16 August, 2014

A little about the author

I realize I haven't taken the time to actually tell you about me. I've told you about my works, but not me and why I write. Which is rather surprising, considering I've been keeping this blog for over a year. Anyway, I suppose I should start from the beginning, yes?

I was – oh, geez – still in elementary school, growing up on Transformers G1 and Transformers: Beast Wars. Mainframe and HASBRO had just started airing the third season of Beast Wars, and by the second episode – the introduction of Depth Charge – I finally found my favourite character. The whole season introduced us to the animosity and history between Depth Charge and his nemesis, Rampage, and I couldn't sit still between the episodes to wait for more. Somewhere about this time, I stumbled upon the now-defunct Beast Wars Anonymous fanfiction website, and by Primus! had I fallen in love with all the wonderful side adventures the folks at BWA had come up with. It inspired me to try my own hand, and I posted some things to other websites (BWA was no longer being updated at this point in time), and began the slow process of evolving as a writer. Long story short, I was about ten years old when I first started writing.

I can't say I've ever finished the current incarnation of my fanfic, although I'm still picking at it here and there, but my original works are now my priority, so the fanfics will only be updated between those. I'm proud to say that I do better on finishing my original works, though. Uncertain Heirs (out for agent queries) and Thoroughbred are entirely completed, and I have several other first drafts that I'm currently editing. Uncertain Heirs took me about a year and a half to properly write, edit, revise, repeat, until it was done; on the other hand, Thoroughbred took around six months. I've got two long short stories/short novellas that I'm in the process of editing now, one of which I completed just this past July for Camp NaNoWriMo (The Cardinal's Direction), the other I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2013 (We Can See It Through The Window). I'm hoping those'll only take me an average of a year to finish in their entireties.

The reason it takes me so long to complete these works is because I'm doing a 40-hour a week day job, so I only have (if I sit down and focus) about 3 hours a night to write and edit. The weekends are always up for grabs, as those days depend on what "real life" demands of me. And sometimes "real life" doesn't take my writing seriously, which I think is because I do all my writing on the computer, and most people these days presume that if you're on a computer (or any mobile device), that you're just using social media. But see, if I'm not writing, I am still on the computer, but I'm putting together research, pinning down business plans for self-publishing, or just trying to get my questions answered. Social media really only takes up about . . . eh, I'll shoot high, and say I spend about an hour and a half total on social media each day, but my Twitter usage is limited to advertising and marketing what I have for sale.

It's somewhat surprising how involved self-publishing can become. Someone who's just doing the basic Kindle book and limited advertising won't spend that much time on the business side, but when you really get into wanting to publish your own works under your own name – and by name, I mean press name – then you have to start looking into business plans, record keeping, accounting methods, licensing, short- and long-term goals, marketing, so on and so on. It can become an involved process, especially if you're doing it all on your own like I am.

Which reminds me: if you're going to self-publish, and do it seriously because you want to make money, then you need to develop plans to get your writing from point Imagination to point Published. A good number of my stories come from unique dreams that I've had, and many of them have an open-endedness that I have to fill in to make complete stories. The way I do that is to write out what I have, then consort with critiquing groups (Scribophile is my favourite, as it has a straightforward system, and like-minded folks who're there wanting just as serious of feedback for what they're giving) to discover the holes I can't see. Based on their feedback, I fill in, cut, edit, polish, revise, and do everything else it takes to make the story viable and marketable. If it takes me three rounds of editing, then it takes me three rounds, same as if it takes me nine. You can't be afraid to work on something if you want to have a finished product.

And that might just be the most interesting thing about my writing process, in that I use my patience to get me through the process. Yes, it does look daunting sometimes, to have just finished one round of edits to only have to go back and start all over again.

But trust me, it's worth it.

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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.