Thursday, June 24, 2010

yesssssssssssssssssss

Billy D. & the Bully have a plot... with a beginning, middle and even an end.

i need to sleep on it, but i think this is the one.

finally.

i love them, and i can't wait to tell their story.

that is all.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

vloooooog!!!

here goes nuthin'...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

the storyteller

i was terrified of a creature called Gollum long before i'd ever seen the cover of a book called Lord of the Rings.

this is because i learned the stories of hobbits and elves and wizards and rings while walking through the woods as a little girl with a born storyteller.

i remember a band of characters called the "I Don't Care Bears" as vividly as i remember any cartoon i watched as a kid.

this is because that same storyteller encouraged me to create my own worlds in addition to the ones fed to me on TV.

to this day, i tend not to read books by King or Koontz, because i prefer to hear the tales recounted by the storyteller.

the best i can offer in return is to let the storyteller be my always-first beta reader. thankfully, he likes my stories too.

thank you, Dad, for 31 years of stories.
Happy Father's Day

Thursday, June 17, 2010

world-building and other weaknesses

...or maybe i shouldn't say weaknesses so much as things i have to work at, because they don't come naturally.

not every writer is good at every element of storytelling. some writers can plant plot twists and revelations on the page with barely a thought. some can spin similes and metaphors so unique you don't even notice the device in use. personally, i like to think i don't suck at pace or voice, and occasionally i come up with an original concept or unique characters.

but there are important parts of storytelling that i have to work harder at - some very important parts.

world-building, for instance. as much as i love reading fantasy or dystopian stories, i shy away from writing them, because i find the world-building involved overwhelming. i have a hard enough time keeping track of world-building in my contemporary stories (like making sure my characters aren't having a whispered conversation, when i placed them a football field away from each other).

something else i struggle with? - plot.
yeah.
kind of important.

right now, i have two decent plots (beginning-middle-end) that i should be writing.
instead, the only words that are coming to me belong to two characters with no story. if i keep writing scenes for billy and dane, pretty soon i'm going to have an entire book of scenes strung together with no story. but i just can't bring myself to work on anything else... because i'm drawn more to my characters than to my story lines.

what about you?
do you rock at endings but suck at dialog? are you great at keeping up momentum through that murky middle, but terrible at creating emotion on the page? what are your strengths and weaknesses?

Monday, June 14, 2010

my purpose in life

...is to serve on a jury.
...apparently.

let's file this one under miscellaneous monday, shall we? because i don't have anything in particular to say about writing or publishing today, and there are so many other interesting things to blab about.

#1 being... JURY DUTY.

fact: i am 31 years old.
fact: as of today, i have been summoned to jury duty 7 TIMES! that's right. SEVEN. (more than my father and mother combined)
fact: i have yet to actually serve on one of those juries or so much as get called before a judge and attorneys to answer questions about my eligibility.
conclusion: i am destined to serve on a jury, and the courtly cosmos will continue to spam my mailbox with summons notices until i do.

how, you ask, is it even possible to get called for jury duty an average of every other year? isn't there some stipulation that you won't be called again for three years?
why, what a brilliant question, i say! let me break it down for you:

jury summons #1 - age 18 - municipal court in my hometown in Illinois - went and sat all day until they came out and told us attorneys had settled out of court.
jury summons #2 - age 22 - Tucson court - i called the night before and was dismissed without going in.
jury summons #3 - age 25 - same Tucson court (my 3-year reprieve was up) - by this time i was living in indianapolis, so i had an acceptable reason to decline jury duty.
jury summons #4 - age 26 - Indianapolis court - by this time i was living in phoenix, so i got to decline again.
jury summons #5 - age 28 - Phoenix municipal court - okay, this time they got me. went and sat all day and never got pulled from the holding pen to even see the inside of a courtroom.
jury summons #6 - age 30 - Arizona federal court - (what?? but it's only been 2 years! oh, but it's a different court system, see.) - deferred service to a more convenient week (yeah, a WEEK for federal duty). - called the night before my new service date and was released for the entire week. no need to show up at court.

that was january. fast forward a mere 5 months to today:

jury summons #7 - age 31 - Phoenix superior court
- the last one and the best one. this is where the big cases go, all the ones you see on TV. this is where the judges make you swear not to breathe a word of the case to anyone outside of court. this is where they tell you not to watch the news so you won't be swayed.
now, let me tell you something.
i am a TV news producer. that means it will be impossible for me to follow the jury rules and likely result in my dismissal. which i predict means.... another summons is just around the corner. because clearly, the universe wants me to do this - someday, somewhere, somehow.
however, 7 is my lucky number and the funny bit about all of this is that i would LOVE to serve on a jury - and even after all my summons, i've never had the chance. maybe it's finally my turn.

in other miscellaneous monday news, can i just shake my fist at larry page and sergey brin for a second? i spent hours and hours over the past week tinkering with html code and scouring the internet for blog banners... and TODAY i log in to see there's a new blogger feature for custom designing your page.

seriously.

and, oh fine, for those of you who insist on reading something about writing and/or publishing - i have heard nothing from Agent Almost. it's been 2 weeks since i sent the revisions. every day i wake up and tell myself he is reading it and making notes and will get back to me in due time. then i obsessively check my email 600 times throughout the day and fall asleep reminding myself once again to be patient.

i hope you are all doing something much more productive with your own time.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

outlining: order or chaos?

sorry for the blog silence. all time at the laptop this week has been spent tinkering with the page design - not that you can tell, but hey, when you don't know what you're doing with html code, even something as simple as putting a border around the whole damn thing takes hours.

so today i want to talk about outlining. it seems in writing circles, there are two camps: outliners (those of us who plan ahead) and pantsers (those who fly by the seat of their pants and just let the story unfold).

not being a pantser myself, i can only assume they all start in much the same way - with a blank page and an idea in mind.

but i suspect we outliners divide into many sub-categories, from supremely organized to pure chaos. with my hyper organization and tendency toward list-making, one might guess that i'm a rigid outliner with centered, underlined chapter headings followed by neatly ordered bullets dictating moment-by-moment what will happen in a scene when i arrive at it.

but, in fact, my outlines are a mess - big red blobs of text broken up by bits of dialog.

i outline right inside my manuscript too, so i can easily scroll down and see where i'm supposed to be or jump ahead and throw a note into a later scene. once a scene is written into the manuscript, it is deleted from the outline. as the manuscript gets longer, the outline gets shorter, until i reach the end, and the outline disappears altogether.
sadly, this means i do not have any examples saved of the chaos that is my outlining process. instead, i've created a mock-up here:

scene at park. walker shows up late. ben already there. pile of weapons. walker goggles. ben shows off item by item (think of crazy weapon items). ben says no guns. walker: "what is this, west side story?" - "well, we are gonna rumble." - d,t,l all arrive. ???--insert scene: eat first? something to relax??? - if leave park, get back to park and end chap just as bullies start to arrive.

only picture that little paragraph as ten times longer with no breaks or spaces. it's all very stream-of-consciousness. i resist the urge to write entire upcoming scenes because i've found in the past when i get to those scenes, even if they no longer work for the story, i try to force them into the manuscript.

at the end of my big messy outline, i'll add bits off dialog that i want my characters to say but can't yet see where they fit into the story. if they don't make it into the book, they go in a special file on my laptop called "orphans" - where i keep lines i've never used but want to someday.

so that's my outlining process. it's messy, but it works for me.

i showed you mine; now you show me yours. how do you outline? i'm curious to see how many different methods there are.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Best Lines I Wish Were Mine

i am one of those people who destroys her favorite books. i underline passages in pen and doodle stars next to bits i like. (not in all of my books – not even in most of them – but every so often, when the writing is so good, i just can’t help myself).

i am also one of those people who will connect with a quote on tv or in a movie and carry it around with me all day, until it becomes a permanent memory, taking up its own little corner of my brain, to be repeated to myself months, even years later – when it seems applicable or when i need a smile.

i love being the audience for these quotes, but as a writer, there is also that twinge of: “damn! i wish I’d written that!”

anyway, i thought I’d share a few with you.

TV:

“I don't mean to interrupt your downward mobility, but I just wanted to tell you that you won't be meeting Coach Foster, the woman with the chest hair, because gym was canceled due to the extreme dead guy in the locker.” – Cordelia, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (because i write young adult and think voice is so critical to writing, this quote is possibly my favorite TV line of all time)

Perfume counter saleswoman: You know what the fastest way to a man's heart is?
Roseanne: Yeah. through his chest.
” - Roseanne

Oh, man. I feel like I'm the middle of a really bad after-school special." – Darline, Roseanne
(i liked this line so much i stole it and use it all the time - have for years)

Too many from film to really get into, but here's just one for fun:
Chunk: How's this?
Mikey: Oh, you idiot! You glued it on upside-down!
Brandon Walsh: If God made it that way, you'd all be pissing in your faces!
Chunk: Looks fine to me.
” – Goonies
(love this line for subtle innuendo. very clever.)

Books:

"We turned at a dozen paces, for love is a duel, and looked at each other for the last time." - Jack Kerouac, On the Road
(the first passage i ever underlined - and because of that, possibly my favorite book quote of all time - the first one that "got" to me)

"It's still hard for me to have a clear mind thinking on it. But it's the truth even if it didn't happen." - Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

"The Dursleys of Number Four, Privet Drive were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." - JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
(my favorite first line of any book. i remember smiling the first time i read it and knew instantly that i was about to become one of those crazy potter fanatics)


finally, a smattering of quotes from my most favorite author for pure writing, if not always for storyline:

"Charm was a scheme for making strangers like and trust a person immediately, no matter what the charmer had in mind."
and on the very next page:
"I can have oodles of charm when I want to." - Breakfast of Champions

"Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance." - Hocus Pocus

"Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn't mean we deserve to conquer the Universe." - Hocus Pocus

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be." - Mother Night
...all by the late Kurt Vonnegut
"So it goes."
what are some of your faves?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Beta Series 3: Endings

today we conclude our writer/beta cross-over blog series extravaganza!
i hope you have enjoyed reading about the writer’s side of the story here on my blog and the beta’s side over on Gem's blog.

UPDATE: Gem’s blog is going into semi-retirement, so her original posts on this series are now copied and pasted at the end of each of my own posts. (in other words, we saved you some time clicking around the internet, and you can now read the whole story here.)

Trouble in paradise

...not with me and Gem, but with the book. anyone who’s been reading my blog for awhile will know i struggled with writing an entirely new ending (evidenced here, here and here.) the worst part of this from the writer-beta angle was that i could no longer speed chapters off to Gem. i kept giving her deadlines, then sent her a cliff-hanger, then asked her to wait even longer – before your vacation, i promised – as soon as you get back, i swore – any day now! Really!

Gem assured me there was no rush (a lovely trait in a beta), but she had read so fast for me, i wanted to write fast for her. but the lesson here is to write at whatever speed is best for the story. this was exemplified in the first draft of my new ending. i finished it in an all-night writing frenzy and dashed it off to Gem without even a proper copy edit.

it was too long. it was all over the map. (Gem, fix it!) of course, she had ideas about how to fix it – combine scenes, cut this unnecessary information, move this bit here. but even better, she found even more problems – out of character behaviour, something i’d left out that Agent Almost wanted, an idea to give the last few lines more impact.
it was the direction i needed to reshuffle, rework and rewrite. and this time i worked fast. Gem put her stamp of approval on the second draft of the new ending (with just a few more tweaks), and i sent it off to Agent Almost.

The ending that’s really just a beginning

as relieved as i was to reach “the end” (again), i was sad to see the beta process coming to a close. i’d really enjoyed the creative back and forth.

but i enjoyed the personal back and forth as well, and at this point it’s clear that’s not going to end. we are both back in limbo waiting on agents. no one else can quite understand that particular level of hell, so of course we need each other to speculate and gripe and wait and hope. plus, i am dying to hear every detail of a new adventure she is about to embark upon, and i can’t wait to share the next story with her.
(and of course, if she ever needs a beta, i’d love to sharpen my editing skills and pay her back for all the help she’s given me.) but in the meantime, i’m just happy to have a new friend and the knowledge that i’ll never be lost and looking around for betas again. once you find a good one, you hold on with both hands!

4: the # of months it took me to write Butter and get it off to agents
2: the # of months it took to reshape the MS with Gem’s help
1: the # of irreplaceable new friendships formed

if you are searching for a beta, be patient. and be picky.
if you already have one as awesome as mine, find a way to say thank you – a million times over,
thank you

and now from Gem's beta perspective:

Beta Series Part 3 – The End…..but not really

THE END (last four chapters) of ‘Butter’ was tough for EJ as this was the biggest part of her revisions. See her blog for her view. I hoped never to pressure her to send me THE END, and the only deadlines that she was under were her own (and she did keep setting them on her blog!) But I was happy when I finally got those last chapters.

As THE END was so important and it was a complete rewrite, we did two rounds on the editing. I suggested rearranging some of the scenes to help with pacing and noted some world-building issues on my first edit. What surprised me was the different effect that the second version had on me. Even though I now knew how ‘Butter’ ended, the changes EJ made and the new beautiful last line, really affected me. I got teary-eyed – in fact, I’m welling up now when I think about it!

Getting to the end of any good book is bittersweet – you feel excited for the climax, then pleased to have your questions answered, but then you feel a little down because the journey is over. EJ and I may have finished this journey, but I’m sure that this is not the end of our relationship. She can’t get rid of me now, even if she wanted to – I’ll stalk her blog to get to see her next project first this time!

Summing up
By no means was my offer to beta ‘Butter’ altruistic. Beta reading is time consuming and takes away from my own writing – I have to be getting something out of it as well to make it worthwhile.

Benefits for me as the beta for Butter

•Improving my own writing skills. EJ is awesome some of the things I struggle with namely pacing and voice.
•Reading a boy book – I’m just finishing a first draft of a contemporary YA boy book where the main character is the same age as Butter
I got to know the ending!
•Making a new friend with common interests (not just writing)
•My career aspirations are as a literary agent/editor/anything publishing related and I’m currently working as an intern at an awesome NYC agency, so any editing is great practice for my future.
There are bits of Butter that made me cheer, bits that brought a tear to my eye and one bit where my mouth literally fell open. Butter is an amazing character and I feel truly privileged to have got to know him and learnt his story. I know that it is something we will see in print one day and my one hope is that EJ will be kind enough to sign my copy when I buy it!

And so we finish this series looking at a new definition of me as a beta reader – ‘a girl who stalks the writer of an awesome piece of unpublished fiction because she has to know THE END, offers her help without being asked and looks for copy edits and Agent Almost changes – with the ultimate aim to ensure awesome writer gets agented by Agent Almost and a 7 figure book deal! Added bonuses are friendship and knowing I’ll always have someone if I need my own beta!’

update from EJ: if you have any questions for Gem about the beta process, leave them in the comments, and i will track her down for the answers. ;)

to read the entire cross-over beta blog series, here are the links, in chronological order:
part 1
part 2
part 3

Friday, June 4, 2010

Beta Series 2: Evolution

welcome to part two of the writer/beta cross-over blog series extravaganza!
i’m providing the writer’s perspective. even more fascinating is the beta’s side of the story.

UPDATE: Gem’s blog is going into semi-retirement, so her original posts on this series are now copied and pasted at the end of each of my own posts. (in other words, we saved you some time clicking around the internet, and you can now read the whole story here.)

picking up where we left off yesterday...

Building a relationship

i eagerly fired off the first half of the revised manuscript to Gem. i sent her everything i’d already rewritten, and that’s when the beta system took on a life of its own. emails became less formal, as we tossed ideas back and forth. the correspondence evolved from long thought-out messages to more of a conversation. (though the emails were still long. we are wordy girls!) Gem suggested writing exercises to help develop character motivation. i would fire back a revised paragraph (is this better?), and so on...

at one point, we had sent so many emails (more than 100!) that my gmail hit the fritz, and i had to start a new mail thread.
of course, not all of those emails were about Butter anymore. they moved from this story to writing and publishing in general and finally, to life at large. we were getting to know each other as people, not just writers.

Honesty and trust

i think that getting-to-know-you part is important, because it helps build trust and gives betas the freedom to be honest. and i needed Gem’s honesty, as we were getting to the tough part of the manuscript.

Gem helped identify where the story slumped, and as a result – i cut entire chapters and built new ones from scratch. I had never overhauled a story like that, because i’m one of those writers that’s too attached to her manuscript to “kill her babies” (i hate that expression, by the way – but it’s often used by writers to refer to having the strength to cut good scenes or writing that don’t help the overall story.)
i know, without a doubt, that i would not have cut the soup kitchen scene (sorry, mom! i know it was your fave) and would not have added the bucket list chapter if not for Gem.

the trust was also important, because i knew if Gem was that honest with her crits, that she was also honest with her praise. it made the positive comments even more flattering and helped me identify threads that were working throughout the story and that i should include in the new ending.

and the ending would be the most critical part – of both the book AND the beta relationship...

(to be continued)

and now from Gem's beta perspective:

Beta Series Part 2 – More Please!

Well, that was hardly a suspenseful ending as this wouldn’t be a mini-series if EJ hadn’t sent me more chapters. The same day as sending over my first three chapter notes, I received chapter 4-17. I was so excited and she was very complimentary about my notes. Phew! Very relived person this end I can tell you.

And so to the middling part of the beta reading process – see EJ’s blog for the writers perspective.

It’s always great to get over that awkward politeness with a new beta/writer relationship. You initially start emails with ‘I’m sorry’, ‘I hope you don’t mind me mentioning’, ‘I hate to say’ etc. But then you get to the moment when the other person knows you well enough to understand the way you mean the comments and your emails become much more informal.

Comments/notes
For a writer, doing a revise and resubmit often means moving chapters around which can lead to timeline and world building confusions, so this was something I kept a close eye out for as well as looking for the particular points that EJ’s Agent Almost wanted changing. Sometimes my comments would be about character motivations and asking to get inside the character head a little bit more. Sometimes they would be about jarring sentences and bits I didn’t understand. And often times my comments would be ‘OMG, this section is awesome’.

This brings me to a good point. While, it is important to point out in an honest way any negatives, it is also important to comment on the awesome. I described my feelings as a reader when a section made me teary-eyed, or angry, or shocked. I hope that this helped EJ to see which parts really resonated with me – it can be hard to see the emotion with your own work.

EJ was always great at thanking me immediately for comments and saying how helpful I was being. I know from experience that this isn’t always the case as some writers can take things to heart, so it was great to know that she appreciated my time and that I was actually helping.

We really hit our stride once we got to chapters 12-17 and we bounced back and forth over one hundred emails over the whole process – and these weren’t short emails, neither of us can write a sort email! Were they all about ‘Butter’? Of course not. We got to know each other, chatted about vacations, discussed Grey’s Anatomy, celebrated and commiserated the up’s and down’s of publishing and advised each other when one of us had an attack of the crazies (a common writers ailment).

And so we neared the end of Butter’s journey. This was where the major revisions took place. I read up to the climax and then waited patiently for my last few chapters.

Continues tomorrow.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Beta Series 1: Hello

6: the # of people who offered to beta read for me when i posted the first chapter of Butter on Absolute Write
4: the # of people i sent my manuscript
2: the # of betas who actually got back to me with comments
0: the # of in-depth discussions i had with said betas about how they liked to critique and what kind of input i needed

i am eternally grateful for the feedback i got from those first betas. (they helped me catch the attention of Agent Almost!)
but i didn’t truly know the value of a good beta relationship until i opened my email inbox on March 29th.
That’s when i got my first message from Gem.

over the next three days, Gem and i will share the process that followed from the duelling perspectives of writer and beta in a cross-over blog series extravaganza.

UPDATE: Gem’s blog is going into semi-retirement, so her original posts on this series are now copied and pasted at the end of each of my own posts. (in other words, we saved you some time clicking around the internet, and you can now read the whole story here.)

The introduction

i have always been shy about asking people to read my work. i don’t want to burden anyone or make them feel obligated. so when it came to finding beta readers to review my manuscript and offer feedback, i relied on volunteers.

the trouble with that was i’d already cashed in on those offers with the first draft, and had no one to ask for feedback when it came to the high-stakes rewrite for Agent Almost.

the timing of Gem’s email was perfect. it arrived two days after my revision letter. (i now know this timing was not coincidental. See her side of the story below.)
i knew who Gem was through comments on AW and on my blog, so i was flattered that she emailed even to say hello. i was excited to see that she was in a similar spot on the path to publishing – even better, she was a step ahead of me and could help me navigate these rough waters. the cherry on top was the half-paragraph at the end of the email, casually asking if i needed a beta for my revisions.

holy crap! was she kidding?! of course i needed a beta! I was ready to send her the book right then. but wait...

Matchmaking

no matter how much Gem wanted to read Butter, she wanted to make sure up front that we didn’t waste each other’s time. she provided me with a list of questions (like the first step on a dating website, when you fill in your likes and dislikes). Gem’s beta quiz included things like, 'how do you like your criticism? blunt or sandwiched in praise?'
i had never thought of myself as having much say in the matter, so i hadn’t really thought about it. but now that she mentioned it... yeah, i did have an opinion – and it’s something along the lines of: “don’t lob me any softballs.”

i assured her i have skin as thick as an elephant’s and that she should not hold back. i also took the opportunity to tell her i was looking for specific feedback related to comments from Agent Almost. it was nice to be able to ask for this specifically – something i now know you should be able to do with your beta.
don’t just ask them to read. tell them what you need. if you don’t, then you don’t get the right feedback. and if they don’t want to give you that level of feedback, they should have the right to pass. (see? not wasting each other’s time)

Like a first date

a q&a can’t tell you everything though. so Gem suggested we do a test run of the first few chapters.

this was nerve-wracking. i was pretty confident she already liked the first chap, but what if she read 2&3 and thought the story just fell off a cliff? i thought i’d be biting my fingernails for weeks. but she turned her comments in less than 48 hours (despite a hangover), and i learned something else i like in my betas – fast turnaround. (i never could have finished this revision in two months if Gem weren’t so speedy with her edits.)

and her comments blew me away. from world-building issues (of course butter needs an online screen name! how did i miss that in the last ten revisions??) to just inexcusably bad writing (ick! that is cliché! why didn’t anyone else tell me? i could have taken it out ages ago!)
i should point out, Gem had many many kind things to say about the story and the writing, which was good for my fragile writer ego. ;)
but more important still were the crits. she had made some really stellar points, and those were on the chapters i was proud of. i absolutely NEEDED her input on the rough patches coming up later in the story.

fortunately, she had already emailed me an invitation to send her more chapters...

(to be continued)

and now from Gem's beta perspective:

Beta Series Part 1 – Initial Contact and First Chapters

Beta reader – ‘a person who reads an unpublished piece of fiction, on request from a writer, to look for grammar mistakes, plot holes, spelling errors, characterisation and general readability – with the ultimate aim to make the manuscript tighter and more marketable.’

So, that’s the definition. But how does it work in practice?

Over the next three days, I hope to answer this question by talking through my recent experience being the beta for the fabulous ‘Butter’. And over on her blog, EJ the author of ‘Butter’, is doing the same but from the writers perspective.

Meeting Butter
I ‘met’ EJ online in the Absolute Write forums in November 2009. She’d posted the first few pages of ‘Butter’ in the Share Your Work section – where members can get feedback on their work. The title made me click on it. The first lines made me carry on reading – see why here (READ THIS NOW!)

I was blown away. To quote some of my comments “I really really want to know what happens next”, “I was completely hooked” and “I felt overwhelming empathy for the main character”. EJ thanked me for my comments and I wished her luck finishing the project.

Now that is usually the end for me on any Share Your Work posts, but as you will see from the teaser, ‘Butter’ is a page-turner. I’d loved page one but page two was empty and I kept asking myself – “how will he get himself out of this situation and what’s going to happen next?” At the time, I was revising my own work, so I had no spare minutes to beta, but I did want to. I resorted to stalking watching EJ’s posts on AW to see how her progress was going.

The ‘watching’ paid off. EJ had a request for revisions from her Agent Almost, and what would be better to help with that than a shiny new beta reader. I emailed her saying an official ‘hi’, explained my stalking and told her that I was a week away from finishing my own revise and resubmit, so could empathise with her situation. My last sentence was my beta offer. I rambled through the actual ask “if you need someone, don’t feel bad to say no, etc etc, grovel grovel”.

EJ was enthusiastic in her response, even laughing that Butter had his first stalker. She said she would love fresh eyes! We exchanged a few polite getting to know you emails and I talked about how I like to beta.

Answer me these
I posted this a while back – the list of questions I ask all writers I beta for. It ensures both parties are clear about what they are looking for meaning no one wastes any time. I find it’s better to be honest upfront as some people just aren’t compatible as beta/writers. EJ and I laughed that the process was a bit like Eharmony!

EJ answered the questions and explained the exact things she wanted me to look out for. Her answers were a perfect match for how I like to beta – blunt, honest feedback with good explanations. We decided to do three chapters as a test to see if it would work.

First Chapters
My beta process is to do two passes of the work – first read like a reader, second read like a writer. I was so excited to get started on the three chapters. ‘Butter’ has an awesome beginning.

I have to admit to being a bit nervous when I sent over my first batch of comments because by this point, I really had to finish ‘Butter’ and if EJ didn’t think we were a good match, that would be the end of it. I re-read my comments a ton of times (after I got over my hangover – reminded to me by EJ!), typed up my email and pressed send. Then I waited.

Story continues tomorrow.