Category Archives: Blog Posts

Does Schooling Create a Better Writer?

Hello Everyone!

2020 has already proven to be full of surprises as well as change within my home. I have learned many new skills being a Paraeducator – my most recent adventure is being a 1:1 sub for a little boy with behavioral and social needs. I have learned so much from the wonderful staff and have been enjoying my time with him no matter how trying it may be at times.

I have also changed my schooling plan – again! Shocker right? Not really. I have been struggling a lot with what it is that I want to accomplish and I have decided that a teaching certification would allow me to be both financially stable as well as give me a job that I enjoy while I work on my MA in a few years. I think that it is important to continue living life before throwing myself one hundred percent into school… again.

That being said, I still plan on working on the blog as well as working through book reviews and practicing and refining what I do while I continue on a new adventure.

That leads me to the topic that I wanted to cover for this week. Does having a formal education make you a better writer? The short answer is maybe. Here is the longer one: Yes and No. Almost the same answer. Let me explain.

Schooling teaches you thinks such as: grammar, paragraph structure, new styles, and critical thinking. It helps to expand what you read if you tend to lean one way only for books and it shows you new techniques.

Here’s where I think that school gets int the way: You don’t have time to practice. Writing the way that you want to takes time and practice. Personally, when going to school I did very little writing that wasn’t for an assignment and I didn’t get to develop the skills that I wanted to.

While school does help to broaden your horizons a bit, nothing beats practice and experimentation. Try something safe then do something crazy. Write a horror story that ends with the person playing barbies and then write a horror story where the person is being used as the doll by the monster under the bed. Write in first, second, and third person. Figure out what you like, what you hate, what you are good at, and what you are bad at. Without knowing that there isn’t a way for us to move forward with our craft.

Some of the most awesome things we write can be a result of an experiment that went horribly wrong. I tried to write a short story that was a thriller/horror and it turned into a crime/murder mystery novel. It’s written in multiple perspectives – which is something I’d never done before – and I have entire sections where no names are used, only pronouns.

I do think that school helped me to learn about writing, but I think that it also showed me where my curiosity was. I rediscovered my love that had been destroyed by “real world” thoughts and I didn’t know what real happiness was until I allowed myself time to explore that.

I learned what it is that I want to read. Every author should write something that they would want to read – I think that that is what is most important.

Moving aside from that, I do think that a writing community is very important too. I have a couple that I am apart of on Facebook and I have even been working with some of them to set up pen pals- which is something that I’ve always kind of wanted! I am very excited to try another style of writing and get to know a lot of amazing people through this process.

As always any comments, questions, or concerns are more than welcome!

Till the next chapter,

Amanda

Memories

Hey Everyone!

So Monday’s suck and I’ll just leave it at that, but today is Tuesday so let’s talk about something kinda fun.

As a quick announcement, after this week I will be taking a break until the first full week in January, which is going to be January 6th. I know that my posts have been a bit spuratic and some of you may be thinking – “break? But nothing has happened!” and I can assure you that there has been a lot happening behind the scenes. 2020 is going to be a fun year with some videos going up on YouTube in January and if people are interested, some book arts videos. I like it and would love to show people how I do it and see what you guys do too.

Also as another announcement, I am going to try to be very diligent about posting both book reviews and blog posts on Monday, but sometimes – like today it will be on Tuesday.

Feedback is also very welcome – anything to make stuff more interesting for you guys. Writing is fun and I sometimes feel myself talking in circles, so if anything sounds interesting or if you would like me to try a specific kind of writing then please let me know!

Moving onto this week, I have a list of blog post ideas that I have in my phone, and this one I’m almost positive was supposed to be “memoir” but got auto corrected to memories. Sound similar? They should! But because we are coming up to the end of the year, I wanted to share some of what has happened this year for my family and I.

2019 has been exciting and a lot has happened. Events in my life are something that inspire me to write, so I think it is worth talking about on here – even if I decide to cover Memoir’s a little later. I have a couple that are worth reading if you’re interested, but again, that’s for another time.

Memories are good and bad, so here’s a list of them from beginning to end:

  • My nephew turned two in March
  • Clamor 2019 came out in May
  • My cousin had her second son in May
  • I graduated from UWB in June
  • Several friends graduated High School in June
  • Writers Block Blog started July 1st, 2019
  • Laments was finished and up for sale on July 19th, 2019
  • I worked a fireworks stand over the week of the 4th of July
  • Ace Passed Away on August 6th, 2019
  • My Grandpa turned 91 on August 8th
  • I left my job at McDonalds on September 14th
  • I got a job at the Mukilteo School District as a substitute Paraeducator on October 7th
  • I got a job at Vetco on October 8th
  • I spent Halloween in a Grinch onesie with my nephew dressed as Batman and his mom as Harley Quinn
  • Halloween week my step mom was in Argentina with her sons on a missions trip
  • My friends moved into their new home on October 30th
  • Thanksgiving was spent in Montana with my grandparents and a lot of snow
  • I completed NaNoWriMo 2019 with almost 51k words – but an incomplete story
  • I turned 21 on December 8th
  • I had my first drink in a bar on Friday December 13th – not only was it Friday the 13th, but it was also the night after a full moon. We were in Bremerton.
  • I found my home school and was contracted as a para educator at Fairmount elementary school on December 16th – not as many hours as I’d like, but a good start.

The year has been full of ups and downs. The biggest down being the loss of Ace in August, but I have learned so much about myself and the work that I love doing, what I want to do, and what I want my future to look like.

After working at the School district for a little while, I am rethinking some of my steps after my MFA. Whatever I do though – I know that I’ll be having a blast.

Life is too short to take it too seriously. Do what you love and love what you do. I didn’t think that I would look forward to talking with kids about where chocolate milk comes from – by the way they come from chocolate cows – or if I would rather have 4 arms or 4 legs (4 arms by a long shot) – but it is something I love and these kids inspire me all the time.

There is something very satisfying about having a little girl who is in my favorite program run up to me and ask if we can be friends – YES WE CAN! I’m not sobbing at all!

Happy Holidays from my family to yours, post your year in review at the bottom, I’d love to hear about it. Everything is worth celebrating- if it’s from a birth to a conversation about chocolate milk cows.

Be safe and see you in 2020!

Till the next chapter,

Amanda

Hey all! One of my biggest projects of 2019 was Laments! I still have 40 copies available so message me and let me know if you want one! These are good for anyone interested in mental health disorders or how the human mind works.

Reading Below Your Reading Level

Hey Everyone!

So this is my second post this week, so I won’t spend a lot of time on an introduction. But I’m really glad that you are reading this particular post. This is a topic that I have been wanting to talk about for a long time because I think it is very important.

When we’re in school, we are told to never read below our abilities – that we should always be looking for a book that is harder than the last one even if it’s only by a little bit. As an adult now, I am finding it to be somewhat of a challenge to have time to read at all let alone read something that is harder for me. I want a story that is entertaining no matter how easy the read is. As a writer, I think that reading is very important. I also think that everyone should be actively reading and looking for story tellers no matter how easy the books are to read.

Since working with elementary age children, I have found myself being drawn back to books that are meant for children between the ages of five and twelve. Books like: Box Car Children, The Hardy Boys, Junie B. Jones, and of course, the Warriors series. Which – is still one of my favorite book series of all time despite the fact that I am a dog lover and not someone who cares much for cats.

I believe that there is so much that we can learn from reading these kids books as adults – or more importantly – as writers. Books like the ones that I listed above show us the basics of writing in the genre. It takes a complicated and intense thing like – animal fantasy – and can simplify them in something like Animal Ark or complicate it into something like Warriors – which creates it’s own world.

Something that I want to start doing, is every other week reading and talking about one of these ‘lower-level’ books instead of one that is considered to be more my speed. I want to do a normal review on it and then examine the story telling qualities and skills that it presents and what some of the skills to learn from it could be. I want to read these books like a writer would.

Some of you may think that it’s kind of dumb, but I think that there is a lot to gain from reading books that we used to as kids. I mean, we read them as kids because they told a good story. They held our attention. Now as an adult I want to read these books and see what they do to prepare us to read more complicated books.

How does Goosebumps get us into horror novels later on?

How does Junie B. Jones get us into memoires and slice of life books?

How does Nancy Drew get us into mystery novels?

How does Magic Tree House get us ready for adventure novels?

I think that the things that we read as children really help us develop our writing styles as well as the kind of books that we like to read. So why not explore these books that helped to shape the way that we read and think about books now?

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this so drop your comments down below and I look forward to posting my next book review!

Till the next chapter,

Amanda

NaNoWriMo 2019 Debrief

Hey Everyone!

So last week was really bad cause I got super sick for no reason and I had a hard time bouncing back. I’m all better now though and ready to keep plugging along with work and I’ll actually have two posts for this week. One on NaNoWriMo and one on another subject that I have been really itching to get into.

NaNoWriMo was a great experience for me. I was able to write the 50,000 words in 29 days – which is insane to me. I have never written anything this long and having that time dedicated to getting something done – it has changed the way that I approach writing.

Even though I got the 50,000 words, I was not able to completely finish a rough draft of my book. I have quite a bit of story left to write, but I’m estimating that my book will be around 85,000 words before I will be ready to start drafting again, and I’m hoping to be completely done by the end of March.

Before this, I couldn’t talk much about what the experience was like, but like anything else, I think you get out what you put in. I decided at the beginning of November that I was going to try my hardest and it got to the point where I knew that I needed to write and that I wanted to. Now that the month is over, I miss writing every day. I fell in love with the story and characters that I had been working with and I just want to finish it so bad.

I have always had an active imagination and I love thinking about what characters in my favorite books would do in certain situations. I kept thinking that about my own characters and how I want to read about it and know what makes them, them. It hit me pretty powerfully that the only one that can write that is me. So I need to write the story that I want to hear. I found that to be very interesting.

Over the last few days I have revisited my goals and looked over what I wrote during November and there were times that I got mad. I tried writing mine in a linear fashion and that worked – until I hit a massive writers block where I wasn’t able to write more than a few hundred words a day. I was really worried at one point when I was 6,000 words behind that I wouldn’t get done what I needed to in order to finish.

There is an amazing sense of accomplishment to know that I stuck through this and was able to finish. I look forward to revisiting this later and working through it with the help of a friend. She has already started reading it and she already has things for me to fix on it. Makes me want to groan, but writing is never perfect the first time around.

Something that I found to be helpful to me while writing is to write out a outline of what I wanted to cover in each section or chapter. I was writing in four perspectives, so making sure that all of the perspectives got their time and that a linear story was coming out was important to me in this one. I know people say that outlines are good, but I don’t think that you should completely plan your novel from beginning to end and detail by detail. It takes away some of the spontaneity of writing.

Sometimes people just need to get shot to make the story go right. Sometimes the person who did the shooting – if changed – can make the book turn in the other direction. I like having a direction without being blinded by what I planned to have in each section. I have even broken sections into two because they got to be too long. Work everything the way that feels right in the moment, not in the way that it sounds good on paper.

The final thing that I wanted to leave you guys with on this post is a section from my NaNo 2019 novel “Assassin’s Fiend.”

Please enjoy!

__________________________________________________________

Blood spattered the ceiling and dripped down the walls. The silence was deafening as she tried to listen for the next blow. Today had been exceptionally bad. They had come back and begun fighting. One had left, but the other had decided to pick his favorite. Apparently, that had been her.

She had kicked and screamed, but nobody could hear her. Now she was chained by her wrists to the ceiling and blood was running down her arms in long streaks from where the cuffs dug into her flesh, tearing it away from the bone.

The others had been cleared out by a few of the other men. They were likely about to have their own “fun” with the other women. Nobody knew what that meant. For her, it meant being hit and cut with a razor blade. Off to the side she could see a table with knifes and hammers in varying sizes and weights. Each one made to do something different.

Tears ran down her face as he picked up the largest hammer, a sludge hammer, and walked towards her. He circled her like a panther does its prey and then he brought the hammer down, smashing into the side of her left knee. She could feel the bones break in her leg and she let out a glass breaking scream.

One.

Two.

Three more times. Each one was harder than the last. When he finally set the hammer down, she could no longer support any of her weight on either leg. They were utterly broken.

She sobbed out the pain and yelled for help. His laugh made her gut wrench. They had beaten her before, but never this bad. He seemed angry for some reason. That made her scared.

After a few moments, she realized that he was no longer in her line of sight. He had left the room. For a brief moment she thought that she might be safe for the rest of the night. The morning would be cruel though because she couldn’t walk. She knew that she was as good as dead.

Footsteps alerted her to his return. She saw that this time he carried a small case with him. Perhaps nothing bigger than a briefcase. He set it on the table beside the other knives and hammers.

“My father was a butcher. Did you know that?” There was a bit of sadness in his voice. That mixed with what he said only made her whimper.

“No. I’m sure you didn’t.” From the case he pulled out a new series of knives. These were much older, some showing rust along the blades.

“He had a lot of rules for butchering anything.” The first knife was picked up and he weighed it in his hands as if getting a feel for it. It was a small knife. No longer than an index finger.

“First the head came off. Then the animal would be cut from neck, to belly, where we would then have to dig out the organs and get them ready for packaging.” He ran the back of the blade from the base of her throat to be base of her stomach as if giving instructions to a new butcher.

“I never liked doing that though. You see, I liked cutting them open and taking the organs out while they were still alive. That way, I could see the pain reflected in their eyes.”

She let out a long whimper and he brought the knife up to the side of her face.

“Only once I finish cutting out the minor organs, do I start cutting open the skull. If I’m lucky, they’ll still be breathing at that point. I love the sounds that an animal makes when they are already so close to death.”

His eyes became level with hers and his sadistic eyes appeared almost satanic to her.

“They still hope for a rescuer when they know it’s too late. My only downfall is how sloppy I tend to make my cuts. I get so excited that my hands shake,” he beamed.

She began to cry heavily. She couldn’t stop her cries and whimpers from escaping. She didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of hearing her in pain anymore.

“Allow me to show you.”

With that, the knife plunged into her chest so hard that blood splattered his face. She screamed in agony as he raked the knife down her body, slicing through cloth, flesh, and muscle. When the blade got caught on something, he just pushed harder, allowing her blood to freely run down to the floor and pool there.

With the cut complete, from his bag he pulled large pruning shears. Her sobs came out in gasping wails. It was getting harder and harder to breathe. Nothing could describe the pain that she was in.

He leaned forward and whispered in her ear.

“You may want to die now. This part hurts worse than anything, but it’s more fun if you don’t. I like the screams.”

Digging his hands into the flesh of her chest and stomach, he tore it apart, making it hang open, allowing him to see her ribs below. Using the shears, he cut through each of her ribs until he was able to tear her sternum from her body, letting it fall to the ground with a thud.

Her screams could be heard by all the other women.

They lasted for only a few more minutes until the silence was once again deafening.

It was only broken by his maniacal laughter.

_____________________________________________________

Thank you so much for reading – I know this was a longer post, but you got to read some of my more creative writings – and I think that this part turned out pretty well. My favorite POV that I have been writing in has been the killers. I hope you guys liked it.

Till the next chapter,

Amanda

Staying Motivated

Hey Everyone!

We are a little half way through 2019’s NaNoWriMo and for once I am on track to finish with everyone else! (Knocks really hard on wood).

I have found myself getting overwhelmed with working, writing for 3 projects (NaNoWriMo, Blog, and my MFA application material), that I am having a hard time motivating for writing. It is something that has been making my stress levels rise a lot. I have been trying out out ways to keep up with all of my writing except for my blog. This has been the one place that I have been least wanting to write for.

I am doing a lot of stuff right now and most of the time my blog posts end up slipping through the cracks – last week it was Wednesday before I remembered that I hadn’t made my post for Monday. A lot of this has to do with my schedule being really new to me still and my trying to set up a routine.

It feels like lately I have been doing a lot of “update” posts, so next week I am going to cover one of my favorite topics – Fanfictions. I personally love fanfiction and I think that it is a highly underrated genre in all ways.

Another thing that is coming next week is the book review for Raven which I know I said would be done a long time ago, so that is going to be a priority for next week.

This week is going to be a very short post since I have quite a bit of work piled up at the moment, but next week I’m making a routine schedule and we’ll see how it works out. I have found that the easiest thing to do when trying to incorporate writing as a main focus in your life is trying out a new way to write. Try a schedule. If one doesn’t work, then try again. I’m on my third or fourth attempt at a schedule and I’m still not making it work. So fifth times the charm hopefully.

Since this is a shorter post, I will also include a poem that I included in my NaNoWriMo project called Assassin’s Fiend.

As always, I’m very appreciative for everyone who has been following along with me and understanding that transitioning into a “writing first” lifestyle is one that takes a long time especially when you are trying to build your life from the bottom up again.

I hope you guys enjoy this poem and I’ll have a post up next week on Fanfictions!

Till the next Chapter,

Amanda

Assassin’s Fiend

Panic comes like a wave
It comes when the heart is soft
When the soul is tired
And when life is at its richest

It settles deep into our subconscious
Sticking needles into our very being
Making raw wounds
That seep with despair

Panic comes as pain
Swathed in black
Robbed of feeling
Writhe with malice

Thoughts become dark
Time stands still
Color turns to grey
Black becomes the sun

Cast aside your inner truth because
Agony is a friend
Love is a fiend

NaNoWriMo 2019

Hey Everyone!

This week is going to be short, sweet, and to the point. I have been very tired with trying to figure out how to get my posts working and coming out a little more steady, but a lot of that will come with a schedule that is more set. Which has finally arrived (I hope).

Anyway, this week we have started NaNoWriMo which is a challenge that many writers do because it is National Writing Month! I would really like to know why writing month has to happen this close to the end of the year, but I think it just helps to challenge people further.

Once a year, thousands of writers come together and write 50,000 words in a month. That equates out to about 1667 words a day. A normal challenge for a writer is 500 words a day. This is hard. But they say if you do 500 words a day for 3 months you will have a novel finished. This is that… only much, much faster.

This is my first time competing, but it is my third time trying to get to the 50,000 words. Let me tell you, many people drop out during the second week because it is difficult to keep the momentum going for the entire month. I will say that I am working on something that I am very excited about and I may even share part of it over the next few weeks. It is a novel idea that I’ve had for a long time. I am often told that murder mystery/crime novels are something that people do when they’re older, but I’m going to try and accomplish it now… while I’m 20… and only have short stories and cross genre work under my belt…. it’ll be fine. Hopefully.

There are two kinds of people who write: planners, and pansters. People who plan things, and people who fly by the seat of their pants and see what they can do. I am a mixture of the two. Even with that, I feel like I was thrown a bit into the writing this month and I am really going to struggle to continue to put out posts, but I will do it!

I am also challenging myself to read a book a week. I am working on finishing up The Raven which is the sequel to The Sentinel and then I have a crime and murder mystery series that I have been dying to get to.

Finally, I will begin putting together my book arts project, meaning that I will have a youtube channel that will have each project’s reveal as well as the steps that it took to get everything done. I am not someone who has ever done video editing before, so it will be interesting. Those video’s should be posted by the beginning of February and I should have my next chapbook coming out in the Winter (so in March or April).

Writing takes a long time, so it is something that is often anticlimactic until it comes out.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read my post. I truly appreciate it and I promise that things will be picking up soon here. If there is anything that I can do to make things more interesting here or to liven things up, let me know! I am very open to suggestions and would love to hear from you guys.

Till the next chapter,

Amanda

Wedding Bells and Missed Deadlines

Hey Everyone!

It’s been a busy few weeks here in Washington and it keeps getting busier. This coming Saturday is my cousins wedding – and it’s at my Aunt and Uncles house. I dont think I’ve mentioned, but I live with them. So I’ve been helping out with making paper flowers and paper butterflies – don’t worry, all of them will show up on my Instagram page as well as my Facebook page. I realize now that I’ve been using my Facebook page wrong, but I will be working on that as well.

Still waiting on a job interview, so I’ve been busying myself with wedding stuff and working on the writing for the first Book Arts video which will be on YouTube by the end of the year. It takes a lot of work to do just the writing, and I’m attempting to get all of it done by the end of October so that I can have a month to work on the video editing. I have never done any large scale video editing, so this will be interesting.

This week since I’ve been working so hard on the first draft of my new book arts project, I thought I would share one of the poems that I wrote for it. This project is focused around letter writing and creating an archive. There’s a lot going on in my head, but I will spend a couple of posts going more in depth to it as I have more drafts done.

The poem I am going to share is in it’s roughest form. I have never liked writing poems much – mainly because I have never liked reading poetry – but I do believe that it has it’s purposes and that it is a good thing to have when working in multi-modal writing. Letters and poems go really well together because their form isn’t that different.

______________________________________________

For You

I loved a messy heart
One where the beat
Didn’t go on for herself
But for the people around her

I loved a damaged heart
Where the soul is beautiful
But the body is a shrine
Damaged and weathered by time
Eroded by contempt and misplaced trust

I love a whole heart
It matched my own
I fell head over heels
In the most corny of ways

For the messy heart
For the damaged heart
For the whole heart
For you

____________________________________________

As I said before, it’s pretty rough, I’m rrying my best and this whole project is getting my head in a twist because it’s all based around love letters and I never have been someone that in touch with their own emotions.

I was supposed to be done with the first draft today…. that isn’t happening. The stress is real.

I am very excited to announce that the first book review will go live this Friday. I have been so busy lately that when I have time that I actually don’t want to spend it reading. I have been watching a lot of anime, Fraizer, and animated movies (a lot of Shrek in particular) – but I am on track to finish Dark Visions by L.J. Smith by Thursday.

I know that there is a lot of stigma around reading YA novels and series as an adult, but I think that there is a lot to get out of a lot of authors, no matter what kind of audience they are aiming for. Case in point: I do plan to read and do reviews on the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. There are like 25+ books and I am a sucker for them even though they are meant for elementary school kids (and they’re still coming out). So when I get to those books, know that there will be a lot of reviews coming out fast since I can read about one a day. But this discussion is for another blog post.

It has been about 3 months since I started the blog, and I would love a little bit of feedback from you guys. What do you find interesting? What do you find is lacking? What would make this writing blog more interesting? Do I need to put more of my own work out? What would make this most beneficial?

Thank you so much guys and remember that my first Chap book Laments is still available. And my next one is getting pushed out until sometime next winter. I am focusing on these book art projects since they are my graduate school application pieces. But I do still have 40 copies of Laments available. Just go to the tab for chapbooks on my webpage and it will help you from there. they are $12 a piece and I’m getting good feedback on them.

Okay guys! I’ll be talking to you again on Friday with the Dark Visions review.

Till the next chapter,

Amanda

My first photography project. Bound by Knowledge. It was a lot. This project is something that I think I’ve posted a picture of before, but I owe these guys since they did some weird stuff for me.