“Buy Me a Cup of Coffee, Get a Free Short Story” Price

Be one of the first to order my short story!

It’s short enough that you can actually read it before forgetting it’s on your phone.

This story is a prequel to my next series and sharing this will keep me motivated to publish book 1. 

Keep it Straightforward, Simpleton cover

Almost Smooch Time


My favorite part of editing is when it feels more like writing about history than deciding the future of the story. I no longer am deciding what will happen, just making sure the story that happened it told as it is meant to be.


That is where I am with the prequel. I can’t wait to share it with you.

Guest Blogger: Sherri Lupton-Hollister

When I first read about the Chairperson of Eastern North Carolina’s oldest writers group, she described herself as shy and using the medium of stories to gain courage. Yet in meetings she has a way of making members feel at ease and a confidence in her place as leader. It reminds me we’re all dealing with our internal struggles. Her bibliography is impressive and I feel lucky to have her guidance on a subject I have no experience in: cover reveals.

Promos/Cover Reveals

By: Sherri Lupton-Hollister

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One of the ways an author might gain interest in an upcoming book is to host a cover reveal party. There are several groups that will help you do this. I use Bed and Books. You can do this on your own with the help of writer and reader friends. Here’s a couple of tips.

First: plan the cover reveal just before launching your book or right before opening up pre-orders. You can use Canva or Bookbrush to help hide the cover eliciting excitement. 

Second: If you’re not using a promo group like Bed and Books, then ask your friends, beta readers, advanced ARC readers, etc. to help you promote the book. Give them a job to do but keep it easy. 

Example: for your ARC, advanced readers have them post their reviews on social media along with graphics you prepare ahead of time. Give them a date or set of dates in which to post. Remember to use hashtags especially on Instagram and Twitter.

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Third: Design graphics with your cover at different degrees of hidden like a stripper teasing the audience. Add blurbs, synopsis, and one-line quotes from your book. You could even do a character reveal. Some authors choose favorite actors to portray their characters and add this to their promo. Use something specific to your story to hide your cover, like books for a librarian heroine or baked goods for one who worked in a bakery. You could use a gift box or even just a bow. How about flames for a firefighter or a simple paper covering?

Fourth: if you have read a book that resonates with your own novel, say “If you loved J D Robb’s In Death series, you’ll enjoy The Leeward Files series.” 

Fifth: Reveal the cover and give the audience a command. Pre-orders are now available, don’t miss your chance to know what happens next in the town of Leeward. Or if your book is out, Go to your favorite eBook retailer and get Red Steel, the final book in The Leeward Files series. 

I hope these ideas helped. Canva and Bookbrush both have a free trial issue. I have been using both for several years. I love Bookbrush for my print book covers and Canva for easy to do ads.

more information about Sherri can be found on her website: https://sherrilhollister.com

The Next Chapter (of Availability)

Virtue Chasm on the Local Author shelf of The Next Chapter Books and Art

Nicholas Sparks fans will recognize the city of New Bern from our city’s famous author.

Now Ashley Crookham fans can get a copy of Virtue Chasm from the shelves of The Next Chapter Books and Art on Front Street. Stroll in on your next visit and enjoy!

Close up of Virtue Chasm on the shelf of The Next Chapter Books and Art


No, it’s not national.

No, we’re not writing a whole novel.

We are writing every day.

For the month of November.

My writing friend and I choose this month to get back into the daily habit of writing. Each of us prepared in October and checked in daily with each other to talk about how our commitment was going. Some things I learned:

  1. writing every day conflicts with exercising before work, using my lunch break to work on family matters, or going to bed on time. each day is a choice of which of those to sacrifice
  2. writing without a word goal makes me hesitate to write as much, and do too much editing as I am writing. this is benefit of NaNoWriMo where the goal is quantity over quality
  3. writing is difficult and requires continual improvement. it doesn’t happen by accident
  4. writing is the thing that makes me feel like my life is complete and I’m doing something for me

I now have 15000 words for book one of my series. Who knows what December could bring.

Coming Out of the COVID Closet

When I first heard about COVID-19, it was a horrific issue but “over there”. So much has changed since January. As someone who had it and survived it, this is what I’ve learned.


I realize when I tell you I had it, you might take a mental step back from me. I would too. I am pregnant and with two small children and I never wanted to endanger them.

Author Ashley Crookham in covid-19 ppe

We went through the normal steps getting used to the pandemic: The life-changing grocery store visit with scary bare shelves where I couldn’t find baby detergent and didn’t know what to do for my child with eczema. This is not the world I’m used to, one where I can get anything I want at any time.

The library’s story time was just a story and they closed the imagination station.

Restaurants posted their struggles to survive without full dining rooms.

Every business I ever subscribed to sent me e-mails to let me know they cared most about safety.

The car seat specialist cancelled our appointment the same day as the baby dentist.

We had our last trip to the store with the me and the kids. I wore one child and kept the other in the cart chair and got mad when an older man touched her leg.

Life continued. The kids got used to hearing “the zoo is closed”, “the slide is dirty”, “the guest room has to stay empty”. The weather improved and we took walks whenever we could.


Unlike many people, I know the date I got it. I work in a psychiatric hospital. We found out a co-worker tested positive and our managers told us how to get tested for free. I did so on a Friday. The next day, I went into work for a half day and found out at the end of the day most of the patients tested positive or were showing symptoms. I called my doctor who recommended I isolate myself and my family. The first test from before my exposure came back negative. I got tested again the following Friday and it came back positive. Actually, it said “detected”.

I still worry about the fate of those patients. Although I got it and had no symptoms, a nurse co-worker was not so lucky. She died in the hospital after a few days of battling COVID-19.


So what does a positive test mean for my family?

I knew that the placenta does a good job of protecting the baby from viruses but they just don’t know everything when it comes to pregnancy and COVID-19. I knew as a pregnant woman my immune system was more susceptible which is probably how I got it while wearing an N-95 mask, gloves, and washing my hands appropriately.

Work knew we were isolating, daycare knew I was being cautious and pulling the kids, I cancelled newly rescheduled appointments for places opening back up. We told our families to pause their plans brewing to visit the grandchildren they haven’t seen all year.

In short, we lost what we had been accumulating back.

Since I wasn’t having symptoms, it was less likely I would give it to my family. However we needed to extend our quarantine to see if any of them got it. We needed to wake up every day, take our small children’s temperatures, and just hope they didn’t get sick. For another 12 days.

No one in our family got symptoms. My husband got tested after being cleared back to work and that came back negative as another peace of mind.

For our unborn baby, it meant I needed a special ultrasound with a fetal maternal specialist. This came back so well that the doctor didn’t even see us. He sent in his nurse practitioner to tell us our baby is perfect and they don’t want to follow up.

For the future, the Department of Health is tracking us, especially me as a pregnant woman. They will probably test me again before I give birth in a hospital (and not at a birth center this time). The positive reading can take months to go away after it is first detected. They also don’t know if you can contract it more than once.


I am thankful not to have had symptoms. I am thankful I immediately isolated and didn’t pass it on. I am hopeful about antibodies and that maybe our youngest will be immune or less susceptible. I am hopeful I will no longer be showing positive before the delivery and that my first hospital delivery will not be too bad.


How will this will affect my writing? You might be thinking I’ve had so much more time for it. However I spent a lot of time worrying, cleaning, and worrying about not enough cleaning. Keeping the kids occupied while we were keeping away from others took a lot of thought, especially without making money from work to spend on them or without the ability to go to stores. We picked up groceries after ordering online.

I can’t say that a world changed by COVID-19 won’t make an appearance in my future works. It seems to me as indelible as a world war and would be stranger to ignore. I can’t even read lately without thinking, “What if this had been written after 2020?”


How do you think this pandemic will affect your reading and writing?

The Cover Game

(This post has been delayed due to Covid-19. I’m thrilled to finally be able to share it.)



I spent a lovely afternoon with my husband at a book store.


When we finally found the books there the game began.


The Cover Game

What can you tell from a book cover? If you know the book, what makes sense about the cover? If you don’t know the book, what do you guess the story is about?

What clues to genre does the cover give off? Is the book meant to inform or entertain more?

Do only established authors get to put their names on top of the title? Do certain fonts express credibility?

Most interesting to me was the branding of an author. How can you tell it’s from a particular person? Do an author’s books all have something in common? I want to compliment V. E. Schwab on the use of the first letter of her first name in her book covers. It struck me and I’ve since become a reader and fan.

If you’re ever again able to browse in a bookstore, here in Indiana or elsewhere, it is a fun exercise and will give you much to think about.


What will my covers have in common?

From now on, I will always make sure my covers convey the visual arrows I want potential readers to have. As far as cohesiveness, they will all be painted by my true love.

Virtue Chasm by Ashley Crookham cover art painting

Have you ever played the cover game? What did you learn?