Beta Readers, blog post, Lachesis Author Guest Blog, Mystery Authors, Mystery Novels, Police Procedurals, suspense, suspense thriller, suspense thrillers

Unravelling the Mystery of Beta Readers: by Alison Bruce #amwriting #mystery #betareaders #critquegroups

DEADLY DAMES POSTCARD 3Romantic suspense author Alison Bruce is a member of a dynamic critique group of very talented mystery authors. She and her group got together recently for a yummy potluck lunch. Among the topics discussed were the following: the making of a good murder, what makes a great sleuth, Original Oreos versus Double Stuffed and of course – the importance of beta readers. We’ll focus on the Beta Readers discussion today – and let the Deadly Dames battle over the Oreos.

These are the authors: Alison Bruce, Melodie Campbell, Catherine Astolfo, Janet BolinJoan O’Callaghan, Nancy O’Neill . . .

These are their stories . . .

Deadly Dames FB Banner3What makes a good beta-reader?

Alison Bruce:

Finding beta readers is a bit like matchmaking. It’s not just how good they are, but whether they like the kind of things you write. There’s no point asking thriller readers to beta read your cozy, no matter how mad their editorial skills are. If they don’t know and love your genre, they won’t be able to see if you go off the reservation. Knowledge of the publishing market also helps. For that reason, we often turn to other authors.  The first person I turn to is Nancy.

Nancy O’Neill:

A good beta reader is one who catches inconsistencies, oddities, and spelling/grammar mistakes.

A good beta reader questions things that are puzzling or unclear, or that disagree with something the author had written earlier in the same work.

A good beta reader identifies loose ends that need to be tied up.

A good beta reader provides suggestions to correct/clarify the problems they find. (These suggestions the author can use or disregard)

The beta reader has a fresh set of eyes that see more clearly than the author, who has read the same work so many times through the many rewrites that he/she can’t often see problems or errors anymore.

As a reader, there is nothing more jarring than finding a mistake in a published work. It immediately jolts you out of the story and destroys any momentum the author has built up. Often it is difficult to regain that momentum and sink back into the story. Beta readers help to find and eliminate anything that would impede a smooth and enjoyable experience for the reader!

Janet Bolin:

I made the mistake of reading what Nancy wrote–and I think she covers nearly everything. Maybe I can add this: A good beta reader can be objective and can combine honesty and tact. “They” say not to use friends and relatives, but if they can be objective, then I think it works very well. However, that can be a very big if…

Catherine Astolfo:

My beta readers are honest, yet encouraging. They all have a sense of story, plot, character and setting so they can give me both general and specific feedback. They comb for as many spelling, grammar and typo errors as they can. They also pick out any inconsistencies: the character would never say/do that! or that guy’s eyes were blue in Chapter 1 and brown in Chapter 2 or the plot wanders too much. They’ll do their own research to make sure squirrels really are awake to chatter in the winter.

Joan O’Callaghan:

I don’t have a lot of experience with beta readers. However – that being said – I think a good beta reader is someone who can put themselves into the mindset of your average reader (if there is such a thing as an average reader) and can sense what will appeal to that reader and what will derail them from pleasant immersion in the story.  AND – be able to articulate those things in a way that makes sense to the author.

How important are beta readers to you?

Catherine Astolfo:

My beta readers are essential to my writing. They nudge me along, correct my route, pick up my characters from the side of the road, and generally drive all of us to our destination. Without them, I’d have a lot of errors both in the text and in the story lines. Without them, my books would have been offal.

Alison Bruce:

One of my beta readers kept me from making a factual error that would have, if my reader knew anything about pharmacology, made my books seem like a mess of intestines too.

Janet Bolin:

Most of my critique partners and I have critiqued chapters as we write them. It can be a long process, but we can prevent one another from writing an entire manuscript based on veering in totally the wrong direction in the first chapter. The first person to read my entire manuscripts all at once was Faith Black Ross, my editor at Berkley Prime Crime. She made excellent suggestions.

 Joan O’Callaghan:

As writers, we are perhaps too close to our own work and have our own “darlings”.  We need a reality check from someone who is perhaps more objective.

Melodie Campbell,

For me, a beta reader goes way beyond proofing.  He/she comments on the structure of your story.  Does it work?  Should things be moved?  What’s missing?

I have a specific example re Rowena and the Viking Warlord, a humorous medieval time-travel fantasy.  Two of my four beta readers told me that the first half of the book was getting Game-of-Thrones grim.  They suggested I move one of the humorous parts forward, to break up the extreme tension.  I followed their advice, and am happy to say that the book is much better for it.  Tension escalates, and then is diffused by the humor, to give the reader some needed relief.  Then tension rises again to make the climax even more gripping.  I wouldn’t have made that excellent change, without feedback from my beta readers.

Astolfo-CathyCatherine Astolfo

Award-winning author of short stories, novels, novellas, and screenplays. Best known for her Emily Taylor mystery novels and her new Kira Callahan mystery novellas.

www.facebook.com/cathy.astolfo

twitter.com/cathyastolfo

www.catherineastolfo.com

Bolin-JanetJanet Bolin

Janet Bolin writes the Threadville Mystery Series–machine embroidery, murder, and mayhem in a village of sewing, quilting, yarn, and other crafty shops. Threadville Mysteries have been nominated for Agatha and Bony Blithe Awards.

www.facebook.com/Janet.Bolin.Author

threadvillemysteries.com

Bruce-AlisonAlison Bruce

Author of mystery, suspense and historical western romance novels. Three of Alison’s novels have been finalists for genre awards, including the Lou Allin Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novella.

www.facebook.com/alisonbruce.books

twitter.com/alisonebruce

www.alisonbruce.ca

Campbell-MelodieMelodie Campbell

The Toronto Sun called her Canada’s “Queen of Comedy.” Melodie Campbell has over 200 publications including 40 short stories and ten novels. She has won The Derringer, The Arthur Ellis, and eight other awards for crime fiction.

www.facebook.com/MelodieCampbellAuthor

twitter.com/melodiecampbell

www.melodiecampbell.com

O'Callaghan-JoanJoan O’Callaghan

Joan has had an active career in freelance writing, with over 30 educational publications to her credit.  Her short stories have been published in anthologies and online magazines.  In 2014, her flash fiction story, “Torch Song for Two Voices” won the Polar Expressions Publishing contest.

www.facebook.com/joan.ocallaghan

joanocallaghan.blogspot.ca

 

O'Neill-NancyNancy O’Neill

Nancy is a prolific reader of many genres but especially crime fiction (in all its sub-genres). Since she is also a retired teacher and many-time judge of literary contests, Nancy is practically a professional-grade beta-reader.

www.facebook.com/nancy.oneill.50

Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter and like our facebook page.

 

 

amreading, blog post, book reviews, Crime Thrillers, Dark Mystery, Lachesis Blog, Legal Thrillers, mystery, Police Procedurals, suspense, suspense thriller, suspense thrillers

Lachesis Publishing Book Reviews: The Vigilante by Jacqui Morrison (Reviewed by Alison Bruce)

THE-VIGILANTE-COVERIf the long-running Law & Order franchise ever spins off to Canada, The Vigilante would make a great template. Jacqui Morrison’s book has the right balance of police and legal procedural with a good helping of character development and social commentary thrown in.

On the police side, we have Lynette Winton, her colleagues at work and her mother at home.

A rookie detective, Lynette is determined to prove herself. At first, however, Lynette seems to be a study in what not to do. When we find out her family situation, it’s easier to understand her behaviour. She lives with her loving, but passive aggressive mother, who is so secretive about Lynette’s biological father that any child would become obsessed with discovering the truth.

Lynette might be wrong about how she finds the truth, but find it she does. She arrests the suspect dismissed by her senior colleagues, while saving the life of the next intended victim.

On the legal side, we have defense lawyer Maxine Swayman.

Maxine is Lynette’s opposite in more than the court case even to having a loving and supportive father. She is confident, charming, and has a sexy surgeon for a boyfriend. One thing both women share is determination. In this case, Maxine is determined that the accused, Wanda Chambers, gets the help she desperately needs.

imgresIt’s on the legal side of the story that Morrison really shines. It’s no surprise that the author’s community work has given her experience with social justice and court procedures. My one disappointment is that she failed to mention the robes that barristers wear in Superior Court. Also, unlike the U.S. (and civil cases in Canada) the defendant is customarily addressed as “the accused.” Those, and many more details that Morrison does touch on, highlight the differences we’d see in Law & Order CA as opposed to the US and UK varieties.

The guest star is, of course, the accused. There is no doubt that Wanda Chambers is guilty, the real question is whether the troubled woman will end up inside a prison or a hospital. And which one is justice? Through Lynette and Maxine, Morrison argues both sides of the case.

Since this is the first of a series, the personal story arcs have only just begun to unfold. The Vigilante’s case, on the other hand, is settled more than satisfactorily. ~ Alison Bruce (suspense author)

kaitlyn-wolfe-crown-attorney-500x724Jacqui Morrison is a crime thriller author. Her suspense thrillers include Kaitlyn Wolfe: Crown Attorney and The Vigilante. You can purchase both books at Lachesis Publishing. But that’s not where it begins and ends with Jacqui. You see, Jacqui works with victims and witnesses of crimes. Her passion for working in the law started at at a young age, when she was inspired by a character in a popular TV show . . . 

You can get The Vigilante. on amazon, barnes and noble, koboYou can also purchase Kaitlyn Wolfe: Crown Attorney on amazon

Connect with author Jacqui Morrison online on her web site and on facebook and twitter.

Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter and like our Lachesis Publishing facebook page.

 

 

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How my day job inspires my writing by Alexis D. Craig (romance author and police dispatcher)

csi-miamiWhen I first started at police dispatch, ER was still on. As was Third Watch, NCIS, & CSI. I am a procedural junkie.

er2I love everything about them. Their formats, their crisis of the week, all of it, but what I love most are the ongoing, longterm character arcs. Seeing the life beyond the craziness of their daily grind.

ncis-tony-ziva-reunionPeople are fascinating creatures to me. I like to see & understand all the parts that go into the facade we show the world. What makes an elementary school teacher become a cop, what a hard-charging cop does to unwind. I like seeing who the characters are when they’re most vulnerable. The chinks in armor are what makes them more real to me.

And I approach my work this way, too. I’m all about the action, I love a good chase or fight scene. A countdown to an apocalypse that only the protagonist  can solve. But at the same time, I want to know what they read, what they drink, what makes their world a little more sane. Then my job comes in translating this understanding of them as whole people onto paper.

swatThe technical aspects of the job are the tricky part for me. It’s one thing to have a grand idea of a kidnapping and hostage rescue with all the bells and whistles. It’s something else when you try to write it and not sound like a goof with no idea of how any of that actually works. There are a ton of moving parts to any large operation and conveying them to the reader can be difficult if you’re not clear on it yourself. This where I’m truly lucky.

images-1The unmitigated bonus of 13 years in law enforcement is connections. All kinds of them, and for the type of writing I do, they’re priceless. You want to plan a siege of fortified building with SWAT? One phone call, and it cost me lunch one summer afternoon. Want to learn the finer points of homicide investigation? I have folks who’ve done nothing but hunt killers for over a decade. It doesn’t matter how outlandish the idea, there’s someone available to help you build the framework to make it happen.

820_dwayne-johnson-samuel-jackson-are-hot-rod-cops-in-the-other-guys-wife-289322900I wanted to plan a hostage situation/SWAT rescue for a story, so I called a friend, we’ll call him Anton. Anton is smoking hot eye candy in addition to being a great tactician & SWAT operator. We came out on the job at the same time, same district, but opposite sides of the radio. He let me pick his brain for 90 minutes at lunch, walking me through every scenario I could think of, even walking me through the finer points of shaped charges and explosive entry (he really didn’t need to be any hotter). Then after all that, he hooked me up with a hostage negotiator. I spent about two hours grilling him for info.

All that research and all it cost me was lunch. I love my jobs.

Give Me Shelter COVERLachesis Publishing author Alexis D. Craig writes sultry and funny romantic suspense (Give Me Shelter and Imminent Danger) featuring the brave men and women in law enforcement.  She also writes super hot erotica featuring sexy cops (Undercover Seduction). By day Alexis is a police dispatcher so she knows her cops!

You can get Alexis’s romantic suspense Give Me Shelter at Lachesis Publishing and on amazon.com, at Barnes and Noble and Kobo.

Connect with Alexis D. Craig on her website, and on facebook,  twitter and goodreads.

Like our Lachesis Publishing page on facebook.
Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter.

authors, blog post, Crime Thrillers, Lachesis Author Guest Blog, Lachesis authors, Lachesis Blog, Lachesis Publishing Inc., Legal Thrillers, Police Procedurals, suspense, suspense thriller, suspense thrillers, writing craft, writing inspiration, Writing voice

How I Nurture My Writing Voice by Jacqui Morrison (crime thriller author)

You can't hit those high notes in writing without practice! www.neatorama.com
You can’t hit those high notes in writing without practice! www.neatorama.com

A writing voice is similar to a singing voice, you can have natural talent but without patience and practice it won’t come out in its fullest form.

kaitlyn-wolfe-crown-attorneyMy writing is heavily character driven. I have to know all I can about a character before I can truly create him or her. I write up to eighty biographical elements about the character and I use these items for continuity. If the protagonist drives a Prius on page seven she better drive the same kind of car on page 200, if not readers will notice.

I write a point-form biography on my protagonist, love interest and my foil. I have a basic template for the biography and I become highly curious about the character. What was their childhood like? Where did they go to school? What scares them? What did they want to be when they grew up?

Fur-get-about-it.
Fur-get-about-it.

I love writing characters who have a dark side or a dark twist to their nature; they can bring out parts of me that I can’t bring out in real life. For example, I wrote a scene in Kaitlyn Wolfe, Crown Attorney where a young Maxine Swayman told a store clerk that she loved a coat with a removable fur collar so she could wear it to anti-fur demonstrations. Maxine’s mother admonished her in the store.

I had a real life experience where a persistent salesperson tried to sell me a similar coat. I ignored the clerk’s pleas for me to buy fur and looked for other more suitable coats. Driving home from the store, I thought how I would have loved to shock the clerk, but in reality I didn’t. The silly thought rolled around in my head and when Maxine was born, I had the opportunity to use it.

My writing voice has developed over time. I truly believe that without constant honing of my skills I couldn’t be a writer. Writing characters, for me, is fun, but sometimes I have trouble plotting.

I’ve learned to use a plot chart to make my stories work. The stakes start small for the protagonist and get higher as the novel progresses. When I use the plot chart and I see a flat line, I know the story is not working the way it should. I will then painstakingly edit the non-progressive part until the story advances, as it should.

Character outlines are a fun and creative exercise and you get to compile lots of pretty pictures.
Character outlines are a fun and creative exercise and you get to compile lots of pretty pictures.

Next time you see a red-haired woman, in a coat with a fake fur collar, driving a Prius you’re likely seeing my antagonist Maxine Swayman. (Note: Maxine Swayman appears in both Kaitlyn Wolfe and Vigilante and her character has developed over the course of both books).

Jacqui Morrison is a crime thriller author. Her suspense thrillers include Kaitlyn Wolfe: Crown Attorney and The Vigilante. You can THE-VIGILANTE-COVERpurchase both books at Lachesis Publishing. But that’s not where it begins and ends with Jacqui. You see, Jacqui works with victims and witnesses of crimes. Her passion for working in the law started at at a young age, when she was inspired by a character in a popular TV show . . . 

You can get The Vigilante. on amazon, barnes and noble, koboYou can also purchase Kaitlyn Wolfe: Crown Attorney on amazon

Connect with author Jacqui Morrison online on her web site and on facebook and twitter.

Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter and like our Lachesis Publishing facebook page.

 

authors, blog post, Horror, horror fiction, Lachesis Author Guest Blog, Lachesis authors, Lachesis Blog, paranormal, paranormal romance, Police Procedurals

What are you afraid of? by Sara Brooke (horror fiction author)

The Shining directed by Stanley Kubrick (based on Stephen King) novel.
The Shining – the 1980 classic horror film directed by Stanley Kubrick (based on Stephen King) novel.

As the Halloween season begins, there’s plenty of talk about what is frightening. TV shows and movies begin their annual fright fests – from the horror classics to the latest slasher flick.

It seems that everyone is trying to remind the world that there are things that are scary. And most profitably, it’s the media that generates the most in advertising dollars that makes it on to your TV screen throughout the month of October.

As a writer of horror fiction, this is also the time of year when I receive the most requests to write blogs, do interviews, and appear on podcast shows to talk about “scary stuff”. But when I’m asked what scares me the most, people don’t find my answer appealing.

The Awakening Book 1 The Bloodmane Chronicles by Sara BrookeBecause right now, I’m afraid of failure.

Allow me to explain.

At present, I’ve ventured into the slightly- terrifying world of Hollywood, where agents, producers, and media giants are looking for the next big thing. There are writers working on a pilot script for a show that would be based on the Bloodmane book series that has been released by Lachesis Publishing. Book One – THE AWAKENING –  was released earlier this year and Books Two and Three are in development or pre-press production, respectively.

In addition, there are discussions about a paranormal reality show and some other ventures.

So, why does this all frighten me?

It doesn’t, actually. The possibilities are exciting and the amazing people working together to potentially make things happen in the future are some of the most incredible human beings I’ve ever met.

Author Sara Brooke
Author Sara Brooke

But it’s the fear of failure that gets me every time. Whenever there’s an obstacle, a delay, a bump in the road, my feverish mind worries that “This is it. It’s all over.”

I know this fear is irrational and silly. You have to take risks to make the magic happen. Still, my point is that sometimes what frightens us isn’t the conventional boogie man or the dark shape in the corner of the room—rather, it’s the fear of the unknown future. It’s fear of what might never be.

Truth be told, I’m not alone in this. Many people suffer from fear of failure. It can be so entirely crippling that it can drain a person’s will to take chances.

The good news is that this fear—like many others—can be controlled and perhaps even overcome. It is a process and part of our growth as individuals. I guess there is beauty in that. Even though it’s really scary, taking a chance can ultimately lead to better things.

www.arts-stew.com
www.arts-stew.com

So, for the many interviewers out there who are going to ask me—the horror writer—what do I find scary . . . let’s consider another question . . . like “What fear are you hoping to one day overcome?”

Hopefully by the time I answer that question, I’m a few steps closer to the solution.

Happy Halloween.

Sara Brooke is an Amazon bestselling author of horror, paranormal romance, and suspense fiction.

You can get Sara’s Lachesis Publishing release – The Awakening: Book 1 Bloodmane Chronicles at Lachesis Publishing, as well as amazon.com, barnes and noble, kobo, and iTunes.

 

You can Like Sara’s facebook page  – called, The Bloodmane Chronicles . Connect with Sara on facebook, on twitter @SaraBrooke8, and on her website. Sara welcomes feedback and questions from readers.

blog post, Crime Thrillers, Lachesis Author Guest Blog, Lachesis authors, Lachesis Blog, Lachesis Publishing Inc., Legal Thrillers, mystery, Police Procedurals, suspense, suspense thrillers, writing craft, writing inspiration

Has a fictional character ever inspired you in some way? by Jacqui Morrison

THE-VIGILANTE-COVERJacqui Morrison is a crime thriller author. Her suspense thrillers include Kaitlyn Wolfe: Crown Attorney and The Vigilante. You can purchase both books at Lachesis Publishing. But that’s not where it begins and ends with Jacqui. You see, Jacqui works with victims and witnesses of crimes. Her passion for working in the law started at at a young age, when she was inspired by a character in a popular TV show . . . 

Barbara Hale as Della Street from the Perry Mason TV show
Barbara Hale as Della Street from the Perry Mason TV show

Della Street (Barbara Hale) was my favourite character from the television show Perry Mason (which ran from 1957 to 1966). From a young age, I knew I wanted to do something with the law, little did I know that my love of law and justice would turn into a passion for writing courtroom dramas.

At the young age of ten, I’d voraciously watch episodes of Perry Mason, an American TV show about a fictional lawyer. I’d sit down in front of our black and white television and devour every minute of the legal show.

152417593I loved the character Della Street and I erroneously thought she was also a lawyer. Her classy style of speaking, combined with perfect outfits, made for a healthy obsession. I think I was her number one fan.

Perry Mason TV show
Perry Mason TV show

I was so obsessed with what I learned on Perry Mason that I would talk non-stop with my dad about the show. He humoured me as only a father can. I was so enthralled with the show that when I heard that a small provincial courthouse was within walking distance of my house, I wanted to sneak in and watch a real live trial!

kaitlyn-wolfe-crown-attorneyIn Ontario, Canada, where I lived in the 1970s, they brought courts to small towns because not a lot of people had cars. That’s why there was a courthouse that doubled as an arts and craft venue on other days. I never got up the nerve to enter the court, but I know I dreamt about it. My early fascination with courts and Perry Mason eventually led me to become an an author of crime and courtroom thrillers. It’s a fascination that will always inspire me, both in my work and in my writing.

You can get The Vigilante. on amazon, barnes and noble, koboYou can also purchase Kaitlyn Wolfe: Crown Attorney on amazon

Connect with author Jacqui Morrison online on her web site and on facebook and twitter.

Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter and like our Lachesis Publishing facebook page.