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The Ash Dancer site is up. now it is time to build out content.

1 min read

A lot of stress, worry, and doubt are behind me, because I decided to jump right into it.  The site look too me a bit longer than I wanted, and I am still not quite sure if I love it, so please tell me what you think.

There isn't a lot there yet, but I have 2 setting pieces and 2 short stories in the works, so there will be more there soon.

This is the first time I have worked so openly, and the first time in a long time I have worked on epic fantasy/secondary world wuxia, so I would love your feedback and input.

  • What do want to see in the world?
  • What do you not want to see?
  • Is it alright to call it steampunk or wuxia when it takes place in a secondary world (not earth)?
  • Where do you want to see these stories?

These are just some of the questions I am asking myself, and I would love to know your thoughts.  I am so excited about this setting and these stories.  I hope you love them as much as I do.

When ideas make you nervous, just dance.

2 min read

Today is one of those days when my mind swims with ideas born from a clarity I have not had since the most recent pollen onslaught.  There are so many things I would like to do, but many of them make the butterflies go crazy in my stomach.

Broken images and strange music furtively peek at me from the corners of my mind.  This isn't the first time these ideas have tried to push into my consciousness, but they have played with me.  They tantalize me.  They make me feel like there is a story at the fringes of my awareness, but they have collapsed like a house of cards before.  Maybe this time will be different.

I want to believe that there is a story there, but refuses to lock itself into a setting I can explore and write in.

Maybe this is when I need to just let go and embrace the ambiguity.  Maybe I have been too much of a control freak for too long, and I just need to run with the story and see where it goes.  Maybe it is time for me to write by the seat of my pants for a while.

Damn, that scares me.

Ever since I wrote Liquid Sky, I have relied on outlines.  To throw all that away takes me down a very different path.  That seems to be the trend for this year.  If it scares me, I should do it.

Deep breath.  Let's explore this strange new world at http://www.AshDancer.com/

Ch ch ch changes, the clear path is not the way

2 min read

When you decide to turn your whole life upside down, you have to be ready for everything to feel scary.  I have made a punch of decisions about my life and career.  While I feel they are right, they are shaking everything to their core.

I am not sure about anything anymore.  That might be a good thing.  Joseph Campbell said “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.”  He also said, “If the path before you is clear, you're probably on someone else's.”  I think I have been following someone else's path for too long.

The anxiety I am experiencing is a good thing... at least, that is what I tell myself when I feel like I do today.  Money shouldn't be so central to everything, but unfortunately, that is the world we live in.  In one week though, I am going to change everything about how I make money.

Making the switch to patron support from book sales may be the scariest thing I have ever done.  I am essentially asking people if they like me enough to regularly give me money...

I know I am doing the right thing.  I want to tell stories, and this is the best way for me to do that.  The doubts are loud in my head.

"What if no one contributes?" "What if no one cares?"  Then I remind myself that this isn't high school.  Popularity isn't what this has ever been about.  It is about telling stories.  Everything else is secondary.

I need to just breathe.  This will be what it will be.

There I go, turn the page

2 min read

For the last couple weeks, I have experimented with a few things to help me feel better, and I am glad to say, they worked.  So, now, I am trying to get back into the swing of things.  The question is, what is the swing?

A part of that opening back up.  I didn't pull in to be secretive.  I stopped posting because I was in such a dark place.  I didn't want to share the thoughts that were going through my mind.  While I would never say that the darkness will never come again, but at the very least they are gone for the moment.

Here I sit.  My head filled with ideas.  I just need to find the shatter point where the ideas will break up into bite size pieces I can write, draw, or render.  I can't say I have ever been in this place before. 

Writing used to be easy, but the darkness shook my confidence.  My wonder collapsed under the weight that depression.  I would like to believe all I have to do is start writing again.  I want to believe the craft I spent all these years developing will get me through.  Only time will tell.

All I know for sure is that the fire I though went out is still burning.  The fog obscured it, but it didn't put it out.  The worlds are still their waiting for me to capture them again.  My doubts multiply with my plan to give my new fiction away.  If everything goes well, my readers will support my work on Patreon. If that works, I can focus on the stories and the worlds and not books and products.  

Instead of taking time to explain my plans, I am just going to start implementing them.  Time to get to work.  It feels so good to be back.

I've been spending a lot of time making waves on Anchor, and you should join me.

1 min read

I think I found my new favorite social platform:

What is Anchor?  It is a place to have time shifted audio conversations.  It is the most compelling experience I have had online in quite some time.

It is like radio, in that once you start listening, it place from one wave to the next.  If you want to dive in, you tap the replies and it flows through the conversation.  When you click reply, it inserts your reply after the wave you replied to.  So when you listen through a conversation, it all plays in order, and becomes a conversation you can easily follow.

I love this app, and will be using it for the forseeable future.  I invite you to check it out at Anchor.fm.  If you already follow me on Twitter, you will autofollow me on Anchor.  Or you can add Charlie Dorsett.  I can't wait to make waves with you.

Last night I just let myself write and it felt so good.

1 min read

It has been way too long since I let my myself write for the sheer joy of writing.  No commercial considerations, no promotion plan, just me and the words that want to spring from my head.  Why did I stop doing this?

Because I confused being a writer with the business of publishing.  There is a craft and a business, and their has to be a firewall between the two.  I know a lot of other authors will disagree with me about this.

Yes, our livelihoods depend on the business of publishing, but if we don't provide ourselves with a safe haven where there is nothing but love for the work and the craft, we lose our soul to gain some money.  For me, that price it too high.

I'm not sure what the end result of this process will be, but I feel like I have to find out.  I would rather have a small audience for works I love than a large audience for work I just did.

What is the Minimum Viable Product for prose? #leancontent #mvp

3 min read

Sitting here, staring at my laptop, I tap on the keys to make words appear.  Are they the right words, or the wrong words?  Are there any such thing as wring words if they are honest?

I've been told by some that I am too open and honest.  I am not sure that is possible.

A big part of my resolutions for this year was to stop holding everything inside.  There are a lot of strange inner monologues running through my head.  The biggest one is my struggle to understand when to click publish.

What is a story?

I have fallen in love with short fiction, and I really want to do more serials this year, but in the age of the internet, I am not sure what makes a serial episode.  It is just a hook?

With the rise of Twitter and Instagram fiction, storytelling is going the way of pop music: short simple and nothing but a hook.  I'm not sure that is the way I want to go.

I have a story, and it is just that.  It is nothing but a hook.  There is a part of me that wants to just click publish.  I can link to the next chapter later.

Is the Hook the Minimum Viable Product?

I have become a devotee of the Lean Content workflow, and one of the most important concepts is the MVP.

The MVP is that version of the product that enables a full turn of the Build-Measure-Learn loop with a minimum amount of effort and the least amount of development time. The minimum viable product lacks many features that may prove essential later on.

Eric Ries. The Lean Startup (p. 77).

So if the 5 elements of a story are: Character, Setting, Plot, Conflict, and Theme, and I write an 800 word hook with all these elements, does that make a viable first chapter to start the conversation about the story?

When I wrote Fate's Harrow, I loved that each chapter came out seperately so I could discuss them in almost real time as they were written.  I really want to have that dialogue with my readers and I want to get the process started as soon as possible.

There is a difference between an MVP and a rushed first chapter, and that is the line I am trying to find.  I want the stories to be satisfying.

I am not where I fall on this yet, and I would love to get some opinions on this.  What is the Minimum Viable Product for prose?

I have characters in search of a story.

1 min read

Lately, I have had a lot of character ideas, but they have all been devoid of story. I think I really need to hunker down and focus on finding stories in those characters.

I really enjoy writing short fiction, so I think I am going to focus more on Novelettes/Novellas to sale, and short stories for the Medium site. 

Honestly, I would really like to focus just on the writing, and rely on something like Patreon to make a living. That is something to work towards. I need your help figuring out what kinds of rewards to offer over there. What would you like from me as a gift for donations?  

What to do when sorrow fills your cup of wonder

3 min read

After my silent rant last night, I actually started writing a new story, so something good came out of it.  I also find myself wanting to do more work today.  I am still having some issues connecting to the words that want to come out of me, and I think that might be my real issue.

I think a lot of these feelings come from not completely coping with the lost of David Bowie.

I am still so raw.  His music has played in the back of my head since I heard the news, and I cannot listen to his songs without crying.  I feel like I have something inside me that needs to get out, but the connection is weak.  Not because a lack of skills, but a fear of letting myself go there.  I thought I went there when I wrote The Loss of Lady Stardust, but that was me dealing with a character's feeling, and not really my own.

What if this is my American Pie moment?  Not in the sense of the movie, but the song.  Sunday night was when the music died...  I have found it hard to listen to music since, but that seems very melodramatic, even for me, but Bowie is only second to Paul Stanley when it comes to the heart of my musical soul.

I've felt like this before.  When Rozz Williams died, and again with Pete Steele, but those are losses that I still haven't dealt with either.

Maybe it is Bowie's connection with Jim Henson via Labyrinth that is making this so hard.  I haven't been swept away into flights of pure fantasy as flowed from Henson so perfectly.  Maybe I feel like I will never experience anything like the art of Henson and Bowie again?

Why can't I take myself there? 

It would be the height of arrogance to claim that I am next Jim Henson, because there will never be another.  But in a world where I have lost Henson, Bowie, Steele, and Williams, Anne McCaffrey is gone, and with her the Dragons of Pern.  George Lucas isn't giving me any more dreams to watch... Maybe I need to take what I love and miss and entertain myself.

Maybe the true source of the pain I feel over the loss of these people I have never really known is my fear of the responcibility over the dreams and visions that entertain me.  Maybe I am forced now to accept the fact that I have to make my own myths.

What if I am not sad, what if I am afraid of the responcibility to forge my own vision, and not bask in the shared dreams of others.

I am going to have to think about this even more.  Let me know what you think.  Have I diagnosed the real problem?

That moment you realize you are alone in a group.

2 min read

I am in my house, playing a game I introduced other people to, and I realize that my words count for nothing.  Not that I want people to do what I want to do.  I just want to be heard... listened to.  I don't even know why I am writing about this other than it is starting to feel like a trend in my life lately.

This is a recurring pattern.  I get to a breaking point, start speaking up more, get branded an asshole, and shut up again.  I don't know what to do about it.   To be honest, I just want to retreat again into that quiet place and just focus on getting work done, but I know where that leads.  I don't want to go there again.

Maybe I have just gotten to an age where I no longer have anything to say.  At least nothing worth saying at any rate.  Damn.  That may be the dumbest thing I have ever though or said. haha.

I am so tired of this pity party bullshit.  When I deconstruct the emotion, I can see that my real problem is that I have lost the respect of most of the people in my life, and I not sure what I can do get it back or even if I want it back.

Why do I care so much about how other people treat me?  So long as it isn't abuse, why should I care?  People are ignoring me.  Maybe it would be worse if they did pay attention.  I don't know.

I just need to focus on my writing, and let everything else be what it is.  I am happy when I write.