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Friday, May 29, 2009

Well, hey everyone

Well, hey everyone here at You Gotta Read Reviews!

First, if I might thank you all - what a fantastic forum for authors and readers, alike! My name's Ashley Ludwig, and I'm an author of inspirational romances, both contemporary and historical.

Today, I'm celebrating the official release of my historical romance, All or Nothing - set in the American West of 1876.

The story stems from years of research while working as an archaeologist in the Southwest…tromping around the ruins of Fort Lowell, romanticizing what it must have been like to live and work there. I studied, I read, I had false starts and rough drafts reaching to the ceiling. However, the pieces didn't fit together when a series of “A-ha!” moments happened that the story really came together.

I'll never forget it.

Puzzle piece number one: I was on maternity leave with my eldest daughter--having a rare moment of peace. I'd been thumbing through an Arizona Highways article, and read a half page snippet about a bandit who was never caught. His name, El Tejano. The Texan. Oooh. That's a good one. Never caught. No one knew who he was. An unsolved mystery, and real treasure never found! That would be great to build a story around… Hmmm.

Puzzle Piece number two: Still on maternity leave, little one in the swing, busily tossing old documents from my office, when I came across a draft of a story I'd worked on while working as an archaeologist.

It had everything. Setting. Purple prose. Passive writing. A tiny thread of a romantic plot. However, if I stripped out the beginning, end, and worked on the middle--with unmasking the above mentioned bandit, I just may have a story. Hmmm. But what about character motivation? Who was my hero? Who was my heroine? Why would they need to work together? Hmmmm.

Puzzle Piece number three: The totally ridiculous notion that I remembered how to sew. Disaster in home decorating, battle with a sewing machine, and ended up as $20 in my pocket from Craigslist when I sold the foul thing. But, my heroine. She could be a seamstress. I bet she could whip out a dress lickety split. Hmmm…And I suddenly met RuthAnne.

Puzzle Piece number four: Finding an old article about one of Tucson, Arizona's less than fine moments--an incident where a group of townspeople banded together to resolve the Indian “problem” - the cavalry left to pick up the aftermath. That's it! That was the thing that plagued my hero! I discovered Bowen. Scowling, fierce, and wounded both mentally, and spiritually…I'd bet the love of a seamstress just might bring him back to the right road…

It was enough. The threads of my plot and characters came together in a symphony of synopsis. Start to finish, I knew what was going to happen, how to get them from point A to point B…and all I had to do was write it. For once in my life, busier than I'd ever been, I made time to do it.

Baby in one arm, laptop on my desk, I one hand typed my way through much of that draft. The revision, copy editing, and help developing my voice-I can attribute to my local writing group, critique partners, and finding an editor who believed in the story as much as I did.

My question for the writers among you is this:

Have you experienced that A-ha! moment - when suddenly the pieces of your story fall into place? When it all makes sense to you and suddenly, you become just a vessel from which your story is poured?

Or do you sit down, and write by the seat of your pants, hoping for the best?

Thanks so much for visiting with me today… and thanks, my friends at You Gotta Read Reviews! For having me.

I do hope you all will celebrate with me by commenting here… And one lucky winner will receive a complimentary E-book copy of All or Nothing

~Ashley

____________________________

Here's a tease for you…:

A widow finds love…

A soldier seeks redemption…

And a murderous bandit threatens to destroy them both…

A young widow starting over nearly dies on the perilous, winding road to Tucson, Arizona in 1876.

An accident turns out to be a cover-up for a heinous crime at the hand of a murderous bandit. Robbed and left for dead, all that remains for RuthAnne Newcomb is her faith, and the talents God gave her. She needs both to endure the handsome, vengeful cavalry captain who saved her life.

Captain Bowen Shepherd offers aid in exchange for information leading to the criminal's capture. El Tejano, as the bandit is known, is bound to strike again and RuthAnne is the only living witness to his crimes. Left with nothing but her savvy and unwavering faith, RuthAnne is forced to return to the scene and help with the intolerable soldier's quest.

Already, the criminal is after the lone witness who can destroy him. Bowen and RuthAnne must risk everything to unmask the bandit before he can strike again at the one who cost him the most. Will their newfound love, or their lives, be the cost of bringing a murderer to justice?

Now Available from White Rose Publishing

___________________________

Excerpt:

“Mara!” Her voice choked; the raspy words burned like fire.

She searched the scene on hands and knees in the silver moonlight. Lord, not Mara. Where is she? She's just a girl…please!

Footsteps crunched on the gravel-filled dirt. Nowhere to hide, RuthAnne willed herself invisible. Her hand closed around a fist-sized rock. The bandit wouldn't take her without a fight.

He knelt down beside her. A large, rough hand cupped her cheek in an all too familiar way. “You're awake. Thank God.”

With a ragged battle cry, RuthAnne lunged at her would-be attacker with the stone, cracking him just above the shoulder. He shied away from the blow, and the lump of granite glanced off him. With little effort, he peeled it from her fingers. “You're coming with me, whether you like it or not.”

The brigand picked her up like a child and marched her off to her doom. Terrified, she fought and bucked while he carried her.

Tears of frustration streamed down her face; her hair, a mass of golden curls, tumbled loose about her as she thrashed in his arms. RuthAnne hammered at him with ineffectual fists. He carried her so easily, as if she were feather light, though he did pin her arms close against her body.

“I'm not going to hurt you. I'm here to help.”

28 comments:

Beth said...

Congratulations on your book

ashleyludwig said...

Thanks, Beth! Glad to see you here!

Happy Friday, everyone...

~Ashley

lastnerve said...

Hey Ashley! Congrats on the book! Don't enter me in the contest because I have the book and can't wait to read it. Looks like an outstanding read

Val

ashleyludwig said...

oooooooh, Val. Thank you so much.

I just got such a thrill knowing that you have it to read! I sincerely hope you enjoy it. (knowing you'll tell me if you don't! LOL)

Funny story -- yesterday, shopping with my mom, one of the shop ladies at a store she attends put All or Nothing under my nose, along with a pen and asked me to sign it.

It took me a minute to get she wanted me to autograph her copy! How cool is that?

Thanks for stopping by!

~Ashley

S. said...

Hi Ash,

Don't enter me in the contest either as I am READING the book...and loving it, I might add. :)

But an "ah-ha" moment? Hmm, I don't think so. But I loved the way the plot came together for you. You're an awesome writer! :)

Miss Mae

ashleyludwig said...

MM - tipping virtual cap -- coming from you, that is a HUGE compliment.

I'm all wrapped up in Said the Spider to the Fly... :)

Thanks, you all, for celebrating with me!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, I have to be the Fly Lady and buzz around and clean the house! I'll be popping back in a bit later!

~Ashley

Donna B said...

I love your blog and the way the story came together. I am a pantser myself. I usually start with a one or two page idea starter and I know where it will end. I laugh and cry as I write it as if I was any other reader.

My ah-ha moment usually comes when the black moment presents itself and I solve how to get where I'm going. The joy is in the journey...

Best of luck with your story!

Laurean Brooks said...

Ashley, the more I hear about this book, the harder it is to wait for my copy. Have you put it in the mail yet? Hurry up, Girlfriend! LOL

(No real rush) I just finished, "Said the Spider to the Fly" and am on one of Loree Lough's older books. Then "Before The Season Ends" will be waiting for me.

But when "All or Nothing" hits my mailbox...well a lot of other things will just have to be put on hold.

Your writing is so...visual and descriptive, for lack of better words. Hope the vacation refreshed you.

ashleyludwig said...

Dona B,

I'm fascinated by Pantsers - being a plotter extraordinaire! I need to know where they're headed, even if they veer off course from time to time.

My hubby and I had a long chat about my current WIP and darned if he didn't give me the best plot twist I'd ever dreamed of. NOW I've got to work that into my plot...

Thanks for posting!

~Ashley

ashleyludwig said...

Laurean!

I promise it'll go out today. I JUST got home to a lovely box of books for my next signing...

I'll make sure and send you a copy today. Got your addy and everything.

:)

~Ashley

Laurean Brooks said...

Oh, I forgot to add that I'm a full-blown panster. You've probably guessed that by now.

Outlining puts too many restrictions on creativity. Almost like a death knell. Never could stay between the lines. Ideas hit all at once, so I need to keep paper and pen with me at all times.

Wow! Ashley, How long did it take to write the book? Did you do like me write a few months, put it on the back burner, then pick it up and finish it?

Rebecca J Vickery said...

Hi Ashley,

I am well acquainted with those Aha! moments and they usually happen when I am not near keyboard or pen and paper. They come while I'm at the checkout, driving down the road, or in the shower. LOL Then I have to try to remember every detail and get it jotted down before I lose it.

Great article and congrats on your books. Wishing you much success,
Dixie

ashleyludwig said...

Dixie,

what is it about the shower? Perhaps the relaxation? the privacy?!? but aha moments have found me in there aplenty...

Nice to see you, and have a great day!

Ashley

E.A. West said...

Hey, Ashley! Congrats on the release! No need to enter me in the contest, I'm just stopping by to join the fun.

I've had plenty of Aha! moments, usually after my characters decide to do something totally unexpected and I get stuck. Then inspiration strikes and I can move the story forward again. Of course, I've also had Aha! moments when I finally figure out how to connect the bits of scenes in my mind or discover how the story is going to end.

In case you can't tell, I'm a die-hard pantser. Outline? What's an outline? LOL :)

Mary Ricksen said...

My latest Ah! Ha! moment came when I wrote myself into a corner and I couldn't figure out how to get out of it. I was talking to my sister, (the one who is an obsessive compulsive talker), and she said something that just clicked in my head. Which was good for me because I had absolutely no imagination going at that time. Sometimes it just takes a word or two.

Larry Hammersley said...

Hi Ashley: Just home from a trip to Indy and hope I'm not too late posting. As you know I've read By Another Name and reviewed it. Sounds like I need to pick up your All or Nothing too. My reading list is growing. Aha times? Well, in college I had an Aha time that woke me up but it wasn't for writing. It was for solving a difficult physical chemistry problem. Does that count? I took Creative Writing in college but wound up with a C. I was up against English majors. Best of luck with your novel. Larry

ashleyludwig said...

Larry,

Don't take creative writing teachers too seriously. I got a C in creative writing as a freshman at the university. After being an A+ student in english forever, it floored me.

It wasn't until much later that I understood that teacher was actually pushing me to excel -- focusing on how my writing could improve rather than on what I was doing well.

You are a fantastic writer, and I love how your science and mathematical mind work into your stories. Never give up.

I'm reading "Revision and Self Editing" by James Scott Bell -- it's hopefully going to make things easier on my editors next time around. (Wink!) to my editor! ;) gotta get the book to see who she is. LOL.

Happy writing -- I do happen to love stories about other worlds and storms on Jupiter. FYI.

((hugs))

~Ashley

ashleyludwig said...

Mary

Thanks for stopping by! I love your take on this, and how your sister's prattling on turned into how you solved your story problem! What book was that? or is it a WIP?

Sometimes we get so worked up in mechanics and self editing we forget to just keep writing!

Lately, I've been challenging myself to 1000 words a day. I'm at 24,500 words on current project... and my plot just took a major sidestep. I'm holding on to the reins... we'll see where it leads!

Best,

Ashley

Ashley Ludwig said...

E. A.

I try to pants--but every time I do, I end up with pages upon pages of going nowhere characters and dialog -- or a great scene leading nowhere. SOMETIMES I get the aha! and can figure out who they are and why these strange characters are bugging my subconscious. Usually -- they just go into the file for that someday when I can just write them all...

Thanks for visiting. And for EVERYTHING.
Words can't even express. ((((HUGS)))) You're awesome.

~Ashley

ashleyludwig said...

Laurean,

In answer to your question, this story was a total rewrite of a book I wrote after college... (discussion on that at yesterday's http://www.mamawriters.com )

When the rubber met the road, and (in a shower-aha-moment-of-inspiration) I understood how to take a part of the original and rewrite it. I had 3 months to do it on maternity leave -- then several tweaks and rewrites, and I must have rewritten the first chapter a hundred times.

After that, I met my editor, and let me tell you something. She put me in writing BOOT CAMP. Tough stuff! Tough to hear, let me tell you. When it was returned to me, All or Nothing bled like a victim of El Tejano or worse...

But she was right. About everything. I didn't fight it. I rewrote it. Again. And it was better. And then, I revised it some more. And it was better still. And now, I am a much better author, thanks to The Wild Rose Press and White Rose Publishing.

Frankly, I'm now a book release junkie. I am itching for my next contract, and can't wait to see what's in store for my current WIP!

Thanks for a great day everyone!

I'm putting names in a hat and my daughters are about to choose the winner of today's little e-read! Back in a bit!

Thanks for playing along...

~Ashley

Elaine Cantrell said...

You worked as an archaeologist. How cool is that! Good luck with your book. It sounds wonderful.

Dona Watson said...

Don't enter me in the contest because I plan to buy one at your booksigning on June 20th. I just want to say that I admire your dedication and you are truly an inspiration to me. Keep up the good work!

Dona

MarthaE said...

Hi Ashley! Your books sound wonderful! I like how you pieced together your story! Best wishes on the release!!

ashleyludwig said...

Thanks, Martha!

Have a marvelous weekend...I like how you said that! pieced together, like a puzzle, or a broken pot from the desert floor.

~Ashley

ashleyludwig said...

Dona,

Thanks for stopping by! that means a great deal to me.

By the way - the E-book is now available on White Rose Publishing -- soon to be in Kindle and on the Sony site too. What e-reader do you all use these days?

Ash

ashleyludwig said...

Elaine,

Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comment.

It was fun, exciting, and a perfect profession for a young gal fresh out of school...

~Ash

ashleyludwig said...

Congratulations, Dixie!!!

The girls drew your name from the hat!

I'll be sending your e-book copy of All or Nothing, shortly...

Please make sure I have your e-mail address... and thanks, everyone!

~Ashley

MarthaE said...

Congrats Dixie! Enjoy!!