A. L. Buehrer What I Write and Why

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Everything I Can Tell You About Lightwaste

Allow me to encourage you with the rather hollow words that the publication of Lightwaste is just around the corner.  But it really is. All I’ve got left to tackle is a formatting issue that I can’t seem to solve. Once I get over that last of about a million speed-bumps, you will have Dronefall Two.

But while I continue to wrestle with that, let me tell you everything you get to know about Lightwaste right now. First off, it does have a cover.

And a back-cover copy.

The strongest lies are invisible.

Halcyon Slavic wanted to disappear. That was why she ran away from society in the first place. She could slip under the radar, do what she believed was right, be whoever she wanted to be. In her smothered world, these simple desires all require some degree of anonymity.

Yet when she accidentally discovers that she has in fact, no legal identity on the world-wide database, something changes. Apparently, the facts of her own identity are being hidden, but why? In a fevered search for the answer, Halcyon leaves the shadows of District Three Point five and returns to the exposure and control of the world she was raised in—a world that dangles by a fragile string of well-told lies.

She’s come to get the answers. She’s come to pull the mask off. And she’s come to wreck the equilibrium in ways she never thought she could.

It’s a bit longer than book one, which will likely be the trend throughout the series. It’s also strongly Halcyon-centric, which has its pros and cons. First off, you learn some stuff about Halcyon, and hopefully get a chance to connect with her more than you did in book one. Halcyon can be a strange person to work with. She pushes and pulls a lot while I write. In this book she’s really trying to get her footing and decide what she’s willing to fight for. She knows how to keep her head down, which she’s done for most of her life, but she’s starting to question if its really possible, or even right to keep hiding.

Lightwaste is kind of a product of my college years, actually. I found myself confronted with some of the same kinds of opposition Halcyon faces in returning to her own school campus in search of records about her own identity. I think a lot of college-age Christians are going to recognize what they read here—and probably younger ones too.

The Advocates for Education and Social Development—which is a massive international organization that controls education and media in the Dronefall universe—is really the biggest influence on the society Halcyon lives in. She finds herself sort of accidentally taking on this cultural behemoth all by her lone in Lightwaste. And the fight is anything but fair.

So, the focus of Lightwaste is a little different from Dronefall. It’s going to feel a bit more political than the other books in the series—though I deliberately avoid the details of politics in the Dronefall Series in favor of underlying issues. But it sets the stage and really defines the opposition for the last three books and I expect is going to feel very real for people who have been paying attention to current events.

Also, you get Zoltan Sycora’s backstory. Can I tempt you with that? I thought maybe I could.

P.S.: In anticipation of Lightwaste’s release, book one, Dronefall, is only 99c on Kindle. If you haven’t started the series yet, and would like to, here’s your chance. Thanks for having the patience to read to the bottom of this post.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Recap Time

Well, I sort of went radio-silent after claiming that I was going to beat the odds and still hit my goal on November 30th. The reason? I was kind of busy doing it.

You need to see my stats to appreciate what happened in November. I have created a graph for you to observe.

No, I’m not kidding. This is actually how I work. What you are observing is a numerical depiction of what it means to have energy-spikes. This really worried some of my professors in college.

This graph only spans from Day 7 forward. I got the brilliant idea of creating a word-count log in my writing notebook at that point, so that’s where we start. Yes, you are reading it right, I had a zero-word day on the 14th. My brain went on strike. I also had an 8,245-word day on the 23rd.  Not claiming that was particularly healthy, either, honestly.

I hit my 100k on day 39 of the proposed 40. My average word count per day was 2,982. But as you can see, I rarely did anything like that. Overall, I like to think I was pretty unstoppable, considering that I was way behind where I wanted to be until the last two days. I kind of decided not to worry and to just embrace my talent for uh…total inconsistancy.

In this way, Dronefall III was born. Book three is called Rainchill, for those who haven’t heard. There’s been a great deal of action and suspense and some big reveals. If you get through the first two books, you will hopefully be rewarded by this one. But you still haven’t gotten the chance to read Lightwaste.

That will be rectified soon enough. Hold on!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

BLACK FRIDAY! a huge selection of indie books available

So, I thought it would only be fair to stop my insane last-week-of-NaNoWriMo writing and tell anyone within hearing some news from the wonderfully generous world of indie authors. There is a huge sale going on through Cyber Monday. There are over 150 clean indie books in a wide variety of genera on sale for as little as 99c or free. There are even some paperbacks available.
  You could get yourself a pretty good lineup of reading material if you tried. I've watched a lot of these authors, and some of the books are on my own to-read list, even though I try really hard to keep my to-reads under control.
  Anyway, check out the sale. And hurry up.
What's more, if that's not enough, there's also a crazy giveaway going on. A really crazy one. I mean a literally 20 paperbacks to the winner crazy one. Do I have to say more? You probably will be wanting the link to that one too, won't you. Okay.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best of luck to you!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Watch This

100k/40d day: 15

NaNoWriMo day: 5

Total word count: 21,525

Status: lagging 15,975 words

I have just finished drawing 290 little circles.

I’m alright.

I organized the 290 little circles in rows of ten. Each circle represents 100 words. Every 100 words, I plan to fill in one of the circles with a yellow colored pencil I have here with me. I’ve sectioned the rows off into 5 groups of 5 and 1 group of 4. The sections represent the six days I’ve given myself to catch up.

It almost looks possible. Especially with a cup of coconut almond bark tea—both of which will likely be gone before I’m finished writing this. I’m going to attack this thing. You probably won’t hear from me until Monday or later. I refuse to report until I’m caught up.

So, until then, good luck on whatever your own daring and dangerous adventures are this week. And I kind of hope you’re not as impractical and over-ambitious as some of us. I expected to do more tutorial and how-to post along the way here…but mainly I’ve been doing things wrong. So, here’s my tip for the day: don’t do things the way I do things.

Be back when I’m caught up. What, you don’t think I can do it? Let me show you something. Hold my tea.

Friday, November 2, 2018

NaNoWriMo Begins

100k/40d day: 12

NaNoWriMo day: 2

Total word count: 13,662

Status: lagging 16,338

Well, I’m not sure that I calculated that quite right. I counted today’s minimum required word-count as missing. I have not yet begun to write! Not today. I just got off work.

The books is going very well. The plot moves very fast but there’s still time for jokes and stuff, which is important. This entry is going to be quite short, I think. I don’t have much to say here, but I definitely need to get back to the book.
Happy NaNoWriMo to all. If you want to “buddy” me on the official NaNo site, my user name is TheLaughingVulcan

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Still Alive After Nine Days

100k/40d day: 9

Total word count: 10,038

Status: lagging 12,462 words

Well, to my credit, this is how you’re supposed to start a story—a comfortable while after its actual beginning and with the protagonist already in major trouble. 12,462 words behind? Do you know what that would do to some people’s blood pressure?

I’ve heard people on NaNoWriMo forums freak out about lagging by 1,000 words—just for scale.

Luckily, I have naturally low blood-pressure to start with, and am not particularly concerned. Here’s a little math.  Even if I wrote no more today, and nothing at all tomorrow, when November hit, I would still only need to write 2,998.7 words a day to clear 100k by 11/30. That, for me is still only about 2.9 hours a day at the keyboard.

Okay, somebody take this calculator away from me. I have the nasty habit of mathematically justifying procrastination.

But that’s the numbers. So, how’s the actual book going? Not horribly. I’m in chapter three. I’m busy foreshadowing plot point one, which is due in chapter five. It is, by far, going to be the most intense first plot point I have ever used in the series so far. It’s going to have dramatic effect on the whole rest of the series. I’m very excited.

So, don’t pretend you don’t know me yet. If you keep watching, you will see me catch up. I’ll try to keep you better posted than I did for the first 9 days, as well.

Signing off.

Friday, October 19, 2018

I've Got an Even Worse Idea Than Usual

Well, time to shoot the moon again.

For those of you who don’t know me as well, I have a reputation for taking on projects that may or may not be possible and driving myself crazy. It’s funny because when I have some practical task to undertake, I prefer to find some clever way to shirk it. I’m not a deadlines person. I’m not a checklist person. But I like to prove things to myself now and then.

And it’s just about that time of year.

In November of 2016, I was in the first semester of my senior year of college. It wasn’t an ideal time to attack my first National Novel Writing Month marathon. But, you know, I didn’t relish college life and I took the opportunity to distract myself. I kept my grades up, but otherwise…well, it went better than I expected. I exceeded the 50,000 word goal of NaNoWriMo, and passed all my classes.

So, basically, I’ve decided that was too easy and have built on to the 50k words in 30-days challenge. I’ve given myself a timeframe and a wordcount. 100k words in 40 days.

The project begins 10/22/18

The manuscript will be the complete first draft of Dronefall III, entitled Rainchill. My daily minimum wordcount will need to be 2,500. Slightly more demanding than the traditional NaNoWrimo itinerary of 1,666.666666666667 words….

Shout-out to the crazy people who actually know how to write .666666666667 of a word.

I invite you to gawk at my bizarre antics throughout this 40-day period through the window of Stardrift Nights. Hopefully about twice a week I will be logging my progress and increasing panic here on my blog. I’ll be keeping you updated on total wordcount, where I am in my plot (sans any spoilers), challenges I’ve tackled, weird typos, snippets, records and anything else broken.

I wish you all the very best of luck on your own NaNoWriMo challenges this year. And whenever you need to assure yourself someone is suffering more than you are, feel free to come over to Stardrift Nights.  

The race is on.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Like Chimes in the Wind

I thought I would share a poem of  mine with you today, anticipating the release of my poetry book Songs from the Small Hours, and celebrating the turn of the seasons. (Fall is coming!)

Like Chimes in the Wind
Then autumn took hold

as bloodlessly as rain from off the eaves

a still morning broke

 the circulation changed inside the leaves

Like chimes in the wind

Like yellow warblers dancing in the light

Like voices through fog

Like hidden thrushes singing in the night

The taste of the air

Was like a stream from deep inside the rocks

And in every tree

The nervous feathers gathered into flocks

And then came the hush

Of wonder at the blue behind the gray

And smoke on the breeze

And as you breathe it in, it fades away

Like chimes on the wind

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A Long-Expected Surprise

Guys! Guys! I have an announcement to make. Some of you might be able to guess it, but some of you won’t, so you’ll have to read on.

But not very far, because I’ll get right to the point. Dronefall is at last and finally available on Kindle. I caved and got professional formatting help, and Victoria Lynn did very well for a very reasonable price. I know a lot of people are hesitant to buy paperbacks. Even avid readers. Maybe even especially avid readers. Book-money is scarce, shelf-space is precious real estate and to almost everyone, I’m an unknown author. But a lot of risk just got removed.

It’s going for 99c right now. So, if you’re curious at all, you might want to swipe it while it’s cheaper than practically everything. If you’re ready to grab it right now, here's the link. Not ready yet? Okay…here's the link again. 

Alright, I’ll stop. But the fact that you are now able to hit a button and in seconds drop into a world I have been isolated in for uncounted hours is very exciting. Though I don’t have every scene planned from here to the end of book five, I have quite a map laid out, and my head is spinning with thrilling plot-developments. Well, they sound thrilling in my head, at least.

Anyhow, the first book of the Dronefall series with its colorful cast, non-stop mystery, unique setting and slow-burn suspense is waiting for you on Kindle. If you’re the kind of fangirl or fanboy that loves a complex story-world, quirky characters and a lot (and I mean a whole lot) of raw material for fan-theories, I promise you will have fun.

So, thank you for reading this post. I know it was kind of dumb and not very meaty. The meat’s in the book. And it’s currently 99c. Oh, and here's the link..

Monday, August 13, 2018

Halcyon Speaks Part Two

Welcome to part two of our interview with Halcyon Slavic, the main character of my most recent novel "Dronefall." In this interview we will get a glimpse of the story-world through her eyes. So, with no further introduction, we'll get back into it.
Exactly what is the role and function of the drone surveillance in your city?

Budapest has an enormous system of surveillance drones that persistently combs the city with cameras and tracking technology that lets them gather information from people’s phones and wearable devices. There’s a huge grid system that crisscrosses over most of the city, and I think that’s entirely owned by the police. Supposedly this massive amount of data-gathering is keeping a lot of crime off the streets that would otherwise be there. But of course, only a small percentage of the data relates to any crime whatsoever. All this information is always readily available to government officials, the police, and anybody who knows how to hack in and get it.   

And how does the public feel about this?

I don’t really think they think much of anything about it on a day-to-day basis. Most people will scoff at you for raising an eyebrow about it. They argue that the system has saved—however many lives, it varies by who you talk to. They say it’s all actually very secure, and if you are bothered by police watching you, you must have something to hide.

Honestly, I think it bothers more people than are openly saying so. Nobody wants to look paranoid. You can get a lot of harassment if somebody says you’re afraid of the government. It looks pretty backward to some people.

You grew up in an Advocates for Education and Social Development school. Who is AESD, and what was your experience like?

AESD is an international machine that has more or less monopolized school systems in the west. They’re kind of their own government—though their funded by the actual governments of all the countries that they work in. I don’t even know how they started, but they were set up to reshape civilization according to a brilliant agenda that’s going to save us all from ourselves.

I’m starting to suspect one of their main goals is to extinguish Christianity in the next generation, but I know better than to say that. It would get me laughed off—loudly.

Just going on my experience though, the notion isn’t particularly laughable. I wouldn’t say the quality of my education was particularly good, but one thing they certainly did was start teaching children to be revolted by religion—and one religion in particular—at an early age. They used a lot of films and VR in teaching. And a lot of shock factor. 

How would you describe attitudes toward Christianity among educators, students and the general public?

AESD teachers set themselves up as champions of acceptance. If you suggest that they have something against Christianity they will quickly deny it. And then they’ll go on to tell you what an oppressive, hateful, superstitious old religion it is and why it’s responsible for all society’s ills. To them, the thought of any rational moral person believing the bible is inconceivable.

Students are an odd lot. It’s hard to put them all in the same category. Most of them just follow along. They’ll believe or pretend to believe whatever they have to to get good marks and graduate. It’s a wonder any of them have opinions of their own by then. There’s so much opinion-sculpting that goes on in school. Some are just rebelling against their Christian parents—others might just be rebelling against their anti-Christian teachers. That’s how I started out.

There are still real Christians among the general public. But they tend to be bullied into silence by the rest. It’s definitely popular to have no respect at all for it. I’ve heard of a lot of people getting treated badly for voicing certain convictions, and when they reach out for more decent people to stop the unfairness, they are often met with silence. Decent people don’t want to look like they affirm Christianity.  

What do you think it would take to change people’s minds about Christianity?

I have no idea. I don’t even know if it’s possible. They’d rather blatantly lie to themselves than consider it. At this point, all I want is to get away from them. They hate the one thing that’s important to me—the one thing that gives me hope and peace. I don’t know what we could ever do for them, now.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Halcyon Speaks

The next two blog posts will be a two-part interview with none other than the main character of the Dronefall series, Halcyon Slavic. Today’s post focuses mainly on Halcyon herself, giving you a chance to meet her if you haven’t yet, and learn more about her if you have read Dronefall.

Tell us three things about yourself.
1) The first time I jumped off a train, I was seventeen. My technique was so bad, it was a miracle I didn’t break anything. 2) My favorite book of the Bible is probably Revelation. 3) I like to feed pigeons, and it makes me unreasonably resentful when people try to enforce rules against it.

Did you have friends growing up?
They would draw names at random and herd us into new “socialization groups” every week at school. This clever strategy almost destroyed any opportunity to make any friends at all, especially as we got older and slower at connecting. I hardly remember the names of any of the kids I grew up with.

Have you ever played any sports?
I played chess. Not that I was particularly good at that, either.

Can you play any musical instruments?
A rather plunky bit of piano. Music wasn’t emphasized in our educational programs, and I didn’t have the drive to become good. I can sing some, but I have kind of a rough voice.

What was your strongest school subject?
I did well in science, especially chemistry. Biology disappointed me, because we never actually got to dissect anything. I didn’t love math, but I could make it work.

Tell us three things you’re good at and three things you don’t do well.
I’m kind of good at criticizing myself—but then again, I don’t think I try hard enough. Anyway, I think I’m pretty good at holding my ground once I’ve got something figured out. I’m good at resisting peer pressure. I also have a knack for avoiding people I don’t like.
I’m kind of bad at finalizing things. I get overwhelmed with options and possibilities. I can kind of ruin my resolve by looking at situations from too many perspectives—which kind of cancels out my ground-holding skills sometimes. I can’t talk very well. I think that part of my brain must be slow. And I also can’t do anything with my own hair. My braids are terrible, and I end up with a frizzy, knotted mess if I try anything new.

Who’s your best friend?
Reveille Jacobs. She introduced me to train jumping and drone-tracking and Jesus Christ. In other words, she ruined my chances to live a normal life. I appreciated that. I might be stuck in mundanity without her influence.

Describe your relationship with God.
It’s there. Sometimes I question it, but it doesn’t disappear. It’s a quiet relationship. Nothing’s dramatic. Everything grows slowly. I get impatient sometimes, but I don’t know what more I’m expecting, when I think about it. He’s never asked me to do anything crazy, and I find that a little disconcerting, maybe.

Stay tuned for part two, in which Halcyon discusses her upbringing, her culture, and the powers under the surface of 2040's Budapest.

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.