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The Songs of Mordor (a.k.a NaNoWriMo)

Published November 8, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

November is a time of family, autumn leaves, snuggly clothing (I live in San Diego, so . . . . I basically never get to wear my sweaters *cries*), thankfulness, an obsession with the PSL (I had to ask someone—apparently, it’s lingo for Pumpkin Spice Latte *shrugs*). Seems pretty quaint, right?

Well, for writers the month of November is basically a crazed adventure film where people who live a thousand lives and imagine the impossible embark on a journey to the Great Mount Fifty (also know as Mordor). You either make it or die trying. *dramatic music swells*

 

frodo-mordor

Don’t know what I’m talking about? 

IT’S NANOWRIMO, PEOPLE! A month where authors take on the task of reaching 50,000 words in their work in progress in a meager 30 days. Why not a month that has 31 days to it? . . . . I honestly don’t know, because when you’re strapped to the seemingly innocent task of at least 1,666 words per day, even a few hours can be helpful.

nanowrimo

And everyone knows that epic movies and adventures require the proper soundtrack for inspiration. Do you think Captain Ahab wasn’t humming some Journey power-ballad to himself when he attempted to slay Moby Dick, or that literary greats didn’t bob their heads to some intense Mozart tune while penning their poetry? Or that any Marvel film would be as exciting without a score or AC/DC number to guide the scene on?

Negatory, my friends. “Where words fail, music speaks.” Thank you, Hans Christian Andersen. Some of my greatest blocks while writing the Rising Shadows trilogy were overcome by the right tune that sparked my inspiration and set the mood for the scene, unblocking me like some good ol’ Drano for the mind. . . . I think I took it too far.

picard

 

Anyway, below is my playlist that helped me work past today’s word count goals for The Jungle Princess. It’s basically a compilation of songs that I just love listening to and put me in a great mood to write, but some also fit seamlessly as the inspiration for current chapters in JP. So, this begs the question, what’s on your writing playlist? What music inspires you? Are you hooked by lyrics, the melody, or both? Or are you like me and listen to the same song on repeat for hours until the scene comes together perfectly? Cheers to that! *clanks mugs of coffee, because caffeine means survival*

“Hurt Somebody” – Dierks Bentley

“It’ll All Work Out” – Tom Petty

“Love Someone” – Jason Mraz

“Start of Time” – Gabrielle Aplin

“On My Way Back Home” – Band of Horses

“This Town” – Niall Horan

“Don’t Worry Baby” – The Beach Boys

“Beat the Devil’s Tatto” – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

“Losing My Mind” – Charlie Puth

“Thinking Out Loud” – Ed Sheeran

“Hurricane” – Need to Breathe

“Springsteen” – Eric Church

“Back on the Map” – Kacey Musgraves

“One Day” – Kodaline

“Don’t You (Forget about Me)” – Simple Minds

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Part 2: Overcoming the “Block”

Published February 6, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

Writing is an Art, I Tell You!

Part 2: Overcoming the “Block”

As you saw in Part 1 of this series, there are many different types of writers, and I’d like to think that no two authors are exactly the same. Yet we all react to writer’s block in similar ways, which is unavoidable no matter what writing technique you use (Plotting, Pantsing, or Plotting-Pantsing). If you aren’t familiar with this term of torture, then, hello! Welcome back to earth, because clearly you were kidnapped by aliens and have been held hostage for some time and haven’t been paying attention to Pinterest series about Writer’s Problems. But if this is the case and you were abducted by extraterrestrials, then I am truly sorry and want to educate you on one of the few negatives of writing.
block

Common side effects of writer’s block include, but are not limited to:

anxiety

(noun: distress or uneasiness of the mind)

  1. I feel such anxiety because my deadline is near and I can’t seem to pull myself together and get over this dreaded block. . . . And when did my fairytale romance suddenly become a sci-fi theater drama with space buffalos?!

hair loss, due to it being pulled from ones scalp in irritation (see definition of  

anxiety above)

frustration

(noun: a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems)

binge-watching

(verb: a brief period of excessive indulgence)

This unhealthy act generally concerns television when one would rather procrastinate than try to push through the aforementioned block.

How do I escape the block? By being a mature adult and just getting it done?

ace

 

By procrastinating, silly goose! Okay, so I have to admit that there are some days when I just have to push through and try to reach my goal, despite my creative—ahem—blockage. But, man, let me tell you, looking up procrastination gifs and memes on Pinterest can definitely be inspiring. Shocked, are we? Let me tell you how this process goes.

wrtiers

Step 1. Look up random pins on procrastination.

Step 2. Laugh hysterically, because they’re just so relatable.

Step 3. Spend 30 minutes scrolling through related pins that eventually lead to one

about actual writing.

Step 4. Find a random story pin that leads you toward a gaggle of images that inspire

a barrage of exciting story ideas that never before had you considered.

Step 5. WRITE!

Aaaaaand, voilá! Suddenly you have a thousand words flowing from your fingertips. That horrible time of doubt and mistrust that those fingers would ever produce anything meaningful again flees, and you’re left with, amazingly, a story.

mozart

But at the end of the day, after you’ve trekked your way over the hump and have found your groove once more, there is one truth that is universally acknowledged.

mal

This random post is brought to you by,

Little Miss Procrastination (I should be starting my next series, but instead I’m telling you how to procrastinate . . . the irony is not lost, my friends.)

Definitions taken from my handy dandy Webster’s Dictionary app!

Vote for Ink Smith Publishing!

Published June 2, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

My publisher just shared a link on our group page to vote for Ink Smith Publishing in the Mission Main St. Grants competition. This is an amazing opportunity for our company to expand and grow, and it will be an invaluable tool in the lives of the Ink Smith authors, providing us with a wider range of sharing opportunities and publishing options. We’re doing great so far, but we still need a few more votes to get us to the next level. All you have to do is take 20 seconds out of your day, click the link below, and vote. It’s that simple! And please feel free to share around, as well, because extra votes never hurts. ^_~

Thanks, guys, for your support. Now let’s go and win this sucker!

https://www.missionmainstreetgrants.com/b/59905

Ahoy! Spoilers Ahead!

Published May 16, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

Okay, so this could definitely be considered cheating, but I am DYING to share a little snippet from Book III in the Rising Shadows trilogy!

18 "Supernatural" GIFs To Express Your Every Emotion

Yep, you heard right. I’ve been writing several pages each day, refining as I go, and spent basically all of yesterday working on an imperative, mystery-unraveling scene. I also had the opportunity—at last!—to pen the letters between Cadius and Alexis. . . . There aren’t any major spoilers within the actual letters (as long you’ve read Chasing Shadows), so don’t panic or get too excited.

The "Freaking Out Hard Core" (the BEST pin in history. I cant breathe. this is seriously amazing. Click on the link. NOW.)

… Or get excited—that’s okay, too! But if you are going into your second year of being cold turkey concerning spoilers, then you might want to back out now and wait for the book to release. I’d hate to be the one who set you back.

50 Lee Pace GIFs That Will Make You Believe In Love Again

That’s right, go ahead. I’ll wait a moment for you to leave…

Flash Cisco Ramon ♥♥♥

Ah, now that we’re all ready for some serious glimpses of the literary future, shall we continue on? 

Ned

Nonsense, poopy pants! (a little shout-out to Ace Ventura) Without further ado:

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!

Sarah ran a tentative finger over the rough, discolored parchment she had found in the hidden compartment. With careful fingers, she removed the uppermost letter from the pile and set the box on the desk. Pausing to listen for the sound of footsteps and hearing only her own rapid breathing, Sarah reverently opened the letter, fingers shaking as she unstuck the seal, broken years before now. The ancient parchment crackled as she unfolded it gently, praying it didn’t disintegrate in her hands. Instinctively, her eyes roved the small letter quickly, catching glimpses of words that led her to believe it was a love letter, but her mouth swung open when she saw Cadius’ signature at the bottom.

We are nearing the end. You expressed your concern of my plans, but I assure you that I shall employ great care as my design unfolds. It will take time as I gather men who are willing to unseat the current monarch, but be patient, dear heart; I swear to you we will be free of this gilded cage soon. I shall release our souls from the tyranny of my brother by releasing his soul from this life, as I promised you I would. Your time is near, and the pieces are falling into place as planned. Patience, love–do not be so hasty as to try and rush our plan, as you proposed. All in due course, recall? Everything shall go into motion once the child is born.
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Me:

#Arrow reaction gifs "What?"

Just a little taste of what’s to come later this year when the series comes to a close. You’re welcome.

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Arrow reaction gifs - "Boom! drop the mic!"

The Evolution of Writing

Published November 15, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

11

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

Google+

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

love writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me love you Hook!!

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

writing

Interview with Dystopian Author Nadine Brandes

Published October 26, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

Just answer as many as you find applicable, or feel you want to answer
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself that we won’t find in your bio?

exploreHm..well, I’m an adventurer determined to experience as many sides of life as possible. Some odd facts about myself are: I was once a professional drummer, I’ve scuba dived in a sunken ship, and I tried to make it to the Olympics by snowboard racing. The Olympic thing was a dream much bigger than I understood when I started. In the process, I learned I’m not a competitive person. I was actually relieved when the journey ended at Nationals. 

I live in Idaho, my heart is in Missouri, but hubby and I hope to move to Russia someday. How’s that for “a little bit” about myself? [grin]

What inspired you to become an author?

Birth, really. I was born needing to write, needing to process via words. I turned everything into a story – both verbally and on paper. I created comic books as soon as I could draw with “paper pals” I’d sketch and send on adventures through little time machines.

It wasn’t until I was seventeen that I realized I wanted to do it for life and pursue writing as a career.

How did you come up with the idea for “A Time to Die”?

It came upon me, really. Quite forcefully. I was in the middle of grad school and an acquaintance of mine passed away. He was my age and it got me thinking about how short life could be. I wondered if I’d live differently if I knew I had a year left. That’s when the idea of A Time to Die hit me – what if a culture existed where everyone knew the day they would die? Would we live differently?

Tell us about your main characters. Do you have a favorite?

Parvin is my main character and easily my favorite. She asks a lot of questions I once asked in my lifetime so her journey feels very close to home. I like trying to delve into a teenager’s mind without supporting the common stereotypes we hold regarding teenages — angsty, irrational, selfish, etc. Just because that’s common with some teenagers doesn’t mean that’s how they all are. I wanted to capture the inner struggle. In doing so, I grew to love Parvin even more.

parvin

Reid is Parvin’s twin brother. He’s a traveler in love with adventures and always looking out for his family. Then there’s Jude – the mysterious inventor. He was a challenge to write. I went from not liking it at all to liking him too much (which made certain story elements harder.) Eventually I found a balance.

As for the other characters? I’ll just have to let you meet them on your own! 😉

What was your favorite scene(s) to write and why?

Strangely, the sad or intense scenes were the most fun to write. I thrive off of writing emotions, that’s when I’m at my best, I think. So whenever there needed to be a tragedy or a hard character decision, that’s when I got glued to my computer.

What do you do in your spare time when you aren’t writing?

readin 1Spare time? What’s that? [wink] Actually, I’m a freelance editor and all my spare time goes to editing. If I have true spare time – where I don’t have to edit or write – I’ll either read or spend time with family. Or do something artsy. 

If you could live inside the pages of any book (or series), what would it be and why?

My gut instinct is Harry Potter because that series inspired me and impacted my life in very positive ways. Not to mention that, I’m so nerdy about the whole series, I’d do quite well in a wand battle. But I’d have to be able to bring my hubby with me. 😀

You’re trapped on a desert island and can only save one book—using the rest for firewood (I just gagged at the thought)—to read until you’re saved months later, what would it be? Your answer must be a title other than the Bible—that’s a given.

Cruel! You are so cruel! Well, providing that I had food and provisions to keep me alive (without needing a survival book), I’d probably pick the dictionary…or a giant book of Systematic Theology. Or a huge encyclopedia.

I know, that is so boring. A million fiction books ran through my mind, but I can’t in good conscience devote several months to only entertainment. Must. Expand. Vocabulary!

(Side note: After I read Nadine’s response–bahahahahaha! And this is why I love this author, people! She’s got her priorities straight)

imaginationWhere do you get your ideas? Is anything in your book based on your own experiences, or is it purely from your imagination?

Mostly from imagination, dreams, or Scripture. A lot of times, my stories draw from a “what if” question. “What if” everyone knew the day they’d die? “What if” every wish came true? “What if”…

 Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Nope. There are scenes that are harder to write than others, but I rarely go into a story without knowing where it’s supposed to go. I don’t have time for writer’s block. 😉 In this, I count myself very lucky because I know a lot of writers who struggle with it.

Can you tell us about your challenges (if any) in getting your first book published?

Frankly, I had my “publishing story” handed to me on a silver platter. The only rejection letter I received came the same day I received the offer of a contract from my top publisher.

The hardest challenge was continuing to write and better my craft, really. It’s crucial that we apply what we learn as we receive edits or read craft books. Writing is hard! But worth it. [grin]

What stories are you currently working on?

I’m writing book two in the Out of Time Series and the first rough draft is done! After this series, I have some pretty cool ideas (I think.) A portal fantasy, another dystopian, an apocalyptic-type of idea. I need to learn to write faster.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Go to a writer’s conference! This is the biggest piece of advice I could give anyone who wants to grow in his or her writing craft. I know a lot of writers are introverts and that writing conferences can seem expensive or intimidating, but it’s the next step. Take it. Be brave!

How can we discover more about your book?

Read it! Oh, I mean, you can find read about it on my website or Amazon. Most of my updates go through Facebook and my newsletter. I’m also on Goodreads for all you Goodreads fans out there.

Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Thank you for reading. I hope that, instead of escapism, my books inspire you to live more fully. Remember, life demands pursuit, and God’s given us the perfect amount of time with which to catch it.

Thanks, Nadine, for sharing your amazing journey with us and for giving the literary world such a gem as “A Time to Die.” And if Nadine were still here, I imagine she’d give a resounding “Welks!” ^_^ You’ll understand when you read the book. 

Catch up with Nadine and buy “A Time to Die” in paperback and ebook today. You will NOT be sorry!

http://www.amazon.com/Time-Die-Out-Book/dp/1621840298/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414010106&sr=8-1&keywords=a+time+to+die+nadine 

 

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