27 January, 2014

Progress update

Nothing is as impossibly hard to ignore as a brick to the face.

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.

o_o

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

Mildly Interesting Times

Rincewind is not my favourite character, but I did enjoy Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett for his usual satirical flair, callback characters, and progressive changes. We get Pratchett's wonderful humour that is sometimes subtle enough that a second reading (or The Annotated Pratchett File) is needed to discover. We find out what's happened to Twoflower and Conan, and then we get to see more to Hex's evolution as the first (magical) computer on the Discworld. Overall, it's a 4 out of 5.

Next up: Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko.

09 January, 2014

(Kate) of Kinrowan

Today I finished Jack of Kinrowan by Charles de Lint, which is divided into two stories -- Jack, the Giant Killer and Drinking Down the Moon. While I was impressed with de Lint's writing style, I thought he did a great injustice to the reader. Let me explain . . .

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

Hello, Library Card, let's be friends!

I'm usually good about bringing a book to work with me, or at least bringing something with me to keep myself occupied for my full hour of lunch. Today, I messed up, though, and forgot to bring anything with me. In my quest to find something to read, my coworker recommended I log onto our library's website and read one of the many thousand ebooks that are available. In fact, she told me I could read the next book in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series by borrowing it from the digital library.

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

Ringing in 2014

Well, Happy New Year, everyone! I trust you all are doing well.

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:

Terry Pratchett:
1 Sourcery
2 Wyrd Sisters
3 Pyramids
4 Guards! Guards!
5 Eric
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:
13 Affliction
14 Micah

Neil Gaiman:
15 Stardust

J. R. R. Tolkien:
16 The Hobbit

Richard Adams:
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?

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Ash Litton

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.