Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Hi, Everyone,

Are most of you all back to normal after last month's A-Z challenge? I'm still seeing posts here and there keeping the momentum going and I think that is awesome. I hope to get around a bit more too and visit new blogs that I didn't have time for last month.

It seems this Spring is a busy one for a lot of us. Each day I see a new book cover reveal or a release. Kudos to all of you! I wish you ONLY THE BEST!

Today I'd like to focus on something we as writers rely on more and more. And although I've discussed this topic on a few occasions and so have other bloggers, I believe it needs to be brought back into the light again.

I am dedicating this post to all my AMAZING BETAS and CP's! You guys know who you are.

These wonderful people take so much time and care to review our novels, picking out what doesn't work in plot, character development, world building, flow, pace, structure, grammar, spelling, and a myriad of other things. 

They also support us when we are frustrated, tired, and completely OVER our stories. They suggest fresh, new ideas to polish our works to brilliance. And they do this for us even with their extremely busy lives. Imagine fitting in the time between family, daytime jobs, and their own writing projects.

I had previously worked in a world of glamor, beauty, and self indulgence for fifteen years and believe me nothing was real. This surface beauty doesn't hold a spark next to the glow and warmth of the caring people I have had the privilege to trudge along with in our journeys into the publishing world.

What amazes me more than anything else is how busy, published authors will still take the time to help out others. To "pay if forward" as we call it. 

I see this every day.

As most of you know I have been working on the final edits of my second novel. 

I thought I was done especially after working with an editor for over five months. But she suggested I send it out to betas that had never read the original. This was not easy. I had written the first draft of this story three years ago and it has been through many CP's and Betas hands. 

I chose a few trusted authors who I respect completely and asked if they had the time to read through just for fun. Not expecting anything but their general opinion.

What I received back was surprising to me. The first, caught over two dozen typos and pointed out a couple of areas to build upon to make the story even better. She even suggested I flesh out one of the smaller scenes I just glossed over. And to have my MC respond more sensitively in a few other scenes. I did and sent it to her.  We both agreed to keep it in. Although it was only about a half a page, it added a bit more comedy which was needed. This story is extremely intense and adding more comedy certainly relieves some of the tension. 

Thank you, VR Barowsky.

After tweaking it all, the second Beta sent his. I was anxious for his comments because he was the first male to read my story. All my other CP'S and Betas are woman. I was excited to see a perspective from a male POV since my story is written in first person present from the POV of a seventeen year old boy.

Once again I was floored. He found even more typos. Do they breed? LOL. Not only that he pointed out I had too many LY words and another word that one would NEVER think to look for... TOWARD. I had an astonishing amount of them. He also felt the ending was flat. Too vague. This I had heard before from two other Betas, but kept it on the back burner until all the reviews came in.

He was specific. Pointed out what he wanted to see. I listened. I completely fleshed out the ending and added much more closure, leaving just a few unanswered questions. Always leave the reader wanting more...

Thank you, Mark Koopmans.

Yesterday I finally got to rewrite my query. Not my strongest point. I had received an email from a close blogger friend who had read my intro for my book during the A-Z and wanted to read it. Of course I was more than thrilled, especially since this is not her favorite type of story.  I had also asked her to take a look at my query.

An hour later, she sent it back to me, adding her magic. With only a few tweaks, it took a barely passable query and turned it into a force to be reckoned with! I can't WAIT to send it out. I never get excited about querying, but now, with this one, I am.

Later the evening, she contacted me and had already read over forty pages. She had to write me and tell me she can't put it down. Whoa... She made my evening.

Thank you, Morgan Shamy.

SO, as you see, I am very blessed with AMAZING CP'S and Betas. These three are only a few who have helped me with my current novel. There are at least a dozen others, who I am so thankful to for their input!

I'd like to speak to those writers who are too scared to have others read their work. DON'T BE... A CP can only help you. At times they will point out things that sting a little or ask you to cut out a particular scene which you LOVE. But sometimes it is necessary. Keep an open mind. WE ALL need to have fresh eyes read our works. Especially after the first draft. Remember it takes MANY drafts to complete a strong novel. Even when you think you are done, someone will point out something else to improve it more. 

One word of caution though. Make sure you trust the person you are sending it to, I've had a few bad experiences. NOT MANY at all, but once you find your CP/BETA family, you will be blessed beyond anything you could ever expect.

HERE'S to YOU my wonderful CP/BETA FAMILY! I couldn't have gotten this far without your love and support!

I hope you all have a magical Wednesday...


  1. Awesome!
    I've found most writers and authors are giving of their time and efforts.
    Yes, typos do breed. So do those overused words.
    One of my critique partners is so awesome, I send him my outlines. His suggestions always rock.

  2. Totally agreed. I have some amazing supports and wonderful Betas and CPs. Don't know what I'd do without them. And yes, typos are like cockroaches. No matter what you do, no matter how many people have read through your work, there will always be more breeding under the surface. =)

    Huge kudos to you! I'm wishing you the most amazing success going forward.

  3. There's nothing better than some great CPs and boy can they make a difference in the quality of your work. You know I'm sending all good thoughts your way, Michael :)

  4. Man, good CPs are like gold, aren't they? This is a great, supportive, encouraging, and inspiring post. I'm still looking for my CP family, but I can't wait to find them all!

  5. Oh, gosh. I think it's safe to say I wouldn't have gotten an agent without my beta and CPs. My eyes just don't see what they see. I am forever grateful to them. What's cool is that I beta/CP for some of them. Love giving back!

  6. I am so happy for you Michael. The story (as much as I have read) is so good. It just needed some polishing and it sounds like you chose excellent polishers. Yay!

  7. VR is a sweetheart and so wise. Morgan is a treat & insightful, and Mark is a wonderful guy to have looking over your material. You were lucky to have them. :-)

  8. That was so beautiful. Bless the betas!

  9. My Beta readers have been so helpful. Could not have done it without them.

  10. So glad to hear your story is moving forward. I can't wait to host you on your book tour!

    I've been a horrible cp lately. I've been so slow! I need to get my order and balance.

  11. Agreed! Too many cooks can spoil the soup, but a well-chosen group of advisers can turn a good story into a great one.

    Great post, Michael. :)

  12. I have a few CPs but no beta readers yet, but since I've got a few chapters to go, I'm not worried. Yet. :-)
    TOWARD is one of my go-to words, too, that I always have to weed out when revising. The work never quits. :-)

  13. Ah yes. I honored my critique partners as well. Amazing people they are. Really amazing. Good you have yours. I am sure your book will rock! We are looking forward to read it.
    Oh, and I sent you a mail but since I wasn't sure of the right address, I'm afraid you probably got two. Sorry for that.

  14. I'm still recovering from AtoZ as well! Good CPs and Betas are critical for writers. Absolutely! Great tribute post!

  15. CPs have made a world of difference for me. It's great to see you praising yours. :D

  16. When I first starting blogging and reading other writers' blogs, I was blown away by the support flowing back and forth in every direction. Three years later, I still am.

  17. Ohhhh… this was so beautiful, Michael!!! What a KIND tribute!!!

    As you know, I've already finished your story and am SO EXCITED for you to get it out there. The writing is tight and awesome. The story funny and haunting. I honestly could read it again right now.

    It is amazing HOW MANY drafts are needed to really make a manuscript shine… and we can only do so much on our own. I send my stories out when I absolutely can't see anything anymore… when I've given it everything I have and NEED help and advice. Thank GOODNESS for trusted friends!!!!

    Hugging this post. :)

  18. Great tribute. Where would any of us writers be without those wonderful readers?

  19. There is a lot of support in the blogging community. I found the ISWG bloggers by accident--I think someone commented on my blog who was a member? I love the community the group has found. It's a support system that would be hard to find otherwise.

  20. What a nice post. I don't like to let people read my work very often. I'm too scared they won't like it.


  21. I am not an author, but I have proofed manuscripts for a couple of authors from the point of view of grammar and typos for which they were grateful - I even found things which other proofers/editors had completely missed. So, if you ever need anyone else Michael, don't hesitate.

  22. What a wonderful group of CP's and Betas you have! All familiar names :-)
    What a lovely tribute. Well done.
    Tina @ Life is Good
    On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!

  23. Hi Michael - well done and it's good to acknowledge all the authors who help others along the way.

    Sounds like the book really is coming together and I'm so pleased for you ... also that re-reading of one's own work is not fun! Congratulations though on having got so far and been brave enough to take everyone's ideas on board ..

    Here's to the finished book ... cheers Hilary

  24. Hear hear! My MS is out with beta readers right now. I'm so grateful for their time and help in making my story better.

  25. Yes, typos do breed. LOL! That's so wonderful that you've found CPs who click with you! Yay and congrats on moving forward in such a spectacular way. :)

  26. Critique partners and beta readers are the best! Glad you've found some good ones.

  27. You are indeed blessed to have such a wonderful family of CPs and Beta Readers. I've been seriously thinking hard about who I will have read my novel when I've finished my edits. Congrats on the second novel!


  28. I'm so excited for you Michael. That query sounds awesome. Hope it works for you! Your story rocks! Can't wait to hear good news!


  29. This is such a positive, happy post, Michael. Query's scare a lot of people, so I'm really glad yours turned out so well. Good luck with sending it to all those publishers and having them fight over who gets to publish your work :) Kudos to all those you mentioned, and the work they put into helping others with their writing. All the best to you. M. J.

  30. Hi human, Michael,

    Sincere apawlogies for my late arrival. Ah yes, the hectic life of this superstar dog and now I finally get here.

    The pawsitive interaction I've read here is noted. I never worry about queries. I'm too busy helping out human's by discreetly working in the background. You would not believe the number of manuscripts humans send me, the acclaimed doggy pawblisher!

    Seriously, I'm very proud of you, my kind human. You have quite the support and encouragement and I see all of those you mention are all adoring fans of mine.

    Of course, reading your pawst gave me a serious case of acronym alert! Yikes! :)

    All the beast, sorry, all the best.

    Penny :)

  31. You've hit on a theme I love: the writers who want to help others by reading, critiquing and encouraging fellow writers.

    Congratulations on having such a wonderful support crew!

  32. I've had a few CP over the years, and you're right. They tend to see things we miss.

  33. Awesome to see you have some great people to rely on, Michael!

  34. This is a topic close to my heart. CPs are invaluable! Lotsa CP love here! And, yes, typos do breed, every time your back is turned. :P

  35. I think we get so we can't see our own typos! Wonderful you have so many awesome CP folks. Good luck with the query!

    Mary Montague Sikes

  36. Aren't they flipping amazing? Love this community and the "pay it forward" mentality. Helping each other is what its about. CP's and Betas are have a huge part in helping us get better at our craft and in polishing our work. Awesome post! :D Go CP's!

  37. What timing. I'm actually going to start a CP group very shortly and I'm looking for to all the give in take that involves! Sounds like you have some great ones!

  38. I'm glad someone is having good luck with beta readers and CP's. Since my live group split up, I've read for others and haven't had peeps pay it back in kind.

    I hope I don't sound too much like a Debbie Downer.

  39. I know I'd be lost without my CPs and betas. Morgan and Mark know their stuff, so I'm glad they helped you out. I think "toward" is evil. I try to avoid it whenever possible. :)

  40. It's so helpful to have those extra sets of eyes and the additional mind power to help the writer see the way more clearly. You are indeed fortunate to have the back up that you have. I've done some reading for a few authors, but I tend to read rather slowly so I'm often not as much help as is needed. I probably don't catch mistakes all that well either.

    Tossing It Out

  41. Fantastic post! Without my CPs, I'd be completely lost. I'm terribly bad at appraising my own work, and they catch things I would never see, and suggest improvements that would never occur to me. They're brilliant and insightful, and I'm lucky to have them!

  42. Betas are essential, and what they do for us is selfless and priceless. They deserve to be praised for their careful attention, tips, and dedication. :)

  43. Beta readers are worth their weight in gold. Most are very busy and yet don't mind helping. I have a few authors that read my work and I'm there to read their proposals or latest wip. I learn a lot reading other's work.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

  44. Aww, thanks Michael. It was a pleasure. I agree, CPs are invaluable. I've had the same CP for five years, and I don't what I'd do without her. She sees what I can't. She tells me what works and what doesn't. Best of all, even though we don't write the same genre, she never tells me what to write. She's priceless.

    I have no idea of my senior class pulled pranks. I have no memories of high school whatsoever.

    VR Barkowski

  45. I haven't found my 'family' yet, but I keep trying. :) Great post. Other's perspectives are priceless.

    PS: You're so right about TYPOS breeding. Lol!

  46. Aloha and hi from rainy HI :)

    All I can say is *THANK YOU* for the immensely kind words - and trust - Michael.

    I am also looking toward the time when I can sign up for your book tour!

    Onwards and toward the up, I say :)

    Have a great week and GO [some sports team in Chicago] !!! :)

  47. You are so lucky to have such a great "writerly family"!
    As I move forward on this journey, I need to start building mine.

  48. It's soooooo important to have someone who can give you a critical eye and fresh look at what you need to improve and tell you what work and what doesn't. I'm glad that you have those people!