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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!

writing

 

 

 

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The Fangirl’s Guide to Navigating Life, Vol. 2

Published May 5, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

The Fangirl’s Guide to Navigating Life, Vol. 2:

Surviving a Series Ender

You’re incredibly excited about a new series, devour every book in the same week it releases, and proudly display every piece of book-swag you received for your dedication. And as you’re shedding joyous tears over the last page of the story and thinking about what new pins to add to your character boards, it suddenly hits you: That’s it, there are no more books left in the series. You’ve read them all like a manic without considering the fact that one day they would come to an end. Now all you’re left with is the memories of the story and a future that stretches out before you like a dark abyss.

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brain is crying

We’ve all been there, although maybe your experience wasn’t quite as dramatic as this. But that’s neither here nor there.

It’s okay to hide in a dark hole for a short time and hope that the author decides to write another book in the series, but let’s be real: YOU NEED SUNLIGHT! And a shower, and food, and to give your cramping hands a break after holding a book for so long (most commonly obtained from books by Cassandra Claire and Sarah J. Maas). To help you overcome the tragedy that is the conclusion of a fabulous series—the pain, the agony, the tears!!—I’ve created a list of a few tried and true techniques to help you move past the crushing disappointment of the end of a book era. Because, seriously, you need emotional support after this.

feelings

-Feast on chocolate and/or (but especially “and”) ice cream

. . . . I’m sorry, is an explanation even necessary? I think not!!!!!

-Buy a shock blanket

shock blanket

Trust me, you’re going to need this

Drink all the coffee!!

For staying awake to search the online fandom pages and Pinterest boards to feel closer to the characters after it’s over. Better yet, just buy a plantation so you can grow your own beans. It’s a worthy investment.

Find a fandom candle

captain hook candle

In the Wick of Time and Flickering Fandoms make amazing candles inspired by so many different books and characters. You’ll fall in love and be reminded of your favorite characters every time you smell it!

-Music, baby

Accept the fact that “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. and Simon and Gafunkel’s “Sounds of Silence” are a part of life now. (Best paired along with the shock blanket and candle, also tested by me.)

-Create a Pinterest Board

 

napoleon dynamite typing

Strange as it seems, searching the web for images that inspire memories of the books-gone-by makes you feel like the characters haven’t left you entirely and helps with the healing process.

And the most important I’ve-lost-my-way technique:

-BUY A NEW BOOK!!!

richard excited face

Trust me, the best way to get over the end of an amazing series is to wash the tears from your face, swap out those Nutella-stained sweatpants for some jeans, and get back in the bookstore. You never know what magic awaits you! *hums the tune to “Back in the Saddle Again”*

Are You Ready to Rumblllleeee?

Published October 4, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

The Chasing Shadows 1-Year Celebration giveaway and party will begin in just a few minutes!

Dean O'Gorman in The Almighty Johnsons |   His face is like, "Food you say?" Lolololololo! That's my face half the time. literally. Lolololol!

I know, it’s pretty exciting. Gift cards and free books and questions and excerpts and fan art and just–BAH! So grab a coffee, strap yourself in, and get your fingers ready for some serious giveaway/reading/not so spoily spoiler fun!

I’m guessing I’ll see you back here in a few minutes.

to make me feel better when i'm having a bad day. Eye of the Tiger, baby! haha! #BestGIFEver

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. 

The Indispensable Author’s Arsenal

Published September 9, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

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

 

And So it Begins Again!

Published August 20, 2013 by Ashley Townsend

Ah, the first week of the fall semester. *gives a prolonged sniff* Can you smell it in the air? Smells like teen spirit! Actually, it really has more of an odor of desperation as everyone scrambles to get a perfect schedule, tie up their summer fun with a pretty bow, and try to navigate the swirling mass of students who are just as desperate as them to salvage what’s left of their summer. Let the games begin!

run

For some reason, watching that mass of students herding toward the library or through the quad reminds me of the wildebeest scene in The Lion King, only you’re Mufasa, and you just pray you don’t lose your balance and get trampled by the herd. Then, of course, there are always a few hecklers milling about on the grass, cackling like hyenas, and you’re just thinking you can’t wait to be king and graduate. Pretty much sums up the first week of class before you settle into the groove of things.

hye

Then there are those students who, before the first week of class is over, have their online postings and responses completed, extra credit in the making, and already love probing the instructor with “insightful” questions that launch the teacher into an excited diatribe on economics or the beauty of mathematical science in raising marmosets in some jungle, or whatever, that causes class to go way over. And then, if you’re like me and don’t mentally get into the groove until week two (when you map out and color-coordinate the rest of the semester), yet somehow manage to roll out of bed each morning, you most likely have toothpicks propping your eyelids open and a cup of dark Joe in your clenched fist. Seriously, the amount of coffee consumed by American college students during the first and last weeks of each semester is astounding.

asleep

So, basically, there are four types of students, fantastically speaking: The Dragons, Zombie Children, the ghosts, and the Unicorns.

dragon

Dragons are pretty self-explanatory; they’re the students who overachieve and stress themselves out by accomplishing every task with absolute perfection a week before anything is due. They won’t have to take the final, but they’ll be in therapy that day anyway. Oh, yeah, and sometimes they breathe fire. Awesome!

warm

The Zombies tend to stumble into their early morning class with a beanie smashed on their head and a strong espresso in hand. Their eyes are generally glazed over, but somehow they manage to complete the assignment that morning and get a pretty good grade. Come on, admit it; you’ve been a zombie at one point or another in your college careers.

invi

The Ghosts kind of just, well, vanish after the first week of class, only taking on a tangible human form to turn in large assignments and take tests. You’ve probably thought you’ve seen them around town, but when you look back, they’re gone. Whenever the teacher calls on someone to answer a question, she never quite seems to notice them, like they’re the Invisible Man, or something. Yet somehow they manage a passing grade.

univ

And then there are the Unicorns. Super-human, mystical creatures of beauty. They seem to flit in and out of class without a care, acing everything slapped onto their desk. They do the extra credit, though it’s unnecessary, and the instructor is instantly their best friend. Worse still; they never seem to need coffee. This type of personality is actively sought out by other students when it comes time to group-up, so snag ‘em first!

So, what category do you fit into? Most of us probably have a smattering of each, though we can’t seem to disappear as easily as the Ghosts do. May the fittest survive! And the rest of you, sit back and enjoy the show!

The Overactive Imagination

The Writing and Randomness of a Physical Therapist and Sci-Fi/Fantasy Author

Brianna Merritt Writing

Official Website

Tricia Mingerink

Action, Faith, & Adventure

Amy Brock McNew ~Author~

Fantastical tales of love & war

Amy Brandes Speaker & Writer

DEW LIFE... And DO It Well.

Donna's BookShelf

Sharing my love of books...

Oh, the Stories You'll Know

A place devoted to books, movies and TV. Books are food for the soul.

Morgan L. Busse

In Darkness there is Light

of words & books

read. write. drink tea

It's Not Just Make Believe

I just want to write all day in Neverland

BooksAndBookmarks

You cant buy Happiness, but you can buy Books and that's kind of the same thing.

Mariella Hunt

sometimes an author

iwritemyheartdotcom

Writing Romance

Lisa Gefrides

REACH Co-op

Lydia Thomas, Author

from poisoned to redeemed

Penprints

God. Life. Writing. Reading.

Nadine Brandes

Fusing authentic faith and bold imagination

familyrecipebooks

Preserving the family recipes of the past

Mustard Seed Budget

FINANCES FOR YOUR MINISTRY

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