Fireflies – Part 2

Last week, I posted the first part of Fireflies, my Owl City fanfiction. It’s a story based on the lyrics of the song “Fireflies.” You can read the first part here if you missed it last week. Enjoy!

11:00pm, Tuesday, August 6th – I was watching an episode of Star Trek, hoping to drift off to sleep to the familiar, soothing voice of Captain Picard. Arden had already called at 10:30pm and wished me a good night’s sleep. I didn’t think she really meant it, though. I knew she was standing by, ready to implement “The Plan.” If I couldn’t sleep, I was supposed to contact her immediately. How could I possibly relax knowing Arden was waiting for me to call. It was too much pressure. My ringing phone broke into my thoughts. I didn’t even have to look at the name. I knew who was calling.

“Are you asleep yet, Ben?” whispered Arden.

“No, I’m not,” I said. “Why are you whispering?”

“That way if you were asleep, I wouldn’t wake you up.”

“I answered your call. I’m awake. And even if I wasn’t, your call would have woken me up.”

“Oh. Right. Remember to call me if you can’t sleep, okay? Bye, Ben!”

I sat my phone back down on the nightstand and turned back to Star Trek. Commander Riker looked terrible. In this episode he couldn’t sleep either. Of course, he was being kidnapped and experimented on by aliens. I hadn’t considered alien interference before. Maybe aliens had been doing experiments on me my whole life by interrupting my sleep patterns. Perhaps, they had planted an alien observer just next door. I always had suspected Arden’s unearthly origins. My phone rang again. “Hello, Arden. No, I’m not asleep.”

“How did you know what I was going to ask? Are you psychic, Ben?”

“No. Are you an alien?”

She didn’t deny it, and just laughed. “Well, call me if you can’t sleep!” I hung up the phone and seriously thought about blocking her number. If she were an alien, though, it wouldn’t do any good.

12:00am, Wednesday, August 7th I couldn’t sleep. It had been an hour and a half since I climbed into bed, and the most I’d done was stare up at my ceiling. And answer the phone. The aliens had won. With a sigh, I grabbed my phone.

It only had a chance to ring once. Arden’s cheerful voice came on the other end. “Hello, Ben! You can’t sleep, can you?” She sounded way too happy about my problem.

“No, I can’t,” I said a bit sadly.

“Time for ‘The Plan.’ Grab your shoes and come outside.”

“I’ll be out in a few.”

“I can’t wait! You will not believe your eyes, Ben!”

I got dressed and slipped on my shoes. I crept through my house, careful not to wake any of my family. I left a note just in case my mom or dad noticed I wasn’t there. I opened the door and stepped out onto my porch. There was Arden with a large thermos, two nets, and a jar. She was wearing a safari hat.

“Isn’t it beautiful out here, Ben. Look at the fireflies!” Arden started spinning around, her safari hat flying off her head. “They fill the open air and leave their teardrops everywhere.” She stopped spinning, and looked concerned. “I hope they aren’t sad.” She stooped down and picked up her hat.

Maybe it was rude, but all I could do was stop and stare. Arden and I had been friends for a while now, but I still didn’t get her many times. “I think the fireflies are fine, Arden. I’m the one with the problem.”

Refocused on her mission, she smiled. “We’re going on a quest, Ben.” She handed me a net. “Take ye trusty ol’ net, and let us commence!” She ran out into the grass and followed one of the little yellow lights around, and swiped with her net. “Got it!” Arden let it go in her jar and put the top on. “That’s one! There are so many out here. I bet there are ten million fireflies lighting up the world when I fall asleep, and I never realized it. Isn’t that amazing, Ben?”

I didn’t answer. I was busy swinging my trusty ol’ net. I nabbed three fireflies in one swing.

“Good one!” Arden opened the jar and placed them inside. “That’s four! These are just our practice bugs. What we need to catch is Queen Titania, according to the Legend of the Firefly!”

“The Legend of the Firefly? I’ve never heard of that.”

“Well, you know, Ben, legends have to start somewhere. And I’ve decided this legend starts with me!”

“It doesn’t work like that Arden,” I told her.

“Why not? Just listen. Long ago … well, five minutes ago, there was a boy, and he couldn’t sleep. He was you, Ben! Isn’t that exciting? You’re part of a legend now!”

“But Arden, it isn’t a real -”

She cut me off, continuing her legend. “One night, a fairy came to him – I’m the fairy, by the way – and told him she could help him to fall asleep.”

Fairy? I knew Arden couldn’t be human. I hadn’t considered the possibility of a fairy, though.

“And then the fairy told him that if he wanted to fall asleep, he had to go on an epic quest.”

“Epic quest? It’s too late for epic quests.” I sighed, sure at this point I’d never get to sleep.

“But you’ll never fall asleep unless you go! See, you have to catch a very special firefly down by the lake. It’s Queen Titania, the ruler of the fireflies, and once you catch her, she’ll give you a potion to make you fall asleep! C’mon Ben! Let’s go!”

Well, I thought, what did I have to lose.

Thanks for reading!

~Kayla

Fireflies – Part 1

Where I live, every summer starting in June, the fireflies come out. Just as the sun goes down, these little beetles emerge from where they hid during the day and start blinking. Their yellow lights turn on and off as the flying males try to attract the females below in the grass.  I used to catch them when I was younger and stick them in a jar, though I always let them go at the end of the night. What I didn’t realize then was that there is another reason for catching fireflies other than just for fun. Apparently, it also helps you fall asleep. At least, according to Arden. In case you haven’t met them, Arden and Ben are my two Owl City fanfiction characters who first made an appearance on my blog last summer in a story based on Owl City’s song “Hot Air Balloon.” Today, they’re back for some more fun in another fanfiction I wrote based on the song “Fireflies.”

8:00am, Tuesday, August 6th  _ I dragged my eyes open. I moaned and reached for my cell phone and squinted at the bright screen. The name and phone number were so blurred I couldn’t even read who was calling. Not really caring, but wanting to stop the ringing, I slid the green icon across the screen and held the cold phone to my ear. “Hagrow?” My lips and tongue weren’t quite awake.

“Ben? You wouldn’t believe my totally awesome day yesterday!”

I dropped the phone on the bed and pulled the pillow over my head.

“Ben? Ben?”

I could still hear the voice calling. Why, oh why did she have to call, I grumbled to myself.

“Ben, I know you’re there. Ben. Ben. Ben. Ben.”

I knew she wouldn’t stop. Surrendering, I picked the phone up again.“Hello, Arden.”

“You sound tired.”

“Do I? I didn’t sleep well last night.” Didn’t sleep well? That was an understatement. I hadn’t fallen asleep until almost 6am.

Unaffected by my response, Arden started talking, telling me about something her family did yesterday, but I wasn’t listening. I was dozing off, lulled to sleep by the white noise of her chatter.

“Ben? Did you hear anything I just said?”

“Uhhh …” The break in her one-sided conversation pulled me out of my light sleep.

“Ben, are you listening to me?”

I paused for a moment and decided to confess. “Not really.”

“Can I come over?” I debated with myself. What I really wanted was to go back to sleep for a while. I was so tired. I was definitely not up for an Arden visit. But before I could say anything, Arden answered her own question. “Great! I’ll be over in a few.”

“What? Hold on! I didn’t say anything.” My protests didn’t matter because Arden had hung up. I groaned, knowing a knock was imminent. I pulled my feet from the tangled, barely-slept-in sheets. I wonder if she’d notice if I wore my pajamas, I thought. I ran my fingers through my dark blonde hair, trying to comb my crazy bangs into some sort of order and threw on my clothes. I quickly straightened the sheets and spread. I couldn’t start my day without making my bed.

I heard a knock downstairs and then, “Beeeeeen!” I turned around as Arden dashed into my room and dove onto my bed, undoing all my work.  Her flip flops toppled from her feet and now lay on my previously neat floor. Trying to ignore the disorder, I smiled slightly as she turned her green eyes on me.

“Hey,” I said lamely, and sat down on the corner of the bed. She glanced up and giggled when she saw my hair. I turned red. “I just woke up, Arden. Give me a break!”

“It’s not just your hair,” Arden noted, leaning close to me to peer at my face. “You are really pale. Your eyes are all red, and you have really dark circles under them. Ben, you look awful!”

I looked down, embarrassed. “Haven’t been sleeping well,” I mumbled.

“What did you say?”

“I haven’t been sleeping well,” I said more clearly this time. I leaned back on the messed up bed and shut my eyes. “And I am miserable. I haven’t really slept in five days. Most nights, I’m far too tired to fall asleep.” I never really liked telling people about my insomnia. My mom told me I once went through a stage when I was seven where I didn’t sleep at night for weeks. “I feel like such an insomniac,” I admitted.

“Mmmm. I’ve never really had too much trouble sleeping. Except on Christmas morning. You know how much I love Christmas! And, of course, my birthday. Then I’m too excited to sleep. And then sometimes I wish I could stay awake when I’m asleep ‘cause everything is never as it seems, and my dreams are bursting at the seams. Sometimes, too, when I’m falling asleep, I like to make myself believe that planet Earth turns slowly, but did you know it really spins at about 1000 miles per hour? My mom told me about that. Jupiter actually is the fastest spinning planet.”

I didn’t know how Arden could keep talking and never take a breath. Why didn’t she just pass out? I’d always thought she was an alien, and perhaps now I had proof. She didn’t need oxygen.

“Have you tried counting sheep?” Arden still hadn’t taken a breath. “I always count greater prairie chickens to fall asleep – you know my dad studies them – but I’ve heard sheep work pretty well, too. So, have you tried counting sheep?” She finally paused, waiting for my answer.

I looked over at her. “I am tired of counting sheep,” I sighed. “And I don’t think prairie chickens would make a difference.”

“I don’t know. The prairie chickens really help me.” Arden continued, “Why are you tired of counting sheep, Ben? Sheep and prairie chickens are fun to count! You can make them any color in your head. And they can jump over things like sliding boards and hot air balloons.”

“Why do I tire of counting sheep? Why? Because I count them every night!” I was really getting irritated at this point just thinking about all the hours of sleep I’d lost.

For a moment we were quiet, each of us contemplating my sleeplessness. “That’s it!” Arden burst out. “I’m going to help you get over your insomnia! You know, Ben, friends help each other out, and I’m going to help you through this bad time in your life!”

I groaned. Somehow, I just didn’t think energetic Arden would help me with my sleep problem. “I’m fine, really, Arden. Insomnia comes and goes. It’ll go away in a while.”

“I’m going to make sure it does!” Arden looked down at the clock. “What time do you usually go to bed, Ben?”

I figured three wasn’t an acceptable answer. “Around 10:30 most nights.”

“I better get started then!” Arden jumped up.

“Started with what?”

“Research! I have an idea, but I need some more information and supplies. And I have to get that recipe from my mom for warm milk. It’s from Iceland, you know.” Arden continued ticking off her to-do list. “I have to find my bug-catching jar and my net, and I have to check about the fireflies …”

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Monthly Link Share – An Answer to “What’s Your Book About?”

Welcome to May’s link share! Today I’m sharing a couple of links that have been helpful to me in the past month or so!

“What’s your book about?” is probably the most terrifying question an author can be asked. One way to stop the answer from simply being “Ummm…” is by writing a logline. While there are plenty of articles floating out in internet-land about loglines, I liked this one because of the series of questions they asked.

http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2011/12/writing-killer-loglines.html

A while ago, I played with the idea of having a pen name if I ever did get published. Here’s an article about how to pick a good one.

http://www.jamiehall.org/pename.htm

The final link is from Jennifer A. Nielsen, author of The False Prince. It’s a list of tips that she’s put together for writers. I thought the tips were well thought out, and while I was already aware of a few of them, there were a number of tips I’d never thought about checking my writing for. She also has an awesome blog where she posts writing tips and announcements.

http://www.jennielsen.com/for-writers

I wrote a post about my favorite writing music on Monday. (You can find that post here.) Well, I love to listen to music even when I’m not writing. One of my favorite artists is Francesca Battistelli. She is a Christian artist who has released three previous albums, and last month she released her fourth, If We’re Honest. I first heard her single “This is the Stuff” on the radio and that led to buying the first album, and then the second, and now I have quite the collection! If you haven’t heard her music before, I definitely recommend it! You can find her website here: http://www.francescamusic.com/.

And, of course, how could I not post one of her songs?

Thank you for reading and clicking! 🙂

~ Kayla

Monthly Link Share – How to Write a Thriller

Welcome to February’s link share! Following the John Grisham theme from Tuesday, one of these links is his writing advice, and the other is a list he found helpful. 🙂 Let’s get started!

In 1973, Writer’s Digest published an article by Brian Garfield that included 10 tips on writing suspense fiction. These are the tips John Grisham says he used to help him write The Firm. This article from Writer’s Digest lists the 10 tips from the original Garfield article. I’m sure these tips could be used for other genres as well. 🙂

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/the-10-commandments-of-how-to-write-a-thriller

Tony Vanderwarker had seven unpublished novels until his friend and neighbor John Grisham started to mentor him. With Mr. Grisham’s help, Mr. Vanderwarker wrote a thriller titled Sleeping Dogs. This list of “three must-haves of novel writing” are lessons learned from the great novelist.

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/john-grishams-3-must-haves-of-novel-writing

Last week, I posted a rant about the large number of paranormal romances in the “Y” section of my library. Another concern I have with “Y” books is whether or not they are clean. I really don’t want to pick up a book and find that there’s a graphic love scene or strong language in there. There are some “Y” books I’ve heard about that I’d like to read but I wanted to make sure they were clean before I read them. Enter thestorysanctuary.com! Thank you for writing this blog, Ms. Giard! Ms. Kasey Giard reviews young adult, children, and adult books for language, sexual content, spiritual content, violence, and drug content. Through her blog, I’ve found some really cool “Y” books that are clean and great (and vampire-free). I’m reading one now, and it’s excellent. She reviews not only popular books, like Divergent or The Fault in Our Stars, but also some lesser-known ones. I can’t thank her enough for this resource! 🙂

http://thestorysanctuary.com/

I love music. I listen to it while writing novels, drawing, and blog writing (I’m listening to my Owl City playlist while editing this post). Well, I’m always on the hunt for good music, and when I found Citizen Way, I found some great music! Citizen Way is a Christian band with two sets of brothers: Josh and Ben Calhoun and David and Ben Blascoe. In April 2013 they released their first album, Love is the Evidence. I first heard their single, “It Should Have Been Me” on Youtube and fell in song love and bought the album off of Amazon. All the songs are great and have a terrific sound! My personal favorites are “How Sweet the Sound” and “All Things.” You can find their website here: http://citizenwaymusic.com/

And you didn’t think I’d let you leave without sharing a Citizen Way song …

or two? 🙂

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Songwrite: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”

I don’t know about you, but I have trouble writing without music. Music helps me focus, blocks out distractions, and sets the mood for the scene I’m writing. While songs have inspired fanfictions and even scenes in my novels, I’ve never flat out wrote a story from just what comes to mind while listening to a song. Well, today I decided to try that very thing. I’m calling it a “songwrite.” I was inspired to try out a freewrite-type post from reading one of my follower’s blogs, Like Star Filled Skies. She posted a few of her freewrites, and I really loved the idea and wanted to try it out myself! You can read one of her freewrites here:

http://likestarfilledskies.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/love-letters/ .

For the song part of my “songwrite,” I chose “O Come, O Come Emanuel” sung by Enya. I’ve heard the song by various artists countless times on the radio, but Francesca Battistelli’s version (my favorite!) made me fall in love with it. While looking for Francesca’s version on Youtube, I found Enya’s version and decided to give it a try and was impressed. It has a fantasy-like vibe about it, explaining the direction I went with the story. Here’s the song:

And here’s the “write” part! I set my goal at 300 words, whether or not I felt the story was done. I came in at 326, so I was only 26 words over!

The heavy, wooden door creaks open, and I enter in. I walk slowly down the aisle, careful not to step on the hem of my dress. There is an eerie silence that fills the air. If I shut my eyes tight, I can almost hear the monks moving about, their soft chants filling the ancient halls of this once sacred place. Only there are no monks tonight. Only me. At least, I hope I’m the only one here. Hands trembling, I slip the hood of my black cloak off my head. My footsteps echo throughout the hall and off the grey stones that run from the floor up, up, up the walls. The stained glass windows glow with an odd warmth as the pale moonlight fills the chamber, and yet the howling of the wind outside makes me remember there is no peace in this place.

I stop in the middle of the aisle, too scared to go on, but knowing that I have to. It isn’t the first time I wish I hadn’t been chosen for this. The sound of bells fills the chamber, and my heart begins to pound. My fingers wrap around the hilt of my weapon, and I wait for silence to settle over the place again. I have to go through with this. I was chosen. I take a deep breath, and start walking again. As the Leader, it’s my duty to perform the Ceremony.  Only … I’m not really the Leader. That fact haunts me, and I realize what a horrible mistake I made that day. If I had only known. For a moment, I pause again and lean against the stone wall seeking support from its solid strength. My dark hair falls forward in waves about me, and I push it back over my shoulder and straighten up again, resolved to go on. I have to make my mistake right, and the only way is going through with this.

~ Kayla