Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to attend a mini-conference with the author of Proof - Jordyn Redwood. She taught the basics of novel structure, which is always good to hear. I really enjoyed her presentation. It was done in a very different way than I've seen before. She was knowledgeable and thorough. Not to mention, it was just plain awesome to meet her and talk books! The mini-conferencing world is completely different for me now that I'm published. No longer do I feel like a desperate wannabe writer. I feel like a peer. Not that anyone ever treated me like I was below them...that was all just in my own head.
I also finished a manuscript that I've been working on since the beginning of the year. Xadrez is my human chess match story...and I love it! I love the pageantry and grandeur that it presents. I can't wait for young people (and adults!) to enjoy it. I pushed myself to finish it last night because Harper Voyager was open to submissions through October 14th, and I thought that would be a great opportunity to get it out there. Sadly, I was too late. They closed the portal before many were expecting them to. But I chalk that up to God's timing, and I give it over to Him.
If you want to check out Xadrez, details are on its own page. I have to admit, it was strange to write outside the Circeae universe. But it also shows me that I have more stories to write. I am so blessed to have been granted this talent. I love being a writer!
UPDATE (10/16): The closing of the Voyager portal was a mistake! They re-opened, and I was able to submit Xadrez! Prayers appreciated!
I just finished an interview with The Interpreter, a literary group on Facebook who produces the Spotlight. It was such a neat experience! I thought I'd share the interview here.
Shah Fazli: Ashley Bazer, Thank you so much for coming to Spotlight live, how much of you do we read in your book, of course
you have written it, one thing, and if it is fantasy, we know you like writing fantasy, for instance, is your main character anything like you, in any possible way, if not tell us about your book and about yourself a little please?
Ashley Bazer: Thanks for having me, Shah. It's a pleasure to be here. I write sci-fi (more specifically space opera). I've recently published ASYLUM with WestBow Press. It is part of a sci-fi series set in the Circeae System. WestBow is a self-publisher, but ASYLUM won a writing contest they sponsored, so I was able to publish free of charge! To answer your question, yes - there is a little
part of me in all my characters. In ASYLUM, the two lead characters certainly come from different aspects of my personality. We have Captain Chase Leighton - strong, stubborn, and set-minded to get what he wants, and his wife Trista - innocent, sweet, and basically the damsel-in-distress. I have a theatrical background, so I love sweeping drama that takes you on an escape...and that's what I've written in ASYLUM.
SF: Thank you, OK now tell us why Sci-fi, not any other genre please?
AB: Growing up, my dad loved sci-fi. He often told me about watching the very first broadcast of Star Trek. I also have two brothers (no sisters!) who were interested in sci-fi, so I guess it rubbed off. I also lived near the United States Air Force Academy, NORAD, and
Space Command...so we had real-life space stuff going on all around us. While sci-fi might be a specific genre, it really is open to a multitude of possibilities. You might encounter a primitive world, or one rife with technology that blows you away. There might be spiritual beings, or extraterrestrials. It's open to just about anything. :o)
Frank Creed: Ash, how did you come to write space opera? Have you ever heard of http://www.raygunrevival.com/
AB: Star Wars was a huge influence for me. I like how Lucas focused on the characters, relationships, and plot instead of the technology. In my writing, I start with the characters and go from there. Space opera just seemed a natural fit. And yes, I have heard of RGR, but it's been a while since I've visited. Thanks for the reminder! I'll have to check back in with them.
SF: It's a fascinating genre of course, what do we read in your book, can you name your Sci-fi elements please, stars, moon, ships?
AB: I wanted a completely different universe, so I created a trinary star system that I named Circeae (pronounced SIR-see) which translates to "daughter of the sun." No specific meaning behind the translation. I just liked it. There are a number of planets and moons that surround the three stars. You can view a map by going to http://www.ashleybazer.com/system-map.html. Of course, it's 2-D, but it gives you the basic idea. My characters do travel the system with starships. In ASYLUM, the most interesting of all is the Straightjacket - a prison ship for the criminally insane anchored on the outer boundaries of the system. I also use the wormhole concept, but in this universe, they are known as Pathways.
SF: What is ASYLUM about please?
AB: ASYLUM is the story of Chase and Trista Leighton. They both serve the Ghosts - a band of people engaged in a cosmic battle with the overbearing government called the Progressive Legacy. Chase is wanted by the Legacy because he is Logia, a devout and gifted follower of the Ruler Prince (the deposed ruler of the system). Trista goes out on a mission which turns out to be an ambush. She's arrested and turned over to the Legacy's Experimental Medicine agency. Reid Terces is the doctor in charge, and he intends to change Trista's personality, removing her memories of Chase and the Ghosts, and turning her into a servant for Legacy purposes. She becomes Krissa and works as a computer analyst. The Ghosts first receive news that Trista has been executed, but then they learn of her true situation. Naturally, Chase tries to go after her, but he winds up in Legacy custody, along with his crew. They are all sentenced to the
Straightjacket, despite their perfect mental health. After months of brutal treatment, the inmates of the Straightjacket riot. Just prior to this, Krissa boards the ship, assigned to fix the computers. She is taken prisoner by the other inmates. When Chase learns she is onboard, he finds himself in a struggle between reaching his wife and dealing with the identity the Legacy has created.
SF: Why ASYLUM, why not another title?
AB: Asylum has a double meaning. We know the phrase "insane asylum" which can have a pretty bad connotation to it. The word is used for haunted houses and other frightening experiences. But it also is defined as a place of safety and refuge - a sanctuary. So with the Straightjacket experience, the word asylum came to mind. And of course, I'm all for happy endings. Without trying to spoil the ending for the readers, the main characters, following all the harrowing events, end up in a place of safety. They find their asylum. :o)
SF: Describe one or two scenes for us please, who is there and what happens?
AB: One of my favorite scenes is shortly after the Ghosts have learned that Trista has been killed. The information is false, publicly broadcast by the Legacy in an effort to stun theGhosts. Chase, being Trista's husband, is understandably devastated. He isolates himself, but the Ghosts wish to honor Trista with a memorial service. Chase's friends force him to attend. (The scene...) Following the service, Redic Clairet - the founder of the Ghost movement - visits with Chase aboard his starship (the Halcyon). They discuss the service, which leads into Redic sharing a bit of his story (takes place in a different book in the series). He can empathize with Chase because he lost his wife in a similar fashion. But he reminds Chase that vengeance does not belong to them. That he did not create the Ghosts as a way to
get back at the Legacy for the evil they have created. Their purpose is to serve the Ruler Prince and restore goodness to the system.
SF: Thanks, can you read from ASYLUM for us please?
AB: "I think you misunderstood the process, Mr. Leighton. This isn't a trial. It's a sentencing. You are a criminal, plain and simple. You forfeit any rights when you choose such a path." The judge stared at him as he pressed a button affixed to his desk. A red light under the screen indicated that his words were now being recorded for the official transcript. "The Legacy has recently instituted a new rehabilitation program. You will receive treatments, and if your behavior progresses, you may earn free time and perhaps, someday,
release. Mr. Leighton, you are hereby, for an indefinite amount of time, sentenced to the Straightjacket, the Legacy's new prison ship for the criminally insane."
Chase's jaw dropped as panic lit fire through his chest. "I am not--"
"The doctors will, as stated previously, administer treatments at their discretion in hopes of rehabilitating you to proper citizen status."
Terror tumbled through Chase's head, sending the room spinning. He jerked on his chains, knowing it was a futile effort. They couldn't do this, could they? It was unjust. It was cruel. It was the Legacy. "Your honor--"
"When they feel you can and will comply with Legacy standards, your sentence will be reevaluated. Court officers, remove the criminal and escort him to prison transport," the judge ordered.
"You can't do this!" Chase shouted as two Zeniths grabbed his elbows. "I'm not insane!"
The judge's lips turned up in a callous and cruel smile. Chase could see the malice in his eyes. The red light faded back into the wall. "By the time they are done with you, you will be," the judge said before the Bands screen fizzled to black.
SF: Thank you so much, is the story to do anything with the earth, and us human beings, or it is just there, what do your characters look
AB: My characters are human. I haven't dabbled with aliens. :o) And while some planets in the Circeae system have earth-like qualities, there is no relation to the reality we know. I use a 24 hour day cycle, a 365 day year...so some of the things familiar to us are used, but it's not intended to be drawn from previous or future earthlings. :o)
SF: We have another event coming up, and it was a wonderful one hour time with you, such a pleasure, thank you so much.
AB: The pleasure was mine. Thank you, Shah, for supporting authors in such a great way! :o)
Well, today is my birthday. It's been a really great day! I started out with church, came home and hung out with my family, baked a pumpkin cake, and just chilled. I also allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted! Oh, I also submitted Outlaw to Harper Voyager publishers. Exciting times, I tell you!
All day long, people have wished me a happy day. I'm so grateful for awesome friends! But you know, I think I got my big birthday present that simply cannot be topped back in July when I won that writing contest and soon turned into a published author. It was the realization of a lifelong dream. When I started down this path, I said I wanted to be published before I turned 40. God did it a year early! (Yes, do the math...you can figure out how old I am.)
I'm just a few days away from my first official book signing. I can't wait! I'll post about that after it happens. I'm sure I'll have all kinds of terrific stories to share!
This really has been a stellar year, which amazes me because the last couple of years kind of stunk. It just goes to show, as my husband is fond of saying, "It came to pass." God has rich blessings in store if we just hang on. Take it from me.
Blessings and joy to you!
Yesterday, I had an amazing opportunity to video-chat with a class of third graders. They were all the way across the country. Before I go any further, I must state technology blows me away. I remember when my dad would bring the computer—a huge box—home from the school where he taught. We used to use encyclopedias and card catalogues. I know I sound like an old man, but seriously, we are fortunate to have such technology.
So back to the third graders. They asked some really great, insightful questions. And when we were finished, I was beyond blessed! It was so neat to see their faces light up as I got to speak with each of them individually. And they really liked the fact that I worked at Disneyland.
Before Asylum came out, I struggled as an author. I was going through the process—sending out queries, receiving rejection, wondering if I really had what it takes. I followed Twitter closely every day, trying to find tips that might help. I listened to every agent/writer/publisher I possibly could and asked questions when it was allowed.
Now that I'm on the other side—published—I'm discovering the responsibility I have toward aspiring authors. Sure, I could shirk it off and tell people to go away, but I'm not like that. And I know what that feels like. Long ago, I made the decision to be approachable. I want to help people. I may not be a teacher, but I can sure share my experience. God placed me here "for such a time as this." I will honor Him by doing all I can to help writers.
So if you're an author, and you have a question about writing, please send me an email or a comment. I'll be happy to answer. It may not be the right answer, but I'll share with you what I know.
Last post, I told you about Outlaw. I've reread it, and I love it as much now as I did writing it. I will be submitting it to Harper Voyager, as they have opened to submissions for a two-week timeframe. Perhaps something will come of it. Prayers would be appreciated.
Yesterday, I pulled out my manuscript that started the whole series - Valor. This is the story of Cam Gray and Selah Clairet, both of whom are minor characters in Asylum. It also gives background information on the Ghosts, Redic Clairet, and Seraph. Oh, my goodness, how I adore these stories! I see them all as movies in my head. I've just translated them to the page...and I hope that I've done them justice.
When I first started writing Valor, I truly knew nothing about writing other than what I'd learned in grade school English classes. Within one scene, I would use different points-of-view. Writers call that head bouncing. You see what all the characters are thinking and feeling at once. That's a no-no, unless you're J.R.R. Tolkien. Which I am not.
I also used flashbacks. While that's a popular element in movies and television shows, in books - it's another no-no.
Needless to say, Valor needs to be rewritten. I've started into it, and it's already much stronger than it was. I'm really excited about this story! I'm now integrating the flashback into the timeline of the story, so I'm going back through in outline form to knock that out. It will come together.
An update on Asylum: I have a local book signing coming up soon. I'm really looking forward to that! I've heard back from the Barnes & Noble where I used to work. We'll get to set up a signing there. I'm hoping to get a Christian bookstore (another former place of employment!) And I put together a list of places to send a press release. WestBow Press just redesigned their website (looks fabulous!) and posted Asylum on their homepage. And as you can see on my homepage, the video interview I did with WestBow has gone live.
If you've read Asylum, would you consider going to the WestBow Press site and leave a comment? Or you could write a brief review on Amazon! I would very much appreciate it. There is no marketing better than word-of-mouth!
Blessings to you all!
Award-winning sci-fi author * Christ follower, wife, and mom * broadcast content producer. And yes, I am a real duchess. http://amzn.to/2eLTlH3