Friday, March 9, 2012

March Author Series #6: The Birth of a Novelist by Ashlynne Layne

Many writers have been in love with the written word since we were old enough to understand them. Come see how Ashlynne Layne transformed from word lover to poet/songwriter to novelist. And, wouldn't you know it, she was inspired by dreams too! Read on and show her some love.

The Birth of a Novelist

I was eight years old when I placed third in an Optimist Oratorical Contest on Freedom in America. I accepted my shiny gold pin, read my award winning speech and marveled at how everyone hung on my every word. It was the first time I realized the power of my words.

A writer was born.

My rebellious teenage years were spent writing poetry as a sort of therapy. I dabbled in the occasional Danielle Steel novel, never realizing that I wasn’t exactly the target audience for that particular genre. This early exposure to such salacious material was the marked beginning of my love of romance novels.

I fell in and out of love, had a kid and went through many emotional changes in my twenties. The one constant was always my love of poetry and the written word. And although I lost my faith in true love, that didn’t stop me from writing about it. Some of my best love poetry actually occurred when my heart was at its most broken and fragile.

The promise and possibility of finding that one person that completes your heart spurred a fire, in me, to write about what I was almost certain didn’t exist. I took my love of writing a step further and appeared in several anthologies and poetic compilations. I loved that so much that I took to publishing a book of my original work under another pen name. While stretching my creative muscles, I ventured into songwriting. It was much like poetry set to music. Minding the rhythm and meter of music, and writing words to fit, presented an awesome challenge.

With the benefit of hindsight, I attribute my songwriting to grooming me for the task of taking an idea and characters and immersing them in a world that takes a shape of its own. Writers use their words, the varying of sentence structure and pacing to illicit emotions from readers.

So what—you might ask—possessed a poet/songwriter to consider writing a novel?

Several factors...

The Progeny wasn’t the first novel I ever wrote, even though it is my first release. My first novel had a good concept and characters but it was lacking in technique. I wrote two books of the series before I abandoned it for something else.

I’ve always loved vampires, witches and the horror genre. My next endeavor would encompass my two horror loves. With Stephen King as my favorite author, this shouldn’t be a shock.

Buy it HERE!
Fast forward six years from my songwriting. Now I’m in a better place. I’ve somehow pinned the elusive cupid down and convinced him to give me another shot at corralling love. He obliged and sent me my hubby, Mark. Now I’ve got the love thing down and honestly believe that it exists.
What’s next?

October, 6 2010 started like any other day. I woke up, went to work and came home. I was tired so I took a nap that day. This is where it gets interesting. I dreamed about a gorgeous guy. He had dark hair, the weirdest blue eyes and a strange necklace around his neck. When I woke up, I immediately began sketching that necklace. I’m no artist but I had to admit that what I came up with was interesting.
The pieces of my story line slowly gelled. I researched witches, witchcraft and the Salem witch trials the next day. When I slept the next night, I dreamed about him again but this time I dreamed his name—Ascher. Now that my guy had a name, he needed a love. I’ve always loved the name Shawnette. So I shortened it and made it Shauna.

October 8, 2010 was the day that literally changed my life. Surrounded by a stack of witch research, the vision of Ascher, Shauna’s name and sketches of a unique amulet, I decided to write a home for these two characters. I never considered myself patient enough to write a novel but the characters wouldn’t leave me alone.

I dreamed about them, thought about them and imagined different scenarios for them until my idea was 115,000 words. Shauna did the most changing during the process because I didn’t dream her in the beginning. Her physical appearance and origins evolved until she was exactly who Ascher needed.
 I was ecstatic when I finally dreamed them together because I knew that it was finally right.

I fell in love with their story and felt their pain. I laughed when they laughed and cried when Shauna cried. They became my babies. My husband and I often joke that we talk about them so much that they should occupy rooms in our home. Almost a year—to the date—that I started writing these characters, J.E. Taylor at Novel Concept Publishing accepted my manuscript and confirmed what I already knew. Like love, the right publisher is out there that will believe in your work and push you to be better.

There was something there in the pages of that Word document. She now believed as much as I did.

That was only the start of my journey. The first manuscript that she saw and what the reader actually reads is very different. I eventually added three chapters to my manuscript to explain Ascher’s existence and to deepen Ursula’s character.

In the end, I think The Progeny offers the reader a different view of vampires. Though I love vampires, I’ve been disappointed at how common their portrayals have become. I think it’s time the world experiences a new breed of vampire.

In closing, and in lieu of an excerpt, I’d like to leave you with my original poem from The Progeny. Books one and two both feature my poetry as the epilogue. I wrote this poem back in 2007—before I ever thought about writing a novel. My bestie tells me that this poem’s existence is proof that The Progeny was my destiny.

I tend to agree.

Blessed Eternity
Envelop me in the sweet darkness of your burning light
Spin me into a web of your eternal delight
Make me yours for all to see
Cover me in kisses sweet with sinful pleasure
Transform me so that I may be yours forever
Make me yours for all to see

I am not longed for the duties of this world
Nor do I wish to be just an ordinary girl
Make me yours for all to see
One day with you is worth a thousand forevers
If this is the only way for us to be together
My soul is a mere formality
Meet me when the shadows replace the light
In the sweet darkness of the eternal night
Give me blessed eternity

About Ashlynne:
Ashlynne Laynne has always had a soft spot in her heart for vampires but grew tired of the garlic fearing, sun loathing creatures of old. An avid horror movie fan, she tends to enjoy media and music that is of a younger, more eclectic nature. This was the catalyst for her writing The Progeny. The vampire/witch pairing is unique and different when most books pair vampires with werewolves.
The infinite possibilities, for such a wickedly unique couple, intrigued her. There is no shortage of romance, steam and surprises in The Progeny. These books are for adults and contain adult sensuality and themes, but minimal profanity. She loves writing on the edge and teetering between the erotica and romance genres. She thinks of Ascher and Shauna as the damned version of Romeo and Juliet.
She’s currently working on book two of the series entitled Blood Bonds. In her spare time, Ashlynne enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her family. Ashlynne juggles the hats of wife, mother, full time employee and part-time writer, hoping to write full time one day soon.
Ashlynne lives in North Carolina with her husband and teenage son.

Connect with Ashlynne
Twitter: @qlane


  1. Wow - this makes me want to follow my long-time dream of writing a novel...very inspiring post!!

    1. Go for it, Optimistic. I often wonder if I'd be writing the same type of work if I'd started in my early twenties. I seriously doubt it. At that age, I didn't have the rich life experiences and wisdom to write as I do now. Trust yourself and your talent and just commit to it! You'd be surprised what comes from your mind and heart. I've always had a rule that I follow. I write from my heart. I figure if I do this, I can't go wrong. Good luck and thanks for dropping by!

    2. Thank you so much and I look forward ot reading more of your work!

  2. I started out with poetry too. Got me through those adolescent and teenage years of angst. :) I definitely agree that being (a mite) older helps to make your writing more authentic. How can you accurately portray death, birth, kids, marriage, work, etc, if you haven't lived through some of that(or known someone who has)?

    And writing from your heart...absolutely! You can tell a book that's been written from the heart. You don't just read it. You feel it.

    Thanks for sharing, Ashlynne and for stopping in Optomist!

    1. I couldn't agree more. Thanks so much for hosting me. It was a lot of fun.

  3. Wonderful post, Ashlynne,

    You really have been on a journey. :) It's amazing what happens when you live long enough to be able to apply the wisdom of experience with the skill of writing. I love vampires. I never get tired of a well-written vampire story or a good werewolf story or...okay, I just have diverse interests when it comes to monsters. What a talented person you are! Poetry and song writing? Wow.
    And how fortunate you are to be able to do something you love for a living.

    I wish you continued success in your career.

    Laurel W.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping in, Raven. Yes it has been a journey but I wouldn't change any of it. I am the sum total of every experience in my life. I embrace it and use them to be stronger. I hope to one day write full time but I am so happy to be writing about what I love.

  4. Great post, Ashlynne. Very inspiring to all of us out there trying to get that first novel written. Thanks for sharing your story!

    1. Hey Rebecca,
      Thanks for dropping by. I found a quote two years ago that I keep at my desk at work, beside my desktop at home and beside my bed. I think it's from an anonymous source but it's been my inspiration. "The artist is nothing without the gift. The gift is nothing without the work." It reminds me everyday to push forward. You can have all the God given talent in the world but that talent has to be nurtured and exercised. :) So keep pushing and believing in yourself and surround yourself with positive energy and those who will feed your spirit. Good luck!

  5. Thanks for hosting me, Mysti. It was a lot of fun. I'd like to offer one of you who commented a free Kindle version of The Progeny. Send an email to with your name and the email address you'd like it sent to. I'll choose the winner tomorrow night at 6pm.

  6. It is, in my opinion, an uncommon theme - special I think, that a poet becomes a songwriter then a writer. I would shine a large light on any glorious creature who takes that road. I take it with you - nice to meet you!


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