In the Northwest, we don't always see the moon. It shivers behind the shrouds of gloom and sneaks out only when the clouds open the ports. When I walked out of work a couple of days ago, I had to whirl around in the silvery sparkle and snatch up my camera.
Beta readers are just as rare. When you find a good one, it is time to celebrate. Many people will offer to be a beta reader, but I have found out all who offer should not be selected. Twice I gave my manuscript to readers who never read it. After three weeks, one woman had been too busy, but would get to it soon. I took it back and gave it to another. Another three weeks, again the next person hadn't gotten around to it. I got smart and started asking if they could do it in two weeks. I explained that I wanted to send it off to my BFF as soon as possible. The third beta reader read it in one week, but she forgot to fill out the chapter-by-chapter check list. She wrote a nice little paragraph about it, however, which had me panting in panic. She said some wonderful things, but it was this that skewered me on the terror-o-meter:
"The in-depth research into ships, history, sailing, and life on the sea really showed. Amazing amount of detail and new-to-me vocabulary."
This was disaster.
First of all, the research shouldn't be obvious. Neither should the "history." And the vocabulary; an amazing amount? Dear Lord. Too much. Way too much.
I made an appointment and bought her coffee at Starbucks and began the grilling. I wanted to bring hot lights to shine in her eyes, but my critique partner, Carol, wouldn't let me. The reader assured me that what she had said was a "good" thing. She said the amount of detail put her on the ship. She was there with them. The vocabulary was interesting, entertaining, fun. It was fascinating to find out some well known terms are nautical in origin by "watching" the scene unfold where it was used in its original habitat. She liked it (the vocabulary).
She has offered to read anything else I write. In fact, she is willing to read any of my critique group's manuscripts. She is the resplendent shimmering beams of the joyful moon.
I have an appointment with another reader next week. She's in the middle of Chapter 28, and wants to finish it tonight, but she hasn't a free moment to meet me "for the grilling" until Monday. I'll get her opinion about the vocabulary then, but I'll need to buy six more bottles of Maalox to get me through the weekend.
I'm so terrified.