Thursday, March 8, 2018

Precious Beta Readers

A beta reader is someone who looks over your manuscript to find weaknesses before making suggestions for improvements.  Unlike how we utilize critique group members, your beta reader usually reads the entire book at once.  He more accurately simulates the experience of your book’s ultimate audience—your buyers.  Their time and skills are best used if they don’t need to focus on line edits like grammar and spelling.  Try your best to give them a clean copy. 

A helpful beta reader will make suggestions to improve the story, characters, and setting, basically all the big picture items.  I’ve been a beta reader and I’ve also had others take that one last look for me.  I’ve found they can be book-savers: finding plot holes, questionable believability, problems with continuity and characterization, even factual inaccuracies.

It’s common for a careful writer to have a beta reader or two peek at her book before she sends it to agents or editors or out for self-publishing.

It helps your reader to know what you are concerned about.  Below are some questions you might want to ask so you can get actionable feedback on your book:

- Did you feel drawn into the story?
- Did anything bug you?
- What's the one word you'd use to describe each character?
- Who was your favorite character?
- Favorite scene?
- On which page do you think you know what the story will be about?
- Did the story grip your attention right away?
- What do you wish were different in chapter one?
- What's your favorite Chapter?
- Where did you skim?
- Why?
- What do you feel the arc of each character was?
- Was that satisfying?
- Where did you cringe?
- Why?
- Where did you cry/gasp/laugh?
- Why?
- What was too predictable?
- Where?
- What do you consider the dark moment?
- Were you satisfied by the end?
- Why?
- Would you want to read the next book?

You'll notice there are many whys... that's because it’s much more helpful to know WHY something is good or bad so you can go back and do more or less of that thing.

Remember to thank your Beta Reader!  In one case I sent my beta reader a box of goodies that matched the theme of the book she’d read for me.  One of the best gifts you can offer is to reciprocate.   It’s a learning experience whether you are on the giving or receiving end.  To all the beta readers out there:  THANK YOU!   

      -   From the Inkpot

Thursday, September 21, 2017


I'd like to offer a few thoughts about voice and editing.

There are times for rules and times for forgetting the rules.  Craft is always something to master, even if only to ignore.

Despite my repeated warnings about adhering too obsessively to “rules,” it’s still true that some of my editing clients have craft trip-ups that make for tough reading.  I see clumsy grammar gremlins, over qualifying, unnecessary attribution to POV characters, cart-before-the-horse descriptions, etc. They can be distracting and thus detracting. 

None-the-less, your voice might lead you to break rules,

In my opinion, great voice walks right up to the edge of troubled writing… That cliff and its risk make up the writing sweet spot.

Write brave but keep clarity in mind.  And always be careful to protect your voice.

Remember: It may not be perfect, but it may be right.

Write well.  All best from the Inkpot.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Manifest Spirit

We are pleased to announce the release of:
A Manifest Spirit, The 359th Fighter Group 1943-1945

Relying not on recollections rendered imprecise by the passage of time, or secondhand reports which inevitably lose context, A Manifest Spirit instead presents observations from the group historian, base chaplain, and the fighter pilots themselves, recorded as they occurred during the conflict. The complex operation of a wartime fighter base, the deep satisfaction of a successful mission, and the heartbreak of waiting for pilots that never returned, are presented with the clarity that can only come from contemporaneous reports.

A Manifest Spirit is a tribute to the officers that gave the 359th Fighter Group its organization and direction, the enlisted men who made it work, and above all the pilots, 121 of whom made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of freedom.

Available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Nightly Met

We had a blast talking about Misfortune Annie with Avery Anderson, host of The Nightly Met.

Thank you again, Avery!

Monday, April 3, 2017

A Serenade to Die For

A sultry singer, her hunky ex-boyfriend, his stolen hot rod, a kidnapped father, and his priceless Aztec sword.  The chase is on!

Available now for pre-order in paperback or ebook!

The Wild Rose Press
Barnes & Noble

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Folio's New Book Written With Dave Jackson

Sister Folio and her collaborator have published a new book: Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper.  It's a great read!  It will be enjoyed by young and older alike.  Here's my review I also posted it on  Buy the book.  You won't be sorry! 

Teen Annabelle Fortune, more aptly called Misfortune Annie, must stop a brilliant inventor turned killer.

Annie is a tough, smart-as-her-own-whip, old west Tomboy who thinks her biggest challenge is resisting an off-the-reservation Cheyenne suitor. But when lawmen, including mentor Wyatt Earp, think she has what it takes to catch the Locomotive Reaper, she must tug herself over and over from a quicksand of danger while finding the killer equipped with a hydrogen-powered flying rig and multiple ways of killing.

She is forced to work alongside Slokam, “cool as a snow-fed creek,” hater of “wounded bar music,” and not entirely trustable. She faces late night cold that makes one’s “bones feel like they’ll freeze up and snap in two,” informants with tempers like diamondbacks, skull walls, saloon shootouts, and narrow passageways (you MUST read the book to see how Annie deals with claustrophobia using a straw hat). On top of everything else, she must tame a runaway locomotive compliments of our sack headed doom dealer.

The book reads at breakneck speed from the moment Annie is lured into the job then left behind in a none-too-safe place. There’s a head-fights-heart angle and the intriguing question of whether nature will have the final word. I can’t wait until book two’s next adventure. Please, pretty please, Ms. Fogg and Mr. Jackson, I hope to learn where her father is.