I do tea break writing. Much of it is piecemeal and most of the time I have my manuscript open and if an idea pops into my head when I’m working I quickly flick across to it, add whatever it is in, then turn back to what I was doing. Sometimes I manage two hours writing in one stretch then do nothing for a week.
As you might imagine working like this is hardly conducive to keeping a hold on the threads of a story. And this is why I use beta readers (test readers) at a very early stage.
I finish my first draft, then I do a quick edit. Because of the way I write I have been known to stop part way through an idea or peter out mid-sentence so I like to make sure I have actually completed the story. It’s not much to ask, is it? And then I send it to my beta readers. Now, some of you will be gasping in horror at the thought of showing anyone your first draft but I do tidy up behind myself along the way as I write so it’s really not that bad. The important thing for me is that being so short of writing time I need input early on. I don’t want to waste time rewriting or editing pages that don’t work in the first place.
I also want to gauge reader reactions to my story and the characters. For this I need to know that I can trust my beta readers to tell me the truth. I understand could be difficult for them as they are people I know in real life, but those are the rules and with each book they get better at doing so.
My betas have a month (although one of them took far longer than this…ahem… resulting in me tapping my foot, somewhat impatiently!)
I ask them to read it as a reader would. I don’t care at this point about the misuse of apostrophes, the lack (or excess) of commas or anything else (although some of them simply can’t help but wield the red pen!) I just want them to take in the story and flag up anything that hits them in the face as unrealistic, a contradiction, a repetition or just plain wrong.
I do a feedback session with each of them once they have completed their task to see what they made of it all. This can be pretty brutal (and generally puts me in a terrible mood) but it’s essential as it gives me an initial insight into what the wider reader reaction is going to be.
This time I’d given out five paper copies and one digital copy as I’d given them the choice but in hindsight I think paper copies work best as they are easier for people to scribble over with notes and reminders of what they wanted to say to me.
The feedback is always interesting as without fail every reader picks up something different. I had a wide range of reactions to Parallel Lies. One pretty much loved it all and I think given the changes I then made to it will be even happier with the ending. One truly hated it. They didn’t like Madeleine or what she got up to one little bit. Although they did admit to liking the last third of the book. The others were all somewhere between those extremes but fortunately towards the upper end of liking it.
As writers we know we can’t please everyone. It would be ridiculous to think we could so I was happy with this and it has helped prepare me for what may follow from the readers that pick up Parallel Lies.
It’s easy to dismiss input if it is not what you are wanting to hear but I was particularly interested in the feedback from the person who hated it. The protagonist in Parallel Lies is Madeleine and she is concerned about how she would be judged in the community she lives in if they found out what she really was so this beta-reader of mine showed that concern to be completely valid. Job done.
Beta readers are invaluable to me as part of my book writing process and I’d be very interested to hear if anyone reading this uses them, and if so how they go about doing so?
‘My name is Madeleine, Madeleine Ross. It is a name chosen with thought and because it is classy, and that is what is needed here…’
Madeleine Ross has life exactly as she planned it.
Cosy cottage, friendly village, satisfying job.
Company… when she wants it.
It’s an enviable existence for an independent young woman, and one she’s keen to protect.
Enter Daniel – strong, dependable and a danger to everything she’s built. He’s not something she was looking for, but hearts can’t be controlled and maybe, just maybe he might be worth letting into hers.
But, all is not what it seems. Because Madeleine is hiding a lifetime of secrets. Deep secrets.
And they never stay buried for ever.
Her darkest secret returns, like the proverbial bad penny. He is her first love, shadowy, dangerous, the baddest of bad boys. No matter how far she runs, or how well she hides, she can never escape him.
Or her past.
Here he is, on her doorstep, with a proposition she is powerless to resist but which could devastate the future she hoped to have.
Can Madeleine satisfy the old love while keeping the new?
You can’t always get what you want but, desperate to preserve the life she has worked so hard for, Madeleine is willing to risk everything to prove that she can.
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Georgia Rose is a writer and the author of the romantic and suspenseful Grayson Trilogy books: A Single Step, Before the Dawn and Thicker than Water. A short story, The Joker, based on a favourite character from the series followed and is free to download from Amazon.
Her fourth novel, Parallel Lies, a standalone to be released on 12 September 2017, encompasses crime along with Georgia’s usual blending of genre.
Georgia’s background in countryside living, riding, instructing and working with horses has provided the knowledge needed for some of her storylines; the others are a product of her overactive imagination!
She tempers her dislike of Trifle (particularly the jelly soaked cakey bit at the bottom, shudder!), kites and the word wipe, with her love of milk chocolate (nothing fancy mind), anything horse related and the word loquacious.
Her busy life is set in a tranquil part of rural Cambridgeshire in the UK where she lives with her much neglected husband and dog. Their son, currently at university, comes and goes and their daughter, having delighted them all for long enough, has eventually moved out, got married, and is discovering the joys of being all grown up and having a mortgage!
Thank you for inviting me on your lovely blog, Karen, it has been a pleasure to visit you and get to chat to your readers.
Thank you for visiting Georgia. I am glad that you had the time.
MY Review of Parallel Lies:
Great book! The life of Madeleine Ross, Maddy, is complicated and secretive. She doesn’t let too many people know the real her. She thinks her life is perfect the way it is, now that she has a home of her own and is on her own. She ran away from a man that she felt wasn’t right for her and she created a life for herself in the Country. Although she does worry about how her new neighbors and friends will look at her should her past or real job be discovered. She lives a simple life, has friends, a job she enjoys, and sex on her terms. Things are changing for Maddy though and she has to decide if she’s ready to share the past or her job with others and let them in all the way.
There are a lot of things going on in this book. It is well written and keeps your attention throughout. I give this book a 5 star review because I loved reading about Maddy and her life. She has to figure out if Dan, her new boss and love interest is the “One”. When she figures it out, will it be too late? I look forward to reading more of Georgia Rose’s books and I really hope that there is more to come in Maddy and Dan’s lives. I would like to see what will happen now.