Welcome to this week's A Cup of conversation with sweet romance story author, Laura Ashwood. Laura is one of those people who goes out of their way to be kind and supportive and it's an absolute pleasure to be able to give something back to her after she has featured me twice on her own website last year. So without further ado let's see what inspires her to write, what keeps her going and what big plans she has for 2019.
1. When did you start writing creatively?
Writing books has been my dream since I put down my first Trixie Beldon book as a young girl. I started writing creatively in high school, but stopped due to some negativity toward it by family. As an adult, I secretly amassed a stash of “how to” books, but could never get my nerve up to actually put words on paper. So, I set my dream aside to raise our family. In 2018, I finally decided if I didn’t start now I would never know if I could do it or not, so I turned our spare room into an office and began writing.
2. How has living in northern Minnesota influenced your writing?
Mostly in setting. I love small town settings and I live pretty rural – we are actually 18 miles from the closest gas station/town. I think there is a special dynamic to small towns that you lose in a big city. I LOVE Christmas love stories and I can’t imagine a Christmas without our Minnesota snow, although I could have done without the polar plunge we took last week.
3. A reader has described your book Second Chances as "a quick sweet romance'. Is this indicative of all your writing?
Second Chances is actually the first story I ever wrote. It was written to be part of an anthology that was published by my local RWA chapter. I had just joined the chapter and the story deadline was 3 weeks from when I joined. The president needled me into it, but I am very grateful because it forced me to 1. write something, and 2. acknowledge to the world that I am a writer. Once I got my publishing rights back, I added about 5,000 words to Second Chances and self-published it. The writing projects I have in the works are not short stories but longer, more traditional length romances.
4. How does your writing style differ between writing a novel and a set of short stories?
There is a lot more plotting involved! Because of the super fast turn around needed for Second Chances, I did very little outlining. I brainstormed a few paragraphs and just wrote. By the time I was talked into writing that story, I had two weeks to get it done – which to some, may not seem daunting, but to someone who has not written anything for some 30 years, it was very intimidating. The projects I have slated for this year, I am taking a little more time with.
5. Are any of the characters in your books based on yourself?
In Second Chances, Lindsey drives a VW Beetle. I have ALWAYS wanted a Beetle, so I lived out that dream vicariously through her. And I am afraid of birds (thank you Alfred Hitchcock). For me, it’s easier to draw on emotions I am familiar with, so I think there might be a part of me in every character I write, but that remains to be seen since I am so young in my journey. (At least I’m young somewhere, right?)
6. Which of your characters is your favourite and why would your readers like them?
The book I’m working on right now has a character named Claire and she’s my favourite so far. I think readers will like her because she struggles with finding her place in the world. She’s vulnerable but hides it by putting up huge walls.
7. What are you currently working on?
I’m actually working on a couple of things right now. I was accepted by Sweet Promise Press to write for an upcoming small town Christmas series, as well as for their First Street Church series, and I’m also working on a project that needs to remain confidential at this point. I am not allowed to release title information yet, but the genre is sweet romance for all of them. They are all set around Christmas too – can you tell I love Christmas romance?
8. How do you organise your writing process and what does being a member of Northern Lights Writers mean?
I am still trying to figure out my writing process, but I am a very visual person so when I get the base story idea I scour the internet for images that fit my characters and setting. Then I write what I know about the story and characters and build from there. Northern Lights Writers is my local RWA chapter. I joined last year (exactly a year) with the encouragement of my husband. I sat outside the first meeting in my car getting a pep talk from him to actually get out of my car and go inside. I’m glad I did. Their encouragement helped me realize that I can write and I have worked really hard in the last year to come out of my shell (at least online LOL) and go outside of my comfort zone more. If I hadn’t joined NLW, I probably would still be wishing I could be a writer instead of writing.
9. What do you do to relax or recharge and how does it help your writing?
Finding time to relax and recharge is so important to me because if I get too stressed, I tend to get stuck inside my own head and start overthinking everything (does she REALLY want to say that, etc.). We are empty-nesters but we try to see our kids on a regular basis (they are all over an hour away) and now that we have a grandchild (and one due in a couple of months), making time for them is even more important. We live rural so we enjoy riding our ATV and fishing as much as we can. When the weather isn’t cooperating, I have 2 very spoiled Chihuahuas that LOVE to watch Hallmark movies with me. I also do some sewing and crocheting in my “spare time” and I love to cook.
What do you do to relax or recharge and how does it help your writing?
10. Are you a planner or a pantser?
Somewhere in the middle. I like to write down as much as I know about my story before I start to write it, but I don’t create a formal outline.
11. What are your three big plans for 2019?
- Finish the 3 books I have committed to
- Write at least one other so I can query it
- Meet my health goals
Huge thanks Laura for joining me and my readers this week and I wish you lots of continued success with your writing career in 2019 and for any of you wishing to connect with Laura beyond her interview here please refer to her links below.
Until next time everyone, Happy Reading, Happy Writing, Happy You.
Amazon link to books: https://www.amazon.com/Laura-Ashwood