Tag Archives: Nala’s Story

Nala’s Story Almost Published

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Hey all, you’ve likely already read my novelette, Nala’s Story from the posts here on the blog. I was feeling strong about the story based on feedback from my alpha readers, so I committed to a KDP release date. (Like anyone’s going to preorder it anyway!) I got some recent feedback from some beta readers, and I’m getting anxious about the story. So, I’m in dire need of beta readers who can turn around their reads by Friday. I know it’s short notice, but I need to have the final manuscript turned in the following Monday (the 10th.) I’m looking for full reads, partial reads, chapter reads, and blurb assistance.

I’m looking for plot issues, grammar, and spelling. I ad a few readers respond that they were confused as to what was happening. and they weren’t hooked by the fifth or sixth chapters.

I can send a docx with track changes, a PDF, or an electronic book (epub, mobi, etc) You can also email me directly. The email link should be to your right under a photo of a devilishly handsome guy who got fat and doesn’t look like that any more. Please only request a copy if you can turn around 14,500 words by Friday. I’m also hoping that you readers will be able to leave feedback on Amazon on the day of release.

Help me followers! (I’m visualizing the scene from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back – “Avenge me, Hemp Knight!”)


Nala’s Story Cover Concept

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Joel Cotejar, who did the 16Sunsets cover, has sent me his penciled drawing for the Nala’s Story cover. All that’s left is for him to ink the entire thing. I still need to decide what color I want the background to be. I’m excited because I totally geek out on cool art – especially art I’ve commissioned. The cover mockup above is based on the art below. I’m still looking at an August release for Nala’s Story. Once the text is finalized, I’ll add the hidden messages like the ones in Champion Standing. Click on the art below to embiggen.

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Nala’s Story, Conclusion

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[505 words – Word-A-Week]Nala watched Shui’s chest rise and fall a few times before she placed her free hand gently on it. “Shui?” She whispered.

His eyes opened, and she witnessed a sliver of surprise before he grinned. “Yes?” He replied.

Nala took a breath and held it. She looked away from his eyes and bowed at the waist.

“What are you doing?” He asked, not bothering to conceal his surprise.

“I am sorry, Mi’Lord.”

The words felt strange in her mouth, but she knew they were the right ones. They were words she should’ve said before, but even without seeing the murderabilia, she had been blinded by rumor and conjecture. She had allowed hearsay to taint her perception of a man she had suspected of being pure of heart.

“I am sorry for my assassination attempts. I am sorry for the cruel things I have said. I am sorry for the misery I subjected you to…” Her voice faded and was caught in her throat. “I will understand if you do not wish to see me again,” she finally said, “but I will atone for my behavior.”

Shui responded with silence. Nala wanted to meet his gaze, but the knowledge of her wrongdoing sapped her courage.

Her courage might have faded, but her mind was sharp. Shui had never shown malice. He couldn’t have been capable of the worst humanity had to offer. Nala hoped he would forgive her.

She knew he would forgive her.

It was present from their first encounter: kindness.

She saw it each time they met. She heard his kind words. She felt his kind presence.

“Look at me, Nala,” he finally said.

“No, Mi’Lord, I can not.” Her protest was barely audible, but she couldn’t come so far and not follow through.

Nala slowly lifted her head and met Shui’s eyes.

His eyes locked with hers. He searched her, his eyes conveyed something Nala couldn’t quite place. She felt self conscious. He read her soul she finally bared to him. He could see the turmoil of emotions: guilt, shame, loss, fear and confusion.

At that moment, she was at her most vulnerable. The honesty of the moment eroded her mask of strength. Shui’s pull on her intensified. Nala was incapable of escape.

Why do I feel this way? she asked herself.

She knew why. She had felt it for some time. Only in this intimate moment with him could she start to admit it.

“I understand,” he replied and squeezed the hand intertwined with his.

She looked into his eyes, and she knew.
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Nala’s Story, Part Twenty-Four

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[565 words – #3WW]”And you,” Shui retorted. His eyes blazed with anger, and his lips pressed into a grim line. All trace of his lingering affliction had vanished. “I have suspected you of treason and rebellion for a while, Commander.” Shui waved his arm to encompass the Commander’s subdued guards. “But, without hard proof, I never would have overcome the good will you have with the men. But now…”

Shui looked to the guards loyal to him who eyed the Commander’s guards warily. “You!” He declared, and all eyes fell on him. “Men loyal to my title, but not my house.” More than one man nodded in response, as if Shui was had talked directly to him. “You have witnessed the Commander confess his treachery and dishonorable behavior. You have heard his plans to dishonor me and steal my holdings.”

“A trial shall be convened and the Commander will answer for his crimes. I leave his fate to the court conference. The minister of justice will decide between execution or exile.”

Shui turned his back to the Commander. “Take him from my sight immediately!”

The guards bowed slightly and corralled the Commander and his accomplices. The Commander’s guards hung their heads in shame, but the Commander screamed obscenities and struggled against the guards, swearing revenge.

Finally, after the chamber had cleared and the Commander’s expletives faded down the hall, Shui and Nala were alone.

“How are you alive?” she blurted impulsively.

Shui smiled, beads of sweat lined his brow. “You have learned much here, Nala, but you still are not as observant as you think you are.”

Nala pleaded an explanation with her eyes.

Shui strained to widen his smile. “My garden is not filled with just the Cao Wo, but many poisonous flowers and herbs. I have yet to announce my retirement from the Hainan Island tournament, so less honorable men would see to usurp my title with treachery, rather than skill.”

Shui slumped hauntingly, and Nala bore his weight.

“I have ingested trace quantities of every known poison.” Shui coughed and continued. “I’ve endeavored to build up an immunity.” He sat on his bed. “Poison has always been a tool of assassins.” He laid back on the bed. “Now, I really do need to rest.”

Nala watched as he closed his eyes, exhaling the breath that he had held strong. Nala was overcome by a new emotion: pity.
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Nala’s Story, Week 5 Review

There are only a couple of installments left. Nala’s Story has been a fun experiment, and I may do something similar next year. Thanks to the readers at Web Fiction Guide, #WoW555 and my regular blog readers. I’ve enjoyed reading your comments and the encouraging emails.

After I write the last installment, I’ll let it marinade for a week or so. Then, I’ll rewrite it so the story flows smoother. Next, I’ll send it off to a trusted friend for her input and re-rewrite. Then I’ll finalize the cover art. I’ve been dealing with two different local artists, but they’ve been silent for about three weeks. If they don’t follow through, I’ll likely commission Joel Cotejar again. He did the 16Sunsets cover and the illustration of “future Nala.” I hope to have this novella published by August or September.

For those of you charting my wordsmithery progress, last week I wrote 2630 words bringing the total to 13,002. It looks like the web rough draft will be about a thousand words short of my 15k goal, but it’s no big deal. I’ll still get to within five percent of my goal with a week less writing.


Nala’s Story, Part Twenty-Three

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[500 words – Inspiration Monday]”Tradition,” Nala heaped as much derision and malice onto the word. She confronted the Commander from a position of strength – She had grown during the time spent with Shui. She could feel bile rising. It threatened to choke her, but she chose to speak her mind, despite the revulsion she felt towards the Commander.

“You lied to me,” she declared, eyes narrowing.

The Commander spread his arms.

“You wanted me to kill him.” The conspiracy formed in her mind. “If I had assassinated him, you would have placed the blame solely on me.”

The Commander’s eyes darted perceptually to the left.

“Then,” she continued, “You would have executed me and seized his holdings.”

“Enough talk,” he sneered. “You failed on your promise to dispatch the Champion Standing.”

“Shui.”

“What?”

“Shui,” she repeated, more forcibly. “His name is Shui,” her voice rising, betraying her anger. “I will not let you hurt him.”

The commander looked left, then right at his guards.

Nala spat at his feet. “Shui’s honor has already been tarnished by a pitiful, dishonorable man.” Her voice rose again. “You do not deserve the loyalty of your men, Commander.” The word was scorned the same as Tradition.

The Commander tilted his head slightly, pursed his lips, and inhaled before he snapped his fingers. His guards withdrew their swords and advanced on Nala.

Nala retreated until her backside bumped against the bed with a sleeping Shui. A weight in her chest dissipated as she watched the guards move slowly towards her.

Shui is innocent, she thought, a smile appearing on her lips. It transformed into a sneer as she sized up the two guards in the lead.

I will die fighting for Shui’s honor, she thought. I can remove at least two of them before they cut me down.

Nala held her dagger to fend off an attack. She felt remarkably limber and light on her feet. She hadn’t remembered feeling this way any of the times she tried to attach Shui.

Nala crouched into the lian bing qi, a stance and fighting style she had practiced while attempting to defeat Shui, her dagger glinted in the dim light.
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Nala’s Story, Part Twenty-Two

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[505 words – Word-A-Week]”How could you purchase us from the market and bring us here?” she hissed, anger rising. “Why did you save me? Why did you bring me here?”

To satisfy himself with the flesh of slaves.

“How dare you ignore my outburst and dismiss me as nothing?” Her voice rose an octave. “Why did you force me into this story-telling deal with you? Why must you anger me util assassination is the only end?”

He mocked you each night, dodging your attacks.

“You made me the fool, pretending to be unaware, but you knew of my intention to attack you.” She stared at the ceiling before continuing. “Why? Why did you do something so infuriating and foolish?”

He intruded in the flower garden.

“Why did you go there? Why couldn’t you have left me alone?”

A peripatetic existence. How dare he?

Nala’s rage built with each screech, each question unanswered, each humiliation suffered at the hands of wealthy men like Shui. She grabbed his collar and shook him, the dagger lying forgotten on the bed.

“Why are you like this?” She shook Shui again.

….you need to rest…

“Why are you a villain?” Tears clouded her vision.

My name, you have never asked. Not that anyone ever does.

“Why do you make me feel this way?” There was an ache in her heart that she couldn’t explain.

If this is damnation, then I do not wish for salvation.

Her eyes stung and she could no longer see his face. She felt pathetic. The knowledge of what she had felt and vehemently denied could no longer be contained by a façade of anger and bitterness.

“Why do I believe you to be innocent, Shui?”

In response, the doors burst open, the sound absent from her egress resonating in the chamber. Nala dropped Shui, seized her dagger and spun to confront the intrusion. The commander led a dozen guards to Nala.

“You,” he snarled, eyes narrowed. “I knew a harem slave could not be trusted.”

“You are mistaken,” Nala replied, choosing to ignore the insult. “This man has not murdered anyone, there has to be another explanation.”

His thin lips curved, and he bared his teeth. “I know that.”
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