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Review My Work / Azhar: Chapter 1 (Feedback would be appreciated)
« Last post by Kaira_Khadime on July 05, 2020, 10:33:35 AM »
This is the first chapter of a historical fiction novel I'm working on.
It's actually my first attempt at a novel.
I'd appreciate some feedback on it.
It's 1013 words long.
It's set in medieval Africa and is based on Azhar, an agnostic woman, who struggles to come to terms with a destiny laid out for her by the Ancestors, who are the deities in this setting.


Chapter One:
Tuzvo was alight with chatter. Bottle-cap anklets jingled as the older women danced in a circle, their steps slow. Sisal skirts swayed as they swung their hips to the steady beat of drums.
In the humid air of the courtyard, she caught the aroma of plantains, cassava and spinach stew. She heaved an inward sigh, missing her father’s ambrosial roasted beef.
“Did you hear what happened to Ada?”
Azhar blinked out of her stupor. The beer maker had been rather generous with the sorghum he’d added to the brew.
“What?”
“Are the rumours true? About Ada?”
“Which one?” she asked. “There are five of them in the chief’s homestead alone.”
“The basket weaver,” Shani, her co-wife, replied. “The Holy One fed poison to her husband’s cockerel, and it died. A sure sign she’s a witch.”
“She’s earned many heads of cattle from her trade. Why practise witchcraft?”
Shani shrugged. “What will they do to her?”
“Sentence her to death without a trial, no doubt. Where they suspect sorcery, the council is unforgiving.”
A horn sounded, breaking into the evening’s merriment. The chief had arrived. Villagers shuffled as they stood in single files: men on the right, women and children on the left. Chaka strode in, followed by his wives. He was remarkably spry for his age, and on his bald head sat a headdress of porcupine quills.
He put his hand up, imposing silence.
“People of Tuzvo,” he said, “the Ancestors are pleased with us. They have accepted our sacrifice and so, we can enjoy yet another season of peace. Tonight, we celebrate. Let the feast begin!”
Once he’d taken his seat, everyone else did, and the festivities resumed. Azhar served her food and settled beside Shani. Her eyes darted across the room, searching for their husband. Where was he?
“Walk with me, my dear,” Khari whispered in her ear, leaning over her shoulder. He held his hand out, inviting her to join him. She took it, and they walked arm-in-arm into the garden.
She breathed in the fresh wind that blew around them as they strolled. Above them shone the stars.
“What a pleasant evening!” He remarked, after a brief silence.
She snorted. “It sure is.”
He tittered nervously, scratching the back of his neck.
“Sorry for interrupting your meal.”
“I don’t consider this a feast anyway. There’s no meat.”
“You know it’s taboo.”
Oh, she did. She had been unaware of that rule when she first arrived in Tuzvo. She’d stood trial before the council and paid two goats as fine and offered libations for an entire moon cycle.
“What of the ox slaughtered for the ritual?”
“Burnt as a sacrifice.”
“That’s a waste. We could have eaten it.”
He hummed noncommittally. An uncomfortable silence followed before Khari took out a garland of agapanthus lilies.
“Forgive me. I meant to adorn you with this before the feast. I didn’t get to finish it in time.”
“Thank you. It’s lovely.”
“May I?”
She nodded, and he set it atop her frizzy ebony curls, the violet of the flowers contrasting her dark skin. He leaned back, his keen eyes observing his handiwork. Azhar felt a smile on her lips.
The sound of a leaf crunching broke the moment. Khari clenched his fists as he stood to look behind the bush.
“What is it?”
“I don’t know.” His stern voice dismissed her. “I should go back and keep Shani company.”
She nodded, an insincere smile on her face as he disappeared through the trees.
Later that night, Azhar was resting in her hut, having left the feast early when the Shaman and his guards stormed in.
“What now?”
“Orders from above to search your hut,” he answered, his lips curled into a sinister smile.
“On what grounds?”
“Witchcraft.”
She scoffed at that. That was the work of Ada’s blathering, she was sure. Or Shani’s, perhaps. The two women were incurable gossips. She sighed, resigned to her fate and permitted the guards to ransack her property.
One of them grabbed an unmarked vial, tossing it clumsily to the other.
“Careful with that!” she warned.
“Yes. Be careful,” mocked the Shaman. “It could have evidence of her sorcery.”
She gritted her teeth. “It has powdered lemongrass which is very rare to find.”
The door creaked as Khari walked in.
“Azhar?” He asked, his eyebrows raised.
“General, didn’t you hear? I’m a witch now. They’re searching for my pointed hat.”
His eyes narrowed.
“Leave! Now!” He ordered.
“General­-”
“I will not repeat myself.”
The Shaman stomped his foot in indignance then stormed off, the guards at his heel.
Once they were out of earshot, Khari said,
“I need you to be on your guard.”
She cocked an eyebrow.
“They only speak of this in hushed tones,” he continued. “There’s been talk of a diviner from Amerubh. He foretold of a High Priestess, a child of Isaura, who would unite the nations of the Realm and rule over them.”
“Did the mice tell him that?” She snorted, then pursed her lips when his eyes narrowed. “I apologise. Go on.”
“Isaura was a powerful tribe. Her children had special gifts.”
“What happened to them?”
“Chaka had them massacred on the grounds of witchcraft.”
“A bit extreme, isn’t it?”
“There are few known survivors born of Isaura. Ramla of Amerubh, of course, is one of them. The Holy One suspects you are too. As such, he’ll be watching you.”
“Am I to fear the sorcerer now?”
“No, but they say your remedies are… unusual.”
She wrinkled her nose.
“All I ask,” he said, intertwining their fingers, “is for you to be careful, dear. They’ll burn you alive if they even think you’re a witch.”
“I agree my methods are different, but I’m a healer. That’s all I am.”
Flashing her a soft smile, he bade her goodbye, impressing on her forehead a gentle kiss. The shed’s rickety door creaked as he shut it behind him.
She took out the crumpled parchment she had hidden in her bosom. On the white sheet, in crabbed penmanship, read:
To Azhar, Daughter of Isaura.
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Review My Work / Phantoms
« Last post by Cliff Sombito on July 05, 2020, 12:46:21 AM »
Hi there I'm new here, I have written a short story and its genre is kafkaesque. And all critique is welcome, and thank you in advance. Here it goes:


After I came home from work, fear had set in like a shadow creeping from a leafless tree with its claw-like branches, and it was slowly clutching at my heart which began pounding fast. No one could fathom the despair I felt that day. I was heavy and delirious as though something perched on my shoulder and was pushing me down into the ground.

The reason was, as I laid on the bed with eyes wide open, around ten o'clock, facing the ceiling and looking through the blur of the revolving ceiling fan, I was visited by phantoms again. And even though I can't see them, I know that they are with me because I can hear their whispers. I don't know how they came to be and why are they following me, but one thing I know for sure is that they're here to torment me.

Whenever I hear them I hear something familiar as if they had taken in the voices of my old friends from when I was still in the academy. Their voices varied from a reproaching tone of voice of a young man to a supercilious and spiteful voice of a young lady, and the crying voice of a woman seeking love and attention.

At the beginning, these phantoms made a fool of me, played a prank on me every day and I was out of my mind, spooked and horrified. There was one instance when I was doing the laundry and I accidentally poured the detergent into the ground, oh how they laughed at me and they would comment:

"Look at him, what an idiot! Ha ha ha," said the voice of a young lady.

"What did he do? He's supposed to put the detergent into the basin," said the voice of a young man.

"As though he wasn't conscious of what he was doing ha ha ha."

"A simple task and he can't do it. . . . Is he stupid or what? I never thought that he's such a clumsy feminine person. How hysterical, look he's about to cry."

After hearing it all, I flushed crimson and a tear fell from my eye. All I thought of that time was to run away into my room and coil in the corner, hiding my face away from them who have insulted me.

But even as I locked myself in my room their voices would follow me there, and then I would hear a woman crying just outside my room and she was saying that she loved me very much, loved me more than anything in this world, and that she couldn't live with herself if she was to lose me.

I checked  if I have someone like that, but I couldn't think of a person who I knew that had fallen madly in love with me. Of course I knew it all that I am him that she was speaking of, though I pretended to not hear her pleading and stopped myself from opening the door of my room from fear of confronting her. I will only open the door soon afterwards when she has stopped crying. And when I opened the door I would see for myself that there was nobody there.

If I was not thinking clearly I would surely have fallen into their trap, and I would be irritable as hell, and shout curses, getting angry at nothing and would have punched a wall till my fist ached. But I was grateful that I was calmer than most people and that I have seen through their playful tricks.

Anyway, I lived with these phantoms and there's no telling when will they pop up and start their whispers. But they appeared again that day, or should I say I felt their presence. And they soon started whispering to each other what happened to me during the day.

What happened to me that day was that it all started at the office. I was working there as a call center agent, having a shift which started from one o'clock in the night till nine o'clock in the morning. At some point in my career I was vigilant in my work, but nowadays receiving a call somehow made me sick, and my ears became tired of listening to the endless chatter coming from the phone.

But of course, it's quite different when I hear the phantoms, their words are somehow deeper and profound than the rant of my customers. They even have suggested to me to put a stop to this dull and monotonous work of mine, and leave it all to stupid people (they meant my coworkers) whom can only be pleased by money. They would strongly argue that spending my life working as a call center agent was no better than being a slave, and that I completely agreed with them.

That day I had enough of their whispers, had enough of everything, so I followed their advice. Near at the end of my shift while I was on the phone, listening to the costumer talk seemed to me as if it have fried my brains and smoke was now coming out of my ear, so I slammed the phone real hard that it made a startling noise which made my coworkers jump from where they were.

I stood and shoved the stack of papers on my desk into the floor and made a mess in my cubicle. People around me were terrified and their eyes followed me as I made a hasty exit from the room to the elevator. And I went to the manager's office.

The manager was a short lady about forty-three years old. Her black hair was short and was trimmed around her neck. Her eyes were a squint beneath her glasses. She was in a formal business attire, wearing a dark green skirt and a cotton jacket over a blouse. I found her blowing a cup of hot coffee in her hand when I came into her office, and she lifted her eyes towards the door at once upon my entrance.

"I quit!" I blurted out suddenly.

When she heard it while sipping her hot coffee she was so surprised that she might have burnt her tongue as she had made a painful expression on her face.

"What? You're quitting?" She said.

"Yes, I quit."

"Why? Why are you quitting now all of the sudden? You are Rey, right?"

"Yes, my name is Rey. And I am quitting because I am sick of all this crap. I'm going now, this instance."

"Wait, hold on. Isn't it a very vague excuse? Maybe you are going through something right now. Is it a family problem, emotional, financial, or are you having problems here at work?"

"My only problem is that if I continue to work here I would be losing myself. Because this, this is not me."

"You know you are one of our top employees, and you are bound to be promoted next month. Don't you see what you're losing here. All of your hard work will go to waste if you quit now."

"I don't give a damn," I said turning towards the door.

"I thought you were one of those persons who can withstand a storm, but I was wrong. I guess you're a bona fide weakling," someone whispered in my ear.

"What did you say?" I asked angrily.

"I said if you quit you have to follow a procedure. You can't just quit suddenly from your work without a replacement, can you?"

"Yes, I can," I said as I walked out of her office.

"Wait, wait!" she shouted behind me but I ignored her.

When I got into the elevator I laughed real hard, I suspect that what I heard earlier during my conversation with the manager was one of the phantoms. They want to play with me since I have broken free from the shackles of the corporation, and they are poking at me to see if I'm responsive now that I have a lot of time in my hands. But I won't play with them just yet, I have to go home first.

Without looking back I exited the building, but soon as I was outside then the skies began to grow darker and darker. I didn't expect it to rain so I ran to the shed beside the street. And it started pouring down and the gust of wind that blew was strong and cold.

I was all alone in that shed and as I glanced at the blackened sky, the rain, and at the cars that were passing through the street, I thought of the old days when I had a lot of friends. But I had just realized that people came and went just like these cars that passed me by, all was just temporary and nothing was permanent.

And now these phantoms kept haunting me through the voices of my old friends as if they died and cannot rest unless I atone for my sins against them. I don't even know what my sins were and I'm not aware that I have sinned for if I was I would have kept track of it. When I got home they started whispering again and I couldn't sleep anymore.

"Did you see what he did at his workplace?" Said a soft female voice.

"Yeah I did, he quit and walked out like he totally owned the place. But deep down inside he was just another loser," said the gruff male voice.

"He he he, yeah he thinks his awesome back there when he blurted out those two words: 'I quit.' but you know what he probably quitted because he's gay, and all gay men are fragile little flowers."

A group of voices laughed together.

And I mumbled to myself, "I only did what I did back there because you told me so, I just followed your advice. Isn't it unfair that you kept abusing me with your words?"

"Why, do you need a pat on the head or something, that you were a good boy for obeying us? you deserve nothing of that kind. You're just a little piece of shit smeared on the wall by a stupid pig," said a harsh voice.

And there was laughter again.

"Shut up, shut up, shut up! What should I do to make you stop, you damn voices in my head," I cried.

"How about you kill yourself, besides you're already useless and no one needs you now because you have no family and friends. And when you're dead you'll have peace and no more pain. . . . So don't you see, dying is better than living," said the voice of a young lady.

"Is there no other way?"

"Yes, it's the only way to make my friends stop their mouths from talking ill about you. Oh by the way, a rope will do the trick."

"It's painful but sensible enough."

I followed her advice and decided to end it all. Then I scoured my apartment for a rope and I found it under the bed. I made a noose and tied the other end of the rope from the ceiling fan. All was ready and all that was left for me to do was to end my life. It was a short life and it was full of pain and agony, so it was better to end it now while I have the chance. So I stuck my head in the noose and tightened it around my neck. But as I felt the moment as my last, there was silence that I've never heard before.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I regret to announce that this is the end. The final episode of my miserable lonely life. . . . So goodbye," I said aloud.

Then I kicked the chair that was my only foothold and I choked. Before I died, I heard no more whispers and no one ever laughed at me again.

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Review My Work / Re: Salem, Ch. 1 and 2
« Last post by Kaira_Khadime on July 04, 2020, 01:06:12 PM »
Hi.
Your first paragraph is actually quite captivating and suspenseful.
I felt there was a disconnect between the first and second chapters, however. Perhaps because they were in different POVs. I'd recommend you stick to one.
I also think there's a lot of narration, in terms of telling, particularly in the second chapter. I had to re-read because it lost my attention for a bit.
I do look forward to reading more of this.
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Hi.
I'd be interested in beta reading for you.

Kaira.
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Welcome Board - START HERE! / Hello
« Last post by Cliff Sombito on July 04, 2020, 05:37:46 AM »
hello, I'm new here... and I'm still struggling on what to do... took me 30 minutes to find out how to post.

Anyway I'm glad I came here, maybe I can learn a lot from here...
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Welcome Board - START HERE! / Re: Hello!
« Last post by Olesia on July 03, 2020, 09:32:14 AM »
Hi Kaira,

Welcome to the world of self-publishing!

You'll find that there are plenty of members here to help you with your writing journey ;)

Looking forward to seeing your contribution to the community!
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Writers Wanted! / Re: Student Essay Writing
« Last post by PIJ1951 on July 03, 2020, 05:10:08 AM »
If anyone needs to buy an essay to complete their studies, they do not deserve to graduate. Copying someone else's work is cheating. Shame on anyone who advertises this service and thinks it's acceptable behaviour.
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Writers Wanted! / Re: Student Essay Writing
« Last post by prtmike on July 02, 2020, 05:31:52 PM »
I have one more writing service - for those who work on essay for nursing school. Mike Nursing Essay writing service offers an excellent assistance with essays. Moreover, there is a 24/7 customers' support where you can ask any question you need. There are also useful advices which will help you in writing.
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Welcome Board - START HERE! / Hello!
« Last post by Rel JV Ander on July 02, 2020, 01:01:18 PM »
New to the group and new to the publishing world!  I mainly write in fantasy and sci-fi but I dabble in Philosophy, as well.  I'm excited to be part of the group and see what I can learn!
Nice to meet ya'll
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Review My Work / Re: Uninhibited Critique for 215-word PB
« Last post by Olesia on July 02, 2020, 05:11:56 AM »
Hey angelaxhakolli@gmail.com,

Welcome to My Writers Circle, we appreciate you sharing some of your work with us!

Share a bit about yourself under "Welcome Board" topic so we can get to know you better. What are your interests and what do you expect to learn from the community?

The forum is give and take and the more you review and critiques others writings the more feedback you’ll get on your own writings.

Looking forward to your contribution!
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