Occasionally, even a “professional” makes a blunder. I found mine earlier tonight. While being ecstatic over the response to Silver Hollow (hey, it’s been my baby this past year!) I decided to go back and review the story a bit.
And I discovered something very odd indeed. Part of the first chapter was missing…
Yep, you know what that means? That however many people who bought this under free promotion (sitting at number twelve in its category woot! thanks to y’all) were reading this and probably thinking,
‘What the deuce?’
So not only did I eat a slice of humble pie tonight, after submitting the correct complete version to Amazon and my blogsite, but I realized something very important and easy to forget, a reminder to all writers out there.
Always read the first chapter through, lol. No seriously, make sure what you’re submitting is the cohesive, complete work, or you’re going to find someone who has the balls to question your professionalism. For Indies especially, this is paramount. There are plenty of people who are annoyed enough because we publish at a cheaper rate than most print companies, because we are constantly promoting ourselves to stay afloat, or just because the word Indie grates the nerves ;).
So even if you’re like I was, in the throes of a mad dash, desperate to publish. Always pause and take a breath, a step to be certain. After this lesson, I know I shall forever more!
And to all patient and lovely readers out there, do forgive us pompous big-headed authors for our shortcomings. We do make the occasional blunder!
For your viewing pleasure, I’m adding the complete Chapter 1 to this post.
Also, if you would like, I added it to Deviantart’s literature section for anyone to download 🙂 http://silverwoodsketches.deviantart.com/#/d5l4vkt
Key to Serenity
His arms wrapped round her frail, broken form. He trembled even as he gave her of his own life, his strength, and prayed it would be enough to see her eyes flutter open to him once again.
Cannons firing in the distance provided a symphony to the earth exploding on either side of the empty field. Her dress was tattered.
Could it have only been three hours since they had last clung to one another’s arms? Since she had declared her unwavering love for him?
‘Mary? Mary?’ His voice broke as he lifted her from the war-torn earth. Even now in the near distance, with the battle drawing ever towards them, he could hear the shouts of men, feel the heat of battle, see the smoke from their rifles create a—
Beep-beep-beep-beep-beep…Amie’s alarm rang with a particularly annoying jar, just enough to draw her mind and cramping fingers out of the War of 1812 and back to reality. Was it time already? She had sat down for another morning stint on her latest manuscript in her makeshift home office only a minute ago. A brief check and slap of her digital alarm proved how quickly a minute could turn into an hour. With a groan she snatched the folder and tripped on her way to the back door.
The moment shouldn’t have struck her as foreshadowing. After all, it should have been a morning like any other.
Texas heat fell over her like a wet second skin the moment she set foot outside her flat and onto the top metal step. Cars mixed and splashed the aftermath of summer rain onto the pavement downtown, barely missing her sneakers when she exited the narrow alley to the sidewalk on Main Street. Town center looked relatively the same as it had the last hundred years or so. Shops lined the sleepy square and the old courthouse marked the grassy island in between. The jail above the courthouse had been turned into a museum fifty years before. At the shaded benches nearby old men played dominoes like they did every Saturday. While the purpose of most shops in the historic city square now catered to tourism, the atmosphere of the small East Texan town remained the same.
She rushed past, sparing a nod to the usual folks, folder wrapped tight in her arms. Humidity and raw heat made her feel like she was breathing in a sauna, or through a snorkel mask underwater.
It was half past nine and she prayed the post office would be open, but she should have been here an hour ago. Allison was going to skewer her for being late again. Amie Wentworth knew her life was on the line. As in her career being chopped up by the vicious publishing house sharks and fed in scraps to the masses. At this rate she was never going to be done in time.
She picked up her pace and wished she exercised more than once a week. Being naturally skinny did not make her immune to this kind of heat. She felt every bit of that cinnamon roll she’d scarfed down for breakfast.
How does Jo handle running in this every day?
Clouds were gathering overhead, ready to break. The world was silent against the pound of her heart in her ears.
She should have broken with tradition and woken up at an indecent hour!
If these pages come in late…
It was her editor’s fault for wanting her weekly progress faxed to her greedy hands and Amie’s fault for picking someone adverse to electronic devices, A.K.A. free mail.But if she got an aneurysm from this it was definitely Allison’s fault. Procrastination had nothing to do with it. Amie just didn’t do well with deadlines. They were almost finished with this monstrosity and would have been if she were not under so much pressure.
“Oof!” She collided with a very tall wall that hadn’t been there two seconds before. The folder flew from her hands—and oh yes—the pages fluttered to soak up the rain coating the concrete. Scrambling off her sore bottom, on hands and knees she began to lurch for her most recent life’s work. “Oh no! Oh no, no, no!” Her own grumbling became incoherent and she frowned when a pair of hands joined her fishing.
“Here.” A very rough masculine voice met her ears. “So sorry, miss.” She couldn’t miss his odd accent, shadows of her dad’s Northern English…
She kept her head down, snatched the pages from his full hands and said, “Thanks a lot,” though her tone belied anything but gratitude.
That was the moment it happened, when she saw the silvery gleam of metal in the corner of her eye. One of her papers had half covered it, but there was no mistaking the shape. Excitement distracting her from the Englishman, Amie picked up the key and briefly studied it. She had been collecting keys ever since her father gave her one to her childhood diary. She had adored that old parchment-filled, leather-bound monstrosity, filled it up in only two years. Ever since he died she had taken to collecting keys, old and unique mostly. Each one represented a door or lock lost to the world. She used to fancy finding one of those lost doors one day. As a little girl she used to dream about keys, opening the doorway to heaven.
This particular piece of metal was different from anything she had found before, terrifying because the symbol engraved at its head was familiar. “Where did this come from?” she said.
“Pardon me, miss?” the Englishman said. There was something in his tone she decidedly did not like, almost as if he was toying with her. Yet the opportunity to further scrutinize his motives was quickly dashed.
Another car eased by, spraying her clothes and pages afresh with water. Effectively jerked out of her reverie, she looked up, only to bump foreheads with her new best friend. “Ouch!” she groaned. Pushing a dirty palm to her forehead, Amie grimaced.
Doesn’t this guy know anything about personal space?
She was about ready to let him have it when he interrupted.
“Forgive me my clumsiness.” His tone was amused and drew Amie’s wrath once more.
She blinked rapidly past a frown to survey the man who had just potentially ruined her life. His eyes were black, or at least so dark the pupil blended well within its iris’ shadow. Yet the longer she stared the more she saw hints and gleams of every color at their center.
Must have hit my head harder than I thought…
He stood first but offered her no hand. “I do not always look where I am going.” There it was again, that thinly veiled amusement.
She stood, soggy papers clutched to her chest, eyes narrowed. It didn’t ease her temper when the top of her head did not quite meet his chin and she was forced to glare up. “Well you should have thought of that before you saw me running down the street!” Gritting her teeth she made to walk past him. She hated his odd-almost-British-accent anyway.
Can’t run from it no matter how hard you try…
“What’s that you have there?” he said, motioning to the thin key clutched in the hand currently holding the papers to her chest.
Amie froze, knuckles white against the old metal. She had already been imagining how it would look after a good polishing. It was almost as if the man had read her thoughts. Against her will she took in his open curiosity. Sighing, she answered, “Found this under my papers.” Shifting the stack to the crook in her arm she held up her palm, displaying the key for his inspection. “See? Just a key.”
His eyes flickered back and forth from the key to her and a ghost of a grin shadowed his face. “Interesting,” he said, leaning forward as if to grab it.
Amie shrugged, denying the fact this was potentially, at a glance, the oldest key in her collection. “Just a piece of junk,” she said, enclosing the metal within her fingers. She couldn’t help the fact he had shifty eyes and she didn’t trust him. Her chapters slid against her side, reminding her she was already running late.
Mr. Englishman carefully tucked his smile back into place and clasped his hands behind his back. “Please miss. Is there nothing I can do to make amends? I see I have ruined your morning. Perhaps some…”
“No thanks,” she interrupted, “I think you’ve helped enough.” Their eyes met again and she was struck by the contradiction. This Britt hardly looked like the gentleman he was trying to be. And Amie had had more than enough of his sarcasm and strange clothes and strange looks…and that messy black hair! Didn’t the man own a comb? He even had the nerve to bow his head to her like some period-film bloke!
What the deuce?
“Very well then, if you are certain?” he said.
“I am.” She checked her wristwatch.
“I’m late. Sorry if I don’t ask for your name and let you ruin the rest of my day, sir.”
“It won’t happen again I assure you milady,” he said with a grin. Polite to the end and surely making fun of her, she ignored him and ran away.The wet pages were likely the end of her all too short career. And when she looked back down the square to find the cause, the strange man was nowhere to be found.
She managed to find the post office seconds before the rains broke free, showering the carefree world she’d breezed past in a veil of day-lit darkness. As Emilio the Xerox guy got to work on faxing her pages for her, Amie studied the key and thought of her string of bad luck that morning. It hadn’t been written in the weather, but somewhere in her gut the feeling persisted, like a permanent bad feeling. At least she’d found the key. It was heavier than she had realized the end curving and shaped into an oddly familiar Celtic shape.
With her free hand she clutched the ring on the necklace hidden beneath her shirt and froze. The symbol on the key was the same as on her ring.