Four More YouTube Channels I Watch When I Should Be Writing

Tastes. Sometimes something we love sticks with us for our entire life, and sometimes it was a fleeting favorite for a month or two. That’s how I feel about whose content I choose to watch on YouTube.

YouTube is a beast of a platform, in case you didn’t already know that. I don’t even want to think of how many content creators use it, and how many of them consistently, constantly vie for our attentions.

In the last YouTube related blog post I put up on this site, I mentioned how proud I was for no longer watching television. Well…I recently “inherited” my parent’s old television. It’s now wall mounted over my bookshelves. I am, however, proudly keeping to the “tv is only for the weekends” rule I imposed on myself. I have yet to impose a “YouTube only on *insert day here*” limit. Maybe I should do that…

Let’s circle back to that changing tastes topic of discussion. I looked back on my previous two YouTube posts: What I Watch When I’m Not Writing from August 2020, and January 2021’s addition, Six YouTube Channels I Watch When I Should Be Writing. I’d like to amend here who I no longer watch from those posts: Jessica Braun, Binging with Babish, Time Team, and nyangsoop. That doesn’t mean at all you can’t still give them a try. Those channels have been replaced with the following:

The History Channel

LIFE AFTER PEOPLE and HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE. Let’s just say that these videos have given me WAY TOO MANY ideAS for my new work-in-progress! Seriously. If you’re ever stumped for something in your own WIP, try watching something from The History Channel.

What’s actually amazing about it is they’ve got full episodes up. Some shows they’ve only got clips, or something informational about them. But, with LIFE AFTER PEOPLE and HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE, they’re completely full. And, if you’ve got an ad-blocker installed on your device, viewing them is such a joy!


Tara Michelle

I found Tara’s videos last year through her “living in LA” vlogs (though she doesn’t actually call them that. Sometimes it’s hard to relate (me, a 35 yr old living in Pittsburgh. her, a 26 yr old who recently moved from LA back to Toronto), so I don’t always watch each and every blog. Especially since she doesn’t always disclose when a video’s been sponsored by a company.

However, it’s been quite interesting watching how she’s adjusted to life back in Canada, and now she’s working on remodeling her own place (jealous). She’s definitely much more adjusted and down to earth than many younger YouTubers, which I think is what keeps me watching. I appreciate how she appreciates those who are interested in her journey.


Imamu room

Imamu and her family are from Japan who now reside in Canada. (Yes, another Canadian content creator! Score Two for the Canadians). I really like watching her cooking videos. Her recipes swing between traditional Japanese cuisine and East meets West.

I don’t know why, but I’ve always taken a long time when it comes to preparing ingredients for my own meals. I really appreciate Imamu’s gusto when cooking. She’s not afraid to get “down and dirty” when it comes to preparation and multitasking in the kitchen. I hope to, one day, be as confident as she is!


Rachel & Jun’s Adventures

Honestly? I go back and forth with this channel (group of channels). I found them several years ago while I still loved learning about Japanese culture, j-pop, and traditions. I think my interest in such things died down around the same time I stopped investing so much time into Korean pop music. I know, I know. Two different countries. Two different peoples. But there is a direct correlation to my college days with both of them. Sometimes I still watch them. Sometimes I don’t.

Jun’s Kitchen is still an immensely popular channel, though he doesn’t post as frequently as, say, Binging with Babish. However, several videos of his have gone viral. Currently, Jun and his wife, Texan-born Rachel, are in the midst of building their own house. So I am thoroughly enjoying that content. If you like cats, learning about the intricacies of navigating a multi-cultural relationship, and traveling around Japan (during non-COVID times), then I definitely suggest giving Rachel & Jun’s Adventures a try!


To borrow some advice from my last post as well: I suppose another reason I wanted to share these channels is to remind you that you don’t always need to be writing. It’s perfectly okay, normal, and natural to take a break. In fact, breaks are necessary for your mental health.

Don’t be afraid to indulge in a favorite YouTube channel from time to time. They’re a great stress relievers and help free up those neurons so they can help you plan out your next great scene.

Also, it’s okay if you no longer are interested in content from certain channels. Especially if said individuals do or say something you don’t agree with. Chances are, they don’t even know who you are. But, as they say, old habits die hard.

Like procrastination.

Leigh = procrastinator for life (?)

So go. Watch something you love, but don’t forget your passion!


Six YouTube Channels I Watch When I Should Be Writing

April: 2020. I unplugged my television. Hopefully for the last time. I was tired of commercials, tired of the news, and tired of politics. Not only that, but I never had a smart tv, or good internet. So buying one just to watch YouTube or stream seemed pointless.

I’m four months shy of one year without television. Not only did I banish my television to the basement, but I cancelled Netflix and removed the app from my phone, and cancelled both CBS All Access and Disney+. Don’t ask me what that green guy’s oh-so-mysterious name’s supposed to be from that one Star Wars show. Don’t know, don’t care.

As a result, what began as a one month experiment to see if I could do it has resulted in a much happier existence. I really do suggest you give it a try.

However, every once in a while I crave some mindless entertainment. While I’ve read down my TBR book pile and bought even more than I can handle in a year, I needed to add back in a healthy mix of other kinds of media.

As such, ere’s what I watch when I’m not writing.

Or trying to write.

Or practicing deep procrastination from writing!

This post is an update to last August’s blog post, What I Watch When I’m Not Writing.

Aaron and Claire

Don’t worry if you don’t speak Korean! Aaron and Claire have you covered! Aaron’s mission: to make Korean cuisine easily accessible at home, even if you aren’t in Korea. Claire’s mission: to taste test everything Aaron makes.

I’d gladly swap places with Claire!

So if you’re looking for something different, and some different recipes to try, might I suggest these two? They’re refreshingly active on both YouTube and Instagram, so hop on over and have a watch!

emkfit

I mostly included this one to remind myself to actually follow one of her routines. And someday soon. I first heard of emkfit from the lifestyle channel, Jessica Braun.

I’ve been meaning to find something to do at home, and something that’s low impact for my knees. What I appreciate about this channel is she offers options to save your knees, which I really like. Maybe I’ll start on Monday? 🤔

Time Team

Feeling the need to learn something new? I always do! Last summer, right before my birthday, I became addicted to watching reruns (are they even considered “reruns” if you can find their videos on YouTube?) of the long-running, but long-since-ended BBC television show, Time Team.

If you’re into quirk, geology, archaeology, ancient and more recent history, then I suggest you watch a few episodes of Time Team. They’ve recently begun uploading past episodes to the new channel, Time Team Classics. Their digs also cover a whole lot of ground, searching for anything ranging from Neolithic to Roman to World War II Great Britain.

planD플랜디

I absolutely love how calming her videos are. She hails from South Korea, cooks mostly Korean recipes, sews, and loves cafes.

Have I mentioned I love how soothing her filming style is? When lockdown started last year, that’s when I found her. It’s a refreshing change from the fast-paced American style vlogs.

냥숲nyangsoop

This channel is similar to the above but with more earthy tones and an adorable cat named Taco. She gardens, cooks and tries to live off the land as naturally as she can. She cooks a few more Western style dishes, but she’s just as calming and posts only once a week.

Peter Monn

Need a little, or a lot, of whimsy? Personality? Look no further than Peter Monn. He’s got six channels, including ones about books, but I prefer his drama channel. Where else am I supposed to “get the tea” if I don’t watch the Kardashians or Real Housewives?

Now Peter’s had a lot of channel, as well as personal, growth over the past few years. We’re all learning, right? But I live his honesty and willingness to speak his mind. And the fact that he watches the language he uses as well. If you like knowing about drama that’s all about the YouTube community, then give Peter a watch.


I suppose another reason I wanted to share these channels is to remind you that you don’t always need to be writing. It’s perfectly okay, normal, and natural to take a break. In fact, breaks are necessary for your mental health.

Don’t be afraid to indulge in a favorite YouTube channel from time to time. They’re a great stress relievers and help free up those neurons so they can help you plan out your next great scene.


What I Watch When I’m Not Writing.

The answer: very little, in fact. Way back in April, at the very beginning of all things pandemic and everyone else was binging their entire Netflix list, I conducted a month long experiment and unplugged my television. For science. Five months later it’s still unplugged, and I haven’t seen a single political ad this whole year. The result: a much happier existence. I really do suggest you give it a try.

However, every once in a while I crave some mindless entertainment. While I’ve read down my TBR book pile and bought even more than I can handle in a year, I needed to add back in a healthy mix of other kinds of media. As such, here’s what I watch when I’m not writing. Or trying to write. Or practicing deep procrastination from writing!

YouTube

For a long while I unsubscribed from all the channels I was watching the past two years. Some of them no longer posted content, and others no longer piqued my interest. Last night I whittled down the my current list from over fifteen to six. Here they are.

Kittisaurus

Kittisaurus and her ten (yes, ten) cats brings me so much joy. A YouTuber out of South Korea, Claire, Lulu, Momo, TT, DD, LaLa, CoCo, ChuChu, Nana, Toto and DoDo will most certainly brighten up your day. However, Claire recently got back ownership of her original channel, CreamHeroes. While I’m really happy she was able to accomplish that, I’m still nervous to resub. (If you know anything about YouTube politics, you get what I mean). So here’s a couple videos from her Kittisaurus channel for you to enjoy.

Don’t worry if you don’t speak Korean! She’s got such a large, international fan base that she’s been working on her English skills.

Royalty Soaps

I love Katie’s soaps. Having watched her channel grow over the past several years, it’s now incredibly difficult placing orders on her soap release days. But that’s a fantastic problem to have – for Katie! She’s a small business based out of Texas and basically her whole family’s involved in the process. (Process. Cold processed soap. See what I did there? hehe). While I prefer low-top soaps over the ones with high piles of “soap frosting,” I bought a high top grapefruit soap earlier this year and was sad when it was gone. If you prefer using bars of soap over liquid, consider supporting Katie’s Royalty Soaps. If you can’t seem to get your hands on her bars, look into Ophelia’s Soapery.

Binging With Babish

I found this channel a month ago. I don’t even know why I started watching it. All I know is I’ll never make a good 95% of the recipes he recreates from television shows and film. Of the five percent left, I *may* actually attempt an alcohol free version of the cheese fondue video below. I bought one of those electric fondue pots last year, and I own several old school fondue cookbooks from the 1970s. Oooh – I may just have to for my birthday coming up next month!

Kimono Mom

Kimono Mom’s the most recent channel I’ve subscribed to within the last few weeks. Moe cooks Japanese cuisine with her adorable daughter, Sutan. I’ve always wanted to try making more types of food, and I love this channel’s simplicity. In fact, I’m going to try making tonkatsu later this week. The closest Asian market that I know of here in Pittsburgh is about twenty minutes away on a good driving day. I don’t know if they’re currently open for business, but I’m going to try looking for ingredients to make dashi, and that coveted Japanese mayo!

Tonkatsu reminds me of the German dish schnitzle, which is also a breaded cutlet.

Jessica Braun

I’ve watched Jessica Braun for years. And I do mean years. From the floor of her bedroom to her wedding to the birth of her adorable Gigi, it’s been a privilege to watch her little family grow. If you like all things Disney, her husband’s a travel agent and they often vlog their trips (when there’s not a pandemic going on, of course). If you like a more down-to-earth YouTube channel experience, give Jessica Braun’s channel a try.

Alexandria Ryan

Alex’s channel is one of those channels I unsub from only to come back a month later. I don’t know why I just don’t let the link sit in my subs list. To quote Alex, “Anywho…” This channel’s specialty lies in subscription box unboxings. If you ever think about getting one, she may have a review of it already. Boxes aren’t as big as they once were, but I could be wrong. The only box I purchase is FabFitFun. That’s mostly because of their options and quality, add-on specials, and ease of cancellation.

Netflix

I have a rule of thumb with Netflix – never have more than five shows in your Watch Later list. Right before I unplugged my TV, I pushed my way through a list twenty titles deep. By the end, instead of entertained, I was disappointed in myself for some of the choices I make in life. Okay, let’s not get philosophical here. Here’s what’s currently on my Watch Later list:

Star Trek

Some people binge watch FRIENDS. Others The Office, and still others Seinfeld. Then there’s the generation that adores shows like Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, and the newest version of Sabrina. Whatever your favorite genre may be, mine will always, always be Star Trek.

This month’s series is Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I’ve yet to dip my toes into Discovery or Picard, as its the classics I love. One of these days I really should see what all the talk’s about.

It takes me about a month to get through a Star Trek series, and I can’t watch them out of order. The only one I also can’t get into is The Original Series. I do, of course, understand its significance and place in pop culture history.

If you doubt my love for Trek, just read these blog posts of mine:

The Character Arcs in Star Trek Voyager
The Dream That Star Trek Gave Me
Five Disease Filled Star Trek Voyager Episodes
Five Favorite Childhood Books

Black

Another Netflix habit I have is rewatching old Korean dramas I absolutely adore. I normally don’t go for dramas with older cast members, as I prefer more light-hearted series. But Black’s dark nature rekindled my love for its genre (think Japan’s Ghost Hunt anime, Supernatural, and S. Korea’s Bring It On, Ghost [oml Taecyeon’s my weakness).

Last month I watched Oh My Ghost again. I really want to rewatch the Taiwanese and Japanese versions once more, but that’s a lot of TV. For now, I’ll stick with the Korean mystical thriller, Black.

Cast:
1. Song Seung-heon
2. Go Ara
3. El Lee
4. Jo Jae-yoon
5. Kim Dong-jun
6. Kim Won-hae
7. Choi Myung-bin
8. Lee Hyo-Je
9. Kim Hyeong-min
10. Kim Jae-young

Cursed

Cursed is one of those shows with such mixed reviews I hesitate to watch.

I’ve also been so busy as of late that I really need to set aside time to sit down and pay attention to something brand new. I think that’s why I enjoy having old shows on in the background, so I can still work without having to stop and watch.

Yes, this includes Korean dramas like Black.

I’m drawn to anything with swords. Think Lord of the Rings, Legend of the Seeker and that one episode of Firefly where Mal is challenged to a duel. Okay, looks like I’m giving Cursed a chance.

NiNoKuni

Every so often I’ll hop on the anime train. I can only handle it in small chunks. As a kid I loved Sailor Moon and watched Inuyasha during Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming. I also absolutely love Sword Art Online, Clannad, Mary and the Witch’s Flower and A Silent Voice.

This past week I finished A Whisker Away, Ouran High School Host Club (again), and Toradora. That’s a lot of television for someone who’s unplugged her actual tv!

NiNoKuni‘s a film along the same line as A.I.C.O. Incarnate, another post-apocalyptic Netflix original. The similar concept drew me to add it to my list, and I can’t wait to dive in.

I do appreciate how one kid in the poster kinda reminds me of Haku from Spirited Away:


So how’s that for an impromptu blog post? I suppose the other reason I wanted to share these titles is to remind you that you don’t always need to be writing. It’s perfectly okay, normal, natural to take a break. In fact, breaks are necessary for your mental health. Don’t be afraid to indulge in a favorite YouTube video or Netflix flick. They’re a great stress reliever and frees up those neurons so they can plan out your next great scene. Give yourself a break and do something freeing today.


I Unplugged the Television For A Month. Here’s What Happened.

We humans make choices every day. Sometimes collectively, but mostly individually. We are creatures of habit and prefer sticking to our routines like flies on poo. Unless something dramatic happens and our simple pleasures suddenly disappear, we’ll follow that path indefinitely. I’m one of those creatures with a terrible case of procrastination.

Procrastination has truly had a profound impact on my writing (or lack thereof). Since this self-revelation, the one that showed me I proudly I wore that procrastination on my sleeve over the past few months, I’ve also come to realize how disappointed I am in myself. I’m writing, but blogging and working on other things. None of that work’s been directly connected to my manuscript.

Change. It’s such a short yet daunting word. One that us creatures of habit try to avoid as much as possible. I’ve worked retail and food service for fifteen years, so you’d think I’d have an easier time with it as change is so constant.

Then March 2020 came in the United States. A time when life changed life for us all. With everyone else indulging in Netflix, Disney+, and more social media than ever before, I wondered if it was time to finally conduct a no-television experiment. Let’s see what happened:

WEEK 1. April 1-11

You may wonder why this week is extra long. Honestly? Because I completely forgot about this experiment. But an organic change already happened during Week One, plus a few weeks before that, and I wouldn’t have noticed unless I hadn’t opened my Kindle. Apparently, less TV time equates to more book time. Imagine that!

It took a damp, drizzly March evening to get me to crack open a book for the first time in a while (one that wasn’t non-fiction), and my mouth dropped when I read its insights page. Of course it’s clear to you that I’ve never explored this function, and set a low reading goal for myself – to read twenty books in a year. 500 books in a year sounded like an absurd goal to start with. Better to set expectations low and work up!


WEEK 2. April 12-18

I used to have a huge “to be watched” list on my Netflix account. Now it’s down to two items – Merlin and a Korean drama called Mr. Sunshine. The only shows I have on repeat are old Star Trek series I can’t help but watch over and over again. It’s a simple thing, but they bring me joy.

I also used to religiously watch The Price is Right in the mornings, but even that annoys me now. Too many Type A personalities. So my TV remains turned off, and I’m slowly whittling down my “to be watched” on Netflix. But honestly? I’ve no desire to. Why? My focus has shifted completely back to books, writing, and learning more than ever before.


I’m also incredibly happy to report that I’ve updated the “On My Bookshelf” page here on my website, something I actually have to do yet again. Yay!

WEEK 3. April 19-25

Week three. Not only am I watching less television, even with the family, I’m watching less YouTube as well. Beauty community drama videos, kpop music videos, and old episodes of Judge Judy were constantly in my “Watch Later” list. Now it’s filled with more practical videos like organizing and new recipes to try.

Update 1: I’ve removed my subscription from several more channels. I’ve even removed many more shows from my Watch List on Netflix; I no longer have the desire to even start new ones.

Update 2: I’m also incredibly happy to report that I’ve updated the “On My Bookshelf” page here on my website, something I actually have to do yet again. Yay!


WEEK 4. April 26-30

By this week, I didn’t want to even turn on Netflix except for a few episodes of Star Trek here and there. You’d think, because I began my two weeks off work due to statewide pandemic mandates, that my viewership would increase. I’m pleased to report that it, in fact, went down. The majority of my entertainment now comes from, surprise surprise, actual books again. And I think that was the desired outcome of this experiment to begin with.

Whenever I find myself craving entertainment, my TBR (to be read) pile called my name. The only time I even look at a television now is after family dinner nights and The Masked Singer is on.

This last week is also the week I’ve worked more on my own novel series than I have in the past two months. “I don’t have time,” I’d say. When, in reality, I let my “procrastination” get in the way of real productivity.


There’s more to life than always airing your grievances on social media. There’s more to life than always being connected, on top of pop culture, or indulging in drama videos about people on YouTube you truly know nothing about.

Truth be told, this “experiment” began in late March. They say time changes habits, be they good or bad, and this past month certainly proved that to be true. Conclusion: television and media and other media outlets do not, should not, control your life. For the longest time I let it control mine, and I’m done complaining about political ads.

We all have it within us to write our own narratives. We don’t always have to keep to the status quo, especially if our life’s status quo doesn’t make us happy anymore. And I wasn’t happy. I thank God every day for my desire to write stories.

It’s time to use, and I mean truly use, this gift He’s given me.

The Proof is in the Reading Timeline!


We all have it within us to write our own narratives.


#YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen

When I began writing this post I was nearing the end of my first project. Key word: was. Then I tried writing the next book in the series and nothing was working; until I had a late night conversation with one of my beta readers (aren’t betas awesome?). What began life as a novella turned into a full, fledged novel. Worthy to be fully included in my debut series.

But now I just wanted to put up a different kind of post than I normally do on my blog. Something lighthearted and fun. Something to take my mind, even for a moment or two, off timelines, maps and inconsistencies in historical data.

If you’ve spent any time on the internet, I’m sure you’re familiar with the “amwriting” and “amediting” tags. I participate in a few of them for the writing community but I’m a simple person when it comes to all that. I streamline my interests and minimize the tags I use. This helps me (somewhat) curb the amount of time I find myself online. There’s one I really enjoy doing, the “YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen” tag. So below I’ve listed the ABCs of Writing, all with that tag front and center!

  1. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you anticipated the time you’ll spend writing your story, and miscalculated it at the same time.
  2. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you birthed the idea from a bubble bath/extra long shower or a dream in the middle of the night.
  3. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you created a protagonist you know everyone will love, or love to hate.
  4. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you decided to give that protagonist their own story.
  5. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you edited the crap out of your manuscript, or crap into it.
  6. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you figured out the climax only after staring at your screen like a drunken llama for five sleepless days straight.
  7. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you greeted each character you create with open arms, even your antagonists and characters only there to annoy the protagonist.
  8. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you hurt your fingers dropping your laptop on them.
  9. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you imagined 20 spectacular locations, realizing halfway into it that you can only logically include five of them.
  10. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you justified killing your favorite character. Or two. Then you realize you have to justify the choice to your readers.
  11. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you killed the character. Because a story where absolutely nobody dies is illogical.
  12. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you love writing in poetic justice as well as justice that isn’t poetic at all.
  13. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you moved around an adverb 100 times until you realized you really shouldn’t use it anyway.
  14. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you n
  15. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you outlined your entire series when you swore you’d never use the method.
  16. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you put your jar of peanut butter in the fridge instead of the pantry because you’re mentally plotting the climax of your series.
  17. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you quit using a pen and paper, for the sake of the trees, only to remember you have five unused notebooks on your office shelf waiting and ready to go.
  18. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you realize that writing a 280 character Tweet does not count towards your daily word count goal
  19. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhenYou s
  20. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you tell people not to call you after a certain time because SHHHHH, you’re writing for goodness sake! They might incur the wrath of a Gollum-like creature holding their manuscript whispering, “My precioussssss” over and over again.
  21. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you understand the characters in your head more than flesh and blood people.
  22. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you view book reviews and “how to” guides on YouTube to help yourself step up your writing game.
  23. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you w
  24. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you x
  25. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you y
  26. #YouKnowYouAreAWriterWhen you zip home from work so you don’t forget that new funny bit you really want to include in your story.

Now it’s your turn! I couldn’t think of any for “n,” “s,” “w,” “x,” or “y.” In the comments below or even on Twitter, @ my handle, “barefoot4life85,” feel free to add your additions to the list! I figured, since many of us are in the writing/querying/researching etc. stages, that it was time to have to have a little bit of writing fun.


Facing It | Author Envy

Have you been able to pinpoint exactly why your favorite authors are, in fact, your favorite? Is it their writing style? Their genre? How active they are on their social media? What they do looks easy when you’re reading it, doesn’t it? They can pump out a new book every year or two so you decide that you can do it too.

Then you find yourself sitting in front of a computer or a notebook, the blank page staring you directly in the face and you don’t even know where to begin. and you figure you should read for inspiration. As you read you begin to wonder, “Why didn’t I write that?” The paragraph is brilliantly built, the choice of words perfect, and the prose is spot on. So now you feel even less qualified and you realize it: you have a bad case of author envy.

In this post of Facing It, I’ll be sharing two things that have helped me keep away author envy; learning the craft and practicing the art of patience.

Facing It | Keeping  Away Author Envy
Be gone, you green eyed monster!

  1. Learning the craft
    I am not a seasoned author, so it’s only logical that I have a lot to learn about this industry. My favorite authors have been at it for years and a couple of them aren’t with us anymore. Yet their stories have stayed with me and I continually reread them.When you’re writing, you don’t really have time to sit there and be jealous of someone else’s writing style. You’re developing your own. Finding your own rhythms. Your own time period and your own story lines. You can’t bank off their name if you’re no relation but you can still be inspired by their work.

     

    You can’t bank off their name if you’re no relation but you can still be inspired by their work.

    Just so long as you’re not copying that work.

    You don’t have to learn to be a copywriter, or a publisher or an agent or an editor. There’s too many fields within the publishing world to worry about all that. Learn who you are as a writer first, especially if that’s what you really want to do. Write. If your life leads you in another direction, then you can focus on that.

    Write. If your life leads you in another direction, then you can focus on that.

    The publishing world isn’t as cut and dry as I thought it was, and I’m learning everything the hard way because that’s just how I roll. That also leads into my second topic:

  2. Practicing patience
    I’ve already touched on the topic of patience in a couple of posts on this blog, but patience really is imperative. Think about this. You’ve finally completed all the edits of your manuscript and, unless you’re going the self-publishing indie route, you are still going to have to wait. Wait for replies that may never come to your queries. Wait for your manuscript to come back from an editor. Wait for…Okay, I think I’ve driven that analogy into a grave.Sometimes I wish that the Star Trek world is reality, with avenues of publication like holodecks where writing literally comes to life. (They’re called holonovels). I think it’ll be easier if I just insert a clip here if you’re unfamiliar with Trek:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNCybqmKugAThe difference between the 24th century and our century is that things don’t happen as instantly as that and maybe that’s a good thing. In order to perfect your craft, learn your craft, you need to have patience to accomplish it and finish it well.

     

    Sometimes I wish that the Star Trek world is reality, with avenues of publication like holodecks where writing literally comes to life.


Author envy may be ever present, but it’s what you do with with it that counts. You can either channel it into bettering yourself and your craft or you can quit and be disappointed that you never fully took the plunge.

I prefer channeling it and supporting my fellow authors. I may not be published yet but you can most certainly learn from the experiences of those around you. You’re only human and so are they. They’ve most certainly made mistakes on their way through the publishing world, and you and I will too. Just like in anything, be it family, politics, even stanning your favorite musical artist, keep it civil. Keep it real.

The truth is, you’re just starting to find your voice. They’ve also, probably, been at it a lot longer and have had the time to develop their patterns and rhythms. Love on each other, get to know them, and you’ll realize they’re merely on the same journey you are. So don’t be impatient with yourself. You’ll get there!

Don’t let fear or insecurity stop you from trying new things. Believe in yourself. Do what you love. And, most importantly, be kind to others. Even if you don’t like them.” ~Stacy London


Research It | Covered Bridges

Pennsylvania. The land of bridges. If you read my last post about the different kinds of maps, then you’ll know about topographical maps. If not, then the briefest definition of topography is the “detailed description or representation on a map of the natural and artificial features of an area” and is used mostly in the study of geography. But if you’re familiar with the commonwealth of Pennsylvania at all, you’ll know that it’s a vast region of varied land formations from the Poconos of mid state to the low levels near Philadelphia.

Pittsburgh, located in South Western PA, is known as the City of Bridges. While they’re mostly of steel construction (another nickname of the city being the Steel City…more on that at another time), most of the covered bridges were in rural areas, used for trains or normal walking paths and roads. These days, not many of them survive but there are many covered bridge festivals throughout the year, most of them taking place in our gorgeous fall season.

Can you tell that I am a Pennsylvanian?

Washington County. Green County. Columbia County. Montour County. These are just a few of the places in the Commonwealth that celebrate this important structure.

**These condensed histories brought to you by “Images of America: Pennsylvania’s Covered Bridges” by Fred J. Mollalong with other online sources that will be cited.**


The Covered Bridges of Pennsylvania
#allthebridges

A Condensed History
The first covered bridge in the New World was built in 1805 over the Schuylkill River along one of the main routes out of the city of Philadelphia. Many of them were built over such rivers and needed to be tall enough for barges and other water traffic to travel under. Larger covered bridges even required the traveler to pay a toll to cross it for general maintenance or to offset the cost of building the bridge. Often there would be a general store or post office built next to it.

brandywine.jpgSadly, this isn’t the Brandywine on the way to Hobbiton in “The Lord of the Rings.” Pennsylvania isn’t that special! To Brandywine: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJUryaDzt9c

The earliest covered bridges were built in Philadelphia with the trend continuing westward, encouraging travel between rural communities and cities. Some were constructed out of stone and could support heavy loads of material goods. However, most were smaller, wooden structures used mostly for foot and vehicular traffic. Because of this aspect, many bridges also had advertisements from shops and companies showcasing services or products, and many were commissioned by companies or other entrepreneurs.

Sadly, not many survive today but those that have are celebrated for their contributions to the communities they serviced. These days, a bridge is seen as a common, basic thing. In America’s earliest centuries, if there wasn’t a bridge, you just didn’t go that way until one was built or you built it yourself.

1806 – King’s Covered Bridge, Middlecreek, Lancaster County
1812 – Colossus Covered Bridge in Philadelphia, PA
1872 – Risser’s Mill Covered Bridge in Mount Joy Township, Lancaster County

Covered Bridges in Modern PA…so to speak
As time moved forward covered bridge construction soon became a thing of the past, morphing into the more modern, steel trussed bridges we see today. Iron and steel were Pittsburgh’s main export for many years, so it was easy for engineers to use the materials throughout Pennsylvania for bridges of all sorts, railroads, ships, and tunnels through mountains. That doesn’t mean that by the 19th century, covered bridges fell into complete obscurity. In fact, their charm and usefulness encouraged many living near them to invest in their upkeep and future use.

Covered bridges were still being used well into the 1930s, such as the Wertz’s Mill Covered Bridge off Route 222 North of Reading, PA. The Davis Covered Bridge, built in 1875, has modern paving inside, as well as the Hollingshead Mill Covered Bridge near Catawissa in Columbia County and the Stillwater Covered Bridge, also in Columbia County. Many of the surviving bridges have either been modernized to accommodate 21st century vehicles or restored using similar materials that would’ve been used at the time of construction for historical preservation.

Train and Trolley Use
Unfortunately, none of these types of covered bridges survived the passage of time in Pennsylvania. Otherwise, as a child of a family fascinated by trains and trolleys, we would’ve most definitely have made a journey to visit at least one of them by now. My grandfather, Louis J. Redman of Pittsburgh, PA, played a role in starting the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in 1949. He was also a founding member of the Train Collectors Association (TCA) a few years later in 1954. Being born in 1916, he most definitely would’ve seen and used these bridges.

There really isn’t much change between the history of these bridges versus what’s already been discussed, but of course they had to be constructed a bit differently to support the weight of steam engines, its cargo, and house the necessary wires for trolley traffic. On September 30th, 1896, the Columbia-Wrightsville Covered Bridge was destroyed by a category 1 hurricane. I mention this one because it was, uniquely, a rail and road traffic covered bridge. The Pennsylvania Railroad took the width of the river and bay into consideration when they constructed it, but it was later replaced, as many were, by an iron bridge.


Well, that wasn’t the most colorful of histories and maybe not the most interesting, but without bridges in general, we may not have seen as much engineering growth that the Industrial Revolution was built upon. Many working parts had to happen, and advancement in travel only pushed that Revolution in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to another level.

Because, let’s face it. Covered bridges are not only practical, but magical.


Facing It | Publishing Temptations

Patience is a virtue. Have your parents or grandparent or older figure in your life ever said that to you when you were younger and you threw a tantrum when you didn’t see immediate results? That’s what this Facing It post is going to be all about.

Let’s look at the very definition of patience. According to the great cliche, Webster’s dictionary, patience is “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” Patience is such important topic that it’s even in the Book of Galatians (yep, the Bible), chapter 5, verses 22 to 23a, “22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.” Forbearance is just a fancy word for patience; we don’t need to get into the etymology of all that!

Have patience, and allow yourself time to properly plot, plan and write your story. If you write your book too sloppily, readers can tell. Last summer I purchased an ebook (Don’t ask me which one. I can’t remember the title now. I think I was so annoyed with it that I put it out of my mind!) and it clearly hadn’t been edited well. If I had a paper back or hard cover version, I would’ve taken a red pen to every error I found. It was so bad that I found it hard to concentrate on the story. You don’t want to discredit your story without going through the process first.

Trust me, I get it. You want to publish and publish now. Let me tell you flat out: it doesn’t work that way. It can, but it shouldn’t. So below I’ll be discussing:

Three Temptations that Stem from Impatience
and how I’m working to avoid them.

Temptation 1: Shooting the first few chapters of your novel to every publisher that accepts that kind of submission.

Don’t. Wait. When I had my first several chapters written, this has been my greatest temptation of all. My outline was half written and barely plotted out, only a third of my characters were named and all the conspiracies I wanted include were mere pipe dreams. So even if a publisher or an agent wanted further information about my project, I wouldn’t have been able to provide them with anything more.

My outline was half written and barely plotted out, only a third of my characters were named and all the conspiracies I wanted include were mere pipe dreams.

My impatience was clearly taking over. I asked my already-published uncle a question about that very kind of submission several weeks ago when he was visiting the States from the UK. The look on his face told me all I needed to know before he said it. “Write the story,” he said. “Write the story to tell yourself it first. Then edit. Then find an agent. A well written, edited, and supported manuscript is better than submitting the first draft of anything.”

I known it all along, but I just needed to actually hear it from someone else. Since I’m going the traditional route of publishing, finding an agent to believe in my story as much as I do is going to be a daunting but well-worth it task. And I hope that we’ll not only have a great working relationship, but that they’ll be honest enough to tell me when a manuscript is crap as well (ha!)

Temptation 2: Thinking that your first draft is the most amazing thing you’ve ever written.

That’s going to be the worst thing to listen to, that your first draft is crap. I can’t tell you how many times I tweaked my first chapter before I managed to start writing the second chapter of my current work in progress. I mean, there are countless memes out there jokingly stating how everyone’s first drafts completely, utterly suck.

Do you know how many times I’ve also wondered what the first draft of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone looked like? Or if JRR Tolkien thought his first draft of The Hobbit was glorious in every way? I highly doubt it. Then again, artists of all mediums have been known to be a little eccentric in one way or another!

I have several fellow writers who have amazingly agreed to critique what chapters I have of my first story ever intended for publication. What did I say after they agreed? “I crave criticism, but I haven’t edited it yet!” I was just being honest and they understood that they’re mostly looking at the flow of the story, not necessarily word choice and grammatical errors. I wouldn’t be surprised if they printed an extra copy just to do that though! (I would. Then again, I’m hyper critical of my own work in general).

Temptation 3: Wanting to go into self-publishing right away because you just want to start making money off your writing.

This Temptation isn’t going to talk about the right away portion because we’ve already touched upon that a bit with Temptation 1. Rather, the making money side of things. You’d think this would be the most common sensical (I made that word up) thing, but most artists don’t go into the field with delusions of getting rich off it. Maybe not right away.

Think about your favorite authors for a moment. Are they from the 1700s? 1800s? Or are they more modern? Did their work become recognized before or after their death? After twelve years of publisher submissions? After countless tossed manuscripts? I’m not trying to burst your bubble or douse your enthusiasm; I am trying to highlight the fact that they had to exhibit a great deal of patience in the brutal publishing world.

If you go the agent route, they’re there to negotiate terms for you. Once a manuscript is accepted by a publisher, it’s time to get into the legality of it all. Agents are there to make money themselves, yes, but if they believe in your story as much as you do, they’re going to fight long and hard to get it published so all you have to concentrate on is writing. If you go the self-publishing route, you have to do all the leg work. All the promoting. And you’ll probably dish out just as much $$ you make for good editing or book cover designing.

The point is this: don’t rush things. Writing isn’t a “get rich quick” scheme. It takes patience (surprise surprise), perseverance, and lots and lots of moxy. It may take a while to get noticed but when you do, if I ever personally do, I know I’ll be grateful someone even took the time to read the characters I’m coming to love so much.


All in all, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to seek advice from others in the biz. If they don’t have the answer you’re looking for, I can guarantee they’ll probably know at least the right direction to steer you.

Community is a funny word. When it works well, it works well. When it’s toxic, it’s toxic. Find that small group of confidants, regardless of if they have the time to critique your work, but who can encourage you because they’ve been there/done all that. And make sure you wholeheartedly trust each other. Patience with yourself and patience with others is still a valuable asset. Never forget that.

All in all, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to seek advice. […] Patience with yourself and patience in others is still a valuable asset. Never forget that.


3 Pros for Outlining

There are many things within the authoring world that confuse me, but there’s even more that just makes sense. What might be a necessity for one writer might not even be on the radar for another and vice versa.

I didn’t even know about outlining until a year into my research process. I don’t remember whose Twitter account it was that eventually led me to KM Weiland’s but I came to appreciate her tips and guides and blogs. THEN I discovered that she was a published writer herself with several self-help books on the process – she isn’t just fiction. She’s non-fiction as well.

The more I went through her blog, Helping Writers Become Authors, the more I realized that I really was lacking direction. All I had was the idea, but no idea on how to get from point a to b to c and so on without just abandoning my story all together. From past experience I knew that was my biggest downfall and this time around I want to be published more than ever.

Some, more experienced writers are able to function without the outline structure. They’re the more free-spirited type of writer. The more artsy who has notes and post-its and every inch of their wall or notebook covered from top to bottom with random ideas. Then there’s me. I can’t do that. I need to have a clean work space, I need to be organized, and I need to know exactly where I’m going.

That’s why the outline concept appealed to me from the very beginning, so down below I will be pointing out more pros than cons on the method. I’m sure it’s been discussed on countless other blogs before, but these are just based on my own observations as I’m slowly working through my series.

  1. Some publishers request a copy of your outline.
    It wasn’t until I started looking through that Writer’s Guide book to publishers did I realize that some of those folks actually want a full copy of the outline for your work. I think I saw it pop up more for fiction publishers than non-fiction, but if you already have an outline started and your interested in submitting to a specific place, you don’t have to go back to the beginning of your novel and convert it into outline form. It’s already done and saves you several hours’ (or days, depending on how long your story is) of work. All you may need to do is format it if the publisher requests it and you’re all set!
  2. Even though you may deviate from your outline during the writing process you can always have multiple drafts of the outline.
    While I mentioned I don’t like having multiple notes and post-its earlier in this blog, I don’t shy away from writing in the margins of my physical copies. You should see the first two pages of the first draft of my overall outline – it’s a hot mess of reminders, tips and updates. I’m already working on adding things to my outline that I didn’t have in there before, like certain things a character does or an important subtle hint on what’s coming. I’ll just have to remind myself to print out a new copy once all is said and done and save that version as THE version so I don’t accidentally send a publisher the disjointed original.
  3. Gives you a guide from beginning to end.
    There really isn’t much that needs to be expanded upon with that statement. It says it all right there. An outline’s main purpose is to help guide you all the way through your story from, well, beginning to end [or lack thereof if you’re having a procrastination day!] I felt nearly completely lost without mine. Some days I still feel a bit lost because, let’s face it, I’m creating my own world for someone else to enjoy and that’s a lot of pressure!

Whether you outline or not, whether you fully read this blog post or not, I suspect that we’re all heading towards the same goal of becoming a published author for the first time or you already are and you’re just preparing for your next release. Regardless of your methodology, you need to find what works best for your pacing. Having an outline has helped give me a sense of direction and some sense completion. If you are a new writer I strongly suggest having a read of KM Weiland’s helpful series available on Amazon. (She has no idea I’m plugging this so I swear this isn’t an #ad or anything like that. I just think they’re incredibly useful!)

So don’t worry if you have a day of complete distraction and procrastination. Even seasoned authors have them! Just keep pressing on!


The Infamous Editing Loop

I have a problem. I have more than one problem but that’s not what we’re here to focus on today! That will take far too long (ha!).

I remember reading a quote somewhere, and I have to dig it up again, which states that when you’re writing your first draft that you are writing the story for you and no one else. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t need beta readers or critiques or write groups right off the bat. The first draft is a chance for you to get the story out of your head and onto paper. Or in the form of pixels.

Edit: I’ve found the quote. “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” -Terry Pratchett

So why do I keep going back and constantly edit the first few pages of the first story I’m ever considering submitting for publication?

Perfection.

That’s the motivation. Perfection.

The first draft isn’t meant to be perfect and yet I can’t let certain sentences go until I stare at them for an hour each to try and figure out how to best word it. I’m no editor and still I try to be. Do I use a semicolon here instead of a comma? Is this sentence an individual thought or is it part of the next or previous paragraph? Is that the right word I need or do I pull out my thesaurus again?

I think that some tuning is naturally part of the writing process but I know I start running into trouble when I start over analyzing things that really should be left alone for the editing stage.

Perfection can come at a later time, if it ever comes at all. For now, the story just needs to come out.