Tuesday Talk- Beta Readers Part Two

The concept of Beta readers have been around for a long time. While some swear by them, others find them more hassle than they are worth.

When asked her thoughts on Beta Readers, T. A. HERNANDEZ said, “As writers, once we’ve worked on a story for so long and poured so much of ourselves into it, it can be very difficult to see some of the flaws with the plot, setting, characters, etc. A beta reader will be able to see the things you can’t. As an outsider, they’re looking at the story from a completely different perspective and can offer valuable insights about which aspects of the story work and which don’t.” 

Rob Baker, author of Constant Traveller R801168, used Beta Readers for both his books. “Beta readers are a test run for real life, for when the public reads your work. Just had 7 beta readers for my second book, now at the editor.” 

One author compares using multiple Beta Readers to having too many cooks in the kitchen. “There is a such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen and of course that causes chaos because everyone has different opinions and sometimes those opinions clash with other beta readers. I tried to follow their suggestions, opinions, etc. making those corrections, but, it just ended up a total mess. It was like having too many voices in my head and it was causing me great distress.”Angel M.B. Chadwick

This weeks Tuesday Talk I focused more on worth of Beta Readers. Although I didn’t get any discussion here, I did find great discussions through Goodreads and the internet.

What is a Beta Reader

Beta Readers or Alpha readers is a non professional readers who reads a manuscript with the intent of looking over the material to find and improve elements such as grammar and spelling. But they also suggest improvements within the story, its characters, and setting. These improvements could be anything from pointing out plot holes, problems with continuity, difficulties with characterization or believability, etc. Overall, the point of a Beta Reader is to help the author write a better novel.

Are there Downsides to Beta Readers?

Sure. Just like anything, there are both positives and negatives. Angel M.B. Chadwick provided me with the best overview of her unpleasant experience with Beta Readers.

The Beta Readers Angel found did not seem to have the experience she was looking for and misrepresented their skills. They were not thorough with pointing out grammatical errors or inconsistencies.

“…if you find inconsistencies in my novel give me a detailed and very thorough report of all the inconsistencies and errors don’t just name a few and be vague about the rest. It makes me as the author unable to thoroughly fix the problems.”

Angel talks about not being able to stay in contact with her Bata Readers. She would email them and never hear from them. Overall, her experience sounded really frustrating. To help prevent others from having similar experiences, I have listed ideas or ways to help find the right Beta Reader for your manuscript.

What/who to look for as a beta readers:

First lets talk about who isn’t a good fit- Family, Friends, Significant Others… In a way, they are too close to you. Unintentionally as it may be, there is some predisposition for them to like what you write. Or at least tell you they do. The people you love, love you back and don’t want to hurt your feelings. Because of this, you want to look outside your close circle of trust and look for someone who doesn’t know you.

Ideally, at least one of your beta readers should be someone within your books target audience. This way, you can get an idea of how your book will be perceived.

One of the suggestions was to find Beta Readers who know more about the writing craft than you do. And if you think about this, it makes a lot of sense. If you want to get better at writing, you look to the experts. Same concept goes here- You want feedback from someone who is more knowledgable than you and can help your writing grow.

But the question remains, who do you know if this particular Beta Reader is a good fit?? Well, one suggestion is instead of sending your entire manuscript, just send a couple chapters.

“Another thing that sometimes helps is to only send the first chapter or two to a prospective beta reader, then see what kind of feedback they give (or if you hear back from them at all) before sending the rest of the manuscript. That also gives the beta reader a chance to see if they really want to continue reading.” – T. A. HERNANDEZ

Sending off a couple chapters instead of the entire manuscript also allows the reader to figure out if they would be interested in your story and what kind of feedback you would be getting.

Where to find Beta Readers: 

I think the easiest suggestion is social media and the saying- birds of a feather flock together- easily applies here. As bloggers, we tend to want to connect with people who we share similar interests. Through blogging, you are able to create a reputation for yourself and more than likely if you help others with their writing, they will be more than willing to help you back.

Outside the blogging community, there are other social connections such as the Goodreads group Beta/Proof Readers. Although I am apart of this group, I have yet to participate in any readings. This group has around 1,770 followers and various discussion groups ranging from tools of successful writing, finding Beta Readers, self editing tips, and much more.

Scribophile is another writers aid to help writers. According to the website description, it’s an online writing community for writers of all abilities looking to improve each others work through thoughtful critiques and sharing writing experiences. How this website works is you earn ‘points’ by reading and critiquing other authors writing. When you’ve earned enough points, you can post your own writing for others to critique. The website guarantees at least three thoughtful critiques when you post your writing. And for the last three years the site has been awarded the top 100 best websites for writers.

Wattpad is another website that allows readers to interact and share their thoughts while reading your book. Honestly, I wasn’t too impressed with the website. It was a little more difficult to figure out how the process works but that could just be me. According to the website, you upload your book and create an enticing blurb about it and wait for people to read it. There is no guarantee people will read your work or that you will get insightful critiques back.

A couple responses I did receive mentioned how swapping stories with another author was the best way to find good criticism.

“I generally find that swaps are more likely to work out and ensure that both parties finish reading and providing feedback. The other fantastic thing about swaps is that they give you a chance to critique other writers’ work, which is incredibly helpful to your own writing. I can’t even begin to say how much my writing has improved since I started critiquing for other writers.” – T. A. HERNANDEZ

Better Beta Reads was recommended by Angel M.B. Chadwick. She had amazing success with Deb Rhodes from this website. This website outlines specifically what will be done with your manuscript, what to expect, and how they will approach your writing. Unlike most Beta Readers, her services come with a charge: $50 up to 30k word count, $100 up to 60k word count, $125 up to 100k word count, and $12.50 for every 10k words after. She also provides an editing service to make sure each sentence is “publication ready”. For this service, she charges $1 per page.

When do you use beta readers:

Beta reading is typically done before the story is released for public consumption. But that isn’t always the case. So the question(s) remains- Do you use them after you have written a couple chapters? Half the book? All the book?

Honestly, I think this is a personal preference. You know yourself better than anyone else. For some people, they might need the reassurance while others it takes writing the entire book for them to work out all the kinks.

“I think it’s better to get a beta reader after the manuscript is finished in most cases. I know a couple of authors who write excellent first drafts, but most people–myself included–seem to need a full draft or two to really figure out the story and characters. I just don’t think there’s much point in seeking out feedback until you fix all the problems you know are there already, and that probably takes at least one or two drafts.” – T. A. HERNANDEZ

Revisions, Revisions, Revisions..

Throughout the countless websites I looked at, every single one mentioned the need to present your best work. Which means do not send your first draft. A Beta Reader, in the simplest terms, is a reader and all readers talk within some kind of community. Your story will be talked about. Ask yourself, how do you want your story to be talked about? Do you want them to remember the plot and characters? Or all the frustrating spelling and grammatical errors?

“I can always tell when an author has failed to do this (revisions) and it’s extremely aggravating. First of all, it makes the story incredibly hard to read when you have major inconsistencies and a ton of grammatical errors. Secondly, it makes me as the reader feel like I’m wasting my time. Quite frankly, if you couldn’t be bothered to polish up your own work before you sent it out, why should I have to deal with the mess? It doesn’t have to be perfect, but at least make an effort.” – T. A. HERNANDEZ

One recommendation is to set your manuscript aside for a week (at the very least), then go back to it and make any revisions you see fit. And then do it again.. and again after that.

Suggestions & ideas to keep in mind while working with your Beta Reader:

Now that you found your Beta reader, here are some things to consider.

  1. Beta Reading is a free service (for most). You don’t pay Beta Readers money for their time or their help. So try to make the experience as pleasant and positive as possible. Because really, they are doing you a huge favor.
  2. Be upfront about what you are looking for. If you are looking for specific feedback on your characters for example, then communicate that to your Beta Reader. A suggestion was to provide your Beta Readers with specific questions for them to look for. Personally, I’m not sure how I feel about this. I think it limits your feedback but maybe I’m wrong.
  3. Don’t take it personally. I know you have spent months pouring a part of yourself into your story. And then to have someone else rip it apart can be heartbreaking and hurtful. But try not to take it that way. Be grateful and remember to keep the experience positive. If you don’t agree with the feedback they give, maybe give yourself some time to think about it or maybe skip it. But either way, thank your Beta Reader for their time.
  4. As mentioned above, some have found Beta Readers can disappear on you. Thoughts on this range from the probability of them getting busy to becoming uninterested in your story and just not telling you. If this really worries you, try swaps- swapping stories with other authors. Disappearing doesn’t happen as often because there is a mutual trust to follow through and help each other.
  5. Don’t be afraid to set limits or due dates. If you need this back in three weeks, tell them two. This gives you and your Beta Reader a little wiggle room.
  6. One Goodread author suggested copywriting your manuscript. He mentioned how it only cost $35 and is well worth the piece of mind.

Well, I hope this helps. I think there is a lot of information out there on Beta Readers. Far more than I could ever recap here. Good Luck and let me know what you think.

 

 

Burn, Rewrite, or Reread Book Tag

 

bibliophilewanderlust suggested I try out of the tags she recently did- Burn, Rewrite, or Reread book tag. I had so much fun reading hers, I’m kind of excited to see what I get.

The rules are as follows:

  • Randomly choose 3 books (Tip: Use the “Sort > Random” option on your Goodreads’ Read shelf.).
  • For each group, decide which book to burn, which one to rewrite, and which to reread (a lot like Kiss, Marry, Kill).
  • Repeat until you completed three rounds (or five).

Round One:

Ouch, this is a hard one because I gave these three books a 4/5 star rating.

BURN: Dead Witch Walking. Honestly, I don’t want to burn this book but compared to the other two books, it was my least favorite. So sad…

REWRITE: Reckoning. Even though I really enjoyed this book, I felt terribly sad for the main character Emma. I wouldn’t change much but I possibly make it so things for her don’t go from undesirable to tragic. Maybe give her a little break..

REREAD: Beautiful Player. Oh man, I just love this book and series.

Round Two:

BURN:House of Night. The series showed up when I did this but either way I would burn the books. At first I really enjoyed them but I hated how morally compromised the main character became. Now I just absolutely hate the series!

REWRITE: Dominic. I really did enjoy this book but I would 100% cut back on the language. I am not afraid of swear words but this book was a little over the top. It could use a trimming.

REREAD: Beautiful Stranger. Wow, I think goodreads is trying to tell me something. Maybe I should read this series again. If you haven’t read it, you have to. It’s sexy, fun, and full of strong confident heroines and alpha males.

Round Three

BURN: Down London Road. I know, I am sorry but I hated this book. I liked the writing but it was the main character Jo that pushed me away. I don’t care how unfortunate Jo’s life is or how the author tries to twist her story, in the end she is still a gold digger. She still only dates rich men in hopes they will take care, a.k.a provide for, and eventually she tries to trick them into marriage.

REWRITE: Fever. The story plot is too similar to the first book in this series. I would rewrite it so the idea was the same but the plot itself didn’t follow the same steps as the first book.

REREAD: Caged. I loved the romance and secrets. It’s impossible not to become invested in the main character when so much is happening. You just feel for her and her situation.

 

I would love to know what you thought of my choices. Have you read any of these books? Would you choose the same way?

Happy Wednesday Everyone!!

Updated Running Plan

 

I am finally making progress with my knees. I can’t believe a fall and concussion that happened back in 2010 is what has caused me so many problems with my knees/body. Years of going through physical therapy to end up back at the same spot, multiple doctors telling me I will have to give up running and live with how things are, and all the frustration and tears has brought me to this one moment- a chiropractor who was able to listen to what my previous doctors said and come up with a solution.

When I fell and hit the back of my head in 2010, the concussion I had took my nervous system that runs along my spine and scrunched it up. This caused various points along my body to stop firing. What my last physical therapist was able to do was help me un-scrunch my nervous system with three specific exercises. For my nervous system to stay lengthened, I will more than likely have to do these exercises for the rest of my life. Really, for me it’s a small price to pay to be able to run.

Except I couldn’t run. Every time I ran two to three miles, somewhere in this second mile my left knee would begin to hurt. This brought me to the chiropractor I am seeing now. He discovered because I am unable to fire certain muscles- i.e. my gluteus- I have over developed muscles in my legs that are pulling my knee in the wrong direction when I run. His solution- learn how to reactivate my muscles and then strengthen them.

I will tell you this has not been a fun or easy solution. But I am finally at the point where I get to start strengthening my muscles that were once dormant. Considering how active I am and how much I run, it surprises me how weak some of my muscles are.

 

My goal is still the same- get back to where I was before I got hurt. This is how my workout week is ideally going to look:

  • Monday: Run (Average pace)
  • Tuesday: Weights/Strengthening Exercises
  • Wednesday: Run (Fast pace)
  • Thursday: Weights/Strengthening Exercises
  • Friday: Run (Slow pace)
  • Saturday: Long run (Average to slow pace)
  • Sunday: Rest

If I need to, I can change either Tuesday or Thursday with Sunday. I am going to use this as a general guide but more importantly, I am going to listen to my body. If it needs rest, I am going to rest.

I am really excited to get to a point where running is not painful and something I have to push past. I know I still have a ways to go but I will get there!!

Tuesday Talk- Beta Readers Part One

Tuesday Talks

Every Tuesday I will try to engage you in a question/topic/idea. You are welcome to write in with a suggestion you want to share or maybe talk about next Tuesday. My response is not right for everyone but I am hoping together we can generate some great conversation. And as always, I would love to hear from you on this topic or any topic out there!  

This week I want to focus more on the writing process and take a look into Beta Readers. As an author, there comes a time in your writing (at least for me) where you wonder if you are on the right page. Is the plot moving fast enough? Is there enough or too much detail? Are the characters relatable or being true to themselves? Is this book on the right track?

So many questions go through a writers head, but how do you answer them?

TRUST

Yikes, I said it. And for me, this is one of the scariest things to do. I have put months into the chapters I have written so far and the fear of someone taking my work and calling it their own is very real!

This is my question for the week:

  • How do you feel about Beta Readers? Have you ever been a Beta Reader for a novel? If you have, tell us about your experience. If not, would you ever be interested in being one?
  • And for the writers- do you use Beta Readers when writing your novels? If you don’t, is there a reason why? If you do, how do you go about picking this group of people?

I am really excited to see what everyone says about this. Please join in the conversation and lets find out if Beta Readers are worth the time, effort , but more importantly the TRUST.

Around Friday or Saturday of this week, I will write a recap of all the information I found and the conversation we have had. Happy Talking!!!

Running- Week 12

Monday: 2 miles walk/run
Wow, I am hurting today. I can still feel the effects of getting into wheat from Saturday. Usually I am a bit better than this. But as you can imagine, the run was horrible. I had to walk an enormous amount of times and wanted to die. Yeah Mondays!

Tuesday-Wednesday: Haha, yeah right!
So come to find out I was still eating wheat and ended up getting sick again last night. I think my husband and I have it figured out now. We think the protein powder, although gluten free is also processed in a facility that processes wheat. So I was getting cross contaminated. Not fun. My body feels like it is destroyed and I want to die..

Thursday: 1 Mile
Yes, you read that right, one stinking mile. I don’t want to push myself and get hurt so I am trying to ease back into this. My stomach is a bit better but I am not where I was.

Friday: 3 Miles

I wish I could say that the run was great but it wasn’t. I decided to run with my dog and it did not go well. Two bikers spooked him because they didn’t warn they were passing and as a result he almost tripped me. That with a couple other difficult spots.. lets just say I need to work with him more before he comes back out with me.

Saturday: 4 miles

Running

I am actually really proud with my pace. Although when I reached mile 4, I wanted to die and really struggled to push through. Seeing as my average pace is 10:30, I probably should have slowed down the first three miles. But being as competitive and stubborn as I am, I didn’t.

I still don’t feel like I am back to where I was before getting gluten in my system, but I will get there. I just need to keep plugging the miles. Total miles this week: 10

Tuesday Talk- Blogging Part Two

Blogging is something we all love to do. It gives us the opportunity to connect with others, to share our opinions, and for some it gives them the opportunity to be themselves. Blogging is wonderful but sometimes it’s not always great.

Regardless of what kind of blog you have, everyone has found themselves in a spot of frustration. Whether it’s over not finding the words to write, writers block, or time- we have all been there!

Earlier this week I ask you two questions: I asked if you would list something you have struggled with since joining the blogging community and if you found a way to overcome this struggle. You can find Part One of this post here

Here is what I have found either searching the web or through various responses I received:

  1. Finding followers but also finding followers that participate- comment/like- your posts. As a relatively new blogger, I find this the hardest obstacle to overcome. I have a nice number of followers but I am only ever able to get a handful participating at a time.
    • Solution- Keep trying to engage. I have been trying to come up with different topics that might interest you guys. Sometimes they seem to be more of a hit but others fall flat.
    • Combustible reviews suggested, “I’ve found, when I was first starting out, that one of the best things was to make an effort to be social, meaning going onto other blogs and commenting on their posts. We’re a nosy bunch and more often than not they’re going to check your blog out.”
    • Going off of what Combustible Reviews said, leave comments on other blogs. But you can’t just leave half heated comments like ‘great post’, although that is nice to hear. The key is to make intelligent comments that add something to the post or discussion.
    • Solution- Set time aside each day, or couple days, or once a week- but set time aside to make comments on others posts. Your followers will get to know you and more people will hop over to do the same.
  2. No traffic.. I feel like this kind of goes with the first one. It is beyond discouraging when you look at your stats and see them practically at zero.
    • Solution- At least this is what I have been doing but I really try to roll it off my shoulders. I can’t beg people to read my stuff. My grandma always told me- Don’t borrow trouble- meaning stop worrying about things that you have no control over. I have no control over who reads my blog. All I can do is try my best to connect with others. But in the end, it is up to them (you) on if you want to read my posts.
    • Vineeth suggested finding a target audience- “That’ll help you cope up with the near-zero stats. And as time passes, you’ll eventually get more readers.”
    • Going off of what Vineeth said, take a look at your posts and re-evaluate them. Are you writing something that would be interesting for your target audience? Is what you posted worth attention or just something you put down so you can add a post?
  3. On Balie Sussman blog, one of the frustrations listed is Blogging or Reading Slump. This can mean you aren’t finding the motivation to pick up a book to review, you are at a loss of what to blog about, or maybe you have writers block.
    • Solution- I really think you need to find what works best for you but here are some ideas: Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to write/read/review/blog. You will get back to it but maybe it’s a good idea to take a break. A day away or two won’t kill you.
    • Solution- Try doing something else. If you have a writing block, try writing about something that isn’t your story. Maybe do a couple writing prompts. For reading, pick up an old favorite and read a couple chapters. I don’t think you need to read the entire book but enough to remind you there are good books out there. As far as blogging goes, Maybe as another blog to be a guest blog on yours. Of if you could go off of what they posted. Don’t plagiarize and be adult about it- give credit where it is due. But personally, I don’t think there is a problem with going off of another topic.

I know this isn’t much but I hope what is here helps! Good luck to all the bloggers out there 🙂

Stormwalker (Stormwalker, #1)

Stormwalker

Author: Allyson James
Published: May 4, 2010
Pages: 330

Stars: 3.5 out of 5

Synopsis:

Half-Navajo Janet Begay possesses extraordinary power which is tied to the storms that waft across the desert. The only person who can control her when she’s caught in the storm’s evocative power is Mick, a dark-haired, blue-eyed biker Janet can’t seem to touch with her powers. He can wield fire and not get burned, and Janet’s never sure where he goes when they’re not together.

Together they investigate mysterious disappearances, which Janet fears are tied to her mother’s people, the mythical gods from below the earth. They are helped along the way by Coyote and Crow, but these shapeshifting gods have their own agendas.

Review:

Although the book started off a bit abrasive, I quickly became wrapped up in the mystery and didn’t want to put the book down. To be honest, when I first opened the book, I was a little disappointed that Janet and Mick’s characters were already established with each other. But as I continued to read, the amount of mystery that the author added was intriguing. Usually as you get further into a story, the mysterious element(s) unfolds, you learn more and begin to figure out what’s going on. In this case, the further you get into the story, the more questions you have and the bigger the mystery gets.

Janet is a powerful character with a lot of mystery surrounding her. But trust me, it’s not by her choice. She holds the classic characteristics of a strong heroine who is determined NOT to sit by and watch those she cares about rush into danger without her. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but feel her frustration with how much she is left in the dark. I didn’t love Janet’s character but I didn’t not like her either. Her character was definitely one I am usually drawn to. But I think the thing that is holding me back is the ending, which I will get into more detail later.

Mick’s entrance into this book was perfect! I loved the rough and gruff motorcycle male coming in to swoop the heroine into his arms and ‘save the day’. This scene could have gone wrong if the author hadn’t spent the previous chapters establishing just how strong and independent Janet was. Mick is a mystery. He holds a million secrets and is amazingly good at talking to you for hours without telling you one thing about himself. His love affair with Janet is passionate but frustrating. I loved Mick’s alpha male personality but I still can’t help but feel for Janet. Especially when everything is revealed.

The writing style isn’t the smoothest and it helps to emerge yourself into the story to look past it. And luckily the plot is captivating enough to allow you to do just that. The first half of the book moves really fast but the second half is a little slower. There was a lot of sex scenes but the way they were written was more like a quick overview without much detail. I think a little more detail would have been nice. Overall the plot is fun and interesting. But I think the author could have made some of the scenes a bit deeper.

For example, the story leads up to this big choice Janet has to make. For me it didn’t seem much like a choice. I felt the author rushed the ending and skimmed over this part instead of digging deep into this scene. And because of this, I didn’t really feel like Janet’s character evolved. All the other characters in the book evolve in some way but I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed with how little Janet’s character evolved.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It wasn’t perfect- you kind of have to go along with what is happening and accept things for what they are. But it is a fun, easy, and quick read. There’s a lot of mystery, a spicy romance, and good action.