Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sweet Dreams

Hello Sweethearts,

I wanted to say goodnight with a little story before I lay my head to sleep. I hope it's something to fancy your dreams. ;)

Drowsiness washed over her eyes as she lay down on the bed's silk covers. The coolness of the sheets felt crisp against her skin. Her skin which had turned warm and dewy from an unusually hot summer night. She had meant to pull some cover over her should the evening bring cooler temperature and make rest uncomfortable, but before she had the presence of mind to do so, sleep crept across.

The tall white gate stood like a sentry, blocking her path forward into the garden. Both to her left and right, the white metal barrier, too difficult to scale and too high to overcome, extended as far as she could see. It appeared an endless tail on a magnificent beast whose jaws sat tightly closed.

Behind her, the soft grassy plane dropped off toward another eternity, the bottom of that which she could not see. The small plot of earth below her bare feet was the only space she had wherein to maneuver. And for the life of her she couldn't remember how she'd gotten there.

Peering through the close bars of the tall metal phalanx a wondrous expanse unfolded before her. Willows and oaks dotted a landscape colored by verdant blooms of lilies and poppies. Amongst the flora, small winged creatures fluttered with ephemeral grace, tending the flowers and darting mischievously amongst each other.

And behind a great fountain - of pristine white stone and crystalline water flowing from it's fluted maw - a satyr sat, staring at his reflection in the pool below.

How cruel to be locked out from such a sweet embrace, she cursed in her head. What evil trick should keep her outside the fullness of the expanse before her. Welling her eyes shut, she wished deep down for the white gates to part and entry be granted to the world beyond.

As though a force, transcendent in nature, heard her pleas, the white metal doors opened in silent allowance. And when she opened her eyes, all the splendors of the garden kingdom greeted her.

From his pensive state across the grounds, the satyr raised his head, wondering at the commotion at the front of his estate. Through the glassy waters, arching waterfalls of liquid, he glimpsed a notion of an angelic form. Her hair, black like the night sky, fell straight beyond her shoulders. The lightness of her skin reminded him of white rose blooms in the spring. Green eyes pierced him like jade stone.

She couldn't explain it, the rosy warmth in her chest as she watched the Satyr rise from his seat beside the water. Her heart fluttered like butterflies around her. Walking forward, the fairies chided her on. She only wanted to fall deeper into the heady perfume of the garden around her.

In his arms. Before she was aware, the satyr held her. He looked into her eyes, softly, and with gentle intention. Brushing her hair to the side, he ran his hand down the length of her torso. The softness of her skin felt good under his touch.

As she looked up, she ran her fingers through his long, curly hair. Hair dark like hers. In his eyes, she could see her reflection and she knew she looked beautiful at this moment, more so than most.

The satyr bent down toward her and kissed her lips. Like warm honey, the taste tickled her senses and she felt her body light up. It was the sweetness, the lingering of his breath, the wholeness of his body that drove her forward.

Wrapping her arms across his neck, she pulled him to the grassy floor as the business of the garden sounded around them. In the warm air she could only smell the lilies and the poppies and the satyr's kisses filled her with yearning.

It wasn't his strength that impressed her, nor his seemingly endless spirit. Rather, the closeness and care he shared brought her closer and closer to the pinnacle of desire. He was a man amongst men, dutiful and pleasing in his prowess. Yet his gentility served to heighten the experience. In her foggy repose, drugged with lust, she succumbed to his masterful will.

And when they came to rest, she and the satyr, he sat beside her smiling and cooing in respectful calm. As long as she wanted, he would hold her, until the end of time if need be.

But dreams have a funny way of coming to an end in too short a time. And with the rising sun she awoke, her garden respite turning to a fog of memory. Looking out the window, the cityscape greeted her. She stretched her arms and smiled, holding on to the last wisps of her time in the gated splendor.

Beyond her window, just outside the frame and peering in, a tiny sprite laughed. Turning, it fluttered on its way, off to tell the Satyr of the beautiful girl he had dreamed about all through the night.

Sweet dreams!

Love,
Ashlee

Thursday, January 16, 2014

NPR Series on Cross-Cultural Romance

I was bouncing around the internet this morning, as many of us do, and came across an interesting proposed series of articles about love by NPR. It's entitled 'In Search Of Great Questions About Cross-Cultural Romance' and looks to be a fascinating read.

NPR is running the series starting yesterday, Jan. 15, through Feb. 13 which, coincidentally (or not) is the day before Valentines Day. They'll be "holding Twitter chats, conducting Q&As and writing posts about many different ways love and attraction intersect with race, ethnicity and culture," according to the first article.

Granted, opinions differ on how culture and race are defined, but that's what dialogue is for - one way to achieve a greater understanding and tolerance for others. And I anticipate there will be plenty of dialogue in the coming month :)

If you want to join the Twitter discussion, NPR suggests you use #xculturelove. I'll be checking out the #xculturelove Twittersphere from time to time and suggest you do too. It's great to see the topic of diversity in love being addressed in an open and respectful manner. We need more of this. Kudos NPR.

Peace, harmony, and as always, lots of love,
Ashlee

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Valley

Deep in the valley, where clouds shadow a verdant land, the forest stretches as far as my arms reach wide. And from where I stand, looking through the hills, a clearing sits - green grasses untouched by the trees around it - serene and calling.

Dancing down the hillside rocks, my feet fly like birds on the wind and I disappear into the dense foliage. My senses keen, I run under branches and over streams, heading to that open place where the sun breaks through and warms the earth beneath it.

I am quick and in my hurry I only catch fleeting glances of the forest's bustling creatures. The chatter of animals passes around me and though I cannot stop to commune, I smile at the chirps and clicks and hums. Onward I rush. I am the wind, the sun, and the earth around me all at once. I feel it to my core.

The clearing comes as fast as I've approached. The trees fall away and I stand at the edge of a great ring. A warm summer breeze teases the tops of long grassy stalks as they flow like the ripples of the great lake. I wait, and watch, patient now as I need to be.

Just above the green ocean a figure breaks from the other side of the forested barrier. Into the clearing it makes its way, as I did when I too arrived. My vision narrows and I see who it is, here, sharing this sacred place with me.

My hunter has arrived. In his leather gear, adorned by knots and fur-lined bands, he has come. The rugged line of a sinewy man, bow by his side and quiver full, strides to the center of the sun-kissed clearing. His presence commands me and I rush ahead.

Upon the warm stone, hidden by the tall grass, he lays me down. I let my flowing garb fall to the sides, exposing the ivory color of my skin. Below me, the stone heats my body. Above me, the hunter sets fire to my heart.

He tears his garb from his body and his silhouette looks like the chiseled mountains. I am pulled to him and feel the strength of a thousand hunts well within me. Together we ride the undulating landscape, over hill and dale, through the winding canyons and under the halls of ancient people.

We rush as one, our bodies together reaching an infinite peak. And when I feel we cannot go any farther, the fever breaks like a cool morn's mist dewy across our brows. At last our bodies fall back to earth, rain from the heavens.

When he leaves, he does so a gracious man, parting with kisses sweet like spring flowers. His perfume lingers as I watch his form fade through the grasses, an ephemeral image, a memory remembered.

And as I regather myself, tethering my gown across my body, I smile with the anticipation of the next time we meet. Again when the clouds float across the valley and the sun breaks through and our cups are only half full.

Love,
Ashlee

Friday, May 17, 2013

Publishing My First Full-Length Novel, More Than Meets The Eye

Okay, so this isn't something I'm necessarily going to make a common type post, but it got me thinking.

I was hunting for information about getting the most bang for my buck when I "go live" with my first full-length novel. Yes, my first full-length is in the works and yes, I'll be filling you guys in about it soon enough.

But before I get to the meat of my project, I had to wonder. How can I make all this time and effort of writing a novel, something I will undoubtedly be putting my love, sweat, and tears into, be worth as much as it possibly can?

So I ventured off to the world wide Google and plugged in a few search terms.

Note: I'm on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Smashwords and several other ebook platforms like Kobo. This article is, in part, due to learning about how Amazon works when it comes to self-publishing.

And this is one of the better articles I found on really making a self-published work stand out, according to the author: Ryan Casey on KDP Select. I'm not affiliated with Ryan Casey, nor do I make absolutely anything on mentioning him, just a little heads up.

I just thought his string of three articles regarding making content exclusive for a time, through the KDP Select program, while leveraging a super-popular publishing platform (Amazon) can yield pretty good results.

I recommend giving the articles a read because they have some usable meat on them. Not fluffy, overly opinionated stuff like some of the articles I've found out there. Casey's pieces make someone in my position wonder. I started this endeavor to write, nothing more. A way to bring my ideas and excitement to a base of readers who can appreciate my effort.

What I'm finding is a whole gamut of roles us indie, self-publishing authors need to assume to turn that raw passion for scribbling into something we can do full time.

Let me know what you guys think. I'm very, very curious to hear your own experience or thoughts on the subject.

As for me, I'm going to keep writing as I learn the ropes. I hope you do too!

Love,
Ashlee

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Clandestine Affair

If you haven't heard, my newest short story, A Clandestine Affair, is up on Smashwords now! And it's free!

I'm so excited to have finished this work. I'm happy with the way it turned out and truly enjoyed the twisty nature of it. I hope you did as well.

Of course, as always, I'm really (really, really) interested in hearing your feedback. Did you like the story? dislike it? Have to read another installment? I'd love to know. And don't worry, I can take criticism. Tact is always appreciated though :)

Thank you everyone for helping make my writing both a welcome challenge and a pleasure. I can't wait to show you all the next project I'm working on. It's going to be a big one ;) Hope to hear from you soon.

Love,
Ashlee

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

NOOK Press and Kindle Direct Publishing are live!

I'm giddy with anticipation my lovely readers!

After being approved on both Barnes & Noble's and Amazon's self publishing sites I'm currently waiting for my debut title, In The Rain, to be uploaded and available for the masses! It may not sound like a lot, but consider this. Barnes & Noble and Amazon combined contribute to more than %70 of all ebook traffic and sales! That's pretty huge. If I were to stick with Smashwords or some of the other self-publishing sites alone, I'd only be reaching at max %30 of my audience. Yikes!

Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge fan of Smashwords and the like, no indie author should be without an up-to-date account on those sites. But to bring self-publishing to the next level, leveraging the biggest players is a must, not a maybe.

For someone who loves writing, reaching as large an audience as possible is important. It only helps to validate the hard work that goes into finishing any project, no matter the size. As for me, if all goes well with the vetting process, my work should be up soon! I'll be sure to post links to the work when they are.

Until then, I'll show you mine if you show me yours. Let's keep writing.

Love,
Ashlee

Monday, April 29, 2013

In The Rain

Hello my sweeties.

I'm so excited to tell you all the news. Today I published my very first ebook entitled In The Rain via Smashwords (a fantastic platform for online publishing every writer should know about)! The best part? It's absolutely free! And let me tell you, it's hard to express the happiness and relief that comes with releasing a final, edited, hard-fought piece of work.

I expect every writer knows the never ending battle for excellence in every piece they write, but having that finality of seeing your work up, out there, for everyone to see is very humbling indeed.

Yes, although I'm an absolute editing fiend, I did still find some errors I just couldn't live without and needed to go back and upload a more recent version. But truth be told it was so minor I could have done without. In either case, I hope my fans will appreciate my efforts. There's nothing like interaction with you guys to keep me going on :)

Please, please, please take a chance to read my latest work, In The Rain. And please, please, please give me feedback! I'd love to hear what you think!

Talk to you guys again soon.

Love,
Ashlee