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Author Announcements: An Update

26 Nov

Afternoon, everyone! I believe this is my first post I’ve ever published during the middle of the day, but I wanted to share an update. In the video below, you’ll hear about my recent publication, a gift, and news about Death Before Daylight. I hope you’ll check it out.

Thank you for understanding my break. I miss everyone so much! 

Here are the links to read my recent publication in The Quill: To my Mother and On being overweight

Happy Thanksgiving,

~SAT

Finding Interesting Quotes

10 Nov

Announcements:

Bookstore Browser reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, stating, “The book sets up a great world, with interesting characters and storyline as a great start to the trilogy.” Check out the entire review by clicking here.

Finding Interesting Quotes

Quotes. We love them. I rarely log onto any social media site without seeing some quote being shared via photos or tweets or simple statuses. We find a lot of meaning in quotes because we can relate to quotes, and being able to explain how we feel or think by sharing a line or two is a wonderful way to communicate with friends, family, and other followers.

One of the most wonderful times of being an author is when a reader quotes you. The first time I saw this happen, I could hardly believe it. I probably rubbed my eyes, closed my computer, reopened my computer, and blinked before I accepted that somebody had shared a few words of mine with the world. Now – it happens pretty regularly, and every time, I am just as happy as the first time. Why am I mentioning this?

Recently, a fellow author asked me how they could increase their chances of being quoted by their readers. Now – while I wish I could say there is a simple formula – I don’t know if there is, but I do know how you can find quotes in your own work that you can use for marketing purposes. So…here are a few ways to start your treasure hunt!

Figure out your themes:

I think this is the easiest way to find potential quotes in your own work. For instance, The Timely Death Trilogy revolves around the light vs. dark theme, but it’s also a romance, so I can search for words associated with that. Examples would include dark, shadows, love, hate, etc. This is handy because it serves two purposes: sharing a quote and sharing a theme from the novel. For instance, if I shared the favorited Seconds Before Sunrise quote, “Chaos within destiny. It was the definition of love.” it appeals to readers who might want to read about love, destiny, and drama. It’s also short enough to fit on Twitter.

city

Read book reviews:

Readers will often point out their favorite quotes in book reviews. But – by the holy reading gods – do not respond to the book review. I think we all know how horribly that can go. While I generally let readers add quotes to Goodreads, this is a place where I’ve added a few quotes myself after a book reviewer shared one but didn’t add it. Book reviews can be a gold mine for finding quotes, but the only downside is the fact that you won’t have the quotes until after the book releases. If you need quotes beforehand, this method will have to be used later.

Google Yourself:

I know. I know. I just said that. But – seriously – I found photos people took and edited just for the quotes inside my novels. I even found quote websites and new social media websites where I could connect with readers. In fact, this is one of the reasons I ended up on Pinterest. When I searched for my name, most of the photos I found with my quotes on them were on Pinterest.

Now that you have quotes to use, use them! Create photos, tweet them out, post them on Facebook. There are plenty of ways to pick out those one-liners to share, but make sure you’re having fun with it! Create images, tweet out to readers, “like” photos fans create. Post them on your website!

There are no limitations to sharing words, and who knows who will share yours next?

~SAT

Writing the Back Blurb

8 Nov

Announcements: 

The Messy Owl reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, stating, “A thrilling and entangling plot, full of suspense and action.” Read the entire review here or check out my latest novel by clicking here.

Writing the Back Blurb

As I near the release date of Death Before Daylight, I remember more topics that I can talk about due to the tasks I must complete beforehand. Writing the back blurb is one of these tasks. Oh, yes. The dreaded back blurb. Everyone knows about the summary of text on the back of the book that convinces readers, “Yes. You want this book.” The scariest part relies on the fact that the summary is exactly that – something that could make it or break it a reader.

The pressure.

So, I’m going to share how I write the back blurb by using Minutes Before Sunset as an example. First, I want to clarify that this is how I write one, and it may not be a method everyone should use. It also might come across as more complicated than it actually is, but that’s because I am breaking it down into five steps, even though – in reality – it feels like one when I’m writing the back blurb. I hope it helps those who are struggling with writing one!

1. Try to write a query letter

A query letter is even worse, right? But I like to start there because it forces me to summarize the novel in one or three sentences. Those sentences end up summarizing everything, but – more importantly – it forces me to get to the bottom of the message, the theme, and the genre. This allows me to focus on those things in the future. Set aside until step 3. (This is actually where I get my “Two destinies. One death.”)

2. Write a one-page synopsis

Oh, how painful this is. (Just kidding.) This is where I write whatever I want to. I explain the novel for as long as I like, and when I’m done, I slowly start to cut smaller parts out until I get it down to one page. Set aside until step 3.

3. Combine Step 1 and 2

This is where I combine everything. Look at the first two sentences you came up with and compare it to the synopsis. What matters the most? What catches your eye the most? What correlates and what doesn’t? Sure, it would be great to mention your favorite side character’s importance, but do they add to the theme more than the protagonist? That first step really helps me make the cuts I didn’t want to make in step 2. (This is where I get most of the information that will be found in the middle.)

The bubbles with numbers have been added, of course ;]

The bubbles with numbers have been added, of course ;]

4. Make it catchy

Once you get the information that you want, twist the sentences around. Think of the infamous Don LaFontaine’s “In a world” movie trailer voice. Or listen to epic music while you write it. Make it fit! Make it intense! Don’t hold back…until you step away for a day. I would warn against making it too epic – because that’s when many create a back blurb that is too abstract to understand – but keep some intensity while also creating some grounding for the reader to get. Step away for a day. Come back. Read it again. Make sure it sets up the reader’s expectations in the right place. For instance, you don’t want to mention love in the synopsis if love is barely in the book at all. That will only cause romance readers to pick it up, and they probably won’t be too happy with your novel if they expected something that ended up not being there. (This is where I add the quote. I add the quote at this point because it becomes my “dun dun dun” but it also helps me focus on the turning point of a plot – the main conflict, per se, and I like to set up the reader to know that for the trilogy.)

5. Edit. Get opinions. Edit again. But decide on it.

Just like a manuscript, get someone’s opinion about your blurb. Edit, and rewrite it, but don’t obsess forever about it. Eventually, you have to decide on something and turn it in. Talking to others might help you feel more confident about the back blurb. I would even go so far as suggesting getting an opinion from someone who had read the book and someone who knows nothing about the book. (This is also where I add the review quotes since I finalize the blurb.)

It’s over! You have your back blurb, and you’re ready to share it with the world. The only other thing I would mention is this: for series, I would suggest remaining consistent. Seconds Before Sunrise has the same parts that Minutes Before Sunset does – the slogan, the quote, the summary, and the review quote. Death Before Daylight will as well…which reminds me. If you want an ARC of Death Before Daylight for review, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I will share your review right here and on my other websites as well!

And best of luck with your back blurb writing,

~SAT

Insta-Love isn’t Instant

3 Nov

Announcements:

Everyone can expect a cover reveal of Death Before Daylight on November 6th – this also means I will not have a blog post on the 5th. I need an extra day to prep everything, but I hope your excitement will make the wait!

My latest interview and review has been posted on the Book Gannet! I talk about future works, current works, and why I dislike prophecies despite having one in The Timely Death Trilogy. Click the links to check them out!

Insta-Love isn’t Instant

The other night, I was browsing Facebook when a few readers brought up the discussion of insta-love. If you are unfamiliar with the term, “insta-love” is more-or-less love at first sight, and it is becoming widely debated among book blogs, readers, and authors alike. There are even entire lists on Goodreads dedicated to insta-love books. (Funny fact: “Instalove” started as a hashtag on Instagram for new couples. The reason I’m using a dash will make more sense as we continue on.)

Now, I may be sticking my neck out by saying this, but I don’t really think “insta-love” exists. But – please – hear me out.

I think insta-love is sometimes confused with insta-lust and insta-infatuation. Yep. I said that. Just because two characters are interacting, holding hands, kissing, or even sleeping together, does not mean the book is full of insta-love. I would even go so far as to say just because two characters say “I love you” does not mean they are, in fact, in love. How many people do you know that were in a long-term relationship, said, “I love you” a hundred times, and eventually broke up only to say they knew they didn’t love them? How many people get “swept off their feet” or think, “that’s the one” only to later realize that neither were true in the first place.

Before calling it “insta-love”, let’s talk about real life scenarios that happen in books. In fact, I’m going to give three:

Scenario One: (The meet-and-greet love)

Two characters walk into a bar. They meet, hookup, and go on for the rest of the book loving each other. This doesn’t necessarily mean it was insta-love. It just means it started off as insta-lust and turned into love eventually. I feel like this happens often in books – two characters meet quickly but they are not seen as characters that grew over time because they did something that society deems inappropriate for two strangers to do. This happens in various forms, but I think the most common “insta-love” complaint is when two characters immediately open up or lean on one another when they are complete strangers. Why? I know plenty of people who open up to strangers the second they meet someone. In fact, I’m fairly certain there are entire groups of people out there that are more likely to open up to strangers than friends. Trust me. I used to ride the city bus every morning and evening. It happened more than I could ever explain.

insta

Scenario Two: (One-sided love affairs)

A guy is head-over-heels in love with someone who barely cares about him back. One might call it love, but many people label this as infatuation. I think this happens a lot in “insta-love” scenarios – where one character has very intense emotions for another character without it being reciprocated until later on. Think Fifty Shades of Grey. Many people have said it is insta-love, but in reality, he literally pushes her away emotionally for most of the novel until she breaks up with him. That isn’t love. That’s lust, infatuation, and confusion mixed with novel-drama.

Scenario Three: (Love Triangles)

Oh, the all-too common emotional toll in books: love triangles. This is when one character (generally the protagonist) is confused about their love toward two different characters. This might be a personal thing – I can admit that I am not a fan of love triangles – but I cannot fathom calling it “love” when a character cannot pick between two people. To me, that is something else. That is having very strong and caring emotions about two people but not love. (And perhaps having one word in the English language for romantic love is the major problem here.) But I’m aware that this is a personal opinion of love, not necessarily everyone’s opinion, but that brings me to my next point:

In the end, I honestly believe insta-love is based on the readers’ personal preferences of what love means to them, and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I want to clarify that I believe there is nothing wrong with mentioning insta-love in a book review, especially if the reasoning is explained for future readers to contemplate. It’s a widely accepted term, after all.

People fall in love differently, at different times, and often with different people or even without knowing who they have fallen for. We’ve all heard of the couple who saw each other from across the room, fell in love at first sight, and seriously stayed together for the rest of their lives. And we’ve met the couples that thought they were those couples until they became heartbroken and separated. Love shifts overtime. It changes and morphs and grows and – unfortunately – dies for many, but love can be a wonderful emotion to read about because it resides in hope and trust. Love is an emotion of acceptance. So why should we judge love at all?

Insta-love or not, love is different for all, and perhaps, that is why it is so beautiful.

~SAT

The Please-Help-Shannon Poll

1 Nov

Announcements:

10620095_760175297362987_6507736429119474630_oSpecial thanks goes out to Omar Bula Escobar – former UN representative and author of “El Plan Maestro” – for translating and sharing a quote from Minutes Before Sunset yesterday on his website!

In my latest interview, I was asked if I have a message for my fans, and I do! Click here to read my answer on Mel’s Shelves. The interview is right below her review of Seconds Before Sunrise where she wrote, “I was drawn into this story and felt like I was there with them. I loved the ending and I’m looking forward to seeing where this story will go next!” Join the dark by clicking here before the last novel arrives this January.

A new poem – What I Wanted to Wear for Halloween – has been added to my interactive poetry series – now both on Wattpad and HelloPoetry. Comment, vote, or share for your chance to be mentioned on my YouTube channel!

The Please-Help-Shannon Poll

I am starting off November a little differently – with a small poll. I promise that it is small, and I hope that you take a minute to help me out. This poll has two questions that can affect my publishing discussions and the content of this website. Just comment below or shoot me an email at shannonathompson@aol.com.

What would you like to see published in 2015?

  • Death Before Daylight, book 3 of The Timely Death Trilogy
  • Take Me Yesterday, sequel to Take Me Tomorrow
  • November Snow rewrite and release
  • A completely new novel
  • Audio books
  • More poems
  • More short stories
  • Something else entirely – please feel free to suggest something else

What would you like to see on ShannonAThompson.com?

This can range anywhere from more guest posts to YouTube videos to topic suggestions to posts that have nothing to do with writing and reading. So suggest anything below! (If you suggest a specific post I use in the future, I will credit you and your website for inspiration.)

This is how I call for help

This is how I call for help

I truly appreciate all of your time and help. Things have been really hard in my personal life recently, so I’ve had to reevaluate a lot of things. Unfortunately, that includes my publishing life and this website. I won’t lie. There might be a major delay or a dramatic change in the near future, and I hope you do not despise me because of it. I truly am sorry – because quite frankly I feel as if I am failing you right now – but I am trying my hardest to keep up with everything, and your responses will help me solidify decisions I need to make. I truly want your input on those decisions because you – as well as the wonderful AEC team – are the reasons I am able to pursue my writing life.

If you can be so kind, please share the services on my page. The Author Extension Community offers a variety of affordable packages for authors and bloggers, including:

  • Content editing and proofreading
  • Review and interview requests
  • Social Media assessments
  • And more!

I know. I know. Shameless marketing. But I need your help, and I hope there is no shame in asking for it.

Thank you again, and Happy November,

~SAT

When to Stop Writing

26 Oct

When to Stop Writing

This post is inspired by a comment that happened on my Facebook Author Page recently. The other day, writer – Angie Neto – asked me a fantastic question I’m sure all writers can relate to:

“Were you nervous when you published your first novel? I have edited, rewritten and changed chapters so many times now and still doing last minute searches for errors. When do you say enough?”

My Facebook answer:

“I still get nervous. I think that’s natural. You’re working hard to share your intellectual creation. It’s nerve-racking, knowing you will be judged off of it, but it’s well worth it. But I do think – at some point – you have to step away and have beta readers and editors deal with it, and eventually, you have to turn the manuscript in, and one day, you have to know you can’t change anything anymore (even though you’ll be dying to!)”

Special shout out to Angie Neto! Because of this conversation, I wanted to expand on this topic. That being said, I believe writing is always unique to the writer. Hemingway liked to drink while writing. I couldn’t write drunk if I wanted to. But I have been found writing in a dark closet before. (Don’t ask.) So I want to take a moment to share three times that I stop writing.

1. When I’ve spent WAY too much time editing and re-editing and re-editing

I’m only starting with this one because that was the main reason of writing this post. Editing is vital. Don’t get me wrong. But it can also be destructive, and I know this because I’ve been there before. I’ve hauled myself page over page over page over year over year – only to realize I’ve been editing this manuscript to death. At this point, I’ve basically butchered the entire manuscript because I’ve sliced my confidence apart a million times. What I mean to say…well, let me describe a sad recollection of events: Shannon writes book, Shannon edits book halfway through, Shannon decides to rewrite the entire script, Shannon edits that book, Shannon edits it again, Shannon edits again, Shannon still finds the wrong “you’re” in a sentence, and Shannon breaks down about how awful of a writer she could be to miss such an editing mistake five times in a row, and now Shannon believes the entire manuscript is this way, so she deletes it and starts over…Do not – and I repeat – DO NOT do this to yourself. Edit it as many times as you want to, but always remember that other editors are out there for a reason. Let them assess it. Let them help you. Breathe. Put down the red pen. It will be okay. If we don’t learn when to stop editing, we will – literally – never stop editing. A manuscript is like a person. It will never be perfect. The imperfections give it character. (Just don’t give it too much character if you know what I mean.)

notestop

 2. When I’m physically ill

Sadly, I do not mean that I have the flu. I can admit that I – in fact – have found a pen in my hand when I was bedridden. Safe? Healthy? Probably not. But I’m a writing addict. That being said, I don’t actually mean to say the flu is the problem. The problem is when I CAUSE the flu to happen in the first place because I’ve stressed myself out so much over writing that I stop taking care of myself and – in turn – I get ill. Stress ill. Headaches and body pains from sitting at my desk for too long ill. Don’t do that to yourself. In this case, strain is not gain. Strain is sickness that will only put you behind schedule even more, and it will only cause more pain.

 3.  When I start losing my love for writing

I never lose my love for writing – not entirely anyway. But I do have days where I step back, and I realize that I am struggling. In fact, I can confess that I went through this yesterday. I’ve been so focused on the edits of Death Before Daylight that I have forgotten to give myself time to write in a current novel I am very much emotionally involved in. Don’t get me wrong. I’m involved in Death Before Daylight as well. Very involved. But working on something new is quite the refreshing energy boost that I need to keep powering through edits of a novel. Although I love editing, working on the same project for long periods of time can be draining, especially since I’m more focused on the publishing side of things rather than the writing side of things, so I have to return to the “just writing to write” part of me often because that part of me is the most important in terms of enjoying my writing. I only have to remind myself of that.

In the end, you might have noticed that I don’t necessarily “stop” writing. I simply change my focus of writing or a take a moment to step back in order to relax. In fact, I was very serious when I said I’m going through the last one right now. Between my car and my laptop breaking down this week, my stress level peaked (and not in a good way at all). Writing is my coping mechanism, but working on edits was the last thing I needed. I had to shelve Death Before Daylight, and I had to do what I wanted to do the most desperately, so I worked on a new novel I’ve referred to before on here as TGO, and I felt much better afterward – almost like I learned to breathe again, and in all honesty, I might have to do this again next week. I’m still not sure I’m over it. All that matters is getting back on my feet again one way or another.

Do you have any times that you stop writing?

Feel free to share below! It’s also that time again – expect Website Wonders and October’s Ketchup to be posting soon.

~SAT

How a Writing Career Changes in Two Years

22 Oct

Announcements: 

Read to Write Stories posted a writing exercise called – How to Begin and End Chapters – and it features Take Me Tomorrow. Check it out by clicking the link. The post also includes passages from my latest novel. If you’re looking for a fantastic website to enhance your writing, I definitely recommend Read to Write Stories. The weekly pieces are great setups for new writers and wonderful practice for writers hoping to tune their craft.

How a Writing Career Changes in Two Years

The other night, I was doing something that most writers dread: Cleaning old documents off my laptop. Pretty much everyone I know dreads this, but writers – I believe – have a little extra to sift through. Between years of daydreaming, note-taking, and attempting to start numerous novels only to shelve them, writers can stack up hundreds if not thousands of mislabeled, unfinished, and probably unorganized pieces of writing, and I doubt I am alone when I say this, but it is so impossibly difficult to delete old writings…but I manage to do it anyway. When I do, I hold my kitten to make the pain bearable.

It was on one of these horrid nights that I found a document titled “Book To-Do.” I, being the unorganized cat lady that I am, had no idea what to expect from this docx icon I found buried among old college assignments and music wishlist bulletins, but I knew I could not delete it without reading every word of it, so I opened it.

I found gold.

Book To-Do was written on September 04, 2012. At this point in my life, November Snow was my only piece of work released, but I had quit publishing a long time ago. This document was also written approximately 20 days before I began this website, and the entire point of this single document was to outline where I was with my writing as well as label where I wanted to go next. I can’t share all of those notes (Spoilers are everywhere, even about books I haven’t told beta readers about yet!) but I am showing notes on pieces you will recognize:

November Snow

  • Old version: 125,978 words
  • New version written as of now: chapter 1—11: 30,265 words
  • Currently writing chapter 12

Take Me Tomorrow

  • Finished editing, sent query, responses gained, speak with author in contact.

The Dark Trilogy

….

So, where am I going with this?

The gain! Look how much has changed in two years alone. The Dark Trilogy became The Timely Death Trilogy, and Death Before a New Day morphed into Death Before Daylight, and all three received a rewrite, an edit, and a contract. Same with Take Me Tomorrow, and although I’m still working on November Snow’s rewrite, I am still moving forward with it, but the important piece was how I felt upon seeing this dated list: I realized how easily all of this hard work can be forgotten.

My friend made this two years ago, purposely using ‘right’ instead of ‘write’ to give me a hard time

Two years ago, my friend made this, purposely using ‘right’ instead of ‘write’, and the joke has stuck. I truly was writing a paper for college, and that is my lucky Elvis t-shirt.

You see, as an author, I am always looking forward, and I never think I am doing well enough (and especially fast enough) to further my career in order to meet more readers. That focus isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes I believe I get too caught up in moving forward that I forget how much work I have done to get to where I already am, and I found a lot of excitement in seeing physical reminders of that progress. It reminded me that I am – in fact – working hard, but it also forced me to take a step back from the pressures I put on myself, and it allowed me to pat myself on the back for a little bit (all, of course, while thanking anyone and everyone who has helped me along the way).

It’s safe to say that I didn’t delete this document. Instead, I updated it with today’s date, and I left a little encouraging note for my future self to stumble upon another two years from now.

Who knows how far we can all be by then?

It’s definitely a practice I would recommend other authors try. I know it brought a smile to my face, and it is for that reason that I want to take a moment to thank all of you again – for allowing me to share my words and for sharing your words with me.

In two years, I hope to see you again,

~SAT

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