Friday, May 25, 2012


About a year ago, there was a day designated saluting the beta's. Personally, I thought it was a fantastic idea and one I hope continues. After all, the beta's are the unsung heroes behind many a fantastic story. But we don't really know them do we? Do you follow any beta's? Stalk them? I do!

It was my stalking tendencies that led me to Darcysmom. I don't even remember how we even started chatting, but I am glad we did.

Darcysmom is one of the nicest people I have met in Twitterdom. Always a nice word. Always willing to help. And is highly regarded by her peers. Personally, I have sent two new writers her way looking for help and every time Darcysmom was more than willing to help. And that's the thing. If someone asks me, do I know a beta? My answer is always...Darcysmom.

She also always makes me laugh with her tales of Odin and Abby, her precious Darcy, the hubs, and her day to day dealings with her students. And recently, her amazing recipes. You have to try her stuffed bacon wrapped chicken! She posts the step by step instructions with pictures on her twitter profile. She is fast becoming the twitter cookbook.

But who is Darcysmom? I know I wanted to know her better and what better way to find out then to lure her in with a profile? It was a genius idea and one I am thrilled worked!!

So let's get to know who Darcysmom is...

My first question, and I feel it is quite the priority on my nosy scale, are Odin and the cat related?? In my life I have never seen a dog and a cat with matching fur coloring! I love when you post their pictures together. Tell me a little about those two rascals.

It is just as amazing to us that Odin and Abby look so much alike. Odin is my sweet old man. He is a 14 year old mixed breed. He has been with us for about six years and is a total love. Abby is a shelter rescue we have owned for about 10 years. Abby has a pretty surly personality, about the only creature she is fond of is Odin. I think the only reason she likes him is that he looks so much like she does. You may have noticed that all the pictures I have posted of them together don't show Odin's face - he hates having his picture taken so I have to be really sneaky!

Darcy loves Odin. She often plays Scooby Doo with him. They will search the downstairs for clues and solve mysteries together.

From your pic posts, you obviously have a passion for cooking. I love your kitchen BTW! I have followed a few of your recipes and love that you post the pictures giving us all a visual. Many have also commented about loving your cooking lessons. What is it about cooking that you enjoy the most?

I am really excited that you tried a recipe! I do the cooking lessons because they are fun for me - you are the first person that has mentioned trying a recipe out. I have always loved cooking - I have early memories of my mom and granny letting me help with mixing and stirring. When I was eleven I was finally deemed old enough to cook one dinner a week, and I have been going strong ever since.

My granny definitely fueled my love for cooking. She was an amazing woman who raised seven kids on less than a shoestring budget. She blended the ideals of a modern woman with the values of a depression-era housewife. For example, she was adamant that I get as much formal education as possible because one of her greatest regrets was that her education only went to the eighth grade - her family couldn't afford to buy books for high school, so Granny went to work in a shoe factory instead. This zeal for education and the independence that comes with it was tempered by her absolute belief that I needed to be able to cook well so that I could get and keep a man.

So, she taught me the basics and gave me the confidence to feel like I could follow any recipe that struck my fancy. From the very beginning, I have cooked as an outlet for my creativity and as a way to show my friends and family that I love them.

I derive real pleasure from taking basic ingredients and creating a satisfying and delicious meal. I love being a competent home cook - I would never want to leap into cooking professionally; I am afraid that my zeal for cooking would disappear if it was a job.

Photographing and posting about what I am cooking is the only way I can share food with my twitter friends. If I could, I would have all of them over and feed them on a regular basis.

Normally I would ask what part of the world you are from but from the Disnyland pics and comments, I am going to go with CA. What is it about Disney that you seem to be there a lot!

You guessed right - I live in Southern California. I'm close enough to Disneyland that I go with Darcy a lot. Two years ago the hubs and I bought each other annual passes for Christmas and have loved having the freedom to visit as often as we want.

Disneyland is a really great thing for us to do with Darcy. She can be outside, running around, having fun, and we can enjoy ourselves too.

Disneyland is also a convenient place for Darcy and I to meet @kare831 and her daughter. It is awesome to watch the girls have fun together and @kare831 and I get to catch up with each other.

We know you're a teacher, a very noble profession. How long have you been teaching? Have you always wanted to be a teacher?

I have been teaching for close to seven years. I am lucky to have found a job that I love. It took me a long time to figure out that teaching would be a good fit for me.

In Kindergarten when the teacher asked the class what we wanted to be when we grew up, my answer was an agent for the CIA. Then I wanted to be in the FBI, and for a long time I wanted to be a princess.

When I realized that I couldn't snap my fingers and become a princess, I did look seriously at federal law enforcement. Ultimately, I decided it wasn't for me.

I had a series of dead end jobs for several years after earning my bachelor's degree. When I finally got sick of jumping from one soul-sucking job to another, I went back to school and got my master's in history. Which led to me finding my niche teaching adults.

I still hold out hope for the princess gig, so if you happen to hear about any openings - I have my tiara polished and ready to go!

What do you do to relax?

I know it will surprise you to hear that cooking is one of my favorite ways to relax! If I am feeling really stressed out, I love to bake bread - there is nothing like kneading dough to work out negative emotions.

I play with Darcy. Her belly laughs are one of my favorite things and the more I can get her to laugh, the happier I am.

I spend time with my husband. He is everything that is good in my world.

I read. I read. Then I read some more. I love being transported to another world. Stories (books or fic) are my favorite form of escapism.

Now for a little randomness - What are you currently reading? Favorite book? Favorite movie? Favorite place in the whole world?

I am reading a ton of fic right now. I also have several novels going. I am reading Koicto by Amy Jarecki, Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning.

I can't possibly name a favorite book. I have too many that I love. Some of my favorites are The Chronicles of Narnia, the Little House Books, the Anne of Green Gables books, the Harry Potter series, and anything by Sharon Kay Penman.

Hands down, my favorite movie is Casablanca. A few weeks ago my husband took me to see it on the big screen for the 70th anniversary! It was phenomenal.

My favorite place is Ireland, specifically, Dingle. We dream of retiring there.

What brought you to the fandom?

Like most people, it was a desire for more. I wanted more story, more character development, more romance, more adventure, and of course I wanted more than a fade-to-black for sexy scenes. I knew that fan fiction existed - I had even read quite a bit of Harry Potter fic. I never imagined that I would be anything more than a quietly lurking reader when I started reading Twi Fic.

Edward or Jacob?

Definitely Edward. What can I say? My favorite color has always been glitter.

How did you come to be a Twi-Girl?

The Twi-Girls Next Door had an event where they invited readers to recommend a fic they really liked and in a moment of bravery I decided to submit a rec. When I realized that my world did not come crashing down, that I wasn't outed to everyone I knew, and that particpating was actually a lot of fun, I decided to apply when positions became open. Being a Twi-Girl was what I would consider my real introduction to the fandom. The Twi-Girls Next Door allowed me to contribute on a small level by recommending stories and leading read alongs. From there it became easier to imagine taking on more while retaining my anonymity (I really like my closet - it is dark and comfortable).

With the busy life you lead, being a beta has to be time consuming. What brought you to Project Team Beta and how much beta'ing do you do for them?

I was looking to challenge myself and thought it would be fun to take PTB's beta test and see what happened. I was really happy that I passed muster! It does take pretty decent time management for me to get my chapter's back to them on time, but I need the accountability that a hard deadline gives me. I think I receive an average of one chapter a week from the PTB moderators, so it is a very manageable work load. If my job or outside life gets too crazy, PTB is awesome about working with me. I am grateful for the wide variety of beta work I get to experience with PTB. I believe with all my heart that the writing I have been exposed to through PTB has helped me become a better and more compassionate teacher. 

Most fun about being a beta?

The friendships that have started with my sparkly red pen! I never, ever dreamed that I would make real life friends in the fandom. I treasure them so very much.

It is really gratifying to watch an author become more confident, take bigger chances, and develop into a better writer with each subsequent chapter.

And, of course, it is so awesome to be one of the first people to see what happens next!

Most difficult thing about being a beta?

Giving constructive criticism can be really difficult. I find it especially challenging because I want to shake my pom-poms and cheer my writers on. But, sometimes a writer needs honesty more than praise. I am constantly working on finding the balance between cheerleader and critic.

As a beta, when you encounter a story where the author is just going for to much over the top angst, drama, or smut. Essentially ruining their own story. What as a beta do you do?

So far I have been really lucky - I haven't run into that situation. I am sure at some point it will happen. Hopefully, I would be in the position of already having a good relationship with the writer, one where honesty would be appreciated and seen as being in service to the story. If not, I would be honest and tell the writer which sections weren't working for me and why. This is the sort of situation where having a team of betas and prereaders can be very helpful. One person thinking something doesn't work can be discounted, but if the whole team comments on a section it sends a strong message to re-work the story.

It has always drove me buggy authors who take months to update or disappear for a year or two, come back and then finish the story with maybe a chapter or two left - any thoughts on that?

For a long time I only read completed stories. In part, because I love instant gratification, but also because I didn't know how to find WIPs I would be interested in. That all changed when I started tweeting. A wonderful world of WIPs and completed stories opened up for me.

It makes the selfish child in me stomp her feet when stories go on hiatus (official or not), but I appreciate that the stories I read come from the minds of people who have lives outside of fan fiction, and that they share their stories for FREE. These stories are a gift. It is really impolite to denigrate someone's gift. It doesn't mean that I won't be tempted to flounce the writer in the future though.

The bandwagon effect. Basically a writer will write the same story over and over, just changing the settings, and still receive 1000's of reviews while really good stories struggle to even get noticed - thoughts?

What is popular and what is good are often different things. I look for stories that appeal to me - I don't take the number of reviews into consideration at all. I am much more likely to read something based on a twitter recommendation than anything else. When I find a story that I love, I do my best to pimp it out to my followers. I wish that every good story got tons of attention, but we both know that doesn't happen. I think that it takes more than publishing a story to get readers - it seems that writers that are active on twitter and facebook are able to publicize their stories more effectively than those that aren't. Of course... all of these thoughts come from someone who hasn't written a single story. If I ever do, we'll see if I get any readers. ;)

The big taboo - pull to publish - pro, con, no comment, thoughts?

Hey, look - over there - a bright shiny object!

Favorite thing about the fandom?

The people! I have been awed by the kindness and support that I have received from the people I have met and the friends I have made. I love how much blood, sweat, tears, and heart people put into their stories and art. It thrills me that I get to be a small part of the creative process when a writer allows me to beta a chapter or a story. There are moments where we feel like a community and that is an awesome thing.

Least favorite thing about the fandom?

Plagiarism and negativity.  There is no reason to steal someone elses story, EVER. If you don't like a story, don't read it. If you don't like someone, don't follow them. I think sometimes we all forget that we got into this fandom because we wanted to have fun, and get sucked into all kinds of unnecessary drama.

Thanks so much for allowing me to pry in to your life! I was thrilled you agreed to do this. You are most deserving of a profile and I hope everyone had as much fun getting to know you as I did! BTW, Little House on The Prairie - I still have those books and my heart just tugged a little bit more for you!

Only Darcysmom can give you the warm fuzzies and make you laugh at the same time while being interviewed.

And now a little surprise for Darcysmom... I thought I'd bring in some special guests, awesome writers you all know to see what they had to say...ladies...

Lakermom37 -
There aren't enough kind words to describe darcysmom. We became acquainted through her involvement with Kare and Jill with Irishward, and she fast became another eye for my work, a friend and confidant. The world is a better place with darcysmom in it, and I'm blessed to have her in my life.

TwiMom817 -
When Karen (@kare831) and I wanted to continue our one-shot What Fills The Eye Fills the Heart we put the feelers out there looking for a beta. She volunteered and it was the best day. She is always there with encouraging words to help us long with our story. No mater when we give her something to edit she is always excited about reading and editing our stories. Her enthusiasm about are writing gives us the encouragement we need to write the next chapter or story.

But she is not only our beta but she's a friend. I just wish she didn't live on one side of the states while I live on the other. Oh and I do love when she as a cooking lesson on twitter.

Kare831 -
Darcysmom is such an awesome beta, a great friend and I feel so blessed to have her as both a sounding board and a cheerleader. She's always there if I have a question and she's always happy to help. More than anything I've enjoyed the friendship that we've forged. I'm lucky to live close enough to her that we can meet up at Disneyland with our girls and spend the afternoon together - usually once a month or so. We talk shop about Irishward and usually talk about whatever we're reading at the moment.  It's fun! =) She's a good sport that's for sure - she took on Irishward without really having read the original one shot and he sure wouldn't be where he is today without her. =)

I think it's awesome you wanted to do a profile on her - beta's don't receive nearly enough thanks for everything they do.  It's not an easy job that's for sure .

** And many thanks to @light4dawn for creating the banner for me :) That in itself was an undertaking trying to put something together with the impressions that were roaming about in my brain. Fantastic job Sarah did interpreting visually for me!

You can find Darcysmom on Twitter, her FF ProfileTwi-Girls, and Project Team BetaThough, Disneyland and in the kitchen cooking up a storm is probably your best bet!

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