The Old Ashleigh is Dead

That’s a super dramatic title and half-stolen from Taylor Swift but in a way, it’s true.

When I first published The Heaven Corporation, I had to ask myself the question “How do I want to market myself as an author and what persona should I convey online in order to execute that marketing strategy effectively?” I studied what other self-published authors were doing. I looked to successful published relatives and paid attention to what they were doing in order to develop my own online identity. I thought if I could just do things exactly like them, that I’d be on my way to success.

The trouble is when you’re spending so much time trying to be like someone else, you forget how to be yourself.

The A.A. Frias you’ve come to know online isn’t really me. Well, it is a little bit of me, but it’s only a tiny little piece. The truth is, I am so much more than your standard cookie-cutter indie author who tweets inspirational quotes and likes cats, coffee and, of course, books. In fact, the rest of me probably doesn’t jive with your idea of a published author at all, which is why I tried to hide those aspects of myself for a long time.

Confession Time!

  • I do love to read but there are days where I would rather binge-watch a full season of Riverdale on Netflix than pick up a book.
  • I get most of my ideas for novels from video games and television shows, not from life experience or some grand epiphany that dawned on me while backpacking across Europe.
  • I am obsessed with The Sims, Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons, and Dragon Age. My 3DS is my baby and if my PC died on me, I would cry from The Sims withdrawals.
  • I love pop music and I especially love Taylor Swift most of all. I absolutely lose my mind whenever she releases new music or does something exciting. Team Swiftie since 2006! She’s gotten me through some really difficult times in my life that I didn’t think I’d live to talk about later. In fact, she even inspired this blog post and gave me the courage to do away with the “old A.A. Frias.”
  • I like to think I have at least proficient command of the English language. It’s kind of a job requirement, but that doesn’t mean you won’t catch me using slang like “lit,” “extra,” “on point,” and “bae,” during a casual conversation. I’m fascinated by slang and how fast our language changes and adapts in the digital age. I like to embrace the new trends while they’re around.
  • I have a really foul mouth. Woops.
  • I spend way too much of my free time playing mobile games. It’s kind of a problem.
  • I don’t care much for books outside the YA or fantasy/sci-fi genres. Books based in the real world with no fantasy element to them have a hard time keeping my interest. There are exceptions, of course. I won’t immediately write off a book that isn’t a YA fantasy or sci-fi, but those genres are what I get the most excited about reading.
  • I love makeup. I spend a lot of time getting that winged eyeliner just right and my lips just the right shade of Taylor Swift red. Nail art, new makeup lines at Sephora? You name it, I’m probably drooling over it or running out to buy it.

Now none of these things necessarily make me “special.” In fact, I feel like a lot of these things just make me your stereotypical 20-something-year-old millennial, but these are also things that people don’t generally correlate with being an author. There is still this ludicrous, yet pervasive myth that if you enjoy mainstream things or identify with what’s popular, that you’re not very intelligent and couldn’t possibly do something like write a great novel, because only “sophisticated” people do that sort of thing. I feel like that’s a really harmful myth that discourages a lot of people from trying to do something amazing (like write a book, for example).

It was this myth that made me censor myself on social media. I stuck with what was safe. Books. Cats. Coffee. Quotes. I didn’t dare fangirl over Taylor Swift’s new song or take a selfie with a new makeup style or talk about the video games I was playing or the TV shows I was obsessed with. In essence, I stifled about 90% of me and believe me, I felt stifled. I felt like a preprogrammed robot with no interests or voice of my own.

By trying to fit in with the crowd, I got lost in the crowd.

But I’m not going to do that anymore. It isn’t fair to me and it isn’t fair to you. If you care enough about me and my work to buy my books, follow me on social media and read this blog, you deserve to get to know me. The real me.

In the words of Dr. Seuss

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

I look forward to being more true to myself on social media and I hope you’re looking forward to getting to know me better, too.

P.S: Oh, and Taylor? Thanks for making me do what I needed to do.

Where’s your 66 Days to Create a Writing Habit series?

Check the blog next week for more on that! I’m still hanging in there with that project.

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