Black Halo: the Witch and the Guardian PREVIEW Part 5

REVISED version of

Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian

is coming out on TOMORROW! (Physical Copies of the novels will be available by this weekend!)

Preview Event:

PART 1 (Prologue, Chapter 1)

PART 2 (Interlude 1)

PART 3 (Chapter 2, Chapter 3)

PART 4 (Chapter 4, Chapter 5)


Blurb:

With the Light, came Magic, and the Witch. As mysterious as she was fearsome, and as powerful as she was merciless, the Witch almost succeeded in ending the world until she was vanquished by a hero and his comrades.

This is the legend of the Witch and the Guardian.

Centuries after the nigh calamity, this legend is as much as almost anyone knows of what truly happened back then and as much of an explanation anyone has of what ended an era in human civilization.

Though the people may never learn the whole story, you as the reader will follow the days that led up to how a young girl named Lily became immortalized as the Witch though her name, dreams and life became forgotten.


INTERLUDE II
THE HOMELESS & THE RUNAWAY

A cold, empty night. The better part of the city had already turned in long ago, and the void was filled only by vagabonds and stragglers. The noises of the day were reduced to mere rustles from hungry cats probing the trash, and the swoosh of straggling cars hurriedly making their way home. In an empty playground lit only by the flickering lampposts that should have been fixed long ago, a lone girl sat on the swings. For her, the darkness and the silence of the night were more comforting than the bright and bustling light of day. She felt safer without the people. Without their judging eyes. Without their noisy mouths. Without their mysteries. In the night’s shroud, she didn’t feel naked and vulnerable.

She looked up, her head tilting skyward only by its weight. The skies were painted black and were studded with the shining glitter of luminous stars. The girl tried to count them all with her sunken eyes. As she counted, the tips of her naked feet gently brushed back and forth over the beauty bark that covered the playground. Although she spent most nights under the veil of the night sky, it was still hard to believe how many stars there were twinkling above. Counting them calmed her mind and gave solace through the sleepless nights. For her, slumber was short and sparse. Rest only came when her desperate body forced her into sleep out of survival, and the sleep was dreamless when they were good. But most of the time, her slumbers were nightmares reincarnated from the chaos she struggled with her mind while she was awake.

Beyond the horizon, the night’s endless black sea was split by the pillar of white light piercing the skies. The Light was another tool for her restless mind to find some sort of peace. Some nights she’d stare off into the Light and buried her mind in its womb. It was there when she returned. It was there for her to go to. Though she doesn’t know how to go there, by what means to get there, or by when she needs to get there by. Even the reasons were now unclear. But an imperative calling in her heart urged her to go. A mission in her life; a promise from her past.

She looked down. The black band that appeared with her and the Light dangled on her wrist—always teasingly slipping out of her dainty hand. It was cold as ice. Even on the hottest days, it would be frigid and it was thin like a sheet of glass. But despite how thin it was, it felt tougher than the hardest of rocks.

It was her only possession and her only companion. Somewhere deep within her among the bodies of buried memories was a small kindle of memories that tried to remind her of its significance. An echo of the past that she wanted to—needed to remember. Or perhaps those were all just her imaginations.

Three young boys, drifters and wanderers of the empty city, watched the girl since she began counting the stars. With the shriveled hearts of scavengers and a foolish confidence deriving only from their number, the boys believed they were rulers of night. Behind a corner, shrouded by the night’s shadows, they amused themselves observing their prey. She was dressed in a jacket, which seemed to be a secondhand of a secondhand; a homeless man probably donned it until he saw a girl who seemed in need of charity even more than he did. Beneath the thin, shabby jacket, she donned a ruffled one piece dress that was barely excusable as clothing and seemed more fitting as rags. Its color was tarnished to such oblivion that one could hardly believe that it was once cloud white. Her tiny feet were filthy with dirt, mud, and god-knows-whatever-else she picked up on her barefoot journey, her face as pale as the moon, her hair pitch-black as the unlit night, and both littered with traces of her long and directionless journey. She was small. She was weak. She was alone.

The girl’s skin tightened, and her hair rose when she heard the flurry of footsteps coming her way. Without hesitation, she rose from her seat on the swing and began to flee away from the encroaching steps. Her body and mind were still fatigued. Her legs wobbled and she felt as if she could be carried away by the wind. She forced herself to flee as frantically as she could. She didn’t want to be a bother to anyone or even be a person of the faintest interest.

“Hey, you!” a voice pitched in that awkward range of a young boy transitioning into a young man called out to her. “Hold on a moment!”

Her heart beat violently, and her face was crushed with terror. Her eyes didn’t blink and kept themselves set on the outskirts of the playground. The exit. Just a little more. She heard the boys behind her trying to mute their laughter. As she wobbled faster, the boys gave a short and easy chase. The young drifters surrounded the dainty vagrant. They walked slowly to match the girl’s pace. The girl’s determination remained unshaken by the boys who surrounded her as she headed towards somewhere away from them.

“Going home?” The same voice from before now bluntly mocked her. It was a boy with a fresh buzz cut. The thin patches on his head and the baby sprouts of hair growing above his upper lip suggested he was a dirty blond. He wasn’t big, but plump, and squarely built. His face was scrunched together as if someone had squeezed the face of a ball of dough, and the dough was decorated with red spots of adolescence. Standing next to the homeless girl, he felt as if he was twice as big than he actually was.

The rest of his gang consisted of a short boy with curly ginger hair, freckles and metal braces that laced over his teeth, and a boy with skin the color of sand with thick black hair and even thicker eyebrows. He was the tallest of them all. The two laughed at their leader’s every remark.

“Are you a hooker?” The ginger boy asked. “Ma said any homeless girls running around are just hookers and no good addicts. Can I pay you for some services?”

The girl kept walking, whimpering a bit from fear. The boys laughed.

“Oh my god, she’s like a small dog,” The sandy boy remarked through his giggles. “I feel so bad for her. Hey, are you hungry?” He reached into his pocket and threw a piece of gum at the girl. She paid no attention to it as it bounced off her jacket. The girl ignored the boys and only focused on the edge of the playground that was getting closer and closer.

“Didn’t anyone teach you it’s rude to not to listen when people talk to you?” The buzz cut boy pulled her back and threw her onto the ground. “Maybe if you weren’t so rude, your parents would have kept you around…” The boy finished his sentence with a kick. The girl felt the air in her lungs erupt through her mouth, and the pain echoed fruitlessly as her mind and body were already long numb to the sensation. Her eyes stopped blinking and any twinkle of life was gone.

The boys ooo’ed and cackled.

“Jeez, son, how can you kick a girl?” The sandy boy laughed. “Didn’t yo daddy teach you not to lay your hands on women?”

“Hey, hey, what if she’s that Witch everyone’s talking about on TV?” The ginger boy masked his fear with a jovial tone.

“The Witch?” The buzz cut boy scoffed. “If she is the Witch, then she deserves to be kicked around a lil’, doesn’t she? And my daddy didn’t say nothin’ about laying hands on worthless garbage like her!” The buzz cut boy kicked her again and then stomped on her.

“Dirtyin’ up the streets and takin’ our money!” He stomped on her and then kicked her. “They’re filthy, man. Filthy! Get a job! Do somethin’ with your life! Stop leechin’ off of us people who’re doin’ somethin’!”

The only reaction from the girl was the sound of life escaping through her mouth in small grunts. After his short beating, the buzz boy poked her around a little bit with the toes of his shoe. Even through her thin jacket and one-piece dress, he could feel the bony body. The girl had barely any meat on her. He smiled satisfyingly realizing that his blows were probably very painful.

“Yeah! My daddy didn’t say nothin’ about worthless people like her either!” The ginger boy said as he mimicked the buzz boy by kicking the girl even more. His kicks were awkward and weak—especially compared to the previous attacker. He was the shortest of the bunch and his voice squeaked as if he was the youngest.

“You don’t have a daddy, Frankie,” The sandy boy remarked, looking the ginger boy dead in the eye.

“Shut up! Ass!” The ginger boy took his frustration out by kicking the girl across her face. A tear on her lip warmed her face with blood. He was swiftly smacked across the back of his head with such force by the buzz boy that he fell to the ground beside the girl.

“Don’t touch her face, you idiot!” The buzz boy yelled. “What are you, an animal?” He looked the ginger boy squarely in the eye who looked confused and barely holding back the tears.

The buzz boy knelt down near the girl’s face and inspected the damage.

“Hey…” the buzz boy gently slapped her face. “Hey, are you the Witch? Maybe we’re doing the world more than a favor right now. Maybe we’re about to be heroes.” He brushed her hair aside and was for a moment startled. There was blood on her perky lips. Dirt and small cuts on her white cheeks. But her eyes. Her eyes were wide open, yet dead. She didn’t have a scintilla of anger, fear, or sorrow. The eyes were simply there, witnessing.

“Why you starin’ at her, Johnny? You falling in love?” the sandy boy teased.

“Shut up, retard.” The buzz boy studied the girl closer. If they weren’t so dead, her eyes would have been entrancing. Her lips were shaped perfectly as if someone sculpted them on her. Her smooth face with its innocent features made Johnny blush. He flipped the girl over, and as if she suddenly awakened, the girl began to struggle violently. She violently flailed her arms and kicked her legs as much as she could with Johnny’s weight on top of her.

“Whoa, whoa! What are you doing Johnny?” the ginger boy spoke in shock.

“Shut up. You and Manny just watch to see if anyone’s coming,” Johnny spoke with his eyes glowing something grotesque and putrid.

“Hey… are you serious? Johnny? You’re crazy!” Manny sounded more excited than shocked.

As Johnny leaned in closer, the girl slapped him across the face. It was weak. It was pathetic. At the same time it was eye opening and degrading—especially with his boys laughing at him. He returned her slap with a proper rage-filled slap. Her arms and legs stopped flailing and her body stilled as if she was dead. The signs of life from her eyes were extinguished yet again.

Johnny’s lips quivered as he leaned in closer again for his first kiss.  Manny yelping like a kicked dog abruptly interrupted Johnny’s sacred moment. Before Johnny could complain, he felt a violent tug on his shirt. Without a moment to think, he was flung away from the girl. Johnny looked up and saw a boy near his age standing over him. His eyes were that of an angered beast, and his face was inhumanly distorted with anger. Johnny was staring at a real lion—an actual carnivore about to devour his meal.

Johnny tried to stand, but the beast pounced on top of him. Without giving Johnny even a chance to whimper the first syllable of his plea, the beast’s fist buried itself into the bully’s face.

“You…!” the beast spoke as his other fist buried into Johnny’s face.

“…Sick!…” Back to the original fist.

“…Cowardly!..” The other fist again.

“…Piece of…!” The right.

“…Garbage!…” The left.

With a roar, the beast wailed on with just brutality on Johnny’s face until his blood mulched into a nice cushion. Once the beast was done, Johnny stared silently at the beast with tears drizzling from his eyes. Defeated and petrified with the fear that even breathing too loudly would earn him more beatings. The beast, still on top of Johnny, now turned his attention to the rest of Johnny’s posse. Manny and Frankie had been frozen with their eyes bearing the horror. They weren’t sure if they were breathing through the entire frenzy. Without protest, they frantically stumbled to their feet and fled hysterically from the scene.

“Get out of here.” The beast dismounted from the buzz boy and stood over him. “If I see you doing things like this again, I’ll bury you.” The beast inspected his battered hands. The adrenaline-induced numbness was diminishing. His hands were a bloody pulp, bruised, and torn, but not all of the blood was his. He stared down Johnny as the boy struggled to stand. With a battered face that his mother might not even recognize, Johnny glimpsed at the beast before limping away from the playground without a single word or complaint.

With buzz boy leaving, the boy checked up on the girl.

“Are you okay?” The boy crouched beside the girl. Her eyes were glued to the skies and he looked up along with her to see what she was seeing. Stars. Countless stars that filled the skies. He glimpsed back at her and his heart sunk at how void of life her eyes were.

“Hey,” the boy tried again, clearing his throat. “Are you alright? They’re gone now.” He reached his hand out to gently nudge her shoulders. As the boy’s battered hand closed in on the girl life came back into her eyes. It startled the boy. She let out a scream and scurried away from the boy. That startled him even more. She hid under a big metal slide, hugging her legs close, and buried her head into them.

“Geez!” the boy chuckled as he studied his hand. “Ow! I guess I wouldn’t want to be touched by these hands either…” The boy looked at the girl whose head was still buried into her legs.

“Promise you won’t tell,” the boy said with a smile to his audience of one who paid no attention to him. He stared at his hands and concentrated. A stream of energy engulfed his hands as if every particle of his skin was becoming part of the stream itself. He wondered if this was smart. It wouldn’t be too surprising for her to turn against him knowing now that he was a Gifted. She could probably also find herself someone who’d pay her well for the information. His hands slowly began to repair themselves, knitting together the torn flesh and even ‘burning’ away the mess of blood on them into streams.

“Ta-da~!” The boy looked up at the girl and wiggled all of his fresh fingers. To his surprise, she was looking his way. Her eyes were opened as wide as they could be, and her hand stretched as far it could with her trembling palm facing him. Startled, the boy lost his balance and fell backwards only to be saved from his tumble by a wall.

A wall?

There should be nothing but an empty space behind him. The boy quickly looked back to find the buzz boy standing behind him with a brick in his hand frozen in motion from striking down.

The boy looked at the girl. It was her doing. She was a Gifted like him.

“You… frea…ks!” Johnny, with much effort, barely managed to squeeze out those words through his teeth. The girl closed her palm into a fist, and the brick in Johnny’s hand spilled down his arm as dust.

The rescuer now the rescued met eye-to-eye with his could-have-been-assailant in amazement.

“Wow,” he gently admired. “This is pretty cool.” As he poked at Johnny who was clearly annoyed by the gesture, the boy started to recall the things he heard of the most famous Gifted of them all. The pieces and hints of her that he had heard on the news and during his travels. His guts told him he had found her but his head refused to believe those pieces and hints put together painted a young, homeless girl.

“You really shouldn’t have come back, man.” The boy clenched his hand into a fist. “I think you earned yourself another beating.” His fist cut through the air and stopped right before it made contact on Johnny’s face. Fresh tears began to drizzle down Johnny’s eyes and his pants darkened.

“No sense in it, is there?” The boy turned his head to the girl. “Can you let him go?”

She seemed surprised and uncertain. But she nodded and lowered her hand. As the hold on Johnny’s body released, Johnny collapsed onto the ground. He quickly studied the hand that held the brick and then analyzed the damage on his pants.

“You should run,” the boy said.

Johnny fled on all fours until he eventually found himself on his two feet at the edge of the playground. He took a glance at the boy and a glance at the girl then walked away, cursing under his breath as he left.

“You freaks will have what’s coming!” Johnny turned back once he had reached the exit to the playground and spoke just loud enough to be barely considered a shout.

“Maybe I should have smacked him once more,” the boy spoke light-heartedly as he watched the bully walk away with his tail between his legs. He turned to the girl with a smile and said, “But given what people think about us with these ‘gifts,’ I thought we ought to be a little more generous than others. My mom always did say to be the bigger man.” The girl’s head was buried in her legs once again; except, this time he noticed she was furtively peeking out at him. The boy shook out his shaggy dark hair for the little bits of brick dust that got sprinkled in from earlier.

“Thanks by the way,” the boy said. “We should get out of here. It’s especially not safe for people like ‘us.’” He squinted to find her peeking eye in the darkness. As their eyes met, she hid it away behind her legs. The boy walked gingerly towards the girl and sat just barely a hands reach away from her. She flinched a little bit, but there weren’t any screams or fleeing.

Progress?

“Hey,” The boy spoke softly as he would to a young child. “Did you hear me? It’s not safe at night—especially for someone tiny as you. They might come back. Maybe with even more people now that he knows we’re couple of freaks.”

No response. Not even a budge. She reminded the boy of a hedgehog rolled up into a ball, hiding away from the scary world. He poked at the ball with his finger. Her body was cold, stiff, and thin.

The boy searched his bag and pulled out a small, white paper bag.

“You’ve got to be starving,” the boy said as he pulled out a white, powdered, jelly donut from the paper bag. “Here,” he said as he wiggled the donut in front of the girl. She gave it no real attention.

“It’s really good,” the boy said as he tore the donut in two and put the half of it in his mouth. He wasn’t exactly sure why he thought doing this would help to entice her to eat it as well other than that he saw it on TV and movies. But perhaps because of the smell of the donut’s sweet nectar, the sight of its glistening jelly under the moonlight, or simply from having to witness someone devour a meal with an empty stomach, the girl’s eyes twinkled as she quietly and secretly observed the boy. The boy carefully offered her the remaining half of the donut and she cautiously accepted with slightly trembling hands. She first sniffed the soft and powdery bread with certain amount of discretion. Her eyes widened and she sniffed the bread again with a bit more excitement. It wasn’t long before she finally decided to lick the jelly. A lick quickly turned to two and the two turned into a bite after bite until the donut was no more.

“Why didn’t you stop them if you could do what you did back there?” The boy worryingly asked as he watched the girl finish the donut. As he had expected she didn’t give him an answer and he quietly watched her licking the red goo off her fingers. After she was done the girl stared at the boy as if she wanted to say something. Her lips moved ever so slightly as if she had said something to him before she went back into her cocoon again.

“Well, I’m gonna go then. You’re on your own, alright?” The boy stood up and began to walk slowly away from the girl. He peeked back to check if there was any response from the hedgehog.

There wasn’t.

He almost made it out of the playground until he realized his actions were futile and made a U-turn back to her. She peeked at the footsteps coming back to her. The girl observed as the boy tossed aside his backpack and took his jacket off. The boy was stripped to his thin, plain white t-shirt. The season was getting warmer, but lacking a jacket made him realize it was still formidably chilly during the night. When he turned her way, the girl hid away once more. She felt his jacket softly caress her. The boy then took off his shoes and his socks. He stuffed his socks into his shoes and placed them by her feet.

“A girl should be wearing shoes,” the boy remarked. “And I swear those socks are clean. They’re a new pair I just got.”

After he gave the girl the gifts, the boy gave her a comfortable distance before finding a place to sit. He hugged his legs much like her but for warmth. Shivering slightly, he buried his head into his legs. The boy constantly reminded himself that he was a sentry for the evening and he was not to fall asleep. The girl, however, unlike the boy watchman, slipped into slumber after the violent incident took the last ounce of energy out of her.

He stayed awake for hours until the black night sky waned to a lighter purple from the rising sun. His young mind relented to fatigue for what he figured to be half-an-hour, or perhaps three-quarters-of-an-hour of slumber. When he opened his eyes, he noticed the jacket he gave the girl was no longer blanketing her. Instead, the jacket blanketed him.

“Thanks,” he quietly muttered uncertain if she was still awake. The girl carefully poked her head above her legs. They stared awkwardly in silence for a short moment.

“My name is Kalin,” the boy introduced himself. “Want to go get some breakfast? I’m starving.” He wasn’t really that hungry, but he felt the need to feed the girl. “I can pay for us.” Kalin stood and gave his body a morning stretch before he offered his hand to the girl. The girl stared at the boy with her eyes filled mostly with curiosity and still slightly with intimidation. Ever so carefully, her gauntly hand reached out for his. When her hand softly landed into his, he gently enclosed his hand around hers.

For her, the small gesture was a paramount reminder.

A reminder of how much warmth there was supposed to be when you touch another person. Even though his hand and her hand were both frigid from the night, warmth ignited within her as his hand wrapped around hers.

“Ruby.”

Her voice was so soft that it sounded like a gentle wind passing by.

“My name is Ruby.”

The revelation made the smile on the boy’s face even wider. With Ruby’s hand in his, Kalin led them out into the daylight.


Revised Edition of Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian will be released TOMORROW  (12/9/2015)!

Keep Up With  the Updates!
Twitter: @ASAramiru
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Black Halo: the Witch and the Guardian PREVIEW Part 1

Hello Everyone!

If everything goes as planned the revised version of the novel should be released on 12/9/2015!

I decided to post a chapter or two from the revised version of the novel everyday until release so everyone can get a taste of what it’s like.

After the release of the revised version of the novel, I’ll do a discussion piece of what changes were made and why we made them.

Enjoy! Feel free to leave me any comments, questions, and complaints that you may have!

ARAMIRU OUT

Keep Up With  the Updates!
Twitter: @ASAramiru
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ASAramiru


 


Prologue

a Recorder’s Search


“Kalin?” the Witch called to her redheaded follower. He turned his head towards her as he gently held her hand.

Master Raina,

It’s hard to imagine the world of before. Before magic, the Great Calamity, and the Witch. What remains of the past provides us with only glimpses, but never the whole story.

From the ashes, we were left with only children’s tales passed on from generation to generation regarding the fate of the Old World. We’ve all heard it at least once in our childhood from either our parents or grandparents. With the passing of time and shifting narrators, the tale naturally shed the light of its truth and garnished itself with embroideries. I am, of course, referring to the tale of the Witch and the Guardian.

Even with the variations it has seen through the cycles of storytellers across the world, the core of the tale remains the same. It always begins with the time of the Old World when men built the world with just their hands. And then one day, without warning, the Light appeared. A mysterious light that could be seen no matter where a person may be. And with it came magic and the Witch.

 

“If things were not the way they were, where do you think we would be?” The Witch looked out to the vast ocean with a cold gaze. At the end of the horizon, the Light.

 

The tale is never clear on why the Witch started her war against humanity. Some iterations say that the Light gave birth to the Witch to carry out its will, believing that the Light and the Witch were both a judgment from the gods who ran out of patience for mankind’s arrogance and foolishness. Some variations say that the Witch was just a bitter woman who was granted enough power from the Light to spread her anguish throughout the world. And then there are those that simply claim the Witch to be a creation of pure evil that came as the shadow to the Light.

 

The Witch’s follower couldn’t find an immediate answer to such a question out of the blue.

 

No matter who the storyteller, one fact remains the same: the Witch is always the enemy of mankind. Even during the infancy of magic, it was said that she wielded unimaginable powers which dwarfed even the greatest of man’s inventions.

Beyond the children’s tale, whispers among those wiser of what truly happened say that the Witch planned to do this with a device of catastrophic powers—the device that ushered in the Great Calamity and, with it, the end of the Old World: the artifact only known as the Black Halo.

 

“Probably somewhere with less fire, less blood, and less of all of this,” the follower replied.

 

No one’s certain on the specifics of its powers, but the magnitude of it is clear from the ruins of the past. If the Witch had had her way, there would have been nothing left. Despite that, the tale of the Witch and the Guardian is that of courage and preservation. The tale ends with a brave hero who challenged the Witch in a grand and desperate battle for the fate of the world. Before the Witch could realize her dream, her blood soaked the hero’s blade and she fell unfulfilled. The people may have faced the Great Calamity, but at the end they had rebuilt their civilization with the newfound gift of magic.

It is the duty of the Guild of Recorders to preserve as much as we can of the history and passing times for the future. It is our duty to prevent losing the world once again. Perhaps it is due to my youth, but as a member of the guild I cannot help but continue pursuing my curiosity on this tale that I was told of as a child.

 

“But I’d like to think that at least somewhere, at some time, we would have met.”


 

 

 

 

 

PART ONE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1
A DREAM OF THE WORLD’S END

She never called for the sandman, but he came for her anyway. To most, this might not be a notable event, but for Kiara it always was. When she awoke from the uninvited slumber, her body was drenched in sweat and her eyes were moist with tears. Her dorm room was still brightly lit with the light she hadn’t turn off and she was lying on the floor beside the bed that she couldn’t reach in time. Kiara grabbed onto the bed sheets and pulled herself up. She sat on the bed, burying her head into her hands. Her hands trembled. And her eyes forgot to blink.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

It wasn’t the first time she had had an episode after a dream nor did she expect it to be her last. But these dreams were always more vivid and memorable than the ordinary ones.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.

She glanced at her novelty cat clock on the wall, and the cat mocked her with a stupid grin on its face as it playfully swung its tail left and right. He told her it was almost twenty minutes after midnight. She had been dreaming for a few hours. It was already long past lights out, and it was unlikely that anyone was still awake. The polite thing to do would be to wait ‘till tomorrow before she alarmed the Director. The reserved thing to do would be to just shut her eyes once more, but this time go to sleep by her choice.

Breathe in. Breathe out.  BREATHE IN. BREATHE OUT. BREATHEIN. BREATHEOUT.

But the visions were relentless. The room became smaller and smaller as the clicks from the vile cat grew louder and louder.

 

Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.

 

She had to go.

The light from Kiara’s room lit the dark hallway as her door violently swung open. Kiara walked briskly, restraining herself from sprinting or stomping. As she breezed through the hallway, the lamps between the doors of her dorm-mates dimly lit and acknowledged her presence even though the dorm-mates themselves were deeply asleep. The remnants of her dream refused to leave her mind.

The Witch stood before a colossal gate at the peak of a grand white staircase. The gate slowly opened, and the blinding light from beyond flooded the room. The Witch stepped into the light, and the gate closed behind her.

Kiara reached the stairs that led to the lounge below. The lounge, lit only by the fireplace left burning through the night, was bright enough to reveal the piano and the pool table with the balls neatly organized inside the wooden triangle. Someone had forgotten to put away the blankets on the sofas in front of the television.

“One of your oracles is up and frantic, Nancy.” A man with a lingering accent reported to his boss through the telephone. There were watchful eyes all around the facility and this man was in the room center of them all. He had his legs up on the tables where the monitors revealed all that the watchful eyes could see. One hand resting behind his head and the other on the phone, he watched as Kiara descended the stairs too hastily and recklessly. Her feet tangled at the last couple of steps and she finished her descent downstairs by falling. Her landing didn’t go unnoticed by those sleeping in the rooms nearby but they dismissed it quickly and returned to slumber.

The aged man tried to hold his laughter, but it managed to squeeze past through his clenched teeth.

“Which one, Yuri?” The female voice on the other end of the call was sharp and agitated.

“It’s the one that sees forwards and not backwards,” Yuri replied no less playfully than before as he scratched on his rough five o’clock shadow. He knew he was probably the only person who can get away with such behavior given that he had known her since she was a child as her father’s friend. He liked to exercise the privilege whenever he could.

“You should get to her soon, Nancy. She’s in such a hurry she decided to fly down the stairs.” The call ended without a reply. Yuri placed the phone down on the table and united the freed hand with his other hand behind his head as he continued to amuse himself watching the frantic girl.

After some moaning and groaning, Kiara dragged her body to the bathroom. As she opened the bathroom door, chilly air scented with lemons and oranges escaped from the darkness. Heaters were off. Power conservation was in place for the night. Her body gave a quick shiver as her bare feet touched the cool tiles. The wall adjacent to the door was dimly lit with the soft light from the touch screen pad. She placed her finger over the ON icon and the subsequent burst of light made her cringe. The whirl of the heaters coming on, and its gentle warm breeze immediately filled the room. The rows of sinks, bathroom stalls, and the shower booths revealed themselves with the light. These were all luxuries to help them forget how far they were from their homes. The bathroom seemed larger without other girls going through their morning and evening routines. The quietness felt strangely lonely this evening.

Her breathing had calmed down but her heartbeat still echoed through the empty bathroom. Kiara placed her hands under the faucet and it let loose a flow of clean cold water. For a little while, she simply let the water slip through her fingers. The visions of the dream were still clear. She cupped her hands to catch the cool water and splashed it across her face.

 

Some time has passed since the Witch entered the gate. Kiara knew as if the dream had whispered it to her. She now stood in various parts of the world and saw firsthand the world being tested for its survival. Mother Nature violently struggled as if she battled for her life. Earth split across the globe, gusts of wind swept across civilization, endless rain drowned all those that couldn’t fly, and rocks and fire rained from the sky to bury all that was remaining.

Mankind retaliated against Mother Nature with wars and drew blood from one another to survive. Dead bodies blanketed the streets. Children that were left without families and left with blood in their eyes chose to continue their parents’ war.

Civilizations decayed into anarchy, and Mother Nature never forgot to remind mankind how small it was. For every scar that mankind gave her, she eviscerated them with all of her wrath. Even beasts, familiar and foreign, rose against mankind to save their place in the crumbling world. A miasma of death blanketed whatever was left. The world as it was once known was no more. No more since the Witch entered the Light.

 

Warm tears mixed with the cool water drizzled down Kiara’s face. She looked toward the blinded windows in dreadful anticipation. Even if she couldn’t see it, she knew it was there. Kiara left the bathroom and headed for the padded doors that led outside. The doors were always a bit heavy, but especially during night when it was windy. She put her shoulder against the door and pushed. Chilly and dried up wind of the desert greeted her outside.

It was there. Over the horizon of the night sky was a thin line of light piercing skywards. She walked further and further away from the building and closer and closer to the Light. It’s been there since all this began. It was a silent but constant reminder to the world that change will come. No that the world already had changed. Kiara’s legs crumpled and she fell to her knees, her eyes still attached to the Light. Somewhere in the world she could also be watching the Light—planning to make what Kiara saw in her dream come true.

“Kiara?” a gentle, familiar voice called out to her from behind. She turned her head to find Ms. Jones behind her. Ms. Jones was still dressed in her lavish office attire and had her arms crossed to fight the chilly desert evening. Her eyes permeated with concern.

“I was told by security you were out here. What’s the matter?” Ms. Jones carefully asked as she approached closer.  Ms. Jones crouched down and placed her hand on Kiara’s shoulder. The Director’s warmth slowly dissipated Kiara’s anxiety but stirred her longing for someone to let her know that everything will be alright. Kiara’s tears ran freely down her eyes as she embraced Ms. Jones. The Director gently patted the crying child’s back

“What’s wrong?” Ms. Jones asked once more.

“It’s the Witch, Ms. Jones,” the Oracle-That-Sees-Forward answered through her tears. “I think she’s going to do something horrible. I think she’ll be the end of us all.”

Ms. Jones looked beyond the crying teen’s shoulders and saw the Light piercing the skies with the unanswered questions it held. She wondered what value the answers may have. Until then, Nancy regarded the Light as a puzzle for a bored mind to ponder about. The Witch, the Light, and the Gifted were all probably part of a grander scheme, but Nancy’s aim was to simply find her place within that vast plan. But her instincts were never silent and whispered to her that her greater ambitions were going receive their calling. Her instincts told her that today was the day her curiosity will grow into something more.

“There, there…” Nancy gently patted Kiara on the back. “We won’t let that happen, Kiara. That’s why we’re here.” The Director gave a small kiss on her student’s forehead.

“Tell me more, Kiara. What did you exactly see?” Nancy asked as she embraced the oracle tightly against her chest. Her eyes were set on the Light as the child spoke softly in her ears of the dream of the world’s end.

 

Walking the Fine Line: Review Trading

Let’s begin by murdering the elephant in the room with a buckshot, skinning her with a rusty knife, and harvesting her ivory for pristine piano keys–I’m against it.

Review trading is a blatant hush-hush among indie writers that some participate without much thought, some with the belief that it’s just part of the game, and some with guilt that’d make Catholics envious.

The title for this entry was a forewarning because this is a complicated matter and my position on it is a bit of a fine waltz (or an awkward crunk) that could be easily misconstrued (like an awkward crunk). I readily admit that I could be shining my own position and this problem with the wrong kind of bulb.

What it actually is is simple: Author A asks Author B that they should read each other’s books and give each other reviews.

The concern lies within the innuendos that may or may not be there… like back when you were 16 at a keg party and talking to Minji Kim the Asian cheerleader that you’ve had a crush on before she developed and became popular so you know that you were into her for her soul and personality and she’s slightly tipsy and you are too and you don’t get if she’s hitting on you or not but her boyfriend Derek is across the room sipping on his red plastic cup and glaring at you like a diseased hawk with quads that’d burst your cherries like balls if he decided to kick you in the grapes.

Theoretically, the two authors would take their times to photosynthesize each other’s books and emit onto one another honest reviews and breathe in whatever the other had to say.

Because as we all know, criticisms are often more beneficial than praises (remember this because I’m going to tell you later how I lied by simply omitting four words).

Here’s the not-so Shayamalan: reality is a dick.

You see, criticisms are often more beneficial than praises for honing your craft. Criticisms are not often more beneficial than praises for paying your bills.

Yes, yes. Perhaps by having honest criticisms people would improve and write better books that’d sell to more people.

Again, theoretically true, but not always true in reality.

Selling is about marketing. Whether something is good or not doesn’t really matter as long as the package is good.

For books that’s about reviews and it’s cred. Sadly, unlike movies, most books cannot sell on notoriety of being bad. Especially considering as time passes, more and more people are thinking of books as sort of an investment–time investment. Why should they spend the time and money they could be using watching 3 minute videos on YouTube and Facebook and etc. on a bad book?

Specifically, for indie authors, this means the number of stars and the number of reviews attached to the name of their novel. Book marketing, like anything else, is complex and expensive but the foundation of it (for indie authors at least) starts from there.

So let’s go back to Author A and B. There isn’t a writer out there who’s not aware of this. Everyone’s aware that bad reviews can tangibly harm someone’s writing career.

I think most of us can agree that there’s some immorality there if the two understood they’d give each other a positive review no matter what.

However, the gray seeps in when the pressure to give one another honest reviews is challenged by peculiar circumstances.

Lets say Author A wrote a fantastic book and received a glittery review from B. But B wrote a dull novel and A was planning on giving them a review that reflected exactly that.

After receiving a good review, understandably, A could feel the pressure to plant some flowers into his review for B.

A is simply a person not wanting to harm someone who’s done them a favor.

“Favor”, as it often does, becomes the gray word here.

To prevent this problem from ever happening, many writers suggest to simply not ask other writers to trade reviews.  Let them discover your novel like any other readers and give you a review as an audience. Or ask a writer to simply give you a review with an understanding that this is a clean favor you’re asking from them and not a transaction.

But many of us starting out writers do need help from our peers to make it past the first few steps of our careers.

A method I found that is mostly acceptable is to give one another private reviews and ask for permission if they’d be okay with the review being public. Of course, this being discussed beforehand that the review will be performed in such a manner.

There’s a problem with this too, however, in that you could give someone a poor review and if you’re involved in a poor circle of writers this may circulate a bad branding to your name and people might not support you as they are aware that you probably don’t present them with any benefits.

Business be business, people be people, and life be life.

I’m writing about this topic because I felt like I missed a better timing for it. A writer friend of mine, Jessica Wren, invited me into her co-op group for authors.

As far as I know so far, they seem to be good people looking to help one another’s careers with integrity. I’m happy to be part of the group. Jessica is a pretty awesome person that I am glad to have met.

We’re all in this together. We’re all trying to make self and indie publishing a legitimate source for novels and storytelling. There’s no sense in cannibalizing our own fragile credibility for a small chance at brief success.

The road for indie writers is still unpaved, littered with broken glass, and filled with robbers.

What they shouldn’t take away from us are our names. Let’s protect that together.

ARAMIRU OUT!


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a Date with Emily Wolf

Did you ever hear the cries of a blue jay?

It sounds like a drunken Tinkerbell screaming for her life.

I’m starting out with that because that’s apparently how I’ll be starting out this morning. On a goddamn Saturday morning no less.

You see in my mind, if I wasn’t so lazy, I already went to the garage, broke down my car, somehow fashioned myself a military grade flame thrower, and burned the whole tree down while laughing maniacally as I watched the blue jay make its last few drunken screams.

In pain.

Suffering.

Suffering as I did.

But I remind myself, goosefraba. Goooooooooooooooooosefraba. Find my center.

It is a lazy Saturday, after all. A blissful, restful, and maybe even a delightfully sinful day was waiting for me just outside those bedroom doors. Limitless possibilities.

Of course, I’m going to park myself on the couch and play video games.

Of course.

Maybe even order Pizza later because screw cookin’.

I’m going to enjoy this day all for myself, anyway I want it, however I want it, for however long I want it until the clock strikes midnight.

No one will bother me this day I think to myself as I grab a water bottle out of the fridge.

Ding-dong

I don’t care, Mormons! I say as I ignore the doorbell and turn on my game system.

Ding-dong

I don’t care! Girl Scouts! I’m going to punch some scrubs online! I say as I ignore the doorbell once again and pick up my joystick.

Bang-bang. They’re knocking–smacking–on the door.

Did… Did I pay my bills?

BANG-BANG. I’m pretty sure those are kicks.

When was the last time I did something to piss off the Yakuzas?

“Goddamn it! Open up! I know you’re in there!” She yells.

Emily. Emily Wolf.

I begrudgingly drag my body over and open the door. Soon as she heard the lock click, she barges in with that wide grin of hers.

“What up, nerd! It’s a beautiful day and you’re going to spend it cooped up in your room again?!”

I peek outside and it’s cloudy. It’ll probably rain soon.

“I didn’t know you were coming over today,” I say.

“Yeah, hope you don’t mind but Noah was taking care of some stuff and I was bored,” Emily says as she holds up a big bag she’s carrying. “I brought chicken though!”

Any complaint I have disappears with the smell of the chicken. I’m probably smiling already without realizing.

By the time I come to my senses, I’m by my kitchen counter opening up the bag and checking out my loots.

“Were you getting your butt kicked?” She asks as she fiddles around with my joy stick. “You always get your butt kicked. You were getting your butt kicked.”

She makes a whipping noise.

“I didn’t even get to play yet.” She got the extra crispy kind. Emily doesn’t like the extra crispy kind. I like the extra crispy kind.

I grab a couple of plates and dump some chicken, cob of corn and macaroni and cheese that came as the package for the two of us.

From afar it sounded like she was just smashing the buttons and the stick but by the time I set the plates on the table in front of the couch I’m surprised to find that she’s winning.

“Hell, yeah!” She screams as she secures the win. “I like this game. I should buy this game.”

“You don’t even have the console,” I take a big bite into the chicken.

Without looking down she grabs hers and does the same.

I always saw Emily with a sense of envy. She was that type of person that seemed to be so carefree but be so damn talented at everything.

It’s petty but I see her playing this game I’ve played since college. I know if she had wanted to, she could be better than I ever could be in a few months.

But, even then, I always enjoyed her compa…

“Why you just sitting there in silence, ya freak?” Emily asks as she sees me trailing off in my thoughts.

…ny. But today… or any other day soon I didn’t really want to see her.

“Kay, you’re starting to freak me out now,” Emily starts another match and hurriedly gobbles down glops of macaroni and cheese before it begins.

Because decisions were made and I had news I didn’t want to share with her. Something I wasn’t sure if it was either appropriate or inappropriate for me to share.

“Watch me make this kid cry,” she said with devilish grin. “Children’s tears are the fuel to my life source.”

I believe it.

“Emi…” I clear my throat to make it unnecessarily dramatic. “Emily.”

“I already have a boyfriend I love from the bottom of my heart, Mr. Writer,” Emily cuts me off.

“God damn, it.” I shut up and just watch her finish the match.

“What is it?” She sets the joystick down and looks at me.

“I think…” I pause again and make the mistake of making it unnecessarily dramatic once more. “I think need to tell you something.”

“Am I pregnant?”

“No.”

“Are you pregnant?”

“No.”

“Is Noah pregnant?”

“Just…” I let out a deep sigh.

“…What is it?” She’s serious now.

“Someone’s going to die,” I tell her. Great date.

Emily grin’s gone and she looks at me like she’s about to punch me. She scratches her fake blonde hair and lets out a sigh.

“What are you talking about?” She’s agitated.

I try to grab the chicken and she looks at me as if I’m committing a murder dodging her question.

“Hey!” She raises her voice. “I’m talking to you! Who’s going to die?!”

I’m a coward. I’m an asshole. Why did I say anything?

“Choke on it,” Emily tells me as she gets up and fixes her bomber jacket. She rushes over to the front door and I instinctively go after her against my better senses.

She grabs the door handle and pauses for a moment.

“Do what you got to do,” Emily says. “Just do what you got to do.”

I can’t give her a reply but she knows what it’d be.

It’s raining.

She walked out into the rain as I wonder if she regretted taking the time out of her life to visit someone like me.

But I know such a thought would offend her.

Emily Wolf regrets nothing.


Hello everyone!

This is a personal writing exercise that I’ve been asked by my editor and few others to share on this blog.

To get to know my characters better I go on a “date” with them to explore their thoughts, reactions, and just overall dimensions of what makes them a person.

Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it goes terribly. I’ll try to post a few more that I’ve done in the future.

The new edits are done for Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian and it should be live by 1 PM  PST 5/11/205!

Thank you everyone for your support!

Aramiru UP UP & AWAY!

But I’ll be back soon with the 9th Entry because otherwise I’d be a horrible person.

Keep Up With  the Updates!
Twitter: @ASAramiru
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It’s Happening!

” And like a perfectly mixed drink, Black Halo gives you a satisfying buzz without leaving you with a hangover. 

Check out this awesome review for my novel, Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian, by Jessica Wren!

http://jessicawrenfiction.com/

Always feels good to receive feedback! Time to up my game and work even harder!

I’ll be back soon (I’ll at least try to average it out between my “soon” and normal people’s “soon”)

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7 Things I’ve Learned About Writing While Writing My First Novel

These are the 7 things I’ve learned about writing ever since I decided to pursue a writing career with my first novel!

Bet you already knew that because you read the title.


1. Less is Almost Always More

Be the guide to your audience’s imagination and not the commandant.

This is the shortest one of the list because I didn’t want to be too ironic.

2. the Audience Can’t Read Your Mind

As we write we can see our stories in our heads. The cities and its glimmering windows at night, the faces of our characters and all of their complexions, and even the crumpled up page of a gossip paper tumbling down the filthy street.

We can see it all to the most minute details. Even if there’s some sort of a fantastic action happening, our minds don’t fail to keep track of all the participants and whatever they may be doing.

But the audience can’t peer into our minds.

So what Aramiru? That’s why we write isn’t it? To put down our imagination on paper? And do you know how cheesy and tacky it is to ask yourself questions in third person?

Yes.

It’s easy to forget the difference between the perspectives of our audience reading our books versus the perspectives of us, writers, writing our own books.

Accounting for this could simply mean making certain that only the necessary details are present when describing a scene or simply realizing what the the necessary details are.

Making sure the action sequences flow in a way where it’s easy for the readers to follow.

And not to lose ourselves having too much fun writing that we forget those who are reading.

This becomes even more important with the logic and the plot of the book. We are gods to our own books and we know all that will happen. But are we writing in a way so that the audience can understand our intentions and our infinite wisdom?

By understanding how the audience is perceiving the story is how we can plan the twists, the developments and the future.

Plot holes are bound to happen. Sometimes accidentally and sometimes purposefully. There are even times when something might not even be a plot hole but be perceived as such. Having a grasp of our audience’s views of our story can prevent foreseeable plot holes, reduce the damage of planned plot holes, and hopefully never allow unforgivable plot holes to happen.

This is one of few on the list that’s hey-I-already-know-this-this-is-basic-you-shamefully-basic-person material. Yes, this should be pretty commonsense. However, it is also one of those tidbits where your perspective and skills with it will grow exponentially as you keep writing and have an audience that you can interact with.

At least, I did. And this an article of the things that I’ve learned. Me. And as the great Michael Jackson once said, “HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”

3. a Lot of Writers Think They Suck

Yep. We’re an insecure bunch. I used to look in the mirror and think to myself, “you’re an ugly spawn-of-semen-and-egg but that’s fine because you can live with that.”

Now, I look in the mirror and think, “your writing makes puppies cry and children lose faith in humanity. Can you live with that?”

No. No, I can’t.

And as I draw a smile on my face with a crimson lipstick so that I can at least pretend I’m smiling, I realize quickly that it doesn’t matter–at least it shouldn’t matter enough to stop me.

Me sucking. Not my pretty, pretty smile.

Look, there are some phenomenal writers out there. Those who had the gift and put in the hard work to become legends of this craft. And as writers, we also have to compete against timeless masters of writing from even centuries ago.

But it doesn’t have to be about competing with their work and talents.

What’s my work? What’s my talent? Why should I worry so much about what they are without even fully realizing what I am. Did I push myself to the limit to know that I’m not at their level? Does that even matter?

As a writer who wants to tell stories and writing being simply his medium to do that, I realized I just have to write well enough so that I can deliver my stories to the best of my abilities that’s most faithful to my vision.

What else can I do? Just stop writing and never pursue anything with it?

It’s not about being the best there is but being the best at telling your own story.

That doesn’t mean I gave up on becoming a great writer of the legends or something like that. But I think instead of looking at our flaws and telling ourselves we suck, it’s better to ask ourselves ‘why?’ Why do we suck? Where are we lacking? What can we work on?

You do you and be the best you that you can be, because you’re not them and you are you and you have your own talents that only you can do the things that you do. You are awesome. Oh, you. You.

And you still shouldn’t be discouraged if you’re one of those writers who are more focused about the craft than the storytelling.

Here’s an overused quote from high school girls around the world that’s all over their Myspace, Xanga, or whatever the blazes the kids are using these days. Imagine these words with glitters and with a night sky backdrop.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

Just don’t forget to find your own voice somewhere along your journey. Be your own star.

A pretty, pretty star.

TL;DR: It doesn’t matter if we suck, it only matters where we are going to go with our suckage.

4. But a Lot of Us Might Actually Suck

What? You think I’m just being quirky by making the entire list of back and forth paradoxical statements?

And I know what I said up there but the point I’m trying to make now is that we lack self-awareness in different ways. I think especially among us still becoming acquainted with our writing.

It’s really hard to measure where we stand with our writing unless we had the time to establish ourselves with a large group honest peers. For writers, this usually means reviewers and readers for the most part.

Look, within the creative community there’s this unwritten rule about not criticizing one another in public. In private? Shoot. Let the poops fly.

But don’t think of that as necessarily a bad thing. It’s simply manners. And it’s also a bit selfish for someone to expect a stranger or even a friend to give them a harsh reality check and say painfully honest things. It’s uncomfortable and hard for people to do that and in most cases we don’t have the right to force people to put themselves in a position to possibly open a can of worms/whupass.

That’s why I think you need to really appreciate someone who’s brave and honest enough to tell you that you suck and tells you why–always remember to thank those people.

(Obviously, there’s a difference between someone who’s a hater and he’s gonna hate, hate, hate and someone who’s calling you out on your flaws. )

At this stage of my writing ‘career’ (I put my big toe in the pool!) I want more people to tell me how I can improve rather than give me compliments and encouragements. Look, I’m no Dalai Lama. If someone criticizes me, depending on what it is, it’ll hurt. I may even question their criticisms little bit to see if they have merit or to understand it better.

But we have to know when we suck so that we can improve. Embrace and love the criticisms. If we can’t take criticisms, we can’t expect to get better.

It hurts but no pain, no gain. Find someone who will tell you that you’re bad and why you’re bad.

5. Editors Are Gods

A samurai once said, you must choose a worthy lord because you may slice your tummy for him someday.

I don’t know who said that.

I am not a samurai.

And I’m not really that well-versed in Japanese historical figures. I just wanted to add that so you can keep that in your mind as you read this section.

An editor will become your partner for your novel. You’re the mommy and the editor is the daddy. Yes, put your 60s gender stereotype hats on because otherwise that analogy doesn’t work.

Stephen King famously said “to write is human, to edit is divine.”

You should almost always listen to your editor because they are almost always right and they will always be the ones who’ll turn your manuscript into a novel. I knew an editor can make a difference but I just didn’t realize how much.

A good editor will help you-do-you, you-do-you better. You’re a piece ribeye and they’re the salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil straight from Italy. They’re the trained outside eye and mind that the clutters of a single mind writing a book needs to clean up.

I am so thankful for my editor because she had to work through my first pile of mess. My style of writing is that I have to just puke my thoughts onto the page and then sort through it later. Because of the process I went through with her, I am exponentially better than where I was before.

Get a good editor. A good editor cares, understands, but is fearless in calling you out.

6. It’s Our Story

There are a lot of questions on writing forums about, “are my chapters too long?”, “is a goody-goody character boring”, “should I not make my character all-powerful”, “is a half-dragon, a half-elf character weird?”

The answer to all those, by the way, is: It entirely depends on your own story. Even the half-dragon, half-elf character. 

But this point isn’t about that obvious answer. It’s about the next step, the level up, of that point.

I wondered for a while how I can write my story. What were the rules? What was the general mold for doing something that I wanted to do?

And I honestly couldn’t really find anything that satisfied me and I quickly asked myself what was I doing? What am I exactly looking for?

I had an opportunity–especially as an indie writer–to write my book in a way that should be perfect for the story I wanted to tell. Why follow the conventions and the rules of others simply because it worked for them? It worked for them because it was their rules and conventions for their own stories.

We have to understand our own stories; what they are and what they aren’t.

No one should be able to tell your story better than you can. So don’t follow any archetypes simply to follow an archetype. That archetype might not work for your story even if they seem to be in the genre, have similar characters, and present familiar themes and motifs.

Take advice from editors like they’re sprinkled with diamonds but take advice from writers with a grain of salt. Other than technical and perhaps even general content advice, other writers will see your story with their Ray-Bans.

Really chew on what I said up there before simply swallowing it in by the way. I’m not saying other writers can’t offer you knowledge and criticisms to write your own story better. But, I am saying, ultimately, you should know and own up to your own story.

With that said, we also have to be aware of there are certain general rules of writing that exists for a reason. These are the rules that’s been tested and proven through long history of writing and some that were born from the shifting metagames in the market.

For example, it’s been a while since slow paced books had any place in popular novels. People want fast paced stories that hooks them right away so that they could have the initial momentum to get through a 200-400 page novel.

There’s generally a lack of slow developing novels that gently brews and ages its plot and character to develop some sort of a liquor-reference-bourbon-reference-oaky-soaky-flavored plot.

I wonder if Moby-Dick or A Tale of Two Cities was released in today’s world if it’d be popular at all.

And there’s another key there. Do you want to be popular or do you want to be critically acclaimed or both?

Do you want to make money and write vampire x gargoyles erotica? Or do you want to gamble your life by throwing your novel into the skyscraper of the fantasy genre?

In the end, it’s YOUR story. You do you and do what you want to do because I like the way you move. Just know that reality is always around the corner.

How many “you” do I have in this?

7. An Audience is Earned

Everything written should deserve some sort of an audience. A good audience will provide judgment to the writings and nurture them to grow or have them be killed and brutally murdered if necessary.

At this point, you can probably sense how important I think an audience is to a writer. That’s probably the secret #8th thing I’ve learned.

To a writer, there’s nothing more important than readers to help them understand themselves as a writer.

The greatest learning experience and growth I had with my writing so far has been through the beta-reading and editing. It does wonders for you and for your novel.

However, not everyone and everything earns an audience. You have to work for it.

Working doesn’t mean just write something but it means becoming worthy of someone’s time and effort. Because it takes both of those things things to read a book. Especially compared to what’s out there today to enjoy as entertainment like YouTube, Reddit, video games, and Vine (with that you’re literally competing against a 6 second entertainment where a person simply has to click to enjoy).

Even to the most avid readers this is true (even more so in a sense) because you’re asking them to devote to your book the time and effort they could have spent on other books they wanted to read.

So how do we earn an audience? During the writing process this means taking your own time and effort to gain beta readers and reviewers. Be cordial, accommodating, don’t grovel but still know that they’re doing you a favor at the end of the day unless you’re some sort of writing superstar.

But if you’re a writing superstar I wonder why you’re reading this entry up to this point.

Do you like me? Like what I wrote?

PM me 😉. Ooo la la.

When you’re done writing, whether you’re traditional or indie, you still have to do what you need to do to reach out to your readers.

That could mean book signings, public readings, promotional giveaways, making sure getting the reviews for your novel, and etc.

For indie writers this can be an extremely difficult process. An extremely difficult process. AN EXTREMELY DIFFICULT PROCESS.

For traditionally published writers I understand it’s more-or-less already been setup for y’all.

It can be something simple as blogging. It’s fun, helpful, and I got to save my money on therapy bills.

I’m earning my readers through my blog by sharing my experiences and little things I learned here and there in hopes of helping, entertaining, and perhaps even proving that I am a writer worthy of their time. It’s also serving as an odd journal for this writing journey which is also nice.

Nothing in life is free. Even if someone deserves something doesn’t mean they don’t have to earn it–especially something as valuable as someone’s time.

BONUS: It’s Not Supposed to be Lucrative

Don’t write for money and fame. If you want that you’ll have much easier time with YouTube, acting, music, Twitch, and etc.

I’m not saying getting success in those avenues are easy. Far from it. It’s extremely hard. But at least they’re in the spotlight of the mainstream.

Writing really isn’t to an extent. It’s a dinosaur of an entertainment that’ll always have its place only because of its history, easy entry, and because of how quintessential it is to our civilization.

Write because you have to.

Write because if you don’t you feel like something is wrong with your life.

Write because every time you see someone else’s work you feel like you need to be in the arena competing as well.

Write because you love it.

The money will come or it may never come. Only difference is if that matters to you or not at the end of the day when you’re left just with your stack of papers.

And for the love of all that’s holy and Poseidon, don’t quit your day job or school to write.

It’s not fun to write hungry and it’s not fun to write worrying-about-lights-going-off-and-oh-my-god-is-that-tow-truck-here-for-my-car-no-its-not-thank-goodness-but-I-think-my-garbage-man-didn’t-take-my-garbage-today. There’s absolutely no romance in it. Especially, if you have loved ones who cares about you or if you have loved ones you have to take care of.

Life’s a game of chance. Bet smart. Don’t  bet on the 1% by throwing away on the 99.

Are you the next J. K. Rowling? Maybe Stephanie Meyers? Maybe Stephen King?

Who knows?

But none of them quit their day job to write and neither should you.

I’ll share someday why I want to warn so critically against people who’re thinking about quitting jobs and schools for a dream of making it big with writing. But that’s it for this entry.


Keep Up With  the Updates!
Twitter: @ASAramiru

My novel is currently available on Amazon.com! Check it out [HERE]

Inside Story: I almost played Frisbee with my laptop writing this entry.  I thought the new Wordpress editor auto-saved now (which would be fantastic) after having drafts get loaded up again after I left the page before. Nope it does not. Hit that save button.

My Top 5 Fails as a First Time Self-Publisher

This was a post I made on Reddit a couple of weeks ago. It had a positive response so I thought I’d share it with everyone here as well. I’ll be doing a follow up post titled: My Top 5 Successes as a First Time Self-Publisher and perhaps another follow up titled: Breaking Down the Budget: How to Cut Costs.

These… are sort of sounding like some sort of mutant baby of late night infomercials and Buzzfeed…

Anyways! Enjoy! I hope these will be helpful!


Longtime lurker here (sometimes a contributor on my other accounts)! With my book’s release last week (and waiting for the darn Thanksgiving dinner) I wanted to share my Top 5 Fails so that others don’t make the same mistakes. This is more for the other newbies like myself and for veterans to just giggle and groan at.

Some of these were faults of my own and some of these were angry Odin throwing pickles at me.

I’ll add some background information in the comment section so check that there for context.

But before we begin, I want to assure all of you that I’m not an idiot. Really, I’m not. My mom can back me up on this.

Mom?

Mom?

Mother?

Whatever. The reason I’m trying assure you all of my intelligence is because no matter how smart you are, you can still make mistakes. And right now the writing world is sort of the wild wild west with tempting uncertainties and vicious traps. Tread carefully and smartly.

The Top 5 Fails:

1. Lost the entire manuscript.

Okay… So… maybe this isn’t the best one to start off with after claiming that I’m not an idiot (I’m not?).

So this could be considered either Osiris throwing yams at me or a fault of my own for not knowing the basics of the modern digital age.

One evening I was working on the manuscript when my screen turned blue and gave me the middle finger. Tried restarting the computer and it just gave me more middle fingers.

Luckily, few of my friends are actually professionals in this field so I called them for help and long story short the files were unsalvageable.

Lesson here? Use cloud storage and/or external hard drive. Make it a habit to save into those at the end of writing sessions. This has honestly set me back probably anywhere from 6 months to 1.5 years–not necessarily because of the rewrite but because of how life and schedule works.

Timing is everything and don’t lose the timings of life because of a preventable tragedy.

2. Not timing things properly.

What did I just say up there? I don’t remember.

If you want reviews, you should be sending your books out generally 5-6 months before you plan to publish (the average cutoff time for most reviews is about 3 months before publishing date). You have to also understand many of them will not consider your book if you’re self-published/no-name writer and many of them may take longer to review a book than you’d think.

It takes about a week or two to be able to proof your physical copy of the novel (if you do CreateSpace you can do the digital proof which is immediate). After the proof it takes about 3 business days for it to show up on the market other than the printing service’s own website.

Beta-reading, editing, and even just the writing all should be scheduled in a way that each of those processes have the proper time they need to do their function properly while not dragging it on too long. I think this is something to pick up on by as one grows as a writer and understands their own pace to know where to cut the fat off and where to add… the… fat… on?

…In Japan you can actually order just the fat to grill and eat. That was fun and delicious.

I had my reasons for forcibly pushing my book out on a certain date but if you can help it don’t do the same. There were many opportunities I missed out on simply because of lack of better scheduling for whatever reason.

3. Not having a proper budget.

You get what you paid for.

If you’re self-publishing it helps immensely to have a healthy budget. Money will allow you to get ads, reviews, edits, arts, and pay the bills so that you don’t have to eat McChicken and a McDouble every other night and wonder if you’re gonna get cancer but strangely crave them when you don’t have them and cry because you feel like a Mackey-Dee addict as you pick up crumbs off your floor.

But when you put a McChicken inside a McDouble it’s a $2.50 USD spit from the heavens.

Anyways, money runs the world and such. We all know this. Check in the comment section for my personal budget which seemed like the minimum budget without compromising quality very much–if at all.

If I had a better budget I think it’d have helped significantly to make certain things happen faster, quicker, and done more professionally.

4. Not Realizing What Tools to Use for What

Use Scrivener. Really. Use Scrivener—especially—if you’re thinking about self-publishing.

This wasn’t really a fail but I’m just squeezing this one in to save some people the time and hassle. This program is a godsend and should be the quintessential tool for modern writers. There’s definitely a learning curve but if you become even at least comfortable with it, the program will help you save time and money in the long run… and save your teeth from being pulled out when you have to make the epub format.

Use InDesign if you can for formatting for the physical copy. The amazing folks at Scrivener (the customer services pretty awesome over there) flat out told me their program wasn’t really meant for endgame formatting.

They’re very correct about that.

InDesign. You’ll feel like a god of book formatting. Possibly the lamest god there is.

Try to avoid Google Doc. It can’t handle big files. I thought it’d be fun and modern to try Google Doc for editing. My editor knocked on my door and rubbed sea salt in my eyes. It’s only good for a quick, live editing sessions.

Finally, social media kicks ass. Serious ass. I’m incredibly obtuse and awkward with them as they always felt a bit weird with me. But if you learn to harness the power of social media you can effectively tip the scale between the big publishers and yourself with just a smartphone.

(EDIT 12/1/2014: From the comment section at /r/writing[1] from the discussion with /u/JustinBrower [2] :

Yes! You’re very correct!

InDesign is Terrible at eBook

Which is why I absolutely recommend everyone to use Scrivener which is pretty great at ePub formatting.

This should be the basic order:

  1. Write in Scrivener.
  2. Export to Word Doc and ePub.
  3. Transfer the Word Doc to inDesign for physical book formatting.
  4. Be happy that you didn’t go bald from tearing your hair out.
  5. Have a pint.

P.S. Take advantage of Calibre a free epub reader and conversion program if you have to.)

5. Not inquiring agents first.

Maybe in five to ten years things will have changed to a point where self-publishing can be as legitimate as traditional publishing.

People like Michael J. Sullivan is paving the path for that direction (check out his stories and tidbits all over the reddit and other writing forums) not to mention other famous traditionally published writers dipping their hands into self-publishing.

But for now… self-publishing isn’t there yet. Give yourself and your book a chance by inquiring agents/traditional publishing first. Yes, you might be taking a hit in terms of revenue and time but having traditionally published book will more open more doors than a self-published one (for now and depending on degree of success on self-published title).

If you get accepted, it’ll also takes loads off of your shoulders in workload so that you can focus more on writing. You can also put that book proudly on your resume while with self-published titles, due to stigmas or whatever, you really can’t/shouldn’t yet (unless you were notably successful). One can be comfortable in a resume and a portfolio while the other may really only shine in a portfolio.

Obviously, this is sort of me speaking from my own experiences and research so if anyone can tell me if I’m wrong please do so and add that into the discussion.

I personally didn’t do any inquiries because I set out to self-publish so I just stayed on that path. That’s sort of the way I am. Self-publishing is the new frontier and there is something exciting and adventurous about it. But like many of those who went on the Oregon Trail, you might not be the one who strike gold and really should have stayed back in New York because now you’re dying of dysentery.

Unless you’re one of the few, self-publishing doesn’t really leave you with much other than the sense of accomplishment of having your ebook… being added on to the mountain of ebooks.

So if you’re serious about becoming a professional writer I’d recommend considering traditional publishing before going to self-publishing.


That’s all folks! There are oodles of more fails and some successes I’d love to share but this turned out to be much longer already than I anticipated! I’ll answer any questions if anyone has any!

P.S. My book is also free today for Thanksgiving! If anyone’s interested let me know!


Background Info:

Time till completion: ~3 Years

Budget: Very low. The recession effectively kicked my ass. So my idea for the budget for the book was to keep it as low as possible without compromising the quality of the novel as much as possible.

I’ve spent so far:

Editor: $200.00

Artist for the Cover Art: $100.00

Website Domain: $15.00

Proof Copies of the Novel: ~$20.00 (shipping costs are fantastic) Other Spending (ISBN, Supplies, Copy Right, Comfort food, etc.): ~$300.00

Lot of these were covered by scraping away at my wallet and through a small, somewhat successful, KickStarter.

To save on costs, I did the cover design and the copyediting/formatting myself. You can be the judge of whether or not I did a good job:

Cover Design: http://imgur.com/LAeNIBK[1][1]

Sample of the Physical Copy of the Novel for formatting: www.tinyurl.com/samplecopy


See you all soon with the 7th Entry7 Things I’ve Learned About Writing is up next!

Keep Up With  the Updates!
Twitter: @ASAramiru

My novel is currently available on Amazon.com! Check it out [HERE]

Holding My Book in My Hands // Thank You Readers.

It was honestly a bit bittersweet.

This is breaking the whole “Entries are about the stuff that happened while writing the book,” but I thought it was significant enough for the blog and myself to discuss this now.

My ebook was released on the November 21st. I actually received the proof copy of the novel on the release day due to some shipping delays.  I didn’t worry too much about it since I already saw the physical copies for the KickStarter backers in the previous week and the two editions essentially shared the same cover design with only slight changes for the spine and the back.

The back was fine.

The spine looked great.

But the front cover that used to the same file for the KickStarter copies were some how dun’ goofed.

In a sense, it was fitting considering how the whole journey had been. It was also somewhat metaphorical of the things I could have done better.

I remembered back to just a week before when I was cutting the tapes on the package for the KickStarter copies. Was I excited? Not really. I was only filled with dread for the release day just a week ahead and yet somewhat looking forward to being able to put this chapter of my life to an end.

Glistening covers of the novels peeked through the crunched up brown packaging papers. My mind emptied out all the thoughts floating around. I gingerly removed one of the books in the tightly packed box.

When I held that book in my hand and I could actually smell that paper… all the thoughts of the days ahead were just… gone. Instead I was absorbed into the memories of all the days before that led up to that exact moment. In my hands was the result of what I started on the hard, dirty floor of a motel room 3 years ago. Even just a few months back, I was wondering if I would be able to see the damn thing.

I flipped through it as every chapter and page turned into a scrap book of memories. Instead of the letters and words, I saw the moments and events that made everything on these pages possible. Each chapter, sometimes even just a single page, told a tale of their own to me.

Late evenings and sacrificed weekends.

Triumphs and failures.

My friends and family.

A life-changing adventure that will meet its humble, if not insignificant, ending in just a week.

1114141357
The KickStarter Edition
1114141358
Creme colored pages because it’s easier on the eyes.

 

1114141357a
the back of the KickStarter Edition. Color scheme and the blurb is different than the copies for sale.

There were things I’ve gained that I never would have gained and there were also things I’ve lost that I would have never lost if I didn’t decide to write 3 years ago.

Was I happy with the dividends?

It was a journey that was perhaps more exciting and dramatic than I could have ever planned for or imagined (and boy was it longer than I ever anticipated). And a  journey that perhaps didn’t have the proper ending that it deserved waiting for it at the end. (Or perhaps it was the most fitting)

I showed my mother the KickStarter copy. She smiled and clapped in joy. I was told I did a good job and she took photos to share it with her friends. I was more-or-less stunned by her reaction. I didn’t expect it. I’m wondering now how my face looked to her but seeing her smile over my book is a good memory to have.

I gave a copy to my editor who also seemed much happier than I was.

My friends who’ve supported me also extended their congratulations.

One KickStarter backer that I delivered the novel in person to greeted me with a smile and excitement. We chatted for a while of what could be my future ahead and we ended the conversation with him letting me know that he was excited to read it.

If anything, I wish there was a better ending–even if it isn’t the most fitting one– for them.

Don’t get me wrong. There was a small part of me that was definitely a bit bittersweet because I thought I deserved more (like a child) for all I’ve put into this project.

But as I set the book back down, I realized I was mostly bittersweet not because of the ending itself but because of the fact that the journey was ending. There were many things that could have went better and many things I could have done better–maybe I wasn’t satisfied with it ending just yet.

Maybe,  I just really enjoyed the ride. I enjoyed working on this dream and believing (sometimes even pretending) that it was possible. That I was tearing away the fantasy from the dream until it turned into reality. During this ride my life went to places that I never thought it could go. Some great, some terrible but all of it were fruitful experiences.

I was bittersweet because even though I wasn’t satisfied yet, I knew given my circumstances I’d have put my pursuit on hold. I want to write more. I still have stories to tell.

But knowing that now for a certain even after all this was, in and of itself, another gift from this journey. It was a grand adventure and I think whatever happens from this point on nothing will change that. I’m glad I decided to write. I’m happy I was able to finish. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.

…although technically I guess the journey isn’t over yet. Maybe this entry was just more of me venting and I may have had no idea yet what I was talking about… Alrighty then.


 

Oh, and hey readers. Yes, you there with a disappointed look on your face!

I started this blog to share my experiences. Part of it was because I really wanted to have a record this experience, part of it was because I thought it’d help me understand this experience, and part of it was because this was something that I was told I should do during this experience.

The point I’m trying to get at is that I’m not going to deny that I started this blog mostly for myself. Even as much as I hope this blog is at the very least entertaining and maybe at its rare moments informative–if not helpful–I started this for me.

But… that sort of changed very quickly once I got started.

I always took this blog very seriously and truly appreciated all the readers who read any of my entries. Knowing that some of you decided to give me part of your time to read what I’ve wrote is a surreal feeling.

Seeing any views and likes on my blog have been super encouraging and delightful. Some of the repeat readers like Damyanti (http://en.gravatar.com/damyantig. Check out her sites if you’re interested in writing! She has some cool stuff) really pushed me to worker harder and harder on this blog.

So although I may have started this blog mostly for myself… I feel I’d be being dishonest to say it’s only about myself now.

I’m not very good at this social media stuff (my Twitter account is a testament to that) and I’m not even sure how to really show my appreciation other than saying,

Thank you.  

I mean that.

Sincerely,
 A. S. Aramiru

P. S. Here’s the new cover design I made that I was talking about earlier. I think I’m getting better at this and interior formatting than writing. The sample has also been [updated] and it looks very pretty:

#6x9 cover BLACK HALO png

 

Here’s the previous cover design for comparison:

15610910_cover

 

P. S. 2 During this weekend I’ll post another Interlude with more character bios! See y’all then

Update: I Promise I’m Alive!

The blog at least deserves some sort of an explanation of what I’ve been up to so here it is:

 

~LIFE AFTER A SUCCESSFUL KICKSTARTER~

 

Much like everything else with this project, the events after the KickStarter were anything but smooth.

Aside from life complicating, there were some problems receiving funds from a couple of the backers which caused a few delays.  Getting the backer rewards, which was planned beforehand and should have been the simplest part of all this, turned out to be an adventure of its own as well. Some of the highlights of it were: braving through a dark forest on a stormy night, endless drives on the freeway, a broken car,  and punching a baby kidnapper. Only one of those things are untrue.

Other than that, most of my writing time was taken up working on the 6×9 format (which was one part that I actually didn’t expect to be so time consuming but ended up taking up a ridiculous amount of time) for the print copy of the novel for the KickStarter backers, working on the full book cover for the said print copy of the novel, another—final—editing run through of the novel, becoming paranoid and second guessing every aspect of the novel,  how many more times can I say of the novel when I’m writing about… oh yes… I also made another attempt at making a better EPUB format of the novel.

It was a splendid way of making me feel really disappointed and defeated over a weekend.

Obviously, EPUB is very important as the plan is to self-publish but at the same time it made me hate myself, Kindle, EPUB, and all of you freedom loving readers out there who wants to change the fonts to whatever you want with the book you’re reading.

Let me tell you about EPUB formatting.  EPUB formatting is like the construction noise on a Sunday should-have-been-tranquil-morning,  it’s that dude who asks you for something not when you were leaving but when you came back to the table to sit down, IT’S that nasty cop who breaks the speed limit, cuts you off, gives you the finger, put his gun out the window, shoots in the air while screaming “WHAT YOU GONNA DO?! I’M THE POPO!”

EPUB is the Cecilia Gimenez to InDesign.  Apparently only way (someone can correct me if they know better) to make EPUB format at least half as presentable as InDesign is to be well versed in CSS, go through licensing issues, and even then it’ll only work with supporting devices.  The format was never designed to be pretty – I get that but I feel like it’s robbing the novel’s presentation and part of its intended experience. It might be far from being extraordinary, but I’ve spent lot of time and energy into the formatting and it’s just a very incomplete feeling to put this out as my product and cheat whatever reader it may find from the full experience I planned and wanted to give them.

Anyways, my advice? Use Scrivener to write your initial work as it is one of the best tools out there for writers.  Then use InDesign to create that book of your dreams (unless you’re hiring out but part of the fun of self-publishing is that you can do everything). Be enamored by your creation and  then find a hard, clean surface to bash your head in as it becomes neutered through the process of converting it to EPUB (Calibre is a nice free program that’ll at least hold your hand through the pain. I recommend going through Calibre before turning your file over to Amazon for their converter).

If someone wants to enlighten me and let me know I’m wrong about everything that’s EPUB (or about life) I’m more than willing to listen.

So that’s it! This was quickie. You’ll be able to tell the quickies when they lack even the most basic editing.

The next two actual entries that are being worked on are:


How to Find Motivations From Nothing” – as I mentioned before.

&

“a Date with My Characters” – My editor for the novel thought this would be a good one because she thought it was an unique process.

&

People Come & Go” –  The personal entry I had in mind has been scrapped and currently I’m set on doing this topic I alluded to in my previous entries.


All of these will either have to be scheduled with one of my editors or I may just post them raw if I feel it’ll take too long to have them edited.

Before I finish this entry, I’d like to take a moment to give a sincere apology about my lack of better updates and not being able to keep up with the schedule that I said I’d follow. Though I’m usually timely with most aspects of my life, I found that I still struggle being able to properly estimate my schedule and timings with anything regarding writing.

I’m sorry.

P. S. A couple of people told me it’d be a good idea to write about my experiences with KickStarter. I started a draft or two but I became a bit uncertain regarding  if I was telling anyone, anything substantial.  If you thought – KickStarter is mostly for tech and people already with a following – you’d be correct. Even though I found my small success, I wouldn’t recommend it for people who are not an established figure as a reliable mean of getting funding for their project. However, if you’re taking it as something “not much to lose but a lot to gain” sort of deal – go for it. But there are definitely a proper way of doing things for this mindset as well. You have to approach it and think about it differently.

There were also some unexpected developments through KickStarter that I’m not sure if significant but I guess might be interesting to share… though nothing ever came of it…

…screw it.  Let’s put  a quickie regarding KickStarter on queue as well.

 

The novel, Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian,  is currently scheduled to be released on 11/11/2014!
Keep Up With the Updates!
Twitter: @ASAramiru