Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Shadow

One of my favorite radio programs is the "Q" on NPR with Jian Ghomeshi. I just recently (like 5 minutes ago) watched an interview he did with Barry Michaels, who co-wrote this book with Phil Stutz, called "The Tools." It talks about creativity and the challenges that come with being a creative person. 

O Magazine did an interview with them and I really liked some of the things they said. Here is the link to that interview:
And here is some of the key points I wanted to grab for you out of that interview: 

  1. "Many people feel the urge to do something creative but can't get themselves started. When they come into our office, they almost all say the same thing: "I know I have the ability. If only I knew exactly what I want to do—paint, write, sculpt—I'd have no trouble getting started." So they wait for that magical idea that will inspire them to begin...but it never seems to come. New ideas don't come to those who wait and think; they come to those who act."
  2. "The answer is that deep down you feel you have to be perfect to win validation. That's impossible. In fact, there's a strange truth about human creativity: The most creative part of you is also the most imperfect. This part of you is called 'the shadow.'"
  3. "A real creative process isn't immediately gratifying. It's frustrating, mysterious and uncertain."
  4. "There's only one antidote: We need to feel the presence of something much bigger than ourselves, something that loves and values us without reservation. Only then can we let go of our inner critic." 
And here is the interview with Jian Ghomeshi.
I really liked the part when Barry talks about "the shadow," which is basically everything about yourself that you are ashamed about. In regards to the creative process he says: If you can't accept your flaws you can't flow because you're trying too hard to hide your flaws and be perfect. 
I REALLY connected to this and want to buy his book now to read the rest. 
Here is the link to purchase it on if you wish:


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Chicken Soup for the Soul

Well, hi there! It's Friday.
(Currently playing on Pandora: Something Good Can Work Out by Two Door Cinema Club.)
Because I like it. That's why!

Tonight I wanted to talk about my publishing experience with Chicken Soup for the Soul. Remember those dreaded "query" letters I constantly talk about on FB or on previous posts? (I know I certainly do!)
Remember, they are basically your resume for a literary agent, plus the synopsis of your book. Well, I really wanted my query letter to have some meat to it, you know? Like I wanted to have published something before trying to get an agent to take me on.

I tried to get various stories/essays of mine published in several teen magazines, but found no luck with that. Then, somehow (I honestly don't know how exactly), I came across the website for Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Here is the link to their homepage:

I don't know if you've ever heard of Jack Canfield, but he is one pretty amazing guy. Check him out.

On this home page you will find a sidebar. Click on "Submit Your Story."
After this, click "Possible Book Topics."
Here you will find (wait for it...) possible book topics that they will publish. They have Chicken Soup books for practically EVERYTHING. Like I'm not even kidding. They had one for NASCAR. Go check it out!
Here is the link:

Once you have found that book topic you have a story and want to write for, click "Click Here to Submit Your Story" at the bottom of this page (it is in red) or you can just go to the link that I will provide you:

Then you submit your story!
Hopefully you can figure this part out on your own because it's really quite easy.

Then a couple months will pass by (in which case you will spend writing some more) and hopefully you will get an email that says your story is being considered for publication and then a few weeks later you will (cross your fingers) get a second email that looks something like this:

October 21, 2011

Amanda   Yancey  
[My address]

Dear Amanda  

Your story “Winning Life Back  ” has made it to the final selection round for Chicken Soup for the Soul:The Tough Times for Teens. The stories are great and this book promises to be a classic. We are so appreciative of your participation and very excited about this book.Please find enclosed the final version of your story for approval. Please review your story for truth, accuracy of facts (names, dates, etc.) and grammar/typographical errors. If you find an error please mark any changes directly on the enclosed copy; then either return it to me by mail Attn: [the assistant publisher's information]

If you do not have any changes I still need to hear from you.  A simple email with the story title stating that we have your permission to print the story is fine.

Please do not retype your story as I need to see the changes, so just mark them by hand.  If everything is perfect, just send me an e-mail letting me know that we have your permission to print the story as presented. Please reply by October 28, 2011.

In some cases, we did virtually no editing -- in other cases, if your story was long you will see a bit more editing.  In addition, we are known for putting relevant quotations at the beginning of each story and we have done that on all the stories in this book. If you don't like the quote that we put on your story, please let us know and we will work with you to find another. You can suggest a replacement quote, but if we are already using it on another story, then wewill need to find yet another one.
A couple more things! For "typesetting" purposes, at this stage (in our Word version) we indicate all long dashes with two hyphens. These get changed to those nice long dashes in the final version, so don't be concerned when you see all those double hyphens. Also, we tend to avoid italics where possible, so in some cases if you used italics for internal thoughts or another purpose, you may find them changed to normal Roman style or you may find that we reworded a sentence to avoid the need for italics. If you object, let us know and we will try to accommodate you, but our style guide in general is averse to italicsexcept where necessary.

If you have any questions regarding your permission agreement or other concerns, please feel free to contact 
me at [phone number].

Congratulations on being in the final round!

With best regards from Chicken Soup for the Soul,

[Assistant Publisher's Name]
Assistant Publisher
Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC


A.  I acknowledge that I have read my edited story and that my nonfiction story is correctly portrayed as it is proposed to appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times for Teens


B.    I acknowledge that I have read my edited story and I wish to make the attached changes in order to correct an inaccuracy.


TO CORRECT INACCURACIES ONLY, WRITE YOUR CHANGES DIRECTLY ON THE TYPESET VERSION ATTACHED and fax them to me at [phone #] no later thanOctober 28, 2011. If you do not have any changes, please circle A and fax or email me with your final approval.

Which I must say is an incredibly exciting email to receive! And once this must follow it with the Wolverine Dance of Happiness and possibly drink some ice tea too...

Then in a few months you will receive 10 copies of your book and $200! Not bad if you ask me. And if you would like you can add your email to your author's bio and get lovely emails like this one:

Hello Ms. Amanda,
I guess you are the one who wrote the wonderful article "Winning Life Back," from the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, right? My heart was so touched and deeply moved by the most beautiful heartwarming article I have ever read in my life. The story had a very positive impact on my life. It warmed my heart and touched my soul in a positive way. The author's writing style is very rich and the story is no doubt the heart of the book.
Best regards,

And honestly, this is what I love best about Chicken Soup for the Soul--being able to help other's by sharing experiences, especially overcoming the horrible ones such as the dark days (back surgery years). Elie Wiesel once said: Whoever survives a test, whatever it may be, must tell the story. That is his duty. I really love this quote. It's also quite cathartic to write out how you've overcome and learned from your troubles in life. I highly recommend it, even if it's just journaling.

Chicken Soup's slogan is "Changing the world one story at a time" and I truly believe this!

Now my query letter has more meat to it because I have 2 Chicken Soup for the Soul books published. SO proud of myself! Now, I just need to get that darn novel of mine published!

Ok, now you know how it can be done... I wish you the best of luck in your publishing endeavors!

Till I blog next time.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Quote Book

Apart from devouring my father's delicious homemade tacos, getting my adrenaline-junkie-ness on, reading and writing, I have another addiction... with collecting quotes. 

I am totally and unashamedly obsessed with gathering and documenting the world's most inspiring, hilarious, and downright awesome quotes. I'm sure most of you have already noticed this because I like to share these fantastic findings on Facebook. 

How did I get into this hobby? You may ask. 

Well, back in the dark days (back surgery years) I seriously needed some inspiration. So, I started googling spirit-lifting quotes on the internet. Some of them were just so incredibly brilliant that I didn't want to forget them, so I would write them down on flash cards and then tape them to my walls. That way I could see and read them every day. And this honestly helped me fight through those horrendous, awful, God-just-kill-me-now sort of days. Eventually I bought three fancy little booklets that I could write all my quotes in. I LOVE this book dearly and read and add things to it EVERY day. 

My booklet is not exclusively for internet quotes. I also document funny sayings from my friends and family or things posted on Facebook. I also like scribbling down beautiful passages from favorite novels. 

I highly recommend this for aspiring writers because I've stolen hilarious quotes from my real life experiences and have added them into my books and it seriously makes a huge difference. It majorly ups the authenticity factor because sometimes you simply can't fabricate these sorts of dialogue. 


Me: Did you know that they use twins for babies in movies?
Dad: Yeah, in case one dies...
Me: What?

Conversation I had with a guy I had a MAJOR crush on last year. He eventually turned out to be a disappointment...
Mr. Lamo: I don't want to get married, but I want to have kids. 
Me: Fine. Become a sperm donor then. Problem solved. 

Or the awesome quote I found on Facebook...

If I had to choose my all-time favorite quote, however, it would have to be, without a doubt, the one by Viktor E. Frankl who said:

So, if you ever need any cheering up just ask me to send you a bunch of inspirational and/or hilarious quotes from my booklet. I've done it before for my friends and it helps (at least I hope and think it does). I know it has always done the trick for me, plus I LOVE to do it! 

So, listen carefully and eavesdrop because often you'll hear some of the funniest things that MUST be documented (Airports are great for this). 

Till I blog again. 


Speak Much?

Well, hi there. It's Tuesday!

At least I think it's Tuesday, now that it's summer vacation I'm already starting to lose track of the days. But yes, looking at my handy-dandy calendar I can confidently confirm this fact. 

Today, I spent the majority of my time sending out query letters and for those of you who are not exactly familiar with these bad boys, no worries, I will inform you. A query letter is basically your resume for literary agents to review. In one page you must write a little bit about yourself and your publishing credentials (if you have any), a synopsis of your book, and possibly why that literary agency is the best one for you. It's a lot of work. Some agents request that you send sample pages and they'll specifically say how much they want, but the hard thing about that is that the first pages of my book aren't the most thrilling pages in the entire world and sometimes my book is judged solely by its first 5 pages. Take any book, read the first 5 pages, and I bet you it won't be the most riveting thing you've ever read. So, this is definitely tough. I sent about 6 query letters out today, so we shall see how this goes. 

Keep your fingers crossed please! Thanks friends. I appreciate it. 
I love the sheer awesome randomness of this picture!
I will explain the road to publication in future posts because today I have a different topic in mind: A misconception of writers or possibly just me. And I really just HAVE to address this issue because it has bothered me some in the past couple months. 


Close your eyes and imagine a refrigerator for me, will you? WAIT! Forget it! Don't close your eyes! If you close your eyes you won't be able to read the rest of what I want you to visualize. 

Yikes, that was close. 

Take two. Ok, so imagine a refrigerator. Imagine that you are about to get some water from this fridge. You press your glass against the water dispenser (is that the right word? dispenser? I think so.) and the water flows beautifully and easily out of it. When you press the cup against the ice dispenser, however, you'll find something different. The ice takes considerably longer to emerge. You hear it sort of grumbling at first before anything actually plops out and that's exactly what it does... it just "plops" out, totally ungraceful compared to it's liquid cousin Water. In addition to it's sad ungracefulness, the ice comes out in chunks and not proportional chunks. I mean sometimes you get one ice cube and then the next second four come out all at once. 

Ok you can stop imagining now. 

Here is what I am trying to get at guys, girls, aliens, Chuck Norris...
Water Dispenser = Amanda's Writing
Ice Dispenser = Amanda's Way of Speech

In conclusion, please be nice to me people. I do try my best, but sometimes I have so many ideas and things I want to say zipping around that brain of mine that it's hard to funnel everything into a coherent verbally pleasing form out my mouth. And yes, it's embarrassing, but oh well. Not going to dwell on it. I generally make fun of it to shake off my embarrassment, but heres the thing, I have time to edit and perfect my writing. I only have seconds (sometimes less) to get those words out my mouth. 

Watch this video, specifically near 0:35 and see that I'm not the only writer with this problem. 
Till I blog again!


Today is my main character's birthday. So... Happy Birthday Juna!

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Today I am going to make a shout out to my Papas. Here is what I wrote on my Facebook wall:
Many people claim to have the best DAD in the world, but few can admit to having the TWO BEST DADS in the world. My STEP-DAD and DAD have always been incredibly wonderful compassionate and hilarious people that I deeply admire. They've always encouraged me to chase after my dreams, to choose my own faith, to think on my own, and have ALWAYS REFUSED to instill the notion that I should settle for anything less than exceptional and for that I am eternally grateful. Thanks guys! You two have shaped me into the weird, creative, caring, (hopefully) funny, and outspoken individual that I am today. I love you both Steve Yancey & Michael A Truby!
I also wanted to share this link from JCPenny. I am extremely proud of them.

Till next time. 
I will actually get some writer stuff in soon, but I really wanted to post this today. 


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

13,000 ft of Pure AWESOME

Skydiving: the sport of jumping from an aircraft and performing acrobatic maneuvers in the air during free fall before landing by parachute.

Yes skittle-dee-doo that's what I did last Sunday!
And what do you know... I survived! I mean, yes, clearly I survived, otherwise the zombiefication process would currently be in affect.

But why skydiving Amanda? You may ask. 

Me: Well, why the heck not? I've only got one life to live and I want to live it well. Meaning I will safely and thoughtfully do some dangerous stuff...

Daredevil: a reckless person who enjoys doing dangerous things.

There you go. 

Here's the thing (Erika J.'s favorite saying), I've wanted to go skydiving since I was a little tater-tot--probably even dreamt about it during my dark and aqueous fetus days... but seriously now, the fact of the matter is I was born a daredevil... as my mother can (without any hesitation) attest to. 

Here is a small sample of my daredevilry:
  1. 9 months: Began walking. 
  2. 8 years old: Road my bike down insanely steep mountains of dirt. 
  3. Always did flips on the monkey bars during elementary school (sometimes without hands).
  4. Did backflips off the diving board.
  5. Loved jumping my horses over cross country courses. 
  6. Raced my thoroughbred up a hill bareback on a dare (couldn't pee for a week).
  7. Huge roller coaster and crazy-steep-wedgie-inducing water slide junkie. 
  8. Love trying to break the sound barrier on the ATV.
  9. Done acrobatics in an airplane with an open cockpit. 
  10. Donate blood even though I absolutely loathe needles with a fiery passion. 
  11. Backpacked across Italy, Switzerland, and Germany all by myself. 
  12. Went paragliding in Interlaken, Switzerland. 
The list goes on and on. 

At fourteen-years-old I asked my mom if I could go and she answered: On your eighteenth birthday. 
FOUR YEARS?????? I thought in bitter agony, that's like FOREVER! 

So, I patiently waited and waited and waited and waited. 
And guess what happened two years later?
Back surgery. 
Um, ouch. 
Yeah, that's what I thought too. 
But I knew that after two years of intense recovery I'd be fit to go ride a horse again as well as jump out of an airplane because as you (hopefully know) 16 + 2 = 18.
Well, I waited a year and four months and guess what happened?
2 of my 4 titanium screws cracked completely in half!
Mega ouch!
Your telling me. 
Had the second back surgery a whole freaking month before my 18th birthday. 
Skydiving was cancelled. 
Thus, I had to wait 2 more years. 
Very sad... but let me tell you something: IT WAS WELL WORTH THE WAIT!!!

Now, let's stop reminiscing about the past because the here and now is pretty dang sweet my friends. 

Some people were a slightly trepidations when I told them of my skydiving adventure. My response lies in this dorky video.

People, relax! I saw it in the witch's eye and that's not how I go (Bonus Points if you know what movie that comes from).

Here is a list of the MOST LIKELY WAYS OF DYING: 
  1. Heart Disease (Lifetime odds 1 in 5)
  2. Cancer (Lifetime odds 1 in 7)
  3. Stroke (Lifetime odds 1 in 24)
  4. Motor Vehicle Accident (1 in 84)
  5. Suicide (1 in 119)
  6. Falling (1 in 218)
  7. Firearm Assault (1 in 314)
  8. Pedestrian Accident (1 in 626)
  9. Drowning (1 in 1,008)
  10. Motorcycle Accident (1 in 1, 020) 
So, there you go. Some fun facts. By the way, #6 does not include falling out of the sky. (Yep, I know that's what you were thinking, you sneaky smart aleck.)

So, Saturday Mom, Mike, and I drove to Molalla, Oregon to go skydiving at Skydive Oregon. 

 We signed all the paperwork, which morbidly made me giggle (case in point: PARACHUTES DON'T ALWAYS WORK), and got some training in. We learned the proper body positions before, during, and after jumping out of the airplane and to put it mildly, I was excited, like smiling-so-wide-you'd-think-I-peed-my-pants-and-enjoyed-the-warmth-it-brought-me excited. But, unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating with us (clouds, clouds, and more freaking dastardly clouds) and we did not get to skydive that day. I was MAJORLY bummed out as you can probably imagine. 

So (I need to stop introducing my paragraph's with "so"), we got up early the next day and...
Holy crap!
Guess what we're doing today?
Yes skittle-dee-doo, we're goin' skydiving!

My madre and I suited up and met our tandem partners. Mom's, interestingly enough, was the guy who trained us the day before. My tandem buddy looked like a cross between a Cheeto Puff and Jesus. I hung out with two guys, actually, because I was getting pictures and a video taken. 

After I suited and geared up I went outside and Mike (my step-dad for those of you who don't know) and (dang it I forgot his name) the photographer dude took some pre-skydiving pictures.

Funny thing: Two of the guys that went skydiving with us had never ridden a plane before. 

My Smurf Suit!

Let's do this thing! 

Momma, Mikey, and Me.
Clearly, I am not aware that I am being photographed here...


Helmeting up! 
Jerry Seinfeld: "...Skydiving was definitely the scariest thing I've ever done. Let me ask you this question in regards to the skydiving: what is the point of the helmet in the skydiving? I mean, can you kinda make it? You jump out of that plane and that chute doesn't open, the helmet is now wearing youfor protection. Later on the helmet's talking with the other helmets going "It's a good thing that he was there or I would have hit the ground directly."

(Told you!) Cheeto Puff + Jesus = My Tandem Partner

Grin: smile broadly, esp. in an unrestrained manner and with mouth open. 


I was the last one to load the plane, which means... yeah buddy... first one out of it! 
We sat on these squishy blue balancing beams (at least that's what they looked like), while the plane took off from the runway. The Cheeto Puff Jesus Man began strapping me into him, so that I, thankfully, would not fall to my death.

The whole plane ride I was grinning like a madwoman and I was also kind of concerned... and probably not for the reason you think. You see, my heart rate was perfectly calm. I was ridiculously relaxed. More so than when I go donate blood. 
I know, and that's why I was concerned. 
Because I wasn't freaking out. My heart wasn't pounding out of control like I had hoped it would. Just beating a tad bit faster than it does in my physics class...

And I guess the reason is because I just let go of all my fears and had faith. I did this, too, when I went in to the operating room for my second surgery. I just relaxed because, honestly, fretting about it is only going to make the journey that much more painful. 

In the book that I'm currently working on getting published there is a scene where the protagonist, Juna, almost drowns as a young girl when a heavy cloth snags her foot and pulls her deep beneath the lake's surface. Her best friend, Max, ends up saving her life and becomes livid at her for panicking. He tells her: Panic is the enemy. You panic you die. 
Which is true. When you panic, you can't think, and bad things happen. 

And you definitely don't want to panic when skydiving...

That suit was quite comfy by the way. 




Pro Skydiver went first!

And of course... I forgot to slide my goggles on. 

Saw how high we were jumping and STILL my heart rate remained calm! 
Before we jumped out the Cheeto Puff Jesus Man asked me if I wanted to skydive (it's regulation) and I was like: HELL YES!!!!
So, we squatted by the plane's opening and I crossed my arms over my chest like I was trained and stared down at the ground. The whole time I was thinking: Let's go! Let's go! Let's do this!!!!
And then we jumped and the next thing I knew I was free falling at 120mph.

Here's the thing about free falling at that speed. There is a BRUTAL amount of air resistance. The first couple seconds I literally couldn't breathe. That freaked me out as you can probably imagine. I thought I might pass out. I forgot to breathe through my nose (I was trying to inhale through my mouth). But remember: Panic is the enemy. You panic you die. I cleared my thoughts and inhaled sharply through my nose. Eventually I got a hang of it.

As I was falling the Cheeto Puff Jesus Man tapped my back, meaning: You can put your arms out now.  I also made sure to arch my back and keep my legs bent. He also slid my goggles on. So kind.

In addition to remembering all that, I had to be on the lookout for Mr. Cameraman and appear entertained (I mean, don't get me wrong, I was, but I had to consciously make sure that my face portrayed that too). I screamed for the video's sake.

Skydiving was like nothing I've ever expected. I thought it would as exhilarating as a roller coaster. You know that feeling in the pit your stomach when you blast down that first hill? Yeah, well, I thought it would feel like that times 100, but it wasn't.

It was rather peaceful, however.

And I think it's because we were in equilibrium... (see I learned something in physics!)

It's funny because all these things I assumed to be crazy adrenaline rushes (ex: acrobatics in a plane, paragliding, skydiving, etc.) turn out to be surprisingly and utterly peaceful.

STRIPED SOCK!!! (Gift from Sara Hoffman)

Pretty shot! 

The Cheeto Puff Jesus Man and I made it!!!
We landed and no harm was done!!!
Before we landed I got to steer the parachute around which was both easy and a lot of fun.
I was laughing like crazy in the end.
I wanted to do it again and again and again!

Oddly enough, this song played in my head as I fell from the sky (slightly morbid if you think about it).

Later, I went home and had to do homework and if I thought physics homework was mundane before just imagine my thoughts after skydiving... yeah... it was brutal!!!

My left lung was hurting the rest of the day and I think it was due to the whole oh-crap-I-can't-breathe moment. But I was perfectly okay the next day.

If you are thinking about skydiving I TOTALLY RECOMMEND IT! And do it through Skydive Oregon too because they are both amazing and have a great reputation.

I am seriously considering getting my skydiving license. I would love to be a full-time author and part-time skydiving photographer. Now that's the life, my friend!

Okay, blog to you later!
A lot more frequently, too, I'm guessing since school is out!

Oh yes, and I will post my skydiving video as soon as I receive it in the mail.

Amanda Yancey: The Skydiver

I eventually found out their names which, coincidentally, are not the Cheeto Puff Jesus Man and Mr. Photographer Dude, but rather Pete and Brian. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Great Talks on Creativity

Here are some of my favorite TED talks on creativity and also teaching creative minds.

Elizabeth Gilbert:

Sir Ken Robinson:

Maggie Stiefvater: 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Hair = Cut

(Currently listening to: The Funeral by Bands of Horses)

The demon hair is cut my friends! And I must tell you that I feel fantastic right now. I can probably run a whole lot faster now and I feel like doing cartwheels I am THAT thrilled about my hair being chopped off. I still have my locks with me and am getting them ready to be sent off and made into a wig. YAY!