Tag Archives: writing


Prologue: What does it mean to your story?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the prologue; as if it were a houseguest I’ve booted and now feel terribly about the fact that it’s raining out.

I’ve written three novels and have published two, and each of them —at one point or another—has contained a prologue. In ERAMANE, the prologue ended up being chapter one, with two parts. That’s one heck of a prologue. But the information—although out of sequence with the timeline for my main character—was absolutely pertinent. Under the advice of my editor, I reworked that prologue and formatted it into the two-part chapter, adding a blank page between it and the rest of the book. There is, however, a little sentence on the page that notates a passage of time. It works well no matter how crappy I’m spelling it out here.

In Blood Soaked Ashes, I begin with a short dream sequence that Eramane is remembering, not actually dreaming. It’s not so much a prologue as it is an emotional slap-in-the-face welcome to book two. But when I started drafting book two, it was a prologue.

In my third book, a sci-fi project that I’m querying, I have a combination introduction. During the drafting stages, I had a one page prologue that gave a bit of info about Earth’s history and what happened to my MC’s parents. Then chapter one begins two years prior to the rest of the book. But this didn’t set well with me as I entered the revision stages. It wasn’t pleasing to the eye and it certainly didn’t appeal to me as a reader. I asked advice from an author friend, who also critiqued the MS. Her opinion was this: scrap that prologue. She suggested that I find a way to incorporate the info into the storyline.

But I didn’t want to scrap it and incorporating it would be sooooooooo time consuming! UGGH! Can’t I just leave it and pray that agents will love my words anyway?

That’s a big NO!

Prologues aren’t meant for info dumps because you can’t find a way to layer your story with its purpose. I’m not going to tell you that you should never use a prologue; they obviously serve a purpose and are used by many authors. But do consider the Why and if it’s justified, roll with it.

Something to consider is a quote. At least this was the direction I took. I was staring at my screen and thinking how in the world do I say all this inside of the story? Part of the prologue was absolutely scrap worthy, so I deleted it immediately. But even after that I was left with nearly four lengthy paragraphs that were integral to the story. Or so I thought. I read those paragraphs over and over until it was memorized. I thought about the words and their meaning to my story and that’s when it hit me. I remembered hearing a quote from a person who is renowned for their science brain and since my story is sci-fi it made this connection. So I used the quote instead of the prologue, because that short sentence lent more relevant content to my story than the four paragraphs I thought were so necessary. No, the quote didn’t tell the backstory to what happened to Earth. That part I did incorporate because a good author will take time to shape their story, even if it means doing a week’s worth of rewrites for just that one component.

I read once where an author said something in the way of If you have a long prologue that is needed to convey the story, maybe you should consider starting your story earlier and build it up from there. Not the exact words and I can’t remember who said this, but it has stuck with me. So, thanks to you, whoever you are.

There are all sorts of opinions on prologues and tips and tricks for writing them. But doesn’t every story begin with a prologue? Even if it’s just one you brainstorm all to yourself?

The Word “Poop” is in This Post. You’re Welcome.

I sat down this morning to write. Whoa, before I get ahead of myself, let me recap the morning.

I woke up promptly at 7:23 a.m.

I let the dog out to pee.

I let myself out to pee.

I made coffee.

I walked into my office.

I sat down to write.

Details of morning happenings complete.

I’ve been working on a new book project (WIP- work in progress) for about three weeks. It’s a different genre than what I normally write—SF/F—so, I was stupid excited when I started it. I played with some plot ideas for the first few days, and then landed on a solid direction. About 10k into the project, I decided I didn’t like the environment/setting/character development (all the essential crap for creating a great story, or, at least, a plausible one.)

So, I scrapped it.

Ouch. And F yeah it hurt! But, I said to myself, “Listen crybaby. It’s only 10K. Get your thumb out of your mouth and begin again!”

So, I brought out my dry erase board and scribble away on it until I was loopy on marker fumes. This process (fun as it was) took precious writing time from me, but I ended up with an even better angle. A super awesome, make your head spin, hell of a twist, angle.

I was stoked.

I was ready to write again. Or so I thought.

In the chair, blank page and flashing cursor staring back at me, I realized I wasn’t quite ready to throw down words.

I had a problem with the location of my story and the setting. So, I did what any writer would do, (Hey! Get out of the corner and lose the security blanket.) I opened Google and started researching a new place. I had one in mind, so I started there. I searched the first area through the town’s website. I researched the community, the police department, the SCENE (you know, it’s most important), the nearby university, and local restaurants and such. I even did a real estate search to find a home in the area I could visualize while writing. That was actually a reverse process. I had an idea of what I wanted the home to look like and where I wanted it. It just so happened that the first house that popped up matched it perfectly. So, I took virtual tours and researched the immediate area the home was built on, side roads, nearest neighbors, you get the picture.

Once I felt like I had a grip on my character’s world, I begin with the wordage again. This time, (up to last night’s work, precisely) I reached nearly 8K. I was happy to have a new direction and be almost back to my drop off point from the earlier draft.

Then, this morning happened.

I sat down to write, and my love for the project had vanished. Even as I write this blog post (which BTW, the whole disappearing love thing is why I’m writing this post and not working on my book project) I have no desire to continue with my WIP.

This is new to me. I’ve completed three novels this far and I’ve not felt this way about any of them. Sure, I had writer’s block a few times, but that’ different. Or is it? I don’t know.

But, I also know that I don’t just let days go without writing something, anything. It keeps me in practice. It helps me short crap out. In a way, this post is doing just that. It’s sorting my poop-coiled brain.

poop brain

While I don’t know if this project will see completion, I’m not devastated. I have other book ideas/sequels to write, and this is a great time to get those started.

If you guys have experienced this, I’d love to hear your story. How did you handle the story divorce? Did you ever rekindle your relationship? Or, did you post nasty things about it on the Internets so that no one else would date your story? My biggest question is… did you ever get your CDs back????


This week was the release of my newest book, Blood Soaked Ashes. It’s book two of The Eramane Saga, and I can’t wait to share this segment of the story with my readers. Publishing this second book has been an amazing experience. I owe much thanks to the lovely ladies that worked closely with me on this. My editors are amazing and my cover artist is a genius. Enough about that. Go get the book! Ok, now that you’ve gone and supported my habit, we can move forward. I am a few days away from finishing up a project that I will be submitting to agents. This manuscript has been on my desktop for a year and a half, and I’m excited about its potential. But what I’m totally stoked about is that I actually have a solid query for it. What does that mean, solid? As opposed to what? Haven’t you been sending outstanding queries, Frankie? Well, I thought I had. I thought I had the best queries that had ever been written and “Why the hell weren’t the agents biting?!” I mean, I had researched what other authors posted as their queries on their websites, and I had read countless articles on ALL.THE.SITES., and I had several rejection emails that offered some friendly advice on what did and didn’t work. I was the master query writer. So “Why the hell weren’t the agents biting?!” I had no answer as to why my queries were being rejected. For almost two years I battled back and forth with this question. But then I decided to seek expert advice. I reached out to my small network of author acquaintances and humbly asked for help. And I got it. And it kept coming and doors kept opening and finally after re-working my query I ended up with a “fantastic” one. (Yeah, that’s an air-quote.) And once I read the final, kick ass version, it was like a light bulb (like one of those coiled hazmat ones) exploded above my head. Der! How simple. How extremely f-ing simple you nerf-hearding ding dong. Yes, I can be hard on myself. But that’s what we authors do. We have to. If we don’t push ourselves and force our perspective in the right direction, no one else will. So, to celebrate my enlightenment, and the release of Blood Soaked Ashes, I would like to offer free query critiques to the first TWO WRITERS OF YOUNG ADULT FICTION that respond. I want to help you find your light bulb. SERIOUS ENTRIES ONLY. PLEASE READ!! PREFERENCES AND STIPULATIONS: Queries for young-adult fiction only please. All genres welcome. Your manuscript should be completed so that you can build a thorough query and essentially a synopsis, which is often required by agents. But before you submit what you think is a good start, check out this website for a well-rounded structure as to what a query should look like. Check out this website for a good example. If yours is already formatted like this, then go ahead and request a critique in the comment area. Make sure you offer the genre and word count and briefly describe the plot. If your query fits my simple and limited requirements, I’ll reply with how you can submit your query to me, and how the process will work. Keep in mind that this is a free critique. It is not in any way an edit, nor will I re-write the query. It’s free author advice, and I’m glad to help. This offer is no longer available.

From turd, to TADA! Polishing the Manuscript.

Manuscripts need to be polished. You know what else can be polished? A TURD! Watch it on MythBusters.

I digress.

The crap that makes up the first draft of a novel should never be published for your readers. Unless you are some magical wielder of words who makes no mistakes in which case, CONGRATS BRO!

I’m a firm believer that the first draft should be well tended just as the final draft should be. Passion and focus are important in all stages of writing. But we all know that the first draft has tons of awful bits we don’t want our readers laying their precious eye holes on. This is why an experienced editor should have their way with the MS before its published.

I’m neck deep in edits right now. I have had my MS critiqued and edited for content (which is the stage I’m working on now) and once that is complete, my precious will be sent to a copy editor for finishing touches, you know, punctuation and grammar type things.

Why two editors, Frankie?

Editors come in all shapes and sizes (because they are human after all) and it’s a lot of work to pluck out all the horrific blunders an author makes whilst typing in the wee hours, eyes propped open with toothpicks like Tom’s when he stalking that clever little Jerry. I am working with two who each specialize in different scopes of the editing field. I’m not saying that one editor doesn’t have the capacity to hook your MS up proper, of course there are talented editors out there that can do that. But having more than one also puts more eyes on your MS. That is never a bad thing, yeah?

As I said, I’m in the editing process now with the second book of The Eramane Saga. My content editor ripped me a new b-hole, in a good way. This has opened me up to ideas that have enhanced my work, and forced me to rewrite nearly three chapters. Complete rewrites people! Three Chapters! Ugh! It sucked!

But I did it. And I’m so glad I did, because Blood Soaked Ashes is melding into the story I didn’t know it could be. That’s what good editors do. Your baby, that precious doc of 80k? 90k? 120k words, deserves to be dissected and picked apart and polished. But, unlike a turd, the finished MS should not smell. Unless you handled it after you polished and actual turd.

In a nutshell, before you publish, make sure it’s edited! Professionally! By someone who isn’t you!

Okay, I’ll stop exclaiming.

ASIDE RANT. I don’t want to leave anyone hangin’. Editors don’t work for free. And it’s difficult to find editors that take unsolicited submissions. I get that. If you’re not in the spot to work with professional editors at the moment, try finding online critique partner/s/groups. Participate in the NaNoWriMo and join forums that can hook you up with others willing to dish their opinion on your writing skillz. There is a plethora of resources out there for finding other writers who would love to critique your work. FYI, you are probably going to have to critique theirs too. Even tradesies. (That’s my non-word of the day.) And here is an article that describes types of critique partners/groups to avoid. Here is just another helpful link.

Shout out to SubItClub. You have lots o resources for writers! That’s awesome!




Keep Calm and Karate Chop Cobwebs

Courtesy of gardek.deviantart.com
Courtesy of gardek.deviantart.com

Toiling away I have been. (Yoda talk is weird when you see it typed out.) Writing more than on WIP is tough, chaotic, tiresome, you know. But the Force is strong in this one (ME!) and it is a must that I work in this way. I don’t know about you guys but having all sorts of ideas sitting upstairs for too long is no fun. I’d rather be cursing at myself during the hours most people sleep than to have stories just waiting around making cobwebs in my skully region.
But we is all different.
Book two (the last book) to the Eramane saga will be heading to my editor soon and its release will be a catharsis for me. I’ve been working on this story for a long time and I’m ready for my fans to know what happens to her and her comrades. So excited!
The title reveal is fast approaching (Oct 13) and the cover reveal will come shortly after. It’s still in its design phase. I have all my focus on getting this book out in time for Black Friday, so that I can get my YA Sci-Fi project out in January 2015 and hopefully get a combined edition of both Eramane books available in February.
Well, the rain just stopped, so I have to go walk my dog.

Blog Changes (sounds like an interesting read right?)

Here’s the deal pickle; this blog will be undergoing some changes.

Not this kind of change.

Some really cool things are happening in my writer world and because of that I am directing all power from my brain cells to my work. Because of this…

I will be converting my blog to the website for my works.  There will still be a Blog tab, but I will be using it for write-ups on events and such. But….

If you truly dig what I do and want to keep riding the Frankie Ash train, hook up with me on Twitter and Instagram (author_frankie_ash). Also….

I am working on a newsletter that I would like to send out on the regular, so when I get that ready to go, I will post here to direct you guys where you can go to email sign up. Ya dig?

While I have your attention (and if I don’t…HELLOOOO!!!) I would like to tell you guys to look out for the August issue of Sci Fi magazine. ERAMANE will be in it!!!!! And, if you happen to live in/around/other prepositions that work the Winchester, VA area, the lovely folks at Winchester Book Gallery are hosting a signing for ERAMANE August 16th at 3p.m.

If you don’t preposition that area, look for future announcements on my events in the D.C. area.




Blog hopping…Why and how I write what I write


So, Lindsay Cummings (author chic who wrote a book I can’t wait to read…The Murder Complex) unofficially called me (by me I mean everyone) out to write a post on their writing process. At first I was like, “I don’t wanna, cause my writing process is top secret and, well, I don’t want to have to flash that little red light from M.I.B I, II, and that other one in ALL.THE.EYES. But then I figured, why not, I haven’t used it in a while.
So, hopping on Mrs. Lindsay’s Divulge your most secrety secrets train, I shall reveal.
1. What am I working on?- At this very moment I have a doc opened and minimized, and it’s labeled “My Sci-Fi WIP”. Most of you know a little about it because I have posted some peak-a-boos on my blog. But it’s quite more than just a YA Sci-Fi book, as they all are right? Am I right? I’m right. But aside from that, my lips are sealed, like a…(you choose the visual metaphor) and as Forrest Gump says, “That’s all I have to say about that.”
2. How does my work differ from other’s of its genre?- Hmmm. It just does. It’s different because there isn’t a ton of young adult sci-fi out there. It’s different because of its plot and its characters and their motivations and the setting and the characters, and it’s a total left fielder for me. I believed (before I busted out this awesome monster) that I could only live and write in the realm of fantasy, because I love it so. But I’m also a huge sci-fi fan and exploring that side of my writing has opened me up to writing all kinds of different things…like my short story Serial Wanda. You member that post don’t you? Member?
3. Why do I write what I do?- Because I grew up watching movies like Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Legend, Star Wars…I mean…I just…I love it like I love my own blood. Yes, that sounds strange but think about it…think about your blood and how sad (and dead) you’d be if you didn’t have it anymore. See.
4. How does your writing process work?- It’s not really a process because it’s not a rhythmic thing I do.
In short, I write every day.
In long, my mornings are precious. The Earth is quiet and it gives me a chance to be still and let my creativity do its thang. It’s hard to write on my WIP every day because there are also other things that I have to write: blog posts, Twitter snarkies (insert your own definition…it’s more funner that way), Facebook…all the social media what-nots. But at least four days of the week are devoted to my project and on a good day (three or more cups of coffee) I can knock out 3500-4000 words, on a regular day (one cup), 1500-2000. But, there are those special moments when you HAVE to write. Those moments when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t do anything else but drag yourself to the computer and work. I love those. And on those occasions I have written some of my best content.
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.