In the interest of transparency

CONTENT WARNING mention of panic attacks, abuse of autistics, mention of email harassment, ableist language as a self-label

I reviewed a harmful book by an autistic martyr parent. It’s gone viral, so you may have heard.

Here is the review, here is the twitter thread.

When this page came across my feed, the author claiming that the book itself proves she didn’t abuse her son, I was motivated, out of stupidity I guess, to reach out through her comment section to let her know I HAD read the whole book and found it even more horrifying than the WaPo article.

She emailed me, implying that I had obtained the book illegally.

In the interest of transparency, and honesty, I’m sharing all of the text I have sent to this woman, and her husband.

These are my words, so I’m allowed to share them. I would DEARLY love to share the emails both she and her husband have since sent to me, because oh my dear gods they have me in tears and a panic attack. Both last night, and again this morning.

Suffice to say that they implied I’d gotten the book illegally, that I didn’t actually read the book, that I should REREAD that travesty, that I said I knew their son better than they did.

Then I just got one from the husband claiming that *I* a confirmed autistic am OBVIOUSLY not autistic, that I am probably a Russian internet troll bent on hurting good people like them.

So. Before I go close myself in the bathroom and rock myself calm. Here is the text I sent via the author’s contact section on her website.


What I sent to Ellenby via her contact form on her website in response to her defense of the WaPo article.

Oh? I’ve read the whole book now. Your book paints you as JUST as abusive if not worse than that article described. There were times in the book that you admitted to wanting to give your son a tranquilizer, which you had on HAND to go to a birthday party.

You really need to pull that book. It’s not out yet, so you still have a chance to repair this damage before it’s totally done. It’s harmful to the autistic community and it’s incredibly harmful to your son.

People, autistic people are already reading it and being harmed by it. I’m one of them.

Parents of autistic kids are going to read it and think that’s the best way to do things!! It’s not. It’s not even CLOSE.

Please rethink the massive amount of damage you can and are doing.

You’re wrong. You are VERY wrong.

These kinds of books need to be stopped.

You said you didn’t want to write another autism parenting book, you failed so hard on that. The only thing you did better? Was to insult autistics and provide graphic accounts of abuse of the disabled.

I wish you the best of luck, I think you’re actually a rather talented author if you actually wrote something you knew anything about. You so obviously DO NOT understand autism. Not if you could write those things. You just don’t.

By the way? You read as autistic to me. Female autistics don’t show the same signs, and we’re JUST as common as male autistics. The data and research is badly skewed.

You and I aren’t far apart in age, you wouldn’t have been diagnosed at a young age any more than I was.

Please… Please pull the book. You’re doing untold amounts of harm.

I don’t want contact with you, after reading that book I don’t much like you. But I think you need to know that people HAVE read the book, and they feel JUST the same as after reading that article.

That book HURTS people. Autistic people, like your son. Like me. Like my children, like many of my friends.

It’s not going to get better.


And here is the text of the email I stupidly responded to her with. My only defense is that it riled me to have it implied that I illegally obtained a book when I got it from NetGalley and the publisher.

If someone knows if I’m legally allowed to share the text of the emails they sent me, please let me know.


With as much grace as I’m capable of showing to someone who would hurt a child as much as you have, let me explain some things as politely as I possibly can.
I received a copy of your book from NetGalley and your publicity firm. I requested it after seeing that bloody horrible article in WaPo. I’m autistic, and the mother of autistics, and I am SO SICK of autism parents writing like they have a clue about what they’re talking about, because honestly, most of you don’t. I review books like yours, HOPING one of you is going to prove me wrong. I mean, I actively HOPE one of you is a decent person. So far? None of you have been. I reviewed TO SIRI WITH LOVE and have been on Bustle and in the NY Observer because of my work on it. I imagine my words will be picked up about this book too, I’d be very surprised if they weren’t. I’m a reasonably well known autistic advocate in online circles.
I’ll attach a screenshot of the letter from your publicity group at the end of this email, since you seem to be implying I didn’t come by the book legitimately.
Look, I get it that you’re a new author. I’m not. I work in publishing, the way this works is that ARCs (Advanced Readers Copies) are put out from the publisher around a month in advance, Netgalley and Edelweiss are the most common places to ask for a copy. We reviewers can also email the publisher to ask for a copy of the book. The idea is to drum up publicity for the book, in hopes that the reviews will be positive. The deal is that we reviewers provide an HONEST review, which frankly you aren’t going to like because it’s not favorable, in exchange for a free copy of the book.
Now, using your own methods… (Note, she numbered her demands that I provide quotes from her own book, I don’t know why, to prove I’d actually read it maybe?)
1) Do not talk down to me, I’m autistic, I’m not stupid.
2) I’m not wading through that filth you call a book again to get you exact quotes. It’s bad enough I actually read the whole thing once, I will certainly never reread it. And if you doubt I did? I invite you to take a look at my live-tweeting of it. https://twitter.com/KaelanRhy/status/969089091051569152 I’ve quoted you there. A lot. Properly, as I am actually allowed to quote words from books as long as I source the book/author. I’ve also given my educated, and sometimes salty opinion of what I thought of your words. Since you seem to need a reminder of the words YOU actually wrote… It was right before the birthday party, you said something along the lines of seriously considering giving Zack a sliver of tranquilizer before the party. You said you’d given it to him several times before and it had relaxed him.
3) I have no issue with autistics using anti-anxieties, nor allistics for that matter. If the doc prescribed them to Zack, then maybe he needed them. I don’t honestly know, nor do I really care. How you can possibly think I’m insulting my own people by being upset that you threatened to drug your son into compliance for a birthday party is beyond me. Honestly, that’s how it read. It really did. I’m not the only person to have thought so. There are currently at least two other autistics I know of reading and tweeting, unfavorably, about your book.
4) As far as intent goes, isn’t there something you lawyers love to say? Something to do with mens rea? I’m a historian and a teacher, not a lawyer. Intent does not equal result. The intent behind your book may have been good. I don’t know you, & don’t really want to. The result is OVERWHELMINGLY that you ARE hurting autistic people. You have hurt me. I’ve been crying, off and on for two days as I read that damned book. I’m still awake at 2 am my time, often glancing in at my children, who are both autistic, and wondering how the hell someone like you could publish those cruel and often nasty things about a child like them.
Honestly, how could you? How? Do you not see what those words will DO to your children when they read that book? If you don’t? I could tell you, but I highly doubt, from the tone of your message that you’re even close to listening to someone you deem as less intelligent and less worthy than you.
5) Stop with the PFL please. Autistics, by and large, HATE IT. It demeans us. If you knew ANYTHING about autism, you’d know that. Same as you’d know the bloody difference between a meltdown and a tantrum. They aren’t the same thing. Do you have any idea what a vibrant community we have online? I doubt it.
6) I still can’t believe, even if you don’t accept that your book will and already has harmed autistic people, that you CAN’T see how much those words will harm your son. I don’t understand that.
7) A thorough reading (she said that a thorough and accurate reading of her book would prove her point, as if I *hadn’t* done so) of your book made me throw up. It made me almost meltdown, that a person like you could be at all involved with autistic people, and are likely autistic yourself… it sends chills up my spine and makes me physically ill. It really does. I have no idea the sheer amount of harm you are doing with your ambassador’s group, and because you so badly misunderstand autism? You don’t either. I think it’s a great idea, but do you employ autistic people to help you? Do you know that our rates of unemployment are around 85% regardless of how well educated we are? Do you have any idea how close to poverty most of us live? Do you care?
8) An accurate reading of your book makes it quite clear that you hate your son and prefer your daughter. It makes it QUITE clear that you do not understand autism. For gods sake, you use PFL, refer to meltdowns as tantrums and quote crap from freaking auti$m $peaks. You seem to only understand the lies that Auti$m $peaks spouts, and people like Suskind. Do you realize that almost everyone in the autistic community thinks he’s a joke, or a fraud? There are some few allistic people who write about us that we like. It’s because they listen. He is not one of them. You will not be either if you go on to publish this book.
9) Do not besmirch my honesty or integrity. If I say I’ve read your book? I have. From page one to the very last page.
10) You can’t control how people will view your book, how they will read it, and you saying you’re sorry for how it affected me while at the same time telling me I misunderstood it smacks of so much arrogance. You really won’t get far in publishing, at least with the author side of things, with that attitude. The autistic community is HUGE online, especially on Twitter. Telling us we’re wrong for our very valid interpretation and feelings about your book? It’s really not a good look. You not being able to control how people will view your words is the risk you take as an author. I believe your intent was good, but your result failed. Badly.
11) I’m not usually the type to talk to the authors I review, I’m not even sure why I did or am. Perhaps I’m truly hoping you’ll listen and pull the book before it causes even more damage. Right this second I have autistics telling me they’re having panic attacks and flashbacks to their own abuse, just by reading my quoted words. They haven’t even read some of the worst stuff in the book! I have. THAT is the kind of harm I’m talking about. If you read my tweet threads, read the comments replying to it too.
12) Yes, you do make it clear that your harmful methods, which are absolutely abusive, are your idea alone and against medical advice. But the fact that you make it seem like they worked completely for Zack (you do realize that later in life he’s likely to suffer MASSIVE ptsd from that, right? MANY of us do) are going to have a clear result. What exactly do you think desperate parents who don’t understand autism, who believe it’s a horrible, disfiguring disability that truncates families and reduces enjoyment of life… all of the very nasty things you said in your book… what do you think they’re going to DO when they read that? They’re going to torture their kids in just the same way you tortured yours. And the outcome won’t always be as positive. So it worked for Zack. I’m happy for you both, there are OTHER better methods that your book doesn’t even mention. Those desperate families are going to harm their kids, and it WILL be your fault. It may not be legally anything to do with you, but morally? It’s on you. You can’t escape that. I think that’s probably why I said something because the book doesn’t pub for another month or so. You DO still have time to undo this. We, as authors, have a deep and abiding moral responsibility to make sure our words don’t harm anyone or cause someone to harm others. If it’s pointed out to us that they do? The right answer is to apologize and repair, if you can, the harm you’ve done. Period. I take my responsibility as an author of touchy subjects VERY seriously. It’s totally up to you how you take yours.
13) You definitely implied, if not outright claimed, that you’re an expert on Autism several times throughout your book, and no, I’m not wading through it again to find the quotations. I’m sure you’ve got a copy of it, you can do a word search yourself. You claimed to be a scientist once too. Also…did you NOT write your bio for Amazon? We authors usually provide the text for those. Here… let me cut and paste it below to make it absolutely clear that I’ve actually read it. Since you doubt my honesty so much.
Of course, you have a right to speak for yourself and share your story and your viewpoint. You also have the right and responsibility to bear the burden of the resulting harm. I just wanted you to know how very harmful I and many in the autistic community ALREADY find your book. Once it publishes? You have no control anymore. And you very likely WILL be taken to the cleaners. Diversity advocates on Twitter are ALREADY calling for it to be boycotted.
Then again, books like yours get all sorts of accolades and it took me forever to find a decent publisher for my work. I doubt that washington post will even bother to print my review or what I’ll write up to send to them about your book. I don’t have connections you see, and I’m autistic. I’m out and proud about that, so to most people, my opinion doesn’t matter. Because I’m stupid.
Books like yours don’t help that, you know.
As an aside, I can’t believe that you’re an author and not on Twitter. I really can’t believe it. The writing community on there is almost as rich and varied as the autistic one.
Now. I’m tired, I’m still hurting beyond belief at reading your book, and I’m going to try to go to sleep. I very STRONGLY urge you to pull this book. You have no idea the amount of pain you’ve already caused. I’ve pasted the promised proof below.
I think it’s best we don’t speak again.
Kaelan

Pasted bio from Amazon, I bolded the parts where it claims she’s an expert.

About the Author

Whitney Ellenby is a former US Department of Justice, Disability Rights attorney whose writings have been published in The Washington Post, a law review periodical, and the U.S. DOJ website. She is the author of “Divinity vs. Discrimination: Curtailing the Divine Reach of Church Authority,” Golden Gate University Law Review (1996)), as well as an amicus brief on behalf of the U.S. DOJ Disability Rights Division regarding discrimination against mobility-impaired individuals in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She is the proud parent of a son with Autism and founder of “Autism Ambassadors,” a charitable venture through which she runs exclusive recreational events for over 600 families impacted by Autism in the Washington, DC/Maryland area, including a Sensory-Friendly showing of the world-famous “Gazillion Bubbles Show.” She is an expert on Autism and has testified before the Maryland Senate on disability-related issues, is a member of the Developmental Disabilities Advisory Council for Montgomery County, MD and serves on the University of Maryland Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Board. Whitney’s expertise is steeped in her extensive disability law background, personal experience with her own son, and over 10 years of serving children, teens and adults with Autism of all ages through her “Autism Ambassador” events. Her monthly “Ambassador events” have been featured in local t.v. news, The Washington Post, Bethesda Magazine, and The Bethesda Gazette. Whitney was most recently honored with an “Autism Awareness Proclamation” and “Community Leader” award for her advocacy and dedication to the disability community of Maryland. She has what she describes as a “healthy obsession” with all things Autism.

I then pasted a screenshot of the email I received from her publicity firm. I can’t seem to figure out, as shaken as I am, how to paste that here. I shared it with her to prove where I’d gotten her book, since she made it seem in her email that she highly doubted I’d received a legitimate copy or even read it.
I woke up this morning to a letter in my email from her husband, of all people. He was defending his wife, telling me the book was beautiful and defending their treatment of their son. This is the text I sent back to him.

The very fact that you use functioning labels means you have very little idea of what it means to be autistic. And as far as I and many other autistics are concerned? Have no business working with us. I never said that I knew Zack, in fact, I said that I didn’t. I don’t want to know any of you. I certainly do not want to see any of your names in my inbox again.
Assuming that because I type well and communicate well with words on a screen means that I cope well with all aspects of life in an allistic world again proves that you have no idea what it means to be autistic.
Was I condescending? Possibly, it wasn’t my intent, any more than it was your or your wife’s intent to harm, what, at this point, is thousands of autistics. It will be more when that book comes out. She implied that I may have gotten the book illegally. I tried, in my very blunt, autistic way, to explain how this business works.
Were your actions and inactions abusive to your son? They certainly read that way. Not just to me, but to the thousands of other autistics who have read my review threads, to obviously, given the defensive tone on your wife’s website MANY people who read the WaPo article as well. Your intent and your love for him does not matter. It really doesn’t. ACTION is what matters, and those ACTIONS were abusive. ABA itself is deplored as being abusive, most autistics wouldn’t use it on a dog, you know. In fact, if those methods themselves were used on dogs, the person doing them would be reported to animal control.
If Zack is around 16? He won’t be showing PTSD from that yet. We usually don’t because we internalize it. It usually hits sometime in our 20s or 30s. ABA alone causes it, the rest of the things you guys did to your son? Regardless of your intent? It will only exacerbate it.
In fact, ABA breaks child labor laws, but because it’s ‘therapy’ it’s okay.
Your wife’s ‘beautiful’ book is going to harm so many more autistic kids. Desperate parents are going to do EXACTLY as I said they will, because you two put yourselves forward as being an authority on autism. Legally, it’ll have nothing to do with you, because you’ve both CYAd. Morally? That harm is on you both.
Good luck. Do not contact me again. Seeing either of your names in my inbox sends me into a panic attack. I only reached out in what is so very obviously a vain attempt at trying to halt this train wreck before it harms more autistic people because I care about people like me.
And I’m so sick of people like you hurting us. I have autistic kids who have to live in this screwed up world, and people like you, who claim that books like that are beautiful, and good, and needed? You make it worse.
Goodbye.

There’s been another letter from him, claiming that I’m a troll and not-autistic (I knew that was coming, said so in my thread) but I’m actually smart enough not to respond to that.
I am a shaken, panic-stricken mess right now. I’m crying, and I HATE to cry.
Authors? DO NOT RESPOND TO REVIEWERS.
Reviewers? Be smarter than me and don’t try to reach out to authors to stop their harm. I’m an authenticity reader for autism and… I thought maybe she’d listen. Mea culpa.

 

Research as a writer

So. Research, we all know we need to do it, right?

I mean… we DO know we need to do some, when we’re writing, right?

Nope. We all really don’t seem to know this.

I read a book this past weekend that was a historical and it was very, very obvious that a lot (or maybe any) research hadn’t been conducted.

The story premise was good, but it lacked the depth that research could have given it.

I honestly can’t think of any genre of writing that you can get away with NOT doing research for. Picture books, maybe? But I did a ton of research for my Ace Shark picture book, so maybe not even that?

Some genres are heavier on research than others, I do the MOST research for Historical and Science Fantasy, but even for my paranormal titles, I still do a ton of research.

For my Ilavani series, I did so much research into genetic modification, quantum physics and historical power structures including the history and structures of indentured service that I could probably write at least a master’s level thesis on any of those subjects.

For my upcoming Bloodbound from NineStar Press I did massive amounts of research into the Mabinogian, Welsh Folklore, and supernatural critters.

Now. How do I do research?

It varies? That’s as helpful as mud, isn’t it?

So. I have a couple degrees in research related stuff. So I know how to do high-brow research.

But honestly? I start with Wikipedia.

Not so much for the articles, though some of them are surprisingly good, but for the links leading out from the articles.

Even if you JUST read the Wikipedia articles about the subjects you’re writing about, it’s probably enough for a lot of mainstream fiction.

But you can also find pages like this one (here on my site) where I add interesting links that I’ve found while I’m doing research for my books.

You can follow the links from Wikipedia to find further information. You can google search a specific topic (most of the links on my resources page were found doing one of those two things).

If it’s a topic? There is someone who geeks out about it. Find the geeks talking about it and listen to them. Many of them are very interested in consulting (waves at the lovely people helping me with long-range sniper rifles right now) in order to get the info RIGHT in books.

Cause getting it right kind of matters. Very little will throw me out of a story faster than a fact that I know to be untrue.

Because then I have to go look it up to remind myself that it is, in fact, untrue.

If I find it’s not factual, I will very likely never pick the book up again. Not everyone is as fussy as I am about things being authentic, but I very much am.

Why should I waste my valuable time in reading your words if you didn’t waste YOUR time looking up the information to get it freaking right?

I also use TV Tropes a lot (I spent probably weeks on this site while I was developing the world for the Ace Assassin World. (Bloodbound April 30th, 2018, and OMG that’s getting close!)

Just type in what you want to know about in the search bar and browse to your heart’s content. You’ll likely be surprised at all the questions you didn’t know you didn’t know to ask that you suddenly have when you do that.

Fair warning, it’s a HUGE rabbit hole. You could get lost. Take some carrots as a snack.

Where can you find the geeks? Internet. Most of us have blogs where we obsess about our interests. For those of us who don’t have blogs, we go to group meetings about the topic that we love.

IE: Beekeeping, look for a local beekeepers/apiarists association. They are in most towns, but it’s one of those things you probably have to go looking for to find.

Same with Blacksmithing, or genealogy, or spinning, or weaving, or, or, or, or…

Twitter is a fantastic resource cause many of us geeks do threads about topics we’d like people to get right.

If it’s a historical topic, you could look for historical reenactment groups. They exist for most areas of history, and trust me, you’ll find history geeks there.

Libraries are a fantastic resource if you can get to one. Librarians will often help you find books about any subject you need because that’s what they both love and get paid to do.

So. There is my two cents on research.

 

 

 

 

A reaction to The Last Jedi, from a die hard SW fan who hated Rogue One.

TL;DR is…

I fucking loved it so hard. You hate Frumplestiltskin, the GOP, and maybe even rich peeps?

See it, IN THEATRE.

Spoiler free review.

I’m not going to go into detail. I don’t usually review movies, I bitch about or laud them on twitter instead.

I reviewed Rogue One, but only cause I loathed it with every fiber of my being.

S’okay, you can disagree with me and I can judge your taste until the end-point of my being.

Lolz, we can still be friends. You’ll just get a side-eye from me about the movie, is all. (Seriously, my best friend completely adores it, we just look at each other weird about it.)

That review can be found here. I wasn’t kind, or nice, the movie was shite.

I’m someone who grew up on these movies, (I’m old, seriously, these movies were my childhood, I’m utterly unreasonable about them. I don’t CARE).

There’s a format to them.

You can scoff all you want at me but I’m actually an editor in real life, like, it’s my JOB to do this stuff.

Rogue one failed on pretty much every aspect except that it was sorta… not really… not even close… to being Star Wars Shaped.

It failed the format, it failed the canon, it failed everything, including the fucking romance.

Blech.

I’m thinking of torturing myself through it again, since it’s on netflix, to see if it was REALLY as bad as I thought. Preeeeety sure it was.

I’m a masochist. Don’t sue me, I’m broke.

The Last Jedi? I was actually terrified to go see it, because R1 made me hate Star Wars. People who LOVED R1 kinda made me look at the fandom in a WTAF sorta way.

Shrugs.

I had edits for The Last Jedi, if you know me AT ALL you know I’ve got edits on EVERYTHING. Including life.

The Last Jedi didn’t disappoint. I loved it. I loved every aspect of it.

I cried, I sobbed. I just. THAT IS STAR WARS!!!

THAT is what people who kept saying in 2016 that R1 ‘was the movie they needed to see’ (with regards to the resistance and a message of hope and the election and gahhhh)… nope.

No.

The Last Jedi carried that message, and then some.

Choice, Action, Consequences, Results, Lives lived on the edge, Heroic Sacrifice, Balance between light/dark, Space Battles, HOPE AGAINST THE DARK.

Yeah. THAT is Star Wars.

Also, I really want a Vulptex, (crystal fox) ridden by a Porg, followed by a Fathier, cause OMFG SQUEEEEEEE!

Okay. Stopping now. So I don’t spoil it. I loved it. It brought Star Wars back to me.

And after the godsfucked year a queer, autistic, mixed-race, pagan, expat American has had in 2017?

I needed THAT movie.

Go on now.

See it.

 

 

 

New Book Review: WALKING ON WATER by Matthew J. Metzger

LGBTQIA+, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling (Little Mermaid)

WalkingonWater-f

BLURB

When a cloud falls to earth, Calla sets out to find what lies beyond the sky. Father says there’s nothing, but Calla knows better. Something killed that cloud; someone brought it down.

Raised on legends of fabled skymen, Calla never expected them to be real, much less save one from drowning—and lose her heart to him. Who are the men who walk on water? And how can such strange creatures be so beautiful?

Infatuated and intrigued, Calla rises out of her world in pursuit of a skyman who doesn’t even speak her language. Above the waves lies more than princes and politics. Above the sky awaits the discovery of who Calla was always meant to be. But what if it also means never going home again?

REVIEW

Read it. Hie thee hence to a place to buy this book (ideally the publisher) and READ IT NOW.

I’m picky AF about books, those that I give an unreserved five-star score to and want to leap up and down on the top of a building for? Yeah. They’re GOOD.

I’d like to say I’m without words at how wonderful this book is, but it’s honestly just that I have SO MANY positive words about it that I’m having trouble expressing myself.

This book wrecked me in all the best ways possible.

It made me curse the author, it made me so flipping MAD, I cried, sniffly sort of crying and the ugly sobbing sort of crying. I laughed, snickered, and snorted a few times too, and at the end? I hugged my tablet to my chest and I’ve been walking around with the goofiest grin on my face since.

I loved it so much.

Even if reading it did make me forget to eat two meals and I forgot to drink my tea.

It gave me many things I didn’t know I needed to see on-page until I read them.

Trans rep– there is a whole chapter about one of the MCs that so clearly echoes exactly how I feel about my physical form some days that I cried to read it. I needed that. I needed a happy ever after kind of story for a trans person who had to choose not to be in contact with their family because of not being loved for who I am. I needed this book so very much and I didn’t know HOW MUCH I needed it until I read it.

Ace rep– I’m a sex-positive ace, but it’s rare as hen’s teeth to find ace rep of any kind, (thank goodness this is changing) and seeing the way the author deals with a sex-repulsed ace was still healing to me because she was there, on page, and her needs were respected and met. (There IS sex in this book, on page, erotic sex, but it’s not for the ace side character.)

Pain rep/cane use– I have chronic pain and use a cane and the way pain is handled in this book is so accurate, it’s perfect. (It’s pain from an injury, but the way the MC deals with it is true to my experience.)

Fat positivity Fat characters are also spoken of in a positive light. I liked that too.

Bisexual representation!– On page bisexual representation. Bisexual GUY on page rep and the story isn’t ABOUT being bi, they just are. Love to see that.

World building- Very gritty, realistic historical fantasy type world building.

The story itself and the author’s voice is enveloping, powerful, beautiful, and lyrical.

I especially enjoyed the unique descriptive qualities to the characters, unusual choices of words can be so lovely if used well.

In dual PoV books, it can be hard to nail the two different character voices, the author nailed it in this one. I loved the very different feeling to each of the two PoV MCs, side characters were as well developed and written as the MCs.

I want more books out in the world like this and I want it now.

Content warning on graphic battle scenes, graphic shape change scenes. (I loved them, but I love gore in book/movies.)

Content warning on a (very few, I wasn’t counting, but like three, I think) usages of ableist language for self-labeling.

SCORES

Readability: 5 of 5 star-1586412_1920 Though I pre-ordered this book, I waited to read it until I knew I’d have time to finish in one sitting. I’d heard it was really good, and I know what I’m like with a good book. I wasn’t wrong, life pulled me away the first two times I tried to read this (over the past two days) but I managed to read from about chapter 3 to the end today and OMG. What a freaking amazing ride. This is not the kind of book that you’ll be able to read just a chapter a night, it’s just that great.

Arcs: 5 of 5 star-1586412_1920 It’s a little mermaid retelling, so I knew sort of what would happen, the author stuck true to the tale as far as the details, but brought a completely unique and fresh perspective to it. The tension leading up to the first turning point and then again to the climax were so masterfully done that my heart was in my throat in both places. The climax itself had me cussing out the author. SERIOUSLY. YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO BREAK MY HEART. But I’m glad you did, cause you sewed it up again, better.

Craft: 5 of 5 star-1586412_1920  I need more stars for rating Ninestarpress’s books. I caught ONE typo, that’s it. I would’ve liked to see a little less passive voice, but there were really only maybe four sentences I caught it in that could’ve been more strongly worded (and as y’all know, passive voice is my Achilles heel in reading (writing too) so I have an unreasoning hatred for it. Four sentences of passive voice is far and away better than anything big 5 is putting out these days (barring some few authors who I will sell a kidney to buy their work if needed). This book is excellent, and it’s one I’m so happy I bought and own cause it’s definitely going to go into the re-read often pile. I might even buy a second bound-copy, because I want one.

Go on now, I wouldn’t steer you wrong, go buy the thing!

Remember if you buy directly from the publisher, the pub and author both get more money so the can keep bringing you more books.

Ninestar Press 

Amazon

Don’t forget to review! Reviews sell books for authors. 🙂

Add it to your TBR on Goodreads here.

As an extra, Matthew was kind enough to give me a character interview for one of my favorite side characters, Doktor Karl Hauser, you can read that here.

 

Ghost Writers

I think I need to get back to writing, I’ve blogged more this past week than in a while. It’s usually a sign that I need to be working on a book.

IN any case, what I want to talk about is ghostwriting.

So, if you go to Upwork, you can see all sorts of advertisements for ghostwriting. I’ve even made a small amount of money, once or twice, ghostwriting short pieces.

Screenshot 2017-09-27 14.26.47

I stopped because it felt so unethical.

I mean, people who are buying words/books… if it’s for a big name… they’re buying THAT PERSON’S words and stories. They want that author’s voice! Or at least I do.

I’m a mimic, I can mimic most writer’s voices in any genre I write in pretty closely, especially if I’ve read them before.

And I’m an editor, author and autistic.

I CAN BLOODY TELL WHEN IT’S A GHOSTWRITER!!

Please, for the love of the very little money I have to spend on books, don’t do this to me.

I get it, maybe most people aren’t going to be able to tell the difference, but *I* can and I’m not the only one by far.

The big5 pubbed book I preordered because it’s one of my favorite authors hit my kindle yesterday and I was excited to read it. I love this character and I love the world the author has created.

I do not love this book, and I have not yet found a book by this author I hated, nor even disliked.

I love this authors work (or whichever ghostwriter she’s had working for her for a while now). I love the worlds, characters, and stories.

I do NOT love what this new ghostwriter is doing with them.

There is something missing from this authors words that I’ve never seen in the name before.

I’m not a big name in publishing, I’m an outsider, probably always will be, so I don’t actually know how often a big name author hires a ghost writer.

Often enough I’d think. In the past year, two big names that I usually read have felt extremely off when I was reading the books.

I may keep a running list of things I’ve never seen this particular author do in her work, just to keep it straight in my head and to use as supporting examples for this post.

Things I’ve NEVER seen this author do in any of her 30 some books I’ve read that I’ve seen MORE THAN ONCE in this one.

Racial slurs

Description of her black character as ‘sun-bronzed’

Geek slurs

Extreme heavy handedness on reconciliation of ‘happy families’ (one of the reasons I’ve loved this author is that she DOESN’T do that.)

She’s also a WoC so I’ve trusted her to get the descriptions of her mixed race characters done in a sensitive way. This book? It’s so white I can’t even.

Graphic words (I don’t mind graphic words, but this author doesn’t have a history of using them).

… and there is just something missing from this book that the previous ones had.

It’s very unhappy making.

I suppose I could be wrong, that it could just be the author trying something new, but I sincerely doubt it.

So much so that I’m not buying the next book.

And I loved this author.

Look, I get it. We writers/authors are in a dog-eat-dog world, but this particular ghost writer just lost my custom for this author.

It’s close, but it’s nowhere near close enough.

As far as those of us who do the ghostwriting? I get that too, we’re most of us hand to mouth, but no.

Just say no. Please.

New Book Review: ASSASSIN’S FATE by Robin Hobb

Dark Adult Fantasy

Assassin's Fate.jpg

BLURB

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The stunning conclusion to Robin Hobb’s Fitz and the Fool trilogy, which began with Fool’s Assassin and Fool’s Quest

“Every new Robin Hobb novel is a cause for celebration. Along with millions of her other fans, I delight in every visit to the Six Duchies, the Rain Wilds, and the Out Islands, and can’t wait to see where she’ll take me next.”—George R. R. Martin 

More than twenty years ago, the first epic fantasy novel featuring FitzChivalry Farseer and his mysterious, often maddening friend the Fool struck like a bolt of brilliant lightning. Now New York Times bestselling author Robin Hobb brings to a momentous close the third trilogy featuring these beloved characters in a novel of unsurpassed artistry that is sure to endure as one of the great masterworks of the genre.

Fitz’s young daughter, Bee, has been kidnapped by the Servants, a secret society whose members not only dream of possible futures but use their prophecies to add to their wealth and influence. Bee plays a crucial part in these dreams—but just what part remains uncertain.

As Bee is dragged by her sadistic captors across half the world, Fitz and the Fool, believing her dead, embark on a mission of revenge that will take them to the distant island where the Servants reside—a place the Fool once called home and later called prison. It was a hell the Fool escaped, maimed and blinded, swearing never to return.

For all his injuries, however, the Fool is not as helpless as he seems. He is a dreamer too, able to shape the future. And though Fitz is no longer the peerless assassin of his youth, he remains a man to be reckoned with—deadly with blades and poison, and adept in Farseer magic. And their goal is simple: to make sure not a single Servant survives their scourge.


REVIEW

First, I’ve been reading this series since not long after it first came out. Fantasy has always been my first and most enduring love. You do have to read the series to understand this book.

The blurb calls this a stunning conclusion to the series.

It’s right.

Robin Hobb is one of the very few (Less than five now) established authors I still auto-buy. Price of books and my anemic book buying cash and all. But I always buy the books about Fitz.

I bought this one release week and I’ll be completely honest, I had trouble getting into it. Passive voice. It’s my Achilles heel in reading and it will always throw me out of the story. So when I first picked up this story, hoping to escape, it irritated me enough to put it down when I caught several instances of passive voice in the first few pages.

I’m glad I finally got around to picking it back up again.

Man, when it finally grabbed me by the throat it pinned me down and held me almost unable to breathe for an entire weekend.

By that I mean I got NONE of my chores done, my hubs brought me dinner because I kept forgetting to eat and I forgot to make coffee one day because I was SO ENTHRALLED by the story. COFFEE people, I forgot COFFEE!

Now. I read fast, but this book is almost 900 pages long, I started it late at night on Friday and just finished it. A little before midnight on Sunday.

I didn’t do much of ANYTHING except read all weekend because I had to know what happened to Fitz and Beloved.

Had to.

It’s really good. I cried. A lot. Ugly, messy, cry, and I’m still content with how the story ended. I wish it hadn’t HAD to, because these were the only characters by this author that I connect with, but it’s still a fantastic conclusion. Even though my heart aches.

I’ll miss these characters, miss looking forward to new books with them. Badly. Sadly, Bee doesn’t do it for me as a character.

Somehow, I had also missed that Beloved is gender-fluid throughout the whole series, and though they aren’t named that way, it’s quite clear when I think about it. I suppose I could be coding it, but I really doubt it. Probably one of reasons I’ve loved these books, and reread them so many times for so many years.

I will say: Content Warning on a deliberate mis-gendering by Fitz for Beloved. That stung a bit to read. It worked for the characters, story, and world though, so it’s not a complaint. Just a warning.

SCORES

Readability: 5/5 star-1586412_1920 It’d be around 9 or 10 if I could rate that high on my system. I didn’t quite drop my tablet on my face, but that’s only because I’m trying to discipline myself into actually SLEEPING at night.

Arcs: 5/5 star-1586412_1920As I finished this last installment, I have to wonder if Ms. Hobb had this entire series planned from the get go. The series arcs, relationship arcs, and multiple trilogy arcs are so masterfully done. SO well done. It’s amazing. Truly.

Craft: 4/5: star-1586412_1920 I wish I could give it a full on five-star rating, but I did have trouble getting into it because of the passive voice. I found a couple of sections dragging and would’ve advised the author cut a few scenes to speed pacing. Still loved the book and the sheer scope of this story… it’s freaking phenomenal. Hobb carries well her laurels of being one of the best fantasists in the genre.

 

 

Work/Life balance as a writer/editor/publisher.

I want to say something snarky here, like… I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

But…

I’ll admit. It’s a struggle to find some sort of balance while being an author, an editor AND running a boutique publishing house.

I often feel like I need to work ALL the time.

It doesn’t help that this is my calling. Anyone with a calling will tell you it’s often harder to make yourself STOP working than it is to make yourself start.

I work far more than I should because I enjoy my work.

Whether it’s the act of writing, the act of reading potential books sent by hopeful authors, or whether it’s deciding how best to market stuff, I love it all. The only thing I don’t love is wrestling with contracts, but I feel like I’ve been given a gift to HAVE this wonderful calling. That of words.

As far as the balance part, that’s where it gets a bit murkier.

I try to stick to eight-hour workdays for the press/editing side of the business. It’s hard, especially when the book I’m reading for that aspect of my life is a good one.

I care, too, about the authors waiting to hear back from me on whether it’s a yes/no on the eternal question of do *I* love their book enough to publish it. I don’t like to make people wait too long. It bothers me. I’m picky, so I often don’t love the books enough. That’s because it’s a freaking nightmare to wrestle with the publishing process, and I only want to do it for books I LOVE.

I tend to read for pleasure only after I’ve written my daily word goal (if I’m drafting, if I’m in the editing phase for my own books after I’ve hit my daily editing goals).

I’m trying to read more for pleasure lately. I miss it terribly, but I find it incredibly hard to do of late because I haven’t quite figured out how to turn the ‘editor’ part of my brain off so that I can just read a story.

I mean, it has to be freaking amazing these days to suck me in and let me just read.

So, in a nutshell, I try to stick to a 9-5 schedule for the press, then switch to my own writing ’til I hit goal, then read for review/pleasure (pretty much only reading review books that ARE a pleasure to read these days, life is far too short to read books I don’t want to or that don’t catch me up).

Is it any wonder I have no idea who movies stars are and what TV shows are current? I live within the pages of books.

I’m happy there.