Beta Readers Wanted

I have finished my science fiction novel, To Sleep. I have edited it (twice) and am now going through and putting in chapter breaks. No, I don’t do them as I go. Tried that once. It was a freakin’ mess.

Which means I am in need of beta readers. The novel is roughly 96K words. And, like I said, it is a science fiction.

I am still working on the synopsis so I will put a bit here. If you are interested, email me or use the contact form. Be aware this novel has lesbians in it. And it is not very nice toward heterosexuals on the whole (I’m mad at most of y’all anyway). There are no sex scenes but there is mention of boobs and liking them. Oh, and there’s cussing. The f word flies about quite a lot. So, if none of this appeals to you, don’t volunteer. I really wanted to submit it before the GCLS con in June but I don’t see that happening (forgot I had to do a synopsis and those are things you just don’t whip together at the last minute). So I am aiming instead to submit it when I return. Therefore, I need your opinion no later than June 18th.

So what I am needing is someone to read it through and tell me how it went. Did you get thrown out of the book? Was there something that didn’t fit? Is there something missing? Was it believable? Etc etc. I am NOT looking for a “yeah, I liked it”. I am not looking for someone to edit it (unless something jumps out at you, then sure, tell me).

Below is a bit from the first chapter.

I woke up later to someone was banging on my door. I stumbled to it and looked out the peek hole to see Jose in his rainbow pajamas. I removed the chain and opened the door. “What the fuck are you doing? It’s–” I squinted at the clock. “Three a.m.”

“Comeoncomeoncomeon” He kept saying as he grabbed my hand and dragged me down the hall to his place. His apartment was one of the big ones even though it was just him. He was some sort of computer geek for some big company. He had this huge television. And I mean huge. As in my bed was smaller kind of huge. Watching football on that thing was better than being there in person.

Right then, his big ass television was showing a very tired Ray who was now in what looked like a press room. His hair was still glued in place but his eyes had dark circles under them. Someone really needed to relieve the guy. Unless this news was so big, he’d drop dead before he stepped out of the limelight.

Next to the big television were two others Jose had moved out of his office. One had the “All News, All the Time” channel and the other was on a local station. This one showed downtown Philly where cars were parked in the street and people seemed to be rioting or something.

“I knew you had to be sleeping and I waited as long as I could before waking you. You know about the asteroid or did that happen after you went to bed?”

“Last I heard, it had changed trajectories or whatever then Ray there got interrupted and there was a big ruckus.”

“Ah, well, you at least have some sort of clue. Here.” He picked up a wireless keyboard and quickly typed something in. The screen showing the news channel changed to his desktop screen then to a video. “Poor Ray is rambling through most of this so I’ll keep him on mute. That is the asteroid.” Jose looked at me to make sure I was following along.

“That’s the grainy image I saw, yes.”

“What interrupted poor Ray was telescopes and radar picked up this.”

On the screen was a slow moving white-ish blob. Jose tapped his keys and the recording sped up. As the blob came more into focus, even I could tell this was no asteroid. It was too smooth, too round. And it didn’t tumble or even rotate. It looked like a egg with the narrower end facing the camera. “Amateur astronomers were following this before the other one changed its course. This is their recording of it.” He tapped some more. “This is Spitzer-Webb looking at it.”

There were no crater pock marks on its surface. There were very little shadowing at all. “What is it?”

“This.” He clicked again and this time the image was very crystal clear. It was the biggest egg I’d ever seen. “It is stationary now. Parked itself in geocentric orbit over the Atlantic between the moon and the ISS3. The other object is slower but is coming to about the same area.”

“Ooookay. What the fuck is it?”

“Probably friends of these guys.” He tapped some more and the image changed to show two other whatevers. These were blurry again so I assumed they were either further away or were moving. “This is them an hour ago. Lemme see where they are now.” He did his thing with the keyboard and soon the image cleared. One of the objects was more arrowhead shaped, but instead of being flat, it was fluffed up with projections and angles. The other was a box. A very square box.

I couldn’t help myself. I guffawed. “The Borg?”

Jose laughed, too. “Yeah, the ‘Net is all over that theory.”

“Do I want to know whose system you are tapped into to get these images?”

“Doesn’t matter, I don’t think.”

“So, what, aliens?”

“No, dumbass, it’s the Russians.” He elbowed me. We had long debated that Russia’s continued failures to go further than the moon was because they were hiding something. They couldn’t be that bad at it. “Ray is waiting for a news conference to start. Meanwhile, the nutjobs are out in force.” He nodded toward the other small screen that showed the rioting downtown.

“Let’s show the aliens how stupid we are.” I mutter. “I probably should head to the hospital. They’re going to need all the help they can get.”

“No way. You can’t get there from here. Not even on your bike. Look.” He did some more with that magical keyboard of his and the big screen changed. Ray was put into a box in the upper middle while the rest of the view was about a dozen traffic cameras. Traffic jams, burning cars, accidents, rioting. Every road was blocked.

“Holy shit. How long has this been happening?”

“An hour or two. Like I said, I figured you’d need your sleep. Then when these things showed up, I knew it was time to wake you.”

Wake me. It seems as though I am still waking up. Something new each time I open my eyes.

See, soon after that, my alarm went off. Jose looked at me. He was kind of sad and I started to ask him why but he waved me toward my apartment. He told me I ought to go turn off my alarm and I moved to do so. Before I got to the door, I felt a buzz and it was as if I got lighter, like I’d stepped into a bees nest and they were lifting me.

Then I woke up.

Yes, Editing

Still at it. Eegads.

I just cut a huge scene (over 4000 words) and finally got the thing below 100K. It is now at 99,367. The document where I put all the cut stuff (I save everything) is just 11,680 words. Doing some math, I’ve added over 10,000 words, almost as much as I’ve cut.

This is good.

I hope it doesn’t feel choppy. It does now so I’ll need to keep an eye on that. I keep having to check stuff because things have changed. Meaning the big plot change. Pain In The Arse.

Cut:

I did not recognize the Malon at the podium. Not that I had personally met that many. Like Mother Maya, she was a woman of power. Her clothing was a dark blue with white accents. It looked very similar to the brown uniforms of the security folk. Behind her sat four others, one of which was Mother Maya. I did not see Arrogant Bitch and Secretary but I did notice the four brown uniforms nearby. The speaker waited until there was silence before she began. She had her device in front of her but never looked at it.

“I am First Captain Rema. We who are the crew of Mother Five bid you welcome. We wish we could have met under different circumstances. The ship and her crew have traveled across a large portion of the galaxy you know as the Milky Way. During our travels we have met many sentient beings. Some we have assisted, others we merely observed and reported. We have seen planets with four moons and tides with waves higher than this room. We have seen planets with two suns that gave them just two seasons. We have met species who walked on six legs and built cities that would dwarf this ship. We have met species with mouths with four rows of teeth yet sang songs that would make us weep. This ship and her crew have visited your solar system on a regular basis as it is part of our route, for lack of a better word. When it was decided someone needed to be watching you more consistently, Mother Five volunteered with enthusiasm. For over fifty of your years, we have watched humanity in both its beauty and its horror. It is good to finally meet you in person.

Untangling the Twisted Plot

Oy. What fun I am having. Not.

Still working on fixing the plot issue. It is going well, just tedious as I take out scenes or cut them up. I’ve taken out over 6,000 words so far. Not too bad but the bigger chunks are coming.

And the novel is still growing. Even with the words cut, it still is higher than when I finished. 103,810. I added in a scene so that helped. I need to read it over to make sure the seams fit.

Meanwhile, I am going to be buying my plane ticket for the Golden Crown Literary Society’s conference. Yay! I am looking forward to it. Except for the flying part. Me flying is a big adventure due to all the equipment and crap. And the flight times are so very strange. I can leave Minneapolis at 5am, 7am, or 5pm. So get there 2hrs ahead of time….what a PITA. But the Con looks like it will be fun. There’s some workshops I am looking forward to. As usual, there’s several workshops I want to attend but are at the same time. Never fails, does it?

Edit Snag

I got nearly done with the first edits when a discussion with Precious brought up a flaw in the plot. And, of course, it is an integral part of the plot. And, of course, it is in the beginning. Which means some major re-writing.

So I am thinking of ways of how to fix it. For once, it’s a problem with not enough tension vs too much. What an odd problem for me.

Even with the cutting I am doing, the dang thing continues to grow. Right now it is at 101,936. Bigger than when I said the end.

Some of the growth is from where I rewrote a bit in the beginning. Chapter One is always my most difficult. In BGCFA, the first two chapters were dropped completely after the book was bought. They just didn’t move the story forward. In this book, I actually added a Prologue that is actually more of an epilogue. Ah, foreshadowing tastes so sweet.

Still Editing, Sigh

Well, I cut a big chunk out. Just under 4000 words. The story will survive without it but it still hurt.

The wordcount dipped quite a bit for a while but it now has grown back to over 98,000 words. It ended with 371 pages and is now 365. So, not too bad but there’s still time for me to kill it.

My goal is to finish the edits at no less than 95K. And to finish it soon. I’m pushing myself to get this done and submitted.

Not sure if I will be seeking beta readers or not.

Here’s some of what I cut. I may still use it, not sure.

The horticulture center used a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture to grow the plants. Basically this meant the plants were not in soil but in water. This water was filtered by live fish in a huge tank. Their water, containing all sorts of nutrients in the form of fish poop and a substance the fish produced from several glands located behind their gills, was sent to the plants. Basically. Julie could explain it much better but I was just in awe of the live fish. They were the size of an adult trout, but all similarities stopped there. Their scales were not flat against their bodies but protruded out and acted like cilia by assisting in propelling them through the water. They had fins that were as close to arms and hands as a fish could get, I suppose.

I knew Malons were vegans so I knew the fish were not eaten. However, Frankie didn’t know this or had forgotten. “What do they taste like?”

The horticulture specialist looked like Frankie had just asked her what her child tasted like. I started to explain but a voice came out over a speaker near the tank. “Friend, we are not consumable.”

We all just froze still in place. “Did that fish just speak?”

“No, I did.” One of them, the largest, swam to the end of the tank where we stood. The others arranged themselves behind him. Her. Whatever. “We are a sentient species and it is considered quite rude to consume a fellow explorer.”

(…)

“I apologize greatly for my error.” Frankie got down on her knees so she was even with the fish.

“Apology accepted. Put your hand in our water so that we may know you.”

Frankie, with only slight hesitation, stood on her tiptoes and put her hand in the water. The big fish and several others came up and, I guess, sniffed her hand. The others swam away but the big one suddenly bit Frankie’s pinkie finger. A large amount of blood could be seen in the water. Frankie grimaced but did not remove her hand.

“You are in us now. You are, in our ways, one of us.”

The horticulture specialist was again shocked but she had the presence of mind to have Frankie remove her hand and wrap it in a cloth. Mona tapped something on her device. “Interesting. They injected you with a numbing compound to help with the pain. I have instructed the nanites to regrow the tip of your finger. You will not feel it at all.”

Frankie’s eyes got real big. I don’t think she knew how much the fish had bitten. I think it was Mona’s calm that kept her from cussing up a blue streak. Instead, she started grinning and turned back to the tank. “So, how do I taste?”

If fish could laugh, these fish would have been rolling on the rocks. “To use a human phrase, you taste like chicken.” Once we stopped laughing, the fish invited us to come to the larger tank and swim with them. They promised to not bite anyone else. I think Frankie was going to take them up on the offer. The rest of us were not interested that much.

Still Editing

When I do the first round of edits, I basically am re-reading the thing. I take out what doesn’t belong (will it kill the story to have this out?) and add clarity where it is murky. I’m not looking for spelling errors or punctuation. That comes later. The hard part is not getting caught up in the story and forget what I am doing. That’s why I let them sit for a few weeks between saying The End and when I start the editing.

Editing To Sleep has so far been surprisingly easy. I already know what bits are getting cut. I haven’t gotten to that point yet. I am on page 22 of 371. And, surprisingly, the word count isn’t dropping. It is actually increasing. I find that odd. The beginning is actually the worst bit of the thing so that’s where a lot of hacking and slashing takes place. I’ve not done that yet.

Meanwhile, I am also still working in Harri’s story, Butch Girls: Stereotype This. It’s not pretty and I keep telling myself to just keep writing it and see what happens. So, I am. Little bits at a time. And it is interesting how it is going. My other attempts to write this had Harri and Liz (the romantic interest) always bickering and getting mad at each other. But this time they are both a little calmer and the conflicts Liz has is all in her head (as in she is thinking of it, not talking aloud about it). I hated the bickering so I’m glad that aspect is gone! Maybe that’s why they feel so flat.

I Hate Editing, But….

I do. But for some reason, I’m not as fearful of it as I have been in the past.

I started editing To Sleep (aka The Watchers) today. I just could not leave it alone any longer. I feel…alive with it. As if I am actually a writer.

Somewhere, before I started the edits, I gained over 500 words. So, I started the edits with a document of 100,858 words and, after several hours of editing (but only getting to page 13), it is 100,854 words. Ha. Take that, edit demon!

Alas, I am going to cut a huge chunk fairly soon so, I can only waller in it for so long.