Casting my alpha reader: Apologia Part 1

A long time ago, a professor that I respected and admired served as the alpha reader for my novel INHERITANCE. Frustrated by her response, I had a little fun writing this short story where she meets Joe Taylor my main character. I hope you enjoy it.


The light in Eartha’s small office burned well past midnight. A few more reviews and enough work would be done to justify a weekend off. She flipped through the last pages of a novel and set the book down with a snort.

“Well, that’s convenient. An admirable attempt, but predictable.”

Eartha sipped coffee, then nurtured a disgusted frown. She picked up a pad and wrote, character is undeveloped, plot-if any-weak. Romance structure lends an easy ending. Her pen stopped and she re-read the words then tossed the pad on the table and rubbed her eyes.

The ideas are good. Self-imposed isolation, escape in work . . . all couched in alcoholism, family dysfunction, abuse. . . . There were endless possibilities, opportunities that could have made the story so much better, things Eartha understood–she could just imagine how she’d explore those characters and open them up, let them come alive. Her fingers itched for the typewriter, but she’d given up writing, had shelved it to pursue other options. Writing reviews, the weekend creative writing class she taught and occasional book editing paid the bills. It also frustrated.

Eartha picked up the note pad. Writer has potential. Will be several novels before I expect a breakaway work, she wrote. If any

“V. Essel ought to pursue short stories and work on developing the characters more . . . take a class and understand the demands of a novel . . . read more.”

Ruminating was useless. Talent wasted on fluff–supermarket fodder for the masses, only antagonized her love for literature. “Essel is probably after a name and a few bucks. She’ll probably get it.”

Eartha made up her mind to write the review. She didn’t need to annoy herself any longer. A piece like this didn’t justify it. Still, it bugged her and while she typed the lead for the article, she couldn’t deny the uncanny feeling that someone was watching her.

Eartha jumped when she turned and saw the tall, thirty-something man watching her in the doorway waiting, it seemed, for her undivided attention.

Startled and somewhat fearful, Eartha put her hand on the phone to dial security while she reigned in her panic and demanded to know what the man wanted.

(To be continued.)

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