Beta-Review Blues(?)

Yesterday I came home to see a message from one of my beta-readers and a PDF of her notes. I felt at once excited and wary by what the notes would contain. Would she like it? Hate it? Tell me to jump off a cliff? It’s like opening a present when you don’t know if the contents will be something awesome or maybe something that will kill you.

“Look! A present!” Opens box and it explodes.
~The end~

I’ll admit that I had a hard time reading it. I was nervous but my doubts were quickly dispelled. She started off being complimentary, stating my book “has a real chance at a main-stream publisher and main-stream audience,”  before going in and giving me her impressions and suggestions. Some I agreed with, others I didn’t, but at no time did she come across as either cruel or condescending. My friend gave me her opinions, the reasons for stating them, and I felt that she truly wants to help me write a great book.

One of the main problems with my present draft, and it’s one that another reader addressed, is that I take too long to get my story started. My hook doesn’t come until chapter six and it needs to be moved a closer to the beginning. There are a few story-lines that need to be reduced or eliminated. Then there’s some behavioral issues that need to be fixed, ones that as a man I never would have thought of but a woman would question immediately. I guess that means I don’t know women as well as I thought! To all my female readers, please don’t roll your eyes at me. Don’t think I didn’t see that.

I also have some opportunities to fix stilted dialogue. I already knew that, by the way. It’s one of my weaknesses in that I can say everything I want to say, as expressively as I want, using language as it ought to be used, and how I have trouble using it in real life. Sometimes it comes out skewed; technically correct but not quite right. I’ll have to do a read-through or a hundred to fix it.

There are a few more suggested corrections, but I don’t want to bog this down by listing everything in the review. Besides, I don’t want to give away the ending. You’ll have to buy the book to see! Every one of her points will be considered and I’m sure I’ll make most, if not all, of the changes she thinks my book needs. I trust her judgment.

And now to the blues part of my review….

I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO! Sorry for yelling, it’s just that I’m sorting out her suggestions, trying to work it out in my head, needing to find a way to implement the changes without destroying the integrity of the whole. I learned that a book is a lot like a tapestry and pulling at one thread can unravel the whole story if one is not careful.

What I’ll need to do is write an outline of what I have and then create an outline of what I want the finished product to be. I’ve never plotted, never outlined, never had an overarching plan of what I want from my story. I may have a general idea in mind, but I’ve been a pantser since I started. If I do this – and by if I mean I’m going to do it – it’ll be a new skill I’ll need to learn.

All that I need now is to decide on a time-frame to finish this. Tentatively, I’ll give myself the rest of the month to get this rewrite done, since I’ve never done this comprehensive a rewrite with suggestions in mind. It’s scary, which is to say exciting, and I can’t wait to start. I also can’t wait to finish it so that I can begin to look for someone to proofread the manuscript, then I can find a cover artist!

Now if only I could find a title!

Whilst I wait…

I’ve been twiddling my thumbs, my WIP in the hands of my friends, waiting for them to finish reading and listening to their critiques. I’m trying not to dwell on it, but I confess that I’m harassing on of them. “What do you think? Huh? Huh? Well, is it good!? TELL ME NOW!!!!!

To keep my insanity at bay, I’ve pulled out my 2014 NaNo and began to read it. Not too shabby, if I’m allowed to toot my own horn. I’d pat my back, but I’m writing this in bed, with my laptop balanced on my lap, if you can believe it, and I don’t want to get up. Then again, I don’t have a horn either. I’m belaboring this so I’ll move on.

It’s odd to read something that I’ve written, especially after I’ve let it sat awhile without touching it. I get wrapped up, wondering what’s coming next. I was at that point when it abruptly ended. No more story. What happens next you stupid writer!?

Oh, wait, that’s me. I need to sit down and figure that out. I wanted this to be a one book story, but I think it may require a sequel to get to where I want to go. And this is just the back story to another novel that I’ve already written but needs to be rewritten and edited. So much work just to tell a story. I swear!

But it’s keeping me busy, and that’s good. Now I need to get back to it. I need to know what coming next. I have no idea, and it’ll drive me crazy if I don’t figure it out, and I’m crazy enough as it is.


Answering the call

I found a couple of brave readers to give my manuscript a quick once over, so you can rest easy. I, however, am a nervous wreck. Will they like it? Hate it? Turn me over to the grammar police who will decide that I should die due to my many grammatical infractions? Maybe I should try to relax and find something better to do.

So I took out another manuscript, and I’m glancing over it, wanting to see what I need to do to finish that one. I’m not too invested in completing another work, but it’ll give me something to do, and I need to get into the habit of writing everyday. It’ll also take my mind off of the fact that two readers hold the key to my happiness or misery in their hands.

So, no pressure.

What’s with the crickets?

The final chapter has been dealt with, and I’m done. Walking away from the book. I can do no more! I’m happier with this ending so I’m glad I decided to rework it. There’s more of a finality to it than my first attempt which I like. Now I need some readers. Anyone up for it?

*Crickets chirping*

Oh, it’s like that? I’m not surprised. That’s fine. I have back up plans, which is to say I’ll make something up. I would have liked to have a few writers give me their take, but I’ll start with a few of my friends and hope someone says yes. Anyone?

*Crickets looking around awkwardly*

I think I need new friends.

C’est la vie!

I need an alpha…reader that is

Okay, I’m almost done with my rewrites. That went faster than I had expected. Most of the changes happened in the middle of the book and there wasn’t a lot at the end that needed to be tweaked. I’m happy for it. I’m mulling changing the last chapter, however. I find that it’s not satisfying. It’s just flat.

For now, I’m sitting at 91,570 words, which surprises me since I’m not usually that wordy. I’ll get some feedback before I try to subtract from that total, though I don’t want to lose too much. I want to start looking for a few alpha readers. I desperately need some opinions as to whether the story works or not, what if any changes need to be done. I’m not looking for proofreading or editing work, just a general sense of what the reader takes away from it.

My feeling is I like the premise of the book, and I’m hoping my execution delivers. This all began as a short story back in 2012, which evolved to become that year’s NaNo. I’ve been tweaking it ever since. I’m ready to be done with it and let it out to the world. It’s part of me trying to let go. I want to publish it this year. I can do it. I will do it. I just don’t know how!

That’s okay. Let me work on the ending and if anyone wants to alpha read, let me know. I’m looking for no more than a couple of readers. You can either comment below or shoot me an email at Once I have that feedback, I’ll take your comments to heart, make any necessary corrections, then look for someone to proofread.

This is getting scary. Better not think too much more about it or I’ll get overwhelmed.