“We Only Have Twenty Minutes”

Love is something that the Old Tales cannot grasp. Mere words cannot fully encompass it’s depth, color, or sound. Even the taste of love is but a mystery in days like these. It is not spoken of. It is not allowed. It is against the laws of our Leaders.

Sometimes I sneak out of the city and into the wasteland that was once our beautiful world. I recall the times before the world crumbled before those mystical creatures called ‘humans’ stood upon our ground. They came in ships from the sky, settling and spreading like a sickness. Some of them told me of their former planet, Earth and why they were forced to leave. At first, I felt pity on them. They did not make it seem like they realized that they were depleting resources, burning their air, and filling their waters with a substance they called plastic. “It killed everything,” they said. “We had no clue the severity,” they said.

Oh, how we were misled. Because these humans played the game quite well. Our planet, unlike their robust one that withstood the test of these unthinkable acts, is much more delicate. Some scholars told us that they did not realize what they were doing here either, but most of us truly believe that the humans knew exactly what they were doing.

Humans destroyed everything. Our cities are now all that is left and they have left us behind. Gone to another planet to wipe out their resources and leave it’s people to live off of what we have left. Understand, we will live for eons on this planet without issue, but our once-blooming lands are now grayed and cracked. Cities are only crumbling skeletons of a former life. But my people have endured.

Since the time of the humans, our people have turned to tyranny in fear. The High Leader Lasander has outlawed everything. What started with stringent laws to protect our resources has transformed to even more laws to – as he claims – protect our race. Marriage is one of those laws.

My mother’s generation was the first to have this law enforced upon their lives. She always spoke of how it felt so suffocating to await the Leader’s decision. Mind you, they not only get to decide who you will marry, but also if you will marry. Luckily, my mother was paired with her true love – a gift of luck that most are not granted.

I was not so lucky. Three months to this day, the Leader’s attempted to grant me what they called ‘a special honor’. I was to wed Lasander’s son, Roderick. But I could not bare the weight of that event because I had spent so much of my childhood reading books of Old. They speak of love – a word not spoken on my people’s lips for a time. Stories of the beauty from two souls as they come together. The sweet simplicity of a kiss and the taste of another. Hairs raising on your arms as the soft touch of passion trickles up your spine. To be quite frank, I fell in love with another.

Haydynn is a simple man. He runs the general store that I frequent. To think, a business man! A scholar like myself would never be paired with a man like him. But a man he was indeed. From the moment I first laid my eyes upon him, I found myself swooning. His entire figure was lean muscle. And, despite his hardened look, his voice was kind and sweet – like his eyes. The novels that the humans left behind say that you can truly see someone’s soul in their eyes and I believe that with both of my hearts. However, I knew in that same moment that we could never be together. Because he was one of the humans who stayed behind.

A small populous of Earth-borns integrated into our society, learned and adopted our traditions, and made their lives here alongside us… not despite us. Even our Leaders took care in their laws for the humans. Unfortunately for them, they were not permitted to wed. My people believed that their race would die out and that was the fate that their people deserved – the fate that those who remained reluctantly accepted. Over many years, Human Laws were loosened, but never the law forbidding them marriage.

Love endures all. I could not bare another moment without Haydynn in my life so I took the leap. We spent many a season together as time slowly crept closer to my Council Day. Only in the recesses of our mind did we worry of that day when I would stand before the Leaders and be paired. Never did we believe this day would come. But it did.

We rejected the laws and now stand before my planet and his as a true testament to what love truly is. I have tasted the sweet nectar of it, smelled it’s perfume, listened to it whisper. I have felt it’s delicacy and seen it blossom into something I could have never fathomed. Even if death is my fate, I accept it gladly.

And here we stand. Haydynn and I with a brave clergyman in the wasteland. A small cottage we use as a makeshift chapel for his people’s tradition. Jewelry – two rings as he spoke of – reaffirming the infinite that is our love. But we only have twenty minutes before they find us. Today was meant to be celebrated inside the city to my ‘betrothed’. There will be an execution today, but we are ready.

Words blur together like a poem that I lose myself in. It swirls around me and through my lips as I profess my love in this rickety shack. But the place matters not as my hands interlace with his. Our eyes meet and a seldom-seen tear rolls down his cheek. For he knows, just as well as I, what will become of us. “At least my life would mean something,” he once told me. “You make my life mean something.”

Gunshots and footsteps echo in the evening’s desolate cloak. Our hearts are already racing, now even more so. We kiss to seal the vows we made to one another for the final few moments of our lives and the clergyman slips away. They will not be looking for him, only for the lovers in the dark. Twenty minutes has already passed and they stand at the threshhold.

I remember very little about my death. Two bursting sounds, a sharp pain, and warmth throughout my body. And then, I heard the thud but did not feel my body fall upon the wooden floor. My eyes were wide open as Haydynn too dropped alongside me. We looked into each other’s eyes for the last breaths of this world and a smile crept across his mouth. He slowly reached for my hand, and I, his. That was the moment I truly understood what love was – it was sacrifice.

Use the same prompt as above and write your own story! I’m interested in hearing them!

Writing Prompt 4/9

writing prompt

I was the new kid in school. My parents moved around a lot, and it always freaked me out when I had to go to class the next day.

“No one will even notice sweetie,” my mom would ALWAYS say. “Just wear your contact.”

That was the only thing that made me feel normal, my one brown contact. It made my eyes the same color, because they weren’t. When people noticed, I felt like a freak. They would stare… always stare. Kids would point at me, asking their parents what was wrong. I would get some compliments, sure, but complete Heterchromia is somewhat rare. Guys would flirt with me, saying how “unique” I look.

But I don’t want to be “unique”. I just want to be normal. The FIRST thing everyone sees is my eyes. People know me for just that, not my name. Hell, most people probably don’t know that my full name is Emberle Emilia Evancough. EEE… that’s pretty unique. Why can’t people know me for something like THAT?

That isn’t my parent’s last name. They adopted me and let me keep my old last name. They liked the EEE thing, I guess.

Anyway, I bought the brown contact for that reason. I started to wear it, and people stopped staring, pointing, and bothering me about it. My bright blue eye is now covered. It itches like crazy when my allergies come in during Spring, but I don’t care.

Of course I start this new school when my eye is particularly itchy. The flowers were all in bloom, shooting their pollen into my eyes like tiny bullets. Tiny. Itchy. Bullets. Well, that’s what it felt like. And yes, I begged my mom not to let me start that day, but she told me to “Get over it Emberle. You’re in High School for God’s sake.”

“I just want to fit in,” I told her. “I don’t want to stick out. What if my contact falls out and gets scratched. Then I can’t put it back in?”

“Then you keep your eyes closed all day,” my dad joked. But it wasn’t funny. I was being serious. WHY DON’T THEY LISTEN TO ME?

When I walked through those doors to a sea of people, backpack strapped across my shoulder, I wanted to die. Literally die. My eye started itching, so I reached for my eye drops. NO! I forgot them at home. I turned to where my mother had dropped me off, but her car was already gone. I couldn’t chase after her. Crap. 

“Don’t itch it,” I whispered. But I knew it wouldn’t last. I am such an idiot. I just ran to my first class, pushing through the crowds. If I sat in the back of the room, I could put my head down on the desk where no one could see.

The first part of the day was successful. I managed to make it through Period 1, 2, & 3 without incident. Lunch, however, was a little different. The Seniors & Juniors already took most of the spots in the Cafeteria that would allow me to be alone. Even the secluded picnic tables outside were taken by them. The Underclassmen were stuck in the crappier tables, all bunched together like sardines.

I grabbed my tray of food and squished between a boy and a girl. This table, at least, looked like it was filled with Nerds. They were talking about the Dungeons & Dragons game they were playing over the weekend. When they saw me, they asked my name.

“Emberle,” I answered with a half-smile. “Nice to meet you all.” But it wasn’t nice. I was focusing on my stupid eye. The windows in the Cafeteria were open, so the pollen was floating inside. You couldn’t see it, but I could feel it. My body was screaming “EMBERLE! WHY DO YOU TORTURE US WITH THIS FOREIGN OBJECT!? WE MUST MAKE YOU SCRATCH!”

But if my contact fell out… then everyone would see. And the rest of the day would suck. And I would want to die. I begged my body to stop, but it just made it worse. I couldn’t take it anymore.

I scratched. And, of f****** course, my contact fell out ON THE FLOOR. I tried not to look up, but one of the guys at the table noticed.

“Is everything alright?” he asked.

“Fine,” I said. It looked like I was winking at him. God, I look so stupid. “I just lost my contact.”

“Oh no! Can you see okay or do you need help?”

I guess my brain wasn’t processing things correctly. It was probably the pollen. Looking up at them, I realized my mistake. The whole entire table gasped in unison. If my eyes weren’t such dramatically different colors, they may have not been so shocked.

“Your eyes…” one started to speak.

I was tearing up at this point. “I know. They look silly. I was born like this. And now, everyone can see. They look… they look…”

The boy from across the table pulled out something in his eye and looked at me. “They look just like mine. Only the opposite eye.”

My eyes widened. I had to squint to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. But he was right. His blue eye was on his left. Mine, right. His brown eye was on the right. Mine, left. Something felt weird when I looked at him, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

“Eli,” said the girl sitting next to him. “Emberle looks a lot like you! Like scarily. Could she be your…?”

I felt like I was in a dream. He tilted his head and asked, “Are you adopted, per chance?”

I answered him with another question. “What is your last name?”

“Evancough,” he said. “Eli Emmett Evancough. My parents wanted to keep my old last name because of the-“

“The EEE,” I don’t think I had ever smiled so big in my life. Holy shit. I found my long-lost twin. My heart was racing. He was a mirror image of me, literally. Even the eyes. His hair was the same color. In fact, he looked like me in a masculine-form.

“This is the COOLEST lunch period EVER,” one of the guys laughed. The table instantly started asking me questions.

From then on, my parents never moved again. And I never put in that brown contact again.

 

Sorry for this post being late!  I hope you enjoyed it! 🙂

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Self Publishing

Self Publishing

So, you’ve finally made it! You now have a nicely-polished novel. And, boy, are you proud! AND YOU SHOULD BE! Not many people make it to the finish line and writing a 70K-100k+ book is very arduous.

Now what? Well you could either go the Traditional Publishing route or you could Self Publish. I’m going to make a case for Self Publishing because that is the choice I made for The Wanderer Trilogy. I want to cover the reasons I’m Self Publishing and help you make the best choice for your literary work of art!

Benefits of Self Publishing – (In my opinion)

There are a number of reasons I want to Self Publish. The good news is that it’s super easy and more widely accepted than it used to be. In the time of technology, the newer generations tend to read the News, Social Media, and (yes) even Novels on e-format. However, there are some of us Millennials (like myself) that are Purists when it comes to books. I always prefer to hold the copy in my hands. And now, with Amazon CreateSpace, you can sell hard copies of your book through Amazon.

To me, Self-Publishing allows a whole additional layer of creativity. Publishing companies have certain ‘formulas’ that they desire. Some will want you to change your book, and the constant battle to just have ONE company say “yes – we want your book” is way too stressful. Not to mention, you have to adhere to different manuscript formats for each company. It’s pointless, it’s outdated (in my opinion), and adds to the stress already compounded from putting your book out there.

Making sure you have the best book that you can is part of the reason you want to use Beta Readers, contracted Editors, and Freelance Cover Designers. Without breaking your bank, you want to have the “Best of the Best” or close to it. Because you don’t have an entire company providing these services, you have to pay for them yourself. However, you won’t be forced to use a specific editor, cover designer, etc.

If you decide to traditionally publish your novel, the amount of money you will make per book will decrease. I’m not sure the exact percentage, but with Self Publishing, you can make roughly $2.00 per book compared to less than $1.00 with Traditional Publishing. Once you gather a following, you can up the price of your books and make a few more bucks! The way I think about it… if I have $20K in Student Debt (*sad face*) and ~15,000 people purchase my book in either eBook or hard copy, minus taxes, I would be able to pay off my debt! That’s really not that many people 🙂

On the flip side, traditionally publishing a novel leaves the company to do your marketing for you. They take care of getting your book into stores. Sure, you make less per book, but you don’t have to market your book alone. If you choose to Self-Publish, you also have to self-market. This means going to bookstores, libraries, boutiques, and random people to sell your book. You’ll want to practice your pitch and be open to rejection. However, you can negotiate with the store owner to benefit both parties. It’s hard work, but it could work out well for you!

I know… on the surface Self-Publishing seems like hard work. But, you are putting in the work to market your novel on your Blog (like this one) and creating fans from the get-go. You’ve already put in the work for your book, what’s a little more elbow grease? If you are willing, you exclusively reap the benefits.

 

Where to Self Publish

I have already mentioned Amazon for the #1 most important place to publish your book. With any of these websites, you have to format your book a specific way. Using Scriviner, you can easily convert your book into popular formats accepted with the Big websites.

  1. Amazon (CreateSpace) – CreateSpace also takes care of the hard copy of your book.
  2. Smashwords – this website is exclusive to eBook format for independent authors. I also believe this publishes your book to smaller eBook websites to get the best coverage without having to know every url.
  3. Kobo – similar to Smash words.
  4. iTunes – this is to get your book on iBooks. If you end up recording an audiobook, I would also publish that here.
  5. Barnes & Noble – this uses the same format as Kindle from Amazon.

 

I really hope this helps! If you have the extra $$$, I would use a Book Printing website (like BookBaby) and print out a few copies of your book. Then, go around to your local libraries, bookstores, etc. and drop off/sell a few of your copies! Any outlet you can think of to sell your book is KEY! 🙂

 

BEST OF LUCK!

So You Finished your First Draft… Now What???

If it scares you,it might be agood thing to try.

Congrats! You finally finished that first draft. The mountain you thought you could never climb is finally conquered. Even though you cried about half the time, your tears were not in vain. And, most importantly, you didn’t quit! 🙂

As I mentioned in the previous “Let’s Write a Novel” post, your first draft isn’t going to be the best. It doesn’t have to be! That’s what this next phase is for, editing. And that is what I am covering today!

DISCLAIMER! You can get an editor to check over your work. They can be pricey, but I am fortunate that my cousin-in-law has an English degree. So she has been my editor.

This is the way I have been editing my novel Purpose, so feel free to adjust to what fits you the best! I feel that focusing on one aspect of the content with each edit makes it a higher quality than trying to do everything at once. So Enjoy! 😀

1st EDIT

BEFORE you get your hands dirty, give yourself a break. I took a 2 week break. Trust me, it may be difficult, but it gives you a pair of fresh eyes to look at your work. I spent that time outlining my next 2 books in the trilogy, working on questions for my Beta Readers, and the Blurb for Purpose. That took about 2 weeks or so.

Now that you’ve taken a break, it’s time to get going on the least fun part of writing. With the first edit, I read the entire book, chapter by chapter, searching for grammatical and spelling errors. These are difficult to find, especially when you know what you want to say. You may have doubled a word or forgot a comma. Perhaps you meant to say clothes and typed cloths… or he instead of the. Errors like this may completely miss your careful combing, but it will stick out to readers. And if you are a stickler for good grammar as a reader, then you may put a book down if it contains errors like these. Hold yourself to as high of a standard that you hold other authors.

The easiest way to edit for grammatical and spelling errors is by taking each paragraph separately. First, start with the last sentence of the paragraph and read it out loud. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are there any words that are misspelled that Spell Check did not catch?
  • Does the grammar make sense? Are you consistently using the Oxford Comma or not?
  • Does the dialogue make sense and sound natural?

 

Why edit from the last sentence of each paragraph first? It makes it easier to catch mistakes when you aren’t reading the sentences how they are meant to sound. It also keeps you from doing content edits or prose edits which comes later.

 

2nd Edit

Once you’ve fixed up the grammar and spelling, time to move onto the content. Keep an eye out for the following things:

  • Flow (NOT to be confused with Prose – which is the 3rd edit) – Do any sentences end abruptly? Are there unintentional run-on sentences? Any unintentional fragments?
  • Do the paragraphs make sense in the order they are written?
  • Do the chapters make sense in the order they are written?
  • Do the chapters convey the outline well?
  • Are there any outlying chapters/paragraphs/sentences that need to be removed?
  • Are there chapters/paragraphs/sentences that need to be added?
  • How are your descriptions of settings, characters, etc? Do you need to add or remove any content there?

DON’T worry about having to delete things. I know that this novel is your baby and you have watched it grow up and graduate school, 🙂 but you want it to be the best novel that it can be. Sometimes, in order to reach it’s full potential, things have to be taken out.

3rd Edit

To me, this is the most important edit. The “Prose” edit. The definition of Prose is “written or spoken language in its ordinary form, without metrical structure.” However, we are going to edit for metrical structure here as well. And yes, you can do both.

Now, you are going through each of the remaining chapters and checking for more than just flow. Metrical structure, or the tempo of the words/sentences/paragraphs, are used to convey the mood of the scene. Is the protagonist and antagonist fighting? Then you want short sentences to convey the quick blows from either side. Having a long, run-on, descriptive sentence here wouldn’t make sense. On the other hand, if the character is meditating in nature (for example), then you would want a more poetic, descriptive, feel to the paragraph.

As for prose, you want to focus on how the paragraph sounds as a whole. Are you using the best word placement for the sentence? Should any words be changed to something more or less descriptive. Is the structure correct?

 

Once you’ve done these 3 edits, feel free to read through again if you want to see how everything turns out. It’s really up to you how many times you want to go through it! Good luck with this step. It is arduous! It takes time! And it is not as glamorous as writing the draft, but it has to be done and it is a crucial part of the process.

**Another quick note. If you do decide to hire an editor, remember that you do not have to make every change that they suggest. They may not know why your character does a specific action or the purpose of a specific scene. You may be adding in bits of foreshadowing. Whatever the reason, don’t feel like you have to make every edit that they offer. They understand!** 🙂

And don’t forget. KEEP WRITING