HAPPY RELEASE DAY TO... Claire Ashgrove!

Please welcome Claire Ashgrove to the blog today! Claire's new book, Before the Storm, releases today. Here's wishing her many,
many sales.

Thanks for being here today, Claire. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

Building on a background of fantasy game design, a fascination with history, and a lifetime love of books, award-winning author Claire Ashgrove brings to life action-filled, passionate journeys of the heart. Her paranormal series, The Curse of the Templars, marries the history of the Knights Templar with the chilling aspirations of the most unholy--a must-read for speculative fiction fans. She also writes as the National Bestselling Author Tori St. Claire and historical romance author Sophia Garrett.

In her non-writing time, she’s runs Finish The Story, a full-scale editing house co-founded with Bryan Thomas Schmidt. She lives in Missouri and enjoys cooking, studying ancient civilizations, and spending downtime with her two sons and too-many horses, cats, and dogs.

Wow! I'm exhausted just after reading your bio! But back to the interview...Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person? 

Not really. I don’t particularly like to initiate a conversation with a stranger, but I’m completely comfortable carrying on a conversation if it’s initiated with me. I’m probably less introverted than a lot of authors, although I wouldn’t say I’m the “life of the party” by any means.
What’s the hardest part of this business for you?
Marketing and Promotions. There’s so much time required to simply plan a marketing or promotions push, and lawdy, that time drives me nuts. There are so many other things I could do: edit for my editing company, write, work with the horses, play video games with the kids… things that I enjoy far more than planning dates and strategies. I also have never been someone who’s entirely comfortable “selling myself,” and sometimes promotions feel like pushing me, or my books, at people. Which makes me a bit uncomfortable. Though once it’s said and done and things like blog tours are in swing, I love doing them and connecting with readers and new-to-me bloggers! (And those who’ve worked with me since the beginning too, of course!)

Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?

You know, this sounds really silly, but what first comes to mind happens fairly regularly—having to pick up the phone and call a stranger. Like… calling a store to see if they have something in stock. I hate doing that. I would much rather drive all the way around town checking different places and striking out than make a phone call to ask. Unless, of course, it’s someone/someplace I communicate with regularly. On a publishing level, having to reach out to successful authors for endorsements is extremely uncomfortable.

I totally understand the phone thing! I hate that, too. What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?

Truthfully, when it comes to publishing, I know there’s a huge fear of ‘rejection’. Be that from agents/editors, from reviewers, from other authors even. The fear often grabs that there’s something about us which makes us more prone to stay in our caves and keep our necks safe from harm. But really, when it boils down to everything, these people are humans, just like you and I. Even better, we’ve all been there, and we all know what it’s like. Editors know that sitting down for a pitch can be paralyzing if you’re shy, and a simple remark like, “Pardon me, I’m a bit nervous” isn’t something you need to hide. Put it out there. People will respond, nine times out of ten, with empathy and compassion and do whatever possible to put you at ease. Just don’t let your fears get the best of you. If you don’t take the chances, you’ll never know the possibilities.

Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it?

Halle Rhoads has a terrifying gift--she can kill with the fury of the storm.

She should have known that kind of power wouldn't go unnoticed. Thrust into a world full of dark magic with a handsome stranger who claims he can teach her, she struggles to master her abilities and stumbles onto a dangerous truth. She's a windwalker, the chosen vessel of the ancient dragons who once ruled the world. Many will stop at nothing to possess the power in her blood, should they discover her secret. With necromancers hunting her and Halle's closest allies guarding secrets, mastering her magic becomes a matter of necessity.

But accepting her destiny is altogether different. For doing so means she must sacrifice everything.

Your book sounds fantastic. Where can my readers find you on the web?

Claire Ashgrove Website

Untamed Spirit Blog



Buy links:

Thanks for a great interview, Claire! Good luck with the rest of your blog tour!

Writing Process Blog Hop

I love reading about other authors' writing processes, so I'm happy to share mine in this blog hop. Many thanks to the lovely Kate Curran for linking to my post here. You can read about her process here. And if you're looking for an emotional, tear-jerker love story, you must check out her newest book, Falling For You...Again.

What am I working on?
I tend to work on several projects at once (probably why I'm so slow in getting out new releases...). Right now, the main book I'm working on is a follow up to my very first book, Borrowed Stilettos. This new book will be the twin sister's story--this is a challenge, because in Borrowed, Ava isn't an all-together likable character. She's very shallow and selfish, so turning her into the heroine of her own book is kind of difficult. But I think when readers learn why she is shallow and selfish, they'll come to love her as I do.

How does my work differ from others of the same genre?
Every author has his or her own unique voice and style. My heroines tend to have my quirky sense of humor, which can get them into trouble sometimes. I also like to write heroes I could truly see myself falling in love with. Some romance novel heroes are awesome to read about in a book, but would I really want to have a relationship with someone so arrogant, so cocky, so...whatever? I like to make my readers laugh, cry and fall in love along with me.

Why do I write what I do?
While my books are all contemporary romances, some of them are light and funny, and others are more angsty, dramatic and emotional. Some of them are really, really spicy, and some of them (Her One-Night Prince) have no sex at all. My books are varied just as my reading habits are--I don't have a favorite genre to read. Although I am a bit partial to serial killer novels (if I thought I could write a good one, I'd give it a try. Maybe someday...).

Recently, I wrote and released something completely different. The Checklist Diet is my first non-fiction book--it's basically a compilation of the advice I give my personal training clients (I've been a personal fitness trainer for 10+ years). 

How does my writing process work? 
My process is a big, fat mess. I listened to a Jane Porter workshop once called, It's My Process and I'll Cry if I Want To. That pretty much sums it up for me. I am a pantser when I write--which means I don't write from a plan but from the seat of my pants. But I always get stuck about halfway through the book. So stuck that I usually move on to another project for a while. 

Each book goes through countless drafts and revisions. I never really know who my characters are until I've written the first draft. In fact, sometimes I don't know them or really enjoy the writing process until the 3rd or 4th draft, when my story starts to look and feel like a book someone other than me or my mom would like to read. LOL. That part of the revision process is really fun. Sometimes, when in the middle of the first couple of drafts, I will read parts of my published novels to remind myself that I've weathered this storm before, and I can weather it again.

All that said...I really want to become more of a plotter. I think if I could plot out my books beforehand, my first drafts wouldn't be quite so hideous, and the revisions process might be a little less likely to make me want to jump off the nearest cliff. I keep taking workshops and classes, hoping for the magic elixir that will turn me into a plotter. I haven't found that elixir yet, but I'm hopeful. I'm taking a class right now from Margie Lawson's website--Story Safari. So far, I'm loving it. Will I be able to actually write this marvelous book I'm plotting? I will keep you posted. :)

You can find me on the web:
This blog or my other one, Life is a First Draft
@RebeccaJClark on Twitter

The Writing Process Blog Hop continues. Next Monday, check out Ana Kenley's process: 

Ana Kenley writes young adult romantic suspense. Ana is a member of Savvy Authors, YALitChat, and Young Adult Romance Writers of America. She has lived all over the country, and enjoys imagining which neighbor is hiding a dark, mysterious past.
You can connect with her here:

The link for her blog is: Ana Kenley - YA Romantic Suspense Author