Tag Archives: beta reader

How To Write A Book That Malcolm Gladwell Would Be Proud To Have Written

31 Mar
My child is soon to leave home

“The Mirror” – Table of Contents

When I set out to write what will become The Mirror, Book One – Welcome to the Evil Sisterhood, I had certain goals in mind. I wanted to introduce a new gender-based way of interpreting narcissism theory. I wanted to show how this explained literally EVERYTHING about hard core feminism. I wanted to expose the fundamentally biased and malevolent feminist family “justice” system–The Matriarchy–, how it acts to harm children and men, and, more importantly, why it does so. I wanted to expose the scandal that was my divorce case, and the government cover up that ensued. I wanted my experience to be a catalyst for positive change.

I had one major advantage in all of this: I had never written a book before.

My inexperience permitted me to approach the problem of writing to achieve my goals with a fresh and innovative mind. I needed The Mirror to be a gripping read for as many people as possible, so that the book would be commercially successful and thus influence public opinion to a meaningful degree. Since the book would be introducing fascinating new concepts and exploring how these apply to society, I immediately thought of best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell. I thoroughly enjoyed his thought-provoking books.

What I needed to do was write a book that Mr. Gladwell would be proud to have written.

Author Malcolm Gladwell. Photo Credit: Kris Krüg, wikipedia.org

Author Malcolm Gladwell. Photo Credit: Kris Krüg, wikipedia.org

No small order for a first time author, obviously. To achieve such a lofty aim, I employed test (or beta) readers. Have someone read the manuscript, then consider their comments. I had no ego investment in the book; I just wanted it to be the book that it needed to be. I let the test readers know that there were no expectations, and that negative feedback was at least as helpful as positive feedback, if not more so. I’d consider a reader’s thoughts, make adjustments as necessary to things like tone and controversial statements, and then find another test reader. Repeat.

The Manuscript

The Manuscript

I knew The Mirror was something special when my 1st test reader, an old high school buddy, stayed up reading until 02:45 a.m. to finish it and then emailed me his preliminary thoughts. It’s been highly refined in the numerous iterations of the test reader cycle since then.

Have I written a book that Malcolm Gladwell will admire? Time will tell, I suppose. Here are the test reader comments; what do you think?

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Test Reader Feedback [NOTE: Significant majority are women]

“I spent the past weekend with your book. It is excellent: your patient and blow-by-blow recounting of the hell you endured makes for a very gripping reading experience.” Professor of English Janice Fiamengo, Ontario, Canada

Absolutely love Book One. You captured my interest, my support and my heart.” S.F., U.S.A.

“In the beginning I felt as though I was reading “This Boys Life: A Memoir” written by Tobias Wolff, in addition to reading Follett or Le Carré filled with conflict and intrigue. I was on the edge of my futon. I will admit, this is my second reading. I want to buy it when published, you just have to autograph it so the book can sit in my book case along with my hard copy of my favorite authors. Definitely an awesome and honest story. It is terribly hard to believe the circumstances and that there are women out there like that “Mommy Dearest” comes to mind. Thank you for letting me read your story.” J.M., Seattle, WA, U.S.A.

I really, really enjoyed it! It was so real and personal that it actually made me cry at times. Most of the time it was empathy, sometimes sympathy… I truly enjoyed reading this. I feel as if you were talking to me over coffee at times and the read was in person. Although I’ve never met you, I feel like I understand and respect you as if I did. Thank you so much!” J.C., Ontario, Canada

“I have just finished the book….to be quite honest, it’s left me speechless. I have been through a range of emotions, realizations, and was especially challenged by the last few pages regarding the rejection of ‘feminism’ as defined by Michael. What a story…It made me think about my own upbringing and how the qualities of narcissism show up differently within the masculine and feminine paradigms (as Michael suggests). Feminist or not, this book is a page-turner.” J.K., U.S.A.

“The Mirror is eloquent and it’s human. You told your story with passion, with confidence and with conviction. You’ve done brilliantly at keeping it coherent and you’ve paced it out as well as any good work of fiction I’ve ever read. Your writing style is that of a true storyteller, and it was only on very rare occasions as I read that I didn’t feel you were sitting beside me, telling of the joys and the trials, the triumphs and the frustrations. I felt your losses and your significant wins, few and far between as they may have been. You should be very proud of your work… it is awesome.” L.G.H., Ontario, Canada

The Mirror is every parent’s worst nightmare—your children stolen from your life by a vindictive ex and a corrupt, incompetent and unjust system. Sit up and take notice, because this compelling and heartbreaking story will continue to happen to others until an outraged public demands social change.” K.H., Ontario, Canada

“I honestly struggled to keep this short, because I cannot speak highly enough of the book, and how and why it was written–and what reading it instilled in me. It was an intriguing, honest and at times humorous telling of the devastating injustice inflicted on one man. I was drawn intellectually and emotionally into the story of a father whose three children were alienated from him WITH the help of the judicial systems in place in Canada. I felt present with him through each encounter, unable to stop reading. Seeing and feeling not only his pain – but the indisputable truth he conveys with evidence to back up his words – caused me to rethink various aspects of my views on society as a whole. A must read for everyone who wishes for a fairer and better world.” B.B., U.K.

“I sat down intending to read the first twenty or so pages and was became so engrossed in the details that mirrored much of my own experience – I read it right to the end in one sitting. The Mirror reveals exposes a broken system that has punished many for no good reason.” B.C., Ontario, Canada

I am so grateful you wrote this book, on so many levels. You just nailed it all so perfectly. My mother was quite a narcissist. She took me from my father when I was 3, allegedly to protect me. I never could quite figure out, protect me from what? Thanks to your book, I think I get it now. Thank you so much for letting me read your book. It was powerful. I’m quite impressed.” G.G., Seattle WA, U.S.A.

“With respect to the book, if I may say so, it has been very well structured and your dry humor runs throughout. As you had mentioned at the end, it sure is an ordeal to go through it again to put it down, but you have done a very good job of it to have it neatly segregated… I was wondering, ‘how is he going to handle the aftermath of this tornado once it gets published and recognized?’ Feminists all over are going to be so over him. And I got the answer at the last chapter. ‘Damn them,’ you say. I say the same.” K.G., India

“Just finished your book! Your passion for the dire need of the courts to return to the unfeminized Rule of Law is palpable and well-defined.Your personal experience will resonate with millions of men, and not just betrayed fathers, but any man who has been unfairly subjected to any influential female “authority” figure’s misguided decision-making process, whether she be part the judiciary, business community, government, academia, military, organized religion or politics. They will suddenly realize that it was not just bad luck that produced their negative outcomes, but a full-blown concerted conspiracy to denigrate them for being men.” K.Q.D., U.S.A.

I found your book to be extremely interesting and very well written. You’ve also done your research, so it’s very well quoted, which I think is a plus for a book like yours. It is essential to read the experience of a man, so your book needs to be out there, needs to be read. Maybe it will help to make a difference and to help the system change.” V.B., Ontario, Canada

Never have I seen the pain and horror resulting from the gross miscarriages of justice perpetrated against fathers (and men in general) in today’s society so clearly portrayed. ‘The Mirror’ is a rare, inside look at just how impotent the modern-day father is rendered by the current justice systems of North America. It exposes the insidious underbelly of feminism in a raw, unapologetic account of one man’s struggle to save his children, and his refusal to give up, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable opposition.” – A. Taylor, VA, U.S.A.

You weren’t kidding when you said some people couldn’t put it down. I was up until 2:00 am last night reading, and then I started again after the kids went to school this morning. I found myself drawn in by your story, but also by all of the research you included. I am astounded by everything that has happened to you and your children; injustice doesn’t even begin to describe it. If this was 30 years ago, I could see it happening. But in this day and age? I find your story simply appalling. I hope, one day, your children will be able to see through their mother. No child deserves to be without a loving father, and no loving father deserves to be without his children. Looking forward to Book Two.” CA, BC, Canada

“I have just finished reading your book! After 43 years in an unhappy marriage, I feel so lifted up to know that I am not alone. One must always see the problems of others to realize that we do have things to be grateful for. All the best to you, with kudos for your wonderful book.” I.L., Ottawa ON, Canada

On Writing A Book

9 Feb
If I can do it, so can you.(Credit: Pearson Scott Foresman, Wikipedia)

If I can do it, so can you.(Credit: Pearson Scott Foresman, Wikipedia)

As with many people, I aspired to write a book one day. Now that I have done it—book should be out in a month or so—, I thought I might write on writing. A book, that is.

I don’t know if there is a right way or a universal formula, so I’ll just describe what I did. It may or may not apply to you.

While I do love fiction, I’ve always wanted to write non-fiction. The problem was, I never really had anything substantive enough to write about. Plus, those married-with-children years didn’t actually leave me with a lot of spare time, either.

This isn’t to say that I didn’t write—I did. Mostly shorter professional writing, though. (If you blog, you’re writing too.) But not the book or books that I had wanted to do.

Then something “good” happened. I had a divorce from hell starting in 2008. Every feminist within reach seemed to line up to put the boots to me. I finally had something to write about.

I did plenty of research. It’s so easy in today’s internet age. I checked all the applicable laws and regulations. As it turned out, I discovered that what some of the feminist social workers, lawyers, and judge did to my kids had a name: abduction, as defined in the Criminal Code. When I brought this to the attention of the authorities (everyone that I could think of), it was covered up.

I had a couple of false starts in writing the book. It really got going once I learned about writing a book proposal, as this allowed me to wrap my head around the project. With a planned structure in place, the writing had a framework to hang itself upon.

This is the last post on my series on book proposals. It has links to all the instalments.

It took me about five months, working vacations, evenings, and weekends, to write the first draft. It was in rough shape in terms of typos and errors, but there it was. This was almost a year ago. Since then, I’ve been doing a sequence of test readers. Get the feedback, check my emotions and ego, and think about it. Make enhancements. Another test reader. Repeat. Repeat again.

Around two dozen test readers later…

It appears that the trend for new authors is definitely to self publish their first book(s), and hopefully to get noticed and then signed by a traditional publisher. So, I began the self-publishing stuff in earnest last fall, while continuing with the test readers. I chose FriesenPress.com, as they offered a fairly comprehensive package. I have to do most of my own marketing, but that’s par for the course.

The beauty of test readers is fourfold, as I see it. First, they can give you the unbiased advice that you might be incapable of giving yourself. Second, they read what you actually have written, whereas you tend to read what you think you have written. Third, with enough eventual positive feedback, you gain confidence in both your manuscript and your ability to write. Fourth, if you work at it long enough, are personable enough, and are grateful enough, you just might build a humble PLATFORM that is said to be essential these days.

I’ve reviewed the galley proofs for my book and sent them back for correction. I should be receiving the revised galleys any day. The cover design, which I have deliberately not revealed yet, is finished, and people say that it is striking. I am getting so close.

This started five and a half years ago. Obviously, perseverance is a virtue as a general rule, and this applies to writing books as well. There is a message that everyone should take from this.

If I can do it, so can you.

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I blog as navigator1965. My blog The Mirror is a reflection upon life, and covers different topics. I can be reached at themirrorbooks@gmail.com, and I do thank you for your kind interest in this guest post. Note that test readers are also referred to as beta readers.

[EDITORIAL Note: This has been simultaneously posted at A GOOD BLOG IS HARD TO FIND and HarsH ReaLiTy.