In the off chance that any of my reader(s) are interested, I thought I would throw out a request:
Anyone want to be a ‘beta reader‘ for my erotic romance thriller?
At the beginning of this year I started to think about how I could try and turn my weekday afternoons (weekends being ‘lost’ to construction) into something that could generate some income. Since I can type fast (60+ wpm) and like to tell stories I thought that perhaps I should investigate creative writing. It turns out there are a handful of places that pay for short stories, one, Tor.com, actually pays up to 25 cents/word (others 5-8). Of course, after review/editing I wouldn’t be outputting 60 wpm, but I decided to think about it during my too-ing and fro-ing from work. I came up with a story based on the question: “What if the light speed ‘barrier’ was irrelevant due to longevity?” so set out writing about an astronomer who detected a faint signal from a long-living being who has been ‘racing’ around the galaxy trying to catch up with a technological civilization before it was lost to self destruction or the singularity. My most natural writing style is ‘intense’ first person (based on the ‘intense third person‘ style of one of my favorite authors). When I read I like that style (the “Stainless Steel Rat” books are written much the same way) and since it was easy for me when I wrote, I decided to go with it.
So, my first effort was hard science fiction, the few reviewers I got feedback from were mixed so I sort of stalled (my intent was a series of short stories) and thought about other ideas. One I came up with was also scifi, the idea of a ‘travelogue’ where the narrator travels the solar system at the point in the future where there is a substantial population scattered about, actual space stations with 100’s of thousands of people, regular space-based industry, etc. I wasn’t expecting much in the way of any plot, it would be mostly an excuse for me to fantasize about how I would like things to be and what I had intended to work towards when I was young and full of optimism (before I became a cynical old man bitter about society). I never got any words written on this topic (I got about 5K words (assuming 250 words/page, about 20 pages) on the “Starfarer’s Journal”), so I started to think about another idea: what about telling the story of a contract killer from his point of view? I set about writing a character sketch for my development purposes but that sucker got out of control and wound up being nearly 6,700 words. Quite thin on plot, suspense, etc., it was a character sketch after all, but the little feedback I got seemed to indicate it had promise and the concept had a tight hold on my brain and was keeping me awake at night, so I decided to put some time in it.
I had done some research on what sort of stories sold the most and it seems that romance is king. Thrillers are a close second, so I thought, why not a romantic thriller? I had my protagonist established as having a particular fascination with a specific spy he had met, I could tell a story about how they met. That work was flowing fairly easily for me, I pounded out 12K words in next to no time. I found myself extending one of the romance scenes into an erotic one (it sure was fun to write, let me tell you! The visions floating in my head ‘disturbed’ me for days, nay, weeks afterwards). I did some research and found that erotic romance was indeed a genera and things got sliced and diced to the point that erotic romance thriller is actually a considered sub category large enough to talk about. Again I sought feedback, but found things even more difficult. At this point I have feedback from one person: my aunt who used to be in the publishing ‘biz. I may have offended her, though, as I felt much of her feedback related to my stylistic choice of intense first person and deliberately leaving explanations for some activity later, or not at all. As I started working on a follow-up story I started to think that I might have a novel in me. It seems getting a novel published is a huge pain in the ass and rarely pays well, but my ‘short’ stories were already at the limit of what magazines would consider, so I figured I could explore this route. My second section has reached close to 10K words and I have outlines for a couple of other sections that make me optimistic that reaching the debut novel length of 75-80K words is quite achievable.
The problem I have is I don’t like to work for no reason. I like my effort to have meaning, so when writing, I want readers (when programming, I want users). I have been running low on motivation lately (though my wife read the first section and said she couldn’t put it down, she has been conspicuously silent every time I have asked her to read my second section) because I can’t get feedback (beyond my aunt, who I think I may have alienated). I have found some sites that appear to put authors in touch with ‘beta readers’ and think I will pursue that angle. However, I figured I would at least let my dear reader(s) know about my efforts in case they want to get involved. I will be developing a password protected web site where I can post my works-in-progress and will provide the link and username/password to anyone interested in taking a look. All together at this point I have about 38K words written, though only about 28K of that is to the point I want to show it to someone (the thriller clocks in at about 22K words so far). The kind of feedback I am looking for is: is my writing interesting enough to pay for or is it tripe and I have already wasted too much time on it? In particular for my erotic romance thriller, is it thrilling? Romantic? Should I bother with the erotic bits? (Meaning, does my writing turn you on? Does it fit within the story?). I hope to have the site set up in a week or two (I experimented yesterday and believe I can fairly trivially set up the secure, password protected site, what I need now is a way to convert my Google docs into the sort of HTML layout I have in mind), then I am going to seek feedback. If that feedback is not supportive, then I will probably just remove the password protection and leave it as-is and try something else with my few spare hours. If the feedback appears positive, then I will continue writing and then make the decision to seek a publisher or self publish (there are pros and cons for each method), perhaps with feedback from my reader community.
So, any interest? If so, email me at mitakeet [at] gmail [dot] com