Writing Center Consultant self-publishes works on Amazon

By Kevin Graham

Ben McKenna grew up in an environment fraught with family struggle. Dylan Matthews is the only girl in a family of boys. After growing up together, the two reunite after Ben returns from a period of time away, causing problems for Dylan.

This is the setup for the young adult romance novel “Under the Orange Moon,” penned by Writing Center Consultant Adrian Schirr.

Schirr, who has completed three novels to date, self-published this one on Amazon for the Kindle platform. She’s currently working on a fourth novel and will release another book, “Gravity,” in June.

Schirr publishes under the pen name Adrienne Frances, a combination of the feminine spelling of her name and her grandmother’s name.

Starting early

Schirr has been writing as long as she can remember. Her father has always supported her.

“My father saved everything from when I was younger,” Schirr said. “My first book that I wrote, I think I was in like first grade. It’s called ‘The Amazing Mr. Pencil.’”

She says she was also helped by her active imagination.

The perfect space

Schirr said her work in the Writing Center has helped her greatly while working on the book.

She outlined sections of the book in which she struggled.

“Just the introduction and the rising action, you always want to write the most exciting parts,” Schirr said. “Those are the parts I think you think of first and then it’s all the little stuff in between (that’s a challenge).”

She said that when struggling to write, it’s always helpful for her to talk about the problems with someone.

“Everyone has mental blocks when it comes to writing and I was plagued with it on more than one occasion,” Schirr said. “I have found for myself, and even with the students that I work with, that a simple conversation about the topic can pull so much out of the writer.”

Ashley Liening, a self-described “grammar nerd” and fellow consultant at the Writing Center, helped Schirr in the editing process.

“The thing I loved most about Adrian’s novel were the characters and how incredibly real they felt. They were so easy to relate to,” she said. “I saw a little bit of myself in each one of them. ‘Under the Orange Moon’ is a lovely story about family and friendship, love lost and gained, tribulations and hope.”

Schirr said she tries to make her heroines relatable to as many people as possible, although they might have one of her traits.

“Some of the characters I’d say have a little bit of my humor,” she said. “I can be somewhat of a sarcastic person or I just joke a lot.”

Advice for students

Schirr said students looking to become writers just need to keep at it.

“Even the best writers get discouraged,” she said. “I think that a lot of students, myself included, get so overwhelmed at even the thought of a paper that they wait until the very last minute. Don’t do that. Start the paper; the flow of ideas will come.”