Ashley M. Coleman is a freelance writer and music executive from Philadelphia. Working in the music industry for over 10 years, she has also written for Essence, The Cut, Apartment Therapy, and GRAMMY.com, among others. In 2017, she launched a writing community for BIPOC writers entitled Permission to Write. Ashley currently lives in Los Angeles. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.
In this post, Ashley discusses how a decade in the music industry led her to write her debut novel, Good Morning, Love, the importance of writing rituals to her process, and more!
Name: Ashley M. Coleman
Literary agent: Jessica Reino, Metamorphosis Literary Agency
Book title: Good Morning, Love
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: June 21, 2022
Elevator pitch for the book: For fans of My (Not So) Perfect Life and Jasmine Guillory’s While We Were Dating, a disarmingly fun debut novel follows Carlisa Henton as her life comes undone after a chance meeting with a rising pop star.
What prompted you to write this book?
For me, Good Morning, Love was like the debut I’ve been writing all my life. Working in and around music for the last 10 years plus, I’ve always been inspired by the characters and events around me, so I feel like I was always writing it from the first day I stepped into a studio many years ago.
But the actual catalyst for this iteration of the story was applying for a writing fellowship. There was a 20-page writing sample required and although I didn’t get into the fellowship, I wanted to see where the story went, so I just kept writing.
How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?
I started the book in 2017 and here we are publishing in 2022. So much of the core of the story held. However, in any great relationship with an editor, you make it better. We wanted to punch up more of the secondary storyline and create a bit more tension. We did the important work of making it the most dynamic and interesting story it could be.
Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?
As a debut author, I think the whole publishing process has been a learning moment. So often, we only see the finished product and it was great as both a writer and a reader to see behind the curtain a bit. To know that the best books really are a collaborative effort.
It was also interesting for my story to fall into the romance space. Although the love story is absolutely central to the book, I felt like its exploration of career, friendship, and family might land it in women’s fiction. While I think romance readers will certainly get their fill, I hope they’re open to a love story that covers a lot of bases.
Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?
In writing this book, I realized how helpful it could be to create a great environment for your writing process. I created a writing playlist which automatically helped me get into the mindset of the story and the characters. I would always light incense or a candle with one of my favorite scents. Lavender, sandalwood, amber.
It became crucial in the revision process when we were stuck at home due to the pandemic. In creating small rituals around writing, I could transport myself out of the same four walls I’d been looking at and into this world of make believe.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
I hope readers get to see what strong female friendship looks like. I want them to see Black male characters that are flawed but loved. I hope they get insight into some of the challenges women face within a male-dominated field like the music industry but also what the will to persevere looks like. I want them to feel as warm and inspired by love as I feel when I read great love stories or watch some of my favorite couples on screen.
If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?
Writing is about process. So often we think we’ll have this inordinate amount of time to write and that’s just not the case for most of us with busy lives. So much of my early draft came together in 30-minute writing sessions. I would set a timer, turn off all the distractions, put the phone on DND, and get to work. It was more about consistency and discipline.
Also, there is a lot of writing that takes place off the page. We beat ourselves up about word count, but I think a lot before I ever write anything down. Our experiences, thinking, all of that is so important to our writing process. Don’t be afraid to count it all as writing, I guess! There’s even a Twitter account that says so.