It’s our pleasure to introduce you to author Ashley Parker Owens. She’s a prolific author who is here to talk about her fantasy series which is currently on sale. I asked if she’d like to sit down for an interview and she agreed. So, grab your favorite hot beverage and join us. Ashley, take it away:
Do you have any odd writing habits?
I sometimes choose words I want to use in poetry or novels first, then later create sentences, paragraphs, and scenes. I’m a pantser, but over time, I’ve tried to be more aware of the plot and structure and now create simple outlines. I re-write chapters and skip around in the novel. This causes a problem near the end of the writing journey when only the segues and boring parts remain.
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you?
I would start with Haruki Murakami, China Miéville, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, N. K. Jemisin, and Chuck Palahniuk. A complete list would be too long to include here.
What books do you wish you could have written?
Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami and The Kraken, by China Miéville.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
I have quite a few talking animals in my stories. All my bird character names are Italian, my cat names are Egyptian, and my gnomes have German names. Once I have a list of cast names, I check that they vary in length and first letter to help the reader delineate the characters. I also pay attention to consonant sounds and the number of syllables. For instance, I use hissing sounds (like in the name Elyse), for an evil character that resembles a snake. I use K or other hard consonant sounds for tough, overbearing characters. I may use a short name like Burk to represent a simple-minded character and lots of syllables to render a fussy or formal character (Victoria, Kimberly).
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
I have two—Global Mail and KY Story. Global Mail was a quarterly newspaper that listed mail art opportunities. I published and mailed it out for five years while also taking part and hosting mail art exhibitions.
KY Story was an independent press. I published 20 anthologies, six chapbooks, and posted a few online art exhibitions.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Don’t get hung up on getting an agent and getting published. Concentrate and enjoy the writing process. If you never get an agent, it will be okay. You can self-publish if it is essential to you.
Finishing projects is a significant learning experience for writers, and there is a finality to seeing your book in print. Work through the problems in your manuscript. Leaving novels in a drawer is sometimes necessary as not all stories work out, but writers sometimes hide projects out of fear. Offering texts to the world is scary, and completing a novel is a goalpost that suggests you trust yourself and your vision.
Make use of all available computer tools. Grammarly, AutoCrit, Quillbot, ProWriting Aid, and MS Word Editor can help you improve your writing skills and eliminate basic mistakes like repeated words or missing punctuation. Also, consider tools that will help you physically. It may be helpful for some to use voice-to-text narration on the computer to avoid wrist sprain. Buy a good keyboard and mouse and pay attention to your posture and lighting wherever you choose to write.
Whether you use Scrivener, MS Word, or some other program, invest in training. Learning the advanced features will save time over the decades. You don’t have to pay for training. Watch YouTube videos to learn the use of obscure features related to your trade.
Services like Fiverr and Upwork are low-cost marketplaces to find beta readers, copy editors, proofreaders, etc. Create a budget to purchase writer services. It is more time-effective than joining a writer’s group and trading with other writers that may not be at your skill level. Note I have done both, but I find socializing difficult. Paying for services gives me confidence that the readers and editors will adequately perform the work. You also may need to set aside monies for e-book coding, marketing, or book design.
Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others?
I have a difficult time writing combat scenes. I’ve never thrown a punch, but I have fired a pistol. I’ve not practiced archery or sword fighting. I’m not athletic, and I have difficulties thinking through the choreography of a combat scene.
What are you working on now? What is your next project?
I’m working on a sci-fi novel about human memories sold on the black market, and a magic realism novel about a lycanthrope where it is unclear if he is a werewolf or just having mental health issues.
I have also been exploring a cross-promotional marketing idea for a techno-thriller novel and cryptocurrency. I knew little about digital currency but successfully set up a coin and NFTs in the name of my novel. I don’t know if my marketing idea will pan out, but understanding more about the technical aspects will help me write about murders on a data-mining farm in the arctic.
What is your biggest failure?
I cannot bond with a peer group. I don’t have any friends due to trust issues and being bullied in my childhood. It feels much safer to keep to myself, but others may find it strange.
What is your biggest fear?
One of my biggest fears is working for an employer until I die. I work hard and spend at least twenty hours a week writing or on other projects, but laboring at a job is soul-destroying. I currently work in software quality assurance. I get paid well enough to support my writing projects and one day will be able to retire.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I do whatever I want to do. If I don’t know how to do a task, I learn how and make mistakes just like everyone else. I no longer wait for someone to give me an opportunity, or go through gatekeepers. I genuinely believe writing is valuable, even if no one wants to read it. Writing can be therapeutic and offers many rewards.
What secret talents do you have?
I am a talented digital painter who bounces between creative activities. I might spend a few months creating artwork, then switch to poetry or novel writing.
What were you like as a child?
As a child, I was an introverted nerdy kid, just like I am now. My general interests are computers, books, and art.
What do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?
I have nightmares every night from CPTSD. I have GAD and have suffered from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) for the last forty years. Sometimes the people who inhabit my dreams are bullies from school or work, but I also have a lot of nightmares about catastrophic weather. I have done a series of digital paintings featuring tornados and hope to do an anthology of tsunami dreams one day.
Thank you, Ashley, for the insightful interview. Readers, scroll down to read more about her boxed set on sale…
Title Gnome Stories Box Set
Author Ashley Parker Owens
Welcome to an impossible fantastical realm where nothing is as it appears, and the ogres in power will do whatever it takes to keep the gnomes slaving in the garden.
All five Gnome Stories books are now available in one box set. Follow the hapless gnomes as they struggle through life, desperate to find a way out from under the ogres’ oppression. There is no peace, only the devastating residue of ogres who have been in power for far too long.
Books in the Gnome Stories set include:
1. Gnome Harvest
2. Rosetta Gnome
3. Trilogy of Shorts
4. The Hollow Rigors of Gnome
5. The Doll’s Eyes of Gnome
Filled with a vivid imagination, the Gnome Stories are sure to inspire and amaze readers as they follow the protagonists in their quest for freedom. These interwoven symbol-laden stories contain many literary Easter eggs for dedicated readers.
A note from the author:
Please click here to read an article I wrote about creating this boxed set:
Kindle Countdown Deal –
On sale Feb 3-10. Grab your copy before it’s too late.
February 3, 2022 at 8:00 AM (PST) $2.99
February 5, 2022 at 1:00 PM (PST) $4.99
February 7, 2022 at 6:00 PM (PST) $6.99
Ashley Parker Owens is an Appalachian writer, poet, and artist living in Richmond, Kentucky. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Eastern Kentucky University and an MFA in Visual Arts from Rutgers University. Ashley has been writing for decades and is a recent Pushcart Prize nominee.
Social Media Links
https://www.amazon.com/Ashley-Parker-Owens/e/B00BG8Z2Y4 (Amazon Author Central)