Jeopardy Theme Music Plays

I’m on vacation. The handful of people I know who read this blog regularly already know that, and are likely unsurprised by my lack of posting over the last week and a half or so. The truth is, I’m doing absolutely nothing at the moment. I’m not writing. I’m not even reading anything. Just enjoying time with family, and watching some TV in my downtime.

You know what is going on though? My beta readers are faithfully plugging away at my novel. I’ve heard from one of them, who emailed me her feedback this morning. I didn’t read it, just shuffled it away into a designated folder in my inbox to await everyone else’s. My critique partner is also reading for me, and as of a few days ago he was about halfway through. I don’t know how far along the other two are.

The suspense is driving me crazy. I’m dying to know what they think of my story, what problems they see, what things I need to fix. I’m dying to get back into the story, get my revisions done, and move this process along. But I need to wait. I’m going to read all of the feedback at once, so even though some is available to me right now, I’m dutifully ignoring it. The time will come soon enough. For now, I still have three more days of vacation before we’re set to fly home. I’ll deal with everything else then.

The Kane Chronicles

A couple weeks ago I tried reading Rick Riordan‘s latest complete series, Magnus Chase and The Gods of Asgard. It didn’t go well. Despite that, I decided to give The Kane Chronicles a try. They were published before Magnus Chase, so I was hoping the cultural issues I experienced in those books would be absent in these.

I’m currently on book 3, The Serpent’s Shadow. Like all his other works, this trilogy follows teenagers as they interact with the world of the ancient gods. In this case, the Egyptian gods. I’ve actually been fairly impressed with the series. Several issues I noted in Magnus Chase, despite the cultural ones already mentioned, are not present in this story. It differs enough from the original Percy Jackson storyline that I don’t feel like I’m reading the same book twice. A big reason for that is the main characters, Carter and Sadie, are not descendants of the gods. They’re descendants of the ancient pharaohs instead. They still have to save the world, but the dynamics are slightly different. The level of research the author must have done before writing this trilogy is impressive. The story dives deep into the minor gods of Egyptian mythology, and he manages to tie them all together into an intermingling plot.

Despite enjoying the story, I’m still having trouble getting through the books, and I’m having difficulty pinpointing the reason why. Several things spring to mind, and my reluctance is probably a combination of all of them. I still find the writing style incredibly juvenile. It was fun the first time around, with Percy Jackson, but I think I’m just over it. I’ve outgrown Rick Riordan, and that’s not a bad thing. It just is. My overall concentration is another issue. I have a lot going on, and curling up with a book is just not something I want to be doing right now, which is honestly something I never thought I’d say. I also have trouble getting comfortable. Spending a whole day engrossed in a book requires a lot of sitting still, often in the same position, and that’s just not in the cards for me right now.

All in all, I’m glad I’m nearing the end of this trilogy. I’m also glad I read it. Reading new things will always be beneficial for me, professionally. It’s good to see how the people who made it do things, even if they do them differently than I would’ve done them. And it’s another story to float around in my head, giving me ideas and encouragement. So, it’s a good thing. Now I just need to knock out the last hundred pages or so.

Beta Readers To The Rescue

So, it’s been a week since I posted again, but I have a good excuse: I’ve been vegging. I already mentioned how hard it was for me to relax and get into my library books for my self-mandated week off before I started editing. Well, the past week hasn’t been nearly so difficult.

Why am I not working, you ask? It’s because my story has entered a very important stage: beta reading. Beta reading was a foreign concept to me when I first started trying to write years ago. It wasn’t until I had a working draft of Origins and began researching what to do next that I came across the term. In a nutshell, beta readers are an author’s testers. They’re typically the first ones to read a completed manuscript and offer constructive feedback to the author.

Many authors find it difficult to find good, reliable beta readers. I had this part easy. For anyone who knows my history, you’ll know about the fancy high school I attended. For anyone who doesn’t, it’s called the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, & Humanities, and it’s located on Ball State University’s campus. It’s a prestigious school, with incredibly high standards. I received a top-notch education there. So, when I needed beta readers, I knew exactly where to find them. I belong to the Academy’s alumni Facebook page, and that’s where I posted my request. I got more responses than I could handle. Two of them were from people I actually know, which was pretty awesome. I chose a handful of others based on their additional education, their interests, and how well I thought they could handle the project. They received the same education I did, so I knew they were up the challenge.

I started with 6, but ended up with only 4. During the process I lost 2, simply because they stopped responding to my messages and I never heard from them again. Their loss. My beta readers were everything I hoped for. They were perceptive, and concise, and found things in Origins I had no idea were there. I’m not going to lie. Receiving good feedback is tough. I read them all in one day, and spent the rest of the day crying and depressed. There were so many things I needed to fix. Plot holes, character behavior that made no sense, places of confusion that I understood but none of them did. I had read other authors’ accounts and thought I was prepared for how hard it would be, but I wasn’t.

Now it’s beta reading time again, this time for my young adult project. I hadn’t spoken to my beta readers in about 8 months, but when I sent out the emails, 3 out of 4 of them were eager to help me again. Those emails went out last friday, and they have a month to read my story and get their feedback to me. I’m nervous. As I’ve said, I’m not very good at editing myself. I’m counting on them to identify the problem areas that need to be ironed out before I begin approaching agents, which is a pretty tall order.

Until then, my time is my own. I’ve been finishing up the library books I had to renew and binging shows on Netflix, and it’s been really nice. There are a few small things I may work on between now and then, but I have a feeling I’ll have a hard time concentrating on anything new until the reading time is up.

Rewriting Old Memories

I think it’s fitting that I finished my first round of “tweaking” edits today. I didn’t plan it that way, it’s just the way it worked out. Something bad happened on this day, last year, something that changed my life forever. I haven’t been dwelling on that too much today, but I did fear that today would forever become the anniversary of something I didn’t want to relive.

That still may happen. I’m not likely to forget to what this date means, but now I’ve given it new memories to overlay the old ones. I finished something today. I worked hard, and I accomplished something. My completed manuscript is now a little more polished, hopefully a little more coherent. I sent out emails to my beta readers for Origins, telling them I have a new story ready and asking for their help.

Today doesn’t have to be marred by what happened in the past. It can be celebrated because of what’s happening now instead.