Serimone

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Fins, Spins, & Mermaids—Oh my!

Published February 12, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

 

As most of you know, I love chatting with other writers and hearing about their stories. I also love doing interviews with fantastic people and adore all-things mermaid (stay tuned for my WIP and you’ll see why!). So when I heard that Lisa M. of The Elegant Stylus was writing a short story about mermaids (!!!), you could say I jumped at the opportunity to interview the incredible artist who designed the covers for Rising Shadows and Defying Shadows

Lisa typically dwells under the sea, which I imagine is a fantastic place for writing inspiration, but she was kind enough to don her land-legs and answer my questions today. *awaits drum roll crescendo* All right, let’s get to some mermaid action! 

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(Also, please note that this interview was written in sea foam-green to keep with the theme. *slow clap for cleverness*)

Lisa, where does your creative inspiration come from?

First, I’m going to give the totally uninteresting “mom” answer and say my children—but it’s true!  Portraiture is something I enjoy, and my first portrait was of my daughter when she was two years old.  Children today are photographed more than any generation in history, yet I’ve found that the simplicity of a line-drawing can sometimes capture the essence of a child even more precisely than a photograph. 

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(The portrait of my daughter which started it all; silhouette portraits of my daughter and son. Commission your own at www.etsy.com/people/TheElegantStylus )

Thematically, I have a particular love of folklore, weird fiction, and fantasy. I was fascinated by the stories by Edgar Allen Poe as a kid, and my first short story (titled “The Skull Upon the Roof”. . . because what else could it have been called?) was based on his house style.  World building has always been a particular passion of mine; anything that hints at belonging to an eerie alternative reality which exists just beyond the fraying edges of our peripheral vision jumpstarts my imagination. Creative inspiration for those types of stories can strike anywhere, any time. Case in point: last summer, my kids and I were stuck in a completely unnecessary traffic jam while trying to leave a Sprout’s parking lot (I’m not going to point fingers, but the driver of a Subaru *may* have been responsible).  It was nap time, it was hot, and my beloved children begin to loudly voice their displeasure with the current situation. 

In an attempt to distract the kiddos, I made the executive decision to YouTube-up a minor-key, EDM/Dubstep cover of The Little Mermaid’s “Kiss the Girl,” which a Facebook friend (a German-raised Opera singer, to be precise) had recently posted on my wall. You know how it goes….

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(See the video here: https://youtu.be/HncGtWcqyV0 )

Now’s your moment
Floating in a blue lagoon
Boy, you better do it soon
No time will be better.

The song is playing, the kids have quieted down, and I’m successfully navigating a “left-turn yields on green” maneuver through the intersection when suddenly, BOOM! The scene unrolls before my mind’s eye like luminous scroll: the singer in this goth dubstepping number is no friendly crab-buddy, narrating the flatteringly-lit rowing scene of romantic tension between our charming protagonists!! No! Indeed, there is an unholy sea sprite lurking in the dark waters, and he has his own Screwtape-esque agenda! The malicious sprite telepathically whispers, taunts, and downright mocks the young man in the boat:

Look at that boy: too shy.
Ain’t gonna kiss the girl.
It’s a shame, too bad.
He’s going to miss the girl.

My physical body may have successfully steered us home, pulled my SUV into our garage and begun unbuckling the kids, but my mind was still in that haunted lagoon, and oh baby, I had a lot of questions. Questions like:

“What deep, dark creature does this taunting voice belong to?”

“Why does he care that the eponymous girl be kissed before the sun sets?  (The girl in question being, of course, a zombie-mermaid glamoured to look like a fresh-faced human girl. I know this intuitively.)

“Why is this Disney song very clearly advocating non-consensual culture? Just look at this:  

Yes, you want her.

Look at her, you know you do.

It’s possible she wants you too;

there’s one way to ask her.

It don’t take a word, not a single word.

Go on and kiss the girl, kiss the girl!

Seriously??? Another way you can inquire if she, indeed, does want you too kiss her, is to, um. . . oh, I don’t know, maybe ACTUALLY ASK HER if she would be receptive to such intimate contact? Gawd, Disney!

Suffice it to say I had MANY questions. It goes without saying that, at least in my case, inspiration will strike at the most unexpected, and honestly inopportune, moments.  I hurried to get my kids out of the car and into their beds so I could scribble a few lines in a notebook and not lose the sneak-peak I’d been given into this dark fairytale world. And then….

Wait….both kids have dirty diapers….SERIOUSLY?!!

Inopportune inspiration . . . Oh, too relatable! Like the shower, the sandy beach with no pen, when your hands are covered in paint, at 2 a.m., etcetera. -_- 

Okay, do you have a favorite spot to brainstorm creative concepts and designs? 

The majority of my creative work is done via computer, so I guess I’d have to say sitting at my kitchen bar with my laptop is my default go-to creative space. Pinterest is a great place to begin a design process, whether I’m giving a makeover to a piece of furniture, researching silhouette cameo-portrait styles, or designing the covers to your novel covers! When I paint, I always begin by creating a digital mock-up in Photoshop. That’s the origin story of the watercolor painting I did for you, based on your Rising Shadows trilogy.

(Serimone by Starlight, which you might recognize from Instagram; Rising Shadows, Defying Shadows)

During the hot summer months, I enjoyed sitting in the shade of my front porch in the evening, writing mermaid-zombie story ideas in a notebook, while keeping a vigilant eye on my kids playing in the yard; I’m trying to embrace the shaggy nature of good ol’ pen and paper writing. If I have to cross out a word, sentence, or, God-forbid, a paragraph … so be it. Writing a story by hand has been an epic triumph for my personal neuroplasticity, and I view it almost as a form of therapy for my super-uptight OCD proclivities. I cannot allow white-out in my vicinity when writing. As a Storm Trooper says in Episode IV: “Move along. Move along.” I’m trying to live according to his advice, and not get hung-up by over thinking things and imperfections.

My creative writing gurus are the brilliant people over at Storywonk.com, and through their podcast, I have been encouraged to keep plugging along. In particular the “Journeyman Writer” podcast has taught me the importance of curating a nest in which to write.

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(http://storywonk.com/podcasts/ )

Lately, I have begun writing before bed, nightcap at my side (it helps with the OCD). I feel particularly blessed to get to write my dark faerie tale in the master bedroom of a creepy gothic mansion; I feel the atmosphere adds to my creative process. (Joke.)

(“IRL” and Gothic Photoshop)

*wishes she had the ability to bring Photoshopped pictures into reality* So. Glorious!

I know I always have to have tone-setting music and a fun beverage when I’m writing (*cough* coffee *cough cough*). What are some things that you MUST have in your workspace while exercising you creativity?

As a mom of young kids, I’ve had to learn to be creative in non-ideal situations.  Oftentimes, I’m Photoshopping an image while simultaneously stepping in to prevent my two-year-old’s meltdown, and navigating Netflix to find “Octonauts” for my 4- and a half year-old.  BUT if I could design the perfect creative environment, it would definitely take place after my kids have gone to bed, with the ‘afore mentioned margarita by my side and a Storywonk podcast playing on my headphones. While I’ve been scribbling my mermaid story, I’ve lately enjoyed listening to ambient ocean wave noises via YouTube on my MPOW Shell Blue Tooth.

Now I’m wishing I had the gift of multitasking while in story-mode, but alas. *sighs* Okay, now for a strange question: I love Monet, Van Gogh, and Pissarro’s works and would love to have watched them create some of their most incredible paintings. If you could bring any artist back from the dead (and possibly put a Mermaid tail on them), who would it be and why?

Definitely weird fiction author H. P. Lovecraft. The contrast between his stuffy, uptight New England personality and the truly wild, disturbing, psychedelic worlds and creatures he created are endlessly fascinating to me. Despite the fact that he was an unrepentant sexist, racist jerk, and overall unpleasant guy, I’d love to have a conversation with him about his Cthulhu Mythos.

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(“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

“In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”)

Though I am an “inferior” woman, I am sure that as soon as he realizes I have not only singlehandedly reanimated his corpse, but ALSO gifted him with a super awesome mer-tail, he will be so overcome by gratitude that he will gladly converse with me about his story-craft. I imagine sitting beside his custom, 600 gallon saltwater tank in a velvet wingback chair, sipping a margarita while chatting about the danger of seeking hidden knowledge and the nature of madness.

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(Howard Phillips Lovecraft, formerly of Weird Fiction. Current status: Merman)

*tries to pull self together while still on the throes of laughter over the saltwater tank comment* *at last regains some semblance of composure*

Fascinating response, Lisa. Going with the saltwater theme . . . Now, you’re on a desert island and have a choice between enlisting the help of a mermaid, a sea witch, and a couple of sea turtles roped together (probably with hair from Jack Sparrow’s back). Which do you choose to help you survive? 

To paraphrase the late author David Foster Wallace, I have a marrow-level dread of the ocean; it is an endless, corrosive engine of death and chaos chockerblock full of snaggletoothed leviathans that rise from the depths at the rate which a feather falls.  Needless to say, I would want to return to the mainland ASAP, so it looks like the sea witch is my gal! Luckily, I just happen to have a nifty H. P. Lovecraft-shaped mer-toy to trade her in exchange for her magical teleporting services! Sorry, Howard! Don’t blame me; Kharma’s a b*ch!

So you’ve given us a little taste of the inspiration behind your current work in progress, but would you share with us a bit about your idea and some scene-inspiring art?

Yes! I’m primarily a visual artist, and have (alas!) finished very few of the stories I’ve attempted in the past. It’s been a bucket-list item to one day complete a short story novella, as well as illustrate it.

As I mentioned before, Chase Holfelder’s Minor Key cover of “Kiss The Girl” from The Little Mermaid planted the seeds for a new story in my mind.

I’ve always loved folktales, their dark origin stories in particular.

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(If you’re like me and enjoy learning about spooky folklore, check out the LORE podcast! http://www.lorepodcast.com/ )

Likewise, I’m intrigued by the concept of an unreliable narrator. Rippling out from that crucial moment of the kiss in the lagoon, I’ve created a whole framework of story! The Cliff’s Notes version is that there is a sea sprite who has been the familiar of an incredibly powerful Sea Witch for a millennia. He has loved his Mistress unconditionally (were his feelings reciprocated?….I think not, but don’t tell him that). The Sea Witch gives her life to reanimate the corpse of a drowned young woman, who is resurrected in the form of a voiceless, zombie mermaid.

(Digital paintings I’ve created as illustrations for my story.)

Now that his beloved Sea Witch is dead, the desolate sea sprite determines to win her life back by presenting the Elder Gods (a Lovecraftian shout-out) who live deep under the sea with the perfect gift: a human soul. And, of course, the formerly human mermaid is the perfect vessel to transport that soul to their underwater temple. The familiar devises a plan in which he glamours the mermaid to look like an irresistible maiden. Once on land, the sea sprite (glamoured in human form as well) sets up the meet-cute in the lagoon, gets an unsuspecting man to kiss her . . . aaaaand you’ll have to read the story to see how it all ends. As of this moment, I’m looking forward to seeing how it ends as well! 

It’s been amazing having you, Lisa, and thank you so much for stopping by to answer all of my questions! I think it’s safe to say that we’re all on the edge of our seats waiting to see how the rest of this fascinating story comes together. As for the rest of you, if you liked what you read and are interested in commissioning Lisa for a project, she’s always open to new, creative endeavors. Just make sure to message her before she ditches her land-legs and dons her fin once more! (I heard computers don’t work very well under da sea.)

Be sure to follow The Elegant Stylus: 

https://www.etsy.com/shop/theelegantstylus

https://www.instagram.com/elegantstylus/

https://www.facebook.com/TheElegantStylus

 

Part 5: Creating Memorable Characters

Published March 5, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

Writing is an Art, I Tell You!

Part 5: Creating Memorable Characters

Aside from the questions I ranted about the other week, one of the most common things an author gets asked is, “How do you come up with your characters, and how do you handle them once they’re created?” *cracks knuckles* Step aside, Stephen King, because I’ll answer this one! (mostly because I’m sure he has a very different answer that doesn’t involve gifs and memes—so blah!)

as you wish

Characters can emerge from absolutely nothing, kind of like that Twilight Zone place in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (I think that’s the one?), where your thoughts create creatures out of the darkness and mist. Getting an idea for a character is the easy part—anything inspires me! But understanding them and knowing their purpose in your story is a completely different concept. This is the tricky part that can trip-up even the most seasoned author, because until a character becomes real to you, you’ll never break the surface of who they are and can misinterpret their reactions along the way. As a reader, this is just plain confusing. 

who are you

Before you create a character, you need to keep in mind that it helps to have different “purposes” assigned to each one—the steady tree, the flighty rocket, ultimate villain, perfect protagonist, sympathetic antagonist—and keep this design in mind to make sure they don’t deviate from their design too much.

You can do this fairly easily by asking yourself a few questions:

-What is their purpose in the story? Hero, villain, martyr?

-Are you supposed to sympathize with them, feel distant from their pain, or feel

          angry whenever they enter a scene?

-Will they have a change of heart, or should they remain steady throughout the journey?

Sarah, Will, and the gang began as simple concepts—a girl from the future, a vigilante with a broken past, the loving family next door, the steady best friend, etc.—and these general ideas worked as a starting point for their growth. Knowing where Sarah was from helped me to imagine how I might react to things a thousand years in the past, seeing everything in a different world for the first time, trying to blend in; because of Will’s history, I knew that he would be protective of those he cares for and more guarded, rejecting love when it’s what he needs the most. You will be amazed at how much growth your characters will take on, all on their own, when you give them a gentle nudge along the path they’re supposed to stay on. And be careful that you don’t fall in the trap of the “campy” character, where they’re always happy go-lucky and never seem to struggle with anything. Readers will always identify more with someone with human doubts and struggles and emotions who overcomes adversity—because that is relatable and hopeful—rather than a character who smiles and dances all. The. Bloody. Time. -_- Nobody can identify with this every day:

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Now that we’ve established how to create your characters, and also to steer clear of making a dull, one-dimensional protagonist, you have to remember that it’s important to become acquainted with them, too. Go for a walk and imagine conversations your characters might strike up because of something you see, or think about how they might react to a situation in your own life. It sounds strange to listen in on imaginary conversations between fictional beings, but it makes them feel more natural and real to me to follow them throughout the day. Making this a practice honestly helps the writing process, because you’re becoming more and more familiar with them each second you spend with your characters, and this attention to detail will really benefit your novel.

You also have to understand and be accepting of the fact that characters can evolve, and it’s your job to know how to handle them once they decide to move away from your perfect little personality mold. It might sound like a contradiction, but I can explain, I promise! Take Damien Lisandro, for instance: he was originally Lord Bormeo, a tall, thin, middle-aged man with a hawkish nose and absolutely no charm.

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While writing Chasing Shadows, I realized that, although his character’s purpose was necessary to the story, he was not. So, I took the general concept of him and the way he aided the plot and turned him into Damien, the dashing, blush-inducing Spaniard who plays a huge role in Sarah’s investigation at the castle . . . and a large role in why I giggled so much while writing his scenes. Also, I may or may not have fallen in love with him a tiny.

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I will never regret making that choice to change, not a character’s role in the story, but some of his traits to make him more appealing to readers and *cough* myself. The A-typical protagonist or villain or antagonist can be so boring, and you shouldn’t be afraid to do some rewriting where your characters are concerned so long as they don’t deviate from their purpose. Make sense?  

So, that’s it! There’s plenty more that goes into creating characters, but these are the basic concepts I follow when whipping up a new bloke or lady in my stories. The best piece of advice I can give for you aspiring writers out there is to know who your characters are, but that also comes from knowing who you are as a writer. Be bold and confident, and let your own passion play out through strong-willed characters who stand outside the box. Nobody likes reading about vanilla!

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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.

 

 

New Website Just Launched

Published November 8, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

I have some very exciting news all: I just created a new website for “Chasing Shadows”!

Yep, and I’m very excited about it. 

I just discovered https://booklaunch.io/ where authors can create their own pages specifically geared to a work of theirs (or multiple works), with purchasing and contact links and endorsements on the main page. I’m super excited, and it was ridiculously easy to set up. And free! So I liked that part very much. 😉 If you’re an author, I highly recommend checking it out for easy access for readers to discover and buy your books. My new page for “Chasing Shadows” just went live last night, so I’d love if you all would take two minutes to follow the link below, provide feedback, share on your social networks, and check out the links on the page. I just discovered that “Chasing Shadows” is on WAY more sites than I originally thought. Yippee!!! 

Oh! And, as promised, there WILL be a character interview with the most dashing Spaniard in the world, Damien Lisandro from “Chasing Shadows,” this afternoon. My usual posts come on Friday, but I’m still catching up from vacation, had two enormous exams this week that I had to cram for, applications to transfer to universities in California that had issues,and am working a couple extra days this week (I’m actually writing this from work in 4 1/2 seconds before patients start showing up). O_O Um, yeah. So it’s been a little delayed. But I promise it will be live in the next few hours, because I can’t deny you of Damien forever. 😉 Trust me, you won’t want to miss it. Bring popcorn and and a downy soft pillow to fall on when you swoon!

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

Between the Pages: Meet Will Taylor

Published October 17, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

Meet your next book crush (and my forever fictional crush), Will Taylor from “Chasing Shadows.”

Will Taylor—brunette

Will, so nice of you to—Oh, you can remove the blindfold now.

Yanks it off his head. “Where in blazes are we? And why did you cover my eyes?”

In my basement, and there are some things that would be … difficult to explain if you saw them, like my car and microwave. Now, we know that you’re 22, have super-human good looks–born with them!—and have a passion for saving people, but tell us a little something about yourself that we don’t already know.

“Where’s Sarah?”

*sighs* Will, honey, focus. You’re adorable when you’re being protective, but you’re fine, she’s fine, we’re all fine. I just need a few minutes of your time, and then I can return you to where you came from after we conclude our interview. Speaking of which, what do you like best about living in twelfth century Serimone?

Shifts uncomfortably. “Pardon?”

Too tough? Okay, then, what’s your favorite color?

“Green, I suppose.”

What is a fond childhood memory you’d like to share?

“Following my father through the castle and exploring the secret passages deep below. Every day was like an adventure, and my knowledge of every inch of Serimone Castle has helped in certain other ‘endeavors.’”

Like sneaking in to find evidence against the king’s assassin. Alright, now we’re getting somewhere. . . . Good Lord, you’re dreamy. Okay, stay focused, be professional.

“… Did I awake in a mental infirmary?”

What? *giggles nervously* No. Of course not! Anywho, moving on. Do you have any favorite hideouts?

“There is an enormous birch tree on the property near my cabin. I am very fond of watching the sunrise from there. Especially when the company is very fair.” 

That’s a secretive smile. Care to share with the rest of us?

“Forgive me, but no. That memory is very close to my heart.” 

You are just as private as Sarah. . . Ah, I get it now. Well, then if you could have any superpower, what would it be?

“To travel back in time.”

… Uh-huh, How interesting, and no hesitation. *clears throat* What would you see or change if you could?

“I would go to the past and stop my parents from being murdered.” Sighs. “Though Sarah would tell me that I can’t change the past, but should make the most of my present.” 

I’m sure your parents would be proud of you. You took over your father’s blacksmith business, right? Do you want to do that permanently, or do you have other interests?

“Um, no, I do not wish to be a blacksmith forever. And I do have other hobbies…”

You mean being the Shadow, Serimone’s vigilante?

“How did you—“

Long story. Plus, I’m also a huge fan of yours—you know, running around the forest in a cloak and fighting for justice with a bow is pretty awesome—so I’ve been keeping tabs on you.

“Thank you? I took on the persona of the Shadow so I could seek out my parents’ murderer, and then I continued on with my pursuit for justice when I realized that I could truly help people.” Mouth tips. “And I kept on with it to a help a certain young lady stop an assassination.”

That reminds me, do you think you’ll ever be able to prove that Cadius killed his brother, the king?

“The two of us are doing everything we can to bring him to justice, so I suppose we’ll see someday.”

Speaking of Sarah, do you have long-term aspirations for your relationship?

Smiles very slowly. “My goals involve forever.”

*heart melts* I’m trying really hard to not ship you guys right now.

“Ship? I’m sorry…?”

Oh, it’s not like an actual ship-ship. It’s when you root for a fictional couple and combine their names. Like you and Sarah could be … Swill? Willah? Umm, Maylor?

“You do realize that sounds horrible.”

Yes, I’ll definitely think up something else, but you get the idea for now. I just have to be careful that I don’t get more attached than I am if I have to kill one of you off.

Eyes widen. “Kill one of—Hey, let’s not be hasty.”

Well, that’s all we have time for today. Thanks, Will, for traveling all this way. If you’ll just put this blindfold back on, we can get you back to where you belong. A little quicker now, if you don’t mind.

“And what do you mean fictional?”

… Houston, we have a problem.

Between the Pages: Meet Sarah Matthews

Published October 10, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

Between the Pages: Interview with Sarah Matthews from “Chasing Shadows”

To really kick off the release of “Chasing Shadows,” I wanted to give you an idea of Serimone and the characters, aside from what you’ll read in the book. As a reader, I always wonder what it would be like to live in the fantasyland, and I’ll ask myself how my favorite characters would act outside of the pages on which they live. But for you “Chasing Shadows” fans, wonder no more! I’m going to take the next, well, however long I want to discuss the book, its characters, and the things that are closest to my heart as a writer. So keep checking back each Friday for these posts, and also during the week for whatever other crazy escapades I’m up to.

Today, meet Sarah Matthews, the heroine of “Chasing Shadows”!

Sarah

I appreciate you letting me steal you away from homework and for taking the time to join me today, Sarah! . . . Why the grin?

“Nothing. I’m just beginning to realize how much time matters right now.”

That brings me to my next question: Is traveling through time the most exciting thing that has ever happened to you?

Laughs. “Yeah, you could say that.”

Was getting sucked back a thousand years all pure adventure and fun, or did you have any doubts?

“To be honest, I was pretty freaked out. I was sitting in my room one minute, and the next my sister and I were in the forest, dumped right in the middle of a misguided witch-hunt a millennia before. I was also a little worried I’d grow an extra toe or lose a limb.” Chuckles. “Don’t look so surprised! Time travel isn’t as easy as you think—you know, being dissolved and reassembled, and all.”

Interesting. But you did meet your best friend, Karen, because of it.

Nods. “I don’t know if it was because she was my ‘ride home’ or if we bonded over having to rely on one another, but Karen is my best friend now. That’s part of the reason why I traveled back this last time—well, yeah, I wanted to stop a deranged killer from striking twice, but I also wanted to see her again.”

And Will Taylor, of course.

Sarah grins slowly. “Yes, and Will. I haven’t seen him in a long time, though.”

Why is that?

“… Um, I’d rather not say.”

But you are in love with him.

“I’d like to be the first to tell him that.” Eyes wide, she hurries to add, “I’m not saying that I am or that I’m not. I’m just … not saying right now.”

Not even a little hint whether you’re in love with him or not?

Grins. “You clearly are.” 

Touché. Okay, moving on. If you could live in any classic novel, what would it be?

“Quick change. Thanks. Well, I’d have to say Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. After meeting Cadius, I feel like I have a lot more experience with monsters.”

Interesting choice, also one I applaud. Favorite color?

“Blue, but lately I’m becoming fond of green, too…”

Favorite subject in school?

“My medieval history course at OSU seems to be a lot more valuable and . . . relatable these days. I think when I travel back to Serimone for a certain wedding, all I’ve learned will be helpful.”

A wedding?

“Yeah, the—“ Raises brow. “Nice try. It’s a bit of a secret right now, so you’ll just have to find out for yourself.”

Can’t blame a girl for trying. What do you like to do in your free time?

“Lately? Well, right now I’m slammed with schoolwork, so I don’t have a ton of free time. I guess reading crime novels and watching period pieces? I also like eating my mom’s cinnamon rolls and matchmaking.” Sighs. “Maybe I should find some hobbies that really interest me.”

Will seems to interest you quite a bit. Do you think that you two can work things out?

“You mean the whole ‘he’s been dead for a thousand years where I come from’ situation? Um, yeah, we’re still working on that. But Karen told me to fight for what I want, so I’m choosing to hope! It’s just going to be a teensy bit awkward to introduce him to my parents, if it comes to that.”

 Understandable! Though I’m sure they’ll appreciate his manners. Sarah, thank you so much for joining us today. I just have one final question before we let you go: As a time traveler, any advice for our readers?

“Never trust an informant or a guard. Believe me; I’ve had experience. Also, keep track of your time watch and don’t forget that messing with the past has consequences.”

 … Oddly specific and yet somehow entirely vague, but I’ll keep it in mind! I’ll let you get back to class with Professor Demetrius, now, before you have to enroll in summer school and miss the wedding. But feel free to stop by next week, where I’ll be pulling Will into the future to interview him. I promise not to steal him away from you, though. *wink wink*

Frowns. “Yeah, not even funny.”

CHASING SHADOWS IS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE!!!

Published October 5, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

You heard it here first: “Chasing Shadows” EXISTS! That’s right, my second novel in the Rising Shadows Trilogy is now available for purchase. I got on Amazon today, and it had just popped up. My exact reaction:

15 Reasons We Wish We Had Minions

Minions II

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Can I just say that getting this out 2 days after my 23rd birthday is pretty much the best gift in the history of the universe? Yippee!

This is my most favorite story I’ve ever written, and I cannot even express how overjoyed, excited, and elated I am to be able to FINALLY share it with you all. Well, perhaps it can be expressed in minion gifs, but then again, what can’t? The ebook just became available today at 

http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Shadows-Ashley-Townsend-ebook/dp/B00O6VCZVQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412559762&sr=8-1&keywords=chasing+shadows+townsend

Be sure to share the links to the ebook and paperback on whatever social media you like or in person. Just use #ChasingShadowsBook when tweeting! The paperback will be out for sale on Amazon in the next week or ten days. Caaaaan’t. Breeeeaaaathe! Are you as excited to hold this story in your hands and sniff its ink (not in a creepy way) as I am? 

15 Reasons We Wish We Had Minions - #8 They are great with kids.

This week is a death crunch for time with a ridiculous amount of schoolwork, so time is of the essence. . . Hmm. Falls in line with the time travel theme of “Chasing Shadows,” so okay! 😉 But seriously. Once Friday arrives–that blessed, blessed day!–then I can bombard you with links and updates. Until, then, I have to make it a teensy bit shorter than I would like. Boo. Just know, I’m celebrating like this right now:

minions

15 Reasons We Wish We Had Minions

Despicable Mal

 Anyway, I have decided that each week I’ll post fun snippets for you guys about the book and the not-so-everyday life of an author–character profiles, hilarious and heart-warming character interviews, links for the book, interviews and reviews, what inspired it, the process behind it, fun pics. Everything! It’ll take several weeks to give you the inside scoop to the goopy goodness that is the inside of the mind that composed “Chasing Shadows,” but I’m so excited to get started (check out the bottom of today’s post)! And keep checking back every day this week, and forever, if you like, for the link to buy the paperback of “Chasing Shadows”! And be sure to check at your local bookstore and Barnes and Noble for it and a special “surprise” I’ve put inside; I have every intention of signing and putting a secret message in some copies….. that I may or may not find once they’ve reached the bookstore. But it’s not defacement if I technically created it, is it? ^_~

And I know that my Will Taylor is pretty much the dreamiest, most determined and honorable and protective and awesome guy in the fictional world and that he does THIS to everyone who reads about him

excited

But seriously, ladies, don’t be fighting over my Will Taylor; I created plenty of him to go around. And for those of you who aren’t attracted to fictional, tall, gorgeous livery-owning-do-gooders with a heart of gold who are strong and protective and tender and caring and a secret vigilante and …… Actually, now that I think about it, you should probably get something checked if you aren’t interested. BUT if you like a little competition, I also created a handsome Spaniard with you all in mind. Voila! Feel free to duke it out for Damien, ladies!  

Minions are skilled at conflict resolution. | 15 Reasons We Wish We Had Minions

Buy the book on Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Shadows-Ashley-Townsend-ebook/dp/B00O6VCZVQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412559762&sr=8-1&keywords=chasing+shadows+townsend

Add the book to your Goodreads shelves 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22545313-chasing-shadows

Become a fan on Goodreads

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

Follow my wacky woodles on Twitter (use #ChasingShadowsBook when tweeting!)

https://twitter.com/TownsendTales

Like me on Facebook (sounds so funny when I say it like that!)

https://www.facebook.com/ashleytownsend.author

Follow the inspiration board for the trilogy on Pinterest

http://www.pinterest.com/townsendtales

Okay, so today is the kickoff of the awesomeness and crazy escapades that will take place over the next several weeks to celebrate the release of “Chasing Shadows.” Today you get a peek at what Serimone is like. The illustrious illustrator Roan Carter took my haphazard doodles of the town of Serimone and the countryside and turned it into this gorgeous map of my little fantasy land. Enjoy!

Map-Final

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