Drunk Again


I'm drunk on love

In autumn's dawn

Soaked with pastel skies

Seduced by ground fog

Gray snakes find rivers

Water rejoins water again

Subtle miracles loop in time

Hushed visions beget peace

Bigleaf maple giants reach

To pastel dawn shades

Forging yet another ring

More wood before sleep

Then rapt in winter’s chill

They exhale patience

Whispered promises of

Gray geese flying home

Above a festival of green

I'm drunk again with love

I've Been Pregnant

Tin Hau  before her name change, just before we acquired her.

Tin Hau before her name change, just before we acquired her.

I've “been pregnant" for the last nine months. Of course that's out of the ordinary for a man. No, I don't have some special physiology. But the metaphor isn't far off the mark to compare "birthing" a first novel-length work to what a woman might go through to reach a blessed event. There are long gestation and then a final agony of release that fulfill one's power to create life. Leading up to that event comes the long, slow march of ideas that starts with a climax of insight, and builds ever so slowly to another, and then another. Moments of new vision are some of our sweetest pleasures.

A baby starts as a few cells and gradually repeats all the stages of human evolution as it develops into that eventual sheaf of beauty and promise of a bright future, a new baby. Gestation lasts nine months, give or take, and that's how long it took to grow this book. Those weeks of toil were powered by sheer joy and pain recalled from my happiest years, the middle of my life.

Like many writers who may be new to fiction, I began with short stories, those sprints that prepare and strengthen a writer for the marathon. One day, three of my stories aligned like distant, luminous bodies on the horizon. They clustered to suggest one entity. On close inspection, they had gaps between them and like so many events in writers' lives, they pointed the way through to new work that a lizard-brain was trying to suggest, a new entity.

"What this needs," I realized, "is more narrative to close the gaps and flesh out this story into something whole and viable that can survive, and stand alone, strong and beautiful.”

Then came more months of revision, finding issues, fixing them, adding, subtracting; until that moment when the whole being emerged, complete. It drew its first breath and screamed out to my world "I live!" And it was not merely a tiny, squirming product of my intents. It was separate, powerful, a goddess. A Sea Goddess born of three parents; my wife, myself, and that trackless, watery wilderness full of life, that blood of our planet that we call the sea. Suddenly, breaking water astonished me. I had actually written a novel, forty-four thousand words in twelve chapters.

Sea Goddess is with her nurses now. She’s being readied by two sensitive, wise midwives who are helping dress her in her baptismal raiment. But soon, she'll emerge into the world, full of portent and for me, consequence, and maybe even some wisdom.

The release is soon to be announced and all are invited to attend, to meet her and enjoy her lines. Like a proud father, I'll sit on the side and absorb everyone's responses, both positive and negative, and learn. Then, after a little rest, I'll turn around and do it all again, hopefully even better.

Sea Goddess, a first novel-length work, lives and soon I'll be able to say where to find her.


Qualified Beta Readers Wanted


These days, every indie author needs expert beta readers who are also great to work with. I'm looking for more than one beta reader. Professionalism matters. I'd like to find readers who can provide some support for their quality of service other than merely, "Oh, I read a lot of books." Watching the circus doesn't make someone a trapeze artist or even a clown.

Go beyond the book list, please. Let me know why I should use your services for a particular book or story. Provide some credentials that add up to a sense of verified qualification, such as your publications, positive writers' testimonials from your past reads, education, job experience, your website, expertise, and so on.

A resume is not required but would be very helpful. If you charge for beta reading, I need the cost. Please provide a list of your deliverables, a description of your process and what you might need from me in addition to the manuscript. I usually work in MS Word using the Review process. Google Docs (G Suite) will work. I also have Scrivener and that enables several formats for review.

These are the minimum requirements for my Beta Readers as of 10/20/2018:

1. Education - At least a two-year AA or AS certificate of completion from an accredited, two-year, community college. Preferred – a BA or BS degree from an accredited college or university, with a concentration in something relevant, preferably in literature, humanities, sciences, or social sciences. Equivalent life experience is considered if it's relevant and convincing.

2. Experience - A significant reading history that demonstrates diversity of focus in as many different genres as possible. Readers who focus exclusively on one popular genre such as romance, history or sci-fi, etc. may not grasp how other genres work or even that they may be interesting and worthy. Diverse life and work experience matters.

3. Fees - The quality of work matters more than cost but the fee must not exceed something affordable. Like many authors, I have a small budget.

4. Testimonials - At least two or three positive reports from different satisfied authors may secure the deal for you.

5. Life experience - The older you are, the better you will use language and the more diverse you are in life experience, the better you'll get characters and plots.

6. Attitude - You understand and accept that the author is in charge and you act accordingly but you're strong enough to rationally defend your position. You're someone who won't feel intimidated or overwhelmed by reasonable objections; someone who takes deadlines seriously and will make firm commitments and go to lengths to honor them. You think independently, not locked into alignment with groups.

7. Communication style - We both act with continual respect for each other. We stay on the same page using frequent-enough communication via email or even possibly voice contact. If an issue comes up, we discuss it and settle it. Kindness is a practice that makes relationships of all kinds work better.

8. Security - You will *NOT reveal* any part of my manuscripts to any other person, at any time, without my specific permission. Nor will you save or archive any working copies other than a single backup, locally saved on your end. At completion of our task, when I have received all of the results, you will eradicate any copies you have under your control.

A perfect candidate would be someone like this: an articulate, college-educated, mature or retired person with job experience in teaching or tech (something cerebral) who works on a sliding scale or offers an affordable fee and has at least a couple of satisfied author-clients. Sometimes exceptional, younger readers also reach a level of mental/emotional maturity that will work. If you're published with a book-length work, that's a plus.

My current beta-reading task is novel-length, about 44,7xx words. A synopsis is available. The genre tends toward contemporary, literary, and memoir but the book is unique. It defies precise categorization.

I can provide candidates the synopsis. After you check that out, if you'd please answer with firm start and end dates to bookend a schedule that you will keep, we can go from there. If you need to deviate later, you'll discuss this with me.

I'm a professional writer who will need betas going forward. I believe in loyalty and ongoing work relationships. I make a point of providing accurate feedback and being professional and very good to work with. If we can learn from each other, then we may become colleagues.

Please respond via email (from my Contact Page) not through Goodreads onsite messaging which is inadequate for a business engagement, except for the initial contact. I’m a Goodreads Author.

Thank you for your interest in beta reading for me as I write and publish more books. Please review this website, especially the About page, to become familiar with who you’d be working with.

Joseph Riden, Author