The holidays are coming around; why not give the gift of The Lerewood?
All month long (for the month of December), The Lerewood is 50% off (the digital format), or $5 off (the print format). It's a part of Kellan Publishing's December Book Picks.
To purchase The Lerewood on sale, click here.
To see Kellan Publishing's other picks for the month of December, click here.
Happy Holidays everyone!
All writers have difficulties while writing their books. Some writers end up facing the same problems over and over again (which is the easiest to fix, because once you learn how to get past it, everything you write in the future is a breeze), and some writers can have a different problem with each piece they work on.
For me, I think one of my biggest difficulties was a lack of passion. Sometimes, writers get an idea for a book—a good, interesting idea—but then don’t know how to go from there. Other times, writers will be so passionate about what they are writing about that not only do they want to write every moment of every day, but ideas are a constant flow, and a highly detailed outline can be created within a single day. This wasn’t the case for me while writing The Lerewood.
There were times when I felt like I had to force myself to write, just to finish it. If I didn’t have such a dissatisfaction with leaving things unfinished, The Lerewood would have probably never been published.
It took me eight years to write The Lerewood…eight years. And it’s not a very long book. The reason it took so long was partly due to not getting into the habit of writing every day, and my refusal to have a work anything less than what I felt was perfect (eventually I reached a point where I simply could not change or edit anything else—whether I was so drained and needed to move on, or I genuinely thought it was completely error free, I don’t know). But I also didn’t really want to write The Lerewood. Sure, there were times when I read over some scenes and passages and I said to myself “Damn, Andrea. You’re a good writer. This is good.” But I didn’t have the passion. I didn’t really care. It was an idea I thought of when I was in the eighth grade, and I’d left it alone for so many years that when I finally decided to go back to it and really finish it and try to get it published, that initial enthusiasm I had while writing the story was no longer there. Even now, I find marketing difficult because of this same problem.
Like my previous writing difficulties blog post, I recommend writing as much as you can while you’re still inspired. When we writers are passionate about an idea, it’s an opportunity to create greatness. Our minds go into this special state in which art is so easily created, and our talents shine. Don’t let those moments pass without taking advantage of it. If I had written more when I was younger, it’s possible the finished work could have been even better than what I published. Although, I do believe that everything happens for a reason, so maybe I needed those extra years to hone my craft and improve my ability to write in order to finish The Lerewood. I will admit, I’m proud of the finished work.
I have one other piece of advice that I’ll give to any writers dealing with the same issue, and it may be hard to hear, but ask yourself this: is this idea enough for a novel?
Some writers start off with something simple, and then they build upon it until they have enough material for a full length novel. My book, The Lerewood, is a novella. I certainly couldn’t come up with enough material for a much longer work. To me, The Lerewood is simple, meant to be told in the style of a haunted legend or creepy bedtime story. I’m happy with that. It was simply not made to be anything more. And that too is the same for other writers out there; they may only have enough material to write a short novel or even a short story. Other writers have the desire to write a full length novel, but the idea they’ve come up with and tried to build upon just isn’t working. I honestly think that if you’re struggling so hard to come up with an idea, it isn’t meant to be. I never forced myself to come up with an idea for a novel. I was inspired several years ago, and I just started writing. Some people have this dream to be successful authors, but they can’t come up with anything very interesting. To be a good writer you also need to be able to create a concept that will hook readers and draw them in. You need to be able to pick a good story, and tell it right.
I’m happy to say that despite the slightly depressing experience writing my first novel, I’m currently working on my next project, and I am writing with passion. Ideas come very easily they’re even coming to me in my dreams, and I have a lot of fun writing. As long as I try and stay productive every day and remind myself that my writing is my priority, I can’t see myself getting bored with it any time soon, but after eight years, you never know.
What can I say of my wife? She is wretched, and I do not love her…if love even exists in our town. We all must reproduce for our kind to survive, though I do not understand why. Why must we bring new life into this horrid world, and allow our children to suffer and starve and live in such filth as we have? The Lerewood is a cursed land—all the townspeople say so. So what is the point of having a mate? Why don’t we allow our kind to die?
Perhaps my poor opinions of our town are biased, due to my cold-hearted mate. For as long as I can remember, my wife had always been demanding, and any love or caring was nonexistent. I hadn't chosen my wife out of love, but by random selection. She hadn't known how weak and unskilled I was, and I hadn't known of her rage. My parents—my father, who had vanished after having entered the wood to hunt for food, and my mother, a fallen victim of disease, had encouraged me to mate at the youngest possible age, and to reproduce as often as possible. They had found a young woman who lived close by to our own shack, who was looking to mate as well, and so without introduction, without any chance of knowing if we would get along, man and woman were wed. The act of marriage in Lerewood was a simple one; an idea of bonding with another individual for purposes of continuity. There was no ceremony to celebrate the union, simply nothing but a made decision. As the first months of our union went by, my wife's true lack of humanity soon became inescapable. By the time our second child was born, she had refused to reproduce any more with me, enraged with the reality of her existence. As a young woman, she had hope and believed in discovering a new promise land outside of Lerewood. Angry from the realization that hope was just a myth, and no hunter ever in history returned from the forest, she became crude, temperamental, neurotic, and abused her family. She told our children that I was a disgrace. She expected me to be the one who would find a better life for them. Our children threatened me with ruthless words and attacked me, for I was too much of a coward to ever enter the woods. I thought back to the last day I saw her, and the way she screamed at me, dared me to kill myself.
"Wretched filth!" screeched this middle-aged woman. Her voice was like the sickening cry of a barn owl. She was thirty-two, just entering her mid-life, yet she looked to be nearly sixty, with her ragged, torn clothing and defining lines of age. Her teeth were decayed, her nails were caked with dirt, her skin sagged, and her hair was brittle.
The wife continued to yell after the man, "Wretched filth! Why don't you keep walking, right into the woods! Have the creature get you!" She laughed hard on that one.
"You are indeed a dog, and everyone knows it. As far as anyone will ever know, you never had a name. Otherwise, no one knows what it is. You are nothing. No one knows who you are except you have the appearance of a scrawny man. You are not worth a name. It is written all over your face. You don't even have the confidence to justify it." She spat at his feet in disgust. "Run off and face your death, you coward."
~Chapter 1 of The Lerewood
So, perhaps I do not think well of our society because of my wife. If I were to have been paired with a kinder, more gentle woman—if such a woman exists in Lerewood—then maybe I wouldn’t be so inclined to consider our extinction as a blessing.
But then, there is Ilere. She may not be quite a woman entirely, as I do think she is more of a repulsive creature than woman, but I dare to consider her one nonetheless. She is exceedingly tall, nearly seven foot in height. Her body is skeleton-thin, and the dark green, almost black cloak she wore drapes over her bones. The only visible parts of her body are her hands, face, and hair. Her skin is a pale, sickly green. Her fingers are long, thin, and bony, like those of a reaper. Dirt cakes beneath her long, yet uneven, ripped fingernails. Her hands seemed to have never been washed, as well as her hair. It seemed to never have been cut, for it extends past her knees and leaves, twigs, and dirt intermingles with her black curls, giving it an olive-green appearance. Her face is scrawny and long; her eyes, nose, lips, and jaw are tight and stern. The color of her eyes is a bright lime, and they burn you like acid. And yet, despite her appearance, she is the kindest soul I have ever encountered. I traveled far in the Lerewood forest to find her, and when I finally did, she spared my life because she saw that I was not as savage as the other townspeople of Lerewood.
"Because there is no reason for you to die." Uallas stopped immediately when he heard that sound; it was like two married sounds, one a branch cracking and the second a ghoul moaning. So frightened, his entire body caught her statuesque disease from those few small words, unable to move any part of his body, even a shift in his eyes. Her voice had a certain tone beneath it, like it was that of another animal. It radiated with darkness; it didn't sound completely demonic, but was certainly inhuman. The man looked up at her gaunt green face and gave the beast a mystified expression. "What did you say?" "I said, because there is no reason for you to die." She paused, and Uallas blinked. "I will not just kill you, when you have done nothing to hurt me. Considering the many I’ve slain in self-defense, I think it's reasonable enough to spare at least one individual of Lerewood who actually has some peace of mind. There aren't many like you, I assume." He didn't know what to say. Was this truly the creature from the stories he grew up hearing, the woman, with her dark magic, able to sever limbs from bodies and melt skin from bones? Was this the savage who ripped her claws into your chest and pulled out your organs one by one? And if this was in fact the very Ilere whom everyone thought they knew, was she truly telling him she will not kill him because he does not wish to inflict pain upon her?
~Chapter 5 of The Lerewood
Mayor Fendley is the most savage of them all. Ilere’s greatest enemy, she believes that he is the pure essence of evil. He does not listen to reason. He is bloodthirsty. He is not human. I fear that our end will come about the day Mayor Fendley orders the town to hunt us down, Ilere and I. Ilere’s purpose, her goal, is to protect the world from Lerewood’s evil. We are an infection, a deadly virus that must be contained within Lerewood’s walls. If Fendley were to escape Ilere’s boundaries, I fear the rest of the world can face only doom.
Fendley interrupted. His voice flickered higher and burned hotter. "Her intentions are nothing but tricks to help her kill us off. This is my theory of Ilere, lad—she cannot leave the woods. Not once has there been a report or a sighting of Ilere leaving her home. Journals of my ancestors and many rumors state that the creature is cursed to remain in the Lerewood forest, so she can prevent us from ever escaping our isolation. As pleasing as slaughtering all of us at once may seem to Ilere, our town is barren and lacks a terrain she can control. Unable to be released on us, she starves in her forest, hungry for the flesh of man. She wishes to crunch our bones with her sharp teeth, claw our eyes out with her fingernails and let them fall to the dirt so we can watch ourselves suffer death. She will lure anyone into those woods to fill her hunger and stay alive. Do not be one of the many fools that listen to her. She has poisoned this town. She has made us hate her; she has made me hate her, and my father and grandfather. She has made me hate myself, for not having the power to save this town and prevent generations of suffering. Our forefathers have suffered for us, and she wants us to suffer for our children, and the process will continue infinitely if someone doesn't kill her."
~Chapter 9 of The Lerewood
But, for now, I must prepare for my journey to the outside world. Ilere has refused my offer to stay and help her contain Lerewood’s evil, and she has convinced me to leave this horrid place. I do not know what I’ll find, but I hope I will at least get there safely.
Wow…it’s been a year since The Lerewood has been published with Kellan Publishing. It’s pretty crazy! As a newbie in the town of Authorville, I’ve learned a few things that I wish I could have told myself a year ago.
I think the biggest advice I would have given myself would be to have been more proactive about marketing. I consider myself a very ambitious person, so when I don’t reach goals I set for myself, I get frustrated. As a new author, I’m focused more on getting reviews and gaining fans and a social media following more than sales. I wanted to devise a plan in which I did some research, found people online who do reviews for The Lerewood’s dark fantasy genre, and email at least one person a day, asking them if they would be interested in receiving a free copy of The Lerewood in exchange for an honest review to be posted on a few websites such as Amazon and Goodreads. I found a few willing to review, but they only accepted physical books, rather than an ebook, and most of them lived internationally. Needless to say, sending so many copies of my books out cost a pretty penny.
I also wanted to start a video blog and have a Youtube channel, and try to gain some followers there. I got my camera, but the process of trying to find a good spot to film my videos in a house constantly under construction this past year has been a little difficult. I have been doing little things to prepare for my first video though, which I want to be perfect.
Although I haven’t reached my goals, I am working on them, just at a very slow pace. I think as a writer, one of my biggest challenges is time management. Most days I find it difficult to focus on one project, or I just have so much to do I get overwhelmed and things that should have been my priority, like writing on my new book, doesn’t get done. That, along with trying to start an editing business and spending the majority of my day reading and editing other manuscripts, it constantly feels like there is never enough time…or energy, in the day.
For the upcoming year, I’m making it one of my main goals to work on scheduling tasks in my day and moving priorities at the top of my list, and focusing my mind so that I don’t get so easily distract—hey, look! A squirrel! Let me go outside and throw him some peanuts!
Literally; this is how bad it is.
Anyway, speaking of writing new material, I am working on my next book. It incorporates so many genres—erotic romance, science fiction, fantasy, drama—that I’m not entirely sure what genre to call it! It will be a trilogy, with a sequel and possibly a prequel novel, because there is just so much material (I have about three hundred pages in notes alone and another several hundred pages of scenes I’ve already written). It’s about a criminal named Killian who hires a nanny, Abigail, to look after his young daughter, except Abigail isn’t who she says she is. The books deal with Killian’s struggle with finding love, and the battle between him and his inner demons, while Abigail tries to do what she was sent there to do by a mysterious Council. Killian suspects she is a spy, meant to infiltrate his futuristic technology company, but that is far from the truth.
My goal for the rest of the year, besides being more proactive with getting reviews for The Lerewood and followers, is to finish writing a decent amount of my new manuscript, and to write every day. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t been following that number one rule, but once it becomes a habit, I’m sure it will stick.
While in the process of writing The Lerewood, I wrote myself notes—small, insignificant gems—that I thought I would incorporate into the story. But, a lot of these facts were cut from the final manuscript for a variety of reasons.
In this blog, I’m going to reveal three things that got cut from The Lerewood (kind of like deleted scenes). Lucky you!
1. Originally, I had it so that Lerewood wasn’t completely surrounded by forest. On the northeast corner, the town had a pier. The pier served as their main means for survival: trading. They traded things like wool, skins, and fish. At one point I was working on a scene in which Mayor Fendley was discussing something with a Mongol named Akbar, a prominent trader with Lerewood. Eventually, it was changed so that Lerewood was completely isolated, as it supported an even better storyline. It allows the reader to ask themselves how the townspeople survive in such complete isolation. The town’s survival becomes a mystery, and it gave birth to a curse.
2. When writing a story, I always like to have a very specific setting. In the final manuscript, Lerewood is set in an unidentified land and time. It’s meant to allow the reader to use their imagination; The Lerewood could be a far away land or closer to home, set in the beginning of time itself or in current day. However, when I first started writing, I originally placed the Lerewood in fifteenth century Scotland; more specifically, north of Edinburgh, over the Firth of Forth and south of St. Andrews. Eventually, the specific setting was cut because I liked the idea of ambiguity.
3. For a long time I struggled with a large part of The Lerewood, which I eventually cut out: a haunting rhyme. Besides editing the poem itself many times, at first I had Uallas’ two children sing the Song of The Lerewood Forest. Then, I added it before the novel, sort of like a prologue. In the end, I decided to just remove it. Below you’ll find the original, unedited poem:
The Lerewood; what is it that gives off its way of darkness?
Is it the cold of the night that terrors all who venture near it?
Or is it the pathway that descends to nowhere?
The legends penetrate its reputation.
The minds of all are brainwashed by the myth.
Its villainous treachery, to and fro, has a mind of its own.
What is the chill that debars its victims?
Is it the victims on their own…?
No one could ever know.
And yet, could the answer be eclipsed in the mind?
Is it hidden, the truth that may possibly keep one from knowing the danger that lives inside?
When the fallen Earth welcomes a hate, it consumes an infant.
The order of death is given, and a misconception is formed.
It takes away a certain relief, that it cannot be destroyed.
The window of the mind is locked, for all are taught the basis of deception: evil.
For as time approaches, the age will come for the curse of the betrayal to be forgiven.
Let’s face it: marketing your novel is a tedious thing to do. You blog, you post on social media, but you’ve probably been doing it for so long and you feel like it’s not getting you anywhere. My advice to you?
But it’s not just about posting on social media for a half hour a day, posting everywhere you can think of about your book. I realized that, after posting so many hashtags and getting only a couple extra likes here and there on Instagram and Twitter. You have to post the right hashtags.
You have to think like a reader: if I’m looking for the next best book, what will I search for? How do readers come across new books and discover they want to read them? I personally stick to Classics and books that are popular today, except for when my cousin and best friend Melissa recommends a book to me.
Melissa is an avid reader with a collection a library would be impressed with, and she has a taste for some great finds. So when she tells me about a book she’s reading, I usually add it to my ‘want to read’ shelf on Goodreads.
A lot of other readers learn about new books the same way—from word of mouth, typically by friends, or people they have conversations with about a book they’ve both read, like book clubs. They also read reviews by others and if the review is good, they might be inclined to try that book out too.
I’ve found that one of the best ways my book The Lerewood is getting attention is through reviewers. I’ve made that my top priority in marketing my book, trying to get as many reviews posted on Amazon and Goodreads as possible. More reviews equal more traffic, and more attention.
Recently I posted a giveaway for a free signed copy of The Lerewood on Instagram. It got a bunch of likes, and the photo got a lot of comments from readers who wanted to win the book. After leaving the contest open for a full month, I chose my winner. She ended up living in Australia, and so I paid to ship my book across the world to get a review from a book reviewer who has over a thousand followers! Soon after I chose my winner, I started getting messages from other reviewers who were interested as well and wanted to know how to get a copy of my book. I sent my book to another reviewer in exchange for a review, and she posted the photo on her Instagram. She also designed a custom book mark to match the cover! In the comments, someone even wrote that they read the book as well. I couldn’t believe it, considering this was the most attention The Lerewood has gotten!
Giveaways are another great way to get attention for your novel, but you have to use the right platform. I mentioned that a few months ago I posted a giveaway on Instagram—in total the photo got forty-five likes and fourteen comments. I also posted giveaways on Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook. On Goodreads, seven hundred and ten people requested it (from the last giveaway on Goodreads, five hundred and forty two people requested it). On Facebook, the giveaway post only got three likes after ‘boosting’ the post (227 people reached), and only one new page like. On Twitter, I got ten new follows after posting about my giveaway. One of the many tweets I wrote got one like. The winners from Facebook and Twitter never even messaged me back about their free book. In conclusion, if you’re going to do a giveaway, Goodreads is definitely the best place to do it. It can be difficult to get attention on other social media platforms, even if you’re giving your book away for free.
But I still solidly believe that by getting more reviews, I’ll slowly build the followers I’m looking for. For the rest of the year, my goal will be to contact reviewers and bloggers every day and try to get them to read and review my book. Think about it; when you’re on Amazon and you come across a book with hundreds of good reviews, does that influence you to buy the book too, rather than if it had only a couple good reviews or none at all?
It may cost a lot of my own money, but I think it’ll pay off in the end. I want The Lerewood out there and known rather than making a lot of sales. That way when I write my next book, I’ll already have a bunch of fans excited for my next work.
“The wood was pitch-black. Lingering in one spot did him no good and fear came quite easily, so Uallas found it best to walk again. He couldn't see a thing except the foliage, which seemed to cast an eerie glow. Even in the darkness, the trees acted as lamps, giving off the tiniest hint of green light. The light was so faint, it barely provided Uallas with guidance to see ahead. He could see only the trees that stood closest to him. He felt like the trees had the power to direct him to safety, but they wanted to torture him. They took away his senses and only granted him the vision they wanted him to have, and it was just enough to see the trees that stood like creatures with souls, creatures that watched him with rugged eyes deep inside their trunks. They wanted to scare and threaten him. The man could swear the trees were glowing, and only the trees that led to Ilere would glow, leading him right along that path without his knowledge. Somewhere, there could be a pathway coated in darkness, but it would be the pathway to safety and freedom. Uallas did not trust the trees. He did not like them staring at him.”
~Excerpt from Chapter 4 of The Lerewood
Pet peeves…oh, I have so many! As a reader, I can’t stand to see certain things in books. As an author, it’s so much worse, because I know how much hard work goes into writing and editing a novel, and sometimes it just feels like an author gave up, or that they didn’t put as much effort into their work as they could have. Call me a perfectionist, but I can’t put a huge amount of effort into something, only to leave tiny strings frayed and unattached.
In this blog I’m going to focus on three major pet peeves that I can’t stand specifically in the Romance and Erotica genres, because that’s the genre of my current work in progress.
1. When two people ‘fall in love’ in two seconds. I get it; you’re writing a romance. And I get it; an average sized novel is maybe forty, fifty thousand words. That’s not a very large book, and chances are, an avid reader will go through the story pretty quickly. When two characters fall in love within such a short period of time, I find it hard to relate to. In my case, it took me several months to fall in love, but I lived through each and every day of contact. Books usually don’t describe that much of a character’s life to a reader. I love a romance that is very slow, in which you can watch every moment that defines the relationship, and in which you can almost feel yourself falling in love too. I encourage romance writers to create a series of books in which the characters discover their love at the very end, or a story that is slow enough so that it feels real.
2. When the men in romance/erotica novels are all the same: troubled bad boys, unnaturally good looking, rich, controlling, etc. Okay…again, I get it. A lot of women have that fantasy relationship with this kind of guy, or a guy with one of these traits. But what I really can’t stand is the perfect looks/Greek God descriptions. No guy is perfect. In fact, I personally don’t find the typical ‘hot guy’ descriptions necessarily attractive. The character in my novel is strong and muscular, but besides that he is meant to be rather beastly and unlikeable. He’s slightly shorter than average height, covered in scars and burns, has sunken eyes with dark circles, and other features that aren’t your usual turn-ons. He is meant to be disliked in the beginning of the series, so when my protagonist goes from considering him her enemy to discovering her feelings for him several years later, I bring the reader through a realistic, amazing journey.
3. When the women have no power/can’t control themselves. This ties into the previous pet peeve. I once read a book recently in which a young woman accidentally bumps into a guy at a restaurant, and she immediately goes certifiably insane over this guy. She can’t stop thinking about him. He was just so hot that she couldn’t help but fall for this guy. Like come on…seriously. And I’ve read a couple novels in which the woman is turned off by this guy—at first. She plays hard to get or puts up a fight, and then way too easily the guy swoons her. For once, I want a novel in which the woman does not fall for the guy. I want to read a book about female heartbreakers. In my romance series, it takes my protagonist ten years to discover she has some sort of feelings for the guy…and even then she knows it’s not love.
As for The Lerewood, the genre isn’t romance; however the two main characters—Uallas and Ilere—share a bond that is more special than friendship. Ilere cares for Uallas almost in a motherly way. She knows he isn’t cursed like the rest of Lerewood. She knows he has a chance to see the rest of the world and end his suffering. She sees that he is good and wants to help him. Though, their feelings for each other end right about there. I didn’t have to worry too much about working on romance, but I can assure you that in my future works, I’ll never succumb to these three pet peeves.
Ilere thought it was a possibility that Uallas had some kind of power over her. What power caused a creature such as herself, a beast only educated in killing, to care? Ilere has never cared about any human before. She has never experienced any type of human emotion. Uallas came, he tested her; he was different, she talked to him, taught him, trusted him. But why? Why did she save him? She did not want to kill if she did not have to, but she did so anyway. Why couldn't she let the first of the two hunters run back to town? What would have been so horrible in letting a hunter go free, to tell her tale? Why was Uallas an exception to this impetuous bloodshed? What spell had he cast on her, for her to say "no"?
~Excerpt from Chapter 10 of The Lerewood
Read the original blog post on Kellan Publishing's website here.
I was always a fan of Greek mythology, and one of my favorite stories is the one of Prometheus and Pandora in Hesiod’s Works and Days. (My other favorite being the story of Narcissus, the hunter who fell in love with his own reflection) I was sort of indirectly inspired by the story of Pandora and the horrors that follow after she opens the gift Zeus gave her—the mysterious jar. I say ‘indirectly’ because I didn’t make the connection until after The Lerewood was written. I then realized that I must have drawn inspiration from the story of Pandora without realizing it!
"The trees tell me stories of how the 'outsiders' you know so well in your legends were anything but. They have lived in these woods for centuries before your town formed. And there was an entire population of my people, my ascendants that harnessed the same powers that bind me to the forest. Then one day, the trees tell me, your people appeared out of nowhere in one of the clearings. They chopped down hundreds of our trees and started to form shelters and a civilization. Where they came from, the trees do not even understand. Even the wisest of trees say they witnessed your people rise from the ground, as if they were born right out of the dirt.”
~Excerpt from Chapter 6
In The Lerewood, the townspeople of the titular town, Lerewood, were ‘born right out of the dirt’, as seen in this excerpt. Some readers may not have picked up on this, but this is a reference to Hell, or an underworld. I imagined the townspeople rising out of the dirt like zombies, sent as a curse from the ‘underworld’ to infect the rest of humanity with evil. Ilere acted as the barrier between humanity and this evil, sort of like the jar in the story of Pandora. In the end of The Lerewood, Fendley, the mayor of Lerewood, survives a devastating fire that kills the rest of the townspeople, as well as Ilere and the protagonist Uallas. Fendley is ‘released’ into the rest of the world, therefore spreading evil, disease, starvation…I leave it up to the reader to decide the horrible fate of the world. So, the outcome is much like ‘Pandora’s box’ in retrospect. The only difference is that Pandora released all the evils of humanity because she was curious of what was inside, and in The Lerewood, the horrible ending was due to Ilere’s failure to protect the forest against the townspeople.
In the book, I try not to make too many references to religion or religious concepts like Heaven, Hell, or even God. I like to keep things open for interpretation, but give enough hints so that readers of all different religions can come up with their own conclusions, and fill in the missing pieces of Lerewood’s history their own way. So, the references I make in The Lerewood are very vague and minimal. I like to leave things a mystery, so that by the time readers are finished with the story, they are left thinking. I feel like a lot of authors feel like they need to end their story by answering every question and wrapping things up in a perfect bow, unless the book is a part of a series. I think I like to leave things open-ended because when I started writing, I was used to writing fanfictions for stories that ended that way. I liked being able to come up with my own continuations, and I hope that I can give readers the opportunity to do the same.
I have decided to begin a journal for my findings in this strange world. The darkness and the insufferable agony have finally disappeared, and we—by we I mean myself and a number of others—have been greeted with the light. It was blinding at first, but now it is tolerable. It does something to you, the light; it gives one hope, but for what I do not know.
We are soon introduced to this clenching pain in the stomach. We must consume, but there is nothing but dirt so dry it is practically impenetrable, like stone. We try not to turn on each other, so I’d volunteered to explore the wood that surround us. What I found there was incredible—something so otherworldly, something none of us have seen before. Where we have only known death, I have found life.
I cannot…must not tell the others, so I write in the privacy of this journal. Upon entering the trees, I saw foliage so green and lush; I knew we have been blessed with paradise. I continued on in the forest, making my way through the plants with some difficulty for there was no path or indication that someone has passed through here before, until I came across a sort of small garden. It was bountiful grove, a row of green trees with bright bulbous objects hanging from them, of all different colors. When my mouth began watering, I knew this was what I’ve been looking for—food for my people, the food that will take away the pain which we can never seem to fill.
I reached but the treetop was too tall, past my height with an extended hand. I tried to jump, but lost my balance and fell upon the ground, but even so I was not tall enough. I could not climb the tree trunk, for I did not know how to attempt to do that. So I pounded at the tree, trying to shake it. I kicked at it, threw my body violently at it. I was in pain…we were all in pain. The hunger was so great I was desperate to get that food in any possible way, even if it brought more pain. Finally, as if the tree felt bad for me, it released one perfect gift.
I had to stare at the item on the ground for a moment: round with a pointed bottom, fat and plump like it was ready to burst, and hot pink, the color of the sky sometimes. I dropped to the ground and held it in my hands. But then, the worst happened.
Ever so slowly, it shriveled into a small, black, disgusting piece of goo.
And that’s when I knew the truth: we weren’t in paradise. We’ve been cursed, cursed to a new land of false hope.
I must have knelt there in disbelief for several minutes before bursting in tears. I couldn’t help myself. The forest, the perfect, bountiful forest decays at our touch. We’ve been born and created to do nothing but suffer. Nothing has ended, nothing has changed.
Soon, I was overwhelmed by the most breathtaking scent; it was fresh, natural, like the clean woods but accented by something sweet, but earthy, like food, but not quite like food. I couldn’t place it.
I looked up, expecting to see nothing but the wind that blew in this wonderful aroma. Instead, I was greeted by a stranger.
An exceedingly, inhumanly tall stranger. He wore a green cloak that covered his entire body, except his hands and face. His fingers were long and clean. His face was long as well, but it glowed, and had a pale tone with a green tint, like he was born from the trees and shared its chemistry.
He did not speak. Neither did I. He looked down upon me, this green man, looked down upon me with pity, then reached his arm up—it was long enough to reach through the treetop and come out the other side—and he plucked a fruit. It did not wither in his hand. Then he bent over me and held it out.
I shook my head. “I cannot take it, it will wither. I will only destroy it.” a weak plea came out. I did not want to destroy this perfect garden.
The green man said nothing in response, but pushed the fruit against my mouth. It did not wither when it touched my lip. I took a bite.
I ate it all, fed by the green man, and the pain went away…for now.
As soon as I realized what this meant, I ran back to our settlement, originally with the intention of telling the others. But then I thought about that fruit dying upon my touch. Had it truly been my skin that caused the fruit to decay, or had it simply expired seconds from falling from its life source? Who are these green folk that are tall enough to touch the treetops and who seem to have control of the forest?
If it was my touch that wasted the food, then it is likely that the others will slowly destroy every last bit of food in that forest. What if these green folk do not approve or allow all of us to eat in their forest? I must not let that happen. I will go into the forest myself, perhaps convince these folk to provide us food, teach me how to harvest their food so it remains delicious, teach me how to survive.
I will learn to survive this world no matter what it takes.
Even if that means I must use the people of the forest.
"My people found no harm in letting your people live in the forest, forming their little town. But after many years my ancestors began to see your people for who they really are. They would storm into the forest, hunting and killing all of us, and spoke of feeding their starving families the flesh of my people, for they could find no other source of meat. We were peaceful toward them at the very beginning, offered them the hospitality of our forest, but instead they chose to slaughter us without asking if we could help or provide them with food. It was soon apparent that your town was the essence of darkness."-Excerpt from Chapter 6
Goodreads is one of the best places an author can go to market their book. As an author, one of the greatest exposures I’ve gotten for my book, The Lerewood, was from a giveaway on the website Goodreads.
For readers who don’t know about Goodreads, it’s a great site where you can connect with friends, create ‘shelves’ where you post about which books you’ve read and which you want to read or are currently reading. You can post reviews of books and join groups like online book clubs. My cousin and I are both lovers of Goodreads. When it’s my birthday or during the holidays, my cousin always goes to Goodreads, looks at my shelf of books I want ‘to read’, and surprises me with a couple books from that shelf. She also gets super excited when she sees we want to read the same books.
The best part about Goodreads is that it’s the social media site for readers. Translation: all of your consumers, your audience, your potential buyers, in one spot. Granted, not everyone in the world who likes to read has a Goodreads account, but chances are they do if they’re an avid reader, and it’s the best place for an author to reach out and connect with readers.
The first giveaway I ever did was on Facebook. The day my book was published with Kellan Publishing, I created a group on Facebook to celebrate my launch. I invited all of my friends and the group was public. I invited 272 people and 40 people joined, most of those people friends and a couple others who found the group publicly. I gave away a signed copy of The Lerewood, bags of candy, custom tote bags, key chains, a stuffed animal, and ebooks (all of the extras somehow relatable to the story). But, despite all the money I spent on these items for the giveaway, only 40 people—most of them friends—partook in the giveaway.
Sometime after that, I set up an author page on Goodreads and posted a public giveaway for The Lerewood, or one signed copy. 544 people requested to win the single copy…again that’s 544 total strangers who saw my book on Goodreads and were interested in winning the free copy. Now that’s some serious exposure! The winner of the giveaway also publicly posted a nice review on The Lerewood page on Goodreads. More reviews equal a happy author.
You can follow me on my Goodreads and Facebook page, Twitter, my website, and Instagram, as I’ll be posting giveaways on there every once in a while! (See the links on the bottom of my home page)
Uallas and Ilere had everywhere to hide, and yet they had nowhere to hide. The two of them, one worthless and the other queen of the forest, stood against an army of humans, fueled by a raging fire that threatened to burn down their home. With Fendley leading the crowd, the townspeople advanced through the deep woods and spotted Ilere's tree.
She and Uallas stood in front of it, as if they needed something to keep them safe.
"It is your time to die, fiend! My ancestor chose to leave you alone, to let you suffer, but he made the mistake that ruined this town. We are the ones who have suffered on your behalf."
Ilere defended herself with the forest. The trees swung their branches and swatted men and women. The children were too small for the branches to reach them. They crouched down and took cover while their mothers and fathers were whipped. Vines lifted from trees and grabbed arms and legs. The fury of Ilere emanated off the vines like violent puppets; they tore limbs, and within seconds, a good portion of the army was already dead.
~Excerpt from Chapter 10
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