30 April, 2013

Iceberg, Write Ahead!

An author will always know more about their story than the readers will ever see. Although, sometimes -- and the occasion is rare -- readers do get more. If there's a story I really enjoy, I want more of it, and at times the more (a second, third, fourth book) isn't enough. I want the histories of characters and knowledge of the landscapes. I want to know if they had first loves or defining moments of their childhood.

I've heard that sometimes authors release extra information on their websites to compliment the stories, but I wonder is it ever enough? I really enjoy Pottermore, but it's slow-going. Only the first two and a half books have been released, and while I enjoy the games and pictures and histories of the characters, I still find myself craving more.

Do you ever find yourself in the same scenario? And if you're an author, have you considered elevating the iceberg of your research up for everyone to see?

26 April, 2013

What is your biggest writing fear?

What do you think you won't be able to accomplish with your writing, and how do you plan to overcome it?

24 April, 2013

Resting, research, and plotting

I mentioned that I completed the first draft of my novel, UNCERTAIN HEIRS. Final word count: 98.2K. Confetti!

Now it becomes crucial for me to take time off from staring at the manuscript, and instead do research, plot out ideas, and get some much needed shuteye. At the moment, I'm glancing at my novel scene by scene, and summarizing what's there and making changes in my notes to apply during the second draft. I confess, I have one scene that has changed -- hopefully for the better.

Aside from that, I'm doing research (here, have some zeppelins!) and using some realism and some fantasy to construct the layout for a standard passenger airship in my novel. Maybe I'll even take the time to make a layout and post the sketches.

23 April, 2013

And above all else, know when your work is complete

In other words, I finished the first draft of UNCERTAIN HEIRS just a few minutes ago. Time to let it rest for a few weeks while I recover and get myself set into edit gear. Oh, hey, I guess that means I finished Camp NaNo early!

22 April, 2013

Do you coddle your milestone?

I know they say not to over indulge a child, but it's great therapy to overindulge your milestones when you accomplish them.

What I mean is this: When I set a goal for a new story, I shoot for 80,000 words for the first round -- but! I set smaller milestones within that goal to keep myself motivated. First I shoot for 500 words, then 1,000, then 2,000, and 5,000, and 10,000, next 15,000, so on and so on. I celebrate each one because they are commitments to my greater word goal, and they're short and frequent enough to keep myself engaged with the writing.

Is this something you do? Do you set your milestones and celebrate each one as they come to pass?

18 April, 2013

Do you use a writing prop?

It helps me sometimes to have an item associated with a particularly unruly character that I can wrap my fingers around, see the colours of, smell the material. Having the item in my hands means I'm experiencing the character's reaction alongside them, and I can isolate my responses physically and emotionally, then put those into words on paper.

I've done this with coffee mugs, cutlery, stuffed animals, bodily injury (I didn't harm myself! I just pretended to be injured in a room, alone, with no one to see me so I could pretend to go from Point A to Point B in the way a maimed character might.), and recently purchased a marbleised tobacco pipe to have on hand while I write scenes where my characters are using one.

What about you? Do you have physical objects associated with your characters that you use to promote your writing experience?

16 April, 2013

A mantra worth repeating

Source: http://www.gdfalksen.com/
Sometimes I see a quote that just strikes a philosophical mood in me. For instance, this picture here (which I saw was shared by a Steampunk group on facebook) could be applied to any aspect of a person's life; however, I want to take a look at the literal meaning: writing.

Even though I stumble while writing, I pick myself up and carry on. And that's because I aspire to be great like my favourite authors, but I know better than to compare my starting work to their seasoned résumé.

Now that I have a epitomical mantra to tack above my desk, I'd like to hear what inspirational quotes you have to keep you motivated, whether it's your own or something you heard/read that stuck with you.

15 April, 2013

Pop the crackers and toss the confetti

. . . because I hit my 21K goal for Camp NaNo.


*hides those party decorations and sweeps up the preemptive confetti*

I still have one chapter scene and another chapter to write before the first draft is completed, so I'm going to do something unexpected: I'm pushing my Camp NaNo goal up to 35K.

That's right, folks! It's the middle of Camp NaNo and I've still a ways to go, so I'm upping my goal. Overall, my novel is at approximately 88,000 words, which may sound like a lot but is actually on the low-end of typical fantasy novels. We'll see how things turn out by the end.

In the meanwhile, I wanna know how everyone else is doing that's participating. Have you reached your goal and kept going? Still on course? Taking a mid-month break? Let's hear! :)

07 April, 2013

Camp NaNo update

Progress on the Camp NaNoWriMo front -- I have completed chapter 10, and am moving on to the last two. So far, I'm 11K words up, which brings the total word count excitedly close to 80K.

For anyone who may not know, this is in-line with the average count of most novels. If any of you are curious, there's a wonderful diagram courtesy of the Book Genome Project that gives breakdowns by genre and answers questions about the frequency of first or third person use within those genres.

03 April, 2013


I've always been a fan of a stories that do more than just give me a written word, because I think there's a primordial, fundamental human need to engage all five senses (six, seven, whatever you subscribe to). Just as in a book, there're real life dangers to individuals who are deprived of one sense or more. Someone with a head cold who has a stuffy nose might not smell the gas leak in the kitchen. Another without their vision in a dark room might bruise themselves on that coffee table they'd moved earlier that night. A deaf boy playing near the railroad tracks won't hear the train.

Given the human condition, the remaining senses will compensate. This is true when reading a novel. A line of text will mention that the teenagers went to a house party -- we automatically imagine the cacophony of rampant teens yelling to be heard above a stereo cranked to the max. A different line of text mentions a group of teenagers going to a debutantes' ball -- our imagination shifts from chaos to refinement, lovely gowns and tuxedoed men, and elegant dances.

It depends upon the skill of the author of how well they can control their readers' perceptions. Going back to the house party, they could add the details of a section of manicured bushes recently replaced and growing to fill the space left void by the last house party drunkard who'd collapsed into them.

The debutantes' ball could tell us more about the people -- dandelion and daisy bouquets instead of roses, quilted tablecloths made from sundresses past, and water pitchers give us a drastically different picture than the one we originally had. We might now think instead that this is a low-budget imitation of a ball put on by a small town, or alternatively we might imagine not a debutantes' ball, but a church social or fundraiser meant to emulate the style.

These descriptions shape our imagination, or at least give direction. Think of what you could do with a well-placed onomatopoeia. You could go back to the house party and add the oppressive untz untz untz that beats arrhythmic to a person's heart and makes it too uncomfortable for them to stand anywhere near the speakers. Go add a tootle-to-to-to-tootle-tooo to the debutantes' ball, and that reed becomes enchanted, hinting that this is instead a party of the Fair Folk.

01 April, 2013

Camp NaNoWriMo

Well, I still have 3 chapters to complete of Uncertain Heirs, so I'm participating in Camp NaNo to finish those. I'm taking Neil Gaiman's and Joss Whedon's advice -- I'm finishing what I write.

And because I love you guys so much, I'm going to let you see a snippet of dialog. Just a snippet, of course. ;)

But I do want to wish everyone good luck, should they be undertaking the Camp NaNo challenge!


Ash Litton

Ash Litton is a writer and lover of sci-fi, fantasy, and all things fictional. She is the author of Thoroughbred, Evening Hallow, Comeuppance, and Cabover Cabaret, and works on other Appalachian Dream Tales between her ongoing novel projects. She's also written No Diet, No Surgery, No Sweat, an ebook chronicling her weight-loss journey.

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.