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#WW How I Became A Full-Time Editor

10 Feb

I love blogging (obvs.), but I love it even more when my readers suggest a topic for me to cover. Today is one of those days. The Uncommon Cliche asked me to write about how I became a full-time editor, and well, here I am to tell you.

Long story short: I fell into it.

I know. I know. That’s probably not the answer you were wanting, but don’t fret. I still have tips for everyone set on doing what I do. It’s a lot of fun, after all! (But also a lot of hard work.)

First and foremost, you should love to read, because you’re going to be reading a lot. (And that’s not including your free reading time.) In fact, I spend most of my life reading. I read at work and I read when I get off. It’s a passion of mine. So much so that I found myself reading articles about reading. You could say it’s an obsession. This little obsession of mine eventually pushed me into writing, and writing taught me some harsh lessons about grammar. Harsh, public lessons. This is when I became obsessed with not only reading and writing, but also grammar and punctuation. I wanted to get as much as I could get right, and I wanted to learn even more after that. I wanted to be a professional, and then, I realized I could help others be professional, too.

My initial experiences with editing happened in college. I was an English major, and for some reason, everyone seems to think English majors understand grammar…even though they don’t teach you grammar in college. You’re expected to already know it. All of it. So, in a way, being an English major forced me to hustle, and I learned in order to pass. This put me in a place to help fellow students with their papers, and eventually, reading others’ works became a regular, everyday thing. On the side, I started a blog for fun, but this is important. Remember this. I mainly shared writing tips and book reviews, and four months into it, I decided I wanted to pursue publication.

My cats help me edit, too.

My cats help me edit, too.

Move ahead to my senior year of college, and I sign with a small publisher. This upped the stakes. Now it wasn’t grades on papers. It was readers and their reviews for products people purchased. On top of that, it was a totally different type of editing with a new demand. As an author, I tried, made mistakes, tried again, and learned. I adjusted. I did what I had to do, and I worked with other editors to learn the more complicated aspects. If an editor wants to take you under his or her pen (er…wing), do it. Offer to be a proofreader or even a beta reader. Practice. Then practice some more. Learn as much as you can. Buy a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style. Study it. Study it again. Follow Grammar Girl and other grammar-related blogs. Talk to as many editors and authors and publishers as you can about what it takes and what they know. Most people are willing to help you, and there’s always something new to learn.

When I first started, it was by accident. I was helping authors at my publishing company, and the publisher happened to expand. They needed a proofreader, and I took the gig. I did that for over a year before we went our separate ways and I started my own editing services. (I did this after many hours of research on appropriate pricing for my personal goals and such.) I launched my services via my website, a website I started three years prior. (Told you to remember that.) If you’re doing this independently, have a platform, and if you’re working toward doing this independently, start a platform now. Set your goals, research your audience, and move forward.

In my case, I’m still half of the industry standard. Why? Because I went into this knowing I wanted to give Indie authors a bigger chance. I mainly wanted to create a place for people to go if a previous editor didn’t turn out to be all they were cracked up to be. The other aspect I decided to focus on was having “no limits.” While many editors do, I don’t deny work because of controversial topics or scenes. I’m not here to judge; I’m here to edit. I understood the market and the average buyer’s budget, and I set out to help them.

I make just enough for me, and I’m happy. I love reading the works of my fellow writers, and I love it even more when I see the readers fall in love with their work too.

Being an editor isn’t easy. My eyes hurt, my wrists ache, and my migraines stay well into the night. But it’s worth it in the end…especially when you love to read.

~SAT

If you follow my newsletter, you just received an exclusive sneak peek of Bad BloodsFor future opportunities, sign up today by clicking herenewsletter

My weekly Twitter series #AuthorinaCoffeeShop will take place this THURSDAY at 7 PM CDT, since I’ll be out of town on Friday. I hope to see you then!

Come get your books signed on February 13, from 1-3 PM during the Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas at Bradley Fair. Come meet Tamara GranthamCandice Gilmer,, Jan Schliesman, and Angi Morgan! If you haven’t started The Timely Death Trilogy, don’t worry. Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, is free!

attempt5

Minutes Before Sunset, book 1:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrisebook 2:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylightbook 3:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

#WritingTips Choosing a Setting

1 Feb

Every Monday, I recover previous posts that were popular, but I tackle them in a whole new way. Today, I’m covering how to choose a setting for your novel or poem or short story or whatever you’re writing. The original post, Setting: Picking a Location, can be read by clicking the link, and it covers other aspects to keep in mind, but today, I only want to tackle two ideas: real-world settings and imaginary ones.

1. Real-World Settings: Write What You Know or Research

When you’re writing about a place in the real world, you honestly have two options: write what you know or write after you research extensively. This is especially true if you’re writing a historical piece, but that’s a completely different topic to cover, so I’m basically talking about the here and now. If you’re making a decision, don’t pick what is easiest. Instead, pick what is right for your story. In fact, you might have to write your story’s first draft to realize what type of setting you need, and that’s perfectly okay. As long as you figure out what you need and where you need to go, do it the way that feels right to you as a writer. But once you know what you need, you can start researching. I always suggest considering places you already know, but I am probably biased because I moved all around the country as a kid, so I have a plethora of places to consider. That being said, you can always travel too, but please don’t think you MUST travel in order to write about a place. While Ally Carter does travel a lot—and bases many of her books on those places—she also says, “I try and try and try to get people to believe me when I say that my job is basically looking at a whiteboard covered with sticky notes and/or a computer and/or big stacks of paper all day long.” This is how picking a setting (or any part of your novel) is going to go. Research and think and research again. Even better? Research is SO easy nowadays. You can even talk to someone from that exact location if you want to. All you have to do is join a forum. One thing I’ve always loved is pretending I’m moving there. (If I play “your life is about to change dramatically,” it forces me to take it very, very seriously.) Look at the setting via Google Maps, read a travel guide, research schools, check out the town’s official website, talk to people who live there or have in the least been there. You can do it. Look at it this way, if you can spend months writing about it, you can take a week or three reading about it. One of my favorite tools—even just for fun reading—is Earth Album. You just click, and voila! Pictures of the location and the name, so you can start Googling. If you click on the picture too, it will generally send you to the source of the image so you can research it in-depth. It’s a good place to start.

A screenshot of Earth Album

A screenshot of Earth Album

Fun fact: Although not a real town, Haysworth, Kansas in The Timely Death Trilogy was a combination of two towns in Kansas: Hays and Ellsworth—both of which I’ve been to. I also lived in Kansas for seven years, so I was very familiar with the landscape, laws, people, beliefs, etc., and I wanted to have a paranormal story take place in the Midwest, especially since the Midwest is underrepresented in paranormal YA (actually in YA in general)…despite the fact that we have a gate to hell in Stull. (Google it. It’s a big deal to us Kansans…even though I’m a Missourian now.)

2. Imaginary Settings: World-Building and Map-Making

I could write an entire month’s worth of blog posts about world building, so this is going to be ridiculously brief, but I hope it’s a place to start. Just like the above option, I think it’s most important to figure out what your story needs first, but once you have that, you can start building. Again, that doesn’t mean I think you have to know all of this before you write. You can write the entire story to figure it out, and then, change everything in editing. Personally, I like building from the little details to the bigger ones, which I know is the opposite of many writers, but that’s okay, because I figured out what worked for me. (Most of my writing tips, you might notice, revolve around the idea of figuring out who you are as a writer.) I start with the story details, and I work my way up to a giant map. This way, I have my “rules” in place. I have the political systems, the social expectations, the movements, the beliefs, the types of people, the places, etc. Now, if you want to start with a map first, I’d suggest studying maps. See how they are drawn and draw yours. If you want something random, watch this YouTube video. It’s freakin’ awesome, and it’s an easy way to get all different types of terrain on various landscapes.

Personally, I am in the process of writing an epic fantasy, and I did it the old-school way: a piece of paper and a pen and a bunch of sticky notes. My living room was covered. (Because that’s what works for me.) Overall, it’s important to create a world just as rich and diverse as our world is today. Even if it’s a walled-in city, different types of people and beliefs will exist. Don’t sell your world short. Explore it, take notes on it, explore it some more. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to include every little detail of your imaginary world in your book (especially not in the first chapter), but knowing as much as possible can help fine-tune your voice and your characters. If you’re going to take inspiration from history, be honest but be respectful. That means being diligent. Be everything you’d want a future writer to be in regards to if they took inspiration from your lifetime or your country. Create a world we’ve never seen before.

Fun fact: Take Me Tomorrow and November Rain both take place in the near-future U.S., but were built very differently. The Tomo Trilogy takes place throughout the entire country, while Bad Bloods takes place in one walled-in city. While Take Me Tomorrow was largely built around rail transportation in the U.S., November Rain was built on a real city I never actually name in the story (but I do give hints as to what it is). The epic fantasy I mentioned above doesn’t take place in this world at all. That took a lot more time and consideration to create, but it was well worth it in the end.

Create, and create well. And, of course, have fun.

~SAT

Come get your books signed on February 13, from 1-3 PM during the Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas at Bradley Fair. Come meet Tamara GranthamCandice GilmerTheresa Romain, Jan Schliesman, and Angi Morgan! If you haven’t started The Timely Death Trilogy, don’t worry. Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, is free!

Minutes Before Sunset, book 1:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrisebook 2:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylightbook 3:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Get your free book today!

Get your free book today!

#WritingTips Writing The Back Blurb

11 Jan

 Every Monday I take a popular post from the past, and I rewrite it with new information and approaches. Today, we’re talking about the dreaded back blurb. Why do we dread the back blurb? Well, because it can be the making or breaking point for the reader. That little blurb on the back can be the difference between a reader putting your book back on the shelf or taking your book to the counter to buy it. But there’s no reason to fret. There are plenty of ways to tackle this scenario, and today, I’m sharing one method. I’ll be using my latest novels in Bad Bloods as an example, but you can also check out the original post for a totally different way to try this out by clicking here.

1. Start with a 35-Word Synopsis

This is actually a method many use to tackle query letters, but I love this piece of advice. Summarizing your book into 35 words forces you to focus on the essentials. Look at it like writing an elevator pitch. In this case, you have a pretty direct formula: Character + setting + conflict + stakes. Stakes are the most important, and by far, the most forgotten one. Think about what your character has to lose. What happens if they decide not to save the world? Why should we care about those repercussions? While you’re writing this, you might start with a one-page synopsis or other notes. Keep those! They will help in part two. But, for now, read my example below. If you’re feeling discouraged, you might notice that I summed up TWO books in 35 words or less. In fact, those two books equal 136,000 words, and I only used 34 words. It can be done.

Bad Bloods in 35 words or less: 17-year-old Serena is the only bad blood to escape execution. Now symbolized for an election, she must prove her people are human despite hindering abilities before everyone is killed and a city is destroyed.

2. Expand. Be Catchy. Target an Audience. 

See? I told you that you’d need all those notes as you were trying to cut down to 35 words. Now, you get to use those notes again. (But, Shannon, why did you have us cut it down if we were only going to use it anyway? Because…It focused your work.) So, now that you’re focused on the main concepts, you can emphasize main themes. Be sure to focus on the right genre for the right audience. You don’t want to mention love if love is barely in it. You’ll only attract romance readers then, and they won’t be too happy when they realize they’ve been tricked. This means staying true to your work. Don’t try to force yourself into the latest trend. Be honest. Once you do that, you can show those little details that perfect your voice. Example? I’m going to use the expanded version of Bad Bloods, part one, November Rain. Instead of city, I’m going to name that city. I knew I wanted to bring Daniel into the Bad Bloods excerpt, because he literally tells half the book. I also wanted to bring attention to the romance side and emphasize the political part of the story. Do not forget your stakes!

Seventeen-year-old Serena isn’t human. She is a bad blood, and in the city of Vendona, bad bloods are executed. In the last moments before she faces imminent death, a prison guard aids her escape and sparks a revolt. Back on the streets determined to destroy her kind, Serena is spared by a fellow bad blood named Daniel. His past tragedies are as equally mysterious as her connection to them.

Unbeknownst to the two, this connection is the key to winning the election for bad bloods’ rights to be seen as human again. But Serena is the only one who can secure Vendona’s vote. Now, Daniel must unite with her before all hope is lost and bad bloods are eradicated, even if it means exposing secrets worse than death itself. United or not, a city will fight, rain will fall, and all will be threatened by star-crossed love and political corruption.

3. Edit. Get Opinions. Edit Again.

Okay. So you have a draft, or maybe you even have three drafts. It’s time to run it by a few people. If you can, try to have someone who has read your book read the synopsis to see if they believe that it what you should focus on. Try to have people who’ve never read your book review it. Have them tell you what they think the book is about. Now, edit. And have someone review it again. Edit again. But once you get a great one, stick with it. You can rewrite it a million times. Eventually, you have to choose. Once you have that, you can work on other wonderful marketing tools. Know Cassandra Clare? Well, freakin’ email her and ask her if she’d been willing to give you a review quote. (But, seriously, that would go on the front of the book.) Look at the back covers of your favorite books, find their catch phrases, figure one out for your book, place it somewhere bold. Since I’m not yet at this stage in the Bad Bloods process, I’ll refer to The Timely Death Trilogy instead. The back cover of the first book has a catch phrase (Two destinies. One death.), and it has a direct quote from the story (“Her kiss could kill us, and my consent signed our death certificates.”). Then, the blurb took place. Review quotes were placed beneath it. Your best bet is to look at the back of other books and mimic what you find successful.

Now publish.

~SAT

Book Haul from Episode 1 of Author in a Coffee Shop

Book Haul from Episode 1 of Author in a Coffee Shop

I’m starting a new series called “Author in a Coffee Shop.” Episode 1 happened this past Friday.
If you’re wondering what Author in the Coffee Shop is, it’s just how it sounds. I sit in a coffee shop and tweet out my writer thoughts while…you know…I people watch…for inspiration.
Follow me on Twitter via @AuthorSAT next Friday at 7 p.m. CDT for the next episode.

Here’s a sample if you missed out:

I hope to see you this upcoming Friday on Twitter!

In other news… you can now add Bad Bloods to Goodreads: November Rain and November SnowI’m also considering leading up to the July releases with short stories of each character joining the “flocks.” A flock is a group of 12 bad bloods that have come together to survive on the streets. In Bad Bloods, there are four flocks, one for each cardinal direction of the city, but only two flocks are left: The Southern and the Northern Flock. Some stories would purposely be left out, but I have six written. If this is something you’d think you’d be interested in reading, let me know! I would start sharing them at the end of February.

Speaking of February, on February 13, I’ll be one of several featured authors at a Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas. (More info to come.) I’d love to see you at Bradley Fair!

Also, my awesome publisher is giving away a Kindle Fire right here.

Giveaway-image

Starting your 2016 Reading Challenge? Minutes Before Sunset, book 1  in The Timely Death Trilogy, is FREE: (You could read it on your brand-new Kindle Fire.)

Minutes Before Sunset, book 1:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrisebook 2:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylightbook 3:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

#MondayBlogs 10 Books That Will Inspire You To Travel

21 Dec

Intro:

As many of you know, I love reading…and I absolutely love traveling. So, when Jason Biondo approached me with the idea of combining these two topics, I was on board. I hope you enjoy this list as much as I do! (The first book is one of my all-time favorites.) Welcome, Jason!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

10 Books That Will Inspire You To Travel by Jason Biondo 

One of the best ways to see the world is through a good book. Reading opens a way through your imagination and allows you to dream. And, since most travellers are certainly book lovers, there are various travel novels that provide inspiration as well as enhance the spirit to dream and journey towards life. Here are some of the best travel books that will surely urge you plan your next trip and explore the world.

1. On The Road by Jack Kerouac

Published in 1957, the story of Sal and his friend Dean leaving New York to head west to be passionate about life – partying in ghost towns, making new friends, sleeping with random women, and riding the rails on night-time. It is an inspiring tale about leaving life behind and creating a new one along the road. From New York to Denver to San Francisco and LA, Sal has learned a lot of things in life and he was able to become stronger, more matured and developed his self-determination.

2. In a Sunburned Country

This book talks about Bill Bryson’s voyage through Australia while visiting little towns. Wander lusting through the forgotten continent, he first visited Sydney where he walks down the town most of his stay and appreciating the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. He narrates about how Australia changed his life because of the friendly people, hottest and dry weather, and the most peculiar wildlife to be found on this planet. No matter how imperfect, Bryson found Australia to be an adorable and fortunate country.

3. A Year in the World, Frances Mayes

This book is a celebration of unanticipated pleasures found in voyages, interacting with locals and appreciating nature. In this book, Mayes left her hometown, Tuscany to see France, Spain, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, the British Isles and North Africa. Merging together her personal perceptions, history, landscape and passion in culture and art, Mayes shared her experiences to inspire people to journey towards their dreams.

4. The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

While most travel books focuses on going different adventures, this book by Eric Weiner is about a self-help guide in searching happiness in all corners of the world. The story is about a pessimist voyage from America to Europe to Iceland to Bhutan in search for the happiest people in the world.

5. The Beach by Alex Garland

Released in 1998, this book is a tale about a backpacker named Richard and his search for wild adventures. Using a small map, he found himself within a vast islet in Thailand that is within a small community. His journey gives inspiration to American and European tourists to encourage them go on a holiday in Thai beaches for better views. This books best message is that Mother Nature is the most beautiful thing on this planet.

jason

6. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Just like A Year in the World, this book from Mayes is a good read for travellers. Shortly after discovering that her husband was cheating on her, Frances takes on a tour to Italy. She wrote about her experiences as a local Italian and talks about different food traditions and artful style in northern Italy which makes this book as a guide for people travelling to the place. The book includes several chapters of recipe and how she decides to acquire and develop a villa in the countryside.

7. Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

Rolf Potts himself spent 10 years on the road to ponder some insights which he put through this book for travellers who are starting off to their long-term trips. The book is rich with travel philosophies that talks about solo travelling, planning and saving pennies on the road. The book will teach travellers on travelling cheaply, but having a rich experience. And, what makes it even more inspirational is that it includes motivating quotes from different travellers.

8. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is just one among Coelho’s best-selling fictional books and one of the most-read travel books of all time. It is a story of a young shepherd boy named Santiago that goes on his journey from Spain to Egypt as he follows the step towards his dreams. Along his journey, he met a lot of people who seem to be like him and that made him even more passionate about travelling. He also found courage to experience new things, learned to love and discovered the real meaning of life. It is a must read book for travellers since it’s all about following dreams and travellers are dreamers.

9. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Having perfect life – an amazing husband, nice house and a good job, Gilbert couldn’t ask for more, but she feels like something in her life is missing. Elizabeth went through a difficult divorce and she then thought of leaving her hometown for different adventures. Spending her time on three different countries every year to get to know herself better, Elizabeth Gilbert gives inspiration to female solo travellers to go outside their comfort zone at some point of their lives. By travelling, she found an exciting way to eat in Italy, pray in India and love in Indonesia. She proved to people who think she’s crazy and her scared self that she was capable of surviving alone in a completely different place.

10. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

This is a story of Christopher Johnson McCandless form Virginia, a determined wanderlust that sets off alone to a trekking adventure in the wilderness and has a strong desire to go soul searching. He gave away his college fund and began travelling across western America. Even though filled with positive thoughts, along the way he experienced difficulties that challenged his patience and endurance. After deciding to climb Stampede Trail in Alaska, he was left with few resources and insufficient supplies for camping. He later on discovered dead on a bus and a journal was found with him about his voyage diaries.

Inspired to travel? Open your travel planner now, and see all the beauty, charm and eccentricity that our beautiful planet holds!

Bio: Jason Biondo is an amateur bodybuilder and a travel junkie who loves to share insightful tips to his fellow health enthusiasts and travelers. He is also a User Interface Developer Consultant and the Founder of Trekeffect.

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

~SAT

#WW Top 5 Tips I Gave Out This Year as an Editor And Marketer

16 Dec

As 2015 is coming to an end, I’m reviewing all of the authors and writers and publishers I’ve been able to work with over these past 12 months, and I’m blown away by the many talented artists I’ve met. I’m proud to say we saw over a dozen novels to publication, and even more are on their way. It’s been a great year! So, to celebrate, I thought I would share some of the top tips that came out during this time. A lot of these tips you can find online. In fact, a lot of these tips I’ve written articles about before on this very website. But it can be said again. After all, there are always new writers, new authors, and new ideas to implement when adjusting your business plan. In 2015, I learned some myself, and I helped numerous clients learn some too. Here were the top five from this past year.

1. Writing: Take Notes! This particularly helps when editing rolls around and you need to fact check, but I strongly believe every writer should take notes before, during, and after writing a first draft. It will help you organize your work, and it will help you keep track of changes you’ve made or new turns you’ve taken. These notes can cover larger concepts—like subplots—and they can define the simplest details—like eye color. Sure, a content editor is here to help you, but it’s always best to try to keep everything as factual as you can beforehand. Having the strongest draft possible will ensure you’ll have the strongest product possible at the end of your editing stages.

2. Marketing: Branding: Be you. Branding is vital and highly competitive, but it doesn’t have to be! Remember: You are not competing with others. They are them; you are you. And you are the only “you” out there. Be proud of that! I hear the phrase “but they did this” way too often. Just because someone else is doing something doesn’t mean you should or that it will even work for you.

A. It’s already being done.

B. It might not correlate with your books.

C. If you force it, people can tell. (It’s especially awkward when readers start to figure out who exactly you’re copying.)

Ex. Romance Author A loves reading lifestyle books, healthy eating, and yoga, so she uploads these three things to her pages with appropriate hashtags and related links, sometimes drawing a correlation that being healthy is part of her protagonists’ struggles and/or dreams. Now, Romance Author B. She sees this successful social media outreach and decides to do it too, even though she might not be into those things, nor does it have anything to do with the types of books she writes. (Not that everything has to do with your books, but we’ll get to that in a minute.) Think about what you love, think about what your customers and you could love together, and share those lovable things. People with similar interests will find you and your books.

3. Marketing: Branding: Now that you’re you, be PARTS of you. What do I mean by that? I often see authors and publishers trying to be TOO much. Have some consistency. Choose three to four things you’re really into and mainly post about those things. Of course you can post about whatever you want, but it helps to pick a brand and stick with it. Ex. I post about my cats, coffee, and books I’m reading. I recently added desserts, but I started only sharing desserts that went with coffee. (I slowly worked it in.) On occasion, if I travel, I post some photos, but I’m also really into movies and photography and conspiracy theories and aliens and etc. Sure, I’ll talk about those things every now and then, but if I did it all the time, no one would know what to expect or why they were even following me. I picked a theme, and I stick with it. I even have followers who just follow me because of my cats or followers who just love getting recipes from me. Stop worrying about selling. It’s not about selling. (Ouch, I know.) But it’s true. It’s about genuine connections. Have fun. A great topic I see authors work with is similar books, movies, and fandoms. But there is a thing as “posting too much.” You can overwhelm followers. Plus, you don’t need to be online all the time. You need writing time too.

BONUS TIP

Take a Little Extra Time to Make Things Just *That* Much Better

The photo on the left is the one I posted to Instagram, Twitter, and FB. The photo on the right is the real deal. 30 seconds can make a HUGE difference. Take that extra step. In this instance, I just cropped and added a filter through Instagram.

PicMonkey Collage

4. Editing: Track Stylistic Choices: Editing is often a matter of preference. While some rules are definitely not debatable, many aspects of the English language are. There is more than one correct way to write something, even when using the same rulebook, and it’s important to understand your options and to communicate those options with your editor. Keep track of your stylistic choices. Do you prefer t-shirt to T-shirt? Do you want to use “goodbye” instead of “good-bye”? Do you want to use the new “internet” or the proper “Internet”? Write these down or have your editor keep a stylistic sheet for you. I know I do this for every single one of my clients, especially if the book is part of a series. You want to remain consistent and pick what it best for that particular novel. As a reader, I HATE it when I see “t-shirt” and “T-shirt” on the same page. Granted, I’m an editor, so I’m probably more sensitive than others, but many avid readers know the basics of editing. Consistency is always the key.

5. Marketing: Positivity: Writing is hard. Marketing is hard. Editing is hard. I get it. Trust me. I do. I’ve been doing this for eight years and it’s still hard. I still learn every day, and sometimes, right after I learn something, the algorithms change, and I have to learn everything all over again. It’s tiring, time-consuming, and a never-ending battle. But try to enjoy it. Try to find the fun in it all. Try to love the little amazing moments more than you dwell on the big bad moments. But, most importantly, remain as positive as you can on your professional pages. Don’t get me wrong. It’s okay to be human. I’ve posted about depression before when I lost my publisher at the time. But I was still hopeful and ready to move forward. No one thinks you’re perfect, and you don’t have to pretend to be perfect, but posting curse-filled rants of drama isn’t going to do anyone any favors. A rule I stand by is to think twice before you post something while feeling emotional. Then, step away and think again. Once posted, it can never be deleted forever. Overall, the more you practice positivity—whether inwardly or outwardly—the less you’ll feel drained and/or overwhelmed. The more you’ll enjoy it. You want your pages to be a safe and happy environment for you and your connections. Have a zero-tolerance policy for bullies and trolls, and stay focused on having a great time with your readers.  

I hope you’ve enjoyed these five tips! If you have some, feel free to share! Let’s end 2015 on a great note, so we can start 2016 on an even better one.

~SAT

#WW Writing Help from the World

25 Nov

About a week ago, it began to thunderstorm in the middle of November…and it rained for three days. The storm—insignificant to many—took me back to when I was a preteen and first writing Bad Bloods. I recalled how much I enjoyed the overall storyline but struggled with the simple aspects of the novel, mainly the weather.

It seems silly, doesn’t it? Here I was, able to write a storyline in a made-up world with imagined characters, but I couldn’t figure out something as mundane as the weather patterns. In fact, one of the aspects I had to change in the rewrite was the moon cycle, which ended up being a lot more complicated than I ever predicted. (Mainly because the moon plays a significant role in the book.) But we’ll get to that issue in a minute.

A little background on my yet-to-be-released two-part series: Bad Bloods takes place in November of 2089. So, literally, the entire story happens in 30 days. The original version only happened between November 1 to November 27—because I wasn’t the best at pacing yet—and this created an interesting conundrum when I went back to rewrite it. The two main problems? I wanted the story to happen from November 1 to November 30, and I wanted the full moon to happen on the exact date it will happen in the future year of 2089. The original version was off, but the original version had a lot to tell me. And while I think many writers look at this example as pretty extreme—considering the decade that passed between the original and the rewrite—I think we can look at this lesson of mine as an example of a writer’s first draft going into the initial editing stages. There’s a lot to do. And some of it can be overwhelming. (As an extra, you can check out a map of the calendar to show just how much changed from the first version to the second version. Blue stands for Daniel’s POV and pink stands for Serena’s POV. I even included the new split between November Rain, part one, and November Snow, part two. The new one will now be on the Extras page instead of the old one.)

As an extra, here's a comparison on how the calendar changed. Blue stands for Daniel's POV, Pink is Serena's POV, and I included the new split.

As an extra, here’s a comparison on how the calendar changed. Blue stands for Daniel’s POV, Pink is Serena’s POV, and I included the new split.

When I was eleven and first writing it, I knew I wanted nature to play a significant role, but I didn’t want to be a cliché. I didn’t want it to rain when characters were crying, and I didn’t want it to thunderstorm when something bad was about to happen or when someone was angry. It sounds simple enough, but it’s very tempting to allow the weather to foreshadow the characters when you’re trying to make it important. But I wanted it to be symbolic on its own, like an addition to the antagonist being the city rather than one political leader. The question was how to go about it.

I didn’t have a clue, and I remembered being very frustrated as I tried different things over and over. I even recall talking to my dad about how I couldn’t get the weather to feel natural. And that’s when he pointed something out that is so simple I couldn’t believe it never occurred to me

Why not just use natural weather?

So, I did. (Thanks, Dad.)

That year, when November rolled around, I recorded exactly what happened, and I went through the book and added it in. Amazingly, it worked out perfectly, and nature gave me the perfect symbol without me having to force it. This is also why the full moon was on a different date in the original than it should’ve been. Even though the moon has now been changed in the rewrite, the weather has remained the same.

This wasn’t an easy task in the rewrite—keeping many elements while changing others—but it is a delight to know that my answers were, quite literally, right outside my window.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs: My Writer’s Story: Different to the One I Imagined

9 Nov

Intro:

While many claim there is one publishing formula, there are hundreds, and the more writers you meet, the more variations of publishing journeys you hear. I find them fascinating, and I’m always eager to hear another’s story. Today’s writer is sharing his. Welcome author Shane Joseph.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

My Writer’s Story: Different to the One I Imagined by Shane Joseph

Our times are generating many more writers than demand can bear. This is due to better education, improved health, technology, inflated egos in an age of “me first,” and due to our eternal quest for immortality. The ambition to be a writer usually begins in our formative years and is inspired by our favourite writers. As a teenager, I was greatly influenced by Greene, Steinbeck and Hemingway; I dreamt of sending manuscripts out into the world where they would become best-sellers and make me a reclusive millionaire. I would hide out in some remote island and submit more manuscripts and continue to dazzle the world with my brilliance until I was invited to a cold capital in Europe to accept the Nobel Prize. And I would refuse that honour, making me an enigmatic figure like Jean-Paul Sartre, Boris Pasternak or J.D. Salinger. It was nice to dream!

The reality, even back then, was different. I had chosen to gloss over the private demons my literary heroes had to overcome in order to achieve their fame: dual lives, alcoholism, drug addiction, persecution, shell-shock (called PTSD today), hypertension, depression, divorce, estrangement, chronic pain, and suicide staring out of the barrel of a gun. Not forgetting the early struggles with rejection and penury that they each triumphed over. These trials gave impetus to their work and are mentioned only in discreet biographies, not on the glossy covers of their books.

My writer’s story turned out differently to my idealized dream. For instance, I didn’t imagine that after hacking away at this craft in my early twenties in a developing country where English was a second language, and after having a handful of stories published, I would pack up my authorly tools and try something easier to earn a living – Greene, Steinbeck et al, be damned! I never realized that the “other living,” at a corporate job, would come so easily, and earn such a handsome income, that I wouldn’t bother with the writing game again for another twenty years. I didn’t realize that it would be the curse of “guilt” that would bring me back to reopen the dusty toolbox and start to catch up to where the literary world had evolved in the intervening years.

Once “Take Two” started however, the stories and novels came easily, and are likely to continue into the future, health permitting. It was like a dam had burst and all that had been stored for years came gushing out. But the publishing landscape had changed, drastically. Prizes sold books now. And the prize money was cornered among the “1% of the 1%” in the literary hierarchy. There was no middle class in publishing anymore – there was a huge gulf between the self-published and the best-seller, and the only way to bridge the two was with a stroke of luck.

But with every closing door there were others opening. There were now many ways in which to be published, I discovered, thanks to evolving technology that had finally demolished the dominant publishing model of eons, which was: publish a large quantity of paper books on ancient printing presses until unit costs become affordable, ship them across the land in trucks into stores that couldn’t keep track of them, receive most of them back after awhile to be shredded, then start the cycle again, and hope like hell that governments or private donors supported this inefficiency in the interest of promoting the arts. That was the model in which my heroes had thrived, and now it was dying, supplanted by DIY publishing, POD, electronic media, subscriptions services, free story sites, social media, and blogs like the one you are reading. And my heroes were dead too.

Shane Joseph

Shane Joseph

I enthusiastically tried all the models available, traditional and new, and discovered that they all had their pros and cons, but as their readerships’ were distinct, this lack of homogeneity helped plaster me all over the map, assuaging my guilt for having neglected “the gift.” There was also no way I could hide out in a remote island, I realized; I had to be front and centre in the global public domain (a.k.a. the Internet, which also never existed during the time of my literary heroes) selling my wares like a shoe salesman. I even started a publishing house, using the new technology, and have helped bring other writers into print, ones who may have been sitting for years in the slush piles of the Big Five (or is it Four, now – hard to keep track!). The joy of bringing others’ work into the world, to watch them stand on the podium reading from their debut novel at their book’s launch gives me immense satisfaction. I was doing my bit to restore the middle class in publishing. And I finally faced the darker side: the rejection, the shrunken revenue streams, the even further shrunken attention spans, and the need for that other source of income to fuel this one. None of this had been part of my teenage dream.

And so I have accepted that my writer’s story is different from the one I had visualized in my youth. Creative visualizers, take note: it doesn’t always turn out the way you paint it in your mind. But it can be a damned sight more interesting and surprising. Why go on a trip where every stopover is carefully laid out, predictable and boring? Where would the thrill of the unexpected lie? Isn’t that what we try to create in our work – the unexpected?

So Dear Reader, what was your writer’s dream, and how did it pan out?

Bio:

(Shane Joseph is the author of four novels and two collections of short stories, and was the winner of the best fantasy novel award at the Canadian Christian Writing Awards in 2010. His short fiction has appeared in international literary journals and anthologies. His latest novel, In the Shadow of the Conquistador, will be released in November 2015. For details visit www.shanejoseph.com

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in December, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

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