Beta Reading…For Myself?

I’ve discovered something that’s rather amazing: Beta reading can be really fun.

It’s incredible to me how I can spot typos, see where changes are needed, and come up with solutions to issues. I’ve spent years learning the craft, reading books, blogs, watching vlogs, and discovering all I can about writing.

There’s nothing like watching someone’s writing improve – or beta reading for a favorite childhood author – to make me feel like I’m really doing something with my extensive knowledge. I know a lot about writing, folks. I’ve poured so many years of my life into honing my skills and becoming the best I can be.

And goodness, am I ever good… In theory.

But, um, there’s this slight (wee, little, minuscule) problem. When it comes to my own work? To actually writing (huh! who would have thought that was such an important part of the process?), I have so, so far to go. And it gets rather disheartening.

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Since May I’ve not done hardly any writing. Life took off and between my other jobs, weddings, and more emotions then I knew what to do with (sisters getting married, y’all),  writing sort of fell by the wayside.

In the midst of the craziness though, I did do some hard-core beta reading. Then some final-look proofreading. Then some more beta reading. And do you know what? It was downright fun.

Folks: A year and a half ago my computer was stolen while I was in Mexico. That meant I lost some non-backed up files. And, the only current version of my most worked-on book was in an email I’d sent to a friend. When I tried to download said story from Gmail onto my new computer the formatting was all messed up and I couldn’t figure it out. I was already so done with the book (for the time being, that is), so I just decided to forget about it for a while. The only solution I could think of was to retype the entire thing, so I shelved it and moved on.

I haven’t even looked at the book this year. And considering I was thousands of hours and 23 drafts into the story, that’s kinda a big deal.

This weekend I randomly mentioned the issue to a techy friend, and he promptly offered to help. I pulled out my computer and whala! a few minutes later I was looking at my perfectly formatted book.

It was delightful and encouraging and amazing all at once, and also reminded me that I now have nothing to hide behind – no reason not to start on draft 24. But really, let’s be honest: Where’s the fun of slogging through another draft when there are so many new, shiny projects that are asking for my attention?

Then today I was beta reading for someone. I sat down with my computer and her Google Doc, and next thing I knew an hour had passed and I’d been having fun.

And that’s when it hit me: I need to beta read my own book.

Enough time has passed since I’ve been through it, that I should be able to set aside my confusion emotions where I feel attached to certain scenes and lines. I should be able to see it with new eyes. I should be able to listen to my own, true critique and make this draft the best one yet. I should be able to trick myself into going through the story like I’d go through a friend’s story.

And ya know what? It’s an exciting thought.

Beta Readers – Thank You!

The responses I received from wannabe beta readers for Echoes has been nearly overwhelming and totally delightful. I blogged on Noveltea a week ago today asking for beta readers, then followed that up posting on Goodreads and my Go Teen Writers Facebook group.

It’s amazing to me how writers rally around each other and help out with beta reading, brainstorming, reviewing, and encouragement. Multiple times last week I wanted to dance around my office thrilled at the fact that I get to be a writer – that I fit in with this group of people and can lend and receive help and encouragement along with the rest of them.

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As I sent out email after email to beta reads last week (19 beta readers in all!) I nearly cried for joy at all the people who are not only willing, but happy to spend their time helping me. Being a writer isn’t always easy. There have been times when I’ve been so overwhelmed or discouraged that I’ve wanted to quit. But being a writer is important. And having people around you to remind you of that fact is priceless.

Receiving the feedback from beta readers isn’t always easy. Who likes to hear that what they’ve written has horrible plot holes, that the characters are unlikeable, or that the story just lacks the “oomph” it needs to succeed? But I know from experience that receiving feedback is incredibly helpful. I’ve learned so much from my beta readers – not only about my books, but also about how things I perceive as coming across one way might come across to another person.

In addition to all the writerly good that comes from beta readers, there are multiple friends I’ve made through beta reading. I’m still in very regular contact with at least four of the beta readers who read When Life Hands You Lymes, and would consider all of them to be my friends. It’s a wonderful feeling.

Today I am thankful to be a writer. Today I am thankful for all the beta readers who are working on Echoes. Today I am thankful that I can be part of a writing community where people are helpful, encouraging, and kind.

Thank you – all of you – for being a part of my life and my writing journey!

 

Echoes – Exciting News

In a land where twins are outcasts, identical princesses masquerade as one girl – Rylie, heir to the throne; a secret not even their father knows. 

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Kios has long been called barbaric by neighboring countries due to their practice of sentencing whole families to the City of Outcasts when echoes (two children at once) are born.

A political marriage brings kind and wise Queen Lena to the country. Due to her insight and endless work, the Echo Banishment Law has been revoked, and even King Dalan publicly proclaim echoes harmless. What few people realize is that King Dalan’s words are merely lip service – he is terrified of echoes due to superstitions that have ruled Kios for generations.

At sixteen, princesses Nicolette and Raquel, known to the world as Princess Rylie, have one goal in mind – see live to see the day when echoes have equal footing. Spurred on by the desire for the king to know their true identity, and to carry on the work Queen Lena was unable to finish due to her untimely death, the princesses are willing to risk everything to see their dream accomplished.

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Echoes is the first book in the Kios Trilogy, and comes in at just over 50,000 words. Told with dual narration by Nicolette and Raquel, the story is realistic fantasy (as in no magic) with a medieval flair.

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And now for the excitement! The plan (Lord willing) is to have Echoes ready for beta reading by the beginning of next week. *cue happy dance* This series is one I’ve worked on (with breaks) since I was 18, so I’m pretty thrilled about moving it to the next level. It’s also probably my favorite story I’ve ever worked on, so I can hardly wait to get feedback from some of y’all.

I’m pretty open to varying amounts of feedback, which means if you want to point out every grammatical error I’d be thrilled with that. Or, if you’d rather stick to the basics and talk about how much sense the plot made or point out inconsistencies, I’d be dancing in delight over that, as well.

I’m planning on sending the book out by March 20th, and I’m requesting the feedback to be returned by April 20th (although if you can’t fit it into that time frame, just let me know!). If you’d like to beta read (or even to just get more information) you can email me at: aidylewoh@gmail.com

Thank you so much, y’all! I can’t wait to hear from you!

And now, one last thing before I go…. Here’s a snippet from the story to give you a glimpse at the writing style.

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“Girls, are you decent?” The sound of Keagan’s voice made all three of us turn toward the closed door.

“If you mean are they fully clothed the answer is yes,” Marina answered as I opened the door. “If you’re referring to their level of early morning communication I’m afraid an affirmative answer would be pulling the truth a bit too taunt for comfort.”

Keagan grinned. “They do look fetching this morning though, don’t they?” Keagan picked up a second brush from the vanity and hit it on the palm of his hand. “This devise is what turns that scary beast,” he pointed at me, “into that sophisticated lady?” He aimed the brush at Nicolette. “I daresay, I should take these to the market and try to get a fair price for them. I’ve seen many a lass who could use one of them.”

“Did you come in here with a certain intent? Or just to mock the fine ladies of Kios?”

“I have not mocked any fine ladies.” Keagan tossed the brush back onto the vanity. “And maybe my intent was to save Marina from the tongue lashing I know you’re all to eager to provide in the early mornings.”

“Humph.”

“Princesses,” Keagan’s eyes went back and forth between us, “have you decided which one of you will attend the banquet tonight?”

“Aye.” Our answer was in unison, an occurrence that was fairly common among us.

“And?”

“I’ll be attending.”

“I thought that’s what you would decide.” Keagan gave a decisive nod of his head.

“How?” Marina finished Nicolette’s hair and stepped back to look at the two of for a moment before motioning me into the seat Nicolette had just vacated.

“How…?” Keagan asked.

“How did you know which one answered you?”

“Because I saw her lips moving?” Keagan quirked an eyebrow.

“Nay, I mean you said that was what you thought, can you truly tell them apart?” Marina was forever confusing the two of us even after living with us all of our lives. Sometimes we played up Keagan’s ability to tell us apart to bring Marina to a state of great annoyance.

“They act differently.”

“They are simply abiding, not acting.” Marina’s brushing was non too gentle as she began my hair.

“Then they abide differently.” Keagan shrugged.

“How so?”

“They breath with different cadences.” Keagan’s words were spoken with a straight face.

“Their breathing…?”

“Tis so,” Keagan nodded, wide eyed. “I used to lie awake at night wondering why they seemed so different to me and at last I came to the conclusion it was because Nicolette sounded like puff, puff, puff and Raquel sounded like puffpuffpuff.”

“You’re as childish as either of them.” Marina looked chagrined for a moment then laughed, “Really though, are you going to teach me how you can tell them apart?” Marina finished the simple knot on my hair and together we exited the dressing room.

“I know not, Marina.” Keagan put his arm around my shoulder and his other arm around Marina’s shoulder. “It’s instinct I suppose.”

“Did you come back to the dressing room the comment on our body oder?” I peered up at him with a straight face.