Heather’s Gift – Short Story Excerpt – Vlog

Listen to me read an excerpt from my book of short stories ❤

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Thanks for watching! ❤ If you like my blog, please consider supporting me by checking out my books 🙂

http://ashleylillybooks.weebly.com/

 

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April Showers

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Jeremy ran a hand through his dark brown hair. He drummed his fingers along the polished, wooden table and sighed. The diner was mostly empty this late at night. The light hanging above the table seemed extra bright, especially in contrast to the pitch black darkness outside the window. When he looked out, all he saw was his sleepy reflection staring back at him.

He tapped two fingers against the old fashioned Jukebox that rested in front of the window. The musical devices adorned every table, but they were rarely used. Each one had a selection of songs from a variety of musicians, including Elvis, Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald. Most patrons at this fine establishment preferred to listen to their iPods, if they listened to music at all, and it was often a way that people, young and old, chose to kill time while they waited for their food. It was easier than trying to make conversation with friends and family. It was easier than trying to pretend one’s day was interesting.

At least, that’s what Jeremy assumed. He’d never owned an iPod, or any similar device. He’d barely owned a cell phone. He had a laptop, though. It was sitting beside him in the dark, orange booth. He always had a laptop.

Across the diner, there was an elderly man reading a newspaper, sipping coffee, with headphones over his ears, bobbing his head to a beat that Jeremy couldn’t hear. The man was listening to his iPod.

Someone cleared her throat. Jeremy looked up to see April. Her wavy, dark hair and her pea coat were wet from the rain. Her lipstick was the color of red rose petals, and her dark mascara was smeared, just a bit. Whether it was from the rain or from tears, he didn’t know, and he wasn’t sure if he should bother to care. She said nothing, but her eyes were pleading, her sincerity almost believable. He nodded his head, gesturing that it was okay for her to join him.

She sat across from him, folding her hands over the table. She looked at his hair, his neck, his wrists, anywhere but his eyes. Her lips parted as though she were about to speak, but was interrupted when a waitress placed a stack of hot pancakes on the table, along with a small container of maple syrup. Jeremy smiled and thanked the waitress, wondering, as he often did, if she’d been working here since this place opened in the 60s.

The waitress’s name was Jenny. She flipped open a notepad, turned to April and asked, “What can I get for you, Dear?”

“Uh, just coffee. Thanks,” she answered. Jenny walked away and Jeremy poured syrup all over his plate of pancakes. He cut a triangle with his knife and grabbed three layers of pancake, dripping syrup, with his fork.

April smirked and nodded toward the plate. “Breakfast for dinner. You’re certainly set in your ways.”

He took a bite of the sweet pancakes and chased it with some nice, cold milk. “Yes, well, one of us has to be.” A silence hung in the air after that. He had nothing to say to her. Nothing.

Jenny came back with a cup of coffee and a bowl of coffee creamers. When she walked away, April opened a sugar packet and poured it into the cup.

“I know you hate me,” she said. She tour open another packet and poured. When she didn’t get an answer, she tried again. “You haven’t answered my messages all week. I got worried.” Seconds ticked by and the silence was palpable. She opened another packet, her final packet, and added it to her coffee before mixing it with a wooden stirrer. It was always three packets. After more silence filled the space between them, she added cream and then took a sip.

He just stared at her, looked her dead in the eyes, trying to be emotionless when all he wanted to do was cry. Or break things. Or both. Instead, he took another sip of milk. He leaned forward, holding her gaze, and spoke his words with intention, careful to pronounce every syllable.

“We had a good thing going, you and I. Picnics at the park, holding hands under the stars, sneaking out to come to this godforsaken diner, pancakes for me, a burger for you. But you had to go and ruin it,” he said. The tears were pooling in his eyes now and his hands were shaking.

She sighed and looked at her hands. “It doesn’t have to be ruined. I mean, it was just one kiss,” she said. It came out wrong, and she knew it. She sounded defensive and she shook her head, as if that could shake away the line that had been drawn between them. “What I mean is, I made a mistake. Gosh, Jer, it’s just, if the roles were reversed, this wouldn’t bother me the way it bothers you. Because you’re your own person and we’re not each other’s property.” She put her hair in a pony tail and placed her fingers on her temples, furrowing her brows. In a whisper, she said, “Things were never supposed to get this bad between us.”

He placed his fork on the table and laughed a bitter laugh. He knew she was telling the truth. That somewhere in the deep recesses of her brain, she actually believed that this was no big deal. Maybe if she dated someone, and that someone kissed an old flame–maybe if he himself had kissed another person, she really would just brush it off like a spec of rubble from her coat sleeve. But he couldn’t do it. It hurt too much.

She pointed to the seat beside him. “I see you brought your laptop. Is that all I am now? A fictionalized story for The West Wing? Another person in your life who has betrayed you in the worst way possible?” The West Wing was their high school’s literary magazine, and Jeremy often wrote stories loosely based on his real life experiences. It was how he coped with the betrayals, with his traumas, but those were stories for another day.

She reached across the table and took his hand. Hers felt warm, soft. It felt like home and he hated that. Tears were streaming down his cheeks now, and he was no longer hungry. He wanted to leave, but he was weak, and he held her hand tighter as if it were the only thing tethering him to this world. Maybe, maybe it was.

“I know I messed up,” she continued, “but please tell me I’m not being put in the same category as all of those people who hurt you. Please tell me I’m not going to get the silent treatment from you for the rest of my life. I…I couldn’t bare that. I couldn’t live with myself if I lost you. We’ve been through too much.”

They were both crying then. He pushed his plate of pancakes aside and grabbed her other hand, holding them both, looking at her chipped, dark blue nail polish. She stroked the back of his hand, and as much as he wanted to be mad at her, he just wasn’t. At least, not in this moment.

“You were all I had, April. I trusted you, and you know how hard it is for me to do that,” he said.

Tears streamed down her face and she nodded. “I know.”

“So why did you lie about the kiss for even a second? Why did you kiss him at all?”

She squeezed his hands tighter. In his peripheral vision, Jeremy could see that the old man with the newspaper took off his headphones and was calling Jenny over. He met April’s eyes, the diner’s lights glistening against her teary pupils like stars. She looked down at the table and shook her head.

“We’re graduating soon. Going to different colleges. I was having self doubts. I worried that once we were apart, our relationship would be over,” she said.

He squinted and studied her. “So your magical solution to this dilemma was to kiss another guy? To make me lie awake at night, imagining you being happy with someone else? You could be with anyone April! You’re beautiful, smart, more normal and more sane than I’ll ever be. You’ll have no problem finding someone new. But me? No, no one is going to want me.

“You and I being together has been nothing more than a glitch in the Matrix. I’ve thought it was too good to be true, and now you’ve just confirmed it.” He was shouting now, loud enough for Jenny to look over in concern, so he lowered his voice. “I’m not another one of your charity projects. If you didn’t want to be with me after graduation, you should have just said so.”

She let her hair loose, got up, and went over to his side of the booth. With gentle hands, she lifted his laptop, placed it on the cleanest section of the table, and sat beside him. She smelled like lilac soap. He thought he’d want to leave the booth and never look back, but he stayed, wanting to stay frozen in this moment forever. Because beyond this moment, there was nothing but uncertainty.

“I kissed Luke,” she started, “because I have a long history of self sabotage. And I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to ruin the one good thing in my life. You. I know I haven’t acted like it, but…I love you, Jer.” It was the first time she’d said it. A civil war raged inside his mind because he’d never wanted to hear those three words from anyone else so badly. But she also cheated on him. She withheld the kiss, only for 24 hours, but still, keeping it a secret for any length of time was enough to make him panic. It was enough to make him think she could do it again.

There were so many things he could say in this moment, so many choices he could make, so many feelings he could express. So, he just chose to say what was on his heart.

“And I love you April,” he said. “And you don’t have to worry. I haven’t written any stories about you. I couldn’t, because you’re right. You’re not like those people who hurt me. You’re better than them.” He leaned forward and kissed her, soft, sweet, urgent, then sweet again.

She pulled away, took his hand, and sighed. “Then why do I feel like I’m worse?”

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Thanks for reading ❤ If you like my blog and would like to support me, please check out my books on Amazon 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/Ashley-Tiara-Lilly/e/B01AAXMC16/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1504718497&sr=8-1

Growing as a Writer – Believe in Yourself – Vlog

In this video, I talk about my journey as a writer. And how you should always believe in yourself, even when you’re working on a new passion or skill. I’ve been making videos with my phone because unfortunately my web cam isn’t the best quality 😂 One of these days I’ll have a proper video camera 😄

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Thanks for watching! ❤ I self published a book of short stories titled Impossible Things. It’s a book of magical realism stories that includes magic, werewolves, and mermaids! There’s also some LGBT and Black girl representation. 🙂

It’s available on Amazon for $20, and it’s available on Kindle and the Kindle App for half price. If you like short stories, check it out here:

https://www.amazon.com/Impossible-Things-Ashley-Tiara-Lilly/dp/1547077476/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing: Which is Better?

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Most writers have one goal–to get their work out into the world. Okay, maybe some writers have a few more fancy goals: like getting published by a “Big 5” publishing house, getting rich by writing a best selling novel, or seeing their books on shelves alongside the works of JK Rowling, John Green, Stephen King, and Nora Roberts. Or maybe the indie authors out there hope to sell millions of books like E.L. James.

Regardless of what your ambitions are as a writer, many people probably ask themselves at one point or another, which is better? Traditional publishing or self publishing? I think the answer is…it depends.

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The pros of traditional publishing:

When people think of traditional publishing, they probably imagine a novel being published by Penguin Random House, or a memoir being published by Simon and Schuster. They imagine authors getting a three book deal, complete with a side of New York City glamour. But traditional publishing can also mean getting published in a literary, consumer, or trade magazine, getting a chapbook published by a small press, or getting an article published in a reputable blog. Some benefits of traditional publishing include:

Money – This doesn’t just include money you might make from your work, like $150 for a magazine article, or a $5,000 advance you might get from a book deal. This also includes the money the company has to invest in your book, which they can use to hire editors, designers, marketing managers, accountants, lawyers, etc… Alone, you might have little or no money to invest in turning your book into a great product. Publishing companies can help you get additional resources through their budget.

Connections – Publishing companies, especially the larger, more successful ones, will have connections to all kinds of people in the industry. This means they can get your book into stores. They can reach out to well known authors to see if they’d read your book, and share their thoughts so you have a nice quote on your book jacket. I believe Nora Roberts has a book where there’s a quote from exactly one person–Stephen King. On it, it says, “Nora Roberts is cool.” Who wouldn’t want that?

An Established Brand – If a company has an established brand, it means consumers are familiar with them, and they trust the books to be good. If a book is published by Simon and Schuster, I expect to like it. A well known company will also have an established social media presence, so even if you don’t write a bestseller, you at least know your book is reaching some people.

Books as a Business – Publishing companies have one main goal– to make books that sell. Many writers may only want to think about the creative side of their art. They want to do what they love, while not necessarily thinking about business or money. Most writers today can’t avoid the responsibility of doing at least a little marketing, but they’re doing it with the guidance of their publisher. Publishing companies see your book as a product, and they’ll know how to make decisions that will sell it.

As you can see, there are many benefits to traditional publishing, but are there some cons? Maybe. Here are a few:

Time – Whether you’re submitting book proposals, articles, poems, or short stories, it can take months to here back from a publisher. Trying to get published takes an enormous amount of patience. If all you want to do is share you work with others, you may find there are faster ways to do it yourself.

Rejection – Every writer has rejection letters. Even Stephen King. Even JK Rowling. It’s unavoidable in this business that you will face rejection, often months after you have submitted something.

Books as a Business –  I mentioned this earlier as a pro, but it can also be a serious con. There’s a reason celebrities and famous YouTubers can get book deals fairly easily. It’s not necessarily because these people are amazing writers (though several of them are, i.e- Hannah Hart, Allison Raskin & Gaby Dunn).

It also doesn’t mean these book deals are the greatest offers. Some publishers will give the author a ridiculously short time to write the book, and they mention it will be “heavily edited.” All of this is because publishers want to make books that will sell. This can be discouraging to writers who have spent years honing their craft. Writers who eat, sleep, and breathe words. Is it fair? Nope. But it is business.

Those are some pros and cons of traditional publishing.

How about self publishing? Self publishing can mean many things. It can mean publishing your own ebooks on Kindle or iBooks, publishing print books through CreateSpace or Lulu, starting a blog, creating a chapbook or zine, or printing your stories or poems in a booklet and handing them out to people. Are there pros and cons? Let’s examine them below.

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Pros of self publishing:

Freedom – Self publishing allows you to make all creative and business decisions yourself. You get to choose your own cover design, price, book layout, and you get to make all final editing decisions. You don’t necessarily have to think about “what will sell” if you don’t want to. You can do things your own way.

Running a Business – It can be very satisfying to create your own product and to run your own small business. Even if you only make a few bucks or a few hundred dollars, it can be a nice confidence boost and it gives you a side hustle.

Time – You don’t have to wait months to here back from a publisher. You can publish your book whenever you want, and if you have a blog, sharing your work with the world is just a click away.

Those are a few pros. Here are some cons:

Money and Resources – Without the help of a publisher, it may be more difficult to have outside help in editing, designing and promoting your book. It may also be more difficult to get your book into stores.

Running a Business – For some people, running a business is fun and empowering. However, other people might not enjoy this part because all they want to do is write. They don’t want to think about creating a product, they just want to follow their passion. Some people don’t want to do it all themselves, and that’s completely fine.

Finding Readers – All writers, especially these days, have to work to promote their books. But this is especially true for self published authors. You have to be creative and find ways to connect with people and share your work, whether it’s online or in person.

So, which is better?

Like I said earlier, it depends. I think if you’re trying to publish books that traditionally “don’t sell,” like poetry books or short stories, self publishing can be a great option because you get to share your work, run a business, and have fun. If you’re trying to publish a novel or nonfiction book, I think it’s up to you. If you want to self publish, awesome! If you want to submit your query to publishers, it could be worth the effort.

You spent months or years writing the manuscript, so waiting a few months for a rejection (or acceptance!) letter isn’t so bad in the grand scheme of things. If you want to publish articles, poems, or short stories, you can always try submitting to magazines, and if that doesn’t work, you can always share it on your blog and grow your brand.

Self publishing and traditional publishing offer different paths. Both require hard work and dedication. At the end of the day, I think it’s all about sharing your work with the world and connecting with others.

Which publishing method will you choose?

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Thanks for reading! ❤ I hope you enjoyed this article and found a few useful tips 🙂 I recently self published a book of short stories titled Impossible Things. It’s a book of magical realism stories that includes magic, werewolves, and mermaids! There’s also some LGBT and Black girl representation.

It’s available on Amazon for $20, and it’s available on Kindle and the Kindle App for half price. If you like short stories, check it out here:

https://www.amazon.com/Impossible-Things-Ashley-Tiara-Lilly/dp/1547077476/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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My book of short stories is available on Amazon and Kindle

My book of short stories is available now on Amazon. The genre is magical realism, so each story has just a touch of the impossible ❤

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1547077476/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505566435&sr=1-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=Ashley+Tiara+Lilly&dpPl=1&dpID=416bPvONsQL&ref=plSrch

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