27 December, 2014
I'm using my coherent awake time to work on Book 2 in the Queen of Seasons quintet, which is nearing its end slowly because of the aforementioned flu. Consolation: I only have two chapters and an epilogue left to write, and I'm working on one of those chapters right now, so there we go, progress!
Anyway, back to burning the midnight oil so I can play catch up before I have to call it quits on account of flu medicine. See you folks after the new year ;)
21 December, 2014
On the novel front, I'm wrapping up the ending to book 2, but it's stalled at the moment while I'm working to build up more karma on Scribophile to get my own works critiqued. I'm thinking once we're over the Christmas hump I'll be able to better juggle critiquing and novel writing.
I'm looking forward to being back on a normal schedule with updates, but I'm so thrilled to see you've all stayed with me regardless of the recent sporadic blogs. Anyway, time to get back to the grind ;)
Talk to you all later!
06 December, 2014
Of course, I thought I would take a little break once I finished, but the muse is strong with this one, and I'm still typing out Book 2. I look to have it finished mid-December, if not sooner, and perhaps get Book 3 (Squall Line) started as well. I would love to get all five books written before taking them to edits, as it would mean I could release them all at the same time! Wouldn't that be great?
I hope you all had as wonderful a November as I did, and with Christmas and New Year's coming up, I wish you all cheerful tidings. Next weekend I've got a wedding to attend, so if you don't hear from me, I'll be back in two weeks. Laters, all! :)
16 November, 2014
NaNoWriMo this year has been my best to date. I reached the 50K word goal by day 10, and since then I've been slowing my progress as I work towards the ending of this novel.
I think I told you folks last time that I'm working on my Queen of Seasons quintet, which has been sitting untapped and unfinished on my computer for nearly five years. I never had the proper motivation to work on it before, and the last time I did Camp NaNoWriMo, I just couldn't bring myself to start it (which, sadly, resulted in me abandoning the quintet again).
This time, though, I've made leaps of progress. I've gone back and added in the character who wasn't there the first time, reorganized scenes, trimmed some down, wrote entirely new ones, and rewrote some characters' personalities. I even made a delightfully malicious choice by having the fear dearg continue its masquerade as a toddler for more than just the opening scenes. Seriously, the fear dearg's become what I now dub Crowning Character of Nope for all the creepiness he instills.
Which brings me to another point: I haven't told you all much about the Queen of Seasons quintet. Well, the premise is that the Celtic god Lleu Llaw Gyffes has died, but his power survived through his human servant, thus allowing him to live on. When Lleu Llaw Gyffes is finally, officially, reborn, he comes back as a woman named Jennifer Murray. Now that Jennifer's returned, all of faerie wants her power before she can realize her own potential.
I'd love to tell more, but I think that would be oversharing. I'll just say that once I get it all wrote up, it will definitely be worth it. Anyway, I'd love to stay longer and chat, but I'm burning NaNo daylight. I'll be back at the end of the month with more updates.
See you then, folks! :)
31 October, 2014
25 October, 2014
I'd like to extend it further for anyone else to join in. Please go to anymarine.com and learn how you can adopt a marine. :)
As for the writing progress: I've completed another short story, and have left it to sit and mature while I go back to edit other things and start new projects. I haven't queried any agents in a while, as I'm waiting for several grace periods to expire. Once all those catch up, I'll send out more. And as always, I'll keep you folks posted.
Until next time!
18 October, 2014
The ones I'm working on today are direct follow up to Thoroughbred and Evening Hallow, both of which, I'm excited to say, will eventually connect the two casts. I'd like to think I'll be able to do this with all of my dreamfics eventually. I may even have a serial out of it, wouldn't that be interesting? :)
Anyway, it was good catching up with you, but now it's time for me to get back to work. Tootles, and I'll see you next week.
11 October, 2014
I like listening to the podcasts right now because the more time I spend on Lightning Strikes 1,200 Times, the more it leans towards horror. I'm hoping that the atmosphere will translate through my muse onto the paper, and help transform this short story into something memorable.
Short story. Heh. Frankly, I've impressed myself. Lightning Strikes started out as a flash fiction, barely 1,000 words and two pages. Now it's 7,700+ words and 14 pages, and a tempest. Currently I have it out for critiques, which is why I've been listening to so much Welcome to Night Vale. The change in focus is keeping me from overthinking possible edits, and also giving me a chance to relax and let my mind recuperate after four straight weeks of writing and editing.
The good news is, I think Lightning Strikes is almost ready to be published, so I may be able to get it published to Amazon in time for Halloween. It just needs some well-placed tweaks, which will have to wait until I get the feedback from the critics.
Anyway, I'm out for now. You folks take care until next week :)
04 October, 2014
13 September, 2014
I woke up this morning feeling fine, but by 10-11AM I was down under a pile of blankets trying to sweat this thing out. No such luck so far. Lightning Strikes 1,200 Times is going well, and I hope to have a more thorough update on it for you next week.
06 September, 2014
I will be back later with a proper post. :)
And now I'm back a day late to offer a proper post. In a way, this has been a long week, and when I have long weeks, it means I've gotten very little work done. And it's true this time. Every day this week I thought I would accomplish a large chunk on the second draft of Lightning Strikes 1,200 Times, but every day I got sidetracked with research.
In particular, I have continuity errors that must be solved within the second draft, which means I'm spending a lot of time rereading what I've got from the first draft, and making the small adjustments as I go to make sure it all jives down the road. What kind of continuity errors, you might ask. Well, in my first draft, I made mention of a high school, but I've since changed it to an elementary school, which means that every reference to it has to be hand-checked so all the descriptors line up. The other thing is that in my first draft, I only had generalizations that I now have to give weight to by making them specific, and that means spending more time researching items to ensure that proper terms are used.
Of course--and this is the most annoying part--I have to spend a lot of time checking Place names to make sure I'm not referencing real-world places and businesses. I don't want to get into liability issues, so the best thing to do is just Make Stuff Up.
All that aside, the other thing that causes delays is that these short stories I'm writing are all dream-based, and thus I still them all in the same world, which means occasionally I'll rework something in one that should actually go to another. When that happens, I have to dig up my notes for the others and jot them down in the appropriate sections.
This is, I think, why my second drafts always take the longest. In fact, if I had to put it into time, I'd say the second draft takes twice as much time of all the other drafts put together. It's pretty daunting when you think of it that way, so I try not to think about it and instead just do it and get it done. There's no need to intimidate myself out of working on a project -- I'd never get anything done otherwise.
Anyway, I need to get back to work, so I'll chat with you all later. Thanks for stopping by!
30 August, 2014
I've made several accomplishments this week that I'm quite proud of, which I would like to share with you folks:
We Can See It Through The Window -- this is a tribute to one of my favourite works, Waiting For Godot. The title, of course, has been a placeholder until I could think of something suitable that would connect with the work itself. Finally after months of waiting, I dreamt up Cabover Cabaret, a title that says exactly what's in the book: social commentary that takes place majorly within a truck. Once that was out of the way, the ending to the story finally came, and I was able to complete the first draft. And now it's shelved for a few months so I can come back to it with fresh eyes.
Speaking of fresh eyes -- I started revisions on Lightning Strikes 1,200 Times. This little flash fiction is on its way to become a full short story, complete with a new opening that highlights Holly's breaking point. Holly being the main character, of course. Once I finish this second draft, it'll go back to my favourite critiquing group for evaluation. If it's anything like Thoroughbred, I should have it completed and up for sale through Amazon within the next six months.
Aside from those two things, I'm still receiving rejections for Uncertain Heirs, which means I'm doing something right that the agents are actually looking at my query instead of it ending up in their slush piles. I've got another round of query submissions to prepare, and I'll have those out this upcoming week.
In the meanwhile, I'll keep you all posted on these current and future projects, as I really can't wait to share them with you all. Anyway, take care until next weekend! :)
Currently Reading: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Currently Watching: WVU v. Alabama (then later, Doctor Who)
Revision in Progress: Lightning Strikes 1,200 Times
On Deck: Evening Hallow
23 August, 2014
Is the link above not working? Copy and paste http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IHOTTQW/ into your browser to get a free copy today only!
16 August, 2014
09 August, 2014
In other news, there's nothing new to report on the progress of Uncertain Heirs. I've had no responses since last week, but hopefully I'll hear at least a "No" from an agent soon.
And finally, as a reminder, Thoroughbred is still on sale for .99c. You can get it through Amazon for your Kindle or Kindle App for your mobile device or computer. Also, if you're trying KindleUnlimited, you can get it for free!
That's all for now, folks. Tune in next Saturday for more updates on my querying adventure and writing progress.
02 August, 2014
Camp NaNoWriMo has drawn to an end, and though I didn't finish my current project, I did at least meet my word count goal. I've got an estimated 5-10 pages left to write on this project, The Cardinal's Direction, which will wrap up a combination of dreams that I managed to tie into one story. I'm looking forward to editing it after I get the final bit written. I know, I know, I say that every time I come out with a new project, but editing really is the fun part for me -- I get to watch my babies grow up into finished drafts.
Thoroughbred is still on sale -- so you can get it now for .99c, or! -- you can get it for free using the new KindleUnlimited feature offered by Amazon. They're still sporting the 30-day trial, so if you decide to take advantage of their offer, you can take advantage of a free read of Thoroughbred, too.
I'm excited to see that the sale price has appealed to a lot of folks, and if you all keep buying copies, I'll be able to invest in doing an audiobook copy for those who like to have their books on the go. If this is something that interests you, then please encourage your friends and family to buy copies of Thoroughbred, too, as it'll get us faster to the audiobook option.
Sunday has become my day for sending out agent queries. Still getting rejections left and right, but that's all par for the course. The ones I sent out recently were all mailed, so I may be looking at 6-8 weeks before any type of response for those. The others I have out by e-mail should take about 2-3 weeks for responses (that is, if the particular agents can/will reply).
For now, that means that UNCERTAIN HEIRS is shelved while it waits to be picked up by an agent, and while I work on my other projects. I'm in the middle of researching all the extras I'll have to worry about if I do inevitably go with self-publishing this novel. Especially since, ya know, I'll be a lot more involved with the novel since I want to be able to sell it through more websites than just Amazon.com.
And then sometimes that dreaded thing known as Personal Life gets involved and shoos away every writing muse I have. Lately, some things have kept me from outright working on my shorter stories, so I've shifted myself into a different schedule. I'm able to still work on my projects, just not as quickly as I'd like to. I never want to rush the process, just because rushing makes for sloppy work, but I don't like to completely stop, so I compromise, and take a little progress over no progress at all.
I wonder -- because I'm thinking of doing it for myself, but would it be interesting to you all if I posted progress bars of my work status for my various projects? I couldn't do something as complicated as a NaNoWriMo counter, which wouldn't suit my purposes anyway, but just a simple percentage graph.
Anyway, time to get back to work. Catch you all later!
18 July, 2014
14 July, 2014
No reason we can't work on other things while querying agents. Camp NaNoWriMo is almost halfway through, and I've got a short story/novella project in the works that's almost finished, and almost on the word goal I originally anticipated.
I like to write these stories as they come to me (mainly so I don't forget them), and then in the downtime between new things I work on them, polishing them to make them ready for public view. This one I'm working on, I'm particularly proud of, and I can't wait to edit it and put it up alongside Thoroughbred. If you're interested, you can read the blurb (and see the tentative cover!) here.
In other news, I've sent out another round of queries, including a snail mail one that made me feel all kinds of excited in a nostalgic kind of way. I know it sounds weird, because this is obviously my first time querying by mail, but it's a new experience, a thrilling one at that.
As always, I'll continue to keep you posted with my progress on all things, the queries and the new projects. Goodnight for now!
06 July, 2014
Publishing is much the same way. Since I've started querying just over a month ago, I've sought out ten agents, and I've been respectfully rejected by seven of them (the other three stated they would only respond if they liked the material).
I'm not disheartened by this in the least. This is my challenge that I've accepted, and I will rise to the occasion because I want to publish Uncertain Heirs and share my story with the world. All it takes is one agent to say "Yes", and I'll have successfully leaped the hurdle that I'd only been dreaming about two years ago. All I need is perseverance, time, and a positive attitude, and I know that not only can I dream big, but I can win big as well.
So stay tuned with me, keep checking back for updates, and I will keep you posted on this incredible journey towards being published.
As you may have noticed, I mentioned Coraline by Neil Gaiman above -- this is because I just finished reading the book as part of my goal to read 25 books in one year. I'm so glad I read it during my querying venture, because Coraline was the gentle reminder that I needed that things can be overcome, and all you have to do is be brave.
My rating for Coraline is five stars out of five.
26 June, 2014
Wish us luck :)
12 June, 2014
08 June, 2014
31 May, 2014
I know the blogs have been kinda slow lately, but that's all because I'm focusing on the novel as I promised you. However, if you'd like to keep in contact with more real time updates, please consider following me on twitter. @joshinyasha
Catch ya later!
24 May, 2014
For now, I've figured out something that works for me. Basically, I keep a dedicated time carved out on my calendar -- my hour of lunch during the day job is spent editing on Uncertain Heirs, and my 8:30PM-10:30PM time block is also spent editing on Uncertain Heirs. Those are my absolutely writing times, dedicated to nothing but writing. Of course, given a good day, and no where else to be, I may work from 5:30PM on, so I'm free to write on Uncertain Heirs whenever I want.
The thing is now, with this other story vying for my attention, I've had to figure out ways to appease it while still making my (self-imposed) required writing goals. So, I've come up with a way that makes sense. This once-abandoned story is a side project, a pet project, if you will, and I have to give it attention like any pet. When it howls and insists on playing ball, I turn away from Uncertain Heirs and write on whatever scene had come to the forefront of my thoughts. I write, and write, and write until the pet's worn out, until it doesn't want to play anymore for the night. Then I put it to bed at 8:30PM, and get back to my block of time dedicated to finishing Uncertain Heirs.
If I'm out and about even, and I'm outside my lunch block or out to dinner with friends, I scribble what notes I can on the pet, so's I can save them for another time. Writing it (despite being out of sequence) when I can makes it so much better for me when I can lay it to rest for the night and focus solely on Uncertain Heirs.
So far, this is the best method I've discovered, but I realize it only works because it's only two competing projects. A few months ago, I wanted to work on everything at once (short stories included), and I ended up freezing, unable to work on anything. It was only after I tried focusing only on Uncertain Heirs that everything else, save the once-abandoned story, calmed down.
I can handle two, just not twenty.
12 May, 2014
11 May, 2014
My story began when I pid-padded along a Twitter hashtag journey, clicking here and there based upon my interests. Then I came upon a picture of someone working on a handmade hare doll, and what became a compliment turned into a tweet exchange that left me asking, "What in the world does peffa-shindinculously mean?"
Twitter led to the blog run by artist and writer team, Jacqui and Phil Lovesey, and not only was I enthralled by their majickal crafting skills, but the excerpt of Matlock the Hare on Amazon had me at hello. To be honest, I haven't been this ensnared by a story's opening since The Hobbit, nor as convinced by a fantastical culture since Watership Down.
Everything grand about my favourite childhood stories -- Wind in The Willows, Labyrinth, The Last Unicorn, and even Flight of Dragons -- Matlock the Hare could fit in with all the best of them. And it should. Every bit of whimsy in this novel belongs right up there with the greats.
Now, probably because I'm a language nerd, I will say that what I loved most about this novel was that the land of Winchett Dale isn't just brought about through dialogue. The reader (or traveller, as the opening would say) is totally immersed in the saztaculous narrative from beginning to end. The Loveseys help you out, of course, by providing the most commonly used words in the front, but by the time you've reached the end of the first chapter, you've become so fluent in the language that you don't need the cheat sheets anymore.
Overall rating: I love this book, plain and simple. I was already recommending it to friends before I'd finished the first chapter. It's. That. Good. Frankly, it's everything good and whimsical of my favourite childhood stories rolled into one, and if Matlock the Hare doesn't become the next big children's--oh, hell, the next big book for everyone, then a great injustice has been done.
Five out of Five stars for memorable characters, original plot, and solid world-building.
21 April, 2014
14 April, 2014
That's right, folks, because of your loyal readership, I've procured the rights to www.ashlitton.com to make it even easier for you all to navigate here. So update your bookmarks accordingly (and even if you don't, ashlitton.blogspot.com will redirect for you).
I am still combing through the verbiage for the Uncertain Heirs summary, getting it ready to go out to the agents. This is by far one of the most difficult things I've had to do, to prepare a summary for a 95,000+ novel that can fit all on one to two pages. I'll be sure to keep you apprised of that journey, especially once I start submitting to agents.
The edits are on schedule, and it's simply fascinating how I can be on the fourth draft and still find things to add or delete. My goal is to make sure that everything ties in, and there're no plots left hanging.
But now I must get back to work. Catch you all again soon! :)
22 March, 2014
17 March, 2014
05 March, 2014
Anyway, I'm drawing to a close on my latest short story, a paranormal romance titled "Evening Hallow". This one may or may not end up in a compilation with Thoroughbred and some other short stories that I've got in the works. Who knows, I may save it for later and push forward with the ones I've currently got out for critiques.
Oh, and don't forget -- Thoroughbred is now available for purchase through Amazon Kindle. I even added a link off to the side on the main page to make it easier for you guys to find. :) Enjoy!
01 March, 2014
In the meanwhile, I've got Uncertain Heirs out for critique, and a couple other shorts in the works. It's looking like a full plate for 2014, but I can at least offer to keep you entertained with Thoroughbred, which is available for Amazon Kindle download.
Be sure to check it out :)
23 February, 2014
I gave "I Told the Witch Doctor" over to my peer group to see what they think of the initial draft. I haven't yet touched "Lightning Strikes 1,200 Times", but I'm sure I'll be giving it a once over this week before I turn it over to my peers.
We Can See It Through the Window is a special bird. I never finished it during NaNo because it put me over the 50K mark, and, well, I got lazy and couldn't come up with much more to add to it. I've been glancing at it today, even managed to write out approximately 1 page of new material for it. Oh, and have I mentioned it went from short story to novella? Novellette, maybe? I dunno for sure, but maybe if I can resolve the ending on it this week, I'll have a better idea of what it'll be marketed as.
Oh, and of course, I need to plug this because Writer's Prerogative, but for those of you who've not been around lately, I did publish a short story! You can buy a copy of Thoroughbred from the Amazon Kindle bookstore.
17 February, 2014
I have great news -- to keep you all entertained and interested while I work on getting Uncertain Heirs in order, I am excited to say that I have published my New Adult "rural fantasy" short story Thoroughbred to Amazon Kindle. For those of you interested you can find the link and information under the Publications tab above, or you can cheat and just click this link here! I hope you all enjoy it :)
16 February, 2014
Wish me luck :)
09 February, 2014
And now to start the fourth draft off by doing yet another scene rewrite. I guess it's true what they say, that the end draft never looks like the first draft.
27 January, 2014
In this case, it was a writing brick.
I was in the middle of edits for Uncertain Heirs when a project from 2010 that I'd started (and couldn't find the inspiration to finish) took me by surprise with an expanded plot that covers five books instead of one.
Yeah, I was intimidated a bit. But hey, the images I received were so potent that I spent the last two weeks writing out summaries for each story. I've got a comprehensive outline -- bits of dialogue included, and one unifying plot line that'll keep the whole thing together.
While this did take time and focus away from Uncertain Heirs, I do at least have a jumping point for future projects now, as far as full-length novels are concerned. But, now, I'm back on track to finishing the third draft of Uncertain Heirs, and (I don't remember if I've mentioned this before) once I'm through that, I'm gonna tweak chapters 1 and 2 again before finally querying some agents.
This'll be a new step for me, querying agents, and I think with all the talking I've done on the story itself that I'll be posting about each attempt I make at querying. Because this is a blog about writing, and querying is part of the writing process. So through the rejections, the "maybe--erm, no"s, and the "maaaaaybe"s, I'll be posting my progress.
Here's to a wonderful year of querying :)
11 January, 2014
Next up: Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko.
09 January, 2014
Jacky Rowan is the main character of both stories, yet her portrayal as the fabled Jack of Kinrowan is a disappointing one. Jacky makes stupid decisions, especially in Drinking Down the Moon, which leads her friend Kate "Crackernuts" Hazel to shine through her strategies and common sense. It's a good thing this book is written from multiple perspectives, otherwise I would have to give it a 3.5 for Jacky's lack of character. Kate, hands down, is the star in my opinion, and earns the book 4 out of 5 stars.
On another note, you'll notice the fancy list next to my book. I've started a reading list for myself, the goal to read at least 25 books this year. So far, I've finished the first book (Jack of Kinrowan), and am halfway through the next book (Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett).
I've got several stories that I need to finish, which've made their way onto the list, and then I have books that I haven't read in years (such as Dune) that I'll be re-reading before I move on to their follow up books. If possible, I'm going to post reviews of each one as I finish them. If I forget any, then apologies in advance.
02 January, 2014
Let me be honest -- the last time I used the public library was when I was still in high school, and this was eight years ago before ebooks got a foothold. I'd forgotten about the library, and I shouldn't've. The last time I used the library (when I first started Pratchett's books back in high school), was to check out Pratchett's books from a very limited selection -- i.e. Good Omens with Neil Gaiman, and Soul Music. My choices back then were very limited, very limited indeed.
But as I sat there listening to my coworker tell me that Pratchett's books were all in digital form, I realized the ol' days of waiting weeks for a book to be checked back in, to be shipped from one district to mine, were long gone.
I jumped on the library's page with every intent of downloading the next book, Interesting Times, to keep myself occupied, only to realize I'd forgotten my ID number. A brief search of the page advised me to call the library, so I did.
Sadly to discover that the library card I'd had since I was four years old was gone, deleted from their system. Apparently, and I didn't know this, but if you don't use your card within five years, it goes inactive. Well, geez, here I thought every time I checked out a book from my college library that it was counted since, hey, the two libraries were linked don'tcha know?
Except that wasn't the case, so I was forced to get a new card after I left work this evening. For all of the five minutes it took me, I came to realize how neglectful I'd been. I mean, that was my library card that I'd had since I was four years old, and now it was no more. My library card was my best friend growing up, and going off to college had separated us, and then job hunting had driven us apart even more. If only I'd checked out a book when I got back from college, I could've still had my card.
But now I've got a new friend -- he's kinda cute, kinda small, fits on a keychain if I like. I just gotta bit a responsible owner with him and make sure I feed him regularly, starting with the next book in the Discworld series.
Since I've got that part of my life sorted and made a new friend in the process, I think it's time to mention where I stand with Uncertain Heirs. Yes, after taking November to do NaNoWriMo and December to recover from NaNoWriMo, I'm finally back in the saddle and working on Chapter 8 of 12. I edited the first scene last night, and my intent is to finish editing the rest of the chapter tonight.
Okay, lemme be serious, I'll probably manage one scene tonight, and if that's the case, then I'm okay with that because progress is progress. A good book is like any piece of fine art. You can get the general shape on the first few passes, but you gotta take your time with the details or else it doesn't look right in the end. I have decided, though, that once I finish the third draft, I'm going back to chapters 1 and 2 and giving them the proper care they deserve. Once I have those fixed up, I'm going to do it -- I'm going to put together a letter and query me some agents.
It's a big step for me, and I can only hope that my letter can do the story enough justice to convince at least one agent to say, "Hello, Ash, let's be friends!" It'll be a win-win for the both of us, me hopes :)
01 January, 2014
I thought I would take this opportunity to point out that I, like many people, have set a resolution for myself. Fortunately, I started mine back in July of 2013, so I'm making pretty good headway with it. For those of you that remember, I had a moment back in July when I realized I had some unfinished books on my plate. While I didn't get to them all, I did complete a few. I even made a mid-year resolution to start reading at least 25 books a year, and for starting in July, I think I did pretty good for myself. Take a look:
2 Wyrd Sisters
4 Guards! Guards!
6 Moving Pictures
7 Reaper Man
8 Witches Abroad
9 Small Gods
10 Lords and Ladies
11 Men at Arms
12 Soul Music
Laurell K. Hamilton:
J. R. R. Tolkien:
16 The Hobbit
17 Watership Down
Seventeen books in five months -- especially when you remember I stopped in November to do NaNo -- is damn good if you ask me. I at least did well enough to keep myself motivated for the new year, and I'll be looking forward to seeing my progress for 2014.
How about you folks? Have any of you made pre-New Year's resolutions that you're following through with?
Ash Litton is a writer and lover of sci-fi, fantasy, and all things fictional. She is the author of No Signal, Thoroughbred, Evening Hallow, Comeuppance, and Cabover Cabaret, and works on other Appalachian Dream Tales between her ongoing novel projects.
When she's not writing, she's drawing, and when she's not doing either of those, she's dreaming up new projects to work on. Born and raised in rural West Virginia, Ash has always wondered what things lay hidden in the hills around her. She attended West Virginia University, where she studied the English language before returning home to her family in rural West Virginia.