6 Things I Learned From Beta-readers

Beta-readers are the people who read your manuscript before it’s published to give you advice about how to make it better.

Sort of like “beta players” in the gaming industry are the lucky dogs who get to see Destiny 2 before the rest of us players who test the game while it’s still in “beta” and not ready to be released for the masses.

So what have they taught me?

  1. I have a coy writing style, frequently sacrificing “communicative” for “cute”.
  2. When you tack a beginning onto the front of your book…people can tell that you just tacked a beginning onto the front of your book.
  3. Layman beta-reader: “I like it.”
    Author beta-reader: *3 pages later…*
  4. Not everyone has lived in my pretend world for years the way I have.
  5. REWRITE REWRITE REWRITE and don’t stress it, ’cause you won’t please everyone.
  6. High-quality beta-readers = worth their weight in gold.

Thank you for reading this week’s stand-in blog post; now I’m off to rework that tacky beginning 😉

Eternity in a Chick’s Eyes

Stare at the Chicken

…And Your Soul Stares Back At You

Meet Gimpy.

When my mom recently mail-ordered 15 baby chicks, one of them came with a bum leg. It seems twisted backward/upside-down somehow, and makes it hard for the poor little guy to walk.

He’s my favorite, though – partly because he’s the one I can usually identify with certainly.

Life isn’t all roses and Starter Feed for our flamingo-wannabe.  Continue reading

My Dad

Why should I celebrate my dad?

  • I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him (!)
  • He’s told me about God for as long as I can remember.
  • I know I am a princess, because Daddy said so.
  • He taught me everything I know (except for Home Ec., introvert-coping, and all the other things Mom taught me instead).
  • What he doesn’t know that can’t be easily referenced from Wikipedia probably isn’t worth knowing.
  • He makes me laugh. And laugh. And laugh. Oh, boy.
  • If I need him, he will come…time and distance no object. Literally.
  • So many computer games I would have never seen without him…
  • Did I mention he’s wildly in love with my mother? My future husband has some expectations to live up to…
  • Don’t tell Dad about the problem unless you want him to fix it – or buy you something. He loves to buy people things.
  • We’ve never had a TV in our house, and we never missed it. Dad is the news, the sit-com, the reality show, the late night talk show, the skit team, and the weather channel – and for commercials we have youtube. (And, yes, he does have different accents for all those!)
  • He is the self-declared “worst influence in my life”.
  • I have a website designer, IT trouble-shooter, network technician, netiquette consultant, and device-whisperer in-house. He fixes my problems because I am his precious little princess.
  • ALL MY STORY PROBLEMS GO AWAY WHEN I TALK TO HIM. Now, remembering the brilliant solutions he gave me when it comes time to write is another thing…
  • One of the reasons I write about fathers is that not everybody could have my dad as a father, but they can have God as a father and that’s even better! But it’s hard for dads to be the superheroes they were built to be, and maybe having role models in fiction will help them, and their kids. (Maybe.)

Whatever the big, scary thing is, I know my daddy will protect me. That’s what daddies do. And if he can’t – because the thing is inside me – he’ll do the next best thing: take it to our Father in Heaven (who is even more big and awesome than anything you’ve ever seen!).

Thanks, Dad. Love you lots – but you loved me, first.

Why I Don’t Need College

It’s a season of transition for many, as students graduate and prepare for the next stage of their lives. My cousin and brother have both graduated from high school. Many high school students will go on to college/university.

But this cultural edifice is not for me.

Be careful how you share this online, so my grandparents don’t see it (!) but in spite of their repeated entreaties, I don’t feel the need for more than my 4.0 Associate of Arts degree. In case some of my reasons resonate with you, I’m sharing them. Continue reading

Distance and the Heart

My brother just spent nine weeks at the International ALERT Academy Basic Training in Big Sandy, Texas. The fall-out has been interesting.

I didn’t miss him as much as I had suspected, seeing how close we are. A little background: we are the only “real” siblings in our family. While we had several foster siblings off and on growing up (that we love in a different way) he and I have a special bond, especially as we’ve grown older and more mature. We still get on each other’s nerves, but we’d die for each other in a heartbeat… Continue reading

My Mom

  • With the help of the Lord, she “brought me forth”.
  • Since before I understood English, she has taught me about Jesus.
  • She has taught me everything I know (except for Latin, ‘Eighties Culture, and sundry other things).
  • She is my companion, my confidante, my best friend, role model, educator, project buddy, mentor, and encourager.
  • She has a magic touch with little kids. You know those princesses in movies who can talk with the animals? My mom works strange and wonderful things with toddlers and babies.
  • It’s not just me, either! This woman does it all — dirty work, hungry families, unwatched children, messy rooms, late-night overtime, the soiled laundry of half-blind old people…whatever the disaster is, my mom is there, up to her elbows in helping. In the dictionary next to “hard worker,” they’ve put her picture (much to her chagrin, as she doesn’t like her picture taken).
  • Is it any wonder she’s the pattern for all my female characters? (Except for the bland or ditzy ones – those are me.)
  • She gave me my looks 🌷
  • No matter what the situation, no matter where I am, I know my mom is in my corner, and will give me solid advice (even if I don’t like it).

Feel free to disagree, but like it or not my mom is the best there is. The best.

(She will hate this whole post because she doesn’t like being talked about 😉)

Love you, Mom. Thanks for being you, and making me who I am.

Author’s Guild Rails at Amazon’s Buy-Box

(This post might be more interesting to the writers among us, but readers and buyers-of-books are also affected by the dynamics of this issue.)

Author’sGuild.org recently posted an article discussing a change in Amazon’s algorithms regarding who gets top billing in what is called the “buy box” of books – apparently the display at the top that lists all available formats and the relative prices. As you might know, a little farther down appear links to other retailers offering “used” or “new” copies of the books.

Currently, Amazon places itself in the prime “buy box” spot, as the first buy-option people see, but according to the article Amazon intends to use metrics to allow third-party retailers the chance to get in that prize spot. (Amazon gets its stock from the publishers, but acts as the distributor itself.)

Author’s Guild (AG) is incensed at the suggested change, but on reading their article I find their arguments less than compelling. Continue reading

Diversity in Games

The YouTube team ExtraCredits creates short, thought-provoking videos about the craft of game design, story creation, the philosophy and psychology of building and playing video games, and other cool stuff.

One of their videos discusses Rust by Facepunch Studios, a multi-player survival game. In Rust, the physical appearance of every player’s character is randomly generated: specifically their skin color. The format doesn’t allow for re-rolling, so whatever your character looks like is what you’re stuck with – what you’re “born with,” as it were.

Continue reading

10 Things I’ll Miss Post-Apocalypse

I’m facing the imminent collapse of my nation. “Imminent” might mean (hopefully means) fifty or seventy years from now, but the full end of the United States is inevitable. It happened to Rome, to the U.S.S.R., to the Ming dynasty, to Babel…

Image credit : christinprophecy.org

But I’m not here to talk about cultural suicide or political theory. I’m here to offer a eulogy of sorts to ten things I will miss when civilization as I know it takes a turn for the worst. It’s how I cope, okay? 😛 Continue reading

5 Fixes for a Brother Who Grew (WITHOUT Permission!)

5 Ways to Fix a Little Brother Who Grew
WITHOUT PERMISSION

The brother. At first he was a manageable size – perhaps bread-box sized. Next he started moving around, and was more dog-sized, but that was all right, since you’d grown, too. Eventually, he was allowed out of the high chair, because he was too big for that, but you didn’t need to investigate your options prematurely…

Then. Then you got up one morning and there he was: an enormous creature, towering over you. How? Why? And how was it you weren’t consulted?

20161013_114108Take heart – I’ve walked this path, too. I feel the trauma, and I have 5 solutions to offer the desperately out-grown:

  1. Bricks on his head.

Ideally, this should be done before the growth takes place, but if you are at a stage when slowing him down won’t help, the best you can hope for is that they’ll 1) telescope his spine, or 2) give him a bad stoop, bringing him back to eye-level.

2. Platform shoes.

The poor girl’s solution, and not really feasible if you are a short older brother.

3. Instill in him a proper respect for authority.

Again, this is ideally begun at an earlier stage, but there’s no harm done in attacking the root of the issue. Young men who respect their elders and betters will naturally refrain from dominating the head-space.

4. Only appear next to him in forced perspective.

This might seem like a band-aid solution, but if it protects your pride, that’s a vital organ to protect.

5. LAST RESORT SOLUTION: Bludgeon him into submission and make him crawl on his hands and knees.

20161013_113154This should only be undertaken under the most drastic of circumstances. Tip: if bludgeoning is not an option for moral, physical, or financial reasons, hiding his game controller or unplugging his computer might yield similar results.

(If you succeed in subjugating him, congratulate yourself! You may have lost the height battle, but you’ve gained a minion, and the usefulness of those as cannon fodder and hero-distractions cannot be minimized.)


cropped-IMGP5698-wVerse.jpgKimia Wood has been writing stories since she was little. Now she writes to give the people living in her head a chance at life, and to make beautiful things with words.

Her wonderful little brother turns 19 on February 8th. 😊