Winter Blues (A Poem)

Winter Blues
by Kelly F. Barr

Frigid winds
Chill me to the bone.
Dreary, overcast days
And days of snow —
Its beauty only lasts so long.

Eager for spring;
My heart sank
As spring’s first two days
Brought the biggest blanket of white
Of the year.

I long for sunshine and warmth
To turn my S.A.D.ness
Into gladness
And to, again, find my motivation.

Interview with Debut Author, C. S. Wachter

Me: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

C.S. Wachter: During the summer of 2015 I began meeting with a couple people from my neighborhood who were interested in writing. We shared short pieces, no more than three pages. They were very encouraging. So … one day after we met, I went home, sat at my laptop, and started writing.

Me: Why did you choose to write Christian Fantasy?

C. S. Wachter: Ever since reading J. R. R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” in middle school, I’ve been drawn to fantasy that reflected the battle of light and dark, good, and evil. It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy fantasy that doesn’t have Christian threads running through it; it just means, for me, those stories seem to lack something. Over the years, Christian Fantasy writers have enriched my faith. I decided that if I was going to write, I wanted to do the same for others. Much of what is out there today focuses on humans battling evil by themselves. Or, if they seek help, they turn to stronger demons. I wanted to tell a story where God is part of the tale and His help is given.

Me: Do you think you’ll ever add any other genres to your writing? If so, what are they and would you plan to publish them?

C. S. Wachter: Years ago, I read something C. S. Lewis said about fantasy reflecting reality but with enough distance that people could process things they would otherwise face with difficulty. This idea has proven true for me and because of that, I doubt I would ever write another genre. But, I have also learned never to say never. If I did write another genre though, it would probably be contemporary fiction, maybe with an edge to it.

Me: Where do you get your story ideas?

C. S. Wachter: My friend, Jan, says I have confetti in my brain. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but the ideas just fill my head, frequently in the middle of the night, sometimes when I’m walking. It could be something as common as a leaf flying by on the sidewalk that triggers a whole idea in my confetti brain. I usually jot my impressions or ideas down as a note in my phone for future use.

Me: Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, what do you do to overcome it?

C. S. Wachter: There have been times when I couldn’t seem to move forward when writing a first draft. For me, that is a signal that something I just wrote isn’t right. I back up, analyze what I wrote prior to the block, and think through what I need to change to make the story flow again. I don’t know how it works for others, but for me, once I get past that change, I usually can move forward without a problem. I like to think the story already exists and I’m just the one discovering it and revealing it.

Me: On average, how many hours a day do you write?

C. S. Wachter: It varies, but I would say I usually get in at least three hours and sometimes as much as eight hours.

Me: How long does it take you to complete your first draft?

C. S. Wachter: The four books of “The Seven Words” series were written in twelve months. That averages one every three months. But … I have other books I started that I set aside while I continued editing “The Seven Words” books. Lander’s Story, (that title will change), started out as a short story (Leaving Wharton) which I wrote for family and friends for Christmas of 2016. After completing the short story, I decided I wanted to continue and used it to launch the book. Though Lander’s Story is almost half written, it has remained at that point for more than a year now. Once the editing, publishing, etc. is completed on “The Seven Words” and the sequel to “The Seven Words”, I look forward to plunging back into writing Lander’s Story. Having said that, though, Lander has been percolating in the back of my brain, so he hasn’t been forgotten.

Me: Are you part of a critique group? If so, do you find a critique group helpful and do you use the critique group while you are writing or after your first draft is finished?

C. S. Wachter: Yes, I do belong to a small critique group. Yes, it has been most helpful. I started writing less than three years ago and I have learned so much through my critique partners. They’ve helped me hone my writing in ways I would never have thought to do on my own. So far I’ve mostly shared drafts that have been somewhat polished because I didn’t even know about critique groups when I first started writing. Would I share a WIP before it is in the first-draft phase? I’m not sure.

Me: Have you ever gone to a writer’s conference? If so, what benefits do you think a writer’s conference has to offer?

C. S. Wachter: Writer’s conferences are not only great for learning about the craft from people who’ve done it, they can be great fun and a wonderful place to meet others in the various professions connected with publishing. Nothing beats networking face to face. I still stay in touch with friends I met at my first big conference in 2016.

Me: How many revisions/edits do you do before publishing?

C. S. Wachter: Many. As many as needed. For The Sorcerer’s Bane I probably worked through at least a dozen drafts before it even came close to a final edit. I hope future books won’t need so many drafts before final editing. It’s been a learning curve for this newbie author.

Me: Do you have a professional editor and do you think it is necessary for every writer to have one? Why or why not?

C. S. Wachter: Yes. I think it’s important because no matter how good your friends may be at picking out grammar errors or general typos, they don’t have the experience to do a professional-level edit. (Unless your friend happens to be an editor.) And, let’s face it, we can’t see our own errors. We need that set of eyes tuned to focusing on the problem areas to polish our work before it goes out into the marketplace to compete with others.

Me: Why did you choose to indie publish instead of publishing traditionally?

C. S. Wachter: The first reason: I wanted creative control of my work and was willing to put in the effort to start my own business to have that. The second reason: Time frame. I already wrote all four of “The Seven Words” series and I wanted the flexibility to release them in quick succession (one each quarter through 2018 and the sequel at the beginning of 2019). If I went traditional I’d have to wait for a publisher to decide to publish my first book, then wait approximately two years to have that first book published; and, most likely, wait another year between the subsequent book releases.

Me: Do you continue to study writing? If so, do you consider this important and why?

C. S. Wachter: Like with any craft, we writers need to continue to study and improve. However, I can get bogged down far too easily in learning about something rather than doing that something, so I limit my study. Conferences are great not only for connecting with others of like mind, but they are wonderful places to learn from those more experienced authors who are willing to share their knowledge. Connections I’ve made with others in the industry have made a huge difference in what I’ve learned.

Me: What are some of your favorite writing resources?

C. S. Wachter: The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi and The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell.

Me: What do you think is the hardest part about writing, publishing, and marketing?

C. S. Wachter: For me it’s definitely the marketing. I’m not a naturally outgoing person. I’m most happy sitting at my laptop quietly writing (well, not totally quiet … I happen to love heavy Christian rock). I learned so much through indie publishing and don’t have any problems continuing with that. But the marketing … goose bumps and a shiver up my spine. Social media is hard for me. I don’t blog, twitter, or do newsletters. I guess at some point I’ll need to learn, but for now, I’m slowly feeling my way forward in marketing.

Me: What advice would you give to new and/or young writers?

C. S. Wachter: Just do it! Don’t let your fears that it’s not perfect get in your way. The second piece of advice comes from James Scott Bell: ‘Write fast and furious; edit slow and careful’.

 

The Sorcerer’s Bane by C.S. Wachter

The Sorcerer’s Bane by C. S. Wachter, a debut novel by a debut writer. I have to say that this is one of the few fantasy books I have read since reading the Narnia series by C. S. Lewis and the Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien. I loved the Narnia series, but didn’t really enjoy much of the Lord of the Rings, except for a some of the characters. You see, as a reader, I need an interesting plot that keeps things moving, but more importantly to me are the characters — being able to sympathize or empathize with them, feeling their feelings. I need to care about and identify with the characters, and I need to want to cheer them on and need to know how things will turn out for them.

I was introduced to the fantasy genre later in life — in other words, I was already out of my twenties, and I have always been an avid reader of any genre of story that includes some romance as part of the main story line, so fantasy has never really been my go-to read.

However, I have come to have an appreciation for and understanding of good fantasy books, especially Christian Fantasy books because they have a true good versus evil story line that points to the true hope for a happy ending.

Well, imagine my surprise, when I read The Sorcerer’s Bane and found myself quickly entrenched in the worst kind of evil — the enslavement and abuse of a child. Yet, the child grabbed my attention from the start, and held my attention fast so that I was unable to put the book down, even when it made me cringe and flinch, and it disgusted me sometimes.

So, what was it that kept me reading as I fought past these feelings? It was the characters — the boy who had an incredible resolve for one so young, the teacher who desired to teach the boy more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic, the kind young lady who ministered to the boy’s injuries. Even some of the characters that were part of the evil the boy dealt with held my attention because I had a glimmer of something more than the evil they presented that made me hope they may change.

C. S. Wachter has a way of weaving a tale that drags her character through hell but that always exhibits a glimmer of hope and light for something better to come. Even at the end, the knowledge and hope of more to come whets my appetite for the next book in the series of “The Seven Words” by C. S. Wachter.

So, if you love a good tale of good versus evil, I recommend The Sorcerer’s Bane to you, but only if you are a young adult or adult, as some of the violence and situations in the book may be too upsetting to children.

If you have enjoyed my book review for The Sorcerer’s Bane by C. S. Wachter, be sure to stop by tomorrow for a special blog post, where you can read my interview with new author, C. S. Wachter.