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Fiction Complaints I’m Complaining About

26 Jul

Announcements:

We had a very exciting day yesterday! Take Me Tomorrow hit the top 100 in dystopian novels! It was even next to two of my favorite novels, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, and Fracture Me by Tahereh Mafi so my little heart was filled with overwhelming joy.

65 in dystopian!

65 in dystopian!

Thank you for your support! Whether or not the sequel is released is entirely up to you, the readers and fans, so I hope you continue to check out my latest novel. (Because I really want to release the sequel!) Be sure to let me know if you post a review on your blog, so I can share it with everyone. Just email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

To celebrate, I finally uploaded the soundtrack of Take Me Tomorrow to my favorite music station, 8tracks, so you can check it out by clicking here.

In other news, I was interviewed by Diary of an Eager Reader, and you can read it by clicking here. We talk about my biggest challenges as a writer, but we also discussed Take Me Tomorrow if you want to read more about it! And if you want to interview me, again, I’m available at shannonathompson@aol.com. I love speaking with you! So please don’t hesitate to message me.

Fiction Complaints I’m Complaining About

We’ve all dealt with this. You’re interested in a novel, and you tiptoe over to Amazon to check it out. Once you read the synopsis, you scroll a little further (hesitantly, of course) to see what other readers are saying. That’s when you read “Best Book Ever!” and “I hate this piece of crap” right next to one another. Confusing? Yes. But even worse are the ones that don’t explain.

Today, I wanted to talk about my top fiction complaints that have left me staring at my screen a little too hard. I only hesitated to write about this because I’m an author, too, and I don’t want any reviewer to think I’m complaining about them. In fact – this might seem strange – but I don’t mind these complaints as an author. If I saw any of these on my books, it doesn’t bother me. After all, readers are allowed to say whatever they want. But it does bother me as a reader when I’m looking for book suggestions because the reviews suddenly become very difficult to sift through. That being said, I normally don’t buy books based on reviews. Generally, I read the synopsis, take a look at the first three chapters, and go from there, but I do find myself reading the reviews after I’m done reading, and these are the top complaints I see that I truly don’t understand:

I hate this genre

So…why did you pick it up? No. Seriously. I want to know. Did you think this would be an exception? Why did you think it would be an exception? Why did it not turn out to be an exception? I don’t necessarily mind this complaint if they answer these questions, but I hardly ever see that. I just see one or two stars and this single statement. This doesn’t help me decide if this book is good or bad or in-between or anything. It just tells me about your preference, which can get really confusing since genres can describe a wide range of stories. In fact, genres are normally only picked for marketing reasons.

I bought this book for are friends, and there not happy with it, so don’t waist you’re money.

Sigh. Seriously. ::facepalm:: This kind of review blows my mind – especially if they complain that the book wasn’t professionally edited.

Parent/s and/or sibling/s are dead (or absent)

Warning: longest rant to come:

I realize that there is an abundance of these instances, but of course there are. Someone is going to be dead or absent or mean or have some kind of conflicting problem. If a character’s family were perfect, how annoying would that be? (Not to mention that it would be entirely unrealistic.) I don’t know about you guys, but every person I’ve met isn’t perfect, including parents, and “imperfections” is generally why someone is interesting because it’s make them…you know…human.

When it comes to the young adult genre, I think it’s also important to remember that teen readers are in a time in their life where they are striving to be independent, so they probably don’t want to read a novel full of parental influence. Not that parental influence is a bad thing, but a teen might even look at a perfectly good parent as a bad parent just because they are teens. I know I was that way at one point, so if the book is told from their perspective that could be another reason this trend happens.

But I want to add this to the conversation: As a kid who went through the loss of a parent, gaining a stepfamily, and watching my dad get a divorce from said stepfamily, I am not special. I met dozens of teens that were also going through many of the same shifts I was going through. The divorce rate is currently 50%, and 1/7 people will lose a parent or a sibling before the age of 20, not to mention other issues families can have. But you still feel rather alone when you’re young, and seeing teens in books going through the same kind of struggles helps. That being said, I would like to see more books with both parents actively involved, but I wouldn’t complain about a book where a parent or sibling is absent whether it is physical or emotional because it happens often in real life.

Factually wrong information in general

We’ve all seen it. That one review that says something like, “This book is told in third person, and it’s really weird.” But when you open the sample novel up, it’s told in first person, and you’re sitting there, scratching your head as you seriously consider whether you forgot the definition of first and third person until you realize – nope, you’re not crazy. The reviewer put the review on the wrong book. Or – worse – they didn’t read the book at all.

There are too many boys/girls in the book

Why does their gender matter? As long as the characters are round – complicated and they are there for a reason – I could care less if they are boys or girls. I understand this complaint if it follows up with “every girl was falling in love with him for no reason” but I have seen someone mention exact numbers like, “there were 10 boys and 4 girls” without elaborating on WHY this was annoying…especially when the book takes place in an all-boys school or in some other instance where the extreme numbers make sense. Without mentioning a specific book, I did read a book about a boy character who had a lot of friends that were girls in which someone complained about it, but I didn’t understand, because the boy was raised by his mother and sister, so he was more comfortable around girls, and it made sense. I can relate to this. As a girl raised by my father and brother, I mainly had guy friends growing up. That doesn’t mean every single one of them felt romantic toward me. In fact, I was as attractive to them as a lamp would be – meaning, not at all – but I don’t see anything wrong with a boy having girls around him or a girl having guys around them as long as it makes sense to the story and isn’t an excuse to have an empty array of love interests.

(Insert controversial political or religious topic here)

Keep your politics out of fiction reviews unless the book is specifically about discussing them. I’m looking at you, anti-reviewers of erotica. (At least, this is where I see it the most.) I have nothing wrong with someone having specific beliefs about when a man or a woman or anyone has sex with someone, but don’t shove it down others’ throats by filling up erotica book reviews with “I only read romance novels when they’re married like you should be” when you haven’t read a single page of their book. It doesn’t help potential buyers, and it will probably only hurt your review ranking, especially if you’re – in fact – wrong because I have seen this on a book where the characters were married, but (I’m assuming) the reviewer was mass reviewing erotica novels because it was against their personal beliefs. Amazon should not be your political or religious platform UNLESS the book is slated toward that discussion. Then again – on the contrary – I see nothing wrong with someone reading and reviewing a novel and stating something along the lines like “this book will not appeal to readers who are uncomfortable with premarital sex.” Just don’t go mass searching for these novels just to put them down.

And finally –

Complaining about another’s complaint

Haha. Yes, I just did it to myself. I’m just as guilty as everyone else. I am here, talking about the types I hate, but here’s the truth – readers are allowed to review a book for whatever reason they want to review it as. There is no rule that states your review has to be detailed or helpful to someone else, but I do believe Amazon asks reviewers to be helpful (and definitely not spiteful.) But I am amazed sometimes by the amount of drama I’ve seen unfold on someone’s review by other reviewers. If you think it’s spiteful, please report it to Amazon or Goodreads, but yelling at one another is getting us nowhere. We all have different opinions. I’m sure I’ve written a 5-star review on a novel that another reader thought was so bad it was insane. For all I know, someone is writing on their blog right now and using my review as an example as what not to do. But that’s okay because we’re all allowed our own opinions. That’s the beauty of it all! Just try to back up your opinion with sincere criticism and encouragement.

So those are my top types of reviews that I cannot stand as a reader. What can I say? I meant to do five, but I kept typing. Have you ever seen a review complaint that you couldn’t believe? As a reader, do they ever sway you one way or another?

Feel free to share below!

~SAT

Enough is Enough. I am not ashamed that I read Manga.

6 Jul

Two announcements before I begin today’s post about reading Manga:

The Nerdy Girlie is giving away two journals along with an eBook of Minutes Before Sunset to one lucky winner. You can join the raffle until July 10 so click here, join, and good luck!

I’m also going to start putting the title at the top of my post after the separation between announcements and the articles, so they are easier if you don’t want to read my announcements. (But please do!) Being able to share my author life with you all means a lot to me, and your kind support is the extra boost of energy I need when the author life gets tousled around in chaotic troubles.

Enough is Enough. I am not ashamed that I read Manga.

So – originally – I was hoping to upload a new video to my YouTube Channel Coffee & Cats (since I haven’t in two months!) but I was unable to, so my plan didn’t work out, but I am planning on uploading a new video soon. That being said, I sat in front of my laptop last night, slightly panicking over which topic I wanted to talk about instead. If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know I’m a planner. I have dozens of pre-written blog posts for moments like this, but I just couldn’t share one of those today because I had this urge to share what is at the tip of my tongue, and that is Sailor Moon. If you didn’t know, a remake released last night all around the world. (And it was amazing!)

But Shannon, wait, you only blog about reading and writing…What does Sailor Moon have to do with that?

A lot…to me. Maybe not to you. But stay with me because I’ll explain everything soon.

You see – to me – Sailor Moon is more than just a silly cartoon that played in the 90’s. I still remember the first time I saw it. I was sitting on the floor in my grandparents’ living room, watching it on a little, old television that could be turned to black and white by opening a panel on the right side and twisting a knob. If you turned the knob too far, everything flickered to neon green. (I got a kick out of doing this!) After that first episode, I was hooked – or obsessed, however you want to say it.

Photo from Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal website

Photo from Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal website

At this point, you might still be wondering – Sailor Moon is a television show. Seriously, why are you blogging about this?

Because it has to do with some hard reading lessons I learned.

Sailor Moon, yes, started out as a television show for me, but I grew up, and it disappeared from daytime television shortly afterward. At some point during my preteen years, I remembered that show because I read Daughters of the Moon by Lynne Ewing (still one of my favorite YA series) and it reminded me of my once-loved show. So I went searching, and I found out it was a comic book. I did not know the word “manga” yet, and I definitely didn’t know how different (and more mature) the manga was compared to the show I watched as a kid. But I quickly learned after that.

I read every manga I could get my hands on. (And I hid this because I was embarrassed.) You see, I feel like manga has a worse reputation than reading YA as an adult – it’s something we should ashamed of. Adults don’t read cartoons. Teens shouldn’t read cartoons. That stuff is for kids. Blah. Blah. Blah. It goes on and on. And I will admit that I fell into this at one point. I even asked for gift receipts at the local bookstore because a clerk once said something about how he could never read something like that. What can I say? I was fourteen and impressionable. Now, that I’ve gotten over it, I can admit that I was embarrassed because I fell into reading bullying.

But enough is enough.

I like manga. I like it a lot. It’s currently one of my “go-to” reads, especially when I can’t afford novels (or the bookstore is closed because it’s two in the morning, and I need a break.) But I read it anyway. I read it because I like it.

I’ve only started admitting to reading it within the past year. Perhaps this is because I’m older, and I don’t see a reason to hide it anymore. (And now I’m ashamed that I hid it at all.) After all, grown adults read Spider-Man and go to the theatres to watch Iron Man – both of which are comic books – but I, somehow, convinced myself that manga was different, that it was childish and immature and weird.  And it’s not just me. When I started admitting to reading it, I had friends and family say the same things (ironically, as they were talking about the new Batman movie.) It was almost like Marvel and DC comic books are acceptable, but manga isn’t.

Manga is not weird or childish or immature or something we should be ashamed of. It’s just like everything else. It can have bad and good stories with great characters, mystical plots, and wonderful emotions.

To me, watching the new Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal last night reminded me of how strongly I feel about this subject. Even though it was an anime that I started with and not the manga, it turned me on to manga. (Warning. I’m about to fangirl like crazy.)

Seriously. If only Bogart looked like this.

Seriously. If only Bogart looked like this.

You see, Sailor Moon is more than Sailor Moon to me. It was independence. It was power. It was being graceful and strong at the same time. It was not relying on a man but also not hating on men. It was friendship AND love. It was wearing boots with heels on them. It was kicking ass, being equal, and finding strength within yourself while believing in the strengths of others around you.

Oh. And a black cat. (Seriously. If Bogart was female, he would’ve been named Luna.)

Stories are more than stories to fans. They make up intricate parts of ourselves and resonate in our every day lives as lessons, hopes, and dreams. No, my dream is not to wear a mini-skirt and fight the Dark Kingdom. But it is to be true to myself and fight whatever it takes to get there. To me, even though Usagi cries and whines at the beginning, she grows into herself and she always steps up to the challenge. Always. And she’s never selfish when it comes to her relationships with her various loved ones. (Unless you consider getting bad grades selfish…then, okay. I’ll give her that.)

So, go ahead – poke fun at the fact that I’m 23 and reading a manga or a comic book. You can’t hurt me. You can only hurt yourself but not giving various types of literature a chance. You might miss out a story that resonates with you for the rest of your life.

But if I had to be completely honest, the older I get, the more I don’t understand reading bullying. It’s pointless and destructive. Please don’t make fun of anyone for reading anything. Seriously. It is okay if a type of literature isn’t for you, but that doesn’t mean everyone else has to hate it. Read what you enjoy. Give new things a chance, and even if you don’t like it, don’t bully other readers. What if you bully the next J.K. Rowling, but that reader never becomes a writer because they are turned away from reading because of reader bullying? Let them read what they enjoy, and perhaps, you’ll both find new types you enjoy when you support one another.

~SAT

Everything I Learned From “Against YA” and More

7 Jun Illustration by Liana Finck, found via Slate article

Two announcements before my post:

T.B. Markinson’s debut novel, A Woman Lost, is on sale until June 11th. Only .99 cents. I really admire T.B. Markinson, so I hope you take the time to check out her novel by clicking here.

The eBook of Seconds Before Sunrise releases in 5 days! That’s right. Only 5 days. I cannot believe it. I plan on sharing more insights from The Timely Death Trilogy soon. (Actually, I wanted to today, but the upcoming topic is very important to me.) Feel free to check out my Pinterest board full of hints and surprises before I announce more information, and be sure to join the ebook extravaganza party on Facebook for your chance to win a Kindle.

Happy reading!

Two days ago, my Facebook and Twitter blew up with a giant pink picture of an Alice-in-Wonderland-Look-Alike. It is an image that came with a title I cringe at: Against YA: Adults should be embarrassed to read children’s books.Even worse? The subtitle is “Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children.”

This horrifying article I am about to discuss can be found here. Written by Ruth Graham (not by THE Ruth Graham, you know, the philanthropist, but by Ruth Graham of New Hampshire.)

Don’t know who she is?

According to her Twitter, she’s a “contributing writer to the Boston Globe’s Ideas section; freelancer out and about (Slate, the Atlantic…). Former editor (New York Sun, Domino).” Her website – Ruth Graham: Freelance Journalist – is actually right here on WordPress.

Why am I sharing this?

Because I think it’s important to understand the writer behind the piece. I was hoping that if I followed her, I would understand where her opinion derived from. I was desperate for a deeper understanding, a slight chance that she meant well when she clicked “publish” on her viral post, so I followed her Twitter feed yesterday. I learned a lot from the woman behind the chaotic arguments that consumed every social media outlet I can think of, and I thought I would share what I learned below.

This wasn’t good for my blood pressure. It probably won’t be for yours either. You have been warned.

1. “Also YA writers & agents asking if I think they shouldn’t do their jobs. Uh, no? Definitely keep doing your jobs!”

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It isn’t okay to read YA as an adult, but it’s definitely okay if you can make money off of it. Also, if you’re a YA author, make sure to tell your adult readers that if “they are substituting maudlin teen dramas for the complexity of great adult literature, then they are missing something.” This is because all YA novels are “uniformly satisfying” and completely unrealistic. Make sure your YA novel follows these standards because they are undoubtedly true. Every YA ending causes you to either weep or cry. Trust me on this. Graham explained how “emotional and moral ambiguity of adult fiction—of the real world—is nowhere in evidence in YA fiction.” Forget the fact that fiction is FICTION – not nonfiction. Adult fiction is a reflection of the real world and young adult fiction is a pleasurable escape from reality. Every. Time.

2. “Another mysterious thread today has been angry librarians & parents defending themselves for reading YA for professional/parenting reasons.”

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So mysterious. Readers actually want to defend a genre they read? Whoever thought readers actually cared about books? I definitely wouldn’t have expected teachers, librarians, and parents to defend novels they shared with their child. Weird. I would call Nancy Drew to get on the case, but I am a 22-year-old adult; therefore, I should no longer think of her as a viable reference to solving mysteries. But I do know this: parents should never read what their kids read. Knowing what their kid enjoys or trying to understand why their kid enjoys it is exactly why we have so many bad parents in this world. Librarians, too. Why should they spend more time trying to understand the marketplace? It’s not like it’s their job or something.

3. “I’m not saying I’m not pretentious at all, of course. But I’m definitely not the MOST pretentious. But trust me: There’s more pretentious stuff out there.”

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If you’re not the most pretentious, you’re okay. If you’re not the most mean-spirited or hateful or cruel, it’s also okay because there are worst people out there. In regards to reader shaming and reading snobbery, as long as you’re not the worst, it’s okay. Just put the disclaimer, “at the risk of sounding snobbish and joyless and old.” Follow that sentence with “we are better than this.” This will unify your reader and you while also distracting them from the fact that you don’t sound snobbish, joyless, old, or pretentious. You just sound like you want everyone else to be.

4. “I’m not at all opposed to guilty pleasures! I’m just arguing for some guilt along with the pleasure.”

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You can read YA as an adult, but you better feel damn guilty about it. You better feel so guilty that you ask for a gift receipt anytime you buy a YA book at your local bookstore so they won’t know you are the reader. Actually, get an eReader, so no one knows what you’re reading in public. Shame on you if you don’t feel any guilt. You could’ve spent that time reading real literature, preferably something with “Weird facts, astonishing sentences, deeply unfamiliar (to me) characters, and big ideas about time and space and science and love.” This is what Ruth Graham reads without any guilt, because she considers it literary, so you should, too.

5. “Working on something today that will make some people mad, wheeeeeeee!”

screenshot

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Rejoice in the fact that you can anger people. This means you’re an adult with important things to say. Angering people means you are, in fact, important, and you should be proud and happy to anger people. This is literature. This is what reading is all about.

Okay. So I may have gone a little overboard. My blood pressure is still too high, after all, but I had to respond. I had to point out the fact that this article was written, knowing how much it would anger the reading community, yet we allow it to go viral because it strikes a place in our reading hearts that HURTS.

We love to read what we love to read.

I am very passionate about changing our reading community to only encourage readers. In fact, I’ve written about this before in my blog post Readers Hating Other Readers, and – sadly – I doubt this will be my last time writing about this.

With a heavy heart, I want to conclude all of the emotions I have ever had about reader shaming:

Adults shouldn’t be embarrassed to read young adult fiction. No one should be embarrassed to read anything. Reader shaming is what we should be embarrassed of.

~SAT

P.S. If you’re a young adult fiction reader – no matter your age – I would love it if you read one of my novels. In fact, I will probably do a little dance of excitement if you do. I even share all reviews right here on ShannonAThompson.com. (If you’re boycotting Amazon, don’t worry. Also available on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.)

Click today!

Click today!

Marking Mother’s Day with Bookmarks

11 May

Special thanks goes out to Tony Jaa, actor and martial artist, for quoting my latest novel, Seconds Before Sunrise, on his official Twitter page. Known for Ong-BakFast and Furious 7, and his stunt work in the Mortal Kombat Annihilation, visit Tony Jaa on Twitter and Facebook.

tonyjaa

Check out my latest interview with Confessions of a Book Geek! I explained the specifics of my book covers, and I also invited five of my characters to lunch. It was a great time, so read it by clicking here.

Today is Mother’s Day – and as many of you know, my mother passed away very  suddenly when I was eleven years old. It’s not difficult for me to write about it necessarily, but there is this peculiar heaviness that happens on days like these. I say “peculiar” because it shifts every year. Sometimes, it is crushing, and other times, it is a wave, but it’s always sad. So I find myself doing what I do every year – and that is to find a way to celebrate her life and her love. And I did.

Bookmarks. 

She was the definition of an avid reader. In fact, when she passed, we donated most of her novels to a half-price bookstore, and they joked that an entire library – not a family – was donating. My mother was a library. We had these beautiful, tall oak bookshelves, and she layered the shelves with enormous collections of trinkets. (Hence why I always talk about trinkets.) But she also kept bookmarks, and I reflected on that today – thinking of what bookmarks have meant to me.

A Bookmark is a Memory:

asleep“This is where i fell asleep” is my oldest bookmark. It was my favorite when I was a kid. I believe I read all of the Dear America books and the Magic Tree House series with this bookmark slid in the pages. I even remember getting it at a book fair. (I think they were cheaper because of the grammatical error, but I’m not sure? I think the i” was definitely on purpose and probably didn’t go over well with parents.) ANYWAY – I loved animals, so this was perfect for me. It used to even have a little puppy attached to the top, but that didn’t last for very long [obviously]. I don’t use it anymore, but it sits on my shelf of accomplishments. (Yes, I have something as egotistical as a shelf of accomplishments ::sigh:: It’s how I stay motivated.) But this bookmark reminds me of childhood and how I lost myself and found myself in novels, whether it was my first You Choose the Story Scooby Doo books, Goosebumps, or The Journal of Scott Pendalton Collins: A World War 2 Soldier. (My favorite Dear America book.) This bookmark is a memory because this bookmark represents my childhood love for novels that continued into my adult life.

A Bookmark is a Friend

badass“i may appear harmless…but inside i’m completely badass” This is my current bookmark, and I love it so much. (And I also just realized the I have a thing for “i” being lowercased.) This bookmark was a gift I received from a wonderfully talented painter, and it brings a smile to my face anytime I open a book and read the words. Just as a friend does, it makes me laugh, smile, and enjoy the time ahead (in this case, a novel.) Also, who couldn’t love the phrase? If you still need coaxing, it’s a magnetic bookmark – so it never falls out. This is good for clumsy readers such as myself. And – once again – like a friend, it is prepared more than I am. It knows I’m clumsy, even before I remember I am. The fact that it is also a gift reminds me of how much a gift can warm a heart up, no matter how small it is. This bookmark is a friend because this bookmark reminds me of laughter and staying true to myself.

A Bookmark is a Lifetime

mom“A hundred years from now, the world may be different because I was important in the life of my child” This bookmark is the most important bookmark that I own. It was my mother’s, and she was actually using it when she died. I keep it in a memory box to keep it safe, but this bookmark reminds me of how much she loved her family and how much she believed in all of our futures. On the most difficult days – like Mother’s  Day – it shows me how she would still be encouraging me if she were still alive, and in a way, she does encourage me by leaving behind a bookmark like this one. I may not be able to live up to the bookmark. I may not be able to change the world in 100 years. But I can at least try to change the world around me by encouraging and helping others to follow their dreams just as my mother encouraged me to follow my dreams.

Bookmarks don’t only mark a stopping place in a novel. They can symbolize parts of life and remind us of all the strength and passion we have to live for.  For me, they mark places in my heart , but they also remind me of where I left off so I can begin again.

~SAT

How Desk Trinkets Can Inspire You

7 Apr

I added a YouTube page to this website, so you can catch up here as well as on YouTube. I am expecting to upload my next video soon, but I’ll always make an announcement. If you subscribe to my channel – Coffee and Cats – you can watch all of my videos one day early.

I know. I know. A desk can be a clattered mess, a scattered collection of book remains, an abyss of wonderment, the aftermath of a chaotic genius. Chances are your desk is already filled with pens, photographs, and paperwork. The last thing you need is more trinkets. Right?

Wrong. Every time I think this, I am wrong.

I love trinkets. I love trinkets too much. I do not think my love for trinkets will ever stop. And today I am sharing a few of mine that I haven’t shared before because they help me during my every day stresses and excitement. In other words, the little things remind me of the important stuff – the feelings that make me work harder and smile longer – and I hope you might consider adding a positive reminder to your desk and/or share the ones you already have.

My Tiger’s Eye Statue and Stone:

Fun fact: I’m obsessed with meanings behind things. Whether it is the meaning of a name or the meaning of a certain type of flower, I could spend hours reading about how certain labels came about. Tiger’s Eye is my favorite stone. They are beautiful, but they are also associated with protection and clarity. Below, you’ll see two Tiger’s Eyes that I keep on my desk. One is a stone I was gifted, and the other one is a statue of a coyote that a very kind woman carved for me after my husky passed away in 2007. These stones remind me of many things, such as my love for my dog, Shadow, but they mainly remind me of the clarity I believe in that I am doing the right thing by following my dream as well as the protection I receive from all of my loved ones, passed on and still alive.

coy

Willow Tree Statues:

Obviously, I have a thing for statues, but Willow Tree (Demdaco) is one of my favorite companies. These are two gifts I received which both happen to be by Willow Tree. The one on the left is known as the Mother and Daughter. I received this from my aunt right after my mother passed away. I have my mother’s bracelet draped around the statue, because I used to wear it every day until the clasp broke. I considered fixing it, but I almost lost it, so I decided to keep it on my desk instead. The one on the right is the Love of Learning. This was given to me as a birthday gift from a great friend who is actually in the acknowledgements of Minutes Before Sunset. She’s always been so supportive of my novels. In a way, both of these statues remind me of the loved ones in my life that support my dream as well as all of the love that surrounds me.

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Maneki Neko

And my latest one that I received yesterday from my aunt. As many of you know, I really want to travel to Japan one day. She was just over there, so she brought me back a Maneki Neko, a.k.a. Fortune Cat, Lucky Cat, etc. You can read more about it from this article: 5 Interesting Facts About Fortune Cats, but I am sure it will fit right next to my “All You Need is Love…And a Cat” paperweight.

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So do you have any trinkets that inspire you? How do they inspire you? Do you think trinkets can help you throughout the day? Do you think they can hold good luck or good fortune? Be sure to share your thoughts and stories below! You never know. Your good luck trinket might help you get picked out to be April’s guest blogger.

~SAT

How to Create a YouTube Channel and Video for Free

5 Apr

 First, I want to thank this beautiful couple for sending me this photo of them reading The Timely Death Trilogy together. They even posed as Jessica on the cover of Minutes Before Sunset and Eric on the cover of Seconds Before Sunrise. If you have a photo with any of my novels, please send it to me at shannonathompson@aol.com. It makes my day! (Even if it’s on your Kindle!) I will share it, your review, and your website if you would like.

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Seconds, The Examiner released 3-minutes book reviews: ‘Seconds Before Sunrise’ explores ‘chaos within destiny’. Lionel Green is a wordsmith, and his review reads beautifully, stating, “Thompson explores the humanity of Eric and Jessica so thoroughly in ‘Seconds Before Sunrise’ that the reader forgets the two teens are actually powerful supernatural beings. Thompson also understands no matter how inevitable destinies, fates and prophecies are, when love is introduced into the equation, chaos often ensues.” Read the entire review here. Spoiler alert.

Michael Noll at Read to Write Stories also released the interview I did with him. If you read his, “How to Write A Love Story” this is a wonderful extension. You can see why I chose Kansas as a setting as well as my advice for networking by clicking here.

I was actually going to post something else today, but I received so many emails from my fellow authors about my YouTube channel that I decided this was the most important topic I could possibly post about. I am here to help, after all, and I love it when I receive questions and suggestions for my blog because this blog is here to help and connect with you!

So, I am going to explain how I created my YouTube channel as well as the video I made. Granted, I am brand new at this, and I still have a lot that I want to improve on, but I can hopefully share some shortcuts, so you don’t have to spend as many hours researching as I did. I will explain iMovie, Photobooth, Pixlr, and many other aspects like creating an outro.

Step One: Creating the YouTube Channel 

I have a Google+, so all I had to do was log on that way and go to YouTube. After that, I went to the top, clicked on my name, and then My Channel. This post is where I started: Channel Art – YouTube: However, don’t download the template. It doesn’t fit. It is designed for T.V. viewing. I would suggest designing your YouTube channel art to fit for YouTube because it will adjust for everything else. Many artists suggest using Gimp, but that requires a download, so I used Pixlr Editor, which is completely free, and it doesn’t requite a download. You can use it to start off as a template, upload a photo, and then click “Edit, free transform” to size whatever picture to the size you need. During design, by aware of your thumbnail and the space on the right where your links will be. Most templates do not mention this, and it can cause you to take up more time because you’ll have to adjust it. As you can see, mine is designed so that you can see my face and links without anything getting blocked out too much. (I am planning on changing it.) Add your links via your Dashboard, because YouTube no longer allows videos to link to any websites outside of YouTube, so this will come in handy during your outro later on, and you cannot change your overall background. That’s no longer allowed in the 2014 version.

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Step Two: Creating Your Video 

I did not go out and buy a camera, although I am planning to. I just cannot afford that right now, and I think many can relate to that. So I used Photo Booth via my MacBook Pro. With the right lighting, this works. It isn’t perfect, of course, but it works if you’re on a small budget like I am. Record many versions of your video. Trust me: you want many recordings to work with later during editing.While shooting your movie, I am going to suggest that you include long pauses between sentences or topics, because this will help you when you’re editing. Be sure not to move your camera unless necessary because this will also help. I moved the movies to iMovie, which is also already on my MacBook Pro. I am a bit technologically confused, so I used How to Import Videos from Photo Booth to iMovie to do this. Then, I used How do I edit a video in iMovie to understand the basics. From there, I also knew I wanted a censor for my cursing, so I used this: iMovie censor effect. Once I was done with that, I knew I wanted an outro – like an intro but for the ending of your video. If you watch YouTube videos, then you know what this is. It’s that little box that shows previous films as well as links to other videos. To create this, I used How to Make an Outro. As you know, YouTube no longer allows you to link away from YouTube, so you’re going to be linking back to your channel, which is why you NEED those links to be on your home page. To add annotations I used the same video, How to Make an Outro, because he includes this at the end. Again, he uses GIMP, but you can create your own outro (instead of using a template) with Pixlr Editor.

My outro - without the previous video

My outro – without the previous video

Step Three: Upload Your Video and Share It

Believe it or not, this gets pretty complicated, because the visibility, sound, and everything else can get out of sync with YouTube requirements, so I used this: iMovie to YouTube Tutorial. I also used How to export in iMovie ’11 for uploading to YouTube, because it can matter what version you have, especially since YouTube changes their requirements a lot. Personally, I uploaded it as “Private” so I could add the annotations, and then I released it through “public” later. Be sure to add those SEO terms to your video as well as your channel, and connect it with your other sites, like Google+. This will help.

Now you have your video online. 

I know this was fast and a lot of information, but I hope it’s at least a starting place for your videos and channel.

In other news, thank you for your continuous support. As I said on my Facebook author page the other day, I’ve been struggling a lot due to my release. I have explained this before in One of my “Lows” as an Author. Although releases are always positive and uplifting, they take a tremendous amount of energy out of me, and it’s difficult for me to bounce back. But all of your love and encouragement has been helping me so much! I wish I could express my gratitude through this blog post but I could write about it forever. Instead, I just want to say that I love you all so much, and I am sending each and every one of you a hug through the internet today. Thank you.

~SAT

Amazon

 

Website Wonders

1 Apr

Welcome to April! Before I share those websites for writers, readers, and dreamers that I have collected in the last two months, I have two wonderful bits of new to share with you all.

Tranquil Dreams reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, but they also reviewed The City of Worms by Roy Huff, so you can check out two novels at once. “This novel sets the stage for the battle of Light and Dark and honestly, for the first time in my life, I’m behind the Dark.  I look forward to reading the next one a lot.” Find out why Tranquil Dreams said, “I totally recommend this one!” by clicking here

After checking that out, swing by my latest interview by clicking here. Mental Cheesecake asked me if I would prefer the powers of the Light or the Dark, what inspired the covers of The Timely Death Trilogy, and if I like Jace or Simon more in The Mortal Instruments.

Now – the website wonders: 

I wasn’t able to do this in February, so I’m including both February’s and March’s here. Below, the websites are organized by categories, including Great Reads, Business Help for Writers, Art Related to Books, Book-to-Movie Trailers, and Inspiration. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Great Reads:

14 year-old’s clever poem knocks Twitter backwards: I love this. Not only is it a great poem, but it’s relevant to today’s culture. It also shows off the great abilities of this young poet.

This Comic About Love Will Touch Your Heart: I thought this comic was a cute read. It sparked some debate among readers due to the subject matter of a breakup and a new relationship, but I think – if read for simple entertainment (which is what I think it was designed for) – it’s cute, sweet, and fun.

40 Freaking Creepy Ass Two Sentence Stories: I love horror. (American Horror Story is practically the only show I watch.) And these short stories gave me chills! You’ve been warned.

Business Help for Writers:

Amazon’s history should teach us to beware ‘friendly’ internet giants: As much as I love Amazon, I am afraid of any company gaining from a monopolized market. This article deals with the warnings of how this might be a future possibility and how we can prevent it.

8 Ways to be a Better Facebook Page Admin: This is great advice for anyone struggling with their business Facebook page. I used it, and my Facebook Page has been my number two referrer to my website (after search engines) for two months in a row.

A Facebook Change Authors Need to Know About: Again, this article is amazing. It will help enhance your views on your Facebook page.

Inside Amtrak’s (Absolutely Awesome) Plan to Give Free Rides to Writers: Amtrak called for writers to submit to this program, and I turned in my application a few days ago! It would be an unbelievable dream come true for them to pick me, but I hope the writers they pick enjoy it for all of us! I can’t wait to read what others write, even if I’m not chosen to travel in their program.

 Nine Writers And Publicists Tell All About Readings And Book Tours: I loved this because it shows the realities of what goes on behind the scenes, even for the most popular writers. A few years ago, I think it would be taboo for authors to share their true emotions about their dream profession, but it’s nice to see the acceptability of speaking truthfully about an author’s life.

Wait. A first person narrative isn’t serious???: By Nathan Bransford, I actually wrote a response to this article on my blog called It’s All About Perspective…Or Is It?. I loved what Bransford had to say about this narrative style because he proves how serious it can be, and I think it ultimately shows how much the industry is changing.

Art Related to Books:

Design Stack: Paper Jewelry: I thought these were beautiful, and they also made me wonder what my novel would be carved into. I would like to believe a tree necklace or a yin-yang symbol.

23 Epic Literary Love Tattoos: One of my favorite poems is in this collection of literary tattoos. I don’t have any tattoos, but I like looking at them. I find them to be quite inspirational.

Mind-Blowing LEGO Recreation of LOTR’s Helm’s Deep Battle: I grew up with LEGOS. I was crazy about LEGOS. My brother was worse than me. It wasn’t rare for one of my parents to step on our array of LEGOS. (We even had a LEGO camera) So I loved this LEGO town designed around Lord of the Rings.

Book-to-Movie Trailers:

The Giver Trailer: Meryl Streep Vs. Taylor Swift: I was so looking forward to The Giver movie adaptation (which I mentioned in my blog post 2014 Books to Movies, but this doesn’t even look close. Not even a little bit. Flying space ships? Oh, the nervous feelings I have. My heart might break for one of my favorite novels this August.

The Maze Runner (Official Trailer): Unlike The Giver, I am looking forward to this adaptation now that I’ve seen the trailer. It looks awesome.

Inspiration:

25 Romantic Words That Don’t Exist in English But Should: I find untranslatable words to be beautifully mysterious – like the gorgeous stranger you wish you had talked to that one night. (There’s probably a word in this list for that.)

24 Most Terrifying and Haunted Places You’d Never Want To Be In: Like I said, I’m a horror fan. This sort of stuff gets my heart going, and my heart gets my inspiration going.

Mugshots of Poets: I found this to be inspirational because it shows – again – the realities of some of the most famous writers of all time. Jack Kerouac is definitely in this list. (He’s one of my favorite authors of all time.)

Children Read To Shelter Cats To Soothe Them: I love cats. I love reading. This was amazing.

Again, I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did! I apologize for not sharing them in February, too, but I will share more. I always share these on my author Facebook page, so join me there. I can’t wait until my next blog post! I have exciting news coming. April is going to be an adventure.

~SAT

March Ketchup

30 Mar

Seeing as this is my second “Ketchup” post ever, I am amazed by how much I am falling in love with these. It’s a lot of fun to go back to analyze stats in order to figure out what you all found decided was the most popular. This helps me understand you all, and I think it also shows other bloggers what goes on behind the scenes here at ShannonAThompson.com. I’ll slowly be adding in more categories as I realize what will be the most helpful to everyone! Here is what I’m sharing this month: my big moments, top three blog posts, the one blog post I wish received more views, the rest of the blog posts, top referrer other than search engines, top searched term, and gains in followers, likes, and shares. I also included every website who has helped me this month.

Big Moments:

currentSeconds Before Sunrise released on March 27th, which is the moment every writer looks forward to, but after the release party, something amazing happened! My novels skyrocketed into the top 1,000 books in the Kindle Store. Your growing support is astounding, and I cannot wait to continue into the future with my next novels, including “Death Before Daylight” (book 3 of The Timely Death Trilogy.) If you want to start now, here’s a link to Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise.

Other big moments included actress, dancer, and director, Gracie Dzienny tweeting about my novels. I also found out my poem will be published in the first edition of LaLuna Magazine, so look out for more news on that coming in April.

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 Top Three Blog Posts:

1. Oh, yes. I Did Record a Video: I guess this means that I need to post more videos on my YouTube channel. I invited you to my launch party in all my nervous glory.

2. What’s Your Shade Name? And other Author Announcements: The shade name generator was possibly the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It’s also nice to know you all are interested in reading about my author life!

3. My Home Away From Home: This was a post I was nominated for, and I spoke about my favorite place to go. The post was also the anniversary of my mother’s death, and I shared how cemeteries bring me peace, even to this day.

The Post I Wish Got More Views:

Writing Tips: The Five Senses: This post actually got a lot of views, but I spent more time organizing and writing this blog post than the others. I analyze how to include the five senses in a novel, but I also ranked what I and other writers believed to be the easiest to the hardest sense to include. After that, I showed tallies from my own novels to display if my original thoughts were correct or not. I still believe this prompt is a fantastic (yes, time consuming but fantastic) prompt for all writers to try.

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Other Blog Posts: 

Below are the other blog posts I haven’t mentioned yet. They are organized into categories.

Writing:

My Writing Process Blog Tour: Nominated by Dan Thompson, I explained my writing process.

Why I Am Most Nervous About the Second Book of a Trilogy: Middle novels are often seen as transitional novels, and I fought that – hard.

What Changes from First Draft to Publication: I share my personal experiences in editing.

The After Party: The day after the release of Seconds Before Sunrise.

Reading:

The Controversy of Rating and Reviewing Novels: there’s a lot of argument going on between readers and writers. I discussed a few of the most common ones.

 So You Want to be a Book Blogger: Tips for setting up your book reviewing website.

Is that Novel REALLY Dystopian? How Market Trends Affect Incorrect Labeling: Novels are often mislabeled on purpose due to marketing strategies.

My top referrer other than search engines was my Facebook page.

My top referrer other than search engines was my Facebook page.

Other:

No Makeup Selfie Campaign for Cancer Research: I always take time to participate in important events like this.

Guest Post: The Passion – she is contagious: author, Sorin Suciu blogged about his passions.

The Oscars: Who I Want to Win This Year: I have to do fun posts every now and then.

And last, but definitely not least, I want to thank the websites who supported me this month by reviewing my novels, interviewing me, and featuring my work during this crazy fun month:

Reviewers: Fantasy is More FunLife With No PlotJust A Third Cultured KidThe Modest VergeWrite Out LoudA Reader’s ReviewCoffee Shop ReaderEnnlee’s Reading CornerPau’s CastlesChris PavesicThe Novel ListPress Pause, Fast ForwardBreathe Wild FlowerMental CheesecakeLife with no PlotEndless ReadingSo Little Books, So Little TimeFantasy is more Fun, and Tamara Morning.

Interviewers: Dan Thompson, A Reader’s Review, The Urge to Write, Writing Under Fire, and Desirable Purity.

Features: BIT’N Book Promoters, Paranormal Book Club, and Fantasy is More Fun,

I picked this picture because tonight is the Full Worm Moon. (by Free Photos and Wallpapers.)

I picked this picture because tonight is the Full Worm Moon. (by Free Photos and Wallpapers.)

The After Party

28 Mar

Yesterday was my official release date of Seconds Before Sunrise (now available on Amazon.) The virtual party was a great time – and if you weren’t there, we enjoyed a collection of shades, including 6 guards, 4 elders, 3 warriors, 1 student and 1 descendant during the What’s Your Shade Name? game. Eric even got a little dressed up:

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So, today is just about you guys and how wonderful you all are. Special thanks goes out to everyone who came to the celebration – all 338 of you – and I have a group of fantastic reviewers and interviewers that I want to thank below:

First, I must thank Dan Thompson for my latest interview. His questions were thought-provoking and engaged in ideas I haven’t had to answer during a review before. Learn if I believe in the paranormal and fate while reading about one of my recently revealed secrets by clicking here

After that, Jess and Sarah at The Mental Cheesecake held a meeting about Minutes Before Sunset, and they talked about how “many authors neglect to include the thoughts of characters in such a realistic and entertaining fashion. It’s exactly how our brains work while in conversation. We’re very rarely just listening: we watch their body language, judge what they’re saying, think things we would never say and debate over what to have for lunch at the same time.” Find out what they thought about the teens in The Timely Death Trilogy by clicking here. (You might also find out who was intimidated and why.)

Breathe Wild Flower also reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, stating “all I can say is that I enjoyed reading this book so incredibly much.” (But, really, she said a lot more than that, so check it out by clicking here.)

While this was happening, Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise made it onto the bookshelves at Fluente Designs Unique BoutiqueIf you like jewelry, purses, and other goods, check them out, too!

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So if you’re wondering about what bloggers are thinking about Seconds Before Sunrise, I have two more reviews! Remember how I shared a father’s review during my last blog post? His daughter reviewed it, too! And you can now read why she said, Seconds Before Sunrise has it all: Comedy; romance; action. You name it, this story is the real deal.” by clicking hereHer blog, Just a Third Cultured Kid, is definitely with the follow.

The Modest Verge also reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise, stating, “I wasn’t sure what would happen next. It was exciting. Both books full of moments like that.” Read the full review by clicking here.

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I hope you enjoy both books as much as these lovely reviewers did! Today, I’m shipping off paperbacks to the lucky winners. The future feels as great as the party was fun. I look forward to the next one, and I cannot wait to speak with you all live again. Moments like these are beyond exhilarating. They are encouraging, lovely, thoughtful, and fun!

So, thank you to all of the readers, writers, and dreamers who continue to support one another as we live our dreams. Thank you. 

~SAT

If you are interested in previewing my novels, click on these links to “Look Inside”

Minutes Before Sunset (book 1) & Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2)

Oh, yes. I Did Record a Video.

26 Mar

Before I share my latest video (and by latest, I mean first video in a year), I have great interviews and reviews to share, and I hope you check them out! All of these readers are fantastic, and their websites are always entertaining.

First, A Reader’s Review both interviewed me and reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise. An exclusive excerpt is included in the interview, and the review starts off with, “It has a compelling and addictive narrative which explores the elemental themes of good versus evil, love and self-sacrifice and fate versus free-will. All lovers of paranormal and fantasy romance are advised to check out this series so that they do not miss out on a fantastic reading experience.”

After that, Write Out Loud shared how his daughter and he have been reading The Timely Death Trilogy together, and that is just the most wonderful thing to hear! I love when people come together through their love for reading, and I am beyond honored that a father and daughter are reading my work together. You can read his review of Seconds Before Sunrise here, but here’s a sneak peek, “Over the last few years I’ve read too many books by older adult authors write cringe-worthy dialogue and I worried that young Thompson (who is only in her early twenties) wouldn’t be up to it.” Find out if his worries were confirmed or if I overcame them through my latest novel.

And last but not least, Coffee Shop Reader reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise, too. (So man reviews are pouring in!) What was her favorite quote? ““The fantasized kiss was stolen time from the dreams…” If you want to check out more quotes from Seconds Before Sunrise, click here, but click the link above to visit her wonderful review.

Now – onto my video:

Thanks for watching my video! I now have a YouTube channel, so feel free to subscribe. I will post more videos in the future, but – as of now – I am ready to PARTY! Can’t wait to see everyone there.

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If you are wanting to check out Minutes Before Sunset, click here. It’s only $3.89 right now, and Seconds Before Sunrise is also on Amazon. Feel free to read away. In preparation, I have torn my closet apart in order to dress like the books:

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And I’ve shared one of my secrets: I have a knife collection. Below is a photo I did when I was 17 that was inspired by The Timely Death Trilogy. That is my machete. And, yes, I’m fighting myself, and those pants are from Thailand. I believe I was 17 here.

1618571_647815161932335_1292444422_nDon’t worry – I won’t bring my machete to the party, but I will be dancing around in preparation.

See you tomorrow!

~SAT

P.S. Thank you so very, very, very much - sorry. I had to say it again. ;]

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