New Position: Poetry Reader!

It is with great excitement and a sense of honor that I announce that I was chosen to come aboard Persephone’s Daughters as a staff poetry reader recently. The mission of this particular publication is near and dear to my heart, and I can’t wait to immerse myself in being a part of it.

While that does mean that I have taken on new responsibilities and have new deadlines to meet, it doesn’t mean that I’ve given up writing myself. I hope you would be patient with me in this time of transition (new position, preparing for marriage, new house, novel coming out soon under different alias). Trust me, I have plenty poems left in me yet! 

But I am excited now to set some time aside to encourage other writers as I have been encouraged, and to lift up the voices of other very important perspectives! 

Guest Post: Writing Helps Me Be Me

Today’s guest post comes from Christopher Schmitz, a blogger and author of both fiction and non-fiction, mostly in the Christian realm, about his journey with writing and what it has revealed to him:


Writing has always been a part of who I am. I know. That sounds trite. But for people who are writers it’s a fundamental truth.

As I neared completion on my first fiction novel (The Kakos Realm: Grinden Proselyte, a Christian fantasy novel much like an evangelical version of Game of Thrones… soon to be republished this fall,) back in 2005 I found myself fired from a church I pastored when a mini-coup formed as I was on vacation. It was the darkest period of my life: for the first time since my angsty teen years my mind had turned dark enough to consider killing myself. It was seriously bad. I learned in that time that the emotional trauma of the sort I went through (primary male worker/bread-winner) was similar to a woman having a late-term miscarriage. That explained the emotional distress… but an explanation does not necessarily bring healing.

While I worked towards finding healing and bringing balance to my life with some ministerial volunteer work and a secular job I felt as if I operated in a haze of life. This period lasted for a long time as I struggled to rediscover exactly who I was and find my own self-worth. As an author, I began to write. I began to understand who I was—what I had gone through—and how I still had so much to contribute. Writing reconnected me to my soul.

Years later I accepted a position at one of the top ten largest churches in North Dakota (I don’t want to share beyond that and contribute any negativity to them—I just want to reinforce that discovering myself led me to a fairly prominent place.) Despite successful ministry, I endured another church coup—this time against my mentor/boss/ministry-partner/senior-pastor. A minority within the church board, through some shady moves, expelled my pastor. It was all very traumatic.

Because of what I had endured previously, I quite honestly laughed when that group turned its attention to me, next. I knew how low I could be brought and what I could endure. It didn’t make it less painful, but the sense of darkness and the loss of my identity didn’t happen to me. I knew myself.

While I had previously been an author of fiction, with a few essays as exceptions, I still needed to vent the stress. I needed catharsis, and so I picked up my pen and wrote a scathing essay about the corporate sin we’d just engaged in and sent it to a huge swath of people—those in church and ministry officials across the state. I was largely condemned and publicly chastised by a denominational executives the following Sunday. Those scolding me in front of the coup leaders turned aside and gave me an atta-boy behind their backs, knowing that some things need saying, but can only be said by martyrs.

What followed my departure was a ravenous descent into data and research. I started writing. As I inserted my personal experience, as told through story, the walls between fiction and nonfiction began to break down. Because I had internalized so much of the research in the hunt for answers to all the questions the situation had raised, it flowed as easy as the fiction I’d crafted for years.

The earliest draft, which was written over the shortest interval I’ve ever completed a book over, was very angry: this was raw catharsis, after all. It was a long process as I expelled the anger and vitriol and got to the heart of the matter and rediscovered ME through the methodology. Editing (much less enjoyable) allowed me to grapple with it all, refine it, and cope with and release the anger. In essence: writing helps me be me again.

The resulting book was titled Why Your Pastor Left. The whole process resulted in the desire to write both nonfiction AND fiction.

Christopher Schmitz






Christopher D Schmitz is an author of fiction and nonfiction as well as a regular blogger. As a veteran youth worker who works with “at risk teens,” he has been with Youth For Christ since 2012.

Away for the Weekend

This weekend I will be away at a marriage prep retreat through my church with my fiance, and so am taking the time off from the blog to prepare. I would also like to use this space to ask for prayers for my fiance and me as we enter in to this period of serious discernment leading up to the wedding at the end of the year. We could use all of your well-wishes and support!

Things I Do To Stay Sane: Push Myself

Last week, I did something crazy: I tried out for a musical. Now, I haven’t been in a musical since I graduated college three years ago (split-role of Narrator from Joesph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat). Before that, I hadn’t really been active in theatre since I was taking classes at the Academy of Theatre Arts in middle school. I love theatre, but circumstances in high school had discouraged me from pursuing it, so I had essentially let that dream die in the water.

Recently, however, I had been showing my fiance the things about theatre I had learned. The things I loved about theatre. He suggested that I should start doing them again. I had laughed at him: who would take me seriously? I might still be able to sing, but I hadn’t done acting classes since I was twelve.

Fast forward to last week. A local  theatre announced that it was holding open auditions for American Idiot. I haven’t ever seen the musical, but I love the CD and I liked the general story. Even better, they were considering females for one of the traditionally male leads. At first, I simply dreamed about what it would feel like to go to the auditions. And then I mentioned it to my mum, off-handedly. She suggested that I go for it. My fiance started picking out songs.

So I thought “What the heck?” and went for it. I chose ‘Disenchanted’ by My Chemical Romance as my audition song, and practiced it with a YouTube video of a piano accompaniment until I literally almost lost my voice (thank you, Throat Coat!). And, heart hammering in my chest, I went to the auditions Friday night. I tried out with four other girls- sang my song, danced a wicked cool dance combination, and then went home.

I woke up the next morning the to e-mail: I had been invited to callbacks, being considered for the traditionally male lead. I’d proven myself wrong- they’d taken me seriously. I had a full day to prepare for the callbacks and take this shot at getting myself back into theatre.

Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a fairy-tale ending. Come callbacks that Sunday, I ended up losing my place in the duet song and botched it horribly (my own reason for why I feel I deserved to get cut earlier on in the callbacks, there are a million of other reasons that I might have missed). Casting went out, and there was no role for me. I was disappointed in myself for messing up and ruining my own chances for going further. I ended up in an almost three-day funk because I had been so close to that dream again, and again was not good enough.

But the thing about this whole episode that keeps me sane, that makes me a better person and writer, isn’t the whether or not I got into the musical. It was the lesson that I needed to take myself seriously to have other people do the same. It was the lesson that I can still do things spontaneously. That I was good enough for a second look just as I am. Maybe if I worked at it more, who knows? I could try out again. Maybe get into the next one. Or maybe I take this lesson with me when I try to contact book stores for readings, or English classes for guest-lessons. Maybe I allow it to be just another one of those experiences that make up the vast library of experiences that I can put into my writing, both poetry and fiction. Maybe I take away the fact that I had an entire horde of people willing to support me, believe in me and back me up no matter what the outcome of the auditions.

New experiences don’t have to have one goal in mind for them to be considered good for us. We don’t have to complete things the way we wanted to. We don’t have to win for them to become another part that brings us to a more complete whole. That audition has become a part of who I am now, and propels me forward with what I’ll do tomorrow. What kind of decisions I’ll make. What kind of risks I’ll take.

So go for the new experiences. Even if you feel ridiculous. Even if you feel like people won’t take you seriously, or that you aren’t good enough to come in first place or do the experience ‘right’.

What new things have you been wanting to experience lately? What has been holding you back?

New Tattoo: Gerard Manley Hopkins

On the first of this month, I ended up getting my fifth tattoo. It’s a quote from a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem (my first poetry tattoo!), called “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”. The poem itself is about vocation- about that place where our deepest desires meet the deep need of the world.


For me, this is a huge reminder to have on myself. I placed it close to my heart because it is something that I need to be reminded of every day- that I am what I do, and what I say and what I feel- not what others have done to me, or what evil they have brought into my life, or what other people think or say about me. I am also what I do, meaning that I have a duty to be active in living out my vocation in the world. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and no one will know the good in my heart, the passion in my heart, the God in my heart, if I do not make a conscious choice to do so, every day. And for that I came- not for the purpose of being successful, or being the most holy, or saving every person I meet or even being happy. I came to ‘do’ that which is ‘me’- to be the Self that God made to the best of my ability. He only made one me, and I’m not going to waste His gift by being someone else.

So in honor of all that, here is the poem in it’s entirety: (I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!)

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.


I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.


Slipping off the Grid

When I knew I was going to commit to getting back into my blog writing this week, I hadn’t realized just how much I had neglected ‘The Amber of the Moment’. It’s been since the end of January- two whole months have gone by without a single post. I must sound like a bit of a broken record because I get into this cycle of posting-religiously to posting-never to promising-to-post and back again. But that’s life. Sometimes my writing gets stale, and I need to take a break. Sometimes real-life things get in the way and I get laser focused on them and can’t really see the big picture of all the things I’m letting fall by the wayside.

These past couple of months have been a huge buckling-down for me. My fiance and I managed to buy our very first house, closing on it on Valentine’s Day weekend 8d40d063-c389-40f3-9254-4e2c1d0ce052after a whole bunch of hoopla (almost losing the house, switching lenders, stuff with concessions, just a mess). I have an issue with houses that are asylum-white, so the next couple weekends were spent, every day, just painting the house. And then came the housewarming party. And the weekend of de-stressing afterward from so much work in so little time. And then Easter.

Now the house still isn’t fully painted (got two bathrooms, spare rooms and a laundry room to go), and a bunch of home improvement projects are piling up on to the list. And now that we’ve finished the push with setting up the house, we’ve got to settle down on getting a lot of our marriage prep stuff finished (meeting the photographer, beginning our mentoring sessions, meeting with clergy to begin paperwork, etc.) So I can’t promise that I won’t find myself distracted by life anymore.

I think I’m finally coming to terms with that. That I can plan all I want, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to be capable of following through. And that’s okay. Life can get in the way and it should because it’s important. I want to always be able to say ‘alright, now that I’ve finished this task I can be a real writer and keep a real schedule like the big names do’. And there is a point where I can’t just give up on these kinds of tasks because in the long run it is important to me. You all are important to me. Writing is important to me.

But I don’t need to beat myself up when things get a little jumbled up. When I slip off the track. All I can do is shrug and try to do better next time, knowing that ‘better’ is always just doing my best and attempting to discern between real-life challenges and recurring excuses not to do what needs to be done. It’ll be a life journey, for sure. Thank you for sticking through it with me.

Any big changes for you lately, readers?

Four Star Review: ‘A Rather Beguiling Find’

Here’s a new four-star review of Drunk Dialing the Divine from Shane on Goodreads:

A rather beguiling find, a book I sculpted and stained into a peculiar shape and grotty hue , by carrying everywhere. The poems are an interesting exploration of youthful ,wounded humaness and religious certainty/ uncertainity -which becomes fresh when filtered through the eyes of someone wilfully distinctive in her abrasive dialoguing and defense of seemly fading traditions, and thought patterns, all mingled with unresolved deep human aches.

I’m honored by your reflection, Shane. Thank you for carrying my words with you everywhere- it means a lot.


Want to read what he’s talking about? Catch your copy of Drunk Dialing the Divine today!

Acquisition Notice: Devozine

It seems like forever since I’ve had one of these, huh? But I am pleased to announce that my poem, ‘In the Whisper’ has been selected for publication in the July/August 2016 issue of devozine.  This will be the third time I have been published in The Upper Room’s devotional magazine for youth, and I couldn’t feel more honored.

Happy New Year: 2016 Resolutions

I’m actually pretty proud of how this year went. It might not have been a banner year for publishing or submitting (only one poem for an entire year, really?), it was a good year for personal growth and moving forward with my life. I was able to stick to my resolution of posting more, and I ended up losing forty pounds since the beginning of my weight loss journey. I didn’t beat my Goodreads goal this year- with more things going on in my life, I wasn’t even able to match the amount of poetry and religious books that I read last year. I am happy to note that I am under contract for a house, so I will end up getting my own place this next year (fingers crossed). A mixed bag of what resolutions I was able to keep, exceed and outright failed, but I think I came out with a net positive for the year.

So for this next year:

  1. Marry my best friend
  2. Submit at least one work per month for publishing
  3. Set aside a day each week for writing/editing poetry. No other writing work allowed.
  4. Keep doing good with blogging.
  5. Maintain my weight for the wedding.

How did you do with your resolutions in 2015? What are your new ones this year?

Merry Christmas!

Today I’m going to a screening of the new Star Wars with the fiance, and then this week begins my week-long vacation from work for the holidays. I’m going to enjoy this little breath of fresh air, and I hope that you and yours are able to sit back and enjoy each other this holiday season as well. I’ll see you again in 2016, fresh with new New Year’s resolutions for myself. Merry Christmas!