Double Decker Books Contests and Giveaways

Hey all!

So, going on RIGHT NOW–literally, as we speak–is Double Decker Books’ 1,000 Followers Facebook party. It’s an event that benefits readers, fangirls, and authors by giving away prizes like free copies of books, services from their website, and so much more! “Chasing Shadows” is one of the giveaway prizes, and I am totally jazzed about this fact. Be sure to win your own copy of it and TONS of other awesome reads. 

The party is going on now until 6pm today (Saturday, September 20th), so there are plenty of chances to win. 

Follow the link to join, and don’t forget to invite your friends!

https://www.facebook.com/events/586855581436970/

A Masterpiece by His Hand…

green water lake in forest

My 125th post on this blog is kind of a big deal for me, and I didn’t want to just give you a quick update or an amusing tidbit for the week (stay tuned for the 126th, though). Today I wanted to write about something that, I feel, is meaningful right now and that I believe quite a few of us are going through. Don’t let my lack of humor deter you, though; I have a point, I promise, and I really feel that everyone should read today’s musings. It’s also going to be a longer one, so stay with me!

I saw something a couple of weeks ago that I found a tad disturbing. Someone put a post on Facebook about how it’s not perverted boys that the world and the church should be worrying themselves over, but rather we should direct our concern to the twenty-something girls still living at home without any current marriage prospects. I have to be honest and say that this really upset my sisters and I for many reasons, one of which was because most of us are in our twenties and we’re all still living at home. It was a little offensive to find that someone we were very close to thought so poorly of us and our “situation.” And it wasn’t so much an issue that we aren’t, at the moment, involved with anyone, but the problem lay in the fact that our standards kept us from picking just anyone . . . and it seemed anyone would do for the sake of having someone, because it appeared that our worth was only in snaring a man.

Wow. Never thought I’d be crucified for having standards. Crazy beans!

fearfully and wonderfully

Anyway, the more I thought about it, the more irritated I became—I got over my own personal offense pretty quickly, but so many other girls had seen this and were heartbroken over their “loser” status. Right now the idea is so prevalent, in the church especially, that men and women have to be married by 21 because, according to that Facebook post, a woman’s only worth is in marriage and having kids. Now, please don’t misunderstand me—being a mom is the hardest job in the world and incredibly important. My problem lies in the fact that people are telling every single girl that if she does not have a husband and 2.2 kids before she turns 25, she is worth nothing, she is nothing.

Is this really what you want to teach your daughters? That they have no worth?

To be quite frank with you, this is a horrible notion that draws girls away from God when they believe that a relationship with some guy is all He wants of them and that He doesn’t think they’re worth anything if their status says “single.”

god know me and love me

I responded to this post (with unusual calm for me) that I have standards and am finding my worth in God, getting confident in my relationship in Him first, and it appeared this was also a concern—that He would meddle in our lives or think we are worth more than our duty to pro-create.

Ladies, and guys, too! You are worth more to God than you could ever fathom, and He wants HIS best plan for your life, not what other people tell you should come of your days. This generation is full of such low self-esteem that we should be reassuring one another that we are worth more than what others tell them and encourage them to have standards. I don’t mean blond hair, baby blues, 6’4, built like Thor criteria. I mean standards and values that keep you from entering into a relationship with someone—out of low self-worth—who will draw you from God and that would result in an unhappy marriage. Why do you think the divorce rate is so high in America? Because we’re telling everyone that you’re only worthwhile to the world if you have someone by your side this instance.

waiting

Well, I ALWAYS have Someone by my side. Whatever may come of my life—career, husband, family, international espionage—I want to live my life right now for God and stop worrying about a future that I can’t predict and cease fretting over the opinions of people who shouldn’t matter. I’m living my present for God, and I want to spend the rest of my days discovering just how much He thinks I’m worth the wait. And remember: God is never late; we’re just impatient. 

be with you always

Below are a TON of verses that my friends and I compiled to encourage each other— and now you all, too!—that God sees us as more than pawns and that he care about our present AND our future. Lift someone up this week and share these words, verses, and even this post if you think it will encourage them. And never forget what a gem you are! ^_^

delight yourself in the lord

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know the plans hair on your head

seasons of waiting

God's own image

chosen and loved

You are

END

The Indispensable Author’s Arsenal

Writer header

I’ve been writing like the dickens lately—school and fun related—so I apologize for my negligence, Sweet Readers! Good news for you loyal fans, though: I literally just received the final edited copy of “Chasing Shadows”!!!!!! Huzzah! I have until Friday to look over the final edits and give the okay for the book to be printed, so it’s a bit of a race against the clock right now. . . . Hmm, much like Sarah in “Chasing Shadows.” Although, if I fail, a medieval kingdom won’t fall into the hands of a bloodthirsty ruler or unravel the very fabric of time and history, so I think I got the better end of the deal. ;-)

Because of this, I’m in crack-down mode again and have basically spent until 1am the past two nights poring over the manuscript and making sure everything is copacetic It’s a little scary to know that this will be the last time I get to make corrections to and improve the sequel, but I’m giving this one up to God, guys (don’t worry; I haven’t forgotten my post about letting God take control from a while back). It has also been incredibly exciting to be inspired to write or add things to Book III in the Shadow Trilogy because of something I read in “Chasing Shadows.”

You guessed it! I’m in “Author Mode” (adj: an intensely concentrative state where all things not directly pertaining to writing/reading/editing are ignored to make room for writing/reading/editing functions of the brain. Also includes functions necessary for coffee consumption). Over the past few weeks, I’ve devised a few key concepts that have become my mantra while writing, and also a few tricks of the trade necessary for those long hours spend with pen in hand. I call it:

The Indispensable Author’s Arsenal

(Say that five times fast!) I did a variation of this Arsenal a long time ago and have kept at it since, adding my own improvements. Feel free to use this code of awesomeness for yourself while you read and write, and don’t forget to add “Chasing Shadows” on Goodreads before it comes out in the next two months, become a fan on Goodreads, and keep coming back for the release date of “Chasing Shadows.” ^_^ https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22545313-chasing-shadows?from_search=true

 Get creative

time to create

Set goals and ask questions: Is this necessary, does it add to the plot? 

goals

Caffeinate (it’s capitalized because it’s important)

coffee and writing

Find inspiration in other works

inspired by reading

Get rid of distractions

distractions

Drink more coffee

coffee

Stay crazy and honest in your passion for the craft

stay mad

Remain true to who you are as a writer

stay true

Never be afraid to dream big

dreamer

And for that, you need more Coffee!!!!

coffee, final

Surround yourself with good people–they’ll lift you up and inspire you

friend usefriends

Keep disciplined

deiscipline

Never, EVER give up!

don't give up

write for a living final

 

A Time to Die Giveaway and Blog Hop

Hey all! My author friend and dance buddy Nadine Brandes is kicking off a blog hop in celebration of being one day closer to the upcoming release of her fantastic dystopian thriller “A Time to Die.” *cue the flurry of applause and dead-faints of excitement* The blog hop where I answer Nadine’s prompt “If you had one year left to live” will be live on my blog on September 26th, so put it on your calendars! But for now, Nadine has her own answers and an Amazon giveaway on her blog to whet your bookish appetites.

To enter the giveaway, you’re going to have to put in a little effort and follow the link below to Nadine’s original post at http://nadinebrandes.com/2014/09/03/if-i-had-one-year-left-to-live-a-time-to-die-blog-tour/

 

If I had one year left to live…

…I might stop writing.

*Gasp*

My heart shreds into confetti at the very idea, but one year isn’t very long. I’ve thought quite hard over this concept. Let me explain, for a moment, why I’m even blogging on it.

Today I’m kicking off the blog hop to promote my book, A Time to Die. Over twenty bloggers will be joining this hop to answer the prompt, “If I Had One Year Left to Live, I Would…” Hopefully this also prompts you to think about what you’d do with one year left to live.

Once the question enters your mind, it gets pretty sticky. Trust me, I know. I think about it all the time.

You Have One Year

In order to answer this question, I need to step back and examine what’s important, get to the nitty-gritty. Yes, writing is important because it’s my passion, but what is even more worthy of my complete devotion and sacrifice of time? Of course, it’s my Savior, Jesus Christ and I would fill my last year with things, actions, and choices that I believe He calls me to. But, since I’m playing crystal ball and trying to predict my future actions,  here are some things I would do with one year left:

Either stop writing, or speed-write. 

Don’t take this the wrong way. I do not want to stop writing. Writing is my passion. BUT, if I knew for sure that I would die one year from today, I would really ask myself how much time I could devote to writing without sacrificing time better spent elsewhere.

Another thought that crossed my mind is committing some hard-core writing months (about three or four) to completing the Out of Time series. For the sake of my readers (yes, for you!) If I couldn’t finish it in that time, I’d start looking for authors who could finish it/polish it for me.

I would go to Russia.

Going to Russia and interacting with the people there has been a long-term passion God has placed on both my and my husband’s heart. It’s a long story that I won’t get into now, but we would travel there to live for the majority of my last year. Hey, maybe I could keep writing while there! ;)

I would write intentional letters.

Words are my passion. I would make sure I had a stack of letters to be given to each person I love after I passed on, hopefully encouraging them to pursue life and God full-speed and to REJOICE at my joining Christ in heaven.

I would visit my relatives.

I grew up away from most of my relatives so I didn’t build the relationships with some of them that I would have liked. I would take at least two weeks to a month and road trip (with the hubby, of course!) around America, visiting them, having intentional quality time with them, and — with some — trying one last time to share the importance of Christ.

I would pray and fast more.

This is one of those things I already try to do, but I’m a spiritual wimp. Praying is the more tough side of relationship with Christ for me. I would love to devote hours — and I mean carpetburns-on-the-knees hours — to praying, fasting, and communing with God. The one time I intentionally fasted and pushed myself past my human desires, it completely changed me. And that was just one time.

Some little things:

I would go skydiving, sleep on an overnight train (preferably the Trans-Siberian Rail, which — if I go to Russia — would be very doable.), ride a tandem bike, and send up a desperate plea to J K Rowling (who probably won’t even see it) asking her to let me treat her to a cup of tea.

But, these are little things. Inconsequential things. Not big enough to be labeled as dreams, they’re just desires that would provide me with temporary happiness and then a good story.

 

My real goal in my last year would be to live as passionately as my weak, shy, cowardly human body allows for God’s glory. The point of this blog post is not just to dig into my dreams and last-minute pursuits. It is to show me (and you) my deepest desires — the things that are most important to me — and hopefully inspire me to pursue them as best I can right now, whether I have one year or ten years left.

 

So how about you? What would you do/change/think/stop doing if you had one year left to live?

 

“Chasing Shadows” Has A Cousin!

Or maybe it’s sister/brother (I haven’t decided a gender for Book III yet).

Brace youselves

After having the Shadow Trilogy rattling around in my brain for nearly a decade, I set out this past weekend to tie up loose ends. That’s right, guys: Book III is officially underway! Most of you know how I like to make a big deal out of everything and turn it into a memorable event, so I just sat there for a full five minutes, watching that little line blink on and off on the clean slate that was the brand new Word doc. And I just let it sink in that the next word I wrote would be the last first word I would ever write in this series.

The beginning of the end.

Okay, okay, it sounds super dramatic that way, but it’s the truth. While I have a caravan full of other stories plotted out and half-written, and also random ideas that I want to bring to life, it’s still hard to accept that after this series, I’ll never really get to hang out with these characters again.

Start writing

For an author, starting the final installment in a trilogy is like having your kid graduate from high school—they haven’t gone off to college yet, but it’s only a matter of time—or setting your feet on the moon for the first time. OR like tasting your one and only first bite of Talenti ice cream. You’ll never be able to go back and experience the tantalizing flavors of Mediterranean Mint, Sea Salt Caramel, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, or Cappuccino (trust me, you’re missing out). Unless, of course, I’m successful in creating a time machine and can travel back simply for the purpose of eating and experiencing history. You’re welcome for that. ;-)

So going back to what I was actually talking about before (writing, remember?). It’s either extremely exciting or totally terrifying to begin a new story, but for me it’s always a little bit of both. I’m not sure if it’s fear that I won’t be able to do the story justice, but all I know is that it feels a little like going on a first date, or so I’ve heard (all the single ladies, woot-woot!): Is the opener/introduction good enough to keep them interested? Haha. I know, I’m full of weird analogies today, but they’re all totally appropriate.

I did it anyway, though. I typed those first two lines, and then another four . . . then a page, and by the time I was done—and only because I had to go to work and get real pants on—I had the entire prologue finished, another scene typed up, and several chapters plotted out. EEE! I can’t tell you how good it felt to once again have new ideas pouring from my fingertips, my mind working faster than they could type. I don’t think I’ve ever had totally new and unexpected ideas and scenes come to me so quickly. In that hour before work, I explained Cadius’ motives for—well, I guess you’ll find that out in “Chasing Shadows” ;-P—why Ridlan, the surrounding province, will play such a significant part in the series, how time travel is really going to mess things up, why the professor was betrayed, and also how Karen’s parents were murdered. It was like an onslaught of awesome!

Soon, I’ll be releasing quotes/excerpts from “Chasing Shadows,” doing a final, final cover reveal once it’s sized, and also releasing the official map of Serimone, thanks to the amazing Roan Carter, who illustrated the cover. But you guys are just as important to the success of this series as my writing is, even more so because you guys help to get the word out about “Chasing Shadows.” I have some signing events, activities, meet and greets, and the like over the next few months, and I would love for you all to help spread the word when I post event info. You can Tweet, Pin, like/share on Facebook, follow, become a fan on Goodreads via the link on the sidebar, blog, or use word of mouth to share anything pertaining to the series. Or if you have any creative ideas for promotions that I can add to my bag of tricks, let me know!

I have a few ideas for a title that I have up my sleeve, but I can’t reveal them quite yet. If you’re interested in contributing your input, though, please send me an email with possible titles (containing the word “Shadows”) for the final installment in the Shadow Trilogy. And I’m still accepting review and interview submissions. If you want to host me on your blog and review “Chasing Shadows,” or if you’re an author who would like for me to interview them, let me know at ashleytownsend.author@yahoo.com