Category Archives: stories

My Betas a Thank You!

A writer’s and a storyteller’s journey will begin with story development through research. Then there is a first product and a joy at completing this piece of coalesced magic. Whether this is an oral performance piece or a book manuscript it is a story in its infancy. There is a moment of short-lived thrill that this story is born. The characters come alive; it breathes. Then the reality sets in, this is a rough, rough draft.

My first go through is to find the obvious errors. In telling the story this can be as simple as a scene out of sequence or a lack of introduction or description. In my writing it will be a collection of typos that the computer generously highlights. Then with a finer perception I look for the here that should be hear, the there that should be their. Those the computer only sees as spelled correctly but I look and say how far ahead was my mind that my fingers typed the wrong words unwittingly. You see I’m often several sentences ahead in plot from where I am in typing. My mind is racing about constructing the roads the story will go down.

Once I have made those corrections I am feeling satisfied. This has taken hours on a full manuscript. I’m not counting as that is too daunting to know in a factual form. Now there is a readable script of story. I savor sections and try new voices for oral performance. I may try walking through passages are the motions and facial expressions on cue?  When I’m relatively happy with the work I’ve done to smooth out the bumps in the road I’m ready to share.

This is where the Beta comes in. Some projects have one or two, others have several. I use a story beta that listens to oral performance and story betas to read manuscripts. Right here, right now I need to say thank you for your time and effort!!! Some of their help is the same for either an oral performance or a written piece. They listen and critique with where they were caught missing a thread of story. They comment on the f=voice of certain scenes and the placement. The beach is always referred to in the same place or the person is always the same height when I look to them. This invaluable feedback often comes with some handwritten notes. The written notes are especially important with a long manuscript. The fact that I am always working on multiple projects at once means the notes will bring me back to where I’m working, I can check them off as I go through the story and make changes. Betas are a God send!! Some ask questions which require me to think about my characters in a light I may not have. Did something precipitate that anger? Where is the parent in this scene? Have you considered having the character be less perfect, she might blow up at her frustration.? When I get questions, I take time to read passages and see how that comment was born and how I might rectify it. Of course, I don’t have to follow my Beta’s comments but most of the time I find them right on target.

How do I choose a Beta? First I ask myself; Do I need an expert’s opinion on any portion of this story? For example, in a manuscript I refer to a fish ladder and Salmon restocking. I sent that to a beta who read the fish sections for accuracy of description and detail. His background as the fish expert was invaluable. Not many people know the intricacies of that but if I was wrong misinformation is being spread and you just know some expert will read it and comment.  In another place in the manuscript I talk about having wills drawn up by a lawyer. You can be sure I asked a lawyer to read through that section. Business deals, historical facts, weather in a certain place, mechanical or some other specialty. Those are great places to use a field expert as a Beta Reader. Another Beta reader I had for a manuscript should be a writer. Your writer friends and critique group buddies are a good place to start to find someone with time and inclination to Beta read your work. The input of a writer can run the gamut from grammar to structure. They will ask the questions, seek plot holes and comment on where they need more depth to fully understand. Be prepared to offer some special thanks and return the favor one day.

My oral performance stories also use a beta listener. Sometimes they are written and can be read but for me more often the story is a collection of notes that grows and refines with each telling. Here I use Beta Listeners to hone my performance and respond to feedback given. I find them equally important in creating the final product of an oral piece as a written piece. The goal remains the same to convey a story to an appreciative audience and not lose them on the journey.

Here I am today saying a huge THANK YOU!!! To my Betas past and future you help me shine. What would my stories be with out you?

On the Hunt for Nature

                                                                    I hunt with a Samsung 8 android phone. My quarry a clandestine meeting with nature along a country road. I walk for health trying to keep in mind the goal of 10,000 steps a day for health and fitness. My usual course is on the road between my home and our family… Continue Reading

Fiona’s Viral Post

      Her name is Fiona, she is one of many beautiful calves at Mountain Dairy in Storrs/Mansfield Connecticut.  What is so special about her has been the reaction a photo of her received on Facebook. Mountain Dairy is our family farm. My grandchildren are the 11th generation. I take care of social media for… Continue Reading

Fair Season, I Have The Story

Children grow up! One minute you are wrapped up in a whirlwind life filled with kids. The next minute you sit back and watch other people working with their kids, and it’s too quiet.          No time of year makes me realize that more, than fair season. We were one of those families who brought… Continue Reading

5 Ways to Preserve Family Stories

The teen sat on the park bench, hungry, tired, jobless, a boy of New Haven, Connecticut. He wondered what the world would hold for him. He sat staring into space, after awhile his focus landed on a beautiful girl across the street, near the corner of Church and Chapel Streets. She was made of wood! It was… Continue Reading

Family Recipes, 5 Questions for Family Stories

  Food and Family, the two can hardly be separated.  Family events and every day suppers hold lots of food memories and they are a good place to start collecting family stories too. Everyone has a food story to share! Are you ready to collect a family story? You can ask your kids your elders… Continue Reading

What Does Your Family Sound Like?

Every family has a certain playlist. That constant background music or noise that is seldom acknowledged. When I was a teen I babysat for a family, it was a no TV house, the constant background there was classical music piped softly to every room. It was a serene household, but I always had to fight… Continue Reading

Apple Apple Who’s Got Apples

Apple Apple Who’s Got Apples

It is apple season the crunchiest, crisp, red, green and yellow celebration of fall. Today we are making pie, Apple Pie first was a trip to the store for supplies We have apples all washed and  ready to peel                                            Making the pie crust comes next                                                                          Pies baking in the oven smell great Company… Continue Reading

Village Smithy

Village Smithy

                                                                            anvil Blacksmith Stories Link: Terminology of the Blacksmith:                                                   coal fire  and red hot     Functional work of the smithy- today most blacksmiths do  not shoe horses, farriers trim horses feet and shape and put on their shoes. ( This big draft horse is sporting toe clips to hold the shoe on in… Continue Reading