"I don't want to earn my living; I want to live."


August 2017

Book Review – ‘Red’ a Novella by D. J Doyle. #reading

Just lately, my posts have centred around my journey to find and work with Beta Readers – but I’m not just a taker. I’m also happy to play the part of Beta Reader myself. Sometimes it’s a straight swap, like a covert drug deal.

“I’ll read yours, if you read mine.”

Other times, I’ll see a post looking for a Beta that catches my eye. ‘Red’ was one of the latter.

Listed as extreme horror, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I have a strong stomach, gore and mess don’t scare me at all – but if you’ve ever seen a million horror movies, like me, you will know more oft than not, the whole plot thing is sorely lacking. And the plot is what I turn up for.

But on the original post, this one actually sounded pretty intriguing – and I’m a real sucker for someone telling me I should think twice about reading something, because the content may offend. So naturally, I offered my Beta services.

I have to say, I was far from disappointed. Yes, I found I could stomach what I was reading rather nicely actually – but I’m told I’m a pretty sick son of a bitch anyway so I’d expected no different. What I hadn’t expected, was all that lovely, lovely plot.

‘Red’ is told in a first person POV, again, not something I’m all that big on, I’m a traditional girl at heart. The tale follows Todd and it’s a frankly, frightening look at the world through the eyes of one messed up guy. Todd is a bit of a collector – collecting both interesting weapons (I’ll save what he does with those weapons for you to find out yourselves – but let me just say, ouch!) and what Todd calls, his princesses.

Coloured by a pretty rocky start in life, you can see why the guy might have ended up all messed up. I wouldn’t say I sympathised with him, he was a sick fuck, but there’s enough there that you can still relate to and feel a part of what is going on in the story, as well as being able to see the world in an entirely new way. Or at least, I hope for most people it is a new way of seeing the world… *shivers*

The gore is there – but I found it to be understated in the way it was written. Instead of seeing the tale through an often, distracting veil of blood, it was more like decoration – serving to embellish the story rather than take away from it or worse, take it over all together.

For me, the novella was three hours reading time and I’m a pretty fast reader. But that three-hour period was not broken up by the rest of my life. You know… reading it a bit and then putting it aside until I could find a minute later in the day. Instead, my life took a back seat. The tale intrigued me from the off and I genuinely couldn’t set it down until I reached the end, I just wasn’t able to walk away from it.

And let me tell you, the cunning little twist at the end… it came out of nowhere and floored me. For me, that was pretty damn amazing. I’m one of those ridiculous, annoying people who you will sit down beside to watch a who-dunnit and I will know (not predict, KNOW) who the murderer is and why they did it, ridiculously early. Sorry about that. But this one? I was completely blind-sided, I really didn’t see it coming. Not even a little bit.

And was I disappointed that my talent for deduction had eluded me? Hell no. I was delighted. It made my commitment to the novella well worth it and I implore you, if you are a deductive soul like me who enjoys the thrill of knowing how the story ends before you get there – go and read it. I’d love to know if it catches you out too.

This probably isn’t something people ordinarily do at the end of a book review – I have no idea but I’m doing it anyway. I wanted to share a little about the author. I should also point out that this isn’t a friend of mine that’s written a book and I’m here to shamelessly plug it for them, I’ve never met her in my life and I’m never likely to. But I honestly believe D. J Doyle is a name to look out for in the future.

I stumbled across her bio on her author profile on Amazon and I just had to share this with you.

“D.J. Doyle is the author of The Celtic Curse: Banshee. She was raised by pot smoking hippies and spent her days worshipping pagan deities in the HellFire Club and her nights watching horror movies. She now lives with her family in a treehouse, preying on unsuspecting travellers, and where she likes nothing better than coming up with ideas for new stories and plotting her next novel. Some of this might have been made up. To learn more about D.J. Doyle, her website can be found at and her official facebook author page is

If you still don’t want to go and find her after that, you have no soul. Really.

Thanks for taking the time to read – I should point out all of the above is only my point of view according to my tastes in fiction – that said, Red is available on Amazon and Goodreads right now for what I believe to be an introductory price of 99p as well as being available for free to all with Kindle unlimited.

If you want something short and snappy to sink your fangs into, you’ll find it here:

And if you do take the time to read it, make sure to come back here and let everyone else know what you thought of it – I’d love to chat to you about it. Come join me in the dark – it’s fun.

Cheers guys!



When Should I Take A Beta Reader Seriously? #beingthebestyoucanbe

I’ve been asking this question myself a lot in the last few days. There doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut answer.

Following the hugely conflicting advice and sort of making my own path, I ended up with 23 Beta Readers who are currently making their way through my work, sending feedback to me chapter by chapter.

I’m finding it to be a mostly rewarding process, much more so than I had expected it to be.

In short, I was bloody terrified at the idea of people outside of my very intimate circle having the chance to peruse my work. I’m sure this is a common feeling for most of us. We seem to drift from being absolutely in love with what we’ve written, to never wanting to see the damn thing again before violently taking the up-swing once more.

But getting my book to where it needs to be, requires a little outside help eventually, and the book was ready so out it went into the world. Bye, Bye, Baby.

Some Beta’s are tougher than others, some are already published themselves, others are writers who aren’t quite there yet and some are just people who enjoy a good read – I was pleased to have got a good mix of levels, as well as a mix of readers – those who prefer something a little more light-hearted contrasting with those who enjoy a good scare. I feel confident I have a good number of bases covered.

The feedback itself has been pretty varied – people do like to take a stab in the dark at what is going to happen and it is simply amazing about how many theories people can get from one book, I’ve never witnessed it before. But for the most part, people were saying similar things ‘I really liked this part because…” “This part confused me a bit because…” “I hated it when this happened because…”

Overall, mostly good things coming back. Not that sugar-coated rubbish most of us are used to hearing from family and friends but something real, something helpful, something you can work with.

And then there was this one Beta – the anomaly.

She came back to me after the second chapter telling me she just could not force herself to read anymore.

It wasn’t the way it was written that put her off, on the contrary, she was very kind about the way I write and at the end of the first chapter was most encouraging about the direction I had taken with the story and what great potential it had.

Then, a new character was introduced. Granted, a bit of a fantastical character – but not one out of the ordinary for the kind of book I’m writing. And this one Beta couldn’t stand it, to the point she could not read anymore. She was so strong in her opinion – openly telling me that no one else would be able to get past it either.

Of course, I was shattered – totally heartbroken truth be told.

The thing of it is, who do you believe? The anomaly, a party of one who disliked a particular character or the majority? A 22 strong group of Beta’s who all LOVED that one character and thought it was a really clever touch.

It’s dead easy for us creative types to immediately let the one bad thing completely crush the good stuff – I suppose it is sort of in our nature.

I don’t have the answer to this one, I’m no expert by any means but I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.

The one bad opinion got to me. For a whole day, it completely knocked me for a loop and I was useless. Now?

I’ve taken on board what she has said, not ignored it – but at the same time, I’ve allowed myself to step back and see the pattern. You can’t please everyone but if the majority are pleased then you are probably on the right track.

I’m channelling my fear and heart ache from those comments and using it as a driving force. I’m going to show that Beta.

I’ve told myself that when my book is sitting on a shelf with a bestseller sticker on the front, inside that book is going to be a thank you. I want that particular Beta to know when I’ve made it – I want her to know she lit a fire under my ass and did exactly what a Beta should without giving feedback on more than a couple of chapters… she helped me. She made me want to prove myself. Prove I’m better than she thinks.

It’s the only way I know how to deal with this without being consumed by it.

But I’m interested to know – what would you do in that situation? Maybe you’ve been there countless times and dealt with it a variety of ways. Why not be a Beta Beta for everyone else? Drop a comment below and share your story. You never know who you might end up helping.

Much love,

TR 😊

Beta Readers – How Important Are They? #Editing

Well, not so long ago, the second draft of my novel was completed and oh my god, was that ever a relief?

But then came the question of how to proceed from there – I felt sure that the manuscript wasn’t in a fit state to be self-published, or put in front of an agent or publisher quite yet, not if I valued my reputation anyway. But I had come to a bit of a stand-still, I’d found all the flaws most obvious to me already, but now I could hardly see the wood for the trees.

So, like many people before me, I turned to the internet for advice – and boy was that ever a mistake. The conflicting advice I found there was about enough to make my head explode.

Beta Readers.

It was a term I thought I was already familiar with – having used what were known as Beta Readers in my fanfiction writing days. The Beta’s I worked with back then some eleven years ago, as it turns out, were actually super Beta’s. I would write a chapter of my latest (usually Ashes to Ashes based) fanfic and email it over to my Beta.

To this day, I have no knowledge of who she was really – she went by the tag Emzi.x and she was a higher level English student, more keen on correcting the work of others than taking up the pen herself, she was awesome.

But here’s where the difference comes in – Emzi.x would send back a corrected version of what I had written. Then all I had to do, was hit upload, job done.

Over a decade further along my journey, I discover that ordinarily, that is not what Beta Reader’s do. A Beta’s job is to read through your work and provide you with feedback – be it feedback on the story itself, any typing errors they spotted, in short anything they liked or didn’t like. They give you the feedback and you pick and choose what changes to make yourself.

And here is where the conflicting advice comes in. Many writers will tell you that you simply MUST have Beta Readers – while others will insist you avoid them like the plague.

Some who favour Beta’s, will tell you to pick very carefully, making sure that each and every one of them is in your target audience while others will insist you cast a far wider net, to get a varied opinion.

One school of thought will tell you to pick only a handful of trusted Beta’s to show your work to, while others are adamant that you should aim for a pool of twenty Beta’s and upwards to better show patterns in what is liked and disliked.

So, what’s a writer to do when faced with such opposing advice?

Make it up, of course.

I decided the best way to move forward would be to invite ten people I knew, from varying backgrounds and readerships, to be my round one Beta’s, knowing that even though all ten had said yes, there was a high possibility that they wouldn’t pull through.

Of that ten, four have come through at this point and a fifth is still positive they want to be involved. That’s not a bad rate of return for such a mixed bag and it gives me the opportunity to see what people who don’t ordinarily read in that genre make of it, as well as getting the viewpoint of those who know what to expect.

My next step? Beta Reader groups are abundant on Facebook – and I’m in several. All of them are full of writers and readers who I already know are looking for something to read and are happy to give feedback. So, I’ll post in those groups and see what interest I get back.

Once I’ve got all that lovely feedback returned to me – it will be time to pick and choose what advice to incorporate into the novel and what to ignore. A task that should be fairly easy to do, with patterns in opinion readily showing through after so many have taken a walk through my world.

But I’m curious, what do you think of Beta Readers? Are they important or an unnecessary practice? What would you do differently from me?

Thanks for reading guys, drop a comment in the box below and start a conversation about this – let’s see if we can make the answer obvious.

Much Love, TR.

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