It’s time

Because there’s nothing like adding an extra activity into an already full schedule, I’m trying to dedicate myself to blogging again. I miss you guys! So here it is. Hi, folks. I’m back.

Let’s start off with the most pertinent information…!

I finally got my new tattoo, because The Damning Moths will be released on November 13th, and this ink is to commemorate my first full novel length publication! If you’re not already following along on Facebook or the mailing list and want to keep abreast of book-related announcements, head on over to the fancy updated official website for The Damning Moths. We’ve got a stunning photo-realistic portrait of the main character, Lacilegwen, as our background image, painted by the incredible Ty Scheuerman. A countdown timer (which never fails to give me butterflies when I see it – gasp) and some other information here and there, but the website will continue to grow as more media is completed and other goodies become available.

Here’s a photo from the day after I got tattooed. I’ve talked a little bit before about the significance of tattoos in my life, and this one is rich and meaningful in more ways than one. It’s been five days since, and it’s progressing through the natural peel part of healing, complete with otherwise frightening amounts of ink-blackened skin falling off. Itching comes on in manageable increments. I’m still very enamoured.

Now other pre-release planning for The Damning Moths is becoming concrete. I’m in the middle of contacting various printers and manufacturers for pricing on giveaway treasures, and gleefully cackling while obtaining the best possible offers. This reiterates why I run my own business. I rock at this stuff.

Other short fiction I am writing to use in the month of pre-release excitement is working out better than I anticipated, simply because I struggle with shorter work, yet must be getting better with all this practice. First impressions from a couple of readers have been positive, but I still have a lot of work to cover in an ever-shortening amount of time.

And in case you’re wondering, the weather forecast is stupidhot tomorrow, followed by a return to normal, cool, with rain. October, don’t freak out on me

I hope all you lovely people have been happy and healthy. Say hi, tell me your best news from the last few months. I need to catch up!

~A

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In the world of Ashlee

Things have been happening, despite my relative silence. Of course, that should be a given. No matter how many blog posts I do or don’t write, or how many days go in between my Facebook or Twitter updates, life goes on and the world keeps spinning. Isn’t it funny how we might measure our personal existence by our presence on social media? If you can’t see me, I’m not entirely real.

Nonetheless, there were a couple of big ups and downs in the interim. No, no, nothing so big as the release of my novel. That’s still yet to come, though I have been dispensing ARCs to some very lovely people, and hearing wonderful things back. We’re looking at another month or two before I can pin down the release date. It’s hard to have delay after delay; I am not patient, but I’m forced to acknowledge this comes in part due to what has transpired through the early months of 2013. So let’s go over some of those things.

I had an author interview over at This Is Horror. If you haven’t seen it already, you can read my Meet The Writer on their website. I’ll note, it’s both fun and weird talking about yourself in the interview format.

Family and friends have gone through a number of personal trials. As a bystander for the most part, you try to support them. Show love. Remind them each of their importance in your life. Broken bones in accidents, severe illness and ongoing aftercare, a death. Little things, big things, unavoidable throughout life. Then the worldwide tragedies which have been occurring, with heart-warming tales of heroism amidst the chaos. One of these days, I’m going to stop reading the news.

I have spent the better part of two months designing and building an updated version of The Damning Moths website. It hasn’t gone live as I am still trying to muscle my way through some of the more finicky coding. I never thought myself as an especially talented web designer, but I think this will all work out rather nicely in the end. It’s just getting to the point where I am confident the site will function as best as possible.

Surviving the End received the Australian Shadows Award for Edited Publication. So far, my favourite part of being in an award winning anthology is the celebratory atmosphere with my co-contributors and the excitement our editor shared. And another hearty congratulations to us all.

I’m writing and plotting and editing all at once, which is hardly unusual, but takes a lot of attention away from other things. For the next week, I am burying my head in these stories for as many hours as anyone will let me. I’m talking very long days. See, I recently attended a course and gained accreditation for a new job. I will be starting in late May. I don’t exactly know how that will change my writing hours and energy levels, but I want to have some of this out of the way before then. What better timing than my week off work? If I manage to push hard enough, I know exactly what I can get accomplished. So here’s to a very productive week.

Lastly, I fill the gaps in between with the occasional important email, and reading. A lot of reading. Judging for the AHWA Short Story and Flash Fiction Competition, as an early reader (both requiring actual thought, assessment, and giving feedback where appropriate), and a whole pile of books being consumed unnaturally quick for pure enjoyment.

I know I’ve said it before, but I might be able to keep up with blogging again someday soon. Or you might hear from me again in a few months time. Either way, my love to you all, you’re not far from my thoughts.

~A

Writers gonna write

I’m supposed to have an endless supply of things to talk about. Great ideas to muse over, or funny anecdotes to share. Pieces of my life and observations put into words and given freely to the world. I’m meant to connect with others, to find common ground, and to express my emotions regarding the state of existence.

But all I have are half-written blog posts about things which only serve to inspire me for a moment.

I’ve started–hold up, let me count them–sixteen entries which haven’t been finished recently. There are a couple which are fully written, but I’m not quite interested in posting them yet. It’s not that I’m worried about sharing these insights so much as I’m straddling the line between introvert and extrovert, and it just takes so much more effort to put things out there.

And to be perfectly honest, I almost feel like I have to hoard it all, store it up, to prepare for when I will absolutely need to push myself out into the spotlight when I launch The Damning Moths. That will require all of this enthusiasm and charisma. I can call the energy forth when I need to, but it makes everything else seem that much heavier. A little more strain on my reclusive half.

I’ve seen so many humourous comics or captioned images lately that reflect my state of being exactly: I don’t mind going out, but that means I need to put on pants and actually see people. I like being a writer, where I can sit at home and make things up about fictional people with outrageous abilities and entertaining quirks. I get true enjoyment out of putting together unlikely scenarios then figuring out how they make perfect sense.

Surely, I should have more thoughts to share with this corner of the world, right?

The proclivity to write does not translate to finding something worth saying. I can compose dozens of things, but deciding whether to put them into this specific platform is another thing altogether. I’m not interested in this blog being political, or adding this voice to the cries of social reform; at some stage I realised I don’t want to bring my opinionated side here. I have other places to get into debates (which I do often), and I suppose, I just don’t want to invite argument in yet another location I frequent.

But sometimes, that leaves me with little to say.

~A

The Next Big Thing

Friend and fellow Perth writer Martin Livings, who has been kicking around the industry for over two decades, has pegged me for this: The Next Big Thing writer promotion cycle. Answer the interview, tag more writers, watch as it takes over the blogosphere. Many thanks, Martin! On that note, I highly recommend everyone wriggle on over to pick up Martin’s short story collection, “Living With The Dead” because this man knows his horror, yes he does.

I also have to make mention of both Michael Bailey and Annie Neugebauer who asked me to participate after I already agreed to be one of Martin’s tag-ees. Thanks, both of you!

Now! I give you The Next Big Thing(s). Yeah. I’m a big cheater, so absolutely no one should be surprised when I break all the rules and talk about the collective of my current work. It’s all connected! That has to count for something! But let me try and keep the focus on my first novel, The Damning Moths, coming out soon.

ONE: What is the working title of your next book?
Disclaimer: my working titles are always lazy and hasty. The Damning Moths was known as “Novel Series” until it got properly named. Uh huh. Book Two is exactly that, although pre-draft it received the codename “Spiral Leaves”. The novella prequel has the misfortune of being called “By Blood”. This is why I never discuss working titles. Moving on.

TWO: Where did the idea come from for the book?
The first concept which triggered the plot for everything is actually slated to be in Book Three, and I believe that was from a dream I had. During the subsequent two years of writing, editing, and refining the ideas, it has blossomed to where we are right now. The individual ideas tend to come to me through asking questions of the characters. What is their motive? What do they believe in? What makes them tick? With knowing those answers, I then ask: What will shatter their world? The resulting implosion is what happens in the book. Something to shake the character’s personal resolve in an integral way and see how far I can push them before everything breaks.

THREE: What genre does your book fall under?
Dark fantasy. Fantasy setting, horror lifeblood. I’ve had so many people look me up and down then ask why I write dark stuff. It’s an interesting subject, to be sure. I like the feeling of things being really, really bad for the characters. I enjoy the psychology in writing those who have to deal with horrific things. And I like being a little scared.

FOUR: What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
This is a terrible question, and the person who originally asked it should feel bad. That said, I always have the disparity between the actors and actresses who look most like each character, and those I feel would play the role to perfection. This is part of why I don’t aim for live action films, and would love to see a high budget anime made of TDM.

FIVE: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
“A world of blackened Faerie Tales is bubbling over with the conflict of past sins and perverse schemes as the gods’ glorious crown is passed to a new, unwilling victim.”

SIX: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Coming out through World Ender, my independent media label!

SEVEN: How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Six furious weeks on the scant and roughest draft of The Damning Moths, where words flew from my fingertips incomprehensibly. It took me another five months of changing the POV, fleshing out all the necessary parts, adding in characters, and finally, some very tough editing, before I had gotten it into the shape of a real novel instead of whatever I had spun in a bleary daze of drafting. The novella was drafted in five weeks, and Book Two is still in the works.

EIGHT: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Goodness, I don’t know. I struggle with this constantly. A lot of other dark fantasy is very much the armies, swords, and dragons kind of thing. Those who write about the fae kingdoms often stick with the very Tolkien/D&D styled races, or have a much more traditionally detached take on Faerie. Since there is a convoluted and vast history which triggers the political conflicts in TDM, as well as eldrich themes, big magic, and a character-driven plot, it’s not in one or the other camp, and I don’t know if I’ve read anything much like it before. I’ve had early readers compare my writing to far more dramatic names than I’m brave enough to repeat. I expect fans of George RR Martin and Laurell K Hamilton would find something to appreciate.

NINE: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Other authors inspire me to create, though each individual story is told because of the characters. I want to see where they go, all because they are fascinating to me. A dream started this tale, as is true of many stories I write, but inspiration is a constant flow for me. In the words of the awesome Chuck Wendig, Ask a writer: “Where do you get your ideas from?” And the writer will reply: “How do you make yours stop?” I’ve been writing for fifteen-some years. This just happens now.

TEN: What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Let’s take “about the book” rather liberally, shall we?
First, The Damning Moths is illustrated with some of the best artwork I’ve ever seen, and that’s before my bias kicks in! Truly, I have been overwhelmed by the quality of the illustrations and how well the artist has captured the scenes and characters. Readers will get treated with a page of artwork every chapter. Yay!
Second, there is an original soundtrack written for the book, an amazing post-rock/progressive electro rock album by The Revolver Project. I am so, so, so happy with how the soundtrack has come out. Early listeners have universally proclaimed, “This sounds like it’s from a horror movie”. I think that counts as a massive success. Music is an integral part of writing for me, so there is something inherent and natural about a book having companion theme songs. Double yay!

With great pleasure, I introduce to you my tag-ee, and the star of a “Next Big Thing” post! Please direct your attention to the lovely Kristen Tsetsi!

~A

On the Introvert Swing

When taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator/personality test, I usually come up right in the middle of the introvert/extrovert scale. This wouldn’t mean much to anyone, but I have distinctly noticed a back and forth swing of my personality traits; sometimes I am a perfectly satisfied extrovert, and other times I fall onto the introvert side completely.

Yes, now is an introvert period. A lengthy one, at that.

This still doesn’t mean much, other than finding it especially tiring to put myself out there and communicate. I’m feeling altogether quiet and introspective at the moment. It’s challenging to write blog posts about the things I’m thinking on, largely because I have used this blog as a means of communication and discussion, and I’m not in a very communicative state. I do love you all dearly, I just don’t need to say anything much.

Having known this about myself for a long time, now, I’ve frequently wondered over a “public” sort of career. In this day and age where authors are meant to be accessible and celebrities in their own right, how will I deal with that much attention in my introvert periods? Even when I’m experiencing my extrovert side, I’m already terrible at keeping track of things like time, dates, emails and private messages. Deadlines are more like guidelines. Social expectations are there, but don’t necessarily intersect with me personally.

There’s the option of reducing how “interactive” this is; I could close off comments on the blog, and that would be a kind of solution. I know and admire many wonderful people who blog without enabling comments for their own varied reasons. I understand their necessity for that choice, and find the notion just a little appealing, at least while I’m here on the quiet musing side of life. I wouldn’t be cut off from the world. There’s Facebook, Twitter, and of course, emails. Plus, I am a firm believer that friends can pick up where they left off having experienced such wonderful friendships personally.

So while I consider my options, weigh up the choices, I will likely remain an infrequent voice in the vast virtual world. There’s no harm in enjoying an extended “holiday” as an introvert. To bundle myself up in blankets and klackity away at stories. I haven’t disappeared, I’m just in my own head.

~A

Year One

Thursday was my first year blogging anniversary! I should have made a big deal out of it (more than just this update, I mean), but with only updating once a week and not commenting on other blogs lately, I almost feel like I’m not even part of the same thing I started with!

It’s been a full and enlightening year, though. Even if I’ve fallen off the face of the internet in recent times! I’ve made some of the best friends I’ve ever had through blogs, met too many brilliant folks, and learn so, so much.

In June of last year, I got properly started on working on The Damning Moths Anecdota. Not long after, in July, I got my first publication acceptance for the Surviving the End anthology and began meeting great editors, authors, and other fans of my co-authors. August was a month of difficulty with illness and the death of my cat Chichiri late in the month, which I still feel with a great sense of loss.

September and October I got right back into crochet and made an assortment of baby beanies, blankets, and started plenty of other pieces. To be honest, some of those still aren’t finished, primarily because I dislike stitching together squares into a whole blanket (and on that note, I only recently discovered a technique I actually enjoy, so expect a lot of finished crochet blanket photos soon!).

November saw my fifth wedding anniversary, preoders open for Surviving the End, my birthday, and yet another book signing with my favourite author, Matthew Reilly. Lots of editing. Lots of family interaction. With December, it’s always busy, and the absurd summer weather makes me sluggish and I kind of feel like I didn’t do anything significant through to February.

When March rolled around, I got right back into writing work and making big plans for my authorly future. I had my first ever photoshoot, which was so much fun and had brilliant results. Through April, and now into May, I’ve been working, learning, and trying to apply a whole lot of ideas to a whole lot of things all at once. Hence, becoming very quiet online.

My first year of blogging has been great, and I’m hoping there’s even more ahead for me in the coming year! Publishing, creating, sharing, and keeping in touch with wonderful people. Thanks for joining me! It wouldn’t be the same without you all.

~A

Look at me, I do stuff!

Wow, okay. Another week of forgetting to blog. I’m sorry! I don’t mean to get so caught up in irresponsibility!

I have been hard at work, several types of work no less. I had to submit final edits on “Harvest”, which went rather well (at least, in my mind!). The only thing I have to show for much of my time spent (aside from, you know, a pay check and food in my fridge, that sort of thing) is a great new bio and a very, very slick header for The Damning Moths. The Husband took my concept work and made it AWESOME. Yes!


Clicky-click for full size!

So, this is used on the Facebook Page for The Damning Moths, found here: The Damning Moths | Facebook
And the official website, found here: The Damning Moths
The bio is also on the website, right there under “The Author”. Fancy.

Oh yeah. Did I mention at any point the books have an official website? Haha. See above. I’ve been gloriously lazy about getting the description finalised and put on the site, so you’ll have to forgive the lack of content.

Beside that, it’s all pretty slow going. Whenever I think I’m on a roll, I look at the overall progress and am hit with a “WHAAAAT?” moment. Because things like, I’ll have been editing for hours, and added over 2,000 words to the book, but only progressed through a third of the chapter I had intended on finishing. Don’t get me wrong, everything’s awesome, but the one thing I stuggle most with when editing is guaging progress.

There’s no definitive word count to judge yourself on. Editing isn’t all equal value. Working through a really tough scene might take twice as long as just whipping through a perfectly acceptable section of the manuscript. Man, final edits are trouble. Worth it, but trouble all the same.

~A