What I’ve Read This Month

I’m taking a small break from Snow to share with everyone the books I’ve read this month. Even though it’s felt like a slow reading month, I managed to finish a total of 8 books!

Two of the books that I read this month

Two of the books I read this month

Pie by Sarah Weeks

When looking for new books on http://thestorysanctuary.com, I came across a review of this book. Even though it’s for a younger audience, after reading the summary, I couldn’t pass it up. When her beloved Aunt Polly dies, Alice is left with Aunt Polly’s fat old cat Lardo and the memories of her Aunt’s world famous pies. Polly’s pie crust is so famous that people are willing to do anything for it, even catnap Lardo. Alice and her friend Charlie have to solve the mystery of who took Lardo and who broke into her aunt’s pie shop.

God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew with John and Elizabeth Sherrill

The autobiographical story of Brother Andrew’s life and work supporting Christians behind the Iron Curtain. This has to be one of my favorite books I’ve listened to. God’s faithfulness to Andrew in even the smallest areas of his life was both encouraging and inspiring!

The Death Cure by James Dashner

Thomas and his friends decide they have had enough of WICKED. They escape the compound with friends Brenda and Jorge and strike out on their own. This book, the third in the Maze Runner series, was amazing!

The Rule of Thoughts by James Dashner

This is the sequel to Mr. Dashner’s book, The Eye of Minds. I was so excited to read this book, I was first in line at the library to get it! Everything Michael knows about his life is wrong. After finding out what he truly is, Michael tracks down his friends, and together with VirtNet security, they start their hunt for the the rogue computer program, Kaine, who’s intent on murdering gamers in the virtual world of the Sleep.

A Parcel of Patterns by Jill Paton Walsh

Mall lives in the small town of Eyam in the year 1665. One day, a parcel is sent from London to Eyam carrying not only patterns for dresses, but the seeds of the plague with it. The book, based on historical fact, is heartbreakingly sad and sweet. Mall tells the story in journal form of how the plague ravages her town and the people she loves, and the solution the people of Eyam agree to in an attempt to stop this disaster.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The classic horror story of a young governess who accepts the job of taking care of what she believes to be two perfect children. The blissful haven she’s created is soon turned on its head when the governess starts seeing two ghostly figures. When I was reading this novel, I was confused about what was going on and by the vague language being used. After looking it up, it turns out James wrote this ghost story to be intentionally ambiguous.

Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare

Mark Antony rules the Eastern Roman Empire, and Cleopatra is the Queen of Egypt. Two of the most powerful people in their world are caught up in a passionate love affair that eventually costs them their empires and their lives.

The Iliad by Homer

The Iliad is the oldest known work of Western literature. It’s the epic poem of Achilles’s wrath and how it affects the Greeks and Trojans fighting over the beautiful woman Helen. I read this for school and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

What books have you been reading recently? Have you read any of the books on my list? Do you have any suggestions for me? If so, leave a comment below! 🙂

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Weekly Writing Wrap-Up: September 19 – 25

Welcome to my Weekly Writing Wrap-Up for this week.

Total Word Count for the Week: 2,355

Top Writing Day: My top writing day was Tuesday with 1,158 words.

What I Worked On: I worked on editing Snow (a little bit) and writing my novel idea.

The Good News: I’m starting to really love Lux and her story even though I was unsure about it at first.

The Bad News: I missed a bunch of editing this week because I’ve been so busy, and I missed my goal. :/

Lesson Learned: I’ve been doing pretty well making sure to edit Snow, but this week I got so busy I didn’t get much done. My lesson learned is that sometimes I’m just too busy, and I have to not get stressed and let it go for a time.

Goal for Next Week: My goal is to get back on track this week and finish editing this chapter!

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Grammar Rule – How to Steal An Apple Using Commas

Disclaimer: I do not own Merry or Pippin. They simply dropped by on their way home from Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday party (which was on September 22nd) and asked if they could help me out. Of course, I said yes. They’d like to take this moment to wish Frodo and Bilbo a happy belated birthday. 🙂

Pippin was walking to Merry’s house when he saw the biggest, juiciest, reddest apple he’d ever seen just sitting on a barrel. Pippin’s stomach growled. He could almost taste the crisp fruit from where he was standing. Pippin looked both ways and then darted over, snatched the apple up, and polished it on his shirt. He was about to take a big bite when a shout came from behind him.

“Pippin! That apple is mine not yours! I just put it there a minute ago.”

Pippin turned around to see his friend Merry standing there, very miffed. He folded his arms across his chest as he glared at Pippin.

Pippin looked at the apple, then back to his friend. Something Merry had said bothered him. “Merry, you forgot a comma!”

Merry shook his head. “I know there was no need for a comma in that sentence! You’re just trying to distract me as you run off with MY apple.”

Pippin shook his head. “No, Merry. I’m pretty sure you’re missing a comma!”

Oh no! Who was going to solve this grammar mystery? Was Pippin just trying to steal a snack or was he really concerned for his friend’s comma usage? Read on to find out! 😉

Contrasting Commas

“This is my precious, not your precious!” Gollum told Sméagol.

When you have contrasting parts of a sentence, a comma is needed between the two parts. In this example, Gollum is contrasting “my precious” with “your precious,” so a comma is needed between the two.

Aragorn never takes a bath, unlike Legolas who takes three baths a day.

Words like “not,” “never,” and “unlike” often indicate a contrast. In this sentence, Aragorn’s bathing habits are being contrasted with Legolas’s, so a comma is needed between the two parts of the sentence.

Denathor always compliments Boromir, never Faramir.

There is a “never” between Boromir and Faramir, which shows they are being contrasted. That means a comma is again needed.

That apple is mine, not yours!

Sorry Merry, but Pippin was right. The “not” indicates a contrast between “mine” and “yours.” That means a comma is needed between the two parts.

Merry sighed, realizing that Pippin was right. “I guess you win that one, Pippin. It’s still my apple, though.”

Pippin handed the apple back to his friend wistfully. “I suppose it is.”

“It’s quite a big apple for one Hobbit to eat,” remarked Merry. “Why don’t we share it?” Merry sliced the apple in half with his pocket knife and handed one half over to Pippin.

Pippin smiled and took the offered half. “Now it’s both our apple! Which makes the commas even easier to figure out!”

Merry and Pippin say thanks for reading! 🙂

~ Kayla


Quote of the Week

This week’s quote comes from Martha Grimes, author of The Blue Last. My first reaction to writer’s block is to step away from whatever I’m writing, but Ms. Grimes advises doing the opposite. I’ll definitely try it next time!

“You can’t be blocked if you keep on writing words. Any words. People who get ‘blocked’ make the mistake of thinking they have to write good words.” – Martha Grimes

~ Kayla

Snow – Chapter 1 – Part 2

Last week, I posted the first part of chapter 1 of Snow which you can find here. You may have noticed I wrote Snow in first person, present tense. When I started the story, I had an idea for the ending and after doing some research decided that present tense would be best. When I finally wrote the end of the story, the ending was completely changed, but writing in the present tense was such a habit that I decided to leave it like that. Even though I’ve finished the story, I still catch myself slipping into present tense when writing my new story which is supposed to be written in the past tense!

“You know, sometimes I wish I’d never moved up here. I thought I’d be free from NAUFA and its drones, but what do I find? A drone magnet!” Jamin slaps his gloved hand against the Stone.

“It’s too beautiful an afternoon to talk about NAUFA,” says a voice. I look up to see my dad walking towards us. Kiska barks and runs up to him.

“Hagan.” Jamin nods a greeting at Dad, his face suddenly red.

My dad smiles. “Hello, Jamin. How’s the hunting today?”

Jamin scowls. “The hunter drones scared most of it off.” He looks at me as he says it, and I avoid his gaze, looking over at Dad.

“Well, that’s too bad. But this village has survived tougher times than these. We’ll get through this like we always have,” pausing, he holds Jamin’s eyes in his and finishes, “together. Snow and I are on our way out and will bring in some fresh meat,” Dad says, laying a hand on my shoulder. I smile up at him.

“Good luck,” Jamin says, his tone sarcastic.

My dad lifts his hand in a good-bye wave and whistles for Kiska.

We tromp through the glistening snow, the crunching of our boots on the frozen powder the only sound to be heard in this white world. Finally, Dad breaks the serene quietness. “You don’t have to feel guilty, Snow. Don’t listen to Jamin.”

I don’t say anything. I want to believe him, but I can’t convince myself that Dad is right. I glance over at him, his furry hood up over his head so I can’t read his expression. Something Jamin said is still bothering me, and I just have to know. “Dad?”

He looks over. “Yes?”

“Would you turn me over to NAUFA?”

He’s silent, his eyes hard and cold. I swallow hard, afraid that I’ve hurt him by asking the question. “I-I-I’m sorry,” I say, my voice shaking a little. “I didn’t mean to – ”

“No.” The word cuts through my stammering. “No, I’d never turn you over to NAUFA, Snow. You’re my daughter, and I love you.” He takes my bare hand in his gloved one and squeezes it.

“I love you, too, Dad.” Then I smile slightly and say, “I wouldn’t turn you over to NAUFA either!”

Dad laughs at the thought. “I’m glad you wouldn’t, Snow,” he says, still smiling.

We trudge on through the snow in silence again. The twilight sky reflects off the snow, the few sunrays that can reach us casting their semi-golden light over everything. We walk by the glassy river that shows us a perfect reflection of ourselves in its mirror-like surface. Snow covered pine trees line the bank, while the first flicker of the northern lights flash across the sky. We stop, still silent. Dad slips his bow off his shoulder, and I follow his example, both of us completely quiet. Even Kiska stops her playing, as she knows she has to be silent or she’ll scare away our prey. My grey furry boots crunch down into the snow as I creep forward as noiselessly as I can, my breath coming in quick, short bursts as I try to breathe quietly. The sky above finally shatters into the brilliant colors of the northern lights, and they reach down to dance across the icy surface of the river and the previously monochromatic white land. I crouch down in the snow behind the pine tree, reaching up and gripping the icy blue feathers of my snow-white arrows. There, by the riverbank, is a white fox. His glittering black eyes gaze back at me as I notch the arrow to the string of my white bow and slowly start lifting it up. Dad’s arms come around me, helping me to line the shot up, the silver tip aimed at the fox. The moment is dream-like, just me and my dad, surrounded by perfect stillness. Suddenly, the dream is broken by the whirring of a drone. I feel my heart start to pound against my chest.

“Snow,” comes Dad’s whisper by my ear. “We need to get back to the village. Now.”

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Weekly Writing Wrap-Up: September 12 – 18

Welcome to my Weekly Writing Wrap-Up for this week.

Total Word Count for the Week: 6,001

Top Writing Day: My top writing day was Friday with 1,279.

What I Worked On: I worked on editing Snow and writing my novel idea.

The Good News: I made my goal and wrote an extra 2,000 words on top of that!

The Bad News: I wish I would have joined in on the previous 100 for 100 challenge that Go Teen Writers did.

Lesson Learned: I mentioned that I signed up for Go Teen Writer’s 100 for 100 challenge. It’s been going great so far, and it’s really helped to motivate me. I’ve learned that I need pressure to help keep me on track and focused on my goal.

Goal for Next Week: My goal is to write 7,000 words over the next week!

If you’d like to share your weekly wrap-up, go ahead and post it in the comments below!

~ Kayla

Monthly Link Share – How to Have a Scottish Accent

Welcome to September’s monthly link share! Today I’m sharing some links with you that have been helpful to me as a writer this month. 🙂

This first link is how to have a Scottish accent. I love these videos for writing accents and dialogues so that I can hear the accent and have a better understanding of the sounds in the accent. There are a bunch of accents in this series such as Irish, Australian, American, and British!

I mentioned on my Quote of the Week that I am participating in Go Teen Writer’s 100 for 100 contest where I have to write 100 words a day. This guest post is a really good reminder how important writing every day is and gives you ways to encourage yourself in that habit. 🙂


Character names are never easy. In case you’re stuck on creating a historically accurate Edwardian baby name, then have I got the link for you!


Speaking of character names, one of my favorite name-hunting websites is Nameberry. It’s not the typical baby name website, as they go in depth on naming trends, historical names, and up and coming names. They have a huge forum section as well, even including a Writer’s Corner. If you’re looking for character names, Nameberry is the place to go!

Thanks for clicking!

~ Kayla

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote comes from Jane Smiley, author of A Thousand Acres. I signed up for Go Teen Writer’s 100 for 100 contest this week. It’s a contest that has writers write 100 words a day for 100 days to help get them into the habit of writing every single day. The contest started yesterday, and I already have written more words in one day than I have all week!

“Write everyday, just to keep in the habit, and remember that whatever you have written is neither as good nor as bad as you think it is. Just keep going, and tell yourself that you will fix it later.” – Jane Smiley

~ Kayla

Snow – Chapter 1 – Part 1

I’ve been talking about posting this for so long I can’t believe I’m finally doing it! This is the first part of the first chapter of my second novel, Snow. I remember I was taking a shower (where all writers have their best ideas) on Christmas Eve when I just started narrating a story in my head. That story was completely different from the novel Snow is today, but that was the beginning of this project. It took me about two months to write the rough draft, and it pretty much wrote itself. It was the first completed novel I’d written without an outline, and to this day Snow is my favorite project to work on. Without further adieu, here is the first part of the first chapter of Snow. Enjoy!

Chapter 1

Welcome to my home, Northolt. It’s pretty much at the top of the world, so the thermometer is usually way below zero, and it’s always snowing. Most of the villagers can’t even remember what grass looks like at this point. Even so, it’s a nice town, if you can get past the howling winds and the constant blizzards. Perhaps the best part about Northolt is the fact that it’s almost free in our very controlled world. There is virtually no government presence. Well, except for the hunter drones. And that’s my fault. A fact that’s reflected in the eyes of everyone I pass by in Northolt. I accept their silent accusations without anger because I know they’re right. Those hunter drones would never have been sent if not for me.

“Come on, Kiska,” I call to my dog, as she follows me out of the village, trotting along loyally. My bow is over one shoulder; my quiver over the other. My dad made them for me since all that we use here has to be made by hand – so that means our weapons are knives, bows, and spears.

“Dad’s taking me hunting today,” I tell Kiska, as if she can understand. She dashes out in front of me on her own hunt, chasing a white hare.

“Kiska, heel!” I call, and the repentant dog comes running back.

Dad said to meet him by the Stone. It’s really the only sort of landmark we have up here in the white wilderness, and it’s considered the town meeting place.

Kiska and I arrive beside it a few minutes before Dad said we were leaving. There’s a boy, older than me, leaning against the smooth grey rock, probably waiting for someone, too. My stomach tightens when I see him. I know he doesn’t like me, but something about him makes me especially uncomfortable. His grey eyes narrow when he sees me, and he stands up a bit straighter when I walk over.

“Hey, Jamin!” I try to keep my tone friendly, always in the hope that I can convince someone that I’m not so bad after all. Today is not my day though because Jamin shifts over slightly, not even looking at me. “How’s hunting? Snag any game yet?” I try again to start a conversation.

Jamin keeps his eyes straight ahead. “No. Too many hunter drones.” His voice is full of irritation, and his response is clipped.

I look down and scuff the ground with my boot. No matter how many times Dad tells me that the drones are not my fault, I can’t help but feel guilty about it. “I guess it is a warmer day,” I say finally.

“It’s in the negatives out here. The drones never used to come in this kind of cold.” Jamin finally looks over at me. “I guess you wouldn’t know about the cold, though, would you?”

I look down at my waist where I’d knotted my lightest jacket around me. It wasn’t easy trying to hide my strange immunity to the cold. Even on the coldest day, I am often too hot with a light jacket on. “Guess I’m just used to the weather up here,” I laugh trying not to sound nervous, rubbing my sweater-covered arms as if I am cold.

Jamin snorts and returns to the previous subject.“NAUFA’s technology is getting better.”

“You think so?” I ask, and then immediately regret asking the question.

Jamin just glares at me. “Since when have you ever seen drones in the forest this time of year?”

I feel scorn in his gaze as he stares at me. “I guess you’re right,” I finally respond.

“We’re behind on food reserves since the drones have scared the game away. I heard Hagan say he’s worried about having enough meat for everyone.” Jamin shakes his head. “All this for a girl like you. It’s a wonder Hagan hasn’t turned you over to the Administration yet.”

I bet you’d turn me over to NAUFA wouldn’t you? I thought, looking down at my boots.

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla


Weekly Writing Wrap-Up: September 5 – 11

Welcome to my Weekly Writing Wrap-Up for this week.

Total Word Count for the Week: 3,269

Top Writing Day: My top writing day was Thursday with 956 words.

What I Worked On: I worked on my new story idea and edited Snow.

The Good News: I had a great writing week. I got a ton done and edited quite a bit of Snow.

The Bad News: I didn’t make my editing goal. >_<

Lesson Learned: It felt great to really get writing and get some work done. I felt so much more inspired this week. This is less of a lesson learned and more of an observation: it feels wonderful to be back on track!

Goal for Next Week: I want to write at least 4,000 words next week and finish editing this chapter of Snow.

If you’d like to share your weekly wrap-up, go ahead and post it in the comments below!

~ Kayla