So lately, I’ve been really stressed about my writing. I’ve felt like I’m not getting enough done, like I’m not moving fast enough, like, a...

So lately, I’ve been really stressed about my writing. I’ve felt like I’m not getting enough done, like I’m not moving fast enough, like, at this rate, I’ll never be published.

Like I just can’t do what I’ve set out to do.

The feeling has been caused by several problems, among them some non-writing-related, but time-consuming projects; the dreaded synopsis; and my main story, which I thought was finished only to realize it had several fundamental issues. So back to the editing board I went.

The harder I tried to get everything done, the more stressed out I felt. It seemed there was never enough time to write all that I wanted, so why should I even try? Maybe I should do something more attainable like become an actress – not sure my face is pretty enough, but plastic surgery works wonders  or maybe a politician  I’ll just learn to lie really well.

And that was when the Lord started sending encouragement my way. I read two writing books and a GoTeenWriters blog post, all three of them full of helpful tips and uplifting words. I started writing another story, got into my groove, and remembered how much fun writing is. I emailed a friend about my difficulties, and she sent back three words, “Can’t rush perfection!” but it made my day. It made me realize that I really can’t rush this. That writing is what I want to do, more than that, what I’ve been called to do.

But some days, writing is going to be hard. Matter of fact, it might be downright awful. Every once in a while, I’m not going to able to edit that chapter and those two little paragraphs just won’t sound right.

And that hurts. It’s stressful. It’s annoying. It gets under your skin like an itch you cant scratch, and makes you miserable in an even more excruciating fashion. In a word, it sucks, and I hate it. I just want everything to be smooth-sailing.

But that’s never going to happen. Whether I decide to be a writer, a movie star, or a congresswoman, my work is going to suck some days.

So I decided to come up with a failsafe for those days. Something to push me on, keep me going when I want to shoot my main character myself, pack my laptop away, and curl up with somebody else’s already-published and much better book for the rest of my life. And I figured the best thing I could do was remember why I was writing in the first place.

The first reason I started writing was because I enjoyed it. Because it was a cool pastime, and several of my friends did it. Then I wrote my first novel in NaNoWriMo 2011. That was when I knew I wanted to be a writer  for real  because I’d had fun. I’d written a story I knew could touch someone’s life, and I felt a calling on my life to spend the rest of it writing words that entertain and edify, words that make someone see the world and themselves a little bit differently. A little bit better.

Armed with these memories, I wondered how I could keep them in mind at all times. That’s when I noticed the little star sticky notes my mom gave me several months ago. And a brilliant idea was born.

My handwriting can be pretty awful, so in case you cant tell, it says: Youre a star! You believe Gods called you to be an author? Then an author you will be.

Writing can be pure magic – if you let it. Relax, enjoy it. Let it take you for a ride. Never apologize for nerdiness. Focus on the practice, not the performance.

Dont feel overwhelmed. Remember when writing was just fun. You dont have to do everything now. You dont have to be a world-famous author now. Just do the best you can with the time you have, strive and try your hardest, and watch God work everything out.

Entertain. Edify. And change the world.

I have these sticky notes, which in the shape of stars makes them all the better, right above my writing desk, and I’m going to keep these reminders up at all times, even when the going gets easy. Writing is one of the most important things in my life, and I want to always keep these words in mind so I always do the best I can with the time and ability I have. Even if my best is not where I want it to be at that moment, I’m still striving towards a goal. A goal I know is attainable. And these pretty little star-shaped notes will help me keep all that in perspective.

Now I wanna hear your story: why’d you start writing? And what do you do when the writing gets rough?

So I saw this on Heather Manning’s blog several weeks ago, and I decided to try it myself. It was much harder whittling the list down than...

So I saw this on Heather Manning’s blog several weeks ago, and I decided to try it myself. It was much harder whittling the list down than I thought it would be  took me all week  but finally, I have here the top ten most influential books/series I’ve ever read... in no particular order.

1) Dragons in Our Midst and all the following series by Bryan Davis: The last series, Children of the Bard, isn’t finished yet, but reading these books has been incredibly exciting. What’s more, my own Christianity has been challenged, particularly when I read The Bones of Makaidos. Some deep stuff happened in that book, and I still remember one of Bonnie's prayers. Mr. Davis does a brilliant job of combining fantasy and adventure with faith and Christian teaching, and it's one of the best series I've ever read.

2) Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene: The girl sleuth has been one of my favorites for years! She really inspired me to enjoy mysteries, thinking, and deductive reasoning. Plus, she’s just so cool.

3) American Girl books by Various Authors: Pretty much all of them, though the Addy, Samantha, Kaya, and Josefina series are probably my favorites. These books are awesome, a history lesson and fun all in one. I still read them sometimes – and I’m 16.

4) Dear America and the Royal Diaries by Various Authors: Again, pretty much all of them and for the same reason as the American Girl books. My favorites from these series are The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow and Kaiulani: The People’s Princess. From each series, these are the two that stuck in my head the most. They’re both absolutely heart-wrenching, yet there’s such joy and power mixed into these girl’s stories.

5) Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn: Like Bryan Davis’ books, Ms. Gunn combined faith and fun in a spectacular way. My favorites are the latter ones, as they focused specifically on trusting God, and on relationships, how to deal with them in a God-honoring way.

6) Laylie’s Daring Quest by Kersten Hamilton: Laylie is such an amazing, inspiring character, and her story rings true for many Black people of that time. Definitely one of my favorite books as a kid, and honestly, it still is.

7) Say Goodnight, Gracie by Julie Reece Deaver: I read this book about three years ago, but I still think about it fairly often. It’s a very emotional, moving story.

8) Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series by Stephanie Morrill: Reading Skylar’s story was very inspirational for me. It made me think about my own faith and my own life as I read about Skylar wading through high school, trying to deal with her whole family as well as her own feelings of fear and guilt. Plus, Skylar was such a great character to read about. We really aren’t much alike, and yet, I related to her so, so much.

9) Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: Unlike Skylar, me and Alice are almost identical. I mean, honestly it’s kind of scary. Her awkwardness, the way she deals with situations, even the way she thinks, though slightly less in the latter books. Still, she could just about be my twin, and it was quite comforting to know that I am not alone. Even if she doesn’t technically exist.

And number 10) A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket: This series is just hilarious! It made me want to write like him, to make people laugh the way he does. Obviously, I know it’s impossible to ever use his style exactly, because it’s uniquely his. But it did inspire me, and I do want to shine such humor in dark situations someday, to make people laugh out loud as they read.

Well, that’s my list! Hope you enjoyed reading it! Have you ever read any of these? And what are some of your favorites?

Recently, I watched a Blimey Cow video and, to make a long story short, it talked about link bait. They describe it a bit more in the vide...

Recently, I watched a Blimey Cow video and, to make a long story short, it talked about link bait. They describe it a bit more in the video, but pretty much, link bait is whenever you see a link like “10 Things You Don’t Know About Your Food (After Reading Number 5, You’ll Never Eat Eggs Again!).” Or “Her Life Was In Shambles Until She Met Him (What Happens Next Will Make You Weep).” Link bait just tries to “bait” you into clicking on it by promising something romantic, funny, exciting, interesting, or downright unbelievable.

And I got to thinking, isn’t that what some writers, particularly the ones online, do with their stories? Try to entice you with a cool tagline that may or may not do justice to the story itself, so long as you go out and read it?

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with advertising yourself or with writing a cool tagline that will make people want to read your material. You just shouldn’t stop at the tagline. Actually offer people something real.

And, as Josh said in the video, “Let the story speak for itself.” Instead of saying in the summary, “It will move you to tears,” write the story, give it a good title, let people read it, and then watch them bawl. Don’t tell them the brother’s antics are hysterical, give him the funniest jokes, make him do the craziest things, and then let your readers laugh until their sides hurt. As writers, we should “bait” them with brilliant writing and enchanting characters, not just an enticing tagline.

I’m definitely going to keep this in mind when I come up with titles and summaries, especially for my online stories, but I want to know: What are your thoughts on all of this?

First things first: this is my new pet tiger. His name is Dhiren, and I drew him into existence myself (with a little help from t...

First things first: this is my new pet tiger.

His name is Dhiren, and I drew him into existence myself (with a little help from this video). If you understand why I named him Dhiren, you’re awesome. If not, thou musteth goeth and readeth Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck immediately. Go on; I’ll wait. 

OK, so I won’t. It’s a long book, but totally worth the read.

Anywho... Moving on.

So, like most teenagers when they start to reach the end of their high school years, I’ve been thinking a lot about college lately. Since I’m home schooled and a little bit ahead, I was really hoping to be able to finish everything and start college next school year.

But, as I get closer and closer, it's beginning to look less and less like that's going to happen. So, I thought, "Well, I've gotta push harder. Finish this. Get good grades in that. I've got to start college."

But then I started to ask myself why? Why am I doing this to myself? It's not like college is a big deal for me. While I might like to be a teacher, my main passion is writing, and I'm already working toward that goal.  Honestly, I don't even know if I want to go to college. The very idea scares the heck outta me.

So why was I pushing myself so hard? Why was I stressing, turning it into such a big deal?

I thought about it for a while and I found that, among other things, it was mostly a shallow, vanity issue. 

When I was younger I was really shy still am if I'm telling the truth, so it wasn't like I was friendless, but I wasn't exactly the life of the party either. I can't act or sing particularly well, and unless Marathon Reading is a sport, I'm not going anywhere in that direction either. I've never really thought there was anything great about me, except that I'm a nerd. That I've always been pretty good at school, pulling out A's in some subjects without even trying. And when I did have to try, I tried hard, pushing myself to the very limit to get that A.

Obviously none of that is a bad thing in and of itself. But I started to wonder why I was doing it. Why did I care so much? Why did it matter that I started high school at 11? Why'd it matter if I graduated from high school before my peers? Why did I lose my mind those times I got a B or Heaven help me – a C?

Because that was what I was letting define me. I was Alexa the Nerd. Alexa the Smart One. I could make the grade without batting an eyelash, even though kids 2, 3 years older than me could barely make a B or C.

And I felt good about that.

Again not a bad thing. Unless I'm letting that define who I am.

My identity is not in the fact that I started high school at 11. It's not in the fact that, had I stayed on track, I could've graduated at 15. It's not in a high GPA or a mostly-A's record.

My identity is in Jesus Christ. Because no matter what my grades are, no matter what I do or what happens to me, He loves me just the same. He is my Lord, my Savior, my God, and my King, and His love is what will get me through it all.

So yes, I am Alexa the Nerd. And yes, I am Alexa the Smart One. But more than that, even when I am the Dumb One (which happens often, believe me), I'm still Alexa, Daughter of the King, and that is the number one, best, most important thing that I can be.

Hello again! Wow, three posts in one week. That’s gotta be a record. Well, for me anyway. Today, I’m doing a couple of book reviews. Las...

Hello again! Wow, three posts in one week. That’s gotta be a record. Well, for me anyway.

Today, I’m doing a couple of book reviews. Last time, I joked about books being “other dimensions,” but in the first book I’m reviewing, the characters actually did do some dimension-hopping.

Im talking bout, From the Mouth of Elijah by Bryan Davis.

I’d have a description here, but I’m scared of giving away too many spoilers, since this is actually the second book in the Children of the Bard series, which is the sequel to the Dragons in Our Midst series and the Oracles of Fire series. Still, here's my spoiler-free review.
My review: 5 out of 5 stars. Like all the ones that came before, this book was amazing, action-packed, and edge-of-your-seat awesome. Mr. Davis did a brilliant job depicting the characters and their struggles, though, to be honest, I felt it was just slightly less exciting than some of the others earlier in the series.

Still, I really enjoyed it, and Lauren and Matt have been pretty amazing additions to the series. One of my favorite things about this book is how Mr. Davis brought back almost everybody from the first two series, told all of their stories together, and did it in such a way that it wasn’t confusing in the least. That’s some feat of writing, let me tell you!

Anyway, great book, and highly recommended for anyone who loves fantasy, particularly if you’re a Christian, as these are told from a Christian point of view. But first, you must read the other two series and book one from Children of the Bard, Song of the Ovulum. Trust me, you’ll thank me.

Book two for review is Armageddon Summer by Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville.
Summary: Armageddon Summer is about two teenagers, Jed and Marina, whose parents both believe the world will be ending on June 27, 2000 -- which also happens to be Marina's birthday. Their parents, Jed's dad and Marina's mom, are members of the “Believers,” a Christianity-based cult led by Reverend Beelson, who intend to spend the weeks before Armageddon on top of a mountain, awaiting the end of the world.

But Jed doesn't believe, and Marina can't decide whether or not she does. So, together, they wade through their belief and unbelief, learning about life, love, and loss as they and their families await the end of the world.

My review: 5 out of 5 stars. Technically, there were no “other dimensions,” though Mount Weeupcut certainly felt like one.

Armageddon Summer was riveting, wonderful, and beautifully written. The really cool part is that this book really makes you think. About God, about life, about how crazy people can be sometimes.

Plus, the characters were great. Marina, especially, because I could really related to her personality.

The only problem I did have with this book was, as a Christian, I do believe in the Millennium and in Jesus' return. Then again, I also know there are many cults out there who twist the word of God into something that is isn't, something that will only hurt people rather than save them -- just as Reverend Beelson and the Believers did in this book. I’m just glad that when Jesus actually does come back, it won’t be anything like that.

All-in-all, it was a very good book, and I enjoyed reading it.

Well, that's all for this week! Do any of these books interest you or do you have some other books youd like to recommend to me?

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