June’s Ketchup

29 Jun

June’s Ketchup

Eek! June is coming to a sunny end, and July is approaching as fast as a bottle rocket. (Fourth of July references are fun.) We are SO close to the release of Minutes Before Sunset. In fact, we’re officially less than a month away. (Eek again!) I’m undeniably excited, and I cannot thank you all enough for the continued cheers of encouragement as we inch closer to the release date—where you can win even MORE prizes and goodies. But I’ll talk more about that in this month’s Ketchup post.

For those of you just now checking in this month, Ketchup actually means “catch up”. At the end of every month, I write these posts describing what goes on behind the scenes at ShannonAThompson.com. Some of the topics I cover include my big moments, top blog posts, my top referrer, #1 SEO term, YouTube videos, Members of the Week, and more in order to show insights that will hopefully help fellow bloggers see what was popular. I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

Thank you for being a part of my life this June!

Big Moments:

We are less than a month away from the release of Minutes Before Sunset, and excitement has filled every Dark night. (Dark as in the Dark from The Timely Death Trilogy. Not dark as in depressing.) It’s been electric! Clean Teen Publishing even gave away three paperbacks on Goodreads, and since almost 2,000 people signed up, Clean Teen Publishing decided to giveaway a paperback EVERY week up until the release. Join the current giveaway right now by clicking this link, because you definitely deserve to win. You made this happen, after all.

On another note, Seconds Before Sunrise is officially up for pre-order as well! (Eek!) Seconds Before Sunrise releases August 25, so these releases are going to happen fast!

Who else can’t wait?

#TheDarkisComing and the Dark brings prizes and smiles.

Stay Dark,

~SAT

My #1 clicked item was pre-ordering Minutes Before Sunset! Thank you!!!

My #1 clicked item was pre-ordering Minutes Before Sunset! Thank you!!!

Top Three Blog Posts:

  • Judging an Author’s Life: Someone judged my life as an author from the photos I posted, and I wrote a letter in response. Authors are human too. We are not perfect, and we do not sit around all day writing and reading to our heart’s content. But I do share my positive moments more than my negative ones, and I share why in this emotionally driven post.
  • 6 Must-Have Tools/Apps For All Writers and Editors Out There by Ashley Sanford: A great list for all writers out there, provided by a fantastic guest blogger (who has confirmed is planning on returning with another article shortly)! Get excited.
  • Finding Your Style as a Writer: There is no reason to fear your “voice” and “style” discussions. It’s different for everyone, and it always will be. What matters is doing what is right for you and being aware of yourself as you grow into yourself.

Other Blog Posts:

 

#1 SEO Term

#1 SEO Term

YouTube Channel:

The Fifth Wave and Survival Things (06.02.15)

At the end of the month, I also like to take a moment to thank all of the websites who supported me by posting reviews, interviews, and features. I also like to specially thank the Members of the Dark. Every week, I award one member a “Member of Week” badge, and out of those monthly members, one of them will win an eBook of their choosing as well as more prizes. If you would like to be a member or review my novels or interview me, please send me an email at shannonathompson@aol.com. I always love speaking with new bloggers, writers, and readers! And I will share your post on all of my websites.

Dark Members of the Week: The Acid Oasis, Chris Pavesic, and Endless Reading.

Reviewers:

Seconds Before Sunrise: The Book Forums

sun-day-4

Website Wonders

27 Jun

Website Wonders!

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of June’s Website Wonders categorized into Reading, Writing, and Simply Amazing.

If you enjoy these websites, be sure to follow me on Twitter because I share even more websites and photos like this there!

Enjoy!

Reading:

I Read Princess Books Because I’m a Feminist: I loved this. I thought she explained this entire topic perfectly, so that’s all I’ll say.

31 Reasons You Should Never Read During The Summer: This article makes great points. ;]

Can We Guess Your Favorite Literary Genre? They guessed mystery/thriller for me.

#BookFace Brings Cover Art into the Real World: A funny hashtag and way to share what you’re reading.

7 Book Dedications That Basically Say Screw You: Hilarious!

Awesome Harry Potter Themed Weddings: Just because

What did Salvador Dali’s Alice in Wonderland Look Like? Like This

Writing:

Character-Driven or Action-Driven: A great article to use if you want to become more aware of your own style

11357237_1010215849030653_7028943652362204982_o

Simply Amazing:

Cat Library Lets Workers Check Out Kittens: Because I love cats.

Japanese Artist Creates Incredibly Complex Balloon Animals: Yes. You read that right. And they are amazing.

The Amazing Works of SIG’s Master Engravers: This is about guns, but it’s amazing:

10 Awesome Cars That Can Be Yours When You Win The Lottery: Because I love cars.

New Visually Satisfying Arrangements of Everyday Objects: I know it sounds weird, but you’re going to like it.

See you next month!

~SAT

Seconds Before Sunrise is officially available for pre-order!

fornow4Minutes Before Sunset is also available for pre-order, and

Clean Teen is giving away another paperback on Goodreads right now.

Stay Dark!

 

#WW Finding Your Style as a Writer

24 Jun

#WW Finding Your Style as a Writer

So, I just turned 24 yesterday. That means, I’m 113 in cat years (according to this calculator.) Since I’m 113, I thought I’d share some of my personal, cat lady wisdom, and by “personal” wisdom, I mean self-awareness in regards to my writing style. (Plus, a good portion of you have let me know you’d like to hear more about my writing and what goes on behind it, so I thought this was a good excuse to share some information about how I’ve gone about writing novels . . . a little extra insight, so to speak.) That’s why I’m going to splurge a little bit. While this looks like a long post, it’s really divided into two parts: Finding Your Style and Aspects of my Style that I Figured Out

Feel free to read one or both.

Finding Your Style

This July, my first novel—November Snow—was published eight years ago. Eight years. (49 years in cat years.) I’ve definitely learned a lot since then, but one of the things that took the most time was figuring out my “style.”

We hear that word a lot. STYLE. It is normally followed up with “finding your voice.” And all those years back, this entire conversation would’ve freaked me out. It made me feel inadequate—mainly because I could not pinpoint my “style” or “voice.” Now, that I’m a couple novels deep, I get it, and I’ll tell you a secret.

And we're writing...

And we’re writing…

It will happen naturally—so naturally, you won’t even realize it—so don’t worry yourself silly. (Us authors are good at that.)

But here’s the other side of that token: Not only is it different for everyone but also discovering it is different for everyone. It takes a level of self-analysis, but that’s just my little opinion. For me, it took a couple of novels and a large amount of readers to point out a few reoccurring themes for me to realize that there was a pattern to my writing. That pattern was my voice and style. Basically, pay attention to what beta readers and reviewers are saying. You might learn something about yourself. But it’s also important to decipher that pattern:

What is you (your voice and style) vs What is other (maybe the genre, for instance)?  

In order to explain what I mean, I want to share what I learned personally over the last eight years. Since a lot of what I learned came from beta readers, many of the works I’ll reference aren’t published yet. While I will refer to my published works as November Snow, Minutes Before Sunset, Seconds Before Sunrise, Death Before Daylight (The Timely Death Trilogy), and Take Me Tomorrow (The Tomo Trilogy), my unpublished works will still go by their abbreviations. If you’re a beta reader, you’ll recognize the titles: HBBL, TGO, D, TMG, S.

What is other?

These are themes that happen because they simply work for whatever reason. For instance, there are dances in both Minutes Before Sunset and Take Me Tomorrow, which caused a few readers to think I have a thing for dances. I do and I don’t. I mean, who doesn’t love a good dance scene? (Insert my love for a cheesy trope.) But while it’s cheesy in Minutes Before Sunset, it’s rather chaotic and uncomfortable in Take Me Tomorrow. There isn’t a single dance in November Snow either. (Sorry.) But there is one in HBBL and in TMG…but not one in TGO or D or S. And all of the dances happen under very different circumstances. That being said, there’s a larger factor to consider here. The characters’ ages. Most of my characters are young adults. They are in high school or some form of high school, and high schools—more often than not—have dances. So, it’s not just about me liking them. They happen naturally. They work with the story and with the lives of the characters. This isn’t technically my voice. This is the genre or the setting. It happens, not because of me, but because of the circumstances.

What is you?

These are themes that happen because of me being me (or you being you). These are your life experiences, your character, seeping through your words. For instance, in many of my novels, you’ll probably always see a character who struggles with memories. Mainly because I struggle with memory loss, although I’m not quite to the point in my life where I’m very open about that. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve publically stated I struggle with memory loss. But it is a part of my identity as a person, so it will more than likely be seen in my novels one way or another. For instance, the second book of The Timely Death Trilogy, Seconds Before Sunrise, has A LOT of memory loss. It’s practically the central theme. The Tomo Trilogy is that way to some extent as well, but you don’t see the effects of it until the second novel, Take Me Yesterday. That being said, memory loss doesn’t appear in anything else. Not HBBL, not TGO, not D, not TMG, not even S…okay, wait. No. S has a stupid amount of memory loss. But you get my point. Even when some themes come from my personal struggles, they don’t always show up in my work. But here’s the difference: memory loss affects the voice of the character. It affects the vocabulary used and the emotions involved. It develops everything else and with everything else. The difference with “other”—in my opinion—is “other” just happens. (The dance discussed above, for instance, was an event in the novel that pushed the novel forward, but the dance itself did not affect the character’s overall personality.) The “you” is your style because it is your unique voice, your vocabulary, your way of explaining.

The “you” is the way you write about the dance; the “other” is the dance happening. 

Aspects of My Style I Figured Out:

Now that that has been said and done, I thought it would be fun to show three other ones that I’ve realized about my style. This is really just for my readers who might want to get a larger grasp on who I am as a writer and what future novels might entail, as well as why current novels are the way they are:

Perspectives:

While I generally write my novels in dual first POV—like Eric and Jessica telling The Timely Death Trilogy or Daniel and Serena telling November Snow—I do have exceptions. For instance, the only POV in The Tomo Trilogy is Sophia Gray (although I have admitted changing that in a possible future rewrite, but I probably won’t.) This happens because I love writing in first POV and I love writing from both a male’s perspective and a female’s perspective. Fun fact: I actually prefer writing from a male’s perspective.

Family structure: I grew up in an unusual household. At first, it was the “normal” household: two parents, two kids, one dog. All-American, you know? But then my mom died. And then I had a stepmother and three stepsiblings. And then my father divorced. And then it was just my brother, my father, and I. So, you’re going to see a lot of different types of families in books, but I can also admit that you’ll probably rarely see a mother-daughter relationship. Not that I can’t do it. I can. But I would rather explore other relationships in fiction. In fact, I remember as a reader after my mother died, I wished there were more novels where daughters were close to their fathers or brothers. So, you’ll see more of that in my work. But there are exceptions. On a side note, I also write about orphans a lot, mainly because my mom died and my dad traveled, so I was often alone as a kid. I find a lot of comfort in writing about characters would had to be independent.

Violence vs Romance: I’m a violent writer. The Timely Death Trilogy is actually my least violent work, and if you get a chance to read the first few chapters of Death Before Daylight, keep that in mind. It’s still lighter. November Snow is often seen as my most violent. Why? I used to wonder about this myself, and I think I just realized why recently, but that’s probably for another post in the future. (Hello, July.) In contrast, I find romance difficult to write about. I dread writing kissing scenes. I think I get weirded out because I feel like I’m being a Peeping Tom on another couple . . . and I’m being a Peeping Tom who is writing about it. It gives me the heeby jeebies. That being said, every single one of my novels have a romantic factor in them. HBBL is probably my only romance-romance, and I doubt that I’ll write another novel that is just romanced based again. I like dystopian. I like sci-fi and fantasy. I like the plot to be character-oriented and action-orientated and in a new world. Love just falls into the slots.

I know this post has been longer than usual, but I’m trying to listen to what you all have expressed wanting to see! I hope you enjoyed seeing a little more in-depth information about my life and work. Maybe it’ll also help you analyze your own writing to see if there are certain themes that correlate with your voice as a writer. Or maybe you’re just a reader and learned something new about my stories. Either way, thank you for reading!

~SAT

#MondayBlogs: 6 Must-Have Tools/Apps For All The Writers And Editors Out There

22 Jun

Intro:

Being a writer is tough work, but there are ways to make writing easier on you. Today’s guest blogger, Ashley Sanford, is listing just some of the many tools writers can use to improve their writing. Whether these tools help organize you, keep you focused, or edit your grammar, these tools are bound to help some writers out there! So, if you’ve used one, let us know what you think, and if you haven’t used one, let us know which ones sound like something you would use. And—of course—if you have any additional tools you know about, tell us about them.

6 Must-Have Tools/Apps For All The Writers And Editors Out There by Ashley Sanford

As easy as it may sound to some people, writing is a difficult task and requires complete dedication of the writer. While you need a certain level of interest and skills to become a good writer or an editor, there are various apps and tools available on the internet which can help you make your life more convenient and efficient as a writer.

So, let’s not waste any more time and check out the following productive tools:

1. Google Docs

Google Docs is definitely the most popular app among writers around the world because this is a complete package that any writer can ask for. With Google Docs, you can create content in any manner you want. Insert pictures, flowcharts, tables or simply change the style of writing with just a few simple steps. Google docs provide the writers and editors with a facility to write and edit their content anywhere or anytime, at their own discretion.

2. Focus Writer

The on-screen and off-screen distractions play a major role in distracting away the writer. While it is easy to tackle off-screen distractions like noises, television, etc., it becomes difficult for certain writers to pay close attention and type their thoughts with a colorful screen. So, if you are looking for just a plain canvas for writing, then this is just the right tool for you. It also provides features like alarm, goal setting, sound effects and timer so that you can organize your work or projects and do things more efficiently.

3. AutoCrit

This is a must-have tool for all writers, especially editors. You can use this tool for free, though a premium account is also available. With just a single click, you can check everything in your content and correct it right away without having to read each and every word carefully as it helps highlighting the problematic areas in the manuscript. You can easily edit and remove grammatical mistakes, over-used words and other mistakes with this tool efficiently.

4. Peak Dissertation

Don’t let the name fool you! Be it a novel, creative write-up or a dissertation, you can let your transcripts proofread and edited by a professional via this service. The service is ideal for people who find it a bit difficult to do editing on their own. Regardless, with this resource at your disposal you can get your projects polished to perfection whenever you want.

tools

5. Merriam Webster

Sometimes, the biggest problem a writer may face is the selection of words that will be best suitable to describe his idea. So, get this app right now if you do not want to waste your productive time brainstorming the right words. This free app is by far the most convenient way to finding the right words that help you convey your message to the readers in the best possible manner.

6. Evernote

This is a very popular app among writers and editors who want to do things in a well-organized manner, and on-the-go. You can save relevant pictures, screenshots, write even the lengthiest notes and search for your required document easily within the app with a search option anytime as per your need. All you need to do is sign in from your account, and you can access your entire collection of content, pictures and notes from any computer, anywhere in the world.

7. Hemingway

Editing is indeed an intimidating task that editors have to do for ensuring the quality of their content. With quite a few apps available in the market to facilitate editors, Hemingway is an outstanding one with its great features and accuracy. All you need to do is to copy paste the desired content on this app and let it find mistakes for you. It points out all the sentences that do not make any sense or those that contain over-used words. Plus, it can identify any grammatical mistakes in your work.

Once, you know how and when to use online tools and apps to facilitate your writing or editing, you will realize how easy and manageable your work can become. So, it is indeed a wise idea to take a look at all tools and pick the one according to your nature of work.

Bio:

Ashley Sanford leads the team of content developers. Apart from content development, she’s also fairly talented at art and designs, and she loves to roam Art museums in her country.

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#SATurday: Reviewing Novels as an Author

20 Jun

#SATurday: Reviewing Novels as an Author

Back in the day—way back when—Goodreads didn’t exist, and I’m pretty sure (maybe not) Amazon didn’t even have a rating system for books. It was just Barnes & Noble and Borders, but mainly Barnes & Noble for me (R.I.P. Borders). I’m talking about the mid-90s. I used to buy all of my books from the store. (Okay. So my mom used to buy all my books from the store.) There was no Kindle, and there weren’t many book blogs out there, and if there were, they definitely weren’t like they are today. I actually remember sitting at my Komodo computer and scrolling the Internet, hoping to find somewhere to review books and I couldn’t find a website.

So, I reviewed books on Microsoft PowerPoint. (Something I just had a conversation about with author, Jonas Lee, so I must mention him in this article for sparking this idea in me. Thanks, Jonas!) It’s been over a decade since my PowerPoint presentation days. (A presentation that I used to show every weekend to my stuffed animals. What can I say? I moved around a lot. My toys were my friends.) I no longer have that presentation, but I can still see it scrolling through The Magic Tree House series and W.I.T.C.H.—stars flying in and flying out, wicked thick fonts twinkling on the screen before dissipating off. Sometimes, I would get a cartoon sound to line up with everything. It was 90’s perfection.

I loved it. I loved it so much. But years would pass before I ever began to post book reviews again. Why? Well…it’s a bit complicated, but it mainly came down to being an author. Beginning in 2007, I no longer felt like I could review books. I knew exactly how much work went on behind the scenes, after all, and it felt like a conflict of interest to say anything at all. If it was a positive review, someone could think I was just saying that to suck up to another author. If it was a negative review, someone could think I was just trying to tear someone else’s work down. Reviewing novels became a lose-lose situation in my mind, so I stepped away from them.

You can also expect to see more photos like this from me.

You can also expect to see more photos like this from me.

But I missed reviewing books so much. And I’ve missed them for a long time. Suddenly, I couldn’t stop thinking that I took the wrong approach all those years back when I stepped away from something I love to do—sharing books with whoever was interested.

I’m not a picky reader. I often love everything I read. I can definitely see value in everything I read, and my tastes range from cheesy romances to dark, dystopian sci-fi. I love poetry and memoirs and young adult and even the occasional blush-worthy read. I love everything. I really do. What I read mainly comes down to my mood, but I’ve always enjoyed recommending reads to fellow readers based on what they love the most.

So, I’ve returned. Over the past two months, I’ve been reviewing and updating novels I’m currently reading on Goodreads. You’ll probably never see a 1 or 2 or even a 3 star review from me, but please don’t get me wrong. I just rarely dislike novels, and if I do dislike novels, I am more likely to put it down than to finish it, and I don’t feel right reviewing something if I don’t finish it. On top of that, I’ve been focusing on who I would specifically recommend the read too, and it’s been a lot of fun! I’ve been connecting with readers more, and I love talking to everyone about how they feel about novels or what novels they have on their TBR list. I finally feel like a reader again. I’ve always been reading, of course, but reading is always better when you’re reading with friends. (And I’m so glad I’ve found reading friends that aren’t stuffed animals.) So, you can expect more reviews from me on Goodreads. Feel free to tell me about what you’re reading too! I would love to hear your recommendations. Just comment below—::wink::—and we’ll start reading together soon.

~SAT

P.S. Don’t forget! Three paperbacks will be given away on Goodreads this Tuesday, June 23 (a.k.a. my 24th birthday. What better way to celebrate than by giving away book gifts?) Click here to enter! Expect even more prizes soon.

Our most recent contest via Twitter just ended today! Congrats goes out to Kathy-Lynn Cross, the winner of the signed bookmark! Follow her @KathyLynnCross today.

winner

#WW The Joy of Progress Bars

17 Jun

#WW The Joy of Progress Bars

If you’ve been with me for a while, you might remember when I used to have a progress bar on the right side of my website. I no longer have one, but I’ll talk about that in a minute. Since I no longer have on, my progress bar revolved around my current writing projects. Generally, I had two novels at once, and I included the status (ex. Editing) as well as the estimated release date. I have samples below, but I mainly outlined when my novels were being written, edited, and formatted until the release date. That being said, I loved having progress bars on my website, and I encourage every writer to at least try it for three months. Why?

1. It’s interactive with readers!

A progress bar keeps your readers up-to-date. Not only do they know where you are in your work but they can also talk to you about where you are. Everyone can be a part of the process now, and as a reader myself, I think it’s exciting to see all the steps as they happen. Want to know if I’m editing? Want to know if I’m reviewing edits? Now you know, and you can know where I’m at during every step of the process as the weeks pass. It builds up all that hype, and you can celebrate every milestone with your readers! This is actually the reason I started doing it. When I began receiving regular emails about my current status with my next novel, I wanted to find a way to keep everyone updated by just visiting my website, and it worked wonders for everyone! We could chat whenever we wanted about where we were at and skip the questions so we could go directly to celebrating progress.

Progress from June 3, 2014 - September 28, 2013

Progress from June 3, 2014 – September 28, 2014

2. It reminds writers of how far they’ve come

I definitely recommend progress bars to new writers because it will help you from getting discouraged. At first, it won’t seem like a lot, but when you see your bars over months right next to one another, you can see how much you are accomplishing, and that’s a great feeling! It can help you set goals and encourage yourself. But be warned. Some writers have the opposite feelings about bars. They feel discouraged, like they aren’t moving forward, and it sometimes puts too much pressure on writers, so while it works for many—it’s fun for me—it has also felt worse for others. So, figure out what type of writer you are. If you love writing goals, this might be for you. If you love keeping track of your word count, this might be for you. But if writing goals and word count makes you shrink away from your computer screen, I wouldn’t do it. I would just write.

So why don’t I have one anymore?

Well, I probably will again soon! Honestly, though, I deleted mine when my old publisher closed down because I knew I couldn’t update anyone. Now that I’m back in the swing of things, I will probably keep everyone updated on my writing progress with November Snow and other projects as we move forward. If you want to try one, I make mine via PicMonkey. It’s simple and free—and fun! I love looking back on mine, and I love looking forward to new ones.

What about you? Have you ever tried a progress bar? Would you ever consider trying one?

~SAT

#MondayBlogs Do You ‘Take’ Your Characters With You When You’re In The Outside World?

15 Jun

Intro:

As an author, I spend a lot of my free time on the computer. In fact, between my editing job and my writing time, I spend almost ALL my time on my computer. But you still have to get off the laptop sometimes and explore the world. This is what our guest blogger is discussing today. Author Marcia Carrington talks about how important it is to seek inspiration outside of the computer-sphere. If you’re an author, tell us about stepping away from your work and what that means to you. But first and foremost, let’s welcome Marcia!

Do You ‘Take’ Your Characters With You When You’re In The Outside World? By Marcia Carrington

This is something that I often do whenever I’m not at home, that is, I could be at the mall, waiting at a doctor’s surgery, in line at the supermarket, or at some other such place. I often find that my mind wanders to either characters from stories I’m presently writing or stories that I propose to write and a concept has been gnawing away at me. What will happen to these characters? In which direction should I take them? Would this be a good idea for a story? These are the kinds of questions that pose themselves when I’m out and about.

Maple leaves in Autumn provided by Marcia

Maple leaves in Autumn provided by Marcia

To be honest, I never take any kind of computer with me whenever I’m out of the home, as I find that my mind can wander freer outside, and there are many inspirations that can be experienced. The people you meet, the things you do, the places you go, could all trigger ideas and concepts that you never thought possible, or help you to take a story in another direction.

There is also another associated benefit to leaving the home sphere and going outside into the world. I have found in the past that when I am in the throes of writing and the ideas are becoming stagnant or non-existent in my mind, staying inside can be detrimental. Leaving the home, and going outside into the world, brings a freshness, a change to the mind and body that can definitely assist with writing.

Bio:

Marcia Carrington writes about the human condition, exploring what makes people tick, but in an upbeat and optimistic tone. She is an interested observer of popular culture, and fan of cinema from all eras and countries, especially from the 1930-1970s. Marcia is a long-time soap opera viewer, watching daytime, and night time serials from a very young age.

Marcia is also a food connoisseur, with a particular love of chocolate, and coffee. The morning coffee has always been a staple for Marcia, and something which she cannot do without. There is just something about the fresh aroma of coffee early in the morning, and anytime for that fact, which proves irresistible to her.

SmashwordsTwitterGoodreadsAmazon US,

Barnes and NobleI-TunesBlogPinterest

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

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