Sunday, June 24, 2012

YAY!!

Well...

I GOT THE JOB!

I'm soooo excited! I really don't think my exclamations points do enough! I am now the Quality Assurance Assistant for Oak Tree Counseling Services! I am beyond....well, excited! Guess what the determining factor was? The Lord of the Rings! How perfect is that? My new boss called up and said, "I was looking at your blog and saw your favorite book was The Lord of the Rings. That's my favorite book!"


Now comes the learning and the processing of a ton of new information, but I am very willing and ready to do this. For those of you who are curious, I'll explain what Oak Tree is about. 

Oak Tree is focused on mental health and rehabilitation. They are focused on family and the individual receiving care. They are also focused on the community and involvement. Basically, it's about providing service that goes beyond all bounds of the imagination, extending to all aspects of life, so that we can change lives.

I am very excited about this. For a very long time, my goal has been to help people. I think, as writers, we can all agree that we hope our books inspire and change others lives. Right now, I'm slowly making progress toward that goal, and in the meantime, not just me, but an entire company of sixty people, get to help people on a daily basis feel comforted, acknowledged and a little more carefree.

Isn't that great?


Also, a wonderful new blogger friend gave me the fabulous blog award!



Isn't it wonderful?

Suzanne Furness  has a wonderful blog (it's purple, and purple is her favorite color!). She writes children's stories, and her two current projects are called Arrosay a YA fantasy and Birthstone Unicorns (they sounds so wonderful!). Make sure you check out Suzanne's blog! She has a bit of everything (including some fabulous pieces of writing!).


Here are the rules: 1. Post the rules on your blog.2. Name five of your most fabulous moments, either in real life or in the blogosphere.3. Name five things you love.4. Name five things you hate.5. Pass the ribbon on to five other bloggers. (Leave them a comment to notify them of their win.)

Okay...Five FABULOUS MOMENT!

Becoming a Gates Millennium Scholar 

Going to Ireland!

Graduating with my B.A. in English Writing

Going to Machu Picchu!

My first career!
Five Things I Love: 

My books!

The Lord of the Rings

Coffee 

My Daddy 

My Aladdin


Five Things I Hate: 

Stand-by :/ 

60-hour work weeks!

Not working on my book

Smelly things

Not being able to sleep! :(


FIVE WONDERFUL BLOGS TO CHECK OUT....NOW!

Susan Francino

Trisha

Rachel Schieffelbein



Check out these amazing blogs! I hope to be around the blog sphere more like I was earlier in the year! I do miss keeping up with all my wonderful followers and finding amazing new people to connect with! 


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Truths of My Writing Life:



1). Well, life gets in the way of my writing life. 

Currently, I am working everyday (that's eight hour shifts everyday, except Friday, and that one is a twelve hour shift). Yes, it is exhausting, especially on the weekends and my brain just gives out. This makes me a slow writer and it makes me a sad writer. :/ But, Friday, I have an interview for another job (it's my second interview), I'm hoping if I get it, I can drop the two jobs I have and only work 40 hours a week. 

2). School messes with your writing...and sometimes not in a good way. 

School taught me to cut A TON of words. I mean, to the point where I sometimes feel like my descriptions are too sparse. Some, I think would agree and also disagree. In any case, I have been able to kind of train myself to write differently when it comes to my novels. It is easier now that it's Summer and I have a break. In August, I will go into my Masters program which is Library Science and Information Technology. I have one class and two online classes. I'm curious to see how they affect my writing (whether that be my actual writing ability or how much time I have to write). 

3). Well, I set goals. I don't accomplish them. 

If it's one thing I learned with writing, while I can focus on it better than anything else in my life, I CANNOT force it. If I set goals, it's like a deathwish. I just won't get anything accomplished. I had a goal set for 200 pages at the very end of May...(I don't set word count goals, except for the very end of my novel...anyway)...I didn't accomplish anything. I went to Peru, was in a different space, and it was as if my creativity was zapped! 

**Just as a disclaimer, I do set goals, they are just huge goals...like this:



I think we all experienced transitions in our life that kind of hinder our creative ability. First my was moving within my town, and the busy graduations season, then traveling, and now I'm at a good medium. However, I will HOPEFULLY be changing up jobs soon, and that MIGHT hinder my creativity again, but we'll have to see! I will say, one job is better than two! :) 


4). Word Counts...(explained)



So, sometimes I see that people can write maybe...5000 words everyday. I guess that's a goal or something. Well, I am now lucky if I get around 1000 or so because I pause after so long and look at my outline to figure out how to move things around, or maybe one of my characters surprised me and decided they wanted to take charge and reveal a secret when I didn't expect it. This sets me back a little because then I have to go back and rewrite so that my current chapter makes sense and can go in a good direction. I could look at this as progress, but I'm not so sure it is. I guess I'm writing, at least. lol.

5). I don't really like editing. 

Maybe I am lying, maybe I will enjoy this edit, but I can't tell. All I know is that I usually dislike it very much. I will turn in essays that I haven't edited just because I hate it that much. It used to be because I felt I wasn't good at it, now it's because I feel after so long, I don't really accomplish much just looking at the same thing over and over again because my eyes are too used to it. 

I will say, however, on this second edit, I've been very good about editing as I go. If something changes in chapter eighteen unexpectedly, I go and fix chapter eight so everything....uh..."flows" well. haha. 

There are some truths about my writing life. I know I haven't been as diligent of a blogger like I was earlier this year, and I APOLOGIZE so much!! Maybe now you kinda have an idea of my life, though. Blogging is almost a full-time job if you do it right, and I work 60 hours a week, so I'm a little exhausted on the full-time gig. haha. 

So, what is everyone else's writing life like? Do you set goals? Or do you just tackle scenes as they come? 






Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Interview: Zoe Harrington



The Introduction: 

Hi Zoe! I'm so glad you agreed to let me interview you! First, some general questions:

What is your favorite book? 

Oh Ashley, this is a toughie! I have a lot of favourites, so this requires a lot of thinking...
For a time it was the Harry Potter series (first books I ever read, btw!) Then it was The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, and then it was the Sookie Stackhouse (TrueBlood) novels. As you can tell, I like fantasy and paranormal.

Although I’d have to say that the one set of books I continue to read over and over is the Goddess of Partholon trilogy. If you haven’t read them, and you adore mythical creatures like centaurs, then you have to give them a whirl! If you don’t like mythical creatures, go read them anyway because the protagonist will rock your socks off. (If you’re wearing any...)

The ironic thing is, I got bored with the House of Night series by the same author – P.C Cast – and yet I love her trilogy.

A close second is the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy by Raine Thomas. They are similar books but also very different. J

I've been following your updates on your novelettes. Can you tell us anything about them? 

Hmm, they’re inspired by classic fairytales but each has a different twist. One has a fantasy theme, one a science fiction theme and the other a paranormal one. If you haven’t noticed already – there are three! ;-)

One is inspired by Rapunzel – currently going through rewrites – and the others are Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Each protagonist will have a completely different personality (I hope!)

You can actually read the draft blurb of the first one on the Writing Projects page of my blog. Although it will undergo some changes after the revisions, you’ll get a pretty good idea of what it will be like.


You write YA, is there any genre you prefer to stay in with YA? Like Fantasy? 

Fantasy.
I wouldn’t say ‘stay in’, more like it’s my favourite genre to read and write.

I actually wouldn’t mind experimenting with different genres later on (I’ve got my eye on historical in the future.) I know some industry experts tell you to stick to one genre: you don’t want to flood the market, your readers need consistency...yadayadayada! It doesn’t bother me, I like to bend the rules sometimes. Especially in writing! J

The Book Questions: 

Can you tell me about one of your favorite characters? 

My favourite characters to write are those with an interesting back story.
So, usually the bad guys.
Then again, I do enjoy trying to write a male character. For this reason, one of my favourite characters is one called Ewan Miller. He’s one of the MCs in my long standing project. He’s fun to write because although he fills the position of ‘hot guy’ , he isn’t stereotypical. Or perfect for that matter. Ewan is hot-headed, sometimes arrogant and always domineering. What a lot of people don’t know is that he’s loyal as a puppy once you earn his trust, thoughtful and quite the romantic.
Here’s a cheeky picture for you to gaze at:



I love writing scenes with him in or even from his POV because it opens up new opportunities.

What is your favorite color? And do we see this reflected in any of your characters (e.g. One of my favorite colors is purple, so I make sure my character wears a purple dress!). 

My favourite colour actually is purple!

I usually avoid reflecting my likes and dislikes in my characters; I try to make them their own person. Of course, sometimes the odd trait slips in but I either magnify it or throw something else in there too.

The only occasion I can think of is a particular character having an addiction to blue Smarties. My second favourite colour is blue and I like Smarties so it’s the two-birds-one-stone scenario.

Maybe one day I’ll reflect more of myself in a character but who knows?

Which Character is most like you (in appearance or mannerisms)? 

Right, this is a trickie one.

None of them are similar to me in appearance.

However, there are mannerisms in a few of the characters that they share with me. A girl called Alice who took my protag under her wing on the first day of school, my protag – Sera – who can be grumpy as hell and sometimes blunt; and one of the novelette characters who is level-headed and pensive.

That’s not me being big-headed, just what I see. And to be fair, who would intentionally call themselves grumpy? ;-)

The Writing Atmosphere: 

What's your writing space look like? Or where do you most like to write? Do you have a playlist you enjoy listening to while you write? 

Right, so I notice a lot of writers have playlists to go along with their books and I don’t have one. I really should get one though, I want to. It’s just that I don’t listen to music that often. I prefer nothing but the hum of my laptop when I’m writing. When I’m not writing, and I’m listening to some music, I do listen to songs and immediately feel it inspires a scene in my writing.

My writing space is usually sat alone in my room, on the bed either in comfortable clothes or pyjamas! It’s my domain, and my family don’t bother me in there (usually.) I can sense other people’s moods quite well and so the atmosphere of a room is key. If someone in the room is tense, or there are a lot of people, I don’t like the vibe.

Finally, what is your ultimate goal as a writer? What do you hope readers gain from your writing? 

I just want to share the crazy stuff I think of with people everywhere.
Seriously though, I love the feeling you get after you’ve read a great book and it’s all you can think about. You’ve fallen in love with the characters, the magic of the setting and the gripping story. I really do hope I can recreate that in my writing. Even if it takes fifty books or fifty years before I reach that level.
It would be awesome if someone used the word unputdownable, enthralling or anything equally amazing. Of course, I know there will be some hits. I know not everyone likes the same thing. I don’t have my head in the clouds - but I can dream right?
Thanks very much for this opportunity, Ashley. These questions were fun to answer and I really did enjoy answering them!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Back home and a writing update!




Hello everyone! I am back from a lovely vacation! I actually didn't write as much as I wanted, however, I did outline quite a bit so I am pleased with that. As I have said before, this is my COMPLETE rewrite. I have only edited and rewrote pieces of CUTLASS since I was a Freshman in High School (and we all know I just graduate college). This was a huge step for me and I cried bitter tears. BITTER. I almost destroyed everything I wrote on the other story. I got as far as piling it up on the floor. I also change my Facebook to saying I wasn't a writer anymore. I basically didn't want a part of anything involving my writing because I felt so defeated.

I am sharing this with you because this was the lowest I have ever felt about my writing. There have been times when I wasn't sure about my writing, but I kept on going and never seriously considered giving up, but this feeling was different. I was both broken and lost. It came at a time when I was graduating and realized I had a degree in English Writing that I didn't know what to do with because I obviously wasn't ready for publication. That was a very hard realization, and since it has been my ONLY goal for a career for about nine years, what was I going to do?

Then, I'm not sure what happened. I exchanged a few e-mails with the wonderful and amazing Barbara Kloss and I began thinking about everything in my book and the things I had wanted to change for a long time. Before, I didn't now how...before it wasn't possible because CUTLASS in its old phase was a book I had written when I was younger, when I had less education...I was a different person. I needed this rewrite because I needed to fall in love with my story and with my characters again.

I like to believe that everything happens for a reason. One day I was reading through blogs and came to Barbara's blog and she has just posted that if we would like to read her book Gaia's Secret, she would give us a code and we could get the book for free. I read the book in about a day or two...(I couldn't live a normal life until it was finished, actually). Then I tweeted and e-mailed her about how amazing it was. Without her, I'm not sure I would have rewritten my book.

I'm 150 pages in...my goal had been to be at 200, but being in Peru and getting used to another creative space takes some time, so I wasn't able to write like I wanted. I'm very excited about where my book is going...but things feel different. Before I was focused on the end result of my novel...the agents, the publication...now I'm focused on the novel. I haven't even thought about agents yet or the grueling process of writing that query letter (which I STRUGGLE with so much, and so often asked for critiques on my blog), but I don't dread it...I just want to be a great writer.

I hope all of you have people around you to encourage you and keep you going like I do. All of my bloggers, friends, and my boyfriend help me so much. I stay motivated even when I feel lost and sad. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What A Vacation!

I'm have been away for a while now, and I'm actually posting from Lima, Peru! I got back yesterday from our little trip to Cuzco, Peru to see Machu Picchu. I thought I'd share some amazing photos with everyone today because it's our lazy day. I come back to the states on Monday.

We stayed in Cuzco for five days in a small hostel. I have never stayed in a hostel before, so this was a cool experience...by cool I mean literally and figuratively. It was cold! We had no heat, but we did have thick blankets covering the beds so we stayed nice and warm.


This was the view from our window. 


The view from the hostel. 


When you go to Cuzco, you have to take a pill because the altitude will make you sick. They also give you Coca tea (there's candy and all sorts of things made out of this stuff. Also, it's illegal in the U.S. because you can make cocaine out of it...lol). The tea tastes a bit like leaves, but it's good!

The second day we went on a tour of all sorts of places around Cuzco:




Then Machu Picchu!





I would attempt to describe to you what I saw, but I was just in awe. You cross a bridge and walk down a path and the whole place is just revealed to you. It's absolutely stunning. Mountains are all around you, and in the morning it's all misty, by evening, the clouds touch the mountains. I've never been around so many mountains, even when I was in Ireland.

Okay! Well, when I get back to the U.S., I'll get back to updating you on my writing! I'm actually off to write this evening!

Love from Lima!

Ashley