Interview with Ashley Howland author of Ghostnapped and Obi the Super Puppy and the Mystery of the Red Mist.
Why are you taking part in the author blog challenge and what do you hope to achieve?
I am currently trying to market my two children’s novels and when I heard about the blog challenge I thought that might be a fun and effective way to promote my books. I am also looking forward to reading other author’s blogs and learning more about writing and marketing.
How long have you been writing for?
I have always enjoyed writing and actually still have the stories I wrote while at school. I never used to let anyone read my writing, much to my husband’s disgust. So I did a writing course and that really encouraged me to complete my stories and now I am comfortable having lots of people (especially children) reading my books. When I was teaching I used to write stories with my classes and we had lots of fun doing that.
What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book?
I used to think the editing, but now I would say the marketing!!! Although the editing is still quite a challenge. It is so hard to read your own work over and over and over again to ensure it is word perfectly. It’s quite satisfying to come back later and read your own stories and realize that they actually are pretty good.
The marketing is all new to me and I’m still trying to get my head around what will actually work to sell more copies of my books. Hopefully I will pick up some tips during this challenge.
What genre do you generally write?
I write children’s novels and beginning novels. I love the excitement children get when they learn to read and how the world opens up for them. It’s great to think my stories can play a part in their imagination and bring them laughter. I have been told that my first novel Ghostnapped is quite scary, but the boys did say it was a good kind of scary, they actually admitted to not wanting to put my book down. That made me feel pretty great. My second story Obi the Super Puppy and the Mystery of the Red Mist is a little less scary, but all the children who have read it say they loved Obi and laughed a lot.
Do you have a favourite author and why?
My favourite author was and will always be Roald Dahl. As a kid I loved his books and read them so many times. Now as an adult I get the joy of reading these books to my own children. They love The Twits! He really was an amazing talent and his books still make me laugh.
I enjoy reading a large variety of authors and styles of writing, but there really is something quite magical about great children’s authors.
What is your book called and how did you choose this title?
I have had two books published, the first is Ghostnapped! This title seemed to jump out at me as it is about a young girl who discovers her brother has been taken by a ghost and she has to get him back. The name just seemed to work and I still love it.
My second book is Obi the Super Puppy and the Mystery of the Red Mist. This is the story of my beautiful Labrador – Obi; he relives his first adventure with my two daughters. The title fits the story and is a great introduction to a series of adventures centering on Obi.
Get ready for a ghastly, ghost-hunting mystery that will chill the very marrow in your bones! Ashley Howland makes her debut with a sensational spectral adventure that will ‘fright and delight’ kids and teens everywhere.
Ten-year-old Alex loves to explore, but when her younger brother is mysteriously ghostnapped on their camping trip at the beach, it is up to Alex and her trusty Labrador, Thuds, to investigate her brother’s sudden disappearance.
As she surveys the grassy hills and dangerous rocky cliffs near their camp, Alex uncovers a hidden secret to other disappearances that occurred at the very same campsite – over 50 years ago!
A chilling mystery that can only be solved by Alex, Thuds, and a ghost girl named Susan, Ghostnapped! Explores mysteries of the past, present and beyond the grave.
Everyone thinks their dog is the smartest one around. But Obi really is! Obi the Super Puppy and the Mystery of the Red Mist tells the story of one amazing dog.
Obi, a beautiful yellow Labrador, loves adventure, helping people and solving mysteries. He also loves reliving his past adventures with author Ashley Howland’s kids, Maddy and Aijay. Obi the Super Puppy is the exciting story of Obi’s first adventure, where he encounters a mysterious, evil red mist. Whenever the mist appears, it is able to control animals and toys.
Who is behind the evil red mist? Can Obi and his friends save the day before it’s too late? Join the kids as they listen to Obi’s story and are amazed at how their faithful friend became a real super puppy! If you love dogs, you will love Obi the Super Puppy.
Has your book been published and how did you go about this?
Both of my books were published by the Strategic Book Group. I was fortunate enough to have them accept both of my manuscripts. I originally found an online agent, who took the manuscript for Ghostnapped. They referred me to Strategic, who they have worked with before and I was accepted. The second time I was able to submit my book directly to Strategic. Hopefully there will be many more!
Approximately how long did it take you to finish your book?
Ghostnapped was originally started on a camping trip in 2005. It was written as an assignment for my writing course. After an assessment and lots of editing it was finally published in 2009. I am still very proud of getting this one published. I an even more satisfied with getting Obi published, because it really means that Ghostnapped wasn’t a fluke. Obi was originally a short story that just kept growing. It was started in 2008 after my second child was born and finally published last year. I am currently working on the sequel, which will take a while.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Never give up. Everyone suffers rejection, everyone thinks it can’t be done, but if you are truly determined then you can do it. It takes a lot of patience and in the mean time just keep writing and reading. The more you read and the more you write the better you will become and an author.
Do you use social media to promote your book; if yes then which social networks do you like the most?
I enjoy Twitter the most because it is so easy to share quick updates and to read what lots of other people are up to. Facebook is fun, because you can see the pictures and videos really well and I am getting more used to my blog, which was part of the reason I joined this challenge. All of my sites are connected, so at least when I update one it automatically appears on the others. It is certainly still a working process.
If you had to do it all over again what would you do differently?
I don’t really think I would do it differently, I am very happy to have had two books published so far and am learning more each day. I guess the only thing I wish I was better at is the marketing. However I have learnt a lot and am learning all the time, so one day I may actually work it all out.
What do you feel is the most important stage of writing a book?
The best stage is when you just get on a role and the words flow through the keyboard. That’s and amazing feeling. The most important phase, mmm not really sure if I can single out one. I would love to say the beginning, when an idea is just starting out, but my ideas seem to change so often during the actual writing phase. If I had to pick one I would say completing the first draft. Once you have and entire story down and it is ready for editing and rewriting then I would say that’s where I feel my stories come alive and I need to spend the most time on them.
How did you go about designing the cover for your book?
My publisher designed the covers to both of my books and I loved them instantly. For Obi the Super Puppy I supplied a photo that was taken my Ian Myers, a friend and photographer. I love how they incorporated that brilliant photo into the cover.
Are you writing or considering writing a follow-up to your book?
There will eventually be a series of Obi stories, I am currently writing the sequel and have endless material. Just need to find the time to get them all down.
Do you have a day job (if so, what do you do?) or do you write full-time?
I work for a not for profit organisation called Labs ‘n Life. I am the curriculum manager and an instructor. We work with at risk youth to train Labrador Retrievers as companion dogs for children on the autism spectrum. It is a highly rewarding job, I love being a part of such an amazing organisation. Every day we see our beautiful dogs change the lives of young people. I also get to take my two amazing dogs – Obi and Stitch to work with me and also have other Labradors that have become part of my family. My kids certainly think they are all part of our family!!!
Where is your book available to buy?
Ghostnapped is available at: http://www.strategicbookpublishing.com/Ghostnapped.html
Obi the Super Puppy and the Mystery of the Red Mist is available at: http://sbpra.com/AshleyHowland/
They can also be purchase from Amazon via my Facebook page.