Thursday, February 27, 2014

Looking for "Beta readers"


As I was completing HOW I GREW UP, the idea grew to revisit and explore the relationship between Krissy and Eli, two of the characters in the book whose youthful romance was ended abruptly by a mistake Krissy made and the interference of Eli’s family.

When they are in college, Eli learns of his family’s actions three years earlier, and he manages to contact Krissy. They are both college sophomores but are some six hundred miles apart. Eli was born with a congenital heart defect, Tetralogy of Fallot, and a prodigious musical talent. Many challenges for any young person to deal with.

My challenge was to find a cardiologist who would be willing to research the heart defect and how it was treated all those decades ago, and make sure what I wrote about Eli’s condition and treatment were accurate. Networking is pretty amazing; I was fortunate enough to find such a person who seemed intrigued with what I was doing. Theater is a wonderful thing! My connection was made through a former ESHS South student who had been active in our musical theater program. He is currently working in medical research in Boston, and he “introduced” me to a colleague who was willing to be my consultant.

I did as much research as I could online. Advances in medicine over the past half century have been impressive and amazing, but it was difficult to ascertain how Eli’s condition might have been treated all those years ago. I did as much reading as I could, including reading parts of Vivien Thomas’ book “Partners in the Heart.” Thomas was a remarkable man who assisted Drs. Alfred Blalock and Helen Taussig with their pioneering work in treating patients of T.O.F. in the mid-nineteen forties. Tetralogy of Fallot is a complex disorder (it took me a long time to understand it, and eventually to try and explain it to Krissy and ultimately the reader). For a long time, patients inevitably suffered great discomfort and early death. The Black-Taussig procedure gave them added years and definitely a more normal life.

The HBO film “Something the Lord Made” was definitely an influence in prompting me to write this story. I highly recommend it; excellent performances and extremely well written.

I’ve had a great deal of help from three kind people who have read as I’ve been writing and re-writing and re-re-re-writing. One of these Alpha readers has been kind enough to proofread the book carefully and catch many errors, and has made some very valuable suggestions. She is almost finished with this, and now I need “Beta readers” … people who are willing to read the book before I consider attempting to publish it. I need to know if the book flows, if the characters are believable, if the book holds the reader’s interest. Since both of my characters are passionate musicians, there are some rather detailed passages about certain pieces of music. Are these helpful to the reader? Too much? Too little?

If anyone reading this blog is willing to be a Beta reader for ELI’S HEART, please let me know! You can comment on this blog or PM me on Facebook, or email me at You should be aware this book is considerably longer than HOW I GREW UP. I'd like to have critiques within a month if at all possible, so I am asking for a time commitment.

I'll be very grateful if I can find two or three people who are willing to do this!