A. L. Buehrer What I Write and Why

Monday, December 5, 2016

Seven things I learned from NaNoWriMo


This year was my first attempting National Novel Writing Month’s great 50k words in 30 days challenge. I’ve been hanging around on the sidelines wondering if I have what it takes for several years now, and abruptly—here in the middle of my senior year of college—I decided it was my time.

  And I did it. I actually surpassed 52k on November 30th, claiming my official win plus. My odds actually hadn’t been that great. If I was like a lot of participants, attempting their first novel, I doubt that I could have done it. But even if I hadn’t been able to pull it off, I think it would have been well worth the try, because doing something that extreme teaches you things.

  So, without further ado, here’s what I learned on the front lines of NaNoWriMo.

1.    I learned how to save images I edited in Photoshop so that the internet would acknowledge their existence. Big revelation. I figured out how to do this when saving my cover image for my NaNo novel. You “save for the web.” Never would have thought of that. Ha. I’m so techno-savvy.  But I’m glad I got this figured out, so now I can edit title images for this blog, and stick them on Pinterest and stuff. Better late than never.


2.    Better late than never. That’s something else I learned. I was 10k words behind up until Thanksgiving break. I kept seeing people on the forums freaking out over being 2k behind, or so. I gritted my teeth and caught up suddenly in the home stretch. It was totally possible!


3.    Along the same lines, I discovered the hidden true moral of “The Tortoise and the Hare.” We were supposed to win NaNo by way of the tortoise’s strategy. Just one foot in front of the other, 1,667 words a day. But if you look at my chart of daily word count throughout the month, you see that’s not what I did at all. There were about ten days where I hit and exceeded the target word-count. I worked in hare-like sprints. Guys, the only reason the hare lost the race was because he fell asleep. Therefore, the true moral of the story was: no sleeping.


4.    Stopwatches are better than timers. This is a crazy fact that I discovered, and it may quite possibly be only true for me. When I set a thirty-minute timer, I was lucky to get 500 words down in that time. I thought that was my limit. Then I set a stopwatch. When I hit 500 words, I stopped it--always between 15 and 12 minutes. Crazy.


5.    All dialogue should be argumentative underneath. This keeps it from getting boring and loosing connection with the plot. If there’s always some sort of conflict of interests underneath the conversation, it becomes a lot more logical, and easier to know what the character should say next. Even if the conflict is very small and petty, it’s going to help.


6.    Collapsing bridges and crashing helicopters are good things. I think this is self-explanatory. I mean, everybody knows this, right?


7.    And lastly, writing is not supposed to be as serious as we try to make it all the time. I wrote this novel to prove that to myself once and for all. We novelists spend so much time agonizing over unattainable perfection. I’m done trying to take myself so seriously. We have one of the most fun occupations in the world. It’s time to cut loose and enjoy it.



One more thing before I go. Here is the cover of my NaNo project. It’s never going to be published. I mean, it’s written from the perspective of my childhood imaginary enemy. I’m in it as a character and mentioned by name, and portrayed in a rather negative light, I must say. I needed to write a piece of literature with absolutely no pressure hanging over it, so that’s what I did.

  But now, back to reality. I’ve got to try to attain perfection with the draft of a dystopian novel I’ve got scheduled for release in February 2017.

  Serious business. 


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Introducing "The Art of Lightplay"

  I’ve finished the first draft of a new novel. This novel is a bit of a land-mark, being about thirty-thousand words longer than my previous record-holder, “End of the Saros.” I can’t remember when I started it—I don’t keep track of dates, but I know it didn’t actually feel like it took forever—which is probably a good sign.


  Here’s a quick run-down of the stats of “The Art of Lightplay” as of now.

  Length: 139,826 words

  Genre: Hard to say. Gothic/alternative reality/fantasy/sci-fi…?

  Audience: mostly Christian Young Adult

  Stage of production: first editing round

  Hopeful Release Time: September 2016


“The Art of Lightplay” Synopsis:

The only strange thing about Fiireah’s quiet island life seems to have finally settled in her past, until she goes to explore a deserted neighboring island and discovers that things are not always how they appear. There, three young recluses have set themselves apart from the world to devote their time to the study of a little-known ability on the razor-edge of science—the art of lightplay.

  As Fiireah joins them in their pursuit of lightplay’s use and meaning, she finds herself in the midst of a deeply personal controversy. When something terrible awakens from the past, sides must be taken—even with a dangerously incomplete understanding of what it all entails.


  I’ll be working on editing and polishing “Lightplay” extensively this month, before passing it to a few beta-readers for further input. It’s been a lot of fun, and I hope to produce something out-of-the-ordinary for you all sometime at the end of this summer. We’ll see how it goes.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Author Interveiw at However Improbable

  Hey, guess what? I got to do an interview on another writer’s blog. Many thanks to Jack at However Improbable for hosting me! Here’s the link. Check it out.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Interveiw With Valhalse Coharnah, antagonist of The Stardrift Trilogy

Sorry for the pause. That was for suspense, of course. Very calculated. Now, here's what you've been waiting for: an interview with the villain.


What is your goal as the ruler of Divizah?


My aspirations change with the wind. I’ve told some people I would resurrect theocracy—only partially in jest. I used to be such a romantic. I would do anything if I would be worshipped for it. But after a while I realized that gods are all too often manipulated by those who take a more underhanded approach. I don’t know what I want right now, besides possibly to shake off certain political shackles—alliances, that’s what they call them—that keep Divizah so pitifully domesticated.  


How do you see yourself?


I…I’m not sure. It depends very much on perspective. Much of what I’ve been through has stayed with me. I see myself through the eyes of those around me sometimes. I used to try to see that way more often, but I grew to hate it. I hate what other people see, but I could care less if they continue to see it. People’s opinions don’t matter at all.



What is your take on humanity in general?


Humanity is ultimately tragic. So many people die chasing after something unattainable, impermanent, or altogether imaginary. A waste of lives. A waste of passion. I’ve tried reasoning with them. They don’t listen. Masses only trust their emotions—particularly their fear.




What is your greatest fear?


Fear? What would I be afraid of? I couldn’t say I have any fears…it wouldn’t be good for public relations. Everything’s alright most of the time. I used to think more about…things when I was younger, when I had just taken my position as sovereign. I’ve been trying not to brood so much lately. There isn’t any sense in worrying about it anymore…but I didn’t use to wake up in the night, like I do now.


Have you ever done anything you were ashamed of?


Shame very often comes from acting without weighing the consequences. I struggle with an internal discord between very passionate emotions and a need for a very strong strategy. You have to be extremely cautious as a Divizin sovereign. You live a public life and are constrained to meet rigorous expectations. Tiny mistakes still pile up in time, though. I’m both ashamed of everything and of nothing I’ve ever done.


From what do you derive satisfaction?


Nothing! No, I guess there must be something…some small thing. I like it when I walk into a room and I can feel a surge of awe run through everyone there. I enjoy paralyzing someone who attempts to oppose me. I have it down to an art. All of my human interaction has become very nuanced and adapted to create the desired effect. A Divizin sovereign is no mere mortal and never truly satisfied until they cease to be treated as such. I also like breaking glass. It has a guaranteed shock effect every time.


Is the Universe chaos or a plotted design?


Oh, a beautiful design—plotted no doubt, for self-destruct from the beginning of time, but nonetheless beautiful. The streamlined perfection of the design has always intrigued and, in light of everything that’s happened, almost amused me somehow. I think I’m beginning to understand now. With all the stardust, and heroism, and DNA and tears, it was all meant as a joke, after all--a bitter, morbid joke for those of us who get it.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Interveiw with Dahskay Onlore, Main Character of The Stardrift Trilogy

Now things get fun. Today, I’m staging an interview with The Stardrift Trilogy’s main character, Dahskay Onlore. Dahskay Onlore is an apprenticed radio astronomer working as an intern at her father’s Observatory in the mountains on the planet of Finzar. In Earth-years, she would be about sixteen when the story starts.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about your job at the observatory?

For one thing, I love the setting. The Ematosk Mountains are beautiful, and the emotional climate at the observatory is so peaceful and contemplative most of the time. It’s kind of a vacation setting. Then there’s the whole astronomy aspect. I love our subject-matter. It’s all so huge and fantastical, and the fact that our sole purpose is to listen to what the heavenly bodies are saying…that’s cool. (Laughs.) If you can’t see how cool that is, I can’t help you.

  Things that aren’t as cool would be the boring technical things and the computer work. I don’t like technology very much. And then there’s the fact that you’re kind of isolated up there and stuck with the same bunch of people all the time. That sometimes gets old.


How do you choose who to hang out with?

Well, when you’re working, you don’t often get to choose, but during breaks and the off-time we get every four days, I prefer to be with my brothers. Otherwise there are several girls that live in my dorm who I like. I like good communicators, quiet people, people with interesting stories. Some of the other interns aren’t really going into astronomy, so there are some that I have to search around for common ground with. But for the most part, a lot of the people at the observatory share that interest. It’s nice to be with people who have a passion for what you love.


Do you find it easy to trust people, and get along?

Yeah, usually, I’d say I do. I like to see people in reference to their experiences and know them for who they are. A lot of people dismiss other people too easily as this or that, and walk away, or run away, accordingly. I try to be patient and learn about people, and try to assume the best of them. I found it really pays off.


Do you consider yourself a heroic person?

I don’t know…I guess it depends on how you define a hero. Standing up for what’s right under pressure and standing by the people you love are important, I guess. Those are things I try to do. I would be willing to do whatever I had to do to help people who needed me. Self-sacrifice and hope are probably the virtues that I would say define a hero. I want to be that strong, but I don’t know for sure if I am, right now.


Do you think individuals are important in the grand scheme of things?

Wow…big question. As an astronomer, you spend so much time in light of the giant realm we call the universe. Really, you would think that people and their individual struggles and achievements would shrink by comparison. Sometimes I wish they would. But yes, I think people are infinitely important--as important as the universe is huge. It’s a mistake to separate individuals from the grand design. Everyone’s an essential part of it.


Do you believe in a higher power?

Yes. I’ve always believed in God, but there’s something about astronomy, and space travel as well, that just keeps emphasizing it. You can’t feel alone out there. I don’t really like space travel, but, with all the comfort and familiarity stripped away, that’s when you really know that it isn’t just your personal culture, your hometown, your planet. You get out there tens of millions of miles from all that, and your head clears, and you know it’s not your imagination.


If you could send a message to everyone in the universe, what would you say?

I’d tell them to listen. Listening is so underrated. People don’t seem to have the curiosity or the imagination to search for what might be calling them. You never can know what your destiny is really meant to be. Mostly just because it’s so celestial, and so huge, you can’t take it in. But if you listen, you might get some hints of what’s coming for you. And it’s not something bound to your home planet. Your life was never meant to be that small.    

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Publishing Story

And what a long story it is. I started writing The Stardrift Trilogy way back in 2008. Back then, I wasn’t actually planning to publish. I didn’t expect anyone outside my family to read my story. I was fourteen then, so that seemed a little bit grandiose to me.

But here’s how I started my publishing adventures. For anybody who doesn’t know, there are three ways you can get a book published these days. You can try to sell it to a traditional publisher (traditional publishing), you can do the entire thing yourself (self-publishing), or you can buy the services of a publisher and keep the rights (subsidy-publishing.)

  I chose to subsidy publish a bit rashly, I suppose. I found a subsidy-publisher called Westbow Press that would produce my books and distribute them in four months—that was about two years ago. There were really two reasons I chose to subsidy-publish: it was faster than traditional, and I doubted that I could market my books successfully to a traditional press.

So what happened to the four months? A number of things. When I decided to publish, I had already written the whole trilogy. To cut expenses, I intended to have all three books produced as a single volume. So, when I submitted them to Westbow, the three were one document.

The books passed content evaluation, meaning they found no copyrighted material, nothing that was against their publishing standards, and that the manuscript was legible. But there was a problem: they didn’t have the equipment to bind a novel that thick. So, I had to divide the document into two volumes, and re-submit it.

  At this point, I think there was some kind of miscommunication, because they thought they had to run the whole evaluation over again, even though they had already seen everything the first time through. This set the time back again, and to make matters worse (and very confusing) it didn’t pass the second time.

Turns out Westbow, in the middle of my project, decided to tighten up their standards of violence in the books they produced—cutting it down to about a PG, or possibly even G level. There is some blood and violence in the trilogy, and after struggling with attempts at down-playing it in revision, I realized I couldn’t reduce it any further without disfiguring the story.

  So, we pulled out and went over to the secular Abbott Press. But time was set back again. We picked slowly through the process with multiple strange little setbacks. But, at long last, the project was finished.

  That was my rather awkward break into the publishing world. I’m eyeing out both self-publishing options and a small Christian traditional press called Enclave Press for my up-coming novels. My hope is to start to establish myself with the Stardrift Trilogy. If you have any interest, check out “books” page on this blog, or simply search for The Stardrift Trilogy by A. L. Buehrer on Amazon, Barns and Nobel, or the Abbott Press Bookstore.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Well, The Stardrift Trilogy is now available to the public. Spread the news. You can buy the books on Amazon Barnes &Noble, and on Abbott Press Bookstore. Read it, review it, enjoy it if you can! Seven years in the making, and it's finally here!!!