The Reading Corner Newsletter

March 2021

Hello Readers!

Not to sound like a broken record, but, yes, we’re still in Washington. We remain hopeful that we’ll get to Tucson later this spring. Here’s a view from our patio in Arizona that keeps us buoyed on long, dreary Pacific Northwest days.

Publishing Update:

Big news! Just last week, I got a contract for an audiobook for Answer Creek. The title was selected from a large list of She Writes Press titles and is slated for June 2021 release through Orange Sky Audio, a division of Findaway. Right now, I’m in the exciting phase of approving a narrator. Stay tuned.

And, as Ruby from Jericho would say, I am damn pleased with myself for creating a YouTube playlist to listen to while I’m writing. I asked my youngest son how to create one (I’m hopeless at following written directions). After a few false starts, I’ve created a great list of contemplative music. Now that I know how to make a playlist, I’m looking forward to creating more soundtracks. So now it’s earphones on, coffee at the ready, and “go!” each morning as I head into the 65,000-word arena.

As for Jericho, I recently received special permission to access archives at both the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson and the Oracle Historical Society in Oracle, Arizona. That is, when we get to Tucson! In the meantime, I’ve been living in 1905 Arizona through a subscription to https://www.newspapers.com/

There is so much you can glean from period newspapers, and not only from articles and editorials (for example, Arizona Territory refused to be lumped with New Mexico for joint statehood in 1905, so they waited seven more years to be admitted to the union, the last of the 48 contiguous states to be added in 1912).

Mining old newspapers is a treasure trove (and a proverbial rabbit hole) for authors. It’s one of my favorite parts of writing historical fiction. Right now, I’m taking copious notes from ads and personals and letters to the editor. Here’s a sample from The Tucson Citizen from 2/1/1905. Note the price of this dinner  was fifty cents! Fifty cents in 1905 is approximately $15 in today’s dollars . . . still a bargain.

In addition to researching and writing, I’m also involved in a critique group, reading three manuscripts to offer author blurbs, and making time for my grandson’s book club and my Tucson book club. And there are (ack!) 34 books on my current to-read list. I am living proof of the adage: Too Many Books, Too Little Time.

From the Wormettes:

These selected titles are offered from my incredible book club members in Washington. We call ourselves the Wormettes (our husbands, who meet concurrently at the local tavern when we’re meeting for book club in non-COVID times) call themselves the Council of Worms. We’re a tight, eclectic group of women with a wide reading bandwidth:

The Four Winds, by Kristin Hannah
The Things We Cannot Say, by Kelly Rimmer
Smallbone Deceased, by Michael Gilbert
Snow Creek, by Gregg Olsen
Game of Queens, by Sarah Gristwood
Death at the End of the Road, by John Morsell
The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood
The Education of an Idealist, by Samantha Power

This week, I’m reading Johnny Boggs’ newest, A Thousand Texas Longhorns.

I recently attended a Women Writing the West webinar via Zoom featuring Johnny Boggs, a prolific western writer and storyteller extraordinaire. It’s not often that an author can jump from page to stage and keep other authors entertained.

My favorite line of his from the evening: “Everything I tell you is true, except when it’s not.” Perfect for a fiction writer.

I’ve Been Punked!

So much for contests! I learned my lesson asking my witty friends to complete a sentence. The answers I got last month ranged from hysterical to obscene, so I’m giving contests a break. Stay tuned for an audiobook giveaway later this spring.

Your Questions

On the other hand, readers have asked some great questions about my writing life. Here are a couple of answers. I’ll get to other questions in upcoming newsletters. Keep the questions coming!

What is your writing schedule?
Usually, I am at my desk from 9-1 six days per week, although these days, I’m at it until about 4 p.m. each day. As any author can tell you, even when you’re not at your desk, you’re thinking about your characters 24/7. No lie! I dreamed a scene this week. So don’t let anyone tell you they can’t write a book in their sleep.

How many books do you work on at a time?
One, because the character I’m writing demands my full attention. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t a host of other characters knocking at my door! Begging for my attention are a narrative based loosely on the life of my Irish great-grandmother who ran a chuck wagon in Colorado in the 1890s and the fictionalized story of my husband’s great aunt and uncle who operated a hardscrabble farm in Nebraska in the 1930s and 1940s. I’m also intrigued with the idea of doing a couple of dual narratives. And then there’s that Montana story that has haunted me for years . . .

In Closing:

Author Barbara Claypole White posted on social media this week that she’s “Addicted to Hope” (and has a T-shirt to prove it). I’m truly hopeful that each of you is well and finding meaning in this pandemic. If it weren’t for this year-long lockdown, I wouldn’t have Jericho, so I’m thankful for the time gifted to me to dig deep and write this novel.

What has this year brought you? Other than panic, loneliness, anxiety, and despair? Have there been any silver linings for you?

A silver lining for all of us: spring is just around the corner.

Until next month, Happy Reading

Ashley

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