“So, let me get this straight. Dad was a Dragoon, making him superfast and strong and able to fly. He worked for the regency. His office was located at the American headquarters in Connecticut, but he worked for the London headquarters,” Sierra summarized as their silver Chevy sped past the “Welcome to North Carolina” sign. “Since you don’t trust the regency, we’re going to hide for now in a small town, away from everyone.”
Apparently, it only took ten hours of nonstop driving to become acclimated to the idea of a secret society existing within the human world.
“Not quite,” Gran replied, brushing back Sierra’s wavy hair. “Savannah does have supernaturals, but it’s a tight-knit community. And I know the marshal there—Gavin McLoughlin. We can trust him.”
Sierra wondered what it would be like to meet an Ardere marshal. Would he resemble a human sheriff? A middle-aged man with a beer belly and perhaps a mustache? Or would he be fit and charming like her father? Like her father had been. Her father who was gone. Forever. This wasn’t another business trip, which would end in a few weeks’ time. Dad might not have tucked her into bed daily or helped her with homework the way other fathers did, but when he’d been off work, he’d been truly present. Quality time, that’s what he had called it, which included yearly skiing trips to Stratton and hiking on the Equinox Mountain. He’d told the best stories, and he’d always made her laugh.
“Turn here.” Gran pointed at a motel sign. “We’ll rest and then do the remaining six hours tomorrow.”
Sierra stepped outside and stretched her legs and spine. She prayed she could fall asleep, turn her mind and reality off for a few hours.
Gran paid with cash for the night. “You don’t need to see an ID or credit card.”
The concierge nodded mechanically, and Sierra blinked at the confusing exchange. Had Gran just used some mind manipulation skills?
They settled into their room on the ground level. The beige carpet sported several stains, and the two single beds creaked from the lightest of pressures. Still, it was better than sleeping in the car.
“I’m setting the alarm for seven. I want us to leave as early as possible,” Gran said.
Sierra nodded. Six hours of sleep would have to do. With a start, she realized it was 1:00 a.m., meaning her birthday was over. Her eighteenth birthday had come and gone without candles, toasts, or a party. In her hurry to arrive at graduation on time, she hadn’t even opened her presents that morning. She bet Gran had given her another book and a self-made bracelet or necklace with gemstones. It didn’t matter, though. In light of everything that was happening, it was just stuff. What mattered was that her father was gone forever and that she had lost her home. How could someone be so cruel as to kill her father? Leaving her behind as an orphan.
Sierra’s throat constricted. Needing to be alone, she made her way to the bathroom and locked the door behind her. She flipped the switch, and fluorescent light flooded the space. She hopped into the shower, allowing the tears to come as hot water pelted her skin, masking her sobs.
When her skin became pruny, she turned off the water and pulled on her favorite pajamas with clouds. Ensuring her shoulder-length waves hid her blotchy skin, she hurried toward her bed and turned to the wall.
Maybe closing herself off was wrong. Maybe she should share her pain with Gran, but right then, Sierra wasn’t ready to be soothed. Her sadness and confusion felt too raw for that.
Exhausted from everything, she fell into a deep slumber.
A hand on her shoulder, shaking her, awoke her sometime later. “Sierra, get up!” Gran’s voice sounded urgent. The sleep haze dissipated quickly, as Sierra remembered the events of the previous day.
“What’s going on?” Sierra rubbed her eyes. The clock on the bedside table displayed 5:45 a.m.
“Come here.” Gran tugged on her sleeve, motioning for her to crouch between the wall and the bed.
“Shh.” Gran put a finger against her lips. “We have company.”
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No matter how many grammar books you read and how often you reread your manuscript, you will want to hire a professional editor for your manuscript before self-publishing it.
For those on a tight budget, I suggest checking out the website Upwork. It has thousands of freelancers and you can search by skills, rates, test scores, and regions. Upwork is very user friendly, and it takes less than half an hour to set up your profile and post your project.
Upwork will ask you how much you are willing to spend, and potential candidates can filter you project by this category and other factors. If you see a particular freelancer you wish to work with, you can invite him to your project. If not, sit tight. In less than a day, you should expect to receive at least 15 to 20 responses.
Besides a cover letter, you can see how many jobs each interested freelancers has performed, how satisfied their clients were, whether they have worked on projects similar to yours previously, and what their scores were on grammar and punctuation tests.
In addition to this, Upwork has a wonderful customer service that will assist you with any queries.
The downside of using Upwork is that a lot of times you will get people who are trying to make quick money and are doing this job on the side. Many freelancers will do the minimum of work required to satisfy you.
Unlike agencies, who put a lot of effort into maintaining clients, freelancers might think more short-term and try to take on as many projects as possible within a week or a month. This in turn means that they will earn more money, but that your project will receive less time and attention.
When thinking about cost vs. value, you want to check how many rounds of edits are included. You might think that the agency is charging way more than a freelancer, but you are actually receiving more value if the agency reads your work twice and offers advice on the edits you’ve made. Freelancers don’t have to look over your work a second time. And if you want two sets of eyes, you will have to hire two freelancers.
At an agency you won’t just see an anonymous portfolio, saying that a freelancer completed project XYZ. Most agencies will tell you what type of books they have edited, and you can check out those books on Amazon or other online stores to get a feeling for the quality of the performed work.
Whether you decide to go with an agency or a freelancer, make sure you ask for references and a sample edit. In a sample edit you will submit the first few pages of your manuscript and it will be edited for a set fee. I suggest sending the first three chapters to 3-5 people. This will give you a good idea for how well, in-depth the agency/freelancer is, allow you to properly compare you hires, and determine which is the best fit for you. You should also be able to gauge a general turnaround time and how much of a priority you are for them.
Below I’ve created a list of questions you should ask somebody before hiring them for an editing project.
- What type of books have you edited in the past?
- Do you have experience in my genre? How vast is that experience? It makes a difference whether someone edited 1 vs. 50 fantasy books.
- What is the price of your services? Do you charge per hour or per word?
- How quick is your turnaround time?
- If you write a series, you might prefer to work with the same editor on all the books. Ask whether they would be available to do so. An editor who is familiar with your work will be able to point out inconsistencies in a series.
- How many rounds of edits will you perform? Do you provide a second set of eyes? This normally applies only to agencies. If you hire a freelancer from Upwork or a similar site, you will have to hire a second freelance editor to perform a second check.
Whatever route you decide to take, make sure you leave enough time between the editing process and the submission process. If you’re using Amazon’s pre-order option, set a deadline for yourself that is realistic and includes buffer time for emergencies, sick days, etc.
The Secret Circle meets Sookie Stackhouse in this pulse-pounding, fast-paced paranormal series.
Torn away from her high school graduation, Sierra Reeves discovers that everything she thought she knew is a lie.
In a flash, she’s no longer a normal girl preparing for college, but a Fluidus—a rare supernatural with telekinetic powers. Her new abilities attract the attention of both the Ardere regency and the Culpatus, a group that wants to overthrow the supernatural government. Fearful for Sierra’s future, her grandmother decides to leave their home state Vermont and hide out in Savannah, Georgia.
In Savannah, Sierra forms an alliance with the overprotective and handsome Ardere marshal Gavin McLoughlin. With his help, she slowly accepts her new powers and that she’s a part of the supernatural community.
Just when Sierra begins to settle into her new life, her world is rocked again. In addition to the Culpatus discovering her location, a serial killer is on the loose in Savannah.
Fighting to control her developing power, and facing danger on multiple fronts, Sierra will have to use all her resources to stay alive.
Fluidus Rising is the first book in The Ardere Series.