Short Story: Owner of the Bank of Souls

Meg is dying–fast. There’s only one way for her boyfriend to save her. The Bank of Souls.

“Tomorrow it’ll come and tomorrow she’ll be dead!” Danner stood over my cot, all dark and shadowy, though the fireplace crackling behind him did cast light on one thing—his shining green eyes. Or I guess that’s two things technically. To the right of the fireplace, Birdie hunched, sunken and gray like the armchair he sat in.

“Well darn, Danny,” I coughed, “quite the inspiration.” 

He leaned over and softened some. “Shh, Meg, please, just rest.” 

“Well, according to you, I’m about to have plenty of that in eight hours—give or take.” 

His glistening eyes laid on me and though the darkness in my cabin’s living room obscured it, he curved his lips in a smirk—the same smirk he gave me at the prison courtyard before introducing himself as my future husband. But like my health over the last forty-eight hours, it quickly vanished. 

“All we can do is pray for dayligh’,” Birdie said, his voice hoarse.

“I’m sick of praying, Birdie!” Danner rose. “We’ve got to do something!” 

“You willin’ to go out there durin’ curfew and risk meetin’ the courier halfway?”

“I think my odds at taking a bullet are better than hers right now.”

“That so?” Now Birdie rose, wrinkled and still hunched, he managed to meet brawny Danner eye-to-one-eye. Like it did for Danner, the flames shined off Birdie’s single iris and only deepened the shadow in his crater of the other. “I know the odds, kid, and they ain’t good. You’re better off sittin’ your stubborn butt down and waitin’ for her medicine to come.”

 “Dad, please—” I shut my mouth. Birdie’s singular stare darted to me. Despite the warmth, a shiver tore through my bones. 

Birdie walked around Danner and slowly approached. “What did you call me?”

“Dad,” I said it lower, but stronger somehow. Of all the eighteen years he’d raised me, never once had I called him Dad. He never taught me to. 

A tear welled and he knelt beside me and laid his heavy, thumbless hand on my whole one—another friendly reminder from the dictatorship not to ever buy cow meat from the black market again. “Darnit, Meg. I told you what to call me.”

“God forbid, right? Even on my death bed.”

“You’re not gonna die, Meg.” 

“Just like Mom wasn’t going to?”

A tear escaped and he quickly turned away. My own eyes remained dry. I didn’t have the luxury of thirty years of memories. Not even a full twenty-four hours. I only had the reminder of the curse, the plague I was from birth. 

Danner returned to my side, soft again. “Do you want me to stay?”

Sweat dripped from my temples; heat, pain, and love will do that to you. “Kinda.”

He chuckled. “But I’ve got to do something, Meg.”

“Then kiss me.”

He grabbed my hand in his and whispered, “With this audience? I’ll really die before you do.”

“Romeo didn’t care.”

“Yeah, and look how that ended up.”

I sighed. “But unlike Juliet…I am really dying, Danner.” 

His head bowed and he kissed my hand. Hot tears landed on my skin. He peered up again. After what felt like eons, he slowly leaned in and pressed his soft lips to mine. Bitter sweet, like black coffee and milk. Another luxury we’d been deprived of for years. My aching muscles eased. My eyelids grew heavy. My breathing hastened. 

Danner recoiled. “Meg? Meg!”

“Meg!” Birdie cried out. Their loud voices drifted as my head throbbed. Burning stabs cut through my heart. I gasped and grabbed my chest. But I couldn’t feel my hand. Only my heart. The rapid slicing. From every angle. Cutting through my veins. Ripping at my arteries. My lungs squeezed in. A million pounds. I dropped back. This. Was. It. My odds. Maybe I’d meet. Mom.

 Finally. Say hi. Or sorry.

Blackness reigned.

***                                                               

“Meg!” Danner shouted, her lifeless, thin body like the weight of a child in his arms. He held her tightly. “Please, don’t do this. I need you.” Tears soaked his face. And rage consumed his heart. They did this to her. To her mother. To his grandparents. Their neighbors. Scraps and shackles. Crap hospitals. Criminalizing private anything. 

Birdie dropped to his knees and sobbed. “Meg, my Megan. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Danner shut his eyes. Meg’s face that day in the prison courtyard filled his mind. Still thin, but fuller. Her skin glowing with sweat and her dark eyes plain yet penetrating. Makeup was for rich girls. Not that she needed it. 

She sat against the iron gate, writing on a torn piece of bed sheet with a pen she’d stolen from an officer. She had wrapped the flashy pen in some bed sheet, too. Danner was the only one who saw her do it. 

The meat-head sat in his cozy desk chair, writing in the new prisoners on his clipboard with an old, red-feathered ink pen. He prided his penmanship—refusing to use the government provided tablet. Meg had been eyeing the pen the whole time she waited in line. By the time she was third, she feigned the most believable sneeze attack you’d ever seen. Everyone panicked—not wanting to catch the latest pestilence—even Meat-Head. He sprang from his comfy chair like someone jammed a dagger through his cheeks, dropping his pen and notepad. Meanwhile, Meg stumbled forward, still sneezing, and slapped her hands onto the table. As she turned around, she swiped the pen and slipped it into the back of her pants, her sneeze explosion finally ceasing. 

Meat-Head was so disturbed he’d called in backup and took an abrupt break from his post. 

And that’s when the thought hit Danner and he just knew it. He knew one day he’d marry that crazy girl. And he had to tell her. 

“I saw what you did.” Danner opened with.

She stopped writing and looked up at him with those eyes. “And?”

He smirked. “And I’m your future husband.” 

Meg huffed, but then smiled, too.

Danner opened his eyes. And gently pulled Meg away from his chest. Her mouth hung open slightly. But now she was dead.

A knock rattled the front door.

 Birdie continued sobbing as Danner carefully laid Meg on the cot and then rushed to the door. He opened it. Night masked the surrounding woods up to the porch, but a ray of moonlight snuck through the trees and onto a brown paper box on the doorstep. Danner glanced around. The courier couldn’t of disappeared that fast. Danner grabbed the box, slowly, before shutting the door and locking it.

Birdie looked up, his face wet with tears and snot. He frowned at the odd package as Danner scanned it. Not the Black Market’s usual white, imitation government box with realistic insignias and a fake return address.

“Who’s it from?” Birdie finally spoke.

“Doesn’t say.”

“Then don’t open it. Could be a bomb or something from the Regime.”

Danner clutched the box, his eyes traveling to Meg, her skin paler than ever. He strode from the room and into the half kitchen. He snatched a knife from a drawer, set the box on the counter, and then sliced the tape that sealed it. 

As Danner opened the box, Birdie stepped into the kitchen. A clipboard with a paper lay at the bottom. 

“What the hell is it?”

Danner slowly removed the clipboard and read the crimson printed words:

I, Danner Adam Mitchel, on this sixth day of September, year 2033, hereby choose to pledge that in the place of Megan Marie Blackwell, I shall offer my life in exchange for hers. 

Danner’s heart pounded. Beneath a line with an empty space, cursive writing spelled: Anticus Mordem, Owner of the Bank of Souls.

Danner looked inside the box again. A red-feathered pen lay in the center. 

Birdie rushed to his side and grabbed the clipboard. As he read it, he shook his head. “What kinda sick bast—”

Danner clasped the pen and snatched the clipboard back, then walked out of the kitchen and into the living room. Meg still lay there. Her skin now yellowing. Danner approached her. He suddenly remembered what he’d stowed in his left pocket. A ring he’d traded five batteries and a week’s worth of flour for. A six month’s wage. He had the proposal all planned. 

He’d built a small table from two of his dining chairs and set it in his backyard beneath the best looking tree he could find and then sprinkled it with purple flowers—her favorite color. He was going to cook wheat pasta for her and then ask the big question. But before he could, she got food poisoning from spoiled berries and now here they were, two days later. 

Danner reached in his pocket and removed the ring. Rose gold. Plain but beautiful, like Meg. Lifting her limp hand, he slid the ring onto her ring finger. “If this works, I’ll see you on the other side, Juliet.” He gave her one more kiss before pressing the red-feathered pen on the empty line and filling it with his name. 

A pang thrust through his chest. He staggered before hitting the floor. 

“Danner!” Birdie dropped beside him and began compressing his chest. “No, you ain’t goin’, too, kid! C’mon!” He pushed down hard. Over and over.

“Dad?” Meg’s voice. 

Danner’s chest seared at the sound and he forced himself to look at her. Her skin shone its normal pale, kissed with red. Her dark eyes alive—and terrified. 

As she jumped out of the cot, Birdie stopped compressing. “Megan? But…”

Megan took over. She pumped and pumped. Pressed her lips to Danner’s. Breathed out. Pumped some more. Breathed out…

“No, no, Danner, don’t you dare!” She cried as she pressed harder. 

The pain spread until it swallowed. And Danner gave his life.

***                                                              

“No!” I cupped Danner’s cheeks. His eyes were open. But distant. I touched his neck. Nothing. I slowly scooted away. What kind of nightmare am I living? I died only to wake up to this? No. It isn’t real. I’m still dead. Maybe this is hell. My punishment for killing Mom during labor. 

“Meg.” Birdie smashed my dark hopes. He held out a clipboard, his hand trembling. 

I took it. Read the words. And Danner’s signature. 

I shook my head. “This isn’t possible.”

“You…” Birdie’s voice quaked, his blue eye wide. “You died. I—I saw it. And then Danner signed. Dropped to the ground.” His body shaking, he muttered the rest. 

My heart raced. Beside Danner lay a red-feathered pen—exactly like the one I swiped from that tool at the prison. I snatched it and then noticed a rose-gold ring on my wedding finger. Oh my God.

I clasped my mouth. My head thrashed as my mind swirled. This is hell. A living hell. 

I closed my eyes. Tried to breathe. To think. What would Mom do? Dumb question. I’d never know. Birdie forbade asking about her. And he never brought her up. She could’ve been a dream this whole time. A good dream. Not like this. I took another deep breath. And opened my eyes. 

I looked at Danner. Gone. Somewhere else. But I wasn’t ready to let him go. 

I ripped the paper from the clipboard and shoved the feathered pen in my back pocket. As I stood to my feet, Birdie did, too.

“What are you doin’?”

“I’m going to find this Anticus Mordem guy. And make him bring Danner back.”

Withered writing hand, but I’ll extend it anyway

I’ve been writing-deprived for some time. I wanna get back in the groove, share, flow, pour out whatever this imagination can come up with. But I have some serious frienemies (friend/enemies), these Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3’s: my precious children. I adore them. They’re far more important than writing, but my sleep deprivation makes it quite difficult to squeeze in time to type. I have other duties as well, that shove this to the back burner. But alas, I wanna find time, I wanna make time, I wanna fight for this…

This is influence. I’m not in this for the money (as my four-year-plus KDP account will testify). But I can show my fellow young people (I’m not thirty yet so I can say that), something fresh, some new perspectives, though truly, they aren’t new, they’re ancient, they’re infinite, but in our culture’s context they’re new, unique, and refreshing, especially when embraced. Valor with integrity, valor with purity, valor with hope, and with genuine love. My goodness, how many stories there are to tell, how many characters there are to display.

So if you’re a Christian, do pray for me…And to all my readers, I want to do this for you.

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Is Sex Prevalent in YA Books?

I genuinely don’t know, since, being a Christian, I’m careful as to what I consume, and reading has been quite minimal for me. So I haven’t read many YA books, even less secular ones. Have you?

Is sex something you come across often within YA books? Are teenage characters frequently having sex in these books? I’m thinking about how much sex has been DROWNING our American culture now and how even when I was an elementary schooler and Spice Girls and their ridiculous clod-hoppers were the thing, I had memorized their song, “2 Become 1,” a song overtly about having sex.

And then there was Britney Spears who seemed to be innocent for like, a year–if that–and then became more and more of a sex icon with, “I’m a Slave 4 U,” a music video I’d watch at eleven-years-old and mimic the super sensual/sexual dance moves, even recording myself do so with my eight-year-old cousin. But now, in comparison to many current female artists, those videos appear to be PG-13 and it’s like the stuff now playable on MTV or other music channels is a few degrees away from qualifying as rated X all-out pornography.

I can’t be the only twenty-something woman who is disturbed by this vapid increase of the sexualization of women, but yet, it seems many of my fellow Millennial women are applauding these women and wanting to dress and behave like them.

Lewdness and obscenity has become cool. Even among young women–and teenage girls.

Whoa.

Double whoa.

The generation of the 50s and prior are reeling in their graves, angels would be weeping if not for the amazing, astoundingly incredible love and glory of God they see and experience every single day, but I know they sometimes tremble…Because God isn’t cool with the new cool. He still gets angered by sin and I can’t imagine being Him and seeing EVERYTHING, 24/7, not just what gets air-time. But all. Of. It.

For the women who think it’s totally fun and cool for women to dress near-naked, or flaunt themselves in lingerie on television and dance like strippers, just reveling in lewdness, do you think it’s cool that children younger and younger are molesting and raping each other? Do you think it’s cool for a seven-year-old to molest his four-year-old brother? Or for a six-year-old girl to be raped by her eleven-year-old cousin?

Now, I’m not blaming this ALL on the women who seem to be enjoying objectifying themselves for all the world, adults AND children alike, to see, but they are not guiltless. Our actions, whether we see the result of them personally or not, have consequences and we are all influencers. I would dare say that celebrities even more so and that it’s a certain depth of depravity when there is NO concern or modesty whatsoever by those who know their words and actions are being consumed by millions and entering homes.

Sigh.

What do you think?

What is it about a book’s first page that keeps you reading?

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I’m curious:

What is it about a book’s first page that keeps you flipping?

Are you able to share an example of a book whose first page just grabbed you and held on until the last page? I want to know what book did that for you and why. Then I can go Amazon-“Look inside”-stalk and see if I agree with you or not. 😉 Happy discussing!

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You can read ALL of Prodigy Prince on Wattpad – Limited time only!

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That’s right, folks.

You can read all of Prodigy Prince on Wattpad for a limited time.

Check it out. And if you’re diggin’ it, don’t forget to vote (click the little star icon). And PLEASE DO divulge on me, let me have it, share those blazing thoughts of yours as I do take to heart, mind, and keyboard, what you think. Feedback has helped loads in my writing journey, and I’m excited to share this novel with all of you. Happy reading!

Killing Your Characters

So killing off characters in your story: is it fun for you, or torture?

I’ve been on both sides of this fence, and I can say that now, it’s leaning toward more fun. For me, there’s something about the shock of it, the later oh-so-hoped for justice, the real-ness it adds to the danger and the story in general, and of course, the emotions it stirs. But what say you? I wanna know your reasons as to why you enjoy killing characters in your story, or why you hate it. Let the discussion begin!

FANTASY FRIDAY: “Eldin’s Confession” – THROUGH ELISENA’S EYES PART 2, CHAPTER 5 (SHORT STORY)

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Read the previous chapters: Part 1, Chapters 1-2; Part 1, Chapters 3-4; Part 2, Chapter 1; Part 2, Chapter 2; Part 2, Chapter 3; Part 2, Chapter 4

The blare of trumpets harmonizing with rapid strings and jittery jingles overpowered the corridor leading to the Banquet Hall. With my umbrella open and ready to deflect, my anticlimactic purple dress, and my annoying older brother at my side, I wouldn’t fail to make a miserable entrance at the celebration. With my fate lately, I won’t be shocked to walk in and accidentally collide into Prince Nuelle, poking him in the eye with my umbrella.

“Nothing like a grand festivity to try and distract prodigies from the academy’s new threat.” Javin stalked beside me in muddy Servants’ attire.

“You’re being overdramatic.”

“Oh right, because the lunatic wall-burner only threatened Prince Nuelle so the rest of us are fine. Elly, this is the kind of person who clearly fears no one.”

As we reached the Banquet hall’s large, circular entry, I raised my voice over the loud music. “If this prodigy was so brave, why not make the threat to Prince Nuelle’s face?”

We stepped inside the crowded room with an array of both fancily

and casually dressed prodigies. A short, leather-dressed girl dodged my umbrella. “Good point! But my guess is that whoever this servant is, building up fear was the goal, you know like”—she deepened her voice and added some rasp—“‘I’m like a shadow ready to sneak up on you and attack when you least expect it.”

“See,” I said, “to me, that’s even more cowardly. If this vandal would opt for a surprise attack rather than an open duel, he’s weaker than his swelling words suggest.”

“He?” The girl glided beneath the covering of my umbrella and situated herself too close. “How do you know it isn’t a she?”

I eyed her while my heart-rate spiked. As Javin slowly wrapped his arm around my waist, I began tilting my umbrella. If I can read this strange girl’s heart, what would I discover? Could this unassuming shrub actually be the creep behind the treacherous message burned into the wall of the commons? My grip moistened on my umbrella stick. I planted my feet as firmly as I could to brace myself for the onslaught of emotions about to trample me.

Short-stuff broke into a shrill cackle. “I’m just yanking your umbrella, sweetcake. Enjoy the celebration!” She wiggled her hips as she weaved her way through the crowd in front of us.

Javin released my waist. “Fortunate for her. I was preparing myself to strike a lady for the first time.”

I straightened my umbrella as my heartbeat calmed slightly. “For once, I’m thankful for your overprotectiveness.”

“Be slow to speak, sister.” He quickly grabbed my waist again as Eldin approached from ahead. My heart jumped back into high gear. Wearing a gray, woolen cloak with silver clasp, opened at the right shoulder, neatly draped over a tightly fitted black tunic, and his brown hair brushed back, exposing more of his flawless daystar-kissed face, I was unsure if my heart raced because of his masculine beauty or because of what Thrine accused him of. 

He stopped in front of us, a shy smile on his thick lips. “Good to see you.” Smile evaporating, he looked at Javin. “And you.”

“I would say likewise, but that’d be a lie.” I gaped at my own words—though only seventy-five percent true.

As Eldin’s forehead creased and mouth frowned, Javin growled, “Whoa, whoa. Did this lump of graether dung do something to you?”

“Not to me.”

Eldin lifted his palms as if trying to ward off ever-increasing violent waves. “If you mean what happened with Thrine and I—”

“I’d rather not hear the details of your”—the words burned like acid in my throat—“intimate times so spare me.”

“What?” He and Javin echoed.

“I don’t want to talk to you. I just want to see Prince Nuelle.”

The music’s swift drumming hastened toward a climactic finale. Eldin’s voice loudened. “He hasn’t arrived yet.”

Javin shook his head. “Late to a celebration being held in his honor. What a high-headed weemutt.”

I frowned as I scanned the prodigies. Some danced merrily and others conversed with tight faces and nervous glances—no doubt confused by the unannounced royal arrival and concerned over the personal threat. And now he had yet to show to his celebration?

“Do you think he’s okay?” I asked Javin.

“Yeah, he probably isn’t gonna come because of embarrassment over the disrespectful display in the commons. Show us lowers he’s too good for us.”

I rubbed my sleek umbrella stick with a moist thumb. From what I’d read about him and the Supreme King, he didn’t seem like the type to render dishonor for dishonor. But maybe he was just unpacking still, or handling some sort of business with the Overseer.

“Can we please talk?” Eldin focused his gleaming purple eyes on me.

Javin moved his hand from my waist to my shoulder. “She’s made it clear she doesn’t want to chat with you so you’d better dance off.”

“You won’t at least hear my side? Come on, Elisena. You’ve only just met Thrine, but we’ve known each other for as long as we can remember.”

I pursed my lips. Holding his hypnotic stare weakened me. And his words were true…I got so riled over everything his romantic companion said, I didn’t think to consider he should also be heard before making my final verdict. I sighed. “Javin, can you excuse us?”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, Papa-twin.”

Slowly, Javin removed his arm from my shoulder and then pointed a finger beneath Eldin’s chin. “If you try anything—”

“You’ll tear me to pieces like a hungry Massadon, I get it.”

“Good.” Javin barked, but Eldin just eyed him as he marched away and disappeared behind a group of lanky brunettes.

“Can we go out on the courtyard?” Eldin asked.

I squeezed my umbrella, slipping in my sweaty grasp. “Fine.”

He walked past and led me back out of the circular entryway. When we reached the commons, a hunched, white-haired caretaker stood in front of the cobblestone fireplace, sanding the burned markings above it with an iron flathead. The creepy message still shown deafeningly clear: Disappear like you brother, Supreme Prince. I shivered.

“After you.” Eldin held open the terrace door to the left.

I hurried outside into the silvery night. Round, basket-weaved couches littered a courtyard spattered with indigo blossoms and floating, wooden lanterns. As we meandered to a couch midway in, I boldly asked, “Where’s Thrine?”

“Last time I saw her, she was kissing a pasty boy with black hair by the buffet line.”

Something pinched my heart while we sat. She seemed like the vengeful type. I guess it’s safe to say their relationship is over. I peered at Eldin. “But how much of that was your fault?”

He leaned forward and rested his elbows on his thighs. “I guess a decent amount.”

Thrine’s words taunted: Unlike Eldin, I’m not here to hurt you, I’m here to help you…By sharing with you what I wish one of Eldin’s victims shared with me before I let him become my suitor. I flinched.

Eldin quickly straightened. “What is it?”

I twirled my umbrella, wanting desperately to close it, both so I could read his heart and utilize it for self-defense if needed.

“What did she tell you?”

I hesitated, forcing myself not to scoot away from him in case it’d set him off. “That you bedded her, and had other victims.”

He coughed out a huff. “She’s always been an elaborate storyteller. Something I foolishly chose to overlook.”

“Why? Because she’s so beautiful you couldn’t keep your hands off of her?” I clenched my jaw as Eldin laid his gaze on me. 

The evening star’s glow shined off of his glassy eyes, hurt…disappointed. “It was our one year anniversary. I’d surprised her by coming to Athdonia to visit. She looked different. She used to have hair down to her hips, but she’d cropped it short and her attire was…more revealing.” He eased forward and set his elbows on his thighs again, staring out into the orange forest in the distance. “That’s when she told me to start calling her Thrine instead of Emmer. When I asked why, she gave me some story about this incredible group of people she’d befriended. How high their thoughts were. How they held these new ideas and views she’d never considered before and how it ‘enthralled’ her. Every time I asked if I could meet one of these new companions, she’d make up an excuse.” He shook his head. “I knew she was hiding them for a reason, but I didn’t want to disrespect her by pushing so I backed off. And then…”

I followed his gaze on the wood ahead and then casually tilted my umbrella to the right. The searing itch of regret radiating from him burned my skin. I bit my lip and focused hard on a dense darkwood whose curling vines swayed softly in the wind.

Eldin fidgeted and massaged his hands. “It was my fifth night there. For her father’s birthday her parents held a grand outdoor banquet in their crescent garden. I don’t drink, but Thrine insisted I have one. I didn’t know that one dragon brew would be as strong as it was. We danced a lot and Thrine got more and more…affectionate. It was another new side of her. At first I tried to evade her touches, offering to go for some dessert, but then she pulled me away from all the music and took me to her bedchamber.”

A heavy weight dropped onto my chest like a sack of stones, making me hunch as he continued his confession.

“It felt so wrong being there, but with the dragon brew fuming in my blood, every caress from her set me on fire and it became harder and harder to fight.” He sighed. “The next morning I just couldn’t do it again. Thrine got upset. She said she thought I loved her. And I did, and that’s why I didn’t want to continue. I stayed four more days and didn’t even kiss her. And that’s probably when she started loathing me.”

Leaning my umbrella back, I looked at him. “So you’re telling me you were never intimate again?”

“Correct.”

“And there weren’t other—”

“‘Victims’?” He chuckled sadly. “No.”

The soft warmth of truth rubbed my shoulders, though hurt’s heaviness continued weighing them down. I straightened my umbrella and exhaled as the weight lifted and searing stopped. “Thrine is an elaborate storyteller.”

Eldin sat upright. “You didn’t read her heart?”

“No, regretfully, though it was probably best. I got to hear the whole truth from you.”

He smiled, but it quickly faded. “But I still took a girl’s honor, Elisena. I’ll never forgive myself for that.”

I switched my umbrella to my left hand to give the right a rest. “I think you more…received it.” I managed to smile. “I’m just impressed you were able to resist her afterwards.”

“Ah, well, a sober mind and sour guilt will do that to you.”

“And love.” My heart hung in my chest. “You said because you loved her you wanted to stop. So then, you must have planned on marrying her someday.”

His eyes narrowed as he smirked. “You reading my heart?”

My cheeks warmed. “Not at the moment.”

“So you were reading it before?”

I readjusted my eyes to the forest.

“I knew I felt something in my chest,” he said.

“I’m sorry. I just wanted to know the truth.”

“It’s okay. I would’ve probably done the same.”

From my peripherals, I could see him staring at me. Willingly yet unwillingly, I turned my head and held his consuming gaze.

“Thrine was no longer the woman I fell in love with. I waited and prayed every night for another year because I wanted to make it work, to fight for her, but it seemed the more I did, the worse she became. She wouldn’t respect my boundaries and never gave up trying to be intimate with me again. It’s why I chose to stay away for as long as I could. But I knew I’d have to face her at the academy and after getting here, I finally had enough.”

I lowered my gaze as guilt pricked my own heart. “The things you said to me during Courtship…in front of her…”

He nodded. “I’d just had an argument with her after I told her I didn’t want to be with her anymore and she brushed it aside, insisting we speak about it later. So I let my anger get the better of me, and I apologize for that.”

Now a sharp pang slashed my chest. “So then you didn’t mean it?”

His eyes widened. “Yes, I mean no, no I did.”

I blinked at him, not sure if I followed correctly. 

“I did mean what I said, even though it was the wrong time to say it.”

Hot waves rushed over my heart as it banged against my skin, making

my head light. So then Eldin does like me? I only dreamed of this kind of reality, but never imagined it’d actually come true one day. He wasn’t just beautiful on the outside, but his heart was so pure, so noble. Eldin Lightsmith would be the dream husband I’d be beyond blessed to have, but…I peered over my shoulder at the Servants’ Lodge where somewhere within, the Supreme King’s son roamed. History was made today: as far as I know, no one of royalty ever attended the academy. And this wasn’t one of the five princes of the lesser kingdoms, this was one of the greater princes. It was only his first day and already, he’d made an enemy. And here I’ve been seeking my purpose in life, wondering why King Nifal made me and gave me this bizarre gift, and then I receive his invitation to this institution. My gaze returned to Eldin, still watching me closely, studying me. My heart leaned toward him, but the academy tugged it back.

Tears filled my eyes. “Before I came to this place, you were the most I ever wanted. But now that I’m here, I think there’s something I want more.”

He spoke with a gentle strength. “Everything in me still wants to fight for you…Should I?”

“I don’t know.” 

As he continued to peer at me, my heart tore in half. The pain rained down on me like hail; cold, rapid, and hard. Unable to bear witnessing his hurt any longer and layered atop mine, I rose from the couch. “Farewell, Eldin.” I turned as fast as I could and jogged across the courtyard, carrying the pain and leaving the love of my life behind me.

Mastering Third-Person Point of View

I’ll admit it: I haven’t mastered third-person intimate POV. I’m good at it, but based on a number of reviews I’ve been getting for Prodigy Prince, my story is really good and exciting, but a lot of readers wanted more character development.

I’m seeing now the allure to first-person POV. That’s way easier for readers to connect to. And people enjoy getting into other people’s heads. We can’t mind-read in real life so getting to explore the world through someone else’s eyes sure is a fun past-time.

But with third-person POV, it’s harder to develop and create that intimate depth and connection with the characters. We have to be more intentional with interior monologue and dialogue and flavoring the prose with more of our POV character’s personality and perspective.

I think of JK Rowling. She is a master at Omniscient POV. Whereas me, I balk, I grimace at that POV. But Rowling was able to infuse that typically distant perspective with so much personality and insight into the characters that you really feel for them and get to know them as intimately as you would had she wrote it in first-person POV.

So, I surely don’t want to go back and rewrite my book in first-person POV, but I am considering looking at where I can include more reflective moments, more interior monologue, more insight through non-contrived dialogue, and more of my protagonist’s personality in the prose.

I truly believe if Rowling could make omniscient POV work that well, I can do a number with third-person POV.

How about you? Have you written a story in third-person? Were you able to make it truly intimate? Or do you stick to first-person to avoid the potential loss of character depth?

Happy discussing!

Through Elisena’s Eyes: Free YA fantasy eBook

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Hey fellow writers/readers. I have a short free eBook in journal format from a beloved character in Prodigy Prince, Elisena.

Whether you’ve already read Prodigy Prince or not, this is a prologue and won’t spoil anything. You can get Elisena’s Journal here.

Speaking of journal formats, have you read any fiction books in this format that you enjoyed? Tell me about it in a comment.

Happy reading!

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Making Your Readers HATE Your Villain For the RIGHT Reasons

Divergent’s villainness was not detestable–at least the movie’s version wasn’t. I definitely didn’t care to read the book after watching the first movie, and the villain was just one of many reasons why.

You want your audience to hate your villain, and not because he’s a boring stereotype, but because what he does is purely evil.

Don’t get me wrong, killing innocent bystanders is evil, but the villains that hit us where it hurts the most are the ones who attack our loved ones.

Villains who get real personal are the ones who make us cringe and seethe.

President Snow was such an intimate villain. His attacks against Katniss were oh so personal; (SPOILER ALERT FOR THE 2 OF YOU WHO DIDN’T READ THE BOOKS OR WATCH THE MOVIES) brainwashing her love against her; destroying her district, killing her good friend/stylist, and because of the Games, another sweet little companion died who reminded Katniss of her own baby sister. Ouch. Readers couldn’t wait to see him get his. Can the same be said of your villain?

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I know sometimes we dread making it too personal. We don’t want our beloved heroine to suffer too much, but ya gotta do it. You gotta hurt her, badly.

Your villain’s goal shouldn’t be merely to stop your protagonist from winning, but to cause your protag to give up before the war is over. The only way to accomplish this is to assault the heart, to hit home.

And isn’t that life? Jesus said in this world we would suffer tribulation. But the hope is that no matter how powerful a blow–or multiple blows– your hero doesn’t throw in the towel. He presses on until his dying breath and he inspires your audience to do the same in their own lives.

Yes, hurting him will hurt you and your readers, but when that villain gets served a hearty plate of justice, it’ll all be worth it.

Which villains did you find detestable and why? Share your thoughts in a comment, and be sure to warn of spoilers. 

Happy helping!