What Life Is All About

Everyone seems to have their own outlook on what life has to offer and what makes life so precious. In my perspective, it’s the little things that make life worth living. When people think of what the rest of their life has to offer, most think about the major events like graduating or their wedding. Although those are major and amazing parts of people’s lives, it’s vital to notice that life goes a lot deeper than that. 

Life is a collection of small moments. Some of those are going to be good, while others may be bad. We don’t give those moments enough credit, the little moments where you look over and someone’s thinking the exact same thing, smelling a scent you remember, hugging someone you missed, etc. There have been so many days I’ve looked back on and all I seem to remember is the random person I saw dancing in their car or how perfect the weather was. Each day is like a treasure hunt, full of hidden beauties and it’s up to us whether we want to overlook or appreciate them. 

Live for the endless laughter, for the sunsets, for the little thing, and you’ll feel the joys of life. It’s not always about the bigger picture, details are important. So, if there’s something that you want to do whether it’s writing a book or smiling at a stranger, do it. Even if it doesn’t’ affect your life, it’ll affect theirs.  

-Kaitlyn Y.

Two Stories

Don’t chase dreams.

These were the words she’d remember, stuck between her riddled thoughts as though a shard of glass were lodged within. She’d press them or shake them, but their message remained the same.

Don’t chase-

Dreams. A fog in time, a cloud for her to fly in as space around her wilted to swim beneath the seas of age. She was an olive branch to her fears, a dove caught amidst the thorns of life.

She was torn.

Worn out, too, as though her skin were made of yarn, unwoven by the kindles of her sorrows. Such fantasies that hid in her soul’s cracks, she thought, could only be imagined by a madman.

She was indeed, mad, as ginger and rash as the freckles on her cheeks.

Once, as rain poured down like chords of a melody which spun from the tumultuous storms above, a spark in her blood awoke. With her in bed, she braided her harvest curls as though they had heard her traitorous ambitions and disapproved. Yet she could not help it, for she was, in her delusion, a dream too.

A shock of alarm struck her as quick as the realization came. For if she were to be the dream, then she needn’t pursue an illusion at all. 

A sudden smile crept to mark her lips, for a resolution had, for certain, come to ease her qualms.

She was the chase. 

─── ∙ ~εïз~ ∙ ───

She lives in her shadow, behind it, sometimes beside it. It does her everything, and that’s alright with her. It often cooks, or cleans the dust off shelves while she watches. She doesn’t impede. 

It goes on like this: it works, she sits. No one bothers her with chores, nor scolds her when she misses a corner, since she can’t. She just stares, content with her boredom.

Her nails grow thinner, brown at their sides. Edges near her eyes and ears wrinkle, though more often than not where she can’t see them. White hairs greet her black ones, and they accept their presence with no dispute. That’s how she’s worked through much of her troubles, anyhow. 

Her shadow continues its tedious labor, but she herself speaks none. Even her memories, alone and dim, have forgotten what it is to dream.

She waits for action to happen. For death to come, maybe, and rid her of misery. She’s naught, done none, never will do any.

Her shadow scrubs the floorboards, pats the beds. Feeds the pets, takes the kids to daycare. Day after night, past bedtime or at late dawn, it works. And she, ever in darkness, sits in her shadow’s wake.

-Emilia D. 

Neville’s Seventh Year Pt. 2

Nearly three years ago, Elina T. (a former contributer to this blog) and I were collaborating on a fanfiction that centered around Neville’s last year at Hogwarts. Our initial brainstorm for this story left us with a skeletal outline and great excitement at the prospect of writing. However, we never quite finished the story. Nevertheless, we do still have some material that I would like to share.

In a post on this blog titled “Neville’s Seventh Year Pt. 1,” Elina T. shared the first portion of our first chapter. In this post, I will share the next section (therefore, it may make more sense to read Elina’s post first :)).

I also wanted to note that we made some changes to the story, and that this contains spoilers for those who have not read the Harry Potter series.

As a disclaimer, both Elina T. and I absolutely love J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and in no way wish for it to be written any differently than it was. This was just a fun, exploratory project that we enjoyed–and we hope you do, too.


Ginny eyed the little plant that Neville had cupped in his hands. 

“Isn’t that poisonous?” She asked, gesturing toward the plant with her chin and scooting a bit away from it. 

“It’ll only harm you if you provoke it.” Neville replied, fondly stroking the very venomous-looking vines. “I’ve been wanting to show it to Harry the whole summer! I was thinking we could use it on Snape …”

“Neville–,” Ginny began. 

“Hello.” Neville and Ginny looked up to see Luna standing in the doorway, the latest edition of The Quibbler in her arms. 

“Oh, hey Luna!” they chorused. 

She wore a sky blue button-up blouse, a long paisley skirt, and an eccentric-looking oversized headband which boasted miniature models of a strange animal Neville had never seen before. 

Luna took the seat opposite Ginny next to Neville and set The Quibbler on the seat beside her. 

“Is that a Snargaluff?” She asked, leaning forward to examine Neville’s plant. 

‘Er, no. It’s Venomous Tentacula.” Neville replied.

“Hey, Luna, what’s that on your headband?” Ginny asked curiously, surveying the little animals, one of which Neville could have sworn he’d seen yawn out of the corner of his eye. 

“Blibbering Humdingers!” Luna said enthusiastically. “Daddy gave this to me before I left. They glow when they sense danger.” 

Ginny nodded comprehensively. 

Neville’s eyes shifted to the corridor, where he saw a group of Slytherins pass, Crabbe and Goyle among them. They seemed lost without their leader, as if Malfoy, who was now absent, had given meaning to their lives.

Neville glanced back at his friends. Ginny had noticed the Slytherins as well and was glaring at them. Neville wondered if she thought that if she stared fiercely enough, she would bore holes into them. 

Ginny shook her head, as if trying to rid the Slytherins from her mind, and turned back towards the other two. 

“I still can’t believe Snape is going to be Headmaster,” She said shrilly. “How could this have happened?” 

Neville nodded his agreement. He wasn’t quite sure of all the details, but after Dumbledore’s death at the end of last year, Voldemort and his Death Eaters had begun to establish power in the Wizarding World. Voldemort had control over Hogwarts but, though it was hard to be certain, as far as Neville knew, the Ministry was still intact. 

And what of the prophecy he and Harry had heard at the Ministry in their fifth year? “Either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ….” This must mean that Harry must be the one to vanquish Lord Voldemort; he must be the only one with the power to do so. Neville frowned as he thought of the next line: “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies ….” It had been nagging at him since that night at the Ministry. “… as the seventh month dies …” Neville had been born during that time …. Could it be possible that he may have been in Harry’s place?

A war was brewing, Neville was certain of it. It was as inevitable as him losing track of Trevor again.


-Mia T.

Mooreville High

Sebastian Elizarraras

Sunday afternoon was a warm relief
We wanted to hold on stubbornly to that last minute
Instead of living the ones to come
Only seeing the most painful parts of the week ahead
Slamming lockers on a Monday, trying-
To summon up the will to believe that it gets better
But was it really that bad after all?

Summer’s end meant midnight reunions on the track
Still rubber permeating the air in the heat of august
Friday night rumors and tailgate daydreams,
Parties with the rich kids and stargazing in the backseat
Peering over the hedges on the football field,
We popped confetti and shouted “go team!” 
But loved the moment we shared more than them

The one winter snow fell on our little town
Prom in the gym that year was so beautiful,
Dancing lovers nestled under a flakey powder blanket,
Watched as the disco balls made stars of the spotlights
They highlighted the love affair, we traded envy for laughter
Fruit punch sometimes stings or leaves stains
But we drove out in our gray sedans and felt like royalty

We’d hide by heaters at the Barnes Crossing mall,
Ride the carousel til we were chased out by security
If the school staff had been careless, there was a small chance,
We could sneak into the theater and stare up at the light fixtures,
Didn’t worry that much about making it back home
Breakfast at the coffee house, lunch at the diner downtown
Staring up by the bleachers when the evening sky rose

I won’t hold on to what I won’t miss
But I’ll certainly miss skipping service at the Baptist
Fast friends, and young love, the pain of growing up too fast,
Every day we drove by the river singing made it worth it
Worn souls, the cruel cold, friendship lasts until the bracelet breaks
Our hearts can only carry the fire of youth for a little while
So I’ll leave our innocence and beautiful ignorance here on the page, 
So that they may fade more slowly

The Hufflepuff Common Room

One could safely say that Harry, with his handy Marauder’s Map, adventurous spirit, and knack for getting into trouble, explores much more of Hogwarts than the typical student does. In fact, he manages to enter both the Slytherin common room (with the help of Polyjuice Potion and a few of Gregory Goyle’s hairs) and the Ravenclaw common room–as well as his own cozy Gryffindor common room–within the span of the series.

However, although he develops friendships with a few Hufflepuff students, Harry never enters the Hufflepuff common room. And as a result, the readers never see it, either.

Thankfully, the world of Harry Potter is so richly imagined and developed that it extends beyond the books. Unsurprisingly, a vividly descriptive article on the Hufflepuff common room can be found on the Wizarding World website, written by J.K. Rowling herself (If you’re a Harry Potter lover, I encourage you to check it out–it’s very interesting to learn about the mysterious common room and to read J.K. Rowling’s thoughts on it).

Though the method used to enter the Hufflepuff common room is rather simple (tapping a barrel to the rhythm of the founder of Hufflepuff’s name (Rowling)), and although the room lies low in comparison to the towers that house the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor common rooms, I think I would choose to live in the Hufflepuff common room above the others if I had the choice.

The Hufflepuff common room seems so cozy and bright, with “patchwork quilts,” “[a] colorful profusion of plants and flowers,” and “[s]mall, round windows [that] show a pleasant view of rippling grass and dandelions, and, occasionally, passing feet” (Rowling). Despite being so low in the ground, the Hufflepuff common room still seems cheerful and warm. I love how the majority of the decorations are plants; they add so much vibrancy and homeliness to the room, and I think the constant presence of nature would create a joyful and peaceful mood. In addition, the circular structure of the room reminds me of a cozy little hobbit hole.

The common room “feels perennially sunny”–the perfect atmosphere for keeping your spirits up while studying for exams, relaxing with your classmates, or recovering from a particularly cold and difficult Potions class (Rowling). Imagine leaving the stuffy Divination classroom or a particularly wearisome History of Magic lesson and entering a warm, inviting room lit with golden sunlight and lively plants. The environment itself, I think, could be an instant mood-lifter.

Lastly, the Hufflepuff common room lies right near the kitchens, in case you want to pay the house elves a visit.

Where else would you want to spend your seven years at Hogwarts?

– Mia T.


Works Cited

Rowling, J.K. “Hufflepuff Common Room.” Wizarding World, Wizarding World Digital, 2 Mar. 2020, http://www.wizardingworld.com/writing-by-jk-rowling/hufflepuff-common-room. 

Original Poem: “In a Few Days”

In a few days
the world stops looking less blue.
Sooner or later
there’s bound to be something new.

In a few days
the clouds above my head will lift.
As eventually as forever
my meaning will sensibly shift.

In a few days
I’ll fall asleep in complete dark.
A night without noise
from the purple and invisible spark.

In a few days
things will get better.
Because a few can mean soon,
or reach as close as possible to never.

Adding More Scientific Realism to Sci-Fi in Space: Star Wars The Clone Wars

How Just a Bit of Realism In Your Story can Deepen Your World and Enthrall Your Reader

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (TV Series 2008–2020) - IMDb

Last summer, I spent many late nights toying with the idea of a space novel. There were so many questions I had, so many things I wanted to know about the world I was attempting to create, and at times I had no idea where to begin.

As school began and I got busy, my space novel project got worked on less, but I kept world-building in small ways when inspiration came.

Now, on this extended break from school, I have had much more time freed up. One of the things I have done with that time is watch Star Wars The Clone Wars, which is, in my opinion, an incredible expansion to the Star Wars universe.

Star Wars The Clone Wars TV show was one of the many space-fiction stories that inspired my story. Star Wars is something almost everyone, even someone who isn’t a fan, will recognize as trendsetting space fiction. It was a pop culture phenomenon at its birth and continues to be today. I have always loved the light-saber as a weapon, the many well developed characters, and the expansive galaxy enriched by each new location we visit in the franchise.

Through my writer’s eye, I saw the show in a whole new light. With many different military groups, independent systems, the Republic and the Separatists, the Trade Federation and each different type of planetary government, it is an incredible example of how intergalactic politics might work!

While the plot, characters, and lore remain interesting, and model-worthy as well, I did notice a pattern of something missing. Let’s face it, if there is anything this show lacks, it is the realistic elements of science that pull the reader, or watcher, deeper into a new and different world.

Science fiction doesn’t necessarily have to be very realistic, but some great science fiction (Adrift by Rob Boffard and The Martian for example) have used more realistic depictions of other worlds and future technology to make us believe we are reading something that could truly happen in the future, or is happening in a faraway galaxy.

The Clone Wars, for me, raised many questions about some scientific things not fully explained, or certain elements of the “realism” in the story that if tweaked or expanded upon, might make your story much more realistic and appealing. So without further ado, here’s my writing tips takeaway!

Firstly, how do species on different planets evolve, it seems very unlikely they could all be humanoid, get creative! More creatures like Jabba the Hut! This also rings true for making planets at different stages of carrying life, maybe not all planets your character visits have sentient life forms yet. Keeping with life forms, many planets in this show seem to have only one environment. While that can be cool, remember how diverse Earth is! Depending on how you write your story, a planet with multiple environments and lots of different flora and fauna will certainly enrich the story.

Speaking of planets, perhaps the biggest thing that takes me out of the story in this show is the fact that every planet our Jedi heroes visit appears to have the same atmosphere composition, gravity, and relative temperature. Not even two planets in our solar system have the same gravity or atmosphere.

Instead of ignoring these scientific elements, use them! Create a challenge for your characters and interesting worlds with limited gravity that causes cities to be tethered to the planet! Create technology that filters nitrogen or sulfur-rich air so it is breathable. Have suits that need to be worn by your characters in certain acidic or too hot/cold planets for survival. Play around with the environment, and show how your characters would adapt!

Some more questions to ask; How do the conditions of a certain planet affect how life there has developed if there is life? What would an organism from that planet need to survive if it left? How would a sentient being from a specific planet talk, based on air composition (guttural, high pitched, etc.)? Are there different languages, different races, and cultures on each planet? The more diverse a planet, the more real I find it becomes to the reader/watcher.

These are many of the major questions Star Wars The Clone Wars made me ask about my own book, and they inspire a lot of creative thinking for world-building. For my fellow aspiring writers, perhaps the best piece of advice I can offer is to constantly ask questions about the things you write about, challenge the way you think about things to broaden your creativity, and don’t hesitate to add flair and detail to the world you are creating.

-Sebastian E.

Star Wars books, films, and television shows are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. Additional material can be found online for free through Overdrive

Broken Hearted

Broken Hearted

T’was impeccable, yet warped,

Repetitive, yet newfangled regularly.

Memories’ sadness is in presence,

Though, only evoked when the spirit wishes.

‘Tis a fight,

Where “moving on” is defined often,

“Attachment” is, too.

Seated alone, pondering,

How can this be overcome?

Knowledge from the wise is even proven insufficient.

Man’s best companion can’t even seek a smile,

Nor can nature’s sweetest creations.

How can this be overcome?

They say denial, anger, bargaining, depression, then acceptance,

None apply.
This feeling is unutterable,

One I swear is mine and mine only.

How can this be overcome?

Like a Satan in one’s path,

Only the stupid’s willpower could see hope.

Where the only solution is to advance,

Or seize agonizing consequences.

Rifle in hand,

Willpower in the other.

Ambition, clout, and courage tattooed on one’s shoulder,

The great battle begins.

Pushing away thoughts,

Urges set aside.

No peeking,

No asking,

No quitting.

It’s done!

Finally, ready to move on,

Acceptance becomes clear.

Pride falls,

Ache does, too.

I’ve done it,

Finally, moved on.

-Izzy G., 8th Grade