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?)