Posts Tagged With: reading

The Reading Vacation

 Books are the things you lose yourself into.

I had a bad day during which  everything electronic was sparking, failing and frustrating (I’m looking at you iTunes and AT &T). Instead of taking it out on nearby humans, I  quit everything and read a whole book.

Book sculptureYou have heard, often enough, that writers read.  Authors should read everything.  We should read as if our lives depended on it.  We should read as if we are  still in school and reading is a class requirement, necessary for our  job, something that we must do.  Our response, reasonably enough, is to resist those requirements and go to the movies.  Because the popcorn is better there.

What is forgotten during  all these admonishments is the shear joy of reading.  If you are  a reader,  then you know what it is to lose yourself in a book.  That day I picked up a book thinking okay fine, I can’t get on line, I can’t watch TV, it’s too cold to hike, I’ll just sit here and read.

It was  like taking a vacation.  As I dove into the novel, not only were my troubles temporarily gone, so was my whole being.  Reading launches you into  exotic places, allows you to experience the world through someone else’s eyes, passions and ideas.  It allows you to glance  into the future or experience first hand what happened in the past. And for hours, you are not in your house or your car or your in-laws.  You are on an exotic adventure.

Reading in this context is like getting away with something.  No one knows where you’ve been, what you’ve learned. No one can tell.  A good book gives you conspiracy and a shared experience: you and the author, a communication that transcends both space and time.

Don’t mind me, I’ve been far away.

I am migrating this blog to be part of NewbieWriters.com  Until we have complete lift off, both blogs will publish simultaneously.  Sorry Panda.

You are welcome to re-post this article in your own blog or newsletter – please include this entire statement, “Catharine Bramkamp is a Writing Coach and podcaster, find out if you’re ready to go from  Newbie to Known visit www.yourbookstartshere.com or bramkamp@yahoo.com for a complimentary consultation.”

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Care and Feeding of Your Beta Readers

I now have seven Beta Readers.  Lest you think, well, that’s not very many early readers, I remind you that I will be receiving feedback  from seven different sources, all of whom may mark up the manuscript.  That means pouring over  seven new versions of my book.  Seven is great, I’m not shooting for overwhelm, I’m shooting for concrete opportunities for improvement.

I did not just fire off the manuscript to the volunteer reader, I also included what I needed and what kind of feedback I was searching for.

Bunker in Albania

This bunker in Albania inspired the bunkers in the book, Future Girl

Dear Beta Reader  (or insert their actual name here, I promised to keep their anonymous in case the book was terrible and they wanted to avoid any association with it in order to protect their academic reputation.)

Thank you so very much for volunteering to be a beta reader for my book.

You are welcome to mark up the document and return it, or simply send me a few notes. (I wanted to give them a choice depending on how they approached a paper or manuscript, some of the volunteers are accustom to line editing and I welcome that feedback, but others may just want to make a list and send it off, that is welcome as well.)

Of course, what I need is feedback to improve the book, but I do ask that before completely ravishing the prose, do offer some initial encouragement, even if you only liked the font and found the margins pleasing. (Seriously, some people do not know how to give constructive feedback, help them.  I do not want to open seven emails  and be immediately assaulted by lists of   negative comments, so I am working to protect my sometimes fragile ego ahead of time).

Please send feedback by July 19, 2013 (Give your readers a date, people work better on a deadline, it gives the project a finish time, and I will not be waiting on anyone in order to move forward with the fourth drat of the book)

Some questions  to inspire your feedback:

  • Is the heroine, Charity, believable?
  • Do you care about her journey? (Remember this has been written, more or less for a YA audience)
  • How is the future?  Did you discover inconsistencies in the invented world?
  • Does the narrative (Charity’s adventure)  make sense?
  • Does the motivation of all the characters made sense?
  • Did you like it?
  • Where should it go –  YA boutique publisher, general  ebook,  Sci-Fi POD, Boutique Science Fiction publisher?
  • Who would you give this to?  (Helps me figure out the audience)
  • What was the underlying theme?
  • Do you have an idea for a better title?

Thank you for your help!  This is the first time I’ve reached out to Beta Readers and of course you will be acknowledged and publicly appreciated.  Or if the book is horrible, I am equally happy to leave you out of it.

I reserve to use your comments on the show – Newbie Writer’s Podcast,  but won’t use your name. (I produce a weekly podcast, of course we’ll discuss this process.  If the feedback is particularly trenchant, I’ll interview the Beta Reader on the show, again, I have no wish to surprise people who are helping me).

I scheduled  the  beta reading  project to take place while I was away on a trip.  That helped prevent me from fussing and emailing my friends and family  with “have you read it?  How about now?  How about NOW?”  A distracted author means a happy reader.

Give it a try.  Some authors have enormous followings and can solicit hundreds of readers for their upcoming books, some, like me, have a few readers.  Either way, it’s worth the feedback, and will create  some early buzz for the book.

Ironically, your Beta Readers will  be some of your first customers, they will not only buy the finished product, they will be some of your best fans.

Remember that your Beta Readers are helping you out of love and/or loyalty, so remember to thank them.  A lot.  That’s what your acknowledgement page is for.  And lucky you if your book ends up with a two page acknowledgement list!

Let me know when you try this and the results.  I’ll discuss my own results when they come in.

You are welcome to re-post this article in your own blog or newsletter – please include this entire statement, “Catharine Bramkamp is a Writing Coach and podcaster, find out if you’re ready to go from  Newbie to Known visit http://www.yourbookstartshere.com or bramkamp@yahoo.com for a complimentary consultation.”

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How to Fish for Beta Readers

I don’t belong to a writing group, so when I “finished” the third draft of my novel, Future Girl, I needed opinions, readers, feedback, anything.  So I gathered a group of willing Beta Readers.  These readers are not strangers, although strangers would be ever better, much like what Guy Kawasaki does, but for me, I needed to start small.

So I contacted 15 friends in the hopes of gathering up at least five readers.

Here is the email for the invitation.

Guy Kawasaki

Guy is a genius at soliciting early readers.

Hi,

I need your help, I just finished the third draft of my Young Adult Time-Travel novel,  Future Girl (give my readers an idea of what the book is, because volunteering to read a text book is a different commitment than volunteering to read a copy for a thirty second video)  and I need a couple (so the reader knows he or she is not alone) of Beta Readers (I like Beta Reader as opposed to copy editor, or proof reader – those are more difficult jobs and are better paid)   to read the manuscript and tell me if it’s total crap or not.

If you choose to take on this project (the book is about 140 pages), I’ll send you the book in a Word doc so you can either mark it up, or save it as a PDF suitable for an e-reader. (Give them a choice as well as remind them they CAN transfer the copy to an e-reader).

I am asking for feedback – yeah or nay, by mid July (give them a rough due date in the invitation, the follow up letter will contain more instructions and a specific due date).

Interested?  Let me know, and thank you ahead of time!

Very Best,

Catharine

(I included a summary of the book in the invitation as well, so again, the reader knows what he or she is getting into, they know what to expect – much like any reader – and it forced me to start thinking about how to summarize the book, something I will need to do over and over as I promote it.)

Future Girl

On February 10, 2112 Charity Northquest has her whole future ahead of her – and the future sucks.

On February 11 she is offered the chance to fix it.

When Charity’s best friend is reported killed, but then re- appears as an old woman,  everything Charity has been taught is called into question.  Even if she doesn’t believe, the village rebellion  has already put her family in danger,  so the ill-prepared Charity is transported back to a irresistibly appealing 21st century where she must not only struggle against the  seduction of the past , but also the men who seem to help her.

Her single purpose of  changing the future fades with the increasingly more urgent question, can she survive the past?

Within 24 hours, seven of the 15 requested Beta Readers volunteered to read the book, which was very encouraging!   I immediately responded with the word doc manuscript and further ideas and instructions.

It’s a risk of  soliciting Beta Readers is you must throw your baby outdoors, you must take your brilliant idea and make it real by the very act of handing it out.  This is a huge step, congratulate yourself for doing it, for making the effort.  And I’ll keep you posted on how my experiment works.

You are welcome to re-post this article in your own blog or newsletter – please include this entire statement, “Catharine Bramkamp is a Writing Coach and podcaster, find out if you’re ready to go from  Newbie to Known visit http://www.yourbookstartshere.com or bramkamp@yahoo.com for a complimentary consultation.”

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Katy Moran – Writer and Author 

Our guest on Newbie Writers Podcast was the cooperative and cheerful Katy Moran from the edges of Wales who made both Damien and myself feel better about our weather.

She shared how a simple brooch, an artifact sparked two novels.  And the key to writing is to do it for your own enjoyment.  Because, as we said before, you may not be published, you may not become famous.  But if you love the work – the time is well spent.

Check out her books:

Katy Moran's new book

Katy Moran – Writer and Author | .

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Day of the Book

inkwell

Day of the Book

April 20, 2013

JFKU 100 Ellinwood Way, Pleasant Hill, CA

Time: 10-4

 Come and celebrate the Day of the Book!  We are putting together a fantastic group of speakers/authors just for you!  So if you’re in the East Bay on Saturday, April 20th, Come by!

Featuring the artists who created

Banned & Recovered: Artists Intervention is a collective response by 37 artists to the conspicuous success of book challenges and bannings in U.S. schools and libraries and the real threats to the U.S. Constitution posed by the 2003 U.S. Patriot Act.

Artists created new works of art inspired by titles from the long list of banned and challenged books. The result is a spectacular collection of witty, whimsical, angry, and thought-provoking statements about the ramifications of censorship and the importance of free speech. Together, the works shed new light on problematic issues and engage visitors in a lively dialog about the power of art in the face of censorship.

Also

What Is Your Big Idea? –   Beth Barany

Write your Book Now –  Catharine Bramkamp

Build Your Audience On-Line  – Stephanie Chandler

Women in the Air – Jeane Slone

GALACTIC EXODUS: A Science Fiction Documentary or History of the Future  – Michael Somers

Inheriting Identity: Fiction as Emotional Autobiography –  Elizabeth Rosner

Writing and Self-Publishing as Personal Expressions of Liberation and Autonomy.   – K. Tutashinda

Building a Vibrant Fictional World  – Tanya Egan Gibson

The Art of Spiritual Writing   Charles Burack, Ph.D

What’s Your Story? The Heart and Craft of Memoir Writing – Linda Joy Meyers

 

Admission

$35 with lunch

Faculty, staff, alumnae:  $25

Students: $20

 

Morning events open to the public 10-12

Panel discussion (lunch) 12-1

Literary salon 2-4

For early reservations contact: Catharine at bramkamp@yahoo.com

Oh, and look for information and tips here from the featured authors.

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10 Books That Rewrite History

Check this article out – the descriptions will give you an idea of what these books are all about, and if you’re like me, the descriptions are quite enough, thank you.

I’ve read two of these, understood one.  What’s your score?

10 Books That Rewrite History.

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Why we Spell Bad

This circulated around the web today, courtesy of my fellow writers at CWC Redwood Branch.

Do you have a strange mind?

if you can raed this, you have a sgtrane mnid too. Can you raed this? Olny plepoe with srtagne mnids can. I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae.

The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it whotuit a pboerlm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Cologne Typewriter

 

 

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