Mirror Mirror on the Wall {Writing Prompt Wednesday}

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mirror mirror

Writing Prompt Wednesday

Instructions: Use the prompt provided and write a short story, poem, dialogue, scene, etc of your choice. No more than 500 words and the story needs to be an original of your own. Leave a link to your story in the comments below where readers and I can check them out!

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

“Dana, what are you doing?” Sophie came up beside her best friend.

Dana wore her short black hair in a small ponytail at the nape of her neck with a baseball cap, covering up the rest of her hair. Her sharp emerald eyes lit up as she stood in front of the old, victorian mirror.

“Come on Soph, aren’t you curious?” she asked, glancing at her friend.

They were in a forbidden part of a German castle. The girls were on a summer tour before starting college for the first time and this was their high school graduation present to themselves. Sophie’s soft blonde hair started to stand up on her neck as Dana reached out a hand to the mirror. The faded designs looked as if they were trying to tell a story–one the girls needed to decipher before they spoke to it.

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“Mirror mirror on the wall…” Dana started, smirking as she was scaring her friend Dana, “Who is going to kill us all?”

She saw Sophie’s eyes widen, but not at the request. The mirror flashed a bright light and when the girls found their eyesight again, a floating grim looking head was staring back at them from inside the mirror.

“An interesting request that has awakened my slumber. You’re own curiosity has dialed death’s number,” he chanted at the girls.

Before they could say a word the ground started to shake, causing the cracks in the walls and tumbling decor around them as the head continued, “What you did not know is summoning me brings the Queen back to the show.”

The girls turned to scream and run, but a shadowy figure stood behind them, stifling their voices. Once materialized their eyes went straight to her face. The Queen’s evil smirk made the girls cower as the Queen took steps toward them.

“For you, a lesson is to be learned, what you speak is what you earn,” was the last thing the girls heard…

The End

Now It’s Your Turn

AshleyDannie

Free Small Group Leader Resources by AshleyDannie

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What is it?

Youth Group is just around the corner and as a small group leader, there is always the question of how to get information about the kids in your group. I have struggled with this question every year and I have finally came up with something I think will be successful. I am putting a small packet or binder together for them with different pages that will help them be successful and just as importantly me/you as a leader will be successful. So here are some free Small Group Leader Resources I give you full permission to download and use!

Introductions

The first couple pages are introduction pages. The first two pages consist of a picture of yourself and then fill out the information provided. This sheet allows the students to get to know you and will start to build the foundation of a trusting and safe environment. If you are open up, it heightens the chances of them opening up about their favorite things.

LeaderIntroduction

The third page in the binder is a sheet for your student(s) to fill out. This is some of the same information that you have provided for them, but they would give it to you after filling it out.

02.StudentIntroductions

Calendar

Next, I provide them with calendars of each full month so they can fill in different events as the school year progresses, such as Youth Group Events when there is no youth group, and Small Group Outings (SGO).

03.Calendar for Year 2016

TAWG (Time Alone with God)

TAWG, I believe, is one of the most important components a small group leader can encourage students, so I have put together a suggestion list of different devotion plans for each month the students can do if they have the Bible (YouVersion) app. This list is a suggestion and I am not requiring my girls to do it, but they are good ones they can pick and choose from or can do all of them.

06. Monthly Devotions

With each of the months I have in the devotions above, I have assigned a verse or verses. They are verses I feel go well with the theme I picked for the month. For example, I have new sixth graders this year so I picked the theme New Beginnings for Aug. and the verse I plugged with it is Jeremiah 29:11, which talks about God having a plan for them. So if the students don’t want to or have access to the bible app, I have provided S.O.A.P. instructions and worksheets to use with each verse(s) I provide for each month. S.O.A.P. is just one type of study tool kids can use in their TAWG time. I give them an instruction page and then 12 pages of the S.O.A.P. worksheet for each month.

04. SOAP Instructions

05. SOAP Worksheet

Small Group Agreement

The last document I have for their binder is the Small Group Agreement. This is something I have always verbally done every year with my girls, even if it is just to remind them. The agreement talks about what I expect as a leader from them and what they should expect from me. This way I am just as accountable for my actions within the small group as well as the girls (or boys). It mostly talks about respect, the group being a safe place, and the most important aspect being what will happen if something is said that is harmful to them or another.

I try to make this very clear that if something is shared in the group that is harmful to them or someone else, by law, I must go to a higher authority. Yes, it causes of hurt feelings, but I would rather our kids be safe and them hating me for it than something horrible happening and we still besties. So I would encourage you to do something with your small group, whether it is verbal or written.

07.Small Group Agreement

 Leader Binder

I also make a binder for myself so I can keep all the student introduction papers, all the small group agreement signature papers, and my own calendars and TAWG time information. This way I can go back and look at anything I need and even use the calendar to pencil in sporting events, music concerts, or anything else my girls are involved in so I can go and support at least once.

These kids are not only the future but are the children of God. Let’s make sure we walk into this part of their lives ready and willing to serve. You all are amazing people and even though we don’t know each other I am honored to serve next to you as we help nurture the next generations.

Small Group Leader ResourcesGod Bless

AshleyDannie

Coming Back from My Hiatus–A Summer’s Tale

My Hiatus

Summer 2016 turned into many sunshine-filled months of gluing myself to my computer to accomplish my final task for my Master’s in Creative Writing–My Capstone. I had to write 15,000 words of a novel I wanted to start to create and a publication plan with it, so I ignored any other writing I would normally do (including this blog) and set out on my journey. During my adventure into the stressful life of storytelling for a final grade, I found Mia. She is a mid-twenties, young, business owner who has accomplished a few of my own dreams, but nothing ever is what it seems.

I only finished the first third of the novel and I am still walking down Mia’s path as she faces tragedy and her past. Since school is over I can start sharing some of the writing love back to my beloved blog. So I will be sharing bits and pieces of Mia’s journey as I continue to complete the novel. Here is a small section of the story.

Falling to Pieces

“MOVE!” I screamed at the body lying down on the pavement beneath me. I was floating–suspended in midair–witnessing the disaster beneath me. I wanted to help. I needed to help, but invisible strings kept me in place, only allowing me to see and not act.

“Stay with us!” a paramedic hollered at the body. I could only see the person’s jeans and their right hand, lifelessly stretched out. Something glistened for a split second on one of it’s fingers–something gold…

I shot up out of bed when I Prevail, a local rock/screamo/heavy metal band from Grand Rapids, jarred my sleep heavy body awake with their version of Blank Space by Taylor Swift from my iphone next to my bed. In my opinion it was the better version of the song. I pressed my palms to my eyes, trying to remember what I had just dreamt about. It was already slowly fading into the black void. Once I opened my eyes, accepting defeat, a glisten of something gold flashed below me and I instinctively grabbed at my ring on my right hand, twisting it as I always do when I am nervous. For a moment I almost remembered my dream, but the moment past as I heard many feet clicking across the floor toward my bedroom.

So I welcome you into the life of Mia and I hope you stay with me through the journey of writing, the rejections of publishers, and the final joy of getting my manuscript published (Lord willing).

Keep Shining,

 

AshleyDannie

Reaching into the New Frontier in their 3rd Installment

Star Trek’s New Frontier

new frontierStar Trek Beyond exceeded my expectations for this third installment in the new series. I have always been a fan of Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto playing the iconic roles of Kirk and Spock. As I have watched them grow into their roles, I see the depth start to settle in their personalities. Even though many Star Trek fanatics are looking for the representation of the original Kirk and Spock, I don’t believe that is possible. Not that Chris and Zach aren’t capable of doing this, but the circumstances are quite different. In the first new installment, we watch Kirk grow up without a father, who inspired him to be in Starfleet. This mere change in the timeline changes Kirk’s whole view on life. Spock also has this new reality that is going to change and shape him into somebody different than the original. The effect from the different timelines brings in a darker and a more damaged storyline as the installments have progressed.

Not that Chris and Zach aren’t capable of doing this, but the circumstances are quite different. In the first new installment, we watch Kirk grow up without a father, who inspired him to be in Starfleet. This mere change in the timeline changes Kirk’s whole view on life. Spock also has this new reality that is going to change and shape him into somebody different than the original. The effect from the different timelines brings in a darker and a more damaged storyline as the installments have progressed.

new frontierBy the Beyond installment, both Spock and Kirk have dealt with the death of parents, betrayal from one of their own, coming to terms with the possibility of dying themselves, and now the uncertainty of where they want to go next in their lives. So with all of these darker themes plaguing their lives, it isn’t surprising the turn in character development Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto had to figure out for the ‘newer’ versions of Kirk and Spock.

 

 

Do I Recommend?

After watching the movie, I would say I enjoyed this installment as much as I have enjoyed the others. The characters have become a part of my fandom family. If I had to rate the film I would put a 7/10 on it. The only reason I would dock the three points I did is because it does feel somewhat like a Star Wars movie. The battle scenes, overcoming the death of parents and mentors, fighting against an evil that was onnew frontierce good screams Star Wars.Even some of the artwork released for the film resembles the look of a Lucas film (see picture to the left.) Maybe Star Trek and Star Wars have always had the closeness and we are just starting to realize it or maybe there are many of the similar influences involved in both coughabramscough, but you can’t deny there is something familiar.

Even some of the artwork released for the film resembles the look of a Lucas film (see picture to the left.) Maybe Star Trek and Star Wars have always had the closeness and we are just starting to realize it or maybe there are many of the similar influences involved in both coughabramscough, but you can’t deny there is something familiar.

Now, I am not trying to start a Star Trek vs. Star Wars debate, because if I had to choose I am Star Wars all the way, but I have respect for the Trek world. So, all-in-all great movie, great cast, and a fantastic storyline. Go see it!

Live Long & Prosper

 

AshleyDannie

 

Want to Go Back to Camp? Five Summers Will Take You There.

Five Summers

Book Review Profile

Title: Five Summers

Author: Una LaMarche
Genre: YA Fiction

Main Characters: Jo, Skylar, Emma, &        Maddie

Small Bio: Five years of camp and friendship are in their past, but reunion weekend is about to bring up memories & betrayals that they have been hiding from each other since their last summer three years prior. Will the JEMS of Camp Nedoba survive the heartaches?  

Favorite Quote: “I get it,” Skylar said, “No one loves you like your camp friends do.”

Reviewer Thoughts: Five Summers took me back to the campfires, late night cabin talks, crazy games, and life-long friendships I had in my 10 years of going to summer camp as a camper and counselor. The sting of betrayal from friends and from your crush is the worst, but it is life. LaMarche brings the reality of camp to life and the realistic ending you hope to always have. I loved reading about the JEMS and they made me relive some of my own memories, but just like them, you need to move forward, even though sometimes the first step is going backward.

Goodreads.com Rating: 3.61 out of 5

Reviewers Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars —  Recommend to any teen who has gone to or is going to camp.

My Mess of a Freshman Year

 

Freshman year.

The year that supposed to be the start of something new. (That was definitely referring to high school musical, if you were wondering)

Rather than walking into school with open doors that year, I walked in with chains.

I was completely held down by the most burdening relationship I could’ve imagined.

I met him 8th grade. I hated him (because I knew his past of bad relationships) but when he talked to me I thought to myself “he’s changed”. I convinced myself and my family and friends that he was not who everyone made him out to be. He was different.

I can’t tell you exactly when it happened. All of the sudden I realized, he wasn’t different. He was verbally abusive. He was mentally abusive. He made me feel worthless, like I always owed him an explanation of my actions. An explanation for why I ate something, why I watched a certain tv show, or why I didn’t text him 30 minutes before I left to go somewhere.

The control he had was overwhelming. The list of rules I had that I thought I had to follow to be loved was never ending. I was suffocating in a world that I thought I had no choice.

My family saw it and tried to stop it so many times. I fought so hard to make it work. I thought “if I just give him more effort, I can change him!”

My friends saw what he was doing and tried to help but I was blind. I had his ex (previously a very good friend of mine) text me, telling me to be careful. I had a good guy friend of mine blow up my phone trying to get my attention. Trying to help. I pushed each and every person as far away as I possibly could.

One day, he started talking about our future family. That’s when it hit me. I couldn’t bring a girl into the world and give her a father like that. And I knew that if I didn’t do something right then, I never would.

I attempted to break up with him. He basically told me no. (I don’t know how that works but whatever)

An amazing teacher saved my life that day.

It was right after my attempt to leave him. I was walking through the hallway, tearful eyes and all. She stopped me, realizing the hurt I was carrying. I fell into pieces. I saw my light. I burst into tears and I confessed to her that I was alone. She literally replied. “No you’re not. I have students coming to me, worried for you. Wanting to help but not knowing how. You have people who care for you everywhere, sam. You’re gonna be okay.”

She immediately rushed me to guidance to call my mother (which in the moment I was livid about but looking back, I’m so grateful).

I struggled for weeks to find my life in the mess that was left of it. My friends came back. And slowly but surely, my life and happiness did too.

Of course, I strived to find the silver lining forever but it didn’t come until I met my current boyfriend. I realized I would’ve never appreciated the amazing man he is today if I wouldn’t have gone through such a rough time. Thanks to this mess of a freshman year, I’ll never take the little things for granted. I’ll never look at my boyfriend and not be grateful. This situation gave me strength to stand up and fight for life I want to live. It gave me confidence to follow my dreams when no one gets it but me. It gave me a new respect for myself. A respect for my body, my feelings and my entire being in general.

To the person who has convinced themselves that you’re “stuck”, trust me when I say this, someone, somewhere, is trying to help. Whether you see it or not, people care. Don’t settle for a life you won’t be proud of. Free yourself & be yourself.

(What a cheesy way to end this)

Painful Waves: A Friday Fictioneer Piece

Painful Waves
PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

Friday Fictioneers

Painful Waves

The waves hit the shoreline of rocks with such force. Something about watching this action beat the pain out of me–or into me. Mason coming home tore open the wounds I have tried so hard to forget, but I never fully healed. Another crash and it felt as if the waves struck me in the gut. Wouldn’t be the first time–Mason–the crash–Grandpa. I took another swig of the bottle sitting next to me. I could feel the pain start to numb. I stood up, trying to balance but it would be so easy to jump…
Word Count: 99

Check Out Rochelle Wisoff-Fields who is in charge of Friday Fictioneers

Night Lights — A Friday Fictioneer Piece

Night Lights
PHOTO PROMPT © CEAYR

 

Night Lights

I floated, watching the lights from the round building ripple in the oil-like sea. The foreign music pulsed, shaking the ocean floor.  I swam closer.

I reached the shoreline wall and I peeked over it. There, outside the building, stood a boy and a girl, but they weren’t still. Their bodies moved together in a way I had never seen before. Then there lips touched.

“Aw,” I sighed, but the girl heard. She ran to the wall, but I dived back into the water, swimming away. I just hope she didn’t see my tail because Daddy would be mad.

Word Count: 99

Friday Fictioneers is hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields! Check out her website!

The Jungle Book — Bigger and Better than Ever!

The Jungle Book Movie Review

Jungle Book

The Jungle Book has always been a favorite movie of mine growing up. Running around the jungle with Mowgli, Baloo, and Bagheera, while staying out of trouble with Shere Khan and King Louie, was always a fun and exciting adventure.  That was always in animated 2D and the scary factor was like a 3 on the Disney villain scale, but after watching the live action Shere Khan’s scary factor went from a 3 to a 10 on the Disney villain scale.  Even King Louie’s intense factor went from a 1 to a 6 or 7 with how massive they made him look, and then add in Christopher Walken’s voice to put it over the edge.  Oh, and I will say if you hate snakes close your eyes when Kai comes into play. They made that snake long and massive, probably close to the size it would be in re-life, but still very scary…

Anywho, Disney gave us the same characters we love and grew up with, but with some new back stories and adventures. I don’t want to spoil them for you because it will give the new story features away, but I will tell you it is worth the watch.

Disney’s live-action remakes have been blowing my mind with each new one that comes out. Technically, it all started with 101 Dalmatians in 1996 and randomly throughout the years after that you would see an animated tale come to life in live-action. (I am not talking about modern adaptions either because that would be a book in itself). Then, of course, you had Alice in Wonderland as a kind of extension from the animated classic, but it all recently took off with Maleficent, which totally changed my perspective on the evil witch and I love that.  Then there has been Cinderella and now the Jungle Book.

Disney has a way of elegantly crafting a story. There is something rich and fantastical when you enter into a Disney movie and Jungle Book will be hard to top. The time and technique it had to take to make the animals look real, but also have those human qualities plus making them larger than normal is something I cannot fathom! They truly are gifted and I can’t wait to see their next live-action movie!

What’s next you ask?

  1. 2016
    1. Alice Through the Looking Glass
    2. Pete’s Dragon
  2. 2017
    1. Beauty & the Beast

Beauty & the BeastPersonally, I wish Beauty & the Beast was coming out this year, because Belle is my favorite princess plus the fact she is being played by Emma Watson, one of my favorite actresses who knows how to play a bookworm.

So grab your family, buy some movie tickets, and settle in for the jungle adventure of your life. What do I rate this new Disney classic? 9 stars out of 10!

Remember: Tinkerbell

AshleyDannie

Follow the Yellow Brick Road–Dorothy Must Die

Follow the Yellow Brick Road because Dorothy Must Die

A review by Ashley Dannie

Dorothy Must Die We all know the story of Dorothy, Toto, and their adventure through the world of Oz to get back home to Kansas, but what happened after they made it home? Did they stay? Did they have a full life? According to Danielle Paige in her novel, Dorothy Must Die  things didn’t turn out like we thought.

Dorothy got bored and came back to Oz, becoming greedy enough to take over the kingdom, destroying the good she originally saved. Except forces beyond the control of any magical being of Oz has decided it is time for this to stop. Here enters Amy Gumm. A girl who lives in a trailer park with an alcoholic mom and a popularity score of -10 and counting. When a massive tornado hits Dusty Acres, Kansas (yes, Kansas…coincidence? I think not!), Amy experiences the same ride Dorothy felt all those years ago, but when she arrives it looks nothing like the storybooks she read of Oz.

On the side of the pit on which I stood, a vast field of decaying grass stretched into the distance. It was gray and patchy and sickly, with the faintest tinge of blue. (Paige 28)

Oz looked as if it was dying and through a complicated journey to Emerald City, getting captured by the spoiled Princess Dorothy and escaping for her life into the clutches of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, where Amy trains for the most important task of a lifetime–kill Dorothy.

“What had I done to make them think I was a potential teen girl assassin?” (Paige).

Paige takes us on an adventure I never thought I would embark on. I have continuously looked at Dorothy Must Die over the past year off and on, not knowing if I wanted to read it, but I am glad I did. The way she used the classic base of Oz with her own devices to morph the story into the dark entity it needed to be was fantastic. I can’t wait to pick up the next book in the series. You will see all the familiar characters from the Cowardly Lion to Glinda to the Wizard. You will also meet characters you don’t know about unless you read Frank L Baum’s actual story.

Even though there is a lot of good in this book, there are a few concerns I have for it. It is violent and graphic. I would examine yourself and see if you are ready to read something like that. Also, she cusses more than I would like in the book for a YA novel. I know kids say worse things than what we find in their books, but as a small group leader, I find it concerning.

Other than those few issues I just stated above, Dorothy Must Die is an action-packed adventure to add to your Oz reading list. I rate it 8/10 stars and will be picking up the second book here very soon.

Happy reading!

AshleyDannie