Ben Langhinrichs

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September, 2019
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Ben Langhinrichs, Author


Welcome, friend, and enter.


Wed 21 Aug 2019, 10:13 PM
As a writer, I find that there is always a push and pull between stretching your wings and trying new things and returning to more comfortable territory. It is not that one is better than the other, just that you need the new to grow but you also need to rely on what you have learned before.
 
In Danger Tastes Dreadful, my debut MG which came out in 2018, everything was fairly new to me. I'd written many short stories and poems and gotten them published in a variety of magazines, but the idea of a full novel, even a short lower middle grade novel, was new. But here and there in the novel, the trolls sing songs, and those songs are my comfort zone.
 
In the novel I am querying now, a more ambitious fairy tale/science fiction mashup. there are only a couple of poems, but there are several embedded short stories. They enhance and drive the narrative, but they also provide me with that comfort zone in an otherwise somewhat scary and ambitious novel.
 
But sometimes even the poems are a risk. This is my first poem written in a somewhat hip-hop style (though Lin-Manuel Miranda needn't worry much about the competition). This comes from an unfinished novel that is very unlikely to see the light of day.
 
But the poem lives on.
 
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Standing high up in the night sky, bright eyes, 
Breathin’ fire past his deep sighs, 
It's a dragon, outta sight size, but he's draggin'.
There is fright inside.
 
Not just any dragon, this is Hoosaphrass,
Pay attention class, he don’t take no sass,
But did I mention he’s ‘most outta gas?
 
Shoulders slumped, he fights against despair
He wants out of there, if he just didn't care
He would dare to jump and fight again
Be alight again.
 
But even sharpened claws and teeth to give you pause
don't always make the laws, or even break the laws
Others stronger make you, take you, break you.
Why? Because!
 
When the warlocks came along, came on strong 
Their magic and their potions far too strong, 
twisted laws and caused commotion
Dragons fought to right the wrong, 
but were better in their notion
than in their execution, 
hissing steaming hurting dying in the ocean.
 
Now the warlocks rule the land with an iron hand, 
it is out of hand
Gotta make a plan, gotta take a stand, 
find a way to get them off the land
But their magic is so powerful, can't just demand 
that they scram
If he only had a plan.
 
"Take chances, make mistakes." ~Ms. Frizzle, The Magic School Bus

Copyright © 2019 Ben Langhinrichs

Fri 12 Jul 2019, 09:51 AM
Mismatched shoes and socks
 
Authors get told "No!" even more often than small kittens. No, we don't want to publish your short story. No, I don't want to represent you and your novel. No, the acquisitions department doesn't think we can sell your book. Sometimes it is couched in nicer terms, "Doesn't fit my list" or "Not quite right for me, but this is a subjective business", though quite often it is couched in silence with no response means no policies. Even if we make it through the process and our book is published, we face sometimes hostile reviewers and readers.
 
Too often, we refer to all of these negative responses as Rejection. Too often, we feel as if we ourselves have been rejected.
 
Instead, I try to think of this as Mismatch rather than Rejection. When an agent or editor says no, it is about the match being wrong and not about me or my work. Seen that way, I need to simply keep looking for the right match, or keep polishing and improving my book's chances for a good match. Even a round peg may not go into a round hole unless it is smooth and the right size. Your book may be just about right, but need smoothing or trimming to find the right match.
 
Same with negative reviews. That is just a mismatch between reader and book. No book is right for everybody. But there are readers out there for your stories, poems, books. You need to find them, and when the right match occurs, it is a wonderful thing.
 

Copyright © 2019 Ben Langhinrichs

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Tue 9 Jul 2019, 12:58 PM
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Because we are not sensible enough to get one kitten, we got a second a few days later. We met them both the same day, but were less certain about this one. This is Sophie. We sometimes call her Chewie for somewhat obvious reasons. She and Tasha are very different. Sophie sleeps a lot, and moves more much slowly and hesitantly, but the two are starting to learn to play together. Plus, they both slept on our bed last night.
 
Sophie is very hard to photograph because all that fluffy fur is dark and mottled, and her eyes tend to disappear unless she is very close and they are wide open. This is about the only photo I've managed yet.
 
The one thing both kittens have in common is a great reluctance to let me concentrate on writing or work or anything except kittens. Oh well.

Copyright © 2019 Ben Langhinrichs

Sat 6 Jul 2019, 04:27 PM
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Writing can be a lonely endeavor, and it doesn't hurt to have a writing buddy. May I introduce Natasha, whom we usually call Tasha, a six-week-old rescue kitten who joined our household a couple of days ago. She doesn't quite understand yet that being a writing buddy does not entail climbing on the keyboard or batting at my hand as I type, but I'm sure she'll learn.
 
Right?
 
C'mon, falks, I have a lot of writing to get done. Sigh. Yes, Tasha, I'll play with you.

Copyright © 2019 Ben Langhinrichs

Mon 24 Jun 2019, 07:03 PM
 
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Welcome to the new website. There may be a few signs of construction still around, but it is mostly functional and ready. I hope this design allows me to update and add features more easily. Look around, enjoy the extras, and let me know if there is anything you see missing or would like to see.

Copyright © 2019 Ben Langhinrichs

Sat 2 Mar 2019, 03:35 PM
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I am back in the query trenches. Wish me luck!
 
My latest novel is another middle grade fantasy, but very different than Danger Tastes Dreadful. I like to think of it as a middle-grade Into the Woodsmeets War of the Worlds. While my debut novel was more straightforward and usually termed "lower middle grade", this novel is longer, more sophisticated, and uses an unusual narrative structure. With seven embedded original fairy tales (one is a classic fairy tale retold from a very different POV), a three part structure that echoes how classic fairy tales unfold, and a slew of literary and pop culture fairy tale references, this novel is funny, sweet, and ardently pro-consent. Told in first person present from the point of view of a quiet boy surrounded by strong girls and women, this turns many fairy tale tropes on their heads without ever sacrificing the compelling narrative that drives him forward.

With lots of help from critique partners and beta readers, this has been polished and strengthened to the point where I am ready to send it out to agents and see how it goes. Will I stop tweaking and rewriting? Probably not, especially as a couple of straggler beta readers may come up with new suggestions. But as self-critical as I can be, I am comfortable releasing my baby to the publishing world. It is always a leap of faith, but eventually you have to either leap or stay glued to the cliff.

Because there are several important witches in this novel, I include here a witchy poem, this one published in Feathertale in 2010. 
 

Wicked Witch's Lament


Sitting in my castle gloomy,
Feeling old and rather rheumy,
Thinking of the peasants beaten,
Scrumptious children I have eaten,
Nothing evil left to do or see.

Getting old (two hundred eighty),
Every sagging bit more weighty,
Worst of all, I'm oh so smelly
Covered in bat guts, newt jelly,
A shame a bath would spell catastrophe.

Centuries of grime so sickly,
Crawling bugs make me feel tickly,
Thoughts of bathing drive me crazy,
Air around me dank and hazy,
Could a bit of water dangerous be?

Tempting thoughts of one good washing,
Dreaming of the soapy sloshing.
Dive into a bath all bubbly,
Never more to feel so troubly;
Cloak and broomstick all that's left of me.


Copyright © 2019 Ben Langhinrichs