A long-overdue overhaul to the music page of this site is now in place. I took the time this morning to update said page with my current discography. You’ll find links for all four of my currently published recorded works: my Calibrations album, The Cyber Den Theme, Grabbag (96KHz/24bit 2018 remaster), and What It Shall Be. All will have purchase links: the first and last will have streaming links as well. Please do me the favor of visiting the page and patronizing the links!
The Demi-beta period has ended two weeks early, as the third author has decided to pull their book out of the critique line. That means I now have two precious, free weeks (three, if you count the mandatory vacation break between Ubergroup cycles) in which to take the critiques I received for Tapper and apply them to the novel before returning to the weekly grind of team critiques. An opportunity like this doesn’t come along that often, if ever, so I definitely planned to take advantage of it once I found out.
Of course, something has come along and thrown a bit of a monkey wrench into my plan. That something is called Sergeant Marcos’s Rescue.
You see, I rewrote a part of Tapper where my main character, Travis, gets rescued from what we’ll just call a “very nasty situation” for now. In my original version, he was rescued by a police officer. However, in my revision, he and the aforementioned police officer are rescued by one of the title characters: a Tapper. (Not to give too much away, but Tappers are people with the ability to manipulate the four fundamental forces of the universe—gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces—but they take great risks to gain this ability.) In order to flesh out this revision, I sort of “reverse engineered” it by writing a short story about it (approximately 3,500 words), called Sergeant Marcos’s Rescue. However, I didn’t write it from Travis’s point of view. Instead, I chose the point of view of the police officer who went in to rescue Travis, but who wound up getting rescued himself—Sergeant Richard Marcos.
Where did the monkey wrench come in? Well, it was spawned the day I posted the first draft of the short story to Scribophile and asked for critiques. It took several days, but I eventually got a critique from one of my dear friends from my early days on the site. She pointed out several issues with grammar and punctuation, along with a few story issues, all of which I fixed immediately. I reposted the revision and waited for more critiques to come in.
Now, keep in mind the timeline on this. I wrote Sergeant Marcos’s Rescue in a single day while Tapper was in its Demi-beta period. I got my first critique after I’d finished reading the second Demi-beta author’s work and completed critiques on it: in other words, I was in a holding pattern, waiting for the third Demi-beta author’s work to go live.
Yesterday, which would be Monday, June 10th, I got two pieces of news. First, I learned of the pull-out of the third Demi-beta author’s work. Second, I received an incredibly detailed and well-written critique from another close and trusted friend on Scribophile. His critique was almost a third as long as the story itself, and it needed every word. He pointed out numerous weaknesses that my version 1.1 draft had, story-wise. Almost everything he wrote was spot-on and would improve my short story if implemented immediately.
Herein lies my dilemma. Do I act on the critique for Sergeant Marcos’s Rescue first, or do I put it on the back burner and work on the more difficult task of implementing changes in Tapper? The answer is rather clear in this case. While fixing Sergeant Marcos’s Rescue would be a case of instant gratification, it would not help my long term goal, which is to get Tapper published. Tapper most definitely gets the front seat, and therefore my editing attention, during this break in the action. Sergeant Marcos will have to wait.
This does not mean I am done with Sergeant Marcos’s Rescue, not by a long shot. One of my favorite authors, Stephen R. Donaldson, published a chapter outtake from his series, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever, in his short story collection, Daughter of Regals, after the series was published. I would like to do something similar with Sergeant Marcos one day. Besides, who knows? There may be other short stories from the Tapper Universe forthcoming. It all depends on what I need in order to get the book published.
My two weeks of having my novel read in a Beta (or rather, a Demi-beta) format have come to a close. It’s now time for me to move on to reading someone else’s book and doing critiques for their work. It’s only fair – they did my book. That’s what Beta is all about.
The Beta period on Tapper was quite interesting. I learned several new things and had several old things reinforced (damn, I thought I’d fixed them). There will be a day when I go through the critiques with a magnifying glass in hand and try to make sense of them, but not now. I have too much of my own Beta reading to do (I’m trying to average at least six chapters a day).
That average took a beating on Wednesday and Thursday, unfortunately, thanks again to another medical problem. I had a simple eye dilation exam, for diabetic retinopathy (everything turned out fine, with the exception of some very mild early-stage cataracts, which run in my family). My eyes were pretty well shot for the rest of the day, which is unusual – I’m normally back on the computer after several hours, but I was very light sensitive, I had a bad headache, and my eyes hurt, especially when I looked at black text on a white computer screen background. I only managed to do one chapter on Wednesday.
Thursday, my headaches and eye pain continued. Thankfully, Scribophile has a “night mode” where the screen turns grey and the text turns white. I managed to slowly crank out my quota on Thursday. Again, thankfully, the pain was gone today, so I was able to turn off “night mode” and do regular critiques on Friday (5/31). Other medical issues tried to conspire against me, but I managed to fend them off long enough to get all six chapters done.
I did manage to get in one Tapper revision today, having to do with the first two chapters. Beta feedback showed me that what I thought was a clever opening could also be interpreted a different non-clever way. I fixed that, along with a couple of bits of Travis’s inner thoughts in chapter two. That’s as far as I dared go without a more in-depth study of the Beta feedback.
But, not to worry. I’ll have my time to take care of Beta details. Probably in a few weeks.
The time has finally come for my two weeks in the spotlight. Tapper is currently undergoing what’s known on Scribophile as a Demi-beta period. This involves a Demi-beta team of three readers, each with their own novel. Each team member’s novel goes into the spotlight for two weeks, where it is read, critiqued, and discussed by the team. Then, the next person’s novel goes into the two-week spotlight, followed by the last person’s novel. That makes up a standard six-week Ubergroup Cycle.
At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.
I drew the proverbial short straw, so my work went up first. I was expecting them to start on Monday (May 13, 2019). However, one of my readers got an early start and proceeded to power through the chapters. She’s reading the chapters first and then coming back and doing the critiques—something I have no problem with. In fact, she’s already finished the book, with a week and a half left on the Demi-beta period. I’m waiting for her to post her critiques, becaue they’ve been extremely helpful.
The Demi-beta team captain had to step in at the last minute due to an issue with the other person who was supposed to be on the team. She’ll be doing critiques and I’ll be reading her book instead of the stuff from the regularly scheduled person. The captain has only made it through chapter 4, part 1 out of 33 chapters, but she’s also being extremely helpful.
All in all, it appears that I now have a good Demi-beta team, even if they’re a bit out of sync with each other. I’m looking forward to critiquing their works when their two weeks in the spotlight roll around.
Now, I may have to take a sabbatical from my regular team for the six-week Ubergroup Cycle that follows the Demi-beta Cycle. I fear I’ll have so many revisions to do that I’ll need the time to put them all it before I can return to my one-chapter-per-week team, if I return to it at all. I’m not sure if I want to go back to the slower team yet, or if I want to start working on my query to shop around for an agent. It’s going to be a tough decision, because I need as many eyes on the book as I can get.
Beta, or in my case, Demi-beta, is a very helpful tool that The Ubergroup from Scribophile provides, as long as you use it wisely. That’s the tough part – you only get a couple of weeks in the Demi-beta spotlight. Don’t squander them.