beta reader

Book News: Beta readers. I need ’em and you want to be one! Right?

No writer can work in an echo chamber or in a ‘yes’ factory.  So, to that end, I have always tried to work with a core of beta readers and editors: people who like the project but are more than willing to tell me ‘that, that is stupid’ or ‘what the heck’ or many more colorful exclamations when I make a major misstep.  I am eternally indebted to each and every one of them.

However, several of my top beta readers are out of action for the near future.  Major personal obligations or familial emergencies have taken up their time and, despite any objections from them, I have given them my full support to ignore the reading and just take care of business.  Their problems and futures are far more important than a few books.

So, long story still kind of long, I have a need for beta readers.  I need people who aren’t afraid to be critical to help turn my last two books (for the short term) into masterpieces and, heck, I’m not afraid to publish new editions of old works if the input is sound enough.  I need people who want to stick their arms elbow-deep into the creative process and turn good material into the best of end results.

Oh, you get free books!  All three books of whichever series you wish to beta read … or both, if you want to read both.  Also, obviously, you’ll get the last two books before their release and get every update along the way.

Interested?  Send me an e-mail at and let’s talk.

Book News: Another manuscript in the can, on with the editing!

I think it was in Frankenstein that Mary Shelley made the connection between the act of creation and the act of childbirth on an emotional level (thanks to Beth for reminding me of this).  Both upraising and draining, gleeful and stressful.  So yeah, I’m tired as hell and riding high on the hog at the same time as I finished off the final chapter of Incorruptible, the last of the initial story arc of The Push Chronicles.  It’s been a wild ride with an emotional finale, but I’m happy to be where I am.

There’s a certain sense of closure and final completion to finish out not just a book, but an entire series (or arc in a series, I don’t think this is the end of stories told in that world).  I’m not sure I can match it up with any other feeling I’ve had in my life.

Of course, there’s still plenty of editing and revision to come.  Still, it remains what it is: an act completed.

Tomorrow, expect either a Starving Review or some more writing articles.  Good luck and good writing!

P.S. If you’re interested, there’s still room for more beta readers in my pack!  Get your hands on all the books of a series for free and get new volumes ahead of time.  It’s your chance to get in elbow-deep in books in the making and leave your mark.  Just send me an e-mail at if you’re interested.

Writing is a Bad Habit: The Horror of Echo Chambers

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for this starving author.  Reading, reviews, planning for the future, reunions with family … oh RIGHT WRITING TOO!  Yes, despite all the blogging and reviewing and general nonsense, I’m still, you know, writing and it was today’s work that reminded me of a very important thing to avoid as a writer, something that I think also applies to many other things in life.  Avoid echo chambers!

What’s an echo chamber, you may ask?  Well, physically, it’s just like it sounds: a room where you can hear your own echoes from what you say.  Really, though, when I talk about them, I mean in a more metaphorical sense.  What I mean is engaging in situations where you have no outside feedback, when you write and create with only yourself as the sole judge and editor.

Now, despite what you may think, you as an author don’t always have the best ideas.  Your core concepts might sparkle but there’s a good chance you’ll make a poor decision somewhere along the way as you write your works.  There’s also a decent chance you’ll catch it on your own.  Your gut will nag at you and you’ll realize, in the end, that it was a bad idea.  The problem comes in when you don’t catch it or, just as bad, when you are nervous about an idea only for it turn out to be a great one and you take it out.

This is just one of the many reasons why you, the author, are your worst editor and your worst beta reader.  YOU already know what you mean and what you want to say.  Left to your own devices, your brain will often change up the input as you try to look back over it, filling in blanks and mentally correct typos.  This is bad, this will mess up what you do!  It’s hard enough to get a perfect book (I haven’t managed it yet myself!) WITH outside help.  So don’t try to go it alone, relying on yourself as the best judge of things.  Get help.  Get support.  Get editors.  Get beta readers.

Don’t get lost in the sound of your own voice in the echo chamber!

Back to Writing: Event-driven plots vs. Character-driven plots

So, today, I’m beginning the outlining work on my next book as I wait for beta readers and editors to do their thing.  That being the case, plot is on my mind and it made me start thinking about the nature of plots in general.  Now, my musings are nowhere near comprehensive but, at least in the context of what I’m now working on, I pondered two different methods of plotting: event-driven versus character-driven.

The meanings of the terms are pretty straight-forward, if you’re not already familiar with them.  Event-driven plots are plots where the conflict is caused by specific events which occur outside of the actions of the characters.  A novel written around a natural disaster would be a perfect example.  Character-driven plots are plots where the actions of the characters generate the conflicts that move the story along.  A heist novel would be a great example of this.  Both types of plots have valid uses, so it comes down to deciding which is best for the story you want to tell.

At first blush, event-driven plots seem to showcase the central event as the ‘main character’.  This is true in some cases; there are books and films where something as esoteric as a deadly virus can have a fully realized character arc.  It can also be used to shine a light on variances at human character as a wide slice of character types react and change because of the event.  A series of plot-driving events could also be used as part of a character-driven plot to provide catalysts for character action that then spin off into a completely character-driven plot.

What’s important to realize is that event-driven plots aren’t event-driven if the ‘events’ in question are caused by the actions of another character (at least a character that is part of the novel’s cast).  A childhood murder (to steal a Batman moment) could be considered an ‘event’ if the murderer is not part of the plot from that point on, but if the murderer and his actions have a hand in the larger plot, then it could be simply another character-driven plot point.  Is it really important to the writing process to know the difference between these two approaches to plot?

I think so.  It mainly shows up in the style of the writing.  Event-driven writing, by it’s nature, introduces a certain immutability about the events that drive the plot.  The characters mold around the events instead of directly influencing them.  Again, this is great depending on the type of novel you are writing, but it can be horrible for other works.  The problem comes in when a writer intends to write, let’s say, a character-driven piece but then has every motivating event that occurs be an immutable thing that doesn’t derive from any character’s action.  Often times, this is simply a matter of clunky plotting: a certain character’s actions are treated as immutable events that never alter from the actions or reactions of other character’s.  In essence, those actions become ‘acts of God’ and there suddenly is not interplay between those actions and the reactions of the rest of the cast.  In a character-driven piece, this is suicide.

I suppose the ultimate point I’m making is that I’ve learned to try to be careful when plotting and writing a piece to keep in mind what you are trying to do and where you want the focus to lie.  It’s easy to make a few slips that turn the focus of something away from the intended target.  What do you think?  Do you consider how you plot something to be important in the execution of a piece?  Do you prefer to write based around events or around characters?  Let me know!

P.S. I’m always open for more beta readers.  If you want to get first crack at all of my current and future books, this is your chance!  Who can argue with free books, right?

Wrapping things up: The Opening Bell 2nd edition

I’m happy to say that I’ve wrapped my end of editing duties for a while yesterday when I finished up the second edition editing of The Opening Bell.  That’s not to say there isn’t more work to do.  As any writer can tell you, you are your own worst editor.  I have several trusted associated reading over my current drafts to ferret out those lingering typos and illogical sentences.

The most important thing I personally can do now for the process is to let it actually work.  I’ve learned a lot from my first two jaunts down self-publication road, especially from my mistakes.  The biggest one of those mistakes was my impatience.  I didn’t wait for the editing process to finish on its own.  I pushed and pushed and hence need to have second editions.  Lessons learned.

If you’re a writer reading this, how do you approach the editing process?  How extensive a network of beta readers and editors do you think is necessary to ensure a quality product?  How do you even find your readers?

Oh, and do you want to be a beta reader?  There’s still three weeks left!  (This is only somewhat a joke.  If you really do want to beta read my work, I’m always open for it.)

Want to be a beta reader? Here’s your chance!

Ever want to help a writer out as well as getting free copies of their books?

Here’s your chance!

If you have read some of my work and like it, you may have a shot at being a beta reader.  What that entails is that you get the rough draft of my ongoing novels during the writing process, in whatever format or amount you wish, and provide direct input and criticism as the writing process continues.  For your time and energy, you get not only early access to the completed novels, but free electronic copies of the finished edited products.

If you’re interested, drop me a line at my e-mail address:

Thank you