Friday, September 28, 2012

Expressions (Part 1)

Last night, I was slaving the hours away editing, when I realized I needed a better way for Altair to express his emotions. Over and over again, I use "furrows his brow" or "glances down at the ground". It get's so repetitive.

So, I looked up "nonverbal communication." I learned so many cool new things! There's quite a lot of science that goes into human behavior and it's fascinating!

Facial Expression

They're responsible for a lot of nonverbal communication. Think about how much you can tell about a person by seeing their expression. According to Wikipedia (search key: facial expression), there are seven universally recognized expressions. These are: fear, surprise, anger, contempt, disgust, happiness and sadness.

Here's a link to a list with 100 facial expressions. Though describing them is definitely more difficult than naming them.

But facial expressions aren't the only type of nonverbal communication. Another is gestures.


There's more to gestures than waving, or pointing. When you really think about it, there are tons of them that a person makes every day without noticing! They allow people to communicate emotions and feelings alongside verbal communication.

For a list of gestures, click the link.


This is another type of nonverbal communication. It refers to personal space, and relates to the comfort a person feels with someone a certain distance away from them.

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

If a person you know well enters your personal space, you might smile, or reach out to hug them. Coming from them, the entering of your personal space is a sign of friendliness. Something you welcome.

But if someone you don't know well enters your personal space, you'll probably feel much less comfortable. If it's someone you have a crush on, your heart-rate can go up. You tend to blink faster when your nervous.

If the person entering your personal space is someone you despise, then entering your personal space can be considered a threat.

Reading a person's feelings depends a lot on nonverbal communication. But my problem remains... what if a person is trying to fake certain emotions? And what if they're good at it?

Anyway, this post could be really long if I tried to tell you about other forms of expression today. But I'll be back on Monday :)

Have a great weekend!


My sister Alyssa is competing in a skating competition tomorrow. Please head over to her blog and wish her luck!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Your Star

So I've been thinking a lot about my characters lately.

In my first draft of From the Ashes, all of my characters were really flat. They had no histories, no connections, and very little life. They were characters in a story, and that's all.

What did I do to fix this? Or at least make it better?

Multiple things, actually.

First thing I did was make a 'cast'. If my book were a movie, who would my ideal cast be? It was really fun (and time consuming) to find people who'd work, but I finally settled on the top four.

Okay, now since I'm paranoid about being sued for using someone else's pictures (it happened to Roni Loren) unfortunately I can't just post them.

But here are the four Main Characters and who would ideally play them:

Jenn Proske as Jaina Indera (MC)

Matt Lanter as Altaïr Kasev (MC)

Taylor Lautner as Azad Viraak (Antagonist)

Logan Lerman as Liam Rodan (Supporting Character)

So those are my top four. By the way, the link leads directly to a picture, and it's pretty much exactly what I imagined them to look like. Still haven't settled on the 'perfect' Jaina, though. (Any suggestions?)

Anyway, that's the first thing I did.

Second, I wrote a backstory for each and every one of them. Not just those four. I mean like, all twelve important to important-ish characters in Book 1.

But of course I couldn't just stop there.

I had to make backstories for people that show up in Book 2 and 3, and sometimes for people who don't show up at all! Like Azad's dad...

I wrote so much about each person in fact, I think I could write a whole novel about most of them. (There's an idea!)

And, since I love music so much, I chose a song (or a few) to go with certain people.

The one I'm currently obsessed with is one that totally describes my Antagonist. He lost something very important to him in his past and it made him the 'bad guy' he is.

The song is called Your Star. Yes, of course it's by Evanescence!

The video has the lyrics in it so if you're not good at hearing the words, you can read it.

Do you guys have trouble making your character realistic? Have you written backstories for your characters? Have you chosen an ideal cast? Share your thoughts!

Happy Wednesday!



Check THIS out if you want something to post about today! It's really fun :)

What Are You Waiting For? Blogfest!

This blogfest is being hosted by Fairbetty because she recently reached 100 followers! So please head over to her blog to congratulate her!

Here is her prompt:

I really love flash fiction, so in 300 words or less, tell me about a character you are writing (or make one up) who faces a choice... and have him/her flip a coin to make a decision.

And here's my entry at exactly 296 words:

The air was cold against his skin.

Almost painful.

It didn’t bother him, though. He was used to pain. Used to yearning only for what he knew he could never regain.

She was gone. Rasha was gone, and he knew why. Azad knew all too well who was responsible for her death. All that mattered now was how to deal with him.

Darkness surrounded Azad, the only light was that of the moon shining through his window. The gun in his hand was heavy. He’d considered trying it on himself now and then. It would be so easy, lifting the barrel to his head and pulling the trigger, but something always stopped him. His paranoid servant would knock on the door to tell him she thought someone broke into the house, or the gun simply didn’t work...

Always something.

If the universe wanted him to live, to suffer with his grief, so be it. He’d live as long as the universe needed him to. As long as he had something worth fighting for.

Right now, that happened to be Rasha.

Azad was going to make the man who killed her pay.

All that was left was to decide how to do that.

He took out the coin in his pocket and examined both sides. The less time the man was alive, the better. Azad’s problem would be solved much faster that way. But shouldn’t he suffer? The man should be made to feel all the pain in the world.

“Heads, I’ll kill you,” he said to himself. “Tails, I make you suffer.”

Azad flipped the coin.

It spun in the air for a second or two, yet Azad knew what he wanted now.

The coin landed.


Azad smiled. “Looks like I’m in luck. You’ll suffer.”


Hope you enjoyed it! And you can still participate! Just head over to Fairbetty's Blog and sign up!

Have a great day :)


Friday, September 21, 2012



You heard me.


If you're not a follower of my mom or my sister, or missed their posts about our trip to California, read on!

We went to California at the beginning of September for a family vacation, so I'm sorry for not posting about it sooner! The reason I didn't was because both my mom and sister were posting about it too, and just hate being repetitive.

Anyway, here are some pictures:

Sea Kayaking in Monterey

Monterey Bay

Lake in Yosemite

At the foot of El Capitan

Tunnel View

Stanford University :)

So, those are pretty much all of the places we went! We LOVED it! And... now I really want to go to Stanford. Most beautiful college campus in the world!

By the way, the pictures are prettier if you click on them :)

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Much Ado About (my) Queries

Good morning, lovlies!

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately and planning out book 3, but I feel like I'm not quite getting it right. Maybe it's just because it's my first draft of an outline, and I can't see it clearly enough in my head.

But since it's supposed to be the last book in my series, I feel like the ending has to be PERFECT. If it's not, I'm not sure if my characters would ever forgive me for it.

The one problem is, I've got like seven different ways I could end it, and they all sound like a good ideas to me! (No, I'm not going to tell you any of them :)

Also, I entered Deana Barnhart's Agent Pitch Contest. I'm so lucky I actually made it into that! Anyway, I'm getting lots of feedback.

The funny thing is, I can't tell if it's good or bad feedback.

My query isn't exactly a traditional query, but everyone's saying they like it. Someone mentioned that I didn't reveal much of the plot though, so I guess that's something I have to change. I also realized that everyone wants to meet my MC, Jaina, in my first 150 words.

Yes, I know all about the prologue discussion.

But my book has a prologue!

It takes place 10 years before the bulk of the story begins, and it's from Jaina's handsome love interest's point of view. And in the end, I think it works for the story. Then again, what do I know? I'm not an editor!

If you guys want to take a look at it, check out my Query: Rise: From the Ashes page. If you have any comments or suggestions, I'd be more than happy to hear them!

Anyway, have a great day!


I got a MacBook Pro with Retina Display for my birthday :) Thanks for all the awesome birthday comments on Friday!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Genre Favorites Blogfest and KOMF #7 Winners!

Okay, I wasn't going to participate in this, but... I decided to anyway :)

The rules are:

List your favorite genre of:
And guilty pleasure genre from any of the three categories!

Favorite Movie Genre: Sci-Fi

Fell in love with Star Wars when I was five, and haven't gotten over it since! It made me dream and wonder about space, the vastness of the universe, and exploring other worlds. I mean, really. How much more awesome does it get?

Favorite Music Genre: Rock

Four years ago, when I was in 6th grade, I came across a video on youtube of people skiing. Over the sound of the video was a song called Bring Me to Life by Evanescence, and I just loved it. I've expanded to Red, Within Temptation, Nightwish, Krypteria and Epica ever since then! The above song is one of my favorites :)

Favorite Book Genre: Dystopian/Sci-Fi

The Hunger Games really introduced me to Dystopian. I really love the concept of imperfect worlds opposed to perfect ones. (Although, what world is really perfect?) Of course, Star Wars had already introduced me to Sci-Fi, and I read a lot of Star Wars books.

Guilty Pleasure Genre: Comedy

No comedy movies are coming to mind at the moment, but I like watching shows like Gilligans Island. Mostly because they're not very thought provoking and I can write while I watch. And my brother loves that show, so everyone's happy :)


For those who participated in this month's Knights of MicroFiction, the winners are:

Kathy and I will be contacting the winners as soon as possible! Thanks for participating!

Happy Monday!


Saturday, September 15, 2012


Here's the prompt:

Kathy and I are giving you 5 TELLING sentences to choose from.  The object is to pick a sentence and create a scene in 500 words or less that SHOWS what the sentence is about.

For bonus points, don't include the sentence you chose (or any alteration of it) in your scene. Your readers should be able to guess which one you described!

Here are the sentences to choose from:
  • It was the most interesting birthday ever.
  • He/she's so obnoxious.  
  • It was dark.
  • The meal was delicious.
  • He/she was in a bad mood.
Okay, here's my entry!

The sky grows darker, and the surrounding trees bend in toward us. The light of day begins to fade.
“You okay?” His voice startles me from my thoughts and I look up at him. Desmond’s lips are pressed tightly together, and his face is woven with pain.
A spark lights within me, wanting me to forgive him. But I can’t. I don’t respond and turn to look at the trees.
He sighs. “I’m sorry.”
“You should be,” I snap, suddenly fighting back tears. “You lied to me. How could you?”
His footsteps crunch softly on the leafy ground, growing louder. “It was for your safety.”
I whip around to face him. “When isn’t it about my safety!? I’ll be just fine.”
He’s closer to me than I expect. Desmond reaches out and touches my arm, but I jerk away.
“Don’t touch me.”
Desmond swallows hard and clenches his jaw tight. “You know I’d do anything for you, Alira.”
“Why don’t you trust me?” I ask.
“I trust you with my life.”
I grit my teeth and push him backward. “No you don’t. Now leave me alone.”


Definitely not my best, but I hope you enjoyed it!

Here are the other entries, so go check theirs out!

Have a great day!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Sweet Sixteen :) and KOMF #7

Happy Friday, everyone!

I'm really excited about this weekend because my SIXTEENTH BIRTHDAY is tomorrow!!!! YAY!!!

No, I haven't taken drivers ed yet so I can't quite get my licence. But that's okay :)

What I'm REALLY hoping for is a...


But they're ridiculously expensive so by asking for one of ^ these, I'm really trying my luck.

(A few new followers would be nice, too :) )

Also, I thought I should inform you that last month was my first blogaversary! I totally forgot about it until now, haha. It just hasn't felt like it's been a full YEAR since I started blogging!

Anyway, it's time for another round of the Knights of MicroFiction! Check out the Knights of MicroFiction page for more info.

Here's the prompt:

Kathy and I are giving you 5 TELLING sentences to choose from.  The object is to pick a sentence and create a scene in 500 words or less that SHOWS what the sentence is about.

For bonus points, don't include the sentence you chose (or any alteration of it) in your scene. Your readers should be able to guess which one you described!

Here are the sentences to choose from:
  • It was the most interesting birthday ever.
  • He/she's so obnoxious.  
  • It was dark.
  • The meal was delicious.
  • He/she was in a bad mood.
Have fun, and good luck! You may post your entry today, or tomorrow, but no later than 11:59 (on the 15th.) Kathy and I will each choose a winner by the 17th.

Good luck!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pitch Polish (late, once again)

Good morning, everyone! Hope you're week is going great so far!


Participating in Dena Barnhart's awesome GUTGAA Pitch Polish bloghop today! I'm not exactly sure if the participants are still going around to other people's posts, but hopefully you guys can help me out with my query a little bit?

Anyway, here it is!

MY NAME: Jessica K. McKendry
GENRE: YA Sci-Fi/Dystopian
WORD COUNT: 116,000


Those who are strong are chosen at birth. They are the gifted.

Trained to be highly skilled physically and mentally, they have the potential to become Superiors. They could live out their lives in the Crystal City, the richest, and by far the most beautiful city in the galaxy. But Superiority demands a deadly price.

To gain the title, they must survive the Trials.

Jaina Indera has been training at a Gifted School for sixteen years, waiting for her moment to prove herself worthy of competing in the Trials. Those who don't succeed will be marked as Inferior.

Yet being selected as a competitor is only the beginning. Each school sends a team of eight students to compete in a battle of challenges against other Gifted Schools around the galaxy.

Not all will survive.

In a world where mercy is a weakness, and only the ruthless prevail, Jaina must discover who she is and what she's really fighting for.


Altair raced through the jungle trees. His heart pounded so hard against his ribs it hurt. His legs wanted to give out. Every breath he took was strained, but he forced himself forward. He only had a little ways to go.

The edge of the jungle came into view, and he charged out into the open. White Tarnoshian marble buildings surrounded the courtyard, towering over him like giants.

A bell rang. Students rushed into the courtyard. The setting sun made the fountain in the center look gold.

Touching the cool stone of the fountain, Altair stopped to catch his breath. When his opponent ran into view, he smiled.

"I won!" he cried.

"Only because you're two years older," Liam protested between gasps. "I bet you weren't as fast as me when you were six."

Altair laughed. "I was way faster."

Liam kicked at a rock on the ground. "I'll beat you in something, someday."


Okay, so tear it apart! Be fierce and tell me what I need to fix.

Any suggestions?


Happy Wednesday!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Dark Night of the Soul

Dear followers,

If you like to listen to music while you write, this one is BEAUTIFUL. It's all piano and no words, and since I didn't really know what else to post today, I thought I'd share it.

Hope you enjoy!

Have a great day!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

GUTGAA Meet and Greet! (better late than never :)

Today is the long awaited start of GUTGAA, (Gearing Up To Get An Agent blogfest) hosted by Dena Barnhart! If you'd like to know more or sign up, click on the link to her blog!

Alrighty, here I go.

Short bio:

I'm 15 years old, and am the oldest my two siblings. I've lived in 7 different states and moved a grand total of 15 times! I love to travel, read, and listen to any music by Evanescence, Within Temptation or Red.

I've been writing ever since I could hold a pen. There's nothing as rewarding, frustrating, and fun in this world than being able to write. The ability to create worlds, and people that come to life with the stroke of a pen or tap of a computer key is utter magic.

Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?

Well... I'm in California at the moment (hence the lateness in my posting this), so I can't do that. But the first thing I'd see is probably my notepad. Even though I type everything on my computer, I keep my notepad updated in case I need to write something down when I can't use my laptop.

Favorite time to write?

Definitely the morning. I'm really not a morning person, but I've sorta forced myself to be. It's the quietest time of day.

Drink of choice while writing?

Coffee or hot chocolate or tea! Any of those work :)

When writing, do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

Definitely music! Sometimes I'm forced to write without my headphones in, but there's never really complete silence in my house. So I prefer music to noise :)

What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

It was definitely a mix of things, but it first came to me while I was playing the free online game called Poptropica. In the game, there are all these 'islands' that have... problems. And your character has to go around and make things right.

The second wind of inspiration came to me while reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and then reading 1984 by George Orwell.

The third, and probably most important parts came as a mix between a level in the video game called Little Big Planet and reading the book Fatal Alliance by Sean Williams.

In the video game, your character has to find all these magic crystals located in various places. Then, you had to go shine light through the crystals to defeat an evil dragon-like thing that was wrecking havoc on the nearby towns.

In the book Fatal Alliance (a Star Wars book), the Sith and the Jedi are forced to work together to defeat a greater enemy. The book is written from 3rd person POV, so you really get to see sides of both Light and Dark that we're not used to seeing.

That book was probably my biggest inspiration.

What's your most valuable writing tip?

Never give up.

That phrase is cliche and definitely overused, but it's 100% true. To be a great writer, you can't let anything stand in your way.


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