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Totally Cool

Good morning, all!

This just in! By Another Name is going to galleys! Woo Hoo! I just got word from my fabulous Senior Editor, Nicola Martinez. Most exciting to reach this point. This short story was a blessing from the get go. Easy to write, it flowed from my fingers. Those are the best. I have, in the past, said that contemporary shorts are my “cheats.” In fact, I now believe it’s my therapy. What’s more therapeutic than weaving a little redemption love story? Can these little snippets make the world a better place? I think so. Why, you ask?

Because I believe in happily ever after. I tell the girls that their daddy and I are living ours, and they are our little princesses who someday will have their own. After college. After grad school. After they develop into strong, confident young women, which seems to be a recurring theme with my heroines.

So, this is almost Thanksgiving day. I braved the grocery store last night, thinking I’d be all sneaky and get my holiday groceries ahead of time. Along with half of Temecula. Aye, yai! yai! Anyway, the fridge is packed. We’ve opted for a free range turkey, never frozen rather than the traditional block of ice to sit in the sink for a day. This year, recovering from surgery, and still unable to lift more than 10 lbs – a fact I forgot BEFORE I went to the grocery story – so, today, Perry’s going with me before we brave Costco together. Lord, we must be crazy.

At any rate, have a happy Thanksgiving weekend. Good luck braving Black Friday, for you kamakaze shoppers out there! Many blessings, and safe travels to you and yours!

~Ashley

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Constructive Criticism

One of the most helpful books I’ve ever read is Dale Carnegie’s “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.”Sure, everyone says “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is his best work. I tend to disagree. Though I honestly couldn’t tell you the majority of what is in that book. What I do know, is that it changed my life — it taught me how to be critiqued – which is imperative for my growth as a writer. Who knows what else Mr. Carnegie expounded upon. This is what impacted me, at that low point of my life, and what I can share with others as a turning point towards a better day in mine.

What’s changed in my life since I read that book? Back then, I was in a crappy relationship (read UNDERSTATEMENT, and fodder for many villains in my stories), I was trying to make extra money selling soap. I honestly was miserable, but I longed for a career as a writer of fiction. I longed for love and for friendship and a home and a family that loved me.

Well, let’s see. About 14 years later, (oh Lord! feeling REALLY old) I’m happily married to my soul mate (the very saying would make him cringe), I have two lovely daughters, a great “day job” career – if they’ll still have me (going to see when I can go back to work tomorrow!), and I am a working Author of romantic fiction. I also have befriended numerous authors, editors, cover artists, and publishers, who are all working to define this new dawn of the Print on Demand publishing industry.

Perhaps I have my head in the clouds with aspirations of being a full time writer, but realistically, I know that is several years in my future. Right now, I’m in writing boot camp. I’m learning from my editors at TWRP – I’m on my THIRD! now working with the Senior Editor of the White Rose Line. (Hi, Nicola!) I’ve been brow-beat, lovingly guided, and instructed on how to improve my writing techniques on everything from: Showing – not telling, maintaining proper POV, getting rid of the dreaded words: was, felt, seemed, etc. which I’m still working on. And so many other points. They are basically bad writing habits that many of us fall into — I’m sure you notice I have a comma problem. Apologies to that regard. I tend to comma splice when I’m thinking. Crazy.

What I can say is this. For aspiring writers out there: if you ask for criticism, be ready to take it in for the spirit in which it was given. Your manuscript will return to you, bleeding and ripped through with “suggestions” and “pointers” on the errors of your ways. Your editor is now your partner, with an equally vested interest in your success. Make no bones about it. It is the hardest thing you’ve ever done.

I was given an excellent piece of advice by one of my writer-buddies. She told me to breathe. Then, read through the entire thing – absorbing all of the comments. Then, pick up a pen and make your notes. Develop your tricks. Use find and replace. But, pay attention to what they say and don’t assume your first pass is your best work. Give your editor’s comments the chance they deserve, and soon you won’t believe what you were capable of producing.

The back and forth can be difficutl. Honestly, your baby — your precious pages — will be the bane of your existence by the time it goes to galleys. But, having it go to galleys?!?! Having your story receive a gorgeous cover?!? an audience to read your words?!?! That’s my idea of heaven on earth.

All or Nothing – Returned – AGAIN!

Okay, second round of edits have been returned to Elizabeth. I have until August 20th for a creative reprieve. How do I feel?

Exhausted.
Elated.
Wrung out.

I had every intention of writing something creative today, so I’d better get to it. Just wanted to share my total relief, after having to slash out paragraphs, sew up my was-clusters, seek out problem repeated words, and all of those stray punctuation marks that seem to find their way to the forefront while you’re elbow deep rewording paragraphs and pages.

Amazingly enough, the story is better than its ever been. My editor is a genius. I’ll shout it from the rooftops. I’ve learned more about writing this year than I ever have – even in college. So, on that note, here’s to the next project. Something short that I can finish quickly. And then, back to Castles by the Sea.