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Website Wonders

28 Mar

Website Wonders:

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

Enjoy!

Readers:

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

100 Legal Sites to Download Literature

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

Writers:

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

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

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

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

10557215_804346322967523_6886263204870891271_nCoffee Drinkers:

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

Coffee Jokes: Why are men all like coffee?

Cute fun:

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

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

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

~SAT

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

#SATurday: The Lesson of Cats

21 Mar

The Lesson of Cats

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

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

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

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

Boo Boo and I while writing this

Boo Boo and I while writing this

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

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

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

So far, I think Boo Boo approves.

~SAT

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

#SATurday My False Memories and Her Smile

7 Mar

#SATurday My False Memories and Her Smile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I started doing this for one reason.

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

And yet, I do not know her name.

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

~SAT

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

#WW: Website Wonders

25 Feb

Website Wonders:

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

Enjoy!

Writing:

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

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

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

10277289_793694487366040_5427893777820977871_n

Reading:

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

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

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

Inspiration and art:

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

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

Check back next month for more articles!

P.S.

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

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

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

#MondayBlogs: The Stigma of Writing Horror

23 Feb

Intro:

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

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

#MondayBlogs: The Stigma of Horror Writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me

Alex Laybourne

Bio:

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

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

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

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

Links:

Blood of the Tainted (artwork by Richard van Ekeren)

Diaries of the Damned

Website

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

~SAT

#WW The Reader’s Reaction

18 Feb

#WW The Reader’s Reaction:

I can admit the worst thing a reader ever wrote to me. It was 2007, I was 16, Golden Eagle Publishing had released my first novel, and Honesty Box was the hottest app on Facebook. My high school self was naïve enough to have one of these, and one day, I found myself staring at the message, “you are the bastardization of the English language.”

::blink blink::

I’ve tried not to think about this message often. In fact, I confess I’ve tried to completely kick it out of my mind – especially since I think it had more to do with high school bullying than anything notable. But the most common type of bullying I faced for writing a book in high school followed this script:

honesty-boxA fellow student would say, “Go write a book.”

Normally, I never responded, but sometimes I snapped and stupidly said, “I already did.”

Which almost always got, “Now, go write a good one.”

::sigh::

Perhaps, this affected me more than I would like to admit. A few months later, when I ran into issues with my publisher, I didn’t fight it much, and in turn, November Snow was taken off of the market. I can’t say I minded much. I think I was a little relieved. That’s probably why seven years passed between my first and second publication. Now that I’m 23, my coping skills have definitely grown.

Writers always get responses – both good and bad – and some days are more uplifting than others. Some days are even downright hilarious. Not in the mocking way, of course, but in the this-reader-could-be-my-best-friend sort of way. Some days, readers make your day, and other days, a reader’s comment inspires your next piece of work. Sometimes, they teach you by pointing out levels of confusion or confliction, and other times, they talk about how your work taught them something about life. The combination is a beautiful thing.

I have plenty of stories I wish I could tell you about all of the wonderful readers who have reviewed my novels, shared quotes, tweeted encouraging messages, and sent me an email just to explain their emotions – but the important part is how the uplifting readers always overcome the negative ones. I could share hundreds, but I would like to share a few to show types:

The Encouraging Reader:

Pau from Pau’s Castles recently read Death Before Daylight. In fact, she’s read all three books of The Timely Death Trilogy, and she even took the time to review them – and she goes even further. She LIVE tweeted to me about everything – her reactions, her jokes, her emotions (including how she squealed in the middle of class while reading), and her overall encouragement. Readers – WOW – you all make my entire life when you do this. I cannot begin to explain how delighted I feel when I am able to talk to readers and connect with them as friends. Joking about my own work with someone is surreal. The friendship between a reader and an author is unlike any other type of friendship I’ve ever had, but it brings me just as much love, comfort, and joy.

pau1

The Confused Reader that brings laughter into my overly serious writing life:

I want to clarify that this is not condescending laughter. This is more like a friend, even if the reader never knows it. I actually enjoy moments where readers have pointed out confusion or mislabeled something because it’s often something I (and many editors) overlooked. My most recent example came from numerous readers over Take Me Tomorrow. A few readers have compared the dictator, Wheston Phelps to Michael Phelps – the Olympic swimmer – instead of who I intended – Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church – and I’ve had a great giggle over that image-switch. If you’re one of the readers who thought of Michael Phelps instead of Fred, please don’t worry! I had a great giggle, and I feel like it’s more of an inside joke than anything else. Also, more people thought of Michael than Fred. (A handshake goes out to Just Another Girl and Her Books who pointed out many topics, including Fred Phelps, that went overlooked in Take Me Tomorrow. If you’re curious what the sequels might show, this review definitely foreshadows a lot of it).

The Critical Reader

And sometimes the negative can help me take a step back and laugh at myself. In fact, these have begun to remind me of my initial editing process. The clearest example I can think of was when my editor for Seconds Before Sunrise was going through the first chapter and saw, “Robb grabbed his plaid sh*t” instead of his shirt. Yep. That editing mistake happened. That’s embarrassing. And – trust me – I will never, EVER make that mistake again. Every time I write the word “shirt”, I will cringe. (And then, I will laugh uncontrollably).

Me as a Reader

I am a reader, too, and while I’m not everyone’s reader, my day is made when I tweet to an author and they actually tweet back to me. This recently happened to me when I sent a message to Stephen Collins, the graphic novelist of The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil. (Read it if you haven’t by the way)! It was literal Christmas for me.

Stephen

No matter how many readers authors come in contact with, I think we can find ourselves in their reviews, but more importantly, we connect with friends. To think that I might be able to bring joy to a reader in the way Stephen Collins brought joy to me, fills me with a lot of hope and understanding that I didn’t have when I was 16. I am very grateful for all the readers who have helped me grow since then, and I continue to love my readers more than anything else. It’s also nice to have reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble instead of Honesty Box.

~SAT

A big shout-out goes out to Charles E. Yallowitz for posting my guest article – Balancing the Editor’s Life with an Author’s Dream – on Legends of Windemere. Check his website out by clicking the link! In my article, I discuss balancing my life as an editor and an author, and I hope you enjoy the read.

I also want to give a gigantic shout-out to JK and CK from House Kelley! About one month ago, this wonderful couple guided me to Clean Teen Publishing, and I thank them for their guidance. Check their writing out, say hi, give them a big hug, and write with them. They are fantastic.

#SATurday: The Lesson of Macaroni and Cheese

14 Feb

#SATurday: The Lesson of Macaroni and Cheese

When I was little, my mother was making me Macaroni and Cheese – something I continue to love to this day – and I was horrified when she poured it down the sink right in front of me. Of course, that isn’t what she had actually done. In reality, she had poured it into a strainer I couldn’t see from my position near the kitchen’s island. But I still screamed.

I started crying uncontrollably. I was starving (at least, I was starving in my kid mind), and she had just made food for me only to throw it away. As my five-year-old self began crying out my explanation (because she had asked when I was so upset), she began laughing uncontrollably. Now – in my tiny dramatic brain – she was laughing in my face. Of course, she hadn’t thrown out my food, but I think my panic surprised her so much she had no other way to react. Because she couldn’t stop laughing, she actually had to pick up the strainer to show me that my food was fine. After that, we were both laughing.

It might seem strange – and perhaps, it is – but this memory is one of my fondest memories I have of my late mother. Probably because she later taught me how to cook Macaroni and Cheese before she died, but I mainly love this memory because we were doing something together.

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I only had eleven years with my mom, many of which I don’t remember, and she was often too ill to do much, so my memories with her are fleeting – probably unmemorable to the kid who gets a lifetime with a mom – but then again, maybe not. I guess I’ll never know, but I do think about aspects of my life like this a lot, and I’m very grateful for even the tiniest moments because even the tiniest moments last a lifetime. Her lessons have stayed with me, after all.

Let’s take this memory for example. When she started cooking, I was really excited, and then, when she “poured it down the sink”, I was crushed, but then, I realized it was not what it seemed, and everything was fine. In fact, I was one step closer to eating, and I got to laugh so hard it stuck with me for life.

On my bad days, I try to remember Macaroni and Cheese. Aside from the pasta being possibly the best comfort food in the world – no exaggeration – I think there is a lot to learn from the lesson of the strainer. When everything appears to be going down the sink, so to speak, maybe it’s only being strained of all the bad stuff so you can move on to the best part – eating. And I do love eating.

We’re only getting closer to enjoying it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh along the way.

~SAT

TTSP.S. I am taking on more clients who need book reviews, interviews, and editing! I provide the first chapter’s edit for free. If you’re interested, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

In the meantime, check out Tiger Tail Soup by Nicki Chen. This historical novel was inspired by true tales about the Japanese occupation, and I recommend it to readers who enjoy historical fiction, literary fiction, and women’s fiction like The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.

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