Tag Archives: Adam Swensen

A New Direction

You may have noticed a few subtle changes around The Author’s Apprentice lately. If not, I’m sure you’ll see what I’m talking about soon as the changes become less and less subtle over the next few days.  Here’s the deal: a few months ago, two of my very best friends, Adam Swensen and Adam Beckmeyer, and I decided to put our heads together and launch a collaborative blog as a way of staying close over the next semester.  They’re attending school in Washington state and Alabama respectively, so I’m thrilled to get the opportunity to interact with them so closely on this project.

We launched said project, Singular Spectrum, tonight over at http://singularspectrum.wordpress.com, and I’d encourage all of you to go check it out.  Both of the Adams are incredible guys with a lot of great things to say, and I think you’ll enjoy the unique flavor of the site (not to mention the spectacular posts we have lined up so far for our first week).  We’re going to be updating daily, each of us writing two posts a week, so be sure to check in regularly over the next few days to get a taste of the two Adams’ stellar writing.

That said, I figured that this would be the perfect opportunity to redefine the direction that I want to take with The Author’s Apprentice.  Ever since I tried PostADay the content on this blog has rapidly spiraled out of focus and into utter chaos.  As much fun as that chaos occasionally was, most of the time I found myself wondering how things had gotten so out of hand and how I could reign them back in again, and now I have the perfect chance.  So, over the next few days, I’ll be freshening up the look of the site, updating the About pages and categories and the like, and taking The Author’s Apprentice in a slightly new direction.  From here on out, most of my posts about everyday life, media reviews, or humor will go up on Singular Spectrum while The Author’s Apprentice will return to the roots of its namesake: posts about writing, story and character ideas, and ruminations about following the Author Himself and what I’ve learned from Him.

Once I have all of the changes in place, I’ll get right back to posting as soon as possible.  I’m aiming to update with my next regular post, an amazing interview that I had the privelege to conduct with my friend Tekaramity, on Wednesday evening, so don’t miss it.  Until then, show some love to the Adams over at Singular Spectrum and keep being awesome, my friends.

I’ll catch you on the (much tidier) flip side!

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Summer in Review Part 3: Soundtrack of the Summer

Last night I said that the three top activities of my summer were working, sleeping, and reading, but I neglected one important detail: through almost all of those activities (even sometimes during sleeping), I was listening to some kind of music.  From the boombox at work to worship in the chapel to my own MP3 library on breaks, music was a constant part of my life, and I loved it.  The variety was huge, but there were a few songs in particular that formed the soundtrack of my summer.  Some were silly, some were sweet, some were just plain awesome, but they all played a big part in making this summer the great time that it was.

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Interview with the Newton Part 2: Questions from Tek

I finally watched that Daniel Ingram interview (which was splendid, by the way), so now my subconscious seems to be content to sit in the corner humming the new Coldplay single and let me write in peace.  Hooray!  Now if I can just stay away from Hyperbole and a Half for more than fifteen minutes at a time…

Anyway, since I answered all those stellar questions from my friend Adam Swensen in yesterday’s post, I’m finishing off our little interview today with some equally inspired queries from the broniest of bronies, Tekaramity!  Let’s do this!

1. What do you hope to have accomplished by the end of your life? Yes, “God’s plan” is an answer, but I’m looking for a certain specificity. Have you established yet any goals you’ll be looking to reach long-term? Do you know yet what approaches, tools, talents, and allies you’ll need to reach those goals?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a best-selling author.  I still have a book bound in cardboard that I dictated to my mom when I was three years old.  It featured a brave knight and a princess and a baby named Penelrocker, and at the end I told her to write “look for more adventures of the prince and princess coming soon!”.  Sadly, that series was discontinued, but I held tightly to my love for  storytelling and my desire to be a famous writer.  As I matured, however, I realized that becoming famous is never an end, it’s a means,and if I were to gain all the fame in the world and use it as a means to make myself feel good then I would have utterly wasted my life.  In God’s hands, however, fame becomes such a powerful tool for influencing the culture, and as I caught the vision of how He could use me if I were both a best-selling author and a sold-out, fully-surrendered Christian I knew that that was what I wanted to pursue.  In many ways, I’d like to live a life much like that of John Green, a successful author who leverages his fame to, in his words, “decrease worldsuck and increase awesome”.  I want to proclaim the gospel, help the hurting, challenge the apathetic, and encourage the disheartened, and I want to use my passion for writing to do it.  I want to reach the world in big ways, and the only way I can do it is through perseverance, dedication, the support of my friends and family, and the power of my God.

2. Why do you write this blog? Put simply, why do you believe what you say matters to your reading audience? This isn’t a confrontational question, mind you, nor is it an assault on your writing or mindset therein. This is simply opening a venue that allows you to explain the blog’s purpose and the dedication driving it.

This is a question with which I’ve been wrestling for some time.  I started this blog as a place to post samples of my writing, and it’s slowly evolved over time into the eclectic mixture of posts that it is today.  Lately, I’ve really lost track of what exactly I’m trying to do here, and my writing has suffered as a result.  I’ve been overcritical, like if there’s any chance that someone might not like what I’m writing then it’s not good enough, and I end up spending hours writing stuff I don’t even like.  Finally, I sat down and thought about it for a while, and I realized that I’ve lost sight of why I started writing this blog.  I don’t write to impress anyone or to garner a lot of views or to become some kind of Internet celebrity.  I write to practice, I write to stretch myself creatively, and I write in the hopes that, by sharing my life and my experiences with others, I can bring them some measure of the encouragement or inspiration or laughter or guidance that God has given me.  This blog’s purpose is to brighten the day and nourish the soul of anyone who happens to stumble across it, and the best way that I know of to do that is to be myself and love God with all of my heart, and to let that come out in every post I write.

3. Suppose there exists someone you’ve personally known for quite a while (preferably much of your time alive) whose contributions into your life you really ought to acknowledge verbally more often. Acknowledge that individual, describe what that person has done for you, and explain what you hope you can do to return the investment. Be bold.

As it just so happens, someone like that really does exist, and his name is Pastor Derek Max.  Pastor Derek, I first came under your leadership as a cripplingly insecure Junior Higher.  I had almost no friends and even less confidence, but you saw that there was more to me, and you gave me the encouragement I needed to open up and overcome my shyness.  As I grew as a person and as a Christian you took time out of your life to study the Bible with me, to take me out to lunch and talk about life, to push me to reach for more.  Even when I couldn’t make it to youth group for two years in a row because of other responsibilities, you made it your mission to include me in your life.  I remember one year when I didn’t want to come to Fall Retreat.  You called me up at home and asked me why not, and you wouldn’t take any of my weak excuses.  That weekend turned out to be one of the most important of my high school years.  You gave me opportunities to use my gifts to serve the youth group, and you worked alongside me as I wrote and taught and offered me advice on how I could be better.  Your love and guidance have been fundamental in making me the man I am today, and I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever thanked you for it.  So let me say it now: thank you, Pastor Derek, for showing the love of Christ to a loner and helping him to become a leader.  I know that the only way I could adequately return your investment is to pay it forward, to invest myself in the lives of hurting youth and give to them the same gift of friendship that you’ve given so abundantly and selflessly to me.

4. Why is Photo Finish so amazing!? (I want lots of mature analysis on this one!)

One ridiculous accent + one pair of fantastic sunglasses + several quotable catchphrases + epic personal background music that follows her around everywhere = best secondary character of all time (sorry, Luna fans).
In layman’s terms, she has… DE MAGICKS!

And now, it’s time for me to sleep.  After all, tomorrow I have the thing at the place, and I don’t want to be late.  Thanks for the great questions, Tek and Adam!  I GO!

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Mind Dump – Pony Saturday and More!

Thanks to my friend Adam Swensen (he has a great blog, The Next Generation, you should definitely check it out) for inspiring me to write this mind dump post with his original mind dump post.  That said, this post is basically a bunch of things that I’d like to say that didn’t fit anywhere else, in no particular order.  Since this is all essentially off the top of my head, expect a lot of randomosity and the like.  Here we go!

-As you may or may not know, I have a deviantArt page.  If you knew about that, you probably know that I recently took up a challenge from Tekaramity to draw a pony version of myself in 48 hours.  I had a whole lot of fun drawing the picture, so today I drew two more ponies based on my brother Jonathan and my sister Christiana.  They wound up looking amazing, but since our dial-up is painfully slow, I can’t upload them to dA until Monday when I go to Lake Ann Camp, the promised land of milk and speedy Wi-Fi.  Still, I was so happy with the final product that I felt like telling someone, so there you go.

-I have discovered a substance more addictive than any drug.  They are called “Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips” and they will take over your life.  You’ll eat until your tongue is numb, but you’ll still want more.  Turn back now before it’s too late, don’t wind up like me.

-The Hub knows who we are!  They made a 30-second “Equestria Girls” promo for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic  a little while back (yes, it’s a parody of “California Girls” by Katy Perry, and yes, that is as great as it sounds).  The promo was written and produced by the MLP:FiM team and performed by the official singer for Pinkie Pie, and according to Equestria Daily they aired an extended version this very evening that included a direct shout-out to the bronies. The Hub even contacted Equestria Daily and sent them a copy of said extended promo in advance!  That’s right, the production team essentially made an official PMV with an original parody song, used the term “bronies” in it, contacted the main hub of brony activity on the Internet to let them know, then aired it on cable television.  There are no words for how stupendous that is, so I’ll just do a celebratory dance instead.  *Dances*.  In case you hadn’t guessed, I love this fandom.

-I am psyched beyond psyched to work in the kitchen at Lake Ann this summer with all of the amazing people there.  Two more days, and I finally get to see such stellar individuals as Adam Swensen, Megan Schuitema, Adam Beckmeyer, Scott Buchholz, Dan Hayton, and Chefy again, as well as many, many more.  My excitement cannot be contained in any container!

-I need more Salt and Vinegar chips.

-Oh, hey, remember that post where I asked people to ask me questions and I said I was going to make a vlog answering them?  It turns out that I’m not very good at making vlogs, so I’m going to answer those questions in a post instead sometime very soon.  There were some pretty amazing questions, so be on the lookout for that post.

-Speaking of videos and things I mentioned a long time ago and then never again, I’m almost finished with Project Reading a Book.  Again, I can’t post it until next week thanks to the serious lack of Interwebs at home base, but expect a fresh, shiny, Julian Smith/Twilight Sparkle PMV on YouTube early next week.

-Windows Movie Maker was created by an evil scientist bent on driving financially challenged video editors to the brink of insanity then attempting to control their severely weakened minds and take over the world.

-The ridiculous evilness of Movie Maker makes it all the more satisfying when you finally overcome its ridiculous evil and bend it to your will.  I feel like playing “We are the Champions” by Queen every time I successfully save part of my project.

-EVIL!

-Psych is one of the funniest shows ever written.  The only show that’s ever made me laugh more consistently is Corner Gas, may it rest in peace.  If those two shows were ever to meet, they would create an explosion of hilarity that would overcome the whole universe.

-My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius… no, wait, my name is Tim.  Never mind.

It’s probably time to wrap this post up before it spirals completely out of control.  After all, I need to vanquish some more evil and whatnot.  I’ll be back with one last post from dial-up land tomorrow, then it’s on to Lake Ann and a whole summer of PostADay awesomeness!  Much love to all of you, and thanks for reading The Author’s Apprentice and making my life more fun!

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In Which I Say Thank You a Lot

I was originally going to create a thank-you video on my YouTube channel to celebrate the 9,001st view here on my blog, but after spending about two hours on the project I realized two very important things:

1. I have absolutely no presence on film.  I am much more eloquent with writing than I am with speaking, and I couldn’t really communicate all of the gratefulness and love that I wanted to convey in that video.

2. Windows Live Movie Maker was either programmed by a team of drunk squirrels or a sadist bent on torturing video editors who can’t afford any other programs.  I was 85% finished with the editing and the program slowly began consuming all of my video files and turning them into clips of blackness and silence.

At this point I was just about ready to re-film the whole thing anyway in an attempt to make it more interesting and less unbearably long, so when that happened I decided to call the project off and do what I do best: write.  (On the bright side, I did manage to make a small “OVER 9000” tribute video yesterday.  You can see that here.)  9,000 views is a big milestone, and, to be honest, one I wasn’t expecting to reach in the foreseeable future, so I’ve got a lot of people to thank.  Let’s get started!

First, a huge thank you to my best friend Adam Swensen, the man responsible for my blog’s very existence.  It was he who, several thousand Internet-years ago in the summer of 2009, suggested that I might enjoy blogging.  He has a blog of his own, “The Next Generation”, where he posts inspirational and challenging articles about life and Christianity, I highly recommend giving it a read.  Adam, thank you for getting me interested in this whole blogging business and for being so encouraging and supportive throughout the first two and a half years. Also, thank you for being one of my closest friends in real life, and for never failing to brighten my day.  I love you, sir!

Next in line for a thank you is the inimitable Jay Lauser.  He and I met way back in the day, when my blog was called “Legend of the Dreamseers” and I used it primarily as a platform for promoting my fantasy writing.  Jay is a Christian fantasy writer as well, and when he found my work one day he left several encouraging comments and requested that I stop by and take a look at his blog, “Sir Emeth Mimetes”, sometime.  I did, it was (and still is) amazing, we kept in touch via comments and, later, via his amazing Holy Worlds Forums (if you’re a Christian and love sci-fi or fantasy you should really check those out), and we became good friends.  I haven’t been around Holy Worlds much lately because of the busyness of school, but I still do check Jay’s blog occasionally and I love his passion for God and his penchant for thinking deeply about life.  Thank you for encouraging me to keep going when my blog was still in its infancy, Jay, and for giving me so much useful feedback to help me improve as a writer.

On that note, thank you to everyone in the Holy Worlds community who has befriended me and read my blog over the years.  I know I won’t be able to name you all, but you know who you are.  You’ve been a great help and a big encouragement to me, and I thank you for that.

I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of the bronies who have stopped by over the past two months since I jumped on the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic bandwagon with my first Pony Saturday post, “Confound These Ponies”, in February.  Since then, that has become the single most popular post on my blog, receiving about thirty hits a day from Google searches and a few friendly folks who have been kind enough to spread the link in various forums and such.  While I know that you guys probably don’t keep up with the blog on any regular basis, your visits to my Pony Saturday posts make up over 1/6 of my first nine thousand views nevertheless, so you deserve my sincerest thanks.  You guys are easily the most friendly, welcoming, creative, and all-around wonderful fan community I’ve ever seen, and I consider it a privilege to be counted as one of you.  *Brohoof*.

There’s one person in particular that I need to single out from this group, and that is the incredible Tekaramity.  If you don’t recognize that name, you obviously haven’t been around here lately.  Tek commented on my first Pony Saturday post two months ago, and he’s become a welcome addition to the regular suspects around The Author’s Apprentice since then.  Shortly after his comment, we got in touch via email and grew to be close friends, and I’m truly grateful to have met him.  Tek, thank you for being a wonderful friend, a dependable brother in Christ, and a continual source of encouragement in my life.  Much love to you, brony!  (Also, for those of you who don’t know, Tek has a YouTube channel filled with top-notch Mario Paint Composer remixes of songs from Friendship is Magic that you should really go check out.  Seriously, it’s good stuff.)

Next, and by far the most important, I’m grateful to my incredible, supportive, beautiful, fantastic, loving family.  I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect group of people to which to belong, and I love you all more than I can express.  Dad, thank you for your encouraging and challenging comments, they always drive me to think deeper about the topics that I address.  You’re a true man of God and my role model as I grow up and head out into the world.  Mom, thank you for being such a source of joy in my life.  I love reading your cheerful comments and knowing that you’re keeping up with my writing from home.  To all three of my siblings, thank you for not just being my siblings, but my very best friends as well.  To be so close to all three of you even after you witnessed all of my quirks and faults growing up is, simply put, a far greater blessing than I deserve.  I can’t even begin to list all of the things for which you deserve my thanks, so I’ll just hit the highlights.  Andrew, thank you for reaching out to your little brother and being such a big part of my life.  Some of my greatest memories are the times that we spent together, and you’ve always been one of my biggest encouragements when it comes to writing.  Jonathan, thank you for being the best little brother a guy could have.  Growing up with you has been one of the most wonderful experiences of my life, and I consider it a privilege to continue being your friend even as we grow older and begin to head in separate directions.  I’ll never stop loving you, never stop missing you, and never stop making sure that you know it.  Christiana, thank you for loving me far and above what I deserve.  I smile for the rest of the day every time I get one of your letters, and whenever I come home I know that you’re going to be the first one to meet me in the driveway with your biggest hug and a dozen great stories about what I missed while I was gone.  I love all of you more than I can express, and if no one else read my blog but you I would keep writing just so that I had another way to keep in touch with you.

Finally, I’d like to thank every single one of you who has read my blog in the past two and a half years.  Whether you’re responsible for a large chunk of those views or just one, thank you for coming and making this blog the most fun experiment I’ve ever tried.  Dozens and dozens of wonderful stories have shaped the writing of this blog, and hundreds more have arisen from the friends I’ve met and the interactions I’ve had, and I owe it all to you.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping to make The Author’s Apprentice what it is today, and I look forward to another two and a half years of adventures with you.

And, of course, my greatest and most heartfelt thank you goes to the Author of my story and every other story in His creation.  God, 9000 views means absolutely nothing if you aren’t glorified by my writing.  Thank you for giving me this gift for the written word and for giving me this wonderful opportunity to use it, and thank you for writing my story so beautifully so far.  I can’t wait to see what you have written out for the next two and a half years.

My love goes out to all of you, and may God bless you,

– Timothy Newton

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Pathos: Adam Swensen

Earlier this week, my friend Adam Swensen interviewed me for a post on his blog, The Next Generation, the first in his new weekly series called “Fire-starters”.  I really caught onto his vision for the series, and with his permission I’ve decided to start a similar series of weekly posts here on The Author’s Apprentice called “Pathos” (Greek for “passion”) featuring interviews with Christians who want to be used by God in big ways.  This week, I interviewed none other than Adam Swensen, a teenager who is incredibly passionate about God, people, and justice.

The Author’s Apprentice: If you only had one day left to live, what would you do and why?

Adam Swensen: I think I would put out a blog and vlog stating my situation. I would tell everyone I could that I love them.  I would definitely hang out with my family.  I would pass on my blog to someone to continue writing.  I would definitely make sure everyone knows that I love them.

TAA: If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?

AS: I would definitely become friends with homeless people, former slaves, kids that think about suicide, and the kids with no friends.  I really can’t say that I have one way I want to change the world, but I would like to begin speaking and seeing our generation rise!

TAA: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why?

AS: I would definitely change my habit of procrastinating and wasting time.  Time wasting and procrastination are my worst enemies.  I wish I was more organized.  I have begun in the process of changing those things… lemme tell you, it is tough!

TAA: Who are your heroes and what about them inspires you?

AS: Zach Hunter and E.J. Swanson are my heroes.  When Zach was 12, he became aware that there are still slaves – 27 million to be exact. Well he didn’t just sit and weep for those 27 million.  He went out and did something.  Through the course of events, he became the global spokesperson for Amazing Change, an organization founded through the movie Amazing Grace.  He started a student campaign called Loose Change to Loosen Chains.  It is student-run, and exists as a money raiser for organizations fighting slavery.  He has written 3 books (his first one when he was 15) and he is still a teen! That in itself is inspirational. He did all those things that ADULTS are doing, and he is just a teen! He is evidence God will use us if we are open to it.
E.J. Swanson is my adult hero.  He is a nationally known speaker.  He has shared the stage with Big Daddy Weave, David Crowder Band, and many more and he is only 26!  The way he invests in teens is exactly how I want to.  He is very inspiring and encourages teens to do big things!

TAA: What do you want your life and ministry to look like in 5 years? 15 years? At the end of your life? What are you doing today to bring that about?

AS: In five years, I would like to have started speaking in churches all over and be used by God to MOVE my generation. In 15 years, I would like to see myself as a known author of several books, still glorifying God, and still being used by him! At the end of my life I want to be able to look back and KNOW I was used by God. As of right now, I am writing blogs, preaching whenever I can, and investing what I can into others.

TAA: What is your passion?

AS: My passion is to be used by the BIG God we have! When I die, I want to die KNOWING I stood for something, and I want people to see that!

TAA: What makes you angry?

AS: Social injustices make me angry. Whether it is unfairness at work, a guy disrespecting a girl, bullying, or slavery! I was born a sensitive person and can’t stand to see people go through stuff that is not right.

TAA: If everyone in the world gathered together to listen to you speak for five minutes, what would you say to them?

AS: I would tell the Christians to MOVE! I would tell them that we have the same power that rose Christ from the dead, we just need to use it! When we learn to use it, our lives will begin to be lived as more of what Christ lived! For the unbelievers, I would tell them they are loved and that there is a God who can’t stand for them to live without seeing Him! I would tell them that HE IS THEIR HOPE and nothing else will satisfy! I would hope that the Christians would also take that to heart.  I am seeing more and more Christians falling in to sex, drugs, and alcohol. WE HAVE THE LOVE OF GOD IN US!  He should and can satisfy us alone!

TAA: How can we pray for you?

AS: You can pray for me that I would be used by God and that I would be open to His will. I need direction as to what to do after high school. I also need prayer for the elimination of my time wasting and procrastination habits!

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So Many Ones…

I didn’t really realize that today was 1/11/11 until I went to write in our floor’s Dump Diary (don’t ask).  As I looked at all of those ones, however, I thought of how fitting that date is for the first Tuesday of the new semester.  A lot of firsts are flying by this week, many of them today.  From the first day of music class to the first Taco Tuesday in the SDR, today really is a day full of the number one, so I thought I’d celebrate it.  After all, soon the semester will begin to rush by, each week a variation on the same theme, so why  not relish the freshness of it all while it’s still fresh?  If we can’t celebrate everyday things like teachers, textbooks, and tacos, we’re missing out on life, because life is meant to be relished, not rushed.  Routine is the core of our existence, it holds our lives together, but it’s nothing without all of the little dips, bumps, curves, and quirks that make life real – and really fun.  So let’s celebrate 1/11/11 just because it’s a day full of ones.  Do we need a better reason?  I sure hope I never do.

What sort of firsts have come into your life lately?  And what little things are you celebrating today?  Let me know in the comments below, and have a great Unofficial National One Day!

Also, a small announcement: my good friend and ardent God-lover Adam Swensen interviewed me for his blog and wrote a wonderful article about it that you can find here: “The Next Generation: Firestarters”.  Go read it, let him know what you think, and be sure to check back to his blog often for more excellent posts from an inspiring young man.

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