Check out the 2017-18 YAC Zine by clicking the image above. It will take you to a PDF download link. Happy summer reading from the YACs.
To read the novel PORPHYROPHOBIA by the 2016-17 class of Young Authors Collective, click here. (You can download it as a PDF.)
The door clicked shut behind her, the smell of disinfectant and mothballs filling her nose.
“Delilah? Is that you darling? You promised to come home more often. The university is only an hour drive, Delilah,” an old woman scolded from across the room, eyes flashing.
“No, grandma it’s me, Samy. Delilah was not… not able to… come today.” She grimaced as the words tumbled out of her mouth. Perhaps it would’ve been easier to let her grandmother believe Samy was her mother, but while dementia may have made her grandmother forget, Samy could not.
“Samy? I… I don’t…” The old woman seemed to shrink back into her chair, her pale blue cardigan swallowed by the floral rocker.
“It’s okay grandma, I know.” She sighed, used to this, but the old woman’s eyes narrowed as she pulled herself up.
“I want to remember. Please.”
O-Okay, Samy thought for a moment.
“We built sandcastles every Sunday. We’d spend Saturday nights at the kitchen counter, designing them. One week would be a Disney princess castle, than a medieval stronghold, once we even tried to recreate the ruins near the house. Early Sunday morning, we’d walk to the beach and I’d set up an umbrella and a towel on the ground. Of course, though, you’d just sit on the sand. You always said that you loved how the sand engulfed you, like a warm hug, and plus, this way you could scrub your skin without paying ridiculous amounts for some micro bead bull crud.” Samy smiled at the memory.
“We always started with just large buckets, building a foundation for beauty, you’d say. Then you’d pull out a pen knife for yourself and hand me a small plastic shovel and you’d stare at our drawings for a moment, and then you’d begin to carve. You made the most beautiful sandcastles, grandma. And they always had moats; that was my job. But when I’d finished bucketing in the murky water from the shallows, I would inevitably try to help on the castle and end up causing some sort of destruction. Yet every time I knocked down a turret or crushed a drawbridge, you’d say that it…”
“Gives it character,” the old woman finished, a soft smile covering her face.
“Yes, exactly. But the things you could create with that pen knife grandma. It was beautiful. And I don’t think I ever really understood how special that was.” She paused, a bitter grin flashing across her lips. “But we’d spend hours there every Sunday, you carving and me mauling.” Samy chuckled as the old woman laughed.
“And as the sun set and the tide washed in, you’d grab my hand and you’d always say…”
“Remember I love you, Samy. Nothing, not the sun set nor the high tide, can take that from you,” the old woman recited as her granddaughter drew in a shuddering breath. “Samy, Samy I love you. Not even dementia can take my love from you, Samy, remember that,”
Samy squeezed her eyes shut against the tears and continued, “Do you remember, Grandma, then we’d wait until high tide and we’d always watch as the sea crept in and stole the sand from our castle, grain by grain until it was flattened. The first time, remember, how I cried and you said that it was okay, that sandcastles washed away, but the day didn’t, that the joy was in making them, not keeping them?” Samy and her grandmother sat in silence for a beat.
“Delilah, Delilah is that you? How long have you been here? Delilah, why don’t you visit anymore?”
Samy choked back a sob. “I… Yes. I’m sorry. I know it’s close, I’ll visit more,”
“I love you, Delilah,”
“I love you, too.”
Cassidy Nicks likes to write all sorts of fun stuff and has been a YAC member for 3 years. If writing were not an option, then cooking would be the most logical creative outlet for her.
Cassidy Answers the YAC Peculiar Questionnaire
- Describe the most embarrassing picture of you as a baby that your parents use to blackmail you. Naked in Dad’s cowboy boots (with car keys)
- What is your third least favorite color and what number do you associate with it? Light, faded mint green – 12
- What’s your favorite mythical creature? Mythical creatures all suck because they are the biggest let down in history. Saddest lie of all time = lack of griffons
- What is the current bane of your existence? Too much homework
- What’s the most extreme action literature has ever provoked you to do? Repetively reading a deeply traumatizing book because it was so good.
- What game show would you want to be on? Why? Amazing Race – to travel
- If you were a parrot, which Eastern European country would you travel to and why? I wouldn’t because I’d be too lazy. I’d probably be someone’s pet to be honest. Oh well.
- Who is your B-list celebrity crush? (Famous but not that famous.) Please, as IF I’d have anyone other than an A-Lister. No, just kidding – I don’t know any B-List celebrities off the top of my head, though.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues.” What’s yours? Fortitude
- What is your favorite Cards Against Humanity card? Okay, if you’re not familiar with Cards Against Humanity, answer this. On a scale of 1-10, how much do you hate whales? Assuming this is sinusoidal scale where odd numbers are minimums and evens are maximums, in the interval [1-10], I am probably a 13 because I do not give many darns.
- If you were indicted tomorrow, what would the charges be? Public indecency or something because I’d forget to put on pants or something, and resisting arrest because I’m confused and then probably contempt in court because I’m too sarcastic.
- Please provide a weird stock photo that describes you personally.
The Beast Is An Animal by Peternelle Van Arsdale reads like a really fun acid trip. [Editor’s note: not that Cassidy knows what an acid trip is. She’s just watched too many YouTube videos.] Everything is far out, mysterious, elusive: the story of a damaged and abused girl transforming into a fearsome creature.
The book is compelling, with an engaging plot, but is simultaneously hyper realistic and impossible–the decisions and paths Alys (the main character) follows, are incredibly real, yet the story is based in a fantasy land more similar to classical China or medieval Europe than anything else.
The real world blends with fantastic creatures, and a “fforest” (this spelling was incredibly obnoxious, and my biggest complaint) is never what it seems (at one point, the fforest spelling is broken and a normal forest is written, leaving the reader wondering if it was on purpose, or was just a typo).
The Beast is by far the most interesting character, but remains absent most of the book, and while it’s alluded that part of the Beast is inside Alys, this is never really mentioned until the last chapters. For being the title character, he sure isn’t a leading one.
Five Things I Learned While Reading The Beast Is An Animal
- People are selfish when they are scared.
- People with power often act like @ssh@les.
- Sometimes a girl doesn’t need a guy to solve a problem.
- Nothing is ever purely good or evil.
- Don’t judge a Beast by the stories others tell.
Overall, despite the annoying spelling of forest (as fforest), The Beast Is An Animal by Peternelle Van Arsdale is a well-written story that will keep the reader engaged from cover to cover.
Pictures that won’t stay
Cabinets that won’t stay
Lost boys that won’t stay
Stranded ghosts, they won’t
her leave the window, won’t give
Time to run, it’s time to
Cassidy Nicks rides horses.
Cassidy Nicks loves science.
Cassidy Nicks loves math.
Cassidy Nicks is a sophomore.
Cassidy Nicks writes, too!
Cassidy writes prose.
Cassidy writes short stories.
Cassidy writes horror.
Cassidy has been writing for six years.
Cassidy always writes in pen except when she forgets her hatred for pencils.
Cassidy believes pencils are dumb.
And most importantly,
Cassidy loves red pen.
“I write because I love red pen. It’s vibrant and glides onto the paper and is totally unacceptable in day-to-day life–except when editing. So I write to be able to edit. . . and use my red pen.” ~ Cassidy
About Ellen Huggins
*Disclaimer: Cassidy Nicks is not licensed and has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, so all documents should be taken with that in mind.
In my deep analysis of Ellen, I’ve concluded she has mommy issues. One cornerstone memory for her, although she didn’t say so (I used my amazing skills of psychological deduction), was making chocolate. While this could just indicate her family traditions adopted from their time living in Belgium, there was genuine stress in her voice as she described her mother yelling at her to ‘roll the chocolate faster!’ In addition, one of Ellen’s secret desires is to be able to sing publicly like her brothers, but her mom (and also her dad) never put effort into figuring that out for her. But most telling of all are Ellen’s dreams. Many times she has been peacefully dreaming, and finds she has to pee… But then, a woman, a beautiful woman, (i.e. Mary Poppins) tells her to ‘just go!’ And she does.
Dreams are widely believed to be our brains dealing with and processing our problems. Ellen dreams of an authoritative woman telling her to do something shameful. That sounds like… Mommy issues.
In conclusion, I, Dr. Cassidy Nicks, am diagnosing my patient Ellen Huggins with severe Class A mommy issues and have recommended that she continues to repeat this phrase to herself to boost her confidence- ‘just go… For it!’
- Train of Thought
Train tracks rumble
As you walk across them
Searching for a hidden treasure.
A wild goose chase.
But don’t worry,
I know how you feel.
I once hunted treasure, too.
Until I realized how useless it was
Just chasing our tails
In cycles that never end.
But I know you don’t know this yet
And I don’t want to ruin your treasure hunt
But watch out for fools gold
And watch out for trains. (more…)
Cassidy Nicks is an avid writer, unless she’s asked to write about herself. In that case, she’d prefer the story, poetry or essay you just read speak for her.
What’s your favorite genre to write? Dark poetry and flash fiction.
What’s your idea of perfect happiness? Unlimited food and a giant mansion full of nooks and crannies.
What trait do you most value in yourself? My magical personality.
What trait do you most value in other writers? Honesty.
What do you do when you’re not putting words on the page? I horseback ride and play in a marching band, but I’m not really a fan girl or nerd. (I swear!)
Which author(s) do you most admire? Romance authors who are actually comfortable with their writing.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Swear words and “man.” I also tend to throw up really weak ‘fierce’hands.
Favorite word? I don’t choose favorites, it’s unfair.
Least favorite word? Squelch.
When did you first identify yourself as a writer? Fourth or fifth grade, I guess. I don’t really remember.
Why are you actively involved in Lighthouse Writers Workshop? It’s a great program to get kids and adults involved in writing.
What is your motto? The fence is never too high to climb! Haha, I don’t even know what that means.