critique group, critiquing, writing

What’s A Beta Reader?

I keep hearing about beta beaders and wondered what the difference was between a beta reader and a critique partner. So after much googling, I didn’t find a whole lot of difference.

Beta Reader:

A beta reader is someone who agrees to look over a piece of fiction for spelling, grammar, characterization, and continuity errors. Unlike a true editor, a beta reader is typically unpaid, and he or she sees the work at a very rough state. Many authors like to use beta readers to improve the quality of their work before they submit it for professional editing and critique, and betareaders are usually profusely thanked in acknowledgments, in recognition of the time and energy which they invested in the work. (according to

beta reader (also spelled betareader, or shortened to beta) is a person who reads a written work, generally fiction, with what has been described[1] as “a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammarspellingcharacterization, and general style of a story prior to its release to the general public.” (according to


Peer critique, a specialized form of critique, is the common practice of writers reviewing and providing constructive criticism of each other’s work. Most fiction writers use some form of peer critique as part of their process of writing. (according to

Hhhmmm, sounds like the same thing. So is it? I have no idea. What do you think? Is there a difference?


Doing Your Research

Research. Either you love it or you hate it. I kinda like it, even though I am always itching to just start my story and forget about learning more about the era or town or whatever is going to make my story “real” to readers.

I love romance and found early in my twenties that the regency era provided great romance with a closed door policy…for the most part. Of course, that was twenty years ago and regencies are opening that door wide. Now that CBA is selling more of that era, I’ve been a happy camper, reading a genre I love AND having a spiritual element to it.

So I’m going to write one. I think it will a perfect setting for a story I had originally thought would make a good contemporary.

But first the research. While I have read tons of regencies, I need to research about the time in history. Of course there is the library, but the internet is also a great place to poke around, finding little gems of history.

So tell me, how do YOU research? What are your favorite tools? Favorite books? Favorite places to find the information you need?

discipline, editing

The Common Trait of Published Writers

The past year has been full of great news for a few on my online novelist friends. Keli Gwyn got an agent and then sold this past week! Jody Hedlund had sold and had her first book release this past fall. Katie Ganshert got an agent and she has exciting news today on her blog! These wonderful ladies are very talented, and I’ve discovered they all share a similar trait.


Keli is an extremely organized person who can stay on top of two blogs, writing, editing, critiquing, reviewing, and encouraging other writers in their quest for publication. Katie works a full time job as a teacher, has a young toddler to chase after, and yet gets up at 4 a.m. every morning to write her stories. Talk about discipline! And Jody…well, Jody is a mother of five children, whom she home schools. She juggles teaching, an incredible blog, and keeping a home for her family. I’ve also noticed that these young ladies are slender–another testament to their self-control.

Writing is hard work. It takes super-human effort to not only write a book, but edit it and edit it again…and again. It takes discipline, determination, and perseverance.

This doesn’t bode well for me.

I am not a disciplined person. I can be focused, but it is on one thing at a time. I may focus on my blog. I may focus on critiquing. I may focus on Facebook. I may focus on keeping the house straight…well, not really for any length of time. I can focus-but to the exclusion of all else. And when I think something is beyond my ability, then I procrastinate and avoid that something like it was the plague.

And therein lies the problem. I think editing my book is beyond my capability. But I’ll never be a writer if I can’t edit. I know…just do it, you say. I know, I know. You are right. I should. And I am trying, in that I joined a large crit group. It is just slow going, and having to crit other’s work while working on mine (and working full time) is overwhelming.

So I’ve begun praying 2 Timothy 1:7.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

God’s Spirit works inside of us, giving up power. Giving us love. Giving us self-discipline! Yes! There is hope. There is encouragement in those words for those of us who are not naturally wired that way. We can overcome. We can live in that power, that love, that self-discipline. 

Are you one of those lucky people who are naturally blessed with the propensity toward self-discipline or do you find yourself lacking in that area?

editing, winner, writing

Stories Dripping Red

I’ve been critiquing alot this week and find that it is not always easy. Sometimes I don’t find much to offer and then other times, there are so many problems, I cannot figure out how to make it better. Usually I love the story and can see the potential it has, but I hate marking someone’s story in red.

There’s something about taking someone’s “baby” and telling them the baby needs work that makes my heart sad…and even a little fearful. Sometimes I think the baby is underdeveloped. It’s undernourished. It needs some vitamins to make it stronger. But to tell a parent that, well, it’s a frightful thing. I try to mix encouragement with the correction, but so often I fear that I have overdone it.

Don’t we want to know what is wrong with our “babies” so we can do everything in our power to help it grow? I think I do, but when I get my baby back all bleeding with red, I wonder. I sometimes feel rejected. Hopeless. I can’t be a mother to my story. Why was I thinking I can birth a story?

Then I eat some chocolate and I am alright. I fix my baby and keep praying over it, hoping with God’s grace it will fly the coop, finding a new home on someone’s bookshelf.

Do you writer’s out there have trouble critiquing other’s work? How do you balance the good and the bad?

****Winner of Lady In Waiting by Susan Meisnner is MAUREEN! Congratulations!****

book review

The Wednesday Review: Rocky Mountain Hero by Audra Harders

I read two books on my anniversary trip and one of them was Rocky Mountain Hero by Audra Harders. And what a delightful read it was! I downloaded it onto my Kindle, and read it in bed with the fire crackling in the fireplace nearby while a gentle rain fell onto the tin roof. Great ambiance for reading this great romance.

Back Cover Copy:

With a broken-down truck, miles to go and little money, single mother Melanie Hunter needs help. It comes in the handsome form of rancher Gabe Davidson. He’ll pay for the three-week repair job and provide lodging for her and her boy–if she’ll take coordinating the town barbecue off his busy hands. Melanie accepts, figuring she’ll soon be on her way to her new life. But as she gets to know the kind townspeople–and the hardworking cowboy her son adores–she realizes she’s found home. Now if only her Rocky Mountain hero will ask her to stay.

My Thoughts:

I have to say, I thought Gabe was breathtaking. He is a tough cowboy with a soft underbelly, who has a way with kids. Of course, as a mom, Melanie is drawn to such a handsome, caring guy who takes her son under his wing, spending precious time with him and becoming a hero in his eyes. Or should I say, a hero in her eyes too! There were some great romantic scenes, including one at the kitchen sink, involving a knife and a fish. Very unique and oh-so-sigh-worthy! There is great tension between Gabe and Melanie, and I am so glad I got  to read their story. And…Gabe has two brothers who, I am hoping, need their own story! I am certainly looking forward to more books from this wonderful author! 

ebooks, galleys, writing

Digital World

I had such an odd experience yesterday when I powered up my Kindle in church to read my Bible. Earlier, I had downloaded the new 2010 version of the NIV translation (only 9.99 on Amazon) and after spending a little time figuring out how to maneuver through the book, I was able to read along with the pastor. Okay, that sounded weird. He’s my husband and I really don’t like calling him the pastor. Hey, I live with the guy.

I felt really strange pulling the slim eReader out of its cute little case and clicking through the pages. It almost felt fake. Maybe fake is not the right word. It just felt plain weird…and I was self-conscious. But I’ve decided I need to get over my feelings, because you know what?

We live in a digital world.

We live in an age where we can check email in the car, read books by flipping our fingers across a screen, and pay our bills on our phones. We are connected to the world by those little WIFI waves in the air.

I stumbled upon a site called Netgalley. You can sign up and request galley books to review for free…if you have an eReader. There are many publishers listed and there are hundreds of books to choose from. True, I can’t do giveaways with those digital books, but it is a nice option to have.

Are you ready for this techno age? Are you connected? Are you prepared for the changes to come? I’m sure you’ve heard all the turmoil and fear regarding the publishing world and its future. What will ebooks do to traditional publishing? Do you care? Does it matter?