And now, give it up for Ashley Latin and her interview with Terri Louise…….
1. Ashley….. I see from your Bio…. you are one busy lady. Tell me about yourself and your writing career.
Well, as a child, I was in foster care and that was very hard but I grew up very artistic….using art to express the things that I couldn’t verbally. I wrote stories about my life, how I felt and drew cover art and stapled it together like a book at ten years old….but even then I couldn’t imagine that I was going to make a career of it. I just wanted to share the inner me so that people would actually understand.
By 18, I was a young mother and still didn’t have a permenent home of my own….so while taking care of an infant and keeping a day job, I wrote and finished my first novel. It was really good and I knew in my heart that it had the qualities to be published but living in Las Vegas, where everything is about gambling and the fast life and not culture or arts, there were no legit publishing companies that I could shop to and sending out query letters and manuscripts without a literary agent just seemed futile. I got it in my head at a young age that if I learned the business that I could publish myself and keep the control, earnings, and best intrest of my book without sacrificing it all on top of waiting years to be accepted by a company. I had just finished high school so at that point I sort of dove into and completed several years of internships and I’m still learning something new every day in the technology age. By the time I was 24, I had secured a distribution deal and you can now find my book on Amazon.com and my favorite…Barnes N Noble.com.
Along the way, I took my love of drawing into the digital and learned how to become a graphic designer…so I was able to create all of my own advertisments and that saved me a lot of money. I got good enough to start my own graphics and videography company and the customers starting coming in…some of them celebrities as well. But no matter what, I am always writing and blogging and teaching what I know through reading and learning. There will be more books in the future too, all different topics….I don’t want to get stuck in one genre because I’m multi-dimensional.
2. Your book sounds really fun. What is it about?
“That Fire in Their Eyes” is my depiction of a powerful couple that had a painful past and found eachother and were truly meant to be together. Early in their relationship, they go through losing friends and turmoil from an ex and have to remain strong even with all of the negativity trying to pull them apart. The female lead charector Vanessa is a sweethearted professional ballet dancer that has her own dance company and the male lead Robert is a successful realtor that is constantly reminiscing on the college days when he was the lead singer in a band. He wants to sing again but got lost in the family life and stuck in the business world. When he meets Vanessa she encourages him to go for it and they join forces, rising on the popularity ladder quickly in Las Vegas. Throughout the book, they are tested and provoked by vengeful people but the passion for what they do and determination to be succesful despite it all keeps them going. The charectors are lovable, kind and make the readers hate what’s being done to them and triumph when they enact bravery. It’s a real, down to earth and relatable story because most people have been in both positions, having to defend who they love and making a life altering choice for their future. The outcome is a gamble….but that’s what Las Vegas is really all about…taking chances despite the risk…and it applies to love as well.
3. It’s harvest time allll over the country. What is your favorite harvest food? Cold weather comfort food?
Fall happens to be my favorite time of year since I’m a Libra….and coming from Oregon we had all four seasons. We got to see the color of the trees changing and making leaf piles to jump in was my favorite. In Vegas I embrace it even more although people are still swimming in the pools by Halloween. I love any kind of holiday foods like pumpkin and Egg Nog….any time I go to Starbucks I get the Pumpkin Spice latte and add extra cinnamon just to get the smell of the season. I love soup when it’s cold…it seems to go so well with a good movie and warm, fuzzy socks.
4. Use your creative license here. This one is for fun… Where do you hide your chocolate?
I just happen to have a secret lair in my basement that no one except a few choice friends know about. When you go down the stairs it’s completely dark except for a dim red light and you can smell the hint of a cigar. Once you get down the stairs you realize that the area is entirely much bigger than the meager house above it….it’s like an underground palace. There are servants who greet you with a tray of chocolate hors de’ vors and a flute of champagne. Without even realizing it, you’ve just been invited to the smoothest, chillest, lounge ever…there’s even a DJ spinning all of Atjazz’s hits. As you get over the shock and begin to fall in motion, you notice some of the people you know talking at the bar and another group playing chess in the corner. Blending in, you begin conversations with others…until you hear a big splash. To your amazement there is an olympian sized pool filled with a dark liquid like milk chocolate…and every one is in it drinking chocolate martinis and having a blast. You don’t waste any time and jump in yourself after stripping down to your skivvies, exposing your very nicely toned body. Every one swims around you laughing, beautiful men and women and you laugh too as you glide through chocolate flavored water. After a while, when your muscles get tired you decide to get out of the pool and dry off. It’s probably late….and you have to get to work after you pay your light bill. You tell your friends goodbye and they get a funny look on their face…,”What do you mean your leaving?” A lady said bewildered. “Uhhh….I’ll come back….believe me, I’m having so much fun….but I have responsibilities and I can’t lose my job.” A man closer to you than you thought laughed loudly and said, “You don’t leave here…..we never do. Why would you WANT to?” You start to feel uneasy and get dressed quickly. As your doing so you see that I am staring at you from across the room as I calmly puff a chocolate flavored cigar. You didn’t even know that I was there….and now everything was starting to make sense….why I never seemed to work a regular job like every one else….why I slept in the day and loved being out at night. It wasn’t a coincidence that you were there and that I had invited you….we had been friends for a long time and you had started questioning my recently strange behavior. Now that you were putting the pieces together, you realize that your starting to feel very weak…until you can barely take a step forward. Looking down at your hands, you scream when you realize that they are dark brown and smell sweet….like chocolate. Your arms are the same and feel really heavy. You lick your lips because your thirsty and taste chocolate….horrified to now understand that you have become a chocolate being…..possibly not even human anymore. Your day job and the light bill slowly fade from your mind….all you can think of now is the smooth jazz music playing and how it sounds so wonderful. You sway to the beat and by the time you can feel your strentgth coming back, all you want to do is dance. That other life is gone….we’re all having fun and chilling out. You pass me sitting on a lounge chair reading a book and smile, coming to sit next to me. “Ashley….I feel so good….I never want to leave.”
“I know…” I say, putting down my book. “Hey, you remember your buddies from California…didn’t they say that they were coming into town this weekend?”
When you tell me yes, I hand you my phone, “Call them up…tell them I’ll pick them up from the airport.” You brighten up as you take it and dial the number, “Oh my gosh…I sure will….they’ll love it here……forever……….”
5. What book are you working on and what can we expect next?
Well I’ve always been a big mystery lover, even before I wrote my first novel, which does contain a bit of mystery in the plot but I think the next novel will venture further into mystery and be a spicy concoction of sexy charectors who have deep rooted issues to solve. I’m slowly piecing the story together but in the meantime, I write articles of interest in the topics of self help, politics, love and relationships and I’m always blogging on facebook. My friends there are true supporters and fans of my written works. Other than that, I plan on delving futher into videography and turning my books and ideas into movies and documentaries. I have all of the cameras and technology…so the sky is the limit. While I love books, I know that there is a part of society that doesn’t have the time to read but still need to get and want to get the messages.
6. Now Ashley, I found you on Google and on one of the posts there is a picture of YOU with Joe Jackson. HOW did that come about? And what activity were you at for such an amazing photograph?
Yes…..that was a truly amazing moment that I will cherish for a lifetime…especially considering how upset I was when Michael Jackson passed. While I love his music, Michael was a hero to me based on his works as a humanitarian…..and he will always be missed. I met Joe Jackson at the BMA Awards show in Las Vegas as he came to accept a lifetime achievement award on behalf of Michael and show support to my best friend and partner, singer and producer Stone Paxton, who was winning the Icon of Music award for all of his work in Las Vegas throughout the years. We sat with Joe at a VIP table and seeing into his life was crazy….he had people walking up snapping pictures all the time and begging for autographs. He was a patient man, he signed many and took lots of pictures with people although he was tired and ready to leave. We all went out to eat afterwards and everyone was curious about what I do…so I got to talk about my book and love of writing, also my other creative abilities in graphics and video advertising. It was so inspiring to tell Joe about how I had decided to self publish because I didn’t have the money or connections to get accepted by a real publishing company at such a young age, so I worked hard and saved up and learned the business and was able to do it all myself. He could relate to that because that is exactly how he got started himself and brought the kids into a new life while doing their dreams. To not only meet him, but to spend an evening on the red carpet, at the awards show, then eating and talking, was one of the best moments in my life because I realized that my humble attitude, intelligence, talent and potential for greatness is what got me there….and it was all because I had always been true to myself and my gift…never stopping because of life’s struggles.
7. I know you have moved about a lot in your life….. but what ONE memory do you hold onto during your growing up that was a GREAT Halloween experience? (Mine was trick or treating every year)
Well, the one good thing about foster care is that during the holidays there was always fun events that the non profits would put together….my favorite is when we went to the pumpkin patch and got to pick our own pumpkin. Oregon prides itself on raising some of the hugest pumpkins for contests so I walked through a pretty interesting patch and plucked one that I could barely carry. The bigger they get the more oddly shaped some of them become so when it started to get dark I got scared and wanted to leave. Something eerie about the abnormal pumpkins and being in a field at night freaked me out like they were going to come alive. As the bus pulled off my overactive imagination made me feel like I had just got out of there in the nick of time and I breathed a sigh of relief. When we got back they gave us knives and we carved the pumpkins and baked the seeds….then I wasn’t so scared anymore because they were all just harmless mush….hahahaaa….being a child was so much fun.
8. What was your favorite scene in your book? And your favorite Character?
My favorite scene in the book was when my main charectors Robert and Vanessa had driven a ways out of town to Mt. Charleston….where there was a ski lodge and lots of snow. Their love was budding and the deep attraction was just being introduced in that chapter. The cool thing about my novel is that I narrated both charectors in seperate chapters….so you got to read and see how they felt about the same event. The two sipped hot totties and played in the snow, throwing snow balls at each other, running and laughing. They were so innocent and needing of the other’s love and attention that you felt happy when they found eachother…because it was like placing the last piece of a puzzle together. Any one that’s ever lived in the city knows that even a trip to the outskirts is like being lightyears away…and it was there that they shared personal things and opened up to eachother. It was a beautiful thing…because it was like watching someone’s life unfold in front of you. That’s how I wanted my audience to feel…like they knew these charectors and what’s good for them and who isn’t because negativity does come into their life. I read a book once that made me cry when a lovable charector died….and I realized that the author was so good that I cared about this charector enough to mourn him passing. I worked hard to create that same thing with my readers because I knew that once you care for them….you will always remember them….and that makes a great story.
9. When you are writing and not doing all your other activities, what one thing gets in your way and interupts your writing?
Sometimes, even to write a Facebook post, I have to get into a certain mode so that what I say will be deep and thoughtful and say everything that I’m trying to express. The readers of my book and articles are always waiting on the next thing from me so I take it seriously and make sure that it’s something of importance or informative. The thing that bugs me the most is usually when I get an idea and the itch to write something, it’s always when I’m around other people. So to answer your question it is always TALKING…because I can’t even concentrate around others without putting a pair of headphones on. I tend to get grouchy if I’m trying to write something and someone is talking to me constantly….and even when I tell them hold on they keep going. It doesn’t interupt me for long though because if it’s something I really want to say I will turn my music up loud and ignore them til I’m done and they get the point. One day I’ll be like other writers and hide away in a cabin for a few months….bet I’ll come back with four manuscripts then!
10. I see that you are very active in some social groups that help people. Tell me about how you give back to the community?
The first thing that I started doing at a young adult age was donating clothes directly to homeless shelters and urging my friends to do the same. The Association for Wounded Soldiers picks them up from in front of my house every two months as well. If your around me and I ever hear you say you threw something away besides trash I’ll chide you and say either give it to me to donate or drop it off yourself because even if it’s a shirt with a hole in it, someone can mend it and appreciate it. Later it got to the point where I started organizing this effort online using my own social media outlets and people in their own cities were dropping off clothes and goods. This last Easter, I had the owner of the nightclub Freakin’ Frog ask me to help donate an easter basket to a local organization that gives them to needy children….I once again enlisted some friends and came up with 24 baskets that we personally dropped off at the Shade Tree Shelter for Women and Children. We didn’t just buy the baskets as is, we bought the grass, candy and toys and handmade each baset, getting all of our kids involved, including my daughter. We put $5 in each basket inside of an egg just to surprise the children getting the basket. A couple months ago, I came up with the idea and co-founded the organization Gloria’s House of Hope with artist and producer Stone Paxton, Gloria’s son, which has been responsible for feeding the homeless in our city and donating money to those who have been affected by the economy. Gloria was a woman from Chicago, IL who was similar to my own heart, she helped so many people regardless of their background, race or age and passed away doing so. She was unselfish and caring, nonjudgemental and willing to take her freetime and share it with people she didn’t even know….and like me, she didn’t have to be rich to give back. Every other Tuesday, we go out in the community and do what we can…because I believe that’s how you get your own rewards in life. I remember the donated bags of clothes that we used to sift through as foster kids and how happy I was when I found something my size. If I can make any other person feel like that who knows they could never afford a nice blouse or pair of jeans then I’ve already done my job. But I’ll never stop….because the more money I make and oppertunities I get in the future…the more I can help.
11. Bonus question—What is your favorite way to spend the day at home? (ie, curled up in a blanket or chilling with a good movie… etc. )
Ohhh…I like this question! My favorite way to spend time at home is watching movies…, no hustle and bustle or work at ALL for 24 hours. I love when the Lifetime channel has movies on all day because all of them are always interesting…so I will sometimes order in, leave the house a bit untidy and just lounge in comfy pajamas. I like to turn my phone off and fix hot coffee or hot chocolate and keep snack food close. On my off days I used to LOVE going out to eat and doing a little shopping but I’ve gotten to the point where I’m always away from home and so now I enjoy being home in bed all day with the surround sound on. I watch a lot of movies on Netflix too but my favs are always the early 90’s, 80’s and 70’s movies. My favs are anything by John Candy, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Kevin Costner, Harrison Ford’s romantic movies, shoot, I even watch Home Alone hahahaha. It’s funny because although I’ve seen them all before I still like to watch them. Wow…this makes me realize that I need another day like this…it’s been a while! Time to get my hibernation on and disappear for 24 hours!
hahaha… Thanks Ashley for joining in the fun! It’s been great to have you on and you are welcome to come back anytime.
Don’t forget to find her on her links to find her book.