An Interview with Ashley Hansen

Ashley Hansen: writer, geologist, mother, tamer of the Utah Wilderness

 

 

Like the last post, this is an interview with a fellow member of #51writers, the twitter hashtag for and about strong female protagonists. I had the privilege and pleasure of interviewing Ashley Hansen, and if you want to learn more about her amazing YA project, read further!

Welcome, Ashley. Tell us a little about yourself.

Thanks for doing this interview! I am a full time mom, a part time geologist, and a writer in between. I’ve been making up stories since I was a small kid, but I didn’t start writing them until high school. I wasn’t brave enough to show anyone until I turned 30, and thought, what do I have to lose? I live in Utah with my husband, three kids, and two cats, and when I’m not writing I like to knit, run, hike, and bake.

It sounds like you like all the things I do! Except running, haha. I cycle out of necessity but that’s basically all the exercise I can stand. On to the next question: what do you like to write?

My first novel is with beta readers right now. It’s a young adult fantasy/fairy tale retelling about a girl who wanted to be a chemist before she found out she was a princess. While I wait for feedback I’m working on the sequel. I tend to stick to young adult, but I’d like to write more than just fantasy. I have an idea and some scenes written for a YA contemporary, that I want to get back to at some point.

Ooh. What fairy tale are you telling?

Sleeping Beauty. It’s been one of my favorites since I was a kid, but as an adult I want to know about the actual princess a little more. So I decided to write about it.

What do you like to read, but not write?

That’s a great question! I love reading books that have humor, but I cannot write it. I also like reading adult books, even though I focus on young adult for my writing. And I do read non-fiction too, but I think it takes a really unique and talented person to take a bunch of facts and weave them into an interesting story. I’m not sure I have the patience for that.

we were brought together by , which aims to give love to strong female characters. Who’s your favorite strong female character right now?

There are so many great female characters, it’s hard to choose. Right now I think my favorite female character is Sang Ly from The Rent Collector by Camron Wright. Sang Ly is a woman who lives in a dump in Cambodia and has a baby that is sick. What I love about her is that she takes action to make her life better. She has to go completely out on a limb, and she has to have help, but she persists, and improves her life and that of her family. I love that she uses both her traditions and a new education to do so. While I love heroines that save the whole world because they are so fun to read, my favorites tend to be the ones that make a difference in smaller but no less heroic ways.

That book sounds amazing. I have two more questions: First, how do you keep yourself from getting distracted in this age of distractions with work, kids, pets, Netflix and so on?

I try to set aside some time for writing activities everyday. For me, it’s while my kids are at school, and the baby naps. Writing activities can include writing, but also include editing, beta reading, researching, or anything else that gets me closer to my goals. I also set aside time to relax, so that I don’t get overwhelmed by everything.

And lastly: what is one piece of advice you know now that you wish you’d heard back when you were getting started?

My advice would be to connect with other writers. This was one thing that seemed really daunting to me when I first started, but I’ve found that there are so many people who can help you grow and support you. It will make you a better writer and make writing more enjoyable. Whether that means you join a local writer’s group, attend writing conferences, or engage with writers using social media, get out there and meet other writers.

 

That is a great piece of advice. And that’s the interview for today! Thank you to Ashley for joining me and discussing her process and preferences.

Ashley blogs at confidentialchronicles.wordpress.com, and if you want a sample of her style head over there for some free, beautiful short fiction and creative nonfiction. She can also be found on twitter as @ashleydhansen12.

An Interview With ThisIsHowIWasteTime

Today we have an author interview! This is ThisIsHowIWasteTime, who has graciously agreed that I may call her Jen. Both Jen and I are part of #51writers on twitter, which has brought us together for this lovely conversation. Jen tweets and blogs and today she talks to me!

1. Welcome, Jen. Tell me a little about yourself:

Let’s see, I’m almost 28. I’m a CNA by day and have been for twelve years. I’ve told stories all my life but really got into writing at the age of nine, my first “book” being a Goosebumps style story about a rose that killed people who moved into the house it belonged to (horrible I know, haha)

I strayed away from writing in high school when I started my career and hadn’t picked it up other than writing random story ideas that I never stuck with until my current project.

I have a soon-to-be 8 year old boy, 2 cats, and one very weird pup. In my spare time, I am a hobbyist and have many many creative projects going aside from my book. Crochet, sketching, dabbled in jewelry making, and many more that I want to try.

2. Fantastic. And what do you write now? What is your WIP about?

Ever since I could read I’ve chosen Fantasy, I tried other genres but it was a struggle not to abandon them. I always had a pull towards the worlds and creatures you could find in Fantasy novels/series/art! Actually I always turned to Fantasy books to escape stress/emotional moments. Still do!

My novel is a New Adult Fantasy novel, kind of a mix between Astral Projection/family magic/spirit world. With innocent souls, horrid demons, and a rogue team member. Grace comes back home from college when her mom goes into a mysterious coma, only to find out that her family has special gifts passed down through generations. Along with six other families, they’ve been tasked with protecting innocent souls (living or dead) in the Veil. However the circle broke years ago and went into hiding when the Gatekeeper went rogue. Now he’s back and coming after the rest of the circle. Grace and the others have to find a way to take him out and save her mom and all of the other souls before catches all of them.

3. What genres do you like to read, but NOT write?

Hm, I like to read SOME mystery/romance books. Or New Adult dystopian. Not many others can keep my attention and you could say horror but I have considered dabbling in horror for future projects- not fully set on that.

4. And another reading question! We met via #51writers, a hash tag for and about strong female characters. Who’s your favorite strong female character?

I might have to think about this question, there are so many options. I’ve read so many books that it’s hard to decide. How about you?

Right now, Wonder Woman! Alanna made a big impact on my teenhood, too.

Always Wonder Woman! Or Hermione Granger, I don’t think Harry would have gotten very far without her.

So true.

I was never a fan of the whole damsel in distress scenarios so most of the books I’ve read had stronger female characters.

5. Okay, second to last question. What do you do to keep yourself writing?

I read or do something creative, when I get stuck or when I’m having trouble getting motivated. Just to get the creative juices flowing.

6.  And the final question: if you could give younger you one piece of writing advice, what would it be?

I would tell my younger self “Don’t stop!!!” I shied away from writing and I would probably be a lot farther had I kept going. Now, coming back into writing with all of the technology that it entails, I’m trying to remember everything I learned about writing and trying to learn all of the new information. It’s tough, and a little degrading at times.

Jen, aka ThisIsHowIWasteTime, thank you so much for joining me. I hope that we have a lot of fun on the #51writers hashtag. For everyone else, you can find Jen at her blog, or on twitter. Read her fantasy and enjoy!

Writing for Money: Being Reliable

Neil Gaiman once said:

You get work however you get work, but people keep working in a freelance world… because their work is good, because they are easy to get along with and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three! Two out of three is fine.

If you’re getting into ghost writing or working on spec, I’d argue that you need all three out of three, especially to begin with. The world is full of freelancers, and from my own personal experience, I’m more expensive than many of the freelancers out there and thus I need to justify my expense. So today I’m expanding on these three points, and how they lead to reliable work as a freelancer – both in that you will be considered reliable, and that you will make reliable money.

Impressing the Boss

I write for a couple of freelance portals. Sometimes there are 50-70 other bids for a job I want. This means that if I want to grab that amazing job, I need to prove that I can give my client the kind of writing he wants.

Once you get to a certain point, it’s going to come down to the matter of individual taste. Make sure you keep that in the back of your mind, otherwise you spend too much time dwelling on how awful you are when you lose a contract. Pick yourself up, tell yourself that you’re awesome, and get ready for the next job. And of course, keep practicing. Good writing will get you a long way, especially if you’re a fairly untested freelancer.

Keeping it Friendly

I have been on the other side of the table every so often, working as a client rather than contractor. Mostly this is in regards to the magazine for which I am a second reader. So I’ll say flat out: I don’t like working with unpleasant people. I don’t like reading the work of unpleasant people. There are a lot of great writers out there, and there are a lot of publishable stories that we don’t take at my magazine because it comes down to one or the other, and we like the other just a little bit better. So if you give me a good reason to say no to you, I’ll take it. And the same is true on the freelancer side of things.

Freelance portals have review options, which means that your client can complain publicly about how rude you are. People might take a chance on someone with less experience but more politeness as well. Not to mention that working with someone repugnant drains your emotional energy and nobody needs that right now. The easier you are to work with, the more likely clients will come back. And that means that you’ll start to have constant income streams.

Delivering by Deadline

Authors are famous for not doing this. George R.R. Martin is a classic example at the moment. What is he, two years behind on Winds of Winter? Other Fantasy authors in particular have caught flak for falling behind on deadlines, and you might think that it’s just the way things go.

If you are a new freelancer, it had better not be the way things go for you.

Here’s the thing: a lot of deadlines are kind of tight. Especially if you’re doing work on spec through a portal. If you say you can complete a piece by a deadline, people expect you to deliver. And life happens, we all understand that. But you need to do what you can to make sure life doesn’t happen to you before you’ve built up a reputation. This isn’t a bad idea for publishing under your own name, either. People will give you a break if they can see your missed deadline is out of the ordinary.

So, how do you make sure you don’t miss your deadline? First of all, consider your expectations of the piece. How long will it take you to create a piece you’re happy sending out as a representation of your abilities? You won’t just be drafting, you’ll be revising, so keep that in mind. Build in some extra time in case an emergency disrupts your schedule. That way, you can keep on track without pulling an all-nighter or turning in work you’re not happy with. Also, if you don’t have an emergency, you can get the work done early and get a reputation for writing ahead of the deadline!

Being a freelancer is hard work, but super rewarding. Hopefully you can use these tips to build your reputation and get repeat customers.