The other day, one of the students from my Zoom Writing Class (fall 2021) sent me fantastic news. Her original short story, “Love Makes Spirits Bright,” was published in a magazine. How exciting is it to see your name in a print magazine as an author? Pretty thrilling! Let’s learn a bit about Kenzie’s writing journey and read her short story. First, a little about Kenzie. Kenzie Chille is sixteen years old and lives on a small homestead in East Texas. She loves reading, writing, and nearly everything to do with the outdoors.
Mini-Interview with McKenzie Chille, age 16
What is your favorite genre to write? I love writing fantasy. I’ve always enjoyed creating worlds and imagining crazy, fantastical things. I’ve found its easier (for me) to create a world than to make a story relevant in our world.
Do you prefer to write short stories or novels? Why? I’m better at writing short stories, but I prefer writing novels. It’s easier to write a complete short story and then edit and tweak it than to write a whole chunk of a book. But I love planning out a whole twisting plot and getting carried along with the turns of the story.
How long have you been writing? Quite a while. I’ve written a lot of short stories and random scenes, although I only really started to love writing (and do it a lot) in the past couple of years.
Are you working on a novel right now? If so, tell us about it. I am! At the moment, I’ve only got a little smidge of it on paper. I do have a nutshell summary though:
Renna tries her hardest to build a stable life for herself and Davina, her younger sister. Davina longs for something more than everyday life on her tiny island home but feels ungrateful. When dragon poachers take over the girls’ island, they both realize what they truly are yearning for . . . and learn that lines tend to blur when you’re falling in love.
Have you had any training/lessons in writing? If so, how did that help you? The first class for creative writing–instead of formal essays, etc.–I’ve ever taken was Mrs. Marlow’s Circle C Writing Workshop last year. I was one of the kids that got to get on Zoom calls every week with five or six other teen writers for the lessons. It was fantastic! However, it quickly showed me that I had a LOT to learn if I wanted to be a published author someday. But it also gave me the hope that I could. After taking the class, I felt nearly completely ready to write the novel mentioned above, and another one that I’m working on. The only hang up was the curser blinking on the blank screen.
How did you find the magazine, MaryJane’s Farm, to be published in? How did you go about submitting? My family is subscribed to the magazine. There’s a section made up of reader’s submissions, ranging from short poems to 600-word stories. On one of the pages was a note that said you could send in stories with the opportunity to be published. Each issue of the magazine has a theme, and the upcoming themes are listed as writing prompts for submissions. I picked one that sparked an idea, planned it out, typed it up, edited it about a hundred times, and then sent it in. And they accepted it!
Thank you, McKenzie, that was a fun interview. We hope you all enjoyed it!
“Love Makes Spirits Bright” by McKenzie Chille
Images of the magazine and Kenzie’s published story. It’s too tiny to read here, so scroll down. Ask Kenzie any questions about her publishing journey in the comments.
“Love Makes Spirits Bright”
A smile warmed Tori’s cheeks the closer she got to town. The cheery sound of laughter and music drifted to her ears. Her little sister, Gracie, toddled along beside her, clasping Tori’s hand in her small fingers.
Tori pulled her dark curls over her shoulder and boosted the little girl onto her back, picking up her pace in excitement. Gracie giggled as fluffy snowflakes floated into her own curly hair.
A moment later, they entered the merry village. Soft yellow light glowed from every window. Tori’s green eyes sparkled with exhilaration.
“Tori! And little Gracie!” A friendly voice called out.
Tori turned around to find a silver-haired lady bundled in bright colors. “Merry Christmas, Holly!”
“And Merry Christmas to you girls as well. Are you going to help set up the tree, Tori?”
“I won’t be able to keep track of Gracie, so I think we’ll listen to the choir instead.” Tori replied.
Holly winked at Gracie. “How would you like a cookie, darling?”
Gracie grinned and nodded. “Yes please!” She wriggled down from Tori’s back and eagerly took Holly’s outstretched hand.
“Run along now, Tori. Go have some fun.”
Tori gave her a quick hug and waved goodbye to little Gracie. Once they were on their way to the bakery, she turned and headed toward the town square.
A large pine tree lay on its side next to the church. Beside it crouched a young man, untangling a pile of hardware. A short man, his red beard streaked with silver, stalked back and forth, gesturing wildly. He barked out orders like a military commander, a strong Irish accent tingeing his words.
“Mr. Donnelly?” Tori gingerly tapped the Irishman’s shoulder.
“Can I help?”
He raised an eyebrow. “Ye really want tae git involved in this here mess, Tori?”She laughed gaily. “Yessir!” Securing her curls with a crimson ribbon, Tori knelt beside the heap of metal.
The young man held out his hand. “I’m Deric.”
“Tori.” She shook it.
Deric’s grin reached all the way to his ice-blue eyes. Snow dusted his sun-bleached hair.
The two teenagers worked well together, and half an hour later, the tree stood upright in the middle of the square.
Mrs. Dory Ann, the pastor’s wife, brought boxes of ornaments and lights from the church’s attic. Deric pulled a wad of lights out and chuckled. “Is everything tangled?”
Tori laughed. “Well, we’ll fix this too. We’re good together.” Deric caught her gaze and held it for a moment.
Tori felt a blush creep up her neck. Oh, for Pete’s sake, you know what he means, her more practical side chided.
Deric began unraveling lengths of lights and passing them to Tori. She tucked them neatly into the branches, swirling up to the top. An icy breeze picked up. Snow drifted along the ground. The tree shifted, a sharp clank coming from the base.
“Look out!” someone cried, a moment too late. The half-lighted tree toppled toward Deric and Tori.
A yelp escaped Tori’s lips as the branches drug her to the ground, pinning her. The trunk crushed the air from her lungs. Hurried footsteps matched the blood thudding in her ears.
“Three, two, one, lift!” The painful weight lessened, and Tori rolled to the side.
“Of all the foolish, dimwitted-” Mr. Donnelly broke off and huffed. “Are ye a’right?”
Tori nodded. Deric knelt beside her, took her hand and helped her sit up. “Are you sure you’re alright?” His hand still clasped hers.
Tori nodded again. She’d have laughed if her ribs didn’t ache so bad.
“Tori smiled. “I’d like that.”