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#SATurday: Interview with Bogart, the author kitten

18 Apr

#SATurday: Interview with Bogart, the author kitten

First and foremost, I would like to thank The Acid Oasis for asking me to interview Bogart. I immediately knew that I HAD to do it, and today is the day I share the results. But – first – a little background on this fuzzy little (okay, he’s a bit chunky) feline.

A little over four years ago, a terribly horrible person ditched Bogart and three other black cats. In a closed box. On the side of a highway. He was two months old. Thankfully, a person who was the opposite of the first person (meaning, this next person is an amazing and wonderful human being) pulled over on that highway and saved the kittens by taking them to Wayside Waifs. Two months later, Bogart became my family, and here we are today – catlady and cat – writing stories together every day.

bogartcharacterprofile

Bogart: A lovely introduction. Thank you, Shannon.

Shannon: Well, you did help me write it. How are you doing today?

Bogart: Hungry. As usual.

Shannon: We just ate.

Bogart: I get a treat for this, right?

Shannon: (pause) Sure.

Bogart: (finally sits) Great. Let’s get this started.

Shannon: What is it like to be an author cat?

Bogart: It’s tough work! I sit in Shannon’s lap most of the day, and when I’m not in her lap, I’m next to her. Even when she doesn’t know it, I’m watching – making sure she doesn’t make a mistake, critiquing every word she types, and let me tell you, there are A LOT of words, and I keep Shannon in check.

Shannon: Why are you referring to me as Shannon when I’m right here?

Bogart: It’s for dramatic effect. (pause) And this is exactly what I mean. Without me, you wouldn’t even understand the meaning of drama. And who can have literature without drama?

Shannon: (blinks) Fair enough.

Bogart: So, as I was saying (yawn mixed with a meow), this is tough work. When Shannon makes a mistake, I jump onto her laptop. She doesn’t like it very much. I get thrown off a lot, you know? But the best partners have to have disagreements sometimes. Still, I think she knows I’m right because she ends up staring at her computer for a long while after. Sometimes, she even shuts it down altogether.

Shannon: So, what happens then? When you’re off the laptop?

Bogart: The inspiration, of course! Recently, for instance, I acquired two new friends, Boo Boo and Kiki. I’m sure you’ve seen us on Instagram. (leans in close, rubs face on recorder) We’re famous. (leans out) But Boo Boo and Kiki have been a great help. We set everything up, and the second Shannon comes into the room, we begin our masterpiece. There’s fighting and yelling and cuddling and sharing. An entire collection of emotions just for one plot, let me tell you.

Shannon: And how do I – er, I mean – how does Shannon react to these pieces?

Bogart: She loves them so much, she trips. (stretches) Sometimes, over Boo Boo, but mainly over me. I’m the star of the show, the big guy, the spark. (licks paw) It’s tough work, but the fight scenes in The Timely Death Trilogy wouldn’t be here without me.

Shannon: I thought Shannon wrote that before you two began collaborating.

Bogart: (ignores) What’s your next question?

Shannon: Ah. Right. (flips through notebook) Do you have any works of your own you’ll release? Anything by Bogart?

Bogart: Now that. (long purr) That is a great question. (sees water glass in front of him for the first time. Eyes go wide. Paw lifts up. He knocks it to the floor. Purr deepens.) I love the sound of water glasses hitting the floor. It’s the musical soundtrack of inspiration. Don’t you think?

Shannon: (stares at the mess) I need to clean that.

Bogart: Not now. Not now. (sits in lap and looks up with big, begging eyes to prevent movement) We were talking about my own story.

Shannon: (pets) Go on

Bogart: I do have my own stories. Many stories. Stories I’ve been piecing together for four long years. Stories of purr-fection and cat-astrophe and mew-tovation. But these things take time. A lot of time. And for now, I am enjoying my place – as a muse, a confidant, a kitten cat.

Shannon: Kitten cat?

Bogart: It’s a new spelling I’ve come up with – in reference to a cat that keeps their kitten qualities despite hardships – a cat that maintains their dreaming selves through adulthood, a cat that never gives up. (lifts face) I’m a kitten cat, and without me, Shannon would have a more difficult time with her dreams. Someone must encourage her – just as she encourages me with treats. (long pause)

Shannon: (throws treat)

Bogart: (eats treat) But, you see, we work together, and that’s a precious thing: an author kitten cat and his author, writing into the future. (pause) You could write a whole story on that.

Shannon: I already made a note.

Bogart: Great. We should get back to work.

Shannon: Agreed. (pets) Thank you for your time, Bogart.

Bogart: Thank you for the treat. (jumps down) Now open that laptop. We have books to write.

After the interview, Bogart and I got to work on the latest piece of fiction that will, hopefully one day, hit the shelves for readers. We worked all day and all night, only stopping for dinner, coffee, and treats. He purred and slept, but I know he kept his Halloween cat eyes on every word, just waiting for the opportunity to jump onto my laptop (to prevent mistakes, of course). When we finished our long day, we celebrated by talking some more. Bogart told me of the birds that taunted him, of the sunshine that warmed him, and of the toys he found beneath the couch. In his spare time, Bogart appears on Facebook and Instagram. He also models for donations. But he mainly looks forward to another day, full of writing and kitten cat adventures. It didn’t need to be said, but I found myself stating it anyway. I love Bogart very much.

~SAT

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 9.05.55 AMP.S. I was a guest blogger for Little Birdy Book Blog yesterday, and I talked about 5 lessons I learned since becoming an author. What was number 1? Being a reader is much more complicated now. Check it out by clicking here.

#SATurday: Turning Dreams into Stories

4 Apr

#SATurday: Turning Dreams into Stories

I hate alarm clocks. I don’t hate many things, but an alarm clock is one of them. Most of the time, I wake up without one – I have my entire life – and I truly believe it’s because my brain is wired to dislike the act of waking up to sudden (and normally blaring) music. It doesn’t matter if it’s my favorite song. I will end up hating the song if it wakes me up every morning. I wish I could like it – I do. The practical use of an alarm isn’t even debatable. Even though I wake up most mornings, I still have those instances where alarm clocks have come through for me and saved me from accidentally sleeping through my day. (Although…accidentally sleeping through my day sounds pretty nice right now…as long as I didn’t have any responsibilities…which I do…so that accident would be pretty awful, but the sleeping part sounds nice.)

Garfield

Garfield

Who doesn’t love sleep? It’s a magical thing. I used to hate that, though, too. If you’ve read any of my interviews, then you probably already know that I had night terrors as a child. And, occasionally, I still do. I also have vivid dreams and nightmares, but I’m finding more often than not that many writers do. Perhaps it’s our overactive imaginations. Perhaps the dreams caused our overactive imaginations. What comes first, the imagination or the dreams?

For me, I believe my dreams came first. Despite the fact that my parents rarely allowed me to watch TV (and had very strict rules about what I was allowed to watch), I had violent dreams. Terrifying dreams. Dreams that hologrammed themselves into the real world, even after I woke up. The first one I recall involved a cheetah. It chased me through a neighborhood (not a jungle), and right before it caught me, I woke up. But instead of my dream ending, I would still see it – lying in wait, sitting at the edge of my bed, half-hanging off the end. I remember its beady eyes blinking, reflecting light in my dark room.

Much to my dismay (and probably my parents’ as well), it kept repeating, and I was losing all hope until art class one day. I can’t say what grade I was in. I can’t recall the teacher’s name. I can’t even – positively – say it was art class. I only remember the art supplies surrounding us, so that’s why I assume my location, but the teacher was telling us about nightmares. And, again, I can’t remember why, but I do remember focusing, listening to her every word.

Her nephew had a reoccurring dream. Every night, a lion chased him through the jungle. I was envious his dreams took him to exotic places – unlike mine – but his lion did something my cheetah didn’t. It ate him.

Now – it didn’t eat him the first time. Our teacher explained that the nephew kept having the dreams until he consciously decided he would stop running in his dreams, turn around, and face the lion. He did. And the lion ate him…And the lion never came again.

I went home, thinking I had finally found the solution to my own nightmare. I was truly excited, ready to be eaten, and I went to bed that night with new hope. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work out. I stopped, the cheetah killed me (I assume), and I woke up only for the next morning to have it happened again. My dream repeated itself for a few weeks. (Or maybe it was only few days – time is longer the younger you are). But it repeated, nevertheless, and I never defeated it like my art teacher’s nephew did. Instead, my cheetah slowly faded away, replaced by a T-Rex, then replaced by a murderer.

I don’t believe my dreams have ever stopped. It’s every other night that I dream of something violent, and on rare occasions, I can turn one of my dreams into a story. I can meet a character or see a situation or visit a new world – although I have yet to visit a jungle – and I can take readers there by sharing words on paper.

Those dreams aren’t so scary anymore. In fact, overtime, I think I learned to embrace them and learn from them and explore them and create with them – like my dreams were the real art class all along. And who wants an alarm clock to go off in the middle of class?

~SAT

P.S. If you missed it, here is my live interview with Jonas Lee. We spoke about knives, coffee, Clue, and writing tips.

And just to REALLY switch your Saturday up, I have finally returned to my YouTube Channel – Coffee and Cats – so feel free to ask any question on the video and I’ll be answering them during my next video.

Website Wonders

28 Mar

Website Wonders:

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of March’s Website Wonders categorized into Readers, Writers, Coffee Drinkers, and Cute Fun. If you enjoy these websites, be sure to like my Facebook page because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Enjoy!

Readers:

Neil deGrasse Tyson Selects the Eight Books Every Intelligent Person on the Planet Should Read: A lot of these books are for free too.

100 Legal Sites to Download Literature

The Best Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2012: A flashback

Writers:

How “Strong Female Characters” still end up weak and powerless (Or, Do they pass the action figure test?) A great article that debates all sides of the “strong” female character

 75+ Paid Writing Opportunities: Because writers can get paid too. 

32 Of The Most Beautiful Words In The English Language: Nefarious has a cat.

Billy Wilder’s Rules for Screenwriters: Yes, screenwriters. I think of you too.

10557215_804346322967523_6886263204870891271_nCoffee Drinkers:

Innovative Alarm Clock Wakes Users with Freshly Brewed Coffee:Who doesn’t need this?

Coffee Jokes: Why are men all like coffee?

Cute fun:

Japan’s Fox Village: The cutest place on earth.

21 Adorable Pictures Of Babies Chilling With Their Kitty Cat Companions: So cute, I died.

There you have it! I hope you enjoyed these website wonders! See you with more next month!

~SAT

In case you missed my LIVE interview today at 11 a.m. (CDT) on Google+ with author, Jonas Lee. Here is the video:

#SATurday: The Lesson of Cats

21 Mar

The Lesson of Cats

I didn’t always like cats. In fact, I think it’s fair to confess how much I hated them. (A lot). I was raised with big dogs in the house – 3 to be exact – and my only experience with a cat resulted in a large and deep scratch slicing across my face, including one of my eyes. I was seven, but it left an impression.

Over a decade had to pass before I experienced cats again. It was my sophomore year in college and the first year living in a house with roommates. One of my roommate’s friends needed us to watch her cat for a little while, and sure enough, we had an extra (and very fuzzy) roommate move in.

My original goal was to avoid Lucifer (yes, his name was Lucifer) at all costs. But he attached himself to my bedroom and the nearby bathroom. We later found out that the previous tenant who lived in my room also owned cats, so I’m assuming that had something to do with Lucifer’s mysterious affection. Nevertheless, avoidance was no longer an option.

The first time I realized he was growing on my dog-filled heart was on an ordinary morning, right before my Thursday Chaucer course. I needed to use the sink, and Lucifer was using it as a bed. I tried to coax him out. It didn’t work. And I tried to pull him out. Also didn’t work. Eventually, one of my roommates came in, and we attempted to get him out by turning on the sink to a dripping level. He simply locked eyes with us (yes, both of us) and stayed right where he wanted to stay. But I had never seen such puppy-dog-like eyes on a cat before. The determined and begging expression he held as droplets of leaking water sprinkled down his face was, perhaps, the funniest (and most sincere) expression he had held since moving in. It was practically impossible not to fall in love.

Boo Boo and I while writing this

Boo Boo and I while writing this

I didn’t know it yet, but my heart was morphing into a cat lady heart (mixed with a dog lady heart), and I figured that out when Lucifer left. I missed him – a lot – and after weeks of serious contemplation, I began stockpiling cat supplies. That very Christmas, I met my own little fuzz ball, and he was named Bogart, after my favorite actor Humphrey Bogart. If you’ve made a donation, you definitely know Bogart – you have your own customized photo of the guy – but he comes around here often.

I’ve learned a lot because of Lucifer and Bogart. I learned how much love can appear from an unexpected place (if you allow it to), and I’ve learned how destructive it is to allow one bad experience to define all future experiences. If I had hated all cats because of the one cat who hurt me, I would’ve never found Bogart, and I wouldn’t have my best friend.

Since Bogart, I have befriends two more cats – Boo Boo and Kiki – and now, I have three cats where I used to have three dogs in my life. I miss Max, Milo, and Shadow – my dogs – a lot, and I’m sure I will write about their stories one day, but for now, I am quite content writing what I have learned from cats as I sit outside on an usually beautiful March day – with one of my cat companions listening to every word as I contemplate the final product.

So far, I think Boo Boo approves.

~SAT

P.S. I have a LIVE interview on March 28 at 11 a.m. (CDT) via Google Hangouts! You can even ask me questions (and see me). Author of A Time to Reap, Jonas Lee, is hosting the interview right here: “A sit down with seasoned author, Shannon A. Thompson. There will be questions. There will be answers. There will be coffee…maybe a cat, no guarantees.”

#SATurday My False Memories and Her Smile

7 Mar

#SATurday My False Memories and Her Smile

Recently, I was watching a documentary on Netflix. (I will take this moment to declare Netflix the evil force fighting against writers and their precious time.) But – yes – I was on Netflix, which is fairly new to me, and I was zoning out to a documentary called The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology – which was awesome, by the way. At one point, the speaker, Slavoj Zizek, spoke about first memories. It was a fleeting moment of the film, but the moment struck me, and I began contemplating my own first memories.

I use the word “contemplating” on purpose. I’m never sure if my first memories are “real” memories or a result of false memory syndrome. For those of you who don’t know what FMS is, it basically refers to memories that aren’t real but memories we believe are real. And I know I have a lot of those. (Ironic, eh?)

I’m not ashamed that I’ve filled my brain up with a lot of false memories. I think it happened naturally, and I mainly site growing up on the road as the cause. Since I never had triggers for memories, so to speak, I lost a lot of memories, and I know I did because I have spoken to many old childhood friends who have a lot more memories than I do. But this resulted in me filling in the gaps, and I’m not too ashamed of it. How could I be? It might have been my first practice at creating stories, and creating stories is my ultimate passion. I find myself in them.

That being said, I did wonder what my first memory was. I have memories of living in Tulsa and taking homemade jam out of my great-grandmother’s tornado shelter, but we could’ve been visiting, so it’s impossible to say if I was 3 or 5 or 8. I have memories of my husky Shadow running in and out of the woods, but we did that in three states from the ages of 4 to 15. The types of trees shift, and the shadow on his face he was named after eventually faded away, but – again – it’s impossible to accurately say how old I was.

Most of the memories I have that I can guarantee my age in is when my brother or a friend was involved. By seeing them, I can calculate my own age, but if my memory is of me alone, it’s impossible, and I was alone quite often. I often played Pretty Pretty Princess and Trouble with three Furbys sitting around the board, two of which were my brother’s, but I definitely learned how to play board games with stuffed animals as my competitors. And…I still lost. Sometimes. (I had to keep it interesting.)

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Now, if I had to “pick” a memory that I know my age and feel as if it is truly real, I would talk about my bus driver.

She was an older woman, and I never saw her stand up from her seat. Her hair was mostly gone, and she never spoke a lot, but my four-year-old self was enamored with her. From the moment I saw her, I wanted to see her smile.

I was four at the time and living in Green Bay, Wisconsin. We lived at the top of a steep hill – so steep my neighbors and I actually got snow days from the bus being unable to drive up it (which is a rarity in the north) – and our front yard had three tiers that were about three feet tall a piece. My mother grew flowers on the first tier, but now that I’m older, I half-suspect she bought these from the store every week for me to pluck up because that’s exactly what I did.

Every spring morning, right before the bus driver showed up, I would grab my ladder (I had to use a ladder), and I would climb up the tier and pick a handful of little flowers out. And I would wait. I would sit on top of the tier until I saw the bus coming up the hill, and then, I would jump off (something my parents hated), and I would run to the bus, flowers in hand.

I started doing this for one reason.

When I gave my bus driver flowers – no matter how little or dirty they were – she smiled, and although she didn’t have all of her teeth, I still think her smile is one of the most beautiful smiles I’ve ever seen my entire life.

And yet, I do not know her name.

But I hope she’s smiling somewhere. She stays smiling in my memories – as my first memory – and I think she was the person to teach me how much a smile can change someone’s life.

~SAT

coverrevealcomingP.S. The cover reveal for Minutes Before Sunset is coming, and I need YOUR help! Email me at shannonathompson@aol.com if you’re available on March 18. You will also receive an exclusive “Member of the Dark” badge for your website (also to be revealed). Any and all help is appreciated. You do not have to have a blog to participate. You can simply have a Twitter or Facebook. Just message me at shannonathompson@aol.com for the cover, and I will send you the cover, the badge, and extra information for your website! Thank you all so much!

#WW: Website Wonders

25 Feb

Website Wonders:

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of February’s Website Wonders categorized into Writing, Reading, as well as Inspiration and Art. If you enjoy these websites, be sure to like my Facebook page because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Enjoy!

Writing:

25 Things You Should Know About Antagonists: A great article all writers should read.

What age did the greatest authors publish their most famous works? I knew this was going to be fascinating the second I clicked on it.

Little-Known Punctuation Marks for National Punctuation Day: Because I’ve been spending a lot more time being an editor recently.

10277289_793694487366040_5427893777820977871_n

Reading:

10 Books That Will Absolutely Blow Your Mind: My favorite book – The Stranger by Albert Camus – is on this list.

House Of Books: The Most Majestically Beautiful Libraries Around The World Photographed By Franck Bohbot: No description needed. These gorgeous photos are enough.

32 Books That Will Actually Change Your Life: How many of these changed your life? Me Talk Pretty One Day was the first book I read of Sedaris’, and he’s still one of my favorite authors. I also agree with Beloved, The Giver, World War Z (not the movie. Boo.), and Never Let Me Go.

Inspiration and art:

These Incredible Paintings Will Both Amaze And Confuse You: Beautiful. Unnerving. Imaginative. This is very strange, but it won’t allow me to add this link to the text, so here it the URL: (http://theawesomedaily.com/incredible-paintings-of-rob-gonsalves)

How to Be Creative and Find Your Brilliance: 10 Superb Articles: We could all use more tips.

Check back next month for more articles!

P.S.

I just received this review for my editing services from an amazing, upcoming author, and I could not be happier and more grateful than I am right now.

“Shannon’s content review and editing services worked wonders for my manuscript. She was quick, professional, and wonderful to work with. As a well-established author with behind-the-scenes experience, I found her input to be invaluable. Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned veteran, I highly recommend her services.” – A.I. Kemp

Please check out my services or email me at shannonathompson@aol.com for anything. :]

#MondayBlogs: The Stigma of Writing Horror

23 Feb

Intro:

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

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

#MondayBlogs: The Stigma of Horror Writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me

Alex Laybourne

Bio:

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

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

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

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

Links:

Blood of the Tainted (artwork by Richard van Ekeren)

Diaries of the Damned

Website

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

~SAT

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