Sunday, May 22, 2016

A long overdue life update

So it's been a little while. Just shy of a year, actually. Turns out college is hard and time consuming. When it comes down to it, blogging comes in after both studying and writing on my list of priorities. I have still been writing. I actually became a senior staff member at my college's newspaper, which is kind of a big deal. So I donned the hat of journalist and let the hat of fiction writer and blogger gather dust in the corner. It will continue to gather dust a little longer, I'm afraid.

In other news, I started another blog. I know that I already have a blog which I let sit derelict for just a nose shy of a year. But this new blog is beautiful and has a very specific purpose. On it I will be documenting my nine week adventure volunteering in the Dominican Republic this summer. If you're interested, check it out. If not, maybe I'll blog here about writing a little more in the year to come. You never know.

Seriously, I think this blog is just beautiful.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Time Management as a Student & Writer || Guest Post

I'm so excited to get to have Abigail here with a fabulous guest post on time management for writers. Enjoy and please read, comment, and share!

Attending high school is hard. Writing as a serious hobby is even harder. When you combine the two of them, it becomes downright ridiculous. Are you studying Calculus and attempting to write the next Tolkien epic? You’re in the right place.

As teen writers, we have several aspects to our lives: our education, our families, and our writing. There are four main problems we face when we try to manage the three at once.

We lose track of time.
We suffer from burn-out.
We procrastinate.
We don’t get our work done.

Those are some big problems, so we need some big solutions. If we want to get stuff done, we need to manage our time. “Time management” is a complicated term, but in this post, we’ll break it down into a series of five steps.

Now that we’ve explained things, let’s look at the solutions.

Know Your Schedule
If you have to wash the dishes at five o’clock, don’t schedule your writing time for six. You’re not helping yourself by planning crazy, hectic weeks.

If your classes are getting intense, and you need more time to study, reschedule your flexible activities. For example, wake up half an hour earlier to write in the morning. It’s better than coffee. If your chores are a flexible activity, ask your parents if you can reschedule them. You can mow the lawn later in the evening, or dust the living room before breakfast.

 Don’t be afraid to start a task at a different time each day, swap chores with your siblings, or wake up an hour earlier. Be creative with your schedule. You’re a writer. Creativity comes naturally to you.

Stay Mindful
I’ll be the first to admit it, staying mindful of your time is hard work. But, we can use a few tips and tricks to help ourselves out.

Once you’re aware of your schedule, you’ve gotta stick to your schedule. Set an alarm for the amount of time you can spend on a task, and when the alarm sounds off, quit. That’s right, quit. It doesn’t matter if you’re almost finished, or if you weren’t able to make progress. Quit, gosh darn it, and get on to the next task on your to-do list.

We do this because, when dealing with multiple projects, we have to keep working. If you aren’t making progress on one project, switch to another. If you’re in the middle of one project, keep working hard by tackling your next task.

Also, switching projects helps prevent burn-out. How discouraging is it to stare at a blank screen for hours at a time? Very discouraging.

So, stay mindful, switch projects, prevent burn-out, and keep busy.

Implement a Reward System
Maybe when you were younger, your parents would treat you with a reward if you brought home a good report card. Did the possibility of a reward make you work harder? Chances are, it did. So, why not give yourself a reward when you make progress on your tasks?

It’s an easy thing to do. First, make a list of cheap, easy, or fun things you enjoy, and then assign a task to that reward. For example, my reward list looks like this:

Write a blog post = Watch the evening news
Finish homework = 15 minutes crocheting
Write 1,000 words = 30 minutes of Internet use
Finish chores = grab a cookie

See? Easy as eating a slice of chocolate cake. (Which is a great idea for a reward.)

Create Checklists
Some tasks can appear so daunting that it’s hard to get to work, and that’s why checklists are such a helpful tool. You can use checklists to break up complicated projects into smaller tasks, and it makes the project seem less threatening.

For example, say you had to write a research paper. We’d break down that monstrous project into bite-sized chunks, like this:

Visit Library
—Search and checkout books on topic
Organize Research
—Get folders
—Label folders
—File papers
Write Outline
—Find topic angle
—Find “walkaway point”
—Find “connecting points”
—Find “supporting points”
—Outline topic sentences for each paragraph
Write Paper
—Write first page
—Write second page
—Write third page
—Write (etcetera…)
Write Bibliography/Citation Page
—List all research quoted in paper
—List sources
—Write page
—Check page for accuracy
—Edit page
Edit Paper
—Edit for extraneous content
—Edit for “purple prose”
—Edit for spelling and punctuation
—Edit for final copy
Hand in paper

That’s an example of how powerful checklists can be. You can see how we broke down that huge project of writing a research paper into little tasks. It makes the ordeal more manageable, doesn’t it?

Know How You Spend Your Time
When you’re not getting your work done, knowing how you spend your time is a great way to remedy the problem. Once you know where all that time goes, you can get a handle on any procrastination.

To track your time, I suggest a program like RescueTime. It tracks how you spend your time on the Internet and your desktop. Once you’ve spent a week with the program, the software will send a report to your inbox on how you spent your time during the week. It’s a helpful productivity tool.

Let’s say you got your weekly report. You found out you spend most of your time on social media. Well, that’s a problem. But, now we have that information, and we can use it to our advantage. Most, if not all, of social media is online-based. So, just shut off the Internet. If you use mobile devices that have Internet access, stash them in another room to avoid temptation.

Or, you could just grab your work and head outdoors.

So, we’ve noted a few problems, proposed a few solutions, and got down to the nitty-gritty of time management. Now, get writing!

But first, tell me, how do you manage your time? Do you struggle with slipping time for writing into your day?

Abigail Post is a seventeen-year-old fantasy writer with four novels stuffed underneath her bed. She is a freelance writer, blogger, author, and editor. Her short stories have appeared on the website of Teen Ink, and she is a compulsive writing contest-enterer. When she can't bother her cats, she's tinkering with her fountain pens, or planning to toss her next book in the fireplace.

You can find her at, or stalking her favorite authors on Twitter.

Monday, April 27, 2015

What Makes Us Writers || Guest Post

Sarah here. I'm so excited we get to welcome Anne Marie Schlueter of AM Station today!  Please show Anne lots of friendliness, and if you like what you see here, head over to her blog and check it out!


We have a complex job. But is it really a job? It’s more of who we are. It is part of our essence, a part of what defines us. So perhaps it is more appropriate to say that we are complex people.

But are we really?

We understand the world in ways that others overlook. We can be still and silent and just watch and listen. Not many people can do that. We are aware of the sounds and smells around us while others are so lost in moving from point A to point B that they miss it all. We’re more concerned about what happens between. We want to know about the roads and dragons and forests that lie between A and B.

To be a writer is to be someone who is determined.

We don’t quit. Even when it feels like we’re spewing garbage, we put one word in front of the other. Even though we have a folder full of rejection letters, we hit “submit” anyway. We are unable to quit. Why? Because, for us, to quit would be to stop breathing. Simply, we cannot.

To be a writer is to be able to articulate beauty and sorrow. It’s the ability to turn feelings into words and slather them onto a page.

Writers are fearless. We are courageous. We are strong even when we feel weak.

We’re not afraid to just live.

A writer is not something you can become. A writer is someone that you are. If you write, if you listen, if you notice, if you love, then you’re a writer. Claim it. Embrace it. Be empowered by it. Don’t be ashamed of it. Tell people “I am a writer” because writing is tied to you as much as your name is.

Now go write!

Anne Marie Schlueter is a teenage writer with an affinity for words, music, food, and Jesus. Her articles have appeared on the Life Teen website and she blogs regularly. Other than that, she writes short stories and poetry, and is currently in the midst of editing a novel. Her blog: Twitter: (@sassqueenofmw)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Novel Spotlight: Dauntless

Happy Monday! Or not so happy Monday, depending on how much you take after Garfield.

Today we have a novel spotlight.  The book came out about month ago and has gotten tons of 4 and 5 star reviews. I happen to know the author through two mutual friends, which I think it cool. Let me introduce you to Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman.

Buy on Amazon
View on Goodreads

Though once a baron's daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village. Dubbed "The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest," her band of followers soon become enemies of the throne when they hijack ill-gotten gold meant for the king. Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, will he choose fame or love?

Dina L Sleiman is the author.  Here's a little more about her:

Dina Sleiman writes stories of passion and grace. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. Dina also serves as an acquisitions and content editor for WhiteFire Publishing. For more info visit her at or check out her latest series at

Have you read Dauntless? What did you think? OR What is one of your favorite medieval fantasy books? Comment below and let me know!

I received a copy of this book as a thank you for writing this post. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

When You're Too Frustrated to Continue || Guest Post

Today I'm very excited to have a guest post for you all. Please show a warm welcome to Jessica Wolf from Simple Scribbles

Writing is hard. No one ever said it was going to be easy. If it was easy, everybody and their mother's brother's dog would be doing it. Like E.B. White once said, “Writing is hard work and bad for the health.”

There are times when I hate writing. I mean, I really, really hate it. There are times when I want to delete everything I've ever written and forget about it all.

Recently, I finished the first draft of my first novel, The Carpenter's Wife. Like most writers, after letting it sit for awhile, when I came back to begin editing, I found that I hated it. First drafts are supposed to be bad, but this was worse than I had expected. It was choppy, it jumped around too much, and overall, it just didn't read well.

After about two weeks of making small edits before moving onto the big ones, my Frustration Meter hit its limit. I could not take anymore. I was so disappointed in myself and so discouraged I had to walk away for awhile. In fact, I still haven't touched it since sometime last month.

Don't do what I did, though. Here are four things to do when you get too frustrated to continue!

1. Take a breather.
It's okay to step back every once and a while, especially if you're in the editing phase. But even if you're just drafting, sometimes taking a break from something that's causing you unnecessary frustration is what's best. This could mean take a break for ten minutes or take a break for ten days. Whatever you think will give you the most time and space to recharge.

2. Start something new.
If you're anything like me, you find sticking to one project at a time is difficult. I've learned to force myself to work on one thing and one thing only. Sure, I use Pinterest to pin the heck out of my growing ideas and I take notes on them like crazy, but I force myself not to put words down on paper until I've finished (or moved on, if need be) from my current project.

Even so, if you're finding that whatever you're working on is frustrating you to no end, choose one of those ideas you've been mulling around and start it. While first drafts aren't easy, they're sometimes the most freeing because you get to do whatever you want in whatever form you want. Try this tip out especially if you're in the editing stage and you're craving a good plain-ole' writing session. I tried this out myself when reaching my limit with The Carpenter's Wife, and I'm loving what I'm working on now even more.

3. Take a nap.
Simple, straight forward, effective.

Taking a nap might seem like a kid's thing, but it's a great way to get rid of frustration. Close your laptop or put down you pen, and throw yourself onto the nearest bed. Sleep it off and get back to work when you wake up. You'll be refreshed and you may even find you dreamt of a way to cure the cause of your frustration.

4. Stop. Yell/groan. Continue.
You might do this already, but, if you don't, venting your frustration is a great tool to get rid of it. Stop writing and yell, curse, groan, kick something, punch a pillow, stamp your foot. Do something to release some of that anger. When you're sufficiently yelled-out, sit back down and continue. Sometimes that little shout or punch to the pillow is all that's needed.

Getting frustrated with your writing comes with the territory. If you're never frustrated, that's probably not a good sign. Just remember: Never let your frustration get the better of you. You are a writer; your story deserves to be told. With practice, hard work, and determination, your novel will get finished and you will have triumphed over the frustration.

Until next time, keep scribbling, friends!
~ Jess

Jessica Wolf is an aspiring author with a sweet-tooth for historical fiction and period dramas. She is currently working on the first draft of her second novel attempt and hopes to one day self-publish. After high-school, she plans on attending college to become an editor. You can read more of her writing at