All posts by Ashley Deng

Lover of history, revolutions, art, fashion, and all things black and Gothic. Artist, writer, and chemistry nerd.

2021 Reading

It’s been a weird year for me both writing-wise and reading-wise. Wrote a novella, had a prose crisis, took three months off to read and study, still had a prose crisis, read some more, and did a particularly aggressive tearing down of my own writing.

Prose out of crisis, 32 books later.

Which is… unusual. I stopped reading much in high school, when I developed a particularly nasty short attention span. I’ve read more published fiction this past year than I have between 2010-2020. I don’t really know how to feel about that.

So, naturally, I should have some thoughts on the books I’ve read, right? I do, sort of. I’m a very neutral person and as a result, I don’t really have any strong feelings toward the majority of the books I’ve read this year. I do have some favourites I want to highlight, though.

Continue reading 2021 Reading

On Process

I’ve been writing for a while now, starting back in 2009 and writing and improving my craft with the intent to publish since 2011. I was 15 when I first started sending out short fiction to markets in hopes of publication. But I still took a break to hone my craft and focus on school and succeeded in 2018, at age 21.

The thing is, I feel like I learned very little for the big chunk of that time. The tools and methods available to me were very, very prescriptive and encouraged a writing process that ultimately stagnated my writing instead of improving it. Checklists for worldbuilding, plot, and characters; character profiles that listed minute details that are irrelevant to the story; an expectation to adhere to appeasing a Western SFF-reading majority in both prose level information and how a story is told; everything that taught me to look at elements of a story (its narrative, concept, and plot; its characters, setting, and genre) as separate elements that need to be forced together rather than crafted to work from conception.

The last point is what I want to get at.

Continue reading On Process

Short story announcement!

Weird having two so close together but also these are probably going to be all I’ve got for the year (because…. publishing is slow).

Anyway, my second person mushroom people autocannibalism story is now live over at Nightmare Magazine. Please enjoy for the soft body horror and a trip through childhood traumas. (yay)

And! A short little interview that I think covers whatever I was going to put in my supplemental.

Anyway this blog will go back to collecting dust I think, unless something pressing comes up.

Critique Considerations

Or, “How to Make Yourself a Valuable Critique Partner”

Or, I guess, “Critiquing fiction 201” because I feel like most advice is usually at the 101 level.

What does that mean, you ask? I’ll get into that.

I have… too much, I think, experience in various writing communities online. I have a brain wired to trends and patterns and boy there are some trends and patterns people rehash when they give out critique. My goal here is to help you break away from that, to teach you how to read critically and write critically about a work without resorting to prescriptive advice.

Why not prescriptive writing advice? I mean, the short answer is that it’s bad. The long answer is that when you give out the same advice, based off arbitrary “rules” that were established by watering down more nuanced theory and repeated ad nauseum in quick soundbites, you get a lot of same-y writing and further encourage that same-y writing that is generally catered to the traditions of white, western storytelling traditions.

Continue reading Critique Considerations

A Brief Update and Some Publishing News

I’ve got two of these this month and then who knows how long until the next one.

Still. It’s a bit of a weird time, with far more pressing things going on so I’ll just keep this brief.

I am… attempting to finish up a sort of “Critiquing and Feedback 201” type post for this blog. I’ll hopefully get it done soon and not leave it in my drafts like everything else. Similarly, I’ve added an editing services page onto here. I’m hoping to just officially expand on a skillset I’ve worked on for years.

“Sun, Moon, and Wretched Star” is now up at Fireside, accompanied by that beautiful illustration from Shaina Lu (there’s no way Pablo Defendini knew but he managed to pair up a Hakka Chinese artist with a Hakka Chinese writer!)

I now have a Curious Fictions page which I intended to have some work up by now (a story of mine from 2017 that has since failed to find a home) but the world exploded and it doesn’t feel right to put out new content when we should elevating other voices at the moment. So, I’ll do that at a later time.


In an incredibly DeviantART/LiveJournal move, have the songs I’ve had on repeat since the protests began:

  • Sons of Privilege – Alexisonfire
  • This is America – Childish Gambino
  • Amerika – Rammstein

A bit of housekeeping

If anyone reads this anymore, you may notice some of my older posts have disappeared. I’ve made them private for a few reasons, but the main one is that they were written years before I properly immersed myself in the world of published SFF and I was pointing out problems that the industry had already begun to address. So, not exactly necessary for me to keep around nor a particularly good reflection of myself for that matter.

I suppose this blog has had a shift in focus; I’m not particularly interested in discussing genre fiction in the same fashion, because I’m finding many of these conversations already exist. Maybe I’ll return, but with more books to highlight certain aspects. Maybe this will continue to just be my author page (and I’ve changed the URL to reflect that). We’ll see.

Publication news!

Forgot to announce it!! My short story, THE SEAFARER, will be appearing in Queen of Swords Press anthology, Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space)!

This is my first publication, and I’m very proud of my work (and super excited to be a part of an anthology!)

I’ve been riding the residual pirate feels from Black Sails to produce both this and another short story in this universe. Finishing up a third and onto the novella! Hopefully I can get it done before the end of August. They’re no Caribbean pirates, and some of the themes are slightly different, but Black Sails was a Key Source for those good, good gay pirate feelings.

Anyway, the table of contents looks super interesting and if anyone’s interested in some good lgbt pirate content, I highly suggest checking it out when it’s released this December! My Barbary pirates will be included c:

Beautiful Losers or How Leonard Cohen broke how I thought about fiction writing

Where do I even begin.

There’s no doubt Cohen is most well known for his poetry, for Hallelujah in particular. He became such an icon in poetry that “poet” was possibly a sexy career choice. He also wrote some fiction, one of which I read a few months ago for a class, and the other novel I had continued to read excerpts of.

Mostly, though, I want to talk about Beautiful Losers.

Continue reading Beautiful Losers or How Leonard Cohen broke how I thought about fiction writing