Category Archives: Authors

Review of The President Is Missing

The President is Missing

By: Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Publisher: Little Brown and Company and Knopf

Publication Date: June 4, 2018

 

One of my summer reads was Bill Clinton’s and James Patterson’s book, The President is Missing.   I give this book 5 stars as it is definitely a page-turner.

President Duncan, recently widowed and with health issues, is the main character.  His daughter asks him about “Dark Ages,” a code word about cyber terrorism known only to his cabinet of eight.  With this new found knowledge, the President realizes he has a traitor within his cabinet, but who?  At the same time the Speaker of the House, Lester Rhodes, wants to impeach him for, supposedly, letting Suliman Cindoruk the leader of the Sons of Jihad and a cyber terrorist escape.

Nina, a cyber hacker contacts the president, but she doesn’t know who she can trusts.  So, she gives the president instructions to follow.  President Duncan follows Nina’s instructions and meets her partner, Augie who knows only how to locate the virus but does not have the password to delete or stop it.  When the President and Augie are close to meeting up with Nina, she is killed by an assassin named Bach.  But, who hired, Bach?  During the shootout, Augie is hustled into the vehicle with the president by the Secret Service.  Close to the White House, the President’s motorcade is attacked and the president decides to go into hiding at a cabin deep in the woods.  Here the president is surrounded by only a few trusted secret service agents and a team of cyber experts from the United States, Germany, and Russia, who are trying to find the virus that has been planted into the United States infrastructure software. If the virus isn’t stopped, the country could be thrown into total chaos.

Who is behind the cyber attack?  Suliman Cindoruk or someone else?  Who is the traitor in the White House and why?  Who is the assassin, Bach?  Who does Bach want to assassinate?  Who hired Bach?

I wanted to know the answers to these questions and other readers will want to know too.

In this day and age, there is a possibility of a cyber attack occurring somewhere in the world.  It gives me some comfort knowing that there are people who are working every day to prevent a cyber attack.

 

 

 

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Filed under Authors, Book Reviews, Books, Fiction, Genre, Suspense

4 Steps to Getting Unstuck

For a few months now, I have been unstuck.  I just haven’t felt like writing blog posts.

In order to prepare for a workshop on “How to Do Biography” I conducted earlier this month, I had to read and write.

Here are the four steps I used to get myself unstuck.

  1. I scheduled a time to read books about biography.
  2. I set a goal of writing 50 words a day.  Writing 50 words was actually easy and I found myself writing more than that.
  3. I kept telling myself that I couldn’t let those who might attend the workshop down.  This helped me pay attention to what was happening in my life, both at work and at home.
  4. I asked co-workers if I could run my presentation past them to see if what I was talking about made sense.  I also asked for feedback.  You know, kind of what a writing support group does.

I conducted the workshop on October 6, 2018, and heard good things about it from those who attended.  So, I guess, the hard work in writing and in preparation paid off.

 

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Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week is an event celebrating the freedom to read and is held the last week in September.  Banned Books Week brings together the entire reading/book community in support of the freedom to seek out and express ideas.

Books that have been on the banned books list include (an by the way, you can vote for these on the Great American Read:

F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby.

Joseph Heller. Catch-22.

Zora Neal Hurston. Their Eyes Were Watching God.

J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter series.

Jack London. The Call of the Wild.

Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird.  

Margaret Mitchell. Gone With the Wind.

Toni Morrison. Beloved.

George Orwell. 1984.

J. D. Salinger. The Catcher in the Rye.

John Steinbeck. The Grapes of Wrath.

Alice Walker. The Color Purple.

 

And so many more books.

 

 

 

 

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Author Bette A. Stevens, Inspired by Nature

Today Bette A. Stevens is joining me for the Wednesday Author Interview series.

Welcome, Bette.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about yourself?

A: I am a writer inspired by nature and human nature.  As a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of five, I live in Central Maine on a 37-acre renovated farmstead where I enjoy reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature.  I advocate for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies–an endangered species (and milkweed, the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat).  My husband and I raise our own fruit and vegetables organically and share the bounties of our labor with family, friends and neighbors.  We retired in 2005 after spending several years working at traditional jobs in Maine, California and Virginia.  My childhood years were spent in California and New York, enjoying daily life and hoiliday events with family, including dozens of cousins.  Now that our human children are grown, we have had the privilege of being the adoptive parents of a delightful black feline named Midnight.  Life is good and adventures abound.

Q:  When and what made you decide to be a writer?

A:  I’ve been writing most of my life–initially it was in the form of photo blurbs and poems to celebrate family outings and events over the years.  During the 1980s I worked in the business world as an editor/writer/photographer, honing my skills in business writing.  By the early 1990s, after taking courses in journalism, creative writing and poetry at University of Maine Orono while pursuing a degree in education, I discovered that writing was a strong point in my repertoire of skills and one that pursued with passion.  Teaching became a career and sharing my passion for reading and writing with upper elementary and middle school students for over a decade before retirement was a genuine delight.

Q:  Can you tell us something about the genre of your books and why you write in that genre?

A:  Children’s Books–written to educate, entertain and inspire (Ages 4-11).

Amazing Matilda, A Monarch’s Tale (Children’s picture book based on the life cycle of the monarch butterfly inspiring kids to reach for their dreams)

The Tangram Zoo & Word Puzzles Too! (Children’s educational/activity book integrating language arts, science, social science and math)

Historical Fiction–written to inform, entertain and inspire (Middle grade-Adult).

Pure Trash, the Story (Short story prequel to Dog Bone Soup)

Dog Bone Soup, A Boomer’s Journey (Novel) (Compelling family drama-Shawn Daniels grows to manhood in a society where the poor are often quickly wrongly judged)

Q: Where do you get your ideas from?

A:  Ideas come from the world around me–whether in people, places, or things-inspirations abound.

Q:  Are you working on a new book at the moment?

A: Front and Center is a poetry collection that follows my personal journey through Maine’s four seasons.  I’m also working on another poetry collection that centers on gardens and nature in addition to historical research for a novel.

Q:  Which writers inspire you?

A: There are so many, but here are the first ones that come to mind: Beatrix Potter, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Mark Twain, C. S. Lewis, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harper Lee, Amy Tan, Maya Angelou, Diane Siebert, Tony Johnston, Khaled Hosseini, and Shel Silverstein.

Q: What book are you reading at present?

A: Nomadland (Surviving American in the Twenty First Century) by Jessica Bruder.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A: READ. READ. READ.  Reading is the first step to becoming a better writer.  One of the top writer’s resource on my shelf is On Writing by Stephen King.  It’s not one of those stuffy book of Do This and Don’t Do That, it’s the story of King’s own writing journey and the book is packed with the nuggets he’s discovered along the way.

But the reading doesn’t stop there.  I belong to local and virtual book clubs, where we read and discuss books.  I’ve never read a book that I didn’t learn something from–and when I’m engaged in a book, my writer-self is right there with me learning how to improve my craft.

WRITE. WRITE. WRITE.  Get writing. Yup, that’s what writers do.  One a single piece for my blog, I may write, edit, and rewrite several times before publishing a given post.  When I’m working on a book–now that’s a different story.  Ask for editorial help from two or three readers along the way.

Save a copy of every draft just in case.  Email those drafts to yourself, labeling each one.  If your computer crashes, you’ll be so glad you did.  For novels, I do this chapter by chapter and date them.

Between edits, take breaks so you can look at the work with fresh eyes.  It’s amazing what you’ll discover as you travel the path to publications.

FINALLY--Be sure to hire a professional editor before you publish your book.

Q:  Do you have any advice on how to market your books?

A:  For me, marketing is all about building relationships.  Join groups that share your interests and book themes.  Don’t forget to actively support fellow member writers.  Be sure to use tags and categories for all of your blog posts and include descriptions and book links for your book covers and photos.  Follow, read and share book marketing posts that are helpful to you and thank the bloggers who post them.

Q:  What would you consider to be the worst thing about being an author?

A:  When it comes to being an author, getting any book to the stage where I’m ready to publish can be exhausting.  But after all the hard work, once that book is in my hands, I’m exhilarated.

Q:  What do you like to do when you are not writing, your hobbies, etc.?

A: Spending time with family is top on a very long list.  Then there’s reading, gardening and preserving our abundant produce  from the farmstead (and watching for those amazing monarch butterflies searching for the milkweed interspersed in our flower and vegetable gardens), bird watching, playing with Kitty Middie, walking trails on the farmstead and taking photographs, reading to children at our local library and schools, visiting with family and friends, Bible study on Tuesday mornings, day trips to the coast with hubby Dan, supporting friends who are involved in local theatre productions, book club at our local library and the list goes one…

Q: How long on average does it take your to write a book?

A: For me it’s been about a year from first draft to publication.

Q: What is your schedule like when you are writing?

A: Being a night-owl, I generally write for two or three hours in the evening.  But, my schedule changes drastically when a new book is about to be born and life gets CRAZY!

Q: Who designed your book(s) cover(s)?

A: I’ve designed all of my book covers with CreateSpace’s Cover Creator.

Q: How are your books published?

A: I use CreateSpace for print books and Amazons KDP for eBooks.

Q: What is your favorite quote?

A: The quote below always reminds me that books provide us with a free and fantastic mode of transportation that can take us anywhere any time.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” Mark Twin, (“Innocents Abroad”)

Q: What is your favorite books?

A:  The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye.

Q:  How can readers connect with you?  Facebook, Twitter, Website, etc.

A: Website/Blog: http://www.4writersandreaders.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/authorbetteastevens.officialfanpage?ref=hl

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6037707.Bette_A_Stevens

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BetteAStevens

Q: Where can readers purchase your books?

A: All of my books can be purchased on Amazon where I invite you to take “A Look Inside.”

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author.betteastevens

Q: Would you give us an excerpt from your book or one of your books?

A: Here’s an excerpt and a page illustration from Amazing Matilda, A Monarch Butterfly’s Journey (Children’s Literature/Ages 4-110 written and illustrated by me.

Excerpt:

“I do so want to fly,” Matilda sighed. Just then a cottontail rabbit hopped up onto the ledge where Toad had sat.

“Why, you don’t look like you can fly,” chuckled Rabbit. “You don’t have any wings!”

“Sparrow said that I must have patience and follow my instincts. You and Toad say that I need wings, too. Where can I find all of those things?” Matilda asked Rabbit.

“As for wings, I don’t know where you can find them. In fact, I don’t care anything about them. But I am an expert on patience and instincts,” Rabbit boasted as she twitched her black nose, making her whiskers sparkle as they danced up and down.

“When I was just a bit of a bunny, Papa told me that I must have patience, too. I so wanted to bound up onto this rock ledge where I could see the whole world. But, I could not do it. I could barely hop a short distance before I would fall backwards, flip-flop, right into the tall grass. But, Papa said that I must not give up. He told me it would take patience to learn to do all of the things I wanted to do. He said I could do anything that I wanted to if I only tried long enough and hard enough.

“Papa was right. I kept trying. I kept hopping and hopping and hopping, until at last I could bound. Every day I would land a little farther. Now I can reach this very ledge any time I want to see the whole world,” Rabbit boasted as she bounded across the field.”

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Author Bruce Dodson Answers 20 Questions

Today’s author interview is with Bruce Dodson, author of Lost in Seattle, You Never Know, and various articles and short stories.

Bruce Louis Dodson is an expat living in Borlänge, Sweden with his wife, 2 dogs and a cat. He is a collagist, photographer and writer of fiction and poetry.

His work has appeared in: Barely South Review -Boundaries Issue, Blue Collar Review, Pulsar Poetry (UK), Foliate Oak, Breadline Press West Coast Anthology , Qarrtsiluni, Struggle Magazine, Pearl Literary Magazine, Contemporary Literature Review(IN), 3rd Wednesday, Sleeping Cat Books – Trip of a Lifetime Anthology, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Northern Liberties Review, Authors Abroad – Foreign & and Far Away Anthology, The Path, Page & Spine, The Crucible, Sleeping Cat Books -Trips of a Lifetime, Vine Leaves(AU), Pirene’s Fountain,Tic Toc Anthology – Kind of a Hurricane Press, Cordite Poetry Review, Buffalo Almanac, Litro Magazine,  mgversion2>datura, Maintenant 11, Glassworks, Door Is A Jar, So It Goes-Kurt Vonnegut Museum, and Popshot.

Welcome, Bruce.

1  Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m basically a poet, an expat living in Sweden for the last five years. I’m a five-star introvert who turned eighty this year, a fact I’m reluctant to admit. There’s a bias that talent recedes with age, and there may be grains of truth in that. Major publishers have little interest in authors my age. The good part of this is getting to a point of not caring, a certain sense of freedom, an expanded poetic license, an uncaring for rejections. Strangely enough, I have had more acceptance in these last years than ever before.

2  When and what made you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I always dabbled, the usual things, high school newspapers and such and High Times magazine. Five years of college removed time for creative writing. I was a design major. I remember submitting a horribly amateur fiction piece to Playboy magazine in the mid-fifties and was pleased to receive a nice printed rejection slip from the editors.

I did not take writing seriously until San Francisco in the sixties when my work began to be published in the S.F. Bay Guardian I met poet Charles Plymell in San Francisco during the sixties. He is probably the person most responsible for my efforts.

After college, I spent three years in the regular Army. Eighteen months were spent in Asmara, Eritrea. I don’t remember writing anything while in the service. There was too much going on. I fell in love with Africa and was hell-bent on experience, absorbing all I could of it. A gathering of tongue. Much of my work has connection to my travels.

After the Army, I was living in San Francisco in the Haight. This was the mid-1960s. I had just turned thirty and was writing some. I got lucky with a series about riding on the 7 Haight bus. It was picked up by the San Francisco Bay Area Guardian, a large, small newspaper at that time. The story ran for five weeks and drew a lot of attention. I wrote a few poems and began submitting to lit mags. Submitting was a stone drag in those days. Mailed submits with self-addressed stamped envelopes which were not always returned—tedious. Computers opened a door for me. Writing was faster with no need for white out, ribbons and paper. Submissions go so much faster now. There are still, “Did not responds,” but without the cost of time, envelopes and stamps.

I started writing more in the seventies, my first book in the mid-eighties.

3. Can you tell us something about the genre of your books and why you write in that genre?

I think my books could be called creative non-fiction, all but one which remains unfinished.

4. Where do you get your ideas from?

I have always loved to travel and did as much as I could, going as far as I could. I have never held a permanent job. I worked contracts that lasted from nine months to a bit over a year. The pay was good gave months of free time were wonderful. I’ve traveled to Brazil, Nepal, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Lebanon Italy and much of Europe.

5. Are you working on a new book at the moment?

I’m working on two, new, old books that have been years in process. One is a Coming of Age theme, the other, my magnum opus, takes place in India, a thousand years ago. Sometimes I think I’ll never finish it—perhaps when I’m older.

I have recently re-written two 8,000 word stories I had filed with Amazon but withdrew and revised. You Never Know, is about a fortune teller in Brazil. Hope Takes a Holliday follows an energetic and clever old lady woman with Alzheimer’s who escapes a care facility.  Both of these stories based on experience.   

6. Which writers inspire you?

Cormac McCarthy for his absolute brilliance. Charles Bukowski for his ability to get your attention in a hurry. Somerset Maugham for the beauty of his prose.

7. What book are you reading at present?

I’ve been going through short stories in a stack of old Paris Reviews. Last book was Good Sweden Bad Sweden, by Paul Rapacioli — Very interesting, and relevant.

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Anthony Bourdain & Clementine Paddleford Chronicled How People Ate

*Disclaimer – Photo of Anthony Bourdain is from Google Images*

I was saddened to hear about the death of food writer Anthony Bourdain.  I enjoyed watching his television show, Anthony Bourdain: Parts UnknownHe traveled to places many didn’t go and he took his television viewers along on the trip.  Bourdain visited with the locals and ate local food.

This is the same thing Clementine Paddleford did, except she never had a television show.

Both Bourdain and Paddleford traveled where they wanted to go, talked to whomever they wanted to talk to, and tasted the food they wanted to eat, then they shared the stories with viewers and readers.

Anthony Bourdain attended the Culinary Institute of American, became a chef, and a food writer.  Clementine Paddleford had a degree in journalism.  She never attended a culinary school, was never a chef, but she was a well-known food writer.

Sadly, Anthony Bourdain committed suicide and it was rumored that Clementine Paddleford tried, but failed.  Let me say, there is no proof that Paddleford tried to commit suicide and family members said it was strictly a rumor.

What made Bourdain and Paddleford well-known?

They chronicled how people ate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I am pretty sure that someone is already thinking about or in the process of writing Anthony Bourdain’s biography, a biography of Clementine Paddleford has been written.  It is titled Hometown Appetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicled How America Ate (NY: Gotham), 2008.

 

Excerpt: From Chapter 2

“In the late summer of 1921, Warren G. Harding was in the White House, Allied forces occupied the Rhineland, the U. S. Congress had just passed a quota on immigration, and Adolf Hitler became head of the Nazi Party.  On the heels of World War I, isolationism was in and multiculturalism wasn’t even on the horizon.  For Clementine Paddleford, newly arrived in New York City and the proud renter of a room in a boarding house at 520 West 122nd Street, on Morningside Heights north of Columbia University, this meant facing one of Manhattan’s challenges and figuring out how to conquer it: the subway.

“There she was, in homemade outfits Jennie had lovingly stitched from patterns Paddleford had picked, summer-weight wool suits, blouses with big bows at the neck, a tote bag at her side loaded with pencils and pads, the picture of a career gal of the day, and a greenhorn at that.  At her first act of independence in the city, Paddleford enrolled in graduate-level-journalism courses at New York University, despite her proximity to Columbia.  These met three evenings a week and required a long subway trip.”

 

Both How America Eats and Hometown Appetites are filled with recipes.  One of my favorite summer beverages is from these books: Plumade.

Ingredients:

6 small black plums, washed, pitted, and quartered

9 cups water

1/4 cup sugar

2, 2-inch cinnamon sticks

1 lemon rind, grated

3 lemons, juiced

3 oranges, juiced

In a large stockpot over medium-low heat, stew plums in water until very soft and the liquid is a deep rose color, about 15 minutes.  Strain juice, return to pot and add to it the sugar and cinnamon.  Heat gently until sugar is dissolved, two to three minutes.  Add grated lemon rind and cook three more minutes.  Strain again.  Stir in lemon and orange juice and serve in tall glasses with chipped ice.

Yields: 10 to 12 servings.

 

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter: Cindy’s Notebook

 

 

 

 

 

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Interview with Author, M. J. Mallon

Welcome to my Wednesday Author Interview Series.

Today, I am interviewing Marjorie Mallon.

Welcome, Marjorie!

 

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

A:  I’m a late bloomer, with a young outlook on life. I adore all forms of creativity: art, photography, music, poetry, prose, drama, etc. I can’t draw or paint but I wish I could!  Instead, I enjoy taking photographs. I live in the UK in Cambridge with my husband and youngest daughter. My eldest daughter is abroad at the moment teaching English as a Foreign Language in South Korea and I miss her terribly. Family is very important to me and perhaps that is why I wrote a family-centered YA novel. But, please believe me when I say that my main protagonist Amelina’s dysfunctional, weird family is nothing like my own!

Q: When and what made you decide you wanted to be a writer?

A: It wasn’t a conscious decision. I blame magic. One day I woke up and had this overwhelmingly strange desire to write. It coincided with a succession of visits from a stray feline who became Shadow, my black cat character in my book. I’ve never been the same since! I’m certain that beautiful, mysterious cat cast a spell on me.

Q: Can you tell us something about the genre of your books and why you write in that genre?

A: I write fantasy because life is too dull without magic. I’m drawn to horror, but I’m frightened to write it. The other genre that I long to explore in future writing is… crime writing — murder… but that scares the heck out of me too.

Q: Where do you get your ideas from?

A: A magical well at the bottom of my garden! I throw in a penny and out pops a fully formed idea! When the well is dry I go beyond the far reaches of my backyard and visit museums, art galleries, travel somewhere, or eavesdrop on trains. Also, I meet and greet a lot of visitors in my day job. One young man had an uncanny resemblance to a vampire! I’ve stored him in my memory bank for a future story idea! Recently I discovered a magical park which I’d never noticed before. It made me wonder could this be a prompt for a story?

Photograph of Garden is  Copyrighted by Marjorie Mallon.

Please do not use this Garden Photo without permission from the photographer.

 

 

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Short Stories on Potato Chip Bags

I enjoy reading short stories.  So, imagine my surprise when I purchased a couple of bags of potato chips at a small country store and saw short stories on the bags.

Don’t believe me?

One of the bags of chips had Chapter 8 and the other had Chapter 13 of “The Life and Times of Uncle Ray.”

By the way, the brand of chips – Uncle Ray’s.

Chapter 8, “Antics of a Young Boy”

“One day, during a family reunion in Tennessee, my big brother Bob and our two cousins went skinny-dipping in the creek a quarter of a mile upstream from my grandparent’s farm.

“I was just a pup of 11, the older boys told me to get lost, but I followed them anyway, and when they entered the creek I grabbed all their clothes and took off running.

“Out of the water Bob and my cousins sprang, and I ran like a bandit for the safety of the house.  Dripping wet, hollering and throwing rocks, they chased me straight through the middle of the reunion.

“The hot pursuit made its way past some of the ladies of the family and seeing the three original streakers, they started hollering even louder than the boys. ‘What do you think you’re doing!?’ one lady cried.

“After much negotiating (from a safe distance), the boys promised not to kill me and I let them have their clothes.  Looking back, I’m sorry that my actions resulted in embarrassing my cousins and brother.”

 

Chapter 13, “Riding Out the Storm”

“I was a cook in the navy and still just a kid, and my ship, the U. S. S. Bristol, was a great destroyer.  But the hurricane we encountered off the coast of Bermuda was a violent storm.  We were told that we could not outrun the gale, but would instead have to ride it out – and what a ride we had.

“The ship would lift out of the water and shake like a living thing.  It would plunge back deep into the waves and roll to the portside, then back, plunge and roll starboard.

“For days we just gave the crew sandwiches and coffee.  On the fourth day, though the sea was still rough, we thought we could fix spaghetti for dinner.  One sailor left his tray on the table while he fetched a glass of water.  A large wave hit the ship and when he got back with his water, his tray was gone.

“‘What blankety-blank so-and-so took my food?!’ he hollered.  The answer came up moments later.  The hatch was open to the sleeping quarters below the mess hall, and up came a sailor with a plate of spaghetti on his head.  It was the first laugh we’d had in days, and it was a big one.”

 

Please note, these stories are not my own.  They are the stories on the photos written by Uncle Ray. I typed the stories out because I didn’t know whether or not you could open the photo and read the story from there.

Keep your eyes open for short stories.  You will never know where they will turn up!

 

 

 

 

 

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Beta readers, who are they, what do they do, and where to find them?

Who are beta readers?  Beta readers are volunteers willing to read an authors work knowing the work has not usually been professionally edited.  The authors provide the work, free of charge to beta readers.

What do beta readers do?  They help proofread for punctuation and grammar.  You will be surprised how many misspelled words, missing punctuation, and wrong verb/adverb/pronoun, etc. show up in an unpolished work.

Beta readers also try to catch those pesky inconsistencies in a story.  You know what I am talking about.  On page forty you read about an electrical fire and the fire department has spewed gallons of water and foam onto the structure, then on page forty-two, the structure has electricity.  Or a character dies on page fifty-five just to magically appear alive on page eighty without an explanation.  Yes, those inconsistencies.

Beta readers also will give feedback to an author on what is working in the story and what is not.  They will let the author know if they did not understand something in the narrative or are confused by the narrative.  Beta readers will even question if a passage is actually relevant to the story or they will suggest adding more to the story to flush it out in more detail.

Where to find beta readers:

  • Ask friends, colleagues, writing club members, etc.
  • Put a plea in your newsletter asking if anyone is interested in beta reading.
  • Ask on social media sites.
  • Ask bloggers who write about books.

Why should an author use a beta reader?

Authors are too close to their work.  Using volunteer beta readers is free proofreading, editing, etc. of your book.  No, beta readers, should not take place of a professional proofreader or editor.  They are your first, second, third, etc.  set of eyes in catching as many errors as possible.

If you can afford to pay a professional editor and/or proofreader, good for you.  Not everyone can afford to do so.  Therefore, many authors rely upon beta readers.

So, the next time you finish a book and you tired of reading and re-reading your own work, ask beta readers for help.

 

 

 

 

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A History Book Disguised as a Debut Novel

Today, I am interviewing Sheena Macleod author of Reign of the Marionettes, a historical novel set in the Highlands in Scotland.

Welcome, Sheena!

Q: Would you please tell us a little about yourself?

A: I live in a small seaside town in Scotland with my family, and two dogs – Lola a Dalmatian and Missy a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  My working life was spent in mental health nursing, first as a practitioner and then as a specialist practitioner (Cognitive Behavioural Therapist). Around this time, I moved into nurse teaching, gaining an MSc in Advanced Mental Health Nursing and then a PhD.  After taking early retirement from the University of Dundee, I combined my love of history with my passion for research and set out to write a series of historical fiction novels. Reign of the Marionettes, a historical drama based in Restoration London, is the first of these books and my first published novel.

Q: When and what made you decide you wanted to be a writer?

A: I love to read and have since childhood. I became interested in the Highland Clearances and started researching the life of the Duchess of Sutherland – Elizabeth Sutherland Leveson-Gower – who is regarded as one of the principal agents involved in clearing tenant farmers from the internal straths and glens of the Highlands in Scotland to make way for sheep.

I traced Elizabeth Sutherland’s family back through the generations, trying to understand her background and role in the Highland Clearances. The main character in Reign of the Marionettes, Elizabeth Herbert, is a distant relative of the Duchess of Sutherland.

Q: Where do you get your ideas for your books?

A: From history. Fact is sometimes stranger than fiction.

Q: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

A: I write historical drama and enjoy including small details of the time. Despite writing historical fiction, I try to keep a current feel as if events are happening now.

Q: How are your books published?

A: Reign of the Marionettes is published by Dark Ink Press.

A short story, “Ghosts of Culloden”, was published in a fiction anthology in March this year by the One Million Project. Over a hundred authors from around the world contributed short stories to form three anthologies- Fiction, Thriller, and Fantasy. All proceeds, less costs of publishing the anthologies, will go to help Cancer Research UK and homelessness.

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