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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

Marking Mother’s Day with Bookmarks

11 May

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

tonyjaa

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

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

Bookmarks. 

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

A Bookmark is a Memory:

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

A Bookmark is a Friend

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

A Bookmark is a Lifetime

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

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

~SAT

The Story of Bogart the Cat

7 May

Don’t forget! I am being interviewed tonight LIVE on Whispers in the Dark radio from 9 to 11 p.m. (EST) Click here to join, and call in to speak with me:  (347) 884-9923. Until then, check out four of my horror poems the host read for his site by visiting my Other Poems page and clicking the links at the top – OR you can click the links below: (I highly recommend listening to at least one. Not because they are my poems, but rather because Viktor Aurelius is a chilling reader.

In-sum-knee-ah (Insomnia)

This Waiting Place

Her Button Collection, Now Mine

Glitter Rain

After announcing Take Me Tomorrow and sharing the cover, I wanted to share a fun post about my life with everyone – and nothing is more fun than my most trusted companion, Bogart the Cat. You’ve seen photos of him, you’ve read about him, and you’ve even read a blog post by him, but I’ve never explained how Bogart and I met to grow into the cat-friendship we have today.

Before I explain the moment I met Bogart the cat, I want to clarify how I came to the decision to get a cat.

I hated cats. Despised them. Why?

  1. I grew up with dogs – one husky and two malamutes to be exact
  2. When I was seven, my neighbor’s cat scratched me across the face, and I had to wear an eye patch to elementary school – a lasting impression on child me.

I swore off of them. A decade would pass before I would be opened to the wonderful world of a cat lady.

This is a real picture of Lucifer when he was forcing his love on me.

This is a real picture of Lucifer when he was forcing his love on me.

It was 2010. I was a sophomore in college. My roommate agreed to watch a friend’s cat for a while. His name was Lucifer. Yes, Lucifer. And – to my horror – the cat attached itself to my room of all places. (We later found out that the girl who used to live in my room had cats, so this explains why every animal we ever let inside our house gravitated to my room at one point.) At first, I tried to fight him. I kept my door closed – even when I went to the kitchen for a snack – and I avoided him as I went to and from class, especially when he peered at me through cracked doors or parted blinds.

Then, time passed. I started petting him. He purred – which was cool – and he liked tuna as much as I did. Overtime, I settled. I let him in my room, and he watched birds from my window. What can I say? He grew on me. But there was one moment in particular that convinced me to love cats again.

He was sleeping in my bathroom sink. I shared the bathroom with my roommate, and at first, he would leave if we turned on the sink. Then, eventually, he stuck to his guns, and he would sit in the falling water with a smug grin (I swear – an actual grin) on his cat face.

He reminded me of the Cheshire cat from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 

I laughed so hard that I cried. Even I had to admit it: I liked cats again. I liked them a lot. They were different from dogs, but I liked different. (I still like dogs, of course.)

That’s when the owner came and got him.

The house was quiet. No more cat in the sink. No more cat begging for tuna while I used the can opener. No more cat scratching at my door. No more cat anywhere.

It was lonely.

After careful consideration, I decided I wanted my own kitty cat. In fact, I bought all of the cat’s supplies before I even looked. The last thing I wanted to do was to get a cat and be ill-prepared. I had a climbing tower, a litter box, a pound of food, and even more toys. All before I looked for a kitty. In fact, I had so much stuff for a cat that visitors thought I had a cat, even before I actually had one.

So I was a little bit ahead of myself…but it worked out, because there was a Christmas sale at Wayside Waifs.

In this fantasy, Luna would bring me magical, writing pens.

In this fantasy, Luna would bring me magical, writing pens.

I was just going to look. I swear. My dad was driving, and I still remember what he said on the drive up there, “You will know her when you see her.” (He said “her” because I was set on a female black cat that I could name Luna – after Sailor Moon, of course.) I laughed off his cheesy advice as just that – cheesy. I didn’t know how right he would be.

We entered the cat part. I remember seeing a tabby cat and one grey one that walked around like he owned the place. Then, we turned a corner.

I’m not even kidding when I say this: We met eyes, and I knew.

I practically flew across the room with excitement. I didn’t know if he was a girl or a boy. I just knew that the little kitten was the “one.” I was filled with absolute delight. Bogart – at the time, he was named “Mikey” – just stared up at me with a mixture of confusion and horror. (But don’t worry. He warmed up to me.)

Bogart at Wayside Waifs the day I adopted him. He was four months old.

Bogart at Wayside Waifs the day I adopted him. He was four months old.

I played with him, and I still knew. Wayside Waifs made me play with three other black cats (his siblings) but I still knew. “Mikey” was mine. I signed the paperwork, and his name was officially Bogart. (Named after Humphrey Bogart, of course.)

Now – for the sad part: his past.

Bogart was found in a box on the side of a highway with his three siblings – two girls and one boy. His ears were badly damaged, and the kittens weren’t in good shape. It took four months for them to heal up well enough (and get big enough) for Wayside Waifs to put him and his brother in one cage and his sisters in another. I was the second person to play with Bogart, and the only person to take him home. We had to wait a few weeks because Wayside Waifs was waiting for him to gain enough weight for neutering. (They neuter and spay all of their animals.) But that Christmas was pretty fantastic.

Christmas time

Christmas time

Since then, Bogart and I have been through a lot together. 

We’ve made friends, went on walks, and hung out with family.

fafgr

We’ve moved, and then we moved again.

move

We’ve blogged. (No, seriously, he has blogged on here before.) And we’ve worked so hard that we’ve passed out on my laptop.

work

So we took a break and drank a lot of coffee. (Okay. So I drank the coffee.)

coff

And before we knew it, we got published. (That is a paperback of Minutes Before Sunset beneath him.)

Bo

And even though we got nervous and hid,

nerv

We found a way to smile and celebrate together.

smile

But – most of all – we became best friends. He is my pal. My buddy. My black cat. My Bo-Bo, Fatten, Bo-kitty, Bogie, little panther – my Bogart. And now you know the story behind the little (okay, 18 lb.) cat that I share on here.

~SAT

Remember: I am still accepting questions and comments about my latest novel, Take Me Tomorrow. If you ask a question or comment, leave your website in the commetns below, and I will link to you on Friday’s post when I announce even more!

Writing Tips: Dealing with Controversy

17 Apr

I live in Kansas City, and right now, if you watch the news, I’m sure you’ve heard of the recent tragedies that have happened here. I drive on the highways where the “Highway Shooter” is every day, and I live less than one mile away from the Jewish Community Center where three people died. In fact, I heard the sirens from my living room when it happened, and one of the victims went to Blue Valley High School, the same school I graduated from in 2009. But this isn’t about me. It’s about the effect it has on the Kansas City community.

I am reminded of how quickly a community can change, how the feeling of safety is a fleeting comfort, and how important it is to come together during this time. But I wanted to discuss an aspect of a writer’s life that these instances reminded me of that I’m sure many writers struggle with:

When we’re writing about sensitive issues, and they occur in real life – and occasionally, right down the street – we question ourselves.

I went through this when I wrote “Sean’s Bullet.” My military fiction story that was published in 2013: A Stellar Collection is fiction, but it deals with real-life issues, including friendly fire and PTSD. My recently published YA novel, Seconds Before Sunrise, deals with underage drinking and reckless driving. During this past week, I am going through some of the same thoughts I had when I was writing these stories.

Am I being true to the story? Am I not being sensitive to the victims? Am I portraying this respectfully and honestly? Am I over-thinking this? 

These thoughts run rampant through an author’s mind when they are facing a story with controversial events, but the answers are harder to find when the events are right outside your window.

My current manuscript – which I have yet to reveal – has a few instances where guns are used. Being a Kansas City resident during a time where we’ve had recent shootings and murders, creates a sensitivity to these things. I am a fantasy writer, but things that happen in fantasy can still happen in reality, and when that happens, it causes this pause – this hesitation that seemingly stops everything. For me, this pause is caused by guilt.

I feel guilty for having scenes that have affected real people. I want to find another way to entertain people in my stories. I break away from my story and question whether it’s right or not. But, eventually, I have to accept the fact that my story is fiction, that my scenes with violence or pain are not creating what occasionally happens in reality – near or far – and that I am doing my best to be a respectable artist.

So what can writers do when they face this issue?

I can’t tell every writer how to approach this. There is actually a lot of debate as to how to handle many controversial subjects in fiction, but I am not going to talk about what I consider appropriate because that’s my opinion. Instead, I’m giving advice.

1. Step away from your manuscript – when there’s an event that shifts your emotions about a piece, take a day and forget it. Then, return and think about it carefully. Is this event directly related to your work or is it just similar?

2. Cope with your emotions – This can include many types of coping. For instance, you can cope with a real-life event and then cope with an event in your fiction. You might realize they aren’t similar at all, and your thoughts will help you realize if your opinions have changed (or even if your characters’ opinions have shifted.)

3. Consider the actual event carefully – what makes it controversial? Who is affected by it? Have you personally dealt with it? Have you researched those who are affected by it?

4. Be willing to change but also be willing to keep it the same – sometimes bad things happen. Just because it’s in fiction doesn’t mean that it is directly related to something real. But if your opinions change, you might have to find a new way to go about a scene, and both are perfectly okay.

These things are very difficult to discuss. Even writing this blog post was challenging because these moments are very emotional, and we all react in our own way, but – in the end – we want to be respectful while pursuing our art in a passionate way. Every experience in our lives results in a lesson, good or bad, and it creates who we are. Personally, I have used my mother’s death as inspiration. Does that make me a bad person? No. It allowed me to cope in a creative way. That is me. I shouldn’t feel ashamed of it. But – at the same time – I strive to use that experience in a respectful manner. That’s all I can do.

I can either hide behind my guilt or I can embrace my emotions and pursue my art.

There are limits, but they are self-imposed, and every artist must decide what is appropriate for them and their audience. It is a responsibility of an artist, and it is one to be considered carefully.

I discussed this today with a heavy heart, but I wanted to open a safe place to talk about this, because I know many artists who struggle with the same emotions. If you’ve had an instance where you have dealt with this, feel free to discuss below.

~SAT

My First Podcast Interview

9 Apr

Update: Here is the podcast

The press release for Seconds Before Sunrise released, and Ky Grabowski was kind enough to share it on her blog. Check it out by clicking here.

Originally, I was going to post another YouTube video introducing this, but Weebo (my laptop) was not cooperating with me, and I lost the main part of the video. She must be as exhausted as I was, so I am sorry, but please listen to Ryan’s podcast, The Lurking Voice. Our interview goes up on April 10th. We talk about a lot, including my novels, what it has been like to be an author as well as the C.O.O. of a publisher, and my personal life. I’ve even included a small list below of some of the questions I answered. The Lurking Voice has been on my list of favorite podcasts since it started, so this was an experience I was looking forward to for a long time, and for great reason! I had a wonderful time, and I think you will, too. Ryan is hilarious and to the point. I am still looking for my April guest blogger, so if you let me know what your favorite part was as well as what you would like to blog about, you could win the slot! 

Here are some of the topics we discussed:

What did you do for your marketing and website in order to get as many fans as you did?

How different was publishing in 2007 than it is today in 2014?

How does November Snow compare to Minutes Before Sunset in The Timely Death Trilogy?

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 2.20.05 PMWhat was it like growing up in different environments? How does it affect who you are?

Are you an adventurer? If you had to pick one place to travel, where would you go?

How did the loss of your mother and roommate affect your writing and your career?

What’s your style in poetry? Do you plan on publishing any poetry collections?

What was your main influence as a child? What teachers influenced you?

Where are my gremlins? (haha. Seriously, this is why you need to listen to it.)

How did you start off writing? What were your first writings like? Was November Snow your first piece of writing?

Publishing as young as you did, how did the editing go? How was the writing?

How did you celebrate graduating college?

My favorite quote? 

“I can kill small animals and children…in books. In books, people.” – Ryan Attard

But be warned.

Tentacles are featured.

Click here to visit his website. Click here to visit the podcast page. 

~SAT

How Desk Trinkets Can Inspire You

7 Apr

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

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

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

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

My Tiger’s Eye Statue and Stone:

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

coy

Willow Tree Statues:

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

stat

Maneki Neko

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

10152547_2302485600273_718908977257566913_n

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

~SAT

Website Wonders

1 Apr

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

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

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

Now – the website wonders: 

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

Great Reads:

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

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

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

Business Help for Writers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Art Related to Books:

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

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

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

Book-to-Movie Trailers:

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

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

Inspiration:

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

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

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

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

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

~SAT

The After Party

28 Mar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~SAT

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

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

My Home Away From Home

16 Mar

Before I get into today’s post, I wanted to share four announcements.

Seconds Before Sunrise is officially on Amazon. It just went up yesterday! The cover and “Look Inside” will be uploaded soon, but you can still order it today. I truly appreciate your support! Click below.

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Fantasy is more Fun also had me over as a guest author for Free Book Friday. The cool part? I explain what free books mean to me as a writer and reader. On top of that, I’ve done two interviews this week.

The Urge to Write wanted to know what the covers of The Timely Death Trilogy represented, and I explained the designs for both of them. I also talked about Death Before Daylight (book 3) and included a preview of Seconds Before Sunrise. After that Writing Under Fire wondered if I wrote in other genres or if I see patterns in my work. Check both of them out by clicking the links.

On a day-to-day basis, I open hundreds of emails from you guys, and I love speaking with everyone. So when I received an email from the Community Coordinator for DogVacay.com, I was more than excited when they asked me write about “My Home Away From Home.”

  1. I love animals. I grew up with three huskies and now I have a cat. Since their company is helping animals, I was more than happy to take part.
  2. I am very grateful when readers ask me to blog about a certain topic that is important to them. (That being said, if you have an idea that you want me to blog about, send me an email to shannonathompson@aol.com for consideration. Your website will also be credited)

So, naturally, I said yes.

And I said “yes” before I actually thought about my answer. This is where I ran into a slight problem. When I realized my answer, I knew it might make some readers uncomfortable to the point where – for a minute – I considered choosing a more socially acceptable “home away from home.” But I can’t do that. I must be honest by being myself, especially in such a personal post, so I will be.

My home away from home is a cemetery.

That’s right. A cemetery.

Before you think you’re in a Tim Burton film, let me explain:

Cemeteries aren’t these dreary places filled with rotting trees and crumbling statues. (Not normally anyway.) The one I go to is always clean, well attended to and quite beautiful really. With spring coming in, the grass is green and the trees are growing again. My favorite tree is only a few yards away from where I sit to write, think, or read, and the lake is close enough to watch the geese on a nice day. Everything is surrounded by a small but distant neighborhood, causing the eight fields to feel more like a fake-flowered park than a place where people fear the dead. In fact, I often watch joggers while I sit in my spot – a spot right next to my mom.

20130704_160525Today is actually the eleventh anniversary of my mother’s death, but I’ve tried to stop counting the days she’s been gone by replacing the thoughts with memories of her life. I do that by visiting her at the cemetery, and I’ve been doing it for many years now.

Even though my mother died when I was eleven, it didn’t hit me until August of 2008. I can actually remember the exact day, one of the worse moments that eventually became one of my strongest moments.

I’m unsure why it took me seven years, but I think graduating high school had a lot to do with it. Big events. Big moments that you wish your loved one could see. So my seventeen-year-old self started going there on a regular basis – during the early morning or too late at night. I even kept a quail-decorated quilt in my trunk that I would pull out, spread out, and lay out on – just to look at the sky. My favorite nights were the clear nights where I crawled onto the hood of my Bravada and stared at the stars, talked to myself, or just listened to the silence.

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All of these pictures were taken there.

In that one field, I’ve cried, screamed, and questioned everything. But I’ve also smiled, laughed, and found myself again. All of my journals have been to that place, and most of my novels have a few scenes written from that place. I actually wrote there the other day, and I’ve spoken to the caretaker so many times that I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up in one of my novels (subconsciously, of course.) I’ve witnessed other burials, met other mourners, and realized that someone else had replaced my mother’s flowers when I couldn’t. There, I am often reminded of life and death, but I also feel the reminder of love – that love, in many ways, is immortal. That immortal love is what home feels like to me.

To this day, the cemetery is my most peaceful place – and although I don’t go as much as I used to, I still make it a point to go, especially during this time of the year. In fact, I just went there a week ago.  I may not be able to visit for the rest of my life, but I believe it will always be my calm place, my place where I can go outside and reconnect with the world, my place where I am reminded of what is important – my home away from home.

~SAT

Help: I’ve Returned to an Old Piece of Writing, and I Can See Influences From My Past

20 Feb

Recently, I have truly enjoyed writing up my personal posts instead of focusing on writing or publishing tips. Sharing my story opened up a channel for me to hear your stories, and it was really nice getting to know more of you on a deeper level. If I continue this in the future, I hope to hear more from others. If you have an idea of a topic – any topic really – you can always comment below and suggest one. I will even credit your blog as the inspiration for the post. No matter what, thank you for reading and commenting. 

Today, though, I wanted to talk about a topic that is very much a personal twist on the writing spectrum. Yes, writing is always personal to the writer, but I wanted to discuss how certain writings can be influenced by a particular time in your life and/or how it can affect the writing process when you return to it later. The reason for this is simple: I’m currently going through it, and I wanted to talk about it in the hopes of reaching out to other artists who have experienced the same range of emotions I have,which include confusion, guilt, acceptance, and understanding.

If you follow my interviews, then you know I am already planning for which one of my novels will be published after Seconds Before Sunrise. (But I hope you’ll take a moment to check out Seconds Before Sunrise by clicking here.) Although readers might be expecting Death Before Daylight, I am moving towards publishing a new novel altogether before the last book of the trilogy. From this point on, I will be referring to this new novel as TMT.

When I went back to edit TMT, I found some surprises I wasn’t expecting:

There are some heavy influences that I could not see before. When I was originally writing it, I was in my freshman year of college. At the time, I could not see any correlations with my life in my science-fiction world. Now that I’ve been removed from the novel for a few years, I can interpret it more clearly. I can see old acquaintances in the characters. I can hear dialogue that sounds like a stranger I met. I can see where I mixed a scene together by blending a field by my dorm room and a forest by my old house. I can see my husky, Shadow, in the dog the protagonist cherishes.

This is Shadow - my buddy. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us, but he loved snow just as much as me.

This is Shadow – my buddy. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us, but he loved snow just as much as I do. (Probably more, of course.)

This was all unexpected, and – if I may be bold – difficult in many areas, because it brings up a lot of old memories I have since let go in one way or another. I believe this is a struggle many artists may face at one time or another. When we write in present time, we might not realize we have placed our friend in a novel as a protagonist’s cousin. Years later, after we’ve had a falling out with that friend, it is a struggle to return to the novel’s mindset where you must love that “cousin” you can now see was someone very real and dear to you but no longer is.

But it’s okay. There are many ways to accept these moments. They aren’t all bad. In fact, I would say most of it isn’t bad. As my posts normally go, I repetitively say, “It’s all about attitude.”

When you return to these older works, hoping to make them better, you can accept where the influences come from for what they are. Just accept them, and dive into it with the same passion you have today. Eventually, I have noticed that I am adding more influence from my current life into TMT, instead of letting my past life define it. It’s an interesting area to explore, because it’s the blending of me – my past, my present, and my future – and it brings a sense of serene acceptance.

Here are three thoughts that helped me through this:

A. Be prepared to feel this way. There’s nothing to be guilty or ashamed or feel any weirdness about. It’s natural. Think of it this way, it would be impossible to go sit in your high school parking lot without remembering a few times you were there. Art can be the same way. If you wrote it five years ago, don’t be surprised if memories from five years ago sneak up. It’s okay. Enjoy it, and change it if you want to.

B. You’re an artist – it’s bound to happen. You are inspired by life, after all.

C. If you are disturbed or upset, that’s okay, too. Put the writing down. Try not to be hard on yourself about it. The past isn’t always a place people are comfortable with. Write something new!

I actually asked about this topic on my Facebook Author Page, “Have you ever associated your novel (or a book that your have read) with a certain time in your life? If so, when you go back to edit it and/or reread it, have you seen influences you didn’t see before? Is this easy or difficult to comprehend and how do you think it affects the writing and/or reading process?”

Join me on FB, and your responses might be used next!

Join me on FB, and your responses might be used next!

Here are two fantastic answers,

The J. Aurel Guay Archive: “I wrote half a novel during a very transitional time of life. I set it down for several years and when I came back to it, I couldn’t find the motivation to finish it because I had progressed through that stage. I will finish it eventually, but it will change fundamentally as they open questions on which the novel turns have been answered in my life. I just can’t write it from the same frame of reference anymore. You can find a snippet here.”

Tanya Taimanglo: “My romantic comedy, Secret Shopper was cathartic for me. It resembles so much of my life, although I insist it’s fiction. (It is). The death of my father, elements of a bad break up and finding real love made its way onto the page. It was written years ago, and when I do reread it, I cringe at how much truth I allowed out there and I’m reminded of how much growth I’ve made. In some ways, it’s like a journal I’ve made public. I can’t undo it, just embrace its truth and move on.”

What about you? Have you ever returned to a writing and saw past influences you didn’t see at the time of writing it? How did you cope with it?

~SAT

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