Good Bye

I don’t know if there is anything in the world I hate more than saying good bye.  This class has been amazing, and not to be cliche, but I really can’t believe it’s over.  I mean, I really can’t.  It hasn’t quite clicked yet, and I’m not looking forward to the moment when it does.  I will probably melt in a puddle of depression.  So, I better write a good bye note before then. 😛

Ms. Gaines— You are such a wonderful teacher– one of the best I’ve ever had.  You made class so much fun, yet still taught us a lot.  Your own writing has been an inspiration to me this year (and I’m sure many others).  Thank you for teaching my favorite class I’ve ever taken!

Anne— I know you weren’t always able to write, but whenever you did, you blew me away with your talent.  You brought so much life to our class and I’m glad you were a part of it.  I can’t wait to read your future work!

Until then, here is a kitty picture to inspire you.

James— Well, I never expected to meet up with you again!  It was a fun surprise, and I enjoyed getting to know you again this year.  I love your writing style; you have a gift for science fiction.

Jessica— I loved being in class with you this year!  I’ve enjoyed reading your writing, and I hope you love it in Pittsburgh.  If I end up moving to Massachusetts, I hope I can meet you. 🙂

Julie— I admire how you can make your audience both laugh and cry.  I’ve loved having you in class and reading your daily funny posts.  (And it’s always fun to meet another Percy Jackson fan)

Kasey— Your gift in poetry has inspired me to improve my skills.  One day I hope to do it as well as you.  You were a wonderful addition to our class, and I wish you the best for college next year.

Kayla— I love your affinity with all things nonsense and your individuality.  Your writing is beautiful, and I enjoyed the sarcastic sense of humor you brought to the classroom.

Kendra— You have so much talent, and not just in writing.  I’ve enjoyed the art and music you’ve shared with us. Your stories are adorable, and I could totally see you as a children’s author.

Luke— Wow!  You really won a lot of awards.  And they were all well- deserved.  You brought a lot of fun and humor to our class this year.  I look forward to your future work!

Mara— You’ve been so much fun to have in class!  I love how your enthusiasm and upbeat personality shines through your writing.  Stay awesome!

Rachel K— You’re so sweet and supportive and I’m so happy you were in class this year.  I don’t know how you managed to keep up with everyone’s writing and give encouraging comments!  And I love your writing style; it’s truly beautiful.

Rachel R— Ah, the reference queen!  You do a great job keeping your writing funny and exciting while providing good character development.  I appreciate the support you gave me this year and can’t wait for your future work.

Sam— Our own Nicholas Sparks!  I loved the humor you brought to our class and the drama in your writing.  Congratulations on escaping gp5 music graduating!

Tabitha— I loved having you as a partner!  Thank you for all the input you put into my novel (and my other work).  You have a beautiful writing style and I look forward to the rest of your work.  I wish you the best for college next year!

Valari— You’re such a talented writer and I really enjoyed being in class with you this year!  Your creativity really shows through your work.  Thank you for all of the support you’ve given me with my own writing.

Victoria— Of course I had to add you too!  Although you haven’t been an official part of the class this year, your faithful support definitely earns you an honorary membership.  Thank you for all of the feedback you’ve given on my writing!  I love reading your work and can’t wait to see what you come up with next year.

Each and every one of you have been a blessing to me this year, and I’m going to miss you all.  Keep blogging, because the world needs your writing.  I look forward to the day when I can see your books in print. 🙂  And we need to keep writing A Collision of Worlds.  I believe in it.  All that to say, I wish you all a very fond farewell.

(Yeah, I stole the line)

By the way, some of you have asked about my post Contact Me.  It has all my contact information if you want to keep in touch.  Oh yeah, and the password is purpleeys.  What else?

Here are some good bye songs to make you more depressed help you deal with the pain.

 

 

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S10: Round Robin—A Collision of Worlds

This week my creative writing class and I collaborated to write a round robin, a story where each person can only add three sentences at a time.  Now usually these kinds of things start with school children, continue with dragons taking over the earth, and end with an epic space battle.  So I was very impressed with our class that we not only formed a coherent story but made plans to write sequel chapters.  I can’t wait to see what’s to come!

The teacher looked out the window. It was such a beautiful day, but she had to stay inside and teach. She had about five minutes before class started. (GAINES)

Suddenly, there was a knock on the teacher’s door, and a young girl poked her head inside. “Miss Gilbert?” she said softly. “Can I ask you a question?

“Certainly,” Missy Gilbert, the teacher, replied. (LEONE)

“Okay, so it’s like this,” the girl began earnestly.  “I found this letter, and I think it’s in hieroglyphs, but I can’t read it.”  (KIMZEY).

“Let me see,” Miss Gilbert offered, pushing a pair of glasses on her nose and looking over the document.  “Those are not hieroglyphs,” she says, her jaw dropping.  “This is a language this world has never seen.” (LUPU)

The girl looked up with wide eyes. “I found it in my backpack. How could it be some unknown language?” (LEONE)

“I don’t know,” Miss Gilbert answered as several other fourth graders filtered through the classroom doorway. “How peculiar…I’ve never seen anything like it,” she continued. “Temia, why don’t we discuss this after class?” (RADZIALOWSKI)

Temia hesitated, then nodded her head. “Ok,” she replied, holding out her hand for the letter, but Miss Gilbert hummed.

“Actually, I’d like to keep looking at this, if you don’t mind.” (NOKELBY)

“Okay,” Temia said with a nod. She took her usual seat next to her best friend, Constantine. He poked her arm.

“What was that about?” he whispered.

“I’ll tell you after class,” Temia whispered back. (LEONE)

All throughout the class, Miss Gilbert’s thoughts kept straying off the history lesson she was teaching and back to the paper from Temia. What did it all mean? She tried to put two in two together, running through the recent events at the school through her mind. (RADZIALOWSKI)

Temia, who was extremely smart for a child her age, could tell that Miss Gilbert was not concentrating on the material at hand, but rather on the material Temia had placed into her hand. “I wonder what the big deal with that piece of paper is?” the ten-year-old thought to herself. (HOLLOMAN)

After class was over, Temia and Constantine approached Miss Gilbert’s desk.
“Miss Gilbert,” Constantine said in a proper, no-nonsense voice (rather unusual for a ten-year-old boy), “Temia has informed me of the strange language she found on the paper in her backpack. I believe I may be able to help.” (LEONE)

Miss Gilbert just stared at the boy standing on the other side of her desk.  She knew Constantine was a straight-A student, bordering on a geek, but how could this fourth grader have any idea what this language was?  She had gotten her Masters in Foreign Languages with a specialization in historic scripts, and she had never seen anything resembling this pictorial code.  (KIMZEY)

“You see,” continues Constantine, “I know you think I’m just an ordinary fourth grade boy.  But I am nothing of the sort. (LUPU)  If you knew who my father was, you would understand.” (KIMZEY)

“Constantine, I know who your father is. He’s on the PTA. I’ve met him many times,” said Miss Gilbert, wondering what on earth was going through the young boy’s head. (HOLLOMAN)

Constantine pulled at his beanie the way he always did when he was annoyed.  Here was another foolish mortal who was obviously oblivious to what was going on. “Well, ma’am,” Constantine replied, using what his dad had told him was a polite term for humans, “Us elves must be represented in the PTA or else the goblins would overpower everyone, including you humans.” (RIEDEL)

“Constantine dear, I know you like Lord of the Rings, but aren’t you taking this too far?”

Constantine rolled his eyes.  Why must mortals always insult him by saying he is referencing some frivolous human book series? (LUPU)

“Constantine watch out!” Temia cried as she shoved him to the floor.  He had been so busy with his thoughts that he had not noticed Miss Gilbert pull a short, thick sword from her desk drawer.  As the blade barely missed his head, he recognized the coat of arms embedded in the hilt: the Green Goblins. (RIEDEL)

“Don’t worry, Tem!”  Constantine cried, skidding along the tile floor to dodge the blow.  “It’s part of the plan — I promise!”  (KIMZEY)

Temia looked on with wide eyes as Constantine grabbed a chair and pushed it towards Miss Gilbert, making her stumble. The sword flew out of her hand, missing Constantine by inches, and Temia yelped. “I don’t think you dying is part of the plan!” she shouted. (NOKELBY)

“Run!” Temia yelled and pointed at the doorway. Miss Gilbert’s head whacked against the floor as the children scurried towards the exit.

“Stupid goblins!” Constantine shouted as he quickly grabbed the sword. (CHAN)

Halfway down the hall, the girl skidded to a halt.  “Wait!  The paper!” (KIMZEY)

“You go on, I’ll get it!” Constantine spun on his heel; his sneakers slid on the slick floor. Approaching the room, he cautiously held the sword forward, and peeked through the door. Where is she? (WHITLEY)

Spotting the paper on Miss Gilbert’s desk, Constantine crept forward several feet and reached out to snatch it. He swiped the document and shoved it into his back pocket.. However, the very second he turned to leave, the door shut with a resounding slam. (RADZIALOWSKI)

Miss Gilbert loomed over Constantine with an evil smile. Brandishing the sword, the young boy kept his distance, edging out towards the center of the room.

“Smart move, shutting us in a room while I have the weapon,” he remarked, somewhat sarcastically. (NOKELBY)

“Oh, you aren’t the only one with a weapon,” smirked Miss Gilbert.  And that was when Constantine heard the ominous bangs and thuds coming from the heating ducts. (RIEDEL)

“More goblins?!” Constantine exclaimed in disbelief, striking a defensive pose. Sure enough, several creatures soon began pouring out of the heating ducts, all armed with swords, spears, and pikes. (WESTEREN)

As the beasts descended down into the room Constantine realized the he had no chance of winning this fight without backup. Pressing a button on his watch, he called his mentor on the radio. “Santa! I need backup, now!” (NICHOLS)

Then he turned to face the oncoming assault.

*********

Temia waited nervously at the playground.  Constantine should have been back by now, and, despite herself, she was beginning to think something had gone horribly wrong. (RIEDEL)

Shuffling around on her feet, she began staring at the door she had run out of, wondering if she should go back in and look for him. (NOKELBY)

Just then, a bruised Constantine burst into the room Temia was in, eyes were wide. He looked like he wanted to speak, but he didn’t. He motioned for Temia to run. (LEONE)

As soon as they began running across the playground, however, Miss Gilbert burst from the door. But now, her fake human skin had been shed, revealing the green scales of a full grown goblin. Although exposed in broad daylight, the mere mortals could not see her; so was the nature of the Fae. (WHITLEY)

Temia screamed. Constantine ran to her and grabbed her hand. He started tapping away at his palantir disguised as a wristwatch, hoping his father would answer. (LEONE)

“What happened, Constantine?”  the girl panted.

He shook his head, still smacking at his wrist.

“Where’s your bean– your ears!” Temia cut off, suddenly noticing the way they came to a point at the top, unlike her own regular, human ones.  (KIMZEY)

Constantine ignored the comment, leading her to a gap under the school’s chain link fence. He motioned for her to crawl under first, suddenly wishing he still had that sword. But after what happened in that classroom…. (WHITLEY)

After Constantine squeezed under the fence behind Temia, his friend put a restraining hand on his shoulder. “Stop!” she exclaimed. “I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what’s going on!” (WESTEREN)

Constantine threw his arms in the air, shaking his head. Pointing his finger at his mouth, he made several, wild movements with his hands, and Temia yelled out in frustration.

“Quit acting like you’re having a seizure and start talking! Please!” (NOKELBY)

Tears began to glisten in Constantine’s eyes, and he began to speak to her very softly.  “Things are going to change, Temia.  All I want is for you to be safe: go to my people in the woodlands and my mother will care for you there.” (HARVEY)

“But, I don’t even know where to find her!” Temia said, slightly exasperated.

“Here,” he pressed a small jewel into her hand, “this will lead you to her. Now scoot!” (HEARN)

“You aren’t coming?” Temia asked, afraid she already knew the answer.

“No … I am sorry, but it has been my duty to protect you, and for now I must continue doing so. Temia, just know that you are very, very special.” (HOLLOMAN)

Temia opens her mouth to form a question, then closes it in shock.  She realizes Constantine hasn’t been speaking; she hears his voice in her mind.  But before she can say anything, the stone starts to glow world around her spins and spins until she finds herself in a lush, peaceful forest. (LUPU)

*********

Constantine was a fair fighter for his age, but he knew he couldn’t take on a horde of goblins alone. That’s why he had called for help from Santa—the greatest of all the elvish warriors.

Constantine, despite the dangerous situation at hand, couldn’t help but chuckle as he thought back to the silly, Christmas legend the mortals had invented so long ago. (HOLLOMAN)

*********

hohoho indeed!

When Santa arrived, Temia got a wild surprise–Santa was not dressed in white, he did not have a bushy white beard, and he was not obese from eating dozens of cookies. In fact, he looked more like the Elven king Thranduil from the stories Temia’s older brother read. She couldn’t help but feel the need to bow to Santa the cool elf king. (LEONE)

“Where am I?” she asked, looking around at the tall green trees surrounding her.

Santa, who seemed to be in a bit of a hurry, waved away her question and instead speedily asked, “Where is the paper with the strange language?”

Temia blinked, confused for a moment, and then frowned. “I…don’t have it. Constantine does, but why do you need-” (NOKELBY)

“Temia,” the Elven warrior’s voice stopped her in mid-sentence.  “The paper was placed in your backpack because you are the one prophesied on it; it speaks of one whose purity and valor can unite with the power of our people to vanquish the Green Goblins forever.”  Seeing the fear in her eyes, Santa challenged her, “Temia, through the Halari Emerald which my son [Constantine!] gave you, you came to this forest, and that means you are the one with the magic to restore our peace.”  (KIMZEY)

Temia shook her head, stammering “No — it can’t– I’m just a fourth grader!”

“You can hear telepathy.  You can use magic.  You are not mortal, Temia,” Santa says. (LUPU)

Telepathy . . . magic . . . Temia shook her head again in confusion. “But I’ve never done magic in my entire life!” she protested.

“Oh, really?” Santa asked pointedly, causing Temia to remember a strange incident long ago, when she was only five years old. (WESTEREN)

“Temia, do you remember that time, in third grade, when you fell from a tall tree?” Santa asked, adjusting a bow over his shoulder.

The girl nodded and added in a hushed voice, “I didn’t even get hurt.”

“That’s right my dear, and the reason you didn’t get hurt is because you told the ground to catch you—you have the ability to control nature: the wind, the water, the trees … all of it.” (HOLLOMAN)

“Its weird to have the earth listen to me, as if I was its master, i’m just a simple girl, who has the whole world in the palm of her hands” Temia stated glancing up at his gaze.

“But how does one expect me to understand all this, I can hardly understand math problems.” She stuttered shaking her head in dismay. (METZLER)

“Temia.  Yes, this is sudden, and yes, you are frightened,” Santa returned.  “But understand that there is only one thing for you to do if you are to aid Constantine in defeating these foes.”  (KIMZEY)

He removed a satchel on his belt. “You must find your way to Álfheimr; there they shall explain to you your legacy and your purpose. I would lead you there, but first I must rescue my son, before the Goblins take him.” (WHITLEY)

“But how do I get there?” Temia asked.

“That you must discover yourself, brave Temia,” Santa replied.  “Travel to Álfheimr and find my wife, Norène, who will help you.” (LUPU).

“O-okay,” Temia said softly.

“I know you can do this,” smiled Santa, moving towards a sleigh that appeared to be hooked up to a group of mythical looking elk. (HOLLOMAN)

“Be careful, and do not leave the forest– travel towards the sun always.” He swung himself into the sleigh, and said, “Good luck. Hopefully we shall meet again soon.” And then he was off. (WHITLEY)

Temia looked down at the green jewel in her hand.  Constantine had said it would take her to his mother.  And his father had told her to go east — to what, she only wished she knew.  (KIMZEY)

S7: Assignment Gone Wrong

It’s the time of the week when we all post our assignments at the last minute!  With this sandbox, we were supposed to write about our main protagonist or antagonist in our novella giving a speech.  I did, well, you’ll see…

With sweating hands, Lacey drags her feet to the front of the room, trying not to look at the seated students who will soon be her audience.  She doesn’t want anything to do with this public speaking class, but an Auroran teacher told her it would be a good idea, since everyone should have to step out of their shell.

Keeping her hands steady, Lacey glances down at the speech they gave her to deliver, then meets the expectant eyes of the audience.  None of them take notes of any kind, and most don’t appear as if they plan on paying attention.  They are here to learn how to speak, not to listen.  Clearing her throat, Lacey reads the words planned for her.

“There was a time all of you inhabited the Outskirts, a place dominated by anarchy.”  Out of the corner of Lacey’s eye, she sees a boy doodling on the edge of his paper.  They’re not interested, since they’ve all heard this information before.  Discouraged, she presses on, explaining how the only communities in the Outskirts had tyrants for leaders, the adverse living conditions, and the overall lack of any hope.

“That is why the Aurorans gathered young people to take the Evaluation.”  Lacey pronounces each word with precision.  Although her audience doesn’t care, there’s an Auroran sitting at the back of the room, watching her with a hawk-like gaze and taking notes on her performance.  “With the world in the state that it’s in, our hope lies with the next generation.  Thus, the Aurorans selected the most talented young people the Outskirts have to offer in order to prepare them to take positions of leadership and bring change when they come of age.”

That doesn’t make sense, she thinks as she continues.  They expect next to nothing of us today, yet they expect us to change all of the world’s problems tomorrow.  Problems we didn’t cause.

After giving a tirade about the improved living conditions for students, Lacey reads the conclusion.  “At Auroran Learning Institute, we all have the opportunity we deserve.  Everyone is treated equally and given complete freedom.”

Lacey drops the paper, immersed in her own thoughts.  She doesn’t notice the next person standing up to read the same speech.  “That isn’t true,” she mutters.

“What?” a person from the audience asks.

“That isn’t true,” she repeats in a louder, bolder voice.  A few heads snap up.  “How are we free?  We can wear whatever we want, so long as we wear what they tell us to.  We can do whatever we want, so long as they approve of it.  We can be whoever we want to be, so long as it fits the mold they have planned for us.”

Lacey keeps talking, growing faster and louder with each sentence.  She can’t stop herself.  “Why am I taking this class?  Not because I want to, but because they think I should speak out more.  They force the timid to talk but not the loud to listen.  Is that being treated equally?”

There isn’t a single person in the room not paying attention now.  “And what is the point of the Evaluation?  To put people in boxes and categories, to decide who deserves the better treatment.  Then those of us who are lucky enough to be categorized as good enough have all the expectations to fulfill and orders to carry out.

“Our lives may have been horrible before, but are we happy here?  None of you will honestly answer that because we aren’t allowed to! We–”

Before Lacey can say another word, she feels a cold hand wrap around her wrist like a metal shackle.  She whirls around to find their Auroran supervisor standing over her, a blizzard of fury in his eyes.  “That would be quite enough, Miss Gorse.”

Dun dun dun.  On that lovely note, I’m ending my sandbox.  I’m not planning on putting this in my actual novel, but I hope you gained more insight on the conflict I’m trying to develop.  If you’re reading my novella, I’d appreciate it if you give me feedback on how well I’m portraying this conflict.  (You can tell me I’m failing completely.  It’s okay.  After all, this is only my first draft.)

Sandbox 6: The Mind of an Auroran

Here is the sandbox that you have all been waiting for  you get to read this week. 🙂  I rewrote Chapter 1 from the perspective of *drum roll* an Auroran.

1

One week.  Her time is up.  Clutching her clipboard to her chest, the Auroran walks to the prison’s door.  They told her to watch out for this one.  She can be too smart and strong for her own good.  A rebel.  But no matter.  A week in isolation should have done the trick.  The Auroran punches in a code, and the door opens.  The student sits in fetal position, on the breaking point though not yet broken.  Good.

The student’s head lifts up to examine the Auroran with wide brown disbelieving eyes.  “Come with me,” the Auroran orders.

The student peels herself off the floor.  “Come?  I’m leaving?”

The Auroran resists the urge to roll her eyes.  For the smartest young individuals in the Outskirts, the students sometimes asked the most infuriatingly simple questions.  “Yes.  Up now.  We don’t have all day.”

While the student eyes her suspiciously, the Auroran jots down a few notes.  Untrusting.  Confused.  Take advantage of the latter quality.

            “Are you my imprisoner or my liberator?” the girl asks.

Amused by the question, the Auroran smiles and answers, “Both.”  Then she turns and walks down the hall.  The girl will follow.

“Where are we going?” the student asks, stumbling behind.

“Save your questions for later.”  When they reach their destination, the Auroran turns to face the bewildered student.  “I’m going to explain everything to you in a condensed, brief manner, so it would serve you well not to interrupt.  Your name is Lacey Gorse.”

The student steps back.  “No.”

Again, the Auroran finds herself wanting to roll her eyes in annoyance.  Uncooperative.  Some hint of identity left, she jots down“I told you no interruptions.  Your name is Lacey Gorse.  Your past was bleak with a grey future, so when the Aurorans offered you a chance to take the Evaluation, you readily accepted.  Since you scored among the top twenty percent, you earned yourself a place at the Auroran Learning Institute, commonly known as ALI.  Your results are here.”

The Auroran makes pauses her recital to hand the student her Evaluation results.  They were impressively high, especially considering they had to take away any points for emotional strength.  If the results reflected her true performance…

“What’s the Evaluation?” the student asks.

“An accurate measure of beauty, intelligence, personality, creativity, and strength.  You just completed the final part.”

“The prison… and the memory loss was part of a test?  Does that mean I can have my memories back now?”

The Auroran ignores the student’s hopeful stare as she recounts the planned response.  She was told to expect questions like this.  “The prison was a test of emotional strength, yes.  The memory loss I’m afraid was an unfortunate side effect.”

“Why… how did it happen?”

There’s one question the girl will never receive an answer to.  “I’m afraid I don’t have time to explain.”  The Auroran checks the timer on her electronic board.  “When that door opens in thirty seconds, you will begin your life at ALI.”

“What do I do there?”

The Auroran bites back a sigh.  Why can’t the students understand their only job is to finish their childhood then take their place as world leaders, mending all the problems the previous generation left behind?  Instead of voicing her opinion she says, “You learn.  You live.  You’re liberated.”  The door opens.  “Come now.  The assembly is waiting.”

She walks up to the front of the stage, undeterred by the students’ expectant and confused stares.  “Students of ALI.  Today Lacey Gorse will be joining you.”  They’re surprised, of course.  No one prepared them for this to happen, because the Aurorans had only recently determined that Lacey would be able to join their number.

“Now we know you thought no one else would be joining, but these are unusual circumstances,” the Auroran continues, silencing the crowd.  “You also need to know that Lacey has unfortunately experienced amnesia, which may cause some trouble to her adjustment, but we’re sure we can leave her in your care from this point on.”

There.  Her job is done.  The Auroran walks off the stage and through the door, ignoring the new student’s desperate eyes following her.  She feels no guilt.  If the student was incapable of taking care of herself, she wouldn’t be where she is now.  Even if she is an anomaly.

S5: Michelangelo– Research Project

This Sandbox assignment was to write chapter five of another person’s novel.  I decided to continue Rachel R’s Stealing Joy, since we’ve been in the same group.  I sort of kind of followed her NPO.  Her chapter is probably a lot better than this, but I had fun playing with her story.  Hope you like it Rachel! 🙂

Here’s the real Mickey. Just for fun.

“Well first,” Michelangelo explained, “you’ve got to put this on.”  He pulled out bag of clothes.

Lisa rolled her dark eyes.  “Ugh… are you seriously complaining about my fashion again?  You know, not all of us are concerned about how we look when we’re on a mission.”

“Lisa, Lisa.  Michelangelo knows best.  Don’t forget it.  You’ll regret it.  Besides, these are disguises, not fashion outfits.  Though if you want some fashion advice…”

“Please don’t,” Lisa cut him off.  “Not all of us can look fabulous after spending the night in a tree.”

“I know.  Not all of us are so gifted.”  He examined his reflection in the rear view mirror.  “Or so good-looking.”

“Whatever Mickey.”

He frowned.  “Hey, I thought I told you not to… wait!  Turn there.”

Lisa raises her eyebrows.  “In that building?  You realize that’s a library only available to government officials.”

“Yes.  That’s where we’re doing our research.  And that’s why we need the disguises.”

“Do you have access?”

“Never doubt my abilities, Estrella.”

Lisa pulled into a nearby parking lot and they took turns changing into their disguises.  Then the odd pair made their way to the library door.  Michelangelo swiped a fake access card and typed in a password.  When the door opened, he put his thumb on a finger print pad to get them through a second door.  “There,” he said.  “We’re in.  And I’ve also disabled all cameras for the next thirty minutes.  It should take the SWAT forty five minutes to realize something is wrong and to get here.”

Lisa’s eyes widened.  “How did you do that?”

Michelangelo shrugged.  “I hacked the system.”

“You hacked the federal government?”

“Well… yes.”

Lisa shook her head.  “That’s very illegal, but I’ll ignore that for now.”

Michelangelo smiled.  It was nice to impress Lisa for once, even if she pretended like it was nothing.  “Now, over here.”  He pulled Lisa over to a data computer and they searched for information about Senator Grimled and who might have captured him.

“Lisa, I think I might have found something,” Michelangelo said, pointing to the screen.  But before she could respond, they heard the sound of heavy footsteps charging through the door.

Lisa threw him an accusing look.  “I thought you said they wouldn’t come for at least forty five minutes!”

He shrugged.  “Sorry?”

A SWAT man knocked down the door and came into the room.  Lisa sighed and took him down with a stun gun.  “Come on,” she ordered, pulling Michelangelo behind her.

As they walked over to a window, they heard several people coming up the stairs.  “Okay,” Lisa said, opening the window.  “We’re going to have to jump to that tree.  Think you can do it?”

“No!” Michelangelo shouted terrified.

“Okay then.  You’ll have to trust me.”

Just then, a SWAT officer marched into the room, shooting in their direction.  “Lisa!” Michelangelo shouted, pulling her out of the way just in time.

Her eyes widened.  “You just…”

“Yes.  Now what was that plan you were talking about?”

Lisa snapped out of her shock, stunned the second officer, and then jumped into the tree.  After securing her position, she dropped a rope to Michelangelo.  “Grab on!” she called.

Although it made Michelangelo nervous, he held on to the rope as tightly as he could while Lisa hauled him up.  Once in the tree, he pushed a few buttons on a hand-held device.  “There.  That should mess things up in there some.”

“Good.  This way.”  Lisa nimbly climbed out of the tree while Michelangelo stumbled along until they reached the car.  As soon as they got in, she took off.

“Well, that went differently than planned,” he muttered.

“You saved me from getting shot back there,” Lisa said, keeping her eyes on the road.

“Well… it was probably just a stun gun.”

“I know.  But still.  Thanks.”

Michelangelo grinned.  “Do my ears deceive me or did Lisa Estrella Sanchez just say thank you.  Seriously, I didn’t think that was in your vocabulary.”

“Don’t push it.”

Michelangelo cleared his throat.  “Well, I suppose I should thank you, too.  For, you know, getting me out of there.”

“It wasn’t much,” she said, but a small smile tugged on the corner of her mouth.

“Lisa?” Michelangelo asked after a long moment of silence.

“Yes?”

“Look, I know you don’t like me but… if we’re going to work together, do you think we can at least try to be friends?”

She let out a sigh and made sure she paused for a long moment before answering.  “Yes.  I suppose we could try.”

Michelangelo smiled but didn’t speak.  Talking annoyed Lisa, which he usually enjoyed, but right now he didn’t want to ruin anything.  So it was Lisa who spoke first.

“By the way, what information did you find before the SWAT came?”

  

S3– Auroran Learning Institute

When I read what this week’s Sandbox was, I actually started laughing.  We were supposed to create a flyer advertising the setting in our novella, which is a little strange for my novella since it’s in a dystopian setting.  Then I got the idea of making it a  propaganda flyer…

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CW15: Espionage at the Museum

This story is a zoo.  And by zoo I do NOT mean it is about a zoo, just that it is as crazy as a zoo.  

Okay, let me explain a little more.  Last week in creative writing class, we all had to think of a word that had to do with a zoo.  Then, for our assignment, we had to put all of those words in a story.  Without writing about a zoo, of course.  I managed to do it to avoid being eaten by sharks.

I focus my binoculars on a group walking through the museum entrance.  Still no sign of the target.  In case I missed some one, I sweep my binoculars over the clusters of people milling around exhibits of stuffed birds.  Although I’ve studied each of them, I examine them again.

“Loosen up, B,” says my assigned partner, Xavier.  “Nothing’s going to happen.”

I grit my teeth.  Of all the people at Silverleaf Academy of Espionage, Xavier would be the last person I’d choose to be paired with.  “Well, this is an assignment.  And I for one choose to take my assignments seriously,” I retort, not taking my eyes off the crowd.

To pretend like I’m doing something important, I shift my focus to an old man reading about the stuffed penguin.  He’s stood there for three whole minutes.  I don’t know what he finds so fascinating about a bird that eats fish instead of birdseed.

“I’m serious B,” Xavier continues.

“Don’t call me that.”

“Okay, Beatrice.”  He takes a loud sip from his slushie.  “You can keep looking, but there won’t be any target.”

“Do you mind?” I snap, not taking my eyes off the crowd.  “We’re on a stakeout.”

He sighs.  “Yeah, yeah.  But it’s not a real stakeout if no one’s coming.  We could just sit and talk if we wanted.  Bet we could even raid the snack cart.

I roll my eyes.  “Thank you for your kind offer, but I’d sooner spend my time in cages of malodorous beasts.”

He chuckled.  “Do you try to talk like that, or does it just come out that way?”

“Do you try to be this obnoxious, or does it just happen that way?”

“You know what they say about you back at Silverleaf?”

My ears perk up, but I keep my eyes trained on the crowd so that he doesn’t realize he has my attention.

“There are rumors about everyone, you know,” he continues.  “They say Katrina’s been to jail, Frank’s killed three people, and Ethan’s scars are actually from some violent otters.  There’s some shocking story or crazy romantic history for everyone… everyone except you.”

“Really?”  As soon as the word slips out, I want to bite it back.  I’m not supposed to show any interest in what Xavier is saying, yet… I’ve heard the rumors of course, but I always believed there were equally scandalous stories floating around about me.  I’m not naive enough to believe I’d be the golden exception.

“Well… there have been some stories, but nothing interesting ever sticks.” He slurps the end of his slushie.  “Thing is, you never really do something worth gossiping about.  Your record is perfect, no failed missions.  To the best of anyone’s knowledge, you’ve never had a boyfriend.  And no one really knows the truth about your past.”

“So you were wondering if I’d tell you, so that you’d have a new story to show off when we return?” I cut him off.

“Might as well.  What else are we going to do here?”

That’s when I lose it.  I whirl around to face him, an almost feral look in my eyes.  Why do the girls at Silverleaf find his ever-present smirk and messy hair so attractive?  I’ll never know.

“What is it about a stakeout that you don’t understand?  We are not having a slumber party.  If the target does make an appearance without us realizing, there will be very serious consequences.”

If possible, his smirk becomes more pronounced.  “I think you’re the one with the confusion, B.  The target isn’t coming.  No one will.”

“You don’t know that.”

He shakes his head.  “Actually, I do.  After we were put on the same Fireteam, the leaders at Silverleaf noticed we were… incompatible, as they said it.  So they assigned us a useless mission to teach us to get along.”

“Because everyone knows we hate each other,” I finish for him, staring blankly at the wall.  Is it possible?  Would Silverleaf do something like that?

Xavier’s smirk fades slightly and his ice blue eyes adopt an almost melancholy… well, at least thoughtful look.  “No B.  Everyone knows you hate me.”

In the moment it takes my jaw to drop, he starts talking again.  “So anyway, if you report that the only thing you accomplished this mission was having a decent conversation, our instructors will be fine.  Happy even.”

“You still just don’t get it, do you?” I mutter.

He sighs, running his fingers though coarse dark hair.  “What?  What don’t I get this time?”

“Silverleaf isn’t just some fancy school I’m attending to get attention.  It’s my ticket to success.”  I’m pacing back and forth now.  It’s a little difficult with the amount of space I have, but I’ve never been able to shake the habit.  “You see, I don’t have a rich family to bribe me up to the top like you do.  I have to work my way there.  And I don’t have time to fool around with monkeys like you.  I’m too busy taking what I do seriously.”

            I glance at Xavier to see what effect my rant is having on him.  His looks just like a statue—pale and deadly still.  Did I do that to him?  No, it had to be something else.  In answer to my unspoken question, he gradually lifts an unsteady hand and points behind me.  I silently pick up my binoculars, focusing in on the area he’s pointing to.  The moment I see it, my heart stops.  It’s the target.   

Well, sorry I had to end there.  I was a little pressed for time.  But if you want, I’m open to continuing…

J15: The Secret to Good Writing

I’m not a very good person to ask for advice, unless if it’s about writing.  Or at least I hope I’m good at giving writing advice.  I certainly have more than can fit in the 500 word limit, but here are five of my best tips.

What is the secret to good writing?  Is that what you came here looking for?  Well, then I’m terribly sorry for the misunderstanding.  Because just like everyone else, I don’t have it.  Sorry again.  But don’t go just yet.  I’ve learned a few things along the way you just might find useful…

  1. Just write!

If you have an idea for a story, go ahead and write it.  It may never be published—or even turn out well—but you won’t know unless you at least try.  Keep planning and jotting down ideas until you have your first draft, then go back and edit.  I’ve found that doing any serious editing while writing only slows me down and kills my ambition.  So keep writing, and take full advantage of inspiration when it comes.

  1. Remember your English lessons

Do I mean your English teacher’s useless soliloquies about metaphors, foils, and symbols?  About the difference between connotation and denotation?  The ones we’ll never use in real life?  The very ones.  When you start writing, these “useless” lessons suddenly become vitally important.  If you’re able to think of a good plot line, that’s great.  It really is.  But if you want to give depth to your writing and meaning to your work, consider using the literary devices you learn about in English class.  There’s a reason all of the great works have them.

  1. No pet words

George walked outside, noticing the air smelled malodorous.  He looked at the grey sky, finding it very dowie.  When he began his jog, he hoped it wouldn’t make him smell too malodorous.  Other people found jogging dowie, but he thought it was fun.

Okay, hopefully your writing will never sound like this, but you get the point.  If you use the same words too often, especially unusual words, your readers will get annoyed very quickly. 

  1. Use action tags

Instead of tagging your writing with, “he said, she said,” try to tag it with a character’s action.  Let me show you what I mean:

“I’m so excited for Creative Writing class today,” she said.

OR

She clapped her hands with glee and did a tap dance.  “I’m so excited for Creative Writing class today.”

Action tags give your readers more insight into what your characters are feeling and help them picture the scene.  They also help with showing rather than telling.

  1. Give your characters desires

The first thing you need to ask yourself when writing a story is, “What do my characters want?”  Then give your protagonist a specific desire or goal, design obstacles to keep him/her from achieving it, and decide how this goal will ultimately be achieved or changed by the end of the story.  Supporting characters need desires, too, but you’re protagonist’s desire will be the most influential.  Desires are the main force driving plot and character development.  Once your characters each have one, everything else will start falling into place.

a writing quote that I really like

CW 14: Memoir in Letters and Notes

For this week’s assignment, we were to create an autobiography by choosing ten books or songs that described us or our lives.  I chose five books and five songs and ordered them chronologically.  If you want to learn too much about me, proceed reading.

Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales

Believe it or not, this book represents the evil side of me.  Although I loved all these stories as a child, my favorites were about the naughty animals.  Tom Kitten became my role model and I pretended to be him almost as much as I pretended to be Peter Pan.  It never occurred to me that it would be strange to pretend to be a boy; if it was only the boy characters that were naughty and went on adventures, then by golly I would pretend to be one of them.

But don’t get too worried; there is an innocent reason this book makes this list.  It is one of the first books I can remember reading, marking the beginning of my life-long love affair with books.

Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds

Although I have not actually read this book, I still feel like it represents an important part of my life.  I am a third culture kid (TCK), which in short means that I belong in multiple cultures without belonging in any culture at all.  I’ve grown up with an American mother and a Romanian father, living in Romania while going to American schools, having dual citizenships, and hearing two languages in the home.  Needless to say, my life is a sufficient mix of both Romanian and American.  This sometimes causes difficulty and makes it hard to identify myself.  (Where am I from?)  Although it also comes with great advantages, such as experiencing other cultures in a way most people never do.

The Call

Another downside of the TCK life: people are always moving.  Just about every year since kindergarten, I’ve had to say goodbye to close friends.  I’m not a very emotional person, but this song makes me feel so bittersweet.  It so perfectly describes the sad and hopeful feelings of goodbyes.  I also love it for being on the Narnia soundtrack, as Narnia was such an important part of my childhood.

The Travel Book

One of my favorite parts of living in Europe is the ability to travel.  Since Europe is a condensed continent with rich history, hundreds of world famous tourist sights are only a road trip or a short flight away.  Some of my favorite places I’ve visited are England, Italy, and Austria.  In the future I really hope to see Norway, Ireland, and to explore the other continents.  Experiencing other cultures and places has greatly influenced me, and I plan on living in several different countries in the future.

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

This is possibly my favorite hymn.  I really feel like it describes my spiritual life.  Some of my favorite lyrics are:

 Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above

During worship times, I’ll admit my mind is very prone to wander.  When I hear this part of the song, it always feels like a call to focus my attention where it needs to be.

Fireflies

This was one of my favorite songs in middle school.  Although I don’t listen to it too much anymore, (there are only so many times you can listen to a song before getting tired of it, and I listened to this one literally hundreds of times) I still like its fun, bubbly sound and nonsensical lyrics.  It seems to describe how I feel when I’m in a happy or excited mood.

The Writer’s Handbook

I have never read this book either.  The reason I chose it is simple: I enjoy writing.  I’ve been thinking of ideas for stories for about as long as I can remember.  In fact, it’s a miracle I’ve passed all my classes with the amount of story planning I did in the classroom.  Throughout the years, I would go through spurts of writing.  I would think of an idea and work hard on it for a while, then move on.  About a year and a half ago, I starting taking writing much more seriously.  I was sitting on the couch thinking when a book idea suddenly came to me.  So I started writing it, and I haven’t stopped writing since.

For the First Time in Forever

Yes, I’m actually putting a Frozen song on this list.  The first time I watched the movie, I was amazed at how well Ana’s and Elsa’s emotions in this song describe my split personality.  Part of me, like Ana, hates isolation and wants to be the first person to sign up for every social event and to meet new people at every chance.  Yet another part of me, like Elsa, cringes at the thought of social interaction and wants to hide in my icy tower all day.

The Last Sunday

This is possibly the most autobiographical work I’ve written.  The characters’ relationships are almost exactly like my relationships with my friends, meaning yes, we are as mean to each other as Nadia and Aidan are.  Although that isn’t the only reason this work reflects my life.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had to deal with friends moving away many times before.  And soon (although not as soon as Nadia) I will be leaving for college.  I feel like I could have had almost this exact conversation with my friends before.

Face Up

Lights has so many relatable songs it was really hard to choose the right one.  I eventually decided on “Face Up” because it conveys so many emotions: exhaustion, stress, despair, determination, and hope.  I play this song when I feel any one of these things, or when I’m just tired and don’t feel like waking up.  As the song reminds me, I try to keep my face up, keep fighting, no matter what the situation.