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Other Side of the Pen: November 23rd, 2015

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As a writer, as a freelance editor, as a reviewer… Well, sometimes Mia gets mouthy, and the fourth week of the month is when she’s gonna let you know just what she thinks!

Review Smarter, Not Harder

I am an author and a book reviewer. Here are some of my views from both sides.

As an author, I try not to read my own reviews too often. I’ll glance over them and see if someone pointed out something I need to be aware of, but most of the time, it doesn’t lead to anything good. Since everyone is entitled to their opinion–even if it’s to hate my books–I just leave them be. Sometimes, this is really hard.

Like one review that got after me about the romance in my book “not cutting it” for a paranormal romance…when NOWHERE in ANYTHING do I class my book as a romance or belonging in the genre. It is paranormal suspense. I don’t list it in the romance category, or put romance in the keywords, don’t mention it in the book summary, or advertise it as such.

There is a touch of romance in the story, but it is, indeed, minor. Because I wasn’t writing a romance. Yet I got yelled at for not putting enough romance in my not-romance story.

I held my tongue and moved on. I considered writing a post like this, but procrastinated about it. Until I got an email from a friend the other day, who is also a writer.

She was upset about a review that pulled two big elements out of her story and said she didn’t know anything about them and needed to research more. The one that stuck out the most was how she was accused of not writing the effects of cancer on a terminal patient correctly. My friend is also a nurse, who has treated patients with cancer. She knows what she’s talking about.

Between this and the other, this reviewer was obviously what I’m going to call an armchair quarterback who didn’t have the wealth of personal experience that my friend did yet felt they had the right to decide she was writing it wrong, even though she wasn’t. (Thirty seconds to read an author bio would have told this reviewer that this author is also a practicing nurse.)

This struck close to home for my friend and she almost stopped publishing, but happily she was persuaded otherwise. Even so, I understand the feeling.

This isn’t going to be a diatribe against reviewers who “author bash” because there’s been enough of those. This won’t be a rallying cry for authors to go out against reviewers, because I know that’s a bad idea and won’t tell someone to do it. No, this is about my recommendation to those out there who decide to write reviews.

The internet gives you a big box to stand on and a microphone. So consider what you’re about to say before you start talking.

Am I saying to not write negative reviews? Not at all. I will review any book I choose to, even if what I say isn’t positive. Some reviewers won’t post a review under three stars because they don’t want to hurt an author’s feelings or prefer to focus on the positive. I get that. I respect it. But that’s not my philosophy. I think the author may need to know the issues, and readers need to know what they’re getting into.

But I try to review smart. I never bash the author personally. And I make sure I know what I’m talking about, like I won’t criticize a horror author for not having enough sci-fi. Or a YA author for not having enough adult scenes. If my only knowledge of something is having read some other fictional books on it, then I won’t pretend I know about it. If I think an author is off-track on something but I don’t have that real knowledge of it, I’ll say that I was uncertain. Or that something didn’t work for me.

I’m not saying don’t review. I’m not saying don’t write negative reviews. If a book has problems, you are in your right to point it out. I’m saying that reviewers wield power and yes, with great power comes great responsibility. Don’t treat the internet like a shield. Think before you write: be sure of the ground you’re on and knowledge you’re wielding. Because reviewers need to put as much effort into their reviews as authors into their books.

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Nutmegs & the Charter Oak: November 16th, 2015

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Mia is from CT, and Adelheid is in CT…so, let’s talk about Connecticut!

What is the Charter Oak?

The Charter Oak was an unusually large white oak tree growing, from around the 12th or 13th century until it fell during a storm in 1856, on what the English colonists named Wyllys Hyll, in Hartford, Connecticut, in the United States. According to tradition, Connecticut’s Royal Charter of 1662 was hidden within the hollow of the tree to thwart its confiscation by the English governor-general. The oak became a symbol of American independence and is commemorated on the Connecticut State Quarter.
~Wikipedia

Connecticut is old. Seriously. It was one of the thirteen original colonies and a member of the first continental congress. A man from my own home town was a signatory on the Declaration of Independence. So…we’re old, and this town has a lot of history. On our official state quarter is the Charter Oak, the story of which you can read above.

The full truth of the story remains a little sketchy, as many such things from history can be, but it’s one I like. Much like those rampant Bostonians tossing that tea, the idea of a feisty and stubbornly independent New England never ceases to amuse me. I think maybe that’s one of the reasons, aside from being born here, that I decided Adelheid had to be: because the attitude of your New Englander stereotype kinda fits a place where vampires and werewolves would want to be…

Although I’ve yet to meet one.

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From Mia’s Desk: November 9th, 2015

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From Mia’s Desk will post the second week of each month and discuss something of interest to Mia, which she hopes others will find interesting too! It may focus on opinion pieces, literature (historical and current), or even movies–because a good story is a good story.

Mia’s Favorite Romantic Scenes from Cinema

 

I love books, but I also love movies. And while straight romance isn’t my usual thing, I like my stories to have a touch of romance in them–like Adelheid does–because relationships, romantic and otherwise, are generally a part of life. And here are some of my favorite romantic scenes from movies/shows!

  1. “For Her, I Would Cross Over” from Hellboy
  2. “A Reason to Live” from Hellboy II
  3. “The Sun is Rising, Elly Zahm” from Episode 3 of Centennial
  4. “The Kiss” from Disney’s Beauty & the Beast
  5. “Yo Adrian” from Rocky
  6. “Aragorn & Arwen Reunited” from Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
  7. “Saving Trinity” from Matrix Reloaded
  8. “Shine” from Stardust
  9. “Compliments of the Concord Ladies Coffee Club” from 1776
  10. “My New Dream” from Disney’s Tangled

 

“Not your typical” romances tend to be my favorites, like from Hellboy. Or scenes where a man or woman manages to go beyond all boundaries to do something critical for someone they love. Most of these scenes encompass those ideas. I can’t explain why many of them touch me so much as they do, but if you’re familiar with them, maybe you’ll understand!

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Gondor Calls for Aid!

…or not really, but it sounded funnier that way.

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Well, folks, my fresh start is freshly started and I’m grateful for everyone who’ll be following along with me. In this process, there is one downside, however, that I’m hoping you’ll be willing to help me with. (Hence the calling for aid part!)

With putting together my new volumes and taking the other single releases down, the reviews that were on the single releases are no longer available to the Amazon shopping public. I wish that there had been a way to do this without that, but sadly…not. So, I’m hoping that my readers might be willing to post/re-post reviews of the others books on the new volumes. I will happily send you copies of these fresh versions in exchange.

If you’re willing and would like to post reviews, you can find Volume One (Cameron’s Law, When Forever Died, and Cats & Dogs) HERE.

You can find Volume Two (Voracious, Family Matters, Written All Over Her, Sheltered, Disposable People, and Forever) HERE.

If you would like copies, just email me here: darien.mia (at) gmail.com

Thank you!

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The Adelheid Chronicle: November 2nd, 2015

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The Adelheid Chronicle will post the first week of the month to discuss interesting facts about the series, the setting, its creation, about current and future releases, teasers, etc.,

Building a City

The Adelheid series is built on one basic premise: that a law has been passed that makes all preternatural creatures (vampires, werewolves and more) legal citizens. They don’t have to “play human” to have the same rights and privileges as everyone else in the United States.

The series is based around the city of Adelheid, CT, where a lot of preternatural beings live.

Growing up in New England, I’ve always known that this area’s long history is rife with paranormal fodder. Salem, MA is just a couple of hours away from me and the history of that city is well known.

When I first conceived this series ten years ago, I set it in Salem. (It was called the Preternatural, Unlimited series then.) I was sixteen and had just visited Salem for the third time in my life. I originally chose to use it because it is so rich in history, lore and personality.

Unfortunately, I don’t live there, so I started to feel like I couldn’t write about the city and do it the justice that it deserved.

Years later when I began to work on the series again and overhauled it, I wanted to get my world and setting straight before I even wrote the first book. I decided to make my own city and plant it in my home state of Connecticut. I modeled it slightly after the town I grew up in, but expanded on it to accommodate all I needed it to do.

I decided to give it a short history. Even if I never used that history in a book, I liked having it written for my own knowledge. I decided the town was founded by an immigrant who came over in the mid-1800s. After a little research, I learned that the most common nationalities immigrating into Connecticut in the 1840s were from Germany and Ireland. So, the founder of my town was German.

This is the official history of Adelheid: “Historically, it was founded by a man named Martin who emigrated from Germany in 1848 and brought his wife over in 1851. He was a farmer who fought in the Civil War. He founded the town several years after that, and it was established as Adelheid (named for his late wife) in 1897.”

The unofficial history — at least so far as the human world was concerned — of the city is that there is a strong source of power there. Martin was Turned to a vampire some years after the death of his wife and was attracted to the power of Adelheid, which is why he founded the city there and why it has so long attracted other preternaturals.

I chose to place it in Connecticut, because I am most familiar with it and because this area of New England has a lot of forest. There’s a lot of rural land out this way and Adelheid needs it. It’s full of shapeshifters who need to change at least once a month into their animal forms and run free. (Many of them choose to do so even when it’s not a full moon!) I needed lots of land for them to do this.

New England having its old, rich history also would make it a comfortable place for vampires, because many of them are old and rich too.

I even went so far as to establish other details, such as: “It currently covers approximately sixty square miles and has a population of approximately ten thousand people, as of the 2000 census. It’s located near the I-95 corridor towards the coast of Long Island Sound.”

I maintain a rough list of businesses in the city, to help keep track of the thriving little community I’ve created.

Creating the city has helped cement it better in my mind and given me freedom in writing it. Since it’s planned to be a long series, I want to make sure I’m comfortable living there and can write it accurately.

To anyone in the area, I would recommend the part of the state near the Sound, though I wish I could say you’d find a real Adelheid there! Still, if you do find one, be sure to say hello to Sadie for me.

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