On Sensitivity Reads

In the words of Old Rafiki, “It is time.”

Today I’m talking about sensitivity reads – not a study in what they are and why I encourage them (I feel like you should know this by now and plenty of people have already discussed it), but an explanation of on what I feel comfortable/equipped giving feedback – and what it might cost.

Since finishing my last wip and announcing my availability on twitter, I’ve gotten the range of expected responses/reactions. Just a quick word of advice: Don’t expect free labor from marginalized people. But that’s common sense by now, right? So maybe it’s time to tack on: When they inform you of the rate, especially don’t tell said people that you’re disappointed in them.

no joke Ezzie

I know, Unamused Baby Ezzie. No one would do that. (They have.)

But! Those experiences aside, I’m glad I’ve started offering editorial services and sensitivity reads! It’s been a year since I was editorial intern for a publisher, and I missed it. And to be honest, what with the malaise that just reappears at random because, you know, of the world and the nation and the pushback you get on declaring your humanity and right to not die or be hated as a form of patriotism, it’s actually really nice to open someone else’s work. Because I can’t always get in the head space to create, but being too far from what I love can make that malaise worse. So thank you, is I guess what I’m trying to say. Despite that there can be problematic content in the work – which is the whole reason you’re paying for the service – it can be an escape for me, right now. It reminds me there are people who want to do better.

Unfortunately, I’m not the right sensitivity reader for everyone. (Not so much unfortunate as true.) So on to where I can most help you.

Across age categories and genres, I’m happy to read your ms if you’re writing about Black American history and/or identity, and any of these intersections (or these topics on their own): womanness, motherhood, family dynamics (including sisterhood and sibling dynamics in larger families), higher education (specifically PWIs), expatriation, international travel, interracial relationships, accelerated education programs (specifically GATE and International Baccalaureate), invisible disability, performance cultures (ex: marching band, drill team, dance, etc).

Now obviously, there are variations on the above topics, or different but related ones. If you’re not sure or just generally have questions about this, contact me. Tell me about your project (a synopsis like one you might query to an agent and what you’re looking for – but try not to go too in-depth with explaining your intentions) and we can go from there.

And so, rates, amiright? It is based on a few major criterion: (1) that the novel is no longer than 100k, (2) that the novel is polished, (3) that the turnaround need not be shorter than 8 weeks, and (4) my personal workload. Bottom line? It is not uniform, and must be requested.

Note: if you are an independent (unagented, uncontracted) and historically marginalized author, we can discuss how to make my services more accessible to you. 

Need help getting polished, with or without a sensitivity read? We can chat about that, too – but before I begin, please! Kiss emoji, wink emoji!

I think that’s enough to get us started, yes?

NEW: Inquiries can also be sent to Bethany (at) bethanycmorrow (dot) com.

Aight, that’s enough work for one day. Now here’s this:



How I Be

I managed to solve a little problem today. And to celebrate? I’m going to tilt my chair.

Yep. I’m just speaking in Homer Simpsons quotes now. It is the perfectest herald of joy, so they say. (They don’t say that.)

During this whole move back to the United States but not a state we’ve ever lived in situation, there is UH LOT to do. Trust. And I’ve gotten some good-great revising done and am somewhat staying productive? Somewhat.


I’ve been musing on Avrilis Book 2 – hold for glitter cannon festivities – and today the elements and recent story bit additions feel like they slipped into place so that it feels like this is a book! The world wraps around that, the characters themselves fuse it all together – with their whys and needs and motivations – and I know you’re thinking, why would you be this pleased over something that’s admittedly early stage? Because that’s how you get to the next one.

Sing wid me now…

Demolition (Wo)Man

I’m gonna be honest, I gave that title all of three seconds of thought. That’s a lie. It was less than that and I feel like you can tell.

So I’m in the middle of a really, excruciatingly deceptive revision right now. Like, a deep bones revision.

You know how you’re watching brain surgery (as one does) and it just looks like this person will never be the same because you’ve flipped their scalp the other way and sawed through their cranium and dug around in the brain – and then you see them afterward and you cannot see the scar? (Shout-out to the docu-series, Brain Hospital. I wanna be you when I grow up.)

Okay, that’s what I feel like but not what I feel like I’m doing. Let’s start over.

This is the book.



Oh my gosh, it’s also the house I wanna DIE in.


Sorry. Anyway, so that’s the book, right? It’s the world, the concept, the scene outline, the characters to some extent. And so, that – that beautiful structure up there – looks relatively the same.

But see, inside – where one keeps all the insulation and world logic and character interaction and motivations?



So, sometimes my brain’s all, no, what are you talking about, this is totally a low-key revision because look.



And I’m like, yeah!

What was I thinking! This is gonna be super chill. I’m so silly. I think I’m just getting all mixed up about this whole driving in the snow and feeling like every mile brings me closer to the moment I go home to be with the Lord and this whole hubby having been sick and fever dreaming, cuz I really haven’t been getting great sleep what with how he’s taken to growling and kicking off the covers so lemme just open this word doc again, I don’t even know what I got so worked up about –

::crying in the wreckage::


So we’re good.

It’s gonna be great.

Super excited. Mildly terrified. Glad we’re doin’ it.

Totally unrelated: isn’t it hilarious when agents/editors/cps make one apt comment and you re-envision (the execution of) the entire novel. I love it.

Next time we’ll talk about writing other projects and how it sometimes teaches you how to properly write the first one. (And we’ll use “the first” rull loosely.)

::puts on hard hat::


Take It To The Page

Things I Do (As A Writer)

1) I muse while I write. I listen to a piece that reflects the emotion of the scene itself.

Ways This Can “Backfire” (Or: Why You Can’t Muse Too Hard)

A) It has occurred on occasion – read: more often than not – that I have taken myself on a journey, girl. Got all up in those feels and expressed an entire process of emotion-ism-ality and just experienced this entire narrative that’s rich and intense and lengthy. Because…I was feeling between the words.

Things To Know So That You Don’t Come Off Like A Noob, Bethany

I) [Like the Roman numeral, not like the letter.] It takes longer to write a scene than to read it. ….Read it. With or without the muse (music). Actually, I prefer with. Because then it’s really super abrupt when I realize how much did not make it to the page. The read doesn’t match the muse, so to speak. I got down a sketch, a skeleton – but not the meat. So I go, whoops, maybe let’s try that again.


And Start Again At Your Beginnings

One of the best things about writings – the tangible things, I’ll say, otherwise I’ll be making all kinds of obnoxious inserts like this! – is starting over. Taking everything you know, all the things that didn’t make it on the page and going back to the beginning. Or the fact that the beginning can change, if you like!

I’m starting to wonder if anything feels as good as revising. It’s a love so much more mature than the first time you write something down. (I should probably stop universalizing since I have no idea whether it’s true for anyone else, no?)

And it’s a small thing I’m considering maybe working on right now. A short story from at least two and a half years ago, if not longer. The heart of which I still need to tell. It’s what I used to write and so it’s exciting to go back to it – if alarming how many of its one-time companion pieces I no longer “need”… and so they’ll be put away for good. But this one, yes. It still matters.

I’d say it’s a wonderful phenomena, the privilege to start over, knowing what you know now. Only that would be dishonest – in real life, I’d never want to start again. Even though I could have done much better, there are too many minutes, too many hours, too much space in between that I’m not passionate enough to live again. So it’s only in my work that the concept is so refreshing. In real life, you do better by proceeding forward, knowing what you know now. It’s better that way. The story is doing the same, come to think of it. You’re starting over but you’re doing more than just reliving it again.

Mmmm, revision.


And So It Is

New idea: let’s talk about all the ways I’m dumb.

The most obvious way (to me – and feel free to chime in, friends, with things you’ve been dying to say but haven’t) is that I am loyal beyond reason. No, I’m not talking about toward people although, yes, even there I’ve experienced how that can be unhealthy but let’s stop being serious and let me ramble. I’m loyal in the way that one cannot not buy Crest and also doesn’t know why and I don’t have to set here and answer your questions. (Sorry. I watched Ali yesterday. Which won’t stop being on my top 3 favorite movies ever for always amen.)

I’ll just…put this here for ya.

So Crest. Loyalty. It’s like I think this is some intrinsic aspect of my personality. As if if people thought I used Colgate (which is a stupid and LUDICROUS, obviously) they would somehow misunderstand me in a very meaningful way and I would be misrepresenting myself and the whole system would fall apart.

And so, I find myself having to – or attempting to, at least – give long-winded, unwarranted and uninteresting disclosures (which totally works on Twitter, by the by) when discussing my writing soundtrack. Because there was a time that it was 100% Hans Zimmer/James Horner/Thomas Newman – and if James Newton Howard, Antonio Pinto and Dario Marionelli make their way into heavy rotation, I’m not hurting anyone.

But then Daft Punk’s Tron Legacy soundtrack sort of overwhelmed the writing of Cait, or maybe the revising, I can’t remember… and Florence & the Machine actually seemed to be singing about Avrilis, which was fine because I was reading, not writing. And when I was actually writing new words on new pages, I was still for the most part going back to my mainstays. Imogen and Elsie, they were conceived legitimately. (Was that a weird way to phrase that??)

And then I don’t know what happened. I re-envisioned one of them. And I can’t even really remember how I came upon it but I made a playlist of Tycho, Hammock and God Is An Astronaut. O_O And that’s all I’ve used. And I love it. And am also ashamed. … WHO is ashamed of things like this?! Seriously. What is going ON. When I talk about what I’m writing to, I feel the need to give back-story-info-dump on my progression and how maybe this shouldn’t so much be considered a progression (which the other party never said it was in the first place because they truly don’t give a good doggone beyond initial interest in seeing what other people listen to while working) because I still very much consider Zimmer/Et Al to be my writing companions even though, no, at the moment, I’m not listening to them but I’m sure I will – and, believe me, I understand such info dumps to be an occupational hazard. Yet I am helpless. Rendered ridiculous by a strong sense of loyalty to SOUND, when it comes down to it.

I dunno. Pray for me.

Oh and also, this:

Hiiii, angles that make me look ALL of the wide!

Hiiii, angles that make me look ALL of the wide!

Can We Get A Rap?

So anyway, in a wonderful turn of events, the hard copy revising of one project re-stimulated the actual composing of the wip, which I heart. (Both the wip and the progression from revising to writing.) Having been quite distracted with post-writing responsibilities, how wondersplendent.

And yet I wonder. It’s a novella – at least I believe it is, as in it always had been? – yet I feel it broadening in its scope to a bigger picture of society in a way that I don’t often find suitable for novellas.


Well, say something! Or FINE, just listen. Why can’t every project happen like Keepsake? I’m honestly enjoying this still untitled project and all the elements (incl the society that’s horning in) but… I’m not entirely sure what’s going on. And no, that’s not always an exciting whirlwind of genius. (People think, “I don’t know what’s going on” inevitably translates to “I am making a masterpiece”… it does not.) I legit am not sure. About things.

And so perhaps that’s why my sleep brain – adulterous gentlewoman that she is – tried to inspire me last night? She dreamed (my sleep brain, who is apparently a separate entity) that I wrote a new story. (Not sure what format but whatever.) It was about…. a dying woman helping her husband find his next wife.

Get it together, sleep brain.

In the dream, it was like GEEEEEEEEEENIUUUUUUUUUUUUUS and full and witty! And then I woke up and not only is that not as robust as I clearly found it in the dream, it’s like borderline ridiculous. Who wants to write about a husband who is so afraid of being alone that his DYING wife takes it upon herself in her final days to find him a replacement. It just screams, we were meant for each other. Til death do us part. But just.

So if for some reason that resonates with you, feel free to write what couldn’t possibly be longer than a short story about it. Or a rom-com. Or a black comedy. You know what, maybe this is a better idea than I thought. Maybe I should just write a super short scene like I did when I had that boy Buffy story-dream? Hm. We shall see.

We have fun.

Every Boy And Every Girl

Little ways I try to spice up my life that you may also try:

A) Using light gamer-speak in real life conversations so that it doesn’t seem like forever since I leveled my girl on Allods because wow this part is an infuriating grind and how come Josh has a ship and I don’t but also seriously, can we be done with the kill infinity of this or that beast quests?

Example: Calling out “wife-aggro” when I want my husband to come here.

Example 2: Saying I’m going “afk” when neither I nor the other party were at a keyboard to begin with. It’s good times.

B) Watching Elementary and finally getting to be a part of the whole Sherlock Holmes thing, which – no matter what interpretation I’d tried – I previously could NOT get into. I love Watson being Joan, I love their relationship, I love present-day crime-solving, I love Aidan Quinn (and I’ll never stop, just like he’ll always be a Ludlow). All the things. Such good television. Mmm. Not like The Following – whose second episode was admittedly better than the first but baby, that ain’t hard, and as I mentioned to a friend (so you’re seein’ this twice, yo) didn’t have to accost us with the liberal as duct tape use of cliches and so was immediately less eye-roll-inducing.

But what was I saying? Ah yes. I love Elementary. For serial. This from a woman who couldn’t even avoid irritation at the end of Guy Richie’s RDJ version. O_O (Yep. I hate when it goes all Encyclopedia Brown at the end. Shuddup. But also, let’s be friends, RDeej.)

C) Getting back into a season of hard-copy revising. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Nom. So fulfilling, I can’t even. Love it. Pencil, pen, paper, clipboard, love and so on. Does the body good. Ah. Now I’m just sighing and twirling my hair around my finger. Hm.



Come ‘ere, people!

The problem is we let it into our homes. “The call’s coming from inside the house.” Seriously, could that be why comments on almost every internet article are so heinous? So offensive? Why twitter can go from hilarious to soul-crushing in one simple string of 140 characters? Because if I overheard almost outlandishly racist comments in the public ladies bathroom, I’d forget about it for like six hours and then right before bed suddenly remember and tell Josh about it and then forget again.

I may well become the recluse I always intended to be. Well. I mean, I may – with the help of sweet Jesus – actually disallow myself to log onto the internet in the comfort of my own home. Eventually. Because, seriously, it’s my home. And there’s a bunch of crazy strangers popping up all the time. Strangers I had no intention of engaging or hearing or anything. And then I’m upset and it lingers because home is where you go to find refuge but it *happened* here! Does that make sense? (Of course it does.)

And then also: I am nursing a three day old Antonio Pinto addiction. Have you ever watched a movie based on hearing the score? Then you and I can’t be friends. (I assumed you said no, which is crazy because who *hasn’t* done that!?) And also, I’m sort of lying because I’ve been addicted to Antonio Pinto’s “Requiem” piece in Collateral since I saw the film in the theatre. But I was looking him up the other day and came across a number of songs from Lord of War and then this happened:

Le Pass. Out. I was rereading – in prep for possible revision – one of my manuscripts and Lord have mercy. I seriously bought a defibrillator for all the times my heart stopped. O_O (I hate talking about writing and music sometimes because then I’m like, what if this isn’t the end all be all to the person reading this and a piece of me dies.)