Beta Readers – LOVE Them


As a writer who as at the beginning of her journey, I rely a lot on feedback. Actually, I want to always rely on feedback regardless of where I’m at in my writing career. I know some writers will wax poetic on their art and how they need to tell the story. That’s all well and good – I don’t disagree. I do put a twist on this though. If I was only doing this for the sake of my art and not really caring what others thought, why would I publish in the first place? The icing on the delicious cake of writing is actually having people enjoy and respond to your stories!

This is why fans are so important to me. Heck, not just fans – readers in general. Even if you read my stories and hate them, I want to hear the feedback. Why? Because it can only help me improve my storytelling so that people actually want to read my books.

Now, I know what some of you may be thinking. How could I possibly enjoy being torn apart in a bad review? I don’t! Yes, it does sting. And yes, there are some negative criticisms I take with a grain of salt. For example, if you attack one of my paranormal stories, but you don’t usually read paranormal fiction…I will not make adjustments in future stories based on everything you say. Why? Well, to be blunt, if you’re not a paranormal fiction fan, I’m not writing for your enjoyment, so if you don’t like it…well, that really wasn’t the goal, now was it? I’m a writer, not some egomaniac who thinks that I can use my writing to make people who hate paranormal fiction into lifelong fans. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t think about what you’ve said. Even the most hateful reviewers can have some good ideas – unless of course for those few individuals who attack authors out of greed, envy and competition.

But, for the most part, I’m going to pay even more attention to the feedback from fans of the genre. These are the readers that I’m trying to entertain, so of course their opinion is of the highest value to me. And that is why I LOVE my beta readers. These are the people who know the genre, have read other paranormal fiction works – some of them being fans of some of the more well-known series – and they’re attuned to the themes, action, discourse and even phrasing that has come to be expected with this type of fiction. They keep me on the right track with my storytelling – and I love it when they point out where I’m, ahem, sucking.

I can’t say it enough – I love my beta readers. They’re not only helping me be a better writer, but they’re helping me produce more enjoyable paranormal fiction for the rest of you. That is, if you’re a fan of that sort of thing. 😉

Much love and respect! v–v

Generation Huh?


I miss empiricism. I miss critical thinking. These are elements of logic and rational thought that are sorely missing in our society.

I plan on discussing many of these issues in detail in other posts. For now I want to focus on a recent example involving a response to one of my posts on a different website.

I had posted a review of our current apartment complex on a ratings website. My review is summed up in the bullet points in this post. One of the people who responded based their response on so many assumptions the only way to describe it is that they pretty much fictionalized my review.

First off, the person described me as suffering from “entitlemntitis.” My first reaction to this word was “what kind of wing-nut buzzword is that?” The only thing I can figure is that this is a made up “disorder” used to described people who have the nerve to demand fair treatment. Of course I’m biased in my description. It was obvious from the response that the person meant that it’s people who think they’re entitled to everything and throw “a page long temper tantrum” if they don’t get it. (Yes, the poster actually used the phrase in quotes).

What’s interesting to me is the “entitlements” that the responder specifically highlighted in the response: disabled parking and non-English speakers. I abhor political correctness to the point that we even embrace the worst ills of our communities, but the disabled and people who can’t speak English? Given the current political climate and a growing faction of “learn the language or leave” mentality, treating not speaking English as a detriment can be unfortunately expected (I’ll address in another post). But disabilities? Really? I’m taking poetic license here, just like the poster did with “entitlemntitis” – have we’ve gotten to the point in society where we figuratively kick disabled people to the side and say, “It’s unfair if you don’t have to travel as far as me even if you’re not as mobile?”

What the hell? Now, granted, I could be a lot worse off than other people. I thankfully do not have to use a wheelchair or cane (yet), but because of my condition I am in near-constant pain. Although I’m much younger, more than one doctor has told me that I have the back of someone in their 60’s. Because of this, doctors…medical professionals…more than ONE have told me not to exercise. When was the last time you heard a doctor say that? The reason for this is because if I injure my back now, it’s more than likely that I will end up in a wheelchair.

I did not post this in my review, because well, I didn’t think going into that much detail was necessary. Medical issues tend to be private. However, the person who responded made some assumptions and suggested that I “begged” my doctor for the disability placard so that both me and my husband could have good parking spots because I was the type of person who would exploit anyone or any situation to get what I wanted.

Again, what the hell? Am I missing something? Do you all really get that from my post on our apartment woes? Please comment and tell me if this is the case and I should have been more clear/detailed in what I wrote.

And just for further clarity, my husband and I never both got good parking spots. I had a disabled spot and my husband continued to search for available parking outside in the first-come-first-serve area.  The issue with Shorewood was always them blocking disabled spots inside the garage, not that they wouldn’t give two premium spots. Also, once my back started showing improvement and I was in less pain (meaning I could walk farther without the lower half of my body going numb), I stopped parking in the disabled spots so that others who were less mobile could have them.

Now, just with the piece on my mobility issues, see how posting an opinion based on assumptions at worst – anecdotal evidence at best – can be used to twist people’s perspectives in such a way that people start believing something that is, well, just not correct?

Are people okay with basing opinions on fallacy? This anecdotal evidence would say yes, but this is something that I’ve seen on countless occasions. Seeing this behavior time and again makes me feel like we’re dealing with a society full of people from what I’m beginning to call “Generation Huh?” We had Generation X…then came Generation Why?….it seems to be that a better description is “Generation Huh?” because people don’t even ask “why” that much anymore. Few people question things to gain further understanding. Instead, they fly off the handle based on one piece of information.

Is it too much to ask that people seek out facts and/or information before forming any opinions or theories? Sadly, the answer to this seems to be yes. It’s weird. With technology we have access to more information and the ability to interact with more people than ever before, yet many do not use it to improve their perspectives or world views. Instead it’s as if  technology – with everything at our fingertips – has encouraged us to embrace instant gratification to the point that unless the information is provided to us, we can’t possibly be bothered to search for it ourselves.

Great times and sad times, y’all.

Tears for Boston – Dig Deep for the Why


As I’m reading some US and international news stories about what happened today, Bloomberg made a comment that I hope would cause some people to question things.

Bloomberg said that security was being stepped in NY’s “strategic locations and critical infrastructure, including our subways.”

Strategic locations. Critical infrastructure. These have been the historical targets of terrorist groups, international groups in particular. So why target the Boston marathon? Probably in hopes of high mortality, which is horrifying in and of itself. What else? People who do these terrifying things – whether you’re talking Al Qaeda or Timothy McVeigh – target areas for a specific purpose, to send a particular message or to enact a symbolic form of revenge against perceived wrong-doers.

Again, why the Boston marathon? Like I told my husband – in some ways, a terrorist attack is even more terrifying if we never figure out WHO or WHY. Our level of fear can be kicked up to considering EVERYONE a suspect and EVERY LOCATION a potential target.

I’m in tears because of the pain caused. And I hope that reason guides us in the upcoming weeks so that we don’t do anything rash.

My Home, My Rules


I have decided that given many of the inaccurate – and sometimes downright insane – comments that are made on public websites, I’m going to start using MY blog more to express myself.

Scenario – I post an opinion about something, thought out and detailed like my blog posts – and someone will comment with all types of tripe that is either irrelevant or based on assumptions that paint the “story” in an erroneous light.

Sigh.

This is one of the risks you take whenever you make your thoughts public. I understand that and in a way, I welcome even the most erroneous responses – IF they can be appropriately addressed/rebutted. Problem is, if someone else owns the “space,” then erroneous comments will stay in the “public record” as it were because inaccurate comments are not removed – unless done so by the person who wrote it, which is highly unlikely.

Let’s make it simple – I’m not commenting on “open forums” like this anymore because inaccurate, incendiary comments are an offense to my optic nerve.

And to be even more simple – I want to be able to delete the stupid sh*t – especially when it’s a malformed judgment of my character or actions. Keep it real people! Know the whole story (all the details) before you comment.

For background – those of you who read my blog on all of the issues that we’ve had with our apartment – this post is in response to some comments that were left that were a veiled attack on me as being someone who does anything to exploit people. If you know me or have regularly read my blog, you can make up your own mind about that characterization.

Having said that, if not commenting in other venues, expect more posts to this blog.

Fang on! v–v

Character Spotlight – Mr. Robert Caulfield


Mr. Robert Caulfied – director of the Federal Office for Human and Vampire Administration, a department of the US government that is spearheading the attempt to address social concerns that have arisen now that vampires are open and accepted as citizens.

If the US government were a company, Caulfield would be a company man. He has an unwavering commitment to the work that FOHVA is doing and commands respect in his position as director. Even Rick gives him the same respect that he gives others who have PhDs, by always addressing Caulfield with the title Mr. Rick’s use of the title tells a lot about how he views Caulfield – compare this to how Emma will address one of the archivists as Ms. Montgomery, but Rick simply calls her Sarah. But not with Caulfield…he seemingly deserves the title and respect.

Why does Caulfield deserve so much respect? Further, why does Rick think that he does? Does Rick know more about him than he’s letting on? Maybe the respect is because of Caulfield’s position…his confidence…his commanding presence….or maybe in regards to the work that he’s tasked with doing. Specifically in “The Source,” Caulfield is managing an entire project to find a way to deal with violent vampire criminals – for the protection of humans and law-abiding vampires alike. It’s a huge undertaking with even bigger implications given the growing political climate of anti-vampirism.

Does he do it because it’s his job or because he feels that strongly about vampire rights? It’s hard to tell because Caulfield is truly a man of mystery to the point that the only person who might know is his assistant Allison – and maybe not even her. Or maybe Rick knows and is just not telling.

One thing that surprised me with FOHVA is that although they’re a government department, there appears to be a seamless partnership with the military. This of course could be because normal law enforcement agents – like with the FBI, DEA, etc – are not equipped or trained to deal with the vampire threat. That fact is part of the reason why FOHVA exists in the first place. Still, close military involvement is enough to make some people slightly nervous and question many things regarding Caulfield’s involvement.

Mr. Robert Caulfield is a figurehead; he represents the overall, decisive effort to maintain order – the question is what is the definition of order and who is doing the defining? Is Caulfield the one doing the defining, trusted with bringing ultimate social peace between humans and vampires? Or is he just taking orders?

He will play a bigger role in the plot of upcoming books in the series. It will be interesting to see – even for me – if there is anyone who will be able to breach his stoic demeanor and gain some insight about his motivations.