A Shipment of Books, An Amazon Bestseller, and Obliging Trees


First of all …. the shipment of books from my publisher arrived!!


While I didn’t swim in them, as I had previously threatened to do … I was quite excited! My 7-year-old son, who is very nonchalant about my author status now, shuffled through a few of the books in the open box, then looked at me with concern and said, “But they’re all the exact same book!”

Yes. *sigh* I think he must have been under the impression that, with all the time I’ve spent on the computer preparing for launch the past few weeks, I’ve written at least another several books.

Most of these are promotional ones, which I’ll be using to give out in all the giveaways that have been running recently. So if you were one of the several winners – be on the lookout! They should be in the mail soon!


Secondly, The Word Changers made it to the Christian Fantasy Best Sellers list on Amazon this week! To my understanding, the top 100 of any category qualifies for the list. My book started at #94, then went from #47 to #30 just within the past 24 hours.

I realize Amazon’s algorithms are confusing, and oftentimes seem to make no sense (or is that just me?). I’ve watched my book jump back and forth numerous times over the past week or two on various (yet similar) lists. I’ve seen one ranking on Amazon, a completely different one on Author Central Amazon … yeah, confusing.

But I’ll take #30! I’m quite happy with that.

I know that sales, reviews and tags do much in the way of putting books on the radar for other Amazon buyers. So to those of you who are reviewing, tagging and buying … I’m very grateful!


And lastly, I just had to share a fun thing I did today. Such beautifully obliging trees, no? How (or why?) would I even try to resist whipping out my paints and brushes? And they are right next door to each other, so the little gnomes who can now live here will be able to have cookouts together and watch their little gnome children play together in the front lawn …… well, until the next rainfall, anyway.

Gnome door1

Gnome door2

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!


Begin and End with Faith

Everything I’ve done up to now has started with faith.

The faith of my parents when I was only a little girl, handing them a scribbled story.

The faith I’ve been taught God has in me as a soul of worth, as a creature who belongs to Him, and the endless love that accompanies that faith.

The faith of family and friends who have prayed for me and encouraged me both in life and in the growing of my creativity.

The faith of a husband and son who have left me alone for countless hours to wrestle with the characters and stories in my head.bird1

The faith of an agent and a publisher who were willing to take a chance on both me and my book.

And, of course, the faith of you, the readers.

Sure, a lot of people are willing to pay a few dollars for a book that catches their fancy. But fewer of them are willing to invest precious hours of their time to dive into its story, bond with its characters, and open themselves to be changed by its message. That takes an enormous amount of faith – one I hope I never disappoint.

So thanks to you, my readers and future readers and even you “maybe” readers and “just-passing-by” readers!  And also to everyone who has ever offered encouragement and truth and wisdom.

Now my own faith comes back into play – faith that God will take The Word Changers and do whatever He wills with it, be it great or small.


“To have faith is to have wings.” – J.M. Barrie




Release Giveaway2

The Author of the Story

I found it amusing, at first, to know that I was writing a story within a story while penning The Word Changers. Now and then I would smile ironically to myself and shake my head. It was just too much fun. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, The Word Changers is about a girl who falls into the pages of a book. She spends almost the entire remainder of the story within that book (a fairy tale, in fact). Yes, with my dry sense of humor I found it incredibly droll to think about that.

But then I reached the part about the Author.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I had it all planned out. I knew the theme I was aiming for. I knew the meaning I wanted to hide within the Hand writing using quill penpages of my story, the meaning that the Author would be a part of. I knew what I was in for. Or so I thought.

Writing about the Author made me start asking my own author-self some questions. And as I wrote the dialogue between the Author and some of his characters within my book, I began to see something happening that I hadn’t planned on at all.

Not, as you might imagine, a change within my story. But a change within myself.

Because, as an author myself, I do care about my characters. I do want what’s best for them. But many times, in order for them to have what’s best, I have to watch them go through some heartache and pain. If I take control of them and force them into roles, put them in just the situations I want them to be in, like chess pieces in a game, what would that say about me? My poor characters would never learn a thing. And they would end their stories just as they began them. Selfish, heart-sore, bitter and broken. Would my love for my characters be truly shown if I allowed that to happen?

This led me, of course, to look at the way God handles us, his “characters.” He allows us to see heartache and pain. We wonder why He doesn’t lift a finger to help us. But His help is often different than the help we demand of Him. It comes in a form that is subtle, sometimes invisible … many times unexpected.

*Spoiler Alert*

In The Word Changers, Posy is imprisoned. While in her cell, she cries out angrily to the Author. He is the one who wrote the story she’s stuck within, isn’t he? Why can’t he change her story, release her from prison? It would be so simple … he would only need to change a few of the story’s words, wouldn’t he? Posy wants the prison doors to be opened for her. She wants to walk straight out of her cell.

Instead, the Author shines down on her in the form of the moon. Gently, silently. And that single ray of moonlight shining into her prison cell is his answer. At first Posy doesn’t see it. Then she realizes she has to work with what she’s given. Her door isn’t thrown open, as she wished. But the shaft of moonlight shows her the way to escape. It’s a painful and difficult escape, but an escape just open bookthe same.

*Spoiler Alert End*

So writing The Word Changers helped me understand God a little better. It made me focus on His eternal intent for me, as opposed to my own petty every-day goals and desires. It made me understand that sometimes the difficult way can be the best way – the way that helps me to grow and learn and become more closely the person God wants me to be. Writing about the Author in my story forced me, for just a small minute, to enter into God’s way of looking at things. And what a different and infinitely superior way of looking at things that is!

That’s just a small part of what God has done for me through the act and process of writing for His glory. I can only hope that you, my readers, will get half the blessing out of reading my book as I did in writing it.

Introducing the Cast of Characters

Today I’d like to introduce you to some of the characters from The Word Changers. All of these people, save one, are unique in that they portray Characters within characters.

Confused? Yeah, probably!

Let me explain.

Within The Word Changers is another book – a strange, dark fairy tale that Posy, our heroine, finds in her poky hometown library. It’s The Book: the one she falls into and spends the rest of the story within, the one she ends up traveling through and ultimately changing the words to … And within that fairy tale lies the rest of the cast of characters.

So without further ado, here is the lineup of each Character, including a bit about him or her, and even a few pictures to portray what some of them look like (in my head, at least!).


Posy (Emma Watson)
Emma Watson makes a wonderful Posy. She has the perfect combination of vulnerability, innocence, strength and softness.

Posy: Uncertain of her worth, unsure of her path, she stumbles into something that seems like a dream, but ends up being more like a nightmare. A runaway princess, a forgotten Author … Posy has many things to find. But none as important as finding herself.

Kyran (Ben Barnes)
Dark hair, dark eyes, dark mood … Ben Barnes fits Kyran so well!

Prince Kyran: Haughty and condescending, the prince of the Kingdom is bored with his role in it, and fed up with his parents’ cruelty and manipulation. When he agrees to accompany Posy on her quest beyond the Borders of the Plot, he little realizes the life-changing journey that awaits him.

Falak:  Chief advisor to the king. Head of the council of owls. Oh, and he happens to be an owl himself. He is sharp, intelligent, and not quite all he seems …

Melanthius (John Rhys Davies)4
John Rhys-Davies. Imposing, heavy-browed, striking … in short, King Melathius.

King Melanthius:  Ruler of the Kingdom, Keeper of the Plot. But Melanthius has gone a step too far – he not only keeps the Plot, he now fully controls it along with all its characters. He has usurped the job that only the Author of the story has a right to.

Queen Valanor:  Cold, clever and beautiful. Her husband the king may rule the Kingdom, but she rules him. …At least, she thinks she does.

Delicate but determined. Give this young model lavender eyes and she’s Princess Evanthe.

Princess Evanthe: She saw the truth of the wrong that was happening in the Kingdom and did the one thing she thought would remedy it … she ran away. She went into hiding far beyond the Borders of the Plot, where her brother Kyran and his companion Posy go to seek her.

The Mist:  A voice … a feeling … a whisper. The Mist is kept under tight control by King Melanthius, and its voice can’t be heard by many these days, at least for any purpose but petty information. Yet it has a power all its own, and a role much bigger than anyone dreams of.

Alvar:  A “common” character, with no large part in the Plot. All the same, he has a strong belief in every character’s importance, and he opposes the king openly – something that’s never been done. He even has plans for forming an army of his own to fight for freedom.

Reader Hannah Williams sketched this fabulous picture of Faxon after reading The Word Changers

Faxon: Protector of the Glade. He is the leader of the exiled council of centaurs who were in power before the council of owls. He now lives in the Wild Land beyond the Plot as leader of a rogue centaur army. He helps Posy and Kyran in their search for the dark place they believe Princess Evanthe to be hiding.

Falak usually has a particular glint in those uncanny orange eyes

Seraphine, Limnoreia, and Adamaris:  A trio of exquisite mermaid sisters who have been wronged by the King Melanthius and banished from the Plot. They live in an underwater palace full of secrets and darkness. They have a choice – seek revenge for their own sakes, or join Kyran and Posy to fight in the name of justice.

The Wild Folk:  These are the folk native to the Wild Land. They are truly natural creatures who have always lived beyond the Borders of the Plot, and whom have never been a part of the book at all. They are so bonded with the Wild Land forest that they even look like a part of it. They are peaceful and quiet by nature, yet when the King threatens their land with invasion, many of them decide action must be taken.

The Author:  He wrote the story, yes, but his characters haven’t heard from him in centuries. They have even begun to believe he never existed at all, and is only a myth kept alive in tales. But some still believe he lurks somewhere beyond the Borders of the Plot, waiting to lay claim to his story once again.


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Falling Into the Book

book portalIn books, characters can stumble into other worlds in many different ways. Sometimes it’s as simple as walking through a door or crossing a bridge. Other times it’s as unexpected as the door of a musty old wardrobe, falling down a rabbit hole, or flying out your window toward the second star on the right, straight on ‘til morning …

But those are fictional portals leading to fictional worlds.

Growing up I discovered a real-life portal.

A book.

Any book. Every book. Each one takes you to a different place. Each one has something different to show you, something new to reveal. It’s a never-ending adventure, a book. A rousing and irresistible adventure.

Is it any wonder that I grew up daydreaming how it would feel to fall straight into a book? Does it come as a surprise that my own debut novel features just such a theme?

Posy, my main character, is a 15-year-old girl who is much like I used to be at that age. Lacking in confidence, the child of a broken  home, older than her years in some ways, and younger than them in other ways. In short, she is made up of the perfect ingredients to find a sanctuary in books. An escape from the world around her.

But books, as we know, can take us places. Books can draw us in, and then both excite and wound us in the worst and best of ways. And the fairy tale Posy wanders into takes her to a world in turmoil. The very characters themselves are threatening to rebel against their Plot. They have forgotten who their Author wrote them to be … they have forgotten their Author altogether, in fact.magic book

That’s a recipe for trouble. And Posy’s journey is a long and difficult one.

As I wrote the book, I had to ask myself some questions:

What would happen if you actually stepped into a book and met its characters?

Would those characters be aware that they were characters following a Plot that controlled their every word and move?

Would they be capable of making their own decisions or – as in The Word Changers – actually rebelling against their Author?

As much as I’ve always dreamed of literally getting lost in a book, what would it truly be like, and how would I react? In other words, what would be the dark side of such a fantasy …?

That’s what I asked myself. And that’s how The Word Changers began, in part.

A lot of answers came from those questions as I began to write this tale. Some of them were surprising. Some were exciting. Some were mysterious. To find out what those answers were, and how Posy’s story unfolds, read The Word Changers for yourself!

But let me ask you now, how would you answer those questions? If you were dropped into a book, stumbled through its pages and straight into its story, how would you feel? What would you do? … Would your actions send waves across the Plot, changing the story’s very words?


Don’t forget to click below and enter the giveaway going on this week. I’m giving away a signed paperback of The Word Changers, and a crocheted owl made by – you guessed it – me!


Release Giveaway2

The Journey Begins


Well, dear readers, the day has finally come! A lifelong dream of mine has been realized, and my book has been released into the world today!



In the coming week, I will be posting once a day with some insight into how The Word Changers began, introductions to some of the characters in the book, and other exciting things! Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about magical portals in fantasy and the reason I chose the one I did in my own story.

Enter your name below to win both of these!



It will all end with a giveaway for a signed paperback of my book and a crocheted owl, handcrafted by my own two little hands 🙂 The giveaway begins today (as in right now!!), so don’t forget to scroll down and follow the link to enter your name! It will end on Friday, when my release week ends, after which I will email the winner for details.


PLACES TO FIND The Word Changers

The Word Changers is available now in eBook, and releases today in paperback (although on some sites there may be a bit of a delay until it shows up). I myself am a “real” book girl. Nothing beats the smell of those pages, or the feel of a solid book in my hands. Ok, I’ll admit, part of it is just because I’m old-fashioned at heart and I’m like a cantankerous old lady when it comes to change!

But I digress …

Here are the places you can purchase The Word Changers!

Amazon          Barnes and Noble          Conquest          Smashwords



I will be at the charming Tales of Goldstone Wood blog today, where fantasy author Anne Elisabeth Stengl is interviewing me.

The lovely Amber Stokes is hosting me in a book spotlight and fun character interview (meet King Melanthius!) over at The Borrowed Book.

Also the talented author Jenelle Schmidt is featuring The Word Changers today on her blog.



I’ve set up three new pages if you’d like to check them out. All of them will be updated regularly.

The first one is under the “ABOUT ASHLEE” tab, and it’s got links to all my interviews and guest posts.

The second one is under the “BOOKS” tab, and it’s got quotes of what reviewers have to say about The Word Changers.

The third one is extra fun, and it’s under the “BOOKS” tab as well. It’s got fan art from The Word Changers … although right now the one picture I’ve got there is a bit lonely, so if you have read my book and feel inspired to draw, paint, or artistically express one of the ideas or characters within it, please feel free to send your illustration my way! I’d love to feature it!

Needless to say, it’s going to be a busy week around here! Hope you’re ready for some fun!


Interview with Shannon McDermott, Author of THE VALLEY OF DECISION

I am hosting authoress Shannon McDermott here today in an interview through Prism Book Tours. Shannon answers some questions about her new book, The Valley of Decision, her writing process, and a bit about what she does in her spare time! Thanks for joining us and hope you enjoy visiting with Shannon for a while!

If you scroll down (wwaaayy down there!) you’ll find more info about Shannon and her new book, and also links to all the other sites involved in this fun book tour!

Also Shannon has two (yep, two!) giveaways going on now, which are also at the bottom of this post. Up for grabs are two paperbacks and an eBook of The Valley of Decision, an eBook of Shannon’s book The Sunrise Windows, and … a $25 Amazon gift card! You will definitely NOT want to miss out on entering!

Without further ado, here’s the interview!


What do you do when you’re not writing?

On the professional side, I have a good deal of book promotion to do – both my own and other people’s. On the personal side – reading, music, family …

Why are you drawn to the Christian fantasy genre?

Fantasy in general appeals to me because I enjoy the incredible imagination displayed in stories filled with things we wouldn’t dream of encountering ourselves. I am also fascinated by the fact that whatever matters most in our own world – love, courage, hope, the ultimate nature of reality – is what matters most in every world we can imagine. Christian fantasy, when done well, is a fuller and more satisfying exploration of that truth than fantasy that discounts God.

Which of the characters from The Valley of Decision was your favorite to write?

The main character, Keiran the Captain of the Hosts. To even attempt what he did, a person would have to be either very desperate or very confident of his own abilities. Keiran is the second, and he has an extreme self-assurance, and sometimes conceit, that I enjoyed using. He’s also bold, another fun characteristic for a writer to work with. And because he is a very able man, and has reason to be confident, his occasional conceit adds texture to his character and makes him more interesting.

Tell us a bit about your writing style. Plotter or pantster? Music or silence? Office or coffee shop?

I usually do office, but occasionally I’ll go to my local library, buy a drink from its coffee shop (every library should have a coffee shop), and settle down in a quiet nook to work. I also like music while I work, particularly Andrew Peterson or Celtic Thunder or Caedmon’s Call.

I always do some plotting before I write (how can I tell a story when I don’t know where it’s going?), but it can be pretty sketchy. When I start a book, I have the premise down, a plan for the first few chapters, and a few ideas I want to incorporate. Then, throughout the writing of the book, I stop to do more plotting. I never write a scene without notes on what it is meant to accomplish in the story as a whole.

Were there any unforeseen challenges in the writing and publication of your book?

Well, the printing press broke down while they were printing the book. But that isn’t a sign, not at all …

If the main character of The Valley of Decision lived in the modern world, what would be his/her choice of career?

That’s a fun question! I never thought of it before, but I think he’d be a Fortune 500 CEO – totally dominating his industry, buying up smaller companies, engaging in multimillion-dollar transactions over coffee. And he wouldn’t be interested in the money so much as the challenge and the game.


A themed book tour through Prism Book Tours.

We’re launching the Book Tour for
The Valley of Decision
by Shannon McDermott

“A solid fantasy that wears its spirituality lightly yet effectively.”
~Kirkus Reviews (read the entire review here)

We’d like to introduce you to the characters and the story-book world of The Valley of Decision. From the races that inhabit the world (Trow, Fays, hobgoblins, Men) to the different nations (Alamir, the Coldlands, the Dochraitay) to the places (the Northwood, the Black Mountains, Ataroth), there is a lot to explore! Come follow along:

Katie’s Clean Book Collection
Hope To Read

Bookworm Lisa
Distractions of Grandeur

Finding the True Fairy Tale
I Love to Read and Review Books 🙂
Rhiannon Paille – YA Fantasy Author

Kelly P’s Blog
Mythical Books

Brooke Blogs

Coffee Books & Art
Mel’s Shelves

The Wonderings of One Person
The Written Adventure

Deal Sharing Aunt

Platypire Reviews
Letters from Annie Douglass Lima
Wishful Endings

My Devotional Thoughts
Christy’s Cozy Corners

6/29 – Grand Finale

The Valley of Decision
by Shannon McDermott
Adult Fantasy
Paperback, 416 pages
May 31st 2014 by SALT Christian Press

Where the Black Mountains pierce the sky, they divide the south from the north, Alamir from the kingdom of Belenus. Belenus, the undying master of the north, commanded Keiran – the Captain of the Hosts – to conquer Alamir. But the Captain is deep in conspiracy, and he has his own plans.

The Valley of Decision is a fantasy novel, a saga of slavery, freedom, and choices.

AmazonSALT Christian Press

Introduction to The Valley of Decision

When I began researching folktales in order to write The Valley of Decision, I gave particular attention to the elves. Fairies, they’re also called, or faeries or fays. By whatever name, what are they?

That was the question I tried to answer, and my trouble was that I found too many answers. Elves, or faeries, might be almost anything: good or bad, ugly or beautiful, large or small, living in hills or mountains or forests.

Their origins were also diverse. Some said the faeries were fallen angels (demons?), others that they were the spirits of the dead (creepy!). One story has it that when the first baby laughed for the first time, that laugh shattered into a thousand pieces and became the fairies – quite charming, actually. Another story holds that Eve once hid some of her children from God, and He declared to her, “What man hides from God, God will hide from man.” These children and their descendants became the Hidden People, the elves.

Tolkien presented his Elves as a distinct race, neither angelic nor human in origin. Disney, not surprisingly, dusted off the baby’s laugh story for its fairies. Meanwhile, Darby O’Gill and the Good People – published more than a century ago – adopted the fallen-angel theory, with a few modifications. (The angel Gabriel has a starring role in the tale, with an Irish brogue and several politically incorrect opinions.)

When it came to writing my own story, I had to craft my own rendition of the ancient legend of Faeries. To put it simply, I had to decide who and what they were.

I picked the name Fay and adopted and revised one of the old tales. The story I created for the Fays became the most important element of the entire mythos of The Valley of Decision. It came to determine who they were, and what they did, and how they treated the humans who were, after all, the heroes of the story.

Shannon McDermott is a Christian author of speculative fiction, as well as a humorous detective series called “The Adventures of Christian Holmes.” She has written both fantasy and science fiction, and has yet to decide on which one to like better.

She was born to Wisconsin, expatriates in California, grew up on the East Coast, and now lives in the Midwest. Her principal hobbies are politics, history, novels, and coffee.


Tour-Wide Giveaway

– Grand Prize: $25 Amazon gift card and ebooks of The Valley of Decision and The Sunrise Windows (open INT)
– 2 print copies of The Valley of Decision (US only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Last Chance for Reviewers of Christian Fantasy


At the behest of my publisher, I will be looking for more reviewers of my book, The Word Changers, up until the time of its release in just a few days (June 23).

The Requirements

1.) Your review will need to be posted on Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes and Noble (if you are a part of any other book review sites or if you have a blog, feel free to post it there as well!)

2.) The time frame to post your review should be within a few weeks – July would be great, but August works, too!

What You Should Know

You are not required to write a positive review! But it may help for you to know a few things about The Word Changers before you agree to review it. It will just make it more enjoyable for everyone involved 😉

1.) It is a Christian/allegorical fantasy.

2.) It does contain a bit of magic, although all magic is performed by the antagonistic characters.

3.) There is romance, including a couple of kisses – no more.

If you are not opposed to these things, and if you’ve got time in your reading schedule this summer, you may be just who I’m looking for 🙂

Contact Me

The book will be in electronic form. When you download it (at a link I will provide after you contact me), it will give you an option based on what type of e-format you prefer.

Email me at ashleew@zoho.com if you are interested! In your email, please let me know why you are interested in reading/reviewing The Word Changers, and the approximate time frame you think you’d be able to review it by. I look forward to hearing from you!!


Mythical Retelling, Guest Post, and Upcoming Release Date!

Well, today is an exciting day!

Mythical Retellingpandora's box3

My short story, The Cost, was published in the Timeless Tales Magazine edition which released today! It is based on the Greek mythological story of Pandora’s Box (I just love mythology, don’t you?!). If you’re not familiar with the story, you might want to visit here first to read the original version before reading my story 🙂

Also, there is an audio version of my story, which is so exciting! I’ll be receiving the audio copy sometime today or tomorrow, and I’m so anxious to hear what it sounds like!

Guest Post

I’m also a guest over at New Authors Fellowship today. If you’d like to read my article, titled The Thing That Writing Untaught Me, head over there! I talk about how writing is meant to be messy … and what accepting that fact taught me (or untaught me!) about life. Be sure to check out all the other great posts on NAF while you’re there – it’s such a great site!

Nine Days!

Also … just nine more days until The Word Changers releases! The eBook is out already, but for those of you who prefer paperback (as I do!), June 23 is the date for you to look for it if you’d like to hold a copy in your hands! I’ll be posting some fun things here on my blog during release week, including a fun giveaway. And in case you’re unaware of it, there’s another giveaway going on right now over at Goodreads – you could win one of five copies I’m giving away after the book releases 🙂

Hope you have a fabulous weekend, dear readers!