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#SATurday: Reviewing Novels as an Author

20 Jun

#SATurday: Reviewing Novels as an Author

Back in the day—way back when—Goodreads didn’t exist, and I’m pretty sure (maybe not) Amazon didn’t even have a rating system for books. It was just Barnes & Noble and Borders, but mainly Barnes & Noble for me (R.I.P. Borders). I’m talking about the mid-90s. I used to buy all of my books from the store. (Okay. So my mom used to buy all my books from the store.) There was no Kindle, and there weren’t many book blogs out there, and if there were, they definitely weren’t like they are today. I actually remember sitting at my Komodo computer and scrolling the Internet, hoping to find somewhere to review books and I couldn’t find a website.

So, I reviewed books on Microsoft PowerPoint. (Something I just had a conversation about with author, Jonas Lee, so I must mention him in this article for sparking this idea in me. Thanks, Jonas!) It’s been over a decade since my PowerPoint presentation days. (A presentation that I used to show every weekend to my stuffed animals. What can I say? I moved around a lot. My toys were my friends.) I no longer have that presentation, but I can still see it scrolling through The Magic Tree House series and W.I.T.C.H.—stars flying in and flying out, wicked thick fonts twinkling on the screen before dissipating off. Sometimes, I would get a cartoon sound to line up with everything. It was 90’s perfection.

I loved it. I loved it so much. But years would pass before I ever began to post book reviews again. Why? Well…it’s a bit complicated, but it mainly came down to being an author. Beginning in 2007, I no longer felt like I could review books. I knew exactly how much work went on behind the scenes, after all, and it felt like a conflict of interest to say anything at all. If it was a positive review, someone could think I was just saying that to suck up to another author. If it was a negative review, someone could think I was just trying to tear someone else’s work down. Reviewing novels became a lose-lose situation in my mind, so I stepped away from them.

You can also expect to see more photos like this from me.

You can also expect to see more photos like this from me.

But I missed reviewing books so much. And I’ve missed them for a long time. Suddenly, I couldn’t stop thinking that I took the wrong approach all those years back when I stepped away from something I love to do—sharing books with whoever was interested.

I’m not a picky reader. I often love everything I read. I can definitely see value in everything I read, and my tastes range from cheesy romances to dark, dystopian sci-fi. I love poetry and memoirs and young adult and even the occasional blush-worthy read. I love everything. I really do. What I read mainly comes down to my mood, but I’ve always enjoyed recommending reads to fellow readers based on what they love the most.

So, I’ve returned. Over the past two months, I’ve been reviewing and updating novels I’m currently reading on Goodreads. You’ll probably never see a 1 or 2 or even a 3 star review from me, but please don’t get me wrong. I just rarely dislike novels, and if I do dislike novels, I am more likely to put it down than to finish it, and I don’t feel right reviewing something if I don’t finish it. On top of that, I’ve been focusing on who I would specifically recommend the read too, and it’s been a lot of fun! I’ve been connecting with readers more, and I love talking to everyone about how they feel about novels or what novels they have on their TBR list. I finally feel like a reader again. I’ve always been reading, of course, but reading is always better when you’re reading with friends. (And I’m so glad I’ve found reading friends that aren’t stuffed animals.) So, you can expect more reviews from me on Goodreads. Feel free to tell me about what you’re reading too! I would love to hear your recommendations. Just comment below—::wink::—and we’ll start reading together soon.

~SAT

P.S. Don’t forget! Three paperbacks will be given away on Goodreads this Tuesday, June 23 (a.k.a. my 24th birthday. What better way to celebrate than by giving away book gifts?) Click here to enter! Expect even more prizes soon.

Our most recent contest via Twitter just ended today! Congrats goes out to Kathy-Lynn Cross, the winner of the signed bookmark! Follow her @KathyLynnCross today.

winner

#MondayBlogs Do You ‘Take’ Your Characters With You When You’re In The Outside World?

15 Jun

Intro:

As an author, I spend a lot of my free time on the computer. In fact, between my editing job and my writing time, I spend almost ALL my time on my computer. But you still have to get off the laptop sometimes and explore the world. This is what our guest blogger is discussing today. Author Marcia Carrington talks about how important it is to seek inspiration outside of the computer-sphere. If you’re an author, tell us about stepping away from your work and what that means to you. But first and foremost, let’s welcome Marcia!

Do You ‘Take’ Your Characters With You When You’re In The Outside World? By Marcia Carrington

This is something that I often do whenever I’m not at home, that is, I could be at the mall, waiting at a doctor’s surgery, in line at the supermarket, or at some other such place. I often find that my mind wanders to either characters from stories I’m presently writing or stories that I propose to write and a concept has been gnawing away at me. What will happen to these characters? In which direction should I take them? Would this be a good idea for a story? These are the kinds of questions that pose themselves when I’m out and about.

Maple leaves in Autumn provided by Marcia

Maple leaves in Autumn provided by Marcia

To be honest, I never take any kind of computer with me whenever I’m out of the home, as I find that my mind can wander freer outside, and there are many inspirations that can be experienced. The people you meet, the things you do, the places you go, could all trigger ideas and concepts that you never thought possible, or help you to take a story in another direction.

There is also another associated benefit to leaving the home sphere and going outside into the world. I have found in the past that when I am in the throes of writing and the ideas are becoming stagnant or non-existent in my mind, staying inside can be detrimental. Leaving the home, and going outside into the world, brings a freshness, a change to the mind and body that can definitely assist with writing.

Bio:

Marcia Carrington writes about the human condition, exploring what makes people tick, but in an upbeat and optimistic tone. She is an interested observer of popular culture, and fan of cinema from all eras and countries, especially from the 1930-1970s. Marcia is a long-time soap opera viewer, watching daytime, and night time serials from a very young age.

Marcia is also a food connoisseur, with a particular love of chocolate, and coffee. The morning coffee has always been a staple for Marcia, and something which she cannot do without. There is just something about the fresh aroma of coffee early in the morning, and anytime for that fact, which proves irresistible to her.

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

~SAT

#WW Judging An Author’s Life

10 Jun

Judging An Author’s Life

The photo

The photo

Recently—and by “recently” I mean a month ago—I posted this photo on my Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, and . . . well, pretty much anywhere on the Internet that I have an account on. To my surprise, (and still to my confusion), I received a bit a slack for this. It was a Wednesday afternoon, fairly nice outside, and due to the events of my day, I ended up in my hometown with one of my best friends. When it started raining, we ducked into a bookstore, and I couldn’t help myself. I bought a book—Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan to be exact—and some sticky notes for work since my stockpile was dwindling. The caption of my photo read, “Silly rain. Forcing me to hide in a bookstore to collect books until the sun came out.”

I didn’t think anything of it. I simply thought, “Hey! I am having fun. This has to do with reading, and I bet my readers would enjoy sharing this moment with me.” Because that’s what I think every time I post something—I think about how much fun it is to share these bits and pieces of my life with my wonderful followers. I don’t think much beyond that. So, I guess that’s why I was so surprised when I received a message, stating that I was adding to the misguidance of the industry and how authors live—how our lives actually are and how much of a struggle it is to be a writer—that I was adding to the “problem”, to the mirage of authordom.

And this is my open letter to you, dear sir, about that photo and my life as an author.

First and foremost, social media is up to the individual controlling that social media. No one else. I share what I choose to share, and I choose to share my fun and delightful moments. That goes to say that I’ve often—more often than not—discussed many difficult aspects of my life on my blog, particularly my mother’s death and my college roommate’s death. I’ve discussed moving around a lot as a child and finding myself creating stories and characters to make up for my lack of real human connection. I’ve confessed to doubting everything, and I’ve strived to remind myself (and my readers) why we write . . . which is always because I love to write and read. All of these topics have been on my blog. Numerous times. Throughout almost three years of blogging. But I’m assuming you’re judging me based on one or two photos posted during the afternoon. I know which ones you’re looking at. After all, I’m the one who shares all the moments of coffee, cats, and books. And guess what? That is my life. But it isn’t my whole life, and by no means have I ever expressed that “I do this every day.” Take this photo for instance. At no point does it state, “Here I am on my daily afternoon walk, just buying a dozen books for me to read this week.” In fact, I only bought one . . . with a gift card that my older brother bought me for Christmas . . . five months before this photo was taken . . . five months in which I saved that card just for the perfect moment to buy a novel on a day I needed some cheering up.

You see, back in January, I lost my car and my job, and I had to move to another state. (Something I openly discussed on my blog, by the way.) And ever since January, I’ve been building myself back up. On the very day this very photo was taken, I had finally saved up enough to buy a car, and I did, but I was broke afterward. That gift card was then used to help me buy office supplies (the sticky notes) that I had run out of, and I happened to see a novel I really wanted. Did I have to buy it then? No. Of course not. But it was a way of reminding myself that I am proud of how much I saved from my hard work and how far I’ve come in the five months since hitting rock bottom. My car was a long-needed necessity. This novel was a reward for the five months I’ve worked and saved and walked without one.

Why didn’t I put that story as my caption? Well, aside from the fact that it would be the longest caption in the world, the caption was my decision—and my decision was to express how much fun I was having and how much fun I wanted to share with my readers.

By no means was I trying to portray myself as an author who spends their days browsing bookstores. By no means was I trying to pretend I could afford every book left and right. By no means was I trying to prove something at all. I was just being me. I was just sharing me. By stating authors have to share ugly moments of their lives, we’re stating something ridiculous—that we assume they don’t have human lives—and that is a ridiculous presumption to have about anyone.

There is ugliness in everyone’s life, but I choose to focus on the happy moments, and I want my readers to know that they can have fun and encouragement when they come to me. I choose to share laughter and coffee and silly cats and paperbacks slung over my shoulder. I choose to post only when I’m smiling too—because I want to smile with my readers. I want my readers to feel encouraged when they come to me, not discouraged, and that is my choice, just like sharing my emotions around my mother’s death is my choice. I am not perfect, and I do not pretend to be, but no one should assume that about me either. Authors are human, after all, but not every detail of my life needs to be publicized all across the web (even though a large portion of it is).

Take my cats for instance. They’ve stared in my YouTube channel. They’ve done interviews on my blog. They’ve popped up on my Instagram and even shown their kitty faces on my Twitter. I love them, and since I work at home, I spend a lot of time around them. I share them in the grass, on the couch, while they are sleeping and playing. I make cartoons with them and pose with them and cuddle with them all the time (sometimes even when I don’t want to cuddle). And when I share them, people have fun—because most people love animals—and I have fun—because most people have shared their pets with me—and it’s a fun way to connect and relate to one another as friends instead of Internet strangers. I’d even like to exchange photos of my pets with you. But if you really want to see the ugly moments instead, I’d be more than happy to send you photos of me cleaning out the litter box instead of my three cats cuddling on the couch. (Just kidding, of course . . . I think.)

~SAT

#SATurday Author Goals

6 Jun

#SATurday Author Goals

About a week ago, my publisher—Clean Teen Publishing—went to Book Expo of America (#BEA15) to share our novels with the world. Awesome, right? I almost jumped out of my computer chair at the sight (and I rarely leave that chair, considering I’m a writer ::wink::) After that, I basically stalked their LIVE pictures all afternoon and wished I were there . . . which brings me to what I want to talk about.

Author goals.

Everyone discusses word count for the day or hopeful release dates. Sometimes, I even see a confession of wanting to hit the New York Times bestseller list, of dreaming up a day that their novel is a movie, but I haven’t seen a lot of variety in author goals. Main one? Get popular. It’s generally worded differently, of course, but that’s what I generally see, and I want to take a moment to clarify how much I don’t think that’s wrong. (I don’t.) I just wish I saw different types of goals discussed. I don’t know about you all, but I wonder about my author goals a lot. I know I want to be able to travel more. In fact, by next summer, I hope I am packing up and hitting the road with boxes of books in my truck (or on a plane or train or whatever I’m on). I have a set goal for UtopYA, but I also would like to make it to more events than one. That’s currently my biggest goal. (And that specific goal gets bigger for me.)

Here is Clean Teen Publishing at BEA15!

Here is Clean Teen Publishing at BEA15!

Why do I want to travel as an author more?

Well, I mainly want to have the opportunity to meet more readers face to face. I want to shake their hand, hug them, take an Instagram photo with them, sign their book, give them a cookie, etc. Anything really. This is about to get crazy, and it’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I think one of my biggest dreams is traveling as an author but always meeting a random reader (out of a lottery of readers in that city) for coffee. This means that if I meet my goal of traveling more by next summer, you should look out, because I am going to meet SOMEONE for coffee. That is a promise.

This is a goal of mine, and it might seem silly or outlandish or that I’m dreaming too wildly, but traveling is in my bones. I grew up on the road. I travel anyway. I just want to incorporate that part of my life into my writing life, and I want to take it as an opportunity to thank those who have supported me along the road of life. (See what I did there? God, I love cheesy metaphors.)

Sure, a lot of authors want to hit those bestseller lists or have movies made out of their books, but I don’t think those are on my goals. (Not that I’d complain if it happened.) But I think most of my goals revolve around giving out more gifts to readers and meeting more readers (and meeting more writers). I dream of flying to Australia to meet one of my super fans who’s begged me to come out there. I dream of flying my readers out to a major Comic Con they’ve been wanting to go to. I dream of involving readers in my writing process. (And in fact, I think a beta reading opportunity might be coming up soon, so look out for that.) I dream of meeting them, and I think it’s because I am a reader—just as much as I am a writer—and meeting my favorite authors are some of the highlights of my life. Traveling more might help that happen!

This isn’t a promise or manifesto by any means. I’m just a girl with a dream, trying to make it happen every day, and talking about it out of curiosity more than anything else (and a tad bit of embarrassment ::blush::).

My other author goals include sitting on a panel at a literary festival, attending a Comic Con as an author, collaborating on a novel (specifically like Holly Black did with Cassandra Clare, when your characters appear in one another’s novels but don’t’ necessarily affect the story, not the actual collaboration novel they did), teaching a writer seminar for young writers, and seeing a book translated into another language. (The other language dream stems from the fact that I love languages, and I have a deep appreciate for language, especially after studying Italian in college at a fluent level.) And . . . I probably have so many more but those are the ones that came to mind today.

What are your author goals? And if you’re not a writer, what are your reading goals? (For instance, I want to meet Meg Cabot and Ally Carter. I want to meet them SO bad.) Let’s talk about your goals!

~SAT

We’re coming up on one year since Take Me Tomorrow released, but this YA dystopian novel was only available for a few months. Recently, I’ve received a lot of messages about how to get ahold of a copy, and now you can!

By donating to www.ShannonAThompson.com, you will receive an eBook as well as a permanent website slot on the donations page. All the proceeds will go toward book events later this year and next year, so we can finally meet in person. (Think UtopYA.) Once you donate, you can expect an email from shannonathompson@aol.com within 24 hours!

Thank you for your continuous support,
~SAT

Donate & more information on donating

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#MondayBlogs: Never Give Up On An Idea

1 Jun

Intro:

Pau’s Castles is a website that has a special place in my heart. I first met Pau across the blogosphere when I asked her to read The Timely Death Trilogy. Her reviewing style blew me away, and we ended up chatting—and never stopping. Her friendship is something I continue to cherish. Pau is a writer and an avid book reviewer, and I know you all will enjoy her blog as much as I do. She’s cheerful, insightful, and passionate—and today’s topic covers all of those emotions. If you’re a writer, you have probably written a story, then walked away, then came back, then walked away again, and then came back again. It happens all too often. And we wonder why we keep returning. Is it worth it? Well, I’ll let Pau explain that, but I will say this: I have been trying to rewrite and re-release my first published novel, November Snow, for eight years now. I understand leaving and coming back and leaving and coming back. This topic is something Pau and I have discussed in great depth before. Writing a novel is never going to be the same for everyone, and as an author, I know writing one novel isn’t going to be like writing another novel. (Writing The Timely Death Trilogy wasn’t like writing November Snow.) I believe leaving and coming back is significant, and Pau explains it beautifully. Please visit Pau’s Castles. She’s a wonderful writer well worth knowing!

Never Give Up On An Idea by Pau’s Castles 

lucian-and-luna

(On the photo: Lucky Blue Smith and Pyper America Smith)

The reason why I’m using this photo is because these two models are my character references for Lucian and Luna (originally named Danae, but the name didn’t seem right) Malliarch—two of my leads in a current work-in-progress called Between Two Worlds.

Between Two Worlds started out as an idea back in 2013. Initially, the title was Attachment, which didn’t feel right at the time so it took a turn to being called Samantha’s Diary, but eventually, that didn’t feel right too, so now it is finally called Between Two Worlds. As you can see, I have already changed a character’s name once and the title had been changed twice. My point in saying all this is that if you have an idea, which does not seem to rest, don’t let it rest! Since I started with the idea for Between Two Worlds, I had two other story ideas. One even reached so much research and conceptualizing, but everything didn’t seem to fit in. The characters of Between Two Worlds were screaming in my head, telling me to finish their story first.

So what’s the good thing about not giving up on an idea?

1. You get to know more things every single time you try to write about it again

The original piece for Between Two Worlds was very different from how it is now. I never actually finished the original one because I did not know how to end it at the time which makes not giving up on the idea even greater. Eventually I discovered a lot of things which can help on the major points of the plot so it led me to a perfect (for now) ending.

2. The smaller details cascade in the thought process

When an idea is fresh, we’re all excited to write about it. We’re all excited for the big stuff to happen that we fail to recognize the importance of the smaller details. For example, there’s this scene on the novel about a fork road. On the first time I wrote it, the fork road was just an insignificant path on the forest. Now that I’m writing in the third time around, the fork road suddenly had a back story which is significant to the characters.

3. The characters are easier to write about

Sometimes, not giving up on an idea makes us know about our characters on a deeper level. Sometimes we discover things which didn’t seem right on the first times we wrote about them. My example on my work here is Danae Malliarch, now known as Luna Malliarch. I felt quite detached to her because there was something off about her name back then, but it never occurred to me what it was. It turned out that I have a personal admiration to the name “Danae” but it didn’t fit the personality of character. Now that she’s named Luna, it sounds a lot catchier next to her brother’s name — Lucian.

4. The plot is easier to write about

This is simply because you already know the general flow of events. Maybe you can just add a few more scenes to not make the pace too fast (but be careful! It might get too draggy. Remember to include only the necessary ones to the plot) but other than that, you know where it’s going.

5. You find out the reason why you never gave up on it in the first place

A friend who’s currently doing Lucian Malliarch’s digital painting told me, “Pau, Lucian is a lovely character. I don’t see him as a character stuck in your laptop. Instead, I see him as a character people would know and love.”

Personally, I don’t know the reason yet as to why I never gave up on the idea surrounding Between Two Worlds, but I am excited to find out. Hopefully, you guys will get to read about it in the future.

Found this post helpful? Let me know what you think through the comments below or email me (pauscastles@gmail.com) if you have questions and suggestions for future writer-related posts!

Connect with Pau:

Website, FacebookTwitterInstagram

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

May’s Ketchup

30 May

May’s Ketchup

Can you believe it? Another month has flown by. And it’s still raining here in Missouri. Almost constantly. It’s actually rather unusual weather for us (to this degree), and I’m starting to wonder why I tend to begin these with a weather report. (I have no idea, but I enjoy it.) Alas, May has ended, and flowers have bloomed, and exciting stories have come and go. During my recent move (and by “recent”, I mean seven months ago), I wasn’t able to bring my bookshelf, so my the books I’ve read are stacking up . . . just like my excitement for the future! We are only two months away from the release date of Minutes Before Sunset, July 28, but I’ll get to that in the Ketchup!

For those of you just now checking in this month, Ketchup actually means “catch up”. At the end of every month, I write these posts describing what goes on behind the scenes at ShannonAThompson.com. Some of the topics I cover include my big moments, top blog posts, my top referrer, #1 SEO term, YouTube videos, Members of the Week, and more in order to show insights that will hopefully help fellow bloggers see what was popular. I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

Thank you for being a part of my life this May!

Big Moments:

DBDcoverThe cover for Death Before Daylight released—and I’m beyond excited that Death Before Daylight will finally get into the hands of readers this September. In the meantime, Minutes Before Sunset releases July 28, and it is up for pre-order. (The pre-order link was also my #1 clicked item, so thank you!) I’ve been receiving all sorts of inspirational and encouraging messages from you all regarding The Timely Death Trilogy and future novels. So much so, that I’m at a loss for words. But I will say that this summer and fall are sure to be fantastic! A book signing is already underway, and the content disclosure trees have already released. On top of that, you can still enter to win one of three paperbacks of Minutes Before Sunset via Goodreads.

My #1 clicked item was pre-ordering Minutes Before Sunset! Thank you!!!

My #1 clicked item was pre-ordering Minutes Before Sunset! Thank you!!!

Top Three Blog Posts:

1. Authors, Be Yourself: It’s easy to get intimidated by what other authors are doing. See how they have more followers? They even have higher sales! You should copy them to get to where they are, right? Wrong. There’s no reason to fret, and there’s absolutely no reason you should change yourself. This article talks about what you should concentrate on—and that’s being yourself.

2. When Writing is Not All You Do: Written by John Tompkins, this article addresses a viral article that went out a few weeks ago about authors working full-time. John discusses the differences between full-time authors and authors who work full-time on top of working as an author.

3. The Thing About Author Interviews: Written by Jonas Lee, this article discusses the importance of overcoming your nerves and getting out in front of your audience so they can get to know you. (His interview channel is also open to interview you!)

Other Blog Posts:

Guest Post:

My Book Story on The Modest Verge: I was asked to discuss a novel that has affected my life, and I talk about A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah.

#1 SEO Term: Wattpad

#1 SEO Term: Wattpad

YouTube Channel:

Book Girlfriends (5.19)

Ex Machina and Robots (5.15)

Book Boyfriends (5.13)

Love Triangles (5.05)

RUSBSAt the end of the month, I also like to take a moment to thank all of the websites who supported me by posting reviews, interviews, and features. I also like to specially thank the Members of the Dark. Every week, I award one member a “Member of Week” badge, and out of those monthly members, one of them will win an eBook of their choosing as well as more prizes. If you would like to be a member or review my novels or interview me, please send me an email at shannonathompson@aol.com. I always love speaking with new bloggers, writers, and readers! And I will share your post on all of my websites.

Dark Members of the Week: A Readers Review, Mel’s Shelves, In Between the Pages, Legends of Windemere (Also, a shout out goes to the winner of the bookmark for helping with the Death Before Daylight cover reveal, Crazy Beautiful)

Reviewers:

Minutes Before Sunset: The Schwartz Reviews, Crazy Beautiful

Seconds Before Sunrise: Crazy Beautiful, MacyStories

Features: Death Before Daylight featured on April’s Favorite Reads

Calculated on May 27 at 19,753 followers

Calculated on May 27 at 19,753 followers

#SATurday: The Lightning Lesson

23 May

#SATurday The Lightning Lesson

When I was little, part of my bedtime routine was taking a shower at night. But—as my mother would have it—we had one very important rule. No showering if there was a thunderstorm outside. She told us we’d be electrocuted if we did.

Now, being little and a future artist, you should know upfront that I was a tad bit dramatic as a kid. (Maybe a little today, too.) But there was one night where a babysitter said I had to take a bath before my parents came home . . . even though it was raining. I freaked out. And by “freaked out”, I mean screamed and cried while I took a birdbath out of the sink (and I’m pretty sure my babysitter considered quitting her job because I never saw her again.)

Fast-forward a few years later and I got over my phobia my mom instilled in me. I wrote it off as one of those nuances she had, one of those personality traits or funny stories you tell around the table . . . until I got strep throat. That day, while I was napping around the house, I happened to watch Myth Busters—the taking a shower during a thunderstorm episode. And if you’ve never seen it, I suggest you watch it (if you want to be terrified of thunderstorms for the rest of your life, that is). I tried to find a legal sample clip, but alas, Myth Busters charges $1.99 via YouTube, so here’s an article that explained what happened in the episode: Is It Dangerous To Take A Shower During A Thunderstorm?

Lightning photo provided by Bruce Guenter, modifications made under creative commons license.

Photo provided by Bruce Guenter, modifications made under creative commons license.

Now that you’re statically charged, you must feel how I felt—horrified that I ever doubted my mother. She wasn’t a dumb woman. What trekky could be? But—being a teenage artist—I think rebellion came naturally, even when she wasn’t physically here to rebel against. (I am walking proof that you can, in fact, rebel against the dead . . . and I say that with the utmost respect . . . especially now that I’m older and realize how right she was about, oh, everything.)

You see, originally, I wrote this off as a nuance—something I said above but didn’t entirely explain. While growing up in Kansas, she lived in this two-story house on a golf course, and the old chimney had been struck by lightning numerous times. Numerous times. I still remember my grandfather sarcastically repeating the phrase “Lightning never strikes the same place twice.” Because it does. At least, it did. It struck my grandparents’ home—the same one I wrote about in The Secret Garden of Trees—and later, while we were living in Georgia, our neighbor’s tree was struck with lightning. I cannot even begin to describe how loud that moment in my life was. But there was fire, and then, the rain came down so hard that the fire was gone, but the tree was split to the roots, and my mother and I happened to be sitting in the living room near it when it happened. I thought lightning was just a phobia of hers. Now I realize lightning is just a part of nature—as obvious as that sounds—and it’s better to be cautious of it but also to recognize the beauty of it.

Nature has a way of reminding us just how human and fragile we are, but nature also shows us just how majestic the world can be. It is both frightening and fascinating, but today, I find those two words are very much the same when held under the thunderstorm umbrella of respect, and I respect my memories of nature just as much as a cherish my memories with my mother . . . yes, even the lightning hitting the tree one.

~SAT

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