When I think about how hard a Beta works to help an author make a story possible, it's impossible not to feel an extraordinary amount of love and gratitude. Trying to work up the confidence to compose and post a story can be stressful enough, so a strong bond with a trusted partner is truly significant in a creative journey becoming a reality for any author. We worry about the reception of our ideas, how we will tell the story, and if the reader will touched in some way by our effort. Having a credible confidant in your corner, as they correct your mistakes and guide you, makes all of the difference in that journey, and I've had the exceptional pleasure of working with two talented women over the years – Jennifer Locklear and CarrieZM.
In my opinion, I could not have asked for better Betas, and friends.
Many years ago, when I first started feeling the itch to write fanfiction, Jennifer Locklear (previously AquariumJenn/RandomCran) offered to Beta my first attempts at story-telling, bravely tackling my wordiness and striking away my overly-used punctuation and wayward schemes with her red pen. She was and remains one of my biggest supporters in my attempts a creativity. But when Jennifer was preparing to release her first novel through Omnific Publishing (Exposure, Co-written with her husband Morgan Locklear), I'd been asked to participate in a then “secret” fandom compilation of writers called The Sinners, and because secrecy of the authors was important to hiding the identity of the participating authors at that time, and because Jenn was involved in making edits to her novel, CarrieZM graciously offered to help me with my Sinner's entry. It formed a friendship and a trusted-partnernisip that I continue to treasure to this day.
Both Jenn and Carrie share their talents in a steady and creatively nurturing way, never fearful of voicing their true feelings when it comes to creating a consistent plot and improving upon the bones of a story. They've both helped make me a better story-teller, pushing me in ways that were both difficult, yet rewarding. I trust their skills, their reliability, and their opinions when it comes to breaking a story idea apart or starting over from scratch. Their dedication to helping me become better, a gift of their time and own creative energy freely given, is a truly priceless contribution. Knowing the reward of working with these dedicated hard-workers leads me to this simple fact...I have been blessed to have worked with two of the most talented and nurturing Betas in the Twilight Fandom.
Dearest Jenn and Carrie, I love you, and I thank you for all you have done for not only me, but so many authors you help guide along the way!
The comma is not my friend.
I realize that it has important grammatical uses, but for the life of me I like to randomly stick it in unneeded places or just forget about it because I can. It really is amazing I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree.
Don’t even get me started on my hatred of the semi-colon.
People like me need betas. We need that guidance to know where to stick in a question mark or to stay in the present instead of slipping into the past in the same damn sentence. We are hot messes without betas and I can guide you to many stories that I personally have written that are terrifying, not because they’re horror, but due to the grammar mistakes that can be found throughout.
It takes a brave and kind soul to read my stories and try to fix the wreckage I left behind in those Word documents. It takes a saint and one of the nicest women I have ever had the honor to meet. That amazing woman is Sally Hopkinson aka Alice’s White Rabbit.
There’s more to being a beta, then just fixing the spelling mistakes that spell check misses. Authors are a needy breed. I mean that in the kindest way. We are prone to self-doubt, have low self-esteems, and have an eager need for accolades. Authors are like toddlers. We desire hand holding and constant approval, yet still need gentle guidance that makes our stories worth reading. Sally helps me grow and become the writer that I want to be one day. She makes me better. She even likes my messy words when I post things without her looking at them first. (I have too many WIP’s. I probably need an intervention.)
In this wild and crazy fanfiction world, Sally is the one of the shining lights of calm and goodness. I have only seen her be positive about all of our stories. She protects me from reading bad guest reviews and, I bet, she would do it for all my fellow writers too if she could. If there is a protector of authors in this fandom, then it would be Sally. Our words are precious to her and I believe so are all of us.
Sally is an adventurous reader. She follows our tales onto worlds that can be romantic, terrifying, and even goofy. The stories she betas are fun for her to read and in her edits I can see the joy she has in discovering what is going to happen next in the story. It’s not a job to her. It’s not a way to find fame in this fandom. (Though she deserves to have her name heralded for being one of the best.)
The most important thing to know about Sally is that she is an amazing friend. I trust her judgment and she makes me smile with the lovely things that she does like sending me a voodoo doll to use as stress release. This is a woman who cares deeply for the people around her and lets them feel her support.
These words are heartfelt, because they are about Sally. They are also a mess, because she didn’t beta them first.
Your friend and Sally’s biggest fan,
My Dearest Iris;
I needs to tell you what you do for me, but first I’ll set the scene:
I started posting.
Just like that. I just started and there was no one looking over what I wrote for a little while.
And it showed.
Man did it show.
A kindly guest review suggested I get a beta. People were starting to notice my work and they were right. I needed some eyes that weren’t mine. So I put it out there in an author's note. Nic said she might be able to help and asked you to take a look at my work and see if it was something you were willing to take on.
I was a nervous mess. I knew Nic was sending me to The Best. I had no expectations that you’d take me on. But you started reading. And you started sending me shouty cap notes.
And you took me on.
I had no idea what I was getting into. You don't just check my grammar and spelling - OMG my spelling! (starring or staring? Remember that chapter Iris?) You make me a better writer. You’re the one who helped me put contractions into my conversations, (seriously guys, go back and read some early Goodbye Peter Pan dialogue. So many formal people with formal things to say).
These are things you do that are your job as my beta.
But I didn’t just get a beta. I ended up with the fierce, driven, tour-de-force of a woman.
You work mad long hours, just to get my chapters back to me. You go through the thing three times. Every time. And if I want to make a change you do that again. You run the Twi Fic Fandom Awards. By yourself! And we can’t even nominate you. You promote my work. Before I’m finished posting, you’re tweeting my chapter is up - with the link!
You're all these things. But you're so much more. You're a friend first.
You take care of me when I have panic attacks about posting. And in the early days, that was every. single. time. You help me when I am struggling. And lately that’s every. single. day. You check in to make sure I’m okay. You are my New York City missed connection. And I love you; even if you don't get my love for the Rangers and do not believe in the God among men that is Henrik Lundqvist (even though he is the King of your city).
And every single mistake in this is my secret love letter to you. Because I know you're going to go through this and hate all the lovely things that make you squirm and find comfort in everything I’ve done wrong. And Iris. There isn’t a single fucking double space in this. That’s how much I love you.
With all my fanfic heart,
My dearest Midnight Cougar,
I still remember the day I was on Facebook, I saw your green light on, and I summoned the courage to send you a PM. I only wanted to thank you for your kind reviews and say hello. New to the fan fiction world, I still had no idea really of what I was doing. I had written a small story and had an idea for another one, but I needed a beta—someone who could smooth out the rough edges, add the right commas (since I always seem to put them in the wrong place) and listen to me vent on occasion when ideas wouldn’t mesh.
By the end of our hour long chat I knew I’d found that person. We clicked right away, and when I started telling you about my idea, we were off—and we’ve never looked back. Twenty plus completed stories on fan fiction, two books, and countless hours of chatting, phone calls, documents going back and forth, a great deal of cursing, and so much laughter has occurred since then.
I won’t even mention the amount of red ink that has been spilt.
You correct my non-ending errors patiently (usually). You laugh at my constant misuse of the word lay. You add and change words to make the story better. You drop in comments that make me laugh, notes that make me grimace, and send me the most awesome pictures as inspiration. I love your enthusiasm when I share a new plot bunny that has taken hold and the way you refuse to let me do anything less than my all. I adore the fact that when I suddenly come up with a plot bunny I cannot stop, you simply shake your head and tell me to shut up and write it. Your praise is not given lightly, so it means so much when you give it—and my heart smiles.
But the best thing of all, is the friendship we have shared. Four years of getting to know each other, one wonderful face to face weekend. We have shared our lives with each other—the good and bad, and have always been there for encouragement and support. The love and kinship we felt with our mutual love of Edward and Bella has transformed to a bond of friendship that will stand the test of time.
You, MC, are so much more than my beta. You are my dear friend. I love being your “baby girl” especially given I am older than you are! You are talented, funny, strong and amazing. Your love for your family makes you so special and I am honored to be a small part of your life.
Your grammar skills and editing are second to none, and I am thrilled when you agree to work on any project with me— either in the ff world or the outside one. Although we don’t live in the same city and our world is connected via computer screen, I’m as close to you as if you were right next door.
Thank you for being my beta. For your time and effort that goes mostly unrewarded, except for my thanks and the occasional case of coffee pods that arrive at your door. Thank you for never yelling (for too long anyway).
Thank you for your support and the way you defend me. For your suggestions and corrections from that red pen you wield so well. And, yes, I know you are looking this over with an arched brow, wishing I had let you read it first!
But above all else, thank you for being you.
Because you are the most wonderful thing of all.
I love you!
EE (Edward's Eternal)
When I first starting writing fanfic, I think my first story had like 7 readers and I was thrilled. Second story had 35 and I was sure I was pretty hot stuff. Slowly but surely more readers found my stuff (which was never ever beta’d) One reader began to stand out as someone who consistently read my stuff and reviewed. She was so nice and always added a little guess as to what she thought was going to happen next, and a lot of times, she was right! I was getting ready to begin posting Fridays at Noon and decided I should get some feedback from someone. I mean, all these other writers had ten people to thank at the end of every chapter and I had no one. I needed a friend. So I went to that one reader, the one who had momof4 in her name, meaning she was someone just like me - a mom with a love for Twilight. She luckily said YES and the rest is history.
Momof4luvntwisaga became my beta, who never complained that I wanted to stick to my once a week posting schedule, even if that meant she had to read a chapter late at night on a Thursday, who freaked out with me when the story blew up and became so huge neither one of us knew what to do, who came with me to the Facebook world and tried to make sense of all these readers who were in love with Pennyward. She was encouraging and incredibly insightful. I could not have done it without her.
Momof4 was my very first fanfic friend and I will forever be grateful. We have met in person a few times, shared laughs, watched each other’s kids grow via Facebook, and remained friends all these years later. I am so glad I sent that email asking her to join me in this story I was going to write about a Bella who works in a restaurant and has to deal with this Edward who was a pain in the ass, egotistical CEO who has a thing for saying, “If I had a nickel …” Oh, he had some nickels. Thank you, Momof4/Jannice/friend!! You are the very best a girl could ask for!