Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Writing A Lot

People ask me how I can write so many books so fast. Since 2002, I've written eight books, and I'll finish books nine and ten by the end of this year.

All I can say is "I don't know" (yeah, so helpful). But I really don't stop to analyze how I do it or why I do it. I just do it.

I carry my books around in my head a long time before they get committed to paper. I make notes, though I don't usually do a complete synopsis--unless I'm doing a proposal or my editor asks for one in advance.

When I sit down to write, I write for four-five hours at a stretch. I can write ten to fifteen double-spaced pages a day without sweating. At twenty I'm ready to call it quits. I can do twenty-five, but then I'm pooped.

I like writing this way. I dump the story out in a rough draft, and it's done. Writing the entire novel in the space of weeks instead of months keeps everything in focus. It isn't just what happens in the story that I need to remember, but the mood and feeling of the story. What I write in January sure isn't going to be what I write in August, even if I manage to remember every detail about the plot.

It helps, yes, that I don't have an outside job. Writing is my full-time job. When did writing become my full-time job? When I made the hard decision to make it my full-time job. Soon after that, surprise, surprise, I sold my first book.

I work with an Alpha Smart at the coffee house where I have breakfast, and I work in my office at home. I have caller ID so I can see if the interrupting phone call is important (family, agent, editors, friends) or can be ignored (telemarketers). Sometimes I go to another coffee house in the afternoon (where they have great iced tea) and work there. I don't work in the library, because, ironically, it's too noisy.

I also get so pulled into my stories that I don't realize that five hours have passed and twenty pages have been written. I live the story and my fingers just write down the words.

That said, I do revise these dumps of rough drafts. No one, I mean no one, gets to see my books until I've picked them apart and put them back together again.

But the rough draft is half the battle. Revision is easy.

Writing is hard work. Sometimes my brain hurts and I just can't come up with another sentence. Other days the words pour out of me.

You know what? When I go back and read the entire draft, I can't tell the difference between the poured out words and the ones I beat my head against the keyboard for.

The lesson. Write anyway! even if you can't think of another thing to say about the heroine's eyes. Get past it by writing anything, by leaving space between brackets [   ] meaning you'll do it later, or by jumping to a scene you have already worked out.

The last thing I'll say is: If you can manage to write one page a day, Terrific! If you manage to write thirty, Terrific! It is not how fast you produce a book, but the quality of the book that comes out. The readers will never know how long it took you to write the book, but whether or not they love it.

Why am I writing four books this year? Because I signed contracts to write those four books, and I'm going to do them. On time. Would I do that by choice? No. I'd love to write only two books a year so I'd have more time with the revisions. But I write both romances and mysteries for two different publishers, so it's my own darned fault!

Anyway, back to writing. Wish me luck. :)
If you want to know about Alpha Smart, look here: (

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Meet my friend--

Everyone should have such friends, eh?

CJ Hollenbach is a cover model, writer, and all around nice guy. When he's not modeling, he writes (published), and does a little acting on the side. He's appearing on some Ellora's Cave covers just now and has more upcoming. Hopefully, I'll get him on one of my own books, soon!

I met CJ while interviewing him for my radio show, and then again at the RT convention in Kansas City. He kindly showed me around the convention a little and helped me get my newbie feet wet.

Read some of CJ's articles on his Web site He's got a sharp sense of humor and a dry tone that's fun to read. You can see more pics of him there, too, and sign up for his newsletter.

So, check out CJ, and have a fun-filled day!

Jennifer Ashley

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Fab Fourth

I had a great long weekend with friends at a wild and wacky scifi convention. I didn't dress up, but admired other people's costumes. Even Darth Vader was there.

The best part was catching up with long-distance friends and purchasing their CD--I know incredibly talented people. I don't write much fantasy or scifi any more but like to hang with those who do. (Check out the stories and novels of Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff; she has an amazing imagination and is an excellent writer.)

I sent off yet another proposal for a historical romance to my agent today. It's funny and sweet and a little off the wall as usual.

And now, after I hit a stretch of saying I didn't want to write any more pirates, I want to write more pirates! I guess I just like 'em. (Big, brawny men who don't take nothing from nobody--what's not to like?) ;)

Jennifer Ashley