Off on a tangent

I’ve begun writing many, many short stories when an idea strikes or the mood takes me; most of the recent ones are for my own entertainment, a kind of fanfiction for the world I’ve created in The Damning Moths. Sometimes triggered by a reader asking about a specific event in the novel, or just an offshoot from where I’m filling in blanks, plotting other events, and I will start wondering, “What happens here?”

Despite the level of enjoyment these pieces bring me, in a lot of cases, I feel compelled to drop the stories in favour of writing something more in the second novel. There is an oppressive need to get the next book done now, now, now, even as I’m juggling the many threads in the story and trying to keep everything sane, in order. But there the shorts sit, waiting, and I do try and tie off those loose ends eventually. They are too fun to ignore indefinitely.

After completing the draft for an extremely succinct piece, I shrugged and gave copies to my editors to see what they would say. Opinions were good. Apparently, the story appealed to them as well. And so, given a final polish, I’ve gone ahead and released Greenflame as another freebie over at TheDamningMoths.com. You’re all welcome to stop by and read this 1,600 word short when you have a moment spare.

There are more tales from In The Between, the pieces which catch my attention here and there. I look forward to the day when more of them are complete and I can publish them as well. In the meantime, the novel still screams at the back of my mind, demanding more words, more time, more attention. Maybe we can start placing bets on which story I will get through next.

~A

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In looking back

I’ve been writing for 3/5ths of my life.

This blog has already been around for three years, a confusing rush of time blended into the everything else happening. On that note, many thanks for continuing to read, my friends. This is, as always, an interesting experience for me.

We’re approaching the third anniversary of my first publishing acceptance, and in turn, the second anniversary of holding an actual printed book in my hands, containing a story I had composed. I’ve made some amazing friends in being a part of that anthology.

Almost six months ago, my first novel successfully launched, along with a little companion tale. The start of many to come in the Anecdota.

And now, another short story will be given to the world. Something small and special, still close to my heart, still young and cherished until the moment the anthology is made and I cannot hold the words as they pour between my fingers and make their way into the reader’s minds, when the story is no longer mine alone.

As stated on the Acknowledgements page of The Damning Moths, I merely write these things; they come to life when you read them. You take them in and experience the story, and they become more, something outside of my control.

Gazing over what I have already accomplished gives a sense of warmth and comfort, a happy glow proving, “I Am.” To know how many people I am reaching, from corners of the globe both obvious and unexpected, is poignant. I’m glad for what I have already done, and equally grateful for the small, screaming voice which always tells me it’s still not enough. Because I have a drive to do it all again. Write a story. Find it the right home. Release it to change and grow and transform into what it must.

Looking back over these things, just one possible sum of my existence, I know I have done well. Here I am, listening to songs hopeful and quietly melancholic and composing new tales, always, endlessly. I can wrap the past around me as a comforting blanket. None of it was a fluke, I’m leaving a mark.

I am here, doing what I was made for.

~A

Bright lights and faerietales

I’m assured the sun is shining furiously outside though I am happier to be cloistered away in the writing cave than charring and/or melting out there. Do you know the weather people describe our forecasts with things like, “Plenty of sunshine,” and even, “Abundant sunshine,” if a quick glance out the window won’t answer the question in amazing, blinding glory? As an aside, thank you, Summer, but you’re now working overtime. Please kindly vacate the desk and allow Autumn to take over the next shift. Trust me, we’ve all earned this particular break.

Well-protected from such brightness and heat, I’m tucked away thinking about faerietales within the dark fantasy world of The Damning Moths. The legends which would inevitably shape the cultures found throughout Gantiri, not to mention the function of our own real-world grim tales. Our traditional “fairytale” form is often a veiled warning about the danger of wandering off alone in the woods; of strangers; of the dark; of waterways; of eating unknown foods. They are methods to impart knowledge, too. Stories of changelings which seem to mimic modern behavioural disorders, or tales to impress upon the listener the value of morals and proprietary.

Do fae also fear for their children exploring in nature, even when the forests are their homes? Would it be the risk of injury where no one can come to the child’s aid, or the hunting of predators, the necessity of keeping magical things secret? Do their faerietales teach the babes not to stray near a griffin’s lair, or keep far from the rival Goblin tribe? To hold back the little ones from being swept away by the playful, but ultimately immortal Elementals who will have no concept of the child dying if it falls, or drowns, or is burnt (especially when the Elementals think in terms of energy transference, rebirth, and the persistence of existence)?

What tales and superstitions and strange remedies would be passed down through generations of magical folk? Would they have even more outlandish stories to tell their children, as we speak of witches, and trolls, and werewolves? Or would the humans be the bogey? The loss of their powers? Naughty little fae can’t do magic, so be good, eat your vegetables, don’t taunt the Urisk just because he’s hairy…

~A

It’s that New Year kind of feeling

People all around the world are making goals for 2014. I’m not talking those “New Years Resolutions” deals, the ones destined to fall through once January slinks away and people return to their normal life habits, but more about how everyone takes stock, reassesses where they’re going, and reorients back toward where they thought they should be instead of the detour 2013 took them on (also known as the many varieties of, “ahaha, and you thought you were in control of your life, I’ll show you!”).

I don’t often get very new year-y, preferring to make constant little adjustments with each new moon. But lucky for me, the new moon falls on January 1st this/next year. So my thoughts are getting just a teensy bit caught up in everyone else’s planning. Not only for what I want in the following month, but what 2014 should do for me.

After the first flush of “success” with The Damning Moths – by which I mean a bundle of books have sold, and I’ve gotten real, live fan letters from people I don’t directly know (!!!) – the obvious goal is to power forward with the other books I need to finish creating. I don’t think that even counts as a new goal, except that November and December are super busy months and almost always represent a slump in my writing, so I’m feeling the internal pressure to write more, progress faster, and perceive myself as more productive and professional.

Starting on January 1st, I’ll be doing more to treat writing time like other work time. My real challenge there is in mindset. With the day jobs, I leave the house, do what needs to be done, and come home again. Writing is too personal for me to successfully take out into a public area like a coffee shop or library (what with the whole writing in a robe, not wearing pants thing – okay, more that I get distracted and start people-watching, plus don’t much like having an audience for my scribblings). I think I will start by carving out a small workspace in another room away from my main computer which is all tied up with being social and used for entertainment, to give myself the illusion that I am “going to work” when I sit down to write. I’ll schedule it in, just like my other job.

So there you have it. The goal at the top of my list is make a physical space to represent being a real writer. You’d think having a book published would cover those kind of feelings, but no. Maybe having a little separate desk won’t change my perspective much either, but it’s a good direction to start.

~A

Two Days

People have asked me, in an almost constant stream, aren’t I excited about my book coming out? Even aside from the fact that I’m rather reserved with expressing my enthusiasm (I simply do not understand the people who actually scream and leap around when they are excited), I’ve had a whole lot more to take care of in the lead up to release day. I haven’t been so worried that I couldn’t still feel eager, but at the same time, most of the nervousness I’ve had is that distant roar of panic instead of glee. So little time and so much to do, and a drive to do it all well.

But I’m running out of other responsibilities. I’ve crossed almost everything off the list. The first shipment of books coming to me is taken care of. Incidental tasks are completed. The Market on The Damning Moths website works fabulously. I’ve put up sample chapters and illustrations to the delight of many readers (and once again, thank you for the wonderful feedback). A free short story was made available. I’ve remembered to send updates to the mailing list, and finalise the ebook formatting, and complete a rather intimidating amount of business-end work.

There’s nearly nothing left to distract me.

In two days, my first novel will be available. Pre-orders will be sent out. Guests will come to the launch party on Sunday. I will sign bookplates and posters (both part of the pre-order freebies), and it’s both all too real, and a little unbelievable. Sure, I’m excited, if you dig under the veil of bewilderment.

I’ve asked some of my long-time author friends: does it get easier? Does release day ever stop being this vibrating, ruffled thing of delight and fear? There’s a reason they are my friends, because they were utterly honest with me. Even someone whose novels are bestsellers and internationally renowned warned me that, no, launches don’t get less unsettling. They just become more familiar in their terrible wonder.

And yet, here I am, ready to do it all again for the subsequent books. Stars above.

~A

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

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