Today I sent off copies of the draft of Red Mercury to my two brave "beta readers", Richard and Doug. I'm bizarrely twitchy about it. Remember when you made a mix-tape of your favourite songs for your new girlfriend when you were a teenager? And you were all nervous to see if she would like it or not? That's exactly how I feel.
The only other people who've read it so far have been my wife and son. My wife has a fierce eye for a typo or a pointless passage. Thanks to her, the most recent draft is about 10% shorter than my first stab at a "final" draft. It's scary that whole paragraphs that I deemed essential to the story were revealed as adding little or nothing when challenged by someone else. Removing the dross has undoubtedly made the story punchier.
My 14 year-old son finished it (a good sign) and said he enjoyed it. I pestered him for a bit more feedback. "The ending was a bit cheesy," he said. Obviously, I couldn't let an in-depth critique like that go ignored, so I revisited the last couple of scenes and attempted to remove a little of the Parmesan.
I'm now waiting to do any more editing or rewriting until I get comments back from the "beta boys".
To keep me occupied until the guys get back to me, I've started on a couple of different cover designs. The first rule of first-time writing is apparently "Never draw your own cover art". Oops.