Relevant Updates, Writing, Young Adult Life

How the Ydubs Conference Went

They announced the ‘22 Conference sometime around Christmas, and I knew I wanted to go. I talked with my parents and signed up that February.

Greetings! I hope you’ve been enjoying August! I have.

In fact, At the beginning of the month, God blessed me with the opportunity to go somewhere amazing—the 2022 YDubs Conference! Their first was in 2019, and then the Corona Virus kept them from hosting any later in-person ones, but I can’t remember if they had one virtual conference, and for which year, or two.

They announced the ‘22 Conference sometime around Christmas, and I knew I wanted to go. I talked with my parents and signed up that February.

Really, this is one of those many blessings I don’t deserve but get anyway. Today I’m going to share with you some daily progressions, highlights, and thoughts.

The Speakers

We had six amazing speakers (and a Q&A with another), three of which were published, but all were definitely qualified. The five in order:

Chuck Black, author of nationally popular series such as the Kingdom Series and the Wars of the Realm Trilogy. He was supposed to be there in person, but I guess things didn’t work out, and he spoke virtually. He spoke about worldbuilding.

Juliet Artman, member of the Author Conservatory. She spoke on loving your writing journey (?).

Kellyn Roth, member of the Author Conservatory and author of the Chronicles of Alice and Ivy, among others. She spoke on outlining (?).

Jenna Terese, author of Ignite! She shared thoughts on different aspects of writing, mostly trusting God, through sharing her writing testimony/journey.

Josiah DeGraaf, one of our very own Ydubs Instructors!! He spoke on story structure.

The Author Conservatory hosted a virtual Q&A with Christopher Paolini, author of the internationally bestselling book Eragon! Brett Harris was leading it and we got the chance to see the whole thing!

Charis Rae, member of the Author Conservatory, gave a convicting speech on writing habits.

Mr. Josiah spoke again, this time about fitting writing into your school schedule—or rather, fitting your school schedule around your writing. 😛

Day-to-Day Progressions

Pre-Conference Day. Earlier in the day when my dad and I began toward Tennessee, I had run my second half-marathon ever and he had preached, so we were both tired and got a late start.

Thankfully, the couple that hosted us that night was very generous and waited until around 12:30 am—when we arrived.

Day One. We started sometime during 9 am, I think. We ended up arriving just a few minutes before 3 pm, when the conference was to start (or at least, when sign-up was opened). Most people were there already, because of the short parental meeting, but that was alright.

I met some awesome friends from Ydubs! That was cool. We had a brainstorming session, which went kinda well, then Chuck Black spoke.

I wandered a lot with my dad, going down a stream path, which was fun.

Most of the evening was me wandering around by myself—I enjoyed that, though, and got to know the site a little better.

Day Two.

Ms. Artman and Ms. Roth spoke that day! It was a full day, and I spent a lot of my free time talking and hanging around in “awkward groups,” as we called ourselves.

I purchased some soup that the emcee and Ydubs Instructor Ms. Marita Wilson and others prepared, and had some fun, awkward conversations with friends!

The day concluded with Ceili dancing (an Irish dance Ms. Marita taught), which was better than I thought! I don’t like dancing, but it was alright. Despite me stepping on quite a few heels, I had some fun.

This was probably my favorite day!

Day Three. Mr. Josiah, Ms. Terese, Ms. Rae, and Christopher Paolini (via a Q&A) all spoke that day. *taps temple* I learned some really good stuff from them.

We also had a critique group session, and I got to give and receive thoughtful feedback. That helped a lot to get me out of my WIP’s writer’s block.

Day Four. *shakes head* Alas, all good times come to an end, and this was true of the conference as well. Mr. Josiah gave a wonderfully practical lesson, then we took a group picture, and most people went to eat lunch (that Ms. Marita prepared) in the cafeteria.

The “goodbyes” were a little awkward for me, but eventually, my dad and I were on the road again.


Now, I had a great time and learned indispensable lessons, but you may (or may not *shrugs*) be thinking, “is it worth the hassle of paying, getting there, and all that?” Er, well, I didn’t actually do any of the driving or paying (maybe next year?? Permit and job, here I come), but I believe a conference is invaluable for a serious writer!

Why Attend a Conference?

A couple years ago, my comfort zone was so much smaller. For the past year +, I’ve been trying hard to grow my horizon. Some ways of growth have been socializing more with adults and strangers (not in a creepy way), teaching kids the Gospel throughout the summer, speaking at church, speaking more boldly about my authorship plans, and taking a Speech Class.

Engaging with people in person and public speaking are super helpful skills for authors. Many writers (a whole lot of us are introverts) like to stay in our comfortable corners while we write our wild fantasies, engage on a blog with readers worldwide, and publish our writing whenever we get the chance.

But we can’t hide forever. Sure, the online world is big, but you’ll end up one lonely fellow, because you can’t (or, rather, shouldn’t) have your phone on you every time you step out of your door.

I know writers who are hardcore introverts. However, one of those writers in particular left their comfort corner and met new people for book signing events and other gatherings. This friend says that, though the experiences were extremely mentally draining and stirred up anxiety, they were worth it.

With conferences, you not only meet in person like-minded writer friends who you previously knew only by their online avatar, but you can meet published authors, hear inspiring lectures, and practice social skills.


The Ydubs Conference 2022 was amazing; I would share photos, but I don’t actually have any. 😛 I’m so thankful for the organizers and speakers who put in all that work! I can’t wait for next year.

Randoms, Young Adult Life

Quantity vs. Quality: a Question of Ethics

Hello, I hope you’re all having a wonderful Wednesday! Today I want to talk about quantity versus quality. Have you heard the debate before? It’s a big question—even if it’s not incredibly vital—and I’d love to explore it with you today! Oh, sorry, what was that? What do those two q-words mean, you inquire? And why do they matter at all? I’m glad you asked! 😉

What Do “Quantity (Qty)” and “Quality (Qlty)” Mean?

Quantity concerns the number and/or magnitude of a product, service, or other.

Synonyms: amount; total. Used in a sentence: He was shocked by the great quantity of sand on the seashore.

Quality concerns the state of a product, service, or other. If you purchase a brand-new shirt, but it comes with holes and stains, the quality is really low. If the fabric is perfect, it looks just right, and it’s durable, the quality is really high.

Synonyms: state; standard. Used in a sentence: She slammed the door of her car as she turned the ignition. Feeling like she was going to throw up, she pressed down on the pedal hard. That restaurant served the poorest quality sub-sandwiches ever.

What’s the Difference Between the Two?

The biggest comparison I can think of between quantity versus quality is McDonald’s versus Culver’s (you had to bring up the restaurant rivalry, didn’t you, Danny-boy?). Side Note: Another very similar comparison is KFC vs. Chick-Fil-A.

McDonald’s is HUGE. There are around 35,000 McDonald’s sites worldwide, in over 100 countries. Culver’s, however, has roughly only 800 sites, all of them in the US, and most in the Midwest.

Everyday, McDonald’s has to make thousands upon thousands of burgers—that is mass production, right there. Culver’s daily demand is much less. Culver’s can spend more on making their burgers more tasty and healthy, while McDonald’s is just grinding out as much as it can for mass appeal.

Culver’s products taste so much better than McDonald’s ones, in my opinion.  Culver’s triumphs in quality. McDonald’s is the sure winner of quantity, feeding thousands of people every day, all day. Shoot, even Culver’s website and buildings look much nicer! (Honestly, I’m much more of a Chick-Fil-A fan myself. My stomach can’t even handle McDonald’s. 😅)

Make sense?

Funny thing, McDonald’s basically started out as your local burger place. Their food probably tasted better then than they do now, since they could focus harder on smaller amounts.

A more abstract definition of qty vs. qlty is the stars vs. the moon. Sure, plenty of stars are actually bigger and brighter than the moon, but I’m talking about the perspective here on Earth. The moon appears much brighter and bigger than every star in the sky.

On a clear, country night, however, all the stars together are roughly the size of the moon. [Disclaimer: that was an assumption. I live in Chicago where planes outnumber the few stars visible, so I don’t know much about the real night sky. 😛] There is a great quantity of stars, but the shine of the moon provides much more useful light (greater quality).

Pros and Cons of Qty and Qlty

Pros of Quantity:

  • Lots of products for lots of people.
  • A single product is made (therefore available) very quickly.
  • A single product is cheap to make and buy—especially when bought in bulk.

Cons of Quantity:

  • Being made so hastily, a product might easily not last long or be very effective.

Pros of Quality:

  • A single product does what it’s meant to do efficiently.

Cons of Quality:

  • A product costs quite a bit.
  • A product is not as quickly made or available.
  • There are often not enough products for every person.

Now, this makes it seem like quantity is the better option. Yet really, I think the con of qty and the pro of qlty are significant enough to match up with their reverses. Plus, it’s 10 pm and my brain can’t come up with anything better. 😆 If yours can, please, let me know in a comment!

Why Do They Even Matter?

It’s in the every-day decision. When you’re driving through town, choosing between the expensive but tasty and healthy restaurant or the quick, cheap one. When you have a cut, and have to choose between a few less sustainable band-aids or the last one of the durable bandages.

For readers, it’s the decision between that single, really great book or the lasting, decent series. For authors, though it’s not their choice: would they rather have written several fairly popular books or that one ground-breaking, globally popular novel?

The clothes you have could be made via unjust means, but the fair-trade attire may be too expensive for you. It’s not a life or death thing, I don’t think. But it still matters. It’s just another one of those questions of ethics that define how our daily lives look like.

Which will you choose?


Thanks so much for reading this very random post! Consider it my non-fiction pleasure writing of the month. 😁 Hope it was thought-provoking!

What do you think of this little graphic of mine?
Christian Living

Why Fasting is Better Than You Think

If you saw the title of this post and rolled your eyes or had feelings of annoyance, this post will be good for you, and is for you! If not, you should still probably read it anyway.

Yesterday, our church finished our 21 days of prayer and fasting—every year for many years our church has done 21 days of prayer and fasting in the month of January. I joined in with them, and even though it could have always been better—as in I could have always tried harder to pray more and resist more, it was good for me, both in spirit and bodily health.

Today I want to share with you why fasting is so important, why you should consider it, and I’ll also clear up some misconceptions.

For starters, this is what fasting is: Wordly sacrifices for spiritual benefits.

That takes me to…

Why You Are Fasting

Truly, everything in this post points back to this: why you are fasting. People in the Bible fasted for different reasons. Nehemiah fasted out of sadness (Nehemiah 1:4). Moses fasted for Words from the Lord: wisdom and commandments (Exodus 34:28). Jesus fasted before he took on a big project: his ministry to save humankind (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:13, Luke 4:1-13).

You can fast for all sorts of reasons—mourning, confessing sins, seeking wisdom, preparing for something big.

The whole idea of fasting is to focus less on (even temporarily turn away from) worldly distractions and focus more on God and prayer; to have a time of spiritual healing, restoration, and/or strengthening. I’ll say it again: worldly sacrifices for spiritual benefits.

The above 112 words form—in reality—the main point. Now, I’d like to talk briefly on 4 other factors that are important and need to be addressed. I know I tend to rant, but I will try to keep it concise, every sentence I write having a purpose.

1. What To Fast From

Biblical fasting was most commonly from food, often even food and water. However, there are other unnecessary nonessential distracting activities, as well as worldly items that take your attention, that could be fasted from. Food is important, but of course there are circumstances where it’s not the best thing to fast from.

Activities: Preparation of a meal, video games, social media, TV, listening to secular music, I could go on. The last four listed are not necessary. You could spend your ‘social media time’ reading God’s Word. You could listen to Christian music instead of secular music.

As for the first listed, your body needs water and food to keep on functioning. You could have easy-to-make meals so that you can pray while you prepare. Before you fast I suggest writing down a list of healthy, easy meals, then go out and get ingredients for them.

Items: Chocolate. You don’t need it. Your phone. You don’t need it (well, maybe you do but there are things you use it for that you don’t have to). Coffee. You don’t need it. Have I made my point clear yet?

Sacrifice. If you utter one single prayer to God, something like, “fix all my problems please,” I bet you He won’t do it. Anyone can say that. But not everyone has the strength to sacrifice in order to have ‘all their problems fixed.’ If you really do believe in God and love Him, you have more than likely sacrificed. You spend your Sunday morning with the Church; you’ve quit bad habits; all that. When you fast, you’re just sacrificing even more and I’m sure, at the end of the day, you will reap the benefits!

No sacrifice I could offer would be anywhere near what Jesus sacrificed for us when He literally died on a cross. That is in fact one of the most painful ways to die, and He did it for us, because He loves us. The least we can do in return is sacrifice some of the things we treasure on this earth.

In conclusion, focus on anything that’ll encourage you to look to Christ, and avoid anything that will point you away.

2. How Long To Fast

Now you have in mind what you will be fasting from. “Great,” you might be thinking. “I’m not going to go on social media or eat chocolate. For how long??”

Good question!

It’s really up to you and what you feel God calling you to do. It also depends on why you’re fasting. You could fast for a day, a week, even a month. (It also depends on what you’re fasting from. I’m not telling you to fast from all food for a month.)

3. Other Benefits of Fasting

Fasting is not dieting. You fast because you want to grow closer to God. But physical and/or mental health benefits do often come included!

Mental: In sacrificing, you’ll build up self-control, which is a very important virtue. If you succeed, you’ll be more confident in your abilities to resist. Then there’s social media: it can literally destroy your mental health. That’s not a lie. The more time you spend reading instead of scrolling, the cleaner your mind will be. Of course, if you slip and catch yourself giving into temptation, do not let it sink and do not quit. Apologize to God, then get back up.

Physical: Your taste buds are crying out, “we want sugar! We want sweets!” Do not listen to them! They don’t see the big picture of your whole bodily health. Unhealthy foods bring temporary pleasure, but healthy foods bring longer-term strength and health. This is really all I need to say.

4. Avoid Being the Pharisee

I’ve always been a rule-following control freak with the (God-given) mind and qualities of a leader. The title of ‘pastor’s kid’ only increased the significance of that. When I was younger, during the 21 days of fasting our church had I’d always be like the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. Focusing on the actual doing instead of the real meaning. I would subtly, sometimes even directly, ridicule my brothers and friends for not fasting from as much as I was or caving into temptation.

Don’t go there. It’s not a healthy place. Jesus called the people who were like that whitewashed tombs. That’s not a title anyone would want to be given, especially by the Son of God, King of kings.

I’m trying much harder to not be like that but to be merciful (when need be) and kind. When people see me, I want them to see someone who intentionally does things for a true and good purpose and not just to appear superior and cool.


This is all I have to say. In conclusion, please consider fasting! If you’re only a teenager and not quite an adult yet, maybe talk with your parents about a more serious fast. Actually, talk with your parents about it anyway, serious or not, adult or not! It’s something I need to do more of. Well, God bless and see you next week!

With God’s help,

Daniel Amador

Christian Living, Specials

New Year—New Expectations, Part 1: Fulfilling Resolutions

It’s upon us yet again: a new year. 2022 is just around the corner. Let me rephrase that.

2022 is in just several hours.

2021 is finally over, and 2020 is far behind us! I’m going to be honest, my post for the conclusion of 2020 was maybe a bit unfair to the poor year. It was a year full of immense discouragement, but God also blessed me in several ways. As we begin to look beyond 2021, I’m going to say it: 2021 was a tense, not-so-amazing year, but it definitely had it’s pros, and lots of it.

Now enough of that, hehe. Look, even as you read this 2022 nears us! We all know what a new year comes with. New resolutions, hopes, and expectations. The idea of expecting is the theme in this two-part series. Last year I came into 2021 with thoughts more, say, realistic than others. I believed that it was likely ‘21 would be no better than ‘20. And that worked out well for my brain. Now I’m coming into ‘22 with a similar mindset: Things could be worse than this year, things could be better, or things could stay the same; I will try to trust God fully either way. But I still have my plans for this year—which I will talk about tomorrow in part 2—and I’m sure you do too.

We all know how it is with new year resolutions, that they just never turn out. In a Phineas and Ferb episode, Dr. Doofensmirtch fired a machine that made everyone’s new year resolution the same: to obey his every command. After the clock struck 12, he shouted out an order for all of them to follow him as he walked out the door. When he noticed no one was obeying he asked why. One of them said, “well everyone knows no one ever fulfills their resolutions!” XD Funny show, that Phineas and Ferb. Anyway, it’s true that many, if not most, resolutions do not turn out. But some do. Today I want to explain to you several practices that could save your resolutions from flying off with the wind.

Meditate on Each Resolution.

Before you jump into anything, you need to remember to meditate and pray. Sometimes your emotions get stirred up and you forget to consult with your Heavenly Father. He knows best. Ask Him before you make an important decision.

Start Slowly.

If you get the ‘okay’ from God, then when you start with whatever you’re doing, start slowly. If your resolution is to spend time at the gym and you were planning to go four days a week, start with one day a week. Then once you’ve got that ‘in the bag,’ go two times a week. Then three. Finally, when you know you’re serious about this and you’re confident and strong, go four days a week. Same concept with running goals; writing goals; food goals; etc. Ease into it.

Find Accountability.

We all need accountability in some areas of our lives. For everyone who has a resolution, you need accountability. If you’re goal is to talk to an unbeliever at school about Christ once a week, no one is going to automatically notice whether you are or aren’t doing it—only Jesus, you, and the person you did, or didn’t, talk to. None of your friends or family are going to automatically know if you did it or not, So you need to personally request that someone make sure you did it. Say it’s your best friend. Tell them your goal, and to make sure you aren’t lying about doing it, make sure they are present when you are witnessing.

If it’s about things more personal, sometimes it’s weird to request a person, even a family member, to keep you accountable. But it is vital. You need an accountability partner or mentor especially if it’s something personal.

If you’re plan is to pray at least ten times a day, do you know how easy it is to lie about that? “Hey, did you remember to pray?” “Yeah.” “Nice!” Easy as that. So you need to be honest about it. And remember, God sees you. He knows if you’re praying or not. You can fool any human, but not God.

Even if God is always watching you, you still do need a physical, visible person to help you. Make sure they’re someone either ahead of the game or struggling with you. Not some passive person who hardly understands your situation at all.

You’re human, therefore imperfect.

As you jump into this new year, remember this: you are human, and therefore you. Are. Not. Perfect. You are not superhuman. You’re just not, and you never will be till you reach Heaven. You may not fully accomplish your resolution, and that’s not good, but it’s okay. Feel me? Just repent to your partner or mentor and to God, and try again.

If you keep failing. . . 1. Maybe you’re going to hard. 2. Maybe you need to be kept more accountable. 3. Maybe you shouldn’t even be doing it. If #1 & 2 have been fixed, maybe it’s #3. If so, pray about it more. Talk to a spiritual mentor about it.


Either way, throughout the highs and lows of this new year, trust in Jesus. He loves you, and not only knows what’s best for you, but wants what’s best for you. May you thrive this year, brother, sister, friend!

Talk to you next year! 😉

With God’s help,

Daniel Amador