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Part 3: Did You Really Just Ask That?

Published February 19, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

Writing is an Art, I Tell You!

Part 3: Did You Really Just Ask That?

The only good excuse a writer has for delaying a blog post is because they were, well, writing. And I was, I promise! I was busying immersing myself in Serimone and working through the final three chapters of Defying Shadows (click here)—you know, that book I was supposed to finish months ago? Yeah. . . . But fret not, eager beavers! It’s going to be worth the wait.

Now, onto this weeks writing rant.

happy dance

Last time you learned all you could ever wish to know about writers block, and while deadlines and re-writes and copy-editing can sometimes be a very necessary drag in the writing process, there are some things that just burn the proverbial biscuits of every writer (inspired by conversations with authors over the past week).

Comments/Questions authors hate the most:

  1. Oh, you’re a writer. How cute.

mind

It’s not like I’m a professional panda hugger! (Although, dang, that job would be sweet) Whenever I hear this observation, yeah—no comment. . . . Which I see now is kind of a moot point after I commented, but we’re just going to ignore that fact for now.

  1. It’s been over a month. Are you finished with your novel yet?

for real

Oh, yes, please excuse my while I pull 400+ pages from the magical rear of the Story Unicorn, where every author stores their grand ideas that can be brought to life, macro and copy-edited, and produced in paperback in a solid 30 days.

  1. There isn’t really any money in writing, you know.

bonnet

Really? Oh, I had no idea! The only reason why I’d ever pour my soul out on a blank canvas is so that I could earn massive cash and swim in it like Scrooge McDuck. I’ll just call up Michelangelo and let him know we’ve been doing it wrong. . . . Okay, so that’s a bit dramatic, but you get the general picture.

  1. How hard could it be?

testing

Considering there are a few thousand workshops and conferences each year, support groups, actual writer-themed chocolate and alcohol called “Writer’s Tears” to comfort you when you receive poor reviews, and ENTIRE boards and memes on Pinterest dedicated to the struggles of writing, I believe it’s safe to say that it can be a bit difficult at times.

  1. Can you just give me the summary of your little book so I don’t have to read it?

ron swanson

  1. Don’t you want a real job?

what

Yes, I have heard this before. I was very calm at the time, but let’s be honest, when you spend approximately 40,000 hours pouring every ounce of mental strength into a story that you alone created, completely draining yourself emotionally and depriving yourself of sleep for something that’s meaningful to you . . . Yes, it can be a little painful to hear that people believe what you do is sweet, too easy to be a career, or completely childish. Honestly, when did being creative mean that you weren’t an adult, or that productive imagination meant you weren’t mature? And how did daydreaming become a bad thing?! Some of the greatest minds in history were considered “creative” geniuses and dreamers. 

daydreaming

Some people are born with the creative gene, but so many of us have had to hone our creativity over the years, working day and night to produce something mediocre that we had to re-work again and again until we got it right. Because it was worth it.

Writing isn’t for the faint of heart, and I’m not just saying this post applies to authors alone; I can securely bet a stack of my books that at least half of you can relate to these crafty jabs in some way. And you know what I’m beginning to realize? It’s okay! I read this interesting quote the other day, and I’ll probably butcher it, but basically it said to keep doing whatever it is that makes you happy, even if others tell you that your effort is wasted or you’ll never be good enough: Passion and effort are never wasted when you’re working toward a goal that pleases God, and the harder it becomes, the more rewarding it will be in the end. So, find that niche that makes you happy and go for it. You might even surprise yourself!

 

 

 

 

Part 2: Overcoming the “Block”

Published February 6, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

Writing is an Art, I Tell You!

Part 2: Overcoming the “Block”

As you saw in Part 1 of this series, there are many different types of writers, and I’d like to think that no two authors are exactly the same. Yet we all react to writer’s block in similar ways, which is unavoidable no matter what writing technique you use (Plotting, Pantsing, or Plotting-Pantsing). If you aren’t familiar with this term of torture, then, hello! Welcome back to earth, because clearly you were kidnapped by aliens and have been held hostage for some time and haven’t been paying attention to Pinterest series about Writer’s Problems. But if this is the case and you were abducted by extraterrestrials, then I am truly sorry and want to educate you on one of the few negatives of writing.
block

Common side effects of writer’s block include, but are not limited to:

anxiety

(noun: distress or uneasiness of the mind)

  1. I feel such anxiety because my deadline is near and I can’t seem to pull myself together and get over this dreaded block. . . . And when did my fairytale romance suddenly become a sci-fi theater drama with space buffalos?!

hair loss, due to it being pulled from ones scalp in irritation (see definition of  

anxiety above)

frustration

(noun: a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems)

binge-watching

(verb: a brief period of excessive indulgence)

This unhealthy act generally concerns television when one would rather procrastinate than try to push through the aforementioned block.

How do I escape the block? By being a mature adult and just getting it done?

ace

 

By procrastinating, silly goose! Okay, so I have to admit that there are some days when I just have to push through and try to reach my goal, despite my creative—ahem—blockage. But, man, let me tell you, looking up procrastination gifs and memes on Pinterest can definitely be inspiring. Shocked, are we? Let me tell you how this process goes.

wrtiers

Step 1. Look up random pins on procrastination.

Step 2. Laugh hysterically, because they’re just so relatable.

Step 3. Spend 30 minutes scrolling through related pins that eventually lead to one

about actual writing.

Step 4. Find a random story pin that leads you toward a gaggle of images that inspire

a barrage of exciting story ideas that never before had you considered.

Step 5. WRITE!

Aaaaaand, voilá! Suddenly you have a thousand words flowing from your fingertips. That horrible time of doubt and mistrust that those fingers would ever produce anything meaningful again flees, and you’re left with, amazingly, a story.

mozart

But at the end of the day, after you’ve trekked your way over the hump and have found your groove once more, there is one truth that is universally acknowledged.

mal

This random post is brought to you by,

Little Miss Procrastination (I should be starting my next series, but instead I’m telling you how to procrastinate . . . the irony is not lost, my friends.)

Definitions taken from my handy dandy Webster’s Dictionary app!

Part 1: Plotting v. Pantsing

Published January 29, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

Writing is an Art, I Tell You!

Part 1: Plotting v. Pantsing

WARNING!

messy

Ah, writers. We can be curious creatures, each having different writing talents and habits as we pound out our creativity on the keyboard, praying that the tangled story that seems just brilliant in our minds will appear on the page with even a modicum of clarity (sometimes with very little success). But to make this curious bag of creative minds a little easier to explain—indie and sci-fi and fantasy and YA and non-fic and historical and middle grade *sucks in a breath*—I have divided the types writers into three general groups.

Types of Writers:

The Plotter

plot

This type of writer loves to plot out their entire manuscript, in vivid detail, generally before they sit down to write a single morsel. The process of a Plotter involves a lot of organization, forethought, notecards, and perhaps strings linking images from one side of the room to the other (although I have always wanted to try this method, I have yet to prove if this method exists outside of TV). They enjoy creating a word count goal for the final product and designating what events should occur in each chapter and each. Blasted. Paragraph!

Pros: After weeks or months of plotting out their entire novel/series to a T, the result is a fairly smooth writing process, and all their intense preparation leaves room for very few plot holes and little to no rewrites.

Cons: Nobody puts Baby in a corner! There is absolutely no margin for error in the tale or creative rewrites because your entire story fits into, essentially, a single mold that reaches a single conclusion. So if you want to eliminate/add a character and/or scene, good luck!

The Pantster

random

*rolls eyes* Yes, we all wish we could be a total Pantster and have an incredible idea for a beginning and end to a story, and then just magically write an entire middle with absolutely no storyline errors or issues with how the plot suddenly evolved. I said we’d like to do that. The truth of the matter is that being a Pantster can be hard, like, really hard. Some writers can pull it off, and this was basically how I wrote my first novel Rising Shadows. But because I went this route, I spent a couple years playing around with my first book, doing countless rewrites and total plot conversions. It. Was. A. Hassle.

            Pros: You have tons of creative control over your story and will never get fenced in by your pre-constructed plot structure.

            Cons: You have absolutely no pre-constructed plot structure and therefore can write yourself into a hole that you have absolutely no idea how to write yourself out of because there was no real story structure to keep you on track in the first place!

The Plotting Pantster

surprise

I am proud to lump myself in with this category. This type of writer does not like to be fenced in by a specifically designed and action-by-action plot that is already completely detailed out, with no room for creative shifts or changes. But they also acknowledge that flying by the seat of their pants all the time can hinder their progress and that they need some creative structure. What I did for Chasing Shadows and Defying Shadows was create a general plot structure for the stories—big plot reveals, events that had to occur before another instance, important character revelations—that helped to keep the stories on track and events in order, but it also allows room for a ton of creative freedom and surprises for me along the way. I hate making a writing project seem like schoolwork and having zero freedom, so the culmination of the two techniques works for me (plotting and flying by the seat of my author-pants!). It also helps to have a couple big events jotted down on notecards because then you can put a little checkmark beside each one once it’s written, which means you won’t have to flip through half your manuscript trying to figure out if you’ve already addressed something. And trust me, you will at some point. Plotting out certain big events really helps you to keep your focus, but you’ll never lose that creative freedom to have fun with your story. That’s the most important part!

         Pros: see above description

            Cons: N/A (I thought that should be obvious)

So, are you a Plotter, Pantster, or a little bit of both? The creative choice is yours, my fellow bibliophiles!

This post is sponsored by,

A Plotting Pantster

Stop by for Part 2 in the “Writing is an Art, I Tell You!” series. Coming soon!

 

 

 

Please excuse me. It’s #NaNoWriMo Season.

Published November 13, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

buzz

Ah, yes, NaNoWriMo. A time during the month of November when authors attempt to climb the tip of Everest in the form of reaching a *cough* small goal of 50,000 words in their WIP (work in progress). A time when writers gain 20 lbs from sitting around, act emotionally unstable and irritable, down more caffeine than is deemed medically safe, start crying at random after looking blissfully inspired a moment before, eat their weight in chocolate, and are finally committed (for crimes that our search engines inspired when we called it “research”). Basically, it’s like the Hunger Games for writers: Let the WriMo begin! And may the word count be ever in your favor. . . . (My sisters and I are going to see Mockingjay Part 2 next week at this incredible theater with recliner chairs, so it’s kind of on my mind. ^_^)

An update on my progress so far of 50,000 words: You can see on my Facebook page that I did a brief update on my word count (15,000), which I felt pretty awesome about, considering work and life have been crazy lately and I haven’t had nearly as much time to write as I’d like. But then my last math class from three years ago kept nudging me to use basic mathematics, which was a little depressing.

“If Susan’s goal is to reach 50,000 words in 30 days (apx. 1,667 words per day), and in 13 days Susan has only hit 15,000 words, then her average per-day word count is 1,100 per day. Susan is currently 500 words behind schedule x 13 days= 6,500, which means Susan is in trouble.”

jensen

Yeah, I don’t like math, either. o.0 Please excuse me while I hole myself up in my room and have food and water delivered by a mute to avoid distractions. But before I disappear from the land of the living and immerse myself in the fantasy world of Serimone/other realms, here is a series of pictures and gifs that explain NaNoWriMo process.

The beginning: Innocent excitement and total absorption by your WIP

challenge

busy

Then you realize that keeping a regular schedule isn’t as easy as you thought and slack off a little

500

And then distractions come when you’ve been away from the world too long

coffee shop

haven't written

Suddenly, you realize November is almost over and pull out every last trick in the book (it doesn’t matter if your fantasy novel turned into a spy saga set in ancient times on the moon–just FINISH!!)

typing

Towards November 28th as you start to lose it: KEEP IT TOGETHER!!!

hold it together

losing it

And at the end of it all, NaNoWriMo can be summed up in one gif

success

And you didn’t think that in all the craziness I forgot #FanArtFriday, did you? *maniacal cackle* Silly goose! I might forget to put on real pants or take my fuzzy slippers off when I go out in public during November, but I never forget anything associated with my stories. . . . Unless, of course, that brilliant inspiration comes at 4am and I don’t have paper, and I assure myself that it’s so earth-shaking and incredible that I’ll definitely remember–only to wake up the next morning with a vague inclination that I might have had an epiphany the night before. Anyway, this is probably one of my favorite pieces, because this scene just gives me the feels. Enjoy guys!

defying shadows 2

Defying Shadows—A Glimpse Between the Pages

Published October 4, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

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!

shock

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.

“Miss Matthews.”

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.

panic

I know how you feel—I basically reacted this way while I was writing the scene. Right in the fangirl!

agony

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.

kiss

Chasing Shadows 1-Year Celebration & Giveaway!!!

Published October 4, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

HAPPY 1-YEAR BIRTHDAY, CHASING SHADOWS!

Staying in tonight? That's alright! Here are The 10 Best Things About Spending A #Friday #Night At Home! #10 is my personal favorite. :)

AND congrats to this blog on its 200th post! (yes, I did purposefully time it this way)

I cannot believe it’s been an entire year since I received the news—the day after my birthday, I might add—that “Chasing Shadows” was officially available to the world. Basically, the best birthday present a bibliophile and writer could ever wish for! I’d like to say it’s been an easy road and that there have been no hiccups along the way, but if this isn’t your first time stopping by, you know otherwise. But every time, God always came through and somehow gave me the encouragement to keep plugging along when things got tough. This series is incredibly special to me, and if you’re just now hearing about it (heads up: Will is mine), please feel free to look around the site and check out the books, spoiler-free character interviews, playlist for each story, etc. And be sure to stick around for the day because I’ll be posting fan art from “Chasing Shadows,” talking about the series, and giving special glimpses of “Defying Shadows” (TBR January 2016) throughout the day. AND don’t even get me started–yet–on the massive giveaway.

greaSo how, you might ask, does a young author spend the Sunday after her birthday while celebrating the birthday of her infant book with giveaways and whatnot? She refuses to get out of her fuzzy socks, pajamas, and flannel, and she most assuredly has a cup of coffee with her. Although I might pull myself together to take a Barnes and Noble break before lunch (birthday gift cards rock!!!!).

Community Post: 100 "Parks And Recreation" GIFs To Celebrate The Show's 100th Episode

Oh, but enough about me—for now! We all know you’re here to win some free stuff.

The Rafflecopter link is below, and I’ll post reminders over the next couple of weeks about the giveaway and repost the link so that everyone remembers to earn entries each day. (full giveaway details here) If you haven’t heard already, there are three prizes that you can earn starting today through Friday, October 16th: the Chasing Shadows Rafflecopter Grand Prize, Most Social Hooder (my team of beta readers voted and love the name for them!), and TeamHood Winner.

The Rafflecopter prize is massive, where you can earn a paperback copy of “Chasing Shadows,” an Amazon or B&N gift card, swag from the series (it’s fabulous!!!), a special message from me, and more!

excitedYou earn one entry towards the two social media prizes (books and gift cards!) each time you Tweet, share, blog about the giveaway/series, and whatever the heck else you can do online. But creating your own fan art (example: quotes from the series) and tagging me in it with #TeamHood on Pinterest will earn two entries for each pin you create, though repining with these same tags will earn one entry, as well.

Just make sure to tag me (@TownsendTales) and use any of the following tags online: #TeamHood #ChasingShadowsBook #CSBook. If you’re reblogging or creating a fresh post, make sure it pings back to me or that you leave your name and the link in the comments section below. I’ll calculate total entries once the giveaway ends on the 16th, and there will be one winner with the most social media shares and one randomly selected winner for the runner-up prize—more shares equals more entries, which increase your odds of winning. So share away!

What are you waiting for?! Follow the link below and enter to win the Grand Prize each day until October 16th. And as always, don’t forget to share this link with your friends who enjoy free stuff…. What am I say? Who doesn’t enjoy freebies?! Good luck, Hooders, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Ben Barnes ... and ... William Moseley. LOL!!! The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/efc81f6e1/?

Giveaway? Why, yes, please!

Published September 22, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

The best part of my birthday being a week from Saturday is that I know the next day (Oct 4) Chasing Shadows turns 1-year-old!
wait

excited

Make sure to stop by here, Twitter, my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ashleytownsend.author) over the next week and a half for updates on the 1 Year Palooza Celebration I’ll be having that Sunday (again, Oct 4–PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDARS!!!), where you might just win free copies of Chasing Shadows and swag and ebooks and special glimpses Defying Shadows that NO ONE has seen yet and *sucks in a deep breath* a secret behind the scenes message from me and bonus goodies and so much more!

what

Also, there are prizes (and a grand prize) for my team of Hooders who help to promote the event on social media and their blogs (I can keep track when you share my blog posts, but if you do a fresh post yourself, be sure to email the link to me at ashleytownsend.author@yahoo.com so you get credit). Starting today, earn brownie points by retweeting my posts about the event that have #TeamHood on them, tagging me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest (@TownsendTales) and using #‎ChasingShadowsBook‬ ‪#‎CSBook‬ #TeamHood (especially this one, because it’s adorable) to spread the word about the giveaways and celebration on the 4th. Each time you share/retweet, tag me, and use these hashtags, it’ll earn you one more entry into the social media contest. There are 2 social media prizes (grand and a runner-up, both randomly selected, so having those extra entries helps) and also a prize for the giveaway I’ll be doing on Chasing Shadows’ birthday. You’ll have all the details, prize packages, and contest rules on Thursday, so stay tuned! Winners will be announce Friday, October 9, 2015.
Or if you’re an impatient book lover like me and just need it now, I also pasted the Amazon link to CS below. You’re welcome in advance. ^_~

Jeneca Zody

writer and artist

The Overactive Imagination

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

Brianna Merritt

Official Website

Amy Brock McNew ~Author~

Fantastical tales of love & war

Donna's BookShelf

Sharing my love of books...

Morgan L. Busse

In Darkness there is Light

of words & books

adventures of a writing bookworm who travels sometimes

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

I will never write enough

iwritemyheartdotcom

Writing Romance

Lisa Gefrides

REACH Co-op

Penprints

God. Life. Stories.

Mustard Seed Budget

God's blessings in your life and ministry

laf

laugh. art. fashion.

That Girl Who Reads Books

A book hoarder tries to read all the books she owns

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