Character

All posts tagged Character

Half Agony, Half Hope

Published April 8, 2013 by Ashley Townsend

I breathe, I sleep, and I dream in story form. A carefully phrased string of words can create complex characters who find residence in my heart and are permanently etched into the walls of my soul.

books

This is a far more dramatic take on how stories and writing impact me, though the feelings are 100% true. I imagine that if I went to a BA (Bibliophiles Anonymous) meeting that my confession would sound a little something like this: “Hi, my name is Ashley, and I’m a bibliophilette.” (This is where you would all chime in with the slightly creepy, collective “Hi, fellow crazy person”) Yes, I dream in stories and find myself acting them out in my head during everyday life. I was the glassy-eyed kid staring out the window during class, imaging a fantasy world just beyond that cruel glass partition (I will probably dedicate a future post to the cruelties of allowing kids to see, but not touch, the outdoors during class). It’s actually quite entertaining—and distracting—to have a weightless book or multiple stories with you at all times, so no complaints. Move aside, 1 lb. Kindle!

victim of books

When people starting to ask me why I wanted to start my career with a Christian publisher—since I would have so much more reach with a secular house, I was told—I simply have them refer to the afore mentioned delusions. Then there’s the “middle ground” (a.k.a. moral compromise) question: Would you ever be able to alter your writing style so it has more appeal to secular markets? Able? Yes. Willing? That would be a resounding no. Why, you might ask?

Because my stories consume me. dream while awake

I can’t always pin down the exact moment when they come in and take over my life, because it can sometimes be slow going, but they do every time. I have lunch with the characters, spend the afternoon writing about their lives, and then go to bed envisioning what the next day might have in store for them. They occupy my waking and sleeping thoughts and resonate with me. If I hear a phrase or if I see something that reminds me of a character’s actions or what they might say, then I am immediately transported into the story. I smile when my characters—and other authors’ characters—are happy, grin like an idiot when they’re being cheeky, cry when they do, and hope for the same splendid ending that they wish for in their lives.

creative before sleep

The other day I was writing a very emotion scene for the sequel to “Rising Shadows” (currently “Chasing Shadows”) and sensation in readerwas honestly balling my eyes out—I could hardly see my laptop keys to type!—because I knew what it meant for Will. Sadly, I can’t give you the “nod” to let you know if it’s good or bad for him and those he cares for, because that would completely ruin the book for you. And then just before that, I had to kill off a character I had quickly grown to love, and when Sarah wept with loss and regret, I cried softly, matching my tears with hers. When I forced her into the arms of someone else for comfort, I was a distraught wreck, conflicted over what I had done to get her to this moment, but knowing it had to be done. Half agony and half hope—isn’t that Captain Wentworth’s line from “Persuasion”? I even took a moment to think over the lack of a future for this erased being as Sarah contemplated that same reality.

do something creative every day

So, clearly, I’m a crazy author who thinks her characters are absolutely, 100% real—they are, I tell you! But I like to think that it just means I’m passionate about designing relatable people that live and breathe on the page, as much for me as for those who read. But you can see why I don’t want to compromise: If I don’t have some moral base at the center of my stories, an encouraging conclusion to the hero’s journey, then what is it, exactly, that will be consuming me so fully? I want readers to pick up my novels and know that they aren’t simply “fluff,” but to be assured that they have a purpose and will impact them in some way, hopefully for the better.    

write the book you want to read

I started the sequel to “Rising Shadows” with the intent of making Sarah fall and lose her faith, to stumble into the darkness just a little to show that we can come out of it. But no matter how hard I pushed, how many precipices I forced endings we love to seeher to tread upon, and no matter what obstacles I sent to block her path, she has proven herself to be too strong to fall completely. It was actually kind of funny to have her fighting back at me when I tried to give her a gentle push downward, though sometimes it was frustrating to have her and others constantly thwarting my designs. But then I realized that I kind of like that about her—the fact that she’s a fighter even when, from her perspective, she thinks that she’s failing and seems to have as many fears as I do. At least she’s willing to try, sticking her neck out there for her friends, and is always prepared to fight for what she believes is right, though she isn’t always as secure as she would like to be. Sarah struggles with the same doubts and—usually—makes the right decision in the end. I suppose as far as “character” qualities go, those aren’t too bad to focus on. So if I’m going to be consumed by something, I want it to be unwavering, passionate faith and strength, even amidst the trials. The strength of a lion and the meekness of a lamb, right? Something to work towards and write about, I guess. So if you will excuse me, I think I’ll go map out my aspirations in story form.

writing

P.S. Something I realized this week: Success is not getting it right the first time. It’s kicking discouragement in the seat meat when the door slams in your face, and then you either bust the door in or attempt to scale to the window above it. I’m fairly certain Edison was anti-discouragement.      

living the life she imagined        

 

Books: Round 2

Published July 27, 2012 by Ashley Townsend

Ding, ding, ding! Commence round 2 of Ashley Townsend & Friend’s Reading Extravaganza. So, wipe off your sweaty palms—I know you’re that excited—and check out some of the latest books I’ve read. Let the reading games begin!

*****Ohmysweetgoodness! I loved this book and everything about it! “Of Poseidon” is definitely on the shelf of my favorite books of the year and is probably at number one on my favorite newly discovered reads of the summer. The book is about mermaids—ahem, excuse me—Syrenas, and has a very complex backstory concerning the legend of Poseidon and the half-human, half-Syrenas the author concocted. I was actually super excited over this idea, but I know it might be a turn-off for some people because mermaids can either be a winner or a stinker. I’ll admit that I was curious to see if I would be jumping for joy or plugging my nose while I read, but this form of fantasy was handled extremely well by the author. If you’re into flesh-eating mermaids and the darker version of these tales, sorry; it doesn’t get that creepy, though I was pleased with it. The story centers on a “normal” high school girl who loses her best friend in a shark attack in the first few pages (I love when they get right to it!), and this event leads her to a discovery about her past and who she is … Syrena, though there’s more to it than that. And then, of course, there’s Galen, the incredibly handsome Syrena prince who is mutually attracted to our heroine, though things become complicated when they discover that Emma’s special abilities means she must be betrothed to Galen’s brother. I really appreciated how scientific Anna got with this story, and she did a fantastic job of crafting the history of Atlantis, the Syrena (fish?) people, and the children of Poseidon without the story veering off into cheesy territory. I can’t think of anything that I didn’t like about this book, except that it ended on a cliff-hanger and I have to WAIT for the next one. From the endearing characters the author crafted—my sweet Toraf!—to the more delicious ones that my heart did a little flip over to the chuckle-worthy sarcasm and fantastically-handled plot, this book wormed its way into my heart and made a little gypsy camp in there, with teeny-tiny acrobats that jump around and make me giggle whenever I think of it. I have no intention of ever evicting it, because I haven’t enjoyed a book this much in a while!   

*****Okay, this is going to sound cheesy, but I wish I could time travel so I could go back and read this book all over again … And

Don’t you just love this cover?

it would also help with the late fines at the library, since I could technically read sixty books in a week. Emerson Cole has the ability—or how she sees it, misfortune—to see dead people. I’m not going all “Sixth Sense” on you, and the author didn’t either; Emerson can see people from the past as though they’re part of the scenery—which can be a little embarrassing when she has a full-blown argument in the middle of the cafeteria with someone no one else can see—but what she doesn’t realize is that it’s because she has a specific time-traveling gene. Since she weaned herself off the meds that kept her from seeing these odd visions of non-existent Southern Belles, dead soldiers, and jazz trios from the past, the haunting phantoms seem to be getting worse. Concerned for her sanity, Emerson’s brother brings in a consultant from an organization called the Hourglass that specializes in “visions” like she’s been experiencing since her parents’ death years ago. The consultant is, of course, handsome, sympathetic, and intriguing, and he and Emerson are strangely drawn toward each other. I won’t give too much away, but Michael explains that he can also see the strange apparitions that are slowly leaking through time, and he tells Emerson that he needs her help to bring someone back from the dead by using her time-traveling gift. The thing I liked the most about this book was that the time traveling aspect was so technical and not at all “magical.” I’ve been reading a lot of books about time travel for research for “Rising Shadows” and the next books, but most of them involved magic or just some poof or fantastical element, so I loved the fact that Myra really got down to business. It was obvious that the author really did a lot of research on the space time continuum, wormholes, and the like, and it really shows in her writing. The plot was well planned and timed, and I loved her witty humor and sarcasm. Her characters were excellent; I actually liked the heroine, which doesn’t happen too often, and I felt the subsequent characters never really veered off the path and became someone else. I am so excited that the second book is from Kaleb’s perspective, though, because I definitely want to get to know him better. It wasn’t as though this book was an action-packed adventure, but it was seriously entertaining and, dare I say, gripping? Definitely my favorite time travel book this year, and it’s on my top five favorite summer reads.    

****I really enjoyed this book! I originally got it for the cover and because it was similar to my own book, with the time period and Robin Hood theme. I was delighted to find that it was full of adventure, fast-paced, and all about the start of Robin Hood (my favorite character and legend of all time!) and his gang. I loved the fact that the author set the book around the time that the gang got started, so readers get to see a little bit of the beginning of Robin’s Merry Men … and Woman. There was a fantastic amount of historical research that went into this book, and I loved what Gaughen did with the characters, changing them up with fun and endearing little spins, and how she tied everyone together in this story with the characters of old. I would have given this book a five for the story and characters alone, but it was a little odd to get used to the heroine’s London-inspired grammar, though I found that I didn’t notice it after a few pages, so don’t let that stop you. Robin Hood is so fantastic in this story; exactly my type of Hooded Hero—strong, mysterious, caring. The romantic triangle was also handled really well, and I kept thinking they were real people. All in all, I loved this book, and I will definitely be reading it again! If you’re a fan of the Robin Hood legend, or just completely obsessed with it like I am, then you should give this one a try; you’ll be glad you did.

Click on the link below to become a fan of Ashley Townsend, check out the books I’ve read and want to read, rate Rising Shadows, or just see what I have been up to. So many books, so little time. *Sigh*

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5839773.Ashley_Townsend

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