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  • Patricia Hollett

    The Author

  • Currently Writing/Completed

    Currently working on:

    Fallon -70,094 words
    Forest Born -67408 words
    Ice Whisperings -2997 words
    Garrett -9623words
    Northern Blood -11658 words
    Winter's Reign -787 words

    Completed

    Blood Harvest - 998 words
    Keeping Secrets - 1500 words
    Misunderstood -700 words
    Sarah's Amulet-A Necromancer Slave Story -6004 words
    The Cult -1998 words
    Unfortunate Blessings -454 words

    To Be Published

    Artistic Escape - flash (to be pub 2011)
    Happy Birthday Honey - flash (to be pub 2011)
    Making Choices - flash (to be pub 2011)
    Together Forever - flash (to be pub 2011)

    Published

    Allie's Clown - 1500 words (Published on Dark Valentine website March 2011)
    Valeria's Knight - 4807 words (Published in Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine)
    The Angel Wars/Post-Apocalyptic Emails at the end of time-A collaboration with author Tammy Crosby (Published by PillHill Press in August 2011)
    Valeria's Knight - 4807 words (Published in Night to Dawn Magazine-September 2011)

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    All posts, stories and comments made by Patricia Hollett on WordPress.com are property of Patricia Hollett. All rights reserved. 2010 ©
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What’s Expected of a Beta Reader?


This week I asked some authors/writers I know what they expect from a beta reader and what they want a beta reader to look for. I mean really… what’s important to them and what should a beta reader provide. Here is some great feedback from them on what’s important. I hope it’s as helpful to you as it has been to me.

Julie Particka-Klumb, aka Seleste deLaney, (Author of: ‘Gunshy’, ‘Pretty Souls’,‘Stockings and Suspenders’, ‘Badlands’, ‘Yule Be Mine’, ‘Forever Summer’, ‘Yes, Alana, There is a Santa Claus’, ‘The Ghost of Vampire Present-Blood Kissed #2’, ‘Of Course I Try-Blood Kissed #1’. Her website is http://selestedelaney.blogspot.com/

I have a few beta readers and each one gives me something different.

I have one who is very good at pointing out big picture issues–where I’ve slacked off and left plot holes, no matter how small.

I have one who points out every time I make her laugh or swoon. Since I write romance or strong romantic elements and I like to know if my jokes work, this is invaluable.

All of the people who read for me point out typos, awkward spots, or where I confuse them (as well as continuity issues), but those other things are what make those my two constant betas so important to me.

Honesty is the key.

Angela Addams (Author of: ‘Ghost Bride’, ‘The Temptress’, ‘Assassin’. Her website is http://www.blog.angelaaddams.com/

I value beta readers so much. What I need from my beta readers is honesty –even if it’s brutal, constructive criticism –highlighting grammar, spelling, things that just don’t make sense or make them say, “Whaaaat?” –what I really love, believe it or not, is the sarcasm that my beta readers use when leaving comments –sometimes the comments are so funny that I laugh out loud when reading them –those are the best kind of beta readers and I’m lucky enough to have found quite a few.

Julie Campbell, aka J.A.Campbell, (Author of: ’Senior Year Bites’, Doc Vampire Hunting Dog’, ‘Into the West Series’, ‘Arabian Dreams’. Her website is http://writerjacampbell.wordpress.com/

Hmm, okay, what’s important to me…

I really want my beta readers to tell me what is working for them and what isn’t. That is a pretty broad way of saying, point out awkward phrasing, inconsistencies, any obvious grammar or comma errors (though grammar isn’t a beta’s primary function, if you see it you might as well point it out), anything that is blatantly stupid and anything that jerks them out of the story.

They can also point out things they really like – which helps immensely too. Overall, I want to know if they: like the story, like the ending, think it would end better or start better somewhere else. Anything they think is important, it probably is. I trust my beta readers a lot.

Above all, I want them to be honest. These days I wouldn’t send something to them if I didn’t think it was good. One of my poor betas has suffered through a lot of my earlier stuff, but she still reads for me, so I apparently didn’t traumatize her too much. I think it is important that beta readers love to read and are at least familiar with the genre you write in. It also doesn’t hurt if they are writers themselves. Writers do tend to be the harshest critics.

Angela Magee (Avangeline-Mod from OWG group #3)

I think a beta reader should be a super fan who can be a super critic/critiquer. When I send it to the beta reader, the first and maybe second round of edits have been done, IMO, so I need them to find all the typos I can’t see…work out the awkward bits that I’ve put before the OWG and still don’t have quite right… And tell me when something just isn’t working. I think they should be a fan, too, because I’ve seen it from the other side. There’s a writer whom I adore as a friend, who I know can technically write, and who wouldn’t be the published author she is today if she relied on my opinion of her YA. In my opinion, your beta reader should be fully behind your project, not just editing because they’re your buddy.

C. C. Adams aka The Cat (Author of Dolls Eye) A well written story with a plot that twists and turns and keeps you wondering what will happen next. My first experience as a beta reader was for Carl, and it was a learning experience for me, which I can’t thank him enough for. Also, the pleasure of reading this remarkably well plotted out story is still fresh in my mind.

“What I look for in a beta-reader is patience, first off. Sure, I spend time cultivating and crafting my work, but that doesn’t mean that the resulting story is going to enthral everyone. Therefore, the beta gets the role of Court Taster, making sure it’s fit for general consumption. They get to stomach the whole thing from beginning to end, and sift through it with a fine-toothed comb – regardless of whether they like the story or not.

Ultimately, the beta needs a sharp and clinical eye. To me, it’s not an issue of whether a beta read takes a month or a year. The quality of work is all.”

Kelly Metz (Author of A Taste of Blood) An amazing story with a fantastic plot, which I had the privilege to do read and do a beta for her. A good story is one you remember long after reading it, and this is one story you will want to buy when it’s published.
What I look for in a beta…

Well, seeing as how I’m fairly new to the beta process, I guess what I look for in a beta is what I look for in a short crit of a scene. I like praise, really I do. I like hearing the story was good, the characters were funny. I like getting a pat on the head and cookie just as much as the next person does. The problem is that doesn’t make me a better writer. It doesn’t teach me anything, doesn’t improve the story. Tell me how to make it better.

Line edits are fine and dandy, but when the author has a solid grip on spelling and grammar, then line edits are for catching the occasional typo. Again, doesn’t teach me anything other than my brain occasionally skips over things because I know what it’s supposed to say.

What I need from a beta reader, and what I try to give someone who asks me to beta, is a third party perspective coming fresh to the story to look at it on a macro level, not micro. I know my spelling and grammar, but I don’t know if the reader gets the nuances, I have built into the story without smacking them in the face with it. (LOOK! HERE’S A MOTIVATION I’M SPELLING OUT FOR YOU! FLASHING RED ARROW!!! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!) Are the characters staying true to themselves? Does the plot make sense? Does the plot actually resolve? Does the scene contribute to the plot or draw things out unnecessarily? Did the MC’s eye color change between chapters? Or in my case specifically, did a subplot line once intrinsic to the main plot suddenly disappear into the background of obscurity?

Which is an awful long way to say this: A beta reader will tell you a story is good or bad. A good beta reader will call you on your mistakes; tell you when the story is too close to your heart, and help you fix it. (P.S. A good beta reader will also tell you when you’re too long winded like this response.)

Danielle Wegner (Writer, beta reader for Kelley Armstrong)

When I was first approached about doing a Beta read, it was because the author had heard my complaints about another author’s inconsistencies in her series. The author (Kelley Armstrong) asked if I would read through book seven in her series and just be sure everything was in order. I have a near photographic memory for certain things, and details in books–especially books I love–is one of those things.

I now check for other things besides continuity, but that is still my main focus. Nothing irritates me more than a character’s eye colour changing, or a name, or age. Hopefully I do a good job…I keep being asked to do it again, so I must be all right!

I would like to thank Julie Particka-Klumb, Angela Addams, Angela Magee, Julie Campbell, C.C. Adams, Kelly Metz, and Danielle Wagner for sharing their expertise with me on beta reading.

Well I hope this helped provide some insight into what a beta reader should do and what writers/authors hope to gain from a beta. Yes, I know it was lengthy, but I wanted to get a good cross-section of different perspectives on the topic.

Until next time….

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Character Development


Last week I talked about planning your manuscript right from the beginning. During the Dark Fantasy Writing course taught by Kelley Armstrong, she handed out a form to develop our character profiles.

I took the one she gave us, and revised it. I added lines for information that I needed to know about my characters so its a combination form, partly her ideas and some of my own. So its a full profile for my main characters, and I can when I write about them, I know everything I need to know to develop their personalities in my story.

Then I did another form for secondary characters…you know the people that come and go in your story, but you don’t need to know everything about them. You may need to know a little, but not a full profile.

Doing these has helped me understand my characters so much better. I thought I knew them well enough to write them into my story, but readers need to identify with them, and the writer needs to know them as well as he/she can possibly know anyone.

I know my characters so well that they’re like familiar friends or family members. I don’t know all their intimate secrets yet, but I know enough that I can write about them. They need to be just like real people and that’s what the reader will sense while they read the story. Identifying with your main characters will draw your reader in. If you don’t know them that well, then your reader won’t either.

This is another stage of planning, which I can’t stress enough as being an important part of starting your story. Hope this helps!

Feel free to use mine or make your own if you find anything useful in the form. They’re underlined in blue below.

Keep writing, and enjoy your week! 🙂

Character Profile Page-Primary

Character Profile Page-Secondary characters

What Makes A Good Novel


This week’s blog is about ‘What Makes a Good Novel’.
I conducted some research on the above topic and here’s what I found…

A novel should show the character’s personality. A novel also should have a good story or hook. You need to believe what is happening on the pages. The main quality of a good novel is its ability to make you care about its characters, worry for them, dislike them, pity them, but above all believe in their reality and their journey.
Another obvious quality is the page-turning one. You want to know what happens next in a good novel. Sometimes it depends on the characters and their interactions, but as the plot develops, so do your characters. They redefine themselves, which makes them easier or harder to like, they need to be tested, questioned, and they need to grow.
Sometimes the things that make a good novel are the hardest to pinpoint. After finishing a novel, your mind keeps returning to what happened or stayed with you, or you remember certain things that you enjoyed about it. It’s those extra elements, a layering of sorts, suggesting undercurrents, which give you the satisfaction of the story.
Detail is additionally important for the reader to create a picture in their mind. And, without this we wouldn’t be able to envision the world that our characters and story take place in.
Novels are certainly about people, but they’re also about indefinable forces.

It’s hard to pick just one thing that makes a good novel, but I asked several Authors/Writer friends to answer the question below and pick only ONE thing they think makes a good novel, and they all came up with something great. Here’s the question, and their answers.

If you could pick one specific thing that you think makes a good novel, what would it be?

Danielle La Paglia (Dannigrrl)
The most important thing for me is a strong voice. I love to look at a story from different sides and decide which voice/POV to use–the killer or the victim or the witness. 1st person, 3rd person, it doesn’t matter as long as the voice is strong and clear. I don’t want a narrator that rambles and I don’t want constant descriptions of scenery and mundane things. I want to feel what that character feels and join them on the ride–the ups, the downs, the surprises, whatever. That’s what draws me in to a novel and keeps me coming back for more.

Anna Krowe (Anna K)
Difficult question, as a good novel is compiled of multiple important factors. But, if I had to pick a single most important element, I would say plot. When people think back on a book, what do they remember most? The way it was written or the story? I say story. If you have a memorable, strong, and unique plotline, you’ve got a good book.

Tammy Crosby (CDNWMN)
For me, a good novel must assume that the reader is somewhat intelligent. There’s nothing worse than a patronizing author.

Gareth (Drosdelnoch)
This is like asking which is the first rain drop that falls, everyone will have a different answer, but to me, the one key element that an author has to get right is the lead character. They have to be well built, be believable and someone that you can empathise with. Fail that and no matter how good the other elements are and you’re at a huge disadvantage to keep the reader hooked.

Lisa Murphy (BookFever)
For me a good novel must have great relationships between characters. Sometimes you’ll see it in the dialogue and at other times in the silences while many things can be discovered in the characters actions. Too much description bores me and I have been known to skip over wordy dull paragraphs in search of the next juicy scene.

Julie Campbell (Firewolf)
Compelling characters doing compelling things.

Anne Michaud (annemichaud)
The author’s voice. It could be the most spectacular premise, unique plot and amazing characters, if the voice is flat and boring, it wrecks dialogues, descriptions, and everything in between. Same thing if the writer tries to ‘replicate’ more than to ‘feel’ – it doesn’t flow and isn’t enjoyable as a read. The craft of writing isn’t copy/paste or generic, it’s Art, must come from within. And what’s more original than a writer’s voice?

Dianne Waye (Diannewaye)
One specific thing that makes a good novel, for me, is an emotional connection to the main character. I want to read a character-driven story, where you laugh and cry along with the hero. Where you cheer for their hard-earned victories. Defeat, triumph, love, hate – I want to feel it, too.

Kelly Metz (bwlrgrl300)
If I could pick one specific thing that I think makes a good novel, it would be the characters. They make or break stories for me. It could be the most outstanding story idea ever imagined, but if I don’t care about the character, I’m not going to read it. The characters need to be real to me, and that doesn’t mean that they need to be sunshine and roses nice. Real means they have faults and problems just like anyone else, and they struggle with them and take me as the reader through their struggles. I want to cheer for their successes, and cry at their losses.

Jessica Peters (psyche_13)
I think that one of the main things in a good novel is the pacing. It has to move at a good clip, without exhausting the reader.

I just want to thank all of you for these brilliant answers. It’s been fun doing this and I hope everyone enjoys reading this as much as I did. It’s been very interesting!
Thank You All!! 🙂

An Interview with Writer Anne Michaud


This week, I’m doing a Giveaway! Yes! A book! ‘The Hollow’, by Jessica Verday, just for reading and leaving a comment on this interview. One person will be randomly selected. Please post a comment, and next Friday, a winner will be chosen to recieve the hardcover book. Please enjoy the interview, leave a comment, and check out Anne’s Blog!
Writer/Livy Parker's Journal/RebelAn Interview with Author Anne Michaud

This week I am interviewing Anne Michaud. I recently became acquainted with Anne through the OWG writing group. After reading Anne’s blog, ‘Livy Parker’s Journal’, which I found very creative and truly inspiring, I thought it would be interesting to get to know the person behind the fascinating blog. I started reading her Livy story and I truly enjoyed it. It is fresh, funny, interesting, and Livy is a terrific character.

It is my privilege to introduce Anne, ‘Livy Parker’s Journal ( her blog-Livy’s Parker’s Journal), and her writing accomplishments to anyone who reads my blog. I recommend checking out her blog, which I am sure, will amuse you as much as it has entertained me.

Hey Anne! Welcome to Pat’s Writing Blog!

Pat, thank you so much for having me. I’m thrilled you enjoy the blog. I feel very honored. *blush*

I am not sure any of my readers know what you do so maybe you could tell them a little bit about yourself to start.

I’m a writer from a small town south of Montreal, Canada. I have two little ones (that’s a lie, my cats are HUGE) and I’m a chocolate addict (unless there’s caramel around). I confess; I’m now a compulsive blogger and it’s all because of Livy.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
For me, it’s all about LOVE! When it was time to choose the game of Life, I completely fell in love with Tim Burton, David Lynch, and Fellini’s films, so I decided I wanted to do the same; tell stories with images. From college to university, I made films and believed filmmaking was my destiny… until I began my Master’s in screenwriting at the University of London in the UK. Then it hit me: I could write anything I wanted without anyone (i.e. the producer, director of photography, etc) having a say in it. I could be the master of these universes I created and really say what I wanted to – and my heart skipped a beat at that moment. It’s more than love; it’s a passion – which is a writer’s drug, really.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?It can be from anywhere, anyone. Sometimes, I’ll read a book and there’s a great turn of phrase – I’ll borrow it for later. A song can trigger something, and even movies. Even names, people I met on the net or in the street. But mainly – warning: whimsy ahead – my dreams have always provided a great resource for unusual and crazy ideas. Most of my short stories and even a few novels have started from my subconscious – I always have a notepad handy by the bed, my best ideas come right before I fall asleep, too.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Well… I read!! About 5 books a week. I know, I should get out more 😉 I also collect antiques (mostly I save furniture from destruction and bring them back to their original glory) and I craft, but only a little. And only really cute stuff.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
Rebel is my third and by far my favourite. It started out as a script (actually, it was my Master’s project) and after about ten drafts as a screenplay and three as a novel unsuitable for YA, I re-wrote it into a dystopian young adult action thriller and I knew I’d made the right choice. Rebel is The One That Will Be Published, I think. Oh, jinx!

Do you write short stories? How many have you written?
About a hundred, if not more – from flash fiction to novelette, sometimes I cut from my novels’ scenes and characters, or turn chapters into stand-alone fiction. Lately, I’ve been exploring longer pieces, developing characters and their worlds, rather than having a great twist at the end. I LOVE short stories; I think you can tell a lot about a writer through them.

Do you have current work published or will be published? Tell us about this.
For the past year, my short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies (Polygraff magazine and Flesh & Bone from Pill Hill Press to name a couple), and more will appear in both Canadian and American publications in the upcoming year. My main goal is to get Rebel published, and I won’t stop until I hold the book in my hands!

What are your future writing plans? Do you have current projects in the work or are you starting anything new?

Oh Pat, I ALWAYS have new stories brewing in this head of mine. I’ve just started working on the next instalment after Rebel. I write a short story a week and always seek publication for my short fiction, whether it’s online or in print, and that’s a challenge in itself.

What do you think makes a good story?
Identifying with the characters. Surprises that keep your interest. Originality that makes you want to read more. Everything has been said, everything has been done, it’s our job as writers to find a new way to tell it all over again.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
A singer! But then, I realised my voice didn’t match my dreams, so I switched to actress and then, I saw how “deer in the headlights” my face looked on camera and decided to be behind it. I’ve always loved to write and analyse people’s behaviour, but when I was younger, I didn’t have much to say. Oh boy, did that ever change!

Who are your favourite authors?Ready? Go! Jane Austen, Neil Gaiman, Scott Westerfeld, Suzanne Collins, George Orwell, Boris Vian, Meg Rosoff, James Morrow, Edgar Allan Poe, Philip Pullman, Gregory Maguire, Martin Millar, Arthur Rimbaud, Anne Brontë, Cassandra Clare, Nick Hornby, Frank Beddor, Terry Pratchett, Tom Rob Smith, John Ajvide Lindqvist, Andrew Collins, Philip K. Dick, Laura Whitcomb, Umberto Eco, Clive Barker, Susanna Clarke, Kage Baker, Laurie Halse Anderson, Markus Zusak, Alan Bradley… I feel like I’m forgetting someone…

Okay, now let us talk about some of your work. Tell us about your novel ‘Rebel’.
What is the genre? Could you give us a general synopsis of the story?

Rebel is the story of Livy Parker – she hates her life, everyone watches her every move on Seattle’s media screens, her famous journalist father Phil Parker wants her to follow in his footsteps, but she wants to do something no one with her status has ever done: join the Army and fight in War V.

Obviously, this is a story for young adults – but older readers might be interested, too. Livy is not some flimsy girl who only thinks about boys: her world is way too serious for that. Facing invasion from every country on the planet, America is not what it once was. And thanks to Livy, there’s a chance it can be saved from going down in flames…

Who is Livy, and what prompted your blog ‘Livy Parker’s Journal’?
Livy is me, really! She’s tall and quite rebellious, never does what she’s told, and has to become quite inventive to cope with her everyday life. Unlike me, though, her mother left when she was a child and her father brought her up by himself, creating this co-dependent parental friendship. Livy is strong and she knows what she wants and does everything to get it – which I hope is like me;)

I was emailing my friend/editor about starting a blog to create interest for Rebel, and I was saying I wanted something different from the usual YA book reviews. Then it hit me: my main character’s journal, as a prequel and background story, depicting her daily struggles as a teenager in a dystopian world. I haven’t looked back since.

Quick Round (one or two word answers)
1. Cats or dogs? Cats
2. Coffee or tea? Tea
3. Movies or books? Books
4. (In a man)Brains or brawn? Both??
5. The Louvre or Disneyland? Both!!!!
6. Beach or Skiing? A snow covered beach
7. Art or History? Art
8. City or Country? Country

Do you have any advice for new or other writers? To write as much as possible and don’t be afraid of feedback. To take what you need from your life as inspiration and forget the ‘write what you know’ motto – use your imagination. To know when to say no (I’m talking about all those publications that ask for submission fees and/or publishing your work for free). And find writer friends – because they know how hard it is, they can support you when it all goes south, and good feedback is the most precious thing in the world.

Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Good luck  I strongly believe it exists in Art. And we all need the stars to line up to get published.

Thank You Anne, for your time and answering all my interview questions today. It’s been a real pleasure getting to know you as a writer, a person, and the lady behind Livy Parker’s Journal. We look forward to reading exciting things about your future writing endeavors.

Rejection Letters


A second rejection under my belt made me want to turn and run. The first fleeting thoughts out of my brain were, ‘that makes two now-my writing sucks’.

Within five minutes of feeling this way, I did what I always do and have always done in my life, decide to approach it offensively instead of defensively. I found three other places to send this piece of writing to, and sent it out.

It took a little research to find places that might accept this piece since I had written it specifically for the Fem-Fangs submission. It’s a strange little story about a female vampire in the time of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. She is involved with Galahad and it doesn’t have a HEA ending, but I really liked the idea of this story.

Of course it helps that I’ve always had a fascination with Arthur and the knights of the round table since I was a kid and saw a movie called the ‘Sword and the Stone’.

I know rejection is part of the overall world of writing. But, it would feel so much better to hear ‘Yes, we’re taking your story’ and my heart would skip a beat. 🙂

Writeoncon Comments


My first experience with Writeoncon.com was enlightening to say the least. I didn’t have as much time to spend on the site as I would have liked but I had a chance to read some of the posts and some of the wip’s by various authors.

I read several wip’s, and found two that read were enjoyable, well written and although the ideas were’nt new or unusual, the authors created likeable characters and an interesting plot. They were both visually stimulating, the dialogue was believable, and the story moved foward, capturing the reader’s interest. I was impressed with both these pieces.

Today, I read some of the pieces that got the most ‘traffic’ and comments, and I must say that I wasn’t impressed with their style, poor grammar in some cases, and the stories didn’t grab me and pull me in. The comments on these were all positive, brushing off the grammar mistakes as part of the protagonist’s thinking or her dialogue, which after reading the story, made absolutely no sense.

I know every comment made is subjective and everything is a personal preferrence, but I see so much talent in our OWG writing group that far surpasses some of the work I read on Writeoncon, that I think our hard work, exchange of ideas, critiques, etc., all help to make our wip’s much tighter pieces of writing.

I think I was expecting some outstanding pieces on this site, but I am more impressed with the writing I read in the OWG group.

Of course, I didn’t have time to read them all, but I think I managed to read a good cross-section of works.

To my fellow OWG writers, hard work, support, critiquing, and exchange of thoughts helps us all become better writers. That, and the old adage write, write, write.

I’m glad to be part of a group that has some amazing talent, is very supportive, honest, interactive and works hard together to help each other become better at our craft. 🙂