A. L. Buehrer What I Write and Why

Monday, July 16, 2018

Review of Akrad's Children

I felt I should take a break from promoting Dronefall and share a review of a recent read.
What? I get assigned a random book to read and review by an indie author I’ve never heard of, in a genre that often disappoints me and I…actually kind of liked it? What sorcery is this? It’s notoriously hard to entertain me with fiction. I was surprised how much I appreciated this book, even in spite of it’s flaws.

Things I Liked:

·         Dinnis The main character grew on me over the course of the book. Though honestly, I knew in the prologue that I was going to like him. Throughout part one, he was rather difficult to connect with, but things really picked up in part two, when his struggled become defined and his personality develops. Dinnis is quiet and has a bit of an edge. He has a lot of emotional reserve, and the author does a great job portraying that without judging it, which I really like. He’s resourceful, independent, and clever at getting what he wants in spite of odds and authorities that oppose him. He’s curious, creative, and intelligent, and loves his sister in spite of how hard she is to deal with and how little she returns his affection most of the time. It’s a rare thing, and a very good thing, when a character can make choices, good or bad, and I find myself saying “Yeah, that’s probably what I would do.” Dinnis was impressively relatable.

·         Sensory detail The author doesn’t skimp on detailing and fleshing out her scenes with all five senses. It made for a very immersive experience. All the sights, sounds, and notably smells of this story plunge you into the world like many books fail to. It made the characters and setting all the more vivid. If you want a book to transport you to a whole new world, try this one.

·         The story-world The South-American feel of this story-world was refreshingly unique. The settings were sweeping and often very beautiful. I enjoyed the different races and how well they were described. The culture, the costumes, animals, the food—it was all there to explore. I’d like to go there.

·         The royal intrigue I didn’t realize I was a fan of royal intrigue, but I’m starting to think I am. I like secret plots and the subtext that it lends relationships in the story. There are some good twists in here—or at least, they are twists for some of the characters involved. This author did a good job making the reader feel the shock of discoveries as they hit the characters, even if the reader already knew.

Things I didn’t like:

·         Some boring character tropes Akrad is kind of a moustache-twirler eeevil sorcerer type. (Not that I didn’t kind of like him anyway.) Dinnis’ sister is kind of a typical bossy little sister/proud princess/power-hungry type. There were a couple of side characters who I sort of rolled my eyes at. (Bitjarnan in particular…ugh, I can’t stand those kinds of characters.) But it wasn’t enough to bother me too much. You’re almost bound to have a few of those in high-fantasy.

·         Kids don’t always feel their age This was mainly an issue in Part one. Sometimes the children didn’t talk like children at all. It wasn’t constant, but it really stood out to me when it happened. It also felt a little weird for Dinnis to be so fascinated by Rasal at his. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be romantic, but it kind of came across that way, and I think he was eleven…I certainly didn’t have those sorts of feelings at eleven, but maybe I’m weird. This problem disappeared when the children grew into it a bit.

·         Presentation There were quiet a few typos throughout this book. I wanted to fix them. Typos aren’t a big problem for me, I know what it’s like to be indie and to read indie, but there was sort of a lot. I think the author could have caught most of them herself had she simply had her computer read it aloud to her. I do that. It really helps. Also, I might never have picked this book up judging by the cover. The writing is much higher quality than the cover art.

Things I thought were weird:

·         Yarmas So, most animals were real animals referred to by their English names, but yarmas were a mystery. I think they’re llamas, but they could be sheep, goats, or yacks.

Overall, I recommend this book for YA fantasy fans in the mood for a clean, detailed story of royal intrigue set in a vivid story-world. It’s an experience.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Excerpt from Dronefall Chapter One

I have something for you all. If you read the title of this post, you probably know what it is, so I won't tell you.
Here, you can read it.

As long as people jumped off trains, there would be hope for the world. 

 They called the Trans-Pest Express “The Blindworm.” It was really an enormous system of trains synced together in a network that spanned the entire province. They were fast, clean, and regular to the second in almost any weather conditions. No one operated them. They were completely automated. Daily routes stopped at all the right places at all the right times to fit the schedules of all the right people. But not everyone could be right, and ever since she first got her chance, Halcyon Slavic did everything wrong.  

  For example, she jumped off trains.   

  “The train will be stopping at station seventeen in approximately three minutes,” said no one, a disembodied male voice from a speaker’s grille in the ceiling. The passengers were already standing in the aisle, fluorescent blueish light burning down on the napes of their necks. At the back of the car, a young woman with dark hair and a thin, weaselish face sat with her back against the window and her legs crossed over the other two seats on her bench. She pulled back the torn sleeve of her sweater and checked the GPS on her wristband.   

  This was the best time. Not only were they approaching the prime location to jump— uphill, as the train began to slow—but everyone else had gathered away from the emergency hatch. She got up, flipping her hair over her shoulders. At this point in her life, she was more than familiar with the little idiosyncrasies of alternative exits. Dull light glowed in the socket of a switch at the top of the hatch. She stood on her toes and jammed the sensor so her exit wouldn’t trigger the emergency breaking system. The electronics were too easily fooled. Surely, if society hadn’t accepted this behavior, they would have upgraded by now. Why should she get off at the station and be tangled in the matted crowd when she could walk from here to her apartment in minutes? Especially after today.   

  A high tone sounded. Her eyes anchored on a lever beside the doors. She pulled it and the hatch slid open, dragging in a warm foggy wind.   

  She looked over her shoulder and down the smooth quiet aisle at the huddled commuters. They stood, heads hanging over their smartbands and Tarot phones, flickers of light changing in their eyes. Halcyon had seen some of them before. The woman with the scar on her chin was familiar. The thin, unshaved man with the prominent eyes was almost always on the same trains she rode, it seemed. Maybe she would see them again after tonight, maybe not.   

  The wind whipped through her hair in cloudy gasps as she edged out onto the running board on the train’s chromed exterior. Dew condensed on her hands, making them slippery on the bar beside the hatch. She squinted through the engine’s white breath at the dark ditches alongside the rails. Twilight lay heavy over the city. In a minute or two they would coast into the light-soaked residential area. There would be people everywhere, not watching out for train-jumpers.  

  She kicked off the running board, propelling herself far from the slithering train. The wind thundered in her ears and she landed on her side on uneven ground, rolling down into the ditch. Flinging out her hands, she caught herself and crouched on the gritty ground. That had hurt this time. Her disheveled hair tangled around her neck and lashed over half her vision. Sandy mud darkened the over-long sleeves of her sweater. The express glided by, steam roiling and snarling. In a few seconds, it disappeared in the fog, leaving its hissing wail to hang in its contrail until the whisper of rain washed it away.   

  Halcyon got up and scowled at the glow of the city down the glimmering tracks, pulling her sandy hand through her hair. On some nights she would lie awake and listen to the city. She didn’t know what the noise was, but it was always there, resonating into the sky, as if the world still hadn’t quite given up on the hope of being heard someday. Tonight it was loud. It was louder in the direction of the frozen fireflies that were the warning-lights for station seventeen in the middle of the residential area. Wiping her hands on her thighs, Halcyon climbed up the outside of the ditch and headed into the quieter part of the neighborhood.  

  As soon as she was on level ground, her gaze swept skyward. If only there was some way she could alter her pattern—take a different train or something. But then again, a change like that could set something off. Anyone else might have gone on with their life from day to day and never noticed, but Halcyon saw drones differently than the others on the street. She could recognize individual drones better than she could recognize individual people. But chances were the drone that had shadowed her for the past five days was better with faces than she was.  

  A cold raindrop grazed her cheek. Her eyes focused beyond the pacing lights in the layer of relatively clear air fifteen to twenty meters over the street. A canopy of twisting fog always gathered this time of night, above what was commonly called “the buzz level.” It wasn’t possible to see what the real sky-conditions were high above. Somewhere up there, it was raining.  

  Halcyon cut across the human current streaming inward toward the shifting neon and floodlights of the residential area. She dodged the blind commuters and looked up again. The buzz level was a river of LED lights. Half by accident, Halcyon had taught herself the configurations. Even in the uncertain lighting she recognized them flashing through the smog around the ornate ancient architecture of Buda.   

  Police and emergency UAVs were heavily lighted and outfitted with glaring strobes. They barreled across the ceiling of the buzz level—an altitude reserved for them in the city. She could pick out the regular square shape of a delivery drone moving swiftly and steadily through the more maneuverable traffic. Then there was a press drone on its way to tomorrow morning’s story. Photographer drones were stable, complex, and often “headless,” meaning at any time they could change their orientation and any side could become the front. For that reason, they didn’t typically have red and green lights indicating port and starboard.  

  Then there were the numerous cheaper models available to the public: Bi-Props with their two white-hot visibility lights, Owlets with their reflection-tape-lined foam wings and flashlight faces, clunky little quad-copters with blue and red LEDs on their arms. This was the usual crowd.    

  Her eyes roved through the buzz level once more as she approached the entryway of her apartment-complex. A triangular configuration ducked into a slower-moving stream of drones. She saw it turn end-over-end as it advanced down the channel between the buildings. An electrical tingle crawled up the side of her neck. She turned and the glass doors swept open in front of her.  

  She ground her molars together, striding into the low-lit lobby. Her eyes stayed on the floor as she approached the desk. The woman behind it stood with her back turned, facing the blank wall, talking to the tiny implant in her ear. Halcyon came up and leaned on the glass desk. “Bekka.” The woman turned and tapped a green dot under the surface of the desk. Halcyon pulled a microchip card out of her wristband and placed it on the screen that appeared. Numbers flashed on the surface for a moment. Bekka adjusted the tiny screen of light over her right eye, and turned away again, pupils contracted by the luminous images projected centimeters from her retina.   

  For a second Halcyon stood fingering her card and squinting at the woman’s back. She slipped the card into its slot in her wristband and walked to the stairway. When she got to the steps, she paused one more time to look over her shoulder. Bekka never did see her, she remained engaged with the blankness and the silence. Halcyon pressed her lips together and spun around, flying up the stairs.  

  She drew in a breath and strode down the hall, scanning the familiar numbers on the locked doors. Numbers had such personality when nothing else did. Thirty-eight B—that was home. She had always noticed something about the openness of the three, and the closedness of the eight, and the way the B was just a three with a bar through its teeth—but it hadn’t really meant anything to her until now. She closed the door behind her.   She crossed the room in the dark and stood at the window for a second. Something cold caught in her chest. Beyond the glass, that triangle of lights rolled over again. It boomeranged around toward the building. She watched it pace past the window and down the street a ways. Just as she stepped back from the window, it flipped over its axis and returned. She whirled around and tripped over the leg of an inn table, charging across the room.  

  The door slammed behind her and she dived onto her knees. She dragged a plastic box out from under her bed, knocked the lid off, pulled out a long garment of heavy fabric and held it against her chest for a second, looking back toward the door. She jumped up and flung open the door to the bathroom. There she found a small tub of something black in the cabinet. She took one more sweeping glance around her apartment before evacuating.  

  At the end of the hall outside there was a fire-escape. Not that way, it would trigger the alarm. How many times had she done this before in her mind? Downstairs—a sharp turn to the left. The unmarked door was unlocked. She darted out into the darkness onto a gritty floor and crossed the small room in three long strides. The distant hum and throb of the city leaked through the thin walls. A single bar of light burned sickly white over the door. Halcyon stepped back between two cast-iron shelves and caught her breath. She pulled the heavy cape over her shoulders and slipped her arms through the slits. It was semi-fitted and double-breasted from the front, but loose and asymmetrical from behind. The profile was more practical than it seemed. It was hard to read for certain eyes in the sky. She pulled back the sleeve of her sweater and tapped her wristband. A line of bright-blue lights awakened in it. She pinched the side of it and pulled out a tiny earpiece, clipping it into her ear. As soon as I’m done with this, I’ve got to get rid of it. I’ve got to get rid of everything that they could use to get me back here.  

  “Hello?” A slightly digitized female voice with a brazen American accent came through.  

  “Hey Rev. It’s Hal.”  

  “What’s up?” 

   “I’ve gotta get out of here.”  



  “Okay. Gotcha. Hang on.” There was a slight pause. Halcyon opened the tub of black pigment and leaned toward a fractured mirror on the wall. In the dusty light, she started to paint dark blocks on her face. “Okay, so where are you?”  

  “I haven’t moved yet.”  

  “I don’t think I can get to you from where I’m at. I want you to go to the turn-around at Kiscelli Crossing. There’s a place down the hill to your left—looks like it’s been through the end of the world. You’ve probably seen it before. I’ll have a friend meet you there.” 


  “His name is Zolt. I can’t give you a physical description, but you can trust him. I’ll tell him you’re coming.”  

  “Thanks, Reveille.”  

  “That’s no problem. Anything else?”  

  “No. I can’t say more.” She closed the tub and slipped it into her pocket.  

  “Good. Remember, keep under stuff, stay away from vents of any kind, and if you’ve got nowhere to go, drop and don’t move.”  

  “Okay.” She paused at the door to the outside.

  “And Halcyon, welcome to the underworld.”

That's all. You're welcome.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Interview With Leah E Good

Here’s someone you probably know but may not have heard from in a while. Christian dystopian author Leah E Good was good enough to was generous enough to let me interview her. I know Leah’s been an inspiration to many Christian readers and aspiring authors alike. If you have not read Counted Worthy…why?

Personally, I have my doubts as to whether I would be writing Christian dystopia is it hadn’t been for Counted Worthy. It was very formative for me. But without further delay, please welcome Leah E Good to Stardrift Nights.

  What were some elements that were radically different in early stages of writing Counted Worthy?

Honestly, it’s been so long, I don’t remember! I know I cut about 10,000 words (around 40 pages) out of the first draft. They ended up getting scrapped because I thought they were boring. Since I don’t remember what they contained, I must have been right!

  Heather Stone writes poetry, and that features strongly in the book. So, obviously, you also write poetry. What’s a poem that you find particularly inspiring?

My favorite of the poems I’ve written is titled Changing Seasons. Like Heather, I often write poetry as a way to process what I’m feeling. Changes stress me out, so Changing Seasons continues to be a blessing for me. Some of my favorite poems (not necessarily inspirational, just well-loved) are Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost and Lewis and Clark by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benet. As a general rule, I prefer poetry to have strong rhythm or meter or both!

  What was your exposure to the dystopian genre prior to writing Counted Worthy?

The Shadow Children series by Mergaret Peterson Haddix was a long-standing favorite of mine by the time I wrote Counted Worthy. I’d also recently read The Hunger Games series, which Counted Worthy is often compared to as a Christian alternative. I had also enjoyed Jill Williamson’s Safe Lands series.

What’s your favorite scene in Counted Worthy?

Oh, that’s a tough one! The final exchange between Heather and her father is definitely the most emotional for me (and everyone else, I expect). As such, it’s probably my favorite. I’m also partial to when Bryce comes to find Heather right after the police have broken in and arrested Mr. Stone.

  What was the hardest scene to write, and why?

Probably the scene where she goes to the police station to try to rescue her father. I rewrote that one many times. It easily edged too close to being unrealistic or melodramatic. Honestly, it’s still borderline melodramatic. Oh well.

  Talk to us about the significance of the antiquated printing press in the book. What made you think to include it? Does it have any symbolic meaning?

The press has a lot more meaning to Heather than it does to me! She’s deeply attached to it because it reminds her of her mother. For me, it was just a tool for accomplishing the printing of the flyers. And the backstory was woven to make its presence logical and connected to the story. Plus, old stuff is cool!

  And Finally, do you have any writing plans for the near future?

Yes! I’m still working on the sequel to Counted Worthy. The journey with the sequel has sonsistently felt like one step forward and two or three steps backwards. However, I have a feeling it’s going to be even better than Counted Worthy if I can ever get through with it. The sequel will be told from Bryce’s point of view. I often post writing updates on Instagram on Fridays. You can Find me at @LeahEGood.

Thank you so much for joining us. God’s blessing and best of luck to you on the sequel! We can’t wait to see how it plays out.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Dronefall Now Available on Amazon!

I thought Dronefall would be published by the end of Janduary of ’17.

When January passed, I thought it would be February, then March…then April.

Sixteen months later, or World Book Day, Dronefall went live on Amazon. A lot happened in all that waiting time. In retrospect, I’m glad for it. I got a lot of very positive work done on the manuscript, and I’m satisfied with what I can finally present. It seemed like at every opportunity, there was some kind of a hurdle, but the good thing is, I’m getting good at hurdles.

And now, DRONEFALL! I really hope you enjoy this series. I’ve put a crazy amount of thought into it already, and it gets more fun with every development. But honestly, the whole time I’ve been preparing it, and even as I write now, I have no idea what kind of a weirdo is going to get hooked on this series.

Christian dystopia is a small enough genre right now that every book I come across is drastically different. We haven’t built up a lot of repeats yet. But for that reason, I wonder if the Christian dystopian readership has trouble finding what they appreciate. I can’t recommend Dronefall to you based on any other Christian dystopia I’ve read or heard about, because none of them are in the same category. It’s a good thing, but it’s also a strange place to be.

So, you’ve read the description. You’ve seen the cover. Maybe you’ve even been diligent enough to seek out some of my other writing to see what it’s like. But you still don’t know for certain if you want to invest time and money in jumping into this new world. Will you enjoy it? If enough of the following statements are true for you, there’s a good chance that you might.

·         I’m strongly Christian and I know, though Christians aren’t openly persecuted in my culture, that it’s not always easy.

·         I kind of need a break from insta-love and love-triangles and main characters who all the other characters fall in love with. Maybe a story where romance isn’t the point?

·         I like stories that make me think and have an eye for detail. I love trying to predict plot-twists and hunting for Easter-eggs.

·         I find it more satisfying when things build up slowly. I don’t need constant drama to keep my attention. Subtle suspense is underrated.

·         I don’t mind a little wordiness if it creates atmosphere. Being able to picture settings and characters in my mind is important to me.

·         I love quirky characters who are sarcastic and imperfect. I like characters I can look up to, but who tend to do the right thing in ways that surprise me.

·         I like surprises in general. And explosions. 

I imagined my audience was probably older teens through college-age Christians of both genders, but who knows?
Give it a try if the above list doesn’t totally turn you off. It’s currently only available in paperback on Amazon. It’s only $10.99 here at the beginning. The eBook is on the way, so stay tuned.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

First Draft of Dronefall II, Lightwaste—Complete!

I won’t pretend it doesn’t feel a little weird, finishing the second book before the first is out. But progress is progress, and it probably won’t hurt me (or readers) to shorten that gap between the publication of the first and second books.

  Nine days ago, I was spinning my wheels a bit and decided to set a ten-day deadline for myself. It worked, since I ended up finishing last night at the eight-day mark. It took a lot of tea, but the first draft is now weighing in at 89,000 words exactly. And though I’m already starting a list of things I need to fix and change, I’m fairly happy right now.

  I’ve restrained myself fairly well, I think from talking about Dronefall here on this blog ad nauseum. I like to think that there might be some readers who are curious about it by now. Don’t worry, I’ll be interviewing my own characters and overloading you with obscure facts once things get going after publication day.

  What you need to know right now is that I’m getting closer with Dronefall—you know. Closer every day. Always uh, moving forward. Just now publication date on the calendar yet. I’ll get there, I promise! There’s no way you’re as desperate as I am about it right now.

  The last book I published came out when I was nineteen. Now I’m twenty-three and there were five whole unpublished manuscripts between. This has been a while building up. I can’t wait to officially invite you into the world of Dronefall.

  Just hang tight. I’ve got a bit of editing to do first.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

White Wolf and Ash Princess Blog Tour, Day Seven!

Well, I’m excited to be taking part in my first blog-tour. I’ve never done this before, but I made a resolution this year to start promoting other authors, and this is a great way to start. It’s also a great book to start with.

But first things first, I must add a quick confession. When I volunteered, I had no idea this book was not fantasy. I thought it was fantasy for the first I don’t know how many chapters. Then I looked on Goodreads and saw people calling it historical fiction. Oops.

The dreamy cover.
So, this is not a genre I typically read. Keep that in mind. If you’re an avid historical fiction reader, you’ll probably have different tastes and different opinions about this book. But maybe it’s valuable, or at least interesting to see it through the eyes of somebody who’s more of a speculative junkie. So here we go.
But first, the synopsis
Eighteen year old Izzy's limited world begins to feel cramped after she completes her self-appointed book dare. After reading two-hundred and fifty books, a thought that had been once tucked away as tightly as the books on her library shelves becomes too irresistible to ignore...Who am I?
Memory loss prohibits Izzy from remembering her life before age seven when she was suffered a terrible trauma that left her with intense physical scars. Jonathan Gudwyne and his head housekeeper rescued Izzy and took her in as their own, but who did she belong to before they took her in?
Crippling panic keeps Izzy from wandering beyond the stables but Tubs, the Gudwyne's young stable boy, encourages Izzy to go beyond the property's rock wall into a world that promises possible answers but also great danger. A scorched castle in the woods and its mysterious cellar filled with secrets sets Izzy on a path to the New World, where she will not only have to face her own terror but face the people responsible for her scars.
It is here, in the untamed wilds of the seventeenth century that she finds love and a home in the most of unexpected of places.

Things I liked

·         Nature. This story places a great deal of value and emphasis on nature, which for me is always a plus. I loved the descriptions of natural settings, especially once we got to the New World. This outdoorsy aspect of the setting also led naturally to some great details on survival and hunting, which I also love. Survival stories always bring out the grit and determination in characters, which is something I find very satisfying, as a reader.

·         The U. P. If I were to move somewhere else in the US, it would very likely be the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. My family has vacationed there every Fall for almost all my life. I was delighted to find myself there in a work of fiction. It makes for a beautiful, and to me very familiar backdrop. I definitely share Lash’s passion for that area.

·         Native Americans Yes. I love how she handled the Native American aspect of this story. It was woven in seamlessly and gave the story it’s flavor. The best thing was, the Native American characters were just that—actual characters. They weren’t token bitter sob-story props or faceless savages. They were actual people with actual souls, quirks, aspirations, relationships. I read a few books featuring Native Americans earlier in life, and they always seemed to focus on the differences between them and the White Man, not the humanness of both. This was inspiring. I want to see more of this!

·         Reconciliation I will always take a story about forgiveness and healing. This is a major theme in WWaAP. It’s explored on many levels between characters and between larger groups of people. In the secular world, reconciliation between races is almost a taboo. People shy away from acknowledging that it is the only way scars ever heal. This book doesn’t do that. The people in this story have all been wounded and broken be each other. No, forgiveness doesn’t make the pain or the scars go away instantly, but it is the only hope. The characters are learning to act on that in their broken relationships. 

·         Plot twists/amnesia Okay, so where there is amnesia, there will be plot-twists. This is honestly what attracted me to this book. The story is a series of revelations about the main character’s painful and traumatic past. It deals with how she chooses to handle them as the memories return. This kept me reading, even when I wasn’t otherwise particularly engaged.

·         Non-romantic relationships Guys, this story focused on a lot of different relationship dynamics and guess what? Some of them were not romantic. This is awesome. More like this, please. There are so many different ways people relate to each other and all too often authors neglect them for Friend, Enemy, Love Interest. There’s so much more to work with, and Lash took the time to look deeply at many different pairings of characters and explore their dynamics. Yes.

Things I didn’t like

·         Pacing issues The first half seems a little slow. There were a few chapters that didn’t seem all that important to the story. Sometimes I got a little bogged down in descriptions of clothes and flowers and biscuits. But then again, like I said, historical romance is not my genre by any means, so my expectations are likely a bit off.

·         Emotional monotony Okay, so this is something that really gets me, though other people might not notice. I have trouble getting into a book that is basically dead serious the whole time. There is a lot of crying in this book. It makes sense, situations are very serious and often painful. But for me, it actually makes it so I care a lot less about the characters’ pain when I rarely see them laughing, joking and just generally on top of their game. It’s harder to connect for me when characters are in emotional turmoil most of the time.

·         Characters a bit predictable You’ve got your motherly housekeeper who is, of course rather stout, and fond of flowers, you’ve got your handsome protective love interest what love interest what are you talking about? With his secret scars. Then there’s the adorable little boy with freckles and bouncing red curls who somehow doesn’t seem all of thirteen at all. Oh, and the competition—the stiff pale lady who wants to marry the love interest what love interest for his money. There was a lot of very strong characterization in this book, don’t get me wrong, it was done quite well. I just wished I hadn’t seen them so many times before.

·         Certain situations and subjects One thing I don’t understand is why some authors have to write about throwing up multiple times within a book. I mean, this is your story, you can decide weather you want to include things like that. Even if it isn’t at all graphic (it wasn’t in this case) I honestly start skimming when people start getting sick. There was even a story in the authors note at the end. She for some reason felt the need to tell us about the only time she remembers throwing up. Which naturally makes me resentful, since I can remember approximately fifty times myself…. Everything makes me sick, man. I also prefer to avoid the subject of cannibalism, if possible. (Again, not graphic, but it’s lingered on for a bit too long for my uh…taste.)

And Kind of a Pro/Con

·         Very personal I’m kind of intimidated by stories that are closely linked to an author’s own deep pain and past trials. I want to see a story objectively and going into it with a lot of the authors’ backstory makes me a bit uncomfortable doing that. I tend to sort of freak out when I find a biographical author’s note in the back of a novel.

But on the other hand, this is going to be different for other people. For some I imagine this will deepen your understanding and appreciation of the story. Writing a novel can be a great way to heal and a great way to share the healing with many others who have faced similar battles.


It’s a story worth reading, aside from my issues with it. It definitely deserves an audience of avid historical readers who love stories of faith, forgiveness, and healing. It’s an honest look at the secrets we keep and the things we carry alone that we were meant to carry together. If you love a story that’s a mix of inspiration, romance, legend, and a splash of adventure, try White Wolf and Ash Princess.

About the Author
Tammy lives in Lower Michigan with her husband and her three children. Izzy's home in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (Munising) is where she and her family enjoy exploring. Tammy enjoys hiking, kayaking, beach wandering, "hunting" for birch bark and hopes to someday find a porcupine quill. White Wolf and the Ash Princess is her first novel. She is published in Keys for Kids and has been in children's ministry for over twenty years.

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Friday, February 2, 2018

Strange Ways I Fight Writer's Block

Writer’s block does happen. I have heard people rant about how it’s just your imagination and how “real” writers don’t get writer’s block. “Just keep writing,” they say. “It’s an excuse for laziness,” they say. Oh, okay, if that’s your philosophy, fine, be a snob about it. But for the rest of us, something’s got to be done to get out of the rut.

  I know the feeling. Your mind gets all clouded and dull and drifty. You can’t look at the screen. You can’t remember how anything is spelled. Your vocabulary is down to like, five words. If you start writing, sawdust and dead moths start piling up inside your word document somehow. Maybe it comes from physical exhaustion, maybe it’s lowkey depression, maybe you feel harried by all life’s other demands on your mental energy.

   These are real problems that are going to affect your creative output. It’s only natural. If you know there are practical things you need to fix before you can write—hey, do them. If you don’t know what needs fixed…try doing it my way.

·         Read really bad writing. I know, this is not something most author blogs encourage aspiring authors to do, but it can fire me up. I suggest hitting a fanfiction site and finding a story from a fandom you care about with some really sloppy writing in which the author makes some decisions you really hate. Be angry, be very angry. Then crack your knuckles and open your manuscript. Show ‘em what real writing looks like.

·         Start writing your scenes as dialogue only. Writing dialogue fills up a page fast, and it’s encouraging. It also narrows your focus to one element of your writing so that you’re not grappling with so much at once. Writing fiction involves balancing so many skills at once, it’s no wonder it gets overwhelming. Just focus on making the dialogue work. Come back and write the narrative in later, and feel free to alter it then.

·         Use really weird words and expressions. Don’t worry about your readers. You can edit all you want later. The idea here is to loosen up and get your brain into play mode. One thing that’s sure to cause writer’s block is taking yourself and your work way too seriously. There’s a very fine line between genius and crazy—forget it until you make yourself laugh. Laughing is good for your artist’s mind.

·         Move to a completely different project. Don’t get tunnel-vision on your main project. Always have several other ideas on standby to stimulate your creative circulation. These can be writing projects (probably at least a few should be), visual art or a craft, if that’s your thing, writing a song, building a model, remodeling a room, teaching your cat to sing the entire Ring Cycle—whatever. Just try channeling some serious energy into some other interesting activity.

·         Start a notebooking challenge. I’ll probably end up doing a whole post on this in the near future. I don’t know if this is a thing, or if I invented it, but it involves making a list of prompts for yourself in a notebook. (I know how many creatives are obsessed with notebooks.) The prompts I write typically involve a combination of writing and drawing. Some examples I’ve done are: Draw islands that represent emotions, find random words in the dictionary and write new definitions for them, draw a creature that looks the way you feel…things like that. It’s a great exercise if your creative muscles are stiff.

·         Talk to somebody about your project. If you can find a friend or family member sympathetic to your cause, it can be very helpful to have someone to talk to about what might be stalling your progress. If you have someone in your life who has read some of your work, all the better, you’ll have less to explain. They may have some interesting insights about your project that you yourself were blind to. Other people can be very helpful, even if they have no advice. It’s just good to let somebody else in your creative world now and then.

·         Do something completely out of the norm. Adventure is a great cure-all. Just get up and go somewhere strange, do something unique. The rhythms of everyday life can make you feel trapped sometimes. You have freewill. Go ahead and break them. Remind yourself you’re not a robot from time to time. Robots rarely write great stories.

  So, there’s my advice to those suffering with writer’s block. I like to think I’m a pretty good example of a hyperactive idea-generating dynamo, but I won’t pretend even I don’t get burned-out on occasion. I definitely do. But I’m doing better now. I can feel the change writing this post has made to my brain chemistry. I’ll get some novel-writing done today.