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!

Snark and gratitude

Yesterday when I arrived at work, one of my assistant managers saw me and waved me over to the store manager’s office, which is always a great way to start of the day. She then handed me a small envelope in which a Starbucks gift card and a thank you card had been placed. It was a simple thank you for my hard work getting the store ready for inventory.

The amusing part is when she handed me the card, she begged me not to write a review of the thank you card. It cracked me up, but I immediately scanned the card for spelling and grammatical errors. I found none. Damn it! Well, I appreciate the gesture and the accompanying snark.

Book Review: Find My Baby

Save My Baby © 2014 Mitch Lavender

Save My Baby © 2014 Mitch Lavender

Happy August my friends! I can’t believe another school year will soon be starting, not that it affects me directly. Still, the summer will be waning soon, and all that will be left is to settle in for another fun winter, but cold is still several months away.

In the meantime, I have another book I would like to share with you. Find My Baby is Mitch Lavender‘s debut novel. Find My Baby follows a computer hacker turned IT security professional Zachary Foxborne as he is given the most complex case of his life. A mysterious email that was delivered to every email address that seemed to come from nowhere. Untraceable, a ghost.

The H@x0r Hoax, as it is called, leaves security professionals scrambling, trying to decipher the intent behind the message. No one can find anything malicious in the message, no Trojans or viruses, just a seemingly innocuous mailing, but whose implications seem crystal clear to many. A test run from someone unknown, who could wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world.

Through his work, Zachary become known to Ratmir, a Ukrainian who had figured out how to beat the system, to become invisible online. He had planned on selling the code, until Zachary came along and thwarted his plan. Now he wanted revenge, and he found the opportunity.

Lucy, Zachary’s wife had been unable to carry a child to term, and had lately become unable to become pregnant. After much searching, she settled on adopting a child from a foreign orphanage, one from Ukraine.

Once this becomes known to Ratmir, he devices a plan to keep the child hostage. In order to proceed with the adoption, Zachary has to pay a ransom, deciphering a manuscript that Ratmir desperately wants. Can he do so in time, or will he and Lucy lose the child that had hoped to call their own?

At the beginning of the novel, I was intrigued by the level of detail the author put in. Computer terms and explanations into what they meant, helped create the setting, which turned out to be short-lived. It wouldn’t be until the end of the book that Zachary’s computer knowledge would once again come to the forefront.

What I liked about the story was that Mitch Lavender displays his knowledge of the IT sector. Write what you know, and he did. Where it fell apart was that for all the build up of suspense, the rising tension between our hero and his antagonist, there seemed to be no payoff, no moment conflict where our hero is in mortal peril.

The danger is resolved in such a way that it left me unsatisfied. I don’t mind a happy ending, but it has to be earned, and felt that neither Zachary nor Lucy earned it. Too much promise and for naught. I liked the premise and the build up, just not the climax and resolution.

For this reason, I feel I would be doing a disservice to rate it highly, but I feel comfortable giving it a 3 out of 5 stars. There is some merit to the novel, and I truly believe the author shows promise as a novelist, but this first showing left me wanting more.


List of Book Reviews
Next Review – Back From Chaos
Previous Review – The Ship

My day

What a day! The time is 10:32 p.m. as I begin to write this, and I’m just now becoming coherent. It was a long day, waking up at 4:00 in the morning so I could make it to work. Why is it when I have to wake up that early, my body and my brain conspire against me and decide not to let me sleep? By the time I made it home, a little after 4:00 this afternoon, I had time for a quick snack, then I crashed. I didn’t wake up until 8:30.

Now that I’m awake, and I will be until God knows when, I guess I should try to do something a little productive. I posted my last review for The Ship, which I published last week, on Amazon and Goodreads. At least I got something accomplished. Now I need a new book to read.

I had been approached to do another review, but I’m still waiting to get a copy of the book. I’ve been waiting a month now. If I don’t get it, I’ll find another book next week. There are always authors wanting to get their books read and peer-reviewed, so that won’t be an issue. I’ve found several authors on Goodreads looking for reviewers. Maybe I’ll dedicate some time tomorrow to find someone new.

It’s getting late. I should try to work on my NaNoWriMo short story. I haven’t touched that in a week. Yikes! I need to get back to it. I seem to allow everything else in my life distract me from writing. I hope it gets better soon. If it continues to rain tomorrow, I should have not problem sitting down and typing out a decent word count for a change. I need to do that tonight.

Have a great night, and if you have a book in need of a reviewer, please don’t hesitate to contact me. My email is joe@joehinojosa.com. Catchy email, isn’t it? Hope to hear from you and good night!

Checking in for the thrill of it

Book review is done and I will post it tomorrow at noon. For now, I have no other books in the queue, waiting to be read and reviewed. It’s an odd feeling, both sad and a relief. Next up, I can start reading Divergent. The box set is sitting on my desk, begging to be read. Who am I to ignore the pleas of a book?

Right now, I’m going to get back to work on one of my books I’m writing. At the moment, I have some sense of where I want to go, so I’d better write while the writing is good. I hope that makes sense. To put it another way, I need to write while I feel inspired to do so. Some days, it’s a struggle to write my own name, but you know what that’s like, right?

Better get to work, so for now, good night and sweet dreams. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow.