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dawookie
04-19-2012, 12:13 AM
My mother is getting older, so her eyes are not what they used to be. She reads a lot, but she's busy with her very large extended family. She's also not super tech-savvy. So I did what I could to make things as easy as possible. I put my draft in Kindle format, sent her the link to download Kindle-for-PC and sent her the Kindle book file.

Her first message says, "I haven't had time to start it yet. I was out of town because Auntie A is house-sitting for Auntie B and she locked herself out and Auntie B almost had to turn around halfway to Florida and come back and...."

Cool, Mom. Take your time.

Her second message says, "So, I didn't get to read much. I like to read when I'm in bed and I can't because I have to sit at the computer. So I think I got through maybe just one chapter. But so far I think it's going to need a lot of... editing. "

I die inside a little bit. This is the woman who told me my macaroni necklaces were the best jewelry ever back when I was in Kindergarten. But still, the first chapter is not much at all like the rest of the book -- I really went crazy with the metaphorical imagery, trying to convey the point of view of someone in a deep depression. So she didn't get it and that's OK.

I suck it up, re-write the first chapter and send her a new Kindle file.

Still waiting to hear back.
To be continued...

Oh, and I'm looking for Beta readers, by the way. I have a 97000 word contemporary fantasy with a freshly rewritten first chapter. Even if you just want to take a look at that one chapter and tell me if it makes sense to you, that'd be appreciated. Also, I'm happy to read for anyone and offer feedback as well.

--Vania

BlueMouse
04-19-2012, 03:45 AM
If you'd like to send me the first chapter, I'll be happy to tell you if it makes sense to me. I'll PM you my email address.

Paul
04-19-2012, 03:56 AM
not sure if your joking or not dawookie, which is prob a good start.

but em, dont ask your mom to beta read. ever. (unless they're in the writing business/ profession0

Maryn
04-19-2012, 03:58 AM
Do your mom a huge favor. Print it out, in a readable font, and give her no more than 75 pages so it won't seem overwhelming.

In fact, put it on three-hole paper and in a half-inch binder, making it easy to pick up and read, its pages in order, the weight of it manageable.

I learned through experience that expecting low-tech readers both to do me the favor of a beta read and to embrace the technology I found the easiest was asking too much.

So make it easy on Mom. Times New Roman 14 is easy on the eyes if she's 50 or more, too.

Maryn, old eyes, young, uh, elbows

Stlight
04-19-2012, 05:25 AM
And if you don't want to double space it, at least use 1 and 1/2 space. The spacing helps enormously for those whose eyes aren't as strong as they once were.

meowzbark
04-19-2012, 07:19 AM
I tried letting my mom alpha read. Her critique was "this is amazing".

I'm not sure if she read it and her critique was definitely not helpful. I don't know if she could name two characters in my entire book.

Good luck with you mother, but I bet it will be much more productive to have someone read it who doesn't mind hurting your feelings.

Maryn
04-19-2012, 05:41 PM
Excellent point--friends and family will praise it because you're you, not because it's good. It doesn't mean they think it's good, or that they've read it, just that they love you.

Which is nice, of course, but better not to put them on the spot in the first place.

Maryn, whose critique group uses paper only

c.m.n.
04-19-2012, 06:31 PM
I let my mother read my first book last year. She's always been highly critical of my writing, so I was expecting the worse. What I got blew me away.

"This is really good!" And she read the entire thing.

But I've tried asking if she wants to read other WIP's and she never has the time. Oh well. I really don't think she'd like a lot of what I write anyway. LOL

Kitty27
04-19-2012, 06:44 PM
Y'all have lovely moms.

My mother asked if I was "touched" and suggested a dose of anointing oil from her pastor on my forehead would help.

Determination
04-19-2012, 06:52 PM
My Mom beta reads for me. She's doesn't sugar coat my work and will be the first in line to tell me if it sucks. Other than that she's great at telling me if the book flows, if there are plot holes, things that don't make sense etc. She doesn't do line edits. I always print her out a hard copy. As others have said it's easier to read and she can write notes on the pages. It works for me.

Devil Ledbetter
04-19-2012, 08:18 PM
I let my mom beta read for me. She is a voracious and critical reader of lit fic and historical novels, and she can spot a typo or grammatical error from 50 paces. If she doesn't like or doesn't get something, she tells me.

However, she's in her mid 70s and is in the bad habit of passing along my beta novels to her friends. Yes, I've asked her not to do this. I can never get them back because someone else always has them. The hilarious part is her liver-spotted friends just adore my books, and more than a few have read them twice. I'd like to think they are just humoring her, but they seek me out at her parties (the old folks are incredibly social and given to throwing fancy soirees for any reason at all, right down to St. Crispin's Day) and carry on and on about my characters, and why don't I do a sequel, and oh, Sandra Bullock should play Rebecca in the movie.

I never considered appealing to geriatric crowd when I took up fiction. It's a crying shame none of them are lit agents.

But don't worry, I work with legitimate beta readers too.

cjcurrie
04-20-2012, 01:07 AM
My mom has actually been a pretty good beta reader ... when I was young, she was one of the first to point out flaws for me to work on.

All my other friends and family, though .... not much help.

Paul
04-20-2012, 01:59 AM
I let my mom beta read for me. She is a voracious and critical reader of lit fic and historical novels, and she can spot a typo or grammatical error from 50 paces. If she doesn't like or doesn't get something, she tells me.

However, she's in her mid 70s and is in the bad habit of passing along my beta novels to her friends. Yes, I've asked her not to do this. I can never get them back because someone else always has them. The hilarious part is her liver-spotted friends just adore my books, and more than a few have read them twice. I'd like to think they are just humoring her, but they seek me out at her parties (the old folks are incredibly social and given to throwing fancy soirees for any reason at all, right down to St. Crispin's Day) and carry on and on about my characters, and why don't I do a sequel, and oh, Sandra Bullock should play Rebecca in the movie.

I never considered appealing to geriatric crowd when I took up fiction. It's a crying shame none of them are lit agents.

But don't worry, I work with legitimate beta readers too.
:D nice story.

GingerGunlock
04-20-2012, 02:13 AM
I let my mom beta read for me. She is a voracious and critical reader of lit fic and historical novels, and she can spot a typo or grammatical error from 50 paces. If she doesn't like or doesn't get something, she tells me.

However, she's in her mid 70s and is in the bad habit of passing along my beta novels to her friends. Yes, I've asked her not to do this. I can never get them back because someone else always has them. The hilarious part is her liver-spotted friends just adore my books, and more than a few have read them twice. I'd like to think they are just humoring her, but they seek me out at her parties (the old folks are incredibly social and given to throwing fancy soirees for any reason at all, right down to St. Crispin's Day) and carry on and on about my characters, and why don't I do a sequel, and oh, Sandra Bullock should play Rebecca in the movie.

I never considered appealing to geriatric crowd when I took up fiction. It's a crying shame none of them are lit agents.

But don't worry, I work with legitimate beta readers too.


this is a little bit amazing ^^

In 7th grade or so, I'd just read White Fang and Call of the Wild for the umpteenth time, so of course I started writing my own wolfy sled dog novel. My stepmother read it and gave it back with "I don't think that's how that works". I haven't shown her anything I've written since.

BlueMouse
04-20-2012, 02:40 AM
Y'all have lovely moms.

My mother asked if I was "touched" and suggested a dose of anointing oil from her pastor on my forehead would help.

I laugh because it hits so close to home. I chose a pen name specifically because if either of my parents ever read my book, they'll be convinced that I am possessed of the Debbil, and arrange an intervention.

dawookie
04-20-2012, 07:44 AM
Thanks for the advice and anecdotes :)

And for those who've offered to read it, I'm eternally grateful for any bit of feedback.

I have so much trouble pulling myself away from the story enough to look at it with the right kind of critical filter. I like all the parts that break rules and get everybody else all worked up. But people tend to stop reading things that make them cranky.

I don't hate editing. I took a scientific writing class in college that was all about maximum information with minimum words. The rule was: no fat. It was absolutely brutal, but I know I can do it.

This is harder, because we like a little fat in our novels, don't we? But not too much. In just the right places. Why is it so hard to tell where we're crossing the line into literary masturbation? I guess I'm at the part where I have to be willing to fail a lot.

By the way, Mom did reply that she's gotten through a few pages of the new draft and says that, "so far it grabs better." That means I'm going to have to cut most of the first part out. I knew it but, damn it.

My mom's a good beta reader for me because:

1. if I can get the story to a point where she doesn't get confused, then I'll know it'll translate universally. And this is a confusing story, no doubt about it.

2. no matter how much she hates it because it confuses her, she'll keep reading.

3. no matter how much she hates it for any other reasons, she'll keep reading.

@Maryn ... I know printed's better and easier and nicer... but I hate to be so wasteful. Any stack of paper more than a quarter inch thick and I get all antsy thinking about the trees.

Sort of related side-note: the best thing I've found for editing is to use my Kindle's text-to-speech feature. Amazing how a missed or misspelled word stands out when something's read aloud.

@DevilLedbetter ... love the name ... your geriatric following makes me think of all the talented musicians whose fan base consists in large part of 12-year-old girls. I say, work it any way you can :)

@Kitty27 and BlueMouse ... Believe me, my mom wishes I was not so open with her. But I trained her from the time I was a toddler that I was going to be me and she was going to have to put up with all of it. Once in a while she says, "Can't you just lie to me sometimes?"

Lady Goddess
04-20-2012, 08:28 AM
My mother asked if I was "touched" and suggested a dose of anointing oil from her pastor on my forehead would help.

Being raised in a religiously moral household, I believe my mother would die if she read about my characters and the things they do. I make a point to never talk about my writing with her. Even if (when) I get published, I will use a pen name, because I don't ever, EVER want her reading one of my books. That goes for anyone in my family.

I think some mothers just always envision their children as children, no matter how old they get. So even if they're adults, they don't want to know how their adult minds work. And some mothers, like the ones mentioned here, are OK with their kids and their craft. It's nice that your mother supports you and is honest with you. I'm almost jealous. I wish my mother was like that.

Laura J
04-22-2012, 06:38 AM
I let my MIL read my book when I first started writing. She said 'huh, interesting'. Which is what I say when I don't like something. I was just starting and needed someone to say 'good start, keep going'. I gave it to my mom and she thinks I'm just great, but I know she would say that no matter what. But, she is interested, so I let her read it.

My new WIP is a little creepier. She said, why did you have to make it scary? You shouldn't be so creepy with kids. (it wasn't that creepy).

My MIL knows I'm still writing and probably wonders why I haven't had her read since. Lesson learned.

Jessianodel
04-22-2012, 07:03 AM
Some of those stories make me sad. I don't know what I'd do if I had to hide my writing from my parents. They don't read my WIPs, but they do completely support me and both have a favorite book idea of mine. In fact my current WIP is the one my mom loved so I'm going to let her read it and see if she's a good beta. She's pretty good with school reports (english buff) so who knows.

But it would suck not being able to share that with your own parents :(

L.C. Blackwell
04-22-2012, 10:18 AM
There's no reason not to let mothers in general beta-read--even if they're not literary professionals. (I qualify that by adding there are some mothers who should not touch your book with a ten foot pole.) Like any other reader, assuming they're willing to be honest, they can tell you about the parts they didn't get, things that were awesome, or others that don't make sense.

It's true that not every mom is willing to be honest, or knows how to talk about a book--or wants to read one--but those who do are invaluable.

I always use my mother for my first beta reader. I just don't make her my only beta reader, and I try to choose readers with a variety of experience, expecting different help and feedback from each of them.

Also, I print everything. It's for my mom's reading comfort, to heck with the trees! ;)