Saturday, December 27, 2014

An Amazing Year

This has been one amazing year. I finished my novel "Fitzgerald", started searching for an agent, went to a teen book festival, and started a new novel. Nothing has come from my agent search. I expected as much. The life of a writer is a lonely one. Finding publishers is no simple task. I must admit, I had hoped to find an agent this year. Don't most writers feel that way? Our work is flawless so everyone must love it. Well, we gotta get off our high horses quick before we get bucked off. It is a long process. Even so, I won't give up. No matter how long it takes I will be published one day.

On top of all of my writing, I went on a massive Disney vacation. My family and I went to Disney World the week of Halloween. It was beautiful and festive and... come on it was DISNEY!!! You can't go wrong with Disney. The day after Disney World we went on a week long Disney Cruise. The ship, The Disney Fantasy, is drop dead gorgeous. Let me tell you, I never wanted to leave. Disney knows how to keep a girl happy.

The best thing about this year was that I got married on November 22nd. It poured rain the entire day but I was able to take some amazing pictures despite it all. I mean, not everyone gets to take pictures in the rain on their wedding day. I looked on the bright side during the cloudy day. There were breaks in the rain throughout the day so we could get pictures. All in all, it was a perfect day. For our honeymoon we went to Pigeon Forge, TN. I'd never heard of the place before and expected this...


But it was so much fun and really beautiful. We also spent a day in Gatlinburg, TN. Christmas decorations were up so the whole area was sparkling and bright, swimming in Christmas cheer. My heart fluttered and I cannot wait to go back someday.

I'm now settled into married life with three dogs and ready to continue writing. I know that 2015 will be filled with even more adventures. Maybe this will be the year I find an agent? Wish me luck! I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Texas Teen Book Festival 2014

   This year I was able to attend the Teen Texas Book Festival, formally known as the Austin Teen Book Festival. I went alone so I expected to remain quiet and shy for most of the day. However, I found myself talking with quiet a few people. I was able to open up to readers and writers about all things bookish. Being in a room with people who love what I love was a breath of fresh air.
   I must be honest... that my main goal of the day was to meet James Dashner. For those of you who know me or read my blog posts you know that I am a HUGE DashNERD!!! I showed up early to buy his book, The Rule of Thoughts, and too hear him speak and sign my books. It went better than I could have hoped. I saw at one point at the start of the day that many Dashner fans were asking him for pictures. I'm not the type to go up to strangers and ask for things, but I took a deep breath and asked for a picture. He, of course, was very kind about it and I got my picture. Taking the opportunity, I told him how much I enjoyed his writing. He was beaming, especially since I talked about a book of his other than the famous The Maze Runner.
   Fast forward eight hours, I made it to the front of the extremely long line for him to sign my books and he looked at me and said, “I met you already, right?”

   You can imagine how thrilled I was that he remembered me. ME! Out of 4,000 plus people. I walked away from that place with my head held high, trying not to grin like a mad woman. He pretty much made my entire LIFE!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Those People (Short Story)

I'm not sure why I came. Curiosity, most-likely. I suppose it doesn't matter. All that matters is that I came.
Those people— I can't take my eyes off of them. What was the man with the camera doing here? Was he a tourist, snapping a picture of the little girl in the red hat? His backpack was probably full of overpriced souvenirs and a snack for later. But he had on a green tie. Maybe he was on his way to a meeting to sell his photos to a magazine.
And what of the girl? She seemed to want to climb the ladder along the wall beside her. Did she want to get to me? Another girl her age was rushing by. Were they friends having a play date? Were one of the two women nearby their mothers? Or were the children sisters? I could hear their laughter as they played. Sweet innocents.
A woman was dressed in a black suit, a white blouse to give it dimension. Was she a reporter? Was she on her lunch break? Maybe she was on her way to meet her husband or pick someone up from the airport.
Some of the people I can't see well. Light reflects in my eyes and blurs their images. I imagine they were happy, going about their business. Nothing could harm them. They must've thought that, same as I do.
What had brought about this event? What brought me here now? Had they all agreed to meet? Did they plan to hold themselves down to await their fate? Had someone taken them, forcing them? I stand at the edge and stare at them. They can't see me. Soon they will be gone. Perhaps that fact is why I came.
I reach down and reel back in alarm. Cold. My heart aches for those people. Was it cold then? Had they been frightened? Why was I here? I couldn't help them now.
Blue. It was all blue and blurry. Their faces were morphed, distorted. Their expressions were unreadable. Were they smiling? Screaming? Eyes open in panic or closed in peace? I turn my back on the scene below. I wipe my wet hand on my pant leg, knocking against my gold badge. I'm not sure why I came back. I only know I will solve the mystery.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Writing the Beginning

    There are many writers who have given their advice on how to begin a novel. I have heard great advice and I have heard advice that I think could mess up a story. Writers should write however they please, but it is always helpful to gather other opinions. Writers wonder how to capture a reader's attention straight away. Do you use a prologue? Start from the beginning of the protagonist's life? Once upon a time? How can you make a beginning pop?
    For me, the beginning of the story should start in the middle. Start the story in the middle of the protagonist's life. Whatever they're going through has probably been going on for a while. Maybe a girl its hiding from the cops. Why? Start there. Something must have happened to cause this. Start with the chase. The reader's mind will race, thinking up all the reasons for the cops to be chasing after said girl.
    Think about it. No one's life simply starts. Even if the story is about a baby. Well... who are the parents? What makes this baby so special? The story wouldn't start with the back story of the mom and dad. That isn't important. That would be a snooze-fest for the reader. The story is about the baby, so start with the baby. Start with the mother going through labor. Throw the reader into a dramatic birth. The agony, the stress. Maybe she won't stop bleeding or the baby is breech. That is the beginning that will make the reader's heart ache. In the back of the writer's mind they will know who the parents are and maybe something in their life will come forward later in the story. Save that.

    Beginnings don't have to be scary. I think writing the beginning is the funnest part. That is the start of a new world. New characters. It is the beginning that expands the imagination. Just start. The story will flow from fingertips to paper. Starting from the middle works for all types of writing. Novels, short stories, poems, even lyrics. Start in the middle and the rest will fall into place. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Find Your Next Favorite Book

I have done a lot of reading and I plan on doing a lot more of it. If you're trying to find your next favorite book here are some that I've read that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Everyone else should too!

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
This is one of my all time favorite books. Don't get discouraged if you start reading it and feel like you don't have a CLUE what's going on. You're not suppose too. The protagonist is thrown into a bizarre place with no memory if himself besides his name. If he has no clue why should the reader? This book starts with your mind racing and it doesn't stop. In fact, there are two other books after it that add more hills and valleys to the epic roller coaster that is The Maze Runner.

The Name of the Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch
This books is as crazy as the title sounds. It's a book for younger readers but don't let that stop you. This book and the books that follow take you on what I would call a "participation read". The author (who remains anonymous for your own safety) begs you not to read the books. The Secret is too dangerous! And yet, he can't keep a secret. So... don't you wanna know what the Secret is?

The Transall Saga by Gary Paulsen
Oh... this book. This amazing book. My fifth grade teacher read this to my class and I was captivated. I purchased my own copy —er... my mom did— and since then I've read it, skimmed it, told anyone who would listen about it, and it still makes me smile. Imagine a thirteen-year-old boy falling into a blue light and ending up in a strange land full of odd people and animals. His life is thrown upside down and you are on your toes page after page. It's fantastic!

Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn
There are six books total in the Dragonback Adventure series. The first, Dragon and Thief, was given to me by a girl in my church. She said she thought I was someone who would enjoy it. It didn't seem like something I would normally pick up, but I thanked her and.. well.. it was a book! I would never pass up a book. It took a few days but soon I forced myself to pick it up. Long story short, I needed to read the rest! The SF epicness is... EPIC! A boy is framed and needs help from a symbiotic dragon like alien to clear his name. The feels this book gives are numerous.

Existence by Abbi Glines
This book is short but fun. It's a corny teen romance. Girl loves dead boy. Actually, the boy is Death. As in the Grim Reaper Death. The protagonist can see ghosts and… well... Death falls in love with her. It's just a fun story to read though while waiting for other books to come out or on long drives. A book to veg out with.

Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas
This is a different book than what I normally read. It's a romance. There are five books and each one is from the view point of four sisters and one brother in the Hathaway family. The books are romantic, jaw dropping, exciting, and suspenseful. I recommend them all if you like romances.

These are only a few of the many, many books I've read. All of them hold a special place in my heart. However, there is still room for more. This next list are books that I am planning —itching— to read. I don't know too much about each book for fear of spoilers. What I do know I love and that is what drew me to them in the first place.

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
Another book by James Dashner. This is the start of a new trilogy. I admit I first wanted to read it simply because it's another Dashner book. However, I started reading the first few pages at the end of another one of his books and I'm hooked already. Due to lack of time in my schedule I have yet to read it all the way, but it is waiting on my shelf and I plan to start it by October. I'm so excited!

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
I am a huge Peter Pan fan, so when I stumbled upon this in the bookstore I did a double take. It's a twist on the Peter Pan story. Basically before Peter meets Wendy he knew Tiger Lily. This is about their relationship and I'm assuming their love story. Different and worth a read.

The Girl With the Iron Touch by Kady Cross
I'm starting to really enjoy Steampunk. Everything about it is fun and imaginative. This book is full of that. From what I understand, a girl is kidnapped and used to help resurrect the protagonists' archenemy. It seems to be a fast-paced, even romantic story. I want to fall into that world.

Landry Park by Bethany Hagen
I was waiting in the airport one day and wandered into the bookstore. Many books caught my eye but this one stole the attention. This follows a young teenage girl and her rich, almost royal life. This life, however, isn't the life she wants. Her family expect one thing from her even though she'd rather do the opposite. The book has rebellion, romance, and questions the protagonist on her values. I'm highly interested.

The Selection by Kiera Cass
This book has been out for quite some time. There are three others that follow. I'd seen it before but it's only been recently that I've paid attention to it. In the story, most of the girls want to be selected to compete for the prince's hand. The protagonist dreads it. The story shows the world of a common life and a world of glittering jewels. I'm excited to read it and learn the entire story.

I hope you've discovered a book you never knew about or agree with the books I have read and plan to read. We can all relate to each other through books and that is the greatest feeling. What are your favorites?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book to Movie Adaptations

         Books. Movies. Books made into movies. Oh, this topic. I'm surprised I haven't touched on this topic sooner. Frankly, I hate most of the movies based off books. Being someone who loves to read I want the movie to be as true to the book as possible. I understand that some things must be changed for the silver screen, but some things are NOT that hard to keep. Let's go over some examples. Keep in mind I'm only talking about books of YA or middle grade.
Something as simple as hair can't possibly be that hard to keep the same. If the character is blonde hire a blonde actor or dye their hair. Harry Potter did this beautifully. We all know the actors playing Fred and George are natural brunettes. Even so, those boys were red-heads for years. Perfection. Now, in the Percy Jackson movie (The Lightning Thief) Annabeth is meant to be blonde. The author mentions her hair many times, yet in the movie she's brunette. Hmmm. Yes, that did not ruin the movie (There was plenty of other things that helped with that) but was it so hard to make her blonde? Maybe it's just me.
Not only hair, but when an actor is hired and they aren't the correct race that drives me crazy. Imagine if Gale (The Hunger Games) had been, say, Asian/Black/Indian. Pretty much anything besides White. I would have been sitting in the theater with furrowed eyebrows. That happened in The Lightning thief (yes, that movie again). Grover is described as scrawny with acne. Sadly, no matter how good an actor movie Grover was, he just wasn't Grover.
Now, I'm not saying every character needs to look just as described in the book. If it's a minor character or someone who isn't in the story for very long, then I don't care too much how they look on screen. The characters need to be close enough. Just enough. Heck, I'll overlook the hair thing if the character is otherwise spot on.
I understand that movies and books are different. I love movies, don't get me wrong. I adore them. That's why it's so hard when things go so wrong. It's even better when things go so right. I'm going to go out on a limb here and talk about a movie that hasn't come out yet. Call it wishful thinking.
The Maze Runner. Obviously I haven't seen this movie yet, but I'm such a huge fan of the book that I've watched/read interviews concerning it. Without giving away any spoilers, the author as gone over a few things that happened in the book that won't happen in the movie. At first when I heard these things I was sad. I loved those things about the book. However, when the author explained the reasons for cutting them from the movie it actually made sense. To keep those things in the movie... well it would be corny. A lot of standing awkwardly in front of the camera. After he said that I wanted to thank them. We don't need another Twilight*.
Lastly, I would like to take a moment to touch on sequels. I love a good sequel. When done right, both book and movie can be a joy. Even some of the bad Harry Potter movies are still good. And then... we reach the Part 1/Part 2. The Deathly Hallows is such a large book and the final chapter in the epicness that is Harry Potter that it made sense to split it into two movies. It stayed true to the book without rushing it. Even with all the added random stuff for the 3D aspect. Plus, I'm sure those involved didn't mind the extra cash they got for the extra movie.
So, Potter aside, there came all the other movies. We'll mention Mockingjay. That book isn't any larger than the first two. The first movies were done in one go. One movie per book. So... why is Mockingjay being split in two? There is no need. I can only imagine it'll be stretched out with added scenes to fill time. It's kind of like what is happening with The Hobbit. That book isn't large enough for three movies each being three hours. I mean... I can see why die-hard fans are irritated. I'd say, if a book is borderline six hundred pages then they can consider breaking it in two. Other than that... I see no reason besides making extra cash.
Books to movies. It can be an amazing ride for reader. The Hunger Games, Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, The Lord of the Rings. And it can be a readers worst nightmare. The Lightning Thief, Eragon, Divergent.
Good luck to all the future book to movie adaptations. It's not easy, but it can be done.

*I loved the Twilight books. The movies though... not so much. It's such a large topic I won't even bring it up more than this. It deserves its own blog post. Sigh.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Music Inspiration

That's why you and I ended over U N I.
And I said that's fine, but you're the only one that knows I lied.”

Ed Sheeran is such an amazing singer/songwriter. His song U N I is one of my all time favorites. So much so that every time I listen to it I think of the same idea for a story. Even though I had the story in my head I never sat down to write it. It wasn't until I saw a beautiful picture on Pinterest (a girl who perfectly matched a character in my head) while listening to the song that it all clicked. I knew I needed to write. I sat down and typed out a couple pages. Anything that came to my head I wrote.
Music is amazing. I have always loved singing and the violin. In fact, I'm taking violin lessons now. I wish that I could write music like I write stories. To create music to express my feelings (or the feelings of my characters) would be dream-like. Imagine writing your novel's background music. HAHA! That's sounds nerd-tastic! I've tried, but my music never turns out how I imagine it. I'll leave that to those with the talent.
What I will do is appreciate how notes flow. They're like words. Words can be placed in thousands of different orders to create thousands of different stories. Same goes for notes. It amazes me how many songs can come from one instrument. If I could sit back and play my violin with random notes straight from my head I would be in heaven.
Speaking of violin, Ed Sheeran isn't the only musician who has inspired me. Lindsey Stirling is another who has written heart-stopping, thought provoking pieces. Her music finds it's way inside your soul. I actually discovered her while writing. For me, it is difficult to write while listening to music if the music has lyrics. I always end up paying attention to the words or singing along and my writing slows down. Case and point, the band FUN. is impossible for me to listen to without singing and dancing. But violin brings me peace. As I searched for violin music to listen to I stumbled upon Lindsey. I was instantly hooked. Without fail, I always feel happier when I hear her play. Most of her songs have no words and yet the sound brings a tear to my eye. I've been inspired by many of her songs.
My story that is inspired by Ed Sheeran's song isn't finished, but I know the direction I'm taking it. My hope is that it will make people ponder and get confused. Yes, confused. As the story goes on the reader will think they know what's happening, and then a moment will come that changes the entire direction. That's how some of Ed's songs make me feel. The entire album is a rollercoaster ride. I've laughed, cried, and had deep thoughts. It is my hope that my readers will have the same flow of emotions.

The definition of music- Vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.

Ed Sheeran
Lindsey Stirling

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sad, Brown Eyes: The End

Juliana awoke in a hospital. She had tubes hooked up to her and a mask over her face. She tried to lift her head but it felt like it was filled with rocks. Her vision was somewhat fogged. Shapes spun and spiraled. “Hello?” she said, the words coming out like a leak in a hoes.
A hand rested on hers. “Juliana?” Pietro said.
She turned her head toward his voice. Her eyes cleared and his face came into view. He kissed her forehead. “We almost lost you,” he informed.
She coughed and a groan followed. “I feel like I've been struck by a stagecoach.”
No, no,” he said. “Just an Anichanical rhinoceros.”
She held her breath to keep back her laugh. Laughing would only hurt. As she swallowed it down, she stared into his eyes. She never realized that his eyes were blue. She'd known her entire life, but it never mattered until then. “My eyes are brown,” she stated.
Pietro nodded. “Yes.”
Mom's were green.”
A tear rolled down her cheek. “You never told me I was adopted.” Saying those words aloud hurt worse than her broken ribs. Pietro covered his eyes with his hand. He pressed his lips together. “He made us swear to never tell you.” He lowered his hand. “I'd interviewed Carlo before about an old experiment at the time. He remembered me and how I said my wife and I wanted children but were infertile. Then the day came when he came to us with his newborn and begged us to take her. 'Her life will be in danger with me', he'd said. So we took you in as our own.”
Juliana tugged the mask from her face. Besides her splitting headache she felt a hundred times better. How long had she been asleep? She touched her chest and looked down at it. It felt slightly bruised but nowhere near as painful as she last recalled.
She slowly inched up against the headboard. She hissed through her teeth as her body protested. Pietro helped her. She rested her head back and inhaled slowly. “I hate that my entire life is one big secret.”
Pietro put something on her lap. She glanced down at it. Letters. Pietro said, “Carlo wrote you a letter for each of your birthdays. He sent them to us for safe keeping, in case the day came that he could tell you who he was.”
Juliana picked up the first letter. The parchment was worn and smelled old. She read the neatly written script.

My darling Juliana,
I am so sorry I haven't been able to watch you grow this first year of
your life. Someday I hope to explain in person why I've been away. For now, I
can only dream of your big brown eyes (those are from me) and your ebony
hair (that's from your mom and I both).

Juliana stopped reading and moved ahead to a letter that had photographs paper clipped to it.

Dearest Juliana,
You're eight. When I turned eight my father gave me a book written by
Thomas Carlyle. I have always loved reading and studying. If you are
anything like me you may enjoy his works.
I wish I could see how beautiful you are. I have no doubt that you look
just like your mother. I sent pictures of her so you can know what she looked
like. Oh how lovely she was. Her name was Eleanora.

Juliana studied the woman in the photos. She had black hair like Juliana. She even had the same forehead and cheeks. Her eyes were further apart and she didn't look as tall as Juliana. Still, she had an adventurous air about the way she stood. Under her arm, much to Juliana's delight, was a book. This woman enjoyed reading.
Juliana looked through the other photographs before she skipped on to the final letter.

My daughter,
Happy tenth. I have thought of you often. Pietro came to see me despite
my order to stay away. He told me how smart you are. Things he's told me
confirm you are indeed my blood. You found a bat fossil? You clever,
curious girl. I wish I could tell you to be careful. Curiosity can lead you to
trouble. Trust me.

Juliana paused and laughed even though it hurt. How true his words were. Her curiosity lead her to Carlo's cabin. Without that curiosity she never would have found out about Project Reinisiate and would have just ignored that X on Pietro's makeshift map. Curiosity would always be a part of her. That fact brought a smile to her face.
She sniffed and wiped her wet eyes and continued reading.

Pietro is concerned. He knows about my work and how Gerard Black is
trying to find me. You need to keep him busy so he doesn't do something
stupid. He loves you, I can tell. He fears Gerard Black will eventually
discover my identity and therefore discover you. I don't want him to take
matters into his own hands. If only I could tell you this to your face. For now I
can only hope.
At least one good thing came from Pietro's untoward visit. I hope you
enjoy the Anichanical. Pietro and I agreed a girl with a dream of animals
like both her fathers deserves a taste of them. Even if it is an Anichanical.
Someday I hope my work will bring you a real one. Have a happy birthday,

Juliana lowered the letter. “Alec was from both of you?”
Pietro nodded. “I told him how you were fascinated by my textbook. We knew you'd love him. Though I must take credit for the name Alec.” He winked. Juliana giggled and wiped her eyes some more. Her heart ached. “I lost Alec too.”
Pietro rubbed her shoulder. “I'm so sorry, my daughter.”
She looked out the window. She couldn't see much through the frost. The letter in her hand flitted down to her lap. “He only sent letters up to my tenth birthday,” she pointed out.
That's probably due to the fact that your mother and I neglected his warnings and went to New Scotland to confront Gerard Black.”
Juliana shot her eyes to him. “You did what?” Nothing should have surprised her anymore, but she still found herself asking questions. “Carlo said you went to New Paris to find the lab.”
He would have said that,” Pietro said. “He never would have told you the truth. That would have defeated the purpose of keeping himself away from you.”
Someone knocked on the door. It opened and Nathaniel's head and shoulder came into the view. His Anichanical parrot sat on his shoulder. Juliana forgot the letters for a second. “Nathaniel! You're on your feet!”
He scooted passed the door, leaning his weight on a crutch. “More or less. It has been a week.”
His words bounced around in her head. “A week?”
Nathaniel chuckled and sat down on a stool beside her bed. “You look better, Juli.”
She rubbed her temples. “Well,” she sighed, “I'm happy you're up and about.” She stacked the letters neatly, patting each side and corner so they matched up perfectly. The Anichanical parrot repeated her last words. “Up and about! Up and about!”
Nathaniel pinched its sleek beak closed. He winced as he shifted his wounded leg. “Ellis and the scientist's have prepared a safe environment to reveal all of their animals as well as a press conference for a Q and A.”
When?” she asked.
Tomorrow morning.”

With some convincing from Pietro, Juliana's doctors finally agreed to discharge her as long as she had a personal nurse. She consented. The nurse pushed her in a wheelchair out to a waiting stagecoach. Nathaniel had already gone ahead to assist Ellis, along with Lennon and Benjamin.
Juliana tugged her coat tighter around her shoulders and watched the New Paris scenery roll by. When the stagecoach came to its destination, Juliana couldn't believe the amount of people who'd come to see the animals. All of New Paris must have been in attendance. Not only New Paris but the surrounding countries.
A stage had been set up in front of the Eiffel Tower. Steel ramps were set on either side of it. Large pens that were covered by blue curtains were spaced evenly around the back of the stage. Every now a then an uncommon sound would come from them and people would stop and stare in curiosity. Some people kept their distance from the pens. The reasons ranged from nervousness, doubt, or the most obvious reason, the overpowering smell.
The nurse wheeled Juliana to the tent beside the stage. Her father held open the front flap. Ellis, Lennon, and Benjamin stood inside. Juliana looked around for Nathaniel. Not long after her eyes swept the tent, Nathaniel came limping in from the back flap. “He's here,” he said.
Someone new entered the tent. Juliana's heart swelled. She stood carefully and met Mr. Unsworth in the middle of the tent. She hugged him as tightly as she could without her chest bursting. He looked at her bruised face. His thumb gently rubbed over the one under her eye. “Juliana, I was so worried about you. When Louise came to the house all I could think about was the day your parents left you in my care.”
She smiled for his benefit. “I'm fine. Everything will be better now.” She stepped to the side and Mr. Unsworth laid eyes on Pietro for the first time in seventeen years. Immediately his eyes moistened. Pietro embraced him. “My old friend. How will I ever repay you for raising my daughter?”
Mr. Unsworth laughed to himself and said, “Don't go missing again.”
Pietro shook his friend's hand. “No promises.”
Ellis cleared his throat. “I'm sorry to interrupt, but the reveal is about to begin.”
Juliana stepped aside and Ellis exited the tent. The crowd went wild. Their booming cheers and applause resonated in her sore chest. It almost hurt. She winced at the odd sensation and sat down in her wheelchair. The nurse wheeled her out to the corner of the stage. Nathaniel and his father stood beside her.
Ellis stood on stage in front of a large microphone. The crowd ceased their cheering. Ellis introduced himself briefly before going through the details of Project Reinistate. Naturally people asked questions that he said he'd answer at the Q and A. When he finished his explanation he said, “Would you all like to meet some of our successful subjects?”
The crowd couldn't contain their excitement. Some of the scientists at the front of the stage had to order people to back up. Everyone wanted a close look at whatever animal they brought out. Ellis clapped his hands. “I must ask for you to keep your voices down so as to not frighten them. This is most of their first times above ground.” He pressed a button on a side table and a large, white screen rose up out of the stage. An image of the stage appeared for the massive audience to have a good look at each animal.
The scientists started with the smaller animals. The shocked and awed reactions from the crowd made Juliana smile; she knew that was only the beginning. She watched the back pen as a scientist led out the pony and giraffe. A child screamed and began crying. The pony neighed and dug his front hoof in the snow. Ellis said, “They won't harm you! Please keep your voices down!”
The mothers quieted their children and the pony relaxed. One by one, each animal walked over the stage. Beautiful creatures. As Juliana watched, she cried. All of the pictures she'd studied her entire life were leaping from the page right before her eyes. Some were larger than she'd imagined, even though most were still babies. The experience overwhelmed her; the impossible stood before her.
She could feel her heart beating in her fingertips. A scientist walked a buffalo up the ramp. That animal's fur was what her coat was made out of. She recognized it as a breeze tossed it. The colors, the texture. It belonged on the animal's back, not hers.
When the final animal crossed the stage, Ellis began the Q and A. Juliana couldn't stay anymore. She asked the nurse to take her back to the tent. Nathaniel went with her to get off his leg. She stared at the back wall and took something out of her bag. The letters from Carlo. Nathaniel pulled up a chair beside her and asked the nurse for some privacy. The nurse consented and left quickly. She wanted to watch the Q and A.
Nathaniel's Anichanical sat in the corner offline. Juliana had never liked the thing, but it stung seeing that it was still operating. She had never imagined her life without Alec. Anichanical's were built to last. He'd been her constant companion after her parents went missing. Even with Nathaniel, sometimes she'd only wanted silent companionship. With Alec gone her sense of security went with him.
She ran her fingers over the edges of the letters. Nathaniel tapped her shoulder. She blinked her thoughts from her mind. She'd forgotten he was there. He gave her his crooked grin. “Your animals are real,” he said. Being her childhood friend, he'd always known of her love of the extinct creatures. “Are you going to keep one?”
He chuckled and ran his hand through his hair. “Juli, I love you, but I have to tell you that you've been—”
Been what?” she spat. Her tone made him shut his mouth. Juliana dropped the letters into her lap. “I lost my mother, my Anichanical, Carlo, and... I'm adopted. So please, do tell me what I've been.” She leaned over the arm of the wheelchair and glared into his eyes. Nathaniel grimaced and sighed. “I know that, Juli. I hate seeing you this way. Sad.”
Carlo's sad eyes came to her mind. Now she understood his sadness. All his many secrets and the guilt of what happened to her parents. She tried to conceive the feelings he must have felt because of his vision. Project Reinitiate was a scientific breakthrough. However, making Project Reinitiate a reality had changed his life. Hiding his wife was one thing, but then giving up his only child couldn't have been easy. Especially after his wife passed away bring her to the world. Anyone would have sadness in their eyes.
I'll be fine,” she said, even though she wasn't sure she would be.

Juliana stared up at the ceiling of her bedroom. Mr. Unsworth had insisted Pietro move in until he and Juliana were fully rested. Juliana had to talk her father into it but soon he agreed. Two months passed since they returned to New San Gimignano.
After one month Juliana returned to the library. Before she could settle back into her routine, Louise asked her to spill every detail of her journey. Juliana said only what she had too without stirring up bad memories. That was easier said than done since the entire journey had practically been a bad memory. She told her how Nathaniel rescued her and her father and about the laboratory and Project Reinitiate. That was enough to appease Louise.
She sat up and got ready for the day. When she looked at her reflection she hardly recognized the woman staring back at her. She looked pasty and bleary. Her eyes were the same brown, hollow sadness as Carlo's. Her hair had lost it's sheen. The trauma, both mental and physical, had taken it's toll on her.
She bathed and dressed in a gray dress with green ribbons that ended with bows. She pulled her tresses atop her head. Before leaving her room, she wrapped Carlo's cravat around her wrist as she did everyday. The only time she took it off was for bed and to bathe. She couldn't bare to part from it.
She walked down to the workshop. Mr. Unsworth was busy repairing a stagecoach wheel. The old man didn't see her as she walked in, but Nathaniel did. He limped over to her. He hadn't had need for a crutch in weeks, but his injury would forever cause him some discomfort.
Good morning, Juliana,” he said. She gave him a smile she didn't feel. Nathaniel sighed. “Oh, Juli, I know that's false. Give me a real smile.”
Someday,” she promised.
The blowtorch Mr. Unsworth was using turned off and he stood from the busted wheel. He peeled back his round goggles, resting them on his forehead. “Juliana! There you are!” He set down his things and pulled off his gloves. “Did you hear that New San Gimignano will be one of the first cities to have real horses to pull the stagecoaches?”
Not until they're yearlings,” Nathaniel corrected. Juliana tried to picture a living horse in front of a stagecoach. It was too crazy to be true. Every time she saw the horse in her mind it morphed with metal and steam; into an Anichanical. “It will be a sight,” she said.
I'll say,” said Mr. Unsworth as he came over to them. “Ellis is coming today to make sure the city is well prepared for real Anichan –er— animals.”
This was news to Juliana. “I didn't know he was coming.”
Nathaniel checked his watch. “Ah, no, I'm late for work.”
Do you want to ride together?” Juliana inquired. They worked only a couple blocks apart. He shook his head. “I don't want to rush you. I'll talk to you later.” He grabbed his coat and hurried out the workshop entrance. Mr. Unsworth lifted his eyebrows and tugged the goggles back over his eyes. “You should head to the library. I'll see you this evening.”
Right.” Juliana went upstairs for her coat and headed out in the cold. She decided to walk since Nathaniel had declined a ride. As she walked people stopped her and told her how excited they were about the animals and to give condolences about her mother. No one knew of her relationship to Carlo and therefore never said a word about him. She doubted anyone knew he ever existed.
When she reached the library Louise zipped to her side. “You are in so much trouble, Juliana.” She linked her arm with hers. Juliana looked down at her friend. “Now who's angry with me?”
Louise lifted her finger to her lips and smiled knowingly. Juliana narrowed her brown eyes. “What are you up too?”
Louise giggled like a schoolgirl and tugged on Juliana's arm. “Come with me.”
Juliana followed curiously. She could never ignore a secret. It was her worst trait, she now realized. The two women went to the back of the library and went out to the courtyard. Nathaniel stood with a bouquet of lilacs. He wore a clean-cut suit and had on a top hat. The very site made Juliana laugh. He hated wearing clothing like that. “What on earth are you wearing, Nathaniel?”
He cracked his crooked smile. “What?” He held out his arms. “I can look sharp every now and then.”
Behind him, walking through the gardens of snowdrops around the courtyard, were Lennon and Benjamin. They were also dressed in the same fashion. Not long after Juliana saw Mrs. Goodwin, Pietro, and Ellis. Everyone was dressed immaculately in black and white. Louise moved from her side to stand with the others. Juliana didn't understand. “What's going on?”
Ellis spoke for everyone. “We've gathered here for you.” He stepped forward through the group and took her cold hands. “Project Reinisiate never would have been freed without you.”
She felt a pinch of guilt. “It wasn't me. Carlo—”
Yes,” Ellis interrupted. “Carlo was the mastermind. He came up with the project —put it in motion— but you were all he ever talked about. You were his pride and joy. The rest of the team teased him, saying they should rename the project Project Juliana.”
That made her laugh before she could cry. Ellis escorted her through her friends to one of the garden beds. “Carlo would be so proud of you, as we all are. You risked your life for the animals and that is something they will never be able to repay.”
Pietro appeared at her side. He smiled down at her. “But perhaps we can.”
Movement caught her eye. She focused on a back corner of the library wall. One of the scientists came to view holding a lead. Juliana's heart skipped. Her chest squeezed and she feared it would puncture another lung. At the end of the lead was a grizzly bear cub. Juliana covered her mouth and unconsciously walked towards the beast.
The scientist gave her as much space as he could. The bear was still young so Juliana had to kneel. The bear stared at her with inquisitive black eyes. They stared at each other in silence for ten minutes. No one interrupted them. The little bear sniffed the air, taking in her sent. The wonder Juliana felt clearly equaled in this little cub's eyes. She'd made eye contact with Alec many times over the years, but the connection between her and this living thing was indescribable. This moment would forever be a part of her life. A secret anomaly between her and the bear. The instant link of trust, fondness, and friendship.
When Juliana finally spoke, she spoke to the bear. “Hello there. Are you a boy or a girl?”
Ellis answered on behalf of the cub. “Female. So far none of our male specimens have taken. She's the first successful grizzly bear initiate. Six months old.”
Juliana cautiously reached out her hand. The bear stood on her hind legs and lifted her nose to Juliana's palm. A tear rolled down Juliana's cheek and she quickly wiped it on her shoulder. The bear grunted and rolled onto Juliana's lap, pawing at the air. Juliana scratched her under her chin. Soft. Warm. Breath.
She'll need looking after in the laboratory for a few more months,” Ellis stated. “But once we have a food source available to you she's all yours.” Juliana whipped her head around, inhaling sharply. Ellis smiled with a nod. “If you'll have her.”
Yes,” she said. She got to her feet and threw her arms around him. “Thank you.” She went around and hugged everyone in attendance. This was the kindest thing anyone had ever done for her. For the remainder of the day she spent it in the courtyard with the tiny creature. They played, ate, went on a walk. The only time they went inside was to nap in the back room where Juliana once hid her trunk of books.
While the bear slept against Juliana's leg, Juliana stroked her soft fur and spoke to her in whispers. “You and I will be a great team. I'll show you all the places I discovered with Alec. There's a cave not too far from the city. Small, but cozy.”
The bear snorted and continued on dozing. Juliana giggled and rested her head on the floor. The future wouldn't be all sweets and flowers now that the animals were returning. On the contrary, things would possibly get harder before they got better. But Juliana didn't worry. When things finally got better it would happen in a flash.
She caught her reflection on the side of a cart of books. She stared into her own eyes. Carlo's eyes. Those brown, happy eyes.

The End

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Writer's Doubt

       I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: Overcoming Writer’s Doubt’ held by Positive Writer. - See more at:

I started writing at the age of thirteen. I wrote out 103 pages long hand (spelling most words horrendously incorrectly) and I just knew it was the greatest thing since Shakespeare. Over the next two years, as I read over my work, I realized... I had a long way to go. Friends and family would say that it reminded them of this book or of that book, and they were right. My story was borderline plagiarism. From that moment on every time I sat down to write I stopped and thought, Oh no... this has been done before. I'm no good. This was my first experience with writers doubt.
Yes, many writers go through this. We write a new story and feel passionate about it. It's exciting, fresh, and daring. Even so, somewhere down the road, we hit a road block. I would say this it the real “writers block”. It's not that we can't think of what to write next, but that we fear what we want to write. The book I'm currently writing made me feel overjoyed and I couldn't stop talking about it with my sister. I'd never written anything like it. Then I reached page 100. By this point is where the writer's doubt attacks. I started thinking that it sounded too much like other books. People would think I stole the idea or even that I had zero imagination, since it was like all the others. It made me want to cry.
It was my sister who talked me off the ledge. She rolled her eyes with her sweet smile and said, “You always say that.” I stared at her for a few seconds and realized she was right. I did always say that. What I came to realize was that yes, my story did sound similar to others, but all stories are inspired by similar things. There's always the protagonist, antagonist, comic relief, and love interest. There's a crime that needs solving or a world that needs saving. It wasn't about me taking ideas, but how I used those ideas and made them my own.
I have a friend who I haven't seen or spoken with in many years. He is currently reading my story story which I posted on my blog. I had every reason to believe no one was reading it, so when he sent me an e-mail out of the blue telling me how much he was enjoying it, it made my heart swell. All that doubt I'd felt had been for nothing. He could be the only person in the world reading my short story, but at least he has been entertained. That is success. That is a personal win.
We as writers need to have faith in ourselves. Our stories are our own and deserve to be read, even if only by a few. Start your story, take ideas from everywhere, and make it your own. It may not be the next bestseller, but it will touch someone somewhere. It will spark a reader's imagination, inspire another writer, or help you grow in your writing until you do write that bestseller.
So, writer's doubt? Forget about it. It's all in your head, just like it is in mine. We are storytellers. We make dark days gain new life. Polish your story and make it fresh.