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ThisAdamGuy
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26 Apr 2017, 12:16 pm

I've been doing the free weekly web-serial thing for a few years now, and now that my latest book is nearly finished I'm considering seeing if I can get it published by a real publisher. Here's part of the first chapter. If you've got a few minutes, would you mind looking it over and telling me what you think? Is it as good as something you'd expect to find in a Barnes and Noble, you think? Still need work?


Chapter One
The early afternoon sky was a bloody shade of red as the carriage trundled along the uneven sandy ground. Painted black as a hearse, the shade offered very little comfort to the young zik maiden it carried, and her sheer red dress, cut low at the back to show off her silky brown fur, was quickly becoming stained with sweat.
"As if traveling in the desert wasn't bad enough," she complained, fanning herself as best she could with her hand, "it just had to be on a day when Wurstram was shining!"
And Wurstram was, indeed, glaring down at the Taksten desert with a vengeance. The great red moon sat so close to Haroz today that it almost blotted out the sun itself, bathing the world with its scarlet light— and its heat.
"Why couldn't it be Lishara?" she whined, leaning her head out the window in a decidedly unladylike fashion in an effort to catch a breeze. Instead, she got nothing but a blast of sandy wind directly in her face. Coughing, and hacking, she pulled her head back into the carriage, and the fur on her ears turned a bright, vivid yellow.
"With all due respect, Mistress," a timid voice said from above her, "Lishara would just make it even worse."
"How could things possibly be worse than they are now, Za?" she demanded.
She heard him snap the reigns, spurring the kashnilas to run faster. "Cuz Lishara wouldn't cool things down, it'd just make it humid as the Pit."
Adlis leaned back in her seat, trying her best to ignore the heat. Za was probably right, but she didn't feel like letting him know that.
"If anythin', we need Atroyo," her driver went on.
"Oh, please," Adlis said, putting her head out the window again. This time, she made sure to shield her eyes with her hand, but her long hair still whipped out behind her like a kite. "As if I need my fur standing on end on top of all this heat."
She looked up at the simmk, clad in a duster and wide brimmed hat as black as their carriage as he drove them further into the desert.
"But it can bring storms, too!" he insisted, turning around to look at her with his large eyes, painted bright yellow on his purple-and-white striped sackcloth mask. "That means rain and shade."
Adlis tried to act annoyed, but her lip curled up in a smirk all the same. "You're just a regular fountain of knowledge, aren't you, Za?"
Za shook his head, almost losing his hat in the process. "No ma'am, I'm not, I promise. In fact, I'm probably wrong."
Adlis laughed. "You don't have to be so serious all the time."
"I just don't wanna offend you, Mistress."
"And I thought I told you to stop calling me that. I'm not your mistress anymore, I'm your friend."
Za turned to look sheepishly at her. "Beggin' your pardon, Miss Adlis. I just don't wanna cause no offense."
Adlis turned her nose up and gave him a smug look. "You couldn't offend me if you tried."
"Um..."
"Go ahead, try!"
"Have you checked your ears?"
Adlis made a choking sound in her throat, and jerked her head back in through the window so fast that she almost struck it on the sill. After raising the glass pane, despite the heat, she gazed into her translucent reflection...
"D'yargo," she muttered under her breath. "Not again!"
"Sorry, Miss Adlis!" Za said from outside. "I just heard your voice and thought... well..."
Settling back in her seat, Adlis closed her eyes and took a deep, calming breath, trying to let her mind go blank. No intrusive thoughts, no distractions, and definitely no emotions. A few seconds later she felt the barely noticeable tingle in her ears and opened her eyes to look at her reflection again. Sure enough, the fur had gone back to their normal shade of brown. She breathed a sigh of relief and opened the window again.
"At least the kashnilas seem happy!" Za said with forced cheerfulness.
"Of course they are," she answered, knowing he'd be able to hear her no matter how quietly she spoke. "They're reptiles. They love the heat, indecent scaly things."
Adlis felt a twinge of guilt for calling them that. The bipedal lizards, with their swirling rainbow patterned scales, were actually quite beautiful. The Kashni who had owned them had named them Puela and Mag. Or, rather, he said they'd named themselves that. She had never been sure if the Kashnis were telling the truth when they said they could talk to kashnilas, or if they were just pulling a widespread prank on the other creatures of Tassendile. They might share a common ancestor, she gave them that much, but to say they could actually communicate with a common animal...
"I still don't think this is the right thing to do, Mistr- Miss Adlis," Za spoke up a few minutes later. "You're tryin' to get to Arborough, right? Then why're we goin’ further into the Taksten?"
Adlis sighed. "I told you yesterday, Za. And the day before that!"
"Well, beggin' your pardon, Miss Adlis, but I'm nervous. You're smarter than I am. If you tell me what you're thinkin', I'll trust ya, and that'll make me feel better."
"Arborough is on the other side of the Shi Valen Mountains," she answered, making a futile attempt to fan herself again. "We'd never make it all the way across by ourselves. We need a guide."
"There was that zik at the last town we were at."
Adlis scowled and raised her hand to feel her ears, begging them not the change color. "That was before he saw these," she snapped, not having to explain what these were. "We're lucky they didn't turn me over to the Church of Embin!"
The ceiling of the carriage creaked, and she knew Za was up there shuddering. "I'm sorry," she called, her ears involuntarily turning blue. "I shouldn't have said that."
"You don't have to apologize to me, Miss Adlis," the simmk replied. "That ain't your place. I just... I'm all right."
Za had never spoken about it, but Adlis suspected one of his former master's must have been taken by the priests. He would probably tell her if she ordered him to, but she'd told him he wasn't servant anymore, and that was a promise she intended to keep.
Adlis wiped her brow, and noticed how coarse her hair felt. With a soft groan, she reached down into her bag and withdrew the hairbrush she had nicked during her escape and began running it through her hair. The bristles were soft and parted her hair easily, making tiny grains of sand patter onto the floor around her feet. Her hair hung down a few inches past her shoulders, so it took her nearly an hour to brush all of it. She welcomed the opportunity to think about anything besides the bumpy carriage ride. Once that was done, she began to groom the fur on her tail as well. Her dress was cut so low on her back that her tail easily fir through the opening, free for all of Haroz to see. The thought still made her blush. There wasn't a single day where she wasn't tempted to tuck it into the dress itself, as was modest, but the bump it would make inside the tight fabric only made it more embarrassing. Like walking down the street with only a bath towel to cover her breasts, the pitiful attempt to hide her indecency only drew more attention to it.
"If you don't mind me askin', Miss Adlis," Za said, bringing her back to the present, "Where're we goin' now?"
"That Kashni said there was another village about two days' riding this way," she answered. "It's supposed to be a tiny place, but maybe there's someone there who would be willing to escort us over the mountains."
"He's gonna want a lot of money for that."
Adlis bit her lip, but didn't let her uncertainty show when she spoke. "They'll have to wait until we get there, but it'll be well worth their wait."
"You might have trouble tellin' him that," Za said, picking up on the hidden meaning behind Adlis' words. They had no money. If their guide expected to be paid in advance, they'd be stuck out in this Embin-cursed desert forever.
"Just leave the talking to me," she assured him. "Everything will be fine."
"Wouldn't have it any other way, Miss Adlis."
The simmk lapsed into silence, concentrating on driving the kashnilas, and Adlis leaned her head back in her seat. The carriage was comfortable enough, given their circumstances. The seats were cushioned, and there was plenty of room to stretch her legs. The seat itself was wide enough for two people to sit side by side. Or, Adlis thought as she laid down on her side and curled into a ball, for one zik to lay down and take a nap. Using her travel sack and the fur on her arm as a pillow, Adlis closed her eyes, and fell asleep.


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NorthWind
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07 May 2017, 12:53 pm

I think you write well enough to get something published by a real publisher, but no matter how well you write it's never easy to get a book published by one and it partly depends on luck.

From this first chapter I can't possibly tell whether I'd say this book is good enough for a real publisher. I've read 'Amber Silverblood', part of the sequel and part of 'The slayer and the sphinx' and your writing style is definitely good enough.

However, the first chapter of this book is not exactly enthralling. At the end of it I still only know that the protagonists are travelling and don't have money. I have no idea why though (but maybe I missed something, because there are a lot of made up words and English is not my mother tongue). It'd be nice to know something right from the beginning that stands out or makes the whole thing more interesting. Unanswered questions are good to keep the suspense. You put them to use very well in 'Amber Silverblood' but that's because there are a lot of things going on the main character doesn't know and pretty much every character has their own personal motivation and/or goal. Here, however, I don't know enough to start to get interested in the story. If it were a published book, it'd have a blurb though, and maybe that'd contain enough additional information to make me curious how the story goes on.

Like in your other stories or parts of stories I've read, the characters are written really well though. It's usually easy to immediately like or hate your characters and you usually introduce them in a way that is interesting and makes them easy to remember. The interpersonal relationship and dynamics between Adlis and Za are very entertaining to read.



ThisAdamGuy
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07 May 2017, 1:54 pm

Thanks for the feedback, and I'm glad you're enjoying my other stories. I actually took the advice of someone else I know and completely rewrote the first chapter. Here it is, in case you want to compare them.

Chapter One
The blazing desert sunlight mixed with the cool green light of Jaminska as the coach pulled into the station. Eight bipedal lizards pulled it, their clawed feet padding softly on the sandy ground, occasionally letting out a caw or a squawk. Twenty people sat in the large wagon's hard wooden seats, sweating and fanning themselves.
"Final destination Hammeth," the driver, a ruby scaled Kashni called, pulling up on the reins and bringing his kashnilas to a stop. "All off!"
The passengers rose from their seats, muttering gladly. Hot as the Taksten was, it would certainly be cooler outside of the cramped coach than in it. They took their bags down from the overhead shelves, stretching their cramped muscles, before slowly filing out through the door. It was empty within minutes, save for two people sitting in the back seats. One of them was a simmk, dressed all in black with a large floppy-brimmed hat atop his head. He was scrawny despite the voluptuous coat he was wearing, and he turned to the girl next to him, staring at her unblinkingly with the bright yellow eyes that had been painted onto his sackcloth mask.
"Mistress? Mistress?" he asked, leaning closer to her.
She was a zik, her body covered in soft brown fur. The sheer red dress she wore, stained from their travels, was cut so low that her tail was bare for all of Haroz to see. Her head, upon which she wore a ratty straw hat, was resting against the side of the coach. She snored softly, and didn't respond to her nervous companion's whispers. Hesitantly, as if he expected to be struck for it, he reached out and poked her on the arm.
"Mistress, wake—"
"GET YOUR HANDS OFF ME!"
The zik girl sat upright, slapping at hands that weren't there, and the masked creature fell out of his seat, scrambling to get away.
"Mis- Mistress, it's just me!" he squealed.
The zik maiden froze, looked down at him, and lowered her hand.
"Za," she gasped, putting a hand to her chest, "you frightened me!"
Za picked himself back up, gloved hands shaking. "B- B- Beggin' your pardon for that, Mistress, but I think this is our stop."
"Really?" the girl looked out the window, but couldn't see anything but the side of the building the coach was parked beside. "That didn't take nearly as long as I expected." She clapped her hands. "Lovely! Get my bag, please, Za."
"Yes, Mistress," he said, bowing his head as she rose from her seat.
"And I thought I told you to stop calling me that," she snapped. "My name is Adlis!"
Za paused, the young woman's bag halfway out of its compartment. "Beggin' your pardon, Mistress, but it ain't my place to call you by your name."
"'Mistress' is a name servants call their masters. You're not my servant anymore, Za, you're my friend."
"I just don't wanna cause no offense, ma'am."
Adlis turned her nose up with a sly twinkle in her eye. "You couldn't offend me if you tried!"
Za sighed. "Yes, Miss Adlis."
While Za retrieved their meager belongings, Adlis paused by the carriage door and looked down at her clothing. Namely, her tail. While not forbidden, a zik woman showing her tail in public was considered scandalous. Not for the first time, she had to resist the urge to stuff it into her dress. The thin red garment was so thin that the bump it made would be obvious, and only serve to call even more attention to her, like walking down the street with only a towel to cover her breasts.
Instead she turned to Za and asked, "Does my hat look all right, Za?"
"Beggin' your pardon, Miss Adlis," he said, hefting the bag and coming to join her, "but I'm not sure if I'm the right one to ask. I don't know nothin' about style."
"No!" she hissed. Leaning closer to him, she whispered, "I mean, are my ears covered?"
Za stiffened. "Oh, right. Yes, Miss Adlis, they're covered."
Adlis nodded in satisfaction. Even without eyes, a simmk could "see" well enough with their other senses to put most creatures' eyesight to shame. If Za couldn't "see" her ears, nobody would be able to. Taking a breath to steady her nerves, she stepped out of the carriage...
And froze.
"What's wrong, Miss Adlis?" Za asked as he stepped out behind her.
Terror flooded through Adlis' body as she looked around at the barren landscape. Even Jaminska's green light couldn't distort the pale yellow color. Sand. Miles upon miles of sand. Her mouth fell open, eyes stretched wide, and underneath her hat she felt the telltale tingle in her long, pointed ears.
"Za?" she whispered without looking at the simmk.
"Y- Yes, Miss Adlis?"
"Where are we?"
Za fidgeted behind her back. "Um, I think the driver said we were in Hammeth."
Adlis still didn't blink. "And where is Hammeth?"
"Um... well, you know I ain't never been out of Tolk, Miss Adlis, but I think we must be somewhere in the desert."
With her ears tingling again, Adlis rounded on him. "And why are we in the Embin-cursed desert, Za?" she shouted.
A few passersby looked at her, and Adlis clamped her hands over her mouth. Her wretched ears were tingling again. She waited until they had all gone on their way, and then grabbed Za by the arm and pulled him into the alleyway.
"Why are we in the desert?" she demanded again through gritted teeth.
Even though Za was easily a foot taller than her, he cowered with his back against the wall. "I- I'm sorry, Miss Adlis! I didn't know! Y- You just said you wanted to get as far away from Tolk as possible."
"Yes, that's what I said," she moaned, putting her hand on her forehead. "But I wanted to go home, Za. You took us to the wrong side of the mountains!"
Za was shaking again, his knees knocking together like drumsticks. "I'm sorry, Miss Adlis! Really, honest, I am. I just asked the man at the desk which one was goin' farthest away and bought us tickets!"
Adlis closed her eyes and held up her hands. "Okay, this is all right. We can fix this. We just have to get tickets for another coach. This time, I'll buy them, Za."
Za wilted. "I'm sorry, Miss Adlis."
Taking a breath to calm herself, Adlis put on the bravest face she could, folding her hands in front of herself like her father's tutors had taught her, and set off back into Hammeth. The ticket desk was a little ways off, and there was only a short line. Adlis took her place at the end of it, Za coming to stand awkwardly behind her, and waited. Another gust of wind blew through the town, kicking up sand and tugging at people’s clothes. Adlis put her hand atop her head to keep her hat from blowing away. Of course they would arrive while Jaminska was in the sky. The bothersome green moon always made the wind act up.
Dear Embin above, she thought, I can feel their eyes on me!
It wasn't surprising. That was why the dress had been made in the first place. That didn't make her hate it any less, though. Silently, she cursed herself for not thinking to nick some changes of clothes when they'd made their escape.
I wonder if Madam Caruzo will send people after me? she wondered. The thought was enough to make her ears tingle again, and she tugged her hat down tighter onto her head. Focus on what's important, she snapped inwardly at herself.If they see your... those things, [i]you'll wish the Madam's men found you first!
She doubted that Caruzo would waste her precious resources in trying to find her, though. Not when she had dozens of other girls to take her place. If anything, she probably expected Adlis to come crawling back to her once she found out how impossible the task of getting home seemed.
Well, she can go to the Pit! Adlis thought, her ears tingling with anger. I'll sooner die than go back to that horrid place!
"How can I help you, miss?"
Adlis jumped, startled out of her cynical musings, to find that she was now at the front of the line.
"Ah, y- yes, I..." she stammered. "I'm afraid there's been a mistake. You see, I need to cross the Shi Valen mountains, but I got on the wrong coach."
The man behind the desk, another zik, shook his head. "If you're going to ask if I can put you on another coach for free, miss, the answer is no."
Adlis blushed, and her ears tingled in unison with her cheeks, but she nodded. "No, of course not. I was just wondering, when does the next coach for Arborough leave?"
"Arborough?" the zik arched an eyebrow. "Can't say I've heard of it."
Adlis frowned. "How could you not have heard of Arborough? It's the biggest city in the Shadetower Woods!"
"Well, that explains it." The zik ducked behind his desk for a second and produced a map. "That's clear on the other side of Tassendile, miss. You're not going to find a coach that'll take you all the way there."
Adlis' frown deepened. "But, then..."
"If you'll just show me where it is on the map, I'll try to find you the coach that comes closest to— whoops!"
A sudden gust of Jaminska's wind nearly sent the map flying out of the clerk's hands. It almost blew Adlis' hat right off her head, too. If she hadn't clamped both hands onto it and held it down with a white-knuckled grip, it would have been carried away down the street.
The zik paused, eyeing her strangely. "Are you all right, miss?"
"Fine, fine, thank you!" she said, managing a weak smile. "Please, you were saying?"
He stared at her a moment longer, and then pointed at the map. "Just show me where you're trying to go, ma'am."
I just went from miss to ma'am, Adlis thought, looking over the map. I wonder what that means?
After a moment she pointed at a spot in the northernmost reaches of Tassendile.
"There," she said. "Are you sure you don't have any coaches going there?"
The zik looked where she was pointing, and then shook his head. "Ma'am, I don't know how often you leave home, but that isn't how this works. If you want to go that far, you're going to have to take multiple coaches."
"Multiple coaches?" Adlis exclaimed, taking a step back as if he'd just suggested she dump a barrel of spiders on her head.
The zik nodded. "You could take one of ours to here," he traced a finger along a path on the map she couldn't see, "then take another one to... probably here." He tapped the map. "Maybe someone there will take you the rest of the way to Arborough, but even from there a trip that far is going to cost an arm and a leg."
"Miss Adlis," Za said, tentatively, "we don't—"
"Are there any other towns nearby that might offer more accommodating service?" Adlis cut him off.
The clerk frowned back at her, but Adlis didn't care. This was an emergency, and this stubborn man was only making things worse. Let him think nasty thoughts about her. Soon enough she would be miles away from this Pit-like place.
"The only other town is about seventy miles south," he finally answered, "but that'll only take you even further out into the Taksten."
D'yargo! she cursed inside her head. No, she couldn't very well make the trip even longer, could she?
"Besides that," the zik was going on, "there's talk of..." he hesitated. "Bad folks heading down that way."
Despite her situation, Adlis cocked her head. "What sort of bad people?"
He shrugged again. "Can't say. But if what we've heard is true, you don't want to go any further south than this."
Za whimpered, and Adlis didn't feel much better. The line was getting longer behind her, and she could hear the other customers muttering, unhappy about being made to wait so long. Her ears were tingling under her hat, but she refused to think about them. She forced herself to keep a confident face.
She gave a long, suffering sigh, as if it were the clerk's fault. "Oh, very well. When is the soonest carriage over the mountains, and how much will that cost?"
The zik checked his ledger. "There's one leaving at sunrise tomorrow," he said. "And it'll cost fifty zechs per passenger."
Adlis froze. "Fifty? You can't be..." she took a deep breath. "Very well. Za, give the man his money."
She stepped back to let the simmk do as she said. When he didn't move, she gave him a sharp look.
"I'm sorry, Miss Adlis," he said, trembling again. "I tried to tell you..."
A pit formed in Adlis' stomach. "Tell me what, Za?"
"We're all outta money!"
A chill ran down Adlis' back so powerful that it felt like she'd jumped into a frozen lake.
He didn't really just say that, her panicking mind told her, grappling for any comfort she could find. That's impossible, because... because without money, I'm stuck out here. And if I'm stuck out here, then...
"Please excuse us," she said without looking at the clerk, her voice numb. Grabbing Za by his wrist, she pulled him none too gently out of line to another secluded alleyway. Once they were out of earshot, she demanded, "What do you mean we're out of money?"
"I'm sorry, Miss Adlis! I tried to tell you, I really did!"
She grabbed him by his coat collar. "We left Tolk with plenty of money! Where did it go?"
"I- I spent it all on the tickets gettin' here, Miss Adlis." The simmk was practically sobbing now, though he didn't have eyes to make tears. "You s- s- said to get you as far from Tolk as possible, so I did! But the tickets cost everything we had, Miss Adlis!"
Adlis let him go, and he fell to his knees. Turning away from him, she grabbed two handfuls of her hair. "No, no, no! This can't be happening!"
"I'm sorry, Miss Adlis. I should've—"
"I'm never going to get home now!"
Big, fat tears rolled down her cheeks falling silently onto the sandy ground below. Her ears tingled.
"Are you all right, miss?"
With a yelp, Adlis spun around to see another Kashni standing at the end of their alleyway. His ruby scales sparkled in the sunlight, casting tiny red specks across the walls.
"Don't mean to intrude," he said, holding up a placating hand. "I just heard you crying and, er, well..." He scratched be back of his neck awkwardly.
Tell him you're fine, the angry voice inside her head demanded. Make him go away!
She knew the words would ring hollow, what with her in her current state. Not that it mattered, because she couldn't have forced the words out of her mouth anyway.
"It's nothing, sir," she sniffled, drying her eyes with the fur on her arm. "I'm... I'm just lost, and I'm trying to get home."
The Kashni grunted and nodded. "No wonder you're crying, then. Where's home?"
Adlis took a closer look at the Kashni. Despite his gruff appearance —all Kashnis looked gruff— there seemed to be genuine kindness in his eyes. Adlis dared to feel a spark of hope...
"Arborough, sir," she answered as sweetly as she could. "That's—"
"The Shadetower Woods, right?"
"Uh, y- yes, sir!"
The Kashni chuckled. "I haven't lived here my whole life, miss. I know my way around Tassendile."
Adlis smiled. "Can you—" She stopped, collected herself, and then more calmly asked, "Is there any way I could persuade you to give me and Za a ride there?"
"Mmm," the Kashni scratched his chin. "I can't take you all the way to Arborough, no."
Adlis' spirits fell.
"But I can't just leave a young woman in trouble either, can I? I'm fixing to head out to visit my nephew in Granitesdale. It's no coach, but you and your servant are welcome to ride along, if you want."
Za perked up. "I'm not her—"
"Yes, yes thank you!" Adlis shouted, dashing forward to take the Kashni's hands. "Oh holy Embin, yes! How can I ever thank you?"
The Kashni cracked a smile. "No payment necessary, miss. Just doing what I can to help."
He turned, his long, thick tail marking a trail behind him in the sand. "C'mon, I'm over this way."
Adlis watched him go for a few seconds, unable to believe her luck. She said a quick, silent prayer of thanks to Embin, then turned to Za.
"Come on," she said, pulling him to his feet.
"Miss Adlis, are you sure this is a—"
She didn't wait for him to finish, dashing after the Kashni with as much dignity as she could manage in the revealing dress she was wearing. Even so, she cringed when she caught a passing man ogling her with wide eyes.
"D'yargo," she hissed under her breath. "As soon as I get a proper dress, I am burning this unholy thing!"
The Kashni stopped in front of another carriage. Only two kashnilas pulled this one, and the kind Kashni scratched one of their long necks as Adlis approached. It was smaller than the one she'd just gotten out of by far, but it was thin and abnormally long. A row of windows ran the entire length of the carriage on both sides. She paused, a chill running down her spine.
"This is very kind of you, sir," she said, and pointed at the carriage, "but is that..."
"Hmm?" The Kashni looked up. "Oh! Yes, I, uh... I'm actually Hammeth's mortician. Trullud's my name. I'm afraid this is all I've got in the way of transportation. It might draw a few eyes, but it gets the job done." He gave Adlis a sidelong look. "That's not a problem, is it?"
Adlis blushed. "Oh, no, of course not! I just... didn't expect to be riding in a hearse. No offense."
Trullud laughed, slapping the black carriage so hard that it rocked. "None taken. Nobody does, but eventually they all end up in one anyway. There's no seats in the back, I'm afraid, but there are some curtains you can put down so that nobody's looking at you during the ride."
"That sounds wonderful, actually," she said, stepping up to inspect it closer. She felt the Kashni looking at her, and just like she always did she suddenly became agonizingly aware of how tightly her dress hugged her body, displaying her curves... not to mention her tail.
The Kashni coughed when he realized she knew he was watching her. "This here's Puela and Mag," he said, patting each of the rainbow colored lizards in turn. "A better pair of kashnilas you'll never find."
Puela cawed, and Trullud stiffened with surprise. Turning to the lizard, he made a strange sound in the back of his throat. Puela responded with an indignant squawk and jerked her head towards Adlis. Adlis eyed them both, frowning. Everyone said that the Kashnis could talk to kashnilas. They insisted it was because they were distant relatives. While Adlis could accept that much, she could never bring herself to believe that they were capable of talking to simple animals. Trullud made the noise again, followed by a couple of sharp caws, and Puela finally turned her head forward again.
"Sorry about that," Trullud said, rubbing the kashnila's neck. "Puela's not used to strangers. Thinks there's something wrong with you."
The Kashni chuckled, but Adlis tensed up, ready to run. "She's a very beautiful animal, sir."
"Ain't she, though?" Trullud put his fists proudly on his hips. "Don't worry, I set her straight."
Adlis nodded her thanks. "This really is kind of you, sir. Surely there's some way we can repay you."
"Bah!" Trullud waved his hand. "If I'm heading that way myself, no harm in taking a couple passengers."
"When do we leave, then?"
"In a few minutes. I just gotta grab the gift I made for— whoop!"
Jaminska sent another strong gust of wind through Hammeth's dusty streets, and Trullud raised his arm to keep the sand out of his eyes. Adlis reached up to hold onto her hat— and realized she was too late. It whipped off her head as if grabbed by an unseen hand and went bouncing down the road.
Adlis froze. Oh no.
"Dadgum windstorms," Trullud grumble, lowering his arm. "Wouldn't be so bad if not for the..."
His voice trailed off when he saw her. Terror raced through her veins, rooting her feet to the ground... and turning the fur on her ears white.
"Sweet, merciful Embin," he whispered.
"M- Mr. Trullud," she said, reaching out a desperate hand to him. "It's not what you think. I just—“
"Witch!" he screamed, backpedaling away from her outstretched hand. "Magic! Witch! Witch!"
Not knowing what else to do, Adlis grabbed her suitcase with both hands and swung it with all her might. It slammed into the side of Trullud's head, cutting him off mid-shriek, and he fell to the ground, unconscious.
Za was at her side in a heartbeat. "Miss Adlis, wha—"
"What's going on over here?"
Both of them looked up to see no less than a dozen people come running to see what the commotion was. Her ears tingled again as they turned even whiter. If they caught her... if they saw her ears...
"Za, drive!" she yelled, turning tail and running to the back off the hearse.
Za spun toward her. "Say what now?"
She wrenched the back of the hearse open and threw her suitcase in. "Get in the driver's seat and drive!"
"But that's stealin', Miss Adlis!"
"Hold it right there!" Adlis turned to see a man wearing the dark blue uniform of a marshal coming toward them. There was a gun in his hand. "Don't move!"
That was all the encouragement Za needed. He sprang into the driver's seat like a grasshopper, fumbled with the reins for a second, and then snapped them, spurring the kashnilas into a quick trot. Adlis barely had time to leap into the back of the hearse. The carriage bounced on the uneven sandy ground, tossing her around a bit before she managed to grab the door and slam it shut behind her. She chanced a look behind them— and screamed when a bullet punched a hole in the glass.
"Faster, Za!" she hollered. Za complied, cracking the reins again. The kashnilas sped up. Buildings whipped past them in a blur, but Adlis could still the eyes of each and every person they passed. Watching her. Judging her.
They left Hammeth in less than a minute. Adlis watched as the town shrank behind them before disappearing completely. Then she reached out, drew the curtains shut, laid down with her eyes covered, and cried.


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Kraichgauer
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07 May 2017, 6:39 pm

In the writer's group I belong to, we have all come to conclusion that one can be the very best writer in the world, and still get rejected if the publisher - being interested only in money and business - thinks there's not a market for the writing. That's why crap like The Bridges Of Madison County, the Twilight series, and 50 Shades Of Gray can get published, simply because there's a market for that sort of crap.
Sorry, I don't mean to sound as if there's no hope for success; just that, even if they don't buy your book, that hardly means you aren't a good writer.


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07 May 2017, 7:30 pm

Nah, it's cool. I know I'm a great writer (it may sound vain, but I'm not going to deny it out of false humility). It's like you said, my main problem is that I don't know if there's a huge market for what I write. That's why I didn't send them The Slayer and the Sphinx-- urban fantasy/romance might be a hot market, but human boys falling in love with a literal sphinx might not be. I actually decided to send in Juryokine instead of this. This one has strange races and an all but unused setting (high fantasy + cowboy western), but Juryokine is more in line with typical high fantasy. My goal, assuming I ever get anywhere besides writing free-to-read internet serials, is to write quality YA fantasy while also introducing them to a genre that, strangely, doesn't seem to make it into YA fiction much. Sure you have urban fantasy and paranormal romance, but how many times do you see a high fantasy book, set in a completely brand new world, marketed at teens and young adults? The only example I can think of off the top of my head, Throne of Glass, is also a horrible example (one of my most hated books of all time) so that's another thing I intend to fix.

Also doesn't hurt that Juryokine is, in my opinion, the greatest thing I have ever written. Toke's gravity altering powers may sound basic, but I actually surprised myself with all the creative ways I could use them in my fight scenes.


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07 May 2017, 9:46 pm

ThisAdamGuy wrote:
Nah, it's cool. I know I'm a great writer (it may sound vain, but I'm not going to deny it out of false humility). It's like you said, my main problem is that I don't know if there's a huge market for what I write. That's why I didn't send them The Slayer and the Sphinx-- urban fantasy/romance might be a hot market, but human boys falling in love with a literal sphinx might not be. I actually decided to send in Juryokine instead of this. This one has strange races and an all but unused setting (high fantasy + cowboy western), but Juryokine is more in line with typical high fantasy. My goal, assuming I ever get anywhere besides writing free-to-read internet serials, is to write quality YA fantasy while also introducing them to a genre that, strangely, doesn't seem to make it into YA fiction much. Sure you have urban fantasy and paranormal romance, but how many times do you see a high fantasy book, set in a completely brand new world, marketed at teens and young adults? The only example I can think of off the top of my head, Throne of Glass, is also a horrible example (one of my most hated books of all time) so that's another thing I intend to fix.

Also doesn't hurt that Juryokine is, in my opinion, the greatest thing I have ever written. Toke's gravity altering powers may sound basic, but I actually surprised myself with all the creative ways I could use them in my fight scenes.



Not a thing wrong with self confidence. That's something I tend to lack. :(


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07 May 2017, 10:00 pm

Self-confidence can be tough. For whatever reason, my writing is the only thing I don't doubt myself about. I never have-- which was a problem, since my skill never really caught up to my ego until a couple of years ago (which is in itself debatable lol)


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07 May 2017, 10:40 pm

ThisAdamGuy wrote:
Self-confidence can be tough. For whatever reason, my writing is the only thing I don't doubt myself about. I never have-- which was a problem, since my skill never really caught up to my ego until a couple of years ago (which is in itself debatable lol)


Self confidence definitely counts for something in literature, or any of the arts. James Elroy proudly proclaims himself the greatest crime fiction writer alive. And from his success, he very well may be right.


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07 May 2017, 10:50 pm

Kraichgauer wrote:
James Elroy proudly proclaims himself the greatest crime fiction writer alive.


There's always a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Saying that you're good is one thing, saying you're outright better than someone else is another-- if for no other reason than because entertainment is subjective. It isn't like a competitive sport, where the results are measurable and thereby provable that you're the best/strongest/fastest/whatever. You can't even use success as a reliable way of measuring it, or else you'd have to admit that hacks like Stephanie Meyer, EL James, and James Patterson are all amazingly talented authors. I find that people telling me they're the greatest at something in the world is a pretty good indicator that they're not that great at all. Look at Alan Moore, a guy I might have had a lot of respect for, had he not developed an ego the size of the Hindenburg. As soon as I heard him say "The Killing Joke is the best Batman comic ever made, and it's the worst book I've ever written," I lost any and all respect for him both as a person and as a storyteller.


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08 May 2017, 3:54 am

That's much better now and yes, now it looks good enough to be published by a real publisher.

You now introduce the characters in a more appealing way and there's far more action and interaction going on. It's more entertaining to read than the previous version and there's just the right amount of information to stay curious how this might go on.