Ashley C. Darling

Hello Again

These last two years have been a dumpster fire. I wrote in 2019 that I wanted to blog more, and then promptly failed to do that. In August of 2019 I joined a local Nerdy Girls group and made so many great friendships! I even started playing D&D in early 2020 with some of those girls, and then COVID happened and the world stopped.

Also in August of 2019 I started a graduate program for library science. That definitely took up most of my time that year! Along with a mostly full time job, I didn’t have much time to write for myself, let alone blog. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a blogger. Sometimes I feel like I try to do this to be popular, but then life gets busy and I don’t make time for it. That’s my fault, for sure, but I also wonder if I’m just not cut out for it.

Anyway, I started teaching in 2020 and it’s been a whirlwind since! I’m enjoying teaching again (mostly, you know how it is), and have found time to write and work on my novels. I bought a house about a year ago and have been living with my boyfriend. It’s been great! I play D&D usually twice a week, I co-host my school’s D&D Club, and I’m finally finding time to read again. All of that along with a literature class is definitely keeping me busy!

I do hope that I can hop on here every once in a while to post something, whether its a writing trick/tip I just learned or a review of a book for my lit class. Whatever it is, I hope you’ll read and follow along.

Is there anything you’d like to see from me? I have two completed novels under my belt and I’ve revised them both multiple times (still in the process, too!). Let me know what you’d like to see from me, and I’ll do my best to provide!

All the best,


Everyone fails.

Einstein. Steve Jobs. Tony Stark (yeah, I know he’s not real. But it still counts!).

Every single person that has achieved anything great has failed at least once. Most people fail repeatedly, and their success hinges not on their failures, but on their ability to pick themselves up and keep going.

Currently, I’m failing as a writer.

I recently left an emotionally and mentally exhausting job. Every day I would come home, take care of my dog, eat dinner, and go to bed. Then I’d get up the next day and do it all over again. My relationships and social life suffered. My writing fell by the wayside. I was miserable for many reasons, but a large part of my unhappiness was the fact I couldn’t write. Not that I didn’t have time, not that I didn’t try. My mind simply wouldn’t focus on anything long enough to matter, and I was depressed. I think I might still be, but I’m working through the funk.

I was blessed to have a job, but I absolutely couldn’t stay there any longer.

So I gave my notice. I trained my replacement and I got the hell out. But I’m still not writing.

My mind has focused for too long on survival mode, on protecting itself from verbal and emotional abuse at work, that even though I now work part-time to allow for more writing, I can’t seem to make anything stick.

I’m failing. I’m not doing such a great job at the part-time gig (it’s so far out of my wheelhouse, I’m floundering. help!). I’m worried about my financial situation. My friendships are still suffering, but at least that is getting better. I’m having some health issues that are hopefully going to be resolved soon, but I’m not holding my breath (the American healthcare system sucks).

But I don’t want to fail anymore.

I’ve been wanting to blog for a long time, but I’ve failed at that too. I’ve made posts in the past saying “This year I’ll blog more!!” It never happens. But now that I have more time, I want to contribute. I want to help other writers on the journey from draft to publication. I don’t have an agent or a book deal (yet!), but I have a passion for writing and for helping others.

So this an official rebranding. I’m going to post writing tips and tricks, behind the scenes of my writing process, book reviews, and more. I’m putting this out there to finally say, I’M HERE. AND I’M GOING TO DO THIS THING!

I’d love for you to follow along.

<3 Ashley

#AMMConnect: Spring 2019

Author Mentor Match—or AMM for short—opens for submissions for Round 6 from March 1-5, 2019. AMM is a mentoring program that matches YA and MG writers with published or pre-published authors.

Want to learn more? Follow the hashtags #authormentormatch#ammfam, and #ammparty on Twitter. Watch the video below for more information from AMM’s co-creator, Alexa Donne!


While you’re revising and waiting for the submission window to open, use #AMMConnect to hype your work and connect to other writers all over the world. All you have to do is make a blog post on your own site and add your name, category/genre, and link to the table below! Feel free to scroll through and find more awesome writers, maybe even swap pages.

About #AMMConnect

You can also use #AMMConnect to meet other hopeful mentees! Connecting with other writers is one of the big benefits of AMM, whether you’re selected as a mentee or not. You could meet a new critique partner or your biggest cheerleader.

#AMMConnect How-To

  1. Create an #AMMConnect post on your blog. Tell us about yourself, what you write and why, and why you’d make a great mentee. Be sure to include your category and genre, and a link back to this post. Have fun with it! We love gifs, aesthetics, images and videos!
  2. Enter your name, category, genre, and link in the Google form below.
  3. Head over to Twitter (Writer Twitter is amazing! Create an account if you haven’t already.) and share a link to your post. Make sure you include #AMMconnect so others can find you, and pin the tweet to your profile.
  4. Browse the hashtag and interact with other AMM hopefuls! Read bios, like, and comment. Drool over incredible book concepts and offer to swap sample chapters with potential critique partners. You could make a writing buddy for life.

Also on Twitter we’ll be having fun answering prompts at #AMMparty! Learn about your fellow mentees and their work, and make more connections!

Why Submit to AMM?

I’m an OG AMM mentee. I was chosen waaaay back in Round 1 and I’m a HUGE proponent of this program. Not only have I made a meaningful connection with an established author (hello, Kayla!), I’ve made valuable friendships and found some of my best critique partners throughout the years.

But don’t just take my word for it. Check out what my fellow mentees have to say about their own experiences.

“There’s a thousand reasons to submit to AMM, but here’s just a few… My mentor provided amazing insight on how to take my manuscript to new levels, closer to being the book I’ve always dreamed about. Before and even after signing with an agent, he’s been around for me for everything from reading recs to questions about book covers. In addition, the AMM mentees have become my writing family — we cheer each other on, pick each other up after difficult days, and word sprint together after our day jobs.

I hope you’ll submit to AMM and find your writing family, too.

I am beyond grateful for Sean, Alexa, and my AMM family!”

Julie Abe
Agent: Sarah Landis, Sterling Lord Literistic
Fall 2017 Mentee, Mentor: Sean Easley

“Author Mentor Match has been a huge deal for my writing career. With every round of revision I did with Jaime, my book and my writing in general became so much stronger. Beyond revising my manuscript, Jaime was still with me through every step of the querying process, from helping me with my query letter, decided which agents to sub to, to talking me through the stressful process of deciding between multiple offers. I recommend this program to anyone who feels like they have a strong manuscript but know it’s not ready for the next step and need some help getting it there. I couldn’t have made it this far without Author Mentor Match, and now my mentor and I are agent silblings!”

Jordan Marisa Kelly
Agent: Jordan Hamessley, New Leaf Literary Agency
Fall 2017 Mentee, Mentor: Jaime Olin

“Author Mentor Match is everything I never knew I was looking for. This community has revolutionized my writing life in every aspect, from confidence to ability and everything in between. My mentor has equipped me with a trusty arsenal of plotting spreadsheets and puns, and her feedback is always spot on. But most importantly, my mentor isn’t just investing in this one manuscript—she’s investing in me as a writer. We’re in this for the long haul. And that makes all the difference.”

Sarah Harrington
Fall 2017 Mentee, Mentor: Rosiee Thor

“I’m blown away by how great AMM has been. My mentor is amazing, insightful, and generous, and has helped me grow so much. Not only is she just a great person to talk to, she also has years of experience as a published writer, and has shared her wisdom and connections with me. In addition, my cohort of mentees has turned into a supportive, resource-sharing, cheerleading group of role models and peers that I’m so glad to have met. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of AMM.”

Carolyn T. O’Neil
Fall 2017 Mentee, Mentor: J. Albert Mann

“Kevin has offered such a fresh perspective on my manuscript and really pushed me to find my story. His knowledge of writing resources and the industry has proven invaluable, and he’s always available for a comforting word or brainstorming session. I feel so lucky to call him my mentor and have him (and the whole AMM family) on this journey with me!”

Debra Spiegel
Fall 2017 Mentee, Mentor: Kevin van Whye

“Joining AMM was a wonderful experience for me. With Kim’s help, my writing improved beyond what I’d ever expected. I love how it’s an ongoing relationship, and the focus is on mentoring rather than competing for a showcase. I’ve been able to work at my own pace, and know that our relationship will continue long-term. She has been such a wonderful teacher and has supported me through multiple revisions and querying. Also, through the AMMfam I’ve connected with so many wonderful people, including some amazing critique partners who I now consider my bestest friends :heart: I feel so supported and connected as part of this entire community. Since being mentored, I have gone on to sign with an agent and am about to send my book off on submission in 2019, eep!”

Lyndall Clipstone
Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary
Spring 2018 Mentee, Mentor: Kim Smejkal

“AuthorMentorMatch is an amazing program. My book has improved by leaps and bounds since I began revising with my mentor’s input and ideas. My mentor has been so supportive—she’s helped with everything from edit letters and brainstorming sessions to query materials and publishing advice. Anyone looking for a program where you’ll get a great mentee-mentor relationship, help with your book, and amazing community of other writers, AuthorMentorMatch has what you’re looking for.”

Emily Grey Feldman
Spring 2018 Mentee, Mentor: Rosiee Thor

“I found out about AMM three weeks before the deadline, and on a whim I decided to apply. I can’t believe how this amazing opportunity almost passed me by! My mentor has been absolutely amazing, quick in her responses, supportive, and firm in her critique. Getting a long edit letter was overwhelming, but reading her ideas and talking them through with her opened my eyes to what my book could become. Having access to the other AMM mentees as well has been great since we can share our struggles and our triumphs with each other. The AMM community has made me a stronger writer, and the resources it provides has me excited–not scared!–of the next steps on my path to being a published author.”

Linnea Garcia
Spring 2018 Mentee, Mentor: Jaime Olin

AMM has been everything I hoped for. At the end of March, when I got into Round 4, my amazing mentor Tae Keller sent me a 10-page single-spaced edit letter complete with graphs. Her critique was so insightful and helped me re-work my manuscript entirely. Two months later, after essentially rewriting half my novel, I sent her a revision. She gave me another edit letter, this time three pages long. A month later, I’d made some more significant edits and sent my manuscript to beta readers and other critique partners. A month after that, and a bit over four months after receiving my first edit letter, I was ready to query my novel.

Coming into AMM, I was ready to put in the hard work of revising my novel, but I couldn’t have done it without my mentor or this program. To have someone believe in my project and help guide me through the Blow-It-Apart-and-Put-it-Back-Together stage of novel-writing was absolutely invaluable.”

Sylvia Liu
Spring 2019 Mentee, Mentor: Tae Keller

#AMMConnect Blog Links

Enter your name, genre, and link using this form. Then hop around and meet your fellow AMM hopefuls!

And remember: your story matters. Write it. <3

Well, hello. I haven’t blogged on here in a while, and even though its always my intention to do so, I just lose track of time and find myself spiraling into the rabbit hole that is YouTube or Facebook. (Bad use of time, let me tell you.)

I originally wrote this as a thread on Twitter, but I wanted to make a blog post about it, too, because I know I’m not the only one who struggles with maintaining my writing passion.

You know that feeling when you’re eyeball-deep in revision and you think your writing just SUX0RS? Yeah, well, that was me in July. I took a break from my beloved WIP, worked on something else, read a few books, etc etc.

I struggled with this revision. I LOVE this story, these characters, but I didn’t know where I was going or how to make the story I’d written into the story I wanted. I was so frustrated and exhausted that writing felt like torture. It sucked, big time. I doubted myself.

2017: Writing Goals

Hey y’all! I know I haven’t blogged in a while – since July 2016! – but one of my goals for 2017 is to blog more often. Here’s a list of writing goals I’d like to achieve or be on the way to achieving in 2017:

  1. Finish a first draft of something new
  2. Edit/revise THE ADEPT (with help from my awesome mentor)
  3. Query THE ADEPT
  4. Sign with an agent 🙂
  5. Blog 3-4 times a month (more if possible!)
  6. Sell THE ADEPT (this is dependent on #3 & #4, plus other factors)

That may be about it. I’m already starting on #1 – its a fantasy with magic and war and espionage. I’m super excited about it! 🙂

As far as blogging, I’m not sure what types of post you’d like to see, so please let me know! I’m happy to oblige.

I think that’s it for this post. Have any questions? Post them below and I’ll gladly answer!


Saturday Chats — My Writing Journey

Hey y’all! I’ve had some ups and downs lately, and I decided to post about them here for y’all to read. I know not many people follow my blog, but I wanted to start writing about, well, my writing. So here it goes!

These past few weeks have been spectacular in my writing world. I finished–yes, FINISHED!–the third draft of THE ADEPT and sent it off to my critique partner (CP) and a few trusted beta readers. I should be getting their feedback by June 1, so I’ll let you know how it goes! I’ve been itching to start editing, but my CP forbids it! (Thanks, Alyson! 🙂 )

I finally wrote THE END on draft 3 of The Adept!

I finally wrote THE END on draft 3 of The Adept!

So instead I’ve been working on a new story. It arrived in my brain pretty much fully formed one night. Its about SUPER TEENS. 😀 I’m super (haha) excited to work on this, since its a new concept for me, and super humans are hot right now (when are they not??). I can’t wait to flesh out more of their world and bring it to life!

I’ve been on an agent hunt for a few weeks now. I’ve got a list of around 30 agents I’ll submit to once I get my CP and beta reader’s feedback and any revisions completed. This part scares me, but at least I’ve got the bulk of writing finished. After I land an agent, there will of course be more revisions with them, and then even MORE with the editor/publishing house. So I’ve got to get used to editing!

That doesn’t mean I can slack on this new idea, though. I’ve been trying to do this draft the right way: planning, outlining, fleshing out primary and secondary characters, etc, all BEFORE I start writing. I’ve been following Susan Dennard’s For Writers website and I’m loving it. Her advice has been extra helpful in setting up this new world, which is contemporary and a new genre for me. I’m excited about this idea, and I hope it’ll be a fun adventure story.

Lately I’ve been feeling a little down about my job. It’s been pretty stressful at work and I don’t like feeling stressed about things, especially things I can’t control. I decided yesterday that I’m going to work on not letting the little things get to me, so I’m not so stressed. And if there are things I can change, I will. But for now I’m just going to chin up and remind myself that life isn’t perfect, and this job pays my bills for now. If nothing changes in a few weeks, I may have to do something, but for now I’ll deal with it.

I think that’s all I have for today. If you have any questions about me or my writing, please leave them below and I’ll answer them next week!