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


Five Favorite Fiction Books

I have been reading ever since I was three. From picture books to chapter books to full-length novels, I’ve read a lot of books. Today, I’m sharing five of my favorite fiction books of all time. There are about, oh, a million books I feel bad about leaving out, but this is only one version of the list of my favorites. It does change from time to time. 😉

5. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

I don’t remember how old I was when I first read The Phantom Tollbooth. What I do remember is that my mom had ordered it from the library for me because she had seen it recommended somewhere. I was a little uncertain, but after reading it, I fell in love with the book. It’s been one of my favorites for years, and I imagine it will always have a place on my shelf. It’s the story of a boy named Milo who thinks life is boring. One day, he receives a purple tollbooth in his room. He has nothing better to do, so he jumps in his toy car, drives up to the tollbooth, and travels to another world. He encounters creatures like Tock the Watchdog, the Doldrums, and the Demons of Ignorance all while trying to rescue the Princesses Rhyme and Reason. The witty word play and clever puns make this book a classic.

4. Rakkety Tam by Brian Jacques

I first listened to Redwall read by Mr. Jacques himself (He’s got the most amazing accent ever. I could have listened to him talk all day long!). I fell in love with the book, and now I have quite the collection of this series on my shelf. My favorite book in the series is Rakkety Tam. It’s about a squirrel from the highlands and his friend who work together to stop a savage wolverine from taking over Redwall abbey. Brian Jacques was a big influence on me wanting to be a writer. My first story was very much inspired by him and his work. 🙂

3. The Robot Wars by Sigmund Brouwer

I found this series when the first book was offered for free on Kindle. I finished it in about a day and got the rest from the library and blew through them in a few days. The Robot Wars is a Christain scifi series that is not at all preachy (which is a pet peeve of mine) and has an excellent story. The main character is Tyce, a paralyzed boy who lives on Mars and has never visited Earth. The books chronicle the adventures Tyce and his good friend Ashley have as they try and save the colony on Mars. Sigmund Brouwer is also one of my writing influences as he was the one who inspired me to try writing sci-fi.

2. Annals of Wynnewood by Chautona Havig

I love Chautona Havig. She’s one of my top favorite authors of all time (I love her Aggie’s Inheritance series). This is her fantasy series, and wow, it’s good. It’s the story of a boy who befriends a creature in the woods. The creature turns out to be a cloaked girl named Dove who refuses to let him see her face. I read the first one when it was offered for free one day, and then bought the last two because I had to find out what happened. It was money well spent. I read for hours to find out what happened and what Dove was.

1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I almost didn’t read The Hobbit. I think I can hear all the Tolkienites dying. 😉 I wanted to be surprised by what happened in the movies, but on a whim I decided to read the book beforehand. I am so glad I did! And yes, full confession here, I did get a little teary-eyed reading the Battle of Five Armies. Reading the book enhanced the movies for me and started me down the path of reading Tolkien. The Hobbit, in case you happen not to know, is the story of a Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, who is convinced to go on an adventure by a wizard named Gandalf to help a company of thirteen dwarves reclaim their mountain home.

See any of your favorites on my list? What are your five favorite books? Comment below and tell me! 🙂

~ Kayla



An Interesting Word – Oubliette

Yesterday, my Camp NaNo novel’s main character, Lark, found herself running from the palace guards who were trying to arrest her. The guards did manage to catch up with her after she ran smack dab into a Scottish guy (who is a future MC). Lark was taken to the castle, sedated, and today, she will wake up in Queen Alessandria’s palace. What does that have to do with the interesting word in the title of the blog post? Well, knowing I would be putting Lark into a castle at some point, I checked out a book at the library: The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the Middle Ages: The British Isles from 500 to 1500. This book and the rest in the series are great if you’re writing historical fiction or in my case, happen to need a list of castle terms. As Lark’s now trapped inside a castle, I thought it was a good time to pull out my handy-dandy castle term list and get my facts right! Looking over the list, I came across a lot of interesting words and decided to share “oubliette” with my readers! 🙂

An oubliette is a tiny dungeon where prisoners were kept, according to my Writer’s Guide book. It also says that “it was so small that the person stood hunched over and could neither sit nor move into a comfortable position.” It was typically a secret dungeon with a trap door on the ceiling as an entrance, but it had no exit. The owner of the castle could throw a prisoner down there and completely forget about them. The word oubliette actually is derived from the old French term oublier which meant “to forget, show negligence” according to

I found a really interesting video on YouTube about an oubliette that they discovered at the Gallery of Justice.

Thankfully, the palace guards didn’t have any plans to lower Lark into an oubliette. I’m sure I can find some way to work this word into my story, though. It’s too interesting to be left unused! 🙂

~ Kayla


Character Names – Alvar and Elva

It’s only 11 days until Camp NaNoWriMo which means I’m busily plotting out my book, deciding on main characters, and, my favorite part, naming the main characters. I’ve been searching for the perfect character names all week. Unfortunately, not every cool name I dug up was “the one” for my characters. Today, I’m sharing two names I loved that I had to sadly scratch off the possible name list. Feel free to use these in your writing, but there’s no guarantee that my next NaNo novel won’t feature a character bearing one of these names! 🙂

Alvar is a boy’s name. Its German meaning is “fair, white” according to Its Finnish or Swedish meaning of “elf army”  comes from the Old Norse name Alfarr, according to The most famous bearer of this name was a Finnish architect named Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto. I originally had chosen this name for my evil nobleman who was planning on taking the throne. I had to change his name, however, when I realized that I had four characters who had names starting with “Al” or “El.” I think Alvar would make a great villain’s name, whether he’s a nobleman or some other profession. 🙂

Elva is an anglicized Irish girl’s name. The original Irish name was Ailbhe. Elva means “leader of the elves” according to or just “elfin” according to many other sites. It used to be a very popular name about a century ago but has become more and more rare. Now, it’s an almost unheard of name. I had picked Elva to be the name of one of the queen’s servants. Alas, like Alvar, it was one “Al” or “El” too many, and I was forced to cut it. Elva would make a great name for a historical fiction piece since it was a popular name in times past.

What do you think of these two names? Would you use them for your characters?

~ Kayla

What Have I Done?

… and then I clicked submit. I’d done it. I’d signed up. It only took 30 seconds to completely ensure the loss of my sanity by the first week of May. Exactly why will I be insane by then? The answer to that question is the only writer’s program that practically guarantees insanity: NaNoWriMo! 🙂

It’s not even near November, but there is still a NaNo happening! Since 2011, NaNoWriMo has been hosting a twice a year version of their National Novel Writing Month, called Camp NaNoWriMo. Camp NaNo is a bit different than regular NaNo. In this NaNo spinoff, you can pick your work’s category. Anything from poetry to TV screenplay goes here, unlike November NaNo where the only category available is novel. Also, your word count is flexible, anywhere from 10,000 to 999,999 words. Another difference is the cabins. When you agree to have cabin mates, NaNo places you with eleven people, either randomly picked or chosen from specific criteria, for you to ask the advice of, chat with, and get to know. Five of those people can be friends you already know. There’s also a forum for Camp NaNo for even more writer fun. There are Camps in April and July this year.

When I originally received the announcement from YWP NaNoWriMo that Camp NaNo would be happening this year, I was thrilled! After all, this is what I have been waiting for since November. As usual, they were running two Camps, and my original plan (as well as one of my New Year’s writing resolutions) was to participate in Camp NaNo in July and then the regular NaNo in November. However, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted a new novel to work on. The problem was of course, that I’m currently working on editing my original NaNo novel. So, I plan to multitask. I’m going to continue editing Homeland through April and do NaNo as well. Hence the fact I’m doing a smaller 40,000 word goal for this NaNo. I’m saving the 50,000 word count for the one in July when I’ll have no school and more free time to write. Which raises a question: what will I be writing those 40,000 words about? Well, in the middle of writing Snow, I came up with another novel idea. I placed that idea in my idea notebook and finished Snow first. Now I’m going to go back and write it!

My novel’s title is God Save the Queen, and it will be a cross between a fantasy and a science fiction novel. When the queen dies without an heir, there’s fear that an ambitious nobleman (who needs a name) will try to usurp the throne before the true heir can be found. The loyal nobles create a plan: find a girl who looks like the queen to play the role of ruler until the real heir can be found. That girl is Lark, a commoner who bears an uncanny resemblance to the queen.

I don’t have all the details fleshed out, but I better hurry up because Camp NaNo starts in 14 days. AHHHHH!!!!! What have I done? 14 days to plan a novel and a month to write it all while continuing to edit my other NaNo novel? Yep, I’ll definitely be insane by the first week of May.

If you, too, would like to lose your sanity, you can sign up for Camp NaNo here:

Happy NaNo-ing!

~ Kayla

Book Flashback – Four Favorite Children’s Series

I have always loved reading. I had plenty of my own books plus the stacks I brought home from the library. I’d spend hours reading them, lost in the fictional worlds. (I’m sure all those hours of reading contributed to my desire to be a writer.) My favorites I read over and over until they were falling apart. Here are four of my favorite series that still have a place on my shelves.

1. Encyclopedia Brown Series by Donald J. Sobol

Encyclopedia Brown is a boy who is a whiz at solving mysteries. During the winter, he solves cases for his police dad, and in the summer, he owns a detective agency where he charges a quarter for solving the mystery plus expenses. I loved how short the mysteries were and how the solution was always in the details, a bit like the Sherlock Holmes cases.

My two Encyclopedia Brown books. They've seen better days! :)

My two Encyclopedia Brown books. They’ve seen better days!

2. The Time Warp Trio by Jon Scieszka

The Time Warp Trio is the story of three guys – Sam, Fred, and Joe – who take adventures via “The Book.” This is not just any book, but a magical book that takes them back in time. Unfortunately, none of the boys knows how to use it, and “The Book” always disappears as soon as they arrive in a new time. The guys end up going to ancient Egypt, the Wild West, ancient China, and even the future (where they meet their great-great-granddaughters, Samantha, Freddy, and Jodie.) I literally read every book in the series. They even had a TV series which I liked to watch. My favorite book was Hey Kid, Want to Buy a Bridge?

The first Time Warp Trio I ever read

The first Time Warp Trio I ever read

3. Hank the Cowdog series by John R. Erickson

Hank is a cowdog with a big job. He’s the Head of Ranch security with a not-so-smart assistant, Drover, and together they protect their home from invaders like Silver Monster Birds, the Deadly Laundry Monster, and of course, the mean gang of coyotes. Hank is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. The scrapes Hank and Drover get into are hysterical and the ridiculous seriousness with which Hank takes his “job” always left me laughing. My very favorite one was The Curse of the Incredible Priceless Corncob.

My favorite Hank the Cowdog

My favorite Hank the Cowdog

4. The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner

It started when my mom and I read the The Mystery of the Pirate’s Map for school. I loved the book so much that I read another and another and another. This, without a doubt, was my favorite series. It’s the story of the Alden kids who lived in a boxcar after their parents died. They were adopted by their Grandfather, and now they live with him and solve mysteries. I can’t tell you how many I read. My favorite was The Seattle Puzzle (I guess because it was a bit less stereotypical than the normal Boxcar Children!). I have been known to check out the new Boxcar children mysteries at the library just to see what happens to the Aldens next. 😉 Apparently, they are coming out (April 2014) with a Boxcar Children movie. I couldn’t find a trailer. Too bad, I wanted to see it! 🙂

My two favorite Boxcar Children mysteries

My two favorite Boxcar Children mysteries

Did you read any of these series? What were your favorite children’s series growing up? Comment below and tell me! 🙂

~ Kayla

Author Profile – Ted Dekker

This month, I read Green by Ted Dekker, and I adored it! Since I enjoyed Green so much, I was curious to learn a bit more about its author.

It turns out that Ted Dekker has led a pretty interesting life. He was born on October 24, 1962 in Indonesia to missionary parents. He and his family lived in the jungle where his parents ministered to a tribe of cannibals. He was sent to a coastal boarding school when he was six which meant living apart from his parents for months at a time. Being lonely for much of his childhood, he created an imaginary world to live in. He left Indonesia before graduating high school, and lived in the United States where he studied philosophy and religion, earning a Bachelor’s Degree. For the next few years, he did a variety of jobs such as buying and selling businesses, marketing, and healthcare services. When a friend of his wrote a novel, Mr. Dekker decided to pursue his dream of becoming a novelist. He wrote two novels in the next two years and decided that he wanted to become a full-time novelist. He sold his business, moved to Colorado, and starting writing full time. Two years later in 2000, Heaven’s Wager, his first novel, was published. Now Mr. Dekker is a NY Times bestselling author of well-known books such as BoneMan’s Daughters, House, and Thr3e.

His writing day starts at 7:00 A.M., when he edits the previous day’s work for an hour, and then goes on to write 3000 words until 6:00 P.M. Mr. Dekker likes to listen to loud, atmospheric, and emotional music while he writes. In a Goodreads interview, he mentions that he was currently listening to the Tron soundtrack. He says that music helps him “shut out the world.” Mr. Dekker writes with a Mac computer and in case you were wondering what the lunch of a best-selling author is, Mr. Dekker says in a interview with the Examiner that he typically eats peanuts. At 6:00 P.M., he stops writing, and spends the evening with his family. While in the middle of writing one of his novels, Mr. Dekker goes to a resort for two to three weeks and locks himself in a hotel room where he says, “I’ll write 4,000 or 5,000 words a day. All I do is write.”

I loved this quote I read where he told how he became an author:

“I studied philosophy, religious studies, and English. My training was writing four full-length novels and hiring an editor to tear them apart. I had enough money to do that, and then rewriting and rewriting and rewriting. And then sending them off, sending them off, sending them off through a agent until finally I had something like four offers from four different publishers in the same month.”

Mr. Dekker’s website is here:

You can find the two interviews I referenced here:

I can’t wait to read the next book in The Circle Series and read some of his other works, too!

What do you think of Ted Dekker’s books? Have you read any by him?

~ Kayla

Quote of the Week

Today’s quote is really an apology. On Monday, I posted the story of Jane Austen and Mark Twain. Mr. Twain was not a big fan of Miss Austen and said some pretty nasty things about her and her writing. In order to make it up to Miss Austen, I have decided to let her be featured for the quote of the week. So, today’s quote comes from Jane Austen, author of Pride and Prejudice.

“I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least I do not know.” – Jane Austen, speaking of Elizabeth Bennet in a letter to her sister.

I can really relate to Jane on this subject. I’ve been working on a novel, and I’m convinced that my characters are the most fantastic, most wonderful ever created. Deep down inside, I know that is not really true, but, still, they’re my ‘babies’ and I love them. 😉 Anyway, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one to be completely enamored with her own characters!

~ Kayla

Book Review: Indian Captive by Lois Lenski

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to read more. I also mentioned that I was changing up some things on the blog. So, what does that have to do with this post? Well, while I’m currently on my “Quest To Read More Books in 2014,”  I thought I’d share some of the books I’ve been reading by reviewing them. Today, I’m posting a review of an old book I recently read called Indian Captive by Lois Lenski. Somehow, when we studied American History, I never read this classic historical fiction. I’m glad I’ve gotten a chance to read this novel since it is one not to be missed!

Indian Captive by Lois Lenski is the story of the capture of twelve year old, Mary “Molly” Jemison by the Seneca Indians. Taken by the tribe, she is separated from her family and carried off to an Indian village where she is adopted by two Indian sisters. The Indians are mostly kind to her, and Molly struggles to retain her identity as a white girl and to remember her family. By the end of the book, Molly has a choice to make. Will she stay with the Seneca or return home?

Molly, the protagonist, is a great character. She doesn’t whine or complain through her trials, but bravely faces them which makes her an admirable and likable character. Molly is an easy character to get attached to, and I truly cared what happened in her life. The Indian characters in the novel are engaging as well, and Lenski does a fantastic job portraying Indian culture.

The story is based on the true account of Mary Jemison, who was captured by the Seneca in 1758. While some of the facts are changed so that the story flows better, it still remains accurate. Lenski did a TON of research in writing this book, as she explains in the foreword, and strove to present a true picture of the events. The best thing is while you’re enjoying the book, you can also learn some history. Two for one! 😉

Though the book’s age range is a bit younger than mine, I still enjoyed the story which took me just a couple days to read. While it isn’t exactly a thriller, it’s still pretty exciting. Another thing I enjoyed were the pictures in the novel. The very distinctive illustrations were actually drawn by the author herself. She also wrote another favorite children’s book of mine, Strawberry Girl.  Since I enjoyed that book, it was neat to get to read another by her. Indian Captive won a Newberry Honor in 1942, and I think it definitely deserved it!

All in all, I would give Indian Captive a 4 star rating for being an enjoyable book with a great character and fascinating story.

Also, if you’re interested in Mary Jemison’s account of her captivity in her own words, you can find it here:

~ Kayla

Quote of the Week

Welcome to the quote of the week! Today’s quote comes from Tom Clancy, author of many popular novels. This quote especially hit home since I’ve been working on planning out a few story ideas (for NaNo, of course!) and been trying to have them sound believable.

“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” – Tom Clancy

~ Kayla