Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Wednesday Spotlight with Ashley Ludwig
Hello and welcome to Wednesday Spotlight! Today my special guest is friend and fellow white rose author Ashley Ludwig. Ashley is here to chat about her book All or Nothing.
Here is a blurb and excerpt:
A young widow starting over nearly dies on the perilous, winding road to Tucson, Arizona in 1876.
An accident turns out to be a cover-up for a heinous crime at the hand of a murderous bandit. Robbed and left for dead, all that remains for RuthAnne Newcomb is her faith, and the talents God gave her. She needs both to endure the handsome, vengeful cavalry captain who saved her life.
Captain Bowen Shepherd offers aid in exchange for information leading to the criminal’s capture. El Tejano, as the bandit is known, is bound to strike again and RuthAnne is the only living witness to his crimes. Left with nothing but her savvy and unwavering faith, RuthAnne is forced to return to the scene and help with the intolerable soldier’s quest.
Already, the criminal is after the lone witness who can destroy him. Bowen and RuthAnne must risk everything to unmask the bandit once and for all, before he can strike again at the one who cost him the most. Will their newfound love, or their lives, be the cost of bringing a murderer to justice?
All or Nothing
By Ashley Ludwig
Print ISBN 1-60154-561-4
“Mara!” Her voice choked; the raspy words burned like fire.
She searched the scene on hands and knees in the silver moonlight. Lord, not Mara. Where is she? She’s just a girl...please!
Footsteps crunched on the gravel-filled dirt. Nowhere to hide, RuthAnne willed herself invisible. Her hand closed around a fist-sized rock. The bandit wouldn’t take her without a fight.
He knelt down beside her. A large, rough hand cupped her cheek in an all too familiar way. “You’re awake. Thank God.”
With a ragged battle cry, RuthAnne lunged at her would-be attacker with the stone, cracking him just above the shoulder. He shied away from the blow, and the lump of granite glanced off him. With little effort, he peeled it from her fingers. “You’re coming with me, whether you like it or not.”
The brigand picked her up like a child and marched her off to her doom. Terrified, she fought and bucked while he carried her. Tears of frustration streamed down her face; her hair, a mass of golden curls, tumbled loose about her as she thrashed in his arms. RuthAnne hammered at him with ineffectual fists. He carried her so easily, as if she were feather light, though he did pin her arms close against her body.
“I’m not going to hurt you. I’m here to help.”
Sharon: Yells into the speaker over the rip roaring waves of the Pacific. Hey, Ash! Come sit here under the umbrella table. It’s time for your interview. Here comes the crew. Lights camera action!
Ashley struts along the coppery beach, bucket of shells in hand, waving madly to her fans. Music from Colbie Calait’s Coco blasts from the speakers.
Sharon and Ashley exchange hugs and scoot down into festive tiki lounge chairs, both wearing their designer shades.
Sharon: Oh this sun feels wonderful, Ash. And look who I brought with me. Why it’s my butler, Oliver with refreshments.
Oliver struts out in his spanking new fluorescent lime green speedos and Gucci sun glasses. With a winning smile, he balances a silver tray above his head. He winks wildly at Ashley and sets the coffee, lemonade and pitcher of ice water on the umbrella table. Then he places the basket of salsa and chips directly in front of Ashley and treats her to a sweeping bow. May I pour you a drink, Ms. Ludwig?
Ashley: Ooh, yes, Oliver. Let’s forgo coffee for lemonade. Did you make the salsa yourself? You look, I mean it looks delicious…
Sharon: Ah…Oliver…I wouldn’t mind you pouring me a nice cup of your gourmet blend. Oliver? And I don’t believe I can reach the chips all the way on the other side of the table.
But Oliver shuffles nervously, kicks his feet in the sand and stammers, May I be so bold as to ask for your autograph, Ms. Ashley?
Ashley: *giggling* Of course, Oliver. Anything for you *wink* (aside to Sharon) I’m still not used to people wanting me to give autographs. This still feels so completely surreal!
Sharon: So now that we’re settled and Oliver has gone surfing until I call him for dessert, shall we begin our interview? All or Nothing draws us in, right from the beginning. It has everything I look for in a book, an enticing hook and an intriguing aura. Tell us about this book. The characters? The setting? The main storyline?
Ashley: All or Nothing is actually one part of the first novel I ever completed. Fresh out of college, full of unbridled enthusiasm, I spent afternoons traipsing around the adobe ruins of Fort Lowell in Tucson, Arizona—daydreaming about the soldiers and people who used to live there. That museum curator answered all of my questions and then some, introducing me to the Fort Laundresses, who had to keep up with all the soldiers in some pretty horrible conditions. So, the fort and the army laundry seemed like a wonderful place to store RuthAnne while she and Bowen were hunting for the rogue bandit roaming the Arizona mountain roads!
Sharon: I love the name Bowen. How do you go about choosing names for your hero and heroine? Do you go back and forth like choosing baby names or do your characters demand certain names as their birthright?
Ashley: Well, this story’s inspiration stemmed from the Book of Ruth. RuthAnne, Mara, and Bowen (rather than Boaz) all grew from there. My characters tend to whisper their names in my ears while I’m figuring out their character traits. Sometimes I change them, but mostly the first time is the charm!
Sharon: All or Nothing has a bit of suspense in it, a bit of mystery, and obviously a lot of romance and faith. And it’s classified as a Historical, Inspirational Romance. Do you find it difficult to blend these all into one specific genre?
Ashley: *covering mouth not to spit out lemonade* Oh, Sharon! *laughs* I honestly never thought about it that way. My favorite stories are not just the romance, but creating a plot where my hero and heroine work together to uncover some sort of truth. In this case, a mystery. The suspense builds their relationship, and together they come to a deeper understanding of their respective faith. I love to see if they can work as a team. Life is about more than just falling in love, after all.
Sharon: Now let’s talk about reviews. LASR gave All or Nothing 5 books. Awesome. Congratulations! Can you describe the feelings a rave and glowing review evoke in you?
Ashley: I was floored. Really. When I saw that, my husband had to pick me up off of the floor by the computer. Then, we all danced around—including the children, though they weren’t quite sure what we were dancing for! I swear, I don’t think I could have been more excited if I’d found out I was a New York Times Bestseller!
Sharon: Now Ashley, is there a genre you would like to experiment with that you haven’t tried before? And if so, what is it and why would you like to venture into that genre?
Ashley: Funny that you mention that. Hmm. I’m out of lemonade. Where is Oliver? *scans horizon to see Oliver shooting the tube – pours own glass*
My current work in progress is a contemporary Action/Adventure Romance – staring a marine archaeologist on the trail of a historic mystery! I love reading adventures and of course am a huge Indiana Jones fan—having been an archaeologist myself—so, having a character capable of following historic clues, balancing science and faith, it’s all very exciting to figure out.
Sharon: Do the characters you create stay with you long after they’ve played their roles or do you think about them even when you are creating new characters?
Ashley: I do think about them. Their voices are locked in my head—in fact, I think that I heard Bowen and RuthAnne having a discussion about the children this morning. (Theirs, not mine!) Anyway, I think I’ll keep the Shepherd family in all of my novel-length stories for awhile. I like the idea of following one family through history, and maintaining their legacy as lives are touched from the old West to contemporary.
Sharon: Oh, here comes Oliver, all sopping wet from his swim and surf. And he’s carting a tray of chocolate dipped strawberries, rolled in raw sugar.
Oliver presents them, whispers to Ashley that he double dipped them just for her.
Ashley: *squee!* Oh, Oliver. You do know the way to a lady’s heart, don’t you? *bats eyelashes and takes a big bite*
Oliver clasps hands to heart and passes out in the sand. Two bikini-clad blondes rush to the rescue to revive him with mouth to mouth. Oliver comes around grinning, blowing kisses to Ashley as he rushes off to surf with the babes.
Sharon: Must be those lime green speedos. So what’s next for you, Ash? What are you working on?
Ashley: I’m elbows deep in my current Work in Progress. Sapphire Tears (working title) follows Chandra Drake, a pragmatic science-minded Archaeologist. Her hero, Troy Shepherd, is a real-to-life-hero. He operates by faith and instinct, and takes on almost more than he can handle with protecting Chandra on their quest. The story starts out in Washington, and globe hops to Mexico, and ultimately Arizona. I’m having loads of fun with the plot, and am about 30,000 words from the finish line!
Sharon: Now let’s talk about you. How does Ashley Ludwig keep it all together? You have a family, young children, a job and you write. Where and how do you fit it all in?
Ashley: Well, I don’t sleep. Seriously, I either get up very early or stay up long past everyone else’s bedtime. I do my best to take weekends off from promoting, or social networking. Thankfully, my husband is incredibly supportive of my writing, and loves taking the girls to the pool, the park, or on adventures to give me time when I need it.
Sharon: What is your favorite time of the day and why?
Ashley: I love sunsets by the ocean. On a day like today, when you can stroll to the end of the pier, grab a hot cocoa, and watch for the green flash as the sun dips below the horizon. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Sharon: Tell readers about your archaeologist background.
Ashley: I graduated with my B.S. in Archaeology from the University of Arizona. After college, I worked for an environmental company for a few years, surveying and excavating across the Southwest. Priceless experience.
Sharon: And you obviously love the beach and digging for seashells. What is your prize shell and where did you find it?
Ashley: We just unpacked a box of seashells that my husband and I collected off the gulf of California from before we were married. I made a lovely menagerie of the collection and displayed it on a table over some antique lace.
Sharon: You are so creative! Oh, dear, here comes Oliver. With a mischievous grin, Oliver bee bops to the music, snapping his fingers. He grabs Ashley and twirls her around in the sand, belting the lyrics to the Colbie Calait song.
Sharon: All right, Oliver, you’ve had your fun. Now go take a swim while I wrap up my interview with Ms. Ludwig.
Oliver blows kisses as he picks up his surf.
Sharon: He loves the beach and I dare say, I’ve created a monster. So that brings us to the end of our interview. But before we go, I have a few questions I simply must ask. I adore superstitions. Do you have any and if so, do share one or two of your favorites.
Ashley: I just love that about you! I’m superstitious, too. Maybe it’s that creative mind working over time, but I won’t walk under a ladder. I have rosemary growing by my garden gate, and lavender planted for luck. I don’t leave my purse on the floor, for fear of wasting my fortune, and I give a jade plant to all of my friends, for good karma. Covering all my bases!
Sharon: I love them! And every time I ask that question, I hear a superstition I have never heard before. And I’ll cherish my jade plant from you. Thank you, Ash. And finally, my three questions. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? If you could be the leading lady in any literary fiction, which would it be and why? And last but not least, who would you want playing your romantic hero?
Ashley: Anywhere in the world? Dare I say, I’d live right here in Temecula wine country, and keep a little beach bungalow for weekends. Does that count?
A leading lady in literary fiction? Hmmm. That’s tougher. How about Katherine, AFTER she’s had her way with Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew?
And, if I were to choose someone to play Bowen Shepherd? I’d have to select Josh Holloway—who plays Sawyer on Lost. Yes. He’s my Bowen.
Sharon: Thank you so much, Ash. This has been so much fun and I love being on location. Can you tell readers where they can buy All or Nothing as well as all your books? And where can readers and fans reach you?
Ashley: Thanks so much for having me, and coming all the way out here to California! Please tell me you have Josh Holloway stashed somewhere…or is that him I see, strolling, shirtless, down the beach?
Oh—and All or Nothing is available in print at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and from my publisher—White Rose Publishing. The links are all available on my web site: www.ashleyludwig.com
Sharon: LOL Sorry, Ashley. You’ll have to settle for the shirtless and very sun burnt Oliver! BTW, did I mention he no longer wishes to be referred to as my butler? He’s demanding to be called “Cabana Boy” and is certainly trying my patience. A group of pretty California girls encircle Oliver. Cabana Boy beams brilliantly and pops a beer and guzzles it down.
Thunderous applause explodes over the waves as Ashley waves good bye to her adoring fans.
Oliver: Ashley, come join us over here! Cabana Boy is about to sing a few Beach Boy hits! I’m diggin’ California. Will you hire me to be your Cabana Boy? Please. I wanna stay!!
Ashley: *Blows kiss to Oliver* You go on and play with the beach bunnies. Sharon and I have lots of catching up to do! I think maybe some friends will come join us?
Please listen to a bit of Jason Mraz, while we watch the sunset... My compliments, Sharon! ...