Books That Changed My Childhood

27 Aug

Announcements:

First, I would like to thank Between the Lines for nominating ShannonAThompson.com for a collection of wonderful awards, but second, I would like to thank the two latest reviewers of Take Me Tomorrow:

 The Modest Verge wrote, “The characters in this novel are just as complex, and just as complicated as The Timely Death Trilogy so if you enjoyed those characters you will love these. These are not just normal teenagers thrust into the unknown. These teenagers know that life can be upset in a single heartbeat. They know that lives can be irrevocably changed by the decisions or mistakes of a single person. This book is an adventure and I loved every single minute of it.” But you can read her entire review by clicking here.

Death on the Road focused on the genre in their review, stating, “It had a lot of action, was fast paced, discussed very serious things and made my first brush with YA dystopian fiction a pleasant one.” But you can read the entire review by clicking here.

Remember to send me an email at shannonathompson@aol.com if you want me to share your review of Take Me Tomorrow right here on ShannonAThompson.com! If you want to check out the novel, click here. I would love to share your thoughts.

Books That Changed My Childhood:

This was actually inspired by Cassandra Clare’s video Books That Changed My Life. I started compiling a list when…well, like any avid reader would say, it got a little out of control, so I condensed it down to times in my life, and I thought it would be fun to show the books that changed my childhood. Why is this important? I’m a big believer in going backwards. For instance, if you’re a writer and struggling with writing, I think going backwards to a time where you only wrote for fun can help remind you why you love writing in the first place. (But that’s explained in my old post Sharing Childhood Inspiration.)

So I’m sharing my list by starting at the beginning and stopping around age 14. That being said, I definitely can’t share all of them. I am only sharing the first ones that pop into my head, and I think this list would change depending on my day (which I think is the neat part!) I hope you share your lists below, too. So check it out. :D

1. Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman – This is the first book I remember reading, but it’s also the first one I carried around…oh, just about everywhere. This might have been the first sign that I would be obsessed with books in the future.

 2. You Choose Stories: Scooby Doo Mystery – The amount of amazement I had for these was unreal. I could read and choose how the story went? I didn’t have to just read? Oh. My world changed. I loved reading these over and over and over again just to see how much one story could change from one event changing. This might have been the first sign that I wanted to be a writer.

3. Goosebumps by R.L. Stine – Oh, the delightful horror I had reading these books. These were actually bought for my older brother, but I had a habit of stealing his things, so I ended up reading these, too. And I’ve loved horror and scary stories ever since. I cannot wait for American Horror Story to begin.

4. Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene – I obsessed over these books. I loved the books, the computer games, and pretty much anything else associated with them.

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5. The BFG by Roald Dahl – Again, my brother had an influence on this one. It was one of his favorite novels, and he gave me his copy to read. I had a house bed, and I kept this book in my shutters for years, constantly trying to figure out what I loved about it. Maybe it was the bone-crunching.

6. Dear America series – I had an entire collection of these books. I was obsessed. I could learn about history and be entertained. This was a new concept to me when I was younger.

7. Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osbourne – It’s safe to say that Twister on Tuesday might have been the cause of my phobia when I was moving to Kansas.

8. Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix – I felt like this was the first middle grade fiction book that didn’t hold back.

9. 1-800-Where-R–You series by Meg Cabot – Wait. So a girl gets struck with lightning and can find missing people? That’s…different…and totally awesome! Meg Cabot’s books definitely changed my perspective on fiction, specifically paranormal fiction and how unique it could be. She also includes badass women in her young-adult books. Who couldn’t like that?

10. Daughters of the Moon by Lynne Ewing – I’ve mentioned it once, and I’ll mention it again. I loved this series growing up. It was about four girls (the daughters of the moon) kicking ass, and it also revolved around mythology. Not only did this book further my obsession with the paranormal but it also reminded me of my favorite childhood show, Sailor Moon, and it reaffirmed my love for the type of fiction I grew up with.

Oh, how I want to keep going, but I’m probably stopping around age 14. Maybe I’ll continue this list with the books that changed my life as I got older. It will definitely include 1984, but that’s for another post. For now, these are the top 10 childhood novels that came to mind, but what about yours? Did any books you read as a kid influence your reading decisions as an adult?

~SAT

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and Info

25 Aug

Announcements:

Endless Reading shared quotes from Take Me Tomorrow in her latest book review, stating, “Once the action starts it doesn’t stop. There are twists and turns that will keep the reader engaged.” Check out the full review by clicking here.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:

What Ya Readin’? nominated me for the Ice Bucket Challenge, so you can watch my video now, but I wanted to share some important information first.

From the ALS Association, “Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death.” The Ice Bucket Challenge is meant to bring awareness to ALS as well as encourage donations to the ALS Association. 

Donate here

Also, I nominate Raymond Vogel, Ryan Attard, and Amber Skye Forbes from AEC Stellar Publishing.

:]

~SAT

10 Types of People You Will See at Movie Adaptations

23 Aug

Announcements:

We hit 200 ratings on Goodreads! And today, I would like to thank two readers who posted reviews on their blogs.

Another Night of Reading reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, stating, “I recommend this book to anyone who likes dystopian novels that depart from what is now the Hunger Games/Divergent model. The heroine, Sophia, is a very ordinary, brave and strong girl who lives in a world that may be horrible to live in, but proves a very interesting setting for a story. I can only hope there will be a sequel.” But you can read her entire review by clicking here.

If you’re interested in reading the latest review of Minutes Before Sunset, Mel’s Shelves posted this, “This book held my attention from the beginning!” She gets into further detail, and you can read what she had to say about the paranormal romance by clicking here.

Thank you for continuing to read and share my novels. I always love to read your thoughts and feelings, so thank you for taking the time to post them.

10 Types of People You Will See at Movie Adaptations:

 Last night, I drove like a madwoman to the theatre to see the movie adaptation of If I Stay by Gayle Foreman. One of my favorite novels has officially become one of my favorite movie adaptations. (Thank you, book gods.) But it got me to thinking about movie adaptations, so I wanted to have a little fun by creating a list of people who attend movie adaptations.

1. The Die-hard Fan

They were born just to read this book, and their life is hitting a critical pinnacle of happiness at the theatre tonight. If the movie is horrible, their reading soul might be crushed forever…until they find their next favorite novel. Watch out. They will either cry at the horrible adaptation or cry at the beauty of the adaptation.

Favorite Line: I’ve read it four times…I mean, five, if you count the special addition version that included the film notes and the sequel preview in the back. You’ve read the sequel, right?

2. The Oblivious One

They did not know this movie was based on a book until the opening credits, and they ask questions throughout, such as but not limited to, “This was based on a movie? What is happening? I don’t get it. Who’s that? What is this even about?” Do not be mad at them. They might join the fandom soon.

Favorite Line: Where am I?

3. The Whisperer

This is usually two people – one is a die-hard and the other is an oblivious one. The diehard is whispering answers to the oblivious one.

Favorite Line: This part is really important so pay attention.

4. The Light Giver

Their cellphone is on. You can see it. But you almost can’t be mad because you know they aren’t texting. They are taking notes down for their blog or YouTube channel. You might even look them up later…even though you’re starting to get mad.

Favorite Line: Sorry!

5. The Whiner

They may not complain out loud, but they might as well be. Their sighs and grunts are nearly as distracting as their eyerolls, which – somehow – you have managed to see in the darkness of the theatre. They should’ve been an actor. Their dramatics are impressive. They might have even been a better protagonist. They kind of look like them, too.

Favorite Line: Seriously?

This is not the real trademark. That is my cat.

This is not the real trademark. That is my cat.

6. The Procrastinator

They read. They promise up and down that they do. They even swear that they were not going to see this movie before they read the book, but you convinced them to come early, so…they’re here. And they guess they’ll watch it first. But they’ll read the book the second they get home. This may or may not be the third time they’ve done this to you, but you don’t say anything because you still don’t know if they actually read, but you hope they do.

Favorite Line: I swear I was going to read the book first, but my TBR pile is too big.

7. The Boyfriend, Girlfriend, or Lost Friend

Much like the Oblivious One, this one has no clue what is going on, but they are generally happier than the Oblivious One because they are engrossed with whoever they are with. They probably won’t speak either. They don’t want to interrupt the movie for the fan they love.

Favorite Line: Can I get you anything?

8. The Character:

You’ve been staring at them for ten minutes now, and you have yet to figure out if they are purposely dressed like the characters in the book or if they actually dress that way in real life. You wait for them to talk to figure it out, but they never speak. Therefore, they do not have a favorite line.

Favorite Line: N/A

9. The Patient One:

This is a whole new form of the die-hard fan. They’ve been waiting outside the theatre since 7 a.m…the theatre doesn’t even open until 10 a.m. and it’s snowing. There is no question as to whether they are dressed up as the characters. They are. They did this for the final book release, too, and you recognize their outfit because you were also there. They even met the author once.

Favorite Line: It’s no big deal. I’ve only been waiting for twelve hours.

10. You:

Yes. You. You are among this crowd, and you are one of them. You might even be a mixture of all of them. This is possible – especially if you attend every movie adaptation you hear about. We know it’s a guilty pleasure, and that’s okay. Sit back, grab a Coke, and relax. This is going to be good…even if it isn’t. You always have your book to return home to anyway.

Favorite Line: Who? Me?

I hope you enjoyed this list! If you have a type you would like to add, please do so below! Or just talk about movie adaptations in general. Whatever, really. We can talk here. It’s not like we’re in a movie theatre or anything.

~SAT

The Pros and Cons of Beta Readers

21 Aug

Announcements:

My short story, The Pink Scarf, was published in the second volume of an adult anthology collection, Ashtrays to Jawbreakers. It is completely free on Smashwords, so feel free to check it out by clicking here.

Take Me Tomorrow was reviewed by A Literary Mind recently, and you can read the entire review by clicking here, but check out this small excerpt: “I can’t say how refreshing it was to have a protagonist that felt real. Knife-throwing abilities aside, Sophia is like the rest of us; she’s stubborn, flawed, and simply cannot control her curly hair (I feel your pain!).”

The Pros and Cons of Beta Readers:

I love beta readers. In fact, I consider my beta readers some of my closest friends (and secret keepers.) But they are close to me because we were equally careful in deciding whether or not we were good for one another, and that is what I’m talking about today: how beta readers can be both fantastic and destructive, depending on how your relationship is decided.

Why Are Beta Readers Important?

I hate to be egotistical and quote my novel when I say, “Sometimes an outside perspective is the clearer perspective.” But it’s true. (Shout out to Talk Show Host, Illuminating Now, for quoting Seconds Before Sunrise yesterday and inspiring this piece.)

But, yes, having an outside perspective is vital BEFORE the novel is published. Why? Because authors often get too close to the story. They understand too much. They know all of the answers to all of the questions, and because of this, they sometimes forget to clarify enough for a reader to understand. Beta readers prevent this confusion by reading, reviewing, and even editing as they go. If writers, publishers, editors, and beta readers were a team, beta readers would be your very first fan who still shows up to all of your games, even when you lose. And they always have great advice that even your coach didn’t think about.

Are they really THAT important?

I stand my ground when I say that the importance of editors should also be on beta readers. Like editors, beta readers are vital in creating a professional, understandable story. I think most people in the publishing industry would agree that editors must be chosen with care, but some think I’m extreme when I say that beta readers should be treated the same. Yes, it’s okay to have your friends and family read your story, but you wouldn’t rely only on them to edit, so don’t rely only on them to beta read. Find trusted colleagues or join a writing group. This might take a long time, but it’s worth it in the end. Their dedication, encouragement, and ideas might be the clarity you need.

My beta reader, Bogart

My beta reader, Bogart

So how can they be destructive?

Like any relationship, two people who are wrong for one another can be destructive to one another. In this case, a bad relationship with a beta reader can cause more confusion, a horrible change in a manuscript, and more. This doesn’t mean the beta reader is bad. This doesn’t mean the author is bad. It just means they are bad for one another. Just because two good people are in the same room, doesn’t mean they are meant to be together. This is actually relationship advice my father gave me when I was an awkward preteen that hated life in general, but it stuck with me because it is true. You must find a beta reader who likes your work as much as you do, but you also must find one who is willing to be honest about it (and an author must be willing to listen and consider.)

Is there anything else I should know?

Definitely! This small list is just an outline of basic advice I’ve given to fellow authors in search of a beta team. But the one that scares them the most is the one that scares me the most: you often have to find different beta readers for different novels. Sure, I have my go-to team, but – like readers – beta readers have genre preferences, and they work better when they focus on those particular types of novels. Just like I can’t expect a sci-fi cover artist to create a romance cover, I can’t expect my beta readers to jump on any piece of writing I hand over, and I definitely can’t expect them to praise it. You want them to give you constructive criticism so you can grow together as a team – which brings me to my last point:

Thank all of your beta readers

Even if they drop your manuscript after twenty pages, the outside perspective might suggest what type of reader will also drop the manuscript. Any advice is helpful. (Yes. Even if you hate it. Because it allows you to figure out what beta readers are good and bad for you.) Plus, having a beta reader to discuss your novels with is like having a best friend to write with, and I think all of us authors can use a few more people to talk to other than the characters in our heads. (We know how confusing they can be.) So take the time to thank them, and if you’re feeling extra thankful, put them on your acknowledgements page in your next bestseller.

P.S. I would like to take this moment to thank my beta readers past, present, and future.

~SAT

What I’ve Learned Rewriting a Seven-Year-Old Novel

19 Aug

What I’ve Learned Rewriting a Seven-Year-Old Novel

As many of you know, I am currently rewriting November Snow – my very first publication. Although I started writing it when I was 11, it didn’t get published until I was 16. I took it off the shelves for many years, and it is basically off the shelves right now for many reasons, but the main reason is how unprofessionally it was handled. (Mainly because the publishing world has changed a lot since then, but we’ll get into that in a minute.)

So I’m rewriting this older tale, and I’m looking forward to day I can share it again, but today, I wanted to talk about all of the little lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1. I was a terrible writer, and I probably still am

Seriously. I hope I look back when I’m 59 on what I’m writing now with the same amount of horror. That means I’ve grown. That means I’m still learning, and changing, and morphing into what the new art demands.

2. I needed help. Lots of help. Professional help.

By this, I mean editors. Yes, I’m talking about you, editors. You are lovely. I’m practically preparing my altar right now. If only I had known you existed back then… Now, before you judge me for not having one, 2007 was a very different time in publishing (and I was 16.) Kindle had just been released, but it was brand new. There were no supporters online or fellow indie writers just waiting to speak with you in chatrooms. I don’t even think Wattpad was around yet. (Okay. I just looked it up. It launched in November of 2006 – but I already had November Snow written by then, and I definitely didn’t join Wattpad until 2010.) But the Indie world hadn’t started marching proudly yet. That goes for cover artists, too. You may have seen the weird cover I had. That’s because affordable cover artists – like editors – didn’t exist in easy-to-reach places, and I was 15 when the publisher wanted a cover. I didn’t exactly have the ability to network or pay a large sum of money or drive around town to find a photographer. So my older brother drew my vision on a napkin. What I TRULY wanted actually looks a lot like the designed covers of The Mortal Instruments series. (which is probably why I refused to read the series for such a long time. That was my cover, dammit.) Speaking of which, if you know a cover artist you think could design something wicked for November Snow, please – suggest away. I’m looking right now.

Burning city? Check. Orange on purple? Check. Giant people looming over everything. Check.

Burning city? Check. Orange on purple? Check. Giant people looming over everything. Check.

3. Despite all of that, things aren’t as bad as they seem

The storyline rocks, and the characters melt me and break me at the same time. They’re challenging, and the dark twists and turns don’t stop. People have enjoyed it despite the mistakes, and it’s more or less going to have the same plots, secrets, and betrayals. For all you original November Snow fans, I beg of you – please refrain from spoiling the story for new readers. (That is my only worry.) But if you must know, yes, whoever you’re thinking about still dies. Yes, them, too.

4. And it’s getting better

Some characters have actually formed MORE than before, and I’m only on November 4. (For those of you who don’t know, November Snow literally takes place over one month, and yes, it’s November.) While the original beginning was rather forced, this new beginning builds up the world of Vendona with honesty (and brutality) that I was unable to show when I first wrote it. The characters aren’t as cheesy, and the extra fluff has been trimmed into a fashionable haircut (who needs speaking tags anyway?) Physical descriptions have been shifted for the better, and the scenes connect in a cleaner, more concise way. Many names have been changed as well, but the main characters will remain largely the same. (Ex. Caitlin to Catelyn, Michelle to Michele, but Drew is now Floyd. I’ll announce more on this later.)

5. I started off second-guessing, and now, I’m really happy

I wasn’t sure why November Snow has been haunting me for all of these years, but I’ve figured it out a few weeks ago when I wrote My 11-Year-Old Self was a Better Writer. I am meant to write darker stories. I know this about myself. I write darker fiction. I enjoy it. I find myself in it, and that’s where my creativity belongs. Returning to November Snow is allowing myself to find that passion again, but – most of all – it’s helping me fully embrace it.

Just the other day, I received an email from a reviewer of Take Me Tomorrow. She talked about how much darker it is from the trilogy and how she is definitely looking forward to my future works. On Twitter, two readers translated November Snow into Spanish, and an old friend from my high school messaged me when they heard that I was rewriting it. They couldn’t wait. They’ve been waiting for a rewrite ever since I returned to my novelist ways. Another longtime fan offered to beta read it since they know the story so well. (They wanted to make sure I didn’t forget anything.) And a graphic designer already offered to help design a cover, even if I choose to use someone else.

These moments bring tears to my eyes.They do.

I won’t lie. I’m nervous. I’m terribly, sickeningly nervous. When I wrote a controversial scene the other night, I could barely get through it, but I did, and afterward, I felt like my readers accomplished it with their encouragement. (And my typing helped a little bit.) But I ultimately hope to learn more lessons along the way, so I can share them, and we can discuss them as we go. Have you ever learned anything about rewriting? Any advice? Warnings?

~SAT

Guest Post: Top Productivity Tools All Writers Should Know About

16 Aug

Shannon, here, for a quick introduction. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Robert Morris from Ninja Essays. He wanted me to see the info graph Top Writing Tools of Famous Authors, and I am beyond grateful that he showed it to me. It is amazing. Seriously. Check it out by clicking here. But – onto the next part – I asked him to write a post for you all, and he agreed, so I hope you enjoy his post, Top Productivity Tools All Writers Should Know About.

Top Productivity Tools All Writers Should Know About

For writers, the usage of the Internet can go in two directions: it can either be a great resource for the work they are producing, or it can turn into a black hole that consumes their productivity by luring them with endless distractions. An average writer spends more than 50% of their time on the Internet nowadays. If you belong to that category, then you would surely want to be protected from the overwhelming interferences. The following list of tools will help you increase your willpower and start using the full potential of the Internet.

Anti-Social – Be honest: aren’t social networks the main culprit for your lack of productivity? Anti-Social is a tool that every contemporary author should start using (you hear that Salman Rushdie?). It will eliminate the temptation of checking what’s new on Twitter while you’re in the middle of writing a chapter. You can set the timer and become anti-social for the time planned for working.

Ninja Essays logo

Ninja Essays logo

Ninja Essays – How many times have you wished for an affordable, but effective editor who would get their work done as quickly as possible? Hiring a personal editor is quite expensive, but it’s also something that gives you constant headaches. At custom writing service Ninja Essays, you can put the torture to an end by hiring an online editor who will do an amazing job without spoiling your work with unnecessary “improvements”. The best part is that this is the most affordable editing service you could ever hope for.

There is another way to use this website for the sake of producing better work: you can hire MA- and PhD-holders in nearly all fields of study and get relevant information about the plot you are working on.

OmmWriter – Now this is a real writing tool! Wouldn’t you love to be able to focus while working on your computer and simply ignore all online distractions? This is the right software for you! As soon as you start using OmmWriter, you will limit the fruitless hours spent on your computer and you will start using your time productively.

Xero – As any other writer, you surely have a practical side and you like getting paid for your work. However, not many writers are capable of managing their finances well, so they need a little help from the outside. Instead of hiring an accountant, you can start using Xero – an online accounting tool that you can access from anywhere.

10FastFingers – If you want to increase your productivity, you have to become a faster typer. This tool will help you test and improve the speed of your typing with awesome (and free!) games. This is the best way to spend your free time and use the Internet with a good purpose. Although the games seem silly at first, they will definitely enhance your productivity and train your hands to follow the speed of your mind. You can switch between various typing tests to improve your accuracy and speed of using the most important writing tool – the computer keyboard.

The Internet has a lot of potential. Start using it!

It would be a shame for a writer to have access to Internet and waste its entire potential without benefiting from productivity-improvement tools. You can not only type your novels in a safe and clean environment that’s free of all distractions, but you can also use the advantages of technology for all other aspects of your career as a writer, including editing, accounting, learning, proper relaxation, and everything else you can think of.

The selection of tools provided above will help you use your time at the computer more effectively. You and your readers will notice the difference!

- Robert Morris

Reading Tips

14 Aug

Announcements:

Honya’s Bookshelf reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, “I was gripped and impressed by how intense it is, not just in terms of action but also in emotional impact. This story deals with a number of difficult, even controversial, topics in a thoughtful way, while still leaving the conclusions up to the reader. The characters are vivid and thoroughly developed–I love the attention to detail that is placed into each of them.” Read more details by reading her full review here or checking out the YA, dystopian novel here. 

The Bibliophilic Book Blog reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, “The descriptions of the powers of both the shades and the light were enthralling and beautiful. I enjoyed Minutes Before Sunset, but I was saddened by the ending. Perhaps there is more to the prophecy than meets the eye!” Read the entire review here to find out if Jessica and Eric can bear to discover their truths or…you know…check out the book by clicking here. :]

Reading Tips:

Is there such a thing? Probably not. But that doesn’t stop me from writing about it. As an avid reader myself, there is an endless TBR pile sitting on my bookshelf, my nightstand, my desk, and…pretty much everywhere, really. But that doesn’t stop me from adding to it for various reasons, and many of those reasons include the top three lessons I learned, which I’ve turned into “tips” for today’s post. Enjoy!

1. Keep an Open Mind

This means picking up that book your friend INSISTED you read, even though it sounds horribly dry and lacking in the entertainment department. If I hadn’t taken suggestions, I would’ve never found The Mortal Instruments (still one of my favorite YA fantasies despite the major movie fail) or The Art of Racing in the Rain (yes, a book told from a racer’s dog is serious…and you will cry. Trust me.)

2. Try something new

Instead of walking to the same bookshelves in the same bookstore you go to every Friday night and Wednesday afternoon, try a new shelf. Walk without reading the genre titles. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, force yourself not to even look at the book covers. Just walk until you stop. Try not to run into anyone. And find a book in a section you would’ve never tried before. Who knows? You might find out you like poetry, too.

3. Try something old

Remember how much you hated The Great Gatsby in high school? It might not hurt to try reading it again. You might hate it again. I did. (I know. I know. The horror!) But I did end up loving other books, particularly The Scarlet Letter, and it never hurts to re-read 1984.

Silhouette from bookforfun.com

Silhouette from bookforfun.com

And finally: Just Read

The more you read, the more you’ll want to read, and the more you’ll realize that it is IMPOSSIBLE to read everything (a true tragedy.) But you will find literature you love, stories you hate, and words that string together so beautifully you felt like you just stared at a painting instead of black and white text.

Do you have any reading lessons or tips for book lovers? Add them to the comments below!

~SAT

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