Home > NewsRelease > Unveiling Creativity: Meet Ashley Parker Owens - A Dual MFA Artist, Poet, and Appalachian Writer, Nominated for the 2021 Pushcar
Unveiling Creativity: Meet Ashley Parker Owens - A Dual MFA Artist, Poet, and Appalachian Writer, Nominated for the 2021 Pushcar
Norm Goldman --  BookPleasures.com Norm Goldman -- BookPleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal, Quebec
Saturday, July 22, 2023

Bookpleasures.com is thrilled to introduce Ashley Parker Owens, a talented creative force hailing from Richmond, Kentucky. Ashley is passionate about AI and has an insatiable appetite for exploring story ideas.

With dual MFA degrees in Creative Writing and Visual Arts, Ashley’s mind is a melting pot of creativity and imagination. Her unique perspective as an Appalachian writer, poet, and artist adds depth and richness to her work.

Ashley’s talent and wit have earned her recognition in the literary world, including a 2021 Pushcart Prize nomination.

Her tenacity and distinct voice set her apart, making her a standout in literature. When she’s not weaving fantastical tales or digitally painting vibrant masterpieces, Ashley thrives in her hometown.

We can’t wait to delve into her creative process and explore the fascinating world of art and literature through her eyes. Join us on an insightful journey with the one and only Ashley Parker Owens!

Norm: Good day Ashley and thanks for taking part in our interview.

Your book, How to Construct Chat AI Prompts to Help You Write Your Novel sounds fascinating! Could you give us an overview of what inspired you to write this manual?

Ashley: I’ve always been a technical nerd. I embraced the earliest computer with the huge floppy disks you had to keep switching out to load the basic operating systems, then moved on to the internet delivered over phone lines.

I started my career in tech support at a university, using technology to help individuals with disabilities, and I use tech tools to overcome my shortcomings.

I’ve mostly self-studied, and I’ve always been interested in how to use technology to assist with personal deficiencies.

I’m not the greatest writer in the world, even though I would like to be. I enjoy using AI when I am stuck or need a quick scene, and I use grammar checkers and AI tools to rewrite sentences.

I have a tendency not to enjoy writing the filler scenes, and it seems like a magical thing to be able to use AI for a big jump forward.

So many of my story ideas are shiny when they first pop into my head, and months and thousands of words later, I finally discover my basic premise was flawed.

Using AI, you can generate many story ideas and work through them quickly. I may have thirty or forty thousand words that AI generated over a weekend.

You can see the story more clearly because you haven’t invested as much time. It isn’t as viable as I thought. I can just set the idea aside.

It’s pretty easy to let go of it. If I had worked on it for a few months, I doubt I could have set it aside without feeling a loss.

It is hard not to feel you’ve wasted your time, but I can see it more clearly if the AI has done the bulk of the work. I don’t get stuck in a sunk cost fallacy loop if I’m not as emotionally invested in the story.

Norm: How do you believe AI technology can assist and enhance the writing process for authors.

Ashley: Most grammar and editing programs rewrite your text using AI now. A lot of writers don’t realize they are already using AI.

The image software programs like Photoshop, Painter, or Paintshop Pro also use AI to create better images.

As far as direct interaction with ChatGPT, once you learn how the prompts work, you can use AI in several ways.

You can have a conversation with AI asking for a setting location that meets your story requirements or have it provide a list of characters.

AI can offer a list of story premises, add subplots to existing stories, rewrite texts using a different tone or style of writing, or from a unique character’s POV.

You can use AI to analyze your text’s structure, grammar, or spelling, ask it to rewrite passages to change the prose from first person to third, or write in the present tense rather than past.

That is quite a time saver if you experiment with different writing styles before making a final decision. AI can also help with synopses, query letters, and book blurbs.

Generating marketing materials is the least interesting part of the writing process, IMO, and AI does a great job with promotional copy.

Norm: Have you used AI prompts in your writing journey? If so, could you share an example of how these prompts have helped you to develop a story or idea?

Ashley: I mostly use ChatGPT and Sudowrite when working on novels. I prefer ChatGPT to develop story ideas and list possible plot points.

It spits out ideas, and by seeing random thoughts on the screen, I can pick items that more closely align with my vision.

I use Sudowrite to bring in more sensory description and dialogue or make it more ‘show vs. tell.’

It can also shorten or expand prose if I am worried about pacing. If I need more suspense, increasing the scene’s length works to ramp up the tension. That is valuable in a first draft.

I also like to use AI when trying to tell a story from multiple points of view. AI can help me steer a personality or offer a character’s thoughts from various POVs.

Another valuable learning experience is to ask the AI to rewrite your prose in the style of Haruki Murakami, Vladimir Nabokov, and Neil Gaiman, then examine and study the text’s sentence structure and description.

I rarely use AI once I have a solid first draft. At that point, I am happy to look at the words on paper and concentrate on voice and flow.

Over time, I will work and rework novels, and they will eventually be clearly in my own voice.

Norm: Writing a novel can be a deeply personal and unique journey for each writer. How do you balance offering AI-generated prompts and encouraging individual creativity and expression?

Ashley: I’m not worried about ethics when using AI. I use AI for editing grammar, bouncing ideas, and creating rough drafts. More story ideas emerge as characters are added or omitted.

I have worried about plagiarism or stealing ideas, but it has not been an issue, and there are plagiarism and AI-generated checkers online if you start to worry.

I have some concerns about the accusation of not putting in effort and using AI ideas as my own, but I think these are old-fashioned threats.

After all, no ideas are entirely new. It is about how you decide to pursue lines of thought.

Every idea generated in my mind arises from the thousands of books I read in my youth and probably from the TV shows and movies I have watched.

It is more efficient when AI captures all the books ever posted digitally and spits out ideas.

Sometimes the AI offers overused tropes or wordy unwieldy sentences that need to be discarded because it is a different time, and writing has evolved over the years.

Novels nowadays need to be dramatic and concise. There isn’t as much navel-gazing by the characters, as much as I enjoy that in books.

Norm: Some writers might be hesitant to embrace AI technology in their creative process. What would you say to those who have reservations about incorporating AI-generated prompts into their writing routines?

Ashley: We worried about computers, the internet, and ebooks. It’s okay to experiment with new tools! I’ve received nasty comments about using grammar checkers.

The person thought it was deceptive to make others believe your writing skills are better than they are.

And many people oppose self-publishing because they believe bypassing traditional publishing gatekeepers is unfair.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions and judgments, but I don’t need to hold my creative endeavors to a standard I don’t believe in.

Everyone feared publishers would no longer want to print expensive paper books when ebooks came along because no one would buy them.

That didn’t happen. Now we gleefully grab those ebooks, audiobooks, and paperbacks.

Norm: Are there any specific success stories or feedback from writers who have used AI prompts that stand out to you? How has this technology positively affected their writing endeavors?

Ashley: I’ve discovered a whole new group of writers joyfully using AI to write. It is a tool, nothing more. Using AI is an unfamiliar experience that provides a roller coaster of ideas.

From what I’ve observed, some writers embrace this tool because it is a lot of fun, speeds up idea generation, and makes the writing process quicker.

As for myself, I have found that AI is sometimes very general and bland. You have to provide specific details that give some ‘meat’ for the AI to take off and throw out unique ideas.

Sometimes, the AI takes off in weird directions. For instance, I was drafting a novel for middle grade, and my protagonist was a 13-year-old girl living on a farm, exploring her magical abilities.

The AI suddenly placed her in a navy seal operation.

While I appreciate that jump of creativity, it was utterly unworkable for my story, and I had to return to the story beats and rework them so that it could generate a scene more in line with my original concept.

I find it frustrating when my story ‘jumps the shark,’ but the surprises can spin your thoughts in new directions.

Norm: Your background in both Creative Writing and Visual Arts seems diverse and fascinating. How has this interdisciplinary experience influenced your approach to writing and creating

content for this manual?

Ashley: I make book covers or other visual notes (like example characters) because it helps me see it while acting as a vision board for manifesting future success.

I enjoy searching out images or photos of people as possible character models and clipping interesting architectural pictures for use as settings.

As for merging art and writing, I’ve been a web and book designer. I enjoy coding ebooks and laying out print interiors.

I enjoy making book covers, too, but I have found that once I have a visual mockup, I’m better off leaving it to the professionals.

In my creative endeavors, I usually write or make art, but not simultaneously. For some reason, my muse flops back and forth between the two.

I may work on writing for a year, then spend a few months making images. I have explored the AI equivalent of ChatGPT for visual illustrations and have used MidJourney to explore image creation.

I find MidJourney challenging to work with if you have an image in your mind.

It is surprisingly good at generating random pictures, but to direct the AI, you need a background in art history, graphics and illustration, camera and lighting settings, and imaging software.

Norm: What challenges did you encounter while writing this book? How did you overcome them, and what did you learn from the experience?

Ashley: My challenges, other than learning about ChatGPT as I wrote the manual, were primarily technical.

This manual used three different types of fonts to increase readability. I have many examples, and I needed to let readers scan the material for what might be helpful to their journey.

The prompts are in monospace, the chat output is in italics, and the book text is in a standard font.

Getting the different fonts to play together in print isn’t tricky, but coding an ebook with different fonts is quite a stressful adventure. I started as a web designer, so I don’t

mind messing around with the code, but it was frustrating.

Norm: Writing technology continues to develop rapidly. Do you see a future where AI becomes an indispensable part of a writer’s toolkit? What do you think the future holds for AI and its role

in the creative process?

Ashley: Most writers don’t realize the standard writing tools that help with spelling, grammar, and diagnostic tools use AI.

I still don’t have a good handle on grammar, so I learn something daily from Grammarly and ProWritingAid.

It makes the writing process faster when generating first drafts. If you can let AI write the less interesting filler scenes, it removes writer’s block.

There have been a lot of changes for writers over the years, and moving from a typewriter to editing on the computer was a massive leap in productivity.

Access to unlimited knowledge on the internet was the first explosion of knowledge. When I was in grade school, there was no internet.

Norm: Throughout your writing career, you’ve had multiple failed novels and have also been recognized as a 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee.

How have these experiences shaped your perspective on the writing process, and did they affect the creation of this manual?

Ashley: I think the issue for me is one of humility.

I’ve worked so hard, and I find it worthwhile to recognize that I probably spent fifteen years on my first fantasy series that no one apparently wants to read.

While some might consider that a tremendous waste of time, reframing it as a learning experience is helpful. The marketability of the books failed; however, I enjoyed writing

the stories and finished the series so I could move on to different genres.

I am blessed with ambition and a need to fill my days with engaging, imaginative thoughts, so I try not to worry about the success or failure of individual projects.

Norm: Can you share any future projects or writing endeavors you are currently working on or planning to pursue?

Ashley: I always have several novels in progress at a time. I have been trying to experiment with different genres and reading levels.

Currently, I am writing a three-book middle-grade fantasy novel series about a girl struggling to embrace a magical legacy,

an urban fantasy novel about a supernatural retirement home told from multiple points of view, and a techno-thriller taking place in a cryptocurrency mine in the mountains of Alaska.

My next non-fiction venture is about using segues and cliffhangers across various genres.

Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your work?

Ashley: MY PERSONAL WEBSITE. Find my most recent visual images from MidJourney in my Redbubble store HERE.

Norm: As we end our interview, is there any additional advice or encouragement you would like to offer aspiring writers who may consider using AI prompts to enhance their creativity and storytelling?

Ashley: Don’t be afraid to jump in and try it! It’s much easier to use than people realize, almost like bouncing around ideas with a writer’s group.

Norm: Thanks once again.

 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Norm Goldman
Title: Book Reviewer
Group: bookpleasures.com
Dateline: Montreal, QC Canada
Direct Phone: 514-486-8018
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