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#WW Writing Help from the World

25 Nov

About a week ago, it began to thunderstorm in the middle of November…and it rained for three days. The storm—insignificant to many—took me back to when I was a preteen and first writing Bad Bloods. I recalled how much I enjoyed the overall storyline but struggled with the simple aspects of the novel, mainly the weather.

It seems silly, doesn’t it? Here I was, able to write a storyline in a made-up world with imagined characters, but I couldn’t figure out something as mundane as the weather patterns. In fact, one of the aspects I had to change in the rewrite was the moon cycle, which ended up being a lot more complicated than I ever predicted. (Mainly because the moon plays a significant role in the book.) But we’ll get to that issue in a minute.

A little background on my yet-to-be-released two-part series: Bad Bloods takes place in November of 2089. So, literally, the entire story happens in 30 days. The original version only happened between November 1 to November 27—because I wasn’t the best at pacing yet—and this created an interesting conundrum when I went back to rewrite it. The two main problems? I wanted the story to happen from November 1 to November 30, and I wanted the full moon to happen on the exact date it will happen in the future year of 2089. The original version was off, but the original version had a lot to tell me. And while I think many writers look at this example as pretty extreme—considering the decade that passed between the original and the rewrite—I think we can look at this lesson of mine as an example of a writer’s first draft going into the initial editing stages. There’s a lot to do. And some of it can be overwhelming. (As an extra, you can check out a map of the calendar to show just how much changed from the first version to the second version. Blue stands for Daniel’s POV and pink stands for Serena’s POV. I even included the new split between November Rain, part one, and November Snow, part two. The new one will now be on the Extras page instead of the old one.)

As an extra, here's a comparison on how the calendar changed. Blue stands for Daniel's POV, Pink is Serena's POV, and I included the new split.

As an extra, here’s a comparison on how the calendar changed. Blue stands for Daniel’s POV, Pink is Serena’s POV, and I included the new split.

When I was eleven and first writing it, I knew I wanted nature to play a significant role, but I didn’t want to be a cliché. I didn’t want it to rain when characters were crying, and I didn’t want it to thunderstorm when something bad was about to happen or when someone was angry. It sounds simple enough, but it’s very tempting to allow the weather to foreshadow the characters when you’re trying to make it important. But I wanted it to be symbolic on its own, like an addition to the antagonist being the city rather than one political leader. The question was how to go about it.

I didn’t have a clue, and I remembered being very frustrated as I tried different things over and over. I even recall talking to my dad about how I couldn’t get the weather to feel natural. And that’s when he pointed something out that is so simple I couldn’t believe it never occurred to me

Why not just use natural weather?

So, I did. (Thanks, Dad.)

That year, when November rolled around, I recorded exactly what happened, and I went through the book and added it in. Amazingly, it worked out perfectly, and nature gave me the perfect symbol without me having to force it. This is also why the full moon was on a different date in the original than it should’ve been. Even though the moon has now been changed in the rewrite, the weather has remained the same.

This wasn’t an easy task in the rewrite—keeping many elements while changing others—but it is a delight to know that my answers were, quite literally, right outside my window.


#SATurdate: Bad Bloods Blurbs, MockingJay, Steampunk, and more.

21 Nov

This post is going to look SUPER long, but it’s mainly because I’m including the individual blurbs for November Rain and November Snow. (Yes. They are finally ready!)

What I’m Writing:

As many of you say on Instagram, Bogart protected my notes for Take Me Yesterday.

Many of you will be excited to hear that I’m back into Take Me Yesterday, book 2 of The Tomo Trilogy. I hit a snag last time I was writing, and then my energy had to go toward Bad Bloods—which is definitely going to happen again when final edits come around—but for now, I am working on the sequel of Take Me Tomorrow. I’m currently in chapter eight, about 11,500 words in. As many of you saw on my Instagram, Bogart recently protected my notes for Take Me Yesterday by laying on them. That being said, I know I need to refocus my energy soon and go back to Take Me Tomorrow, book one, to make the best book I can before I continue forward with book 2.

What I’m Publishing:

The final back blurbs for each part of Bad Bloods is finally available! You can read them below. And of course, the winning #1lineWed preview is here as well. The theme was hot: She wasn’t smiling, but a warmth radiated from her, as if she could hug people from a distance.

November Rain, Part One

(releases July 18, 2016)

Seventeen-year-old Serena isn’t human. She is a bad blood, and in the city of Vendona, bad bloods are executed. In the last moments before she faces imminent death, a prison guard aids her escape and sparks a revolt. Back on the streets determined to destroy her kind, Serena is spared by a fellow bad blood named Daniel. His past tragedies are as equally mysterious as her connection to them. Unbeknownst to the two, this connection is the key to winning the election for bad bloods’ rights to be seen as human again. But Serena is the only one who can secure Vendona’s vote. Now, Daniel must unite with her before all hope is lost and bad bloods are eradicated, even if it means exposing secrets worse than death itself. United or not, a city will fight, rain will fall, and all will be threatened by star-crossed love and political corruption.

November Snow, Part Two

(eBook releases one week later, with the paperback releasing in November of 2016)

When Daniel and Serena unite, their accidental relationship becomes the catalyst for a twelve-year war to continue. Exposing the twisted past of a corrupt city, Daniel, Serena, and everyone they know will come together to fight. But Serena has another battle. After a political rumor threatens their lives, Serena must leave her family and join the political front against her will. To survive apart, Daniel has to separate his love from his hatred and join forces with his worst memory to secure Vendona’s war. But very few of them will survive to see the last day. Bad blood or human, a city will burn, snow will fall, and all will be united by catastrophic secrets and irrevocable tragedy.

Visit the PinterestFacebook, and the Extras page.

What I’m Reading: 

booksThe Conjurer’s Riddle by Andrea Cremer: I finished it! I basically could do nothing but read this novel over my weekend. (My weekends are Sunday through Tuesday, by the way.) I am in LOVE with this series, and I am already dying for the third book. It’s brilliant, and you can read why in my review here. On a side note, there is definitely a third book. I tweeted to the lovely author, and she tweeted back! That deserves an extra star.

Clockwork Prince: I was so set on steampunk after reading The Conjurer’s Riddle that I had to continue The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. This is book 2, and to be honest, I should’ve started reading it a LONG time ago, since I read the first one in July, but it’s been on my nightstand, and I’m glad I finally picked it up again. Loved it! In fact, I finished it too. (Told you I read a lot this week.) I actually didn’t like Will very much in the first book, but he’s grown on me a lot more in this one. Same with Jem. And now I think I’m broken. This book definitely deserves 5 stars, and you can read my entire review here. (I NEED the third book now.) Also…Cassandra Clare liked my review of her work. I think I died and went to Heaven.


Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini: I finished it in the middle of the night after I posted my last Saturdate article. And…I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t a fan. Don’t get me wrong. I think many readers could LOVE this book, but it wasn’t for me. I explained why in my 2.5-star review, but it mainly came down to the voice and characters. The world building is unique, the story is written well, and you’ll probably enjoy it if you love witches, other dimensions, love triangles, and vegan protagonists. Read my full review here.

What I’m Listening To:

Lykke Li, because she’s my Tomo Trilogy star. I’m trying to get back into Sophia’s voice, and Lykke Li was the number one singer I listen to while working on this trilogy.

What I’m Watching:

MV5BNjQzNDI2NTU1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTAyMDQ5NjE@._V1_SX214_AL_Mockingjay Part 2I just saw this a few hours ago, but I LOVED it. (I also got mistaken for wearing cosplay to the movie theatre…excuse me for wearing a side braid and boots. This is my usual attire.) That being said, I thought it was awesome. I still think they didn’t need to divide the last book into two movies, but for the readers out there, (spoilers for the rest of the people) I was a little sad to see that they played down Finnick’s sacrificial death a bit. On a positive note, seeing Tigris was PHENOMENAL. I also thought they made the overall tone of the ending much happier and little less, you know, insane, and aside from a few other edits, I still thought it was a great movie for a great book. Can’t believe it’s over. </3

The Yes Men Are Revolting: So this is the best documentary ever. Basically, it follows a group of pranksters (also activists) who focus on bringing attention to political issues currently being ignored by world leaders.

Men, Women, & Children: This is an Adam Sandler movie about how the Internet has affected modern families, and let me tell you, it’s scary how realistic it is (and terribly sad). I thought it was a wonderful movie, but it’s definitely (and intentionally) uncomfortable.

 That Sugar Film: Another documentary I watched this week, but this one is Australian, and it’s about how sugar affects the body of one guy. I know you all see me baking a lot, so I do consume sugar, but I’m actually really weary of what I consume. I rarely drink soda or eat processed foods, for instance, so I find documentaries like this to be interesting. This one was a bit bizarre humor-wise, but had some interesting stats to see.

Fifty Shades of Grey: Yep. That happened. One of my good friends hadn’t seen it yet—and she helped me shop this week—so we rented it and watched it. As controversial as it is to talk about, I’m actually interested in seeing what they’ll do with the sequels (since they recently announced they’ll be filming both sequels back-to-back at the start of 2016). I’m hoping Taylor, the body guard/assistant of Christian Grey, gets more screen time, because his side story was my favorite.


What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

 Jalapeno cheddar pasta and cheesy potato ham casserole. No pictures this time, but they were both great!

 What I’m Wearing:

 I have new boots! And they’re steampunk boots. I couldn’t quite capture their beauty on Instagram, but the backs have golden spokes on them. They went perfectly with The Conjurer’s Riddle.

What I’m Wanting:

The next book in The Inventor’s Secret series. Come on, Andrea Cremer! I’m addicted. I know you’re the process of writing it, but, but, but…

I would also like Clockwork Princess, book 3 in The Infernal Devices, because my heart needs mending after book 2.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

 Bogart was a BAT! Which is awesome…because bats are my favorite animals. But, yes. Bogart turned into a bat, and he was super tiny too. He even helped me find Kiki—another one of my cats—who was stuck in the wall or something. (If you only knew Kiki, this wouldn’t surprise you.)

I had a little white dog I loved dressing up as Pikachu…and everyone thought I was crazy, but I borrowed my father’s truck and turned that into a Pikachu truck…and then four other Pikachu-themed cars parked next to mine, and it was the best day of my life.

salebWhat Else Is Going On:

The Black Friday Sale for The Timely Death Trilogy has begun! From now until November 30, you can get the first book in the trilogy for free and the second book for only .99¢ on Smashwords. Use the code WS34V at the links below to read more this holiday season.

Minutes Before Sunset

Seconds Before Sunrise

Death Before Daylight

And, of course…

Stay Dark,



SATurdate: Spectre, Presidents, MBTI Test, and More.

14 Nov

You all ready for some more updates? I know I said I would share the individual synopses for November Rain and November Snow during this post, but they are still in the editing process. Probably next week. ;)

What I’m Writing:

I’ve basically been working on the blurbs for my publisher in regards to Bad Bloods…BUTTTT I am returning to Take Me Yesterday, book 2 in The Tomo Trilogy shortly. This gives me the opportunity to remind everyone that you can ask me questions at any time via my Goodreads’ Ask The Author profile…which a reader did this week, asking about the sequel to Take Me Tomorrow. You can read that here, and you can ask your own questions here.

What I’m Publishing:

 Okay, for everyone who missed it, there was quite a lot of news released this week! The main announcement was the two-book deal I signed with CTP. That’s right. My next publication will be two books, both of which will be titled Bad Bloods. The first part is subtitled November Rain, and the second part is subtitled November Snow. If you want more information on why we’re doing this, read this blog post. They already have release dates too! November Rain will release July 18, 2016, and November Snow will release one week later. (The paperback will release that November.) I should have individual synopses for each book soon.

And…of course…here is a preview from the winning #1lineWed tweet. The theme of the week was “action/movement.”

The feline stretched before she strutted in, her orange fur gleaming as she leapt onto the windowsill.

I also just realized that Bad Bloods, which is centered on a presidential election, is coming out during a presidential election year. Pretty neat!

What I’m Reading:

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini: Not going to lie, I haven’t had a lot of time to read this week, mainly because of my services vamping up during NaNoWriMo. (You guys are doing awesome by the way!) That being said, I’m about halfway through this novel, and I might start another one this week.

What I’m Listening To:

My work desk has somehow been pushed against this picture frame on the wall, and any time I type too hard, everything around me squeaks.

What I’m Watching:

Spectre. I mean…of course I saw it. James Bond is a classic, although I have to admit I’m almost always rolling my eyes throughout these films. They’re like a guilty pleasure. Even though it’s basically the same formula every time, I still love them. I have to. I have no choice. That being said—and I don’t want to spoil anything about the film—there were a few aspects about this one I definitely thought was too much, mainly in regards to the cheesiness of the “love” story. I’m hoping they’ll let Daniel Craig go after this one too. I LOVE him, but I think he should be able to leave if he wants to, and I think he made a good point when he said he wasn’t sure what else he could bring to the franchise. Give someone else a chance to bring Bond to the big screen. I’m all over that.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel: Because, why not? I LOVE this movie. LOVE it. It’s brilliant. Everything about it is a delight. I’m so glad I own this one too, even though I probably watch it way too often. It was pretty fun to see Ralph Fiennes in Spectre too. Also, in the DVD version, they have extras, and they include the recipe to make Mendls cake…so expect me to bake that soon.

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

 12189942_934887766558405_6357613532321153491_nI fileted my first beef heart this week. That was lovely. (No. I’m serious. I had a great time. A crazy time, but a great time. I felt accomplished that I did it right…even though I had to look it up on YouTube.) My hunting father and brother would be proud. I also made chicken and lentil soup, and as many of you saw on my Facebook page, I baked strawberry oatmeal cookies. Healthy time!

 What I’m Wearing:

 New pants! I have new pants…and they are in my favorite color (dark red).

What I’m Wanting:

Mockingjay Part Two to release (because I want to cry). Star Wars: The Force Awakens to release (because I’m desperately wanting to see Luke turn evil). And The 5th Wave to release (because the book and Chloe Grace Moretz…and she’s also staring in The Little Mermaid, so eeeee). So many movies!


What I’m Dreaming Of:

Keira Knightly was married to this giant, hairy man-thing. (Not really a man. I have no clue what it was. Think Java the Hut.) Well, anyway, he was making her move, but Keira was like Bella from Beauty the Beast, and she loved going into town and singing about books. She was terribly worried how this would affect her, but Java the Hut promised her a ridiculous amount of honey butter in the new world, so she stopped singing, because she loved honey butter more than anything else. (Guys, my brain is crazy…but I think we can all agree that honey butter is fantastic.)

A young teenage girl, who was also my neighbor, was attending a funeral because her grandfather died. Then, 500 people dressed in funeral attire started marching up and down our block, and the girl hung out with my roommates and me. She asked how old I was, and when I told her 24, she was surprised, and told me everyone thought I was 17 and just didn’t want to hang out with them.

And last but not least, I owned this freakin’ GORGEOUS loft in a city somewhere, and I had this beautiful party happening…when someone wanted vinegar, and I left to go pick some up.

My brain is bizarre.

What Else Is Going On:

So, I took the MBTI test because an awesome friend (who I owe an interview still) asked me to. For those of you who want to know, I’m INTJ, a.k.a. The Architect, which I guess is crazy, because “INTJs form just two percent of the population, and women of this personality type are especially rare, forming just 0.8% of the population.” (Quote link.) So…I think I’m a fairy? A judgmental introverted but emotionless and intuitive fairy? I’m not sure. Vladmir Putin is apparently INTJ…which explains why I love photoshopped pictures of him riding bears shirtless. He must be my spirit animal. (And, yes, I’m kidding.)


In my next newsletter, you’ll receive a Black Friday Sale for Seconds Before Sunrise book 2 in The Timely Death Trilogy, so be sure to sign up here, but if you need a head start on the first book and you just can’t wait for the others…

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1 (FREE)

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylight: book 3

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

#WW My Next Publication: Two Books, Release Dates, and More.

11 Nov

Last week, I announced that I signed November Snow with Clean Teen Publishing, and as promised, I’m releasing additional information today. The original version of November Snow that was published in 2007 was 600 pages. That being said, the rewrite is actually longer than the original, so Clean Teen Publishing has split November Snow into a two-part series (and the split is awesome). That means November Snow is getting a new title. As of today, both books will be titled Bad Bloodswith part one’s subtitle being November Rain and part two’s subtitle holding the original title November Snow. For readers of the first version, November Rain will cover November 1, 2089 – November 10, 2089, and it’ll be around 60,000 words, while the second part will be around 80,000 words. (See? The book was really long, too long to be published as one.) I’m really looking forward to seeing November Snow transform, and I hope you are too! November Rain already has a release date too! November Rain is set for release on July 18, 2016. The eBook of November Snow will release one week later, but the paperback of the sequel will release that November. You will find the series synopsis below, and I’ll be releasing each individual synopsis within the next week (probably on my next Saturday post) . . . but if you follow the individual links, you can read them now. ;)


If I can be perfectly honest, November Snow is the closest to my heart in regards to my own writings. The original version was written shortly after my mother suddenly died at the age of 44. I was 11. She was always encouraging my love for reading and writing, and when she died, a part of me was lost forever. I’ve kept that part of me (her, really) alive by writing. November Snow was that first step, that single promise, to make the most of my life and to make her proud.

That being said, the original publication wasn’t very professional. It was thrown together, unedited, and had very little oversight, other than from a 16-year-old girl with a dream (cough, cough, me). I could’ve used more supervision eight years ago, but alas, that wasn’t how my first publishing experience went. Because of that, November Snow has been off the market for years—almost the entire time since it’s original release—and I’m eternally grateful Clean Teen Publishing is giving me a second chance with my first book, a second chance at making my mom proud, a second chance at beginning again.

This truly is a gift.

And…of course…for those looking for more information…here’s a short synopsis for the two-part series, and some places with extra information. If you have any questions, let me know, and I’ll do my best to answer them!

thumbnail90Series Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Serena isn’t human. She is a bad blood, and in the city of Vendona, bad bloods are executed. In the last moments before she faces imminent death, a prison guard aids her escape. Back on the streets determined to destroy her kind, Serena meets a fellow bad blood, a boy named Daniel, and his past with his brothers is as equally mysterious as her connection to them. Unbeknownst to the two, this connection is the key to winning an election for bad bloods’ rights to be seen as human again. But Serena is the only one who can secure Vendona’s vote.

When the two unite, their accidental relationship becomes the catalyst for a twelve-year war to continue. Exposing the twisted past of a corrupt city, Daniel, Serena, and every bad blood they know will come together to fight and win, but very few of them will survive to see the day. Bad blood or human, a city will burn, and all will be united by catastrophic secrets and irrevocable tragedy.

Bad Bloods on: Facebook, Pinterest, and my Extras page.

Older articles relating to Bad Bloods (keep in mind, it’ll be referred to as November Snow):

Writing With Barbie

What I’ve Learned Rewriting a Seven-Year-Old Novel

This is an awesome question about bad bloods from Twitter’s @SiameseMayhem. She asked this when I was still writing it, so that’s why we’re talking about publication.



P.S. I wanted to give a shout out to Instagram’s lovely @bookprints for this wonderful post.

“I badly wanted a printed copy of Take Me Tomorrow by Shannon A. Thompson since I’ve read it as an ebook and I finally have one (signed!)!

Thanks @shannonathompson for making this happen and for the lovely note! There was also a signed ‪#‎bookmark‬ of the first book in The Timely Death Trilogy with it!

Please, go check this author out and give her books the love they definitely deserve!

One happy booknerd over here!”

safe_image.phpDuring my next newsletter, you might be receiving a Black Friday Sale for Seconds Before Sunrise book 2 in The Timely Death Trilogy, so be sure to sign up here, but if you need a head start on the first book and you just can’t wait for the others…

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1 (FREE)

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylight: book 3

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

#MondayBlogs: My Writer’s Story: Different to the One I Imagined

9 Nov


While many claim there is one publishing formula, there are hundreds, and the more writers you meet, the more variations of publishing journeys you hear. I find them fascinating, and I’m always eager to hear another’s story. Today’s writer is sharing his. Welcome author Shane Joseph.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

My Writer’s Story: Different to the One I Imagined by Shane Joseph

Our times are generating many more writers than demand can bear. This is due to better education, improved health, technology, inflated egos in an age of “me first,” and due to our eternal quest for immortality. The ambition to be a writer usually begins in our formative years and is inspired by our favourite writers. As a teenager, I was greatly influenced by Greene, Steinbeck and Hemingway; I dreamt of sending manuscripts out into the world where they would become best-sellers and make me a reclusive millionaire. I would hide out in some remote island and submit more manuscripts and continue to dazzle the world with my brilliance until I was invited to a cold capital in Europe to accept the Nobel Prize. And I would refuse that honour, making me an enigmatic figure like Jean-Paul Sartre, Boris Pasternak or J.D. Salinger. It was nice to dream!

The reality, even back then, was different. I had chosen to gloss over the private demons my literary heroes had to overcome in order to achieve their fame: dual lives, alcoholism, drug addiction, persecution, shell-shock (called PTSD today), hypertension, depression, divorce, estrangement, chronic pain, and suicide staring out of the barrel of a gun. Not forgetting the early struggles with rejection and penury that they each triumphed over. These trials gave impetus to their work and are mentioned only in discreet biographies, not on the glossy covers of their books.

My writer’s story turned out differently to my idealized dream. For instance, I didn’t imagine that after hacking away at this craft in my early twenties in a developing country where English was a second language, and after having a handful of stories published, I would pack up my authorly tools and try something easier to earn a living – Greene, Steinbeck et al, be damned! I never realized that the “other living,” at a corporate job, would come so easily, and earn such a handsome income, that I wouldn’t bother with the writing game again for another twenty years. I didn’t realize that it would be the curse of “guilt” that would bring me back to reopen the dusty toolbox and start to catch up to where the literary world had evolved in the intervening years.

Once “Take Two” started however, the stories and novels came easily, and are likely to continue into the future, health permitting. It was like a dam had burst and all that had been stored for years came gushing out. But the publishing landscape had changed, drastically. Prizes sold books now. And the prize money was cornered among the “1% of the 1%” in the literary hierarchy. There was no middle class in publishing anymore – there was a huge gulf between the self-published and the best-seller, and the only way to bridge the two was with a stroke of luck.

But with every closing door there were others opening. There were now many ways in which to be published, I discovered, thanks to evolving technology that had finally demolished the dominant publishing model of eons, which was: publish a large quantity of paper books on ancient printing presses until unit costs become affordable, ship them across the land in trucks into stores that couldn’t keep track of them, receive most of them back after awhile to be shredded, then start the cycle again, and hope like hell that governments or private donors supported this inefficiency in the interest of promoting the arts. That was the model in which my heroes had thrived, and now it was dying, supplanted by DIY publishing, POD, electronic media, subscriptions services, free story sites, social media, and blogs like the one you are reading. And my heroes were dead too.

Shane Joseph

Shane Joseph

I enthusiastically tried all the models available, traditional and new, and discovered that they all had their pros and cons, but as their readerships’ were distinct, this lack of homogeneity helped plaster me all over the map, assuaging my guilt for having neglected “the gift.” There was also no way I could hide out in a remote island, I realized; I had to be front and centre in the global public domain (a.k.a. the Internet, which also never existed during the time of my literary heroes) selling my wares like a shoe salesman. I even started a publishing house, using the new technology, and have helped bring other writers into print, ones who may have been sitting for years in the slush piles of the Big Five (or is it Four, now – hard to keep track!). The joy of bringing others’ work into the world, to watch them stand on the podium reading from their debut novel at their book’s launch gives me immense satisfaction. I was doing my bit to restore the middle class in publishing. And I finally faced the darker side: the rejection, the shrunken revenue streams, the even further shrunken attention spans, and the need for that other source of income to fuel this one. None of this had been part of my teenage dream.

And so I have accepted that my writer’s story is different from the one I had visualized in my youth. Creative visualizers, take note: it doesn’t always turn out the way you paint it in your mind. But it can be a damned sight more interesting and surprising. Why go on a trip where every stopover is carefully laid out, predictable and boring? Where would the thrill of the unexpected lie? Isn’t that what we try to create in our work – the unexpected?

So Dear Reader, what was your writer’s dream, and how did it pan out?


(Shane Joseph is the author of four novels and two collections of short stories, and was the winner of the best fantasy novel award at the Canadian Christian Writing Awards in 2010. His short fiction has appeared in international literary journals and anthologies. His latest novel, In the Shadow of the Conquistador, will be released in November 2015. For details visit

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in December, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at


SATurdate: Next Publication, Our Brand is Crisis, Cocoa Coffee, & More.

7 Nov

This one is going to be especially long since it’s all my updates since Oct. 24. (Silly Ketchup posts taking over a Saturday Update.) But I hope you enjoy all the exciting news!

What I’m Writing:

I didn’t get much writing accomplished the past two weeks. I was a nervous wreck after submitting my manuscript to Clean Teen Publishing, so reading and writing was basically impossible. (As I’ve stated before, publishing has a strange effect on me.) I bought a puzzle book to distract myself with, but dun dun dun…the publishing results are below.

What I’m Publishing:

If you’re a part of the Clean Teen Publishing Street Team, then you were the first to know! Read the announcement here (and join the street team, because they are awesome), but November Snow is happening. Clean Teen Publishing enjoyed the story and signed me on, so the future is coming. I sent off my contract yesterday. I’ll have additional news soon, so keep your eye out every Saturday for what’s going on and where we’re at in the publishing process. I’ll tell you this though: What they have planned is awesome. Since it’s releasing in the future, I’m still using it as my #1lineWed manuscript, and this past week’s theme was “cold,” so here’s a preview from November Snow: Her voice was as warm as the summer wind, but her stare reminded me of how cold it was outside.


The current FB cover of November Snow

What I’m Reading:

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini: I started it this week, and boy, is this book bizarre. I feel like it’s been the week of bizarre books. It is not what I was expecting at all. (Not a bad thing.) So far, it’s very much like a scene from a video game where you’re fighting your shadow self.

Sailor Moon, V. 6: It’s no secret that Sailor Moon is favorite manga and anime. I read it all the time, and I officially own the new set…since I went a little crazy at the bookstore this week and bought 5-12 at once. Couldn’t help myself. I decided to reread volume 6 since Sailor Moon Crystal is returning, and this is the volume they’ll start off with. It starts the Infinity Arc, which introduces Sailor Uranus (my fav.) and Sailor Neptune. You can read my entire review here. Spoiler Alert: I gave it five stars. ;)

Sailor Moon, V. 7: I couldn’t stop myself. I had to read the next volume too, mainly because it’s been WAY too long since I last read this particular arc. (I have a bad habit of skipping this one, even though it’s a fan favorite. Don’t get me wrong. I still love this one.) You can read my entire review here. I gave it four stars.

A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz: I finished it this week, and boy, was that book insane. It’s a complicated, chaotic exploration of racism, loss, and youth during the terrors of war. Not for the lighthearted. (A lot of cursing, prostitution, and cannibalism.) And it’s written in a very strange, unique way—often breaking the fourth wall and inserting photos in-between. I gave it three stars, and you can read my full review here.


What I’m Listening To:

Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know Podcast: I love them. I love their YouTube Channel, which is where I originally found them, and then, I was introduced to the podcast, where they expand on the videos on their channel in-depth. Pretty neat!

What I’m Watching:

American Horror Story! Finally! A local theatre here in town has the rights to show it, so I have been able to watch it again. I also caught up on Are You The One? (Don’t judge me…but I love that show. I normally hate reality TV, but, but, but…I just can’t help myself there.) The only other reality show I’ve followed before is King of the Nerds, and I just found out that season four was canceled, so boo.

Bridge of Spies: The new Tom Hanks’ movie is a must-see. It’s a fantastic true story, a tearjerker, and just brilliant. I definitely recommend it to those who enjoy war movies that take place off the battlefield, even though this was very much the battlefield for The Cold War. Another war movie I went to see was Sicario. I like Emily Blunt, but not so much her character in this film. There were some great one-liners, and one or two characters I really enjoyed, but the overall rhythm of the story didn’t work for me. If it came between the two, I’d definitely say go see Bridge of Spies.


As you’re about to see…I go to the movies a lot. The latest one I saw was Our Brand is Crisis, the new Sandra Bullock movie about an election in Bolivia. It’s rated R, but I’m not sure why. I didn’t think there was anything R-worthy in there, but the movie was great. Sandra is a goddess. I wish I could say more, but I’d probably spoil it. A Bridge of Spies was still my favorite of the ones I’ve seen recently.


Documentary wise, I watched Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere, which is about an author who wrote a book over the disappearance of Steven Haataja, a brilliant math professor who moves to a small town only to end up burned to death and tied to a tree. The mystery is how and why.

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

dessertI carved a pumpkin into a moon (Maybe I was on too big of a Sailor Moon kick this week), and because of this carved pumpkin, I roasted a bunch of pumpkin seeds…which ended up being a giant FAIL. Anyway, our groundhog ate our pumpkin. But I made up for it later. I made cocoa cookies with white chocolate chips. NOM. They were, by far, the best cookies to pair with black coffee. I also made Apple Pie Sangria (both a white and a red one), which were awesome, and chicken fajitas in the slow cooker (also awesome). I made beef stroganoff recently too. On Halloween, I didn’t get to do much (boo, work), but I did manage to make myself a rootbeer float, and who doesn’t love a rootbeer float? My favorite drink to make, however, was the Eiskaaffee, a coffee drink that includes ice cream, whipped cream, coffee, and cocoa.

What I’m Wearing:

Cat-themed knee socks. They are awesome.

What I’m Wanting:

I missed out on Halloween costumes for my cats. (I know. I know. I’m cruel.) So, I really want elf costumes for them so I can celebrate SOMETHING this year. I worked on Halloween, so boooooo.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

Two little monkeys were in my window, and it was adorable. Then, I opened the door, and these GIANT baboons came running into the house. One even tried to eat my cat Kiki. I kept running around the house, trying to get them to leave, but everything I tried failed, and they destroyed EVERYTHING. I even rode on a baboon’s back at one point. It was wild.

All my other dreams were too bizarre to explain in a reasonable manner.

What Else Is Going On:

12190019_931005530279962_2086646242368372003_nI kind of went a bit crazy while waiting to hear back from my publisher about November Snow. I couldn’t really write or read. (Publishing has a strange effect on me.) So, I went out and bought a variety puzzle book…and obsessively did meaningless puzzles for two weeks straight. I wish I was kidding.


Announcement time! Other than November Snow being signed on, Minutes Before Sunset was nominated for the Cybils Award in Young Adult Speculative Fiction. Yeppee! Thanks for staying Dark and sharing the Dark with others.

During my next newsletter, you might be receiving a Black Friday Sale for The Timely Death Trilogy, so be sure to sign up here, but if you just can’t wait…

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylight: book 3

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#WW Pitch Competitions

4 Nov

Although many of you know me as an author, I work a full-time day job as an editor and marketer. I also give publishing advice and help writers with their websites. It was during this job one of my clients asked me if I had ever participated in a #Pitch competition.

If you don’t know what this is, don’t worry! I didn’t either. Not at first anyway. In fact, I embarrassingly admitted to my client that I once participated in the Twitter feed to talk to other writers without realizing a competition was going on. (This is actually okay, since it’s about making friends, but the Twitter feed is generally for those who have entered or plan to enter in the future.)

All of the Pitch competitions are different, but they generally have a theme, are run by a number of agents and mentors, and at the end, a couple of lucky authors get to skip the slush pile and apply to agents and publishers directly. Most of them you apply to via email (following all the rules!), and then you have daily discussions via Twitter while the agents are picking winners. That’s the basic rundown.

Now, after I talked to my client about this, I told them I would do some more research and figure out how to join the next one and what to do during it. Huzzah! #PitchSlam and #NoQS (Nightmare on Query Street) were taking place about a month in the future. (These events happened in October. Isn’t this time warp thing crazy?) I found the rules via the hosts’ blogs, and I relayed all of the information and deadlines. I told my client everything, but they still weren’t sure. They wanted personal information from someone with firsthand experience.

So…I joined.

At the time I was struggling with approaching my own publisher with my pitch for my latest manuscript, so I figured why not get advice from people in the industry? I was too close to the manuscript—much in a way that an editor can’t edit his or her own writing alone—and I needed help from someone else.

I entered #PitchSlam

One of my favorite PitchSlam tweets

One of my favorite PitchSlam tweets

I am going to start out by saying, I LOVED this entire experience. Not only was there an awesome theme surrounding Harry Potter, but there was also three separate days of events and support from the agents and the community. On day 1, 200 lucky writers received feedback on their 35-word pitch. On day 2, another 200 lucky writers received feedback on their first 250 words. I was super lucky. I was picked on both days, and by the end of the week, six mentors had helped me fine-tune my project.

I was through the roof. And from reading the feed, so were many other writers.

Pitch competitions are priceless. I made friends in the writing community I might not have ever made, and I learned a lot from those around me. I had fun, and I never once saw someone feel defeated by “losing.” Because there is no “losing” in these competitions. There’s just friendship, support, understanding, and teaching.

I highly recommend trying one out if you have a completed manuscript and you’re looking for an agent/publisher and/or honest/professional feedback on your work (or even if you just want to make some writer friends)!

Just to help you out, here is some extra information on upcoming ones:

  • Follow @Michelle4Laughs on Twitter for information on Sun versus Snow, a query competition coming in January. Info.
  • There’s another PitchSlam in March of 2016 as well. Info here. It’s a bi-annual contest. Here’s a list of the PitchSlam Profressors. Follow them for future updates.
  • News on PitchWars: They’ll have news on the next one after the New Year: Info.
  • Pitch Madness starts in February: Info

So get ready for the next one! I’m sure it’ll be fun. And of course, I wish you the best of luck. (And of course, be sure to follow those rules!)



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