A Demon in the Desert Fifth Anniversary

A Demon in the Desert cover

It’s been five years since I published A Demon in the Desert. Some time after I put it out, I blogged about everything I’d learned from. Five years on, those things still hold true but I’m not taking active lessons from it anymore. It serves as a very mixed gateway into the life of Grimluk and his adventures, with some people loving it and a few thinking it’s garbage. It’s a first book. And I don’t know what else to say on it.

I could talk about how sometimes I think about rewriting it but my desire to let it stand, as its own thing and as a sign of where I started mostly wins out there. It will stand as it is.

I could talk about how my friend, Krista Ball, told me about the five-year issue. It takes five years before you really get anywhere. But my fifth year is also the year of COVID-19 and I still only have three books. By Krista’s fifth year, she had 12 books out (or, as she put it when I asked, “A lot, and probably not enough, but also way too much.”). In self-publishing, quantity DOES matter, at least more than in traditional publishing. It’s also not smart to compare my journey to someone else’s. While Krista’s level of success is where I’m aiming, I’m also not her and I don’t write what she writes. Also at least one of those was a non-fiction and those always sell.
 
The truth is…this doesn’t feel like a big deal to me anymore. I’ve written and published three books and written a fourth that just needs the money for editing, proofing, and artwork (along with another couple of drafts). Releasing a book is still a big deal. Releasing a book is a big, nerve-wracking event where I push another piece of my very silly soul out into the world for people to consume, come what may. But the march of time? Not really.
 
The biggest thing about having been doing this for five years now is that…I can’t see myself not doing it anymore. Paying for the publishing sucks and is the hardest part of this, followed by marketing, but I love doing this. I love writing. I love creating. I love entertaining and it still makes me feel real. So even with COVID-19 rolling around, and the US absolutely DUNKING on itself, that hasn’t changed. Sometimes I feel like I’m being frivolous writing Grimluk and not like, some politically-charged, current events commentary sci-fi story. Which is kind of silly considering Grimluk is politically-charged in a different way. Part of a recent review for The Demons Within read:
 
I also like how Ashe has pretty seamlessly incorporated queerness and gender diversity into these books. In that respect, I do actually think I’d recommend these as good fantasy for middle school age queer/trans teens and early high school age queer/trans teens. Though gender and sexual diversity aren’t the main focus, Ashe incorporates them in a way that makes them feel normal and a part of the world, rather than make those characters anomalies or always in danger of persecution and ridicule. Not many other fantasy series featuring genderqueer orcs or queer elven or dwarven couples as a normal and accepted part of the world!
 
And that is a huge thing for me with this. So, sure, it’s trash adventure stuff but I’m still putting myself and my friends into it. Even if I was just writing pure adventure trash, oh well, people need that sometimes.
 
I’m just gonna keep going. In another five years, I’ll reflect on a decade as an author. Hopefully I’ll find 2025 a more welcoming place. A more stable and secure place. Here’s hoping we all do.
 
Now, given that I wasn’t really sure what to talk about and have rambled, mostly, I’m happy to answer any questions anyone has. I know most of you don’t really read these, but if you do, and something pop up, leave a comment or tweet at me or whatever and I’ll compile them together in a Q&A.

Stay safe.

News & Demon Haunted Teaser

Figured it was time to share a bit more of Demon Haunted with everyone. But first, some news!

Most of everything I’ve been working on with Demon Haunted is basically done. At this point, I have a few little things to finish with some image stuff and that’s it. Demon Haunted is being proofread, the first print proof arrives tomorrow, and everything’s shaping up and looks like it’ll be ready with some wiggle room before October. Whoo!

Secondly, I’ve started Grimluk 3 and I’m already nearly 2500 words in. That’s pretty exciting. Hopefully, I can get the first draft for this one done pretty quick and then start on book 4 as well. But hopefully, when folks start reading Demon Haunted, they enjoy themselves. Otherwise there won’t be a huge point in trying to put out more Grimluk, eh?

Anyways, on with the snippet! Again, no spoilers for the main plot, just a nice scene I’m fond of. Fair warning as this one is more on the disturbing side than the last one. If you’re not fond of snakes or some body horror…

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Demon Haunted Teaser

Firstly, apologies for not following up my Ghostbusters post for the second movie. I’ll be doing a review of the remake though, once I see it. But for now, I thought a nice piece of Demon Haunted might be in order, at least beyond the first chapter. I will, of course, post snippets with no spoilers to the main plot. Mostly, these will be interesting bits and bobs from the first half of the book. This first teaser introduces the Hanging Judge himself. Enjoy!

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A Whole Mess of News

For those of you reading on the site itself, you might notice the first bit of news: ashearmstrong.com is now mine. I upgraded my wordpress account. Yes, I could’ve gone ahead and set up my own site via hostgator or one of those but honestly, this was the least stressful option and it works just fine. I can fully decorate the site now and I have the domain name. That’s some good stuff.

Secondly, the Indiegogo campaign is over and finished out with a total of $987, just barely shy of half my intended goal. But that’s okay, I can more than work with that thanks to some awesome folks. That grand total is all thanks to a last minute backer who took the highest reward tier, the $300 Governor, which means that he gets to name not only the governor of New Gilead but also the name of the capital city. Very cool and very appreciated.

Moving forward, I’ll be finishing up the edits on the last chapter of Demon Haunted and then running through the rewritten second chapter one more time before declaring the second draft DONE and starting the process of getting this bad boy edited. Should be able to get all that done this week as chapter 19 is just waiting on me and I need to get some character names from a couple of backers.

Indiegogo says I’ll have my funds on Tuesday, and then I can slam down sweaty fistfuls of cash on Bob Kehl’s desk and get the art side of things started. This time around, I’ll have a full sleeve and I’ll be getting a character piece of Grimluk on top of that for promotional use and the second bookmark.

I’m hoping to have the last draft, and maybe even all the formatting and everything else done by the end of August. If everything goes smoothly, I’ll put up a pre-order for the Kindle version on September 1st and release print and digital on October 1st. Should be a good Orctober celebration this year.

And even though it was WAY early, I snagged the Halloween slot for r/Fantasy’s Writer of the Day, so that should be fun. I’ll figure out what all I’ll do in celebration once it gets closer and for those who prefer to stay away from reddit, I’ll have all my other avenues of social media open as usual.

Beyond that, I have a couple of ideas for blog posts I may do soon and if anyone’s interested, I’m thinking about doing a Ghostbusters franchise retrospective leading up to the release of the reboot in July. I’d cover the movies, the cartoons, the main IDW comic series, and the 2008 video game. Let me know what you think about that.

I think that’s everything for now. There will be art updates as they come though the Indiegogo backers will get everything first. Take care y’all!

Soon…

Grimluk 2 is coming along. I finally finished the chapter 2 rewrite and started chapter 3. I had to do chapter 2 completely fresh, with only a few bits and pieces good for recycling into the second draft and it took me a bit longer to get it nailed down. Chapter 3 and onward will go much smoother once I get the beginning redone so it fits with chapter 2. I’m sure there’s stuff later on that I’ll have to scrap or rework but I doubt I’ll have to completely rewrite a chapter. I was pretty happy with the majority of what was in the first draft. We’ll see what happens as I get through it though.

Which brings me to the real news. I’ll be launching the Kickstarter campaign for Grimluk 2 on the 31st, which also includes revealing the title. This go round, I don’t have a cover yet, but I’ve tried to build a much more visually appealing campaign page and I feel pretty good about the reward tiers. I even made themes for them. So keep watch and stay sharp.

Nanowrimo Days 5-24

I won’t bother posting through the screencaps of my word counter (via Scrivener’s wonderful project targets feature) for every day since the last time I posted. I will say that I have been kicking ass this month. I’m not as far as I could have been but that was from a conscious decision on day 12 that I needed my goddamn weekend. I usually take Fridays and Saturdays off. Run errands, clean, veg out, generally just do some of the things I don’t do during my work days. It’s helped me continue on, and last week, I finally had my first day where I hit 2000 words. A milestone for me.

After last night, my Nanowrimo word count is 34,237 with my project total sitting at 64,000 and just a touch over that last 237. I’m also nearly done with the first draft. Which may seem weird since my goal for Nanowrimo was to write 50,000 words in hopes of hitting an 80,000 word first draft. That hasn’t happened but that’s okay. I’ll be finishing up the final chapter this week and then beginning the second with a rewrite of the first four-ish chapters. Definitely the first two and probably the third as well. All of which will probably be condensed to one chapter. As I wrote on, the chapters started leveling out between 3400-4500 words.

Given I’m nearing 70,000, I’m confident that I’ll hit my 80,000 word goal in the second draft. On top of rewrites, I have a lot of additions and expansions to make, and lots of areas that need filling out (not to mention finishing out a whole section of the final battle). I’m pretty damn proud of how hard I’ve worked these past four months and it’s paid off big time. My plans for a February kickstarter look solid too and I hope that one succeeds as well as the previous book.

Nanowrimo 2015, Days 1-4

After a nervous start on Sunday evening, I started day 1 of this year’s Nano with a bang, shooting a fair ways over the daily minimum. Day 2 was the same, with Day 3 being even better. Tonight, Day 4, I just barely went over the minimum but it was a deliberate choice because the next section is gonna be an emotional one. It feels pretty fuckin amazing too. The first three days saw me do a half month’s work as compared to the previous three months (10K a month for a 30K total). I feel extremely confident that I’ll get this first draft finished by the end of Nano and start whipping it into shape for a kickstarter campaign in February. You can see my daily word counts below. I’ve taken to using Scrivener, which has a handy project target tool that includes total and session counts. More updates to come.

nano-day1
Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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Day 4

New Stories!

Bit of an update to go with these new stories as well. I’ve shut down my Patreon. After the security breech, and the fact that I’ve only had one patron, I figured I should just put it on the back burner for now. In the meantime, I’ll be uploading everything I posted there and then occasionally adding new pieces as well. The most important two, however, are the ones I’ll be linking below, as the first was going to be a part of this month’s postings, and was a request from said patron, and the second is the short story I had submitted for publication and was so excited for over the summer. Happy reading, y’all.

“Sadie’s Kitchen”

“From Tusk Til Dawn”