I Promise You Won't Learn A Thing From This Blog

The official blog for author Ashley Chappell. Check back every week for a few laughs at my expense or, if you know the love-hate process that is writing, commiseration.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Trailer for Alice Will!

For all of you not close enough to bear witness (consider yourselves lucky), I just did the Happy Dance. Despite the fact that my dance moves border on the epileptic, I think it was a well-earned jig. And why am I doing the Happy Dance, you ask? *Please, please, please ask!!!* Well, I’ll tell you...

I got my Book Trailer today! Please enjoy and share with everyone :-)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Author Interview and Cover Reveal - S.P. Cervantes

Once again today I have the privilege of sharing another fantastic author from Center One's stable of talent. S.P. Cervantes is the author of the upcoming novel Always and Forever, the first installment of the highly promising Shadow Hill series. I've had the pleasure of getting to know S.P. over the past few weeks and she is a passionate writer full of wonderful ideas. Her debut novel is a YA fantasy, but don't let that fool you. In addition to wizards, covens, and terrifying monsters, Always and Forever entices the reader with a budding, yet tense romance between Ava and Dalton, two of the novel's very well-drawn characters. What else could a reader ask for? From her book jacket...

Always and Forever
Click here to pre-order your copy!
Twin sisters Ava and Hannah were ripped from their peaceful seeming lives into a whirlwind of attacks and war only to learn the real truth about their existence.
Nothing was as it seemed anymore and may never be again. They had already lost their father in childhood now they have to cope with their mother's kidnapping as they watch those sworn to protect them risk their lives.

A: How long have you been writing?
S: I have been writing since I was in grade school. My older brother was really into the choose your own adventure stories, and I would try and make up my own. As I got older I wrote mostly short stories, but was never confident enough to share them. 

A: How would you describe the main theme of Always and Forever?
S: The main theme for Always and Forever is about a girl becoming a woman trying to understand herself and the power she has while facing challenges and danger that have her questioning everything she thought she knew about herself and the world she lives in.

A: Most authors have a love hate relationship with writing. What did you love/hate about writing this novel?
S: I love writing the Secrets of Shadow Hill series. I began Always and Forever while pregnant and on bedrest with my twins as a way to keep my mind sharp and positive. Writing has always been a stress releiver for me. The fantasy genre lets me be creative and focus on something other than my busy life.
The most difficult part of writing is finding the time and letting go of my insecurities. I am a mother of 3 and a teacher, which keeps me very busy. Luckily my husband is very supportive of my writing and gives me time when I am "in my groove" and have to get my ideas down. I don't know if any of my books would have ever gotten done without his support and help with my kids. My twin sister was pivitol in encouraging me to get over my insecurities and putting my book out there to be published. I knew if anyone would tell me my book was horrible, she would. She is an avid reader and I respect her opinion greatly. I always tell my students that you will never reach the stars if you don't try, and am glad that I finally decided to take my own advice.

A: I love that the story is written from each of your main characters’ POV. Was it difficult to switch modes between their voices?
S: The struggles for me in writing the story from my two main characters' point of view was not being repetitive. I felt by writing from both points of view, I could better tell the internal struggles the two characters were having while facing danger. I loved writing the story from this type of format.

A: What can we look forward to next from the Shadow Hill series?
I am very excited for the next stories from my series as more secrets of Shadow Hill are revealed. The second book has a lot of action and is very suspensful. There are a lot of twists and turns as my main characters face struggles and danger while trying to protect their coven and the world. I literally could not stop writing it and hope my readers will feel the same way when reading it. I am very proud of this series and am excited to share them!

Great answers, S.P.! For all of you wanting to learn more secrets about Shadow Hill, click here to read sample chapters of Always and Forever.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Author Interview and Cover Reveal - Ronda Paige

Today I have the unique privilege of hosting my first interview with not only a talented author, but also a co-worker and a friend. Ronda Paige is the author of Patience's Love, a sea-faring, swash-buckling epic romance guaranteed to leave you breathless. Ronda is also an author in the Center One Publishing stable and this, her first novel, will be available 11/13/12. Click on the link below her beautiful cover art to check out sample chapters and pre-order your own copy today!

Click here to pre-order your copy!
From the Book Jacket:  Patience Douglas was to be the most shy, demur, fragile, docile creature on the face of the earth. In short, everything Patty MacDouglas (Captain Flame) was not. She would dress in the most feminine and frilly dresses, with her hair left long, and she would even use a breathless coy tone of voice to further separate the two personalities...
Terrance Bordeaux was a disappointment to his family, a fop in the truest sense of the word. Traveling at a whim, dressing in whatever the latest fashion and spending his father's wealth without concern, quite unlike the businesslike Terror of the Seas.
Fate put the two together; however, could either trust enough to allow the other to see their true self?

A: How long have you been writing?  
R: Off and on since my senior year in High School.    Studyhall, fan fiction with my friends as lead characters.  We had a lot of fun with that.

A; What was your initial inspiration for Patience’s Love? 
R: A computer game :-). Probably from the mid eighties, don't remember the name, just that it was one of the early ones, text based and had something to do with escaping from a pirate ship.

A: Patty MacDouglas is a striking and strong female lead; did you have any real-life role models for her character? 
R: My Mom, she was a very independent self reliant person,  she taught me to be the same.  That and working in what was once considered a male dominated field you learn how to handle various situations.

A: What was the biggest challenge for you in writing this novel?  
R: Time.  The released version has gone through many drafts.  I wrote in spurts, laid it aside when other things took priority, then would start again.  The main story line was there, but the details of the story took years to unfold.

A: What can we look forward to next from Ronda Paige? 
R: A lot I hope, at last count there were nine concepts.  The next one however is a trilogy which follows the relationship between two law enforcement officers set in the future where law enforcement is on a Stellar scale.

Thanks to Ronda for making herself available! Take a look at her sample chapters on Center One's website here. 

Thursday, August 02, 2012

The Disposable State

I’m breaking form a little today with my first non-writing blog in ages. But this is a topic that has been bothering me for a long, long time.
Fall-down Fence
Photo from  loveyourbackyard.blogspot.com

Do you remember the days when making a big purchase meant making a lifetime investment? When even small purchases were quality construction and then cared for and well-maintained – that’s why we still have our grandparents’ furniture and dishes when our modern equivalents tend to be replaced on an average of less than 10 years. There was a time when it was unthinkable to not take pride in what you owned, and in taking pride you took care of it and extended the life of it as long as possible. It wasn’t that long ago that it was also unthinkable to hire a contractor without checking references, reputation, and qualifications. Especially not based simply because that contractor gave the cheapest price. That was when people knew what “You Get What You Pay For” really means. It was a warning to keep someone from making a poor investment, not a cheap grumble to make after the deed has already been done.

Not that long ago at all... But now we live in a world with so many options all vying for our attention that the focus has been switched to the cheapest option, even if it’s truly only cheaper in the short term. What happened to planning ahead, thinking ‘down the road,’ and preparing for the long term??

The reason this is bugging me right now is that I drive past examples of this every single day on the way to work. We live in a new neighborhood where construction is still ongoing, so the salesmen and other contractors still circle our new neighbors like vultures with offers of inexpensive home improvements like fences, gutters, etc. But right now it’s the fences that irk me the most. Imagine this...

Congratulations! You’ve just made a sizeable investment in the purchase of your brand new home! What’s your first big step? Maybe you should build a fence to keep your dog in and your neighbors out. But wait – do you know how to build a fence? Shucks, no. Hey, look - There’s a guy over there putting flyers on mailboxes that say he’ll beat any other price to build a fence, how convenient and cheap!

One year later... Take a drive through our neighborhood and see fence after fence already rotting because part of the cost savings they’d gotten was that the contractor didn’t stain or seal the cheap pine boards in any way. Oh, and where they didn’t cement the posts in and then didn’t even pack them tightly enough entire rows are starting to lean one direction or another. And because they only used two rows of support 2x4s and one cheap nail to hold the pine boards in each, boards are popping right off the nails everywhere you turn. Because of those cheap nails, rust is streaking down the wood because the nails aren’t even for decking. The bottoms are curling up because they were placed right on the ground because, hey, it’s easier to nail in place that way, right?

And the people who live in these nice new houses with fences that look 20 years old want to complain about the contractor they paid up front who suspiciously disappeared without giving them any kind of warranty on his work... But they’d just wanted a ‘for now’ fence at the time. It was cheap and it was good enough ‘for now,’ already thinking that they wouldn’t be in this house for more than 4 or 5 years. So why bother with it?

Why spend a good $3,000 on something that might only last you a couple of years before you have to spend almost the same amount just to keep it from falling down? And why don’t people ask themselves this before they throw the money AND resources away?

We have a fence, too. It was the first thing that Steven wanted to do, and within a couple months after he bought the house we were in the back yard getting ready with post hole diggers, cement, rot-resistant cedar fence boards, rust-resistant decking screws, and enough 2x4s for three support rows all of the way around. Not to mention many gallons of water-proofing stain. This part isn’t bragging on my part – Steven was the architect and his commitment to quality in everything he does is one of the many things I love about him. If he’s going to do something, he’s going to do it right. It took us a long time working on the weekends and after work some evenings, but because of taking the time and taking pride, we have a fence that will still look this good 20 years from now, and a prospective buyer will see that what we have done adds value.

The best part? Even though we used much higher-end materials, the total cost was cheaper than hiring a fly-by-night contractor because we did the work ourselves. And this year after we apply a new coat of stain to our beautiful fence, we’ll get to sit on the back patio and enjoy a nice glass of wine while we watch our neighbors replacing fence boards, propping up posts, and cursing the cheap and rep-less contractor they hired to do a cheap job... for doing a cheap job.

The Architect
Steven, the handsome architect, building the frame.

The Beginning
One cold day in January, but we still installed two sections of fence boards
because we were so anxious to see the fruits of our labor

Almost there
Not quite the finished product, but close! This is before
installing the lattice and staining.
Fence Girl
Steven taught me so much about carpentry
during this project. We made a great team!