Thread: Original fiction: Looking for betas?
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Old Aug 30 2009, 11:36 PM   #1
D. M. Domini
D. M. Domini's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Chicagoland

Fan of: Afra Lyon, and Robinton!
Now Reading: Sabriel by Garth Nix
Looking for betas?

Hello guys.

I am looking for one or two people who might be interested in doing a light beta for one of my original works-in-progress. I say "light" beta because I'm not looking for spelling/punctuation/grammer/line edits--this is a draft and I don't want to essentially waste anyone's time on areas that I know have changes and polishes incoming.

I'm looking more for reactions--does a scene work? Do you like the characters or do they bore/anger/irritate you? Is my "voice" and narration too girly? Does Raul "sound" like a girl wrote him? (Some authors make it very easy to tell a girl wrote their books...I wish to avoid that if possible.) Or does he have some hint of masculinity left in him (poor guy!)?

The story itself is an urban fantasy. For kicks, here's the blurb I wrote on it when testing my hands at queries--it's broadly representative of the story, but perhaps presents it more shallowly than I intend it to turn out. (I'm not very good at blurbing/querying/synopsis-ing my stuff. Heck, I can't even sort out which term is which, yet.)

Growing up in rural Illinois without being known as a faun wasn't the easiest thing for Raul Akelarre to manage, not when the tight-knit community meant everybody knew everybody else and most of their dirtiest secrets as well. Nor was it made easier by his mother, who was a mercurial-tempered Satanic witch bent on integrating herself and her business with America's upper class like a chic, female Rasputin.

Still, even with dubious parenting and a poor range of appropriate role models (he didn't think the historical drunken pagan god Pan counted, nor Mr. Tumnus of Narnia, who was last seen running around naked with a little girl), Raul managed to be good. Most of the time. And he managed to keep his eyes off of women. Well, actually not, but the brain-mouth filter kicked in quickly enough to preserve the illusion that he was a nice young man.

In AMERICAN GOETIA, a defaced birthday cake is the first domino in a cascade of events that sweep Raul out of his odd, but relatively stable life into a larger world where the last vestiges of magic are struggling to survive. In a time-delayed lock-step with him, Amelia Alexriel, his mother's best friend, flees from the demands of a mysterious old woman trying to call in an ancient debt. Sensing her time is short, and Raul's uncertain, Amelia carries on a brief secret affair with Raul, but leaves things unresolved--which breaks his heart, when a few months later she is murdered.

Now Raul must step out on the world stage alone, to discover the identity of Amelia's murderer, meet demon lords and faerie queens, and to play his part in the collapse of the old regime of magic and usher in a new era of AMERICAN GOETIA.
The story is...potentially darker and more adult than my AMC fanfic. It's not pure smut or porn, nor gratuitous on the violence end, but I go a few places that I wouldn't in an AMC fanfic. I tend to, honest about sex and sexuality. Which, depending on the reader, might be too much (or, alternately, not enough). I tend to be cheerful about it too, it's closer to Cute Smut than anything else when it gets somewhat smutty, and I can't help but think of Heinlein and his Cheerfully!Lecherous!Incestuous!Line families in his later books. (I didn't intend this, the story just sort of crept this way.)

I'm currently on Draft Five, 18k in. (Draft four is over 90k, and about half done, so the story is looking like it'll end up long and needing cuts.) Like I said, it's a work-in-progress, but I find that at the moment I'm severely second-guessing myself on some scenes, second-guessing myself on certain balances, and I need one or two people who would be up to reading stuff when I send it, and answer questions that I bounce off of them.

Anyone, curious and helpful enough to want to give it a whack?

Reply here with your email, send me a PM, or email me at

Here's the opener of the story, for kicks:

Raul - 1

There's a place in rural Illinois in the cornfields between Chicago and Champaign where if you asked the locals if they believed in the supernatural, they would tell you that they knew a Satanist that made devil's food cake that was positively demonic. And they'd grin a little when saying it. If pressed, they'd roll their eyes and tell you you've been watching too many Hollywood films if you believed everyone living the rural life was a backwards illiterate hick. The internet brings everyone together and spreads information and knowledge, don't cha know? And so what if most of the internet connections are still dial up--since DSL is impossible and cable isn't laid down yet, and might never be? It just means it takes a bit longer to pirate the latest country and western song.


There really was a Satanist around who made a mean devil's cake. My mother.

"Oh. So you're not going to pay?"

I stopped, my hands on my car keys, and pricked my ears. When clients decided not to pay...things could get interesting. I didn't get the impression that we needed the money these days...but clients wimping out on the money front made Mom furious as a matter of principle.

The principle being that she was a witch.

Clients didn't always believe it, so Mom had cultivated her showmanship along with her witchcraft; if her clients didn't actually need a curse or blessing to fix things, she could consult as their pet mystic or psychic--or act like a modern-day Rasputin--so that they would get their "money's worth" in entertainment, if not magical goods.

It's not as shady as it could be; Mom can produce the goods if they really want it. And if they don't, and prefer to be thrilled by a show...better that they give their money to her than to a real fraud.

I walked through the kitchen and poked my head into her workroom, intending to see if I could hear more about the conversation. Summer had begun, and I was already bored. Mom noticed me getting too close though, and shut the door in my face.

One of those clients. So hush-hush not even her son could know.


So I swiped my keys off the kitchen counter and set out on today's task: picking up Mom's birthday cake.

Because not even a Satanist witch who excelled at baking the most cruelly delicious devil's food treats should be forced to make her own birthday cake.
Read my Pern and Talent fanfic on Archive of our Own.

Fanfic WIPs: The Day Benden Went to War (Pern/Talent); Slosh (Pern); Weyrbred Lads (Pern); When You Fall Asleep /Between/... (Pern)

Completed Fics: Flight (Pern), Flight v2 (Pern), Golden Glow (Pern)

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