Open Call for #BetaReaders! (Gods, golden guns, and diversity – sound like fun?)

I’m well-rested from my vacation week, and I seized that free time to finish Draft Six of Paradisa. Over the next two weeks, I’ll be polishing it, and then October means another beta round! Interested in becoming a beta? Keep reading ;)

What’s it about? Paradisa is a 90,000 word modern fantasy centered around mythological characters. In the realm of Paradisa, all deities from world’s religions, past and present, begrudgingly cohabitate. Despite their personal disagreements, most residents of Paradisa share a common goal of protecting and serving humanity. But now, this truce strains under the weight of a growing new evil – a monstrous entity and underground alliance which threatens both human and heavenly realms.

When Connor Bishara – an ex-SEAL whose life was ruined by DADT – has a permanently damaging encounter with this evil, he is left only two choices: join the fight and be cleansed of the damage, or run from the darkness until it kills him. Luckily for Connor, he has the help of a variety of allies, including the archangel Raphael, Greek gods Hephaestus and Aphrodite, and his college-aged sister Clara. With their combined strength, they will defend gods and men from the encroaching dusk…or watch helplessly as evil conquers a mission as old as time.

What is it like? In spirit, it can be compared to modern adventure fantasies like Artemis Fowl, Supernatural, Once Upon A Time, or even Doctor Who . This is not “urban” fantasy like Lost Girl or The Mortal Instruments nor is it “high” fantasy like Game of Thrones. I promise that unpronounceable names and leather clad werewolves are absent.

What does a beta do? Starting in early October, you will have 30 days to read the book and answer some survey questions. This is a content review only – not proofreading, copyediting, or line editing. You may provide commentary or margin notes, but that’s optional.

Who can apply? Anyone interested in the book who can return feedback by early November. I hope for a mix of both writers and casual readers, as well as a good spread of demographics in gender, age, and race. I would particularly appreciate the feedback of any LGBT, military, and/or Middle Eastern readers, as my protagonist is all of these things.

What format will the book be in? Any electronic form you request.

How do we sign up?. Email me at michelleiannantuono (at), or comment on this post before September 25th. Please provide your name, your email, and why you’re interested. And if we haven’t met, a little about yourself!

I wanted to beta, but you declined me :( Sorry, friend! I’m aiming for a diverse selection of 7-10 readers, so perhaps I already found someone similar to you. Or perhaps I chose someone who knew me less personally, due to their less obvious bias. Most likely, I’m picking on a somewhat first-come-first-serve basis, and there may be no slots left. I’ll be sure to keep you in mind for next time.

What did I get in return? My absolute willingness to beta a novel-length work of your own, at any time in the future. I also hope to provide a small token of my affection. If you live near me, maybe I’ll take you out to lunch. If you live far away, maybe an Amazon gift card. I know what I’m asking of you is a huge favor, so the best I can do is return the favor sometime for you.

Feel free to share, reblog, or link your friends to this post if you think they may be interested. I hope to reply to all interested parties as quickly as possible. Thanks guys!

Follow Friday – Kate Turville!

Happy almost-weekend! Today, please join me in following the lovely Kate Turville. I like Kate because, like me, she’s a scientist and a writer! Although, she’s an Australian environmental scientist, which makes her about 10x more epic. Her posts are really funny sometimes, but they’ll just as often make you ponder life.

This has been mostly a “recover from being sick and do some book research” week. It’s also Charleston Restaurant Week, so Austin and I have been busy going out. I think Tuesday was the one night we were able to stay in. And tomorrow, we’re going to see a Boston Pops tribute orchestra, so no rest for the wicked again! I’ve got a headache, so I mostly just want a nap -_-

But yes, book research – one of my favorite parts of the creative process for this particular project. I’m structuring a story bible for the Paradisa series, so I’m leafing through my mythology books and trying to clarify the world. I often feel like I should be working on my draft instead of researching, but hey, the research has to be done sometime. At least it’s something productive. And it can be quite inspiring too. I’ve stumbled across many East Asian or Celtic gods and said “oh snap, that guy is awesome. I’ve got to work him into the story somehow.”

I did manage to write a few pages, and I feel like inspiration has returned in full. It’s just a matter of finding the time and tearing myself away from Austin for a few hours. It sounds easy, but it’s hard to say “I’m going upstairs now, don’t talk to me until 8:00.” Alas. There’s always Sunday, which I have to myself, and I’m determined to let the chores lie and write instead this time.

Have a good weekend!

Blasphemy or Mythological Fantasy?

For those who don’t know, my novel Paradisa entertains the concept that all gods are real – all religions of the world have truth, and lesser gods/angels are not actually sure who is the true Creator. They simply know that THEY exist and their purpose is to serve humanity.

Religion is a touchy subject. I have to be careful about how I personify these gods. I have to be careful to keep continuities straight and cultures accurate. Sure, compensating for the existence of ALL these dieties requires some acrobatic logic, as well as slanted interpretation, but I aim to stay faithful to the holy scriptures of billions of people.

That being said…this is fantasy. Stargate did this. American Gods and Supernatural do this. Mythological fantasy is a subgenre all its own, and never have I heard anyone get offended by the fictionalization of Pagan gods, or even Christian angels. I think most people accept that, so long as the gods and faiths are not portrayed in a negative light, speculation of their origins via fantasy is a non-issue.

All six of my betas come from different faiths, including Catholicism,  Methodist, Pagan, and perhaps even agnosticism. Only 1/5 Christian betas attends church (my boyfriend Austin,  for reference), so this was not the most fundamentalist group of people. Still, if anyone was to take offense to my portrayal of angels and saints, it should have been Austin. He did not.

Rather, it was my lapsed Catholic beta who worried “if someone as pious as Austin” would find it sacrilegious,  and who insisted that no creative license may be taken with religious figures…and that because world mythology is so vast, my inability to know every bit of it means I should limit myself to only one or two mythological characters total. He already thought that the slight twists of personality I offered my characters was far too deviant.

I disagree, of course. Mythology is only as vast as the parts I care to include, and those parts are well-researched. This is a crowded market, and no agent will buy yet another Persephone book, or a vindictive Aphrodite, or a mustache-twirling Lucifer. Something new has to be brought to the table to keep the gods true to type, yet fresh.

As for those who would still call this book blasphemous…let them. J.K. Rowling paid no attention to whackos who burned her “evil” books. Just from my own beta pool, I think most readers are smart enough to distinguish between a speculative work of fantasy (which paints religion in a nice light, might I add), and a holy scripture.

I am careful with these borrowed sandboxes, handling the characters as of they’re another kid’s toys I have to give back. That’s all anyone who writes in this genre can do.

Throwback Thursday #4 – “The Chronicler”

You know the influx of YA books involving gods, superpowers, and fallen angels which have emerged in the past 5-8 years? Well I thought of it first, darn it!

Just kidding. A little.

When I was 11, I worked on a book called The Chronicler. This story followed five teenagers with X-Men-like nicknames – Tempus, Striker, Soyuz, Spark, Marina – who had powers granted from “the gods.” Long long ago, the various pantheons bestowed their elemental abilities upon humans, and descendents of those humans could also manifest those abilities. Tempus had Chronos’s Gift, or the ability to stop time. Spark had Hephaestus’s gift, or fire. Marina had Posieden’s gift of water, Soyuz had Hermes’ gift of flight, and Striker had two gifts – both Hades and Zeus, light and death.

The kids start in their ordinary worlds before they’re abducted to Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters  Hogwarts  a school led by women named Bakira (Bast’s gift of shapeshifting into a cat) and Leslie (a genius with Athena’s gift of wisdom). The “chronicler” was a stone slab with marbles which allowed Leslie and Bakira to find mutants kids with pantheon abilities. Basically Cerebro.

It was a fun book to write. I got about four chapters in before some other projects distracted me, then I never returned to it. It’s obviously too derivative of X-Men, and when Percy Jackson and some other “powers from the gods” books cropped up, I shelfed it forever.

I did finish an Artemis Fowl trilogy of fanfics around that time with a similar premise, though. No, I will not link those. They are really really bad!
Note: I drafted this on Thursday but never ended up posting it. Oops! Belated TBTH!


I was Nommed For The Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

Thanks to Grady P. Brown for nominating me for the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award!”. This is the first time I’ve ever been given something like this on WordPress.

Three things that have inspired me this week:

1.) My boyfriend Austin. He gave me a tiny nugget of an idea for how to shake up the plot of Paradisa. I’m running with it! It cleans up so many of the problems with the antagonists and world-building. Even though my next draft will require some massive rewrites, I’m excited to see the end product.

Also, he just moved in with me this weekend and he’s already fixed my garbage disposal. Nothing is more inspiring than having someone else take care of your to-do list :P

2.) Mythology books. There are two in particular, but I’ve held The Encylopedia of World Mythology close this week.  It’s got over 1000 entries! I’m leafing through it and taking note of the coolest gods, and I may incorporate them into sequels or my next draft of Book One.

3.) Chuck. Austin and I are doing a rewatch of this beloved TV show. We’re almost through with season one. I’m realizing that my protagonist Connor is a lot like Chuck, and perhaps giving him some of Chuck’s charming traits will make him more likeable.

I nominate the following bloggers (under the cut). Check it out. You might be one of them :)

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