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Topics - EffulgentFirefly

Pages: [1] 2
1
break Room / Your religion and/or beliefs
« on: June 16, 2018, 10:11:42 PM »
I'm genuinely curious. As long as you aren't hating on anyone or being, you know, extreme and radical, tell me a little about your religion and your beliefs - or your lack thereof. Where they came from, when you started following/believing them. Write me a novel if you're that sorta person. There's a lot of different people here, and hearing from all of them is real interesting.  ;D

2
Develop Your Story / Fiona's Side-Story: Different
« on: June 09, 2018, 11:58:18 AM »
More side stories from the universe of my world-class figure skater. This one is about Fiona, set about two years before the main story takes place, or in other words, right before Isolda's story takes place. It gets kinda repetitive, but I can't be bothered to edit it right now. This is... Far from my best writing, to say the least.

Split into a couple parts, the second of which I'll post later, hopefully. Here we go...

Spoiler
Different

“Hey, Mama, I’m going to the karaoke place with Apollo and some friends!”

“Be back for dinner!” Fiona heard her mother call back, and she nodded as she followed Apollo out of her apartment. He grinned at her. “We gonna see who can sing better again or what, Fio?” He cleared his throat as if to emphasize the newfound deepness in his voice, something most of the boys Fiona’s age didn’t have yet. She supposed it was the advantage to most of the kids in her apartment complex being a couple years older than her. “I’ve been practicing.”

“Please, Apollo,” She replied with her own little huff-of all their friends, she and him had always had the best voices, and they took pride in it. “You don’t know English, your choices are limited.”

“I know English!” The Greek teen argued as they left the complex into the bustling streets. He cleared his throat, before saying in English through a thick accent, “See? My English are fine!”

Is,” Fiona laughed-her own English had been perfected as a child due to how often her family moved, and though Apollo’s Spanish and Greek were perfect, his English had always had left something to be desired. The girls in his English classes called it charming. She reminded him of his dropping grades. “Not are. Your English is so bad, Apollo!

“Shut up,” Apollo simply huffed as they made their way down the streets of the city. The karaoke place was close enough to walk to, and it was near the coast as well. “You can’t speak Greek.”

“Well, yeah, because Greek isn’t a worldwide language!” She huffed, flipping her black curls over her shoulder. “And I can speak Spanish, English, French and Italian fluently, and I should probably pick up Japanese or Chinese if my dad keeps us moving all the time.” Fiona shot a grin at her longtime friend. “I think I win the language war.”

“Whatever, Fifi, you’re just bragging,” Apollo huffed as they crossed a familiar street and waved to one of the townspeople they knew. “I’m a better singer than you, and you know it.”

“We’ve gotta let the crowd decide, ‘Polo,” She replied with a grin as they approached the karaoke place. “May the best man win, yeah?”


“Aw, your English is so cute, Alexia!” Fiona cooed as her friend finished the song. It was a perfect song for the blonde teenager, an American song called ‘Havana’ that she wasn’t particularly fond of, but worked for her nevertheless. Alexia laughed nervously, putting the microphone down and retaking her seat between the mixed girl and Matias. “You’re too nice, Fiona. You’ve gotta sing something in English, your English is so good!”

“I’ll try, I’ll try,” She laughed, beginning to look through songs. Maybe it was because she’d spent time all over the world, but Fiona liked American music just as much as she liked Spanish or French music, and her being fluent in English definitely made listening to it more enjoyable. With a hum, she cocked her head. “You know ‘Attention’ by Charlie Puth?”

“Oh, he’s so cute!” Marina gasped, clasping her hands together and feigning a swoon, and Etienne nodded from beside her. “He’s really hot. If he was gay and Spanish, you know, I just might have to hunt him down for a night.”

“Okay, we get it,” Alexia joked, playfully shoving the French teen. “You’re gay. And he isn’t that hot, Marina, you just like Americans.”

“I mean, I’m not denying it…”

“Alright, alright,” Fiona laughed, choosing the song and putting her arms up to halt her friends. “I’ll do ‘Attention’.” As the song started, in English, she said to Apollo with a grin, “Get ready to have your ass kicked, Apollo.”

Apollo rolled his eyes as she began to sing-either he hadn’t understood a word or he couldn’t be bothered to care. She kept her eyes competitively on him as she sung in perfect English-she didn’t need lyrics, she knew most of the American songs that charted in Spain by heart anyway. Etienne wolf-whistled as she continued, and Fiona grinned as her friends began to clap along with the song. She liked karaoke with her friends. They were a good group to sing with, and out of habit, Fiona began to dance, to sway her hips along with the music. Though she didn’t know if she’d follow it as a long-term career, she loved to sing and dance, even if she wasn’t that great on the larger scale of things. Whether she was going to or not wasn’t on her mind as she hit the bridge of her song, enjoying singing with her friends maybe a little too much.

The pause between the bridge and the last chorus was heaven to her lungs, and as she began the last bit of the song, Fiona almost laughed and lost the beat as her friends joined in with the only part that could be familiar to them, Apollo included. Grinning as they finished the song together, her own perfect English mixing with the Spanish (and one French) accents of her friends. She let out a laugh as it ended, and her friends erupted in cheers. “Thank you, thank you, you’re too kind.”

“You’re so good, Fiona!” Marina exclaimed as she sat back down. “You gotta teach me how to sing American songs like that. I’ll have to know when I finally find my American husband, right?”

“If your only concern is singing American songs to your husband, I don’t think you should be looking for a husband,” Apollo joked, and Fiona smiled in amusement as Marina whacked his arm. “C’mon! You can’t even sing, Apollo!”

“I can better than you,” The Greek teenager challenged, standing up to pick a song himself. “Get ready to be wowed.”

“Yeah, right!” Fiona replied playfully. Their singing war had gone on since they were kids, and it probably wasn’t about to stop anytime soon. “Let’s see what you’ve got. Gonna do something English?”

“Oh shut up, Fifi,” He mumbled as he picked a song. Though she’d been half expecting it to be something she didn’t recognize, the small mixed girl clapped as the song began. “Aww, you’ve gotten all soft and cute, Apollo! ‘Él No Soy Yo’, really?”

“Aww, Apollo!” Alexia teased. “Got some girl you’re after? Cute!”

Apollo simply flipped them both off as he began the song with that naturally smooth voice of his. It was nice, Fiona had to admit, and if she didn’t reckon herself a better singer, he’d probably be the best she knew at his age. Just as she’d done, his eyes were fixed on her as he sang, and she smiled back, swaying along with Etienne, Matias and Marina, who were mouthing lyrics to the popular song as the chorus came around. Alexia nudged her. “He’s gotten better, yeah?”

“Yeah, why?” She asked, teasing playfully, “You got a thing for that voice of his now?”

“Ew, no!” The dirty-blonde girl replied with a quiet little laugh, and Fiona nudged her as if to say ‘you sure?’, even though she knew for a fact Alexia had no interest in the handsome Greek boy. Apollo had always said she had some sort of creepy mind-reading ability, and though she’d called it intuition, she knew that her friend was far more interested in Matias than anyone else, even if she hadn’t said anything about it. Sometime, down the line, maybe she’d help Alexia out with her little crush.

Apollo finished the song without a falter in his voice, and like they’d done with almost every performance before, Fiona and her friends clapped and cheered from their place on the couch, the raven-haired boy giving a clumsy, playful bow as he sat back down. “Thank you, thank you. I think I did better than Fiona, right?”

“It was pretty good,” Marina admitted with a little smile and a shrug. “But Fiona sang like the most flawless English and a Charlie Puth song. So… My vote goes to her.”

“Geez, you should just go live in America already!” Apollo whined as he checked the time. “Our time is up, and it’s getting late. Next time I’ll win, watch me.”

“Yeah, right,” Fiona teased as they stood up and began to leave the room. She waved to the person at the desk-they came in enough that most of the workers knew their faces. “I’m multilingual. You can’t beat me!”

“We all had fun, though,” Matias intervened as they stepped outside. She and Apollo had a tendency to go on with their competitions for a long time, and it was usually either Alexia or Matias that had to step in. He smiled at them as he began to leave the group. “I’ve really gotta get back. I have work tomorrow. Thanks for the fun, guys, we should do this again soon.”

“Bye, Matias!” Alexia called after him, and he waved back with a smile. Fiona almost laughed-whether she was good at reading people again, it had to be obvious that the two had some sort of chemistry, right?

“I should get going too,” Marina sighed, running fingers through her hair, and Alexia nodded. “Oh, yeah, the sun’s going down. Etienne, Apollo, Fiona, we could catch the bus if we really run.”

Etienne nodded, and though Fiona was going to nod too (though her mother was lenient with  curfews as long as she was with Apollo or some of the other trustworthy kids in the building, her father was a little more strict), Apollo shook his head. “We can walk, it’s only like ten minutes if we aren’t too slow. Right, Fifi?”

“Uh… Yeah,” The short mixed girl agreed, even though she had no idea why her childhood friend wanted to walk all of a sudden-Apollo was typically pretty lazy. She was curious, to say the least. “I’ll see you guys later on. We can do this again next weekend, maybe.”

“Alright.” Marina smiled at them, and Etienne waved as they began to leave the front of the karaoke place. “Don’t do anything too bad to her, Apollo, don’t wanna scare the only cool kid off.”

“I won’t,” Apollo replied with a roll of his eyes. “See you guys.”

As the rest of the group left in the direction of the bus stop, and she and her old friend began on the road home. With an eyebrow raised, Fiona cocked her head at the taller boy. “So why the hell aren’t we taking the bus?”

“I just wanted to talk to you,” Apollo replied with a shrug as the cooler evening breeze blew in, dragging the natural, salty smell of the sea with it. She crossed her arms over her chest. “Uh-huh, I don’t believe it!”

“Wow, fine, you caught me Miss Mindreader,” He sighed with a little smile, shoving his hands in the pockets of his shorts. He seemed oddly bashful, and she furrowed her brow in curiosity as he continued. “I did want to talk about something though.”

“Alright. Shoot.”

“Ah, okay…” He sighed, rolling his shoulders back and clearing his throat. “I guess I’ll just spit it out. Let’s go on a date.”

“Oka-wait, what?” Fiona stopped in her tracks, unsure of what she’d heard, if anything at all. “What did you say?”

“Geez… I want you to go on a date with me,” Apollo repeated, his tanned cheeks turning red. “Actually, I want you to be my girlfriend. But if you want to go on a date first…”

A date? She’d been on one date before, and nothing had clicked in her mind. She hadn’t wanted to date the person long-term, no matter how nice they’d been. Unsure what to say, she started at her longtime friend with a flabbergasted expression. “‘Pollo, I…”

“I know, it’s sudden,” The Greek boy sighed, licking his lips nervously. “And it’s kind of weird because we’re like siblings, but I’ve wanted to ask you out for a long time…”

“Apollo…” She stammered after a moment - her words had been stolen away in an instant. She didn’t want to hurt her old friend’s feelings, but…

I just don’t feel that way towards him… I don’t feel that way towards anyone, whether I want to or not…

“I’m not forcing you into anything, Fiona,” Apollo said seriously, his usual playful demeanour gone, and he gave her a little smile as he continued walking ahead of her. “But consider it, okay? We have all summer.”

“I… Okay…” She sighed as he left her on the sidewalk. She’d been hoping for a calm, peaceful summer… And suddenly, Fiona had a feeling it wasn’t going to be either.


Though she and the other kids obviously lived in their apartments, Fiona had always considered the streets of Barcelona her home. Her parents fought often, and though they loved each other, she was sure of it, their marriage had always been messy, and as an only child, the house could get lonely or intimidating with quarrelling parents and very little else. Apollo had never had the best life within the walls of his own apartment either-being the youngest of four children to a single mother hadn’t served him well. And so both of them had spent most of their days on the streets of Barcelona, making friends and getting to know the residents. Most of the other kids in the complex were similar, and the grand majority of the teenagers on the surrounding streets knew each other well, so it wasn’t uncommon for them to be wandering the streets, like they were that day.

“Hey, it’s Rio!”

“Huh?” Fiona jumped at Apollo’s enthusiasm, following his pointed finger - Rio was indeed standing in front of one of the large walls of an apartment building, with his paint and sketchbook as per usual. He was one of the best graffiti artists in the city, known for the whimsy and absurdity in his murals. He wasn’t much older than Apollo-22? Maybe 23?-but his art was beautiful. Fiona had always felt like it was almost an honour to be friends with him.

“Hey, my two favourite kiddos!” Rio smiled and waved them over as he turned away from the wall. “Come here, you two, as long as you’re watching me paint you aren’t getting into trouble.”

“We don’t get into trouble that much,” Apollo huffed, looking to the outline on the wall. “What’re you painting this time?”

“It’s kinda hard to explain,” Rio replied with a laugh as usual-Fiona couldn’t remember a single time he’d simply told them what one of his creations was. The young Spanish artist simply picked up his sketchbook off the ground and held it out to them. “See for yourself.”

Curiously, the shorter girl peered over Apollo’s shoulder to see the page of the sketchbook - it was what looked like a female child releasing dozens, if not hundreds of white birds into a night sky with what appeared to be a malicious-looking moon. What could only have been a crystal ball was broken at her feet, and there were details she could barely pick out on the small scale, but Fiona was stunned nevertheless. Though he was elusive and kept to himself other than his graffiti, Rio was a fantastic artist, and that was all that mattered when it came to admiring his work.

“What’s the symbolism?” Apollo asked, handing back the sketchbook, and Rio grinned at them. “I tell you this every time, Apollo, I’m not gonna tell you anything about why I drew it like I did. Your job is to figure that out.”

“Aww, Rio…”

“I just make the art,” Rio replied as he continued to paint an outline on the wall, nudging the ladder out of the way as he did - Fiona had to wonder just how big it was going to be. His works tended to range from almost unnoticeable petite to massive and sprawling. “It’s up to the viewer to interpret it how they will.”

“Well, I think it’s beautiful,” Fiona assured him with a little smile, and over his shoulder, the young Spaniard smiled back at her. “Thank you, Lil Miss. It’s nice to know I’m not doing this for nothing.” He sighed, taking a step back to observe the wall, before beginning to paint again. “I can teach you two if you’d like. You’re well old enough now. I started legally when I was your age, Apollo.”

“Did you paint illegally?” Apollo asked from beside her with a little laugh, and Rio simply laughed back, pushing light brown hair away from his face. “We don’t talk about those days. But if you two wanna start tagging, then just ask me. I’ll teach you.”

“That sounds awesome!” Fiona replied, unable to keep the enthusiasm from her voice. She’d always loved the arts, whether it be through her dancing or singing, or watching people like Rio paint or the figure skating champions of the world. Both Apollo and the young artist laughed, Apollo elbowing her gently. “You’re real enthusiastic.”

“It’d be so cool to start tagging!” She grinned at him. “Don’t you even wanna try?”

“Well, I mean, maybe…”

“Here, come here, you can try something.” Rio motioned them both over with the hand that wasn’t holding a paint can. Unable to bite back her grin, the small mixed girl practically pulled Apollo over. “Oh my gosh, Rio, are you sure? This is like, a masterpiece you’re making! I don’t wanna ruin it!”

“Here, this spot will just be in the background anyway,” Rio assured her, pointing to a spot near the bottom of the brick wall. He held out a can of paint to them. “Wanna try? It isn’t that difficult, really.”

“Says you!” Fiona said with a little huff as Apollo took the can, stooping to be eye-to-eye with the area Rio had indicated. “Alright, Rio, how do I do this?”


It took ample fumbling, and some laughs from Rio (Fiona was glad she hadn’t worn good clothes that day), but eventually, they got it, and as she finished with a small, blue, imperfect star with a fuzzy yellow outside to mimic a glow and a hot pink outline, she looked over to see what Apollo had done. Rio saw it first, laughing, “Aw, hey, you got a girl? You gotta bring her around and let me meet her sometime!”

“Not yet, I don’t. I hope so by the end of the summer,” Apollo replied sheepishly, straightening up to let Fiona get a good look at his own little piece of the wall - it was another sloppy shape, but it was quite obviously a pink heart with a black outline, and a pair of black initials in the middle with a plus sign-A.T. and F.A.? Fiona only knew a few people with those initials, and even fewer that knew each other. Though she said nothing, Rio smiled at them both. “Well good luck, kiddo, and nice tagging. You can sign off on it, if you want.”

“Really?” Both she and Apollo spoke in unison - it wasn’t often street artists let anyone else on their work. It was a privilege really, and as the young artist nodded with a grin, holding out a can to both of them, Fiona felt some sort of pride wash over her. Trying to decide how to sign her name, the shorter girl smiled up at him. “Wow! Thanks Rio, that’s pretty awesome.”

“Ha, anything for my biggest fans,” Rio simply replied as Apollo signed his last name just under the heart in bright, deep green - a bold, drippy 'Tavoularis'. Enthusiastically, Fiona began to follow, signing her first name in big, swooping purple cursive that intersected with some of the star, before following it up with her last name in smaller, bolder letters. She handed the can back to Rio, who simply said to her with a smile, “Maybe one day you’ll be up here painting away too.”

“I hope so,” She replied, wiping her hands on the distressed black overalls she was wearing-they were covered in paint anyway at that point. She followed Apollo’s lead to leave the little side street-they had been on their way to a shop. “Thanks, Rio!”

“Don’t get into trouble, kiddos!” Rio called after them with his usual laugh. Fiona bumped Apollo with her hip as they turned the corner. “What was that heart about, huh?”

“Ohm c’mon, Miss Mindreader,” Apollo replied bashfully, blushing a little bit. “You know exactly what that was about. And I don’t want to push you into anything, but it’s been two weeks, Fiona, and it’s killing me not having an answer.”

“I know, I know,” Fiona sighed, pushing a black curl out of her face as they walked. She wanted to give him an answer, and she wanted to give him the answer he wanted, but no matter how much she liked the idea of being Apollo’s girlfriend, Fiona felt nothing other than the close friendship they had.

Is there something wrong with me? Can I just not fall in love with him?

“Give me a chance, Fifi,” Apollo asked, sounding almost nothing like his usual self-it was an almost desperate tone, really. The short Spanish girl felt her insides clench in guilt as he longtime friend continued. “You never know until you try.”

“I…” Fiona hesitated-he was right, really. She’d never been in a romantic relationship. It couldn’t hurt to try, right? Especially if it was with Apollo…

“Alright,” She agreed after a moment, smiling at how her friend’s face lit up. “I’ll go on a date with you. We can see if this works, I guess.”

“Really?” Apollo sounded childishly excited, and the shorter girl laughed a little, nodding. “Yeah, we can try and see if it works out.”

“Thank you,” He said gratefully, seemingly much more peppy and excited than usual. “Let me take you out somewhere tonight. We can check out some of the stuff by the coast if you want.”

“Tonight?” Fiona blinked in surprise-it was already nearly six, and she was grungy and covered in paint from running around the streets of Barcelona. Whether she felt anything but her usual loyal friendship towards Apollo or not, she wanted to look nice for him. He nodded. “Fiona, you’re the coolest girl I know. I wanna take you out as soon as possible.”

“I’m covered in gravel and paint and… And who knows what!”

Apollo smiled at her, taking one of her hands. “Fiona, I don’t give a damn. You’re beautiful in your paint-covered overalls and your fluffy hair and that bit of dust on your cheek.” Blushing, Fiona quickly went to swipe away the dust off her face-she knew she must have had something on her face. “Come on, let’s get cheap pizza and ice cream and go to a crappy movie because we’re unemployed teenagers without allowances.” Though she wasn’t quite sold on the idea, Fiona let her childhood friend grab her hand and begin to tug her down the busy streets of late afternoon Barcelona. “Let me treat you like a princess even if neither of us are fit to be in a castle.”

“No need to get all poetic,” She laughed as he turned a corner and they waved to a shopkeeper sweeping his front patio. “Hi, Leander!”

“Hey hey, you two!” Leander laughed as they hurried by. “Don’t get in trouble, yeah?”

“We won’t, we won’t!” Apollo called over his shoulder with a laugh, and Fiona giggled herself-her friend’s laugh was overly contagious. “I dunno, ‘Pollo, you’re good at getting us into trouble…”

“The best kinda trouble,” Apollo replied as they turned another corner onto a familiar street, the street with the small, almost unheard of pizza place they ate at occasionally-he was being serious about taking her out that evening. “Let’s have fun, Fifi. I don’t have to worry about you finding out my worst because you already know it. It’s real refreshing not to worry about appearances.”

“Yeah… I guess it is,” She agreed as they halted in front of the pizza place, already out of breath from the light jog in the Spanish heat. Fiona shook her head in amusement as Apollo held the door open for her. “After you, Princess.”

“Jesus, Apollo,” She chuckled, but obediently walked in before him. Even if she couldn’t find an ounce of romantic love to give to her best friend, the small Spanish girl had a feeling the night was going to be fun nevertheless.


“Did you have fun, Princess?”

“Stop calling me that,” Fiona joked as she licked strawberry ice cream dripping down the cone. “The mindreader thing was enough.”

“Alright, alright, I agree it’s a little much,” Apollo agreed with his own little chuckle as they sat atop the rooftop of their apartment building, watching night descend over the city. “But really, did you have fun, Miss Mindreader?”

“Yeah,” She admitted, catching a drip of ice cream before it fell into her overalls (not that it would’ve mattered at that point, considering they had more than paint on them by then). “It was pretty great overall. One of the better days of July so far.”

“So, um…” Apollo took a bite of his ice cream, looking over the city as he asked hesitantly, “Did you think about being in a relationship?”

“I mean, we are in a relationship…”

“You know that’s not what I mean,” The Greek teen said, and she nodded with a little laugh. “Sorry, sorry. Apollo, I… You’re the best kind of friend, and hanging out with you is great, but I…” She swallowed at how her friend’s face fell. “Apollo… I don’t know, maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I… I don’t feel anything for you except that. I don’t for anyone, I don’t think, it isn’t a personal thing, because in theory, I…” Fiona could feel her cheeks heating up as she continued, “I’d really like to date you, but… I just don’t feel it. I don’t know how to describe it…”

For a moment, there was silence between them as the streets bustled down below, and though she was worried he’d be mad, or storm off, Apollo simply hugged her around the shoulders. “That’s okay, Miss Mindreader, that’s just fine.”

“A-are you sure?”

“Yeah.” Apollo finished off the ice cream cone far faster than she finished her own, letting her lean into him as she licked most of the ice cream from hers. “I’m not gonna force you to do anything, Fifi. You’re still gonna be my Miss Mindreader.”

“Well… That’s good,” Fiona replied, watching the clouds pass lazily. “I’m sorry, Apollo, I wanted this to work.”

“It’s really okay, Fiona,” He replied, standing up to return to the inside of the building, and she followed, finishing her own ice cream quickly-her father probably would have scolded her for buying it with money she could have saved. The Greek boy did that signature nervous licking of his lips as he began, “Hey, um… But… Look, I know you don’t like me that way, but can I kiss you, Fiona?”

A kiss? Though she was taken aback for a moment, it wasn’t as if it was a crazy request. Technically, it was the end of a date, and perhaps it’d make her feel something for him, that something she wanted but still wasn’t there. Suddenly bashful, Fiona tucked a curl away from her face with a little nod. “Yeah. Alright.”

“You’re very shy all of a sudden,” Apollo remarked with a little smile, brushing those last few stubborn curls away out of her eyes as he cupped her face. “Haven’t you been kissed before?”

She had been, not that it had meant anything to her. She’d never had that lovey-dovey feeling her friends described. Quietly, she nodded, her eyes fluttering shut as Apollo wasted no time in kissing her. It was heavy, almost too weighted with emotion, and nearly scared her away, but Fiona let her friend do what he wanted, trying to find something stirring inside her. She wanted to date Apollo, to fall in love with him, to argue and get back together again, to go through their teenage years together and perhaps adulthood.

She wanted to love someone.

As Apollo pulled away slowly, their eyes meeting again, Fiona could feel her hope fall away and a wave of guilt come over her as she saw the happiness in her friend’s face. She hadn’t felt anything… She hadn’t been able to see herself kissing him, or loving him.

What’s wrong with me…

He must have seen it on her face, because that joyful, carefree expression fell away with a sigh, and his hand slid away from where it cupped her face. “Alright. I’m sorry I pushed this on you, Fiona, I didn’t mean to make things awkward between us.” He turned to go back into the apartment building. “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay? Night.”

“Apollo…” Fiona said sadly under her breath as the door closed behind him. She’d had fun. She’d been happy all evening, she loved spending time with Apollo, who didn’t care if she was covered in paint and grime and dust from the alleyways of the cities, who knew her very worst and very best.

And she’d turned him down. She didn’t feel anything for him except her usual friendship, no matter how much she wanted to try and love him.

With an unhappy sigh, Fiona began to make her way back into the apartment building. She didn’t want to think about possibly ruining hers and Apollo’s relationship.


“Holy *censored*, you turned down Apollo?”

“I didn’t turn him down!” Fiona argued unhappily. It had been a few days since their failed date, and though there had been little change between her and Apollo, she still felt immense guilt, and Alexia and Matias weren’t helping much as they talked over lunch in the nearby cafe. “I just… I don’t know. I didn’t feel anything when he took me out or kissed me-”

“He kissed you?” Alexia interrupted, and biting her lip, Fiona nodded. “But I don’t know. I didn’t feel anything. He’s perfect, I just… We’re platonic…”

“Well, that sucks I guess,” Matias sighed. “Apollo doesn’t like being turned down.”

Fiona flinched-it almost felt like she was being judged, and judged harshly. She was different, moreso than a short black girl hanging out with kids older than her was in the heart of Barcelona. Taking a breath, she cleared her throat. “I didn’t turn him down. What about you two? Any love this summer?”

She swore she saw Alexia blush as both her and Matias shook their heads, the brunette boy shrugging. “I mean, I’ve kinda got my eye on someone, but I… I don’t know. It’s a little iffy.”

“You should just tell her!” Fiona suggested, and Matias shook his head again with a nervous little laugh. “I think I’ll pass.”

“Hey, I’ve gotta get back,” Alexia sighed, standing up from the table. “My brother’s heading out and I’m supposed to be home when he does.” She waved as she turned to leave the cafe. “See you.”

“Bye…” Fiona sighed as she left, tracing patterns on the wooden table-she loved Barcelona summers, but she wasn’t feeling herself, especially with the endless guilt she felt around Apollo   Maybe Matias noticed it, because he gave her a little smile. “Fiona, it’ll work out. Apollo’s a little crazy asking you out so young, anyway. He’s wanted to since you were in middle school, but that would have been downright odd.”

Since middle school? Fiona took a deep breath to try and calm herself down-she was feeling more guilty by the second. What kind of person was she not to be feeling anything for someone so perfect, so infatuated with her, so kind? Rather than say anything about it, she nodded in agreement. “Yeah. I guess the age difference does show sometimes…”

“Well, just so you know, we treat you like you’re just as old as we are,” Matias replied with a smile as he stood up from the table as well. “And I dunno, Fiona, I think you and Apollo would be good together, but if it doesn’t feel right, don’t let him bully you into it.” He waved over his shoulder as he opened the door to leave the mostly empty cafe too. “I’ve got someone I want to catch. I’ll see you soon, okay?”

“Yeah,” The short girl nodded as her friend walked out, letting her forehead fall to the tabletop. The guilt was eating away at her. Was there something wrong with her? It certainly felt like it at that point.

Why can’t I just fall in love with him? He deserves it, and I don’t know why I don’t feel anything with him because I should…

With a sigh, Fiona finished her drink, leaving a tip under the glass. She needed to clear her head, and more often than not, wandering the streets and watching life go by was how she did it. She felt her body become heavy in the heat as she left the building, adjusting her mother’s old FC Barcelona hat to try and block out the sun a little more. She didn’t want to be worried about the sun while trying to figure out what was wrong with her, if anything.

Why am I like this? Am I really just a weirdo? Some sort of freak?

She still didn’t have an answer for any of her questions, even if it simply felt like she was simply different. There couldn’t be another reason, could there?

It isn’t fair that I’m doing this to Apollo though…

Swallowing the bitter feeling of unhappiness, Fiona decided to try and think of something else - Matias and Alexia were the first to come to mind. She couldn’t get their chemistry out of her head. It was cute, and truthfully, seeing them get together would make her feel better at that point. At least someone would have a happy ending that summer.

Actually… Maybe…

Fiona felt a little bit of a smile work onto her face as an idea began to form in her head. Maybe she could put the origin of her nickname ‘Miss Mindreader’ to good use.


“It’s nice that we get to see each other more in the summer.”

“Yeah,” Fiona agreed with Etienne, nodding with a smile as the movie played on the screen. Though it certainly wasn’t that all of them hung out every day, it was nice when they got together over the summer break, even if it was just for a movie that night. With a stifled yawn, she glanced up onto the couch where Apollo sat just behind her spot on the floor, alongside Matias and Alexia. Apollo smiled a little at her, and though she smiled back, the small mixed girl had her eyes on the prize - making Matias and Alexia realize they had chemistry.

They could be so good together… They should at least realize it…

“Matt!” Marina whined from beside Fiona on the floor. She held up an empty bowl. “We’re out of popcorn!”

“Jesus, can’t I sit for two seconds?” Matias grumbled, but obediently rose from his seat and took the bowl to go into the kitchen in the darkened room. Fiona heard Apollo scoff from behind her, leaning his arms casually on her head. “You should give the poor man a break.”

Though she had to agree, Matias leaving was a good chance for her to try and get Alexia in the right mindset for a relationship with him. Shaking Apollo off, Fiona hopped up to join them on the couch and nudged the blonde girl beside her. “Any juicy stories since we last talked?”

“Uh…” Alexia cocked her head, before shaking it, her eyes never leaving the television. “I… I don’t think so. My older brother got back together with his girlfriend, but…”

“Aw, no love for you?” Fiona asked, and with a little sigh, the dirty-blonde shook her head again. “No.. not yet.”

“Oh,” She replied, even though it was probably better if Alexia had nothing going on for her. “Well you’ve gotta have eyes for someone, right?”

“I…” She blushed, crossing her arms and turning to the movie that everyone was half-watching. “Fiona, c’mon…”

“You should try and at least practice a date or a kiss or something on someone!” Fiona insisted-she knew Alexia, and she knew how to convince her friend into things. “Like Apollo! Or Etienne!”

“What?” She shook her head rapidly, as if she was trying to dispel even an inkling of such an idea. “Ew, no! Etienne’s boyfriend would kill me!”

“He would,” The French teen agreed from his spot on the floor, and Fiona let out a little amused sound. She hadn’t met the new boyfriend yet, but she’d definitely heard stories.

“What’s the problem with me then?” Apollo asked with a fake whine. Alexia simply rolled her eyes and flipped her hair over her shoulder. “Come on, Apollo, you know what’s wrong with you! Ever wonder why you don’t have a girlfriend?”

“He’s probably gay too,” Etienne said nonchalantly, earning a laugh from all of them in the room. “I mean, no one thought I was gay until I was.”

“Yes we did,” Fiona replied in time with a still giggling Marina. It was true-even though at a glance, Etienne looked like all their other male friends, maybe even more manly with his height and muscles, and it was hard other than the fact he definitely had a bit of a... flair to his personality, one he tended to take pride in. She short mixed girl chuckled. “Apollo isn’t gay. And then you should ask Matias! I’m sure he’d help you.”

“Who’d help who?”

All of them turned at Matias’ reentry to the room, an overflowing bowl of popcorn in his hands. Alexia shook her head. “Nothing, nothing.”

“Well alright.” Fiona let out a little yelp as Matias basically shoved her off the couch and re-took his spot between Apollo and Alexia. “Here’s your goddamn popcorn.” His voice dripped with sarcasm as he settled into his spot. “Made with love.”

“Ha ha,” Fiona rolled her eyes as she began to settle back onto the floor, only to be lifted back up by hands under her arms. The smaller girl blinked in surprise at Apollo, who placed her in his lap with a little huff of amusement. “You could just ask to sit here, you know.”

‘You know we aren’t together’, a big part of her wanted to say, but she’d never really minded sitting in Apollo’s lap. He sat still enough and he was built with enough muscle for her to settle into his familiar form, like he’d always been. Though she didn’t want to lead him on, Fiona let herself relax in his lap. She didn’t want to think about any change in hers and Apollo’s relationship, especially while she was focused on getting Alexia and Matias together. It sparked some sort of guilty anxiety within her. The last thing she even wanted to think about was the possibility of losing her childhood friend.

Still… Why am I like this? And why can’t I find any answers about it?

3
Develop Your Story / Shaved Ice 2.0
« on: June 04, 2018, 05:44:49 PM »
So I'm about halfway through the first draft of this, and it isn't really coming along. Hopefully I can finish it during camp nano. This is, for a lack of better words, really, really bad because I haven't even started editing, but I thought maybe I could get some feedback anyway. I don't have a synopsis, but long story short Miles won silver, Ray confessed, Fiona's aromantic and the Finnish coach wants Miles' talent.

Chapter 1
Spoiler
“Miles! You’re better than this!”

Miles bit his lip against an irritated retort as he began the pattern again. A quadruple axel, followed by a few seconds to regain his footing, then a consecutive triple lutz and triple Salchow, and a back scratch spin to finish it off. It was a slightly more difficult version than the most important part of his silver medal winning routine, and he should have been doing it fine.

He wasn’t, of course, instead tripping over his own skates on the buildup to the triple jumps and nearly falling flat on his face.

“Verde!” Jonas’ voice was strict and harsh from where he leaned against the boards. “What the hell is wrong with you today? You can pull this off fine!”

“I know!” The blond couldn’t hold his tongue anymore, and he sighed, taking a deep breath. Snapping wasn’t going to get him anywhere, even if he really, really wanted to bite the Finnish man’s head off. “I’ll do it again.”

Jonas nodded as he began the setup again, his  green gaze briefly landing on Ray, who stood behind the stands on the other side of the rink. “Good.”

Miles shook his head at Ray’s sympathetic look, trying to focus on pulling off the little routine. He hated being yelled at, butting heads with his coach, anything that wasn’t smooth and comfortable, and Ezra had noticed it early on in his career. Positive reinforcement had always worked better on him, and Ezra knew it. Ezra knew him.

Why do I have to do this then?

He honestly had no idea. It had been more than a compliment when Jonas had offered to coach him, and Clem and Cole had been enthusiastic about the idea, but Canada was his home. He loved his country, and his life how it was, even if his skating conditions  weren’t perfect. Still the offer tempted him. He loved skating too, and it had been his dream for years to be on top of the skating world…

Well, apparently it hadn’t been his choice, because Ezra had stepped in and made an offer himself. Jonas was to coach him in Canada until the large competition kicking off the season in October, when Miles could take his pick of coach. Cole and Clem were used to constantly being on the move, and transferring to Aspen Ridge would take little time.

In other words, Miles was stuck with a new coach for half a year whether he liked it or not. And as he cracked again under Jonas’ harsh look, stumbling through a jump, he decided on the latter. He bit his lip. Ray sighed quietly. Jonas shook his head. “We’ve done enough for the morning. I’ll see you after school.” With that, the Finnish coach left the two boys in the rink.

“I’m gonna want to stop skating by October,” Miles muttered under his breath as he stepped off the ice. Ray sighed, resting an arm atop his head. “It could be good for you to go to Finland, you know.”

“That isn’t what you’re supposed to say.’”

“Well, if you think I’m going to say ‘I love you’ and ‘don’t go’ and ‘stay because I’m here’ or some *censored*, you’re sorely mistaken,” The taller boy replied with a yawn, either oblivious to the flush working its way onto Miles’ cheeks or completely ignoring it. “I think you should choose based on your career, not based on anyone else”

“Still…” Miles sighed as he pushed open the door to the change room. “I… I don’t know, Ray. What am I supposed to do?”

Ray simply shrugged, giving a little shake of his head to avoid the question. “Go get changed. We shouldn’t be late, midterms are coming up.”

The short blond nodded, letting the door swing back behind him. Despite the fact it wouldn’t be anything new for Ray to see him change, the change room had always been someplace the Spanish boy had almost avoided. It wouldn’t make much sense for him to be inside with him anyway… And there was some sort of new, nervous tension between them since the championships.

The championships. Miles could feel himself blush every time he thought back to it, the stupidly brash leap of faith, the heat of the moment kiss… Hell, it had all been embarrassing and somewhat uncomfortable. They hadn’t kissed since, even if it was all Miles wanted sometimes. He had a feeling some part of their lack of romance was about the people around them.

It still felt strange to be in some sort of romantic relationship with Ray behind everyone’s backs. Though Miles wasn’t particularly concerned about coming out (he wasn’t so sure about Ray, considering his Spanish family and their customs), both of them had decided there was no need to tell the world unless they were sure of it working out. They were testing the waters to see if a romance between them would even work.

I hope it does…  Miles put the doubt out of his mind as he slung his skating bag over one shoulder and his schoolbag over the other, left the change room and made his way out of the rink. Ray fell into step with him as the warm, humid air hit them both. The saying about April showers and May flowers was all too true in their hometown, and the small blond sighed as they paused under the overhang to look into the pouring rain. “Of course it’s raining…”

“Mhm.” Ray sounded as if he was predicting the downpour-he probably was, knowing him. Miles watched as he pulled an umbrella from his bag and opened it with a little smirk. “You should pay attention to the weather once in a while, Bubbles, it’d do you some good.”

Miles simply crossed his arms over his chest as Ray began out into the rain. The taller boy glanced back at him. “Well? We have school in thirty minutes.”

Though he hesitated, the blond followed his old friend into the rain, his cheeks nearly catching fire as Ray casually slid an arm around his waist, pulling him into the shelter of the umbrella. Though he'd intended it to be lighthearted and playful, Miles couldn't hide the curiosity in his voice as he mumbled, “The hell are you doing?”

“This is a small umbrella,” Ray replied simply, no sign of any sort of nerves in his voice-if he hadn’t opened up back in Vancouver, Miles would’ve wondered if he ever got nervous. “I could just let you get wet instead, but it’s coming down pretty hard.”

Miles let out a half-irritated puff of air, but let himself lean into Ray, just a little bit. He was familiar and comforting, and his touch sent shivers down his spine knowing that the purpose of it was romantic, or at least something that was a little more than friendly.

“What courses are you taking next year?”

“Hmm?” The blond blinked as they turned the corner to the main street. Ray hand left the place where it’d been resting on his hip, to his dismay, but Miles replied nevertheless, “Two French courses, autoshop, English, math, physics, dance and history.” He sighed as they approached the intersection, muttering, “Ms. Raies wants me to join the high performers program, though.”

“High performers program?” Ray asked, and he nodded. “You know, for the professional athletes and crap?”

The Spanish boy nodded, giving a little wave to Fiona as she practically ran towards them, huddling under the small umbrella Ray held as they all waited for the light. “No, I know what it is,” He replied after a moment of shifting so all three of them could try and fit under the umbrella. “I’m just not a fan of a lot of the kids that’re part of it. Hey, Fiona, I’d appreciate if you weren’t trying to push me out from under my own damn umbrella.”

“I’m not!” Fiona whined, and Miles couldn’t tell if she was being legitimate or teasing as she tried to keep herself under the umbrella. “What the hell is wrong with the weather here? It was beautiful yesterday!”

"That's Canadian springs for you," Ray sighed, adjusting the umbrella and sending a little shower of water down the side. A drop of the chilly water hit Miles' cheek, and out of habit, he wriggled closer to Ray as they began to walk. He swore he could see a blush in the Spanish boy's cheeks, and he had to admit that whether they were shy and awkward with their almost nonexistent romance or not, the blond liked seeing Ray get flustered. it was nice not to be on the receiving end for once.

"Well it better get drier than this soon!" Fiona huffed as they made it across the street, still half-huddled under the umbrella. "My hair's gonna be a right mess by the end of the season..."

Glancing over to her, Miles could see that her dark, curly hair, tied into twin ponytails was indeed beginning to frizz into more of a puff than usual. Though he could understand she was upset (Angela tended to get the same way, even if her hair wasn't as naturally fluffy), he personally thought it was cute. Fiona's style really could accommodate for any hairstyle, and he had a feeling she knew it.

"Hey, where's Angela?" Fiona asked as they passed under the canopy of evergreen trees on the path, the rain halting as it got caught in the thick layer of needles. "She hasn't been around as much... Is she okay?"

"She's fine," Miles muttered, crossing his arms over his chest as they came up to the path to the school. "Just with the Lopez kids."

The short girl laughed. "You sound like her dad. Do you not approve of her with the Lopez kids, dad?"

"Shut up," Was all Miles could mutter as Ray filled in, his own voice bordering on laughter, "He's overprotective. Not that it's very intimidating, just kind of adorable."

"Like a Chihuahua," Fiona agreed, and this time the Spanish boy did laugh, quiet, musical and scarily close to making Miles' brain melt. He savored every one of his old friend's laughs, even if they were at his expense... Like that one was. "I know, right?" Ray replied as he put his umbrella back in his bag and they entered the school. "I say that too."

"You guys are the worst, you know," The blond boy huffed, checking his phone for the time-his skating practice had obviously slowed them down, because the bell was set to ring at any moment. Ray gave him a look, something between his usual deadpan look and a little smile-something Miles had seen a lot more since the tension of the awkward love triangle had been resolved. "You know you like it Bubbles. It's cute."

Cute. Ray had called him cute before things had gotten complicated, but he had a feeling it didn't mean the same thing anymore-at least it didn't to him. The short skater could feel himself blushing, and with a little puff of air, he looked over to both of his friends. "I'm not cute. And the bell's going to ring any second, and I have to drop off my skating stuff to the studio before class." He was pouting, he could feel it, shifting both of the bags on shoulders as he gave both Ray and Fiona a little wave and turned down hallway. "I'll see you two later."


Despite the fact no one would have been surprised at that point if he arrived late, Miles was sure to be in his seat when class started. He was glad to see Angela there too-sometimes he wondered if Cole would be a good or a bad influence on her. Luckily, it seemed it was good at the moment.

"You look like you woke up on the wrong side of the bed."

"No *censored*," Miles mumbled as the bell rang. Even if they were obviously apart more than usual, the Verde twins still kept each other up-to-date with what was happening in their personal lives, at least to the point Angela knew why he looked like he did. "Jonas is killing me. And Fiona and Ray are calling me a Chihuahua now."

"Well, they aren't wrong. And Jonas could really help you, you know."

The blond boy rolled his eyes, fiddling with a bit of hair that had fallen out of his ponytail. It had been a hectic half-year for not only him but the rest of the family, and the last thing on anyone's mind was cutting his hair. "I'm not a Chihuahua. And the only reason you're on board for this is because Cole's staying here while Jonas is coaching me."

His twin shrugged with a little smile as she opened her notebook. "I'm not denying that... And you're pretty much the human embodiment of a Chihuahua." Miles crossed his arms as Angela continued with the mischievous grin on her face. "You're small and cute and you've got these big puppy eyes and everyone thinks you're perfect and adorable but then they learn you bite like a bitch. Chihuahua in a nutshell."

"Well then aren't you just a Chihuahua too?"

"Verde!" Both of them looked up at the last name barked from the mouth of their teacher, Miss Anderson, who was obviously unimpressed with them. "Class has started. I love to see siblings getting along, but I won't hesitate to separate you two!"

"Yes, Miss," Angela replied on cue, and though he was a little more reluctant, Miles nodded too. "Yeah. Sorry."

Though he had a feeling his sister didn't want to be split up either, the moment Miss Anderson began teaching again, she leaned over, whispering, "Yeah, but I don't bite. I'm like a cute Yorkie or a Westie."

"I don't think so," Miles argued, though he knew he was smiling-their conversations were almost always odd and pointless, and it seemed like the one in their first period class was no exception. "I'm no scientist, but I'm pretty sure that isn't how twins work."

Angela opened her mouth to argue, but was cut off by the teacher again, who sounded much more irritated. "Angela! Miles! I'm not warning you any more! Cut it out, it's only first period."

"Sorry," Both of them replied in unison, and though he had a feeling it was going to come up in the near future, they dropped the topic. Even so, Miles couldn't help but think about what Ray and Fiona had said. I'm not a Chihuahua... And I'm not cute either!

Though as he began taking notes as the teacher spoke and he thought back to his conversation with his friends, Miles had to note that he really couldn't bring himself to hate Ray calling him cute.


“So Angela’s just permanently MIA now?”

“I mean, technically she isn’t,” Ray shrugged, taking a french fry from the large basket on the booth's table. "She's either with Cole or at the Lopez's apartment. So she's never truly missing."

"So she is," Fabian replied with a huff-as far as Miles could tell, he was most unimpressed with Angela's new boyfriend. He was civil, sure, but it was apparent to just about anyone that he didn't like Cole, or at least him dating Angela.

So did he really have a thing for Angela? Or is he kidding around? I can't tell...

"C'mon, Fay the second you have your eyes on a girl you're the same," Leo argued. "You'd ditch the rest of us for a foreigner in a heartbeat."

"Damn. You have so little faith in me." Though he was acting almost identical to how he usually was, Miles could tell he wasn't happy whatsoever about the topic. "What about you, Miles? I always thought you'd be the first to get a boyfriend, not Angela. How're you faring?"

The blond simply glared across the table. "I'm not gay."

"I'd beg to differ," Ray replied with a little smile-was he teasing? "I'm ninety percent sure he's got his eye on someone."

Miles kicked his best friend hard. The only people that knew him and Ray were cautiously dating were Fiona and Angela, and he intended to keep it that way.

Unfortunately, it seemed like Fiona was in on the taller boy's teasing, and with that catty, mischievous grin, she nodded. "Ooh, yeah, I think I know who you're talking about."

"See?" Fabian grabbed another couple fries with a little nod. "Told you he's gay."

"They're messing with you," Miles argued giving both of his Spanish friends a look-not that either of them seemed to care. Fiona was still grinning, and while Ray wouldn't meet his eyes, the short skater could see the amusement written all over his face. "I've got what I need. Trust me."

"Mhm." Leo grinned at him. "Seems legit."

"This isn't about whether Miles is gay or not," Fabian finally intervened, to his relief. "Angela's been ditching us for that Finnish asshole since you guys game back from Vancouver, and it's annoying."


"You've literally never met the guy," Fiona reminded him with a little smile, and Fay rolled his eyes, grabbing his school bag and sliding out of the booth. "I know I don't like him. What junior is going after sophomore girls anyway?"

"It isn't like they met in school either-"

"How many *censored*s does it look like I give?" Even though Miles had to agree with his friend, the pissed look on Fabian's face was funny, especially considering he usually cared about very little. The raven-haired boy turned around to leave the diner. "I've got a date tonight. I'll see you guys."

The door to the diner swung shut, and Fiona let out a laugh. "He really doesn't like the idea of Angela dating, huh?"

"Well neither do I," Miles replied, watching as Ray took a french fry from the basket, tossed it up, and impressively caught it in his mouth. The blond boy rolled his eyes, muttering, "You're a show-off."

The handsome simply Spaniard shrugged with a smile, and Miles rolled his eyes again, before turning back to Fiona. "None of us are happy she's dating."

"I mean, I have no problem with i-"

"No one asked you, Leo!" Miles interrupted in time with Fiona-despite the Leo usually agreed with the majority, the usual dynamic in the group since Vancouver, and the redhead had suddenly become the odd opinion out. With a shake of his head and a little chuckle, Leo stood up. "Well damn. I don't feel welcome anymore."

"Don't take them so seriously," Ray sighed. "They're being dicks."

Fiona crossed her arms, flipping hair out of her face dramatically. "Hey! Rude!"

"I've gotta catch the four-o-clock bus anyway," The tall redhead replied with a shrug. "Gotta pick up my sisters. It's Friday, my dad's working late. Have a fun weekend."

"Aww... Well bye!" Fiona waved after him as he left, while Ray sighed. "You two are ridiculous. You scared off all our friends."

"We did not," Miles argued as Ray took the last french fry, repeating his showy trick from before and pulling it off flawlessly-too flawlessly. "You've been practicing that."

"Nope." The taller boy licked his lips and swallowed. "Never done it before today."

"Liar."

"Call me what you want," Ray shrugged, standing up to Miles' dismay-he'd wanted to spend a little more time with his friends, but it didn't look like it was happening. "But I've gotta go. I have homework to do."

"Come on, Ray!" Fiona complained with a pout. "It's Friday! We haven't hung out outside of the diner since the championships!"

"My driving test is this weekend," Ray replied apologetically, giving both him and Fiona a little smile. "I'll see if I can come over and help you study for midterms though, promise."

"Only if I can come too!" Fiona chirped, and though Miles was about to nod, the handsome Spanish boy beat him to it-"Hey, what if I wanted to have an afternoon alone with my boyfriend?"

Miles could feel his face heating up, and took a sip of water to avoid spluttering out something embarrassing as Fiona squealed. "Aww! I'll leave you two be if you want! You should've just said so!"

Ray let out a little laugh, shrugging his school bag over his shoulder. "We'll see how it goes. I'll see you two later." The short blond could feel his already burning cheeks somehow get even hotter as a light, casual kiss was pressed to his cheek. "Bye."

As his boyfriend left the diner, and Miles finished off the water in the glass in an attempt to put out the fire burning on his face, Fiona nudged him with a grin. "Aww! You two are so cute together!"

"He's so random," Miles breathed, still somewhat stunned-though he was sure he was absolutely head over heels for his childhood friend, Ray was hard to pin down, and there were days where they'd speak only a sentence or two to each other, and others when he'd be surprised with a hug or a kiss on the cheek goodbye. "I wish he'd just stop dancing around it and kiss me already."

"You kissed at the championships, though, didn’t you?"

"That doesn't count," He huffed as Fiona paid the waiter the bill. "It was awkward and... it didn't count, that's all."

"Why don't you kiss him, then?" She suggested, pushing herself up and out of the booth. "Be proactive! Don't let Ray have all the power in the relationship!"

"I..." Miles bit his lip as they left the diner (luckily, the rain had stopped by then). He wasn't really one to talk about his relationships, but Fiona had proven to be good at pulling things out of him, and it seemed pointless to fight it. "I'm not a good kisser, Fiona, you know that…”

"I could always teach you," The short Spanish girl teased, and with a little smile, he shook his head and replied, "Sorry, Fiona. I've got a boyfriend now."

"Good to know you're loyal, at least," She smiled as they came up to the street corner where they went their separate ways. "I'd be pretty disappointed if all my hard work was worth nothing."

"Hard work my ass,"  He teased as they stopped on the corner. "All you had to do was make sure I did well with my skating and get us together in the same room."

"Do you know what I had to do to get Ray to realize he might have a thing for you?"

Miles could only imagine-Ray wasn't an emotional person, and he also wasn't one to think about how he felt about people until it was brought to his attention. The blond smiled a little. "You must've been really up in his face about it."

"I basically had to scream at him 'you're *censored*in in love with Miles'," She laughed too, shifting her backpack on her shoulders. "I'm glad you two are together now. It doesn't feel like you're shooting daggers at each other anymore. And you're very cute together. I hope it works out, even if Ray's still pissed I manipulated him a little."

"I... I hope it works out too," He admitted truthfully feeling a little bit of a blush working its way onto his face. Whether it was puppy love, infatuation, or something else entirely, Miles liked the closeness he had with Ray since the championships, even if the majority of it was making up for lost time.

"Good luck," Fiona said with a smile as the humid wind began to blow and lifted her puffy ponytails a little. "He's a tough one to crack. But I think it'll be worth it."

The small blond skater smiled as she began to turn to walk down her street. "Yeah. I think so too."


"Hey, you're finally back. Took you long enough."

"Huh?" Miles blinked at his sister's voices from the living room-Angela typically stayed with the Lopezes until late, especially as April hit, and though he was surprised, he couldn't deny he'd missed her a lot. They'd been attached at the hip practically since they'd been born, and it was weird for them to be leading completely different lives all of a sudden. "Hey. You're home..."

"Yeah, Cole's training until five." She motioned for him to sit next to her on the couch, where she was scrolling through something on her phone. "But that isn't why I was waiting for you. Remember Logan?"

"Tremblanc?" She nodded, and Miles raised an eyebrow, suddenly more curious. Logan Tremblanc was born in their year, but had an early birthday-in other words, he'd begun competing in senior competitions a year earlier. They knew each other, not well, but they crossed paths, and Logan was just as competitive as he was. They hadn't spoken in awhile, though, save a few words at the world championships. "What about him?"

With a look that said 'see for yourself', Angela turned the screen of her phone towards him. She had Twitter open, and he recognized the picture on the screen immediately-it was the Canadian team's group photo, with him, Logan, and the other rookies, as well as the longtime competitors. Canada had placed nicely overall, with a handful of medals, and the team looked happy. He looked happy, with that signature snowflake on his cheek and his usual cheesy peace sign held up to the camera. It was a nice picture, and he had a hard-copy version pinned to his bulletin board, just as he did for every one of his big competitions. He cocked his head at his sister. "We have this picture. What about it?"

She rolled her eyes. "The actual tweet, Miles."

Oh. The blond boy bit back a snappy reply, and scrolled down to read the text. It was in French, not that he minded, but for simplicity's sake, he read it aloud in English-"'The Canadian team did well overall this year, but of our talented group, only one of us placed on the podium in the men's free skate. I'm coming for you in the October Open, Verde.'" Miles blinked up at his twin. "What?"

"He's challenging you," Angela replied with a grin. "You've got a new something to worry about."

He’s challenging me? Miles knew what rivalries on the ice looked like. They typically began with the younger, more outgoing skaters, and some of them-most of them-ended badly. Though him and Cole had always had a friendly competitive streak, he had a feeling Logan meant his challenge in a whole different way.

“Did you reply?” He asked after a moment of thinking, and with a little smile, Angela nodded. “Yeah. I told him he’s out of his mind if he wants to start something with you, but he’s stubborn. I think we’ve got a rival.”

Reading over the tweet again, Miles took a deep breath. He could feel his usual competitive spirit stirring-a rival could be fun, and he liked the competition. He could feel a grin working itself onto his face as he replied, “Yeah. Looks like we do.”

On a completely unrelated note, how do you give good feedback? I've been meaning to for some of the stories here forever, but everything I want to say sounds conceited or stuck up or harsh, or it feels like I want to change the whole piece, even if it isn't my intention. I know how much it can mess up your flow to get bad or unhelpful feedback, especially if you don't know what to do with it, and I'd rather say nothing than do that... But I do want to help out as much as I can. I didn't think this deserved its own topic so here we go.

4
Things that don't fit into any of my stories, or are so old or poorly written I have nothing to do but bank them. Most of these are things I really want to come back to one day, but feel free to snatch them up before I get to them.


Something I wrote at 3 in the morning on a whim
Spoiler
“So are you gonna go say goodbye to him?”

“I said goodbye last time I saw him,” Stelios grumbled, his eyes not leaving the pages of his book for a second as he lazed across the sofa of the living room. “I don’t need to do it again. No need to scream ‘I’m gay for you’ at him.”

Vera snorted in amusement from across the room. “Ha. You still haven’t told him. It’s been like ten years, Stell.”

“Eight.”

“Still!” The auburn-haired boy rolled his eyes as his little sister tossed something at him, something that narrowly missed his head. “Dude, it’s been eight years of you wanting him! You two are going to different ends of the world in a few days! Just tell him already! He isn’t a homophobe, his sister is gay!”

“Jesus Christ, would you leave it, Vera?” Stelios snapped, and though it would have surprised anyone else into shutting up, his sister was a different beast entirely. She giggled from the other side of the room, and it pissed the young Greek man off even more to see the screen of her computer reflected in her eyes rather than her gaze set on him. “No need to get all pissy. You know you’re gonna regret it if you go off to Cali and you don’t tell him.”

“He has a girlfriend. Of nearly two years.”

“Who the hell cares?” Vera threw up her hands, but she didn’t look up from the computer screen-he always wondered what she did on her trusty laptop. She was talented with it, but was very private with what she actually did on the device. The only thing he knew was that his little sister was practically rolling in dough for a fifteen-year-old without a job. Stelios didn’t even want to think about what black market she was running with the high school students, or what would happen if she was caught.

“Stelios, Yulia ain’t going to Switzerland with him.” Fingers tapped away as Vera spoke and Stelios turned back to his book-not that he was reading it. “Go and tell him. He’s bound to be at the airport, his flight leaves in a couple hours.”

“I’m not doing anything at the airport.”

The younger of the two siblings sighed loudly and intentionally. “Ah, I can get into his phone, you know…” The rust-haired boy shot daggers at his sister, who was grinning as she tapped away at the keyboard. “And yours too, for that matter…”

“Are you threatening me with blackmail?”

Vera shrugged casually. “I’m just reminding you that until he leaves the country I do have a lot of power over your relationship with him. Not that I would ruin it to any extreme. I care about him too. Now.” For the first time that morning, his little sister looked up at him. “Go to the airport and tell Gabriel you love him more than anyone else. Before I do it for you.”

Obediently, Stelios tossed his book down on the sofa, glaring at his little sister as he put on his shoes. “Tell mom I have the car when she wakes up. I’ll be back before one.”

The youngest of the family let out a little laugh as he made his way out of the house. “Don’t you chicken out!”

Stelios rolled his eyes, deciding against making some promise to do his best. Chickening out felt like a great idea, and he had no idea why he was taking Vera’s advice as he locked the door behind him.


Stelios had wondered how he’d know where to go, and of course Vera had been two steps ahead as always. She’d sent him a text with with Gabe’s location (he could only hope that she’d simply asked him instead of the alternative), and as he walked through the airport, the young Greek man wondered what he was doing. He’d been completely in love with his best friend for nearly a decade, and as long as he’d kept his mouth shut it had been fine. Why was he messing with perfection?

Because you’re in love with him, for *censored*’s sake.

It sounded like something Vera would say, and didn’t make him feel much better as he stopped in front of the coffee shop his sister had mentioned. Gabe was indeed seated inside, his headphones pulled over his ears and a crossword puzzle in front of him as usual. He was as stunning as usual, a sleeveless navy hoodie showing off his biceps and his pierced bottom lip caught between his teeth as he tapped his pen on the table and scanned the puzzle. Despite the fact he was typically close with his family, he was alone… Perhaps because his sister was heading out at nearly the same time? Stelios couldn’t say he minded-confessing in front of family could have been a problem.

Confessing in general could have been a problem.

He should have turned around, he should have forgotten about it entirely and gotten on the next bus back to their local station, but Stelios could feel his legs carrying him into the coffee shop and to the seat on the other side of his friend’s table, which was somehow empty on the busy morning. He cleared his throat and tapped his finger on the book of crossword puzzles. “Is this seat taken?”

“Hmm?” Gabriel seemed startled as his ice-blue eyes left the page and he pulled his headphones down around his neck. Stelios was greeted with a warm smile soon after. “Hey. I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“Where’s your family?”

Gabe shrugged, taking a sip from the cup in front of him and rolling up the book of crosswords to put it in his bag. “Went to see off my sister. It’s a big day. I’ll be flying to Switzerland in a few hours. Isn’t that crazy?”

“Yeah…” Stelios sighed. His own departure was in a few days, but he was far more preoccupied with his old friend’s at that point. “It is…”

“Aww, you gonna miss me. Stell?” Gabe teased, resting his chin in his hand, and Stelios blushed as his friend poked fun at him. “You’re not gonna have anyone to hold your hand through those big firsts anymore. Think you’re ready to grow up?”

“I’ll be fine,” Stelios replied as they rose from the table, even if he wasn’t exactly sure he would. The blue-eyed boy motioned for him to follow as they walked into the main airport, and Stelios couldn’t help but ask, “Aren’t you worried? You’re going to Switzerland…”

“I have family there,” He simply shrugged, halting in front of a gate and leaning against a pillar. “They might be a few hours away, but I’ll be fine. What about you? Cali’s pretty intimidating, especially for a worrywart like you.”

“The only thing I won’t survive is the heat,” Stelios jokingly replied, the conversation easing his nerves a little. “And I guess the prices of everything.”

“Well, I expect an autograph or two to be sent to me,” Gabe smiled at him, and Stelios felt his heart jump. He cleared any sort of anxiety from his throat before replying, “Only if you send over some chocolates.”

Gabriel laughed lightly. “I’ll see what I can do. So you really came all the way out here on a Wednesday morning just to say goodbye? I’m flattered.”

“Uh…” The rust-haired man began to wring his hands together, a bad habit he’d developed back in middle school. “Actually, I… I just wanted to say something to you before you left…”

“Huh?” Suddenly, the blue-eyed boy seemed more interested. “What is it? Are you gonna tell me I won the lottery or something?”

Stelios laughed nervously. “I really wish I was. No, I, um…” Gabriel waited patiently as he collected his thoughts-he always had, since they’d met as children. Gabe was patient and lighthearted, and he was brash and serious. It balanced out pleasantly, and their good chemistry was the result.

It was what had gotten him into the situation in the first place, their good chemistry. It was too good, that was the problem. Stelios took a deep breath, before he began to speak, trying his best to pull logical words from his emotions. “Gabe, I… God, I love hanging out with you. You’re really fun, and I don’t have a ton of fun.”

Gabriel chuckled, his light, natural smile seemingly stuck to his face. “Getting all sappy on my now? Didn’t know you had it in you, Stell.”

Stelios couldn’t help but smile back despite how nervous he was and how much he felt like puking-his friend’s grin was contagious. “But Gabe… I’m…” The auburn-haired man took a deep, shuddering breath, before blurting out, “I’m in love with you. I’ve been in love with you for years, and I…” He couldn’t deny it felt so much better with the massive weight off his chest, and he let out an uncharacteristic laugh through his nerves. “I’m sorry. I just needed to get it off my chest before you left. It’s been so long, I…”

He paused for a long moment, waiting for his friend to speak, and was surprised when there was silence between them. Gabriel was never quiet, he had a reply for everything, no matter what the situation.

Why isn’t he saying anything?

“I just…” He was speaking through his nerves at that point, babbling and stumbling over his words. “Gabe, I think you’re amazing, and you’ve always been amazing. I know that you’ve got Yulia and I’m not asking for you to reciprocate but I-”

Stelios was cut off, but it took him a couple seconds to realize it wasn’t by Gabriel’s words, but by his lips, pressed hard and messy to his own. Their teeth clashed, and the ring on the blue-eyed boy’s bottom lip pressed awkwardly into his mouth, but he couldn’t be bothered to care. Gabe pulled away breathlessly after a moment. “I… I broke it off with Yulia last week…”

“Wait, what?” For a moment, the Greek man was too surprised to worry about the kiss. “Why? You two were happy.”

“The distance…” Gabe breathed, still close enough Stelios could feel it on his lips. “And she didn’t feel right… We grew apart, and me moving to Switzerland… .”

“Oh, I… I’m sorry…” He replied, before realizing what situation he was in. Stelios blinked in surprise, stumbling back out of his best friend’s arms. “Wait, what the *censored*? You kissed me! Why did you…”

Gabe shrugged, scratching his ear as if it was an everyday conversation. He gave a cheeky little laugh. “You always looked so kissable, with that worried look all over your face. I’ve always wanted to try it. I just didn’t know if you swung that way.”

“Well, I obviously do!”

He laughed, short and musical, and it sent Stelios’ heart fluttering. “That’s good to know. Stelios, I think you’re pretty damn fine, but I’m going to Switzerland in two hours and you’re going to California. This isn’t the time to sort out a relationship, especially right after Yulia.”

It was bittersweet, but the truth. Stelios nodded. “Yeah… I guess so. I’m sorry if this complicated things.”

Gabe shrugged again, glancing over at his returning parents rounding a corner. “It would’ve gotten complicated anyway. We can have this conversation after we graduate, okay? Promise.”

“What… How would that even work?”

“Well… Let’s just say if I still want to know what kissing you would be like in four years, and you’re still madly in love with me,” Gabriel gently pecked his cheek, and a blush spread across his face. “Then we can try and figure something out. Until then.” He gave Stelios a little, playful salute. “Adios, amigos.”

Though he wasn’t exactly sure how to feel about his situation, Stelios had something to look forward to, even if it just mean graduating would be that much sweeter, and he smiled just a little as he turned to leave the airport. “Four years.”

“Four years!” Gabe called after him, cheerful and excited despite the situation. “In four years we can make it work, Stell!”


And a couple of characters I wanted to develop maybe eight or nine months ago and forgot about completely. The scene isn't finished, but I don't have any plans to finish it anytime soon.
Spoiler
“If I am gothic lolita, then you are a criminal, and you should be killed by an army of little girls…”

Reese nearly jumped at the soft, unmistakable voice, glancing over to the next roof over to see none other than Lachlan, seated on his own roof, earbuds predictably in, looking up at the starry night sky. She felt her otherwise cold heart flutter at the sound of his impressive soprano-he’d proven to have a huge vocal range, no matter how shy he was with it.

“Reese?”

Reese did jump at her name, caught up in sudden eye contact with Lock, who must’ve seen her out of the corner of his eye. He’d popped an earbud out, and had a surprised look and a feeble blush on his face. She blinked. “Uh… Why are you out so late? It’s past midnight.”

Lock smiled with a little laugh, the one Reese was utterly in love with, and she swallowed nervously. “I could say the same to you. Why are you out here so late, anyway?”

“I-I asked first,” She stuttered, internally facepalming-she was usually much smoother than how she was currently fairing. Perhaps summer had thrown her off practice.

Lock didn’t seem to mind or care (maybe both) as he leaned back against the bit of roof that rose a little above the rest with a sigh. “Insomnia. You?”

“Oh, I…” Her reason seemed petty and stupid compared to his, and quietly, she replied, “I just fought with my brother over something stupid, and I thought I’d cool off…”

“Oh.” The brunette boy cocked his head at her. “Aren’t you and your brother close, though?”

“Yeah, which is why it sucks so much.”

For a moment, there was silence between them, and Reese could feel tears pricking her eyes, despite her stubborn straight face. She really did hate fighting with Adrian, especially when it came to her own decisions, and that night had been no exception, with the topic being where she was going with her education and her life.

“Hey, I…” Lachlan seemed to be carefully considering his words, as usual, and Reese took the moment to wipe away the single tear that had attempted to escape. “Lock, you don’t have to-”

“Come here.”

“What?”

“I… Please don’t make me repeat myself.” The green-eyed girl blinked at her neighbour again, whose face was gaining colour rapidly. “I-I mean, you don’t have to, o-of course…”

“No, I…” Reese made her way to where the two roofs were closest, lightly hopping over the little gap between them. “You just surprised me for a sec.”

Lock gave her a bit of an amused smile, motioning for her to sit beside him, which she did, snuggling into his warmth in the surprisingly chilly summer night. He chuckled softly, as musically as all his other little laughs though, and despite her determination not to fall for the boy with the beautiful voice next door, Reese was sure she was failing as he slid an arm around her silently, letting her snuggle into his side.

It was comfortable, nevertheless, and despite her previous anger, Reese could feel her exhaustion catching up to her. She hadn’t slept much for the past little while, whether it be for her music or for her own enjoyment. With a stifled yawn, she asked, “What are you listening to?”

“Emilie Autumn,” Lock replied in a quiet murmur, his voice as beautiful as ever. “Do you want to hear?”

Hesitantly, Reese nodded, gently taking the earbud he’d offered her, unsure what to feel about the gothic sounding music. It was unlike her own usual rock, or his usual mix of well, everything, though it wasn’t to say she didn’t like it.

“Can you sing it?”

She’d asked without thinking, and wasn’t sure to regret it or not as Lachlan’s cheeks immediately gained a noticeable pink hue. She knew very well he was shy already, after all.

“Ah, I don’t…” He bit his lip, taking a breath, before laughing nervously, “You have faith in my pitch, Reese’s Pieces.”

“C’mon, I know you have a great voice.” She nudged him playfully, a hopeful little grin working its way across her lips. “And it’s the middle of the night. No one’s up to hear you but me.”

“Well, I…” Lock gnawed his bottom lip, scanning her face-perhaps for a reason to say no? Either way, he sighed, glancing up to the sky again. “God, you’re so cute…”

The short caramel blonde blushed at the compliment-am I really cute to him? I mean, I think he’s pretty cute… “Ah… Okay, this next part I know pretty well, so…” Reese watched quietly as he cleared his throat, before beginning in his alluring, somehow masculine yet perfectly pitched voice, “I’m gothic lolita, and you are a criminal, I’m not even legal, I’m just a dead little girl. But ruffles and laces and candy sweet faces directed your furtive hand… I perfectly understand…” The taller boy trailed off, his words hanging in the night. For a moment, Reese was silent, her body alight and tingling with the sound of her neighbour’s voice and his perfect singing, and though she opened her mouth to speak, it took a long few seconds for her to actually speak-”That was beautiful.”

Lock laughed, rubbing his neck. “I’ll… never be as good as the real thing…”

“Your voice is the best thing I’ve ever heard, come on,” She argued back, and he nudged her, smiling a little playfully. “You don’t count. You have a weird voice fetish.”

“It’s not weird!” Reese nudged him back, a little giggled bubbling up as he hugged her closer, muffling her in his arm. Laughing, she pushed him off. “Lock!”

Lock simply let out a laugh of his own, sending shivers down her spine again, and it didn’t make it better when he chuckled under his breath, “You’re so adorable…”

“You know,” Reese cleared her throat through her stutter, despite her flaming cheeks and the chills she got from her neighbour’s voice. “If I’m really that cute, it’s a wonder I’m single, huh?”

A ghost of a smirk slid over Lachlan’s lips, one that was immediately gone, and though she could feel her heart fluttering, there was a hot flash of indignation as he replied in his usual quiet tone, “A real wonder. A shame, huh.”

“A shame,” She echoed with her own little hum, leaning against him again with a little yawn. “It is indeed.”

There were another few moments of silence in the comfortable night, the only sounds the nighttime bugs. It was a nice lull, and between the warmth Lock had enveloped her in and how much her argument with Adrian had already exhausted her, Reese couldn’t help but yawn again, stubbornly keeping her eyes open.

“Hey, Reese’s Pieces, if you’re that tired, you should hop back over.”

“Hmm?” Reese blinked up at Lock, stifling a yawn as she smiled. “I’m cute enough to strangle with a hug, but not cute enough to use your shoulder as a pillow. I see.”

“No, no, I…” There was a pause as again, the taller boy thought over his words with a little lyrical hum. “Sleeping on rooftops generally isn’t a good idea…”

I'm on a bit of a spree of digging up my older writing lately. Most of it's hideous D:

5
Develop Your Story / The Will
« on: May 21, 2018, 07:06:00 PM »
Maybe one of these days I'll become a regular and do what I came here to do - give and get criticism - but today is not that day. Instead, here's something I'll update sporadically. Here's something I started a long time ago and maybe I'll start back up if I can get around to it. Maybe it'll convince me to get back to writing actual stuff.


The Will

Spoiler
Dear everyone,

I suppose if you’ve finally opened this, things have taken an unfortunate turn. Nevertheless, please read this. Don’t skim; I won’t be happy if you do, dead or not.

So I’m… Gone, at this point, for a lack of better words. I know all of you wanted me to stay… Maybe I should have. Maybe things would have gotten better somehow, but I just couldn’t. I’m sorry, not for me, but for you guys. I’m sorry you befriended someone as destructive as myself, and that you had to go through this. No one should have to deal with the death of someone they know well… But no one should have to endure the pain I had to either. I’m sorry, though. Please don’t hate me for it. Things weren’t getting better for me. There was nothing for me to look forward to, and though I love you guys, I hate the idea I might be hurting you through my own failure. There was nothing for me. Everything I looked at was poisoned by my awful anxiety, my relationships with you guys included. Maybe you didn’t deserve to deal with my death… But you also didn’t deserve to deal with me. And I couldn’t deal with the world.

I guess… This isn’t your typical suicide note. I don’t know what you were expecting, really, though - I wasn’t ever one to do the typical thing, was I? I just felt like you guys needed more than a few lines scribbled on a scrap piece of paper. You deserve more than that, honestly. So here you are. My ‘will’, I guess. Me making sure all of my books and games and music aren’t locked in a basement for all eternity. Me trying to help you from beyond the grave, because we all know that none of you are near perfect.

My death doesn’t have to be a bad thing. This entire package is about that. We go to funerals to celebrate the lives of people we care about not mourn and fall into depression, so take my life and do something with it. Something I couldn’t do. Don’t let this permanently slow you down. I’ll come back and haunt you ‘till the day you die if you do.

I really want all of you to be happy, even if it isn’t immediate, and you have to understand that can happen without me. I promise it can. So smile. Force it. Respect my wishes as a dead person. And take every one of your letters to heart. I meant every one of my last words to you.


Cody


Letters to the friends:
To:Haven
Dear Ven,

I didn’t get to see a lot of you before I did what I did, which was probably for the best. You smiled so much, especially with Arie. I didn’t want to make you unhappy with how unhappy I was. I hope you were okay, though. You certainly looked happy, with that scholarship and with your thing with Arie. Hopefully this doesn’t change that too much.

So I guess if you’re reading this I’m probably gone, considering where I put this and all. It’d be a little awkward if I wasn’t, huh? I don’t even want to think about it while writing this, haha. You’d be so pissed. You probably are right now anyway… But hear me out, alright? Try and understand where I’m coming from, even if you don’t want to.

I wasn’t happy, Ven, and you knew it. I was just never a happy kid, and it wasn’t anyone’s fault. I was always sad, and nothing was working. Maybe it would have gotten better, maybe the thing with Alisa was just what sent me over. I wasn’t happy, or pleasant to be around. I don’t know what else I can say except for you to try and accept that what’s done is done, and I’m sorry I hurt you like this.

I said that that this wasn’t your typical suicide note, and, well, I meant it. There’s a difference between grieving and depression, Ven, and I’m not letting you fall into the same hole I was stuck in for so long, and I don’t care how much you have to force it, but you’ve gotta try and put some effort into being okay. Even if it’s just smiling, or letting Arie take care of you. You’ve got a great life ahead of you, a great girlfriend, a great family… You can come back from something like this. You’ve got to come back from this. For me. For Dad, if nothing else.

I said I was going to give some of my honest-to-goodness advice to you and the rest of my friends, but I don’t have much to say to you, Ven. You were always my role model, yanno, whether I said it or not. You’re so goddamn perfect. It’s super *censored*ing irritating, actually, you know, with your perfect grades and your perfect girlfriend and your perfect job… I mean, can you blame me for being so unhappy trying to live up to that? Haha… I’m joking about that, though. You were a the best brother I ever had, and I guess the only advice I can give to you is to keep being that person I looked up to up till the day I died, because even if I wanted to rip your perfect eyeballs out of your perfect head, that person is the best person I knew.

I suppose I also said I’d be leaving my ‘will’ to you all. I don’t have a lot to give you, Ven, you weren’t as invested in my personal life as my friends were, but I hope you can make do with what I decided on. With that, I leave to you:
-My journal. Diary, whatever you want to call it. The only thing I ask of you is that you let Penn have his time with it too. I could tell you where it is, but I’m 99.9% sure that you know where it is anyway.
-My money. I guess you already figured out that my cash is in this envelope. I didn’t want it to go to waste, so use it wisely. I dunno. Take Arie out somewhere nice. Save for uni or something.
-The stuffed seal, Snowflake. I can already hear you laughing at me, but I know you wanted Dad to give her to you instead of me that day when we visited the amusement park. So now you get it. Ten years later, but still.
-My photo album. I don’t know what you’d do with it… But it seems right, and I don’t want it to just sit in the basement and gather dust. I’m sure there’s something in there Dad would like too.
-Mom’s stuff, in that little wooden box on my desk. Try and see if she’ll take it back when she comes back, but I thought you’d like to have stuff from her.
-My phone. I reset it so there isn’t a password. I don’t think there’s anything too bad on there. Hopefully there isn’t, but there’s a reason I left it to you and not Dad.
-My pin collection. I dunno, but I like them, you like them, and maybe they’ll be a reminder of how annoying I was. I also really do like a lot of them, and I don’t really trust anyone else to make sure they don’t get lost.

So there we go, Ven. I really don’t know what to say except I’m sorry, I really am, but I know that you can get through this. You’ve got a lot going for you, and this can’t be what ruins that. I’ll haunt you until you get back on track. You really were a good brother, and you made moments of my life good. And none of this is your fault, so don’t go blaming this on yourself either. I love you.

Cody

To:Penn
Dear Penn,

I don’t really know where to start with this, so I guess I’ll just say the obvious. I love you. I didn’t really say it a lot. Maybe I was scared one day it would come out of my mouth and I’d realize it wasn’t true, that what we claimed to be a star-crossed romance was just a high school crush, or that I’d moved on from something great, but I can safely say that I love you and mean it. I guess I didn’t say it a lot, but I guess it felt like I didn’t I needed to. We didn’t need to say it over and over, did we? I don’t think we did.

Hopefully… Hopefully you aren’t too mad at me. And hopefully you don’t take this the wrong way. I guess there isn’t really a good way to take a suicide, though, huh… Regardless, what I’m getting at is that I didn’t want to die, but I… I also didn’t want to live. Not how things were going, I didn’t. It wasn’t your fault, because I know you’re going to try and blame yourself. You didn’t do anything wrong, Penn. It was probably my fault you had to go through this anyway. I shouldn’t have messed up your life with my problems. I’m so, so sorry that I did. You’re such an amazing person. I meant it when I said you can’t let this ruin you. You have to move forward. I guess that’s the point of this letter to you. I’m not going to let you curl up and throw away your life.

There are a few things I want to say before I get ot the rest of the letter, though. I know I already said it like a paragraph ago, but I love you. You know, when you explained that soulmates thing you believe in to me, I thought you were crazy. I still think it’s kind of insane, but I guess at the time of me writing this, I can believe that just maybe, we were soulmates, even if it’s awfully absurd sounding. I really did fall in love with you, and maybe… Maybe if I knew I was going to live longer I would have seen some great future with marriage and kids and… And a life with you. I never thought I’d feel these things before I met you, and god, everyone called us crazy, but I loved you to death and back, and I didn’t want anything else. You made me happy. You extended my life, and I love you even more for that. Alongside me gushing like the teenage girl I am, you can’t let me saying this tie you down. I’m not saying you should go out there and date the first girl you see, but you’re such an amazing person, and you deserve an amazing life with an amazing love. You said yourself, while you were explaining your soulmate theory that people can have more than one soulmate. So remember that. I want you to fall in love again one day. You were the love of my life, and it’s okay that I wasn’t the love of yours.

Well… I guess this is the part where I make sure I give you all the advice I can. I was serious about that, yanno. You probably thought I was joking, but I’m not gonna let you stumble through life without a guardian angel. So here we go, just a few things I want you to keep in mind.

First off. You’re shy as hell, Penn, which is very cute, but not good for making friends. I’m not saying you should go out there and advertise yourself, but even just starting small is something. You don’t really know a lot of my friends well, right? Well, they’re all fantastic people, and I think you should really try and get to know them, Penn, even if it’s just you and Elliot sitting down for lunch. I always wanted you to get yourself out there, you knew that. So do it. Try your best to… Because between you and me, they’re probably going to need you too. And if it comes out we were dating… Well, I’m sure Adelia and Sabian will have more than a few questions.

Cut yourself some slack. You’re too hard on yourself and you know it. Not everything is your fault, this included.

6
General Manga writer discussions / What are you writing?
« on: May 06, 2018, 08:21:15 PM »
What are you writing? And if you aren't writing, why aren't you writing?

I'm trying to finish up with my YA novel and get back into writing about my crew of space mercenaries, but it's pretty difficult. I also really should get back into the world of my castle romance/fantasy/adventure before summer starts.

What're you writing about?

7
break Room / Tea or Coffee?
« on: April 29, 2018, 12:47:27 PM »
Which do you prefer and why? I'm a tea person myself because coffee is nasty unless a f*ckton of sugar is dumped in it, and I grew up on Japanese teas.

8
Manga Creations / Robot-Isolda's Story
« on: April 25, 2018, 05:46:17 PM »
So someone suggested I actually write out what happened between Isolda and Ray, two characters in my YA novel. Though it isn't necessary to read the novel, it does fit into that universe. It had to be split into parts because it's a little long. Tell me what you think :)

Spoiler
"It's getting late. Are we really gonna pull an all-nighter?"

"Hell yeah!" Ray smiled a little at Leo's cheerful reply. He sounded far too energetic for nearly two in the morning, but then again, he was probably more hopped up on sugar and caffeine from soda and candy than he'd been in a long time, considering his parent's lack of junk food.

"Hey Ray, catch!"

Ray was caught off-guard by the pillow that smacked him in the face, and immediately retaliated by whacking his attacker over the head with it-which in retrospect, probably hadn't been the best idea. He let out a little laugh as Miles tried to finish what he'd started and knock him back, but managed to catch the small blond's hands before he could do any damage. With an uncharacteristic grin, Ray pushed him off. "Too slow."

"I'm not!" The Spanish boy stifled a gasp of surprise as Angela finished off the job, practically pouncing on him, knocking him flat on his back and sitting on his stomach with a shout of victory. "Haha, twin power!"

"It kind of isn't fair there are two of you," Yvette stated, only to be put into a playful chokehold by Miles, who despite his size, was probably stronger than all of them. She laughed, raising her hands in defeat. "Okay, okay, I take it back, you two are golden children!"

"That's more like it," Angela agreed from where she was still sitting on Ray's stomach. He didn't care too much-Angela couldn't have weighed more than ninety-five pounds, and no matter how childish their wrestling was, it'd just been something him and the Verde twins had done since they were little. With a small, amused smile on his face, he glanced around the wrecked basement. He wasn't sure what he'd been expecting when Yvette had suggested they spend the night in his basement (considering how overbearing Ray's mother was, it seemed the least likely house for any incidents to occur), but as he glanced around his homey basement, with pillows and couch cushions and bits of snacks here and here, it was anything but its usual neatness, especially with how rowdy all of them were getting.

Except...

"Hey, Iso." With a little nudge, he pushed Angela off (she only protested a little), sliding over to sit next to the beautiful brunette against the wall. Though she didn't look unhappy as she watched the rest of their friends wrestle and tease, she looked almost lonely sitting with her knees brought to her chest against the wall, hazel eyes boring into the scene in front of her. Ray smiled a little, nudging her lightly. "What's up, buttercup?"

"Hmm?" Isolda glanced up to him-had she even realized he'd been there?-and smiled a little, letting her head rest on his shoulder. "Nothing. I'm just thinking."

"You sure?"

She nodded, shying into him as Leo threw something that came a little too close to her. The brunette girl laughed lightly, that laugh that got him stupidly affectionate and tingly. "Things are kinda rowdy down here though..."

Ray nodded in agreement, and before he could think things through, stood up and held out a hand to her. "C'mon."

Isolda blinked at him in surprise-hell, he was surprised too. It wasn't often he was so adamant about things, especially about things he didn't think through. It seemed to work, though, because she took his callused hand with a cock of her head. "What are you..."

"Let's go somewhere calmer," He suggested, leading her out of the basement. Ray heard Leo whistle lowly from behind him. "Damn, Ray, you could've just asked for some privacy with her! Don't have to run off to do whatever nasty things you're going to do!"

Isolda let out a little giggle, and Ray rolled his eyes, not bothering to reply as they left the basement. The brunette girl closed the door behind them. "Thanks. It's a little quieter here."

"Are you sure that's all that was bothering you?" He was coddling her, but he cared, maybe a little too much. He'd done it with other friends he'd crushed on, and Leo called it a sure sign he'd fallen for someone, even if he just appeared a little overbearing to everyone else. It was no wonder Isolda sometimes felt like he was worrying too much about everything.

She nodded, squeezing his hand. "Yeah. Promise."

Ray wasn't exactly convinced, but he didn't have it in him to argue. He had to trust her anyway-if Isolda said she was fine, she was fine. He decided to move on, asking, "Do you want to see the stars?"

Eagerly, she nodded, and Ray had to wonder how he'd gotten lucky enough to find a girl that shared so many of his interests as he took her hand and led her out onto the porch. The summer night was cool, much nicer than the blistering heat during the day, and the sky was clear. It was a beautiful night, stars and constellations reflected in both their eyes as they sat on the first step. "It's a good night."

"Yeah," Isolda agreed, pressing to his side. Ray slid an arm around her, pointing out a constellation. "What's that one? Do you remember?"

"Um..." She hesitated for a moment, fumbling adorably with her blue glasses as she thought, peering up into the night sky. "It's... It's Cancer, right?"

"Yup." He let out a little laugh at her enthusiastic celebration. "You've been doing your homework. Good job."

The pretty brunette smiled at him, nudging him with her elbow playfully. "Only for you, baby."

They sat in near-silence for awhile, Ray pointing out constellations and planets every so often. He liked the silence, the sounds of the night surrounding them as Isolda leaned into his side, her breathing light and calm, even as she shivered every so often. It was nice, and it gave him a sense of peace. It was perfect.

Well, almost.

"Are you cold?" The young Spaniard asked, and though she shook her head, Ray could see the lie as she shivered again. With a sigh, he unzipped his hoodie, handing it to her. "Here."

She smiled at him as she slid it on. It was too big on her small frame, and she was nearly swimming in it. It was adorable, and as she half-zipped it up, he pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "You look good in that."

"It smells like you," She replied, guiding him into a real kiss with little hesitation. Though he could feel his cheeks heating up and his fingers fumbled for a grip on her hip, Ray returned it, soft and innocent. He wasn't the better kisser of them, and romance had always been Isolda's specialty. That didn't mean he didn't like kissing her, though, and he caught her bottom lip between his own with the next one, pressing her back to the fence on the porch. A hand hidden in the sleeves of his sweater came up to grab his bare forearm, and he pulled back. "Sorry, Iso."

"I didn't tell you to stop, did I?" She was teasing him a little, but he could see a part of her was completely serious. Without another thought, Ray kissed Isolda again, and let the sounds of the night carry his worries away.


"Where did you go with Isolda that night?"

"Huh?" Ray glanced over at the blond boy, rolling his eyes as he did. Miles was sitting upside down on the armchair and focused on his handheld video game console, his eyes darting back and forth across the screen. Looking back to his book, the Spanish boy replied, "We went out to the porch. It was a nice night."

"Damn, didn't know you were into exhibitionism."

It was casual and lazy, and though he sent a glare in the direction of his best friend, the blond still hadn't looked up from his game. There was a telltale grin on his freckled face, though-he knew he'd gotten under the Spanish teen’s skin. Ray took a breath as his phone vibrated, unlocking it and replying, "I'm not. You guys all think I'm some sort of pervert because I have a girlfriend. I'm not the one with softcore porn on my phone."

"Hey!" The Spanish boy smiled to himself as Miles protested loudly-of course that had gotten his attention. "I don't! That's Leo, I swear, he sends that *censored* to me!"

"Mhm. That sounds real legitimate."

The small skater let out an irritated scoff. "Whatever. I hate you."

Ray let out a little chuckle as he dismissed his other messages and went to open Isolda's text. "All the same, Bubbles."

Other than the 80s music playing from Miles' speaker and the various sounds from the video game, it was silent in the Verde's small, comfy living room. Ray stretched out on the couch, checking Isolda's text. 'Are you free? I really need to talk to you and the twins if they're around.'

Isolda wants to talk?
Isolda wasn't the silent, thoughtful type like he was-if she needed to talk and she hadn’t already said something, it was typically something important, and including the Verdes was even more concerning. With a sigh, he pushed himself up off the comfortable couch. "Hey, Bubbles, Iso wants to talk."

"Cool." Miles seemed to only be half-listening. "I get it. You have a girlfriend. Go be with her."

"No." Ray rolled his eyes and tossed a throw pillow from the couch at his friend, who finally looked up from his game, obviously unimpressed as he readjusted his glasses. "She wants to talk to all of us. Or you and me and Angela at least."

"Oh," Miles replied-it seemed he'd finally taken his attention away from the game for more than a second. "That's weird. I didn't know you guys were into polygamy."

"Miles Valentine Verde I am going to *censored*ing strangulate you in two seconds."

"Okay, okay. Don't need to bring my middle name into this." Though his tone was irritated, Miles was grinning as he stood up, calling up the stairs, "Angie! We're going to Isolda's!"

"Now?" Ray saw Angela's head pop out of her room. With the warm weather and increasing amount of sunny days, her lupus was getting bad, and he could see the signature butterfly rash beginning to form over her nose. Miles nodded. "Yeah. She wants to talk about something or another."

"Okay," The female half of the twins replied with a sigh, retreating back into her room. "Just... Let me put on something so I won't die in the sunlight."

Miles nodded again, and Ray sighed. Angela had been diagnosed with systemic lupus just before they'd entered middle school, and though she had her good days and her bad ones, summer had always been a particularly harsh season. The sunlight was an awful trigger, and the tiny blonde girl had been bedridden for weeks during past summer vacations.

"I'm ready!"

Ray smiled a little as she practically skipped down the stairs, an umbrella in hand. It was a pretty walking parasol, a simple cyan blue that gradually faded into a lime green, a present he'd bought her for graduation. Though she was still wearing a thin hoodie, the floppy hood pulled up over her head, it allowed her to wear something lighter on the bottom-hence the knee-length skirt that fluttered with her every step. Miles smiled too, grabbing his keys from the bowl in the door and motioning for his sister to hurry up. "C'mon, you're so slow these days."

"Oh shut up." The exchange was light and playful, something Ray didn't quite understand-him and his own sister had always fought mercilessly with each other, yet the Verde twins had always been two peas in a pod. No matter what insults Angela and Miles threw at each other, none of them seemed to mean anything. It was bizarre, and Ray had never really been surprised at all the incest jokes and rumours that'd circulated about them.

"Why're we going to Isolda's?" Angela asked, opening her parasol as they began down the Verde's driveway and onto the sidewalk. Miles shrugged, looking over at Ray. "I dunno. Why're we going to Isolda's, Ray?"

Ray shook his head with a shrug, sliding his hands into the pockets of his sleeveless hoodie. "I'm not sure. She said she needed to talk to us. That's it."

"See, that's weird, right?" Miles asked, and Angela nodded. "Yeah, it is. Especially considering how often she complains Ray's always with us."

The tall Spanish boy nodded in agreement-though the four of them plus Leo had been friends since fourth grade, Isolda had often complained their time alone together was too limited. Maybe it was, but Ray had never been the type of person to forget about his friends for a girl-and he hoped he never would be.

"It's always been the five of us," Miles said stubbornly after a moment, crossing his arms over his chest as they waited for the streetlight in what was beginning to feel like blistering sunlight. "Your relationship with Isolda isn't going to change that."

Though he made a little sound of agreement along with Angela, Ray had an uneasy feeling in his gut. Isolda and him were sweet together... But the dynamic between the five of them had changed since their relationship had progressed, and he was almost sure it hadn't been for the better.


"Wow, you managed to get the twins on board, huh?"

"Yup." Ray smiled, kissing Isolda's forehead as they were welcomed into her house. It was bigger than his or the Verde's-she had three siblings and a grandfather than lived with them. It needed to be big. Though it was beautiful and intimidatingly large, it was also messy-though it seemed to be cleaner than usual, Ray noticed. "Proud of me?"

"Very." Isolda smiled at him, but something in the air was off. Perhaps it was the rare tidiness of the main level. The brunette turned to the twins. "Hey, you two. It's been awhile."

"Yeah, since you and Ray snuck off at our grad thing," Angela agreed, and Ray gave her a look. Isolda simply laughed, though he could hear the embarrassment laced through it-not that he minded. It was cute, to say the least.

"Why'd you have us over?" Miles asked curiously, more straightforward than usual. He could tell both him and Angela wanted to know what was going on, and though he was more preoccupied with spending time with his girlfriend, Ray couldn't deny he was curious too.

"I..." Isolda hesitated unusually-unlike Ray, she tended to have all her words constantly on the tip of her tongue. It was rare to see her thinking about what to say, and when she finally spoke, it wasn't what he was expecting-"Do you guys want to come in? My grandpa just made lunch, you could sit down.

Though he could see Miles starting to speak out of the corner of his eye, Ray made sure he beat his friend to it. "We ate, but I don't mind coming in."

The pretty brunette girl nodded, leading them through the house. Though it wasn't so different from the rest of the messy house, boxes and bags were stacked here and there to make up for the lack of mess. He wasn't complaining-Isolda's little brothers were messy and generally left things from stuffed animals to the dreaded Legos everywhere.

Speaking of which...

"Hi Ray! Hi Miles! Hi Angela!"

Despite the fact he'd never been a fan of children (his nightmare job was a teacher) the tall Spaniard smiled at the short boy seated at the table. Lukas might've been annoying and something of a snob for an eight-year-old, but he was still Isolda's littlest brother. He waved a little to him, and then the elderly man sitting at the other end of the kitchen table. "Hey, Lukas. Afternoon, Mr Webber."

Lukas promptly hopped up out of his chair to show the four of them what he'd been working on-a drawing, it looked like, almost too good for his age. There was a house, a truck, and a group of people waving to someone it looked like, but otherwise, he picture had no meaning to Ray. He was about to ask the little boy what it was when Lukas said proudly, "It's a present for Papa. He's moving soon, so I have to make something so he doesn't forget about us."

"Your dad is moving?" Miles spoke all of their thoughts. Isolda's father moved for his work often, but it'd seemed for the past few years he'd settled down in the suburbs of Toronto along with them. Ray cocked his head at her. "Why didn't you tell us?"

"Well.. That's... what I was going to tell you," Isolda began hesitantly, placing a hand atop Lukas' head, perhaps so he wasn't bouncing around with his usual energy while they spoke. "My dad's going to Colorado at the end of the summer." Her bespectacled gaze looked almost guilty as she spoke, her eyes focusing on Ray. And, um... I'm going with him."

What?

The usually loud, busy kitchen fell completely silent other than Isolda's grandfather turning the pages of the newspaper. After a few moments, he chuckled from his seat, his German accent as thick as usual. "I told you they weren't going to take it well Iso."

"Shut up Opa!" Isolda hissed, but the old man only laughed to himself again. Though Ray couldn't find any words whatsoever, Angela seemed to have plenty for the three of them. "What the hell? You're leaving?"

"Angie, it's only for-"

"Don't you dare 'Angie' me!" Ray could see the grip on the handle of her parasol was tight enough to turn her knuckles white. Her voice rose as she spoke. "Isolda, what the hell is that? Are you being forced to leave?"

Guilt was written all over her adorable face, and Ray knew the answer before she answered in a quiet, defeated voice. "No."

"Then why are you leaving?"

"There's a school down in Denver that could really help my acting up to par," She replied as if she'd rehearsed it a million times-maybe she had, Ray thought as his girlfriend continued quietly. "My dad would be working with the school board, and it'd really help me out..."

"More than staying in Canada would?" Though Miles' voice wasn't as obviously angry as Angela's, there was a bite to it-he wasn't happy. Ray watched as he crossed his arms. "Isolda, it's been the five of us for half a decade. It was always going to be the five of us. We're going into high school in two months."

"I..." She seemed lost for words, and she looked to Ray with a desperate look. "Ray, help me out here."

"I..." Ray hesitated-what was he supposed to say? He was shocked, to say the least-was Isolda really choosing to leave them after so many years? They were dating on top of it...

"Iso... What am I supposed to say?" He finally settled on, watching her face become more distraught. What was he supposed to say? He wasn't happy, and he wasn't about to encourage her to leave, but how was he supposed to side with her, then? It was too much to think about, and his voice was flat when he continued, "I'm not happy about this either..."

Isolda crossed her arms over her chest-it probably didn't help the situation already wasn't great, but Ray could immediately tell she wasn't satisfied with what he'd said. "You sound like you wouldn't care one way or the other."

"Isolda, I..." The accusatory look he was getting from the German girl wasn't helping his scrambled mind function, and though the words were right, his tone fell flat again, purely out of confusion. "I care a lot. It's just... A shock. You're choosing to leave us..." To leave me, he wanted to add, but the friendship the five of them shared should have the priority, not their romance.

She still wasn't happy-none of them were, at that point. The air in the kitchen was tense and uncomfortable, and Ray took a deep breath. He had a feeling things weren't going  to end well one way or another.

Finally, someone broke the silence-Isolda's grandfather. In his usual, gruff German accent, he said casually, "Iso. Perhaps you should let it sink in a little. And you three, take some time to think." He rolled the newspaper and stood up from the table. "You shouldn't lose your friendship to something like this."

"He's right," Ray sighed as the elderly man left the room, Lukas trailing after him-he seemed to have sensed the change in mood as well. The Spanish boy took a step forward to press a kiss to Isolda's lips, lingering just a bit longer than he probably should have to try and gain back her faith in him. Her face was still unhappy as he pulled back, and with a sigh, the raven-haired boy apologized. " I'm sorry, Iso, this is... big. Your grandfather's right. We should all think."

Isolda nodded after a moment, walking them to the door. "Alright. I'll see you guys later then."

Both the twins nodded back, and though Angela said nothing as she opened the door, Miles gave her a little, somewhat forced smile. "See you, Isolda."

She smiled back, though it wasn't completely legitimate, before turning to Ray with those big, worried eyes under the lenses of her glasses. "Ray..."

"It'll... It'll be okay," Ray assured her, straightening her glasses on her nose with a smile of his own-though none of it felt honest, his words included. "We'll figure it out, Iso, we always do."

9
Develop Your Story / Beta Readers Wanted
« on: April 21, 2018, 05:17:58 PM »
Though I edit my work and do my very best to make it better, I can't do everything myself, so a few beta readers would really help me out. I'm not looking for anything particularly serious other than someone to help me out or point out any things that could be changed, and all criticism is welcome, as long as it's constructive. I also want to know if my quality of writing is any good, which can be hard to get from friends and family.

As of right now, I'm writing YA fiction, which is what I need opinions on the most. Again, I'm not looking for anything too serious, just to gain insight on my writing and how I write.

10
Comics and other Gallery / My first time drawing in years
« on: April 11, 2018, 07:50:45 PM »
I'm not good at art, and I've never been good at drawing, no matter how hard I try, so I obviously gave it up for writing. Someone suggested I try a more graffiti-esque style though, so I thought I might put up my less-than-amateur work somewhere. It's not great, but it was nice to try and make something after a couple years. Maybe I'll see if I can get good at this style sometime.

*I took it down for now; if I actually do start drawing again I'll put it up with whatever else I've done.

11
General Manga writer discussions / Feeling like trash
« on: April 01, 2018, 06:46:59 PM »
I've written probably more than I've done anything else since I've been very young, and I've been published a couple times here and there. It's been many years, maybe a few since I've started writing bigger stories, and I feel like everything I put on paper is absolute trash. I've been told that this is a widespread problem with writers, but I can't get past it-for all I know my writing is that bad. I can't see any improvement at all in what I'm producing, and it just feels like I've wasted years of my life. It's just a crappy feeling overall.

12
General Manga writer discussions / Camp Nanowrimo
« on: March 31, 2018, 11:12:30 PM »
There's definitely gotta be a nano post out there, but I dunno if there's a camp nano one. I'm doing camp nanowrimo this April, which is, for those of you who don't know basically nanowrimo with a flexible goal. Though I was expecting it to just be another thing to have to worry about, I'm actually pretty excited to get back into writing something every day. Has anyone else done camp nanowrimo? Will I be burned out by the end of the month? Am I too optimistic for my own good? Probably. But I'm gonna do it anyway!

13
Music / Drumming and Hand Cramps
« on: March 25, 2018, 05:13:12 PM »
I've been working really hard to finish a drum piece that's faster than I usually play and full of sixteenth notes, and though I'm at full speed, I can barely play the piece through once without the area between my thumb and my forefinger cramping to the point I have to stop and take a break. My music teacher and a couple of other drummers I know have suggested I switch from my usual 7A and 7B sticks to 5A or 5B because they're thicker and I won't have to tighten my grip so much, but I really like how light 7B drumsticks are. Is it really the best idea to switch?

14
General Manga writer discussions / Turn-offs-Writers and Artists
« on: March 24, 2018, 11:29:48 AM »
Admittedly, I have't been here for too long, and I also haven't worked with a ton of people, so if any of this is wrong or you disagree, don't hesitate to say so. I've worked with a few writers and artists alike in the last little while, and it can be difficult knowing who to work with and who to turn down. If you're anything like me, you might poke around on a person's profile for awhile before you decide-and there are some major turn-offs I've found, not just here but anywhere where writers and artists gather. Here are my big ones:

1-Spelling/Grammar. This one probably gets under my skin the most, especially when someone is a writer. Though there are obviously reasons why someone isn't adept with language sometimes, when I see a writer make more than one or two posts with awful grammar or spelling, I'm immediately going to think that this person's writing will be of the same quality. It blows my mind how many writers on the internet make posts like this and assume people will choose them over someone else. I don't mean a spelling error here or there either-the entire post is full of mistakes. This somewhat applies to artists, but not in the same way.

2-Narcissism. This one applies to both artists and writers. It also tends to go hand in hand with spelling and grammar issues. There's a difference between promoting your work and being narcissistic, or being honest and being narcissistic. There are a whole variety of different ways you see this, but it's usually evident someone's giving themselves too much credit when they go on about how much better they are than others or say their work is perfect-stuff like that. At the same time, don't be self-deprecating, or try not to be, because that's also a turn-off for anyone willing to work with you. Just be as honest as you can about your skill level, even if it means taking a step back to reevaluate your work.

3-Self-Promotion Monsters. Truthfully, I haven't seen a ton of this here, but it tends to run rampant almost everywhere else. This sort of ties in with narcissism. Self-promoting in the right way at the right time can make you a lot of business or get your work out there, but too much self-promotion is a right turn-off, at least for me. Don't be a spammer with your self-promotion. Personally, I like to sit back and go with the flow rather than self-promote, but there is a middle ground between that and promoting yourself in all the right (and wrong) places and times. If you're going to promote yourself, don't be a monster about it.

This could be completely wrong, so tell me if it is! And are there more turn-offs out there I should avoid?

15
General Manga writer discussions / Beta Readers
« on: March 17, 2018, 09:37:07 PM »
I've been trying my best to make my first novel the best it can be, and I've been tweaking it bit by bit every day. Though I wouldn't say I'm ready to delve right into large-scale editing (and maybe it isn't worth that), I've been looking for beta readers. Though I've had a couple, I'm lacking the feedback I need. So my questions are: how do you find beta readers that will help you? When do you disagree with a beta reader? How many beta readers should you have? And when do you know you have enough opinions to move forward from beta readers? It's my first time trying to develop such a project, and I don't only need to know what could be changed, but if I even have what it takes to take my writing to the next level. Any advice would be much appreciated!

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