Monday, November 28, 2011

Beta Block

I’ve long since come to the understanding that I’m not going to agree with every beta. That would be impossible. Still, I never want to disregard someone’s hard work. Whenever I get feedback that is a bit hard to take, I always take a few days, weeks, or sometimes months, and come back to it with fresh eyes and an open mind. If I still find the comments off, or bizarre, or just completely out of left field, then I disregard them. Sometimes I don’t need days or weeks or months. I know instantly that I’m not going to heed the comment.

My most recent venture into Beta Land was with someone I’ve never worked with. I want so desperately to form a core group of good betas, but I’m not sure how to do that other than to give strangers a chance. Yeah, you can read their sample work, and like it enough to say, ‘okay, you seem to have some writing chops, take a whack at my work.’ But in the end, it’s still a person you don’t really know pawing over your manuscript. This is what we as writers have to do, so I’m not really disputing this process. I lucked up three times and found betas who give honest, constructive criticism—beta’s who have helped me immensely. One is sadly no longer with us, Zellie, whom I miss dearly. The other is Tere and the third is Abby. I’m looking for two more to have a core group of four. I don’t need a like mind, because sometimes someone who thinks differently will see things I miss. I just need some good tough love.

So tell me, do you debate the disagreements with your beta? Generally, I don’t. Unless I truly don’t understand her point, or I think she has misinterpreted something I’ve written. Otherwise, I don’t bother.

If any of you out there are interested in swapping manuscripts with me, let me know...or should I be asking for a crit partner? Do you think there is a difference? I’m nearly done my current WIP and will need a reader/critter sometime after the new year!

Hope everyone survived the tryptophan coma!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Looking on the Bright Side

After a rejection, I often tell myself, “It wasn’t meant to be.” And even if I really don’t believe that at the time, most of the time, I come to believe it eventually. Yesterday I got a reply on a full that wasn’t an offer, and as sad as that may be, it was the first time I truly felt that it wasn’t meant to be. The email was so gracious and complimentary that I had to smile while reading it. (My mother is under the impression that it wasn’t a rejection, but a postponement-lol.) Here is a bit of the letter:

Dear Karen:

I like your work so much. It’s odd, quirky and refreshing; all at the same time. It also grabs my attention. Believe me, I read all the time and it takes a lot to become memorable in my book.

Still, at this point, I’m just too booked. I don’t want to stand in the way of your success and I don’t believe I could even think about offering you representation until sometime in June – or so. That’s not fair to you. It’s not fair to me. It’s not fair to my current clients.

Thus, as sad as it makes me, I’m going to have to pass on this completely fun, exciting work. Now…if you’re still looking for representation come the Summer – 2012 – I’ll hope you’ll let me know…

I have to say, I’m hoping not to be able to take her up on her offer come summer, but I’m glad to know it’s out there. It’s funny, reading the forums and taking count of all the new clients this agent has just taken on, I began to feel like this may not be the place for me. I don’t want to take anything away from the agent; however, I began to wonder if I’d get lost in the crowd. So, I think it was truly meant to be that I was passed over.

Have any of you ever received a rejection and thought, yeah, that was probably for the best?

Thursday, November 17, 2011


While reading, I came across a chapter that I just couldn’t believe. Yes the story was about paranormal activities and entities, however, even in speculative fiction the reader needs to believe that what’s happening is plausible. I was having a hard time buying into the scene and the steps the characters took to solve the problem.

Reading urban fantasy, dystopian or sci-fi means the reader has to come to the novel with a bit of suspended belief. We know that werewolves don’t exist, but we are willing to accept this for the sake of the story. However, if said werewolf suddenly sprouts wings and starts to fly (when it hasn’t been established that he is a flying werewolf), then we as the reader will most likely go, “Um…WTH is going on here?”

My point; think about what you are writing and make sure that it is logical within the world you have created. Don’t just have characters acting in a certain way just because it will be easier to get the plot moving along. Make sure that normal, rational people will say, “yeah, I can understand why she did that.” And if they can’t, make sure you have truly explained why your character has done something so seemingly foolish.

It’s tricky because you want your characters to be active and not passive, so sometimes they are going to do things that make the reader yell, “No dummy! Don’t do that!” That is different from a situation where just about every reader is scratching his head thinking, um…why in the world did she just do that? And even your explanation doesn’t make it plausible.

We’ve all seen it. The horror movie where the people are safe inside their home and suddenly someone spots something out in the dark woods.

“There’s someone out there.”
The crazy person says, “Let’s go check it out.”

Am I the only one who thinks it’s ridiculous to leave a nice, warm, well-lit home complete with possible weapons and a working phone to go looking around in the woods for a lurking stranger? Who do these people think they are going to find? It’s NEVER going to be Publisher’s Clearing House with a big check.

I know you have all read/seen this type of thing before and you’ve said to yourself—or perhaps out loud—“No one would EVER do that!”

Tell me all about it!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Profess Your Love....

I haven’t done this in a while, so I think it’s time to share the love. Here are some random things I’m in love with right now.

The only rules: No need to tell me that you love your kids, your husband or your mommy…we know this. I want to know about something that’s putting a smile on your face today.

For me:

I love that my biopsy just came back negative! GO ME! :-)

I love my cinnamon plug-in from Yankee Candle. Makes my house smell like Thanksgivings and Christmas all rolled into one.

I love that I get paid tomorrow instead of Friday because the banks are closed for Veteran’s Day.

I love the OPI shellac nail polish. It’s SO glossy and it lasts for weeks!

I love that I no longer look like I’m storing nuts in my cheeks. (Had two of my wisdom teeth extracted on Friday.)

I love the Pumpkin ice cream is back!

And this one isn’t really a love of mine, more of a question. How many of you have tried the McRib from McDonalds? I’ve never had one, but people talk about it like it’s the best thing ever invented (doubtful). Years ago (years) when the McRib first came out, I asked my boyfriend—at the time—for a bite of his. He said no! Can you believe that? One of the many reasons he’s an ex.

So what do you love now? The McRib? Lol. Let me know, so I can share your love too.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I’ve Decided Not to Listen to Audio Books…

…Well, audio books for YA, anyway. I’m about to make a generalization, so bear with me. I listen to a lot of audio books, because it allows me to “read” while working. Usually, your boss frowns upon you reading at your desk when you’re not on break, but as they allow radios in the office, they don’t care what I listen to as long as it doesn’t interfere with my work.

My usually audio books consist of my guilty pleasures, regency romance or some chick-lit. But every so often, I get a YA book in audio form.

The problem I’ve found with most of these audio books—well, at least more times than not—is that the voice is terrible. With the exception of a few, most YA audio books I have read have narrators that make the mc’s sound like babies, or at least far too young for the teens they are supposed to be voicing.

I’ve been listening to The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. Her characters are spunky and witty with a touch of sarcasm. The narrator makes the mc sound like she’s on the verge of laughing at any moment, so the sarcastic lines don’t have the same conviction. She’s bubbly when she should be displaying dry humor, and the character doesn’t sound as spunky as the words make her. Fortunately, I actually LISTEN to the words and have managed to tune out the most annoying parts of the narrator.

I know I take this chance when listening to a book over reading it, but I find that I have more problems with narrators when it’s a YA novel. It was only when I started listening to this last novel that I realized this was the reason I read most of my YA and listen to Adult fiction. Not to mention, I think I pay much more attention to YA novels than I do to adult ones. Most of my adult novels have been recommended to me and I don’t even really know what they’re about before I pop in the disc. With YA, I’ve read the summary, looked up the author (if I haven’t read or heard of them before) and I check out who represents them.

So now, this is my decision—I’m sure you were all waiting on the edge of your seats—I won’t listen to anymore YA audio books. There, I said it. I’m not going to say I’ll never do it again, because I never say never-lol.

How do you guys feel about audio books? Is there a certain genre you are willing to forgo the page and grab the CD? Or does it even matter to you? If you do listen to audio books like me, do you find a difference between YA and adult? My inquiring mind wants to know.