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#MondayBlogs: The Stigma of Writing Horror

23 Feb

Intro:

Monday brings us a new blog post by a new guest blogger.

Remember, if you want to guest blog, check out the information below this post, but be sure to read today’s post first! When author Alex Laybourne was asked why he chose to be a horror writer, he responded that horror chose him. Today, he is talking about the stigmas horror writers have to deal with in today’s market, but he goes much deeper than that, and his words are definitely worth the triumph in the end.

#MondayBlogs: The Stigma of Horror Writing

As a writer, I have found that there is a range of reactions that will come from that proclamation whenever anybody asks what I do. Sure, I have an office job, but I always respond with both of my jobs. Writing is, after all, a fulltime endeavour.

However, there is only one reaction that I get when people hear that I am a horror writer. It is usually accompanied by a slight step backwards, and they avert their gaze. Why? Well, I write horror. It must mean that I am about to try and murder them all for the sake of research. I mean, that is what I am, right? I am darkness. I must live in a basement where blood coats the walls and the screams of the damned are the lullaby upon which I drift off into the restful world of nightmares.

Blood of the Tainted ebook coverIn the modern world, writers are more and more approachable than ever, yet I still find that there is a stigma attached to being a horror writer. Maybe stigma is the wrong word, so let’s say that there is a certain level of expectation that comes with it.

To many people, horror is about blood, guts, and gore. What they know of horror is what they see in movies. Why is this? It is, in part, because people only think of slasher movies when they think of horror. Anything else seems to get the label of Psychological Thriller or some other titillating genre twist, which creates a feeling of expectant anticipation in the audience. Something that horror does not give.

Yet the truth behind it all is far different. We horror writers are no different than anybody else that puts ink to paper. We are no different than anybody else that goes to work in an office. Ok, our heads may be programmed in such a way that when we see certain things or hear certain snippets of a conversation we get ideas, but there are for plot and characters, rather than anything darker than that.

There is a very interesting wave of great horror writers out there at the moment, making waves in the indie scene and pushing the boundaries of genre to the limits and then some. I could throw around phrases like ‘ground breaking’ or ‘genre defining’ but I don’t wish to be labelled pretentious. All of these writers, these masters of the dark, are husbands or close to it. They are fathers and damned good ones. Hands on parents, too. They can be found watching cartoons or changing nappies (diapers) rather than hunching over Ouija boards, summoning the devil’s minions to help ensure their souls have the clean black gleam.

Sure, we write things that concern darkness, but what horror often gives, is hope. More often than not they are stories of triumph over adversity. Yes, we deal with the subjects that most people are afraid to think about. Yes, we take readers by the hand through nightmare worlds, but what we also do, is bring them out the other side. We help them face their fears; we allow readers, if only for a short time, to conquer their fears. Whether they do it by closing the book when it gets too much, or by reading it all in one sitting, they are standing up to what scares them, and not backing down.

The next time somebody tells you that they are a horror writer, remember that we slave just as hard over our words as the next Booker Prize nominee does. We have poured as much of ourselves into our work as any other author, and while it may never be a good idea to ask us what we are currently working on, never let the genre fool you. After all, it is nothing but a means by which bookstores can line their shelves. At the end of the day, genre means nothing.

I think it’s only fair that I end this with a quote from Stephen King.

“At parties, people usually approach the writer of horror fiction with a mixture of wonder and trepidation. … Most of us, you see, look and seem (and ARE) perfectly ordinary. We don’t drown houseguests in the bathtub, torture the children, or sacrifice the cat at midnight inside of a pentagram. There are no locked closets or screams from the cellar. Robert Bloch, author of Psycho, looks like a moderately successful used car salesman. Ray Bradbury bears an uncomfortable resemblance to Charles M. Shulz, creator of Peanuts.”

Me

Alex Laybourne

Bio:

Born and raised in the coastal English town Lowestoft, it should come as no surprise (to those that have the misfortune of knowing this place) that Alex Laybourne became a horror writer.

From an early age he attended schools which were at least 30 minutes’ drive away from his home, and so most of his free time was spent alone.

He claims to have been a writer as long as he can remember. With a wild and vivid imagination he finds it all too easy to just drift away into his own mind and explore the worlds he creates. It is a place where the conditions always seem to be just perfect for the cultivation of ideas, plots, scenes, characters and lines of dialogue

He is married and has four wonderful children; James, Logan, Ashleigh and Damon. His biggest dream for them is that they grow up, and spend their lives doing what makes them happy, whatever that is.

Links:

Blood of the Tainted (artwork by Richard van Ekeren)

Diaries of the Damned

Website

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

#WW The Reader’s Reaction

18 Feb

#WW The Reader’s Reaction:

I can admit the worst thing a reader ever wrote to me. It was 2007, I was 16, Golden Eagle Publishing had released my first novel, and Honesty Box was the hottest app on Facebook. My high school self was naïve enough to have one of these, and one day, I found myself staring at the message, “you are the bastardization of the English language.”

::blink blink::

I’ve tried not to think about this message often. In fact, I confess I’ve tried to completely kick it out of my mind – especially since I think it had more to do with high school bullying than anything notable. But the most common type of bullying I faced for writing a book in high school followed this script:

honesty-boxA fellow student would say, “Go write a book.”

Normally, I never responded, but sometimes I snapped and stupidly said, “I already did.”

Which almost always got, “Now, go write a good one.”

::sigh::

Perhaps, this affected me more than I would like to admit. A few months later, when I ran into issues with my publisher, I didn’t fight it much, and in turn, November Snow was taken off of the market. I can’t say I minded much. I think I was a little relieved. That’s probably why seven years passed between my first and second publication. Now that I’m 23, my coping skills have definitely grown.

Writers always get responses – both good and bad – and some days are more uplifting than others. Some days are even downright hilarious. Not in the mocking way, of course, but in the this-reader-could-be-my-best-friend sort of way. Some days, readers make your day, and other days, a reader’s comment inspires your next piece of work. Sometimes, they teach you by pointing out levels of confusion or confliction, and other times, they talk about how your work taught them something about life. The combination is a beautiful thing.

I have plenty of stories I wish I could tell you about all of the wonderful readers who have reviewed my novels, shared quotes, tweeted encouraging messages, and sent me an email just to explain their emotions – but the important part is how the uplifting readers always overcome the negative ones. I could share hundreds, but I would like to share a few to show types:

The Encouraging Reader:

Pau from Pau’s Castles recently read Death Before Daylight. In fact, she’s read all three books of The Timely Death Trilogy, and she even took the time to review them – and she goes even further. She LIVE tweeted to me about everything – her reactions, her jokes, her emotions (including how she squealed in the middle of class while reading), and her overall encouragement. Readers – WOW – you all make my entire life when you do this. I cannot begin to explain how delighted I feel when I am able to talk to readers and connect with them as friends. Joking about my own work with someone is surreal. The friendship between a reader and an author is unlike any other type of friendship I’ve ever had, but it brings me just as much love, comfort, and joy.

pau1

The Confused Reader that brings laughter into my overly serious writing life:

I want to clarify that this is not condescending laughter. This is more like a friend, even if the reader never knows it. I actually enjoy moments where readers have pointed out confusion or mislabeled something because it’s often something I (and many editors) overlooked. My most recent example came from numerous readers over Take Me Tomorrow. A few readers have compared the dictator, Wheston Phelps to Michael Phelps – the Olympic swimmer – instead of who I intended – Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church – and I’ve had a great giggle over that image-switch. If you’re one of the readers who thought of Michael Phelps instead of Fred, please don’t worry! I had a great giggle, and I feel like it’s more of an inside joke than anything else. Also, more people thought of Michael than Fred. (A handshake goes out to Just Another Girl and Her Books who pointed out many topics, including Fred Phelps, that went overlooked in Take Me Tomorrow. If you’re curious what the sequels might show, this review definitely foreshadows a lot of it).

The Critical Reader

And sometimes the negative can help me take a step back and laugh at myself. In fact, these have begun to remind me of my initial editing process. The clearest example I can think of was when my editor for Seconds Before Sunrise was going through the first chapter and saw, “Robb grabbed his plaid sh*t” instead of his shirt. Yep. That editing mistake happened. That’s embarrassing. And – trust me – I will never, EVER make that mistake again. Every time I write the word “shirt”, I will cringe. (And then, I will laugh uncontrollably).

Me as a Reader

I am a reader, too, and while I’m not everyone’s reader, my day is made when I tweet to an author and they actually tweet back to me. This recently happened to me when I sent a message to Stephen Collins, the graphic novelist of The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil. (Read it if you haven’t by the way)! It was literal Christmas for me.

Stephen

No matter how many readers authors come in contact with, I think we can find ourselves in their reviews, but more importantly, we connect with friends. To think that I might be able to bring joy to a reader in the way Stephen Collins brought joy to me, fills me with a lot of hope and understanding that I didn’t have when I was 16. I am very grateful for all the readers who have helped me grow since then, and I continue to love my readers more than anything else. It’s also nice to have reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble instead of Honesty Box.

~SAT

A big shout-out goes out to Charles E. Yallowitz for posting my guest article – Balancing the Editor’s Life with an Author’s Dream – on Legends of Windemere. Check his website out by clicking the link! In my article, I discuss balancing my life as an editor and an author, and I hope you enjoy the read.

I also want to give a gigantic shout-out to JK and CK from House Kelley! About one month ago, this wonderful couple guided me to Clean Teen Publishing, and I thank them for their guidance. Check their writing out, say hi, give them a big hug, and write with them. They are fantastic.

#MondayBlogs: Writing Relatable Teens

16 Feb

Intro:

What better way to start off the week than with a great guest post from YA author, Ava Bloomfield? Writing is a complicated journey, but with Ava’s help, everyone can create believable teen characters. Feel free to share your tips in the comments below!

Writing Relatable Teens

Nobody wants to grow up. We learned that in Peter Pan. So how does an adult write a relatable YA character? How does anyone write a relatable character?

It’s a subjective thing; we all know that. It’s impossible to wholly judge a character for their realism while we go about our particular lives, with our particular experiences, in our particular way. It fits that novel writing is such a personal process, in that context; our characters are born from us after all.

AvaSo what makes Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower just as ‘relatable’ as, say, Bella Swan from Twilight?

Some argue those two aren’t remotely comparable. Some would say they’re too different; one is ‘deep’ and one is…well, Bella Swan. It’s all subjective anyway, so how do you guarantee you’ll write a Charlie and not a Bella?

The answer is simply that it depends on the journey, not the character itself. We can relate to almost anything if the underlying themes ring true to its audience.

While Charlie is coming of age, Bella is experience her first love. Or infatuation. Whatever you call it, there are inferences to be drawn. Just because Perks examines abuse and mental health issues doesn’t mean that Twilight’s love story is a vacuous waste of time by comparison. Didn’t Jane tell an unconventional love story with Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre?

Granted, Meyer doesn’t hold a candle to Charlotte Bronte.

But when we put the calibre of any particular writer aside, it’s easy to see that there’s room for any variation on topic. It’s how the writer weaves their message through a character that makes them believable, relatable.

Characters in YA aren’t just reflections of ourselves, or unfathomable things we just dreamed up one day. They’re extensions of ourselves. Teen characters are ghosts of our past, holding hands with today. In my experience, the whole process of writing about a young character is as familiar as it is daunting. We set out to write about a ‘real’ teenager, with battles to face, and through their development we thread together the fragments of our experience.

That ‘thread’ I’m talking about is a sensation that never leaves us. It’s the sensation of being on the cusp of adulthood, unprepared; plunged utterly defenseless into the wolf-pit that is the world. And it’s that thread that binds the YA writer with their characters and entwines them; it’s a natural occurrence. It’s necessary. It’s our link with our former selves, however near or far that is.

But therein lays the opportunity for disaster. By the logic of what I’ve just described, writing YA characters would be purely therapeutic. We’d confront our demons and wrap things up neatly in the end. We’d snuff out conflict in a way we never could in the real world, because we’ve walked that path before. And that’s not realistic at all.

Teen characters have to be monumental screw-ups in one fashion or another. They’re the lessons we wish we’d learned, failing all over again. There’s nothing palatable about success without sacrifice, is there? It’s as true for the protagonist as it is for the writer.

To write an authentic teenager, we give away the depths of what makes us who we are today. It’s not slaying the demon that wins the battle for any YA character; it’s the metamorphosis they experience on their journey. It’s the awareness that they aren’t the same person they were before.

And you, the writer, will have experienced it with them.

Charlie from Perks wasn’t the same come the end. Bella from Twilight wasn’t the same either. It’s all in the journey. It’s in the believability of their transformation.

The reader will experience that metamorphosis and evolve. The writer connects with its reader by way of character. Within that thread of experience, binding it all, is a common vein we share.

Isn’t that why we read YA, after all? It’s more than just an escape, and it’s certainly more than nostalgia. It’s a way of holding hands. It’s a way of saying, ‘I hear you’ that transcends any other medium.

Writing a relatable teen character is like shouting your deepest secrets into the void and waiting for them to echo back to you. Just know you’re not the only one listening out for it.

Bio:

Ava Bloomfield lives by the sea with her partner Matt and their Scottish Terrier, Sputnik. When she’s not busy with her day job as a transcriber, Ava can be found rummaging in charity shops for hidden treasure, mooching about in her local library, or writing her next novel.

Ava writes stand alone books about angsty teenagers. Check out: Honest, All Girls Cry, Leap and Beyond on Goodreads.

Ways of chumming up to Ava: TwitterBlog.

Alternatively, send her a psychic message over the cosmos. She’s not quite tuned into it yet, but she’s certain it’ll happen any day now.

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. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#WW Huzzah! I Have A New Publisher

11 Feb

Huzzah! I Have A New Publisher

The day has come! If you follow me on Facebook, I promised today would be the day I announce the future. Let me start off by first saying something so cliché, we all know it is true: I couldn’t have done this without you.

Really. I couldn’t have. In fact, it was one of you who helped me connect with my new publisher.

That’s right. If you haven’t guessed from the title, I have signed with Clean Teen Publishing. I am unbelievably grateful for this talented and passionate group of people taking me in, and I look forward to the future more than ever before! The Timely Death Trilogy will be re-released this summer and fall, and I will keep everyone updated as the books receive new covers, new sneak peeks, and more!

::dancesaroundmylittleoffice::

I cannot contain the excitement long enough to write a comprehensible declaration of admiration, but here is the official Clean Teen Publishing Press Release.

Facebook Banner 9-17-14

Check out these novels from Clean Teen Publishing!

Fine Lines

Fine Lines

If you’re searching for the second announcement I promised to make today, don’t fret! I haven’t forgotten. My personal essay – Nowhere – was published in the winter edition of the literary magazine, Fine Lines! This has also been one of the most wonderful moments of my writing life recently because I’ve always wanted to get a piece of nonfiction published. This is one of my “bucket list” writing goals, so to speak, so look out for more information on that as well.

::takeshugebreath:: (I sometimes forget to breathe when I get excited).

Oh, what an emotional month this has been. A little over a month ago, I shared I Lost My Publisher with you, and I wrote this:

“I am thankful I had the opportunity to share stories with the world, and I will never forget the readers and writers I’ve met along the way. I can only dream of ever meeting this surreal reality again – not as a future fantasy or a broken past – but as my writer life reborn.”

Now, one month later, I am here to write a follow-up: This is my rebirth, and you all have brought me to this moment. If I could hug you all, I would, and hopefully, I’ll get the chance to meet you one day. Until then, I am proud to announce I am continuing this writing dream of mine, and I am grateful to have your support and encouragement along the way. You will always be the ink in my pen.

I love you all,

~SAT

For more updates, connect with my new publisher on their Website, Facebook, & Twitter.

#MondayBlogs: The Merits of Fan Fiction

9 Feb

Intro:

With Monday’s arrival, we meet another guest blogger. Today is brought to you by S.A. Starcevic, the writer behind the website Bookshelf of Doom. As an aspiring author, Starcevic shares his thoughts on writing and publishing often, and today is no exception. He is talking about Fan Fiction, a type of writing that is debated regularly, so feel free to share your thoughts over this controversial writing style in the comments below!

The Merits of Fan Fiction

I have a confession. Like a lot of authors, I started writing as a way to reimagine characters from much-loved books and TV shows in fresh and interesting scenarios. Nothing was ever published (thank God), and I quickly abandoned the exercise. Why?

It felt like cheating.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was taking the easy way out – which, now that I think about it, it probably is because I’ve always had lofty dreams of writing a bestseller and sitting cosily alongside other authors whose work I adore on the NYT Bestseller List. As such, writing has never been just a hobby, meaning I always had publication* in mind. Even as a kid, I wrote the way an accountant crunches numbers – as a professional pursuit. Oh, it was also incredibly fun and satisfying, but those authors who labour over a first draft, submit the story to a publisher, and then sit back while the trained publicists do all the promotion? Yeah, I’m not like them. I actually find the marketing and publishing process more fun than the writing itself.

*(Fan fiction cannot be published. Ever. Making money off somebody else’s world is not just a breach of copyright, it’s morally reprehensible.)

Cassandra Clare was catapulted into the Holy Grail of movie deals with her YA series. Amazingly, she started out writing Harry Potter fan fiction - some of which is still floating around the internet today.

Cassandra Clare was catapulted into the Holy Grail of movie deals with her YA series. Amazingly, she started out writing Harry Potter fan fiction – some of which is still floating around the internet today.

I know a lot of people scoff at fan fiction authors, which is silly, because some of the most talented writers of our age cut their teeth on sites like Wattpad and Fan Fiction Net. The majority of fan fiction is terrible, and that’s OK too, because for a lot of teens (and adults too!) who are just tentatively beginning to write, having an established setting and a cast of characters to draw upon is kind of like a crutch. It allows them to develop their voice, test what style suits them, and receive feedback from readers who won’t judge or criticise.

I don’t read fan fiction. I think it’s an important foothold in the writing industry, and authors shouldn’t resent it, because a lot of fan fiction authors are actually fans who love their work and will happily buy their stuff at a bookstore. However, I just can’t stomach the grievous spelling mistakes and clunky sentence syntax. Sorry.

That said, if you want to use Untouchable as a foundation to write your own worlds and stories, knock yourself out. Just don’t plagiarise, because then I’d have to release the hounds. And by hounds, I mean lawyers. Lawyers who are the equivalent of rabid Rottweilers.

Ahem.

Bio:

At age 10, Seb wrote his first novel and convinced himself it was going to be a bestseller. Spoiler: It wasn’t. Since then, he’s dreamed of being a great many things, such as: historian, writer, editor, and paleontologist. While he is none of those things, he still retains a childish fascination with dinosaurs, and can be found agonizing over correct comma usage. Nowadays, he lives out his editor fantasies through the Corner Club Press, and dreams of the day he finally finishes a novel. In the meantime, he posts about writing and other assorted nonsense here, and is currently querying his superhero story, Untouchable. Oh, and he’s still in high school.

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. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#WW The Greatest Conversation All Authors Have

4 Feb

Please donate if you can – I am hoping The Timely Death Trilogy can get new covers so that they can appeal to new audiences! You will also receive a personalized picture of Bogart the cat, and I will mention you right here on ShannonAThompson.com if you want your website shared. :] Just click the link and check your email! Thank you so much for your continuous support!

#WW: The Greatest Conversation All Authors Have

I don’t go out in public often. I like to believe this isn’t uncommon in the world of authorship. Even if authors have free time, it generally becomes devoted to typing away fantasies on our laptops. Because of this, I am home. A lot. Or in a café. By myself. (Free Wi-Fi, right?)

But every now and then, a friend is having a going away party or a birthday party or a graduation party or some other kind of get-together celebration I find myself attending. And yes, I’m the cliché chick in the corner, not talking to anyone, who oddly attracts someone’s curious attention as to why I’m standing in the corner. “People watching” is my go-to answer, but eventually, the question “what do you do?” comes up, and all hell breaks lose.

Yes. Yes. I’m an author. Now, let’s chat about it.

My party depiction

My party depiction

When you say, “That should be your next book.”

This sentence generally comes up when you’ve heard an interesting story – possibly on the news, from a friend, or…in a book. The fact that it already exists should hint that I can’t write it, but I’ll probably just say, “Yeah.”

When you continue with, “I should be in that book – your next book, right?”

No. Please, no. I’ll only offend you – either by detailed descriptions or impending doom. That’s honestly the only thing I could do with you (probably because I just met you, so I don’t know enough to truly base a character off of you, even if I wanted to). But I’ll probably just say, “If you don’t mind dying.” Sometimes – and these moments are rare due to my collection of odd character names – I already have a novel with your name in it.

That’s when you ask, “You already have a character in your book named after me?”

Well, no. Not technically. You two share the same name. Kind of like the barista that shares your mother’s name on her nametag. Doesn’t mean they’re the same person. Or based off of one another. It just means Laura was a popular name that summer.

When you ask, “Do I die?”

::sigh:: Again, the character is not you. They’re not based on you. They…Never mind. I’ll say, “Probably.”

When you reply, “You suck.” Followed by sarcastic laughter.

I say, “I know.” Followed by sarcastic laughter.

When you continue with, “Why do authors always have to kill off characters? And it’s always my favorite characters, too. I mean, they kill villains all the time, but I kind of like the villains…”

I might cut you off because I love, love, love talking about my undying love for villains, but if I fail – which I probably will – I’ll probably just nod in agreement. Authors know they’re terrible. We create imaginary friends for you to love and cherish, only to take them away. But it’s necessary. If nothing happened to any of the characters, then…well, you wouldn’t have a bunch of stories to talk about. Libraries would be collections of happy, non-dramatic anthologies of extraneous giddiness.

In the end, when you say, “This has been an awesome conversation.”

You know what? It has been. Thanks for chatting with me. Even if I held back, it was mainly out of my own…well, chaotic confusion I’ve built up in my own mind. You probably wouldn’t have been offended if I killed your character off, but I came up with that scenario because…well, authors spend a lot of time in their own heads imagining the next scene. This often bleeds over into real life, which causes those awkward pauses I’m extremely sorry for. I’m simply thinking too much. But if it’s any compensation, I was probably concocting my next novel from whatever you just said – so, in a way, you are in my next book.

Thanks for talking with me.

I mean it.

~SAT

Please donate if you can – I am hoping The Timely Death Trilogy can get new covers so that they can appeal to new audiences! You will also receive a personalized picture of Bogart the cat, and I will mention you right here on ShannonAThompson.com if you want your website shared. :] Just click the link and check your email! Thank you so much for your continuous support!

#MondayBlogs: The Importance of Setting in a Novel

2 Feb

Intro:

Monday has reached us again, and today brings us another guest blogger. Today, I am pleased to announce Tara Mayoros, author of Broken Smiles. This well-traveled writer has written a wonderful post about the importance of setting in a novel, and her writing tips are sure to stay with us the next time we pick a location for our stories.

The Importance of Setting in a Novel 

Write what you know. How many times have I heard that? Oh man, probably at every conference I have ever gone to, multiple times.

know setting.

Long before I was ever an author, I would surround myself in settings which filled my soul with wonder. I would cover my limbs and face with autumn leaves to feel the smell. I would spend many nights under the stars, listening to the scurrying of little animals and the sounds of wind applauding my appreciation through the trees. The stillness would settle in my heart and when I began to bring pen and paper with me to different settings, my world became magical.

To me, setting should breathe like a character. It isn’t just streets, buildings, and names of towns — it is the lifeblood which weaves your characters and plot together. It shouldn’t be tacked in, but rather an integral part of the story. It grounds the reader.

It should also ground the author. The author carries the responsibility to bring details that are often overlooked. Especially, in my opinion, when it comes to nature.

Image-3

Pilot and Index Peak – Cooke City, Montana

Recently, I returned from a long trip through Montana and Yellowstone. I have visited many times and even lived there at one point. Those wild, rustic places are some of my favorite spots in the world and I felt the heavy burden to show my love for it in one of my novels. I hadn’t been up there for over a dozen years and I started creating the setting for my novel through memory. When I had finished my book, I was satisfied. But something tugged at me to visit those places again. Either my wild heart, or the pull to immerse myself in those mountains.

Arming myself with laptop, pens and journals, I was ready to take my story to battle and add details that were missing and change a few things. I was surprised when I came home and realized that I had never even written one word when I had surrounded myself in the nature I so dearly love. Why? It wasn’t a conscious decision by any means, but looking back, my body and soul yearned to feel the lifeblood of the setting. I didn’t need to muddle it with words, I needed to experience it and let the setting wash through me.

In this world where setting and placement are so often overlooked or replaced with handheld devices that capture our attention, authors need to work harder to ground the reader. We need to scream at our readers to notice detail. It breaks my heart every time I see someone surrounded by stunning scenery and their faces are aglow with the pale light of a handheld device.

Here are a few ways you can bring your setting to life in your novel, followed by some examples I have written.

*Be specific – it isn’t only a flower, describe the details. example: The vibrant purple petals stretched beneath an indigo hat which drooped over a white lip and a yellow bearded pouch.(Calypso Orchid)

*Sprinkle in similes and metaphors to connect – example: His temper was like a loose cannon. It could explode at any given time and I would be the set target.

*Use the senses; sight, sound, smell, taste, feel – This one is huge! I love to incorporate the senses. – example: My stomach was empty, which was good, because the smell hit me, and I heaved once more against the vacant remains of my belly. The putrid, decaying stench of rotten flesh made my eyes water.

*Show, don’t tell – instead of stating that its raining, describe the dripping trees, the puddles gathering in the crevices of rock, and the pattering on tin resembling tinkling bells.

Here is an excerpt from my novel contemporary clean romance Broken Smiles. The setting is in China, another one of my favorite places. I hope you can feel my love for it as you read my words.

Here and there rocks were covered with ancient moss. Orchids blossomed spontaneously upon the trees. Vines hung like ropes and twine, twisting upon the rubber and the banyan trees. Bamboo stood proudly against the moonlight, casting shadows that had been the same for thousands of years. Away from big city lights and pollution, it was easy to be transported back in time to ancient China. This land had managed to remain untouched throughout the different emperors and dynasties. As they walked, they passed a small ancient graveyard built against the hillside. The limestone shrines glowed mysteriously in the moonlight. Chinese characters and mini-sculptures were carved in the pale rock. Incense smoldered on the top of an old gravestone…

Thanks for stopping by –

Tara Mayoros

Bio:

As a child, Tara Mayoros moved to Asia with her family where her love of different cultures and travel began. In college she satisfied her wanderlust by moving back to China, filling her head with countless stories, and occasionally writing them down.

Years, marriage, children and many adventures later, she picked up her dusty pen and paper (or laptop) and realized that writing took her to different worlds and gave her the experiences that she yearned for. As an author, artist, baker, music teacher, gardener, and nature lover – she sees the beauty in the process, and the miracle, of creation. The Rocky Mountains are her home and they call to her whenever she finds herself in need of inspiration.

Connect with her: Website, FacebookAmazon, Twitter.

Want to be a guest blogger? Wonderful! I am accepting guest posts that focus on reading and writing. You are allowed a book link in the post as well as in your bio. A picture and a bio are encouraged. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

~SAT

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