Why I Write Stories About Girls

If you’re new to me, hello! My name is Roxie Prince, and I’m a novelist. I’m an independent author, and I’ve written three novels (all of which you can find either on Amazon or on my website). At their cores, they are all about girls and their growth into strong women. I’ve often been asked why I’ve chosen to write these sorts of stories, and there’s really no simple answer. It’s more because I’ve been called to write them, if I’m honest. I’m pulled, from somewhere deep inside me, to write stories about strong and independent girls. They are survival stories. 

Perhaps it’s because these are the stories I identify most with as a woman. Or perhaps it’s because I feel like there aren’t enough stories out there that embolden young women to take charge of their own lives in a world that constantly wants to bring them down – one that tells them they should take up as little space as possible and be content with making less money than their male counterparts. I don’t rightly know, but I do know that even when I don’t consciously set out to tell these sorts of stories, they always end up being, at the heart of them, about how girls can do absolutely anything they set their minds to. 

In my books, ‘The Way We Go’, ‘Growth Spurt’, and ‘Ealanta’, there are a few things I want my readers, both young and old, to take away from them. Yes, mostly I want them to be good stories that whisk you away for a few hours and make you forget the worries of the world, especially right now as things are especially tumultuous and scary, but I also want to make you think and feel. When you put them down, I want you to feel empowered and as though you can do something you’ve always wanted to do. That perhaps you’ve got more strength than you might have ever realized. Because guess what? You do.

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They sure can, and they sure do. Girls grow up to be awesome people, and they change the world with huge acts and small acts every single day. They grow up to be mothers who raise daughters (and sons and non-linear children) who also grow up to do awesome things. They grow up to become doctors and lawyers and writers and artists and activists and teachers and musicians and veterans and veterinarians and politicians and scientists and a bazillion other things that make our world a better place. There is nothing that a girl can’t do. 

And as a kid, or a teenager, a girl is just as awesome. They are friends and siblings and daughters. They are students of the world. 

I truly believe the future is female, and with open hearts and open minds, the young generation is going to make our world a better more loving place. I see it in the young women I know, and it gives me hope. I see it in the young women I write about. And I see it in the young women who read my stories. 

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Unfortunately, our society teaches us otherwise. Especially our girls. We are bombarded with images every day which tell us we need to be thinner, whiter, straighter, smarter, more graceful, more popular, richer, more, more, more! The truth is, we are perfectly fine the way we are. I want my readers, through my characters, to feel like it’s okay to love who they are. “Faults” and all. Whether they are gay or straight, fat or thin, rich or poor, or whatever else. Because guess what? Those things aren’t faults at all! 

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Those are the things that make you special. Those are the things that make you you. And as hard as it can be to accept the things we don’t often like about ourselves, or that society doesn’t like about us, once we do and we begin to embrace them and love them, there is immense power in that. There is power in being weird. In being unique. In being you. It’s cliche, but sometimes cliches are cliche for a reason – because they’re true: the world would be a really boring place if everyone were the same. I want to tell stories that help young girls – that would have helped Young Roxie – understand and embrace that truth.

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This is something that has taken me thirty years to learn. What I mean by “your life is yours” is that, ultimately, you have the power to make your life whatever you want it to be. Yes, you might have obstacles to overcome, sometimes huge, seemingly insurmountable ones, but the reality is that it’s your life. You can do anything you wish with it and you shouldn’t let anyone or anything hold you back from doing the things you want to do. It might be hard, and you might have to do do a lot of work, but like I said before, you can do anything you want if you want it bad enough. As far as we know, we only get one life to live, so we might as well use it as best we can.

Let me use myself as an example.

I have had a lot of obstacles to overcome. I am an orphan born with HIV. I am obviously chronically ill. I live every day not knowing how I’m going to feel from one day to the next, and for the majority of my life, I didn’t know if I was even going to live. Thankfully, thanks to the advances in treatment, my prognosis has drastically improved, but I still live with debilitating health issues every single day that prevent me from working a normal job (i.e. making my own livable wage) which means I am financially dependent on other people. I am also dependent on the government for the healthcare I obviously need to live. And this healthcare system puts me in an extremely confining box when it comes to making any money of my own in the ways I can (with my writing, art, etc.).

For years, these things made me feel extremely depressed and demoralized. Like my life wasn’t my own. Like I had no control over my life. I still feel that way in some ways, but I have realized that I can still make my life my own in many ways. I can work around my obstacles and make a happy life for myself. I don’t have to let my obstacles beat me down. I can write stories I love. I can create art I am proud of. Yes, I will always be chronically ill. I will probably always carry this virus. I will probably always be confined to a system that boxes me in. But my life is still mine, and no one and nothing is going to stop me from living it to the best of my ability. 

And I want my readers to do the same thing. No matter what obstacles you have to overcome – because we all have them, some more serious than others – you can do it. There is always hope. Always. 

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Life can be hard, brutal, cruel, and unfair. It can chew you up and spit you out for no damn reason other than you’re still breathing. But that’s just it – you’re still breathing. If you are, you can overcome. There’s been an, at this point, almost corny campaign going around for the last few years that says “It Gets Better”. Well, it really does.

The characters in my novels overcome a lot. Lindsay and Katie raise themselves as their mother sells her body. Lindsay falls for a man far, far older than her. Katie struggles with her sexuality. Michaela deals with her parents’ divorce by rebelling, and it puts her in a perilous situation with a predatory boy. Margot never fits in with her peers and discovers it’s because she’s never been one of them at all. She then has to bring back an entire race of people from a punishment set upon them by Gods themselves. Adelaide’s power kills a monster. And Corinne must learn to put aside her bitterness and hatred brought on by prejudice to make room in her heart for love. 

I hope their struggles will inspire my readers who are going through difficult things in their lives make it through another day. Because one day turns into two. Two days turns into a week. And eventually, those weeks turn into long enough that you make it through. You overcome. You survive. You become a survival story, too. 

I simply want to tell empowering stories about strong girls. Not necessarily because I think I am some sort of guru or wise woman, but just because I wish I had had more stories like these when I was a girl. I tell the kinds of tales I wish I had had and the kinds of stories I liked to read when I was young. And because in my thirty-two years, I have been through a lot, arguably more than most, and I’d like to share that experience with other girls through fiction that is fun and easy to read. Hopefully through stories that anyone of any age (you don’t have to be a young girl to pick up one of my stories) can open and enjoy. 

So, that’s it. That’s why I write about girls. Because girls are important. Girls are powerful. And girls are strong.

[Roxie Reviews] | ‘The Serbian Solution’ by Eileen Enwright Hodgetts #yoiw

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Before I begin this review, I wanted to take a quick second to say I have decided to try taking my reviews in a bit of a different direction. In general, I hate the star rating system that Amazon and Goodreads uses. It’s so limiting.
You’ve probably noticed, I almost always give books I read a pretty high rating, and that’s because I don’t usually bother finishing a book I dislike. Life is really too short to read books you hate. Also, I don’t particularly like tearing apart the hard work of other authors.

The star system doesn’t really allow for us, as reviewers, to convey much of our thoughts. I try to do that through text reviews, obviously, but I’m going to go a little bit further from now on with my own star system. I’m going to rate the cover, character development, writing style, and overall plot using stars. I’ll still be writing my regular reviews alongside this, of course, and I have to give the book an overall star review as required for Amazon and Goodreads. Hopefully, this will help to give you, as the potential reader, a little bit of a better idea of whether or not you’d like to read these books. 

If you don’t like this way of reviewing, and you’d like me to go back to my older, more simple, text-based, reviews, feel free to let me know. I’m just trying something different and seeing what works best. 😃 Anyway, on to the review!

‘The Serbian Solution’ by Eileen Enwright Hodgetts
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5
Finished on January 25, 2017
$1.99 on Kindle | $12.99 in Paperback

BOOK DESCRIPTION:
While hospitalized, Lizbeth has drug-induced dreams that unlock lifelong memories she has kept locked away. She’s currently living in the United States, but these memories bring her back to her European childhood, and the turbulent truth about her mother’s death and the whereabouts of her long-lost brother. The secrets she’s held in her memory lead to her and an American doctor’s kidnapping because her brother has been the target of several groups for decades, and she’s the only one who knows where he is. Set amidst the turmoil at the end of the Cold War, The Serbian Solution is a tale of adventure and romance, culminating in a desperate final voyage into the Atlantic as a group of old soldiers try to fulfill a promise they made in World War II; to restore a king to his throne.

MY REVIEW:
I read this book as part of my #yearofindiewomen.

COVER: ⭐️⭐️
The cover isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great either. I’m not the sort to turn down a book because it has a “homemade” looking cover, but there are certainly readers out there who are. I know how hard it is to make a nice, professional cover, though, so I think Hodgetts’ done pretty well. It’s easy to read and plays well with the story. I’ve definitely seen worse.
 
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
There are quite a few characters in this book. This is a complicated story with a lot to tell, so I feel like she did well rounding out everyone’s stories and making each of these characters into real people we can connect to and empathize with as readers. I think she did a good job with the main characters, Lizette and Alex, but I wish there had been more of a focus on Grigori. He was the most interesting character to me. I wanted to know more about his psyche, about who he was and how he thought. His chapters were my favorite and held my attention the most, and they felt so few and far between. 

WRITING STYLE:
 ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Hodgetts’ style is easy to read and get absorbed in. I had little-to-no knowledge of the history of Yugoslavia, but I could still enjoy this story because she made it easy to piece together the history with context clues and her own explanations. There were a couple of times I got a bit tripped up in the plot, wondering if I had accidentally skipped over something or had missed something entirely (when her father buys the sweatsuit for example) because they felt like they had come out of nowhere only to be cleared up much later in the plot. I felt like those bits could have been written more clearly. I was confused enough to go back and reread several times wondering what I missed. Also, there were several typographical errors in the manuscript, so it could stand to be sent through another round of edits, but I’m not one to hold that against an author. I only mention that here so the author can take note and perhaps do another round. 

OVERALL PLOT:
 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
As I mentioned above, I had almost no knowledge of the history of Yugoslavia before I read this novel (and I still have only a cursory one as I write this), so I went into this book almost completely blind. I decided to continue the book as an ignorant reader, without going online and educating myself about the history of Yugoslavia (making the reading of this book a lot more difficult) because I figured I’m not much different than a lot of folks in America, unfortunately. Our educational system isn’t always the best. We aren’t taught world history as well as we should be. I’m a pretty intelligent person, but I’ll be the first to admit that my knowledge of world history is severely lacking. So, there are probably a lot of things I missed out on because I choose to read this book from an ignorant standpoint. The ending, for one. I didn’t completely understand it. I mean, I get it, peripherally, because I’m not dumb, but I’m sure there was some nuanced meaning there that went over my head because I don’t know the history I should have. In short, if you want to read this, I’d recommend understanding the history of Yugoslavia and the surrounding countries before you do. 

Despite this, I still overall enjoyed this story. Hodgett mixes history with mystery without bogging the reader down as in some historical fiction. ‘The Serbian Solution’ has got most everything one could want from a mystery, and Hodgetts’ writing is descriptive and compelling.

Venting

A week ago, I sliced my hand open with on a tuna can (stupid, I know), and had to get three stitches. Because of where the cut is, I’ve been limited in my grip and how I can use my hand. I can’t type at my computer which has meant I haven’t written. It’s so frustrating. Yeah, I could handwrite, but that essentially doubles my work because I’d have to eventually type up everything I’d written, and who the hell wants to do that?

I’m going out of my mind. Sometimes it’s nice to sit around and read, relax, but after so many days on end, it gets really damn old. I’ve been struggling a lot to create lately through chronic pain anyway, so now that I’m even more limited, I’m just so frustrated.

I miss my stories. I have book reviews to write. I feel like I’m going stagnant. Ugh. I need these damn statutory get the FUCK out of my hand.