How do people find their Beta-Readers?
I have no idea. When ever I ask someone this question they tell me to ask friends or family and some have even mentioned finding one online. These suggestions all make sense but for some it’s not that easy.
I love to write. I may not be great at it but I do enjoy it. There is nothing else like it. The ability to create an entire universe with just a blank page, 26 letters, 10 numbers and a few punctuation marks is amazing to me. I love, love, love it!
But once I complete a story what do I do with it? Get someone to read it, right? Hell’s yeah! I need to find me a Beta-Reader.
Well, that proved to be the hardest part of the entire experience. The friends and family around who promised to read for me once I was done suddenly became busy. They were so scared they might have to give negative feed back they completely stepped away. Someone suggested I look on-line but for every positive review I read about one site there were three negative ones. A little scary for a first timer.
Finally one of my friends and co-workers stepped up to the plate. Month’s prior she was the one I threw the story idea at and even though it was not her cup of tea she saw that I was so excited about it she encouraged me to follow it through and I did. Once she found out no one else would read it she stepped up and volunteered. Never reading an Urban Fantasy before she was a little apprehensive but willing.
We discussed it and came to the conclusion to take it one chapter at a time. I would send her one chapter she would take notes and then ask for the next chapter when she was ready. That way if she wanted to stop reading she could. No hurt feelings. All I asked was that she be TOTALLY HONEST.
And she was. I received e-mails with correction’s, questions, or suggestions at the end of each chapter. It was great because it was a step forward and after being stuck looking for a Beta moving forward is exciting. Now don’t get me wrong she was also very positive. I would get e-mails saying “OMG! I need the next chapter now!” I think the funniest comment she made was “It’s a real book. When I read it, it doesn’t sound like the you from work.” I took that as a huge compliment. I also loved going into work and seeing her excited with question’s about the story (never reading anything paranormal/fantasy before) and characters and how it made her feel. How some parts were funny, emotional and sometimes “creepy” (but she liked it).
I will admit it. I’m not aggressive, I’m goofey and silly most of the time and I think that’s what made most of my friends and family (including my husband) not take me very seriously and that’s okay. I’ll own that. But I do want to thank my wonderful Beta-Reader who stepped miles out of her comfort zone to help and encourage me.
There was an article recently in the Wall Street Journal under their Bookshelf column called:
Darkness to Visible,
Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?
The link is here for anyone who hasn’t read it yet: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303657404576357622592697038
After reading the article I was so disheartened that I wanted to speak out but the small keys on my handheld weren’t big enough to help express how angry the article made me. I had to wait to break out the big keyboard. BAM! HERE I AM!
The article opens with a mother of 3 who goes to a bookstore to purchase a book for her 13 year old. She is so overwhelmed by the darkness on the Young Adult shelves that she leaves the store with nothing. That right there tells me she didn’t look hard enough. Anyway the article continues by attacking a few Young Adult books currently on my shelf for their dark or graphic approaches.
I wish my young adult life was full of rainbows and ponies but it wasn’t. My teen years consisted of living in teen shelter’s (2 stints at 30days a piece), baby shelter’s when my time at the teen shelter’s was exhausted and then finally a couple foster homes until I was 18. This happened because the child care system was trying to “help/protect me”. Protection is scary. I’ve seen life’s many faces and I will tell you, it’s dark and can get really graphic really fast.
Today I am a wife, a mother of two beautiful wee ones, an insurance agent by day (again seeing some not so pretty things) and a writer.
As a mother I talk to my children every day and encourage them to talk to me. I remind them regularly that they can speak to me about anything and right now they do. I hope to keep this open communication active as they grow older into their teen years and beyond. The funny thing about teens/young adults is that they will only approach you if you are approachable. How do I know this? I was a teen. Yes, I said it. I was a teen. I swear it! I even have papers to prove it!
One of the worst feelings I remember from my teen years was the isolation of dark situations. Is every home like mine? What if I’m the reason everything is so bad? Is there something wrong with me? What if someone finds out, will everyone hate me? Am I a freak?
YA books deal with everyday situations and help our children understand that they are not alone in their darkness and that there can be light at the end of their tunnels. It also teaches compassion and understanding for those who are faced with overwhelming circumstances.
Young Adult books can open the lines of communication and makes topics more approachable with their peers and at home, but only if you are willing to listen. If you condemn these real life everyday topics you will isolate the real everyday children dealing with them. They may not be your children but it could be one of their cousin’s, friends or classmates that chose your child as the person to confide in. Knowing that you are closed off to such topics do you think your child will bring the situation to you for help? Probably not. And then what? You yell and scream that these things should not be discussed, so should someone dealing with one of these problems be ashamed or even quiet? No!
If you go through life with blinders on you’re bound to hit something, HARD! Don’t force these blinders on your children because you won’t always be there to keep them in place. Instead support and listen to your children and stop condemning those who are not affraid to approach and shine a light on such real and difficult topics.
One of the books attacked was by Jackie Morse Kessler the brilliant author of Rage. Follow the link to see her fantastic response http://tinyurl.com/3pfjfo9
Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go: they merely determine where you start.
“Who motivates you?” “Who is your inspiration?” most people will give the positive answer. Something pretty and well thought out, polished and maybe even rehearsed. But would it be truthful?
Inspiration is not always pretty.
I like to bounce around in blogs and see what’s going on, what other authors and people are talking about in the writing world. Sometimes I comment but most of the time I don’t. It’s not that I do not want to but because some of the commentors are so strong on their stance on grammar that I always fear that I may put a comma in the wrong place and instantly be judged. For life. Blackballed. It’s an awful feeling.
I love to tell stories but sometimes my grammar is not the best that it could be. Am I working on that? Yes. But for now it is still a work in progress. When working around a rotating swing shift schedule and little one’s it’s a little harder than just taking a course.
Anyway…What I have found in my bouncing around are more and more people who say they can not truly respect someone who does not read for entertainment. And yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion and my opinion is that I don’t agree.
One of my biggest inspirations in life was my birth mother. She still to this day can not read. Knowing this as a child I read everything I could get my hands on because I did not want to be her (See, not so pretty inspiration). This lead to my love of reading and (a little further down the line) writing.
I know other people who do not find reading enjoyable because of the frustration’s of Dyslexia, A.D.D. or sometimes it’s just not encouraged or easily accessible.
I was raised in a household where english was a second language (until we got older) and funding was tight (food before books). Day-to-day living was about survival not dreaming. I was lucky enough that the Philadelphia school systems encouraged independent reading. They would actually hold a book fair once or twice a year where you could go to the library, hand in your ticket and get a free book. It was beautiful.
I always picked fiction books. My real life was hard enough without having to read someone elses troubles. Do you know how terrible it is that after reading someone’s heart wrenching/tragic auto-biography you look at the book and think “That’s it. Cry baby.” Let me tell you, you feel like a cold-hearted beast. I feel a little wrong for admitting it now but… I’m being truthful. As a kid this was how I felt.
I would lose myself in far-away lands with monster’s and hero’s on a daily basis. The second I got my new free book I would start reading and wouldn’t put it down until I was done. I walked home reading (dangerous, I know.) I ate diner reading and would even take my bath reading.
I didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer, that was something I discovered later through my love of reading. The love of reading that developed through my childhood. Inspired by a mother who could not read. My grandmother that raised me who could barely read or speak english but worked like a dog. Close relatives that suffered with ADD or Dyslexia but who have many wonderful talent’s that I do not. Suffering through poverty so bad that there was nothing else to do but read and an enviroment so hostile you prayed to be able to escape if only in your mind through a book.
Inspiration is not alway’s pretty.
I’m off to write!
Neighbor: Hi! Where have you been? I haven’t seen you around. (big bright welcoming smile)
You: I’ve been working on a project. (an awkward smile for your half confession)
Neighbor: What kind of project? (head tilting with curiosity)
You: I’m writing a book. (holding breath because this is the first time you have admitted this to anyone other than a close friend and family member)
Neighbor: Oh (brows connecting in disappointment, big bright smile slowly turning into a frown) What’s it about? (cringing)
You: Young Adult Urban Fantasy (biting the bullet and just going for it)
Neighbor: Uh Oookay. Well, it was nice seeing you again and good luck with that. (quick smile and turn to hurry to back to their side of the fence)
Now they will avoid eye contact with you for the next few days, weeks, months or maybe even years. Your hearts in your throat, your guts feel like they’ve been juiced and your confidence has taken a major dip.
As a newbie writer this could be a very uncomfortable conversation. Your confession to the outside world “YES! YOU ARE A WRITER!”
It’s a hard thing to do especially when someone asks “What do you have out?” and your answer is…”Nothing, yet.”
Don’t let it discourage you. If this is something you love, OWN IT! If you write for yourself or to share with others you are a writer. But don’t forget to actually do the writing. It’s kinda important to the declaration.
I really wasn’t comfortable letting the outside world know what I was doing until I had a finished manuscript, over 300 pages filled with one cohesive thought. Now it was only a first draft but it was a whole first draft and man was that a good feeling. Why did I feel so scared? I don’t know. I’m human. I find it easier to tell people my Grandmother was a wrestler then telling them I write. Trust me, telling people your Grandmother is a wrestler will get you some strange looks and comments.
That’s not a problem anymore. I write. It’s not the only thing I do but it is something I love and who doesn’t like talking about things they love.
Today I have decided to start my own blog. No shit right!
What I mean is I used to post at the Davishaigh blog but started feeling guilty using it as a platform for projects that were not Davishaigh related. So, here I am! The Davis from Davishaigh. I will be popping over there to discuss our joint projects that are in the works but here it’s all about Davis.
In case we haven’t met before I am Merced Davis. I’m a mother, a wife and I have a day job outside of the house with a commute that would cause most people to go mad. I’m busy just like the rest of the world but because I love it I also find time to write. I love getting lost in the Supernatural world where anything is possible.
I have “co-authored” a Paranormal Romance and am finishing up a Young Adult Urban Fantasy that has my Beta-Readers pretty excited. I hope to talk about it more in the future and let everyone know how it’s progressing. In the mean time I will be documenting cool things I may find for newbie writers like myself or just mumbling. Everyday’s a gamble!
Now, I’m off to write.