Official Website of Ashley M Christman

Author of The Witching Hour and Requiem

Blog

Get the latest information about what's going on with Ashley or read her latest musings.

view:  full / summary

Practice Makes Sore (and Perfect)

Posted by ashleymchristman on December 23, 2012 at 11:55 PM

So my new hobby--though I shouldn't call it a hobby, it's a lot of work---is Roller Derby.  It takes a lot of time to get your body and skills to the level it should be to compete. One hour a day/5x wk of gym/work out time. Half of that is cardio to build endurance, the other half is doing exercise to strengthen my core and legs. I also have to relearn skating.

Yup. It's not at all like riding a bike.

I haven't been on a set of roller skates since I was ten. That's sixteen almost seventeen years that I haven't skated to my heart's content. Since I'm a nurse, I know a thing or two about injuries and the human body. Before I hit the track with the derby girls, I wanted to make sure that I had some skills. The Roller Garden, in St. Louis Park, MN (if you live in the Twin Cities Metro and want to check them out, visit http://www.rollergarden.com/), offers classes for adults on Saturdays and Mondays. I signed up and went to class on Saturday. It was interesting. Of course I started from square one, learning the basics of marching on my skates so I don't fall over, balance, stopping, and most importantly...falling.

Its an art to fall when skating. I say that because you literally have to think about it and practice in order to do it correctly. The number one injury resulting from skating is wrist fractures. Trailing behind that is tailbone injuries. The art of falling properly protects those areas.

The first step is to lower yourself enough so that you are low to the ground. Extend one leg, lean to the side, keep your arms out and not down and fall on one butt cheek. It's kind of hard to describe it without getting into too much detail, but let me just say, it's hard. My lovely instructor had me practice this a lot yesterday as well as getting up without using my hands (because who wants to have their fingers rolled over). After a couple of bad falls that left me saying oww, I finally got the concept. Today, though, my bum is sore.

It'll totally be worth it though. I'm looking forward to not having any preventable injuries. :D

On that note, I leave you with one final thought: Happy Holidays!


Non-writing related activities

Posted by ashleymchristman on December 13, 2012 at 8:25 PM

There's a perception that all writers do is sit at their computers and type away on book after book, neglecting family, friends, and life in general. Well, the good ones don't do this. The good ones understand that life experience is the very corner stone of compelling characters.That's not to say you can't write amazing fantasy worlds, but you're characters are going to be pretty limited in their world view.

I'm working on this myself. It's important for me to have experiences so that I can than translate that into 3d characters. I'm going to Europe in 2013 for the experience. I'm going to be doing Roller Derby this year (awesome, hoping to be a blocker). The point is this will be the year that I add to the list of hobbies I have so that my characters can continue to get interesting.

Writing Soundtracks

Posted by ashleymchristman on December 2, 2012 at 8:00 PM

I have very eclectic tastes in music and that often comes through in my character's choices of favorite music. From Tabitha in the Blessed Damned's love of Soul music, to Derek Kay from Dead Before Midnight and his love of blues and Jazz.. The Witching Hour's Tuesday Peters loved classical music--specifically the romance period and Grace in Nightingale had a penchant for rock music and glam rock. When I write, I often have a soundtrack that works itself out according to the tone I need for the manuscript and its scenes. This is never more apparent than now, as I write the end of the world.

Forever Night (working title) is my newest work in progress. It's playlist is aptly named, Music for the Apocalypse and is varied and eclectic. Each of the main characters have their own theme song, there's the lover's theme, and the theme that actually sets the tone of their relationship, and then there is the tone of their world. I plan on one day giving the list away in it's entirety, but it's six hours of fabulous.

Here's a sampling:

Try-P!nk (David and George's relationship tone)

I'll Be Seeing You- Billie Holiday (The Lover's theme)

Beat the Devil's Tattoo-Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (David's theme)

Lean into the Fall-Mona (George's theme)

Wild and Wasted Waters-Kill it Kid (Forever Night theme)


The list is quite varied, but as you can see, it really does conjure images of a world after the end of the world.

Music is a powerful catalyst for creativity. It inspires scenes, characters, and can help speed a struggling writing session along.

I always write to a soundtrack and keep the same soundtrack while editing. Music is the very thing that helps me explore the very depths of a character's soul and figure out what they want and who they're willing to fight for. In the case of FOREVER NIGHT, David is going to fight for George and what they have. George is fighting for the lives of everyone around her. Their songs have to reflect how they see the world and themselves.

2012--A Year of Transition

Posted by ashleymchristman on November 29, 2012 at 9:35 PM

As 2012 draws to a close, I'm taking the chance to reflect on it.

I was burned and had skin graft surgery which changed the way I look at myself. It forced me to take some time off running, but I came back and managed to finish a half marathon. 13.1 miles, y'all. I don't know if anyone reading this has tried to run 13.1 miles, but it's hard...really hard. You want to quit, you want to stop and give up, but once you're in it, you realize you've come too far to give up. It's like a metaphor for life. It's hard, you have to work hard to get through it.

I finished the half in 3 hours. Not the fastest runner, but I'm still much faster than someone on the couch or someone who never tried.

I've kept writing, but it's been slow going compared to more prolific writers. In my defense, I've been busy. Working as and editor has kept me busy. I love working with authors, designers, marketing teams, etc to make people's dreams come true. I remember my first publishing contract. It was a rush...an amazing, sometimes stressful rush. I wouldn't trade that feeling for the world. I also remember my first editor. He was tough on me, just like I am now to my authors. He taught me a lot and made me a better writer. In turn, I hope my authors are learning from me. I hope that in the wee hours of the morning, when they're burning the midnight oil, they curse me, but in the end know that I have their best interests at heart.

When 2013 rolls in, I'm looking forward to not only embracing the changes that come. As I get older, I'm learning a better not quit attitude. I'm also learning to roll with the punches.

Seems like a good start.

My thoughts on Trayvon Martin

Posted by ashleymchristman on March 31, 2012 at 2:30 PM

Those who know me that I tend to have strong opinions about current events, but I shy away from posting them too publicly because I feel that I shouldn't be pushing my opinions on others. In the wake of what has been going on with Trayvon Martin, I bit my tongue, waiting for more evidence to come out before I formed an opinion. I have one now and I am going to lay it plain.

First, I should start off by saying that I think that people have a right to defend themselves if they are imminent danger. If George Zimmerman had been in danger, I'd have said he had the right to do whatever he felt was necessary to guarantee his safety.

That wasn't the case.

Zimmerman had a history of calling 911 to report "suspicious activity". 9 out of 10 times it was an African American in the neighborhood and when the police investigated it, the call turned out to be erroneous. Trayvon's father lived in the community, and on the night he was murdered (I don't use that word lightly), Trayvon was walking home from a conveinent store after buying skittles and other items--I mean, how much more childlike can you be? This kid was wearing a hoodie. A hoodie! Everyone has one of those in their closet (I've got three), everyone wears these when its not cold enough to bust out the big coat, but cool enough that you need protection. It is not the universal sign for thug by any stretch of the imagination. It's an article of clothing, sorry Mr. Geraldo, it doesn't mean anything and I loathe the thought of having to tell young black men that they can't wear a certain article of clothing because they'll be mistaken for a gang banger. White kids wear it too and I hate turning anything into a race issue, but I think fair is fair.

Anyway, Mr. Zimmerman followed Trayvon for sometime, even after the dispatcher from the local PD told him to stop. Whatever else happened, we know there was a verbal altercation right before Zimmerman shot Trayvon. We know this from witnesses who heard what happened that night. He then held a bleeding unarmed teen down as he bled to death and didn't bother to call 911 again until the kid was already dead. It seems he did this to cover his ass and protect himself under those stand your ground laws.

Zimmerman claimed to have sustained a broken nose, and head injury requiring stitches. I saw the photos that were taken after the incident within hours and days. I'm not an idiot. I'm a nurse and if someone had a broken nose, they'd have some bruising around their eyes (orbital bruising). There would be blood and stitches don't come out over night. There were no signs of a head injury or laceration that would require stitches. This leads me to believe there was no physical altercation. 

What makes me sad is the smere campaign against the victim. Yes, Trayvon is a victim. So what he got suspended for traces of pot. How many kids nowadays smoke pot in their rooms? How many more parents are doing it when they think noone is looking? Hell, just legalize the stuff. There is no real reason it should be illegal. I know some of you disagree, but still, think of how silly it is to smere a murder victim in order to keep the perpertrator free.

What makes me sad is this has turned into an issue of race because yet another black kid has been killed and instead of seeking justice for the victim, some members of the media are putting the victim on trial instead. The media and Mr. Zimmerman have turned this into an issue of race.

In the scope of history 40 years is not that long for racial equality. There are a lot of racially motivated fears harbored by ignorant people and continually fed into by ultra-conservative news sources like FOX news.The fact that Geraldo made his blanketed statements equating this to race (which he has since tried to back-peddle on) just highlights this issue further.

The police in that city should've done their jobs and investigated Trayvon's death like they would anyother killing. If a black man would've killed a white kid, you bet your bottom dollar they'd have arrested him by now.

I hope the DOJ files charges against Zimmerman and the police officers involved. As a black woman, if someday I bring a child into the world (even if they are mixed race), my child will be considered a black child. I want to be able to look at my child, boy or girl, and not worry that some idiot is going to hurt them because of their complexion. I want to be able to say that the promise of 'Justice for All' applies to them as well. And I know that the Martin Family wanted to say the same thing to their children, which doesn't seem to be the case right now.

My heart goes out to the Martin family. And like them, my heart burns for justice. I yearn for George Zimmerman to get the fate that he deserves and for this case to go to trial. I hope for a guilty verdict. I know this will not bring Trayvon back to his family, but I hope that if they get the justice they so richly deserve, that they can at least start the healing process. No one should have to suffer like this. And its shameful that they haven't seen even a glimmer of justice yet. Zimmerman walks free, Trayvon is in a box in the ground. His only crime: Being in the wrong place when a paranoid psycho decided to shoot.

What now: How my life changed in a second

Posted by ashleymchristman on January 28, 2012 at 5:45 PM

January 15, 2012, I was cooking as normal and a small grease fire started. I went to put it out with a fire extinguisher but got splattered with grease in the process. My house didn't burn down and the dog was okay but I suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns on my hand and legs.

I ended up in the hospital overnight and was sent home to recuperate. I returned to the hospital a week later and was told the only way to heal my burns without them getting worse is a skin graft.

Now this is a major surgery and there are some interesting videos on the topic on youtube that even detail the surgery, so I won't be detailing all the gore here. Needless to say I'm pretty scared of the procedure and the pain afterward, but I'm trying to stay optimistic.

There are a lot of thoughts going through my head. I'm worried about scars and disfigurement, which I'm told is pretty normal. I'm also quite depressed at the moment. It may seem silly to worry about such things especially since I still have my life, but I can't help it. I'm only human and in a society that judges people based on appearance, I'm worried about how the world and my loved ones will perceive me.

The other night I had a thought that I am grateful to live in Minnesota, where I can wear pants and gloves most of the year and no one will think it strange or out of place. I also lamented the loss of 30s, 40s, and 50s fashion, where pantyhose and gloves were en vogue. I'm seriously thinking about bringing it back, a la Dita Von Teese.

I have also been reevaluating my life. How quickly things changed for me and how if I'd made different decisions in the wake of this accident, I could have lost everything, including my own life. I know that I can live without stuff, but I couldn't live without my dog if I'd been the reason for his demise or if Tom had been home and been hurt. I've also thought about the things that I want to do with my life. I want to live, truly live, but that's scary and hard. Its easier to live by everyone else's rules and expectations about what you should do with your life. I've played it safe. Too afraid to take a risk. Too afraid of my own shadow.

In the wake of this, as soon as I am able to get around on my own, I am going to be living my life the way I want to. Follow my dreams and not be afraid to take leaps and bounds to get to my goals, even when I'm scared.

Okay, there's my update on what's going on with me. It was kind of cathartic to write this post. The last thing I want to say to everyone who's been wishing me well on Twitter, Facebook, and even via email is: Thank you. It truly does mean a lot to know I have such a large family of friends, loved ones and readers.


-Ash

Update

Posted by ashleymchristman on December 26, 2011 at 9:20 PM

So I've been busy. Busy doing what? Well, I've been writing and doing research and working a day job (yeah I still have one of those). So busy that blogging hasn't really been on my mind. Since I've been gone for a while, I think I'll talk about what's been going on.

Nightingale is now available and I've been working on the follow up to that as well as a new series. Writing series is time consuming because I have to do more worldbuilding than I've ever had to do and make sure the two don't meet.

Been working...not fun...I know.

Been catching up with family and friends. Its great to reconnect with people who know you and put up with your obsessive compulsive writing habits. Tonight I celebrated my bf's birthday. We're planning for our sixth anniversary, which is in February. :)

I'm thinking of updating the website design. not really sure what I'll be doing next, but it will have to be in between books. Also, going to be hosting a giveaway, where one lucky winner will win all three of my novels, plus a never before seen short story. Sweet gift for a book lover.

That's all for now.

Goals and other updates

Posted by ashleymchristman on August 21, 2011 at 3:45 PM

I'm back in the north and loving it. I missed my family and it was hard being away from them for almost a month. I had a lot of fun, saw a lot of cool things, hung out with a really cool person and now I'm back to life as normal.

In other news, life is not so normal. I've received the arc for Nightingale. I always enjoy that. Its the finished product.

I've also begun running for fitness. I never thought I'd say it, but running helps me focus and I like it. I've worked my ass off the last couple of weeks (both literally and figuratively and pushed my body further than I thought it could go. I'm going to be doing the Minnesota Mile race in a couple of weeks and then in October, I'm going to be running a 5k for charity. I'm excited about both. Its a new opportunity to test myself and prove that I can do it. I'd like to finish the 5k (which is 3.1 miles) in about 30 minutes.

I'm working on the sequel for Nightingale, also working on The Blessed Damned.

Last night I got a really nice surprise. I got to talk to one of my BFFs from childhood. It was weird, we pretty much fell into the same pattern we were in when we were in school, like no time had passed (I mean the ease of conversation, I don't mean the same juvenile behavior). I thoroughly enjoyed it and didn't realize how much I missed him until we spent two hours talking.


That's all for now. I'll keep you updated on the 5k training.

Look Out Tenessee

Posted by ashleymchristman on July 8, 2011 at 7:51 PM

Originally my job was supposed to send me to Albuqerque, then they changed it to Jacksonville and now the final verdict is Arkansas. But what's best about being shipped to Arkansas? I'm 2 hours from Memphis. Meaning, myself and Sonya Clark, the author of Mojo Queen and Bring on the Night are getting together to cause mayhem. Okay, not really mayhem, but I'm talking about partying it up in Memphis.

For those of you who don't know, Memphis is the original music mecca. Its where Elvis, Johnny Cash, B.B King, Jerry Lee Lewis and many others got their starts. It's the birth place of Rock n' Roll, R&B, and the Blues as recognized musical genres.

Yes, I will be checking out Graceland, Stax, Sun Records, and quite a few other sites while I'm in town. And Sonya has assured me she's taking me to an honest to goodness Hoodoo shop.

If you're in Memphis and want to say hi, you can catch me on Beale St.

I just love shiny new covers

Posted by ashleymchristman on May 14, 2011 at 8:22 PM

One of the funnest parts of having a book published is getting the cover art. There's just something about seeing your name on a great piece of art that makes it, well a piece of art.

When my publisher delivered the artwork for Nightingale, I did a little happy dance. Be glad you didn't see it, my happy dance is rather awkward. I joyfully danced up and down posted it everywhere.

Now if only I could find an awesome artist to do comic style renderings of the characters for some promotional stuff.


Rss_feed