Self-editing may be the worst, but I always get nervous when someone else reads my work.
You’d think by now I’d be used to it… but nope. Every time I send out something new, it’s another round of crippling anxiety.
But this is what I signed up for, and I’m not even talking about #WriterInMotion. In fact, this process is actually helping me get over my panic about judgmental readers.
So that being said, in this round were coordinated with two different Critique Partners, or CPs. I was fortunate enough to have Sheri MacIntyre and Jessica Lewis review my story, and they were very gentle in their responses.
They even said they liked it. And no, I didn’t pay them to say it…
So how did I do it? How did I take feedback from two different CPs and work then together into a new draft?
First, I took the feedback from the two CPs and reviewed their comments separately.
From there, I took to the task of merging their comments into one cohesive documents so that I could see what they both commented on, which was an immediate red flag to review, and what their different takes were on other plot points as the story went on.
After that, I read through the story one more time, making my own edits and adding my own comments based on what they suggested and why I did what I did, or why I think they were correct (or what I may have disagreed) so that I would have a better thought process as I went through this particular round of edits.
I told you it go messy.
And to top it all off, I now have a title…
So, allow me to present to you the third draft of DESERT WIND!
If she looked hard enough, Adara could see the illumination of the city of Gadiel in the distance, glimmering on the desert’s horizon.
But she wasn’t trying to find the city.
Just as she knew the city wasn’t looking for her.
No one survives the night in the desert, they snarled.
She’ll be dead by morning, they jeered.
Even so, she ran.
She ran away from the man she once loved, and she was forced to run from the man who loved her in return.
She left behind the riches, the glamour, and the easy lifestyle for the desert’s searing heat and the unforgivable landscape. The possibility that somewhere out in the Latif Desert, she’d survive and be free from their gods’ threatened persecution was more than enough for her to continue to move on.
Alone in the desert, she could worship the stars and kiss the breeze that swept through the sands at night.
Adara had read about it during her lessons in the palace’s stuffy library that was nearly as hot and humid as the desert itself. She read about the Latif’s flora and fauna, and that it had once been a vast ocean of the same name, long since desiccated due to years of drought and famine before the Great King came to power.
Still, she always longed to see what awaited her beyond the palace gates that its city guard so vehemently refused to open.
“We’ll leave one day,” Farren promised as they had laid together on her cache of pillows, the silk cool against their heated flesh. “Together, we’ll jump over those walls and see exactly what the desert has to offer.”
But when she did jump, he wasn’t next to her.
The guards took him away from her, ignoring her pleas of his innocence, shouted over his entreaties to run.
Tears stung Adara’s eyes as she stared up at the night sky, the memories again becoming too strong to will her emotions into submission.
The old metal of the abandoned boat pressed against her back, still warm after a day in the blazing sun, and much appreciated as the evening cooled. Only when the sun set, and the world cooled, did she emerge from the life-saving vessel that allowed her the freedom she so desperately desired.
What would the King think if he discovered the very proof of his dictatorship would be the only source of her survival?
Because it was the King who caused the drought—who purposefully made his deal with the Black Gods to dry the surrounding sea and render his people solely dependent on him for survival.
Adara had spent too many nights with the prince, too long as his preferred consort, to ignore the truth behind the stories. Jamil liked to brag, about his own exploits or those of his family. She was naïve to think she could play him for a greater fool than he appeared. She should have realized her inquiries about his father’s wealth and fortune wouldn’t go unnoticed.? Instead, she should have expected him to be watching her every move.
Adara wrapped her arms around herself, the chill within her no longer from the desert night. She rolled onto her side, turning her back to the glistening city in the distance.
Did Farren still think of her, or was he already dead?
Or worse, surviving out of spite, thinking she had long-since perished and refusing to surrender to the bastard prince?
She held herself tighter, and closed her eyes, willing the hypotheticals away.
Now, he would never discover the truth.
He would never know the gift they shared.
The miracle they created…
Someone was on the boat.
Adara blinked into the darkness of the boat’s underbelly, jostled awake by a foreign sound over her head. Her breath was shallow as she strained her ears, knowing something above-deck had drawn her from her slumber.
After what felt like an eternal moment later, she heard it again.
She reached for a handmade shiv she had crafted from harvested metal, pulling it out from beneath an old, discarded canvas. She had yet to defend herself against anything beyond than the cruel natural conditions, but she was more than ready to do so now for her own survival.
For their survival.
Slowly, she pushed aside the musty blanket she used for a bedspread and crawled towards the dilapidated stairs that led to the main deck. She could hear the boards creaking in time with her own beating heart as she moved closer to her target.
The boat was at least a day and a night away from the city. Unless someone knew it was there, they’d never happen upon it amidst the vast landscape. She’d only been found once, and only by a rogue coyote as scared of her as she was of him. The metal bit into her palm as she attempted to steady her nerves. This intruder was neither coyote nor any other animal. It was very much a man, standing at the stern with his back to her, looking out over the desert add comma as if trying to determine his position in relation to Gadiel.
He wouldn’t live long enough to figure that out.
She screamed as she lunged, but he was ready for the attack, drawing his own sword without hesitation as he spun to face her attack.
But her momentum was too great, and his skills too refined.
She couldn’t stop the metal shiv from piecing his neck, and he couldn’t still his blade from slashing her across stomach.
With eyes wide, she slumped to the deck, arms wrapping around herself once again, but this time there would be no comfort.
He, in turn, crashed to his knees, blood spurting along his neck, his shirt.
“You’re alive,” she whispered, the pain searing from within.
“So are you,” Farren said, blood dripping down his chin.
She would have gone to him, to tell him all would be well. But the desert wind stole their last breaths, and they moved no more.
So where do we go from here? you may be asking.
From here, this draft is emailed to my assigned Editor, Justine Manzano, and she now has the opportunity to rip me apart and help put me back together again.
I can’t wait to see what next week will bring!