By Ashley York (Guest Blogger)
My official path to publication started when I joined the local chapter of the RWA (Romance Writers of America). I had always wanted to be a writer but everyone knows that's sort of an obscure dream like being a singer or an artist. When I joined the RWA, I was in the process of completing an MA in History and was a Graduate Assistant to the History Dept. At the university level, you're surrounded by published academics which can be intimidating until you see they are regular people and then it's inspiring. The one advantage they have? They are driven and focused. They won't keep their job of progress in their field if they aren't published. I have to say that working alongside them, even just to verify footnotes, impressed upon me that there was a logical set of steps that must be taken to attain publication. By joining the RWA, attending workshops to hone my craft, and networking at conferences, I was beginning to learn what those steps were.
It was the spring of 2013 when I was learning the art of the query letter. It seemed odd to have to word a letter just so in order to get the recipient (an acquisition editor if you're lucky) to take a look at your work. A query letter requires nothing that good writing requires. I know some may argue that fact but writing fiction doesn't come close to what I was learning the publishing houses would need to spark an interest in my manuscript. I went along, though, taking the classes and fine tuning the letter that was going to somehow sell my Highlander romance, The Bruised Thistle.
I'd been working on the book for quite awhile, mixing in my love of all things Scottish with what I knew about the Crusades from a class I'd recently taken. Besides trying to write a good romance, my goal was really that war—then and now—leaves the same scars and moving beyond them can be a monumental task. Workshops on character development, story line, and the all important Black Moment were my all consuming passion. That was what I was doing when my sister, only two years older than I am, told me she was dying of cancer. She hadn't wanted anyone to know. She died on July 7th, 2013. To say I was devastated really doesn't quite express the loss of someone who had been so close through all those childhood memories, family upheavals, and trying to somehow escape (grow up) intact.
Within a day or two of her death, I started to remember a picture she'd given me for Christmas something like thirty years earlier. My sister was extremely intelligent and beautiful and naturally her latest hobby, photography, was gift worthy. I hadn't seen the picture since then and had no idea where I'd put it. In my memory it was a picture of a thistle. I was exhausted and overwrought and the picture being of a thistle made no sense. We were not big thistle lovers or anything. If you've ever lost anyone close, you know you go through a lot of emotions and a tired mind can make up things that aren't true. I knew I couldn't find the picture and if I was able to, it certainly wouldn't be of a thistle.
I went into my attic and just on my right, along with my junior high years book and my daughter's broken Sylvester rocking seat was the matted photo, signed and dated "9-82" in my sister's very distinctive handwriting. I cried over that for only as long as it took me to realize I couldn't play games with query letters. My book needed to be published now. I was driven to get it done. She was only two years older than me—twenty seven months! Trial and error, I found professional editors, cover artists, graphic designers and was able to publish The Bruised Thistle in December 2013. That's how my self-publishing career began.
And now here I am with a new release. My sixth! Curse of the Healer is book one in my new series, The Descendants of the High King.
After the death of Brian Boru in 1014, a legend arose of a healer so great she could raise a man from the dead, with a power so strong it could make any warrior the next high king of Éire...and to steal it away from her, he need only possess her.
Fated to be a healer…
Aednat has spent her entire life training to be the great healer, knowing she must remain alone. When she meets Diarmuid, the intense attraction she feels toward him shakes her resolve to believe in such a legend. If she gives in to the passion he ignites in her, can she settle for being less?
Destined to be his…
Diarmuid of Clonascra is renowned for his bravery in battle. Only one thing daunts him: the prospect of taking a wife. The safest course would be to keep his distance from Aednat, the bold, headstrong healer who's far too tempting for his peace of mind. But his overking orders him to protect her from a group of craven warriors intent on kidnapping her to steal her power.
What starts as duty for Diarmuid quickly transforms into something more. Aednat's power might be at risk, but so is his closed-off heart.
Buy Links for Curse of the Healer
Aside from two years spent in the wilds of the Colorado mountains, Ashley York is a proud life-long New Englander and a hardcore romantic. She has an MA in History which brings with it, through many years of research, a love for primary documents and the smell of musty old libraries. With her author's imagination, she likes to write about people who could have lived alongside those well-known giants from the past.
Connect with her online at:
Email: ashleyyork1066 [at] gmail [dot] com