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A Time to Die Giveaway and Blog Hop

Published September 3, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

Hey all! My author friend and dance buddy Nadine Brandes is kicking off a blog hop in celebration of being one day closer to the upcoming release of her fantastic dystopian thriller “A Time to Die.” *cue the flurry of applause and dead-faints of excitement* The blog hop where I answer Nadine’s prompt “If you had one year left to live” will be live on my blog on September 26th, so put it on your calendars! But for now, Nadine has her own answers and an Amazon giveaway on her blog to whet your bookish appetites.

To enter the giveaway, you’re going to have to put in a little effort and follow the link below to Nadine’s original post at http://nadinebrandes.com/2014/09/03/if-i-had-one-year-left-to-live-a-time-to-die-blog-tour/

 

If I had one year left to live…

…I might stop writing.

*Gasp*

My heart shreds into confetti at the very idea, but one year isn’t very long. I’ve thought quite hard over this concept. Let me explain, for a moment, why I’m even blogging on it.

Today I’m kicking off the blog hop to promote my book, A Time to Die. Over twenty bloggers will be joining this hop to answer the prompt, “If I Had One Year Left to Live, I Would…” Hopefully this also prompts you to think about what you’d do with one year left to live.

Once the question enters your mind, it gets pretty sticky. Trust me, I know. I think about it all the time.

You Have One Year

In order to answer this question, I need to step back and examine what’s important, get to the nitty-gritty. Yes, writing is important because it’s my passion, but what is even more worthy of my complete devotion and sacrifice of time? Of course, it’s my Savior, Jesus Christ and I would fill my last year with things, actions, and choices that I believe He calls me to. But, since I’m playing crystal ball and trying to predict my future actions,  here are some things I would do with one year left:

Either stop writing, or speed-write. 

Don’t take this the wrong way. I do not want to stop writing. Writing is my passion. BUT, if I knew for sure that I would die one year from today, I would really ask myself how much time I could devote to writing without sacrificing time better spent elsewhere.

Another thought that crossed my mind is committing some hard-core writing months (about three or four) to completing the Out of Time series. For the sake of my readers (yes, for you!) If I couldn’t finish it in that time, I’d start looking for authors who could finish it/polish it for me.

I would go to Russia.

Going to Russia and interacting with the people there has been a long-term passion God has placed on both my and my husband’s heart. It’s a long story that I won’t get into now, but we would travel there to live for the majority of my last year. Hey, maybe I could keep writing while there! ;)

I would write intentional letters.

Words are my passion. I would make sure I had a stack of letters to be given to each person I love after I passed on, hopefully encouraging them to pursue life and God full-speed and to REJOICE at my joining Christ in heaven.

I would visit my relatives.

I grew up away from most of my relatives so I didn’t build the relationships with some of them that I would have liked. I would take at least two weeks to a month and road trip (with the hubby, of course!) around America, visiting them, having intentional quality time with them, and — with some — trying one last time to share the importance of Christ.

I would pray and fast more.

This is one of those things I already try to do, but I’m a spiritual wimp. Praying is the more tough side of relationship with Christ for me. I would love to devote hours — and I mean carpetburns-on-the-knees hours — to praying, fasting, and communing with God. The one time I intentionally fasted and pushed myself past my human desires, it completely changed me. And that was just one time.

Some little things:

I would go skydiving, sleep on an overnight train (preferably the Trans-Siberian Rail, which — if I go to Russia — would be very doable.), ride a tandem bike, and send up a desperate plea to J K Rowling (who probably won’t even see it) asking her to let me treat her to a cup of tea.

But, these are little things. Inconsequential things. Not big enough to be labeled as dreams, they’re just desires that would provide me with temporary happiness and then a good story.

 

My real goal in my last year would be to live as passionately as my weak, shy, cowardly human body allows for God’s glory. The point of this blog post is not just to dig into my dreams and last-minute pursuits. It is to show me (and you) my deepest desires — the things that are most important to me — and hopefully inspire me to pursue them as best I can right now, whether I have one year or ten years left.

 

So how about you? What would you do/change/think/stop doing if you had one year left to live?

 

“Chasing Shadows” Playlist is Here!!!

Published August 11, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

music

Did you notice a little addition to the sidebar on the left? Ahem. That’s right—there is now an official “Chasing Shadows” tab. That means that I’ve added the playlist, summary, and, soon to come, all the blog interviews I’ve been and will be doing.

Next to writing, music is the other half of my life; it speaks what sometimes cannot be spoken or conveyed through words. I always listen to themed music when I’m working hard on the ivory keys—actually, I can’t play piano, but it sounds cooler than “keyboard”—to really get me into a scene. The songs below are ones that I religiously listened to while writing one of my favorite stories (my sisters were fairly sick of these songs by the time I penned the last page). So, when you’re reading “Chasing Shadows,” be sure to give these songs a listen to put you in the moment.

CHAPTER 1:

            Avicii — Wake Me Up

CHAPTER 2:

            Jason Reeves — The End

CHAPTER 3:

            Schuyler Fisk — Waking Life

CHAPTER 4:

            Ben Howard — The Fear

CHAPTER 5:

            Nico and Vinz — Am I Wrong

CHAPTER 6:

            The Script — The End Where I Begin

CHAPTER 7:

            Switchfoot — Slipping Away

            Penny and Sparrow — Brothers

CHAPTER 8:

            Josh Rosenthal — No More Lies

CHAPTER 9:

            The Workday Release — A Starlit Sky

CHAPTER 10:

            YPPAH — Never Mess with Sunday

CHAPTER 11:

            Levi Robin — Breathe Easy

CHAPTER 12:

            Bastille — Bad Blood

CHAPTER 13:

            Jason Walker — Down

            Keith Urban — Stupid Boy

CHAPTER 14:

            Hunter Hayes — You Think You Know Somebody

CHAPTER 15:

            Need to Breathe — Won’t Turn Back

CHAPTER 16:

            Danny Elfman — Oz, the Great and Powerful

CHAPTER 17:

            Brand X Music — Sorcerer’s Secret

CHAPTER 18:

            Hurts — Unspoken

CHAPTER 19:

            Kacey Musgraves — Back on the Map

CHAPTER 20:

            Lady Antebellum — Learning to Fly (cover)

CHAPTER 21:

            Augustana — Borrowed Time

CHAPTER 22:

            The Weepies — Can’t Go Back Now

            One Republic — Feel Again

CHAPTER 23:

            Hunter Hayes — All You Ever

CHAPTER 24:

            The Civil Wars — Dust to Dust

CHAPTER 25:

            Two Steps from Hell — Resistance is Fatal

CHAPTER 26:

            X Ambassadors — Unsteady

CHAPTER 27:

            Mads Langer — Fact-Fiction

            Jan Kaczmarek — Finding Neverland

CHAPTER 28:

            Gabrielle Aplin — Start of Time

CHAPTER 29:

            Jimmy Eat World — Hear You Me

            Florence and the Machine — Heavy in Your Arms

CHAPTER 30:

            Sean Fournier — Goodbye

            In the Nursery — Kryptka

CHAPTER 31:

            Switchfoot — When the World Caves In

CHAPTER 32:

            Parachute — Hurricane

CHAPTER 33:

            Brand X Music — Curious Developments

CHAPTER 34:

            Greg Laswell — Comes and Goes (in Waves)

CHAPTER 35:

            Ray LaMontagne —Be Here Now

CHAPTER 36:

            Ed Sheeran — Give Me Love

            Abel Korzeniowski — First Kiss

CHAPTER 37:

            Christina Perri — A Thousand Years

CHAPTER 38:

            Bastille — The Draw

CHAPTER 39:

            Two Steps from Hell — Black Blade

CHAPTER 40:

            One Republic — Burning Bridges

CHAPTER 41:

            Tom Petty — Square One

CHAPTER 42:

            Avicii — Heart Upon My Sleeve

CHAPTER 43:

            Husky – History’s Door

CHAPTER 44:

            Red Jumpsuit Apparatus — Cat and Mouse

CHAPTER 45:

            Adele — Skyfall

            Sons of Sylvia — John Wayne

CHAPTER 46:

            Brand X Music — All or Nothing

CHAPTER 47:

            Blackmill — Journey’s End

CHAPTER 48:

            Kodaline — All I Want

CHAPTER 49:

            Of Monsters and Men — Silhouettes

CHAPTER 50:

            Lord Huron — Ends of the Earth

EPILOGUE:

            Radical Face — Welcome Home

 

 

Review of Sever: It’s as Painful as it Sounds

Published March 8, 2013 by Ashley Townsend

sever

When I first read Lauren DeStefano’s “Wither,” I was enthralled. It was intriguing, fantastic, crazy, confusing, mysterious, and an all-in-all well-rounded book and story idea. Plus, every single book cover in her trilogy is A-MAZING! Then “Wither” ended on a sort of cliffhanger, so you can imagine my excitement when “Fever” came out last year. . . . . . . . Umm, yeah. Don’t judge a book by its bubblegum pink and carnival-themed cover. Two words: “Blek” and “Huh?”

But that wasn’t going to stop me! I figured that “Sever”—one of my top anticipated books of 2013 if you refer to previous Book Extravaganza posts—would totally redeem the series, be extremely refreshing after the disappointment of “Fever,” while also answering all of my torturous questions. Again: Umm, yeahhhhhh. My older sisters DeAnna and Elizabeth read it first, and DeAnna actually threw her brand new hardback copy—*GASP*—across the room when she was done. So obviously I had to read it for myself and wouldn’t allow them to give any spoilers, though their utterly shocked and irate reactions should have caused me to steer clear.

Now beware! This review and general rant about a could-have-been-great story WILL contain spoilers, and also some possibly graphic death sequences that may or may not involve sporks and letter writing.

Right off the bat I was intrigued by the first sixty pages of the book. I was glad that Rhine didn’t make me want to throw up and was actually a good character, that she and Linden were “back together,” however frosty he may have been at first, and that it seemed they were going to take that crazy-head Vaughn down. But then it just kept dragging on, so let me give you a brief rundown of the book’s plotline as though we’re actually in the story; it’s much more “riveting” this way. ~__^

We’re at Uncle Reed’s, though I actually enjoyed those parts because he ended up being my favorite character. Vaughn is still a crazy and manipulative, so let’s escape—the logical thing to do, UNTIL……

Oopsies, we’re back at Madame’s carnival from “Fever.” Seriously? We couldn’t have taken the I-8 instead of the 15? Lauren threw in some interesting twists in this portion of the book, such as the fact that Madame is actually the mother of Rose, Linden’s first-first wife. At this point, we’re still intrigued. That will quickly pass, I assure you.

Finally, Rhine gets in touch with her long-lost twin brother, who is now a crazy warlord that blows stuff up. . . . . AT VAUGHN’S BIDDING!!!! Yes, I know—close your mouth. He, too, is a puppet of the crazed scientist. And this is the part that really bothered me: An unnecessary lack of communication, which always curls my toes in books. Rhine’s brother is so enamored with the genius Vaughn that she doesn’t have the heart to tell him that this evil man has killed people and experimented on her. But, hey, why get between a mad scientist and his protégé? Let’s move on. After that, it’s sixty pages of Vaughn talking and the three of them traveling. No, seriously, I counted the number of straight pages, and there was more evil plan-recounting for long stretches later on in the book. Boring and monotonous, but at this point—despite the fact that our eyes are glazing over while he rambles on—I’m still like, “Okay, this isn’t so bad. Why were the girls freaking out?”  

Then Vaughn brings her back to the mansion. Oh, and small side note: In “Fever,” Rhine had been drugged and kidnapped by Vaughn. She willingly left her and Gabriel’s safe haven in the middle of the night without telling Gabriel—again, lack of communication. So he didn’t know where she was. Oh, wait, yes he did! TWIST: He saw her leaving with Vaughn and sacrificed himself by going with her, unbeknownst to our unconscious heroine. Oh, yeah, and he’s been in the basement for the past couple months, which she finds out upon arriving back at the mansion in “Sever” and does nothing about it! This also bothered me, since the guy sacrificed himself for her and she can’t bring herself to take the elevator down two floors? Oy! Also another jump-ahead-side-note: You don’t see Gabriel, the love interest whom she ends up with, until the last six pages of the book, and even then she acts like he’s second best. Why, you may ask?

BECAUSE LINDEN WAS KILLED IN A RIDICULOUS ACCIDENT! Right after he and Rhine had this beautiful moment, and he told her he still loved her, and the sun was shining, and everything was going to be perfect. Then BAM! I knew by my Team Linden sisters’ reactions that he had to die or not end up with Rhine. But how ridiculous and unwarranted and awful could his death really be? Let me tell you: They go for a joy ride in a little plan, he pours out his heart to her, they smile (the kiss of death), experience some turbulence, he gets the teensiest bump on his head, and ends up bleeding out from his eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. Yes, literally every orifice on his head. I was reading it at dinner, because the girls saw where I was and kept nudging each other, so I knew I was close. But I was so shocked that I didn’t even know what to say. They were laughing at my reaction and said my mouth was open and that I was totally flushed. I kept waiting for him to come back to life. No such luck. And then about five minutes later, after just sitting in dumbfounded silence, I finally felt a spark of anger and was highly tempted to torch the book, literally, over an open flame, and you know how much I respect books.

I was so shocked and ticked that he dies without any warning that I, with Elizabeth’s inspiration, devised several other ridiculous and meaningless and horrible ways he could have died. These are about the same caliber as the stupid plane accident.

~Linden is writing Rhine a beautiful love letter, expressing all of his feelings and apologizes for being so frosty. He goes to put the letter in the mailbox, sees a cute squirrel, gets distracted, and accidentally gets a paper cut. Turns out he’s a hemophiliac. It wasn’t even the letter opener or wax seal that did him in. Yeah, that stupid.

Scenario #2: Linden is driving his convertible through a fast food drive-thru. He’s in a hurry to go meet Rhine because he’s finally going to tell her how he feels. He collects his food and plows through the drive thru when one of the attendants throws an unwrapped spork out the window to a waiting customer. The harmless plastic spork lodges in Linden’s eye, he swerves, and drives into one of those electrical donuts. Did I mention he drove his convertible despite the rain? You fill in the rest.

Scenario #3: I imagine this involves a sweet meet-and-greet with dolphins gone terribly awry at Sea World. Hint: He had packed a sack lunch of chips, an apple, and a mackerel sandwich in in his wetsuit pocket. (Kind of reminds me of the Lacramose Leeches scene, for those of you who’ve read the Series of Unfortunate Events)

Alas, my most anticipated book of the year made me want to shove a spork in my own eye. And they didn’t resolve anything until the last eight pages of the book, and even then it was almost like we were reading the author’s plot notes or special monologue. *Sighs dramatically* Here’s to hoping “Requiem” doesn’t disappoint! -__- (That is a very unfeeling emoticon, in case you were unsure of how high my hopes were that the other books I’m looking forward to will actually turn out well) 

The progression of my many reactions to “Sever”:

sever 7

When Sever arrived, this is what came at the mailman:        “It’s HEEEEEEEERE!!!!”

When they arrived back at Madame's: "Seriously?"

When they arrived back at Madame’s: “Seriously?”

I believe I developed narcolepsy from Vaughn's prolonged diatribe.

I believe I developed narcolepsy from Vaughn’s prolonged diatribe.

sever 3

This was me about halfway through the book.

This was me about halfway through the book.

Then Linden DIES!

Then Linden DIES!

It was a scratch! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

It was a scratch! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

sever 1sever 4

BOOK II EXCERPTS!!!!

Published January 29, 2013 by Ashley Townsend

Yes! I finally got around to getting some snippits from book II of the Shadow Trilogy together for your pleasure. Just a little random taste of what I’ve been working on, and I’ll probably post some quotes and excerpts from the sequel and Rising Shadows in the future, too. Enjoy!

Chapter 4: Calm down, Matthews, she chided herself. You’re being ridiculous. She turned around and began to jog down the narrow street toward the main square. Glancing over her shoulder as she moved, she ran straight into something hard. Strong hands gripped her upper arms to keep her from toppling backwards and pulled her close, over compensating for her lost balance. Sarah had to lean back slightly to look up at the man who held her, and the action caused the hood to fall back. Her breath caught in her throat as she looked up into Will’s startled blue eyes.

Chapter 11: “Well, my lady,” Damien said smoothly, still appearing comfortable and unaffected by her silence. “Now it’s your turn.”

Sarah eyed the Spaniard warily. “My turn for what?”

He leaned forward and lowered his voice, golden eyes gleaming with mischief. “It is your turn to tell me who you really are.” 

Chapter 19: She waited in the darkness. Nothing. The absence of noise was more ominous than the ones Sarah had braced herself for. She shivered at the cold wind that whistled softly in the tunnel directly ahead. It moved toward her, curling through her hair and touching her body with icy fingers as it brushed past. A whip snapped somewhere down the way, and she started. Her breath caught when she made out the faint sound of the lifeless, almost inhuman moan that rode on the breeze coming from what she imagined must be the torture chamber. Sarah felt chilled to the bone at the hollow sound of someone too weak to cry out and stood frozen in wide-eyed horror.

Chapter 22: Swallowing the desire to express her confused feelings about him, Sarah said, “I want us to be friends.” She was relieved when she didn’t stammer over the words.

Will’s chest swelled with air, and his lips parted as it escaped his lips in a shaky breath. His nod was almost imperceptible. “As you wish,” he said. Then he launched himself over the ledge. Sarah’s eyes widened in alarm, and she ran to the window to peer down at his retreating form as he quickly scaled the walls of the castle. With shaking fingers, Sarah closed the window screen to keep out the cold that seemed to have found its way into her bones. Now she was alone in her new home with the necklace and the single rose as her only companions. Her breathing was the only sound in the room—that and three words that played themselves loudly in her head: As you wish.

Chapter 32: Guilty sorrow tightened Sarah’s chest. She tore her eyes away from her hands, which had been covered in blood moments before, and looked up at him. He was watching her closely, eyes searching her face. “But it’s my fault she’s dead,” she whispered brokenly.

His expression softened. “How could it be your fault your friend was killed?”

 “Because the arrow was meant for me.”

Chapter 35: Will surprised her by pulling her into his arms and holding her tightly against his chest. But even as he held her close and told her everything was going to be all right, Sarah couldn’t shake the feeling that a storm was coming, and if they couldn’t fight it together, it was going to tear them apart.

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