A. L. Buehrer What I Write and Why

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 Now I’m twenty-three and there were five whole unpublished manuscripts between.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.