Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Importance of a Great Beta

The Importance of a Great Beta
Sharita Lira

Greetings fans!

Today, I’d like to share with you how important it is to have a critique partner or beta. Now, some of you say, what’s a beta? Well, it’s a person who critiques and or edits your work before you submit or publish it. In many instances this person will call you to the carpet, hopefully nicely and respectful, and spot when your plot is off or wrote something entirely silly. Some like to help with your punctuation and or spelling as well. Even though all are important, the one that sticks out most is your plot. Does it make sense? Are you wandering aimlessly in storyland and boring the hell out of your reader? If this is the case, the beta tells you this and puts you back on the right path.

Even after three plus years, I’ll admit, I’m still a newbie and have made some mistakes. In the beginning, there seemed to be a lot more than there is now. Why? Because I didn’t have a beta and in a couple of situations, the proofer or editor didn’t catch the error and it was published. *bangs head on desk* We’re all human so this will happen but having more eyes on your stories will limit the amount of errors and or plot holes in your story.

These days, I’m very blessed to have a few betas. Some I’ve asked more than most. In the most respectful and kind way, all have told me what I needed to work on and what worked in terms of plot.  I’ve also had a few other authors and friends who’ve read my stories. Whoever has done it, I’ve definitely appreciated the feedback regardless of the tone. Some of them have been tough which is cool because you really don’t want your beta to stroke you too much. Find the faults, celebrate the good stuff and give pointers. The key, again, is doing it respectfully.

So now you know what it is and how important it is to have one. Authors, tell me what you think? Do you send your stories to a beta(s)? Readers? Do you read for an author? Let me know some positive experiences. And thanks to Adriana, Eloreen, and Petronella for being my betas on ILIR as well as my brilliant editor, Elicia for correcting all my errors. *smile*

My Lieutenant Three: Before We Say I Do

Lieutenant Bryant Duncan and Nathan Ellerby are about to say ‘I do’ and Bryant insists on meeting Nathan’s parents before the big day. Due to being thrown out at age eighteen, Nathan isn’t happy about the visit and begs his lover to reconsider. Knowing Bryant’s ways to get Nathan to do whatever he wants, Nathan will have to put up with a mother and father who disowned him for coming out the closet.

Prepared to defend himself and his man, Nathan plans the trip to the west coast not only for a relaxing vacation but also to fulfill his lover’s wishes to meet the two people he’s despised more than any during his existence–Lana and Cal Ellerby.

To make the visit a little easier, his Aunt Edna decides to show up at the house for a sort of impromptu reunion. Will she stop Nathan and his mother from a battle of expletives and obscenities during the family dinner?




Here is a sweet snippet from ML3. This is Nathan and Bryant post coital, talking about their first meeting

After making love on the couch, we limped to the kitchen to make dinner. Although going out to eat or ordering take-out would’ve been easier, this would be the quickest meal so we could enjoy the rest of the evening in bed. Besides, I’d gotten a lot better at cooking since we moved in together, and now I took more pleasure in my domestic duties. Because I work my own hours, I am technically the housewife.
Since we both weren’t starving, I quickly whipped up some crab salad, serving it with chilled vegetables. I’d become more of a seafood eater since moving down to the Big Easy, which Bryant totally loved.
“There we go.” Wearing nothing but my silk boxers, I placed the plate and bowl of salad on the table. “We need to get more of this crab meat from that market. I think I might be addicted to them.”
“Yeah, I agree. Perhaps we’ll check it out before we leave on the trip to Cali?”
“Sure.” I pursed my lips, not wanting to talk any more about my parents and immediately dug into our dinner, filling my mouth with celery topped with ranch dressing.
“Honey, I know this is gonna be tough for you, but I really think we should make the visit. Besides, when I first mentioned it, you even said yourself it would be nice to see your parents again.”
“No, sweetie…” I shook my head and spooned some of the crab concoction onto my dish. “I said my parent’s house. Not them. I’ve always wondered what they did with my grandma’s home once I left.  It was a gorgeous place when I lived there. So spacious; much like our place here.”
Bryant smirked at me, reaching over the table, taking my free hand in his. “Okay, my mistake. Where exactly do they live again?”
“Santa Barbara, in the Riviera neighborhood. They inherited the house from my grandma who was an Italian immigrant.” I didn’t want to talk about them anymore, but I felt that wouldn’t be the case since Bryant was so interested in meeting them.
“Okay. Well I’m looking forward to this trip, Nathan.” He threaded his fingers with mine and brought them to his lips, taking one in between. “We’ll take a day to see them and maybe the other few days take in the sights. I thought Santa Barbara was mostly a tourist attraction. I’m really excited about visiting Cali again. I haven’t been since I went to the Naval Base in San Diego.”
“Ooh, I’d love to go there. More hot men in uniform,” I winked at Bryant, and he nudged me under the table with his knee.
“Hey… no looking at the other hot soldiers, Nathan.  You know how jealous I get.”
“Yeah, I do, but hey, I’m only perusing. You know what they say, nothing wrong with looking at the choices on the menu as long as you don’t order anything. And I won’t order, babe.  I know I got the best dish around.”
“Aw… stop it,” he chided and kissed my hand again before letting go to get back to dinner. “I’m just glad you finally gave in to me, Mr. Ellerby. You were so stubborn in the beginning, not waiting to give even an inch when your independence was threatened.”
“Well what do you expect? I mean, I’ve been alone for so long. I don’t know what it’s like to be in a real relationship. Other than the knucklehead who broke into my place, I really haven’t had many serious commitment prospects.” While going for more salad, I waited for his reaction to what I’d said.
“I don’t think you really looked hard for them though, right? I’m glad you didn’t either.   I might not have met you.”
“No, you would’ve, but you gotta admit you threw me for a loop when you came into my place watching Law & Order instead of the Here channel.” Remembering my failed test to see if Bryant was gay or not, I had to chuckle.
Bryant joined me in the laughter. “Babe, I swear I have no idea why you figured that would prove anything, but whatever. I came out on top, right? I was straddling the fence…”
“Yep, and then you showed me how much you wanted to straddle me. Which I just couldn’t turn down, Lieutenant. I mean, what can I say? I was scared about getting involved in a relationship, let alone with someone newly out the closet.”
“Glad you took the chance, babe,” he added with a sly smile and leaned over to grab my palm once again, distracting me from my meal. “I told you I was in it for the long haul, Nathan, and I meant it with all my heart.”


Tina Donahue said...

Always good to have another set of eyes looking at one's work. The longer I write, the more I realize I need to keep learning/improving.

Great post and excerpt! :)

Fiona McGier said...

AS odd as it sounds, I sometimes have my son read things I'm working on because he's such a voracious reader. And he'll be honest with me and tell me if it's not working to keep him reading.

jean hart stewart said...

Have one excellent beta and need another one. I need lots of other eyes and corrections.

Stacy Claflin said...

I wouldn't want to be without my betas. They really help my stories to be the best they can be.