Monday, December 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014 Wrap Up

I looked at the calendar today and saw that it is the 1st of December. This came as a bit of a shock for me, and I was a little bit sad to realise that this means I have no more time to complete my 2014 NaNoWriMo. I only managed 10,722 words due to a much busier schedule than I had originally anticipated (see my previous post on this).

However, I am far from disheartened. I have learned a lot from this year's NaNo. Chiefly:

  • I have learned how I write best. In tracking daily word counts I have discovered that I work in large bursts, following by long periods where I need to rest my brain. This is good to know. It means that I need to make sure I have zero interruptions during my writing time. It also means that I know there will be gaps where I will have plenty of time on my hands to complete errands.
  • I have come to realise that I am far more task oriented than I am goal oriented. This means that, for me to maintain my motivation, I need to set myself smaller tasks to be able to achieve that overall goal.
  • The story that I was writing makes me cry a lot.

I have accomplished the main thing that I wanted to achieve during NaNoWriMo. I mostly set out on this adventure as a way to get to know a character that had been proving elusive. I feel I have a good understanding of her motivations now, and she feels much more real to me. I am really excited to go back to my pre-NaNoWriMo novel and implement everything I have learned about this character.

And so, this is not the end of writing for me. It's just the end of yet another competition. Just because November is over does not mean that the words have to stop.

Happy writing, everyone!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

NaNoWriMo - Progress So Far

Okay, okay. I admit it. My decision to partake in NaNoWriMo this year was not very well thought out. So far this month I have had PAX Australia, the Melbourne Cup, I went to the Spring Racing Carnival and I have a wedding to go to in a few days time. Oh, and did I mention that I have been wedding dress shopping every chance I have had? (still can't find a dress for my wedding and I've been searching for months now. It's one of the downsides to being so tiny - the stores don't carry my size so I can't even try most of the dresses on, and those I can try are still so big on me I just have to imagine what they will look like. Garrr!)

So, my progress for the whole 50,000-words-in-a-month thing hasn't been brilliant. I am currently sitting on 5260 words and we're nearly halfway through the month. Many of those words were written today.

According to the NaNoWriMo website:

At This Rate I Will Finish On: February 13, 2015
Words Per Day To Finish On Time: 2,237 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

NaNoWriMo and Me

In the past I have said that I have tried NaNoWriMo and it's not for me. It's really not how my creative juices work. They are much more slow and deliberate. But this year I have signed up.


Well, I have this character, you see. She is pinnacle to the current story I am working on (book 2 in my Rachaya series). It's super important that I understand her and her motivations if the story is to work. So I am exploiting NaNoWriMo in a way. Because, really, I never intend for anyone to read this story. It is just for me. I hope that, in taking the month to properly develop this character, the rest of my current novel will be enhanced.

That or this is just another elaborate plan to procrastinate...

We'll see.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo too? Go to if you wish to sign up. You can search for me @ Ash Oldfield on the site.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Reject Stale Language

Earlier on in the year I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Children's Book Fair at the State Library of Victoria. While I was there I snuck into a talk given by a childhood hero of mine, author John Marsden (Okay, so I booked tickets and lined up with a bunch of 8 year olds. Totally worth it.). I was also able to have a chat with him afterwards and get him to sign my book. When I told him he inspired me to be a writer from a young age he apologised to me. He was so lovely and generous with his time. He's a great man.

During his talk I took notes on his writing advice. It is truly brilliant in its simplicity, and I have noticed an improvement in my own writing since I have been applying this advice to my work. The following 8 tips have really stuck with me:

- You can make language do anything you want it to. Very quickly we can use words to conjure images.

- Write honestly and accurately. There is no value if it's not your perspective.

- You need to learn the conventions of writing before you can break them.

- You should name everything. Don't say the bird flew past the window; say the cockatoo flew past the window.

- Our job is to stay poets for the rest of our lives, rejecting stale language.

- Take a boring sentence. Underline nouns and pronouns. Name them. Use language more effectively to tell the same story. Identify verbs and give them life.

- Every story is about an interruption to routine.

- The most important thing a writer can get is bum glue (a quote from Bryce Courtenay).

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tapping Into the Creative Mind

Today I'm stopping by to share a link for advice on why you might have writer's block and how you can tap into the creative mind. This advice is from my favourite author, Anne Bishop. It's really speaking to me at the moment because I have been paralysed by writer's block for the past month.

So, here it is:

This post has already helped me figure out where I need to head in able to become unstuck. I am at point B, know what happens at point E, but have absolutely no idea how to join the dots.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Talking to Strangers About Your Novel

I was very fortunate to be able to go to SupaNova this year, Australia's main Pop Culture expo. I had a great time. But I want to relate to you an experience I had that I thought was odd.

I was visiting authors' booths, trying to find my next read. I stopped at one booth and asked the lady what her book was about. She pointed to a laminated card on her table. In tiny print was a description of this lady's novel. It was around 200 words long and with the author standing awkwardly and saying nothing I couldn't concentrate on the card. Thinking to give her another shot at selling her work to me, I asked her a second time what her book was about.
"It's all there on the card," she said abruptly.

I walked away, still with no clear idea about what the book was about. And to be honest, I don't want to know.

Ever since this experience I have been thinking about how I would like to come across to potential readers. I have been rehearsing what I would say about my own book. It really isn't easy. How do I fit a whole body of work into a couple of sentences? I am still working on my Spiel, because I want to get it right. I have also been thinking about images or artwork I might use to help convey my point.

Do any of you have any great tips on how to tell people about your book? I am facing having to have my own booth in a year or so, and I am starting to panic!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

What's Your Weapon of Choice?

People are often curious about the instrument a writer uses when creating their master pieces. Do they write on a computer? A typewriter? Felt tip pen? A pencil?

For me, I hand write my entire first draft. This blows the minds of many people, I don't mind telling you.

"WHAT?!? The WHOLE thing? Are you CRAZY?" they will often scream at me, spit flecking from their screwed up mouths.

"Why, yes," I say to them, "I rather believe I am."

The pen I use varies. For my previous novel I started with a ball point pen, but quickly switched to a disposable fountain pen for my first draft. I say pen - I mean pens - for there were many. The pens were not very hardy, and I would need a new one every few days. My reasons for choosing the pens, as expensive and flimsy as they may have been, were many. They did not blotch ink all over my page, they were smooth to write with, and they did not hurt the already massive callous on my middle finger. However, as I have said, the pens are expensive and do not last for very long.

For my current project I am writing with a Jetstream 101 UniBall ball point pen. It's kinda like a cross between a gel pen and a biro. It's smooth to write with and doesn't accumulate blobs of ink that invariably end up all over my hands, page and writing surface. They do not last too long, however. Well, maybe I'm just being picky. My current pen has written nearly 10,000 words. It has also nearly run out of ink. But, at a fifth of the price of the fountain pen, I am happy to stick with it for now. It is starting to hurt my hand, but I think that's probably my own fault. I have been rather manic with my writing lately.

Once I am up to my rewrite it is a completely different story (ha! a pun! I'll pretend I meant it!). I complete my rewrite 100% on my lap top. I use the programme Scrivener, and I find it much easier to use than any other word processor I have ever come across. The problem with working on the computer is that the internet becomes a huge temptation for me, and sometimes I find my productivity is hindered by my weak will and memes of catz. 

So, writers. Do tell. How do you write your novels? What is your writerly weapon of choice?

At the end of the day I don't think it matters what you write with, so long as you write. For as long as that has been my mantra I have been productive and happy with my work.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Booklaunch: Missing: Presumed Undead, by Jeremy Davies

I was fortunate enough to have been able to attend the book launch of fellow Australian author's latest novel, 'Missing: Presumed Undead'. I had a great night mingling with other writers and fantasy fiction enthusiasts at Notions Unlimited Bookstore (and I immediately fell in love with the place!).

The description of this book excited me from the first:

Reading Jeremy Davies is like Elmore Leonard meets Dashiel Hammett meets Terry Pratchett with China Mieville peering through the window (they got along fine until Terry spilt his tea all over Elmore’s Italian sports jacket . . .), dipped in funny syrup and set in a classical fantasy-style world with the mood and magic driven “technology” of a Casablanca-style 30’s detective story.
It isn’t so much hard-boiled as char-grilled, with a side salad.”

And the excerpt posted prior to the release made me desperate to get my hands on this book.

 Jeremy was even kind enough to sign my book!

(Images from

I cannot wait to begin reading this book.You can grab a copy, too, direct from the publisher here or from Amazon.

It's so wonderful to see Australian authors being launched back into the market place. Only a month ago I was able attend the book launch of Adam Browne's short story collection 'Other Stories, & Other Stories'. I look forward to many more such events in the future!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Writerly Words of Advice

I (fairly) recently had the pleasure of meeting renowned author, George RR Martin. This was hugely exciting for me as he is a bit of a hero of mine. Martin has had such a long, successful and fruitful career, so I was super keen to glean some pearls of wisdom from this man on the writing process. I was very lucky to be able to sit in a small circle of people, perhaps a metre away from Mr Martin, and have a nervous but polite chat with him about my writing. He was enormously helpful and very kind.

His advice was simple, and yet extremely helpful. Without mincing words, George RR Martin's tips on being a successful writer were:

1) Write.

2) Keep writing.

3) Get your writing out into the market and keep it there until it sells.

4) Never revise once you have submitted (unless under editorial order).

I have taken this advice to heart. I am currently sitting on number 3 AND number 1 at the same time. This advice has helped me. I hope it will help you, too!

Happy writing!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

5 Fun Facts About Witches

One of the things I love about writing fantasy fiction is the research aspect involved. Today I have been conducting research for a new short story that entered into my brain particles last night. I wanted to share some of the interesting facts that I found out today.

1. The difference between a witch and a wizard is not the person's gender. It is much more specific than that. 
  • A witch is a part of everyday life. He or she may provide healing and good to the people, or they may be responsible for causing harm.

(Image Source:, accessed 04.02.14)

  • A wizard is more aloof. They tend to live apart from the rest of the world and, although they amass great knowledge and have terrible powers, they don't really apply this to the everyday world.
2. Clairvoyance is the art of spying on people from far away, using a crystal ball or looking into a brewed potion. It is not, as I thought, a way of peering into the future. 
3. A wise woman was traditionally a young woman who knew about medicinal herbs and womanly problems. A witch, on the other hand, was considered to be old and unpleasant.

(Source: Dedopulos, T. (2005). The Book of Witches: A Spellbinding Guide. Funtastic Limited, Australia.)

4. An amphithere is a cross between a snake and a bird and is considered to be the South American equivalent of a dragon.(Source:, accessed 04.02.14)
 (Image Source:, accessed 04.02.14)

5. When King James I became king he was horrified by Queen Elizabeth I's leniency on witchcraft. He hanged more suspected witches than any other monarch. Back when he was James IV of Scotland he was responsible for (and witness to) the horrific torture of suspected witches, and he naturally felt justified by his actions when, surprise surprise, the 'witches' confessed to all their crimes and more. I think I would confess to just about anything, too, if my legs were shattered into thousands of splinters...

 (Source: Dedopulos, T. (2005). The Book of Witches: A Spellbinding Guide. Funtastic Limited, Australia.)

 (Image Source:, accessed 04.02.14)

I must admit, it really has been the most enjoyable day. I also managed to spend the morning discussing my recently-completed novel with a beta reader and implementing their advice. There's nothing like the perspective of an outsider to help you figure out just what was bothering you. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Question of Pre-Readership

I was so very proud of myself when it dawned upon me that I had finished my novel. My hands paused, poised above the keyboard, willing more words to come but knowing all the while that I had nothing left to say.

My next step was to complete the edits. I spent days pouring over my manuscript, removing typos and rearranging sentences, adding a scene here, removing a scene there.

And now it is complete and I am up to my third step - sending my novel on to my pre-readers. I have been overcome with nerves over the past few days. I have talked myself out of all of my concerns (namely that people will laugh at me!), and feel comfortable sending my baby out into the world for a healthy dose of constructive criticism.

But here is my problem. I was going to send my pre-readers my novel in an email. However, I don't really trust the whole digital thing. Besides, it may be hard for my readers to give me feedback if they can't write on something tangible.

So what I want to know from you, fellow writers, is what you do when sending out copies of your manuscript to pre-readers? Do you send a digital version, or are you more the hard-copy type of person? Any advice you can give me here would be very much appreciated.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hello 2014. There Are Some Changes Over Here.

Hello New Year! A new year means some changes over at Ashleigh Oldfield land.

Firstly, my book reviews and other reading-based blog posts have been moved over to Please go across and check it out. My aim is to blog much more often this year.

Secondly, this website will be dedicated solely to my writing. That's right, that thing that I profess to do all the time, but which I rarely share because I am shy. Yup. That thing. I will be sharing a lot more about my writing journey, short pieces of fiction, a weekly 'Word of the Day'; maybe even maps or character profiles. This is the year in which I show no fear!

Thirdly...well actually, no, there is no thirdly.

As always I hope to hear from you all. I love knowing how you're all going and I certainly don't want that to stop in 2014.

And finally, if it seems I am procrastinating too much, or I don't seem to be writing so much as faffing about on the internet, please call me out on it. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to meeting self imposed deadlines. In my day job I don't have a problem with it and am the most organised person in the office. But at home? Well, let's just say it often leaves a lot to be desired.

Thanks once again to you all for your continued support. Love to you all.

- Ash oxo