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.

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.
Relevant Updates

November Wrap-Up & December Preparations

Hello there! Good old Obi Wan quotes.

I was hoping to have some writing advice for you today, but after some fellow writers went through editing it, I realized that it is, um, most definitely not ready for sharing. I didn’t really have any back-up advice post ready and I could never focus on one helpful topic long enough to finish it, so I thought I’d just wrap up this month with some updates! I’ve divided these updates into three sections: goals, blogging, and reading.

Goals

I had three goals that I shared with you a few weeks ago:

  1. Finish my project Beyond the Wolf (i.e. reach 60K words) by December 15 (52/60, rounded down).
  2. Publish at least 4 posts in the month of November (1/4).
  3. Run three times a week, unless the temperature is below-40° F (I’m starting with this week, because I only ran twice last week).

And here are the updates:

  1. I completed my goal of reaching 60,000 (60K) words sixteen days before the due date! [Screenshot of proof is put after the list.] Although, I didn’t actually finish the book. . . far from it, really. It’ll probably be done by 70K words. *facepalm* I’ll need to put a good chunk of time into outlining.
  2. I was able to publish five posts, one more than the said goal!
  3. I, um, *cough* didn’t do so good in this one. Only two weeks, I think, did I run three times. But I ran a 5K on Thanksgiving morning and I was aiming for 21 minutes, but I beat it by 11 seconds! So, um, yeah, that was cool.
This was through Reedsy.com.

Blogging

Like I said earlier, I have a habit of not putting enough effort into starting and finishing a post, so I have a whole bunch of unfinished blog post drafts piling up in my google docs. 😆

The plus is that I can always come back to them and if I put enough effort in, I can finish. This December I hope to provide you with at least four posts! I have a good idea of what I want for three of them, so I hope that turns out well and works out for you too. 🙂

I also just want to say I appreciate all the support you readers have given me! It really is encouraging. And can you believe that I’m almost at 100 subscribers?? 0-0 This means a lot to me.

Reading

A while ago my friend Laurel tagged me for the Bookworm Tag. I wanted to post my version earlier in November, but as I was going through answering the questions, I realized that, and this is hard for me to admit, I don’t actually read as much as a writer should. I write much more than I read, and it’s good that I’ve had plenty of motivation to write, but I hardly read at all. This December I am going to try to finish reading three books by the end of December, not including school books. I’ve already started reading 88 pages (out of 390, so about 1/4) of The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann.

And there you have some of the inside scoop into my life. May God bless you during the Christmas season! Farewell. See you next week! 😉

With God’s help,

Daniel Amador