About the Story
The Imperfect's Journal is a Wattpad exclusive (for the time being) prequel to Chainbreaker. It is told in diary-like installments, written by a young man who suffers from severe memory loss. The author of the journals, Darren Stratt, is trying to get to Australia in order to reunite with his beloved Sara McKenzie. His journey takes him all over the world and unites him with hundreds of different people.
While every novel in the Coldheart world is a social commentary at its core, The Imperfect's Journal is primarily a story of love and survival. No matter the cost and no matter the hurdles, Darren continues to push forward, keeping his beloved Sara in his heart at all times.
The story is split into four parts. Part one is wrapping up at the end of this month, meaning the second part will pick up on July 1st. A new entry is consistently added every day, usually in the early hours of the morning. Each of these entries takes less than a minute to read.
Today, The Imperfect's Journal hit 1,000 reads on Wattpad. This was so encouraging to see! I am extremely grateful for every single one of my readers on Wattpad. Your continued support is greatly appreciated.
How to Support the Story
Honestly, the best way to support the story is to keep reading or tell friends you think would enjoy The Imperfect's Journal. However, if you want to go the extra mile, you can create a Wattpad account and use it to vote and comment on every entry. This will help pull the story out of Wattpad's depths so that more people see it!
Read the novel here.
While trying to edit Chainbreaker and keep up with The Imperfect's Journal, I have decided that I need another creative outlet: short stories set in the Coldheart universe, mainly following side characters who have little to do with the main story. So, without further ado, here is the first one: Adalynn Rose.
The hefty gauntlet slid easily from Adalynn's delicate hand, exposing its paleness which contrasted with the dark tone present on the rest of her skin. Her uncovered fingers reached out and gently touched the forearm of a stranger who was seated beside her at the bar. Where her fingers met his skin, a small purple marking appeared.
The man turned to Adalynn, a lustful smile across his lips. His eyes were distant. They always were; no matter the victim, that vacant facial expression always followed Adalynn's touch.
"Buy me a drink?" suggested Adalynn.
The man grinned widely and nodded. While he sought the attention of the barkeep, Adalynn turned her eyes toward the tavern itself. It was loud, like most Servali taverns, but it was also... calm. There were no fights, no dancing, and no arguments; the noise came solely from friends and lovers shouting in a vain attempt to be heard.
A drink was placed in front of Adalynn. She looked up at the man and smiled, nodding her thanks. The empty, soulless smile she received in return was unsettling, but she tried not to reveal her unease. It was the least she could do, given what was about to happen to the stranger.
"Do you have a name?" Adalynn asked.
"Garrett," the man answered eagerly.
"Any family waiting for you, Garrett?" Adalynn pressed, hoping the answet would be no. Most men would have simply lied to a strange woman in a tavern, claiming to be alone even if they were married. Most men, however, weren't under Adalynn's influence. The chemicals she had pressed into Garrett's skin had turned him into a compulsively honest man. They had also amplified his lust, but Adalynn had found that this was typically an unnecessary side effect.
"A wife and two kids," Garrett replied, his bland smile never wavering.
Ugh, Adalynn thought. It was too late, though. She had already started the process. Quietly, she returned her gauntlet to its place on her hand, then slid down from her seat. As she left the tavern through a backdoor, Garrett followed her like a lost pup. They always did.
In the alley behind the bar, Adalynn pressed her back against a brick wall and Garrett pursued her, kissing her neck once it was within reach. Adalynn gave no indication that she was enjoying it. She wasn't, first of all, but she also didn't have to. Any second now, Joseph would--
Garrett slumped to the ground, neck twisted awkwardly. Adalynn brushed off her dress and wiped her neck, then glared at the shrouded man who had appeared behind Garrett.
"You took your time," Adalynn snapped.
Jospeh pulled back his hood to reveal a round, hairless face. His mouth was wide, with its corners stopping a mere inch from his ears. He opened that horrible mouth, exposing numerous pointed teeth and a forked tongue. "Sssorry," he hissed.
"It's done," sighed Adalynn, "dinner is served."
Joseph knelt down and lifted one of Garrett's arms, then took a large bite of the dead man's bicep. "Thanksss," he said, his mouth full of meat.
Adalynn slid down against the wall and propped her arms upon her knees. "I'm so bored here in Serval," she groaned, "Nothing interesting happens. It's all the same."
"Be careful what you wish for," Joseph warned, swallowing a bite before taking another.
"What's that mean?" Adalynn asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Jussst..." Joseph paused and slurped a bit of dangling flesh into his mouth, "rumorsss. Sssomeone isss looking for you."
"Me?" Adalynn whispered, surprised. No one knew her but Joseph--at least, no one alive. Anyone affected by her ability wound up like Garrett. Except...
"Aaron Rhake," said Joseph, his pupilless eyes narrowing, "He believesss you did sssomething to him."
She had. Oh, gods, she had. Aaron had somehow resisted, at least to a degree. Something in him had fought against her influence. She had never experienced anything like it, and he... he had broken. Shattered. He had even become convinced that he genuinely loved her, but it was just a bad reaction to her touch.
Looking back, she should have killed him; she should have put the poor soul out of his misery instead of simply running away from him. It was too late, now. Her past had come back for her.
"He still loves me, then?" Adalynn said.
"Oh, no," the wide-mouthed boy snickered, "he wantsss you dead."
Well, the first page is here.
As everyone who checks this site likely knows by now, I've been editing my novel, Chainbreaker, for nearly a year. The first draft has been finished for quite some time. After going through numerous iterations of the story (often writing more than 200,000 words only to discard each and every one of them), I think Chainbreaker is the perfect beginning to the Coldheart Cycle (previously referred to as the Imperfect Saga).
Right now, I need people who are willing and able to read and critique the first 50 pages within the next two months (critiques will be needed by August 1st, 2018). If you are interested, please contact my Facebook page or Instagram account. Alternatively, you can easily fill out the form at the bottom of this page.
Upon a small land mass known as the Twin Continents, the entirety of the human race struggles beneath the rule of the Seronian Empire. This entity has dictated that individuals with physical or mental disabilities are subhuman, resulting in their suffering, enslavement, and murder. A recent attempt to rebel against the regime has failed, leaving only one single hope for freedom: an infant girl whose race is believed to have been extinguished.
Chainbreaker Extended Summary
An oppressive regime established decades ago continues to inflict suffering upon mentally and physically disabled individuals. The rebellion that attempted to stop this regime has failed, leaving the inhabitants of the Twin Continents to believe that the Seronian Empire will survive until the arrival of the world's end (an arrival that is fast approaching).
Yet, amidst conflict between the empire and the rebellion, a child was born. A child belonging to a race that was believed to be long dead. This little girl could determine the true fate of the world, but who she becomes will be determined by those whose roof is over her head. Will she be rescued by the rebellion? Captured by the empire? Or will she remain in the clutches of the vile man who kidnapped her--a man who intends to use the girl's unique abilities to put himself in power?
In the end, does it truly matter? A world-rotting, life-consuming plague is spreading rapidly across the Twin Continents, threatening the last known place on earth that can still support life, and no one knows how to stop it.
The First Page
Black smoke from the capital city spilled into the rebel encampment, pushed there by a strong gust of wind from the nearby ocean. Helmet-less, poorly-armored soldiers of the Falcon Rebellion coughed heavily as Edward pushed past them, his own helmet protecting him from breathing in too much of the smoke. He glanced up, trying to see the distant capital city. Smog distorted his view, but he could still make out walls, towering buildings, and pillars of fire if he squinted to focus his vision. Edward wiped his visor and kept moving, mercenaries in tow.
Tents shuddered as increasingly strong winds threatened to pull their stakes from the earth and send them tumbling from the campground. Overhead, a flag was pulling away from its post, which was vibrating so fiercely that the rebel emblem its flag was meant to display—a golden falcon stretching its talons toward unseen prey—was distorted and unrecognizable. Soldiers who were standing guard outside of the tents were repeatedly bombarded with clouds of dust that the wind threw into their eyes. The guards who were walking with Edward—mercenaries Edward personally had hired, not rebel soldiers or guards employed by his house—shielded their eyes before they could be hit by a particularly large cloud, then continued to press onward after their client.
No one bothered to ask where Edward was leading the men with such determination. Soldiers would just nod or salute as he passed by, in the rare cases when they could actually see him through the dust and smoke. The only time Edward’s movement was halted was when he reached his destination: a medical tent. Outside of the tent stood two soldiers and a general. The latter individual was distinguished from the other two by the armor he wore: bright-blue metal from head to toe and a helmet featuring a gold-tinted visor. It was similar to the armor that Edward was wearing, though the colors were reversed. Armor of that quality was reserved exclusively for the highest-ranking individuals in the Falcon Rebellion: generals and members of the Talon, like Edward. On the breastplate of each man was the same falcon emblem displayed on the flags throughout the camp. The general’s emblem was gold instead of blue, keeping with the reversed color schemes of their attire.
Apart from the color reversal, there was one other key difference in their attire: Edward wore a blue cloak that was pinned at his left shoulder. The pin resembled a falcon’s eye and had been brushed with the same golden paint as the rest of Edward’s armor. Most everyone in the Falcon Rebellion was aware of what that pin represented.
The general, being one of those who knew what the pin represented, hastily pulled off his own helmet and saluted before addressing Edward. The soldiers who stood on either side of the general saluted as well, but they were more quick to do so since they had no helmets to remove. “Lord Eye,” the general greeted, “how may I assist you?”
“Let me through," answered Edward impatiently, glaring at the man he recognized as Sean Bolte.
General Bolte glanced over his shoulder at the medical tent and turned back to Edward. The general began to respond, but his words were drowned out by an intense gust of wind. Once the din brought about by the powerful wind died down, he tried speaking again. “This is the tent which has been set aside for the Lord Scapular’s wife. She’s just had the child and no one is to enter.”
“I figured this was Donna’s tent, given that they’ve elected a general to guard it,” Edward stated, “that’s why I approached this one; I’m looking for her.”
“Why would you—”
“The Lord Scapular sent me!” Edward snapped, exasperated. “Tobias has requested that I check on the health of the child and report to him back in the field. Please step aside so that I may fulfill his request.”
Sean’s eyes narrowed slightly and his posture tightened. “Lord, the child is well. Donna has given birth to a healthy girl. You may report such to the Lord Scapular, but I was instructed by him not to allow anyone to enter the tent.”
“Surely you understand that he would exclude me from that instruction!” Edward snorted. “I’m a member of the Talon!”
“I have given you the status of the child as requested,” the general declared, “so you may now leave.”
The general’s soldiers seemed to notice that their leader was growing tense, as they began to do the same. They stiffened and looked expectantly toward Sean. Seeing this, the mercenaries behind Edward looked at one another and grinned, excited at the prospect of a fight.
Well, everyone, The Imperfect's Journal is still going after nearly a month! I think this might be the longest I've managed to maintain something that involves daily updates. I have so much planned for this story, though, and I'm always eager to post the next entry.
Since its creation, I've received a couple of common questions about the story and figured I'd take the time to answer them here. If you have any questions, you can always email me using the Contact page on this website!
The most common question that I get about this work--even by people who have admittedly only read the first few entries--is: how many posts are there going to be?
I think the main reason I receive this question is because the journal is split into parts, which suggests that the story is going to be pretty long.
Darren Stratt's story will take place over the course of one year, and will thus end next Spring. I already have the entire story planned out; in fact, I've written entries all the way to July 2066! That's one of the benefits of a short-read, journal-style format; I can write quick entries on my phone and edit them later, ensuring that there will never be a day when I don't have something to post.
Imperfect's Journal is only split into parts because Wattpad has a limit of 200 entries per work. I didn't want to have awkward splits, so instead I'm just having each entry contain 3-4 months of content. Part One will be the shortest of the parts, containing just over two months of content. This will help it seem less daunting to get started. Part Two will contain entries from July, August, September, and October 2066.
Keeping the number of entries down is also important because sometimes there will be multiple entries per day (as there already have been). I hope that the scope of the entries don't daunt too many people; I want this story to be as accessible as possible, which is why I chose Wattpad.
Another common question--or compliment, I guess--that I receive is: you should publish this! Assuming that it's sincere, I greatly appreciate the vote of confidence. However, there are three problems with the idea of publishing this work.
Issue 1) Demand
Votes and comments are what really help bring a story out of the depths of Wattpad, which is riddled with Fifty-Shades-of-Grey level One Direction fanfiction. There are loads of excellent writers on the platform--and I follow several!--but even they don't stand a chance against the tirade of raunchy fan fiction.
I suspect that many of my readers don't actually have Wattpad accounts; they're likely just people who know me from How I Ruined My Life. I won't ask anyone to make an account just to cast their votes for The Imperfect's Journal. Your readership is enough, for me.
Anyway, since I don't have many votes and comments on my story, it's hard to get a big enough audience to make publishing the book worth it. Publication of a novel like How I Ruined My Life took just as long as writing it did (at least, that's how it felt). I don't really want to go through that again for such a small audience. If my audience grows substantially and I leave the One Direction "He spanked me with a microphone" fanfiction in the dust, then maybe I'll consider it.
Issue 2) Detracting from Chainbreaker
Let's not forget that I'm writing The Imperfect's Journal as a prequel to Chainbreaker, which is a story I've been writing and rewriting for several years. This is just an experimental creative outlet and I can't put too much time and energy into it. If I try to work on publishing this, that means reformatting, working with agents/publishers, and trying to pitch the sort of work I've never even tried to pitch, before. That's a lot of time, energy, and money to dedicate to something that isn't even my core work.
Issue 3) The Work is Already Available Online
I mean, this one is really obvious. While it would definitely be convenient to read a physical copy of the book (or to read it using an eReader) so that you wouldn't have to worry about ads, the fact is that most people who want to read The Imperfect's Journal will be looking at it for free. This really detracts from the potential audience of a published version. So, right now, I'm content with having The Imperfect's Journal as nothing more than a creative outlet while I struggle through Chainbreaker's editing phase.
This is my favorite question, because it shows such an interest in my story: what, specifically, defines 'perfect' or 'imperfect'?
My answer is always the same: wait and see. The truth is, the definition changes for both of these things quite regularly. The post hasn't been published at the time of this writing, but one entry in Part One shows a Haitian man fleeing the United States because he believes that in the future, the color of his skin will mark him as an imperfect. The definition changes as those in power become more greedy and more obsessed with their own ideas of purity.
In Chainbreaker, the only non-white characters are part of the Rebellion or the Last Free City. This is a direct result of the perfection regime's influence on the world. Perfection and imperfection are based solely on what will give more power to those who already have it.
Thanks so much for all of your questions, I love hearing from readers. I only know you're there if you comment/vote/PM me, so feel free to announce your presence if you haven't already! If you'd like to read The Imperfect's Journal, you can do so by clicking here.