Magic Tea





Renovating has become a full-time job for me and the kids. The U.P. is a majorly distracting place to live, so… to keep us on track, at the beginning of each day, I make a list of tasks for us to accomplish. Yesterday’s list:



(Dog gone dryer…but thanks fence!)

Pay bills

Balance checkbook

Get coffee


(I loved marking this one off.🤗)

Pick up building materials


(Thanks, lumber dude for loading us up. Man, this coffee is delish.)

•Paint ceiling


Dun. Dun. Dun. Dog gone it–NO MARK.

We got everything done yesterday but the ceiling– the biggest, hardest, and most dreaded item on the list.


Yes, those are weird streaks and brush marks in the picture. Please, don’t get me started on our ceiling…I don’t want to talk about our ceiling. I intensely dislike our ceiling. I wish I could go back and warn the past me and stop “me” from ever beginning this month-long nightmare in the first place…but I can’t, so I’ll warn you instead: KEEP YOUR CEILING TEXTURE. You’ll end up just adding texture BACK on that took you DAYS to get off.)

We had to skip the task that begins with the letter ‘c’ because the huge pail of flat latex that we needed was a whopping $130 at our small town lumber store vs. the less painful $48 at good ol’ Menards in town (45 min. away). Umm, yeah. We slid this over to today’s list.

*Ugh* I don’t like leaving an item uncrossed or unchecked. So, to help ease my itchy fingers, I added an unwritten task to yesterday’s list and I got a little head start on my “Magic Tea” staining project.

What? What’s “Magic Tea”, you ask? Hang tight, and I’ll walk you through what I did. And, yes…it is extremely magical! It was so magically awesome, I didn’t feel bad about leaving the ceiling undone…well, not as bad.

Step 1: Assemble your ingredients/tools. Black tea, vinegar, steel wool, two brushes, a ball jar with lid and seal, a mug for your tea, and sealer.


The night before your project, pour vinegar in your ball jar and stuff in some pieces of steel wool.

This part reallllly freaked me out and disturbed me. There is no measuring here. You literally pour in your vinegar and you literally rip pieces of steel wool and stuff them in (the jar pictured is after I used it). I did four, walnut-sized pieces and filled the vinegar up to the neck of the jar. I was also super alarmed that the color didn’t change. I mean, I think the vinegar may have rusted a tad… but that’s it.

Cover, shake, or stir your vinegar soup and set it outside or in the garage for at least 24 hrs. Outside… because I read it could explode (?😲?)…and 24 hrs for scientific reasons that are truly over my head.

Black tea: Brew it and set it out with your vinegar soup. Why? Because I’m an impatient person and just wanted everything ready to go. Note: I had my stuff waiting a week. My tea molded and since I wasn’t drinking it and my wood was, I just sifted the gunk out.

Step Two: Select your wood. I’m using pine tongue and groove for a wall project. I hear that different wood types will give you different colors. Pine should turn a weathered grayish/dark brown. We shall see!


(Hi, Finn!! *Meow*)

Step Three: Paint on your tea and let it dry…about an hour. Not much change here yet….


(Hi, Emmie! *Meow*)

Step Four: Paint on your vinegar soup. (You can use the same brush as the tea.) You will see a teeny change in places, but walk away for an hour and don’t hoover. It makes the wood uncomfortable.


It’s starting….😀


Repeat the process as many times as you want to until you get the color you want. This is after 3 times of painting on the vinegar soup and “Magic Tea”.


It turned out the PERFECT color! Don’t worry about mixing up the steps. I think I did…well, I know I did…I always mess up…and, hey, look…it still worked.

Kris got the ceiling paint after work yesterday, so unfortunately, today is ceiling day…but…if I get done at a reasonable time, I’m going to get to Step 5: putting on the waterproof sealer. This step will not only protect the finish of the wood, it will also bring out the delicious tones in the grain. I don’t need that second brush that I listed for you in the needed supplies. The sealer that I chose is water clean-up. Wahooo! Easy-peasy.

Yesterday was a good day. I learned a great lesson to let things go how they must. I gave my shoulders another day’s rest and I saved some cash letting Kris pick up the ceiling paint after work.

I think today we’ll use what we saved on the paint (and this super, cheap “Magic Tea” stain) and go support one of our local businesses and get some hand-dipped ice cream. YUM!

Keep on the lookout today, folks. Blessings can be found in the every day if you look. Look past your disappointments. Great things are out there. Intentionally look and find yours.

Hugs, friends!



The Carpet Man



It’s hard to believe we’re one month into our move–the one that took us 414 miles away from our dream home and 6 1/2 hours away from the friends and family that we hold dear (Mama, aka. Grandma B.😭).


We actually did it. *Gulp*.

We’ve been talking about moving up here for years…but it was just the “dream-talk” we’d spew after vacation the entire ride home, or while we unpacked our new U.P. tees and sweatshirts into our closets. My husband’s job turned our depressed chatter into reality in December 2017 when they flipped our world upside down. The company “cleaned house” and scooped Kris up in the dustpan with all the other managers. Long story made super short–their actions led us here…living full time in the U.P. I shouldn’t give this company full power, however. The might and divinity belongs to our soverign God. This company was just an instrument that God used to bless our lives in the season that they were required to–and they “let go” of my husband when they were asked to. Hindsight…it’s all good and all a part of His plan…and I guess I’m kinda sorry for calling upper management the idiots and jerks that I felt they were. They were just doing what they were told to do…right?  😂

Last month, a new course of life was chosen for us. It’s been a scary, defeating, and exhausting four weeks…yet, oddly exhilarating and exciting. Documenting our journey seems like a good way to keep my head on tight. It feels kind of bobbly and loose these days with so many bickering emotions clamoring for attention…so, here I am…keeping an account on my blog…so I can keep the nuts and bolts tight as I watch the Lord’s plan unfold.

At the month mark, I think we have finally moved past the feeling that we’re on this weird, super-long, hard-working vacation. Our Burlington, Michigan home feels like a far-off memory of order, comfort, and structure. I miss those days, but in our chaos, there is hope that those three traits are just over the hilltop. This hope is in the form of a carpet layer…and hallelujah…

…he’s coming out to measure for our carpet…. today!

I’m sooooo SUPER excited! I’m “Domino’s-pizza-delivery-man”excited! If I wasn’t so tired from all these renovations, I’d be zipping around the house high-fiving the kids and twirling around like a Disney princess with our cats . The carpet man is just one step closer towards my dream of clean feet and happy shins.


Our current commercial grade carpet has zero pad (notice the delightful paint, ceiling texture, and wallpaper glue patterns that we added?😂). Think the carpet that you see at church or at the dentist’s office. It’s just fine under the soft support of your shoes—but it’s totally not so fine if you are a barefoot goddess with heavy feet. Ouch! I have to do this weird, hobble-walk-thing to the kitchen every morning until my muscles chill out.

The carpet man that is coming out today is our lantern. He’s the happy guide on our dark trail that illuminates the promises of a renewed sense of what we are missing: order, comfort, structure…and happy feet and legs muscles.




To most, carpet doesn’t mean much. It’s underfoot… it’s under our noses… and it’s something you really don’t notice until it’s just not there.



Today, the carpet man will be just measuring, but the next time he comes out…


…he’ll be laying out squishy, clean comfort!!!!

I’m super stoked about the carpet man coming out today. I bet God is, too. This is just one of the many happy surprises He has planned for us in our new life. Sore shins and dirty feet are just a part of the journey. They help us appreciate the soft, comfy spots of our travels when we get there. I can’t wait to see what else He has planned. When I discover it, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, take time to sink your feet in your carpet and thank Him for your comfort today.

HUGS, friends!


Want to hear MORE of our U.P. adventures? Visit Kelsey on her YouTube channel, With Sisu. Click on the title to visit. Like, comment, and subscribe to keep up to date.

When There Isn’t Much to Know


when there isn't much to know

In a few short days, my family and I will be leaving our comfy farmhouse in the country for a fixer upper in Michigan’s upper peninsula. We’ve been anticipating this 6 ½ hour move for months and now that the time has finally come, my desires have decided to stop getting along. I want to leave; I don’t want to leave. I want fresh and new; I want old and comfortable. I want exploration and adventure; I want familiarity and structure. Cornfields; wilderness. Farmhouse charm; up north ranch…the debate over what I want is pulling me into two opposite directions.

I’m afraid and yet, I’m not afraid—if that makes any sense. I’m afraid to meet new people, find new doctors, and shop at new stores. I’m terrified of the unknowns, but what is balancing out the fear of the unknown is focusing on what I do know—that the U.P. is exactly where the Lord wants us to be. It’s terrifying to give up control, but I know from years of experience that “letting go and letting God” is the ONLY thing that works when it comes to handling my anxiety. Letting go doesn’t come naturally. It takes work to daily turn my fear over to Him. Practicing I Peter 5:7 allows my Father to be the mediator between all my brain’s opposing forces. Sitting back and watching my Daddy work this past year has been exciting. I love his attention to detail in making all our puzzle pieces fit. It’s giving me the strength and courage to handle all the uncertainty that lies ahead. I’m looking forward to the time when I can see the complete picture.

We can have similar fears in our writing, especially when it comes to the unknowns in the historical genre. It’s fun to write—when we have all the facts—but the past can look just as hazy and as uncertain as our futures do and this can yank us in the opposite direction. We get discouraged, we get hammered by “writers block”, and we contemplate tapping-out. How do we go forward when we can’t see the complete picture? How do we finish a project that has as many missing puzzle pieces as a slice of swiss cheese? Our move has been full of life lessons. Let’s see how I can apply it to our writing dilemma.


Make It Personal

Over the past few weeks, we have been trying to fit in as many dinner and coffee dates as we can get. We know we will have Facebook and texting to keep in touch with all of our family and friends, but it’s just not the same as being physically present with them. We will miss their sweet faces, their warm hugs, and the sound of their laughter. Nothing beats good, old-fashioned, human contact.

In research, we often forget to step past the Google bar on our phones or laptops. The electronic age has made it easy to hoard information with a few clicks to the mouse and so often, “real” people are overlooked. You can add interesting, personal facts to your story by adding sources who are knowledgeable about what you are writing about. How do you find them? I found mine through simple chit-chat. At a dentist visit, I told my dentist all about my book in between tooth pokes and scrapings. It just so happens the man is an outdoor ninja. The guy is a treasure trove of facts when it comes to the outdoors and natural medicine and he has been extremely helpful in guiding me towards resources of my book’s time era. Don’t be afraid to chat-up your book with the business professionals you run into—even with your scary dentist. You never know—you might find valuable nuggets of information and find that your dentist isn’t all that scary at all.

An obvious and less social way to leave a shout-out for people-in-the-know is Facebook… but have you ever considered Instagram?

White Wolf and the Ash Princess is a modern telling, and it is both cultural and historical. There were many things Google couldn’t tell me about the Native American culture in the seventeenth century.  Much isn’t written, mostly because Native Americans passed down their history verbally. To fill in areas Google failed, I searched Instagram and found help through an Ojibwe artist in Canada. It was scary to reach out to a stranger, but stepping towards the human element gave me a unique look at the culture and people—and I made a new friend.


Take It to The Road

My family and I are moving just outside our favorite vacation spot, The Hiawatha National Forest. This forest is largely untouched and it is the inspiration—and setting—of the second half of White Wolf and the Ash Princess. Hours spent hiking the uninhabited woods and kayaking the vacant lakes of my story’s setting helped me to experience what my characters would have. Museums, historical markers, and landmarks are great places to get not only information, but an aesthetic point of view for your story. Consider adding antique stores, flea markets, and artist’s shops for not only artifact inspiration, but also a chance to talk with a store owner who could be a wealth of information. Get out there and do some footwork. Visit places of your stories era to glean more information.


Consider A Hybrid

What if there is just no information to be found no matter how hard you look? We have one of two options. A) Find a way around this fact or simply don’t touch it, or B) use creative liberties in the white spaces.

I did hours upon hours of research for White Wolf and the Ash Princess to make it as historically accurate as possible, yet, there were many aspects of the story that were unknown due to the verbal culture of my story. White Wolf is an interesting mixture of historical, fantasy, adventure, romance, and steampunk with a modern sound. I have found that many love this fresh perspective on historical fiction. This type of writing, however, is difficult to categorize—so, I came up with my own sub category. Hybrid History. I think this is a super fun, fresh way to write historical fiction and I don’t have plans to stop.

If your historical fiction piece is giving you fits, try changing up your research. Embrace the knowledge that you have and glean from the people and places around you. Remember, you are also writing a fiction piece. Don’t be afraid to add your own creative spin to the mix. Bob Ross, was an artist who encouraged the world to make their art pieces their own.

“You can do anything you want to do. This is your world.”

~ Bob Ross

Don’t be afraid of the unknowns in your historical fiction. Gather up your facts, talk to those around you, and take a cleansing, deep breath. Historical fiction is fun to write–especially when you give yourself permission to put “you” into it.




Indie e-Con Scavenger Hunt 2018

scavanger hunt.jpg


Hey! Welcome to my blog and stop #3 on the Indie e-Con scavenger hunt route. Sarah Addison-Fox is here with me to help hand over the third letter to our puzzle. Listen closely, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to hear her announce it in her GORGEOUS New Zealand accent! Take it away, friend.


New profile photo
Author Sarah Addison-Fox


Who is Sarah Addison-Fox? What’s she all about eh?

Well stick around on Tammy’s blog and I’ll tell you!

I’m not going to talk about myself in third person though, that’s just weird. I will tell you briefly what I like to write.

I love to read and write action-packed fantasy, with lots of romance and while I publish under Christian Fantasy, I do my best to write with the preach factor set to low.

I write a lot. I even published a short e-book on how I managed to write 10 novels in 13 months. Here’s the linky thing to my Amazon page so you can check out what I’m currently selling.

While you’re there, you may as well take advantage of the May only reduced prices on book one and two of my Allegiance Series.

I’m also going to pitch a book launch Facebook Festival while I have your attention. I’m co-launching with Tricia Mingerink, and the gorgeous Serena Chase has agreed to be our guest of honour.

And no, I didn’t spell honour wrong. I live in New Zealand, you know, where the Hobbits live?  We use the Queen’s English thank you very much…

Where was I, oh that’s right, I was going to give you a clue, that’s what you’re after, isn’t it?

TTFN. (Ta Ta For Now)

​ Sarah Addison-Fox is a New Zealand-born home-schooling mother of two who loves action-packed fantasy with strong heroines. She has an astonishing amount of nail polish, has all her creative writing credentials shoved in a drawer somewhere, and has a husband who, after 27 years, can still make her blush. When she’s not working on her Christian YA fantasy series’, she can be found fangirling on Goodreads or sending GIFs on Twitter.

Instagram: sarahaddisonfox/

Facebook: sarahaddisonfoxfantasyauthor/


Twitter: @Saddisonfox

Goodreads: Sarah Addison-Fox

Be sure to sign up for Sarah’s Stars Newsletter and receive an exclusive Allegiance Series Short.


Here’s another peek at the puzzle you need to solve:

Clue graphic


….and the letter from stop #3 is…..



Thanks for stopping! Before you leave, why not give my blog a follow. I’d love to keep in touch with you.

To receive your next letter visit me and my new friend, Kelsey on her blog, Kelsey’s Notebook. For the full list of blogs to visit, head over and see Kendra at Kendra’s Giraffe Crafts.

Off with ya, now. Meet me at Kelsey’s Notebook for your next letter! Happy hunting!

After by Savannah Jezowski

After Blog Tour Banner

This book!

I first read After as a beta reader–and I loved it. I read it a second time after revisions and a third after publication–and I loved it both of those times, too.  Savannah Jezowski has a gentle and elegant writing style–and her stories, though edged in darkness, are lit with charm and hope.

On the streets of an ancient city, with creepers wandering at will and a mysterious assassin leaving corpses all over Pandorum, a young Spook with a dark secret will do anything to keep his brothers safe, even from forces that threaten to tear them apart from within. While others are searching for impossible cures from outlawed Spinners, Conrad Ellis III does not believe in fairy tales and miracles. But when he discovers a strange girl with shrouded ties to the Assassin, Eli is forced to leave the streets he loves and travel into the very heart of Pandorum in order to save a member of his family. With his health failing and the danger escalating, there is no escaping the inevitable truth. Today, he may hunt creepers.


Tomorrow, he just might be one.

after-final-kindle-cover (1)

I have a confession. I don’t read fantasy. *Gasp* Hang on. Before you flog me with the hairs from a unicorn’s tail, let me clarify and say that I do read fantasy… I just don’t read-read it. There’s nothing wrong with fantasy—most of my favorite movies are fantasy-based (When a Monster Calls, Jungle Book, Lord of the Rings…)—it’s just not the area that I have ever hit first in Barnes and Noble. It’s the love and adoration that I have for my fantasy author friends that has taught me to backpack through unfamiliar landscapes, and it’s my love of story—good stories—that gives me the boldness to explore. I know that good stories can come from every genre, and After, by Savannah Jezowski, is one of those good stories.

My backpack didn’t feel heavy at all in the world of After—I hiked happily through it three times—and I didn’t get lost wandering the cobblestone streets of the Neverway. The warm glow of the street lamps, and the clippity-clop of horses’ hooves made reading this fantasy historically familiar. I felt comfortably at home. To me, I was visiting the grimy, Victorian world of Oliver Twist. The first chapter warned me, however, that I would have to watch my step. Orphans aren’t the only ones who zig zag through the streets of the Neverway—the undead do, too. The undead shadows of the Creepers stretch over the story and they give it a thrilling, gloomy dark. They aren’t the focal point of the story, however. It’s the Spinners/Spooks who carry the torches here and light the story.

After is an elegantly, dark Christian allegory that shows the power of our Christ to save. Savannah Jezowski built a strong world with themes important to the Christian walk: friendships, brotherhood, forgiveness, redemption…family…, but where Mrs. Jezowski’s pen has done its best work is the artistic flourishes and swoops she created towards character development. Never have I seen male characters so strong in modern literature. The Outsiders, by S. E. Hinton, will forever be my measuring stick towards proper character sculpting and painting, and Eli (Conrad Ellis the Third), Ivan, and Victor stand as tall as Pony Boy, Darry, and Soda Pop. Eli is hands down my most favorite male in Indie literature. Brooding, strong, sacrificial…Conrad is the masterpiece of After. Ivan, the handsome, lighthearted chatterbox with the cool hat, and Victor, the sweet little brother with the nightmares and mysterious friend, are both brilliant, supporting characters.

It’s hard to believe that After is outside of my usual reading genre. What a wonderful lesson for us all to exercise our reading muscles daily by venturing outside of our preferred world. You may be missing out on a new favorite if you stay inside yours. I know for me, I’m glad I have a broken-in backpack. After will be one that I will take off the shelf to enjoy for years to come.


Author Savannah Jezowski


Interested in reading After for yourself? You can purchase it right now on Amazon. You can also WIN yourself a signed copy! Click here for details.

After_Signed Paperback Giveaway

If you are interested in learning more about Savannah and her books and future projects you can visit her on goodreadsFacebookInstagram, and her webiste Dragonpen Press. 

Don’t miss out on this amazing book! Enter to win–OR–grab your copy today!

Meet Tyler Bolhuis



The beautiful video images of White Wolf and the Ash Princess” are courtesy of my video-guy/nephew, Tyler Bolhuis. This kid would get me so jealous with his texts saying he was out getting TREE footage. Treeeeeeeees!!! Who wouldn’t want to zip around Battle Creek gawking at trees? Tyler was amazing! He spent hours and weekends driving looking for just the right shot for me. Most of the pines that you see in the video are from his “top-secret location”. It made me super excited to hear that the secret spot was Kellogg’s Forest in Augusta. My parents home is just a road over. My brothers, sister and I would ride our bikes there and explore the trails for hours. It was, and still is, one of my favorite, local places to “be with the trees.”

My brother raises a hand and shakes it in the air without turning around. It makes me laugh. birch leaves in the summer shimmer in the sun when the wind whispers through them.Tyler had a second surprise for me hidden in the video. BIRCH TREEEEES! Watch for them after the break in Rob’s song. After the dark fade…BAM…there they are waving in the breeze. EEEEEEK!!! This beautiful feature of the birch can also be found in the last chapter of White Wolf. Do you remember reading this scene? Thanks, Tyler, for bringing this to life for us to see!

What an amazing opportunity to work with this guy and get to know my “T” better. No luck loosing your nickname, Tyler. Old habits die hard! I will always see you as that cute, little blonde kid with the killer-cute smile. *stands on tip-toe to pinch not-so-little Tyler’s cheeks* Thanks, nephew, for helping out your little ol’ auntie!

So everyone…come meet Tyler and hear a little about the video making process.

Hey, Tyler! Welcome! Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi there! My name is Tyler Bolhuis, I have graduated Kellogg Community College with my associates degree. I majored in Computer Engineering Technology as well as Criminal Justice and Creative Arts.  I currently live in the small city of Battle Creek, Michigan, which has been my home since I was little. I enjoy doing all sorts of things, from building computers to flying remote controlled aircraft.  I also enjoy taking time of out my day to enjoy nature, whether that be on a photography shoot or just getting out of town to get away from it all. On a career aspect, since I was little I always dreamt of becoming a police officer. The thought of doing something new every day, arresting bad-guys, making the public a better place and driving a cool car with lights and sirens sounded amazing to me growing up. It wasn’t until more recently that I decided to embark on a new career path at Victory Life Church (VLC) here in Battle Creek. I never really expected a sudden career change, as I was on my way to the police academy in the fall of 2017, just completing their pre-enrollment phase. It is amazing to see how much plans can change in an instant, but this time it was for the better.


I love your page, BLUE Photography. How long has your page been up and how long have you been interested in photography?

Well, the name “BLUE” actually came out of a re-branding phase that I went through to make my photography page look more professional. The BLUE Photography page also features some of the recent graphic design work that I have been getting into recently, as well as some upcoming projects that I have planned later in the year. Since “BLUE” was a re-brand, my page before this rebranding was known as “TJB Photography”. The page itself has been online for a little more than 3 years, which isn’t too long, however, you can definitely see improvements to my photography game since I first opened my page. My interest in photography was first discovered as soon as I was able to get my hands on an iPhone 4, which was my very first “smart” phone.  I found through family that I had a natural “eye” for photography and decided a year or so later to invest in a nicer camera to shoot with. It wasn’t until 3 ½ years ago that I took a photography class at Kellogg Community College which helped further develop my skills as a professional photographer.  Ever since then, my interest in photography has only increased.


Do you have any other hobbies?

Yes! My other hobbies include (but are definitely not limited to); Computer/Video Gaming, Listening to music, flying remote controlled things (love flying in general), biking and a lot of other cool “geeky” things. I also enjoy doing other things as well, but I’m not sure they would qualify as “hobbies” as I do not get the opportunity to do them often.  


I hear your new job allows you combine several of your hobbies. Can you tell us a little about it and what you get to do?

Sure! My job at Victory Life Church in Battle Creek is one of the coolest job opportunities I’ve had so far. My title as the “Technical Director” basically means to oversee all of the production related things that may be required on a weekly basis. Things in my job description would include oversight of the lighting, sound, graphics, camera team, stage roles and so on. My primary focus is to ensure that all three of our current weekend services go smoothly, as planned, on schedule and without any distractions that may occur in our production booth.  Since a lot of planning goes into our weekend services, we also need to make sure that our mid-week or night services (like our 2ten ministry or awana nights) go well.  This all sounds super hard and boring, but when you love technology as much as I do and you’re good at troubleshooting things, it’s a lot easier than it sounds! I also love operating our lights during our weekend/student ministry services as it allows me to take a break from actually working and play a little.


It’s been so fun working with so many talented people…and now I get to work with another one who just so happens to be my nephew! Tell me about your experience making the video for White Wolf and the Ash Princess. Did you have visions right away on what you wanted the video to look like?  Or did you need inspiration first?

Thanks! Since I’ve done many videos like this in the past, it wasn’t too hard to get an idea of the storyboard and what I thought the trailer should look like or present to the audience. I had some ideas rolling around in my head as soon as I was asked take on the video/editing portion of the trailer, so I hopped onto YouTube and started listening to some cinematic pieces that would fall in line with the atmosphere in White Wolf and the Ash Princess. A lot of times when making a cinematic or video like this, I often go straight to music pieces to help inspire ideas further into reality by giving me time to really think over the location, time, weather, gear needed to make it happen and so on. I prefer to have music already chosen for a video, or set of videos, so that I already have an idea of what types of shots I need to make the rest easy and painless once it comes down to editing (since I already have most of the ideas planned out). So, in short, yes I did have visions of what I wanted the video to look like right away. The end result may have been not exactly what I wanted, but usually ends up being pretty close, if not better.


Can you explain the process of creating a video for us?

Absolutely. It can be fun, boring, exciting, frustrating but extremely rewarding all at the same time. Especially if you take your time and make it the best it can be, which is usually true with a lot of things in life. With videos specifically, it takes knowledge and a particular skill set that goes into creating a well thought out and organized video or cinematic. When I create cinematic videos, I usually decide right away on which type of cinematic I want it to be (either fast paced, slow or a combination of both that matches music type). In this case, it was harder as there aren’t as many moving parts as you would usually find in, for example, a video game. A video game allows you a magnitude of tools you would otherwise have to pay a fortune for, which makes it so much easier to get that shot you want.  After I decide which type of cinematic or video I want to make, I try to get an idea of the location(s) I want to shoot at.  A great location is one of the number one keys to making a great video, as it sets the tone for the audience and what you, the filmmaker, want to present. If you’re shooting a “nature” cinematic in your backyard with houses and people in the background, chances are that your audience is going to be confused with what your cinematic or video is actually about since there are so many other foreign objects in the scene. Just something to think about.  In the case of this trailer, my primary location of shooting was Kellogg’s Forest located in Augusta Michigan.  Kellogg’s Forest has a large variety of trees and brush, and since White Wolf and The Ash Princess is based in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – it would make sense to try and capture that atmosphere as much as possible instead of capturing cornfields or farms. Moving on from location, another factor that goes into creating a video is the type of gear needed to get the shot you want. You should think about any purchases you need to make, how long those purchases will take to arrive, setup time, gear cost and so on. Luckily, all of my gear is readily accessible and I can grab-and-go in a moment’s notice thanks to several gear cases and organizational skills. Here’s a very short and summarized gear list of the things I used in making this video possible; Nikon D3300 (18-55mm Nikkor Lens), Canon XH-A1S (20x Fluorite Lens with Hood), Magnus VT-300 Video Tripod, Neewer Track Slider, Pergear Ball-Head, extra batteries/SD cards for both cameras, gear bag and camera sling that also had my Nikkor 55-200mm lens. My gear-bag also had a lot of other things I may have needed, such as my laptop, phone charger, water bottles and my lightweight jacket in case it rained. So, as you can see, gear is a huge factor in how your videos will turn out.  After you decide your cinematic type, location, time of shooting and gear, you’ll need to finally figure out how you’re going to edit your footage together and how the rest of your audience is going to see your work. I can’t really get into editing, because there is so much to each one of these topics, but I can tell you that you’ll have to find a good software to bring your ideas to life. I use a software called “VEGAS PRO” by Sony. I’ve used this software for a while, though it is not free like many good video editing software.  I also use Adobe Premier if needed, but I have the most experience in Vegas, so I try to stick with that. There are free options out there, but just know they do not have nearly the same amount of features for flexibility as a paid software like “Vegas Pro” or “Premier” can offer you.  After all of this, you’re ready to finally get down to shooting and creating your video!  It sounds like a long process, and while it is a long process, it usually goes a lot quicker if you know exactly what you want to shoot and how you want to shoot it. After you’re done shooting/capturing, you’ll go with editing the video and then finally being able to share it with the rest of the world. In summary;  You’’ want to first decide which type of cinematic or video you’re creating, then the location and time of day you want to shoot in, which also includes weather types (but we didn’t get into that much), gear list and video editing software.   There you go!  It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun in the process. While this may not be the type of workflow you decide to go with, this is usually how I go about making a video.


Do you think you’ll try to do more of this type of work in the future?

Definitely, I would love to keep doing these shorter videos like this. I’ve done a few “real-world” videos before alongside my other cinematic videos I’ve done with video games or simulation software. Cinematography is one way to unleash my photography and videography skills.


What are your dreams and aspirations for the future? Do you see photography in it? Videography?

My dream, right now, would be to become a department head of our church’s creative/technical team. Since I’m already a “Technical Director”, I would one day love to operate a small team of individuals under myself that do exactly what I do, except I would have more of a leadership role and my skills and knowledge would be 10x that of what they are currently. So, in a way I can say that my dreams (career wise) definitely involve photography and videography as our whole creative team is responsible for those roles, which is super cool!


How was it working with your aunt? LOL! And what were your thoughts when I asked you in on this project?

Horrible! Just kidding!  Working with family can sometimes be difficult, since you don’t really want to hurt their feelings, but you need to be able to be open with each other and listen to one-another’s ideas. Working with my Aunt has been great! We both had suggestions for one another, which helped me to think outside of my creative box that I put around me sometimes and we both respected each-other’s thoughts and opinions. When I first read that a trailer was something you wanted to do, my first thoughts were “Uhhh, okay?” Mostly because I don’t really do a lot of “paid” work and most of my projects are managed by myself. My mind automatically went to the completely opposite side of “trailer” that actually ended up happening. I was thinking about actors, plot lines, progression and so on… little did I know that a novel trailer is actually a lot more simple than a full on movie trailer. After I saw the ideas that you had, I was relieved as well as much more confident in myself in how I was going to go about doing it.


Do you have any words of wisdom for any of our readers who may be interested in the fields you are working in?

I always say; If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. If your “love” is something you could see yourself doing as a career, go for it! Our days are limited here on this Earth, spend those days doing something you love, with the people you love.

Thanks, Tyler! If you’d like to know more about Tyler and the services he provides, you can find him by clicking on his YouTubeFacebook, and Website. 


To see Tyler’s beautiful images in the YouTube video, “White Wolf and the Ash Princess”, please click “here”.


Meet Rob Monahan


If I had to pick only three words to describe Rob, they would be: humility, generosity, and TALENT. This guy is full to the brim with all three.

Rob and his wife, Mariah, led special music one Sunday at our church (Grace Baptist) in Marshall. Rob played the guitar and both he and Mariah sang the first verse for us. I was mesmerized. We had to all join in the last few verses and, quite honestly, I didn’t want us to sing along. I didn’t want the soothing, pure tone of their voices buried by the congregation. I’m sappy. I cry easy. These two got me pretty misty-eyed that morning.

Most wouldn’t agree–and many are shocked when I say this– I’m a super shy person. New people scare me. For those who know me well, they know that LOTS of things scare me: cops, firemen, tasers, clowns…flying sticks… (yes, flying sticks!), but through years of practice (and through my experiences with White Wolf), I have managed to find some extroverted qualities. I put it to use when I summoned up the courage to ask Rob to write White Wolf a song. I wanted a song to represent the story. I’ll have to ask him again to be sure, but I think the guy did the song in just day–while “messing around.” “Messing around”! He said this is how he did it when Kelsey and I went over to the Monahan household to hear the song live. His skill at just “messing around” pushed my “misty-eye” button again. The guy is humble.

Rob played a few more things for us to explain his process…to answer my question on how he composed the song in just a day. He plucked the strings while rattling off a whole host of other instruments: the piano, violin… My brain shut-off my ears from hearing the rest. His “no-fear” attitude towards learning music overwhelmed me. It was something that I certainly didn’t have. I had violin lessons for a year and I cried through most of it. Fear gobbled up any chance of my learning the instrument beyond the fourth grade. I asked Rob what he wanted for payment after the song was approved with claps and excited giggles. What do you pay a musical genius? He agreed on cupcakes. Lots and lots of cupcakes. The guy is generous.

My life has truly been blessed and enriched meeting Rob. Humility is a rare trait, and it has been an honor to witness his in action. Thank you, dear friend, for the book’s gorgeous new song. It is a sound that will forever be linked to White Wolf. Thank you for sharing your incredible talent with this ministry. Rob–dude–you have so.much.talent. I pray that the Lord will continue to use you for His glory and bless you as you serve Him!

To give you a chance to get to know Rob, I asked him a few questions to post on my blog. White Wolf reader, meet Rob Monahan…enjoy!


Rob!! I couldn’t believe what I heard when I saw one of your videos on Facebook. Your guitar playing is stunning! Could you please tell us a little about your background in music?

I started taking piano lessons back in second grade and continued on until freshman year of high school. I started to lose enjoyment in it, but once I started listening to Relient K they inspired me to pick the piano back up. I began to write songs shortly after that my sophomore year.

Throughout middle school, I was involved with choir and once I entered into High School I had gradually become a part of 3 ensembles including a vocal jazz group and one year of jazz band playing bass. My choral director was phenomenal and taught me so much about music theory and ear training, that it really shaped a lot of what my musicality is today.

I began to teach myself guitar my sophomore year as well. It was not easy at first, but having a basic knowledge of piano and theory made it more possible. My friend and I started to write some songs together a play a ton of covers for live shows and ended up moving on to a different group after that that I am still with today. After high school, I was shown an artist named Andy McKee. I couldn’t believe the kind of music that he was playing and came across Antoine Dufour shortly after. After learning a few of his songs, and learning about open timings, I started to cultivate my own sense of percussive acoustic guitar.

I adore the song that you wrote to go with White Wolf and the Ash Princess! Adore! Can I say that one more time? ADORE! I can’t wait to share it with my readers! Tell me, how long did it take you to write the song and what were your inspirations for the melody?

I spent about an hour the other night trying to think of some ideas that went along well with the premise of the book. Nothing has really come to me, but the next day I kept thinking about it a lot and thought of an idea. I was thinking of what it would be like to just live in the wild and the expansiveness of a forest. I found the tuning that I felt best portrayed the basic theme and wrote it in one sitting.

Have you written other songs? Can you explain your process for us?

I lost count of how many songs I have written between the few groups I was in and my own solo songs. Most of my ideas come from just picking up the guitar and just messing around. I really try to stay away from forcing an idea because it is not an enjoyable process. I try to think of emotions or scenarios and try to work off of that. Even just jamming with my friends creates some fun ideas since we have varying musical inspirations.

What is your favorite style to play?

Fingerstyle guitar is my favorite to play because it’s a style that you don’t normally see everyday. My second option is jazz because I love the altering tones that come with it and creates endless opportunities

We’ve talked before about your music. I know that you play guitar, but remind me again–what other instruments do you play?

My primary instruments are piano, guitar, and voice. I also can play the electric bass. I have a basic understanding of drums, violin, cello, saxophone, and upright bass to name a few.

Do you have any dreams or aspirations for the future pertaining to your music?

I would like to start playing live sets again and to give lessons. I also think being a studio performer would be a lot of fun.

How much time would you say you put in to become the musician you are today? Do you have any words of wisdom for our readers who may want to pursue music?

I used to play between 3-6 hours a day and since I had a desire to learn more with theory I would spend a lot of my free time reading and working through some compositions. I don’t play nearly as much anymore and I’m lucky to get a couple hours in in a week. Pursuing music is a great choice. It breathes creativity and imagination and allows you to express yourself in a way that words don’t need to.

21462530_1913443308978713_3248496059550088779_nWow! Didn’t I tell you the guy was amazing? And guess what? YOU can learn to play the guitar, too. Rob is now offering lessons. If guitar isn’t your thing, he also offers piano.

If you are interested in learning more about Rob and the lessons he provides, please visit him here at Rob Monahan Music


To hear Rob’s song, “White Wolf and the Ash Princess” on YouTube, please click “here”