The cold came from no where. I avoid contact with sick people. I wash my hands several times a day, especially after I get off the train. (Nothing will ever convince me they aren’t Petri dishes.) I eat healthy most of the time, I work out, and I always carry and use hand sanitizer.

Still I ended up in bed, shaking with cold even as my temperature rose. Most cold medicine is off limits to me (being brain damaged has many perks, that’s not one of them) so the only thing to do was wait out the misery. I piled comic books, novels, and my laptop on the bed. Stocked up on Gatorade and cough drops and waited.

My email chirped at me, a short story from Jami Gold appeared. It needed a beta read, and I needed distracting. A perfect fit.  Beta Reading is the wonderful experience of reading a story before it’s finished, and contributing to the perfect tale it will be someday. The beauty of these almost-there manuscripts is the way they open up your mind. With the story half or three-quarters unwritten you find yourself playing with the ideas. How should the heroine have acted? Does the hero need a flaw or two? What would I make them do differently? What the heck is a snuggery?

Jami’s short story not only grabbed me so hard I failed to notice the ever growing pile of tissues by the laptop, it inspired me to a new idea. Like most of my shiny new amazing ideas, I have no idea if it’ll be finished. (Finishing stories is the hardest thing for me.) But the back cover blurb looks something like this:

If you die with a sin on your soul, your ghost will haunt your loved ones forever, destroying everything they have and driving them mad. Unless they can find someone to purify you…

 Andra was born with the gift of purity; the touch of her hand can cleanse a soul and put it to rest or change filthy sludge to clean water. Employed by a noble house she ensures ghostly crimes never trouble the high-born. No matter how much they sin.

 Chatham doesn’t have that luxury. A whore’s son from downriver, he kills ghosts with a blessed knife and his wits. He’s never met a Purity, but he’s watched plenty of his friends die from dirty water.

 When Andra overhears a dark secret she must flee the safety of her post. Chatham’s bar is the first refuge she seeks. He hates her on principle, and she hates to ask for his help. But they’ll have to work together, the safety of their world depends on it.

Nifty, huh? And all because I was willing to Beta Read.