Coffee & Cats: Episode 5

18 Sep

Announcements:

AEC Stellar Publishing has signed a cover artist for Death Before Daylight, and if you’ve been following my progress bar on the right side of my website, then you know I’ve hit 60,000 words in the content edits. (Eeeee!)

The Timely Death Trilogy is still moving forward! And, today, The Other Side of Paradise reviewed, book 2, Seconds Before Sunrise: “Jess and Eric’s love was ever so prevalent and I became obsessed. I felt an emotional pull and fell in love with the couple’s journey. I’m not even ashamed to say that I shed a few tears. Believe me, you will become a part of this book. It is an epic story with unforgettable characters and moments that make you hold your breath.” Read her full review here, but it does include the ending of book 1, Minutes Before Sunset.

Speaking of book 1, Written Art reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, and you can read the full review by clicking here, but here’s a small excerpt, “Just enough romance mixed with danger to make me look forward to the next book in the trilogy.”

Thank you to all the wonderful readers who take the time to read and post their reviews up! I truly appreciate it. :D

Coffee & Cats: Episode 5

The day has come. After four Fridays, you have voted for your favorite poems on my Wattpad, and today, you can watch a reading of the winning poem – To the thunderstorm I used to love – but that’s not all. Below the video, I have explanations and short stories for each poem that I released as well as a link to the writings in case you missed them. I know it’s rather taboo to explain your poems, but – what can I say? – I am a taboo, so check out the behind-the-scenes if you want. (Just to clarify, even if you read what the meaning was for me, please allow the poem to still have the meaning you read it as.) I hope this also allows everyone to get to know me as a person better because most of my poems are based very much in reality.

This month – I thanked Marcia_94 for voting – and you can be mentioned next month. Just remember to vote, comment, and share every Friday when I release a new poem.

To the thunderstorm I used to love,

Opening line: you pounded me, beat the windows with your fists,

This poem is more literal than what readers would probably think. I wrote it during a thunderstorm because – to be quite frank – I have damage in my back from various car wrecks, and I’m in severe pain during rainstorms. I own a conversion table, which helps, but I still get very sad and angry during the rain, because I also love the rain, so rain and I have a hate-love relationship. I first fell in love with the rain when I lived in Georgia, but I truly did try to save butterflies from thunderstorms, and yes – they did suffocate in the cages I put them in. (I was seven. Give me a break.) But that doesn’t mean this poem doesn’t have other meanings for me. It does. But even I have meanings behind particular writings that I don’t feel comfortable sharing, and this is one of those instances.

Fukushima Daiichi

Opening line: You told us about the samurai crabs that day,

You might recognize the title, but you might not, so I would first like to clarify that Fukushima Daiichi is the nuclear power plant that had a meltdown in 2011 after a tsunami hit Japan. I was, in fact, in a Japanese history class that semester, and the day after the meltdown, my professor attempted to recruit students to go over and help. But no one signed up. And he seemed very upset over the whole ordeal. That being said, I referred to him as my “Kasa Professor” because he used to wear one of the traditional hats, and the story of the samurai crabs is actually a real legend he told us about that day, but no – no one pulled out a blunt and smoked in the middle of a lecture.

The French (History) Teacher

Opening line: You’re not actually French. You just brought in a French textbook,

This one almost won. It only lost by one comment. That being said, this is an exaggerated version of two stories mixed together. I was in high school, and I was enrolled in AP European History. My teacher collected old World War I memorabilia, and he mentioned that he would’ve loved to bring in an old gun to show us for educational purposes (it was broken, of course) and he tried to get permission to show it to us, but the school didn’t allow it. He did bring in a gas mask, and he did let us put it on, but he also tried to bring in an old history book from France, but the office wouldn’t allow that either, so he simply told us about it. After that, I was in psychology class, and we viewed a video from France that asked various citizens about World War II, and a few really did say that it hadn’t happened, so I mixed those two moments together and added a bit of Bogart. I do want to thank Antonin Tabard, my friend from France, for being so encouraging of this poem.

How She Loved Me

Opening line: After she broke her neck, the diagnosis advised her to

Again, a true story. When I was living in Georgia, my mother broke her neck in a car wreck. Yes, you can live through a broken neck, but she had to get three vertebrae fused together, and the surgery was really hard on her. This is actually one of the main reasons she was on the painkillers that later killed her. She wasn’t able to do much – like go on rollercoasters – but she took me once anyway, and it is honestly one of my fondest memories of her. I was also huge into gymnastics, and she showed me a few tricks on the trampolines. Again, despite her injuries. Of course, she shouldn’t have done this, and it’s controversial for me to say how thankful I am that she did anyway. But those are the moments I saw her laugh, and those are the few times that she truly seemed alive. Now that she’s gone, I love those memories even more. Even though I had two moments with her, they are precious instances.

I hope you enjoyed the short explanations as both an opportunity to see behind-the-scenes and maybe a way to get to know me a little bit better! I look forward to sharing more poems every Friday on my Wattpad page, and I cannot wait to create another post like this next month.

Happy reading,

~SAT

Authors Don’t Read – a guest post

16 Sep

Announcements: 

Shannon, here, for one quick announcement and an introduction before we start today’s post.

My latest interview came in, and you can read it by visiting Bonnie Brown’s Book Reviews. I talk about why magic can happen in even the smallest of towns (hence why The Timely Death Trilogy is set in Hayworth, Kansas). Speaking of the trilogy, Read Watch and Think reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise, and you can read her full review by clicking here. Find out why she called it a “must read.”

But today is all about T.B. Markinson – an author, a blogger, and all-around good person, I was very excited when she offered to write a guest blog post for ShannonAThompson.com. Below, you will read about a difficult lesson she had to learn about reading and writing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Authors Don’t Read – a guest post

Thanks, Shannon, for letting me take over your blog for a day. It’s a great honor to be here.

When I was a teenager I super excited to hear one of my favorite authors speak. During the Q and A session a fan asked her (I won’t name the author since she still writes and I would like to avoid a lawsuit) what book she was currently reading. Her answer stunned me. She said she didn’t read since she felt getting absorbed into someone else’s story wasn’t good for her writing and productivity. Then she blamed us by stating her fans would be irate if she read too much instead of writing. This ticked me off. I was a fan and I wasn’t discouraging her from reading. In fact, I’ve never discouraged anyone from reading. I left that night disillusioned and heartbroken.

How could it be that one of the authors I looked up to didn’t read any books? I never thought of that possibility before. The more I thought about it, the more frustrated I became. Was she implying that if I wanted to be a writer I had to give up reading? Did I have to sacrifice one of the things I loved most for my craft?

Like most teens, I was stubborn and a know-it-all. I didn’t give up reading, but I will admit her confession stayed in the back of my mind for years. Since then I have learned that this particular author is in the minority. Most authors read and advocate reading to hone their craft. When I read Stephen King’s On Writing I was greatly relieved when I came across this line “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

What a relief! Even though I never stopped reading I had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t completely committed to writing. That I would never really succeed until I made the ultimate sacrifice: never read another book. This may sound dramatic to some. I think booklovers will understand.

My advice to all of you if you experience something like this is don’t always believe what you hear even if it comes from someone you respect and admire. Ask others their opinions. And please don’t let someone discourage you or plant seeds of doubt in your head.

About the Author: TwitterFacebookBlogGoodreadsAmazon Author Page

T.B. Markinson is a 40-year old American writer, living in England, who pledged she would publish before she was 35. Better late than never. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling around the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in England, or taking the dog for a walk. Not necessarily in that order. T. B. has published A Woman Lost, Marionette, and Confessions From A Coffee Shop.

Sign up to TB’s New Release Mailing List here. Your email will never be shared and you will only be contacted when a new book is out.

Confessions_CoverBook Blurb:

Cori Tisdale was on top of the world. A basketball star at Harvard and a promising author with a lucrative book deal.

A few years later, Cori’s life is falling apart. Her beautiful girlfriend, Kat Finn, has a shopping addiction. To make ends meet, Cori takes a part-time job at a coffee shop.

Just when Cori thinks her life can’t get any worse, an old crush appears out of the blue. Cori’s friendship with Samantha Clarke pushes Cori further into a dangerous abyss when Sam reveals two secrets to Cori and asks her not to tell a soul, including Kat.

Will this be the end of Cori’s and Kat’s relationship?

Purchase Links: Amazon (US) Amazon (UK)

Hope you enjoyed T.B. Markinson’s guest post today! Connect away. She’s an amazing author.

~SAT

My Love Story: Poetry Edition

14 Sep

Announcements: 

Bonnie Brown’s Book Reviews posted her thoughts on Minutes Before Sunset, stating, “This was a book I slowly fell in love with. When I first picked it up, I wasn’t instantly hooked on it but as the pages ticked by I realized I was falling further and further in love with the story and characters. Until it became one of those books that you think, ‘okay, just a few more pages before work…….’. Then you look up at the clock and realize your already supposed to be at work and your still in your jammies… reading the book…~Oops~It’s one of those books.” But you can read more of her love story by clicking here.

My Love Story: Poetry Edition

I’ve been receiving a handful of messages and emails about my interactive poetry series on Wattpad, so I thought I would address my poems a little bit more today. But – first – I am so grateful that you’re enjoying my latest endeavor, and I look forward to sharing more in the near future. Many of you have asked me about my poetry – mainly regarding my voice and subject matter – and I am here to announce one thing: I will be explaining the poems during my YouTube posts, and you can expect the first post later this week. That being said, today I’m telling a story. (Because I’m still a story-teller) and that story is my love story with poetry.

When we met:

Strangely enough, it was a college breakup that brought us together. My brief breakup with fiction writing. It was the second semester of my freshman year, but during my previous semester at KU, I had taken a fiction-writing course that I was extremely dissatisfied with. So dissatisfied that I decided to reject studying fiction altogether. I was only comfortable with this because I felt like I knew enough about fiction that I could study it on my own. So I turned my attention to genres I wasn’t familiar with. I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone, and I signed up for poetry. (I would later return to studying fiction and also screenwriting as well.)

Our first date:

Oddly enough, it wasn’t in the classroom. It was outside of the classroom. Over winter break, I had picked up a few poetry books, and I was reading “Sailing Around an Open Room” by Billy Collins on one of my favorite benches in the Wescoe building. That’s when a class was released, and a woman ran up to me only to sit down SUPER close to me. (If you know me, I’m not a very touchy person, so this sort of scared me.) It turned out she was a poetry professor, and she was hoping I had signed up for her class. I hadn’t. I had signed up for another class because it worked with my schedule. She was disappointed but very glad that I was studying poetry. Her smile was the first moment I started to feel less nervous about it.

How we held hands:

Poetry Writing I by poet Megan Kaminski was the course I took, and she was kind and thoughtful and encouraging and never scary. And that was perfect because I was still sort of terrified. I had never written a poem in my life, and Kaminski promised she was okay with that. I found out that there were quite a few students in the classroom like me, and I still wonder if they giggle at our first poems as much as I giggle at mine. (I also shudder.) But we started reading poetry, and we started talking about poetry, and we started writing poetry, and we discovered so much about one another.

Oh, yes, we kissed:

I wish I could remember if it was snowing that day, but all I remember is how the poem affected my insides. It was “Sleeping with the Dictionary” by Harryette Mullen that got me. And if you read the poem, you will understand what I mean when I say I was “Aroused by myriad possibilities” that poetry gave, and I wanted to explore them as much as I could.

picture from incite faith.com

picture from incite faith.com

And soon, we fell in love:

Somewhere in that exploring I fell in love. I like to say “we” but I have yet to understand whether or not poetry can love one back. Still, I stayed, and I took more courses after that. I even attended Poetry Writing II twice. (Thank goodness KU counted both of them as credits.) And I was able to meet C.A. Conrad and talk to Evie Shockley and my class had lunch with two other poets we read about and my teacher was a poet and it was wonderful. Everything was wonderful.

Kristine

Kristine and I on her 20th birthday.

But it broke my heart:

If you’ve been with me since the beginning, then, you will remember this post – Inspiration Meet: Kristine Andersen – On October 7, 2012, my college roommate, Kristine Andersen, passed away, but you might not have known that we had taken our first class together that semester. It was my senior year, and she had just switched over to an English major, and I was helping her with her writing when she decided to join one of my poetry classes. We sat right next to each other in class, but after she died, I was terrified – so terrified – of returning to that poetry class.

And I had to heal my heart:

When I finally found the strength to return to school, I will never forget how my class still placed her chair in the circle after she died. Her chair remained there. And we continued to learn, and we continued to write, and our poetry was published later that semester in Kristine’s name, and the collection sits on my desk, and I think about her a lot – her writing and her life – and I try not to remember that this October will be two years since she passed, but I make myself remember because that is how we cope – by facing it. By writing about it. By feeling it once again. So I write a poem.

Eventually, I loved again:

I write many poems now, but it has only been recently that I have begun sharing them openly. I believe “Regretful Memories” being accepted by LALUNA Magazine has given me the additional strength and support that I needed, but this website has also given me love and courage. Writing is a journey, and we’re always learning and exploring new possibilities in order to channel our passion so we can share it fully with the world.

Poetry is one of the many ways I hope to help the world with because poetry has helped my world.

I think that is why I call it love.

~SAT

Pros and Cons of an Author Blog

12 Sep

Announcements:

It’s Friday, so you know what that means: it’s also Poetry Friday! In case you missed it, I’ve uploaded a new poem to my interactive poetry series on Wattpad – How She Loved Me. This is also the last one of this particular set. Depending on your vote, one of the four will be read on my YouTube channel, so check them out before it’s too late by clicking here.

But – in other news – two fantastic readers sent me book reviews, and my latest interview was posted, so here we here:

Tranquil Dreams wrote, “Take Me Tomorrow is absolutely impressive. It’s engaging, intriguing and is an absolute page-turner.  I took every single second opportunity to resume reading whenever I could because I just couldn’t wait to see what happen next with Sophia and Noah as the story unfolded.” But you can read her entire review by clicking here.

For The Timely Death Trilogy fans, Read Watch and Think reviewed Minutes Before Sunset: “Do not skip over this book thinking that it is another paranormal romance, if you want to read a quick, interesting plot with a whole new captivating world of shades and light. The core of the story may be romance but the book is not all about it and that makes it worthy enough for me.” Her full review can be found here.

But you can also read my latest interview at Into the Written World. I mainly speak about Take Me Tomorrow, including information on the possible sequel, but I also discussed my passion for writing and reading, so be sure to check it out by clicking the link above.

Whew! Thank you for reading today’s news. Onto today’s post:

Pros and Cons of an Author Blog

On September 25, it will be my two-year anniversary of blogging here. Over time, I have blogged about many topics, but I mainly focus on writing and reading. Because of that, I have received many questions about my decisions regarding blogging. Ex/ how do you choose what to write about, do you think it’s a good platform for selling books, how did you get 17,000 followers, what do you recommend I do? All fantastic questions. (And one of the main reasons I write Ketchup posts and provide a social media assessment through the Author Extension Community.) But today I wanted to share some of those pretty pros and pesky cons for all those that are curious about how blogging can be uplifting but also a stressful adventure – one that I will gladly continue.

Pro: You can share your thoughts

That is the point of blogging, isn’t it? Having a blog is almost like having a public diary, one that includes carefully thought-out posts (instead of emotional ranting about personal topics). Even better, we can connect with others who share the same opinion or be challenged by those who do not. It opens streams of thought from one person to another, even people the entire way across the world. How amazing is that? On top of that, you are cataloging it over time, and in the future, you will be able to go back and see what you were thinking, how you changed, and where you began friendships with readers and fellow bloggers. This is when you realize blogging is beyond blogging. It’s family-building.

Con: People may not enjoy your thoughts, and they might be really mean about it.

This is also a reference to the ever-illusive-but-always-present trolls. I like to believe that I’m fairly open-minded. I don’t mind if someone disagrees with me or a commenter, but the second name-calling or some other form of incredible immaturity happens, I delete it. (You’d be surprised to know how many times this has happened.) Call it censorship. Call it what you want. But I don’t want my blog to be a place people reference when they talk about online bullying and harassment. This means that I take an extra fifteen minutes to monitor my comments so I can guarantee a safe and happy place for everyone to come to without worry, but it was very disheartening to experience it the first few times it happened. Now, my shell is tougher, and my group of readers are (probably) happier – even if no one knows it since I delete all the evidence of my troll-destroying.

Original image from ms. ileane speaks: October 2012

Original image from ms. ileane speaks: October 2012

Pro: You connect with supporters

Everyone always says that writers have blogs to sell books, but that’s bullshit. (Excuse my French.) It’s not to sell books. It is to connect with people. It is not to connect with potential fans of your novels. It is to connect with potential supports of you. (So you can support them, too, of course.) For instance, one of my readers might HATE paranormal romance, but they may have a cousin who loves it, and since we talk, they might tell their cousin about me, but no one is obligated. I don’t expect anyone to do anything at all. I’m simply glad that my reader is here, and I’m grateful for every discussion we share, whether or not it is about my books. In fact, I had this blog long before I ever spoke to my publisher, let alone had a contract, but – Ultimately, I blog because I love to blog, and I love people, and I love blogging with people and for people. It is my other passion. It is a part of me. It is even permanently on my iCalendar. In case you’re curious, my website notes are in orange.

Con: You connect with haters

Ugh. Trolls.

Pros: You created an enjoyable platform

Again, I must repeat myself – writers don’t blog every other day because they want to sell books. Writers blog because they like writing, and blogging is another form of writing. It’s an easy way to express ourselves and connect with others who are interested in sharing their thoughts. Of course, I’m not trying to speak for every writer out there, but writing novels can (sometimes) feel like work, so blogging can be a nice way to take a break but still be involved with everything. That being said, if someone is wondering about starting one for platform purposes, I do recommend writers try it, but I don’t think it’s the end-all-be-all of an author’s social media. It is just one way to tackle it. And my final advice is this: readers can tell if an author isn’t enjoying writing a novel in the same way they can tell if a blogging doesn’t care about their post. Blog if you love it. If you don’t, find another social media venue to try. You can find one you love, and it will work. Just trust that passionate gut of yours to guide you.

Pros: A never-ending array of topics await

There is so much to talk about! Like, so much. And this is coming from someone who strictly focuses on anything to do with writing and reading.

Cons: A never-ending array of topics await

But sometimes, I feel like there are so many things to talk about I cannot decide what to speak about next. This can be overwhelming, and there are other parts that can be overwhelming, too. The amount of time that goes into every blog post builds up, and reflecting on it can be…well…exhausting. But so can novel-writing. So it’s easy to remind myself of my love for it (which might be why I wrote this specific post in the first place).

On September 25, it will be my two-year anniversary of blogging here, and I love it more and more every day. I want to thank all of you for following me. Every time you read, comment, and share, I smile with gratitude, which is why I add this.

You are my biggest pro.

What are your pros and cons of blogging? Share your thoughts below,

~SAT

Writing Tips: Food in Fiction

10 Sep

Announcements:

Read Watch and Think read Take Me Tomorrow and asked, “Why do I have a feeling that the author hates the fragile nature of my brain?” She reviewed my latest novel by stating, “I have a feeling that there should be a sequel. (In case there in no sequel planned, the author can totally expect me to camp outside her house till she writes me one….either that or she decided to calls the cops or unleash her dog to get me off her property.” And you can read the entire review by clicking here or check out my latest novel by clicking here.

Into the Written Word also reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, recommending to it to anyone who enjoys dystopian novels with cliffhangers (and action!) Click here to read everything, including why they want a sequel, but this is where Shannon reminds everyone that a sequel is up to the readers sharing, reviewing, and spreading the word about Take Me Tomorrow.

Minutes Before Sunset was featured on Underrated Books by Confessions of a Book Geek! You can check the full list of books by clicking here, but here’s a quote from her explanation, “I really enjoyed this action-packed, paranormal story (with a difference) and I’m looking forward to reading the whole trilogy.” Thank you, Book Geek!

Writing Tips: Food in Fiction

55365451.jpgI love food. I love it so much that I often feel like Usagi in the 90’s Sailor Moon. Black cat and all. But this post isn’t about my obsession with my favorite manga. It is about food in fiction and how it can shape characters, settings, and more. (What?) Yes. Believe it or not, food can be that important.

So, grab a snack so we can start chatting! (Nom-nom-nom)

How can food shape characters?

Think about your favorite foods. (Spaghetti? Cherry turnovers?) Consider your favorite type of food. (Chinese? Mexican?) Now, think about why, and go beyond “I just like it.” Are there memories associated with these foods? My mom used to always cook lasagna, and my dad still talks about it over a decade later. I always have a coffee in the morning, but my favorite breakfast is bagels, and for about a year in my childhood, all I ate was bagels. (No exaggeration.) My brother loves Goldfish.

These little quirks can do a lot for a character. Not only can it show one character’s preferences, but it can also bring characters together. In Minutes Before Sunset, Crystal and Jessica have a “girl’s night” with peanut butter and chocolate. I put quotes around girl’s night because Robb is there, too. But food went beyond that in the trilogy when Eric obsesses over his stepmother’s lemon cakes. Even though he struggles to talk to her, her cooking gives him an excuse to approach a mutual moment of discussion. So – if you can’t find another way for two to come together – consider bringing your characters together over food. It happens in society all the time.

If you need another reason to consider food for a character, it can just be funny. For instance, I HATE spicy food. If there’s even a slight pinch of pepper on anything, I lose control of my face. It’s not cute. But it might be a good excuse for comedic relief.

All of this food has been seen in The Timely Death Trilogy

All of this food has been seen in The Timely Death Trilogy

How can food affect a setting?

Oh, in so many ways.

Think about how food changes from one table to another, from one day to another. Heavier foods might insinuate colder weather outside or fancier foods could mean they’re celebrating a holiday or a birthday. Certain food might show cultural differences from one character to another. But you can take even further.

If you’re super detail-oriented, it might be a good idea to Google how a character refers to a soft drink based on the setting. Is it soda, pop, or Coke? Names can shift over various areas and time. It might be something to consider, but that’s not all! (What? There’s more?) Yes. There always is.

If you’re writing science-fiction or fantasy, throw in a new food or consider renaming a food we eat today. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just have fun with it! You could even create traditions around food. (Like how the U.S. celebrates Thanksgiving with a turkey.)

Food in fiction is fun, but it is also important.

Don’t be afraid to explore possibilities (or the kitchen) for your characters. After all, we want characters to be as realistic as possible, and real people need to eat if they are to maintain healthy and energetic lives. Who can be a superhero with an empty stomach? Speaking of which, I am starving now that I’ve written this. I’m off to eat my midnight snack, but I look forward to reading your thoughts about food in fiction. Comment below!

~SAT

10 Cry-Worthy Books From My College Years

8 Sep

Announcements: 

Take Me Tomorrow now has a book trailer, which I hope you’ll take a minute to watch, like, and share before you read today’s post! Thank you.

10 Cry-Worthy Books From My College Years

After I wrote Books That Changed My Childhood, I received a few emails asking me about my other novels, so I am going to continue sharing different types of reads that have affected my life. I’m also adding my favorite quotes! I’ll be honest. I started writing a list of novels that affected my high school years, but it got out of control, so I moved onto my college time only to realize most of the books did, in fact, make me cry.

Yes. That was a warning.

Most – if not all of these – made me cry. And if you’ve never cried at a novel, I recommend these because everyone should cry at a novel at least once in their reading lives.

cry

1. The Art of Racing the Rain by Garth Stein – Yes, this novel is told from a dog’s perspective. And yes, you can take a dog seriously. (If you think you can’t, trust me when I say you must read this book.) A friend recommended this novel to me, and I was hesitant when I picked it up in the bookstore. To my surprise, I read it in one sitting, even when my vision got blurry.

“Here’s why I will be a good person. Because I listen. I cannot talk, so I listen very well.”

2. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – If you’ve ever though that first-person can’t be taken seriously, then, Ishiguro is here to prove you wrong. There are no other words to describe his prose in this novel. You will begin at childhood and grow into an adult, just like you did in real life. It will remind me of how you learned in life, and it will tear you apart.

“All children have to be deceived if they are to grow up without trauma.”

3. The Unmemntioable by Erin Moure – Arguably one my favorite poetry collections if not my favorite. (I can never decide which one is my favorite.) I first read this in my poetry class at the University of Kansas, and I have continued to read it over and over ever since. The exploration of language, history, relationships, and identity is more than enough to cause emotional reflections.

“When there was no one left, it became nowhere. There were no more letters after the w.”

4. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang – Cry-worthy? Debatable. But the emotions are just as strong. The awe could possibly bring tears to your eyes. They sure choked me up. But I mainly added this because it’s the perfect example of a graphic novel that proves all graphic novels can be taken seriously.

“It’s easy to become anything you wish . . . so long as you’re willing to forfeit your soul.”

5. When The Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka – This novel has never left me, perhaps because Otsuka never gives names to her characters. She forces you to become them, delicately and masterfully, before she explores Japanese concentration camps in the United States. This is one of those stories I lent out to someone and deeply regretted it when I didn’t get it back. I will have this book on my shelf again one day.

“He wondered if you could see the same moon in Lordsburg, or London, or even China, where all the men wore little black slippers, and he decided that you could, depending on the clouds. ‘Same moon,’ he whispered to himself, ‘same moon.'”

 6. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat – Not for the light-hearted. I first read this memoir after the earthquake in Haiti. I wish I could say more about it, but I fear that I would take away from the exploration of culture and identity if I did.

“Love is like the rain. It comes in a drizzle sometimes. Then it starts pouring, and if you’re not careful, it will drown you.”

 7. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah – Again, not for the light-hearted. This is a memoir of a child solider, and it is also one of my favorite books. Right when you think you can handle his prose, he reminds you of his age, and you are torn apart, but you keep reading because his voice coaxes you to.

“We must strive to be like the moon.”

 8. One Day by David Nicholls – Maybe the emotions in this novel are a little too close to reality? Meet Dex and Em, two friends who continue to meet on the same day every year for…oh, you know, their whole lives. A definite reminder of how time passes, how much can happen, and how we change because of it all.

“You can live your whole life not realizing that what you’re looking for is right in front of you.”

9. Aimless Love by Billy Collins – Another poetry collection, but this is technically a few of his collections together. If you’re hesitant about poetry, I definitely recommend Collins because he is easy to slip into but complicated over time. You might not cry, but you might have to take a moment to feel like crying after reading a few of his poems.

“No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted

out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.”

 10. On the Road by Jack Kerouac – Yes. I just admitted this. I cried when I read On the Road. I’m not sure why since it’s not necessarily a “sad” novel, but it was for me. The exploration and exploitation of Dean really brought the sadness out in me. I would get more into detail about how I feel about Dean and the other characters – which were definitely based off of real people – but I don’t want to spoil the story. On the Road is more than just a recount of drugs and sex in the Beat Generation. It’s forcing life when faced with living like you’re already dead.

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

Oh, just an extra. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. I only debated this novel because I technically read it when I was fourteen, but I reread it later on, and I cried. Again. And at the theatre when I saw the adaptation. And when I got home and read it again. And again when I forced my friend to watch the movie.

I don’t purposely read novels that are turned into movies, but it might be interesting to note that these are also movie adaptations now: Never Let Me Go (I cried) and One Day (I almost cried.) On the Road (Okay. So I didn’t cry at this one. But the feels!)

So what novels or poems have brought tears to your eyes? Why? Share them below, and let’s have a cry fest! (A happy, artistic one, of course.) I’ll bring the tissues.

~SAT

When Characters Say Too Much or Too Little

6 Sep

Announcements:

I have a couple announcements today. First, I would like to thank The Opinionated Woman’s Musings and Books for Fun for nominating ShannonAThompson.com for the Lovely Blog Award. I nominated six blogs on my Facebook page to keep it going!

In other news, P.S. Bartlett interviewed me, and we discussed my writing process as well as how my works differ from other words in my genres. Check it out by clicking here. I also did another interview with The Examiner, but I will be talking about that today. So let’s get to chatting!

… 

When Characters Say Too Much or Too Little

This is actually inspired from one of my latest interviews. If you haven’t had a chance to read my interview with The Examiner, here is the link, but in case the link doesn’t work, we spoke about topics in Take Me Tomorrow that I didn’t write about in great detail despite the fact that it is a huge factor to the setting, time, and lives of my characters. If you’ve read even the back cover of Take Me Tomorrow, you know there was a massacre prior to the story taking place. After the massacre, the State – a.k.a. the government body – enforced stricter rules on the citizens to prevent another violent uprising. That being said, Take Me Tomorrow is told from one perspective – a 16-year-old girl named Sophia Gray – and she doesn’t get into much detail about the massacre. The Examiner asked me why, and I explained in our interview:

‘I wanted to show more information on the massacre, but Sophia was very young and still is when the novel takes place, so it didn’t come naturally,’ Thompson says. ‘I thought about 9/11 when I considered the event. I was 10 when that happened, and it took me many years to finally grasp it or understand the importance of the event, but I definitely didn’t understand it when it happened. So I took that approach with Sophia.’

I would also like to add that if a sequel is published – which is up to the readers – the massacre as well as many other questions will be answered, but in terms of Take Me Tomorrow, readers are right. I didn’t explain it in great detail. But there was a reason behind my decision as well as many other decisions I made, particularly with Noah telling the story. Although he did in the original version, I had to cut his voice, because of many reasons – the main one being that it isn’t his story. It’s Sophia’s – but the secondary reasons revolve around his character. (Spoiler alert) When he’s on drugs, his voice makes no sense, and when he’s sober, he tells way too much information. Like way too much. Like the ending too much. Mainly because he can see into the future. But that’s another aspect entirely.

So where am I going with this?

Authors are often struggling with characters. We love them, but the characters – not the author – are in charge, which means they make decisions we don’t like, but we ultimately accept them because they are the ones telling the story. There are four instances that authors deal with in terms of characters, and those four things are listed below.

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Sometimes characters don’t want to talk

I’ve mainly had this problem with my dual-perspective novels. I’ll wait for the boy to talk only to realize he is just not interested, and then, I realize I am going to have to write the entire novel from one perspective. But – eventually – he pops up, and then, I have to go back and add him later. Worst case scenario, they never talk at all, and I struggle to find a way to get around it or to coax them out. But I’m sure many authors have dealt with this, even labeling it writer’s block. I like to call it character’s block – because it’s them, not me – and I wait patiently for them to get over whatever is blocking them. Yes, I realize these are people in my head, but trust me when I say – sometimes – they won’t even talk to me.

Sometimes characters want to talk too much

This is when authors start screaming, “Shut up! Just. Shut. Up. You cannot tell everyone who the murderer is on the first page. Idiot. Then, we don’t have a story.” It happens. Oh, it happens. A character wants to give away everything the second they get a chance to speak. But it can be an easier problem to solve. A simple, “Hold back a little bit.” can solve everything, but it is still difficult when a character insists on exposing information an author wasn’t planning on telling until the end. Most of the time, I bite my lip, listen to the character, and hope they have a reason. They normally do. That being said, I have had to censor a character here and there for giving too much away too quickly. We need some suspense, after all.

Sometimes we (authors) force it

When I say “force” – for once – I don’t mean this as a bad thing. Sometimes, authors get lucky. We find spots that we can slide information in without having to destroy our character’s honesty in the process. I am referring to characters finding newspaper articles or television sets explaining certain events that characters might not understand. This helps because an “outside” source can explain what is happening without the character necessarily being involved. That being said, we don’t try to create these moments. If they happen naturally, fantastic, but we also don’t want to rely on these at every moment we are tempted to do so. (Because we are oh, so tempted.) But this can often lead to info-dumping or other uncomfortable circumstances if authors aren’t careful.

Other times we (authors) don’t force anything

This is what happened with me in Take Me Tomorrow. I could’ve forced information in, found a way to blame the information on the surroundings, but I realized many things when I contemplated that: The State wouldn’t leave documents of the massacre laying around for a 16-year-old girl to get her hands on. (That’s why the only info she does receive is from her father.) The news wouldn’t talk about it, and even if they did, Sophia spends too much time out in the woods to watch the news anyway. She might be oblivious to some of the political situations, but she is 16. Not only is she busy being 16, but she is busy surviving in her environment. Worrying about her dad, Lyn, Falo, and Argos is more important than understanding something that happened when she was 12, even if it was only a few years ago. I also had to keep in mind that she wasn’t directly affected by it at all in terms of her comfort zone (her family and friends.) If she had been, I would’ve been looking at a different situation. So I left it out because Sophia would leave it out. That being said, she is a different person at the end of the novel, and she might figure these things out in the sequel if it happens. But refocusing on not forcing it: sometimes characters need to be true to themselves, even if it is slightly destructive to the story. I don’t regret not having this information involved because I know that I was true to the circumstances, to Sophia, and to the world she lives in. And that isn’t destructive at all.

Sometimes authors have to make big decisions, but most of the time, characters do that for us. We just have to accept it and do the best we can do with their decisions.

Have you ever had these issues with a character? Experienced character’s block? Ever wondered why a character didn’t say something earlier on?

Talk about it below!

~SAT

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