Guest post by Nathan Barham author of Alora’s Tear.

There are always going to be books that I would love to read but don’t have the time for and sadly this is one of them.  I do, however, have a fascinating guest post from the author on left-handedness, a subject I find interesting as my brother is the only one in my family to also be left-handed. So, read on and learn a little about growing up as a left-handed person…….



Alora’s Tear, Volume I: Fragments

There is no magic in Vladvir…

Tucked away in a quiet valley, the community of Tolarenz offers a refuge and safe haven for its people, keeping persecution at bay. One young citizen—Askon son of Teral—is destined to lead them, but first he must leave them behind: one final mission, in service of the king.

In the north, leering nightmare creatures known as the Norill gather. Their armor is bone and skin; their weapons are black and crude and cold. They strike in the night, allies to the darkness. It is to them Askon marches, his men a bulwark against the threat.

For there is no magic in Vladvir.

What Askon finds when he arrives seems impossible: smoke and fire, death and defeat, and all around a suffocating sense of dread. The Norill seek something they call ‘the Stone of Mountain,’ but in the half-remembered stories from Askon’s childhood, it was always ‘Alora’s Tear’: a gem with powers great and terrible. A gem that cannot exist.

Unless there is magic in Vladvir…

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The trilogy is complete and all three books are available to purchase:

Volume II, The Elf and the Arrow

Volume III, The Voice like Water


Guest post – on left-handedness

I’m left handed. Some of my earliest memories and some of the earliest found footage from back in the days of my grandfather’s over-the-shoulder VHS camera has me happily scrawling away with my left while an adult, well intentioned of course, gently removes the crayon or pencil and correctively replaces it in my right.

On the tape, my little brows furrow and scrunch, confounded again, and my mother sounds offscreen: “I think he’s left handed.”

After another few fruitless seconds as the writing instrument taker attempts to assist in scratching out my name, crayon in my right hand, my hand in theirs, they give up and turn to talk to offscreen mom. I immediately switch hands and finish the name. It’s not pretty, but it’s done, and I’m fairly young in the video.

Over the years, I’ve heard it all: wrong handed, backwards handed, southpaw, leftie, the devil’s hand. It’s not offensive, and I don’t take offense because seriously, there are people with actual problems in the world which arise from unchangeable differences, but it’s my difference, the way that I’m just not quite like everybody else.

So what does this have to do with Alora’s Tear? You don’t have to get far to discover that the main character, Askon, has left handedness as one of his many unchangeable differences from other characters in the world of Vladvir (he’s also a half-elf with heterochromia iridis, among other things). It’s a factor that effects more than just whether or not he smudges the ink (he doesn’t) when he writes, but how his silverware is placed at the table, where his cup lands naturally while eating, his decision making process in battle strategy, and of course the moment to moment action of a good old fashioned sword fight.

The most interesting of these, I find, is the decision making process. “Always go left,” Askon tells a friend at one point. It’s a theory I used to solve mazes in old school videogames. If you simply always go left, following the wall, you’ll eventually brute-force the entire track of the maze, allowing a method for retrieving all the treasure, even if you’re lucky and find the exit early.

One of the reasons I chose this method for Askon’s process is nostalgia, and the other is that it’s effective in an environment designed to reward players, to make them feel clever, but that it falls down if the maze is intentionally complex (all it has to do is have a crossing path before one must alter the rule). Soon, if the designer is truly trying to confuse the navigator, the number of “Have I been here before?” points grows too large to recall or separate from each other, and he or she becomes hopelessly lost.

It is this fault, and Askon’s utter confidence in his strategy that make its inclusion interesting. He has a reason to be confident, as a combination of luck and the general effectiveness of the strategy not just for mazes, but of left-side dominant opponents being at least off putting to right handed people and downright surprising in cases where such a choice simply isn’t made (in swordplay, for instance, where common knowledge often defies these advantages).

Askon, were he right handed, loses a bit of mystery, a bit of surprise, a bit of individuality, of rebelliousness, defiance even, and a chance for his false confidence (which he doesn’t know is false) to fail him.

What would be the fun in that?



Nathan spends most of his working days with the students of Genesee Junior-Senior High School in Genesee, Idaho. Whether it’s essay structure, a classic literary work, or the occasional impromptu dance routine, he strives to keep students interested in the fun and the fundamentals of the English language.

When he’s not teaching, he wears a number of hats, though the one that says “Dad” is the most careworn and cherished (it says “Husband” on the back). It hangs on a hook in a house where music is a constant and all the computers say “Apple” somewhere on their aluminium facades. From time to time it is said that he ventures into the mysterious realm called outside, though the occasion is rare and almost exclusively upon request by son or daughter.

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