Wednesday, September 22, 2010


YAFF Muse is a weekly blog series featuring some YA Fiction Fanatics members. In this series, we'll post original short stories created from an image meant to inspire our Muse. Hope you enjoy! And don't forget to check out the other YAFFers participating in this series (links below).

Photo Credit: The Room By trubluboy

DAY 25 - 1:00 AM
I still can’t sleep. The doctors prescribed heavy-duty drugs, but it only makes my handwriting shitty. It’s warm and I’ve opened and closed the window five times already. Maybe I should open it again.

DAY 35 – 2:30 AM
Someone followed me home from school today. I don’t know them. I told mom, but she said I must have been imagining things.

DAY 82 – 4:00 AM
No one believes me anymore. They’ve sent me to shrink after shrink and still they say it’s all in my head. But the people, I know there’s someone after me. I can feel them watching, always watching. Oh God, why can’t I sleep?

DAY 120 – 3:00 AM
They’ve pulled me out of school. Good. I’m glad. Yes, I’m glad. There are monsters in school. They lurk in the hallways, in the shadows. Mom is telling me to turn my light out, to go to sleep. But doesn’t she know? I can’t sleep. The shadows will get me if I sleep. I’m keeping my lights on. I don’t care what she says.

DAY 144 – 5:20 AM
I haven’t slept in eight days. Not even an hour. Not even a minute. I used to get at least an hour. But now, nothing. Wait. There’s something in the walls. A scratching. I call to mom but she doesn’t come. I think she’s starving me too. I haven’t been out of the room… there’s a scratching again. I call again, but she still doesn’t come. My hipbones hurt.

DAY 250 – 2:00 AM
My tongue is thick. I can’t talk anymore, who am I? What happened to me? Where did my mom go? I hear footsteps but I can’t remember how to walk. My eyes won’t close. They come in and put drops in them, but I can’t blink.

DAY 300 – 5:30 AM
Sleep comes.

(c) 2010, MB
As we’re gearing up for the creepy fall, horror is on my mind. And usually, I don’t give a reason behind the muse, but this week’s is inspired not only by the picture, but also the most terrifying thing I can imagine – not sleeping. A few years ago I read a book by D.T. Max called The Family That Couldn’t Sleep. It’s about a genetic disease causing a malformed protein or Prion (like Mad Cow) that causes the victim to not sleep for anywhere from seven months to a full year or longer. Things bumping in the night can’t hold a candle to that kind of horror – at least for me.

Don't forget to check out my fellow YAFFer's stories based on the same photo:

R.M. Gilbert
Rebekah Purdy
Traci Kenworth
Vanessa Barger
Jenn Fischetto

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

YAFF MUSE: The Journey

YAFF Muse is a weekly blog series featuring some YA Fiction Fanatics members. In this series, we'll post original short stories created from an image meant to inspire our Muse. Hope you enjoy! And don't forget to check out the other YAFFers participating in this series (links below).

Photo Credit: "Tren" by Phypet
The Journey

The scent of grit and oil permeated the air around us. Our friends and family gathered close, their voices drowned by the sound of squealing brakes and waiting passengers.

“It’s time,” he said, handing me two thick tickets.

“I don’t want to go,” I said. My heart filled with lead and my feet rooted to the ground.

His eyes were tired, but the darkened blue I’d loved since the day we met sparkled through. “We must, my love. But let me tell you something about this journey.” He pulled me to his chest and kissed the top of my head.

“When we laugh, the train will go faster though we wish it wouldn’t. When we cry, it will slow though we wish it speed. We will scale mountains and plummet down the other side. But we will be together.”

“What if it breaks down?” I asked, tears cresting the corners of my eyes.

“Ah, and it might. But what’s a journey without a few breakdowns?”

“I don’t want a journey. I want to just get there and let it be over with.” I held tight to him, knowing I’d do anything to avoid this destination.

He caressed my cheek then drew my chin up to face him. “My love, it’s the journey that’s important. It’s what we will remember, what you will remember.”

“Can’t we just run away?” I asked, burying my face into the crook of his neck.

“All paths would only lead us back. You know that.”

And I did. I knew that no one escaped the train of fate. As I glanced around at the busy station I noticed the many passengers getting ready to take a similar trip.

A tall skinny man held tight to a shorter thick woman. Their train arrived, candy apple red paint glinting in the light of the afternoon. Though they didn’t seem the type, their train exuded lust and thoughts of many passionate nights.

Another couple, old and grizzled walked hand in hand to their train, a battered blackened thing that looked as if it had traveled through a war zone.

To our left stood a gorgeous couple, oozing confidence and money. They held hands, but a chill hung in the air around them. A gasp escaped my lips when their train arrived. It clunked along at a snail’s pace, seizing every few feet then sputtered back to life with a wheeze.

When the train meant for us arrived, my leaden heart lightened. Strong puffs of crisp white steam rose from the stacks and the sleek sides, while sporting a few dents, were clean and shined. It was a Herculean thing made to plow through any obstacle with ease. A thing of true beauty made by our love, and meant to carry us on this journey.

“We cannot delay any longer, my love,” he said.

Grasping his hand, I faced forward with him. As we stepped onto our sturdy train, I gave a last glance to our friends and family waiving their goodbyes. They would not come with us this time, but I knew they’d be there when I returned.

My mind filled with all the lovely things still left to do and see. Excitement burned in my chest, I was finally ready to enjoy the journey.

(c) 2010, MB

Don't forget to check out my fellow YAFFer's stories based on the same photo:
RM Gilbert
Rebekah Purdy
Vanessa Barger
Cambria Dillon

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Reading, writing, and well, not so much arithmetic

 Most of you who read my blog, know that I'm in grad school. It's been about six months since I've had to take a serious (nose to the grindstone) kinda class. One of the things I noticed while doing edits on my finished MS (The Last Elemental) is that there are places, whole chapters really, that my writing gets a little stilted, or formal. Then there are others where my writing is much more, well, me.

I'm assuming this happens because of all the research papers school forces me to write (the nerve!). Unfortunately, I'm not doing a masters in anything would help my writing, like creative writing. Instead my upcoming days will be filled with public health theories and practices. But that kind of research and teen assassins (my WIP, Laced) don't really gel. Or at least not for me. I have a very difficult time separating writing styles.

I know that many writers write fiction or personal stuff and also write for publications.  I wonder how or if that is really any different than what I do with research papers. How do they/you keep it separate? Is there a process for this? Some kind of exercise maybe?  Or should I plow through my WIP and get it done (at least up to the Beta phase) by September 28th?

I'd love to hear some perspectives on this.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

YAFF MUSE: The Place Where Beauty Lies

YAFF Muse is a weekly blog series featuring some YA Fiction Fanatics members. In this series, we'll post original short stories created from an image meant to inspire our Muse. Hope you enjoy! And don't forget to check out the other YAFFers participating in this series (links below).

Photo Credit: playingguitar2 by:trublueboy

The warm scent of Jasmine hung in the dense air the night he came. Grains of sand seemed to move in slow motion around his feet. His dark hair and eyes were black against the light of the moon. A song played in the distance, but the wind’s tongue deceived me and I could not understand.

Iz-za ostrova na strezhen’, Na prostor rechnoy volny, Vyplyvayut raspisnye, osterogrudye chelny.

“I have won my prize, my bride,” he said. His large outstretched hands ripped me from my only home.

Na perednem Sten’ka Razin, Obnyavshis’, sidit s knyazhnoy, Svad’bu novuyu spravlyaet, Sam veselyi I khmel’noy.

The cool water splashed through my sandals as I walked the creaky length of wood onto the ship. Great men covered in thick furs and beards as dark as shadows stood, weapons ready at their hips.

Pozadi ikh slyschen ropot: Nas na babu promenyal! Tol’ko noch’s nej provozilsja, Sam nautro baboy stal…

The rush of water beneath the ship was the only hush against the men’s laughter. The arm of the man who calls me his bride encircled my waist. Jasmine clung to the air around me, but we sailed so far, it's unable to hold on. Spices I do not recognize replaced the scent of home. Yet still the wind sang its song.

Etot ropot I nasmeshki, Slyshet groznyi ataman, I mogucheju rukoju, Obnjal persijanki stan.

He pulled me tight, wrapped me in furs. His breath was hot and stunk of death as he pressed his lips to mine. I squirmed beneath his grip and he pressed down harder.

Brovi Chornye soshlisya, Nadvigaetsya groza. Buynoy krov’yu nalilisya, Atamanovy glaza.

Commotion on the deck drew his attention back to his men. The boat rushed on, cutting a line in the deep cold water blow. I sat huddled in a corner, bow at my back shivering in furs, wishing for the sweet scent of jasmine.

“Nichevo ne pozhaleyu, Bujnu golovu otdam!” – Razdayotsya golos vlastnyi, Po okrestnym bergam.

The men began to argue, their swords drawn, gleamed in the moonlight. Their voices a danger to the wind’s ghostly song. My arms burned when he grabbed me from beneath the warmth of the furs.

“Volga, Volga, mat’ rodnaya, Volga, russkaya reka, Ne vidala ty podarka, Ot donskovo kazka!

He yelled to the men, fist to the sky, me at his side. The freezing air cut at my exposed skin.

Shtoby neb lo razdora, Mezhdu vol’nymi ljud’mi, Volga, Volga, mat’ rodnaja, Na, krasavitsu voz’mi!

My bones rattled beneath my flesh as he shook me. With one hand my feet left the solid ground of the boat and flew into the air, suspended above him. The men cheered but their delight was dampened by the wind’s song.

Moshchnym vzmakhom podnimaet, On krasavitsu knyazhnu, I z abort eyo brosaet V nabezhavshuyu volnu.

Weightless I flew into the depths of the river below. The bite of freezing water cut through my center like a sharpened scimitar. I gasped for air but my lungs burned with the crush of ice. Darkness crept into my vision, though I did not struggle when I smelled the jasmine.

“Ssto zh vy, bratsy, priunyli? Ej, ty, Fil’ka, chert, pljashi! Grjanem pesnyu udaluyu, Na pomin ee dushil..

Blackness retreats as I gasp to a cold slap of water to the face.

“Amira, wake up.” Cinda’s panicked voice reaches my ears and I realize it’s her hands violently shaking me.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m here,” I say opening my eyes to my friend’s concerned look.

“What happened to you? One minute you were ordering a pop at the bar and the next, you’re out like a light.”


“Iz-za ostrova na strezhen’, Na prostor recnoy volny, Vyplyvajut raspisnye, Ostrogrudiye chelny.”

“That song…”

“Yeah, Sebastian Razin is a damn hottie. So hot you passed out?”

“I guess so.” I glance from my friend to the stage where a young guy sits. His lips pressed against the mic, a shadow beneath the hazy green lights of the coffee shop.

“Thank you,” Sebastian says, in a thick Russian accent then steps down from the platform, heading toward the bar. And us.

“Don’t you remember anything? He asked you to have a pop with him after the concert?”

“I remember, now go away,” I say, turning and wiping of the water she drizzled on my face.

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I swear. I’m fine.”

“Okaaaay. But I’ll be right over here, if you need—”

“Hi,” Sebastian says, his black hair partially concealed beneath a ball cap.

“Hi,” I say.

“Did you like my song?”

“It was in Russian, right?”

Thick fingers clasp onto the cap as he lifts it, running his other hand through his hair.

“Um, what is it about?” I ask.

The brown of his eyes deepen. “A sailor who takes a Persian princess as his bride only to have his crew ridicule him for giving up country for the love of a woman. To prove his allegiance to his homeland, he throws her overboard into the River Volga.”

My skin erupts in goose bumps and I blow out a lungful of air. “Tragic.”

“Nyet,” he says grasping my chin between his index and thumb.

“I… um…”

“Not to worry, Amira, my princess. Song is meant to be romance.” He presses his lips against mine. The scent of death finds me once more.

Lyric credit: Stenka Razin - traditional Russian Folk Song written by Dimitri Sadovnikov circa 1883

(c) 2010, MB
I normally don't give a reason behind the inspiration, but this week I think it needs it.

Traditionally, this song is based on a folk hero who falls in love with a Persian princess and marries her. But his crew teases him about having found a woman and then turning into one himself. He says he'd give up everything, including his own head for his homeland and as a testiment to his loyalty, throws his new bride overboard into the River Volga.
For some reason this song popped to mind for me when I saw this picture and I started to consider what the Persian princess might have thought of the whole situation. She wouldn't have spoken Russian, and would likely have been frightened by the all male crew, being a prize and then being thrown into the river. Amira means princess in Persian. So I thought it was a fitting name for her.
Don't forget to check out my fellow YAFFer's stories based on the same photo: