Christmas

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NaNo Prep Time

Published October 21, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

 

writer

Can you believe it’s almost November? o.0 That means NaNoWriMo is coming up in less than two weeks. It also happens to begin the same day I consider to be the start of the Christmas season, and I don’t even mind dodging the angry fruit you pre-Christmas haters want to throw at me. I’ll make Christmas fruitcake from it. ^_~

A lot of prep-work goes into the month of October to make sure that I stay focused on my project. It isn’t always easy, so aside from the usual tactics—like limiting social media, upping caffeine abuse, etc.—I’ve introduced several other helpful tricks into my October planning. They help to maintain my sanity and allow me to be prepared for NaNo so I’m not scrambling at the eleventh hour to accomplish last minute tasks.

The Hobbit Hole

I try to cram as many social engagements and catch-up phone calls with friends into October because I will basically be a hermit starting November 1st. Social calls may resume on December 1st, and please bring coffee to the creature with the blood-shot eyes and the hands that phantom-type words onto an invisible keyboard.

tom and jerry sleepy

Writing Inspiration Playlist

Whatever is on this playlist basically becomes the only music I listen to during November. Although it keeps you in the write mindset *laughs hysterically at vague joke*, listening to the same music nonstop for 30 days can make you want to turn on all the fans, have the popcorn maker going, and crank a blow-dryer on high to drown out the same loop of songs. Since these noisy distractions can be counter-productive—and send your energy bill skyrocketing—I make sure to have variation on my playlist and create it before November begins. Don’t waste time scrambling to design a playlist late in the game; save yourself the trouble and do it beforehand so you can dive into your story Nov. 1st with the perfect background inspiration guiding your fingers.

old piano

Goodies on my playlist:

~ “Meet Me in the Woods” by Lord Huron

~ “Running if You Call My Name” by Haim

~ “All We Ever Knew” by The Head and the Heart

~ “Dreamers” by Oh Gravity (thanks to Katie Grace leading me onto it!)

~ Pride and Prejudice soundtrack

Limit Your Social Media

It’s a given, but as much as I love chatting with friends online or sharing photos of books on Instagram (see what I’m reading here), I can’t let myself fall into the social media rabbit hole during NaNo. I’ve made the mistake of spending more time chatting about my manuscript progress than actually writing it, or adding to my novel board on Pinterest.

Ways to stave off the decent into the rabbit hole:

~Prepare blog posts beforehand. It’s a lot of work, but you don’t want to stress blogging deadlines while trying to nail your word count. You can always fine-tune them later!

~Plot, plot, plot. Now, you know I’m a plotting-pantser and can’t stand to box myself in, but having a good idea of sequencing and character development for your 50,000 words gives you a goal to hit and helps to keep your focus to stave off the call of the web.

~Have a cache of photos on your phone to post on Instagram the days when there just isn’t time to stage a book tower.

~Create templates for social media posts on FB and Twitter, and consider having pics selected on Pinterest to add text from your MS to as you go along (use a formatter like PicMonkey). I have a few that I’m considering using next month that you can check out on my Jungle Princess Pinterest board

Creative Detox

Although it’s incredibly important to stay on-task and in the writing mindset during November, you can’t spend every single moment at your computer. Instead of losing your head, try to find activities that allow you to take a mental break while still encouraging your creativity.

reading

Ways to keep your sanity while maintaining your creative mindset:

~Go on a walk to clear your head and think about your story. Your brain will get a cramp if you don’t give it some fresh air!

~Take a nap listening to your writing playlist, or paste a chapter of your work in progress into a text-audio reader (like AlReader or NaturalReader). You can rest those tired eyes and get in some extra editing by hearing your writing out loud.

~If you want to escape into a book or film, do it! Treat yourself after a hard-fought day of writing to a mental getaway, but consider entertainment that is about writers or books, or even ones that just generally put you in a happy mental place so you can return to your manuscript creatively recharged and inspired. I’ll have a post up soon with some recommendations for my favorite writing-centered entertainment.

Now that the prep-work is set and the playlists have been created, it’s time for the most important part of NaNo: Go write that novel!

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Winter Joy and #NaNoWriMo Update

Published December 1, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

Okay, all, so you might have noticed I’ve been in a little place called Cognito for a couple of weeks. This lack of attention to you guys was basically due to Thanksgiving, UC transfer application drama, essays up the wazoo, and, you guessed it: NaNoWriMo. I got soooooo close to the 50,000 word goal, but didn’t quite make it, capping out last night with 46,000 (not counting an additional 8,000 words for essays). BUT, hey, that is the most I’ve ever written in any single month, so I’m pretty ecstatic about my progress in Defying Shadows. Hey, it’s all about personal growth, and so I think I’ll take my “measly” 46,000 words and try again next year. ^_~

Now, onto serious business:

HAPPY DECEMBER!!!!!

By: Volleyball Beauty♛ ♡ (VolleyballBeaut):

the friday of all months:

Okay, so we’ve been celebrating Christmas since November 1st in our house, getting out our decorations, music, baking, and Christmas cheer for the past month, but it always becomes more exciting once we actually get into December. And this season is especially exciting for me because I’ll be spending New Year’s in Colorado with my best friend of 22 years. We haven’t been able to celebrate our favorite holidays with each other for nine years, so we’re doing it up with all our old New Year’s traditions, plus some new ones we’ve acquired over the years. AND, because her house was always my second home growing up, I’ve demanded that Mama K. and the fam leave all the decorations up and that we have Second Christmas, where we swap gifts by the fire in the morning, go sleigh riding in the afternoon, dress up for a pizza dinner (they do NOT have any Papa Murphey’s near us in San Diego, and that should be a crime), and then wander their neighborhood to look at the lights. Maybe “demand” is a strong word, since they all jumped aboard halfway through my explanation. Haha. It’s going to be amazing, and I cannot WAIT to get out there!

What are some of your Christmas traditions?

LETS DO THIS girls week joeys home!  knicks game BEYONCE  Christmas  New Years :):

 

Elf on the Shelf

Published December 9, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

Yes, Elf on the Shelf is a toy designed for children, but let’s be honest–adults spend way more time with this magical doll than the kids they’re setting it up for, and I also think they get a strange kick out of arranging it in hilariously ridiculous poses and situations. Actually, I don’t think, I know, because Elizabeth, Katie, and I went to town setting up random scenarios for our Lady Elf on the Shelf.

If you’re unfamiliar with Elf on the Shelf, first of all, please call 911 to get yourself out from under that rock you’ve been hiding beneath. But if you really don’t know, it’s a supposedly magical red doll that comes with a book that parents are supposed to read to their kids that talks about how the elf comes alive at night. And then parents will spend hours hiding the creature in random places and setting it up so that it looks as though it has a secret life at night. Kids get a kick out of it, and adults have a ton of fun staging it. You can educate yourself on the process by checking it out on Pinterest; there are some seriously creative pictures out there (and definitely some that are not kid-appropriate, but oh-so hilarious).

Liz got a Lady Elf for herself, and the three of us decided to go to town the other night setting Eleanor (that’s right, she has a name) up for her photo shoot. We had a ton of fun and plan to do 25 different shots for the month of December. Probably even more than that! Anyway, since we’re starting this later on in the month, we’re throwing a couple shots at you all together today. Hope you enjoy the adorableness that is Elf on the Shelf, and stay tuned all this month for more pics, Christmas recipes, and all sorts of shenanigans. 

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Elf on the Shelf watching “Elf.” Yes, she has a habit of only watching Christmas films Jan-Dec.

What else would a magical creature watch? These elves have to stick together!

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Hangin’ with the ladies and enjoying an elf-sized Christmas blend from Starbucks.

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She was so jazzed about her coffee that she started climbing on things, like inside the guitar…

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And inside my shoe. -_-

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Aaaaaaand up the tree. Her skirt caught on fire twice from the lights (she went up like a Roman candle). 

Needless to say, the fire department was not happy.

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Eleanor was so excited to be alive that she even came onto Flynn Rider…. Who was inside plastic.

And who is, consequently, not real. Don’t tell her, though. 

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But by the end of the night, she always returns to our favorite bookshelf,

with a bubble pipe and a snow globe to keep her company.  Hey, she is an Elf on the Shelf, after all. 

On the Third Day…

Published December 22, 2012 by Ashley Townsend

On the Third Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Three Heinous Sweaters!!!

WARNNG: Some content may be inappropriate for children under the age of 40. Parental guidance is suggested.

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On the Fourth Day…

Published December 21, 2012 by Ashley Townsend

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to meeeee:

Four Awesome Shoes!

My sister Katie and I got new shoes the other day for a wedding, and it was mutually decided that we should honor these wonderful gifts on this fourth day in the Christmas countdown. . . . Mostly because neither of us could wait until day two to share the two pairs. ~__^ Plus, they’re way better than four calling birds, whatever those are.

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On the Fifth Day….

Published December 20, 2012 by Ashley Townsend

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Fiiiiiive Golden Boys!

1d

This present day of Christmas is in honor of my sisters, Katie and Elizabeth. And, hey! The coolest part is that it can actually be sung to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas, starting on day five. Begin!

One boy from Cheshire                   A moody one with glasses     

1d 61d 4

         

        One funny Irish tenor                       

1d 3

A sweet angelic voice

1d 2

louis

And ONE FUNNY BOYYYYYYY!!!!

On the Sixth Day…

Published December 19, 2012 by Ashley Townsend

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

My six favorite Christmas treats!

1

My Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti! I usually make two of these batches in December, and they’re great to share around. The recipe, courtesy of my sister Liz, is up on my Recipes page if you want to share a little Christmas cheer.

2Starbucks’ White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha. The moment it comes out, I’m there to sip away. It’s my favorite holiday drink because it literally tastes like Christmas!

3

Come on. This is your favorite part of Christmas, too. After Jesus, of course.

4

As gross as it sounds, I make Pretzel Jell-O salad (yeah, right; a salad) every year for Christmas dinner. The bottom layer is crispy baked pretzels topped with a whipped cream and cream cheese mixture, and then you pour Jell-O and strawberries over the top. Can you say yummy?

5

Okay, this is honestly the best cake you will ever eat in your life. I got the recipe from my BH&G magazine last year and have gotten my whole family addicted to this cake, picky eaters and all. I’m making it for Christmas Eve, so maybe I’ll get the recipe up here for you all to start your own traditions with this cake. I swapped out the coconut extract in the cake batter for orange, because it added a lot more depth of flavor with the coconut, cranberries, and walnuts in between layers. It is seriously incredible, and it only gets better the longer you let it set. Also freezes wonderfully, if you let it get that far. ~__^  

6Mm mm mmmmm. My mom makes these amazing caramelized cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning since as far back as I can remember. Now that I’m older, I get to help her prep the night before so we can sit back and enjoy Christmas morning and then come away from the fire to the smell of baking cinnamon rolls. *sigh* I just keep telling myself, “Six more days, six more days…”

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