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.
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.
-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
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
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!
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
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!!!
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”*
I returned from another fun-filled day at San Diego Comic Con (swag, books, panels, fun. Details to come!) to a surprise package on my doorstep.
Yes, my copies of Defying Shadows have arrived!!! I requested a few more copies of Chasing Shadows, and I’m so excited to bring these with me when I fly out to Pennsylvania for Realm Makers next week. And I’ll admit I had some fun staging little mock battles between Damien (Hook) and Will (Arrow).
Also, a ton of people on Facebook are already posting pictures of their copies of the book that arrived on their doorsteps today, and I’m so excited that this is finally happening. I know you’ll laugh and cry and hate some of the characters while sobbing over others with all the love you have in your heart. But I hope, most of all, that these characters stay with you for a long time, as I know they’ll live in my heart forever.
Find your own copy of Defying Shadows, the final book in the Rising Shadows Trilogy, on Amazon today. If you post your pics of your copy, use #TeamHood and tag @TownsendTales for a surprise!
And don’t forget that the Rafflectoper giveaway only goes through 11:59pm this Sunday. So follow the link below to enter to win an Amazon gift card and your own paperback copy of Defying Shadows
Sick of ‘Em? Kill ‘Em . . . in Fiction!
We all know those authors, the ones who can’t figure out a place for a beloved character or think it will be just sooo dramatic and win them some kind of award if they randomly kill them off. If you’ve ever picked up a book or binge-watched a TV series, then you’ve probably experienced one of those Fictional Deaths Heard ‘Round the World. It’s that terrifying scene where you aren’t sure how they can get out of it this time, that breathless moment of denial that your favorite character could die and that a writer could be so cruel. And in the instant that they perish, your denial turns to tears, which evolve into a heart-wrenching, gut-twisting lifetime of pain.
To honor those gone-too-soon heroes of fiction, I’ve compiled a short list of some of the fictional deaths that still twist my insides and provide a plethora of ugly sobs, though there are plenty more where these came from. This post will be spoiler-rich, so if you’re still waiting to read anything by Bodi Ashton or Cassandra Clare or have yet to watch Buffy, then you had best just avoid reading any further. Or if you know precisely what I’m talking about, then feel free to lament these fictional deaths all over again with me! *raises imaginary cup of shared pain and throws bars of dark chocolate into the air*
#3: Jem Carstairs in The Clockwork Princess
Chances are you’ve heard about The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare, but if you’ve read this series, then it’s safe to assume you’re still walking strangely. (And that Epilogue–just why??!!)
Jem is possibly the sweetest, most sacrificial and tragic character you will ever encounter. He’s been ill for most of his life and has to take this silver powder called yin fen to stave off the weakening effects of his disease so he can continue to live a relatively normal life. BUT the caveat is that the medicine he needs to function is killing him more quickly. His friends try to wean him off the poison to lengthen his days, but Jem wants to spend what remains of his life with his friends and his fiance, Tessa. And when she is taken, he stays on the yin fen to have enough strength to find her. But he becomes so sick anyway and weakens while Will (be still my heart! Never have I been so torn between two characters) goes out to find Tessa, who is in love with BOTH FRIENDS. Yeah, it’s messed up. So while Jem lies dying because he took too much medicine/poison to save his fiance, Will is off saving her. The tragic part–well, one of them–is that Jem always knew he was second violin to Will (poor joke), but he never held a grudge against his friend and loved him like a brother, and for a time they were all they had. I shed tears for Jem dying without either Will or Tessa, and I cried for Will’s loss when he was told his parabatai had died (Tessa who? She has feelings?!).
But almost more tragic than Jem’s “death” is the fact that he didn’t actually die. Waaaa???? What do I mean?
On the brink of death, Jem was turned into a Silent Brother, sort of like a monk with an eternal vow of silence that they all considered freaks for a lot of the series. The most horrific aspect of this change is that our Jem, whose greatest solace was found in playing his violin, must live in the Silent City where music is forbidden. And he did it all to fight one final battle with Will and Tessa and protect them. Yeah, killing him is too easy. Let’s destroy his life ans everything he holds dear.
Even though he didn’t technically die, he still makes this list because the Jem we fell in love with disappeared and was replaced by this tragic creatures. *ugly sobbing*
#2 Cole in Evertrue
Ohmysweetgoodness. First fictional death I ever really cried over. Cole is a total bad-boy, rock star, soul-sucker in Everneath, but I found him totally fascinating. He appeared to have this vague, broken past, but all we really know about him is that he chose Nikki to be his “life-support” for 100 years and wants her back.
When you see how he tried to protect Nikki in the Everneath and hear how he was a lost, lonely boy tricked into becoming what he is . . . Let’s just say he became a sympathetic “villain” in an instant. He disappoints you at the end of Everbound, but you can’t even be mad at him in Evertrue because he tries so hard to make things right and gets his memory swiped, so he thinks he’s an innocent Norseman who has no clue of the torment he’s caused! *sucks in a breath*
Nikki and Cole (whose memory has been restored by the end) are trying to destroy the Everneath throughout the book. BUT they also have to destroy the thing that tethers them to the Everneath to complete the process, which means they will return to their human forms. Cole is tired of taking life from others to survive and tearfully tells Nikki that they have to break their tethers, which means that he will return to his 900-year-old self. Desperately, Nikki begs for his heart before he can break it and turn to dust to close the portal to the Underworld. But he just kisses her and tells her she already has his heart, and THEN HE SNAPS THE PICK AND TURNS TO DUST.
It’s so horrible because he changes in the end and chooses to sacrifice himself to protect Nikki and make up for his past. I could barely see the page through my tears, and the watermarks are still on my book.
#1 Angel from Buffy
He was Stefan before there was Stefan, and he was too cool to sparkle
I know it happened over 15 years ago, but believe me when I say that the tears are still flowing from this scene oh-so-long ago. This fictional death is actually what sparked this post of tragedy and eternal torment (thanks, Liz!) . . . and also the fact that writers won’t stop killing off beloved characters.
Quick background if you never watched television in the ’90s: Buffy and Angel were the ultimate star-crossed lovers of the decade. A vampire slayer + a vampire with a soul and a conscience and who hates what he was turned into = perfection. There are a few other obstacles in their way–for instance, if he experiences a moment of pure joy, his soul will be stripped from him and he will revert to the monster he was before. Yeah, big problem, but it makes for the best romance on TV!
Which brings me to the most dramatic fictional death of all time.
Angel does, in fact, find a moment of true happiness with Buffy, and he loses his soul because of it. It is this epic race to stop the total maniac he was before, and Buffy loves him too much to kill him, even though there is absolutely no sign of his kind and tender former self. But when Angel plans to open a portal that will destroy the world, she knows she has to kill him or send him into the portal, since only his blood can stop what he started.
There is a super dramatic battle between the two, and Buffy is getting ready to stab him through the heart when Angel ‘s soul is suddenly returned to him (let the cries of exaltation and fangirling ensue!).
He just looks at her and says her name like she’s all he understands, and Buffy just knows he’s returned to her. They have this beautiful moment together, and we the fans are already crying with joy at this point. BUT THEN she sees over his should that the portal has already been opened, which means the end of the world if she doesn’t make a decision to act, and you can just see in her eyes how it guts her. Angel clearly has no idea of her inner struggle as she tearfully admits that she never stopped loving him. Then she tells him to close his eyes and that everything is going to be all right. . . . AND THEN SHE STABS HIM!
Believe me, we all felt that mortal wound to our core. Angel looks so confused and betrayed because he’s her Angel, and he has no idea why she would do that to him. It’s so tragic because it was Angelus who did those horrible things, and now he’s our sweet Angel again and has no idea that Buffy had to kill him to save the world. The torment!!! All he knows is that Buffy stabbed him and then let him get sucked into the portal to close it, and there’s no time to explain. So he dies confused and hurt and betrayed. The gut-wrenching death of Angel was analyzed and cried over for weeks, and we still shudder when we think on it nearly two decades later. Don’t even get me started on how much we cried during “I Will Remember You” from Angel.
Now, please excuse me while I consume an entire chocolate pie after reopening these very real wounds caused by fictional characters and their demises.
Come hither, come hither! (wherever “hither” is) I have some exciting news! Drum roll please.
DEFYING SHADOWS IS OFFICIALLY OFF TO THE PUBLISHER!!!
After rushing to get the final round of edits done–moving past burning eyes, late nights, coffee abuse, and a serious lack of social engagements–Defying Shadows (click here to add it on Goodreads) is officially ready to go to print. WEEEEEE!!!!!!
It has literally been a decade from the start of this series to getting Rising Shadows published (see where it all began here), seeing Chasing Shadows in print, and now sending off the final book in the trilogy. I am crazy excited to share it with you all (July 2016 release date TBA), but it’s also a little strange to know that this series has come to a close.
Of course, I’ll read it when it comes out (say, 20 or 100 times), but I’ll never get to write a new scene between Sarah and Will, never laugh at Karen and Seth’s antics (the badger moment you will experience in Defying Shadows), and never sigh with confused emotions when Damien breaks/mends my heart a thousand times over.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” sounds pretty appropriate for how I felt doing that final read-through. But although it is incredibly bittersweet to send my little word-child off to the presses all on his lonesome (yes, I laughed, I cried), it’s also really exciting to have the chance to dive into new series and novels that have been gnawing at my writer-mind for so long. Plus, I can always go back to visit Sarah and the gang in Serimone because . . . badum da dum!!! . . . yet another surprise:
RISING SHADOWS IS COMING OUT IN PAPERBACK!!!
That’s right, Ink Smith requested the rights to have the first book, so it will be re-released in paperback in mid- late-July along with Defying Shadows.
Soon, I will have the ENTIRE Rising Shadows Trilogy on my bookshelf, looking all pretty and fabulous, and you will too! And because Rising Shadows will be revamped in paperback in a month, I figured the oldest sibling in the family needed a new look. I’m not going to ask for a show of hands (because I can’t see your hands), so I’m just going to assume I can drop another bombshell on you today and REVEAL THE NEW COVER FOR RISING SHADOWS!!! ^_^
“Would you entrust your future with a hero of the past?”
I know, it’s fabulous, feel free to fangirl.
The incredibly talented Elegant Stylus (click here to stay updated on future designs), who imagined the drool-worthy cover for Defying Shadows, also decided to revamp the cover for Book I in the trilogy, and I am LOVING it! Feel free to share around, and I am waiting with baited breath for the moment these lovelies can all grace my shelf, side by side. I might even have an entire room for them. Hmm. Something to consider.
Oh, Renee, you never cease to amaze me! *happy sigh*
After Renee Ahdieh’s “The Wrath and the Dawn” blew–let’s be honest–EVERYONE away (and also after I met the sweet, hilarious writing genius at Comic-Con 2015), the book fandom world suffered greatly for a year in anticipation of the final installment in the duology. Then came a description and the cover!!! (Shipper hearts exploded everywhere) And, finally, after millions of painful hours spent crying softly with want and need, the book arrived.
Oh, how the heavens rejoiced!!!
Anyway, you know I’m not one for being the recipient OR giver of spoilers, so I’ll just give you a brief overview of the story through “Teen Wolf” gifs. Now, come, enter our fandom. WARNING! There are no exits.
The book begins with Shazi at the camp Tariq brings her to, and it was actually nice to see them interacting again. But as much as I like Tariq, I have been waiting a year for Khazi to reconnect, so OUT OF THE WAY!!! At long last, once Shazi came to Khalid on her magic carpet (trying so hard not to sing the Steppenwolf song right now!), it was like nothing else mattered in the world.
And there is this one moment where something happens to Shazi (no spoilers!), and Khalid is about to go into full-on zombie mode to avenge her. I believe every fangirl felt this way in that instant:
But, inevitably, now that we’ve had some great times together, there’s bound to be some drama. Or, like, truckloads of it. I finished the book in two days (if it wasn’t for eating, sleeping, and work, I could have finished sooner!), and I was basically a hot, concerned mess until the last page.
And when Khalid fights to free himself from his curse, we were all cheering him on.
The only issue (“issue” even sounds extreme, since its just my preference) that I had with the book was that there sometimes wasn’t enough of Shazi and Khalid together–plenty of pages were dedicated to secondary characters. For example, I like Irsa as a person, I really do, but sometimes having entire chapters dedicated to her (when you just know Khazi it out there somewhere) was a little tedious. Though I always looked forward to Rahim in her scenes! But as much as we love them, raise your hand if you don’t want Irsa to occupy half of Khazi’s story.
Although having so many secondary characters at the forefront of the story was sometimes distracting, when one of them–one of my favorite characters–lost his life, I was totally broken up over it and shed several tears. But then I couldn’t see the page and had to dry my tears so I could finish!!!
And somehow Renee can break your heart and then mend it 1,000 times over. Just. Sigh. One of the most perfect series enders I have read in a long time. Kudos, Renee!
But I was so entrenched in the story that once I had rushed through to the end and placed the finished story aside, it hit me that it was over. I had just read the epilogue, and the series was over! Excuse me while I die and then proceed to re-read “The Wrath and the Dawn” 40 times.
Now buy, BUY the book! What are you waiting for? GOOOOOOOO!!!!
So you’ve seen the ah-mazing fan art that @Readiculousgirl created for “Chasing Shadows” (drool worthy!!!), and the giveaway went live this morning—the entries are pouring in! Keep entering and sharing the link for the Rafflecopter, and come back each day to enter again until the giveaway ends October 16th! And don’t forget to earn entries toward the 2 social media prizes by tagging @TownsendTales and using #TeamHood #ChasingShadowsBook https://ashley-townsend.com/2015/10/04/chasing-shadows-1-year-celebration-giveaway/
Now that we’re having a blast celebrating the 1-year birthday of “Chasing Shadows” with freebies and fan art, I figured I might give you a sneak peak at “Defying Shadows,” the final installment in the “Rising Shadows trilogy.” Don’t panic!
You can freak out if you want to, actually—that’s totally all right with me. This is a never-before-seen sample from “Defying Shadows” that even my team of Hooders (beta readers) have yet to see yet. You all know how important this series is to me, so it’s so fun to be able to share a tempting morsel of some of the final words of the series. *feels attack* Curious? Keep reading, and reblog to your friends!
The wrinkled paper glared at her, the thick glob of red wax a stark contrast against the slightly yellow parchment. She knew the letter contained Damien’s writing, though she hadn’t yet brought herself to break the seal after months of holding it in her possession, unopened but never far from her mind.
Her hand twitched as she slid her finger under the seal with careful movements, the wax cracking and lifting as she did so. She held her breath when the seal broke and the letter unfolded an inch. She ignored the small piece of paper, crinkled and yellowed with age—whether because she’d left it in her dirty laundry for months or because it was nearly a thousand years old, she couldn’t say—that fell to the floor. She carefully held open Damien’s letter; his tight, beautiful script filled the entire page, as though he’d needed every inch for his thoughts, his looping a’s painfully familiar. Her eyes scanned quickly, unseeing, over the whole of the letter and then returned to the top, to the three perfectly sculpted words that looked like he had penned them with painstaking care: My dearest Sarah—
Abruptly, she snatched the smaller letter from the floor, stuffed it between the pages of Damien’s missive once more, and smashed the paper between her hands, balling it in her fists and chucking both letters the room with a screech of annoyance. It hit the frosted window and fell lamely to the floor atop a mound of clothes Clara had left behind.
Feeling restless in her dorm room, where the air had suddenly become too thin to breathe properly, Sarah grabbed her heavy vest off the mattress and slipped her arms through it, not bothering to zip up the front. She shoved her feet into her leather boots and booked it down the stairs, needing fresh air. A girl she vaguely recognized smiled at her in the foyer, saying a friendly, “Have a great vacation!”
“You, too,” Sarah managed.
She immediately felt refreshed once she stepped outside into the cold, and the air helped to clear her head. The layers of soft white fluff covering the dead grass and piled on the trees that had been decorated with colorful lights made it look like Christmas had arrived on campus. Aside from those few bodies currently inhabiting the grounds, campus was otherwise deserted, Sarah realized as she let her gaze wander the snowy landscape. Hardly another soul in sight.
That was why her eyes found his so easily.
Sarah stopped dead in her tracks, arms falling to her sides in surprise. A dark-haired man stared back at her, and she could see, even from this distance, that his wide eyes were a deep blue. She imagined that she could make out the lighter blue ring surrounding his indigo irises, how the shadow along his jaw would feel against her fingertips. She blinked, sure he was a mirage, but he was still there when she opened her eyes. He looked exactly as she had last seen him—handsome, tall, and dressed for a different age—though he was also strangely like a ghost at the same time. It wasn’t that she could see through him, but there was something off about his appearance that was so subtle Sarah wondered if she might be imagining it.
Will’s lips parted when their gazes met, mouth working almost in slow motion as he shook his head. She squinted, trying to make out the words but too distracted by the fact that Will was in Oklahoma, on her campus, in the twenty-first century. Every instance they had spent together slammed into her, washing over her in a flood and reminding her just how much she had missed him, how much she loved him, and how he should not be here.
He advanced a step, eyes as big as saucers as he moved forward, motioning with one hand for her to come his way. He looked alarmed as he moved toward her, though his movements looked off somehow.
She spun to find her professor behind her, smiling cordially. On instinct, she quickly whipped her head back around, though the apparition had already disappeared. She blinked, swallowing over how silly she had been to think he had been there at all, though she couldn’t keep her eyes from roving the grounds another moment in deluded hope. He had looked so real….
Her heart rate returned to normal, though there was a pain in her chest now. No, she reminded herself dully, Will is dead, and you’ll never see him in this world, or the next.
I know how you feel—I basically reacted this way while I was writing the scene. Right in the fangirl!
I tried to pick a spoiler-free sample from “Defying Shadows” so that it won’t ruin the series for those of you who have yet to begin, but I also really wanted to torture my fans. Muwahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!! But you all know I love you. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you and God’s mercy, so I gotta share some love and feels! Oh, and Hiddles love.