Category Archives: Writing 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

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

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

Draft No. ______

Hey Everyone,

So there are a lot of things going on around my house and Halloween is just around the corner. I have finally been able to find a job (2 actually) so I’ll finally have some stress relieved in that department. On the flip side, I am falling behind in my posts here as well as in my rough draft which is never a good thing.

This week I have a lot of work related anxiety since I’m starting both new jobs practically tomorrow, but for now I just wanted to talk about something really simple. Drafts.

Everyone has a different way that they go about writing, but no matter who the writer is, nothing comes out perfect the first time. No matter how good you think it is, it’s not the best that it can be. You may need to read through it and make corrections 2-10 times. I put 10 times on there because I have drafted something that many times and it is so tedious, but so necessary.

My current piece that I am working on is actually in it’s third draft phase. I have been expanding, cutting, and mostly clarifying what it is that I’m writing. Having a shitty first draft is better than having a blank page staring back at you.

I also think that people don’t realize how important drafting is. In college I would often write something, read through it once for grammar and flow, and then turn it in without really bothering to rewrite any of the parts that could have given me better clarity. It was something that I didn’t want to take time for.

I had a friend in high school and in my first two years of college who was ashamed of how long it took him to put out a decent version of a short story that he was writing (this was back when I was following a more… self destructive course for schooling rather than doing what I wanted. He mentioned how easily people seemed to be able to write their stories and how he was going to only have one while they had several.

Originally I had blown him off saying that there was no reason that he should feel uncomfortable with how long a draft was taking. He had probably 20 different iterations of his one story and wasn’t happy with any of them. He stopped drafting about a week later and ended up being able to squeak out a couple more short stories to save his grade. I was happy for him. Happy for the fact that he passed the class.

Now, I’m more devastated at the fact that he put out work that he wasn’t proud of. As writers, it’s easy to have this inferiority complex and to feel like we will never be good enough. I feel that that comes from the way that we were taught to write early on in school. Write an entire essay in 90 minutes and use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Writing was about deadlines and having something done in a certain amount of time.

I’m not going to be that writer that says that you have all the time in the world to get your piece right because I live in the real world. Deadlines do exist. I have a deadline of Feb. 1st to have a writing piece done as well as it’s accompanying book arts project. I had originally planned to have 2 pieces, like that done, but there was no way that that was going to happen – Unless I had decided to put out work that I’m not proud of. I’m applying for my Masters! If I can’t put out work in my application that I’m proud of, then I feel like I’m selling myself short.

Word to the wise: play with it until you’re happy with it, have someone else read it, and then play with it some more.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this. I promise that I will be getting my head on track and putting out posts at a more scheduled time on Monday. Book Reviews as always are just kind of happening whenever I get the chance to finish a book, seems like Fridays are my thing right now for that.

Finally I wanted to do a check in. I posted a similar thing in a post about 2 weeks ago I think. It was mainly to see how people were feeling about how the blog is going, if there were things that I needed to change, or if everything was going pretty smoothly. I’m open to any and all suggestions.

Till the next chapter,

Amanda

It’s been awhile since I posted a picture, but I have recently been talking with one of the exchange students that I have hosted in the past from Japan. Making me really want to go out and see her. We had a total of 3 students, Miku, Suzune, and Hiromi and also one teacher named Aiya. All of them came out at different times except for Suzune and Hiromi who both came out together.

Quality over Quantity

Hey Everyone!

So this weekend was very busy with the wedding, but it was beautiful and the weather actually held out for us. The morning was wet and drizzly, but the afternoon couldn’t have been more beautiful – a little warmer would have been best though. All in all, my aunt couldn’t have pulled off a more beautiful wedding.

This week I wanted to talk about something that is very important to remember as a writer that often gets bypassed. Quality over quantity.

As a writer in school, professors wanted you to turn out a certain number of poems, short stories, whatever – in a week. They wanted you to write just to get words to paper. In reality, you are lucky to get a poem out in a month. One poem can be written four or five times before you are happy with it and it is considered “done”. I am running into this problem now.

I have mentioned before that I am working on my MFA application and I am working on editing, expanding, and creating a piece of book art for this application. My goal was to complete two pieces. One that was a series of letters, and another that was a cross genre prose piece. Both were going to be completed and have books made, the process documented and thrown into a video which was going to be the videos that I made for YouTube that I talked about last week.

I thought it would be possibly to get all this stuff done before February 1st. That is complete and total crap. I realized that today as I was reading through my work. There is so much that goes into making any book and any time less than what you need isn’t going to turn out work that you are proud of.

I always thought that I would rather die and put out work that I wasn’t proud of. I was quickly proven wrong when there was a time line that was placed on creating a full length chapbook with at least 7,000 words. Three weeks. That was all I got. The stories weren’t what I wanted and honestly needed a lot of work. But I did what I could given the time that I had.

I came to the conclusion today that if I’m going to put out work for my MFA, I wouldn’t feel good about it unless I was able to put in the work that would be needed for it. At this point, I plan to work on and finish one project in all of it’s completion to turn in to the program. I am alright turning in the writing only for the second project. I’m itching to start something new as well

This is all very personal, but some writers are able to turn out a lot of high quality books very quickly:

  • Sherilyn Kenyon
  • James Patterson
  • Erin Hunter
  • Diana Steele

And that’s just a few of them. In the end you have to decide what it is that is most important at the time. Quality or Quantity.

I think that there is some importance about just getting pen to paper and get words to the paper. Once the words are out, then you have something to work with. When first starting out, that can actually be helpful.

When it comes down to it though, taking the time to make work that you are proud of is always what’s important. Take the time that you need to create the work that you need. There are always people who are going to want to push you to get it done sooner – and those who have aggressive managers will have that – but there’s no need to make more than needed. Sometimes the bare minimum is the best.

So I hope that this isn’t too off kilter from how I normally talk. I have been battling a migraine for the last few days and I’m not completely sure that this makes sense. I can revisit this later again if needed.

Till the next chapter,

Amanda

Throw back to my first fully completed book. Laments is still one of my favorite things that I have done to dote and I take a lot of pride in it. I still have a lot of them available, so if your interested in it, just let me know.

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.