Wattpad · Writers

Wattpad | Frights, Camera, Action: Turner Joins Forces with Wattpad for First-of-Its-Kind Collaboration

Apparently, I’m so behind with my Wattpad news because this news is from June, but still…this is great news! So if you write horror, why not check Wattpad out? And while you’re there, say hello!  I’m Morrighansmuse on there.

The initial focus of the partnership will be The Tales from the Crypt, the eagerly anticipated horror programming from Turner’s TNT and executive producer M. Night Shyamalan.  TNT and Wattpad will invite writers around the world to bring their story ideas forward through contests and other opportunities that will be announced on the official Turner profile on Wattpad and on social media.

“Our partnership with Wattpad is a perfect intersection of content and fan engagement, where fans actually have the chance to directly influence and, in some cases even have their material optioned and developed by our networks,” said Justin Williams, senior vice president of digital ventures for TNT and TBS. “We’re especially excited to kick off our collaboration with a focus on TNT’s Tales from the Crypt horror block, which will tap into Wattpad’s strength in the horror genre”

In addition, Turner will also tap into Wattpad’s sophisticated, data-driven models to help identify fresh new talent and ideas from the Wattpad community.  TBS and TNT’s development teams will review stories with an eye toward finding great ideas for television, digital and/or mobile platforms. The networks will also work with Wattpad to share story ideas and other material with the Wattpad community in order to receive immediate feedback from audiences around the world.

via Frights, Camera, Action: Turner Joins Forces with Wattpad for First-of-Its-Kind Collaboration – Wattpad

I’m also part of a Halloween anthology called Tenebris Somnia (Dark Dreams) that premieres on October 1st, and my short story, Guilty, will be featured on October 16.

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A Writer Musing · Quotes · Writing

Writing With The Door Closed… Kinda

“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder.”
-Barbara Kingsolver

One of the drawbacks of writing on Wattpad “live” – my term for writing a novel and posting the latest chapter online as I go (although I’m always two chapters ahead in my drafts) – is that you’re not writing with the door closed. That door’s slightly ajar because you get to hear what your readers are saying. This could run from reactions, opinions, and critiques. As a result, you run the risk of having your work, at least the events that happen in the future of your work, influenced by comments from readers. I’m sure there are other writers out there who complete a novel first before posting the chapters weekly when they’re finished, but for the most part, a lot of Wattpad writers post their chapters as they go.

I do this for two reasons. I like to see how people react to the events unfolding before them. I especially like readers who comment as they go, talking to the character and not the writer as they post their reactions. I also like the answers to questions I pose after every chapter. I never used to pose questions that go, “so what did you think?” It makes me seem clueless as to what’s about to happen next in my story, but I actually, genuinely want to know what readers think. It helps me draft my story and move it forward. Did I get the reaction I wanted? Did I not? Do I need to look at the events and see if I need to tweak a thing or two, or maybe just leave it alone?

Actually, there’s a third reason, and that’s accountability. My readers help me be accountable to finishing that draft although sometimes, I have to admit defeat when I see something really wrong and take it down (sorry, Luca and Landry!) so I can fix it in private.

Sometimes, readers’ reactions may make me reconsider the current arc I’m now on two chapters ahead. I weigh the arguments (inside my head) between one path and the other. Sometimes I write both paths out just to see if it makes it to the same outcome I’d envisioned. Where does it fit in the Hero’s Journey model? If it doesn’t, what purpose does that scene serve? Is it fluff? Is it there to please the reader only, like a fluff piece? While I would like to please my readers, I also want to follow my vision and my characters. And so I go with the characters, knowing that there is still a path that they need to take and by hook or by crook, we’re all gonna get there.

So I write with the door closed when I start a story, listening only to my characters as I go. And then when they’ve hit their stride (my characters), I unlock the door and leave it ajar for awhile, allowing the story to breathe and get used to being poked and prodded by readers who may or may not like it. Some of my stories take a while for readers to like, and I don’t necessarily give them very likable characters. Heck, it takes me awhile to like some of my characters, too.

How do you write? Do you welcome critique while writing or prefer critique to come after the story is completed?

Writing

Finding My Theme

I’m 50K words into my novel and I’m stuck.  I was on a roll for the last month and half, writing every day and building the tension between the characters, tightening the narrative and the conflict, and making sure that characters show up because they’re important and not just window dressing.

And then life happened.  I have to do a rebranding on my author name from Liz Madrid to Liz Durano, which is my maiden name.  Hubby was never happy that I was using Madrid for my books and the request came again last week.  Turns out, rebranding isn’t as easy as I thought and so it will take time.  Some said I should do it slow, but how slow can you go when you’re changing the names of your books and your author platform?  Probably not slow enough, right?  Do you stagger it?  By days, weeks, months?

So my head’s been on other things BUT the story on hand the last two days, even though I have a deadline looming just so I can get other books off the ground, too.  I need to get this done. I need to tie all the loose ends. I need this story to leave the ground running.  I really do.  I want this story to be good, so good that people will tell their friends about it. So good that I might even surprise myself.

But first, I need to find the theme behind all the words I’ve written so far. That would be nice because this rebranding is sucking the life out of me already, and right now, I need to find the muse again and allow him to guide me back home.

What about you? How’s your writing week going so far?

 

 

Wattpad · Writers · Writing

So, I’m on Cosmo!

Cosmopolitan.com, the website, that is (which is still, technically, a magazine, right?), and not even me, Liz Madrid, but my blogging and original writer alter-ego, Morrighansmuse (I know, it’s confusing).  But it’s actually pretty exciting!

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If you want to read the excerpt click on the image, or this link which will take you to Cosmopolitan and from there, you can read the ongoing story on Wattpad where I still post some of my current WIP (works in progress) to my readers.

Some of you may wonder why I would post my ongoing stories on a free site like Wattpad and that’s an excellent question.  I honestly have no answer for you that will make sense, business-wise, for an author starting out but I also don’t want to talk about that in this post either and kill the buzz.  I did write about Wattpad a few months back here.

In Love With A Young Man is the story I’m writing to get back that feeling of joy I used to feel when writing something from the heart.  Hard to believe, but I lost it this year when I found myself immersed in the world of book marketing and promotions (and away from any blogging or poetry), and this is the story that has brought it back for me, word by word, line by line.

And this time, I’m not letting it slip me by.

 

A Writer Musing · Writers

2016 (So Far) In Review

I can’t believe it’s June 1st, and I’m still as disorganized as ever! But it’s never too late to start being organized, right, so I’m going to start (again) right now. But first, I need to look back at the year so far that has clearly passed me by in a blur.

To make it easier for my disorganized brain, I’m going to try to list whatever happened by months (though I’m totally going by my obviously faulty memory here) so here goes:

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January

Ah, January! Another year, another opportunity to start over…

I finally got my act together as far as building my mailing list in January.  I’d had a free Mailchimp account for months but never did anything to build my list and it showed when the release for my third book fizzled.  Yep, it fizzled – just like my first and second books did.  The three of them barely made a dent in the stratosphere that is the Internet – worse for the third one.   Sure, I had hired a blog tour (two of them) and they did what they were supposed to do, but without a list of readers who already knew me and who would likely have been among the first to snatch up my book and help share the news of my book on launch day with reviews, it was Cricket Land for me and apparently, I had an annual pass.

One word: Painful.

I learned a hard lesson, three releases down the line, that you can’t count on your Facebook following (I had a Page but that’s for another month for me to finally get it), Wattpad fans (if you bought my books, Thank you!), or Twitter followers to sell a book.  You need a mailing list.

Say it again.  YOUR. VERY. OWN. MAILING. LIST.

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February

After signing up for a marketing course and trying to follow all the steps to build and reach my audience, I hit Overwhelm mode and it wasn’t pretty.  This stuff’s real, folks! I freaked out and fought the course every step of the way.  It had been set up with video courses and PDF guidelines but somehow all I could think of was, I CANNOT DO THIS WITHOUT SELLING MY AUTHENTIC WRITER’S SOUL!  I AM A REAL WRITER, YOU KNOW! 

The year before, I had read and loved Write. Publish. Repeat. and totally agreed with Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt and David Wright when they said while you may be wearing your artist’s hat when you’re writing and it is art you are making, once you finish and put it out there to sell, then that piece of art (i.e. book) is now a product.  A PRODUCT. And what do you do with a product?  You need to sell it, and thus, you need to wear a businessman’s hat.  Unfortunately, just because I read the book and other books that said the same thing and listened to the podcasts that said the same thing didn’t mean my “authentic artist-writer persona” believed it.

In the artist-writer front, I’m pretty prolific – with short stories – because I’m too overwhelmed to write anything else.  And somehow I’ve convinced myself that I will no longer work on two or more projects at the same time because so-and-so bestselling author says that’s what works for her/him.  And so I will work on only one project at a time even if it kills me.

I also am purposely ignoring a book that is scheduled to release on July 19, 2016 by hanging out on Facebook under my author profile. I tell myself I’m doing this for research but nothing is ever done for research on FB unless one is willing to accept the consequences. You’ll be forever distracted and constantly comparing your work with everyone else who knows Facebook a thousand times better than you do.

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March

With Overwhelm mode still in effect, I decide not to renew my Kindle Select participation agreement, stubbornly telling myself that I should go wide, like all the self-publishing gurus in all the podcasts I listen to every time I walk my dog and wash the dishes and do the laundry (which is every day) tell me to.  And so I went wide.

Bit the bullet and paid for a self-hosted site because every self-publishing guru says I need one and, oh, look! It’s on sale!  Until I get my bank notification about the amount debited.  Turns out that to get the sale price, I have to pay 3 YEARS U and I just did.  So there goes $300 and another realization that hits me a week after having a self-hosted site.  I have NO audience.  It’s cricket land all over again, and what the heck are all these darn plug-in updates every 10 minutes???

The book that’s due in July?  I’ve decided to rewrite it all – from the beginning.  A 101K word novel out the window because I have decided to write to market – like I tell myself that all bestselling writers apparently do.

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April

ZOMG! WHAT HAVE I DONE???

Going wide for a well-known author with bestseller cred (USA Today, NY Times, Amazon) may well be worth it, but for an unknown like me?  NOPE.  When reality hits, it sucks.  I was actually doing good the first three months of the year (despite my bickering that I could do better – heck, I could pay my office lease, for crying out loud, with my royalties) – but I had to gird my loins for the coming months that there would be hardly any royalties and there weren’t.  When I tallied the earnings between Amazon, iBooks, B&N, Kobo and Smashwords, Amazon always had the higher numbers, hands down.  But I’m stubborn, so I’m going to wait it out.

In the mailing list front, I’ve hit 1200 subscribers, which some people might consider slow but it’s better than the original 6 subscribers I had for months before I remembered that I even had a mailing list.  But I haven’t quite figured out the automation sequence.

Rewrite in progress.  12K which honestly is very bad, considering the book is due to be released in July.  Why do I have this ambitious plan to spend $2K on some Serbian model to be on the cover of my second book? Clearly I’m dreaming or crazy – most likely, the latter.

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May

What am I thinking?  If April’s sales were abysmal, May’s numbers were even more so!  So back to KU it is and accept the fact that no one knows me – or likes me.  But such is life, yadda yadda yadda.  I clearly need cheese to go with all this whine this month, but thank goodness, my client remembers my birthday and gets me my favorite full-size Portos cake.

I’m still figuring out what to write in the automaton sequence as far as my mailing list is concerned.  Honestly, why can I write 125K word novels and not a simple email to a subscriber?  Why??

Oh, and the rewrite is a no-go.  After a few of my readers told me that they loved the original – sure, maybe a few things felt rushed, but we’re talking about the first draft here so it’s not perfect – overall, it was good.  So, at least, I now have 40+ days left before that launch.  Best to prepare to push it at a later date then, before I go crazy.

But then, I’m a writer; I’m already crazy.

Speaking of that second book, I really do need to change the cover but unfortunately, that means I also have to change the cover of the first book. And come to think of it, since I never did a launch of the first book, why not launch it properly when I get the new cover? Still, that means I need to buy two covers and make sure they match across the series. But why on earth am I not liking the covers I have? Why do I still want a stock image that has appeared in eight other novels? And why oh why am I working on not just one new novel but TWO? Don’t I still have a book to edit??

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Oh, and that Automation sequence for my email list? Still working on it.  Probably time to hit up Fiverr and find someone to do it for me because even my hair is turning white from all this stress.  But at least there’s still that chocolate cake from my client…

The self-hosted site is still up, but if you’re reading this (or have made it this far), you know exactly where I am – and it’s not that self-hosted one at all. So much for all that money wasted, and we’re not even counting all the darn plug-in upgrades!

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SO THERE YOU HAVE IT, the first 6 months and that’s not even everything.  But at least it’s a start, a look back at my year so far and the many blunders I’ve made.

I still don’t get Facebook takeovers and don’t get how to engage with people there.  I still tweet my books even if successful authors tell you not to, and I still blog and feature other authors and do reviews although I no longer will give out reviews if they’re less than 4 stars.  Karma’s a bitch and it’s not like I’m like Colleen Hoover giving out reviews on Goodreads though I hear they’re supposed to be a hoot.  I sure hope she gives one of my books a review because heaven knows I need one.

 

 

So how did your first half of the year go? Better than mine, I hope!

A Writer Musing · Writers · Writing

On Being Happy Again And #teasertuesday

I’ve found myself in a sort of a standstill lately when it comes to my writing.  Ever since I discovered a course back in December 2015 on book marketing, building your email list as an author, having a successful book launch, and be a bestseller, I’ve been working my ass off trying to do all of the things I’m supposed to do – BUT write.  And when I did write, it was to market, meaning I wrote according to what I thought the readers would want.  It was no longer about what I wanted to write – apparently that didn’t sell books anyway – but what the readers wanted.  Maybe something along the vein of 50 Shades of Grey or something.

And because I was editing the sequel to one of my novels, a 101k word novel that was actually quite decent except for the ending that I knew I had to fix in the editing process, I found myself obsessing over how to make that book fit to market.  It didn’t matter that it was already written.  I was going to write/edit that sucker to market or it was going to be deleted forever.

And so for the last five months, I rewrote that sucker. Five times.  I always got stuck in the 10K word mark and just could not go on.  It felt like pushing a boulder up the hill and I was the unhappiest I’ve ever been since I started writing that I actually HATED the idea of writing.  When I read that whatever I was probably feeling had a name: the second book syndrome, even knowing that didn’t help me at all.

It didn’t change the fact that I hated the characters I had created and loved.  They had become ghosts and impostors, all for the sake of trying to make them resemble Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele – or whoever else was the hottest thing/couple/trend.

But then I listened to a few bestselling authors like Marie Force, Bella Andre, and Lilliana Hart.  Even Chuck Wendig.  Heck, even Neil Gaiman and I was in the audience when he said it.  When asked about the secret of success, they all said the same thing:

Write.  Just write. Just do it.  Just fwrite. Finish what you write and then write another one.

And so I’m back to editing the sequel’s original version.  I’m getting to know the characters that I loved and see them the way they used to be, no more of the extreme makeovers just so they’d fit what I thought the market wanted.  No more turning my characters into Frankenstein creations that were nothing like the original characters they used to be.

And then something happened: I fell in love with them again. I also fell in love with writing again.

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Forget that my sales numbers aren’t high.  I’ve decided to return to the reason why I write.   Because it’s the only thing that keeps me sane and able to understand the world around me, most especially my own feelings because Heaven knows I will never tell you exactly how I feel.

But my characters will.

So I’ve decided to put the blinders on and not let myself be bogged down by the business details behind being a writer – at least not yet.  Sure, I still have to build my email list even though I don’t exactly mail things as regularly as I should.  I also know one day I’ll have to rally a street team, readers who love my stories and want to see me keep going as an author.  But for now, I need to write the stories my readers and future readers want to read – stories that are uniquely my own, and not written to market.

And that’s the secret.  Just write; write the stories that make ME happy.

And guess what?  For the first time in five months, I’m happy.

Featured Author · Writing

Featured Author: Andrew Reid, Author of Kingdom’s Fall

This week, I’m pleased to feature Andrew Reid, author of Kingdom’s Fall, a fantasy novel about a group of ordinary people and not-so-ordinary people forced to work together to save a kingdom from an ancient evil.  I first discovered the story on Wattpad and when Andrew published his novel last year, I immediately bought my own copy. 

Andrew did a virtual “interview” and he was kind enough to answer a few questions I posed about his book and his writing process.  Before I go ahead with the interview, do check out his blog.  I love his so-English humor and Andrew’s got it by the buckets.  Considering that the main male character in one of my novels is so English, I should be taking notes…but I digress.

Let’s check out the interview!

So what is Kingdom’s Fall about?

It’s about “a handful of exceptional people who band together to brood, crack jokes, fight giant monsters and save their kingdom. It’s a fantasy novel built on the idea that the choices people make out of duty or loyalty – even if they’re the right choice – can have repercussions that echo for a long time. It is told through the medium of cool people doing awesome stuff.

What inspired you to write the book?

A scrap of paper that I saved from a writing workshop. I’d been kicking around a fantasy idea about two rival kingdoms and a gift of a cursed sword that never really found its feet. Casting about for something to give me direction, I found about 200 words of a prologue that I had written during an hour-long session with Mark Chadbourn (fantasy and tv writer) back in 2009 about a giant wall that held back the sea, and the ship that finds it breaking. I reread it and thought about a country locked behind walls; walls so old that nobody remembers why they were built; about walls that aren’t necessarily made of stone. I started with that and a list that read “Soldier, Spy, Rogue, and Adventurer” and the story sprang from there.

51RiJp3jAXL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_How would you describe your writing style?  Are you a pantser or a plotter?

I started off essentially as a pure seat-of-the-pants writer. I got the book done, but…I found it very stressful going. Even though all the parts were there, it needed a lot of work in the edits to get the structure, pace and flow correct. So now I deploy a little structure beforehand to keep me sane. It’s based off of Save the Cat, and I will build a set of cards with the major beats that I want to hit and then start writing towards each one. I do go off piste sometimes, but having it all laid out means I can think, “right, well if *this* has changed how can I use it later?” and it’s a much smoother process.

Who has influenced your writing?

I’m a huge fan of Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy. It’s one of my favourite fantasy works, along with the companion Tawny Man trilogy. I love Ursula K LeGuin: A Wizard of Earthsea is a fantastic book. Other favourites include The Count of Monte Cristo, and the Culture novels by Iain M Banks. Recent fantasy books that I really enjoyed and have had an influence on me: The Copper Promise by Jen Williams, Half the World by Joe Abercrombie.

What do you love about writing?

I love playing about with dialogue, the inner and outer voice. I like feeling that kick when you get characters sparking off of one another and it makes the writing *come alive* when you read it back, even though you know it took six months and three drafts to make it happen. I really like seeing what references my brain throws into the mix – all the stuff you see and read, all these old quotes and ideas get dredged up to the surface and it’s amazing what you remember when you’re sweating blood trying to just get the words out of you and down.

What do you dislike about writing?

Getting too close to the work is a problem. I can picture scenes very very clearly in my head, so when I come to write them I feel like I have to smudge the image a little to leave room for the reader’s interpretation. But when it goes out to beta readers, those parts always get flagged as being too vague, and could I be a little more forthcoming with the detail. It can be really hard to judge sometimes if you’re being blunt, or simply direct. Basically, the constant second-guessing of the thing you’ve just written.

What challenges have you faced as a writer?

Getting a traditional publishing deal is the current hurdle! I’ve been really close to things a few times now – I have a couple of unpublished novels under my belt in the past few years – and it has come down to things like “this is really good, but it’s not a debut” or “right writer, wrong book”. So…that’s what I’m working on. I’ve got one book bouncing through round after round of edits so that it is about as good as I can get it, and hopefully it will stick. Touch wood.

Can you tell us about your next book or project?

The next book is called The Tracer. Bit of a diversion from the fantasy, but it’s a contemporary thriller about a tech-savvy bounty hunter who is hired to track down a corrupt trader, only to find him dead and evidence planted at the scene that implicates her in his murder. I’ve had some thoughts about surveillance culture bouncing around my notebooks for a while now, and getting to talk about them AND have a main character whose main solution to any problem is to kick it as hard as she can seemed like a nice way to spend my evenings. I’m also working (slowly) on the sequel to Kingdom’s Fall. Hopefully the former will be finished in the summer, and then I can concentrate on the latter.

What’s the last book you read?

The last book I read was so bad it put me off picking up another one for a few days. I won’t mention the title or author but it was a hangover in the worst way.

On the good side of things, I just picked up The Privilege of the Sword and The Fall of Kings, which are the sequels to Ellen Kushner’s *truly amazing* fantasy, Swordspoint. Now that is a book hangover. The imagery is so crisp and intense, the world so compelling and yet almost entirely ephemeral on the page: the city where it takes place is never named, and yet feels so familiar you could swear you’d been there. I should have put that up in influences, but seriously: Swordspoint is an amazing gem of a book.

On the tech-y side of writing, what programs or apps do you use to write?

I write mostly in Google Docs at the moment. With one small child and another on the way alongside a full-time teaching commitment, I write on my phone during my commute and then sort out the text later on. For the complete draft, it all goes into Word so I can track changes. I use notebooks to sketch out ideas. I very rarely write blocks of text freehand, but I do a lot of flow diagrams or loosely connected frameworks. I write a LOT of dialogue fragments and often surprise myself by going back through old notebooks. I use index cards and Post-Its stuck to a wardrobe for planning, although I just got a massive flipchart refill where each page is divided into squares about the size of a Post-It and have hung it on the wall so I can write straight onto it. It should be awesome.

What’s the best advice you can give to someone about writing?

Best advice heard: finish what you start. Get it done. Yes, you have other ideas. Finish this one first. Advice to give: if you’re submitting to agents or publishers make sure your MS is complete before you start querying, follow the submission guidelines, and be polite. Writing is art, but publishing is a business. Be professional.

Thank you so much, Andrew!  Learn more about Andrew and Kingdom’s Fall on his website.


Excerpt

Aiden was dragged from the inn – his shoulder alight with pain, too much for him to protest or resist any further – and out into bright sunlight. The inn stood at the very edge of a tiny village. It was little more than a stopping-point, a place that thrived off what few travellers and wagons passed through on their way inland. On the opposite side of the road a massive tree disturbed the verge, so big that it had been either too much trouble or too familiar to cut down.  Someone had thrown a rope over one of the branches, and a noose swung lightly at one end.

“I thought I was going to face justice.” Aiden spat the words out between gasps. The pain was hot and bright, bright enough to mix with the sunlight and send flashes across his vision.

“You are. Warrant doesn’t say you need to be alive to face it.” The leader grinned savagely. “We’ll hang you here, and save his majesty the trouble.” He made a show of looking Aiden up and down as if judging his weight. “Might just send your head back.”

Two of the men held Aiden upright while the leader slipped the noose over his head and pulled the knot tight against the back of his neck. One peace-man spat on the ground, disgusted. “Thought you’d be bigger,” he said. “At least you’re not begging. Can’t stand it when they beg.”

“Does it ever work?” Aiden asked.

The man thought for a moment. “It gives us something to laugh about later.”

“I’m sorry to disappoint. If we ever meet again, I’ll try to make more of an effort.”

“Do that.” The man let him go. Aiden sank into the noose, barely able to stand. He twisted on the rope, turning to look at the men who were getting ready to haul him up. He could feel the blood gathering in his face, the skin of his cheeks and forehead prickling hot and tight.

“Any last words, my lord?” Their leader asked.

For a long time there was nothing but silence, and terror. He was going to die, alone and hurt and afraid, for something he couldn’t even remember doing. Aiden closed his eyes and felt the weight of it press down on him. As it sank through him, a thought rose to meet it. There’s still one thing you can do. One good thing. Aiden struggled to nod, and the weight on the noose eased off as they waited for him to speak. He forced the fingers of his good hand up under the rope, trying to take the pressure off his windpipe. “There were six of you.” His voice was little more than a whisper. “Now there’s four. If you kill those two who are off after the serving girl, that’s a lot more reward to share.”

The leader snorted. “Bit late to find your conscience, my lord.” He turned away, gesturing to his men. “Haul him up, lads.”


Purchase Kingdom’s Fall here. Your purchase benefits Pencils of Promise.  And if you’ve read Kingdom’s Fall, please leave a review.  Reviews help readers discover new authors!

-Reposted from Liz Madrid Author