Just kidding, there is no application. But I do need beta readers! I’m almost 1/3 of the way into the first book of my next series, and I’m looking for volunteers to read an advanced copy (e-book only). I’d love to have a group of readers to provide comments on grammar, spelling, format and accuracy of text, and another group to provide comments on actual content, dialogue, plot, etc. My plan is to have it ready for you in August or September; but there will be a working deadline of about 3 weeks. If you are interested, please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll put you on the list. When the manuscript is ready, I’ll send out e-mails double checking your availability. Unfortunately, there won’t be any monetary compensation, but I’ll of course send you a final e-book in the format of your choice, and if you run a blog I can sponsor an e-book giveaway.
The series is a young adult eco-fantasy. Here is the first chapter, just to give you a taste (posted before, but have since made a few changes):
She looks behind her. There is time; the beast isn’t yet in her sight. She slows down enough to slip off the shoes. The beast takes the corner too fast as well. When Serena hears the skidding, she turns and throws one of her shoes. A miss. The beast scrambles to get his legs under him and lunges for her. She throws the other shoe, nailing him in the nose. Serena laughs out loud, then resumes her steady running pace.
“I thought werewolves were faster than this!” she yells over her shoulder.
She doesn’t know if he can understand speech in his animal form, but he is angry. His growls tell her so. Her legs brush past the sharp, thick shrubbery outlining the path. Shallow cuts crisscross over her otherwise smooth, white skin.
Next to come off is her shirt. She throws it behind her, only stopping to watch the beast tear madly at his own face, where the shirt lands. unclasps the button on her skirt, but has to throw it backwards over her head as she runs. The beast is on the move again. He dodges the clothing, finally learning what to expect.
Serena breaks through the tree line at her fastest pace yet, feet sinking into soft sand and slowing her down. The wolf is close; she can smell his foul breath. The thing snaps at her, almost reaching the tresses of her black, curly hair. Werewolf spit flings forward onto her shoulder. “Gross!”
The beast is faster on the sand. Serena does not expect that. The greedy thing doesn’t even wait until he has a sure kill. He swipes at her when the long reach of his paw is close enough. The gash causes Serena to falter, and she stumbles in the sand. Trying to avoid the yellow razor-like gnashing teeth, Serena rolls. The beast rolls with her, unwilling to let go of his prey. In the split second he is on top, Serena pushes up and out with her powerful legs. The werewolf yelps as he spins, head over tail, into the water.
Rough waves topple over the beast as he struggles to get on his feet. The ocean pushes and pulls, becoming stronger and stronger, as if it is working against the werewolf. Serena laughs again, delighted to see the mighty creature out of his element, and into hers. He drags himself out of the water, weighed down by his thick, matted fur and gasping for breath. Serena passes him, keeping a wary eye out. Welcoming waves reach out to her, drawing her into their frothy grip.
Once he is ankle deep, the werewolf shakes his fur, ridding himself of the salty sea water. He looks out into the ocean, and spots his prey bobbing up and down with the waves, well beyond his reach. He turns his head toward the full moon and howls.
It is an ear-piercing noise that makes Serena cringe. She flicks her freshly formed fins, spraying water onto the hound. His howl ends with a sharp yelp.
Serena turns, flinging her body up then down again, diving into the cold, dark water.
* * *
Thanks for reading and let me know what you think!
I am currently undertaking the daunting task of reading my entire novel out loud to myself. As I’ve discovered with my vampire short story series, and even the second book to the Akasha Series, ‘Air’, this method works wonders for catching hard to spot grammar/spelling mistakes and awkward sentences. Although ‘Water’ has been on the market since September 2011, I haven’t yet put it through this process. I have vowed to have this done by the time we go to Canada for our kid’s spring break trip (better get a move on because that is next week). Anyway, by the time I finished reading the first chapter out loud, I decided it needed a complete rework.
Whether you have read ‘Water’ yet or not, I would very much appreciate your input on the short 637 word excerpt below. Does it grab your attention? Do you want to find out more? Does the dragon analogy work? If you have read ‘Water’, should I just stick with what is already there? Please leave your comments and thank you!!!
I leaned forward. The board strapped to my boots responded. Slicing through the fresh powder, I made a sharp curve to the right. A quick glance uphill showed the wave of snow had almost tripled in size, and it was about to catch up to me.
More than anything else, it was the noise that pumped me full of adrenaline. Like the roar of an angry, unrelenting dragon; breath stinking of the earth churned up in its path. The entire right side of the unmarked backcountry trail was a wall of thick trees, impossible to break through. I pulled my toes up, arching back to the left side of the trail. But I wasn’t going to make it. The dragon’s spittle pelted me on the back of my neck, sending chills down my spine. Instead, I pointed my snowboard straight downhill and put all my weight on my forward leg, hoping to outrun the beast.
I willed my board to go faster than I ever dared before. The avalanche was faster. The dragon opened its mouth wide, closing in on me from both sides and overhead, blocking out the bright blue sky and the trees to the side of me with its gray jaws. The slope beneath me cracked and slithered forward, like the monster’s forked tongue. As the force of nature dropped over me, I closed my eyes and threw my arms around my head. My screams were lost deep inside the creature.
Completely engulfed, I moved with the dragon. The whole of the trail had transformed into its body; an agitated, unstoppable river of churning snow and debris. The world became darker and darker, the snow heavier and heavier. Flashes of light were few and far between.
When I gasped for air, I was sometimes rewarded with a clear breath but more often than not I sucked in a mouthful of snow. Hacking to rid my throat of the slush, I came to the awful realization that I was drowning on dry land.
My hands, flailing for something solid to hang onto, finally caught hold of a tree. Small as it was, it held fast against the merciless rush of snow. I fought against nature, literally holding on for my life. I wrapped myself around the trunk as two large branches just above me ripped away and disappeared in the churning white waves, along with my screams. I squeezed so tight the rough bark scratched at my arms and cheek. The scent of pine was strong, and I inhaled deeply as though the scent alone would keep me tethered to the tree. I willed the roots to be strong.
They were, but I was not. My grip started to loosen as my tired muscles and numb fingers were unable to hold on against the rushing snow. I lost the stable trunk and returned to the tumble of snow.
I came to a halt just like the rest of the debris of the Canadian mountainside. A small air pocket had formed, allowing me to spit out the coppery taste of blood. Suffocation couldn’t be too far off, encased in an immobile block of ice as I was. Feeble attempts at movement proved useless. Silence settled in on me as I heard the last of the snow come to a halt above me. Tolerating its crushing weight because I had no choice, I was left as I always was – alone. Most of the time I preferred it that way; people were nothing but annoying. But annoying or not, having someone who at least knew of my vacation plans would have been welcome.
As the numbness slowly receded, pain returned to one hand. I wiggled my fingers. They were free, possibly above the surface. I grimaced. Great – at least the wolves would find me. Closed casket for me.