Tag Archives: help

Beta Readers Rock My World!


I’ve been checking up on the blogs I follow closely, but I haven’t been doing much blogging myself. My world had been consumed by beta reads and edits. It’s not really a chore. It’s rather fun to see how the variety in readers is represented through their fresh visions of my work.

After a year and a half, I received my first one star review on “Red Clay and Roses” yesterday.

It was really simple. Ten words. But that was all they really needed to say and guess what?

I get it! And I sincerely appreciated this:

“Story was too segmented and I felt a little confusing.”

I have admitted from the get-go that that this book is different. It was not written by a standard formulaic novel template. There is an Introduction, Part One, Part Two and a Conclusion that are all unique in writing style, POV, and person. Most people are going to be able to go with it and some not. That’s okay.

I’m, of course, disappointed that I let a reader down so badly that they felt a one star was necessary. We always are. That’s a sad note.

What am I doing about it this time that’s different?

Beta Readers!

I learned about beta readers from my blogging friend authors and I have to tell you they are invaluable. You get to learn so much from a cross-section of the population that isn’t family who are invested in you emotionally.

I started out with nine and worked through five readers notes, so far It’s been a wonderful experience. Here’s some questions being answered:

  • Are you satisfied with the plot and characters?
  • Were there points you could really relate to personally?
  • Were there points you couldn’t relate to?
  • What did you enjoy most?
  • At what points did you feel frustrated? Why?
  • Do you feel satisfied with the last act?
  • Can you summarize the book in a few sentences? How did the book make you feel after?

These are all things your family is going to struggle with, but good beta readers shoot from the hip and tell you like it is. One of the nicest things about beta reading is that you get to go back and forth with the reader to discuss the book without any fear of ruining it for others with spoilers.

I don’t have any grandiose delusions that I can pump out a novel that is going to be perfect on the first or second draft, or even on the fifth draft. Truth is: readers all have their own life experiences and knowledge base. Some are highly skilled and talented when it comes to writing and some are novice writers who simply enjoy a good read. I love you all!

We need to hear from all of you before we try to market to the world at large. That’s why I am glad that I have more than a couple of betas.

“Naked Alliances” is a much better product today than it was back on June 8th, when I completed the first draft, and I could not have done it without you!

I am eternally grateful for the help I have had so far and look forward to the feedback from the next four.

Do you use beta readers?

What’s your experience with later drafts and editing?  

Have you ever read a draft for someone who hasn’t yet published?

Share you experiences. 

Stats Junkies and Why I Am Not One


A psychiatrist once told me, “Statistically speaking, you should be dead.”  A long time ago, after suffering a multitude of tragedies, I went to see a psychiatrist on the advice of a friend who felt I was too happy, and thus, there must be something wrong with me.

I didn’t quite know how to take what that psychiatrist had to say to me, or what my friend had to say.  I dismissed them, but agreed to go into therapy.  I stayed in that therapy with that same therapist from the age of 19 to the age of 36, when I got divorced and moved to Florida.

He was an old man, this therapist, even when we first met, and reminded me of my grandfather.   He served as a sounding board, a sort of third party perspective.  He studied Tibetan Buddhism, and used to talk to me in parables and stories, hoping I would gain some insight.  He never gave advice.

We didn’t reveal any deep, dark, suppressed secrets, or make any startling revelations about my life, except for one.  Since my childhood, I have always had a tendency to focus on the good things, the happy times, the joys in my life, rather than the sorrows.

When I decided to get divorced, all he said was, “What in the hell took you so very long?”  I told him how I had wanted my children to stay together (unlike my sisters and I) and not be separated or have to deal with step siblings or step parents.  I moved to Florida, and received a package in the mail from my therapist.  It was three books on Tibetan Buddhism.  He died on the day he sent me that package, (noted by the postmark on the package).  I discovered this when I called his office to thank him.  I cried.

Well, I am telling you this little story to tell you about statistics and why they are virtually meaningless to me.  I don’t look at my stats very often.  In fact, only twice since I began blogging in April, 2013.

It is far more important to me to build relationships with real people online than to make the numbers gleam.

I had a post about, “Making Your Gravatar Work for You.”  It took about five minutes to make that post.  It is my second most viewed (120) and clicked on post of all times.  58 people have “liked” it.  That’s great!  It was meant to be helpful. (Second only to my nudism post, “Uninhibited?”, which people might just be curious about. [131 views and only 32 likes].)

I made a post a couple of days ago about my “WIP: I Need Help Concerning Nicknames”.  It didn’t get reblogged. It only had 40 views, only 13 people “liked” it, and yet it is one of the most meaningful posts I have ever created.  It wasn’t done on a whim, like the gravater post that I made in 5 mins, simply because I was annoyed, (that post had many comments expressing gratitude BTW).  It wasn’t a post that took me hours to prepare with many uploaded, captioned photos, like some of my feature posts.

It was a post wherein we were engaged in meaningful dialog, where people discussed the use of nicknames, their preferences as both readers and writers, how to write nicknames into a literary work, and the creative process of writing.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I love it when you “like” my posts, whether you comment or not.  That is great.  It means maybe you actually read it and enjoyed it, and that is a large part of what I am here for.

I was, a couple of days ago, really in a serious mini-crisis that I could not get out of alone.  It was causing writer’s block, and no therapist could have resolved that crisis.  I just want to say that you, the people who engage me in comments with your meaningful contributions, well, you just make my world go around in this place called the blogosphere.  I am writing again, excited to be doing it.  I am motivated and having fun.  Thank you.

The stats really don’t matter.  The people do.


Interesting stats for my stat junky friends:

(These will open in a new page, so you won’t lose your wordpress connection.)




WIP: I need help concerning nicknames!


I need help from readers and writers concerning nicknames in published works.  Everybody knows McDonald’s by the nickname Mickey D’s.  At least, I think they do.  I named my youngest son Daniel, and I refused, though, to allow anyone to call him Danny or Dan, because I liked and wanted Daniel.

I have come to a point in my work in progress where I seriously need to decide on a name for my detective.  Right now, I am using a Scrivener name generator produced name for my detective and I don’t like it.

I have decided on either Robert Richardson, or Richard Robertson and I will tell you why.  It has to do with nicknames.  Many nicknames can be made from Robert: Bob, Rob, Bert, and from Richardson: Rich.  Likewise many nicknames can be made from Richard; Rich, Ricky, and Robertson. These can be used interchangeably between Christian and Sir names, if need be.  This is most likely going to be a series, so this name will follow him throughout.

Questions though:  Do you really care for nicknames in what you are reading, or do they bother you? Do they get too confusing?  If the name stays the same in narrative, are nicknames more acceptable in dialog?  Or do they still trouble you?

I have read books that used nicknames in dialog without problem and it was easy to follow.  I have also read nicknames used in narrative and dialog that became too difficult to follow, especially at the beginning of a book.  I have a couple of humorous scenes in my WIP wherein the detective could get into trouble because of the use of nicknames, but I am unsure if the reader would enjoy that, or would it be too confusing?  This detective takes his work seriously, but has a rather not so serious sidekick.  The detective is fortyish, comes from a small town outside of Atlanta, GA (no, I won’t call him Bubba), and currently resides in Orlando, FL.

I know that he has sold 19 million copies of The Bat: The electrifying first appearance of Jo Nesbø’s detective, Harry Hole.  But I can’t go with anything like Hairy Hole…I just can’t do it.

What are your thoughts on reading books with nicknames? Do nicknames make a storyline too challenging to follow?  Do you have any suggestions on; perhaps, a different name besides the two that I am debating?

Scrivener: A New to Me Writing Tool; The Hard Way or The Easy Way?

My husband bought me Scrivener, a writing tool for organization and more. I think it was in self-defense.

I am forever jotting down notes on whatever is handy, note paper, scratch paper, gum wrappers, printing out reams of computer pages for reference.  I have a ton of memos on my desk.  The names, dates, people, and places I want to remember.  Little tidbits of things I cannot forget.  Long summations of things I have put together. Story arcs, timelines, outlines, plot lines, scenes, character profiles, names, dates, people, places, all scribbled down somewhere.

I am also constantly asking myself, sometimes out loud, “Where did I write this or that?”  Followed by, “I know I had that somewhere!”

I wrote my first novel everywhere; on the kitchen table, the table on the back porch, at my desk.  Notes and papers were scattered everywhere.  It was truly amazing that I managed to pull it all together into one cohesive story in consideration of the amount of research that went into that book and my writing habits.  I had three diaries spanning 20 years with bookmarks on nearly every page. I also had tons of old notes from the early 1990s. The primary document was written in Word.  I am probably more of a “panster” than a “plotter” but I am seeking to change that in order to get more organization in my work.

I am reminded of my son when he was a pre-teen.  His job/chore was to wash the pots and pans after supper.  One day, I came home from work and saw the kitchen all nice and clean, and I thought, “Great, how wonderful to come home and find the dishes done and the kitchen clean.  I complimented him.

The next day I could not find a pot or pan to cook in.  I knew I had them, but they were not in the cabinets, the dishwasher, or the stove.  I looked everywhere.  When I asked him, I got the infamous, “I don’t know.”   He insisted that he washed them, and didn’t know what happened to them, “Maybe Daddy had them for something.”

Well, three days later we found them.  I noticed the shovel propped against the back door.  An unusual place for it. I also noticed a fairly fresh mound of dirt in the back yard.  Yes, he had gone through the trouble of burying the pots and pans in the back yard to keep from having to wash them.  Now I am thinking, it would have taken all of fifteen or twenty minutes to wash them and put them away, but he spent time (who only knows how long?) and labor digging a deep enough hole in the back yard to bury them.  Out of sight, out of mind.   What a work effort for him.  Wouldn’t it have just been easier to wash them?

I think the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Sometimes I will do things the hard way, rather than the easy way.  I am hoping Scrivener will help me learn to do my writing the easy way, with a lot less clutter.  I am going to follow the 2 hour tutorial today and see if it is user friendly enough for me to get started.  Once I get to about chapter three, my panster method of writing can get rather complicated and I am trying alleviate some of that complexity.  This next WIP is apt to become a series, and staying organized will be imperative.

If you have ever used Scrivener, or know anything about it or some other writing tool and how it is useful, please let me know.  If you have any tips, or can tell me how Scrivener has simplified your writing process, please feel free to comment.  Links to your posts about scrivener are welcome also. I would welcome and appreciate all of the help I can get.

Help! RSS feeds: Can anyone tell me how to set up one?

Help!  I am being held captive by the techno wizards.  I need an RSS or Atom feed to link my blog to my Goodreads account and I am not sure how to do that.  It is asking for the external blog feed URL.  i don’t even know if I have one of those.  I am not at ground zero, but I would not rate myself higher than about a two right now.  Any and all assistance would be greatly appreciated.  Sorry to be such a bother. ~ S.K. Nicholls

WIPs, I need opinions!!!!

I am having a writer’s dilemma:  I have two works in progress and I have decided if I am to get either one of them finished in a timely manner, I am going to have to choose which one to deeply dedicate myself to.  The first one is a mystery murder/drama which may actually evolve into a series.  It is told by the Governor’s lover, a gay man who despises the Governor’s wife.  This one is very serious with little humor.

The second one is a sort of autobiography; the names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.  It is told in the first person.  It is the life of an orphan who has matured into adulthood.  My life has not been a mundane one and it has some very exciting characters and events. While it has some very serious moments there is ultimately more humor in this second one

Read, if you will, the two opening few paragraphs and tell me in comments which one peaks your interest most.  Which one, if either, makes you want to read more right away?  They are very different.  The first one is set in Orlando, Fl., a bit in Chicago and quite a bit in Washington, DC.  The second one is set in New York City initially, but progresses back to GA and then to Florida.




Delgado was not a name former Florida Governor Timothy Harrison would have chosen for his only son, had that choice been his exclusively. It was merely a Democratic political device of the times, and a Latin family name of his late and only wife, Maria E. Bohling-Harrison, chosen and insisted upon by her at their son’s birth, 33 years ago.

Maria was of mixed decent, with a Puerto Rican mother and an Irish father, but her Hispanic phenotype was unquestionable.  She was a dark and richly radiant beauty.

No red hair, but her fighting Irish spirit as well as her peppery Latina voice were clearly recognizable genotypes.  Although calm and composed in general public appearances, privately she most often displayed fiery temperament.

Living vicariously close as observer in those early years of Governor Tim’s second career, I was a young and impressionable man in awe of it all, the splendor of idealistic illusion.

Tim’s first career had been one of engineering, until that time, when he had been promoted to the point of actually ceasing to engineer anything but managing, instead, those in Civil Engineering who continued to work in the field.  The frustrations of such management were met with savvy political skill and relatively easily quelled despite the presenting problems of a population explosion in the new millennium of Central Florida.  Law, as a career choice, and the politics thereof, had initially been no more than hobby on the heels of his aging parents healing processes and the dealings with various condescending doctors during those processes.

It was during our last year in Law School at Barry University, and with all of the turbulent successes of that year and the years that followed, that Gov. Tim and myself were drawn together as friends and colleagues.  He was a young man then, at 43 years.  Not that I realized such at the time, being a younger man still at 23.


In one smooth motion, I clicked off the safety and pulled the hammer back on the little pearl handled Saturday night special and fired.  The bullet grazed the shoulder of the Wolfman Jack “wanna be” and hit the headboard just beside his friend, Johnny’s, head.  I could have hit his heart if I had wanted too.  I had not hesitated to use the gun.  On my grandmother’s back porch back in Georgia when I was four years old, I was shooting squirrels out of the pecan trees and skinning them for breakfast at the age of four.  I knew how to use a gun.

The gunshot brought a scurry of people up the stairs.  From the inside of the locked room I could hear people screaming for the key.  I was standing on top of a table, in my stilettos and evening gown, where the Wolfman Jack like character and his friend, the greasy long haired near toothless  Johnny, had been telling me to dance a performance for them.  I had feigned some moves and was trying furiously to inconspicuously unlock the window so I could escape when the Wolfman Jack guy leaned forward to approach the table.  That’s when I kicked his jacket in his direction and saw the glint of the gun hanging out of its pocket.

Nick was the first person through the door.  He snatched me by my long blonde hair and jerked me down from the table by the hair of my head.  I dropped the gun and scrambled to get my footing in the high heels.  It was only a matter of seconds before I was being dragged down the stairs, through the kitchen, out of the back door, and into the yard.  At least two dozen people stood watching; roughly one third of the party, and Nick proceeded to rip the evening gown from my body.  I stood naked and bare foot in the back yard in front of God, the Devil, and everyone else.  I was bruised and scratched when he was done.  I had fought back, but at 5’5” and barely a hundred pounds soaking wet, I was no match for him.  The party was over for me, and I was glad.