Wow, so… May, huh?

Time is whizzing by at an outrageous pace. Since my last blog entry seven months ago, I have been busy. So, a quick recap!

November, the usual celebrations for that time of year. December, health issues arose. January, we slowly started to get things back in order. I managed to take the whole summer break to simultaneously get nothing and everything done. February, March, and April have been spent in a haze of writing and editing, writing and editing, as best I can while continuing to recover.

By the end of 2014, I had written an incredible 120,000 words for the entire year, across multiple projects. The next novel in the Snowflesh Trilogy clocked in over 90,000 words, and I have moved onto revising it into something worth handing to my editors. Other stories, a couple of which have been invitations to upcoming anthologies, have demanded sporadic bursts of attention with their various deadlines scattered throughout 2015.

All in all, things are good, continuing to progress, and as long as nothing new crops up, the next novel will herald its arrival by the end of the year, and I hope to have a few more significant short stories accepted in the meantime.

Of course, if you want to have a tiny taste of the efforts I’ve been expending, there will be a piece of my flash fiction in this month’s Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing newsletter. Sign up is free, you’ll get to read Night Sounds and see another end of the world from yours truly. Go to www.pmmpnews.com and fill in the relevant details to receive your copy around May 28th!

And for me, I’m falling back into Book Two. One third down, two more to go.

~A

Advertisements

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

The amazing, beautiful depression of book three

Book three of The Damning Moths Anecdota was actually what started me writing the series. I’ve known certain things about this book since the moment of conception; scenes which would be integral to the overall plot. From these seeds, much of the world lore and characterisation was born.

Last night while at work, a lot of book three happened in my head. Certain key scenes in books one and two carry over emotionally into the main points of the third story. Things were just right for me to follow these scenes and understand the direction of this story arc.

This morning, as usual, I sat down to work on The Damning Moths and hunted for some appropriate music. I came across the perfect song for the culmination of last night’s ideas, a song which just broke all of my plans to edit and demanded I write this book. It isn’t just one of those “make notes and get to it later”, this is all-consuming. Depending how you see the situation, this is either awesome, or really unfortunate, because I have written a lot, but edited very little.

I’m a big believer in taking what’s offered to you; if my mind is fixed on these parts of the third book, I might as well write them. And they have come out smoothly, without effort. The setting is all there, and I have reached “Flow”. Nothing like writing completely out of order! Also, this book is depressing as hell. You’re all forewarned. Book three. I knew it would be this way, but I have had a few moments of wondering how I can possibly love my characters so much when I’m doing this to them.

I am definitely a tragedienne; the one prone to choosing tragic roles. I revel in sad music, my favourite stories kill, maim, or impossibly wound my favourite characters, and this definitely shows in my writing. There’s a lot of struggle and sadness for my characters. It all makes me love them more, though. To have them experience loss and death and their own melancholic realisations. The actions of other characters. Challenges they don’t know if they can survive. And speckled in between are the moments of light and love and happiness to contrast all the parts which make me pause, close my eyes, and feel an echo of their pain. Writing is hugely emotional, especially when the right song is on repeat for hours at a time.

With things the way they are going, I should manage to get these scenes out of my system with plenty of time left to get back to editing, and then I have all this head start on the third novel… when I am finally meant to be writing it.

~A

The home stretch

I hesitate in posting this, simply because I have proven myself inept at gauging the time it takes me to finish any writing project! Even short stories, ones which I think will be completed in just a quick flash. No, they take months extra for no good reason. But, nevertheless, despite a novel being even more unpredictable, I think I’m on the final leg of this novel’s journey – before things really get underway for The Damning Moths.

There’s a certain sense of complication in thinking I’m nearly at the end. Of course, the inevitable desire to rush through, which is absolutely not allowed! After all this, rushing the end would be unforgivable! So I must consciously maintain the same critical mind I’ve had through the rest of these final edits. At the same time, my fast read-through of these last chapters feel like they’re pretty solid. I made a lot of notes about certain plot threads which need to be tidied, but other than that? Well, the ending is just a lot more certain of itself than the beginning was in a lot of ways. We’ll blame it on all the action; it changes the pace, the story evolves into something else. And honestly, by the time I was writing the end, I had all the practice of writing the beginning, going at it for weeks solid. That helps. Truly.

So I will do what is necessary, and finish this novel, and then it will be read for the last time by my copyeditor to make sure I fixed the problems. We’re coming to the hard part. The “everything after”. I feel familiar enough with writing that the writing itself is just this fun thing I do. I sit and have conversations with fictional people. I record what they think and do in challenging situations. I get to read my work and enjoy where it takes me and feel vicious glee and longing and sadness and laughter in all the right places. What comes next, though, that’s all new to me. Publishing is still the big scary beyond.

All the more reason for me to get through it, do what I must, then return to the comforts of writing book two.

While I know most of my blogging buddies will have already seen this, because I am absurdly late to share things, I must reiterate the many people before me who’ve said watch Neil Gaiman give a speech to university graduates. Because Neil Gaiman is amazing. So please, if you haven’t already, watch:

~A

Are We There Yet?

I feel like the stereotypical child in the backseat of the car, whining incessantly at the people in control. Of course, when I actually was much younger and we drove around a lot, I didn’t have the same sense of impatience displayed by others. Driving places is neat, and I was capable of entertaining myself. For instance, counting as high as I could. With a tenacious child enthused about a challenge, that will pass the time on a long trip.

But now I’m older, and my proverbial car ride is the endless sense of completing a novel. I’m impatient. I look at the days flying by, I wonder how I can still possibly be working on the same project. The Damning Moths approaches a full year since beginning, June 22nd. Minor interruptions are both embraced and repelled. Something new! Something distracting! Oh, heavens, something to lengthen the time it’s already taken me to get this far.

I’m inspired by those who have been releasing books for a number of years and have the practice down to an art. They write fast, edit fast, move on, release another, start again. I know it’s an experience thing; I’ll get to that point some day. I’m looking forward to it like no one’s business. But I can’t help those feelings of wanting to already be at that stage, to be so sure-footed in my work.

I don’t really second-guess myself too much. There are some instances where I’m a victim of my own negativity, of course, but I still persevere. It’s just the length of time. Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Why aren’t we there yet?

On one hand, it seems like the last few chapters shouldn’t take me much longer. I’m nearly at the end. I can almost reach out and brush my fingertips against the finish line. But then there’s the flipside, where it’s taken me this long to reach the point I have. I wonder if life will continue to be so busy that I only get stolen moments to focus on my story.

Of course, it won’t end there! The cover is coming along nicely, the ISBNs are organised, and I have a ready stack of resources at hand for all the other little in-between bits which come with releasing a novel. So, yes, I’m eager to be done, but it will just take on a whole new form once the book is out in the world. I guess, in that regard, we’re never really “there yet”, it’s all just another phase of being an author.

~A

Redefining: Time

I’m, ah, not precisely a patient person. When weeks worth of effort, nearly two straight months, still hasn’t gotten me where I want to be, it usually takes a lot for me to persist. I might be stubborn, but I’m impatient, and that can make for a bad combination. Often, if something hasn’t come to pass in due time, I will find something more interesting to focus on.

The good news is, I haven’t lost interest in my writing projects, even if they’re taking way too long! Quite the opposite, I’m almost rabidly obsessed, even now. I don’t feel the need to rush off and do something else yet, I just keep heading back and chipping away. Will I meet my deadlines? Nope. Is the end in sight? Only if you can look far enough ahead! I’m just feeling really enthusiastic to have it done, completed, ready to release to the world, and I’m just not getting there in the timeframe I wanted. It’s not coming from a place of anxiety, thankfully, just a real lot of eagerness. I’m ready for the next part, the next book, the next idea.

I know I need to be easy on myself; there have been a lot of extra hours worked at my day job, and that “life” thing has been a pesky distraction more than a couple of times. I’ve managed to do a little bit every day, so there is a build-up of progress. Slowly but surely. I would like to be able to set out the new deadline and know I will meet it solidly, but I really can’t be certain. Even if I average out the previous work, I won’t get a good estimation, because nothing goes along so simply as that!

Instead, I have chosen to redefine my illusion of time. It’s kind of an effort in willfully ignoring the problem of doing anything does take time, since if I stop paying attention to how long it’s taking me, I no longer need to worry about it. I know, this is the opposite way most people feel they should work, but I am entirely aware of how much I do every day (both in writing, and the rest of life), so all it comes back to it “time” being the problem. Henceforth, time’s relative existence is not my concern. It’s all going to happen. Eventually.

~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