*Warning – the definitions contained herein have not been confirmed by Google b/c I’m simply telling you my gut definition.
1. Introduction (What is a beta reader? How is this creature different than an advanced reader?)
To my knowledge, a beta reader is someone who reads an unpublished manuscript with an eye for sense, sensibility, and general grammar gaffs.
An advanced reader is someone who reads a soon-to-be-published manuscript with an understanding that if they like it they’ll put a review on it once the book goes live. Traditional publishers have given away Advanced Reader Copies practically since the stone age of publishing. Indie publishers too know the value of good publicity.
Beta readers can be advanced readers, but the end goal is more to make the manuscript better than to get great reviews, though that is a nice bonus.
2. When and how do you use beta readers?
When you have a finished manuscript you’ve polished a few times yourself, dig up some beta readers and see what they think. You’re completely biased when it comes to your story. Get a second, third, and fourth opinion.
Find out what format each person wants and give them the story in that format (epub, mobi, pdf are the popular formats). Keep a record of who gets what, when they get it, when they return it with comments, and the quality of those comments so you can keep track of who’s an awesome reader and who’s lousy at corresponding. You’ll need that info to refine your list later.
3. How many is enough?
For the Lei Crime Kindle World stories, I keep a list of about 50 people to contact. At any given time of year, about 10-15 of those will reply to a beta reader call. Of the responses, a few will be “so sorry, too busy right now” sorts and the rest will be “count me in!”.
4. How do you find them?
I got lucky in that the Lei Crime Kindle World main author, Toby Neal, had a list of beta readers she shared with us. (These were fans who already love her work who said they’d be willing to help out with the KW stories.) Several of those loved my work enough to follow me on some other private projects.
Over time, I’ve also found some beta readers from my newsletter list (painstakingly built over the years) as well as Facebook groups. When I took part in a fantasy anthology, many of the authors agreed to beta read each other’s stories. Same thing happened with a Christian anthology I entered, but that was a little more organized because there were far fewer authors so we all had to read 2 other stories to make it work.
Family members can be good beta readers, but it really depends on the situation. Do not rely upon them as your only feedback because they are biased too. Unless they’re already an editor in the real world, family members tend not to give you the sort of feedback you need (this and this and that needs to be reworked to make the story awesome.)
5. What if you don’t agree with them?
It’s always nice to have beta readers who say “this is wonderful” but they’re not typically the most useful. The main goal of having beta readers is to improve the overall quality of the story. Not every beta reader has the right mind or skill set to give you articulate feedback you can work with. Some will just comb through for basic grammar mistakes and that’s totally helpful too. I used to read my own projects 9 times before letting others read it. Then I started writing more and 9 became an untouchable number of reads.
Hearing about flaws can be tough, but those who can point out the negatives might just have the few gems of wisdom that will make that story rock. (As a beta reader, I fall into that category. I tend to be brutally honest about what’s working for me and what’s not. I’ll let you know where I laughed and where ya lost me. Unfortunately, I with very few exceptions, I can’t take on new beta projects right now.)
In the end, it’s your story and you do what you want, but do carefully weigh their advice.
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If anybody wants to join my beta reading or advanced reader teams, please drop me a line (devyaschildren @gmaildotcom). (Replace the dot with a “.” and take out the extra space…simple test to prove you’re not a robot. I know it’s annoying not to be able to copy paste. Call it character building.) Give me a brief intro to you and your qualifications as a reader. (I love to read! is a pretty good qualification, but I need to know a little about what you like to read to be able to place you properly with projects you’d enjoy.)
P.S. Guardian Angel Files: Spirit’s Bane (YA Contemporary Fantasy) is up for grabs as a beta reading project. First two pics are the anthologies I did some beta reading for because I was a part of them.
*Note: I’m an Amazon reviewer, I’m just used to a 5 star system*
*The dates I saw the movie are in parentheses.*
*As usual, I don’t own any of the images. I got them via google searches.*
As much as possible, I will try to keep these mini-reviews spoiler-free, but no firm promises. Most of these films have long-since left theaters and been picked apart every which way by critics and movie lovers alike.
Star Wars Ep VII: The Force Awakens
(1/2; 1/5; 1/12; 1/19; 1/26; 2/2; 2/16; 2/22; 2/29; 3/7/16)
5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: A Stormtrooper and a scavenger team up with an adorable orange droid to bring the Rebellion vital information. Judging by the amount of times I saw this movie in theaters, I’d say I loved it. It’s kid-friendly. Yes, it’s very reminiscent of Star Wars Ep IV: A New Hope, but in good ways. The new characters: Rey, Finn, BB-8, Poe Dameron, and Kylo Ren are largely hits. The comic relief is handled with a deft hand. There’s a struggle and both a tired Rebellion and New Order ready to deal each other what death blows they can.
3.5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: A bunny cop takes on stereotypes to expose an evil plot to set Zootopian society on its ear. It’s a solidly good movie, but there seemed to be hidden agendas that were about as subtle as a neon sign. I typically try to overlook such things and just sit back and enjoy, but this movie sort of kept throwing it in your face. It’s not a bad message, but I go to the movies for entertainment not moral postulating.
Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice
3/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: Batman and Superman are pitted against each other by someone with a twisted mind. It’s okay. I honestly don’t remember all that much about it. I enjoyed it while in the theater, but I didn’t run home to Batman or Superman toys, not that I’d do that anyway.
The Jungle Book
4/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: A boy raised by wolves makes dangerous enemies simply by being human. A beautiful return to a classic cartoon. I kind of think I liked the cartoon version a bit better, but this stays true to much of that classic.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War
3.5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: The Huntsman returns to battle the Ice Queen. I’m probably in the minority here in actually liking this movie. It’s not a super-deep thinker. The fight scenes are decent. The comic relief falls a little flat, but overall, it’s a worthy follow up to The Huntsman. Fantasy movies are almost as hard as video game movies to get right. (Unless it’s Harry Potter, then it’ll make money anyway.)
Captain America: Civil War
4.5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: Captain America and crew are sharply divided when the world turns against heroes and a council hands down some pretty strict oversight rules. Although not as good as the first, it’s an interesting sequel. Marvel does a nice job of weaving in a large cast of beloved characters and making them relevant. The action sequences are great and the plot has a few layers.
Independence Day: Resurgence
3.5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: The aliens Earth sent packing 25 years ago are back with a vengeance. Suffers from being a sequel, but stays true to the original in key ways. Cast is very good. The mythology expands a little. Not sure it made enough movie for them to attempt making it a trilogy, but it took a few decades to get a sequel so you never know.
The Secret Life of Pets
3.5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: Privileged animal companions end up in quite a scrap when they become lost in NYC. I appreciate this more having seen it while actually in New York City. Entertaining but not memorable. For some reason (maybe I’m just old??), the new animated films don’t have quite the sticking power with me as the old school ones. I think Frozen is the last one I can think of that really stuck out as fantastic.
4/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: A chieftain’s daughter embarks on a grand adventure to write some mythical proportion wrongs brought about by one demi-god’s misdeed generations ago. Amusing. Beautiful. The songs are lovely but not the sort you’ll find yourself humming in the shower. The comic relief is a tad forced but it works. The chicken is hilarious.
Rogue One (12/16; 12/17; 12/19; 12/30/16)
5/5 stars. Mini-synopsis: A band of Rebels go on a desperate mission to give the galaxy hope once again. I have determined to make this the last movie I see of 2016, so I’ll include it last even though that means some of this will be out of order. Somewhat unfairly, I think people are naturally going to compare this to The Force Awakens and find Rogue One slightly wanting. While in a straight up duel between the two I might be tempted to side with TFA too, the comparison’s not exactly fair. The movies fulfill different purposes. TFA expands on Star Wars mythology and gives the Star Wars fans hope that our beloved saga will continue on in steady hands with Disney at the helm. Rogue One is a backstory. It tells a tale we’ve long known had to be out there and answers some deep, burning questions that could crop up during Ep IV: A New Hope. I don’t think it will have as long of a run in theaters as TFA because it’s really a film aimed at the massive amounts of adult fans. TFA fulfills that role (aimed at fans) as well as has a general audience appeal. Rogue One is way more violent. That said, I loved it. I loved it differently than I did TFA, but once again, I will be spending quite a few afternoons in theaters immersed in a galaxy far, far away.
It’s been a pretty good year for movies. What’d you think?
What movies in 2017 are you looking forward to?
Of course, I’m interested in the new Star Wars movie, but I’m also sort of interested in Hidden Figures, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Logan, Lego Batman, and The Boss Baby (though I’m not sure about seeing that one in theaters).
*Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers, spoilers. And once again, I own nothing of the pictures.*
BTW, this movie is definitely better without spoilers. Go watch it first, then look for the discussions.
I love this movie. I’m a little baffled as to why people keep trying to compare it to The Force Awakens. They’re completely separate entities and fulfill different functions within the Star Wars canon as re-imagined by Disney. It definitely deserves its PG-13 rating. It’s a movie about war during the height of the Empire.
Discussion of the Character Arcs:
They did a very nice job with the character development of Jyn Erso. They took her from innocent kid pretty much orphaned by war, raised by a radical, emotionally wounded by being abandoned a second time by Saw Gerrera when she was 16 … in short, hardened by life … and gave her a cause to fight for. The more times I watch the movie, the more I pick up on in terms of the connections and turning points in some of the characters, especially Jyn. This is what I meant by replay value in my spoiler-free review. I’ve seen this movie 3 times to date and will likely see it a few more times.
When we first meet her, Jyn’s a criminal imprisoned for possessing illegal weapons, resisting arrest, etc. She’s got this flippant shell around her emotions that gets blasted to pieces when she sees her father’s hologram message. I’d say that’s the first real turning point for her. The second major turning point happens on Eadu when her father dies in her arms, killed by Alliance bombs. I’m surprised she can push that aside and focus on the mission her father basically hands to her, undoing his life’s work. She returns to Yavin 4 to convince the Rebel Alliance to go to Scarif for the Death Star plans, which will allow them to exploit the weakness her father put in the system. And fails. But she convinces the right people who go rogue with her, breaking away from the Alliance long enough to steal the Imperial shuttle acquired on Eadu and dash off to Scarif. I think the last major shift in her attitude takes place when she realizes they’re trapped but the mission’s only really half completed at that point. They don’t even have the plans secured. Staring at the end flying her way along with Cassian, you get the sense that she’s accepted it and made peace with the fact that others will have to carry on the war from here.
We don’t learn all the much about this guy’s background. He’s a captain in Rebel Alliance intelligence. He’s done things he regrets in the name of the cause. And he says he’s been in this fight since he was 6. The viewer gets the sense he’s got a ship’s load of tragedy in his past. Throughout the story, his attitude toward Jyn changes. At first, she’s just a pawn to be used to approach Saw Gerrera without getting killed. He doesn’t trust her, and he certainly doesn’t trust her father. I think the first turning point for him is when he sees her fighting when they’re in the streets of Jedha. It probably helps that at one point she jumps in front of K2SO—Cassian’s droid buddy—to protect him. His second turning point is when he’s staring down the barrel of his sniper rifle ready to take out Jyn’s father. Cassian hesitates and ultimately disobeys General Draven’s orders. Another turning point happens when he realizes she wants to fight despite the Council’s decision. He’s been in the fight long enough to be able to predict the outcome of the political machine. The last turning point comes when he pulls her back from going after Krennic. I think they both knew they were doomed at that point.
The more I see the movie, the more I love this guy. All the actors and actresses did a splendid job, but the character of Galen Erso is awesomely tragic. He’s the kind of misunderstood figure whose name gets lost to time. Is he a hero or a villain? That depends on the point of view you’re seeing the situation from. He’s a brilliant scientist forced to work on a project that scars his conscience. Collaborator – certainly. Double-agent – apparently. He loses his wife and his daughter in one fell swoop, one to death, one to inevitable separation. (There are still some big leaps of logic one has to nod and smile at in order to enjoy without questioning it too much.)
K2SO joins a long list of lovable droids. He tends to say whatever comes into his circuits. The interactions he has with Jyn and Cassian are great. Pretty much everything he says is funny. He’s reminiscent of HK-47 from Knights of the Old Republic. The sassy droid seems to love what he does.
We don’t get to learn much about his backstory. But somewhere along the way, he interacted with Galen Erso who basically told him to follow his heart, which led him to the Rebellion.
Once a devoted guardian of the Whills. He seems a little cynical, but he’s devoted to his blind friend. I love his machine gun blaster. The dude wears a backpack tank thing that must have a lot of fuel in it because he mows down opposition.
He’s blind, yet he sees much in the Force. This might be the first time we see a cool action sequence of this nature without a lightsaber involved.
Director Orson Krennic
In some ways, you want to feel bad for this guy. He’s a bureaucrat who’s devoted his life to making the ultimate superweapon in the galaxy only to have a pen-pushing psychopath who happens to have more favor with the Emperor to usurp control at the last second. Ouch.
War is Messy:
Good guys being bad; bad guys being good. The movie portrays the blurred lines of morality in war very well. Some examples include: Cassian shooting the informant who tells him about the Imperial defector, Galen Erso’s revenge in the design of the original Death Star, and Saw Gerrera’s rebels relying on terrorist tactics in their quest to rescue the Kyber crystals.
Things that they could have cut or modified:
The tentacle creature Saw uses to probe Bohdi’s mind. I get it; it’s Star Wars, they want to include some weird stuff, but I think it would make more sense to have him using an Imperial probe droid or something. Make it so he’s using a weapon of his enemy against the defector. His suspicion comes through clearly enough.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the end, but there could have been one survivor. I will say that the end gives new depth and menace to the way Tarkin calculates things
Reaction to the End:
I had zero expectations going in. Not sure what it says about me, but I find the ending beautiful and powerful and, of course, very, very sad. It brings new meaning to the simple words from the opening crawl of A New Hope where we learn that the Rebels have finally struck a decent blow to the Empire by stealing the Death Star plans. Typically, I’m a happy-ending sort of girl, so the fact that I love this movie despite its tragic ending says a lot.
I’m definitely game to see it again. (I’m up to 3 times vs The Force Awakens 14, but hey, it’s early in the run.)
*Please note, I do not own the rights to any pictures on here. I looked them up on Google images*
The movie is amazing. You should definitely go see it. I’ve seen it 3 times since it opened on the 16th of December, and I fully intend to go see it a few more times. It’s actually convinced me to buy more Star Wars books. I’d pretty much sworn off Star Wars back when the expanded universe got massively stupid post-New Jedi Order. When they kicked off The Force Awakens, I did buy a few of the kiddie adaptations. I couldn’t bring myself to buy the official novelization because I don’t like Alan Dean Foster, but this time around, they have Alexander Freed penning the adaptation, so I’ll give it a go. But I digress … this is about the movie.
Although I didn’t see much of an advantage to 3D vs 2D, this is overall a gorgeous movie. The ironic part is that it’s dirty, it’s gritty, yet the most beautiful scenes have the most power behind the emotional punch. Can’t say too much more without spoilers. The prettiest scenes were the ones that showed the scope of the Death Star.
Memorable Characters (Good Development in Jyn)
Star Wars has always excelled at creating characters that you care about. Jyn Erso’s character is probably the one that develops the most throughout this narrative. There are a ton of main characters, so it’s hard to get them all to be fully developed. There are cool insights into them, but we don’t see too much into their backstories. I’m hoping the book expands on this a bit. It’s a surprisingly large cast of main characters with some key cameos by fan favorites.
I love Galen Erso and the dynamic he has with Orson Krennic.
K2SO is awesome.
I will say there’s not anybody immediately adorable like BB-8 was for The Force Awakens, although the kid they got to play Young Jyn is lovable.
Good Replay Value
While a simplistic story on the surface, there are a lot of lines and nuances to pick up on subsequent viewings.
Sets up A New Hope Brilliantly (includes orienting tangent)
Sorry for being vague here. Star Wars can be a bit odd and confusing for non-fans. The classic Star Wars trilogy consists of Episode IV A New Hope, Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, and Episode VI Return of the Jedi. These were made back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The Prequel Trilogy started out in 1999 with Episode I The Phantom Menace, followed in 2002 by Attack of the Clones, and rounded out in 2005 with Revenge of the Sith. This later trilogy is set roughly twenty to thirty-something years before the events in A New Hope.
The vast majority of hard core Star Wars fans (over 20) love the classic trilogy and are pained by the prequel trilogy. Those younger than 20 might love the prequel trilogy more because they grew up with it?? Not sure. I’d have to ask ’em.
In any case, 2015 brought us Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which is set roughly thirty years after Return of the Jedi. This was the first movie put out post-Disney buyout.
This movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is set immediately before A New Hope. Although many of us loved Star Wars from the beginning, it started in the middle of the story. We kind of learned to just go with the flow, but now, we have some answers to burning questions.
While a decent action movie, I’m not sure how many non-Star Wars fans are going to really fall in love with this movie. It’s not really fair to compare The Force Awakens to Rogue One, but I’m gonna do it anyway because it seems the rest of the world wants to do so. That said, TFA has a lot of kid appeal that will be lacking in Rogue One. That’s not a knock against the movie, like I said, it’s amazing. There are a lot of things to look for, and as far as I know, they did a spot-on job with continuity.
*Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers, spoilers*
*I have no rights to any of the pictures. I found them on google images.*
Needless to say, this will have spoilers … a lot of them. So if you haven’t seen Rogue One, don’t read this post. I will have my spoiler free review up sometime soon, followed by my spoiler filled reaction. But I wanted to get this post together while I could remember most of the quotes. Many are probably just paraphrases, but I should be close on a bunch.
Jyn Erso: May the Force be with us.
Jyn Erso: When we reach the ground, we’ll take the next chance and the next and on and on until we win … or the chances are spent.
Chirrut Imwe: I am one with the Force. The Force is with me.
Bail Organa: I would trust her with my life.
Baze Malbus: Good luck, little sister.
Cassian: Welcome home.
Lyra Erso: Saw, it’s happened. He’s come for us!
Galen: Jyn, whatever I do, I do it to protect you. Say you understand.
Young Jyn: I understand.
Lyra: You’re not taking him!
Krennic: Of course not. I’m taking you all. You, you husband, your child. You’ll all live in comfort.
Lyra: As hostages.
Krennic: As heroes of the Empire.
Krennic: They have a child. Find it!
K2SO: Area clear of hostiles.
*Baze Malbus points gun at K2SO.*
K2SO: *hands fly up* One hostile!
Jyn: *jumps in front of K2SO.* He’s with us!
Rebel: What’s your call sign, pilot?
Jyn (whispers): Say something!
Bohdi Rook: It’s… um … Rogue. Rogue one.
Jyn: Here, you’re going to need this. (Hands the droid a blaster)
K2SO: Jyn Erso, your behavior is continually … unexpected. (paraphrase)
Funny (pretty much any time K2SO spoke)
K2SO: (after knocking Jyn flat) Congratulations! You are being rescued. Please do not resist.
Orson Krennic: Oh look. Here’s Lyra back from the dead. It’s a miracle!
K2SO: I see the council is sending you to Jedha with us.
K2SO: That is a bad idea. I think so, and so does Cassian.
K2SO: Why does she get a blaster and I don’t?
Cassian: Where did you get it? (the blaster)
Jyn: I found it.
K2SO: I find that answer vague and unconvincing.
Jyn: Maybe we should leave Target Practice behind.
(a little later in the conversation)
K2SO: I didn’t know you’d be so concerned with my well-being.
Jyn: I’m not. I just don’t want them to miss and hit me.
K2SO: *mutters* Doesn’t sound like such a bad idea to me.
K2SO: You’re letting her keep it? Do you want to know the probability of her using it (a blaster) against you? It’s high. It’s very high.
*Jyn shoots a droid that looks identical to K2SO.*
K2SO: Did you know that wasn’t me?
Cassian: I thought I told you to stay on the ship.
K2SO: You did, but I thought it was boring and you’re in trouble.
K2SO: There are an awful lot of explosions around here for two people blending in.
Darth Vader: Be careful not to choke on you aspirations, Director.
K2SO: I’ve got a bad feeling about—
Stormtrooper: Where are you taking these prisoners?
K2SO: These are prisoners? I am taking these prisoners to prison … to imprison them.