I like taking a literary approach to genre works like fantasy, sci fi, and supernatural horror and seeing what comes of it.
Six months since my last blog entry, my last review, my last Goodreads comment. When I write it out like that, it seems like a long time, a solid chunk of the past to set behind me. I hoped it might be long enough for me to get some clarity, but the concerns I laid out in my last blog post have not been resolved, just swept under the rug. Regardless, it's high time I moved forward with my writing and my reviews. I won't take down my old stuff on GR, but it doesn't seem right to continue creating content in support of a place so lacking in trust and communication. You'll be able to find my new reviews here at my BookLikes account, and I will post status updates on Goodreads to let folks know when I've come up with a fresh one (I have a few to catch up on). I'll also still be responding to personal messages there, as well as here, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, what have I been doing for six months? Traveling the country, visiting friends and family, recording music, taking long walks in the woods, going to concerts, enjoying the Spring weather, reading, playing games, practicing survival techniques--everything and nothing. I have done a little editing on my manuscript, here and there, but my book has actually been in a finished form for some time now. Now I'm finally ready for the next step: a call to beta readers. So, for all of you who have been asking over the past few years when you'll be able to actually read my book, here we go.
First, I'll briefly go through the process of writing and editing a book for anyone unfamiliar, then let you all know where you fit in. While writing, an author will probably have a few people reading chapters as they are written--usually their significant other, their editor, and any consultants on things like scientific or historical details. These are the 'alpha readers', the first step in the process of editing the book. Then, when the book is in a mostly finished state, having an end and all the other requisite parts, the author sends the book out to 'beta readers', who are a wider group of readers, usually made up of friends, fellow writers, prospective publishers, and literary critics. These beta readers give their notes to the author, who completes their final draft, then sends the book to be published.
I am now ready to tender the current draft of my novel to beta readers, especially individuals with knowledge of Victorian literature and history, colonial literature, Hindu culture, and early science fiction like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells--though I also want readers who know nothing about these things, in order to get back a variety of opinions and observations. Now, it's important for each of you to decide whether you want to read the book as a beta reader, in its current rough state, or wait until the finished version. Either way is perfectly fine with me, the choice is totally up to you, my readers. If you're unsure what to do, feel free to message me with any concerns or questions.
If you do decide you'd like to be a beta reader for me, the following suggestions should give you some idea of what I'd like you to look out for in my book:
Those are the nitpicky bits, but I'm also interested in comments and suggestions on all aspects of the book, including structure, plot, characters, relationships, pacing, formatting, tone, writing style, symbolic language, and all the other aspects of writing. Really, anything that comes to mind is welcome. I've also considered the suggestion of adding footnotes to the book to define some of the more esoteric words and phrases and untangle some of the references, so any feedback on this idea is also welcome--along with notes letting me know which words and phrases in the book you wish had been footnoted.
I'm also considering starting a discussion group for my beta readers, in the style of a book club, so that you will be able to communicate your thoughts to and ask questions of others as you read. I would plan to make one area where I, as the author, would never intrude, since honest communication is such a vital part of any editing process, as well as a section where readers can bring up points, engage in discussion, and ask me direct questions. Let me know if you would like this to be a part of your experience.
You can also view some sample chapters of the book here, which may help you to determine whether you actually want to read it at all. I must warn that this is unapologetically a book in the Victorian style: it's quite long and involved, full of odd words and references, somewhat episodic in structure, and very focused on the internal lives of the characters. That being said, it's also full of death and sex and explosions, adventures and strange locales, secret plots and even the rare attempt at humor. I've taken inspiration from many of the period books I've been reading over the past few years, including Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, Ambrose Bierce, M.R. James, and numerous others--not to say that I imagine myself to be like those authors, but without them, my book could not exist. This style is not everyone's cup of tea, so I'd understand perfectly if some of you decided to take a pass on this one.
Lastly, there are some legal concerns, which I know will strike fear and confusion into the hearts of any non-Americans out there. This project represents a fair amount of time spent and ideas committed, so I'm making sure to dot my i's and cross my t's. I've been working with a lawyer friend to iron out copyright details as I get ready to publish, so there is a little disclaimer at the front of the book, similar to the 'click yes' agreement one often sees when installing computer programs.. It basically says you won't steal my ideas, pirate my book, plagiarize from it, or publish it and claim it as your own. Of course, you're free to check out the details of the agreement, yourself, when you receive your copy. Anyone not comfortable with accepting such terms is free to wait until the book is published for a general audience.
So, if there are any of you still out there, please let me know if you're interested in being a beta reader, whether through my email, on Goodreads or here. I can offer the book in various electronic formats, including Kindle, Nook, and many others, so be sure to specify which would be most convenient for you. Currently, printing out hard copies is prohibitively expensive, but my ebook can also be formatted to be read on any computer, tablet, or smartphone.