Category: Writing Snippets

30,000 Words + a Snippet! | For Such a Time as This

Hola mis amigos! I hit 30,000 words 😮 on my dystopian Esther retelling on Thursday! I’m nearing halfway through, and I’m so excited.

I decided to celebrate by posting a snippet, which I haven’t done in a long time! I hope you guys enjoy! 🙂

Also, let me know in the comments if there are any milestones (big or small) that you’ve reached recently!

For context: “Followers” are Christians.


Once Esther was in the hallway of the saferooms, she let out a long breath. What a day. She followed Candyse down the stone hallway, lined from one end to the other with guards in their dark gray uniforms, to a metal-doored, locked room. This time, Esther had to scan her own palm and Candyse’s on the wall’s scanner to allow them to enter.

“This will be yours and King Xander’s bedroom until the lockdown is over,” Candyse said. “The servants brought down some of your things from your suite.” Esther scanned the room, which reminded her more of the servant’s quarters than a bedroom for royalty. Still nicer than Myrick’s apartment in the Outercity, though.

Her first night as a married woman. Spent with a king who hated Followers, in a saferoom beneath the White House after King Xander was nearly assassinated. Not spent with Abel, the man she loved with all of her heart, in their own little house far, far away from D.C. and the king.

Curse them. Curse everything.

Shaking, she said, “I’m going to be sick, Candyse.”

With concerned eyes, Candyse led her to the bathroom, where she lost her dinner. She sank down to the cold bathroom floor, trembling. Candyse sat down with her, not saying anything.

Once her stomach had settled, Esther attempted a weak smile. “Some magnificent queen I am, right? Throwing up in the toilet, lying on the floor in the bathroom.”

Candyse chuckled. She lowered her voice, her motherly, kind eyes shining. “Magnificent or not, if we had a king half as capable as you, this country wouldn’t be the mess that it is.”

Esther leaned her head against the wall, her heart feeling heavy.

“The king loves you, you know. You could really make an impact by making it known to him what you think should be done.” Candyse shifted so she was sitting cross-legged. “In all the years I’ve worked here, I’ve never seen the king ask his queen for her opinion.”

Esther stared at the tile floor, picking at the fabric in the red dress she still wore from the wedding reception.

“Esther,” Esther looked up at Candyse. “Are you afraid of something?”

Esther turned away. Yes. She was terrified. Terrified of her family’s secret being discovered. Terrified of her and the family and friends she had left suffering the same horrible death that her parents had in the church attack all those years ago. She could not let that happen again.

“Yes,” she whispered, so low she could barely hear it herself.

“Hm,” Candyse said, a short, I-thought-so sound, and Esther knew she wanted her to say more.

“Are there security cameras here?” she whispered.

“No, not in the bedrooms.”

Esther took a deep breath. “My family and I–we’re Followers.” Her eyes welled up with tears. “We’re not even allowed in this country. We were kicked out after the Second Civil War. We should be in prison. And things are just getting worse and worse. We may even be executed one day, if we’re found out. Me being here in D.C. endangers my family, much less being the queen of the entire United States.” She inhaled, slowing down. “My parents were killed in an attack on their church when I was young. I don’t want that to happen to my cousin and my sister. And Abel.” She let her head droop. “So yes, I’m afraid.”

Candyse sat in silence for a moment. “I’m sorry, Esther.”

“Are you a Follower?” Esther asked.

Candyse hesitated, then shook her head. “No. I have some Follower friends, though, and I respect their beliefs. And I certainly don’t support the way our country treats them.”

Esther nodded. “I just don’t want to be here. Abel and I are supposed to be finishing our schooling so we can get jobs and move away to somewhere that’s tolerant of Followers and start a family together.” She bit her lip. “We’ve dreamed of it for years. And we were so close. I just can’t help but imagine that one day–one day I’ll get out of here, and we’ll still have a chance at fulfilling that dream.”

“Maybe there’s a reason you’re still here. Here in the palace.”

Esther felt a familiar anger burn inside of her. “You sound like my cousin.”

“As I said, Esther, the king likes you. You could make a difference.”

“Maybe,” she answered.

Candyse smiled, then stood, throwing her long braid over her shoulder. “I’ll prepare your bath. Are you okay? I can call a medic. Do you want anything to eat or drink?”

Esther finally stood. “I’m okay. I am hungry though. Candyse,” her voice wavered slightly. “Thank you for being a friend to me. I appreciate you more than you know. You’ve been like–” she swallowed, “A mother to me.”

“It’s been an honor.”


NEW W.I.P. – “For Such a Time as This” – A Dystopian Esther Retelling

Mock cover!

*screams with excitement*

I am so excited to finally introduce “For Such a Time as This,” my Esther retelling! 

I started brainstorming for this novel back in May of 2018, so I’ve already been working on it for over a year. I wanted to be 100% sure this was a project worth pursuing before I talked about it, and now I can proudly say that I am super duper happy with what I have so far! 

“For Such a Time as This,” named after the Esther 4:14 verse, is a dystopian retelling of the Esther story. It is set in the futuristic United States, where the country has turned back into a monarchy after the third World War.

To introduce my new book, I’m sharing a mock cover I created (above), some character descriptions, and a snippet from my first chapter at the end! Hope you enjoy!


Characters

Esther Noel Colburn (Esther)

Esther is (obviously) the main character of my story. Esther is a determined and smart 18-year-old. She hates dresses and heels. She can be stubborn sometimes, but not always in a bad way.

Esther is known as the most beautiful girl in her city, even though she does everything she can to avoid this reputation. She is weeks away from going to the college of her dreams with a full ride. She plans to marry her boyfriend Abel when she graduates. She’s on her way towards the life she’s always dreamed of having- when the King’s search for a new queen snatches her away.

Esther lives with her cousin Myrick and her sister Eden. Esther and her family are Christians, which is illegal.

Abel

Esther’s boyfriend. He plans to marry Esther once they both graduate from college. Abel is protective and tense, yet sweet and kind to those he trusts.

King Xander (King Xerxes)

King of the United States of America. In his forties but looks younger. Can be a bit naive and gullible. Carefree, pleasure-seeker.

Queen Vera (Queen Vashti)

Previous queen of the United States before she’s sent away for disobeying the king’s orders.

Hadrian (Haman)

One of King Xander’s personal assistants. Power-hungry, secretive, and greedy. Wants nothing more than to rise to the highest position of power possible.

Myrick Colburn (Mordecai)

Esther’s cousin. In his upper thirties. Myrick is like both a father and a brother to Esther and Eden. He hosts a secret church service at his apartment, which he shares with Esther and Eden. Quiet and thoughtful.

Eden Colburn

Esther’s younger sister. Esther would do anything to keep Eden safe.


Snippet – from Chapter 1

Abel nudged Esther with his shoulder. She looked up at him. His eyebrows were knit together with concern. “Don’t look, but I think there’s a royal officer following us,” he whispered, leaning closer so Sara could hear as well. Esther’s eyebrows shot up, but she refrained from looking behind her. Her heart started to pound. Had her family’s secret church finally been discovered, and now they were after them? 

“What should we do?” Sara whispered back, eyes again wide. 

Abel bit his lip. “I’ll take a different route to school but I don’t think it will help anything.” Abel turned to the left down a street they didn’t normally take, Sara and Esther following. Esther noticed that Abel’s hand now gripped hers a little tighter.

They continued down the street at a faster pace. Esther was thankful Abel seemed to know where he was going because she was getting lost. 

After a few minutes, they turned and made it back to the route they normally took. The school was just down the road. 

When they made it to the school, Esther let out a breath of relief but her nerves didn’t settle. Following the sidewalk around the parking lot, they made their way to the front entrance. They entered through the large double doors, then put their bags on the baggage scanner and stepped through the metal detector. When the small glass door in front of Esther slid open, confirming that the scan was complete, she grabbed her bag from the conveyor belt and entered the school’s hallway. 

“Where’d they go?” Sara asked in a low voice, toying with her hair. 

“I didn’t see them again after a few minutes, but they definitely were looking at us,” Abel replied, also in a low voice. “There were at least two of them and a royal police android standing around a government car. They pointed at us and were talking on the phone.” Esther bit her lip. Royal soldiers and their androids didn’t typically just hang out in the alleys for no reason. If you saw them, it meant something was going on. 

“Hopefully it was nothing,” Esther said. “I think we should just go about our day normally. What if it was a mistake?” Esther said it mostly to convince herself. 

Abel’s eyes met Esther’s. “I’m walking you to your class,” he said firmly. Esther complied, even though she knew Abel couldn’t do anything against royal officers should the need arise. 

Esther and Abel headed off down the hallway to the right. “Text me later,” Esther said to Sara as she headed in the other direction. Sara nodded.

Esther could feel Abel’s tenseness beside her as they walked. Esther wiped her sweaty palms on her jeans. She knew they could be in serious danger. Her cousin Myrick had been hosting a secret church service in their apartment every other Friday morning for years, and it was only a matter of time before they were found out. Maybe today was the day. Her heart jumped in her chest. Were Myrick and Eden okay? Oh gosh, if anything happens to them…

Abel grabbed Esther’s hand again so suddenly that Esther jumped. She looked up, and her heart stopped. The officers, three of them clothed in gray with the American flag on the upper arms of their thick jackets, talked with a student at the end of the hallway. The student pointed in their direction, and the soldiers started heading straight towards Esther and Abel. 

“Esther Colburn, halt in the name of King Xander of the United States of America,” one commanded. Not knowing what else to do, Esther stopped walking, still desperately gripping Abel’s hand. She turned to look at Abel. His face was stern, looking straight ahead. 

The soldiers approached them, the human-sized android rolling close behind. Esther instinctively stepped back. “You are Esther Noel Colburn?” a tall African-American man asked.

“Yes, sir,” Esther replied, trying not to let her voice squeak.

Another soldier grabbed her wrists, yanking her away from Abel, and clamped a white band around her right wrist. 

“You are required by order of His Majesty to come with us and obey what we say,” the first soldier said. He held up a hand, showing a band on his wrist that looked like Esther’s, but black. “If you get over three meters away from this band, the white band on your wrist will administer an electric shock that will worsen the farther away you get. The police android is equipped with a microphone and camera and is recording. If you refuse to cooperate there will be consequences.”  The second officer handcuffed her hands together. The first officer grabbed Esther’s upper arm, and they began to lead her back towards the entrance. Esther looked back at Abel with panic in her eyes. 

“Sir?” Abel said, worry evident in his voice as he followed. “May I ask why you are taking her?” 

The African-American officer responded. “The King has ordered that all the most beautiful girls in America be brought to the palace to compete for Vera’s crown.” Esther’s eyes widened.

“Wait, what?” Abel said. The stern look was gone, replaced with raised eyebrows and a gaping mouth. He kept pace with them, trying to get closer to Esther. “You’re taking her to the palace? To compete to be queen?”

“That’s what I said.” They went back through the exit and into the parking lot, still pulling Esther along by her upper arm. The students they passed eyed them curiously, whispering to each other.

“Abel!” Esther cried. 

“No, no, no, anyone but her!” Abel said, running in front of the officers. The second officer backhanded Abel across the face and shoved him to the side. Esther cried out.

“Mind your own business,” the officer said. Abel regained his balance. They continued down the hallway, and Abel didn’t go after them. There was nothing he could do.

3-Year Anniversary of My First Novel + A Snippet

Hello, friends, and happy Valentine’s day!

Today is a special anniversary for me- three years ago today, I started Never Forget, my first “big” writing project!

To celebrate this little anniversary, I thought I’d give you guys some updates on the book and a snippet. As mentioned in a previous post, I haven’t been working on Never Forget much recently, but I hope to work on it more in the near future. I may write the next draft for NaNoWriMo 2019.

Amber Rose Harris, the main character, is the most well-developed and most-loved character I’ve ever created. Amber is an autistic savant (this means that she has really strong abilities in some areas, in her case with numbers) with synesthesia (causes senses to be perceived as a different sense, like light as sound and words as colors) and several other mental conditions. Amber was in a car crash as a child that killed her mother and sister and resulted in the traumatic brain injury that caused her conditions. She has an incredible memory and is a genius with numbers.


The story focuses on Amber trying to overcome her fear and hatred of her father, whose drunk driving caused the car crash and killed her mother and sister. After years of not seeing her father, he shows up at her adopted parents’ home with news: Amber’s sister Evianna is still alive.

I need to do a lot of planning and plotting before I can do much more with this book, so that’s what I’ll be working on in the future.

But for today, here’s a scene I wrote recently that may become the first scene of the book. Hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think!


Possible First Scene – Never Forget

It was raining. A twenty-six day.

Amber watched the raindrops blow against the glass for a moment before pulling the curtains closed.

She would not be going to school today. She never left the house on twenty-six days.

She straightened the curtains before turning away. No, she would not let her mind take control this time. She refused.

A scene flashed before her eyes, quick as a heartbeat, of a car window scattered with raindrops. Amber flinched and bit her lip. No, no, no.

Blinding lights. A stretcher, a crushed car, and rain. The number twenty-six.

Amber clenched and unclenched her fists and set to straightening up her room to distract herself. Smooth the sheets, straighten the books on the bookshelf that she never read, wipe off the desktop. She tried not to face the window.

She sighed. It was going to be a long day.


Image credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/784259722581940167/

‘Never Forget’ Snippet #2 – Intro

Hello, everyone! It’s been over a month since I’ve posted anything… whoops. So, I decided to give you guys another snippet of my book- this time it is the very beginning. So here you go!

 

I run a hand down the photograph- worn and fingerprinted from constant touching. My hand lingers on my parents’ faces. They stand on a beautiful beach, a gentle breeze rippling their hair. My mother’s waist-long, almost black hair and coffee-with-milk colored skin tone show her Hispanic roots, while my dad’s chocolate-colored hair, blue eyes, and sand-colored skin offer a stark contrast. My mother holds my baby sister- Evianna Noelle. Her entrancing hazel eyes seem to sparkle in the evening sun. 2-year-old me stands in front of my dad, clutching onto his strong hand. I close my eyes and try to dig up a memory from that night on September 19th: I feel the sand between my toes, I hear the water lapping onto the shore, I see an image of my parents’ faces. I sigh and open my eyes, focusing on the photo again. They look so- peaceful. You would never have guessed that all three of them would be killed mere weeks later.

I fall back onto my bed, still holding the photo. A memory from the tragic crash returns to me- a blurry image of the roof of an ambulance, a wailing siren, a phantom feeling of pain, a vague sense of fear…

“Amber, you need to get going! What are you doing?” I hear a voice call from downstairs. I snap out of my memories, shoot up from the bed, and hastily grab my backpack.

I Will Write – a poem

I tiptoe towards the desk

Evening sun casting beams against the carpet

I sit, giddy, in my seat

Chai tea in my mug

I open my laptop.

I rest my fingers on the familiar keys

Drawing a deep breath

Letting it out-

 

And then I write.

I write until I’m gasping for breath

Too engrossed to even breathe

Until the tea bag in my mug is cold

I write until the sun is far past the horizon

And my eyes are burning

I write until my fingers are cramping

And my tongue is dry

And my stomach rumbles.

 

I write.

And I will keep writing.

I will keep writing until the world understands.

I will write.

 

‘Never Forget’ Snippet #1 – Sandwich

This is a snippet from the book I am planning on publishing one day, titled “Never Forget”.

 

“Hello-o, Amber,” Kara says, waving her hand back and forth in my face. I gaze at her blankly for a moment before realizing what she said. “One of these days I’m going to give you a Sharpie mustache or something and you’d never even notice.”

“Ha, ha,” I reply. I look down at the picnic table, ready to grab my pepperoni and mozzarella sandwich, but all I see is an empty Ziploc bag. “Hey, where’d it-” Kara snorts and covers her mouth with her hand, hiding something behind her back. “Oh, you sneaky little monster,” I say, desperately trying to reach my sandwich.  

“That was way too easy,” she says between giggles, handing me my sandwich. I slap her hand playfully.

Raid at Lindisfarne – A Short Story

This is a short story I wrote for school a little while ago, based on the very first Viking raid.

 

“A beautiful day, isn’t it, Eli?” I looked up from my studies and gazed out the window. The beautiful sea rippled gently, sending barely cresting waves onto the shore. The sea reflected an orange, early-morning sun.

“Yes, quite beautiful, Aaron. The Lord is good to show us such beauty in His creation,” I replied.

“Indeed.” Aaron studied the scenery for a moment. “Eli, have you seen a boat like that before?” Aaron pointed out a small boat on the horizon, barely close enough to tell it was a boat. The shape of it was odd, however; nothing like the boats normally spotted around the monastery.

“No, I have not. I assume it is just a fishing boat.”

“Perhaps, but I have an odd feeling about it.” Aaron stroked his chin thoughtfully.

“I am sure it is nothing. Don’t worry yourself, Aaron.” After a moment, Aaron nodded and left to go back to his studies. I resumed my work, concentrating on copying the material without a mistake.

I was concentrating so hard I barely noticed the odd ship land on the shore a few minutes later. I stopped my work to have a quick break and saw it out of the corner of my eye. A boat unlike any I had ever seen perched on the shore. A huge dragon head was carved into the front of the boat, mouth open in a menacing snarl. Dozens of men poured out of the boat, all armed with axes, daggers and other weapons. They rushed up the grassy slope, straight for the monastery!

“There are armed men coming this way!” I cried, leaping up from my chair. I ran into the hallway, yelling warnings all the way.

“Eli! What is it?” Aaron grabbed my shoulders and looked at me in the eye.

“A boat full of armed men stopped on the shore. They’re running this way! Hurry!” Aaron’s eyes widened and he ran to warn the others. That’s when I heard a scream and plodding footsteps. One of the men appeared around the corner, holding his ax, ready to strike.

Heart pounding, I ran as fast as I could. I heard him behind me, but I was pretty far ahead of him. I took a sharp left, not really knowing where I would end up. Unfortunately, in my haste, I forgot that that hallway ended with a dead end with no escape except for the window.

The window!

Hearing the footsteps get louder behind me, I quickly scanned what was below the window. Thankfully, it was not a very high window, and that part of the building was right next to the ocean, so close that waves crashed gently against the stone wall. Not having anywhere else to go, I climbed to the windowsill and jumped.

Splash!

I have never enjoyed swimming, especially not wearing a robe, and especially not after jumping from a window escaping a maniac with an ax. But I had no other choice. I pumped my arms, trying to get far away from the monastery and the odd dragon boat. When I was satisfied that I was far enough away, I swam to the shore. I slumped to the sand and observed the scene.

The men were running all over the place, gathering anything worth money in the building and bringing it to their ship. The monastery was being destroyed. Many were dead. I covered my mouth to stifle a gasp.

Trying to think clearly, I stumbled towards a huge rock. I was pretty far away, but I could still be seen, so I hoped that the rock would offer some protection. I plopped in the sand behind the rock and prayed.

Several minutes later, I heard fast footsteps. Was it another maniac with an ax? I held my breath.

Aaron came around the corner! “Aaron!” I called. Aaron spotted me behind the rock. His face lit up with relief.

“I couldn’t find you, Eli!” he said, joining me in my hiding place. His relieved expression changed to sorrow. “I feared the worst. Many people have died. I thought I was the only one who survived!” His eyebrows pulled together in concern. “I guess we should stay here until we’re sure it’s safe.” I nodded. We huddled together until we saw the boat float away, taking all of our wealth and hard work with it.

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