The Final Hurdle

I have just eight weeks  to go before I complete my undergraduate degree in English Literature and History. Just the matter of a dissertation on fairies, an essay on children’s literature, two essays on creative writing, a 3000 word short story plus edits and one final dreaded exam to get through and I’ll be free, to do what I want – most of the time.

In preparation I’ve been making a few plans. First and foremost is to complete the first draft of Persephone Reborn. I’ve been going through my plot notes and what has already been written and it currently stands at around 32,000 words. That’s about a third of the way through the story, so another 60-80,000 words and it will be ready for the first round of rewrites and edits. It makes the 15,000 words or so that I have left to write for university seem almost easy in comparison, but I would much rather be working on the novel than planning another essay.

Having had to put my writing career on hold for the best part of the last five years it’s been a struggle to build a readership for my books, but I’m hoping to change that by using this blog as a base from which I can share insights into my writing process and interesting (I hope) posts that relate to what I’m working on. You can probably expect things about the locations, history and myths that feature in the next novel, everything from Greek vampires to Liverpool’s sunken graveyard and I’m going to try and become more active on  instagram, facebook, twitter and pinterest. All things I’ve neglected over the last few years.  I’m not the most natural self-promoter so we’ll see what happens.

For the moment it’s back to that essay…

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter




Ignoring Advice from Stephen King

File:Onwriting.jpgOn Writing by Stephen King isn’t really a book of advice for writers, its about one man’s journey to becoming a writer. The advice is there between the anecdotes and the difficulties he’s encountered along the way. If there is one thing he believes is the best way to write a book it’s to get the story out from beginning to end without plotting in advance because you just don’t know where the story is going to take you.

That’s true, I have written scenes where my characters have taken over, said or done something I wasn’t expecting and taken the story in an unexpected direction which meant having to change the plan, often substantially. In the story I’m currently writing Cora’s tutor tells her something I expected to keep secret from her for a few more chapters. I couldn’t believe he’d done that. It changed everything and the twenty thousand word synopsis I’d written suddenly became obsolete.

I had two choices. I could rewrite the scene the way I’d originally planned or I could stick with the new version and see what happened, adapting the plan I thought I would be following as I went along. Since I liked the new version, and I think these spontaneous changes happen for a reason, I decided to stick with it.

Like Mr King, a lot of my ideas begin with a ‘what if’ moment, but I have to transfer that initial flash of light bulb inspiration into an outline and from there I compile a chapter list, breaking the story up into pieces, scene by scene, so I have something to follow. Then I can write the scenes that have already formed in my head. I rarely write the story in order and only work from chapter to chapter if no other scenes present themselves.

I often edit as I go too. A big no no if you’re trying to get the story out from start to finish. But when I step away from the keyboard at the end of a writing session the scene bubbles away in my subconscious, throwing up words, descriptions and dialogue that weren’t there during a first frantic typing. Better to go back and put them in now before they fade from memory as quickly as they emerged.

If I had the luxury of being able to sit and write and write for hours on end, instead of grabbing the odd fifteen minutes or so before having to leave the house or fit it in to the breaks between lectures, would I follow Stephen King’s advice? Probably not.

I like having my map, but even the map gets redrawn when the story starts to write itself and escapes the boundaries into new territory. It’s a guide not a rule book. If I’d written Blackfeather from start to finish when I first had the idea it would have been a stand-alone story with a soppy happy ending and, thankfully, that didn’t happen. Of course, editing might have changed that. In the end it’s not how you get the story down that’s important, only that you do.

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter


Angels – The Good, The Bad and the Misunderstood.

This post takes another look at some of the themes in the Blackfeather universe in order to clarify how some of the mythic beings and characters fit into the story. These may be different to the generally held beliefs about these beings in the real world.



Lucifer photo credit: felipe gabaldon

As mentioned in the previous angel lore post, angels or more precisely, guardian angels, shadow their human charges from birth. They are invisible, unless they choose to show themselves and reside in an etheric or energy body on a higher plane than our own.

There are many different types of angels, or hierarchies, but they don’t feature in Blackfeather so I won’t go into them here.


There are only one thousand Watchers on earth at any given time. They do not age, but inhabit semi-physical bodies that can be “killed” in one of three ways; self sacrifice for a human life, breaking the neck and an angelic sword, otherwise damage to the body heals within moments. They retain many of their angelic powers (more of this in a later post), but spend most of their time visible and look just like any other human being. The only things that give them away are their taller than average height and their eyes, which have intensely coloured irises and an oddly mesmeric effect on anyone who stares too long into them.
The primary mission of these supernatural beings is to prevent Lucifer and his demons from having too much influence on the earthly realm. As we mentioned in our previous post, there are many instances where humans have reported miraculous escapes from life threatening situations and have walked away without a scratch from certain death. It is The Watchers they have to thank for their good fortune. A Watcher will voluntarily take the place of a human in such a situation and appear to “die”in his place. His angelic soul then returns to heaven and another takes his place thus maintaining the balance between good and evil.
Whilst they roam the earth, Watchers are, to all intents and purposes exempt from normal angelic rules. They can partake in all earthly pleasures, including sex. In fact one Watcher in particular enjoys his time on earth so much that he has avoided returning home for many, many hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
Watchers and fallen angels can tune in to the location of all their brethren around the globe, no matter where they are and can communicate with one or all of them, telepathically. They can sense the presence of demons but demons cannot sense them. A distinct advantage in the Watchers’ favour.
They rarely advertise their true nature by displaying their wings, but if they do, you will find they are black.
Fallen angels are angels exiled from Heaven for certain misdemeanours or crimes.
They share all the characteristics of The Watchers, but a fallen angel has one purpose while on earth and that is to right the wrong he has done and redeem himself to God’s satisfaction. Only then will he be allowed to return home, to Heaven. A fallen angel (and The Watchers), will do their best to blend in with the era in which they find themselves, and they have even been known to take a job if it will further their cause.
Fallen angels are rare. At the present time there is only one fallen angel on earth and that is our hero, Ashrafel.
Their wings are also black.
A demon is very similar to a fallen angel in so far as he is exiled from Heaven for crimes against God and, they too, inhabit physical bodies. However, demons cannot redeem themselves and return to Heaven. They are classed as “unforgivable” and will never be allowed home. Demons can also be “killed” releasing their demonic souls from their bodies, at which time they return to Hell and rebuild the body they inhabited or choose a new physical human representation to inhabit.
Demons came into being when Lucifer rebelled against God. He and his followers were banished from Heaven, but they also retain angel-like powers. They cause much mischief on earth. It is the domain of The Watchers to prevent this mischief thus preventing Lucifer from gaining a strong foothold here. Demons are extremely vain, are almost always well dressed and supremely arrogant. Their wings are black shot through with red. Some say this is to represent the human blood they have spilled, Lucifer’s are completely red.
All angelic and demonic souls are indestructible by all except one weapon. An angel’s sword. During the war in Heaven all angels carried such weapons and The Watchers and Ashrafel still have access to their swords in an etheric, less deadly format and only use them in extreme circumstances, but they were confiscated from Lucifer’s army after he was defeated by Michael. Only the legendary Malakh Rozeach – The Angel Killer – persists in its physical form here on earth. It is a most deadly weapon for it not only releases the soul of an angel or demon, it can also destroy that soul.
It is virtually impossible to tell any of these beings apart, so if you pass an incredibly handsome young man in the street, who is taller than the average human and whose eyes are of an unusually bright colour, you may be looking at a Watcher, a demon or a fallen angel, so be on your guard until you are 100% certain of their intentions.

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter

6 Reasons Why Every Author Should Self Publish

 Image by "Lynn Gardner on Flickr": and used with Creative Commons License.

Image by “Lynn Gardner on Flickr : and used with Creative Commons License.

When I first began writing seriously I did a lot of reading up on the subject of Indie Publishing versus Traditional Publishing and for a while I was in two minds, weighing up the pros and cons of each, before making a decision on what was best for me. I decided that I really wanted to give self publishing a go, after all what did I have to lose and and I don’t have to close the door on publishing the good ol’ fashioned way; the dream of getting a publishing contract and seeing my books on the shelves of Waterstone’s are still there, but in the meantime my work is “out there”.

Here are a few of my reasons for going down the Indie Publishing route:

1. I don’t want to hand over control of my story to someone else. A publisher might ask you to change the story, the characters or even the title.

2. I don’t want to wait forever for a publishing deal.

3. I want to write for myself and my readers, not for a perceived market or because such and such a topic or genre are “In” right now.

4. If I’m going to do all the work anyway, why should I give a cut of my profits away?

5. It’s FUN. I want to connect with my readers, not spend most of my time submitting to agents and publishers who don’t know or understand me and only see me as a commodity for making more money for themselves. (I appreciate agents are more likely to make the effort to get to know you, but in the end this is a business).

6. It’s environmentally friendly – e-books mean less trees cut down for books which may end up just getting pulped anyway.

I’m sure I could think of a lot more reasons too, but the ones given above cover the main points.

There are downsides, it’s extremely hard work, some people won’t entertain Indie authors because they think the writing is going to be substandard and there’s a lot of competition. I’m responsible for the cover, the blurb, the marketing, everything and though that’s quite liberating it’s also daunting. It’s a great feeling though to see your work up on Amazon alongside your favourite books and if you really need to see it on a shelf you can always take a print copy to Waterstone’s and pose with your book on a shelf behind you 🙂

Nel Ashley is the author of Blackfeather – a Fallen Angel Paranormal Romance  and Immortal, the second book in the Blackfeather Series. She is currently working on her third novel, Persephone Reborn, a vampire romance influenced by Greek mythology.

You can also connect with Nel on Facebook and Twitter