35 Days to 35: Ten Steps Back (7 more days)

I’m not even sure I know how to explain how I feel. I took the above image a few days ago, but I feel like it rings true for me right now. In a small way, I know what that tree feels like. It spent years growing out a beautiful limb, only to have it hacked off at the trunk.

One step forward, ten steps back.

I’m better now, that much I can tell you, and while the heartbreak is familiar, it just doesn’t seem to get easier to bear.

After weeks of work, and the past two days filled with such tediousness I couldn’t even bear to tell you about, I finished everything I could do on my own for the book. All that was left was a citation page that Jillian had agreed to help with, and a tweak for the cover that my friend Josh was going to try and help me with this weekend.

All of a sudden, things were not only on track, they were ahead of schedule. The book looked beautiful. I was incredibly proud. I couldn’t believe it.

I should have known. The very book I’m editing is filled with so many examples of this very thing. When attempting to fix the formatting of the drop caps, Jillian said, “I can’t believe there’s not an easier way.”

I said, “Jillian. You just read the book. When I’m involved, there’s NEVER an easier way.” We shared a nice laugh.

I should have known.
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35 Days to 35: Have book, will travel

Turned in the book this morning to Jillian, copy editor extraordinaire. She is one of the major forces behind the copy editing/proofing of my Mom’s book, “One Life” (which continues to get rave reviews, to all our delight). She’s already contacted me about some minor details she’s noticed, so I’m confident I’m in very good, very meticulous hands.

While she is busy working on the final draft I thought maybe I’d put out some feelers for people/places that might be interested in our book once it DOES come out. Very interested, mildly interested, nothing better to do interested, I’m really not picky.
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35 Days to 35: Weekend Plans

It is February 6th, so that means I have twenty more days to try and finish up the book. On one hand, I feel like that is plenty of time, but on the other, oh so familiar worried hand, that doesn’t seem like time enough. Especially given my work and theatre schedule during the week.

Therefore, my immediate weekend plans, beginning right now, are to work on the book. Specifically, I want to:

-Insert the new (utterly adorable) illustrations my Mom completed and turned in.
-Begin working on the edits that Rachael found when reading through the manuscript.
-Do some revisions of my own and update some of the information.
-Take the fantastic advice given me about my book cover design, tweak and refine it.

I’m putting my plans on here to force some accountability to myself. The weather is supposed to be lovely this weekend, and while I’d like to be outside enjoying it, there is much to be accomplished. That is part of the price you pay for ardently pursuing a goal. Perhaps I will compromise and open a window!

Sometimes I get cranky and feel like I’d rather go watch a movie, but then I remember that no one else is going to do this for me, and putting it off doesn’t make it happen. I have to make it happen, and the ‘sooner I get to it, the sooner I can get through it.’


Hmmm…it appears that’s the best encouragement I have for you today. Something that reads like it would be better on a tee-shirt. :/

We’re all allowed off days, right?

Right at 35 days before my 35th birthday, Rachael and I found out that a book we wrote about our experience making our first film “No Lost Cause,” was being returned to us by the publisher after a year of waiting for it to be printed. Instead of wallowing in our collective misery, I committed to blogging every day while I searched for ways to overcome this perceived rejection and obstacle to our goal. I currently also have about three other projects brewing at the same time, and write about the progress of each of them. This is part of that series.

Read the first entry here: https://ashleyraymerbrown.com/2015/01/23/35-days-to-35-dealing-with-rejection/

35 Days to 35: Two Weeks Notice

I am now finishing week two of this daily blogging experiment, and I never thought I’d be able to come up with something to talk about every day. I never thought I was really that interesting, or that the things I did would be that interesting to others. I think that at this point in the year, the variety of projects I’m currently involved in has helped make the content more readable.

I was also worried (because of course I was) about coming clean about this hiccup in our plans to get the book published. I fretted that I’d look more like a failure than an encouragement to others. After all, we’d told so many people that it was going to be published, and that it was only a matter of time. I felt like this admission would look a lot more like the rejection I was trying not to have it feel like.
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35 Days to 35: It’s Complicated

An Evening of One Acts. That sounds so simple. So straightforward. So….boring.

If a community theatre is putting on a show that their potential audience hasn’t heard of before, which we are, because four of the five are written by me, and two of the four I wrote specifically for this show, then the title is pretty important. It’s like an outfit you pick out for a first date. It’s the first thing your audience will see, and often a snap judgment will be made based on that title. I want the reaction to be more, “Ooo! That sounds good! I think I’ll go see it”  rather than, “Yawn. I’d rather stay home and watch a Netflix marathon of Friends. 

An Evening of One Acts just wasn’t cutting it. Based on that title, I didn’t even want to come see the show. I was racking my brain trying to come up with a unifying theme for the subject matter. There was so many themes to choose from: Love, Life, Literature, Friendship, History, Second Chances, Second Loves, Second Thoughts…

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35 Days to 35: Betting on the Impossible

Now that we’ve fully accepted the rejection of our manuscript from the printer by eating our comfort food, venting our true feelings, and staring numbly into space, we need to move on.

Rachael and I exchanged a flurry of phone calls and text messages when the news broke, culminating in a two plus hour meeting going over the manuscript and discussing our options. There were several on the table, but only one that we both felt comfortable with.


Not that we don’t want to send off the manuscript to other publishers, or that we think it will get turned down. We do, and we don’t know. It might get turned down, it might not.

Mostly, it comes down to timing. If our last experience is any indication, if we sent the book off and got accepted by another publisher this very week, it could be a year to eighteen months before it is actually printed and released. This September, it will be the five year anniversary of the start of filming “No Lost Cause.”
When we penned the book, it had only been three. If things don’t happen soon, our cute little “Behind the Scenes” companion piece to the movie is going to be better categorized as a memoir.
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Climbing the Mountain

As someone who seemingly has unceasing dreams and aspirations, I can honestly say I understand the drive, the passion and the insanity that a big dream, or even a calling, can inflict upon the poor soul who dared to have it in the first place.

In 2012, my mother, Rebekah, was inflicted by such a calling. She called me and told me she had an idea for a story, maybe even a novel. She outlined the whole thing for me and then laughed as she told me I should write it for her. To her shock and dismay, I turned her down. “That’s the thing about a dream, Mom. It has to be lived out by the person who has it. Nobody else can do it for you.”

“But I don’t know how!” she replied. I reminded her that my first film was made with little more knowledge than that. But I learned along the way, and there was one thing I was certain of. If I could do it, she could do it. While I knew it would be scary for her, I also knew that there was no replacement for the euphoria she would feel when she finished. Even if, as she said she feared, no one ever read it, it would be her own personal scaled mountain.

And the view would be glorious.

Once she realized I was serious when I said I wasn’t going to write it for her, she decided she would tackle that mountain. On December 27th, 2012, she began her story.

Now, December 27, 2014, exactly two years, and hundreds of hours of writing, researching, and rewriting later, not only does she have a completed book, but she has a SECOND book fully drafted. On November 1st of this year, she entered NaNoWriMo, which is short for “National Novel Writing Month.” The goal is to draft a 50k word novel in 30 days or less.

She finished in 21.

Back in July, I asked her to sit down and answer a few questions about the book. I told her I would publish them when the book became available. This is that interview.
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Happiness is Cake

“Good things come to those who wait.”

That’s a very encouraging sentiment, and could even be considered words to live by. I could also guarantee you without so much as a second of research that the above is a string of words first uttered by someone whose mouth was packed full of freshly baked cake. The extra ten pounds I’ve been carrying on my thighs for the past ten years is evidence enough of my own personal belief in that statement.

Think about it; has their ever been a more perfect moment than when we first partake of this warm, confectionary burst of happiness? Such simple ingredients; eggs, water, butter, cake mix (let’s be real) a dash of vanilla and a pinch of love, poured in a pan and baked to 350 degrees of golden joy. Roughly 30 minutes later, after a slathering of chocolate icing, and a scattering of sprinkles (for whimsy) the final result is a nigh on guarantee to cure any ill.

Now that we’re all hungry, what’s the point?
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