Weekly Writing Wrap-Up: January 16 – 22

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

Total Word Count for the Week: 7,561

Top Writing Day: My top writing day was Thursday with 1,308 words.

What I Worked On: I worked on Hunger Games fanfiction, my novel, and editing Snow.

The Good News: I made my goal in my novel!

The Bad News: I didn’t finish editing my Snow chapter (but I did work on it!).

Lesson Learned: I was working on a scene for my novel, and it just wasn’t going the way I wanted it to. In fact it kept dragging on and on and just wouldn’t end. So, I abruptly ended it (by ending the conversation and sending my main character to bed) and moved on to the next scene. My lesson learned is sometimes the scene just really needs to stop!

Goal for Next Week: My goal is to finish editing this chapter of Snow and write at least 1000 words in my novel.

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

~ Kayla

Weekly Writing Wrap-Up: January 2 – 8

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

Total Word Count for the Week: 5,026

Top Writing Day: My top writing day was Wednesday with 1,059 words.

What I Worked On: I worked on Hunger Games fanfiction, my novel, and editing Snow.

The Good News: I did edit chapter 8 of Snow this week!

The Bad News: But I didn’t edit the entire chapter.

Lesson Learned: I was rereading chapter 7 of Snow to remember where I left off, and I was surprisingly pleased with it. I remember not being too sure of the scene I added in, but I think it sounds okay now. So, my lesson learned is that some time away from a project can be good as it really gave me a new perspective on the scene.

Goal for Next Week: My goal is to 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

Weekly Writing Wrap-Up: December 19 – 25

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

Total Word Count for the Week: 7,850

Top Writing Day: My top writing day was Thursday with 2,412 words.

What I Worked On: I worked on Hunger Games fanfiction, a Christmas story, and a new novel idea.

The Good News: I made my goal, and I feel like I got a ton of writing in.

The Bad News: I need to get back to editing Snow.

Lesson Learned: I learned how to procrastinate. Okay, okay, not really!  I’ve been avoiding editing Snow since I finished writing my NaNo novel. I really dislike editing, so I’m not very motivated to do it! However, I really want and need to finish editing Snow. So, I’m going to try and “unlearn” this lesson and start editing soon!

Goal for Next Week:  My goal is to edit a chapter of Snow this week.

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Snow – Chapter 1 – Part 6

Welcome to the final part of Chapter 1 of Snow! Last week, Finley and his soldiers arrived in the village, threatening to take Snow away. There was an explosion right as Kiska attacked Finley, and that’s where I left it hanging! Speaking of Kiska, Snow originally didn’t have a dog. I came up with the idea after we went over to a friend’s house. The family had this big, husky dog that actually looked like a wolf. As soon as I got home, I knew I had to write a dog like that in for Snow.

“Kiska!” I shout, as I watch my dog fly back from the blast of the fusion rifle and fall to the ground. Dropping to my knees beside her, I press my hands against the wound, trying to stop the blood from pouring out. “You can’t die! You just can’t!” No matter how much I plead with her nor how hard I push, the bleeding won’t stop. She lays motionless in the bright red snow, and I know she is gone. I cradle her in my arms unable to believe my best friend is dead. “How could you kill my dog? How could you kill Kiska? She was just trying to protect me!” I ask, tears running down my face. Looking up at Finley, I am overwhelmed with rage, and I scramble to my feet. “I hate you! I hate you all! Get out of my home!” Unable to stop, I launch myself at Finley, and land a solid blow to his already bruised jaw before the soldiers yank me back to the ground.

Finley laughs and rubs his jaw. I push myself up off the snow, my fists clenched by my sides, longing to hit him again. My eyes rest on the ripped coat sleeve on Finley’s arm. I wish Kiska had done more damage.

“Why do you want me?” I demand, swallowing down some of my rage to force the words out.

“You really don’t know?” Finley asks, raising an eyebrow. At my blank expression, he sighs. “You’re one of them. And by them, I mean the Katari. And you better be worth all this work because I hate the cold.”

“And just what is a Katari?”

“Enough!” Finley commands. “Will you come voluntarily or not?”

“Leave my daughter alone,” Dad says, pushing himself up so that he’s hunched over, leaning against the stone. “Take me instead.”

“You instead of a Katari? Please. That’s hardly a fair exchange. Your daughter is worth ten times as much as you to NAUFA.” Finley glances at me. “Will you come voluntarily or not?”

“Never,” I snap back. I don’t even need to think about my answer.

Finley’s green eyes betray anger for a moment, but a bored look quickly replaces it. “Then, I will offer you one final deal.” Finley begins pacing as he explains his offer. “See, I can leave this horrible, cold village without my friends,” he gestures to the two soldiers. “They can stay behind, burn the village, and arrest everyone here. All of you will be relocated to NAUFA prisons.” Stopping to face me, Finley adds, “Well, you won’t be in prison. You’ll be with me at a different facility.”

He continues, “Anyway, I’m sure even you can figure out what will happen to your father and neighbors there.” He holds up his hands as if weighing his options. “I take you, the Katari, and I’ve eliminated a threat to NAUFA. A good deal for NAUFA, a good deal for me.” He pauses and shrugs slightly. “Not such a good deal for you.”

Finley puts his hands in his pockets, and turns to look straight at me. “Of course, I could promise not to do that. But for me to agree to that, you’d have to give me something in return.”

“What is it?” I demand, already guessing at what he’s going to say.

“You’d have to come with me voluntarily.” Finley holds up his hand as if stopping any protests. “That’s my deal. So, which will it be?”

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Snow – Chapter 1 – Part 5

Last week, a man from the government showed up in the village. This week, Snow finds out who it is. Okay, okay, I can’t stand it any longer! I’ve got to say who it is. His name is Finley, and he is my male MC. I actually still remember the exact moment I came up with him. I was brushing my teeth and trying to decide where I should take Snow’s story. I knew I wanted to add in a second main character, but I wasn’t sure who. Suddenly, I had it. I remember thinking, “I should have a really arrogant guy be the second main character who comes to Northolt and takes Snow for the government.I was so excited I ran out of the bathroom, grabbed a green index card and scribbled the idea down in purple colored pencil. Finley’s evolved a lot since he was just a scribbled note, but he’s still arrogant and believes he’s perfect. 😉

I step closer, just enough so I can make out my dad and three other figures in the fog. Two of them are large and tall, imposing dark shapes in the blur of the frozen cloud. They have to be NAUFA soldiers. The third figure in front of the others, is shorter and smaller but strangely seems to be in charge. He steps closer to my dad and says something so softly I can’t hear, and then I see my dad’s arm fly out and hear the sickening sound of fist hitting jaw. The man reels back. The two large figures rush forward and grab my dad. The one strikes him across the face, and Dad stumbles back. The other brings his rifle down on Dad’s back, and I see my dad fall. Kiska barks and runs forward charging the soldiers. The one soldier swings his rifle around and knocks her in the head, and she runs off with a whimper. I cover my mouth with my hand, suppressing a cry. The soldiers continue to hit my dad, even though he’s on the ground. “Enough!” the man’s voice stops the beating.

“What do you want?” I hear Dad’s voice through the fog, his figure doubled over, kneeling in the snow. “I’ll give you anything. Just leave my daughter alone.”

The man’s laugh is full of scorn. “What could you have in this pitiful outpost that NAUFA would want? Besides, she’s not your daughter. She belongs to NAUFA, and I’m just here to retrieve what is ours.” The soldiers roughly haul Dad to his feet, and I know I have to do something. I can’t watch them hurt my dad anymore.

I run from my hiding spot over to my dad. “Let him go!” I shout. “Let him go!” I look at my dad’s face, bruised and bloody, his one eye swollen shut, and I feel anger seethe up in me. “Snow, no,” I hear my dad say but I don’t pay attention. I run at the one soldier and push him with all of my strength. He lets go of Dad, more out of surprise than from my blow. The soldier moves to grab hold of me, but the leader laughs and waves him away. I turn to face this man, ready to fight him, too. He has an ugly bruise forming on his jaw, but his eyes flash triumphantly. He smiles slightly. “Ah. Just who we need. Looks like you’re coming with us, girl.”

“Who are you?” I demand.

“The name’s Finley, and NAUFA assigned me to your case. I’m here to take you away from this godforsaken place.” He pushes his bangs back, and adjusts his oversized, grey coat.

“I’m not going anywhere!”

Finley smiles reassuringly. “We’d really prefer that you’d come voluntarily. It makes the process so much easier when the subject cooperates and does as she is told” He adds, “But you really do not have a choice. You’re coming with me.” Finley takes a step forward and grips my arm. From the fog comes a deep growl. Kiska, her head low and teeth bared, advances toward Finley, snarling at him low and deep with a ferocity I’ve never heard from her before. Finley lets go of me and backs up slightly, startled. Kiska barks and lunges towards him. Finley scrambles backwards, but not fast enough, and Kiska’s jaws grab his arm. Suddenly, there’s a bright flash of light, and a deafening explosion fills the air.

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Monthly Link Share – Inspiration Emergency

Welcome to October’s monthly link share! As I’m sure most of my readers know, next month is November a.k.a. NaNoWriMo month! *throws confetti* Of course, with NaNo right around the corner, I’ve been doing a ton of research trying to prepare for my novel. Today I’m sharing some of the links I dug up that have helped me.

I was going through some old NaNoWriMo blog posts and found this one from earlier this month. I almost went with a steampunk fairy tale idea for my NaNo novel, but changed it back to my current one. I thought this blog post would come in handy whenever I decide to tackle that steampunk idea!

http://blog.nanowrimo.org/post/98894282106/in-case-of-inspiration-emergency-re-imagine-a-familiar

As I mentioned in my character name post, I’ve been stuck between Gaelic names and more modern names for my characters. Thanks to this great list of Gaelic guy’s names from namenerds.com, I’ve decided on Taran for the guy. 😀

http://www.namenerds.com/scottish/gaelicguy.html

One of the hardest parts of writing a fantasy/sci-fi story for me is creating town names. Thanks to town and city name generators, I’ve been able to finally find some great names! This is one of my favorites as you can choose which country you want your names to be from, adding a touch of realism to the story.

http://www.mithrilandmages.com/utilities/CityNames.php

As I’ve been editing Snow, I’ve been doing a lot of research into Arctic life. There’s a small town in the very upper north of Alaska called Barrow. I’ve loosely based Northolt, Snow’s hometown, off of Barrow. One of the things that has helped me in writing a more realistic town is seeing the weather forecast for Barrow. I’ve been having a lot of fun looking at it, and it’s helped me have a better sense of just how brutal the Arctic is. I thought I’d share the tip and the link to the forecast. 🙂

http://www.weather.com/weather/today/USAK0025:1

Thanks for reading and clicking!

~ Kayla

Snow – Chapter 1 – Part 4

Last week, Snow and her dad had just returned home from hunting. In this scene, there’s a part where Snow is outside and there’s ice fog everywhere. I remember checking if fog can form in the Arctic and learning that it gets so cold in the Arctic that the water droplets in a fog cloud will actually freeze. It’s rare in the Western USA as it almost never gets cold enough, but up in Northern and Central Alaska, it can actually be quite common. I thought the ice fog was so cool (pun intended) I decided to let it hang out over Northolt for this scene! 😉

It’s past midnight by the time I’m in bed. Though my body is exhausted, I can’t sleep. Every time I close my eyes, my mind is filled with the whirling of the drones searching for me. I finally drift off and jeering villagers pursue me, chasing me out of my home. Jamin’s face is bigger than the rest, and his shouts fill my ears, and I sit straight up, heart pounding, awake again. By the time I do actually fall asleep, it’s early morning.

I open my eyes. The room is dark, and there’s no light reflecting through my window. Kiska is gone off my bed, and I assume she’s with Dad. I groan and turn over, not wanting to get up. I shut my eyes, trying to drift back off. It’s no use. I’m too awake at this point. Sitting up, I run my fingers through my messy blonde hair and push the blankets back. Sitting on the edge of my bed, I shut my eyes, listening for the typical sounds of morning. The house is completely silent. Wanting to see where my dad is, I slip off the edge of my bed. My feet patter across the floor, out into the living room.

I call his name softly, but only my stomach rumbles a response. I step into the kitchen looking for him and for breakfast. Taped to one of the cabinet doors is a note, and I yank it down, reading the messy handwriting. “Gone hunting. Meet me by the Stone at 0930.” I look up at the clock and realize it’s 0920 now. Changing quickly, I slip on my jacket and boots and head outside. An icy fog hovers in the air turning the snowy ground grey. As I walk, it becomes increasingly hard to see, but I know the way well, and my boots creak over the frozen path. It’s a short walk to the Stone, and as I near it, out of the grey blur I hear voices, and a dog’s bark and growl. I guess that the dog is Kiska, even though she never growls as she knows everyone here. Something doesn’t feel right. There’s a sense of impending doom hanging thick like the fog that surrounds me, and I don’t like it. I hurry on to get to Dad, telling myself it’s just a feeling, even though my sense of dread grows.

“I will not comply!” the shout shatters the silence surrounding me. The voice is Dad’s. I start running towards the sound. What’s going on? Are the hunter drones back? Have the villagers finally had enough of me and are trying to kick me out of the village?

“I’m afraid you don’t have much of a choice.” The voice is a man’s I’ve never heard before, and it’s accompanied by Kiska’s growl. My heart quickens. Oh, no. They’ve found Northolt. It’s over.

“She’s my daughter!” cries Dad. “I won’t let you take her!”

“She is not your daughter. Clearly you’re not understanding me. Like I said before, I’m afraid you don’t have much of a choice,” the man’s voice repeats, irritation dripping from every word.

Thanks for reading!

~Kayla

Snow – Chapter 1 – Part 3

Last time we left Snow, she and her dad had heard a drone in the forest and were heading back to the safety of the village. When I first wrote this scene, it was completely different. I’ve taken Chapter 1 through multiple revisions, and whenever I edit something new, I always send the results to my friend who’s my beta reader. She’s also the founder and only member of the Snow fandom. 🙂 Thanks so much, Julia, you’re a great friend! 😉

“Don’t worry. They’ll never find us,” Dad promises in a low whisper, squeezing my hand. We have been evading drones for years; the village hunters dodge them on a regular basis. My dad, as both hunter and leader, probably has the most experience of anyone in the village in dealing with them. Still, as the light whirring becomes louder, I can’t help but feel fear rising up. I take a deep breath and slowly blow it out knowing what’s coming. I watch my dad who is watching the sky. Suddenly, Dad pulls me to my feet, and we take off running. Away from the river, deeper into the forest we run silently. We duck under branches and over snow mounds, making our way to the village, to safety. As we run I know my dad is listening and calculating, carefully planning each path we take. Finally, Dad slows and holds up his hand for us to stop. I notice the whirring has grown fainter. Dad leans against a tree trunk and puts a finger to his lips. We stand there, listening to the ever fading whirring of the drone as it moves on to another area. The forest returns to its previous undisturbed silence. Dad opens up his hunting bag, pulls out an old, faded yellow map and spreads it out on the tree trunk.

“What pattern is the drone using?” Dad looks at me, motioning to the map. He’s been training me for years to recognize the search patterns used by the drones.

I look over the lines, thinking. “Grid Pattern A?”

Dad smiles. “Good job. And which drone usually uses that pattern at that altitude?”

I look at the map, and then close my eyes, remembering the buzzing of the drone. When you hear one, it’s a sound you never forget. “It’s a surveillance drone, and it’s traveling from east to west.”

“Actually, it’s coming from the northeast, but close. Recommended course of action?”

“It’s moving away from us now so we can continue hunting?” I turn my answer into a question, hoping to salvage the rest of what was supposed to be a peaceful afternoon with my dad.

Dad doesn’t answer and stands there looking intently into the sky. “You’re right, Snow. Normally, we would continue, but something doesn’t feel right to me. We’ll head back to the village.” With a single movement, he folds up the map and places it into his bag and begins the hike back home. I follow behind him, wondering about his uneasiness.

After a few minutes, I break the silence. “Dad?” The aurora glitters above us, now a dark, blood red color that turns everything around it the same bright hue.

“Yes, Snow?”

“Jamin was right. The drones are never out this time of the year.” The words stick in my throat, and I feel sick just saying them.

“Like I told Jamin, we’ll get through this together.” Dad flashes me a defiant look. “We’ve hidden from the drones for sixteen years. We can make it through another one.”

I can’t help but think of a few years earlier when three of our hunters were killed by a drone attack. That winter had been hard, too, but we made it through. Dad is right. We can do this together. That still doesn’t answer the other question I’ve had for a long time – the one I’ve had since I realized the drone searches started once I was found near the village. “Why are they hunting me, Dad? What do I have that they want?” I ask, my voice catching.

Dad looks at me, his brown eyes glinting. “I don’t know,” he finally admits. “I really don’t know.”

We continue trudging through the snow, until we’re on top of the ridge above Northolt. Here, I’m able to see Northolt spread out before me. The village is shielded from the drones’ sensors, making it the last safe place in the forest. The villagers here call it a town, but it’s really just a collection of ten white domes peeking out of the snow, arranged in a circle. I sense the breeze across my cheek, and although it doesn’t feel cold to me, I instinctively know the temperature is dropping.

“I’ll make sure I warn the other hunters to be extra careful for the next few days until drone activity dies down,” Dad says, more to himself than to me. “Come on, we have to get back to Northolt before it gets much later.” Dad starts down the slope.

I glance behind me one last time, for a moment thinking I can hear a drone. All I see, though, is the peaceful edge of the forest, utterly still and silent. I start down the slope, half-sliding, half-walking into the village. The only sign that anyone lives here are the footprints leading into the domes. I follow behind my father, my feet stepping into the holes made by his boots, as we return home for the night.

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

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