Night at Sasquatch Amusement Park

Entering an old, abandoned mansion in the dead of night seems like the typical beginning to a story where the characters get chased by a ghost and regret their decisions. But in this case, we were entering an old, abandoned amusement park and a ghost was the last creature I expected to find.

You see, my friends and I were searching for a sasquatch. Or in other words, Bigfoot. The giant, furry animal supposedly didn’t exist, but everyone in our town knew there was something fishy about this “Sasquatch Amusement Park.” That wasn’t the park’s real name, but after its shutdown over ten years ago, the nickname had spread from one person to the next until everyone called it that.

I could understand the name as I stopped at the rusted gate of the amusement park. My two friends, the daredevils Luke and Josh, had evil grins on their faces as they looked around the area.

The rickety wooden roller coaster loomed above us, blocking the moonlight from shining on us. The wind howled and the gate swung open, creaking ominously.

I got the feeling I was in a story. “Uh, guys, there’s a reason they closed this place down. It’s dangerous.”

Josh looked at me, raising his eyebrows. “Dangerous is my middle name. I know the tales are true. There’s an angry sasquatch living here and I’m going to find it.”

He started walking through the gate and Luke followed him.

I looked around myself nervously and spotted a sign that read “NO TRESPASSING.” I hoped my mother never found out about this.

Sasquatch or no sasquatch, this place had to be crawling with creatures that I didn’t want to come in contact with. Like spiders.

“Come on, Ryan!” my friends called from somewhere in the dark. “You’re missing out! Whoa, that is so cool!

I glanced up at the roller coaster one last time. Everyone always said the sasquatch lived on top of it, looking over the city, waiting for revenge. I guess we humans had built the amusement park on top of his land, and of course he was upset about it.

I could safely leave now, but I’d only find out if the stories were true or not if I entered the park.

Hey, at least I love stories about haunted mansions and paranormal creatures. If anything happened, I’d know what to do, right? I’m not the kind of person to run into dangerous situations unprepared…

I stepped into the park carefully. Nothing happened. I walked towards the sound of my friends’ voices.

Now, I’m guessing you’ve never heard a sasquatch howl before, unless maybe you’re a ghost. But I had never heard it before, until I stepped into Sasquatch Amusement Park.

The battle cry that split the night sent a wave of terror through me. And the fact that it came from the top of the roller coaster told me I had been in a scary story all along, and I had made the same mistake that everyone else does.


The Lights of the City

(This is a short story I entered in a contest for San Antonio’s tricentennial. I had a ton of fun writing it. This actually happened it me and it’s mostly true, but I changed a couple little things to fit the story line better! I hope you enjoy reading it.)

Finding my way through an enormous, crowded area always makes me nervous. I walked through the attractions of Six Flags Fiesta, while the moon rose up into the night sky.

I was lost. There were so many people walking past me, and I was not sure where I was, even though I had been walking around the park all day.

It was my first time coming to this amusement park because I had just moved to San Antonio. I liked it here, but it still felt a little strange and unfamiliar.

My parents were waiting in line for the Batman ride, but I had been afraid it would make me dizzy, so I had decided to go find a different ride to experience.

I began to think leaving had been a mistake. Now that I had wandered through the park, I forgot exactly how to get back to the Batman ride, even though I could see it. This place was like a labyrinth.

The speakers around me boomed with music and I could feel the pulse within me. The tempting aroma of fresh popcorn made me want to pull the cash out of my pocket and buy myself a snack.

The atmosphere hummed with excitement as kids ran around and teenagers played the carnival games. Everyone I passed had a smile on his or her face. No one was lost, except me.

On second thought, I should have brought a map with me. Maybe I should ask an employee for help, I thought.

It normally didn’t bother me to be alone while walking around an area. But when I was in Six Flags and I couldn’t see very much due to the darkness, I found myself regretting my decision to leave my family.

I looked around at all the bright lights of the rides and shops. One of the rides caught my attention. It was the swing ride, called Sky Screamer. My family and I had passed it several times that day and I had wanted to ride it, but each time we had been heading to a different ride.

Now was my chance to go try it out.

I walked through the gate. The line looped back and forth like a giant snake waiting for the ride. I would have to wait quite a while to get on, but I didn’t mind. It gave me time to figure out what I’d do after the ride was over. I would have to either ask a worker for directions or call my parents for help, which I definitely didn’t want to do.

Although I was still a little nervous, my favorite song started playing on the speakers and I forgot about my worries. I tapped my foot to the beat and lip-synced the lyrics.

The line continued to move slowly, but after a half hour or so, it was my turn to ride.

A ring of seats surrounded the thick, metal tower. I chose my seat quickly and sat down to buckle myself in.

I swung my feet back and forth. I couldn’t wait to see the view at the very top of the ride. Everything would look so tiny.

Another girl walked up to the swings. She looked about the same age as me. “May I sit here?” she asked, pointing to the seat right next to me.

“Of course,” I answered.

She set down a black backpack with a smiley face emoji on it.

“I like your bag,” I said.

The girl smiled brightly. “Thanks!” She buckled herself into the seat. A man walked around checking everyone’s buckles.

The girl looked over at me. “Are you from around here or are you visiting?” she asked.

“Actually, I just moved here,” I replied.

“Oh, I think you’ll love it in San Antonio,” she said. “I’ve lived here most of my life and it’s awesome. There’s always something new to learn about it.”

The ride started and it lifted us into the air. As we rose, the ride started to spin. At first it was slow, but it accelerated until I felt like I was flying over the theme park.

I grinned as the wind whipped around me. Everything on the ground grew small as we ascended.

It only took a few moments to reach the very top. Although the sky was black, I could see hundreds of dazzling lights spread out around us. They stretched for as far as the eye could see, like a sea of polka dots. The headlights and taillights of cars driving across the city created a river-like flow below us.

“Whoa, that’s so cool!” I exclaimed.

“I know, right?” the girl said. “This is my favorite ride to go on at night. It’s like you can see the whole city.”

Not only that, but the whole theme park flashed and glowed, too. Together, all of it made for an impressive scene. I wanted to stay up there forever and watch all the shining lights. I stared at them, amazed. I felt as if each of the lights was a new opportunity. Who knew what would happen in my time living in San Antonio? I smiled.

I continued to watch the glittering lights until the ride began to descend.

I turned to the girl. “Well, it was fun to ride with you! That was an amazing view.”

“Yeah,” she agreed, smiling. “It was wonderful to meet you.”

“You too.”

The ride slowed, but before it came to a stop, I had an idea. “Hey, how do you get to the Batman ride?” I asked.

The girl gave me directions to the ride and I listened carefully. Once she was done, I said, “Thanks so much! Have fun the rest of the night!”

She grinned. “I will. Thanks!”

I walked through the gate and skipped in the direction she had told me to go.

I wasn’t lost anymore.

As I headed to go find my family, I knew one thing: I would never forget that moment at the top of the swings, when I made a friend and we looked out on all of San Antonio’s sparkling lights.

The ride had been short, but the sight it had given me had shifted my perspective on San Antonio. It wasn’t an unfamiliar place anymore. It was a land where I could make new friends and my dreams could come to life. It was a city to explore and learn about. The lights had shown me the beauty of the San Antonio.

I had found my new home.

Guide to Writing Interesting Stories ~ My Writing Process

It can be HARD to write books. Especially when you’re alone in the process. I know that.

I spent many, many months editing super rough drafts that made me want to quit, and many more hours trying to find a process that would work for me.

I finally found it. Although it took awhile, it was totally worth it, because this process is fun and helps me come up with ideas I love so I can plow through the first draft and move on to editing with a clear goal in mind.

Now I want to share my process with other writers so they can find tips and tricks that work for them!

I hope these new blog posts help you create stories you love. There is nothing better than holding up a completed book that YOU wrote.

If you are ready to get working on that book, do it! Find fun interesting ways to work and that will help you to never give up.

(Note: Every writer is different. If there is a trick I show in this blog series that does not work for you, skip it! I want to help you write a great story and help you find a process that works for YOU. If you find a trick that you love, share it with other writers you know! We’re all in this together.)

#NaNo2017 Everyone is a Winner

In honor of NaNoWriMo 2017, I thought I would write a post about what happened last month. Yesterday, thousands of writers finished their novels that they have been working on for thirty days, which makes me very happy.

What I love about NaNo is that I never fail to learn something new, no matter how many words I write. I’ll explain what I learned last month in a moment, but first I want to explain what NaNoWriMo is to any who haven’t heard about it.

National Novel Writing Month

This is a free writing program that takes place every November. Writers are encouraged to write 50,000 words during these thirty days, and this can prove a difficult challenge.

Of course, the real goal for writers participating in NaNo is to get words down on the page, so if you have more words than you did before the month started, that makes you a winner!

However, it can be difficult to embrace this at the end of November when you see people all around you celebrating their completed first drafts and you only have a fraction the number of words they have.

My Experience With NaNo2017

I started this month wildly unprepared, despite the fact I had already created a skeletal outline, which I didn’t have last year. In 2016, my first NaNoWriMo, I had a beginning, an end, and not much else. I still made it to 50,000 words.

This year, I started out strong, but eventually, I ran out of steam and fell 15,000 words behind. The problem was, during October, I had completed the second draft of my first NaNo novel, and boy was that a nightmare.

Since I was exhausted from that and needed a break, I quit writing my NaNo2017 novel. That just made me feel guilty, which wasn’t helping anything.

A week ago, I decided I would start an outline for a new novel that I was excited about. That worked well for me, and now I have a stack of scenes on index cards, waiting to be written.

This month I learned that without an outline, I don’t enjoy writing as much. I either end up writing the first draft three times or I throw in the towel halfway through it.

I’m excited to see how writing a (very) detailed outline will work for my next novel, and I’m glad I chose to write an outline instead of finish my novel. That will give me time to brainstorm more scenes for the middle of the story, plus, I’m already quite prepared for my next story!

Every Word Counts

In the end, even if you only reach half your word count goal, as long as you wrote an exciting scene or a descriptive paragraph that you love, you accomplished a great thing. Even if all you did was read a book or an article about writing, and you learned a tip that helped you in your writing journey, in my book, you’re a winner!

The Shifters’ End Synopsis

One Innocent Prank = One Disaster = The Shapeshifters’ End

A fox called Peony is known as “the Queen of Pranks,” and it helps that she has the ability to shape shift. After her friends play a prank on her, she vows to come up with the greatest prank to end all pranks. Peony and her other two Shapeshifters plan a party on top of Jagged Mountains, where they will scare her other friends. But when that time comes, and they jump out at the normal animals, a rumbling in the ground knocks them all over, and Peony sees a monster rock slide heading down the mountain right towards them. She switches into a bird and flies out of the way of the avalanche, but several animals freeze in place or can’t get away. Her friends watch in alarm as the avalanche thunders down the mountain, but they can’t do a thing to stop it. Later, one of the three rulers of the land, Protector Ashstorm, wrongly blames the avalanche on Peony and her friends, saying the Shapeshifters have a secret plan to take over the world, and remove all the animals without magic from the land. To her horror, animals start believing the Protector, and with every passing day, Peony finds it harder to climb out of the mess she’s made. She has to fight to show the normal animals the truth, or die as a mistakenly accused traitor.

Autumn Butterfly

(NOTE: This story was originally published on Short Fiction Break. This is an excerpt. The link to the rest of the story is at the bottom.)

A mysterious thrill always swept through Ellie whenever she skipped through the woods with her sister. It left her breathless. The leaves waved down at her and the birds greeted her. She felt like the princess of the forest, the one who took care of any animal or plant that needed it. To her, this place always felt magical, and she wanted to share that feeling with other people, too.

But this trip to the woods was different.

She had not planned on finding her favorite birch tree sprawled out against the nearby trees, hovering only a few inches above the ground. Neither had she planned on finding her flower garden that surrounded the tree torn and smashed. It was a perfect fall day after all. Brown, gold, and crimson leaves piled up around her and water trickled through the small creek beside them.

Ellie stood frozen next to her older sister, Rose, and stared at the tree. She had the strange feeling that it must all be a dream. Her tree couldn’t have fallen down. Not her tree.

The girl walked to the base of the white, ashy trunk and brushed her fingers across its soft bark. It was slightly damp, as if it had been soaked only a few hours ago, and it hadn’t dried out yet.

“What happened?” she whispered, tears welling in her eyes. “Why did the tree fall?”

Rose walked up next to her. “I guess it died. I knew it was old, and the storm last night must have been too much for it… I’m sorry.” She wrapped her arms around Ellie, but it didn’t make her feel any better.

“I loved this tree though!”

“I know.” Rose met her eyes. “Do you know who planted it?”

Ellie shook her head numbly.

“Grandma did. She planted it many years ago, watched it grow and shape into the tree you know and love. Then you took care of it.”


“Yes. She planted it with the intention of others enjoying it. You could do the same thing. Instead of this being the end of a tree, it could be the beginning of a dream.”

Ellie watched the tree. It swayed slightly in the wind. Crumpled petals broke off their plants and drifted to the wood’s floor. Despite her sister’s attempt to comfort her, tears started to roll down her cheeks. “But the tree still fell. And I don’t know how to grow a tree. They can be harder than other plants.”

“I’m sure you’ll figure it out. You’re the best at taking care of plants. Whenever I try to grow anything, it always dies.”

Ellie paused a second to think about that. She still wasn’t sure about the idea.

(Link to the rest of the story:

A Scarlet Vision

It started with a flicker. A little flame that wavered in the breeze. But that wisp of bright light wasn’t to stay small for long. It wrapped its way around a tree, sparking the dead leaves scattered about, and crept up the old, rotten oak. It only took a few moments, and soon, a whole forest was on fire.

Who had started that little flame? Had it been an accident? Had it been on purpose?

The blazing monster ripped through towns and cities, forests and prairies, hills and valleys, not letting a single strip of land escape its fury.

Animals couldn’t escape either. The creatures of the land ran from the fire as fast as they could, but it quickly encased them and they were no more.

It didn’t take long before the beautiful land was black with ash and covered in debris.

There were no glittering villages in the night, nor acres full of an array of colors from the vibrant flowers that grew there. The stars didn’t shine, for the cloud of smoke had choked away their light. Only the lonely sounds of the wind grieving the lost of a great land filled the night.

And it all started with a flicker. A small flame that knew its power, and unleashed it on the land.

Who had started it?

The Power in Paint

A few months ago, I entered a short story contest. I didn’t win, but I ended up with an awesome story that I’m proud of. I know that every time I complete a story, I become a better writer, whether it wins a prize or not. Writing this story was worth every second.

The Power in Paint

When I am with my best friend, art class is amazing, but when the teacher assigns partners, I’m in trouble.

Please, put me with one of my friends, I think. PLEASE.

Mrs. Sirico calls out, “Taylor and Olivia.”

I frown. The teacher is putting me with Olivia? Is this some kind of punishment?

“I have one canvas for each group,” Mrs. Sirico tells the class, “so you’re going to share supplies and take turns painting. When it’s not your turn, you can give the other person ideas.”

Olivia comes over, grabs some acrylic paints, and starts setting up our canvas. She opens a pack of paint-splattered brushes.

I roll up my sleeves, not wanting to ruin my new blouse.

Olivia asks, “What should we paint?”

I shrug. I don’t want to paint anymore. I watch as two of my friends become partners.

I pretend like I am busy brainstorming a picture when I’m really watching the clock ticking towards 2:30 so I can be the first out the door.

I kick my legs back and forth and let out an exasperated sigh.

Turning to look at the canvas, I see that Olivia is painting what looks like the structure of a house. She strokes layers of browns and grays across the canvas.

I do not like those colors.

I scoot closer to look at the painting. Right now it doesn’t look like much. Just a house without a sky.

Mrs. Sirico is strolling closer to us, looking at pictures, so I lean on Olivia’s chair and watch her smear yellowish paint to create a driveway.

“You want to add something?” she asks.

“Not really. I paint all the time.” That’s not true, but it’s the first excuse I come up with. Mrs. Sirico passes by, looking pleased.

I look back at my best friend, who is chatting and laughing. I wish I were having fun like her.

I glance over at Olivia, who’s adding purple to a little flower garden around the house. She dabs white flowers around the purple ones too. When I look closer, I see they are pansies.

I admit, only to myself, that she is actually a skilled painter. She adds subtle details and they make the painting come alive.

I can’t keep my eyes off the canvas as Olivia strokes red and orange into the sky.

It’s a sunset, I realize.

The colors are curving, and she brushes a sun vanishing behind the serene mountains in the distance. I wonder who owns the yellow house.

I notice that Olivia is starting to paint slower and her eyes are wistful.

She picks up the brown acrylic paint and squeezes it onto her palette. Taking her brush, she outlines a bench and fills it in. On it, she paints two people (one woman with gray hair and a girl that looks like herself) sitting next to each other, watching the sun disappear.

I turn to look at her. Her face is expressionless.

“Is that your house?”

She shakes her head. “It belongs to my grandma.”

Before I can say anything else, Mrs. Sirico claps her hands. “Class, it’s time to wrap up. Clean up your area. Decide – nicely – who gets to take the art home.”

Olivia says, “Um, Taylor, can I take it home? I want to give it to someone…”

Now I’m a bit embarrassed. I didn’t help paint. The teacher would be furious.

“You painted it,” I concede. “Who are you going to give it to?” I don’t know why I’m curious.

“My grandmother. She’s…in the hospital. She needs a reminder of home.”

I can’t help but stare at her. The painting is amazing. If I had painted that, I would keep it forever. But then it hits me what she had said.

“Oh. Your grandma’s in a hospital? I’m…sorry. Is she ok?”

She shrugs. We quietly clean together for a few minutes.

Strangely, I’m starting to like this girl. She is nice and thoughtful. I’ve never paid any attention to her before.

When we’re finished, I say, “I hope your grandma gets better.” I pause. “You’re a fantastic painter. You should enter the school art contest. Maybe you’d win.”

She lights up. “Oh, thanks. I don’t know if I would win though…”

I shoulder my backpack and head towards the door, with Olivia close behind.

I’ll probably never admit it, but I loved art class today. I think I’ll go do a nice thing for someone, because of what Olivia did.

I smile. Who knew a painting had the power to spread kindness?

Ellette’s Desire

Lately I’ve been reading posts by The Write Practice. They have amazing advice and challenges for writing. One of their recent posts had a challenge to write a story in 140 characters or less (one tweet). I was skeptical and didn’t think my story would be any good, but I took the challenge anyway, and it turned out pretty well! The character is from The Animal Realm War, and is a friend of the main character, Shade. She plays a roll in each of the books. But anyway, here is the (super) short story I wrote:

Ellette’s Desire

Ellette worried about the mess of the world. She wanted to fix her mistake. But she couldn’t. The only thing she could do was watch.