“I’d take my favorite fairytale stories, and I would make my own version of them,” she said. Ethan’s favorite, The Three Little Pigs, assumed a brand-new dimension when Sahara combined the age-old tale with her brother’s modern-day favorite, Toy Story.
Before she had learned to read at age 5, Sahara Moran’s mom and grandmother had read to her regularly; and even before her verbal skills allowed her to tell stories aloud, she produced pictorial ones using pencil and paper. Then when Ethan was old enough, she fascinated him with the tales that by now were familiar old friends to her.
After the arrival of the two youngest Moran children, Connor and Dylan, “storytime” took on a new dimension. The four of them now file into the back yard and, using a supply of costumes they have amassed through the years, actually dramatize their own fantastical plots.
“We all have good imaginations,” Sahara observed.
Throughout her life, the 15-year-old has been “immersed in books,” said her mother, Lesia. Her bedroom is filled with bookcases—four of them—and every shelf is lined with literature.
An exceptionally-bright young woman with a quiet smile that belies a nature tending toward the serious, Sahara has always been ready to tackle any reading challenge. Simply put, she loves to curl up with a good book.
Last fall, Sahara attacked a rigorous project that would have made a seasoned writer cringe. She entered a writing competition designed for young people; and in a 30-day span—the entire month of November—she penned the rough draft of a book that contained more than 50,000 words.
On December 5, she was notified that her manuscript was one of the contest winners and as a result, was accepted for publication.
Sahara then embarked on the second phase of her enterprise. She was given until June 29 of this year to edit and revise the original draft and re-submit it, this time for publication.
She added characters and removed entire portions of the initial manuscript, and her mother edited the revision, piece by piece. By June 28, the polishing was complete and the final draft submitted.
Then on July 1, the fruit of her labor, The Midnight Labyrinth, was released and is being sold on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.
The book is the first in a trilogy—The Guardian Chronicles—and Sahara has already begun work on the second installment, Tome of Blood. Most of the Labyrinth characters will appear in that book, as well, she advised.
And by the way, she dedicated the novel to her oldest brother with the words, “To Ethan, the first to listen to my stories. You’re an awesome brother!”
Irresistible challengeLast year, Sahara joined an online forum for young writers that she discovered through the website of one of her favorite authors, Wayne Thomas Batson, who writes fantasy books with Christian themes for young adults.
This site allowed her to converse online with other aspiring young writers. Here, the teens were able to chat, exchange ideas, share excerpts of their writings, and sometimes even critique each other’s efforts.
Through this forum, Sahara also learned of an annual competition that piqued her interest—the Young Writers Program sponsored by the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This online program is designed for youth from the age of 13 or 14 through young adult.
Several of her newfound literary friends encouraged her to enter.
“Could you please join?” Sahara paraphrased the urging of one of them. “You’d probably have fun with it.”
It would be an arduous task. Of this, she was certain. But on the other hand, it would be infinitely rewarding if she succeeded. So she threw caution aside and waded in.
As an entrant, she had to complete the rough draft of a novel, and to accomplish the daunting task in 30 days.
Tens of thousands of aspirants signed on for last year’s contest, Lesia noted.
So as she sat at the computer on Tuesday, November 1, Sahara began to allow her fingers to translate into words the rich tapestry of images that filled her mind..
She found her thesaurus to be an indispensable sidekick, helping her find the precise word to convey exactly what she wanted to say. In fact, she used this tool “all the time,” she admitted. “It’s my best friend in writing.”
Finding the time to work on the manuscript was, in itself, a challenge. Sahara, who is homeschooled, was in the midst of her freshman year, so of course, she devoted a great deal of time to her studies.
And then there was the play. She had accepted a role in a comedy, Beowulf on a Budget, that was presented by the homeschool co-op in which the Moran family participates.
And if these commitments weren’t enough, there were the weekly co-op courses in Lawton. And her daily chores. And Thanksgiving.
Despite all the demands that ate away at her days like hungry little Pac Men, she somehow managed to continue to make progress on the book. However, by the final week or so, she was beginning to feel the “crunch.”
Sahara’s days had grown longer—beginning early in the morning and sometimes stretching past her customary bedtime; yet, she was still floundering.
So during the last week, Larry and Lesia allowed her to suspend her studies temporarily, and Ethan performed her chores.
“If she was that dedicated,” Lesia explained, “we needed to let her have that.”
Sahara’s family was supportive of her venture throughout both the original draft and the revision. Her mother’s positive responses after editing the various segments of the book reinvigorated her resolve, and her father was a calming influence when she became flustered.
Ethan helped out wherever he could, even relieving her of her chores and “not complaining—too much (wink),” Sahara wrote in the novel’s acknowledgements section. She also thanked Connor and Dylan, “my two crazy baby brothers,” for their excitement—particularly Connor, who monitored her progress on an hourly basis.
In the final analysis, Sahara met both deadlines, producing a chronicle with 34 chapters and more than 350 pages.
She has received three reviews—all with five-star ratings—on Amazon so far.
Professional writerThe novel was officially released on July 1 and should be available locally by sometime this week.
The next order of business for the young author is the promotional phase. This Saturday, copies of the book will be on display at Hastings in Duncan during a book-signing featuring Sahara and The Midnight Labyrinth. The event is scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m.
Then on Thursday, September 27, a Meet the Author opportunity at the Garland Smith Public Library here in Marlow will showcase Sahara and her novel. This event is slated for 6 to 8 p.m.
A second book-signing is scheduled for Saturday, October 6, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Salt Cellar in Lawton.
And Sahara will also be in the spotlight on Local Author Day at the Duncan Public Library on Saturday, October 13, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
She is considering enrolling in online university writing courses and aspires to a lifetime profession as an author.
SynopsisThe protagonists of The Midnight Labyrinth are Arella, a young thief dubbed “the alley cat” by the villagers of Aselda, and King Hansrai III, the ruler of that village.
As Arella struggles with the ghosts of her dark past, ghosts she dare not reveal to anyone—not even her younger brother Jared—she realizes that her secrets may be destroying her soul, but she is not prepared to reveal them—not yet.
She and Jared have never known what it means to lead a “normal life.”
In the strange castle on Mount Edavni, Hansrai faces his own ghosts. He is young and inexperienced and fears he will fail his subjects, just as his ancestors have. Moreover, his advisor, Abraxas, is not one to be trusted.
Arella’s and Hansrai’s paths converge and launch them on an adventure neither had ever imagined.
EpilogueThe introduction to Sahara’s acknowledgements provides a keen insight into the soul of the young author:
“First of all, I give all the praise to God. The one who created me and gave me the love for writing. Without Him nothing is possible. . . .”