Page Turners: Finding out more about the Reviewing Community
The tables have turned – this time the author’s asking the questions.
Blogs and websites have been hosting author interviews for decades, giving readers a chance to get to know their favorite writers on a more personal level. But today we’re going to flip the mold, having an author interview a book reviewer. So buckle up, grab your favorite caffeinated beverage, and prepare to dive into what makes a book reviewer tick!
Behrg: First off, Miranda, tell us a little about your platform. Where do you post reviews and how long have you been reviewing?
Miranda: Most of my reviews go straight to Kendall Reviews (www.KendallReviews.com).
It all started for me in 2016 on Bookstagram with book photography. I was too shy to write reviews for way too long; I didn’t start doing actual reviews until 2018, I think. I also add my reviews to Goodreads and Amazon. I would like to eventually get them all on my blog (www.mirandacritesreadsandwrites.wordpress.com), but I’m currently not very good at keeping up with my blog.
Behrg: Outside of reading, what are some of your favorite things to do? What’s something no one in the horror/book blogging community would suspect about you?
Miranda: Besides reading, I have an extremely long list of interests. I’m highly creative, and I don’t get bored. I can find something interesting in nearly any situation. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand, so I, of course, do my own writing. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t write; it’s always been a part of who I am. I like to say I am a work-in-progress, just like all my projects. I don’t know if I’ll ever master anything, but I have fun with it. I enjoy painting, photography, cooking, baking, canning and preserving, hiking, camping, gardening, sewing, quilting, jewelry-making, pretty much anything creative.
I don’t really know what people DO think of me, so I have no idea what they might not suspect about me. I would almost say that they might not suspect that I’m really just a normal person, but that might not be completely true. No, that’s not true.
Behrg: I love that idea that we’re all a “work-in-progress.” Pretty profound for a little interview! 🙂
Any favorite sub-genres under the horror umbrella? Any you don’t particularly care for? Same questions but for common tropes in the genre?
Miranda: My favorite sub-genre is probably werewolves or haunted houses/locations. I love werewolf and haunted house stories! I also really enjoy most anything dealing with ghosts or spirits. I love splatterpunk. I enjoy some vampire stories. I don’t really get into most zombie stories anymore unless it’s a fresh idea.
As far as tropes go, some people get really annoyed with the no cell service part of the story especially since this is 2020. I am from the land of no cell service, so it’s not anything new to me! It’s completely still believable that there are places without signal or high-speed internet. So sad but true and part of my daily life.
The twisted ankle, though? Yeah, I’m over that.
Behrg: Ha! Haven’t seen that one in a little while (which is probably a good thing!). Physical books or digital?
Miranda: I like both. I received my Kindle for Christmas in 2016, and I had an extremely hard time adjusting. It took months for me to get used to it. To be completely honest, I had to try really hard to like it. Physical books will always have my heart, but now I never leave home without my Kindle. I’m off-the-grid a lot, so having a back-lit device is wonderful, and I don’t have to worry about my physical books getting damaged.
Behrg: Okay, I’m getting some strong mental images now . . . off-the-grid . . . no cell service . . . What part of the Amazon Rainforest do you live in? 🙂 In all seriousness though, do you find that challenges with cell or internet reception impact the way you approach reading or writing?
Miranda: Ha ha! There’s nothing quite like living in rural Appalachia. I wouldn’t trade where I live for the convenience of the city (on most days). Having unreliable and sometimes no cell service can be a pain; sometimes (rarely) it can be a blessing. We use our cell signal with a booster for internet, and when it won’t work properly, it is extremely frustrating. When I need to do research, upload work or photography I’ve done, send an email, try to download books to my kindle, or simply watch a YouTube video, it can be extremely upsetting when nothing works. There have been times when I’ve scratched an idea and gone with something completely different because I couldn’t properly research the subject. I try to always remember the “write what you know” advice at those times.
On a positive note, grabbing my laptop and setting out into the woods where the only sounds are those of nature, no disrupting pings, helps me to set the scene and not lose focus.
Behrg: That sounds like the perfect retreat for most writers (minus the challenges)! And I say bullocks to the “write what you know” mentality. Instead, write what interests you. Write what haunts you.
Speaking of writing, crafting well-thought reviews takes time. What are some of the things that keep you going?
Miranda: Reviews are extremely important to writers. Knowing I’m able to help a writer get their work out there for others to enjoy is what keeps me going.
Behrg: It really is a selfless act, writing a review! Couldn’t agree more. If you had only one author you could read for the rest of your life, who would you choose and why? What if you had only three?
Miranda: These are the questions that always make me feel guilty. If I only had one author I could read for the rest of my life, the easy answer is Stephen King. King stole my heart at a very early age. I would sneak around the corner to watch his movies when I was supposed to be playing in my room or be in bed because the movies were “too scary for a little kid.” I was a fiend from day one. Ha ha! So, when I got older, it was his books and movies that drew me in quickest. Two more? This makes me sad because my list is long. James Newman and Glenn Rolfe. These two never disappoint me. James usually crushes my cold, black heart. Glenn generally feeds my blood-thirsty side. I’d love to see these two collaborate. That might end my very being.
Behrg: Ooh, what a great idea! What’s some advice you could give to those just starting to build a platform to review books? What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered and how have you navigated them?
Miranda: My biggest advice to someone wanting to build a platform to review books would be to jump in with both feet and don’t look back. Start a blog, post photos along with your reviews, and share to Instagram aka Bookstagram, Twitter, Amazon, and Goodreads. I haven’t really run into many challenges. Self-doubt would probably be my biggest thing. Hold your head high, write your reviews, and don’t take negative people too seriously.
Behrg: Great advice. Favorite read of 2020 so far? Favorite read of 2019? Of all time?
Miranda: Favorite read of 2020 so far would be: Until Summer Comes Around by Glenn Rolfe
Favorite read of 2019: Bird Box by Josh Malerman
All-time favorite: I always fall back to the easy answer of Stephen King’s Christine.
Behrg: Excellent choices! Do you write fiction yourself and, if so, have you published anything? If not, how has reviewing books allowed you to grow as a writer?
Miranda: I do write fiction. I don’t have anything published yet, but I am a member of “The Thirty,” which is a group of thirty writers who have each taken on a chapter of a novel. It was an experiment by Don Gillette. Don put out the call for writers in November 2018, I hit “like” on Twitter, and the rest, as they say, is history! The novel, He Has Stayed Too Long, is now in the final editing stage.
Reviewing books landed me on Team Kendall Reviews, and then my Miranda Snaps feature came about, so writing fiction monthly for that platform has really helped me to come out of my shell a lot and get rid of some of the major anxiety of having people read my work. There will always be anxiety and butterflies, and I hope that never leaves, but it helped a ton with getting over (some of) the fear of actually putting myself out there.
Behrg: Ah, I’ve heard of “The Thirty” and have seen a lot of posts floating around Twitter on it. Seems like a fun (and insane) project! Looking forward to the final product. As for your comment about anxieties, this is a really valid point and something I don’t often see brought up. There can certainly be an inherent fear of putting your work out there, whether it be fiction you’ve created or reviews of others’ work. Any thoughts on how to quiet those internal voices or get over that fear?
Miranda: For me, I don’t think those internal voices will ever permanently shut up. I’ve learned to shove them away somewhat, and sometimes they come back loud as ever. To be able to do anything properly, the first and most important thing you have to do is believe in yourself. I tell those internal voices, “Sit down and shut up. I can do this!” Also, sometimes I pretend to have self-confidence. Even if I don’t really have a lot of it, if I pretend that I do, no one else knows the difference.
Behrg: Could you share a little more about your Miranda Snaps feature for those that might not be as familiar with it?
Miranda: Absolutely! Miranda Snaps is a monthly feature on Kendall Reviews where I share some of my recent photography, which is, of course, the Snaps part and a short story or a poem. I write those stories or poems each month exclusively for Kendall Reviews. If there’s a holiday that month, I try to write a story with that theme. I have so much fun with it.
Behrg: It’s a feature I really enjoy and great to see how pictures can inspire fiction or poetry! There’s no right answer here, but how do you personally handle reviews for books you don’t care for? Do you finish every book you read or do you move on if a book isn’t grabbing you?
Miranda: I have only given up on a handful of books in my life. I hate DNFing books! For those two or three more recent books, I didn’t review those. I was having a hard time concentrating due to personal reasons, so it was most likely just me. Another team member stepped up and reviewed those, so I felt comfortable with my decisions since they were being reviewed.
I write reviews honestly and to the best of my ability. If I find things that really get under my skin, I’ll state it along with things I loved.
I get along pretty well with most books, but I guess if I got ahold of one I really hated or wanted to DNF at this point, I’d just write a NICE, constructive review saying what my problems and reasons were. The things I dislike in a book could be the very reason someone on the opposite end of the scale might decide they want to read that same book. There’s always something positive to look for.
Behrg: This is so true—I’ve purchased books because of one-star reviews before, where everything the reviewer hated are the things I look for in a story! There’s value to giving your honest opinion of a work, regardless of what you thought of it.
What advice would you give authors looking to have their books reviewed? What are some of the best ways authors have asked you to review their book? Some of the worst? Anything you’d like to let authors know regarding the etiquette of requesting a review?
Miranda: My advice to authors looking to have their books reviewed is to do some shameless self-promoting! Talk about your books. Put the word out there. Let people know what you’re working on and what it’s about. Contact review platforms to see if anyone is interested in reviewing or possibly hosting a giveaway for your book. Also, be sure that’s not all your newsfeed is about. You don’t want to become repetitive.
Personally, not only as a reviewer but as a general reader and human, I love connecting with writers/authors. It’s nice to connect with others who have similar interests!
Some of the worst ways authors have requested reviews haven’t been requests at all but more like demands. I hate when someone attempts to connect with me then–BAM!—they automatically add me to their group, send an invitation to join their group or like their page, or send a DM with a link to their book without so much as a hello. Um, no. That’s distasteful and annoying, and it makes me feel like I’m only wanted because people think I can be used.
Behrg: Great thoughts here. And I definitely agree there’s more to bookselling than shouting repeatedly “Buy My Book” into a cold vacuum.
As part of the horror author community, let me say a huge thank you from all of us for all that you do to support indie, hybrid, and traditionally published authors. Honest reviews not only help others discover our work, but can sometimes be the encouragement an author needs to keep doing what we do. Any last words you’d like to share with authors, fellow reviewers or casual readers?
Miranda: Famous last words? Yes! I’m sorry I’m behind on everything right now. I’ll forever be the White Rabbit. I was born late, baby, and that’s stuck with me.
Behrg: Ha! If you weren’t behind on something you wouldn’t be able to call yourself a writer or reviewer! 🙂
Thanks again to Miranda for joining us in this interview series. For those who would like to connect with her, considering her Jack Reacher like skills of staying off the grid, your best bet will be to follow the links below! Be kind to each other.
Miranda Crites is a reader, writer, book reviewer, photographer, and lover of horror from the ghostly woods of rural West Virginia.
The writing bug bit Miranda at a very early age. She was pretty much born with a pen and a camera in her hands. She won the young writers’ contest in first grade and received her first camera as a gift when she was nine years old.
When not writing, Miranda enjoys spending time with her family. She and her family spend a lot of time off the grid where they are building a cabin in the supposedly haunted woods.
Miranda is self-employed. She and her husband create large and small vinyl decals, t-shirts, signs, and a plethora of creative customized items.
Some of her many hobbies when time allows are: making unique crafts and artwork, painting, hiking, and, of course, photography.
She has a diploma for Writing for Children and Teenagers although most of her current work is horror fiction and poetry.
Miranda is a member of Team Kendall Reviews at www.KendallReviews.com where you can find her horror book reviews and her monthly feature, Miranda Snaps, which generally contains horror fiction and photography.
Miranda is one of “The Thirty,” which is a group of thirty authors who are each taking a turn in writing a chapter of an in-progress horror novel.
You can follow Miranda on Instagram Miranda_C_rites
Follow Miranda on Twitter @Miranda_C_rites
Find Miranda on Instagram @miranda_c_rites
You can find out more about Miranda via her website www.mirandacritesreadsandwrites.com
A former child actor turned wanna-be rockstar, The Behrg is the author of the Internationally best-selling novel Housebroken and the thrilling Creation Series. His short work can be found in anthologies from Bloodshot Books, Comet Press, Omnium Gatherum, and Cemetery Dance. A mental health advocate, Behrg often explores the themes of mental illness within his work, albeit within a horror backdrop.
Behrg lives in Southern California with his wife and four kids where he still plays in a band, plays in fictional worlds of his own creating, and plays—quite poorly, he might add—at being an adult.
When coloring, he does not stay within the lines.
Stalk him at www.thebehrg.com
Check out The Behrg’s GoodReads page HERE
The Behrg’s Amazon author page can be found HERE
Follow The Behrg on Twitter @TheBehrg
Facebook: Do people still use that thing?
The Behrg Free Fiction: HERE