Test Readers

Trash     I’ve finished rewriting an earlier manuscript that needed work, and it’s now at the stage of being reviewed by test readers. That’s a bit unnerving because you never know how people will view your work, but it’s also really useful and kind of fun to see their take on certain scenes and twists of plot. Test readers have fresh eyes that, let’s face it, authors lack, as they’ve been living with the project forever.

     I’ve got a simple method. I ask readers to write along the margins whatever pops into their head. If a section made them smile, I ask them to draw a smiley face. If they didn’t understand, put a question mark or ask a question. If a section’s boring, say so! If the readers are simply gripped by the amazing awesomeness of the story, well, congratulations are in order. Yay, me! 🙂 No matter how the comments go, I need honesty here. I need to know what works. So far, my test readers have been great at telling me like it is, which is exactly what I need!

     I found an interesting article about test readers here at the American Book Publishing site. Enjoy, and thanks to all you test readers out there who make good books better!

Dryland Workouts and Running

Sun     The speedskating season is over, but you’ll find that the really dedicated skaters aren’t spending their newly-freed-up workout times sitting in lawn chairs, drinking margaritas, and finding shapes in passing clouds. Oh, I plan to do that at least once this summer, don’t get me wrong, but the point is we’re supposed to not let ourselves get out of shape, which would make our autumn transition back onto the ice painful.

     To that end, my coach has been holding dryland workouts, including “low walking” (walking low to the ground in speedskater stance) to strengthen those thighs — feel the burn, baby — and sprints for bursts of speed. I haven’t been able to travel for the weekly workouts, but I’ve been making up for it by exercising in other ways, including working on an elliptical machine, on steps, using weights, and running.

     Let me just say that I used to run quite a lot in college and loved it. It was always exhausting the first mile but got much easier the longer I ran, and I had a great running partner who was much faster than me and thus motivated me to keep up — Diane, if you’re out there, email me, hun.

     Now I’m running with my kids, and it’s turning out to be a really nice way to spend time with them. We only run together about twice a week and about a mile per session, but it’s been great to have them as running mates. We’re all seeing improvement in our strength and stamina and we’re having fun — and preparing to set the ice on fire come September!