Saturday, December 26, 2015

7 Things You Should Say to Your Writer

Merry day-after-Christmas! If that isn't a thing, it shall be now. I hope all of you have been enjoying a restful time with family and friends, and that you writers have been reaching your word count each day (which I have not been doing, due to spending time with family and such).
7 Things You Should Say to Your Writer || Water & Pen ||
Being surrounded by family means said family will, at some point, inquire after my writings. As a writer, there are many things I do not want people to ask or say to me. These things are often funny, but true. But this is and has been covered by others quite often...

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

|| Three Ways Museums Make You a Better Writer ||

The day dawned at an early 7:50. For me, at least. I pressed snooze several times on my alarm, turned over in bed once or twice, and finally rolled out. It wasn't a grey day, but the wind promised a chill. 
|| Three Ways Museums Make You a Better Writer || Water & Pen ||I rushed to be ready by 8:45, when I would leave for the train station. It was the day I would venture into the city. 

The original visit was meant for frolicking around at German Christmas Market. However, one does not simply go to the city for one event. We made a few other stops. Parks, a coffee shop, and museums. 

Ah, yes. Museums. Those buildings of history and art and culture and the present and the future all combined under one roof. Beautiful things, are they not? I love museums. There's so much to see and learn--no matter how many times you visit. 

My friend and I went to a museum based off of the current state of architectural designs. We were passing by on our way to the next destination, and it was free to the public. So we thought, why not?

|| Three Ways Museums Make You a Better Writer || Water & Pen ||As we walked through this place of beauty, there was so much that struck me as story inspiration (which can be anything, really). Nonetheless, there's numerous lessons to gather from visiting a museum:

1. People-watching
This one is pretty obvious. As writers, our job is to people watch. But because it was a cold day and the museum was free to the public, there were all sorts of persons sitting around in the lobby just being them. There was this one guy who had a huge colorful crocheted hat wrapped around his hair. Trust me, this thing was ginormous--it was as if he had an animal hiding under there or something. But he just sat on one of the couches crocheting away at another project. He seemed joyful and friendly. But, being the introverted writerly sort that I am, I just observed and walked away. But that picture is stored in my mind. You can also find large groups of schoolkids running around museums, prissy higher class folks who walk around in their high heels and stand at a piece of art for fifteen minutes, and the everyday joe who meanders along whilst sipping a cup of joe. Use these people to populate your books. 
|| Three Ways Museums Make You a Better Writer || Water & Pen ||

2. Setting
Museums are often works of art themselves. The architecture is intricate and often not something you see on an everyday basis. Take lots of pictures in these unique places. You never know when you'll want to pull something from a real-life setting scene to use in your fiction. Even just a detail like the gemstone colors used in the tiling. Or maybe the antique lanterns that adorned the walls. Museums are chock full of treasures like these. 

|| Three Ways Museums Make You a Better Writer || Water & Pen ||3. Inspiration
Yes, the people and setting are inspiration themselves. But the actual art or history displayed grants extraordinary amounts of plot-bunnies. One usually walks out of a museum with more knowledge than before of something. And abstract pieces of artistic genius fill the walls with questions that you can very well answer in your next novel. Jus' sayin'. 

I might have to venture to the city more often to step into another of these capsules of life.
|| Three Ways Museums Make You a Better Writer || Water & Pen ||

What about you? Are there any settings/plot/characters of yours that are inspired by trips to a museum?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

|| How College Makes You a Better Writer ||

|| How College Makes You a Better Writer || Water & Pen ||It's the day after my first semester of college has been completed. I sit in partial darkness, listening to a playlist that fills me with nostalgia for some strange reason, and staring at my computer screen while white Christmas lights reflect the contemplative mood I'm currently in.

That was a strange sentence. Nonetheless, the first semester of college was like a whirlwind. I learned things I never imagined I would, had experiences I never thought would take place, and met people that I never could have possibly dreamed of meeting.

Continuing free-writing was difficult during those months of busy schedule in which my free time consisted of Netflix, taking walks, or sitting on the floor and staring into (seemingly) space. I had goals for myself, and I failed. But that's okay. Because I've learned a lot. My brain has probably expanded since I started back in August. At least it feels larger.

Classes, professors, chapel, friends, not-so-friend(ly)s, strangers, adventures, sickness.
Every single one of these things (and more) have added to my knowledge. I've grown.
And here's what I've learned:

1. People are worth your time. 
There's so much you can learn from just one person. Think about how much you can learn from the whole school. I know it's tempting to sit in your room for hours by yourself, but it's worth stepping out and actually interacting with people--or, at least, watching them from a distance.
PS: Professors make excellent inspiration. You know those quirky professors portrayed in movies? They're real.

2. There's something new to realize every single day.
Even if all you comprehend is a new existential question, that's okay. Questions like that inspire creativity. New plots, characters, and worlds can pop out of the ground from those questions.

3. Experiences make up a writer's portfolio.
I know a portfolio is considered a conglomeration of one's best work, but our brains have portfolios too, don't they? Everything you experience goes into those portfolios to be stored and dug up at a later time when your writing calls for it. That one person who when they laugh it sounds like they're about to die? Yeah, your brain kept that. Use it for a character. You were about to die within the first two months of school? Your brain kept that as well. Use it wisely.

4. Essays stretch you.
Most people hate essay writing. I don't. Writing an essay is a wonderful exercise that can cultivate voice, style, and thinking skills. We have to craft essays in such a way that our professors will give us, at least, a B. This means word choice musn't be bulky. Make it flow. Make it natural. Even if it's formal, put something of yourself in there. Ask questions. Make people think. There are endless treasures to accumulate from the adventures of essay writing.

5. Time is valuable.
It's easy to sit and watch Netflix for hours. It's easy to take naps and sleep in for hours. It's easy to sit and ponder. Good things, of course, but when you have free time...write as much as you can.
But also know it's okay to stop writing, save your work, and go on an adventure. Relationships and experiences are like gold and they will create fodder for your stories. #amwriting is an excuse that many of us use to get out of social interaction, but know when your story can be saved and go on the back burner--even if for only half an hour. If you don't make these life connections, you aren't going to have much to draw from. Live.

Have you been to college? What are some things that have aided you as a writer? Are there any certain moments that stick out to you from college?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Liebster Award Nomination

Wow! I feel blessed! Thank you, Anastasia Cross, for nominating me! :D
The Liebster Award has a special place in its...heart...for the number eleven. It's given to undiscovered bloggers to promote friendship and...discovery!

Here's the rules (you'd think there'd be eleven, wouldn't you?):

1.  Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you & add a badge to your profile.
2.  Answer 11 questions that the blogger gives you.
3.  Give 11 random facts about yourself.
4.   Nominate up to 11 other blogs.
5.   Notify the nominees.
6.   Give them 11 questions to answer. 
Water & Pen || Liebster Award Nomination

Here's Ana's questions and my answers:

1. What is one of the best characters, in your opinion, ever (that you created if you're a writer, if not from book/movie/etc)?

Ooh, this is a tough one. I have so many that I adore. That's a good thing, right? But...I might have to say Flynn Colton. He's absolutely bonkers. In a good way, though, I think. You can find his pinterest board here: Flynn's Board
And, since I cheat at stuff like this, I'm going to list my other favorites.
Aurora Diamond is one of the main characters in my current WIP series: A Different Kind of Legacy. There's a lot of me in her...she gives me the chance to explore myself and be vulnerable. Her board is here: Aurora's Board

2. Who is your favorite villain ever? Why?

Uh, mine or not? 
Loki from the Marvel Universe is one of my absolute favorites. Tom Hiddleston does an amazing job portraying him. Loki is such a rounded character, it's fabulous. There's a lot we can learn from him for our villains. Back story, pain, motivation, etc. It's all there. 
And then my own? Einstein Voltswammer. He likes pink donuts with sprinkles. 

3. What is one of your darkest secrets? 

This piece of information is confidential. Ha. ;) Uh...hmm. This is a difficult question. I'll get back to it. 
Gosh, I still don't know. 
I don't hate Jar Jar Binks. 

4. Do you enjoy showering or is it an inconvenience? 

I like hot water and getting clean and smelling nice. However, I don't necessarily enjoy the time showering takes up. So, I enjoy the benefits, but not the procedure. 

5. What are your top 5 favorite writing blogs?

Oh goodness. Another difficult question. In no particular order:
 Inkspot  || Hullo, Ana! Well, like she said when she nominated me, we have a connection. So, yeah. ;)
 Plottinger Twist || Plottinger Twist is run by Hannah Wilson and her blog is adorable and she's super sweet.
 Writing is Home to Me || Run by R.B. Denney (or Rachel Beth). Rachel is down to earth and has a unique way in going about her posts.  
 The Storymonger || Braden runs this blog and he never fails to cause me to emit a chuckle. He's clever.
 This Incandescent Life || Emily T. Jaden has superb advice on the craft of writing! 

6. Do you prefer cake or ice cream? Pie or cheesecake?

Shoot. Warm, gooey chocolate cake with ice cream on top. Sorry, I'm not choosing. Cheesecake. Definitely cheesecake. 

7. What kind of books do you like to read the most?

Interesting books with intricate characters and plot.

8. What is your favorite fruit?

HARD QUESTIONS, ANA. *Sigh* I like strawberries a lot. But also watermelon. But then again, there's tomatoes... 

9. How fabulous are these questions?

These questions are of the utmost fabulosity. 

10. Do you approve or disapprove of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc.?

I have them all. I do not disapprove except when they're used for evil means or used wrongly. 
I think they're a great way to connect with people (readers/fellow writers/family/friends), especially as I grew up a military kid, always moving was difficult...and keeping in touch more so. 

11. Long hair or short hair? Dyed or natural? Straight or curly? What do you prefer/have?

I have long, straight, natural hair. For myself, that's what I prefer. For others, it's really their choice...but I wouldn't suggest guys go with super long hair or anything. Unless they're elves or Aragorn or something.

Elven random facts about myself. 
Whoops, Middle Earth autocorrect.

1. I've lived in ten states, twelve houses, and moved twelve times in eighteen years.

2. I haven't left my dorm floor all day because my only class on Thursdays (math--yes!) was canceled so I slept in and missed breakfast and so I ate cereal and made coffee with my new French press and did homework and beta-reader stuff for Ana and blog stuff (this) and made soup for my throat because I decided to eat lunch in my room instead of going to the cafe because it's raining and everybody else already ate and I'll probably be in my room until dinner time at, like, five. 

3. I finished my soup and feel dehydrated because even though it was only half a packet of Lipton, it was salty and now I'm eating Swedish Fish my mom gave me for my birthday which was, by the way, on September 4. 

4. I drink lots of water. Probably 3-4 Nalgenes a day.

5. I'm majoring in English with a writing concentration and a minor in Intercultural Studies!

6. Mugs are amazing tools of...toolness? You can drink from em, eat from em, put stuff in em. I have this adorable Jane Austen mug I got for my birthday and it's just so cool.

7. I love the outdoors and admiring God's creation so much that I think I always have at least one bug bite.

8. Kayaking and horseback riding and camping and hiking and hammocking is where it's at. 

9. For my Eminent British Writers class we're currently reading 'Camelot Meets Zombies' AKA Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It's well written and an amazing piece of literature, but it's weird, guys. Real weird. And 'Gawain' is pronounced 'gowin'. Weird, huh?

10. It's raining. I love rain.

11. I'm called to be a missionary and a writer. Ah! 

My nominations: 
I have a feeling it will be difficult to find eleven blogs to nominate...nevertheless...
1. H.M. Wilson at Plottinger Twist
2. R.B. Denney at Writing is Home to Me
4. Braden Russell at The Storymonger
6. Elizabeth Brush at What Can I Say?

That's all I have for now, y'all. 

My Elven questions to y'all:

1. When did you start writing and why?

2. Do you see yourself being a full-time writer (author) or having a different/side career?

3. What book has made the biggest impact on your life? (That you've read and written). Why?

4. Who is your favorite character? (From what you've read and written). Why?

5. What's your favorite board game and why?

6. Coffee or tea? Something else? What kind?

7. Favorite Bible verse?
8. Current WIP? What's it about? Why are you writing it? Who are the characters?

9. How's life?

10. Advice for other writers?

11. If you had a troll, what would you name him/her? 

Thanks again, Ana! This was fun! 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

5 Ways to Keep Writing in College

5 Ways to Keep Writing in College || Water & PenAnd lo, the morning dawned bright and early at six thirty-three. A cool breeze tickled upon the rosey curtains, hinting (or maybe teasing) at fall.

Though the hour was early, my mind could not fall back to rest.
And the reasons could quitepossibly have been three.

Of course, after a long night without drinking any water, I was "dying" of thirst.
Then again, I also really had to use the restroom.

But...there was one more reason my mind was active and no longer bent to sleep's whim.
It was the day...
that I would move...
into my first ever dorm room.

A knot settled in my stomach. It was a mixture of excitement, stress, and the urge to shed tears. Yes, you can feel tears in your stomach.

Though I haven't yet started college, or...even moved in to my room yet... I have some tips for maintaining a somewhat normal writing lifestyle.

1. Know your schedule
Know when your classes are. And don't miss them (unless you're sick or something. Nobody wants your germs). Get homework done when you can. Mingle with other students. Don't neglect them.

2. Keep a planner
Write down the times of all your classes, meetings, work, due dates. And then block off time for writing when you know you'll have an hour or so.

3. Make friends
How does this help with writing, Rachel? This only keeps me from writing! I'd rather be a hermit and hide away in my room when not attending classes! No. Just no. People are your best resources. If you want to create amazing, round need to actually get to know people. Characters are people too, right? Not only does mingling help with personality, but it helps with body language, dialogue, accent, facial expressions, physical descriptions, and, like, real-life stuff...?

4. Goals
Set writing goals for yourself. (ie: a chapter in a week, a first draft by the end of the year, 2000 words in a day, etc.) Set realistic goals you know you can achieve and work towards them like they're homework and you have to turn them in.

5. Join or form a writing group
Great for brainstorming sessions, encouragement, critical advice, and accountability. Make some writerly friends! Just do it! Maybe they can even beta read for you! Keep each other accountable to your goals.

That's what I have for y'all! These are all easy, practical ways to continue writing in college. If you'd like more on this, let me know!

God Bless!

And, of course, by the time this is actually getting published, I've already moved in to my dorm, and been at college for two days.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Please Be Weird {Creating a Fantastic Villain III}

You meet two people during the course of your day. One is talkative, eyes lighting up as they tell you about their passions, observations, and how they know at least fifteen bird calls by heart.
The other, however, keeps the conversation limited to day-to-day stuff. Weather, shopping, watching TV. Dull.

Which one is more unique? Which one is intriguing? Which one would you want to talk with again?
Uh, probably the first one.

The fact that the person knows at least fifteen bird calls is quirky.
Please Be Weird {Creating a Fantastic Villain III} || by Water & PenAnd the most interesting people are usually the quirkiest.

I'm here today to talk about your villain.
To read the first two installments of the post series click here:
Back Story Time {Creating a Fantastic Villain I}
GIVE IT TO ME {Creating a Fantastic Villain II}

Let me just say a few things:
Please, please, please don't make your villain another run of the mill villain who spouts off their entire plan before executing it, or cackles maniacally after revealing said plan, or who's just evil for the sake of being evil. (I know we all know--or should know--these rules by now, but they're rules we need to remember.)
I'm not talking from just a writerly point of view, but a reader's as well. Anything in that list is generally a sign of laziness and/or bad character development.

Those are the boring villains. I don't like boring villains.
I'm interested in the quirky villains. I want them to act like real, interesting humans (or...whatever race they happen to be).

You might not think that well rounded, intriguing villains are important, but they can make or break your story...and your other characters. Think Loki from the Thor movies, or the Winter Soldier...they're so well developed and their actions actually matter.
And (guess what?) they have their quirks.

Maybe they're insecure, maybe they adore red squirrels with such a fiery passion that they sedate them every time they see one and take it back to their secret lair (so they end up with a menagerie of just red squirrels and they have, like 500 of them so that's why the hero needs to stop them so the red squirrels don't go extinct), or maybe they absolutely have to have coffee from their favorite coffee shop before doing anything heinous for the day (think Gru from Despicable Me--no, I am not condoning utilizing freeze rays on people just to get coffee).

It's important to give your villain quirks. If your hero has quirks, your villain should have nothing less.
If you, as the writer, have quirks, your characters should have no less.

I'm not going to type out an ol' long list of random quirks for you to pick and choose from--there's tons of resources around the internet for that. If all else fails, observe the people around you (I know, scary!)--that's the best place to get the best quirks. Real's a gold mine.

Quirks are important. Quirks are human. Quirks make people lovable and rounded.

To make your villain relatable and adored by readers, they need quirks.

I mean, mine is obsessed with donuts.
And not just any donuts.
Cake donuts with pink frosting and candy sprinkles.
And my villain is a guy.
They're just really good, okay?

God Bless!
Rachel Lester

Are there any other topics regarding creating villains that you'd like me to cover?
Please comment! And it doesn't just have to be about villains. It can be about life, or your dog, or red squirrels, or your blog.

For a personal update:
Sorry I've been gone for so long! I've hardly written anything in over a month. I know, it's driving me crazy. Although college is approximately a week.5 away, I'm getting back into writing even though this next week.5 is full of packing, shopping, and VBS, I'm
trying my best to become involved again before school starts. Prayers welcomed. Immensely.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Moving Chronicles I {The Statistics of Leaving}

The Moving Chronicles I {The Statistics of Leaving} Water and Pen
I've moved about ten times in the seventeen years I've been on this earth. And I'll be moving once more this fall, but (hopefully) I'll be there for four years.

And growing up I used to hate moving. I didn't understand how it was a blessing or anything, I was stubborn and I wanted to stay where my friends were. I didn't want to leave the house I'd been living in (I mean, I was pretty good at decorating! ;) Moving is hard.

It struck me that a lot of people don't know what it feels like to pack up their entire house and move across the country. A lot of people stay in one state their entire life. That's crazy to me! The longest I've stayed somewhere is four years. The shortest I've stayed somewhere is six months. I've been on the East coast, the West coast, and into the Pacific.

So this is going to be a series blog posting. This first one is about preparations for moving and all that jazz. There's a lot more than you might think. Of course it's different for everybody, but I'm going to give you a personal, up-close look at how my family does it. As personal and up-close we can get within these next paragraphs, anyway. Hopefully this is helpful for any characters of yours who go through the moving process/move a lot!

1. Housing 
Once we find out where we're moving, we generally look at housing in the area dad will be working in. It's nice to find a house before you get somewhere. Not all people do that, I'm sure, but it's nice to move in right when you get there. Sometimes we'll even take a trip out to look at houses before we move. We did that when we moved to Colorado because my parents decided to buy a house.
However, this last move was a bit different. We had to wait about a month to get the house we wanted, so we were in a hotel for weeks.

2. Packing
So this works differently for different families. What we do is secure a packing company to come and pack our stuff into boxes. They wrap Every. Single. Item. with multiple sheets of that packing paper stuff. But it's weird because sometimes they'll wrap a little doodad (ie: a random game piece that was laying around) like five times and then wrap the fragile vase only once.  They put the things into boxes, label the boxes according to which room they belong in, tape em up, then they're gone. This usually takes hours, but doesn't go into another day.
Randoms about packing day
a.) There's usually about three or four packers from a company. They'll separate into the house and each of them will take a room. This means there's going to be like four different kinds of music blaring through your house and you can't do anything about it. Last time I believe we had country, rock, and some sort of rap or something. And then my mom was in the kitchen playing Christian music. It was crazy.
b.) They won't pack liquids or valuables like jewelry. I can't remember why liquids are a no-go, but if you have paint, shampoo, soap, anything liquid, they won't take it. Jewelry and the like is a no-go because they don't want to be held accountable if something comes up missing. They won't pack up costume jewelry either. But it's really for their protection and yours.
c.) Besides the liquid and jewelry thing, anything in sight WILL be packed up. We usually stuff a closet or room full of the stuff we're taking on our move (luggage, instruments, anything we're going to need after our stuff is gone, during the trip, and before our stuff arrives at our new place). So if you don't have your stuff set apart, it's going to get packed. Even your dirty clothes will get packed. It's happened to me before. *facepalm*
d.) When they're done, you're going to have boxes. Boxes everywhere. They will be piled high to the ceiling so you think they're going to fall on you.

3. Movers
These are the people who come the day after or even up to a week after your stuff is all packed up. And usually (seriously almost always) movers are late. They should come earlier in the morning so they can finish by night, but sometimes they don't come until afternoon and it goes until eight or nine at night.
They roll out plastic to protect your carpets, and the doors are flung wide open for easy in and out access. So if you have pets, you better make sure they're secure someplace or at a friend's house. The movers process is involved. My dad usually has a checklist to make sure everything is going good and everything is accounted for. (Though I can't remember if this is just for receiving the stuff after the move, or both).
+ Randoms about the movers
a.) It's polite courtesy to feed them during whatever meals they're at your house for. We make sure water bottles are handy and Gatorade to replenish whatever they're losing as they work. It's heavy-duty work to move the boxes and furniture. Fruits like watermelon are refreshing for them.
b.) When they're done getting your stuff into their ginormous moving truck out front of your house, that's the last time you're going to see your stuff for a long time, depending on where you're moving.
c.) If you can't get your stuff right away (if you're staying in a hotel for a month or something), your stuff will be stored in a nearby storage unit. And when you're ready, the new movers (for unloading) will pick up your stuff and bring it to your house.

4. Cleaning
I'm sure you can hire people to deep clean your house before you leave, but after living in it for however long, it'll need to be cleaned. Everything is open now. So get ready to vacuum, clean bathrooms, clean windows, baseboards, fill in holes in the walls, paint, etc. A lot of times we'll get somebody to come in and do the carpets, I think. There's a lot of stuff to get ready for the next people. Even if nobody is moving in after you leave, it wouldn't be cool to leave behind a dirty house.

5. Road Trip!
After all business is taken care of and the house is ready to go, it's time to head to the next destination! Hopefully the hotels/camping areas (wherever you'll be staying during your move) have been taken care of already. If you have pets, you have to make sure the hotel you're looking at staying in lets pets stay too. If you're going to be staying at a few hotels along the way, it's nice to have a special hotel bag with clothes in it that's easily accessible so you don't have to unpack the entire vehicle looking for whatever you need overnight.
We usually have any valuables with us that we didn't want taken. This includes laptops, video gaming consoles, and instruments, as well as personal information like bank stuff, insurance stuff, and important papers. Don't forget medical papers!

So that's the end of the first installment of The Moving Chronicles! I hope it was helpful and you can add some realism to your oc's moving experience!

The next post will (hopefully) cover some behind the scenes stuff (emotional reactions to moving).

God Bless!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Cut out Clichés! {Advice I Don't Agree With I}

Cut out Clichés! {Advice I don't Agree With I} Water & PenHey all! Sorry I haven't written in a while, I just got back from a family vacation! No, not the Family Vacation--thank God!

So there's a lot of writing advice out there, yeah? On fiction, non, poetry, characters, plot, planning, dialogue, setting...there's writing advice for everything. And the thing is...a lot of those people who give the advice think they are 100% RIGHT.

Alas, not every person out there giving writing advice is right. Actually, there's a lot of writing advice out there that I 100% disagree with.

Especially when it comes to dialogue. Sure, there's some things that shouldn't be done (according to some people)...I get that...but what if I want to do it that way?

There's a lot about avoiding clichés when writing dialogue. But guess what?
People...REAL people use clichés all the time in their REAL dialogue. If we don't have those characters who sound like real people...what are we doing? Don't we want to make our novels/characters/dialogue as believable and realistic as possible? Don't we?

If we do...listen. Listen to those around you and how they speak. There's a lot of people who use cliché's common. Don't overuse it in your writing, but don't cut it out either. I think it's a mistake. Using common phrases and dialogue that everyday real people use won't make you or your writing common.

But also don't be afraid to change it up. Mix the phrases up--the words, combine two or three--real people also do that in real dialogue.

So before you completely take advice about avoiding certain things in your writing...just think for a moment. Ask yourself if it's something people will find/hear everyday. If so, don't automatically get rid of it.

But some of the most important things to remember: Test advice and find what works for you. Find your style. Find what you enjoy. Take advice and mold it!

Hopefully this was a bit helpful!
God Bless!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

How to Write Blacking Out {Or How it Feels}

So, there I was, minding my own business, taking a shower, right? I was in immense physical pain and trying to hurry up the process. And all of a sudden things started getting weird.

The pain increased about times ten--I'm sure it was the most pain I've ever been in. And then...I realized...I was about to black out. Okay. So after a little while of standing there, feeling the symptoms, I was like: I don't know what to do but I should probably sit down.

Let's talk about how this felt. I mean, shoot I've gone through so much these past few days. Almost getting a black eye to almost fainting. Man.

What goes into the sensations of blacking out:

1. Bright colors in vision.
So one of the first things that happened was my vision started to go. At the corners, these brightish flashes like when you stand up too fast started to creep in. It was freaky. And then it was in the middle and I was like, Uh NO. I'm not blacking out in the shower.

2. Ringing in the ears. 
Okay, so my ears always constantly ring anyways, but that's a story for another day. When all this other stuff started happening, the ringing in my ears got immensely louder. Like, almost to the point that the noise of the shower I was in was drowned out. And I knew that wasn't good. I remembered a time when I was little and it was New Year's Eve and my ears were ringing and somebody told me that was a sign you were about to faint. So they had my lay down until it stopped. It didn't stop, but I didn't faint. I guess so started my life living with ringing ears. But I remembered that and I was like: SHOOT. This is BAD.

3. It got hard to breathe real fast.
All of a sudden I was struggling to breathe. Like, I didn't know what to do. I was trying to take deep breaths, but it was so difficult. I don't even know how to explain it. I could hardly speak or anything. I was praying out loud because I was so scared I was going to black out in the shower. I thought maybe it was a mind thing triggered by the pain I was in, so distracting myself would help, but I couldn't even sing. Just so we're clear, it was not a mind thing. Okay, but back to the breathing. It felt like I was breathing in hot air but not able to breathe it in fully.

4. I knew I needed to sit down or something.
I could tell something was wrong--obviously, because it felt so weird--but I knew I needed to sit down or get out of the shower. The problem was I hadn't finished showering and there was still tons of shampoo in my hair and I didn't want to deal with that if I ended up fainting outside of the shower. So I pushed back the shower curtain and sat down at the edge of the tub, not caring if water got all over the floor. Dude, I didn't want to die. Like, it was so scary.

5. Tingling and Trembling.
So my hands and feet were all tingly and stuff and it was real weird. I also couldn't stop trembling. But that lasted for a little while during and after.

6. Exhaustion.
Afterwards, I was exhausted. I got a late start that morning--about eleven thirty--because after I'd gotten the gumption to actually partly get ready, I slept for about an hour. First I'd tried to read my Bible but my eyes kept fluttering closed. I managed to read one chapter of Ezekiel before I was like: Okay, I'm going to sleep. I can't keep my eyes open any longer. (Don't worry I was actually sleeping, I didn't black out). I didn't wake up until Mom came in and checked on me.

7. Fear.
Okay, fear during and after. I was first of all afraid of blacking out and what could happen. I could bump my head, breathe in water, etc. Afterwards, after I sat for a good long time and finally felt it would be okay to finish my shower (it really wasn't but I had to do it. I couldn't sit on the side of the tub forever), I was afraid of standing up again. I didn't want to have the blacking out vision or the ringing ears or the difficulty breathing. So I finished my shower, my mom helped me and gave me pain meds, and I sat on my bed for at least half an hour. I was afraid that if I stood up that the sensations would come back. It had freaked me out! But as I sat there on my bed, I prayed and God's peace washed over me.

God Bless! I hope this is useful! And, no, I don't go around wishing to black out just so I know how to write it. Man, weird stuff just keeps happening to me!


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sock It To Me {How Getting Punched in the Eye Feels}

Dearest readers, few and far between...but still we are going to talk about how it feels to play four-way capture the flag and get punched in the face. Ahem, punched in the eye.

As a writer it's natural to think: "If only I knew how this (insert some random thing here) feels so I can write about it realistically." In fact, we think it a lot. It would be so helpful to have a multitude of life experiences under your belt to utilize in your writing. But just because it'd be nice to know how something feels...does not mean we actually want it to happen to us. Like, you don't go around wishing to get punched in the eye unless you're super hardcore and just like epic and stuff. I, for one, do NOT go around wishing to get punched in the eye. Obviously I'm not super hardcore or epic enough. I'm still working on that...*sigh*. I am playing defender to my team's flags, right? Waiting to grab flag belts of the attackers (anybody who's ever been in gym class should know what I'm talking about. This did not take place in gym class, however, as I have not been in public school for years. Yay, homeschooling!)

We're in this huge Dystopian/post-apocalyptic looking bunker gym thing called "The Field House". It has a ginormous American flag hanging by some of the doors, basketball hoops suspended from the dome-y ceiling, and various bleachers on the side of the court--which, by the way, is also huge.

I'm trying to grab an eighth grader's flag belt and his hand slips and PHOOMPH, his fist is in my right eye. Can I just say: OUCH.

It didn't feel so great. Believe me, he was not a puny eighth grader. Here's how my experience with pain and the eye and how it felt went:

1. Stunned. Okay, for a very short moment it was kind of like...WHAT? Lift a hand to the eye and be like uhhh did that just happen?

2. It stung. Bad. Think of like a million bees repeatedly stinging the whole area around your eye. And because they stung you so much, it goes numb. You feel it going numb, it kind of spreads in a uhh ripple effect? I can't think of the correct term, but think of when you throw a rock in water and the ripple goes out circularly. That's how it felt numbness wise.

3. It was hot. Where I'd been punched, it felt like I was on fire. Okay maybe not so bad there, but yow.

4. It was wet. Like, I don't know if that's because there were tears building up from the impact or what, but I felt like blood was going to drip out of my eye. If felt so weird, guys.

5. Swelling or something. I was blinking a lot to try and make sure my eye would be okay and there was this weird thing at the bottom of my vision and I don't know what it was but I think the cheekbone thing under my eye swelled a little bit.

6. Bruises. I knew for certain that later my eye was going to be black and blue because it was sore for at least an hour and sometimes a stinging sensation at the corner of my eye would kind of flare up. As I kept on playing, I was absolutely sure I was walking around with a horrid black and blue and purple eye.

Surprisingly I did not have a horrid black and blue and purple bruised eye. I hardly had any bruising, maybe a bit discoloration on my eyelid area. There was a kind of reddish mark at the corner of my eye where I think the most impact occurred, I still have a red mark that reminds me of a little scrape. (I mean, it only happened yesterday.)

7. Tender. After it happened, it was very tender. It still feels a bit strange as I'm typing this. ;)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

GIVE IT TO ME {Creating a Fantastic Villain II}

The first installment of this series can be found at this link: Back Story Time (Creating a Fantastic Villain I}

It's been a while since I wrote that first post, but last night something just flew at me. ( kind of hit me in the face...okay, not really.) 
It was, can you guess? An idea for another villain post! So, if it isn't obvious, this one is about wanting and desire.

One of my favorite writing quotes: "Make your character want something, even if it's only a glass of water." - - Kurt Vonnegut -

If you take a moment to think about it, everything that we, as humans, do is borne from a wanting. A need. A desire

Why do we eat food? We want it, we need it to survive. Why do we buy that thirty dollar pair of shoes? We want them, we desire them because they look sure durn good with that one dress we own...

There's always a reason behind what we do. Even the things done on whims have a reason behind it. We want to prove something, we want to be accepted, we want to be fulfilled... There are so many reasons for our wanting

So how does this fit in with creating a villain? Ahem, a Fantastic villain? 

Take a look at your villain. What are his motives? Why does he do what he does? 
If he/she is just kind of there, floating around, just hoping to wreak havoc for the hero, you don't have a well-rounded villain. He could be the most interesting conversationalist, but without a driving force...without a want...he's going to be pretty one-dimensional and begin to bore readers. Nobody wants to be bored...or, (horror of horrors) bore others. That's just embarrassing. 

+ What does your villain want? Fame? Money? Peace? Love? To survive? 
MAKE YOUR VILLAIN WANT SOMETHING. ANYTHING. Even if it's crazy, like he wants to own a donut franchise. At least that's interesting. 
Everybody wants something. 
Make that want the driving force behind your villain's actions.

The villain in my series isn't really...a...villain. Uh...ahem. 
No, his motives are pure, as he sees it, anyway. He wants to spare his best friend the pain of life...or of being captured by the villain corporation. 
So, while he still does evil things, his desire to keep his friend out of VICE's grip is his driving force. He wants to protect his friend. 

I'm reminded of kids who see something they want. What do they say? "GIMME GIMME GIMME."
Now, while you shouldn't make your villain a whining three year old (I mean, that'd be an interesting twist to a story, but...I don't know, man...), your villain should still have that mindset. It's human. 
(I guess if your villain is, like, alien or something, though...that might be kind of different. I can't help you there... :P)

Everybody wants something.
Even your villain. 

What does your villain want?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Military Basics {The Notification Process}

So...military life is portrayed incorrectly more often than not. It takes a lot of research to find out how things actually work on a military base or when a person is deployed. Everything from language and procedure to uniforms and Notifications...people tend to have a different idea of what happens than what really goes down.

Today let's take a look at the notification process. This is something I've seen done incorrectly a few different times. I didn't, for a long time, know how it's done either. The key is to ask. Ask people questions and do research. I happen to know somebody who is actually part of the notification process sometimes. So I peppered them with questions.

And then I did lots of research.

A notification is when military personnel go to tell the family (NOK=Next of Kin) of a dead soldier...that he/she died. There's usually two people who go to tell the family. There's a CNO (casualty notification officer) and a chaplain (military pastor). A chaplain never makes a notification but is there to offer support, prayer, and somebody to talk to.

It usually goes down like this:

A CNO and the on duty Chaplain receive information about a soldier who's died. They don their Class A's (dress uniforms), and go out to locate the NOKr of the deceased within approx. four hours.
This can take hours. Sometimes the pair will go to the address given for the NOK just to find out they haven't lived there for weeks, months. They sometimes have to hunt them down. (Then an extended notification time is allowed).

Never is a notification made through a phone call. If somebody calls you and tells you your soldier has died, it's a scam.

Sometimes a the notification pair has to go out at night and drive in the dark trying to find the NOK.

And when they get there, the NOK usually already knows something's happened. Especially when they see two soldiers in Class A's at their door.

The CNO will identify the people. Then identify self. If they're the NOK, the CNO will ask to come inside (don't deliver notifications outside if a private, indoor place is available).
Oftentimes, the NOK is already crying at this point.
The CNO will list the details of death (if known), including the rank of the soldier who died or was killed, the place and date and time of death. An example notification piece:

"On behalf of the Secretary of the Army I express deep regret that your Son Captain Robert Belinski was killed in action in Iraq on November first at three forty-two."
It will always be delivered in a way the family can understand. It will be dignified, not rushed, and professional.

Obviously each notification isn't going to be perfect. Sometimes the NOK reacts with violence. Sometimes they're in shock. There's no telling what will happen.

The chaplain asks if there's a family pastor they can call for the family, prays, talks it out...
After this process is over, contact information regarding the funeral arrangements/body pickups (for overseas soldiers) will be given to the NOK.
Side note: The group doesn't refer to the deceased soldier as 'the body'. Always by name.
Before leaving, the group should make sure the NOK is with somebody--a trusted neighbor, pastor, etc.

Okay, so recap:
1. Casualty Notification Officer and Chaplain receive information about the soldier.
2. Class A's (this is blue for Army)
3. Track down NOK (sometimes notifications have to be made when a NOK is on Disney World) (notifications are not done at schools)
4. Deliver notification
5. Support/prayer/other contacts
6. Funeral arrangement contacts
7. Always remain professional even though it's awful

These are just the basics, but they're important. I'm sorry this is a little messy!
Another note: This is difficult not only for the NOK but for the CNO and Chaplain as well.

A great resource that lays out even more information:

Is there anything else you'd like to hear about regarding the military? I'd be happy to answer/write a post about the way to correctly portray something!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Unique Individuality

So I just realized that my last post was about three months ago. And my first post was in September. What? That hardly makes sense--where has the time gone? It's kind of freaky to think about. Like, what???

Okay, so there's this thing. That I've been thinking about lately. R.B. Denney and I were discussing this topic. (check out her unique blog here: --she has a great post on this topic as well!)
There are so many Christian teen (usually homeschooled) writing (writer) blogs. So many. And it's easy to get extraordinarily discouraged when thinking about your own Christian teen writing blog. Dude, it's so easy. Hence the reason I haven't posted since January...and even that was only a short book promotion. Okay. 

So, it's easy to get beat down in this super-uplifting culture of writers. We wonder where our specialness lies--what makes us stand out from the crowd? What makes us different than the other Christian teen writing blogs?

I mean, there's several things I can list:

1. Your unique voice. Everybody has their own way of talking and describing things. If you don't believe me (which you should because it's totally a part of life), just go check out a few different blogs. You will notice stark differences in expression.

2. Your experiences. Hello! Everybody is coming from different places. So the labels "Christian", "teen", "homeschooler" and "writer" might sound so generic and a dime a dozen, but those labels do not contain you. Seriously. There is so much more to you than those labels! How did you grow up? Where? Who have you met? What have you read? What are your passions and interests? What are your fears? Your life is your experiences and therefore lends to your unique voice.

3. Your design. Okay, this one probably sounds weird, but the way your blog looks matters. A lot. We all have different tastes, that's true. And that's great. But the way your blog looks will attract a general certain group of people. For instance, if your blog is all super bright and crazy, I'm more than likely not going to read it. Bright colors tend to hurt my eyes (so why am I staring at a white screen in a dark room? Don't ask...wait, I just did. ugh), crazy...I think that speaks for itself . I'm more of a laid back, muted colors kind of person. And not everybody likes that!

4. What we bring to the table. Okay, so the whole thing comes down to this. Everything above generally reflects this at some point. Anyway, one Christian teen writing blog might discuss book reviews and writing villains. Maybe that's it. And you might discuss characterization and the methods of plotting. Your views are going to be different than somebody else's on certain subjects. You might have a different way of creating characters than I do. Good! I want to read about it! I want to learn something from your blog!

Here's the thing, guys... God can use you if you are open to Him. You can write something (yes, even a blog post) that will touch somebody whereas another person's post didn't touch that person. He can use you and your words and experiences and everything to reach people for Him...and to encourage people. It's incredible. Don't underestimate God's power or His ability to use us for His Kingdom.

He made you the way you are. He loves you. You are special and unique, dear writer! Realize that and write from the depths of your spirit--allow Jesus to speak and work through you...and without realizing'll stand out. Man, if you are speaking Truth, you will definitely stand out.

Like, just bleed truth, guys. ;)

Another side note: think about what you want to read in a blog and write about it! Think about the advice you'd like to hear on a certain matter--chances are, somebody else wants to hear it as well.
Take a step out and write even if you're unsure.

It will be okay.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, for the Lord rather than for men..." Colossians 3:23

Love y'all!

Ray AL (okay, so Ray AL sounds a little weird, but I desperately want a writerly name thing. I don't know! Suggestions?)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Who Doesn't Like Free Books?

Hi, all!

I've been thinking about it for a while, and I decided to run a free book promotion. It lasts from today (the 12) until Friday.

It's for my only (self) published book, Sound Effect. It's for the Kindle and you can read it on an Ipad, computer, Kindle, etc. I hope you'll pick up a copy (since it's FREE ;) and let me know what you think!

You can get it here: Sound Effect on Amazon (free!)