The results are in!

On this fantastic December first, I will take the time to reflect back on the month of editing I (sort of) accomplished! I have technically been editing for five weeks, but during that period, I missed enough days to constitute an entire week. November has never been the best month for me to work…

I haven’t made it all the way through the story. Indeed, these past ten days have been editing the same chapter, over and over. It’s kind of an important part of the story, you know? I think I found my rhythm, hit my stride, and whatever other clichéd expressions you’d like. The only problem there, is, my style is repetitive and mildly obsessive. Read, edit, pick at each word, add detail, cut everything remotely superfluous, keep only the sharp and essential and the very carefully written. Do it all again tomorrow. Stories, I’m finding, are a very special kind of compulsion.

Every pass I take, it gets better. I can assure you of that much. But I’ve also discovered editing this closely means I often need to go further back, re-read, make sure the connections are all there, the references all make sense. So it takes a very, very long time to make even minor progress. Naturally, every time I do go back, I find something small to change. A little edit to make. Something which might not make quite enough impact gets altered.

Right now, I am still three chapters from the end of the book. My word count total has gone up by almost five thousand words, on top of everything I’ve cut and re-written into concise, clear sentences. I suspect, with the amount of changes I’ve made, the full amount of words I’ve actually written is well over double that number.

I can’t tell how much longer this will take to finish. I like to imagine the last three chapters will zoom by, but instinct tells me they are the ones I will be prying at the most. I can get a lot done with a good chunk of free time at my hands. I will be setting aside some extra writing time, specifically so I can guarantee this edit is finished before Christmas. Things get way too crazy in this household for the holidays, and I’ve honestly started to feel really inspired about working on book two of the series.

And that means, in a few months, I’ll be doing this all over again. Oh lord. Writing really is glorious, delirious madness.



No, no, be cool

Let’s not get too worked up. No squealing, no bouncing in the chair; that sort of behaviour often ends in toppling over or breaking dinner plates. Besides, we knew this day was coming. We were counting down! We checked as soon as we came online because of that! Just be cool. Make a calm announcement.

Pah. What would my brain know? The actual appropriate response is: TELL EVERYONE IMMEDIATELY.

Pre-orders for Surviving the End have opened! Yes!

The print version of this anthology is going to be something special. Not only will it include writing from my good self (hehe), but it also features the work of:
Joseph D’Lacey, with a novella titled “The Failing Flesh”;
Jason Nahrung, with “The Last Boat to Eden”;
Martin Livings, with “Unwanted”;
Amanda J Spedding, with “The Long Ago”;
Michael Bailey, with “Hiatus”;
and Kathryn Hore, with “The Stuff of Stories”.
Owner, editor and our story collector, Craig Bezant from Dark Prints Press, will be tying it all together with his own short interludes, as well. The physical book will have rough-cut page edges for an authentic after-the-world-has-ended feel and sketches scattered throughout the pages. This will be an experience, I can assure you.

I can’t tell you how ridiculously exciting this whole thing is. With a release date in April 2012, I might even get a chance to chill out in the meantime – then again, I’ve been asked to join the publisher at a convention for the release, so that’s going to have me riled up plenty.

Biggest thanks to everyone for all your support in these past few months! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have more people to inform of the news!


The story of names

To lead off with, I completed the full first draft of my fantasy novella, currently known as TDM, sometime late Sunday. I am super pleased with having it finished, and I’ve jumped straight into writing the draft of its sequel/series-mate because I am so enthusiastic about this collective piece!

[Side note: I haven’t been able to update Facebook at all since Saturday, so that explains my sudden silence/lack of updates!]

If you’ve seen my projects list (found on the Ashlee’s Writing page), you might notice that some of the abbreviated names have changed. This is a large part of why I don’t list the projects by their full titles; when they are a work in progress or even just planning stages, the name of the story can change in a snap. Book two, now AEN, didn’t have a firm title until yesterday, and the name itself will help shape the direction the story goes (it fills in a small but significant detail).

In traditional publishing, it’s pretty commonly known that the author’s chosen title can change. That was always one of the things that concerned me about eventually shopping my work around. They say don’t get too attached to the name, but the name of a thing is a very important aspect of its whole. And frankly, I know of more than enough books which have been printed with pretty terrible names (and worse covers), so I can’t imagine the industry as a whole is that much better at naming than I am.

Character and place names are also significant, and can take a lot of work to get right. Sometimes when I’m writing these fantasy stories, I get really nervous that my naming treads are getting… you know, too “fantasy”. What kind of notion is that! I know that I’m generally very reasonable about creating names, too, but when my main character ends up with something four syllables long, I worry that others might see it and think, “wow, that’s really clichéd”. But it suits her. And after 40,000 words with her, it feels completely natural.

But the concern is there, and I admit that. When you’re creating locations, mythical races, and people who wield magic, some names fit, and some don’t. I’m the kind of person that puts heaps of thought into the naming of things. The spelling, the way it’s pronounced, how the name looks in text, it’s all taken into consideration. This goes for all names. Book titles, people, whatever needs its own proper noun.

I still haven’t settled on a name for the whole series, either!


And so, it starts

My husband brings me the envelope. It’s black, a non-standard size, somehow matte and shiny at the same time. The word “Typo” is embossed ever-so faintly on the little closure flap. I notice this as I carefully peel it open. I know what this is, but I won’t react until I’ve seen the words.

Inside are three sheets of paper, folded twice. I somehow unfold them, hands turning unresponsive as I see the publisher’s logo through the paper. Printed in the top left corner, dark black ink. Fitting.

There it is. My contract. My first writing contract. I read the top line three times, trying not to let my eyes blur with tears. There’s my name, and the name of my story. I’ve been accepted.

My first run through the contract details makes no sense. I don’t know what words are anymore. I cry a little, silently, trying to puzzle through the text on these few pieces of paper. I give up and hug my husband, and he is warm and very soft. I love polar fleece. It makes soft hugs softer, and warmer.

I can finally remember how to slow my brain down enough to read each word individually. One at a time, putting the sentences together. I read through the contract carefully, once, twice, making sure I definitely understand what it says. It’s straight-forward. It’s both what I expected a publication agreement to be, and yet so much simpler.

The third page is where I sign. I’m not shaking, so my signature looks exactly like the usual mess it is. I’ve never thought of it as a “real” signature. I’m going to have to practice something more suitable, for signing my books. Somehow, I’ve forgotten the date. I ask my husband, and he laughs gently. He was born in the US, and it’s the Fourth of July. Now we will add to our vague Independence Day celebrations, because it will also be my first publication acceptance anniversary.

I fill in the rest of the details on my contract. I’ve agreed. I’m accepted. As long as everything goes according to plan, I’ll be able to hold a real book in my hands, containing my story, in under a year. Wow.

My short story is called “Harvest”, and will be published in the Dark Prints Press “Surviving the End” post-apocalyptic horror anthology. I’ll keep you all informed with pre-orders and release dates as soon as I know specifics!

I want to thank Dark Prints Press for accepting my submission. I’m looking forward to working with you now, and again down the road.

With even greater thanks to my beta readers/editors. M, T and L. You three made me realise the absolute fullest potential of my story. I’ll be coming to you again soon enough.

And of course, thank you to all my friends, family and new-found internet buddies, who have all shaped me in some way. You are ALL special to me. Thank you for joining me, no matter which part of my journey you hop in on.


Of blueberry muffins and lateness

Yesterday, I forgot it was Thursday. Forgetting what day of the week it is happens frequently; I just don’t seem to follow the same standard of time as the rest of the world. Every morning, I usually wake up and ask myself, “What day is it?”.

Today, I got blueberry muffins. They are both delicious, and the perfect writing snack! Enough cakey goodness that they are worth eating, without the added difficulty of forks and icing/frosting. I mention this only because I am enjoying one right now, and I’m writing this post, and they go together flawlessly.

I actually heard some very promising news about one of my writing projects this week! I won’t reveal anything specific yet, since it will only be a week or so until I know concrete details. Needless to say, it is still ridiculously encouraging to hear positive feedback.

I managed to play it cool at the time. All very, “Awesome, I’m so glad you liked it”, when I probably would have liked to run around giving everyone high-fives. I’ve never been a scream-in-delight kind of person, and good things take a little while to really sink in before I get super excited about them. Of course, that means by now I’m practically dancing in my chair waiting for next week to roll around and award me the final verdict.

And funny enough, having possibilities like this dangled so close, I’m ready to launch into my next major project with a trademark over-enthusiasm for my own abilities (“I only need to write 1,500 words a day to get a novel draft finished in two months? I can so totally do that!”). It won’t happen, but a girl can dream.