A Dark Chest of Wonders

Welcome to the House of the Kennedy

Month: May, 2014

Justification: An Email

This is an email to my English teacher who is helping me write a story for the Texas Book Festival this year, the division in young writers of course, and while we’re so close to being prepared and confident to send this story off, we’re still having kinks, and this is my latest email to him updating him on the status of the work, and I just thought that I should share it with you guys because it might help you and it might be just a little bit inspiring in the last bit! 


I have started a second draft,  like a legit second draft, but I’m going to be pulling a lot from the first draft, while improving it to make it a lot more meaningful, and profound. The draft that we have now, the only part that I truly like and the part that I think I did the best job on is the finale in which or unnamed narrator reflects on his life and tries to justify everything he has done up to this point, but he can’t, so he lies to himself. The fatal flaw of this story, I realize, is that I just spent to much time in flashback. This would be fine if we were writing a novella, unfortunately we’re not, so this flashback is not working how it should, because it reads much more like a novel excerpt rather than a short story and for that reason, I’m going to instead reverse the story in that, the flashback will become chopped up, cutting down a lot of unnecessary fat from this story, and bulking up the story by writing in the present tense in the gas station, with reflections leading up to my MC’s death by the police officers. 

Also, I understand what made ‘Silence’ in the Place Beyond the Courtyard to great: In the Place Beyond the Courtyard, I had something to say, I had a message that I wanted and needed to convey, there was a lot for me to pull from. This happens in most all of my works, the Farm and the Place Beyond the Courtyard both had something that I wanted to commentate on, something that I needed to say, the problem with Justification is that I don’t have anything that I need to say, I’m focusing too much on the contest and much less the weight. The Farm was written to win a prize of some sort, but it was only finished because I threw that out of my head after finishing the first chapter which was written beautifully in my opinion because I needed it to be written beautifully. Now, I need to take that same mentality to write this story, otherwise it just won’t get done, done right that is. 
So, having said that, I have pinpointed what my goals are for this story, as in the main ideas:
1) Being Bad
2) Everyone wants to be remembered; to do something worth being remembered for, even if it’s something bad. 
3) We often lose sight of why we do the things we do for those that we love the most. 
1+2) We all want to  live exciting, meaningful lives and in the age of technology, your legacy means everything; what will you leave behind for this world to remember you by? What was your purpose here, what will be your footprint when they put you in the grave, and who will follow in your footsteps, or who will resurrect your figure as an example for something good or bad, and how will your small choices have enormous effects on the world around you? 
3) We are all willing to break bad for those that we care about, for something that we care about. Everyone, even the most timid people, will explode under the right circumstances, with the right threats, they will break their demeanor and they will explode, they will break bad. 
Those are the things that I am trying to convey in this story, and I think that I’m just going to have to amp it up a lot to get it across since the judges just don’t have the time to sit there and try and decipher my work. I’m also going to just try and write the best I can, the damndest job so that I can win, because I’m not going to just keep going along and pretending that I’ll get there one day, I’m going to make it happen, because the only way to move the world is to move mountains, and that’s what I aim to do in this contest.

The Metamorphosis: The Worm


This is the first part in a new series I am doing, ‘The Metamorphosis’ is your new spinach, and I hope that I can at least help you some in your writing through this series. This is the first part, the Worm. The beginning of your journey through the literary world, helping you find your way after a bad storm blew you out. I’ll try and publish this weekly, if now as quickly as I can get it all out, I’m only breaking it up because it would be too long as one post. Also, remember most of all that I am only a Freshman in High School, and I’m not a professional writer (as much as I would like to be) by any means, so you don’t have to take me too seriously, I’m only going off of what I have learned over the past eight or so years of my writing career thus far, so I don’t know everything, and I don’t expect  you to believe I do, this is but one of thousands of resources, though if I could recommend some things, you can find it in this series. My favorite writing book is On Writing by Stephen King because a) I fucking love Stephen King, b) it’s just a great book and c) It really connects with you if you are a true writer, because he captures all the emotions and feelings and everything that you will need to begin writing or improve your writing up to the point that you are at. I wish to both perk you up if you have found yourself in a rut, and I also wish to help your own writing and mine, hopefully one day I could actually compile a book and publish it. When I get good enough at this thing that is. Hope you enjoy, the next part, the Beetle will be up As. Soon. As. Possible, or as you young hipsters say nowadays: ASAP!



To say the least, I have been depressed.

Several times this week, my mind has been shooting arrows through itself because it can’t properly hold up a bow, and a loud thunder of self pity and insult has shocked me and murdered me rather than bringing back to life like Frankenstein’s Monster. I feel like I’ve just gone to bed for a very long time, and my lips have been sealed shut not by string, but by iron ores, and no screams can be heard sixteen feet deep under the earth. For the past few  days I have walked sleepily and dreamily from place to place, a passerbyer to the ever changing age, I’m trapped in a well and the bloods getting slicker, slicker–slicker; like a prune, I’m running thin. There are a thousand souls and spirits a ghouls running up and down my stairs at night, banging and clanging the pans all through the night, tap-tap-tap at my door by their sharp-soft claws, cold fingers run against my skin, and I’m trying to manage as I hold myself against the unsteady earth, my heart already long unearthed. I’m cracked, I’m broken, and I’m falling apart, but in a flash of brilliant white light, I’m Gandalf and I’m back B-I-T-C-H!


I’m back B-I-T-C-H

Anyhow, I’m back with a passion because I say screw feeling sorry for myself, because I’m getting nowhere. Do you want to know when the last time was that I finished a story? March, and that wasn’t even a real story, it was The Farm, which I’m through soliciting for a little while. If you don’t understand, that’s a bad thing. I should be churning out one story a week, I’m young, schools almost out, and I honestly have nothing better to do, I just keep stalling by watching Netflix and YouTube, or simply staring at the walls in my room. I have books to read, things to write, a body to shape up (to say the least, I’m flabby), yet I just keep wallowing in my glorious pool of pity, sorrow, and depression, and it’s doing nothing! I have become some kind of weird, male version of Bella Swan, every time I get a chance it’s like all I can do is let out this breath like I’m a deflated balloon that someone keeps airing up again because it’s fun. Anyhow, that’s over, and it’s time that I move on.

I recently read a very ’empowering’ post that really got me in this mood; you can read it here and feel the same empowerment that I’m feeling, but don’t go just yet. I want to talk about what you should do after you take a sword and murder the monster of your depression or whatever beast is pinning you down.

Firstly, you need to eat spinach.

Eat Spinach

Nah, just kidding.

Kind of. Spinach is pretty good.

But, if we’re talking figurative spinach, then I’m serious. You need to read: I mean, read a lot. I’ve said this before, but I’m saying it again because if you’re going to write anything that anyone is going to give two fucks about, then you need to read like hell. You need to not only read everything that you get your hands on, but you do in fact need to read the greats. Now I’m not saying just go off and fuck all the rest of the modern authors like Karen Russel or Stephen King, but I mean you need to read some classics every now and then. You have to understand several things about them, what made them classics:

a) What period were they written in: what was popular at that time, why would they write this book, were there any political issues that they might have hinted at or commentated on. An example would be War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, one of the most massive books that you will ever read (yes, you will read/eat your vegetables, Tommy, no more questions about it!). It is written during and about Napoleon’s Conquest of Europe, and is as much a classic peace of literature as it is one of the longest history essays ever written. I heard Tolstoy was assigned it in eighth grade, wrote two double spaced pages and his teacher gave him an F. So, he decided to redo it, and this was it. I also heard he still got a C on it. Yikes!

b) Controversy: The greatest books have always been plagued with controversy and criticism, in fact, for a book reviewer, it’s probably heaven getting to pick apart these books like ravens because they believe they’re just terrible strife! If you learn what made some of the classics controversial, then you can understand how to make your own writing as profound as theirs, maybe you’ll start some controversy too. The reason you want to learn and be able to create controversy is because, that means you book is challenging something, it’s changing something, and people are reacting; you have to be the spark that starts the fire, not the other way around, meaning you can’t be the water that put the fire out. No one likes heroes you know.

c) The Author: I know too many people who read who only know about the book (sometimes not even that) and never the author for which they are reading; this means they do no research and are always taken by surprise at a new release or when the author makes headlines because they don’t bother to learn the author or study them on the lowest level, they just consume. It really annoys me when people do this, so don’t be that person. In order to understand what makes the classics the classics, you have to know what made this author write this book, who he or she was: get into their head. The greatest tool to writing is probably life itself, if not the only real tool you need. Anyone can write a short story, novella, or novel about something that happened int their life if it struck them enough, since everyone does have a novel in them, and by this logic, we can see how certain events affected them, how they drew from these events and used them effectively. This is the heart and soul of writing, and you should learn this skill as it is one of the most important rules you must learn if you ever wish to be a successful novelist.

Moving right along, let’s actually get into the juicy bit of this post:

You need to learn how to not give a fuck and destroy the world.

Everyone has a certain level of judgement: you are either a person who is easily hurt by judgement, or you’re one of the lucky ones who have grown a fourth ball and when you get a hard kick, you laugh because you’re so numb it dosen’t even hurt even more. You never want to be the former, you always want to be the later.


The world of writing is a jungle , a viscous, viscous jungle full of crows called reviewers and editors, snakes called agents, tigers called publishers,  and of course small little worms called writers. Of course, not all of them are worms, some of them have grown up to be big strong bears, sharks, and sometimes lions. They are the worms who dared: the ones who broke through the skin of the apple and ate, they grew inside that apple. They even ate the seeds, and because of this they were able to hone their skills, sharpen their claws, and eat the snakes, dodge the crows, and finally go to battle with tigers, and they’ve come out victorious more times than once. They have battle scars, ladies and gentlemen, and these are the people that you should be looking up to. Lets take it back to the land of the worms, where everyone is withering and twisting in a disgusting, jumbled mess of worms and maggots as they all fester at the bottom of a trashcan reaching for the light as they listen to the constant call of crows above.

You are a small worm, you haven’t eaten in weeks, and you think you might be dying from the stench of this place that you have called home. You have seen several worms escape the endless pit already, of course, you have also seen their entrails tossed down as an example from the crows who have pecked your dear friend Bill’s eyes out, and you’re wondering, “Well how the hell am supposed to survive up there if even Bill didn’t?” Well, firstly, you have to learn from Bill that, you have to be able to fight through the blood and nails that line the well and climb up; you have to rise up and be strong enough, willing enough to break free. The second thing that you need to learn from Bill is that, Bill didn’t have enough of a gall to survive up there with the crows, he couldn’t do it. When the first one came at him, he was already scurrying away, not that it’s bad to (that’s just good survival), but then a second and third started to come at him, and never at first because they wanted to eat him, they just wanted to check him out, and he panicked, floundered around and died. So, you learned two things from Bill, and one of them is that, you can’t be afraid when the first crow comes up to you, because that crow could be your first break to the apples and peaches, the garden as the transform into a beetle or a hornet.

So, you’ve learned now after you’ve watched the carcus’s of Jenny, Lewis, and John fall down the pit: you’re finally getting the point of it all, and now you’re getting really hungry and the crows are getting louder: they’re hungry as well, and you’re thinking: “How can they still be hungry? How in Gods name?! But…But I got to get up there, I got to get up there, it is getting really dark down here you know.” So, you take your first inch to climb up the well as you hear the constant hiss and scorn of those you thought to be your companions, because for the first time in your life, you’re doing more than they ever have. So you inch and inch, and you fall because you didn’t finish the story, you stopped short of a couple of hundred more words, you lost faith in yourself, you got scarred; or a billion other reasons, but now you’re back on the ground, and you’re crying, but you cannot stay on the ground, you have to get back up, keep climbing. One measly story or doubt cannot be your downfall, it cannot be the thing that destroys the empire you have worked so hard to even start up at this point, so you start climbing again. Now, the thing that sets you apart from the previous who have climbed is that you have watched, you have observed, you have listened to the sobbing stories of your dead friends’s ghosts, and you know how to get up there: you are prepared. So, you take a break, and now you wrap yourself in a chrysalis, and you break out sometime later bearing crimson robes: wings! And you learn to fly, even if it takes you a while, you’re on a roll again: story after story, a novella, a couple of blog posts, you’ve even managed to read three books this week, maybe more, and most of all, you’re feeling on top of the world about everything, because you know with assurance: you got this (improper grammar? Appropriate!)

So, you reach the top of the well, you’ve been flapping for over the week now,and suddenly you can feel something: wind, fresh air; it’s so dank down there in that hole it’s hard to remember what freshness actually was. You can also hear something from behind you, a loud beating, not the wind; and then a caw: the crows. They swoop in over you, casting shadows all around, and the single stream of light that streams between them beams on you a spotlight. Up until this point, you had this. Now, you’re palms are sweaty, and as you prepare to release your first collection on Kindle or something, you’re starting to have second guesses (you’ve seen the reviews for John’s book: I viscerally hated this book, it was absolute drivel, strife, and trash! I never knew there were so many ways to describe someones hair, and that awful metaphor for life as a soda can exploding? UGH! What is this book even about anyways? The plot was absolutely nonexistent, it was a bad attempt as a rehash of Carroll’s Wonderland, and what about that nonsense baby scene where Karen–if that was the characters name, it changed like fifty times over the course of this ‘book-… and that was only an excerpt from it!) because you’re terrified of the reaction that you’re going to get from it, but then you remember that: the crows are only checking you out.

You click ‘publish’. You’re in.

So this is what the world looks like: all around you, it’s a complete madhouse. While the skies may be blue, crows, are everywhere, there are snakes biting and hissing at hornets and small woodland creatures as they try to take a stab at them, and you can see tigers watching lazily in the trees just a little beyond the Rancor pit, their tails dancing slowly as they lick their lips as they watch a measly squirrel prepare to take them on. Ha! Even so, all you can hear and see are the black, almost shapeless figures that are cawing at you,k picking at you, but you’re dodging them because as review after review comes in from their loud beaks, you suddenly feel a hardening within you. The first one wasn’t so bad, in fact, they gave it three stars, that’s pretty damn good! The second one had a little criticism, but no biggie, you still got this, because by the third one, you feel a little more pride, a little more confidence: it wasn’t so bad after all. But then, a big, fat, pompous crow that holds it’s beak up high and it’s eyes are extra-beady flaps the others away just to inspect you with it’s big chest and eyes hanging over you like oppressive storm clouds, from out of his throat, you feel the full force of the heaviest caw you may have ever come to be attacked by in all your days. And you feel almost crushed, but you take what he says in stride, or maybe it means little to you, even so, you’re stronger now, and you move on, flapping aside from the big pompous bird and suddenly your wings fall off, panic filters through you, but then your outer worm shell breaks off, and black skin escapes your flesh, and then from the skin a shell emerges: you have transformed into a beetle, and now you’re making your way to the floor of the jungle: the real madhouse.


Not really a conclusion, more of an end note, but still. We all want to  get somewhere, we all have a destination and the only way to get there is to buy your ticket. I’d love to will a Pulitzer Prize, MacArthur Grant, and maybe even a Peace Prize in Literature one day, and even if I only reach one of those goals, I still would like to get to one of those destinations, and the only way I can get there is to : pull my head out of my clouded ass, smell the bitter roses of reality, and start digging to find that story within me and write; I need to buck up, stop feeling sorry for myself and write. I need to just write.

Where ever you’re planning on going, you need to get there without caring what others think of you, you need to learn to just get up and go, let NOTHING hold you back from ascertaining that goal, whether you want to be an engineer (sorry, I don’t hold you on as high a pedestal as my own kind, writers, but still), a programmer, designer (of games, clothes, fanny packs), or the next big singer (I honestly don’t know who you would want to role model right now in the world of music), or next Jennifer Lawrence or Bryan Cranstan, you need to literally give it 250%, you have to punch the soul eaters, you have to punch the babies in your head, and you even need to punch your own mama whose coddling you; you need to be some glorious phoenix that rises from the billowing cimmarion ashes of your former self and from the swirling auric flames of your birth and fly high in the sky, a star turning night to day and chasing comets: stars are too small for you.

Until next time, cheers!

Never Lose Sight



I decided that I wanted to be a writer in 2009. This was when I was in fourth grade, it was the first time I had been exposed to the literal act of writing, before then, I simply read the books and consumed, I watched the movies and consumed, but up until that point in my life everyone had been expecting me to be a scientist of some sort, an engineer maybe. I now know that the more ‘academic’ pathways for me, and I know that I am a creative person who is meant for one thing: writing. But before I get into that, my anecdote. You see, while I did not have the greatest writing teacher in the world (looking back, I can honestly say that I haven’t actually had a great writing teacher in school, but I have met plenty of incredible teachers through the words on the page of thousands of books: Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, George R. R. Martin; the staff list of this great school goes on and on) it was still a woman named Ms. Chalmers who opened me up to the world of writing in the first place. It was in her class room that I first sat pen to paper, and fired off whatever came to mind at that time (“Imitation before creation,” Stephen King), meaning Greek Mythology in Modern Times like Rick Riordan, post-apocalyptic killing games like Collins, terrifying tales of summer camp like R.L. Stine. Never did I imagine years later I would still be doing it, now I’m trying to do it professionally because it’s almost been 8 years now my mother still considers this a hobby of mine (but you see, there comes a time when a hobby gets to close to your heart, and what the heart wants becomes what you desire; my heart wants to be a professional author: I want to be a professional author). Anyhow, I remember how much mirth and joy those first stories brought me, it was a brilliant burst of both terror and fever, for never had I been consumed by such an incredible feeling like this one. It’s truly like when you hear an old person whose been working in his business field for years talking about stuff that sounds absolutely boring, yet he’s firing off about it at a million miles per hour, there’s a gleam in his eyes (“That gleam in your eyes is so familiar a gleam,” ‘Once Upon a Dream’, Sleeping Beauty; I can now agree with this quote so directly!), and despite his frail figure, he’s moving like a puppet without a puppeteer, for now it’s just the puppet driving the show long after the puppeteer is gone. You see, even today, many of my peers (not that I think i should worry a lot about their opinion) still question why I want to be a writer; in fact, my best friend is a great example. About two months ago (I will never forget the anger and depression that filled me), we were on the bus home and I mentioned something about me being a writer, and he suddenly asked me, “Why don’t you go into something practical? Why not go into something that’s going to get you a lot of money?” And I asked him, “Is that all getting a job and life is all about?” He gave me an incredulous look, and looked about the rest of our friends and they followed in suite to this looks, and he returned to me, his brows furrowed. “Well yeah!” And I remember never being able to come back with anything (I’m a person who comes up with his best thoughts after the fact; I once got into a fight with my ex-girlfriend about the usefulness of math in my life, and she beat me, I had nothing left to say; two weeks later, I came up it the best comeback, but by that time we were broke n up, and the topic irrelevant). I went on home, almost sulking and waddling in my despair, for I was suddenly attacked again by an outsider (it had always been inside and on blog sites (and career days) that the fact was slapped in my face) about how impractical the career I was going into, and I still often think about it, but the only way that I know how to perk myself up is that plenty of our favorite authors took years to become and be where they are today (George R. R. Martin, because let’s be honest, has just reached the greatest peak in his career in all of his 65 or so years of life), yet I’m always consumed by the fact that, “Well, they’re just talented, I’m not; well you know, they actually had experiences that they could draw from, I’m just a “groupie incognito, posing as a real singer writer”, trying to stylize myself after Poe, King, and the other greats; I’m nothing but a hack!” Which brings us to this morning. 

For the past few weeks, my English teacher and I had been discussing the future of my sales, because up until this point, they’ve been mostly (almost) nonexistent. The release that I told you guys (whoever still reading I guess) about, maybe two weeks ago was a complete flop, just like my first book The Maze Games, and this was the first book under my horror pen name Jonnah Z. Kennedy, and I though that The Place Beyond the Courtyard: Violence, was a damn good story. Yet, one thing that my English teacher and I had been challenged with for so long was that, we didn’t have a direct audience, and I realized this morning that several reasons why I have found myself slipping down the well again because my blood is so slick on the walls, is that, I haven’t been aiming for the right target. 

For the longest time now, I have been aiming my arrows at my age group, or 16+ (I’m 14, but my writing isn’t particularly youngish), trying to reinvent and bring back Poe, bring King down to the YA, and bring flowery writing also to the teens, but it’s not what they want to hear, not what they want to read. No, they want (I’m not trying to be offensive because I read YA books often, well, not as often as I used to, but still read them if they’re by an author I like) somewhat vague and quick stories that have more relatable characters, settings, and situations. They don’t want the boy who wants to get out of prison for his brother in a retelling of Dante’s Inferno, they don’t want the story of an insane man who falls prey to his heart’s desires; they don’t want the mad king who murders his family to save them, they don’t want the knight who walks the earth a thousand years for a princess long dead and a reward long gone beneath the earth. They want Urban Fantasy, stories that are about sweet young, summer love, and glorious little books about the struggles of false dystopian worlds, and I don’t mean to be bitter, I’m just not all that into that. 

I enjoy writing about dystopian worlds, I enjoy writing about super powers; kids stuff if there was ever a definition for it. But I also enjoy writing about flawed, immoral characters who think they’re moral; I enjoy writing about the insane, and I love gore when described by an insane person; I love those David Foster Wallace sentences that go on for an entire page!; I love stories that have folds and folds of metaphors that I can unravel and question, stories that are bound in symbolism to hide their true meaning, and what is more, I deeply enjoy writing about the melancholic afterlife and what it would be like. 

Since the beginning of time, writers (authors) have never just been writers, we have been businessmen, performers, entrepreneurs, spokespeople; we have never just been writers. It is impertinent that a writer knows how to market, create product, build revenue and audience through blogs like these and websites about them and their work. This is where many of us (I) fail as a writer, because if you cannot market and create an audience and market for their fiction, they will get nowhere, and this can be one of the most daunting and frightening things for a writer, since for the most part, many of us would just love to write fiction, put it up or publish it, and hope that it sells because someone will buy one copy, tell their friends, but in my experience, that has been mostly fantasy. But, even more than knowing how to market and sell fiction, you should know why you’re writing in the first place; you should never become in denial. 

The moment you become denial about the reason your writing is the moment that you stop being a writer, and when you decide to quite, you’ve died instead of rode; life’s gotten the best of you, and most of all, you’ve lost the reason why you’ve spent so many endless nights trying to finish that story or explain to everyone in your family that you’re going to be something some day. 

In short, don’t lose sight of yourself when you look up from the small world you have been trapped in for so long, because it’s easy for the camera to go out of focus and forget why we started riding on that endless open road through Nebraska. 


There are very few things that describe how elated I am, how ecstatic I am, how on top of the FUCKING world MOTHER-FU-UCKER! Yes, you could say that I am quite…happy. 🙂

Yes, several things ladies and gentlemen. I am back after a long,  unintentional break, and i am back with some of the best news possible: I just published a new book! Well, it’s more of a short story rather than a book, but still. It is the first episode in my (for me at least) long anticipated new book The Place Beyond the Courtyard. Titled Violence, it is a dystopian retelling of Dante Alighieri’s The Inferno. Here is the official synopsis:

Mizraph looks through the diamonds of a chain-link fence out to a world that doesn’t know he exists. He looks out to a world of darkness, where he knows war and death lies. Of course, these things also reside within the walls of the massive prison he and his brethren call Mazland. In a dystopian Russia, war cries out though the world, the skies are always gray, and death is a constant companion to those who reside in the massive prison-concentration camp where Mizraph lives. Mizraph has gone every day of his life beyond his twelfth believing that there is nothing waiting for him in the world, and he has gone every day knowing that his life was insignificant, but when he is bestowed his six year old brother, he suddenly realizes that he has a greater destiny, one that involves escaping the darkness: escaping hell. 

In the first episode of this haunting retelling of Dante’s Inferno, we are introduced to compelling characters, a dark setting where the wind’s song is a constant tune the prisoners tap to, and any man can die, we learn that violence can often be the only answer to peace.

Yeah, I know, sounds kind of awesome right? And it’s only 1.25! I’m getting .44 cents, so do me a solid, would yah? Just kidding, I’m not forcing you to buy it, I promise, I just thought that I should share it with you guys because this is a very exciting and proud moment for me, as for nearly a year and a half, I’ve been sitting on manuscripts, none of which I’ve published until this one (I’m only soliciting one and I’ve been rejected thrice now, maybe four times, I haven’t checked recently XD) and I feel like the hermit who’s finally come from under his shell with a great long beard and the sunlight burning his eyes, or in the case of The Place Beyond the Courtyard, the snow and wind blistering my skin (rhymes!). Again, I thought I’d share that with you guys, and if you would like to purchase it, it’s available on kindle, and you can see it here.

More posts soon guys, I really promise this time, I have two that I’m in the middle of writing right now, both of them about George R.R. Martin!