Saturday, January 13, 2024

Beta reader wanted and kudos to Jane – Also, if you have some good news to share, let me know!

Hi, Brian.

As I ready the first draft of my new novel for submission, I find myself in need of a beta reader. I will happily critique a fellow writer's work in return. Here's a quick summary of my story, working title, GRIDLOCKED:

Amidst the fervour of the 1960 presidential election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, three women from different walks of life unite to take on the stodgy crossword world. 

Sharp-minded but lonely Nina, an Italian-American housewife who served as a cryptanalyst during the war, is obsessed with constructing crosswords that bend brains. It's just too bad New York's finest daily newspapers refuse to publish tough puzzles by women like her.

Carmen, an ambitious not-quite middle-aged widow from Spanish Harlem with dreams of becoming a crossword editor at the newspaper where she works, can't break through the glass ceiling. Once a blessing, her looks and sex are holding her back.

Billie-Mae, a young domestic worker from Brooklyn, yearns to solve crosswords that reflect her youth, race, and experiences. At the same time, impressing the Ivy-league boy she's fallen in love with wouldn't hurt. Through their collective determination, these three women band together to overcome the barriers they each face and to ignite change in the modern crossword world.

GRIDLOCKED comes in at 85,000 words and will appeal to fans of Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus or The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis. 

If this story sounds like something you'd like to help see the light of day, please contact me at

Many, many thanks!


Hi, Brian:

For your information, I'm a finalist in The Fiddlehead fiction contest, and the winner will be announced this month. My story, “Missing,” was workshopped with your Friday morning intensive class last year.

Jane Finlayson

For information about submitting to The Fiddlehead and their annual contests, see here.  

I you’re interested in writing contests, consider getting The 2024 Canadian Writers’ Contest Calendar. See here.

And check out where else your fellow writers are getting published. See here {and scroll down}.

If you need beta readers or have good news to share …

If you’ve had a story (or a book!) published, if you’ve won or placed in a writing contest, if you’ve gotten yourself an agent, or if you have any other news, send me an email so I can share your success. As writers, we’re all in this together, and your good news gives us all a boost. 

Also, be sure to let know if you're looking for a writers' group or beta readers; a notice in Quick Brown Fox, will help you find them. 

Email me at:


See my upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.


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