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Old Aug 31 2009, 12:36 AM   #1
D. M. Domini
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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.)

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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 be...hm, 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 maso...er, curious and helpful enough to want to give it a whack?

Reply here with your email, send me a PM, or email me at dmgauger@gmail.com.

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

Quote:
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.

Wink.

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.

Figures.

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.
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Old Aug 31 2009, 09:53 AM   #2
AnnMarie
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Okay, just from my perspective...I DO hope you aren't using Satanist and witch as interchangable. They aren't. Not all Satanists practice magic (especially if they belong to LeVey's group) and most witches ARE NOT Satanists.

How's the faun hiding cloven feet and hairy goat legs?
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Old Aug 31 2009, 10:58 AM   #3
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I'm just wondering if perhaps maybe Raul's doing the "Chinese bound feet" syndrome - could explain it as such and get away with it. Torturous and extremely cruel as it was to Chinese women, it was a fact of life up until recently that women had their feet bound so tightly, simply because it was considered fashionable at the time. Like many other things, people didn't consider it to be torture although we now know it was and still is. Me personally, I wouldn't intentionally go out and do that to someone, regardless of what the majority have to say about it. I like my hoofers the way they are but it's possible to explain the hooves and get away with it if using alternative shoes.
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Old Aug 31 2009, 07:21 PM   #4
D. M. Domini
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So...I take it nobody actually wants a manuscript emailed to them?

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Originally Posted by AnnMarie View Post
Okay, just from my perspective...I DO hope you aren't using Satanist and witch as interchangable. They aren't. Not all Satanists practice magic (especially if they belong to LeVey's group) and most witches ARE NOT Satanists.
No need to preach to the choir. Catalina is not Wiccan. She is a practicing Satanist (not really affiliated with any of the formal groups, although her personal form of it is influenced by Anton LaVey and his philosophies). She is also a witch in the fantasy form of the word--she can cast real spells and curses. (That wasn't made clear in the text above?) Two different words for two different facts about her--her religion, and her type of magical talent.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by your response...I did phrase things in a purposely...attention-getting way. But I hoped the humor in Raul's narrative voice...I mean, he's making snide remarks about people's ASSUMPTIONS about rural folks all being hicks...would give me a chance.

I do address a LOT of things about words, terminology, religion vs. magic, and culture vs. subculture in this book. It's part of the reason I set things up as I do.

Quote:
How's the faun hiding cloven feet and hairy goat legs?
Jube is close. Raul is not actually exactly a faun as the mythology goes. His feet are not cloven; they're like a prehistoric horse's, with three toes that each have a hoof on the end. If you look at any digitigrade animal (that is, one that walks on their toes, like a cat, or dog, or horse) they're...well, walking on their TOES. Raul crams his feet into really long shoes (he's teased about having clown feet), sort of pads them so they "fit", and walks on his hock like it's a heel so that the body line from his hip to "foot" looks normal.

It's not particularly pleasant for him to do this, as hocks are not meant to be used as heels, and a few books down the line once he actually hits his mature growth it'll cause some issues.

When he goes barefoot, he "gains" six to twelve inches (I...haven't really measured his hocks, and he's a growing boy...) since he walks on his toes as is most comfortable for him.

Hiding hairy legs is easy...just put on some freakin' pants, dude!

I address these issues later on in the story, including Raul's body issues where he refuses to wear shorts or go swimming or anything that will expose his hairy legs...but since you asked...there's the info.
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Old Sep 4 2009, 10:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnMarie View Post
Okay, just from my perspective...I DO hope you aren't using Satanist and witch as interchangable. They aren't. Not all Satanists practice magic (especially if they belong to LeVey's group) and most witches ARE NOT Satanists.
Agreed. Anyone who claims to actually worship and/or talk to Satan or devils are not Satanists; they're cracked. For instance, LaVeyan Satanists use Satan as a symbol of humanity's base desires. Even Theistic Satanism might not be as bad as it sounds. It's cool that Catalina is who she is, but a more clear definition might work best, right up front, even though you'll be covering that in the story.

Anyway, Domini, I'll have a lookie if you'd like. ^n_n^
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