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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Walking to the End ~guest post by Laura Bickle

Today I've invited author Laura Bickle to share thoughts about her writing process. Be sure to check out her latest releases below.

                                                                    Walking to the End
                                                                       by Laura Bickle

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
-Lao Tzu

Nothing intimidates me more than a blank page. A blank page suggests a point a thousand miles away from where I want to be. It's formless and paralyzing. There's a lot of room to screw up, in that expanse as pale and broad as autumn sky. Under the weight of it, the process of writing a book just seems...too big.

And I stuff that page away in a notebook. I click over to the internet to "research." It's so much easier to sift through e-mail, putter through instant messaging, anything to avoid that threat of the empty page.

I don't often experience what psychologists describe as creative flow. I know that it's a state that overcomes dancers and painters and artists of all stripes. It's a fever that overtakes one, when one loses track of time and one's identity in the creative act. It's merging with the work. A momentary nirvana, when thoughts are emptied out and every breath is drawn in service to the journey.

It's rare when the words flow effortlessly, when my fingers fly across the keyboard. I often have fantasies that I'll have a fabulously productive night. I hope that the muse will strike me with her magic wand, and  I'll be up until three in the morning, writing ten thousand words of deathless prose.  I'll be puffed up with pride in the morning, assured of a breakthrough. The miles will fly by, as if the muse has strapped Hermes' winged sandals upon my feet.

That's not me.

Instead, I'm a plodder. When I'm against a deadline, I stare at my outline-map and figure out approximately how many words I need to finish. I build in some time for revisions and travel delays, divide by the number of days, and gnaw away at the project, bit by bit. It's like expecting to be in a new town every day at nightfall. Without a deadline, I set one. I use a technique I discovered in National Novel Wrting Month - a specific number of words a day. A thousand usually works for me. That allows me to keep the project fresh, the momentum going. I can do more if the situation warrants it, less if Real Life intrudes. But that number allows me to feel as if I'm making some progress without feeling out of breath or panicked.

It doesn't sound glamorous, does it? I guess I have a hard time with my Inner Perfectionist. You know the creature I'm talking about - she goes by many guises. Inner Editor. Inner Critic. The little voice that says "not good enough" whenever  I'm between scenes. The one that wants to count my name and address in the word count because, at least, they are formatted correctly. Her voice is loudest when I'm on the road alone, between plot points on the map, wandering in uncharted territory.

I've talked to a lot of writers who tend to abandon projects around the ten thousand word mark. I think there's something magic about this number. At this point on the creative walk, I tend to realize that I've put on some very uncomfortable shoes for this journey. Sure, they looked pretty at the beginning. But can I finish the journey in them?

I take these imaginary shoes off, let them dangle from my fingers, and continue walking barefoot. There are blisters and thorns. But also the blessed feeling of cool grass between my toes and cool water against my soles.

What little I've experienced of creative flow usually happens in the last chapters of the book, when I can see the intentions and plot threads and images coming together. Then, self-awareness slips a bit. I'm no longer walking; I'm running.

I think those last pages, that exhilaration is what makes it finally worth it. Knowing all that dark ink is behind me, pushing me forward. It's like moving with the wind at my back, when the work has taken on a life of its own.

Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Graphia (September 25, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0547859260
ISBN-13: 978-0547859262

If your home was the last safe place on earth, would you let a stranger in?

In this captivating thriller, an Amish settlement is the last safe haven in a world plagued by an unspeakable horror…

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenag-ers are free to experience non-Amish culture before officially joining the church. But before Rumspringa arrives, Katie’s safe world starts to crumble. It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields, followed by rumors of massive unrest and the disappearance of huge numbers of people all over the world. Something is out there...and it is making a killing.

Unsure why they haven’t yet been attacked, the Amish Elders make a de-cree: No one goes outside their community, and no one is allowed in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man lying just outside the bounda-ry of their land, she can’t leave him to die. She refuses to submit to the Elder’s rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community—but what else is she bringing in with him?


Anya Kalinczyk #1 
Pocket Juno Books
Mass Market Paperback, $7.99
ISBN: 978-1439167656
April 2010 

“One of the most promising debut novels I’ve read in a great while… I’d highly recommend this book to anybody who reads fantasy. It reminds me in many regards…of another exceptional first novel…Emma Bull’s seminal War for the Oaks, and there’s not much higher praise that I can give."
          —Elizabeth Bear on 

“Bickle has something great in Anya. Embers has everything: demons, ghosts, dragons, love, sex, police, and murder.”
          —M.L.N. Hanover, bestselling author of Darker Angels

“Gritty but never grim, Embers is a truly urban fantasy, where the soul of a city haunts every page. I can’t wait for more of Anya and the unforgettable Sparky!"
          —Jeri Smith-Ready, award-winning author of Bad to the Bone and Shade 

Unemployment, despair, anger--visible and invisible unrest feed the undercurrent of Detroit's unease. A city increasingly invaded by phantoms now faces a malevolent force that further stokes fear and chaos throughout the city.

Anya Kalinczyk spends her days as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department, and her nights pursuing malicious spirits with a team of eccentric ghost hunters. Anya--who is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern--suspects a supernatural arsonist is setting blazes to summon a fiery ancient entity that will leave the city in cinders. By Devil's Night, the spell will be complete, unless Anya--with the help of her salamander familiar and the paranormal investigating team --can stop it.

Anya's accustomed to danger and believes herself inured to loneliness and loss. But this time she's risking everything: her city, her soul, and a man who sees and accepts her for everything she is. Keeping all three safe will be the biggest challenge she's ever faced.

EMBERS is available now from and Barnes & Noble. 

Read an excerpt at

Anya Kalinczyk #2
Pocket Juno Books
Mass Market Paperback, $7.99
ISBN 978-1439167687
September 2010 

The second book in Bickle’s series about Anya Kalinczyk is just as wonderful as the first—Anya is a compelling and likable protagonist and Bickle does an outstanding job in her portrayal of the city of Detroit; there are ruins, yes, but also hope in the ashes. Anya never takes herself too seriously and there is a scene in a baby supercenter that is absolutely not to be missed. (4 stars) 
          - RT Book Reviews

...a charming and inventive read.
         -Elizabeth Bear, Realms of Fantasy Magazine, December 2010 


Anya Kalinczyk is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, who holds down a day job as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department—while working 24/7 to exterminate malicious spirits haunting a city plagued by unemployment and despair. Along with her inseparable salamander familiar, Sparky, Anya has seen, and even survived, all manner of fiery hell—but her newest case sparks suspicions of a bizarre phenomenon that no one but her eccentric team of ghost hunters might believe: spontaneous human combustion.

After fire consumes the home of elderly Jasper Bernard, Anya is stunned to discover his remains—or, more precisely, a lack of them; even the fiercest fires leave some trace of their victims—and she is sure this was no naturally occurring blaze. Soon she’s unearthed a connection to a celebrity psychic who preys on Detroit’s poor, promising miracles for money. But Hope Solomon wants more—she’s collecting spirits, and in a frantic race against time, Anya will face down an evil adversary who threatens her fragile relationship with her lover, her beloved Sparky’s freshly hatched newts, and the wandering souls of the entire city.

SPARKS is available for pre-order from Amazon and Barnes & Noble 

Read an excerpt at

Author Bio: 

Laura Bickle has an MA in sociology-criminology (research interests: fear of crime and victimology) and a BA in criminology. She has worked in and around criminal justice since 1997. Although she does read Tarot cards, she's never used them in criminal profiling or to locate lost scientists. She recently took up astronomy, but for the most part her primary role in studying constellations and dark matter is to follow her amateur astronomer-husband around central Ohio toting the telescope tripod and various lenses.

Writing as Laura Bickle, she's the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket - Juno Books. Writing as Alayna Williams, she's the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE.

More info on her urban fantasy and general nerdiness is here:

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Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous epic fantasy romance: Book One, SEEKING A SCRIBE, Book Two, HERITAGE AVENGED, and Book Three, LOST VOLUMES. She has also authored the Ciel's Legacy series, with fast action mermaid/pirate storylines: TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE and TORTUGA TREASURE.  For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.


Laura Bickle said...

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Marsha!

Sullivan McPig said...

Great post, Laura!