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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….

chase-you-tube

(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.

storywonk

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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.

hp-merman

(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.

lore

(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

 

The Music Speaks! DS Playlist

Published August 13, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

jewelry heart

Music inspires me. 

One beat or pulsing rhythm or lyric that catches on my heart strings, and I’m hooked on a song. My sister Katie (follow her blog Books and Wonderful Things!) brought a random song from Florence and the Machine to my attention while I was writing Chasing Shadows, and the chorus and a single line in the bridge of “Heavy in Your Arms” inspired the waterfall scene between Jade and Will (“The one who creeps in corridors and doesn’t make a sound.” Come on, people!). Sometimes when I get blocked, I take a break, close my eyes and just nap in the sunshine and listen to music. I’ve overcome many a writing stump by absorbing the tone and lyrics of random songs.

music speaks

My writing playlist consists of about 150 inspiring songs in all sorts of genres so that there is something to fit any scene (romantic, intense, moody, tragic). But there is always one lyric or beat or chorus that so perfectly encompasses the entire mood of a chapter that, before I realize it, the repeat button has been pressed, and I listen to nothing but that song as it inspires the setting and the way I write, even how the characters respond to one another. Some music causes me to pound away at the keyboard as swords clash and arrows fly, while sweeter melodies make me slow down and smile as I pen a romantic interlude (ooh, interludes! ^_~). Music is, essentially, the backbone behind life and every story, if you listen close enough to the birds, the wind, and “every breaking wave” (*cough* U2 reference *cough*).

Since there is one specific song that really stuck out to me as being the lifeblood behind each chapter, I had to share with you the melodies that inspired Defying Shadows. If you’ve read the book, then you’re probably freaking out because you’re reliving every laugh and tear and emotional tidal wave that you experienced while reading the book. If you haven’t started Defying Shadows yet, then find it here so you know why this playlist is perfect. 

I hope you enjoy the sounds of Serimone!

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Prologue:

            “Drop of Smoke”—Hudson Taylor

Chapter 1:

            “I Will Be Back One Day”—Lord Huron

Chapter 2:

            “Best Friend”—Jason Mraz

Chapter 3:

            “Into the Wild”—Lewis Walton

Chapter 4:

            “Sing Loud”—Alpha Rev

Chapter 5:

            “Surrender”—Natalie Taylor

Chapter 6:

            “Surround You”—Echosmith

Chapter 7:

            “Another Story”—The Head and the Heart

Chapter 8:

            “History’s Door”—Husky

Chapter 9:

            “Big Bad World”—Kodaline

Chapter 10:

            “Can’t Pretend”—Tom Odell

Chapter 11:

            “The Lion’s Den”—Twin Oaks

Chapter 12:

            “Let it Go”—James Bay

Chapter 13:

            “I Have Made Mistakes”—The Oh Hellos

Chapter 14:

            “Moon Shines Red”—Jamie McDell

Chapter 15:

            “Running for You”—Kip Moore

Chapter 16:

            “Searchlight”—Phillip Phillips

Chapter 17:

            “Run”—Jasmine Thompson

Chapter 18:

            “All I Want”—Dawn Golden

Chapter 19:

            “Unclear”—Kodaline

Chapter 20:

            “Stay Alive”—Jose Gonzalez

Chapter 21:

            “Daniel in the Den”—Bastille

Chapter 22:

            “Fire”—Barnes Courtney

            “Volcano”—Emily Hearn

Chapter 23:

            “I Found Love”—Amber Run

Chapter 24:

            “Hollow”—Tori Kelley

Chapter 25:

            “Pieces”—Andrew Belle

Chapter 26:

            “Prince of Peace”—Hillsong

Chapter 27:

            “Way Down We Go”—Kaleo

Chapter 28:

            “Song for Someone”—U2

Chapter 29:

            “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”—Raign

Chapter 30:

            “Charlie Boy”—The Lumineers

Chapter 31:

            “All I Ever Wanted (Was Time)”—Vance Joy

Chapter 32:

            “On My Way Back Home”—Band of Horses

Chapter 33:

            “Light”—Sleeping at Last

Chapter 34:

            “Other Side”—Parachute

Chapter 35:

            “Hanging by a Thread”—Aaron Espe

Chapter 36:

            “All This Time”—One Republic

Chapter 37:

            “Home”—Gabrielle Aplin

Chapter 38:

            “Our Last Days”—The Fray

Epilogue:

            “Photograph”—Ed Sheeran

 

Part 6: The Tricks of the Trade

Published April 7, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

Wow, has it really been so long since I last posted?! . . . . Oopsies! Got a little distracted there for a bit, but now I’m back on track and ready to get at it. Now, where were we? Ah, yes:

Writing is an Art, I Tell You!

Part 6: The Tricks of the Trade

typewriter

Things a writer should definitely be aware of:

Conferences:

In the modern age, it’s crazy simple to search “Writing conferences in your area” and get a ton of hits. Conferences are going on all the time and are a great way to expand your network and learn things about the industry that you never even imagined.

I’m attending Realm Makers at the end of July. It takes place in Pennsylvania and is an awesome conference for Christian spec-fic writers to share their stories and learn about the craft. I’ve had the pleasure of getting connected with authors and speakers who will be in attendance this year, and their encouragement and lively attitude is incredible. I hope you’ll join us there, and registration is open now!

Natural Reader:

This app saved my life while editing Chasing Shadows! (download the free version here) I was going bonkers reading the manuscript over and over, and then I discovered this bad boy. I would copy and paste a few chapters at a time into the app, and then while I’m cleaning the house or getting ready for work, I could audibly catch errors that my eyes had just skipped right over by the 32nd edit. When you read you manuscript so much, your brain just auto-fills, and although the monotone voice can be a little grating at first, this was such an invaluable tool! I’m also pretty positive it saved me from chucking Chasing Shadows right out the window.

PicMonkey:

I joined PicMonkey a little while ago, but never really took full advantage of its process until recently. It saves so much time and makes every announcement or advertisement look so much more Wow! when you can create your own graphics over an image and design it specifically for your event/announcement.  

http://www.grammarbook.com/

This website is fantastic! I have it bookmarked on my phone so whenever I have a quick grammar issue to check, and I can just look up the problem super quick and be done with it, rather than stare at the screen vacillating between whether I’m right or wrong.  

And a couple things my good friend and fellow author, Nadine Brandes (check her out here—she’s amazing!), introduced me to are https://evernote.com/?var=1 and https://clicktotweet.com/

Evernote—basically it links all of your devices and the work you do on them so you’re never without it! I’m still getting used to it, but it’s pretty fantastic and handy.

Click to Tweet—now this is awesome! I’ve seen Nadine and other bloggers use this little tool, and it. Is. Marvelous! It’s only free for the first month, but for a measly $7 a month, I can embed links for people to easily tweet about anything I post on or share. Just invest, okay?!

Well, that’s about it for today. I promise not to let so much time pass before I chat your eyes off next time. But until then, stay crazy, Shadows!

 

New Interviews Just Released

Published October 21, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

A couple new interviews have just been released, one with Double Decker Books and the other with Ink Spell Reviews. I loved answering the My Top 10 Fiction Crushes questions from Ink Spell. I’m a fangirl, so that’s one of the most complicated questions to answer, but I love a challenge! Check them out, like, and share around.

Also, my Between the Pages post will still be up Friday this week, but I’ll be on vacation all of next week and so I won’t have a regular post on Halloween night, the 31st. Because, you know, I’ll be on a vacation. I’m very happy about this fact. ^_^ 

SPEAKING of which. For those of you with an Instagram, or if you don’t have an account and have fingers for searching and scrolling, be sure to follow my sister’s Instagram before this weekend. We’ll be turning it into a promotional page for “Chasing Shadows.” My copies of the book are coming today! Gah! Suffering from excruciating joy!

Anyway, I’m taking a couple copies along with me on vacation for all sorts of nonsense. He might (yes, my books are male, like my future fiction husband Will Taylor from “Chasing Shadows”!) go hipster and sip local coffee in a cafe with a pipe and typewriter, use bathroom stalls for making cupcakes, take selfies with tourists, fly off into the sunset,etc. You never know what can happen in the fiction world! So, like I said, follow d_jeans86 on Instagram, and keep an eye out this weekend and all next week for the wacky wonders that we’ll be posting on there. 

Last order(s) of business. 

The 2014 Gold Rush author event at Barnes and Noble with Livia Blackburne, Stephanie Diaz, Bethany Crandell, Tracy Holczer, and Maria Andreu was, in a word: THE-MOST-SPECTACULAR-EVENT-IN-THE-HISTORY-OF-READING-AND-WRITING. Yes, just one word. There was a great turnout, and the authors were hilarious and amazing and took so much time to answer our questions (I asked several-haha). Afterwards, I picked up a copy of Stephanie’s book “Extraction” to have her sign it, and I’m super excited about it. It was also really exciting when Bethany Crandell, a San Diego local, recognized my name, and then the entire group of FIVE successful authors started asking me questions about “Chasing Shadows” and talking about how cool it sounded, and Bethany even wants to get together to discuss the book. *gasp* 80 Uh, okay? Um, YES! Liz, Katie, and I were all in heaven the entire time, and it was so cool for all of us to chat with ladies in the business. That will go down as a highlight of 2014.  

Oh! And for you San Diego natives, you might be seeing “Chasing Shadows” at your local library very soon. That’s right. I’m working right now (today, actually) on getting it into circulation. EEEE! I’d love all your prayers and support for this to work out, because it would be amazing to have it available to the general public and kids who can’t afford to purchase their own copies. Been there, and the library saved my life from becoming book-less. ^_^

Follow DeAnna on Instagram for hilarity and to see what all “Chasing Shadows” is up to:

http://instagram.com/d_jeans86

http://inkspellreviews.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/chasing-shadows-townsendtales-blog-tour/

http://doubledeckerbooks.blogspot.com/2014/10/hot-coco-interview-with-author-ashley.html?spref=tw

http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Shadows-Ashley-Townsend-ebook/dp/B00O6VCZVQ/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1413922294

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

15 Stages Every Bride Goes Through | The Knot Blog – Wedding Dresses, Shoes, & Hairstyle News & Ideas

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

A Glimpse of Sequel Sounds …

Published September 11, 2012 by Ashley Townsend

So, you all know how much I love music and enjoy creating playlists. Well, ta-da! Here’s a sneak peak at the playlist for the sequel to Rising Shadows. This is just a little taste of the ridiculous number of songs that I’m sorting through until I find the perfect ones for the sequel. It has been so much fun writing the book while selecting music for the playlist, because most of these songs have actually inspired scenes and feelings that I hadn’t yet written in or imagined. These are my favorite songs so far that I listen to constantly, and I specially selected these to share because each one inspired something in the book. Music addicts like me honestly have to add these to their iPods or get them on YouTube, just so they can get a feel for the tone of the next book. I’ll also be listening to each song as I write about them, and I recommend that you pull them up and listen while you read to get the full effect. Enjoy!

“Heavy in Your Arms” – Florence and the Machine

            My first possible-scene-obsession-song of the summer. My magical music guru, Katie, led me onto this sweet little morsel. She was listening to it while I was working on the playlist for Rising Shadows and thought the lyric about “the one who creeps in corridors” would be perfect for the Shadow. Then we spent the better part of an hour shooting ideas for the scene back and forth, throwing out characters ideas, and playing with the symbolism for the scene versus the song literally directing it. Like the rest of the book, I already have it written out in my head, but even Katie has no idea what I’m actually going to do with it.

“Give Me Love” – Ed Sheeran

            Ohmysweetgoodness! It is going to be a very emotional and intense scene, and you’ll get what I mean when you reach about 3:45 in the song (You can stop after 5:30). My sister Liz turned me onto his “Small Bump” song, and we purchased the rest of the CD days later, where “Give Me Love” became our next blare-in-the-car tune. Like the rest of these songs, this one inspired a certain part of a scene that I already planned on writing, but it definitely added more emotional depth to this particular moment. I am so looking forward to writing this one! I love drama! … In books. Real life, not so much.

 

“World Spins Madly On” – The Weepies

            This song has a really great sound to it—I love the guitar—and it just puts me in one of my very thoughtful, I-must-write! type of moods. When a song inspires me to write or I think it would really fit well with a scene, I become obsessed with it and just leave it on repeat for hours as I play the scene out in my head, trying to match the lyrics or have them affect the tone of the scene. I drove my sister Katie nuts the other day because I listened to it fifteen times in a row, after which she begged me not to make it sixteen. ^__^ This song has a very melancholy sound, which for some reason, I am drawn to when writing. Little spoiler: This is from Sarah’s perspective just after someone close to her dies … And that’s all I can say. Sorry, it’s just a tormenting taste.    

“The Shadow Proves the Sunshine” – Switchfoot

             I have been a Switchfoot fan for years, and when I heard this song just before the release of Rising Shadows, I knew I had to write something into the second book where this was the “theme” song (it appears fairly quick after “World Spins Madly On”). Every time I listen to this song, I immediately think of Will (sigh) and have this really melancholy moment with him. Plus, this track has the word “shadow” in the title. I mean, come on; I had to add it. I have not typed out this scene yet, but trust me, it is completely written in my head—drafted, revised, and spell checked!—and I cannot wait to be able to finally get this scene down on paper.

“Awake My Soul” – Mumford and Sons

            My older sister Elizabeth introduced me to this one—thank you, thank you, thank you!—and I have added it to just about every playlist on my iPod so I’m never without it. “How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes, I struggle to find any truth in your lies … But my weakness I feel I must finally show.” When I heard these lyrics, I immediately pictured a moment between Will and Sarah; they have this fantastic draw to each other, but they also fight it constantly—Sarah, because she knows she can’t stay in the twelfth century, and Will, because he’s afraid to let anyone in. There’s also the fact that the song talks about truth and trust, which has always been a theme in their relationship, and then the line about weakness completely describes Will opening up to her. Ah. Don’t you just love it when a song can sum up your first book in three and a half minutes?    

“Demons” – Imagine Dragons

            I already have one of their songs, but when I heard “Demons” on a movie trailer, I purchased their new CD without listening to the rest of it. Not recommended, but this time it actually turned out really well! I dedicate this entire song to Will, especially for the sequel. Once again, I got this song three days ago and have listened to it probably twenty or more times.  

More scene-inspiring music for the sequel!

“Winterlove” – Parachute

“Eyes Wide Open” – Gotye

“I Won’t Give Up” – Jason Mraz

“Twenty Years” – Augustana

“Hear You Me” – Jimmy Eat World

“Rivers and Road” – The Head and the Heart

“No One Ever Taught Us” – Jason Reeves

“Always” – Switchfoot

“John Wayne” – Sons of Sylvia

 

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