Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Author: Ashe Elton Parker (page 1 of 44)

Where’d my Writing go?

I’m writing this Friday instead of Saturday for a couple of reasons. One, and less important, because I have a little bit of time. Two, and more important, because I’ve done very little—if any—writing since my last update in January.

The past couple weeks, I haven’t been solely focused on TPOV2. When I am, that project goes fairly well. I just haven’t felt like working on it in any way for the past several days or more. Even now, I feel interested and invested in Dagjhir’s story in a way I haven’t felt engaged in it since I finished book 1.

A few weeks ago, a new chatter joined FM, and she’s writing a story based in a female-centric culture where women outnumber men, and that gave me ideas for a female-centered culture where women outnumber men of my own. This is, quite frankly, something I’ve been hoping would happen. I’ve wanted to write such a culture for a long time, and everything just met perfectly for me to start developing this idea. Right now, I have 3 MCs, their relations, and a basic plot along with worldbuilding notes. Not enough of a plot to really dig into the project, but everything’s in notes in my Elephant Jounnal Scrivener file.

More recently—like Thursday night—I’ve felt renewed interest in Peikigi’s story. Typos and such induced this interest—I have two nonwords that seem like good possibilities for names for Imotinayao people. Wow, that word just flowed off my fingers—didn’t even have to think about it. Maybe it’s a sign. LOL Anyway, I figured out what I want to do with The Hidden Heir 1: The Obscure Child and want to dig into it. Not sure if I want to divide my attention (and limited time now) between it and TPOV2. This is my first Story of the Heart, and I’ve never wanted to give up on it, so it feels good to be interested in it again.

So that’s where things stand this early Friday morning. I’ll figure something out.

Life in Upheaval

I forgot completely about posting last weekend, and I’ll tell you why: I got a job. No, my writing isn’t now paying me, it’s a real-world job. Well, not-quite-job. It’s actually a vocational rehabilitation program for Vets that I’m in up at the VA. They pay me a little above minimum wage, which is non-taxable, and I work 4 days a week in the mail room there. It’s great to be working again.

This has understandably had an effect on my writing. My focus is shot all to hell right now, because I’m usually tired and can’t decide what to work on even though I’d kinda-sorta chosen something before starting the job. These days, if I don’t have the Scrivener files for at least two projects open at once, there’s something wrong. Usually, I have three or more. I’ll either be working on some aspect of the writing—worldbuilding, plotting, or maybe getting actual words—or reading through some incomplete project that I just had to look at again.

Right now, my life is in flux as I settle into the job and establish new routines. These days, I get home from work around 16:00 and am usually in bed by 20:00, with stuff like housework in between. I’m also usually mentally blasted from work. Not sure why, just that I come home and zone while my fiancee rubs my feet and we chat. I’ll get into chat on Forward Motion too. However, I always have my projects open, ready for me to work on them.

I’m honestly not sure how long it’ll take me to settle into my job, but things have been getting better. Now I actually am able to do a little writing every couple of days, when I’ve rested up a bit. It’s just taking time. Wish it didn’t have to, but I accepted that when I leapt at the opportunity I have to get some work experience under my belt before putting applications in at real jobs again.

Lots of Things to Update

As the title says, I have lots of things to catch up on. Besides my continuing Fool’s Errand to bring my writing into a near-daily habit again, I’ve had a lot of other things going on the past year. This post is to help me clear out my head about everything and give y’all an idea of what I’ve been doing the past year (as if y’all really care, right? LOL).

First things first—I’ve pretty much given up on my disability claim with the VA. Mostly because there has been little to no movement on that since earlier this year. I’ve done pretty much everything I can on that, and it’s still up in the air. Actually, I suspect the VA has forgotten about my claim. I should probably poke my advocate, but I’m feeling rather discouraged by the process. Maybe in the new year I’ll try to get that moving again.

I’ve made substantial progress on my transition. Back last November when I came out to my mom as transgender, I didn’t think I’d get this far. Lots of things about this are currently up in the air, but one thing’s for certain: I need to have top surgery before I can start Hormone Replacement Therapy because of my cancer history. There are concerns that the testosterone will be converted to the hormone my cancer was receptive to and throw me back into treatments for that if my breasts aren’t removed. I have an appointment in January to discuss the possibility of a breast reduction at the VA. That’s another thing that’s in the air with this—I don’t know if they’ll give me a reduction based on medical need, or a full removal in the name of cancer treatment. Depending on which it is, I may be saving up in the coming year for top surgery at the University, where I had my radiation treatments. Regardless, for the past few months, I’ve been wearing more masculine attire, which has made me very happy. I’m finally becoming the person I was always meant to be!

And that brings me to the next Big Thing in my life. I’m looking for work. That’s part of what’s kept me so busy the past few months. I’ve been looking on Indeed and applying for jobs. My ultimate goal is to get into a position at the VA, but that’s taking some work beyond mere resume-and-cover-letter with the application, but I’ve got help with that. Otherwise, I’m looking at pretty much anything that has a decent pay.

Last (but not least), I’m engaged! A friend I met early in 2018 has become my fiancee. Back when we met, my fiancee said she didn’t want to get married again because her first marriage was hell and she didn’t want to go through that again. Over the past year and more, our friendship has grown into a dating relationship and now into the proposal she gave me back in October. We plan on doing the civil ceremony once I have a job and we’ve cleared out some of our debt, and a big ceremony later on in the year.

I’ll be posting updates to my real life here again, but I’m not sure on the schedule. Maybe it’ll be a regular occurrence, or maybe I’ll update only as necessary. I need to see how things go first, so don’t expect too much more in the way of personal news over the next month or so.

Changes for Fool’s Errand Updates

Since I haven’t been keeping up with my Fool’s Errand updates on a weekly basis, I’ve decided that I’ll move it to every other week. I’m also going to move them to Sundays, and the reports will include the preceding two weeks from the Sunday of the previous post to the Saturday before the current post. With my life changing (hopefully soon) for the better, I don’t expect to have as much time as I used to for writing. Look for posts every other Sunday from today onward.

I’m also not going to post any writing goals for the year. Things right now are too much up in the air. Right now, the best I can say I can do is work a little on my writing 5 days a week, even if it’s only editing something already written or working on a rewrite of a short story or something.

And now for the official update!

I’ll tell you the real reason why I’m floundering with my writing right now. Back during the last couple weeks of December, I had an epiphany. One of my online writer friends mentioned combining some of her SF universes, and that got me thinking about my Fantasy worlds. I suddenly realized quite a number of them had similar magical systems to each other. That got me to start taking notes about what worlds I could combine, and I’ve managed to consolidate my 30 worlds down into about 15, I think. I may be able to combine others, but I’m not sure.

What this means is that I need to go through each of these new Scrivener files for these new consolidations and rework the magical systems so the slightly-differing systems mesh better. That’s going to take a lot of work. At present, I’m still going through the old list of Scrivener files for my old worlds over and over and trying to mash more together, and I’m letting my brain percolate on the changes to the magical systems in the worlds already combined.

My main focus at present is my Steampunk world. This includes notes and stories from the worlds of Ulvaya, Wevae, and a couple of other worlds, including one originally called just “Steampunk”, which the new world takes its name from. I’ve managed to puzzle together a new, deeper history of the world with this combination, but I’m having difficulty trying to fit a particular part into the whole. It works well in its original world, but won’t work well on its own, and I’m just not sure what purpose this magical ability has in my new Steampunk world. My Creative Mind is bubbling away on it, though, so I’m sure things will work out well.

And—Epiphany!—I know how this final piece fits! It hit me right after I finished writing this post. Yay!

What I Should Have Done

It’s been a busy month and more since my last post. Part of it I spent ill, the rest consisted of me getting things ready for the holiday season. I’m sad to say that my writing suffered because of it.

The fact is, I’m floundering. I’m trying to find a project I’m interested in that doesn’t take up a lot of time in prep and prework stuff. My mistake was in not going through all my projects back in August and September, like I did in 2018, to decide what to work on in the forthcoming year. That lack of attention to my writing has resulted in a lack of focus which has bitten me in the rump and made it easier for me to skip writing at all.

So what this means is that I’m going to take January to do what I should have done months ago. I’m going to read through projects, make notes, and decide what to begin working on in February. My hope is that if I do this, I’ll be able to focus better. So, my Fool’s Errand isn’t forgotten, it’s being renewed. Onward!

Better Progress on the Writing Front

Well, as the title says, I’ve had better progress on the writing front. Most of this has been over this month (November), but not for the obvious reason, which is NaNo. I didn’t participate in National Novel Writing Month this year.

Instead, I’ve been working on reverse outlining and outlining a couple of different mystery stories. Back in October, I started with working on Independent Investigations 1 again. You may all recall this as being titled, “Boost.” Well, in early October, I realized why I wasn’t working on it—the story I originally conceived was too dark. I used to be able to write dark stuff. Not only that, I actively sought dark ideas to write in my stories. However, I just could not maintain the level of darkness necessary for making the POVMC, Mat, suffer a downward spiral into drug addiction as originally planned. So I rethought things, and realized a way to make it more optimistic while keeping the basics of the story. This was aided by my fiancee, Tess, who made some suggestions about discoveries Mat could make outside of xyr focused investigations into murders. The series is still Independent Investigations, but the new story is titled Acid Reflux.

This meant I basically tossed everything I had of the original story. Outline, notes, all but one of the scenes I’d already written. All of this went into files I’m going to mine for future stuff. Then I restarted the outline in Scapple, without looking at the original outline overmuch. I basically took off from what I remembered of the original manuscript and notes and developed a brand new style of developing stories in Scapple to fit the mystery genre, and I’m writing directly from the Scapple file’s outline instead of transferring the salient points to a plot card in Scrivener. Mainly because most of my Scapple outline notes have too much salient information for me to be able to do that with any ease. Right now, I can’t recall just how many plot points I developed in Scapple, but in about the first week of November, I started writing the new second scene at 500 words a day. Sadly, I didn’t complete it before moving on to something else, but even with the more optimistic future for Mat, the “present” in xyr story was still dark, especially where I was outlining ahead. I just couldn’t make myself go on, and I had fresh ideas for another mystery, so I moved on to that one.

Which one? Masks. To be honest, I hesitated two or three days before digging into this, mainly because I wasn’t sure I wanted to make the leap—or any of the changes to Masks I was already considering. No changes in what I’d already written, aside from edits and stuff, but changes to the latter portions of the story. In order to refresh myself on the project, I did a read-through, then started reverse outlining what I’d written—in detail, and in Scapple, using the new Mystery Outline Method I’d developed for Mat’s story.

I’m still working on the reverse outline, getting about one a day. One of those things took me two days, mostly because it had a lot of information to unpack. I’m being as detailed in these as I have been with the standard outlining I’ve been doing for Mat’s story, and it’s turning out well. Not only that, I’ve come up with a few minor changes for the series Masks kicks off. For one, Yavaniel’s mother is still alive; I decided to make her the source of Yavaniel’s Sublunary Elven heritage. I also realized that my original concept for how the overarching subplot develops needs some work—it was originally crammed into too short a time period. I haven’t quite decided how to handle it, but knowing what needs to be done has enabled me to make progress on concepts and ideas for finishing book one at least. Also, I’ve sketched up a map of Jodalur as a whole so now I have a better idea where specific things are located in each of the different districts. Not all of the districts are named, but I have determined a couple things about the city: 1) They’ve kept up the habit of walling new areas as they’re annexed or settled; 2) Most of the walls around older more central districts are intact to this day; 3) public transit availability varies according to district; and 4) the Maireadi District is actually one of the largest districts, and is comprised of several smaller districts whose walls fell into disuse and disrepair before the section was granted to them by an earlier First Chancellor of Jodalur over 100 years ago—and they’ve rebuilt and repaired the sections of the Wall that lie between their district and Jodalur “proper” in order to give themselves some protection from mobs who periodically gather to invade the Maireadi District.

The past couple days, I haven’t worked on it due to real life stress and stuff, but I plan on getting back to it this weekend. I’ve got some relaxing activities planned that should put me right back into a good mindset for working on my writing. Sadly, these days I don’t seem to be able to use writing as a way to relieve my real-life stress as consistently as I used to be able to.

Fits and Starts Whee!

Well, the title says it all. My writing hasn’t been steady. I either have a god flow of ideas, or none at all. This wouldn’t be a problem if I could wrap my head around my plot cards like I’ve sometimes been able to do in the past, but even those aren’t helping.

I’m not working on my speculative fiction either. My brain switched gears hardcore toward the end of July, and I’m not working on gay romances. My usual habit with these has been to run with an idea and write on the story until it fizzles out because I don’t have a solid ending. Yes, the goal is to get the couples matched up by the ends of their stories, but I need to know the details as each story ends a different way. I’ve also been trying to insert some discipline into my gay romance writing and have been doing plot cards before starting to write on the projects. Not yet perfect, but I actually think that’s unattainable at this point, so I’m telling myself to be pleased with the successes I’ve had.

However, I will say that when the ideas flow, I write pretty much every day. I got I think about two weeks (5 days each) of writing in when I did write. One story I’m rewriting from an older version with updates to my style and skill, including moving the conflict to the spots where it needs to be instead of deflating that aspect of the story within the first few chapters. I like what I’ve gotten so far on that rewrite, and I’ll probably make the original version available as a freebie somehow if I ever publish the new version.

Other than that, I’ve not been doing much with my writing. This focus is so complete I can barely even make myself read the off-the-shelf D&D campaign I’ve got to prep for—2 weeks left for that and I just cannot get into the campaign book ’cause I’m so focused on gay romances. LOL

Unplanned Hiatus – Again

I didn’t finish out my July Camp Nano goal. This was mostly because I realized I was writing a longer story for my fantasy project than I originally thought. I’m not sure if it’s just going to be a doorstopper, or if it’s part of a series, but I need to figure that out and determine what the end of the book is before I can continue on it.

Since then, I’ve not been working on any of my writing. Apparently, if I don’t have any wordcount goals to meet, the rest of my writing stuff goes totally off the rails. I’m not sure how to correct this, but I’m trying. Unfortunately, not knowing what to do doesn’t help, so I’m basically floundering about.

Recently, I’ve been opening my Obryn Scrivener file, though. This is the one with my character Dagjhir’s story. I’ve written some notes about character goals and have turned my thoughts toward figuring out book 2 of this trilogy. With luck I’ll actually make progress on it.

So that’s where my Fool’s Errand stands at this time.

Too Busy to Write

Sadly, I haven’t written since the 16th. It’s been a very busy week for me since Tuesday. Lack of sleep hasn’t helped, and that’s all my fault.

When I have had a chance to write, I’ve been working on the background stuff for DH04. While I’m glad to be making progress on this at last, I also don’t want to lose track of Soul Sucker. It’s just that background stuff is easier than writing when I’m having busy, stressful weeks with an upset sleep schedule.

I’m going to be more disciplined next week, and do my best to get a minimum of 500 words on Soul Sucker five days.

Soul Sucker

So, I haven’t written a Fool’s Errand update post since May. Wow. I haven’t forgotten, just been struggling with depression and thus to write. Once again, I’m going to tentatively say things seem to be improving, and my writing has been going exceedingly well for the past few days.

First, my July Camp NaNoWriMo project. I settled on writing Soul Sucker for my July Camp Nano. Well, for the most part. There’s some random gay romance words in there that I hope to be able to replace with my primary project’s wordcount. The gay romance was just what wanted to run at the beginning of the month before I managed to wrangle my creative mind back onto my primary project.

Soul Sucker is progressing nicely now. Yes, it’s a new project, not something that’s languishing in wait of being completed, but a combination of focus and the right inspiration at the right time got me going on this for my Camp Nano project. And yes, I know this isn’t the project said I’d work on next, but Gildas clammed up after a few plot cards and refused to budge, so when Leopolda started talking, I decided to work on Soul Sucker instead.

For this month’s Camp Nano, I’m using a somewhat redundant system of writing brief notes about the scenes in Scapple, then expanding upon those in plot cards in Scrivener before writing the actual scenes. I don’t do one after the other, though. I’m about 15 or so Scapple notes ahead of where I’ve got plot cards written, and I’m about 5 plot cards ahead of where I’m writing. Thus far, this has been a successful system, and it’s been methodical—and flexible—enough that I’ve been able to add in stuff that needs to come in earlier in the Scapple notes as it occurs to me. Some may scoff at all the “extra” work I’m doing just to write one scene, and some may try to tell me I’m writing the book 3 times with this method, but it fricking well works for me. Also, a number of the plot cards I’ve got have been in some cases vastly different than the Scapple notes due to what I’ve already written changing things when I got to doing those plot cards, and more than one scene has been significantly different from the plot card, for much the same reason, so far. I think I’ve finally accepted that neither of these prework steps are immutable, a concept I’ve struggled with for a couple of years now.

So, as things stand, I’ve got about 22.4k words written on Soul Sucker, and about 4,500 of that is Nano count. I need to tear through some words to cover for the ~4,500 words of gay romance that I want to replace. That’s doable in a few days, and I’m looking forward to catching up!

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