All posts tagged Travel

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?


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?


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.


At Last! A Comic Con Recap!!

Published August 25, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

If you followed my Instagram leading up to SDCC and my survival guide post beforehand, you can tell Comic Con pretty much consumed the weeks leading up to the event. Why, you ask? Because this year I attempted something I’ve never done: a different cosplay for every day. *pauses for ooohs* Also for the first time: forgetting that I had this post completed THREE weeks ago when it should have been posted. -_- *ahem* Moving on….

Day 1 Recap:


Cosplay for this day was Indiana Jones for me, and my sister and faithful SDCC companion, Liz, went at the Eleventh (and best) Doctor. The screwdriver lit up and made sounds, and I’ll admit I was geeking out over it.

Liz got to meet Leigh Bardugo, and we were surprised with ARC copies of her Wonder Woman novel, Warbringer! The precioussssssss.20170720_111454









This guy ^ was dressed as Rick from The Mummy films, and I literally chased him down to get this pic. He was so nice and charming and shocked that I knew who he was, and I was just trying to be cool with “Alex” and not drool. His charisma matched the character so perfectly. *le sigh*


Some major highlights were getting pics with the tallest Flynn Rider and Captain America we’d seen, meeting my video game hero, Tomb Raider, and was amazed by thegirl’s fabulous cosplay of the original game. We ate fabulous soft-pretzels, I received a high-five from Patrick Star for asking him if mayonnaise was an instrument (it’s a classic “Bang Geeks” reference, guys), we saw the Timeless fan tribute panel, and then shared a Lyft ride with one of the terribly engaging men from the group of kilt- but not shirt-clad handsomeness that wanders downtown during the Con. All in all, not a bad day!


Day 2 Recap: My first “real” attempt at sewing was Cinderella’s pink dress after the evil stepsisters had torn it apart. Designing a torn dress sounds simple . . . It’s NOT! Anywho, we missed the Psych panel in the morning—much to our dismay, especially since we were close enough to hear the fans screaming—but we did see the iZombie panel in the morning and had stitches in our sides for the rest of the day from laughing.


Liz and I also met BookTubers Jesse the Reader and Christine Riccio when we were preparing to leave (must. contain. fangirl!!), searched for fabulous flare, and got pics with Arrow—sort of. We don’t have many photos from this day because we spent it in panels, getting swag, and it was so crowded that it was difficult to move.


Day 3 Recap: Okay, now to the juicy stuff! Liz and I attempted to go to the Once Upon a 


Time and Riverdale panels in Ballroom 20. *cough* Yeah, that didn’t happen. We got there right as the doors opened and . . . were promptly led a ¼ mile from the convention center and down by the marina to line up, where we had to wind our way back up in the heat and humidity. We were 30 stinking people away from getting into Ballroom 20, and we spent hours on the floor hoping that people would leave. No dice! We thought it would be a crummy start to the day, but Saturday was AMAZING and held so many surprises, including our fabulous friend, Gabriela, hanging with us for the day and using her baby backpack to make space on the floor so I could run after fantastic cosplayers. One of my favorite parts of the adventure was taking pictures with the kids who thought I was the real 20170722_134857Cinderella, and seeing the joy on their faces made the whole experience magical. Guys, I want to be a Disney princess!


This Kid Flash was adorable and hilarious. I told him to strike a running pose, and he immediately got into Barry Allen’s 


running position. This kid deserves a medal!


Attacking Derek Theler, which I’m now embarrassed about blurting out his name and following through by asking for a pic, but totally worth the memory! 

Liz and I discovered that hanging by one of the bathroom’s meant that the entire casts of Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl had to walk right past us. Brandon Routh is just as handsome in person, but Franz (who plays Jackson on Legends) was so sweet and stayed behind on the floor to take pictures with fans. Honestly, he was so genuine and immediately made us love him more.

And ending the night was the most hilarious surprise of all. The floor was crowded, and Liz and I were exhausted, so we leaned against the foam “room” that was the Outlander booth. People repeatedly asked us if we were in line, so we kept moving out of the way because there were lines everywhere and you never know what you’re getting into. Eventually, we wandered around the front so as to not confuse people and discovered, four feet away, the entire cast of Outlander at their signing. I’d nearly busted through that foam wall by accident and fallen right into Jamie’s lap (now I’m a little bummed I didn’t lean harder!).


We had become pros by this time, so we waited at the edge of the gathering when the 20170722_154029bagpipes started to play. Yes, I said bagpipes. While everyone else tried to usher actors out as quickly as possible, they announced their departure like they were waltzing down the Red Carpet. Liz and I laughed at the fanfare as they walked right by, Sam Heughen smiling and working that crowd the entire time. I’ll admit that he definitely sells it, and these Sassenachs didn’t mind stumbling upon that fabulous memory one bit.

It might be a few weeks late, but there you have it! This year’s SDCD was full of great laughs, fabulous memories, and plenty of new adventures. And it never hurts to learn new secrets for next year!

The Fangirl’s Guide to Navigating Life: COMIC CON!!

Published July 17, 2017 by Ashley Townsend
The Fangirl’s Guide to Navigating Life:
Surviving Comic Con
In case you haven’t noticed all the social media hoopla or cosplay pics galore accosting your social media feed, Comic Con is just around the corner. Let the nerds and fangirls unite!! I did a LOT of research and prep work for my first venture into the Greatest Geekfest in America, but I had no idea what to expect or what I was getting myself into.
Heads up: If you’re wearing an incredibly elaborate Alice in Zombieland dress, make sure the hem won’t be too long so the crowds don’t step on it every five seconds . . . or so you don’t trip on it going up the stairs (true story). As Edna Mode says, “NO CAPES!”
Now, years later, I’ve got a few quick tools and tricks under my belt that take some of the guesswork out of SDCC. And if it does become a bit of a headache, there’s aspirin in my survival pack for that. ~_^
The survival pack: 
Your CC badge, of course
Camera — no explanation necessary.
Phone and charger
Comfy kicks — anytime you can swap out those cosplay shoes for something comfortable to walk in, do it! Your tired feet will thank you.
Protein bars and water — you won’t always have time to stop for sustenance and need these on hand.
Cool shades/sunnies for waiting outside
Business cards — you’d be surprised at the friends and potential readers you meet in line or on the floor.
Notebook, pen, and Sharpie (autographs and notes).
A watch — time WILL get away from you.
A few random items to bring are bandaids, lotion, aspirin, oil absorbing tissues for your face, safety pins, and double-sided tape for costume repair. Be prepared!
Planning your trip:
While most of you probably already have your schedule down, it’s definitely worth downloading the Comic Con app. You can save events to your schedule, signings, and exhibitors to know exactly who will be where, and there are even nifty notifications that let you know when an event is coming up. They also have extra details of the schedule on the Comic Con website that are worth checking out or downloading. And when you get your swag bag the first day, make sure to keep the gigantic events guide they give you. It seems cumbersome, but this shall be your guide for the next four days (or however long you decide to spend in the Fangirls’ Promised Land).
For locals headed downtown, parking can get crazy expensive in some of the lots (if you can find a space, it’s around $40-$60 for each day), and they block off some of the underground parking during CC. Getting someone to drop you off near Market St. is ideal, but Ubering is awesome if you don’t want to bother with the traffic, and half the locals take the trolley down because it dumps you right in front of the con. If you’re flying in and staying in a hotel downtown, it’s worth the walk to the Convention Center, or you can Uber or take a Lyft. Traffic is usually worst Friday and Saturday, so if you can avoid it these days, it’s definitely worth having these backup plans in mind!
I’ll admit I’m no expert, but these small hacks make attending Comic Con a breeze. My biggest recommendation is to not overbook your week with activities and fill every minute. Allow some gaps in your schedule for discovering new things, wandering, shopping, and, of course, taking pics with amazing cosplayers. Speaking of costumes, I plan to have FOUR cosplay changes over the week, so stay tuned on Instagram for pics of the fun and adventures that await. Will I see you there?

Only 3 Days Left to Enter!

Published October 13, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

There are only 3 days left to enter the Chasing Shadows Rafflecopter Giveaway and earn entries for the social media prizes! (enter here) I’ve never done a Rafflecopter before, and so I was amazed at how many of you entered. I was also seriously flummoxed (word of the day that I’m pretty sure I’m using improperly–thanks, Dictionary app! ^_^) and excited over how much attention #TeamHood and #ChasingShadowsBook are getting on Pinterest and Twitter. You guys are seriously the best!  Mwah! Keep entering the Rafflecopter to win the Grand Prize and share the link around for your friends to enter, too.

You can use the tweets below during the week until this Friday, Oct 16th, at 11:59pm (PST) to spread word about the grand prize giveaway. Each tweet, share, and mention that leads back to me containing #TeamHood earns you one entry toward the 2 social media prizes (gift cards, books, ebooks, book swag, and more!). So keep sharing and entering the Rafflecopter until Friday, and stop by this weekend to see if your name is announced as one of 3 winners for the Chasing Shadows 1-Year Celebration!

RT! Enter to   &       


RT! Ends 10-16. Enter below to win:       

RT to earn entries into the @TownsendTales

Ends Oct 16! Use & enter to win free @TownsendTales

Ohhhh, Caaanada!

Published June 9, 2013 by Ashley Townsend

Not like I’ve been neglectful of my following, or anything crazy like that, but I wanted to give you all a heads up that I’ll be out of the country for a week and most likely won’t get a chance to hop on here. Alas, I shall be experiencing another country for the first time, plugging along in a ferry across the majestic waters leading to Vancouver Island. Unfortunately, that requires me to suffer mild weather perfect for my favorite yellow sweater, sipping espresso in a Canadian café, and wandering ancient bookstores in Victoria. And egad if Katie and I must discover landmarks we’ve only read about in books, tour the magnificent Canadian countryside, wander the incredibly colorful Butchart Gardens—our green thumbs cringe at the notion!—and possibly even be forced to suffer the torment of some delightful sort of cultural experience that is essentially Canadian, be inspired to write by the beauty of it all . . . . . . . You know, now that I think about it, I believe we’ll make it out juuuuust fine. ~__^ So you don’t feel left out, I’ll be posting photos and itineraries on my Facebook page whenever I can find some WiFi, so be sure to check in each day. Maybe it will be a little well-deserved vacation for all of us.

The next time you see me, I’ll have an accent! And maybe even a lumberjack to bring home. Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?


Oh, YES, please!

Books: Round 2

Published July 27, 2012 by Ashley Townsend

Ding, ding, ding! Commence round 2 of Ashley Townsend & Friend’s Reading Extravaganza. So, wipe off your sweaty palms—I know you’re that excited—and check out some of the latest books I’ve read. Let the reading games begin!

*****Ohmysweetgoodness! I loved this book and everything about it! “Of Poseidon” is definitely on the shelf of my favorite books of the year and is probably at number one on my favorite newly discovered reads of the summer. The book is about mermaids—ahem, excuse me—Syrenas, and has a very complex backstory concerning the legend of Poseidon and the half-human, half-Syrenas the author concocted. I was actually super excited over this idea, but I know it might be a turn-off for some people because mermaids can either be a winner or a stinker. I’ll admit that I was curious to see if I would be jumping for joy or plugging my nose while I read, but this form of fantasy was handled extremely well by the author. If you’re into flesh-eating mermaids and the darker version of these tales, sorry; it doesn’t get that creepy, though I was pleased with it. The story centers on a “normal” high school girl who loses her best friend in a shark attack in the first few pages (I love when they get right to it!), and this event leads her to a discovery about her past and who she is … Syrena, though there’s more to it than that. And then, of course, there’s Galen, the incredibly handsome Syrena prince who is mutually attracted to our heroine, though things become complicated when they discover that Emma’s special abilities means she must be betrothed to Galen’s brother. I really appreciated how scientific Anna got with this story, and she did a fantastic job of crafting the history of Atlantis, the Syrena (fish?) people, and the children of Poseidon without the story veering off into cheesy territory. I can’t think of anything that I didn’t like about this book, except that it ended on a cliff-hanger and I have to WAIT for the next one. From the endearing characters the author crafted—my sweet Toraf!—to the more delicious ones that my heart did a little flip over to the chuckle-worthy sarcasm and fantastically-handled plot, this book wormed its way into my heart and made a little gypsy camp in there, with teeny-tiny acrobats that jump around and make me giggle whenever I think of it. I have no intention of ever evicting it, because I haven’t enjoyed a book this much in a while!   

*****Okay, this is going to sound cheesy, but I wish I could time travel so I could go back and read this book all over again … And

Don’t you just love this cover?

it would also help with the late fines at the library, since I could technically read sixty books in a week. Emerson Cole has the ability—or how she sees it, misfortune—to see dead people. I’m not going all “Sixth Sense” on you, and the author didn’t either; Emerson can see people from the past as though they’re part of the scenery—which can be a little embarrassing when she has a full-blown argument in the middle of the cafeteria with someone no one else can see—but what she doesn’t realize is that it’s because she has a specific time-traveling gene. Since she weaned herself off the meds that kept her from seeing these odd visions of non-existent Southern Belles, dead soldiers, and jazz trios from the past, the haunting phantoms seem to be getting worse. Concerned for her sanity, Emerson’s brother brings in a consultant from an organization called the Hourglass that specializes in “visions” like she’s been experiencing since her parents’ death years ago. The consultant is, of course, handsome, sympathetic, and intriguing, and he and Emerson are strangely drawn toward each other. I won’t give too much away, but Michael explains that he can also see the strange apparitions that are slowly leaking through time, and he tells Emerson that he needs her help to bring someone back from the dead by using her time-traveling gift. The thing I liked the most about this book was that the time traveling aspect was so technical and not at all “magical.” I’ve been reading a lot of books about time travel for research for “Rising Shadows” and the next books, but most of them involved magic or just some poof or fantastical element, so I loved the fact that Myra really got down to business. It was obvious that the author really did a lot of research on the space time continuum, wormholes, and the like, and it really shows in her writing. The plot was well planned and timed, and I loved her witty humor and sarcasm. Her characters were excellent; I actually liked the heroine, which doesn’t happen too often, and I felt the subsequent characters never really veered off the path and became someone else. I am so excited that the second book is from Kaleb’s perspective, though, because I definitely want to get to know him better. It wasn’t as though this book was an action-packed adventure, but it was seriously entertaining and, dare I say, gripping? Definitely my favorite time travel book this year, and it’s on my top five favorite summer reads.    

****I really enjoyed this book! I originally got it for the cover and because it was similar to my own book, with the time period and Robin Hood theme. I was delighted to find that it was full of adventure, fast-paced, and all about the start of Robin Hood (my favorite character and legend of all time!) and his gang. I loved the fact that the author set the book around the time that the gang got started, so readers get to see a little bit of the beginning of Robin’s Merry Men … and Woman. There was a fantastic amount of historical research that went into this book, and I loved what Gaughen did with the characters, changing them up with fun and endearing little spins, and how she tied everyone together in this story with the characters of old. I would have given this book a five for the story and characters alone, but it was a little odd to get used to the heroine’s London-inspired grammar, though I found that I didn’t notice it after a few pages, so don’t let that stop you. Robin Hood is so fantastic in this story; exactly my type of Hooded Hero—strong, mysterious, caring. The romantic triangle was also handled really well, and I kept thinking they were real people. All in all, I loved this book, and I will definitely be reading it again! If you’re a fan of the Robin Hood legend, or just completely obsessed with it like I am, then you should give this one a try; you’ll be glad you did.

Click on the link below to become a fan of Ashley Townsend, check out the books I’ve read and want to read, rate Rising Shadows, or just see what I have been up to. So many books, so little time. *Sigh*

The Overactive Imagination

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

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Tricia Mingerink

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