The Secret Cartel Behind Every Great Writer

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Have you ever felt that if you’re going to make it as a writer, it’s all up to you? That it's all on your shoulders to prove yourself and your talent?

The Secret Cartel Behind Every Great Writer

Perhaps you believe you have to hide yourself in some attic in Paris and write until you come out with a masterpiece, a book so good you can get discovered by some New York publisher who will make all your writing and publishing dreams come true?

Or maybe you believe that you will have to do all the work of publishing, all the printing, promotion, and marketing, all on your own.

Almost every writer I talk to, especially struggling writers, tells me, yes, they do feel like they're trying to meet their writing goals all alone. And this one belief is limiting the careers of so many writers (perhaps yours).

You don't have to go it alone. In fact, you'll be far more successful when you join a community of writers to work together. That's what you'll do in Foundations of Publishing, our platform and publishing course. Find out more here »

My Secret

This is my story, too.

I used to believe that to be successful I had to live in some shack in Mexico and just write. When I thought of the stereotypical writer, I pictured a silent, brooding genius who keeps to themselves. A recluse who rarely ventures into the outside world except to “research” the lives of the subjects of his stories, an entire profession of Emily Dickinsons, pale and contemplative.

But the truth is that when I finally “made it,” when I finally became a full-time writer, got my first book published, and had 80,000 people read my writing in a single year, it didn't look like that at all.

In fact, I could never have done it on my own.

I have never written about this, but for a long time, I was a struggling writer with a bad blog only five people were reading. Fortunately for me, one of those people (besides my mom) was another writer, an author of two books.

I had started out as a reader of his blog first. After a few years of emailing, we became friends. He eventually mentored me.

Later he hired me for my first full time writing job and helped me find a writing coach, a former classmate who turned out to be a NY Times bestselling writer. He also introduced me to another writer he was mentoring, who edited my first book. That writer eventually became a Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

The truth is, that if I hadn’t met him, if I hadn’t asked for his help, I wouldn’t be writing to you right now.

There were many times that I wanted to quit as I built a career as a writer, as I did all of those dirty jobs, as I practiced the craft, and as I was generous but felt like no one was paying attention.

But I didn’t quit. I believed in myself. And more importantly, I had other people who believed in me. My mom. My writing mentors. Eventually my readers.

And what I learned through that process wasn’t how to be a genius author. It was that no one can do this on their own. Everyone needs a team. Everyone needs what I call a “cartel.”

What Is a Story Cartel?

A cartel sounds like a sinister thing, but the term just means this: an agreement amongst competitors.

You see, you and I could look at each other as competitors. We're both competing for the same, limited attention spans. We are both trying to get readers interested in our writing, trying to build a platform, and trying to sell our books.

We could look at the writing business like a zero sum game. If you win, that means I lose. If I win, that means you lose. I want to win, of course, so it's in my best interest to make sure you lose.

Writers act like this all the time, competing with each other for attention, resources, and praise. And honestly it's one of the biggest reason writers fail, because the truth is that's not a very good way to build a career as a writer.

A much better way is instead of acting like competitors, we could choose to act like allies. By helping each other, you and I can multiply our efforts. I give you access to my audience, you give me access to yours, and all of a sudden we've doubled our efforts.

This Is How Almost Every Great Writer Built His or Her Writing Career

As I’ve studied the great experienced writers of history, I’ve found that all of them had cartels.

From Ernest Hemingway to Virginia Woolf, J.R.R. Tolkien to Mary Shelley, nearly every famous writer had a group of writers who supported them and helped them build their career.

Don't believe me? Let's take a look at one writer whose Cartel changed everything for him: Ernest Hemingway.

The Secret Behind Ernest Hemingway's Success

Ernest Hemingway was far from a self-made man.

Early in his career as a reporter, Hemingway made friends with a novelist named Sherwood Anderson. Anderson took an interest in Hemingway, eventually helping him get his first novel published. It was Anderson who convinced Hemingway to visit Paris and participate in the artists' enclave popularized by the film Midnight in Paris.

In Paris, Hemingway met F. Scott Fitzgerald, who had just published The Great Gatsby. Hemingway had been writing short stories, but after reading The Great Gatsby, he realized that his next work had to be a novel.

Hemingway was also befriended by well-known writers in Paris, including James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein, writers who, as he said, “could help a young writer up the rungs of a career.” It was Gertrude Stein who first named their Cartel of expatriate artists “The Lost Generation,” a term Hemingway made popular in The Sun Also Rises, his first novel and the work that would make him internationally famous.

Great Artists Have Cartels

We think of great writers as silent, brooding geniuses, but the truth is they all had relationships like Hemingway had with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein. These relationships inspired them and helped them get their first works published. Far from the exception, Hemingway's story is the rule. Great artists are made by Cartels.

The good news is that today, building a Cartel is easier than it ever has been.

You just need to know how.

Get Over Yourself

As I've studied the lives of great writers, I've noticed a surprising pattern. They don't act like great writers.

  • Great writers don't act superior.
  • Great writers may be shy, but they aren't aloof.
  • Great writers help other writers.
  • Great writers ask for help when they need it.

However, I see so many new writers doing all of these. They criticize other writers. They don't read books by their peers. They may not ask for help, but they certainly don't offer it either. In other words, they act like narcissistic brats, and it's ruining their writing careers.

Hemingway did the opposite. In his memoir, A Moveable Feast, about living as a young writer in Paris, he talks about how he actively sought out the advice of other writers he knew. He read all their books. He offered to edit and compile Gertrude Stein's novel and basically single-handedly got it published (it would become The Making of Americans). He was generous, not selfish. He was vulnerable, not stuck up.

Isn't it time you started helping your fellow writers? Isn't it time you asked for their help in return? That's what it takes to start a Cartel.

A Cartel doesn't have to exchange harsh criticism or go on extended writing retreats. It's a writing group that is committed to growing and supporting each other.

It's Your Choice

Seeking out your Cartel isn't safe.

It's much safer to write on your blog that no one reads. It's much easier to send your writing out to literary agents and publishers, and then criticize them when they reject you.

Creating a Cartel is dangerous, vulnerable work. It's also the fastest way to succeed as a writer. If you want to accomplish your writing dreams, maybe it's time to stop playing it safe.

Consider our very own J.D. Edwin, who just launched the second book in her Headspace series. She took the risk to become part of our community, to share her work, and to give feedback on the work of others.

Along the way, she learned what systems worked to help her accomplish her dreams. We've been cheering her on the last two weeks as she launched Master of the Arena, the prequel to Headspace.

Master of the Arena, the prequel to J. D. Edwin's Headspace, is here!

You saw Astra fight for her life—and the fate of the world—in Headspace‘s alien arena. Now, discover the story behind the master who pulls the strings and designs each deadly trial.

Order your copy of Master of the Arena today!

Get Master of the Arena

 

Are You Ready to Find Your Cartel?

Building your Cartel is tough to do alone. That's why we created Foundations of Publishing, the online course that will help you build your platform, publish your writing, and best of all, connect with a Cartel of other writers.

The course is about the timeless way to thrive as author. This is about getting back to the foundation of what publishing, what the writing process is all about.

In the eight-week course, you’ll learn the proven process to connect with readers and influencers and live out your calling as a writer.

If you're ready to find your Cartel, this is the best way to get started. You can learn more about Foundations of Publishing here.

It's time to build your Cartel and publish your writing. You don't have to go it alone—join Write to Publish and get the guidance, support, tools, and encouragement you need.

Join Foundations of Publishing»

How about you? Have you found your Cartel? Let us know in the comments.

PRACTICE

Finding your Cartel starts through sharing your writing and giving feedback to other writers. Do you have a blog post, short story, or article you'd like to get feedback on? Share the link to your post or a (short!) section of your short story or novel in practice box below (750 words or less, please). Or set a timer for 15 minutes and write about your ideal Cartel.

Then, read the work of the other writers who shared and give your feedback. Try to mention two things you liked and one thing you didn't like about their piece.

Afterward, smile. You're one step closer to finding your Cartel.

Enter your practice here:

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

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96 Comments

  1. R.w.Foster

    I can’t wait. Going to sign up now.

    Reply
  2. Cole Bradburn

    I’ve resisted joining this long enough. I’m all in Joe!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I’m glad I wore you down, Cole. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Madison

    I’ve signed up. I genuinely needed this. I haven’t written in at least a month. 🙁

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Sad day, Madison. Glad you’re in, though. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Noe

    Are all story cartel books PDFs? I remember the first (and last) one I downloaded was. This is a major problem I have with it.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Nope. In fact, we have Kindle versions on all of our books but one this time around, and that one is coming soon.

      Reply
      • Noe

        Are these kindle versions protected under DRM? I don’t own anything that supports .MOBI files, but they can be converted fairly easily unless they’re DRMed.

        Reply
  5. Heather Marsten

    I went researching. Before I sign up, I was wondering what is the cost. I don’t want to commit and then have to withdraw because I can’t afford it.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      The cost for signing up for the free part is free. 🙂

      Reply
  6. BK Alley

    They say free a lot, but it’s not free. (Notice he’s careful to say “the cost to SIGN UP is free”). Their site is deliberately misleading, which gave me a bad feeling, so I contacted them. The problem is, my exchanges with them just made me even more uneasy about who they are. Skin crawling uneasy, in fact. I don’t mind paying for services, but they need to be open and honest about the costs up front, not lure you in with “free” and then say “Oh, by the way, you have to pay.”
    That aside, paying for good reviews isn’t particularly ethical. A writer needs to get good reviews by writing well.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Hi BK. I’m so sorry for the delay. I just saw this now. I’m sorry you got an uneasy feeling from Story Cartel, but I think there’s been a bit of a misunderstanding. In the post above, I’m talking about a free lesson from the Story Cartel Course, an online course about how to write and get published, not StoryCartel.com, the service which helps authors get reviews on their books. I can definitely see how that could be confusing though.

      As for Story Cartel, we’d be happy to answer any questions through our contact form here: http://storycartel.com/contact/create, but as for your concerns, we don’t claim that it’s free (although, in the first year of our service, we didn’t charge a fee but asked authors to provide their own rewards, which may be what you were thinking about). At this time, it costs authors $30 to launch their book on Story Cartel. We take 1/3 of that as a way to cover our costs, and the rest goes back to the community.

      One thing I want to make very clear, we don’t promise good reviews, or any reviews at all, for that matter. The site slogan is “free books for your honest review.” Readers choose the books they want to read, and then share their honest feedback, whether positive or not. We don’t believe in paying for reviews, and we certainly don’t believe in paying for positive reviews. I’ve personally gotten 2 and 3 star reviews on my books through Story Cartel, so I can attest to that.

      Hope that helps, BK. Is there anything else I can help with?

      Reply
  7. Jevon Knights

    Interesting, because I was going to post my experience about this by the end of the week. Very timely. I’ve been trying to start or join a cartel but can’t find the right group. Not many fantasy writers around here. Thank goodness for the internet.

    But not all writers are in competition thanks to genres.

    Reply
    • Jennifer McGinnis

      Really? You have a hard time finding fantasy writers? I’m writing fantasy and that’s almost all I run into. Check out scribophile.com (can I put this link or site name on here)? I’ve developed a “Cartel” through many avenues, and that is one of the best. And a LOT of fantasy writers. Drop me a scratch pad note if you join. There’s a limited amount you can do free, and it’s very cheap to join as pro. But sign up free and take a look around. (I am in no way affiliated with them except as a satisfied user)

      Reply
      • Joe Bunting

        Of course. Thanks for sharing this, Jennifer. 🙂

        Reply
        • Jennifer McGinnis

          Thanks didn’t want to step on your marketing toes or something. 🙂

          Reply
      • Jevon Knights

        Thanks Jennifer. I’ll definitely check it out.

        Reply
    • James Hall

      I’ve gathered a number of fantasy writers into Sky Writers, a group I started that meets together on Skype every other weekend. I’m always on the lookout for dedicated writers. Always love to have another fantasy writer join. We’ve got about 20 members. No pressure at all though, join any time, leave any time.

      Reply
      • Jevon Knights

        This is great, James. I’m going to join the group now.

        Reply
  8. Mara

    If the worst feeling in the world is the one where you are going to be sick, the second worst feeling is waving back at someone who is not waving at you. The snooty girl from my French class had the biggest smile on her face – she was so happy to see me, I thought – that I was sure I had totally misjudged her. I was ready to forgive all her airs and attitudes. I smiled warmly back, took off my winter gloves, and prepared to give her a huge handshake, when she shook her head at me and gestured over my shoulder at Reynard, who stood behind me with his face wreathed in smiles. I’ve never liked Reynard. Should I pretend to be looking over her shoulder at someone else, or step on Reynard’s foot? The choices presented themselves the only possible solutions: if not (a) then (b).

    Of course, those weren’t the only choices, and I think somewhere I knew that I could just admit to making a little mistake. But to a teenager, a tiny mistake like that seems the most mortifying faux pas possible. I felt the need to choose, and choose quickly. And I’m not going to hide it: I was dreadfully close to making a terrible one. In fact, I think I might’ve begun to bring my heel off the ground. But as you’ve likely guessed by now, something prevented me from picking up my foot and thrusting it onto Reynard’s. Sure, he’d been irksome to me since the fifth grade, and sure, some of his actions in the past had bordered on bullying, but it wasn’t his fault that the stuck-up girl (whose name, it occurs to me, I didn’t even know) was fond of him.

    Still, you might be asking, what stopped me from going through with it? Well, I’ll give you one clue. Just one, so that in the moment it takes before you see the answer, you can take a good guess. It was the thirteenth of November. That’s all I’m giving you to work from— do you think you know? Whether or not you’re right, you’ll find out in soon enough.

    As the girl approached Reynard, my foot – which was by this point on its ball in an almost feline manner – faltered. Something had caught my eye: a poster for World Kindness Day, situated directly underneath a wreath adorned with delicate, velvet poppies. Above both items, a blue banner solemnly displayed the words, “Lest we Forget”. Remembrance Day had been two days ago, and I felt a sharp paroxysm of compunction at having forgotten all the event stood for: how terrible war (or any violence, really) is, and how lucky we are to have peace. As if that wasn’t enough reason to reprimand myself, it was World Kindness Day: an occasion to, as the name suggests, recognize the value of compassion and try to become kinder to others. I had been on the committees for the school activities associated with both days, and still I had almost been ready to give up on all the assets I had been extolling and encouraging for weeks in a single moment. No, I couldn’t choose that course of action.

    But my mind screamed at me to choose, and choose I did. I scanned the crowd of other early arrivals to school and, as luck would have it, noticed one of my friends waving back at me. I shook my head at the haughty girl from French class and pointed at my friend, in much the same manner as she had pointed to Reynard seconds before. She seemed surprised, maybe embarrassed, but it didn’t matter to me either way. I turned my foot’s slant into a spring with which I ran to my friend, and knew I made the right choice.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Very fun story, Mara. I like that you talk about something all of us have experienced (I had this happen to me today, actually!). It helps us identify with the character.

      The solution to her problem felt a little deus ex machina to me (https://thewritepractice.com/deus-ex-machina/). You say she chose, but in reality a lucky circumstance rescued her. What would it look like if (a) and (b) really were her only options? Which would she choose if she had no other choices.

      One last thing, the World Kindness Day thing was very funny. I liked that. What if she stepped on his foot just to spite the whole thing?

      Reply
    • Joy

      Great story! Thanks for sharing. I think you portrayed the scene well. I could see it in my head. 🙂 And you definitely had me guessing with the thirteenth of November clue.

      Reply
    • Adelaide Shaw

      The story is amusing and a situation many of us experience over and over again, making a faux pas. For me, I think speaking directly to the reader is a distraction.
      Also, I had no idea what Nov. 13 meant. I don’t think it would spoil the fun if you explained the significance instead of asking the reader to guess.
      What would have happened if a real friend hadn’t appeared? I think a stronger ending would be if you braved the embarrassment with a shoulder shrug and some funny quip like, “Of course, it’s Reynard and you know the story about Reynard, the Fox, don’t you.?”

      Reply
  9. Joy

    Life is an ocean. Vast. Deep. And powerful.

    You float along this ocean, sunning yourself on the deck of your little boat on blissful days, and hiding for cover when storms rage.

    Slowly the strip of land that marked the beginning of your passage slips from view. You become better acquainted with your vessel, learning how to ride the waves of life and survive the storms.

    You sail further and further into the heart of this vast ocean of life. And then one day a startling question whispers to you as you sit alone on the deck of your boat. “Where am I headed?”

    You hadn’t considered that when you set sail. You had only dreamed of adventure. You had only wanted to sail. To be free. To live.

    You tell the question to leave you alone. But it haunts you, flitting through your mind at the oddest of times. And you still can’t answer it. You don’t know what lies beyond. You don’t even know where you are. You can’t go back to the shore you launched from. You’re on your own. You’re scared.

    The sky begins to darken and a low rumble pierces the salty air. As the fiercest storm you’ve ever fought rages against you, the answer to the question strikes your heart like the bolts of lighting in the sky. “Where am I headed?”

    Fear grips you as you realize that you are headed down. The waves are forcing your vessel lower and lower into the encompassing ocean. Yet you fight. Fight for the sake of life. Fight until your strength is all but gone, your boat all but sunk. Then you call for help.

    The storm still rages, but an unexplained peace wraps around your heart as you feel strength returning to your limp body. You continue to fight. Fight for the sake of life. And slowly the waves begin to calm. The lightening stops, and you discover that the morning has come. It dawns in brilliant hues against the clear sky above.

    The storm of the night before seems like a nightmare from your sleep. You almost excuse it as such. Yet you know it was real. You shudder at the thought of it. You remember your call for help and realize that something beyond yourself helped you survive the storm.

    Your eyes spot something on the horizon. Your heart skips a beat as you realize what it is. It’s a shore. A vast shore glistening in the sunlight. You wouldn’t have discovered it if you hadn’t survived the storm. The miracle of it all overwhelms you. You are headed somewhere. Somewhere beautiful. All you must do now is continue to sail toward that distant shore–your destination.

    Reply
  10. James Hall

    Since Story Cartel remains open to you after your first time, you can expect to see me there again, reading stories and sharing them.

    A short story I wrote at Story Cartel last time: Bystander Effect

    Because of Story Cartel, I started my own Cartel, Sky Writers. We are an international group of writers that meet biweekly to offer feedback, friendship, and advice to fellow writers. We currently have 20 active members.

    Reply
  11. Eric Pulsifer

    In some of my fiction I introduced the B.I.C. (Butt In Chair) Cartel as a group of stunted artistic types. But what’s even funnier is that soon after I started writing the thing, a few friends (a couple of writers and an artist) and I formed our own Cartel to encourage and push one another.

    Reply
    • sherpeace

      How do we sign up? I get posts in my e-mail box. Does that mean I already am signed up?
      I had planned on hiring a writing coach, but lost info on the 1st one I was interested in, made a few more contacts, then met the niece of a friend who I asked to be my coach without even knowing she was a coach! She lives in SF & I lost touch with her too!
      I also met someone at last year’s La Jolla Writer’s Conference but it seems she is too busy with family issues right now.
      Any thoughts on where I can get support for my 2nd novel “Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans”? It will be the prequel to “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador.”
      P.S. I started a writer’s group at my local library in 2010. It has grown to the point that one group started their own writer’s group & my group has a name “South Bay Scribes” & we have two groups meeting on different days. It’s amazing what can happen when you get the ball rolling!

      Reply
  12. Eliese

    I am signed up and excited. It looks really neat and helpful. Thanks 🙂

    Reply
  13. Shababa

    Hi! This is a first kiss scene & my second writing ever!

    It was a lazy Sunday afternoon. After we all had lunch, I went upstairs with my iPad. I laid down, the started reading on the couch when he came in. I sat up as he plopped down on the couch and pulled me onto his lap, his strong, warm hand wrapped around my shoulder and waist.

     ‘No, stay,’ he said softly.

     I flopped down on my back, laying my head in his lap. He  stroked my hair while gazing at me  with those dark chocolate eyes; eyes that I wanted to get lost in and never find my way back. His other arm was draped over my stomach, his fingers tracing small circles over my shirt around my hip. His touch was electric. We both were gazing at each other and I noticed he was breathing a bit hard. My wild heart was thumping like the tumbling of thunder. Then he slowly started bending down. I closed my eyes and the next thing I knew, his lips were on mine. Goosebumps covered me from head to toe. His lips felt so soft and smooth, just like I thought they would. His lips didn’t move, just stayed there for a few precious moments. I wanted to preserve the moment. That was my first kiss. My first real one. A warm rush of heaven filled me. The whole world was turning. The feeling was so beautiful, it felt unreal.

    I felt his lips move away. Oh God, what if it’s just a dream? What if HE is just a dream? No, please don’t. It would hurt so bad.

    A few minutes passed. He didn’t say anything, just kept stroking my hair. My eyes were still closed. I was too scared to let go. 

    Then I felt his lips on my forehead. He placed a soft peck there and gently lifted then lied my head on the couch. I heard him leaving the room.

    Reply
    • Adelaide Shaw

      Your first post and this post show some good writing. Description is good; your emotions are well expressed. What is lacking is a beginning. These posts feel more like scenes from somewhere in the middle of a story. Who is the Him in the first post? It almost appears that he is an intruder breaking into your bedroom?
      In this second post you need to locate the girl and boy. Are they in her house alone? If this is the girl’s first kiss, she must be young. Would her parents allow her to be stretched out on the boy’s lap? How do they know each other?
      Keep these scenes for use in a story after you have introduced and developed the characters a bit.
      Good luck.
      Adelaide

      Reply
      • Shababa

        Hi! Thnx soooo much for reading!! And they are scenes from the middle of a book I’m writing. I posted these cuz these are the first things I write and I just wanted it see if they are good! Thnx!!!!!!!!

        Reply
    • Sandra

      “My wild heart was thumping like the tumbling of thunder.”I would take out the word wild because the analogy describes well enough to me. “My heart was thumping like the tumbling of thunder.” Nice analogy though. Your words really work with the sensual feel of this piece. When you say the feeling was so beautiful. It felt unreal. I didn’t like this part because it beautiful and unreal are vague to me. When his lips moved away, and you are wondering if this is real, it is good because it shows the girl is already having a strong need for this man, but to me it comes out to fast and strong and seems a bit awkward. Other parts are really good and intense. I am not much for romance stories, but this draws me in. It is very intense.

      Reply
      • Shababa

        Hi! Thnx for reading! I’ll make the changes! 🙂

        Reply
    • Milady Diaz

      Tumbling thunder. Oh my! That made feel thing! Loved this!

      Reply
    • Muhammad Shoaib Sagar

      Cooool

      Reply
    • Laura L. Smith

      I like the writing. Saw one minor spelling error in first paragraph. I like how this first kiss story has me wondering at what age you were kissed and who is the person kissing you. The story can go in many different directions… fooling around with a married man… incest… being kissed by a man who is a psychopath… or by a charming terrorist who wants to sweep you off your feet and take you away… or a past lover you never forgot. To be continued…

      Reply
    • Lissa Yanessa

      Oh that was good. Really good. I love a good romance.

      In my humble opinion this sentence: “eyes that I wanted to get lost in and never find my way back. ” you could have gone without or maybe tried something else because it’s been overused.

      But I’d love to be part of your Cartel and share ideas. I also write romance.

      Let me know at lissa0yanessa@gmail.com

      Reply
  14. Shababa

    Hi! This my first writing ever! Plzz give some feedback! Thnx!

    I brushed my teeth, turned on the water heater, then stepped into the hot relaxing spray. It was heaven. After a long hot shower, I shut the water off, dried away the droplets with my towel, wrapped it around me, and got out. Pulling on my cute, pink baby doll nightie, I turned on my AC, climbed onto my bed and drifted off to sleep.

    I woke up to something shivering slightly against me. No, it wasn’t something. It was someone. Him. 

    Though my room was quite dark, I could still see him as the moonlight filtered through my curtained windows. He was lying on his side, facing me. His head was tucked under my chin, his face buried between my neck and chest. His perfect mouth was parted slightly, releasing warm puffs of air across my collar bones. I could feel his chest rising and falling against mine. His strong arms were wrapped tightly around my waist. Our legs tangled together. He only had his boxers on. I was enveloped in his sexy, boy smell. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put a name on what he smells like. He smells like…him. So perfect. So beautiful. 

    I was holding him, too. When had he come in? I put my hand on his shoulder. He was cold. I slowly pulled the comforter from our waist and covered his bare shoulder. Reaching for the AC’s remote from my nightstand, I turned down the temperature. 

    Slowly I brushed a strand of his ink black hair from his forehead. He had stopped shivering now. I lowered my head and placed a soft kiss on his forehead before drifting off to sleep again.

    Reply
    • Muhammad Shoaib Sagar

      It is going to be good..
      Carry on with this

      Reply
    • Laura L. Smith

      Good writing. I like how you start right in with story, made it concise, to the point, used short sentences and kept it flowing with simple language. This kept my interest peaked. I like how you don’t have subtle redundancies, don’t tell what’s not happening, and avoid the endless use of too many adjectives. Looking forward to the next installment.

      Reply
  15. Adelaide Shaw

    This is the beginning of a story which I just wrote. The story is finished, but this is as much as I’ve typed.
    THE GOOD LIFE

    Mr. Carlson, a man in his late 50’s, closed the door to his
    apartment at 8:00 a.m. on a Tuesday morning just as he did every week day
    morning. He wore a dark suit as usual, today a charcoal gray, white shirt and a
    gray and red stripped tie. In his left hand he carried a tan leather brief
    case. Nothing was different about him today
    except his shoulders slumped and his face looked drawn. Perhaps he hadn’t slept
    well or had had bad news. No one would ever know, because Mr. Carlson would not confide in anyone.

    For 23 years he had lived in the Marble Apartments and had
    seen many tenants come and go.

    He had a nodding acquaintance with some of the other tenants
    in the building and with the super and the doorman, but he had formed no
    friendships.

    “Keeps himself to himself,” Mrs. Bernardi in 4A,
    the apartment on Mr. Carlson’s left, had said to the tenants in 4C when they had
    moved into the apartment on his right. “Quiet man, he is. Plays the
    television real low. Never has company that I’ve seen. But he’s friendly. I
    mean if you pass him in the hall he’ll pass the time of day with you.”

    Like Mr. Carlson, Mrs. Bernardi was a long time tenant and
    had made his acquaintance when he had moved in.
    “I send him over some cookies or a cake now and then. He’s always
    grateful and sends me a thank you note. Very formal and polite, but, as I said,
    keeps to himself.”

    At the elevator, Mr. Carlson pushed the down button just as
    Mrs. Bernardi came rushing down the hall. “Just in time,” she said
    getting into it as the door was closing.

    Two or three times a week they rode the same elevator down
    in the morning. Mrs. Bernardi, a matronly woman carried herself well despite
    the extra pounds she squeezed into a tight corset every day.

    “Good morning, Mr. Carlson. It’s going to be beastly
    hot again. I hope the air conditioning is working at the children’s home. On
    Friday it wasn’t. Those poor kids. What they have to go through. I mean, the
    nuns do a great job, but they need more money, more volunteers. It breaks my
    heart.”

    “I’m sure they appreciate your help, Mrs. Bernardi.”

    “I do what I can.” She dug into a large shopping
    bag she carried and pulled out a flat moon-shaped Japanese fan made of rice
    paper. “You look a little poorly,Mr. Carlson. I expect it’s the heat. Here. Take a fan. I got a bunch of these for the kids.”

    “No, no. I couldn’t accept it. Keep it for the children.”

    “Well… if you’re sure.”

    Mr. Carlson nodded and stepped aside to let Mrs. Bernardi precede him from the elevator when it reached the lobby. Still holding the fan, she gave it to George, the security guard sitting behind a bank of computers. The high tech security system, installed 10 years earlier, had caused some complaints because of the rise in the rents and the worry about privacy. As time passed and crime increased in the
    city, they were glad to have Uncle Charlie’s All Seeing Eyes. That was George’s
    description of the security cameras placed in the elevator, halls,
    stairways, lobby, basement, garage and outside the building, both front and back.

    “Have a nice day,” Mrs. Bernardi called, waving an arm to include both George and Mr. Carlson.

    “Hey, Mr. Carlson,” George called. “You want this fan for the walk to the office? With the AC in here I don’t need it.” Thin and wiry, George wore a heavy sweater and still looked to be cold.

    “No thanks, George. Give it to…” Mr. Carlson couldn’t think of anyone to whom George could give the fan. ‘Give it to your children.”

    “I don’t have any. No wife, either. We divorced six years ago.”

    “Sorry to hear that. Well…good day.”

    Reply
    • Muhammad Shoaib Sagar

      It is going to be good…

      Reply
    • Dennis Fleming

      I liked the character descriptions and the sense of setting. I didn’t find the setup to the story interesting enough to want to read on.

      Reply
    • Christine

      This was an opening scene setter, but not really a “hook” yet. I think you’ll need to insert something more intriguing than Mr Carlson didn’t confide in anyone or he made no friendships. He sounds rather boring. You need to hint at why he’s chosen this solitude.

      Now if Mrs B were the main character of the story, this would work, as she sounds like an interesting person and her work at the children’s home is the most appealing line of the story so far.

      Reply
      • Sally Michelle

        Yes. good idea. Begin at an event where his personality is shown

        Reply
      • Anoushka Emson

        Yes I agree – not enough of a hook…

        Reply
    • Beverly Brown

      Good introduction. Good description of the character and setting. No reason for us to “care” about him at this point!

      Reply
    • Sally Michelle

      Try showing his age instead of telling it. Is it a retirement complex? show people talking to him and him not responding just aye or nay. is the paint peeling in his flat showing depression. Just some thoughts

      Reply
  16. EndlessExposition

    I just joined Story Cartel and I was wondering: how do you leave reviews on the books you download?

    Reply
  17. lilian

    I’ve tried signing in for the free lesson, but can’t because the reply is that my mailing list is not active. What must I do, Joe? Contact Google Mail? I don’t want to miss out on your generous offer.

    Reply
  18. Gabby

    From my book the Hunter that I am trying to get published right now.

    Chapter 1
    The beginning

    “Your mission is to hunt and kill all bloodsuckers that walk this cursed earth. Even if I am to be one I want you to kill me and even the ones left in this house, where we are right this minute. I want you to take this,” my dad handed me a homemade stake that looked crudely made. I saw him working on it earlier. It doesn’t look like he finished working on it before this all happened, “and put it through my heart, right here, right now,” He pointed to where his heart was. He took my hand placed the stake in it and placed it right over his heart, “to make sure I don’t come back. I know that you’re still learning but what I have told you will be important. But you and your journey and knowledge of what I taught you will go far beyond what you think about and what you know. I know that you will grow and you will live to tell many tales and you will be a better hunter then even myself can be. It has been written in one of my books up in my room. Don’t let anything stand in your way. Gabby, I’m sorry that I can’t be there for the rest of your life. Do not grieve my lost. More important things are happening now and they always will be. Now do it. Kill me or I will kill myself!” Those were the last things my dad said to me as he died, as I pushed the stake through his beating chest. He did not say ‘I love you’. He did not say anything about remembering him when he is gone.
    It was midnight at the time, even though the stars were not there to comfort me as they were every night after and even some nights before that. The stars missing from the dark night sky seemed to match my mood. I was not happy about what was taking place. I was not happy about losing the one person in the world that I thought I could not live without. I did what my father asked for, though. I did not grieve him, of long, I just stood up holding the bloody stake in my hand and looked down at his body lying motionless on the floor in front of me. I knew that I was crying but I did my best to not have it show much. My face was covered with dirt and I had blood on my shirt and pants. I was covered head to toe with filth and sadness. My shirt was covered with some of my blood and some of my fathers. Lucky for me vampires do not bleed much. I looked at the floor with a haze over my eyes the stake clutched so tightly in my hands that I was amazed that I was not bleeding from my hand. I looked over at the vampire that stood in the doorway watching me. My eyes were still glazed over as though I was looking too far away to see anything that happened in front of me.
    The vampire. He watched me do it. He watched me kill my dad. He laughed at me until I put that stake through his stone, cold heart without a second thought or feeling in the world. I was already empty. I had lost the one thing I cared about at his hands, he was going to pay for it. He was still laughing at me until he saw that I wasn’t holding the stake anymore. Then he looked down at his chest, saw it, then looked at me at what I have done to him. He reached out for me as if I could undo what I had just done, but I wasn’t there, I wasn’t in his sight, I was far away from that house, but still close enough to see him. I moved too fast for him. He was fearful and curious. Fearful for his life, and curious that a ten-year-old girl killed him, where he thought that I had no training in the art of combat when he should have tried to get a better though about who he was trying to kill in the first place. It goes for everything. A lion will stalk it’s prey until the time is right and by then he knows how it acts. A human who hunts death will watch for a pattern and be sure that everything he could do is not something that would be possible. I was hunting death my father had before me. I didn’t cry over his death, over my father’s death, death is a part of life as being born is part of life. He said those words to me when I was ten years old. A ten-year-old should not have to go through what I have gone through but everything is different. Those few words are my life and my will to live. I was sad, very sad even if I looked blank with tears streaming down my face for the better part of a week. But no that I know, now that I know that even killing death will not bring him back to me I was, in a weird way, glad that I had killed him, glad that I had killed the beast that was in my home.
    I was born a hunter. I was trained to fight and kill. Not fight and injure, or even fight just of the hell of it. I was fifteen years old at the time of this history when this whole thing started. And I will never forget what my dad said in his last minutes and his last breaths. But my mother left this world shortly after he had his leave of it, and I am all alone. In the time I had with my father he showed me a lot. I was not his daughter, I was his soldier. And he knew it too. He even said that to me more times than I can count. Other fathers told their little girls they love them, mine told me to fight harder. He taught me never trust a bloodsucker, always kill them, know who is alive and who is dead, he was so disappointed when he saw me last. From that moment in my life, I could not have a normal life. I could not go to school. I could not find a friend. I could not trust anyone. I killed everyone that I knew was one of them. I couldn’t go out of my house because they were everywhere, even when the sun was up. That’s how they fit in with normal humans they walk outside during the day. But I didn’t run into them much. I am and always will be a night person. It is when most of them are out. Even though my life has changed from the course it was supposed to take I still hunt the bad ones even if tat means that I only kill them.
    I learned fast after that. The moment that I almost jumped headlong into trying to be normal and give up hunting to try and learn things at a school with other kids and play nicely I realized that I was not meant for that. I was not meant to be nice and play nice. I was mean to be mean and harsh and try to kill everything that is still living after death. I was meant to fight and kill. That is what was written in my blood. That was what I was supposed to be. I was not supposed to be a normal human being. It just was not right to give up this chance I had that was through my way from birth. It was my right to hunt and kill and not to be hunted. I walked outside in the middle of the day once ad only once. That was the last time I saw that old house of mine. The last time I saw anything that I would remember and left for good. And it all started with a note put on my door by people I had no clue what or who they were. I snatched the note off my white peeling door and started at the words. It said, ” Dear Gabby, I know that you are in there. In this old house that used to be yours. I know that you are questioning how I know you. But fear not I am one of the good guys. I want to help you with your preassigned destiny. Meet us at the old lab that is close to your house and we will pick you up from there. We need you. I will send someone there every day until you show even if that means telling us no.” The note ends like that I looked up at my house once more before I go to this old lab that they were talking about.

    Reply
  19. Jacques Gaudreault

    Joe I tried to sign up but both sign up link appear to be broken….Thanks

    Reply
  20. Joseph Dabon

    Nice piece of writing, Very readable and sensible. I wish articles are as easily digestible as this.

    Reply
  21. TerriblyTerrific

    I think it is better to be an ally than it is to be an enemy in this field. We can be more confident in our writing. And, let every one have their own shine. Thank you for this article.

    Reply
  22. Stephen Flynn

    Hello,
    I am truly an aspiring writer. While I do have a blog in its infancy and a short book on Kindle (By The Age Of Fifty: Things Men Should Know), I want to write more. I have so many ideas and this seems it may be a great place to begin or continue my journey. I am truly looking forward to interaction. Thank you for this opportunity.
    Stephen

    Reply
  23. Leola

    Thank you so much for this opportunity, Mr. Bunting! This, I hope, will help me improve my already written stories and maybe help me finish my novel I’ve started. I want to become an English teacher, and writing I hope will help me on that journey. Thanks! ~Leola Belowe

    Reply
  24. Damola Curtis

    this poem has me writing enough to make a book:

    I can still taste you – you left drippings, like honey running down my mind, tasty memories I rehearse again and again.

    I cannot defend this life – you’ve bulldozed your way in with tender determination, a gentle rain against my stony heart.

    It’s an art. A beautiful one, full of hazel sunrises flashing with each twinkle and crinkle that leads to your soul.

    Awash in the green light brightening the night of my emotions, I fall into the picnic of exquisite quicksand you constantly beckon me towards.

    Reply
    • Muhammad Shoaib Sagar

      Good attempt! It carries a good theme.

      Reply
  25. Muhammad Shoaib Sagar

    It is the first paragraph of the story, which I have completed.

    “The Human Line’s in Danger”

    Arham’s family was fasting for several days bounded in home. Their empty stomachs were crying soundlessly. Arham had gone out, dodging the family members.
    Duz–Duz–Duz, the door of his house was opened with an immense jerk, and a bullet let him one more chance to live. He entered the house with discontinues breathing and sweated forehead, said, “Don’t you worry my pretty sister! I have gotten something to eat–close the door! Close! Close! Hurry! The Cruel people are after me.”
    “You are bleeding, brother.” said his younger sister who was of 6 years old.
    It was the first bullet, which let him alive, but the second one had made a hole in his shoulder, while the third one in the door.

    Reply
  26. SeekAnswers

    Joe is Bang On right in saying that we writers should should work together. We’ll share skills & knowledge, and grow our common marketplace. Let’s get more people more excited about words… and LESS excited about TV series, shopping, or online gaming!

    Books are a discretionary purchase and the desire to read can never be satiated. How many books can a person justify purchasing? An INFINITE number. Writers are not like manufacturers of cars or home appliances – where the market size has an upper roof, and therefore all players must compete directly with one another.

    Joe is mistaken when he calls us a cartel. A cartel is a closed shop of Big Players that are protected from competition by barriers to entry and other unfair advantages. The online community of writers is the opposite of a cartel. As I said above, competition “between” writers does not exist – every new writer that hits the scene actually GROWS all of us, rather than hurting us.

    On the topic of Hemingway, here’s everything that any reader needs to know about Modern Literature:
    https://www.henrymakow.com/2015/03/CIA-Manufactued-Modern-US-Literature%20.html
    http://mileswmathis.com/papa.pdf

    Enjoy your Red Pill moment, Everybody!

    Reply
  27. Jolynn Stults

    There was a small surgical room next to Dr Linda’s office. Around 1:00 P.M. Dave and I went back to get the biopsy. She did a local anesthesia and we chatted away while she removed the “almond” I asked her what it looked like and she said it was dark green and black. I thought that was a weird thing to find in a breast but still cancer never entered my mind. Anyway she left me there on the table while she froze the sample and looked at it under a microscope. When she came back acting surprised and apologetic, she said “you have a cancer” I said “A cancer? She explained there are over 100 cancers and some are fast growing and some are slower growing. We need to talk about treatment right away.

    Reply
    • Christine

      Interesting story. Is this part of a memoir?

      Done as an outpatient surgery — I doubt that would happen here. For my “walnut” I had to go into surgery. The surgeon waited for the results of the biopsy, and when it was cancer he went on to do a mastectomy. I only learned the results when I woke up.

      Reply
    • Linda Cobourn

      I’d like to gently suggest that this begin with more of a “hook”, such as “You have cancer.” Then you could give your reader the description of the almond shape and the treatment options.

      Reply
  28. Laura L. Smith

    Here is excerpt from my manuscript Seven Degrees of Drama

    On a cool fall night, Lisa’s family and friends showed up for her house party. One guest, Paulo, lived across the street. He had an athletic build, blonde hair, and blue eyes. Paulo and Joe both worked at the same electronics plant department. Joe worked evenings and Lisa occasionally invited Paulo over for a beer and to play video games with the kids. Joe didn’t know about Paulo’s visits.

    During the party, Lisa flirted with Paulo in view of her father-in-law, George. She was trying to get even for the time when he called to ask her to fool around with him.

    “I don’t mess around with married men.” said Lisa.
    “But,” said George, “You’re a hot looking woman who doesn’t cake on make-up and wear tight clothes on a fat body like Marilyn does.”
    “And you nothing but a narcissist, balding, pot bellied, old geyser!”

    Lisa hung up and called her friend Sherri.
    “Gross!” said Sherri. “You need to surround yourself with a protective aura anytime you go around him.”
    “I will.”

    Lisa’s flirting pissed off George. But he said nothing because Marilyn was there. An hour after arriving, George and Marilyn left. Afterwards, Paulo invited Lisa, and her sisters Deanna, Jean, and their boyfriends over to his house to play pool. Inside the house Lisa lit up a cigarette.
    “No smoking in the house,” said Paulo’s roommate. “You have to go outside.”
    Lisa walked over to the arcadia door where Jean was sitting.
    Lisa opened the door. “Jean, I’m going out to smoke. Let me know when you guys leave.”
    Jean nodded.

    A full moon illuminated the backyard. Lisa saw a chaise lounge chair on the grass, walked over and laid down. She noted the moons beauty before passing out. When Lisa awoke the moon had moved. She lifted her hand and saw an unlit butt. The arcadia door opened and she thought it was Jean. Instead Paulo came out and walked over.
    “What are you doing here?” said Paulo.
    “What time is it?”
    “Twelve thirty.”
    “Oh my God! I must have passed out!”
    “It’s okay,” said Paulo. “I’ll let you out through the house.”

    They both heard a car stop on the other side of the fence.

    “Lisa, are you back there?” A man shouted.
    “Who’s that?” said Paulo.
    “Oh my God! It’s my dad!”
    “He yells at you like that?”
    Lisa nodded.
    “That’s bullshit!” said Paulo.

    Lisa said nothing and ran over to the back gate and opened it.
    “I’m back here!”
    “Get your ass home now!” said Lou.
    “Lou!” said Ellen, Lisa’s mom, from inside the van. “You need to be quiet! Let’s go!”
    “Well she has no business whoring around!”
    “Lou!” Aunt Patty said. “You should be ashamed calling your daughter a whore!”
    Lou ignored his sister. “How dare you leave the party to go whoring around?
    “Didn’t Jean tell you where I was?”
    “No!” Lou said.
    “Hey, Lou!” Joe said walking towards Lisa. “You don’t call my wife a whore!”
    Lou got back in the van and drove away.

    “Hey Paulo!” Stay away from my wife! I mean it!”
    “There was nothing going on!” said Paulo. “I found her asleep in the backyard!”
    “Yeah, right!” Joe said as he grabbed Lisa’s hand.
    “Well, it’s true!” Lisa said.
    “Bull shit” Joe said. “All I know is you were gone for two hours!”
    “Geeze!” Paulo said. “I feel sorry for you Lisa! You call the police if he touches you!”
    “She’s not going to call anybody asshole!” Joe said looking back. Paulo went back inside his house and slammed the door.

    Once home Lisa saw Janice and Danny crying on the couch. They got up and ran over to hug Lisa.
    “We’re you over there screwing that asshole?” yelled Joe.
    “Don’t yell at mom like that!” said Janice.
    “Kids go get in bed.” Lisa said.
    “Will you be okay mom?” said Janice.
    “I’ll be fine. Go to bed.”
    The kids went to their rooms.

    “Did you screw that asshole?” said Joe.
    “No! I fell asleep in the backyard!”
    “I don’t believe you! Everyone was out looking for you! We were about ready to call the police. Then I see you coming out that asshole’s backyard!”
    “Go to hell!” Lisa turned and walked towards her bedroom.

    Joe grabbed Lisa’s arm, turned her around, and raised his hand.
    “You don’t tell me what to do bitch!”
    Lisa broke free and made a fist.
    “You hit, I call the police!”
    Joe lowered his hand.
    “On Monday when you get to work you’re going to tell your supervisor to move you to the second shift so I can keep an eye on you. If you don’t, then I’m going to divorce your ass!”
    Joe then left the house and drove away in the truck. The kids came into the room.

    “Are you okay mom?” said Danny.
    “Yes, I’m fine. Come on it’s time for bed.”
    “Is dad coming back?” said Janice.
    “Yeah, he’ll be back.” Lisa kissed and hugged both kids and they went back to their rooms.

    Lisa turned off the lights and locked the doors. In bed, the anger set in and she said a long prayer to God. It calmed her down and she fell asleep.

    Reply
  29. Christine

    I’m working on a series of short stories involving two women doing the tourist thing together. Winnie’s a prudish and rather grouchy sort, but she has a bit of wit to share occasionally. Her cousin Raylene tries to bear patiently with her. In this scene Winnie’s back home visiting with Ernie, a local widower she has her eye on. I’ve called it Winnie and the Genie:

    “I found it in them bushes right over there when I was looking for a catbird I’d been hearing.” Winnie waved toward some shrubs. “It was the oddest bottle I ever saw! I wondered if it was empty, so I uncorked it and Poof! This young female’s standing there saying she’ll grant my every wish. You can’t imagine how shocked I was, Ernie. But one good look at her and I says, ‘Back in this bottle right now, young lady. You have no business being out in public in an outfit like that.’ ”

    Ernie’s jaw dropped. “She could have made you rich, Winnie! New house, fancy clothes…”

    “Clothes? Ha! That girl couldn’t even clothe herself. You should have seen that skimpy outfit! No…on second thought your ol’ ticker might’a stopped right there.”

    “So what did you do with that bottle anyway?”

    “I tossed it in the lake. Sure wouldn’t want some man finding it and seeing her in that get-up.”

    The next morning Ernie headed for the coast and drove down to the shore. Entering a shop near the beach he pointed to a sign and asked, “How much for them there scuba diving lessons?”

    Reply
    • Linda Cobourn

      What an intriguing story! I like the reality of the dialogue and the belief that the Genie in the bottle was real. A suspension of reality there. I can see where the story is headed with Ernie out on the lake searching for the bottle. Can’t wait to hear what Winnie has to say!

      Reply
      • Christine

        Thank you. I did another Winnie and Ernie tale for today’s The Write Practice exercise. I have half a dozen Winnie stories written already; someday I’ll get them all together on my blog. Some folks seem to like the rather prickly Winnie.

        Reply
    • Beverly Brown

      The flow of the dialog was interesting. I was hooked when he popped open the bottle! I wasn’t sure how she got back in the bottle! Would like to “see” her facial expression when he rejected he! Was she just compliant?

      Reply
      • Christine

        It was Winnie, a widow, who found the genie and then ordered her back into the bottle because Winnie’s old-fashioned and shocked at the genie’s outfit. Whether Ernie ever located the bottle in his scuba diving lessons we don’t know at this point — though he was obviously hoping to.

        Reply
  30. Elizabeth Mahenge

    Hi. I am happy to be part of his community.
    I am from Tanzania.
    I would like to be a best author.
    I have my three manuscripts completed. They are about learning a new language….KISWAHILI. Every book covers one level from beginner, intermediate and advanced. I would like to share with you guys so as to get your comments. But the problem is not activating my account. I have tried several times but I have succeeded NOT to activate my account of CARTEL….Please advice. Thanks

    Reply
    • CJ Ogolla

      Hi Elizabeth
      You become my first cartel. I am from KENYA. I am a
      published author in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda for their primary schools
      curriculum.(MATHEMATICS). Now working on stories (readers for the same
      market)
      I would like to read your work.
      Hope to hear from you at ogollacj@gmail.com

      Reply
  31. MrBillyD

    I am already a member of several writers websites, including webook.com, fanstory.com, fanfiction.net, and others, where my writing has been read by a large number of other writers, who have left hundreds of very positive feedbacks. I also have a few self published books available on amazon.com; of which less than a dozen copies have been sold. This has led me to the conclusion that no matter how good any writer’s work is, he or she shouldn’t leave his or her day job.
    Now after reading about the importance of being in a “cartel”, it sounds good. I’ll give it a shot, but cautiously. I’ll see what happens.

    Reply
  32. Paige

    When fourteen year old, Bexley, goes to visit her grandparents in Cannon Beach, Oregon one summer she bumps into fifteen year old, Quinton. They think nothing about it as the summer passes and she goes back to her house. It wasn’t until the following summer that they bump into each other once more. This time they decided it wasn’t an accident. They decided to to spend the summer together. Going to the beach, getting ice cream, watching movie at the old theater. But once the summer is over life goes back to normal as if they never met. As the years pass and Bexley’s grandfather has a heart attack. Seventeen year old Bexley if the first to rush to her grandfather’s side. And who does she find there on her little trip . . .

    Reply
  33. Felisa Daskeo

    Hello, thanks for this site, I am able to share my writing stuff. I have published my short story collection in kindle and createspace but i am not satisfied writing short stories so I created my first Novel in English. English is my second language so I am not so confident about my use of the words. But anyway, here’s the first page of my Novel. Thanks for reading.

    He only stood to get the phone on its tenth ring. And when he held the receiver in his hand, the feel of it made him wince. Even the sound was not anymore music to his ears but the sound of doom. He began hating the sound that he used to love. It was like the sound of death now.

    Putting the receiver to his ear, he heard a woman’s voice reverberating in his ear.

    “Mr. Arguelles? May I have this opportunity to …..?”

    Without finishing her words, Michael hanged the phone. He looked at the receiver as if it was the scariest thing he had seen in his life. It had been three frantic days and the phone was ringing non-stop. The Michael Arguelles name was all over the newspapers and magazines. And the social networking sites were feasting on his identity . His life became a mix-up, all muddled and turned upside down, and the only thing he wished was peace. But, peace was so far from his grasp because everybody was bombarding him and they were all feasting on him like ants on sugar. And it hurt like hell.

    Reply
    • Beverly Brown

      I was hooked by this intro. I would like to hear the rest of the story. Not quite enough action though! Were the reporters outside or at the door. He could have removed the phone from the hook perhaps, as a start then progress on to the banging on the door and peeking through the windows. LOL! That would scare anyone!!1

      Reply
      • Felisa Daskeo

        Thanks.Beverly Brown. That’s a helpful suggestion and perhaps I could add that or perhaps a little revision will be better.

        Reply
    • CJ Ogolla

      Great description of scene and actions. I can see him holding the phone. I can feel his dilemma, whether to receive or not.
      Short sentences. clear messages.
      Great suspense. making reader want to read more.
      Good choice of vocabulary and phrases and repetitions
      – scariest, muddled,
      peace was so far from….
      feasting on his identity- feasting on him like ants on sugar.
      I love your style so far.

      Reply
      • Felisa Daskeo

        Thank you CJ Ogolla for a very positive comment. I’m inspired to keep editing this novel of mine and hopefully it could soon be published.

        Reply
        • CJ Ogolla

          Welcome. Unfortunately, I cannot share what am working on because it is in an African indigenous language. But soon I will.

          Reply
          • Felisa Daskeo

            Hope you can translate it in English and share it with us.

  34. Beverly Brown

    Honor Amongst Friends
    “OK., Miss Rookie, have at’em. See what you can find.
    DUTY ROSTER: CHECK PREMISES OF POSSIBLE CRIME SCENE.
    CALL IN: DOOR FOUND OPEN ALARMSOUNDING. NO OCCUPANTS.
    “Tall ,dark and silent type are you, officer Marge?”
    FINDINGS: SCENE INVOLVED A ONE BEDROOM APARTMENT EAST SIDE.
    “Just pop out the old pen and start your report, huh? Remember we don’t
    need a novel. Just the facts,” he said.
    If only I had known this would be our last day on the force. I might. have just
    stuck to the facts. I might have even talked more. His abrupt manner of speaking,
    first of all, had upset me and secondly, he wouldn’t let me say anything my first day
    of training as a detective the day before. Said I’d learn more with my ears than with
    my mouth. That fatal day later, he was more right than he’d ever know. I haven’t
    spoken sense. I write this in his honor. I was determined the report would be perfect…! continued…
    DOOR OPEN UPON ARRIVAL.ON WALLTO THE RIGHT A 1FT BY 2FT
    BLACK FRAMED COLLAGE OF PHOTOS. TWO CHILDREN, BOYAND GIRL AT
    DIFFERENT AGES. POSSIBLE AFRICAN AMERICAN OR HISPANIC. OTHER
    ADULTS ALSO. PARENTS? GRANDPARENTS? HEAVY SMELL OF JASMINE.
    “What are you writin now?”he asked, looking over my shoulder.” Can’t you
    tell Mexicans when you see ’em? Listen, You start with the bedroom. I’ll do a quick
    run of the rest of the apartment. Maybe we can get a fix on the occupants.”
    I can see his large halking redheaded figure going through the rooms now.
    Poking into drawers and moving about like a bull in a china shop. The guys down at
    the station say we look like Pop eye and Oliveoil. I think I sound like her too.
    BEDROOM AREA:APPROXIMATE 10ft.xlOft. CARD ON DOOR WITH NAME,
    JANIECE PRINTED WITH SCRIPTURE BELOW IT.
    “Joy cometh in the Morning” ‘Yea,’ I thought passing that sign later that night ‘If
    only I make it to the morning’

    Reply
  35. Sally Michelle

    Can I put my story here?

    Reply
  36. Kris McPeak

    Hello everyone! This is part of a blog post/free ebook that I’m putting together for my site when it launches at the end of this month. Thanks for any feedback you can provide 🙂
    Kris

    Do Something Selfish For Yourself Every Day
    The word SELFISH can be misleading. The definition according to dictorary.com is “devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.” Most of us were probably taught by our parents to not be so selfish. To think of others before we think of ourselves. While being kind and giving and helpful are all wonderful things to be, there comes a time when we must think only of ourselves. Self-care is so incredibly important to living a balanced life and having some sort of alignment with the world. How can we be any good for anyone else if we can’t take care of ourselves? As Eleanor Brown said, “Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
    We spend so much time doing for others. We wake up and maybe make coffee for our significant other…or breakfast for our kids. Do we belong to the carpool for our office? Then maybe it’s our turn to drive to work. Get to work, attend a meeting, cover for our colleague, do a new project for our supervisor. Take a client to lunch, or maybe we’re so busy taking care of work tasks that we do lunch at our desk. Run quick errands on the way home and make dinner for our family, or maybe you’re working late. The point is…we go through day in and day out and don’t always stop to quote Janet Jackson and say, “Hey, Self, What Have You Done For Me Lately?” I’ve been telling young professionals for the past few years, make sure you do something selfish for yourself every day. How do we begin to do that? The mission of this book is to provide several suggestions and opportunities to indulge in the very necessary “skill” of self-care that is appropriately selfish.
    1. Exercise and/or MOVE before you go to work. Get that exercise out of the way before your day begins.
    For years I have been telling myself that if I don’t work out before I go to the office, it doesn’t get done. And WOW, do I feel good when I do this! Even today I told my husband, “when I try to stay in bed tomorrow, make sure you remind me how good I’m feeling right now!” It sets the pace for my day and keeps the metabolism working until it’s time to go home and really wind down. I love that I can get the body moving early and I really just feel great when I have accomplished a good workout early in the day.
    2. Leave for work a few minutes early so you can treat yourself to that favorite Starbucks drink before you plop yourself into your cubicle or desk chair.
    Even as I’m trying to give up coffee and dairy products, there is something about your favorite coffee drink – or tea, or Slurpee, or Fountain Drink – that can really change your mood. So go for it. For me, I actually like going to the Starbucks near my campus because the people there are so amazing. They always call me by name and most of the time they know exactly what I want to drink. But the same could be said for a great many places that we visit on a regular basis. Do YOU have a favorite convenience store where they know you? What about restaurant, bagel shop, anything like that? Because it isn’t always just the beverage or snack that is uplifting, it’s actually knowing that someone behind the counter knows who you are and what you like to drink. I guess what I’m really trying to say is, feel free to treat yourself in the morning (or evening!) before you go to your job or office, and why not become a “regular” somewhere? Right?
    3. Take a walk during lunchtime.
    I did this every day for close to two years during the time I was a “Walking Commuter.” I wore my Nike Fuel band with pride and let it guide me through the day in order to get those ten thousand steps in each day. It would tell me “Go Kris Go!” and “Win the Hour!” Taking that break, getting out in the open air and sun does wonders for your mood! If you can’t walk during lunch time, try to instead take five minute breaks every hour. That will also do wonders for your mood AND your health. I recently listened to a podcast from Shawn Stevenson (The Model Health Show) which referred to Sitting as the New Smoking. We need to be active during the work day or we are going to be in big trouble. Frequent sitters have a higher risk of heart disease, obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, and depression. Frequent sitters are also susceptible to musculature issues. So listen up, people! Get out there and walk!

    Reply
  37. Anoushka Emson

    This is the short and long synopsis for my book proposal. Any feedback would be amazing…(ops)

    A.Maz.ingly Lost is about Anoushka’s escapades with men. A self-confessed love addict, Anoushka has compulsively been in relationships since she turned fifteen. Jumping from one knight in shining armour to the next, she believes a man will save her. Alas, as she deepens into any one of her relationships, she loses herself, in differing twists and turns. Until she realises what she is looking for is within.
    ———————————————————————————————————————
    In-depth Synopsis:

    Would you rather be with a hot philanderer, the popular Varsity douche bag, anyone, than no one? Is it unbearable for you to be single? Do you say yes when you mean no?
    Have you spent money you don’t have on your hair, clothes or make up to be more ‘perfect’ for a partner? Do you find yourself thinking, if I were prettier, thinner, cooler…he would want me? Are you unsure who you are in relationship?

    Then you may find yourself in here…

    Anoushka finds herself in a dark place when her long-term boyfriend with whom she recently bought a house wakes her at 4am. A night out with the boys has gone horribly wrong….again. Couple counselling leaves the relationship shattered and forces Anoushka to reevaluate her life. In a bid to hold on to her knight, a trip to an Indian ashram and a change of career ensues but this drives them further apart. After 10 years of being a half of a couple, she has no idea who she is. The process of reclamation is painful so to avoid her lostness, she hops from one man to the next. From Toxic Mark to Ben on a Bender to the ever so Prince Charming, her stories are both entertaining and desperate. She continues to look for love in all the wrong places until eventually she has her frog. And yet all is not a bed of roses. When love finds her, it’s not packaged as she’d expected. The soulmate she’s been looking for is within. There is no knight in shining armour. She will need to rescue her own princess from her ivory tower. Thankfully, she meets a man who isn’t willing to put on the armour, but is willing to be the horse.

    Anoushka’s stories about her experiences with men, demonstrate some of her craziness. Her hope is you will relate to her in her ‘topsy turvey-ness’ and be able to find yourself less alone. Her vision is that you too will become more comfortable with your own messiness, unmasking the veils of perceived perfection and sharing your imperfect self with those around you.

    Reply
  38. Pastor Wanda D. Cleckley

    Making Skeletons Dance

    This Note is quite interesting, it’s contents actually blindsided me, I just wasn’t expecting it. As we are coming out of the Halloween season, I have been particularly interested in negative energies, evil spirits and ghosts, if you will. This writing didn’t come to me in this subject but it fits and I am elated. How many of us have tombs of skeletons in our past that are just waiting to be released by accusation, low self esteem and depression, by hateful, insensitive people, who don’t know what to say out their mouths. These energies, if you will, wait for the right moment to begin their menacing attack on our thoughts because it knows that you have not done the work to clean out your inner closet. The place where your deep dark supposedly “secrets” exists that no one knows about. The part of you that you won’t forgive yourself or you believe that someone will always blame you and think of you in a bad light – that part.
    Recently and quite unintentionally, I disturbed the bones of someone else. It created a full blown resurrection of things long past, behaviors longed changed and energies that should have been rendered powerless (in my thinking) for them at this stage of life.
    The reality is if you don’t do the work the work will do you. I speak candidly about my life, my childhood, my failures, my inability at times to be a good mother, sister, parent, friend or person for that matter. I was horrible, I hated myself, everyone and everything. But ladies and gentlemen, that was my stuff. My first step for healing was that I could stop making bad decision by starting to make better ones. My second step was to admit that my worst behaviors were experiences, choices I made based on what I knew and thought, at the time. I was wrong and there is nothing I can do to change one yesterday but I canforgive myself and pray that others might forgave me. Is the process over, no, but we continue.
    You can’t remind me of who I was and what I did and it still has the same power of guilt, shame and pain over me like I was doing it today. No, I am a woman who survived hell, death and the grave and lives to tell others they don’t have to go through what I did. But if they do, they choose to go anyway – so what? That’s why we serve a God of living water that can put out the fires of our bad decisions and our sin sick soul. Depression is anger turned inward and when we practice better self care, compassion, forgiveness and are gentle with ourselves the days get easier and how we think about our failures – past and present – it gets easier to deal with them too!
    My admonition to everyone who would read this is – let the past be the past. If someone remembers how you use to be – so what? You did it, it’s done, you are sorry – move on. I will always remember my life, and I will always remember the struggle of those who grew past the pain, struggle and low thinking to create a healing environment for themselves and others. No, we won’t escape this life mistake free but we can turn the lights on in our soul, clean house and remind the skeletons that they have no power – so go ahead and dance!

    Reply
  39. Melody Martin

    I have published my first book.I previously published a short help book for parents of children who use drugs. The information therein is outdated and no longer valid. The one I published is erotica/life story fiction.I am approaching the finishing of the second, it is a detective story. The title is “The Stark Reality” and it is revealed on the last page of he book. I use real places and as much reality as I can. The characters are purely fictional. I have hit points where I get stalled but then I sleep on it and the next day words just flow from my keyboard to the screen. Wish my luck.

    Reply
  40. Pastor Wanda D. Cleckley

    I put a story here but I don’t see it. I wanted you all views?

    Reply
  41. Farhin

    Hello, I am from India. It has been my long cherished dream to be a writer and have been writing stories for long. my first novel got rejected by many publishers but am still trying. I don’t know what’s wrong with my stories. The following is one of my writings.
    A Moment in Rain

    It might be the damp weather that was responsible for my clueless half-awake state when I woke up. It was raining heavily…a part of me wanted to stay at home and enjoy the rain, while the other part wanted to run to school. I felt anxious and had a sick feeling in my stomach. I didn’t know why. I felt a bit awkward and Papa even asked me whether I will be able to go to school or not. I assured that I will be able to go. I didn’t want to miss seeing my crush or rather my first love. He was the reason that I started loving school all over again.
    It was pouring outside and Ma advised me to stay back but I ignored her. I wanted to see him. He may not come today but what if he comes? When I sat in the school bus, the warm humid air inside the bus made me nauseous. When I opened the window the rain water lashed at my face but I kept it open; it helped me to stay awake. I wanted to get away from that crazy anticipation that had gripped my heart.
    When I reached school, I wasn’t surprised to see the playground empty, the corridors, the empty classrooms seemed like they got their soul sucked out of them. It was raining so hard that the other end of the playground wasn’t visible. It was as if a very thin layer of a curtain has been put up across the playground. It seemed it was another world; a world which was deficient of colors, a world hiding something interesting beyond the wall of translucent droplets. Somehow a feeling for the one who was not there was bubbling inside me. I was staring at the ground when someone punched the soul out of me. I turned around with my fists clenched tight ready to give a punch or two but I stopped. It was Soma, the tallest girl of my class.
    “What are you trying to do? Early in the morning, why are you attacking me?” I asked, massaging my arm.
    “What are you staring at? Is your crush’s ghost playing out there in the rain?” Soma said, nodding her head with a mischievous smile playing on her lips.
    I grinned. “Nah, I was just observing the empty playground.”
    “Oh dear someone is in a poetic mood today. So, Miss Keats shall I carry you to the class or will you prefer to walk along with me?”
    “I prefer to walk.” I had no intention of being carried by her. I was on the verge of vomiting.
    “Hey, by the way, are you not feeling well? Usually you jump around screaming and shouting, what happened?”
    “Do I look sick? I feel awkward. It’s like…I can’t explain properly…I am anxious, afraid, sad, happy…I am confused.”
    “That’s what happens when you are in love, bro.”
    “Yeah, yeah …in love…hah…I just hope he comes today.”
    “I heard most of the morning trains are cancelled today and even if they are running, they are frightfully late. So the probability of him coming to school is 1 out of 10. Sorry for crushing your hopes of seeing your crush.”
    “Thanks for the news, I am abubble now.”
    “Ha, anytime bro.”
    I sat at my place. Unfortunately I had to sit at the first row. There was only 5 minutes left for the school gates to get closed. I clenched my fists. The teacher came in with the register. My inner goddess was biting her fingers off. I heard footsteps in the corridor. I was filled with anticipation again. Some other classmates came but not him. The last bell went off which was a cue for the gates to be closed and the teacher to take attendance.
    Since our class was near the school gates. I could hear the huge iron door clang shut. The collapsible gate was closed too and so did the other two gates which were visible from our class.
    I heard someone running towards our class. I stared at the door and prayed hard for some miracle. The teacher repeated what Soma already told me. I cursed myself for coming to school. The one who entered was not him but some other person. Damn, why am I even praying?
    The teacher started to call the roll numbers. With a sinking feeling I accepted that he was ABSENT. The class was empty and the emptiness seemed to scream into my head.
    “Since most of the students are absent why don’t you all say your roll numbers. I will mark those.”
    One by one we started telling our roll numbers.
    “Roll number 3.”
    “Roll number 4”
    “Roll number 20”
    “Roll number 18.”
    “Roll number 22.”
    “Roll number 26.”
    “Roll number 36”
    “Roll number 42.”
    Tears filled up my eyes as I saw the teacher close the register.
    “Roll number 33.” Said a deep voice heavy with breathlessness and it belonged to only one person.
    I jumped up in my seat. He stood at the door panting. He lifted his hand to brush back his hair. His sleek black hair which usually was gelled was falling all over his face making him look even more handsome.
    “May I come in, Ma’am?” he asked the teacher but looked at me, his eyes glinting mischievously.
    The teacher said something and so did one of my classmates. The class laughed but I was staring at him. I could feel myself glowing. He came in and as he passed my desk, he banged on it and for a few seconds looked into my eyes and then went to his seat. I felt like cupid struck me with thousands of arrows right through my heart and brain.
    Well, someone did say that monsoon is the time for romance.

    P.S: I have recently created a blog. please do check it. https://prismaticword.blogspot.in

    Reply
  42. Sarah Pollard

    Short Story ….thanks

    My hands were shaking. Not a good look on a manicurist. So I excused myself from my new customer and walked to the back of the salon. I headed into the little bathroom, trying to catch my breath as I swung the door shut. Safely inside, I stood at the basin and turned on the sink. The running water swirling down the drain symbolized my life and somehow smoothed the rapid thoughts ping ponging around in my head. I tried to calm my breathing as I glanced at my reflection in the mirror and saw a girl who was both shocked and relieved.
    My first concern was for my customer, Tara. Poor, dumb girl, it’s not her fault. She’ll be mortified when she finds out what just happened. I really didn’t want her to feel bad. No escaping that though, I’m afraid.
    It all started out innocently enough. Tara’s friend, Lauren, was going to get her hair done and suggested that Tara join her and get herself a manicure at the same time. When they first walked in the salon I thought to myself that Tara looked a lot like the actress Laura Dern. She was tall, blonde and lanky with a happy smile and lovely hands. She asked for a French manicure.
    Being affable is an important characteristic for a manicurist. I am nothing if not affable. I asked my new customer “Do people ever tell you that you look like Laura Dern?” “Yes” Tara responded, “I get that a lot.” I think we are both 5”11’ she added.
    The go to subject of most all girls in the hair salon is their boyfriends and Tara was no different. By the sounds of it, Tara was quite enamored with hers, explaining among other things that he is 6’3” which she loves because she can feel comfortable wearing heels when they go out. I asked a few of the standard questions, “How long have you two been together? How did you meet?”They had been together about four months. She had met him through her father; they were drinking buddies at the same bar around the corner from her father’s jewelry store. Feeling encouraged and continuing she added that she was pretty sure he was “the one”. Tara described how she recently designed a beautiful gift for him that her father made. When she gave it to him he was so surprised and happy. She called it their four month anniversary gift. After a few moments of silence, Tara, with a far off look in her eye shared with me her concern over a trip her boyfriend recently made to Las Vegas. “When did he go?” I inquired. “Last weekend” was her reply. “My boyfriend had also been in Las Vegas that same weekend, I told her.
    Tara was now on a bit of a rant so I tuned her out. I was reflecting on my own relationship until she said something that caught my full attention. While describing in more detail this boyfriend of hers, she said, “He also has a baby with this other girl, but it’s totally nothing they just have a baby together.” My mind spun as the details Tara was describing to me started to add up. Steve had been to Las Vegas the same weekend. We have a baby together. He is a contractor.
    I finally asked, “What is your boyfriend’s name?”
    “Steve Link,” she replied casually. This news was especially devastating to me as it appeared our boyfriends had the exact same name. My brain was now shooting off hot fireworks.
    While I was holding Tara’s hands in mine, she unknowingly informed me that my boyfriend is actually her boy friend and that he cheated on her with another girl whose name is apparently Michelle. I am “just a girl he had a baby with”. Poor Tara, she had absolutely had no idea who was moisturizing her cuticles.
    It was strangely quiet when I came back from the bathroom. I still had to finish Tara’s French manicure. No doubt her friend Lauren and my colleague doing her hair had informed her who I was…the girl that Steve had a baby with, who was nothing to him.

    Reply

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