Hello… 2019?

Have you ever sat down to do something but then another task popped up and another and another until suddenly the thing you meant to do didn’t get done? Yeah, that’s me. I’ve been meaning to write a blog post since December and I should have written something at the beginning of January, but now it’s half way through February and I still don’t know what to post on this blog.

In the past, I’ve done yearly wrap ups and goals, highlighting the good that happened in the past year and what I hope to accomplish in the upcoming year. But I’m not going to do that. Not quite.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I spend my time (and money) and I just came to a point that if I don’t write my stories, if I don’t edit and rewrite my stories, no one else will. Only I can do it. If I ever hope of being published someday, I need to stop slogging through the work and actually do something. And not just when I feel inspired.

(Because if I actually sit down and intend to write or edit, I do get stuff done. I feel inspired after I warm up for a bit and focus on what I’m doing. Imagine that.)

So my goal this year is to finish editing my library story and get other people to read it. I know what needs to be done to edit and rewrite. I’ve mapped out the scenes that need to be changed, the elements that need to be added (or to keep track of so they don’t get lost), and the general direction the story needs to go. I just need to do it.

At the beginning of January, I told myself if I edit five chapters each month, it’ll be finished by summer. I could get people to read it then and work on more edits next fall once I get feedback. Well, that didn’t exactly go as planned in January because I went to California for vacation and I didn’t decide to buckle down and edit until the last few days of January. But now? I’ve edited eight chapters. I’m hoping to finish ten total by the end of February, which will put me back on track for my original goal. I can do this.

I want to work on other writing projects as well. I want to keep this blog updated (at least once a month), to continue writing book reviews on Books and Waffles, to contribute to The Lit Nerds  (which you all should check out), and to maybe work on something I haven’t in a while or a new idea that’s been tugging at my arm to follow it into an adventure.

I know that I can’t sit down and write every day. For one, working a full-time job where I help people all day is exhausting. There are days where I don’t have the energy or time to sit down. So my attempt is to work on writing stuff at least every other day (or four times a week, depending on how the days fall). If I feel inspired to write something else or I need to get my Lit Nerds post drafted, I might write more.

Yes, I’m still going to read books and have actual adventures. But I know that I need to focus on my writing more. If that means setting aside a highly anticipated read for an hour while I write, so be it. If that means I don’t get to finish Kingdom Hearts III yet, so be it. So far, this has worked the past few weeks and, as I’ve stated, I’ve accomplished more than I hoped for.

So maybe 2019 will be the year I actually finish something. Maybe it’ll help stretch me as a writer. But I know that I want to work toward my goal because only I can do it. And I hope this small, random, on-a-whim post inspires you to work toward your goals and dreams. Remember, only you can make those happen. I can’t do it for you. Your mom can’t do it for you. But you can do it.

Also can someone find me a cool typewriter like this because I want one.

NaNoWriMo 2018: Wrap Up + Snippets

I did the thing! I reached over 50K in November and completed NaNoWriMo. I actually finished a few days early, on the 27th, but I wanted to see if I could write more. I reached a total of 52,688 words, which is pretty crazy since the last few months have been a struggle for me to write.

While I hit my monthly goal, this story is far from over. I’m not sure how many more words it’ll take to complete it, but I feel as if I’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot yet to be explored both in regards to characters and the world-building, and right now, I’m just excited to see where the story takes me.

Scoundrels and Scallyways 7

As I have described it on the NaNo site, this story is about “pirates and magic and a whole lot of butt kicking and heart crushing adventure.” As of right now, I haven’t introduced any pirates, but there is a lot of magic. Originally, I thought one of the characters had the potential to break everybody’s heart, but now I think a second character is going to do that as well. It’s going to be so fun.

Because I’m so excited about this story right now, here are a few snippets I wrote during November. Enjoy!


Once there was a boy who could create magic with his hands. He always helped others, no matter the cost to himself. No matter how much life energy or blood he spilled from his own veins. No matter the ache in his head and the pain in his chest.

Until one day, he gave too much.


“Harvey,” she said, “What important piece of advice have I told you over and over?”
Harvey, whose dark eyes were as fathomless of the fathoms below, didn’t blink at her, but his eyes flicked to the apple core in her hand. “Don’t interrupt you while you eat?”
Rip rolled her eyes and tossed the core toward the waters below. Some lucky fish would have a nice meal tonight, she thought. At least something near this cursed iceberg would.
“Don’t sneak up on me,” Rip said, lazily looking away from Harvey toward the shore. They weren’t due to arrive in Northern Point until sunrise, so she’d ordered the ship anchored just outside the docking parameters. No need to make a fuss with the port patrol and have them search the ship, on a whim, for any smuggled goods. Not that she, Captain Rip of the Andromeda, would ever have smuggled goods hidden in the belly of her beast.
“Or you just might find a knife stuck in your gut.” She lifted the knife so the point was mere inches from his nose before twirling it around on her fingers and sticking it back in its sheath at her hip.

scoundrels and scallywags 5


Ryker always found fire to be the easiest to manipulate. It was hot and full of anger, matching the rush of his blood, the thoughts churning in his mind, the emotion wriggling in his gut. But fire wasn’t the element he clung to like a small child clung to the hem of his mother. It didn’t soothe the breaking of his soul or beckon the magic to come forward. Instead, Ryker preferred water.
The steady ebb and flow of the tides against the shore. The softness as it lapped the sand and the strength as it swarmed during a storm. Water was versatile, flexible, always moving and changing. It was strong and steady and calm and soothing. It cleansed and quenched. It [something].
Ryker’s mother has always said he had one foot on land and one foot in the sea and that it called to his the very bones in his body and the blood in his veins. He never understood what that meant until he’d found himself landlocked on Gray’s sideshow for months on end as they traveled to the cities that lay inland. The moment they had reached a portside city, he had rushed away from the caravans and thrown himself into the harbor, relishing the way the water seeped into his skin and clothes, drowning his bones.
Water had always been his favorite element to manipulate.



Scoundrels and Scallywags 6

She squeezed herself into a ball, cradling her knees against her chest. She was covered in layers of gray–cold, alone, smeared. She wished Ryker was with her, even if it meant he was caged too, so he could pull her into his sheltered arms and hold her near his frantically beating chest.
Unlike the monsters… whose hearts were hollow and silent.
A catacomb of stillness.
Wren shivered and buried her face between her knees. She felt like the princess in a story about an ogre without a heart. Only instead of being trapped in a mountain castle, she was on a boat. Instead of an ogre, her wardens were some other kind of monster. If she could use her magic, she could find their hearts and restore them. It would be a happier ending than for the ogres in the fable.
But she wasn’t a princess and she couldn’t use her magic.
The ship rocked suddenly, dumping her to the side. Northern Point’s mountains were getting smaller and smaller. And Ryker was disappearing too.
She found no will to sit back up, lying in a heap on the hardwood floors instead. She closed her eyes, silencing the empty colors and the hope that someone would come for her. She tried to calm the roaring in her blood, like Ryker taught her too.
“Whenever you’re scared, Wren,” he had said in his breath colored with purple and stars, “just lay down and close your eyes and make a list of all the pretty things in the world. Then you’ll remember that everything will be fair again in the end.”
Wren let out a slow breath–pink feathers brushing over her–and she thought of the prettiest things left in the world: plants.
Blood lilies from Taegan.
Palm trees from Barrak.
Forsythia from [place].
She listed all the flowers she could remember. The ones she had seen with her own eyes as Gray’s sideshow traveled from territory to territory, island to island, port to port. Others she had seen for sale at markets or overheard travelers describing in their extravagant stories. She had read about plants from [Southern Isles] that glimmered in the moonlight, and Ryker had told her about the shrubs that bloomed with fountain tulips along the trickling streams of Taegan. She wanted to see, more than anything else, all the flowers of the world together, all those colors blending in a splash of brilliance.
Frost jasmines from Northern Point.
Fire willows from [place].
Kalina from [another place].
The eternal kokia cookei rumored to grow on a mystical island in the center of the five seas.
Wren continued her list, growing it as a long as the viper vines from [place], until the frosted sea rolled her to sleep.


“On Taegan, when a man loves a woman, he proposes to her in front of her whole family by offering a palm branch,” Ryker began, his voice soft. “If they accept, the man gives them a palm branch, which is then used in a palm oil that the woman bathes in the night before the wedding and weaves the stem into the crown of her hair on her wedding day. They both wear white to symbolize purity and walk upon the beach barefoot together as they approach where both families line the shoreline on either side of the Elder.
“Once there, the Elder binds their hands and they face the ocean, casting vows only the other can hear. Then they dip each other into the ocean waves, symbolizing a promise of dying to their old self and becoming new as one body.”
Rip said nothing, which surprised Ryker. He figured by now she would interrupt, but he allowed her to keep talking.
“Together, they sing a song with their families that talks of [god’s] love for the community. Last, they make a vow to honor the rituals and do their part for the island, putting community first and love second. The family sprinkles flower petals from the [plant] over the couple.”
Ryker paused, furrowing his brow and clenching his fist. “Only then can the man take his wife into their home and become one flesh. Ritual first, flesh second.”
He left his words to linger in the space between them. Not looking at her, not reaching for her, even though his fingers longed to hold her hand in his hands.

Scoundrels and Scallyways 4

NaNoWriMo 2018: Update

NaNoWriMo 2018 is more than halfway over, and I am sitting at a total of 32,157 words, which I think is crazy. I’m slightly ahead of my goal at the moment, and I’m hoping to keep it that way for the rest of November. (But with the holiday weekend, who knows?)

It seems crazy to me because at the start of November I wasn’t even committed to a single story idea. But now I have 32K of a story with characters and magic and pirate ships (hopefully) and possibly mermaids or sirens or some kind of thing like that. The story is tentatively called Scoundrels and Scallywags because doesn’t that just sound cool?

Scoundrels and Scallyways 7

A lot of what I have been writing is material originally used for the serial story I wrote with a few friends, Thieves of Bakkaj, that slowly died…

The four of us agreed to give up on the story and kindly take all the bits and pieces we created along the way to use in individual stories. Aka I was able to salvage all the characters I came up with and go from there. But it hasn’t been the most smooth transition.

The hard part about taking characters and ideas from an already established world and plot is that I had to figure out my own world and plot. Which hasn’t been easy, but it hasn’t been difficult either. I’m still playing with this world and figuring out how it works, what it looks like, etc. I’ve been leaving myself lots of notes to go back and change this or that or add something here and there.

The plot portion of the story has probably been the more difficult to nail down. I’m keeping similar events, such as Wren being kidnapped and Ryker chasing her down. But instead of him finding her right away, he learns she’s on a different ship going to a different destination and he has to track her down. He still meets Rip, but I’ve added a few more important characters to Rip’s crew (who, by the way, completely took me surprise when they showed up with names and faces and personalities). Locke has also shifted. He’s still searching for Wren because of her ability, but he isn’t the one who kidnaps her. That is someone else. And no, I have no idea who he is. I also don’t know the “big picture” plot. Why do they want Wren? How do Ryker and Rip fit into that narrative? Who else will show up along the way to help them?

In addition, I’m digging deeper into Ryker’s backstory and his relationship with his brothers, who I hope will both play a bigger part later on in the story. I’ve also already written my ending. It was actually the second thing I wrote during the entire month! Let’s just say that I’m probably going to break a few hearts with this one. (As if my other stories don’t?)

I hope to incorporate a lot of the ideas I started exploring while contributing to Thieves that didn’t quite match the world and plot we were aiming for. It’s kind of a mess right now, and I definitely won’t be finished with the entire thing after hitting 50K, but this is the most I’ve written in months and I’m glad to be writing again.

scoundrels and scallywags 3

I also lead a teen writing club at the library where I work, and I had the kids create a writing project and an attainable  word goal to reach during November (as opposed to 50K, which is daunting for newer writers). It’s been so great to see many of the students writing every single day and realizing they need to make their goals higher and also that they can write a story! There’s one girl who said a year ago she didn’t have the confidence to write the story she is writing, but now she’s more than halfway through her goal and her idea is expanding. I love it!

So basically, this is the first time in a long while that NaNo hasn’t been a struggle this far along in the month. I could be content with my 32K and not even reach 50K because the challenge has pushed me back into writing regularly and given me new ideas to play with. Of course, I’m going to try to surpass 50K, but I’m not stressing about it. I’m just writing.

Are you participating in NaNo? How is it going for you? Let me know what you are working on (NaNo or Not) in the comments!

NaNoWrimo 2018

National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) starts in a few days, and this is the first year I am not over-the-top excited, ready to roll, eager to start writing right out of the gate. Maybe it’s because I’m still wavering between three (possibly four) ideas even after I told myself to pick one and stick to it. Maybe it’s because the last few months I’ve been so wishy-washy in my commitment to writing. Maybe it’s because writing 50,000 words in 30 days doesn’t work for every novel.

I don’t know.

But what I do know is that I want to write. I want to try to write something new, something different. I know, eventually, I need to edit my work. Which at times seems a lot more daunting than trying to write 50K in a month. My hope is that after NaNoWrimo I’ll sit down and get serious about editing, about improving my work, about taking a first draft and molding it into something that isn’t messy or strewn with inconsistencies. But something I can have people finally read.

Writing is a part of who I am. As I tell people, I am always writing–even if it’s just in my head or gathering inspiration from the world.

So in November, I don’t know what I’m going to be writing, but I know that I will write. I might not reach my goal this year (which will ruin my perfect NaNo win streak), but the important thing is that it will hopefully kickstart me back into writing regularly and not dragging my feet to sit down to write.

Every year of NaNo seems to be different, and I think this one is going to be harder than all the ones that came before. I still remember my eager, twelfth-grade self counting words during psychology and math class, my writing veins on fire from all the words pouring out of me. How did I manage to write such a well organized novel without an outline, I’ll never know. But I want that fever again inside of me. That need to get words out, to write and write and write, no matter where I am.

Hopefully, that will happen this year. But maybe with a little less word counting since I have this thing called a computer that will do it for me.

Are you participating in NaNo? I want to hear all about your novel–or maybe just your ideas–or what you hope to accomplish in November!

Cowboys and Dinosaurs: Snippet #1

My hand shakes as I aim my gun at the oversized lizard chomping down on my papa’s cattle. The remnants of a chain link fence swaddle the soft sides of its belly, pressing into the flesh but not piercing its hide. I squint one eye, let out a slow breath, and fire. The gun bucks in my hand and I swear under my breath as it backfires against my thumb. The bullet flies true, though, and lodges in the eye socket of the beast.

It roars, releasing the mangled cattle from its sharp claws and teeth. It swivels its head toward me, but I don’t move an inch. These lizards are dumb as oxen but a lot less easy to steer. Some of the folk have tamed the lesser beasts, the ones that just munch on grass, to plow the fields and even pull carriages. But not these predators. They hunt for meat, and humans have enough meat on them to make a whole herd lose their minds in blood lust.

The only thing to do with these terrible lizards is to shoot ‘em in the eye and wait for them to turn their back so you can blast them away.

And that’s what I do. I wait for it to go back to its snack (that particular cow is done for anyhow) before moving. My arm aches to drop to my side, but I know that will catch the attention of its one good eye. I may be faster than my brother Jack in these breeches, but I sure as heck ain’t fast enough to outrun a beast like that one.

We don’t get many predators this close to town, but when we do, the sheriff calls in the Calvary to take it down. But this one ain’t so bad. It’s one of the dumb ones that can only see its targets if they move. It’s the smaller ones that hunt in packs that you really have to be careful of. One wrong move and just like that, you’ll be six feet under or just bones picked clean of meat and flesh.

The lizard lowers its head to continue its meal of the poor cattle, which has slumped to the ground, probably dead more of shock than blood loss just yet. I take a slow breath, feeling the wind whistle around my hair. Papa always said to keep my arm steady and my eyes sharp. I switch the gun to my other hand with careful, slow movements. As long as the beast is distracted by the dead cow, I’m good. No need to call for help just yet. As long as nothing else moves on the prairie.

I raise my arm, aiming for its other eye and then move slightly to the right, straight at its forehead. The scientists in these parts said most of the lizards don’t have any brains. That their brains are smaller than my dog’s brain. I don’t know if I can believe that because some lizards’ heads are bigger than my dog and I can’t imagine a brain that small powering such a mighty beast. But either way, if you hit ‘em straight between the eyes, they ain’t gonna be long for this world.

I shoot and the bullet pierces the beast’s forehead with a satisfying thump. It roars, bloody mouth open wide. I smile to myself as it collapses, its body dragging the fence with it. I cock my gun and scan the surrounding prairie, checking for any other lizards slithering my way. It’s quiet. The monstrous beast no longer huffing and puffing as it eats my cow. Poor girl. She was a good one at that, a real nice shade of red. Sure to win a prize at the county fair. But I’ve got plenty of cow.

When the area is clear, I move toward the fence. It’ll need to be patched quickly before any other lizards slither in, but for now, I want to enjoy my kill.

cowboys and dinosaurs 1

I Climbed a String to See the Moon

I climbed a string to the moon so I could see the stars.
But when I reached the moon, all I saw was Mars.
So big and bright and red not blue, it hung up in the sky.
And when I tried to reach for it, all it did was lie.

I climbed a thread to Mars so I could go beyond,
And see where the universe had led me to abscond.
But when I saw the universe, my heart dropped from my chest.
And I tumbled down from space, broken and unblessed.

You picked me up and cleaned me up until I shined once more.
My broken heart scattered out, the pieces split in four.
We gathered them, hand in hand, and traveled above the world,
Among the stars and midnight sky, we twirled and twirled and twirled.

You picked the pieces up and wrapped them with red twine.
We fit the jagged heart inside my chest, right against my spine.
Then we floated far above the world and all its wonder and spark.
We swirled through stars and nebulae and out beyond the dark.

i climbed a thread to the moon

Faces of the Year

What if the months had faces?
January as a pale beauty with porcelain white skin and dark, midnight hair to contrast the bleak snowy days.
July with sun kissed tan skin and blonde streaks running through her brown hair.
Would the months be female or male? A variety of both?
A stern gentleman with slicked back blond hair and an emerald green suit would be March. He’d lean against his black cane and pull a pocket watch from his waistcoat, all without taking his vivid green eyes off of you.
September would reveal a floppy brown-haired, glasses-wearing man boy in a tweed jacket and matching pants. His brown bowtie would be crooked, the patches on his elbows fraying, and he’d probably be scrambling to hold onto the books and loose papers tucked under his arm.
April would twirl a yellow parasol over her shoulder that matched the color of her skirt. Her blouse would be tied at the front and a flower would be tucked in her long, blonde hair.
November’s orange sweater would make her brown skin pop and her calf-length boots would suggest she was off on an adventure, tramping through an autumn colored forest.
Would they all be adults? Or would some exhibit the likes of children?
A bouncing baby boy dressed in a blue onesie and a big, gummy smile for June.
A little girl dressed as a witch, scraggly broom in one hand and an even more scraggly cat in the other for October.
What if the months had personalities? Color palettes and outfits? Physical attributes and props?
August would be known for his freckles and fiery red hair. February for the rosy cheeks and springy curls. May for the coy smile that made you wonder if she was more of a spring or summer girl.
And what if the days had them too?


Inspired by these posts.

Art Journal Update #2? 2.5?

Keeping a journal is hard. I have no idea how people can write in a journal regularly, much less every day. Shout out to anybody who does keep up with a regular journal because I can never do it. I have so many half-finished journals stuffed into bookshelves or drawers that it’s kind of embarrassing. I thought switching to an art/smash journal would help me stay on track since I would only be highlighting the more memorable, important events of my year.

But I was wrong.

It’s not that I don’t like doing it. When I work on it, I enjoy it. I love the freedom to design a page, to paint or draw or even just pick out pretty paper. I like experimenting with fonts and designs. But right now, it’s September and I haven’t even finished my 2017 journal yet. Ahhhh… I’m so ashamed.

Recently, though, I picked it back up, flipped through the pages I have done, and decided to get to work. I want to finish my 2017 one before November and get started on my 2018 one.

So since I’ve been working on it, I’ll share a few pages from both the 2016 and 2017 journals, since I haven’t shared anything related to my journals since I finished the 2015 one.


Every year begins in the color of the last page of the previous book.
In 2016, I got my first “adult” job at a library. This page commemorates that achievement.
We went to an event where we painted our own version of “Starry Night.” I had to incorporate that into the background of this page, of course.
If you’re ever in Washington D.C., I highly recommend eating at the Elephant & Castle. 


I was invited to/helped instigate a Peter Pan themed birthday party. I had to, of course, do something extravagant to document the night.


2016 ends in purple so 2017 starts in purple!
Simple layouts and designs go a long way.
It’s all about the memories. Words aren’t always needed.
The map is also a pocket so I can slide my Con badge and an art print I bought inside. 

August Snippets

Lost and Found 5

After completing ten thousand words for July Camp NaNoWriMo, I didn’t want to stop writing Lost and Found. I figured the only motivation to continue was to create my own challenge of another ten thousand words. A typical middle grade novel is anywhere between forty to sixty thousand words. Since I wrote over ten thousand words in August, I thought I’d share a few more snippets of my writing.

Of course, my September writing goal is the same but a few other writing ideas have tried to take over my brain instead. Perhaps rereading what I’ve written for Lost and Found will “reignite” my inspiration for it.



A few years ago, Mom signed me up for an online reading group called the Night Owl Book Club. She thought it would be helpful for me to adjust to our new house, new school, new everything after she and George were married. Something stable in my life. Somewhere I can make friends that won’t ever get left behind. Plus, we get to read books and talk about them. I’ve always been “ahead” in reading, as Mom says. Reading books for several grades above my own. She wanted me to get good recommendations for reading.

But the cool part? The book club only takes place late night. So every third Friday around 9:30 p.m., I hunker down in my room with Mom’s old laptop and a usually beat-up copy of the book of the month, sign into the website, and join other avid readers my age to chat. Sometimes our discussions last an hour, sometimes longer. Mom lets me stay up until we’re finished, no matter what.

We’ve read all types of books. From Hatchet by Gary Paulsen to The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. We’ve read books that seem more for girls, more for boys, and in between. Our fearless leaders, Mr. Riley and Miss Anna, lead the discussion with questions. And they always share a yummy recipe that ties into the book. Like for the first Percy Jackson book, they came up with a recipe for blue pancakes!


“Rory,” Levi mutters. “Your ice cream is, uh, everywhere.”

I glance down and let out a squeak. At some point during my staredown with Josh, my hand tipped the bowl I was holding slightly so now melted ice cream is slithering over the lip and down the side of the bowl and across my hand. I scramble toward the nearest table and set my sticky bowl down before grabbing handfuls of napkins. I awkwardly wipe at my hands, my shirt, even my shoes. In the midst of my scramble, I drop the extra flyers and they scatter across the parlor floor.

Josh, being the gentleman he is, scoops to pick them up at the same time I bend down to wipe the ice cream off my shoe. Our elbows bump, I almost slip and fall, but he grabs my arm ever so gently and tugs me upright. I let out a small breath, something between a gasp and another squeak, and look up into his blue eyes. He’s smiling. A real smile.

Then his eyes shift to the flyer in his hand, and his eyebrows furrow. He holds up the flyer. “Isn’t this your dog?”

An awkward, embarrassing snort laugh slips between my lips. “Uh, yeah. I mean, no. I mean…”

“No,” Levi’s voice pipes up, and I have never wanted to strangle him more than in this moment. “She just found the dog. Well, she rescued her. But Mom says we have to see if she belongs to anybody before we can keep her.”

I jolt to my head, almost kicking Josh in the face. Fortunately, puberty has graced him with wonderful reflexes and he pulls away from me before my clumsy feet can do any damage.

“What?” I ask Levi, who continues to lick hurriedly at his melting ice cream cone. “Mom never said we could keep her.”

Levi shrugs. “Maybe not to you. But I heard her talking to Dad about it. About the ‘what ifs.’” He takes another lick of his cone. “What if nobody claims the dog? What if she doesn’t have an owner anymore?”

I stare at Levi, my heart still thumping but now it’s for another reason. Josh finally stands up and holds out the flyers to me. I stare at the picture of the dog, my thoughts whirling. Levi, rolling his eyes, takes the flyers from Josh and shoves them into my hands. Chocolate ice cream smears across the top flyer from my fingers.

“What did Mom and George say?” I ask Levi in a daze. He smiles up at me, ice cream moustache and all.

“If no one claims her, George convinced Mom we should keep her.”

I let out a slow breath, tears pricking the edge of my eyes. We might get to have a dog. Finally.

“Rory?” Josh’s voice is soft, gentle, but it jerks my attention from the flyers to where he stands a few feet away. His hands are stuffed into the pockets of his khaki shorts.


“Your ice cream is melting.” He shrugs toward the table where the crumpled, ice cream stained napkins are piled around my styrofoam bowl. Most of it has melted into a puddle of ice cream soup, but I suddenly don’t care.

The dog is going to be mine. I just know it.


“No way! No way! No way!” Maddie screams. Bits of carrot fly out of her mouth and across the lunch table. I grimace.

“What happened?” I say, wiping carrot spit off my chin. Maddie winces and mouths “Sorry” to me. I just shrug and smile.

“She’s going to ask Josh Mackenzie to the dance,” Lily says. Her eyebrows narrow ever so slightly, but she quickly hides it by scooping a spoonful of applesauce into her mouth.

“What?” I say. My ears feel stuffy, all the noises of the lunch room muffled like I’m underwater. “You’re asking… Josh?”

Jess smiles smugly. “Just to see what happens. Maybe I’ll get lucky and he’ll say yes.”

Maddie screams again and practically jumps across the table to give Jess a hug. She’s acting like Jess is already going with Josh Mackenzie to the dance. I give Jess a quick smile before smashing my peanut butter and honey sandwich into my mouth. But it doesn’t taste good. My stomach feels all twisted like I just rode the spinny ride at the county fair.

Jess and Josh?

I can’t picture it. Jess is so outgoing and flamboyant. She’s so sure of herself. Josh may look sophisticated and ready to conquer the world, but inside he’s a big softie. I think back to our conversation last week near the creek. How he’s afraid of water and can’t even swim. How he refuses to learn because he can’t get the image of his father drowning in a boat in the ocean out of his mind.

There are so many hidden sides to Josh that he doesn’t reveal to the world. Would he take the chance to reveal them to Jess if she asked like he’s revealed them to me?

After I swallow the sticky chunk of bread and peanut butter and honey, I decide to leave. I can’t sit at this table anymore. I can’t think about Jess and Josh going to the dance together. Dancing together. Jess is probably going to get a gorgeous dress—brand new, sparkling, the perfect color to match her hair and eyes. And me? I think Mom mentioned a thrift clothing store we could try.

It’s not that we’re poor and Jess is rich. It’s just that Mom doesn’t want to spend “unnecessary” money on a dress I’ll wear once. Jess is an only child. Her dad is lawyer, and her mom doesn’t even have to work. She’ll get to have whatever she wants.

Including Josh Mackenzie.


It isn’t long after we headed into the woods that the beam of a flashlight chases after us. We both turn together and find George running to catch up with us. George is a tall guy, but he’s also somewhat skinny, somewhat muscular, so when he runs it kind of looks goofy. Like the kid from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory after he’s stretched out from being tiny. But Mom says we shouldn’t laugh when we see someone run because at least they are running and not sitting on the couch being unhealthy.

“Nothing yet?” George says through hurried breaths. His hair is soaked and I see Mom giving him the side-eye. He’s not even wearing a jacket. He must have been in that much of a hurry to leave the hospital that he forgot.

“I said you didn’t have to come. We’ll find him,” Mom says. She purses her lips together and if she wasn’t holding a flashlight, I bet she would have crossed her arms over her chest too.

George tilts his head slightly to the side. “It’s a slow night. Plus, this is Levi.”

George isn’t always good at showing his emotion. It’s not that he’s a robot, but after working long shifts at the hospital and trying to cram in study time, he’s tired. Most days, he doesn’t even watch TV or read a book; he just goes straight to bed. But the way his voice catches when he says “This is Levi” tells me that he does care. A lot.

Lost and Found Edit 3