Beta readers

The following files are Chapter I of the various works. Take a look and see if you’re interested. Hope you like them.  betabutton


I’ve included comments from other beta-readers, for context. Have fun. And thanks.

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Smitty Chapter 1


Oh wow! Yes. You do understand descriptive writing. My critique of your other story made me want to encourage you but now I think you deliberately wrote it in almost pure dialogue. The Call is well done. The dying man was hard to read, so real, but extremely well written. Made me shudder, as it should. Slipping from that construction accident to the old friends, rodeo backgrounds, possible meeting up, etc., was a great switch and needed after the shock of your opening. I don’t know where your story is going but I hope the surviving wife and children are not caught up in horrible dreams/visions of their loved one dying. Though if this is a dark story, you could go that way. Now the rodeo stuff. You held my interest though I wondered if an old rodeo man would have a bridle hanging on a wall, a bareback bronc saddle hanging on a hook in his garage, a neat stack of horseshoes from his favorite heeling horse, maybe kept after the horse died of old age. Add some items for the reader to ponder and then discover their meaning as the story opens up. After that powerful opening, your story does a lot of what you do well, dialogue. I would enjoy the read even more if I could breathe between speakers though. Let your man’s eyes look around his room as he listens to his old friend. Have his mind wander and fix on the horseshoe ash tray, the lampshade by his western leather chair with holes punched into it in the shape of running horses. Let him stare at the cowboy boots he wears to this day, even though his work is very different than rodeo. Is there hurt in the surviving wife because her husband’s best friend was gone for so many years? Do their children, knowing about their daddy’s rodeo life, hold the same grudges against his old friend? Are there secrets to come out later that can be hinted at in this first chapter. Was Jack secretly in love with Mel’s wife? So many questions make me want the next chapter and the next. Great story. I loved it. Just give me more emotion and body posture descriptions. One of the best was when Jack felt slapped, startled, and then his voice in reply came from somewhere deep but without force or feeling. I’d delete the wordwithin as unnecessary in that sentence. Deep describes it clearly. Then how about a body posture description after he is startled and before he answers? Let your reader enter his experience more fully by imitating his breath flow, his body being rigid, limp, framed by harsh light, etc. It seems to me that when Jack holds his breath, your reader will hold their own if you give them that. Thank you. Looking for more.

Nice to read your narrative style, which is very smooth, poetic. Of course, I am always pleased to read your dialogues, too. That’s why I keep coming back for more. Interesting characters, both tough and vulnerable. Good emotions to work with.  You are very good at exposing emotions without the unnecessary drama that other writers feel compelled to include. A few corrections inline, mostly mixed verb tenses. Otherwise, very clean copy.





Billy Chapter 1


First of all, I really loved the story.  In fact, I couldnt put it down.  I read all of it today.  I think you did a great job with Billy.  All of the kids I worked with were kids who had no adult figure who loved them and that is why they ended up in those treatment centers.  Its very plausible that Gran gave Billy the ability to hold love and kindness in his heart.

Overall I really liked this, and I’m definitely going to be watching out for the following chapters. In short, your syntax in non-dialogue sections is really well done. The sentences flow really nicely together and you do a great job of varying the structure to make things not feel super choppy and repetitive. That being said, you could work on making your dialogue just as varied and flowing as you have in the rest of the chapter. Everything seems cold and distant, even when he’s talking to Billy. This can be fixed by elaborating more or combining lines into longer paragraphs.

Dennis, this is a well-written chapter. I love your format. You did a great job in creating the beginning scene in the for what the MC was about to encounter. Good development of character; I loved how you sprinkled bits and pieces here and there about each one. No question, the story is very believable. Very good in displaying emotions all through the story as well. The conflict and tension was obvious as soon as the MC met with his father. There were no loose ends that left me with questions. There was only one place I’d look at again if I were you and that is the use of tags in one section – got a bit confused who was saying what. Overall this was good read, and a tear jerker.

I like this a lot. The interactions among the characters are believable, and you do a nice job of introducing them in a natural way. Overall, this has a quiet intensity that makes me want to read more. The weakest part, for me, is the opening scene. I don’t feel the urgency of the moment in the dialogue—it moves too slowly, without enough intensity, and since it is the opening it is critical to engage the reader immediately. The strongest part is the the interaction between the narrator and Billy. I think you capture the child well, and the narrator’s reaction feels right. The scenes with the narrator and Billy make me want to know more about them. I look forward to reading more.

Nice story, well told through the dialogue, which sound natural. You’ve tapped into the curiosity of a young child. I want, as a reader, to know why Billy is living with his grandpa. I’d also like to hear Billy ask his Uncle why he doesn’t move in, stay there all the time. It would be natural. Billy’s not too happy with his grandpa and obviously likes the uncle.There have big changes with his grandmother dying, so expecting more change would be where his mind might go. Overall, very well done. The voice even sounds more like an uncle’s than a father’s, very patient.

I like this story.  I felt it flowed well and I got a good feel for the characters. I do wonder why the little boy doesn’t talk about his mother and father. Maybe he could say something like gran left me just like my mother.  Will you leave too? The conversation went well for the most part.  I did have a problem with you identifying the characters in each line.  It isn’t necessary to do so. Once the reader knows who’s talking, let the conversation flow back and forth without telling who is talking. I also made a suggestion of how two sections could be switched. I hope I’ve offered some help. The child to me sounds a little younger than five, but that is probably because he hasn’t had anyone to spend much time with him. I get the feeling that his mother didn’t have time for him and his grandfather hasn’t a clue how to relate to him.



MarieAnne Chapter 1


I enjoyed reading Book I MarieAnne. I like the book is for baby boomers. The music is unique and superb. The main characters grew as the story progressed. MarieAnnes’ personality and appearance match her well. I got slightly lost at times in the dialogue. I would liked to have read more action words. Your plot points reach resolution, yet leave the reader in anticipation of further scenes…. As I stated, I enjoyed reading the book. I would like to be a beta-reader for Book II.

I was intrigued by your approach to the work. Using dialogue almost exclusively and writing in first person narrative is a challenging task. And for the most part, I think you carried it off well. Making the story about a 65-year old couple getting to know and love each other is unique. Embedding music appropriate to your target age group (of which I am a member, FYI), into the text is an intriguing device. Kudos. Did I like the book? Yes. Was it lit/fic and not romance? Yes. Do I think it’s good? Yes.

I just finished reading it.  Had to take a break since I had a houseful of company.  Characters are believable.  I like Steve.  Not so sure about MarieAnne.  Bit of stalker and too needy to me.  Maybe I am naive but I couldn’t get from her seeing him on OKCupid to locating him in person in New York.  I am interested enough to want to read the rest of it.  Do I get to do so?  Only one typo I noticed, unfortunately can’t tell you exact page.  Somewhere between page 50 and 90 was “her” instead of “she” or vice versa.

Fascinating story. You have a distinctive way of not only writing but of keeping your reader attached. This one is a little spooky. Not sure I trust the woman. She’s a little creepy, mentally. But you’ve done a good job. I like your style. I think MaryAnn (MarieAnne) sounds a bit too ambivalent. The MC appears to go along with this because he’s enthralled with her beauty. Makes me wonder if she were less beautiful if he would feel so drawn in. So willing to take the chance.But I’m not saying that you should change MaryAnn. She makes the story intriguing, readers wanting to know what she’s capable of doing, how the MC will deal with her whatever happens next. If the roles were reversed, I don’t think a female MC would go along with such a vague plan of a stranger. So reading it as a female, I want to shout….no….get away from her….don’t go there. From a man’s perspective, I say….yes, jump right on in. Could be some hidden gem, here.

I think you have an excellent power struggle here. I think the story would benefit from fleshing out the characters, making them more believable. Also making the dialogue more natural and less functional. Lots of potential here, good story milage.

I finished reading the first part of MarieAnne.  Again, as in Ezra, you’ve demonstrated your ability to capture personalities through almost pure dialogue.  The only internal monologue the main character engages in are snippets of observations, many of which merely reinforce what’s already implicit in the dialogue.  As others here on Scribophile have said, your path may well be as a screenwriter.  You certainly seem to have the knack for it. Perhaps what you’re trying to do is explore different kinds of relationships.  Hence we have the eros between Steve and MarieAnne, the friendship between them and Bill/Maggie, and the parental relationship between them and Silvia.  The problem is that this kind of exploration, without a central driving story, doesn’t result in a well structured novel.  It can be interesting in itself, and each exploration by itself can serve as a standalone story, but bring them together into one story and the reader begins to wonder how this all relates to the central story, or even what the central story is.

Roccinate Cover


Roccinate Chapter 1





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