Short Story Sunday – “Falling Stars”

“In our universe, a star explodes and dies every single second and there’s you, worrying about work tomorrow.”

Tasha sighed and signed out of her Twitter account. It amazed her how exactly those words had summed up her life. Technology was a trip.

Curtis: Hello love.

Tasha: Not a good time.

Tasha slid the smartphone under the covers as her husband entered the room.

“Hey babe,” he said planting a kiss on her lips. She watched him walk away. Completely compact with everything she’d ever wanted in a man. As he slipped out of his shirt she took the opportunity to admire the dark chocolate, toned physique of her child’s father. Standing 6’1 the man had beauty and brains and had swept her off her feet ten years ago and everything else had been storybook. In less than a year they were married, Carson was born six months after that and their combined salary afforded them the luxury of the two-story house sitting comfortably between two large Oak Trees in Elmhurst Illinois.

Tasha hated those trees. They had somehow become the mocking occasion of her perfect life. Successful real-estate agent, wife, mother, and homeowner and yet here she was, stuck between two men; both just as large and overwhelming as those trees. She’d have to remember to have at least one of them cut down. Their existence, how they mocked her very life, was too much to take.

Anthony walked off, discarding of his clothing on the bathroom floor and wrapping a towel around his waist. “What time you getting off tonight?” he yelled.

“Nine, this case is really kicking my butt.” There it was. Another lie. It was her fourth lie this month. She knew because she counted. It was difficult at first, but whenever she thought about rolling around on the floor with her boss it became much much easier.

Curtis was nothing like Anthony and that reality was perhaps one of her greatest fears and pleasure too. More so than the betrayal, the lies, even more so than the sex was that these men couldn’t be any more different. It was that, their differences, that Tasha loved even more than getting caught. She smiled wickedly. Why did the thought excite her so? She’d built trust with Anthony and how she capitalized on that trust. Taking advantage of their years she played the men like strings. Pulling and tugging on their position in her life and manipulating the occasion.

Tasha met Curtis when she was just an intern at Curtis & Law and he was well aware that she was married. Tasha preferred it this way and often beamed with satisfaction. If ever there was an occasion to sleep around she’d found it. If ever there was a secret to deceit, she’d cracked the code. Her life with Anthony was secure and she made it clear she would never divorce him. Curtis was OK with that and vowed that their time together was nothing more than a thing.

Curtis: Tash, you there?

The text alert startled her and Tasha scrambled to mute the phone alert before it became noticeable. One downfall to cheating was extreme paranoia, everything was exaggerated and Tasha was sure the muffled sound of the phone could be heard through the sound of the shower. Peaking down at the screen she rolled her eyes. This was starting to get old real fast. He knew he had no right to call her that. Only Anthony called her “Tash.” Curtis had professed his love last night and somehow thought it gave him free reign to be the first man in her life. She thought she’d made it very clear that would never happen. Maybe I should just call off, thought Tasha. The dread of the workplace had become intense. Any occasion to which she had to see Curtis face in public sent her cascading through mental turmoil and she felt she would explode.

“In our universe, a star explodes and dies every single second..”

Tasha scrolled her Twitter timeline once more. Her  addiction to technology had her constantly checking her phone. Or was it nerves?

“…a star explodes and dies every single second..”

Is this what death feels like? she thought. Am I dying?

Anthony was her everything and her heart broke at the thought of what this would do to him if he ever found out and yet, the thought was quickly erased by another lie.

Please, I’m tripping. Men do this all the time. Tasha told herself to soothe the bruise of adultery seeping from her pores.

Anthony walked out of the bathroom. A towel wrapped around his waist and another one he used to dry his hair. Goodness, that’s a beautiful man. Tasha thought.

Curtis: Meet me at the spot, One hour.

Startled, Tasha scrambled to answer her text.

“Tell Curtis you’ll be late this morning,” smiled Anthony, seductively approaching his wife.

Tasha smiled a wicked smile. Poor Ant, he would never know. It amazed her how color had such an impact on the way people saw the world. Anthony would never suspect a culprit in the proper, brown haired, blue-eyed white boy that is his wife’s boss.

Tasha: I need a few hours. (wink)

Curtis: OK love.

***

“Tell Curtis you’ll be late this morning,” Anthony smiled but his blood raced. She had been with him again. He could tell by the racing of her eyes. How they searched him, bouncing back and forth between him and the cell phone she kept tucked underneath the covers. He smiled, hoping it would calm her nerves some. She was a mess and he wondered how long she would keep this up. How much longer could she take hurting herself to hurt him? How much longer would she take him into her arms, poisoning their love with the kiss of her lips? How much longer would he let her?

Anthony smiled again and let the dry towel fall to his ankles, his throbbing manhood at full salute. He would be with her again for the last time, or so he told himself. He approached her, watching as she sneaks text on her phone before pushing it back into the sheets. Anthony watched her racing eyes and let his body cover hers, hoping to calm her. At least for tonight. He swallowed hard and kissed his wife on the lips, tasting for the last time the flavor of deceit.

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10 Ways to Write an Unforgettable Memoir | Shayla Raquel

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Check out this most excellent post from Shayla on writing a memoir. Number One is a most important point. I always wanted to write a memoir but I stopped writing the drafts and deleted the sneak peeks I’d shared with my email list (so embarrassing lol) and decided to start over. I’ve learned so much since then with one of the major things being the difference between a memoir and autobiography.

1. Learn the differences between a memoir and an autobiography.
A common mistake is to pour your heart and soul into a book and market it as the wrong genre. An autobiography is a chronological telling of your life, but a memoir hones in on a specific timeline or event. It doesn’t mean you can’t have flashbacks or backstory; you can. But you must understand the big and subtle differences between the two before you write, publish, and market your story.

Ask yourself:

  • Does my story reflect on my entire life (autobiography), or a key aspect, theme, or event (memoir)?
  • Does my story start at the beginning of my life and progress to the end (autobiography), or does it start anywhere and move around in time and place (memoir)?
  • Does my story require hours of fact-checking (autobiography), or is it more personal, requiring less fact-checking (memoir)?

“A memoir is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked.”

—Gore Vidal, Palimpsest

Read more of Shayla’s Guest Post by clicking through to the original post here.

Inciting Moment: What It Is and Why You Should Care

What is an inciting moment? Andrea breaks it down.

A Writer's Path

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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Writers Wednesday – Chapter 2: The Men with Blue Eyes

Chapter 2 – Missing

Did you miss Chapter One? Start Here!


“Ronnie, no!”

Tina shot up, swung her legs off the bed and snatched her robe from the hook on the door. Pulling it tighter around her body she was in Janiyah’s room in an instant and rocking the seventeen-year-old in her arms. There was no explanation needed and no sound escaped either of the women’s mouths except the whispered shooing coming from Tina. She rocked and rubbed the young woman’s head with her eyes closed. This had become her routine. Running into Janiyah’s room in the early mornings, holding her through the nightmares she didn’t think would have lasted this long. She also worried she could not sympathize with her sister’s daughter as intimately as she wanted. After all, she wasn’t there but Niyah was. To lose your baby brother in such a violent way was one thing. To witness his murder was another thing. And then, there was the other thing.

Tina’s cell vibrated in the other room, the loud hum calling out to her. Peering down at her exhausted teenager, she removed her arms and let the girl’s drowsy body fall back into the sheets and covering her, Tina tippy toed out the room.

“Hmm.” She looked down at the tiny screen and plopped down on the bed. That was odd. What was the office doing calling her so early? She looked toward the window. The sky was still dark, the sun not yet peeking through. She still couldn’t believe the city settled and despite four people living here, the house was still too big, though no amount of money could bring her nephew back. She threw herself back into the bed and called the number back.

“You better have a good reason for calling me so early in the morning,” she laughed, pausing as the person on the other end spoke.

“What?” Tina’s smile faded and she shot back up in the bed.

“Everyone? How is that even possible?”

Balancing the cell between her ear and shoulder, she slipped on a pair of jogging pants. Trying to do the same with a blouse was not going to work.

“Hold on a minute…” Placing the phone on the bed she slipped on her shirt and decided it was best to put the phone on speaker.

“The phones are blowing up over here. Officer Parks said she started getting them as early as last night,” said the caller.

“Calls? What calls? I thought I told you to hold…”, she said before almost slipping on a sock. She picked it up and put it on. Now if she could just find the other one. Tina wasn’t the organized type at home. What she could do in the courtroom somehow did not manifest in her private life. It was one of the worries she had about being a mom. Lawyers didn’t exactly have a lot of time on their hands. She found herself hiring a Nanny against her better judgment to help maintain that balance. She had little time for laundry and housework and now that Janiyah had her license she could pick up her brother and sister from school. She did make it a point to be back in time to make dinner and spend time with the kids. It made her feel motherly like she was upholding her end of the bargain. Ms. Alice was not allowed to cook for her family except on occasion and during emergencies. This was one of them.

“All I know is you better get your butt down here asap.”

“I’m on my way,” said Tina looking under the bed, “Where in the world is that other sock?”

“Yea, I know what that means. I’ll give you an hour,” said the caller.

“Freddy, chill. I said I’m on my way.”

“Your on-the-way has a different meaning from everyone elses. Yours means two hours from now”, chuckled Freddy.

Tina rolled her eyes and hung up on her partner.

“Kayla! Michael!” she yelled, grabbing the toiletries bag on her way out the door. She’d only have time to jump in and out the shower.

She bypassed Janiyah’s room and climbed the stairs where a giant blue M hung against a door. She banged.

“Michael!”

She turned around and ran down the short hall where a giant pink K hung, she banged, “Kayla!”

Running back downstairs Tina revisited the slightly open door from earlier and peered in, “Niyah, ya’ll come on. I need ya’ll to get up.”

The young woman stirred and slowly sat up, a black night scarf covering her head. Her elegantly arched eyebrows shot up, “What time is it?”

Tina smirked. She didn’t know how she did it, but Janiyah managed to be cute at every occasion, even after waking up. The nose ring she begged Tina for didn’t look bad against her golden-brown skin. Janiyah scratched at her nose as if reading Tina’s thoughts and as she could have guessed, her nails were freshly done.

“I need you to call Ms. Alice, tell her I need her to come in early. Like, right now.”

“OK.” Janiyah patted her head and then laughed, “Where’s your other sock?”

Tina cut her eyes and smirked as she turned away from the room to head back across the hall.

“Mike, KK. Up. Now!”

As she prepared the shower her mind flooded with Freddy’s urgent message.

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Everyone involved in the Ja’mella case were missing. The men accused of the rape, their girlfriends, the police officers, the journalist who wrote about it, even the detectives who investigated the case. Gone. “How was that possible?” Tina pondered as the shower poured its steaming hot blessings over her body. It didn’t make sense. The black men accused of raping Ja’mella Jones, a famous hair stylist on Chicago’s West Side, had been found innocent after the woman admitted she made it all up. Ja’mella even opened her store back up last year. From every angle, it just didn’t add up. At least physically it didn’t.

Tina stopped moving, letting the water drench her skin. How could she have forgotten the most important piece of the puzzle? Her nephew Ronnie.

She tried to tell him about these streets and his loyalty to Big Sam ultimately cost him his life. THEY had killed him. Is that why the city had settled? Who would want to admit that Ronnie’s death was not by the hands of men but…

Tina shook her head. It’s these kinds of thoughts that got her in trouble in the first place. Still, she couldn’t shake the truth and her skin shivered from something more than the cooling water. Her skin had also started to wrinkle. Her “quick” shower had lasted longer than she wanted it too.

Tina pulled the dry towel from off the top of the shower rod. She knew. Had known all this time that Big Sam wasn’t human and that Ronnie’s death was no accident. And something told her the Ja’mella case was connected and that she was not the only person who knew. Someone was trying to keep it hush hush. Or something.

To Be Real

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Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

“The Velveteen Rabbit,” also called “How Toys Become Real,” is a children’s novel written by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson. First published in 1922, the story was Williams’ first and most popular children’s book. If you’ve never read it before, the story is about the journey of a toy velveteen rabbit learning about love and what it means to become real.”

*******

People talk a lot about realness today, but few people understand what it means to really be real. The phrase “Keep It Real” is prominent, yet many people are not willing to hurt for it.

“He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these.”

Why is wisdom measured by old age? I suppose its because by the time your hair is gray and your knees buckle and you can’t walk as far, by then you’ve gone through enough heartache to know real. You see, you’ll never be real without going through the furnace of affliction. Yes, diamonds are beautiful, but they had to go through much pressure to get that way. The truth is that we learn early on to hate ourselves because we learn to fight against disappointment, to buck against pain, and to despise trial. We learn not to rejoice in the bad but to complain about it, never once considering that such pain is reaping strength in our favor. As a result, we end up being fake most of the time because we’re not strong enough to be weak.

“Of what use was it to be loved and lose one’s beauty and become Real if it all ended like this? And a tear, a real tear, trickled down his little shabby velvet nose and fell to the ground.”

This. This most painful, most humbling of a moment. Now, you’re real.

The Velveteen Rabbit

Self-Publishing – Ep 1 Laying Bricks

My husband and I would like to build our own home one day. Building your own home can be one of the most exciting projects you can undertake. It can also be one of the most frustrating projects. Though rewarding, actually getting to the point of building can take many years to accomplish. However, breaking the process down into smaller pieces can make things go a lot smoother. Saving money, building credit, learning the proper ways to find a location, designing the home, acquiring the correct permits, tools, equipment, and breaking ground. By the time you actually start to build the house many years have passed. Self-Publishing is in many ways just the same. Before you build a house, you have to lay the bricks. Masonry, like Self-Publishing, isn’t a simple task but with the right tools, it can run smoothly.

When I step back and look at the publishing industry as a whole and all of the information that is out there, I want to scream. OK, maybe not scream. I’m not a screaming person, but I do want to pull out a few locs.

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It actually makes me happy to know that I knew none of this when I first started writing. Why? I probably would not have chosen to publish a book, let alone self-publish it. The truth is in most of our lives we are blinded from the full picture of the vision in order to a). ensure we will step outside of our comfort zones and b). grow into the person who can achieve said goal. Let’s face it, 15-50% of people are introverted. According to Best Selling Author of Quite: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, former corporate lawyer and self-professed introvert Susan Cain defines introverts as people who “like more quiet, less stimulating environments”.

In other words, Introverts are people who are shy and prefer not to be around lots of people (Although many argue shyness is not really introversion, let’s just keep it simple shall we? Let’s just say that shyness is a kind of introversion, whereas the individual responds differently to outside stimulation, particularly socially). In short, it’s easy for most of us to get overwhelmed with all of the constantly changing information out there. Sometimes it’s stressful just thinking about it. But then there is something we’re all forgetting: It is all a process.

If you don’t realize the small progressions in your life, how can you ever see the larger ones? If you don’t celebrate each small moment, how can you get to the greater ones?

If you try to look at this as an entire piece, you’ll never get anywhere, for no one ever moved a mountain all at once. Trying to follow everyone’s advice and stay up to date on every piece of information is not only bad strategy, but it will also wear you out. Instead, focus on one brick and how to lay it properly. Then focus on another one and another and another…you get the point. Sure, hubby and I would love to build a house but first we have to purchase land. Before we purchase land, we have to get approved for loans. At this stage, I am not designing a house and picking out decorations. Right now we’re focused on building credit and saving money.

Guide The Bricks – Write The Story

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Technically, your first brick is the Author Platform (a piece of land in which you’ve already established in which to build on), but I have decided not to talk about that today. There are already a gazillion posts, articles, and experts far more knowledgeable than I already talking their heads off about Author Platforms. However, if you can’t engage an audience your platform will falter. Your personality, area of expertise (which is what your books are built on), and ability to engage people is a big part of the platform building process. We have to give readers what they want and what they want is good stories. All of this starts with your skill set as a writer. Many authors have to get a few books under their belt before their platform really starts to blossom. This means your first brick is not the platform. Your first brick is really the story.

When writing the book, focus on doing it right. Block yourself out from all of the noise going on around you. Tempting, yes, but at the end of the day book publishing is about the story. If you can’t write a story that people will want to read, then you my friend do not have a career. Research is great at this stage of the process but try to limit it to research that’s going to help your story. Read books A LOT and look into information that deals with the construction of a story. Look into how to show and not tell, build a story arc, perfect character development, setting, etc. (Yes, I use etc. when I’ve ran out of things to say. Why else?) A mason’s line acts as a guide for setting bricks in perfectly straight rows. This is your story. A writer’s ability to capture an audience is what builds an audience! It sets things in motion and acts as a guide to the other important steps further along in the process.

***

So far in the poll, many of you stated you’d like to receive more Self-Pub tips from The PBS Blog which was humbling for little ole me. As someone who is still learning, I am honored that you’d want to hear more of my ramble. Anywho, this was followed by Black History, and Life Tips / Inspirational. I am excited because these are some great categories!

I am in the process of introducing some new things here that I hope you’d love. First, a series called Laying Bricks. In it, we’ll discuss how to take the Self-Publishing world on, one brick at a time by focusing on perfecting the basics.

Next– The Mortar

Next, we’ll talk about the mortar aspect of your Self-Pub brick laying process. After you’ve written the book, now what? Stay Tuned.

Be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter for more tips, updates on my upcoming projects, free excerpt chapters and articles not yet published to this blog, book promotions, and more.

Disclaimer. Everything I share on Self-Publishing is always based on my own experience and research because I believe you can’t advise people on stuff you haven’t really tried. It’s just best if you’ve walked those shoes. So, that said I do not profess to be an expert. There are too many of them out there for you to glean from. Now, should you find information on this blog useful? Whoo hoo! Go for it.

In Case You Missed It: Popular PBS Self-Pub Tips:


Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of The Stella Trilogy. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman writer who dreams of taking part in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parents struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release spring, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.