How did you get into beta-reading and what skills does a beta-reader need?
I'm part of a critique group, which includes agented and unagented writers, and I've been a part of that for two years now. It's helped me hone my beta reading skills, as well as my skills in more thorough critiquing of writing. A good beta reader is someone who can look at the whole picture of a manuscript and figure out what is and isn't working on a grand scale and on a granular one. In other words, a good reader sees what the big picture is and what within the smaller pictures are contributing to it. They read with the ability to ask questions that need answers.
By the time you read Level 2, it had already been through one round of editing at my publisher. What were the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript at that point for you?
Strengths of Level 2 included the world building and the pacing, as well as the writing. The weaknesses -- and something you poked fun at me about repeatedly in my notes -- included the fact at times Felicia felt too cold and she felt very distant from the reader. In other words, I wanted more insight into what she was thinking and experiencing. I wanted her FEELINGS and THOUGHTS. I got them :D
Even though Level 2 doesn't really have a love triangle, readers still love to pick teams. Which team are you on?
Team Felicia. She's strong. She's smart (even if she doesn't always make good decisions). She's driven. What more can you want from a lead character?
Thanks Kelly! You can read more of Kelly's thoughts on LEVEL 2 on her blog.
www.heatheranastasiu.com or follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/h_anastasiu
In your opinion, what makes a good beta reader?
A good beta reader is someone who will dive in and really be able to see the core structure of the story. They can tell you if plot events don't have a good cause and effect cycle, if a character isn't emotionally making sense (and point out the areas that cause the confusion), and if the payoff at the climax feel like it was well earned or not (and what things could be changed to make sure that it does).
When I beta I also try to point out the positives of things that I love along the way too, because it's easy to only point out the problems, which I know from experience recieving edits, can just make you want to cry! It also depends on what kind of draft I'm reading. If I'm reading a very rough first draft, I approach it more like a broad edit-letter kind of thing, just pointing out big structural and character arc issues. If it's a more polished draft, then I do more line edits, actually getting into the text itself and making changes and suggestions. Most of the beta reading I've done has been a mix of both. Also, as a writer, I love beta readers who will give suggestions on how to fix problems instead of just pointing them out. Even if they aren't the solutions I end up going with, it helps loosen me up and give a place to start brainstorming from.
You read the first draft of Level 2. Be honest - how bad was it?
Lol, it wasn't bad at all! I remember being completely immersed in the story and just having questions about certain things and wanting them clarified.
Even though Level 2 doesn't really have a love triangle, readers still love to pick teams. Which team are you on? Team Neil or Team Julian and why?
I'm totally Team Julian all the way, maybe because, in spite of the flashbacks in Level Two, she's spending so much time with Julian, and he's got that dark mysterious bad-boy past thing going on :)
You're one of the few people to have read Level 3 already - what can readers look forward to?
Oh my gosh, so much AWESOMENESS! When I read it, I was like, um, there's not much to critique ,even as an early draft, it was SO good. There's so much action, the stakes are always high, and we get to see Felicia grow so much, both in her understanding of herself, and in her relationships with the people around her. What I love about your writing is that your characters always feel so lifelike, with all our human foibles, mistakes, and moments of triumph.
Thank you Heather! I can attest that Kelly and Heather (and all my beta-readers) were awesome and essential to the process. Each helped me with different aspects of the novel and I can't thank them enough.
TODAY'S LEVEL 2 LINKS
If you missed it yesterday, here's the recap of my US launch party at Watermark Books!
Check out this amazing Anatomy of a Level 2 Hive (cross section designed by an architect) over at Sophistikatied Reviews.
I'm in the Guardian talking about some of my favorite books dealing with memories and flashbacks.
The Forever Young Adult crew takes me Between Two Lockers and gets the lowdown on my teen self and LEVEL 2 in this hilarious interview.
On the last stop of the US leg of the LEVEL 2 blog tour, Novel Novice interviews Felicia's father Elliot.
Nicole Bonia invites me to be a part of her Out of Twenty interview series.
FUN FACT: I did include an obscure reference to another book blogger in LEVEL 2. Want to know who?
More new reviews from Allison at Good Books, Good Wine, The Book Cellar, Addicted2Novels, Young At Heart, The Perpetual Page Turner, and Cracking the Cover.
Thank you so much for reading, reviewing and spreading the word. You all are awesome!