Authors AMA: Inside an Indie Author's life.

Ashlie Harris
Jan 12, 2018

Greetings All.

I am the author of The Witches of Andar, my debut fantasy/magic novella. I don't have an abundant amount of experience, but I've been learning quickly and succeeding in my goals. Ask me anything- from how I wrote my book in only 7 months to how to break through the thick veil of indie authors trying to make it in this business (spoiler alert: Don't give up!). I'm all about supporting my fellow authors and will gladly show you the amazing resources which have made my (semi-minor) successes possible. Thank you all for your support and interest in my work!

Find me here:

PLEASE SUPPORT MY THUNDERCLAP CAMPAIGN! Thunderclap: bit.ly/TheWitchesOfAndarThunderclap

Facebook: bit.ly/AshlieHarrisFacebook

Twitter: bit.ly/EmpathUtopiast

Youtube: bit.ly/TWOAonYouTube

Amazon: bit.ly/AshlieHarrisAuthorProfile

Gmail: bit.ly/AshlieHarrisGooglePlus

Goodreads: bit.ly/AshlieHarrisOnGoodreads

Ashlie Harris says:

This AMA will end Jan 14, 2018 8PM EST

Comments are locked

Conversation (58)

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Witches of Andar is such an amazing story! How did you come up with your character's? What is one crazy thing that you do while writing to keep your mind focused?

Last edited @ Jan 13, 2:38PM EST.
Jan 13, 2:37PM EST0

Malinda and Alice are actually the names of my 3x great-grandmother and my 2x great-grandmother. They were quite extraordinary and I fell in love with their lives while researching my ancestry. Sadly, they didn't get the recognition they so deserved in their lives. I decided to use the names Alice and Malinda to honor them and give them new life. I just hope I do them justice. Justine is a mixture of my personality and my daughter's quirks and mannerisms. Her name doesn't have a source, but, as we will find out in book 2... is it even her real name???

Something "crazy" I do while writing? I guess most people wouldn't expect this, but I like to listen to heavy/death metal music while I write. It drowns out the real world. 

Jan 13, 4:19PM EST0
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What has your experience been like as an Indie Author?

Jan 13, 2:14AM EST0

Mostly, my experience has been positive.  I have made a ton of new friends and found many kindred spirits along the way. While there are a LOT of frustrations to deal with, I've found having a great support system and networking while maintaining a true, genuine character,  are tantamount to an Indie author's success. 

Jan 13, 2:36AM EST0

Hello there! The witches Of andar has been a lovely read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was wondering if you had any book tours or signings coming up? Also any news on a sequel? 

Jan 12, 11:27PM EST1

Thank you!!! I'm glad you liked it, Ealon! I'm definitely going to be putting out a sequel and hope to actually make it into a decent-sized series. No book tours or signings in the works yet, but I will be featured in the Waterloo, IL local newspaper, which I'm very excited about!

Jan 12, 11:30PM EST0
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For those who are interested, ALL of my books are currently on sale for only .99 on Amazon!

Last edited @ Jan 12, 10:44PM EST.
Jan 12, 10:39PM EST1

Do you have plans of doing a series for The Witches of Andar?

Jan 12, 10:30PM EST1

Yes! I'm currently working on Book 2, which will be released later this year. I hope to continue telling the stories of Malinda, Alice, and Justine for as long as I can. I'd like to put out at least one new book in the series each year.

Jan 12, 10:33PM EST0

What is your best marketing strategy to help you with being discovered by new readers?

Jan 12, 9:34PM EST1

Marketing is such a tricky field, especially for new indie authors. When it comes to images (and they are very important), you'll want to make sure you're using ones in the public domain only or ones to which you own the copyright. Some great sites to find such images are Pixabay.com and Unsplash.com. I create all of my own images, and you may want to consider doing this, as well, if you're on a tight budget. Sometimes, though, it is best to defer to a professional if you're just not getting it. 

It's also very important to utilize every platform available and seek out ones which are relevant to your genre. Be active, but genuine. Be yourself and don't be afraid to talk to someone new. It's taken me a long time to break out of my shell, but I'm so glad I did! 

Last edited @ Jan 13, 7:05PM EST.
Jan 12, 9:51PM EST0
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Feel free to ask me any question you'd like! I'll be around all weekend and will be monitoring this interview consistently, so you should receive an answer within a few minutes. I look forward to 'meeting' you all!

Jan 12, 8:50PM EST0

What have you put most of your effort into regarding writing?

Jan 12, 6:18PM EST1

Most of my effort goes to building the world and developing the characters. Once those are in place, the story tends to unfold all by itself. I put a lot of effort into building the world of Andar. In book 2, there will even be a map and, depending on demand, a glossary of all the world-specific words and creatures. All the aspects and angles of my stories are researched exhaustively. Once I have the knowledge I need to create my world, the most amount of time is spent there and on creating each character's FULL description. 

Last edited @ Jan 13, 7:07PM EST.
Jan 12, 7:25PM EST0

How do you balance writing and family/personal life?

Jan 12, 4:19PM EST1

I try to get my family as excited about reading as I am. Books were a fundamental part of my life and I make sure to expose my friends, family, and especially my kids to them as often as possible. They all know how important writing is to me. I've had this passion every day for as long as I can remember. I am blessed to be surrounded by people who are so supportive and understanding. My husband encourages me to follow my dreams and makes it possible for me to have what I need to do so. My children know, also, and they all get so excited each time some new development happens. We're in this together.

To balance it all, there's only one thing to do. Multi-task. I'm never doing just one thing. If I'm washing laundry, I'm also cooking dinner, planning Hubby's lunch for the next day and taking mental notes on what needs to be accomplished with my own work. Sometimes my mind feels like a merry-go-round that's spinning way too fast, but that's when I stop myself. I look at my kids and all I've accomplished already. I meditate and count my blessings. Then, I re-prioritize my multi-tasking, and the cycle repeats. But, I know I couldn't do half of what I do without the support of every single person who believes in and encourages me. 

Last edited @ Jan 12, 6:07PM EST.
Jan 12, 6:01PM EST0
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How do you stay inspired to maintain your creative vibe?

Jan 12, 10:38AM EST1

I have so much energy and so many ideas, I'm always looking for the next outlet. How can I express myself today? I love finding new ways to create things and experimenting with different techniques. My biggest source of inspiration is my friends and all the beauty they've gifted to the world. When you create something, you're putting a bit of your own self and soul into it. You're able to give a piece of yourself to the world. It's just another way to keep spreading the love!

Last edited @ Jan 12, 3:23PM EST.
Jan 12, 3:17PM EST0

In those seven months of writing the whole novel, what was your typical day like?

Jan 12, 9:14AM EST1

Crazy. Hectic. And, oh! yeah! Insane. 

In all seriousness, my days are typically all the same, except for weekends when my husband is home all day. I'm a stay-at-home mom and I homeschool my four children, so our mornings are full of lessons. In the afternoon, it's free learning time. They're able to choose their subject and activity and I work (I have a job, also). Late afternoon is free-play and clean-up time. Then dinner, baths, and bed by 8pm (more like 9 or 10 before they're actually asleep though). After getting the kids to bed, I make sure my husband is settled and doesn't need anything. Then, and only then, do I write. It's the only way I can get into my own head enough to find the story the way it's meant to be. I need quiet. No distractions. Which means, I only get about 2-5 hours of sleep every night, but it's SO worth it!

Last edited @ Jan 12, 3:11PM EST.
Jan 12, 3:10PM EST0
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Can you share to us what you have written that won you the school's Young Author award? And how was the whole experience?

Jan 12, 8:52AM EST1

I love it when I get this question! That was such an eye-opening experience and a very fun time for me. I'd only entered because I loved writing. I didn't expect to win. I was no scholar and was sure someone else would be chosen. To this day, I wonder if the only reason I won was because of what my story was about. 

I'm showing my age here, but, when I was in 6th grade, Bill Clinton was running for President of the US. The Young Authors competition fell around the same dates as the election and my mother was very politically minded, so I was constantly exposed to it. I saw how important it was to her and knew that other adults felt the same way. That's when I got the idea for my story. I titled it, 'Lily's Election Day', and wrote about a young girl who wasn't popular but ran for class president anyway and ended up winning. It was very short, only a few pages, and probably not that well-written, in hindsight. When I won, it was the first time I'd ever been recognized for something I'd worked hard for. I was astounded people had read my words and liked them! The experience was amazing. I went with my mom to another school where they were holding an award ceremony. I got to actually accept an award on stage and everything! The ceremony was beautiful and everyone got so dressed up, it really felt like a red carpet event! 

Last edited @ Jan 12, 3:26PM EST.
Jan 12, 3:02PM EST0
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Why do you think fantasy novels appeal to readers?

Jan 12, 5:26AM EST1

I think fantasy novels are appealing to everyone! Some would just prefer they be made into movies. We all desire a way to escape the norm and the mundane realities of our lives. Whether it's binge-watching Netflix, doing Cosplay, going to sporting events, racing... whatever your passion may be, it helps you to escape, if only for a little while, from the chaos and stresses of life.

Fantasy books are the same. They provide a beautiful landscape for a mental vacation. With fantasy (and all books) you don't have to pay an inordinate amount of money or be in top physical condition to take advantage of the incredible opportunity books provide. 

Last edited @ Jan 12, 10:10PM EST.
Jan 12, 2:32PM EST0
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As a published author, what would you like to accomplish in the next 3-5 years?

Jan 12, 5:12AM EST1

That's a tough question, and, to be completely honest, I'm really not sure of the answer. I just hope to keep writing as well and as often as I'm able. As a child, I read to escape into a new world... a different life, in which anything was possible and nothing was like my reality. If I hope to accomplish anything as a published author, it's that my stories touch at least one person. If I am able to reach someone the way Anne of Green Gables or the Clan of the Cave Bear books reached me, then I will be satisfied with my work.

I've wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember. If I hope to accomplish something tangible, it would be just enough success to make my family proud. For those who have believed in me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams, I would love to be able to show I was able to live up to the potential they saw in me. In short, I hope all of my accomplishments will honor my family, friends, and fans.

Last edited @ Jan 12, 2:24PM EST.
Jan 12, 2:18PM EST0

Does your writing require research?

Jan 11, 7:40PM EST1

Oh, so much research!! Every word I've "created" is derived from languages that actually exist. They're mostly Latin terms, which I've changed up a bit, but you'll also find some Portuguese, Spanish and Italian, I believe. There may even be one or two more I'm not recalling right now. In the text about the castle, I had to do some pretty extensive research on the parts of a castle and what terms were used to describe which parts in which century (the terminology changed quite often in some parts of the world). I had to research royal lineages, the differences between elemental, nature, and earth magic, what plants in our world were said to have what properties, how a theater group might behave under pressure, and oh! so many other things! The most important thing I did, though, was looked up the original title: The Rebels of Andar. I'm glad I did (and everyone should) because I had no idea there was an Andar, Afghanistan and many articles were written about rebels there. The Witches of Andar is a much more suitable title anyway. :)

Last edited @ Jan 12, 1:11AM EST.
Jan 11, 8:43PM EST0

When you need a break from writing and being a mom, what do you do?

Jan 11, 3:58PM EST1

Hi, Xulian. That's an interesting question. I do have other hobbies. :) I am sitting next to 10 pounds of air-dry clay right now, which I use to make creations for my Etsy shop (opening soon!). I also like to paint and experiment in the kitchen. No matter the outlet, I try to find a way to stay creative, as often as possible.

Jan 11, 4:38PM EST0

What is your advice to Indie Authors? How about on writing?

Jan 11, 10:54AM EST1

My biggest piece of advice to any Indie writer, in any genre, is to Write! I know, I know... that's an extremely overused and simplified piece of advice. But, that's because it WORKS. You don't have to write something original. Write what you had for breakfast, read an interesting article and write it down... maybe embellish it with some of your own flair. Just putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) is enough stimulation to get your "writing genes" in gear. 

If you are referring to how an Indie Author can be successful in this industry, the answer is quite simple. 1. Have talent and faith in that talent (without being arrogant) and 2. SUPPORT your fellow Indie Authors! It's not only a smart marketing move, it's just the right thing to do. Good things will happen to those who are selfless. <3

Last edited @ Jan 12, 1:12AM EST.
Jan 11, 2:11PM EST0
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Can you give us a brief story on how you came up with The Witches of Andar? Where did the idea come from?

Jan 11, 8:47AM EST1

Hi, Michelle! I'd love to tell you about The Witches! I'd been wanting to write Justine, Malinda and Alice's stories for quite some time. Malinda and Alice are based on real ancestors of mine that have proven to have quite an interesting story (Malinda lived to be over 114!). I knew they'd had an adventurous life and wanted to give them a fresh landscape, so they could live on. Justine is my own creation. She is the embodiment of a girl-to-woman character and her spirit, ambitions, and skills will take her places she never dreamed! Sadly, I was never very good at the organization aspect of writing. I had no idea how to structure the story. Then, I found Perfect 10 Plots. Their products were an absolute lifesaver. I had all these stories I wanted to tell but was stuck. Perfect 10 provided a clear path to completing my book. I found a great plot outline that fit in well with my story, and used it as a road map to the finish line!

Last edited @ Jan 15, 3:45AM EST.
Jan 11, 2:15PM EST0

What are your goals as a writer?

Jan 11, 6:55AM EST1

My biggest goal is just to write as well as I can. I want to share my stories with the world. I love them, and can only hope that others will enjoy my tales. Do I want fame? Not especially. I wouldn't mind my books having a bit, though. ;)

Jan 11, 2:16PM EST0

Who is your greatest mentor? Why so?

Jan 11, 6:37AM EST1

That's a tough one. There are so many people I could say here. My actual mentor, from grade school, Angela Surber Lysacowski. My boss, Steve Chon. My grandmother and living guardian angel. My mother, in all her wisdom and experience. But, if I can choose only one, I'd say, my father, may he rest in peace. His love for the written word and passion for life- despite the way he lived his, he had boundless passion- has been the fuel for my fire and drive to follow my dreams. Thanks, Daddy. <3 And, thank you, Ashiqur, for giving me the opportunity to recognize all I've been given. <3

Jan 11, 2:20PM EST0
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