For Those of You Who Didn’t See Totality

Image of total solar eclipse

By TJ Lawrence

When you see the sun through eclipse glasses, you see a flat, pale orange disc. As that sliver slowly disappears behind the moon and the very edge of it vanishes, it flares up in certain spots to make miniscule round circles. The next second, they are gone. You can’t see anything anymore, so the glasses come off.

The average reaction to totality is probably something along the lines of whoa.

The moon is a pitch-black disc; a two-dimensional cutout hanging in the sky. It has an otherworldly, three-dimensional halo – the corona of the sun. It shifts and moves as you watch and lights the sky up like a full moon. The corona flares from within with milky white light, shimmering out against the darkness like the moon is radiating fog.

Everything is dark. It’s night in the middle of the day, and overwhelmingly foreign. Some people have brought their dogs, and they have all curled up and gone to sleep. You look around and see the rosy pink hues of sunset cover the clouds like paint, all the way around the horizon. Everyone else’s heads are tilted up at the sky.

The moon and sun are burning in the dark. Faint stars surround them, and Venus glows a little ways to their right. A cloud moves slightly, and suddenly they are out from behind it, twice as brilliant. The corona undulates. It seems almost opalescent. A portal to another world would look like this.

The brightness on one side of the moon thickens. Many pairs of glasses are simultaneously replaced. The tiny beads reappear, speckles of orange in a semicircle, then flare up in one spot as the sun peeks out from behind the moon. Totality is over, but there’s a little more to see.

Shadow snakes are visible against a pale, flat surface. They appear on a pale-colored asphalt parking lot. They are not exactly as “snaky” as advertised. Instead, they take the form of thin, barely perceptible ripples in the intensity of the light on the blacktop, faint zebra stripes of shadow. They race away from you at the pace of a swift jog for about thirty seconds, then vanish.

It’s been about two minutes, thirty seconds. It’s over.

 

 

*This is exactly what I saw. I was in Kingstree, South Carolina, at a really cool gathering of people from up and down the Eastern Seaboard who had come to see the eclipse. The eclipse was spectacular, they had great food, and we met some nice people. Everyone was a bit worried about the clouds, which covered the partial phases a few times, but we saw almost all of totality through clear skies.

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The Joys of NaNoWriMo

 

NaNoWriMo logo

By TJ Lawrence

Now that November is coming up, I’m here to tell you about National Novel Writing Month.  (That’s the NaNoWriMo I referred to above; participants are affectionately called WriMos, and it’s in – you guessed it – November.)

NaNoWriMo is a bit of a challenge.  It requires you to set your own bar high. For adults, 50,000 words in a month is the preset goal.  For people under 18, there is a separate site, where any goal – from just 1,000 words to 100,000 words – can be chosen.  For some, the pressure to reach your goal is stimulating. NaNo definitely encourages commitment.  Commitment to your ideas and your abilities, no matter if you produce a polished novel or 80 double-spaced pages of ‘word vomit’ that you will eventually have to rewrite. (< me)

If you’ve been struggling to write your book/script/fic/etc. on your own, the best thing about NaNoWriMo is that it makes you feel less alone.  There are supportive writers’ chats, places you can get storytelling tips, revision centers… and all of them are full of people who are having problems just like you are.  Wrote your main squad into a corner?  Yeah, somebody else probably stuck them in a lava temple with zombie alligators and forgot the secret exit was blocked.  Just can’t kill someone off? There are dozens of messy, tear-filled posts about dealing with that.  Writer’s block? Every single person on the site has probably been there.  If they already fixed their problem, you can get tips on how to solve your issue.  And if they are still stuck, you may be able to help them, giving you that wonderful, fuzzy good-deed-for-the-day feeling and establishing your ‘blog cred’ as a helpful individual.

NaNoWriMo YWP (the under-18 version) launched a redesigned site in time for November of last year.  It has a cool writing interface that automatically logs your words (make sure to save your work somewhere else too, though) and can bring up writing prompts to get you started for the day.  And you can use the site any month of the year – although November is when the party really gets started.  In addition to help blogs and character workshops, there are also chats about fandoms, roleplays, and additional miscellaneous randomness.  Famous authors (John Green, Lois Lowry, etc.) provide short and extremely encouraging pep talks to keep you going until midnight, Nov. 30.

But NaNoWriMo is just the beginning of your book.  It kick-starts your feeling of accomplishment, of actually getting something done, of creating an entirely new world, character, plot, or whatever you want!  Doing NaNo was worth it for me because I learned to believe in myself and in my imagination.  I will continue writing about Cory and Marie and Dennis and all of my other new characters.  I know who they are, and what they will do, and soon the rest of the world will too.  But the point of NaNoWriMo, for everyone, is that you start.  You try! You are doing it, and there’s no point to hesitation.  After NaNo, you will have more hard work to get through.  But NaNoWriMo lets you know that you can work hard, on time, and create whatever kind of story you put your imagination into.

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Young Writers’ Program

Sonnet No. 1 – The Fighting Sonnet (Part Two)

silhouette of Viking warrior

By tiarshuspendragon

The mage let his head fall into his hands, seriously considering forcing the warrior to take a nap.

However, the bard popped up and squinted against the sun. “You know, I’ve never seen this viking dude, because I was busy buying food while you guys were kicking his butt. So I’m not gonna miss out on the off chance that he actually is – ” The bard’s jaw dropped mid-sentence. “Oh, wow. That guy is more bear than man.”

“Ah, good, so he’s not a hallucination.” The warrior grinned broadly, pleased with himself, as the mage helped him to his feet. As he caught sight of the large man again, he frowned slightly. “Or . . . not good. Not good, because that means he’s here. And wants to attack us.”

“I would want to attack us if I were him. You went a bit over the top with the creative insults,” the mage remarked, giving the warrior a dry look.

The bard snickered. “Now those I heard. But are we going to battle him this time? I have a feeling our main fighter – ” (a pointed look at the warrior) ” – isn’t really up for fighting.”

“I beg to differ!” The warrior bent over, picked up what he must have thought was his sword (it was, in fact, a stick, and not even a very pointy one), and brandished it in front of him. His face went pale from standing up too fast and he swayed on his feet.

The mage grabbed him before he could fall. With a Charismatic Grin™, the warrior slung an arm over his friend’s shoulders for support. “See? I’m perfectly fine. Able bodied warrior, right here.”

“I see what you mean,” the mage replied to the bard, ignoring the protests of the boy he was half carrying by that point. “You and I are distance fighters more than anything, which works best when we have someone else engaging the enemy up close. Unfortunately, our warrior here is the one who performs best in close combat. So I suppose we need a different plan.”

Frowning, the bard watched as Oswalt the Unfriendly Viking Man approached. The overly muscular man seemed to be in no hurry, which only made him all the more intimidating. “Hey – did the insults rile him up enough to make his fighting sloppy?”

“I think so . . .” The mage’s lips pursed as he tried to remember.

“They made him very angry,” the warrior put in smugly. He leaned toward the bard and whispered, “Especially when I made fun of his tiny, adorable battle axe.”

A grin started to form on the bard’s face. “Good, then I have an idea – no, not about the axe, you sleep-deprived weirdo – but you guys are just going to have to trust me and go with it.”

“Done and done.” The mage shifted his weight slightly (the warrior was not exactly light). “Just going with it is our main way of doing things. So what do you need us to do?”

Stooping over, the bard picked up the mage’s bag from the ground. “Well, I’ll be needing this. You should probably put our sleepy friend somewhere – ” (the bard gestured vaguely away from the path) ” – where he’ll be safe, because I’m going to need you, dear mage, to sneak up close to that behemoth. I’ll try to distract him. When he seems angry enough, strike as hard and fast as you can, and then get the heck out of there. Not that I doubt your strength or anything, but I haven’t fought this guy. I don’t know if one hit will bring him down.”

“It may and it may not,” the mage said grimly. “It all depends on whether he’s fully healed from our last encounter. But we’ll figure it out, one way or another.” He moved to duck into the surrounding tall grass, dragging the warrior with him; but before he did, he paused and turned back to the bard. “May I ask how you plan to distract Oswalt?”

The bard only gave him a smirk. “Oh, you’ll hear. I do hope you’ll enjoy the show.”

Julius Caesar: the Immortality Plot

Drawing of bust of Julius Caesar

By fmarie0112

Julius Caesar was a proud, strong and intelligent man. Some might ask, what could he possibly gain by orchestrating his own death? To this question the simple answer is immortality. Just as any great leader would, Caesar wanted to leave a legacy; he wanted to be remembered once he was gone. Caesar had “temporal lobe epilepsy, a progressive disorder resulting in a loss of mental and physical control (including bowel control)” (Hodder). This disorder would have eventually killed Caesar, and having his people witness his slow deterioration would have tarnished the strong self-image he worked so hard to build for himself. Would William Shakespeare have still written a play about him if he was a once undefeated dictator dying slowly of an incurable disease, rather than a powerful conqueror betrayed by his peers? He probably wouldn’t have. Caesar orchestrating a plan to die at the hands of the conspirators made him immortal through the unforgettable legacy he left behind. While this would justify Caesars desire to plan his own assassination, it does not prove that he took the necessary steps to create the plan. Although there are no firsthand accounts indicating that Caesar took part in planning his death, it can be seen through the actions during and leading up to the event that Caesar perfectly set the stage. As previously mentioned, Caesar was an inelegant man, he had to of known about “the impending plot – there have been persistent rumors of it throughout the city. And yet he dismisses his bodyguard and walks alone” (Bursztajn). Rumors had been spreading about the city, it is doubtful that Caesar had no idea that the assassination would be happening. Even knowing that he had men within his city that wanted him dead, he chose to leave his bodyguards outside. Had Caesar not wanted to die, he would have increased the presence of his guards after becoming aware of the threat. Lastly, Caesar changes his will just six months prior to having been killed and this provided insight to his political agenda. By leaving the guards at the door, Caesar created the perfect opportunity for the conspirators to kill him, which would “ensure that his will is honored, and that Octavian will succeed him. By tricking the conspirators onto the wrong side of the law, Caesar ensures that they cannot themselves seize power and that his dynasty will survive” (Bursztajn). In doing this Caesar has become not only immortal through his memory, but also physically through the dynasty he has created. The conspirators, such as Brutus, are the primary people that would have tried to seize power once Caesar had passed. Now that they have killed Caesar, they have become enemies of the state and the people are no longer willing to follow them. Therefor Caesar’s wish for his nephew to rule after him would be granted, seeing as there would no longer be a struggle for power.

The Elementals- book 1 -How it all Started

Image of sphere broken into four elements.

By: sharkgirl25

Chapter Four – Her Bark is Worse than her Bite

“Oh. My. Gosh!” Marina yells in astonishment. “I cannot believe that we have powers!”

“Okay, okay! Calm down, Marina! It’s not like we just won the lottery or something!” Earth says.

“Actually, Earth, it’s just like winning the lottery! Just think of what we can do!” Inferno says.

Earth thinks of the possibilities. Well, she thinks, I can always grow a tree and tie Shatcene the drama queen to it, and then have poison grow out of her sock. And I can make lots of trees grow, so that way the loggers don’t have to cut down the rainforests, and I can turn dry, dead grass into fresh, new green grass! 

“Well… WHO THE POMEGRANATE AM I KIDDING?! THIS IS SO AWESOME!” Earth yells, startling her friends.

Eliza walks by, and purposefully knocks Earth to the ground, shoving Inferno and Marina as well. When Earth’s hands touch the ground, two flowers pop up. She realizes what she did and points her hand toward Eliza’s feet, and poison ivy slinks its way up her leg, tightening its grip. She goes to take another step, and falls, smearing mud all over her pink dress.

“Auuuuuugghhhhh!” she screams, realizing that poison ivy was holding her down, and that she got mud smeared along the front of her new dress.

Vines wrap around her, pinning her to the ground, which Earth had coated with a fresh layer of mud. Earth, still on the ground, laughs so much she turns into a hyena. Earth the hyena rolls on the ground, laughing, and then springs up and runs circles around Eliza, laughing. Inferno and Marina stare at Eliza, who is on the ground, struggling, and then at Earth the hyena, who is running circles around Eliza, still laughing. Marina can’t stand Earth’s laughing, and Eliza’s screams, so she yells,

“STOP! IT’S TOO ANNOYING!”

Earth changes back into a girl, but still has a hyena tail. The vines and poison disappear, and so does the mud on her dress. Earth’s hyena tail vanishes, and she stands up, saying,

“What. The pomegranate. Just. Happened?”

Eliza stands up and says,

“Ewww! What was I doing on the ground?! And why are you guys here? Get out of my way!” She walks away, clearly having no memory of the previous events. Earth, however, remembers it all.

“One thing’s for sure,” Marina says.

“What’s that?” Inferno asks.

“Earth’s bark is worse than her bite!”

Earth laughs. “Depends on what type of tree it is!”

 

Horror Story #2

Image result for creepy hospital room

By: shreythemockingjay36

I’m 15 years old and am visiting my grandfather at the hospital. This is his deathbed because he just had a stroke and is 91 years old. I didn’t know him very well.

I walk into the room and my mother is holding his hand. “I need to talk to him alone, sweetie” he says to my mom. “How’s it going kiddo?” He asks. “Why do you need to talk to me alone” I ask in suspicion. ” I need to tell you something that I’m not very proud of but it’s very important” he says. At this point I thought he was on some sort of drug to help him live.

He continues “It was 1965 and I was living in New Orleans. I committed a terrible crime and got caught. I was in my prison cell, when I remembered some sort of spell I heard in the streets.” He says “This is totally-” I’m cut of by a sharp high pitched sound. “We don’t have much time!” My grandpa says. “I chanted Eruzlie Zink over and over. Then a large amount of smoke and a very tall and slim ugly thing comes out of it. His face was very disturbing and had dark red eyes, no nose and very sharp teeth. He grinned at me” he says. ” Next thing I knew I was out of my prison cell and in the parking lot right outside.

He was right next to me, grinning and said in a deep and disturbing voice ” Everything comesss with a priceee”. Then he disappeared, until the stroke, he was there and he said ” You’re grandson will pay the price of your freedom,” He finished. When I was about to ask him what he meant, his heart monitor went to a straight line. A long perpetual beeping noise filled the air. I ran to get my mom and the doctor said there’s nothing they can do.

As I walked into the room to see him for the last time, I realized my grandfather had red in his eyes!

The Elementals – book 1- How it all Started

Related image

By: sharkgirl25

Chapter Three – The Discovery

In social studies it happens again, except this time a tree sprouts up out of the ground, knocking the teacher’s desk over.  Earth knows that it has something to do with all the chaos six years ago. Social studies class had to be stopped because of the whole tree incident, so the students had an extra twenty-five minutes of break time. That means more time to figure this whole plant growing situation out! Earth thinks. Inferno grabs Earth’s arm and drags her over to a tree.

“Tell me Earth, did anything happen at school those six years we were apart?” Inferno asks.

“No! At least, not that I noticed…” Earth replies. “Wait a second! I ran through a tree, and got this green stripe. You banged your head on a lava rock and your hair turned half red. Marina touched a mysterious rock at the bottom of her pool, and now the tip of her hair is turquoise. Inferno, stretch out your hand toward that patch of dead grass.”

Inferno reaches her hand out and concentrates on the grass. Her eyes start to turn a deep red-orange, and her hand becomes an orange color. Red sparks fly from her hand and light the grass on fire. Inferno jumps back in surprise, grabbing Earth’s arm.

“Ouch! That burns!” Earth claims when Inferno grabs her arm.

“Sorry,” Inferno says.

“Marina!” Earth calls, “Point your hand toward the fire!”

Marina does and soon, her eyes glow turquoise, and her hand glows blue. A burst of water shoots out of her hand, drenching the fire. Earth reaches her hand out, aiming at the patch of dead grass, and imagines a tree shooting out of the ground. Earth’s eyes become more green than ever, and her hand glows green. Green light bursts out of Earth’s hand. The ground begins to rumble and shake, and a huge oak tree shoots out of the ground. It’s leaves brush Earth’s fingertips, and the bark has a sweet smell to it. Earth stares in amazement, wondering how she just grew a tree. She aims her hand at the ground, and a flower pops up. She moves her hand in a circle, and a ring of mushrooms spring up out of the ground. Marina stretches her hand out and a pool of water begins to form. Inferno is busy… setting the ground on fire.

“Marina! Fire over on patch of grass number 127!” Earth calls to Marina.

“I’m on it!” Marina says as she runs over to where Inferno is standing, gleefully setting the grass on fire.

Marina quickly shoots water onto the fire, drenching it.

“Hey! That was my fire!” Inferno yells.

“Guys! Calm down!” Earth says. “Do you even know what this means?!”

Inferno and Marina stare at her with blank expressions, clearly unaware of what it means.

“It means,” Earth starts, “That we have powers!”