Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Zzz, Don't Make Your Readers!





Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the LAST post of the A to Z Challenge here at AM Station. I've spent the last month sharing my writing rules, opinions, and experiences. Hopefully you've learned something or been inspired! I have so, so enjoyed talking to all of you and meeting so many bloggers.

But! More on that on MAY 4TH! Be sure to check back!!

Perhaps I should have started with this post. But the alphabet doesn't start with Z, so that wouldn't have worked out too well.


I have seen so many series of books become sooooooo boring after the first one. Divergent and Hunger Games are prime examples. Reading Allegiant and Mocking Jay felt like trudging through quicksand at some points.

Now, obviously, just like everything else here, these are just my opinions.

But to me, it felt like the excitement wore off for the author, and so it also wore off for me, the reader. This may not be true, maybe Veronica Roth was writing Allegiant with a butt load of caffeine in her system, but to me, it felt like not so much.

I've touched on this already this month, but WRITE WHAT IS INTERESTING TO YOU! If you're bored, then SWITCH THE SCENE, SWITCH THE POV, SWITCH THE TENSE, SWITCH SOMETHING.

I'm really not yelling. Okay, maybe. I'm tired. I CAN'T BELIEVE I'VE MADE IT THROUGH THIS MONTH.

*does happy dance*

Um, yeah, no. I'm in my bed and I am too lazy to even reach for my teddy bear that just fell. Joking. If I don't, the monsters under my bed will eat him.

When it comes to keeping blog posts interesting (hopefully mine are, lol, that would actually be really funny if they aren't and I'm giving advice on how to keep posts interesting--pretty typical) is to USE CAPITAL LETTERS. Joking.

Well, maybe not. If that's your personality, do it. Let YOU shine through in what you do. When people I know read my blog, they tell me that they can hear me saying the words in their heads. That makes me happy =) Don't be afraid to just be YOU and put yourself out there!

Don't don't don't don't mimic someone else, even if they are more successful. Find your voice and, for goodness sakes, don't bury it. Scream with it! Unless you're more of a whisperer. Just do whatever it is you do, and you'll be interesting and successful!

Another thing I'm told that keeps readers interested is to keep it short when it comes to posting.

I'm really bad at this one.

For school, my papers almost always exceed the word limit, even if the topic is something I HATE. I have so much to say! But, seriously, it probably helps to keep it short.

However, long is me. I write this blog for me, I write in general for me. I sound really selfish, but hopefully you know what I mean. I want to please myself and be happy with my words rather than try to go viral or mimic someone else. I like my mildly undiscovered corner of the internet, and I truly dearly love those who come and visit me.


How did the challenge go for you? And how to you keep your posts interesting?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Your Research, Doing

I probably am not the most qualified person for this post.

Well, actually, I'm very qualified for this topic of writing either. A seventeen year old girl, write for a whole month about how to write and aspects of writing?! Who isn't even published? Yeah, right, what could she know?

Maybe some of my opinions are "wrong" when it comes to writing. I definitely don't have the most experience on the block. But I have been writing ever since I could. I've found things out through trial and error and the advice of other writers. This all is what works for me, what I've found to be true.

So here is a little more me and my writing experience.

I have never actually had to do research for a book.  Hence my unqualification. Which wasn't a word until now. Congrats, you saw first here, folks!

I probably should have for one of my novels (about a spy), but that never happened. Probably why that novel is now sitting somewhere in hard-drive space. Another one I should have done took place in LA, where I certainly have never been. That MS is keeping the other one company, equally as covered with virtual dust.

What I'm getting at is that not doing your research can cost you your novel.

I am famous for "Oh, I'll just keep going and I can fix it later" when something isn't working out. I'll plow right through the problems and patch up the holes later. Sometimes that's good. Sometimes it isn't. When it comes to research, it isn't.

Correction: I haven't had to research until a couple of weeks ago.

My WIP requires a lot of research because it has to do quite a bit with a lawyer, and I'm really unfamiliar with court and law stuff (see, I don't even know the correct terms). Research kind of scares me, to be honest. I would much rather work on my fairy tale where I just have to make everything up. Oh well, it's just something that's got to be done.

When I research, the first place I go to is Pinterest. There's some awesome infographics there and I can save it all in one place. Then onto other areas of the Internet. I haven't really used any books, just because I've found everything I've been looking for online.

I record the information in my binder for the current WIP. I'm a sucker for handwriting out my outlines and research, but I do sometimes save the websites to go back to later. When I remember to =)

How do you do research?

X by Ed Sheeran: How Music Inspires My Writing

I have been looking forward to writing this post all month. I basically thought I was the most clever person ever when I was able to tie in the topic of music with the letter X. Please, hold your applause.

Music is a huge part of who I am. Someone in my house is always singing, playing guitar, piano, or banging away on the drums. Usually, all of that is going on at once.

I love music. Seriously just love it. I love how it portrays truth and beauty, how it can lift your spirit. Or weigh down your spirit. Music has so much power. I love how it always tells a story.

Music tells stories. Just like I do.

When I was younger, I could never listen to music while writing. It was way too distracting. Now, I rarely write without listening to music.

Music pushes me forward.

Within music, I have found characters. I have found plots. I have found scenes. I have found answers and I have found questions.

Music is the ultimate short story.

When I'm writing a novel, or even a short story (which, in reality, is never very short), I usually put together a playlist of songs that go along with my story. Other times, I'll go to whatever my favorite Pandora station is or I'll just listen to random indie music that I don't know. Depends on my mood.

Some of my favorite writing musicians include Ed Sheeran, Needtobreathe, Mumford & Sons, Echosmith, Lorde, Birdy, and so, so many more.

How does music inspire your writing? Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who is your go-to musician?

Monday, April 27, 2015

What Makes Us Writers

Today I'm over at Inklined with a guest post about what makes us writers. Please head over and check it out and leave some comment love!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Very Important, Reading Is: Guest Post by Jen Wagner

I am so blessed to come from a family of writers. Here's my cousin-in-law, the INCREDIBLE Jen Wagner. She's a writer and freelancer and reader and mother-er.

Truth: I hated reading when I was a kid.

I would go to the library with my mom and older brother, and I would come out empty handed. My brother, however, would load up on Garfield comics and baseball trivia books. I had no clue what I enjoyed reading. Yet when I graduated from high school, I decided to major in English because I wanted to force myself to have to read. But even then, I still had no clue what genre was “mine.”

And then, one glorious day, I met Harry.

Harry Potter opened up a door—a little door underneath a staircase if you will—which then led me to Stephanie Perkins, Maggie Stiefvater, Becca Fitzpatrick, Lauren Kate, Colleen Houck and Veronica Roth. Young adult fiction was my thing.

I finally had a passion for reading and I couldn’t get enough. I still can’t. Thank you, Harry.

And perhaps I never discovered my passion because there wasn’t enough of it to choose from in the 90’s when I was a teen. YA consisted of works by Judy Blume, Ann M. Martin, and Lurlene McDaniel. While these books were good, there just wasn’t enough of it.
As an adult — one who loves teen angst and the quirky best friend — I have discovered how desperately I want to write my own YA book. In fact, my ideas have been brewing for five years now (quite the realization seeing that confession in print).

But, I know I’ve needed these five years to find my voice and uncover my style. I had to read books from several different YA authors in order to discover what I like and dislike in a YA novel.  

Books Are Like Dessert.

The options are endless. There are stories that are simple, and ones that are elegant. Others are quite time consuming because they transport you away from reality and into a completely different dimension, revealing each bit by bit.

Yet each book must be explored and analyzed to help determine what satisfies, what falls flat ... and in some instances, what disgusts.

Often, books will have similar characteristics and story-lines, just like desserts which have similar ingredients. For instance, consider author Nicolas Sparks.

In my opinion, Sparks is the king of stealing from his own work and incorporating the same “ingredients” over and again: boy and girl meet; one or both have a history or issues that need resolved (perhaps one has an abusive ex-lover, is widowed, or is a single parent); and someone (always!) dies in the end. The names change, the settings change, but the ideas are often the same. And women go crazy for this! The same goes for author James Patterson. Each of these men have discovered their personal “plug and play” when writing a book.

Read, and then Read Some More. Find YOUR Pattern.

Reading allows you to seek and find the pattern that works for you. Take an idea from one author you love and twist it into your own. This is not plagiarism. This is called inspiration. And if you aren’t reading, you can’t be inspired.

“Nothing inspires a writer like reading someone else’s words.” -Jeff Goins

So, you want to write a book? Well, I suggest you start reading. Peace.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Using Writing As Revenge

Sorry I'm posting a day late (again) but birthday festivities consumed most of the day yesterday.

Seventeen. I'm so old.

Not really.'s, I mean yesterday's, post is on Using Writing As Revenge. As you would know if you read the title. Which, no doubt, you did. Anyway, this actually coincides quite nicely with celebrating my life.

Revenge is such a slippery term. I don't like the word. Or perhaps, what I dislike is what the word means. I've never been a big one for revenge.

I became close with someone last year, which was a really rough year. We weren't close for very long, due to the fact that he decided that, for some reason, he wasn't going to talk to me anymore. This literally tore me apart. I liked this kid, a lot. We definitely shared some awesome times together. I think what killed me the most was that I had been waiting all year for someone to let me in, to be okay with me, with who I really was. When he finally showed me this time after time and I'd begun to believe him, he completely threw me aside.

Wow. Thanks.

My immediate thought was why, accompanied by feelings of sadness and guilt. Eventually, I got sick of why because I couldn't figure it out. There simply was no answer. This made me mad, oh, it made me so mad.

The fact that he could just come, be well on the way to being my best friend, and then stab me in the back and silently walk away, a smile still etched on his face...whoa. Like, dude, no. There's never a good reason EVER to do that to anyone. But the fact that he did it without a reason...or maybe he had one and I'll never know. Still.

I wanted to have revenge on him, oh, I wanted to get back at him. I wanted to break him like he broke me. But I couldn't. I didn't even know where to begin. And after everything that this guy had put me through, I still had respect for him. Deep down, I wanted to forgive him. This desire prevented me from truly wanting bad for him. That made me angry, too. How I couldn't be properly angry with him.

The thing about revenge is that it promises to fix our problems. It promises to make it better, make us better, make the situation better, and make the person who hurt us pay. We want to force the other person to feel what we felt, to be punished. Revenge is a twisted desire for justice. And the thing is? That desire can never be quenched. We want to exact revenge because it gives us a sense of power, of control. But we're not in control.

Eventually, I learned that there was nothing I could do to this person to make me feel better. I still had to wrestle with feelings of guilt and hurt and rejection. Okay, so if I could hurt him? Then what? It made me just as bad as him. If there's anything I know about heartbreak, is that it's unlimited. There's not some weird equality thing that's like "oh, well, now he has a heartbreak so she doesn't have to."

The only thing I could do with the pain was give it to God. Give the friendship to Him. Give my feelings to Him. Yes, it hurt so badly to forgive this person. But I did, eventually, by the grace of God. And not only that, I forgave myself.

We are given pain for a reason. We are allowed to go through tough times and God is right there with us. You are not alone.

After everything with this person fell apart, my friends and I concocted various schemes to "make him pay". We literally thought of everything and, not going to lie, I wanted it. So. Bad. All of it, every single revenge plot. But God taught me that revenge is not mine. I am not in control. He taught me humility in letting go.

But God gave me so many talents. He gave me the gift of writing.

So I took the feelings from the friendship. I took the stories, from when we first started talking to when he stopped. And I poured all that out into my novel. I let the pain drip my fingers onto the pages, I let them absorb my laughter. God used my writing to heal me. With each word I typed, pieces of my heart shifted back into place.

Use your writing as revenge. Again, I hate the term. Revenge does nothing for you, and that's what it's for in the first place, isn't it? It's a selfish desire to punish someone so that you'll feel better. But it never makes you feel better. What you really want is to be whole again.

Since everything went down last year, I've experienced more intense pain and way more intense joy. God is so good and it is so good to be alive and to be able to love. With each big event in my life, though, I turn my hands towards heaven.

"God, what do you want me to do with this?"

And I always end up back at my computer, typing away. Or with a notebook, pen flying across pages.

So write. Write your pain, write your joy. Make your stories more realistic by pouring in your real pain, your real joy.

...and just imagine sending a copy of your published book to the person who hurt you. The person your villain is based of off ;) Let it go and let God work. He'll use your pain and He'll use your words.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tolkien, T.S. Eliot, and Others

I have a thing for quotes, especially about writing. Here are some of my favorites:
Immagine tratta da "the age of innocence"

To see more, check out my Pinterest board here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Swearing: Guest Post by Jessica Wolf

So I did a terrible job spacing out these guests posts...but here is another amazing one from the amazing Jessica Wolf.

Jessica Wolf is a striving author who spends the majority her time writing. Through Simple Scribbles, she hopes to meet up with other writers, share tips, and inspire others to begin writing. Check back every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for new posts!

Also, check out my guest post at her blog here.


I am not afraid to curse in my writing, and I am not afraid of reading curse words in a book.

In the past I have run into some push back regarding curse words in novels and my own writing. (And, strangely enough, none of that push back has come from any of my family.) I completely understand a person's sensitivity to cursing. This post, though, is not to tell people how to feel about profanity. It is simply to explain why I curse in my writing and why 
I personally view it as useful.

I curse because people do.

Profanity - whether you like it or not - is a part of every day life. Some people choose to use it in their day-to-day vernacular. Other people, like myself, choose to save their curse words for their writing. But the fact is human-beings curse. They curse at baseball games or when talking about getting their groceries. They curse when getting bad news or when excited. 
Curse words express an emotion that other words aren't capable of expressing.

If all of my characters had squeaky clean mouths, that wouldn't be true to real life. So some of my characters use profanity. It's a part of who they are.

I curse because I want to portray real life.

It is my job as a writer to portray life as realistically as possible. I would be cheating myself if I refused to acknowledge the fact that people curse and keep it out of my writing just because I'm uncomfortable with it. Therefore, because I want to create a world and characters that are true, I cuss. And no, I have yet drop the f-bomb, and I highly doubt I will. Thus far, I've only used two cuss words: damn and hell. (And I'm not entirely sure those are even considered cuss words any more.)

The point of this all is: Cursing for the sake of cursing isn't a good enough reason to drop profanity into your novel. Often times, a cuss word every two or three words not only makes the prose hard to read but hard to take in. Cursing in novels can serve a greater purpose than just trying to be "grown up" or "cool" because it emulates real life and it emulates real people.

Some of my favorite characters are complete potty-mouths. They feel completely real because the author isn't afraid to ruffle some feathers with a few harsh words. And that's the thing - cursing ruffles feathers. It makes people uncomfortable. But that's okay. Isn't literature supposed to stir emotions, good or bad?

In the end, whether or not you curse in your novel is up to you. I'd love to know what your opinions are: Why do you or do you not curse in your novels?


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Welcome back, folks, for more sass and sarcasm, and, hopefully, a little substance.

For the letter R, we're talking Relationships. More specifically, fictional relationships. Brace yourselves, because this might turn into a rant.

I hate hate hate HATE most fictional relationships. I think that they are so non realistic. Just because the characters aren't real doesn't mean the relationships have to be fake. 

Literally this is about every YA romance (okay, not every, but the majority) summed up in a paragraph: Boy runs into girl. Exchanges glance. Something happens to them that makes them somewhat close. Then they either a) start "making out" or b) start dating. Am I right or am I right?

I should probably clarify. This does happen and it is real. People meet and starting dating a week, two weeks later. But that doesn't lead to a forever type of relationship.

So the thing with that kind of relationship though, is it's not going to last very long. If it does, it's not going to be a healthy relationship. Most likely, it will be centered on emotion and being physical (which could be anything from kissing to having sex). The emotion and physical pleasure is fleeting and is not what keeps a relationship together.

There are not positive outcomes to these relationships. Most books make it seem like meet, sparks fly, have sex, boom, forever. It doesn't work that way. The truth is, that that sort of relationship isn't going to last. It will fade. Not only that, but both people in the relationship will be left with a lot of hurt. Neither sex nor kissing nor intense emotions will keep a relationship going. And if sex is being had outside of marriage, the relationship is most likely going to go down hill, as that's not a good thing either emotionally or physically.

A strong relationship is one that is built on a strong friendship.

Friendship first is so underrated, both in real life and in the writing world when it comes to being friends first. When I come to a point in my life when I'm ready to date, I want to date my best friend. No, not just want--I refuse to date anyone who is less than my best friend. If I settle for anything less than that, what will the basis of the relationship be? Not a strong one, that's for sure. If I can't make a friendship strong, how will I ever be able to make a relationship strong? Relationships (and friendships) require work, they require insistence death to self and self-sacrifice. 

So, my challenge to you, writers, is to examine your fictional relationships. Are they realistic? If they are intended to last forever, then what is the base?

One of my favorite books that is an AWESOME example of a healthy relationship is This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. So amazing. Another great example is that of Harry and Ginny in Harry Potter. They were friends for YEARS before they started going out and their relationships was totally based on friendship and respect of each other. Ahhh. Just love it so much.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Quick Update

Hello, my absolutely lovely readers!

My retreat was AMAZING. Absolutely beautiful...I am so overwhelmed. Thank you so much for all your well-wishes, you were all in my prayers!

I'll be returning to my regularly scheduled program tomorrow...really exhausted today and so much to do. Looking forward to getting back into the swing of writing about writing and commenting on all of your blogs!

You guys rock!


So pleased to be hosting Becca, an amazing writer-friend from my creative writing group! Becca writes fabulous poetry and is such an inspiration. You check out some of her poetry on Pinterest here.

I've been asked about poetry before, what do I write it about, why do I write it, and of course, how do I write it? But my mental response is always how do you not write poetry? How do you release your emotions? How do you get what feels like a hundred pounds of sadness, love, pain, anything off of your chest? 

I write poetry for numerous reasons, because I want to, because I love to, but most of all, because I need to. If I were an artist, I'm sure I would express my feelings by painting or drawing them, but I believe that words are the key. I love words, they can paint anything in your mind, from the sensation of a summer rain on your skin to a knife of pain in your chest to the fluttering feeling of a first kiss. And poetry, in my opinion, is the most beautiful form of words imaginable. 

It could be a rhyme that sounds beautiful in your head or dancing off of your tongue, or the messy, free flow of bottled up emotions of any kind just leaving your mind. It's relatable, it's freeing, and it's amazing. I once read a quote that stuck with me because it was so true. It said, "Poetry is what happens when your mind stops working, and for a moment, all you do is feel." And it's absolutely true, when I'm writing poetry, I don't think about the things I'm writing, I just write. It's as if I'm bleeding from my pen and spilling everything inside of me. No poems are thought out, they're rarely planned, they just happen. 

As the amazing Robin Williams said in Dead Poets Society, "…. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are all noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for." And when you hit the point where writing it is as easy as breathing, you can't help but write. At this point, poetry is just a part of who I am as a person, and I couldn't live without it. I don't write poetry by planning out what I'm going to write, it's not a high school essay. I write what I feel. Did I have a bad day? Then I'll write a poem about what made that day bad, but I'll also write a poem about what makes life beautiful. 

Poetry is truly what I stay alive for, but more than that, it's what keeps me alive.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


The writing of this post came just at the right point for me.

As I recently mentioned, I am in the midst of edits of AWAKEN. Lots of fun...joking, I am not a fan of editing. I needed something new to keep my creative juices flowing.


I had this idea while reading some news headlines and I was just like WOW. WOW. Oh my gosh. I have to write this story. And, regardless of the million things I need to do this time of year, the idea would not go away. I was growing restless as it grew inside me. I literally could not sleep, I just keep feeling like I had words I needed to vomit. You're welcome for that visual.

I made a deal with myself. Finish three science assignments and you can start outline. Shake? Shake.

So I began to outline...

I have found that there is no exact formula outline. Perhaps for the specific writer there would be a specific formula, but overall, not so much. This is my outline process.

Well, scratch that. This my outline process for this particular WIP. I am literally constant with nothing my writing world. ANYWAY...

  1. Define my characters. This involves writing out character descriptions, hobbies, as well as negative and positive character traits. Additionally, depending on the character, I write out their relationships to other characters.
  2. Main story lines. These would be just two or three sentences about the main plot(s) of the story. Typically, I have two or three main story lines that I weave together throughout the course of the story
  3. Nitty-gritty details. Lastly, I plan out the scenes of the novel. These are sometimes super detailed or sometimes just a sentence. Depends on the scene...and my mood.
And there you have it, folks! What's your outlining process?

(Remember, I'll be posting Saturday's post a day late! Thanks for reading, have a FABULOUS weekend.)

Not Posting (and an update)

Hello, fabulous blogging world. Happy Thursday.

So, I'm obviously posting...but not really posting...

Today is a super insane day where I need to reserve all spare brain cells (believe me, there aren't a lot) for filling out some work forms (blegh), school, planning for a middle school youth group, and getting ready for a TEC  retreat this weekend that I'm leaving for tonight.

SO. PUMPED. ABOUT TEC. Will definitely be posting about my experience some time next month.

Anyway, hopefully I'll have time to post O super quick tomorrow before I leave, but as for P, that'll be delayed until Sunday. I won't be able to comment on any blogs Friday or Saturday, so I look forward to catching up on Sunday or Monday!

Thank you guys so much for your incredible support of my blog. I am still in awe that people actually read (let alone comment) on my words. Wow. Thank you so, so much. Thanks for journeying with me on this crazy writing journey.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


I'm a Catholic Christian. Hence the blog description.

I love my Catholic faith. I love Jesus Christ and I want to love Him more. Truly, above everything else, I want to serve Him in all I do. I want to lead people to His infinite, everlasting love and to the knowledge that, because of His love, each and every person is priceless and beautiful.

That is literally all I want. To be used to lead the world to Him.

I am bumbly, I am awkward. I am hurting and I hurt people. I am a sinner. I mess up. I don't always have the words and I rarely have the answers. I've felt alone, I've wondered why certain things happen. How can someone as messed up as me be used by God? I feel this often when I am writing. How can anything I--a sinner--lead anyone to Him? The answer is simple.

There is nothing can do to lead anyone to Jesus. It's what He does through me, what He alone can accomplish by sending down His Holy Spirit upon me. By the grace of God, I can be love to others.

God created me in His image and likeness. He gave me gifts and talents.  I read somewhere (probably Pinterest) that our talents are God's gift to us and what we do with them is our gift to Him. Personally, I just want to give Him everything. Most especially, I long for Him to completely take over my writing and use it for His purpose.

This is hard for me, though. I struggle to communicate His message in my stories when I don't even write Christian fiction. And I don't want to write sappy fiction that involves a whole lot of cheesy church and praying. What I do want is to convey God's unconditional love to my readers. I want to write like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and even J.K. Rowling to some extent.

I just realized that all those authors go by their initials. Maybe I should publish under A.M.J.  Schlueter. Sounds legit.


What I mean by that is that all those writers all have themes of Christianity woven so deeply and intricately into their story. You may have to think a little to make the connections, but they are pretty plain. Those writers convey messages of Christianity without even using the word "God".

That's what I want to do.

I want to be able to fearlessly proclaim the name of God. But some of my target audience may be turned off by the use of His holy name, so I have to be sneaky...and my battle plan is this.

All that I want to do, that I need to do, is present the truth about good and evil. I don't need to make truth look appealing, I just need to show it as it is. The truth is beautiful and it is what we were made for.

All that is true is of God.

I just need to present the truth, which we all long for. The Holy Spirit can take care of the rest.

I would like to leave you with this thought, from the amazing J.R.R. Tolkien:

"We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God." 


Are there themes that you struggle to convey in your writing? How do you weave your passions into what you write?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Life: It's yours, write it!

(I would just like to point out that I just survived a near death experience. I was sitting at my laptop, typing away, being responsible and doing science...when I heard this demonic buzzing noise. I was instantly transported, mentally, to an earlier hour when I discovered a huge brown, papery bug with antennas and stringy legs on my window. 

By huge, I'm talking half the size of my pinky. I have really long pinkies. Anyway, so I went to go get someone to kill this bug because...uh...I didn't want to break a nail...But I totally forgot until much later, when I slammed the window shut. Apparently, I have terrible short-term memory because I completely forgot AGAIN until about an hour-ish ago when I heard a demonic buzzing noise and saw a flutter of wings in front of my face. The mass of papery brown disgustingness landed on my keyboard and I slammed my laptop shut, literally swallowing screams of terror and jumping off my bed. Boom. For good measure, I applied some extra pressure. Crush. Cautiously, I lifted the discover squished a la bug. Yum. I used about twenty tissues to dispose of it.

Not quite sure why I'm telling you all that...but I survived. Guys, I survived.)

Today I present to you some brilliance written by the incredible Anna from over at WONDERFUL JOY.

When I was a little girl, I would put on plays based on stories I'd written. I'm talking outlandish costumes from my dress up box, a full cast consisting of all the neighborhood kids, and my parents and older siblings seated on couches watching. I loved creating something that people enjoyed (or pretended to enjoy, as my lovely big sister Erin would later tell me). I loved being the center of attention. I loved the happy endings. But most of all, I loved bringing a little literary magic into real life. It was a long time before I realized it was actually real life that made literature so magical.

Anne Lamott once said, "You own everything that happened to you. Tell your story." It's no secret that life can be hard. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and sometimes good things happen to people who don't seem to deserve it. Sometimes your heart gets broken, and sometimes you get stabbed in the back. But as cliché as it sounds, the struggle is part of the story.

You own everything that's ever happened to you. The good, the bad, the ugly, it's all yours. 

Annie had a wonderful post the other day about keeping readers interested and writing what you know. Like her, and many other writers, I used to be confused about the "writing what you know" rule. I got so confused that I actually started writing a book about a ballet dancer. I've now been dancing for eleven years, so I know quite a lot about ballet, but that's not what "writing what you know" really means. (The story was terrible anyway. The main character wanted to get the part of Clara in the Nutcracker, because the boy she liked was cast as the Prince. Then the main character's best friend got the part of Clara. DRAMA.)

What I really wanted to be writing was fantasy, but I thought I couldn't do that. After all, I had never experienced battles between to medieval kingdoms. I had never met a king and queen. I definitely had never dueled a wizard or sorcerer. I didn't know any of this stuff. So how was I supposed to write it? 

Eventually, I started thinking about J.K Rowling. She was just a girl born to a poor family in England. She had certainly never ridden a broomstick or waved a wand or attended Potions class. Yet the world she'd created seemed so real to me. That's when I realized that maybe it was the simple (or sometimes not so simple), every day experiences that make your stories come to life.

J.K Rowling never had the darkest wizard of all time murder her parents, but she did lose her mother to multiple sclerosis. She never experienced the hopeless feeling associated with dementors, or heard their eager, rattling breath, but she did suffer from extreme depression. These experiences weren't pleasant or easy, but Rowling used the pain to give Harry a story. An amazing story, in fact, that has influenced countless lives.

When you create characters, don't think of them as characters. Think of them as real people, with real problems, real personalities, and real emotions. Sometimes we get so caught up in wanting to make the perfect character, that we forget characters aren't supposed to be perfect. They're supposed to be human. The heroes can make mistakes; the villains can make good choices. We must remember to put a bit of ourselves into all of our characters, that way they seem real.

If you don't put your life into your writing, your story won't come alive. Remember: you own everything that's ever happened to you. Now go tell your story.

Keep Calm and Write On

C-calm?! What!? No! I can't be calm! It's nearly the end of my junior year, I have a bajillion papers to write and books to read and studying to do for the ACT and SAT! No! No time for calm! Plus my job is starting soon, how am I supposed to find time for anything then!? Answer: I'm not! Calm is not a word in my vocabulary!

Just before this, while making my daily blog visits, my stomach started churning (which has NOTHING to do with the flu in my house--I've already made my mind up, I'm not going to get sick) as I thought of all I need to do in the next couple of months. I should not be writing, I should be doing a million other things!

Another freak-out moment happened yesterday. I've begun planning yet another novel (while still in the midst of editing...ugh. This should be interesting) and I realized that it is about to take over my life. I am literally obsessed with this story and my main character. I totally started to panic as I realized that this is the busiest time of the year for me, and here I am, sitting on my bed PLANNING A NOVEL. Which means I'm going to put off everything else until the last second and just work on my new WIP.

Usually, I do not have a problem making time for writing. Writing kind of runs my life.

But when I get out of the habit of writing every day, then the craziness of school, volunteering, and family stuff takes over. It seeps into the hours set aside for writing and steals all my energy. Then I begin to resent writing, and feel guilty about becomes something I should be doing, rather than something I want to be doing.

The only way to remedy this is just JUMP IN AGAIN. Pen and paper is much more forgiving than the writer. It will always be there. We just need to get over the fact that we haven't written in a while and put one word in front of the other.

Of course, the best way to not fall away from writing is to just write. Write something every single day. It's probably something that you've heard a million times, but it has been proven true in my life time and time again. Whether it's a paragraph, ten chapters, blog post, or journal entry--JUST WRITE.

For goodness' sakes, we're writers. Don't let the busyness of the world steal that from you. You're a writer. You write. So go write.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Writing, Mermaids, and Ice-Cream?! An Interview with Jessica Wolf!

I am so excited to host JESSICA WOLF, creator of Simple Scribbles! Jessica is an incredible sixteen-year-old writer who loves to (you guessed it) write and read. Also, she has a twenty-two pound'll have to go over to her blog to see the proof, though!

Without further ado, I bring you...JESS!

AMS: What’s your writing history?
JW: I started writing as a youngster like most youngsters do. My stories ranged from gnomes that lived in pinecones to two princesses who were bffs. I stopped writing, then, from 2rd grade until 7th grade when I really started to write seriously in the fanfiction world. It's only been in the past year or so that I've begun working on original novels.

AMS: That's awesome! Sounds like you have quite the diverse collection of writings.
Which author would you most like to share a cup of coffee with?
JW: Oscar Wilde. He was such an interesting man and so, so funny.

AMS: I have never actually read any Wilde! I'll have to add it the summer bucket list.
What genres do you write? And why?
image.jpegJW: Historical fiction is the only genre I write in, specifically the romance subgenre. I've always loved reading historical fiction and watching period films and TV shows; I just have a fascination with the past. I also read historical romance extensively, so I figured I would try my hand at it a while ago and haven't stopped.

AMS: I LOVE historical fiction, and there isn't enough of it out there, as far as I'm concerned! Also yes, go period movies and TV. And what's historical fiction without romance? Actually, what's anything without romance?!
Favorite fictional character?
JW: Tough question! I am in love with Hercule Poirot from Agatha Christie's Poirot novels. He's such a dear little man it's hard not to love him.

AMS: Agatha Christie is a boss. Nuff said.
Social media of choice?
JW: Pinterest! It is beyond useful for organizing your writing thoughts and ideas.

AMS: PINTEREST. YES. YES. YES. Especially for writers, it's amazing. Plus, it's drama free! Why do you write?
Simple: I can't not write. If I didn't write, I would go insane.

AMS: That's a fabulous answer. I am the exact same way.
Favorite book? (Or books!)
JW: 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' by Oscar Wilde. It's incredibly moving and really inventive for its time. Second pick would be 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Brontë. (Hint about me: I love the classics.)

AMS: Not enough people (especially teens) read and appreciate classics, I think. There is so much to be gleaned from that sort of literature, both writing-wise and just life-wise. Absolutely love Jane Eyre.
Would you rather ride a unicorn or swim with a mermaid?
JW: Even though I'm not a fan of swimming, I would definitely swim with a mermaid. What girl hasn't swam in a lake/pool pretending they had a tail?

AMS: Plus I would probably be afraid of being stabbed by the unicorn. Even though mermaids are sometimes depicted as having major attitudes, so I really don't know which one I'd pick.
Do you ever use a pen and paper to write?
JW: Only when I have to. I would much rather use my computer, but if that's not available, I'll use a pen and paper.

AMS: Gotcha! I always favor my laptop, though I do love journaling by hand and I hand write most of my outlines.
Any hobbies besides writing?
JW: Does reading count? I don't play sports or sew or crochet, but I can play the piano.

AMS: GIRL. We are literally twins, I don't play sports either! I used to play piano, too, though I kind of lost it a while back...and yes, reading always counts, as far as I'm concerned!
What time period would you most like to live in?
JW: I feel that, as a girl, going back in time would not be smart no matter what era, but I would love to go back to the late 1800's. Oy those dresses were beautiful.

AMS: Yes, I suppose that there would be pros and cons either way...but I'm a sucker for that clothing, too.
Are your characters based on people in your life?
JW: Oh gosh, I'm not sure. Maybe inadvertently, but I've never sat down and thought up a character with someone I know in mind.

AMS: Interesting! I suppose life naturally bleeds into our writing, whether we realize it or not!
Do you listen to music while you write? What music inspires you the most?
JW: I used to. Now I can't; it's too distracting. But, if I did, I would probably listen to John Williams' soundtracks.

AMS: He's amazing, good choice!
When is your favorite time of day to write?
JW: Early to late evening. So from 7 o'clock onwards.

AMS: I'm the same! Inspiration comes to me on rainy days and through star-filled skies.
Favorite ice-cream flavor? (really, this is the most important question)
JW: I don't actually like ice-cream. (*hides*) My dad is an ice-cream snob and makes it and eats it all the time, but there's something about the combination of the cold and the creaminess that I don't like. I do eat it sometimes, and when I do, I go for chocolate chip cookie dough.

Well, we can't be friends...joking! This interview was so much fun. Thanks for doing it, Jess! Everybody else, be sure to head over to Jessica's blog and subscribe to her wonderful posts! =)