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Interview with Ashley Pitzer

She is a Teen Fantasy Author and Ascension Coach helping heart-centered people live their FANTASY lives. Her debut novel, The Birth Challenge, is known for being the best self-help book without being a self-help book. She is a certified NLP Coach, NGH Hypnotist, Personal Trainer, and Yoga Teacher. She brings all these certifications together with her sense of intuition, her gift of introspection and awareness, and her interest in money management to help her clients feel wholeness by balancing the mind, body, and spirit.

After earning a Business Administration degree from Stephens College, Ashley pursued a career as an Executive Risk Manager for a Fortune 500 company. However, when her child was born with a rare genetic disorder, she made the decision to shift her focus and become a full-time caregiver for her child. In her spare time, you’ll find her hiking, reading, dancing, and going to Broadway musicals. She is married and has two children. 

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
I was a swimsuit model as a teenager for a single runway. I swam in a competitive league all year long. I was at swim practice when an agent asked to speak to me and invited me to model competitive swimsuits. My face was probably beat red. My hair was in a cap, but I agreed. It was a lot of fun, but I was still super doper shy at that time.

Q.2 What inspired you to write the Life Force Saga series?
As a shy kid with some heavy thoughts and no voice due to selective mutism, I turned to writing as an outlet. I often wrote poetry, but in high school, I fell in love with creative writing. Then, in college, I took a children’s literature class where I was required to write a novella fictional story for my term paper. 

From that point on, I desired to write a book, but I always started and stopped letting life and responsibilities get in the way. While being furloughed in 2019, I decided this was my opportunity to pursue my dream. Ideas are always coming to me like fleeting thoughts. I started writing based on a vision that came to me and let it unfold as it came.

Q.3 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
Yes! I have a twisted challenge in my head to write in multiple genres that I am driven to pursue. I love fantasy, but I also want to write Romance, Paranormal Romance, Suspense, and Non-Fiction Self-Help or Memoir.

Q.4 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Is it fair to say I have no difficulties? Growing up, most of my friends were boys, and I struggled to relate to girls. Also, I didn’t talk much. I spent a lot of time observing people and attempting to predict their behaviors. Now, I am a Coach and Hypnotist. Both of these roles require me to understand people's behaviors and ways of thinking.

Q.5 Do you plan out your books before you start writing, or do you just write and see where it takes you?
A. The Birth Challenge
was a flow or pantser writing style based on a vision. I thought that I could complete the story in one book, but I am still trying to get to this one particular vision.

You cannot really call this an ‘outline,’ but when I started writing this book, I thought Sabina would be romantically interested in a different suitor than she is. This is part of the writing process, where the characters tell the authors what they want. I am just a messenger to their story.

Q.6 How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
It took me 9 months to write The Birth Challenge at 155,000+ words. Book 2 is a hot mess of stopping and starting again, working around circumstances. It is unclear how long it took me. But I’d say that I need a year for the whole process of writing and editing a book of this size and complexity.

Q.7 What’s your writing schedule while working?
When writing The Birth Challenge, I wrote based on a two-hour window of time, 4-5 days a week. On the second book in the series, A Marked Heart, I was under a deadline and wrote based on a word count goal for the day…or average for the week. I prefer to write in the morning as this is the most taxing mental energy. Then I shift to seeing my clients, and at night, if there is time and energy, I promote on social media.

Q.8 Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I love Coaching and Hypnosis. It's an odd relationship, comparable to exercise. I feel resistance towards it, but as soon as I am with my clients and helping them, I am in joy, and I’m grateful for these experiences. A future work vision for me is to be a Public Speaker.

Q.9 Do you try to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I must be me. I cannot write for others, or I will struggle to be something I am not. To me, this would create writer’s block and analyzing instead of writing from my heart. If you are like most people, you seek connection, and powerful, deep connections come from the heart. I am not trying to be ‘original’ either. Whenever possible, my desire when I write is to disappear and be a channel to receive.

Q.10 It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing. Tell us about your marketing campaign?
Skip…No, seriously, this was something I wasn’t prepared for in the journey of self-publishing. This is an area for me to improve and to find what works for me, not just what everyone else is doing.

My marketing campaign was getting 100 ARC readers in hopes of having some reviews. I think only 5-6 of those individuals wrote a review. I had paid advertising on Amazon. I spent $150, and I made one sell. I sent out twenty PR Boxes, and seven of those twenty made a video on TikTok to promote it. Leading up to my release, I averaged four video social media posts a day for 2.5 months across all social media platforms. 

I was on a few podcasts, and I spoke in three different Coaching programs. I hired a social media Marketer for one month to help release content. I also did a few TikTok Live interviews and partnered with a few authors, where we promoted each other books. To summarize, I spent a lot of money for very little returns.

I decided to scrape it all. I am going with the theory of writing more books and letting word of mouth support my growth. I would like to be on more podcasts and TikTok live interviews. They are fun!

Q.11 If you could be a member of any fantasy race, which would you choose and why?
I do have a fascination with vampires, but I do not want to be them. I’d rather be an elf. They are beautiful spirits in harmony with nature and possess magical abilities. They are doing good in the world and have ancient wisdom from living for eternity.

Q.12 If you could invite one character to dinner from your book, who would it be and why?
A. Fabia
. I love you girl! Tell me what it is and what I am not seeing. You remind me not to shrink down under the pressure of following everyone’s rules and to make my own path. You know how to have fun. You ask for and claim what you want. And you look fear in its face and challenge it with a playful attitude. You unapologetically seek and enjoy your mmmh pleasure.

Q.13 What three things can a reader expect from your book?
Connection, Intrigue, and Wisdom.

Q.14 Among all the supporting characters in your book, who is dear to you and why?
A. Nana Honey
. I am most like her. She is supportive and challenging. She is wise and yet has the humility of learning her life lessons. She doesn’t tolerate BS stories, and she trusts her intuition.

Q.15 Who designed your book cover? How do you select them?
Covers By Christian. I followed a few other self-published authors and checked out who they used. I was new and didn’t know who to hire. I had contacted a cover designer whose work spoke to me. I loved their style, but they never got back to me. 

Of all the cover designers I contacted, Christian solely focused on this as his profession. He communicated solid facts, he had lots of examples of his work, he was willing to explain the process to me, he was responsive, and he was willing to work with my design.

Q.16 How do you select the names of your characters?
They came to me. It was as if they introduced me to them.

Q.17 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
I do. I am a Coach who works on managing thoughts for a living, so that helps out a lot. I respect that each person’s perspectives come from their unique experiences, and whatever they write has very little to do with me. I look at the reviews for marketing ideas as well as ways to improve. 

For example, Books Charming mentioned it would be nice to have a list of characters in the book. I had originally considered this option but thought it was an outdated concept. However, upon your review, I added it. In addition to marketing and improving, I love seeing if a specific character speaks to my reader, and I am just a curious person.

Q.18 If your book would ever make it into a movie, then whom would you like to play the role of Sabina and Flann?
Now that I know about Outlander and Jamie Frasier …yes, please. But seriously, I would like to see an unheard-of actor and actress get these roles. Someone no one knows, and it be a break-out role for them, just like me, a self-published author getting a movie deal. Now, ask me about MarigoldLucy Liu, would you please do me the honor of playing Marigold? And my husband envisioned Jeff Bridges playing Brom.

Q.19 Are there any new books or authors in science fiction or fantasy (or both!) you are excited about? What are you reading right now?
When I am writing fantasy, I don’t like to read other people’s work because I do not want to be influenced. The fact is the subconscious will pick up on anything I am reading, and that will show up in my work. I still read a ton, but while I write, I focus on my subconscious reprogramming books or reading books that will support me as a coach.

I am in the middle of reading a few books. Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz. This is a super slow read for me because it is dense material to sort through. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl is a devasting recount of living and surviving the Holocaust. How to Spot a Liar by Gregory Hartley is a book about how an Interrogator for the US Army uses NLP techniques to access information from the person being interrogated. Lastly, I am reading The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda. This is a book about walking and living a Shaman’s spiritual path.

Outside of non-fiction, I was a big fan of SJM, Holly Black, Laurell K. Hamilton, CJ Redwine, and Brandon Sanderson, but now I want to read what other brave souls who took a chance on themselves wrote. I want to read Wandering Souls by Angela Van Liempt, The Fall of Ahlon by Samantha Shaye, or A Legacy of Storms and Starlight by Victoria J. Price.

Q.20 Share the experience of your writing journey so far?
I love to write. It is a form of self-expression and a way to connect and disconnect at the same time. When I let go of self-judgment or fear of …is this good enough, will I ever make my money back, will I offend someone, etc., then I am in a world of imagination and possibilities.

When I write, I write scene by scene, chapter by chapter. I find that when I skip ahead and write a chapter based on something that has come to me, I have to re-write. Now, if an idea comes to me, I jot it down and retrieve it when I am at that scene. If a character’s line comes to me, I often leave myself a voicemail or text, depending on the length of what is said.

Everything is intuitively based for me. For example, I had so many things to tie up when I finished A Marked Heart. I had a week left till my final deadline. I remember telling my mom one morning I didn’t know how I was going to wrap everything up in one week and keep my word count down. That same morning, I wrote what came to me, and as I finished, I realized I was done.

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