Risingshadow has the honour of publishing a guest post by Ashley Franz Holzmann.
About the Author
A Boy Named Sue, named Ashley, who goes by Ash around his friends. Ashley grew up overseas on Air Force bases. He once bought a 70s VW bus so he could drive it across the country. He married his first love — they were long distance for seven years. He reads poetry constantly; believes experiences define a life, and pursuing art is the purpose behind his existence. Ashley kept all of his Legos growing up and plays with them with his three kids. He’s in the Army. He likes big dogs.
Visit asforclass.com to learn more about Ashley, or to sign up for his mailing list to receive an exclusive and free novella.
His mailing list is also the best way to learn about upcoming projects, exclusive deals, and opportunities for free advanced versions of his work.
GUEST POST: Vices and Virtues by Ashley Franz Holzmann
Publishing a book is no easy task.
If anyone asked me five years ago what I would be spending my free time on, I would have never been able to tell them I would be a writer.
But here I am, publishing another book.
So how did this happen? How did I go from not writing outside of academic requirements to publishing more than one book?
Hopefully I can address some of those questions and also talk a bit about my projects to help any other aspiring artists and writers out there.
Getting Out There
The most important lesson I have learned from my writing experiences thus far is to simply get yourself out there into the world of creating.
I started this writing journey on the subs of Reddit, where I could post material and receive immediate feedback in the form of upvotes and downvotes.
This was critical for someone like me who both needed validation creatively and also wanted to understand how to improve my writing.
I rinsed and repeated the process and posted on the Nosleep sub for months until I felt like I had enough stories to make a book.
Publication became the next long journey.
I edited the stories as much as I could on my own, and then I sent them to some friends to test read what I had. I included a questionnaire requesting brutal honesty.
A few stories were cut as a result and then I contacted a friend of mine who has edited academic papers at length before.
He was the perfect fit and he tackled the book with two rounds of input.
Then another friend of mine served as the final copy editor to ensure everything was tip top.
Come launch day, I thought everything would work.
A lot of mistakes happened, but I learned a valuable lesson during all of that: people forgive and are more supportive of creative endeavors than we may think.
I worked as quickly as possible to fix the issues with the book and then hustled my way toward getting as many legitimate reviews as I could.
Everything turned out alright and I made some sales of the book. What really mattered was that I was willing to take that first leap, though.
Putting yourself out there is so important. It’s the first step to a very long path that is absolutely worth traveling.
The publication of my first book led to a group project, where I could then be the organizer and use my newfound knowledge of the process to get others published.
Vices and Virtues: A Horror Anthology is the result of that group collaboration and it has been a wild ride.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this book has been to never stop moving forward.
Getting authors all on the same page wasn’t easy. I wanted to ensure this was the best version of itself it could be, so we did a lot of editing rounds.
Some authors had life get in the way and they dropped out.
Others missed a few of the deadlines and didn’t feel like they could contribute.
Deadlines kept getting pushed back.
There were several periods of limbo with the project. My day job also didn’t make things easy and there were times when I had to take a step back from the project.
But it worked out in the end. Here we are and the book will be live by the time you read this.
It’s entirely surreal to think that we’ve gotten this far, but now that the moment is here I’m very glad I didn’t give up on the project. It was absolutely worth the time.
Vices and Virtues
Vices and Virtues ended up being a very fulfilling project for me.
It was creatively challenging: there is space horror, creature horror, psychological horror, murder, magic and mystery. That diversity wasn’t easy to polish into something that could flow together.
It’s also full of amazing authors: C.K. Walker is now writing a show for Netflix, which is amazing. Christopher Bloodworth recently quit his day job and is now a full-time writer. Another several other authors have published their own projects online.
The whole premise was fun. I cannot stress this enough to other creators.
Make your work fun. If it’s fun, you’re more likely to enjoy doing it and that means you’re more likely to finish what you start.
Sometimes finding a theme will help you to narrow down a project.
For us, the idea of basing each story off of a vice or virtue from periods of human history really made the project start to flow.
We took vices and virtues from mythologies, cultures spanning various religions and continents, and all periods of human history.
It was freeing, but also fun to have the constraint of the topics we selected.
What To Do Next
Keep moving forward. Always move forward.
That’s what I plan on doing. I’m not going to stop now. I’m just getting started.
Writing is one of those arts where continuing to do it is really the best thing anyone could do.
Write by yourself and keep that material. Write and publish online or submit to magazines.
Hone your craft by reading literature and books by the current greats. Read books about writing books. Read books about marketing books.
Create your own plans for book launches.
Learn something new every day, write every day, and you’ll find yourself looking back on months and years and realize you were able to create incredible things.
This section will be bulleted. Because everyone loves lists. Hopefully these tips will help you other creators out there:
- Don’t let ignorance or lack of knowledge be an excuse. If you don’t know something, buy a book about it. Google it. Search online and then teach yourself. It will be worth the effort and you will be so glad once you accomplish another small goal.
- Create small goals that are achievable, not impossible goals. Have your big dreams, but also form a series of little goals and dreams that will lead you to the big ones. Write these down. That way you can show yourself that you’re always moving forward.
- Don’t be afraid of criticism. Trolls and haters exist out there and they don’t realize they’re a force for good. They give a lot of negative feedback to often extreme levels. So, first, don’t take them too seriously because they’re only giving exaggerated opinions. Second, listen to their criticism and objectively consider if they may be right. Then fix whatever the problem may be. That’s a solid path to improvement.
- Ask for help. Networking is important in almost every field. The more you network the more you can ask people with more experience than you for help. You may be surprised with how often people are willing to help each other.
- Share your knowledge with others. Once you reach the point where you feel like you understand a lot of what you’ve learned, share that knowledge with others. They’ll remember the favor forever and you will get the chance to potentially change a life.
Hopefully this was helpful in some way.
If you want to chat about writing, creating things, or even talk about the work I’m doing lately, feel free to contact me any time.
Godspeed out there!
-Ashley Franz Holzmann
Visit asforclass.com for more from Ashley.