Forbidden Beauty [flash fic]

Hey there you wonderful people!

So my housemate and I had another short story competition, as outlined in my previous post about Vocal.

Now I don’t want to insist you read my work on some other site, so you can read it below if you want! This is how this one’s going down:

If you want to support me by reading the piece on Vocal, just click here. You’ll earn me like $0.003 and I’ll be super grateful. My housemate’s piece, for comparison, is on Vocal too.

[fun aside: Vocal has a ton of different categories, and you have to pick one for each piece, and they all come with a range of preset tags, so I can’t be my usual inventive tagging self. This one’s in the ‘Criminal’ category and tagged ‘fiction’, ‘guilty’, and ‘mafia’.]

If you’d rather read it here, just read on! No hard feelings. The piece is in full below, with the prompts used, and some chat, at the end. Enjoy!

Forbidden Beauty

I’ll tell you how I died, and you can tell me why. The cause was simple enough: a fall from as great a height as the 13-story Lindenberg Building will wreak havoc with anyone’s structural integrity.

Excuse the jargon—even in death I’m a typical engineer. So how I got mixed up in all this is beyond me.

It started when I met Grace, the born-again Christian evangelist, behind the scenes on her show. I was there advising the production company on the new stage they were building specifically for Grace’s energetic and dramatic performances. She used ‘the power of God’ to heal the sick and crippled live on prime-time TV, and to bring in millions of dollars in pledges, naturally.

Of course, Grace was as beautiful and charming as you’d expect, but she was a celebrity, you know? At first, I thought nothing of my crush. But as the weeks past, and we saw each other more and more, I started to get the impression Grace felt the same way.

One day, I let my touch linger on her arm a moment too long. She turned, looked me square in the eyes, and mouthed, “Patience.” I didn’t need to wait long. The next day, she invited me for a drink after work in a discreet bar downtown. From there, a chauffeur took us back to her place. The night was a first for me, but not for Grace, I learned.

All of this did not sit well with the man about town: Jack “White Baby” Lindenberg, head of the Faith Network Guild. It was his money, or his family’s, that ultimately funded Grace’s show, and that was no coincidence. He’d apparently had his eye on her from the start, and well before I arrived on the scene. I was told by reliable witnesses she had not reciprocated. It was one of those reliable witnesses, I’ve no doubt, who also took news of my blossoming romance with Grace back to Jack.

Someone had seen us backstage, snatching a kiss between shoots. We heard them scuttle off, but didn’t see who. We laughed it off.

A day later I found myself invited up to Jack’s penthouse apartment atop the Lindenberg Building where the studio was housed. After a few drinks from his extensive collection, Jack invited me out to the roof to ‘admire the view’.

“Sure is a beautiful sight,” he mused as we looked out over the city. “I love beauty, you know? I’ll do anything to keep hold of it.”

The statement sounded odd, and I turned and searched Jack’s face with my eyes. I knew he didn’t like people looking at him, given the skin disfigurement that earned him his nickname—a curiosity in a noble black family. But I figured I was in too deep anyway.

There was cold resolve in those eyes. A bodyguard stepped from the shadows.

“I’m sorry, Angie,” he said to me as the hulking great man approached. “But I can’t let you take her.”

[502 words]

[prompts: “It’s a boy!”; from a great height; Grace, the born-again Christian; Jack “White Baby” Lindenberg, head of the [] guild]

[Once again, this is the result of a bit of friendly competition between me, my housemate, and our latest competitor, his girlfriend. Find the full explanation with the first piece I wrote, Division. We added a few new prompts to the disc, drew four again, and gave ourselves around 15 minutes—the buzzer this time was when a friend we were expecting rang the doorbell. The eagle-eyed among you will notice I missed a prompt! So I may or may not be DQ’d. Still, hope you enjoyed it!]

[I won’t be putting my housemate’s entry on here, because it’s his, so I’ll just give you the Vocal link. Of course, reading his and not mine on Vocal puts him ahead in our competition, so if you read his, please at least click through to mine here :)]

Finding my dream writing job on Upwork

Upwork – My Latest Venture

Evening folks! I’m excited to tell you about a step I’ve taken towards the dream of actually legitimately being a real-life paid-up writer person: I’ve signed up as a freelancer.

It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out for me, and hopefully I’ll be able to share some tips and pitfalls along the way that might help anyone else out there wanting to do something similar. So a quick breakdown:

I want to be a writer. I’m currently an engineer. It pays well, it can be pretty interesting, but it is not what I love. I love writing. I’ve been looking at writing jobs and, unsurprisingly, employers want professional experience, so I’m going to get some.

Upwork is a site that connects freelancers to projects all over the world. There are fields for programming and web design and blah blah but more importantly writing! From editing and technical copy to poetry and blogging, there are people everywhere who are willing to pay me to write. Oh my.

Signup is simple, and free, and pretty quick. I set up my profile – picture, short bio, list of skills – last night and have started looking at jobs today. When you find something interesting, you message the project/owner/employer/tasker and if they like you, you get the job! You agree a rate, do the work, get paid. Apparently.

So what have I done so far?
Wrote a bio.
Added my skills  – for me that means fiction, blog writing, poetry, editing etc
Chose a nice cheerful photo.
Added some work details (about my irrelevant engineering job, and how that has helped me communicate with barely-literate, scientifically-minded people) and about the student magazine I edited at uni. Gotta start somewhere!
Set my hourly rate
^^ What?? This really threw me – I’d just signed up and was expected to state how much my time was worth. I had no idea and agonised for a while, but in the end just went cheap (I’m not doing it for the money after all) for now and for each job you agree on a rate anyway.
Took a creative writing test! Upwork has a ton of tests to cover all the skills you can list on the site. The prospect terrified me a bit but it looks good to verify your skills so I went for it. This test was 40 questions, multiple choice, about publishing, plot, characters etc. I did pretty well thankfully (in the top 10%) so that will look good.

and lastly…

Applied for some jobs! Within a few hours of joining the site I was invited to apply for a job writing short stories about green tea and Korea… neither are areas I know much about, but I explained that in my application (why not, hey?) as well as my passion for writing, my low rates and my willingness to research green tea and Korea and make a decent hash of it! We’ll see where that goes. I’ve applied to three others as well (applying costs credits called Connects of which you have a limited number each month) to which I wasn’t invited (being invited means a free application!) which are proofreading, a rewriting of a novel into natural English (from a non-native author) and short story writing for an online magazine startup. Not heard back yet, but I’ll be sure to check in here when I do, and I’d love to hear from any of you who have tried similar endeavours!