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First Nisha FanArt!

The first of hopefully many many more Nisha FanArt! This is a super cute piece of work I commissioned from Mary, a talented young Indonesian digital artist.

The scene is from Chapter 16 of the first book. Nisha, Faris, and Saad are at the Border, trying to help General Char in her efforts to defend their kingdom from neighboring invasions. Faris has an idea which will eventually be a huge asset to their efforts. His idea is rooted from when he was a child, training with his Outer Movement magic under the guidance of his parents.

However, in order for Faris’ suggestion to work, it requires Saad to link and channel the Outer Movement Magic which Faris practices with the Inner Movement Magic which Nisha practices.

This scene is one of the most memorable scenes when I read the book. It shows the characters’ companionship forming as they work together, and I thought it was a beautiful scene to illustrate.

mary

Without further ado, here is the illustration!

Meet the Artist

Mary

Mary is a 16 year old digital artist whom I met through the Mad Tea Book Club. At this time, she is also a volunteer board member of the book club.

Q: Why digital medium?

A: I think digital suits me the most. I’ve always preferred working in digital over other art mediums.

Q: When and where did you learn drawing?

A: I started to draw seriously around 6th grade and was self-taught for almost 4 years until I went to art school.

Q: How did you come to love drawing?

A: In 6th grade, I fell in love with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I watched the fanart speedpaint on Youtube of this book (?). I watched countless of videos until one day I decided to try to make my own. I tried to follow their process. The result wasn’t the best but I was proud of it and enjoyed making them. So I kept practicing and making more fanart, until today!

Q: What is your dream job?

A: I’ve always dreamed to be a book cover artist or childrens’ book illustrator! Oh to be able to bring other talented people’s stories to life and see my illustrations on stores’ shelves!

Keep updated with Mary’s journey and dreams via her Instagram profile – where you can find more of her illustrations!

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Sacred Rituals Cover Art (Step by Step)

Inez Wandita, the incredibly talented cover illustrator that I work with, has generously shared these drafts for everyone to see! Her cover of Nisha was a real hit with readers, and if you want to see the Nisha step-by-step you can check it out here.

Creative Process

Interestingly you will see that her creative process is completely different for Nisha and Sacred Rituals. Inez confided to me that after reading the draft of Sacred Rituals, she immediately had a vision for the cover. Thus the first draft was already rather fleshed out, in comparison to Nisha’s first draft.

We changed some things so that it was more clear who was on which side. Saad and Faris are on the left facing off against Hans and the Aklum Captain on the right side. A very prominent part of this design is the eyes on the top of the page, which signify Nisha’s deeper awakening and understanding of her own powers, namely the Inner Movement magic which she practices. This becomes a key part of the battle scene, so I thought it was cover-worthy indeed.

Have you read Sacred Rituals? What did you think about the choice of design for the cover? Let me know in the comments!

If you haven’t read Sacred Rituals, you can purchase it at the shop. If you are a book reviewer and would like to exchange for an honest review, simply contact me.

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My Kindle Tour

Do you have an e-reader? Do you still remember the first time you got it? I have one of the first editions of the Amazon Kindle, which I got way back in my last year of college in Michigan, USA. This is something like 10+ years ago. Well, 13 years, to be precise.

Sometimes I have to really punch (the buttons), but other than that it’s still working splendidly!

The device is still with me, carried almost everywhere I go, faithful and beloved. It’s gotten a bit slower and the buttons must have accumulated dirt throughout the years. Sometimes I have to really punch it, but other than that it’s still working splendidly! It’s not a color kindle so I’m still experiencing everything on it black and white.

The Contents of My Kindle

My digital library is divided into 16 categories, totaling 297 books. The winner is fantasy at 99 books-no surprise. Following that is nonfiction at 42 books, classics at 35 books, and fiction at 34 books. The others are much smaller categories.

However, I have separate categories for Harry Potter (7), Diana Wynne Jones (21), and Shannon Hale (11). These are all fantasy books/authors, so the whomping total is 124 fantasy titles! Indeed I’m a fantasy geek, and I’ve always found my escapism in other magical universes.

Nose in a (digital) book.

Surprise or not, I do also read hot steamy stuff aka smut, but the titles I keep only total to 6 titles. I think I’m very picky about the type of smut I read because I’ve realized it’s not just about the sex! The most rewarding steamy books also deliver on plot, character development, and relationships with each other.

Last but not least, I do have a category for my writings (Nisha, Sacred Rituals, and more). Let me tell you even though it’s just a kindle, even though it’s just a digital copy, and even though it might just be on my own kindle library…I’m super proud of myself for contributing some titles to this little girl’s collection.

I hope you enjoyed my kindle tour! What’s on yours? Let me know in the comments!

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Nisha Cover Art Process

A lot of my readers mentioned how much they loved the Nisha cover illustration by Inez, so Inez and I decided to share the step by step of Nisha cover art process!

A very interesting thing to note for the Nisha cover art process is that Inez picked up the leaves of the magical forest to be the background of the book. As readers of Sacred Rituals will know, these particular leaves become incredibly important later on. Funny thing is, Inez illustrated the cover even before I began writing the second book. So there was definitely a bit of cosmic intervention there!

Pretty cool stuff eh? You can purchase Nisha here for reading, or even get the audiobook which I narrated!

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How to Ditch a Party (Nikolai and Zoya Fanfic)

Warning: Adult! Mild Smut. Also Spoiler Alert for Rule of Wolves ending.

This Nikolai and Zoya fanfic is inspired by King of Scars Duology (from the Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo) Fanfic. Happens sometime after the events of Rule of Wolves.

Nikolai and Zoya are attending one of Count Kirigan’s famous parties.


“You were ravishing on the dance floor,” Nikolai said to Zoya after she finished a round with Count Kirigan. Their host kept glancing towards her with puppy dog eyes, practically begging for another dance. Zoya sighed. Count Kirigan was a valuable ally within the Ravka nobility, but everyone knew he was head over heels with the ex-general turned queen.

“Blame Genya. Can you believe this dress?” Zoya tugged annoyingly at the blood red material which hugged her upper body tightly, even while supporting a plunge to show off her gorgeous cleavage. Genya had embellished it with Fabrikated sequins made to look like dragon scales. From Zoya’s right thigh downwards the material parted completely, and when she twirled it was a smaller version of the dragon taking flight. She had high-heeled black boots that looked like it could sever some knees if pointed in the right direction. Zoya had considered pointing it in several directions tonight, but decided it was not the impression the newly crowned queen wanted to make at their precious ally’s party.

“I can believe it. That one tailor is always trying to torment me,” he chugged down his glittering drink even as he winked at a cluster of young women across the hall. They were pointing and giggling. Oh, he knew their gossips. Even when he was still King, there had been rumors about his relationship with Zoya. Now that she was Queen, Nikolai was known to be the one who serviced her needs at night. Well, he thought, might as well give them a show. He reached towards Zoya and lifted her up in his arms. If he was going to be known for his services, at least he could make sure they were sky-high.

Zoya threw him a flustered look, and for a moment Nikolai thought she would breath fire on him. But her eyes calmed and she leaned into his chest. “Get me out of here,” she murmured into his neck. Her voice sent pulses straight down to his groin, where he could feel the rising need.

“You’re the queen,” replied Nikolai charmingly, even as his breath was quickening in anticipation. Zoya bit his ear lightly, and his knees buckled.

“Don’t drop me, demon boy,” Zoya warned. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pressing her breasts into his torso. She could feel her buds tightening, but it was not even close to enough. “Do I need to fly us out of here?”

“You would destroy the whole building in the process. And then we’d have no bed for tonight’s activities,” Nikolai calmly countered. He turned and began walking out of the ballroom. Nikolai could feel the eyes of every single Ravkan nobility following them. Good.

Understatement is overrated.


Honest question folks. Should I continue to the next scene in this Nikolai and Zoya fanfic, or stop here cuz tis suggestive enough? 😀

If you like this fanfic, try my Six of Crows fanfic from Jesper’s perspective!

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Nisha, Faris, and Saad Aesthetics

Aesthetics seem to be the rage these days on booktok – another fascinating phenomena pushing books up the charts. Of course, copycat me decides to hop on the aesthetics trend and make some of my own. An aesthetic on TikTok is basically a highly stylized visual compilation synchronized with music. The visuals are usually taken from Pinterest, and it is combined to represent the topic / plot / story. So you can make a book aesthetic, a home aesthetic, a summer fashion aesthetic, or pretty much any other aesthetic you want to make.

I made 3 aesthetics for main character of the Nishaverse. Here is Nisha’s aesthetic.

Faris’ aesthetic is from his backstory in Scenes from Faris’ Childhood. This also acts as the prologue to Sacred Rituals.

@airinefferin

Sacred Rituals aesthetic. Read prologue free at airinefferin.com. Book coming out July 1st. #sacredrituals #fantasy #booktok #mybook #author #booktik

♬ Fantasy Adventure – Josh Rousseau

Last but not least, Saad’s aesthetic. The Fisherman’s Story is a short story of Saad’s past embedded within Sacred Rituals. I’m not completely happy with the Captain depiction, but ah well.

@airinefferin

The Fisherman’s Story is a short story embedded in my second fantasy novella Sacred Rituals. Available on my website airinefferin.com 🤩 #booktok

♬ Heroic Pirate Music – Augustin C

Which do you like best? As always, if you are an independent reviewer and would like to read my books in exchange for an honest review, let’s get in touch!

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Book Review: Winter (Lunar Chronicles)

Winter is the thick and satisfying conclusion of Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Beginning with Cinder (a retelling of Cinderella), and ending with Winter (a retelling of Snow White), I have to say I am officially a fan of this series.

Fresh Retellings

One of the reasons I dig Marissa Meyer’s fairy tale retellings so much is because she does a great job balancing the familiar framework of old fairy tales with new twists and turns. This freshness gives the old stories new life. In The Lunar Chronicles, she weaves hit manga Sailor Moon into the narrative, and voila, you have a recipe for amazingness. It doesn’t stop there, however. Many authors have great recipes but fail in the execution. Here is where I truly appreciate Marissa Meyer because her execution was brilliant. Not too slow, not too fast, just the right amount of interpersonal drama against the backdrop of an intergalactic war.

Winter and Jacin’s Relationship

I’ve said that of all the relationships in this series, my favorite is Cinder and Kai. However, there is something lovely about Winter and Jacin’s relationship which essentially began when they were kids. They grew up together, and they both knew that for the other, there would be one else. They never questioned each other’s loyalty and love no matter how suspicious it certainly looked at times. Their trust for each other was absolute, and that is just beautiful. I don’t know how often this happens in real life, or if it ever actually happens. But surely this is the ideal relationship goal for everyone.

Worthy Ending

This whole adventure began with Cinder, and after falling in love, heartbreaks, kidnaps, fingers being cut, revolutions, the author had Cinder tying up all the loose ends quite nicely. I enjoyed the delicious length of the ending being prepared, and all in all, was very pleased. Five Stars for Winter.

If you want to read a fanfic I wrote based on this series, read Winter and the Komodo Dragon.

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Jesper is Dangerously Bored (A Six of Crows Fan Fiction)

A Six of Crows Fan Fiction. Ketterdam is in a Covid-19 lockdown. Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Wylan, Nina, Matthias, and Kuwei are stuck in a secret two-story house that Kaz owns. Nina is still suffering the aftereffects of the jurda parem.


Jesper was going so mad, he was about to shoot himself. The government had just announced another lockdown due to the Delta variant spreading rabidly, turning the island of Ketterdam into a burning cauldron hotter than anything an Inferni could come up with.

Well, except maybe an Inferni on jurda parem. Which did not sound so bad at this moment, Jesper thought desperately. He was just about to go find Kuwei, the young Shu scientist, when Inej grabbed his arm. She caught him off-guard, as usual.

“Don’t even think about it,” Inej hissed. “Don’t you dare.”

“I’m already going mad, Wraith! I need action, adrenaline, or at least, a goat!”

“Look at Nina. She’s still struggling with the addiction! I’m not going to lose two friends to the drug!”

“You’ll get a dose of parem when I say you’ll get a dose. No sooner, no later,” the door barged open as Kaz, their fearless scheming leader, the Bastard of the Barrel, the crippled gangster, appeared in front of them. Matthias was closely behind him, pulling off the mask which looked small as it stretched across his broad face.

“Where have you been?” Jesper asked, annoyed. He never knew what to expect with Kaz.

Sure enough, Kaz surprised them by reaching into his bag and pulling out small bottles of vaccine. “Getting what we need,” he replied simply. Kaz didn’t bother taking off his mask. Jesper suspected Kaz rather liked wearing the black mask – it hid more of his expressions.

“I’m going to find Nina and give her the first shot. Her immunity system is so tampered after the parem, I don’t want any chance of her getting infected,” Matthias took a bottle, a syringe, and walked upstairs to Nina’s room.

“I don’t want my investment to get infected,” muttered Kaz, handing a bottle to Inej. She sighed in exasperation, taking it from his gloved hand. The slight touch sent ripples up and down both their bodies. Inej itched to reach out and peel Kaz’s mask off. Literally and figuratively.

Jesper saw Kaz and Inej tensing up, like they always did when they were near each other, and took his cue to leave. Jesper grabbed 3 vaccine doses and 3 syringes. One for himself, and the rest for Wylan and Kuwei. They were likely in the basement, experimenting with leaves and chemicals and who knew what else.

It was obvious something was off when Jesper entered the closed basement. The whole room was covered with hazy greenish gas, and it smelled like the king of durians. It wasn’t even durian season in the farmlands of Novyi Zem!

“What have you two been working on,” Jesper coughed, spotting their similar figure, hunched over various bowls and tubes. It was hard to tell them apart since Nina had done such a stellar job tailoring Wylan to look like Kuwei. They both looked up in surprise.

“A little of this and that. Sorry about the smell,” Kuwei answered sheepishly.

“Put these on,” Wylan’s voice sounded from the near identical figure closer to the door. He quickly handed a mask to Jesper.

It wasn’t much better with the mask on, but at least Jesper had stopped coughing. He showed them what he brought. “From Kaz.”

Kuwei nodded. “If this works, we might not need those brands.”

“What was that?”

The Shu boy shook his head. “Nevermind, nothing. Thanks for coming down here.”

Jesper lingered on, and for just a moment thought of asking Shu if he had just a bit of parem with him. Was Jesper really that desperate? It was this lockdown, driving him insane, pushing him to be even more reckless than usual. But then he thought of Nina upstairs, every inch of her skin hurting, as she battled against the pull of the addictive. He thought of Matthias sitting next to her in gutted worry.

And to Jesper’s surprise, his thoughts floated to Wylan, who was now eyeing him nervously.

Maybe there was something he-they could do after all, the Zemeni smiled slowly, naughtily. Teasing Wylan. Yes, that’s what Jesper would delightfully occupy his time with.


Hope you liked this Six of Crows fan fiction! I’ve also got some Lunar Chronicles fanfics for your enjoyment 😉

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Book Review: Daughter of the Pirate King

What a FUN read. Pirates of the Caribbean is one of my favorite movies and piracy, in general, is a fantasy genre I’m quite besotted with, so when I came across Daughter of the Pirate King duology on booktok (tiktok accounts which focuses on books), it went to the top of my To-Be-Read. Spoiler Alerts – a whole ship of them!

Synopsis

Princess Alossa is the daughter of the fearful pirate king. She was trained personally in the art of fighting, swordsmanship, and general pirate behavior directly by her father. Her body bears the physical scars. Yet, the result is she is one of the best pirates alive. She captains her own ship named the Ava-Lee, whose crew are mainly women pirates with various abilities. Captain Alossa is beloved by her crew and in turn she does everything she can to protect them.

In the first book, she is sent on a mission to retrieve a part of a hidden map which leads to a legendary treasure trove guarded heavily by sirens. Sirens are underwater she-creatures that sing to men, sleep with them underwater, then drown them and steal their treasure). Along the journey, we find out that Alossa is so strong because her mother was the Queen of the Sirens.

The second book goes into her relationship with her mother and finding out terrible truths about her father. Together with her crewmates and the sirens, Alossa leads a battle to begin the new era- the era of the Pirate Queen.

Romance

Oh yes, there is romance alright. Riden, the ridiculously attractive first mate just keeps distracting Alossa…until she realizes that their feelings and relationship is precisely what she needs to balance her human nature and her dangerous siren nature.

What I like best about how Tricia Levenseller presents the romance is how empowered the women’s roles are. These women pirates kick ass – or rather, slit throats – and are deadly, powerful fighters. They don’t let guys mess with them, and the only guys accepted onboard the ones that respect the women and are not insecure about their own abilities.

Men who are insecure of their abilities usually end up emotionally abusing their partners. I mean, the Alossa’s father is the perfect example! Let’s just say I’m glad the Siren Queen (Alossa’s mother) got her revenge in the end.

Do I fantasize about being a pirate on board the Ava-lee? You bet. Five stars for the duology.

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Creating Nisha Characters’ Looks

One of the intriguing behind-the-scenes process of the Sacred Rituals (Nisha sequel) cover is the back and forth discussion I had via WhatsApp with Inez. We were trying to create Nisha characters’ looks. From the first cover, we were quite clear on what Nisha would look like. But what about the others? And what kind of clothes did they wear? What would the look on their faces be?

Creating Nisha’s Look

Going back to the first cover, I knew I wanted Nisha to be South Asian or Northern Indian looking. Think Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai with her gorgeous features, but more warrior like instead of ladylike. The tricky thing was working out how her robe would look like. I found myself seeking inspiration from Kashmiri style clothes and scarves. That’s how her scarf came about. The scarf design and pattern became a theme going into the cover of Sacred Rituals.

Creating Saad’s Look

Saad’s character growth really gets quite developed in Sacred Rituals. He wasn’t just a sidekick anymore, it’s clear he now has a vital role in the plot. I was inspired by a friend of mine from Sri Lanka. This friend is dark-skinned, quiet, but very perceptive and smart. He’s the type that is soft spoken but tough. In real life, he leads many private sector investments in Sri Lanka and leads forward thinking high impact business initiatives. People like this are somehow always wearing glasses! LOL.

Creating Faris’ Look

As for Faris’ look, I had in mind a friend of mine from Spain. He’s extremely bright, and very handsome. It’s interesting that I took the name from my Sri Lankan friend Faris Fausz though. Another fascinating point is that you will notice Faris’ character is a bit ambiguous throughout. Whose side is he really on? You’ll have to find out by reading it yourself, but that mysterious feel was also inspired by this friend.

To get some more backstory behind other Nisha characters’ looks (especially the Aklumites!), subscribe to my newsletter. Support our work by purchasing at the shop, along with the first book: Nisha.