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Insights: My Beta Reading Experience

It has been a bit since I posted an update, but I have needed some time to put together this next post about the terrifying topic of Beta Reading!

Now what is beta reading?
Beta Reading is when an author reaches out to potential readers and get their feedback on the unpublished story. This is different from an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) reader, who reviews the book in its final form before being published.

My Experience
Over the past couple of months, I have had the opportunity to be on both sides of the Beta Reading Spectrum – as the recipient and as a reader.

My personal experience as a beta reading recipient went through two rounds. My first round I deemed unsuccessful. Few of my readers finished or responded after the first couple weeks. Some of the problems were my own: I released chapters in segments rather all at once, I didn’t regularly update my beta readers, and quite frankly, the story wasn’t ready.

My second round went a lot better. Of the 14 beta readers, 10 of them openly finished. Anything higher than 50% completion with beta reading I think is a success. Not only that, while there were things that needed to be adjusted, the feedback was great. I was terrified people would hate it, but they loved it…and that made this all the better.

After receiving my own beta feedback, I had the honor to beta read for Esther T. Jones’s second novel, Thorunn. While I won’t go into details on the actual story (that will be saved for the book review when the novel is released), it opened my eyes on how to improve the beta reading experience of my readers in the future.

So, after these experiences, I wanted to pass along some insights to others who may be preparing to either send their novel to beta readers or for any readers preparing to beta read. While in no way these are universal, I think they provide some insight…or I hope so.

Personally, I love beta reading. 

It’s a way to help writers improve their stories. It’s stressful to receive feedback too. But, it is a necessary evil. 

Since I’m currently starting to beta read another story so at the moment I am not available to beta read. When I am, I will post on my various social media accounts since this is something I do in my free time. 

Thanks again everyone. I hope this helps. 
Book Review

ALiCE – Book Review

ALiCE by Avalon Roselin

Rating: ★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

This story is not for the faint of heart. Delve deep into the terror of psyche and of nightmares in the world of ALiCE.

The tale takes the common elements of Alice in Wonderland and spins them into a distorted story that questions sanity. Is it a dream? Are you a dream? Am I? Is there any escape from this madness?

ALiCE follows the protagonist, Christopher Robinson as he awakens in a hospital and finds himself on an island of no escape, full of nightmares while searching for one of the children at the Asylum – Mickey, a disturbed boy with few friends. He meets many interesting and terrifying individuals – Morgan the cop, Matthew the Deli Owner, Mary & Joseph and their creepy dolls, Able the gardener, and of course…Michael, the terrifying, manipulative man that appears at all the wrong moments at all the right times. 

To an extent, Christopher is a sleeve, which is exactly the type of protagonist needed for this type of story. The reader spirals with him and meanders in the same confusion while wanting what he wants. Avalon does an amazing job in pulling us along with Christopher and leaving an air of trepidation in his wake. 

Now I can’t finish this review without raving about the ending! Without going into spoilers, let me say that it was not something I was expecting! So if you think this will be your typical Alice in Wonderland ending, think again.

But as I said, it’s not for the faint of heart. So be wary, be careful…and as Avalon writes towards the end: sleep well

What’s it about? 

Christopher was a simple man with a simple goal: to make sure his charges at Woodrow Children’s Asylum were as healthy and happy as possible.  Not an easy task, and running out of medicine on the stormiest night of the year didn’t make it any easier.

The car accident made it impossible.

Now stranded on a nearly-deserted island with no clue as to how or why he and one of his patients were brought there, Christopher’s goal has changed: get the child and himself out of Wonderland.  Faced with the cruel inhabitants of the island and his own dwindling sanity, Christopher must find a way to escape before he becomes a victim of one of the island’s many lunatics… or joins them.

Book Review

Maple Street – Book Review

Rating: ★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

You’ll never notice Maple Street, but it’s there, like any road you might drive on during the day or at night. It’s filled with monsters, witches, ghosts and mummies…all the creatures from your dreams (or your nightmares).

But the creatures of Maple Street aren’t out to hurt you; no, they’re just like you and me, with neighbors, lives, and adventures behold. 

Written like an informative newspaper article, with a Twilight-zone like feel to it, A.M. Dorhauer takes us down Maple Street in a story fit for Halloween. You’ll meet each of the neighbors, and come away feeling more bewitched. Dorhauer’s descriptions are lovely, leaving a luscious image in your mind of Maple Street. In fact, next time you’re out and about, you may even look for Maple Street yourself – I know I did!

It’s a fast read which leaves you with a warm feeling, like warm pumpkin pie. Definitely a good read for anyone looking to get into the spooky spirit. 

What’s it about? 

Halloween isn’t at all what you’ve read in stories. As it turns out, witches aren’t warty old women (for 2/3rds of the day), and werewolves don’t need the full moon to hunt. Vampires hoard their treasures worse than any dragon, and mummies see more than most as they stalk the woods at night. For the first time, humans are allowed a glimpse into this world, and the true essence of not just the holiday, but the creatures we think we know. Enter the street where Halloween lives every day and see for yourself what lies beyond. And who knows? You may find friends waiting for you.

[Author/Book Recommendation Form]

Book Review

The Queen of Cups – Book Review

The Queen of Cups by Ren Basel

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)

The Queen of Cups is a heartwarming short adventure about Theo and their travels to the Oracle and through a death-defying ordeal. Although the protagonist is a neurodivergent non-binary individual, it is not the focus of the tale, choosing instead to looking at the journey ahead and Theo’s adventure. 

Ren’s writing is lovely and well put together for a first-time publication. The world they develop is clearly thought through. The Oracle’s position in it all, despite the story being short, is clearly defined, as well as some aspects of the beliefs and magic. Within the story, Ren identifies Theo’s quirks and passions. Truthfully, the entire tale is beautiful.

Yet, despite the beauty of the work, I can only give it 3 out 5 stars. Why? Frankly, it comes down to the length. Short stories as a whole are difficult, and this one needed at least another couple thousand words to flesh out Theo’s perilous journey – “for the journey is long and the ocean’s tests are many”. For a story whose description ends on such a tempting tale, the fact that Theo does not embark on their quest until more than halfway through the story is disheartening. Adding a bit more to the journey may have fleshed out my support of Theo through their arduous trek.

That being said, the future of this author is promising. The world they created in this tale gives a lot of promise, and with writing so lovely how can there not be a bright future ahead? 

What’s it about? 

A mysterious woman known only as The Oracle resides on the seashore, blessing ships and telling fortunes for those who can pay her price. For new-made ship captain Theo Marinos, the price is higher than it first seems.

If Theo has any hope of surviving their ship’s first voyage, they must trust not just in The Oracle, but in themself–for the journey is long, and the ocean’s tests are many. 

[Author/Book Recommendation Form]

Book Review

Dragonsong – Book Review

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)

Dragonsong by Audrey Rose B. is a wonderful short story that encompasses fate and love, traditionally seen in Fantasy stories. In the time I spent with Rynn and Elanthia, I grew attached to their plights and their budding romance, rooting for them to kiss and fly off into the sunset together. 
The world is magical and full of creativity; the dragons’ intelligence put me in awe, the fairies made me laugh, and the worldbuilding warmed my heart. As I read it, and I mean this as a full compliment, I saw it playing out as an animated Disney moving of a princess and her heroine going off on a grand adventure.
The ending is expected, like a Disney movie, but that does not take away from this tale’s wonder! It’s well written and leaves me craving for more. I hope to see more from this author in the future – and if it revisits Rynn and Elanthia, I wouldn’t complain. 
Initially, I was going to rate this story 4 out 5 stars, but a day later, I still can’t get it out of my head…so I am happy to rate it 5 out of 5 stars! 
Please, if you have an hour, go check out Dragonsong and be whisked away on an adventure!

What’s it about? 

A light fantasy short story by Audrey Rose B. featuring dragons, adventure and romance.

When a mysterious girl falls from the sky and lands on a dragon rider’s mount, the two strangers must rely on each other despite their differences and the burgeoning political conflict between their homes.
Book Review

Stellar Eclipse: Cloudless Rain – Book Review

Stellar Eclipse: Cloudless Rain by Avalon Roselin

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)

Truthfully, I’ll be frank: I went into Cloudless Rain not sure if I would like it. Usually from the get-go, stories with a mix of human and non-human creatures make me wary (let’s disregard sci-fi with aliens though – that’s a different way of looking at things altogether). But elements of a murder mystery and found family certainly caught my attention, and for that, I am so glad I picked this one up!

Avalon writes a compelling, heartwarming tale with unique and diverse characters. I felt connected to all four of the main characters: Eureka, Baltan, Azzie, and Lleuwellyn all have my heart. I was even intrigued by the mysterious Selkess who pulled on the strings of the plot. 

Other than catching the bad guy, I wanted them all to reach their goals! I wanted Baltan to come to terms with himself, for Eureka to accept himself, for Azzie to find his family, and for Lleuwellyn to accept his place. The realism of their goals, and the emotions the group shares, only compliments Avalon as a writer. 

The story itself is a fast and enjoyable read! I only wish there was more!

So for that, I absolutely cannot wait for the sequel. 

What’s it about? 

Murder is no unusual phenomenon in Marina Delta, a fact former investigators Baltan and Eureka know all too well. But when Eureka brings home a wounded child bearing the mark of an infamous serial killer they put behind bars fifteen years ago, it’s clear that this is no ordinary crime.
Baltan thought his days as a detective were done, and taking on the case will mean dealing with a demon they both would rather leave behind. However, with a bloodthirsty cult mobilizing again, a child with no past in their custody, and only days to stop the most devastating tragedy of their time, taking action is their only choice.
Caught between family, duty, life, and death, Baltan and Eureka will have to decide what they’re willing to sacrifice—and who they’re willing to sacrifice for.

[Author/Book Recommendation Form]

Book Review

Tedenbarr of Have Lath – Book Review

Tedenbarr of Have Lath by Esther T. Jones

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5/5 stars)

Tedenbarr of Have Lath introduces a uniquely complex world that has many elements of well thought out world building and an array of different characters. While the story itself is a rather traditional hero’s journey, it keeps you rooting for the protagonist to return home to his beloved, as is his driving quality.

That being said, Tedenbarr is a sleeve-type of a protagonist: you put him on to see the world through his eyes, but because of that, you miss many other deeper and more interesting aspects to the entire story. I finished the book wishing to know more about many of the minor characters: Mikael, Tiana, Chester, and Lach to name a few.

The author has put a lot of thought into this world though and it is a shame it is all contained to one book. Some stories might not need multiple books, but I think this story with its multiple cultures, a long list of characters, and multi-tiered subplots would have thrived on multiple books. It would have given me, as a reader, a chance to really get to know Tedenbarr, as well as his friends and their struggles, and paint a bigger picture other than Teddy’s quest home.

Esther Jones is a fantastic writer though, and for a first novel, her prose is elegant and paints lovely pictures of the world as a whole. I do hope to see more of Aistes, Linkwood forest, and the world.

Needless to say, Tedenbarr of Have Lath is an outline of what might come in the future. I do hope to see this world again in later novels.

What’s it about? 

Adventure! Treachery! Danger on the High Seas!

After months of forced servitude aboard a cargo ship en route from the Kingdom of the West, all Tedenbarr wants is to return to his beloved home.

But when a brutal pirate attack leaves Tedenbarr stranded on the far shores of the Eastern Kingdom, Tedenbarr must embark on an arduous and harrowing journey from East to West with only his wit, and will to survive against the many trials that beset him along the way.

Faced with danger from land and sea, foreigner and country-kin, Tedenbarr’s travels promise to take him through perilous, lonely mountains, across vast, thirsty deserts, and into the very heart of a city poised on the brink of civil war.

Only time will tell if Tedenbarr can succeed in his quest to return to Have Lath, and finally reunite with his friends, family and the woman he left behind.

[Author/Book Recommendation Form]