Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Things I've Learned So Far || The Very Beginning

     Right now, I am in the early stages of the writing process. I have my story and characters outlined and my plot set up with themes I want to include and all that. I am currently on chapter eleven of my rough draft. I've tried to search for advice for young writers but all I ever see is "wait until you're older because your writing sucks now" or "don't rush yourself." That's not very helpful, at least I don't think it is. I've never written a book I actually wanted to get published so everything I'm going through right now is a first for me and I hope you can learn from what I experience.
     The first thing I learned is that, when you're writing your first chapter, you will think your idea is the most awful thing you ever thought of, and that's okay. When I started my first chapter, I almost cried because I thought I was a horrible writer and I was never going to be an author. Then I started reading quotes by famous authors and I realized what I was thinking was normal and even classic writers had the same feeling. There will be many moments where you just want to give up because you think your writing or your story is useless but you can't give in, if everyone gave in, we wouldn't have "Harry Potter" or "Romeo and Juliet." 
     Second, just write everything that comes to mind for your first draft. Later, you will edit and refine your story and take out any meaningless pieces. Something you thought of could add a whole new aspect to your story you never realized before, so it's best to write it then in case you forget later.
     Next, avoid using adverbs when you can; show, don't tell. Anton Chekhov said, "don't tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass." I think that is the best advice I've seen so far that related to actual writing. That, and to not use semicolons- which I used in the first sentence of this paragraph, whoops. 
     Start. Marketing. Now. Don't give out your story unless you have an agent or copyrights, but start talking about writing or just put your name out there with other things you've written like short stories or a blog. Also, line up beta readers. Use them when you feel comfortable but make sure you have them reading your story before you publish it to look for plot holes and missing links.
     Finally, don't get discouraged. If you're a young writer, like me, you do have the rest of your life to write this story, but why wait if you know you really want to write it? For teen writers, we understand better than anyone what it's like to be a teenager. We know what we feel and how we feel it. So what if you're twelve and only just started writing. Age and inexperience doesn't necessarily make you any less of a writer than Ralph Waldo Emerson or Veronica Roth. As long as you're confident in what you write, you'll do just fine.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Short Story

     Hey guys! Remember when I said I had those short stories written on another website? Well, this is one of them. This is the most recent one and, I think, the best so far. This kind of story isn't what I usually write, I just like to practice with different topics to expand my writing.  I felt kind of iffy about putting this out here because I've already had one situation where someone tried to post my stories as their own, but I figured that, if I want to be a writer, I need to put my work out there for more people to see. Hope you enjoy!
 15  September 1915
In my six years of life I have learned quite a few things:
        1. Chew with your mouth closed.
        2. Don't forget to feed the fish.
        3. 'Sorry' can't solve everything.
        4. No one loves you more than your parents.
        5. If you don't have a hand to hold, hold your own.
    Looking out the window, trees passed by in a blur of green, smoke clouding the sky in little patches. I sat in a car of the train, alone, with my bag at my side, holding the only things I could take with me; my favorite doll, a picture of my parents, and a lunch prepared by my mother. I placed my hands on the seat and pushed myself up, sitting a little taller to see more clearly out the window. It wasn't sunny. It hasn't been for quite some time. The sun was for happy days, and there hasn't been many of them either. 
    I interlaced my fingers, holding them tightly together as I examined the world outside. The grass was green, but now there were bits of garbage lying here and there. The sky was blue, but a muted, milky blue that reminded me of my old baby blanket.
    "Ashlen," said a very quiet feminine voice. I looked over to the doorway in my car, my blonde ringlets swinging around my face, and saw a clean, soft-looking woman. She smiled but I couldn't tell if she were happy or not. "It's almost time to get off, why don't you join me and the other children?"
    She held her hands together against the front of her dress that matched the color of the sky. Her brown hair was pulled up into a bun. There wasn't a ring on her finger like there was on most women. Her smile didn't show any teeth but appeared kind and gentle; fragile.
    I slid off the seat and stood, brushing my dress with my hands, making sure it was neat like mother always did. I grabbed my bag and headed over to the caretaker. She rested a hand on my shoulder, pulling me against her legs in a kind of hug as we walked.
    We passed several cars, most empty, before we reached one filled with six other children. I sat on the very end of a seat next to the woman. The other kids were quiet, unlike the ones I always played with on the playgrounds. They kept their heads down. Some girls occasionally giggled when a boy looked at them; but it was only occasional. 
     "Miss?" I asked, holding my hands together again. She smiled down at me.
     "Yes, miss Ashlen?" she asked.
     I rubbed my shoes together as I thought of my question, "What is your name?" She finally showed her teeth when she grinned. 
    "My name is Rosa; Rosa Faith," she said.
    "Miss Rosa," I said to myself, still looking in her eyes. 
    "Miss Rosa." She repeated.
    "Miss Rosa, you have very pretty eyes," I replied with a whispered giggle. 
    She giggled too, "Why thank you Miss Ashlen, you have very pretty hair." 
    I reached up and held one of my ringlets. "Thank you, my mother liked to brush it. I loved when she brushed it." 
    Miss Rosa's smile was lost briefly, her eyes filled up with sadness before she quickly smiled again. "Well hopefully she'll be able to brush it again soon."
    "I hope so too."
    Miss Rosa stepped down the stairs out of the train first, taking the bags from the other children and helping them down. I came out last with my small bag, holding it in one hand at my side like my mother always did with her purse. "Better  button up your coat Miss Ashlen, it's a cold one today," Miss Rosa said with a smile before fastening it for me. 
    "Thank you, Miss Rosa." I grabbed her hand and gracefully stepped off the stairs, making sure to be as ladylike as I possibly could. We walked hand-in-hand with the other children behind us.
    "What is your favorite color?" I questioned as we strolled down the empty streets. She pondered her answer before saying it was green. 
    "What's your favorite?" She asked back, smiling down at me.
    "Mine's green too. Daddy always says the most intelligent people like the color green." I grinned back up at her, still holding her hand. Looking around, I noticed how lonely this small town felt. The few houses on this street were made of centuries old bricks and thatched roofs; they all lined a single dirt road. Each one had its shutters pulled tightly closed and most appeared to be dark inside. Animals were the only living creatures outside besides us. A pig stood in a fence by one house, three chickens waddled around another, a dog laid patiently as if it had been waiting for its owner to play fetch for years. 
    "Miss Rosa, where are we?" A small voice called from behind. It was one of the oldest kids, she looked to be around eleven. 
    "We are in Northamptonshire, in the east midlands. It's a safe place." She smiled back at the children, then looked down, noticing the littlest boy walking dejectedly behind her. Miss Rosa reached for his hand and held it tightly, keeping her smile warm and welcoming. The boy looked up, a sad expression strewn across his tiny face; he had to be no older than three.
    "And what's your name, may I ask?" She questioned. 
    The boy lowered his head, clutching a raggedy teddy bear to his chest with his other hand. "Andrew." His voice was barely audible but Miss Rosa must have heard it. 
    "I like that name."
    We strolled across a bridge made of ancient bricks with a shallow river flowing gently beneath it. A duck with her ducklings swam peacefully along the shore. The overcast made the water appear murky and dark, hiding whatever lay in the water. A sudden thought of a scaly, slimy, monster lurking underneath us flashed in my mind. I gripped Miss Rosa's hand tighter, catching her attention.
    "There's nothing to be scared of, this is the most quiet and peaceful town. I would know," She said with a soft smirk, looking off into the distance with a longing look.
    "Miss Rosa, did you live here before the war?" I asked. She smiled wider, looking down at the cobblestone bridge.
    "Yes, I left when I was sixteen, though. I haven't been back since." Her eyes darkened. "I wish I had visited."
    "Do your parents still live here?" I asked.
    She opened her mouth but closed it again, slowly. "Yes, they do," she said after a long while. 
    "Can we visit them? I'd love to meet them if they're as lovely as you are." I doubted anyone could be as kind as Miss Rosa.
    "Maybe one day," she replied with a small smile.
    It was a while before anyone said anything else. Andrew was silent on the other side of Miss Rosa. The other children behind us seemed to be lost in thought. 
    "Here we are," Miss Rosa announced as she pulled a key out of her pocket, dropping mine and Andrew's hands. My hand felt cold in the chilly fall air without hers. A click came from the lock before it opened. Miss Rosa stepped inside and looked side to side. We followed closely behind.
    "There are four bedrooms upstairs, one downstairs. There's a bathroom upstairs and another down here. Boys and girls must room separately and I'll take the room downstairs," Miss Rosa told us before releasing us to sort out our sleeping arrangements.
    The house was old, unbelievably old. I thought of how many families must have spent their lives here. The room smelt like dust and stale air that hadn't been stirred in ages. The wooden ceilings stood low over us and appeared even lower upstairs. A small, shabby wooden staircase with creaky floorboards led upstairs and I could see a couple doors of the floor above us. Wallpaper hung chipped and peeling on the wall. 
    I strolled about the house, seeing what it had to offer. I paused in front of a door-frame that had height measurements marked on it. I stood up against it and placed my hand on top of my head, marking my height on the frame.
     "Three-foot two. The same as," I whispered to myself as I squinted trying to read the initials next to the height. "Same as R.F." I looked confusedly at the fragile wooden frame. 
    "Do you know who R.F. is?" I asked as Miss Rosa tucked me into my musky-smelling, patchwork bed upstairs in a room with one other girl. Miss Rosa pulled back in shock.
    "Where did you see R.F.?" she questioned.
     "Downstairs on the door-frame leading into the kitchen." I looked back at her, confused.
    "R.F. must have lived here a long time ago."
    "How long ago do you think?" I asked, filled with a new curiosity.
    "I would think at least twelve years ago, twice your age," she giggled at the last bit, tickling my stomach.
    I cringed and giggled, pushing her hand away. "That's a long time."

    Miss Rosa knelt down before Andrew, buttoning his coat up to his neck to protect him from the bitter cold outside. The other kids fastened their own around us, also putting on hats and mittens. Miss Rosa turned her attention to me when she finished Andrew's coat, flashing a brilliant white smile.
    "How are you today, Miss Rosa?" I asked merrily.
    "Quite alright, how are you Miss Ashlen?" she replied as she did up the buttons on my jacket.
    "I'm fine, thank you," I answered with a posh accent. She chuckled as she stood.
    "Is everyone ready?" She looked around at her small crowd, receiving various smiles and nods.
    We stepped out the door into the frozen wind. The overcast made no path for the sun, making it another gloomy day. The dirt road under our feet crunched as we walked toward the empty playground down the street. Few worn, brick houses lined the road, their dark, wood shutters remained closed for the colder months and their chimneys puffed smoke into the pale sky.
    "How much longer d'you reckon the war'll last?" questioned an older boy behind me.
    "Dunno, I heard it's a nasty one. My brother was drafted at the beginning and from what my parents have said, I don't think he'll be coming home," the second boy answered, his tone dark and saddened.
    "Father says there's Zeppelin raids in the town surrounding mine," the first boy whispered.
    "Yeah, my father says that too, says the Germans aren't 'playing by the rules,'" the second boy replied in a hushed voice.
    I waddled up to Miss Rosa and grasped her hand tightly. "Miss Rosa?" I asked.
   She looked down at me with her gentle smile, encouraging me to continue.
    "What are zeppelins?" 
    She was taken aback, her smile fading. "Where did the sudden interest come from?" she asked in a concerned tone.
    "I heard the boys talking about them, they say the Germans aren't playing fair," I said. "Sounds like they could use a time out."
    Her expression loosened as she let out a soft breath and a laugh. "Yeah, they could really use one of them."
    We stopped at the park, allowing the other kids to play on the rickety playground. The wooden swings held joyful girls, swinging and gossiping. Boys ran around, chasing each other with their hands held out like miniature guns, creating their own war. Andrew sat by himself on a bench watching the others.
    "Why's Andrew so quiet?" I asked, still examining him.
    "His parents were killed in a raid by the Germans," she whispered sadly, now watching him, too.
    I didn't respond; I had no idea what to say. I couldn't imagine, in all my years, not having my mother and father. I only saw them days ago and I already missed them dreadfully.
    Miss Rosa got up and started walking deeper into the park and onto a cobbled path. I followed behind her, casting one last glance at Andrew.
    We walked under tall, ancient trees and into a cemetery filled with faded headstones. Miss Rosa didn't speak the whole journey. I looked back at the kids on the playground, still in view. Andrew hadn't moved from his lonely spot on the bench.
    Miss Rosa stopped in front of two head stones, side by side. Both were chipped and faded with dead flowers lying in front of them. They looked as if they hadn't been visited in a very long time. I heard a soft sniffling noise.
    I looked around for the source and noticed Miss Rosa had sat on her knees, her dress lying in a circle around her. Her shoulders shook, her hair cascaded on either side of her face, shielding her from the world. I knelt down beside her and attempted to read the headstone.
    "Evelyn Faith," I read aloud the one to my left. I looked over to the one on my right, reading, "Nathan Faith." I gasped silently and glanced over at Miss Rosa, recognition at the name Faith flashing through my mind.
    "My mother taught me this when I was little, Miss Rosa," I started. She looked up at me with reddened eyes, although she still looked beautiful. Tears stained her cheeks.
    "What's that?" she whispered gently. 
    "If you fold your hands together," I paused to demonstrate, interlacing my fingers, "when you have no ones hand to hold, you can hold your own."
    She tilted her head slightly, a hint of a smile growing on her lips as another tear slid down her cheek. She held up her interlaced hands to show me.
    "Then you won't feel so alone," I whispered, afraid to speak too loudly in such a peaceful place.
    "Thank you Miss Ashlen," she whispered in response, still holding her own hands.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What I Read || Sophomore Year


     Sophomore year, for me, was a pretty relaxed year. I didn't have a lot of homework, which meant I got to read... a lot. I was able to read twenty-three books during the school year and I honestly wish I got to read more, although it's a lot more than what I read during freshman year (eleven). And yes, I do keep lists of all the books I read.
     There were only two books I wasn't really into, the first being "Shiver" by Maggie Stiefvater, I loved all the others. Something about the book just wasn't there for me, though I'm not sure what, and I was really disappointed by that because I heard so many good things about this book. I liked it at the beginning but after a while I wasn't so interested. The main guy, Sam, was nice but was a little too nice for my liking. It had a kind of "Twilight"-like feel to it, which was why I thought I would like it, so if you like "Twilight" and really nice guys, go read it.
     The second one was "Matched" by Ally Condie. I was expecting to love this book and again I was really disappointed when I didn't. And again, I'm not really sure what turned me off with this book. The plot was great, the characters were good, and I loved the idea. This book was kind of like "Divergent" in a way and that is one of the best series I've ever read. Although I didn't get into it, I'd still like to read the rest of the series and try to force myself to like it.
     On a happier note, my favorite books were definitely the "Maze Runner" trilogy by James Dashner. Everything about those books had me hooked and when I saw the movie I was blown away. The plot was so unique, taking an old experiment typically used on mice and turning it onto humans. Personally, my favorite of the three was the "Maze Runner" because we're introduced to the characters and the plot and it just pulls you in. I was literally in a trance while reading these books. I would highly recommend reading them.
     Also, the books I read for school were extremely good as well and I recommend reading those, too, if you haven't already. "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger was my favorite of the three because I liked the way it was written; it was so raw, especially for Holden's thoughts. It is a classic though, so of course it's a great book.

     Here is the list of books I read during my sophomore year in somewhat chronological order:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Every Day by David Levithan
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Matched by Ally Condie
The Living by Matt de la Pena
Girl Online by Zoe Sugg
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Shiver by Maggie Steifvater
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
The Death Cure by James Dashner

For school:
The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglas by Frederick Douglas (obviously)
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck


Saturday, July 18, 2015

50 Facts About Me

    Since this is a new blog, I figured that the best way to to start it off was something for everyone to get to know me, and I couldn't think of a better way than a 50 Facts About Me Post. I don't know if I'm that interesting to be able to create 50 facts about myself but we'll see how this goes.

1. We'll start off really basic. My favorite colors are blue, green, and white.
2. I love animals. I cry harder when animals die in movies than when humans do.
3. Tea is pretty much what keeps me alive. I live off tea.
4. I have lived in three states (four if you count living in Illinois for a summer).
5. I currently live in Florida but the only thing I like about it is Disney.
6. I don't just like Disney, I adore it. Disney movies, Disney World, it it's Disney, I like it.
7. Traveling anywhere fascinates me. I constantly look at pictures of places around the world but I've
only been outside my country once (to go to Canada) and I don't even remember it.
8. My whole life I've wanted to move to England and If I can't move there, I want to move to California.
9. I've been vegetarian for a year and always eat organic foods.
10. Harry Potter year 7 was the first real, young adult book I ever read. I was nine at the time.
11. The first full book I ever wrote was in the summer before fifth grade and it was about my favorite online video game at that time. It was very, very nerdy.
12. I'm a huge nerd. No explanation is needed because trust me, you'll see.
13. The first person to point out my writing abilities was my sixth grade English teacher. I wrote him stories using the vocabulary words we had for the week.
14. I played soccer from the ages of four to eleven, softball in second grade, gymnastics for four years, attempted cheer twice, and now I play lacrosse and have played it for four years.
15. I love One Direction with all my heart but I mostly listen to Indie and Folky kind of music.
16. My favorite songs right now are Photograph by Ed Sheeran, 18 by One Direction, Jackie and Wilson by Hozier, Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon, and Thunder Clatter by Wild Club.
17. My first and only concert was Justin Bieber when I was thirteen.
18. I have a Jack Russel Terrier named Cookie and a cat named Maisy.
19. Getting new stationary objects is probably the best feeling in the world.
20. The smell of old, yellow-paged books should be a candle because it's amazing.
21. I love mythology.
22. I'm planning to go to the University of Central Florida or University of Florida and major in English.
23. I hate not having something to read.
24. I also hate feet, the word and the real things (unless they're covered by shoes).
25. I can't sleep unless I have my TV on because I need the light and the sound.
26. The dark and death terrify me, like shaking in fear terrify.
27. My favorite TV shows are Teen Wolf, Supernatural, and The Vampire Diaries.
28. When I was little I used to make my friends act out Pirates of the Caribbean with me and I always had to be either Captain Jack Sparrow or Will.
29. I once wrote a story about a girl who fell asleep in class and dreamt she was a princess with a pet unicorn. It was called "Reality Check." (I was so clever)
30. I love the rain and thunderstorms.
31. I collect quotes in a folder on my phone to read when I have nothing to do.
32. I used to go to New York City almost every weekend, but I don't remember most of it and it makes me really upset that I don't.
33. I used to play guitar and learned a bunch of Fall Out Boy and Green Day songs.
34. Plants are my favorite decoration. I have four plants in my room right now.
35. I love scary movies but they scare me o much that I need to keep the lights on to fall asleep.
36. White clothes are my favorite kind of clothes.
37. I love to decorate houses and I used to dream of being an interior designer.
38. I also wanted to be a marine biologist, fashion designer, NASCAR driver, CSI agent, and a black op. I've decided to stick with being a writer.
39. I read my horoscope every morning. I'm a virgo.
40. Notebooks make my world go round.
41. I can't talk in front of crowds, even if it's just six people, I can't do it. I stutter, shake and my face turns red.
42. I'm short for my age and I'm usually the shortest one in all my classes.
43. I love anklets and making them.
44. I really like taking pictures and i think being a photographer as well as a writer would be fun.
45. My other choice would be an editor for movies whilst writing because I also love editing.
46. Board games are one of the best inventions ever.
47. I love to work out and walk and I hate days when I don't leave the house. When I don't get to leave the house I actually get headaches.
48. I first got into blogging when I was reading "Maximum Ride" by James Patterson and Fang created a blog. I loved Fang. Fang had a blog. Therefore I had to have a blog too.
49. I was in drama club at my elementary school in fifth and sixth grade. I've performed in four musicals and went to Jr. Thespians where we got a best of show for performing We Go Together from Grease.
50. Being an author is my number one goal in life.

Sorry this was so long, but I hope you enjoyed it. Leave a comment down below telling me some facts about you. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Getting Started

     Hey, I'm Taylor and this is my journey of becoming a teen writer. I'm not published, at least not yet, but I am writing a book. I'm also a junior in high school which is crazy enough without adding the writing world.
     I always see blogs about people who write books and give advice on writing and all that, but none of them are run by teenagers. They are all very nice blogs and are, for the most part, really helpful, but they don't tell you how to manage your writing while cramming for exams. That's what I plan to do; I want to help the other young people like me who love to write. I will be posting tips for writing, topics I find interesting, and about just being a teenager in general. My goal is to help at least one aspiring writer with the experiences I go through.
     When I was younger, I had a blog all about beauty and make up and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. It was trash, to be honest. I was thirteen if that clues you in on how awful it was. I barely even knew how to apply my own make up; why I thought I could tell someone else how to do it, I have no idea. However, I did learn valuable things from that train wreck, like don't edit your pictures to the point they turn yellow.
      Now, a little bit about me. I've been writing books since I was about nine years old, and that was when I knew I wanted to be a writer. Since then, I've written countless stories and some I even posted on a website that I may give out later on. One collection of short stories I have on that website has over 334,000 reads right now and that blows my mind. I am also on the varsity lacrosse team at my school and exercise regularly. I strongly believe in healthy living... very strongly. I'm vegetarian, vegan when possible, and haven't eaten anything that wasn't organic in over a year. My friends and family think I'm crazy. Finally, I love reading and learning with a burning passion. When I'm not writing, I'm researching random things (ex: Bulgarian mythology) or reading. Reading, to me, is almost more important than breathing.
     Well, that's me. If anyone is reading this, tell me about yourself in the comments. I'm really excited about this blog and I hope you are too.