My Review of – Anatomy of a Darkened Heart (Dark Victoriana Collection Book 1)

This wonderful review started my weekend off wonderfully. Take a moment to read the latest kind words about my book!

An Authors Blog



Abigail Delilah is the firstborn of three Whitestone children – and she is the most regretted.

But is it really her fault?

She can’t help that the revelation of Father’s wretched secret coincides with her birth. She can’t help the fear she feels during Mother’s psychological – and physical – assaults. As the shadows grow stronger over her soul and the noose of pain tightens around her neck, Abigail will find out which is stronger: her family’s wicked assumptions about her or her true self.

My Review.

Firstly, the cover. I think it has to be the prettiest, creepiest most perfect cover for a book I’ve seen in some while.

The story isn’t super long, which for me is a plus because I’m slower than molasses on a cold day when it comes to reading. I started this book when I was 31, and now I’m eight hundred…

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50% off ANATOMY OF A DARKENED HEART on Smashwords

Through March 11, Anatomy of a Darkened Heart is discounted by 50% on Smashwords. You can buy it for $1.50, less than a Starbucks coffee! Just use the coupon code RAE50 at checkout to take advantage of the sale. Click here to download a sample and/or buy my ebook on Smashwords.

Don’t forget, Locke and Keye will be published soon, so now is your chance to read the first book in the Dark Victoriana Collection at half price. Enjoy!


Review of “Anatomy of a Darkened Heart” by Christie Stratos

I’m so thrilled with the amazing review of ANATOMY OF A DARKENED HEART from Sunshine Somerville! My smile is stuck on my face! Her blog review is wonderful and her YouTube review is awesome too. They have different details, so be sure to check them both out:
Thank you, Sunshine!

Sunshine Somerville

26813854This felt like a book I would’ve had to read in an English Literature class in college – and I mean that in a good way.  Everything about the writing and the story felt legitimately true to the period, like this was an old, classic book I’d somehow missed all these years.

The writing is phenomenal.  It’s not a long book, and the author makes every word count.  Her descriptions are perfectly refined to give the reader exactly the amount of detail you need. The  plot certainly isn’t action-packed (that wouldn’t fit the genre at all), but the slow build works very well as you focus on the psychological aspects of the story.  I was never bored because the tension constantly increases as matters of the heart grow more and more complicated.

This book is, after all, about how these characters are “darkened.” I absolutely loved how I started thinking…

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How to Ruin an Ending in One Easy Move

The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945) was a fantastic movie. Heartbreaking, suspenseful, psychological. Yes, one hour and 15 minutes of it was great. The last 5 minutes, however, were horrendous. You see, this movie suffered from Cop-out Ending Disorder, and it ruined the entire thing.

Spoilers are included in this post, but don’t worry. If you watch the movie, you’ll be so confused by the ending that only the final screen’s warning will hint at what actually happened. “In order that your friends may enjoy this picture, please do not disclose the ending.” That was the only thing that told me the filmmakers hadn’t gone crazy. I had to really think about what on earth I just watched and only then did I finally understand. That’s when I got really annoyed.

Imagine you spend time writing a deep, sometimes slightly disturbing psychological suspense movie script. You write it all the way to the end and you have two choices: (1) satisfy moviegoers with something that fits the rest of the movie or (2) show that none of the intensity that led to the ending ever happened. That’s right, 30 minutes worth of movie were for naught. And somehow, for some unfortunate reason, Universal Pictures decided that #2 was the ending for them.

Even while you’re watching the bad ending, you think you know where it’s going. You think the main character has gone insane and it’ll end on a fittingly disconcerting note, slightly creepy and still within the movie code (in this time period, movies had to adhere to a movie code where everyone gets their just desserts, essentially). But no. It turns out none of the most satisfyingly dark stuff ever happened and everything is okay and everyone lives happily ever after. In other words, they’ve chosen the dream trope. Oh, thank goodness it was only my imagination!

I don’t know about you, but the disappointment in this kind of cop-out forces me to hate the movie as a whole and want to rewrite it with the much better ending it should been given the dignity to have. If you, reader of my blog, are a writer, please don’t do this to me or to your book. It’s not fair to your readers, your characters, or your writing in general. Do something with your ending that will satisfy and, if possible, surprise. It’s 100% worth the effort to come up with something that is, at the very least, appropriate to the rest of the story. If readers remember your book based on the last thing they read, your ending had better make the whole experience worth it.

That’s my editorial rant for the day.

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Fiction Binoculars

When Monday is a national holiday, it gets a pass.


One of the most important things creativity can be used for is not necessarily pushing your own views, but zooming in on something that needs more attention. In Joe Compton’s Amongst the Killing, it was how multidimensional the pain of loss can be and that it can cause self-destruction. In Jason Greensides’ The Distant Sound of Violence, it was recognition of how undervalued life can be and the spiderweb effect that can have on others, directly and indirectly. And in my book Anatomy of a Darkened Heart, it was the irreparable damage that can be done when someone is continually taught they’re worthless or wicked.

These messages aren’t meant to get you down. They’re meant to bring attention to things that aren’t talked about often enough. They’re meant to make you think about those who go through things you can’t imagine, to help you feel compassion for things you may never truly understand (hopefully). And they’re meant to warn you of situations you may not have seen coming before, situations you may be better prepared for after you read about them, even in fiction. They’re meant to help you reflect in an introspective way and to see more in others. Imagine how flat our lives might be without reading about others in places, relationships, and cultures so different from our own.

The best fiction makes us feel as if we’ve lived another life. And the best fiction of all makes us question any one-dimensional opinions we had before reading, especially ones we weren’t aware we had.

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Ambiance Travel

Somehow I thought Mondays would become extinct in the new year. No such luck.


I couldn’t find a quote that expressed my point accurately so I made my own. 🙂

We would all love to go and write wherever inspires us, both in general and for specific works. Maybe you’re writing something that requires a dark atmosphere, or maybe your piece takes place on the beach and the sound of ocean waves would make a difference to your descriptive powers. Maybe you’re dying to visit a fantasy world and write there for a while. Even if your ideal surroundings are nearby, you can’t always be where you want to when you want to.

Enter YouTube!

I recently found some videos that have been making a big difference in my writing motivation. Sleep Ambient HD is technically meant to help you relax and sleep, but take a look at the images, especially the moving ones, and listen to all the great sounds that would come naturally in each place. Have a video up on your computer full screen while you write in your notebook, or put your Word/Pages/Scrivener doc next to your chosen scene. Hear the sounds of the area and see it while you write. I’m loving the ability to feel like I’m in these places while I sit in the comfort of my own home. I like the autumn bridge video, the forgotten shipwreck, the clear Caribbean ocean, and this entire playlist, particularly gentle balcony rain. I like them all, but these are especially useful for me right now.

If you want to sit by the fire, Virtual Fireplace has loads of fires in different atmospheres. I’m in love with this pub fireplace scene, I’m using this very soft crackling fireplace a lot, or how about the Green Dragon Inn from The Hobbit?

Speaking of fantasy, the channel ASMR Rooms lets you spend time in Harry Potter settings! Spend time at Hagrid’s place, the Gryffindor common room (or Slytherin for that matter), or in the Great Hall…at Christmas!

Pair any of these videos and their ambient sounds with music you love and you’ll experience a kind of inspiration you’ve never felt before.

There are tons of channels that make these kinds of videos and I’m so happy they do. I feel like I can spend time in whole other worlds whenever I want. There are so many times I don’t have time to go somewhere or I’m not able to, whether physically, monetarily, time wise, or because it doesn’t exist in real life. Now there are no limitations to where I can go and get inspired for my writing. Even if I want that coffee shop vibe at 1 a.m. on a Wednesday, I can have it. Just press “play”.

Top 10 Victorian New Year’s Traditions & Superstitions

10 superstitions and traditions of the Victorians on New Years Eve and New Years Day. Fascinating!

Victorian Trading Co. | The Official Blog

Prince Albert may have contributed the Tannenbuam to Victorian Christmas. The queen did him one better with a holiday even more prominent: Hogmanay.

The Scottish new year celebration gifted England with hundreds of bizarre superstitions and cultural rituals.

Without further ado, VTC presents the Top 10 Victorian New Years’ Traditions:

1. Matchmaking


New Year’s Eve was no extraordinary affair among Victorian high society. But New Year’s Day was marked by a marathon of social traditions. Wealthy Victorians would hold open houses, inviting all the local eligible bachelors into their homes to meet their unmarried daughters. What ensued was not unlike modern-day “speed-dating.” A young man would likely receive invitations from a number of households and would spend 15 minutes or so chatting with the resident young woman (or women) therein before moving on to his next engagement.

Some gentlemen scholars only wish to partake in libations with no interest toward conversation…

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