A couple of months ago, I announced that I would edit an existing book, stuffing plot holes, adding paragraphs and chapters, editing grammar and spelling… All was good. I felt motivated and at home with my characters. Emerson and Riley are great characters to write, with flaws (many of them), but also with many some things that make them loveable.
Anyway… I was writing and doing and all that stuff, until I realised that I was working on two different copies of the same document. One was already formated into print book size, the other wasn’t and since I was in my tunnel of just wanting to write, I didn’t notice it until it was too late.
I was devastated. Frustrated. How was I supposed to find the added sentences, the replaced words?
I didn’t know. And to be honest, with my mental health deteriorating more and more, I did not have the will or the strength to fight for that story. I just dropped it and hoped no one would mention it. Which no one did, because, I didn’t mention it – it made me feel like a failure, and I was not ready for well-meaning advice of any kind.
But, I can be a persistent person. If I am passionate about something, I will do everything (in due time) to make it happen.
And this book “Heart of Stone” will happen. Sometime this year, I hope.
The cover and the ISBN are waiting for their content.
I found out – due to some research, that Word has a feature to combine and compare documents or highlight changes. I didn’t know that before. I write and I format, I can help with margins and headers and footers, but combining and other such things? Nope, not my area. Anyway, imagine my elation when I found that tiny little drop down menu. I compared the two documents and there was a lot different. Then I combined the two, and now, I am reviewing the new document to make sure it all makes sense. The word count is still growing and it will be the longest story I ever wrote. I can’t wait to have a paperback copy in my hands.
All this gave me an idea. Is anyone interested in proofreading the first half of the story? I am afraid I am a bit blind to plot holes and the story as such. I am too involved in the characters.
+The genre is romance BUT, I write real characters with layers and opinions. There are only a few clichés, I hope. The story includes a couple of steamy scenes, but most of them will be cut – the story doesn’t demand them. Big themes in the story are anxiety and/or panic attacks for one character, and coming out of the closet (admitting they are gay) for the other. So – yes, you guessed it, it is a same-sex story. For a very brief moment, I considered making one of the characters female, but they are both so very male in the way that I see them, that I couldn’t do it.
+I am open to constructive criticism BUT, on a bad day, I might overreact. I will feel attacked and like a bad writer, and I will not see that you are helping. (However, I will not fight with you about it. I will fall silent.)
+There will be lots of work. I love writing in English, but some phrases and sentences will make you smile or shake your head in disbelief because they don’t make sense. (This is not all true. My English is incredible for someone who learned it in school twenty years ago, and I seldom need it in my real world. The vocabulary I need daily is to do with babies and toddlers and their eating, sleeping, and digesting routines.)
+I am bad with punctuation – commas being my biggest issue. I also love using passive voice. Grammarly doesn’t like that, but I do.
There you go. I need a little bit of help and maybe a small amount of pressure to write more again. (It will be challenging with my injured shoulder for a while though)
What follows is an unedited bit of chapter 6. So that you know what and who I was rambling about previously. No copying, please. Thank you. Feedback?
Breakfast was quick, and Riley was back at being the stoic man I knew from the day before. It was different from the moments we had just shared at the swimming pool. The playful side of Stone was gone. Instead, he hid behind newspapers and sipped his orange juice, not acknowledging my presence. I felt tense and anticipated the time we would soon spend together. I had yet to decide if I liked Riley or not. Until now, he had been very confusing, but he had also helped me through two panic attacks. I wanted to trust him, and I didn’t want to let him in. It was a dilemma. We didn’t talk much, but I noticed a couple of things. Riley was left-handed, that was the first thing I saw. It was an odd thing to notice, but I did.
Another thing that struck me was that he drank his coffee black without sugar and the coffee they had served was really strong. Hadn’t I read somewhere that people who drank Gin and liked their coffee black were more likely to be psychopaths? I smiled and stored the information away. Riley didn’t wear a suit this morning; he was wearing khaki shorts and a white button down shirt. It made him look much younger. He didn’t wear footwear either. It made him look relaxed, which was nice. We didn’t talk other than “Pass me the orange juice, please” and “Thank you.” The moment Sibel cleared the table I made a beeline for my room. I looked through the closet to find shorts and a t-shirt too, but I couldn’t decide what to wear. I wasn’t sure how long Riley would take to get ready, but once again I didn’t want to keep him waiting. By the time we were prepared to leave, I was wearing the same shorts I had worn the day before and another shirt that was too tight for my liking, but it was fresh and clean, and I didn’t complain about that. Still, I wondered whose it was.
Riley was tying the laces of his hiking boots, sitting on the stoop of the stairs when I came downstairs. A rucksack stood next to him. Sibel appeared out of nowhere and put something in the bag, and with a shy smile, she walked away again. She was like a ghost, and maybe that was why she was such a good maid. She was there at all times, but she was always discreet and in the background.
“It’s our lunch and some water,” Riley explained and got up. The person that morning was so far removed from the person I had met the day before that I was beginning to grow excited to go for that hike. If Riley was a man with many layers, I wanted to remove some and get to know the person underneath. Maybe. I don’t l know why, but I fully expected us to take a car to start our hike. I hadn’t expected Riley to shoulder the backpack and lead the way around the back of the house, and we took it from there.
He walked ahead of me, and I had a hard time keeping up. I was wearing the wrong shoes, and I wasn’t in the best shape. The path was gravelly and led us past trees and bushes. The colors were incredible. Different shades of green and colorful flowers lined the way, and the sun was heating my skin and still, the farther we walked, the more irritated I became. Riley made it look so easy. He never slipped on the gravel, and he never stumbled over roots. But I did. And worst: the path went up and down, and I was out of breath. The third time I lost my footing and barely managed to stay upright, I let out a frustrated growl. Riley turned to me, acknowledging my presence for the first time since we had left the estate. He had a condescending look on his face. As if he was pitying me. It was my own fault. I had agreed to this, thinking it would be fun and a way to get to know him, but it wasn’t. Not in the least. He didn’t talk to me, and my damned sneakers were not made for hiking. From the high position where he stood, he held out his hand to me to help me up a steeper spot, and I took it, disgusted with myself. I was sweating like a pig, and he looked flawless. Every move he made looked graceful while I looked like an amateur.
“Come on. We’re almost there. Just a couple of minutes.” I bit my tongue. I wanted to turn around and walk back, but I would never find my way without him. I was lost in the wilderness. My side hurt, and my shirt was stuck to my sweating skin and Riley? He smiled. With the rucksack on his back, he trotted in front of me. If he had started to whistle, I would have had a hard time to keep from punching his face, that was how annoyed I was at his flawlessness. The bushes and trees became denser until there was only a small path to walk. I hoped he knew where we were because no one would ever find us here if we got lost. But then he stopped and let the rucksack slip from his shoulders. I stepped next to him, surprised that we had reached a clearing. He took a deep breath while I bent over and tried to catch my own. He crouched down to untie his boots with a sigh. Was this it? I had walked my ass off for this? I looked up to give him a piece of my mind, and then I saw it. It was beautiful. I had seen scenes like this in the movies or on postcards but never myself. And I was left speechless and grateful for having dragged my lazy ass up here.
There was a lake that was surrounded by a pebbled shore. A large waterfall was to our left, and now that the pounding in my ears had stopped, I could also hear the loud sound of the water crashing into the lake. It was an amazing place. The tension I had felt on our walk was easing out. Riley took an insulated blanket out of the rucksack, spread it out and sat down on it. He took off his boots and put his socks in them. I was mesmerized by the view. It took me another while to finally sit down next to him. Riley lay on the blanket propped up on his elbows. His eyes were closed, and his head was tilted back as if he was soaking up the sun. His feet were crossed at the ankles, and he wriggled his toes.
“You’re staring,” he opened one eye, and I felt busted. I turned away from him and took off my shoes too. I hoped they wouldn’t stink too much. I put them farther away, just to make sure that the scent of my smelly feet didn’t pester our air. After I had been caught staring, I felt uneasy. I sat straight and played with the seam on the leg of my shorts. It was coming undone.
“Relax, Emerson. We are here to relax.”
“But I am bored,” I whined. I was not really bored, but I didn’t know how to relax. I hadn’t had the time to do that in a long while.
“How can you be bored, we only just arrived?”
“I don’t have anything to do.”
“Then maybe it’s time to reflect on yourself.” Was he for real?
“You are such an asshole. What makes you think you are so much better than me? Hiking up and down with your fancy shoes and…”
“Stop it, Emerson!” I was far from being done with my rant, but I stopped. Something in his tone told me to shut my mouth.
“You have no idea who I am. Stop judging me on the facts you don’t know.” He was glaring again, and this time he looked hurt.
“You are Riley Stone.” It slipped out of my mouth, but it had been the only answer I had gotten any time I had asked who he was.
“That’s right, and I won’t let you keep insulting me.” His face was so close that I could feel his words on my skin. I didn’t know what to say or where to look. The tension between us was electric. I half expected him to kiss me. But, Riley snorted and got up. To my surprise, he pulled his shirt over his head and let it fall to the ground. His shorts followed suit. In his underwear, he stalked to the lake and just before he waded into the water he stripped out of them too. His ass was white compared to his legs and torso, and I could stop staring. One moment we were fighting and the next he was naked. My thoughts were reeling. He dove into the water and again, just like that time in the pool, the way the light and the water played on his skin made his body glisten. He dove underwater, and when he emerged again, there was a smile on his face. The annoyance and hurt were washed off.