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I’ve done a series of blog interviews on the topic of beta readers previously. Recently though, I’ve had some thoughts on the timing, or better still at what stage of your drafting/writing/revising process it works best. This was sparked by receiving some excellent feedback on a work in progress.

Not everyone uses a beta reader, but if you look in the author comments or acknowledgements in your favourite books you will see people who  have been thanked, usually as first reader etc. For myself, I need beta readers like I need air. God forbid that a published work of mine was raw and that my first feedback was from a reviewer or a bunch of readers. Thankfully, mostly everything except my blog posts have had a reader, editor etc before being published. Even my Indie published fantasy, Argenterra, had beta readers and an editor before being published. I also beta read for author friends. Not all of them return the favour them being busy with contracted deadlines etc, but I get something out of it. I get to read their books before everyone else and sometimes I get a present of a nice shiny book! I also learn!

I have also used the services of a manuscript appraisal service when I first started out, also I have workshopped a novel with Envision (a fantastic program that no longer exists), that was Argenterra BTW! I also won a Longlines Fellowship to Varuna Writers’ House for Dragon Wine back in 2006 and part of that was feedback and also sharing with other writers there. For Dragon Wine I used the services of a continuity editor which was really useful too.

The ideas and the words are my own but feedback help shape ideas, perspectives etc which are all valuable. Even reading your book aloud to yourself will pick up stuff. Really! Read it to someone else and then heaps of things will jump out at you even when you’ve proofed and polished the text within an inch of its life.

Maybe because I’m an extroverted thinker that beta reader comments work for me. I need a sounding board and I work fairly quickly too, which means I can’t play with one story for ten years with no fertiliser from other people. I usually have several novels or short stories going.

An important consideration in having a beta reader is to have someone who gets what you are doing, who has some interest, sympathy, knowledge, way of thinking etc that gels. Your mum is probably not the best person. Even your kids…although mine usually pick up typos etc after the fact. You need some distance, someone you can trust to be honest and helpful at the same time. More importantly, you need to be ready for feedback. You need to be able to accept criticism because that’s what it is all about. If you want a beta reader to say “OMG! This is the best book on the planet ever!” Give it to your mum. Not that it is not great to get positive feedback, it is…

So it is hard to get good beta readers. If you write a lot it is even harder to share the work around them. Also, you need to return the favour, unless you are paying for a service. If you are paying for a service expect a detailed report and expect to pay upwards of $500 (more these days). Remember you want to be a beta reader that your reader buddies can respect. This means you have to give feedback on things like structure, character, pacing, setting etc too. Your beta reader doesn’t have to be another writer. A reader who likes the genre you write in can be very helpful. I mean they are a sample of your audience right? Your feedback might be a lengthy document, an annotated MS, an email or even just a conversation. It all goes into the mix.

Also different readers have different strengths. You might get a reader who is instinctively good with pacing. Another with character development. So having more than one is helpful. I was going to say essential but we can’t have everything.

I have trusted beta readers for a range of stories. I probably have one who reads anything I write and I read hers. I believe we trust each other, although we have different perspectives.

Timing! Finally I get to the point. This is interesting. The timing varies for me. I might send my MS off just before I send it to submission, when I think it’s fairly polished, but not finally polished just to check that it’s not fatally flawed. Or I might send a tidied up first draft. I never send a story with a gaping hole in it (unless I didn’t see it). I may have a few x in place of names, but usually the story is fully formed. At a minimum a tidied first draft. My older work needs a few drafts before they are ready for beta readers. I’m finding that with The Crystal Gate, the sequel to Argenterra. The third installment is an incomplete rough draft and a nightmare!

You see, Argenterra has been worked on over many years, had many revisions, cut backs etc. The sequel has sat in the hard drive minding its own business and stagnating. Essentially it is a tidied first draft, maybe a tidier second draft. More recent work for me means that the first drafts are much better. I used to be a panster! Now I straddle the fence and plan a bit. Older drafts can be a lot of work, especially if you didn’t make notes!

So the minimum I believe is a tidy, good first draft, where you have  a full story etc and there is something to comment on. I sent The Crystal Gate for a beta read and it’s a tidy second draft. Why?

I have trouble listening to the little voice in my head that says things like “You’ve said that twice now. Maybe cut that.” or “You’ve written the action but what is the character feeling? What is the character’s emotional journey?” Or “That’s all well and good but could there be too much going on in that scene?” But because I’m focussed on my end goal of getting through the revision I don’t stop to deal with those things. I need a second opinion. (Insert LAZY here). I need a kick up the bum. I need to know what’s working and what’s not before I invest too much, before I make a wrong decision. This is where beta reading comments come in. I got some this morning. Some were the kick in the pants stuff-the stuff where I should know better but didn’t. Other comments point out flaws I didn’t notice or thought I could get away with, others highlighted aspects that I hadn’t thought of at all. I know that in addressing these comments I’m going to make the work better. I don’t have to agree with everything that my beta reader says. I’m going to wait for the other beta reader’s comments before working on the MS again.

Essentially the comments have filled me up with enthusiasm, ideas and identified trouble areas where I need to do more thinking. I love this.

I think I would be less likely to be accepting of feedback if I had polished the story to the nth degree and thought it was amazing and gorgeous and nothing could be improved. Nothing could be worse that having someone say-this is fatally flawed, you need to restructure this. You might take that from an editor maybe if you could see their vision. So far I haven’t had to restructure anything majorly at all. For this reason, I think getting feedback on a good draft is better than a polished draft you have no brain power to accept feedback. It can be done. I’ve worked with someone who had been edited and a reader picked up something which meant it had to be edited again and the issue addressed.

Of course, the timing is individual. Some people I know won’t let me read for them until they think their MS is perfect. Naturally enough I don’t get to read for them very often at all.

Now I wrote this post because I’m working on a rough draft of The Ungiven Land, Silverlands book 3. It’s hard work even thinking about this story so procrastination helps. This blog post is brought to you by procrastination!

 

 

I say this quite a bit these days. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and I want to learn so much, do many more things that I can see that I won’t do all of them. It’s not possible. I would need many lifetimes to do that. Even then the world is ever changing. Is that what living forever is like? No wonder I love reading and writing science fiction and fantasy and paranormal romance. Within fiction there are no boundaries.

I thought I’d having something interesting to say. This last week with the PhD has been about admin and also trying to work out how I can talk about the fiction I’m reading. I have to learn to be more academic, pick a position and analyse with that mind set. That’s hard. Not too hard, but requires some mind bending. I can no longer just be enthusiastic! Also, there’s that paper I’m working on…

I finished the revision of The Crystal Gate and sent it to beta readers. I fear I have some more hard work ahead of me to make this novel all that it could be. A kick up the bum from beta readers usually galvanizes me, particularly when they tell me things I know I think is a problem but I’m not listening to the little voice that told me so. I thought I would rip into The Ungiven Land straight up…but alas…I’m a slacktard. There’s 50,000 words sitting there and I haven’t even read them through let alone drafted more words. I guess I’ve been resting my brain…maybe…actually I’ve finally finished listening to The Magician (Raymond E Feist). This was an Eighties’ classic that I’d never caught at the time. It’s high fantasy, elves, dwarves, dragons etc, but it  has something else too which caught my interest. My main problem is that I didn’t like the narrator. I can’t pinpoint why. It made the 35 hours of listening a bit hard, not impossible though. It was Audible and my first time really not enjoying the experience amazingly.

On the Argenterra front. I ran a Goodreads giveaway for the print book. I have no idea how that translates into book sales, but I think not many. However, five more people are following me on Goodreads. Waves! Thank you. Hundreds of people have added Argenterra as a ‘want to read’. I’ve sent three books out, one to Canada that should arrive quite soon and two in the UK, which Amazon says will take a few weeks to organise. Book  Depository haven’t got Argenterra listed yet as it can take 6 weeks for them to get it up. Maybe if the readers are generous they’ll do a review. Totally worth it for the possible reviews and exposure.I thought it would be nice if 500 people entered the Goodreads giveway and 866 people did and that’s awesome.

I joined Kindle Boards. Lots of advice and information there. It is possible that if you spend too long there you might grow a beard and find the world has moved on a hundred years.

Other bits of procrastination this week includes seeing X-Men Apocalypse. I really enjoyed that despite missing Days of Future Past. It was massive in scope. I liked the action and I also liked that it stopped for the emotional stops. I ate more chocolate this week than in the last year I’m sure. I re-watched North and South  (BBC 1975) starring Patrick Stewart’s hair. It was a nice way to pass a wet weekend with my niece visiting.

Now back to the PhD.

 

 

I first read some Mills & Boon romances in may late teens. I was a young, stay at home mum to be pretty bored and poor too. I didn’t read masses of these books. I remember dark Latin lovers, girls marrying their rapists in two cases. It was the late 1970s. Perhaps that was par for the course. I was captured by science fiction and fantasy so I read a lot of that in the intervening years. As I reflect back on this I wish I had kept reading romance. It might have helped me in a lot of ways such as relationships, self esteem and sex. But alas I had a preference for outerspace and other worlds not as useful for those more personal issues.

My reading did expand into paranormal romance, historical romance and science fiction romance, probably in my late thirties. Outlander (Crossttich here) combined all three of my favourite things, a bit of SF& F with the time travel and Scottish romance, with a fine touch of the paranormal elements. My romance drug of choice was: Scottish historicals (and English too), Regency romance and paranormal romance with lashings of urban fantasy. I must say I came across Warrior’s Woman by Johanna Lindsey. I was so excited as this book was SF romance. Not very politically correct these days but I still love it and I don’t care. Suck it up detractors. Challen rivals Jamie Fraser and Darcy in my mind.

It wasn’t until I was published with Escape Publishing (Harlequin’s Australian Digital Imprint) that I started reading contemporary romance fiction again. (I’ve even tried to write some, but I want to put a ghost or a vampire in there). Mostly this was to explore what was on offer with Escape but to learn about the genre too. I read some amazing stuff that gave me a love for contemporary romance that I hadn’t had before.

Here are some of the books I read:

A Man Like Mike  by Sami Lee

Bound by his Ring by Nicole Flockton

A Basic Renovation  by Sandra Antonelli

What Love Sounds Like  by Alissa Callen

Finding Elizabeth by Louise Forster

The Lies We Tell by Elizabeth Dunk

Rescue Heat by Nina Hamilton

Short Soup by Colleen Kwan

Grease Monkey Jive and Floored by Ainslie Paton

You can find these titles here.

They were all so good. Do I sound surprised? Not so much surprised by the quality just that I really liked reading these contemporary romances that didn’t contain any weird stuff. This was new to me.

Then we come to the PhD and I’m focusing on contemporary romance (either written in the 1970s or in the present) and maybe that’s a bit weird, you know. Yet, it’s an genre I don’t know well and I am curious…about the past…about the present…

To put boundaries on what I’m reading I am containing the genre to Mills & Boon category romances and like products. But I don’t forget that there’s so much more out there.

The sobering thought for me is that I’ll never be as knowledgeable as the avid readers of romance. I can read what I can and examine it with certain parameters in mind, but I can’t duplicate 20 to 30 years of avid romance reading. I’m lucky that I know a couple of these knowledgeable readers and they are so helpful but they keep me humble.

 

Mixed bag

This morning I went to the dentist to get my chipped tooth fixed. I now have my smile back. It was a small chip to my front tooth, but it happened just after I gave up my extras health cover. Anyway, the damage wasn’t too bad financially. I will have to be careful about what I eat in future. Given my weight gain, I could probably stand no eating!

I’m at the stage of my PhD where the more I read the more stupid I feel. There is so much to know about the world and I know I haven’t even touched a 0.000001 per cent of it. I feel like if I open my mouth something stupid is going to come out. Or does come out. I know this is untrue of course! I’m not entirely stupid! (just marginally or slightly stupid, lol) It’s just that I’m dwelling in some emotional gutter where PhD candidates fall after the first splurge of excitement. I want to know everything about my topic! I can only do a small portion of what I’m aiming for. Live with it!

Writing/drafting an academic paper was like sliding a stiletto around my insides while singing the national anthem. A relief when it is over. I will be getting comments from my supervisor to get it to the next stage so I’ll just put the stiletto over here so it’s ready for when I need it.

I had a wonderful long series of dreams/thoughts about my creative piece for the PhD. It was the most rounded piece of imagination in relation to it, that I might even draft a rough outline. Today, I’ve printed out an article that the lovely Russell Kirkpatrick recommended to me after I was whining about how hard Gender Trouble by Judith Butler was to understand, particularly when she starts dissecting the psychoanalysts. Butler’s book inspired lots of creative thoughts for my fiction piece. I may not get it all into my head, but it was thought provoking. The article is Taking Butler elsewhere: performativities, spatialities and subjectivities by Gregson, N and Rose, G, 199. It’s right here in front of me.

Another issue I find is that I have to reread articles and books. I take notes, of course, but then on rereading I see other things that I’d missed before. This is because the reading expands your understanding and then you read something else and make further connections until you get an ‘aha’ moment.  I have a lot of reading done, heaps more to do but the thought I may have to read it again. Eep! Add to the that the suspicion that my reading mojo is not quite up to par yet. Retention is difficult at times. I need to find the right balance of stress and relaxation so that my retention is better.

I have a few retro romances waiting for me to read them. I find I am developing preferences and dislikes. I don’t think movie star love stories thrill me much. The lifestyles of the uber rich likewise, unless written by Roberta Leigh because she excels at that stuff. The stories with  a young, ignorant nanny employed in the Bahamas doesn’t do it for me either, but there might be exceptions. I don’t mind the cowboy romances. Usually the dude is not a rich guy, machoing over someone. This is based on only limited number of books so far. Marriage of convenience stories are usually not bad. A lot of my selection appears to be Australian and New Zealand romances (funny that) and they are usually different from the English ones. It appears I have no Helen Bianchin so I’ll have to get some of those.

In other news, I went to listen to Dan O’Malley being interviewed by Colin Steele last night about his new book, Stiletto. The theatre was packed. Dan was amusing (as ever) and the signing queue long.

The Goodreads giveaway for Argenterra is progressing well. I’ve not ever done one before. I will post back here and let you know how it goes and what it means in the wash.

The link to the Giveaway is here.

It’s been a busy week. I’ve been working on an academic paper, my first. It was hard and it’s probably crap but I will have to wait to find out.  Other PdD candidates have told me the first is the hardest so thankfully I’m not alone in this.

Westcoast book reviews published the first review of Argenterra. And it was fab.

I’m happy that is positive of course, but I also appreciate the thoughtful comments and that the reviewer, Liz, totally got the book and loved the world of Argenterra.

Here is what she said about the given, Argenterra’s native magic.

“Argenterra’s magic, the given, permeates everyone and everything in the land. It’s used in everything from building and cooking to healing and holding the people to their oaths. I liked how the given not only weaves through the lives of the characters but through the story itself. The given has its own history, champions and enemies. The given lives through the story as a character in its own right, complete with unique relationships with other characters and a life changing challenge.”

The link to the full review is here.

Also the print run of Argenterra has arrived for my Sydney Supanova! I’m all set. I’ve also set up a give away on Goodreads, for Australia, USA, UK, NZ and for some unknown reason Romania! (ineptitude I suspect).

The link to the give away is here

The print book is beautiful! Les Petersen’s cover look fab in the flesh, or the print.

And in case that lovely review inspired you to try Argenterra. Below are the buy links.

Out now!

Argenterra, Silverlands Book 1.

IMG_6085

Cover by Les Petersen

Buy links.

Amazon.com Here

Amazon.com.au Here

Kobo Here

ibooks Here

Print (Amazon.com) Here.

Print elsewhere. Available from Createspace and Ingram Sparks.

I don’t think I’ve ever put up a sample of Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures before, but I came across it on Amazon and thought why not. I like Essa: she’s a little bit bad ass compared to Rae. This story an SF romance and Escape Publishing have labelled it New Adult. It doesn’t matter about labels as the story is meant to be fun but also has a serious side. If you liked Rayessa and the Space Pirates then I’ll think you’ll like this. And didn’t Escape do an amazing cover.

Rae and Essa Space Adventures

Chapter 1

Extra-curricular Activities

My sister, Rae, bowed low to Kazusensei, the school’s karate instructor. “Do better,” he said. “Try harder. Stop wasting my time, Rae,” he growled out.

Rae stood there, face impassive, only the flicker of an eyelid giving any indication that he was getting to her.

My fingernails bit into my palms. I wanted storm over there and slap him across the face for talking to her like that. She was a Gayens. But it wasn’t my fight. I had to stay out of it. Rae and I had boundaries. I might have been the one to erect them but they weren’t so easy to take down. Rae nodded and Kazusensei stepped back, his hands on hips. “Again, hajime.”

Rae performed her kata with the sensei looking on. If only he’d lose the sneer and the attitude, I’d be calmer. Most of the time he showed no emotion to the private school girls he tutored, but my sister brought out the best in him. I couldn’t figure out whether it was her spirit that annoyed him or that there was another me ready to give him grief. Rae took what he gave out without complaint. Something I never did.

I shook my head as I watched on. I may not have an abundance of sisterly love, but I give credit where it is due. Rae rocked at karate and that annoyed the sensei. Perhaps money and talent weren’t combinations he was happy with.

Ending with a bow, Rae stood waiting. “No, pathetic.” The sensei’s hand chopped through the air. “Again.”

I ground my teeth as I watched. He would never have dared to speak to me like that. I would have had his arse kicked from here to the city limits and used all Mother’s connections to make sure he never worked again. But he was speaking to Rae and that was not my business. We did have an agreement, after all.

From scratch, Rae re-started her kata, her concentration almost tangible and she kicked, punched and blocked according to the well-rehearsed form. Her movements looked precise and snappy. My gaze flicked to Kaz. Yes, I got away with calling him that. Rae was good. He had no right being hard on her, getting on her case. He gave a slight nod and Rae went to the sidelines to pull on her gloves.

Rae let the world heap crap on her and asked for more. I checked my handheld for messages. A thumping sound drew my attention and there was Rae kicking the living daylights out of the kicking shield Kaz held. He gritted his teeth as he braced himself and I smiled. She was going for it. Thump, thump, whump. Go, Rae. Kick a little higher. Wipe that smug expression of his face.

My breath caught as I waited for that wrong move, only to let it out again when Rae moved on to punches. She’d missed her chance. I would not have missed that opportunity. I pictured, Kaz with a fat lip and blood in his teeth and nodded. Yeah! We had a history, he and I. He’d never put his hand there again.

At the end of her lesson, Rae staggered to the bench, wiping sweat from the back of her neck and tossing the towel onto her carry all. Kaz walked out of the gym, slamming the door behind him.

Rae stripped her gi pants off and adjusted the gravity straps on her legs. She had serious bone weakness from years in space and no therapy. Muscle and calcium loss. It was lucky that she’d had some therapy as a child and had lasted her a number of years in captivity. Mother said it could have been worse. Rae connected the electrode to the metal strip that was attached to her tibia. It forced the bone to strengthen. I shuddered. It was so ugly. How could she bear it?

On Earth with its full strength gravity load, Rae needed assistance to walk. She hated it. That’s why she took this class, to beat it. She’d come a long way too. Her academic grades were average but improving. I was loath to tutor her. Mother had her swatting within a week of being back in the bosom of her family, arranged an array of special tutors. Alwin Anton helped her too. Boy genius was pretty easy on the eye, even if he was a smart arse.

Coming up beside her, I asked. “Why do you let him treat you like that? It’s demeaning to the Gayens’ name.” Rae glanced at me and sniffed.

“It’s not personal. I want him to push me. I’m so behind on everything else. At least I can beat this physical disability.”

My nail polish glimmered and I examined it for chips, spreading my hands to catch a shaft of light. “So you received treatment. You’ll beat it eventually.”

Rae drew on a wrap, slipped on some flip flops and picked up her carryall and stalked away.

“And I still need to work on my fitness. My body is the only thing I can control.” We’d had this discussion before. I liked needling her, liked seeing her crack.

“Mother is happy with your grades.”

Rae grunted as she pushed through to the cleaning block. I followed, sensing victory.

Mini cubicles contained nozzles attached to the walls that flash cleaned skin. A minute later Rae was punching her legs into a ‘onsey’. They were so past tense, but she loved them and called them ship suits. I shook my head.

“My grades are mediocre. Nowhere near as good as yours. I can do better.”

With a flip of my hand, I quipped. “Maybe.”

Technically, we should have near the same grades, as we were genetically identical. It went back to nature versus nurture argument. I thought the case was closed. I’d been nurtured. She’d been neglected.

A light glinted in her eye. “What do you want anyway?”

“Ohh grouchy. Missing the boyfriend are we?”

Rae rolled up her eyes and let out a grunt of disgust as she snatched up her carry all and pushed past. After stumbling back, I kicked out my hip so I had somewhere to place my hand for my pose.

“We were going out, remember? I was going to show you how to kick the trust account dependency.”

Rae paused before the door, her head tilting to the side. “Now I remember. I didn’t think you’d come all this way just for fun. I’ll meet you out front in ten. I’ve got to stow my gear.”

“And check if Alwin Anton has sent you a transmission.” I smiled smugly.

Rae shook her head. “Whatever.”

“I’ll be waiting.”

#

“Why are we breaking into this building?” Rae hissed in my ear. She’d been jittery since she’d pieced together that her lesson did not involve law abiding activity.

“Shut up, there are sound sensors.” I slid the conductor strip into the circuit, allowing monitoring to think it was receiving feed. The steady blue pulse let me know it worked. My hand held synced with the security system and I calibrated my patented break in app. My eyebrow lifted. The building had counter measures so I unleashed a designer micro virus, which flooded the system with echoes and ghosts so it didn’t know where to focus. Sufficiently diverted, my app completed its sequence, overrode the security system and the door slid open.

Rae gasped behind me. “We’ll get busted.”

“No we won’t. I’m good.”

Rae tugged my hair and I turned to glare at her. “What?”

“Essa, you’re a criminal.” Her face was flat against mine. I inhaled her breath and shoved her back gently.

“I’m not a criminal. I’m a consultant.” Lifting my hand held, I concentrated on the information scrolling along the screen, keeping Rae in my line of sight.

Rae’s hand squeezed into fists. “If you get me into trouble I’m so going to thump you.”

I rolled my eyes. “I can’t guarantee you won’t get into trouble. Grow up.”

Rae stood up. “Sorry, I’m out a here. See you back at the dorm.”

I sighed. What a waste of time educating her. Concentrating on my job I grinned as the door slid open.

#

Rae was waiting for me when I got back.

“How do you know how to thwart security?” Rae launched at me as soon as I came in.

I put my stuff away. “I’m smart,” I said, feeling smug.

Rae plonked down on her bed and pressed the release on her boots. She looked up from rubbing her feet. “I think I understand that bit. I was thinking of why.”

“I get paid.”

“You never!” Rae’s dark eyes goggled.

“Not for a syndicate or any criminal element. By a security firm. They design and install security systems, and they pay me to crack them so they can refine their product.”

Rae sat there half-dressed. “And what’s that, like pocket money?”

“No. Not pocket money. Big money. I don’t need Mother’s handouts, but I take them and spend them so she doesn’t get suspicious. You could do the same.”

“The same what?”

“Earn your own money.”

Rae’s sleep wrap engaged and she snuggled into her bed. “I don’t need much money. I have stacks in my account.”

“You do?”

“Yes, Opi has been putting money in my account since I went missing. The same amount she said she spent on you or gave you as an allowance.”

I whistled, impressed.

I went to the san to wash off the dust and get ready for bed.

Rae snored softly while I filed my report on the security system, including recommendations to improve it. I checked my bank account, the bank account that mother didn’t know about, and grinned as the zeros grew. I like my life.

A message came in from Mother. I pursed my lips when I looked at it. The message was the same as her last and that was plain odd. I put in a call and waited as the relays engaged, mother was off planet. After ten minutes, I received a no response message. Something about it bugged me. I sent a message to Alwin Anton, who was with her. He didn’t respond either, but then he often ignored my calls—something about not upsetting his girlfriend. I wrinkled my nose as I took in my sister sprawled on the bed and then shook my head in wonder.

I reread the message from my mother and tried to put it down to a glitch in her system that sent the message twice. I’d have to check with Rae in the morning to see if she had heard anything or had any new messages. Because I worried, I slept badly, dreaming all sorts of scary things, like kidnapping and ransom demands. That was always a spectre for the family. Being rich and powerful made you a target. Except for Rae, we’d been lucky so far. And Rae’s disappearance had been an inside job.

Rae was dressed when I woke, groggy from lack of sleep. After a yawn and blinking away sleep I noticed her. “You look nice. Date?” Rae had make up on. Mine most likely. Her hair was shiny and straight, reaching past her shoulders and she’d chosen a cream ‘onesy’ with a leather tunic, which ended just under her butt and accentuated her waist. I shook my head. I might have to rethink my views on the ‘onesy’ as Rae looked grown up and attractive. We were seventeen now, nearly adults. I reminded myself that we were identical so if Rae looked that good then so would I.

“Yes, Al is due back today and we’re meeting up at the Centra Hotel.” She posed sideways in the mirror, checking if her hair was straight. To check her lip gloss, she leaned in close with a pout.

“Gris is meeting me downstairs to fly me over.”

I don’t know what she saw in Gris. Big men made me uncomfortable. But they shared some unshakable bond and he volunteered to be her security. “Is mother back too?”

Rae opened her pouch and dropped in her hand held, credit card, ID, more lip gloss and sealed it. It flattened for easy insertion into her ‘onesy’s hidden pocket, high on her chest. “I’m not sure. Opi was meant to be, but I haven’t spoken to Al for three of four days as he is in transit and that plays havoc with comms. He mentioned Opi had another meeting planned. Something unscheduled.”

I leaned back on my bed and stared at the ceiling. I could see the translucent images I’d stuck up there, in spite of the school rules. You could only see them from this position. “I see. You know she’s rooting out the pirates in the company? Dad left a network of corruption behind him. Mother is determined to get rid of them.”

Rae shuddered visibly. Traumatised by his attempt to murder her, she hadn’t quite come to terms with it. Frankly, I’d always distrusted him. Our connection was never real. There was always something insincere about him. It was weird to feel that way, because he’s my father too. In the end, I was right. Rotten to the core! He’d said that about me on numerous occasions so I took great satisfaction knowing it was proved about him.

Rae smoothed the fabric of her ‘onesy’, pressing the auto clean when she saw a piece of lint.

She made eye contact. “Al said as much. I don’t understand what he does, but he can follow their transaction trail in cyber space or something like that.”

Rae slid on her boots and activated the seal and colour change. Her boots now matched her ‘onesy’ and clung to her calves like second skin. Slick. I was impressed that Rae had finally developed a sense of style, even without my advice and despite my teasing.

There was no point into entering into the Alwin Anton adoration society so I didn’t respond to Rae’s blatant invitation to talk about her boyfriend and kept to the topic. “Did he tell you their coordinates in that last communication?”

Rae activated the bed refresh sequence and picked up her Edupad and slid it into her study nook. Her bed was sanitised and made up with Rae’s favourite bed cover, the one with some old actress on it—Del Divlan or something. Did Rae actually realise that the actress was as old as their parents and not in mode? I let the thought go. Rae didn’t want to hear it. The actress was like her sookie blanket or something and Rae wasn’t letting go anytime soon.

“Not directly, but they were on the message receipt. Do you want me to look it up now?” She withdrew the Edupad, eyebrow quirked.

“No, no. Have fun.

Buy links

As well as ebook, all my Escape Publishing titles are available in large print format for libraries

Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures is available from Escape Publishing, who have links to most eretailers  here

Amazon.com here

Amazon.com.au Here

Kobo here

iBooks here

Mills and Boon also have it  listed. Here

Also, I have a separate blog for Rayessa and the Space Pirates with some fun stuff on there here

Advice from Rayessa today is: don’t eat too many beans and then get into an airlock with a friend!

I saw a post from Hodderscape, which recently held a open submission call, providing writing tips from editor, Anne Perry. I thought her approach was very useful and simple. Reading slush opens your eyes to lots of things.

I also saw recently some tips on developing character from the amazing Angela Slatter, which I thought were useful too.

A while ago now I did a series of posts based on my observations on slush pile reading and the things that I saw there. These posts are probably a bit more indepth and perhaps a bit more muddled than the two recent posts I saw on the web.

Below are the links to these.

Anne Perry here.

Angela Slatter’s post here.

And a few posts from reading for Angry Robot and their first open call.

Blog post one here

Blog post two here

Blog post three here  (which is on common issues with manuscripts)  thoughts on blog post three here. Wherein I elaborate on issues with MSs.

Blog post four was on query letters and synopsis here.

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