Ashleigh D.J. Cutler's Blog
February 20, 2018
September 20, 2017
— Ashleigh D.J. Cutler
So this month, I went to a local author event, and had the pleasure of meeting several Ohio authors. It was a very pleasant experience but also has given me the chance to see Rise of the Dragonfly in a physical store.
One day I want to go to an event. And I want to say the quote at the top of this post. I believe in that quote, I believe there's a time to move on and let your fans explore your world and the what ifs as an author.
My Patreon now offers access to the plots from my finished Rise books, as well as the unfinished/edited chapters to my recent project, Watching Shadows. With NaNoWriMo just around the corner, I may be posting chapters again. Read along, and get the finished, edited ebook free.
That's all I have to say, really. Check ya all later. Thank you for following me, for reading, just... thank you.
March 22, 2017
So I'm still in the middle of my first few days of Patreon and getting ready for Camp NaNoWriMo. This led to be checking out my other accounts and places where readers can see my work. I've recently updated my FictionPress page, adding the preview chapters for “Path of the Dragon” as well as a sneak peek at “Watching Shadows”. I've also posted a vent fanfiction piece based on my struggles to make a likable character out of an egocentric jerk.
I am currently working on getting the rest of “Watching Shadows” ready for April just in case it turns out that's what I end up working on. I'd rather be working on “The Windwater Pack” but if I don't have the script by then I'll have “Watching Shadows” ready as a back-up.
As for “Rise of the Dragonfly”, I have the plot ready for the third book in the series. “Heir of the Dragon” takes place, again, two years after the events of its predecessor. Abby is finally going to college at Ohio Dominican, but finally living her dreams isn't all its cracked up to be. “Heir” will likely be the last “Rise” book, at least for a while. I refuse to let any of my series become dragged on for the sake of it. Fanfiction exists for a reason.
Speaking of, in case I have not already made my stance clear: I support fan works inspired by my own. I got my start telling stories mostly by doing crossovers in my head. Sometimes its helpful to start out with the hard work already done for you. Characters, settings, rules... all that's a real pain to create out of nothing. So more power to you. Unlike some authors, I do read fanfiction of my work. It's highly unlikely I'll ever use anything close to what my readers and fans come up with, so it doesn't bother me. I'd actually like to one day publish collections of fanworks and pay the authors, but that's a long way from now.
Thank you for reading. Check ya later.
March 19, 2017
Sorry for being AWOL around here so much. I've been busy getting ready for Camp NaNoWriMo. Also waiting... and waiting... and waiting to get the sequel to Mask of the Dragon back from my second editor. Not only waiting for that, but for the script for The Windwater Pack so I can adapt it back into a novella.
I've set up a YouTube channel for Rainbow Wolf Productions, where everything the staff feels should be publicly shared will be uploaded. So far we have an intro video and a rough-to-sorta-clean animation clip.
When I first wrote Mask, I posted my rough chapters as I went for fans/readers to see on deviantART. I loved the feedback, but as a professional author I cannot do that anymore. Posting the rough chapters risks the reader deciding since they've already read it, there's no reason to buy it. Even though I made a point to give a Smashwords coupon to everyone who read Mask during November that year. So I started considering my options so I could still share the stories as I go without basically... to be blunt screwing myself over. I believe I found a solution.
I've read stories where the author posted them free to read... only to withhold the last few chapters and go "Buy the book to see how it ends!" I understand the logic of this, but its such a poor move to me that I could never do it. Patreon offers the perfect compromise. For a low month pledge, patrons get access to my stories as I write them, and any other stories posted that way previously. If they read all the way to the end, they can get a Smashwords coupon to get the ebook free.
With Camp NaNoWriMo coming up in April, I'll have a new story to share with my readers then. Might be TWP, if I get the script back in time. Whatever I work on this April will be my first Patreon-posted story. What that will be depends on what I have ready then.
Click here to check out my Patreon.
Check ya later!
November 28, 2016
I have read several “how to write” books. If You Can Talk, You Can Write by Joel Saltzman, The Writer's Handbook that's published every year, etc. Most have stuck with me in one way or another, but Terry Brooks' Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life contains the one chapter that I credit with saving my fledgling writing career. In the chapter, “Tough Love”, he tells the story of his second book attempt, and just how he felt when his editor bluntly told him it was a mess. Mr. Books' stubborn opinion that the editor had to be wrong only for him to find Lester del Rey was exactly right stuck in my head. Which was a good thing, as I found myself right where Mr. Brooks had been in 2015.
The back story here is that in 2010, I wrote a story that eventually became titled The Windwater Pack on the WolfQuest forum. It did modestly well, readers enjoyed it. TWP was never meant to be more than a fun what-if story. I have... really I can't count how many stories and ideas I have in my head. TWP borrowed characters from one of them and played with a different set up. It was fun (if hard work sticking to the site's guidelines) and I wrote 40k words by the time I was done.
The only problem was I got attached to the new characters and some of the events. I wanted to keep them, even though TWP had 0 to do with what I called the “true” story. So I did my best to shoe-horn the two unrelated stories together, connecting them like a kid with two wooden crates, old boards, a can of nails and a hammer. The end result was just as unstable, but like the kid I saw a masterpiece. I had kept the scenes the readers loved (I thought) and built on what I had previously with the “true” story too. It was better that the original even!
About this point is where I got the super-bright idea to make an animated film out of it. With zero animation experience. How hard could it be? Lemme tell you, hard. I ended up looking for animators to help with the project, one of which who stuck with it from that point on. We were making progress, right? I even found a couple more people to help with things like backgrounds, etc.
It was the background artist that pointed out the character designs just... sorta lacked any life or way to really tell the characters apart. This was due to two things: I suck at character design, and 2. I was dead-set on keeping a realistic style. One of the animators at the time even agreed we needed to simplify etc at least a little. So the background artist did a mock-up sketch of two of the characters, the animator did a concept sheet and ref for another, and basically I was out-voted. I'm not stupid, I'm a team player. I get that you have to work with what people's skill levels are etc. (No offense to anyone) So I accepted that and we moved on.
I don't quite remember how the background artist (now one of the character designers) and I got into discussing TWP's story. However it happened, we did, and I showed it to her. And got a reality check I refused to cash for almost a month or more. I was legit a brick wall. No, this wasn't a problem, yes it all made sense if you took into consideration the rest of the series, etc etc. I just wouldn't budge. I wouldn't listen. I couldn't. I wouldn't.
It was at that point that I remembered the chapter I mentioned earlier. I remembered Mr. Brooks saying he'd have to read Mr. del Rey's comments if he had any hope of disputing them. I told myself, how can I argue if I don't let her finish? How could I decide I was right and she was wrong if I didn't even know what she thought? If I wouldn't listen to what she had to say?
So I shut up. I said “here, have at it, I'll wait until you're done.” And when she was, I was right where Mr. Brooks had been, facing the reality that I was wrong, and my “masterpiece” was a near-complete mess. It just as salvageable, as he later used concepts and characters, but I was too close to the material to do anything with it. I was stuck with my version of “canon” and couldn't fix it.
Enter same artist/writer, who took over as scriptwriter to save the sinking ship of a story. As of yet, I've only seen snippets and have only a vague idea of the direction the new story's going. Even so, I have seen she writes my characters better than I do myself. No matter what happens, I know the new version will be a 100 times better than either the original or my revamp.
In closing, I want to say thank you Mr. Brooks for sharing your story. Because without it I might still be impersonating a brick wall and we wouldn't be where we are today with production. Nor would the rest of my stories be improving, because most were just as tangled. And I want to thank my scriptwriter for her tough love.
Lesson learned: Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes, you're wrong.
October 28, 2016
Most stories with anthropomorphic animals tend to make them monogamous. But in real life, lions and cheetahs are not. When I write about animals, I try and reflect as much of their real behavior if I can. This has been true since the late 1990's, but became far more pronounced after writing the original version of The Windwater Pack. Think what you will of WolfQuest, the site will force you to not go far from real behavior. So, I'm thinking of addressing the reality in Watching Shadows. Here's a list of what I'm considering:
So stay turned for updates on that. Thank you for reading!
October 10, 2016
October 8, 2016
NaNoWriMo is coming as well, and as I should be done with "Path", I plan to start a stand-alone then. I'm really going to need a break for the "Rise of the Dragonfly" world when this is over. Have no fear, once the NaNoWriMo project is completed, I'll get to work on the 3rd book.
My November project, at this time, is "Watching Shadows". It's the story of a young lioness who adopts a cheetah cub, and discovers that though she may love him as her own, she cannot prepare him for life without her. Or I might do "Baba and Wana" a tale of wild canines lost in Miami. We'll see then.
That's all for now!
August 29, 2016
June 17, 2016
Two more years. Just two more years. That's what Abby had kept telling herself and now those two years have come and gone. At age 18, she can finally have a say in her own life. She thought she was prepared for the backlash. She was wrong. But she isn't alone. She still has Dominic at her side, his true nature a comfort and a curse. Her new situation still puts strain on her relationships with the people closest to her. Over and over she asks herself if the freedom is worth the pain.
... this world is dangerous.
It all comes to a head when something she was sure she'd settled rises out of the ashes. Abby comes to realize she's leaned on others' strength for too long. She will have to test her wings if she ever hopes to fly - and learn to bend before she breaks."
In July I will tackle the second book of "Rise of the Dragonfly". Some new characters will be joining the cast, with some old friends too. I hope it will be as enjoyable a ride as the first. I'm still doing some planning via the cast etc but otherwise I think we're set.