We wanted to take a moment to send some love to all of the betas out there – some are mentioned in these letters and some are not, but we are grateful for (and in awe of) all of you. Many of you are the unsung heroes of fic, working tirelessly behind the scenes. You get blamed for things that might not be your fault (and sometimes quite publicly) and rarely get the recognition from readers that you deserve. When betaing is done right, it’s seamless and barely noticeable. You walk the tightrope of being supportive while being critical so that the story can be the best it can be. It’s a tough role sometimes and you handle it with grace and class (and good grammar) and it’s all done in service of the stories we get to read.
Thank you all for that.
SueBee Beta Fairy Thundercocks Ho
Ten million people reading fanfiction. Ten reviewers who showed potential for future beta work. Ten private messages sent back and forth between us before I sent through a chapter. Ten fingernails bitten clean down to nothing waiting for a response. Ten days before we exchanged numbers, and I let that sucker ring ten times before I worked up the courage to actually answer the phone.
Nine weeks spent crafting the end to a story together. Nine weeks of hand holding. Nine weeks of soothing commentary and ‘you can do this.’ Nine weeks before she got down to the business of asking me exactly where I lived.
There are 18 hours of driving time between us. 1,100 miles, give or take. A bunch of red-rock desert, some mountains, and what seems like a billion miles of flat, boring prairie. Some days, it feels like we live on opposite sides of the universe, other days we’re so close it hurts. Our trio of visits every year are never long enough, precious moments we rarely squander on ‘work,’ even though we always have the best of intentions.
The number of bottles of champagne the two of us have drained together.
The average number of times she nicely explains to me why a two hundred word sentence wont fly before she just starts highlighting them and using foul language on me.
Five full length stories. Eight one shots. Three contest entries. One monster original manuscript. Hundreds of thousands of words passed back and forth between us. Millions of comments, billions of “add a comma here,’ or ‘maybe you should think about this,’ and ‘here is another goddamn run on sentence, deal with it.’
The first text I sent when that end-all-be-all pregnancy test came up positive. The first call I made when we found out he was a boy. The first picture I sent when that kid made his appearance. Thousands of tearful phone calls stuck in my bed with a sloppy newborn and a bad case of the sads. Hundreds of hours of advice and encouragement and love. Millions of hours on speaker phone, her voice embedded in soft, squishy baby brain.
The number of times I rewrote this because, I didn’t have a beta to look it over.
Two hours. The average length of a phone conversation between us. Often while hiding from our families in closets or garages or backyards. Always plotting bunnies, debating minor details, arguing over those damn run on sentences.
There is only one Hadley Hemingway. Often emulated, but never matched. She is sweet and silly and thoughtful. Pragmatic and smart and sometimes totally weird, but always, always completely lovely. Call her my stroke of luck. Call her my shining star. Call her my soul sister, my bestie, my beta, my one true love. Call her whatever you want, but I call her darling.
The first time we worked together seems like forever ago. There was this hot little country contest going on, and you worked some serious magic on my entry. We’d been friends for a while before that, but I had no idea how serious business you were until you sent me a message to tell me you were checking and double checking the word I’d chosen to use for Edward’s truck: dually.
Thanks to you, we used it correctly.
My respect for you has continued to grow the same way our friendship has. You work so hard for so many of us. It’s like a full-time job – you do multiple edits to make our word docs beautiful and readable. You have the patience of a saint, I swear. I make the same mistakes, over and over, and you never complain or laugh at me.
Every time I’ve needed hand-holding, you’ve been right there. A quiet, but persistent, cheering section. I don’t know how to thank you enough for the help you’ve given me. You’ve been a shoulder to cry on more than once, as a beta and as a friend. I’ll love you always for that.
Dear Edward's Eternal,
I'm not sure where to start.
Do I begin with your amazing abilities as a beta? Your keen editor's eye and fantastic ear for dialogue? The patience you show as I go endlessly back and forth on plot ideas?
Or should I start with your incredible warmth and friendliness, your kindness and compassion, and your wicked, wicked sense of humour?
Do I mention the mangoes?
I can't believe it's five years since your message arrived, out-of-the-blue, in my inbox, complimenting my writing and shyly offering your services as beta, should I ever need one.
I did need one. I was halfway through my second un-beta'd fic and the warmth that came through in your message had me jumping at the chance to work with you.
Since then, you've beta'd four of my stories.
And you've become my friend.
Doesn't matter that we live in opposite hemispheres and different time zones.
We've shared a lot of laughs, some great achievements, crazy ideas and home renovations, as well as a few real-life ups-and-downs. That's what a real friendship is.
You've also fixed my semi-colons, Americanised my language (turns out "pot plant" means something very different in America than it does in Australia), made gentle suggestions and offered honest opinions, and helped me tweak and polish my words. But while I've been beyond lucky to have you as my beta, it's been beyond exciting for me to see your own writing career take off, which isn't surprising given your gift for storytelling, your way with words and talent for dialogue. I have to say, I feel pretty damn chuffed that I can say Melanie Moreland, author of 23 fics and three published novels, is my beta.
I'm even more chuffed that I can call you my friend.
So thank you Melanie, thank you very much, for everything. Here, have a mango...
Love, Sue (Windchymes)xx
Dear Carrie ZM,
*Turns on Wind Beneath My Wings and sways slowly, all the while making uncomfortable eye contact with you*
Are you ready for me to get weird on you? Good. Because that’s kinda our thing.
The word just isn’t big enough for all that you are or all that you do. Sure, it’s enough to encompass the general gist of the job. Reading with a critical eye and making sure that I’m using proper punctuation and appropriate word choices. You know the whole day-to-day-make-Lay-sound-literate thing you do so well. This in and of itself is an amazing feat – you’re pretty much equal parts a Grammar Goddess/goddamn magician to pull this off. I tip my hat to you.
But it’s more than that, Care – you’re so much more than that. And while I’m grateful for all of the above, my appreciation for you as a beta goes far beyond grammar.
It’s the time you spend nurturing plot bunnies until they become story lines. It’s the morning phone calls where we go ‘round and ‘round, folding laundry and fleshing out the plot. It’s the random texts or messages with picspiration or some funny little quip that came to you. It’s the hours you spend with my characters and words. Hours you could’ve spent with your hubs or your little ones… or even pinning stuff on Pinterest (you know I don’t believe in it). Instead, you’re happy to sit with your laptop, poring over the words, reading them… out loud. I admit it – I giggle whenever I send you a lemon, knowing you’re going to be sitting there all pink-cheeked, stumbling over the dirty words and peeking over your shoulder, hoping your husband doesn’t hear you.
In addition to the time, I’m grateful for your enthusiasm. I love that whenever we take on a new story, you’re all in. Legit – your excitement is palpable and it’s a fantastic feeling to know that someone is just as dedicated to making the story the best it can be. I love that you always keep it completely 100 with me when you let me know what works, what doesn’t and even sometimes ‘what are you thinking?’ I adore your honesty and I feel like we know each other so well that I can tell what you’re about to say depending on how you begin your comment. A few of my faves are: ‘ummm,’ ‘nope,’ ‘THIS,’ and ‘gurrrrrlll.’
Writing with you is like going to a great party – we laugh, we get loud, we get weird and once we’re done I feel like I have a hangover for days… and not a single regret.
I love you and I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know, Care. You’re the Jay to my Ye.
The Salt to my Pep. The Hall to my Oates.
In short, you’re simply the best and I thank you for all that you do, pal!
Dear Midnight Cougar,
I can’t believe I’ve been writing for almost five years already. Luckily, I ran into you about four years ago and haven’t looked back. You, my wonderful friend, have been a blessing. You’ve taught me more grammar than my English teacher ever could. To be fair, though, I went to a French high school and never did learn true English grammar.
But I digress.
You’ve stuck with me through some good and bad, and now you’re even there for me as I try my hand at publishing. I couldn’t ask for a better friend, and the fact that you’re a fellow Maritimer makes me smile everytime I think of it. You get me and my Canadian humour. Something that’s a definite plus when working on edits together.
Anyway, I’m thrilled these ladies at TLS have given me this platform in which to express my love and appreciation. Without you, my words would be crap.
Melissa (aka CullensTwiMistress)
"You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke." Arthur Plotnik
EdwardsFirstKiss became my beta in 2012 for my very first fanfiction, How to Date a Movie Star. She remained on with the series along with an incredible team of women. Ellachanted, Tinsley Warren, Content1 and Agrutle.
EdwardsFirstKiss continued to assist me through the next two fics along with my published works.
Words truly cannot express the appreciation and respect I have for her honesty, while pulling the best out of me. She has a heart of gold, and a red pen that bleeds love all over my words.
Thank you not only for giving me your valuable time and wisdom. But, also for your friendship. That is something I cherish most of all.
I love you.
My sincerest gratitude,
Z.N. Willett (Redtini)