I've been trying for weeks—no, months—to think of something to say in this post, but I've come up empty every time. Sometimes things that only garner a passing feeling of interest in some people mean more than words to others, and this is one of those things. This is the first time that publication of a story wasn't truly up to me. It's the first time one of my stories has landed in an anthology with works written by other people. It's the first time I'll have "published published" a short story (meaning it's for sale). It's a lot of firsts. And so I haven't really got anything to say except thank you to everyone who's been involved.
Thank you to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for giving me the desire to write.
Thank you to my family, for putting up with your resident weirdo. (Especially my sister!)
Thank you to the Twitter writing community for helping me to not feel so alone on this writing adventure.
And thank you to the Phoenix Fiction Writers for selecting "The Timekeeper's Daughter" to rub elbows with so many other amazing stories in Timely.
Ticking. It’s all that Annora Prevoir has heard since the day that the Author gave her the unwanted gift. No matter what she does, sleeping or waking, the passage of time echoes inside her head. Most suppose that her gift is particularly well-suited to her job as Royal Timekeeper, but it doesn’t tell her what to do about the drought lowering the river that powers the Clock’s water wheel. For centuries, the people of Epoque Pacifique have looked to the Clock to tell them how to regulate their day. But Annora can’t stop the shrinking river, or the ticking that haunts her every waking moment.
With Timely's release coming in just five days (I'm not screaming you're screaming!), it is my tremendous honor to be able to write a spotlight post about the very first story in the anthology: the "Clockwork Toymaker" by Olivia Cornwell. Centering around a broken-but-loving father searching for the courage to visit his daughter in the hospital, this is a story with heart. I found myself drawn to it in the same way that I am with many of my other favorite stories, and I enjoyed it as much the second time I read it as I did the first time. It's bursting with sweet father-daughter love, as well as that special kind of whimsy that comes with airships and clockwork mechanics.
It might be easy, in a story like this, for Liam to come across as a bit of a coward—after all, Sylvia is the only family he has left and he’s delegated all hospital communications to a friend. But Cornwell does a great job of painting him as a realistic, three-dimensional father with very human fears and flaws. He wants what’s best for his daughter, even if he can’t quite face up to the fact that their life is never going to be the same. But, ultimately, he does—with the help of a little girl named Maggie, who allows him to sit with her until he feels brave.
Liam and Maggie’s unique friendship is another sweet highlight of the story, with Maggie providing an ear that is enough like (and unlike) Sylvia’s that Liam finally finds the courage he needs through talking to her. All in all, this is an excellent start to a wonderful anthology, and I can't wait for y'all to read it!
When I was planning this post I thought it would be fun to interview Cornwell, (because who knows a story better than its writer?), so without further ado I present to you the author herself!
1. What inspired you to take the "Clockwork Toymaker" in the direction of steampunk?
In its very first draft years ago for a college course, I remember loving the idea of a toymaker whose toys consist of clock parts. Steampunk is a genre I also really love, and I’ve wanted to explore further. So it was my first foray into the genre, and I gave it all the gears and steampunk-ness I could muster.
2. What’s your favorite thing about the story?
Liam is probably one of my favorite things about the story. I love his character, and his arc. I love the way he interacts with children, and how he can connect with them.
3. Did the story ever change in unexpected ways during writing?
Originally, Sylvia wasn’t going to survive the accident. But I realized that original draft I’d submitted for school was an incredibly depressing “Christmas time” story, so Sylvia survived. I’m really glad I changed that!
4. What was the most challenging part of writing it?
Probably as I was writing the first draft. I wrote it in a little notebook during my preschool students’ naptime. So I had a small window to write in, mixed with trying to keep my students from going nuts.
5. Do you have any “fun facts” you’d like to share about the story?
This short story is within the same world/setting as a longer novel I wrote during my first ever NaNoWriMo! The novel focuses more on a relative of Noah’s, but Liam is a major character, and there’s a murder mystery element and Liam being generally adorable.
6. If you could meet any of the characters from the story, who would you pick?
I’d love to meet Liam. Mostly to give him hugs and tell him it’s all gonna be okay, but also maybe to watch him work and snoop around his workshop.
7. What do you hope readers take away from reading The Clockwork Toymaker?
To not waste the time God has given us when things look dark and lost. There is hope, and we can use the time left to us to get up and heal. To be brave enough to choose to keep moving forward to healing.
After a tragic airship accident, clockwork toymaker Liam Killian is left with a broken heart and a surviving child, but no courage to go visit her. He throws himself into his work only to find that his hands won't stop shaking. When he finally makes it to the hospital, he befriends a little girl named Maggie, who gives him the courage to face the future, with all its pain and uncertainty.
There's a lot to look forward to in this anthology. (You can grab your copy of Timely starting June 26th!)
On January 8th, 2020, I began writing To Live and To Breathe. I had been daydreaming about the sequel since before What Is and Could Be was finished, beguiling the time I spent shifting books in my college library with the characters that had become like family. I thought it would be a fairly quick first draft, like its predecessor had been. I thought I would have finished it by the time summer rolled around.
But suddenly COVID hit, and Timothy wouldn’t talk to me. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” I fretted. “I bit off more than I can chew trying to write a murder mystery.” Between adapting to pandemic life, grieving the lost opportunities we faced all around the globe, and preparing to transfer to university, I was lucky if I wrote for more than fifteen minutes at a time.
I’d write, and I’d stop, and the guilt would drive me back to re-read the previous chapters just to reassure myself that it wasn’t total trash. And you know—like any first draft—it wasn’t. It needed work, but it had merit.
So I kept at it through spring, and summer, and winter, and when 2020 was almost over I wrote “The End” on the book that had stayed with me the whole year long. It’s a story about struggle, and not being able to see the light. It’s about the hunger for the good and right and true things, even when life doesn't reflect any of it. But most of all it’s a story of hope, even when the faith you thought you had seems hard to find.
As always, I hope it blesses you.
Timothy Wright spends his days reading, writing, and arguing with his favorite parrot. But sometimes, scraping out a living at the nearest newspaper leaves him feeling more drained than rewarded. He wants to write stories about the things that matter, not news articles about the latest fluctuation in fruit prices. But when an aspiring doctor trying to fund his education on a reporter’s salary appeals to him for help keeping his job, Timothy finds himself drawn into a web of murder, intrigue, and dark family secrets that leave him wondering at the difference between living and breathing—and whether he’ll ever have the courage to do the things that frighten him.
The first two chapters of To Live and To Breathe are live on Wattpad! After this week, I plan to post new chapters on Fridays and Sundays. Follow me on Wattpad or Twitter to receive updates when they come out!
Some of you may know that I’m a college student, and like many college students, I have a somewhat perverse streak in me that will unaccountably jump at any opportunity to temporarily avoid homework. Don’t get me wrong—homework is important—it just isn’t so important that I can resist the siren call of any excuse to write something new (and fictional) when essays have been on the menu for a while. To those of you who have read What Is and Could Be, this story might be beginning to sound familiar... and you’d be right. About midway through the term the student leadership decided to host a flash fiction contest, and wouldn’t you know—I thought, “Why not?” It wasn’t as if I didn’t already have enough to do.
So I wrote ”Once” around the feeling you get when you’re standing somewhere and you begin to realize that the walls around you have seen lives pass them by—some good, some bad. They’ve witnessed happiness and sadness, and maybe a little grief. Maybe nothing extraordinary ever happened there, but people were there, and that was enough.
I hope this story blesses you.
It was one of those white-hot summer days—the ones when the cicadas humming in the trees make someone want to do nothing but drowse in a shady hammock. I couldn’t have told anyone why I went for a stroll along that blistering sidewalk, or why I found myself at the old Abel place. It wasn’t as if there was anything to see but rank weeds, a broken lawn chair, and a roof missing shingles, but something drew me there as sure as curiosity killed the cat. Some say the place is haunted, but I think it’s only rats, skittering their tiny claws over the roof beams to scare the kids.
Anyway, there I stood. And there it stood. The stuccoed walls had begun to crack and crumble, giving in to the slow passage of time. As I looked at the broken windows yellowed with cobwebs and the dry brown lawn home now only to grasshoppers and lizards, I realized that the dead thing before me had once been part of someone’s life.
Children had once played on this lawn. Doubtless, some daring young adventurer had skinned his knee coasting his bike down the same sidewalk that had nearly burnt through my sandals. On the left of the two-story house were a few crazy fence posts, all that remained of a garden choked by thistles. I saw a mother there picking tomatoes, enjoying the scarlet-red firstfruits of her labor before any made it to sandwiches and salsa.
My feet crunched the sun-baked earth as I stepped off the curb, wading through the waist-high grass in silence. The peeling door hung listless before me, frame warped, and held on only by a hinge and a few rusty screws. How long had the house been here? Every day I ignored it, too busy to remember what had been. I stepped inside.
Owing largely to college running me over like a freight train, and the next book in the series being the problem child of the Warriors of Aralan family, it has been well over two years since I published my last book. Now that the release of Eye of the Storm (yes, the problem child) is finally here, I can't even begin to describe to you what this moment means.
To put it bluntly, Eye of the Storm was one of the most headache-inducing first drafts I have ever had the honor of writing. It's the kind of thing you look at later and wonder why you ever thought you could write anything at all—because if you could, how could you turn out something so awful? There were a lot of tears, prayers, and frustration along the way.
But you know what? Even horrible, awful, terrible first drafts can be edited. And given enough time (read: patience), they might even turn out... dare I say it? Good. I'm not guaranteeing that you'll love it, since reading is more subjective than many people like to admit, but I did my best to create something I would want to read.
So do this author a favor and grab a copy of Eye of the Storm for its release price of $0.99! Even though it's #8 in the series, you can read it without spoilers if you've also read Journey to Freedom, the book directly before it. (Which also happens to be $0.99 for a limited time.)
- Katelyn Buxton
Josiah thought that he had seen the last of his hypocritical family members. The abandoned wilds of Linfort suit him just fine, and learning to work with his hands has brought him more satisfaction than executing a new sword-fighting move ever did. But when a herald is chased into Linfort by a pack of wolves, Josiah is disturbed from his peaceful monotony and once again set on an adventure that will change his life. Will he be able to cross the Eastern Sea in time to find the cure for his brother’s illness, or will Aralan lose its only heir?
What Readers are Saying
"Eye of the Storm is an engrossing blend of darkly gritty and yet somehow magical." - Squire W.
"I loved how Buxton’s writing goes into the depths of the struggle in the human heart." - Erin D.
"I'm just going to say right off the top, that I need the next book in this series." - Julia G.
Step back about five months with me, and picture for a moment a creativity-starved student with a full load of credits about to finish up her first year of college. She was working a part-time job, volunteering in two different places, and—like most people who feel like butter scraped across too much bread—stressed. Writing had taken the back seat for upwards of six months, because at the end of the day, she only had enough energy left to curl up with a good book and disappear.
The “good book” she chose to read that April was Persuasion. It served its purpose as a lovely bit of escapism, but part way through, a minor character (who never even attained to the dignity of a first name) was suddenly hurt. The boy soon recovered from his injuries, but it left her wondering... what could have happened to him, had he not been in an Austen novel?
I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that the college student is me, and that even when I have no time to write, my brain simply won’t shut up with story ideas. First there is one character, then two, then a family, and a handful of scenes. It’s really out of control. So on April 17th, (a Wednesday), I opened the Notes app on my phone, and wrote the first 500 or so words that would soon grow to be a 46,000 word novel.
That novel is What Is and Could Be, and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever written before. It’s my love letter to many of the classic books that have changed and inspired me. I wrote it on my phone (now moved to the Google Docs app) a couple hundred words at time, during lunch, my morning commute, or whenever I could scrape together a few spare minutes to escape. I began it without any idea where the story would lead, and finished it four months later having rediscovered my love of writing one rainy day, earthy garden, bookish MC later.
Now, What Is and Could Be is going up on Wattpad. Two chapters are posted today, but in the future it will be updated every Sunday morning with one chapter. I sincerely hope that you will join me on this new adventure!
- Katelyn Buxton
Timothy Wright’s life revolves around stories. Ever since he had his accident, books have been his only window to the outside. The characters inside are family—he’s sailed the high seas in quest of a white whale, plunged through rabbit holes, and been scolded by the ghost of Christmas present. But when a cheerful Veridan maid comes into his family’s employment, he begins to remember that life could be more than what happens between the pages of his books. In fact, it may be that of all the adventures he’s called home, the most frightening, exhilarating, and rewarding one is yet to come.
A couple of notes: What Is and Could Be is not historical fiction, despite leaning very heavily on the ways and customs of the nineteenth century. It is also fairly unedited, so keep that in mind as we travel this journey together!
This book has tried my patience more than any other book I've ever written. (How's that for an affectionate author intro?) We authors like to call our books our children, and in a way they are. But if that's true, then Eye of the Storm is the problem child in the Warriors of Aralan family. Sure, there's plenty of things to love about it (dragons, sea voyages, swords, and castles, to name a few), but to make it presentable to anyone except myself was a task worthy of the Champions of Aralan.
"Why should I read this horrible book if even the author doesn't like it?" you ask—and that's a very good question. The answer is very simple: children grow up. Yes, even bookish children. The baby that was born without even knowing how to walk will eventually run a 5k and leave your creaky old authorly bones behind. Eye of the Storm has grown up. And if you'd like to take a peek behind the lovely cover I have presented to you today, you can! Just click the button below, and you can sign up to be an advanced review copy reader. Haven't read Journey to Freedom? No problem. I have a fix for that too. Just follow the link, and you can get a copy of both!
All told, September was a very good reading month! I began it with David Copperfield by Charles Dickens—followed by Child of the Kaites by Beth Wangler, and Agatha by E.B. Dawson—and ended it with Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island, all by L.M. Montgomery. Any time I find myself unable to fit all of the books I read onto the blog post header, I know I've done a lot of reading!
And so, I present to you these six reviews, in a post which will probably be the last of its kind for a while. Life has gotten much busier of late, and as much as I love writing book reviews, (and blogging in general), they're both one thing too many at the moment. I may continue to write the occasional short review on Goodreads, but for now, I'm going to take a break from all blogging. Thank you so much to everyone who has been on this journey with me!
My rating: ★★★★
David Copperfield reads like a fictional autobiography, and from the very beginning, the first-person narrative put me in mind of Great Expectations. I was invested in David from the moment he was born at twelve o’clock on a Friday night, and the suffering of his boyhood did nothing but strengthen it. He could have become hardened and closed himself off from the world, but he didn’t, and I found that to be a refreshing change.
As is usual with Dickens, the characters are vivid and varied, the settings are so life-like I could almost taste the salt air of the seaside, and all the subplots twist together to create a satisfying finale with no loose threads. By the end, the good-hearted but rather young David has matured enough to discipline his heart while still retaining everything that made him such a likeable character to begin with.
There were also a couple very unique things about this book that I would like to mention:
1.) Both a dwarf and an (autistic?) man were portrayed in a positive light.
2.) The girl the protagonist marries is not necessarily the right one.
Many books—old ones, especially—tend to look down on people just because they’re different, so the fact that these two characters even existed, was a pleasant surprise. I have to admit that I winced a little when Miss Mowcher first came on the scene, but she soon showed that bodily defects do not equal mental ones. And Mr. Dick, by contrast, proved that what some would call those same mental “defects,” were not defects at all, and actually enabled him to see the world in a way few others could.
As for the second point, I won’t say much for fear of spoilers, but so often, the first person the protagonist really falls for ends up being Mr. or Miss Right. The fact that this trope was not used was a refreshing twist.
Content comes in the form of childhood abuse, drinking, one passing reference to “lovemaking” in connection with a honeymoon, and a light smattering of language. There’s also a Lydia Bennett-esque elopement (minus the marriage), and the aftermath of such a disastrous decision, in which Lydia is repentant.
David Copperfield is not merely a pointless, wandering chronicle of David’s life—it’s a tale of hasty decisions, and living with them. It’s a journey from innocent child, to impulsive youth, and finally, to a matured man with an understanding of life, and of family. It’s a tale of growing up, and the mistakes we make as human beings. And I think that’s something we can all relate to.
I'm going to college!
To celebrate, I've decided to make three of the Warriors of Aralan books $0.99 for three days! *confetti* Branwen’s Quest, Finding Hope, and Journey to Freedom are books one, four, and seven, respectively, but each of them marks a beginning in the series, and can be read alone without confusion. (Although if you take it into your head to buy the rest of the series, I certainly won't stand in your way.) ;P
Now, for the best part. If you've been wanting to check out the Warriors of Aralan series, now's your chance to get three of them for $0.99 apiece, instead of $2.99. It's pretty much three for the price of one. So go get ‘em!
Branwen's Quest (Warriors of Aralan #1)
When the royal herald came announcing a mandatory Tournament of Warriors, Branwen was the last one to get excited. Sure, she was a good enough archer, but why should she be forced to go to the tournament just because the king said so? She had nothing to prove! Yet when she got there her competitive spirit took over and she succeeded—enough so that she was singled out by the king to take a difficult journey with three others who were as different as night and day from each other. Why? To recover the king and queen's missing crowns. Will they ever be able to overcome their differences and get along to complete their mission, or will they fall prey to an unexpected danger posed from within?
Finding Hope (Warriors of Aralan #4)
Branwen’s fourteen-year-old daughter Rhoslyn, is intrigued when she comes home one day to find three strangers in the house, arguing with her parents. Who are these men? Two of them appear to be the same age as her father, but one of them is younger—much younger, about her age. He turns out to be Allister, Rhoslyn’s cousin, and he with his father and uncle have come all the way from Norwynnd. Needless to say, Rhoslyn and her best friend Bradyn get off to a bad start with Allister when they find him unusually secretive, and instead of deterring Rhoslyn with his bad attitude, Allister unwittingly encourages her curiosity. She knows he has a secret, and she’d determined to find out what it is. To complicate matters, a dark-skinned man from Calima, Aralan’s closest neighboring country, appears the day after Rhoslyn’s relatives, bringing with him a new religion, and it looks like he’s going to be there a while due to his broken leg. While he’s there he insists on telling others about his faith, and Rhoslyn doesn’t know what to think. Why is her cousin so secretive? Why does this man from Calima think she needs God? And most of all, why have her relatives from Norwynnd come to Linfort now, after all these years?
Journey to Freedom (Warriors of Aralan #7)
Josiah is a prince... albeit one that has just about had it with his hypocritical parents and grandparents, the ruling family of Aralan. Sure, he's not that much different than they are, really—but when they turn down a small country's plea for help in an oncoming war, Josiah is furious. A full one-eighth of his blood comes from that country, and he can't believe his ears when they send the emissaries away without a promise of assistance. So he flees the castle, hires a cook to feed him in his travels, and breathes the free forest air for the first time in his twenty-one years of life. Sleeps on the ground for the first time in his life. And argues—constantly—with the most stubborn cook he's ever met in his life. Emma is not one to take orders quietly, despite coming from the poorest part of Freymont; a stark contrast with her sweet-tempered, eleven-year-old sister named Hadassah. Add in Josiah's crazy hermit uncle, a pair of mischievous identical twins, an unheard-of amount of sass, a war of epic proportions, and a betrayal or two—and you have a Journey to Freedom.
This month, every book I finished was written by an indie author, and that's always a win in my opinion! I read Brett and Rodge by E.B. Dawson, Discerned by Sarah Addison-Fox, and By Ways Unseen, by Daniel Dydek. I enjoyed all of them, so if you're looking for some independent authors to read, look no further!
My rating: ★★★★
Brett fills in the backstory of a character Dawson first introduced in The Traveler. It's a bit of a feels-jerker, (which is always a compliment in my book), and as always with Dawson's writing, concise and to-the-point. It was nice to have Brett's history illuminated, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the Lost Empire short stories!
My rating: ★★★
I remembered Rodge as being one of my favorite minor characters from The Traveler—aside from Anissa’s house ;)—so I was excited to dive into this short story and learn more about him.
His history, unfortunately, is one that too many share... an illegitimate child raised by his mother, and a father that isn’t often around. Add to that the fact that he’s brilliant but bored, and he soon gets himself in trouble. I think I would have liked this story a lot more if I had been able to see inside Rodge’s head. Sure, he had a rough start in life, but I wasn’t really able to connect with him in the time given.
It’s still a very good short story, however, and marked by Dawson’s precise, clean-cut writing style. I’m glad to have gotten to know Rodge better!
Welcome to Katelyn Buxton Books! I'm a Christian author and blogger, with a passion for writing stories that are not just enjoyable, but also lead people closer to Jesus. Feel free to look around, and enjoy your stay!