Author Interview: Elysia Strife, Author of A Promise in Ash @elysialstrife

Adopted by two educators, Strife developed a deep love for learning new things. In 2012, she graduated from Oregon State University with two Bachelor’s Degrees in Public Health and Human Sciences: Interior Design and Exercise Sport Science. Her past wears fatigues, suits, and fitness gear, sprinkled with mascara and lace.

“I like to question everything, figure out how things work, and do tasks myself. Experiencing new things is fun but also helps with writing raw and genuine stories. And I’m always trying to push my comfort zones.”

Strife likes the rumble of her project car’s 350-ci V8. She enjoys the rush of snowboarding and riding ATVs on the dunes. But nothing brings her more solace than camping in the mountains where the stars are their brightest.

Strife enjoys connecting with readers and welcomes all feedback and questions.


A romantic-suspense novel featuring: miscarriage, hot co-workers, cybersecurity threats, and the struggle of defining family.

With only an abusive mother-figure to guide her, Norah has learned everything the hard way. An unexpected pregnancy with her fiancé changed her career plans. But miscarriage and betrayal thrust everything in reverse again. Eerie things start happening at work, and Norah finds herself at the center of the investigation.

Secrets tumble forth from Norah’s father, her ex-fiancé, and the mystery around her adoption, breaking the walls she’s put up to protect her heart. Now, more than ever, she longs for trust, love, and a family of her own.

Bonding with her handsome co-worker, Evan, and his teenage daughter, Ashley, Norah gets a glimpse of cohesive family life. She finds herself falling for Evan and becoming an unlikely source of help and understanding for Ashley. Evan and Ashley have an empty seat at their table, one Norah wishes to fill. Yet the guilt of taking the previous woman’s place threatens to keep them apart.

Can Norah overcome the scars of her past and discover her inner strength? And will the private letter from her father answer her questions or destroy the family, and the man, she’s come to love?

Amazon →

Thanks for being here today, Elysia. Can you tell us why you decided to write your book, A Promise in Ash?

At the time, I’d been writing science fiction fantasy books and holiday romance for two different series. But when I lost something very precious, a pregnancy we’d been hoping for, I was devastated. The purpose of my life as a woman suddenly felt empty. People I thought I could talk to, I suddenly couldn’t. So I turned to writing. But I couldn’t stand the thought of writing an entire book about my experience and shoved the prompt to the back of my mind, moving on with life. Then I met an extraordinary woman and heard her story of surviving abuse and finding freedom. It was then that I knew where I wanted this story to go.

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?

I started self-publishing sci-fi fantasy a few years ago. It was a fun story, and I was enjoying learning about the indie publishing process. It’s a lot of work, but since I didn’t have much experience, I didn’t think trying to publish traditionally was feasible. I started developing a marketing platform and kept writing.

I’ve got two series in the works. A Promise in Ash is my first stand-alone book. I plan to publish another single holiday romance title in December and complete the holiday romance series as well. I have twenty-five books in total intended for publication, but the ideas haven’t stopped.

What lessons do you feel you learned about the publishing industry?

If you take bite-sized chunks out of the marketing to-do list, it’s a lot less intimidating. You will have to have a plan and a place you regularly find readers.

Your number of followers can make a difference in how agents view your potential as a writer. As an indie, the more important thing is to have the few loyal people you can count on to deliver those first reviews and help spread the word about your books. They are your book’s lifeline. Be good to them.
I was pretty terrified the first time I clicked the publish button on Amazon. Then nothing happened, and I was disappointed. It’s an emotional rollercoaster in the beginning. At some point, you’ve gone over it enough times that it numbs you a bit. I still worry and wonder and lose sleep. But not like I used to.

There are a lot of wonderful books that are competing for that two second advertisement in front of a reader. You have to snag their attention fast. Our society’s pace increases every day, just as our patience decreases. We have to stay on top of everything. Indecision isn’t helpful. Try something. If it doesn’t work, mark it so and move on. A lot of the industry is trial and error because trends and interests are always changing.

If you had the chance to change something regarding how you got published, what would you change?

If I thought I wrote something worth querying, I’d try it. But I’m no Pierce Brown or Sabaa Tahir. I think it’d be a good experience to be traditionally published. I’d love to do a book signing and see one of my books in a brick and mortar store. I still prefer paperbacks to ebooks. But honestly, I’m content self-publishing. The goal is just to get the stories out there.

Did you credit any person or organization with helping you get published?

Jeni Chappelle is a fantastic freelance editor that helped me learn a lot about my writing in the beginning. She inspired me to start freelance editing myself. But no one helped me organize my writing system or format my books. I learned how to do everything myself through various classes, websites, and videos. A lot of the knowledge I have now came from trial and error too.

I did have a small press back home take a look at some of my work. They said I had potential, and they could help me edit it, etc. But a person I won’t name used a lot of elaborate words I didn’t know, and I left the meeting feeling a lot less intelligent. I should’ve had more confidence after completing two Bachelors Degrees. I think it was that moment that I figured out I could do it, but I needed to research a lot more before I tackled my first publication. So I feel like they motivated me, even though I never went through with publishing under their name.

What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?

Focus on the book first, before you worry about marketing or publishing platforms. Understand your genres and the expectations your readers will have. Avoid purple prose, adverbs, all caps, exclamation points, ellipses, and head-hopping.

Be confident in your writing. Don’t say, “He sort of looked like…” Tell the reader what he did look like. Also, avoid narrating what didn’t happen unless it is critical to reference it that way.

Narrate in a cause-and-effect manner. I see this one a lot when I’m editing first-time author’s work. Don’t say: He laughed because Sherry had mud on her face. Say: Sherry had mud on her face, and it made him laugh. Always keep things in chronological order if you can. Otherwise, the reader will have to work too hard to know what’s going on, and they’ll be likely to put the book down.

Don’t start with dreams, flashbacks, or scene-setting. Do start with the main character, the problem, and the stakes. Get to the point in the first paragraph if you can. Who wants what? Why can’t they have it? Why should the reader care? Always start and end chapters with hooks: leave a problem open-ended, something that you make apparent to the readers that you plan to solve later.

When your book is done, get it critiqued by other writers before moving on to serious edits you have to pay for.

Don’t rush the first book. Take your time. Learn everything you can. You don’t want to end up publishing and marketing a book that doesn’t hold up to reader expectations. It will start your author reputation off on a bad note. When your manuscript is ready, then worry about packaging, publishing, and marketing. Do your hard work justice with a stellar cover design. Remember, you have about two seconds to sell your book to readers as they scroll through pages with other books.
Get those things down, and you’ll be off to a great start!

Thanks for having me!

Best wishes!



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