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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Guest Post + Book & Gift Card Giveaway: Everything Is A Choice by Ashley Townsend


Everyone wants to be the next Tennyson, Hemingway, Stoker, or Austen of the modern world. I’ve been enamored with words and storytelling since I was a little tyke and planned on growing up and joining the ranks of these great minds of literature. That was it—no backup plan. I would become a writer and that. Was. That. But eight-year-old me making plans for the future never once considered that there might be a few bumps along my path towards greatness.
I published my first book “Rising Shadows” rather easily when I was twenty and assumed that with the sequel, “Chasing Shadows,” it would be just as simple. But I’m going to be honest and admit that I had no idea how to market a book and quickly realized I wouldn’t have a lucrative career in fiction if I kept at the quiet pace I was going. So I picked up the pace and put in an incredible amount of effort and time into finding someone who believed in this project as much as I did (and do!). I spent most of my free time pouring over list after list of literary agents and publishing companies to get “Chasing Shadows” picked up by a physical publisher. But none of the Christian literary agents were looking for the element of fantasy, and the agents interested in time travel did not have an interest in promoting Christian fiction. So it put me in a teensy bit of a bind, and I would find busy work just so I didn’t have to make a choice between believing all the other rejections and rising above it. But no matter how hard I tried to block it out, there would be these brief moments where God’s Voice snuck in and reminded me that this situation was a choice. Then I realized that the entire Rising Shadows Trilogy is based off of this principle: “Everything is a choice.” I’ve written about it for years but never fully understood until that moment when I realized I was choosing to wallow and stop trying. To tell you the truth, that scared the stuffing out of me, so I played a little Russian roulette with my Bible (it’s a highly scientific process), but the verse it flopped open to was completely non-applicable (I have no need to trade in goats OR sandals, dangit!!!). I was going to give up when I begrudgingly flipped to the next page, and a small, random, un-highlighted verse caught my eye:
“He will not fear evil tidings. His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.” Psalm 112:7
…….. Oh. That was a tad spot-on. And this simple, random thing made me realize that so many times the answer is as simple as us being willing to turn the page or round the corner, to not give up when the answer doesn’t readily present itself. I decided then that I didn’t want to live life as a victim anymore and chose to have a better attitude, to not give in to despair and give up on Hope, much like Sarah and Will in “Chasing Shadows.” Yes, there are still times when my friends are talking about graduating and boyfriends and careers and traveling the world, and I’m just sitting here like, “Oh, yeah, I love rocks and reading, and this college gal is totally going to have a best seller before 2090.” But I’m choosing not to believe the Devil’s lies when he says God made me the way I am with no purpose in mind. Even when I don’t know what that purpose is, God knows exactly where He’s directing me. And where He’s directing you, too.
So why am I admitting all of this? Because I want you to know how low I fell and how high and gently God was able to pick me up. . . . I didn’t realize until I typed those words just now that “Chasing Shadows” is all about falling but not letting your circumstances keep you down. And that is what I decided to do—to rise above. I’m happy to say that after months of searching and rejection, God literally dropped Ink Smith Publishing in my lap. They are passionate about the story, which was released October of 2014, and the publication of “Chasing Shadows” had led to so many opportunities to minister to and inspire youths and adults alike (like San Diego Comic Con 2015—woot woot! I’ll be the one with the professional badge, so shoot me a “hello” if you’ll be there). I was recently asked to speak at a high school English class about the publishing process, and I was amazed at how receptive and interested these kids were; I had no idea how many people could be inspired by not just the characters in my books but also the tale of how I decided to pursue my dreams and never gave up on them. This was incredible to me, but it also became my “aha!” moment; I suddenly realized that God didn’t help me through this process just for me, but I feel that it gave me the ability to broaden my ministry and to encourage kids and teens, who are my passion.
So I guess you could say that I have a pretty good idea of where He’s leading my “reading ministry.” Of course, I still love the writing process, and I want to create the type of book that is intriguing and fun, serious and clever, full of incredibly realistic and relatable characters, and also one that readers can learn from and that has God’s heart at the center of the story. And all of these characteristics make up “Chasing Shadows.” Oh, yes, and also drama, court intrigue, romance, masquerade balls, medieval castles, sword fighting, archery, handsome blacksmiths/Spaniards, love triangles, mystery, time travel, and pretty much whatever else you might like to find in a story. *wink wink*
I always wanted to follow in the footsteps of my mom and grandma, who both love and loved to write (my first book is dedicated to my grandma Ruth, who passed away just months before my first book was picked up). And Jesus was the ultimate storyteller—why wouldn’t I want to be like Him? So I know He has a plan for my wandering thoughts and inner story-maker to uplift and inspire, but as of right now, I’m still working on understanding exactly what He has in store. But as I write each day and get inspired to craft new tales, I no longer ask myself if there is any point to all of this, but I’m trusting that God has a plan. And whatever spiritual journey you’re on, He has a plan for you, too, and it will be one of Victory. Our job is to not lose our enthusiasm for our passions along the way as we enjoy the ride.

Stop by my website to check out character interviews for the trilogy, playlists, and whatever other shenanigans I have going on. Also be sure to follow the links to my Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest pages when you’re there to keep up-to-date on the series. http://ashley-townsend.com/

Join in the adventure! You can purchase your own copy of “Chasing Shadows” from Amazon and B&N:




About Chasing Shadows:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00O6VCZVQ/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00O6VCZVQ&linkCode=as2&tag=chrisbooksrev-20&linkId=TY4F6D25CKQBV2RA


Would you choose to entwine your fate with a hero of the past, even if it meant altering the future? The murder of an ancient king spurs Sarah Matthews to travel back in time, putting her life in jeopardy as she races against the clock to solve a thousand-year-old mystery and pick up the pieces of her star-crossed romance. Her return to Serimone reveals that the kingdom is in upheaval under the new regime, and unable to right the empire alone, Sarah seeks out the help of Will, the town's blacksmith and secret vigilante. But her hopes of rekindling their fairy tale romance are dashed when a discovery about his past severs their fragile relationship. Confused and alone, Sarah throws herself into her mission at the castle, though the fearsome solitude of the stonework prison causes her to seek out an unlikely ally. Damien Lisandro is a dashing Spaniard who brightens her dull world with his kindness and disarming charm. But as Sarah draws closer to him and to the faceless killer in their midst, she realizes that the severed threads of time and the mystery surrounding Serimone Castle are unraveling rapidly, weaving new tapestries of devastation. When a counterfeit Shadow tragically claims the life of someone Sarah cares for, and with Damien running from a dark past and secrets of his own, she wonders whom she can trust. Knowing the murders are connected, Sarah scrambles to uncover the identity of the impostor on her own. But as more lives are lost in her personal crusade, she questions how far she is willing to go to bring the guilty party to justice. Sarah is forced into harm's way countless times as she races to solve the puzzle before it is too late and Serimone becomes nothing more than a faded memory of the past. . . And before Sarah herself becomes a permanent fixture in history.





Enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of Chasing Shadows by Ashley Townsend AND a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Giveaway is open to the US and ends 4/3.

How to enter: Sign into the Giveaway Tools form below (it might take a moment to load) and submit each entry you complete. Commenting alone will not get you entered – you must click enter on the form. Happy entering!



Open only to those who can legally enter. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Giveaway Tools and announced here as well as emailed and will have up to one week to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Giveaway Tools or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. I am not responsible for any packages lost or damaged in the mail. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

33 comments:

  1. I love the setting of this book. It seems so romantic, and yet, I think if I lived in it, the odors would be horrid. Can you imagine the lack of sanitation and no deodorant? Shudder. And shampoo. And daily baths... Sigh. I think I'm too modern (o:

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  2. Sounds like a fantastic action packed book! I love the cover and description. I think we all dream of doing something great to change history. Time travel seems to be that fantasy of living anytime anywhere. It's great to have that imagination and sounds like you have used it in a very creative way that many will enjoy.

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  3. It's not always easy to choose gratitude, but certainly makes for a happier life! If we despair in every little thing that goes wrong or doesn't happen exactly like we think it should we can end up pretty miserable. And we all know how fun it is to be around people like that!
    Often our struggles lead to opportunities to serve and minister to others.

    pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  4. What an interesting book this sounds to be. Very different then what I have been reading. This book sounds just great. sonja dot nishimoto at gmail dot com

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  5. A little time travel? certainly makes things interesting.. Kings & castles, count me in!

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  6. I wanted to be a writer too! I participated in NaNoWriMo 2014, so we shall see :) I wrote a MG book that I am going to edit in the coming months. Your book sounds great!

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  7. Hi Ashley. Your post was very insightful and I think you will find it very freeing to not worry about if there is a point to everything, but to simply trust that God has a plan for you and your writing.

    Your book sounds really good. I enjoy time travel stories. I do have a question, though. I have not read book one. Should I read book one first, or does this one stand alone without it?

    Thanks,
    Brittany McEuen

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    1. Hi Brittany!
      Thank you for taking an interest in the story! While Rising Shadows does set the backdrop for the trilogy, you can honestly just jump right into Chasing Shadows; everything from the first book is explained, and I really don't think that there would be any confusion. I even recommend starting with Chasing Shadows, if you like, because then you can dive right into the action and go back and read Rising Shadows.

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  8. I can certainly empathize with your struggle getting the second book published. Congratulations on sticking to it and getting it done.

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  9. Thank you for this post! I have not heard of this before. Heading to Amazon and adding it to my wish list. :)

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  10. This book sounds fantastic! Have to add it to my to-read list on Goodreads. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  11. I've read "Chasing Shadows," and I definitely recommend it! It is a really great time-travel novel, and the medieval era that it takes place during was really cool. A must read!

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  12. This is a book outside my comfort zone but one I think I might like. jnut1

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  13. Thanks for sharing your journey! This sounds like a really fun book.

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  14. Will be interested to read. Thanks.

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  15. Hi Ashley. I enjoyed this post. Always interesting when someone tell how GOD shows them what they are meant to do or be. I always enjoyed writing poems on the cards I mailed to people, but nothing big. And, when I was young girl I drew pictures of clothes. I did do that after I got married and made dresses for my baby daughter and I. And, made most of hers for a few years. I continued to sew through the years for my grandbabies, and made dresses for the sisters who sang and the two little flower girls, and the 6 year old who passed out the programs. Also have made several Ring Pillows. I made my baby boy's clothes in the first 2 years. Later made cute things like doll bunnies with clothes for the girls and boys, dressed appropriate to the sex. Also another time sewed dolls made from socks and matching dresses for each girl and doll. I loved sewing but never thought about making money from it. The wedding pillows might have been good, but just never thought of it. In fact what I thought of most was getting married and being a mother. So I married at 16 and had 4 children. I have 12 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren, so think I passed on that. But, I have never felt GOD's call for what my gift is supposed to be. I don't usually read time-travel but would like to try this one and have two teenage granddaughters who like that kind, so can share. glad you found the scripture you found. Thanks for the chance to be a winner. Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

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  16. I enjoyed reading this post. And, so right about choice. We can choose to be happy or sad. which trail we will take. To follow GOD or not. My first time to meet Ashley. Maxie > mac262@me.com <

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  17. I was so interested in reading about your writing journey, being a writer myself. :) Thanks for sharing!!!

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  18. It was so neat to read about your writing journey!! Thanks for sharing and being translucent! :)

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  19. Ashley, Chasing Shadows, sounds like a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. It was great reading that you knew you were going to be a writer at a young age!

    I also knew at a young age what I was going to do with my life; I was going to play the piano for church! I started playing at 5 and I have been playing for church for more years than I care to admit! lol

    Thanks for sharing this giveaway. I'm excited to think I could win!! :-)

    teresasmathews(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

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  20. I'm not always a huge fan of time travel, but the plot of Chasing Shadows sounds intriguing! However, I haven't read book one -- could this work as a standalone, or should I get my hands on a copy of Rising Shadows before I read it?

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    1. Hi Serena!
      Thanks so much for taking an interest in the story! While I always prefer to begin a series with Book I, you can honestly just jump right into Chasing Shadows; everything from the first book is explained, and I really don't think that there would be any confusion. I even recommend starting with Chasing Shadows, if you like, because then you can dive right into the action and go back and read Rising Shadows later on. It might even make it more juicy. ;-)

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  21. This was the most beautiful and inspiring post about writing and trying to follow God's plan in our writing etc. that I have read in a very long time. Thanks so much for this! So uplifting...

    Also can I just say that Chasing Shadows has a GORGEOUS cover and a very intriguing plot! (Though I am sometimes wary of timetravel and love-triangles, just because I'm not sure if things can always turn out as happily as I want! ;)) But lots else about it (and the first one) sound super awesome! :D Especially masked-men vigilantes who are my favorite! ^_^

    Thanks again for such an inspiring post and awesome giveaway, and your books look stupendous! :)

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  22. This sounds like an amazing book...thanks for the giveaway!

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  23. Beautiful post! I'm not a writer, but if I was I would want to be like the Great Storyteller too! :)

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  24. How wonderful that you are chasing your dream on your own terms. I hope that the market is there for your books, I can't imagine why not--look at Orson Scott Card, for example. Best of luck with your writing.

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  25. it sounds like nothing ive ever read which i like. i enjoyed reading your experience with writing and glad you kept going!

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  26. This sounds really interesting, I love the everything is a choice declaration that you made. That is both the beauty and the bane of free will. I can't wait to read you books, I just added them to my good reads list. Keep up the writing, I can't wait to see where else the story goes.

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  27. This is a wonderful website and I love reading Christian books; fiction and nonfiction

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  28. I'll be honest...I almost didn't read this because it was so long, but I am SOOOO glad that I did. Ashley's story was such a blessing to me and I can relate to most of what she shared. There were several moments that made me pause and chew on what she said a bit before I moved on. I particularly loved the part where you said that God hadn't made you for no reason but for a specific reason and He's leading you that way.
    In my personal writing journey, I came to a place where I really struggled. In fact, our struggles, inwardly, were the same. I didn't think I would ever get my book published. I was going over the lesson for Sunday School class (a lesson that I wasn't supposed to have to teach but at the last minute was asked to fill in!!) The verse that spoke to me that night was Act 5:38-40. "For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God. His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged." There were a couple things that God taught me here. If my work is from God then it can not be stopped. Oh, it felt like it was being stopped from every angle. But God promises here that if He's behind it that it WILL succeed. My success may not look like what I imagined and it may not be in the timing of my choosing but it will happen. It's a promise. Also, I couldn't help but notice that, although, God's purpose could not be stopped, it didn't prevent God's servants from taking the beating. And likewise, I would take a beating, but I always went back to the verse to remind myself that God's will can not be stopped. Ever.
    Thanks for sharing your story, Ashley! And thanks for sharing her work, Melanie!

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  29. This sounds like an interesting and unique book. I like that it combines elements of romance and mystery/suspense. I think I would really enjoy reading it. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  30. Sounds like an adventure not to be missed! Thank you for sharing with us, Melanie..:)

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  31. This book sounds intriguing! I think my 12 year old might like it too!

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Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8