Writing, Twisted Fairy Tales and the ER

When I had started my writer’s journey almost two years ago, my passion to put pen to paper and tell a story was merely an outlet for my muse.  I didn’t write with the intent to become a published author.  Does anyone?  Okay, that was a stupid question.  There are lots of writers out there whose main purpose is to become a published author.  Otherwise, why sacrifice so much − time with family, friends, our health, our insanity?

I admit I’m still new at the whole writing thing.  In my other life as a Registered Nurse, two years meant you were a novice, a baby.  Yet my first two years in the Emergency Department was baptism by fire.  Afterwards, I didn’t feel like a novice.  But ten years later, when I’d left, I felt like one.  The world of Emergency Nursing was rapidly changing and I was sinking, trying to learn the new technology and terminology.  Was it just me or did K-rider and Bair Hugger sound like characters’ names from a twisted fairy tale?

But I love to write.  I love learning the craft, and I love all the writers I’ve met, whether on internet loops or in my local chapters.  They are great people from various backgrounds who share the same goal − to be published.  With the shift in the publishing industry, more writers are finally getting their foot in the door.  The ways are various, from self-publishing to strictly digital publishers to traditional publishers who embrace digital and print. Right now, it’s a good time to be a writer.

Nursing is stressful.  Writing is too.  But being informed is the key to making it less so.  Learn the craft by reading and writing as much as possible.  Connect with others around you, writers and non-writers, for support, guidance and friendship.  Few people understand when you go on and on about the voices in your head, but another writer will nod and say, “Yeah, I totally get it.”

And never give up.  Rewrites are dreadful.  I’ve gone through several.  But in the end, my story is better for it.  And my characters appreciate my numb fingers and tears of frustration.  In the words of my favorite rapper, Eminem, “You only get I shot.”

Make yours count.

Critique Circle

   I have to admit my first experience with a critique group wasn’t the best.  But I walked away with a better understanding of what went wrong and what could’ve been done differently the next time around.  My second experience was slightly better.  Here’s why.  It was an internet group by invitation only.  The writer downloads a chapter of their work in progress into a folder created by a wonderful moderator.  Then the writer waits, or the writer critique another’s chapter and hope that writer returns the favor.  Following me still?  Or have I lost you?  I’m not a patient person.  I like instant gratification.  Doesn’t everyone?  That’s why when I saw this graphic on fotopia.com, I had to have it.  Why?  Because its beautiful, looks absolutely delicious (and I’m all for carbs, ask my friends), and purple is one of my favorite colors.

They say third times a charm, and it was when I found Critique Circle.  The site is easy to use (minus some technical issues) and I’ve had a chance to read some awesome stories of varying genres.  Being a romance reader and writer, that opened up a tiny bit more of the world to me.  And the writers are from all over the world.  How cool is the internet?  I’ve average 3-7 crits per chapter.  Sometimes it might be a week or two before my WIP gets into a queue for review, but I can be a little patient.  The site works on a point system.  The more you crit, the more points you collect, and the more of your chapters you can put out there for a return crit.  I love the forums, the tit-for-tat option so I know who I owe (and who owes me, wink, wink).  So if you don’t have too much time on your hands to attend a face to face critique group meeting, I highly recommend Critique Circle.  I can’t write this without a shout out to my fellow critiquers who have helped me with my WIP If Only:  Sugarfrost, Angelsking, and J.D. Wilson.  Ashes2Dreams will be here for you.

Romance Extravaganza

What do authors Julia Quinn, Stefanie Sloane, Amanda Quick (Jayne Ann Krentz), Meljean Brook, Alexis Morgan and Gerri Russell have in common besides sexy, beautiful covers and great stories?  The Romance Extravaganza at the Covington Library today, of course.  I had the opportunity to meet one of my favorite historical romance writers, Julia Quinn, and one of my mother-in-law’s favorite authors, Amanda Quick.  It was a great three hours of author panels followed by book purchases and signings.  I also had a chance to speak to one of my new favorite paranormal, urban fantasy and steampunk author, Meljean Brook.  She even remembered me from another book signing in Bellevue last year.  No, I’m not her stalker.  Her heroine in the book Demon Marked is named Ash.  At the Bellevue event, I asked her if Ash was short for Ashley or Ashlyn.  She wouldn’t tell me.  But it goes with her story.  Ash in Demon Marked has amnesia, lol.  I’m sure Meljean knows.  But it’s okay, I won’t bother you about it, Meljean.  Sometimes I want to tell people to call me Ash because I’m more of an Ashley than an Ashlyn to them (smiles).

Ashlyn

TheDigitalHook

I’m a visual person and I wanted an exciting website that would capture my sense of style and the “feel” of the books I’d be writing.  After looking at two fellow authors’ websites, I contacted TheDigitalHook.  James, lead designer, has been awesome to work with.  He was very responsive to what I wanted, quick to answer my questions, and reassuring when I was in a panic. (Domain name anyone?).  Believe me, I’m not very tech savvy at all.  He’s very straightforward on price, we went through various mockups, and I told him what colors I wanted.  He delivered on everything.  I absolutely love my website.  It’s edgy, dark, yet has a hopeful vibrance to it with its colors.  And he’ll stick with me for another 30 days to make sure things are okay, and hopefully to clean up my cyberspace mess if I make a mistake.  And for a small price, he’s willing to hold my hand for as long as I need him.  So far, I think I’m doing okay, but it’s nice to know he’s there.  Thanks James!  You’re the best and the raves keep on coming.

Ashlyn

Monday Business

Happy Monday!

Tomorrow is a new month, a new beginning, and I’ll be blogging about the various groups I belong to.  Tuesday’s will be dedicated to those groups, Thursdays will be excerpts from my finished work, Shadowatcher or from my works in progress (WIP), If Only and Off Limits.  Sabrina York will continue to be my showcased author for May.  In June it’ll be Darlene Panzera with her sweet, fun-loving romances.  She currently has a book out, Me and Mr. Claus, available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobles if you can’t wait to check her out.  I currently have Shadowatcher at various publishing houses and am waiting for responses from them.  If I hear anything, the news will definitely be tweeted and blogged.  Thank you, everyone.  Enjoy!

Ashlyn

Books and Friendship

Yes, I admit I subject my friends to my writing world – my characters, the craft of writing and my nuance to discreetly slip in a word about my writing during our conversations.  But since I’ve started to seriously write about a year and a half ago, my friends have been very supportive.  One particular friend has read all three or four versions of my current Shadowatcher, from very rough draft full of the f-bomb, to the final product.  And though I blushed when we talked about the love scenes in the book, she said the love scenes were classy.  What a compliment!

Writing is a solitary endeavor.  It’s nice to have friends who make you laugh, who tell you honestly that your hero is a jerk (he’s now to die for in the rewrite), or who scratches her head with you at all those acronyms when we ventured into Eroticas.

I’ve found that the books we read, suggest to one another, and talk about bring us together as friends.  I can’t hide or tone down that part of myself, the writer.  Just like I can’t silence the muse when it takes over my sleep-deprived brain at three in the morning.  Yet, there is a limit, and I hope my friends love and know me well enough to say “shut the hell up” (much nicer words, please) when they’re tired of hearing about the writer in me.

My friends are a part of who I am so I hope they’re not offended when they show up on my blog.  Of course, to protect the identity of the innocent and the occasional guilty party, no names or identifying characteristics such as moles, birthmarks or hair color will be mentioned.  Thanks guys for being there for me!

Ashlyn