Once & Future

Charlotte Ashley – Book seller, collector, writer, editor, historian

May 19, 2017

In Which That Escalated Quickly

I’ve said before that I enjoy collaboration. I am not a cabin-in-the-woods writer (unless that cabin has five bedrooms and a huge kitchen, for parties) – I write better with company, with a sounding board, with exchange. I really found my feet as a writer when I joined a local writing group, because even chatting for two hours about writing once a month was enough to open my brain up. I find collaborating energizing.

Which is all very well for me, one of the rare “extroverted writers” of the world, but I worry about my collaborators. Sometimes, I wonder if they regret what they’ve gotten themselves into.

Let me give an example. Let me talk about The Archipelago.

Last year, Andrew Leon Hudson contacted me and asked if I would be interested in collaborating on a Patreon account. By pooling our audiences, multiple authors would reach more readers than just one, he reasoned. And readers, they’d get three stories for the price of one! We’d just have to commit to producing regular material over a long period of time.

Sounds good, right? Sharing, my favourite thing! This should have been an easy ask.

Sure, I replied. But instead of just releasing, you know, ANY OLD WRITING, why don’t we collaborate on the world instead? We could release serial novels in a shared world.

Andrew hesitated, but agreed. He had been burned by a shared world project in the past, but maybe if we were more diligent…

BUT WAIT, I no doubt ploughed right over his concerns. WHAT IF our shared world was COMPETITIVE? People could pick a faction/writer to support, and we could write our stories tactically, like a role playing game!

To his credit, Andrew rose to the occasion, and the Archipelago was born. But our ambition didn’t stop there.

We had soon brainstormed the beginnings of our world and recruited Kurt Hunt to the cause. “This should be easy,” we thought. “A chapter a month, a few thousand words… I can do this in my spare time.”

Ha ha ha.

Then we decided to create a three whole side-plots, for readers who wanted to “declare fealty” to one faction.

Then we decided to properly brand ourselves, and invest in art and design.

Then we decided to allow audience interaction.

Then we decided to launch with a Kickstarter campaign.

Pretty soon, we were committed to at least 5k words of fiction a month, much of it written on the fly, maintaining a Wiki, publishing ebooks, commissioning artists, writing world guides, and more. “Spare time,” indeed.

Bookmarks!

Do I have any regrets?

Absolutely none.

Here’s the thing about Archipelago: every time I mentioned to someone what I was working on, their eyes went wide. Every time I sent a draft to a reader, they returned it covered in exclamation marks. My cousin started writing Archipelago fan-fiction before we had even finalized a chapter.  Something about the world, about the project, just sings to me. I have had more fun writing over the last six months than I had in the preceding two years. I’m buried in it, but happily. There is treasure here.

Today, BlackGate.com are kind enough to host my first Archipelago story, “The Ur-Ring.” This is an introduction to my Nation, Al’Tahj, but also a stand-alone story in its own right. Kurt called it “our banteriest story yet,” and it is, indeed, very banter-y, but also marvelous and mysterious, I hope. You can read it here.

I hope you’ll read along. Starting June 1st, subscribers to our Patreon will receive three Archipelago stories per month. You can subscribe for as little as $1/month! You could also support us at our Kickstarter campaign this month for bonus material and an early chance to have a character, ship or even an island named after you.

Obviously, it serves me entirely to say this story is going to be great, but I’m sincere as well. It’s going to be great. It already is. I am so glad Andrew talked me into it. I hope he and Kurt forgive me for taking them into so much more!

Follow The Archipelago on Twitter and/or Facebook for updates!

May 5, 2017

A Sequel, and Your Chance to Hear It!

I am absolutely thrilled to be able to tell you all that I have sold my sequel to “La Héron” – “The Satyr of Brandenburg” – to F&SF! This will be my 4th F&SF story, but my first sequel, and I’m really excited about it.

Short story writers, we have to get used to killing our darlings. A short story is a brief, stand alone medium. Nobody gets three-story short deals, and selling to the same place more than once is not always easy. You have to make a new case for how awesome your story is every single time you submit. It’s easier to write one and done – close all the loose threads and move on to new characters, new settings, new plots. Because you never know what will happen to it.

But I love La Héron and Alex. I loved them right away, and I knew from the get-go that they had more life in them than one fairy duel. I really, I realized, should have given them a novel right away, but I love the episodic format, meeting up with the same characters every week, or month, or year, for a new adventure. It was a hard sell, but a sell I knew I needed to gun for, because I couldn’t just leave these guys alone. They have adventures to undertake, foes to defeat, and intrigues to uncover.

I have no idea when “The Satyr of Brandenburg” will hit the shelves, but I will be reading from it this weekend at Ad Astra! This is your chance to get a little preview. I’ll be reading in the Markham B suite tomorrow morning at 10:30am – come for my co-readers, Tonya Liburd & Malon Edwards, and stay for a little taste of the further adventures of La Héron. It will be worth it all around!

May 3, 2017

Ad Astra 2017!

Yay, it’s Con Time! Being pretty Toronto-locked, my convention options are few, but choice. Ad Astra’s our biggie, and so I try to be involved in a big way. I’ll be there all weekend, and in addition to my run of panels and readings, I LOVE MEETING PEOPLE so, seriously, don’t be shy. Let’s hang out!

I’ll also be there with Archipelago bookmarks (which look awwwesoooome) and copies of all my published work for sale. I COME WITH LOOT. Yes I do.

If you need to know where to find me, here is my panel schedule:

Reading, Saturday 10:30am – Markham B

I’m the one on the schedule, but I will be hosting the PHENOMENAL local writers Tonya Liburd & Malon Edwards! Come see 3-for-1. If you’re lucky, I might read from my forthcoming “La Heron” sequel, “The Satyr of Brandenburg.”

Starting Them Young: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Picture Books, Saturday 2:00pm – Newmarket

w/ Brandon Draga, Charlotte Ashley, Deanna Laver, Alisse Lee Goldenberg, Carolyn Charron

Nearly everyone who is a fan of genre will look to things like Narnia, the Hobbit, Redwall, or Ender’s Game as their introduction to SF/F, but how much earlier could one be introduced to such things? How do you define what makes a picture book scif-fi or fantasy? What are some examples, classic or new, that illustrate this?

What is this play of Role of which you speak? Saturday 7:00pm – Newmarket

w/ Brandon Draga, Charlotte Ashley, Deanna Laver, Nicole Lavigne

An introduction to the RPG hobby, with a look at a variety of games for the new player,

Crowdfunding Strategies,  Sunday 10:00am – Newmarket

w/ Thomas Gofton, Charlotte Ashley, Beverly Bambury, Darrell Drake, Vanessa Ricci-Thode, Kari Maaren

So you want to fund your film, book, game or invention? Come to this panel and hear the tricks, tips, downfalls and reality of making your next level maneuver in crowdfunding. Learn about the different platforms, styles and methods to help you gain maximum success.

Disrupting the Narrative, Sunday 11:00am – Richmond CD

w/ Rebecca Diem, Charlotte Ashley, Eli K.P. William, Cathy Hird, Vanessa Ricci-Thode, Carolyn Charron

Science fiction and fantasy has the potential to transform our worldview. The inclusion of alternate perspectives and diverse characters help us to re-examine the past, present or future, in our universe or beyond. Inserting new experiences into old narratives shows the limitless potential of stories to inspire us. This panel will look at stories that shake up our perspective, from Steampunk and alternate history to dystopian fantasy.

May 2, 2017

“Sigrid Under the Mountain” is now a Podcast!

It’s new publication day! Are podcasts publications? I’m new enough to this technology that I don’t know the terminology yet – I must be getting old. :/

Sigrid is also old, but, like me, she is too cranky to know it, and wouldn’t care even if she did. I love her, you will love her – I hope you’ll give it a listen.

“Sigrid Under the Mountain” read by Nina Niskanen @ PodCastle.