Blogs / Life

Welcome

Welcome!

I write. I drink tea. And I live my life to the fullest, knowing that my abilities come from God.

My name is Kayla Ann, I’m an author who just recently signed with a publishing house to write a non-fiction, scholarly book on human agency in The Hunger Games series. I have loved to write ever since I was a little girl. I wrote my first story, “Kate the Pirate” when I was in second grade. It was then I decided that I would eventually become a published and established author. However, as any writer may know, this is not as easy as it seems. This wonderful world of writing is also complex and sometimes exhausting. So in this blog I will be offering up Writing Tips and my own experiences in the hope of encouraging other authors to continue on creating wondrous worlds of their own.

Feel free to hit me up in the comments with any questions you might have about writing.

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Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Spotlight (Douglas Adams)

Anybody else feel like this is their life-quote as an author?

Douglas Adams was an English author, scriptwriter, essayist, humorist, satirist, and dramatist. He is best known for “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and his work for Doctor Who including the episodes “The Pirate Planet,” “City of Death,” and “Sada” (although the third was never televised). Like many other authors, and like ourselves, Adams faced his own difficulty in writing successfully and yet he never gave in.

While I do believe in the importance in deadlines, it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves that it is not the end of the world if we miss one deadline and it is not a reason to give up or give in to self-doubt. If you miss one deadline make up for it and use it as motivation to push yourself harder!

Another reason why I love this quote is that it reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously. It is okay to laugh some days and remember that we are only human.

Do YOU have any quotes that make you laugh or remind you of your own experiences as a writer?

Happy Writing Everyone!

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Let’s set some Deadlines!

Give yourself Deadlines and here’s the important thing… stick to them!

Deadlines are SO important, if you do not set realistic goals for yourself, you will find yourself falling behind. When setting deadlines, you are motivating yourself to accomplish small and attainable goals. There are two major premises to making deadlines work for you.

1. You need to have someone to keep you accountable.
Deadlines are great and all, but only if you have someone to be accountable to; if you are only accountable to yourself you are more likely to miss a deadline. It’s kind of like working out at the gym, you are more likely to meet your goals if you go with someone. So here’s some options: Find a friend or family member (who you trust) who would enjoy reading your stuff. Not only will it help you keep your deadlines but they might also give you some great feedback! If you don’t want to share your work quite yet, join a writing community where you can ask for encouragement in meeting your set deadlines.

2. You need to set REALISTIC goals.
This one is SO key. Do not set unattainable goals. When you set a goal that is practically impossible, it will be no surprise when you do fail and then you are only discouraged. Be kind to yourself and set realistic goals such as a certain amount of words per day, a certain amount of pages per week (even if it’s one page), or in my case, a chapter a month. By setting realistic deadlines you increase your probability of achieving your goals which will results in more self-esteem and motivation.

And so that you know you are not alone, here is my deadline. I plan on posting at least 5 times a week. I also plan on sharing regular updates about the length of my book and what length I should be at. And I’m asking all of my followers to keep me accountable. If you start to notice the inactivity on my page, keep me accountable and remind me to meet my deadlines!

*If you enjoyed today’s Writing Tip be sure to check out additional tips under the “Writing Tips” category on my home menu!

What deadlines do YOU plan to set this week?

For this week I would really love to finish my rough draft on Peeta’s chapter!

Happy Writing Everyone!

 

 

Redemption, Uncategorized

Redemption Pt. 4

 Redemption Pt. 4

This short story, called “Redemption,” was published in The Dazed Starling in 2015 and incorporates magical realism. All words and ideas are copyrighted by KaylaAnn. I will be sharing it in four consecutive parts. This story may include material not suitable for younger audiences or those easily triggered due to violent, sexual, scary, supernatural, or mature content.

I recommend a re-reading of the story as a whole! Consider the parts in italics as separate. I would GREATLY appreciate your comments on how the story builds and resolves, or any other comments on content and entertainment value.

This is part four – The Ending.

 

 

“Her blood pressure is sky-rocketing!”

“I don’t understand, she’s never had this response.”

“Get an IV in her STAT!”

Why are they worried about me? Don’t they understand He’s dying? Somebody help Him!

 

There’s a faint beeping in my ears. It echoes the beating I feel in my chest and fingertips. My body feels heavy, as though someone filled me with boulders. Even my eyes feel heavy. I try to remember. There had been art class, and then I had been taken to therapy. Then Lilith came to my room. I groan.

“Did you hear that? Maybe she’s waking up!”

But that wasn’t all. Someone else had come. Gabriel. He took me somewhere, then there was the room, and the memory and someone was hurting. Someone was in a tremendous amount of pain, for me. He was trying to take away my pain. I try to open my eyes.

“Galia, sweetheart, can you hear me?”

“Her vital signs are good.”

“What happened?” The angry voice belongs to my mother. I can feel her hand in mine.

“You and your daughter were both aware of the side effects and risks of electroshock therapy. She responded badly to her last session, but I believe we are making progress.”

“Progress!” My mother’s voice leaps at least two octaves higher. “You call being medically dead for a whole minute, process?”

“I will give you some time with your daughter.” I hear the door open and close.

Electroshock Therapy. Of course. I fell apart after that night. Adam Bret got away with it. The cops said I was drunk and his friends claimed it was consensual. Even my own friends deserted me. Who wanted to hang out with the girl who couldn’t cope because some guy didn’t call her the day after? Who wanted to be with the girl who couldn’t handle her liquor? I was asking for it. Everyone knew I was a slut, no one would believe I had been a virgin. They all said it, behind my back and to my face. I heard it so often that I started to believe it. Six months after I took some pills, but I didn’t take enough. My mom found me and brought me here. I was the one who requested shock therapy. I had heard it could take away memories. But it also caused hallucinations, like my dreams of Hell and Heaven. But were they really hallucinations or were they something more?

I remember the writing on the wall. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. My fault, but was it really? I remember the room where Gabriel took me. The room where I found Him. The One who was willing to die so that His blood would cover those screens that were constantly displaying my sins. No. Those were not hallucinations. I was dead for a whole minute, wasn’t I? Maybe it was in that minute I was given a chance to see something. A choice to be more than I am. A second chance. To trust and believe. My mom squeezes my hand. I feel a small drop of water hit my fingers.

My eyes flutter open. “Mom?”

Her watery eyes fly up, “Galia? Baby, you’re awake!”

I clear my throat. Yes I’m finally awake for the first time in what feels like years. I squeeze her hand as tight as I can.

“I’m ready to go home now.”

 

 

Thank you to everyone who has stuck with me and read all four parts! I hope you enjoyed the reading! I would also like to tell everyone that redemption is available for everyone. God loves you, no matter what you’ve been through and no matter what you think you deserve. You are loved by God.

Redemption, Uncategorized

Redemption Pt. 3

Redemption Pt. 3

This short story, called “Redemption,” was published in The Dazed Starling in 2015 and incorporates magical realism. All words and ideas are copyrighted by KaylaAnn. I will be sharing it in four consecutive parts. This story may include material not suitable for younger audiences or those easily triggered due to violent, sexual, scary, supernatural or mature content. This is part three.

 

 

 

“Blood pressure is a little high. Is she still sedated?”

Don’t they hear me screaming?

 

I jolt up into a sitting position. It is night time. A bare branch scratches my foggy window, but I pay it no attention. It is a nightly sonnet that I often fall asleep to. My arms remain strapped to my sides in a tight cocoon of heat. The heat bothers me, I toss and turn uneasily. The feeling of déjà vu’ consumes me, but I push it away, as I wish I could push away the restraints. My skin has a slight tingly feel to it, like a foot that has fallen asleep after being sat on for too long. The door behind me opens and the winged Craftmaster, the Light One, walks in. Her presence is soothing and I feel the heat in my face drain away, leaving me feeling refreshed and cool.

She quickly unbuckles the jacket and slides it over my head. “Are you alright?”

I shake my head, “I don’t know. I think I had a nightmare.”

Her eyes are sad, but she says nothing. Her wings flutter behind her softly, creating an artificial breeze. I can see the powerful muscles beneath the feathers tensing and relaxing with every beat. “Do you know where you are?”

“Of course,” I say.

“Do you know who you are?”

“Galia,” I answer uncertainly.

“I asked who you are, not your name.” She lays a hand on my right shoulder, but I flinch away. She’s seen my records; she should know how I feel about touch. Besides, she is so clean and pure, she shouldn’t be touching me. Can’t she see how filthy I am?

“Come with me,” she holds out her hand.

“Why?”

“You have seen one option, but there is another.”

I stand, reach for her hand, and stop. I can smell the sulfur on my palms; surely she would not want the same smell on her. As if sensing my hesitation, she grabs my hand in her own and pulls me toward the door. She opens it and we walk through.

We step out into a new land. We stand in the middle of a large never-ending meadow. The yellow and green grasses reach up to my waist and wave their long stems in greeting as the breeze rolls over. The grass tickles my bare calves as if to invite me to roll around in their embrace. My fingers lightly caress the tops of the stems as if I were playing the keys of a piano. I have been released from my restraints. The sky above is a blue that I have never before seen. It is brighter than I have ever seen, almost white, and yet deeper than the ocean. It is a blue that has never been discolored by even the thought of pollution. It is daytime, yet I can see thousands of stars above me. They are all the brighter in the pale blue sky. I see the Big Dipper, Orion’s Belt, the Bear, and so many others that I do not know the names of. Somewhere off to the right side of the sky I see a swirling mass of blue, purple, green, and red stars.

I can no longer smell the sharp odor of sulfur. There are perfumes here that I cannot even describe. They float along the air. I smell the sweet scent of baking bread, warm and fresh. It is the smell of baking day back at home. There is the smell of roasting meat with spices that make my mouth water. Beneath that there is the hint of burnt hot dogs. A smile tugs on my lips as it makes me think of Fourth of July and the time my dad forgot the meat on the grill. The syrupy scent of crushed grapes makes me close my eyes in delight. Although I see no sun in the sky, my skin tingles in the warmth of the light. The heat here is comforting and in no way oppressive. I feel as though I can stay in this moment forever. I stretch my bare feet. My toes span and pull up the soft cool dirt. I smell it then, the earthy aroma that brings me back to childhood that reminds me of digging up worms with my friends.

When my eyes finally reopen, I do not know how long I have been here. The Light One still stands beside me. Her face is uplifted, and light shines on it, blurring the facial details. Or does the light come from within her?

“Who are you?” I ask out of curiosity.

She turns toward me, “You may call be Gabriel.”

“Gabriel?” The name stirs a memory in my mind. “How do I know that name?”

“I appear in various forms,” Gabriel’s hair shortens and her stance grows. Suddenly her figure is more male than female and although his face still shines blurring specific details, I can tell he is a man. When he speaks, it is with a deep base. “Come with me.”

He walks across the meadow, making a temporary path in his wake that I follow with ease. Behind us the grass springs back into place as though we were never here. We walk for several minutes though I never grow tired or weary. I seem to have an abundant source of energy, as the soles of my bare feet dig into the soft warm earth with every step. We make our way over a small hill and finding ourselves on the other side, my mouth gapes open in surprise. Blocking the path in front of me in a steadily flowing stream that stretches to the east and the west as far as my eyes can see. The water is as clear as diamonds that sparkle and shine in the light. I can see the river bed nearly ten feet deep. The mud is covered with smooth rocks and moon-colored pebbles. There is an overwhelming urge to lie down beside the river. I glance at Gabriel to ask him for permission, and see that he has already sat down upon one of the large rocks by the river.

Without thinking I strip off the coarse standard-issued dressing gown, standing naked in the field. I run and jump into the river, completely submerging my brown body beneath the water. I open my eyes and see a new world. There are bright green plants growing down here and schools of rainbow-colored fish. The water wraps my body in a cool and refreshing blanket that holds me up in its gentle arms. To my surprise, I do not feel the need to breathe. I contemplate never resurfacing. For minutes I play tag with the guppies and collect the smoothest of pebbles in my fingers. There are oysters down here, opening their pink mouths, offering me their jewels. Above me I see Gabriel’s shadow and know he is waiting.

I surface to the warm meadow, and feel no regret. I walk out, my back straight and strong, before lying down on the soft grass letting the sun bake-dry my tanned skin that has long since missed the light. I should feel embarrassment for my bare body, but I feel none. After all there is no one here to see. Gabriel is neither man nor woman to judge my appearance, he is beyond that. Besides that, he is not even looking in my direction. Lazily I gaze at my surroundings. In the far distance I see a city of glass with tall skyscrapers and spirals that tower into the sky. The light is stronger there, almost as if that is where it originates from. I strain my eyes. Are those gates I see? Constructed of golden bars and decorated with pearls the size of beach balls?

“What is that place?” I finally ask.

“Paradise,” he says simply.

I look around. “Isn’t this paradise?”

He smiles gently at the horizon, “We are still on the outskirts.”

“Can we go there?”

Gabriel looks at me, “We have to go somewhere else first.”

Curious I stand and dress.

There is a small wooden building a few feet ahead of us. It has come from nowhere and yet I do not question it. Gabriel opens the door and waits for me to enter. I look into the frame, unable to see anything through the darkness. I look at Gabriel, thinking to ask him to go first, although I do not want to seem like a coward.

“Do not be afraid.”

I swallow down the egg in my throat and nod, although I wish we could go back to the river. I trust him. Holding this trust in my heart, I walk into a large white room. The room itself is probably fifty feet by fifty feet. Each of the four walls is twenty feet high with a vaulted ceiling. The room is light and airy despite the fact that there are no windows. Strangely enough, there are long white curtains at each corner that could shield the walls from view. Suddenly, the walls turn on. Or at least that is how it appears. The walls are covered with screens. Most of the screens take up a fourth or even half of the walls. One wall remains mysteriously blank. I watch in morbid fascination as I realize who stars in each image.

Me.

There I am as a child stealing my friend’s toy. A small infraction. On another screen, I’m in middle school, cheating on that one Spanish test and then lying about it when I was caught. I can see my brother and I fighting, screaming horrible things at one another. Our parents had found my stash of weed. I blamed him and he took the fall because he wanted to help me without getting me in trouble. I watch the screen, and as if someone knew, the sound blared on.

“I’m your big brother, let me help you. You know this stuff will get you into trouble.”

I watch the screen in dismay, watching the scene unfold. I shook his hand off my arm, “Screw off, Jared! I know what I’m doing. Just because you’re a goody-too-shoes with no friends except your stupid books. You don’t know anything about the real world.”

Jared set his jaw, “If I find any again, I’ll tell mom and dad you’re a junkie.”

“Fine, you stupid tattle-tale. I won’t do it again, okay?”

Jared left the room, but the me on screen didn’t. I watch as she walks to the drawer and pulls out the small zip-lock baggie. I turn away from that screen.

I see all those instances when I disobeyed my parents, smoking on the roof or sneaking out the window in the short skirt my dad thought I threw away. Again and again, I see myself reflected in the images: disobeying, lying, stealing, lusting, and acting out. There is the party where I drank myself into a stupor and woke up on the bathroom floor with vomit on my face. All my so-called friends had done was to turn me over to make sure I didn’t drown in my own spit before leaving me to return to the party. I remember I had to walk home that night, and had been violently ill for weeks after. It didn’t stop me though. As soon as I was better, I was back at the next hang-out.

Suddenly, I am glad that Gabriel waited outside. I do not want him to see this, any of this. These are the moments in my life that I am embarrassed of, although there is a worse memory that has not appeared. A memory that I do not want to relive. As if sensing my thoughts, the wall with the one large empty screen lights up. Though the videos continue on the other screens, their sounds have been muted. All attention is focused on this one wall in front of me.

There it is, that night I have tried so hard to forget. I watch myself on the screen. The music blares out of speakers I do not see. I hold my hands to my ears, but I still hear it. I’ll never forget that song. Cursing and obscene suggestions shriek along with the unoriginal tune. On the screen is the image of me dancing up on one of the tables with a red plastic cup in one hand and frizzy crimped brown hair falling in my red-rimmed eyes. I can see him in the background, the monster from my nightmare, Adam Bret. His eyes follow the dancing girl that I used to be. I want to scream at the projection. I want to grab myself and shake her until she realizes what she is doing. I slam my fist into the wall, hoping to shatter the screen. There is not so much as a crack. The video continues to play. I fall to my knees; helpless to stop what I know is coming. I watch powerlessly as Adam approaches me in the screen, gently taking my hand is his and motioning his head toward the stairs. To my everlasting shame, I followed him, smiling at the attention.

Somehow I fall into the memory. I remember it. I can smell it. I can feel it!

My skin was sticky with sweat and spilled beer. My hair smelled like burnt hair spray and my eyelashes stuck together with every bat. But Adam Bret didn’t seem to notice these imperfections. He was smiling at me like I was the only girl on this planet, and he was a senior! I was just a sophomore. I saw the other girls’ looks as I followed him up the stairs. I told myself they were just jealous. His sweaty palm grasped mine, guiding me up the stairs and down the hall. I remember wondering how he knew where to go.

We enter a room. His room. He turns on a CD and puts his hands around my waist. We’re dancing and it’s Heaven. He’s whispering things in my ears. Things I don’t understand because all I can hear is a loud buzz in my brain. Then his hands are no longer on my waist, but at my zipper. Suddenly he’s pushing me down, and he’s holding me down, and I’m saying-

“No! Get off!”

But he’s not listening and all I can smell is his cologne.

 

My head jerks down. No. I am not there, I am not there! The screen plays on, but I am not there. I had fallen into the memory of that night, that horrible night. I walked home alone. No one believed me. Not even my friends. I was just some girl who regretted it afterward so I cried “wolf”.

I look away from all the screens; I do not want to see anymore. Surrounded by all my faults, I feel insignificantly small. Lilith was right. If anyone belongs in Hell, it is me. Not for my sin, but for my stupidity. Isn’t that some kind of sin? I curl into a ball, willing myself to disappear. I know that any minute now a crack will open up below me and swallow me whole. I will plummet back into the burning Hell. Maybe I will spend an eternity with the others crying out Mea Culpa, Meal Culpa! A wail escapes my lips like a moan.

Yet there is no crack that swallows me up.

Someone lays a hand on my shoulder; I assume it is Gabriel, having heard my cries. I jerk my shoulder out of his grasp

“Leave me alone, Gabriel. I don’t want you to see this.”

“You are never alone,” a new voice says. The voice wraps me in a blanket of warmth and is as smooth as honey.

I look up into the face of a man. He is ordinary, ordinary stature, brown skin, brown hair, hazel eyes, and yet, he is extraordinary in every single way. His very face seems to shine with a light that comes from within. His eyes are bright with kindness that I have never encountered before. Yet deep within the same eyes, I can see sorrow and grief and pain, deeper than all the pain combined at the asylum. He seems to understand the agony I feel without saying a word. His cheeks are dimpled with laugh lines that mostly hide the sorrow lines under his eyes. He radiates love and safety.

And purity.

I hide my face in my knees. “Please, you shouldn’t be next to me.” Can’t he see how filthy I am? My sins are literally on display for him to see. It’s then that I notice now the sound of the TVs is gone, as though the speakers were suddenly disconnected.

He kneels beside me, lifting my face to his. Silently, He lifts me to my feet. He is gentle, but insistent. My hands in His, I can feel pure strength coursing through His arms. Yet, there is something odd about His hands, some strange feeling in their grasp. Once steadily on my feet, He releases my hands and walks over to the corners of the room. One by one He reaches up to grab hold of the curtains and I realize what felt different about His hands. In the middle of each of His palms are identical two inch holes. I gape in astonishment as He pulls the white curtains over the screens on the walls. He does this to each wall, until all the curtains are closed. Yet still I can see the screens. Though the images are blurred, they are still there.

I bury my face in my hands, tears springing from my eyes. Curtains are not enough to hide my faults. My hands are pulled away from my face by the man with the kind eyes. He motions to the curtains as if to say watch.

I watch as the top of the curtains darken and stain with some dark red liquid. Then the coppery smell hits me and lingers on my tongue. I realize it is blood. Streams of blood turn into rivers that turn into torrents coursing down the white sheets. The bright color bleeds down until the entire curtain is covered in a red hue. I can no longer see the screens even if I tried. In amazement I turn to look at the Man. I gasp aloud. The holes in His hands look fresh as though they had just happened. Blood pours over His wrists and fingers, pooling on the floor, joining blood from His side and feet. The pain in His face is unbearable and only rivaled by the love in His eyes. I am unable to look away.

“You are never alone.” He smiles, “I love you.”

He falls to his knees with that same smile on His face as the blood pools around him. I splash in the puddle to reach him. “Somebody help him!”

 

 

Be sure to stop by my page tomorrow for Part Four the Conclusion of Redemption.

Redemption

Redemption Pt. 2

Redemption Pt. 2

This short story, called “Redemption,” was published in The Dazed Starling in 2015 and incorporates magical realism. All words and ideas are copyrighted by KaylaAnn. I will be sharing it in four consecutive parts. This story may include material not suitable for younger audiences or those easily triggered due to violent, sexual, scary, supernatural or mature content. This is Part Two.

 

 

“Strap her down, I said. It’s time to start the procedure.”

Then they do.

 

It is night time. I don’t really remember how I got here. Last thing I remember is the room with the table and wires and the blank place in my mind that is like Heaven. Oh well.

A bare branch scratches my foggy window, but I pay it no attention. It is a nightly sonnet that I often fall asleep to. My arms remain strapped to my sides in a tight cocoon of heat. I wrap myself in endless hugs, a constant flow of unending love, yet still, I feel cold. Softly I sing to myself, songs that fill my mind with images of playgrounds and jump ropes and of white bows tied affectionately into my dark braided hair.

Knock, knock, knock!

I crane my neck, turning it around to look at the door behind my head. “Who’s there?”

No answer. Perhaps it was only the branch, changing its all-too-familiar tune.

Candy apples on a stick,” I sing, “make my tummy go 246.”

What is 246 anyway? I have never understood the saying, but I continue anyway. “Not because I’m dirty –”

But I am, aren’t I?

Knock, knock, knock!

I twist my neck, “Go away. Let me finish my rhyme.”

Knock, knock, knock!

My lips turn down and I huff irritability. Using my feet to propel my shoulders forward, I swing my body into a sitting position and then stand. I wobble to the door on sleepy feet. I reach the door, but my hands cannot grasp the knob. A bubble of laughter boils up my throat as I imagine the door knob frowning in disapproval at my trapped arms. The knocker refuses to come in, but I cannot go out. I turn around to go back to my bed.

The Dark One stands in my way. I don’t know how she got in here. There is no other door besides the locked one behind me. Beside her on the wall stands a mirror that I have never seen before. I look away before my reflection can catch my eye; she often stares back at me, but only in confusion. Her eyes always ask the same question: “Who are you?”

“What are you doing here?” I ask her, not sure if I am addressing the Dark One or my reflection.

“You see much, but not enough,” her rough voice announces. The Dark One and my reflection speak with one voice. The black-eyed Craftmaster walks around me, until she is behind me. “I will show you your fate.”

Her hands grasp my left shoulder, shoving me toward the mirror. Without meaning to, my eyes glance up and catch their counterparts in the reflection. Wide, scared, brown eyes like melted chocolate chips stare back at me. The Craftmaster in the mirror is even stranger than the one that stands in my room. Her pitch black eyes are set deep in a bluish-white and sickly face. Her coal black hair is shorn at shoulder-length with uneven ends. Her long finger nails curl into claws and a long black tail with a barbed end wiggles around her feet like a cat’s.

“Walk forward,” she commands.

I do not want to. What will I see? Yet she leaves me no choice and forces me toward the mirror. My reflection reaches out whether to push me away or to pull me in, I don’t know. I am not surprised when the glass bends around my body, allowing me passage, not to the other side of my room, but to another place entirely.

I walk into what looks like a hospital waiting room, yet it is at least the size of a football field. The cold white speckled tile beneath my feet is cracked and dying weeds push through. Spots of dirt and blood splatter the floor and walls. The chairs are wooden stools with splinters that stick out like thorns and cause their occupants to wince in pain with every movement. The occupants themselves are a mess. Nearly all of the stools are filled and even more sit on the floor or lean against walls. They sit or stand without saying a word, although most emanate moans, sobs, or even the occasional scream. While some are bloodied, others are clean and seemingly unharmed. These are the ones who sit on the floor, rocking back and forth, back and forth, crying softly into their knees.

“What is this place?” I ask. “Who are you?”

“My name is Lilith. Welcome to Perdition.” She smiles gleefully at the scene around her.

Without meaning to, I find myself walking through the crowd, taking closer looks and scrutinizing the individuals. A thin woman with skin pulled tightly across her cheek bones repeatedly stabs the crook of her arm with an empty needle. Can’t she see that there is nothing to shove in her veins? A man sits against the wall with a dark grey cloud surrounding his body from the torso up. There is no way to make out any distinctive features except for the glow that emanates from the middle the fog. Chapped and dry lips wrap themselves around several lit cigarettes. How can he even breathe? Next to him, an old woman shoots dirty looks. She is seemingly normal, apart from the empty cavity in her chest where her heart should have been. Man, woman, woman, man, again and again, these ghost-like human beings pass before my eyes. They begin to meld into one another, yet even as the individuals fade, a thought stands out.

“Where are the children?” I ask.

Lilith hisses, “No child will ever end up here.”

“Why not?”

She huffs irritably,” Curiosity is a sin, or do you not know that?”

On we walk through the broken and haunting crowd. I no longer look, there is no point. We are reaching the end of the room. Sticking out of the wall is a small reception area. There are no flower plaited pens, no sign-in sheets, not even an elderly receptionist in a floral shirt. A short man with red skin, black eyes, and three horns sits naked behind the desk. His body is covered in a layer of fur, successfully clothing him. Still, my eyes cannot linger on him for long. I sneak another peak and his eyes snare mine. They are filled with pride, wrath, envy, greed, and other emotions I cannot describe. He releases me to glance approvingly at Lilith. She does not return the glance, only continues haughtily on, pushing on my left shoulder through an open door and into a long hall. Behind me I hear the man-demon call out, “Now serving number 106,534,231,001.” There is the slamming of a door that reverberates in my mind.

 

“On my count. One, two, three.”

A buzz of electricity echoes in my ears.

 

The hallway stretches out before me, growing steadily colder. Ice freezes over the dirt ground and creeps along the corridor walls. I struggle not to slip and fall.

There are several doors every few feet. Different sounds come from one after the other. There is the sound of wild animals tearing each other apart behind a prison cell door. From another, comes the sound of endless scream after scream. One of the doors remains open and glancing inside I see what appears to be an never-ending family reunion, the family sitting down at dinner, arguing and yelling. When they reach for the food, their hands pass through. When they reach for their drinks, the liquids vaporize into mist. It is the last room on the right however, that causes me to stop completely in my tracks.

The door opens up to what looks like a hospital sanctuary. In the front of a room lies a large cross which has fallen to the floor. The stain glass windows are shattered in several places. The dull rainbow-colored glass has been grounded into the carpet that is torn up in sections. There are no pews, only boards which to kneel upon. Nails stick out along the board, piercing the knees of several occupants who kneel before the fallen cross with blood trickling onto the floor. Tears of blood stream down their cheeks as they moan and gnash their teeth together; spit flying from their mouths. Letters on the top of the front wall, written in a liquid looking suspiciously like blood, reads “Mea Culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.” Immediately I understand: My fault, my fault, my most grievous fault.

“What have they done?”

“There is such a thing as the Unforgivable Sin,” she says cheerfully. “Move along.”

I don’t want to. I dig my feet it, knowing there are worse horrors ahead of me. “No, I want to go back.”

“There is no going back. This is where you belong.”

I can feel the blood drain from my face, “N-no. I can’t belong here.”

“Of course you do.” She grabs my arm, her nails digging into the soft skin. She drags me down the hall, the ice melting and dripping down the walls as we delve deeper into a level of heat that causes all of my pores to open and gush out their tears. I struggle against her, digging my feet into the hard earth that yields no help. “Let me go! I don’t belong here!”

Lilith stops, “Who are you to say that you do not belong? Do you know who you are? What you deserve?”

My eyes are wide with fear. “I don’t know, but not this.”

Lilith’s face twists into that of a man’s, or I suppose I should say, a boy’s. He was just about to turn eighteen when I had the misfortune of coming across his path two years ago. His dark green eyes are filled with greed and desire. He grabs my wrists, pushing me up against the hallway wall. “You know you deserve this Galia. You brought this upon yourself.”

But I am no longer thinking of where I am, but of that night. My fists pound against his chest, “No, no, no!”

Lilith is back and pushes me through the door at the end of the hall. The smell is sharp and overwhelming. Clouds of it fill my nostrils and lungs. I start to cough and squint my stinging eyes shut, trying to block the flow of tears. The heat is intense, and I scream, feeling the blisters popping out all over my skin. Electricity seems to race through my veins, zapping each nerve that it hits. With great effort, I force my burned eyelids open. The room is a cavern and the cavern is on fire. I crouch at the edge of the lip of the cave. Below me lies a pit that has no bottom and is consumed by fire and smoke and darkness. Beside me Lilith bows with her face low to the floor. Before me, out of the pit rises a shadow the size of giant.

The scream tears my throat and blood splatters my lips.

And finally, I understand. I am in Hell.

 

 

 

Be sure to stop by my page tomorrow for Redemption Pt. 3!

 

Redemption

Redemption Pt. 1

Redemption Pt. 1

This short story, called “Redemption,” was published in The Dazed Starling in 2015 and incorporates magical realism. All words and ideas are copyrighted by KaylaAnn. I will be sharing it in four consecutive parts. This story may include material not suitable for younger audiences or those easily triggered due to violent, sexual, scary, supernatural or mature content. This is Part One.

 

 

“Strap her to the table.”

 

The blank canvas stares.

Why is it looking at me? It is waiting. Waiting to become something worth looking at. Who am I to decide what it ought to look like? Who am I to give it life? I do not even know what my life looks like.

Still, I pick up the brush and dip it in the water creating ripples in the paint-splattered plastic cup. Lumpy globs of paint rest idly on a sheet of tinfoil as if mocking me. They know they will not go to work any time soon. The Craftmasters, the name I give to describe the teachers in charge of Art class, are careful with the supplies that they provide us with. Nothing too heavy and nothing too sharp. They walk back and forth among the painters and me. They are here to help and provide encouragement, supposedly. Yet I feel their eyes watching us, always watching me. We do nothing worth watching. As if we would run anywhere in our worn down house slippers. Even if I were to run, where would I go? I was already running and this is where I landed.

I remember my very first day here with absolute clarity even though I was half asleep, standing on wobbling feet, supported on each side by women in white coats. My mother stood only a few feet behind me, but she was crying. It’s for your own good, she said. They can fix you, she said. I’ll come visit you, she promised. But I didn’t want to see her. I hid beneath my bed every time she came. I didn’t want her to see me, not like this. I had brought this upon myself, I accepted that. I couldn’t weigh her down with my burdens, with my mistakes. I had always been trouble, long before that night that changed everything.

The air vent kicks on in full force, and I shiver in the thin dressing gown and fluffy robe. I clutch the robe to my chin, wishing for something to tie it shut with, but that wouldn’t do. What if I decided to hang myself with the sash? I look at the girl beside me and try to feel grateful. At least my clothes fit my standard frame. The girl next to me is a tiny specimen of a creature with a dress that droops over her shoulder and covers her feet, dragging on the ground. I gawk at her canvas. It is filled with beautiful sunflower bushes and translucent creatures that flutter from petal to petal. Yet even as she paints in the wings, her face scrunches together and her eyes narrow. The end of her brush scratches across the canvas, tearing the thick paper. Murdered butterflies plummet to the floor. The Craftmasters seemingly appear out of thin air, grabbing the girl’s flailing arms. They quiet her down and replace her damaged canvas with a blank one. Almost immediately she begins to paint a bright yellow petal, as if she had never stopped.

The Craftmaster with the dark skin and light eyes turns toward me with a smile. Her large white wings flutter behind her, knocking over an empty canvas. No one else flinches at the sound. I wonder if they do not hear it. This happens to me a lot. I see things that others do not. Ever since the beginning of my treatment I have noticed these abnormal, physical aspects of my art teachers. The first Craftmaster, the one I refer to in my mind as the Light One has wings. I mean, honest to God, look at those wings. Day by day they change shape and color. Today she has feathers like an eagle. Yesterday, they were translucent like a fairies’. The doctors say hallucinations are natural, but I’ve had hallucinations before, and these seem so much more real.

The second Craftmaster, having subdued my partner turns to look in my direction. Her eyes, pitch black, do not settle on anyone, rather they skim over us, hungrily taking us in. I tremble. That particular Craftmaster gives me the chills. Naturally to me, she is the Dark One. Once I had even seen what looked like a tail slither out of her white lab coat. The Guards did not believe me, of course. Ever since my accusations, the black-eyed Dark One seems to watch me carefully. The two continue their walk around the room.

I catch a scent of something strong and harsh. My nose twitches in discomfort as my eyes water. For a moment, I think it is him, his cologne that once clogged the words in my throat, but it is not possible. There are only female workers here and only female patients, all us of underage. I am among the oldest, nearly seventeen.

I looked back at the canvas. It is still blank and glaring at me now. Practically yelling at me.

“Shut up,” I hiss.

“The best way to create is to simply start.” The white-winged Craftmaster, the Light One, hovers about my right shoulder, motioning toward the paints with her hand.

I look up at her. My tongue is thick in my mouth, it is too heavy and I cannot lift it. Her green eyes are so kind and compassionate, I know she honestly cares. For a moment I consider lifting the brush and dragging it across the canvas, just to please her. I look at the brush; it is already in my brown hand, although I do not remember picking it up. Before I can paint however, the Light One is gone. I feel a keen knife of disappointment stab through my chest. I have disappointed her, I know it.

“We’re wasting these materials on you.” The Dark One clutches my left shoulder with her nails. I try to jerk away, but her grip is strong. “You’ll never make anything worthwhile anyway.”

She grins a false yellow-toothed smile and to a passer-byes’ eyes, perhaps she looks helpful. I know better. I am filled with hatred for this place, for the one who landed me here, for the paint brush, for the greedy canvas, and especially for this particular Craftmaster. Before I know what I am doing, my canvas is on the ground, with red paint dripping down the white backdrop and my brush is clattering across the floor. I hear cursing, and recognize my own voice. My hands are being pulled to my sides and a jacket forces itself around my body. It’s suffocating me.

Art class is over.

They drag me down the hall toward a room I am all too familiar with.

 

 

 

 

Wanna know what happens next? Be sure to stop by my blog tomorrow around 9amPST for part 2!

I hit 100 blog posts today!

Blogs / Life, Redemption (2015)

Something NEW For this Blog: Introducing Short Stories

Hello everyone!

For the most part my blog has focused on Writing Tips, some poetry, Blogmas, and my reading list. However, I am about to add something new to my blog and I hope you enjoy it!

Image result for gif something new
I somewhat apologize for the High School Musical reference but I honestly couldn’t help myself.

In approximately 12 hours (at 9amPST on January 9th), I will be posting the first part of a four-part short story tilted Redemption that I published in 2015. I will then post the subsequent parts in the following days.

These words first met print in The Dazed Starling and follow the complex life of Galia, a young resident of an insane asylum. This fictional piece is one of my first published pieces and as such, is close to my heart. I really hope that each of you will enjoy reading it and more importantly, that you will let me know your opinions in the comments.

Dazed Starling

I hope to hear from you then!

Happy Writing and Reading Everyone!

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Manage your Expectations

Did you know that recently it has been announced that what kills marriages faster than anything else is unmet expectations?

This blog is not about marriages, however, I think this applies directly to our writing. With the New Year recently upon us, how many of you have made resolutions? How many of us had made resolutions to finish that book? To publish that book? To turn that book into a movie and become insanely famous? (No one, just me?) Anyhoo . . .

The point is, in our writing we must manage our expectations. 

Writing is hard and making a break through in the industry is even harder, some might say that it is nearly impossible. So I am encouraging you to “make resolutions” and to set goals for your writing, but in doing so, make them realistic!

  • Set yourself real goals that you truly can accomplish!
    • Here are some examples:
      • Write Every Day (even if it’s just for 5 minutes)
      • Try to hit a word count every day (even if it’s 20 words).
      • Try to finish as much as that book as possible (even if it’s not the whole thing.)
      • Send out queries to multiple publication houses (but don’t stop writing, waiting to hear back)
  • Don’t give yourself unrealistic expectations.
    • Here are some examples:
      • Starting and Finishing that new idea for a book and having it picked up within the year (yes it can happen, but it doesn’t often)
      • Becoming a millionaire with your first book (Suzanne Collins wrote amazing books for YEARS and was not known until her latest series).

So this year, be kind to yourself and be honest with your writing. Expect that some days will be more productive than others and set realistic expectations.

Happy Writing Everyone!

***If you enjoyed today’s tip, be sure to check out more under the “Writing Tip” tab on my main menu. Have any questions about writing? Feel free to ask in the comment section!

 

Derek Harvey has a great article expectations in marriage if any of you are interested in reading the article.

Writing Tips

Blogging Tip: Plan Ahead

Today’s writing tip is a little different as I am directing it solely to bloggers and blogging.

One of the biggest obstacles to blogging (I think) is consistently pushing through posts on a regular basis that contain great content. What I mean by this: it is hard to post every day, or even every other day, and on top of that, it is harder to post great blogs every time.

Let’s be honest, some days we just don’t feel very creative. We’re tired either physically or mentally or both and we just don’t have anything to say. We sit down at this blank screen and think, “wow I literally have nothing to say.”

Or worse, you sit down and write something up but then that evil villain known as Self-Doubt crawls into your ear and commands that you erase the entire post because he doesn’t think its good.

First off, tell Self-Doubt to take a hike. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life! And so what if you post one blog that isn’t up to your regular standards? Be honest about it at the end of your post and maybe ask for feedback? Ask your followers to help you out, there’s nothing wrong with being human!

Yet, there will be days when you simply cannot write, you can’t think, and you definitely can’t create a blog post. That will happen, so prepare for it and plan ahead!

Part of blogging is spontaneous creativity, the other part is planned posts.

You heard me, Planned Posts.

When you have great days where creativity is flowing, don’t stop after one post and don’t post multiple times a day. Instead keep creating and schedule them for in advance. For instance, this is the third tip I have come up with today on November 12th. 

Write in advance on your good days so that you don’t need to worry on your bad days.

*If you enjoyed today’s Writing Tip be sure to check out additional tips under the “Writing Tips” category on my home menu!

Happy Writing & Blogging Everyone!

The Flexibility of Fairy Tales

The Frog King, or Iron Heinrich

. . . and the very little, very violent princess.

I have finally found the time to start adding blog posts to the “My Bookshelf” section of my menu. I thought, what could be better than to start with Fairy Tales? Here we go!

Summary:

The Frog King, or Iron Heinrich, also known to some as The Frog Prince, was written by the Grimm brothers and is traditionally the first story published in their collection. When I think of fairy tales, I don’t automatically jump to this story. In fact, it often slips from my mind when thinking of Grimm’s collection of tales. However, if the brothers saw fit to begin their collection with it, I suppose I should also begin my analysis of their fairy tales with this story.

Here is a brief summary for those of you who have not read it:

Once upon a time, a young princess of ridiculous beauty played with her golden ball next to a pond. She accidentally lost her ball in the pond and apparently could not swim. Her tears were noticed by a frog who rescued her ball from the pond and agreed to return it to the young princess if she agreed to let him live with her in the palace, to eat from her plate, to sip from her cup, and to sleep in her bed. Of course, the young girl simply wanted her ball back and agreed, but as soon as she got her ball she left without the frog.

Image result for the frog king or iron heinrich

That night while the young princess and her father, the king, sat at dinner, the frog knocked (not sure how) on the castle’s doors and called out to the princess reminding her of her promise. Although she did not want to, the king ordered her to fulfill her promise and to not “scorn someone who helped you when you were in trouble.” Unhappily, the princess lets him in, lets him eat from her plate and drink from her cup.

Image result for the frog king or iron heinrich

After dinner, she carries the frog to her room but sets him on the floor instead of her bed. When the frog reminds her of her promise and threatens to call the king, the princess picks up the frog and violently hurls him across the room where he thuds against the wall and then transforms into a handsome prince.

Needless to say after this act of violence, the prince and the princess marry and live happily ever after.

Now, who is Heinrich you might ask? The name from the title?

Not the Frog Prince. He is never named. Instead, Heinrich is the prince’s faithful coachman who arrives the following morning to celebrate his prince’s freedom. Heinrich also wears three wooden hoops around his chest to keep his heart from exploding with sorrow. As Heinrich drives the prince and the princess to their happily ever after, the story ends with:

“The sound of the hoops breaking from around Faithful Heinrich’s chest, for his master had been set free and was happy at last.”

 

Review

As I mentioned before, this story, although beloved and remade dozens of time, has never really struck my fancy. However, there are some interesting things happening here, especially if we believe that morals and life lessons can be discovered through fairy tales.

The obvious moral of the story: Honor your promises and you will be rewarded.

  • The frog honored his promise to retrieve the ball and the princess (unwillingly) honored her promise to the frog. His curse was broken and she got a fancy new husband.

The not-so-obvious moral: Action is necessary to accomplish anything worthwhile.

  • This might seem a little strange, but consider the scene in which the young princess hurls the frog against the wall. This violent act is hardly commendable and, if I were the prince, I would be a bit agitated with the princess. Some scholars have insisted that the violence of the action is unimportant (although I think the prince would argue), it is the action itself that is important. Neither the frog, nor the princess, could break the curse without being actively involved. I’m not sure if this satisfies being thrown across the room, but I can acquiesce the importance of having your protagonist being active rather than passive.

The interesting character of Heinrich

  • The fact that he is not the main character and yet, his name is in the title, begs further analysis of his character. He simply oozes off morals such as faithfulness and loyalty. However, we are only given this flat illustration of a servant happy to see his master freed. I don’t know about you, but I want to know Heinrich’s story.

What do you think of the story? Does it resonate with you or is it forgettable? Do you approve the princess’s violent actions? Do you want to know more about the servant Heinrich? Let me know your thoughts below!

 

Well, there we have it: my very first blog post for “My Bookshelf.” I simply adore fairy tales (thanks Jay Pines for reminding me of them) and I think I’ll do some more blog posts of this nature as long as you all seem interested. If you have a particular fairy tale that you would like my review of be sure to leave the title in the comment’s below!