51 years old
I was born in San Jose California and have lived in the San Francisco Bay area for all but 4 years of my life. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for 29 years and we have three children, including a son with multiple disabilities. The five of us are madly in love with Sugar, our adorable bichon frise and Vanilla, our equally adorable, drama queen of a cockapoo (which, when you listen to yourself say it, makes her pretty stinky in two languages).
I am excited about my latest release, a novella in the Timeless Regency Collection via Mirror Press out on December 1st, called a Midwinter Ball. It was a very fun story to write and is part of an anthology with only two other authors, Annette Lyon and Michelle Paige Holmes, so the stories are quite a bit longer than in typical anthologies. I also have a book coming out in June of 2016 as part of the Matchmaker Series with authors: Heather B. Moore, Karey White, Rachael Anderson, Jaima Fixsen, Kelly Oram, Taylor Dean, Michele Paige Holmes, Janette Rallison, Sheralyn Pratt, Regina Sirois, and Julie Wright. It is going to be a super fun series! Mine takes place in Ireland and one of the characters is named Fiona. J
I have wanted to write books since I was seven years old which is when I began to (so generously) consider myself “a writer”. Jo March of Little Women was my hero and I wanted to be just like her (though the first book I remember “reading” was Jemima Puddleduck as a toddler). I wrote mostly poetry as a youngster and read a lot of fantasy (now called Speculative Fiction) including The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, everything by Nancy Springer, and anything Arthurian, until I was in my early twenties. Initially I wanted to write fantasy, but once I read my first Regency romance, I was smitten. It is a fantasy world set within another that is very prescribed and as a writer, I was so drawn to that.
I wrote my first finished book as a result of a dream that I had as a young mother which I worked on when my first born took his daily naps. It was a Regency romance and all of my conversations with my husband for the first six weeks of writing it were in a British accent (me, not him). It is not publishable in its current form and I have used a number of pieces of it in other stories so it will probably never have a debut. I wrote my first published book about a year later as an assignment for an adult education class on How to Write a Romance. I wrote the first chapter, read the first three pages aloud in class and my teacher said, “That is publishable.” I was pretty excited but it still took a while to find the right publisher.
My books, for the most part, start out with characters who come to me with their stories. They are, to me, absolutely real and have definite personality traits which drive the story.
Though I have known from a young age that I was a writer and always hoped I would be a professional novelist, I did not consider it a career until my third book came out. It was my first self-published book and it sold better than expected. The income was by no means enough to live on but it was enough for me to justify spending my time writing books. I enjoy having some of my books traditionally published and some self-published. I love the control of the latter and have participated in the design of all of my self-published covers. My most recent full length novel, Miss Armistead Makes Her Choice, is a combination of a stock photo and one I took myself of the coast in Connemara when I was in Ireland last summer. The cover of the book coming out in June was taken at a photo shoot in England complete with professional photographer, stylist, model, and makeup artist. It was great fun!
The most difficult part about writing a book is not having feedback as I write. I highly recommend being part of a critique group where you can receive and give feedback to other authors. For those who truly want to be a successful writer, read a lot of the sort of books you wish to write! I must have read about 1,000 regency romances before I wrote my first. Some of my favorite regency romance authors are Carla Kelly, Barbara Metzger, Joan Smith, Marion Devon, and Susan Carroll. I love their PG rated romances, though some of them have written steamier books, as well.
One of the things I enjoy most about being a published writer are the people who read my books and who take the time to tell me about it. I have fun interacting with these special readers and some of them have become my good friends. I also love gardening, photographing my babies (children, dogs, roses) transforming my 1970s California bungalow into an English country cottage (if I weren’t writing books, I would be a professional designer—I love to decorate!), traveling, (I spent three weeks in Scotland and England last July and Ireland the year prior) and watching lots and lots of British T.V.
You can view photos and read more about me, my books, my travels, my romantic home and life with my disabled son on my blog at www.heidiashworth. blogspot.com or my website at www.heidiashworth. com. I am also on Pinterest, (Heidi Ashworth Author) Twitter (@AshworthHeidi), Instagram (Heidi.Ashworth) and FB–https://www.facebook.com/authorheidiashworth/. If you were to visit any of my sites, you will quickly learn that I adore the color pink, (it must be a matter of envy—my identical twin sister always got the pink dress while I got the green, yellow or blue one) and that chocolate is an adequate substitute for gluten. Also—roses. I’m totally obsessed.