Why Writers Should Watch “Adult World”

24 Oct

Announcements: 

The latest poem in my Wattpad poetry series has been added! Share, like, and comment for your chance to be mentioned during my next YouTube video. This week’s poem is titled – The Affair – and here are the opening lines:

I fell in love with childhood,

he wore a red cape

made of polyester plaid,

There are a few spoilers in my latest interview with Read to Write Stories, including what The Odyssey has to do with the sequel and why certain elements of the book were mentioned in very subtle ways, so I hope you check it out by clicking the link.  I even talk a little about November Snow and how much my writing has changed in seven years, but – again – I’ll leave that up for you to read about.

But that wasn’t my ONLY interview I did. On Life of a Young Adult Writer, I talked about my personal life, the sequel, Death Before Daylight, and writing advice. When asked how I create believable characters, my first piece of advice was to stop thinking of them as characters, but you can read the entire conversation by clicking the link!

Finally, Real Rad Reads reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, stating, “Whenever I read a really good book, and something amazing happens, I find myself compelled to shout the author’s name out of excitement. Rick Yancey (The 5th Wave) and Susan Ee (Angelfall) have been some recent authors included in my repertoire for this, and Shannon’s name was added to the mix just last week after I read Minutes Before Sunset. In other words, I enjoyed this book.” Check out why she enjoyed Minutes Before Sunset by clicking the link! (And click here to check out Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon – only $3.89)

Why Writers Should Watch “Adult World”

Every now and then, I stumble across a movie MADE for writers. Last time, I wrote Why Writers Should Watch “Authors Anonymous” and now I am here to explain why you should also watch “Adult World” – especially if you are a poet.

MV5BMjIzNDY1NjgzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzMzMDEwMTE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_Here is the IMDB synopsis:

Amy, a naive college graduate who believes she’s destined to be a great poet, begrudgingly accepts a job at a sex shop while she pursues a mentorship with reclusive writer Rat Billings.

Amy is played by Emma Roberts, and although I am a HUGE fan of American Horror Story, I’ve never really been a fan of hers. The presence of Evan Peters convinced me to watch it, and I must admit – I enjoyed Emma Roberts a lot in this role, so I must take this moment to praise her for that. In fact, I enjoyed every bit of this movie. It’s charming, hilarious, and very relatable to a young writer’s journey.

We see a budding writer’s obsession with the famous – in this case, Sylvia Plath – and we see the melodramatics of someone trying to force drama in order to be the stereotypical “writing is misery” cliché, which – as good timing has it – I’ve written about recently (click the link). But we also see someone trying to find themselves, fighting to follow their dreams, and unexpectedly making a connection with a fantastically talented poet they’ve always loved, only to realize that role model may not be who they hoped they were.

On the surface, Adult World might seem like it is simply about writing, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about finding yourself and learning how to live so that you can write better each and every time you pick up a pen.

John Cusack is also a genius, and I hope sharing my favorite line that his character speaks might convince you to try this writer’s movie out on a rainy night.

“If you want to make art, you have to fail. And so, the hardest job is to fail better.”

Adult World is a perfect reminder of that.

~SAT

 

How a Writing Career Changes in Two Years

22 Oct

Announcements: 

Read to Write Stories posted a writing exercise called – How to Begin and End Chapters – and it features Take Me Tomorrow. Check it out by clicking the link. The post also includes passages from my latest novel. If you’re looking for a fantastic website to enhance your writing, I definitely recommend Read to Write Stories. The weekly pieces are great setups for new writers and wonderful practice for writers hoping to tune their craft.

How a Writing Career Changes in Two Years

The other night, I was doing something that most writers dread: Cleaning old documents off my laptop. Pretty much everyone I know dreads this, but writers – I believe – have a little extra to sift through. Between years of daydreaming, note-taking, and attempting to start numerous novels only to shelve them, writers can stack up hundreds if not thousands of mislabeled, unfinished, and probably unorganized pieces of writing, and I doubt I am alone when I say this, but it is so impossibly difficult to delete old writings…but I manage to do it anyway. When I do, I hold my kitten to make the pain bearable.

It was on one of these horrid nights that I found a document titled “Book To-Do.” I, being the unorganized cat lady that I am, had no idea what to expect from this docx icon I found buried among old college assignments and music wishlist bulletins, but I knew I could not delete it without reading every word of it, so I opened it.

I found gold.

Book To-Do was written on September 04, 2012. At this point in my life, November Snow was my only piece of work released, but I had quit publishing a long time ago. This document was also written approximately 20 days before I began this website, and the entire point of this single document was to outline where I was with my writing as well as label where I wanted to go next. I can’t share all of those notes (Spoilers are everywhere, even about books I haven’t told beta readers about yet!) but I am showing notes on pieces you will recognize:

November Snow

  • Old version: 125,978 words
  • New version written as of now: chapter 1—11: 30,265 words
  • Currently writing chapter 12

Take Me Tomorrow

  • Finished editing, sent query, responses gained, speak with author in contact.

The Dark Trilogy

….

So, where am I going with this?

The gain! Look how much has changed in two years alone. The Dark Trilogy became The Timely Death Trilogy, and Death Before a New Day morphed into Death Before Daylight, and all three received a rewrite, an edit, and a contract. Same with Take Me Tomorrow, and although I’m still working on November Snow’s rewrite, I am still moving forward with it, but the important piece was how I felt upon seeing this dated list: I realized how easily all of this hard work can be forgotten.

My friend made this two years ago, purposely using ‘right’ instead of ‘write’ to give me a hard time

Two years ago, my friend made this, purposely using ‘right’ instead of ‘write’, and the joke has stuck. I truly was writing a paper for college, and that is my lucky Elvis t-shirt.

You see, as an author, I am always looking forward, and I never think I am doing well enough (and especially fast enough) to further my career in order to meet more readers. That focus isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes I believe I get too caught up in moving forward that I forget how much work I have done to get to where I already am, and I found a lot of excitement in seeing physical reminders of that progress. It reminded me that I am – in fact – working hard, but it also forced me to take a step back from the pressures I put on myself, and it allowed me to pat myself on the back for a little bit (all, of course, while thanking anyone and everyone who has helped me along the way).

It’s safe to say that I didn’t delete this document. Instead, I updated it with today’s date, and I left a little encouraging note for my future self to stumble upon another two years from now.

Who knows how far we can all be by then?

It’s definitely a practice I would recommend other authors try. I know it brought a smile to my face, and it is for that reason that I want to take a moment to thank all of you again – for allowing me to share my words and for sharing your words with me.

In two years, I hope to see you again,

~SAT

The Sequel Can Wait

18 Oct

Announcements:

The third section of my interactive poetry series has begun, and you can read the first poem – Miscarriage – by clicking the title. Here are the opening lines:

If I hadn’t stepped outside, I would not

have seen the cloud buried deep in the approaching

storm I vaguely remembering hearing about.

(Vote, share, and comment for your chance to be mentioned during my next YouTube video.)

Special thanks goes out to The Incorrigible Reader for reviewing Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise, book 1 and book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy, here. Find out why she said, “I really did love this series! It was intriguing, exciting, romantic, and so hard to put down!’ 

Another huge thank you goes out to SDAV Reads for reviewing Take Me Tomorrow. She describes both the character development and the world-building, but here’s a quote, “So even amidst some very serious fights, explosions, and runaway escapes worthy of Doctor Who, there is a lot of time spent with the emotions of the characters so that you end up feeling as connected to them as you ought to. They’re very well developed…If you like Dystopic books, or even if you don’t and you just want a good thriller, Take Me Tomorrow is certainly one to add to your shelf!” Read her full review here.

And I am thanking one more book blogger – Note to Selph Book Reviews – for also reading Take Me Tomorrow. You can read her full review by clicking the link, but here is a quote from her, “The overall plot was intriguing and exciting, filled with plenty of action running from police and sneaking out at night.”

I cannot thank you all enough! Please check out my books by clicking these links: Minutes Before Sunset and Take Me Tomorrow. If you write a review, let me know, and I will be sure to share it right here!

The Sequel Can Wait:

Before anyone freaks out, no, this is not about the release dates of Take Me Yesterday or Death Before Daylight. Not entirely anyway. Instead, it’s rather about the pressure writers can put on themselves to get the next book out – and fast – and how destructive it can be to the entire writing (and reading) experience.

You see, I once heard that authors nowadays are expected to release a novel every six months. I’ve actually heard this more than once, but I believe one of the times was during a discussion author, Ryan Attard, had on his podcast, The Lurking Voice. He was simply discussing this trend, not necessarily agreeing with it. I want to clarify that because I think the idea of getting a novel out every six months is fantastic. It’s just extremely difficult, and it should not be expected. Ever.

A lot goes on behind the scenes in the publishing world. Writing isn’t even half of it. Content editing is completely different than line-editing, and a line edit is different than just an edit. Those are just three types of editing, not to mention formatting for both an eBook or a paperback or – god forbid – the hours that go behind an audio book. And cover art! Geez. I could go on forever, and I’m not even talking about the amount of hours, people, or cost behind it all (or the fact that most of these people have second jobs).

1280px-Old_paper

Don’t get me wrong. I think it is great if an author can get a book out every six months. It can be done, and it can, in fact, be professional. After all, four months passed between the release of Seconds Before Sunrise and Take Me Tomorrow (but that explanation is for another post). It can be done, and it can be done well, but that does not – by any means – mean that every author should do this. Unfortunately, especially in the Indie market, authors are often competing with one another (a rather ridiculous notion in itself, but moving on…) and I’ve seen a lot of arguments that authors can’t possibly release books that quickly.

Again, it can be done, but I think authors should pick their timelines based on nothing but themselves. Basing it on readers’ expectations can be really destructive. For instance, you might rush editing to meet a deadline, and now, there are more mistakes readers are picking out in your novels, but if you hadn’t been trying to meet a deadline, you might have been more careful.

I say this with great caution. I know that this topic can cause a lot of bad blood, but I am author, and I go through the pressures of releasing the next book every day. The pressures are mainly focused on three things: get it out quickly, efficiently, and professionally. I’ve lost sleep over it. I’ve worried I was going to lose readers if Death Before Daylight took an extra three months to release. I’ve given myself writer’s block over it. And let me tell you – it isn’t worth it.

How do I know this?

Well, to be quite honest, I don’t. I’m still learning, and I still mess up. I estimated that Death Before Daylight could be cut down to 80,000 words in content edits, and I’ve already surpassed it. That being said, this had added time to my timeline, so it will probably come out later than AEC has been anticipating, and I have been losing my little writer’s mind over it. I feel guilty, and a huge part of me feels irresponsible at timing, satisfying my readers, and estimating my work abilities. That is a hard pill to swallow. But it is even harder to realize it isn’t a pill I have to swallow. Things happen in this industry, and we must roll with the punches, and readers will, too.

In fact, the other day, one of my all-time favorite authors, Meg Cabot, announced she will be releasing book 7 of the Mediator in 2015. Just to let you all know, it has been 15 years since book 6 came out. 15. And you know what? Readers are ecstatic. I’m ecstatic. 15 years is nothing for a fan. Look at all the talk about Harry Potter coming back. That’s about 10 years, and everyone is practically begging for it. And The Mortal Instruments movie was canceled, but the T.V. show is coming out, and although some are reluctant, I think most fans will give it a shot.

Of course readers want the sequel now. I am a reader myself. I understand the anticipation. Waiting for City of Heavenly Fire was so painful I cannot even begin to describe the countdown on my iCalendar, but I still picked the book up when it finally did release, and I never held it against Cassandra Clare, and I will always be excited for the release of a sequel whenever it happens. But – sometimes – I forget that as an author. On the writer side of things, I tear myself down, but on the reader side, I am only filled with excitement, and I think every author can benefit by remembering the support readers feel for authors. That pressure to release the next book is not pressure. It is support. It is encouragement. It is an excited fan-base authors should be proud of, not worried about, and it is the next step to enjoying every release, no matter how long it takes.

No matter how much time passes, words are endless, and there will be someone to read them. 

~SAT

Coffee & Cats: Episode 6

16 Oct

Announcements:

I hope you enjoyed my interview on Whispers in the Dark last night. If you didn’t have a chance to listen to it, don’t worry! You can listen to it right now by clicking here.

In other news, People Like Books posted an interview with their review of Take Me Tomorrow, and you can read both by clicking here, but here is a small quote from both:

Review: “The pacing of this book is also top notch…I’d say if you are a fan of Divergent, Marie Lu’s Legend, and heck maybe even Alex Bracken’s The Darkest Minds, then you’ll like this book. (Hopefully LOVE it – just like I did.)

Interview: “…my characters change dramatically in different ways, but a reader might need to read it a few times to realize that. I don’t like making things too obvious. I want readers to experience the book one hundred times and realize something new every time.”

Lastly, Miss Heliotrope Reads also reviewed Take Me Tomorrow here, stating, “Thompson has come up with a good story and has, very impressively, managed to find a niche in a highly saturated genre.”  

Coffee & Cats: Episode 6

It’s that time! After four Fridays, you have voted, commented, and shared four poems, and based on your activity, I have read your favorite poem. The winning poem is The Autumn Railroad, and the winning fan is Steven Sanchez. If you haven’t already, click the links to check them both out. Below, you can watch my reading of the poem, but I had a bit of a cold! So I apologize if I sound sleepy. I tried my best. And just like last month, I have put smaller explanations below the video as a back story to the inspiration.

I hope you enjoy it!

The grave of my teenager daughter

Opening line:

is a restaurant she was born at 16.

This isn’t about losing a child. Not to me anyway. For me, it’s about burying your teenage years behind you as you move forward into adult hood despite the lingering pain many teenagers have to go through: first loves, first jobs, first drugs, etc.

Peeling Oranges

Opening line:

We sat on the floor as you began, and

This also resides in younger years, and the inspiration comes from many stories combined together, the main one being how a parent can teach a child many things, like cooking, but they never get the full opportunity to tell them the entire story. The second one is a combination of losing friends and realizing exactly what they brought into your life afterward – including different cultures, stories, and learning experiences. And, yes, I seriously cannot peel oranges.

The Autumn Railroad

Opening line:

it was a place of great indifference, the type

This poem can be read two ways (or possibly more) but most readers seem to enjoy it as a metaphor for the season, which I can definitely see, but it’s sadly based on a true story that happened near a town I used to go to. Two boys died on the railroad tracks while biking, and the accident left a haunting glare on the area. The tracks also got shutdown shortly after, but I was told it wasn’t from the accident, so I think – in a way – it did become this horrible real-life metaphor for fall and winter, coming and ending on a single day.

To the Anti-American Teacher…We Knew You Were Pro-World

Opening line:

A clause in your contract slated your signature for patriotism.

The last poem is the closest poem to a completely literal story. I had a government teacher in high school that did refuse to sign his contract (not because he was anti-American, but because – as he explained – he was shocked the teaching demanded such a thing.) He did, in fact, remove his flag, and he decorated his room with all the flags around the world, but no, he wasn’t fired for it. I seem to recall him getting in trouble, but I don’t know the full extent of it. However, I truly appreciated how he took the time to teach us about other countries in the spare minutes we had, and a lot of his teachings came from his personal experiences when he traveled the world. I can admit that I barely remember the classwork, but I remember every time he spoke about his travels. The Dr. Seuss quote is included in this poem because that was a quote my high school used a lot.

Hope you enjoyed the explanations and the reading! Can’t wait for the next poems to come out on my Wattpad every Friday. Remember to share, vote, and comment for your chance to be mentioned.

~SAT

 

The Unconventional Working Habits of Brilliant Writers

14 Oct

Today is another fantastic post written by Ninja Essays. Shannon is taking a slight break, but I have a lot of announcements today that I hope you check out, including news about a radio interview, a reality T.V. show, and book bloggers.

On October 15, Whispers in the Dark radio will be hosting a LIVE interview from 8 – 9 p.m. (CDT). I hope you all listen in. We’ll be talking about Take Me Tomorrow and so much more. So click here to check out the radio’s page, and tune in tomorrow night.

I also have an array of wonderful people I want to thank today.

The first shout out goes to The Big Break Legacy, a reality T.V. show, for quoting Seconds Before Sunrise! Thank you for your support! The second goes out to Deborah Wong for nominating ShannonAThompson.com for the One Lovely Blog Award. I nominated Tune-In-NanaAj, So She Says, Fraser Sherman’s Blog, Author Dana Ellington Myles, and thedailyopine. Last but definitely not least, I have three fantastic book bloggers who reviewed Take Me Tomorrow the past 48 hours. (Please click the blog names to visit their full reviews and websites):

Southern Bred, Southern Read brought out the giggling author in me when they wrote, ” I personally would love to run into Noah anywhere… whoosh ya boy sounds dirty hot! He makes my cheeks blush and my eyebrows wiggle. *pulls out paper fan and cools off in true southern fashion*” But don’t worry. They got into the dangerous part in their review, so check it out!

The Book Spa spoke about the “refreshing take on the Dystopian genre…It has an interesting plot, is well written and is action packed.” And so is their review!

The latest review was written by The Incorrigible Reader, and she wrote, “If you are looking for an exciting story (and maybe a little romance)Take Me Tomorrow is an exciting read that I would highly recommend it.” Find out why in her full review!

Thank you to all of these wonderful people!

Unusual_work_habits_of_great_writersThe Unconventional Working Habits of Brilliant Writers

Creative geniuses are never linked to the ordinary habits normal people have. Their minds, their lifestyle and approach to work are completely different from what we would expect. Some of the world’s greatest writers had working routines that fell within our understanding of “normal”, but others had an approach that deviates from the picture we imagine when reading their novels.

Did you know that Ernest Hemingway wrote his lengthy novels while standing up? Maybe we should all try that sometimes and see if our minds would come close to being as genius as his. How would you imagine George Bernard Shaw working on his novels, plays and short stories? Vladimir Nabokov, Francis Scott Fitzgerald and Vladimir Nabokov had unusual approach to their work as well.

The belief of a “tormented genius” is more than a deviation from normality; it’s a state that has been reflected in the work and lifestyle of creative masterminds from the beginning of time. Great intelligence and creativity cannot be tamed within the boundaries of “normal”.

The following infographic created by NinjaEssays reveals the working strategies of some of the most brilliant writers throughout history. This information surely puts their work into a new perspective. 

When the Protagonist Dies

12 Oct

Announcements:

Zoe Mortez, an avid reader, reviewed Take Me Tomorrow on her blog, “When I’m about to flip over to the next page, my mind kept saying things that really determined me to read more and more and more until the last page of this story. I’ll be rating 5/5 for this book and it’s highly recommended for those who love Young Adult Dystopian Genre novels!” You can read the entire review by clicking here or check out Take Me Tomorrow by clicking here. Thank you, Zoe!

When the Protagonist Dies Introduction:

Shannon, here, but only for a minute. Today is a guest post, and as many of you know, I pick out guest bloggers by your activity right here on ShannonAThompson.com. This particular guest blogger commented on my post, Why Are Parents Dead in Fiction, and her comment struck me so much so that I just HAD to have her elaborate today. Cogpunk Steamscribe wrote about how death in fiction continues onto a whole new level during a protagonist’s death, and everything Lynne wrote can be found below. I hope you enjoy this discussion as much as I have!

When the Protagonist Dies … a response to ‘Why are Parents Dead in Fiction’ 

Spoiler & Trigger Alert! This is a post about books that have a main character who dies. As well, I’m avoiding John Green and his body of work in this discussion. I really don’t want to give away any spoilers. Most of the books in this discussion have been around for a while.

Shannon mentioned in her blog on that she wrote about absent parents or orphans because that was her experience growing up. Other writers want to throw their protagonists into situations where parents can’t interfere with the unfolding of the story. Disney really likes to take parents out of the situation so that the protagonist – or protagonists – is/are isolated, and this creates more drama and suspense and creates sympathy for the orphaned characters (think ‘Frozen’). When you want to ramp up an emotional response, kill off a parent or two.

But why stop there? Let’s take this one step further. Why not kill off the protagonist? Of course, there is a real risk when you kill off a protagonist that you will alienate the audience. But sometimes, in real life, people you love die. Why should literature ignore this?

The most famous examples of one of the protagonists dying in a Young Adult book is ‘The Bridge to Terabithia”, by Katherine Paterson. The author has openly admitted the book was inspired by the death of one the friends of her own child; she was writing from experience and from her heart. The book created a controversy when it first came out, as the topic of death was considered unsuitable for the target Young Adult audience. I don’t know why, when ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley is studied in schools, and the main protagonist dies in that book, so it isn’t like Katherine Paterson was reinventing the wheel.

Movie still provided by Cogpunk Steamscribe

Movie still provided by Cogpunk Steamscribe

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. The death of a protagonist or a main character has become a part of the tropes used in Young Adult Fiction.

The main character, Tris, dies in the final book in the Divergent series, ‘Allegiant’, by Veronica Roth. Both Bruno and Smuel die in the gas chambers in John Boyle’s ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’. In Morris Gleitzman’s ‘Then’, Felix has to watch his best friend Zelda die at the hands of the Nazis. As well, though the ending is ambiguous, ‘The Giver’ by Lois Lowry should be mentioned; I was certain Jonas and Gabriel were most certainly dying after finishing that book. All of these books are Young Adult, and none of them flinch away from the death of a main character or characters.

All of these books treated the deaths with honesty and respect. All of these books cover serious topics that are part of the human history, or analogies of the failings of human nature, and use death to highlight the points they are trying to make. The authors are trying to make people think. This is why all of these books have been banned at some point or another.

Not all books let death be the end of a character. Harry Potter, in ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’, dies as a major plot point, but then lives again. His death and rebirth made perfect sense as part of the plot, and wasn’t just used for dramatic effect. In ‘The Lovely Bones’ by Alice Sebold, the protagonist Susie narrates her own story even after her murder, as an entity from heaven. But these are more the exception than the rule, and aren’t the same kind of books as the others I have mentioned. As well, coming back from the dead is rather Hollywood’s set piece these days.

In the end, I don’t believe a writer should flinch away from the death of a protagonist or a main character, if that death is meaningful. Death is ugly, but like a shadow, it throws everything else into sharp relief. If you only ever paint with sunny and light colours, a painting is rather boring. If you only ever write about happy events, your writing will be bland. I’m not saying kill off your protagonist just for the hell of it, but don’t close yourself off to the possibility.

Bio: Lynne Lumsden Green has an addiction to learning that has seen her collect a B.A. in Creative Writing and a B.Sc. in Zoology. She runs Steampunk Sunday, Queensland Australia on Facebook, and writes the Cogpunk Steamscribe blog on WordPress. She has too many toys on her desk, but her excuse is they help ‘inspire’ her.

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