Welcome back to another repost. This original post was essentially me coming to terms with the fact that I am a nerd and like writing fanfiction about all the things. If you’ve been here a while, then, you already know I post fanfiction. If not, welcome! I post fanfiction.
However, most of the fanfiction on here was written around 4 years ago. My writing style has changed, and I feel that I have a much better grasp on writing in general. As such, not only will I continue posting fanfiction, but I will be going back and editing any old fanfiction on here, on my fanfiction.net account, as well as on all the other various fanfic websites.
Let me go ahead and apologize to those who have been following my fanfictions. A lot of them were just left to die without any continuation, and I’m sorry you will be getting no updates until they have been worked over again. Let me assure you, though, I will be working on them again. Future chapters inbound!
Once again, I’m back with another repost/rewrite/thing. When I wrote this original post, I made it a point to say I was writing for others. I was writing for this selfless reason that made me look like such a giving, thoughtful artist. Yeah, that definitely wasn’t the case then, and it definitely isn’t the case now. I have, and always will, write for myself.
When I decided I was finally going to pursue writing and publishing as a serious endeavor, I sought out as much advice as I possibly could from anyone that seemed even remotely more experienced than me. Don’t get me wrong, I picked up a lot of really great advice along the way, but I also heard a lot of bad. One person I knew, who was writing and posting his work publicly to FaceBook, was one of those people I sought advice from. I admired his voice and the style of his writing, as well as his confidence (which I had absolutely none of), so, naturally, I asked him for some advice. His advice?
You should always write for your audience. Always write for someone else. Writing for yourself is fun and all, but it doesn’t sell. You won’t go anywhere if you’re not writing for somebody else. Don’t write unless you have a purpose.
I took that to heart back then and did my best to focus on others, rather than myself. He’s not entirely wrong, though. You do have to consider audience when writing as that determines the genre, who will most likely read it, etc. But others shouldn’t dictate why you write. You don’t have to have some great purpose in your writing. There should be plot and structure, yes, but you shouldn’t be forced to write because of some underlying reason.
Sure, if you do, do it. Go for it. Fulfill that purpose to the ends of the earth. More power to you, but I’m not going to pretend that I am writing for anyone or anything. I am not writing for my dad, my brother, my sister, the president, Bradley Cooper, etc. I am writing for me. I like to write. If what I write sounds like hot, steamy garbage, who cares? If it never gets published? Oh well. If I post this repost and not a single person sees it, meh. I am writing for me. It’s cathartic, it’s fun, it’s something I’ve done and crafted for so long just because I wanted to be a better writer.
I write for myself. Don’t be ashamed if you do, too.
This is, once again, an edit and repost of an old post I had. I am beginning to realize these are less simple edits and more just flat out rewrites. You know that feeling you get when you scroll through your FaceBook feed from… I don’t know, ten years ago? It starts off all nostalgic and rose-colored, then it just gets more and more cringey. Everything seems so much better, until you actually see it. Well, that’s what ended up happening to me. I went back, started reading these posts, and wondered how anyone read any of this.
I had a tendency to make everything more convoluted and complicated than it had to be, and the same goes for my “editing technique,” whatever the heck that is… Needless to say, I don’t edit the same way I did when this post was originally made (May 4, 2013, jeeeeez). So, it’s time to update. Here is how I edit today:
Something that hasn’t changed: don’t edit until you finish. This is pretty much the only thing I held on to from my old “editing technique.” I don’t edit anything until I “finish” the piece. Now I say “finish” because until you’ve edited the piece a couple times, I don’t think it’s finished. Regardless, I don’t edit any of it until I’ve finished the first draft. I think if anything, I’ve actually gotten stricter on this. Before, I’d do some minor edits as I wrote, like fixing a misspelling, putting in missing punctuation etc. Now, I won’t even fix things like that. I don’t pay any attention to anything expect putting words on paper.
Finish the 1st draft, then add and subtract. Even after I’ve completed the first draft, I don’t do any copy editing, which is grammar and mechanics editing. I focus on substantive editing. I add things, I cut things, I move things around… this is the fun part of editing because, honestly, it’s still just writing.
From substance to mechanics. Once I think I have everything I want to keep, in the order I want to keep it in, I move on to the nitty-gritty: copy editing. I go through and fix all those mechanical issues, grammar issues, misspellings, etc. This is my least favorite because it just proves the point that you never get anything right the first time, and there are always things you need to improve. No matter how long I write, or how many degrees I earn, I still spend the most time copy editing.
Let her rest. After long rounds of cutting, adding, and editing, the old eyes need to rest. The piece needs to rest, but so do I. I let my piece rest for a day or two before picking it back up, then I do another round of copy edits, and from there just proofread daily until I feel confident in my piece.
And there you have it. Short, sweet, and to the point. It’s weird how time sorta edits us, too, as writers. Before, I was very long-winded and tried to sound smart, but was more obnoxious than anything else. I have pared down how much I write (though let’s be honest, not that much), and I don’t feel the need to prove I am well-spoken. But we’re getting away from the point of the post, and I think that means it’s a good time to wrap it up.
I have never been so well dressed in my life. As many of you know, I am still in college, though I just recently signed up for graduation in December (yay!), and being in college I’ve had the opportunity to join the English Honor Society: Sigma Tau Delta. This offers a wide range of opportunities for all college writers, and I definitely recommend joining if one ever has the opportunity to do so. One perk that I took full advantage of was being able to submit a piece to the national convention, which means I would get a chance to travel out of state, attend a literary convention, and present my piece in front of all my peers and colleagues for my college. Needless to say, I was beyond pumped.
I submitted a short story and *spoilers* my short story was picked! It was probably one of the more exciting moments of my life. I received the news at around 11 pm via email after a long shift at work, and I immediately called and woke up my boyfriend to tell him the good news, along with my mom, step-mom, and grandmother soon after. I told my colleagues at work over the course of a couple of months, had them read the story if they felt so inclined, and they made me feel more confident than I had ever been. Also, my friends got together and bought me this amazing messenger bag that they surprised me with a few days before I would be travelling. I cried. I hugged them all. Little did they know, it was a huge boost to my confidence, reminded me that I was worthy of being loved, as well as assured me in my abilities as a writer. I now refuse to carry anything else.
Then began planning. I lassoed my partner-in-crime, my boyfriend, into taking the 16-hour drive with me and we were off to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Along the way we went through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois (where I paid my first toll fee), and Wisconsin. After an extended 19-20 hour drive because I just couldn’t drive anymore past 2 am, we finally arrived in Minneapolis. I read my story, met millions of authors and poets, ate at every northern restaurant I could find, got lost multiple times in the Mall of America, enjoyed hours in the underground aquarium, and countless hours enjoying the cold weather with my boyfriend. I have always said I would one day live in Portland, Oregon, despite having never been there. However, now that I’ve been to Minnesota, I don’t think I could picture myself anywhere else. Only time will tell, I suppose.
Unfortunately, our time in Minnesota came to an end and we made the extended 19-20 hour drive back through Iowa, Missouri (where I also received my first speeding ticket), Arkansas, and Mississippi. It was a trip I don’t think I’ll ever forget. It was my first trip completely on the road, completely independent of any guardian, and completely paid for by me. It was a wonderful experience, and I can’t wait to take part in next year’s Sigma Tau Delta convention.
Want to read the story I presented? Did I mention I was approached by another author with an offer to publish it in anthology? No? Well, more on that once we get the details ironed out. Until then, thank you so much for reading, and I can’t wait to share more of my adventures on here.
Today just so happens to be my 21st birthday, and rather than drown myself in legal alcohol purchases, I have decided to give a gift to YOU… er, well, FIVE of you, that is.
My book The Mind, the Body, a horror short story collection, came out last year in October. I purchased five author copies, signed them, and have started a Goodreads giveaway. Anyone living in the UK, US, Canada, and Australia can enter for FREE to receive one of the five copies. All you have to do is make a Goodreads account and enter here: CLICK ME!
And while you’re there, add me as a friend (if you want to become a fan, that’s cool, but I’d much rather make ya my friend, ya know?).
Help me celebrate my birthday by making this the best birthday book giveaway in all my 21 years on this Earth (this is my first birthday giveaway, but who’s counting?). Enter, share, and let’s have fun!
Don’t have time to enter today? That’s okay! The giveaway ends March 27th, so you have plenty of time! Just make sure you enter by then, or you will miss your chance at FREE BOOKS!
Finally, thank you all so much for the emails and the posts, wishing me a happy birthday. I can’t thank you all enough for all the kind words and well wishes. You make my heart full.
(In this case, I felt ch. 4 was far too short on its own to post on here. So, they shall be together on my blog, but separate elsewhere.)
She was beginning to dream again. With the heat came the dreams, and with the dream would eventually raise memory. There were bits and pieces, sometimes images, more words. She would see colors – blue, green, shades of pink, possibly the color of cheeks or roses, then she would feel things. There were soft things, hard things, painful things… things she both longed to remember and things she was happy to forget. The words though… the words were of the utmost importance.
Danger was the first word.
It scared her until her body shook her awake, but even in the wakeful hours of bright sunlight and dew, she found the word “danger” still lingered within her. It left a bitter, copper taste in her mouth, which she tried to physically spit out, but to no avail.
The sticky dew was no help, and it had her squirming relentlessly. Then her eyes fell on a mass of darkness, curled on the ground beside her.
There was a thump.
She stopped and pressed a hand to her chest. She couldn’t recall such a feeling, or a word to describe it. It went just as quickly as it had come, and soon her mind was focused back on the mass next to her. It barely moved, and she could scarcely say it moved at all.
But as she reached out to investigate further, a little flash caught her attention. There, attached to the end of what should’ve been fingers, were claws. She made a little gasping noise, and held her hand up to the light, turning and turning the claws until she had investigated every edge and corner of them.
Had she always had these things?
Then, there was a grunt, and the mass on the ground stirred. The Witch shuffled back, claws extended out to put a serrated wall between herself and whatever was rising from the ground. The mass, now a full grown man, shook – an animal shaking off leaves and dirt from where he had slept. His brown hair was sticky with the dew and something crusty and black. Then, his face angled up to meet hers.
The shriek echoed through the forest, erupting into a cacophony of sounds and animals. The Hunter’s brow shot up, and his mouth formed an unpleasant line with the loose, broken lip dangling off the bottom. He shook his head and held a finger to his lips.
“Hush. Quiet, Witch.”
She fell silent and carefully studied his mouth. He could speak, too?
“Who… are you?”
The Hunter sat up, rolling his neck until it made a cracking sound, then he sighed.
The word formed in her mind, cloudy and foggy. There was something attached to it, something very real and very there, but just out of her mind’s grasp. She sat in silence for a long time, just trying to clear the fog and pull that image forward, but to no avail.
The Hunter grunted, his face now tight and accentuating the scars with what looked like annoyance.
The Witch shook her head. That wasn’t right. The name was familiar, but there was something else… something that name seemed to cover up.
“Emily.” She said.
The Hunter froze in his morning ministrations.
She clicked her claws together, trying to form the sounds again… slower.
“… em… Emily. I, Emily.”
The Hunter’s lips broke from their line into what might have once been a smile. He rushed toward her, a crouched creature with an ugly face.
She shuffled back, screeching and slashing claws before he could even get close. The Hunter stopped, and pressed a hand to his chest.
She didn’t move.
He hit his chest more forcefully.
She shook her head this time.
He yelled, raising his voice much louder than he needed,
“Hunter. Remember me?”
Her mind rushed and slowed, rushed and slowed, until it was throbbing in her skull. Why couldn’t she remember that word? Why couldn’t she remember that word? Then another word rose amongst the chaos.
Then she remembered.
He nodded, and the smile returned to his lips, though wrinkles broke the laced pattern of his brow. He was worried, and so was she.
How could she forget so much, and remember so much, all at once? And why?
Her Hunter hadn’t looked at her again since they had woken up. Her memories from the past were still foggy, a thick haze she couldn’t seem to wade through, but while her memories as an infected faded, something else long forgotten was beginning to rise within her.
She had remembered a name, her name. She was no longer just the Witch. She was Emily, and if she remembered nothing else the rest of her life, she would’ve been content with just a name. She had proof that she actually had been a person once. She had felt and carried the warmth she could only imagine now.
Though this new information was satisfying, that lingering haze had her growing more and more curious about the past. Who was she really? Who lingered just below her gray skin? She studied her hands, the palms scarred up and down from what she could only assume were her own claws. How many of these scars were from this life, and how many had she earned in her old one? She wanted to know. Somewhere deep down, there were answers. She just needed to figure out how to access them.
Then, a gruff voice broke through her thoughts,
She looked up to see the Hunter, pacing back and forth on all fours, making much more noise than the Witch deemed necessary.
She shook her head, even though he wasn’t looking at her to see it.
Emily peered over at the Hunter, his pacing was uncoordinated. His hands and feet seemed uncertain of their next fall, hovering in the air much longer than they should’ve been. He was nervous.
Emily then recalled the way he had lunged to her at hearing her name – her actual, human name – as if he was excited, as if he had been waiting for her to remember it.
“Hunter? Your name… only Hunter?”
The Hunter froze in his pacing, giving her a chance to catch the side of his face, and the way his lids and sockets twitched with unused muscles. It looked so painful. She wondered if and how he could see at all, but a little niggling at the back of her mind had her feeling a strange sense of déjà vu. She felt like she knew the answer already, she just couldn’t recall how.
The Hunter said, “No.”
Short, resolute. He didn’t want any more questions, and even if she asked, she probably wouldn’t get an answer anyway. The Hunter was too busy trying to remember how to pace properly to recall a name. His arms were bent at unnatural angles, as if they were contorting on their own. It was separate from what he wanted them to do, which was simply to pace back and forth.
Emily sat, waiting for something more, squirming in anxiousness when nothing did. In the meantime, she let her mind wander and ponder things she still had no answer to.
Why was she remembering, and more importantly, why was she forgetting, too?
She held her arms out in front of her, studying the deep red lines she hadn’t noticed latticing her arms in a beautiful, ugly mixture of purple and gray. They were so in-between, much like a scar, a wound between being there and disappearing. Her eyes flicked back to the Hunter, who was now stopped in his pacing, staring at her, slack-jawed. His sockets were right on her, daunting and angry with their little pulps peeking out at her.
She couldn’t remember ever seeing something or someone so ugly, so animal. Then, another flash of memory: moonlight, rough hands, warmth, and light… bright, bright light in a dark room.
A room in a house she had lived in, in a former life from ages ago.
She had to go back. That would be where the answers were. She stood up, eliciting a growl from the Hunter who crawled up to her feet. She presented her claws, though she knew he wouldn’t hurt her. Something inside her, deep, deep down within her chest, there was a slight twinge. Something was changing inside her, but she just wasn’t sure what.
She looked to the Hunter, and she could see something was changing inside him, too.
He growled again,
“Where are… you going?”
She shook her head and pointed towards a break in the woods where they had walked through before.
The Hunter shook his head before nudging against her knees in the opposite direction, deeper into the woods, and farther away from her goal.
“No… bad. Need to keep… going.”
Bad? How was it bad? Her home was there. She knew it. It was familiar and safe. It might have smelled like vanilla or lavender a long time ago. It was a memory which burned her nose with its strength. There had to be more. She had to remember if it was vanilla or lavender. She pushed against his face, and he pushed back.
He growled, much louder, and pressed his shoulder against her, too, causing her to stumble back a few steps. He wasn’t going to let her pass… at least, not without a fight.
She brandished her finger blades, giving him a hiss of her own. The Hunter sat up until he was simply squatting, quiet and still, a statue. She pointed passed him, back toward the path she knew would lead her back to where she needed to go.
“Home. I need home.”
The Hunter shook his head, resolutely. So, fight it was. The Witch released a screech and stepped forward, not before a loud crackling of gunfire erupted within the woods. Behind the Witch, a tree whined with agony, having taken the shot for her. She turned to investigate, which the Hunter took as his chance. He easily rose from his squat and shot forward, scooping the writhing Witch in his arms.
Emily continued to screech and thrash. She was getting farther and farther from her goal, farther and farther from the chance of her memories. Then, as if on cue, another shot rang close by. A memory surfaced from within the haze.
A man… no. A group of men, with guns and knives, watched them as they ran into the woods. A man at the front of the group, poised with a knife pointed in their direction, not unlike her claws, watched with a promise gracing his lips.
Rating: ***** “I’ve never been able to say that I actually felt emotions when reading a story, but I did with this one. The detail that Alyssa includes in her books can make you feel like you are there in that exact moment. I had to stop reading this book and come back to it because of the great detail that overtook my emotions. I have read it again since the initial reading and still enjoy it. If you are looking for a very detailed, in the moment story, you’ve got to read The Mind, the Body!”
Published: October 1, 2014
About: Perhaps what people fear isn’t hiding in the shadows, but standing in the light.
The Mind, the Body is a collection of short stories, featuring a rusty spoon, a crow-nosed piano player, a starving wolf, two sets of fingernails, a pair of best friends, and a man made of ash. A bit of blood and folklore tied together to make a little book of horror. Fear is more than monsters and ghost stories. What we fear most is often times what lurks within us.
I was born in a family of five blue-eyed, blonde-haired southern gentlemen. My mother was decidedly absent for most of my life, having been one of the foolish sort, often times putting too much into her own silly superstitions than what they were worth. She was highly dedicated to the Lord’s word and could often be found praying as she went about her menial tasks. Even the regular obstacles of life sent her into a fit of prayer. But it was a minor annoyance my father had traded for hot meals and sons. As long as she remained useful, he would bare anything to keep her around. My brothers had to deal with it as they grew, but when she had born me in the loft of father’s barn, on a night when the rain pounded the rotted wood and drenched the hay until it too smelled of death and rot, no one would have to listen to her prayers again.
The barn, for her, had become a church. It was the only building with a second story, and the closer she was to God, the better. Father didn’t stop her, even if it stormed. The man had preached to her, hoping to sway her, but she wouldn’t have any of it. It felt too isolated in the house for her. She wanted to have her children where God could see, so the abandoned barn with its cracked ceiling, shuttered windows, and the scent of livestock which never completely went away was where we had all been born. Yet, I would be first baptized in that very same loft.
The night of my birth, she gazed upon my golden head with the love of every mother who had ever existed, cooing and holding me close to her pale bosom. I was her first and only daughter. The first she would be able to teach the Lord’s word to day-in and day-out. I’m sure she had dreams for me, dreams which she had saved just for the day she finally birthed a daughter. It was finally here, all her praying finally come to fruition. She begged to see my eyes, to look into their never-ending blue depths and to see all her love emulated into a single human creation, and when I opened my eyes she found:
She prayed hard that night. Prayed as she left a little, soaked bundle in the loft, wrapped in nothing but a fragment of saddle cloth from a horse my father had put down some months ago. Perhaps she had wanted me put down, too. Perhaps she thought I was some creature born from her sins – not of love, but of atonement. Regardless, it was the last I saw of my mother. It was the last anyone had seen of my mother.
And amongst the men, I grew. My father came for me in the early morning. He thought nothing of my eyes, but rather worried more for my health. It would be foolish to think he did so in the name of parental affection. He cared not whether I lived or died, but what he did worry about was the planting of his crops and the care of his farmland. If he were to keep me alive, would I survive only to lead a life of fragility and be unable to even keep the house? It would be a heavy burden to care for a daughter who would never be able to marry and do the basic task of womanhood. If I showed a hint of weakness, he would take me back into the barn loft. It was an archaic form of euthanasia, one which was often left for the dogs and sick livestock. That was what I was to my father – an asset, minor livestock to be raised and to eventually benefit the family. My death would have been a loss, no matter how minor my worth truly was, and he could only hope that my survival would be a gain.
I can’t hate him for it. The life of a farmer is a hard one, without the added frustrations of a sickly child. But I could certainly never love him for it, either. It didn’t rightly matter. My father wasn’t of the loving sort. Once I had proven my worth, living in and out of that loft for the first portion of my young life, and never once catching illness, even during the heaviest of downpours, I was brought into the house. It wasn’t long after that I was bullied back to it – to seek sanctuary from the torment of my brothers, my teachers, and my classmates. Even the animals had begun to torment me. I felt it in the way they watched me as I walked through the fields. Their blank gazes followed me from dawn till dusk, and never did they get close enough for me to touch. They wouldn’t come near their hay until I’d left it, and even then they barely touched it. It had escalated to the point that they would stop eating all together. My brothers said the hay smelled of death when I touched it, and the animals could smell it, too.
The eye – the single green eye was the physical creation of my torment. Even when I slept, in the darkness I could feel it lurch about in my skull. It was alive, you see. It did what it wanted. Some nights, I awoke in the middle of the night to a burning sensation in my left eye – that eye. It would burn and simmer, like a festering sore inside my skull. Could you imagine? Having a boil burning inside your head? Why did I suffer nightly because of it?
The eye looked at things. During the night, it opened of its own accord, and would simply look. It wouldn’t blink. It wouldn’t close. It would open and gaze out into the night until it dried out, which would then wake me. The only nights of peace I ever received were when it rained. My eye could open and watch and the rain would hydrate it again.
But that had only been the beginning of my torment. It had taken on a life of its own, it had developed a voice – one which seemed to echo in my brain and bounce about in my skull.
It would whisper, “Dream not through the night.”
And I would plead, “No, Devil. I wish to sleep. Why must you torment me so?”
“Your sleep will be wrought with fears. We must pray.”
“No, no! I will not hold council with you, Devil. Leave me to rest.”
But the eye never would rest. It continued on with its ramblings until I could hardly tell my own thoughts from those of the eye. The rambling ranged from prayer to pleas, and once those prayers slipped into my waking hours, I knew something needed to be done. I was becoming like my mother, a paranoid zealot. As I prayed in the field, I swore to myself and to God that I would be rid of my demon – my mother – once and for all.
It was a disgusting act, and it could all be traced back to my birth. Back to when my mother left me to soak in the rain. My first night alive on this planet, and the woman who carried me for nine months left me in the soaked hay to rot in the rain. Was I not worth those nine months? Had my conception and birth truly been for nothing? She had been the one who created me. She had been the one to make the eye. Why did I have to suffer for the sins of my mother?
Was that why she feared me so? Because she feared herself?
But it didn’t matter. The water, the thing which I had survived and found comfort in, had cleansed me and my eye. Cleansed it so I could see what needed to be done. There was one night, when the rain began to pour and my right eye opened to join my left in its vigil that I became truly aware of what needed to be done. The lightning danced above like chains in the sky and lit my loft until it was filled with the strangest shadows. In the night I listened closely and heard the steady thrum of the blood within my body and the heart in my chest. My body was telling me something. My body was revolting against the devilish organ held within my socket. My body wanted to rid itself of the green boil inside my face, and I was happy to oblige. It was during that night, as I soaked in the rain and breathed in the heavy scent of manure and wet hay that I truly studied my body, and from there I made my plan.
The next morning, I sent my eldest brother to town with every penny I had. He pitied my unfortunate soul and did what I asked of him with little questioning. I was beyond grateful. I couldn’t go out in public. Not until it was done. He came back that evening with what I most desired, but had most feared. It was a tiny hand mirror, encrusted in silver metal which had begun to tarnish green – a fitting color, I decided. The glass itself was completely intact, and that was all I had cared about. It would do for my task. Yet, what had begun to haunt me more so than the eye was that of my own reflection. I did my best to avoid meeting my own gaze, but my curiosity always managed to lure me in, and throughout my morning chores I would find myself sliding the mirror from my pocket to study my visage.
I was a woman. There was no question about it. I don’t wish to seem prideful, but if I had been born without the eye, my father would have had no problem finding a husband for me. My cream skin was tinted honey, a shade which was uncommon amongst the burnt farmer daughters. My hair had been bleached white from years toiling out in the sun when most of my female peers had been kept indoors. I was more than a farmer’s daughter, I was exotic. Yet, as beautiful and exotic as I appeared, all who I came in contact with feared me. Perhaps I was feared for more than just my eyes – though they were a sight to behold, too. They had bags beneath them, one of the few flaws to be found, but when gazing into them, first blue, then green, I found myself hypnotized. I decided then it was some form of witchcraft or magic and promptly stopped myself from looking any longer. I wouldn’t. Not until it was time.
Night seemed to crawl into the day, and I waited anxiously in my loft once my chores had been completed. I set the mirror up on hay bales I had stacked during the day. I needed it to be my station. Before the sun had completely disappeared, I fumbled in the hay and the darkness where I found my candle, wrapped in the very saddle cloth which had kept me alive at my birth. It was special, that way. I lit the wick and set the candle beside my mirror. Within seconds I heard the soft shuffle and clatter of my brother with dinner. He clambered up the ladder, loud, but silent. He simply slid the tray across the floor and I listened a bit longer for him to slide down the ladder and fumble out of the barn again, leaving me once more in silence.
I felt my way over to the tray and pulled it to my work station where I studied it under the candle light. It was chicken of some kind, though I could scarcely make out its shape. The dim light of the candle casted a shadow over the meal, darkening the meat until it looked like something more. Like a child, perhaps? I plucked up the silverware and held it close to the candle. A knife and a spoon were my tools, and the latter was what I chose. With my remaining utensil, I stabbed the shadowy chicken and watched a blackened fluid pour from the wound. I couldn’t tell if it was blood or juices. I took it as an omen and my body physically wilted at the impending surgery which I was about to perform.
It was too late. I had gone too far to stop, and my resolve was strengthened by the cacophony of thunder above. I rested my meal in my lap, clenched the spoon, and gazed into the mirror. It would be the last time I looked in the mirror and saw my face as it had been. I lifted the spoon to my face and pressed the chilled metal against my bottom eyelid. Sweat and cold metal will forever be the most frightening of combinations, and it would haunt me for years to come. I took in a shaking breath, then shoved in the spoon.
It was a searing pain at first. My body writhed and revolted against the intrusion, more so than it ever had over the very organ which I was scooping from my socket. My hand twitched with agony and heated trails of blood warmed my cheek. I wanted to stop. I wanted to pull it out and start over, but I couldn’t. I had to pull out the eye first. My heart was thrumming even harder in my chest which only made it harder to breathe. I was going to faint. As dark as it was in the loft, nothing could compare to the darkness which intruded my mind, gradually covering my brain with a fuzzy mold which made it hard to even think.
The thunder cheered above, right before a steady stream of rain began to pour in. It cooled my flesh and washed away the blood. My body seemed to calm at its arrival. I took in one breath, another, and another, then I began at my work again, determined to finish what I had started. I would succeed. I tried to look into the mirror, to steady my work, but my vision had blurred to the point I couldn’t see through the darkness.
I shut my blue eye and scooped. With a rush of air the spoon came free, and for a moment I felt a slight pull, then nothing. A fleshy blob plopped against the skin of my cheek, and all was silent except for the gentle pitter patter of the rain above. I couldn’t really feel the eye, but there it was, warming my cheek and occasionally tugging from the force of the rain. All that was left between me and the bane of my existence was a string of flesh. All I had to do was break it, and I would be free. But for a split second, I felt the urge to push the eye back into place. Perhaps the eye was more powerful than I had ever imagined, or perhaps it was my own fear coming back to haunt me. I could fix it if I wanted to. I could start over and all would be well. It was a feeling so jarring, my hands trembled with anticipation, and the spoon clattered to the floor, slipping from my grip. Could it be pushed back in? I raised my hand as if to try, but then I thought of that damn eye and its demands. I couldn’t let that thing win.
I gripped the fleshy pulp in my hand and yanked it free.
The moment it was separated from the cord, I felt an intense rush of nausea, and I was wrought with the image – or perhaps a memory – of my mother pulling me free from her, screaming and writhing in a world of rain and lightning.
The organ plopped into the plate at my lap. I focused my remaining eye there just in time for a strike of lightning to illuminate the loft so I could see my blood mixing amongst the juice and the meats. There was no way I could tell the difference. I had lost my appetite.
Then I gazed into the mirror. All I could see was the smudge of my silhouette amongst the darkness. I needed another flash of lightning. One more and I could see my freedom. The result of my operation would finally be revealed to me. I needed to know it was all truly finished. I would be normal. I would finally be normal.
Oh, but what a fool I was.
The lightning flashed.
I met my gaze in the mirror, and where my green eye had been there was now a gaping hole in my skull. Darkness returned and all fell silent once more. I reached up to my face and slid a finger into the cavern. Empty – it was totally empty. I had mutilated myself. Rather than carry the burden of a different eye, I had performed the ultimate sin: I had destroyed God’s creation. Perhaps it hadn’t been my mother’s sin which I had carried. Perhaps it had been my own. Or worse yet, perhaps it had been a gift. What had I done? My heart didn’t thrum, my body didn’t writhe. I just sat there: numb.
Then, within the silence, I could hear the voice of a woman echoing within the confines of my socket. My mother, I assumed. She was praying.
“Please, Lord. Forgive me for not trusting in your plan. You have given me the task of raising a child with such a gift, but I cannot. My fears will not let me, though I know you have a reason for it all. Have mercy on my weak soul, and on her blessed one. Please don’t let her suffer, and please do not let her become me.”
I let out a sob and lay on the hay. It no longer smelled of death, but instead had taken on the aroma of blood and viscera. I was deafened by what sounded like the cry of a newborn. I didn’t realize it was my own voice fading into the downpour until I finally allowed my consciousness to disappear completely.
And for the first time since my birth, I slept.
I hope you enjoyed this short teaser. Let me know, and comment below. Thank you for reading.
Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know! Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! Don’t be shy!
There are plenty of guides on how to do this. Plenty to be found on the internet, but a lot of them, I have found, don’t have examples, which I will be sharing with you all today. If you didn’t already know, there is a general consensus on how to format a manuscript, and this has been done since typewriters, which explains why things are formatted a certain way.
First off, let me disclaimer: Not every publisher will follow these guidelines.
I feel like this is the main problem a lot of people have. They think everyone will follow the same format, but that is just not the case. The majority will use this format, but you should still read their guidelines before sending anything in.
The number one reason for rejection is disregard for the general submission guidelines! Remember that!
Anyway, on to the list and example (which will be at the end)!
First off, if you have Scrivener, a lot of this will be done for you and is set up as default, so you may not have to worry about this. For those of you who don’t, Courier (any of its varieties), is the most accepted font. Times New Roman, Arial, and Garamond are also very popular so make sure to check the submission guidelines. So,
FONT Most common: Courier (any varieties) Other possible: Garamond, Arial, Times New Roman
COVER PAGE Name (Real, unless otherwise specified)
Address (Mailing preferred, billing may be requested later, unless otherwise specified)
Agent’s name (Omit when necessary)
Agent’s address (Omit when necessary)
Title (Formatting example at the end of post)
by Name (Pseudonym here if applicable, formatting example at the end of post)
PAGE NUMBERING In the top right corner on the second page, put the following in formation in the format:
LastName / StoryTitle / Page#
This should appear in the header portion of the manuscript.
Not every publisher will want this, as some prefer anonymous submissions to promote a fair review, so once again, check the submission guidelines before submitting. On the first page, in the same spot you placed the LastName / StoryTitle / Page#, you’ll put your approximate word count.
END PAGE At the very end of the manuscript, skip a line, then put: <<<< >>>>
This will signify the end of the manuscript.
With the start of summer break, my new internship, and my job, I’ve had a lot of trouble keeping up with my writing.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve been majorly slacking on a lot of things. Sure, I have excuses:
Tornadoes ripped through my state and my town, the great snowpocalypse, general anxiety… but writing is something that has always made me feel good. It comforts me, and to have avoided just because of sheer laziness is unacceptable. So, in order to keep myself on task, I have set up writing goals for myself so as to start the next school semester fresh and productive.
ONWARD TO THE LIST!
Have my three short horror pieces beta read…
I have already somewhat started on this, and a lot of these will pretty much be continuations of what I’ve started, but it needs to be out in the world. If I post it publicly, I will definitely feel more obligated to do it. If you’d like to help out, please fill out the contact sheet and let me know how much you’re willing to read and when.
Send my short stories out to as many publications as possible…
I am extremely lazy. BEYOND lazy. I desperately need to sit down, go through some journals and magazines, and filter through the horror market. I need to see where I can fit in, where I can’t, etc. I don’t want to burn bridges by just spamming my work, but I do need to make a more conscious effort to get out there. I’ve already sent one out. We’ll see what is done with it, then edit, edit, edit, if necessary. Then, send again.
Write for some themed journals…
I’ve never been in to those journals that only publish for a theme. I understand a genre, but themes have just never appealed to me. If I want to get out there, I need to be able to expand my horizons, so to speak. I need to be more willing to write for something else. It’ll increase my productivity immensely, and I will be able to test myself. I need to at least try.
Finish Ice Over, then go back to writing short stories… I love writing long pieces. I love it more than anything else in the world. Apocalyptia and An Austrian March were fun. But I need to become a better writer before I can continue to be a novelist. Short stories are just that, short. They don’t require too much time, though time is necessary. I can write a large amount, send them out, get critiques from a lot more people, and better my writing so I can eventually get back to novels. Ice Over will probably be the last long work I write for a long, long time.
Test the waters with my poetry…
This year, I thought, would be the year for my prose. It has actually been much more fruitful with my poetry. I’d like to explore my poetry a bit more and expand my skills in that field, too.
I, in general, just want to be more well-rounded as a writer. I thought I had found my place in the writing world, but I’m finding that there is so much more still to explore. Writing is a journey, and I’m taking it one step at a time.
Now, if you’ve made it this far, I want to ask you, what are your writing goals this summer? Anything special you’ll be working on? Let me know, and comment below!
Thanks for reading.
Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know! Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! Don’t be shy!