Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Author: Ashe Elton Parker (page 1 of 42)

Two Weeks

Sorry I missed last week’s update. It was just not a good weekend for me all around, writing-wise. The fact is, the whole week was a did for writing. I think I wrote 2 days and then spent the rest crocheting with Forensic Files playing. After that, I didn’t feel like doing writing stuff or admitting that I hadn’t written most of the week. It was, I think, a combination of depression and plain and simple need to do something else for a while. And, anyway, I’ve had a week where I wrote little or not at all each month since starting my Fool’s Errand endeavor.

But this week, I’ve written a bunch. Well, within the parameters of my Fool’s Errand. Most days the past week, I wrote between 300-400 words. Did over 500 today ’cause I wanted to complete a thought. Right now, I feel like it’s pathetic, bad writing, but I’m leaving it there. I know better than to kill words right when I first have such negative thoughts. Need to sleep on it a bit.

Also this week, I’ve completed a chapter of Unwritten Letters and written another plot card on it. That was a bit challenging for me. Debated things for it most of yesterday before buckling down and doing enough research to determine just what the Édalain Empire uses as an insignia for their courts of law. Learned in the process that they don’t have jury trials like we do. Édalain trials involve panels of nine judges—three Mages, three Holy Ones, and three members of civilian society who usually receive some sort of training related directly to whatever cases they’ll be making decisions on. For instance, the civilian members of the Board of Grievances, which is what the particular court of law Merolén faced is called, are all landholders—lord or lady holders—who have been trained in the law regarding every aspect of their social station and those they have authority over; if a farmer from such a landholder’s property wished to do so, they too could undergo the same training and sit on the Board of Grievances. There are no restrictions regarding status beyond having some basic knowledge of how such aspects of society are supposed to function before applying for the training to make judgements on it. For his own case, Merolén was able to represent himself when he presented the information he’d collected to the Board, but there are other situations wherein he would have been better advised to hire a lawyer.

My apologies for the digression. But the fact is, worldbuilding never really stops for me.

So that’s where things stand with my Fool’s Errand on this fine Saturday night. I’ll do my best to write future updates whether or not I feel ashamed of my progress—or lack thereof—in future.

Soulsucker

So I’ve been spending a lot of time working on a NewShiny. Not like writing-working, but background stuff. I’ve worked up a character list, am in the middle of reworking my initial deity stuff for the culture the MC’s a part of, and have lots of notes for book 1, and just enough notes to give me an idea of what books 2 and 3 are going to be about. At this point, NewShiny is set at a trilogy, but I’m not excluding the possibility of more books developing.

I’m not going to go too much into the first book’s plot. What I will say, though, is that the premise behind it was inspired by my friend Lazette Gifford’s book. I think I posted its cover here on my site a few weeks ago when I first started reading it. Raventower and Merriweather 1: Secrets, a secondary-world steampunk. I spent most of the past weekend from Friday just tearing through that book, mainly because I desperately wanted to read the NewShiny Zette’s book inspired and there’s nothing except notes, background work, and, at the time, only one plot card on it, so Zette’s book was the only thing that would suffice. LOL

Premise of Zette’s book is that Lord Raventower possesses an odd gift for attracting the souls of the recently-dead, which he can then inject into his clockwork creations. Some of these souls remain in those devices, but sometimes the soul goes on to its proper rest. He does not seek these souls out; they go to him on their own. The story is a mystery set against the opening of a war with a neighboring country with whom Raventower’s country has an uneasy peace.

Zette’s book got me to ask, “What if the person who attracted such souls to themself was a female who after some struggle actually sort of embraced her soul-sucking ability?” And thus Leopolda was born. She starts off by accidentally—but justifiably (in my opinion)—killing a family member. My story, like Zette’s, is a secondary world steampunk, but it’s more character driven and I think it’s going to be a bit politcially intriguey as well as I develop the other two stories. I have a feeling that at least book 3 has potential to become a bit of a massive tome, and that there may be adventures for Leopolda beyond it. But I’m quite satisfied with the books I have in mind now.

Oh, and what’s really amazing about this whole setup, is that Leopolda’s book 1 is the first book 1 I’ve ever had a very clear idea of the ending of upon conception. Typically, I have a vague notion of what the ending of book 1 may be, but no clear, definite idea of it until I’m either almost done with the book or have written past its natural ending. I’m really happy my creative mind presented me with a definitive ending for Leopolda’s book 1.

Working title for the series is “Soulsucker,” which I desperately want to change to something a bit less obvious.

A Rough End to the Week

This week started out well, but it had a rocky end. On Thursday and Friday, I did no writing on Unwritten Letters. In fact, I did almost nothing at all on Friday. That day was particularly bad. I awoke depressed and just stayed in bed until after 14:00, getting up only long enough for kitty care around noon before heading back to bed. Yeah. So, Friday was a complete bust.

I should perhaps clarify. While I did do some writing work Thursday, and I did actually get a number of tasks done from my list, I didn’t work on UL at all. Still, it was a productive day. I just wish I’d gotten UL stuff done.

On Sunday, I finished Scene 83 on UL and on Monday I got the next plot card for it—for Scene 85. The days I did write on UL have gone well, which is good, including tonight. I would like to have gotten another day of UL in this week, but I’m still pretty pleased with what I did get.

I’m trying to decide just which project to work on after I’m done UL because I’m creeping toward the end. There are maybe 6 notes left in Scapple for this ending sequence, and I haven’t been making any more adjustments to them the past few times I’ve opened the file. While that’s a good thing, it also indicates that what I’ve got is The Official End of UL. As much as I’m looking forward to that, I also don’t want it to end if I haven’t decided what to work on after UL, but I guess I can’t have everything. It may be that I’ll need to take a week or two to decide when I don’t have anything on my plate.

So that’s where my Fool’s Errand stands this week!

Up in the Air

This week was a bit challenging. Even on the days when I got a substantial amount of tasks done, and there were one or two such days, it was a struggle. And then there was Wednesday. I got absolutely nothing done that day, because I slept pretty much the entire day. Really. I didn’t get to bed until around 07:00 Wednesday morning. Because of that, I barely made it out of bed long enough to do my daily kitty care tasks at 13:00 before dropping into bed again to sleep a couple more hours. Then, at 15:00, I got up long enough to take my prebreakfast meds, called my mom while waiting for those to do their job, ate, and hung up the phone just before lying down on the sofa for another 2 hours of sleep. Oh, and I don’t know if Mom noticed it, but I was having trouble enunciating during that call, which is a clear sign I need more sleep. Then, I got up for long enough to shut down my computer and went back to bed for more sleep. Yeah, that was a dud day.

But I got five days of 250 words on Unwritten Letters. All five days are on the same one scene, and I stopped it today at a spot where the scene seems done. I may add a few words or so to tie it up neatly, but I think this is one of those scenes that won’t follow the entirety of the plot card. That’s another flexibility thing, and something I’ve always been okay with. Sometimes my creative mind gives me more to plot for a scene than I actually use, or slightly different information as a guide. I’ll look at it tomorrow or Monday and figure things out then.

My next project is still up in the air. I opened up Wevae’s Scrivener file, but have done absolutely nothing with it today. Really, I think my creative mind is backbrWeaining MOTS1 right now. Though I’d like to dig into it again and read through the scenes I’m keeping for ideas on what else to include, I feel an aversion to doing so. Sometimes this means I’m procrastinating and I just need to force myself to do what I want, but not always. Other times, it means things are developing in my subconscious. Unfortunately, I’m not always able to determine just which cause is the root of my aversion. In this instance, I’m disinclined to force the issue right now. But if I open Wevae’s file over the next couple of days, I’ll be giving MOTS1 a good hard look again. If my creative mind urges me to open a different file, well, things can still be considered quite undecided.

One thing, I am thinking about DH04 again. In a somewhat offhand manner—fleeting unfocused considerations. More along the lines of, “I’d like to get back to that project.” This is even less definite than my urge to open Wevae’s file. Since I open Chraest’s file daily to access UL, I’ll probably take a look at DH04 again sometime this next week, just to see if something kicks up in my backbrain. I think I may have an idea for its title, though. Just need to comb through the music terminology page on Wikipedia to figure it out, and that I’m dreading a little.

So that’s where my Fool’s Errand stands this fine Saturday evening.

Thanksgiving 2018

The table at Ross and Justin’s home for Thanksgiving 2018.

This Thanksgiving was unexpectedly enjoyable. Normally, I just hang out at home and fiddle around online and such, chatting with those who happen to find any time to come to chat during this holiday. Since most of the people I know online are in the US, that isn’t very many people once the food is all cooked. As a result, Thanksgiving is typically pretty boring for me as well.

But today was different. Around 13:30 or so, one of my friends who I met through square dancing—and the DM of Sunday’s D&D, Lynn—called me to ask if I had any plans for the day. My response was pretty much, “Just work on my writing.” Then he asked if I’d like to go with him to Ross’s for Thanksgiving supper. Of course I leapt at the opportunity. I mean, sit at home without friends, or go over to see some friends and have good food? No-brainer, right?

So, at about 16:30, Lynn came to fetch me and we went to Ross and Justin’s home. We arrived a good hour or so before supper was scheduled to begin, but that was fine. We hung out in the kitchen chatting and joking, me and my square dancing friends and others whom I’d met maybe once or twice through square dancing, but who were good people.

Ross had set up two tables—their long dining table with all its extension leaves in; and the smaller table, also with its extension leaf, that usually stands out in their library room. That made a total of something like 14 places, and we filled them all. Eleven at us at the long table, and the three late arrivals at the smaller tables.

Because I’d spent most of the previous hour munching tortilla chips with this fantastic sausage and cream cheese dip (there were other ingredients, but I can’t recall what they were) while we chatted and all, I didn’t eat that much of supper. There was tons of food from everyone who’d seen the invite on Facebook, and Ross and Justin made a turkey and pans of two different kinds of dressing as well as ham and cranberry relish. I stuck to the turkey, getting some dark meat (which I have’t had from a turkey for years); cranberry relish, also made with I think oranges and apples; and some dressing from the mushroom-free pan. Also, I made sure to stick to servings I thought I’d be able to eat, and didn’t let my eyes trick me into getting all I thought I wanted. Neither did I get seconds. And, afterward, I had one slice of the mincemeat pie Lynn had made.

I am so glad and thankful I have such good friends that even those I don’t know well welcome me so happily. Lynn could have just gone instead of calling me when his brother bowed out of going, and I’m thankful he thought of me. I’m glad I got to talk and joke with friends I see so rarely—Justin, Rob, Mandi, and Lizz—and I’m thankful for such delicious snacks and a wonderful meal with foods I don’t often get to enjoy. This Thanksgiving couldn’t have been better.

Flexibility is a Necessity

Well, I pretty much crashed and burned this week, in terms of writing. I wrote only two days, though I did get a plot card on another day. This looks like it’s becoming a trend, and I’m now reconsidering what to do to work with/around this issue. One idea is to take a two-week break every three or four months. Another idea I’m entertaining is taking the last week of every month off of writing. Yes, yes, I know that if I want to develop a good habit with my writing, I should write as often as possible, but it won’t do me any good if every streak is interrupted by an unplanned hiatus. I’m trying to bring discipline back into my writing habit, and letting myself continue this pattern is not disciplined. Moreover, it harks back to my previous difficulties, including not writing for sometimes weeks on end.

Above all, I want to be flexible with my writing goals. Trying to stick to firm goals was how I screwed myself over before. My goal was to write one full scene a day, seven days a week. Unfortunately, if I happened to miss a day for whatever reason, I simply didn’t get back to it the next day. So for a few days, a couple weeks, a month or two, I’d simply not write unless I felt inspired, and that’s not the way to build a good writing habit. Even I knew that, which was why I started up this Fool’s Errand.

So now I need to do some thinking and make some decisions about my fiction writing habit. I’ve pretty much proven to myself that I can be disciplined and consistent with my 250 words five days a week writing goal, and I think I can maintain that consistency even if I take regular, I’ll call them extended breaks. A part of me wants to give the two-week break every three or four months a try first, but given my experiences the past couple of months—dropping things the second week of my new habit, and then again in the middle of this month—I’m reluctantly thinking it may be best if I plan for a week off every month. Alternatively, I could assign a week’s break every five weeks—five weeks of writing with the sixth week a break, but I kind of don’t want to do that.

My plan for these breaks is to make them full breaks from active writing and plotting on my main project. I’ll take notes on the project, but I won’t do plot cards or write my word goal. That seems best as that’s what I’ve already been doing for the most part anyway. Honestly, I just haven’t felt motivated, and I forced the words and that plot card on the days I wrote them all. Mostly because I “should,” and I think that’s what’s getting in my way. Instead of going with the flow, or being willing to plan regular extended breaks like this, I instead beat my head against the metaphorical wall and push myself to do something I don’t really want to do, and end up making myself miserable.

Because, you know what? I really didn’t enjoy writing those words or that plot card this past week. Also, I didn’t look forward to writing. No excitement thrilled through me when I finished getting my words for the day, and I didn’t particularly want to continue writing. For perspective, pretty much every other day I’ve written this month—the two previous weeks, and in fact since I dropped it that week in October—I’ve really, really wanted to continue writing and made myself stop because I didn’t want to burn myself out on it, even though writing had been great fun.

So I think taking a regular extended break like this is a good idea. An important thing to do. Moreover, I believe it’s something I should do my best to consciously plan for, so I’m not blindsided by another unexpected hiatus. When I let that happen, I try to force the writing, which is not fun. If writing can’t be fun for me, why should I bother continue doing it? So I’m going to do my best to work with it by actively and consciously putting it in my schedule. This is the best way I can think of to handle it, and I’ll experiment if it doesn’t seem to work. Flexibility in my Fool’s Errand goals is key to making this endeavor a success.

Final Daily Post

I have done my daily posts, to the best of my ability, for a little over five months. When I first started doing them, I thought it would be fun, and it was in some ways. But for the most part, posting daily has been a stress. If I don’t put a post up, I fret over it, even if there was simply no way for me to do it the day before. Though I started out trying to post on the same day the events I wrote about happened, I more often posted on the day after. I’ve discovered I have fun finding things to take pics of for my posts, but can’t keep up with the pics on a daily basis because I simply can’t find anything that relates to my posts most times.

So with this post, I’m ending my run of daily posts. It’s just not me, and I see no reason to keep up with something I don’t find a lot of pleasure in. My plan is to rethink my site—again—and decide what all I want to do with it. I’ll more than likely discontinue my separate Fool’s Errand site and move what posts are there over to this site.

One of the things I missed most about my switch to daily posts about what I’ve done each day were the more personal posts I put on this site. I was trying to run a more professional site, but I’ve since decided that I’d rather be the real me instead of some twit who posts about nonsense crap every day. Honestly, I don’t much care about following people who endlessly list tasks completed, so I figured why bother subjecting my (5) followers to the same? Also, I’d rather space my posts out over the week.

Aside from Fool’s Errand posts here each Saturday, I don’t expect to do much posting until the new year. I want to spend the remaining weeks of 2018 planning what I’ll write about. No, it certainly won’t be daily lists of tasks completed. Depending on how many topics I manage to jot down and what they relate to, I may assign specific topics a specific day.

15Nov18: Slow Day

I didn’t get much done Thursday. Lack of motivation got me. Did go to gaming with my longtime gaming friends, got a plot card on Unwritten Letters, and chatted with Mom. Aside from those things, nothing else.

14Nov18: Good Day with a Rough Start

Book by Lazette Gifford

Zette’s book!

I stayed in bed until noon on Wednesday, then got up only to do kitty care and take my prebreakfast meds. After that, I laid down on the sofa for a bit, then got up to cancel MTG since I’d had only one “I’ll be there” response. Laid down again—in fact, all afternoon, right into the early evening, I only got up for limited amounts of time between longer periods stretched out on the sofa napping. It wasn’t mood, precisely. More a lack of motivation. Days like this are relatively rare, but I’ve had more than one this week. Three as a matter of fact: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

But things turned around.

I finally settled at my desk and eventually got all my tasks from the day’s list done (aside from the MTG). Got my 250 words, did D&D prep, worked on a tarot card, read, kept up with my journal, and practiced my languages. Can’t really say I felt very motivated, I was just wanting to be able to write a list of tasks completed. Which I guess is motivation of a sort. Usually, though, I’m more interested in my tasks, especially the reading, languages, and writing. But I didn’t even want to read, and that says a lot about my lack of motivation.

As for what I’m reading, it’s my friend Lazette Gifford’s book, the first of her Raventower and Merriweather series, Secrets. It’s a steampunk set on a secondary world. I’ve only just gotten to Chapter 6, but it’s been a great read so far. This post’s header image is the cover of Zette’s book, and the book can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

13Nov18: Happy Birthday to Me

Tuesday was my birthday. I did little beyond going to my volunteer shift, practicing my languages, and chatting on the phone with family who wanted to wish me a happy birthday.

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