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Feeling Bookish: A Q&A with Rising Shadows’ Author Ashley Townsend

Published October 18, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

This was such a fun interview to work on, and I hope you check it out and stick around for some of their other fabulous posts. Happy Hump Day, peeps!

TheCollective

A few months ago, I happened across an author profile on Goodreads. A sucker for time travel fiction, I was immediately intrigued and looked up the author’s list of works (and how quickly I could get them from Amazon), and eventually reached out to see if she’d answer some questions about her writing. See what she has to say about Rising Shadows, her writing, Robin Hood, and what she’s working on next! -TC

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At Last! A Comic Con Recap!!

Published August 25, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

If you followed my Instagram leading up to SDCC and my survival guide post beforehand, you can tell Comic Con pretty much consumed the weeks leading up to the event. Why, you ask? Because this year I attempted something I’ve never done: a different cosplay for every day. *pauses for ooohs* Also for the first time: forgetting that I had this post completed THREE weeks ago when it should have been posted. -_- *ahem* Moving on….

Day 1 Recap:

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Cosplay for this day was Indiana Jones for me, and my sister and faithful SDCC companion, Liz, went at the Eleventh (and best) Doctor. The screwdriver lit up and made sounds, and I’ll admit I was geeking out over it.

Liz got to meet Leigh Bardugo, and we were surprised with ARC copies of her Wonder Woman novel, Warbringer! The precioussssssss.20170720_111454

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This guy ^ was dressed as Rick from The Mummy films, and I literally chased him down to get this pic. He was so nice and charming and shocked that I knew who he was, and I was just trying to be cool with “Alex” and not drool. His charisma matched the character so perfectly. *le sigh*

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Some major highlights were getting pics with the tallest Flynn Rider and Captain America we’d seen, meeting my video game hero, Tomb Raider, and was amazed by thegirl’s fabulous cosplay of the original game. We ate fabulous soft-pretzels, I received a high-five from Patrick Star for asking him if mayonnaise was an instrument (it’s a classic “Bang Geeks” reference, guys), we saw the Timeless fan tribute panel, and then shared a Lyft ride with one of the terribly engaging men from the group of kilt- but not shirt-clad handsomeness that wanders downtown during the Con. All in all, not a bad day!

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Day 2 Recap: My first “real” attempt at sewing was Cinderella’s pink dress after the evil stepsisters had torn it apart. Designing a torn dress sounds simple . . . It’s NOT! Anywho, we missed the Psych panel in the morning—much to our dismay, especially since we were close enough to hear the fans screaming—but we did see the iZombie panel in the morning and had stitches in our sides for the rest of the day from laughing.

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Liz and I also met BookTubers Jesse the Reader and Christine Riccio when we were preparing to leave (must. contain. fangirl!!), searched for fabulous flare, and got pics with Arrow—sort of. We don’t have many photos from this day because we spent it in panels, getting swag, and it was so crowded that it was difficult to move.

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Day 3 Recap: Okay, now to the juicy stuff! Liz and I attempted to go to the Once Upon a 

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Time and Riverdale panels in Ballroom 20. *cough* Yeah, that didn’t happen. We got there right as the doors opened and . . . were promptly led a ¼ mile from the convention center and down by the marina to line up, where we had to wind our way back up in the heat and humidity. We were 30 stinking people away from getting into Ballroom 20, and we spent hours on the floor hoping that people would leave. No dice! We thought it would be a crummy start to the day, but Saturday was AMAZING and held so many surprises, including our fabulous friend, Gabriela, hanging with us for the day and using her baby backpack to make space on the floor so I could run after fantastic cosplayers. One of my favorite parts of the adventure was taking pictures with the kids who thought I was the real 20170722_134857Cinderella, and seeing the joy on their faces made the whole experience magical. Guys, I want to be a Disney princess!

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This Kid Flash was adorable and hilarious. I told him to strike a running pose, and he immediately got into Barry Allen’s 

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running position. This kid deserves a medal!

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Attacking Derek Theler, which I’m now embarrassed about blurting out his name and following through by asking for a pic, but totally worth the memory! 

Liz and I discovered that hanging by one of the bathroom’s meant that the entire casts of Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl had to walk right past us. Brandon Routh is just as handsome in person, but Franz (who plays Jackson on Legends) was so sweet and stayed behind on the floor to take pictures with fans. Honestly, he was so genuine and immediately made us love him more.

And ending the night was the most hilarious surprise of all. The floor was crowded, and Liz and I were exhausted, so we leaned against the foam “room” that was the Outlander booth. People repeatedly asked us if we were in line, so we kept moving out of the way because there were lines everywhere and you never know what you’re getting into. Eventually, we wandered around the front so as to not confuse people and discovered, four feet away, the entire cast of Outlander at their signing. I’d nearly busted through that foam wall by accident and fallen right into Jamie’s lap (now I’m a little bummed I didn’t lean harder!).

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We had become pros by this time, so we waited at the edge of the gathering when the 20170722_154029bagpipes started to play. Yes, I said bagpipes. While everyone else tried to usher actors out as quickly as possible, they announced their departure like they were waltzing down the Red Carpet. Liz and I laughed at the fanfare as they walked right by, Sam Heughen smiling and working that crowd the entire time. I’ll admit that he definitely sells it, and these Sassenachs didn’t mind stumbling upon that fabulous memory one bit.

It might be a few weeks late, but there you have it! This year’s SDCD was full of great laughs, fabulous memories, and plenty of new adventures. And it never hurts to learn new secrets for next year!

Writing – As Explained by Firefly

Published August 20, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

Guys, you know how I feel about Firefly, so this post is perfect! And I would totally name a new land … “This Land,” which is why I don’t write high fantasy. Haha.

C.M. Banschbach

Howdy!

Sorry for the radio silence recently. Short explanation is I’ve been super busy/lazy. 🙂 But I got the idea for this post at lunch the other day, so I figured I’d continue with the series that started with my Princess Bride posts. Using Firefly/90% of all the best Wash quotes. 🙂

Haven’t seen the Princess Bride posts yet? Check out Part 1, and Part 2.

Onward!

When your characters decide they want to do something else-

When you get too excited handing out character deaths-

When procrastination hits you hard-

Sometimes going back and reading your writing is like-

Sometimes worldbuilding is hard…

When the plot bunnies spiral out of control-

We all want that giant royalty check, but…

Trying to explain your brilliant story idea to someone. But words…

Reminiscing about that plot twist that readers hate you for-

So there you have it. 🙂 Did…

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The Fangirl’s Guide to Navigating Life, Vol. 1

Published March 19, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

 

How to Navigate Book Boyfriends, An Autobiography

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Oh, so you’re new to being a fangirl and have only just discovered the beauty of joining a fandom? Welcome! Endless joy and pain await you! It can be tough being thrown into this dedicated life—attending countless book release parties, having 10 pre-orders arrive on the same day and deciding which “child” to read first, and just generally dealing with the ups and downs that accompany such a devoted existence.

This new topic series is here to help, whether to guide you through the evolution from one fandom to the next, reveal the best ways to recover from excruciating series-enders (it’s pronounced chuh-ko-let), or just to assure you that there are other fantastic and obsessive people out there. What a time to be alive! *winks*

One thing you must understand about being a fangirl: prepare to have multiple book boyfriends. I know, I know. I used to feel guilty when I would fall in love with the hero in a story, and then I’d pick up another book and instantly trip head-over-heels for yet another gentleman. The trick to managing these fictional fellows is to sort them into categories (i.e. the jokester, the heartthrob, the psychopath you wish wasn’t a psychopath because he’s so fabulous and entertaining).

Here are a few of my own past and present book boyfriends.

The Jokester

Carswell Thorne, Cress by Marissa Meyer (click here)

Carswell Thorne

“I’m pretty, but tough, like a diamond. Or beef jerky in a ball gown.”

As much as I love the cast of The Lunar Chronicles, Thorne makes me want to read it again and again. He is overly-cocky and hilarious, terribly charming, and I can’t tell you the number of times I busted up laughing over one of his ridiculously well-timed jokes, or gave a little “Aww” during his sweet and sacrificial moments. Thorne became the heart of this series, and he definitely stole my heart and kept me reading.

The Clever Smooth-Talker

René Hasard, Rook by Sharon Cameron (click here)

rene hasard

“Being . . . how do you say, underestimated? That is never a bad thing.”

This. Boy. Has. Sass.
Oh, René. *sighs* Like Thorne, he offers SO MUCH humor to this book and is over-confident with his swagger, but you just can’t help adoring this Frenchman. At first, you think he’s a cocky playboy who’s only in the story to make you laugh with gut-busting anecdotes and saucy attitude. But then you realize it’s all a front and there is so much more to René—his kindness, cleverness in pretending to be a fool to get what he wants, and his caring attitude that he hides at first. There are just too many fabulous layers to him that make it impossible NOT to fall in love.

The Protective Heartthrob

Isaiah Walker, Crash into You by Katie McGarry (click here)

Isaiah Walker

“I don’t want to be without you. I like when I’m with you, and I don’t want to go back to who I was before.”

Hoo-hah! *fans self* I don’t usually go for the bad boy, but when he’s a bad boy with a heart of gold who’s pretending to be tough and all devil-may-care to survive the rough lifestyle he’s forced to live—umm, yeah, sign me up! Isaiah definitely has some rough edges to him and a past that just tears your heart out, which is like a recipe for book perfection! ^_^ But I loved reading his perspective and seeing his protective side and the vulnerability he reveals when he’s with Rachel. And on top of the tattooed, car-racing swoon-factor, Isaiah lends a fantastic sense of humor and emotional depth to the story. This was a gobble-it-up read, and I loved every minute of it.

The Unloved Mystery
Will Taylor, Defying Shadows by *coughs* Ashley Townsend (click here)

Will Taylor

“I will never stop trying to fight my way back to you. You’re a part of me now, and I will forever carry a piece of you with me.”

Is it cheating to have my own character on this list? Since Will was one of my first book boyfriends at 14, I’m going to let it slide. *winks* Will can be reserved and mysterious because of his tragic history, the loss of love in his life, and the way he has to preserve the secret of his nightly vigilante escapades. But I love watching his walls crumble piece by piece and how each bit of his character and story slowly reveal themselves. It warms my heart to see his sense of humor emerge and open himself to a love with no guarantees; it’s like watching him come to life! Plus, he’s totally knee-weakening charming, and tell me your heart doesn’t ache/jump to love him in his moments of feeling unlovable. Go on, pretend you didn’t just have a feels attack thinking about it.

The Lonely Alien Seeking Love on Earth

Evan Walker, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy (click here)

Evan Walker

“To hold on, you have to find something you are willing to die for.”

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for the quiet, mysterious types in books who are just struggling to feel normal and loved. Well, Evan tries to find that in The 5th Wave . . . along with actually discovering his humanity. Because, you know, he’s an alien. But Evan has so many layers to him that make you fall in love at the same time you’re questioning who’s side he’s on. He can be protective and supportive, caring and mysterious, and just all around adorable and sweet. And if his character isn’t enough to convince you to watch The 5th Wave movie, the picture of Alex Roe in flannel should be sufficient.

The Classiest Book Boyfriend in Literary History
John Thornton, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (click here)

John Thornton
“I know you despise me; allow me to say it is because you don’t understand me.”

Okay, I clearly have a thing for layered characters (see every single character above). Thornton is basically the Platinum Book Boyfriend Package; he is kind, though his pride sometimes presents him from revealing it, has immense character, and loves unconditionally. Oh, yeah, and I forgot the cravat and top hat. Win! Watching his pride melt away and his true characters unfold is like watching the flowers begin to bloom in spring, or seeing a newborn puppy open its eyes for the first time—purely magical. And when Margaret rejects him, let’s just say we all felt his sorrow. Thornton is the one literary figure that I will never get over, and he makes North and South for me with his depth and the true way he softens to the worlds. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s played by Richard Armitage.

 

2017 Reading Goals

Published January 31, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

Has it really been SO long since I last visited your homes? *cringe of shame* Apparently, I’ve been a bit consumed lately by working on The Jungle Princess, ironing out some blemishes/going where the story takes me, catching up on the mass amounts of paperwork at the office, planning a trip to Nashville (the heart of country music) to see my bestie, and also—oh, yeah, preparing for this year’s voyage to Realm Makers, the best writer’s conference. In. History. So forgive me, because, honestly, you can’t stay mad at this face.

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I’d like to say I’m coming back online to impart some great writerly wisdom on you, or blow your mind with a snippet from my work in progress (but keep your eyes posted for this, because soon . . .). But alas, I have simply journeyed to the Internet to humbly present an update on my 2017 reading progress. *raises hands to defend self against expected volley of rotten vegetables and fruit*

I set my 2017 Reading Challenge goal on Goodreads at 45, the same as last year, so I’m hoping to do as good as I did in 2016 and exceed my goal. I haven’t read much yet this year, so I figured now would be a good time to share my opinions so far.

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnely ***

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Umm, I think I liked this book?? I’m typically not this confused over my opinion on a story, but there were moments while reading that I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the setting. But then there was the forced romance that was so cliche it was often painful, and the killer was fairly obvious from the first chapter of the book. There is this fabulously intense scene at the end where the main character (whose name I can’t recall, she was so memorable) gets into a scuffle with her father’s murderer and runs for her life in a mental institution. I wish there had been more exciting moments in the book because the author did it so well. It had a lot of potential and there were a few characters that I liked and wished had been in it more, and the setting of old-time New York was very fun. Overall, though, I feel like this book is a bit forgettable. 

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman ****

illuminae

(really 4.5 stars for cleverness of plot and design of the book itself)

Things I learned from Illuminae:
1. I can now survive the zombie apocalypse, though my hacking skills are seriously lacking.
2. You can fall in love with a person because of their emojis. EZRA!! ❤ ^_^
3. Artificial intelligence is a bad idea.
4. Nukes don’t really makes a sound in the vacuum that is space.
5. You should definitely have Gemina on hand to prevent symptoms of the Phobos virus (i.e. violence, incessant shaking, catatonia).

Wow. Just wow. The plot, the characters, the tears and edge-of-your-seat intensity made me stay up all night to see what would happen. This is the most uniquely designed book I have ever read, and the storyline is fantastic and very involved. The first 100 pages were a little bit dry as I got into the style of the book, but then I couldn’t put it down as I became involved in the story and these characters (and the death toll!!! o.O) The ending was such perfection—so intense and tragic and then your heart leaps in hope—making it one of those books that resonates with you for a long time.

Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman ***

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(3.5 stars)
There were some aspects of this book that I enjoyed more than Illuminae. I felt like the characters were more alive in this story through the way they wrote the scenes to involve more action and surveillance footage, rather than just IM’s back and forth between characters.
That being said, I actually liked Kady and Ezra more as the driving force behind the plot in Illuminae. Also, I didn’t appreciate the casual drug abuse in the book or how the authors made it seem all right for the characters to use “dust” because they know when to stop or because it dulls their senses so they can get through a tough situation. I felt like it was unnecessary and actually sends a terrible message.

Despite my misgivings, I really enjoyed the book and will continue on with the series. Kristoff and Kaufman have crafted an incredible world, and the design of these books is unlike anything you will ever read. 

I’m also currently reading Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken *squeal of pure joy* and have Unblemished by Sara Ella patiently waiting for me on my bookshelf. I got them both on the same day, and there is nothing like that “new book” feeling where fresh hardbacks follow you home. 

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Also, my sister just ordered By Your Side for me by my auto-buy author Kasie West. A thousand yesses. I’ll do an Instagram post when I receive the book, so keep your eyes peeled. 

Lastly on the reading update, I feel like I’ve never had to wait for a sequel to release like I have with the much-anticipated Blacksouls by Nicole Castroman. Those who are also waiting for Book II to come out probably feel like each day just drags on and on. But we’re in this together, guys, and so we have to hold out and lean on each other through these hard times. Hang in there, friends, it will be here soon! 

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