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Author Topic: Manslayer Against Mercenary  (Read 2982 times)
Dragica
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« on: June 28, 2008, 08:44:46 PM »

Chapter One: Manslayer Against Mercenary

   The instant Adam Iniloap got the news of an Yltar staying in the pious city of Cerar, he wasted no time packing and immediately set out to kill him. Before nightfall of the third day came, he had already traveled more than halfway on his late father’s horse, Frendo, until the poor beast nearly collapsed from dehydration and exhaustion and Adam was forced to spend the night in a fairly luxurious inn. The place was loaded with all kinds of people, most of them minding their own business, others boasting about past victories. After he ordered a room on the top floor, he accepted the free meal given to him and sat near the fireplace, listening to the end of a man’s interesting story about how he had managed to single-handedly take down a maniacal orc near the Trinis border.
   The inn was enormous, with around twenty tables, each of them nearly filled with people from around the land. Warriors sat around the tables near the east wall, where a tapestry hung with a great swordsman standing in the center, clad in bloodstained armor and a flowing blue cape with a white lion on it. In his left hand he held a giant sword, the hilt and cross guard decorated with royal gems. Adam’s eyes were transfixed upon the warrior, and in his mind he pictured himself on a tapestry with the dead Yltar lying near his feet.
   Near the west wall, mages crowded the tables, some of them reading books that looked like they have been through some damage, others matching the glares the warriors were sending them. When he was younger, Adam didn’t understand why the warriors and the mages rarely got along. A few years before his death, Adam’s father told him that true warriors would rather die than use something as cowardly as magic. He believed almost everything his father said, and soon his gaze diverted from the tapestry over to the mages, glaring at one who merely waved at him.
   When the man finished, Adam began to eat his dinner. The roasted duck was quite delicious when he dipped it into the vegetable soup, yet he didn’t drink any of the wine; waking up with a hangover tomorrow was not on his agenda. As soon as the man finished, there was another story beginning, one being told by an elf soldier deserter who obviously couldn't handle the bloodshed of the war, for he was telling how horrible the Demon Troops were. To Adam, it was quite amusing hearing the elf tell the description about General Nayr, the Demon Troop commander. Elf soldiers were considered one of the best fighters in Calayrn, with the Orcs being first, and they were known to not talk about their fears to strangers. The elf's story only took five minutes, and Adam had finished his meal.
   The man who told the tale about the orc walked up to Adam, saw the young man's blade, and said in a challenging voice, "A warrior like you must have a good story or two to tell, right?"
   Adam stared at him with his brown eyes for a moment, and then a smirk played on his face as he replied in a calm voice, “I do, in fact. It involves an encounter with an Yltar.”
   In no time at all, almost every single pair of eyes were staring at him; some had suspicion, others had wonder. Adam looked around the room and his smirk broadened. He stood up and leaned against the wall, arms crossed in a smug way.
   “I was fourteen when it happened. See, I never feared the Yltaran. No, I admired them. I was jealous that they had that kind of power no one else had. One day, I got cocky. I decided that the only to get the power they hold was to kill an Yltar.”
   Some mouths opened with disbelief.
   “I knew I wasn’t strong enough to kill an Yltar in his prime, so I went for an old one missing an arm. Just by looking at him, I knew he was a veteran of old wars and was waiting for someone worthy to slay him. I had been watching him for some time while I constantly spied on the clan. To be safe, I waited for him to travel far enough away from the clan to challenge him. I read that even though Yltaran are bloodthirsty creatures, they will do whatever necessary to save one of their own, even an elder like the one I fought. I’m pretty sure he knew I was following him, because every now and then he would stop and check out his surroundings. The second the clan was out of sight, I drew my sword and demanded that he fight me. At first, he refused to fight because he just wanted to go visit some stupid pond where the swans go to sing, but then I pointed my blade at him and cried, ‘Face me, coward, or I’ll cut you down where you stand’!”
   “Then what happened?” one of the inn maidens asked. She was busy pouring a man some wine when Adam began telling his tale, and forgot to stop when the wine reached the tip, but the man was also too occupied with listening to the story to even notice.
   “That’s when I saw those blood-red eyes of his shine, I knew that there was no turning back. Adrenaline rushed through every inch of my body as I gripped my hands on the hilt of my sword and charged. I saw him take out a short sword covered with scratches and I figured that I could easily disarm him. That’s when I made a mistake that almost cost me my life. Just as I brought my sword down, he dodged and slashed right across my chest…” Adam fell silent. He closed his eyes and pulled up his shirt and chain mail, revealing a long scar traveling diagonally across his body. A breeze came through an open window to the north wall and brushed against Adam’s scar and he slightly winced. He covered the scar, opened his eyes, and continued, “After he did that, I fainted from the pain. I woke up three days later and my mother told me that the Yltar brought me home and dressed my wound himself. I tried finding that old man to re-challenge him, but he wasn’t anywhere to be found. I was angry at myself for being so stupid, that I trained every day for the next five years from sunrise to sunset… until I heard of the extinction of the Yltaran…”
   Everyone remembered the day they heard about Nevaeh sending her hordes of Demon Troops to all the Yltar clans around Calayrn and slaughtering them all. The other races had tried their best to give aid to them, but the aid, along with the Yltaran, were killed. No one even expected such a fearing race like the Yltaran to be wiped out that quick.
   “Sounds like all your training went to waste,” said one of the listeners.
   Adam looked at him. “Not exactly. I knew that there had to be at least one Yltar living, one that Nevaeh missed. And I had found him.” His eyes traveled over to the inn maiden. “He was about my age, with scars from fighting off all those Demon Troops, even had an eye missing. I knew right then and there that he was ready to fight to the death, and to the death it was going to be. I was nineteen then, and the incident with the elder Yltar made me stronger, smarter. Drawing my sword, I waited for him to charge, and he did.”
   Adam fell silent. A few minutes passed and an impatient elf cried out, “Well, what happened next?!”
   Suddenly, Adam drew his long sword and held it up, then slashed through the air and said, “He was still too weak from the confrontation with the Demon Troops, so he wasn’t able to dodge or parry my attack. All it took was a quick stab to the heart to end his life. After I buried him, I swore to personally kill Nevaeh and any Demon Troop soldier that got in my way.”
   The elf that spoke earlier rose up out of his chair. “Kill Nevaeh? You have a better chance of getting your head ripped off than killing that woman. Why have such an idiotic goal?”
   Adam sheathed his blade slowly. “It’s only a matter of time before that bitch of a ruler takes out your kind, or the humans, or even the orcs. If I was able to kill an Yltar, then ending her life will be no problem!”
   At that moment, a man sitting near the inn’s entrance got out of his seat and walked over to Adam. He looked about twenty years older than Adam, with neatly combed brown hair with faint traces of gray appearing and dark eyes that made Adam tremble inside.
   “Let me ask you something. You say that you were able to take down an Yltar, am I right?” the man asked.
   “Yeah.”
   “And, because you killed a wounded Yltar, one that possibly had this much life left…” He put his index finger and thumb close to one another. “Automatically makes you the perfect candidate to kill the one person that sent hordes upon hordes of her army to the Yltaran across the world and killed them all. Now, how do you plan on doing it? A quick stab to the heart? I’m sure she’ll be more than happy to let you do exactly that.” Sarcasm dripped through his voice.
   Adam frowned at the man. “Look, Nevaeh is just a human who knows magic, and that’s it. She can send a thousand Demon Troops at me, and I’ll still be standing! Just you wait and see!”
   The man stifled a laugh. “Oh, I’ll see wait and see… See you rotting in the battlefield. Listen well, kid. Turn around and go back to wherever you came from and stay there. I’ve met a lot of people who had the same goal you do, and you want to know what happened? Most of them now have their heads on pikes surrounding Nevaeh’s fortress, and I can’t wait to see yours added to her collection.”
Adam desperately wanted this man to shut up. His eyes narrowed at the man and he said, “Those were the stupid ones. I am Adam Iniloap, the one who killed the last Yltar, and I will soon be known as the one who ended Nevaeh’s reign of terror!”
With that being said, he removed himself from the wall, bid almost everyone goodnight (except the man), walked up to his room and sat down on the soft bed, staring at the waning moon outside. That man saw through his lie about killing the Yltar boy, but he didn’t care. Soon, he would be known as the one to have slain the last Yltar. He changed into the nightclothes laid out for him and pulled the covers over his body.
   
It was early in the morning when Adam woke up. He didn’t care to wait until everyone else was awake to wish them farewell; he wanted to reach Cerar as soon as possible and kill that Yltar. When he got downstairs, he saw the man he talked to last night sitting next to the empty fireplace, biting off a fingernail. Adam tried to avoid his gaze, but he failed and he looked over at the man.
“A bit early to be leaving, don’t you think?” the man said, spitting the nail to the ground.
“I need to reach Cerar before nightfall. My… sister is ill, and I want to be by her side should anything bad happen,” replied Adam, putting his hand on the doorknob.
The man let out a quiet scoff. “You’re such a damn liar, you know that? First the story about killing the Yltar, and now going to Cerar because your ‘sister’ is sick. Why don’t you tell me the truth? I promise I won’t tell anyone.”
Adam let out a heavy sigh and turned to the man. “I got news that the last Yltar is staying hidden at Cerar. I want to get there as soon as possible and kill him before anyone else does.”
“Him? And how do you know that it’s a male, and not a female?”
“Please. A girl? That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard. Everyone knows that a woman, no matter how strong she is, would never survive a massacre like a man can.” The smug grin from last night appeared on Adam’s lips.
Sexist bastard, the man thought. He was quiet for a couple minutes, then put on a friendly grin, clapped his hands together, and said, “Well then, allow me to apologize for my rudeness last night, mister Iniloap. Tell you what. I have a friend who lives in Cerar, goes by the name of Eve Tarvend. You find her, she’ll help you find the Yltar. And don’t you worry, good sir. Despite her being a girl, she’ll be of perfect use to you. By the time you know it, news of what you did will spread like wildfire. Oh, and tell her that Sygtoln sent you. She’ll know who I am.” He rubbed his chin, then snapped his fingers. “I got a better idea! How about I come with? Eve can be a little shy when it comes to new people.”
“… I don’t know…”
   “Oh, come on! It’ll be fun, I promise.” He gave Adam a friendly wink.
Adam stared at him, not knowing if this man was lying to him, or if he was helping Adam get closer to his goal. He was quiet for a moment, and then his grin broadened. He gave Sygtoln a friendly nod, opened the door, and walked outside. He gently shut the door behind him and quickly got Frendo out of the stables, then watched as Sygtoln himself walked out and grabbed his own horse, a large, brown one with a black mane and tail. Compared to that, Frendo looked like a donkey. He hopped on a couple seconds after Adam did and smirked.
“He’s a beaut, eh?” Sygtoln asked, rubbing the horse’s neck.
Adam nodded. “Where’d you get him from? The north?”
“Nah. Eve gave ‘im to me a couple years back. Decided to call him Laertes.”
“Good name… Now come on, my prize is waiting for me…” He roughly kicked Frendo in the sides and he galloped down the forest path, with Sygtoln following close behind.


Noon of the fifth day of his journey struck and Adam had finally reached Cerar. For a religious city, he was amazed at how many guards there were on the giant wall surrounding the place. Sygtoln said that he had some business to attend to and vanished without a trace, but not before giving Adam a red sash that he told to give to Eve when he saw her. He brought Frendo to the crowded stables and started his search, having one hand close to the hilt of his blade as his eyes scoured the area around him. There were so many people walking about, most of them dressed noble-like, others in either poor outfits or right in the middle. He knew that his target wouldn’t be walking around in the open without wearing some sort of disguise. All he needed to do was find that one pair of red eyes.
How hard is it to find a bloodlust monster? Adam impatiently thought as he walked into an alley to escape the crowd. He watched as the crowd passed by him, some heads bowed down, others looking away. There was no way he’d be able to search for his prey in this infestation of Otium worshippers. Cursing under his breath, Adam made his way back into the crowd and his eyes caught the towering church.
“Of course!” Adam said to himself, although his voice was loud enough to reach across the street. In a slightly lower tone, he continued, “In disguise, the priests wouldn’t have the slightest clue that there’s an Yltar in their presence, and that demon could claim sanctuary and not be harmed! He’s craftier than I thought…”
The smug grin returned as he made his way through the crowd and placed one foot on the steps leading to the church. He stood there, listening to the great bells above ring. Soon those bells would be ringing for him, as he would walk out of the church with the Yltar’s body slumped over his shoulder. Adrenaline rushed through his body as he walked up the stone stairs and placed a hand on one of the great wooden doors, his heartbeat increasing from the mixed emotions he was feeling. Inside this building laid his destiny, the battle of his life.
After a couple minutes of silent praying to Orienas, the Goddess of the Morning, he let out a long sigh and pushed the door open. A happy couple that was walking out, hand in hand, welcomed him with a warm smile. Adam nodded to them and watched them walk away, his eyes staying on the back of the woman. He then blinked and looked into the church. It was almost empty, with the exception of a thin, cloaked figure sitting in one of the benches near the front. Adam’s eyes glinted in the candlelight. The Yltar! He quietly walked towards the still shape, his dominant hand now gripped onto his sword. His eyes hardened as he thought about what might happen as soon as he got there. Would the Yltar just surrender without a fight? Would he attack Adam with a secret weapon, maybe a dagger laced with poison, or a great sword?
He was too deep in thought that he hadn’t noticed he was but a few feet away from the Yltar. He shook his head back into the present and was a bit surprised to see the target still sitting there, head slightly bent down, as if praying. Adam grinned as he made his way behind the Yltar and slowly drew his sword. He raised the blade over his head and his eyes widened with excitement.

“What are you doing?”
Adam gasped and dropped the blade, the sound of metal clashing against stone echoing throughout the entire building. The voice… it was feminine! This couldn’t be the Yltar… could it? He grabbed the cloak and tore it off, revealing a thin girl. She looked younger than him, maybe a year or so behind him. Her appearance, however, confounded him. She had the silver-white hair of an Yltar, and had the blood red eye of one, but the other eye… it was blue. This wasn’t right.
“Well?” The girl asked, turning to him. “Were you planning on splitting my head open, or shoving that sword of yours through my neck?”
“You’re not an Yltar… you can’t be! My opponent is supposed to be a…”
The girl stood and took the cloak from Adam, disdain blazing in her eyes. She started walking towards the doors when Adam put a hand on her shoulder and turned her around.
“Where’s the Yltar?!” Adam demanded, his eyes darkened and blazing with impatience.
“Let go of me,” said the girl in a calm voice.
“Listen to me, you pitiful excuse for a bitch! I didn’t come all the way here to be denied my fame, so why don’t you be a good little girl and tell me where the damn Yltar is!” Adam started to tremble with anger.
“I’m giving you a warning. Let go.” The girl began to reach for a small white box on her belt.
Adam grabbed the girl by her left arm and gripped onto it tightly. “Fine! Then just tell me where I can find this Eve person! Some guy named Sygtoln said…”
At that moment, the girl’s eyes flashed and Adam was on the floor, gripping a broken hand and rolling in pain.
“He sent you?”
Adam struggled to his feet and looked around for his sword. For once in his life, he was trembling in fear before a woman. He grabbed his blade and pointed it at the girl, trying to keep his outside façade from breaking. He hacked and slashed at her, but it was to no avail. Each strike ended with the blade hitting the stone floor. Before he could lift his sword after the fourth strike, the girl swiftly kicked him in the face and sent him crashing to the ground with a broken nose.
“Who… what the hell are you!” Adam cried. He picked up his blade once more and leaned against it for support.
The girl grabbed the sword and yanked it from his grasp, getting just a tiny cut on her palm. Dropping the blade, she walked up to him and said in a clear but frightening voice, “I am Eve, and I am the last Yltar.”

Silence conquered Adam as he stared up at Eve. She was the person he had trained all those years to fight? This was the battle of his life, his destiny? There had to be a mistake; this was no Yltar; this was a half-breed!
Adam grabbed a long dagger on his belt and rose to his feet and wiped the blood off his face. “I never killed a woman before, I decided to spend my time killing worthy opponents.”
Eve crossed her arms. “Were one of those opponents an illiterate farm boy? I’m giving you a rare chance to run, so you better take it and get out of here.”
“Like hell I am!” Adam charged and swung the dagger with all his might at Eve, who dodged, just getting a small gash along the upper part of her arm. He slashed at her again, but she moved behind him and slammed her elbow right on his spine, stunning him instantly. Before he could recover, Eve clenched a fist and a short blade appeared from beneath her armguard and she stabbed it into his shoulder, swiftly moving as Adam swung his sword at her.
Adam stumbled to the ground and took deep breaths, angry with himself for allowing a woman to do this to him. He reached for the dagger he dropped, but Eve placed a foot on his arm and started pressing down.
Eve pushed the blade back in as she stared down at Adam. “You had your chance, and you gave it up. There is no way Sygtoln would hire someone as idiotic and smug as yourself to kill me.” She removed her foot and picked up the dagger and skillfully twirled it. “Out of all the people I have killed in my life, you have got to be one of the worst. Get up so I won’t feel so bad about ending your life.”
“Ending my life? I’m going to cut your head off for saying that!” Adam scrambled up and punched her in the face, cutting her cheek. Eve responded by slashing the dagger across Adam's chest, right across his scar, spewing blood onto the floor. Adam held in a scream and went for the sword. Eve kicked him in the stomach, and then grabbed him by the hair, putting her face close to his.
“Tell me, how does it feel to be at the mercy of a ‘pitiful excuse for a bitch’? Does it make you feel feeble? Angry? Depressed?” She paused. “Well, I really don’t care how you feel.” She dropped him to the floor, threw the cloak around her, and walked to the door.
“No…”
Eve stopped and turned around.
“My dream… I refuse to be defeated…” Adam struggled to his knees and grabbed his sword. “Not here…”
Eve pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed.
“I came here to kill an Yltar, and dammit, I’m going to kill you!” Adam raised, sword in hand, and charged full speed at Eve. The fight between him and the old Yltar flashed before his eyes. He pointed the blade at her chest and thrust it with what strength he had left in his arm.
   Eve had enough. She dodged the sword and, clenching her fist once again, drove the blade into Adam’s chest, killing him. She yanked the blade out and watched as her opponent’s body fell to the ground with a soft thud before taking out a filthy rag and wiping the blood clean off her blade and the tiny splatters on her face. As she pushed the weapon back into the armguard, she stopped and turned her head as she heard someone slowly clapping their hands at the entrance of the church.
   Sygtoln walked over to her and stared at Adam’s body. “Nice job, but you could have killed him someplace less worthy, you know.”
   Eve looked away. “Doesn’t matter now. Did you send him?”
   “Me?” Sygtoln looked shocked. “How could you ask such a horrible question? I thought you knew me better than that.”
   Eve wiped the blood from her cheek wound. “What did you tell him, then?”
   “Just that you would help him find what he’s looking for,” replied Sygtoln. “I think it helped him more than it helped you, but that’s me.” He looked at her and smiled. “Isn’t this around the time where you try and kill me?”
   Eve’s glance went to him and she shook her head. “No, because I know the minute I do, you’ll just make an excuse and say that I’m not ready to kill you.” She walked past him and stopped at the doors. “You better get out of here before the guards come and accuse you of murder.” She pulled the hood over her head and walked outside, almost blending in with the crowd.
   Sygtoln’s gaze went back to Adam and he crouched down next to the corpse. “Now, if you were a bit more deserving, she might have prolonged your suffering and just got it over with. But, it’s too late, eh? Well, it’s not surprising how she killed you, at least not to me. I trained her myself, so you can say she’s my perfect creation.” His ears picked up footsteps coming. “Well, I best be going. Take care, now, and try not to get yourself killed in the afterlife.” He patted Adam on the cheek and vanished just as a young nun walked out from a back room and let out an ear-piercing scream as she saw the dead body of Adam Iniloap.

   

Any feedback of any kind is greatly appreciated, and I'm sorry it's so long... D:
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delboy
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2008, 08:05:38 AM »

Hi Dragica,

Welcome to the Cafe (I know there's another thread for all that stuff but I'll save a virtual tree by doing it here).

I've had a read of this piece. You've got a nice style, a great imagination, and a very vivid way of writing. At first glance the mass of writing - lots of description and very little dialogue - looks daunting. But I know this is common across the genre, so it's not a problem. It is usually, however, the first hurdle I have to jump before I can bring myself to read a fantasy novel. That's my issue, though. Not yours.

On an overall level I think the main problem with this piece is that the main character dies at the end of the chapter. I'm assuming that this is chapter one of a novel / novella. You've built up Adam pretty nicely, given him a task that he has to complete (for a couple of reason - one, because it's what he's been after all his life, and two because he's already boasted to an innful of warrirors that it's something he's actually done), and then sent him off to do it. All great stuff - I especially like that boasting and making out that something he has yet to do was a story from his past - but then I felt cheated. Adam dies. Everything I've read so far feels redundant. I know you're trying to get a lot of background into this story (see below) but doing it this way feel like a cop-out. Actually, it reminds me of all those horror novels where the first chapter (or usally a prologue) features some pretty young girl jogging around a park, and we learn all about her, where she works, her boyfriend troubles, what's going on at work, the party she's got that weekend and what she's going to wear... and suddenly a huge great monster pops out of the undergrowth and eats her. For a while it seemed every horror novel I read started along those lines. And usually I wanted to give up there and then - if I'm being cheated in the first few pages, what does the rest of the book hold for me?

You've obviously got the whole story - or much of it - in your mind, so why not pick a character who were going to ride with for the whole novel - our hero, even? - and start the story with him?

"Background," you might say. "I need to get all this background material in front of the reader so he understands what's going on." And that's the other main problem, the story almost takes off on a number of occasions (remember, at this point the reader isn't aware that he's reading a bid of a red herring tale  - in terms of the overall novel - about a character who will shortly be dead) but each time you seem to back off and give us lots of data about Yltars and Demon Troops and Orcs and old campaigns and story-tellers telling stories that sit behind this one, which in itself sits behind whatever main story it is that you're going to tell...

My advice, would be find the hero and a key event that will get him/her involved in the plot and write it as vividly and with as much excitement as you can don't worry about any background detail - just throw us into the action - and bit by bit allow us lto learn all about the other stuff.

Before this all starts to sound negative, let me say that when I started reading I didn't imagine I'd get through more than one or two paragraphs (let along the whole thing), and then spend all this time commenting on it. That's testament to the fact I enjoyed it and think there's something in both the story and your writing. So well done!!

There are numerous small errors - things like the tense changing at:

Quote
Near the west wall, mages crowded the tables, some of them reading books that looked like they have been through some damage

and confusion around:

Quote
When the man finished, Adam began to eat his dinner.

where we have to backtrack several paragraphs to find who the man was and he had just stopped doing.

But such detailed analysis is for later. At this stage it's about getting the main shape of the story in shape.

Hope some of that helps - remember it's one person's view, and a rare reader of fantasy at that.

Cheers,
Derek


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"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2008, 09:26:32 AM »

What Derek said. Although, Derek, this is fantasy, and so maybe Adam is given a potion and he lives after all. But probably not. Eve is clearly the stronger and more interesting character and so I'm guessing she is the real Main Character of this novel? Needs a better name than Eve.  (Adam and Eve - too laughable)

As Derek alludes to there is a lot of information giving, mostly as Tell. The reader needs to be involved more - engage their sense - you have not used sense of smell at all, nor tactile sense - colour only a little. Be specific about the aromas too. Let Adam have his senses reeled by the heady jasmine fragance cloud she emits. Then the metallic odour of blood spilt in the fight,and yet the beer slops in the inn needs to wrinkle the readers' noses.

You have three points of view in this short extract. Watch that - readers experience everything through the POV of the character holding it - they need to care what happens to that person.

Good action, betrayal, anger, and other emotions are strong here.

Geoff
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delboy
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« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2008, 02:48:15 AM »

So Dragica, any comments on Geoff's and my postings about your work?

Del
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"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
Robert B. Parker
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