Ashley L Jones is in my current author spotlight.
She is an author, speaker, and connoisseur of cast-iron and has written an amazing book called, “Modern Cast-Iron packed full of tips and tricks, and brings the reader back to the joys of cooking with cast-iron. She’s also a big sister with a fun website called bigsisterknows.com. Her site is filled with lots of information for her readers. She’s also the author of The Little Lambs books for children. I’m excited to spotlight her on this month’s author spotlight. So lean in close and check out this month’s author.
Q. Share a little about the book, Faith and Freedom and about your award-winning article in this anthology and the inspiration for your article and how your faith influenced its creation.
Faith and Freedom (Living Parables of Central Florida, 2018) is an inspirational anthology of stories, devotions, and poems on what it means to have faith and freedom, whether that be spiritual, personal, or political freedom. I’m honored that my award-winning article, “A Godly Response to the Sins of Our Fathers,” is included in this collection. We live in a time marked by division, anarchy, and fear, so I think it’s critical for us Christians to seek God’s wisdom in everything we do.
Q. You also have another book called Modern Cast Iron. It looks very informative. Tell us more about the inspiration for this book and where you gained your love for cast-iron cooking.
My mother-in-law, Mary Frances, uses cast iron on a daily basis. When I first went to her house, I was amazed at the pot roast, peas, beans, potatoes, and other delicacies, all lovingly made in big cast-iron pans and Dutch ovens. It brought back fond memories of my childhood and made me nostalgic for a simpler time with family gathered around the table.
My husband’s parents gave me my first cast-iron pieces, and I enjoyed cooking in them. But it wasn’t until I realized the health benefits of cast iron—that it releases iron into the food but none of the metals and chemicals that other cookware can leach—that I began using cast iron on a daily basis.
It took me a while to figure out how to properly clean and season my pans and how to translate my favorite recipes so they would work in cast iron. I started sharing this info with friends and family, and it wasn’t long before I realized that there was a need for a book on cast iron that was written for home cooks from a home cook perspective. Thus was born Modern Cast Iron: The Complete Guide to Selecting, Seasoning, Cooking, and More (Red Lightning Books, 2020).
Q. How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a writer and what were some of the influencing novels or writers that gave you a love of writing? In some of our conversations you mentioned how much you enjoy a good suspense. Share more about this and why we don’t see a good suspense from Ashley L. Jones out there? Who are some of your favorite writers?
I have always been a book nerd. Even as a kid I would willingly pick up the biggest, densest book I could find, from biographies to fiction. I enjoyed writing but didn’t pursue it as a career until 2015 when I attended my first writers conference.
You’re right, though; I do love a good suspense because it presents such a great opportunity to showcase good versus evil. Dean Koontz is one of my favorite authors (suspense or otherwise) because he deftly defies most conventional writing rules—his books are genre-bending, his writing style is poetic, and his characters are memorable.
I have worked on a suspense book myself on and off over the past few years. It’s a clean/Christian suspense about a family that is under spiritual attack and how they have to muster their spiritual gifts to survive. Writing fiction is quite different than writing nonfiction, so this project allows me to exercise different creative muscles, but it also poses its own challenges. I have no idea when I’ll be able to finish this one, but I do hope to share it with the world some day.
Q. I know you also love to write children’s books and inform and educate the tweens and teens, and you also have a little one. Tell us more about what you are working on and where you see this area of writing going for you.
Even before I had my son Gordon, who is now almost two years old, I loved writing children’s books. I’m a firm believer that a kid who loves to read has the whole world at his fingertips. And, as a Christian, I know how important it is for children to be exposed to the faith so they can develop a strong foundation. That’s why I enjoy writing faith-based books for kids.
My first series, “Big Answers,” debuts Fall of 2021 with Who is God? This series, published by Little Lamb Books, will cover the big faith questions little kids ask through fun stories of animals on a farm. I’m so excited to share these important topics with kids around the world!
Q. Share more about Girls with Gusto and some of the other things you have going on, such as your blog, books.
Girls with Gusto is the working title for my faith-based nonfiction manuscript for young women. I’ve studied the spiritual journey for years, and I’ve identified eight major steps (or learning opportunities) that all Christians go through. This book is designed to help young women identify where they are in their walk and then move forward so they can be the person God created them to be. I don’t have a publisher for this project yet, but I’m hoping to find a home for it soon.
In the meantime, I continue to share what I learn on my blog, BigSisterKnows.com. There, you’ll find faith-based posts alongside tips on cooking with cast iron—a little something for everyone!
Q. What is currently happening in your life concerning family, career, and the writing process? What do you find is the most difficult challenge within the writing and publishing world? Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
We had a great release for Modern Cast Iron last month—yay! I’m still busy sharing tips and recipes on my website, doing interviews, and writing articles for other websites and magazines. It’s been so nice to share this project with the world.
As for new projects, I’m a contributor to the new book by Cyle Young and Michelle Medlock Adams, Writing and Selling Children’s Books in the Christian Market (New Hope Publishers, November 2020). I also have three devotions coming out in a new devotional by Little Lamb Books, which is scheduled for January 2021. Then my “Big Answers” series should begin in the Fall of 2021 with Who is God?.
I have lots of new ideas for children’s books and nonfiction for adults, but my time is very limited now that I have a rambunctious toddler. I always try to be on the lookout for opportunities God provides, but I think I might be entering a time that’s more focused on family than writing...and that’s not a bad thing.
Q. You sound deeply passionate about your faith, family, your writing, and about those you serve within your writing. From the testimonials on your site, it sounds like you are a mentor and your teachings are an inspiration for many. Share how you balance your life, work, and passions without getting overwhelmed with it all.
Who says I’m not overwhelmed? Seriously, any time you try to have a career and a family, it can be taxing. I’m trying to be prayerful right now to make sure I’m putting my time where God wants it to be. If we’ve learned anything from Covid-19, it’s that life is short. I want to make the most of my time by being exactly where God wants me to be, doing exactly the things He wants me to do.
Ashley L. Jones is an author and blogger, but she prefers the title of Big Sister. A firm believer that we all know something worth sharing, she started the blog Big Sister Knows as a way to encourage other young women to live with gusto. Her recent release, Modern Cast Iron (Red Lightning Books, 2020), and her upcoming children’s series “Big Answers” (Little Lamb Books, 2021), are a continuation of that mission. Ashley lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with her uber-patient hubby and one busy toddler. Find your encouragement and follow Ashley’s journey at BigSisterKnows.com.
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