Tag Archives: writing

A Letter From The Trenches

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Written: 24.05.13

Words: 556

NFF, Dark


Dear Ma and Pa,

How are things back home? Home… wow. I haven’t thought of that word in a while. There’s so much terror and hate here, ‘home’ feels like nothing more than a distant memory now. If it was ever real to begin with.

Are y’all reading this from your favourite chair? Freezing rain is pouring down on us, turning our small little trench into a mudslide…

How’s Tommy been at trying to keep the firewood stocked? I tried to chop as much as I could before I left so he wouldn’t have to try, but this rain doesn’t seem to be letting up. I’m sorry if y’all run out before I return.

 

Oh, crap. Sorry, ignore that stain. It’s not my blood.

There’s no tables out here, so I’m using a soldier’s back to write to you. He’s been decomposing for a while, so he’s not the most stable surface. The pen poked through the paper there. I’ll try to be more delicate. Don’t want this letter to get torn to shreds before it reaches you. I think this used to be Ben, but the rats have almost completely devoured the face so it’s hard to tell.

Not that knowing who it is would make it any better.

These were my friends. Now? They’re just make-shift furniture. Walls, tables, mattresses… we were grateful at first to finally not have to sleep on the cold, hard ground, but now there’s so many piling up, they’re mostly just in the way. They’re making it difficult to move.

At least the screams of pain have slowly quieted with each day.

I apologize if that sounds callous to y’all, but with the explosions and gun-fire already aching your ears, any other high-pitched noise is just agony. My right one actually started bleeding yesterday. At least, I think it was my ear… either that or the cut on my temple re-opened. There’s so much mud and blood caked on everyone, it’s hard to tell where it’s coming from.

Like back when Baby Rose had her cold and she screeched through the night for a month. Only here we don’t have pillows or cotton to cover our ears with.

How is Baby Rose? I suppose she wouldn’t be ‘baby’ anymore, eh? Must’ve started walking and talking by now…

I bet she looks just like Shelly. Golden hair and big, brown eyes.

Maybe it’s good I haven’t been there. I doubt I’d be able to tell her ‘no’ if she were to ask for a toy or candy before dinner. That girl had me wrapped around her finger before she was even born.

Can you tell her Daddy says he loves her? I’d promise to be back soon, but I don’t want the first words of mine my baby girl’ll remember to be a lie.

If we did have cotton, it wouldn’t be used for our ears. It’d definitely be used as nose plugs for the smell.

Ma, the smell is so bad even the flies have left.

Only other time I’ve smelled something even close to this was back when that wolf torn into that horse in winter, and we weren’t able to move the body because it’d frozen to the ground.

Oh, hold on.

Sarge is yelling, but I’m too far away to hear him. I’ve gotta go see-


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Tear Drops (PHSH Effect #28)

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Technically, this Photoshop effect isn’t strictly for making tear drops, you can use it to create any other clear liquid drops – sweat, condensation, big rain drops, etc. But since I first learned this technique because I needed to make a tear drop – for the creation of my 6th book cover, Broken – that’s the name I’m sticking with.

Like most of the other effects I show you, there’s multiple ways you can create tear drops in Photoshop, and again, like most of the other effects, it’s not nearly as hard as it may seem.

Step 1

As always, you’ll need to start with an image you’d like to add the effect on. Since I’m going to be showing you this for a tear drop – and since I already had the picture on hand – I’m going to be using the same sad girl face I used on my book cover.

Feel free to use the picture above, or you can choose your own sad person, or water bottle, or forehead if you’re going to be creating sweat or condensation. Though I will say, it might be easier to follow along with the tutorial in the same way first. Just so that you have the steps down before you start deviating from the tutorial. I’ll add example pictures of condensation and sweat at the end of the tutorial, so you can see what it looks like on those images, too.

Okay, so once you have the picture you want to add the effect to, we’re going to make a New Layer, and then on that New Layer, use the Pen Tool to draw a shape. Preferably, a tear/water drop shape. (Or as close as you can get) If you’d like, you can also rename this layer to something simple yet identifying, like Pen Tear Drop.

If you’ve never used the Pen Tool before, the way to use it is by clicking multiple times, which are called Anchor Points, to create the shape you want. It’s similar to the Polygonal Lasso Tool (which I showed you in this tutorial), except the line doesn’t hold until you create the next Anchor Point.

Each one of those squares are the Anchor Points where I clicked. If you don’t use multiple Anchor Points to create your shape, you won’t end up with a shape, but you’ll instead just have a dot. Or if you click once to ‘start’ the tool and once to ‘stop’, you’ll get a line.

For example:

So you’ll want to make sure to use the Anchor Points to create the shape, otherwise the Pen Tool won’t appear to work. If you need to, you can also zoom in on your picture to make creating the shape easier. To zoom in, use the CTRL and + buttons on your keyboard. (Zooming out is CTRL – , makes sense, right? Clicking ‘+’ brings you more/closer and ‘-’ minuses/moves you farther away)

 

Step 2

Once you have a shape you’re happy with, you’re going to right-click on the shape and then select Make Selection from the drop-down Menu that appears.

In the Make Selection Dialogue box that appears, you shouldn’t need to change anything from the default, but this might depend on your version of Photoshop, so I’ll list what the values should be below. Once you finish changing them, or if you didn’t need to change them at all, just click the Okay button.

Feather Radius: 0 pixels

Anti-Aliased Check Box should be Check-marked

New Selection for Operation (in my version of PHSH, the other options are greyed out)

After you click the Okay button, you should notice that the shape you drew is now now shows the dotted selection lines, instead of the Anchor Point square dots.

Once you finish that, you’ll want to Fill the shape with white. To do this, you can use the CTRL + Delete buttons on your keyboard, or if you switch from the Pen Tool to the Selection tool and then right-click on the shape, select Fill from the drop-down menu, and then pick White from those options.

If you noticed my Layers panel has an extra layer, this is because I created 2 tear drop shapes. The first one I forgot to fill with white, and then wondered why Step 3 wasn’t working. I had to go back and re-draw the tear, so it will be a different shape for the rest of the tutorial. Also see? Even us pros mess up!

Once your shape is filler with White, you can now Deselect it (right-click using the Pen or Selection tool and choose Deselect) to get rid of the dotted outline. After this, go on over to the Layers Panel and change the Fill to 0%. You can either do this by sliding the slider all the way to the left, or simply type the number 0 into the box.

 

Step 3

Next, you’re going to right-click on the Tear Drop layer and bring up the Blending Options Dialogue Box. From there, you’re going to check-mark the Bevel and Emboss option, and then change the following values:

Bevel and Emboss:

Inner Bevel

Smooth

Depth: 530

Direction: Up

Size: 50

Soften: 0

Angle: -90,

Altitude: 0

Highlight Mode: Screen (White)

Opacity: 50%

Shadow Mode: Multiply

Opacity: 75%

After you change the Bevel and Emboss values, you’ll also want to add an Inner Shadow, with the following values:

Inner Shadow:

Linear Burn (Leave Black)

Opacity: 30%

Angle: -63 (Uncheck Global Light)

Distance: 4

Choke: 0

Size: 16

And finally, a Drop Shadow, with the following values:

Drop Shadow:

Multiply (Leave Black)

Opacity: 55%

Angle: 127

Distance: 7

Spread: 0

Size: 8

At this stage, your tear should actually look like a tear. If however, you’re in the same boat as I am and it’s not looking even remotely close, don’t panic!

I discovered through creating yet another tear (yes, I ended up making 3 for this tutorial) that you need to do the steps not only in order, but without breaking between them, especially between making the selection, filling with white and first applying the Bevel and Emboss effect.

I have no idea why, but for some reason, the Bevel and Emboss effect just won’t look the same if you take breaks between those steps. I know it makes no sense, but sometimes Photoshop is just… let’s say finicky.

My 2nd tear drop ended up looking badly because to make these tutorials, I’m writing the steps while I’m also doing the effect in Photoshop. This is not only in case I need to make any tweaks to the steps I already have written, but also so I can get the screenshots used in the tutorial.

Unfortunately this breaking up of the steps seems to make the Bevel and Emboss effect act weird, so I had to make another tear and do the first steps up to the Bevel and Emboss values a second time.

I’ll admit it you can’t tell that the shape looks better in that picture, but you can clearly see the difference between the third tear and the second one at the same stage.

After seeing the Bevel and Emboss wasn’t acting wonky, I went ahead and applied the Inner Shadow and Drop Shadow.

I noticed however that while this third tear was looking closer, it still wasn’t quite as accurate as I thought I could make it, so I also changed the values for the effects to the following:

Bevel and Emboss:

Style: Inner Bevel

Technique: Smooth

Direction: Down

Depth: 530

Size: 10

Soften: 0

Angle: -124 (Uncheck Use Global Light box)

Altitude: 0

Highlight Mode: Screen (White)

Opactiy: 68%

Shadow Mode: Mulitple (Dark Grey #373737)

Opacity: 75%

 

Inner Shadow:

Blend Mode: Linear Burn (Lighter Grey #525252)

Opacity: 30%

Angle: -145 (Make sure Use Global Light is un-checked)

Distance: 4

Choke: 0

Size: 8

 

Drop Shadow:

Blend Mode: Multiple (Dark Grey #1e1e1e)

Opacity: 55%

Angle: 127

Distance: 4

Spread: 0

Size: 3

If your tear isn’t looking quite like a tear, try these second set of values to see if that helps. A lot of the time in Photoshop, trial and error is the only way to get an effect to look right. This is because of a lot of different factors, but the main one will be the image you’re applying the affect to. If you’re not using the same picture I am the colours, lighting, shadows, etc. are all going to be different, so the values you choose to create your effect will vary.

This is why I always recommend playing around with values, to see if you can find different ones than what I use to get the effect to work on your image.

 

Step 4

Yes, there’s still another step to the tear process! However, these last two steps are completely optional. This step, which involves warping your tear shape to make it look more realistic really only needs to happen if you didn’t draw the shape exactly how you wanted it to look the first time around.

If you’re already happy with the shape of your tear, feel free to skip ahead to Step 5!

If you’d like to try changing the shape of your tear, follow along. This is called Warping, which I may have talked about before, but off the top of my head I don’t remember, so I’ll just explain it again.

To Warp your shape, right-click on the shape and then select Warp from the drop-down menu that appears. If the first time you right-click the only options that come up say the current layer name (in my case, Tear 3) and Layer 1, you’ll first need to click on one of the squares that’s outlining the shape. (The ones you’d use if we were going to resize it)

After clicking the resize square, then right-clicking should bring up the drop-down with the Warp option.

You should notice after selecting Warp that a box/grid shows up over your tear, with little circles at certain points around it. These circles are the points you’ll use to warp the image.

I’d suggest starting out small, because over-warping could ruin all your hard work. Try at first if you can, to just slightly warp the tear so it looks like it’s moving over the bottom of the eyelid. This should mean slightly adding a curve to the top part of the tear.

Once you’re happy with your warped tear, click Apply in the dialogue box, or the Enter button on your keyboard to keep the changes.

 

Step 5

The final step (aside from saving) is to add a highlight to your tear. This is also an optional step, since the Bevel and Emboss effect should’ve added at least a slight highlight to your tear. But if you want to add another one, here’s how:

You’re going to make a New Layer and can rename it something identifiable (I called mine Highlight). Then, use your Pen Tool to draw another shape. This one should be smaller than your tear, and a skinny, almost banana shape. Once you’re happy with the shape, the process is the same: Right-click to Make Selection and then CTRL + Delete to make it white.

After this, you can change it’s Opacity so it’s not as stark white, or rotate it if you didn’t draw it exactly the same bend as the tear.

Once you’re done fiddling with the highlight, or if you didn’t think you needed one, go ahead and zoom out and take a look at your masterpiece!

If you’re happy with how it looks zoomed out, the only step left to do is save your file! Don’t forget to save both a .psd (Photoshop) file and a picture (.jpeg, .png, etc.) file so that you have a work file, just in case you need to come back to it. (Or to remember how you created the effect)


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Every Second (Preview)

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Started: 24.01.11

Finished: 24.04.25

Words: 517

C2C, Sabriel (Implied)


“Dean-”

“No, Sam.” The blonde held up a hand and shook his head, “This isn’t what I signed up for.”

Sam scoffed and took a step closer, raising an eyebrow, “So you’re gonna leave? You’re just gonna let these people die?”

“It’s not my problem!” Dean brought his hands up in mock surrender, car keys dangling from his fingers, “You can take care of it.”

“Not alone!”

“Yes, Sammy, alone.” The blonde paused as he turned back to the motel door, “You’ve been hunting solo for years now. Since when can the great Sam Winchester not take on a rogue angel?”

“That’s not the point.”

“Then what is the point, Sam? Huh?” Dean spun back away from the door, gesturing vaguely, “Why do you need my help so badly on this case?”

“Because it’s Gabriel!”


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Hindsight (Preview)

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Written: 24.03.29

Words: 775

C2C


The plan was simple: dig up the body, salt and burn the bones, and then everyone’s’ home in time to watch Doctor Sexy. That was it. A hunt so easy they could’ve done it in their sleep. A milk run.

Dean should’ve known it wasn’t going to be that simple. When were the simple ones ever actually simple? He was suspicious of it ever since they got wind of the hunt a week ago. For one thing, they found all the information about it almost too easily – as if someone was spoon-feeding it to them. And when they got to the abandoned house on the edge of the town? You could practically cut the sense of dread that hung in the air with a knife.

Yep, it was a hunt that had all the markings of going so completely, horribly wrong, and yet… they went anyway. “It’ll be fine, Sam had stated for the millionth time, “how often have we done a salt and burn? It’ll be five minutes, tops. Probably won’t even have to turn off the car.

Oh boy, how wrong that was.

That’s how Dean found himself here, tied to a post in the aforementioned abandoned house, monster setting up for whatever crazy ritual it was gearing up for a few feet in front of him, and Sam…

Well to be honest, he wasn’t entirely sure where his brother was. But he wasn’t tied up next to him, and that couldn’t have been a good sign.


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Kiss You in the Rain (Preview)

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Written: 24.03.29

Words: 2,095

Destiel (Implied)


“Happy anniversary Daddy!”

Dean chuckled as his twin’s voices floated through the line, “Aw, thanks guys.”

“Are you and Dad having fun?”

“O-oh, yeah.” Dean subconsciously straightened and puffed out his chest, “Tons of fun.”

“Do you miss us?”

“Of course they don’t miss us! They’re celebrating.”

“Oh… Is the bed bouncy?”

Dean chuckled again and nodded, “Oh, it’s bouncy alright. You guys would hit the ceiling if you were here.”

“Aw man!”

“Can we come now?”

“Yeah! We could take the bus, or ask Uncle Sam to-”

The end of Tyler’s sentence got cut off with some rustling, before he heard faint giggling and hurried footsteps, “What are you guys still doing up? Get back to bed!” There was a moment of silence, before a hesitate-sounding Sam picked up the phone, “Hello…?”

“Relax, it’s just me.”

“Oh, thank God.” He could practically see his brother’s relief through the phone, “I swear, I had them in bed on time! I don’t know how I missed them getting up.”

“It’s fine, Sam. Not like they know anyone else’s number.”

“Yeah, I guess. Anyway, sorry man, I’ll let you get back to-”

“Wait!” Dean blinked in surprise at himself as he cut off his brother. He took a moment to compose himself and crossed his arms over his chest, “I-I mean, while you’re here, tell me how the night went. Any other trouble?”

“Nah, they were good. We ate dinner, watched a movie, then bed time. Nothing special.”

“Okay, good, that’s…. good. So,” Dean cleared his throat, “What uh, what’d you make for dinner?”

Sam let out a chuckle, “I know the social worker’s still on your case, but it’s fine, man. I can tell you when you get back. I don’t want to interrupt your anniversary.”

“You’re not! I mean… Cas is in the bath, so I can chat for a bit.”

“… You’re not with him?”

“The tubs here are really small.”

“Dean…”

“Okay, fine. Cas is…. not here.”

“What did you do?”


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Setting a Daily Word Count: Helpful or Hurtful?

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One of the most highly debated things in writing is whether or not you should set a daily word count. Some writers swear it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever implemented, while others curse having a daily target like it slaughtered their first born child.

So, which of these sides are right? Is setting yourself a word count actually helpful or hurtful?

Truthfully, it depends on what kind of writer you are!

If you’re someone who works best or feels more efficient by setting yourself goals, you may find that setting yourself a word count can help keep you on track to get everything want to get, done.

If you’re someone who tends to procrastinate, setting a word count might also be helpful for you. Having that goal might be just enough pressure to nag at you while you’re ‘wasting’ your day watching TV and help you get off your butt and get going.

On the other hand, if you’re someone who has a lot of anxiety or tend to beat yourself up if you don’t make your goals, giving yourself a daily word count might just be setting you up for failure. If you end up being busier than you’d like or something unexpected happens or maybe the words just aren’t flowing that day, having a goal that you’re constantly not reaching won’t do your mental health any favours.

You need to know what kind of writer, and person you are in general, before you can ultimately decide if setting a daily word count is a good or bad idea. All writing advice needs to be tweaked to you, personally. You are the only person who can hold you accountable for reaching – nor not reaching – your writing goals. Advice is just meant to help you, but if you read something that makes you snort and go, “Yeah, right.” then skip that particular thing!

If you’re not sure whether or not setting a daily word count would benefit your writing, test it out for a bit first! There’s no rule that says you have to keep doing a particular thing if you don’t like it. Try it on for a few weeks or months and then see how you feel about it after. If it made you more productive or you liked it a lot, great! Keep it up. If you find it added unnecessary stress to your life or you didn’t actually stick to it, dump it and try finding something else.

You also don’t have to get that specific with setting yourself a word count, either. This might sound cliche, but being a human, setting some sort of goals is just something that makes us function better. We need something to strive toward. It’s unfortunately just the way things work. But, if you know what kind of goal setting works for you, you can essentially hack yourself into being more efficient.

For example, if setting a daily word count is too much pressure, try setting a weekly, monthly or yearly word count. Or, if that still sounds like too much pressure, or you’re worried about little things like spiraling because you gave yourself a 1,000 word count goal and you only managed to write 995 words,  try setting more generalized goals for your writing. Like “I’ll write 2 short stories by the end of the week”, “I’ll write 3 articles a day” or “I’ll finish a chapter each month.” The goals you set will of course depend on what kind of writer you are – blogger, novelist, short story fictionalist (is fictionalist even a word? Well it is now), etc. – but no matter what kind you are, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a type of goal that’ll work for you.

It will also depend on whether or not writing is your career or more of a hobby. I’m not going to say it’s not important to set goals for your hobbies, but if it’s your job and you find yourself feeling behind, you might want to not be as lenient in your goal setting than if you were someone who writes more casually.

Not getting fired or being able to keep a roof over your head are great generalized goals, but you may find getting slightly more specific if writing is your livelihood (or you want to make writing your livelihood) is better for you long-term.

Specifically for me, I don’t set myself a daily word count, or monthly, yearly, etc. Since I’m a blogger and short story writer first (and I have wicked procrastination skills), I give myself more leeway in my goals. Mine are more general: I work on articles and short stories Monday to Friday, then leave the weekends for scheduling promotional posts, working on my current book (or whatever other big yearly project I’m working on, like a text-based game), coming up with new merch designs and socializing.

I find giving myself this more casual weekly goal is great because this means I could for example, write 3 articles one day,  write 2 short stories another, and not feel as badly about ‘only’ getting a Photoshop tutorial done a different day. All my work is still getting done, and it’s enough of a schedule to keep me organized, but not so scheduled I feel suffocated creatively, which in turn minimizes the amount of time I spend procrastinating.

Of course this system isn’t perfect. Unexpected life changes, and/or the holiday season tend to wreak havoc on my work schedule, but if I stay the course for more of the year than I don’t, I tend to stay a few months ahead of when the posts and short stories go up, so I actually give myself some leeway for life events.

It’s like I’ve given myself the gift of time, and honestly, couldn’t we all use a little more of that?


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Paper Cups

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Originally From: 18.06.27

Rewrite Started: 22.11.15

Finished: 24.03.19

Words: 1,333

In honour of my 6th book Broken turning 3 this month (Mar. 19th), I thought it’d be fun to revisit the world with a short story based on the characters. This story has 0 bearing on the book’s plot and is not meant to be a sequel. If anything, this is technically a prequel (if you’ve read the book, you’ll know why).  This is just a fun one-off story.

A fanfic based on my own book, if you will.

Regardless of what you choose to call it, I hope you like it!


“Are you sure about this?”

Stacey took in a deep breath, in an attempt to steel herself against what she was about to do as she accepted the plastic cup, “Yeah, I’m good.”

Jesse didn’t look convinced, but didn’t stop her from walking toward the cabin, anyway. He watched her go, small boulder settling into his stomach, “Be careful.”

The blonde turned away from the doorway, sly smile on her face, “Never.”

 

 

Stacey groaned, blinking her eyes open slowly as she woke up. She squinted against the harsh light streaming in from between the curtains, tilting her head away as she felt the familiar stab of needles in her brain.

The blonde carefully sat up, needing to swallow hard to keep her nausea at bay, that never gets easier. She stretched her legs out under the covers, freezing as her left leg hit something that definitely wasn’t bedding.

Oh no… Dreading what she’d find, she slowly turned to her left, peering over the pillow to the person who was sleeping beside her. Who did I…? She leaned a little closer in an attempt to identify the person, but it was no use – they were on their stomach, and their brown hair and tangle of arms was obscuring their face.

Stacey slid herself out of bed as quietly as she could, not wanting to disturb her sleeping partner. She couldn’t help the shiver that ran through her as the cool air hit her body.

Her entire body.

She swallowed thickly and started scrambling around the room, on the hunt for her clothes. She quickly shrugged on her t-shirt before continuing the search, doing her best not to completely freak out. Crow wouldn’t have let me do anythi-

She froze on the spot as the person on the bed rolled over, subconsciously holding her breath. Once it was clear they weren’t waking up, she continued the search for her pants.

And phone.

Where are they? She frowned as she turned around the bedroom in a small circle, not seeing the rest of her belongings. She let out a deep sigh before making her way over to the door, guess we’re doing this old school.

The blonde pressed her ear to the door, trying to hear if anyone else was awake on the other side. After a minute of not hearing anything, she carefully cracked it open.

She slipped out the door and nearly tripped. What the…? She rolled her eyes as she saw the floor was littered with passed out party-goers. Didn’t anyone go home last night? She started down the hall, taking care to step over every sleeping teen.

Stacey let out a small breath as she reached the top of the stairs and noted it was empty. Thankfully. She made her way down the stairs quickly, using her unfortunately intimate knowledge of the cabin to her advantage to avoid the creaky parts of the steps.

Once she was at the bottom, she practically ran the short distance toward the front door, stopping just as her hand reached the knob as someone cleared their throat from behind her.

“Forgetting something?”

She braced herself as she heard the accent and turned around, plastering a smile on her face as she spotted the owner, “Hey, baby. What are you doing up so early?”

“Cut the crap, Sweetheart.” Crow half gestured to the empty space between them, “Everyone who cares is asleep.”

Stacey shrugged, posture changing, “Force of habit.” She walked the short distance over to him and reached for her phone, not bothering to hide her annoyance as he held it out of reach, “What the hell, Crow?” She swiped for it again, shooting him annoyed daggers as he took a step back, “I already stayed for your stupid party. Now let me leave.”

Crow’s brows rose at her tone and he gave her a once over, sly smile pulling at the corner of his mouth, “Didn’t leave the money on the dresser, eh?”

Stacey rolled her eyes, and turned on her heel, “You know what? Keep the phone.”

She was out the door in the next instant, and let out a groan as she heard him follow.

“Whoa, hey, there’s no need for that.” Crow cut in front of her path, blocking the porch steps. He dug a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and held them up, “Breakfast?”

“I have to go.”

“Emma’s fine.” At the raised eyebrow, he held up his hands in mock surrender, “Adam tailed her. He never came home.”

The blonde eyed him for a minute before letting out a sigh, moving to sit on the half-wall, “One.”

Crow wasted no time in following her the short distance over, holding the pack out to her. There was a moment of silence as the two teens lit up before Stacey blew out her first breath of smoke, eyes drifting over to the trees that hid the cabin from the rest of the park.

She could feel his eyes on her as she took her second drag, “So, how long are you going to be extending our deal, exactly? Y’know, just so I can plan the rest of my year.”

Crow let out a chuckle at that – not the obnoxious fake laugh he used around his cronies, but his real laugh – and shook his head, “I forgot how good you were.”

“At?”

“Ruining nice moments.”

“It’s a gift.” She paused to take another drag before raising an eyebrow, “Well?”

“If you came around more, I wouldn’t need to extend it.”

Stacey rolled her eyes, “Oh, puh-lease don’t go pretending like you’re the victim here. You know exactly why I left.”

“Actually, I don’t.”

Stacey scoffed and gestured to the cabin, “You’re a drug dealer!”

“And you’re a whore.”

Because he was standing behind her, she missed the guilty look that crashed onto his face as soon as the sentence left his mouth. Stacey bristled at it, and turned back to look out over the trees.

He hung his head for a moment, damn it, before forcing himself to take in a deep breath, “I mean…” he chanced taking a small step closer to her, half-raising his hand in a failed attempt to touch her shoulder, voice softening, “I-I miss you.”

What?” The incredulous chuckle that left her mouth cut him like a knife and he quickly dropped his free hand back down to his side. She half-turned, raising an eyebrow at him as she brought her cigarette back to her mouth, “You’re gonna go out of business if you keep using your own product, y’know.”

“I’m not high,” Crow shifted his posture, not realizing his attempt to cover up his soft-side made it more apparent, “Forget it.” He dug the cell out of his pocket and tossed it at her, “There, now get out.”

Stacey blinked at him in stunned silence for a moment, “T-Tony, I…” her sentence died on her lips as she checked the phone and noticed all the missed calls, “Shit.”

Crow couldn’t help but be concerned as she jumped off the wall and smashed out her cigarette, “What is it?”

“He did come back.” She pushed passed him and ran down the porch steps, “I’ve gotta go.”

He momentarily shook his head, I’m going to kill Adam. He took another drag as he watched her disappear into the trees, barely registering her bare legs as she went.

“Yo, Queen, I’m making-” The voice from behind him made Crow turn to the cabin door, junkie’s face falling as he noted the empty porch, “pancakes.” He frowned and leaned out the door a little further, “I thought I heard her out here.”

“She had to leave.” Crow took one more drag from his cigarette before putting it out on the wall, “So, breakfast?”

The junkie’s brows furrowed more and he stepped aside, “I didn’t know you smoked.”

Crow let out a small sigh as he made his way back over to the door, “I don’t.”


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Like A Winner (Preview)

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Started: 21.05.16

Finished: 24.02.13

Words: 1,208

Teen!Chesters


“Damn it, Dean!” Sam stomped through the door to their motel room, angrily throwing his school bag onto their shared bed, “I don’t need you to fight my battles for me!”

“That black eye you’re sporting begs to differ,” Dean followed him, closing the door behind them. He gave his brother a pointed look, “I’m not just gonna stand by and watch my kid brother get pummelled.”

Sam turned in the doorway to the bathroom, narrowing his eyes, “Now everyone at school thinks I’m a wimp.”

“Pfft, come on,” Dean waved a dismissive hand and made his way over to sit on the bed, “Everyone who was watching saw that fight wasn’t fair. There were four guys on you!”

“It doesn’t matter,” Sam turned on his heel, slamming the bathroom door behind him.

Dean shook his head, did he seriously expect me to not jump in and save his ass? He laid himself down on the bed, it’s not even like he couldn’t of taken those guys, but he wasn’t! He was foetal, just letting them kick him in the stomach! What kind of big brother would I be if I didn’t jump in? Dean brought one arm up to rest it across his eyes as he let out a deflated sigh, I don’t understand why didn’t just-

Dean bolted up as his mind replayed him the crowd that’d gathered around the fight, of course! He made the short trip over to the bathroom door, knocking softly on it, “I’m sorry I embarrassed you in front of that hippie chick.”

He heard the groan float through the door, “Not everything’s about a girl, Dean!”

“True,” The eldest leaned himself against the wall beside the door, crossing his arms over his chest, “But this was… right?”


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Sunsets (PHSH Effect #27)

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I was going to say I chose to do a sunset so we could get over our winter blues, but we actually had a pretty mild winter where I am, so not too sure how well that works. Whether or not you also had a mild winter, learning to make a sunset effect in Photoshop can still be fun!

This tutorial is one of the simpler ones, so you’ll have plenty of time to practice, and might pick it up faster than some of the others!

For this tutorial, it’s going to really help you out if you choose an image that’s almost a sunset, anyway. I initially tried this effect myself (as well as some Youtube tutorials) using a picture that had high-noon sun lighting and it just did not work. At all. I’ll show you that disaster at the end of the tutorial, so you can see.

Now normally, I’d consider using a picture that’s already close to what you want to achieve as ‘cheating’ – if you were going to just use the pre-made picture as-is, you might as well go all the way and just find a full sunset picture – but seeing the difference between the high-noon picture and the one I ended up using was so drastic, I’m giving it a pass. (Also because I couldn’t figure out how to make it work on the high-noon picture)

This is the picture I ended up using:

Step 1

After re-sizing your picture to fit your new work document, you’ll want to make a Gradient Layer.

You’re going to have to create your own sunset colour gradient for your image. The specific colours you use will heavily depend on the colours your image already has. If you don’t pick colours that are already somewhat close, it won’t tint the image correctly and will end up looking very fake.

You’ll want to use 4 sunset colours, and then the last colour you’ll need to make light grey.

For my image, these are the colours I used:

1st: Pale Yellow: Colour Code #fffac4

2nd Brighter Yellow: Colour Code #fcf38d

3rd Pale Orange: Colour Code #ffbb5b

4th Brighter Orange: Colour Code #ff8b2e

If you plan on using this effect often, feel free to Save this Gradient by giving it a name and then pressing the New button to add it to your Gradient Presets.

Once you have the correct colours, you’ll want to click on the colour bar to make one of those pointer things show up on the top of the bar, and then change it’s Opacity to 75%. Or, you can just drag the pointer that’s already at the top on the left side (over the pale yellow) over until it’s over the Pale Orange and change that ones Opacity.

You’ll also want to change the Opacity of the pointer that’s over the Grey to about 30%.

Once you’ve changed those Opactities, click the Okay button.

Then once you’re back in the Gradient Fill dialogue box, change the Style to Radial, change the Angle to 130 and change the Scale to between 120-135, depending on what works best with your image. (Mine was 135)

 

Step 2

Now we’re going to change the Brightness of the picture. To do this, go back to the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer at the bottom of the Layers Panel and select Brightness/Contrast from the menu.

In the Panel that pops up, you’ll either want to slide the Brightness slider down or just replace the value by typing in -26.

After you successfully lower the Brightness, just click on the double arrows at the top right-hand side of the panel to close it.

 

Step 3

Now we’re going to add a filtered look to the whole picture. To do this, we’re going to add 2 Solid Colour Layers.

To make the 1st Colour Layer, go back down to the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer at the bottom of the Layers Panel and click on Solid Colour.

The first colour we’re going to pick is going to be a darker colour. For my image, I had to choose a shade of Brown (#644503), however in one of the tutorials I saw on Youtube, the person made this colour a pinky Red. This will depend entirely on the image you chose.

If you find it easier, feel free to use the colours I’m using in this tutorial, and then once you’ve gone through all the steps, go back and see if changing the colours will make the image look better/more realistic.

The next colour layer we’re going to add is going to be a bright colour. For my image, I found a bright Orange (#ff7200) worked well. The Youtube tutorial person made this colour a pale yellow.

 

Step 4

Now that we’ve got both the colour layers, it’s time to incorporate them into the image!

Still being on your bright colour layer, change the Opacity to 35% and change the Blend Mode to Soft Light.

Next, go back to your darker colour (Brown) layer and change it’s Opacity to 27%, and then change this one’s Blend Mode to Vivid Light.

 

Step 5

At this point, you should see your image looking sunset-y. If you don’t and you’ve been following the tutorial colours, don’t worry. You might just have to change the colours to suite your own image.

For this step, we’re going to go back to the Gradient layer, and change it’s Blend Mode to Hard Light.

It doesn’t look like my image colour changed because I already had the Gradient layer’s Blend Mode to Hard Light. If it was on Normal (like yours should be), this should be what it looks like:

 

Step 6

Can you believe we’re already at the last step? Yep, it’s true!

The last thing you need to do is drag your darker colour (Brown) layer so it’s sitting underneath the Gradient layer.

To do this, just click on the layer in the Layer’s Menu and then drag it until it’s under the Gradient layer. Once it’s in the right place, take your finger off the mouse button.

Once you’ve got the darker colour under the Gradient, all you need to do is save because this effect is now done! Don’t forget to save both a PHSH file (.psd) and a picture file (.png, .jpeg, etc.), this way you can go back if you need to adjust something and/or to just play around with colours or layers later.

Also, as promised, here are my failed attempts at creating a sunset on a picture with high-noon lighting.

First, the original picture:

And now the first failed attempt. This attempt was the one I did by following a Youtube tutorial.

And this is the failed attempt from after I changed colours to see if that would help.

The 2nd attempt was closer, but no matter how I tweaked the colours – whether making them more red, more orange or more yellow – I just couldn’t make it work with the lighting. No matter what I did, it just kept looking fake/edited. I also had to add the sun to the image, and I feel like that also contributed to the failure of it.

So yeah, in case you didn’t know: just because I make these tutorials doesn’t mean I don’t also still fail at making effects! This is why I always try to remind you guys not to feel bad or get down on yourselves if you try an effect and it doesn’t work. There are many factors that go into making an effect work – the picture you choose, your version of Photoshop, and sometimes I swear just if you’re having a lucky day.

Keep practicing and fiddling around and you should get it eventually!

Also I don’t remember if I’ve ever said, but if you guys ever have questions about any of the effects I share, please feel free to reach out and ask! The whole reason I started this tutorial series was to help people (mainly indie authors) and it wouldn’t be very helpful if you found the tutorial confusing, or come away with more questions than answers.


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All These Memories (Preview)

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Written: 24.02.09

Words: 1,074

NFF, Funny, 2024’s 2nd Valentine’s story


“Table for one, please.”

The host raised an eyebrow, peering over the top of his glasses at her, “For one?”

April  resisted the urge to shift uncomfortably under his gaze, eyes flicking over to the packed-with-couples dining room. She brought her eyes back to him after a moment and nodded, “Yep.”

She didn’t miss the annoyance that flashed across his face as he stepped out from behind the podium, “This way.”

She followed him through the dining room, using all her strength to keep her eyes on the back of his head and tried not to focus on the fact each happy couple stopped their chattering as she made her way past their tables.

It’s just a day on the calendar. She forced herself to take in a deep breath in a failed attempt to calm herself as he finally stopped at a table close to the back, gesturing for her to sit.

She gave him a polite smile as she slid into the chair, placing her purse down on the seat beside her, “Thank-you.”

The host grunted, practically frisbeeing the menu at her before walking away.

Wow, okay. April picked the menu up from the table, flicking it open. She raised the menu higher than necessary to read, cheeks burning red as she felt the eyes from the other patrons boring holes into her face.

Stop it. You have just as much right to be here as they do.


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