<![CDATA[STARVING WRITERS GUILD - M.C. Ashley]]>Fri, 15 May 2020 16:14:18 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[On Getting Published]]>Wed, 31 Jan 2018 20:11:02 GMThttp://starvingwritersguild.com/mc-ashley/on-getting-publishedPicture
So it's finally happened.

After over ten years worth of effort I can finally say that I am a published author. The fact that I can say that out loud makes me giddy.

Months ago, John Erdely and I embarked on the process to figure out if we could manage to raise the funds to see if I could get published and so that if he could as well. Thanks to the support of friends and family we can now say that this basic idea was a success. The joy that I feel right now is immense and I can barely express the gratitude I have for everyone's aid in making this a reality.

So what have I learned from all this?

First off, just because an idea sounds impossible, doesn't mean it is. This whole project was immense in scope for someone like me. It required me to be antithetical to myself so that I was outgoing and entrepreneurial. This wasn't an easy task, but the results were worth it.

Secondly, it offers a sense of satisfaction. After all the hours I've poured into my creations I can finally have someone who isn't my editor or myself experience them for the first time. I recently talked to the first reader to finish the book and had a ton of fun listening to his interpretations of the book and his hypotheses for what would happen next. It's an odd feeling to be in this situation and it's one I'm gonna have to get used to, because I hope to experience it over and over again.

Lastly, I have a renewed zeal to continue writing. Seeing everyone's support has made me realize that I'm no longer just writing for myself. There are other people out there who care about what I say and do and I need to be able to continue making them satisfied. That, in and of itself, is enough for me to keep going.

So, in short, this whole challenge has been fun incarnate and I intend to stay faithful to the gifts I've been offered.


M. C. Ashley
<![CDATA[Is IT Good?]]>Fri, 15 Sep 2017 18:10:53 GMThttp://starvingwritersguild.com/mc-ashley/is-it-goodPicture
I have a confession to make: I love Stephen King's works. I am completely biased in everything involving him. From the great works like The Stand to the less notable novels like The Tommyknockers, I have an appreciation for them all. And IT is no exception. While I have my issues with some parts of the novel, I would still consider IT to be in the top three books he has ever written.

(From here on out, be warned: there are spoilers for both the movie and the book.)

Derry, Maine isn't like other towns. It's cheerful and welcoming on the outside, but holds a dark secret deep within the sewers, one that hunts down children. After his brother, Georgie, goes missing one day, Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher), attempts to track down his body, which it seems everyone else has given up on. Joining him are his friends Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard), Stan Uris (Wyatt Oleff), and Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer), followed shortly by the addition of Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs), and Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis). 

Dubbing themselves the Losers Club, the kids begin to discover that something is out there, trying to scare them and kill them. After much searching, they all find out that the something is a being called Pennywise, the Dancing Clown, or, as they call it, IT (Bill Skarsgård). When one of their own gets kidnapped by IT, the Losers Club decides that enough is enough and set out to kill IT once and for all.

So what was my opinion on the latest film?

I loved it (pun intended). It has been a while since I have been in a theater and felt terrified to be there, even in the company of trusted family. Skarsgård knocks it out of the park with his portrayal of Pennywise. In contrast to Tim Curry's large ham of a clown, Skarsgård makes Pennywise a cold sadist, who somehow still makes us laugh almost as much as we scream. 

The fear introduced by the film is organic, but relies a little too much on jump scares for my tastes. I will admit, however, that even though I was well aware that I was about to be "jump-scared" at certain points in the movie, I still got scared, which is something I value when it comes to horror films. From his shapeshifting into a leper to his final bout in the film with the Losers Club, Pennywise shows that it is a force to be reckoned with.

Updating the setting from the 1950s to the 80s was a bold choice, one which I was questioning at first, but, given that the film intends for its sequel to be filmed in the modern day, I can accept its choice. Time-appropriate references are made without feeling tacked on.

In contrast to the book and miniseries, the narrative of the movie focuses solely on the children this time around, rather than showing both the past and present through various framing devices. I believe this is to the movie's benefit, as it gives the child actors more space to breathe, allowing them the opportunity to show just how good they are at their job. Wolfhard continues to show his acting chops by adding humor (appropriate and dark) at the right time to help ease the tension or give us someone to hate momentarily to distract us from our fear. Lillis is an excellent choice for Beverly, portraying a girl who's alone in the world, yet through the strength of her connection with her friends, is able to rise up to the challenge and stare death in the face (quite literally, I might add.) Lieberher does well in portraying both Bill's inner turmoil at the loss of his brother, as well as having taken the time to respectfully and skillfully show the character's stuttering in a way that is nowhere near the inspirationally disadvantaged trope.

However, there are some minor, unpleasant changes that mar this film's integrity. Instead of giving Mike his job of explaining the goings on in Derry's history, the role is instead given to Ben for some odd reason. The obvious reason was the scriptwriters needed a way to band the Losers together, but it still causes Mike's character to fall a little flat in character development, given his eventual important role in the sequel. 

Likewise, some would argue that Beverly ends up as the classic damsel in distress near the end of the film, a scene which does not happen in the book. Once again, this seems to have been a convenience concocted by the writers to help get the film where they wanted to go, having previously disbanded the Losers after their hard fought first battle with IT. However, while I understand the debate, I would argue that this doesn't truly make Beverly a damsel in distress. Having previously overcome her fear of her father, IT now realizes that IT has no power over her, making her someone that IT simply cannot feast on without cheating. If anything, this shows her character growth immensely and makes her one of the better characters of the movie, especially since that one horrendous scene from the novels is nowhere to be found. 

But as to the final battle itself, the movie deviates from the novel by not introducing IT's counterpart, the Turtle. There are several references to the Turtle in the movie, but they seem oddly placed as a means of fan service, rather than actually meaning something. Perhaps if the Turtle is introduced in the second film, this will make better sense, but as of this moment it comes about as a poor idea.

All in all, I would give IT a 9/10 for its great story, wonderful character development, and terrifying scares. I eagerly look forward to the sequel. 

Until next time... 
<![CDATA[Why Self-Publishing?]]>Wed, 06 Sep 2017 23:17:40 GMThttp://starvingwritersguild.com/mc-ashley/why-self-publishingPicture
That's a good question, isn't it? Why, when there are so many publishing companies and agents out there, would one want to self-publish? Surely one of those entities would be able to help a potential writer get published in the first place. It's happened before. 

Indeed it has, but not to me and neither to my fellows at Starving Writers Guild. For years we have attempted to find a willing agent to at least consider our work, but to no avail. I have sent out hundreds of query letters, hoping to at least hear some feedback from someone about the story, if nothing else. But in the totality of all I sent out, I can count on one hand the amount of times that someone responded with a personal email, rather than an automated response. 

iMaddening as this would be on its own, John has informed me of the time in which an agent sent back an automated response to him, but had intended for the recipient to be someone else. Then, when he pressured the agent to give him his own personal account of John's work, the agent sent a corrected automated response instead.

Agents are people, just like us, and there are only so many hours in a day, so I will not sit here and pretend like they have the time to personally answer every single request sent their way. But for 99% of the responses received to be fully automated is a slap in the face. 

I must confess that the first time I attempted to get published, I rightfully deserved to be snubbed. The book at the time was written when I was younger, and my grasp on writing was nowhere near as polished as it was now. But now that I have spent time honing my craft and learning where I am good and where I need more work, I can honestly say that I know books like Lost Time deserved to be published. 

But worse still is the simple fact that if you don't know anyone in the publishing business, you have next to impossible odds of being published yourself, especially in today's market. I understand why agents and publishers do this. It's easier to deal with people you know and total unknowns like myself are untested and therefore you can't plan around that as well. But that dilutes writing. 

I'm not a short story writer, nor am I given to writing for newspapers or magazines. No two writers are alike. I can competently write poetry, but it's not my focus, nor is it what I want to be known for. I could sell out and write complete trash just to make a paycheck, but that's not who I am. Giving up on a potential writer just because they aren't established is a cowardly tactic, one that I understand, but abhor.

Which brings us back to why I'm self-publishing. Here, with the aid of others, I can finally get my work out there. I can branch out into the publishing world and establish my presence there without the help of an agent or publisher. I can show people who I am by what I write and show them the projects that I am proud to make for their reading pleasure. 

I love writing. It's what I want to do with my life. With the aid of this website and your generous support, I can continue doing so. 

Sincerely yours,

M. C. Ashley