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All posts for the month October, 2012

You Dare Critique Me?

Published October 18, 2012 by Laitie

grassandcitrus asked: Do you have any suggestions for critiquing creative non-fiction?

We certainly do have some suggestions for critiquing creative non-fiction. Creative non-fiction can be difficult to critique, and certainly takes much time and energy, but there are many tips and tricks to doing it right.

But first, let’s take a look at the definitions of creative non-fiction and critique.

Creative Non-Fiction: Creative nonfiction (also known as literary or narrative nonfiction) is a genre of writing that uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives.

In order to critique a creative non-fiction piece, it is important to know exactly what it is. Creative non-fiction is a piece of non-fiction written in a literary—or creative—way. In other words, Creative non-fiction uses facts from history or other areas of non-fiction to tell a true story in a form other than a simple biography. Examples include memoirs, literary journalism, and personal essays (x). Even blogging is considered literary non-fiction (x). Anything written artistically that is about factual events, practices, etc.

Critique: Evaluate (a theory, practice, or piece of creativity) in a detailed and analytical way.

When giving a critique, it is best to know exactly what a real, fair critique is. If you’re looking for a critique, do not go to your family members. A critique is an unbiased criticism of an artist’s piece with the intent to make it better. Carol Benedict brings up another great point about critiques:

“…the most important guideline for a critique is to give an honest, constructive, and polite assessment of the writing. All comments should be about the words written, not about the person writing them” (x).

All too often, critics will forget about their job and begin to insult the writer or his/her writing. It is important to remember that you are working to better the person’s writing, not bring them down by pointing out only their mistakes.

Here are some great tips on critiquing creative non-fiction to bear in mind:

  • Make sure the facts are correct.When critiquing non-fiction, creative or no, it is important to make sure the writer has gotten the facts right. before critiquing non-fiction, it’s always a good idea to do some research of your own on the subject.
    • This can be difficult with memoirs. You don’t know what the writer has experienced. Neither can you be expected to go and interview everyone in the writer’s life. In this case, be sure that the events and facts make sense. If the writer mentions historic events and/or research-able facts like Adeline Yen Mah does in her memoir, Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Girl, make sure these events and/or facts are written at the correct times and places (i.e. in chronological order).
  • Mechanics, mechanics, mechanics. Always, always, always critique mechanics. Even the most seasoned writers make spelling and grammar mistakes in their first and final drafts. Your job as the critic is to find these errors and point them out to the writer in a tactful way.
  • Be sure to point out the good along with the bad. The importance of recognizing the good is easily forgotten, especially when your job is to point out the bad to make the piece better, but in order for the writer to better their work, they also need to know where they’ve excelled. Melissa Donovan explains this in her article Tips for Critiquing Other Writers’ Work:

    When you are  giving a critique, always start by emphasizing the good … By doing this, you’re kicking things off on a positive note. Also, it’s much easier for a writer to hear where they have failed after they hear where they’ve succeeded.

    As Donovan points out, writers are people, too, and so are as sensitive as you and I. It is important to give the writer a bit of confidence to hold them through their failures.

Here are a couple examples of good critiques of creative non-fiction:

  • The voice is fantastic, and I love your word choices! But back in those times, Paul Revere would not have said “the British are coming,” because the colonists still considered themselves British. Instead, he would have called them “the Redcoats.”
  • Your facts are wonderful. Everything you mention is correct according to my research and knowledge. However, you struggle greatly with the mechanics. Look at the inline notes where I have fixed them.

As you can see, critiquing creative non-fiction is quite the labor-intensive job. But it is certainly worth it to better a writer’s piece and even contribute to your own education of the topic. Always remember to check the facts, watch the mechanics, and point out the good and the bad.

Further reading:

Thank you so much for your question!

Rachel

Breaking Bad…News That is

Published October 18, 2012 by Laitie

Anonymous asked: Have a question, quite big one actually. Any tips on “breaking news” to someone? I can’t count how many times I have read the [“Can I tell you something?” “Yeah, what is it?” “I love you.”] dialogue and it really doesn’t do anything for me. How can a character tell someone that they are in love, or have a terminal illness, or something really big has happened without it sounding rushed and fake?

There are many different ways for characters to give emotional news to each other. But first, let’s take a look at the word dialogue, as character dialogue will be a large part of today’s answer.

Dialogue (n): Conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie.

For our purposes, dialogue, as explained above, is when two or more characters in a piece of creative writing speak to each other. What the definition fails to mention is that dialogue has purpose. It means something when characters speak to each other. Don’t throw your dialogue away, and try to immerse your readers in the story with dialogue instead of pulling them out of it.

Let’s get back to the question. Here’s some general advice on one character conveying shocking information to another, otherwise known as “breaking the news”:

  • Write it just like it would happen in real life. Write, as Devon explains in her article, Strictly Speaking: Character Dialogue, “like real people in the real world, characters who live together within the pages of a fictional world to speak to one another”. Just because it’s a fictional world does not mean the characters act any differently than they would if they existed outside the pages. They may duel dragons or pilot spaceships, but they think and feel as all humans do.
  • Breaking news isn’t convenient. We may wait expectantly for news to arrive or else dread it for days, but when this type of news happens, it’s always a surprise for someone. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be called “breaking the news”. Be sure that your news comes at the appropriate time in your story for your narrative to be successful, but retain the shock value of the news. Maybe it comes while a character is in the middle of something completely unrelated. Maybe the character has managed to forget that the news may be coming altogether. Maybe the character doesn’t realize that the sort of thing to which the news pertains is even possible. Convince the reader that the characters are believably floored by the news while working it seamlessly into your narrative and you’ve achieved true success.
  • Use what you know. Take reference from personal experiences, other novels, movies, other people’s experiences, etc. to show you how someone would break the news. Think of the feelings, words, even actions involved in doing so.
  • Do not forget who your character is. Always keep in mind who your character is. How would your character do it if both he/she and the situation were real? The personality of your character will be vital in his/her taking and/or receiving of big news. This ties into the first bullet, as illustrated through Melissa Donovan’s words:

    At the same time, characters should sound like people talking, not writers writing. The author must then create an illusion. The dialogue looks, sounds, and feels like something people would actually say even though it’s not. (x)

  • What are the circumstances? Remember the circumstances that brought the situation about. Is it good news or bad news? Should they be crying or cheering? And even more importantly…
  • Write to the result. Build your suspense before a character breaks the news in such a way that it adequately sets the tone for how the news will be received. Alternatively, to surprise or jar the reader, build the suspense in the opposite way that the news will be received. Remember, you’re the writer, so you (hopefully) know what’s going to happen. Building up your audience’s expectations will either have them celebrating with your characters or experiencing the shock of dashed expectations.
  • Actions, expressions, thoughts, and feelings building up to the big reveal are all vital. It is important to note actions and expressions as often as possible. If you’re writing from a point of view where it is possible, reveal the inner monologue of one or both characters. What does the one giving the news feel prior to “breaking the news”? What does the character getting the news feel about the strange behavior or sudden appearance of the character opposite them?

We’ve covered a lot so far. Let’s take a break for a minute and look how we used all these points in the following example:

Maria shivered as her tears rendered her temporarily speechless. She was only sixteen! How could this be happening to her?

A part of her still couldn’t believe it. And she couldn’t believe she was about to tell someone about it, let alone him.

“Chris…” she said, and Chris looked up from his book with eyes that told her he was still caught up in his imagination.

“Yeah?”

She almost screamed it just to get the words out of her tightening throat; they were strangling her, fighting both to be heard and to retreat forever into the pit of her churning stomach. Chris gazed at her with growing concern.

“Maria, what is it?” He touched her cheek and, as if on cue, two fat tears spilled from her wide eyes.

“Chris I… I’m pregnant!” There was no time for silence; she collapsed, sobbing incoherently in his arms. His book fell to the floor, its pages splayed against the carpet, the golden words of its title catching the light of the sunset through the windowr: The Age of Innocence.

In the above passage, most of the above bullets points are touched upon. though it’s important to note that not every bullet point much be present in ever instance of “breaking the news”. There are pauses and reluctance illustrated with the ellipses and the repetition, and character development occurs here just as it would throughout the rest of the story.

Here is another example showcasing the expression of good news and the reaction to it:

Jenna ripped open the envelope and flipped open its contents with shaking fingers. She ignored the letterhead and went straight for the words that would either spell her doom or delight. She found it in the first line of the first paragraph: “Congratulations”.

“Mom!” she said, almost to herself at first, but then the pitch and volume of her voice seemed to elevate of their own accord. “Mom? Mom!”

Her mother came running into the room brandishing a sudsy frying pan in her hand. “What is it?” What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Jenna said. She laughed and stood up, still clutching her letter. “I got in! I got into Yale!”

“Oh, honey!” her mother said, flinging her arms wide and wielding the frying pan with frightening, jubilant abandon. “Oh, congratulations! I’m so proud of you!” Jenna let her mother enfold her in a bone-crushing hug, and they hopped up and down together in the middle of the living room.

Again, most of the bullets were addressed in this example. Notice the news that Jenna got into Yale didn’t come at a time when Jenna’s mother was ready for it. Rather, when she was busy washing the dishes. Also take note of the double “breaking news” aspect of this example: Jenna received news from a letter, then told that news to her mother. In the latter instance, Jenna knew the news to be good, but there was no way for Jenna’s mother to know that. Make sure you identify each time that news is broken to a character and treat each individually.

Let’s look at one last general example:

Bridget rested her head against Jerry’s chest, relishing in the rhythmic thump-thump, thump-thump of his heartbeat. She sighed, thinking of all the time they’d spent together, all the precious moments they’d shared, and all she felt during those times.

“Jerry,” she said softly, “I think I love you.”

There was a slight pause as she heard the tempo of his heartbeat change. Finally, he said, “Oi think Oi love ya, too.”

She grinned and relaxed into him again, trying to ingrain every detail of that moment into her memory: the feeling of his voice vibrating through his chest when he spoke, the warmth of him, his fingers playing lightly through her hair.

The two lay together in perfect silence for the rest of the night. There was nothing more to be said.

This is an instance of big news broken comfortably and with a certain measure of confidence. Bridget is not concerned that Jeremy will reject her declaration of love. Because Bridget’s demeanor is pretty relaxed, we readers will likely be pretty relaxed as well.

There is one more thing to discuss in “breaking the news” in writing: the difference between big news and little news. The deliveries and responses to each of these are very different and must be written accordingly. Let’s look at little news first:

Jared grinned to himself at his excitement as he went to find his mom. “Mom!” he said, walking up to the counter where she was cutting up vegetables. “Mom, Mom!”

“What is it, dear?” his mother asked, glancing down at him, kitchen knife poised over a row of carrots.

“Mom, I have a few friends coming to dinner tonight!”

“How many?” she asked suspiciously.

“Ten!” he announced, splaying his ten fingers in the air over his head. His mother set down her knife and turned to glare at him through the space between his hands.

“Ten? I am making dinner for five!”

Jared frowned. “Well, I…” he trailed off, and his arms drooped back to his sides.

“Jared, you expect me to make dinner for ten more people? Without even bothering to ask me first?” His mother stared down at his dejected little face and sighed. “Alright,” she said, “alright. But don’t you ever do anything like this again!”

Jared’s mother’s response wasn’t very extreme because this was a little surprise. She did little more than let her son know that he’d done something wrong.

Now let’s look at an example of big news:

Peels of laughter echoed through the clock tower as the Joker ducked another crushing blow and danced out of reach. “You’ll never guess the surprise I have for you!” he crowed, but Batman just gritted his teeth, refusing to be distracted.

Another flurry of punches and kicks and the dramatic swish of a cape later, the Joker giggles had become wheezy gasps. He held up a finger, his hand on his knee.

Batman smiled. “I could do this all night,” he said, and the Joker’s expression hardened into something much more sinister.

The Joker stood upright and took a deep breath. “Well,” he said, “before we get goin’ here again, I think you oughta know that your little birdie is dead!”

Batman froze. “What?”

“Dead. Your plucky sidekick. You know” —the Joker flapped his arms like wings then clapped his hands together— “kursplat!”

His mind refused to let him believe it. No. Robin could not be dead. It didn’t matter what the Joker said. He was lying. It was a lie.

The Joker seemed to sense Batman’s doubts. “See for yourself!” He pointed at the glass interior of the clock face. “Look all the way down.”

The fight and his nemesis forgotten, Batman started forward to the clock face slowly, as if wading through quicksand. Not Robin. Not Robin.

Even as he approached the glass, his sensors picked up the sound of shouts and sirens far below.

In this example of big news, note the feeling of disbelief, the character’s disregard of prior actions, the numbness exhibited by shortened sentences and more tactile description. Sad or otherwise negative big news, when delivered abruptly, will shake the characters. Be sure to give the characters time to shoulder the weight of that kind of news.

Other examples of breaking the news:

  • An officer calling on a young wife to tell her that her husband has been killed in combat.
  • A doctor telling his patient that she has terminal cancer. Alternatively, a doctor telling his patient that she is now cancer-free.
  • A guy telling his roommate that he’s accidentally broken his television.
  • A young couple telling their parents over dinner that they have eloped.
  • A woman telling her friends how she really got that black eye (her boyfriend).
  • A teenager coming out to his or her parents.
  • A man telling his wife that he’s been cheating on her.
  • A woman unexpectedly telling her husband that she wants a divorce.
  • A landlord telling a tenant that his apartment has burning down while he was at work.
  • A daughter telling her mother that she has just gotten engaged.
  • A boss notifying an employee of a promotion.
  • A father telling his daughter that the family pet has been run over by a car.

Remember, regardless of the degree to which the news is good or bad, and regardless of how big or little the news may be, breaking the news can be difficult to pull off. However, when you’ve been mindful of the advice listed above and (more importantly) been true to your plot, characters, and personal style, the scene will probably be one of the more memorable parts of your story.

Thank you so much for your question! If anyone has any questions or concerns about this article, feel free to hit up our ask box!

~Laitie and C

Let’s Change Things Up!

Published October 14, 2012 by Laitie

One problem I’m often faced with when writing is scene transitions. How does a writer go from one necessary scene to another? What if there’s years between the two scenes? Well, a little research uncovered the answer for me.

There are many articles out there about transitioning, and here is another one. First, let’s look at what a transition is:

A transition in a story is the change of a scene. This includes a change in POV (point of view) character, and so the narration (x). Here’s an example:

David couldn’t wait for the party tomorrow. He had everything planned to the T.

Cheri grinned as she made her way to David’s. She was ready to ruin everything he had planned.

See how we changed from David’s POV about the upcoming party tomorrow to Cheri’s POV the day of the party. This is a transition.

Now let’s get into the reasons why we use transitions:

  • Keeping to what’s important. I don’t remember the author, but I remember the gist of the quote. “Every word must be for either character development or plot advancement.” It’s important for each word to be a conscious choice made by you, the writer, to develop a character or advance the plot. So where do transitions come in? Well, certainly not every moment of a character’s life is worth reporting. Not every second is vital to character development and/or plot advancement. So we need to make transitions between all the important scenes
  • It’s not recommended to account for each and every second of a character’s life. Not only would that make for a very long story, but it would also bore readers to death (x).
  • Don’t confuse the reader. Going from scene to scene without any transition will only confuse readers, and they will quickly lose interest in your story (x).

So, transitions are really important. We got that, Lacey. What are some ways we can write transitions? Well, lovely reader, there are two parts to that. The types that there are and when/where to place them.

The types:

  • Short sentence. Transitions can be as simple as a short sentence. It can be as easy as, “A few years later…” Although I do not recommend this kind of transition, it is very possible. I do not recommend it because I feel it is still too short and will still jar the reader unless done extremely well.
  • A longer or a couple sentences. These are also simple. As simple as,

Amber tried to call him, but he never answered the phone. Eventually, she just gave up.

Jason had heard the phone ring, but he knew who was calling. He didn’t want to talk to her.

Notice how just four sentences seamlessly showed the reader the change in the POV character.

  • A paragraph. I would not recommend going past a single paragraph. The paragraph would be used to describe the setting and what the character is doing. Look at the following example to see better how it is used:

The backyard was covered in white and pink rose petals, the white fold-up chairs lined up in rows in front of the flowery arch. Thomas was busying himself with stringing the trees with white ribbons. It was almost ready for the wedding.

See how the paragraph describes both the setting (the decorations, the day of the wedding) and what the character is doing (stringing ribbon on the trees).

When/Where to put them:

  • In the middle of a paragraph. I do not recommend putting one in the middle of a paragraph, but many of the professionals I have been reading do not seem to have issue with it. See “further reading” to learn how to do this.
  • In a new paragraph. It is very personal the way you judge whether to line break (see below) or simply do a new paragraph. Do you feel the reader needs a break before continuing the new scene? Is there too big a difference between the scenes? Here’s an example of how to do this.

She was hustled into the nursery. It was only then that she began to cry.

It took her a year to stop crying. Two years to stop caring. The rest of her childhood was wasted away in a pit of indifference.

Here, I made the artistic choice for the two paragraphs to be connected, without a line break. If I had done a line break, the feeling evoked by the reader would be slightly different, and not the one I wanted.

  • With a line break. Again, it is very personal the way you judge whether to line break or do a new paragraph. I judge by figuring out if the reader needs a “break” from the text to emphasize the point that the scene has changed. Here’s an example:

Little Jessica fell asleep feeling very certain of what “soon” meant.

~oOoOoOo~

Jessica awoke to the sounds of the birds singing. She looked down at her sweet little daughter, curled up beside her.

See how at first, Jessica is a little girl, but after the line break, she is a grown woman with a child. So much time has passed that I felt the reader needed a break from the text to emphasize the amount of time gone.

  • Chapters. The easiest way to transition is through changes in chapters. They are slightly similar to line breaks, however, once a new chapter approaches, the reader expects a scene change. Let’s look at how I do a change in chapters:

Finally, I laid down and fell asleep, my dreams full of everything that could possibly go wrong tomorrow.

Chapter Two

BZZT!

BZZT BZZT!

I groaned and rolled over, grabbing the phone under my pillow and pushing the button to shut it up.

See how I seamlessly tied the evening and morning together with a whole new chapter. This allowed the reader a break to recognize the long night without being bored or uninterested.

Transitions are vital in writing. Without them, your story will either be very boring or very confusing. There are many different types of and ways to use transitions. From simple sentences to paragraphs, within paragraphs to changes in chapters. Now I know how to write a transition in my story, and I hope you do, too! Remember, practice makes perfect!
Further Reading:

How to Write Scene Transitions in Novels

All Write: Transitions

Building Coherent Scene Transitions

The Witch of Davis Manor: Prologue

Published October 10, 2012 by Laitie

Dare you pick up this book? Dare you flip through its pages, trying to deem it worthy of your interest or not? I would warn you against it. Within these pages lie the tale of The Witch of Davis Manor. It is not a tale of joy and gaiety. It has no “happily ever after.” No, it is an evil tale of misery and woe.

This is a cursed book. Once you read the first word, you will be cursed by the Witch herself. You must read it all the way through. Pass your judgment. If you do otherwise, the consequences will be dire. I have warned you. Do as you will.

Loved That Guy

Published October 8, 2012 by Laitie

Thump-thump
thump-thump
Right here
Feel it
Thump-thump
thump-thump
Feel it?
That’s her heartbeat
Thump-thump
thump-thump
He looks away
Stands up
Thump-thump
thump-thump
I don’t feel
Anything
Thump-thump
thump-thump
Don’t worry, baby girl
He will
Thump-thump
thump-thump

~oOoOoOo~

My guy
He loves me
I know he does
He may look away
from me
He may struggle
to show his love.
But he loves me

He’ll love the baby
I know he will
He just
needs to see her.
He’ll love her
And we’ll be

The perfect family

~oOoOoOo~

Last night
I heard a noise
in the living room
Last night
I stood up
and went in there
Last night
I saw him
on the couch

Last night
He was there
with another woman
Last night
I screamed
I yelled
Last night
I threw her out
Locked the door

He said nothing
I said nothing

We went to bed
breathing in the silence

Last night

He said nothing

I said nothing

~oOoOoOo~

Just left a note
to say

I love you

So much

~oOoOoOo~

My little girl
Is not my little girl

No, my little girl

Is my little guy.

My son is beautiful
My son is wonderful.

I love the way
he giggles
when I tickle his feet.
I love sound
of his breathing
when he sleeps.
I love how he
sighs
when the sun touches his skin.

My guy
loves our little guy.
He just
struggles to show it.
He loves him.

I  know he does.

~oOoOoOo~

Today
was wonderful

Today
was amazing

Today,
my guy
was so happy

Today,
he took me and our little guy
in his arms.
He hugged us close,
took us outside.

We danced
in the sun.
We danced,
until the rain chased us inside.

He played with our son
as I made lunch.

We had a picnic in the living room,
and laid down together.
We whispered promises to each other.

And after dinner,
he sent his friends away.
Said he needed to spend time
with his family.

Today was wonderful.

~oOoOoOo~

I miss him
when he goes away.

My little guy
misses him
when he goes away.

He goes for days.
Sometimes weeks.
And we sit and wait.
When he goes away.

~oOoOoOo~

I needed to get out.
I needed some air.
I left my mother
with the baby.

I was at the store
when I felt it.
When I knew.

I ran out of the store.
Ran down the block.
I saw my guy
In the middle of a crowd.

There was blood spilling out of his mouth
A gun in his hand.
I screamed.
I ran for home.

I burst through the door.
Ran past my mother
asleep on the floor.

I threw open the door,
saw my little guy.
There, in his crib.
Blood coming from his mouth.

~oOoOoOo~

Never again
will my little guy giggle
when I tickle his feet

Never again
will his breaths soothe my ears
when he sleeps.

Never again
will he sigh
when the sun touches his skin.

Never again
will my guy love me.

Never again
will my guy dance with me.

Never again
will we whisper promises to each other.

My guy.
My little guy.

I loved that guy.

Well, I Started Something

Published October 8, 2012 by Laitie

Man is the foulest creature on this Earth. With his long legs and sweaty skin. His foul feet and beastly beard. It is Mermaid’s job to dispose of any and all that invade our waters. But of his “Woman”? We know little. Merely enough to seduce Man to his doom. We’ve no opinion on Woman. What, then, would Mother say if she heard I fell in love with one?

It wasn’t long ago I met her, alone on the rocks. I approached cautiously, unsure of what to do with this Woman. She saw me and gasped. I swam away.

The next day, she was there again. This time, with a strange little box. I had to know what it was, so I came close. Closer. Closer. I was on the rock beside her. She smelled funny, and I leaned close to sniff her hair. She turned towards me suddenly, surprised by my silent approach. She lost her balance for half a second and our lips met. I gasped. She gasped, I jumped in the water and swam off.

She was missing the next day.

And the next.

It was a week before she returned with the little box. It flashed when she held it up to her face and her finger pressed the top of it. Like she had a little piece of the sun inside it and she let it show for an instant whenever she wanted.

I approached slowly, the feeling of her lips on mine still lingering on my mind. She grinned when she spotted me, then brought the box to her face again. There was the flash of sun, and I was blinded.

But only for a minute. I came closer.

“What is that?” I asked, climbing on the rock.

“A camera,” she replied. “It takes pictures.” Camera! Mother had warned us about those! My eyes widened and I started backing away. “Please don’t go!” she said desperately. “I won’t take another picture! Promise! What’s your name?”

“Name?” I asked. “I’ve no name Man can speak.”

“No? Hm. How about Marina, then?” I shrugged.

“Your name?”

“Estelle.”

I Met Robin

Published October 8, 2012 by Laitie

Tell me what you think. Tim’s gonna get more involved later. I’m just eager to know if I’m doing any good at this fic or not.

Rajah,

Yes, you are named Rajah. And my name is Anupamma. But you can just call me Anu. I’m fourteen years old, and you aren’t going to believe what I’m about to tell you. I met Robin today. -The- Robin. The one that works with Batman? Yeah, him.

See, I’m the leader of a small gang called The Cobras. I’m the Begum Sahib. And I had decided we needed some money. So we were raiding a department store late last night when, you guessed it, Batman and Robin caught us.

“Aren’t you a little young to be the leader of a gang?” he asked.

“Aren’t you a little young to be fighting crime?” I shot back. Then I aimed a fist at his head. He dodged it, but I dodged his aimed at my gut. His foot caught my leg, and I fell. But I was faster than he expected, and I swung over and tripped him before jumping back up. He rolled away when I aimed a kick at his side, and he jumped up, too. But that gave me a second to glance around at the others. They were having an impossible time trying to get through Batman to help me. It was then I knew we were no match. I called a retreat, and turned to run. Robin almost choked me as he grabbed my hood. Luckily, it didn’t pull off that easily. I turned and swiped at him, hitting him square in the cheek. I bolted, watching to see the others running, too. We all disappeared into the darkness, which hid us well because of our dark clothes.

I met Robin. The Robin. And…boy, was he hot.

Rajah,

I expect you wanna know a bit more about me. I’m Anupamma Fernandes. I already told you I’m fourteen. I have long, curly black hair and skin the color of a rich bar of milk chocolate. My eyes are a dark, creamy brown.

But what I can’t wait to tell you about is my costume. Y’know, for raiding. It’s a black top and pants, with black shoes and gloves. The pants gather at the ankles, and my shirt gathers at the waist and wrists, so there’s no loose fabric to get in my way. I have this black mask that covers my nose, around my eyes, and my whole forehead. And on to the mask, I hook my hood. It’s so big that it catches the wind easily, making it look like the hood of a cobra.

Jessie, one of the Cobra’s, made the costumes for us. She’s a genius with a sewing machine. Her quick, careful fingers are also perfect for snatching the little jewels as she walks by.

Well, it’s getting late. I have to feed Jahanara, my snake. No, she’s not a cobra. Just your average pet snake. I haven’t feed her in a week! I’ll write later. Hopefully I’ll have met Robin again. Eee!