Reader Spotlight: Keene the Poker-Faced Scottish Horror Loving Master of Systems Technology
In the Reader Spotlight series we ask our smart, diverse and multi-talented readers what makes them tick, and what they're seeing in Spun Yarn manuscripts. Our readers span the gamut of literary taste, so expect to see a little bit of everything!
In his day job, Keene manages all of the software systems for Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources, with more than 200 distinct locations and more than 3,200 users! For fun, Keene plays Backgammon and poker, and of course, reads books. He goes to Backgammon tournaments around the country, and has earned quite a few trophies over the years. Poker is a new thing for Keene, and he considers himself to be ‘quite fishy’. While Keene loves Fantasy and Historical Fiction, he's also one of our best Horror readers!
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The Spun Yarn: Can you tell us something unusual about yourself?
Keene: I live in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, but I was born and bred in Edinburgh, Scotland, and only moved here to the USA in 2004.
The Spun Yarn: (Readers, please imagine Keene answering this next question in a Scottish accent). Why did you start reading for The Spun Yarn?
Keene: I love to read, and I really want to make a positive contribution to people: to support them, empower them, add whatever value I can to people. Like I say in technology terms – systems will come and go. The only constant we have is people, and they are critical to our success. The same applies to writers and the arts. Styles may come and go, techniques may change, but the people are the keys to the greatness of the work. I want to be a part of that, and to do whatever I can to support the creators of the written word.
The Spun Yarn: You articulate so well what all of our readers are trying to do. This is why we love you guys, and why our authors do too. So what's the most surprising experience you've had as a Spun Yarn reader?
Keene: I recently read a manuscript that made me want to re-evaluate some of my previous critiques. Any work that moves me to do that has both surprised me, and stirred my mind in a manner that is truly wonderful. When we are inspired, that is the most wonderful experience.
The Spun Yarn: What are some of the things that you comment on in Spun Yarn manuscripts, or put another way, how are you trying to help authors make their WIPs even better?
Keene: I’m sure I share many traits with other Spun Yarn readers, but one thing I look for is whether story threads are tied up appropriately. Are they too open ended? Was the character developed appropriately enough for that thread? Are the characters believable? Were the actions reasonable? If your main character is flawless in their approach, if they never fail, how is that interesting to a reader? How do I feel after reading the manuscript? Do I feel satisfied? Angry? Happy? Sad? Was I emotionally moved? Was I mentally challenged? Did you immerse me in your story? So many things! In fact, ask me what I'd say to an aspiring writer.
The Spun Yarn: Sure, we'll play. What would you say to an aspiring writer?
Keene: if you have a story to tell, if there is an idea that stirs you and compels you to write, the only way you can fail is to not write it. You need to share it with the world. How can anybody enjoy it if it never leaves your mind? Get your figurative pen out, and just pour it out, from your mind to our eyes. Let there be nothing left unsaid. I don’t care if it's two thousand or two hundred thousand words. Just tell your tale.
The Spun Yarn: We couldn't have said it better. This is why we do what we do: to help authors get their stories into the world.