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Floating in Salt Water  a memoir by Barbara Carter. An article on beta reading and the sharing economy.






a memoir by Barbara Carter



A sensitive, observant, feisty girl growing up in a kooky Canadian boarding house in the 1960s must sort through her family’s strangeness to find a way to be happy.

If the fictional characters of the Ugly Duckling, Huckleberry Finn, and Anne of Green Gables were combined, you just might come up with the real life Barbara Ann Langille and FLOATING IN SALT WATER.

In the 1960s, Barbara Ann Langille lives with her family in Nova Scotia, Canada, in a six bedroom house filled with children and elderly boarders.

She is told she has everything a child should ever want, but feels something is missing.

Her mother beliefs in witches, ghosts, and that lightening might strike them dead at any moment.

Her father comes home from work, eats supper, and goes to bed, hiding his drinking from the family.

When Barbara Ann doesn’t do as her mother wants she’s told something is wrong with her. That something is anything from a concussion, a witch’s spell, crazy, or a brain tumor like her aunt.

Barbara Ann must figure out if the thoughts inside her head are trustworthy, and whether or not something is wrong with her or her family.

She relates most to Marjorie, a young woman who is kept afraid of what will happen to her if she ever leaves. Barbara Ann believes her mother wants her to grow up to be like Marjorie, trapped and unhappy.

Hope is offered by various people living in a rented house two doors down: hippies, artists, girls from the city, a black man, and a rock and roll band. They offer the opportunity for Barbara Ann to connect with people unlike others in her neighborhood, providing a blueprint for another way to live, and the possibility of finding happiness.

Barbara Carter is looking for beta readers to offer feedback on if her memoir FLOATING IN SALT WATER (complete at 65,483 words) holds interest and flows well. Also interested in anyone willing to do line-editing. Open to returning the favour or willing to trade artwork for editing services.

Contact bcarter@eastlink.ca for further information.

www.barbaracarterartist.com.
 

    Wellington Demone was a fat man in his sixties that paid money to live with us.  He sat on a chair in our kitchen, watching my mother bake and prepare meals. Often Mother grumbled under her breath, “Too much time on his hands. Must be nice to sit around all day with nothing to do.”
    “Go on. Go. Sit on his lap.” Mother would motion to my younger sister and me. “He’ll buy you something when the Avon Lady comes."
     Charlene and I did as we were told, but I didn’t think it fair that Marjorie got to pick something out of the Avon Lady’s wonderful book of pictures, even though she hadn’t sat on his lap.
    I didn’t like his stubbly face, or the way his hand touched my bare legs, or his hot breath. I especially didn’t like his belly jiggling against me when he laughed.
    But my mother didn’t want to know why I didn’t like him. She turned her back and said, “You’re foolish to complain about someone who’s being so nice.”
    So, I sat on his lap to get the trinkets I wanted.
    Demone dropped bits of balled-up paper on the floor when he saw Marjorie approach.
    “Look at this mess.” She bent over to pick it up. 
    Demone reached forward and rubbed the back of her leg. 
    She straightened, spun, and faced him. “Not in front of everyone.” Then in a loud voice said, “Stop. Touching. Me.”
    “What are you talking about?” He chuckled, “I didn’t do anything.”
    “I’m sick of your shit.” Marjorie marched into the pantry, dipped a pot of water from the bucket we kept on the counter, and stomped back to the kitchen where Demone sat. She threw the water over him.
    “Frig!”  He jerked back in the chair. “Marjorie, what the hell?” Water ran down his face and shirt and onto the floor.
    “Hope that cools you off, you fat old bastard.”
    Charlene and I ran back and forth in front of him, laughing as he wiped water from his face. Mother stood at the other end of the kitchen with her arms folded. She ordered Marjorie to clean up the mess.
    My feet slipped on the wet linoleum; the back of my head slammed against the solid oak door.
    I cowered on the floor, screaming.
    Mother rushed to scoop me up. “Barbara Ann.  Barbara Ann, stop screaming.”
    But I didn’t stop.
    Mother turned and yelled at Marjorie. “This is because of your foolishness.”
    She paced the floor with me in her arms, rubbing the back of my head. “It’s all right. It’s all right. Stop crying.”
    Marjorie stayed off to the side, silent.
    Mother picked up the phone and dialed the doctor. A song went through my head…
    And the Doctor said, “No more monkeys jumping…
    Then she called my Father.
    …One fell off and hit his head."
    My father rushed home and off to the hospital we went. My mother sat in the front seat, holding me on her lap, cursing Marjorie, while my father cursed his lost time from work.
    The rest became a blur of white sheets, strange smells, cold machines, nurses’ and doctors’ hands and the word concussion.  I had no idea what it all meant, but it seemed important.
    At home, Mother sent Demone packing.
    Marjorie tiptoed around Mother for weeks to make up for her terrible deed. The Avon Lady stopped coming, and from then on, whenever I didn’t do as my mother wanted me to do, she blamed it on that bump to my head.

 continue reading →

 
Article published in Medium
by BetaReader Journal editor Jeffrey Marcus Oshins


The Myth of Self-Publishing—it’s still better to be signed.

As the founder of BetaReader.us I provide an online newsletter and bulletin board that helps match writers of all professional statures with readers and publishing service providers.

Publishing is joining the sharing economy but there remains an obvious distinction between authors with publishing contracts and the vast number of authors who now self-publish. While signed authors works with a professional team to edit, produce, distribute and promote their book, indie authors must perform or pay for these tasks themselves.

Walter Isaacson’s idea of “collaborating online and drawing upon the wisdom of crowds…to improve [his] drafts,” refers to a recent publishing phenomena — the beta reader — highly qualified readers who will proof and comment on a draft for little or no money. While an obvious boon to authors lacking access to professional editors at a publishing house, beta readers allow authors of all stripes, including chart toppers like Isaacson, to inexpensively obtain editing services. Tensions are rising between beta readers and professional editors who rightly claim that they perform and should be paid for services a beta reader cannot provide. An interesting distinction is psychological — if your publisher says “change this,” most signed authors will, whereas indie authors feel less bound to follow a beta reader’s suggestions.

Thanks to online resources available to indie writers, even the poorest can afford to produce well-edited books. But so far nobody has shown how to crowdsource book promotion and distribution. With very few exceptions, you still need to be published by reputable publisher if want to get your book into libraries, reviewed in the New York Times, sold to foreign publishers, or on bookstore shelves.

 


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