Tuesday, October 27, 2015


When I was little, I used to love to jump in the leaves.

I absolutely loved raking them, too. It made jumping in them even sweeter, when I had poured effort into creating the perfect pile, with the perfect dimensions. It had to be just wide enough and tall enough for maximum jumping crunch.

I remember feeling the wood of the rake's handle in my sweaty hands. I gripped it tightly, and pulled against the leaves hard. I ran it through the grass as fast as I could, visions of twenty-foot high piles of leaves climbing high up to the sky, just waiting to be jumped in. I would always get raw, red marks on my hands, but I hardly noticed. It was a small price to pay for the glory of leaping into a magical pile of leaves.

But one fall brought with it the day when I discovered a slug. This slug was lurking within the folds of a crispy leaf, just inches from my head. I jumped up from my leafy bed and ran inside, shivering with disgust.

Suddenly, the slugs were all I saw in the leaves. The raking ceased. The jumping ceased. My fear of nasty slugs overpowered the wonder that I held for jumping into the leaves. The slugs stole my wonder.

We come into this world with so much wonder. We marvel at everything, from touches to tastes to sights and everything in between. We long to believe, we long to love.

But then the slugs come.

Personally, I love to love. I love to be excited and to dive into something whole heartedly, whether it be a project or a relationship. I don't do things by halves, perhaps to a fault. I'm completely trusting...or completely afraid. I have so much love to give and I want to give it to EVERYBODY RIGHT NOW.

Until the slugs come.

The leaves were once a place where I loved to lay and look up at the pale blue fall sky. I loved feeling the brisk air on my face, chilly but not uncomfortable. The indescribable fall aroma was something that relaxed me and brought me happiness.

But then the slugs came.

People who used and abused, who filled themselves and then took off. And, silly me, I just kept right on filling. The world became less wonderful, and I became tired. Because I was never full. Life stopped being beautiful. The thought of trusting, of being vulnerable, of loving-- made me feel sick.

I had so much excitement for life. And I willingly gave it up to the slugs. I stayed inside and just watched the wind tickle the branches of trees that dropped leaves. But those leaves, all I saw in them were the slugs.

I'm sure you seasoned bloggers think you have this post figured out. Another cliche "See the Good!" post, encouraging to look past the slugs and see the leaves. Encouraging to GO LIVE YOUR LIFE, DESPITE THE SLUGS! You're partially right. Which means you're partially wrong.

I don't think we should look past the slugs. We need to see the slugs.  See the bad. The bad is there, and the bad hurts. It hurts so, so, so horribly, and has terrible consequences. It persuades us to stop loving and trusting, and thus hurting ourselves even more.

We need to see the slugs.

About a year ago, I was talking to a formerly-close friend of mine about someone who was really hurting me. This person had said a lot of really nasty things to me. Deep down, I believed that the things he said were lies...but part of me also questioned whether are not they were true. I shared all this with my friend, and he replied: "The hurt is real. The lies are not."

That really struck me and has continued to stay with me. I thought that we just ignored the hurt, writing it off as irrelevant and as though it didn't actually matter very much. But no...it's okay to feel hurt.

The slugs are there. The slugs are real.

They're the people who hurt us. But place a couple of slugs in a huge backyard, filled with a thousand enormous trees shedding vibrant leaves. Look out into that backyard and know that the slugs are there. But we can't stay focused on a little blob of slime when there is so much beauty in front of us. How silly would it be to be so afraid of the slugs that we don't go jump in the leaves?

The slugs are real. But what is not real is the imagined threat that the slugs are to us. The lies that they the slugs tell us...that we're not good enough...that is not real! YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. I am sick and tired of this world proclaiming that we're not good enough.

The God of the universe CREATED you in His IMAGE AND LIKENESS and the world has the audacity to plant the idea in you're head that you're not good enough?! No, my friend. Not at all. The truth is, the world is not good enough for you. That is real, and that is the truth. You are beautiful. You are treasured. You are sacred. You are His.

God defeated the slugs. When God is for us and loving us unconditionally (despite our rather sluggish tenancies at times), what do we have to fear? The God who defeated death is in control of our lives. So trust Him. Easier said than done, right? It takes work. But it is always, ALWAYS worth it.

Let us not lose our wonder. Let us continually see all of the beauty of the world, of life. More specifically, let us continue to marvel at the beauty of our individual lives. You are alive, right now, for a purpose and a reason. How incredible is that? Let us not allow past hurt to rob us of the marvel and wonder that God created us to have.

Don't draw back when the slugs come. Let God brush off the slugs, and let it go. And keep jumping in the leaves.

I'm praying for you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Pre-NaNo Update

I am excited for NaNoWriMo. 

I'm sort of dreading it, I'm really overwhelmed by it, and it's definitely scaring me. But with all of that, I'm incredibly excited. 

October has been a veeeeeeeery slow writing month for me, which has been frustrating. Last month was extremely productive, and I suppose I just assumed that the productivity would carry over into this month. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I don't know that I've even written five chapters of my WIP this month. My goal of finishing before NaNo is utterly impossible at this point, but that's okay.

I've been learning lately that it's good to set goals. That it's important to work your butt off to achieve those goals. But perhaps it is necessary also to be okay when we do not reach those goals. It's okay to let our goals morph into other goals when they become unrealistic. And the most important of all is not to beat ourselves up over it, because that will get us nowhere. I'm finding that we can let the disappointment of not reaching a goal fuel the excitement of meeting the next goal. 

Additionally, I've been praying a lot that God would help me be productive. It's taken me seventeen and a half years to realize that I can't do it on my own. 

Seventeen and a half. I'll be seventeen and a half, officially, on October 24. How odd is that. On October 25, I'll be closer to my eighteenth birthday than to my seventeenth birthday. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Speaking of growing up things, many of you know that I applied to NET ministries. Last week, I got a phone call telling me that I'm invited to come to an interview weekend! It's a good thing I wasn't able to answer the phone and had to listen to the message, because my reaction may have got me uninvited....blubbering and screaming and the like. That will be in February, so please keep me in your prayers! 

Also, this is weird, but my brother Dominic and I have become obsessed with this local classical radio station. Right now, they're having a fundraiser thing, and we literally have it on all the time. The deejays have the most relaxing, almost hypnotic voices. They play the strangest array of music, not just classical...there is some electronic and...I honestly don't even know the other genres. A lot of it is really different and I've never even heard it before. I listen to classical music occasionally and greatly appreciate it, but don't typically chose to listen to it on my own, so I have no idea why I love it. I'm honestly so confused by why I'm so addicted to it.

That was probably the most irrelevant paragraph I've ever written (which is saying something), but I really felt that need to confess all that so y'all better just suck it up, buttercup. Irrelevancy is my thing. That is such a fun word. Say it. Irrelevancy. 

Back to NaNo. My outlines are ready, my pencils are sharp, and I've found a stellar pen. Not that the writing utensils matter so much, as I type out my books. But it's comforting to know, if I should need them, they're right near by. I rounded up a couple of writer friends to participate in a NaNo support group, and I'm really really really pumped about the ladies I'll be working with. I'll keep y'all posted on how the group goes.  

What have you guys been up to? How are my Wrimos feeling pre-November? 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Reach Out

Once upon a time I wrote a blog post on the amazing book This Is Not A Writing Manuel by Kerri Majors. If you haven't read it, you seriously need to. It's more directed towards teens/young adults, but I really think that a stockpile of information can be gleaned from Kerri's brilliance regardless of age.

Anyway, Kerri strongly suggests becoming a part of a writer's community. When I read that, I decided that I wanted a community to share my writing with. So I emailed some friends from all over the place (geographically) and asked if they would be interested in started a group where we would share and critique writing on a weekly basis.

The group went okay for a while, albeit not exactly what I had in mind. Most of the people who had joined had never really been in a writing group before that wasn't a class. It died off by the end of the year.

Earlier this year, I revisited TINAWM and decided that I really, really, really needed a writing group that actually, physically met. So, I googled writing groups in my area.

To my surprise, there actually was one that met at a cafe every Tuesday. But as far as I could tell, it was an adult group and I wasn't sure if teens were welcomed. So I sent the head lady an email, asking if she knew about any teen writing groups in the area.

And, badabingbadaboom, the next thing I knew, she had emailed be back saying no, she did not, but their people were interested in starting one! Then, some days later, another one of the writers emailed me inviting me to the group to discuss particulars.

Though no particulars were discussed, the group was an insane amount of fun. The members (for the most part) were all easily ten to thirty years older than me, but it was so cool. I didn't bring any work to be critiqued, but I learned so much by listening to them critique each other and reading their work.

Just being around other writers makes my soul so happy.

I'm actually going with them to a writer's conference at a university near my house next month. I AM SO. SO. SO. SOOOO EXCITED. I had business cards printed already and I keep staring at them.

Having writing friends does so much for your writing, especially if you can physically meet with them face to face. Even if you can't though, find yourself a critique partner! I don't think any writer should be without a critique partner. This is someone who you can vent to about your characters and bounce ideas off of. They can critique parts (or all of) whatever you're working on. And you can do the same for them, learning a lot about writing in the process!

It also helps in building a tough skin that is required for publishing. Having a person who genuinely cares about you and your writing makes it easy (or, at least, easier) to be critiqued, if you're not used to it.

The other awesome (probably the most awesome) thing about having a critique partner is that they'll a lot of times turn out to be one of your closest friends. (*waves* Hi, Jess!)

So! The moral of the post is DON'T BE AFRAID TO REACH OUT! If I had found the writing group but never emailed, then there would be no potential teen group, I couldn't have joined the adult group, and I never would have even heard of the writer's conference. Don't be afraid of how people will receive you...the worst thing that can happen is that they won't reply to your email, and how bad is that, really?

In addition to all that, same goes for blogging. I love the blogging community so much! My writing has grown exponentially thanks to y'all, I'm forever indebted. I love the friendships that have resulted in my activeness in the blogging world. Don't be afraid to comment, or even to send an email to a blogger! We don't bite, I promise.

Actually, that's so not true, I hate when people say that. I just realized that I hate when people say that, and now I'm all fired up. Of COURSE we bite. How do you think we eat?! By BITING. Unless you're a baby, then you don't bite. Well, actually, you do, you bite people, even if you don't bite food.

So moral number two: BLOGGERS BITE.

Have a fabulous remainder of the week everyone.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What My WIP Is Teaching Me

I am so excited about my WIP, which is a fantastical thing.

The fact that I'm excited, not the WIP. Necessarily.

It's a full blown high fantasy, full of magic and mystery and milk. Milk? Yes, milk. Actually, no, there's no milk, but "milk" starts with "m" and I was looking for another m word so I just stuck with that. What even is this paragraph?

This WIP presents a lot of firsts for me. I've been learning so, so much while writing and these characters have been stretching me in ways I didn't think was possible. I've realized that a lot of my characters are copies of each other as well. And it's not just me--I've come to realize this is how it is in most books. Even in books where we're lucky enough to come across a unique MC, the supporting characters all fall back into either black or white. Or vice versa. Unfortunately, people are neither black or white; our personalities are millions of shades of gray. There is so much originality in our world!

I've been working really hard on communicating that originality. I've been focusing a lot on the speech and reactions of certain characters. Also, I've been working hard on withholding information. In the movie The Lady in the Water (really bizarre movie, never watch it), there's a character who is a film reviewer or something like that. After coming home from a movie premier, he says that the movie was terrible because everyone walked around and said what they thought.

That really struck me. I'm an extrovert, and I definitely say what I think a lot...but I probably don't communicate fifty percent of my thoughts. Characters are really two-dimensional (if not even one-dimensional) when there is no distance between mind and mouth.

My MC is definitely more introverted than extroverted. That's been weird to write, because usually I write extroverted MCs. However, writing an introverted MC has taught me a lot. One, I can't rely completely on dialogue to tell the story. Dialogue is one of my biggest strengths, but a lot of times, I let it overpower my descriptions of the setting, body language, etc.

My dialogue has improved even more, though. I also had the realization that all of my characters talk similarly. Again, not realistic!

There is a large cast of characters in this WIP, and I was worried about making them all the same. Additionally, I was concerned that they would all just get lost and my readers wouldn't be able to tell the difference between them or remember them.

I've fixed this by the different things that they say. For example, I have one character who says everything twice. I have another one who never speaks besides when spoken to, another who asks a million questions, and other one who just talks constantly to fill the silence. Of course, these are general, but I've fleshed them out more in the story (as you'll hopefully see some day!) I've found that it's important to figure out how the character expresses himself verbally in the stages of pre-writing character development.

So! My mind is full of different characters, plot points, and great motivation for writing. Unfortunately, life has been absolutely crazy, so I haven't had as much time to write as I would like. However, I'm inching closer to completion...one word at a time.

What has your writing been teaching you lately?

(NANOWRIMO INFORMATION! Check out my profiles and friend me: adult site (A.M. Schlueter) and YWP site (schluetera656)If you're a teen doing NaNo and would be interested in joining an email-based NaNo support group, please email me: 11anniem@gmail.com! Don't know about NaNo? Visit ywp.nanowrimo.org or nanowrimo.org.)

Friday, October 2, 2015

October Appreciation Post: Socks, Writing, and Happy Birthday Month

Last night, I was at my church for an event and one lady who works there told me how cute I looked.

"Very fally," she said. "Really adorable."

Word art by moi
So what did I do? Proceed to rant about how much I love being able to wear socks again. I told her all about how I never wear socks in the summer and how I loved socks and it just felt so amazing to have my feet hugged again. As I neared the end of my rant, I started to realize how utterly weird I sounded and also that I was talking really loudly and people were listening. Oh, well. I'm a writer, I feel passionately about things. Things like...socks.

But seriously, last year for Christmas, I got a whole box full of the most amazing sweater socks and they are just so life changingly incredible. I'm joking. Not really.


October brings with it so many wonders (socks included). My mom always decorates our house so cute for fall, with little pumpkins and scarecrows and the works. The trees have finally started changing colors, slowly but surely. The sky is overcast and the temperature has dropped to the 50s. Homecoming drama is upon us. Thankfully, it hasn't touched me this year, which is refreshing.

October holds lots and lots of motivation for me. Motivation to wrap myself in my fleece sheets and sit in bed and drink hot cocoa all day long. Motivation to finally finish Lord of the Rings (I finally started reading it last month, totally in love). Motivation to be on Pinterest and read all of your blogs. Motivation to finish my novel.

Despite all the motivation this month is brimming with, I do not want to leave my house. At all. Unless it's to go for a walk or a hike...I cringe when I think of all my responsibilities. The world should just pause when it comes to October and stay paused for the rest of the year, with nobody allowed to leave their houses. All in favor?

October is also official unofficial NaNoWriMo prep month. I love seeing my Twitter feed be overrun by all y'all's prep posts. I'm SO PUMPED...but also low key dreading it.

I have yet to finish the novel I began last month, though I'm a little over halfway done. I really want to crank out as much writing before I graduate as I can, as I'm not exactly sure what next year will hold for me as far as writing opportunities are concerned. So I'm trying to squeeze in writing three novels. Kinda big for someone who took three years to complete her last book. (A book, I should mention, that needs to be completely rewritten.)

So the goal is for me to finish this book by the middle of this month, in time to speed-plan the next one. But we'll see how that goes...whatever happens, I know God's got it. Despite having large goals, I'm doing my best to just enjoy the ride. I'm really enjoying the novel that I'm working on now, and I'm trying to immerse myself in the moment rather than continually looking to whatever I have to do next.

October is also Respect Life Month. I like to look at it as one big birthday party month-- we're celebrating everyone's lives! Go thank your parents for giving you life! Also, I know lots of areas are doing things to stand up for people who don't have that right to life, whether it be babies in the womb or the elderly. If you can't participate in the events going on, be sure to not only be grateful for your own life, but also help make other people grateful for their lives by building up and affirming them.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone! And an absolutely wonderful October. Go drink some hot cocoa for me, and let me know what you're up to this month. OH! And add me as a buddy on NaNo...I'm schluetera656 on the YWP website and A.M. Schlueter on the regular site.

(ALSO...if you're a teen doing NaNo and would be interested in joining an email-based NaNo support group, please email me: 11anniem@gmail.com! Don't know about NaNo? Visit ywp.nanowrimo.org or nanowrimo.org.)