The Apple Of My Compound Eye

Submitted for Contest #63 in response to: Write about two characters going apple picking.... view prompt

66 comments

Oct 17, 2020

Creative Nonfiction Funny




Once upon a time, there was a beautiful butterfly. She flapped her sapphire wings under a cloudy sky, hoping to find someplace to lay her eggs.




She flew near and far, high and low, but she couldn’t find what she was looking for. She was about to give up when a patch of green appeared amongst the endless grey buildings.




“I reckon that’s the perfect spot,” she decided.




She fluttered down and was delighted to find a garden. An apple tree brimming with juicy leaves stood in the middle, and she was drawn to it like one of her distant relatives to a flame.




(Poor Alastair.)




After landing on a leaf that was greener and tastier-looking than the rest, the beautiful butterfly finally laid her eggs.




“That’s the last of ‘em,” she sighed as she pushed the final one out of her ovipositor.




She gave each egg a quick smooch with the tip of her proboscis. But she hesitated at the last one, which was looking a little paler than its siblings.




“You’ll be alright,” she reassured, giving it an extra long smooch.




With her life’s mission completed, she flew away. The birds didn’t scare her anymore.




Three days later, the first egg hatched. The caterpillar wasn’t much bigger than a pen nib, but he knew how to get bigger. First, he gobbled up what was left of his eggshell. “Waste not, want not,” he recited. Then, he turned to the scrumptious green leaf under his six legs and ten prolegs; this one tasted much better.




He was soon joined by the rest of his brood; they too devoured their eggshells—“Waste not, want not,” they sang in unison—before whittling down the leaf.




Except for one. This caterpillar didn’t crawl out of her egg until the leaf was nothing but a sad strip of green.




“Hello?” squeaked the Very Late Caterpillar. Nobody replied because her siblings had left to find more leaves a long time ago.




The Very Late Caterpillar sighed ruefully. She muttered a quiet “Waste not, want not,” before eating her eggshell. Her hind gut still rumbled, so she set off down the branch to look for a leaf.




She searched high and low, near and far; as fast as her stubby first instar legs would allow it. But all the leaves were gone.




She was about to curl up and die when something caught her compound eye. It was big and red and looked a million times juicier than a leaf.




She crawled across a branch until she was right above the big, red, juicy thing. But before she could set foot on it, one of her brothers poked his head through a hole.




“This apple is mine,” he spat. “Find your own, Sister.”




“May I have a bite?”




“No. This is what happens when you are the last to hatch.” He paused to think. “There are apples higher up in the tree. If you are lucky, the rest of our brothers and sisters won’t have claimed them yet.”




And so the Very Late Caterpillar climbed onto the next branch. She was overjoyed to find another apple. She was not overjoyed to be chased away by another sibling.




“Hello!” called an aphid from a nearby leaf. “You seem to be having trouble finding a meal. Would you care for a drop of honeydew?”




The Very Late Caterpillar was thrilled. “Yes, please!”




“Alright. Bottoms up!”




A golden bead of honeydew appeared on the aphid’s backside. The Very Late Caterpillar crawled over and lapped it up. She was so hungry she didn’t care that the aphid moaned loudly the whole time she did it.




“Thank you,” she said as she happily licked her mandibles. “But why did you help me?”




“Because in exchange, I want you to never tell a soul about me. Us aphids have lots of predators, you know.”




The Very Late Caterpillar was satisfied with the honeydew. But she still wanted to know what an apple tasted like. So, the next day, she climbed onto the branch above.




“Piss off, you six-legged twat,” hissed the sibling that popped out of the third apple.




The Very Late Caterpillar sighed and decided to munch on some nearby leaves. That was when a shadow fell over her.




“You’ll make a lovely snack,” rumbled the ladybird.




“Please don’t eat me,” squeaked the Very Late Caterpillar.




“I have to, because there aren’t any aphids around.”




“There are plenty of aphids on the branch below!”




The ladybird peered over the edge of the leaf. He made a grunt of approval. “You are right. Aphids happen to be my favorite food. That is why us ladybirds are a gardener’s best friend. As a reward, I will not eat you, and I will answer one question.”




The Very Late Caterpillar mulled it over. “Why are you called ‘Ladybird’ even though you’re not a bird?”




“Because this story is set in the UK.”




The Very Late Caterpillar ate her fill. She still craved the flavor of an apple, so the next day she climbed onto the branch above.




“Jog on, you maggot,” growled the sibling inside the fourth apple.




The Very Late Caterpillar had to satisfy herself on boring old leaves. That was when a bigger shadow fell over her.




“Ah, there’s nothing quite like a fat, juicy caterpillar for brunch,” remarked the assassin bug as she polished her proboscis.




“I can’t die yet,” protested the Very Late Caterpillar. “I’m just a larva!”




“Yes, it is unfortunate. If only there were some fat, scrumptious ladybirds that could fill me up instead.”




“I met a ladybird yesterday. He went to eat the aphids two branches down.”




The assassin bug ruffled her antennae. “And where there are aphids, there are bound to be lots and lots of ladybirds. You are clever for a larva. As a reward for impressing me, I won’t pierce your soft body and suck out your insides like a smoothie. I will also allow one question.”




The Very Late Caterpillar mulled it over. “What’s a smoothie?”




“It is something humans eat using a plastic proboscis.”




The Very Late Caterpillar wanted to ask what a human was, but she was only allowed one question, and let’s be honest here, she was in no mood to challenge an insect that quite literally had the word “assassin” in its name.




In her search for another apple, she climbed to the branch above. She waited for another sibling to pop out of the red skin, but all was silent. Could it be? Has she finally found her apple?




Before she could set foot on it, a rustling of leaves made her hesitate. The biggest shadow yet fell over her.




“Aha!” exclaimed the ugly giant. “This apple looks about ripe.”




“It’d better be,” called a second voice from somewhere far below. It was followed by a gagging sound. “Gross! All these apples have worms in them.”




The ugly giant had pale, watery eyes instead of compound eyes. It had fleshy skin instead of a hard exoskeleton. It also seemed to breathe through two holes above its mouth instead of spiracles on the side of its body. The Very Late Caterpillar figured this was the "human" that the assassin bug was talking about.




It really was ugly.




A massive appendage reached out. It stopped before it could claim the apple.




“Hey. Is this yours, little buddy?”




The Very Late Caterpillar nodded sheepishly.




“Who the bloody hell are you talking to?” came the voice from below.




“A caterpillar,” replied the ugly giant. “It doesn’t want me to pick the apple.”




“Jesus Christ, are you on drugs again?”




The ugly giant descended the tree on strange metal branches. “You should’ve seen the face it was making. It would be like taking candy from a baby.”




“Maybe I ought to take your candy…”




Surprised that things were looking up for a change, the Very Late Caterpillar burrowed into the apple and ate. She ate until her mandibles were sore. She ate until her gut was bloated. She ate until she was sick of apples.




Months passed. The Very Late Caterpillar ate all the leaves she could find, using her wit to get out of sticky situations. There was always plenty of food now that her siblings were nowhere to be seen.




The Very Late Caterpillar shed her skin every time she got too big for it. This is called “ecdysis,” but since no one knows how the fuck you pronounce that word, we’ll use “molting” instead. One day, she molted to reveal a chrysalis underneath. She hung from a branch while she secretly experienced a transformation. It was all she could do. She couldn’t walk, eat, or poop. Only wait.




Weeks passed. A beautiful butterfly with sapphire wings emerged from the chrysalis. She waited for her wings to dry. Afterwards, she flapped her wings for the first time. She flew up and up and up, higher than the apple tree. It was time to find a mate and begin the cycle once again.




As she gazed at the patch of green below, she thought of the beings that helped her along the way. She thought of the aphid that offered her honeydew in exchange for protection. The ladybird and the assassin bug, who both let her live. And the ugly giant that let her have an apple with nothing in return.




The Beautiful Butterfly wished that insects could be more like humans.


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66 comments

Leilani Lane
22:10 Oct 18, 2020

Had me interested right at the title, lol. Also, The Very Late Caterpillar... wow, hit of nostalgia there even with the slightly altered name... Thanks for encouraging me to Google "ovipositor," which then led me down a rabbit hole of butterfly reproduction that I did not think was going to be a part of my day today. Overall, a very unique and hilarious read! Someone else mentioned toning it down to use as a children's story... NO, PLEASE DO NOT. (No hate to the commenter, I just really loved this style!) Please create a collection of...

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Rayhan Hidayat
02:03 Oct 19, 2020

Thanks! This is the strangest story I’ve ever written so I’m glad you got a kick out of it 😂 I’ve always been fond of insects (Biology major right here) so I thought it might be fun to make an educational story, even though caterpillars eating apples is complete B.S lol. You’ve given me an idea regarding an insect-themed series. I might actually do that 🤔 Those are all awesome suggestions but unfortunately my story just got approved 😅 I’m guilty of using passive voice every now and then, I’ll keep it in mind for my next story 😉 Thanks for...

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Leilani Lane
14:32 Oct 20, 2020

Ooooo, biology major, that's awesome! So cool. I feel like you could write so many fun stories with that as a background. My favorite animal of all time is an emperor penguin, so if you're ever struggling for a subject, I'm requesting that as the animal for a story. ;) They get approved so fast! No worries, tiny edits anyways. :)

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Rayhan Hidayat
00:59 Oct 21, 2020

Ooh like a story in the style of Happy Feet? That could actually be pretty cool... Stay stuned for a penguin story 😉

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Leilani Lane
02:34 Oct 21, 2020

Damn, you can't tell me that, now I'm going to get impatient!! XD

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Rayhan Hidayat
02:38 Oct 21, 2020

Haha maybe not this week though. When the right prompt comes up, I’ll be sure to! 😙

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Lina Ozz
04:45 Oct 18, 2020

"The Very Late Caterpillar shed her exoskeleton every time she got too big for it. This is called 'ecdysis,' but since no one knows how the fuck you pronounce that word, we’ll use 'molting' instead." This is my very favorite line, ever. I love this one. It has a different flair than some of your others that I've read, yet still is just as descriptive, poetic, and creative. And I laughed a lot throughout this one. I'm going to use "six-legged twat" as my go-to insult now.

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Rayhan Hidayat
05:26 Oct 18, 2020

Thanks, glad I could make you laugh 😂 I’ve never written anything remotely like this before so I’m thrilled that people are enjoying it

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Lina Ozz
05:29 Oct 18, 2020

Yup––you've got a knack for it. Keep me updated if you write another story in this style (but also, keep me updated for any new story that you write too lol)

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Rayhan Hidayat
05:30 Oct 18, 2020

Will do! And likewise 😉

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I laughed my ass off all through this. You know you're in for a treat when the word ovipositor turns up. 😂

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Rayhan Hidayat
01:15 Oct 18, 2020

Thanks, glad I could give you a laugh 😂

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Laura Clark
18:13 Oct 22, 2020

Oh my. God. This is brilliant. I love the tone of it so much that I want to scoop the tone up and carry it round with me like one of those handbag dogs. The contrast of the soft children’s voice with the swearing and the murdery betrayal is so damn funny and works so well. You’ve used it just the right amount as well - each time I think you’ve properly settled into the children’s story tone, you throw in a ‘six legged twat’. Also great to see one my favourite insults used. I am intrigued as to what other countries call ladybirds thou...

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Rayhan Hidayat
18:30 Oct 22, 2020

Believe it or not this was originally gonna be a pure, semi-educational children’s tale in the same vein as Eric Carle’s picture book that I may or may not have parodied here, but I got bored halfway through writing and decided to add my own spice to the mix 😜 I’m so thrilled that people actually enjoy it, and i might even do some more stories in this style at the insistence of Bianka and Leilani. My biology teacher in highschool made a point about how the American term “ladybug” is apparently nonsensical. So yeah, it’s just another cook...

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Laura Clark
19:07 Oct 22, 2020

I’m so glad it didn’t end up as a pure educational story. It’s way better this way.

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Ben Franklin
20:24 Oct 19, 2020

Lol. Loved the waste not, want not chant. Awesome story!

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Rayhan Hidayat
20:28 Oct 19, 2020

Wow, I’m flattered that a Founding Father likes my story 😮 Thanks Ben!

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Malz Castell
14:25 Nov 13, 2020

Wow, this was amazing! I loved your interpretation of this prompt. I really liked the fact that this was written from the POV of a caterpillar. I loved the tone of the story and your writing was flawless. The last line was perfect and kind of ironic since the caterpillar herself had betrayed the aphid who given her honeydew in exchange for protection. Great work. I truly enjoyed this. :)

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Rayhan Hidayat
16:36 Nov 13, 2020

Thank you! The irony in that last line was exactly what I was going for! 😙

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Malz Castell
18:24 Nov 13, 2020

Yes, I loved it. It was awesome.

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Amany Sayed
14:19 Oct 24, 2020

Hello! After all your amazing commentary on my stories that never cease to put a smile on my face, I decided to come over and check out a story of yours! And wow-ee, I am GLAD I did. This was sooo funny! That last sentence is great. There were some parts where it was just so calm. This was such a cool idea for a story. Keep writing! :D

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Rayhan Hidayat
15:01 Oct 24, 2020

Haha no worries 😉 And thanks, glad you could stop by!

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Amany Sayed
15:18 Oct 24, 2020

No problem!

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A.dot Ram
05:15 Oct 24, 2020

Yesss! I smiled all the way through. Loved the very specific Caterpillar anatomy. It didn't feel at all like i was reading a wikipedia article, which means you did it right. Loved the way the caterpillars talked to each other like siblings, and overall just how the hungry caterpillar story grew up with its readers. I will probably be googling the symbiosis between caterpillars and aphids in the near future.

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Rayhan Hidayat
05:21 Oct 24, 2020

I believe ants and aphids have a symbiotic relationship, but not aphids and caterpillars! 😂 There’s a lot of fictional elements here along with actual facts, just to spice things up, so please take this story with a grain of salt! Glad you enjoyed! 😙

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A.dot Ram
05:45 Oct 24, 2020

The honeydew seemed like it could be a real thing. It grabbed me.

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A.dot Ram
05:16 Oct 24, 2020

Also how did I miss this? Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Did you ever read my first, The Little World?

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Rayhan Hidayat
05:56 Oct 24, 2020

No but I’m putting that on my mental to do list!!

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A.dot Ram
06:20 Oct 24, 2020

If i had known you then i wrote it, i might have said it was for you!

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Molly Leasure
15:37 Oct 17, 2020

Haha! This is a wonderfully morbid piece. I love that the butterfly is so absorbed in her own survival that she sacrifices everyone else without a second thought. Darn evil little thing. I always knew butterflies were evil... Well done, well done! I loved this :)

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Rayhan Hidayat
15:51 Oct 17, 2020

Thanks a bundle! I like to think there's often something sinister hidden beneath beautiful things :)

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Bianka Nova
14:34 Oct 17, 2020

Hey, you started with a rayhanism right away!😁 I think if you tone down the language a bit, this could be a lovely children's book. Make your sister do the illustrations et voilà! Not that it's not great like that too. I'm just saying 😉 I have just one suggestion for improvement: "she thought of the people that helped her along the way" - make people "beings" or "creatures" or something along those lines, as she only met one human (who was "people"). Two honorable mentions, a.k.a. LOL moments: - “Waste not, want not,” he recited. ...

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Rayhan Hidayat
14:45 Oct 17, 2020

Haha thanks! I actually did want to do something in the style of a children's book at first, but then I got bored halfway through and added my own flair. Do you think it works as a sort of tongue-in-cheek, dry-humor parody of a children's book? I might just turn it into a pure kids story if you think it's a little coarse. This was fun to write but I'm not sure how fun it is to read... And I'll make that edit, thanks a million as always ;)

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Bianka Nova
14:56 Oct 17, 2020

Oh, no no. Don't change it. It works very well. My children's book idea was just a suggestion for some side activity 😉 The fact that I get other ideas by reading your work means it's very good, not the other way around. (Since it can inspire even more creativity) 😊 P.S. By the way, the Wingbeat fanfic did start to take shape in my head. I think, I AM going to do it. I'm just waiting for the right prompt. This week's ones are a bit strange... maybe if I turn a Gotic manor house into an office building... 🤔

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Rayhan Hidayat
15:06 Oct 17, 2020

Ah. Well. Always glad I can (inadvertantly) inspire others ;) I'm so excited, you have no idea. This week's prompts are pretty good but you're right, they don't work with a thriller about a guy who can see into the future. Maybe the office building used to be the site of a gothic manor house, and there was a remnant of magic from long ago that caused the protag to see into the future?? Idk, I'm just spitballing here :P

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Bianka Nova
12:24 Oct 18, 2020

Haha. I think a magical element would make it a whole third type of a story. I guess I'll have a draft standing by, waiting for the right prompt. As long as it's thriller-related and/or contemporary I think it would do. 😊

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Rayhan Hidayat
12:30 Oct 18, 2020

Yeah I was really grasping for straws there 😅 In the meantime, I shall eagerly await

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04:52 Oct 17, 2020

YESSS YOU MADE IT INNNN!!!!!! Wow, Alastair? Posh name! (guess where that came from! 😂) That last line, though... I can relate, being a hypocrite myself. Well done! The animal POV was very refreshing. I think I want to be that butterfly - betraying others and getting stuff in return... that's the good life!

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Rayhan Hidayat
13:05 Oct 17, 2020

Yep, just barely 😅 HAHA yeah I remember now. Maybe I was subconsciously inspired by your story 🤔 And thanks! I’m glad I could make a butterfly of all things relatable.

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23:19 Oct 18, 2020

Haha, IKR! I'm glad you managed to get it in in time! Hmm, maybe? That would be so freaking cool, though... HAHA, I started questioning my sanity when I realized that the character was a butterfly, not a human. Like, whoa. Where did life just take me??

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04:06 Oct 17, 2020

GAH I wanted to be first, guess I'll settle for second😪 But yes this was interesting, your creativity is surprising and just amazing cause who woulda thought of making a story about a caterpillar. And waiittt was that last part of the story sarcastic cause didn't she give away all their secrets! It was definitely! OMG! WAIT IT IS SARCASTIC- (I think) the insects helped her..and she ended up betraying them. First the aphid helped her in exchange of her keeping his secret and she ended up telling someone else. And someone else. They do any...

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Rayhan Hidayat
04:13 Oct 17, 2020

Thanks! I’ve never written a story from an animal’s POV before so I figured why not? 😝 And yep, you got it! That’s the irony of it—she’s a bit of a hypocrite. And yeah, basically she’s doing the exact same thing humans do. Maybe we’re not so different from animals after all 😉 Have you ever read a kid’s book called The Very Hungry Caterpillar? This is kinda like a parody of that lol. Hence why it has that sorta tone. Thanks for the encouragement as always!! 😙

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04:27 Oct 17, 2020

😂😂 Why am I literally finding(guessing) all the places you found all your inspirations from??😭 I knew it!!! The fact that I got that right makes me so happy! And maybee! Yes I have! I knew this story reminded me of something! I knew it!!😂 Also I might have given you a buncha points....eh..all I know is that it was at 1500 and its now at 1800 and I wanted it to be to be 2000 but I ran out of stories.😪. I don't know why I do these things😂 but your amazing and you definitely deserve it!!! Anyyyytimmeee!!

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Rayhan Hidayat
13:00 Oct 17, 2020

Maybe you’re just sharper than you think 😉 Oh shucks, you didn’t have to do that!! 😅 I’m honestly not too concerned about points and the leaderboard, I’m just here to get better as a writer (and hopefully win!) but I’m very flattered. Thanks. If you need any writing advice/critique or someone to discuss your novel with, I’ve got your back, alright? 😉

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17:30 Oct 17, 2020

🤭 Yeahhh I wanna win or get shortlisted at least once or twice but I don't think I'm as good as the people who are winning. So I'll just stay right here🤐. And yeahhh I'll take up that offer sooner or later..😌

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Rayhan Hidayat
04:24 Oct 17, 2020

And don’t worry about being second to comment! I appreciate how insightful yours is 😉

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Ray Dyer
23:53 Oct 20, 2020

This was a fun read, and there were a few lines that leapt out as particularly fun! "(Poor Alastair.)" "She was about to curl up and die when something caught her compound eye. " “Because this story is set in the UK.” Maybe the neatest thing about this story is the way it dances from child's story to crude adult humor. It's kind of like Lemony Snicket on drugs, which is intended to be a compliment... There's some language that feels a little incongruous with the rest of the story, but it goes to show that caterpillars have tru...

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Rayhan Hidayat
01:05 Oct 21, 2020

Haha thanks so much! “dances from child's story to crude adult humor” is what I was going for, and this was my first attempt at something like this so the feedback really helps for the next story written in this style 😉

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Radhika Diksha
05:29 Oct 19, 2020

I loved the way you wrote science in the story. Even I'm a science student but I never remembered the whole process but when I read your story I remembered everything even without rot memorization. Your story has wit, humor, kindness and message. Keep writing and if you have time please give your feedback on my story too..once again loved your story

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Rayhan Hidayat
06:08 Oct 19, 2020

Thanks so much, I’m glad the science managed to get through! 😙 I’ve checked out your apple picking story, it was awesome!

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Radhika Diksha
07:05 Oct 19, 2020

actually I was talking about my other story and thanks for giving feedback for apple of my eye

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Stephen Closson
02:07 Oct 19, 2020

"The Very Late Caterpillar mulled it over. “Why are you called ‘Ladybird’ even though you’re not a bird?” “Because this story is set in the UK.”" Oh man, this exchange was hilarious. This is a great story, and I really enjoyed the direction you took with the prompt and the style you chose to go with. Awesome job, as always!

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Rayhan Hidayat
03:08 Oct 19, 2020

Thanks as always, glad I could give you a chuckle ;)

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B. W.
22:57 Oct 18, 2020

Hm, i really enjoyed this story and i think you did a great job with it ^^ I'm not entirely sure if you want some sort of advice, though i'll say that you should keep making stories. I'm going to give this a 10/10 :) also i really like your bio.

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Rayhan Hidayat
02:06 Oct 19, 2020

Aw yes another 10/10!! I really like my bio too 😜

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B. W.
02:22 Oct 19, 2020

Yep ^^ i'm excited to see more of your stories :)

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Yolanda Wu
23:41 Oct 17, 2020

This was such a different and refreshing story, Rayhan! It's been a while since I read a story from the perspective of a caterpillar/butterfly. It was so interesting, and the language you use balances between humorous, but also illustrating the cruelty of nature and this time, the kindness of humans. The biological terminology seems legit to someone studying year eleven biology, lol - I'm dropping next year. I love how the story goes full circle and she goes from being the Very Late Caterpillar, to the Beautiful Butterfly, it's very poetic. ...

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Rayhan Hidayat
01:26 Oct 18, 2020

Thanks, this is me trying something new lol. And yeah, this is a mix of legit biological facts and utter bullshit 😂 Caterpillars don’t eat apples!! Loving the Rhyvahr pic, btw 😉 Did I ever tell you my pic is also a character from the novel I’m writing? Maybe it’s just a thing us fantasy writers do lol

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Yolanda Wu
02:12 Oct 18, 2020

Ahh yess! I'm glad you noticed it - I did put it in my bio, but you're the first person to comment about it. I was kinda just laying in bed, and I thought of how my friend had done a drawing of Rhyvahr, and I was like yEs. And no, you haven't told me about your profile pic, I suppose it is just a fantasy writer thing, lol.

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Rayhan Hidayat
02:22 Oct 18, 2020

We need these people in our life, so they can bring our characters to life in ways that we can't :P (Though I am trying and failing to get better at drawing)

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Yolanda Wu
03:08 Oct 18, 2020

Yeah, I'm so lucky to have a friend who's talented at art, she does all my book covers as well.

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Rayhan Hidayat
03:24 Oct 18, 2020

Oh, nice! 😮 I know you’ve finished a few books, but did you actually get them published?

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Yolanda Wu
05:45 Oct 22, 2020

Hi Rayhan, just letting you know that I have a new story out, would greatly appreciate your thoughts on it. :)

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