I’ll be the first to tell you that editors used to scare me.
When I first started writing, I always felt like an editor was only there to tell you how bad your writing was, and to show you all the mistakes you made and to make you feel like you should never write again.
No, this isn’t me saying that an editor needs to be your best friend and stroke your ego with every paragraph.
But the best editors know how to be encouraging while helping you fit the pieces into place.
In this stage of #WriterInMotion, Justine Manzano was the lucky recipient of my CP-reviewed third draft, and she did all the things I hoped for and more!
She helped me.
She encouraged me.
She kept me in check…
And then I think I broke her.
But at the end of the day, it just reaffirmed how imperative editors are to the writing process, and regardless of where you are in your publishing careers, whether it’s self-editing, hybrid, or traditional… please, please please make sure you have a decent publisher who’s got your back.
So that all being said, I took to heart Justine’s advice and immediately dove in.
And now, I present to you the final version of my YA/NA Fantasy short titled DESERT WIND.
She wasn’t trying to find the city.
Just as she knew the city wasn’t looking for her.
If she looked hard enough, Adara could see the illumination of the city of Gadiel in the distance, glimmering on the desert’s horizon.
No one survives the night in the desert, they snarled.
She’ll be dead by morning, they jeered.
Even so, she ran.
She ran 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 Latif Desert’s searing heat and the unforgiving landscape. The possibility that somewhere out in the 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 the Latif’s creation during her lessons with Farren, hidden away in the palace’s stuffy library. Even though it was nearly as hot and humid as the desert itself, they were able to find the darkest alcoves, away from the prying eyes of the Prince’s servants. With him, she learned about its 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 its city guard so vehemently refused to open.
“We’ll leave one day,” Farren promised as they had laid together on her private cache of pillows, the silk cool against their heated flesh when the day’s lessons were done. “Together, we’ll jump over those walls and see exactly what the desert has to offer.”
They had been inseparable since the moment he was introduced as her tutor. But when she did make that 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 slept, 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 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 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 her 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 that’s it.
We are done.
The process is complete.
And it’s been amazing.
Stay tuned for one more week when I share my personal thoughts and reflections on the process. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback because I have big plans for this little story, and every comment counts!