Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBT+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

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A Slight Shift in Things Here

Well, I fully intended to reserve this site only for writing topics on Tuesdays, but I didn’t honestly believe I’d run out of them so soon. My last scheduled post, RIP Ferodoxis, went up last week, and I was already frantically trying to find a writing topic for this week—just this week at the time. I have not come up with anything.

As a result, I’ve been considering what I might do. I’ve been looking at the sites and blogs of writers I know and follow, and realized they pretty frequently have personal posts, such as I used to post here. Some are more political than others, some focus more on writing than others. But they all include personal posts. I’ve not wanted to share my political views here (though they’re probably at least somewhat obvious, considering the subtitle of my site), but I have kind of missed posting about my real life here. So, with those things considered and realized, I’ve decided to go back to posting about my real life on this site. These posts, if they show up, will come on Tuesdays, so readers will either see a writing-related post, or something about my real life.

I will not be posting about real-world politics here. There may be a rare comment or retweet about politics on Twitter, though I’m not often there these days—and, in fact, personal stuff I’m gearing up to write about may well appear on Twitter first, depending on how willing I am to risk catching a glimpse of unhappy news there, but I likely won’t linger long, so follow @AsheEltonParker there; I’ve also added my Twitter feed to my sidebar, just scroll down a bit.

A Pitch of the Scale, Chapter 6

With a sigh, Asthané flopped onto his sofa, placed his hand on his head, and cooled the temperature of his scalp in an effort to alleviate the pain. At this point, exerting his will to cool the temperature of his head wouldn’t do much to aggravate the headache. Using what little of Teesar’s Gift he had would aggravate the headache, because he wasn’t very well practiced with those skills and had to exert a bit of concentration and access the Obnubilate Codicil in order to effect changes.

At least, thanks to this four-hour session of nonstop weatherworking, he had a very firm grasp on the trick to reducing temperature. He sighed again, this time with a bit of a groan as the cool sensation caressed his skin, taking some of the pain away. Still, he didn’t feel so bad, even with the sick-headache from using his Gifts for so long without a break. Poor Héforth had been dry-heaving between his attempts at killing the wind and precipitation in Asthané’s spell. Only practice would reduce the reaction, and the boy was going to get plenty of that with Asthané around. And maybe Asthané wouldn’t end up with awful sick-headaches at the ends of these sessions in a month or so. He could use the stamina all this magic-practice was going to give him.

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RIP Ferodoxis

Ferodoxis is one of the worlds I wrote in the longest, just counting years. I conceived of this place sometime in the mid-90’s, a few years after I came up with Elindu. Ferodoxis was supposed to be my signature Science Fiction world, plus magic. With stories written from the natives’ point of view—they weren’t human—I planned on highlighting some aspects of human nature that I’ve long been unhappy about.

My premier story/series from this world was supposed to be about a young female’s preparations to become the ruler of one of the last few nations left on Ferodoxis. She would actually come into power after the events of the series—which were supposed to culminate in a human invasion of her world. Of course, I had other ideas for this world, but this story was the one that I’ve always had for the world.

Then I went to Colorado and joined the Navy. When I returned to North Carolina in 2003, I was never the same. Neither was Ferodoxis. Over the next couple of years, I tried to finally make a decision about the bodily structure of the natives of Ferodoxis. I lost interest in working on the conlang I’d been developing for the nation where most of my stories occurred—a necessary step because they had concepts we don’t and thus have no words for. But the main sticking point was the physical form of the natives.

So, on and off, I worked on stories set in this world. I wrote a number of shorts, rewrote, rewrote again, and continued to continually rewrite the main story I saw for this world. I loved the MC I conceived for this story, Peikigi, and the style of her voice, in whose first person pov the story was told in. Her story turned out to be one of my most literary, in style, that I’ve ever written. And it was speculative fiction. After a while, rewriting her story took on an almost ritualistic feel for me. Unfortunately, I never made it very far beyond perhaps the middle of her first book. It just wouldn’t go.

Oh, in this was a period of a few months when I broke my mind and my writing over adding LGBT+ themes to the world,. mostly due to religious influence. There were also moments when I made the Ferodoxans more animal-like, other times when they may as well have been human, and other brief periods when they were humans. None of these permutations ever felt right for them though.

I also struggled with pronouns. An odd thing, I know. But I kept trying to decide if they’re actually male/female/bigender, or of no gender designations we understand—requiring more than two member to mate, or them being parthenogenetic in reproduction somehow—with the resultant confusion regarding pronouns. For a while, I contemplated other different uses of pronouns as well, most of which I’ve forgotten.

But I loved Peikigi, her stories, and the society she lived in.

Until, one day, I didn’t. Not as much as I had before. I realized I’d made such a mess of Ferodoxis, and particularly Peikigi’s culture, that I no longer had any idea just what I wanted to do with it. And I honestly didn’t care to figure it out. Much as I want to, I can’t even say I may one day resurrect this world in some small way.

So it’s RIP Ferodoxis.

I’m already piecing it out. So far, I’ve moved the concept I’ve long had for a society of people highly trained to be servants, bodyguards, and priests to another world, and I like what I’m doing with the concept. To be honest, I’m a little tired of the original concept, in part due to its attachment to the now-defunct Ferodoxis. I’m interested again, and adding this social group to this other world has actually helped increase my interest in the world and the story I’ve got going in it. Of course, I’m changing things around a bit, but the basics are there—they’re still highly trained servants/bodyguards/priests. But now they add color to a world that lacked detail, and that’s a good thing.

For a long time, I had in mind dismantling Ferodoxis like this. I honestly did not want to give up on it. And, in a way, I do regret doing so. But at the same time, I’m very, very happy with the decision. Ferodoxis had become a burden. By chopping it up among my various worlds as the old worldbuilding will fit, I’ll be able to enliven other worlds of mine, and the stories in them. This, I think, is only a good thing.

A Pitch of the Scale, Chapter 5

Géta hurried to his room after his practice-lesson and put his flute and music away, then opened the window as quickly as he could. The letter from Alénil had been on his mind the whole afternoon, and he wanted to write a reply to it as soon as possible. He threw his tunic onto his bed and dropped into the chair.

Right in front of his incomplete composition homework.

He glanced from the scattered pages of music and the pencil and eraser on top to the letter laying on the near right-hand corner and back again several times as his enthusiasm cooled. It took a few minutes of consideration before he groaned and got up, untying his cravat and loosening the collar of his shirt as he retrieved his flute. He hadn’t gotten ahead of his schoolwork at home by slacking, and he’d driven the habit in deeply enough to feel uncomfortable letting his homework be ignored now. The thing here was to stay ahead of lessons as much as possible, so he’d have all the time he needed for practices and studying journals. And today, in addition to the remainder of the music he had to compose, he had mathematics homework, so he collected that as well before returning to his desk. To prevent distraction, he hooked his tunic and covered the letter with it, leaving them on the bed. There. Hopefully his mother’s adage of “out of sight, out of mind,” would prove true right now, because he didn’t know how he’d get through all his homework if he couldn’t focus on it.

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Confluence of Ideas

It’s about 10:40AM on Sunday, the 11th of June as I write this. Sleep didn’t come to me last night because I took my night meds too late, and my second wind hit before they did. So I’m up, and I’m fiddling on the computer, opening random Scrivener files and reading incomplete wips to the point where I have the most desire to read to. I do this pretty frequently with my incomplete wips. A sudden desire to read a particular scene will hit, and I’ll start at the beginning and keep going ’til I get there. Most often, I’ll read to where the story abruptly ends, in a spot where it really shouldn’t end, but does because that’s where my creative mind gave out, either in the outline, or directly in the wip where there’s no outline at all.

I did that until around dawn, when one of my writer friends came into Writing Groove’s chat. NPhoenix and I will often ramble at each other—her rambling has a way of triggering thoughts on my own stories. This morning was no different, and I think I have to thank, in part, my exhaustion for that, because, to be honest, I’ve made the most progress on any of my writing, no matter what I’m working on, when I’ve been exhausted this year.

So she started rambling about one of her shelved projects she hasn’t been able to figure out for a while, but for which she got hit with some big ideas last night in a shower before bed. I can’t take the liberty of explaining precisely what sparked my creative mind’s ideas beyond saying one of the major plot points hit me hard.

And reawoke interest in a story I’ve long struggled with.

Honestly, I forget exactly when I first wrote the original opening scene to “The Rose’s Thorn,” but I do know I did so long before I got Scrivener, because I had to get a program called Open Freely so I could even access the scene, never mind edit it. When I did that, I transferred it to Open Office, as that’s the only text editor I had at the time that I could write in. And there it languished for years, with me opening it occasionally to read as vague notions—or just a simple desire to read the scene—struck.

In the meantime, I got Scrivener, and I eventually moved “The Rose’s Thorn” into that program. Last year in September, I rewrote the opening scene (twice) and tacked two more scenes on the version I liked better. In those scenes, I came up with the official title of The Veiled Court. Shortly after writing them (by a few days, that is), I decided those additional scenes didn’t fit, though they read well, and I liked them, which is generally a good indication that I’m on the right track with a story.

After that, I let it languish. Mostly because the ideas ended with that third scene, and I blocked myself on the story by declaring two scenes I liked unfit for the wip.

But NPhoenix’s rambling reminded me of an aspect of the story . . . and built upon it on the 11th of this month. So I opened the file after she was done rambling and posting snippets from her shelved project. I read through what I had of the story. More ideas surfaced, along with the opening of book 2. For one POVMC, The Veiled Court will end on a cliffhanger. That seems to be my “thing” with novel series. Heck, even in the one duology series I have, book 1 ends on a mild cliffhanger that could actually be a passable (if mysterious) ending if I didn’t already have ideas for that story’s book 2.

Beside me on the floor between my plastic drawers and my rolling drawers-and-file cart, I have four brand-new story journals that I haven’t written in. I’m planning on opening up one of these and scribbling what I think of for The Veiled Court today. Because this is the most interested in any story I’ve been in weeks. I honestly don’t expect this period of inspiration to last beyond today, but I’m going to run with it, for it feels good to be thinking about any stories right now, especially one that’s languished so long.

A Pitch of the Scale, Chapter 4

The heat felt oppressive, thick with humidity, and Géta opened his room’s window in hopes of a relieving breeze the moment he got in, not even setting his flute and the new music he’d been given down first. A little breeze did come in and he inhaled the fragrance from the vaila flowers a few times before crossing the room to set his things on the shelf. He treated his flute with more reverence than it had ever before received, and the music with equal care. This first lesson with his flute teacher had been the most grueling he’d ever experienced, but he felt bright with happiness, for he’d been praised for his skill and given some difficult music to learn. His instructor, a weathered old man with agile fingers and a far greater skill with the flute than Géta felt he’d ever attain, seemed to think he was some sort of prodigy.

Géta removed his belt and laid it on top of his stacks of clothing, took off his tunic and hung it on the back of the chair, and flopped onto his bed. Perhaps he should have been tired after the long day, but he wasn’t. His mind wouldn’t stop running, going over the day from the first hour in the library. Groaning, he stretched, wiggling a little to work out kinks left over from holding his flute to his lips well over four hours straight. It wasn’t that he’d never practiced so long before, it was just the fact it had been more intense than ever.

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Extended Writing Downswing

By “extended writing downswing” I mean in regards to getting plot cards and fresh words on projects. Over the past few months, I’ve done little with my writing beyond editing and the new brain dumping stuff. Sadly, I consider “actively writing” primarily to be getting plot cards and new words on my stories.

This has not been a completely dry period for my writing though. I have been scribbling notes for various stories in my journals. In addition to the three stories on my projects page, I started a journal on another story, a fantasy mystery called Return of the Moribund God I: Life After Tavrinia. In this story, the ghost of one of the sleuth’s friends awakens him one night, and he and his roommate go to retrieve her body from the river. This is one of my particular favorite stories, mainly because I just adore the MC I conceived for this series, Pliutius, who is a 48-year-old mage who’s serving his second deity—and is about to stir the interest of a third.

I’ve also started a “general notes” journal. So far, it has only one note, but that probably won’t last. I have intentions of going through all these 200-300 index cards I have notes for various stories written on. Some of these notes are just random ideas that don’t yet have a home that I’ve jotted down. A lot of sorting needs to go on.

Also, I need to go through my scrap paper notes and new Scrivener files to create folders for my World Folder Drawer to put those notes in. There’s a few hundred or so names written down on these index cards and some scrap paper sheets that don’t have a particular home that I need to jot down in my, oh, 30-year-old name notebook. Actually, I think I’m going to switch the name notebook to one of my hardcover journals—I picked up a few more at the office store earlier this week as the current notebook is a literal notebook with a soft cover that’s in danger of tearing from the wire spiral.

Oh, I have plans for these story notebooks, should I ever complete the stories I’m working out in them. A number of my writer friends and people I follow have Patreon accounts, and I’ve decided it would be a cool idea to use my note entries, and, ultimately, the notebooks themselves, as rewards for patrons. There’s a bit of other financial stuff I need to figure out first, though, so we’ll see. And, I also need to complete these stories and series and publish them somehow. If I don’t do the Patreon thing, I’ll more than likely find another way to share the notes to these stories and the notebooks (sets) with interested readers. We’ll see how this stuff develops.

But for now, I’m just working through the dry spell with writing. I can feel stuff working in the back of my mind, and I know my Creative Mind isn’t completely ignoring the writing aspect because I’m able to get notes for my journals. I’m also reading through various incomplete stories of mine, both old and new. And there’s also the editing. The worst writing downswings always make me disinterested in working on my writing in any way. So, I think this year is being just as productive as last year, simply in a different way.

I hope you’re enjoying A Pitch of the Scale. There are two more books (thus far) after this book, but I won’t be posting them here. If you want access to them, sign up for a Wattpad account and visit my profile there. I post updates about what’s happening with the DH series there regularly.

A Pitch of the Scale, Chapter 3

Géta got through breakfast without trouble. Apparently, few were up at six when the dining hall opened, and he had his pick of the offerings and eyed the few others present before sitting by himself. Most of the others were adults; Priests or Mages. After returning his tray and dishes to the kitchen, he ventured into the school proper for some exploration.

Like the dormitory, the school halls consisted of one major artery with branches off to either side. Géta checked the paper he had and found the rooms where his book-learning classes were, then sought the weapons-practice room. It was off the main hall and had double-doors. Mirrors had been attached to the large room’s left-hand wall, and various weapons hung on the right-hand wall. Circles had been painted on the floor; the wall opposite the entrance bore more weapons and had a door slightly off-center.

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You’re a Fraud!

I’ve heard it said that all skilled and/or successful writers experience a feeling of fraudulence in their writing lives. Now, I don’t know how true this is all across the board, but a number of the writers I associate with regularly do suffer Impostor Syndrome of some kind, at least a little. Sometimes they don’t even need to be in any way successful.

For the longest time, I didn’t think I went through this. I examined myself and my emotions whenever I added new words to a project. Neither did I feel it in relation to any success I’ve had with my writing. Negative comments don’t really have the power to make me feel like a fraud either; I just figure the problem with my story lies with the reader, not the story.

The things is, I’m extremely confident in my writing skill. I know my stories are good. They’re strong, they don’t have (many) plot holes. Since I started outlining my stories, my writing has only gotten better and stronger. If nothing else, I have supreme confidence that my writing is good and that I write well.

But I do suffer Impostor Syndrome, and feelings of fraudulence. When? This took a little examination of myself when I wasn’t actively writing on any projects, because I feel this way when I’m not adding new words to a project. No matter how much I may preach to other writers, who are newer to writing, or more uncertain of their skills that as long as they write at all, no matter how frequently they’re able to do it, they are a writer, I just can’t seem to internalize it for myself.

It’s really been hitting me strong this year. More than once I’ve nursed negative thoughts or shared negative opinions on my worthiness as a writer since I’ve not been writing as much as I want to. Every so often, the thought, “If I were a real writer, I’d be able to focus on something and complete it” or “I should be writing. A real writer writes almost every day” slides into my mind.

And honestly, I don’t really feel like myself unless I am writing. This has always been the case. I enjoy worldbuilding. Developing characters is fun. Plotting things out is really entertaining. But. None of these are writing.

But it’s the way my writing mind swings these days, and it’s elected to be mostly in “downswing” mode so far this year. Not enjoyable, fun, or entertaining. I’ll survive though. Making it through 2012 proved to me I can survive even complete lack of creativity for an extended period of time. At least right now I’m able to be creative during my downswings. That’s something good, right?

A Pitch of the Scale, Chapter 2

The final portion of his journey involved crossing Capitol Lake to the largest island. Actually, the largest island was cut by canals, and Géta got a nice view of the Empire’s Capitol City from the steamboat’s deck. He was too worn by the journey to feel much awe and his eyes blurred more than a little a few times, so his memory of the trip through the canals to the center of the island was a little hazy. When the ferry docked, his Priest escort came to fetch him, and he wandered down the plank to the dock with a feeling of smallness.

Here, the roads were much better than those in his home city had been, so there were no jarring dips into potholes. The carriage rode smoothly, an issue with the Temple’s insignia of a trio of three-armed spirals, in an inverted-triangle pattern, on its doors. It wasn’t very fine, but it was more comfortable than the taxi carriage he’d ridden to the train in back in his home city.

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