Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Submission Roller Coaster: Special Announcement!!!

If you've ever submitted writing, you know all about the Submission Roller Coaster.  For those of you who haven't experienced this up-and-down-and-all-around ride, let me enlighten you.

While writing the piece, you're going up up up up, only able to see the clouds. A tremendous sensation of "absolutely anything can happen" (complete with Ellie Golding singing in your ear) fills your entire being. All of a sudden you're done writing and revising and then you're teetering on the very top of a hill. Just as you hit the send button on the email containing your masterpiece, all that you can think is "WHY DID I DO THAT?!"

Followed by "I'M NEVER WRITING ANYTHING AGAIN IN MY LIFE OH MY GOSH WHAT POSSESSED ME TO DO THIS I CAN'T WRITE I CAN'T WRITE WHY DID I EVER THINK I COULD?!" Butterflies explode in your stomach as you race down the track, absolutely positive that you'll fall and hit the pavement below you.

But then. . .miraculously, you're going up a hill again. Maybe I'm not a fail. Maybe they'll publish it. Maybe J.K. Rowling will see it and offer to help get me a publishing deal for my book. Maybe Tom Hiddleston will see it and fall madly in love with me. Maybe. . .maybe. . .maybe. . .


Next, you're upside down, sure that you're going to die and live at the same time. Maybe someone will fund my entire writing career. "NOPE I'M GONNA DIE GONNA DIE GONNA DIEEEE!!" Maybe I'll change someone's life. "NOPE SOMEONE IS GOING TO SHOW UP AT YOUR HOUSE WITH A GUN AND FORCE YOU NEVER TO WRITE ANOTHER WORD AGAIN."

Sorry, guys. I'm a major drama queen.

This whole cycle repeats itself a few more times and then it's over, either ended by a acceptance or a rejection, or by just plain forgetfulness.

Anyway. . .

I submitted an article the Life Teen blog (I blogged about one of their posts here) back in April (thus boarding the Submission Roller Coaster). This blog is so incredible and has helped me grow so much as a person over the past few years. They were looking for articles from teens, so I submitted one. Yikes. Needless to say, it was a rough few weeks following the submission.
By the end of April, I had completely forgotten about it. The musical I was in, plus general end-of-year stuff, pushed it out of my mind. Or maybe I made myself forget about it because I thought I'd made a mistake in submitting it.

So it was to my great delight and surprise when I received an email from the ultra-amazing Christina Mead of Life Teen this past Monday, apologizing that it had taken so long to get back to me and that she'd love to publish my post!


Of course, I screamed (#dramaqueen). I mean, it's not a huge deal, but it's a slightly big deal. Life Teen has changed and impacted so many lives (including mine) so the fact that God could potentially use my writing to bring His love to someone is totally humbling.

Side story-- my sister came running into my room after I screamed with a box of tissues saying "Oh my gosh, you are such a baby, where is it?!"

"Where is what?"

"The spider. Isn't that why you screamed?"

Hahaha. Very funny.

So head on over to Life Teen to read my post and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

Title: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
Author: Betty Smith
Rating: PG14 for mature content

I don't know Betty Smith. Technically speaking, I really can't know her, since she passed away before I was born. I don't really know anything about her, either, besides that she (1) isn't living (which I just found out by Googling, so I'm not sure if it counts) and (2) wrote A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. So, needless to say, I do not know anything about her writing process.

But I think I have a good idea of how it went.

What happened was that she went to New York (where the story takes place) with a book full of blank pages. She sat down on a busy corner with people bustling about, jostling each other, eagerly coming and going. She opened the blank little book and the wind blew words into its pages. Words soaked heavily in life. And, viola, the book was written.

Words cooperate exceptionally well with her. IF ONLY I TOO WOULD BE SO LUCKY.

Anyway, life imprinted itself on the very pages of her novel. If I had to describe the novel with one word that's what I would say: it's just life.

The life of Francie Nolan, the lives of her family, of her friends, of those around her. . .living, breathing, doing regular, day-to-day things that are common and ordinary (to them). I exhibited all the signs of reading a thriller while reading this book: sitting on the edge of my seat, staying up all night haunted by thoughts, tears streaming down my face, lip biting because of nervousness. But no, it's simply a work of historical fiction, so realistically beautiful.

This book renewed my appreciation for life-- both writing it and living it. It encouraged me to notice seemingly little things more (because that's what's really important) and not to get so upset with seemingly big things (because they too will pass).

Honestly, there are no words in the English language to express the brilliance of Betty Smith and her novel. Her novel is about a journey called life, with heartbreak, joy, tears, and love we can all relate to.

ALSO: Check back this Friday for a special announcement!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Reason Why I Write: The Beauty Of A Friend

Ah, I should get the worst blogger of the year award for how much I neglect this baby. *Sigh* Honestly, I think about it so much and all the magnificent posts I have planned, but, alas, these ideas never seem to leave my head.

But this one idea has been pounding inside my brain, begging to be exhaled onto a piece of paper.

I have had an insane start to the year. I brought the New Year in with my bestest friend and cousin, toasting to turning fourteen (her) and turning sixteen (me) and being grown up and evil schemes and writing books and starting high school (her) and only having two years left (me) and all sorts of nonsense. Then we preceeded to stay up until-- er, let's just leave it at very late (or, um, early), as my mother reads this blog.

Additionally, I was fortunate to be able to stand for life in Washington, D.C. this January with some of my favorite people in the world from local youth groups. I was blest to go to a Matt Maher concert, who I have postively adored since I was, like, six. He led Eucharistic Adoration (as Catholics, we honor the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ present during this sacrament) one night and it was seriously one of the most beautiful things I've ever expirienced.

Another absolutely amazing event that took place was my aunt's wedding on February 1st. . .that was incredible. It was an added bonus that I was able to go home to Erie for the wedding! And that I got to hang out with my crazy cousin =)

Oh, and I've had close to fifteen snow days. Which has been incredible because I've accomplished a ton in regaurds to my WIP. But it's absolutely unheard of, from where I've come from. Even one snow day is absolutely unacceptable, though there is easily enough snow in Erie, Pennsylvannia to warrant it, thank you very much.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), though 2014 has been crazy so far, I have had plenty of time to think. And about fifty-percent of the time, when I'm thinking, I'm thinking about Erie. I'm thinking about things I've said and done, about people I've loved and people I've hated-- ahem, disliked. I've thought about things I've written and what made me write them. I've also been thinking about the reasons why I write, as I've been finding it harder and harder to just Sit Down And Write.

And then, through my rememberings and thinkings, BAM, it hit me. Figuratively, of course.

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time (ahem, like sevenish years ago), there was a young, impressonable, aspiring writer. . .who still is that way. Anyhow, so I was friends with this other girl who I shared much in common with. Same beliefs, same school (or homeschool program, rather), same grade, and similar interests. Yes, she was a writer too. And our parents were basically best friends, so that's always helpful when two girls are knieveing to hang out.

We didn't see each other as much as we wanted to (maybe once, twice, three times a month), due to a variety of reasons, but everytime we hung out it was like the best day of my life. Not neccessarily when other girls were involved-- you know those friends that are just better one on one? That was us. But when we did hang out, just us, my entire body hurt from smiling and laughing my head off.

And of course, the best part of our friendship was the writing aspect. I can still see her in my mind, sitting on the queen-size bed in our old guest room as I explained to her the latest developement in my plot. I remember laying on her bedroom floor, pouring over her latest draft. She was the Best Writer Ever to me and I was always secretly jealous of how well she could string words together. And her plots were fantastic. After I read parts of her story, I would be in a daze for many hours to come.

My absolute favorite memory with her, though, is the day that I told her I liked to write. Maybe it wasn't that day that I told her, actually, but it was the first day that she had read anything I had every written. She was so impressed (probably much more then the piece deserved) and INSISTED that I read it to her family.

The second best part of going to her house (the first being her, of course) was her family. I don't remember ever being that included and welcomed and loved in a family that I wasn't even related to. I remember sitting at her kitchen table, just talking to her parents.

Anyway, so after dinner, her whole family gathered in their living room (there were at least four kids, at this point-- they now have six, just like us), and I read my story. Not the whole thing (the whole thing never actually ended up being written), it was just a chapter or two. But I finished and they clapped and hugged me and told me what a good writer I was and clapped and hugged some more.

If I live to publish a million books and am on every TV and radio talk show in the world, those events will never come close to that moment, in her dimly lit living room, with her family squished together on the couch, listening intently as I read about Beth Kingston, a 12-year-old who gets transported back to Camelot.

Unfortunately, life has come between me and my first real writing friend. We went to the same high school and ended up in different social circles and didn't talk very much. Life has a way of twisting people and friendships so that they are completely unrecognizable from when we first met, from when we first began. But I greatly regret letting such a valuable friendship slip away so easily.

So, this is a reason why I write. She is.

She was the first person (outside of my family) to tell me I could write. To be interested in where my story was going. To tell me to never give up, to never stop writing. She made me feel special, like I had so much potential. She encouraged me to push on, even on hard days. She told me not to let life get in the way of writing.

My eyes are full of tears as I type this. Some people are just so beautiful, you know? Those little moments spent with some people are what make a life a life, what make it all worthwhile. So I suppose this post is begging to be ended with one of the most common of sentiments: remember the little moments. Don't be lost in the past, but don't be so fixated on the future that you forget to look in the rear-veiw mirror once in a while.

And, though we often find ourselves moving on and being moved on from, let us remember the wise words of L.M. Montgomery, delievered from Anne Shirley: "True friends will always remain together in spirit."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

IWSG: A Day Late!

First Wed of Every Month
(Check out the IWSG website here.)

So sorry, dear followers for missing last month and being late on this month's IWSG post! I had a terrible cold-ish thing going on last month and was basically dead for three days. . .anyway, all better now!

I found this FANTASTIC article that basically resonated with all my insecurities about writing. The article, titled "8 Bad Habits that Crush Your Creativity and Stifle Your Success" (http://www.copyblogger.com/creativity-killers/) and written by Dean Rieck, actually empowered me greatly to get over this insecurities. That first step to solving a problem is identifying it, right?

Anyway, here are the 8 things:

1. Creating and evaluating at the same time
"Most people evaluate too soon and too often, and therefore create less. In order to create more and better ideas, you must separate creation from evaluation, coming up with lots of ideas first, then judging their worth later."

2. The Expert Syndrome
"This a big problem in any field where there are lots of gurus who tell you their secrets of success. It’s wise to listen, but unwise to follow without question."

3. Fear of failure
". . .if you try too hard to avoid failure, you’ll also avoid success. It has been said that to increase your success rate, you should aim to make more mistakes. In other words, take more chances and you’ll succeed more often. Those few really great ideas you come up with will more than compensate for all the dumb mistakes you make."

4. Fear of ambiguity
"What I do know is that most great creative ideas emerge from a swirl of chaos. You must develop a part of yourself that is comfortable with mess and confusion. You should become comfortable with things that work even when you don’t understand why."

5. Lack of confidence
"Instead of dividing the world into the possible and impossible, divide it into what you’ve tried and what you haven’t tried. There are a million pathways to success."

6. Discouragement from other people
"The path to every victory is paved with predictions of failure. And once you have a big win under your belt, all the naysayers will shut their noise and see you for what you are — a creative force to be reckoned with."

7. Being overwhelmed by information
"It’s been said that information is to the brain what food is to the body. True enough. But just as you can overeat, you can also overthink."

8. Being trapped by false limits
"We’re all a product of our experience. But the limitations we have are self-imposed. They are false limits. Only when you force yourself to look past what you know and feel comfortable with can you come up with the breakthrough ideas you’re looking for.
"Be open to anything. Step outside your comfort zone. Consider how those in unrelated areas do what they do. What seems impossible today may seem surprisingly doable tomorrow."

Interesting thoughts, no?
Hope you all had a very blessed Christmas season and all the best for 2014!