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#MondayBlogs: Inner Dragons

26 Jan

Intro:

Mondays are easily becoming one of my favorite days of the week – all because of the guest bloggers right here during #MondayBlogs! Today’s post is brought to you by one of my top commenters last year – Deby Fredericks – and she is writing about writers and their inner demons…or dragons. Check out her website and her books!

Inner Dragons

We writers often do battle against doubts, fears, writing blocks, etc. Call them inner dragons. If we aren’t careful, we can sabotage ourselves with negative self-talk.

One common inner dragon is the fiendish beast Comparison, which makes us treat writing like a competitive sport. Say you struggled for an hour to finish a single page, 250 measly words. Then on Facebook an author friend brags about their wonderful 2,500-word day. It’s too easy to compare word counts and decide you’re a slacker because you didn’t get as much done.

Or when your publisher is a small press and only pays royalties, you might hear publicity of another author’s six-figure deal. That can make you feel like a failure because your deal isn’t as rich.

Comparison depends on a backward definition of success. It wants you to focus on the end of the process while you’re still at the beginning. Every page you write is a battle. Life is so hectic, anything you complete is a victory. A single page, a stanza of a poem, a chapter of a novel — they all build to something larger.

One of my favorite writing quotes is from the late SF author, Jay Lake. “If you write one page every day, you will have completed a novel in a year.” Believe this, and go slay that dragon!

Air&FireAnother inner dragon we writers often battle is the dire monster, Futility. This dragon wants us to become obsessed with things we can’t control. This might mean editorial rejections, sales figures, negative reviews, or the length of time it takes an agent to answer your query.

Even worse, writers sometimes make New Year Resolutions based on things we can’t control. “Sell five short stories this year” is a perfect example. All of these are things we can’t control, but I have several friends who consistently work themselves into a tizzy, swear to quit writing, then apologize to everyone who got worried about them.

Let’s just be logical. We have no way of knowing, when we query or submit a story, how many other queries and submissions will arrive on the same day. We don’t know what else is going on in the editor’s or agent’s life. We have no way to know what past experiences readers bring that affect how our work appears to them.

A more productive approach is to focus on things that we can control. We can’t make purchasing decisions — but we can set a goal to write five stories and submit them. We can’t make readers buy our books — but if we self-publish, we can choose enticing covers and work our social networks to increase sales. We can’t make agents represent us — but we can gather data and present it in a way the agent may look upon favorably. To attract friendly reviews, we might give a few reviews ourselves.

To quote that one song, we just have to “let it go” on things that aren’t ours to decide, and do the rest just as well as we can.

Do you ever tell people about your writing? I hope so. You’ll have a hard time building an audience if you don’t. Even more important, do you tell people about your work in a way that slights or insults yourself? “Oh, it’s just a hobby of mine.” “I’m not very good at it.” “It’s a little poem/song/story I write. Really bad, isn’t it?”

If any of these phrases sound familiar, you’re a victim of the evil dragon Self-Minimization.

I often hear writers minimize themselves. Sometimes men, but more often women. Our culture has this thing where we teach men to stand up and speak for themselves while women are taught to sit down and be quiet. But, as writers, we simply can’t afford to sit quietly.

Naturally, everyone has moments of doubt. The competition is intense and rejection hurts. Minimizing ourselves can be a way to deflect pain. It can also be a chain that holds us back. If your spouse said to you, “Why are you wasting your time with this?” you’d be pretty upset. You’d defend yourself. But when it’s your own voice saying, “You’ll never sell anything,” self-defense is that much harder.

Deby Fredericks

Deby Fredericks

It’s because the competition is so intense that we must slay this dragon. No one ever sold a story without submitting it first. Self-Minimizing can be as much a habit as a reaction to stress. Begin to train your brain for the battle. “Yes, I’ve been writing for ten years.” “I’m getting pretty good at this.” “It’s a poem/song/story I wrote. Isn’t it great?”

Funny thing is, most people will take you at your word. If you say you’re a poet or author, they’ll believe you. Once you fight off that self-minimizing dragon, you’ll see how high you can fly!

Bio: Deby Fredericks is a small press author of fantasy and children’s novels. The latest is a book for middle-grades, Masters of Air & Fire, due in February 2015. Her blog, Wyrmflight, is all about dragons, and her home on the web is http://www.debyfredericks.com.

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

~SAT

#SATurday: Writing in Shackles

24 Jan

#SATurday: Writing in Shackles

I recently found out I have early-onset carpal tunnel syndrome. I wasn’t even sure if that was a rare disorder for a female 23-year-old. Apparently, it is. I honestly don’t know much about it at all, but I am definitely learning. Being told I have to wear wrist splints for 6 weeks was my first lesson. As I’m writing this, I have successfully failed my first attempted night with my sleep shackles. Sort of. One is off so I can write. Across my desk, the other waits with open arms – or fasteners.

I have to confess that up until recently I always thought writing was the exception to the once-you-get-old-you-can’t-do-that-anymore rule. Unlike sports.

When I was 19, I worked in a small Mexican joint called Los Cabos, which I guess means I worked in the Midwest “capes”. I actually find that quite suiting since the air conditioning broke that summer, causing two hostesses to faint from the heat. But there was one coworker I remember quite vividly. He was a year older than me, working as a waiter until he could “figure things out”. I wasn’t sure what he meant until our boss allowed us to wear shorts (due to that pesky AC), and I saw his secret. It was impossible not to. I asked him about his overly intense knee brace.

As it turned out, the guy had a full ride scholarship to play football at one of those fancy universities I won’t bother naming. On the first day of practice – during the very first day he was living his dream – everything changed. He blew his knee out, and the scholarship was revoked. No more school. No more football. No more knee. But he could be a waiter.

I’m not judging waiters. I’m not. I worked in a restaurant for four years, after all. But the idea of dedicating 20+ years to your passion – in this case, football – and losing it from one injury has always (and deeply) disturbed me.

That was why I found extra comfort in my passion for writing. It was injury-free, practically safe. Potential insanity was my only concern. Not physical pain.

shackles

In my naïve head, I truly believed the only way I would lose writing was if something bizarre (and probably horrible and tragic) happened to my hands – a car wreck severed my fingers, a cancer consumed my veins, a disease peeled off my skin, etc. You get the picture.

I’m not sure why I thought this. Correction: I’m not sure why I let myself believe this. My late mother had rheumatoid arthritis, nerve damage, and Reynard’s Disease – all of which affected her daily hand functions – but she always had perfect nails. They always looked nice. Maybe that’s why some of her health problems never truly sank in. She appeared physically able – most of the time – to 11-year-old me anyway. But now – in this moment – I wonder what it would be like if she were still alive. I wonder if she would say anything to me about carpal tunnel. Maybe she could deliver some comfort by explaining how she overcame her daily pain, but I suppose she eventually succumbed to her pain instead of overcoming it, and I believe that’s why I might be entirely too disturbed by something – apparently – so regular. In argument, blowing out your knee is common, too, and so is losing your dream.

I don’t think I have lost my dream, but I feel for those who have.

If writing were a crime, wrist splints would be shackles and carpal tunnel would be the punishment of jail. Six weeks is my current sentence – but at least it’s only a lifestyle change, an adjustment, per se. And even I know my dramatics will subside if they haven’t already. Writing calms me. The pen allows me to breathe free air. And when I’m done writing this out, I will put my wrist splints back on as splints – not shackles – and I’ll take them off in the morning so I can write again. But until then, I feel for that waiter with the blown out knee and that girl who wasn’t tall enough to be a stewardess and that colorblind kid who only wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force.

I hope you found another dream to live,

~SAT on #SATurday

#WW Why Dedications Are Important

21 Jan

Why Dedications Are Important

Today I wanted to cover a topic I find personally important in my novels. It may not be as vital to every author out there, but I place a lot of my heart into dedicating my novel to someone for many reasons, and I thought I would share why. I’m also going to be using the dedications in my own novels as examples. This is not to say all authors must have dedications, but I will say why I find it important as a reader and as a writer, and I would love to hear your reasons for loving (or disliking) dedications in the comments below!

 1. Readers

As a reader myself, I always love reading dedications at the front of a book. First, it allows me to have a sneak peek at the author’s personality. Second, it might hint as to why the book was written – which, in itself, will deepen my own connection with the book right from the start – and third, it can remind readers there is a person behind the work they are about to read. A dedication is almost like the author coming up, introducing themselves, and stating what matters to them. Even if it’s not entirely clear – like I don’t know their brother or why they are so close – I do know they have a brother, someone they care about, and the courage to share that love for that person with the world right next to their hard work.

The dedication in book 1 of The Timely Death Trilogy, Minutes Before Sunset reads, “Dedicated to my roommates, Kristine Andersen and Megan Paustian, for the timeless memories and unfailing support.”

For those of you who have followed me since the beginning, you might remember the day my roommate, Kristine, died, but Megan, Kristine, and I lived together for years, and the effects of those years remain close to my heart. Being able to express my gratitude for their friendship was indescribable, especially since MBS released seven months after Kristine’s death. Without them, I’m not sure I would’ve ever pursued publication again.

three

2. Authors

As the author of the story, it’s both a sad and happy moment when I complete a novel, but without fail, whenever I finish writing a novel, I remember when it began. I’m not sure if I am strange or not, but I remember the exact moment a story is born, even if it’s a small moment, and I am eternally grateful for that moment – even if it seems crazy.

The dedication in book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy, Seconds Before Sunrise, reads, “Dedicated to Calone – for showing how the darkness can be brighter than the light.”

What you don’t know is probably obvious: who is Calone? What is she talking about? Well, for one, you might have read My Dream. The Timely Death Trilogy was born from a series of night terrors and nightmares I was having during a very difficult time in my life. The focus of these dreams became a boy – the very boy my protagonist, Eric, is based off of – but back then, in real life, his name was Calone. My sequel is dedicated to someone who is not technically real but he is real to me, and his presence is the singular reason the trilogy existed in the first place. He also did exactly what my dedication says: he showed me how accepting fear and pain can grow into something stronger than strength. Through that, the concept of Dark vs. Light (with the Dark being the good guys) was born, and the second book was written. (In case, you haven’t been following for a while, the second book was written before the first, so that’s why SBS was dedicated to him rather than MBS.)

3. The Inspiration and the support

As the author, I never forget those who have supported my novels the most. I know many of you haven’t read Death Before Daylight, and I’m still incredibly sorry it will not be available for purchasing, but – again – I would like to take this moment to remind all trilogy readers that you can get a PDF copy of DBD for free simply by emailing me at shannonathompson@aol.com. Now that that is out of the way…

The dedication in book 3 of The Timely Death Trilogy, Death Before Daylight, reads, “Dedicated to Alex – for dreaming up daylight in a dark place.”

Alex even came to my book signing last year!

Alex even came to my book signing last year!

Alex has been one of my closest friends since I was 11 years old. She is also the reason the trilogy is a trilogy at all. Originally, it was only going to be the first two books, but then, she dealt with all my crazy conversations about this book, and one night, she had a dream about it. She told me every last detail, and with her permission, I morphed it into the last book of the trilogy. If you’ve had a chance to read it, the dedication will probably make even more sense, but this dedication opportunity finally allowed me to thank her – almost seven years after she had that dream.

In the end (or the beginning of a novel) a dedication serves a purpose. The words show a connection, a reason, and a lifetime of acknowledgements. Novels are never born on their own. There are many people and inspirations that allowed a book to make it into existence, and even though I will soon lose mine, the moment of sharing a dedication will never cease to breathe life into my love for writing and for those who have inspired me. As someone who has a difficult time expressing my emotions in person, dedicating my work to my loved ones has been my way of showcasing how much I care about them. So, consider sharing your dedications with those who inspire you. They might get the chance to see how one small sentence can mean so much to so many people.

~SAT

Check this out: Write Out Loud wrote an article – yes, an article – about my services that I provide for writers both as an editor and as a social media assistant. Here is just a small quote, “I don’t know anyone else on the fiction-writing scene who has such a well-rounded knowledge of the industry. With the new author in mind, Shannon offers very low fees for editing service starting at $1 per 1,000 words for content editing and $2 per 1,000 words for proofreading.” If you want to read the full article, click on this link. If you want to check out my services, click on this link.

After such a rough time recently, I can honestly say working with fellow writers has been one of the most uplifting experiences in 2015!

#SATurday: The Scar of Childhood

17 Jan

The Scar of Childhood

Mine is on the left side of my right leg, directly below the knee. I cannot describe the shape because it depends on the temperature of the day and what I was wearing. Sometimes, that piece of scarred flesh is blue, but most days it radiates red. The biggest scar from my childhood will probably never go away – as most scars do – but I mean to say, “go away” in another way, in a way others bring it up over and over again. In other words, my scar bothers people.

It is nothing new to me. The bits of whispers or gestures caught in my peripheral senses reflect the summer days I dare to wear shorts. Sometimes, someone even asks if I’m okay or if I need a Band-Aid. I don’t judge them. After all, I am aware of how red the burn scar gets after a day in the sun. Up close, it can look like it just happened. From a distance, it sometimes appears to be bleeding.

Gross? Definitely. But I do wish I could wear shorts without questioning the number of people I will surely gross out during my daily commute. Being asked if I have a disease from a complete stranger isn’t exactly a confidence boost, so I generally wear pants all year around – just to avoid all the trouble.

I’ve tried to overcome this insecurity of mine. Trust me. I have gone through the stare-all-you-want phase. But it ended somewhere along the way – on a day I was too tired to explain, “No, it isn’t contagious” and follow up with the explanation of where it came from.

In case you were wondering what a Vino moped looks like

In case you were wondering what a Vino moped looks like

It happened in 2006. I had just turned 14, and I was celebrating with my favorite gift from 2003. My father had gave me a Vino moped painted a merlot red (my favorite color). Why he thought this was safe for a teenager is still beyond me, but it wasn’t illegal on private property nor is it rare for preteens and teenagers to have mopeds and dirt bikes in the Midwest. Plus, I did drive it for two years without incident. The third year, 2006, brought the incident.

We had a forest of acres behind our house. If you’ve read Take Me Tomorrow, these are the same trees Sophia falls in love with – the trees I crashed my moped into.

It’s impossible to explain the logic going through my head that day, but the forest had mowed trails I drove on all the time. Perhaps it was familiarity that allowed me to ignore the dangers of that specific day. The difference this particular moment was the small amount of moisture on the ground. The end result was enough mud to sling my back tire out from under me.

The engine landed on my leg.

I guess that is how scars are born – singular moments, sometimes in moments much like other moments, with only one dramatic change, but the scarring moment stays with you forever while all the others melt together or melt away.

For me, childhood is much like that scar – a collection of good memories I cannot separate from one or the other and a few, very defined moments I cannot sever from my every day life – but I would not wish it away.

The absence of my scar might make my daily life easier – simpler – but I would lose a story to tell. I would lose MY story. I would lose me.

~SAT

P.S. I have worked with some wonderful authors this week through my Services, and I wanted to give them all a big shout-out! Check out their work by clicking the links below.

threeuahotrs

A Time to Reap by Jonas Lee (YA, fantasy, time-traveling)

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars by Jeb Kinnison (YA, thriller, modern-day dystopia)

Along the Way to Happily-Ever-After by T.N. Carpenter (self-help, memoir about marriage)

The Struggling (Sometimes Starving) Writer

24 Dec

The Struggling (Sometimes Starving) Writer

As many of you know, I love listening. Hearing the stories of strangers is often the most inspiring moments of my own life. It’s also how I fell in love with listening, and this is why I enjoy hearing your opinions and suggestions so much. Recently, Bob Clary – the Marketing Manager for Webucator – asked me to write a blog post that answered a few questions about novel writing, but his focus went a little further than that. The main idea fixated on writing despite lack of financial gain – a very common occurrence among authors – and I’m not an exception. Since graduating from the University of Kansas, I’ve been searching for work, but I haven’t had much luck, and recently, I lost my car. Now, finding work has been even more grueling, and there are days where I’m often at a loss for hope. It is in those moments that I write more, and it is then how much I realize writing has helped me.

When I first started writing, it was out of pure love for the craft. How could it not be? I was a child. I had very few things to worry about – other than moving around. Before I was 14, I had moved six times. The road was very much my home, but the road can be lonely. It was difficult to make friends, and when I did, moving again didn’t permit me to keep friends for long. Writing allowed me to entertain myself, but it went much further than that. Writing also allowed me to explore friendship in fantasies I created, and since I created them, they didn’t have to go away, and for that reason, I was perfectly content living in a fantasy world for a very long time. It wasn’t until my mother passed away when I was eleven years old that I realized my writing was my first love but also my first coping mechanism. Writing was my way of living, and I wanted to spend my life writing. By choosing this path, I hoped to help and inspire others – especially young people. Through writing, I wanted to show it was possible to follow the dream despite difficulties. In fact, I wanted to prove it.

My peaceful moments.

My peaceful moments.

Those are still my goals today, but – of course – life is very different now that I’m 23. I struggle to pay the bills. I cannot afford to buy a new car. And I’ve spent a good amount of time walking around in twenty-degree weather looking for another job to take on top of my author gig as well as working for my publisher. I used to be ashamed of my situation, but then, I began journaling again, and I found comfort in exploring my frustrations in words that no one but me had to see. Now, it is not as hard to be open with others about my life. Writing allows me to be honest. It brings me the strength to continue forward, and it both comforts the bad days and energizes the good ones. Writing becomes my motivation, and that motivation has brought me to marvelous places with magnificent people.

I’ve been able to meet dozens of authors, hundreds of readers, and even more people I would’ve never been able to connect with before pursuing publication. I have spoken with you, laughed with you, and created with you. Sharing my own creations has stretched my happiness beyond what I could’ve done by myself because it was in that sharing where I found confidence – a content place in my heart where I continue to explore the possibilities of writing. To all aspiring writers, this is where I feel most loved – in creating words and sharing words – and as long as you keep the love for writing close to your heart, your fingertips will never stop yearning to write more.

I don’t live a lavish lifestyle or even anything close, but I live my life to the best of my ability, and I continue to love writing no matter the hardships I face because my readers, fellow writers, and love for words motivates me. No matter how much I struggle, there is always peace in pursing a passion.

~SAT

P.S. Merry Christmas to those that celebrate!

P.S.S. Check out this awesome fan art Books Everywhere created for our interview. If you’ve read Take Me Tomorrow, you might recognize this image as a depiction of “cat-eyes” – an effect caused by consuming the clairvoyant drug, tomo.

Thank you, Book Everywhere!

Thank you, Book Everywhere!

My Love Story: Poetry Edition

14 Sep

Announcements: 

Bonnie Brown’s Book Reviews posted her thoughts on Minutes Before Sunset, stating, “This was a book I slowly fell in love with. When I first picked it up, I wasn’t instantly hooked on it but as the pages ticked by I realized I was falling further and further in love with the story and characters. Until it became one of those books that you think, ‘okay, just a few more pages before work…….’. Then you look up at the clock and realize your already supposed to be at work and your still in your jammies… reading the book…~Oops~It’s one of those books.” But you can read more of her love story by clicking here.

My Love Story: Poetry Edition

I’ve been receiving a handful of messages and emails about my interactive poetry series on Wattpad, so I thought I would address my poems a little bit more today. But – first – I am so grateful that you’re enjoying my latest endeavor, and I look forward to sharing more in the near future. Many of you have asked me about my poetry – mainly regarding my voice and subject matter – and I am here to announce one thing: I will be explaining the poems during my YouTube posts, and you can expect the first post later this week. That being said, today I’m telling a story. (Because I’m still a story-teller) and that story is my love story with poetry.

When we met:

Strangely enough, it was a college breakup that brought us together. My brief breakup with fiction writing. It was the second semester of my freshman year, but during my previous semester at KU, I had taken a fiction-writing course that I was extremely dissatisfied with. So dissatisfied that I decided to reject studying fiction altogether. I was only comfortable with this because I felt like I knew enough about fiction that I could study it on my own. So I turned my attention to genres I wasn’t familiar with. I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone, and I signed up for poetry. (I would later return to studying fiction and also screenwriting as well.)

Our first date:

Oddly enough, it wasn’t in the classroom. It was outside of the classroom. Over winter break, I had picked up a few poetry books, and I was reading “Sailing Around an Open Room” by Billy Collins on one of my favorite benches in the Wescoe building. That’s when a class was released, and a woman ran up to me only to sit down SUPER close to me. (If you know me, I’m not a very touchy person, so this sort of scared me.) It turned out she was a poetry professor, and she was hoping I had signed up for her class. I hadn’t. I had signed up for another class because it worked with my schedule. She was disappointed but very glad that I was studying poetry. Her smile was the first moment I started to feel less nervous about it.

How we held hands:

Poetry Writing I by poet Megan Kaminski was the course I took, and she was kind and thoughtful and encouraging and never scary. And that was perfect because I was still sort of terrified. I had never written a poem in my life, and Kaminski promised she was okay with that. I found out that there were quite a few students in the classroom like me, and I still wonder if they giggle at our first poems as much as I giggle at mine. (I also shudder.) But we started reading poetry, and we started talking about poetry, and we started writing poetry, and we discovered so much about one another.

Oh, yes, we kissed:

I wish I could remember if it was snowing that day, but all I remember is how the poem affected my insides. It was “Sleeping with the Dictionary” by Harryette Mullen that got me. And if you read the poem, you will understand what I mean when I say I was “Aroused by myriad possibilities” that poetry gave, and I wanted to explore them as much as I could.

picture from incite faith.com

picture from incite faith.com

And soon, we fell in love:

Somewhere in that exploring I fell in love. I like to say “we” but I have yet to understand whether or not poetry can love one back. Still, I stayed, and I took more courses after that. I even attended Poetry Writing II twice. (Thank goodness KU counted both of them as credits.) And I was able to meet C.A. Conrad and talk to Evie Shockley and my class had lunch with two other poets we read about and my teacher was a poet and it was wonderful. Everything was wonderful.

Kristine

Kristine and I on her 20th birthday.

But it broke my heart:

If you’ve been with me since the beginning, then, you will remember this post – Inspiration Meet: Kristine Andersen – On October 7, 2012, my college roommate, Kristine Andersen, passed away, but you might not have known that we had taken our first class together that semester. It was my senior year, and she had just switched over to an English major, and I was helping her with her writing when she decided to join one of my poetry classes. We sat right next to each other in class, but after she died, I was terrified – so terrified – of returning to that poetry class.

And I had to heal my heart:

When I finally found the strength to return to school, I will never forget how my class still placed her chair in the circle after she died. Her chair remained there. And we continued to learn, and we continued to write, and our poetry was published later that semester in Kristine’s name, and the collection sits on my desk, and I think about her a lot – her writing and her life – and I try not to remember that this October will be two years since she passed, but I make myself remember because that is how we cope – by facing it. By writing about it. By feeling it once again. So I write a poem.

Eventually, I loved again:

I write many poems now, but it has only been recently that I have begun sharing them openly. I believe “Regretful Memories” being accepted by LALUNA Magazine has given me the additional strength and support that I needed, but this website has also given me love and courage. Writing is a journey, and we’re always learning and exploring new possibilities in order to channel our passion so we can share it fully with the world.

Poetry is one of the many ways I hope to help the world with because poetry has helped my world.

I think that is why I call it love.

~SAT

The Beginning of my Writing Process

26 Jun

First, thank you so much for all of your fantastic birthday wishes! I can honestly say that my 23rd birthday was the best birthday I’ve had. It was a perfect day. (I mean, I had mousse cake AND coffee. What isn’t perfect about that?) My Amazon rankings even went up! So thank you for your support, encouragement, and friendship. A little smile can brighten a day, but kind words can brighten the darkest life. Your words illuminate my existence.

Cue the dramatic piano piece. (Or trumpets. I think trumpets might work for this.)

So a few things happened the past few days!

Steampunk Sparrow’s Book Blog reviewed Minutes Before Sunset. You can read it by clicking here, and you can check out the award-winning, paranormal romance on Amazon by clicking here. (But it looks like so many of you checked it out on Monday! In fact, AEC broke their record for their best day of sales on my birthday.)

Other than that, I heard from my formatter at AEC Stellar’s Publishing, Inc. the other day. She hopes to have everything done by next week, so it looks like Take Me Tomorrow is still releasing this July. Yip-eee!

That’s why I’m writing this today: below you’ll find an accurate description of the BEGINNING of my writing process. My entire writing process is rather complicated, but I can cover the beginning because I kept a lot of the original notes (something I don’t normally do.) Call me superstitious, but keeping notes once a book has changed feels like something that holds me back from allowing the novel to grow into something new. So I hope you have fun! (You might even see some sneak peeks.)

First Step: The Spark of Inspiration

This is VERY unusual for me. Most of my novels, including The Timely Death Trilogy and November Snow, are based off of dreams, but Take Me Tomorrow was inspired by a conversation my father and I had in a Starbucks one afternoon. I was 19, visiting home from college, and talking at a hundred miles per hour. (Now – that is usual.) We were talking about drugs (legal and illegal) when we debated about futuristic drugs. What would they be like? What could they do? And that conversation was the spark of Take Me Tomorrow – a story that is grounded in the future where a clairvoyant drug has been released and outlawed. (I’ll explain why my father and I were talking about drugs in step four)

Second Step: That Spark Turns into a Flame:

As an avid reader and writer, I spend enormous amounts of time in bookstores. In fact, I began spending so much time in my local Barnes & Noble that most of the workers joked about paying me because they saw me helping customers so often. One night, while brousing the bookshelves, I found this postcard. (I apologize about the quality, but the postcard is four years old, and it’s taped inside the notebook I share below.)

postcard

I was attached. It felt like mine before I ever even touched it. And it felt like Take Me Tomorrow. Here’s the funny part. At no point in the book will you see these characters or this scene. I can’t tell you if it actually even exists, but I can tell you that it resonated with me in a way that even I cannot explain. I bought that postcard and I found my notebook.

Third Step: Feeding that Little Flame:

tmtnotenookTo the right, you’ll see the real notebook I used to write ALL of my original Take Me Tomorrow notes in. You should know that I have to have specific notebooks for each novel. I can’t write about four different novels in one notebook. Again, call me paranoid, but I feel like it disrupts the energy of creativity if I’m writing in Take Me Tomorrow, flip one page, and I’m in another book all together.

Fourth Step: My Flame Becomes a Giant Fire

I have a confession about my first three steps. I go through them all of the time, dozens of times, and I normally stop right there. Why? Because I find out that I’ve been fanning the flame instead of allowing my passion to keep it running. But Take Me Tomorrow is obviously one of the exceptions. It made it to step four because I am passionate about the story and the topic. Why? This is the dark side of the flame. I am VERY passionate about drug use. I want to clarify that I am not talking about me taking drugs – illegal or legal. I am just talking about understanding drugs. This has to do with my past.

My mother was a drug addict. She died from an overdose when I was eleven years old. One day, I will share more about this. But ever since I was old enough to understand, I spent days researching drugs – especially LEGAL drugs – and how they affect people. Much of this research will be in Take Me Tomorrow, and that research is the gas on the flame. To me, finding passion in the story and in the research is vital to writing my novels. I can admit that I want to share so much about my past in regards to understanding drug use, especially how my mother became an addict in the first place, but it might take me a while before I open up about it on here. It’s a very personal topic to me. But that’s also why Take Me Tomorrow is so important to me.

Fifth Step: Taming the Growing Fire

This is the last step in the beginning of my writing process. Once I have enough research on the topics I want to write about and symbolize, I begin growing the story with characters, worlds, graphs, and more. These maps, graphs, and notes include character profiles, height graphs, a calendar, moving maps, scene maps, past timelines, family trees, and more. Just so you can laugh with me, I added one of my beautiful maps below. (What can I say? All of my artistic abilities reside in my writing. I cannot draw.) This map is taken directly from Chapter Five and Chapter Six. And you can read a sneak peek right below that: (the entire novel is told by Sophia Gray.)

breakin

“You coming with or not?” he asked.

Miles shook his head. “There’s a cop right there,” he said. “It’s too risky, even for me.”

Broden checked his arm’s splint. “Wait in the car, then,” he ordered blankly as if he had expected Miles’ reaction. “Run if anything happens.”

Miles didn’t budge. “You’re going by yourself?”

Broden shrugged. “I didn’t come this far to leave Noah standing there, now, did I?”

“I’ll go,” I volunteered before the boys could argue. Both of them gaped at me, and I repeated myself. “I drove you two here. I think I have the right to go to − wherever you’re going.”

“Sophia,” Miles sighed. “You don’t want to.”

Broden lifted his hand to Miles, “She can come if she wants.”

“What if you guys get caught?”

“Then, we’re all in trouble,” he pointed out, “whether she’s waiting in the car or not.”

Miles mumbled curses to himself. “I can’t believe this.”

“Believe it,” I stated, marching over and pulling the black beanie off his head. “Now, give me your jacket.”

I hope you enjoyed this! Please add Take Me Tomorrow to your Goodreads shelf, email me at shannonathompson@aol.com if you want to review it, and I will share your review right here on ShannonAThompson.com!

As always, with all my love, I hope I can inspire and help you in your writing journey by sharing my personal journey with you. Please share your writing process below! Is it different in the beginning than in the end? Do you make maps first or during the writing? Do you make character profiles?

~SAT

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