Special Delivery (Narrative)

Joanne stood idly by the water cooler in the break room, staring blankly at the opposite wall as she held a small plastic cup filled with water in her right hand while using her left to lean against the counter. She sighed as she brought the cup to her lips, her thoughts drifting off into the same disheartening flashback of her life story that they always found at this hour. How exactly had she ended up here? She’d had such high hopes in her youth. A 20-year-old Joanne had dreamed of becoming a successful businesswoman, of traveling across Europe, of marrying a decent man with whom she could someday spend a golden anniversary. Now twice that idealistic age, she found herself divorced, lonely, and answering phones for a living. What had become of her life?

The middle-aged receptionist checked her watch. Her break was almost over. She might as well return to her desk; Heaven forbid the temp should screw something up and she would have to take the heat for it. After all, what else did she have left to hold on to but her menial job?

Just as she threw her empty cup in the wastebasket, however, there came a knock at the open door.

Joanne looked up to see a handsome man stepping into the break room. He was tall and well built, probably in his mid-to-late thirties. He sported a plain brown uniform, and in his arms he carried a large box, no doubt containing the office supplies the staff had ordered a week ago.

The man asked to whom exactly he had been sent to deliver the box. Joanne smiled awkwardly, suddenly flustered. What nice eyes this man had. She had never noticed how attractive hazel eyes could be, almost like little topaz stones. After a few quiet seconds, the deliveryman repeated his question, and Joanne snapped out of her trance to answer that she was the receptionist and she could sign for the package.

The man nodded once with a smile and entered the room. Joanne asked if he would like some water, and turned around to face the water cooler after he accepted her offer. Unfortunately, she didn’t notice how quickly he made it to the table to unload the box; the moment she turned around, the two collided, and the gentleman’s outfit was splashed with water spilt from the cup.

The woman apologized profusely for her clumsiness and quickly reached for the paper towels on the countertop as the man insisted it was quite all right. Joanne helped him to wipe most of the excess water off the box and his shirt, and as she dabbed at the brown fabric covering his shoulder, she caught sight of the name tag sown into the clothing over his chest. Henry. What a perfectly nice name, well suited for such a nice man.

Henry grabbed another paper towel, pulling his sleeves up a little as he wiped his hands. That was when Joanne caught sight of a pair of tattoos, one on each of his arms. The left arm had a plain evangelical cross over the wrist, while the right arm bore a Latin phrase: “Carpe diem”.

The man smiled at the sight of the woman looking curiously at his tattoos. Seize the day, that’s what it meant. He had been trying to live his life by those words ever since he found out an ex-girlfriend he once loved was marrying another man. Maybe he should have proposed to her when he had the chance. As for the cross, it had been there for 15 years, since he was 21, as a constant reminder of his unfaltering faith in Jesus. After all, what was life without faith? The receptionist smiled, fascinated.

Joanne offered Henry some more water. He accepted, on the condition that this time it come inside the cup. She chuckled. A handsome face and a good sense of humor. How charming! The woman handed the refilled plastic cup to the man, who gladly took it from her in exchange for the clipboard holding the paper she needed to sign to receive the package.

The deliveryman handed the receptionist a pen, catching a glimpse of her hand as she reached for it. No ring? Not possible; she was an attractive woman. A closer look, however, revealed a faint tan line where a wedding band must have been for some years.

Henry inquired about his discovery. Joanne blushed. Yes, she was recently divorced, having only just signed the final papers last month. Her ex-husband didn’t respect her enough, so she explained. Turned out he wasn’t the man she thought he was. He put her down, made her feel like her dreams were hopeless fantasies, so one day she left him. Moved to a new city, got a simple job as a receptionist, and that was that.

Suddenly realizing she was rambling to a complete stranger, the receptionist hastily apologized, but the deliveryman smiled brightly. It must have taken a lot of courage for her to turn her life around like that in the hopes of finding something better. Carpe diem.

Joanne handed the pen back to Henry. He paused as his fingers closed around the pen and touched hers. Carpe diem… He might not see this woman again, but he was certain he wanted to. Maybe she’d like to get coffee sometime? Joanne laughed, a cheery melodious sound she hadn’t heard herself make in a long time. Yes, that would be lovely. She eagerly took the pen back to write her phone number at the bottom of the clipboard, then handed everything back to the deliveryman.

Henry tossed out the empty cup and smiled as he took the clipboard and pen, looking down at the former to read the name scribbled in neat cursive handwriting. Joanne, a pretty name to match a pretty face. With a polite nod and farewell, he was out the door. Still blushing profusely, Joanne picked up the package and carried it back to her desk with a broad grin on her face, somehow feeling that a lot more than a box full of office supplies had been brought into her life that day.


This short story is the first half of a two-part writing exercise I gave myself a few years ago. The exercise is to write the same story twice: once as a narrative with no direct dialogue, and once as a script for a stage play. The idea is to explore the differences between narrative and pure dialogue, in order to get a feel of how writing in one format differs from writing in the other. I hope you enjoy what I’ve written. Thanks for reading!

Be sure to check in next week to read this story again as a scene in a play!

My First Novel?: Fanfiction as a Practice Run (Part I – The Idea)

There’s a topic that’s been sitting in my to-write list for a while, mostly because I’ve been debating with myself whether I should write about it at all. It’s not exactly an easy subject for me to bring up, on or off my blog. However, after thinking it over, I finally decided that the experience was enlightening enough to be worth sharing in my Creative Writing segment.

So over the coming weeks, I’ll be telling the story behind a novel-length fanfiction I wrote and my experience through the whole process of writing, publishing and receiving feedback. Why tell this story at all? Because even though this was just fanfiction, I believe the learning experience I had with it was very similar to that of writing a real novel, and thus I feel it deserves to be shared. Enjoy!

Part I: The Idea

First off, I’d like to point out that it took quite a bit of effort just to work up the courage to write these posts. Though I’ve openly admitted to writing fanfiction in the past, it’s a little more embarrassing to admit that I’ve written it recently (i.e. in my twenties). Having said that, I’d also like to state for the record that I’m very proud of the story itself. I just wasn’t sure I was ready to associate my fanfiction pen name with my “professional” one. So please, don’t judge me for sharing this story here; I’m really pouring my heart out. Thank you.

OK, so I should probably start by telling a little bit about my background as a fanfiction writer. I’ve mentioned in the past that I used to write stories based on video games, and while there were quite a few in the mix, there was one fandom in particular that had me absolutely hooked. Which fandom, exactly? Sonic the Hedgehog. I’ll give you a second to laugh. All done? Great.

So now you may be wondering what drew me to the Sonic fandom in the first place. Well, aside from the fact that I’ve loved the games since I was four, the series provides a plethora of characters and a very adaptable canon, making it perfect material for fanfiction. Fans can really let their imaginations run wild coming up with possible stories for the Sonic characters. And that’s exactly what I did. Several times.

Chaos and Control: A Romeo & Juliet Story

Chaos and ControlThe story I’m going to tell you about is a Sonic fanfiction titled Chaos and Control. It’s a love story based on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, starring my original characters – the canon characters’ children – and set in an alternate universe to the other stories I’ve written. Here’s the full synopsis:

For years, Green Hill has been ground to a feud between two rival factions: Chaos, led by Shadow the Hedgehog; and Control, led by Sonic the Hedgehog. So when Sonic’s son and Shadow’s daughter meet and fall in love, it could mean hope or disaster for everyone involved in the war. Can Miles and Maria defy fate and overcome all obstacles to be together, or are they doomed to face the same tragic end as their Shakespearean counterparts?

So far, so good, right? Don’t worry, it gets better.

The original characters featured in the story actually made their debut in another fanfiction I wrote five years ago titled Generation Beta, and the fact that it was very well received by my readers inspired me to keep writing stories about them. One day, while going through yet another of my many romantic phases, I realized I’d become inspired to write a “forbidden love” story for my favorites, and thus a “novel” came to be. Why a novel? Because when all the writing and editing was finally done, it came out to a total of 14 chapters and just under 150,000 words. Wow.

So why in the world did I dedicate myself to a project from which I could never profit? I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t given a lot of thought to that question, but the only answer I could come up with is that it was a story I had to tell. It may not make sense to most readers, but fellow writers will surely understand what it means to have stories in your heart that must be set free. That’s how I felt when I decided to write this story, and that’s why I put as much effort as I did into bringing it to life. But that’s a tale for another time.

This concludes the introduction to my fanfiction posts. Next week, I’ll begin telling the story of the writing process behind Chaos and Control. Of course, this much I can say now: it was quite a journey! Thanks for reading!

Note: If you’re interested, you’re more than welcome to read my story and even leave some reviews. I promise you don’t need to know too much about the Sonic universe to appreciate it. Reviews are positive, but contain spoilers! Thank you!

Word of the Week: Tortuous

Word: tortuous

Pronunciation: TOR-choo-əs

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition:

  1. full of twists and turns
  2. excessively lengthy and complex

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


You may have expected to see a different definition at the top of this post. That’s understandable; I know I was a bit surprised when I first read it on a vocabulary flashcard. Evidently, “tortuous” is one of those words thrown into standardized tests to evaluate students’ attention while reading; since it’s so similar to the word “torturous”, it’s easy to miss the difference or assume it has some grim meaning behind it, when in fact, it isn’t nearly as sinister.

Anything concrete described as “tortuous” has a generous share of twists and turns in it. When used to define something abstract, “tortuous” means overly complicated and long. The word comes from the Latin adjective tortuosus, which means “twisting”. This can be traced back to the verb tortus/torquere, meaning “to twist” or “to bend”.

If you want to incorporate the word “tortuous” into your writing, you may want to make sure your readers won’t confuse it with the more foreboding “torturous”. To avoid confusion, choose your descriptions carefully and be certain the word’s definition is clear in context. You probably won’t want your audience to think you’re writing about the “agonizing” paths of the world when you really mean “twisted”. But then again, if both adjectives apply, such mixups could make for some clever plays on words, don’t you think?

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

A Friend for Life

A friend is a gift.
Someone you can talk to,
Someone you can trust,
Someone you love.

A true friend is a treasure.
Someone who talks to you,
Someone who is there for you,
Someone who loves you.

A true friend is
The greatest gift in the world.
And I’ve had one
My whole life.

You teach me much about life.
You talk to me freely about anything.
You watched me grow up
And helped me become
The person I am today.
And still you’re always there for me,
Letting me know you love me.

So thank you for everything
You’ve ever done for me.
Thank you for being a role model.
Thank you for being a leader.
Thank you for being a teacher.
But most of all,
Thank you for being
A friend for life.


Dedicated to my dad, an amazing father and one of the best friends I’ve ever had. Happy Birthday, Daddy! I love you!

A Novice’s Take on Advertising for Writers (Writers Reveal)

Welcome to the second Writers Reveal of the year! Starting this month, we’re making a significant change to our format. Since Emily Morgan recently had to step down as our host, we’ve decided to continue with Writers Reveal by taking turns setting a single topic for everyone each month. So for our first universal prompt, Emily Hawker has chosen to have us write about advertising. Thanks for the topic, Emily!

Advertising for Novices

Written by The Best Author Ever

Written by The Best Author Ever

OK, so when Emily sent this topic to us, I really didn’t know what I was going to write about. Selling novels? Ads for blogs? How could I write an entire blog post about a subject I know so little about? And then I realized exactly what it could be about: marketing from an amateur writer’s point of view. If I can’t write from the perspective of an expert in advertising, I can write from the perspective of a beginner.

So what little do I understand about advertising? For starters, I know it plays a key role in helping anyone gain exposure. I also know that artists have to be especially involved in marketing their work, at least in the beginning. Because our chosen line of work is so subjective, we have to take the first steps to prove that our stories are worth reading, our music is worth listening to, and our visual pieces of art are worth seeing. Only from our hard initial efforts can the ball begin to roll toward our success, and even so, nothing is for certain.

Experienced Writer, Inexperienced Marketer

Maybe “experienced writer” is a bit of an exaggeration here, since there’s still much of the world of creative writing I haven’t ventured through yet, but that’s beside the point. What matters is that I have much more experience writing my work than I do marketing it, though I’m starting to understand more about the business side of art. Even before I started my blog, I was already learning how to get my writing noticed. While working on the first posts for my site, I also created some new social media accounts to share my content, and since then, they’ve proven quite effective in drawing new readers, as well as helping me meet new writers.

What I have no experience in yet, however, is marketing a novel. Even though I’ve been reading up on the subject, I still haven’t finished writing my first book, so I can’t say I know the experience of selling it firsthand. I know I’ll have to advertise it extensively on social media networks like Twitter and Facebook. I know I should try to reach out to other bloggers and have them help me share my stories (just as I’d love to help them share theirs). And I know that I should never give up on getting my work out to as many readers as possible.

So if I want to be a successful novelist, I’ll have to improve my marketing skills. I’ll have to advertise my stories as much as I can, and I’ll have to be patient as I do so, remembering that if I want my artistic voice to stand out among the countless others in the world, I have to keep making it heard. After all, in this day and age, the experience of being a writer extends far beyond the actual writing.

How experienced are you with advertising? Are you good about marketing your stories, or do you struggle with getting your work out there?


This has been a special topic post for Writers Reveal, a monthly blog swap among several talented writers. Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in the event. Thanks for reading!

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Other bloggers in Writers Reveal
Melissa Khalinsky: Melissa Writes
Becky Fyfe: Imagine! Create! Write!
Rhianna: A Parenting Life
Ashley Howland: Ghostnapped
Emily Hawker: You Learn Something New Every Day
Emily Toxward: Have A Laugh On Me

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