and I have a good feeling about it.
Once I'm done editing Fractured Dream, I'll be back at the bit, finishing up Shattered World and continuing to work on a Sci-Fi YA Romance I'm feeling very passionate about.
For now, both titles are available at discounted prices until May 31! The Reaper's Daughter is currently 99 cents and Fractured Dream is $2.00.
Now that the dust has settled, I'm truly thankful for Booktrope. They made me a published author and realized a dream I've had almost since I could read. I got to work with and meet some amazing people, made friends with kindred souls, became a book editor, and was given the opportunity to be immersed in a community of like-minded individuals, those who love to write, read, and breathe words.
It's life and it goes something like this:
"Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.”
― Tom Stoppard
So I recently picked up Downcast by Cait Reynolds. In the spirit of transparency, I am going to let you know we have the same publisher, but that in no way has affected my review. If I don't like something I don't review it, plain and simple. So here's my rave.
In Downcast we meet Stephanie Starr. You remember that poor girl in high school whose mother made all her clothes? That's Stephanie. But she comes with a whole world of other baggage, including an oppressive mother-daughter relationship that really is something of mythic proportions.
Pretty fast we meet Zach and Haley, two new boys who've recently moved to the area. Stephanie is smart, but she's insecure and convinced any motive behind a popular person's attention to her means they're messing with her, just waiting to humiliate her the moment she gives into the belief anyone outside of her small circle of friends would be interested in her. And yet, from the moment deep, mysterious, dark, and good-looking Haley lays his eyes on her, he seems transfixed, an interest she doesn't encourage, but one that draws her in the longer it endures.
Pretty fast the reader realizes a myth is being played out in modern day high school—Persephone and Hades. What I loved about Reynold's writing wasn't just how deeply embroiled I became from almost the first page, but I loved her characterization. Stephanie truly was one of the most interesting characters because she wasn't immediately the most beautiful or interesting girl at school. She initially is submissive, insecure, and only when Haley comes around does she seem to assert any sort of agency. And yet, as the story unravels, she evolves dramatically.
Outside of everything else involved in this unique take on an old Greek myth, the romance was STEAMY. I would love to date Haley ... if he wasn't a high school boy (in the book) and I wasn't already married (in real life) and deeply devoted to my long-time book boyfriend (Tarod from Louise Cooper's Time Master Trilogy). Reynolds is a master of the romantic build up, something that seems lacking or almost non-existent in so many books today.
I turned and turned those pages, and so should you if you're a fan of Greek mythology twists, YA romance, and interesting heroines to boot. You can find Downcast on Amazon for $3.99 in Kindle and $16.95 in paperback. While Reynolds is busy at work on the sequel in the Olympus Falling series, she has since released Angel Hands, a standalone. Stay tuned for an interview with the lovely Cait Reynolds later this week.
In honor of Downcast's one year anniversary, Reynolds will release a special director's cut of deleted scenes with the launch of her newsletter at the end of May, and it will feature almost 50k of content that never made it into the book!
**You can also read this review and others at Cellar Door Lit Rants & Reviews
What would you do when faced with an impossible truth? Written with heart and passion, Downcast by Cait Reynolds is ripe with twists you never saw coming and love that defies the odds in this intense new Paranormal Romance retelling one of mythology’s greatest love stories.
It’s the start of Stephanie Starr’s senior year of high school, but sadly, this is no life of the prom queen. Stuck at the bottom of the high school social totem pole, Stephanie is forced by her domineering mother to wear lumpy linen dresses and eat organic tofu for lunch in a world of mini-skirts and pizza.
What Stephanie doesn’t anticipate is gorgeous and cocky Haley Smith who breaks social convention and pursues her with a determination that is both terrifying and flattering. Afraid that Haley is simply trying to set her up for massive humiliation, Stephanie does her best to push him away. But the more attention he pays to her, the more she runs, and the more everyone else begins to notice.
Instead of a loving family to support her as the mean girls make their play, Stephanie’s mother begins to unravel mentally, her possessiveness of Stephanie spiraling to new and frightening extremes. Stephanie is forced to grow up, find herself, and learn the truth about her past in order to save her mother, her friends, and her town. When the truth is revealed, nothing can prepare her for the outrageous reality of her existence…and nothing can save her from her fate.
I should have blogged about this sooner, but it did go out in my newsletter recently for those that follow it. It is T Minus 16 Hours and 54 Minutes until the Humble Book Bundle The Reaper's Daughter is currently a part of is over. For those that don't know what this is, you can "pay what you want" or donate to a charity of your choice to unlock the first tier of books, which is definitely a bundle. Following that, there are two more tiers that you can unlock by paying an average and you get so much value.
So for those of you who like thrillers, sci-fi, dystopian, and a few books that are lighter with paranormal themes (like mine), you'll want to check it out before the deal is done.
Also, don't miss the latest podcast where I wax poetic about magic in the wind, bad ass heroines, and life in general with author Jayme Beddingfield on her podcast, Too Many Words. She's a cool chica, for sure.
I've always been a voracious reader. I would sit at the dinner table and read as a teenager, lay in bed all day just to read a book, stay up all night so I could finish one. Of course, becoming a mother almost five wonderful years ago slowed how many books I put away a month, which is normal. But then I began to focus on getting published, and then I began to edit books and got so busy working on books I was no longer merely reading for pleasure. Reading for me is an escape, so without that regular outlet I've felt a bit sad, missing the reading me. With the turn of the new year I vowed to return to myself, and it feels like I'm making up for lost time, because I can't stop discovering all that is new, all that I've missed.
As a commitment to never lose that part of myself again, which is essential to my writing self, I'm going to feature the occasional book review from mine and my sister's book review blog, Cellar Lit Rants & Reviews. I'll be featuring a regular Indie title and a traditionally published title that I've enjoyed. This week for my mainstream, I'm going to feature Cinder my Marissa Meyer, because it's brilliant.
* * *
For the last year or so I’ve been hearing people rave about Marissa Meyer and her Lunar Chronicles series. I’m going to admit, I may have been snobby. I just couldn’t imagine cyborgs and Cinderella. As a twister of fairytales myself, I just wasn’t that interested. And then I decided, what the hell, I should just see what the hub-bub is all about. Last weekend I finishedCinder, the first in the series, and I’ve been checking my Amazon tracking ever since. Because I NEED Scarlet (It came today, FYI, just in case you were worried for my sanity). This will probably be the most informal review you’ve ever read from me because I’m fan-girling. Yes, it’s true. I’m a fan … woman.
Cinder is an example of everything done brilliantly in a retelling. It’s not only wholly unique in the twist, it’s fascinating because you actually don’t know what’s going to come next. Cinder is a young woman/cyborg, living in plague-ridden New Beijing, who has earned herself a reputation for being a first-rate mechanic. At the beginning of the story, she’s just saved enough to replace her “foot” so that she can hide the robot parts of herself and pass as human, which comes in handy when the prince comes calling and asks her to fix his favorite droid.
Hated by her “stepmother” and yet beloved by her youngest stepsister, Cinder soon finds herself embroiled in the search for a cure for a plague, which has been sweeping the world. Meanwhile, the Earth world is embroiled in a treaty talk with the Lunar people, who would bring war if New Beijing’s prince doesn’t agree to marry the Lunar queen.
I could go on about this carefully and creatively woven plot, but I won’t go down that road too much more because fantasy and fairytale lovers should just read this. Even though I actually guessed pretty early on an important component of the story, it in no way detracted from my utter and complete enjoyment of this fairytale, romance, dystopian novel. Cinderella as a cyborg now equals BRILLIANCE.
Note: This review was cross-posted from Cellar Door Lit Rants & Reviews.
So I'm bummed that I missed out on the chance to post on National Tell A Fairytale Day last week. I actually didn't know such a day existed, but now that I do you can bet I won't forget it next year. To make up for my lapse, I'm still going to post a fairytale of sorts here. The story is called The Golden Fiddle, and it's a story within a story because it actually comes from my epic fantasy novel, Fractured Dream, but it also stands on its own. I hope you enjoy!
* * *
The Golden Fiddle