Pushcart Prize nominee Ash Krafton’s work has appeared in Absent Willow Review, Mad Scientist Journal, Expanded Horizons, Silver Blade, and Bete Noire. She’s also the author of novel-length fiction, including the Demimonde trilogy as well as The Heartbeat Thief (under the pen name AJ Krafton). She’s a member of SFPA and resides in the heart of the Pennsylvania coal region with her family and bossy German Shepherd dog.
How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I’m a pharmacist by day, but I’d always been a writer in my head. It wasn’t until 2005 or so that I actually started acting like one. J I started writing a novel, more as a hobby than anything…but when the idea for BLEEDING HEARTS (Demimonde #1) came along, I decided that I really wanted to pursue the story and complete it just for a sense of accomplishment. (Quite a feat for me to finish anything in those days, as I had two small children at home, ready to undo anything I did!) I started studying writing and editing, reading books on the craft and taking online workshops, and joined my local writer’s group.
Once I was ready to shop it, I started the sequel—AND the third book—while waiting to hear back from agencies. I also wrote poetry and short stories, and had many of those pieces published in print and online magazines. I worked with an agent for a little less than a year then ended up selling the book on my own to a small press in 2011. The Demimonde trilogy was published over the next three years.
What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
There is a huge learning curve in the beginning and I think a lot of us go into this business with an established set of expectations. Trouble is, the first lesson you learn is to forget what you think you know.
Take time to observe others who are ahead of you on the path to publication. Learn from their highs and their lows. Learn the craft of writing. Learn the ins and outs of the business itself. Reset your expectations and the keep writing, keep submitting, keep getting your stories out there.
Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?
I have a blog addiction—so I could probably just go through my inbox and list my favorite subscriptions. QueryTracker is a great place to start (okay, I’m biased since I write for them) but aspiring writers can learn a lot about the craft by checking out their blog (and the forum on the website, too. Yep, biased. Sorry.) I also like the Writer Unboxed blog.
As an indie writer, I find Joanna Penn’s and Susan Kaye Quinn’s sites immensely helpful. As for books, there are so many good ones, I’d be better off taking a picture of my bookshelf. To name one of my favorites, I’d pick the Writing the Breakout Novel set by Donald Maass. Definitely turned my first novel’s first draft into a book that really felt like a book.
What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
I’ll always be a spec fic kind of girl. Fantasy, mostly. Favorite authors (if I can name them without fan girling): Mercedes Lackey, Melanie Rawn, Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris. I also have huge book crushes on Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, and Stephen King. Those three ruined me for living in reality forever.
What tips do you have for finding time to write?
The first step is realizing that writing is 90% mental, 10% ink. Writing isn’t just banging on keyboards or scribbling in notebooks. It’s working out a plotline, filling out the details of your characters, deciding on a setting, imagining the dialog. And that part of writing is all mental.
You always have time to write—it’s finding time to get it on paper that can be tough. So, for that, I carry a notebook (and a digital recorder in case inspiration hits while I’m driving.)
Do you prefer to outline a story in advance or write on the fly? Why?
Depends on the story. Usually, I pants my way through most of the first draft, before I do a chapter outline and see what exactly is going on. Once I see the general shape of things, I plot the rest, adding and subtracting elements so that the plot is structured and satisfying.
Unless I’m writing romance. That genre needs a certain structure in order to deliver what readers expect from a good romance. In that case, I may pants a few scenes just to get a feel for the characters and their relationship but I have a solid plot and structure in place before I sit down for the first draft.
I also will take time to plot when I want to get a lot done in a short amount of time—such as during NaNoWriMo. I’ve found that I can get more words done in thirty days if I know where the story is going. Writing the actual story is just like connecting the dots.
How do you deal with rejections?
I submit my work someplace else. A story or poem isn’t a perfect fit for every publication. In the beginning of my writing career, I took rejections very personally. That’s a huge mistake. Our work needs to be published in the places where the audience will most appreciate it…and the editors know who their readers are and what they want. If an editor says “no”, it just means that there’s probably a more receptive audience waiting at another journal.
Publishing is all about finding the right place for your work. A rejection is nothing more than a stepping stone to finding that place.
What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
I feel a little bit like switching writing gears. The past few years I’ve been focused on getting several novels completed and produced, and I’m really happy with the way they’ve come out. I’ve got three or four other novels in various stages of production but when I sit down to work on one, I find myself distracted by shorter projects. Maybe it’s time to embrace those. (Or, maybe by setting deadlines for them, I’ll be scared off J )
One of these shorter projects is an urban fantasy novella series, THE DEMON WHISPERER. At the moment, I’m publishing the first episode, CHARM CITY, one chapter at a time on Wattpad. There are four or five books planned in this series, so eventually I suppose I won’t be able to call it a “shorter project”. But you know us writers and the way we like to lie to ourselves.
I’ve also been playing in poetry again, as well as flash fiction. I’m lucky to have received a few acceptances since I started re-submitting in October and it’s renewed the creative fire in me.
So, goals: Get more done with THE DEMON WHISPERER, keep writing the short stuff, and maybe even finish the paranormal romance I plotted out and started writing this past NaNoWriMo.
Oh yeah, and finish producing three audio books, including THE HEARTBEAT THIEF.
For the next five years?
I suppose it will be this year times five. I’ve always got something half-written somewhere so there’s no end to the list of Things To Do. If I had to list them, I’d mention two New Adult spec fic novels that will come out under AJ Krafton, as well as a box set release for THE DEMON WHISPERER.
Perhaps I’ll also take on another publishing project for a friend or two. Since becoming an indie author, I’ve decided that everyone has a book inside them, and I want to help them get it out into the world. I’m finishing up the print version to go with a friend’s ebook and I really enjoyed the process of formatting and cover design for him. I don’t see me dropping writing to become a full-time publisher, though. It’s more like an artisanal hobby.
Is there anything you’d like to plug? Feel free to share a link.
I’m just happy to invite readers to stop by my website, www.AshKrafton.com. Lots of books to see and links to click. Come on over!
I’d also love it if you’d stop by to check out my newest story on Wattpad. CHARM CITY is here: https://www.wattpad.com/story/56172477-charm-city-the-demon-whisperer-1
Thanks for the chat!