Six years ago, I blindly stumbled down the writing path, unsure of what pitfalls to steer clear of or what scary things were lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce on me, stripping me of my naiveté. I soon found out there were more than lions, tigers and bears in the writing woods. There were freaking trolls gleefully drooling in the underbrush, eager to unleash their venom on this newbie. They tried to discourage me into turning tail and running like a frightened kitten back home after spewing their verbal vomit on the trail in front of me.
They messed with the wrong gal. I don’t give up. Period. Go ahead, internet trolls, and tell me I am incapable of accomplishing something. Go ahead—I dare you. While the little trolls burn through brain matter to come up with a snarky jab, I’ll be busy writing my next book after working with the marketing team at HarperCollins Publishers UK imprint, Killer Reads, for the book they decided to publish after Suburbia Made Me Do It was submitted to them by my agent in New York.
Pow! Right in the kisser you abhorrent trolls!
Whew! I survived the treacherous journey in one piece! Yes I have a few, deep scars embedded under my skin (which is thicker now!) yet the reward of a passel of new friends, fans and supporters was worth the pain. Since publishing—on a whim mind you—my first novel in June of 2011, I’ve written over 20 books, including short stories, novellas and full-length tales and three screenplays. I’ve dabbled in several genres and enjoy them all.
When a subject or idea speaks to my soul, I let the story flow from brain to fingertips. Sometimes the inspiration is derived from real-life situations, sometimes it isn’t. No matter the muse, when an idea springs forth, I’m consumed with it until typing “The End.”
If you are wondering how anything I just typed ties into the title of this blog post, I’ll tell you: every single time I considered throwing my computer out the window, God placed a special soul in my life to encourage me.
The blog post would be a short novel if I thanked every single person I need to, so this post is dedicated to a few special people responsible for lifting me up when I was drowning in the dangerous pit also known as doubt:
Jeff LaFerney – Author, editor and friend. You have the patience of a saint, a heart of gold, and a brilliant way with words. When life’s woes buried me under a pile of mental rubble, your hand was the first to poke through the debris. You are a man of faith, family and morals—a rare combination in the world today. It is an honor to call you friend.
Sabrina Stewart - You are more than an actress, voice-over artist, producer and director. You are a beautiful soul with enough passion and drive to sustain a roomful of people for their lifetimes! Love and warmth radiate from you like a beacon in the darkness. You share a special place in my heart because you believed enough in my writing to take on the monumental task of creating not one but two films based on my books. Your love for mankind and desire to create memorable works inspire me every single day.
Andrea Emmes - Your talent is boundless! Your angelic voice gave the breath of life to words on a page above and beyond my wildest expectations. So much emotion and passion oozes out of you like sweet, raw honey. Every single time I listened to a chapter loaded up to ACX a lump of tears formed in my throat, completely awed by your talents to be the characters from my imagination. Your strong faith and kind demeanor speak volumes of about your love for God.
Sara Morsey- Strong, confident and artistic, you are a woman who knows how to take charge and live each day to the fullest. You’ve been with me on this journey from the very beginning, encouraging me to keep writing, keep digging deep for inspiration and to keep pounding the words out. Your vocal range astounds me with each book you’ve narrated for me. No one can pull off the sexy southern dialect like you do!
Rebecca Roberts – Tough and full of spunk, you are honest about your thoughts and opinions, urging me to step out of my comfort zone and believe in my work as much as you did. Without your backbone of support and insistence I seek out an agent to take things to the next level, I wouldn’t have had the guts to write Suburbia Made Me Do It. The one little sentence you spoke in a phone conversation changed my life: “Your sense of humor is wickedly funny so you should write a dark comedy.” I took the challenge and look what happened! You kicked me out of my comfortable nest, forcing me to fly. Now, we are soaring together.
Elaine Raco Chase – Mentor and personal confidant—you are a cheerleader extraordinaire! With a smile and a loving spirit, you have been a staunch supporter from day one and a loyal friend. Witty, charming, and with a wicked sense of humor, we clicked from the beginning and haven’t slowed down since. My ears are always ready to listen to your sage advice and playful banter.
Janelle Taylor – Inspiration is the first word that comes to mind when I think about you, followed by the close second of determination. You have the heart of a true steel magnolia. The love you have for the craft of writing and the heights you’ve achieved during your glorious career are inspirational. One of the first people I ever interviewed on my radio show, I recall how nervous I was to speak with you—until your sweet, Georgia-tinged voice assured me things would be just fine—and they were after you graciously walked me through interviewing you. Just like Elaine Raco Chase, you’ve been an avid supporter, encouraging me to continue on, and that means the world to me.
Linda Langton – Superwoman. That is my nickname for you, Linda. You went above and beyond the duties of a literary agent. You took time to assist me from start to finish in a world I was unfamiliar with, encouraging me throughout the entire process, helping me achieve a dream I’ve had for years. Thank you for everything. Your cape is in the mail. J
Betty Dravis – Like Elaine and Janelle, you’ve been a part of this crazy journey with me since the minute I took my first step on the path of writing. Like an archeologist, you looked past the dirt and debris of the unpolished words, recognizing the hidden treasure just below the surface. With gentle urging and reassurances the raw talent just needed some spot cleaning, you’ve been my rock. Thank you for the guidance, friendship, and most importantly for being you. When God fashioned you, He broke the mold.
Joanna Lee Doster – My New York Soul Sister! Your friendship and encouragement mean more to me than I can properly put into words. We’ve shared so many wonderful moments over the years and countless hours on the phone while swapping stories, tips, ideas and more. Allow me to publicly apologize for giving you nightmares as I read chapters from my zombie series to you over the phone, and thank you for being such a wonderful soundboard as I hash out new plots and tales. For you, the world.
Donna Lickteig, Donna Thompson, and Pam Carroway Jones – Better known as “Ashley’s Angels” because of the role all three of you have played in my life. Support, encouragement and friendship to boot—books drew us together yet our comradery will keep us connected. Allow me to express my heartfelt thanks to all three of you for being a part of my life and walking alongside me on this journey.
To my fans – You didn’t think I’d forgotten about all of you, right? Of course I didn’t! Each and every one of you and all the downloads, reviews, shares, tweets, comments and support made all the falls and stumbles during the past six years tolerable and the reason I kept going!
Tomorrow is promised to none ~ embrace the present and say what’s on your heart to those who’ve made your time here on this planet memorable. Pass along the gratitude to the lives of others and guess what? You’ll discover a whole new attitude in your own.