Open Call to Beta-Readers

Open Call to Beta-Readers

A while back, I finished working on a piece of short fiction called Dreadful Concoction—the sequel to my short story, “Philosophy and Salt”—and I’m finally ready to make it available to beta-readers.  And it’s pretty important that I get beta-readers for this one.  (More on that below.)  More recently, I’ve just finished working on a stand-alone sci-fi short entitled “Lung.”

I’d like to put out an open call to beta-readers for both “Lung” and Dreadful Concoction, as well as re-open “Philosophy and Salt” for new beta-readers or any of my previous beta-readers who didn’t get a chance to see it the first time around.

To anyone who is potentially interested in beta-reading, I’ve written below some important details about each story, including information regarding trigger/content warnings, as these stories (particularly Dreadful Concoction) have some pretty vital ones.  If you have questions about any of the stories, feel free to contact me for more details or clarifications.

“Lung”

A stand-alone (that is, not related to “Philosophy and Salt”, Dreadful Concoction, or any of my other works) science-fiction/adventure short story set in a world that has been shrouded from sunlight for centuries.  The story details the main character Ain’s first day of exile on the sunless surface of her planet, trying to survive the dark alone but for her oxygen tank that holds a genetically-engineered plant with which she exchanges breath, battling off hostile remnants of technology left on the surface from when it was still habitable by humans.

“Lung” clocks in at almost exactly 7,000 words.  Trigger warnings for readers with nyctophobia, agoraphobia, or claustrophobia (of the “fear of asphyxiation” variety).

 “Philosophy and Salt:  Exorcist’s Folly”

When an important captain’s son is possessed by the spirit of a salt demon attempting to consume his life force, the necromancer Lenuţa Svatava is called in to fix an exorcism-gone-wrong.  Fixated on the baffling incompetence of the exorcist responsible for the disaster, Lenuţa agrees to resolve the issue in exchange for a pardon for the object of his fascination.  Thus, Lenuţa sets out into a watery wilderness with his skeletal companion, Ivanka, to hunt down and wax philosophical with salt demons.

Since Dreadful Concoction is a sequel, I’ll be opening up the whole series for beta-readers, so anyone who is interested that hasn’t read the first story before will have a chance to catch up.  Also, to account for the fact that this is a series, I’ve altered the titles of the works somewhat.  Philosophy and Salt will be the name of the series as a whole, with the original story retitled “Philosophy and Salt: Exorcist’s Folly”, and the sequel Philosophy and Salt: Dreadful Concoction.  (I expect that, out of habit, I will still casually refer to them by their original titles.)  Point is, if you are interested in reading either or both of these stories, you can request either or both at your leisure.  Although there are references to the events of the original “Philosophy and Salt” in Dreadful Concoction, either story should read well enough on its own.

This story comes with trigger warnings for portrayals of misogyny and casual cissexism, as well as blood and gore.  “Philosophy and Salt: Exorcist’s Folly” is dark fantasy and 8,800 words in length.

Philosophy and Salt: Dreadful Concoction

And I’ll finish with this one, since I have quite a bit to say about this project.

Hired again for his necromantic abilities, Lenuţa Svatava is tasked with uncovering the mystery behind an undead horde infesting the ruins of a curious buried temple, accompanied by a simple excavator, Marizzi.  When Lenuţa and Marizzi begin to find signs that a rival necromancer is behind the strange event, Lenuţa thinks back to a previous job where he was hired to eliminate another practitioner of his craft, a man named Sabino who had abusing an alchemical creation he referred to as a Love Potion.  Although his current target clearly operates with superior skill than Sabino, memories of the past job plague Lenuţa as he and Marizzi delve deeper into the buried temple, leading them closer to the source of the undead infestation and explanations to the temple’s many oddities.

The topic of sexual assault/rape features pretty heavily in Dreadful Concoction.  While there is no on-page depiction or any detailed descriptions of such events, mentions of one character’s rape come up fairly often, along with depictions and descriptions of the social injustices that are heaped upon her in wake of the crime.  There is also some brief mention of sexual violence being employed as a tool of oppression against trans men, specifically.  Perhaps not surprisingly, other forms of misogyny and cissexism are portrayed in the story, as well.

Sexual violence and anti-woman and/or anti-trans violence are not topics I touch on much in my writing—it’s not exactly fun to write about, and I feel there’s only so much that can be said about it that’s worth saying—and my intention with including it in this story is not to exploit tragedy (as it so often is used in fiction), but to hold bystanders and rape culture accountable.  The last thing I want to write is a story that sensationalizes rape so readers can nod along when the narration tells them how So Very Evil it is, telling themselves that they’re good people for acknowledging that while at the same time finding entertainment in watching a woman being brutalized.  I don’t want to be that sort of writer that relies on that lazy, misogynistic nonsense, so it’s important to me that I get some feedback from beta-readers about how the topic is handled in the story—any commentary on aspects that are problematic and could stand to be changed.

Of course, I also want potential beta-readers to know what to expect, so they can make their own informed decisions about whether or not they want to approach this story at all.  Again, if anyone needs more information or details, feel free to contact me, and I will clarify as best I can.  (I will respond to these inquiries privately, if you prefer, or you can ask anonymously through Tumblr.)  Additionally, like its predecessor, this story contains scenes involving significant amounts of blood and gore.

As for the more technical story details, Dreadful Concoction is a dark fantasy novella that stands at 21,000 words.  (That comes out to about 65 pages for how I have it formatted.)

Request Beta

If you’re interested in beta-reading any of these works, send me a note (either by email or through my Tumblr ask box) letting me know which stories you’d like to read and whether you’d like them sent in Word doc or PDF format.

If you’re contacting me by email: send your request to gowerbeta@gmail.com, and please include your name somewhere in the request, so I have an identity to associate with your email address.  (For my previous beta-readers, this step isn’t necessary, unless you got a new email address recently.)

If you’re contacting me through my ask box: please tell me your email address, so I can actually send the works to you.

If you want to provide any feedback, reactions, impressions, etc. you have after you’ve read the works, email me back at gowerbeta@gmail.com  or send your responses to me through my ask box.  Thanks in advance to anyone willing to help me out with this; I appreciate it so much.

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