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Sky-Daughter (NaNoWriMo) – Support a Fellow Young Writer

Hey, guys, and thanks for reading Tween Fiction Girl! Today’s post is going to be a unique one, because I’ve never done a book review/human interest combo post. It’s going to be a book review, sort of, but you’ll also need a bit of backstory.

Remember last year, when I did NaNoWriMo? I wrote a book called The Juniper Tree that will never be published because I didn’t like it, but I also came across my fellow young writer Lily Sowell. I read the excerpt of her story on her NaNoWriMo account page, and we got to talking.
It turns out that her book went a lot further than mine. While mine remained an unfinished idea, she went on to publish hers on CreateSpace. I own a copy of it, and I have to say, for a twelve-year-old author, this was a stellar read.

And now for the review bit of the book review.

The book’s title, as you may have surmised from both the headline and URL of this page, is Sky-Daughter. (It sounds a bit ambiguous out of context, but it makes more sense once you read the story.) To give a simple summary, it’s a fantasy story, centered around three young women by the names of Ayanna, Gwynn, and Oriel, set in a place called Ajeda in a time during a long, hard war. (Actually, the e in Ajeda has an accent mark over it, but I can’t figure out how to make it on my computer.)

It’s not an adult book, but that’s understandable. It was written by a 12-year-old for a 12-year-old reading level. I’d recommend the story itself for an age group of about 8 to 14; it’s not too complex and not at all inappropriate, but it’s compelling enough to attract the attention of an older reader, too. I mean, even my mom enjoyed it, and, when it comes to books, she’s hard to interest.

The author’s writing style is brisk and dialogue-oriented, which leaves a lot about the details of the setting to the imagination. I like descriptions, frankly, but even more, I dislike lengthy and tedious descriptions, so I didn’t find this much of a setback. The writing flows, with understandable characters (which is definitely a plus, especially in stories written by younger individuals) and easy, casual dialogue. I made note of the fact that a good portion of the main characters are female. As it was written by a girl, it’s written for girls, even if that particular facet was unintentional; as I myself am an almost-teen girl, this didn’t bother me, but, despite the fact that this book is set in a war, I don’t recommend it for boys looking for a nitty-gritty action story.

A heads-up for anyone looking to purchase the book: it’s NOT flawless. No book is. It has as many flukes as anything I’ve ever written, I’ll admit, such as an accidental g tacked onto the word tightly in the last chapter in the book, or an extra “that night” in a sentence on the first page. As a whole, though, I’d recommend this to young readers who’d like to try out something a little different from the rest of the young adult fiction stories.

For a fun and fast-paced plot, memorable characters, and an interesting origin (how many 12-year-olds do you ever see publishing books?), but taking points off for a couple of grammatical errors and other small flukes, I give Sky-Daughter four stars out of five.

I don’t usually do this with my reviews, but since this book can currently only be bought in two places in the known world, here are the links to Sowell’s outlets.
Sky-Daughter at Amazon.com
Sky-Daughter at CreateSpace.com (by Amazon)

UPDATE:  Sowell released another edition of the book; she fixed the aforementioned typos.  (The webpage still says 1st Edition, but the interior of the book says 2nd).

Anyway, thanks for reading! I hope this was helpful to you.

~ Summer

NaNoWriMo has begun!!

Hey, guys!! As you probably know, since November is here, the start of National Novel Writing Month is here as well!! I was going to post this yesterday, but I was just too busy writing. 😛

If you’re doing this, how many words did you do on your first day? I started at midnight and ended up with 4,277 on the first day. I’ve now written 4317 today. I’m pretty proud of myself, to be honest. My novel started out as a slightly augmented version of the AJ Story that was kind of a fail, but as the plot developed it’s not even a distant cousin anymore. The only thing that’s really similar about it is the personalities of my main four characters, Ayanna, Gwynn, Oriel, and Bell, who were originally going to be my new versions of Flora, Juniper, Lucky, and Crashing. Oh, and did I mention they’re all humans?

Post your thoughts on your NaNovel below; I’d love to hear them!!!

~ Summer 😀

Fiction Fridays #9: The AJ Story, Chapter 8

Hey, guys! Here’s the new chapter of my story! I hope you like it, I worked hard on this!!
If you haven’t read the previous chapters, they’re at
https://tweenfictiongirl.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/fiction-fridays-2-the-aj-story-chapter-1/
https://tweenfictiongirl.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/fiction-fridays-3-the-aj-story-chapter-2/
https://tweenfictiongirl.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/fiction-fridays-4-the-aj-story-chapter-3/
https://tweenfictiongirl.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/fiction-fridays-5-the-aj-story-chapter-4/
https://tweenfictiongirl.wordpress.com/2014/06/13/fiction-fridays-6-the-aj-story-chapter-5/
https://tweenfictiongirl.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/fiction-fridays-7-the-aj-story-chapter-6/
https://tweenfictiongirl.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/fiction-fridays-8-the-aj-story-chapter-7/

~~~

It was a sleepless night for the wolf sisters. They woke up Scooter, told her to keep an eye on Crashing and Fauna, and went with Liza all the way to the Alpha Council House at the top of Mt. Shiveer at the edge of the mountains. It was almost eleven o’ clock when they finally reached the summit. Most of the other Alphas, looking ruffled and nervous, had already reached the top, and, to the wolves’ embarrassment, there didn’t seem to be any other non-Alpha animals there.
“Flora, Juniper, Lucky,” said a voice anxiously. They turned to see Peck, her violet eyes wide and her whiskers quivering. “I’m sorry to hear about Greely. I know you three are really close to him.”
“He’ll be okay,” Flora said, although it sounded rather like she was reassuring herself. “They’ll put a search party together, and we’ll find him no problem.”
“Flora, you know what this means,” whispered Juniper when everyone was out of earshot. “The Phantom King. He’s already got Greely. His plan’s working, and the other Alphas are doing exactly what he wants them to.”
Flora’s eyes widened. “We have to warn them,” she whispered. Juniper nodded.
Lucky was discussing battle plans in a low voice with Sir Gilbert. Sir Gilbert wasn’t Greely’s best friend – in fact, the two had a long history of consternation – but the huge tiger’s loyalty was unmatched, and there was no way he’d step down from helping his fellow Alpha.
“Got a plan?” he said to Lucky.
“Run in there, save Greely, and whip those phantoms’ big black butts,” she replied.
“Sounds good to me,” said Sir Gilbert.
“Attention!” called Liza from the end of the large table in the center of the room. All talk ceased, and everyone took a seat at the huge conference table. Flora, Juniper, and Lucky were able to share Greely’s empty seat, and it wasn’t that cramped, considering the size of the missing Alpha.
“Yesterday, Greely left Jamaa on one of his missions,” said Liza. “We weren’t worried until he didn’t return, and one Sparkle Wingedlily, an arctic wolf that was watching Miss Cutestar while Flora and Juniper went to the Hive to help Lucky, said he had set off for the Hive. He should have come back quickly, but he didn’t.”
Flora felt herself go cold. Greely was at the Hive. It wasn’t that she didn’t think he, Alpha, couldn’t take care of himself, but the Phantom Hive was dangerous to any animal, immortal or not. The Alphas’ immortality wasn’t absolute, after all; they would never die of old age or grow any older, but they could be killed in battle like a normal animal.
“Naturally, we will assemble a party of our best warriors to venture into the Hive and find him. It – ”
“Wait!” Juniper burst out. “While we were in the Hive, the Phantom King told us his plan. He was planning on capturing Greely, then, while we were all busy, leak the phantoms into Jamaa and take it from the inside out.”
All eyes turned to the blue wolf, and she blushed.
“What was his plan?” asked Liza softly.
So Juniper told them everything the Phantom King had said. When she finished, Sir Gilbert pushed his chair back and rose to his feet. “We must act,” he growled, and shouts of assent filled the room.
“Quiet!” shouted Liza. “This is indeed a bad situation, but we can’t rush into it. We have to leave a group behind to keep vigil over Jamaa’s borders and make sure the phantoms don’t infiltrate, and form a search party as well. Sir Gilbert, Peck, Ruby, Lucky, and Flora will search for Greely.”
The named animals stood up. The huge tiger, rabbit, rhino, and two wolves, all great warriors, promised they would give everything they could, and wasted no time in leaving for the Hive.
“That leaves the matter of security,” continued the panda. “Cosmo, Graham, Juniper, and I will watch the land borders. Harper and Marco can take the waterways.”
Harper and Marco were the Seal and Penguin Alphas, respectively. “On it,” said Harper, throwing Liza the finger-gun. Juniper quietly rolled her eyes.
“And Crashing?” she asked hesitantly. “I’m sorry, but I can’t just leave her alone. We’ve got a little penguin and a rabbit, too.”
Liza raised her eyebrows at the last part, but said, “They can stay with LaSelle while you do your duties as guard.” The glamorous raccoon rose from the table. “I’ll take very good care of your little ones, Miss Spiritbird.”
“Thanks,” said Juniper. She gave LaSelle her address so she could pick them up, then left with her Alpha helpers to organize a watch over Jamaa.
Meanwhile, the search party was about to reach the bottom of Mt. Shiveer. It was a much faster journey downhill, and with their long legs and Alpha speed, they almost halved the time it took to get down.
Sir Gilbert shook the dirt and snow out of his fur once they’d reached the bottom. “It’s about an hour’s journey to the Hive,” he said in his bass voice. “We should arrive just after midnight. You all ready?”
“Ready as ever,” said Flora, digging her claws into the rocks beneath her.
With the affirmative from everyone else in the party, the second leg of their journey began. Huge stony mountains loomed at them from all sides, towering above their heads, making even the Alphas seem miniscule by comparison.
“I’m almost glad we got here,” said Peck once they’d reached the Hive. “Those mountains looked too sinister. I bet they were crawling with phantoms.”
“Well, get ready for more,” growled Ruby. She tossed her head from side to side, then smashed her horn through a rock by the entrance. “I’m waiting for whatever those phantoms throw at us.”
So they all went inside the Hive. Lucky bowed her head and quickened her pace as her fur stood on end at the sight of a bloodstained patch just inside the mouth. She tried not to think about Little and her terrible, if brave, death.
“Keep your guard up,” whispered Sir Gilbert, whose head was scraping against the roof of the tunnel. More than once he’d hit it on a rock and said some extremely rude things to the ceiling.
“We’re getting close,” said Flora. “I know where we are.”
After five more minutes of narrow, winding tunnels, Flora spotted the sign that marked the entrance of the dungeons. She crouched low, and motioned her companions to do the same. One phantom drifted from one side of the corridor to the other, guarding the doorway, but the search party wasn’t nervous in the least.
“Here we go,” said Ruby, a daring smile spreading across her sharp features. Flora couldn’t help thinking that she was among a group of Luckies.
“On your mark,” muttered Sir Gilbert.
“Get set…” Despite Peck’s size, she managed to look like a fierce enemy.
“GO!” shouted the rhino.
The phantom never had a chance against all five of them. With one slash of Ruby’s claw-sharp horn, he was nothing but a pile of goop on the ground.
But the worst was yet to come.

~~~

Thanks for reading! I still don’t have a good title for this story, so if you have any suggestions, PLEASE put them in the comments!!

Summer 🙂

Fiction Fridays #8: The AJ Story, Chapter 7

Here’s your new chapter! I’m really enjoying giving these chapters to you, and I hope you like them!!
If you haven’t read the previous chapters, they’re at
https://tweenfictiongirl.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/fiction-fridays-2-the-aj-story-chapter-1/
https://tweenfictiongirl.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/fiction-fridays-3-the-aj-story-chapter-2/
https://tweenfictiongirl.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/fiction-fridays-4-the-aj-story-chapter-3/
https://tweenfictiongirl.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/fiction-fridays-5-the-aj-story-chapter-4/
https://tweenfictiongirl.wordpress.com/2014/06/13/fiction-fridays-6-the-aj-story-chapter-5/
https://tweenfictiongirl.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/fiction-fridays-7-the-aj-story-chapter-6/

~~~

They were already out of the mountains when Scooter finally broke. She’d been holding back her tears for the sake of the mission, but once they were out of range of the Hive she sat down, buried her face in her paws, and started crying.
Juniper silently padded behind the rest to where Scooter was sitting. She nuzzled the little rabbit and whispered softly in her ear.
“Little was a hero, you know,” she crooned. “She died the best way anyone could have. She saved all our lives, and you can be thankful for her your entire life.”
“But she’s never coming back,” said Scooter in a small voice. “She’s dead, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
“She walks with Zios and Mira in the Sky Kingdom now,” said Juniper quietly. “But someday you’ll see her again, and when you do, nothing can ever bring you apart again.” With that, Juniper picked Scooter up in one paw, set her on her back, and trotted off to catch up to the others.

Greely stood by the mouth of the Hive, his brow furrowed and his chest puffed out. It had taken him a long time to reach the Hive, but Greely was not a hasty wolf. He took no risks, instead timing his arrival to when the phantoms would switch the dungeon guard. Greely knew everything about the phantoms. Greely knew everything about lots of things, and that was part of the reason the other animals thought he was a bit creepy.
Greely prowled through the cave’s opening, his eyes alight with awareness and caution. Nothing would get past him.
With astonishing silence and gracefulness for a wolf of his size, he wove through the maze of the Hive until he came to the dungeons. It didn’t look like the new guard had come yet, but there was a dark stain on the ground. He crouched down and sniffed it. Phantom blood. He hoped the wolves hadn’t done anything to upset the phantoms. That would just make his job more complicated than it already was.
Wary and attentive, he made to go through the doorway and came face-to-face with a big, burly phantom. No problem. He swatted the phantom with one massive paw and he exploded into a mass of purplish goop.
“Well, you are a strong one,” said a voice behind him. “You came a little earlier than we expected, but we’re right on schedule now.”
Then everything went black.

By nightfall, everyone had settled down in the wolves’ house. Crashing was delighted about having guests, and she and Fauna got along great. Even though Scooter was heartbroken about losing her best friend, she made herself right at home at their small cottage. Juniper made a hearty dinner of thick chicken noodle soup and salad, and at Lucky’s request, they had chocolate cake for dessert.
Before Crashing went to bed, as usual, she asked for a story. Juniper and Lucky were helping Fauna and Scooter get to bed. Scooter was sleeping on the couch, and Fauna was sharing Crashing’s room.
“Do you want to hear the story?” Flora asked Fauna, who was on top of a big pile of pillows at least a foot high.
“I like stories,” said Fauna cheerfully.
“Well, this one’s true,” said Flora. “It’s about two wolf sisters at battle camp.”
“I want to go to battle camp when I’m older,” said Crashing.
“Shh,” said Flora. “Do you want to hear the story or not?”
“Shh,” repeated Crashing to Fauna.
“One wolf was twelve, and the other was eight. It was the younger one’s first year at battle camp, and she was doing very well. The other had been going for a few years, but she didn’t like it very much. She tried her best to be a warrior, but it just wasn’t her thing. Instead, most of her time was spent developing medicines for the warriors.”
Like Juniper, thought Crashing, but she didn’t interrupt the story again.
“One very cold winter night, under the cover of hard snow, a legion of phantoms attacked the camp. The younger wolf wanted to fight, but she wasn’t allowed. The older wolf didn’t want to, but she had to because she was older. She was able to make a compromise and work as a field medic, but the younger one was frustrated because she couldn’t help in the fight.”
Fauna thought the wolf should have been able to fight, even though she wasn’t old enough. She was eight, just like the wolf in the story, and she’d just taken down a Hive full of phantoms.
“So the younger wolf, against orders, ran away from the camp and began to help the soldiers in their fight. She was a very good warrior, but her big sister was very worried for her even when she was safe and sound at camp. When she saw her in the middle of the battle, she stole the sword of one of the animals she was tending and rushed into battle.
“The younger sister was never in any real danger. She was a great fighter, and the trainers of the battle camp had the phantoms covered, but the older sister fought nevertheless to save her sister. But before she could even find her to help her, she was cornered by a huge phantom. She fought as best she could, but the phantom hurt one of her paws very badly. The battle was won by the camp, but they weren’t sure she would survive.”
Crashing’s bedtime stories – especially the true ones – got a little violent sometimes.
“She was saved by one of her own medicines. She was the first to make a solution that would help to heal phantom wounds to that degree, but it wasn’t enough. They – ”
“I thought Juniper invented that,” said Crashing softly.
“Not much longer, honey,” said Flora. “Just let me finish the story.”
“The medicine didn’t help enough. Her paw was too badly hurt, and to this day she has one metal paw.”
It was all silent for a few seconds. Crashing thought she knew who the two wolves in the story were.

Everyone was in bed and nearly asleep when a frantic knocking at the door woke them up.
“Who could it be this late at night?” whispered Juniper.
“I don’t know, but they better have a real good reason,” growled Lucky, who had already fallen asleep.
When they answered the door, they found none other than Liza the Panda Alpha, the most well-known and well-liked of the immortal rulers.
“Liza, ma’am, it’s you,” said Flora, dipping her head. “What is it?”
“It’s Greely,” she said. “He left this morning, and now he’s gone!”

~~~

Thanks for reading! I appreciate your feedback and title suggestions in the comments!

Summer 🙂

Fiction Fridays #6: The AJ Story, Chapter 5

Hey, guys! Here’s the chapter you’ve been waiting for! If you haven’t read the previous chapters:
https://tweenfictiongirl.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/fiction-fridays-2-the-aj-story-chapter-1/
https://tweenfictiongirl.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/fiction-fridays-3-the-aj-story-chapter-2/
https://tweenfictiongirl.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/fiction-fridays-4-the-aj-story-chapter-3/
https://tweenfictiongirl.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/fiction-fridays-5-the-aj-story-chapter-4/

Please, please, PLEASE post your title ideas in the comments!! I’m still stuck!!
Without further ado, the next installment of the AJ Story!

~~~

“Is this it?” asked Juniper. Flora gave her a withering look.
“Well, it’s a giant cave in the middle of the mountains with phantom tracks everywhere. I’d say this is it.” Juniper looked slightly irritated.
“I only meant – I don’t know, it’s a stress thing.”
“Stalling?” Flora smiled a little.
“Exactly.”
The mouth of the Hive was enormous. Greely’s volcano probably couldn’t have fit in it, but their house would have been swallowed up. The edge was rimmed in what looked like violet char marks, but only something with the power of a phantom could have burned inch-deep gouge marks in solid stone.
Flora started walking, one paw firmly in front of the other, steadfastly toward the Hive.
“Wait,” said Juniper. Flora heard the clink of glass as Juniper rummaged through her pockets.
“What?” she said. “Don’t you want to find Lucky?”
“I want to just as much as you, if not more,” answered Juniper curtly. “But we can’t just go barging in. They’ll see us for sure, and you know as well as I do that we’re outnumbered a thousand to one.” She held out her paw. She was holding a tiny, plain glass bottle with a dark, shiny, purplish liquid inside.
“Greely and I developed this,” said Juniper. “It – ”
“This isn’t going to be like the BOOMseeds, is it?” asked Flora. The BOOM stood for Bombarding Organic Oxidizing Macroorganism, but Lucky, who had helped test them, liked “Boom” better. The BOOMseeds were, without a doubt, superb weapons, but phantom-disintegrating, detonating-on-impact grain wasn’t Flora’s idea of a good project for her little sisters.
“Um… not really,” said Juniper evasively. “It’s diluted phantom goop – you know, that stuff they spew everywhere when they die. With a few other ingredients added, it should give us phantom forms for long enough to get through the Hive and back out with Lucky.”
Flora was speechless. This was by far the riskiest concoction Juniper had come up with, and the margin for failure was tiny.
“What if this goes wrong and we end up as phantoms forever?” said Flora wildly.
“We have no choice,” replied Juniper.
“I am NOT drinking that stuff,” said Flora.
Five minutes later, Flora was holding the vial of phantom juice so hard the glass nearly shattered in her paw.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” she said helplessly.
“Think of Lucky,” said Juniper. “No more finding couch stuffing in the toilet if you don’t do it.”
“Believe it or not, I miss that,” said Flora. She took a deep breath and poured the thick black liquid down her throat.
She dropped the vial as soon as it touched her lips. Juniper caught it just before it shattered on the rocks. The solution was the consistency of tar and tasted like a combination of burning hair and overcooked meat. It burned as it went down her throat, and it made her entire body tingle like it was asleep. She heard a tinkling sound as Juniper consumed her half and dropped the bottle.
Everything was a blur of burning pain for barely a second. Then it all cleared and Flora opened her eyes wide.
Eyes?
She looked down and gasped. She was no longer a wolf. She was glistening black and sparking with electricity.
She was a phantom.
Flora heard another, almost imperceptible humming noise behind her and turned around. Juniper was hovering over the ground about seven feet behind her.
“You look nice,” giggled the younger sister.
“You do, too,” said Flora with a smile. It looked strange on her phantom features.
“You look way too happy to be a phantom,” said Juniper. She screwed up her face and put on a scornful look.
“Not bad,” said Flora, and frowned darkly.
“Ready to go,” said Juniper, and they went into the Hive, leaving their things just inside the cave so they could get it quickly.
Once they were inside, all the natural light disappeared like fog on a warm morning. Luckily, their new phantom night vision helped them see normally, but they couldn’t imagine being stuck in there without their bolstered sight. Every once in a while, they’d spot a patch of some kind of luminescent fungus, but that was the only light in sight.
Although they could see in the pitch-blackness, the Hive was like an enormous rocky maze. There were tunnels spiraling out in every direction, and every one of them looked the same.
The phantoms themselves didn’t help, either. Even though Juniper and Flora knew they looked inconspicuous, it still gave them the chills whenever one of the dark, electric creatures drifted by. They stopped when they saw a carving over one of the tunnels.
“’Dungeons’,” whispered Flora, reading from the heading above one of the tunnels. It actually said something more like , but Juniper’s solution had given them the gift of being able to read, speak, and understand the phantoms’ tongue.
“Well, here we are,” said Juniper, and took a deep breath. Phantoms weren’t her thing at the best of times, but here, in the heart of the Hive, where so many things could go wrong, was not her idea of a morning trip.
They hadn’t gone three feet when a massive phantom loomed out at them from the shadows. Juniper gave an involuntary squeak as he seemingly appeared from nowhere.
“What is your business here?” he growled in a raspy voice.
Flora stood up tall. “We want to enter the dungeons,” she said. “Did the Phantom King appoint a guard that couldn’t even figure that out?”
A flash of electricity shot down the guard’s sleek black body, and he gave his tentacles a little shake. “You better know who you’re messing with, little girl. Do you have clearance to enter the dungeons?”
Juniper was furious. Their entire mission had been thrown out the window by an issue of clearance. She should have known there would be a guard. It was the Phantom Hive’s dungeon, for goodness sake. But not all was lost.
Juniper came forward, her face a picture of anger. “Listen, you bobbleheaded idiot, we want to enter the dungeons. The Phantom King won’t be very happy if you don’t let his own phantoms in the dungeons, don’t you think?”
Flora was amazed at her usually meek little sister’s attitude, but the guard was not fazed.
“I can let who I want in!” he roared, and began to ready one flickering tentacle to strike.
Thwack!
Before he could move even an inch, Flora launched herself at him and began striking him again and again right on top of the head. After several hits, the guard’s resistance wore out and he fell to the ground.
“Is he dead?” asked Juniper, tentatively nudging him with one tentacle.
“Nah,” said Flora. “They sort of explode when they die. This one’s just knocked out.”
“Let’s do this before he wakes up,” said Juniper.
Without another word, the two disguised wolves floated through the rocky doorway and into the dungeons.

~~~

Thanks for reading! I can’t wait until next Friday!! XD

Summer 😛