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Other Side of the Pen: January 25th, 2016

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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!

Not Your Plot Device to Abuse

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have one thing to say:

Rape is not your plot device to abuse.

Let’s face it. Sexual assault is a terrifyingly real aspect of the world. It’s not just women who are the victims. Statistics say that someone is sexually assaulted every two minutes in the United States. But it is frequently women, because it is very prevalent in a male-dominated society for women to be considered “owned” in some way or another, and thus “free game.”

So it’s only natural that this event of the real world would appear in fiction. But too many authors, male and female, ignore the actual implications to their characters of what they are writing.

It’s a device that is “easy” to use. Just go ahead and throw it in there, it will have a shock value to the audience, right? A good way to show how bad a bad guy is. Yet little thought seems to be given to the characters they have it happen to. Sometimes they exist in the book just to have that happen to them. Or then it just doesn’t suit the plot for the character to be traumatized, so ten pages later, all better! Need your hero to have some romance but not have to work to overcome her past? No problem, because sexual assault is easy to overcome, right?

Come on, people. Yes, you’re writing fiction, but you’re devaluing the trauma and experiences of survivors everywhere when you throw it around so casually.

I feel the same about a lot of devices authors throw around, but as a woman, this one is even more often overused and under-written.

How about some authors who not only throw it around casually in one book but many? It makes a reader wonder if the author really lacks the creative ability to achieve dramatic effect without resorting to this “easy” ploy but without affording the time, effort, and development to properly do so.

Not all victims or survivors react the same way to assaults, and there are many different ways it happens, but the fact is that there is a reaction, there is trauma, and that needs to be respected. If you choose to use the event, then have the respect to handle it properly for the character and not just ignore its effects when it is inconvenient to your plot.

And please consider if you really need to use it. Don’t use it casually, but be sure that it is necessary to the back story, or plot, or character in some way. Don’t use it as a “handy” device to produce that pre-manufactured emotional response in the readers without really thinking through what it means, okay?

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Nutmegs & the Charter Oak: January 18th, 2016

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

Connecticut Frogs

In a town near where I live, there is a Bridge. The town is Willimantic, and this bridge is “officially” known as the Thread City Crossing, but the locals know it as the frog bridge, and this is the reason why:

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Yes, there are giant frogs sitting on top of spools of thread.

The reason for the thread is that Willimantic used to be thread city, because its big production long ago were the thread mills in the center of town. (These beautiful stone buildings that have been in the past decade restored to offices and such.)

For the frogs, however, we go back to a little local folklore.

I had heard parts of the story around, but first read the whole story in the book Spooky New England, and the basic story is this.

Way, way back in the day (the 1700s perhaps), there came a terrible racket one night. It sounded like a battle was taking place near the town. Some thought it the Devil and others thought it was Indians, so everyone holed up for the night. The next morning, they explored the area (as no one had been attacked) and found that the local strain of the river had gone dry and the frog had gone to war against each other.

Even peacefully, bullfrogs can make a terrible racket, and this was what made everyone think they were being attacked.

Real or not, who knows, but the story has stuck so much that the town has its Frog Bridge and frog statues all through town, painted by local artists.

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From Mia’s Desk: January 11th, 2016

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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.

Lessons Learned from “Rocky”

I am a dork. I love the Rocky movies with Sylvester Stallone. Yes, all of them. Even the fourth one has its charms. In loving these movies, I realize that there are some basic lessons to be learned from them about life. My favorite being, “It ain’t about how hard you can hit but how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward; how much you can take, and keep moving forward.” But others, even simpler, are below and done up in the style of the internet. Because…I am…a dork. 😉

SimpleAnswers

Don'tUnderestimateOthers

Don'tOverestimateYourself

Fools

LoveUnconditionally

LoveForever

 

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The Adelheid Chronicle: January 4th, 2016

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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.,

The Genesis of Adelheid

The dedication to Cameron’s Law thanks all of those who walked the long road to life that Adelheid took, and it has been a long road.

Some authors have an idea and can type out their stories to perfection inside of a few months. For others, it takes more work. For me and the Adelheid series, it’s been more than ten years in the making. Here’s a look at where and how it started, and where it’s ended up.

You could say that an examination of the Adelheid series is to look at the evolution of a story and an idea.

When I was younger, I read the first three Anne Rice vampire stories, I devoured the Vampire Files by P. N. Elrod (and still count her among my favorite authors) and I loved the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton. Of course, I fell off the wagon on the Blake series when she went round a bend I didn’t like (sometime around Cerulean Sins and Micah, can’t remember exactly now) but she was a strong influence.

I also loved Patricia Cornwell’s Scarpetta, Janet Evanovich and Stephanie Plum, and Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone. (Again, all of them lost me later on in the series but I inhaled their earlier books.)

So, it was really no surprise when–at sixteen–I decided to write This Shade of Night.

I believe I was ultimately inspired by Anita Blake and the idea of preternatural legality, though I thought at the time that she was missing a lot of marks she could have been hitting with it. So I did what many authors do and decided to fix what I didn’t like, and wrote my own story.

At sixteen, what do we really know, though?

I started the series in Salem, Massachusetts though I don’t live there. (Visited several times, having grown up two hours away.) I made Sadie an investigator for an agency called Preterantural, Unlimited. She was half-vampire, half-were-tiger. It was set in 2018, fifteen years after the law. I mangled a half dozen bits of lore into the story because I thought they were cool, as well as the mystery and romance.

I even self-published through iUniverse almost ten years ago. And believe it or not, it met with a decent reception from a magazine reviewer. Of course, that magazine was a trade publication now gone defunct, but still, the story had potential. I wrote two more books in the series, one featuring Dakota the theriomorph hunter and the third back to Sadie. These never went further than friends and family.

Life caught up with me. Marriage, divorce, marriage, changing jobs, changing houses, having a child… You get the idea. I stopped writing for a while and didn’t pick it up again, for good, until the past few years. I had to return to my roots, but this time, I was going to do it right. I decided that more needed to go into it.

I decided to create a new town. I gave it a history. I created a private listing of the location, the businesses, the population, who founded it, and so on.

I researched the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and modeled the path of the Preternatural Rights Act of 2010 after it, calling it Cameron’s Law after the Harvard law student and werewolf (Cameron St John) who pioneered it. I gave the law a history. I moved it all to our timeline to achieve the affect on the setting I had always intended but didn’t make as much sense before.

I brainstormed with a biologist friend to come up with preternatural biology, and chose what lore I’d use. I wrote a guide to the preternatural, which is at the end of every story.

I made Sadie the owner of the agency, because she had always been the “anchor” character. I gave her history with Cameron St John, and more about her efforts in bringing the law into being. I put Cameron’s sister Madison as the agency’s secretary and Sadie’s best friend to anchor that history. I made her all vampire, because the half-breed thing just seemed silly. I re-plotted and rewrote, taking elements of the previous drafts but streamlining, tweaking, and making it work better.

Cameron’s Law, the book, was born and now all the stories that have followed.

Just like a writer, a story can mature. I might have had an okay, or even a good, story when it started but once it had matured and grown along with me, it’s become a better story.

And it only took twelve years to do it!

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Winners of the End of Year, Reader Appreciation Giveaway!

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Well, 2015 is over and 2016 is here! That means that my end of the year, reader appreciation giveaway has ended and there are winners! They have been contacted already, and I thank everyone for entering! You made it a great giveaway. 🙂

Adelheid Prize Pack: Robert G.
Here, Kitty Kitty Prize Pack: Nadine S.
Bellator Prize Pack: Meredith M.
Amor Vincit Omnia Prize Packb: Juana E.
Digital Prize Pack: Andrea A.

Thank you, and Happy 2016!

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