Ashley Barron’s Blog

Original blog posts by author and blogger Ashley Barron.

Finding that Happy Ending

More and more, as a reader, I find myself searching for something new. This has less to do with branching out into genres I haven’t yet explored and more to do with wanting the old and familiar to suddenly feel fresh and inspired. More zip? More zing? Is that what’s missing for me? I don’t know. What I do know is that my voracious appetite for reading is slowing down. I’m not alone. There are many out there like me, people who would rather read than sleep. Are they changing, too? Maybe the underlying cause is that I like a story with a no-holds-barred happy ending. In fact, I prefer it. I consciously seek that state of bliss in everything I do, every choice I make in life. That hasn’t always worked out so well for me, I’d like to point out, because it involves taking a lot of risks. But fa...

Write A Better Book Through Meditation

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations   On my checklist of things to do in this life, meditation had always been in the “no time soon” category. Something about it seemed a bit suspect to me. As evidence, I offer you my original take on how it works: I’m supposed to breathe slowly and focus on the feeling of taking that breath, and then, suddenly, my mind will clear and my “inner self” will begin communicating the secrets of life, and the universe. Big things will happen. The earth will shift. I will suddenly stop being afraid of angry bees, etc. Right. But the joke’s on me. After years of poking fun at the concept of meditation, I finally tried it. My opportunity happened while I was on a book research trip, one in whic...

Storytelling Through Music

Yesterday evening, I attended a concert at Strathmore Hall Arts Center. Intermission was followed by a modern symphony making its world premiere performance for a concert band. As part of his introduction, the evening’s conductor, Lt. Col. Jason Fettig, said that the composer intended the piece to be a journey through the ups and downs of human emotions, and the challenges and joys of our connectedness, person to person. In other words, storytelling. From the moment I learned that the composer of American Symphony was in the audience, I couldn’t help but wonder what thoughts were going through his mind, what feelings were in his heart, as he sat in the audience, listening as his own creation came to life. I wondered if his family was there, by his side, awed by the realization that every n...

Writing Fiction: Historical vs. Contemporary Romance

Like many writers, I find my creativity fueled by reading the works of other novelists. I read every fiction genre, major or common, except horror (I’m not emotionally equipped for the utter darkness often presented in its pages), and I tend to be the type of consumer who purchases my stack of my weekly reading, one sub-genre at a time. Two weeks ago, for example, my stack was entirely paranormal romance. The week before that, it was Washington, D.C.-based thrillers. At the end of October, every book on my desk had the Civil War in common. This particular week, I’ve been devouring one historical romance after another. A side benefit of cluster-reading a specific sub-genre is that I am able to immerse myself more fully into the “universally accepted” elements that comprise said sub-genre. I...

TLC, Twitter, and (Very) Smart Marketing

Back in October, on the season premiere night of Long Island Medium, TLC decided to try a new marketing strategy, one involving Twitter.  A few days before the big event, I happened to catch the promos, and they advertised two things: –          a live commentary from Theresa Caputo during the premiere’s commercial breaks (it’s her show) –          a chance to win free readings from Theresa through a live Twitter contest being held during the show’s premiere. Thanks to the magic of DVR, I zip through a lot of the television programs I’ve recorded while logging miles on my treadmill, usually in the mornings. But for a real-time Twitter contest happening on national television, I was about to make an exception. Twitter is my darling. I am always keen on learning about new ways to...

NaNoWriMo and the Evolution of a Writer

Writing a book as part of the annual NaNoWriMo contest is a bit like dating in college: a day feels like a week, a week feels like a month. And a month, well, that’s practically forever. On November 1st, I started NaNoWriMo filled with excitement and curiosity. How would the book idea I’d been mulling over in my brain take shape on the page? I wondered. Is it really possible to complete a novel in 30 days? To commit to the full experience of NaNoWriMo during this, my first time at bat, I wrote no notes, collected no photographs, fleshed out no character outlines, and did no formal research beyond having a wonderful dinner with an expert in the field I am writing about. Even then, I simply listened all evening long, writing nothing down. I didn’t even choose names for the characters! But th...

Spanx Me, NaNoWriMo!

Forget “March Madness.” Instead, make it “March Marketing Madness.” As part of all this basketball craziness, I recently filled out my bracket for the family pool. I’m not doing well; I think even my sister-in-law’s grandmother is ahead of me. Still, there is value in participating in creative activities outside of one’s normal comfort zone, and staring at all those match-ups got me thinking about business. In “March Marketing Madness,” the sports teams are replaced by companies. The purpose of the competition is to pair them up with other businesses or organizations to develop a brand new marketing initiative that combines each one’s products and/or services. The only requirement is that the new marketing initiative both involves and benefits self-published and indie-published writers.  I...

The New Romance Aisle: Lover’s Lane at Lowe’s

Who says a trip to the hardware store can’t be romantic? Not me! Not any of my friends, either, as it turns out. Over the summer, couple after couple pointed out to me (in unrelated conversations) that once they had settled down, they spent far more time together going out to hardware stores than going out to restaurants. To a one, my friends joked that “date night” had evolved from stolen kisses and candle-lit dinners into Friday night trips to the hardware store, where they would spend hours with sales associates talking about plumbing questions, painting solutions, fencing, and other home-based projects in need of a joint decision in order to move forward. This new style “date night” got me thinking about ways in which a hardware store could increase the in-store romance factor for cust...

The Many Faces of a Writer

Last Sunday, I watched the “In Memoriam” segment of the Emmy’s telecast. Sitting quietly, watching as the faces of many actors and actresses whose work I’ve known faded in and out, I wondered how many of the characters they had played on-screen had resembled, in ways big or small, their own personalities? How many times had a story line reflected their real-life choices and experiences? During the montage, the face that stood out to me the most was Larry Hagman, who brilliantly played J. R. Ewing in both the original Dallas, and the reboot. Was he anything like that greedy, corrupt, unprincipled character that he seamlessly portrayed? According to every piece I’ve ever read about him, he was not. But there must have been something in him that understood J. R., the man; or, at least, someth...

Writing: The Importance of Word Choice in Translation

For those of you who are fans of Star Trek (or, like me, grew up with a brother who loved all things science fiction), have you ever fantasized about having communication tools like the ones Captain Kirk and his crew had? I have, and I find myself doing it all the more lately. Why? Social media. Daily, the Internet provides readers and writers with the opportunity to connect with new people involved in the book world, and to interact with speakers of many different languages. While I firmly believe that diversity of people, in every possible way, is one of the two greatest strengths the human race collectively possesses (the other is love), I do find diversity challenging when it comes to language. This is not because I can’t learn to speak another language; I can and do. The reason is bec...

A Writer’s Joy: Meeting a New Fan

Even as an adult I sometimes feel as if I am back in high school. Usually, this is a good feeling (I loved high school), if a little bit bizarre, considering that I’ve long since left my school days behind and moved into the working world. But, as I’ve come to understand, life is a series of overlapping cycles, of beginnings and endings, and what’s old is often new again. For example, deciding to write professionally, choosing Novelist as my new career category, was a decision that came upon me slowly. I loved my adventures in the business world and had planned a long and healthy future turning simple ideas into tangible products and services. As I suspect most of us have experienced, even the most carefully plotted plans have a tendency to be uprooted when stormy weather sets in. For me, ...

The Summer of Curveballs

It’s…September? I keep looking at the calendar to confirm that the summer is really over. I guess the gentle fall of the first leaves, the shorter days, and the perfect weather (by D.C. standards) should be proof enough, but neither my eyes nor my mind wants to believe it. Where did summer go? I ask myself as I sit at my desk, my fingers aching from a lack of keyboard exercise. The best analogy I can think of for the place in which I find myself is this: Have you ever carefully plotted a novel, analyzed the characters, the settings, the conflict and resolution, only to find, when your fingers hit the keys, that the characters had other ideas? And what had been a great idea for a new story had morphed – at lightning speed –  into something you had never considered as the right path to creat...

Skip to toolbar