Tuesday, March 27, 2012

If I am dreaming, please don't wake me!

Because this is a wonderful dream, one only surpassed by three things: my salvation, the birth of my son and marrying my Prince Charming.

On April 22, 2012, it will be exactly one year since I put my debut novel, Accountable to None, on Amazon.  Now, a little over eleven months later, I attended my very first book signing at Barnes&Noble with my publisher.


Just typing that sentence above is an absolute thrill and still unbelievable for me.  For those of you that don't know, this was not my original intention when I started school again after the ripe old age of 40.  I wanted to be a nurse.

Until two little elective Creative Writing classes stumbled into my world, followed by one amazing teacher that saw something in me that I wasn't aware existed.  Upon my graduation in May 2011 with my Associates in Science, I was ready to attend nursing school in the Spring of 2012, but then several major events happened.

*In October of 2011, UK author Lindsay Ann Kendal watched my book trailer for ATN and then read the book.  Her review literally brought me to tears, but her next action brought huge tears to my eyes: she contacted her publisher and by December, I was officially signed with World Castle Publishing.

*In December of 2011, I made a spur of the moment decision to offer ATN up for free through Amazon's Kindle Direct Select Program.  30,000 plus downloads in less than 48 hours.  Christmas joy took on a whole new meaning for me when it hit #1 in Suspense.

*February of 2012, the sequel to Accountable to None, Zero Balance, was released worldwide.

Let's just say that nursing school is no longer in my plans!

For those of you that don't have a Kindle or use Amazon, not to worry: both books will be available soon electronically EVERYWHERE, including for Nook users.  :)

A heartfelt thank you to every single person that has helped me along in this journey.  From those that edited both books to those that helped create the covers and book trailer, all the way to each and every fan that downloaded a copy of a novel by an unknown.  Truly, the last year has been the ride of my life, and I am enjoying every single minute of it!  I have met some incredible people while walking on this new path, and their friendship and support has been such a blessing in my life.

Now to work on scheduling some book signings in Central Arkansas!






Oh, and of course, since I am a suspense writer, I leave you with this:

Watch out for some VERY exciting news in the next few months.  One word hint: VINDICTIVE.


Love, 
Ashley

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Welcome to the Spotlight---Del Garrett!

It is my distinct pleasure to welcome fellow author and Arkansan, Del Garrett.


Enjoy!


What kind of books do you write and how many have you written so far?

"While the Angels Slept" is my fourth published novel.  I write historical and contemporary fiction, which includes westerns, Victorian thrillers, and hard boiled mysteries.  My Jack the Ripper story was labeled horror, but I considered it more police procedural.  Some of my horror has been published, but those were short stories.



When is your next book being published?

That's "Texas Justice," which I hope to have finished by mid-April.

When did you start writing and what inspires you the most?

I've been actively writing since 1974 but didn't start earning money until after I graduated from Journalism school in 1979.  I write to entertain myself.  If I write a good book, it will entertain others.  Naturally, I hope my books sell; but writing for the art is more important to me so long as I can cover my production costs.

Why did you pick the genre that you currently write in, and are you currently considering writing in a different genre?  Why or why not?

I started writing "While the Angels Slept" as a romance, but the mystery kept getting in the way so I went with my muse.  The book I'm working on now is "Texas Justice," which is a revised and expanded version of my first book, "The Goodbye Trail."  That book won an Eppie finalist award in 2009 for published E-books.  I've kept that as Part I and added "Tough Enough for Texas" as Part II.  That story won first place in the 2011 White County Creative Writers Conference in the Westward Ho Award, so the volume is already a double winner.  Those who have read parts of it say they can't wait for me to publish it.

Tell us about your creative writing process.

 I started in this business as a journalist so research is important to me, as is knowing the outcome of the story before I start writing it.  It's like taking a road trip to Disneyland -- I know where my characters start from and where I want them to end up; the book is all about how they got there and that's what I discover along the way.  I base my characters on movie actors -- usually Harrison Ford or Tom Selleck -- what Christopher Vogler referred to as the reluctant hero in his book, "The Writer's Journey," based on Joseph Cambell's studies.  By visualizing a character I'm familiar with, I create my own story without all the time-consuming biography and description.  When I get the idea for a story, I want to jump right in and write it, not spend a month building a background for each major player.
           
Who is your favorite author, past and present, and why?

I've had so many -- Mark Twain, Ray Bradbury, Mickey Spillane, Richard S. Prather, Louis L'Amour -- I've read the great classical writers, but I write popular fiction so I read more along that line than say, "A Tale of Two Cities."  Don't get me wrong, I love a good Charles Dickens or Edgar Allan Poe or Alexandre Dumas novel, but I'm thinking they were probably the popular fiction authors of their day.

Tell us, what is the central message of your current book and the target audience.

In "While the Angels Slept," Lydia Taylor starts out as a naive, young widow who is easily taken advantage of.  She learns about herself as the story progresses and, in the end, she is the main reason the criminals are caught and she takes control of her social life as well.  In other words, she deals with the problems of life, learns from them, and grows into her own person.

What do you hope your readers will walk away with after reading your book?

The idea that you don't run from life and its many problems.  If this (pardon me) ignorant little nothing can come out on top, so can the reader in their own world.

If you didn’t become an author, what do you think you would be doing now?

I'm already doing it.  I hold multiple black belts and teach Kenjukido Kenpo-Jujitsu self-defense to adults (www.kenjukido.com).  My highest rank is 6th Dan master, and I've been inducted twice into the Universal Martial Arts Hall of Fame.  I've done a bit of acting, which I got into to help me understand the process of movie making and screenwriting.  In the military I had the opportunity to work with some undercover agents (No, they didn't give me a double-0 number).  What I'd like to do next is old west re-enacting.

What’s the worst experience and best experience you ever had as a writer?

The worst experience has always been a rejection, but you take those in stride.  If you can't take the heat, get off the computer.  Writing teaches you to be careful in what you type.  I sold my first piece of fiction to Louis L'Amour magazine.  Within the story, I wrote about the weather and the season of the year and the end of the war ... and got the season wrong.  I spent a good portion of my royalty check calling the company and asking them to hold the story until I sent them the rewrite.  It's embarrassing to get the facts wrong, but admitting it and making the corrections was the professional thing to do.  It was a sloppy mistake but it taught me a lesson to do the research and check it again and again and again before sending it to an editor.

The best experience is when a reader sends me a personal note saying they really liked my book.  I got so many of those following publication of "Whispers in the Wind -- The Search for Jack the Ripper" that I consider that my best novel to date.


Where do you see yourself in five years with your writing and your life?

Assuming I'm still alive, I want each book I write to thrill me more than the one just previous.  I still pay attention to techniques of other writers and I edit myself viciously, striving to tell a good story people will talk about long after they've finished reading the book.  I just want to do more and better and never stop writing.  I've spoken at several writers clubs and public libraries.  I enjoy meeting with beginning writers and helping them overcome some of the confusion about how to write.

Where can people find you and your books on the Internet?

My home page is www.authorsden.com.  I'm publishing both E-books and trade paperbacks on Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble, and E-books on Smashwords.

I'm hoping to find an agent for my screenplays, so someday maybe Harrison Ford or Tom Selleck will be up there on the silver screen mouthing the dialogue I created.

www.authorsden.com/delgarrett
My latest novel "While the Angels Slept"
Now available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords

You can find my review of Del’s latest novel, While the Angels Slept, here.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Milestones

Hey there everyone!  I know, I know, it has been a while since I actually sat down and put some rambling thoughts on my blog.  To say that life has been hectic would be the understatement of the year, nay, century!

My post today is a reflection on reaching milestones in life.  We all have them, some dramatic and some almost inconsequential in the grand scheme of this little thing we call living.  I wanted to take a moment and address some of the biggies that touch us all.

Birth:


Yep.  If you are reading this, at some point, you were nothing but the dreams and thoughts of the two people that anxiously awaited your arrival.  Whether you were planned or a surprise, wanted or even unwanted, you are here.  Now.  Your life began in a miraculous way, so make sure you live the rest of it the same way.  Treasure each breath.

The Teenage Years:


Remember the first time you drove, all by your lonesome, behind the wheel of that incredible piece of machinery that allowed you unfathomable freedom?  Or how about that first kiss from the person that made your heart thump so loudly in your ears that you just knew the entire world could hear it?  Better yet, recall how you thought your parents were the most ridiculous beings on the face of the earth and couldn't WAIT to move out on your own?  Close your eyes and recall the feelings of invincibility and knowing the entire world was just waiting for you to conquer it.  Remember those days?  Fear of nothing and in awe of everything (except, of course, your unbelievably stupid parents).  The adrenaline rush of living for the moment and not knowing what was around the next bend, yet racing towards it at breakneck speed?  Looking at someone over 30 and thinking "man, there is no way I am ever going to be that old and boring?"  Totally secure in the notion that your best friends would be in your life forever?

Adulthood:


Marriage.  Children.  Divorce.  Death.  Bills.  Responsibilities.  Learning, sometimes the hard way, what is around the next corner as you crash headlong into it.  Staring down into the eyes of your newborn in complete and utter terror, yet your heart bursting with love?  That moment when you clasped your hands with the one you love and pledged in front of God Himself your undying devotion?  Do you remember the spark of light that suddenly illuminated your hormone engorged brain from adolescence the minute you realized you were now someone's stupid parent?  How can that be?  When did that happen?

Who the hell am I?


In the 45 years that the Lord has allowed me to walk on this earth, life has been a constant roller coaster ride.  Each day, I learn something new, make new friends, derive enjoyment and satisfaction from a variety of little moments that I glossed over in my youth.  Through loss of loved ones, I learned the hard way to appreciate and cherish every moment with those still in my life, for we never know when their lovely presence will disappear.  Through all the pain and heartache of some of the darker moments in my life, I learned to treasure the gloriously happy ones with stronger conviction and fervor.  I learned that the best laid plans, carefully plotted and thought out over grueling hours, can vanish in the blink of an eye, the course shifting over into a new territory that previously, I would never have considered.

I learned about betrayal, sorrow, pain and grief.  Watching my Grandparents pass away while sitting in a hospital room, surrounded by smells and noises that made me want to run out screaming, pleading with God not to take them away.  Betrayed by my own idiocy of thinking I would have more time "later" to spend with them.  The anguish knocking me down to my knees, knowing those wasted moments would never reappear.

I learned about letting go when I watched my one and only son grow up.  No longer could I run behind him and pick him up when he fell.  Oh my, the internal struggle to stand idly by and watch your whole world venture off into their own was a strange mixture of pride and pain.

I learned how to love again after the broken pieces of my previous life were shattered.  My Knight in Shining Armor, delivered to me personally by the grace of God, rode up and swept me away.  For the first time, I understand the true depth of real, unabashed love.  How grand!

But the most important thing I have learned over the years is that no matter how torrential the rain, how parched I am from the stressful heat of life nor the darkest moments that cloak my soul, God is always there, showing Himself to me in ways I am just now beginning to understand!

Love your milestones.  Embrace each one and treasure it like there is no tomorrow.

Love to you all,
Ashley