Yet another of my favorite indie authors is up today! Please welcome Ashley Barron! Take it away Ash!
I love books. For me, a love of reading naturally evolved into a love of writing. I didn’t embrace writing, not as a career choice, until I found the story of Ava Arden unfolding on my computer screen one fine August day.
Before I knew it, a year had passed and the commitment to write one novel had evolved into a roadmap for a series about a group of best friends raised together in Washington, D.C. Short stories also came flowing out of that mysterious place in the brain where creative ideas are formed, and after much research, I set out to self-publish my work.
I’ve never looked back.
When did you start writing and why?
Switching career paths from business to writing wasn’t intentional. I had no plan, no big ideas the day I found myself sitting in my office, hands on the keyboard, typing out the story of a woman who found herself at a crossroad, one that would require her to make a choice between settling for what she had or risking her balanced life in pursuit of what she really wanted. Ava (Book One in the Priya Series) was born.
Once I started exploring the main character, Ava Arden, on the page, I found I couldn’t step away. Thoughts of her world, her choices, her fear and hopes, consumed both my waking thoughts and my dreams.
Still, even though in my mind I was sure of where she was headed, of what challenges and joys she would encounter, it took me longer to complete my first manuscript than I had anticipated. A lot longer! Best I can tell, now that I hang out with writers and authors on a daily basis, this is normal. The first novel is the toughest to write because so many other expectations – and hopes – are attached to it.
I breathed my first real sigh of writer’s satisfaction the day Ava (Book One in the Priya Series) came out in paperback. That was two months ago.
If you are a parent how does being a parent affect your writing and writing habits? Or does it?
Distractions come in all forms – including little humans. I would say the biggest challenge I face as a writer is removing me – my own emotions and judgments – from the storyline. For the first year, I had to practice looking at words, ideas, characters, plots through a different lens when I sat down to write.
Learning how to get right into the story, how to pick up where I had left off without spending too much time rereading the preceding chapters, has been helpful. Working smart is job one in any business endeavor. The challenge is in figuring out what “working smart” means when that endeavor is a creative one.
My method of writing has evolved, too. I find I am using different tools (storyboards, outlines, pictures, index cards) as I prepare a story. I don’t necessarily use any of the tools, not actively, while I am deep in the writing. They are an aide to help me learn my characters better, my story better, while I’m dreaming up the plots, scenes, and twists.
That said, I’ve known what would happen in Bonner (Book Two in the Priya Series) for well over a year, and yet, last week, I went back and rewrote the opening chapter. During a particularly feverish writing session, I changed details I’d never discussed with myself (that sounds a little odd, doesn’t it?) before they made their way on the page. The feeling is a bit surreal, but I confess I’m pleased with how the plot has been altered as a result.
Now that I’ve added IndieBookWeek.com to my daily routine, I’ve had to reschedule and reorganize my days, evenings, and weekends. It will take a month or two to find the right balance and to design the schedule best suited to my work and to my personal life.
Who is your favorite author and why?
My favorite author is Pearl S. Buck. Her novel, The Good Earth, brought my nine-year-old eyes to tears – and left a deep ache in my young heart – the first time I read it.
After Pearl, about one hundred authors are tied for the number two spot. These authors write everything from romance to history to thrillers to poetry. I’m drawn to the classics and to stories that find a way to bring about a happy ending no matter how painful the road is to reach it.
On the whole, love stories are always my preferred genre. Love in the Time of Cholera, Ivanhoe and Beach Music are a few that stand out as top of the list, as do Big Stone Gap, Remember When, Little Women and Wish You Well.
The fact is if I had a parallel life to live, I’d spend it reading.
Hmm…accomplish. I would like to finish the first eight books of the Priya series by next summer. I’ve got my work cut out for me!
Traditional or Self publishing? Why?
I started out thinking I would pursue the traditional path to becoming a published author. That was two years ago, right at the moment self-publishing was experiencing the beginning stages of its meteoric rise to market domination.
I sent a few queries, did a terrible job at it, researched enough to figure out how much I didn’t actually know about the publishing industry, and changed my path.
Deciding to self-publish came as shock to most of the people close to me. They wondered (aloud) why I would do something so strange and terrible. It took a fair amount of time and energy to explain the future of publishing (as I saw it) and to persuade them that I had made the right decision.
In the end, self-publishing has enabled me to travel roads I had never before considered. I’ve written about them in the blogging and Twitter guide Zero to One Million Blog Hits in One Year and the upcoming Stumbles and Successes series.
Talk about your journey into the wide world of publishing
The beginning of my journey can best be described as “time spent learning through trial and error.” I made a marketing plan, very basic at first, and then set out to learn and grow as a self-published author. I’ve rewritten my plan many times. I’ve taken risks. I’ve opened my mind to the possibilities, even if those possibilities were far down the road. And I’ve always kept my eye on the goal.
Some of the marketing ideas I tried were successful, plenty more weren’t. But I kept at it, kept reading and asking questions and expanding my understanding of how this marketplace works.
I think of Twitter and my blog as my PR team. I have spent much of the last 18 months investing in both, and the results have been strong. I’m currently expanding my focus to Facebook, Google+, and Goodreads.
The most important element of self-publishing, in my opinion, is the community of readers and writers an author builds. Finding ways to share and promote the successes of other authors is the cornerstone of my social media activity. It is the reason I recently launched phase one of IndieBookWeek.com.
IndieBookWeek.com is a forum for sharing news, ideas, and information about publishing, writing, blogging, and marketing. New features and opportunities are coming in the weeks and months ahead, all of which are designed to provide a gathering point for writers and readers alike.
Tell us about your book (s)
Politics and murder set the backdrop for a second chance at love in this debut novel by Ashley Barron. Ava blends the emotional impact of a love story with the pulse-pounding twists of a thriller.
Ava Arden has spent three years trying to move past the pain of a failed relationship. With her heart on ice, she channels all of her energy into her successful event-planning business, and into the lives of her best friends, the Priyas. Everything changes the day Kader Thornton, the man she walked away from, shows up in Washington, D.C. with a single goal: to win her back.
On the day of Kader’s return, Ava accidentally uncovers a secret that, if revealed, will expose a private battle for power at the highest levels of government. She soon finds herself hunted by an unseen enemy, one hiding among her friends. One who has already killed and is willing to kill again. When a trap is set for Ava, she walks right into it and disappears. For Kader, finding her is his only priority. But the Priyas, lifelong friends, each famous in her own right, find themselves trapped between helping in the search and protecting their own secrets.
In Ava, the first book in the Priya series, the real tests of their loyalty to one another are only now beginning. In a series that highlights the unique bond of friendships formed in childhood, long-buried secrets will be revealed, hidden alliances will be uncovered, and love will always win the day…but only if it’s true.
What inspired you to write these books (or in this genre)?
I write about love. Sometimes the stories are romantic in nature (Ava, Bonner) and sometimes they are about family relationships (The Birthday, Famous).
I have new books in the planning stages (an action adventure, a YA series, a paranormal) and all will carry a central theme of love.
For me as a reader, love is the most important element of any book I purchase. I would say that as a result I chose to write what I like to read, but that would be untrue. I simply started writing, and love stories filled the page.
Beginning with Ava, each novel in my Priya series centers on the life of one member of the Priyas, while still carrying forward thriller elements of a story arc that runs through the entire set of books, from Ava to Zara.
The main characters are all female, are in their early thirties, and their individual personalities run the gamut from loveable to despicable. The reader meets about a dozen of the Priyas in Ava, and even with so little information about any but Ava Arden, I’ve already had people declare they are, for example, “Team Bonner” or “Team Eden.” So far no one has said they are “Team Marah.” As the writer of the series, this reaction to Marah Prince’s character is intentional on my part. I suspect that opinions may change when her story is told.
There are very few characters in my novels and short stories that are beyond redemption, no matter what they’ve said or done.
Do(es) your book(s) have a soundtrack?
No, but I would love to pair up my novels and short stories with original works by indie musicians!
Thanks so much Ash for taking the time to answer some questions!