Tag Archives: beta readers

The Best Place Ever to be with your Spouse – Take the Marriage Trip

couple on beach sunset marriageIn the middle of blasé, I’m slapped awake by love. It happens while looking at my husband, Sandy. With 25 years of marriage in our pocket, it’s against the odds. Why does he still tweak my heart strings? We do have that “magic” going on, but that’s not what I’m talking about. This is different. It’s as if all my senses have the gift of sight. I see with my heart, soul, mind. Like seeing him through a pair of divine glasses. About now, he asks….

“What? Why are you staring at me?”

Vision blurred, I dismiss his question moving on with the mundane day, grateful.

I love those sloppy, in your face moments of love. Like:

  • Catching him knelt by a child, giggling.
  • When he smiles through a backache because his hard work and talents blessed others.
  • Watching him in prayer, worship or meditation.

Or recently, when he lifted my suitcase, into the car, placed his arms around my shoulders, and kissed me softly. After confessing he’ll miss me even if I’ll be away only one night, he hands me a bag with apples and almonds for the road, and says— marriage

            “I want to pray for you.”

Golden moments to savor. The times you think it just doesn’t get any better. Yet, it does There is something even more incredible…marriage

It’s a place. A destination.  I can’t say how long it takes to get there, but I guarantee, it’s 5+star and worth whatever the cost. We chose the long route. The wide highway with multiple lanes, all mysteriously located on the edge of a cliff. I don’t recommend this well-traveled road, as it is in perpetual rush hour. It zigs. It zags. And, it takes a spiritual enema to blast you out. At least that’s how we got through the bowels. marriage

When the portal leading to the “place” opens, it’s glorious. To enter you must be alone, and together, at the same time. And, mysterious as it sounds, you never arrive. Enough riddles. I’m talking about standing before God together. It’s the best place a couple can be. There we are independent of each other, yet interdependent with our Father. marriage

We are one in quiet… one in prayer… one in awe and praise… one in gratitude. If I named this place it might be Clarity… or Peace or simply, Good. Here is where I know who I am, who Sandy is, and most important who God is. It’s a place packed with power, wonder… magnificence.             marriagemathew19 marriage scripture

We often visit this place alone, which somehow brings us closer together, enriching our relationship beyond any other cure. But when we stand before Him as a couple, bothersome worries and gargantuan challenges flee. Just like shining the light on a nest of roaches. Nothing is too big, complicated or irreparable. You might enter empty and discontent, but you’ll leave full and satisfied. A guaranteed occurrence.

I wish we’d taken the short cut. It’s not like we didn’t see the signs, have a map or hear the Guide offering help. I recommend the fast train to this destination. Why not skip the detours we suffered? I don’t plan on getting lost again. I keep the coordinates for His presence close to my heart.

Coming soon: Check out a sample chapter of our book – “In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving God.”

New Christian Author Preview Chapter: In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving God

 

 

BETA Readers – The Heart Behind Our Book

target reader3Every morning I sip hot black coffee, telling stories to an invisible friend. We share a few tears, a giggle or two and a wink when we know a surprise is coming in the next chapter. My friend is quiet, interrupting only to ask an apropos question like “what did that feel like?” I know this friend like my own heart and blood, yet I could not pick them out of a crowd or recognize their face in a photograph.

I’m talking about my target reader. The person I imagine curling up with my book upon its completion. The person God places in my heart and mind, all day, all night. The person this story will speak to, minister and bring healing to. Who are you? Did I stand next to you selecting eggs at Safeway today? Pass you on the street? Are you the telemarketer, I hung up on?

Last week my husband and I met with our BETA Readers to share a meal, express gratitude and listen.  I felt awkwardly delighted that the book was the center of attention. I’d planned on discussing other topics during dinner, the polite thing to do. In my defense for  breaking Emily Post’s etiquette basics, this group has little common ground to share. After all, they were selected to test the reading waters based on gender, age and interest variables, not similarities. Besides, detouring the subject from the book would have been like asking a heroin addict to focus on world events while holding a loaded syringe.

Earlier that morning, I read the words I believe all writers long to hear, “I couldn’t stop reading it… I have to know what happens next.” Yes! Yes! Yes!. The best words ever, written by a newbie BETA Reader enlisted to fill an untested demographic slot. I didn’t think it could get better than that, but it did. After dinner the discussion turned to target readers, I lapped up their thoughts like a starving cat.

 I listened to my BETA Readers talk amongst themselves, and like a negative clearing in the chemical wash, the face, heart, mind and soul of my reader appeared. Seeing my invisible friend who sits by my side every morning come to life through my BETA readers refueled my inspiration tank. I highly recommend using a test group such as mine. If you’ve researched this system, you already know I ignored a rather important rule – wait until the book is complete before letting them read it… oops. I knew that,  but chose to ignore it, desperate for encouragement as the book progresses. They’ve been pushing me forward all along and I’m grateful for their willingness to stay the course.

The insights they shared are invaluable. I learned the book’s target is genderless and could appeal to young adults through seniordom. It’s a story the reader will want to share with others. It’s for those who like humor, romance and intrigue. For those who love God and those who don’t know him yet. For readers who are an alcoholic, love an alcoholic or want to learn more about the struggles of addiction. The story has something for singles and married folks as well.

Those are the bones of many potential readers. When the subject switched to whom this story will minister to, I could see the person sitting next to me every morning. Please understand, I am thrilled anyone will enjoy reading the book, but the ache in my heart, placed by God, is for someone specific… some genderless person intimately pursued… invited to experience the Grace our Father awaits to shower upon them.

This person, is hurting, desperate, searching for help in all the wrong places. They have banged on doors of self-help, destruction, human failure and quick fixes, none of which helped, and they are facing the last house on the block. They secretly want God in their life, but believe He wants nothing to do with them until they change. It’s not that they are not willing to change, they believe they are not capable, and they are right. What they don’t know is that Grace is waiting… beckoning… wanting only a willingness to accept it.

That’s who I share my story for. My story of a clueless couple whom God loved back to life. I want this for my reader, the person God has placed on my heart to care for, to love, to disciple through the story of my journey.  I want this reader to know if God could love me as I was, and as I am today, both options a messy person, then He certainly loves them!

I’m grateful for the love God gifted to my heart for my most special reader.

Psst… curious about our book? Click the link below to read a sample chapter. In Spite of Us - Chapter Previewhttps://debpalmerauthor.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/christian-author-preview-chapter-in-spite-of-us-stalked-by-a-loving-god/

Would You Trust Your BETA Readers to Pack Your Parachute?

parachute2

This week I selected my BETA readers, delivering the first chapter of our book, “In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving God.” It feels like I ripped my heart out, placed it on a platter and gave it to a team of television soap opera surgeons. Now, I wait trusting them to keep it beating.

          Selecting my readers was tough. They’re friends I trust to pack my parachute, defend my honor and point out food stuck between teeth. But I just handed them my writing, as nonchalant as a basket of baked goods. What if it’s one of those bad fruit cakes we pretend to like but secretly wonder why someone bothered to bake it?

After reading volumes on choosing BETA readers, I gleaned and personalized three essentials.

  1. They must know me well enough to tell the truth, dodge the verbal rock tossing and believe me when I tell them I want honesty. They cannot be wimps, easily intimated by short bouts of crying, cursing or whining.
  2. They cannot be Teacher Wannabes. You know the ones like those kids you played school with? The bossy Hitler types insisting they be the teacher. This reader would demand a flogging for using a dangling participle because they like saying the word “participle.” And kind words or encouragement would be nonplussed.
  3. They must be people whose yes means yes and no means no. People willing to commit with no hope of a reward beyond a sincere thank you and a hug.

After an excruciating process sparring between trust and distrust, I came up with four + one BETA readers. Here’s the rundown of who made the list and why:

Ray Wockner:ray

A salty, “tell it like it is” guy with a big heart. A great choice. Ray’s one of those remarkable people with experience on both sides of the fence. He’s suffered, made stupid choices, fought losing battles. When friends had nearly given up on him, he flipped over in his self-dug grave surprising us all, resurrecting new-found humility and strength along with the uncanny ability to keep on loving people… even though. He’s a long term friend of both my husband and myself. Most importantly, Ray knows… who we used to be… how different we are today… and WHO helped us.

 

Jackie Archibald:jackie

 

A lovely woman of great faith. The most determined woman I know. I’ve watched this lady persevere through unimaginable circumstances. Jackie’s that special type of friend who won’t let you give up. She cares. She prays. She asks the tough questions. Jackie feeds me hope, reminding me that God is behind my work, pushing me forward.

Ande Hising:

ande

Analytical, intellectual, thorough… a woman who won’t settle for mediocrity, not for herself… not for others. My history with Ande is intense. We don’t always agree, but after a volatile reaction (mine) we find ourselves standing side by side on an island of mutual respect. She is a hard choice for me because… well… she won’t make it easy. That’s good and bad. She passionately believes God’s blessed me with a gift to write. How awesome is that? The problem is Ande’s passion means there’s work to be done. She’ll show up at my door with 75 books I need to read, a list of 700 people I should contact and before she leaves give me some personal advice. I’m fortunate to have her on this list. She’s an avid reader, hyper-intelligent and a good friend.

Evan Garfein:evan

A solid, stable, bright and Godly young man. Our 16-year-old grandson. I’ve asked this special young man for his input for extremely personal reasons. Our book is not of interest to teens. It’s not an adventurous, action-packed tale of senior citizen zombies. It’s the truth about his grandparents… no polish, nothing omitted. All the stuff we’d rather he didn’t know… but knowing it proves God’s grace and power. We need Evan’s wise heart to witness the miraculous restoration God performed on his not so admirable grandparents.

Natalie Phillips: (the plus one)

natalie2

I refer to Natalie as “plus one” because she’s more than a BETA reader. This delightful, fun-loving, super resourceful friend plopped into my life “ka-plunk” like an angel from heaven. God’s timing is perfect along with his choice of helper. Who else would selflessly give of her skills to edit for an unknown struggling confidence lacking writer? Who does that kind of stuff? Her friendship is invaluable. Together we’re learning how to trust, be vulnerable, share our love for God, respect differing doctrines, and most importantly, let our hair down and have fun. She’s much more than my comma Nazi. She’s a sweet spirited, Catholic raised woman, reading about our messy past tales, celebrating God’s power to change hearts. Her opinion holds a place of honor.

That’s the lineup. My BETA readers for my first book. My pit crew… my friends.