Posts Tagged ‘critique groups’

Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read.  Enjoy!


PHOTO CREDIT delboysafa from Morguefile.com


The cage bars were cold against my skin. “Let me out!” I screamed as I slammed into them once more.

The tigers lay in the fake jungle like surroundings, watching me. Traitors. How could they bask away beneath the sun, letting him decide their next meal? So docile, as if they didn’t remember what it was like to slink through the thick grass and hunt for food.

The door at the back of the tiger exhibit opened, and one of the handlers came in carrying slabs of raw meat.

“Please, help me,” I called, shaking the bars.

His startled gaze met mine. “What are you doing in here?”

“The zookeeper kidnapped me. He’s had me locked up in here for days.” My face crumpled, tears streamed along my cheeks.

One of the tigers, Felix, the male, let out a roar. The handler tossed him a hunk of meat.

“What the hell’s going on?” the handler asked. He came close enough for me to see his name tag. Rick.“I—I don’t know. A couple of days ago, I came here with my family. And the head zookeeper asked if we wanted to take part in a special exhibit.” My fingers trembled as I tried to forget the screams. “When he got us in here, he fed my parents to the tigers, and locked me up.”

Rick looked horrified. “Listen, I can sneak you out of here. But you’ll have to give me a minute so I can get you something else to wear.” He gestured to my torn, bloodied clothes.

He slipped from the holding area, his dark hair sticking up in messy tufts. When he returned he carried a khaki colored zoo uniform. He slipped them through the bars, then turned while I changed.

“What’s your name?” Rick asked.

“Tia Queen.”

“Okay, Tia. I’m going to unlock the cage real slow. When I throw the purple ball to the tigers, I want you to move toward the exit.”

I wanted to tell him that they wouldn’t let me go passed. But he already had the toy in hand and rolled it across the floor. Taking a deep breath, I grabbed hold of Rick’s waist, jerking him against me. The tigers growled. They knew what I was doing.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Rick tried to break my grip, but I was too strong.

“Just stay with me, I’ll explain when we get out.” A smile tugged my lips when the tigers backed down. I knew Felix wouldn’t have the balls to go against the zookeeper.

When we reached the door, I released Rick. “Who are you?” he took a step back.

I laughed. “There’s a reason the zookeeper had me locked up. And it’s time I paid him a visit.” A loud crunching sound filled the air as my bones broke, and my skin tore. Pain radiated through my limbs. I cried out. Only it came out a roar instead.

The shift was always the worst when under stress. But I had to take care of the zookeeper. He’d imprisoned me and family, forcing us to work in his zoos. But no more. Tonight it ended.

Rick’s mouth fell open, but he stepped out of the way holding the door to the park open for me. I stopped long enough to lick his hand, then went to find the zookeeper.

It didn’t take me long to pick up his scent. The stench of cheap cologne and day old whiskey. He never saw me coming. He stood leaning against the brick building, talking on his cell phone. Making more deals to buy our kind. I gave one low growl, and he went still. Before he could turn around, I leapt on him. My teeth ruptured his skin, warm blood dribbled down my fur. Finally. Paybacks. He should’ve realized keeping wild animals can be dangerous. My claws dug into his flesh as I used him for my personal scratching post and when I was done he was beyond recognition. No more than he deserved.

Once I shifted back, I found Rick waiting near the back gate for me in a truck. “You need a lift somewhere?”

I smiled. “Yeah, anywhere but here.” As I glanced behind me, I saw Felix standing on the other side of the glass, staring it me. I flipped him the bird.

He sold me out to the zookeeper and for that, he could stay in a cage.

Rick turned on the radio, and I rolled down my window letting the wind blow my hair. Never again would I be anyone’s pet. Today was the first day of the rest of my life.

Thanks for coming by. Please be sure to drop by my fellow YAFFers blogs and don’t forget to leave a comment.

Vanessa Barger

Miranda Buchanan

Traci Kenworth

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Okay everyone, I”m sharing the first 250 words of my current manuscript entitled: The Fairy Godmother Files: Cinderella Complex for the Show Me The Voice Blogfest Contest. So let me know what you think of the beginning! All comments are welcome. For more information about the contest, make sure to stop by Brenda Drake Writes 

Name: Rebekah L. Purdy

Title: The Fairy Godmother Files: Cinderella Complex

Genre: YA Fantasy/Romance

First 250 words:


“Oh. My. God. Maggie, he’s here,” Taylor squealed, jerking on my arm.

The prince rode up on his white steed like he’d fallen out of the pages of a fairytale. Golden hair, tanned skin, and a smile that made me want to recite Shakespeare. Sigh.

Okay, so it was Connor Prince, not “real” royalty, and so what if his horse was a white Ford Mustang? I had two words for him. So. Hot.

“I swear, I’m going to talk to him this year,” I said, shielding my eyes from the sun.

Taylor handed me her cappuccino, while she adjusted her out of control curls. “Yeah, right. You say that every year. And every year you walk up to him, open your mouth to say something, blush, and then turn right back the way you came.”

I deflated like a balloon. God, she was right. It was hopeless. I would be the only junior without a prom date come spring, not to mention the only girl in the entire school who hadn’t been kissed. I groaned.

No. I’m not going to do this again.

Junior year would be my year. I’d be more assertive, aggressive, a go-getter. Connor Prince and I were going to exchange words this year—hell we’d exchange more than words. He’d be my first kiss.

The sound of splashing water interrupted my Connor-laced fantasies, and I glanced at the nearby fountain. The large stone otter spewed water, which crashed over carved footballs, winged shoes, tennis rackets, and baseball bats.

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In case you’re wondering, I am working diligently on applying crits/edits etc to TFGF. Lots I want to get done on it, which means LATE NIGHTS. It’ll be me, my laptop, a cup of tea, chocolate, and Sirius Satellite Radio (Coffeehouse station).

Writing a story is fun, but it’s also a lot of work. Because once you’re finished getting it all done on paper (or computer or both—hehehe), the real work begins. Now comes what I like to call the slash/crash/and keep game. I’m looking for stuff to slash from my MS, like wordiness, overuse of certain words, bad plotlines etc. Then I like to see what might make my story “crash” stuff like telling, plot holes, rushed scenes, too much description etc. And of course, the parts I’ll keep.

My critique group (YAFF), is invaluable for helping to weed some of these things out.

As I write chapters and edit them, I post them to the group for feedback. Sometimes their comments will spark new ideas, other times they’ll bring up things I need to look at. Like, “Wow, your character must be happy because he’s grinned like 15 times in the last 3 pages.” Or “Um—okay, why is your character suddenly acting like this for. They were really happy, and now for no reason they’re ripping people’s heads off.”

What might be apparent to us, as the writer of the story, might not be obvious to the reader. So if we have to go back and explain a scene to someone, we probably haven’t done our job. My rule of thumb for changing things is: If the suggestion makes sense, change it. Or, if more than one person is pointing out the same thing, time to revamp.

And although applying critiques/edits is hard work, I also look at it as something fun. I mean, now’s the chance to smooth the scenes out. Or maybe add in a new chapter that will totally take the story to the next level. It’s the time to bring the story from “good” to “great” by cutting the unnecessary, and making sure everything is balanced. Do character reactions/dialogue make sense to the scene? Are the motivations for these reactions working? Did I drop enough clues/hints about who the bad guy/girl really is? Have I brought the romance/relationships full circle? Do I have Plot lines that are still hanging, and if so, should they be left open?

It’s like working on a piece of art. You start out molding the clay. At first it looks like a lump. Then as you sculpt it, it turns into something beautiful.

So here’s to the editing/revision process.

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Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read.  Enjoy!

Photo Credit manicmorff at morguefile.com

“Hey, watch it nerd.” Greg Weathers rammed his shoulder into my arm, knocking the books from my hands.

“God, he’s such a jerk.” My narrowed eyes followed him down the hallway.

“Here, let me help you.” Stephen shoved his glasses up his nose and bent to get my textbooks.

“Some days, I just wish everyone would disappear,” I said with a frown.

Stephen tweaked a strand of my blonde hair. “Everyone?”

Behind the oversized glasses, a pair of cobalt blue eyes stared back. His shaggy dark hair needed to be cut, but his perfect smile made my heartbeat slug my chest like a boxer pummeling a punching bag.

“Everyone, but you.”

His hand brushed mine as he gave me back my things, a flare of heat shot up my arm. “Do you mean that, Serena?” he whispered.

My gaze flicked to Greg Weathers, who stood propped against his locker with Lindsay Decker pressed against him. Hard to believe he and I dated over the summer. Now he made my life a living hell, all because I wouldn’t do it in his parents’ boat. I was supposed to be popular. But Greg wrecked me. And every day, I had to come to this crap hole called school, only to endure the stupid rumors he spread.

“Serena?” Stephen said, nudging my shoulder with his.

“Yeah, I mean it. I wish you and I were the only people left on earth.”


With a yawn, I rolled out of bed. The sun streamed through my window like a large Broadway spotlight. It warmed my skin, and I smiled. Quick shower. Breakfast. Then off to hell, or school as Mom and Dad like to call it.

Silence stretched throughout the house, and I glanced at my clock. Almost 10:00 pm. Crap. I whipped the door of my room open. The battery must’ve died. But why hadn’t my parents or little brother got me up?

“Mom. Dad?” I hollered, making my way through the house. When I got to the kitchen, they weren’t there. In fact, last night’s dishes were still in the sink. The coffee pot was off, which made no sense since my parents practically needed IVs of caffeine to get around in the mornings.

This had to be some kind of joke. I hurried to my parents’ bedroom. On top of their bed, rumpled, were their clothes. Laid out like they’d disappeared right out of them.

I backed out of the room then ventured into my brother Caleb’s. He wasn’t there. Only a pair of pajamas lay in his spot, still covered beneath the blankets. Panic clutched tight to my throat, constricting it until I couldn’t breathe.

This wasn’t happening. No. Flipping. Way. I’m dreaming, I repeated several times. My legs trembled beneath me as I made my way to the front of the house. I jerked the outside door open and stepped onto the porch.

Dew clung to the grass like tears as I looked around in horror. There were no cars driving in the street. No kids at bus stops. There weren’t even any birds or animals about.

I stepped from the porch, cool cement kissed the bottoms of my feet. Piles of clothes littered two driveways of my neighbors.

“Hello?” I yelled. No one answered.

God, what happened? Maybe Armageddon? Then why am I still alive?

I turned to go back inside, when I heard someone call my name.



He covered the distance between us in several strides, and clutched me to his chest. Gone were his glasses, his feigned nerdiness. In his place stood a tall, confident guy.

“What’s going on?” My voice squeaked.

“You made the wish, Serena. And I granted it.” He pulled back, his eyes held me in place.

“A wi—wish?”

“You said you wished that we were the only people left on earth. So I granted it for you. My love.”

Thanks for dropping by: Make sure to check out some of my fellow YAFF members’ stories too!

Miranda Buchanan

Traci Kenworth

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Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read.  Enjoy!

Photo Credit:  November 1 106 by jdurham Morguefile.com

After the last of the tourists loaded into the covered wagon, I pulled the canopy tight. Sweat beaded on my brow, in the stifling July heat. My heavy dress and bonnet were one of several downsides to working for my parents at the “Oregon Trail Tours.” The hours sucked, the pay wasn’t great, and I had no life outside of helping out. Not that I minded, too, much. I liked the history, but a date every now and then would be nice.

“Everyone on board, Jasmine?” Dad turned in his seat at the front of the wagon.

I counted five heads. “Yeah, we’re all set.”

Dad took hold of the reins, and the horses began to move. The wagon rolled forward, hitting several ruts and jarring the passengers. I groaned.

I cleared my throat, and gave a forced smile. “Hi, my name is Jasmine. Welcome to the Oregon Trail Tours. Today, you’ll get to see what it was like for families to travel west. Along the way, we’ll reenact what might happen on a true wagon train. For instance, how the pioneers passed the time riding in the wagon, and you’ll have a chance to help take care of the horses.”

The blonde guy snorted. “Sounds like we’ll be doing your job for you.”

“Abe, that’s enough,” his mom said.

My face burned. Seriously, there should be an age limit on these tours. Like no morons under the age of twenty. There were two teen guys on this overnight. Of course they wouldn’t appreciate the westward movement.

With my skirt fisted in my hand, I continued. “We’ll take lunch this afternoon by the creek, so you experience what the settlers would’ve eaten. Then we’ll travel to where the teepees are set up on the plains. You’ll be able to unload your bags and get settled in for the overnight.”

“This sounds wonderful,” Abe’s mom said. She gave her husband’s arm a tug, but he was too wrapped up in his Blackberry.

“Sounds lame.” Abe nudged the boy next to him. “What do you say, Alex? Think we’ll get to see some hot prairie girls running around?”

Alex raised his hooded eyes, and grinned. “I don’t know. Depends on if Jasmine here decides to do laps.”

“Boys, enough,” the mom said again.

Would it be too much to ask Dad to hit a giant rut and knock them out?


We stopped a couple of hours later to make lunch, while Dad fed the horses. The scent of beans cooking over a fire and homemade bread made my mouth water.

Can it get any hotter?
My gaze drifted to the creek. Since everyone was preoccupied, I decided to sneak off for a minute. Untying my bonnet, my blonde hair toppled in my face. I swiped it back then made my way to the water. On the shore, I cupped my hand, scooping up cool liquid to my face. 
A loud splash sounded from beside me. My heart jumped. I glowered when I realized Abe had tossed a rock.

“Watch what you’re doing,” I said.

“I am.” Abe’s mouth twitched.

“You look warm, maybe I can help you cool off.” Alex leaned down, flinging water down the front of my dress.

“Ooo, wet t-shirt contest, Little House on the Prairie style!” Abe winked. “C’mon Jasmine, we’re from the east coast. Show us what you western girls are made of.”

I’d show him all right. Maybe if I shoved my size 6 ½ cowgirl boot up is butt, that’d wipe the grin from his face.

“Sorry, I can’t fraternize.” With that, I spun on my heel. Mom and Dad so owed me for this. Because there were like a thousand ways I could strangle the boys with a rattlesnake.

Mom quirked an eyebrow at me, when I offered to help get the food served.

“Why are you all wet?”

“Don’t ask.”


When the teepees came into view, I sighed in relief. I just had to get through a quick tour of the main area and dinner. Then I could ditch Abe and Alex. They’d spent the whole trip making snide comments, while their dad talked on the phone. The mom gave me sympathetic smiles, which didn’t help. And the old guy, who must be grandpa, grated on my last nerve with his “version” of history.

“Make sure the lanterns are on in the exhibits,” Dad said, wiping his forehead with a handkerchief. “I’ll send the visitors through in a few minutes.”

He didn’t have to ask me twice. I raced to the largest of the teepees. My fingers brushed against the switch on the lantern. I gasped, much like I did every time I came in here. The Native American figures stared back at me; a woman posed to grind corn. While a warrior in the back, had war paint streaked across his face. There were native artifacts like blankets, furs, dishes, weapons, and clothing scattered about for people to look at.

But it was the young warrior that always caught my attention. His dark eyes seemed to watch me. Okay, so it was weird to have a crush on an inanimate object. But he was hot for a statue. I gave a small wave then hurried from the teepee.

“You can go in and have a look around now,” I said to the tourists. The three adults headed up first, while Abe and Alex sipped water from canteens.

Abe raised his to me as if it to toast me. I rolled my eyes.

A while later the adults came back to sit around the fire. The boys, however, disappeared. Great! My eyes darted around camp. I needed to find them.

Voices carried from the teepee. With a groan, I moved to the opening to find them on the display side of the fence, messing with the tomahawks and the string of scalps hanging from the warrior’s belt.

“Hey, get out of there!” I grabbed the axe from Alex. “These aren’t toys.”

“It’s not like they need them anymore, they’re dead,” Abe said. He waved the scalps above my head. When I jumped to get them, he shoved me out of the way. “If you want to get tips from us, you better keep your mouth shut.”

He tossed the scalps in the dirt and they walked out, laughing. My eyes narrowed as I retrieved the scalps. I wiped them off as best I could, then hopped into the display.

“Sorry,” I said softly to the statue. I secured his treasures back on his belt then turned to go. Something snagged my skirt. I whipped around to find myself caught up on the figure. Reaching down I pulled the fabric from its hand and gasped. It felt warm. My heart leapt into my throat. For a moment, I thought the warrior nodded.


I awoke the next morning to screams, and leapt from my sleeping bag. Sunlight blinded me, as I hobbled from my teepee.

“My boys are gone!” the mom screeched.

“I’ll look around.” Maybe a coyote ate them. I chuckled at the thought as I made my way to the display tent. The lantern was on, but there were no signs of the boys. Then I caught movement from the corner of my eye. The warrior. He smiled at me. There, hanging from his belt were two new scalps.

For you, Jasmine.
Thanks for coming by. Please be sure to drop by my fellow YAFFers blogs and don’t forget to leave a comment.





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YAFF Muse is back!!! Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read.  Enjoy!

Raygun by wintersixfour

I adjusted my Princess Leia, Battle of Endor costume, and applied a layer of Cherry Kiss lip gloss, before sliding from my rusted pick-up. The summer heat practically fried my skin as I hurried toward Dr. Z’s Sci-Fi Museum.

Yeah, I was the victim of “get a summer job because I’m broke epidemic” otherwise known as, my parents think I need to learn responsibility and they’re not going to keep paying for my gas and insurance problem.

So every morning, I got up before dawn, showered and donned some sci-fi heroine costume, while my friends lay tucked away in bed. They went swimming; I gave talks about the swamp monster. They took bike trips and partied, while I played tour guide.

Totally unfair. Although, there was one perk and he stood six-foot two, with shaggy blonde hair and blue eyes to die for. Muscles, abs, bronze skin. In one word, yummy, that’s what Caleb Zenson was.

I took the museum keys from my purse and unlocked the main entrance. Cool air wrapped around me like a cape. Flipping on the lights, I hurried past the space ship display, complete with working doors and smoke.

Once in the office, I slid my things into a locker then gathered pamphlets to refill the display case. As I turned around, I ran into a solid form. I squealed, dropping the brochures.

“Kayla, hey, I’m sorry,” Caleb said, leaning down to help me pick up the mess. I bent at the same time, whacking my head on his chest. My earring snagged his shirt. I attempted to stand, but realized I was stuck.

My face burned. “Um, I’m caught on your shirt,” I said.

Caleb chuckled. “Here, hold still and let me help you.” His hands brushed my hair from my face and I inhaled the scent of his spicy cologne. My legs wobbled beneath me as I tried to stay balanced. His touch made me imagine lots of rated “R” things.

“Ah, it’s Han and Leia,” Dr. Z said from behind us. “I see you’re both getting into the roles.” He laughed, his cane tapping against the marble tiles.

“We’re kind of attached,” I said.

“I see that. It’s about time Caleb got the courage to ask you out! Cheerio, I say.”

Wait, what?

Caleb went still, and cleared his throat. I wished I could crane my head to see if he was mortified. Or if he was happy. But no, my head was stuck to his Han Solo shirt. Although, there were worse places to be. Like anywhere. Damn, I was the luckiest girl in the universe.

I imagined the school papers I’d write about how I spent my summer vacation. Wrapped in the arms, er…shirt of the king of hotness himself. Inhaling his masculine scent, his heart beating against my face, his…

“There you go, we’re officially unstuck.” Caleb glanced down at me.

“Thanks. Sorry about that.” I backed away then hurried to pick up the brochures.

 “I didn’t mind,” he said. My gaze flashed to his face. Oh my God. His perfect smile was beaming like a spotlight on Broadway. “Actually, I’ve wanted to ask you out all summer.”

And one, two, breathe. Come on girl. Talk. To. Him.


He fidgeted with his plastic laser blaster, strapped at his side. “Yeah.”

I opened my mouth to say more, when Dr. Z burst into the room. “Hurry along; we’ve got a big crowd today. And you both have tours.” He wore a space commander suit, complete with fake jet pack. “Make sure you keep an eye on things. I’ve got a strange feeling.”

Caleb and I exchanged looks, because Dr. Z always had a strange feeling. He believed it was only a matter of time before aliens attacked us. So not only did he horde Sci-Fi memorabilia and gadgets, but he insisted everything was real. The guy was a fruit loop, but hey, he paid me well. And his grandson more than made up for the weird comments.

“Don’t worry Grandpa, Kayla and I will handle things.” He ushered the aged man toward the theatre room, while I finished setting up.

By noon, the museum was packed. I shuffled backward, microphone in hand toward the large glass display case of weapons.

“And if you’ll turn your eyes to our display, you’ll see the raygun that was used in the movie Aliens Amongst Us 3,” I said.

A boy raised his hand in the back. “Do these things actually work?”

I smiled, catching Caleb’s eye with another group ahead of us. He winked and nodded his head yes. Chewing my bottom lip, I turned back to the boy.

“It sure does.”

For several more hours, I led different groups through the museum. I showed them costumes from Sci-Fi sets, weapons, fake space ships, information about alien landings and abductions. I answered questions about how things worked, if I was available after my shift (which I said no, pervy old man anyway), and how Dr. Z obtained the items.

Taking a swig of my ice water, I adjusted my Leia costume and got ready to take my last tour through the museum.

“Hello, and welcome to Dr. Z’s Sci-Fi Museum. I’m Kayla. I’ll be your pilot and guide today. If you have any questions, please feel free to stop me and I’ll do my best to answer it.”

A guy who looked close to my age, grinned. I dreaded what might come out of his mouth as we headed toward the space dome, complete with dark night sky and blinking stars. The familiar scent of “space ship” fuel burning and smoke filtered in the air.

“Kayla.” Dr. Z rushed me, his eyes wide with terror. “They’re here. Get these people on a ship, and grab a weapon.” He raised his cane, and struck the case with weapons in it. Glass sprayed everywhere, and the tourists screamed.

“Dr. Z,” I said, placing a hand on his shoulder. Caleb came running toward us.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“They’re here old boy. Get your group on the ship and grab a gun,” Dr. Z said again.

I opened my mouth to protest, when I heard the loud rumble of something outside. Taking a deep breath, I accepted the raygun Dr. Z handed me and hurried to the entrance. A huge shadow, splayed over the ground, like someone parked a giant semi in front of the sun.

“Oh. My. God.” Dr. Z wasn’t crazy. Overhead, a large spaceship hovered. In the distance, plumes of smoke painted the horizon. We were being invaded.

Caleb grabbed my shoulders, jerking me back as a beam of light pulsed to the ground. Tall, gray colored beings walked straight at us. They raised small gun-like weapons.

“C’mon, get on the ship.” Caleb dragged me behind him toward our ship display, right as a red laser beam burst through the doors.

I glanced at the raygun in my hand, and tapped a switch on the side. Then, feeling all Leia like, I aimed the gun at the aliens and pulled the trigger. The weapon pulsed in my hand, and I watched in surprise as lasers flew from the end of it. One of the aliens fell to the ground. Holy crap!

If I wasn’t scared out of my mind, it would’ve been B.A. The floor beneath our feet vibrated, people screamed as they hurried onto the ship. I eyed our craft. This better work.

When we got aboard, the door behind us lifted and closed. Everyone was belted into seats around a large interior, holding helmets, suits, more weapons, and pull down beds. It was something straight off a set of Star Wars. Caleb clutched me tight, tugging me toward the cockpit.

“Do you know how to fly this thing?” I asked, taking a seat between Caleb and his grandpa. Or maybe I should’ve asked if it could fly. Dear Lord, where was the real Han Solo when you needed him. Hell, I’d take his Wookie at this point!

Dr. Z shot me a smile. “Of course. I knew this day was coming. Caleb and I are pilots.”

“Full throttle,” Caleb said, putting on a headset. “We’ll have to blast the wall or we’re not going to get out of here.”

Dr. Z pulled a handle down; his thumb hovered over a red button. “Hang on everybody.”

With one click, fiery red beams shot from our ship taking out the wall and roof. Caleb tugged the steering column back and we lifted from the ground, then shot forward like a cannon ball.

As we flew, I glanced down to see entire towns burning and the large craft responsible for it. Aliens were real. Tears blurred my vision. Our families were gone. And who knew how long we’d survive.

Caleb wrapped an arm around my shoulders. “Everything will be okay, Kayla. You’ll see.”

We cleared into the upper atmosphere, then darted into space. Stars surrounded us, speeding past like a light show.

“He’s right, you know.” Dr. Z pushed an autopilot button. “We’re going to be fine. Just have to make it to the Alpha Red Six space station for supplies. We can survive out here for years.” He got to his feet. “Now, I need to inform our passengers that all is well. Keep us on course Caleb boy.”

When Dr. Z left, Caleb pushed some buttons then turned to me. “I’m glad you came with us.” His fingers traced my cheek and he moved closer, his lips brushing mine. “I always knew you’d be the one.”

My heart thudded in my ears. “The one?”

“My very own Leia. You kicked some alien butt back there.”

“Well, I didn’t don the costume for no reason.” I laughed in spite of everything. Maybe being stuck on spaceship wouldn’t be so bad after all. 


Thanks for coming by. Please be sure to drop by my fellow YAFFers blogs and don’t forget to leave a comment.

Miranda Buchanan

Rachel Marie Pratt

Traci Kenworth

Vanessa Barger

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Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read.  Enjoy!

Heavy hooves sounded behind me, as I raced through the fog and brambles. Pain seared my muscles, my body tired from running. But I couldn’t stop. With a quick glance over my shoulder, I watched an elongated snout pierce the haze, red eyes glowed. Bony fingers reached for my cloak, but I pushed myself to go faster, dodging between two trees.

Inhuman, that’s what they were. And they were after me. Gasping for air, I hefted myself over the gate. Once on the ground again, I checked my purse to make sure the scroll was still there.

“Stay off the main road, Simone.” Mother had told me. “You must  make sure the king get’s this.” She’d given me the scroll, then sent me out into the foggy woodland. 

For over two weeks, our village had been surrounded by the fogs and what dwelled within. Each night they searched for something, killing villagers like pigs sent to slaughter. Father managed to keep me and my younger brother, Devlin hidden. But we were running out of supplies, and the stench of death overwhelmed Moonridge Hollow.

Every night was like the last. Piercing screams, fires, death—always death.

Leaves crackled beneath my footsteps, as I burst through the forest. I stared at the empty, wooden docks. There was no where to hide here. No trees to camouflage me, no bushes to crawl into. Just me and them.

Boards creaked beneath my feet as I raced for the river. Something jerked my cloak, tugging me to the ground. In an instant, I unsheathed my sword, ready to fight.

“Stay down,” a low voice, whispered in my ear.

I turned to see a pair of golden eyes staring back at me. The man covered me with his cloak, pressing me face first into the wooden planks of the dock. Icy air swept past, and I felt my skin prickle.

Shrieks filled the night, then all went quiet. We remained still for several moments, until at last the man stood and reached down to help me up.

“Thank you,” I said, my hand clenched around my sword. “They’ve been pursuing me for days.”

The man smiled. “And why pray tell are you traveling in the fog? Do you not know the dangers?”

I lowered my weapon, belting it back to my side. “I’m on my way to Goodblin to deliver a scroll to the king. Our village has been attacked.”

“Where do you hail from?” He frowned, jerking his hood down to reveal shoulder length dark hair, and chiseled features.

“Moonridge Hollow.”

“What is your name?”

“Simone Light Walker. Daughter of Mayor Light Walker,” I said.

A look of surprise flashed in his eyes. “I am Darrog.”

Darrog? Why did that name sound familiar?

“Good to meet you,” I said. “Well, I must be on my way. It is only a matter of time before the fog returns.”

“If you’ve no objections, I’d like to see you safely to Goodblin.” Darrog offered. His hand brushed mine as he reached to wipe debris from my cloak.

Chewing my bottom lip, I agreed. Two swords were better than one, and I had no idea what else I might face along the way.


By daylight, we managed to cross the river and reach the outskirts of Goodblin. It was strange, but the fog had dissipated. As if Darrog’s arrival had frightened it off.

The cobbled streets were empty, a heavy coating of dust layered the clay buildings and market stands. My blood hummed a warning in my ears, as my gaze shifted nervously. Where was everyone?

Darrog grabbed my hand, pulling me close as we stepped toward the large stone gates of Goodblin. Heat radiated from the rocks, like invisible flames trying to lick my skin.

But where his body touched mine, I only felt coolness.

As soon as we neared the door, the gates groaned open. “Welcome home, your highness,” one of the cloaked guards said, bowing to Darrog.

I gasped, and turned to stare at my rescuer. “Darrog?”

“Prince Darrog.” He grinned, keeping a tight grip on me.

It was then I noticed the twelve symbols etched in the stones beneath my feet. The twelve destructions. Each representing one of the twelve sons of the God of Destruction, himself.

“You—you’re one of his sons…” I took a step back, but Darrog drew me closer.

“I’m Darrog, Prince of Death. And I’ve been searching for you, Simone.”

I swallowed hard, legs trembling. “For me?”

“You’re to be my mate. It was written long ago. Your parents knew of this, but refused to hand you over.”

“Then it was you destroying my village?” I screeched.

He seemed taken aback. “I was only trying to claim what was rightfully mine. You.”

My heart thudded against my ribs as I remembered the scroll in my purse. With my free hand, I withdrew it. “Mother said I was to give this to the king. I assume she meant your father.”

Darrog smiled and gestured for me to follow him. Our footfalls echoed on the blackened stones. The whole palace looked as if it’d been set on fire, then frozen. Bones dangled from the turrets, while benches made of skeletons and skin adorned either side of the walkway.

My stomach churned as we stepped over the threshold into the castle. Torches glowed along the walls, illuminating gruesome paintings of war, famine, and destruction. At last, we came to a large throne room, where a man garbed in a long black cloak sat on a dais.

“Father, I have returned,” Darrog said. “And I’ve brought Simone Light Walker.”

“Then you’ve chosen to spare her life?” a loud voice echoed in the cavernous room.

“She is the one I sought. If her family has agreed to our union, than I shall call death home and not unleash it upon Moonridge Hollow again.”

“You have my blessing, son.”

“Let us see this scroll.” Darrog glanced at me, his golden eyes glowing eerily.

With shaking hands, I produced it for him. He was beautiful and frightening. Even if my parents disagreed, I knew I’d be his. If only to save my people.

He peeled back the wax seal and smiled. “Her parents have given their blessing.” Darrog dropped the scroll to the floor, then clutched me close to him. “At last, you shall be mine. No more waiting, or hunting to find you.”

He bent down, his lips brushed mine and I saw everything as it was. It was not fog that surrounded me on my journey, but a cloud of bones and dust. The welcoming trumpets of the Prince of Death, guiding his bride home.


Thanks for coming by. Please be sure to drop by my fellow YAFFers blogs and don’t forget to leave a comment. This will be our last Muse until after the holidays! But make sure you check back after the first of the year for more YAFF MUSE!


Rachel Marie Pratt

Miranda Buchanan

Traci Kenworth

Vanessa Barger

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Okay so I figured today I’d tackle the subject of rejection! And for all you singles out there, I’m not talking about dating (LOL—sorry, maybe that can be a future post). This is for you writers.

Over the last couple of months we’ve talked a little bit about it in my crit group. As writers we all know about rejections on some level or another. Whether it’s on query letters or partial/full requests, we’ve all been there.

I like to look at rejections as one step in a long journey. They’re necessary to get us where we’re going. Sometimes we’re sending stuff before it’s ready, so it’s a flag that we need to buckle down harder. If we’re garnering the requests, then getting rejected, it means hey I’m on the right track, but there’s just a little something missing here. And other times, it can mean getting some feedback to help push us in the right direction.

The thing is, without rejection we wouldn’t necessarily be as appreciative of the journey itself. Because let’s face it, the harder we have to work for something, the more it means to us. As writers it’s tough to put ourselves out there, to feel the pain of rejection when someone passes on our work. But if we didn’t take that chance, then we’d never know. It is through the rejection phase that we really learn how to be good writers.

That being said, I don’t know too many of us who really “appreciate” the rejection (LOL). But if you’re wondering what to do with some of your rejection letters, I’ve compiled a list of wonderful uses (this is subject to how many you’ve stockpiled, so I can’t be held accountable if you’re not able to do some of these things—LOL).

10) Rejection letters make great kindling for fires

9) Rejection letters can be used to build a fort for your kids (although it might not be real stable unless you use duct tape wood to help hold it up).

8) Rejection letters make great paper airplanes, however I don’t recommend trying to make them out of the cardboard postcard rejections—they don’t fly as well.

7) Rejection letters are great for dabbing lipstick from your lips

6) Rejection letters also make great scrap paper! Just cut ‘em up and use them to jot down phone messages!

5) Rejection letters can be used in case you run out of toilet paper (although I wouldn’t recommend this too heavily due to paper cuts and all).

4) Rejection letters act as great coasters for your tables and furniture. No more messy glass rings on the wood!

3) Rejection letters also make great wrapping paper. Come on, what kid doesn’t want their birthday present wrapped in a “I’m sorry to say this isn’t right for me” rejection letter…

2) Rejection letters make excellent dart boards. You should try and see if you can land it in your own signature block—loads of fun!

1) And number 1. Use your rejections as keepsakes. No really. That way one day you can look back and say HA—Take that world I MADE it!!!!

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Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read.  Enjoy!

Photo by: phypet

The ground shook as a train zoomed by on the tracks. My hands grew slimy with sweat and I wiped them on my jeans.

Shit! Why did I tell them I’d do it?

“Hey, Bailey,” Carson Lewiston said, coming up beside me.

His smile made my stomach drop. Those trusting mocha colored eyes, shaggy blonde hair. A completely nice guy.

“Are you sure you want to come to Chicago with me?” I asked, my suede boot connecting with a stone.

“Yes.” He laughed, reaching for my hand. “You know how long I’ve waited to go out with you?”

I chewed my lip. They always wanted to date me. And they got hurt. Today, I didn’t want to have another bad thing on my conscience. Not Carson.

“Trust me, I’m not that great of a person,” I said.

From within the shadows, they watched and listened. Waiting for me to hand him over like I had the rest.

“You’re perfect.” Carson’s fingers entwined with mine. “And nice.”

I swallowed the lump in my throat and held tight to him. A homeless man came up to us, holding out a cup.

“Spare some change for the train?” he asked. Coins clinked together, the scent of alcohol clinging to the man like fabric softener sheets.

No one would miss him.

“How about I buy you a ticket.” I dug into my purse for some cash.

Carson caught my arm. “That might not be a good idea.”

“It’ll be fine. He can sit back by us.” I smiled, handing the attendant enough cash for both mine and the homeless man’s ticket. “Two please.”

Once Carson paid we headed down the platform. In one hand, I held tight to him, and with the other, I dragged the homeless man behind.

Carson picked a seat and I slid in next to him, gesturing for the other man to sit in front of us.
Moments later the doors shut and the train slowly crawled forward, picking up speed the further down the track we went.

The tunnel was getting close. I could feel it. The shadows, the dampness—everything cold, dark, and lurking.

Scooting closer to Carson, I touched his cheek, then his lips. “Whatever you do, keep your eyes closed when we go in the tunnel.”

His gaze met mine. “Why?”

“I want to keep you safe.”

“From what?”

I pulled his head toward me, lips parted. My lips captured his, pleading he’d listen. Then he was kissing me back, his hands tangling in my long hair. I slipped my arms around his neck, drawing him closer.

Then came the screams from the seat in front of us. The homeless man hadn’t shut his eyes. I knew he wouldn’t.

Carson shifted, but I held him tight, deepening our kiss. After a moment, the yells stopped and I pulled back, tears spilling from my eyes.

Daylight spilled in the windows, the tunnel nothing but a black dot behind us.

Carson stood and glanced into the seat in front of us. His face drained of color. I didn’t need to look to know what he saw. There would be blood. There always was. Claw marks, missing body, and a pile of shredded clothes.

“You knew this would happen?” he said, voice even.

“It was either him or you,” I whispered. “And I didn’t want them to have you.”


“Beings you don’t want to meet.” My gaze shifted to the windows. I wondered if they’d punish me? My parents didn’t understand my desire to be amongst humans.

“Is that why you invited me along?” His eyes were intense.

“They told me to,” I said. “Thing is, I don’t always listen.”

“So they make you do this? Drag people onto the train?” He touched my face, making me look at him.
I pulled away. “Yes. And I’m not proud of that.”

“Why did you save me?”

“Because I love you.”

“Will you be punished?”

My head drooped on his shoulder. “Yes.”

“Then let me help you bring people for them,” he said in a rush.

“You’d do that for me?”

“Yes. Anything you want.” His lips covered mine.

Yessss…they hissed.

“No.” I backed away. “You’re just like them. I have enough darkness in my life.” My eyes welled up. He was supposed to be different.

Another tunnel loomed ahead. I closed my eyes. And this time he didn’t. Screams of pain echoed in the blackness. But it was better to let him go. To let the shadows have him. Dark thoughts, meant dark deeds, and dark deeds led to bloodshed.

When I got to Chicago, I hurried from the train and headed for the nearest building with lights. Everything would be okay, as long as I stayed out of the shadows.


Thanks for coming by. Please be sure to drop by my fellow YAFFers blogs and don’t forget to leave a comment.

Cambria Dillon

Mindy Buchanan


Vanessa Barger

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Can you get carpal tunnel from checking your email 42,000 times a day? LOL. Okay, so I’m a bit anxious to hear on some of my requests out there. And believe it or not I’m trying to stay busy, working on my current WIP. But dang it if that little Yahoo button isn’t enticing. And the refresh. Right, need to concentrate.

Speaking of said WIP I’ve got a massive and I mean MASSIVE plot twist coming in the next couple of chapters. I’m excited, worried, freaking, happy (did I mention excited?) that it works.

It’s one of those plot twists that I’ve been tossing back and forth for a while because it could tick off some readers. The thing is after lots of debate and back and forth with my sister and one of the gals from my crit group, I knew I had to do it.

 Not only will it create a lot of tension for my MC, but it’ll also explain why some of the characters in my story are acting the way they are. And although it’s going to be a shock, I think it’ll really make people love my MC all the more.

 So yeah, it’s one of the writerly (is that even a word?) decisions I’ve had to make. I’m already almost 1/3 of the way through writing this story and am so excited about it. It’s definitely something different and I’ve had TONS of fun writing it (so far—hehehe).

 So I wonder if anyone else ever frets over plot twists? And how do you handle them?

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