Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Author: Ashe Elton Parker (page 1 of 25)

(Part of) Reorienting AEP

I’ve been doing a lot more thinking about this site and what I should do with it. To be honest, some things are probably going to remain up in the air for quite some time to come; I’m just undecided on a lot of things about it. One thing I’m certain of, though, is that I need to move away from placing personal posts on here. The results of November’s election made me aware that I have too much to say that I don’t want to adversely affect people’s reaction to my writing, especially since I have plans on putting it out there.

So I’m not posting any more personal stuff up here. No more health reports, no more mentions of goals outside of writing, no posts about what I’m doing in my daily life. I’m moving all that to a blog on another site. Someday, I may connect the two—that blog and this site—from there, but I don’t think I’ll be providing links here to that site. There’s too much stuff that will upset future readers for me to do that.

From now on, this blog here will mostly concern writing. My writing, topics about writing I have an opinion on, et cetera. If you have a deep need to see my personal posts, use my contact form to provide me your email address, and I’ll give you the link to my journal/blog thing. But don’t do this on a whim. If you are not liberal in your social and political views, if you have any issues with people who have mental health problems, if you’re in some way fundamentally religious and have no room in your mind and heart for an alternate view (even one you don’t happen to agree with), or if you merely have a history of getting all riled up from the opinions expressed by a writer whose works you enjoy, please don’t ask for the link to my blog. In my mind, it would be far better for you to continue in your life with your idealized version of me in your mind than for you to be in any way disillusioned by the real me.

If you’d like a peek at the real me without going full-force, follow me on Twitter. I’m not there much right now, but I am on occasionally, and may come on more frequently in future; take a look at my previous posts. On Twitter, I’m a little more real. It should give any who are curious about my social/political and religious leanings a good idea what I’m like and where my feelings on certain aspects of life and the world lie. My Twitter handle is at the right.

Reading Goals

I used to be an avid reader. Literally any book had a chance of catching my attention. I checked out books from the library, bought books, borrowed books from friends, picked them up at flea markets and from FREE BOOKS bins and boxes. Recently, though? Especially the past several years? I haven’t been as avid for books. I don’t know what changed in my psyche, but I now spend more time reading my own work than I do reading others’ writing. This is something I don’t like.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for books, I do want to read more. This is more a conscious decision than anything else. I’m in a place where I have to be conscious of my reading habits, since they aren’t natural to me any more.

So this is what I’ve done:

Right now, I’ve got a number of books I haven’t finished readin. My goal this year is to finish reading at least some of those books. There are eleven books I need to finish reading, but I’ve set my reading goal on FM to twelve. One book a month is doable, even for me.

My sister got me a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas this past year. I’ve already added some new books onto it, and I’ll be taking it with me wherever I go. These, I’ll start reading after I finish a few of those incomplete novels. Also, I’ve set up an Amazon Allowance of five dollars a month to use for getting more books. In addition, I’ve created a Goodreads account since it sort of “comes with” the Kindle, and I’ll be reviewing books I’ve read there. For those I’ve purchased at Amazon, I’ll be reviewing them there too—basically copy-pasting my review.

I also own a Nook, and it’s got a number of those books I’ve not finished reading on it. This year, I’m going to read those books, and review them on Barnes and Noble’s site, as well as on Goodreads.

Also, I’ve signed up for a Wattpad account. In part, this is to post some of my own writing, but it’s just as much to expand my reading. Since there was a smartphone app, I downloaded it to my phone. I’ll start reading the books I’ve selected on Wattpad after I’ve finished those I need to finish reading.

Lastly, there are a number of print books I need to read. They’ve been sitting on my bookshelves for years in some cases. I haven’t read them in part because my hands cramp and grow tired with holding print books these days. So I can read them, I must set them on a table or my desk—something that holds the book for me. Doing this requires me to bow my head over the book, which in turn causes a tension pull headache, where a muscle at the back of my skull tightens until I have difficulty moving my head. As a result, I don’t often read print books. I think I’ll be looking for them as ebooks and purchase them as I have the funds.

In this way, I’ll never be without a book at hand. So far, it’s worked this year. I’ve read more of others’ books than I did by this time last year.

Turn of the Year Update

It occurred to me that I should probably give a rundown of the past two or three months since my last Nano post, which, according to my records, was around about the 14th of November. This will encompass the end of Nano through the 15th of January 2017.

To begin: Nano.

For Nano in November, I ended up writing on four different projects. The first, Independent Investigations I: Boost, I’d started in October. I think I mentioned I was going to start off November with that project. Well, that fizzled up ’round about the 10th of November. But, thankfully, my Creative Mind wasn’t done with writing, it just switched gears and got me going on Dagjhir’s second book, The Prophet of Venjhelin 2: Uncertain Times. I worked on that steadily until the 18th, then did one final scene on it on the 20th. On the 19th, and for the next five days, I worked on a brand new project set on a brand new world, Brother Exile and Brother King, which is a standalone. Then, on the 24th, the last day I wrote on BEBK, I started another story on the same world, The Legend of Boikal I: Unspeakable Evil. TLOB1 broght me to the end of Nano, with just a little over 100k words for the event. So, Nano was a grand success! I’m still proud of that word count. I’ve never gotten a 100k Nano before, and I’m not ashamed to admit my Creative Mind took me on a tour through four different projects to get me that count.

I didn’t write again until the 6th of December, beginning what’s looking to be a trilogy. There’s no series title in the first few entries of the story, just the book’s title, No Man’s Child. It’s set on Dagjhir’s world, in another country, and will, if I can write the entire thing before I die, a revolution. That dried up around the 8th.

Another brief dry period followed, and then I wrote on TBK1. Made a bit of progress on it, but it didn’t last long. Just 4 days, including the first.

Then I wrote a little on a couple of gay romances whose titles I won’t share, one new, one a rewrite when the desperation for words got to be too great. I appear to be making it a habit to rewrite incomplete gay romances I’m not satisfied with. Given my last experiences with them, I wish my Creative Mind would forget about them altogether. I do not want to repeat 2012. But writing on those gay romances happened on the 25th and 26th of December.

On the 27th and 28th, I worked on a new story, Mirrorsoul I: Revelation. I’ll let you ponder just what a Mirrorsoul may be. I’m not sure about keeping that series title, but I may have figured out a way it applies—to the last book in the trilogy. This is set on a new world, and I decided to experiment a little with the chapters. Instead of multiple scenes per chapter, I decided to see if I’d feel in any way comfortable with doing one scene per chapter. It was a tad bit uncomfortable for me at first, but the second story, set on the same world, that I started and wrote over the 29th and 30th, helped with that. I haven’t decided if I’ll rearrange my other writing, but to be frank, the task is rather daunting, though I really like the 1-scene chapters. This second story is titled, Return of the Moribund God I: Life After Tavrinia (ROTMG1), and it’s the first in what is currently a planned 4-book mystery series.

And that’s December. January has been much less . . . busy on the writing front.

On the 2nd of January, I wrote a scene on ROTMG1. Then I lost interest in all my writing. At least, until the 15th. That day, I wrote a bit on Mirrorsoul1.

Happily, the periods when I haven’t written haven’t been completely noncreative. I’ve spent a lot of time plotting and worldbuilding during those dry spells, especially this month. When I say, “writing”, I mean, specifically, putting new words down in a story file.

I’ve also been reading a lot. I was gifted a new Kindle Paperwhite by my sister for Christmas, and with the $50 Amazon gift card she sent me, I’ve purchased some books, including an omnibus edition of an old favorite trilogy that I’ve been devouring. I’ll admit, there are some obvious similarities in what I’ve got planned for my Mirrorsoul series to this old favorite trilogy, but there are also some very stark differences. The necessary twisting to make my stories different from this trilogy, and fitting the story into this new world, have created something of its own. I suspect this is as close to writing fan fiction I’ll ever get, and it’s not the first time I’ve lifted various ideas from some book I’ve read and twisted them to my own purposes.

One big difference? The MC in my favorite trilogy to read ultimately dies. My MC won’t, but he’ll certainly wish he would.

I’m Still Alive

Sorry I haven’t been very active on my site or Twitter over the past few months. The whole presidential race took it out of me, and I’m really only now starting to come out of my little mental self-protective ball. I’m not making any promises I’ll be back in any way permanently on Twitter until after January 20th, and I’m not willing to give a specific date. My bipolar is doing its thing, making me not care about crap to the point where it’s taken quite a bit of effort to type this message up. I have some goals for the year, and I’ll get around to posting them once I’ve managed to organize them enough to do so.

I think, for the site, I’m going to be pretty random with posts for a while; I’ll try to get something up at least once a week, but there’s just no way I’m mentally capable of keeping to a schedule at this time. Still not sure just what I’m going to do about the site, though I intend to make some decisions about it this year and do some sort of overhaul on it. Last year was just not a good year for anything, really, except my writing, and I’m hoping that this year will improve shortly.

2016 started off with a bang on the writing front, but so far 2017 has proven to be very lackluster on that front. I’ve managed to write maybe one or two scenes and done some editing of one of my complete stories since the 1st, but not much else. It hasn’t been a completely uncreative writing downswing, though, so I’m not feeling depressed quite yet. I’m hoping my Creative Mind will wake up pretty soon though. I’d love to write some more.

So that’s where I stand.

Nano Update

Posting a bit late, but this is an important post. I’ll get the story behind this switch up here next week. This week, I don’t have the time for writing even a short blog post on it. All I have time for is a link. Short version—I’m working on a fantasy project for Nano words now and updated my Nano project page so the address has changed.

New Stats Page

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!

Rebirth of a Defunct Project

I think most writers who write for any length of time ends up with a collection of story ideas and starts that go nowhere. The Rose’s Thorn, a single scene I wrote some years ago was one of those for me. The premise was good, I thought. Girl with no relation to nobility ends up in the royal/imperial court and is the instigator of change. It goes on from there, with a vague idea of a sequel somewhere in the distance, but I had a solid concept for the first book, which opens with the MC having a roadside chat with the incoming imperial bride.

And that’s all I had. I forget when I wrote the initial scene. I’d have to hunt out its original logsheet or the 5″x8″ index card I started the log on, whichever it was. I can’t remember any more, and I have no idea where to find it even if I did. The project had no “place”—was just a random bit of fluff that I wrote off the top of my head without any sort of anchoring world to put it on. I had a hint of culture (bound feet), and a vague notion of the surrounding territory (forestland). Written in first person, it started and stopped with that “First Scene.”

Every so often over the past few years, since coming out of the gay romance fugue, I’ve revisited The Rose’s Thorn. Every time, I considered the first person pov as unalterable and tried to think of the next scene from that point. The thing with my writing, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, is that my scenes build upon each other to some extent. One flows, in my mind, into the next, and then the one after, and so on, until I have a complete story. This wasn’t happening with this story. I had the “First Scene” and notions of what I wanted to do with the rest of the story, and that was it. No next scene.

For years.

A few nights ago, I thought I figured out where this story belongs—the world it belongs to. Doesn’t actually fit there, because I’m getting inklings of a magical system I don’t have the impression “fits” on the world I put it, but I’m leaving it there for the present because it’s in Scrivener, and it needs to have a place to go or I can’t write on it—and I’m not going to write it in Open Office because I need a place where I can put the story’s accompanying notes I develop on it with the story file for easy transfer to another Scrivener file (plus having more than one Open Office file open at a time bugs the crap out of me unless I’m constantly clicking between them for some reason).

Anyway, I’d thought I figured out where this story belonged and happily transfered a copy of it to Scrivener. Then, because I’d had some better notions about the society and the MC and the imperial bride, I rewrote it. In first person. And there the story stopped again. This was frustrating, to say the least, but I decided to go with the flow, certain I wouldn’t have been driven to work on it at all if my creative mind wasn’t working on a way for me to get past the block.

And, that night, an idea hit. Scene Two. The next scene. But! It was in third person pov. I didn’t like the idea that I should switch povs like that. I didn’t think it would work very well for the story, and, furthermore, the notion felt, uncomfortable to me. No, switching between first person and third person wasn’t the right way to go with this story. So, that left me switching the first scene to third person. This didn’t feel precisely comfortable to me, but I had no other choice.

So, the next day, I got up and wrote the first scene for a third time, this time in third point of view. I had to do some other things, then later, I wrote the second scene. Then the third scene. Started off pantsing this thing, apparently. But it’s flowing well, even though I have no idea what the point of the story is.

My Year In Writing, Thus Far

Since 2012, I’ve been highly conscious of how my writing goes over the course of the year. I keep an eye on when I write, and how much I write, and how long I take to write it. Recently, I even went so far as to create a logsheet for my blog posts, which I should have been logging long before now. I use my logsheets to monitor just how my writing’s going.

Normally, my writing fluctuates wildly. I’ve discussed this fluctuation here before, I think. I’ll go through periods where I’m writing daily, or nearly so, and I’m racking up tons of words. Then I’ll have times where I don’t write at all, do very little creatively, and generally wail about my lack of creative urges with regards to my writing.

So far, this year has been different. Things haven’t been quite as dramatically different as before, and I’m not quite sure just what to make of it.

My creative urges have been more consistent. I say creative urges because it’s more than just adding new words to projects that I’ve had going. Generally speaking this year, on days when I haven’t written, I’ve done other things with regards to my writing. I’ve worked on character sketches, or brainstormed for different stories. Or I’ve drawn sketches of different aspects of the story, usually clothing concepts, as I’ve taken up drawing. No matter what I’ve done, I’ve done something creative on the days when I don’t add new words to some writing project.

And it’s been nice. I’ve enjoyed this steady flow of creativity. I don’t get as frustrated about not writing when I’m doing other things related to the writing. Sure, I’d like to add new words to some project or another, but it doesn’t dig into me and drive me batty no to do so. It seems that as long as I’m doing something to express myself creatively, no matter what that thing is, I feel content with my creativity.

I hesitate to predict what this means. What I’d like it to mean is that my mind has stabilized to the point where more steady and regular creative expression will happen. That I won’t have any more of those maddening dramatic swings from creativity to non-creativity. I want this to mean I’m returning to the state of mind required for me to write daily. But I hesitate to make that declaration, mainly because I don’t want to get comfortable with this mental state only to, in the next few months or so, fall back into those dramatic swings. This is a plateau. I’m doing my best not to get my hopes up that it means things are “normalizing” for me now.

Though, to be honest, I’d be very happy if this were the new status quo. It’s been wonderful so far.

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