60 Seconds of Midnight

If I Die

It was the perfect day for a yard sale, the kind of day where the sun mesmerized its audience by providing a magical glow to every object it touched. Jaime loved going to yard sales with her good friend Lana and was excited that they had picked such a flawless day to indulge in their shared hobby.

While others she knew would have preferred to be shopping the luxurious department stores, Jaime favored pouring over old books and antique lamps each touched by real people and their families, touched by their triumphs and tragedies. These used things brought more character to Jaime’s home unlike the factory produced junk one could snap up at any home store.

This particular event had not been in their original plans, but crept into their schedule when they spotted a man at a lazy intersection enthusiastically twirling a sign that boasted of the spectacular sale.

Jaime was perusing over some nicely framed old world maps with Lana at her side when she spotted a silver jewelry box, one that she knew well.

“Amazing. I used to have a jewelry box just like this when I was in high school.” Jaime said running her fingers along the slightly unclean salmon colored velvet interior. She noticed a small school photograph of a striking teenage girl.

“Really?” Lana responded.

“Yes, I used to love it because I hid notes from James in it.” She said as she fiddled with the bottom of the box.

“Sneaky girl.” Lana mumbled as she made her way to another table that displayed a colorful quilt.

“If you pull this compartment up here in the bottom there is a little space, perfect for hiding little not-” Jaime stopped when she noticed a folded piece of paper in the hiding space. With a careful hand, she unfolded the note and read the words that caused her suddenly unruly breath to choke up her throat.

“Twenty dollars for the jewelry box.” A man’s voice startled Jaime, who quickly balled the crumbling piece of paper in her hand. She looked up to see a man and woman standing behind the table.

The woman looked down at the jewelry box and removed the picture, “I didn’t even realize that this was still in here.”

“Is that your daughter?” Jaime stuttered.

The man took the picture and fell deep into his thoughts. “Yes, her name was Ashlyn. She died in an accident last year. Her mother has finally convinced me that we have to let these things go. Excuse me.” He said, walking away as the tears begin to well in his eyes.

“Would you like the jewelry box? I’ll cut you a deal…eight dollars.” The woman insisted.

“No, no thank you.”

“Is something wrong?” The woman asked a flushed Jaime.

“No, I’m ok, it’s just a little warm out today.” She lied as she turned away taking a few steps from the table. Jaime unfolded the note once again as she had to be sure of what she had seen and there she reread the same frightening message, If I die, my mother killed me.  –Ashlyn.

Three Things I Learned from Writing My Sophomore Novel

January 22, 2016

1. It doesn’t get any easier.

There a ton of people who have always wanted to write a book, but never do, there are probably even more people who want to be writers, but write their first book and then stop. The second book is even harder to birth than the first. You don’t have any more time than you did before, you likely have less because you are still marketing your first book and handling all of your other life tasks. Now, more than before you have to recommit yourself to the goal and to the process. You have to want it more. It seems like it’s all of the same work, but only half of the excitement. Your relationship with your writing is like a marriage, it’s not always fun or exciting, but you do it because of the love and the commitment.

2. Go completely digital.

My process used to include me typing my book, using my computer, but I would then print out my manuscript and edit manually. There was just something about feeling the paper in my hands and writing with my little red pen. After I completed my edits, I would then go into my digital manuscript with my physical copy, page by page and make all of the edits, updates and corrections. If you are doing this, stop! Now, I do everything digitally, I type my manuscript up on my computer and I use my computer to read my manuscript, making my edits, updates and corrections in real time. Go digital and stay digital during the entire process. Your time is valuable, use it wisely.

3. Edit, edit and edit again.

This is a golden rule that does not change no matter how many books you write. There is nothing worse than picking up a book and finding that something is spelled incorrectly on the very first page. Edit until your eyes are burning and your fingers are bleeding.

Writing is one thing, we love writing, that is why we do it, but writing a novel is another and the process can get mechanical and can quickly become more of a chore than a joy unless you learn ways to keep the process fresh and free-flowing.