Interview With Indie Author Kayla Thomas, Part 2

Welcome back to the second part of my interview with the one and only, Kayla Dawn Thomas, an indie author of recently published “Swept Up” and upcoming, “Narrow Miss”. Today, I’m asking Kayla to share with us some of her experiences and tips when it comes to technical side of book writing and publishing.

LB: Hi Kayla, welcome back, thank you for being such a great source and gracious interviewee. Many of us who write also try to juggle many things in our life. Do you have a special time to write? What is your writing routine?

KDT: It really depends on the time of year. During the summer with my daughter home, I write whenever I can squeeze it in. I try to get in 2-3 thirty-minute chunks throughout the day. During the school year, I usually end up writing from 1-2:30 on weekdays. When I can, I add time in the morning. Sometimes I work in the evenings, and I usually squeeze something in on the weekend. I aim to write every day. That’s the most reliable routine I can claim.

LB: When I was beginning to write, I went through a struggle looking for the perfect writing spot. Do you have a special place where you write?

KDT: I have a wonderful home office where I do the majority of my work, but I also like hauling my laptop into my bed on a regular basis.

LB: Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

KDT: Both! I go through the manuscript myself after letting it rest for a few days. I usually end up doing a lot of rewriting during this phase. Then I give it to my beta readers. Their job is to punch holes in the story, make sure it flows, and just make sure it doesn’t suck. Using their comments, I may tweak some things. Then I send it to my editor. I’m a firm believer in hiring a professional editor. I don’t think you can thoroughly or objectively edit your own work. When I get it back, I go through the manuscript one last time with the editor’s notes.

LB: Tell us about the covers of your books, Swept Up and Narrow Miss, which are awesome, btw, and how they came about.

KDT: I was very fortunate to get Jason Gurley as my cover designer for Swept Up. He was awesome to work with, and gave me so much more than a cover. He was full of writing advice. Sadly, he has decided to retire from cover design. Narrow Miss was designed by my sister, Kendra Marvin from Boots and Bling Photography. She’d been saying she was interested in learning how to do covers as she loves graphic art. When I found out Jason was unavailable for my future projects, I shoved her into the deep end of the pool. She’s learning quickly, and has some great ideas and mad skills.

LB: How did you publishing this book and why?

KDT: I chose to self-publish through Amazon. I used Create Space for print on demand paperbacks, and Kindle Direct Publishing for my e-books. I chose to self-publish because I wanted to be in charge of every step of the process and maintain my rights. Plus, I’ve always wanted to run my own business.

LB: Did you format Swept Up on your own?

KDT: I formatted Swept Up on my own. It was very easy to prepare my e-book using Scrivener, which is only a $40 program. Create Space walked me through the process of formatting my paperback. I only needed Word for that.

LB: When it comes to marketing your book, do you have any tips on what to do and what not to do?

KDT: I’m still learning a lot about marketing, but here’s what I’ve been doing. I have a Facebook author page. It doesn’t have a lot of followers, so I also use my personal page for marketing. I share my blog posts, new release announcements, inspirational writing quotes, and random personal updates. I only post a handful of times per week on the official author page. I also use Twitter. I’ve learned through observation that continually spamming the feeds with “buy my book” stuff is very annoying and you lose followers. I tweet new blog posts, random updates, and tips about writing and running a business. I aim to be helpful and create relationships with people both online and in person. If they want to buy a book,  they will. I will confess that on release days, I talk about the new book a lot. I figure, it’s okay every once in a while. To me this business is more than selling books, it’s about making connections with people. Books have been precious to me my whole life. I want to get to know the people who read my work and what it means to them.

LB: Which social network worked best for you?

KDT: Facebook is great for reaching my family and friends. Twitter has been the best for reaching new readers.

LB: Do you have any other advice for other writers?

KDT: Take the time to read up on how to market your work. I highly recommend Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook; Tim Grahl’s book Your First 1,000 copies; and Austin Kleon’s book Show Your Work. I also think you should read about your craft and be prepared to practice. Not everything you write will go in the next novel or blog post. Sometimes you just need to write for the sake of writing. You must be open to slowing down and being willing to grow. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott inspire me to dig in and let the words fly every time I revisit them.

LB: What are your ambitions for your writing career?

KDT: I want to keep publishing work regularly, hopefully improving with each book. I also want to keep connecting with readers and maybe find more opportunities to speak about writing and publishing. I gave a presentation a little over a week ago at our local library and loved every minute of it!

LB: Thank you so much for visiting again, I appreciate the great insight into indie writer’s life. For those of you who missed the first part of the interview last week, here are the ways you can get in touch with Kayla and discover her wonderful work:



Twitter: @kayladawnwrites

Pinterest: Kayla Thomas

Amazon Author Page:

Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.)




My 500 Words, Day 32

YES, I DID IT!!! I completed my 31 days of writing 500 words a day!!!

Phew, it’s been hard but very rewarding. When I started off my writing schedule was very spotty.With a full-time job and kids/husband/house to take care of, a million other things would take up my time, but somewhere deep inside I knew that a lot of that were just excuses, simply because I was afraid to write. So, I decided that I needed a challenge and accountability to myself and to you, my dear readers, to give myself a kick in a butt and give writing the time it deserved.

Let me tell you, writing EVERY day is hard. No matter how often you write and how much readers might like your last post, as soon as you start writing another line, it’s like starting with a blank slate. The desire to procrastinate is great and there are all these chores to be done. Having a goal of sitting down and writing 500 words every day gets you going though. For me, it’s like having homework that you have to turn in, but instead it’s you and your audience who are the teacher.

When you know that you have this commitment to fulfill, suddenly there are bits of time that begin to show up, suddenly you are firmer about what’s important to you and your family begins to get it and helps you more; watching mindless TV is not as attractive anymore and your fingers reach out for the keyboard every chance you get.

Better yet, you develop such a strong habit of doing it, you crave it when you are not writing, you get withdrawals for the lack of better word. You can’t wait to get home, hop on your laptop and get some words out of your system.

There were days (like yesterday) when I drove for four hours straight and was completely wiped by the time I got home; I couldn’t make my brain come up with any more words. On days like these I did my best not to give myself any guilt trips and knew that tomorrow would be a new day and new chances to get back to writing.

Will I continue with my 500 words? You bet! In fact I am going for 1,000 a day as my new goal. Definitely wish me luck with that one!

Here are my totals since the last check-in:

6/17 – 866 + blog post 315

6/18 – nothing, lots of reading on marketing

6/19 – 619

6/20 – nothing, blog post 444

6/21 – 1113

6/22 – 101, traveling


Keep on writing, fight the good fight!

See you on the battlefield!


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I love my Kindle

Ok, I know, I shouldn’t be professing love to an inanimate object, but I do love that darn thing!

My Kindle is the first generation, nothing fancy (ok, it has the 3G, hallelujah!), but I love it just the way it is. I received it for Christmas few years ago and it’s the best “toy” I own.

Initially, I wanted a Kindle to slow the growth of book piles in my house because I love books (another inanimate object I’m in love with). I thought buying a book in digital would a) help me de-clutter my house, b) save some trees. And as much as I love the smell of new books, my small house could only hold so much. So my lovely husband gave me the Kindle.

That very night I hooked it up to my Amazon account and the rest was history. First of all I was ecstatic that one of the free books on it were Sherlock Holmes stories (my favorite character of all times!). Second of all I loved that the Kindle was so light and small, I could fit it anywhere and read it any time I wanted. And the battery held the charge for weeks! Those were the obvious benefits.

The more I used it, the more benefits or shall I say Reasons To Love I discovered.

Here are my top ones:

  1. Kindle is for reading only. There is no temptation or capability to freely browse the web and get distracted. It is electronic, but it’s just a book.
  2. I can get a new book any time I want. Once I was home sick and ended up reading 4 of the 10 books from “Mary O’Reilly” series by Terri Reid. As soon as I finished one, I got the next one, it was AWESOME!
  3. I got to discover indie writers that I wouldn’t have read otherwise. I think this is the part I love the most about Kindle and Amazon, the chance for the writers put their books out there in the world. I found and read many great indie books and got introduced to some talented people.
  4. Since I got my Kindle, I have read more books than ever before.
  5. When I read my Kindle, no one has to know what book I am on – there is no “book cover”.
  6. My reading progress is synchronized between all of my devices and I can continue to read the book on anything I choose if I happened to forget my Kindle at home

What are your favorite things about e-readers?

What indie writers have you discovered recently?


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My 500 Words, Day 25

I can’t believe it’s Day 25 of My 500 Word Challenge! As they say, time flies when you’re having fun!

I set out on this challenge over 3 weeks ago not knowing if I’ll be able to stick to the habit of writing daily, but I really wanted to. I felt like my writing goals were taking too long and I was honest with myself to realize that it was due to my inconsistent writing routine. I would write a few times a week, but I always felt at the mercy of the next event to interrupt me.

Setting a goal of writing every day and setting a minimum of 500 words, caused a couple things to happen.

First, I knew that 500 words was a very doable number and no excuse was valid enough not to write this much. On a few of the nights I was falling asleep in front of my laptop, but I didn’t allow myself go there until I had my 500 words. I had to do it because often it’s hard to tell – was I really tired or was it the resistance masked as tiredness? So, I had to show “it” who’s the boss.

Second, I noticed that writing was becoming easier and I have been writing more almost every time. On some days I wrote my novel and a blog post and a short story. Instead of resisting sitting down to write, I felt a need to sit down and write. I even did some writing during Father’s Day party (hey, some people jump into pool, some people rather write!).

Third, the self-guilt trips of not-writing are getting smaller to the point of extinction. I really love that part. I look at my laptop and smile, rather than mouthing “Sorry!”.

Here are the totals since last update:

6/9 – 351

6/10 – 771

6/11 – 525 + blog post 430

6/12 – nothing for novel + blog post 244

6/13 – 821 + blog post 153

6/14 – 1090 + short story 424

6/15 – 815 + short story 440

6/16 – this blog post (310)+ more writing tonight


If I can do it, you can do it for sure, I just know it!

Do the challenge with me, every step however small is taking you towards your dream.


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Writing – You have all the weapons you need. Now fight!

I’ve been thinking recently of what a battle it is to write. And most of the time, it is a battle with ourselves.

And a quote came to my mind from one of my favorite moves, “Sucker Punch”.

It applies to so many areas of our lives, and for me, it applies to writing:

“Who honors those we love for the very life we live? Who sends monsters to kill us and at the same time sings that we’ll never die? Who teaches us what’s real and how to laugh at lies? Who decides why we live and what we’ll die to defend? Who chains us and who holds the key that can set us free? It’s you. You have all the weapons you need. Now fight! Sweetpea

Enjoy the rest of your week and fight the good fight!


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My Must-Haves When I Write

In one of my previous posts I talked about the Inspiration and how, rather waiting for the inspiration to write, you should write first and the inspiration will surely follow.

However, there is that subject of actually writing. How do you make yourself get into that writing chair daily and stick to it? And once you are in the chair, how do you actually start?

I know everyone has their own place, routine, a ritual if you please, to start writing, to get into the routine and stay there. Here are 5 things that I need to get my writing going and keep me through it:

  1. A pair of Apple fitted headphones. Nothing is more annoying and distracting as a pair of headphones that doesn’t fit right, hurt the insides of your ears, falls out every time you move your head, crackle, the list goes on. The headphone I use stay put, don’t squeeze my skull, and allow very little of an outside noise so I can slip into my writing world
  2. A music player. Naturally, with the headphones come the music player you attach them to. I don’t discriminate between makers, as long as I can put my music on random, repeat or play an album in an order. I use my Samsung phone, Apple iPod, CreativeLabs Zen or simply plug into my laptop and find a good mix on that I discovered thanks to Courtney Carver (Thank you!)
  3. A good music mix. I use a different type of music for different projects that I write, but universally I lean towards slower Indie music or movie soundtracks/scores for my writing. My favorite soundtracks are from “Twilight” movies (especially first three movies), “Titanic”, “Tron”, “Jerry McGuire” and “Fifth Element”
  4. My laptop. I used to be very unproductive when faced with an electronic screen and used paper to get my juices going, but the more I write, the more comfortable I become with writing digitally. My laptop has to be small since I drag it everywhere I go
  5. A blanket. Ok, I admit, I am a wimp when it comes to being cold and I can’t concentrate when my legs are freezing, so a blanket is a must to get cozy and submerge into the world of my book. My writing place has to be comfortable, so a pillow and a comfy sitting are my best friends

What are you secret tools for getting into the groove of writing? I would like to know, maybe I will include them on my personal list of must-haves!


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My 500 Words, Day 17

It is Day 17 of my 500 words challenge and I’m still here, kicking.

You know how they say, bad habits are hard to beat. Well, good habits are just as hard to keep up with, but I’m making an effort to show up. And I’m so glad that I am. Having a promise to all of you and especially to myself made me sit down and write even when I was dead tired and falling off of my feet. Even when it was close to midnight and I knew I would only have a few hours to sleep and a stressful workday ahead of me, I sat down and I wrote my 500 words.

It’s amazing how we can find shreds of energy where it seems there are none when we are focused on something, a goal, a project, a promise.

Here are the word counts since the last weekly check in:

6/2 – 528

6/3 – 589

6/4 – 505

6/5 – 716 +1624 (short story)

6/6 – nothing

6/7 – 1011

6/8 – 575

As promised, I will post another short story that I wrote as a part of this challenge. It needs a bit of an editing (again, I will not over-edit it as I want it to be as close to the raw writing as possible, but I want to clean it up from the basic misspellings and typos). I will be posting it within next couple days.

Until, good night and keep on writing!


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My 500 Words, Day 10

Ever wonder if our mind really knows what’s good for us?

Everything new that I try to do is met with a resistance. As soon as I start a workout routine, I get sick. As soon as I decide to start getting up early, I start getting vertigo episodes, extra tiredness, etc. Thank god, my yoga habit building month went well and I can happily report that I have been at it for 31 days and only missed it twice.

Now, I am working on building my writing habit by writing 500 words a day and it’s been ten days. Let me tell you, it’s amazing. Amazing how much resistance our mind can give to a goal that this same mind came up with. I wonder why it is? Do we lie to ourselves when we say: “Yes, I will do this every day!” Do we secretly know that we will try to flake out but also hope that we won’t?

I love reading and writing, really love. And I miss both when I don’t get to do them. Sometimes I might not realize it, but all of the sudden I find myself feeling sad, longing for something, and then I realize that it’s a written word. If given a chance I would quit my job to write full time. Yet, when faced with a challenge to write every single day, I feel my body and mond giving a push back. Why?

I wonder that when it comes to my novel, writing every day means getting to the finish line faster and the completion of the book becomes that much more real. With that reality comes a fear of failure. What if my book is no good? What if all that time I spent dreaming, plotting, writing and otherwise laboring was all for nothing? What if the baby comes out ugly? I guess these are the same jitters a mother-to-be gets, it’s just she has no choice – baby has to come out.

I suppose I need to realize that my “baby” has to come out too. I set out on writing this book for a reason, and if I don’t, I won’t have any peace. The story will be kicking its little feet on the inside of my writing womb demanding to be let out into the world.

With that said, here is my weekly check-in with the word counts, warts and all…

5/27 – 652

5/28 – 286

5/29 – 291

5/30 – 593

5/31 – totally slacked off without even realizing it

6/1 – this post and more book writing to come after I hit publish on this

What challenges and resistance do you face when you are trying to do what’s good for you?


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Inspiration and Writing Daily

Inspiration is lazy and loves to sleep. Don’t wait for it to show up on a date. Bring yourself and begin to write. Set yourself a goal, 200 words, 500, 2K, whatever and you might wake the Inspiration up from its slumber.


I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the sound of clicking keyboard keys and hum of your undying devotion to the writing craft that make Inspiration prop it’s head, look around and listen in. At first, Inspiration might think that it was a dream and go back to sleep, completely ignoring you.It might, but if you stay consistent and write regularly, Inspiration won’t be able to ignore you anymore. Better yet, it will wait for you, needing to hear that clacking of keys, or that scribble of a writing instrument on paper and pop it’s head above your shoulder to snoop on what that is you are working on.


Be thankful and appreciative of Inspiration showing up, but remember that it is not a one-night stand, like with any relationship you have to work hard on it every day.


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My 500 Words: Day 3

Today is Day 3 of my Writing Challenge. So far I have managed to write every day even though I was away on my 4-day vacation.

Day 1 was almost successful, I wrote 463 words for the novel I am working on. I had a 4 hour drive that day and I was physically exhausted, but decided to stick to my challenge.

Day 2 proved to be a challenge as it was filled with activities involving a lot of fresh air and so when I was finally back in front of my laptop, all I wanted to do is go to sleep. I ended up writing 167 words for my novel. I know, sad, but I made a point of doing some writing no matter what.

Day 3 was my rebound day. I was determined to get some of that writing done, no ifs and buts, and so I just grabbed a journal I had on me at the beach and began writing a short story. As promised, below is this story. I proofed it as much as I could, but I don’t want over analyze and  to hold on to these short stories I will be writing during this writing challenge, and so I am letting it out into the world as is, just like I will do with any other stories I will write during next few weeks.



He always had a knack for getting in trouble. What’s worse, half of the time he didn’t remember what happened. Like this morning, he woke up and found his pillow covered with red stains, taste of blood in his mouth.

“Ouch, what the hell!” he grumbled and rolled out of bed.

He stood on his feet and swayed side to side, his head suddenly foggy. “Wow!” he said to himself and sat back down.

Trying to regain composure he looked around his body. A tattoo on his right forearm called his attention. It definitely wasn’t there before, that much he could guarantee. He touched it, gently pushing on the outline of what appeared to be some weird flower.

“A flower? Are you kidding me?” he said and pushed the outline harder. “Damn it, that freaking hurts! Flower?!”

The pounding in his head made him wince. He instinctively reached out to the source of pain on the right side of his head and winced again. There definitely was a wound and his hair, wet and sticky, proved that. He looked at his hand. Yep, blood.

He closed his eyes for a minute trying to regain some semblance of memories and composure. What happened yesterday?

He started his day by going to work, there was no other way his day could have started. As much as he hated that place he also needed the money to pay for his apartment, which he wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Nestled at a nearly penthouse level, it gave him a birds eye view of the whole city and he could look at that view for hours, feeling all his worries leaving him. And those worries were a plenty.

He still had a giant debt to pay off for his last stint at the hospital. His cancer went into a remission but left him owing three years worth of his boss’s salary. The danger of his restored vintage 1960 ‘vette being repo’ed was always in the air since it was the only piece of anything valuable he owned. The forty grand he borrowed from a local loan shark to fix it up haven’t been forgotten either and those guys would show up every other week but he knew that his latest injuries were not from them. They usually showed up on Saturdays to ruin his weekends.

Today was Wednesday, so yesterday was Tuesday and on Tuesdays he usually did plain nothing, yet his body that was screaming with pain was telling him otherwise.

“What the hell did I do?” he exclaimed in exasperation, getting up and making his way to the kitchen. He knew this wasn’t going anywhere without a healthy helping of black coffee.

He sipped the hot beverage and instantly knew the source of blood in his mouth. His left lower molar was no longer there. Pain radiated from that spot as soon as the hot beverage hit it. In disbelief, he reached in and touched with his finger the spot his tongue just tried to explore. Yep, there was no mistake, a gaping space was there now.

He closed his eyes and rubbed his face with his hand, getting overwhelmed with all the signs of something that happened that his mind refused to release to him.

“What the hell happened to me?” he wondered out loud. As an answer, his phone rang and he flinched in his seat. “Stupid piece of crap!” he swore and walked over to the opposite wall where the vintage red phone hang.

“Yeah?” he answered, already annoyed with whomever was calling.

“Um, Pete? That’s me, Gray.”

“Ah, what’s up, buddy?”

“I… I just wanted to see how you were doing.”

“Funny you asked. I’m not sure. Sitting here, trying to figure out what train hit me.”

“I get it. I can’t imagine how that must feel. I mean to hear something like that.”

“And what would that be, Grayski?” he was puzzled even more now.

“Sorry dude, I promised not to intrude but just couldn’t help it. Sorry, I’ll check on you later. Or you can call me.” And he hung up.

“What the hell? Gray? Hello?!” he stared at now disconnected phone in a complete dismay. “Is there something I should know?” he hung up the phone and jumped up as it rang as soon as it touched the hook.

“Hello? Gray?” he yelled into the phone.

“Pete, this is Bradley.”

“Hey, Brad, what’s going on?”

“Nothing yet this morning, just wanted to check on you.”

“Ok, you too?”

“Me too what?” Brad sounded puzzled.

“Checking on me. Was what happened to me yesterday that exciting?”

“What? Um, well. Sorry dude, I didn’t mean to offend you like that. I’ll just go. Wanted to see how you were, call you later.” He said and hung up.

“What the hell?!” roared Pete. “Is this some kind of game? I’ll show them games!”

He placed the phone back having a feeling it won’t be too long till it rings again. He stood by until it rang a few minutes later. He picked up the phone and yelled: “I’m fine! Any other questions?”

“Hello? Is this Pete Flanagan?” a melodic voice on the other end asked after a pause.

Pete cleared his throat and answered in a much more subdued tone: “Yes, it is him.”

“This is Martha calling from the office of Doctor Goldstein to schedule a counseling session to help you cope.”

“Help me cope?” he asked, still not understanding what was going on.

“I’m sorry about the bad news yesterday. Doctor is concerned about the state of your mental being and suggested counseling.”

“News yesterday?” Pete slowly repeated and lowered himself in a nearby chair.

Before she had a chance to answer, he already knew what happened yesterday and why he couldn’t recall at first. What he found out yeaterday his mind refused.

His cancer was back with a vengeance and has progressed beyond cure. He had about three months to live.

“Yes, sir, the news about your health. Your cancer…”

“Yeah, my cancer, I got it!” he cut her off and she was now silent on her end of the phone. “I’ll take your counseling, I’ll call tomorrow to schedule.”

He hung up and stared at his hands now trembling uncontrollably. His head began to buzz with panic and he closed his eyes trying to steady himself. He remembered what happened yesterday.

He went to doctor expecting to be prescribed another round of chemo he couldn’t afford and instead received a death sentence with a proposed grief counseling. He then headed straight back to his workplace where his newly found freedom of impending death gave him a courage to tell his boss all the things he wanted to say in the past ten years.

After subsequently being fired, he headed to a nearby bar and began to drink heavily until his buddies arrived to save him from himself. They ended up drinking with him, after which they all wound up at the tattoo shop where sexy Roxy, the head designer, long caught their eye. There at the parlor, Pete, convinced that after death he would grow back as a beautiful flower, demanded that one to be tattooed on his forearm and them cried over it for a good hour after it was finished.

One of the loan sharks he owed money to happened to stop by the same joint and, seeing Pete wasting money on tats instead of paying back, ended up getting in a fight with him, during which Pete lost his molar and his opponent fell backwards hitting his head on the pavement and knocking out. Loan shark’s partner in turn shoved Pete so hard he flew and hit his head on a counter of the tattoo shop. They were all kicked out and bailed before police was to arrive.

Pete touched the side of his head again. “Counter.” He said. He then tongued the spot inside of his mouth there the molar was. “Loan shark.” He concluded. His eyes turned to his tattoo. “Roxy.” He mused.

Nodding his head as if trying to recall if he remembered everything, he walked to his desk and jotted a note addressed to Fein, attorney at law. The note was short and to the point: “I, Pete Flanagan, give my Roman Red Chevrolet Corvette 1960 to Bradley Thomson living at the address below as a gift, irrevocable.” He quickly signed it as if afraid to change his mind and stashed it into the fax machine sitting on the countertop. Watching the paper being sucked in and his gift making its way over the phone lines, he smiled and said: “Now, hospitals and loan sharks, hands off my ‘vette.”

He walked around the apartment, gliding his hand over its surfaces, stopping to admire his kitchen and finally making his way to his balcony. Placing his hand on the railing, he said: “You know I loved you, but there would be no way for me to keep you and I wanted you to remember me like this, and not when I’m nodding at the grave.”

Looking around at the sweeping views, he breathed in deeply, capturing the familiar smell of the air and the warmth of the sun on his face.

“I did always loved these views.” He said and jumped.


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