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The 60-Day Novel Writing Challenge

Professional Premium

July & August 2021 Portal Materials


Guidelines

Yay! You're a Professional Premium member!

To get the most out of your membership, please keep these guidelines in mind:

Do Your Best to Show Up on Time

Make a commitment with yourself to join all the coaching calls on time. We start promptly on the hour to make sure we have enough time to cover all the materials for each week.

Mute Yourself if You're Not Talking

If it's not your turn during the round robin, or if you're not being coached during open coaching, please keep yourself on mute. This will cut down on the background noise and lessen any distractions. 

If needed, though, I will mute everyone and request individuals to unmute themselves.

Be Respectful of Fellow Students

This is a judgment-free space where we all get to work on our brains' natural habits of thinking, which aren't always helpful. 

Coaching is a tool to show us our minds from an outside perspective, since we can't read the label from inside the bottle. 

Connect With Each Other!

I encourage you to make friends with your fellow students in this group! We're going to get to know each other pretty well over the next two months, and having writing buddies outside of the group can help increase motivation to meet word counts or even bounce ideas off each other.

Don't be shy about friending me, either!

Keep the Content Private

Please keep the materials you receive in this program and the content of all of the calls private.

Week 1: Setting Goals

Session Agenda

Each coaching call will follow roughly the same format:

  • Accountability round-robin check-in. Everyone will share progress on their goals for that week. I will cut you off at 6 or 7 minutes—not to be rude, but to make sure we get through everyone with enough time to coach at the end.
  • Teaching on a coaching topic related to writing. Leave your questions in the chat box during this time if something pops into your fron*.
  • Group assignment / exercise related to the coaching topic. We're all going to do the work right on the call!
  • OPEN COACHING! If you have a question or a problem you want coaching on related to your writing, I'll ask you to raise your hand and we'll get through as many as time allows.
  • Checking in on intentions for the following week.

*Fron is the Ancient term for "head," or possibly "mind," from the TV show Stargate SG:1

Goal Setting Group Activity

The group activity for this week is to write a clear, SMART goal for the end of the challenge. Maybe it's to write 50,000 words. Maybe it's to finish your story. Or get really good at honoring your commitment to yourself. Whatever you set your goal as, remember that this is the goal you'll be reporting your progress on each week in addition to your word count. 

  • SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound
  • The time-bound part is easy, it'll be by the end of the challenge at 11:59 pm on August 31st in your time zone
  • Relevant is also easy, your goal has to be relevant to the 60-day novel writing challenge

My goal is that every single one of you is a winner in 2 months. That you all reach the goals you've set and feel accomplished when you submit for your winner's pin when we wrap up. I believe every single one of you can win this challenge.

Week 2: The Coaching Model

The Self Coaching Model

This is a tool developed and taught by Brooke Castillo of The Life Coach School. I teach this more in-depth in my coaching practice.

There are neutral circumstances in the world... Things we can't change, like world events, other peoples' behaviors, your past actions or past results (such as how many words you wrote last week). Everyone can agree that a circumstance exists. It's facty.

We have thoughts about those circumstances. All thoughts are optional. Two people can think two entirely different things about the same circumstance. Sometimes we choose to think certain thoughts on purpose, but most are recycled from the previous day. We have about 60,000 thoughts a day.

Thoughts cause feelings, or "vibrations" in the body. We assign those vibrations words and meaning, like positive or negative, but typically we say things like sad, angry, happy, exhilarated, resentful, annoyed, etc. to describe how we feel.

We take action or inaction from those feelings. Every action we take, whether we think it or not, is driven by a feeling. The actions we take out of positive or useful feelings move us toward our goals, while actions fueled by negative or not-useful emotions keep us stagnant or moving backwards.

Then, the end result is what happens in our lives for us. The result we create is always related to the thought we're thinking, in some way. 

How This Relates to Writing

Your thoughts about your writing determine your relationship with it. 

C—Writing

T—This is hard

F—Discouraged

A—Don't write, think about how nice it would be if I could just get myself to write, wish it was easier

R—I make it hard to write

This is often what's happening on default. To change the result, most people will try to change the actions first. But if you don't change the thought or the feeling, the action changes will not stick.

The more useful model looks like this:

C—Writing (notice this stays the same! We do not change the circumstance when working on our thoughts.)

T—This could be easy

F—Curious

A—Brainstorm ways that writing could be easy, consider other writers' points of view on the difficulty of writing, sit down to write even if not "inspired"

R—I create space for writing to be easy

Other possible writing circumstances to consider:

  • Writing goals
    • word counts
    • number of chapters
    • hours edited
    • daily time spent writing

  • This challenge
    • workbook sections or pages
    • video concepts
    • your progress (objectively stated, like "I am on day 3 of the workbook and it's day 6 of the challenge")
    • what day it is in the challenge (by itself)

  • Past writing accomplishments or "failures"
    • published works
    • your book is currently with an editor
    • you published the final book in your series
    • received letter from X publishing house saying "no" to my query letter
    • there are zero Amazon sales on your last release
    • you "started over" on your entire book

  • What other people have said about your writing (exact words only)
    • "This sucks"
    • "you should be published!"
    • "I can't believe someone would read this"
    • "Horror is just not my thing"
    • "I can't wait for more!"
    • "I'm ready for book two now" <-- actual words my husband said after he finished reading draft 3 of book 1

Group Activity

Grab a pen and a physical piece of paper.

Write down all the thoughts that come up when you think about this question:

What do I think about my writing?

Write for 10 minutes without stopping.

It will feel like a long time.

Whatever your brain comes up with, write it down. The great thing about asking ourselves questions is that the brain will automatically want to answer it.

Do not let "I don't know" creep in.

Keep asking yourself what you think of your writing. 

Other ways to consider the question:

  • What do I think of myself as a writer?
  • What do I think about my past writing?
  • What do I think about my future writing?

Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you do NOT have to believe any of the negative thoughts that came up.

Week 3: Self-Discipline

Self Discipline

What It Is

Self discipline is the ability to control your feelings and overcome your weaknesses, to pursue what you think is right despite temptations to abandon it. 

Breaking this down:

Control your feelings - we know from last week that feelings come from our thoughts. Self-discipline occurs at the level of our thinking, how we perceive the world and how it impacts us and our writing. If you have a mindset of ownership and self-accountability, self-discipline becomes much easier.

Overcome your weaknesses - we all have different areas of strength and weakness. If you know you struggle with a certain part of the story writing process, or you're an underwriter (or an over-writer) then spending intentional time to address that weakness will pay off in the long run for your writing quality and your relationship with yourself of self-discipline and integrity.

Pursue what you think is right - what's right for you is not right for someone else. This is why we all have different story ideas, and different styles. This was clear when setting goals two weeks ago. Our goals are all different, for the most part, because we are different.

Despite temptations to abandon it - writing does not always feel easy. We get distracted. People interrupt our writing time. Apathy creeps in if it's not addressed up front. Self-discipline means staying on the path despite these things.

It's sitting down to write even when you don't feel like writing. It's building a muscle over time, building a relationship with yourself of trust and integrity, of learning how to hold yourself accountable instead of relying on other people to do it for you.

Because in the end, you not finishing your book doesn't affect anyone except you. But that should be the reason you stick to it.

Why Motivation & Willpower Don't Work

Motivation is the general desire or willingness to do something. It's not specific. There's no fire behind it. There's fire behind self-discipline, a WHY or a PURPOSE to your work. 

The true value of motivation is the momentum we get from it, but we cannot rely on feeling motivated to write every day. You can get that momentum from regular habits, ideally daily habits, that support your writing goals. 

We can feel really motivated at times, but what happens when that motivation dries up? We stop writing, stop working out, basically everything fizzles. 

Willpower can get a lot of things done, but it's a finite resource that we use up throughout the day. Every decision takes a withdrawal from the willpower bank, and by the end of the day, it's empty. This is why you might find it more difficult to follow through on plans in the evening after a long day's work when you're mentally and emotionally drained. 

If we're not naturally creative in the evenings or we're not night owls, sheer willpower might get you through a couple nights of writing, but it will likely take a lot out of you energetically.

Lack of Writing Discipline

3 ways lack of discipline shows up:

  1. Judging your writing harshly - based on last week, this doesn't seem to be a big problem with this group, but be careful about layering other peoples' judgments on top your own, or adopting other peoples' criticisms about your work if you don't agree with it and it's not useful.
  2. Having great ideas but getting lost in the process of putting them down, and then giving up - having a system to follow, like the workbook, will only help if you follow through with working through it
  3. Starting a project but switching to another mid-way through without finishing the first - everyone can start something, but not everyone is a finisher. Become a finisher.

Some things that showed up last week that could indicate self-discipline issues:

  • Not knowing when to stop
  • Letting other things interrupt your established writing time / not treating your writing like a priority on the level of a water heater breaking
  • Not deciding what to do with your story and spinning in the not knowing
  • Not honoring time you set aside to write

How to Cultivate It

There's nothing wrong with any of this. Remember that you get to do whatever you want. But if you want the result of a finished, complete draft by the end of the challenge, these all become obstacles you solve for.

  • Decide when to stop. Sit in the discomfort when you do stop, expect to want to continue. It's okay.
  • Treat your writing like it's a broken water heater that gets your attention first, for as long as it takes. Establish clear communication with your family and friends about what you're doing, and any ignoring or postponing is not to be rude, but it's because you've made a commitment to yourself to write a book in sixty days. It's called a challenge for a reason!
  • Decide what to do with your story. It honestly does not matter what you choose to do, as long as you choose something and go with it. You can always change it later, work in new ideas, combine characters. Get the messy first draft out and remind yourself that "I don't know" is a choice and it always blocks your creativity.
  • Set aside time to write. Sit down to write. Expect to not want to write. Write anyway. Repeat.

Self-discipline comes down to building habits and tracking them. We manage what we measure, and if we measure how often we're completing the habits, we'll get a good idea of how likely we are to hit our goals. 

For the second half of the challenge, that's going to be writing 1,667 words a day.

Each day you don't hit it means adjusting future targets, and each day you go over gives you a bit of wiggle room. 

The other side of this is making sure you have scheduled intentional time to take care of yourself, to get enough sleep, and building in things that actually nurture your creativity. For me this looks like going on a walk every morning. Sometimes I record ideas into my phone, other times I just let my brain percolate on whatever's going on at the moment. When I'm in the middle of a writing project, that's some of my best idea time.

Group Activity

Get out a pen and a piece of paper. 

We're going to do the five whys exercise to find your why for writing. You can go deeper than 5 levels, but 5 is the minimum.

Ask yourself why you write.

Answer. 

Ask why again.

Keep asking why until you really feel it in your bones the emotion of your answer.

Spend at least 15 minutes on this exercise, if not longer.

Week 4: Making Decisions + Following Through

Making Decisions & Following Through

Deciding what you're going to write, the plots to include, all the details - and then following through - is what makes a book come to life. 

No author has completed a book without deciding and following through.

Decisions

Decisions are thoughts, thoughts are instantaneous, therefore decisions are instantaneous.

Faster decisions means more time to get to work on the story and learn from those decisions, which creates better decisions in the future.

Percolating thoughts can work under the surface for a long time before bubbling up to the decision moment, but the decision itself is always instantaneous, even if it feels like you noodled on it for a while. 

Nothing wrong with it, just recognize that the decision itself didn't take five years, it took a millisecond. The percolating took five years and wasn't entirely conscious.

Indecision is still a decision, to stay stuck and not moving forward with your book.

New variables - plot twists - in your story writing may mean changing things you've already decided on. It's a new decision, with new information, not going back on your first idea or meaning that the first idea sucked. This will happen with editing.

Open decisions, or things that you haven't decided on, are mental vampires. They suck your mental energy right out because you're constantly ruminating on what you should do. 

One way to solve this is to ask yourself this question: 

If both options were 100% successful and worked out great, which would you pick? 

Helpful to think in terms of career choice. 

If you're waffling between lawyer and doctor, and knew that you would have incredible success in either career no matter which one you picked, which one would you pick? 

Run your writing decisions through that same test.

Following Through

Following through even when you don't feel like it builds the self discipline muscle we talked about last week.

Self-defeating thoughts like "oh well" or "I knew I wouldn't have time this week anyway" are self-fulfilling prophecies that sabotage your follow through skills. 

There is no state where you will always follow through 100% of the time. Life happens. You get to choose how you respond to it, whether you make it mean something negative about you or your writing, or whether you choose to roll with the punches and set yourself up for success tomorrow. 

Be careful of all-or-nothing thinking with follow through. Even a small amount of follow through provides feedback. 

Think about basketball players shooting the free throw.

In basketball, follow through describes how a player continues their hand motion after shooting the ball toward the hoop. Following through with a shot actually gives the player feedback, and  if you don't follow through on your shot, it's unlikely that the shot will go into the basket.

In basketball, not following through on the shot messes up your chances of making a basket.

Coaches will watch the follow through and give the player feedback on what they should work on the next time around to improve their chances of making the shot.

Following through in basketball doesn't mean you're guaranteed to make a basket. 

Following through on your decisions isn't a guarantee that you'll get the result you want from what you've planned, but it does mean that the likelihood is much higher. The feedback you get after following through gives you a roadmap to adjust and improve over time.

Top Takeaways
  • Make sure you like your reason for whatever you're doing. Think about the WHY you uncovered during last week's activity. Do those reasons align?

  • Decisions are instantaneous.

  • Indecision is a choice. It's not a right or wrong choice, just make sure you like your reason for it.

  • Take advantage of percolating thoughts by letting your brain work on the "problem" underneath the surface while you work on other things. It's okay to table a decision for later.

  • Open decisions drain mental energy.

Group Activity

Set a timer for 10 minutes.

Make a list of all the open decisions you have with your book, your characters, your plot, your world, your backstory - anything that you haven't made a solid decision on yet for the outline.

When the timer goes off, choose one, and ONLY one, to work on during your next working block. You're going to close the decision. It doesn't matter which one you pick.

This is you practicing making fast decisions and trusting yourself.

Week 5: What Other People Think

What Other People Think

Typically we make assumptions about what other people think

  • "They think I'm lazy"
  • "He thinks I'm bossy"
  • "She thinks I'm a terrible writer"
  • "My mom thinks I don't have any potential"

Then we adopt these thoughts as ours, without realizing that they were OUR thoughts all along

What I want to show you today is that what we think other people think, is really what we think, just under the surface, hidden a little.

Difference between what other people SAY, exact words (circumstance), and what we interpret that to MEAN (thoughts)


Surface level:

C--He said "You're a terrible writer"

T--How dare he!!

F--Defensive


Under the surface:

C--He said "You're a terrible writer"

T--I think I'm a terrible writer

F--Despondent


Compare with someone saying "I hate your horror novels" if you don't write horror novels, it wouldn't impact you at all, because you know you don't write horror and the stories you do write are fantastic and that person doesn't know what they're talking about.

Defensiveness often comes from agreeing at some level with the other person. 

We say "they think" but really it's what we think they think, which is a reflection of us, not them.

Make sure you name the others.

Sometimes we generalize someone else's thoughts based on the words they say, but we have to remember that we never know the whole story. The words they say depend on what they think and feel, and have nothing to do with you at all.

Their words are a reflection of THEM, just like your words are a reflection of YOU.

This can be REALLY useful though.

If you think your readers are going to be confused by a subplot in your book, maybe you're confused by it.

If you think people are going to hate what you wrote, understanding why you think they'll think that will uncover reasons why YOU hate what you wrote.

Pay attention to when you take what other people have said about your work as something to believe about yourself as a writer. 

And remember that the ones who insult your nonexistent horror novels aren't your people anyway.

Group Activity

Fifteen minutes journaling/writing down answers to the following questions:

  • What do I think other people think of my writing? 
  • What am I worried other people will / are thinking of my story? 
  • Why do other people think my story will be AWESOME?

You may answer all or choose one to focus on.

Week 6: Future Self

Future Self

Why we are naturally past-focused

How we usually define ourselves is from the past - what we have done, what we already know how to do, our life experiences. This is natural because of how we were raised. Society teaches us to lean on the successes of our past to tell us what we can or can't do, but it translates into using past failures against ourselves.

  • "I can't do that because I've never done it before."

  • "I don't know how."

  • "That's just not something I've ever been able to do."

With writing, this may come up if you're considering a different genre. "I don't know how" is a big one here. If you really wanted to write a historical fiction novel set in old west Montana, you might feel stuck because you've never done it before.

But we never know how to do things until we do them. That's why it's way more useful to be future-focused, on what you WANT to create.


Why we benefit more from future-focus

Focuses on possibility, not probability.

Possibility creates space, openness, creativity, it makes things POSSIBLE and therefore more likely to be achieved. Probability shuts things down with statistics (or, as my mom likes to call them, sadistics) and getting your focus on the likelihood of something being reasonable or realistic rather than POSSIBLE.

Future focus, and especially focus on your future SELF means you're envisioning the kind of person you want to be, and then making decisions NOW as if you are her already.

And that's the only way to become her.

If you're ever stuck, ask yourself, what would the future version of me, who has already succeeded at this, tell me to try?


Your Future Self

Who is your future self?

She can actually be anyone you want her to be. If it helps for the context of this challenge, it's the you who, on August 31st, has completed the challenge set before you.

She's claimed the winner's pin, and is basking in the celebration of actually writing a full-length novel, especially if it's your first one.

It will be messy, it'll have plot holes, your characters won't be perfect, you'll need to add more obstacles later, but that version of you 25 days away has DONE THE WORK. You're doing the work now.

Envisioning her can help with the motivation to keep going, but remember that motivation doesn't last. Commitment, discipline - those last.

Think about what it will be like to close the word processor on August 31st with your novel finished. Think about how it will feel in your body to celebrate that moment of accomplishment.

What are you most looking forward to about that experience?


Top Five Outcomes

Expand this idea to look at the rest of your life.

Think about the top five outcomes you want in your life. It might take some brainstorming or journaling to figure it out, and it's okay to wait until after the challenge to dive into it, but it's a powerful exercise because once you compare that list to what you did yesterday, you might see opportunities for improvement.

  • What does the future version of you have that you don't?

  • What do you need to cultivate, learn, change, or do to become her?

  • What does she do that you don't?

  • What do you do now that she doesn't?

Where you put your energy and focus and time is what you will create more of. 

That's why as writers, it's important to make time to write. 


Group Activity

Write a letter FROM your future self, from the perspective of the woman who completed the challenge successfully. She is right where you want to be. Get some advice from her.

  • What would she tell you to stop doing right now?

  • What would she tell you to start doing?

  • What else might she say?

Week 7: Overcoming Writer's Block

Overcoming Writer's Block

While there is bonus material on this, I want to make sure we pay attention to it during the challenge because it can feel real when you get stuck in your writing. And the worst time for that to happen is during a challenge or a writing sprint.

Writer's block is the brain's response to some kind of fear, confusion, frustration, stress, threats, anticipated rejection, you name it. There is no one single cause because any negative thought about you or your writing can cut your creativity off at the knees.

There is nothing wrong with you if you experience writer's block. It means your brain is working exactly how it's supposed to along the lines of the motivational triad:

  1. Increase pleasure

  2. Avoid pain

  3. Be as efficient as possible

Putting your work "out there" and letting other people see it is the modern day equivalent of risking the tribe kicking you out and leaving you to fend for yourself.

Your brain literally can't tell the difference between real danger (a lion stalking you in the savannah, and you're by yourself) and perceived danger (people won't like my book and therefore I'm going to die). 

When you think from your primitive, primal brain, you're only concern is with staying alive. These could be completely unconscious thoughts, but they're happening nonetheless. 

When you think writing is painful, or difficult, or maybe you're at a boring part... the primal brain triggers and takes over, which turns off the prefrontal cortex responsible for creativity. It stays in a cycle of stress that keeps the primal brain in control, you're thinking the same things, and it just gets worse. 

It's a neurochemical cycle physically occurring in your brain that blocks creativity and the ability to write anything, let alone anything "good". 

We're again going back to the first thing I taught you, the self-coaching model.

A quick recap: 

  1. (C) Circumstances happen in the world that we have no control over.

  2. (T) We have Thoughts about those circumstances.

  3. (F) We feel emotions in response to those thoughts.

  4. (A) We take actions, inactions, or reactions based on how we feel.

  5. (R) The effect of those actions in our lives is our result.

There are a lot of thoughts that could trigger writer's block:

  • I can't get into the zone

  • I can't force the idea fairy to come!

  • The words just don't come

  • I can't write right now

  • I'm stuck

  • This book won't write itself!

  • Aaarrrghhhh!

  • Why is writing so hard???

These thoughts trigger feelings that block your creativity and ability to write. It could be any of the fear response feelings mentioned above. 

"Writer's block" looks different for everyone, but the main action remains the same: not writing.

A—don't write

You could have other Actions peppered in there. Doing the laundry. Physically standing up and moving around when you're "supposed" to be sitting down and writing. Spending an hour trying to find the right music. Staring blankly at the screen. Reading through past work or prior scenes, hoping to spark some kind of inspiration. Switching to another task.

Getting over writer's block can happen in multiple different ways. 

I tend to go toward changing how I think about things rather than going straight into different actions, because if I do the actions but keep the same list of thoughts causing the block, then the actions won't stick or they won't work as well as I want them to.

Alternative thoughts:

  • It's possible to get into the zone today.

  • I can write for just five minutes.

  • It doesn't have to be perfect.

  • It doesn't have to be relevant to my work right now.

  • I'm figuring it out.

  • I am the idea fairy.

  • Writing is fun.

  • I'm willing for it to suck right now.

  • I can commit to a single sentence and see what happens.

Another way to help get out of the rut of writer's block is to focus on the process over the outcome. Instead of getting hyper focused on the goal of 50,000 words, focus on the process of writing every day or on a consistent schedule (writing anything, not necessarily your book). Build cues, routines, and rewards into your day so you're building writing habits that matter in the long run more than 50,000 words matters in the short run.

Release tension, set intention, and take conscious breaks between writing periods. What tension are you holding about your writing? What is your intention for the next period of writing you have planned? Take a conscious break between things to get your mind in the right frame before you start writing. It can help reduce the likelihood of feeling stuck. 

Action-based strategies (but make sure you pair them with a new thought!)

  • Start at the end. (Don't be afraid to jump around the story.)

  • Write something different. (Genres, characters, style.)

  • Try a new program. (Word, Scrivener, Docs, a program that deletes your words if you stop writing for more than a few seconds...)

  • Try longhand. (Brainstorming via handwriting can unlock some creativity.)

  • Answer world-building prompts. (Post in the Facebook group for people to ask you questions about your world, then answer them.)

  • Mind mapping. (Make a bubble map of all the related ideas in your story.)

  • Reread what you've already written. (Noted earlier as an action coming from writer's block, it CAN help you get out of it but only if you're open to letting the ideas flow while you're rereading.)

  • Try ColdTurkeyWriter. (Program blocks access to your entire computer, even through hibernation, until you hit a word count or time goal.)

  • Give yourself permission to suck. (Seriously.)

  • Ask what it's about. (What's the point of your writing?)

  • Play with the font and the color. (Visual differences help generate new ideas.)

  • Take a break. (Give your brain time to noodle in your subconscious.)

  • Visual brainstorming. (Search keywords and use pictures to brainstorm. Also, CAST YOUR BOOK. I did this and it helped a LOT with characterizations.)

Group Activity

Think back to a time when you felt writer's block or just generally stuck in your writing. What was going on? How were you feeling? What were you thinking? What was happening in your head that prevented you from writing? What seemed like the culprit at the time?

Then, answer these questions:

  1. What was under your control? (Hint, your thoughts, feelings and actions)

  2. What wasn't? (Hint, anything circumstantial that could be proven in court)

  3. What is your strategy for getting through writer's block NOW with the tools you've learned?

Share any insights with the group.

Week 8: Character Decisions + Catch Up

Use the Coaching Model from Week Two to inform your character decisions.

This week was 5-6 minutes spent on discussing that concept, and then extra time for writing.

 

Week 9: Wrap Up + Feedback

Final wrap-up call with some extra writing time at the end.

Blurbs Workshop

Blurb Workshop

Phaedra's Blurb

6 countries. 6 kids. The battle of a lifetime.

Pheonix, Aaron, Serene, Crystal, Furi, and Nikki. The 6 that won. They find out how corrupted the agency really is. Now it’s up to the to find their elements and save the worlds.

Karilyn's Blurb

Giants once walked the world, wielding powerful magic. But in a single night the Giants fell to ruin, the last remnants of their magic left in the shattered fragments of their petrified bodies.

One thousand years later, citizens of the Sovereign City Mocu’Opthir are vanishing, abducted by a floating city to the North. Left behind are messages claiming someone in Mocu’Opthir stole a valuable magic artifact and no one will be safe until it is returned. No one knows what the artifact might be and the individual with the best chance of finding the artifact is a criminal known only as Diamond Eyes, and he is imprisoned within Mocu’Opthir’s Soul Prison.

Diamond Eyes is promised freedom and the chance to return home if he cooperates and discovers the artifact. If someone doesn’t kill him first.

Nworu Ikoa, an up-and-coming Arbiter, is tasked with keeping Diamond Eyes under control. Here is her chance to shine.

They are joined by Feleste Pavv, an emissary from the South eager to lend a hand to the Sovereign City as a show of her nation’s good faith.

Following the trail of the stolen artifact leads them through Mocu’Opthir into the Ruin Wastes, where secrets lie waiting.

Natasha's Blurb

Aethryell, a mechanical city in the sky, was designed centuries ago to protect people from the hostile ground below. For some, it is a utopia, but it is far from that for Arynn. Ever since her father's mysterious death, she has played to the illusion of his dream for her to become the next great inventor, but in the shadows she is one the city's greatest thieves. She is searching for answers and treacherous secrets are unveiled. Sudden blackouts threaten the entire city's power and way of life. Aethryell's existence is in danger. With the help of unlikely allies, will they be able to the save the city even if it puts the rest of the world at stake?

Sabrina's Blurb

Generations ago, humans and Fae began intermixing their familial lines - but no everyone is happy about it. Like Ignis' dad's side, and that's a secret she'll keep to herself. If not, she could lose her job - or worse, her life. But when magic begins to vanish, leaving all who depend on it gravely ill, Ignis must decide, with the help of her friends, if she can live with keeping her bloodline secret or fight against the threat. After all, what is life without a little magic or a little risk?

Heather's Blurb

Love Acestor lost everything that made this crazy world make sense. When a mosquito bite's West Nile Virus side effects took her hearing, the colors and tastes of synesthesia that formed her daily life disappeared too. More than anything she misses her wings where her colors generated. Meanwhile she helplessly watches as the gap in communication between her and her husband expands. Loss is heartbreaking enough, but worse now that her colors keep trying to return, but she can't grasp them yet as they lead her on a journey that will reveal a realm that has been hidden since the disappearance of Greek Gods and Goddesses.

Megan's Blurb

When Aspen found out her father had entered her cousin into the biggest hunt in Ateroth she felt betrayed, though that didn’t stop her from finding a way to enter herself. She’s set to compete against dozens of the best hunters across the lands all of whom have traditionally been men. That is until she meets Cole, a mysterious hunter with a dark past. An argument with him over the life of an animal leads to an encounter with an enchantress. Now she’s entering the hunt under a curse that's made her a target. As a Snow Leopard, her exotic pelt is a highly sought-after prize. Now she must use all her skills and training to survive. She needs to break the curse and to do that she must find the Enchantress. She finds Cole to be an unlikely ally, though she’s not sure she can trust him.

Cate's Blurb

Wahyacoosa, Tennessee is about two hours south of Nashville (A.K.A. Music City, U.S.A.) and one left turn away from the absolute Middle of Nowhere. There was a time when Grace Abigail Caldwell thought she had it all figured out. Five years ago, she would have left town in a heartbeat to pursue her dream of becoming a singer/songwriter and never looked back. Today that seems like another lifetime.

First, her dad died unexpectedly.

Then she lost her mother and home to Mitch “the Rich” Smith.

In the trenches of freshman year at South Central College, Grace worries that new information about her own health will jeopardize everything as her friendship with sensible and handsome James McAfee finally begins to blossom into something more.

Before she can think about the future, Grace must learn to reconcile her past, make peace with her present, and accept that the truth will always set her free.

Siobhan's Blurb

Two years ago, in the last kingdom of a destroyed world, the rulers of Tethys were overthrown.

Moira Aldrest, the fallen princess, has served The Conclave as their mercenary ever since, forced to cut down friends and enemies alike in a bid to survive.

A budding scholar when the crown was taken, Theron Abrose’s future was full of promise. He never imagined he would be relegated to stocking shelves and copying ledgers instead.

Visions come naturally to Sienne La’Rae, but the trouble has always been deciphering whether they are from the past, present, or future. She blames herself for not recognizing the rebellion until it was too late.

Now, a forgotten Curse sweeps through the Midlunds and threatens to destroy what is left of the world. When the leader of the new order is forced to call for aid, Moira, Theron, and Sienne have a chance at vengeance, glory, and redemption.

But will the remaining world survive when Fate, Destiny, and Freewill collide?

Final Blurbs & Selected Chapters

  • Heather

  • Megan

  • Siobhan

  • Natasha

  • Karilyn

  • Phaedra

Final Blurb

Love Acestor’s parents told her at a young age not to reveal the existence of her wings. She hid them so well that even her own husband doesn’t know she has been grieving their disappearance these last two years, which was connected to the loss of her hearing and color synesthesia.

After receiving a warning from her mother, who shows back up after years of no contact, and witnessing a shape-shifting stranger using magic, Love realizes there is more to her journey than just wanting to get her wings back, and maybe even more to find out about who she and her family really are.

As colors and sounds slowly return to Love carrying messages in their whispers, she must decide whether or not to follow their instructions of how to collect the rest of them and access their power, which will allow her to open an entrance into a realm that has been hidden since the disappearance of the Greek Gods.

Siobhan's Feedback

Wow, this is so powerful, Heather! I automatically feel a connection to Love and empathize with her. You can really feel the weight she carries with the loss of her wings and her senses, and it makes you root for her from the beginning. There's just enough information to hook you in, and plenty of mystery to make you want to stay. I'm so excited to see what you come up with going forward!

Karilyn's Feedback

Love sounds like a fantastic character and I'm already intrigued by her story. The shape-shifting stranger sounds fun and mysterious, too. There are so many interesting tidbits sprinkled into your blurb and they have all got me so intrigued to know more!

First 3 chapters of The Defining Love Series Book 1: Forest Floor

Chapter 1

The silence hasn’t been so bad to get used to, but I desperately miss my wings. Has it really been exactly two years since they became phantom limbs missing from my back already?  Is it possible that my parents were right and they never actually existed after all?  It is starting to feel like I should question my own reality.  As if I finally grew up and can’t see my imaginary friend anymore? But I still feel the heavy, tugging absence of them from my shoulder blades…Yes. They were there.

Nothing seems to make any damn sense in this world without my colors! The way they used to whirl around my wings all day as they waited for their opportunities to jump out and flash as large, beautiful dots reacting to sounds. Love looked down at the steam swirling from her hot coffee thinking it was just like a grey lifeless version of her old color friends. Maybe this cup of coffee makes sense, she mused.  It smells good at least.  I can already taste its bitterness each time I inhale the steam rising up towards me. As she started pouring creamer, the back of her tongue began tingling with the memory of its flavor.  She reminisced of the chocolaty caramel subduing the edge. Ah, coffee…the only thing I have found so far that makes me feel like a little part of my synesthesia is still with me. I miss the salty-tasting reds. Heck, I can honestly say I even miss the chalky indigos every time I used to hear Morrow annoyingly smash buttons on his game controller! Ugh! How does the rest of the world live every day of their lives so blandly like this and not lose their minds?

Love took a quick sip, then lowered her coffee mug back onto the brown, granite counter top. She waited in anticipation long past the cup making contact with the surface, wanting to hear it clink. The clink would have jolted green from her wings to the cup. At the same time, her mouth would have been flooded with hot and cold sensations that would have really made the coffee flavor zing! As her face muscles worked hard to droop her eyebrows over her sad eyes she wondered, why does it still disappoint me so much? I just can’t seem to be able to stop missing how it should be. But now this is how it is. Everything is accompanied by a whole lot of…nothing.

Today is what, Friday? It’s hard to tell these days. Fridays used to be red all day long due to my lost synesthesia. I really could do with having that back now to boost my confidence for the appointment I have at 10am; confidence that I am doing the right thing, confidence that I could actually succeed at it, and confidence in the thought that when I became convinced I’m not just doing this to please Morrow, that I wasn’t lying to myself. I could wear a red shirt today, I guess. She brought her left hand up to her face absently.  Her pointer finger started tapping on her lips as she considered her choices.  Do I still have that sheer, red button-up dress shirt somewhere in my closet? Ha! She felt her body chuckle as she realized, if I do it probably still has the tag on it!

Every time after today became a memory and I recalled upon it, it also would have been red. A clear and detailed red day I could have played back in my memory like watching a movie. But now all my days and new memories are simply the colors of each item in the moment, albeit somewhat muted.  Would I remember this light tan coffee clearly later on and the couple of black coffee grounds circling around on its surface? Probably not.  

Well, I guess it is time to pull that box out from under the bed that I bought for today’s appointment…I felt my long, slow breath draw in before I let it escape back out. I knew I was using the slow breath to stall for any amount of time I could manage to hold onto. No! Stop that!  Come on me, it is time to finally overcome all of my losses and get back out into the world, no matter how hard a task it feels like it is. I’ll look for that red shirt after I get the box.

Love squinted at the calendar on the brick accent wall to my left in hopes she would magically find another day in-between yesterday and today’s appointment before walking away from it and in the direction of the bedroom. There was not much room to store secrets in the small room that was so full of whites that it felt sterile. She had just made the sheets before going to make coffee, so everything looked normal on the surface. Not so normal was what she envisioned herself looking like now as a grown woman slinking half under the low bed frame to reach for something she had hidden under it.

Wow! Did I really shove the box that far under? Love inched closer and closer to the prize that felt so far out of reach. I must have shoved it back there better than I realized! Her finger tips almost touched a corner, but just barely missed. Ugh! She wiggle wormed a little more and pushed the box further away when she finally got a grasp on it.

Well this is just ridiculous! Love started to become frustrated with a small task turning into such a huge roadblock as her movements became less precise. She lunged further under the bed to simultaneously grab the box and bucked upwards as if she was catching a live animal that had been on the run. “ouch!”

 A rainbow of lights completely blinded her and seamed to emit a scream! I can’t hear anymore, so that hit must have really knocked things around in my head to register memories of shouts sounding so real, she realized. Completely disoriented, Love slithered back out from under the bed and tried to stand. Dizzy, she landed on her bottom and leaning to one side. She fought to regain her balance enough to sit up straight and rubbed a spot on her head that hurt the most. Ah! A bump was protruding out from the top of her head and it was sensitive to the touch. She contemplated, how did a bump form so fast?

Thankfully I at least came out of the cookie jar with the cookie so-to-speak. The box I had gone in for was safely encompassed by my left arm. She gripped a tighter hold, feeling oddly protective of the object after how hard it had just been to retrieve, and scared to drop it as the room continued to feel like it was spinning.

Unsure how long she had been sitting on the bedroom floor, the room started to settle and Love realized everything was almost pitch-black. She crawled on all fours to the kitchen island and used a bar stool to grip at while getting back to standing.

Wait, when did it get so dark in the kitchen, too? Is there a sudden massive storm due to hit? Light was flickering in the distance, but not from the window. Love began approaching the beaming blue light in the open floor plan living room with caution. Morrow turned his attention from the video game on the TV. He positioned himself over the top of the couch enough to look where he must have heard my footsteps suddenly coming from. “There you are,” he mouthed as he aimed his pointer finger at me.

“Early home?” my hands asked Morrow in American Sign Language as my forehead crinkled with the question.

Morrow looked as dazed as I felt before he pointed to the clock on the wall. What!? According to the steady hands it is suddenly 6:00 pm? It had only been minutes ago I woke up at 8:00am, got my coffee, and went to get the box from under the bed…

I followed Morrow’s gaze as he looked back down at the game remote in his hand to coordinate his next move. “Tick!” the button squeaked out under the pressure from his thumb. I felt almost as if my thumb had also just made contact with the smooth, rounded surface of the button as well. As I started to automatically bend my thumb a couple times to remind myself I hadn’t, from that sound came an indigo which was so light and smoky that I could almost completely see through it. It floated up and curled around and around as if a small mystical fairy had come out of a fable just to enjoy flying around my ceiling!

Did I just hear a sound again?! Is my synesthesia back? Am I dreaming?

I felt Morrow’s pointer finger tap my arm. My eyes had been so glued to the color swirling around that no warning before the touch startled me into dropping the box I had been holding so triumphantly. I looked down to see it had hit the ground already and I hadn’t heard any kind of “tunk” or “plop” or “bang” as it connected with the floor. I looked back up and the indigo was still soaring playfully.

 Morrow tilted his head slightly to one side and locked eyes with me to ensure I would see him sign his question. His hands formed the 4 sides of a square in the air and then looked as if they were sliding back and forth under an imaginary serving plate as he asked, “box, what?”

The box, right…oh no! Morrow picked it up as I felt myself start to cry. Through the blur of disappointment I watched his lips mouth as he read aloud, “Langogo Minutes Two-Way WiFi Voice Translator Device, Digital Voice Recorder and Dictation Machine with Speech-to-Text Transcription, 100+ Languages, 2.45 Inch Touch Screen, Grey, $79.99.”

Before Morrow had time to wind up and give me the what-for about how much I had spent, he looked at me and changed his tune. His pointer fingers simulated tears streaming down his face and then transformed into the letter y that came from the top of his head. “Cry why?” his lips mouthed along, and then he hugged me before I could answer.

I wiped tears from my cheeks with my pajama shirt sleeve to gather myself enough so that I could see to grip his hand and lead him to our computer. Since having to learn America Sign Language after going deaf in my adult age, I felt more comfortable typing out longer conversations instead of signing through them sometimes.

I moved the mouse so that the screen saver would reveal the always-waiting blank Word document already open on the screen. The curser blinked at me in anticipation for only a second before my fingers flew, “I was going to surprise you and finally brave a job interview today. I bought this translator so that the manager could speak with me and not be intimidated by my deafness. It was 8:00am when I went to get this box from under the bed and now somehow it is 6:00 pm! I have a giant bump on my head and if it is really 6pm, that means I missed the interview!”

No, not that face Morrow. I’m already sad enough and you have to look at me like I just ruined your life yet again! I felt the weight of his expression as it forced a heavy sigh out of me that I am sure had been audible to him.

Huh. There it is still. The indigo had followed us to over the computer and was flying around Morrow’s head like a pet with separation anxiety that found us after minutes that had felt like an eternity to it. The ghostly indigo swooped down near me and as it barely missed my head I swear I heard it! Was it, mumbling something to itself? That can’t be! It dived by me again and I instinctively leaned to get out of its way. I still couldn’t make out what it was saying, but it was definitely clicking or something like clicking!

Morrow volleyed for my attention before his hands made choppy movements as his fingers felt all over the bumps of the synthetic dread extensions in my hair. Ahhh! Jeeze! He found the bump alright! Then he nudged in next to me to type, “Give me the information for where you missed your interview. I will call and explain what happened. Then we should get you to the emergency room and get that checked out.”

Morrow’s eyes instantly switched from disappointed Morrow to determined business Morrow. I hate when it feels like he isn’t being himself with me. As an investment banker he has to wear many hats. Had I become, in his mind, just one more client that he had to inform what was best to do next?

I lifted my right hand into an O shape, and before I could sign the accompanying “K”, hot, chunky vomit sprayed from my throat and onto Morrow’s slippers without any warning. Morrow was shocked and disgusted, it was unmistakable upon reading his face. He stepped backwards out of his slippers and waddled off while stripping his clothes off and leaving them in a trail on the floor as he walked toward the closet outside our bedroom. He was picking at the garments with the tips of his fingers, trying to barely touch them where possible. I sat in a daze as I let my stomach right itself again and tried to shake off the embarrassment that was creeping into my psyche.  

The Saratoga Springs, NY hospital was walking distance away from our apartment, but Morrow loaded me into the car anyway, probably feeling more confident than I did that I didn’t have any vomit left to stink up our vehicle with and unsure how much walking I should be doing.

 In just seconds after loading into the car we were parking. I noticed as we entered through the automatic doors how everything looked just the same as it had when I came here two years ago to the day, in a panic because I was feeling all kinds of sick and suddenly couldn’t hear anything. Same white walls with lightly tan, wooden-like accents and probably even the same ray of sunlight glinting off the window on the walk in. Who knows, maybe even the same person checking me in? I don’t remember that detail very clearly. I do remember the face of the doctor that wrote down my diagnosis for Morrow and I to read. Her eyes were large and sincere and her long, straight blonde hair looked the way mine used to before I decided I wanted to add dreads. It took 2 months for them to figure out my rare mix of symptoms were all due to West Nile Virus from a mosquito bite.

Suddenly all my hairs stood on end and I felt a chill run down my whole body. Someone was standing so close to me that I felt them breathing on my neck. Morrow was still by my side talking to the woman admitting me, so who would have the nerve to stand so close to a stranger at the ER check-in window?


Chapter 2

I whipped around and felt myself get instantly nauseous again. I broke out into a sweat and felt my knees get weak underneath me. Love was sure she was about to faint, but not because of the bump on her head that she was there for, but because in front of her now stood…her parents!

Love’s mind raced, trying to find some kind of finish line that distanced her from her mother and father by the end of it. I haven’t seen them in years, but somehow they look exactly the same as when I saw them last! They should have some wrinkles or something to prove that the time in between us not talking has been real, shouldn’t they? Did they get plastic surgery or something? How and why would Morrow have contacted them for this?

I looked down at my left pointer finger for a break from all the stress that today was piling on me. “They can’t drive you crazy if you don’t give them the key.” In my head I chanted the mantra I adopted as my own after seeing it online once. Over and over again I reminded myself as I looked at the key tattoo reminder on my finger. I was in mid sentence when Morrow’s hand on my back started guiding me to step away from the desk.

My head rolled back and the ceiling came into view, as if guidance on how to handle the next few moments of my life would just magically come from the heavens…and there it is again…the smoky indigo had come here with us here too. It was darting all over, looking like a bug trying to find a way back out through the area that had trapped it in. I completely get that feeling…you aren’t alone up there indigo. I shook my head and sighed, what is that now, three sighs in one day today? Must be a record. What a day!

In between my shoulder blades I could barely tell the difference between the weight of my missing wings and Morrow’s hand still propped there even though he had stopped shuffling me to a new poistion. Slight vibrations pulsing from Morrow’s conversation and right through to his finger tips helped me find the distinction. He probably couldn’t wait to further plot with my parents. Of all the times we fought, I never would have dreamed in a million years that he would get back at me with my parents! I don’t keep contact information for them in the apartment and I didn’t invite them to our wedding. He must have put some real detective work into accomplishing this. What a waste of time.

Oh, wait a minute, Morrow’s face is actually looking quite flustered. That’s what you get for bringing my parents into any piece of our lives! Did you think they would be your friend? They don’t care about anyone but themselves.

That indigo is really zipping! It must be lonely and looking for friends. It is getting much closer to the other people in the waiting room. Oh no, the other people in the waiting room! Why did I look? It’s too late now. My eyes were drawn from the indigo and right to a little boy it was uncomfortably close to. He was crying while his family held a wad of paper towels under his chin and were squinting at him helplessly. Blood had already turned the white towels into a sopping red pile, and his family’s hands were stained.

I tried with all the might I could find inside me, but I couldn’t stop it, tears sprung from my eyes. My chin was throbbing. I felt like it had been slit. The one synesthesia form I was left with after everything else disappeared was my mirror synesthesia. It isn’t fair! I conformed to the rest of the world’s way of life with my loss and have to further conform by feeling whatever I see them all feel as well. I lost more than my hearing and my colors that day, I completely lost myself. I couldn’t help pouting and feeling sorry for myself on top of feeling the child’s pain.

There is no way that there is anything left in me to throw back up, but my body was about to try anyway. I felt so light all of the sudden that it was as if my head was in two places at once and my skin got clammy. Why can’t I tear my eyes away from that kid? Ugh! Such. Sharp…Pain! The screaming in my head stopped as my knees finally gave in and buckled.

Ahhh! The floor was very unforgiving where my knees made contact. The slam in my bones felt just as real as the stinging in my chin had, but averted my attention as it was the newest sensation.

A nurse at the front desk must have been very reactive because it felt like mere seconds in between me falling and me being loaded onto a stretcher. The ceiling whizzing by like I am traveling at warp speed in a TV show isn’t helping the nausea here guys, I thought about how I wished I could easily say that to them. I had to assume everyone I met didn’t know sign language and that meant everyone I came in contact with presented me with a barrier I had to overcome before I could communicate with them. Morrow’s face wasn’t one of the many keeping pace over me, so no one would be able to translate for me if I needed it.

I couldn’t keep focusing on the ceiling, so I turned to look at one of their faces. I am pretty good at reading lips if I do say so myself. I should have added that, and my skill at picking out coffee grounds floating in my coffee on the first try, to my resume! Well, it looks like I will have time to do that before another attempt at an interview comes around again.

The male nurse’s lips I was watching said to the others, “we don’t know if she is pregnant, so let’s start with an MRI instead of a CS scan.” This is a teaching hospital too I believe, oh boy, so I am a lab rat on top of everything else today? Great. Just great. Why not, right?

His lips continued to them, “the patient is already deaf, so the loud noises from the MRI machine won’t be a bother to her. Normally we would have to offer the patient earplugs or headphones.” Wow, impressive, his talking doesn’t seem out of breath with all this running, he must do this a lot in a day I guess, poor guy.

He turned to ask the doe-eyed group a question now as they slowed down to enter the room that seemed to be our destination, “does anyone remember from class exactly how an MRI works?” I was intrigued, I’ll bite, I want to know too, seeing I am about to have one. I scanned their expressions until I caught movement from the lips of what appeared to be the youngest one there just from my best guess, “MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, uses a constant magnetic field and radio frequencies to bounce off the fat and water molecules in a person’s body. The radio waves that the receiver picks up are translated into the image we need to diagnose the issue at hand. In class I thought of it like a dolphin’s echolocation to remember, sir.”

“Well done. Echolocation is probably a pretty accurate way to think of it. Your new nickname is Dolphin, kid.” The nurse’s comment made everyone seem to forget I was here for a moment as they all smirked and someone reached from behind him to playfully shuffle the hair on “Dolphin’s” head. Dolphin whined, “hey! Cut it out Spilled Coffee!” Wow! If Spilled Coffee over there was a spirit animal, he would be my spirit animal! What a crew I was getting to behold here!

While I had been watching the group, the male nurse had been busy pulling a clipboard from out of thin air and had written on the chart to show me, “are you claustrophobic?”

I hadn’t ever thought of an answer to that question before…So if I hadn’t had an issue with it I assume that means I am not, right? I shook my head, “no,” with such minute movements I almost wondered if it was enough for him to tell it was a head shake. He must have though because he nodded at me in understanding and wrote underneath it, “please lie very still in the MRI machine.”

This time I nodded my head up and down in response. The second I was in, I instantly regretted my answer to if I was claustrophobic or not. Yup, apparently I am now if I wasn’t before! I could feel myself breathing, but at the same time I felt like I couldn’t breath. My body felt like I was so hot all over. Did they add me into an oven instead by accident? I kept thinking the worst in my mind and couldn’t stop it, thoughts of never getting out, thoughts that the container I was in would shrink even closer onto me than it already felt, or maybe even would it crash onto me? I gasped, I needed air on my face and I needed it now!

I thought back to something I had read once about overcoming panic attacks, which must be what I was having. I needed to use my five senses. I needed to focus on things around me I could find of each thing. OK, something I can see. This death dome I am in, check. That is off to a great start with helping. Not really. I tried to control my breathing and hoped that my struggling and gasping for air wasn’t making this process take any longer than it needed to. I feel like I have been in here for a really, really long time already. How long has it been?

Focus! How about something I can smell? Come to think of it, I smell some vomit now, check. Wait, did I get some on me before we left for the hospital and I am just now smelling it? Two for two with no help. Ugh. Gross! And that takes care of taste, too unfortunately, because it is so potent now that I smell it I can taste it again too! Yuck! Check. Jeeze!

“Dolphin,” would be so proud if he could hear in my head. Nothing great coming from it so far, but this kind of proves his MRI echolocation theory works in here as a patient, too. Sights and smells and the heat from my breathing so far seem to be bouncing right back to me from the very, very close top here. Did I see the ceiling get closer to my face? I swear it did just now!

The vibration from the sounds it must be making are pretty strong, I bet if I could still hear this would be deafening. That is something I can feel though, the vibrations, check. And this is still not helping, check! Or maybe it is helping? I am still conscious, so I am still breathing. Come on, I really have to pull myself together!

Hearing, cruelly, is the last sense. Wait, can I hear something? I closed my eyes. It felt like it was practically slapping me in the face as it bounced from the inside top of the machine and back to me along with my breath now! Yes, clicks and taps that it was emitting among the other sounds it must be producing, I can hear, well, some of it! The indigos started bouncing off the top of the space I was enclosed in and I back towards me and all around me. It felt more like I was floating in a pool from all of the colors saturating around me. They bounced like tennis balls and clicked as they went by my ears. Colors are my friends here with me now, so the worst part was over now, right?


Chapter 3

Nope, it was definitely getting worse still! I was transferred onto a cot in a small cubical with only a curtain to provide privacy from the other beds in a repetitive row next to where mine was stationed. That didn’t bother me, but the fact that mom was there. Mom turned her back to me, like she always was so keen to do.  Everyone else in the curtained-off cubical started nodding in her direction and leaving the room as if they were all caught in a strong gust of wind. Morrow shot me a brief second of eye contact before he and dad left. A nurse closed the curtain as she was stepping out as well, feeling satisfied by the corralling of the group she had just accomplished.

My eyes jerked up to roll at the scenario I now found myself in, but before going full circle, they instead caught sight of the indigo colors that had stayed with me from the MRI machine. It was quite distracting, especially now that there were so many of the frail colors that were leaving temporary color trails as they darted back and forth. My colors never lingered like this before. They used to be instant flashes and tastes on a constant system or renewal.

I jumped when it suddenly felt like an ice cube had been slathered right onto my key finger tattoo. I looked down to see mom’s fingers covering the reminder I needed to not let her drive me crazy. Did she know it was about her? She always just seemed to “know” everything. She had the most heightened sense of mother’s intuition in the history of mothers, I am sure of it, just not the sensitivity to balance out how to deal with those all-knowing moments properly with me.

Suddenly she held out a paper with words already written on it that I could see from the back as inked shadows, and a pen. Where had she gotten that? I felt her eyes boring into me while she waited for me to show a reaction of some kind. I made sure to voice my disdain for her presence by glaring up at her before taking hold of the paper and pen she was shoving in front of my face.

Her hand writing was very controlled and neat, just the way she liked to appear to the rest of the world.

 You can and must get your wings back. The sounds and colors will keep returning after this first one. You must collect them once they are all there and go where they will lead you. These aren’t your colors that are coming to you and I bet you feel that in your bones. The one sending them to you is who you must seek, before they get away with ruining both our worlds. Though you are destined to stop it, I truly am sorry to tell you that as far as I have seen, it ends with you in a motionless heap on the ground. Much like the way Morrow believes your shungite necklace absorbs power from his gaming console, you must find and collect their powers once you are able to. They need to be stopped once and for all. All of them. Even your grandparents. Do not let them steer you wrong.

The pen couldn’t move fast enough to keep up with my rage and looked like barely readable chicken scratch compared to my normal writing. That woman could always unnerve me in seconds flat, and it looks like in all this time she hadn’t gotten rusty at the skill in the least bit!

Sure. Uh huh. Now all of the sudden you come out of the wood work and believe I had wings, when you used to tell me I was crazy for believing I had them in the first place and not to tell anyone else about them?! And all this babble makes absolutely no sense!  And suddenly I have grandparents to mention now, while all those years growing up when kids told me about their fun holiday get-togethers at their grandparents homes and I asked you why we never visited our family you told me that we didn’t have any and not to ask any more about it! While you are here at the emergency room you should admit yourself. Have them check you for a concussion too. Oh, and have your circulation checked while you are at it, your hand is freezing. On your way to the desk please send my husband in here you I can tell him how angry I am that he called you to come here today.

While Love’s mother read the response, Love motioned to fidget with her shungite necklace, which was usually tucked under her shirt. She hadn’t had time to put it on today after coffee like usual, and suddenly felt very exposed without it. I’m not sure how she knows about the indigos following me around right now, but I am not surprised. Love was surprised however that her mother knew about that reoccurring fight between her and Row. She reasoned with herself that she was going to have to call him Row instead of Morrow, because she was so mad. Thinking of his nickname is usually the only way she could look him in the eye to sign with him again. He is in so much trouble right now! What does he do, secretly complain about me with my parents behind my back or something? How long has this been going on?

Mom lifted her head and I watched her mouth form the words, "D, I know that is you."

What in the world was she saying now? I must have misread her lips.

I followed her eye line as she turned to look at another nurse that had just entered.  The nurse lowered a chart in her left hand, smiled, and then pointed confidently and sarcastically at herself at the same time as if to say, “come on, would I do that?” 

The smile lingered longer than was comfortable until suddenly she transformed into a man with long dark hair, a caped outfit, and a large, smug grin. I followed his mouth movements and completely at-ease body language as he said, “then you must also know I hate nicknames. The last person who called me one… is no longer with us. How did you know it was me?”

Mom must have waited to respond for me to finish rubbing my eyes while I was trying to make sense of what I thought I just saw. After all the time I felt I took, I was still somehow in time to see her lips say, “I foresaw it.” Mom didn’t turn to face him and, instead, continued to hold eye contact with me.

His brow furrowed before he puzzled, “but I thought you can only see tragedies?”

Mom took a turn at a smile that made everyone around her uncomfortable before she answered, “that is true. This is the start of one. Yours....” She turned to drive her statement home by finally looking at him.

My eyes ping-ponged back to the ”D” fellow as his complexly serious expression was followed by an, “I don’t believe you.”

Mom turned back to facing me and sighed heavily before rolling her eyes. “I know. No one ever does and no one ever will, thanks to my incompetent husband.” I took more offense to her statement than I could have imagined I would, and made a mental note to argue with mom about it at a later date. Of the two of them, dad was the nicer of the two.

The man looked directly at me now as he spoke to my mother, which felt extremely unsettling in the pit of my stomach, “your daughter seems to be interfering with my magic all of the sudden. The opening she made called me here. Now how is she doing that? I have left you all alone because you haven’t been a bother to me. You had a chance at a normal life. Was that not enough for the lot of you?”

Ever the master at naturally avoiding accountability for sharing anything that pertained to information about her thoughts or feelings, mom deflected the subject matter of response onto me, along with her gaze as well. This was starting to feel like some weird twilight zone episode where the actors were directed to stare directly into the camera for longer than feels necessary. It started giving me chills! “They aren’t hers you know, your focus is aimed in the wrong direction.”

Mom wasn’t finished, “Tut tut,” her tongue clicked at him in mock, sly disappointment, and this time instead of just watching her lips, I heard the sounds.” I saw in my peripheral vision that all three of our heads followed the new indigos as they seemed to come out of nowhere and play with the rest of them already staying with us in the curtained-ff room. They were like children released later than their friends to the playground and were beyond excited to be reunited again. Were mom and “D” just on alert to see what I was looking at, or were they somehow seeing the indigos too?

As the man’s eyes barely squinted, he replied, “I see.” Mom smiled and raised an eyebrow. Her body language straightened slightly, as if she was bracing herself in anticipation of accepting some kind of challenge. A challenge that she had complete confidence in herself to take the win at as her eyes twinkled with delight. I felt my mother's right hand grasp my leg and her left hand slide under my back as the man pointed his hand towards the curtain in front of me. The grip struck me as oddly protective of her, as we never held hands even to cross the street when I was a child.

He ran and leapt at a spot that looked like colorful acid was eroding a window through in the air just before the layer of curtain that made our area a sort of room. He completely disappeared through the dark, out-of-place, person-sided oval.

Then the world suddenly spun around me as I found my indigos and myself somehow darting through the opening as well!


Karilyn's Feedback

I love your first sentence! It makes me want to know more about your character right away while giving me just enough information to want to keep reading. I like how there is a little bit of mystery for me to discover. I like how Love compares her wings being gone to no longer seeing an imaginary friend. I also liked the different ways Love described how she experienced her colors. And the inclusion of ASL is awesome! I love it when characters use sign language.

The scene in the hospital with Love, her mother, and D was very interesting and I want to find out what happens next! 

I'm not sure if the story was meant to be written this way, but it seemed to bounce around between first and third person and sometimes that pulled me out of the story a little. 

Bonuses

The Real Reason You Aren't Writing and How to Overcome It

Writer's Block Workbook