The Year of Blogging Dangerously – Beta Reading, Ranting and Reviewing

On this date in 2013, an innocuous blog was created Penny Dreadful Book Reviews. At the time, a fact that was significant probably only to a handful of people, if that, hopefully there are more of you now. A few days after I wrote my first post I clearly remember casually mentioning to my husband that I had started a blog and he asked me how many followers I had when I told him proudly that there were four. He laughed and then proceeded to list my three closest friends. He was right but missed my childhood neighbor albeit that was a curve-ball after all since they had never met. In retrospect it might sound more auspicious if I said I lost a bet or something, but truly the reason I started this blog seemed arbitrary at the time.

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, however aren’t we all guilty of this particular crime? I have been taken in countless times by gorgeous covers and then found the substance within sorely lacking. Typically I chalk it up to “you win some, you lose some,” today being the first anniversary of my blog’s creation I was reflecting on how I came to start it in the first place. Somewhat ironically it was a case of as Wiki states prejudging the worth or value of something by its outward appearance alone that led me to this place.

Throughout my teens and even into my early twenties I entertained dreams of becoming a writer when I “grew up”,

I know, I know. Who didn’t?

But I was the one in English class who was regularly told that I was one of the best (in more than one school I might add) and as I write that sentence it occurred to me that that was out of thirty some odd students and that I may not have been truly very special at all! Give me a moment …that is a hard pill to swallow. Regardless, I have taken writing courses and know my way around a sentence BUT I later realized to my chagrin that I really had no stories to tell still don’t. Like Cartman, I maturely decided to go home, I was content to quietly lose myself in the work of others or so I thought.

I can be standoffish, to be honest I am not sure why. Unlike most babies perhaps I just never got past the “stranger danger” stage, however once I have finished eyeing you mistrustfully and decided that you pose no real threat good luck shutting me up. I met Auralee Wallace at work, against my will, I would like to state for the record. A friend, who completely unlike myself never met a stranger, was having a long drawn out conversation with her while I lurked in the background wondering when we could return to our regularly scheduled programming. Then the unthinkable happened she transferred into our department, I should preface this somewhat so you don’t think I am a complete bitch. Auralee is one of those elegantly beautiful blondes, and my past dealings with the beautiful people had left me with a healthy mistrust of their ilk. But as I am sure you have already guessed, she was the exception to the rule, a blonde who was not only gorgeous but smart too. Admit it you would have hated her as well! Worst of all she’s nice and despite my best efforts I grew to adore her.

During the decade and a half that I have known her, she completed her masters, taught college English and has written four manuscripts. Quite without realizing it I have been beta reading for a number of years and unofficially reviewing for longer. We have had some very satisfying discourse on the implications of geriatric pregnancies on Bold & the Beautiful, my love hate relationship with New Adult literature and the strange appeal of erotica just to name a few. In between these often bizarre discussions she would cleverly dole out Sidekick in bite sized pieces wanting to know what I thought. I would gobble up these offerings demanding more and tactfully sometimes more so than others, pointing out things that I liked and very carefully, authors are SENSITIVE, things that I didn’t.

She, unlike myself was not content to take her toys and return to more hospitable climbs that are not littered with rejections from agents and as of this time last year she “was”, take note that is significant, was unpublished and having heard just about all that I ever wanted to on the subject. I decided the solution was ridiculously easy.

  1. Start a blog
  2. Get noticed
  3. Share my opinion on what I read in the meantime
  4. And get her published already duh!

Well perhaps promoting Sidekick was not my sole focus but it was definitely a motivating factor. I am a fixer at heart after all, and though I may have an inflated sense of my own self worth I would like to think I helped somewhat. At the time Auralee assured me if her seventy three year old father could manage a blog that I could. It was significantly more difficult than anticipated but I completed my first post shortly thereafter (read a few frustrating Friday nights later), a short 4-Star review of Tracey Garvis GravesOn the Island was the result, the rights of which have been sold to MGM for a screen adaptation. Now there is a movie I will look forward to.

Before I knew it, it was almost as if the blog became its own entity complete with Facebook and Twitter pages both of which I largely eschew in my personal life. I quickly learned that I was a tiny minnow (possibly only plankton) in a vast ocean and that the day I posted for the first time was not as ground breaking for everyone as it was for me. However times change and while I am no Great White as yet in the vast book sea that I have declared my home, I have had the opportunity to meet some wonderful people and the chance to pick their brains about their amazing stories. I have read some brilliant work that I would never have gotten the opportunity to read and for that I must be thankful that Auralee came up with such a ingenious suggestion. Best of all the wise people at Escape Publishing saw what I smugly identified years ago and are releasing Sidekick June 1st for you all to enjoy.


How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” ― Dr. Seuss



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