Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Month: October 2016

Nano 2016

As has become my annual habit, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month again this year. It starts tomorrow, and I’ve been looking forward to it for the past few months. My aim is to hit substantially over 50,000 words. By at least ten thousand. Hopefully, I’ll my wordage will come out somewhere between seventy and eighty thousand.

Normally, I spend all of October preparing a project or more. Since 2012, I’ve leapt into the month before November with excitement and enthusiasm for some project or another, and I manage to prep something to an acceptable level for myself. And I run like this the entire month of October—until the last 3-1 days of it, when my creative mind suddenly switches gears and throws me into a totally different project.

This year, I resisted that urge. This does not mean I had a project I wanted to work on for November in mind. I did. My new Science Fiction idea, Boost. I’ve gotten character bios, worldbuilding notes, plot points, and various notes for the story and universe thus far. But I resisted setting it up as my Nano project because I fully expected my creative mind to decide on something else. I intended to stick with that decision until the end of the month.

Well, a few days ago, I finally set up Boost as my Nano project. I couldn’t resist it any more. But I refused to get excited about it. I figured, the less enthusiasm I expressed, the less likely it would be for my creative mind (read: Bipolar) would be to jerk me into something else. It’s now Nano Eve Day (the wee hours anyway, as I write this), and I’m still quite firmly on Boost as my main wip. I’m hoping—again, without much enthusiasm—this will remain the case the rest of the day and all through November. Yes, I’m afraid of jinxing this. I think I’ve never been as superstitious as I’ve been all this past month, and I don’t expect it to end until November starts and I’m either on Boost still, or on something else.

But, in the spirit of the event, I’ll give you links to my Nano pages with the pertinent info (all subject to change):

First: The Stats Page for Boost

Second: The Synopsis

Independent Investigations I: Boost

Independent Investigator for the Haefen Planetary Police Mat Kelly goes with xyr gut in choosing to investigate the death of the prime suspect in a criminal case. Virgil Coleman died of a toxic potion, and Mat feels absolutely certain someone close to him did the deed.

At first look, Virgil seems to be a deplorable person. The detectives who investigated him as a criminal believed he cheated on his wife and participated in a crime ring involving a new series of drugs, called Boost, that bestow a variety of temporary powers upon their users. Having pegged Virgil as a Recruiter, the detectives did their best to prove his guilt, but failed to. And, in the process of their investigation, angered and upset nearly everyone they questioned.

Mat steps into a difficult case and discovers few wish to cooperate with xem, despite professions of their desires to know who committed Virgil’s murder and see that person brought to trial. Even after the suspects begin to respond to xyr patient and careful questioning, the clues fail to help Mat determine who murdered Virgil.

So, in desperation, Mat does the one thing xe thought inconceivable . . .

Third: The Excerpt:

Because, no matter what else, Mat could not believe anyone would imbibe that particular toxic mix in an effort to commit suicide.

In addition to that consideration, Virgil had gone to get groceries. In Mat’s experience, people who were committing suicide wouldn’t take a toxic potion then blithely go grocery shopping. No, they’d sit at home and wait for their guts to dissolve. They did not behave as though life were normal. Suicidal people didn’t plan for the future, and there were few activities that more strongly indicated someone doing so than shopping for food. Why go buy food you weren’t going to eat? Sure, he had a family, according to the detectives’ investigation into Virgil’s apparently nonexistent criminal life, but even so—if Virgil had been suicidal, he’d far more likely have taken himself either off to some secluded location if he didn’t want to be discovered, or if he wanted his body found by someone in his family—perhaps in some misguided hope of punishing them—he’d have stayed at home to die.

So, he’d been murdered. By someone angry about the infidelity? Perhaps, though Mat wasn’t willing to decide yet. According to the detectives’ file, Virgil had a wife, a boss, a brother, a lover, and there was at least one displeased parent bent on seeing Virgil’s conviction, if not utter ruination, for his presumed role in the death of her daughter. Any one of them could have done this.

Mat called up the map of the area around the scene of Virgil’s death. His home was within twenty minutes of the store, even if he were in a ground hover and had to stop at every single intersection. Virgil’s boss was out of the way by a good fifteen minutes, but that didn’t mean his boss hadn’t visited him and somehow doctored his beverage, though why Virgil’s boss would want to kill him was a bit of a mystery in itself at present—maybe Virgil’s boss had a role in this possible Recruiting scheme and wanted to get rid of Virgil because he knew something? Perhaps. The bereaved parent who’d been after Virgil lived right down the block—no more than a five minute walk away. The lover and brother were out of the way by about thirty minutes for the former and twenty-five for the latter, but, again, either could have visited and somehow fixed Virgil’s tea to their desires. And then there was Virgil’s very own wife. Right there in the house with him, she had an excellent motive in his infidelity, and more than ample opportunity. But possibly too simple, too easy, too straightforward. Though not out of the realm of possibility, not enough reason to focus on her exclusively just yet.

So, five suspects. A tougher job than xe had anticipated, but not impossible to solve.

Science Fiction

There’s a reason why I don’t actively try to pursue very many Science Fiction ideas. I’m not a very science-oriented person, and I feel inadequate to the job of creating a believable SF universe without it. Back in the early 1990’s, I wrote more SF stuff. This was before I had regular access to the internet. I soaked up just as many SF stories of all kinds as I did Fantasy novels and stories. I was much more confident in my SF skills, focusing on characters and plot instead of the science—definitely a “soft” SF writer at the time.

Since, I’ve not developed very much interest in science. I follow a notable scientist or few on Twitter, several astronauts, NASA, and I read various articles about science. But nothing really in-depth or detailed. Nothing like research—not the focused kind anyway. I don’t do it for my Fantasy stuff, so why would I do it for SF? As a result, the closest thing to SF I’ve had is Chraest, which is descendants of humans who landed on a planet already occupied by a native intelligence, with magic. Chraest is and always has been as much Fantasy as it is SF.

So it’s rather startling to me to be developing a more SF-focused idea. It started with a prompt on FM’s prompt board. Basically, imagine a drug that gives you the ability to see the future accurately—but it is highly addictive and has debilitating side effects. Would you take this drug? Explore in the point of view of a character of your own.

Original conception of the idea this prompt sparked could have been almost any speculative genre. Almost any kind of Fantasy, or Science Fiction. I may use a variation of it for Fantasy, but this idea became specifically SF. I saw, in my head, planet-hopper ships, companies and organizations recruiting users of this drug, and contemplated the possibility of this drug being based upon some as-yet-undiscovered Element, so I looked up the Periodic Table of Elements and started worldbuilding.

I now have vague notions for a Recruiter character, and a solid concept for a sleuth. I’ve named this SF universe and created a Scrivener file for it. My confidence in pulling off SF isn’t any greater, and it’s complicated by some plans I have for both characters, but I’m determined to see this through. For one, I know little of drug addiction and recovery, and that’s going to be absolutely necessary for me to research.

But I do know I look forward to writing these books. My first SF idea in over 20 years. It’s going to be an adventure.

Inktober 2016: Things Around the House

I’m teaching myself how to draw. My primary lesson course is a text-and-workbook set called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. It’s a course developed to help those who feel not-so-artistically-inclined develop real working artistic skills, focusing on drawing. I’ve completed a number of exercises, but hit a stall due to lack of a certain item I haven’t yet purchased.

In the meantime, I’ve been doing a lot of sketching of things related to my writing. Mostly garment concepts. Some I’ve colored. I’ve drawn one portrait of a character, and a few other items. Odds and ends around the house. But, even with all this, my drawing habit is far from a daily practice.

So, when I started seeing stuff about Inktober on Twitter, I at first brushed it off, but about 3 days before October began, I started to seriously consider participating. In case you’re unaware, Inktober is an art challenge event that takes place over the course of October. Each day of the month, the artist is supposed to create an artwork using ink of some sort. Now this can be anything from painted inks to your standard pens, even markers.

My primary purpose in participating is to try and develop a daily habit with my artwork. Secondary purpose is to challenge myself to find something to draw every day, even if I’m not feeling creative or inspired, or if I happen to be in some sort of creative downswing. After all, I didn’t develop my writing habit and skill by slacking off as much as I have been with the artwork. To be honest, I’ve been half-consciously using the fact I don’t have what I need for the DotRSotB course to slough off developing any sort of habit with my art. And I know better than to do that. Hence, joining in Inktober.

I won’t be posting my artwork on my website; I’d rather use the limited amount of media space available for my website on other images. However, I do have a DeviantArt account, and that’s where I’ll be posting my efforts. The first three drawings (from 1st-3rd) are already up. There’s a link to my DA homepage on the sidebar to the right, beneath the calendar; the link is red, and all by its lonesome ahead of my list of other links. If you scroll down to the “Newest Deviations” box (it’s second box down on the left) and click “Browse Gallery,” which is at the left bottom corner, you’ll be able to find folders of my various works, including an “Inktober” folder. The list is on the left, and you’ll have to scroll down to find my “Inktober” file, but it’s where I’m putting all my Inktober artwork.

Please stop by and leave a comment or two on my art!

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