Friday, December 20, 2013

Homemade Native Style Christmas Ornaments

I love the holidays and the time we get to spend with family.

I made this plan with my kids that we would make at least one new ornament for the tree every year. 

These two pictures are this year's project.

The dress is made out felt and ribbon. Just needed glue to hold down the layers of ribbon. I used a little sewing skill to stitch the sides of the dress. Ojibwe style ribbon dress :)

The cradleboard was made out of popsicle sticks glued together. A piece of ribbon sewed on a piece of felt and ta-da.

What type of homemade ornaments do you and your family make?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New art projects

Just wanted to let everyone know that by the end of the month there are to going to be a lot of good changes happening to my etsy online store.  I am excited and feeling good about the coming changes. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A cage for me

It is funny. I always wanted a bird cage but never a bird.  There is something that makes me happy to see a candle burn inside a cage.

Maybe it is that I capture a piece of light and happiness.  It is the small things that make me happy.

What is a small token that you wanted? Something that maybe did not male sense to someone else but made you smile? Could it be a piece of a story?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A picture is worth a thousand words?

Could you create a story of a thousand words from one picture?

She looked around her in confusion. How did she get here? She calmed herself and would not let panic take control. She took deep breaths and let her training take over. She checked herself over and found that besides a few bruises and scrapes, she was fine. She study the area around her and filed it for later.
                She heard water, but not the flow of a river or stream. It sounded like the swishing of soft waves. She saw that she was completely boxed in by the birch trees that surrounded her. She did not live anywhere near these types of trees. She smelled the rot of leaves on the ground and a musky smell that put her on high alert.
                She felt a light mist on her arms and shivered when the wind shifted through the trees. She again wondered how she could be in this deserted place.
                She heard a noise, turned toward it and stumbled back. She tripped over a log and felt a stick jab her leg. She looked up at the sky and saw a swirl. Her head felt stuffy, she grabbed it as a loud piercing whistle drowned out all other sounds.
                She saw a person lean over her and she met hard eyes. She studied the face and could not figure out how she could be looking at herself. She did not have a twin. Who was this person.
                She saw something come at her head, she put up her hands too slowly and everything went black. (255)

It is a start and I think I will do this in four parts. Where would you go from here? And remember no zombies.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thanks for all the reviews of Hidden Powers

All of these reviews are on goodreads and to read the full reviews, please go there. Thank you so much for being a part of my journey and enjoying the characters that I created.

Hats off the the first Lakota author for writing this kind of material! Even though this book, Hidden Powers, was written for ages 10-14, I truly enjoyed it as an adult of 53 years old. . . .Even though she was an elf, I could relate very well to the part when she had to go into the water to get herself balanced and revitalized with energy. . .As I read this book, it definitely kept my interest and was so enjoyable to get lost in. Thank you, V. R. Janis, for taking me to a fantasy world for a time.
Oct 30, 2013 Woody rated it 3 of 5 stars
Reading a book written by a Native with elves and dwarfs is new to me. But it is nice to know someone has the motivation and imagination to write a book such as Hidden Powers. Reading (ABOUT THE AUTHOR), I feel she wrote to give the gift of stories to not only her children, but to all children and young adults. . . This book can be read to children and keep their minds going for hours. V R Janis takes the character Papakoosigun on a new and unknown trip through life. Many young adults can read and relate to Papakoosigun. Knowing it is just a story but still similar to reality and a time to just let their imaginations go with the story. A good read with many characters and covering the distance from the ocean to South Dakota If you want to relax and run in a imaginary world for a few hours read this book. It's a nice story.
Garvene rated it 3 of 5 stars
I think this book is a good book for a young adult or even an adult to read, I liked the thought that all the characters had native names, this is the first book I read that was written by a native, its good that there are native authors out there and have the imagination to write a fantasy book. I like the fact that they were elves. . .
Nov 07, 2013 Amberose A. rated it 5 of 5 stars
This book is a heartwarming tale filled with action, love, and wonder. The beginning was very entertaining because the action took place right away. The introduction of the main character and the emotions that she portrayed drew in attention. Mystery was a key element in the first and second chapters. . .The characters also had their unique qualities that really separated them from each other. This uniqueness made them and the story that much more believable.
Quincey Jones rated it 5 of 5 stars
I Loved the book, I already gave it to my 5 yr old daughter. I am not a hardcore book reader but the book caught my interest and I have to say it was a good read. It gave me a sense of pride to know that our native people are out there accomplishing great things. It is encouraging. I love the characters and the story. I look forward to the movie and I do plan on reading more of the Hidden Powers books. Thank you so much for being a positive aspiration to all of us in the Native Community. Congrats on your books.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Presenting to Middle School kids about being an Author

Yesterday was my blog day but I spent it with about 60 - 70 6th graders. It was well worth the time. I gave tips a couple of days ago about presenting, however when presenting to kids it is a whole different animal. In some ways it is comparable to walking a tight rope (not that I have done that).

This is the Tokens sign that caught everyone's attention and as an author sometimes that is half the battle. It is a fun aspect that I pulled from my book.

Here are Tips when presenting to kids:

  • Prepare a fun presentation.
  • Ask the kids questions.
  • Bring something that they can do. (I brought my what elf clan are you sign and quiz- it was a hit.)
  • Do a drawing (because I could not give away that many tokens - I did a drawing in class for a token after they took the quiz and some of the bookmarks)
  • Be prepared for the unexpected. (When the teacher turned her back one of the classes came running up to me and it was a little overwhelming- but it was also great to see their enthusiasm.)
  • Be yourself (there had to be a reason you wrote for children or young adults - use that to connect to the kids).
  • Most important - HAVE FUN (if you are having fun so will the kids.)

I loved the Experience here are some of the highlights.

  • One boy was looking at my book that was being passed around the room and he started reading it and did not want to pass it on. - I took this to heart.
  • One girl said she wanted to be a writer and was excited to meet me.
  • The classes had a lot of great questions.
  • The tokens were very popular, they were excited and talking about the different clans and which one they belonged in.
  • The teacher told me, I was inspiring for being positive and starting my empire with just my family and myself. (Empire? That was the first time that I heard that word associated with me and my work- I promise to not let my head get big.)

  •  It was inspiring to hear the teacher, staff and children so excited to meet me. Their want to read and write stories was inspiring and heart lifting. It was an experience I would definitely be willing to repeat. It was fun.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Presenting as an Author

   Presenting can be extremely intimidating, but there is a silver lining. You get to meet great people.

   This post is about some techniques to help with presenting but it is also about my experience on October 15 and 17.


  • Take a deep breath and know that it is okay and normal to feel nervous.
  • Powerpoint or Keynote are great tools to keep your presentation on task.
  • That said, it is important to not read bullet for bullet in your presentation - it should be a guide not a script.
  • Add personal experiences in your presentation.
  • Most important - be yourself.


I presented to two different college classes at Oglala Lakota College. It was a great experience and I meet some great people.

It was fun getting all the questions that I did.
  What is my writing process? I get an idea which is the easy part, then I outline the chapters and what I want to happen. I have a couple of  journals for ideas and keep a least one journal with me at all time. Last, I sit down and write with no worries about anything - I just want to get the story down.
   Why did I pick elves? I picked elves, because I see a parallel with the Native Americans and the elves. They are both are graceful, beautiful, strong, and care for the Earth.
  There were so many great questions and it was great connecting with the classes.

Another great thing that the instructor did was have the class read their favorite parts from "Hidden Powers" and it was an amazing and touching event. To hear the students favorite parts and how they connected to that part was - well there are no words for how it made me feel. 

I received some great compliments -
      I was admirable for having the strength to be myself and stay positive in my writing. (I try and I am thankful that others notice the positive that I try to carry in all aspects of my life. I also love being myself - who else would I be. I would rather be consider weird than a clone.)
      I am the Native American Harry Potter ( this is a great compliment because I love the Harry Potter books.)
      I am not a reader, but I could not put your book down. (This is the greatest compliment and makes my heart happy.)

All in all the time I spent with the classes was well worth it. I would love to do more presentation if the people are as nice and welcoming as what I experienced here. So a huge Migwetch (Thank you) to the Instructor and classes.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Native American Day

Tim Giago made a change for our people in 1990 and it is a small step in the right direction. Giago wrote an editorial in the Lakota Times in 1989 challenging Governor George Mickelson to introduce a Bill that would replace Columbus Day with Native American Day which is October 14.

This replacement was to honor the 300 Lakota men, women, and children who were slaughtered at Wounded Knee.

Giago did the editorial for the 100th anniversary in 1990 of the Wounded Knee Massacre.

South Dakota is the only state that celebrates Native American Day in lieu of Columbus Day.

However, not all parts of the United States celebrate Columbus Day. It is not a public holiday in California, Nevada and Hawaii.

It is good for people to understand the culture of Native Americans and this is one step in that direction.

So - from me to you - HAPPY NATIVE AMERICAN DAY!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

author swag Native Style

So I was thinking about how to promote my books and I thought that since they are a blend of Ojibwe / Lakota with fantasy. I love the term author swag and it is exciting to think of new ways to promote.

Book swag includes the free promo ideas that authors give away in order to promote their book. They hand them out everywhere they can bookstores, book signings, conferences, mailing them, including adding them to online book sales.

The basic swag is what everyone thinks of as book extras - bookmarks, pens, postcards, business cards, and notepads.

So I was thinking of new and interesting ways to share my books. These are the ideas that I have and I want to try at least a few of these.

A person needs to consider time, money and how to make them. However, thinking outside the circle and create some great ideas.

Swag needs to relate to the books of the author and be useful.

1) Little Books for Keychains. With the covers of the books and since it is a trilogy have all 3 made.

2) Beaded Bookmarks with the words HIDDEN POWERS. Use lazy stitch to make some.

3) Stickers. I love stickers and since it is a young adult book. I hope my readers enjoy them as much I do. Stickers of the book covers , but maybe I could do some with the clan symbols, a canoe and paddle, Respected Earth (an important group in the book).

4) Temporary Tattoos. Kids love these and they would awesome. Clan symbols would be the ideal tattoo.

5) Bandolier Bag. Instead of message bag or tote bag, it would interesting twist and great for carrying all kinds of book goodies.

6) Team Ishkode or Team Aki Buttons. The lead males in my books have their own teams.

7) Stuff Animals. Kestrels, dragons, fairies, unicorns, and other magical creatures that are key in my books would be awesome to have for a table.

8) Trading Cards. It would be interesting to create trading cards or playing cards based on the clans or powers of the characters.

9) First Chapter Booklets. I think that this would be an interesting addition to my tables.

10) Refrigerator Magnets. Either the clan symbols with the name of the book or Respected Earth.

11) Buttons. Saying Respected Earth, I Have Hidden Powers, (Akina inawem, akina manidoog, akina gikendaagozi, akina mikwendaagozi - All related, all spirits, all known, all remembered.- a saying in Hidden Powers.

12) Lanyards. Saying the same things that are on the buttons.

13) Paper weights. Saying the same as the buttons and maybe the clan symbols.

14) Sketchbook. In the new book that I am creating,  the main character is an artist - small sketchbooks would be a cute idea.

15) Door Hangers. Each door hanger would have room for the person's name and have saying for each clan.

16) Small Paddle. Creating a small charm for a keychain.

17) Book Plates. It would be fun to make these and design a few different templates.

18) Tokens. I have already made these for the four main clans and there is a five question quiz to see what clan you belong too.

19) Recipe Cards. Jean's Haven makes soup and sweet potatoe pie it would be a little fun to make a few.

20) Hair Sticks. The main character pulls her hair up with sticks that she carves herself. I may try to make them, just to try it.

21) Metal bracelets with carvings. This may be to expensive idea but it was interesting to think about making the bracelets (I may try to make some for my daughter for fun).

 22) Packs of Flowers. Having a pack stamped with the Hidden Powers for the fairies in the book.

23) Little Swords or foam swords for the blacksmith in the story.

24) Small Sailing Ship. Creating a small charm for a keychain.

25) Small Drum. Creating a small charm for a keychain.

Do any of you have ideas for your own book swag?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Storytelling - Keeping the Values

This is a short and sweet post due to the fact that we have only had power back on for 24 hours and there is still a lot to do :D

As we shoveled the 8 foot drifts and the neighbors came together to help one another. It made me think of something that one of the elders said - every minute is part of a story, we are creating a story right now.

This made me think about what kind of story will my children and grandchildren tell about me. Do I show and not just tell the stories our values. Generosity, Respect, Courage and Fortitude.

Sometimes the stories that we create are in our actions and not just words.

Do you think our actions today would be something that our ancestors would be proud of?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Here is the book trailer I created for Hidden Powers - Book 1 in the Hidden Magic Trilogy.

I used this wonderful site called Animoto. If you are trying to make a book trailer video this is the place to go.

This program is straight forward - you pick the song, pick the background, add the pictures and words and you create beauty.

Tell me your thoughts and what you think.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Storytelling with beadwork

In the past there was a story to the artwork that we put on our regalia. It told the story of who we were and where we are from. This day and age you can tell where a person comes from by what they wear.
 Floral are mainly associated with northern woodland tribes.
Geometric Patterns are associated with the plains tribe.
I did the butterflies on the turtle and the baby moccasins for a reason - they are associated with the children. In my tribe there is a story about how the butterflies helped the children learn to play and laugh. They watch over the children and are gentle spirits.
The beadwork that we put on the pieces that we wear tell a story about us as a person. It is our identity.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sweet Potato Pie Recipe from "Hidden Powers"

This is the sweet potato pie recipe that I am famous for much like the character Jean in Book 1 of "Hidden Powers."

One year we made about 12 of them and there were no leftovers.

You need:

1 (1 pound) sweet potato
1/2 cup of butter (softened)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of milk
2 eggs
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 unbaked pie crust (9in)

1) Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 40 - 50 minutes (until done). Run cold water over the potato and remove skin.

2) Mash potato in bowl. Add butter (mix). Mix in sugar, milk, eggs, pumpkin spice and vanilla. Mix until smooth.

3) Pour filling into unbaked pie crust. Add small chunks of butter on top.

4) Bake @ 350 degrees for 55 - 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Pie will puff up as it cooks and then sink as it cools.

Enjoy. I will have to see if I can find a picture of it. I am not known for taking pictures of my food, just for eating it. Happy cooking.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Birchbark Canoe - Ojibwe

Birchbark trees give us the materials for the birchbark canoe.

To the Ojibwe People the canoe was a way of life.

It was the transportation and a way to take care of the their families.

They fished and went to different camps over the lakes.

It was a part of them - they took good care of it and it helped take good care of them.

This video is about how to construct a birch bark canoe. This video was created by Lakeland PTV and they did an amazing job.

Watching this video made me feel connected to the past - it was created using the techniques that my ancestors used.

This video has the Ojibwe names for the parts of the canoe in it. This was created by skabewis. It is a small interview from Indian Country TV and I enjoyed listening to the elder speaking the Ojibwe Language.

Papakoosigun in "Hidden Powers has a trust in her canoe and she uses it in her quest to save the world. I put this in the book because the canoe is important to our people.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Magnificent Elf Mondays - What Characteristics Make You an Elf - Part 4

Over the past three weeks we covered the forest, fire and elemental elves. Now I will tell about the Ice Elves. There are four main types of elves in my first trilogy that is what this list is based on.


  • Loves the cold crisp air or winter.
  • Calm
  • Intelligent
  • Ambitious
  • Ones in the class to hand in their homework early
  • Solitary type of person but love their clan
  • Splendid in strategy
  • Skilled at constructing objects and creates inspiring pieces
  • Not afraid of a fight especially if it is for something they believe in
  • Believe in order and power above anything
  • Cause - Understanding Global Warming
  • Cause - Endangered Species 

Can you think of any other characteristics for a Ice Elf?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Magnificent Elf Mondays - What Characteristics Make You an Elf - Part 3

Over the past two weeks we covered the forest and fire elves. Now I will tell about the Elemental Elves. There are four main types of elves in my first trilogy that is what this list is based on.


  • Loves the cool spring air and storms.
  • Funny
  • Vibrant
  • Has lots of courage
  • Like class clowns in some cases
  • Like to make people smile and laugh
  • Amazing and a little scary at hand to hand combat
  • Loves anything to do with weather (especially when its weird)
  • Light up the room with their upbeat attitude
  • Believe in friendship and laughter above anything
  • Cause - Clean Water (we all need it :)
  • Cause - Endangered Species 

Can you think of any other characteristics for a Elemental Elf?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Magnificent Elf Mondays - What Characteristics Make You an Elf - Part 2

Being a Forest Elf, I did that one last week. Now I will tell about the Fire Elves. There are four main types of elves in my first trilogy that is what this list is based on.


  • Loves the heat of hot summers and forges.
  • Brave
  • Resourceful
  • Chivalrous
  • Remarkable Swordsmen or women
  • Great Survival Skills
  • Can adapt to any situation
  • Sometimes quick to anger or short fuse
  • Protects their friends and loved ones
  • Studies the people in a room and stands near the entrance
  • Believe in love and learning above anything
  • Cause - Renewable Energy - Solar :)
  • Cause - Endangered Species 

Can you think of any other characteristics for a Fire Elf?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Magnificent Elf Mondays - What Characteristics Make You an Elf

Being a Forest Elf I will start with them this week. There are four main types of elves in my first trilogy that is what this list is based on.


  • Loves color and cool temperatures of fall.
  • Honest
  • Loyal
  • Creative
  • Amazing archers
  • Interested in plants
  • Sometimes stubborn
  • Great at achieving goals
  • Sometimes shy like forest creatures
  • Stands back and observes their environment
  • Believe in family and equality above anything
  • Cause - Against Clear Cutting
  • Cause - Endangered Species 

Can you think of any other characteristics for a Forest Elf?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Magnificent Elf Mondays - New Book Release (Sneak Peek) - Stolen Light Book 1 of The Light Chronicles

I thought I would give you a sneak peek at the cover of my new book coming out. At the bottom of the post is another sneak peek of the 1st Chapter. Stolen Light is the first book in this new series I am starting called The Light Chronicles. It will be published and ready for sale in the next few weeks.

I used the Lakota Language in this book and some of the culture that I grew up in. I hope that everyone enjoys it.

Description:  Wakangli is a sheltered young maiden. She ventures on a sea voyage with her father and stumbles into an adventure that changes her life. People try to use her gifts, but she is unwilling to give what they want.

I know something is following me.
I saw the shadows of someone flirting from tree to tree. Were they friend or foe? I shifted so a tree was at my back, I wasn’t taking any chances.
My arrow was already notched, the string pulled taut. When I saw another movement on my right I released it. I took a deep breath as I heard the thud of the arrow hitting home.
The buck that I had been hunting took one staggering step and crumpled to the ground. That took care of one of the shadows I saw, but what about the others. I searched the area through my lashes as I bent my head to study the buck.  
The buck was huge, definitely weighing more than I did, most likely twice as much. I knew it was going to be hard to get him home by myself. I guess this is one of those moments that I would have to live with the consequences of my actions.
I was happy to have the buck, I just need to figure out a way to drag it back to the house.
My brother was miles away, hunting in the northern plains so his help was not an option. I preferred to hunt in the forest near our home. I guess this was just another thing that was different about us.
I was glad I didn’t miss the shot or my brother would never let me live it down. Not that I had missed a shot that close in a long time. Everything was a competition between us. Father would have been disappointed too, he expected the best from us.
I ran over to the buck and slit his neck to drain the blood. Then I pulled my arrow out. I laid my hand above the slit near his cheek.
“I am thankful, pikicila, older brother, for giving your life so I may live.”
I slit him from neck to rump and pulled out his insides. I kept the heart and liver, putting them back inside of him, so they would not get damaged.
I went to search for two young trees to make a travois to drag the buck home. I found two and  used my sword to cut them down. I put tobacco down as an offering for the lives I took.
I dragged the trees back to the buck and laid them down beside him. I was happy I decided to bring my rope.  I crossed the trees to make a triangle and then tied my rope around the spot where they met. I then draped the extra rope between the two trees so I would have a net to set his body on.
I grabbed his antlers and started to pull him onto my contraption. My muscles strained against the massive weight. I knew I could not have dragged him home any other way.
I heard a noise behind me. I started to glow as I dropped the antlers. I had my sword pointed at his throat before he took a step closer to me. I focused on calming myself down and my glow receded.
He looked comical and I knew I would not forget the look on his face anytime soon. He froze with one leg in the air and the other in tiptoe position. He started to shift for better balance, but it made the blade press deeper into his skin.
“Oh! Come on, Wakangli. I concede, you win. I told your brother this was not going to work.”
I held my sword steady, “What was not going to work, cousin?”
He huffed and started to raise his arms; I took a step closer, pressed my sword deeper and shook my head.
He growled, “Release me, wana!”
I laughed, “Or what?”
He started to grumble and mimic what my brother, “Iyatan said, ‘Sneak up on her and try to make her miss her shot. It will be easy to do.’"
His voice returned to normal,  “Easy does not begin to describe how this was for you.
I still held the sword against him while I reached back into my belt for my knife. I threw it toward the right of me into a tree right next to my other cousin’s head.
He flew to the ground and started shouting, “Holy Tatanka! Wakangli you could have hit me. We surrender.”
I laughed, “I wasn’t even close. Now what should I do with you two?” I looked to my younger cousin on the ground, “Tanagila, you will help drag the deer back.”
He stuttered in indignations, “Bbbbut . . . but. That’s not fair.”
I looked at my other cousin still posed and starting to sweat, “Wagnuka, you can take a turn.”
I lowered my sword and slid it in its sleeve. He lowered his head and stomped away. “No! No, fairy princess. I will not help.”
I hated when they called me that, it was what my father called me. It made me seem as if I were delicate, that was one thing I was not.
I walked over toward my knife and yanked it from the tree.
I could not meet Tanagila’s eyes, even though he kept trying to catch mine. I  was keeping  track of him so I would not accidently meet his gaze. We both stood next to the tree, watching as Wagnuka ran for home.
“I am sorry tree, I did not want to hurt you, but I think I would have been in more trouble with a hole in my cousin.”
I sent some of my energy into the tree and helped it heal. Then I turned toward Tanagila.
“What is the matter with him? Why is he so mad? I wasn’t going to hurt him and he knew it. I just like to make him sweat.”
“You know how he is, he takes things to the heart. He almost had you. You have to admit, he was almost upon you. It bothers him that he can never get the best of you.”
“I heard the crinkle of the leaves, it could have been anything, but I try to always stay on my guard. That is what father drills into my head every day."
He shrugged his shoulders as I continued, "You two should know that, father makes you train with him too. No hard feelings?”
“No hard feelings from me. I can’t speak for Wagnuka. You do make a habit of frustrating us most of the time.”
“Oh well, I guess I will have to deal with him sooner or later. Hopefully, later. You do have perfect timing; I needed some help to drag this home.
"It will go faster this way. If we take turns, we both won’t get so tired. When we get home I will make you a cake, after. . . .”
“Let’s go then,” Tanagila smiled and grabbed up the poles.
I knew that I had to wait a minute to talk again, nothing was going to get into his head after he heard cake. He had a one-track mind usually and most of the time it was pointed toward food.
“You do have to do something and you don’t have a choice.” I grinned wickedly at Tanagila. “You have to help me get back at Iyatan.”
He grinned, “With pleasure.”
The hike back to the house didn't take long with Tanagila and me working together. We passed the time planning our attack on Iyatan.
The hill going up to the house was going to be the end of me. My arms were burning and Tanagila was grinning as he pushed the travois while I dragged it. I yanked hard and landed on my butt. Tanagila laughed until he was on the ground next to me.
“Your face was amazing, the shock and indignation, it is just too bad no one else was around."
He looked around and then shrugged, " Maybe I can use it for blackmail at a later time.”
I lifted my end of the travois and glared at him.
Then I grinned at him, "Go ahead and try, we'll see what happens."
He started laughing again, “Okay, I am ready, don’t be so sensitive.”
We dragged the deer to the back of the house, where a table sat waiting. We use this table when we were preparing the animals for the pot. I grabbed a knife out of the box sitting under the table and  started cutting it up.
Since my brother, our cousins and I were the main people to use the knives, it was considered our job to make sure they were clean and sharp. The table and knives always had to be ready for the next person to use. It was a dirty job, but I didn’t mind.
We knew no one would cut up the deer and haul it inside for us. We would receive no help because most of the hunters were gone. One of our rules is 'If you brought it to the house then you had to prepare it.'
The cook loved fresh meat, but she wanted it off the animal. She always got sad when she saw the animal’s faces. I felt for her, so all this work was worth it because she was a good cook.
Tanagila helped me carry the meat in the kitchen for the cook to deal with and then went to his room. I went back outside and stretched out the hide between rods that formed a square. The stretching rack was situated against the house. I could hear Tanagila singing as he cleaned up and my brain was screaming at me to make it stop. He meant well, but he could not carry a tone.
I grabbed a scraper out of the box and spent hours  scraping it clean. Then I left it to dry in the sun, so it would be ready to bury in ashes.
While I was cleaning up the scraps, Tanagila tried to creep up behind me.
“Nice try, but you sound like a skunk running through the bushes. Are you sure you cleaned up, you smell like one too?
"Did you get what we need, Tanagila?”
“How did you know it was me? I could have been the enemy or Wagnuka.”
“I knew.”
I threw a scrape at him and he screamed, “Hey! I'm clean.”
“You got clean too fast, Tanagila. I still need help to clean the table and knives. You know that we cannot leave it like this.”
“Fine I will help you, but if you put any of this stuff on me, I’m gone.”
“Let me see the bag and what you brought me, my favorite, most loved cousin.”
He grinned as he handed over the bag, “Flattery will not get you anywhere, cousin.”
I laughed as I opened the bag and found a drum stuffed in. We were going to scare a big headed hunter, he didn't know what was coming for him. I looked up and grinned.
I went to the stables and stepped up to the stall holding my horse, Wicahpi. I rubbed my hand down her white forehead and patted her neck. She was a beauty, with her full white body, silver mane and tail.
She was breed by an Elvin horse master from our continent, Tatowapa. The land of my birth was known for horses, sailing and the people that were the natives of the land. The wind was a constant companion on the island; maybe that is why sailing and merchants were the main income for our people. I am proud of my homeland.
I wanted to see the other continent called Aglapta, that was home to the other elves. I heard that it is a cold place where it rains constantly. This is where many of the storytellers born to our people are from. I wonder if I would like this place.
I opened the stall and walked Wicahpi out. I was going to jump on her back, but she stepped away from me.
“We are going to get Iyatan back and I need your help. Will you help me?”
Wicahpi shook her head back and forth sharply, then headed back for her stall.
“Iyokipi, you won’t get in trouble if we are caught. You will be back in your stall before the night comes fully.”
Wicahpi stopped and turned to look at me.
“Please! I will give you extra oats.”
Her head started to nod before I even finished speaking. I knew if she disagreed with what I was up to the best way to get her to help was to bribe her. The best way to bribe her was through her stomach and sometimes a good brushing.
“Thank you. Thank you so much. Now, we are going to the edge of the north forest. We need to go as fast as we can before Iyatan comes home.”
We sped across the land with Tanagila and Wagnuka behind us. Wagnuka glared daggers at me, making me wished he had stayed behind, but he still followed. We made it to the edge of the forest and spotted Iyatan’s horse. We led our horses behind a bend in the trees and headed into the plains.
We did not go very far out into the grasslands before we spotted Iyatan. Tanagila crawled over to me and handed me the drum. Then we stayed on the ground waiting.
Iyatan crept slowly toward us, keeping his eye on his target, a herd of buffalo. His back toward us, unaware of the scare he was about to receive. He stepped closer, but I waited until he was right in front of us. I sprung up pounding the drum.
My brother shot up into the air shouting and screaming, “Wakangli! How dare you!”
I started laughing.
I did not say anything and I motioned to Tanagila to wait and be quiet. I looked around, but did not see Wagnuka anywhere.
“Wakangli! I can’t believe you did that. You ruined the hunt.”
I felt the ground rumble and looked up to see the herd of buffalo that my brother had been stalking stampeding toward us. I grabbed at Tanagila’s shirt and ran for the trees. Iyatan didn’t have time to run and was caught in the middle of the herd. It seemed to take forever for the end of the herd to pass. Iyatan lay sprawled on ground not moving.
Tanagila ran up to him and ended up on his back with Iyatan leaning over him. Iyatan was glowering so much his blond hair seemed to have gained a red tint.
He was bleeding from his head and he curled in toward his stomach. I felt so guilty, I knew it was time for me to face him. I jumped and ran from the tree I was hiding in and came up behind him.
“Iyatan, are you okay?”
“Yeah, I am fine, no thanks to you. I used the earth to give me strength.”
“I’m sorry, your trick could have ended just as badly.”
“So play nice and I will. You know it was your fault, you started it.”
He turned toward me with murder in his eyes. He didn’t say anything, but spun away and started shuffling toward his horse. I yanked Tanagila to his feet and followed.
“Come on, Iyatan. It was a joke just like the joke you had Tanagila and Wagnuka play on me. It was fair and we did not mean for anyone to get hurt.”
“Fine! You win, Wakangli. I should not have played a trick on you.”
“Then stop pouting.”
“You cost me the hunt. Also my head and side hurts." He smiled in excitement, despite his anger and pain, "We need to hurry home, we sail in two days. That was a good trick though, you scared me."
He frowned, "You know if we did not have magic that would have ended me, right?”
“Niye? The almighty Iyatan. I did not think that it was possible. Thinking about it now, it was not the best idea I have ever had. I am glad you are okay, brother.”
I grinned and he grinned in response, he nodded his head. After I handed the drum to Tanagila, I walked to Iyatan’s side. Wagnuka seemed to have disappeared. I whistled for Wicahpi when we cleared the trees.
My horse didn't come when I whistled. She always came when I called even when she was mad at me. Tanagila’s horse was missing as well. The only horse still around was Pailepi, Iyatan’s charger. The ground was churned up around him and he was panting.
We tried to get near Pailepi, but he danced away from us and reared up.  
We had to get Iyatan up on his horse.
I looked around one last time, “I wonder where Wagnuka went to?”
Iyatan sighed impatiently, “I don’t know, and right now I don’t care. We need to hurry to get back before father finds us gone.”
I laughed, “You didn’t tell father that you were going hunting either? We had better hurry than or else suffer some crazy punishment.”
We finally got Iyatan on Pailepi’s back and started the long trek home. We kept a steady pace, letting Iyatan carry the drum as we walked.
Iyatan had mischievousness flowing in his eyes as I looked at him, "What is it, Iyatan?"
Iyatan looked at me with innocence, "I could not find my sock this morning. I was wondering if you could help me find it when we get home? Please."
I groaned as the sock began to glow, there was nothing that I could do to stop it. Once someone mentioned something lost, my powers kick in. The sock pulled me toward it, wanting to be found.
When we reached the house, father was standing on the porch waiting. His arms were crossed over his barrel chest. I reached for the drum and held it in front of me like a shield of armor. I was aching to go get the sock. I forced myself to stay still to look at my father, after I sent a glare at Iyatan.
            His booming voice echoing in my ears, “I heard a story of a drum disappearing minutes before my daughter, son and nephew vanish. I looked all over for you and all I find is Wagnuka sitting and packing for the voyage. What do you have to say for yourselves?”
            I could not meet his eyes, “I borrowed the drum, and see here it is.”
            My father’s eyes bulged with anger, “I am looking at it and am sorely disappointed. It took a long time to make that drum and so short of a time to destroy it.
            "Tomorrow the three of you will tan hides and make drums. Then when we set sail, you can use your time to fix the drum and you will not help on the ship until it is done. Go clean up for supper.”
            I bowed my head and went past my father; I knew when a battle was lost. The disappointment coming from his eyes was worse than the punishment.
I ran and grabbed my brother's sock. Then threw it in his face. I went to my room and thought about how much trouble my brother and cousin got into because of me.
I snuck out of my window and went to Wicahpi’s stall. She was pacing in agitation, but calmed a little when I walked in.
“Where did you go earlier? You left me out there and I had to walk back.”
She snorted and shook her head.
“I understand it was not your fault. What should I do?”
I laid my head on her neck and thought about what my father had said and how he looked. I absently filled Wicahpi’s grain bucket and placed it at her feet. I patted her neck as she bent her head to eat. She raised her head, nudged and then went back to eating.
My father was always talking about how he wanted me to be mature and show him I knew the meaning of responsibility. I would show him.
I went to my father in his study, one of my favorite places to lose myself. The smell of the fireplace and books was comforting. This was our spot. My brother and cousins hated coming in here unless it was for lessons, and then they left quickly. Sometimes I would curl in an armchair with a book while my father worked at his desk. We shared comfortable silence.
He sat at his desk as I peeked around the door. He filled his chair and it seemed to groan under his giant stature. He was a tall, strong man and he knew his size intimidated people. He looked up as I called.
“Ate, can I talk to you for a minute? It's about earlier.”
He stared up at me with solemn eyes, “Han.”
“It was my fault the drum was ruined. I do not think it fair Tanagila and Iyatan have to suffer. They really want to learn about the ship. I take full responsibility for the drum.”
My father’s booming laugh startled me, “If you want to take the punishment for them that's fine, but I know they had a guilty hand in the mischief too.”
“I want to take the punishment.”
“I see, well maybe they will owe you.”
“Ate,” I sighed, “that is not why I did it. You should know me better than that.”
My father winked at me, “I believe I know you very well, my mischievous fairy princess.”
I grinned.
He laughed again, “Call them in.”
I went to search for the boys and found them taking care of Iyatan’s head in the kitchen.
“Ate wants to see both of you.”
My words made them both jump. They followed me back into the study, heads bowed.
“Boys, I have some interesting news for you. You will not being partaking in the punishment of tanning hides or fixing drums. Wakangli has asked to do it alone.”
Their heads whipped up and stared at me with their mouths hanging open. I stared back with a blank face.
Iyatan turned his head slowly back to our father, “But . . . . but that . . . .”
My father held out his hand, silence fell quickly. “I did not command she do this, it is her choice. She will do the punishment and you both will help load the ships. You can go. Wakangli, wait one minute.”
The boys left and closed the door softly behind them. I turned toward my father and smiled. He held out his arms for a hug. I hugged him and he held me to his side as he talked.
“I am proud of you, you did a good thing.” I glowed with pleasure until he spoke again. “But you should probably get some sleep; it is going to be hard work tanning hides tomorrow.”
My shoulders slumped, “Okay.” I walked to the door slowly.
“Oh, and Wakangli.” I lifted my head to see the huge grin on his face, “I will make sure they have hot water ready for you when you are done. We don’t want you smelling like the tanning house when we travel. Don’t forget to pack.”
I stuck my tongue out at him and stomped to the door. His laughter followed me all the way to my room.
I was happy that we did not leave the day with us both angry. I was not looking forward to the punishment, but at least my heart felt lighter.
I went to sleep thinking about sailing.