…Is returning soon.
We are on Chapter 5 and things are heating up. Be sure to read the first four installments to catch up before the story continues. Will Tina find Byron before its too late?
Tina balanced her Caramel Macchiato flavored coffee, car keys, and purse as she entered the office. Lawyers sat at desks answering phones and shuffling papers. They formed their own groups as they spoke in multiple conversations. The office was chaotic already and Tina’s team were already huddled around her partner’s desk. Frederick, “Freddy” Johnson saw her come in and nodded.
“Hey,” he said as she sat her things down at her own desk next to his. Tina swiveled in her large office chair and turned the computer on.
“What we got?” she said sipping her cup, her eyes catching a figure in the distance.
Oh no. Tina’s hairs stood up on her neck and arms. That was him again. The same man from the club. She was sure of it.
Freddy waved his hand in her face.
“Earth to Tina. Everything alright?”
“Yea, I’m good.”
“You sure? I can get someone else on the case. If it’s too early…”
“No”, interrupted Tina. “I’ll be fine. What do we have?”
Freddy turned to the pile on his desk. “We got seven people, all reported missing within the last 24hours.”
“And they’re all connected to the Ja’mella case?”
Freddy handed Tina a vanilla envelope, “Yep.”
Tina crossed her legs. Sidney’s face stared back at her, the Journalist from the case. She pulled out another file and Chareese face smiled back at her, Brandon’s girlfriend, one of the men accused of the rape. Nicknamed Tree for his large size, she remembered his public arrest at the Soccer Field. They got off. Was someone out for revenge? She paused, remembering that Chareese was pregnant. She pulled out another file.
“Who is this man? I don’t remember him being involved.”
Freddy walked over to Tina’s side and peered down at the documents. The face of an elderly man stared back at him. His eyes scanned down to his name. Freddy pointed, “Emmanuel Jackson. Sidney Jackson’s father.”
“So, they’re taking relatives too now? This doesn’t make any sense. What’s he got to do with it?”
“Apparently, enough”, said Freddy walking back to his own desk.
Tina took another sip of her coffee and shivered. She was the attorney in that case and had successfully got the two black men acquitted. Could she be next?
“Did anyone see anything?”
“We can check the testimonies of the families, see where everyone was last seen.”
Tina’s body stiffened at the figure in the distance.
“Tina?” Freddy looked behind him. “What’s up?”
Tina snapped out of it. She had to remember no one else could see them.
“Nothing”, she said sitting the folders on the table, “the testimonies sound good. I want a full report on every single person, where they spent their last hours, where they work, everything.”
“You got it” said Freddy picking up the phone. Tina used the opportunity to walk away, loosening the collar around her neck.
“Is the air on?”
Freddy was already on the phone and ignored her question. It was burning up or maybe it was just her. She entered the women’s bathroom, closed and then locked the door behind her.
I’m losing it.
She splashed cold water on her face and pulled the bottle of pills from her purse.
“I wouldn’t say so”, said a voice as she popped open the bottle. The white tablets fell into the sink.
“Shoot”, she said, scrambling to catch them before they all went into the drain. Now she had to convince Erica to give her another prescription. She only caught two.
Her blood raced, hands grew sweaty and the hairs stood up on her neck and arms, her knees wobbling. She couldn’t turn around or look up so she kept her eyes on the drain.
“What do you want from me?”
“I am not one of them. Well, I am but I am here to help.”
They sounded just like men. Not robotic like people thought or in the movies. It still didn’t change anything.
“You don’t help people, you murder them. What do you want from me? Have you not destroyed my life enough?”
“Listen, I know where they are. The people who are missing. I know where they took them. Most of all, I know why. Give me a chance and we can work this together.”
Tina lifted her head to face the man in the mirror standing behind her. He looked human except for his blue crystal eyes reminding her that he was not her friend. He was one of them. And they killed humans. She thought of her nephew Ronnie and tears filled her throat, courage reaching her eyes.
“First off, we are not friends so stop acting like you can just pop in and out of my life. Secondly, I will never work with you.”
“You are acting like I killed Ronnie.”
“It’s your kind ain’t it? Same difference.”
“Listen, the government is trying to cover up the truth. Give me a chance and I’ll explain. We can be partners.”
“What? Why would I work with you? I don’t even know your name.”
“My name is Azbuga, meaning Strength, but you can call me Az.”
Tina shook her head, “Whatever.”
“Everyone has a job. Just like here. Ours is to watch over mankind. So, that’s what we are. Watchers.”
Tina turned around to face him. She thought Az was attractive for an alien, though she didn’t know what he really looked like. The 7ft being was clothed in Hispanic skin with black hair and thick, black eyelashes. He wore blue jeans and sneakers which made him look normal. His blue jean jacket covered the white t-shirt. Except for his crystal blue eyes, he could be mistaken for a normal, Hispanic looking man. A very tall man. Tina wondered what his true image was. Maybe he’s a fire breathing dragon.
“Why should I believe you?”
Az dug into his right hand and his skin gave way to his fingers like clay to the hands of a child.
“Eww”, said Tina, watching until he pulled out a coin.
“You can see for yourself”, said Az, extending the coin.
“I’m not touching that.”
“It’s the only way to get in touch with me. Whenever you need me, hold it in your hands and think of my name.”
“I still don’t know how this proves anything”, Tina folded her arms.
Az pointed to the symbol on the coin, “Just like we have jobs, we also have symbols. We’re the watchers so the eye is ours. CBS, the back of the dollar bill, camera’s everywhere. All us.”
“So where were you? Huh? Where were ‘The Watchers’ when…” Tina’s voice trailed off as tears filled her throat.
“Not all Watchers are good. Some fell. We were supposed to watch you not…not harm you. Some of my brothers came down and did things with humans that were not right for them to do and now they’re just trying to cover their tracks. But not all of us are bad, Tina.”
“You didn’t answer my question. Where were you when Ron…”
The coin fell to the floor and Tina froze. She had not checked the bathroom stalls coming in. She picked up the coin and put it into her pocket.
“Amy. Hi. Yes, everything’s fine,” Tina stumbled over her words, her arch enemy staring her in the face. Amy walked over to the sink and turned the water on. Her dark chocolate skin and dred loc’d hair pulled up in a pin. The woman washed her hands, cutting her eyes at Tina.
“Alright”, she said smirking.
Dammit T. Now you know she talk too much. Of all the people to screw up in front of, it had to be Amy. This would be all over the office by tomorrow. Tina looked around the bathroom. There was no sign of him.
“Why is the door locked?” asked Amy unlatching the door.
Shoot. I’m definitely not thinking straight.
Tina shrugged and swallowed the pills in her hand dry as Amy rolled her eyes on the way out the bathroom. Tina washed her hands and straightened her clothing on the way out the door. She stopped when she heard murmurs.
“I’m serious. The girl was in there talking to herself. I told you she wasn’t ready to come back”, said Amy.
“She’s grieving. Give it some time”, said Freddy.
“Well, she can grieve on her own time.”
Tina rolled her eyes and shook her head. It hadn’t even been two minutes and Amy was already talking.
I bet that coffee cold as hell now too. Damn. Today is not my day.
“We’ve got rules and standards for everything we include in our novels—how to start those novels, how to increase tension, how to introduce characters, how to format, what to include in dialogue, how to punctuate dialogue, what to exclude from the first chapter. And we have rules for numbers. Or maybe we should call all these rules conventions.
This article covers a few common specifics of using numbers and numerals in fiction. I’m just going to list the rules here, without much explanation, laying out those that you’ll typically make use of in a novel. Keep in mind that there are always exceptions. For the most part, you’ll want to stick to the standards to make the read smooth and easy for the reader and create consistency within the manuscript.
Yet we’re talking fiction here, not a treatise or dissertation or scientific finding. You have choices. And style choices sometimes get to stomp all over the rules. If you want to flout the rules, do so for a reason and do so consistently every time that same reason is applicable in the manuscript. For a comprehensive list of the rules concerning numbers, check out the Chicago Manual of Style or another style guide.”
I just have one more book that I am finishing and one more to start from the old list so I am gonna go ahead and open the registry again. I am looking forward to some good summer reads.
I do have a few added rules this time around. When I first implemented this registry last year, I had no idea it would take so long to get through the list. This time around I am only taking on a few reads and I’ll be a little bit picky. Not only am I making room for the book clubs I am apart of but I also totally overwhelmed myself the last time. I took on too many books in a quest to be helpful. That won’t happen this time. I have to put myself at the top of the list.
This helps you as well. A shorter reading list for me means the registry will close early but also open early.
Here’s how it works:
(1) Register your book on THIS form. Its very important that you do so. Do not email me asking me to review your book. Do not send me your book and do not send me all the books in your series at one time. Register every book you’d like me to consider through THIS form. This is important because:
a. It secures you a spot in line if I decide to read and review your book
b. It keeps this process organized for both of us. (Wait, is that kinda the same as what I already said?)
(2) Books registered through THIS form does not guarantee you a review. Again, registering your book does not automatically mean I agree to read your book. If the book looks interesting I will email you for the first Chapter of your book for consideration.
(3) After registering please wait for my email. Stalking my email won’t make this go any faster.
(4) If it looks like a book I want to read I will request your first Chapter. If you already posted your first Chapter on your blog somewhere a link to that post is good too.
(5) If your first chapter is totally enticing and I must know what happens next, I will agree to review your book. You must gift me a copy in exchange for an honest review. (No Word Documents please)
(6) Please be patient as I read the book. Constantly emailing me won’t make me read any faster.
(7) Reviews of 3-5 will be published on this blog, Amazon, and Goodreads.
Please read the form for more information on my Book Reviews. This time around I am looking forward to seeing more African American / Black Lit books submitted!
What is an inciting moment? Andrea breaks it down.
by Andrea Lundgren
Recently, I was explaining the concept of an inciting moment to my five-year-old (he’s a bit young, but one might as well start early, right?), and it got me thinking about how critical the concept is.
Some writers may call it an inciting incident, and others have probably never heard of it, including the idea without any formal title or understanding of how it works, but the inciting moment is what happens to make the world of the story change. One of the many rocks dropped in the story-pond that set off a series of ripples. It’s the spark that jolts the story to life.
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Is a question I get a lot so I thought I’d answer it in the form of a blog post so that more than a few individuals can benefit.
I also thought it would be interesting to see if I can write this with a two-year-old around.
With a few exceptions, you can expect a blog post from me almost every day. Is it an obligation? Nope. No one is making me blog and I don’t feel obligated to do so. I actually just enjoy blogging and although we have a long way to go, I like what this blog has become so far. I like the groove I’ve settled into here and the community I’ve built thus far. But, I am also an author and I do have a life outside this medium. I have a career, a husband, and other things to dedicate my attention to.
Me: “I’m almost finished baby.”
Me: “I’m almost finished.”
So, when do I find the time to blog? How do I maintain a consistently updated blog, publish books and not neglect my family?
I don’t know if it’s because I am getting older or if I’ve learned to love myself more (combination of both?) but I don’t overwork myself anymore. I’m still disciplined but I no longer feel obligated to overdo it like I used to years ago. It’s not necessary. A few hours a day is really all it takes (I am working on removing actually and really from my vocabulary…though I actually like using these crutch words. Work with me here people). Instead, I am always thinking about the 80 / 20 rule and strive to incorporate it into my everyday life.
“The principle was suggested by management thinker Joseph M. Juran. It was named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of income in Italy was received by 20% of the Italian population. The assumption is that most of the results in any situation are determined by a small number of causes.”
This means that with just 20% effort, one can achieve 80% results or 80% of outcomes can be attributed to 20% of the causes. (…and my phone rings. Ignore that and keep writing. Ignoring stuff, that’s another point but we’ll get to that another time).
One way I balance blogging and writing are to dedicate at least 20% of my time toward blogging or 20% toward writing and then get on with my life.
Example: 8:00a – 10:00a = 25% of time Blogging
I found this really neat chart HERE. It calculates how much time you spend toward an 8-hour work day. Based on this chart, two hours of work in an 8-hour workday is already 25% of my day. Pretty neat.
My time can now be spent writing, washing dishes, or doing laundry. (1-2hrs is about the time it takes me to polish a decent sized blog post, that’s only about 25-30% of my day.)
“I wanna take a bath.”
One of the most valuable time savers of mine is scheduling blog posts to go out. I write my blog posts early and if I can’t finish it in a couple hours I leave it alone and go do something else. In the evenings I come back, use Grammarly to edit them (because I’m not rich enough to hire someone to edit my every blog post) and then schedule the post to publish midnight my time (12:00 or later Central Standard Time). This means I may be asleep when it publishes which does two things:
(1) Helps those outside the U.S. to catch the post early their time.
(2) Keeps my blog active throughout the day as people are tuning in under different time zones.
The only thing I am doing when I wake up and throughout the day is responding to the commentary, reading and re-blogging articles I like, liking and commenting on other people’s blogs and sharing them online. I may also publish other random thought posts but those don’t take as much time as say a post like this one.
Another way that I balance my blogging and writing time is by introducing special segments. A Special Blog Segment is somethi…
A blog segment is something I made up to mean blog posts that have a specific theme and is published weekly. I have several:
Monday – Author Interviews
Wednesday – No Whining Wednesday / Writer’s Wednesday
Thursday – Throwback Thursday Jams
Friday – Black History Fun Fact Friday / Movie Night Friday
Though I missed you all last week, I use these themes to keep this blog consistent with valuable content.
I’m a little obsessed with this because of how much value I get from it. I have to remind myself not to overdo it. Re-spinning blog posts is an amazing way to update the blog in as little time possible. Every now and again I re-publish (re-spin) old blog articles or poems that have proven valuable over the years. This gives new followers an opportunity to read the content, share it and offer their feedback too. But most time worthy, it gives me the chance to update my blog by not having to write anything new. This only takes a few minutes of my time.
For those who have already seen the post, they may not get new email notifications (it will show in the reader again but I will double check if you will get it again in your emails) for those who are new to my blog, they will definitely get a notification of the post as if it was brand new. It will be like I just wrote it and attract new views. (I’d recommend waiting at least a year before re-spinning posts so you have enough content so readers are not like “wait, didn’t she / he just post that tho?”)
By focusing a small amount of effort toward one task at a time, scheduling blog posts, re-blogging, creating special themed posts, downloading apps that make things easier and re-spinning old posts, you can cut down on your blog time too and use it to write your next book.
Note: How to Blog with a two-year-old: Lock the office door, put non-working electronics in front of him so he thinks he’s typing too, and keep looking back every 3 seconds. Draft your post, save it, give him a bath and put him to bed. Come back later, edit the post, schedule it to go out.
Join me over the next few days for my Book Reading and Interview at Sally’s virtual cafe. Got a question for me? Stop through. Special thanks to Sally Cronin for having me.
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