Just another day at the word farm


May 18, 2017  •  No Comments

What happened this week?  I was minding my own business and I got an email telling me that my publishing line closed. Harlequin Nocturne, alone with 4 other series lines, is ceasing operations at the end of December 2018.

Good news: I will probably get the last of the Camelot Reborn books published. I am heartened by the fact that ENCHANTER REDEEMED stars Merlin.  If anyone can beat the odds, it would be him. Bad news:  I will have to exert effort (boo!). The nice thing about Nocturne was that they liked my stuff and getting new contracts was, for the current publishing climate, relatively straightforward.

I won’t dwell on the suckage of all this because it’s obvious. Good people lose their jobs when this sort of thing happens. Books and authors lose their publishing home. Readers don’t get the books they love.  It’s also weird finding out about something so personally impactful via a broadcast email, but that is apparently how modern life rolls.

So what is my response to all this?  I have Merlin’s book to write by deadline. I can’t allow circumstances to slow me down, mostly because I’m behind to begin with. This is publishing. And when this book is done, I have other projects on the boil. This is exactly why I have many things in play at the same time. I’ve learned my lessons.

Disasters?  Bah, I eat them on little crackers for breakfast.


Drawing breath


February 6, 2017  •  No Comments

It’s been snowing like crazy, which isn’t usual for February in Victoria. I don’t mind the weather shaking it up. The unexpected makes one look up and take notice of the world, even if it’s just the snow globe beauty of this morning, or the specter of shoveling my way around a corner lot.

tree in snow It’s a timely departure from my usual rut. I’m in that pause between writing books, if only for a few days. Last week I turned in the final edits on Royal Enchantment, and I have the next thing, a novella, already loaded and ready to hit the page. I need a breather to check the to-do list, shop groceries, make a few social calls, etcetera. More importantly, I need to erase my mental chalkboard and rearrange the furniture inside my head. One set of characters have left, and I need to vacuum before the next arrive.

But I can’t stay away from the keyboard long – I’m wired to work. February is dedicated to drafting the novella, which I expect to be around 25,000 words or basically 10 or 11 chapters. It’s part of a group project, the 4th of a set of 4 pieces. I don’t do these often, mostly because I’ve learned the hard way to look before I leap. This project is different and better, with hand-picked writers and a LOT of discussion and coordination. Which means, I suppose, that I should get started!


Blog Tour!

Sharon Ashwood
July 27, 2016  •  No Comments

I’ll be here, there and everywhere talking about ENCHANTED GUARDIAN!  Enter to win Camelot Reborn books 1 and 2 and a $50 Amazon gift certificate!
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July 27 Guest Blog

Fang-tastic Books

http://fang-tasticbooks.blogspot.com


Works in progress

Sharon Ashwood
June 27, 2016  •  No Comments

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A little more writerly advice

Sharon Ashwood
May 3, 2016  •  No Comments

Here are a few truths I’ve learned the hard way:

  • Books will complicate themselves. They don’t need help.
  • The stronger a characters’ motivations are, the less artfully constructed patches are needed to save the plot. (I was only fooling myself!)
  • If an action doesn’t make emotional sense in the real world, it doesn’t make emotional sense in the book world.
  • Ask myself if real people talk like that.
  • Being mysterious doesn’t equal good storytelling. One can’t advance a plot just by withholding information from the reader.
  • The better the actual story, the less special effects (dragons, sex scenes, gruesome murders, dancing hamsters, etcetera) are needed to keep it moving.
  • If I have to stop the action and explain what’s going on, I need to check my work.

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Keeping it simple

Sharon Ashwood
May 2, 2016  •  No Comments

You know that feeling when you first start a book? It’s like my mind is a kitten surrounded by tempting balls of yarn. It wants to pounce on EVERYTHING at once and succeeds mostly in falling over a lot. Adorable, but not that effective.

cat_yarnIdeas, characters, settings, sub plots – I love them ALL and I want them ALL in the first paragraph because I’m so excited (!!!) by the fabulous world I’ve created. Unfortunately, that means I have written quite a few openings that sucked. Fortunately, I have discovered my best friend the delete key, which means my finished books aren’t quite the unruly beasts promised by my first few drafts.

It’s all too easy to load up our openings—and often our entire novels—with an embarrassment of riches. It’s true that certain genres, like epic fantasy, usually have lots of subplots and characters, but the best examples always firmly establish the world and conflict before branching off into weaving threads of events. Many other genres, including romance, prefer only a few main story threads. Either way, good craftsmanship guarantees the reader can always follow the action without drowning in clutter. No one likes a story that requires a spreadsheet and a geomancer to make sense of it.

So, my lesson learned? I don’t need to add one idea more than what’s absolutely necessary—my stories will magically gather complications all on their own. I have to start with the bare bones if I want to end with a coherent book. Restraint and simplicity are perhaps the last lessons one masters, and for me they have been the hardest. I have a hard drive full of mangled first drafts to prove it.

Long ago, I received an excellent piece of advice.  “A woman of style will always remove one piece of jewelry before leaving her dressing table and another before leaving her front door.” While I will be the first to admit that sounds a bit patronizing, there’s wisdom in it when it refers to book structure. Sometimes simplicity is a good friend.


2016 RITA Nominee!

Sharon Ashwood
March 31, 2016  •  No Comments

Possessed_by_a_WolfPOSSESSED BY A WOLF has been nominated for a RITA Award in the paranormal category! So it’s off to San Diego this July for the Romance Writers of America conference. I’ll be part of the big Literacy Signing, so if you’re in the area please do stop and say hello.

So how did I hear the news?  I was off work for the day and in my bathrobe because it was still early here on the West Coast. When the phone rang I thought it was a telemarketer or some such, so you can imagine my surprise when a very nice person began telling me Wolf had been selected. Yes, I’ve won a RITA before but finding out you’re a finalist doesn’t get old. Trust me on that one! I had to get her to repeat everything while my brain caught up.

An award like this is not a guarantee of fame and fortune, but it is important to authors because it’s validation of one’s art. The RITA is judged by peers. There’s no “campaigning” or politics involved. It’s just whether the judges who got your book in the box liked it or not and as far as I’m concerned that’s how it should be.

I have a real fondness for Faran, my werewolf hero. Let’s wish him luck!  Maybe it’s appropriate that I imagined he was a Californian.

 

 

 


Ten no-fail procrastination technique, personally tested

Sharon Ashwood
January 17, 2016  •  No Comments

Ten no-fail procrastination techniques, personally tested to ensure no writing happens

10 Obscure recipe ingredient. Must have it.

9 Coupons are expiring!

8 Distant relations haven’t heard from me since the 90s.

7 My car is overdue for servicing

6 Financial planning! Right now!

5 Flyers! Must. Read. Every. One.

4 My sinks are dirty. Someone might see them. Like my mother.

3 Computer gags. Software update.

2 Must Google for new reviews. Then the aftermath.

1 Can’t possibly write without the perfect tea.


Look who arrived on my porch!

Sharon Ashwood
January 16, 2016  •  No Comments

Sadly, Gawain himself wasn’t in the box!

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Camelot Reborn

Sharon Ashwood
January 12, 2016  •  No Comments

I’ve talked about the fact that I’m starting a new Nocturne series and the first book is coming out in February (just in time for Valentine’s!). I’m sure how well I’ve explained it– it’s a contemporary-set paranormal based on Arthurian legend, complete with fae, witches, demons and plenty of magic. There is a respectful nod to medieval fantasy, but I do not stray into true historical territory.

The germ of the idea for this series came to me when I was very young and on my first journey to England. I was deeply impressed by the stone effigies of knights anlamiad ladies sleeping on their tombs. At the time, I thought them serene and beautiful and sad and wondered what would happen if I had the power to wake them up. On a much more recent trip through Exeter cathedral, that idea returned with a romantic twist and here we are.

The first book is Enchanted Warrior and its hero is Sir Gawain, the son of King Lot of Orkney and the Isles. He’s stranded in modern times and on a mission to find King Arthur. When he encounters Tamsin Greene, a medieval historian, he believes he’s found someone who can help him. Unfortunately, she’s a witch and he doesn’t trust anyone with magical powers. Mind you, Gawain has a few surprising talents of his own!

The second book is Enchanted Guardian (Lancelot), which will be out in the summer. He’s one of those figures that we think we know, but when I started digging into his legend there were a lot of surprises that I was able to take advantage of.

I’m very pleased with this series – I’ve really had a lot of fun exploring this world.