Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Friday, December 02, 2011

Guest Author: Anne Ashby

We're lucky to have author Anne Ashby join us today. We share a publisher, The Wild Rose Press, and I was delighted when she agreed to let me interview her. She and I both share the same writing goal: write a book that leaves the reader with a smile on his or her face.

More and more, when I read a book, I want at least some of the characters to survive (preferably characters I like) and be happy. Real life can be so difficult at times, that it's nice to think someone, somewhere has survived all the trauma and found happiness, even if it's just in a book.

Anne Ashby
Why did you decide to write?

I don’t think I can say why I began writing, it was just something that happened, a natural progression, I guess you could say. I loved to read and dreamed of putting my own stories onto paper, but it took the encouragement of Loree Lough, whose “romance writing” course I attended in MD, to make me realise I could actually do this.

How much research do you do?

Writing contemporary stories makes research very easy – I’m writing about today, in today’s world, with today’s problems and solutions. I’m in awe of historical writers and those who develop other worlds, but I’m not even slightly tempted to follow their lead. I’m sticking to contemporary. I haven’t yet set a story in an unfamiliar place so descriptions are either via memories or visits to those locations.

What was the most interesting thing you discovered when you were doing your research?

Researching for my first story “Worlds Apart” was the most involved and interesting as I used many of the language/cultural differences between USA and New Zealand we discovered when shifting to Maryland. Our family assumed movies and television had prepared us – after all, both countries speak English, don’t they? No, we discovered. American is spoken in US and New Zealand’s brand of English caused a few raised eyebrows. Much of every day living in US was initially foreign to us. But with the help of good friends we soon found our feet, and I discovered heaps of padding for my story. Each time my words baffled friends, or they confused me, out came the notebook to record yet another weird or wonderful distinction.

Do you have a favorite theme or message for your readers?

My tag-line is “warm, fuzzy and fun” and I always start off a story intending it to be light-hearted. My aim is to provide a ‘feel good’ buzz for my readers. But sometimes my characters take control and I’ve ended up writing about some very serious social issues. For example, in “Time to Bury the Past” teenage binge drinking plays a major part. Despite this, I hope my stories can always bring a smile and a sigh of satisfaction as the cover closes.

When do you write/what is your writing day like?

I started writing when my youngest child started school so I got into the habit of using “school hours” as my writing day. Over the last few months this has changed slightly as I work on self-promotion, with me spending about 30-60 mins posting onto loops/FB etc. I’m yet to dive into Twitter but will take that plunge one day soon. When writing, I usually read over/edit the previous day’s work then write whatever is itching to get out. I’m a pantser, attempts at planning my stories have so far fallen flat. I’m reasonably disciplined (maybe because of years in the military) and put in about 5-6 hours Mon-Fri on some sort of “writing-related” work.

How do you approach a new book? Outlines? Just an idea?

Some ideas present themselves almost en masse, while others appear as just one scene and take a lot of thought before they turn into a whole story. It is my intention that every book will be planned, with a clear outline, the precise number of pages per chapter, personality charts, character arcs, everything! Only when I sit down to do this planning my mind turns to mush and nothing appears. So instead I let the jumbled story flow out and do an awful lot of editing once the draft is complete.

Who are your favorite authors? Have any authors inspired you or influenced your work?

I’ll be very surprised if anyone reading this has ever heard of my favourite author. New Zealander Essie Summers wrote over 50 stories for Mills & Boon, setting most of them close to where I grew up. Reading her romances and knowing the locations made the stories so real. I guess she provided a mile of inspiration – I could write stories set in far off New Zealand, too.

If a reader took away one thing from your book(s), what would you like that to be?

A smile.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

Write, write and then write some more. Never give up if writing is your dream. Keep practicing and devour any writing related information you can grab, no matter where you find it. Then write even more. Submit your work, hopefully feedback will help you recognise your faults or weaknesses.

Where do you see yourself as an author in five years?

I’d like to hope I’d be still writing 4-5 books a year and getting them all published. The most important thing for me at the moment is to stay true to the “sweet” genre, but provide stories that are realistic in today’s world. Sweet doesn’t have to mean sickly.

Brief Bio

I’m a contemporary traditional/sweet author from New Zealand, published with The Wild Rose Press. I grew up in a very small coastal town in New Zealand’s southern-most province. An eagerness to travel, fostered by my mother, led me to join the Royal NZ Navy where I enjoyed a very satisfying career. I have been fortunate to have travelled extensively and lived in Singapore and Maryland USA. I began writing contemporary romances when my youngest child started school. I enjoy including family issues, genealogy, rugby and/or snippets from my past military life in my stories. I am dedicated to bringing something of my beautiful country to romance readers everywhere, so New Zealand always features in my stories, normally as the setting. When not reading or writing, I find plenty to occupy my time with my family commitments. I currently live in Auckland with my husband and two of our four children.



Available – Amazon, Wild Rose Press

PTSD forces American Naval Officer Zane Erickson to re-evaluate his life. A posting to untroubled New Zealand after years in Afghanistan will allow him to bond with his motherless teenage son. Unfortunately Cody doesn't share his father's enthusiasm for this new living arrangement.

Kelsey Hewitt is a single mother wrestling with her son's drinking problem, struggling to keep the truth about his abusive father from him and determined to exclude men from her life.

As Kelsey and Zane are drawn together by the boys' friendship they each have compelling reasons to avoid any possible intimacy. But while dealing with their sons' dilemmas, their attraction for each other deepens.

Can Kelsey risk allowing another control freak into her life?

Anne Ashby
Author of: “Worlds Apart” “Devon’s Dream” “Time to Bury the Past” “Wilderness Liaison” coming soon

Thanks Anne!


Nancy Jardine Author said...

Sounds good, Anne! Nice excerpt.

Amy said...

Thanks for stopping by, I really appreciate it!

Anne Ashby said...

Thanks, Nancy. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. And double thanks to Amy for inviting me.

LaVerne Clark said...

Ooo yes! Essie Summers is a legend in my eyes too Anne.

I'm a Kiwi too and love to show off our amazing country in my books. I haven't travelled as extensively as you, only a handful of countries, but it always fills you with pride when you come flying in to home again.

Can't wait to explore America though - there is so much to see!

Love the sound of your book - the difficulties of raising boys as they become teenagers is certainly something I can relate to!

Amy said...

You're going to think I'm a nut, but I can't tell you how exciting I find it to get comments (and a blog) from "Kiwis". My husband and I keep talking about going to New Zealand and Australia. He's a wildlife biologist and we're both birders (twitchers) and it would be the thrill of a lifetime to see all the new critters and birds.

Thank you so much for dropping by! You've made my day!

Anne Ashby said...

Don't leave it a moment longer, Amy. I know LaVerne will agree with me, we love visitors here. And our bird life is spectacular. Come take a look, but please please please, dont just tack on a couple of days to visit NZ whilst on a trip to Australia - do it the other way I'm kidding. Each country has so much to offer. Sure hope you can make it one day.
Hi LaVerne, great to meet you

LaVerne Clark said...

Not a nut at all Amy! :)
And Anne is right - we LOVE getting visitors.
I hope you do make it 'downunder' some day - make sure you let me know when you do!

Amy said...

I'll start saving my pennies, that's for sure! I'm totally jazzed about this--I can't wait to visit!