First Things First – Stormy
On March 24, 2003, I published a Matrix fanfic. It had a hacker character. Now, I’d written this fanfic out of a kind of desperation, something to distract myself from how obsessed I was with Lord of the Rings.
Heh. Wow. That kind of backfired spectacularly, and in the weirdest way.
Fifteen years later, I’m still going. Stef’s a consistent part of my life, as much as a family member, and through her various forms, I’ve known her for longer than any friend I’ve ever had.
I have made a lot of dumb decisions with Cookie, from how I’ve handled releases, to side projects that fizzled and gone nowhere. I’ve lost inspiration, I’ve broken promises, and I’ve retraced my own steps so many times I’ve dug a trench.
I’ve so often wanted to let go, because I thought I wasn’t good enough, or that the world didn’t need Cookie, and a hundred similar thoughts. And my own mental illness – which is of a different flavour to what Stef deals with, but has as significant impact on my life – tells me I’m right to doubt myself.
But there are a few things that tell me that maybe, just maybe that Cookie is worth keeping and continuing.
Aside from my spouse (Matthew) and my sister (Miranda), every other friend I have is someone who started off as a fan.
Wraith, someone I think of as a brother, someone who crossed the world to come live with me for two months, was a fan.
Frogge, whose bride I just walked down the aisle, was a fan.
Leaky, whose kids I send Christmas presents to, was a fan.
Shade, who came to Wraith with a self-insert fanfic, is now my closest collaborator, and I dread/can’t wait for the day we unleash Vincent on you all.
Cookie has changed my life, giving me friends, family and lols.
And I know it’s not just me.
A number of years ago (I love that phrase, sounds writerly), someone sent me a message, telling me that they were going to go on meds, because they saw Stef trying to improve. That if Stef could take steps, so could they.
I made a change in someone’s life.
Something I wrote helped someone.
And it makes me think of all the media that has impacted me – from the Animorphs I read as a kid, books that were what I had instead of friends; to TV where I looked for the familial relationships and influences that I didn’t have – it’s easy to recognise that part of us is the stories we consume.
And in that miasma, I think Cookie might just have a spot, for all the lost nerds, the people who want to find family, and everyone else who can see a reflection of themselves in someone we put into words.
None of us gets to be who we wanted to be. No one gets that perfect story. But..it might be okay anyway. You might get adopted by an angel. You might have a friend willing to make a dictionary to understand your nerd speak. You might realise you have worth.
The Agency always has space for anyone who wants to be there, and so does family, and if you’re reading this, you’re part of ours.
So the above is my love letter to everyone, to let you know we’re back, and if I can keep my brain awfuls at bay, that we’re continuing on.
First Things First – Shade
Six years ago, I spent a week in Colorado, on vacation, and it changed my life forever. I met many wonderful people whom I had previously only interacted with online. I stayed with Wraith, who, at the time, was re-reading the entirety of Stormy’s writing.
I got home from my vacation and spent a day and a half doing that myself. I wasn’t even finished with the first book (are we still calling them books? Are they arcs now? Seasons? Man, whatever.) and an idea popped into my brain. I asked Wraith about some of the details about the world Stormy created, and he eventually just said “Okay, there are limits to what I know, here’s Stormy, bug her now.”
And Stormy’s regretted it ever since.
So, I submitted this utterly awful thing about a recruit annoying an Agent, based very, very, very loosely on my short vacation. And I wrote some more. And even more.
Then I had a stupid idea about “what if this idiot character I wrote interacted with the main cast?”
I wrote a few small interactions with the established cast. It worked. It worked too well. This idiot I wrote fell into place absolutely too perfectly, and actually filled a number of potential plot holes.
I talked more with Stormy. I talked more with Wraith. I talked a few of my friends into reading it. I wrote. Stormy wrote. We collaborated. The first few arcs about Stef are still wholly Stormy’s brainchild, but if you look closely, you can see tiny tweaks here and there where I’ve had a hand in (hopefully) improving.
Here it is, six and a half years later. We’ve got a plot spanning at least 9 different storylines, and can’t wait to actually have them out for people to see.
I’ve plotted so much for Vincent, and nobody but us has really seen what he’s all about. I hope to one day see Vincent in some form or other done right by someone who isn’t me.
Ash & Blue
We’re re-launching – and for about six months, I’ve been thinking that that meant a full reboot (and I have about 15,000 words to show for that effort), including such measures even as drastic as writing out the mirror concept altogether.
But as I’ve made peace with various things, I’ve decided against something that drastic. Instead, it’s something much softer, like a final draft of a script before a movie gets filmed.
A couple of plot threads that went nowhere are getting pruned, and I’m adjusting some of the tone (think MS/FAS; limit tests/Russia), I’d like to back away a bit from the darkness, not remove it altogether, just to make it less of miserable slog.
Today, July 2nd, is my birthday (I accept cash, books and Overwatch merch if you want to spoil me). Today is Announcement Day; Launch Day is Stef’s birthday, September 13th.
And as I’m sitting here writing the draft, I realise I’ve buried the lede.
We’re relaunching as a podcast.
We’re hoping this accessible format will draw in a larger audience, as it’s something you can consume on a commute, a run, or even on the loo.
I know for myself, over the last two years pretty much every book I’ve consumed (I honestly think graphic novels are the only exception) has been in the audio format. (Read a book? No time! Consume the entirety of The Adventure Zone? No problem!).
The text chapters will be there for the people who prefer that format (if this is you, would an additional step, such as ePub/Kindle files for each chapter be helpful?).
Chapters/Episodes will be released fortnightly – at least to start with, we don’t want to over-extend as we move into a new format – and see how that goes for six months or so.
[New episodes will be available via the site, Spotify, iTunes, and RSS.]
We’re rebranding as Ash & Blue, for the sake of acknowledging, all the changes, and the new format.
Short list of things that are and aren’t changing due to the rebrand.
Website: New! http://ashandblue.com/
Facebook: New! https://www.facebook.com/AshandBlue/
Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Patreon: New! https://www.patreon.com/AshandBlue
Discord: New! https://discord.gg/hz3wKfB
Mailing List: Unchanged
We’ll have patchy updates until Launch Day, but for the optimal experience, do this:
- Check out the new site
- Join the Discord
- Make sure you’re on the mailing list