Christian Living, Guest Posts & Collabs, Specials

A Father’s Day Collab (With Anna & Joelle)

Hello-hello! Happy Father’s Day! Well, actually, I doubt many fathers are reading this, so, um, children, do something nice for your dad today. (:

Last month I decided to do my Mother’s Day post solo; today, Father’s Day, I have the honor of writing with Anna and Joelle! This blog collaboration is different from my last collab, where we posted each other’s pieces as well as our own.

For this, we three will each publish our posts individually, and link to each other’s blogs. Find Joelle’s post here, and Anna’s here!

We have each decided to pick a song, and write a note to/about our fathers based on it.

The Song

I chose Not All Heroes Wear Capes by Owl City. (Spotify link: here.) Not All Heroes Wear Capes by Owl City (of Adam Young) has been a classic for Father’s Day in my family for years. My family’s been a big fan of Owl City for most of my life. It’s only fitting, I think, that this song takes the stage now.

Adam Young is a master at making songs that sound and feel reminiscent, soft, and bittersweet, and that especially plays true in Not All Heroes Wear Capes. The song is explicitly about his dad, who, as Adam sings, is his hero.

Before you continue, listen to the song.

Verse 3: My dad isn’t a mechanic, but in the yard with treehouses and stone paths, with our house full of home-made beds, desks, shelves. . . “he can [build] just about anything.”

Verse 2: He’s a pastor, and thus not quite “a man of few words,” but he uses them incredibly. I’ve always had mixed thoughts about his career, and what that means for us Amadors. It has its benefits and trials, but I have this final conclusion. . . I’m so glad to have a dad after God’s own heart.

The Chorus: I mentioned above that “he built [his kids] a house in the arms of a tree,” a treehouse. He’s always done so much for us, and you can see just a sample of that by looking at our full backyard. Really, just look at his playlists! From what I know, he loves U2 (and Coldplay?) best, but his Apple Music is full of songs he added just because he knew we loved them, or we asked. Rap, hip-hop, country, Contemporary Christian, pop, rock, instrumental, you name it.

He’s not perfect, but I see my dad try hard to invest in all his eight kids’ lives and dreams. If you’re wondering—yeah, that definitely means he’s often encouraging me in my writing.

“He[’s teaching] me how to drive, fight, and dream.” I mentioned dreams above. As for fighting, literally speaking: all throughout my childhood, we kids (my brothers and I, often our sisters too) spent time wrestling throughout the upstairs bedrooms. I’ll always treasure those memories.

Figuratively, he’s been teaching me to fight through life. Fight through the difficulties, do hard things. I’d be much more of a coward without him firmly pushing me forward.

He’s taken me out to learn to drive only a few times, but we do plan on going out more often.

“When he looks in my eyes, I hope he can see that / my dad’s a hero to me.” Funny thing, the looking-in-eyes, thing. I can be shy, and I’m short, so often I would not look into adults’ eyes when talking to them. He’d always instruct me to look directly into their eyes; I’ve been practicing, and I’m much better at eye contact now, onstage and one-on-one. *nods*

My dad and I don’t have a perfect relationship. We disagree, get frustrated, and I often struggle to communicate certain things with him. But, papá, you are an inspiration, and I know that I’m so blessed to have a dad like you. Thanks for all you do, and happy Father’s Day! 😄

With God’s help,

Daniel Amador

Relevant Updates, Writing Advice

I Finally Finished Beyond the Wolf

Friends, it’s been almost two years. Imagine me there, a little 13-year-old in early July 2020, having only just decided to pursue writing seriously in April, and joining the Young Writer’s Workshop only about a month after that. I was quickly scribbling down a new WIP (work-in-progress) idea in my journal, not wanting to forget it.

I liked it and was planning to outline the project to write it out during National Novel Writing Month, November. I first titled it, A Wolf’s Call. (I love how that title had no real involvement with anything. 😏) Some plan. I gave in to pantsing and ditched outlining after four chapters.

I first planned it to be 60,000 words, then dropped it down to 50K. The words just didn’t stop, and my end word count goal kept growing. 60K, 65, 70, 75, 80. . . now, the final tally is 100,901 words. O-0 I finished it Saturday, the 4th.

Isn’t it epic?! If I remember correctly, the friend who made this stand-in cover for me also suggested the name of this book. If you are here reading this, thank you!! I am indebted. (:

I did not expect it to reach that at all! Beyond the Wolf—the new and current name of this project—is my first WIP full 1st draft. I’ve learned SO MUCH from writing it. It sometimes takes grinding out a lot of trash before you learn what gold actually looks like. (; If that makes any sense.

Some of what I’ve learned. . .

How outlining saved me from further insanity.

You know now that I pantsed basically the whole book. Only near the end did I scribble a general outline—on the map I made for Beyond the Wolf (BtW). It was basic, but it was enough. I finished it after all, didn’t I?

That’s not all, however. There were two more novella projects I began in the long BtW process. The first I called Finding Home. The second, which I mentioned in January, was called Heirs of Guinn. Both were meant to be pretty short.

For Finding Home, I wrote a fairly efficient outline, from beginning to end. When I got about 3K words in the actual first draft, however, I noticed that FH wasn’t working. I dwelled on the ending a bit, then decided it wasn’t worth my time, writing FH.

I was SO excited for Heirs of Guinn (HoG). I got pretty far in the outline for HoG. I focused a lot on planning out character development but then noticed that there was no meat to it. HoG was a really shallow concept, and the ending I started planning just didn’t work. I quit that one too.

I have no regrets on stopping both these novellas. They were shallow and boring, I now see. Outlining those both saved me so much sanity! I would have wasted plenty of time with little reward.

Why did I continue Beyond the Wolf, then?

BECAUSE. If I quit BtW after putting SO MUCH work into it, my mental health would go down the drain. And now? I feel so accomplished after finishing this! And I’ve learned a lot.

In case you didn’t know, I don’t plan on continuing any further with BtW. It is really, really bad. It lacks quality in its entirety. But now I know what trash really is, right? I have no regrets.

3 tips for you that BtW taught me.

1. Never have too many main characters, or characters in general! I had over 20 main characters, and it exhausted me. Most shifted from side characters to main ones. There were so many of them that they all ended up having zero real development (except for one little dude, Bolt; I’m a bit proud of his character arc).

Keep your characters at a minimum. Too many characters confuses both you and your reader. What no author wants is for the reader to give up reading—and because there are too many characters, of all things!

2. Concept matters! Concept is the whole idea of your book; the plot put in a few sentences.

The concept for BtW is not great: “a bunch of rebel wolves are attacked by armies of the emperor wolf. They band together and travel to take down the ‘big bad wolf’ emperor. They gain allies in moose, coyotes, and more along the way.”

It sounds so silly. So work on your concept! You’ll need it for yourself, and when friends ask what your book’s about. 😀

3. Themes are vital!! Halfway through BtW, I tried adding them in when I learned about them. It doesn’t work like that. You need your themes to resonate throughout it all.

They are the virtues or skills that you dissect throughout the story and what your characters are challenged to grow in. Forgiveness, self-control, caring, contentment, peace. . . whatever it is, they are super important!

So, what’s next for me?

I’m definitely not going to work anymore on anything involving BtW. But I’ve been plotting in my head a new writing project, and I’m really excited to start writing it down! Balancing out my perfectionism and impulsion by making a full but simple outline, and allowing myself to write down important scenes that pop into my head.

I’m also going to keep blogging consistently throughout the summer. Honestly, I will be very busy with writing, math, science, and other summer activities and events.

Right now, though, I’m just so relieved that I’m done with Beyond the Wolf. 😅 It’s been a long journey, and I’m thankful to the Maker for carrying me through it all.

Just trying something new. . . hehe.
Christian Living, Specials

When the Day of Roses & Hugs for Mothers Ends, Don’t Forget

Here’s a regular conversation:

“Hey, Simon! How’s life? How did that History presentation go?” asked Lily.

“Wassup! Life’s alright. The History thing was better than I thought, but now I have a big Math test coming up. How’ve you been?”

“Oof, Math sucks. Hope it goes well. I’ve been pretty great, actually! My cousins flew in the day before yesterday, so hanging out with them has been fun. What about- oh, are those new shoes? They look great!” exclaimed Lily.

“Thanks! Yeah, my mom saw that my old shoes were kinda beat up, so she bought these ones. I really like them. They’re my favorite color, too.” said Simon.

“Yeah, they’re nice. So, how’s. . . .”


Hope that was entertaining. 😎 Just kidding, that wasn’t the point of this (I promise to get to the point—later). A little over a week ago was Mother’s Day. (Actually, it was supposed to be a week ago, but with finals and everything, I wasn’t able to work on this or publish it last Sunday as planned. Hence, a random Wednesday. In June. Hehe, sorry.)

Honestly, I didn’t do as much as I could’ve and should’ve to honor my mom. For some reason, it was kind of weird. Usually, I do more. This is a shift that many teens go through.

We sometimes use the excuse that our creativity is burnt, and so we just don’t write any cards or organize anything special. And while in some cases burnt imagination does happen, it can also be us teenagers thinking, “I’m too old for little kid cards and pretend spas.” After years of making Valentine’s Day cards for my four older sisters, I’ve learned to just go with the grind. . . even if I get hand cramps.

And I know, sometimes there are things you do when you’re a kid. But even you can be creative. I’m sure of this. The Author of Everything knows this. Simply searching, “things a teenager can do for mother’s day,” Google gave me dozens of options and ideas.

Mother’s Day, however, has already passed. So why would I post this a good deal after Mother’s Day?

We as humans tend to forget the past: one of the main reasons history seems to repeat itself. It’s the same with Mother’s Day. On that day, we remember the love, patience, and selflessness our dear mothers display, and the day after we snap at them for accidentally calling us our dog’s name instead of ours. Why is this?

The answer: life goes on, and we go with it. One day we’re stressing horribly over school, and the next year we completely forget how miserable it was. It’s the same with Mother’s Day.

Now let me answer the question I ignored above: Why would I intend to post this a week after Mother’s Day? As a reminder to not forget to love, honor, and respect our moms.

I can say that, and you can agree, but that doesn’t take us very far, does it? So let me stress one fault that keeps many from seeing how they mistreat their mothers: it is mental blindness. Not being able to hear one’s own tone, see one’s own actions, and maybe even understand the argument of another. Mental blindness is also a form of pride, and pride is powerful.

I’m guilty of this. You may be too. But since we are too blind to see it, how can we fix it?? The answer is simple, but a little difficult.

Suck up your pride, put on some humility, and ask trusted ones. Now, now, before you start exclaiming, “I don’t have the courage to ask my parents that!” That’s not the end of my point. If you don’t have a whole lot of courage yet or struggle with pride, start with friends or mentors—trusted, respectful, hopefully faith-filled friends, especially those who are strong with introspection. The older, the better.

Ask them, “Am I mentally blind? Do I tend to have big faults that I don’t notice? What are they?” And then begin a conversation about this.

From there, either move to siblings or parents (depending on who you’re more comfortable with).

Now here, I got stumped—for several days. “What advice should I provide? What other thoughts should I share?” In all transparency, I didn’t feel qualified to write this. That’s the dilemma I’ve faced with several posts on Christianity, too. Because I’m not even close to perfection in being a Christian and a son, and that’s brought about Writer’s Block.

Wow, that spiel did help. Let’s keep going. I’ll refer back to the conversation at the top. It was a small act of kindness from Simon’s mother. I wanted it to be as random as possible, just to represent day-to-day mother’s intuition.

Now, we don’t know much else about Simon’s mother. I know she’s not perfect. She could be one of those mothers who leaves you thinking, “Wow, he does not deserve a mom like that,” or maybe Simon and she don’t agree or get along. Maybe she’s treated him poorly; maybe she’s neglected him.

However, she’s his mother, and that’s something significant. She did much more than buy him shoes. She gave birth to him, nursed him, and raised him. That is still more than any guy I know could comprehend.

Some mothers are wonderful; some try; some are. . . difficult; some almost completely leave you alone when you become independent—but I haven’t met many of the latter. Whether she deserves it or not (and I’m sure she deserves it), love your mother, and show it.


Now, I’m not saying to walk up to your mother and shout, “Happy belated Mother’s Day!” That’s not what I’m trying to communicate here. It’s a day-by-day thing, and not easy for our imperfect human brains, but do your best to acknowledge her. Reveal your love through quality time, gifts, words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, etc.

Start with what you do best, and go from there.

(I hope you enjoyed this and know I love you, Mamá. 🙃)

Farewell, and have a good day! I love how this post is several days closer to Father’s Day than Mother’s Day. Guys, life is radical. ‘Least I’m done with “official” school.

With God’s help,

~Daniel Amador

Specials

New Year—New Expectations, Part 2: My 2022 Plans

Happy New Year, Everyone!

The number sequence 2-0-2-2 has crept its way into calendars, clocks, minds, blog posts, and more. The future has become the present, and we were swept up in it. On December 31st, in part 1 of this 2-part series, I talked about how to fulfill your resolutions. Today I’m going to share with you some of my plans and goals for this year. Even though these aren’t technically resolutions, I’m still going to try to practice what I ‘preached’ about a few days ago.

Even though I know not everything turns out the way I want it, I have several expectations, hopes, and goals for this year, and today I will share several. By the way, some of these concern you, my reader, particularly concerning the future of this blog! As well as upcoming writing-related opportunities and sneak-peaks.

In 2022, I want to. . .

Writing.

  • Participate in Crazy Writing Week, 2022—January 4-11. Crazy Writing Week, or CWW, is an online event where hundreds of writers gather to write like crazy! It is totally free. Two teams compete against each other to write the most words and/or spend the most time on some writing-related activity. It’s a great motivation booster!  (And if you want to participate but not compete, you can join the neutral team. 😉) It used to be three times a year, but now it’s just one time. So this is your only chance for the whole year! Though it starts on the 4th, CWW opens up on the 3rd—TODAY—for people to get acquainted with the community, get hyped up, etc. I’ll be there, and I hope you will too! 😀
  • Finish up the first draft of Beyond the Wolf. I’m so close to finishing the first draft of my book Beyond the Wolf (BtW)! I hope to complete it before January 15—halfway through the month; though, of course, it could end up being 80,000 words or something instead of my goal of 70K. 😑 My goodness, I’ll be so relieved once I’m done with that draft! I’ve been working at it hard for so long. 😅
  • Begin (and then finish) Heirs of Guinn. In preparation for the next writing project after BtW, I’ve started outlining a novella project temporarily called Heirs of Guinn (HoG—man, me and my funny Work-in-Progress acronyms)! I’m much more confident in the plot and characters of this story than I was and am of BtW, so in the future I may perhaps write some HoG sneak peaks—what it’s about, snippets, character interviews, topics like that. I’m excited and I hope you are too!
  • Participate in Camp NaNoWriMo. Camp NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month—is the more laidback version of the actual NaNoWriMo in November. From what I understand, it’s in July and instead of writing a minimum of 50K words in a month, it’s whatever you want it to be. Most commonly, 20K words. It’d be my first time participating.

Blogging.

  • Reach 100 subscribers (and 150+ by the end of the year). Guys, the RKW is literally so close to 100 subscribers!!! As of now, when I’m writing this, this blog only needs 3 more followers to reach 100. I’m definitely elated about this news! Now I’m trying to decide what to do to celebrate. As a subscriber of mine, feel free to share some ideas of what you want me to organize/do! 😄
  • Write more book reviews. I was given several books for Christmas, and I’m excited to jump back in and start reading more again, as well as do a few book reviews! As I begin publishing reviews, you may notice that most of them will vary in quality and style, as I continue to polish and refine my book-reviewing skills (if I had any to start with). 😎 So if I start getting more ‘picky’ compared to older reviews, it’s because I’m learning to get better at seeing more pros and cons of a book. Future book review possibilities include, but are not limited to: Dehali, Tartarus Chronicles book #2 by Keith A. Robinson (find review of #1 here), The Bruised Dream by Alabama Rose, Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger, and *waves hand around* Some Wayne Thomas Batson book (I’m undecided as to which series to read next).
  • Make more posts based on Christian and Biblical morals and beliefs. I have so many drafts in this area of my posts, and I’m finding it hard to stick to one topic for a post and write about that. I have lots of ideas and everything going through my head, and it’s difficult to put them to the paper efficiently, concisely, and truthfully. But I’ll try. 🙂

Reading.

  • Read More. I’ll try to read some of the books listed earlier, as well as others. Reading is fundamental to writing, so what kind of writer would I be if I didn’t read more often?

Faith.

  • Lead a child to Christ. What do I mean by this? Every summer I participate in a training called Christian Youth in Action, or CYIA. It’s an 11 day intense training where youth learn to teach the gospel effectively to children through 5 day clubs. Now, you can learn more about this when I write about it in the summer so I won’t explain anymore. But many of my fellow youth have led children to believe Christ. I’ve never done that. Now, this is something out of my control and I suppose what’s most important for me is to try to reach these kids and what’s most important overall is for them to come to Christ, no matter who leads them.
  • Read the Bible every day. I could have done much better with this in 2021. I hardly read (chronologically) on the weekends, and I’ve missed several days several times. My bible is very, very thick—the thickest book I have—, and with my lack of consistency in other years, I’ve been chronologically reading this holy beautiful book for multiple years. I can’t remember exactly when I started, but it was a while ago. I’ve picked up how much I read every day, and I just finished Ephesians.
  • ‘Pray without ceasing.’ This is tough for me to pray so often. Many times I’ve forgotten to pray when I finished a passage in my Bible. I do need to pray more. And not just about things I want and need, but to thank and praise Jesus. He definitely deserves more than all the praise I can possibly give Him.

Regular Life.

  • Begin learning how to drive. I turn 16 this year, so requesting my dad begin to teach me as well as organize the lessons will be something I need to get myself to do.
  • Begin learning an instrument. My dad wants me to start learning guitar, but taking the initiative to have my mom or someone else teach me and then actually practicing is something that’ll take motivation accountability. I do also want to try out drumming/using a cajón. I know if I try I can do it but it really is hard for me to start up something new and keep it going.

And those are most of my plans, goals, and hopes for this new year, 2022.

What are some of your goals and plans for 2022? Are you excited for this new year? Scared? Nervous? I’d love to hear your thoughts too! 🙂

With God’s help,

Daniel Amador

Christian Living, Guest Posts & Collabs, Specials

Thankful for the Little Things: a Blog Collab

Good morning, fellow humans! So, today’s Thanksgiving, eh? Doesn’t that mean that Christmas season is almost here?? Doesn’t that mean that 2022 is nearly here??? Hold up, what?!

*pauses* Oh, well, back to the topic, Thanksgiving! Politics, history, food, football; what really is it for our culture? *shakes head* Let’s just go to the basics: giving thanks.

Last year, if you remember, I attempted to think of ten things I was grateful for in the shortest time I could. It took me 32 seconds. Now, to express gratitude to the One who gave us everything we have this year, I’m doing a blog collab! I’ve never done one before, and don’t even know how to do it, but I tried. I’m collaborating with blogger Moriah Armstrong, from The Quill!

Wanna say hi, Moriah?

Hey there! I’m so excited to be able to do this collab with Daniel! It’s a first for me, and something I hope to be able to do again in the future. Happy Thanksgiving, by the way! 🙂

We are collectively sharing 50 things we are grateful for, of which we don’t often express our gratitude. She’ll share first, then me.

Alright, Moriah, go ahead!

Okay! Here are 25 things I am very, very grateful to have in my life:

  1. My home.
  2. Air conditioning.
  3. Food
  4. Alllll my little fur babies
  5. My friends
  6. My family
  7. Being homeschooled
  8. Clean Water
  9. Being quick to learn
  10. Writing
  11. The internet
  12. Books
  13. God
  14. Good health
  15. Access to medical care
  16. Nature
  17. My height (I can reach EVERYTHING!!!)
  18. Life
  19. Apple pie (it’s really, really good)
  20. Candles (especially the ones that smell nice…XD)
  21. Love ❤
  22. Sweaters
  23. My bicycle
  24. Chocolateeee. Yum.
  25. Clouds

*nods* Good things to be grateful for!

Now, my turn. Thank you, thanks, thanks so much, God, for. . .

  1. Pencils
  2. My beanie
  3. Comfortable weather (we don’t have any currently, but just the idea is comfortable)
  4. The livelihood of Chicago during the Christmas season (it’s coming, people! 0-o)
  5. The beauty of a candle flame, then of the smoke as it dances away until it fades.
  6. Those people that genuinely respect everyone else as equals (I know a few people like that but I’ll keep them anonymous)
  7. The times when it’s all crashing down around me and You, Jesus, are like “just hold on and I won’t let you fall away with it all”
  8. That this is my 50th post ever
  9. Sounds and smells that remind you of the happy parts of your childhood, and even make you shed a tear
  10. The fact that I have never broken a bone, gotten sicker than a mildly severe cold (surprisingly COVID had almost no effect on me), or had to visit the hospital for any other reason than check ups and visiting others—i.e., that You’ve kept me safe
  11. That You, God, have given me the strength to not. Give. Up. On writing, school, and life in general
  12. The movies classic to our family: Cheaper by the Dozen, tLotR, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, etc
  13. The many hours of hard work artists put into their music to make it amazing.
  14. Peanut butter (it’s legitimately really good)
  15. My planner
  16. Strong winds in autumn days
  17. Cool, delicious water after a long, hot run
  18. Book shelves
  19. Nylon stickers (they’re so much better than regular stickers)
  20. Always green evergreens
  21. Google Earth
  22. My shoes
  23. My grass (I have a little pot of grass in my room)
  24. Cheesecake
  25. Happy family times

And those are our collective fifty. I know we could do so much more, but that would make this post incredibly long.

As a final note, every time you do something, just think, “what can I be grateful for here?” Always remember to be thankful for even the little things. 🙂

Thank you, Moriah, for doing this with me! Be sure to check out her blog, and her version of our collab! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

With God’s help,

Daniel Amador