I am excited to be interviewing a very talented author today, Ashlee Willis.  She is a homeschool graduate with a couple of published books!  Ashlee Willis is the author of fantasy for young adults. She loves her day job as a medical scribe, but also enjoys forest rambles, crocheting, and playing the piano. She lives in the heart of Missouri with her young son.  You can visit her website here.  Thank you Ashlee, for chatting with us today.  

 

 

  • Did your homeschool education helped you start up in the publishing industry?  If so, how?

I think I would say that, more than my education itself, the atmosphere of my education was what most encouraged me to become a published writer. When you can pursue the things you love learning about, read the books that are closest to your interests and your heart, and do all this at your own pace in an environment of encouragement and freedom, I can’t describe how many doors of the imagination and confidence this opens!

 

 

  • How old were you when you started publishing?  Were you nervous about the fact that you were putting books out for people to both admire and criticize?

I had just turned 32 when my first book was accepted for publication. I had been dreaming of being published since I was about 10, so it was a long, hard wait. But I think no matter what age I had published at, I would have been nervous. You never get too old to fear what people will think about the honest, raw things that you write about. Your books are little pieces of you – how can you not be nervous about that? Yet on the other end of the spectrum, you’re never too old to get a little giddy when you get a glowing review or an admiring fan gushing over your book. It’s one of the best feelings there is!

 

 

  • I understand you have more than one book published.  Could you give a brief synopsis of each?

My first novel, The Word Changers, is about Posy, a troubled girl who gets trapped in a fairy tale book she finds at the library. The characters in the book are in rebellion against their story, and she must help them find their true story, and overthrow the cruel king who keeps them captive to the Plot that he has created.

My second book, which is a novella, is called A Wish Made of Glass. It is a spin-off of Cinderella, told from the step-sister’s view, and set in a world of fey creatures and magic.

 

 

  • What is the approximate reader age range for your books?

The target age range for both books is from 13 to 18. However, as with all YA books, they are very much for adults as well.

 

 

  • You have both traditionally and independently published your books.  Which do you prefer and why?  

I’m not sure I have a preference, to be honest. My experiences with both were great ways to learn about publication and promotion in general. Self publishing allowed me much more control on things like editing and cover art. However, traditional publishing allowed me to sit back and not worry about a lot of those tedious details that can become overwhelming for self-published authors, such as formatting and advertising. I think it really comes down to what the individual author prefers, and how much control she wishes to retain versus how much responsibility she wishes to have. For me, I enjoyed both. I would be happy to do either one again.

 

 

  • Which publishing method do you think you’ll pursue in the future?  What led you to choose independent publishing after being traditionally published?  

My plan as of now is to pursue traditional publication for my third book, whatever it might be! However, I’m not willing to put months and months into finding a publisher. If it doesn’t pan out, I will proceed with self-publishing again. I will be much more comfortable with it the second time around, I’m sure. I self-published the second time around simply because I was impatient, and because I was very picky about how I wanted my novella to be presented to my readers. I wanted to retain my “voice” in the writing, and I wanted the cover to have a particular vibe. Also, with self-publishing, the timeline is much more tight, and the timeframe from finishing the book to seeing it in book form is much shorter than if I had pursued traditional publication.

 

 

  • What was your favorite part of the indie author publication process — outlining, writing, editing, designing (cover/interior/eBook), blog tours, etc?

I find things to enjoy about each step in the process, seriously. However, my first love is always writing. Spinning that story, seeing it form and then transform and take twists and turns that I had not planned…it’s truly magic. Nothing can replace that feeling.

 

 

  • To you, what is the most difficult part of the indie author publication process?

Editing was hard. Very, very difficult. At least for me. Part of it was that I hired the wrong editor. She was good at finding technical errors and typos, but she simply did not understand the style or voice of my story. It was a very frustrating process, to say the least. However, I can’t imagine it would be that way with every editor, and I look forward to working with one (I hope!) down the road who better understands my work. I can see that being a very rewarding and educational process.

 

 

  • What are your suggestions or tips for authors looking into traditional publishers?

Be professional. Do very thorough homework on each and every publisher (or agent) you submit to. Do NOT write a “form” query letter to send to every publisher; write a unique letter for each publisher you submit to. And keep in mind that this is a very lengthy, tedious process. Make sure you perfect your query letter and your entire proposal package, including the “blurb” of your story. Most publishers will not consider even reading your book if you don’t bother to get your synopsis streamlined and smooth. Look up submission guidelines for each publisher (every publisher will have different ones), and make sure you follow them to a T.

 

 

  • In general, there are two different kinds of writers.  There is the writer who believes their characters have minds of their own and can hijack their story.  Then, there is the writer who believes their characters must behave as they are written.  Which of these writers are you?

I used to be the type who wanted my characters to behave themselves. However, I quickly learned that if you want characters to be alive in your readers’ minds, you have to allow them to live on the page and in your imagination. And that means they will do things that are sometimes (ok, often…) unexpected! Sometimes they will change your story altogether. Instead of being frustrated with this, I learned to embrace it. And 90% of the time I feel this makes the story better than it would have been had I forced those characters to behave.

 

 

  • What is your favorite social media outlet for reading readers and engaging with your target audience?  Which network do you find most helpful for growing your audience?

My blog. It allows me to speak with readers on a deeper level. I see my blog as my “home.” Meeting my readers there is more personal. Places like Facebook and Goodreads, while I love them, are more like meeting my readers in a coffee shop. Somewhere comfortable, yes, but which only allows for shorter, less in-depth conversations. My blog is where all my deeper articles and thoughts and opinions are archived, and where my most enthusiastic and faithful fans come to see what I’ve been up to.

 

 

  • I’d love it if you could share with us one of your favorite inspirational quotes on writing.  I could always use a good quote! 🙂

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” (Ernest Hemingway).  This has been one of my favorites since I was a passionate, moody pre-teen 😉 I felt that I couldn’t agree with Hemingway more. If you’re not bleeding while you write, you’re probably not writing anything worth reading.

 

 

  • Since first being published, what would you say has been your most memorable moment?

Connections with readers are always my most treasured moments, whether through a review that makes it clear my story touched someone in a deep way, or whether I speak face-to-face with a reader at a book signing. When I see that something I wrote, which came from my heart, has spoken to someone else….that is the reason I write in the first place.

 

 

  • I’d like to talk about your homeschool experience for a moment.  What did you like most about homeschooling?  Conversely, what did you like least?

I loved working at my own pace. Even more, I loved being able to concentrate more intensely on subjects which interested me more, such as English and Literature. I loved having a school day surrounded by my books on a blanket under one of the trees on our farm. I loved that having those freedoms allowed me to have the time and the quiet days to look inward and think deeply about things that public school would never given me the time to do.

What I liked least…having to help my mom grade my own papers as well as my sister’s. 😀

 

Thank you for being with us today, Ashlee!  I wish you the best on all your future writing endeavors!

Thank you so much for having me, Tialla! I’m completely honored!

 

If you’d like to know more about Ashlee and her published books, I highly encourage you to visit her website.  Not only that, but if you’ve read any of her books, leave a comment to tell our visitors about your experience!

If you have read this book, leave a comment to let our visitors know what you thought of it too!

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