27 December, 2014

Merry Christmas, Happy Yuletide, and Happy New Year!

Ugh, so what a way to go through the holidays with the flu. It really knocked me for a loop this time around, and I've been spending most of my days sleeping it off because, hey, sleep means I'm not awake to suffer the coughing fits.

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

It's the bus-busiest season of all...!

Whew, what a month! Yule is here and Christmas is almost upon us, and I have been a busy, busy beaver, working to get gifts ready, cards out, and novels written. Oh, and one wedding flawlessly off the ground -- so happy to have been a part of my friends' wedding. Renaissance and NERF guns, you can never go wrong. ;)

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

Knocked it outta the ballpark

Whew! I'm back to my regular Saturday updates now, and I'm excited to say that not only did I win NaNoWriMo this year, but I finished Book 1 (Whiteout) of the Queen of Seasons quintet at 70,000+ words AND got another 30,000+ words for Book 2 (Updraft) for over 100,000 words!

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 check in

I'm a day late, but hopefully not a dollar short.

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

NaNoWriMo 2014

Okay, folks. Tomorrow's the big day. 

It's the kick off for NaNoWriMo 2014, and just like last year, I'll be fundraising for the National Novel Writing Month (formally the Office of Letters and Light -- that's the folks that run this little shindig). 

Any and all donations are great. Spare $1, $5, $10, or however much you want! Your donation go to fund youth reading programs and help foster a love of writing.Please consider donating today (or any day in November) as I write towards my goal of 50,000 words. 

Last year I sat my goals low, and you all surpassed my expectations.This year, I'm aiming for $500! So let's make sure NaNoWriMo continues to be supported.
Now, what does this mean for my updates, you may ask. Because of how involved NaNoWriMo is, and because of my real life commitments, I will only be able to do limited updates this month. I'm shooting for the halfway mark (November 15), then again at the end of the month.
So I'll see you then :)


25 October, 2014

Adopt a marine

On top of having all these short stories that I'm doing, my family and I decided to try something new this year. We've "adopted" a marine in a family friend's unit, and will be sending him food, toiletries, and letters starting this month. My mother's been wanting to do this for awhile, so we all jumped in to volunteer when she asked. We even extended the idea out to family and friends, and now have that friend's entire unit covered.

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

When a plan comes together

I'm glad to say that the focus this past month has paid off. Not only do I have two short stories out for critiquing, but I've laid the foundation for a set of follow up short stories. I've even started working on them while I wait for my other stories to return.

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

Nearly there

Something about this time of year, with the changing, cooling weather, the abundant storms, and dreary days makes shotgunning Welcome to Night Vale's podcasts more enjoyable. Late night travels by car make them creepier.

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

Been busy

It's been three weeks since I last checked in, and it's because I've been busy working on a new short story for you. I'm into the third draft of Lightning Strikes 1,200 Times, and I hope to have it finished and up for sale soon.

Gotta get back to work on it now, but I'll keep you folks posted. :)

13 September, 2014

Sick, sluggish

I hate being sick.

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

Be back later (aka delays)

There's a local used book sale going on today. Excuse me while I feed my addiction.


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

Revisions, revisions, revisions

Whew, August just blew by. Where on earth did it go?

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

Thoroughbred free day

Now's your chance, if you haven't already, to get a FREE copy of Thoroughbred over at Amazon.com. It'll be free all of today, so check it out, try it out, and maybe leave a review if it's something you enjoyed -- or didn't enjoy. I want honest feedback, so I won't discourage lone-star reviews if it didn't tickle your fancy.

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!

Enjoy :)

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.

09 August, 2014

Hammering out the details

Howdy, folks! I know my posting habits have been erratic as of late, so I'm going to start keeping a Saturday schedule. This might be a little easier for us all, and this way I can compound my thoughts and progress reports for you in one update.
This past week, I've been tying up the ending on The Cardinal's Direction. It's been a bit of a pain, I'll be honest, for all the story I dreamed up, I had to Y-plot to fall between X- and Z-plots. Yeah, I've got my ending, but you can't end a story without tying up the loose threads.
I don't know about you folks, but I hate a story that has too many dangling plot lines. So I try not to do that, and I try to keep everything as solid as I can. Tis why I edit, re-edit, then edit again, and edit once more for good measure.
While working on The Cardinal's Direction, I've been conceptualizing the characters in my story. Below, I've been working out what the nightmares look like so I can better describe them in-story when I go through and begin my editing process. As you can see, I've gotten them pretty well worked out, aside from their feetsies. Boy, those claws are hard to translate to paper what I'm seeing in my head. Eventually, I'll get it, and hey, you've got some official art from me of the nightmares.
Once I finish up work on the initial draft, The Cardinal's Direction is going to join the rotation of stories I have in edits. Of course, I'll keep you posted on the progress of the others.


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

August already

A brief update on my many, many things in rotation:

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!

14 July, 2014

More projects and agent updates

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

Being brave

Coraline can teach us a lot about being brave. Even though we're scared to do something because it's new, intimidating, or because we have a lack of confidence in ourselves, we can always overcome the odds by being brave. We go after the things we want, we accept the challenge life's presented us, and we do these things because we want to make ourselves or our circumstances better. We can fail however many times it takes us to succeed, and so long as we overcome the challenge, the adventure, and our rising to the occasion, was worth all the gold and more in the world.

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

Looks promising

I'm only just starting agent queries, and I got a "Maybe, Please send more - No" within my first five agents. That's highly promising! I only hope that somewhere down the line Uncertain Heirs will connect with an agent who'll give it the chance to fly.

Wish us luck :)

12 June, 2014

Oh and two

Two rejections came back -- form letters, of course, but that's better than no response. Frankly, I'm giddy with delight -- two rejections is par for the course, normal for everyone. 400+ rejections is considered normal, so at least I'm on the right track. I'll keep you all posted as to how that goes.

08 June, 2014

One giant leap

Last night: I finished the fourth draft of Uncertain Heirs.

This morning: I queried my first round of agents.

Right now:

31 May, 2014

Another hurdle passed

What an incredible feeling! I've just completed edits on Chapter 9, and that only leaves three more to tweak before I can start sending out agent queries. Truly, this is the turning point in my progress that I've been waiting for, and I know you folks have been waiting for it, too. I can't wait to share with you the next leg of my journey, and I hope you'll continue with me.

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

Dividing attention

I've had this thought lately: "How do I focus with two projects vying for attention?"

Uncertain Heirs is my priority, there's no doubting that, but in the last few months I've gained clarity on a story I started four years ago. A story that, while originally one tale, has expanded itself into four, possibly five novels. So with that clarity came the whispers "write me, write me" while I'm trying to stay on task with Uncertain Heirs.

I'm not sure what to call it yet, but this once-abandoned story keeps poking and proding me at odd hours of the day, showing me where it's meant to go, filling in the plotholes I couldn't get around the first time. It is, for all intents and purposes, finished in that I know what happens now, where it goes, and what I need to write. The problem is making time to write it.

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

Starting strong, ending strong

What was the last book you struggled to read? Do you remember what it was about the book that made it difficult? Did you give up reading it, or power through until the end?

These are questions I fret over when I'm starting what I think will be a good book, only to find out it's a disappointment. These are questions I worry will come about with my book.

11 May, 2014

A wonderful happenstance (A Most Majelicus Review)

I left this review on Amazon, but I thought I would also post it here for my readers to check out.

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

Polishing for presentation

Ugh. There's nothing sadder than editing the fourth draft and finding a glaring mistake.

As it turns out, I'm either too unobservant, or my eyes are just tired of checking my own work, for I found an instance where I wrote the wrong word every single time. This is as bad as my lead ≠ led discovery. I'll tell you what it is, too. I wrote altar once, and then alter every time after that.

Silly, I know, but had I stopped at the third draft and sent my manuscript out to agents, I'd have been laughed at if they'd made it as far as Chapter 3. On the upside, the problem is fixed, and future chapters have been corrected, too. Hopefully, I won't find any other mistakes like that. Hopefully.

On the flip side of things, I've been composing a list of positively rated agents to submit to, and if all goes well, I should be submitting to the first come June or July. This'll be the biggest step I've taken to date, and I hope you'll all continue to the journey with me.

14 April, 2014

Changes a-comin'

You may've noticed some changes over the last couple o' weeks. A bit of spring cleaning, some layout changes, and even-- *points up* --a new domain name!

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

Synopsis shuffle

With all the work on short stories and such that I've been doing as of late, I bet you thought I'd neglected UNCERTAIN HEIRS. ^_~

The truth is, I've been focused on the fourth draft and preparing the synopsis. I want to begin querying agents, but I can't do that yet without perfecting this beast. And it's everything people make it out to be -- the synopsis is, I think, the most important selling point for any agent. All the websites I've read agree on that, but they all have their own approach. So, for now at least, I'm going to follow their example and take my own approach by writing my summary out as if I were talking to a bunch of friends, trying to get them interested in reading my work.

I've done three versions so far. Each time, I rewrite the next synopsis without referencing the ones that came before, looking for the key plot points, verbiage, etc. that reoccur. There'll probably be at least ten separate versions by the time I'm done with it.

And ten's a smart way to average out what I need and what I don't -- but I'll let you know in a few weeks how that works out.

Until then, enjoy the copy of Thoroughbred that I have up for sale over at Amazon.

See ya, space cowboy!

05 March, 2014

Is romance ever simple?

At least as a writing genre, I don't think it should be. I'm envious of the writers who can sit down and write out a short story romance where the characters get together without issue. Me, on the other hand, I have this penchant for turning a simple romance into a complex tale, usually involving characters from different walks of life. I suppose that's bound to happen when your preferred genre is paranormal. ^_~

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

Salvaging an old story

I found a short story on my computer I'd started a few years ago. Though it was going nowhere, I thought I might try to salvage it. Instead of letting it remain untouched and unfinished, I'm working up ideas on how to get it back on track. If I can't, I can't, but I'm confident I can.

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

Projects abound

A writer's work is never done, it's true, because just as soon as we finish one thing, we're off to start another. Right now, for instance, I've got Uncertain Heirs out with friends and while I'm waiting on feedback, I'm pursuing some of my projects I started during NaNoWriMo 2013.

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.
Enjoy! :)

17 February, 2014

Thoroughbred is now available for Kindle download!

Greetings readers!

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

Minutes to midnight, or, How I got through my fourth draft and made the leap toward querying agents

There's a cocktail of anxiety that's one part excitement, one part worry, and two parts "Remain calm, it'll be fine". It all comes from realizing that you're steps away from starting the query process. I've made changes to Chapter 1 (4th draft!) and I've got my query letter started. It's only a matter of time now before I can take the big step in the writing process. I'm completely prepared to not hear anything from the first (four-hundred) agents I query, because that's the nature of the business, but I've got my fingers crossed that I'll find somewhere to fit in.

Wish me luck :)

09 February, 2014

Marching forward

The third draft of Uncertain Heirs is officially done!

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

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.


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?


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.