Interview & Contest: Ashley March

Jen: Please help us welcome Ashley March to Romancing the Book.  Ashley, will you please share a short bio with us?

Ashley: Thanks so much for having me here today, Jen!

After spending countless hours memorizing both traditional and simplified Chinese characters, perfecting her tones, and practicing her speaking with any Chinese native she could find, Ashley successfully graduated with a degree in Mandarin Chinese. She was determined to be the next best Chinese translator in the world. Then she discovered writing romances was as much fun as reading them, and her Chinese capabilities have never been the same. When she isn’t writing, Ashley stays busy chasing around her two young daughters, attempting to do housework, and hiking in the beautiful foothills of Colorado.

Jen: Tell us about ROMANCING THE COUNTESS and where it can be purchased.

Ashley: ROMANCING THE COUNTESS is about an earl and his best friend’s wife who are drawn together after their spouses—who were having an affair—die in a carriage accident. Here’s the official blurb:

Sebastian Madinger, the Earl of Wriothesly, thought he’d married the perfect woman-until a fatal accident revealed her betrayal with his best friend. After their deaths, Sebastian is determined to avoid a scandal for the sake of his son. But his best friend’s widow is just as determined to cast her mourning veil aside by hosting a party that will surely destroy both their reputations and expose all of his carefully kept secrets…

Leah George has carried the painful knowledge of her husband’s affair for almost a year. All she wants now is to enjoy her independence and make a new life for herself-even if that means being ostracized by the Society whose rules she was raised to obey. Now that the rumors are flying, there’s only one thing left for Sebastian to do: silence the scandal by enticing the improper widow into becoming a proper wife. But when it comes to matters of the heart, neither Sebastian nor Leah is prepared for the passion they discover in each other’s arms….

It can be purchased at any major bookstore and online through the normal e-retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Apple, etc.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing? When where you first published? Tell us your call story.

Ashley: I first started writing poetry when I was in middle school. Hormones and boys gave me a lot of reasons for angst, and my creativity found an outlet in poetry. I always enjoyed writing prose pieces for school, but never thought it would become a career for me. I knew how difficult it was to be published by a traditional publisher, and I also wanted to do something which focused on my love for foreign languages. Of course, that all changed, and I’m very glad to say that writing turned out to be the best path for me after all.

My first book, SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, was published October 5, 2010. I received the call that NAL Penguin had offered a 3-book deal on December 4, 2009. I had followed up with my agent that day to ask if we’d heard any response from the publishing houses we’d submitted to, and apparently when I emailed her she was on the phone with my acquiring editor! When she called me a few minutes later, I was floored and astounded and giddy. I tried to maintain my cool while she gave me the news, but I’m pretty sure there was a squeal in there somewhere, and I definitely know that when we hung up I jumped from my chair and started spinning around. =) It was a great moment.

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.

Ashley: Emotional. Real. Unexpected.

Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

Ashley: I’ve been trying to become more of a plotter, but the truth is that the story must always flow from the character. If I don’t know my characters, then any plot I devise will fall flat and lack that certain something that every writer wants in their story and every readers wants to feel as they read.

Jen: What are your biggest motivations to write? What keeps you going?

Ashley: My family is definitely my biggest motivation. It started with the desire to be able to be a stay-at-home mom for my girls, and now that I am, the motivation has shifted to one day be able to give them everything they could ever want (okay, perhaps everything they could ever want that I think they need. 😉

Jen: What is it about the romance genre that appeals to you?

Ashley: I was the girl who started developing crushes as soon as I started meeting boys. I remember it started in kindergarten, but it may have happened earlier. I’m a romantic, and I think that love isn’t just something corny, but a truly powerful force that can heal and renew. I love the rush feeling when you start liking someone and you’re not certain they like you. Then, when you fall in love, the emotional roller coaster that makes your heart hurt and your breath catch at the thought they will never reciprocate your feelings. And then, when you’re pretty sure they love you, too, the events that take you through that realization to the happily-ever-after where you know you’re going to be together forever. Simply put, I love reading and writing about people falling in love and staying in love. My current tag on my website is: Choose love. Hope in love. Believe in love.

Jen: How much influence does the editor have over the story or characters?

Ashley: Quite a bit, actually. Since signing a contract with NAL Penguin, I’ve had at least four proposals rejected, if not more. Those are stories that the editor just didn’t like or didn’t feel would sell as well as they wanted. After a story is written, the editor can ask the author to change plot elements and character actions/traits, etc. Although the author can refuse, it’s generally understood that you should agree with everything that you can. Otherwise, you might earn a reputation for being an author who’s difficult to work with and might not get another contract. With that being said, I am fortunate to have an amazing editor at NAL Penguin whose insight into the stories and characters I’ve written really helps to make them even better.

However, I recently announced that my third book from Penguin, MY LADY RIVAL, will be my last. Although there were many reasons for that decision (see www.ashleymarch.com/blog for details), I have to admit that being able to write the stories and characters I want is very appealing. Editing will still be important to my books even when I self-publish, though. In my mind, editing is what makes a good book really spectacular.

Jen: If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? If you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?

Ashley: I would love to experience a year in Queen Elizabeth I’s court. I’ve always been fascinated by her: she was such a strong and intelligent woman, who fought not to bow to other’s influences. (Of course, I’d make sure not to be a Catholic during my time there.) And the 3 things to take with me? Can I take my laptop with Internet, please? I can’t imagine life otherwise! Also, my contacts—because no type of magnification back then would work for my horrible eyesight. And a book about how to dance during that period; I can’t dance now, but to be able to wear those gowns and dance with the handsome and dashing men in her court, I would certainly try!

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?

Ashley: I just started reading Victoria Dahl’s LEAD ME ON. I’ve heard a lot of great things about her from so many people that I kept feeling that I was missing out. And I hate missing out, even if I don’t usually read a lot of contemporary. =) Other contemporary authors I love include Julie James and Kristan Higgins (I especially loved A LOT LIKE LOVE by Julie James. A-MA-zing book.) Before LEAD ME ON, I read Julie Anne Long’s WHAT I DID FOR A DUKE. It was the first book I’ve ever read (ever) where as soon as I finished it I wanted to read it again immediately. I even typed up a document about all the reasons I loved it so I could be inspired with my future writing.

Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you’ve received about your books?

Ashley: I don’t know how interesting it might be to others, but with the publication of ROMANCING THE COUNTESS I’ve had at least two readers mention that my writing reminds them of Lisa Kleypas. As she is one of my most favorite romance authors, I have to confess I’m still a little disbelieving. It’s a truly wonderful thing to be compared to someone you admire. =)

Jen: What’s next for you?

Ashley: I’m finishing up edits on MY LADY RIVAL (out May 1, 2012) this week, and I’ll continue to work on my online novella project (www.ashleymarch.com/novella). Otherwise, I hope to start soon on a few of my first self-publishing projects. I have a lot of ideas, and am very excited at the freedom to write in whatever time period and location I want.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?

Ashley: I always love to talk to readers! They can email me at ashley@ashleymarch.com or visit my website at www.ashleymarch.com. I’m also on twitter at www.twitter.com/AshleyMarch34 and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AshleyMarch34. Finally, I’m a regular contributor at both the Jaunty Quills blog (www.jauntyquills.com) and Fiction Groupie (http://fictiongroupie.blogspot.com).

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Ashley: Sure! I’d love to know their answers to the question you asked me. It’s always fun to see how different people answer the same question. =) If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? If you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?

In addition to the contest below, find out how to win the ROMANCING THE COUNTESS Book Tour Grand Prize of 50+ romance novels by visiting www.ashleymarch.com!

Contest details:

  • The prize is a print copy of Romancing the Countess.
  • The contest is open to everyone over the age of 18.  International readers included!
  • You must leave a meaningful comment or answer Ashley’s question for entry.  This means your comment needs to be more than “please enter me in the contest”.
  • A valid email address needs to be included in your comment.  If you’re worried about spam, please modify your address, such as admin.bookblog AT gmail.com.  You can also send a message to this email after your comment has been posted.
  • While following the blog isn’t required, it is appreciated.
  • The contest ends on Sunday, October 9.

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