Thursday, 23 October 2014

THE OUTLANDERS Blog Tour: An Interview with Erin Rhew

Today I have the honour of welcoming back Erin Albert, author of the YA high fantasy THE PROPHECY from THE FULFILLMENT series. If you missed Erin’s first interview with me about THE PROPHECY, you can read it here. Erin is back today to discuss the sequel to THE PROPHECY – THE OUTLANDERS.

Hello again, Erin! Welcome back. What have you been up to since your last visit?
Well, I’ve been crazy busy since my last visit. I moved across the country—from the South to the Pacific Northwest. Upon arriving at the Pacific Northwest, I moved a second time and now live in a beautiful Victorian home. I also got engaged to Deek Rhew

And I got a job at BookFish Books. I started out as the line editor there, but I just recently became the social media director. So, my life has gone through quite a few major changes, but they’ve all been for the better!

Wow! That’s all so wonderful! Congratulations!! What can you tell us about THE OUTLANDERS?
The Outlanders picks up right where The Prophecy ended.  You’ll receive some answers to questions raised in Book 1: What happens to Wil and Vespa, who are the Outlanders, and what happened to Layla’s parents. But new questions will arise as well. ;)

Sounds intriguing! It’s been almost a year since THE PROPHECY was released. What are three things that you learnt or experienced this past year that you didn’t expect?
1) I can tell a big difference in my writing. I’m going back and working on The Fulfillment (the final book in the series), and I can really see how much I’ve evolved.
2) I didn’t realize how much time authors spend doing activities other than writing. There is so much marketing and promotion involved in getting people to actually read your book.
3) I didn’t realize I’d meet so many truly wonderful people. I’m very fortunate to have met all sorts of amazing friends throughout the writing and promoting process. 

All good things! What has been the most stressful part of this journey?
Balance. I’m not super great at balancing all the different elements of my life anyway. Then add in all the extras, and I’m like a chicken with its head cut off. LOL!

Haha, yes, balance is key to most things in life! But it can be tough to find. What has been the most fun?
The most fun has been interacting with readers, bloggers, and other authors. The writing community is just beyond wonderful!!

I wholeheartedly agree! You had already written this book and the third and final instalment of THE FULFILLMENT series before THE PROPHECY was published. Did fan reactions to THE PROPHECY make you want to change anything in THE OUTLANDERS and THE FULFILLMENT? If so, did you make any changes?
While fan reactions didn’t make me change things (though I did second-guess myself sometimes), I am in the process of making changes to the third book based on changes my editors and I made to the first two. The trickiest part of writing a fantasy trilogy is keeping everything consistent!!

Yes, that can be a challenge. Have any fan reactions to THE PROPHECY surprised you?
I think I was surprised by how much bigger “Team Nash” is than “Team Wil.” My Dream Team (my group of friends who were instrumental in helping me complete this novel) split right down the middle, so I assumed readers would do the same.

Okay so now I have to ask…Are you Team Nash or Team Wil?
You know I can’t answer that one! LOL! I will say I DO have preference between them… ;)

Haha. How has the reality from this past year differed from your expectations?
It hasn’t really. I knew books take a long time, sometimes years, to really get off the ground. So I came into this process with a “marathon” mentality. ;)

Ooo I like that. It’s always a good idea to have realistic expectations. If you could go back and speak to Erin from last year, Erin from before THE PROPHECY was published, what would you say to her? What advice would you give her, if any?
I would tell her to be bold. Chase her dreams and fight for what she wants because the result is even better than she could imagine!

I love that. It reminds me of one of my all-time favourite quotes… “Be BRAVE. FIGHT for what you believe in and make your DREAMS your REALITY.” Regular readers of my blog (or really anyone who has spent more than five minutes with me!) will know who said that little piece of awesomeness* Tehe. Have you been working on anything new?
I am currently editing The Fulfillment to prepare it for my editors. I’m also working on a futuristic thriller called Number 25589. Last year, I wrote a short story called “Volatile,” and lately, that one has been occupying a lot of my mental space. I think it wants to become a full novel! ;) Deek and I have also begun work on companion novels, loosely based on our love story.

Busy, busy, busy! Both the curse and the blessing of having a creative mind. Has your writing process changed now that you know what to expect when your book is accepted for publication? If so, how?
My writing process has changed a great deal. I now split my time between writing and marketing, so I get a lot less time to actually write. The move to the Pacific Northwest also changed my writing habits. I used to write consistently from 3-4 daily. But my life has changed such that I tend to write in the evenings. The catalysts for these changes are all positive, so I’m not complaining! ;)

Do you remember the moment you came up with the idea for THE FULFILLMENT series? Can you describe it to us?
One night, I was watching a movie, and the words “Vanguard” and “Etherea” popped into my mind. They were soon followed by the names “Layla,” “Wilhelm,” “Nash,” and “Samson.” From there, the story began to take shape in my mind. I wrote down my idea and emailed it to my friends to see if the story sounded like something they would read. They said, “YES!” I started writing right away. These same friends helped keep me on track and spurred me on to write more. They became my Dream Team.

I love that. I’m fascinated by the concept of an idea, because everything starts from just an idea. It’s really kind of incredible to look at how a person develops an idea and turns it into something tangible. Making reality from a dream. It’s sort of a minor miracle to me. If you had to describe OUTLANDERS in only three words, what would they be?
Complex, unexpected, and fast-paced

Three very good words! Thank you so much for stopping by again, Erin! THE OUTLANDERS is available NOW.

With King Jesper dead and Prince Wilhelm mortally wounded, Halfling prince, Nash, and the Fulfilment, Layla, assume the throne of Etherea. They must contend with a new Prophecy Candidate who asserts her position, and Layla is surprised to find her fate intertwined with this challenger. Facing a myriad of choices, Nash and Layla’s decisions affect not only their own futures but that of two kingdoms.
Unbeknownst to the Ethereals or the Vanguards, a slumbering menace stirs in the south, awakened after centuries of slumber. The mysterious Outlanders, a force shadowed in mystery, sit poised to tip the balance of power, sending ripples of fear throughout both warring kingdoms.
Elder Werrick proved a formidable foe, but Layla may yet meet her match in the monstrous Outlander queen. This mistress of the dark’s plans, rooted in revenge and ancient lore, now threaten the livelihood of all three kingdoms.
Racing against time, Layla travels to the Borderlands—home of the Voltons and Ecclesiastics—to discover as much as she can about the war, the First Ones, and the prophecy itself. Lives teeter in the balance, kingdoms sit on the cusp of ruin, and a beast, greater than any she’s ever faced before, plots a catastrophic attack.

Erin Rhew is an editor, a running coach, and the author of The Fulfillment Series. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police." A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin now lives in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest with the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) writer Deek Rhew and their “overly fluffy,” patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. She and Deek enjoy reading aloud to one another, running, lifting, boxing, eating chocolate, and writing side-by-side.
Find Erin Online:
Twitter: @ErinRhewBooks

Read on for an excerpt from Book Two of Erin Albert’s THE FULFILLMENT series: OUTLANDERS.

Everything about Mia felt wrong. The girl, who looked so much like Layla, just happened to be where Samson could find her and came with him to the home of her enemy without any resistance? Whole generations of Ecclesiastics searched for entire lifetimes and never found the Fulfillment, yet Samson encountered two potentials in short succession. She couldn’t pinpoint the reason for her unease, but something tickled the back of her mind, inching toward the surface with painstaking sluggishness.
“I don’t understand why she would just come with you to Etherea.” Layla struggled to keep her voice level and calm to avoid raising Samson’s hackles.
            “She didn’t have anywhere else to go. Vance killed her family in Vanguard.”
            Layla made a mental note to confirm Samson’s version of the story with the information Nash managed to extract from Mia. “If she’s a Vanguard, why would she come with you to Etherea?”
            “You came here,” Samson shot back, his inexplicable protectiveness for the mystery girl heightening her concern.
            She treaded with care. “Well, some insane man in a black and purple robe stole my brother, so I didn’t really have a choice.”
            Mia stared at the young man before her with a mixture of curiosity and weariness. She understood why others found him so handsome—rich, dark hair and those shocking green eyes. If she succeeded, he would be her…she stopped herself, determined to keep her mind clear. She had to give off an air of mystery, to lure the Ethereals into her web so they followed her plan. More than anything, she needed them to follow her plan, so much depended on it. She could not slip up. She could not make a mistake.
            Taking a steadying breath, she refocused her thoughts and slid her amethyst colored eyes across the prince in front her. She wouldn’t even think his name or give any indication she already knew about him. She had to forget how much she’d been told about him…how much she’d been told about them all. Feigning ignorance factored into her plan.
            “Who are you?” he asked, after spending an inordinate amount of time regarding her.
            She noted how his gaze bounced from her eyes to her hair and back again. As planned, her appearance intrigued him. Though he’d asked a different question, she heard the real one layered beneath it. He wanted to know why she resembled the proclaimed Fulfillment. That question would then lead him to an inevitable one…could Mia be the Fulfillment instead of Layla? And if she were the Fulfillment, what did that mean for him? For Wil? For Layla?
            “I’m Mia.” She almost grinned, pleased she’d answered his question but given him nothing more. When his lips twisted, her grin broke into a full smile at his evident irritation. “And you are?”
            He hesitated. “Nash, brother of the king.”
            “The injured king?” He flinched, a subtle movement most might miss, but she caught it.
            “According to our friend, Samson, you’re an Outlander.”
            “He found me in the Outlands.” The less Nash knew, the better.
            Frustration flickered across his face, marring his otherwise handsome features. She smiled to herself, not trusting his patience should her lips turn up yet again.     
            “Sooo,” he dragged out the word. “Are you an Outlander?”
            “No. I’m a Vanguard.”
            Nash cocked his head to the right. “Why were you in the Outlands then?”
            “I went to escape Vance’s oppression.” Mia stared at the wall behind him until her vision blurred. She willed tears to form. Given the pressure she’d been under, summoning them proved easier than she expected. When the familiar tight burning started near her lids, she blinked at the prince. He shifted in his seat. Mia wanted to snort at his reaction. Tears always made men uncomfortable. “Vance killed my family.” She paused and swallowed, hoping he believed she needed a moment to collect herself. “I ran as far as I could and ended up in the Outlands. Samson found me.”
            Nash cleared his throat and shifted again; she increased the flow of her tears in reply.             “What do you know about the Outlands?”
            “Very little.” She sniffed. Looking as pathetic as she could manage, she attempted to wipe her eyes, an impossible feat given her bound hands. Nash frowned as his gaze landed on her restraints. She bid him to unbind her hands, and for a moment, she believed he might. To her disappointment, he gripped the side of his chair until his knuckles turned white and left her tied up. Mia ground her teeth.
            “Do you believe you are the Fulfillment?” Nash kept his voice steady despite the turmoil she read upon his face.
            Mia waited a moment to respond, both to further escalate his frustration and to collect herself. In this moment, she needed to be most convincing, to begin what she’d been tasked to set in motion. She gestured with her chin, drawing Nash’s attention to the blazing “F” upon her upper arm. The dark purple birthmark matched the shade of her eyes.
            “The First Ones speak for themselves.”
            Nash shook his head. “It’s too obvious.”
            Mia’s head jerked back. She struggled to maintain her composure as his reaction, so unexpected, derailed her careful planning. Her mind racing, she grappled for a response.
            “Too obvious?”
            “Yes. See, Mia—” His clear distaste tainted the sound of her own name. “I know about the First Ones.”
            “Who do you think you are? An Ecclesiastic?” She smirked at him, acting like she retained complete control, but her insides knotted. She couldn’t lose her ability to direct the conversation.
            To her surprise, Nash laughed, though she noted no pleasure in it. “The Prophecy states, ‘In a time of war, when the land is divided amongst the two, she, with raven black hair, purple eyes, and a special blessing from the First Ones shall bring peace.’”
            “I think everyone in the three kingdoms and in the Borderlands is familiar with The Prophecy.” Mia rolled her eyes for effect. “What’s your point?”
            “My point is, the special blessing wouldn’t be something as simple as a birthmark. If it were, the First Ones would have just said raven black hair, purple eyes, and an ugly purple ‘F’ on the upper arm.” He flicked his hand toward her arm. “Special blessing is vague, indicating something mysterious. There is nothing mysterious about your birthmark.”
            Mia’s heart pounded as she felt the tables turn and the conversation slip away. “And there is something mysterious about her?”
            The word her hung between them for a moment. Mia took another deep breath, worrying she’d pushed him too far. Beneath his shirt, she saw Nash’s muscles ripple and hoped she’d managed to touch a new nerve.
            Mia clenched her teeth. She hated acting this way, so out of character, but she had to press on. No one could know the truth. She had to win this game…

Enter the draw to win a $50 giftcard from Amazon (international) AND signed print copies of the Prophecy and The Outlanders (US only)

*It was Jared Leto. Who else? :3

Sunday, 5 October 2014

To find yourself just look inside the wreckage of your past.

Sometimes you have so many emotions inside you that you don’t know what to do with them. Sometimes you feel as though if you feel anything more your heart is going to swell to thirty times its normal size and then explode. Sometimes you feel as though you’re the only person who has ever felt this way, and then you feel like a crazy person.

Sometimes you feel too much.
Today I feel too much.

What do you do when you’re so full of hope and love and sadness and brokenness at the same time? What do you do when there’s too much inside of you and you’re running out of room to store it? When you’re completely full but desperately empty at the same time?

If you’re like me, you ask you friends for advice. And if you have good friends – and I hope you do – they tell you to use it. Channel it into something creative and let it out. Bleed it out. Write it out. Get it out of you any way you can, because keeping it in is a mistake. Denying it is a mistake.

So here I am, writing it out. I don’t know if this will ever see the light of day, but that’s hardly the point. Not everything you write has to be shared. Not everything you do needs an audience.*

I’ve been very self-reflective lately. Thinking about the way things work out. About the past. About the future. Thinking. Dreaming out loud. The past couple of months it’s felt like the Universe has been speaking to me in a major way. Or, as my mum puts it, screaming at me. I feel like I’m at a cross road, you know. Like the decisions I make over the coming months are crucial. It’s a strange feeling to know – and I mean really know – that right now, in this moment, you are on the right path in life. That you are closer than ever becoming the person you want to be and to living the life you’ve always wanted to live. It’s scary, really. You’d think it would be easier than questioning everything, but it’s actually much harder because the questioning just increases. The simple answer is never what it seems. The best thing to do in these times, I find, is to learn from your past. And to do that, you have to look back. To find yourself just look inside the wreckage of your past.

I’ve been talking to quite a few people who are, unfortunately, where I was not so long ago. In the depths of the dark and twisty place. So far in that it seems ludicrous to even imagine that a world exists outside. It’s been interesting to take on the role of the people I used to hate. The people who tell you that everything is going to be okay. The people who smile and assure you that living won’t always feel like a burden. The people who you’d like to high five. In the face. With a chair. Hopefully I’m not as bad some of the “cheer-uppers” I encountered, but I’m sure I still sound annoyingly optimistic. I don’t mean to be. It’s difficult to find the right words to say to someone when they are in that state because everything you say sounds like bullshit. I know this from experience on both sides. So it’s gotten me thinking about what I’d say to myself back then. What I’d want to hear. Funny enough the things I’d want to hear probably aren’t that different to things anyone in a similar situation would want to hear. We often feel all alone in the world, but it simply isn’t the case. We all go through the same stuff. So with that in mind…

Dear [Namey],

You’re probably wondering why I’m calling you [Namey] since we both know how much you hate it. Let me just tell you that one day someone is going to call you that, and it’s going to be one of the most amazing things you’ve ever heard. So don’t complain. You’ll thank me later.

I’ve been wanting to write you this letter for a while now, as a way of getting things clear in my own mind. We both know it is very dark and twisty in there, so getting it down on paper is good way to untwist and shine a light. Not that it always works, mind you, but it is a start.

So. I know that right now it feels like the world is falling spectacularly apart. I know that there are days where you wonder why you bother trying, or why you even get out of bed in the morning. I know that there are days where it is an honest to God effort to keep breathing. I clearly remember the days where you – I – would breathe in and not breathe out until my lungs started to burn because it was entirely too much effort. I remember those days. The viscous days. The days where it felt like we were moving through honey. Sticky and impossible. Claustrophobic.

You have a lot of people telling you that things will get better if you xyz, and although you know they’re trying to help, they are making it so much worse. I know that. Can’t they see that doing xyz is impossible right now because it’s taking everything you are to just keep the oxygen flowing in and out of your lungs? You feel like you’re screaming but they don’t hear you. They don’t see you. They don’t need you and they don’t want you.


I want to tell you, Namey, that even though you’ve heard it a hundred million times and it always sounded like some fake bullshit they feed you keep you from breaking the blade out your plastic razor…It gets better.
I’m going to repeat that.


You will fall apart. You will. But you’ll get back up again. And you will repeat this cycle until one day the balance between being in pieces and holding yourself together with bits of glue and silly putty will shift and you’ll be whole more often than you are broken. You’ll look back on all the worst moments of your life and you’ll be able to see how they brought you to here, to where I am now, sitting in your future bedroom suffering in the most delicious way through the music destined to change your life. One day you’ll be sitting in here so full of hope and love that you don’t know what to do with yourself. I know that seems impossible. If I wasn’t here experiencing it for myself I wouldn’t believe it either, but it’s true. In the not-so-far-away-future you will be grateful for every single day you get to be alive. It will happen. Soon.

[You’ll also learn to hate that word, and rightfully so as I am sooning you right now. Apologies. You’ll find it funny later.]

It seems like a cruel joke, but these are the moments that will shape the person you are going to become. Although there are definitely things I’d like to stop you from doing (one thing in particular comes to mind. Seriously. Please don’t do that), I know that you have to make all those mistakes and struggle through all those challenges in order to get to here. And trust me, here is absolutely a place you’d like to be. There’s a puppy here and everything. [Well. Technically she’s not a puppy anymore. But she’s little and incredibly clingy, so she’ll always be a puppy to me.]

I want to tell you, Namey, that you need to allow yourself to feel however you feel. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t feel a certain way or to say you don’t have a reason. You don’t need borderline brain-dead morons like that in your life. Ignore the people who tell you to just ‘cheer up’ and the people who tell you it’s all in your head. It’s not all in your head and you are allowed to feel sad. You are allowed to feel broken and you are allowed to fall apart. You don’t have to be strong all the time. You don’t have to hide behind an empty face.

There are people in your life who you can trust. There are also people in your life who you can’t trust, but you’ll learn that soon enough. Focus on the good people and don’t let a handful of fools taint your opinion of humanity forever. Yes, there are an abundance of #HUMANS in the world who will make you roll your eyes so hard that you will eventually break your eyeball, but you have some good people in your life. Trust them. Let them help.

Throw yourself into your writing and into music. Where words fail, music speaks. Let it in and don’t listen to that one extreme fool who tells you that you can’t listen to “depressing” music. That “depressing” music is going to help you realise that you aren’t the only person who has ever felt this way. It will show you that other people have felt like you do, and they survived. It will give you hope that you will survive it too. Then one day you will see that “depressing” band live in concert and you will be absolutely floored by the realisation of how far you’ve come. It doesn’t feel like it now, but on that day you’ll see how strong you are. How strong you’ve always been. On that day you’ll realize that all these moments when you felt like you couldn’t go on have added up to form a greater whole. You’ll see that without those years – the years you are currently going through – this would not be possible. You wouldn’t be well on the way to living your dream. The dream that you haven’t even admitted to yourself yet. I see you there, writing entire novels by hand under the cover of moonlight. You think it’s just a hobby, a distraction from what is going on around you, but it’s not. It’s so much more than that. That’s why you are compelled to do it. Beyond a reasonable doubt.

Anyway, [Namey], I guess I just wanted you to know that you’ll be okay. Even though it doesn’t feel that way right now, I promise you that you will be okay. Like I said before, one day soon you’re going to be so full of love and hope and joy that you don’t even know what to do with yourself. And at that time you’ll look back at how far you’ve come, and see that there was always a light shining through. Even in the darkest times, there’s always a light shining through. It just takes faith to see it. After all, all we need is faith. Faith is all we need.


Inspired by @cortana02 <3
Thank you.
Just thank you.

[Original edit]
After reading this post, @cortana02 made this for me using my instagram pics. It is so perfect that I cried the second I saw it. Instant tears.

TITLE LYRICS: “R-Evolve” by Mars

*I decided this could have an audience. Maybe. It really depends if you read it.