Hope

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Where Does the Joy Go?

Published October 15, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

As the years pass, where does the joy go? The earth hasn’t changed, the world doesn’t play more unfairly than it did before, and the sun and stars are still constant. So what changed to make the spark disappear?

wander

I was inspired to write this post after I heard someone say, “Life just loses its sparkle as you get older.” I wanted to respond with, Life is wonderful, how can you say that? But later on that night, I realized that, tragically, this can be true. The reality of adulthood takes over—less free time, bills, responsibilities up the wazoo (and using the word wazoo is no longer “age appropriate”), broken hearts, stress, deadlines. If you let them, these things will slowly leech the joy and adventure from life so that you’re just living each day on autopilot, waiting for it to be over so it can inevitably begin again. The day-to-day becomes tedious, and eventually, the dawn turns into something that you dread.

This harsh reality really bothered me, and I wondered why it should be that the joy and excitement of life should end because a new chapter of life begins. But does it really? I began to realize that the magic that exists in the world doesn’t disappear, rather we let the cares of this life distract us to the point that we’re too exhausted to look for it when it seems scarce.

the heavens declare the glory of god

As children, everyday seemed to hold a bit of mystery and excitement, but we’ve become too focused on more money and success, the idea that maybe a different relationship or occupation would complete us, or a million dollars would solve all our problems (or an extra 8 hours in the day to write my work in progress *cough*). That’s not to say a few of these things wouldn’t be nice, but it’s untrue that our lives would be perfect or “complete” because of these fleeting things. Discontentment breeds jealousy and greed and a restlessness that nothing can satisfy. I’m not exempt from the “if-only” idea, but I am a firm believe in the magic of everyday things and the hope that it produces, and the excitement of a new adventure.

incredible carl sagan

I have to admit that I’ve never understood people when they say that the love between them and another “simply died.” Call me naïve, but the only way that can happen is if no one tries to save it. Love is like a flower—you have to care for it so that it continues to grow and flourish, even if it isn’t as young and beautiful as it once was; if you ignore it and forget it exists, it will die. The same goes for the belief in the excitement that occurs in life: we have to choose to look for it, especially when it seems impossible to find because that’s when we need a bit of magic the most.

 

the best view hardest climb

Just this week I was having a difficult time finding that spark of joy after a tough week of stress and feeling overwhelmed and inadequate. I was sitting there in traffic, grumbling about the sun in my eyes, and then as I glared at it for another minute, I suddenly saw how beautiful the sunset was. I had spent the entire drive home complaining about something that, since I would have been caught in traffic anyway, should have been enjoyed. The rising and setting of the sun is some of the most obvious magic you can find, and I had almost let it pass by unnoticed because I was too caught up in the bustle of life, the competition to get one more car ahead so I could race home to—what? Drudge the next day?

Nuh-uh.

awfully big adventure peter pan

God did not put us on this earth to work ourselves to death earning money that disappears all too quickly and to lament each day He’s given us. Every morning our eyes open is a miracle, and my challenge to you this week is to remind yourself to seek out the miracle in today. Easier said than done, right? Trust me, I’ve been there and am still there sometimes, struggling to find the joy in the things that exist around me. But it’s there, even in the small things—the leaves shifting color, the falling rain against a window, meeting a writing deadline, a new dawn brining with it a clean slate. And when you feel you can’t see the magic, be bold and create your own! Climb a mountain, explore the sea, take a long drive with the windows down while the rain is pouring, find a new bookstore (umm , bibliophile!), try something you’ve never done before. This life was intended for us to learn and explore and live it. We just have to choose to keep our eyes and hearts open to the magic of the everyday and to not let our sparkles—our inner light—die out.

So, where does the joy go? It’s been there all along, though it shifts forms like a chameleon and is sometimes tricky to spot. But if you keep on the lookout for it, the world might surprise you.

Another Beautiful Review for Chasing Shadows!

Published May 12, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

I love the way that Christine writes on her Musings of An Elf blog; it’s so beautiful and heartfelt, and seeing how similarly impassioned we both get over good books was the reason why I asked her to review the Rising Shadows Trilogy, and I’m so glad I did. Christine loves the series! *happy dance* It warms an author’s heart to know that others connect with these characters as they do. I couldn’t be more pleased with her review of Chasing Shadows, so be sure to check it out and share around with your other book-loving/blogger friends. And don’t forget to follow Christine’s blog to keep an eye out for something about beta reading the final book in the series. . . Just sayin’! ^_^

The Evolution of Writing

Published November 15, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

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Stories are ever-changing, either because of how we grow as writers, events that influence our perception, or simply things that we see that spark our interest. For me, this constant evolution is one of the most exciting, and sometimes frustrating, things about being an author—exciting because with each month or so that passes, I can look back on what I’ve written and realize how much I’ve matured as a writer, and frustrating because it’s difficult for me to ever be totally satisfied with a whole manuscript.

Google+

I was immensely happy and proud when “Rising Shadows” first came out because it was the type of writing that I was drawn to at the time. And then I proceeded to spend the next two years in embarrassment of my first published work. As I spent endless hours writing several different stories and started expanding my reading repertoire, I watched as my style of writing shifted and my ability grew—I’m not tooting my own horn, because there is always room for improvement. Since I couldn’t go back and completely revise the entire manuscript to match exactly what my preference was, I focused all of my attention on making “Chasing Shadows” into something better.

love writing

Surprisingly, I don’t believe I’ll ever feel more content with how a book turned out than I am with this installment in the series. And it isn’t just temporary satisfaction, either; I had two whole years to play around and re-read “Chasing Shadows” while I sought out a physical publisher, and I never got sick of it or upset with how it was coming together. My writing ability didn’t become stagnant but still progressed, thank the Lord, yet I never felt dissatisfied with this story even as my interests changed.

That’s not to say that there weren’t—ahem—a few alterations that I made to it along the way.

me trying to finish an essay at the last minute :)

Originally, while writing the bare bones of the story, there was a rekindling of the romance between Will and Sarah, with no Jade to muddle things up between them, Karen was still a great friend, and the resolution in the end was very cut-and-dry (i.e. bad guy dies, kingdom restored: TA-DA!). But then I was, like, wow, I’m not even interested. So I prayed for wisdom on where God wanted the story to go, and three weeks later, my entire perception of it changed. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of time travel and figured out a whole new way to make it muddle things up for the gang and expand on time’s presence in the story. I made Will and Sarah’s lives and their relationship less “easy” to show how they’re overcomers, revealing their struggles and highs and lows; they aren’t perfect, but then again, who is? And I altered the ending of “Chasing Shadows” drastically, and I’m so glad I did! So much more drama, craziness, plot reveals, questions, history muddled. Muwah-ah-ah-ah!!!!! ^_~  

You have thought of many gruesome and unique ways to kill people. | Community Post: 20 Signs That You're A Writer

Then there was the length of the story. Its predecessor was sweet and simple and straightforward and, well, a skosh smaller—no filler or mishagosh, but just straight up action, adventure, and fun. But then I found that I actually enjoyed challenging myself by not just taking up space on the page for the sake of length, but by creating transitional scenes that help move the story along with either interesting dialogue, descriptions of the surroundings to transport the reader into the moment, and also small plot reveals that you can find if you pay attention. It was a blast to finally challenge myself!

Oh, yes, and Lord Bormeo Lisandro was not, in fact, a romantic interest setupfor Sarah. Yes, ladies, you may release your gasps of surprise. The handsome Spaniard that you’ve come to know and love—let’s be honest, he’s stolen my heart and makes me swoon!—was first a lord named Bormeo (pronounces Bor-may-o. Bahahaha!), pale (like Mayo), thin, regal, and super evil. And then I realized I had two bad guys running about town, and my sister Katie was dying for me to write a handsome Spaniard in somewhere, so, voilà! Damien Romeo Lisandro was born! I first wanted to just throw him in for some eye-candy as a sort of humorous anecdote within the story, but then I pretty much fell in love as his past revealed itself and as his and Sarah’s relationship evolved. I just friggin’ adore him and how he and Sarah lean on each other as they experience highs and lows in Serimone. *tear* He is probably my favorite alteration to this story, and I hope you find deepest love and sympathy for him as I have!

Let me love you Hook!!

Whelp, that’s all I have for today’s little glimpse Between the Pages of “Chasing Shadows.” Next weekend might be another character interview, plot reveal, excerpt from the book, or just fun goodies from the series. You’ll never know unless you stop by here again! ^_^

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New Book Trailer Released!

Published November 11, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

I’m super excited to announce that not only have I launched an official website for “Chasing Shadows,” which I mentioned in my previous post, but the book trailers for both “Chasing Shadows” and it’s adorable predecessor “Rising Shadows” just came out. *Squeal of delight* I’d love for you to view, like, share, subscribe, or leave a comment to support the series. ^_^

You can find the trailers on YouTube via Double Decker Books, on the official “Chasing Shadows” launch page, and all over Goodreads! As always, don’t forget to add the books on Goodreads and find them on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 

Thanks, all, for your support of this series and my endeavors to reach as many people as possible with characters that I believe God is going to use to encourage and touch the lives of many. These characters have already changed my life! And if you have any stories about how reading has impacted your own life in some way, please write to me at ashleytownsend.author@yahoo.com  

Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC90HuGRNZPWlM5Vwb2SW4Uw

Website: https://booklaunch.io/townsendtales/545d6bf6a62bd3941dcfdfe0

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5839773.Ashley_Townsend

 Trailer for Chasing Shadows

Trailer for Rising Shadows

Between the Pages: Meet Damien Lisandro

Published November 8, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

Between the Pages: Meet Damien Lisandro

Damien Lisandro 3

Today I am more than happy to introduce you to your foreign fantasy crush, Damien Lisandro from “Chasing Shadows.” I’m at the castle right now, of course—who wouldn’t like to take a little side trip to the twelfth century if the opportunity presented itself? I plan to interview Damien in a moment, but I just spotted the would-be murderer Cadius and have decided to go all “reporter” on him. Maybe I can get him to reveal his plans and help Karen and Sarah out!

Excuse me, Cadius, but do you have a minute for some questions?

Eyes me up and down with cold, barely concealed disdain. “I suppose I have a moment.” With a faint flick of his wrist, the servant he was reprimanding scurries off. “What is it?”

I wanted to ask you how you felt about all the suspicion surrounding your brother the king’s death?

Feigns innocence. “Suspicion? I haven’t the faintest…”

Well, uh (gosh, he really has creepy eyes), then what about the death of the original queen, Alexis? Do you have anything to say about that?

Eyes soften almost imperceptibly. “That was a long time ago.”

(Hmm. Interesting reaction). Okay, I’m just going to come out and say it. You must be aware that people think you killed your brother, and others are suspicious that you might have done the same to the first queen. . . . Seriously? No reaction?

Blinks. “The peasants may believe what they wish, but wise lords and ladies know to keep their uneducated suppositions to themselves. And little doves who know not of what they speak should learn to mind their elders, lest harm should come to them.”

…. *swallows* Okaaaay. That sounds like a threat to me.

Chuckles lowly. “Oh, my dear, I never dirty my hands. Fear not. What other inquiries would you care to make?”

*Squeaks out lamely* Um, do you have a favorite color?

“Blood red.”

*Eyes widen* That’s nice! Well, then the last thing I’d like to ask is about the king. What—

Takes a step forward. “Do you know what happens to little doves who ask too many questions?”

*Already booking it down the hall at a clipped pace* 

Okay, new plan! We’re now hanging out with Damien Lisandro at an undisclosed coffee house somewhere in present day North America. Damien! How kind of you to join us.

Grins saucily. “Well, you did grab me from my room and beg me to speak with you. How could I refuse such a request?” Eyes his surroundings. “And what interesting décor in this study.”

Uh, yeah. Very interesting. So . . . Wow, you really do have gold flecks in your eyes.

Leans forward, expression cheeky. “It’s your beauty reflected in them, my lady.” 

*barely contains giggles* Whatever you say. Um, now back to the interview. Can you tell us a little about your background and interests?

“Oh, well, I was raised as the son of a wealthy tradesman, had a loving mother and a sister whom I adored. My life was quite grand.”

Was?

Uncomfortable, he takes a sip of his cappuccino. “Mm, that’s quite good. Well, you see, my father accidentally beat my mother to death one night in a drunken stupor, and my sister Isabella died shortly after we fled from my father.” His smile is wobbly. “Next question, please.”

*Winces* Sorry. Favorite color?

“I have seen so much royal purple since I took up residence at the castle that it has grown on me.” Smiles softly at the wooden table. “And Sarah looks lovely in purple.”

So are you and Will going to duke it out for her, or what? How does that work?

“I’m in no rush to win her heart, but in the end, I will earn her affection.”

You’re a rather confident fellow. Okay, well, I know you grew up in Spain, but how do you like being a lord in Serimone?

“I suppose it has its advantages.” Scratches the perfectly sculpted hair on his chin. “However, living inside the castle walls and being so closely watched has its disadvantages, as well.”

But surely having so much wealth and being well known has its perks.

“Yet everyone is always watching my moves or planning them for me. That is one of the reasons why I sought out the company of Lady Sarah; she made me feel normal—no expectations or preferential treatment because of my station. Being with her gives me something to hope and live for outside of myself—she makes me want to be good.” Grins self-consciously. “But that sounds ridiculous, I’m sure.”

…. People, I just died a little from swooning. But you keep distracting me, you beautiful creature! Back to my questions: You get toxic waste spilled all over you and now have your choice of superpowers. You would pick…?

“To know all. I would never have to question anyone again.”

Does mistrust happen a lot in your field of, uh, lording?

“I’ve dealt with my fair share of betrayals. Everyone wears a mask, as I told Sarah once, and you never can tell whom to trust.” 

Sounds lonely.

“Yes, it can be, but there are many activities and events with which to keep my mind occupied.”

Speaking of which, I’ve been drilling everyone who stops by about a certain future event in Serimone. Are there any upcoming weddings that you know of? Anyone in particular?

Grins charmingly, eyes bright. “Are you proposing? Because then I most heartily accept!”

*Laughs* No! I . . . Well, actually, let me consider it. I’ll get back to you in, ohhh, say a thousand years?

Looks confused. “What?”

Don’t worry; it won’t feel long at all. And that, folks, is the beauty of time travel.

“Time travel? You mean you can—“

No! What? No! *laughs* Of course not, you handsome devil. I was just making a joke. *whispers* But, uh, if you could put that blindfold back on while I drive you home, that would makes things go a lot smoother for the both of us.

 

 

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