Managing Stress

So…I didn’t plan this post out before I wrote it and as a result, it’s not structured in any way. Basically, I’m just rambling, so I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m all over the place. ANYWAYS, enjoy!

 

I used to constantly think to myself, “I just have to do these things, finish this work, and then I won’t be stressed anymore.”

The problem, however, is that the amount of “things” to do is endless. There will always be something else to do. One more thing added to the list. Another chore. Another school project. Another test to study for. Trying to juggle all these things with school, sleep, a social life, extracurricular activities, and college applications can be stressful. Very stressful; especially if you’re like me and you generally let your stress get out of control.

From my both my own experiences and those of an older, wiser person, I’ve learned that life doesn’t get less stressful or less hectic as you get older. Yes, high school is exhausting and demanding, but college will be the same way, if not, worse. And then there will be things to stress about after graduation in a career. The key is learning how to manage stress and not let it overwhelm you (I know, way to point out the obvious).

Feeling overwhelmed and stressed beyond measure is downright awful, and I think we can all resonate with that. A lot of times I have to stop and ask myself, “what good does stressing out about this do?”

The answer, 100% of the time, is none (I’m not talking about the healthy type of stress). Stressing out does nothing to help the situation. I know that it’s human nature to feel stressed and sometimes we can’t help it, but it’s important to realize this.

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Matthew 6:27

I first determine what is causing my stress. It helps to write it down and pinpoint the source. That’s the first step in managing the stress. Then I decide if I can control whatever it is I’m stressing about. If I’m worried about performing well on a test, for example, I take matters into my own hands by studying (usually until my brain feels fried, which probably isn’t healthy…ha). A lot of times we feel stressed because we are worried that we will not achieve the outcome we desire.

If I can’t control whatever it is I’m stressing about, I have to realize that and find a different way to cope. Praying helps immensely because, in a way, I feel like I’m getting something off my chest and understanding that, no, I’m not in control, but that’s okay and I can trust for things to work out.

This is a tip for managing stress caused by schoolwork–
Sometimes (most of the time, really) I’ll come home from school, dismayed and weary from all the homework and studying I have to do before the night is over. A way that I prevent myself from becoming stressed about it is deciding to be okay with the amount of work I have to get done. I tell myself, even if I don’t believe it at first, “I don’t mind at all. I’ll just get it all done, no matter how long it takes. It’ll be okay if I go to bed late.” And odds are I’d be tired even if I did get eight hours of sleep, so what does it matter if I get six hours and feel the same way? (I am NOT saying, however, that you should go to bed late and be sleep deprived every night. That is definitely not healthy).

And this is a tip for being so stressed that you’re restless and can’t sleep at night–
Whenever I’m really stressed, I find it hard to fall asleep because I can’t stop thinking about all the things I have to do. Well, I obviously can’t do them at the moment because I’m in bed, trying to sleep. Again, I tell myself something even if I don’t believe it at first: “I can’t do anything about it now, so just relax and get it done tomorrow.” Laying in bed, trying to fall asleep, might be one of the only times in the entire day where you literally get to do NOTHING. So enjoy that time. Don’t worry about the time if it’s getting really late. Just breathe. Relax.

And here’s my last piece of advice that calls for a drastic change in lifestyle. I’m still working on doing this myself.

Do not live to your limits. Find margin in your life.

In this culture, people generally fill their schedules up and become the busiest they can be. As difficult as it may seem, I challenge you to go against the mainstream culture and not say yes to everything. Live just a little bit under your limits. You might find yourself to be less emotionally drained, more patient, less short-tempered, and refreshed and motivated once again.

Also, find time to invest in what you love doing. Find an outlet. If I’m feeling stressed I might spend a few minutes strumming on the guitar just to get my mind off things. Some outlets may include drawing, painting, writing, reading, blogging, taking photos, yoga, spending time with friends and/or family, playing an instrument, or sports. Playing a sport really helps me because that also gets my mind off everything. It’s a time in which I completely forget about school and other busy parts of my life. You  might say, “I wish I could, but I don’t have any time for an outlet!” And to that, I would say, “Well, start small. Take five or ten minutes to do something you enjoy. I mean, we all spend at least that amount of time on our phones, right?”

 

 

Thanks for reading this all the way through and as usual, I hope it helps.

~Keara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Tips for Young Writers

Yes, I realize that the feature image has nothing to do with this topic, but it’s pretty, alright? Just roll with it.

Anyways, I’ve recently had the wonderful opportunity to write a guest post on a website that is essential for book-lovers, YA Books Central. The link to view it is at the end of this entry.

At the end of the guest post, I provided some advice for young writers/young aspiring authors. I would like to post them here on my blog as well, along with a couple of tips that I didn’t originally include.

I hope some of you will be able to get something out of this!

 

1. Read, Read, Read. And Read Some More

We’ve all heard this piece of advice before, and odds are you’re an avid reader and are already doing this. But I have to say it again just because it’s so essential for young writers. It is imperative that you read lots of books, both inside and outside your preferred genres. Reading will expose you to different writing styles, which may help you acquire your own. It also gives you plenty of examples of ways authors develop characters, utilize plot twists, and use clever figurative language. So on and so on, you’ve heard it all before, right? But maybe even more importantly, reading will foster your love for literature and inspire you to write your own stories.

 

 

 

2. Don’t Be Discouraged at Being Discouraged

There will come a time when you feel uninspired, can’t focus or have self-doubt. It’s probably already happened. This is extremely common for writers, as we know all too well that writing isn’t as easy as it seems. So whether you’re feeling discouraged because of rejection or writer’s block, just know that it’s okay to feel this way. It will pass. Push through and keep writing.

 

 

 

 

3. Just Keep Swimming—Or Writing, Rather

Unfortunately, I’ve read a few condescending articles about teen authors, some claiming that we don’t have enough wisdom or experience due to our age. In my opinion, that doesn’t have to be true. Maybe our writing isn’t going to be bestselling material right off the bat, but I don’t think we should doubt our skills just because we “don’t have enough experience.” So what if you don’t have as much wisdom as the typical adult writer? Your content can still be mature and plausible. So keep your head up and keep writing, and improvement will follow.

 

 

4. Patience

Be patient—another common piece of advice. Try not to rush anything, from planning to the actual writing to the publishing process. Give yourself time to develop that exciting idea of yours. You don’t absolutely have to be published at a very young age either, and if you can’t sit down and write that novel, don’t worry about it but don’t give up. There are benefits for waiting, such as improvement in your writing. Just remember that you have plenty of time.

 

 

Other tips (that you’ve probably seen before):

  • Write what you love & don’t follow trends

I’ve read this piece of advice before, and it’s stuck with me so I want to pass it along. Do not follow trends in the publishing industry. If your niche is writing in a romance-mystery genre, but every author and his dog is writing a futuristic dystopian book, don’t change! If you write what you love, your story will be 100x better because you’re having fun and it’s something you’re passionate about. Also, if you publish it, your book might stand out more because it’s more original.

  • Find your own path
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”
No two writers plan a novel or write in the same way. Don’t worry about not “doing it right.” Some authors spend years working on the same book. Some have three drafts of their book, some have six, and some have eleven. Some use a fancy computer program to track their subplots, etc.
And let’s not forget that there’s probably a million writing tips out there (a million and one now!). Many will contradict each other. For instance, I’ve heard some people say you need to write every single day and have a routine schedule. Others will say it’s best not to write when you feel uninspired. And then there’s that quote by Jodi Picoult that says, “you may not write well every day, but you can edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
The point is, sometimes it’s best not to put every single tip you read into practice. Sometimes it’s better to find out what works best for you.
So there you have it! That’s my advice and what I have learned through my own experiences. If you’re interested in seeing my guest post on YA Books Central, check out the link!
~Keara

How I Fell in Love with Writing

My Story as a Writer and Where I’m at Now~

I’ve been thinking about my journey and growth as a writer a lot lately, so I’ve decided to put down my thoughts, particularly how I came to start writing and, as the title suggests, how I fell in love with it. I hope some of you, especially aspiring authors such as myself, can relate to or just simply enjoy this post 🙂

It started when I was in first grade, when I was taught what figurative language was. I thought similes, metaphors, idioms, hyperboles, personification, etc., were the coolest things ever and I had an inexplicable desire to use them all. That, I think, is when I began writing for the first time. I wrote short stories and decorated them with images from clip art. And they were awful. Cringey. But hey, I was in first grade, and you gotta start somewhere (unless you’re as talented as Harper Lee and your first novel is a literary classic).

Those short stories didn’t get much better (just a little bit) as I made my way through grade school, but I kept at it and enjoyed it. Ever since elementary school, I wanted to write a full length book, particularly (yikes I’ve used this word twice already) at a young age. When I was in first grade or so, I wrote a one page story and asked my mom if I could get it published. In my young and naive mind, it was long enough to pass as a novella. Ha. My mom promptly told me, “I think it’s too short.” Dismayed, I started to type what I thought would be a novel, without any planning whatsoever. Needless to say, that didn’t go anywhere, but I’m glad it didn’t. This happened a couple more times while I was in elementary, where I would write a random, drawn out story and hope for the best (I knew nothing, ok?).

Throughout the years, I continued to read and occasionally write. There was a span of time, from fifth to seventh grade I think, when I hardly wrote at all. But then, all the sudden, I finished reading a book in November of 2013, my eighth grade year, and decided “hey, I can do this too. I’m going to write a novel.” So I did.

I planned a story, the major plot points, the characters, and did chapter outlines as I went. After about seven months, I finished a 147k word manuscript, which became Shadow of the Sacred Islands. Is it the best story ever? No. Are there flaws? Yes. But am I proud of it? Yes! Writing a novel is an accomplishment, and CONGRATS if you have ever done so or are committing yourself to writing one. Doesn’t matter if it’s traditionally published, self-published (shout out to all the indie authors out there), or not published at all. It takes a lot of work and discipline, especially if you’re a first timer. My greatest advice is keep at it, don’t stop writing, no matter what anyone tells you or what you read. It doesn’t matter if you’re horrible at writing, if you love it and keep doing it, you WILL get better. When I flip through the pages of Shadow of the Sacred Islands I sometimes cringe at what I wrote when I was fourteen. My writing has greatly–no, IMMENSELY– improved since then. My writing style has further developed, the lengths of my sentences vary more, I plan in much greater detail–there are pages and pages of planning and notes on characters and the plot–but like I said before, you gotta start somewhere. That’s why I love the quote, “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

 
Currently, I am trying to write a trilogy. There is much work to be done on the first book’s manuscript, as the first draft is the only draft at the moment heh, and I’ve just started on the second book as well (no, I don’t know what I’m doing). Though it’s probably gonna be a couple years or so before I’m ready to send out query letters to literary agents, I’m very excited about it.

I’m inspired by the books I read and the authors I love. This Earth has been blessed with J.R.R. Tolkien and I cannot begin to describe how much his world and writing, especially The Lord of the Rings, which is what I’m reading right now, has inspired me. Reading Tolkien’s work and Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles has pulled me out of that dreaded writer’s block so many times.

So there you have it. That’s the brief description on how I came to know creative writing and how I’ve grown to love it. There are a lot of people like me, young and older, hoping to get their novel out into the world and share it with others. I hope all you aspiring or amateur authors keep doing what you love and I wish you the best.

~Keara

(btw-my book Shadow of the Sacred Islands is on sale on Amazon and you should check it out! *hint hint* 😉 #selfpromo ha)

The Beauty of New England

The New England states have a beauty of their own, especially on the countryside. Most of these pictures were taken in a small community and now historical site, Plymouth Notch, Vermont.

 

New England 2017 015
Northampton, MA

New England 2017 019Plymouth Notch, VT, the birthplace and childhood home of the 30th president, Calvin Coolidge

New England 2017 042New England 2017 043New England 2017 051New England 2017 055 (2)New England 2017 056New England 2017 060New England 2017 064New England 2017 071New England 2017 074New England 2017 077New England 2017 087New England 2017 090New England 2017 098New England 2017 120New England 2017 123 (2)New England 2017 127New England 2017 131New England 2017 135New England 2017 138New England 2017 139New England 2017 149New England 2017 150New England 2017 151New England 2017 152New England 2017 153

New England 2017 154
Ludlow, Vermont

New England 2017 158

There’s the country and then there’s Boston

New England 2017 171
Boston skyline from the top of the Bunker Hill monument
New England 2017 175 - Copy
Bunker Hill monument. Photo creds go to Dad for this one
New England 2017 177
U.S.S. Constitution, also known as “Old Ironsides” as I’m sure you know (she’s over 200 hundred years old)

New England 2017 184New England 2017 189

New England 2017 195
U.S.S Cassin Young, a WWII destroyer

 

Photos from Colorful Colorado: Garden of the Gods & Pikes Peak

During one week in March, I visited several places in Colorado. The following are photos I took while I was at Garden of the Gods and the summit of Pikes Peak.

Garden of the Gods, which is located in Colorado Springs, is a National Natural Landmark comprised of a bunch of sandstone rock formations. Admission into the park is free, so if you’re ever in the area, I’d really recommend giving Garden of the Gods a visit.

Pikes Peak is on the front rage of the Rocky Mountains and reaches a staggering elevation of 14,115 feet. It’s also home to the world’s highest cog railway, which takes visitors up to the summit via train. At the top of the mountain, there’s a Summit House where you can purchase souvenirs and tasty treats, such as donuts and hot chocolate. Though the temperature can drop below a very frigid 15 degrees, and the average wind speed is about 21 mph, the views are BREATHTAKING!

Garden of the Gods:

DSC01488EDDSC01497EDDSC01491DSC01507DSC01521EDDSC01517DSC01520DSC01542DSC01552DSC01555DSC01561DSC01566DSC01575DSC01583DSC01585DSC01591DSC01614DSC01615DSC01617DSC01620DSC01625DSC01641DSC01652DSC01662DSC01666DSC01668DSC01669DSC01671DSC01673

DSC01592ED
Pikes Peak:

DSC01685DSC01691DSC01692DSC01695DSC01689DSC01706ED

Poems to Help

The following is a series of poems that are meant to help anyone going through a hard time. I hope they are relatable and provide comfort or strength to anyone who needs it. Sadness, struggle, and depression are hard things to talk about, but knowing you’re not alone can make a world of difference.

All work is my own.

 

Tides of the Seasons

There are many seasons,
They roll like the tide
Low and high

There’s the bright spring blossoms,
New to life,
And the sunny warm summer,
All fine

And there’s the fall and the winter,
Where the leaves start to flitter,
And everything is a harsh gray haze
It is always so cold down low

But it’s how you carry yourself,
Through those short days and long nights
It can be sorta empty,
And the fire is gone

But it’s how you keep your arms pumping,
Despite that cold in your chest,
Clawing at your throat
It’s how you break through,
Until the warm arms of spring,
Are there for an embrace

 

 

The Storm Within

The rain—
It beats against the sidings of houses,
Thunders on the roofs,
Flees from the clouds in an angry frenzy

The wind—
It shrieks and hollers,
Dances through the branches,
Whistles and weaves in between the droplets of rain

The thunder—
With lungs that expand across the whole sky,
It makes the earth tremble,
Roars so as to make hearts skip a beat

The storm is done brewing,
It can’t be contained
It whirls around and around,
Destroys and tears down
The season doesn’t matter

But those people—
They can’t see it
It’s just a sunny day

 

 

Fly

Fly away,
Let the wind lift your wings,
That have been so broken
Your feathers have shed,
Floating by as spirits have cracked

You have been tossed in the turbulence,
And forced to hide away in the rain and icy weather
Now the breeze is stiff,
The day is clear
It is time to test your wings again

They might snap or bend,
But at least they’re on the mend

 

 

unspoken Set the world in Motion

Masters of the unspoken,
Keepers of the unwritten
It’s easier with no words said

But we must keep pushing,
Or we’ll never move
It’s people like you,
That can change the world

It’s much more convenient,
To slide like a shadow
But it’s warmer in the sun,
If you know you won’t get burned

So gather your voice,
Pick up a pen
Set the world in motion
There’ll be ears to listen

 

 

How to Thaw

When you hit the ground so hard,
It can be difficult to get back up

Staring restlessly at the sky,
While the land presses in from all other sides
The stars seem so distant,
And the warmth of the sun feels like an eternity away

I am still,
In place,
The only thing that breathes
Are the tears running down my cheeks

Teach me how to thaw,
How to believe
Teach me how to thaw,
So I can move again

 

 

Dear little Flower

Don’t worry, little flower,
You’ll get some sunshine soon
It’ll make you bloom,
And your petals will be so vibrant

I know you feel you’re in a drought,
With those taunting fat clouds hovering by
But soon they’ll burst,
And you’ll drink again

Your roots will stretch,
Your anchor growing strong
Soon you will not budge against the moving soil

Just stay tall,
And do not wither in the harsh weather

 

 

Not Clocks

We’re not broken,
We’re not stopped
Like an old, outdated clock

We’ll be cracked
And we’ll be crushed,
But our gears won’t turn to rust
We’ll keep ticking,
Ticking

Life goes on,
Life goes on,
And we’ll go on too
Ticking, ticking
Until the very last breath

 

 

Solemn Storm

Solemn songs,
Solemn breathing

Can’t find a way out,
Just dream as the wind chimes blow
And try not to freeze,
As the warmth passes away

Cloudless day,
Cloudless gaze
The focus is so clear,
But there’s no sunshine

And after the storm,
There’ll be no more rain
The fog will march away
And the parting of the veil,
Will release at last the light

Just stay with me,
Stay with me with eyes open
And spirit clinging
Wait,
For the glorious moment

 

 

Now and Then

Every now and then
It’s gonna be okay,
It’s gonna be okay

Every now and then
When the arrows point south,
Just release the waterfall

But every now and then
The clouds will part
And everything will be fine

It’s only a moment in time,
And you’re gonna be okay
Not every day will look the same

 

 

To pray

Looking into a lens,
A window of the future,
And already seeing these problems,
I try so hard to prevent them

And I try,
But there is only one way;
A simple thing called—
To pray

It would take us so far,
And carry us into that future,

With an ease of mind

 

 

Flowers on the Earth

If you are in pain,
I can relate
The taste is on the tip of my tongue
It never really goes away,
It lingers far too late

If you are in pain,
I can relate
Like every other flower on this earth
We live in a fallen, broken world
Littered with shadows

And you’re probably wondering,
How can I escape this world
Well,

You have to spread your wings,
And learn how to fly
I know it’s been said far too many times
But,

You will be a light in the dark,
A guide for the lost

Fly away,
Fly away,
And pick up the flowers of the earth,
Help save them from the storm

You will be a voice in the lies,
A path for the weary

Fly away,
Fly away,
And give light to the flowers
Help show them the way

 

Save the Trees

I wrote this for school, but why not post it here?

Also, a lot of improvements could be made in this story and the plot itself, but I’ve decided to post it as is.

 

She stood unmoving, listening to the steady thrumming of the water as it hit the bathtub. The water pressure began to weaken and the shower head whined as the water shut off. Her five minutes were up and she had been too distracted to finish washing her hair.

Liberty gingerly stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around her, just as she did every night. And like every other night, she had not thoroughly washed herself because her thoughts always wandered while she was in the shower, and five minutes was not enough time. It was bothersome. But Liberty supposed if she did have all the time in the world to take a shower, she would never get out.

Two hours later, all the electric lights in the house turned off, indicating that it was time for Liberty and her family to retire for the night. If they wished to stay up, they would have to use flashlights or candles to illuminate the house. Her parents never did stay awake past the recommended time of curfew, though, and never did anything against the government’s wishes or “suggestions”. Thus, Liberty reluctantly followed suit. After the lights of the house died away without any protest, Liberty tucked herself away from the world and sought the comfort of her bed.

A deafening bang served as her wakeup call the next morning. There were men on the roof of their house, installing a new set of solar panels. The hammering was loud and booming and incessant and vibrated the ceiling. Liberty groaned and clambered out of bed; there was no point in trying to fall back asleep.

She came down the stairs and into the kitchen to find her mother messing with the stove. Liberty silently watched.

“Sorry about the noise, Liberty!” her mother said with her ever-present smile and cheerful tone. Was everything always right in her mother’s world? Did her mother ever feel bittersweet sorrow or dulling pain?

“They’re putting in the new solar panels as you probably know,” her mother went on. “But I’m sure they’ll be done shortly! Do you want some breakfast? I’m going to cook something as soon as I turn this thing on.”

“We’ll be taxed for using the stove,” Liberty said.

“Yes,” her mother replied, “but only because it uses gas. This house is so obsolete! Soon they’ll ban gas stoves and force us to buy an electric one. Not that I’m complaining—I hate using this outdated technology!”

“Yes,” Liberty murmured absently.

“Oh, did you hear? Our block finally got a new car! Gasoline cars are officially outlawed, and I say good riddance!”

“What’s wrong with a vehicle powered by gasoline?”

Her mother flapped a hand. “You know how they are. Always emitting noxious fumes, dirtying up our precious air, and, like the stove, they’re obsolete.”

“I’ve heard they’re more reliable.”

“You’ve been hearing nonsensical rumors. I can’t wait to try out the block’s new car.”

Liberty wondered what it would be like to own a family car rather than one that was shared between the neighbors and them. Ever since the Series of Environmental Acts were passed over thirty years ago, the government issued communal vehicles to neighborhoods. Each block received an electric car and there was a strict schedule for time of use.

The Series of Environmental Acts implemented other laws as well, resulting in a drastic change in everyone’s way of life. Liberty wouldn’t know, though. She was sixteen years old and had never known anything different. For as long as she could remember, the lights in every house and building shut off at a certain time, every citizen was limited to one five minute shower a day, there was a device in every vehicle that measured the amount of miles traveled so one could be taxed accordingly, and citizens were charged every time they used gasoline in their homes.

“I’m sure it’ll be nice,” Liberty said, referring to the new car.

“Yes, I’m sure it will be. Oh! I’ve got the stove working.”

“I think I’ll pass on breakfast.”

“Oh? Are you feeling ill today?”

“No. I just want to take a walk.”

She left the kitchen before her mother could object and exited the house, the house with a heart that beat to the rhythm of the government. Liberty craned her neck and peered up at the sun as it reigned over its kingdom of sky. The sun could not be turned off. Some days clouds would shroud its beauty, but they would eventually float away. Nothing could hide the sun’s radiance and brilliance forever.

Liberty found herself wandering into the junkyard that was right outside the neighborhood. There were always interesting gadgets and trinkets strewn about, dented and tarnished and abandoned after the items were no longer of use to their owners. Liberty supposed many of these miscellaneous items were outlawed after the Series of Environmental Acts had been passed.

An abrupt crash sounded close by, and Liberty’s pulse fluttered. Better judgment pleaded for her to turn around and go home, but curiosity took over and pushed her forward. Liberty passed a particularly large pile of scrap metal in search of the noise’s source.

Next to a rusted and broken down automobile was a boy about her age, crouched on his knees and clutching his head. Various tools and mechanical parts were scattered around him.

“Are you alright?” Liberty asked.

The boy startled and leaped to his feet. Fear momentarily flashed in his eyes before he realized Liberty was only a kid.

He cleared his throat and leaned on the car. “Good, everything’s good. Um, who are you?”

“Liberty.”

“Ironic. What are you doing in the junkyard of all places?”

She raised her eyebrows. He knew she could very well ask him the same thing.

“Fair enough. Assuming you’re not a spy for anyone, I guess I could tell you what I’m doing. Do you want to know?”

She shrugged and approached the car.

“I’m Elon, by the way.”

“Nice to meet you,” she said. “How’s your head, Elon?” She could see a red bump already forming.

He instinctively touched his forehead. “Um, it’s fine. Anyway,” he said, taking a step back and gesturing at the old car, “do you know what this is?”

“It’s a car. And it’s a miracle it’s still in one piece.”

“Not just any car!” Elon exclaimed excitedly. “It uses gasoline. Pretty impressive, right?”

“I’ve seen plenty of them before.”

“Cherish those memories then, because it won’t be long before there’ll be no trace of them.”

“They’ve been officially outlawed,” Liberty recalled, thinking back to her mother’s words.

“Exactly. But I’m going to fix this one up and it’s going to work.”

“Really?” Liberty said doubtfully. “For what reason?

“For fun,” Elon simply said. “Do you want to help?”

It would be risky and far too dangerous. Yet, Liberty could not help but imagine the excitement, the feeling of accomplishment that would come from bringing this neglected machinery back to life, and how it signified defiance without harming anybody. Liberty felt a smile tug at the corners of her lips.

“Alright. What can I do?”

Elon grinned as well. “Come here every day at this time and we’ll have it operating soon enough.”

“And then what?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know.”

For the next two months, Liberty met Elon every day to fix the car. It was tedious work, progress was being made at a snail’s pace, and the weather was no help. The summer sun would mercilessly thrust its rays upon their backs and arms and legs, yet Elon was undeterred and as enthusiastic as ever.

After those two months, their labor paid off, as proved when Elon crawled inside of the dirt-ridden car and tested the engine. Liberty waited anxiously. The vehicle coughed and sputtered, but then it rattled to life.

Liberty whooped in victory. “We did it!”

Elon climbed out of the car and dusted off his pants. “All that hard work was worth it after all. Can you hand me the gasoline? We’ll fill up the tank and take it for a spin.”

“Freeze where you are!”

Liberty whipped around. There was a swarm of adults, all dressed in black uniforms and armed with guns.

“Put down the gasoline and step away from the car,” one of the agents commanded.

There was a click as the safety was released from a gun. Liberty’s heart shook her ribcage.

“This is criminal activity. You have broken numerous laws while simultaneously endangering the wellbeing of this community.” The agent glanced over her shoulder to give the rest of the team an order. “Arrest them.”

They ran toward her and Elon, enclosing them in a circle and blocking off any chance of escape. As her hands were twisted behind her back, Liberty focused on the sun, that breathtaking and inspiring star that could never be snuffed out.

 

The Star Chaser

Everyone said the waves were choppy and restless, like they couldn’t find out where they were or where they were supposed to be going. But he thought the waves were rather fluid and perpetual, incessantly riding the rhythm of time and heeding to the call of the moon. They were a part of something bigger, bigger than a single drop of salty water or myriad drops that a wave was comprised of, or even the ocean altogether. The waves were moving to the pull of the moon, that silver light that hung above everything.

He pressed his elbows against the railing of the clipper, affectionately named The Reverie. She carried him and his crew along those so-called choppy waves, deep into the ocean and deep into the night. Now he was leaning over The Reverie’s edge, staring out into the vague distance, trying to separate the horizon from the dark water. He could not do it. The night darkened and blurred everything.

Though the sun was nowhere in sight, the Captain did not feel like his eyes were heavy as lead. There was a chilled layer of moisture floating in the air, but the Captain did not feel cold in the slightest. Contrary to the rest of the crew, he was wide awake and waiting patiently, waiting for the greatest treasure that the eyes of men would ever behold.

The Captain’s obsession with seeking this treasure had started long ago, and could be seen in the early threads of the tapestry of his life. His efforts to attain the Greatest Treasure were the fragments that fitted together to shape his past, a past that was troubled and full of hardships. But the Captain knew the benefits of the Greatest Treasure would justify everything he had done, every disputable decision he had made.

He had doubted the existence of a Greatest Treasure. Yes, the world was filled with an assortment of jewels, gems, and crystals; gold pieces, silver crescents, and valuable minerals, but wasn’t there something beyond even all of those trinkets? Wasn’t there something in which the little treasures paled in comparison to? That was the Greatest Treasure, and the Captain had vowed to scour the land and seas to find it. It would be the achievement of a lifetime. Yet, over the years his confidence and faith had begun to wane. So had the crew’s. But it was when he heard of The Legend that he regained all the enthusiasm he had when he first stepped foot on The Reverie.

The Legend told of a mystic wonder so astounding that the Captain knew it would lead him to the Greatest Treasure. The Legend claimed that on this night, shards of the cosmos would rain down from the sky—Gems of the Heavens. The Captain had spent many hours and days determining where this would take place, and was certain they were in the right location.

But embarking on this voyage had not come without drawbacks. Despite his troubled past and uncertain future, the Captain had met someone three years prior. She embodied his happiness and was the sweetest love the world would ever be merciful enough to show him. Before he had departed, the Captain had promised he would marry her. He remembered her glassy wavering eyes during the last time they had spoken. She had pleaded for him to stay. To not go.

“Do not sail away just to find that the legend is fabled,” she begged. Her eyelashes were wet and her voice was strained. She fought the lump in her throat and the heavy weight in her heart in order to speak.

He clasped her hands tightly. “I won’t be long. The Legend is not merely legend and will prove to be true. It will be the Greatest Treasure, and then I’ll have it and we can live to the end of our days without trouble.”

A glistening tear escaped the rim of her eye and she shook her head. “I do not care for the Greatest Treasure. Why must you?”

“I have been searching for this my whole life. It is a part of my soul as my arm is a part of my body.”

And then she had said he could stay, and they could wed the very next morning. If only he would stay.

The captain declined. He wouldn’t be long, remember? And as soon as he returned, they would marry.

These memories replayed in his head as he gazed upon the milky moon and the collection of stars speckling the sky. He missed her with an ache. But the Greatest Treasure would make everything worthwhile.

He continued to wait for The Legend to come true. But only the quiet blackness of the air, night, and sea presented itself before him. It was as still as death. The Captain was beginning to worry as the night inched along.

And then—

A single sparkling ribbon streaked across the sky. The Captain pushed off the rail and jerked his head upward. He could feel a broad smile stretching across his weary face. It was happening.

Another stream of silvery light shot across the sky. And another. And another. They were like dreams and blazed brightly.

The Captain raced across the deck to get his telescope, laughing euphorically. Pieces of the cosmos continued to take flight above him, gradually like the beginning of a rainstorm at first, then more steadily until hundreds and hundreds illuminated the sky.

The Captain charged beneath the deck and into the hold, shouting at his crew to wake up. When all of them had risen in a muddled state of confusion, the Captain returned to the deck and began to steer the ship in the direction where the Gems of the Heavens were landing. The crew dazedly operated the sails to catch what little wind there was.

They sailed for a little ways, following the twinkling trail of the heavenly gems, and finally arrived at a small rocky cove. They anchored The Reverie and clambered to the shore while some of the crew remained on board to look after the ship.

The dazzling gems continued to arc across the sky and plunged into the cove when it was time for their flight to end. They were bright and blinding, bathing the Captain and his crew in white light as the Gems of the Heavens soared right in front of them. The Captain could feel the excitement bubbling inside him.

The crew found that, in order to reach the Gems of the Heavens, they would need to pass through a cave. Many of them were hesitant, for the cave was darker than the night, and the opening looked like a wide gaping mouth, eagerly waiting to swallow them up. But the Captain was undeterred and strode bravely into the cave with his crew members reluctantly following close behind. He did not notice that misty clouds began to shroud the moon as they entered.

They navigated through the cave unsurely but steadily, until a soft glow came into view, which lighted their path. The Captain began to run and shouted at his crew to hurry along. He entered a chamber and his breath snagged and his speech failed him.

Strewn across the cave floor in heaps and piles were stunning jewels of starlight, glistening with all the majesty and illumination of the entire sky. Their white light flooded the room and glinted and winked off every edge of the gems. Though the Gems of the Heavens were pure and white, there were wisps of every vibrant color inside of them. The Captain fell to his knees in awe.

After so many years, he had done it. He had found the Greatest Treasure, and every man from now on would know his name and tell this glorious story for ages and ages. It was the treasure of all treasures, and nothing else would measure up to this feat.

With trembling hands, the Captain approached one of the jewels from the cosmos and gingerly picked it up. His crew huddled behind him, watching with amazement and curiosity.

But then something strange happened. The heavenly gem crumbled in the Captain’s hand, breaking apart and dissolving into mere dust until it slipped through his fingers like sand. Its luminous light faded into nothing. The Captain could not even tell the difference between the remnants of the star and the dirt of the cave floor.

“No,” the Captain said. He frantically picked up another heavenly gem. The same thing happened and the Captain shouted in fear and frustration. This could not be happening. After everything he had been through to get here. Everything. It could not come to this.

He grabbed gem after gem, watching in horror as each and every one disintegrated in the palms of his hands.

One of the crew members came into the chamber, one who had originally stayed on the ship. He was breathing hard.

“Captain!” he panted. “Captain, I have terrible news.”

“I think I have discovered what you are about to tell me,” the Captain said with tears in his eyes.

“No, Captain, it is something else.” The crew member squeezed his eyes shut, mustering the courage to deliver the tragic news. “We have received word that your bride-to-be has fallen ill and…and she did not overcome it.”

“What do you mean?” the Captain yelled. He violently kicked a pile of heavenly gems. They chimed and chinked as they scattered across the ground. The Captain fell to his knees once more and began to sob. “After everything. Everything. I had found the Greatest Treasure, and now look!”

He picked up a jewel of starlight so the crew member that had just arrived could see. The crew member only shook his head with tears of his own and said sadly, “Oh, Captain. Did you not know that the world’s Greatest Treasure is not something you can hold?”

 

 

 

He Came From Fantasy

I wrote this short story over a year ago to enter it in the 2015-2016 PTA Reflections contest, which is a great program that inspires creativity. Students are given a theme (last year’s was “Let your imagination fly”) and can enter in several categories, such as visual arts, literature, photography, dance choreography, film, music composition, etc..

 

He Came From Fantasy

“I want to be a writer one day, Grandfather. Did you know that? Can you tell me the story again? I think, one day, it will help me with my writing.”

The grandfather smiled, for he loved to tell this story. And his heart was warmed by the energetic and youthful spirit of his eight year-old grandson.

“Of course, my dear child.”

The boy grinned excitedly and gazed at his grandfather with eager eyes, with the reflection of the flickering fire from the fireplace dancing within them, like flames galloping across green glass.

“A man and a woman, two young lovers,” the grandfather began. “They knew they wanted to grow old together from the moment they laid eyes on each other…

“One day the man was working hard, carving a figurine of an angel in honor of his maiden. He did not know it at the time, but he held so much love for the woman that he breathed life into the figure.

On one summer night, the couple took a walk in a forest that sleeps in autumn and sings in spring, with deep emerald leaves that flutter in song and celebration. Quite a mystical forest, it was. The man said to the woman, ‘What do you want? Whatever it is, I will give it to you, for my love for you carries me beyond the horizon and I know that I am able.’ The woman gazed into the sky and replied, ‘Give me the stars, and leave out the moon. Let them roll down like tears, like droplets of diamonds, into my hands.’

“All was going well for the couple, until the woman became very ill. Sadly, she did not prevail against the disease. The man became swept away with grief, you see. He decided to go to the forest, to revisit the memory he had made with the woman.

“He took the angel he had carved and walked among the trees once more, this time alone. That night, the sky was ablaze with falling stars, shooting to the earth like rain of a mad storm. ‘Even the sky is mourning,’ the man said. And he remembered what his love had said, how she marveled the stars so much, and how she yearned for them. So he ran and managed to catch one of the falling stars.

“’This is for you, my love,’ he said, holding the gleaming star in his hand. He took the star and buried it in the ground like you would a seed. While he was doing so, he released so much raw and authentic emotion that forest guardians were created.

Many years later, a tree had grown from the fallen star. To this day, it remains in that same forest with many stars tangled in its branches, like dew drops strewn across a spider’s web. It is rumored that there are still forest guardians that protect the tree, making sure nobody steals a single star from the branches. The guardians only show themselves to certain people—and that is rare—so many people are unsure of what they look like. Also, you can only get to the tree if you have the angel the man made.”

The grandfather got out of his chair and took something off the mantel.

“It just so happens that this is the angel.”

“Wow!” the young boy gasped. “Does the forest and the tree really exist? Can I go there?”

The grandfather chuckled. “You must keep it alive in your heart. Then it will be as real as your breath.”

“And what if I don’t?”

“Then it will die, and drip away like rain washing away chalk on pavement. And then no one will be able to go there and reality might carry you away.”

“Reality is inevitable though, Grandfather.”

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean you can never escape it.”

“How would you do that?”

“You ignore the limitations laid in front of you and spread your wings. There are no boundaries. This—your imagination—may be the single thing that you have complete control over. No one can craft a set of rules for it. You give yourself an infinite amount of possibilities.”

The boy’s eyes widened. “Really? Does everyone have this power?”

“No, sadly not. So many people are bound by chains…”

SOTSI Part II!

Shadow of the Sacred Islands: Part Two is available for purchase!! The link to view it on Amazon is posted under the Books menu.

Today I received my first physical copy of Part Two and it hit me that Shadow of the Sacred Islands has finished its journey of publication. It’s bittersweet, but exciting that I can continue developing the world in which Lux exists.

Though I am an amateur author, I hope you all have as much fun reading Shadow of the Sacred Islands as I had writing it.