For our March meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Rising From Ash by Jax Meyer. If you weren't able to make it, check out the transcript below.
A couple of notes on the transcript:
If you want to join us live, we discuss lesfic novels every month at http://lesficlove.com (sign up or follow me on Twitter to find out what we're reading next). Some chat participants requested that their names be obscured, so below you'll see that everyone has been anonymized as Reader 1, Reader 2, etc.
Jax 3:20 PM
While people are waiting, I put information up on Pinterest
Reader 1 3:45 PM
Love the Pinterest inspiration - always cool to see the visuals inside an author’s head
Jax 3:47 PM
Yeah Lee Winter has some cool pinterest boards for her books
Reader 2 4:02 PM
We're the MC's always gonna be Phoenix and Ash?
Reader 3 4:02 PM
There are books that go from country, beach, cruise, cities. Why the south pole?
Jax 4:02 PM
and why don't I start with the characters and setting since it all is the same story?
Way back in... late 2018 I think, we were all talking here about settings. Don't remember why. I mentioned wanting to do something at the South Pole. My reason was marketing. There aren't books set there and since I've been there, it was something I could write intelligently about. And then @Reader 1 said she'd want to read that so I had to do it.
Reader 4 4:05 PM
Why were you there @Jax ? Leisure, work, or something else?
Jax 4:05 PM
Finding the characters took a lot longer. I decided I needed a character that reminded me of my wife. Someone with a rough past but was freaking brilliant. I spent a lot of time with characters who weren't like my wife so I thought it'd be a nice switch. Plus, if she reads it, she'll get to hear me say all the things Ash says to Phoenix and maybe listen. Then again, i've said them to her plenty and she still doesn't always believe me. So...
And then Ash came about because I was realizing my own asexuality and thought, what better pairing than to explore something we've had to navigate with zero knowledge for (now) 20 years.
Anywhere but the South Pole, they wouldn't be forced together.
Their names was intuition. Phoenix was a cool name, and as I brainstormed common names with Lou Ashley popped out as a good one. It took a solid minute to realize the connection.
Reader 4 4:07 PM
Phoenix is the coolest name ever!
Reader 2 4:08 PM
Jax 4:08 PM
We laughed for a while about it. I love that stuff.
@Reader 4 I was at the pole for the same reason as Ash the year prior and Emily. Two weeks of research experience with the IceCube project. I was the first undergraduate to go in 2002.
It kicked off a whole program of undergrads going, which I didn't know until a few years ago. Now 1 or 2 go each summer (our winter break).
Reader 1 4:09 PM
Were you nervous about the trip when you went?
Jax 4:10 PM
It was very handy to use my old connections to talk to one of the who was wintering over as I wrote. (edited)
@Reader 1 I wasn't very nervous. Granted it was almost 18 years ago, but I love traveling. Getting to go while someone else paid for it was the best.
Reader 1 4:11 PM
I always heard the boat portions could be somewhat harrowing
Reader 5 4:10 PM
The IceCube project is really interesting!
Jax 4:11 PM
No boats for us. Only planes. C-130, C-141.
@Reader 5 IceCube is one of the few projects that came in on time, under budget, and produces more data than they anticipated. It's a great project.
Reader 5 4:13 PM
That same year I got to manage operations of the Hobby Eberly telescope in Texas...another very cost effective project...at the time it was the worlds third largest array optical instrument. So I can relate a bit to your excitement.
Reader 2 4:13 PM
@Jax do you think that the experience of being somewhere very unique has changed you and your outlook on life, the universe etc.
Reader 3 4:13 PM
How did you come with Ash writing fanfiction?
Jax 4:13 PM
@Reader 2 I've always had a unique view of the world. What is has done is make me very impatient with conspiracy theories. There's no hole in Antarctica. Yes it exists. No wall either. lol
@Reader 3 I don't remember exactly why Ash wrote fanfic. Those developments blurred together. But I wanted them to draw a comic and she needed a hobby. That was the simplest solution.
It gave me an excuse for them to spend more time together because they couldn't be characters that just fell together in five minutes.
Reader 1 4:17 PM
I think you did a great job of letting them clash and work through their problems without a lot of unnecessary angst
What was the hardest thing about this book for you?
Jax 4:18 PM
The hard part was explaining why they had to make up quickly. That took a few editing passes. To me it was obvious, knowing how they'd approach choosing candidates for a Mars trip, but not everyone knows.
Oh, the hardest was the argument in McMurdo. By far. That was at least three separate rewrites.
Reader 6 4:18 PM
Why do you find it hard to write angst? I do too but I like reading books with low angst the best
Jax 4:18 PM
Because I love my characters and want them to be happy!
Reader 5 4:18 PM
Can you tell us a bit about how you got the setting at the current facility so accurate? I felt I was watching a movie as I read and when I looked at photos on line afterward the facility was exactly as I saw it in my imagination.
Jax 4:19 PM
Youtube @Reader 5. Youtube is a godsend.
For instance, I had no idea that observation tube existed, but it was a random suggestion as I researched.
Reader 6 4:20 PM
I like writing arguments but hate splitting MC’s up. If Ash goes to Mars will that split them up?
Jax 4:20 PM
So, that's the big question. What happens with Ash's dream?
I do have a solution for that now, but I will say, there are many ways to fulfill a dream.
Reader 1 4:21 PM
That’s a good question for a romance tho - sometimes with other books it feels like the solutions have been reverse-engineered to fit the characters together, but Mars is a big problem to work thru
Jax 4:22 PM
It is, especially while Phoenix keeps supporting her dream.
It becomes the crux of the next book.
Reader 2 4:22 PM
What I really liked was how Ash opened up Phoenix's feelings and emotions, and Phoenix was so beautifully respectful of Ash's asexuality.
Jax 4:23 PM
A lot of the conversations with Phoenix working through her past have happened between my wife and I in some form.
Listening to the audio this week actually made me emotional remembering all that. And seeing how much affects her now. Then I think about all the other people I know who are truly phenomenal people and have horrible families who make them think they suck.
I'm always torn when someone says they relate to Phoenix. I'm glad, and I hope it helps them see their awesomeness, but I'm also sad because in an ideal world they wouldn't relate to her.
Reader 6 4:26 PM
Out of all your books then who would you like to marry, kill, or like to be stuck in a lift with?
Jax 4:27 PM
lol Oh man... Well, I killed the one person I'd definitely kill in Marine discovery. I try not to write awful characters. Though Phoenix's dad is definitely on the kill list. The rest are all ones I'd love to hang out with. And marry is a dangerous question. I mean, I kinda did marry Phoenix. :wink: But... Sharon is pretty damn awesome.
Though I'd have to fight @Reader 3 for Sharon.
Reader 7 4:28 PM
Yeah, she is
Reader 6 4:28 PM
Good answer, Sharon is my lift person for sure
Reader 3 4:28 PM
I'll marry Sharon!!
Reader 2 4:29 PM
When you wrote this book did you know there was more than one book for this couple?
Jax 4:29 PM
Yes, this was planned as a series. For once, I planned a head a little.
Reader 2 4:30 PM
Also, Cam is adorable. You all can have Sharon!
Jax 4:31 PM
Since Cam is based a lot on me (but better), I'd never choose Cam because that's weird.
But you can have her.
Reader 5 4:31 PM
Since you brought up Marine's Heart...will we get a book about Sarah? She's pretty awesome.
Jax 4:31 PM
No, no books about Sarah because she is based very much on my real life best friend and that's too weird.
But she'll appear in Marine's Heart book 5 and I might give her an off the page hookup or something.
She needs to get heart eyes over someone so Cam can give her a massive amount of crap.
To go back to the RFA series quick, I don't know if it will be three books total or more. I think I can wrap up Phoenix and Ash with the next book. But I want to give Cole their own book and let Pash pop in.
Reader 2 4:33 PM
Is there another genre you want to try writing, say historical or mystery?
Reader 8 4:33 PM
Does writing help you heal 'wounds', process things that happened..?
Jax 4:34 PM
@Reader 2 the research for Arine Awakening was annoying enough. I don't think I'd enjoy historical. I'd like to dive into more of the spiritual stuff, so urban fantasy. But that's still a ways off. I have 3 or 4 books to write in my queue already, without brainstorming much.
And I'd suck at mystery.
@Reader 8 I process a ridiculous amount through my books. Some of my personal blogging gets into that, but I also try to be careful not to make it too much about my own stuff. It does parallel a lot though.
Reader 3 4:35 PM
Maybe something related to soccer
Reader 2 4:35 PM
Know your strengths right?
Jax 4:36 PM
For example, the Marine's Heart series (during the military years) allowed me to imagine a version of me that didn't get kicked out before I really got to do much.
@Reader 3 I'd love to write some kids' books involving soccer.
@READER 8 Rae and I were brainstorming books about women's tackle football. So that might happen someday. I hope it does at least.
READER 8 4:37 PM
How has support for this book different from the books of A Marine’s Heart? Do you have the same fans or has this brought more?
God knows it’s one of my favorites
I’m still down for the idea
Reader 1 4:38 PM
Lesfic needs some sports romance - we don’t have much of it
Jax 4:38 PM
@READER 8 it's been different. Sales were slower. I reached out to Jae, being the only lesfic author I know who wrote about ace characters and asked for advice. She helped me focus on more promo, but also joint things with her that helped immensely. We did an ace character chat on her page. A podcast with the lesbian talk show.
In the end, this book may still have not sold quite as much, but I have amazing reviews and people are very enthusiastic about it.
Reader 6 4:39 PM
Are you going to write a book that’s completely standalone or are you always intending to write series?
Jax 4:39 PM
@Reader 6 I hope to finally get my standalone books going. One might end up being written as a screenplay instead since it's so audio/visual focused.
The problem is, these characters need to tell their stories. So it will be another year at least.
READER 8 4:41 PM
How is the quarantine helping with your writing? Or is it?
Reader 6 4:41 PM
I know you’ve recently collaborated on a book (:wink:) would you ever do that again or has this experience put you off
Reader 1 4:41 PM
Do you pretty much have the whole book already played out in your head before you start writing, or when you say they need to tell their stories, do you mean figuring out the characters as people before you write?
Jax 4:41 PM
@READER 8 it helps because I'm not ubering, so there's more time. It hurts because kiddo needs attention. So... it's a mix. But I'm excited to do edits soon because I can only do that at the computer.
@Reader 1 hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
I'm such a pantser. For the same reason I can't play chess. Every interaction affects the next. I can't write out of order, unless it's to figure out the feel of something.
The best I have are big moments to hit. I do know where they need to end up, and try to figure out their big moment, but a lot of time that can't be determined until I'm in the story.
@Reader 6 co-writing is a unique experience. And it helped a lot with these last AMH books. It's a challenge, but also fun.
I might change my answer when the edits come back.
Oh, you guys want to know something funny?
Reader 8 4:45 PM
Jax 4:45 PM
Phoenix worked at Hooters because I was picking up an Uber Eats order at the one local to me. There was a woman in the back cooking. It made me wonder, not that I'd ever have the courage to ask her anything. But that was where that came from.
And no, she did not look like a Hooters Girl. She looked a bit like I'd expect from Phoenix.
READER 8 4:46 PM
Do you have any idea where uh... I can’t remember her name. The other woman. In Antarctica. Where she went and what her story is?
Reader 1 4:46 PM
Ooh, Skye? I liked her - she needs a book
Jax 4:47 PM
Skye? My troublemaker? Wherever the wind takes her. Lol
She was fun.
READER 8 4:47 PM
I’d be interested to see if she ever meets someone just as wild as she is
Jax 4:47 PM
Lots of free spirits at the Pole on the non-science side.
Oh that makes my head hurt. Someday I might have the ability to do that.
Reader 6 4:47 PM
Book number 75 maybe??
Jax 4:48 PM
Each book stretches my muscles to create characters. But that's a huge stretch.
Reader 5 4:48 PM
So...why Corn Bake? That was my favorite scene by the way...
Jax 4:48 PM
Oh, because it's a weird midwestern thing and super yummy.
READER 8 4:48 PM
I want the gravy
Jax 4:48 PM
All the food was based on things my wife makes. Those chicken nuggets are my birthday meal and heavenly.
My wife makes killer gravy. And all of Thanksgiving. That cole slaw is to die for as well.
Oh, in 2022, whoever comes to Denver for GCLS can come to our house and we'll throw a feast.
The seasoning mix is called Andy's red breading, or might now only be called Andy's Cajun. You can buy it
READER 8 4:50 PM
I will 100% be there
Jax 4:50 PM
But Phoenix had to make it, and that's something my wife does too
Also, the story of her grandma going to alaska... that happened in real life.
Reader 2 4:50 PM
Which writers do you admire?
Jax 4:52 PM
@Reader 2 so many writers. My favorites list on goodreads gives you an idea. (I'll link it a bit later). But my ultimate, best writers that make me wonder if I'll ever be good enough include: Lee Winter, EJ Noyes, Jae, Melissa Brayden, Radclyffe for her epic series, Robin Alexander for her humor and families...
There's a reason why I chose the absolute top of my list. Otherwise the list never ends!
Also, I'm behind on reading so...
Reader 1 4:53 PM
I can’t argue with that list - they’re all fantastic
Reader 6 4:54 PM
All favourites of mine too tbh amongst so many others
Jax 4:55 PM
My goodreads shows how much I love books. I'm very generous with the 5 stars. lol
So what else do you want to know?
Otherwise I have a question for you all
Reader 9 4:56 PM
I know I asked when writing it haha but why Buffy fanfic??
READER 8 4:56 PM
What is your process? Do you require silence, music, chaos, calm? Cats?
Jax 4:56 PM
Because I know the show well enough. And it's fun.
I'm a silence person. I can't think with distractions. the only exception is focus@will music
example. I just had to say, Melody, I love you, but please go.
if I use music it's instrumental only. Words are very distracting.
Music is often distracting.
So I don't write in coffee shops or anything.
Reader 7 4:58 PM
Cats are distracting
Jax 4:58 PM
They definitely can be. As long as they settle in nearby, I'm good with them.
Reader 9 4:58 PM
Hers like to take over the writing :joy:
Jax 4:59 PM
My cat is a bit of an ass. But he's also sweet.
Reader 7 4:59 PM
Mine want to sit on my writing while i'm writing and purr
Reader 10 4:59 PM
If you were to have a pet from a fantasy world (or sci-fi I guess) then what kind of pet would you want?
Jax 4:59 PM
Hmm... Can I have baby yoda? No... that's a sentient creature. Darn.
READER 8 4:59 PM
Jax 5:00 PM
A tiny dragon would be awesome.
But I'd want it to still be free, just hang out with me when it wants.
READER 8 5:00 PM
Yes. All the more special in the choosing
Jax 5:00 PM
I love all animals. Even creepy ones. I just keep my distance.
Reader 1 5:00 PM
Same, except for most snakes and all spiders
Gotta draw a line somewhere
Reader 8 5:01 PM
There is something with tiny dragons and lesbians for sure
Jax 5:02 PM
Okay, question for you all. I'm starting the sequel as soon as AMH book 4 is done. So, now's the time to make requests of what you want to see from Phoenix and Ash. Not saying it will go into the book, but I'll at least consider it.
Right now it's February, they'll be there until October. Then they go home.
READER 8 5:02 PM
I want to see a meeting between ash and the aunt
Jax 5:03 PM
that's definitely happening
Reader 7 5:03 PM
I can't think on the fly like that!
Reader 9 5:03 PM
Yes! That will be interesting!
READER 8 5:03 PM
Maybe have ash cook something for Pheonix
Jax 5:03 PM
You can always tell me later too, if something comes to mind.
Reader 1 5:03 PM
Sexy rock climbing sequence while they’re still there, or vacation when they get home? :smile:
Jax 5:03 PM
Oh, cooking lessons could be interesting.
Reader 3 5:03 PM
How they handle a misunderstanding in the real world
Reader 4 5:03 PM
Yes, more sexy rock climbing sequences!!
Jax 5:03 PM
Oh, there will be lots of that @Reader 3
Reader 6 5:03 PM
I want to see Ash take on Phoenix’s Dad and totally humiliate him
Jax 5:04 PM
There's a chance of something like that @Reader 6. Not sure exactly how yet, but it has to happen.
READER 8 5:05 PM
Or maybe see Pheonix finally standing up to him with finality
Jax 5:05 PM
At some point Phoenix will run. Not exactly sure how far yet, but that needs to happen in some way. She'll get a good ass kicking from her aunt though.
Reader 5 5:05 PM
I'd like to see Phoenix become a successful chef...get rich and take over that Hooters franchise and fire that worthless son of the owner...
READER 8 5:05 PM
That’s real, though. It’s understandable.
Jax 5:05 PM
They won't break up, though.
Hehehe, that's a nice one @Reader 5
READER 8 5:05 PM
Oh! Yes! I want to see the son get what’s coming to him
Reader 6 5:05 PM
Don’t have her cheating tho please. I hate books where they love each other totally then can go away and shag others
Jax 5:06 PM
She won't cheat, just because that's a surefire way to kill a book. There are plenty of ways to show this tension without breaking romance rules.
READER 8 5:06 PM
And the friend from Hooters. I’d like to see her get a happy ending, even off screen
Jax 5:07 PM
Yeah, she'll show back up at least for a bit while they're in Denver. I'll see if I can't get her a happy ending.
What about Phoenix and Ash going to C2E2 convention and meeting Cole?
READER 8 5:07 PM
Idk what that is but I was thinking that too
Jax 5:08 PM
it's the chicago convention
READER 8 5:08 PM
Have a “she’s my best friend” conversation
Reader 3 5:08 PM
But not during corona lol
Jax 5:08 PM
I don't think I want to work covid into the book. Would be interesting though
READER 8 5:08 PM
Don’t you DARE lmao
Jax 5:09 PM
They're in Antarctica while all this explodes.
Reader 1 5:09 PM
lol I keep writing scenes thinking “they shouldn’t do that - social distancing! Oh wait, this is fiction…”
Jax 5:09 PM
Do you guys want to see much more from their time on the ice? I feel like winter will get pretty repetitive so I'm not sure how much I'll show
Probably pick it up with them packing to leave.
(Brainstorming is my favorite part of writing sometimes)
Reader 6 5:10 PM
Maybe have a kids convo. Everyone would expect Phoenix to be against it but you could have Ash against having them instead. Don’t need to get the turkey baster out just yet tho that can be in a final epilogue :joy:
Reader 1 5:10 PM
I think that would work - unless there’s anything really cool in Antarctica that you haven’t had room for yet
Reader 5 5:10 PM
I wondered about what precautions they are taking for the winter over crew there...isn't this about the time they fly people out and resupply for the long winter?
READER 8 5:10 PM
I’m interested to see how they deal with the “where do we go from here” conversation. Obviously, ash has more of a concrete answer because of her job. Does Phoenix follow or does ash move? Or how does that work?
Jax 5:11 PM
I think it will be more fun for them to share their memories with Diane in person.
@Reader 5 the station closes by mid February. typically. then nothing until usually October.
@READER 8 the current plan is for them to spend time in New Zealand and then Denver, and then Phoenix moves to Madison while Ash finishes up.
Beyond that is a mystery to me.
And ultimately they have to reconcile Ash's dream with their relationship. There's no way in hell Phoenix is getting on a spaceship for 4-6 months to go to Mars.
READER 8 5:14 PM
But I would think that Ash would resent to Phoenix for making her give up her dream
Jax 5:14 PM
In the middle of all that is normal life stress. Money. Family. Coping mechanisms changing. It's going to get bumpy.
Ah, see that's why I'm writing the story and not you, @READER 8 :smile:
There's a solution that works and I can tell you in DM if you want.
READER 8 5:14 PM
Yes please lol
Reader 1 5:15 PM
You want the spoilers? Ack!
Reader 3 5:15 PM
I don t think Phoenix would make Ash give up on her dream, I think she'll support her no matter what
READER 8 5:15 PM
I want the spoilers lol
Jax 5:16 PM
Well, how it all comes about is a mystery to me as well
Reader 6 5:16 PM
Everyone’s going to boo me but the more I hear the more I don’t know if I can bear to read it
Jax 5:17 PM
In 6-8 months I should have a draft ready for beta readers.
READER 8 5:17 PM
I volunteer as tribute
Jax 5:17 PM
I promise, it will be ok @Reader 6.
Like I said, they won't break up. They won't separate even. They'll work through it like they always have, just with new screw ups.
For the first time, Ash will truly be stressed as she defends her dissertation. While Phoenix is stressed with work and family. One of them will have to be the grownup.
My editor will definitely have their work cut out for them though.
Making sure the bumps in the road make sense, and are the right intensity... should be fun.
As for kids... I genuinely have no idea what will happen on that front.
I probably won't think about it much until Cole's book.
READER 8 5:21 PM
When cole gets their own book, you could make it a small scene in there. That way you don’t take away from Cole’s story. Like radclyffe did in uh... night call. With Quinn and honor.
Jax 5:21 PM
Yeah, they'll all remain friends, so they'll be able to pop in and offer an update.
Who knows, maybe Cole will be one of those people who always wanted kids, so is a natural person for Ash to talk to.
It seems to fit Cole's personality.
Reader 7 5:23 PM
Does Cole have a partner?
Jax 5:23 PM
That would be their story though. So first, I need to figure out who the heck would be the right partner for Cole. But Cole's story isn't going to be written (unless they start getting really loud in my head) until after AMH book 5 which will close out that series (I hope)
I learn in about two weeks if I got into the screenwriting program. If I did, that will shift my writing schedule as well, since I'll have a year to write a screenplay.
Reader 7 5:25 PM
Reader 1 5:25 PM
Woo hoo, fingers crossed for you!
Reader 5 5:26 PM
Yes, best of luck with that. I'd definitely go see a film you created.
Jax 5:26 PM
I've never written a screenplay. lol But, I have two ideas that would be fun to work on. One is a romcom based in Colorado where a woman's crush at REI teaches her to be comfortable in the outdoors. The other is a romance between a singer and her formerly straight dancer.
Reader 6 5:26 PM
Any film by you will be awesome
Jax 5:26 PM
The second may basically be Halsey/Jade fanfic...
The other is just an idea that hit me one day. Either way, I'll keep applying to the program until I get in.
Any other questions? About anything?
Reader 5 5:28 PM
Ok, when you were on IceCube, what was your major?
Jax 5:29 PM
Reader 5 5:29 PM
Nice, I started in Physics but the Air Force turned me into an engineer...still love Physics though.
Reader 1 5:30 PM
More power to both of you - I am not a hard science kinda person :smile:
Jax 5:31 PM
I love it, but didn't do as well as I should due to undiagnosed ADHD. I wish I'd known and had meds then. But, life works as it should.
Reader 7 5:31 PM
There were four people in my HS physics class. I was the dumb one.
Jax 5:32 PM
Everyone has different skills, abilities, and interests.
I'm trying to think of any other random tidbits... I'll probably come up with some later. I'm glad you enjoyed the book. It was the scariest to publish, by far.
But it was worth it.
Reader 7 5:33 PM
Yeah. I did fine, i just wasn't used to not being at the top of the class. So it kinda ruined it for me.
But you're brilliant
Reader 1 5:33 PM
It was fantastic, Jax - loved the unconventional setting and Phoenix and Ash are great. I can’t wait to read their next story
Reader 5 5:34 PM
Agree with Reader 7....brilliant!
Reader 10 5:34 PM
I found it a lot easier to read through than all of the books with Cam. They're good books, but you write Cam's autistic experience so well that I experience her anxiety as well and it makes reading challenging.
I wouldn't change it though.
It makes it harder to get through because I have to slow my pace and take more breaks, but I think it would lessen the impact for others.
Jax 5:34 PM
I'll be asking for beta readers in the future. If you're patient with the revision process, you can be an alpha reader. If not, just wait until the first draft is done.
Reader 7 5:35 PM
Well, it made me cry and learn and laugh... all very good things in a book.
Reader 1 5:37 PM
Thanks for chatting with us Jax and for sharing pics!
Jax 5:38 PM
I post behind the scenes stuff on my website/blog. If you haven't subscribed to the new one, you might want to.
Thanks for reading and all the feedback.