How To Outline Your Novel: Vivien Reis


The Backup Girl: First Chapter Free

iStock_83133533_SMALL7This is the first chapter of my young adult novella The Backup Girl. If you like it you can check out more at Smashwords and Amazon.

Chapter One

‘Cora. Clear table five,’ Brent didn’t even lift his head from the polished wooden greeting host station. From the camera’s perspective, it looked like he was simply writing, but I knew he was texting someone. He was always looking for an opportunity to not work as hard as everyone else here. It pisses me off that Mum and Dad still let him get away with this is fucking shit. I do more than three of him.

‘Can I get you guys anything else?’ I said wiping the table a bit too hard.

‘Just the bill,’ said the man. I went and printed it out. I looked it over. They had spent over a hundred dollars. Not a hard thing to do here. It was all that wine they drank. I gave it to them and just as I was about to clock out – boom! I saw her. The most wonderful looking person ever.

She was sitting at table twenty-three. It was in a different section of the restaurant, which was why I hadn’t seen her until now. Everything about her was unique, mesmerising even. Was she even real?

Her ears sparkled under the dim lights, and her black hair shone. I’ve never seen anyone, except Oki, with such pretty, shiny black hair. What was that hairstyle she was wearing? I had never seen someone in this town with such a thing. Shaved sides and by the looks of it, rainbow coloured dreadlocks braided into a section of it. And her arms, covered in tattoos so beautiful and colourful that they were works of art.

But they all paled in comparison to how she held herself. Someone at her table said something and she laughed like no one was looking at her. No woman in this town would dare try to look the slightest bit different, but here she was, wearing that confidence like a crown.

I signed out and rushed into the bathroom. Where was my crown? This woman whose skin was like a rainbow, while I wore a tan to cover my freckles. Which is stupid because it’s winter and I’m wearing long sleeves. I almost feel ashamed to be wearing it. How was that even possible? She wasn’t even doing anything. She was beauty and rainbows. But I’m a Barbie, one of Alice’s group. Everyone at school wants to be us. I bet her Instagram account was better than mine too.

I scrubbed my hands in some hot water and looked out the small high window. Rain droplets sparkled like jewels under the street light.

I exited the building and found that it was even colder than when I had first begun my shift. Thankfully winter was already half over. As I passed my work I looked in through the giant glass panelled windows trying to check out the woman again. Instead, I saw Brent still texting. God, my brother is such a piece of shit.

At least when I go back to school I’ll only have to work three nights a week. The twinkle of The Royal dwindled as I continued along the dark streets for ten minutes before arriving home.

‘Hey Dad,’ I said when I got home. He was reading something on his laptop.

‘Hey, how was work?’

‘The same.’ I saw spreadsheets out on the dining table. It looks like he and Mum had been going over the financials again. They have done this every few months since buying the restaurant. Back then it had been owned by a man who didn’t know how to run a business so he had sunk it within a few years. Mum and Dad did a shit ton of renovations and made it into the best restaurant in the region. It’s won awards and it has a dress code and everything.

I changed into my yoga pants and fluffy bed shirt. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I mean God, she’s unlike anyone I’ve ever seen, well except for people on the internet. It was so obvious that something so wondrous didn’t come from this town. And I was sure as hell she wasn’t going to be staying here either. She was a blow in from a better place heading towards something even better. It was like I should have been honoured with her presence. I bet no matter where she went, her life would be perfect.

I fluffed up my pillow and sometime later heard Brent come home. I checked my phone that was on my bedside table. Midnight already. Mum and Dad would be asleep by now. But they’d be awake soon if Brent continued like he was. I heard him talking on his phone as he walked through the downstairs of the house.

‘You see that chick with the coloured dreads?’

I didn’t hear the response.

‘I know; I would never fuck a chick that shaved her head.’

Well Brent, there was no point even thinking that you had a chance. She’d never even consider fucking you. In fact, she doesn’t care one bit what you or anyone else thinks of her. Urgh, why can’t I be like that?

How I make my DIY book covers

As a character trait, I’m more than frugal, I’m a bit cheap. This bleeds over into my writing. I try to do as much as possible myself. Writing, editing, book covers.

So I’m going to write about my techniques for creating my book covers. While I have a creative flair for storytelling, it doesn’t necessarily cross over to design. I have practically zero graphic design training. Red flags when creating my own book cover right? Well, I employ the KISS method.

Keep It Simple, Stupid. 


Most times, before I even finish the first draft of my story, I’m on iStock looking at potential images to use. Things that I look for is that it is a representation of a theme or idea. This means I am not limiting the interpretation of my book. I can have anywhere from 20 images to over 200. The more I have in a folder, the more likely I haven’t found something I like yet.


I keep things simple because like I said before I don’t have much experience in graphic design. The program I’ve always used has been It’s a simple photoshop website. I’m sure there are more advanced features of the site, but I only how to use the simple things. I think eventually I might have to employ someone, but not until it is absolutely necessary.

Here are the book covers I have created myself in


Are you really a writer if you’ve never done a NaNoWriMo?


Despite taking my writing career seriously I have never participated in NaNoWriMo . . . ever.

I’ve signed up to the website, but that was years ago. I don’t exactly know why, but I suspect that in earlier years I didn’t have the courage the try something and then fail it. Or maybe that I hadn’t worked out how to plan and maximise my time. I’m still a bit disorganized.

Nowadays I don’t think I need to be prompted to write my stories like this. I’m mostly capable of sitting down and pushing myself to vomit out that sea of text. I mean I should be disciplined enough by now.

My greatest writing achievement (besides self-publishing and completing a creative writing degree) is that I wrote about 115,000 words in 57 days (that book is still on the backburner). I didn’t need NaNoWriMo to prompt me. It was the urge of a new bitching story that brought me in.

So will I fail to start it next year? Most likely.



Feet or Fins: Read prologue for free

Beautiful-yet-unhuman-501951291_If you liked this first chapter then check out the rest on Smashwords and Amazon.


Unwittingly the town of Blue Bottle Bay held witness to the triennial migration of a family of Mira. A self-appointed term that describes the inhabitants of certain oceanic regions, like individuals in a country. To land dwellers they would simply be known as mermaids.

Because there are no records, it is not exactly known for how long or how many times the Mira have been migrating past this place. But their oral history indicates that it has been occurring since before the presence of land dwellers.

The initial attraction had been the bountiful coral reefs, followed by the rocky coastline and the isolation. Their migration routes regularly intersected with places like these. Whether they liked or not, Mira were not suited to a continuous life in open and deep waters. They were shallow water creatures that needed to live periods of their life on land. These migration stops were oases in a desolate world.

Before the arrival of land dwellers, Blue Bottle Bay was a paradise. Mira could come and go from the land without fear. But that is no more and there are too many chances of being seen. They can no longer afford to linger in the area. Their traditional lifestyle of vaulting from places living off the land and sea following the path created by their ancestors was becoming less viable.

To compensate they adjusted their habitation times at the other remaining places, ensuring that they kept to the rigid seasonal schedule. If they arrived too early or too late at certain places then they ran the risk of arriving during an infertile season. Furthermore, while Blue Bottle Bay was acceptable, it was not the best of places. It only had one cave for protection and even that was difficult to access. So now the Mira swim past the town out in the open sea.

*          *          *          *          *

It was during one of these migrations that Emaleah’s curiosity took her closer than she had ever been before. Myliah, her twin sister held her back.

I want to see them close up, Ema communicated in her and the rest of her family in their groups’ sign language. Their reluctance showed. She was still young, having only left the nursery island a hundred or so lunar cycles ago. They hadn’t anticipated that she would want to leave so soon.

But there comes a time for most Mira when they need to venture on land in search of a mate. But Myli didn’t want to accompany her sister and for the first time in their lives, they were going to be apart from each other.

You’re younger than most, she signed, trying to dissuade Ema.

But not the youngest.

I don’t want you to leave.

Sorry Myli, but I want to go ashore.

Ema’s words stung. Her sister had never wanted to leave her before. But she couldn’t stop her. If she wanted to chase after mates then there was no stopping her.

Once again Ema was given all the warnings that she had ever heard throughout her life.

Don’t let them see your tail.

You must have your feet.

You must never tell them about us.

Be prepared to kill.

Ema didn’t think of herself as stupid, or cruel. If a land dweller found out what you were then, for the protection her kind, they had to be killed. It was a brutal tradition, but it had worked since The First Mira. While she felt that there was something wrong with this blanket rule, she knew of its importance. Without it, they would not exist.

But it was obvious that there were times when this rule had not been carried out. Multiple land dweller societies had myths that involved sea creatures similar to them. It could not be a coincidence and it was a topic of contention for Mira everywhere. Sirens, a feared and respected faction of Mira society, held great enmity towards this idea. Ema swam towards the shore, facing upwards skirting along the seabed. She felt like she was about to burst; she was going to see them. A dark foreign shape glided overhead. Ema looked at it intently. Land dweller legs and feet dangled down from it. This is it.

When her head broke through the water she saw a young man on a surfboard swimming away from her, heading towards the incoming waves. Ema watched him stand up on his surfboard and then ride the wave.

It’s a surfer, she thought, male land dwellers that ride waves and water. Her family had told her in particular about these ones. When she was just a child her grandmothers had made her and Myli giggle at what they said. ‘They’re good for breeding. They strong sires for your children. If you ever come across a great water rider try not to let him get away.’

Ema wondered if her family could handle another child. She was old enough to produce one. But migrations were time and energy consuming, and there were fewer and fewer places for them to reside in. And she had to time it right too; it was dangerous to give birth in open water.

Ema saw that the now resting surfer was drifting away from her. She swam towards him and perched herself on the board. She sank it further into the water. The young man turned around looking confused.

‘Hi,’ said Ema.

The young man looked to be about seventeen or eighteen. Ema stared at his body; all the muscles were in all the right places. He had an average looking face and his brownish hair was bleached by the sun. Ema smiled. His hazel eyes were wide; he then looked towards the shore.

‘You swam all the way out here?’ he asked disbelievingly.

‘What other way could I get here,’ Ema replied coyly.

The land dweller stared at Ema again.

‘Are you naked?’ he asked with even more disbelief. He could not see her wearing a bikini top. Not even one of those strapless ones. ‘What need do I have of clothes, they only hinder me.’

His mouth was agape; he couldn’t believe what he was seeing or hearing. Ema saw this as a good sign; it meant that she had his attention.

‘I was watching you on the waves. You’re pretty good. I’d like to get to know you more.’

The young man was still speechless. He couldn’t believe what was before him. And he had never come across a girl so forward before.

‘My name’s Emaleah, but Ema for short, what’s yours?’ she asked him.

‘Uhhhh Darryl,’ he replied.

‘Would you like to get to know me?’

‘Yeah,’ Darryl said before he could stop himself.

‘Well, meet me at that lagoon tomorrow at noon, I’ll be waiting for you.’ Ema said before disappearing underwater.

Darryl couldn’t believe what he just saw. This girl was out of this world. She wasn’t too bad looking either. Though her chest looked almost non-existent. She looked like she was about his age as well. Her face was mature yet youthful. From his brief encounter, Ema looked like that she might be a bit on the short side. Also, he didn’t like boy hair on women, but he wasn’t about to complain. She was the first girl to ever be so forward with him. Well apart from Robyn, but she had that aggressive streak that worried him. Why couldn’t other girls be more like this one?