Tiny Story Three: Violet, Edmund, Lala and Benjamin

(Spoiler Alert)

Benjamin and Edmund are the two main characters of the New Adult magical realism romance, Violet’s Mountain.  Violet is the mysterious young woman who lives on the mountain, Lala is her younger cousin.  The brothers save their lives and they all become a family. Right now it is published exclusively on Amazon: Violet’s Mountain

__________________________________

Edmund woke and nestled in under Violet’s arm, resting his head on the soft place between her breast and shoulder. Violet asked, “You awake?”

“Uh huh,” Edmund wrapped tighter around her body. “You?”

“I’ve been awake for awhile. Merry Christmas Eddie.” He looked up and she stroked her fingers down the side of his cheek. “I’m glad you’re here to celebrate it with me.”

Edmund said, “Merry Christmas. I’m glad to be here too.” He kissed her on her chest and nestled back in.

“I need to warn you though, that it’s…” Her voice trailed off. Edmund looked up startled, his brow furrowed. “It’s just that Lala, Christmas is really hard on her, she’s a roller coaster and we just, you have to be ready to deal with it. Her heart is so broken that—”

Eddie raised up on an elbow. “This is Lala we’re talking about? She seems as light and carefree as ever.”

“But she’s not, that’s the thing, she covers it and keeps it hidden, unlike me with my broken heart on display.”

“I thought we had fixed that heart of yours.”

Violet looked deep into Edmund’s eyes and said, “Yes, love, I meant that in the past-tense.” Edmund kissed Violet softly and there was a knock on their door.

From the hallway Lala said, “Violet, Violet, Violet, it’s Christmas, are you up? Edmund? Wake up, it’s Christmas! I think I might die of excitement. Wake up.”

Edmund jumped stealthily from the bed and without a sound turned the doorknob. Yanking the door open, he exclaimed, “Merry Christmas Lala!”

She shrieked surprised, but quickly recovered. “Presents. There are presents under the tree, it’s almost 6 a.m., and you have to get up!”

Violet pulled a hoodie on over her pajama pants, grinned as she brushed by Edmund, both of them following Lala to the living room.

Benjamin strolled in. “You woke them? I told you to let them sleep, you’re relentless.”

“Benjamin, look at these presents, some are foiled wrapped, gold ribbons on this one, look at that one, what is that, can you tell what that shape is? No, you have to unwrap it, the mysterious nature of the thing could drive you crazy.”

Violet laughed, “I’m up in the dark because my mental health depends on it.” She grinned at Edmund and they both dropped at the same time onto the couch in front of the Christmas tree.

Lala remained standing and bellowed, “Uncle Bruce! Presents!” Benjamin dropped into an easy chair. Bruce walked in a second later, wearing bright red long underwear. His grey beard was braided and decorated with tiny shiny colorful Christmas ornaments. Everyone giggled.

He said, “I see you like my elf-ish attire. My dear, Lala, it is about time you summoned me, I put this on hours ago. I wanted to make a big entrance and had almost given up.” He sat in the opposite chair and spent a second adjusitng himself and getting into a cross-legged position.

Lala said, “As you can see, We have presents. Wrapped. And it’s almost light out. It’s time to open them.” She began plucking presents out of the small pile and placing them on everyone’s laps until each person had a small pile around and on them. And then she looked at the still large pile and clapped her hands merrily. “Look at all of mine. Have you ever seen so many?”

Violet said, “It’s quite the load, you must be very loved.”

“True,” said Lala happily. Everyone began tearing open paper, unwrapping, exclaiming, showing off, admiring and discussing. Bruce had a favorite book of poetry from Violet, Edmund had a new wetsuit from Benjamin, Violet had a dainty gold necklace from Edmund, the pendant (when she saw it) caused her eyes to fill with tears. But besides that it was all merriment and joy, until it wasn’t, and slowly everyone realized that Lala was stopped in mid-movement, staring at a square present, wrapped in exotic, hand-stamped paper.

Violet reacted first, “What is that Lala, from your parents?”

Lala nodded. “I don’t know if I can, they didn’t even call, I don’t even know where they are.”

Violet said, “It’s probably just a trinket Lala, we talked about it. Your happiness isn’t dependent on it anymore, right? You can open the present and it doesn’t—”

Lala said, “But maybe it’s a plane ticket. Maybe they want me to come and see them, when was the last—”

Bruce said, “My good for nothing sister and her husband haven’t been back in two years. Lala, I recommend not opening that present and returning to sender. You can write a poem that expresses your sentiment on the matter and we’ll mail it off to them today. Of course the post office isn’t running today, but tomorrow at the latest.”

Lala ignored Bruce and staring at the box said, “The more I think about it it’s got to be a plane ticket to meet them. Maybe in Thailand, I’ve always wanted to go there, and look at the wrapping, it looks very exotic.” She stared at the box, blinking.

Violet said, “It might not be, please don’t get your—”

Lala carefully peeled up the edges of the tape and unwrapped the ribbon revealing a white box underneath. She lifted the lid and pulled aside the tissue paper. Everyone leaned forward and she cocked her head. She lifted a glass ball out of the box. A shiny glass ball with a world globe on the inside. “What the?”

She spun the glass ball to the right and the globe spun to the left. Her brow furrowed. She gingerly rolled it onto the carpet in front of her and dug around inside the box and pulled out a small white card. On the card was typed: A globe paperweight to remind you to go see the world someday. Love, Mom and Dad.

Lala stared at the card for a long long time. Violet whispered, “Can I see it?”

Lala handed her the card and Violet read with Edmund reading over her shoulder. Violet’s mouth drew into a frown.

Tears slid down Lala’s face. “I thought this Christmas would be different. I’m older now, I’m not such a pain in the ass.”

Violet said, “Lala, you aren’t ever a pain in the ass. You are awesome and wonderful and anyone who doesn’t see that doesn’t deserve to spend time with you.”

But my own parents? I just thought…never mind.” Lala scooped up the paperweight and dropped it into the box and shoved it away. Sitting crosslegged on the floor she plucked at the carpet. Tears streaming down her face.

Violet said, “You know what I’m going to say?”

Lala nodded, “That it’s not worth thinking about, that I know this is how it is—whatever. I just thought this time would be different. Plane tickets or—I don’t know, something that means something. Not a knickknack. There have been too many knickknacks in our lives already.”

“All of that is true Lala, and I know it hurts, but it’s Christmas, and I want you to know that I love you. I’m sorry you got a paperweight.”

“I love you too.”

Edmund said, “I don’t think this helps Lala, but I want you to know that if you want to go travel, I will make it happen for you, all you have to do is ask.”

Lala nodded. “I know that Edmund, thank you, it’s not about the travel though, not really.”

“I know.”

They sat for a second awkwardly. Lala sniffling. Everyone else quiet. Finally Bruce stood up. His long underwear accentuated his barrel chest and rotund belly and he had placed a headband with antlers on his head to add to his festive look. “As the patriarch of this family I have an announcement. I have been giving the various members of my extended family a pass for a long long time, but it has come to me this last year that these people, my sisters and brothers and aunts and cousins, are all a bunch of nincompoops. I deeply regret all of the Christmas cards I sent out. Lala I am sorry that you must discover this in your youth, but here it is. You are wiser than me. You must be strong. Write poetry, from darkness comes light.” He sat.

Lala said, “Thank you Uncle Bruce, I’m grateful that you took me in all those years ago.”

Bruce smiled and winked, “Also, I look forward to my annual reading of Mr. Willoughby’s Christmas Tree, dear Lala, we will begin as soon as you feel up to it.”

Through all of this Benjamin had been quiet, watching the exchange. Finally he smacked his hands on his knees, stood, stretched, and said, “It’s time for breakfast. I have a casserole to bake. Orange Julius to mix. Lala, come work the blender?”

She nodded quietly and followed him.

Violet leaned back on the couch and said, “Phew.”

Edmund asked, “Phew? Is it over?”

Violet said, “just listen. Your brother has a way.”

They all listened quietly as Benjamin moved around pots and pans, explained the recipe, asked Lala to beat the eggs, chatted merrily about his new blender, and then began humming to himself, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Lala’s favorite song. One minute later Lala was singing, and on the chorus their voices harmonized, the music drifting out of the kitchen and filling the air to the living room where the others sat.

Another minute later Uncle Bruce rose to go sit at the kitchen bar and lend his baritone to the song.

Edmund kissed Violet on the forehead and said, “Christmas is awesome when you’re surrounded by family.”

“That it is Eddie, that it is.”

Tiny Story Two : Hank and Princess Amelia from Fly; The Light Princess Retold

Hank placed his surfboard up against the side of the house and called, “Amelia? Are you home?”

Her high tinkling laugh emitted through the window. “Hank!”

He trudged through the sand to the front door, stamped his feet on the mat, and stepped inside. Amelia swooped down and hovered in front of him, her feet kicking near the ceiling, her arms languidly flowing through the air currents of their small beach bungalow. Her smile was wide, her face bright, she said, “I have a present for you—” and then she clamped her hands over her mouth. She giggled, “I was going to keep that a secret until tonight at the party!”

Hank laughed, “You kept that secret for about two seconds.”

She sighed a pretend, overly dramatic, sigh. “Hank, presents can’t wait. They just can’t. That two seconds was excruciating.” Hank held up his hand and Amelia grasped it and gently floated down until her feet were on the floor.

She kissed Hank on the lips, and said, “Would you like it now or at the party?”

He wrapped her in his arms, she was solid, grounded, returned to earth. He screwed his face up, “Let’s see. It’s a Christmas present, and we promised each other that we weren’t going to do Christmas presents this year because we were donating all our time, energy, and money to the rebuilding efforts in the village. You said yourself, ‘Hank, I don’t want any presents this year, I just want my presents to go to needy children,’ you said that just two days ago, and now you have a present for me, and I don’t have one for you, so maybe at the party, so I can go shopping this afternoon.”

“Nope, I don’t want anything and you promised me. I’ve known you for a long time and you are a man of your word Hank, no presents.”

“But you got one for me? You aren’t a princess who keeps your promises?”

“Princesses don’t have to keep their promises, it’s one of the perks of being a princess.”

“I see.”

“And I broke this promise because the present was so perfect. And so necessary. And you need it. Probably right now.”

“Okay, now then.”

Amelia clapped her hands, happily, as her feet floated up behind her and she ascended to the ceiling. She swished her arms and turned and dolphin-kicked down the hall. “It’s in the kitchen!”

Hank followed her to their table. In the middle was a box, wrapped in sky-blue paper that matched Amelia’s hair, and tied with a silver ribbon. She clapped again and exclaimed, “Do you like?”

Hank laughed again and effusively said, “The wrapping is gor-geous!”

Amelia said, “Isn’t it just perfect!”

Amelia wrapped her hand around Hank’s bicep and slowly dropped to the ground again, landing softly. Her gravity back she said, “I love you Hank Campbell.”

“I love you too, Amelia Campbell.”

“You’ve been working so hard for everyone else for so long, carrying around the weight of the world, and I just, I see it, how big your heart is, how heavy the burden is, and I just—oh just open it.”

Hank smiled and pulled the box toward him. He untied the bow and glanced at Amelia who was nodding excitedly. He ripped off the paper and Amelia said, “Yay!” And applauded his unwrapping. And then he opened the box and peered inside. There was a glass sphere nestled in tissue paper. He reached down and pulled it up. It was about six inches in diameter, thick glass. In the center was a chaotic twist of a knot of sky blue gossamer silk strands that shimmered and sparkled and wrapped and coiled, slowly twisting inside the larger glass sphere. Hank turned the sphere around and around in his hand, while the middle twisted and turned independently of the outer sphere, “It’s beautiful, what is it?”

“Inside is magical air, Hank, it’s the tailwind of a flying princess, the currents that lift me up, the air that flows around, and in the middle, that sparkling silver place? That’s a bit of my laughter, I caught it all for you and put it inside this. Whenever I’m not around, this is a bit of the magic that is me, for you, and small enough that you can carry it. I hope it will give you lift.” She beamed. “Do you like it?”

“I do, I love it.” Hank smiled and twisted the sphere a few more times.

“And there’s a stand, so you can put it down, so your hands will be free to hold me, kiss me, hug me. That’s a hint.”

Hank chuckled and placed the sphere carefully back in the box and hugged his arms around Amelia lifting her feet up from the ground. He kissed her on her forehead, on the cheek, and then on her lips. “You’re the best. Thank you. This is already the best Christmas I’ve had in a long long time.”

“And it’s only just begun. Boomer is coming to get me in a few minutes, the bands are setting up, the doors open in three hours. You sir, need to hit the showers, there’s a party!” Amelia let go and floated toward the ceiling, kicking off the door jam and spiraling across the living room to the bedroom, saying to herself, in her airy singsong voice, “I love parties!”

_____________________

Amelia and Hank are the two main characters of the novel, Fly; The Light Princess Retold. This tiny story takes place after their fairytale ending.  You can read the full book here (I’m posting it chapter by chapter) or sign up for my newsletter at hdknightley.com and I’ll send you the full e-book.

Tiny Story One : Estelle and William from The Estelle Series

I was reading through a stupid proposal from the department of housing and development when I heard a soft knock on my office door.

My eyes checked the time, oh no, I was very late.

William entered. “Busy?”

“Did I miss dinner?” I clicked save on the proposal and shoved the screen away.

William pulled off his overcoat, dropped into a chair across from my desk, placed the bags on the ground and rustled through one. “You didn’t miss it, I brought it. I know you wanted to make it to Terran’s in time—”

I started to protest and he held up his hands to stop what I was going to say: That I meant to, I wanted to, I still hoped to. But he had heard that all before, many times. So I bit my tongue as he finished, “But you didn’t. No one holds it against you. They all say hello. And Terran says he misses you.”

He placed a bundle in front of me. I untied the string and pulled back the cloth and revealed a plate, with roasted chicken, a spinach salad with cranberries and goat cheese, and some spaghetti squash. It looked delicious and still warm.

William handed me a fork.

“You saved me from stuffing dinner bars in my mouth as I raced across New City crying because I missed dinner.” I took a bite of salad.

He said, “You have to remember that we’re all in this together, you might sit in the office, but we’re all in your corner.”

I nodded, chewing chicken that was seasoned with lemon pepper, one of my favorites. “Who was there?”

“Terran, Sunny, Frederick, me. Cameron and Katie stopped by just in time for dessert.”

I was twirling my fork in the spaghetti squash when he said dessert, and I asked, “Something sweet?”

“Absolutely.” He opened the second bag and brought out a wrapped loaf of some kind. I pulled the paper off to find pound cake. “My favorite! Who made it?”

“Sunny.” He reached into his jacket’s inside pocket and handed me a small jar of honey. I unscrewed the lid and tipped the jar over a slice. “You thought of everything, but also, what’s in the last bag?”

He innocently asked, “There’s a last bag?”

I grinned wider.

He said, “We’ll get to that after your hands aren’t sticky.”

I smiled, “My lips are sticky too.”

“And I didn’t bring a napkin.” He leaned across the desk and kissed me sweetly on my lips. Pausing there, inches from my face, he said, “I missed you today. The only thing that got me through was knowing that your work is important, also that it won’t be forever.”

“True, two years but it feels like forever when I’m dealing with ridiculous demands.” William dropped back to his seat, quietly, listening, so I continued. “They want me to okay new construction on the southern side of the city, William. It’s so beautiful, dark, and forested there, and I can’t let them. I told them to focus instead on rebuilding a portion of the gold quarter in Old Town. I even used that new term you coined, new-vitalizing—”

“They didn’t fall for that?”

“Their latest proposal wasn’t even close. And here I am arguing over building projects when the big thing I want to accomplish is turning off the damned Sky Projector, and I can’t do it because there’s a whole bunch of jobs tied to it, a lot of people relying on it, and strangely people like it. I took over the government, but I can’t do any big things, just small compromises with imbeciles.” I smiled. “Don’t tell them I said that.”

William gave me a half smile, “I don’t talk to them on principle.” He looked at me intently, “You know what I’m going to say, right?”

I said, “That it’s only for a couple of years, just a matter of months if you think about it, also the path to change is long, find the compromise, imagine the third way, keep my eyes forward on the—blah, blah, blah.”

“I can see you’re paying attention.” William smiled. “I won’t say anything, won’t tell you what to do. I’m just proud of you. That’s all I’m going to say.”

He was leaned back in his chair, sexy, relaxed. Looking at me intently. I decided to quit feeling sorry for myself for having to run the whole entire world and instead turn this night around.

I slowly climbed across my desk, aiming for William’s lips, pretending to want a kiss, but at the end reaching down for the last bag and lifting it. “Mine?”

He shook his head slowly. “You are incorrigible. And that Stelley, is a present.”

“For me?” I batted my eyes, laying on my belly across my desk, holding the present in front of me. He nodded.

I backed off the desktop pulling the bag to my lap. I reached inside and pulled out a box wrapped in red paper and tied with a string. “Why?”

William stood, walked around my desk, and leaned on it. “Because today is December 25th.”

I squinted up at him. “Yes?”

“Historically this date is called Christmas.”

I looked at the package dumbly. He added, “A holiday that used to be celebrated by giving people you love presents.”

I said, “All I needed to know was—presents, not on my birthday. Can I open it now?”

He grinned, “Of course.”

I ripped the paper open to reveal a cardboard box. Suddenly it felt precious, so I placed it gently on the desk and opened the lid. Inside was tissue paper and when I peeled that away, a shiny glass ball. I stood, reached down, and pulled it gingerly from the box. It was about six inches in diameter, heavy, smooth, shiny glass, the outer wall was clear and thick, and inside was a free floating smaller sphere, painted like a suspended, glistening, glittering world. When I turned the sphere to the right, the world floating inside spun to the left. “It’s beautiful.”

“And if we turn off the lights.” He pushed the overhead light’s button, throwing us into a hazy grey darkness.

“Whoa.”

The interior sphere sparkled with tiny dots of light. And the outer glass was full of tiny pinpricks of glittering lights like stars. I spun it back and forth watching the lights glimmer and sparkle. It was so beautiful that I felt kind of untethered, tears welled up.

William said, “This Stelley, is the whole entire world, you just have to hold it and keep it safe, I can’t think of anyone better suited for the job.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Also, note the stand, you get to put it down whenever you want. You can leave it here, at the office, go home, and it will still be here when you return in the morning.” William placed a circular stand on my desk, and I placed the sphere down on it. I marveled at the way it glowed and sparkled for a moment, and then I stood up. William wrapped his arms around me and kissed me on my forehead, in that best place, right at the edge of my hair.

I nuzzled in, hugged, and then I looked up, placed my hands on his cheeks, kissed him, and said, “Let’s go home.”

___________________________

William and Estelle are the two main characters of the YA trilogy, Bright, Beyond, and Belief. This tiny story is a glimpse at their lives after the trilogy ends.

Published exclusively on Amazon: The Estelle Series. Bright is also available as an audiobook!

________________________

Paperweights, Tiny Holiday Stories from the Worlds of H.D. Knightley

Read for free by clicking the links below:

Tiny Story One : Estelle and William from The Estelle Series

(This is a Spoiler because it begins 11 months after the series ends.)

Tiny Story Two : Princess Amelia and Hank from Fly; The Light Princess Retold

(This is a Spoiler because it begins after the fairytale ending.)

Tiny Story Three : Violet, Edmund, Lala, and Benjamin

(Ditto, Spoiler alert.)

 

book marketing, experiment #29

Because book marketing is tricky and what works is constantly changing, I have to be experimental, agile, and forgiving about my misfires. (And there have been many misfires.)

And quite a few lulls.

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-8-23-57-am

that spike on June 23? It’s a giveaway of about a 900 books. Kicked things into high gear for about a week and then it flattened out again.

So then I was sent a link to this book:

How to Hit #1 in the Amazon Free Store by Jeff Bennington, and I decided to apply his steps. Come to find out that first giveaway, wasn’t big enough. I needed a giveaway that was enormous and would move me up the Amazon rankings. And to do that my friends I would have to spend some moolah.

I set my free days for August 15, 16, 17. At first it was for Bright, then I added Beyond and Belief too. See that negative dip above? That’s probably someone who bought my books saying, hey, what the heck, refunding them and getting them for free instead.

See this graph below? That’s the free books in that first green hump, mid August:

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-8-40-34-am

First, I asked Bookbub.com to promote my giveaway, they’re expensive, also considered the lead-maker, also too exclusive for my books, they turned me down. So whatevs, this is what I did instead:

  • DigitalBookToday.com ran a free promo for Bright, but then I added the $30 Deal/Book of the Day
  • Booksends.com cost $60 for Bright on August 15th in the Young Adult category
  • FreeBooksy.com cost $75 for Bright in Young Adult on August 16th
  • I asked BKnights@fiverr to run a promotion for Bright on August 15 to 4800 for $5, but to schedule it fast I paid $11
  • Fussy Librarian $5 for a listing for Bright
  • Then on the days of the giveaways I boosted two posts through Facebook.com/hdknightley, they were photo memes and cost $25

I did the math, total: $206

During the giveaway I got to the top of the Amazon Bestseller list for Dystopian (Free books, which is seperate.) for both Bright and Belief, and Beyond was just a page down. I was really psyched.

screen-shot-2016-08-17-at-6-34-48-pm

But I realized I made a mistake. I paid for marketing for the first two days then continued the giveaway for another day with no buzz. That day my book downloads fell off sharply. And then when my books went to full price there were barely any accidental or intentional buys. Oops.

Then it seemed like not much happened for a few days and then this:screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-9-57-58-am

see that rise in the blue? Those are page reads through the Kindle Unlimited program. It took a few days but readers were findng my books. And this happened:

On August 28, Bright jumped to #88 on the Amazon Best Sellers Dystopian Romance paid list. That’s top 100, baby, same list as Divergent. Not overall, but still, so good compared to what came before. And readers read the heck out of my book that week, too.screen-shot-bright-88-dystopian-aug-28

In the three weeks since the Giveaway of Bright, Beyond, and Belief started, I made back $132.49. Not in the black yet, but hey, I’ll let you know how it goes.

I hope that helps you as you strategize and market, I’d love to hear your successes and failures. I’m scoring this a success, though I need another soon.

xox,

H.D.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviews needed

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 10.50.26 AM

Perhaps you didn’t know that I now have six books out.

I do, it’s true.

(Also two more on the way, but that’s beside the point;o)

You have probably read a few of them, if not most of them, and for that I am very very grateful.

But perhaps you forgot to leave a review? I know you liked it, but maybe now you could tell the world. For me? Pretty please?

My reviews are great, but there aren’t many, and the lack thereof is hindering my ability to sell, market, and seek accolades.

So, if you’ve read any of the above books, and liked them. Please follow the links below and leave a simple review.

Example:

*****

This story knocked my socks off, literally and figuratively, but I wear flipflops now, so it’s all good. Bravo!

See how easy that was?

Here are the links:

Bright (Book One of The Estelle Series)

Beyond (Book Two of The Estelle Series)

Belief (Book Three of The Estelle Series)

Fly: The Light Princess Retold

Violet’s Mountain

Leveling (a novella)

Being Prolific

It has been noted in my hearing that I am writing a lot. Which is true. I published my first book in January of 2014 and now there are 6. If you blinked you might have missed a few book releases recently.

The cool part is that the books are still there, waiting for you here.

I have two  three that I’m working on, Leveling 2 (it’s in final edits), Leveling 3 (It’s in first draft, one scene down) and a new one that’s hard to describe.

It’s a love story. Two best friends attempting to navigate becoming lovers, when they are interrupted by the death of a mom. And, it is contemporary Los Angeles. Plus there is a lot of Mary Queen of Scots. Also, they both surf. In addition, there is a love triangle. Bonus! There is a hottie musician. Lots of stuff happens.

I’m 35,000 words in and like every book, it’s my best ever. Which is a tall order, because have you seen my reviews? They’re awesome.

This book, Belief, was published last month. If you haven’t read it yet, but you’ve been following Estelle’s story, you’ll want to. She becomes so much more.

Belief-best-cover-smallest

Buy it here.

Only one review so far, but it says this:

5.0 out of 5 stars Magical
This entire series is perfect. Zany and fun and heartwarming and deep. I’m in love with the characters. Please say there will be more stories to come!!!
Thank you to everyone for reading my books and enjoying the stories and reviewing them kindly and asking for more. I’m literally writing as fast as I can ;o)