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March Ketchup

30 Mar

Seeing as this is my second “Ketchup” post ever, I am amazed by how much I am falling in love with these. It’s a lot of fun to go back to analyze stats in order to figure out what you all found decided was the most popular. This helps me understand you all, and I think it also shows other bloggers what goes on behind the scenes here at ShannonAThompson.com. I’ll slowly be adding in more categories as I realize what will be the most helpful to everyone! Here is what I’m sharing this month: my big moments, top three blog posts, the one blog post I wish received more views, the rest of the blog posts, top referrer other than search engines, top searched term, and gains in followers, likes, and shares. I also included every website who has helped me this month.

Big Moments:

currentSeconds Before Sunrise released on March 27th, which is the moment every writer looks forward to, but after the release party, something amazing happened! My novels skyrocketed into the top 1,000 books in the Kindle Store. Your growing support is astounding, and I cannot wait to continue into the future with my next novels, including “Death Before Daylight” (book 3 of The Timely Death Trilogy.) If you want to start now, here’s a link to Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise.

Other big moments included actress, dancer, and director, Gracie Dzienny tweeting about my novels. I also found out my poem will be published in the first edition of LaLuna Magazine, so look out for more news on that coming in April.

twomom

 Top Three Blog Posts:

1. Oh, yes. I Did Record a Video: I guess this means that I need to post more videos on my YouTube channel. I invited you to my launch party in all my nervous glory.

2. What’s Your Shade Name? And other Author Announcements: The shade name generator was possibly the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It’s also nice to know you all are interested in reading about my author life!

3. My Home Away From Home: This was a post I was nominated for, and I spoke about my favorite place to go. The post was also the anniversary of my mother’s death, and I shared how cemeteries bring me peace, even to this day.

The Post I Wish Got More Views:

Writing Tips: The Five Senses: This post actually got a lot of views, but I spent more time organizing and writing this blog post than the others. I analyze how to include the five senses in a novel, but I also ranked what I and other writers believed to be the easiest to the hardest sense to include. After that, I showed tallies from my own novels to display if my original thoughts were correct or not. I still believe this prompt is a fantastic (yes, time consuming but fantastic) prompt for all writers to try.

nomakep

Other Blog Posts: 

Below are the other blog posts I haven’t mentioned yet. They are organized into categories.

Writing:

My Writing Process Blog Tour: Nominated by Dan Thompson, I explained my writing process.

Why I Am Most Nervous About the Second Book of a Trilogy: Middle novels are often seen as transitional novels, and I fought that – hard.

What Changes from First Draft to Publication: I share my personal experiences in editing.

The After Party: The day after the release of Seconds Before Sunrise.

Reading:

The Controversy of Rating and Reviewing Novels: there’s a lot of argument going on between readers and writers. I discussed a few of the most common ones.

 So You Want to be a Book Blogger: Tips for setting up your book reviewing website.

Is that Novel REALLY Dystopian? How Market Trends Affect Incorrect Labeling: Novels are often mislabeled on purpose due to marketing strategies.

My top referrer other than search engines was my Facebook page.

My top referrer other than search engines was my Facebook page.

Other:

No Makeup Selfie Campaign for Cancer Research: I always take time to participate in important events like this.

Guest Post: The Passion – she is contagious: author, Sorin Suciu blogged about his passions.

The Oscars: Who I Want to Win This Year: I have to do fun posts every now and then.

And last, but definitely not least, I want to thank the websites who supported me this month by reviewing my novels, interviewing me, and featuring my work during this crazy fun month:

Reviewers: Fantasy is More FunLife With No PlotJust A Third Cultured KidThe Modest VergeWrite Out LoudA Reader’s ReviewCoffee Shop ReaderEnnlee’s Reading CornerPau’s CastlesChris PavesicThe Novel ListPress Pause, Fast ForwardBreathe Wild FlowerMental CheesecakeLife with no PlotEndless ReadingSo Little Books, So Little TimeFantasy is more Fun, and Tamara Morning.

Interviewers: Dan Thompson, A Reader’s Review, The Urge to Write, Writing Under Fire, and Desirable Purity.

Features: BIT’N Book Promoters, Paranormal Book Club, and Fantasy is More Fun,

I picked this picture because tonight is the Full Worm Moon. (by Free Photos and Wallpapers.)

I picked this picture because tonight is the Full Worm Moon. (by Free Photos and Wallpapers.)

What’s Your Shade Name? And other Author Announcements

22 Mar

Today I have lots of exciting announcements, including an opportunity to win tons of prizes, but there’s something I definitely wanted to start off with:

game2

The first name is your ranking and the second name is…well…your shade name! I’m Student Shoman. What would you get at the Naming of the Dark in Minutes Before Sunset? Feel free to share the name generator around! I worked really hard on it, so I hope your friends and you enjoy it.

My latest novels.

My latest novels.

Now, onto my Author Announcements:

I haven’t done one of these in a while because I’ve been really focusing on bringing fun and engaging articles to everyone – writers and readers alike – but I must share all of this overwhelmingly happy news today.

Seconds Before Sunrise came in the mail. Seconds Before Sunrise is also on Amazon – which means you can read sneak peeks for free. If you don’t want to go there, click Chapter 1 to 3 to check out the first three chapters or click here for Minutes Before Sunset (only $3.89)

AEC Stellar Publishing is actually hosting a VIRTUAL launch party on March 27th from 7 – 9 p.m. (CDT) on Facebook, so come in your pajamas and play games for a chance to win signed paperbacks, bookmarks, and more! I would invite everyone personally, but Facebook makes that really difficult, so I apologize for my massive post invite. However, you are cordially invited to celebrate the dark side via The Timely Death Trilogy. (You can also LIVE interview me. EEEEE!) Click here or the picture below to join in on the fun. I really hope to see everyone there!

SBSpartytime

Click here to join! Win paperbacks, bookmarks, prize packs, and more!

I am beyond ecstatic for the release day! And I wish I could express my gratitude by sending everyone a giant hug or high five in the mail. Your support has been unbelievable. Minutes Before Sunset recently hit 100 ratings with a 4.48 star average on Goodreads because of YOU, and YOU are amazing! I definitely included you all in my “Acknowledgements” inside Seconds Before Sunrise. This is what it said: “An artist’s life has many ups and downs, so thank you to all of the writers, readers, and dreamers for their timeless encouragement and inspiration on ShannonAThompson.com. With all of your love, the future will be filled with art.”

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~SAT

The Controversy of Rating and Reviewing Novels

8 Mar

Readers and writers, please take a moment to read this anti-bullying petition that can help the reader-writer relationship as well as the book market:  Protect Amazon.com Users and Indie Publishing Authors from Bullying and Harassment by Removing Anonymity and Requiring Identity Verification for Reviewing and Forum ParticipationWe may not be able to stop all trolls, but we can and should take a stand against them. Let’s make the internet a more positive place for all.

Beyond that, I wanted to thank The Novel List for reading and reviewing Seconds Before Sunrise. “I was taken away by this new world Shannon A. Thomson created, and even when I put the book down, this world haunted my thoughts. It was addicting and ironic, haunting and mystical, hilarious and sophisticated. I cannot praise this author more for providing an unfamiliar perspective to YA fiction, and exploring new ideas that are clearly distinct and unique to her personality.” Read the full review here to find out what The Novel List never saw coming.

Last time, I wrote out a lot of tips for those readers who are starting up their own book blog. Today, I was going to discuss how to rate and review novels in the most appropriate way possible, but then I realized something: “appropriate” is very, VERY debatable. (We are not talking about the obvious ones: ex/ telling an author to go die. That is blatantly wrong. We are, instead, talking about review situations that are debatable.)

At first thought, it’s difficult to see how any controversy would come up during reviews, but here are just a few that I will be discussing:

  • Reviewing a novel one has not even read or only read a few pages of
  • Purposely reading a novel one knows they will hate
  • Judging a chronological series out of order

However, before we continue, I want to clarify that I am not encouraging reviewers to write reviews in any of these situations. I am also not discouraging them. Although I have my personal opinions about these situations, readers have the right to review novels at anytime for any reason. As a reader, I like to believe I am always respectable when I write a review. As an author, I would simply ask reviewers to clarify if these things happened during the reading process. (Ex/ stating you did not finish the book in the review.) The controversies below are not meant to hurt anyone. They are meant to remind ourselves to be positive no matter what. You do not have to respect someone’s opinion, but you should try to respect that they have the right to one.

1 STAR

1. Reviewing an unread novel

I’m starting with this one because it is the only one I will share my personal opinion on. Please, don’t. Just don’t. Even if your friend told you how horrible it was and you trust them, don’t. Even if you have seen the movie, don’t. Even if you hate things that author has previously written, don’t review their new pieces without reading it. Just don’t. I cannot even fathom a justification for reviewing a novel without picking it up at all. Other than simple hating, (like how readers did this to popular novels), I have seen this happen a lot when a novel challenges very personal issues, like politics, religion, or sex, but reviewing a novel you have not read is simply not appropriate. Finding a novel that you are willing to pick up is more important than tearing down novels you have never touched.

2. Reviewing an unfinished novel

This situation is a lot more understandable than the first one. The reader at least attempted to read the novel. In this case, a reviewer should state that they did not finish the piece, where they stopped, and/or why they shelved the novel. There are many reasons for dropping a novel, including lack of interest, annoyance with a character, or disagreeable prose. Explaining your reason will allow your review to still be helpful to potential readers. For instance, you could say, “This novel was too descriptive.” Even with a one-star, a reader who likes very descriptive prose will find this helpful.

3. Judging a chronological series out of order

I’ve seen it happen. Someone reads book three of a seven book series, realizes it, and still reviews it poorly anyway because they were confused. Of course they’re confused. They missed four books. That’s like watching the newest episode of The Walking Dead and expecting to understand everything. Some reviewers think this is okay because it will let potential readers know if the novels are stand alones, but if you’re going to review it out of order– just say you read it out of order.  (Fun fact: I accidentally read The Forest of Hands and Teeth and the Mediator series out of order, but I still loved them. However, I went back and read the beginning books before I ever wrote a review.)

two-star-rating

Beyond that, I wanted to include a shortened list of two more situations that I believe reviewers should state if their review was affected from them:

- If you hate or love a genre: picking up high fantasy when you hate everything fantasy means you know you will probably be rating a novel down. I encourage readers to try new genres, but if you know your tastes automatically affected your thoughts, just mention it. This will be helpful for readers, because it will show if that particular novel appeals to new readers of the genre.

If any outside event affected your reading mood – We get it. We’re all human. Reading a novel on an airplane compared to reading in your comfy bed at home can affect how much you enjoy what you’re reading. If you’re in the middle of finals, stress could cause you to drop the book halfway through with no hard feelings against the book. You don’t have to tell us that you lost your job. Just state that if you think your sour mood might have affected your reading state. That’s much nicer than simply rating it one star without knowing for sure that it was the book or your feelings that week.

Basically, by keeping these situations in mind, readers can remind themselves that an author – who probably worked months if not years on a novel – is not being judged unfairly. While readers have the right to review a novel whenever and however they like, practicing mutual respect is vital in keeping a healthy reading environment. 

To conclude this piece, I want to share a wonderful quote that Ky Grabowski shared on her blog: “Write about the book you read – not the book you wish the author had written.”

~SAT

Donate to ShannonAThompson.com

Donate to ShannonAThompson.com

The Author Extension Community

6 Jan

It’s a new year and so much has changed already. My publisher – AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. – has cranked its gears and remodeled itself for the future. Instead of being a simple publisher, we are now an open and growing community of writers, cover artists, and editors supporting one another. You don’t have to be published by AEC or spend money to participate. The website is designed for everyone to connect in one place. This website is for you, and hopefully, by the end of this piece, you’ll want to check out The Author Extension Community and/or join it. It’s a great place for authors to support one another as well as readers to come and meet them. We simply need people to help us spread the word, and I’ll give you three, great reasons to do it:

1. The website has many places where you and your work can be showcased

Why stop celebrating just because the holidays are over?

Why stop celebrating just because the holidays are over?

2. The Author Extension Community also shares Tips/Tricks for writing, editing, publishing, and marketing from you and for you. Currently, there’s a great website found by Amber Skye Forbes, which helps authors find more ways to reach readers. With more people on this page, this place can become a haven for authors looking for a way to cut back on research time and add more successful, fun time.

3. Win all sorts of things through the Contests and Giveaway pages. In fact you might even have the opportunity to get published! Let the Author Extension Community know you are interested in the publishing opportunity by commenting on this page. 

The Author Extension Community is positive, innovative, and free. 

As readers and writers, we’re constantly trying to find ways to connect and grow, and this is an opportunity to do so with many others striving to succeed in this publishing market. We share a dream, so let’s achieve it together.

Join the Author Extension Community, start participating, share with others, and watch us grow! 

~SAT

Stranger Than Fiction

4 Jan

Everyone knows Mark Twain‘s quote “Truth is stranger than fiction.” But do you know the FULL quote?

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” 

This quote is one that has constantly fascinated me, and I want to discuss it today in as much depth as my little blog allows me to do without going overboard.

I agree with Mark Twain completely. 

When I read this quote, I particularly find myself reflecting on action novels and movies. It’s common to see a reviewer roll their eyes and say, “That was ridiculous. No one could survive that. etc.” And I admit, I am also one of these people.

But then it happens: I come across a REAL article – a nonfiction tale – that seems so outlandish that even scientists and experts are left scratching their heads in confusion. Just a few examples might include these: 5 Real Life Soldiers Who Make Rambo Look Like a Pussy, 7 Historical Figures Who Were Absurdly Hard to Kill,  or even 15 Images You Won’t Believe Aren’t Photoshopped. These are only three that I can’t wrap my mind around when reading, and if I came across them in a fiction novel, I would’ve been one of those critics that claimed it was unbelievable.

Why does this happen? Why do we want our fiction stories to be grounded in truths that real life doesn’t even have to listen to?

For instance, I think there’s an expectation for the use of magic to be fully explained in fantasy novels. While I think a background story helps create a relatable world, I do want to question why. After all, it’s magic, isn’t it? But readers want the history. They want to know the origins. They want to know where it all began. But if you think about it, human history has so many questions, we don’t even have this in real life. (Again, not stating an explanation isn’t needed. I’m simply using this as an example in terms of truth being stranger than fiction.) Maybe we – as readers – want an explanation because it’s simply in our human nature to want it. 

To clarify I am not just talking about magic, I want to recall a time in my fiction writing class.

These thoughts make me see birds fly around my confused head.

These thoughts make me see birds fly around my confused head.

A very talented writer wrote a story about a serial killer who ultimately died of a brain aneurysm. It was written in first person, and he quite frankly falls over and dies. When we discussed her piece, many classmates wanted more. They didn’t like the event, stating something along the lines that it took them out of the story. I, on the other hand, found it quite believable, considering this happens in every day life to all sorts of people without any previous signs. While they thought it was anticlimactic, I thought it was symbolic for a guy who causes death so dramatically to die so quickly without any shoot out. But the overall viewpoint was that his death had nothing to do with the story despite potential realism. Not all murder cases are solved in a Hollywood shootout. Many serial killers go unknown. Some probably live normal lives that would cause us to never suspect them of their crimes. But – still – it wasn’t enough.

There seems to be a line of expectation that lies between realistic and symbolic that is difficult to pinpoint. 

So, yes. I think fiction has to abide by more expectations in order to keep a reader in believability-mode more so than real life simply because real life is allowed to have unexplainable exceptions. Fiction demands reasoning.

I asked if you all agreed with Mark Twain’s quote on my Author Facebook Page.

Join me on Facebook, and your answers might be used next!

Join me on Facebook, and your answers might be used next!

Rebecca P. McCray, author of The Journey of the Marked, elaborated on the subject by stating, “Great quote and one I haven’t thought about in a while. I do agree with Mark Twain, but I think the more interesting question is why is it true? I think the answer lies in how far individuals are able to stretch the imagination. What may seem ‘unbelievable’ to one may be justifiable to another. We live in a world where children are being fed technology / ideas at an astonishing rate, but are we limiting the ability to imagine? To entertain oneself with outlandish ideas. To challenge what is believable. Fiction should, by definition, push the limits of reality, allowing a writer to explore ideas. But in the end, if one pushes too far, will he/she alienate readers who are unable to suspend that reality beyond what is known? I suppose there are trends like the zombie phase we’re currently in that would qualify as being stranger than truth. But in the end, I do agree that truth is often stranger than fiction.”

What do you think? Do you agree? Why do you agree or disagree? What kind of trends have you seen that support your side? 

~SAT

Scribd, Oyster, and Why I’m Hesitant as a Reader and Writer

29 Dec

Article Corrections on December 30, 2013: 

Below there is some information about Scribd that was incorrect, and I would like to clarify what those parts are:

  • Scribd is available on Android as well as Apple phones/tablets as well as computers
  • You can search the catalog of books by title or author without a subscription if you click on the search bar in the upper left corner of your screen next to the Scribd logo.  It the the little magnifying glass icon–the third button

Thank you for understanding!

First, I want to share a fantastic website dedicated to books, book events, gadgets, and reviews. If you didn’t check it out during the cover reveal, The Novel List is definitely worth a read. The site is both interactive and informative, and today I am thanking The Novel List for reviewing Minutes Before Sunset.

Find out why The Novel List said, “Shannon A. Thompson was really inventive with the romance bit. I didn’t even think anything would happen until it did, and when it did my toes curled.” Check out the full review here.

As a an avid reader and working writer, I focus on changes in the industry, and I try to learn as much as I can about what is happening behind the closed doors of publishing houses and libraries. I may not be the most timely person, but I’d rather watch what happens to changes before I discuss them. Because of this, I am talking about Scribd and Osyter today – two reading programs that have been out for a couple of months now.

Basic Information: 

Scribd and Oyster are e-reading programs nicknamed “The Netflix for Books.” Oyster is $9.95 per month, while Scribd is $8.99 per month, and for these costs, you can read an unlimited number a books on your Apple device.

Logos provided websites. Click the links to visit.

Logos provided websites. Click the links to visit.

Because I want to be completely fair, I want to share what I like first:

Unlimited number of books for a small fee – this is great for the avid reader. (If you only have time to read one or two books a month, this probably won’t save you money.) From the reviews I can find, the app looks clean and easy to use. It has features that allow you to search for certain words or phrases. You can discuss what you’re reading or what you want to read. Your bookshelf can be public or private, allowing everyone to compare books and see if they would like something someone else is reading. (In this case, it sounded like a Goodreads or Shelfari on top of the app.) It builds a community, but I’m still not sure it’s a community I would want to be a part of.

This is what I don’t like:

Neither website allows you to search their bookshelf before joining it. This is important, because they don’t have every book available – according to this article, these apps are missing novels from four of the five major publishing houses (Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster.) And I take this sort of concealing as a HUGE red flag.

This is Bogart’s skeptical face.

This is Bogart’s skeptical face.

The app is only available for Apple run services – although they are hoping to get one out for Android soon. (I am an Android person myself, so this is a big deal to me.) On top of this, it seems these apps are only available in the U.S. They are hoping to expand, but there isn’t much clarification here.

As a writer, I could not find any information on how the authors get paid. The companies have only been vague, basically stating, “it varies from publisher to publisher.” They haven’t even mentioned the authors aside from encouraging Indie authors to join, which I don’t like considering how minuscule the information is. However, they have stated that they plan on releasing more information – along with everything else…eventually.

That being said, I think there are still benefits for authors.

These company programs can help newer authors build a broader audience. Even though the cost might seem like a risk, there are libraries, which is pretty much the same concept – just in a building. It will be interesting to see if these websites build audiences and how they affect the industry as they continue to grow and expand.

When I asked for your opinions on my Facebook Author Page, here were some of your answers: 

Interact on my FB and see you answers here!

Interact on my FB and see your answers here! 

Raymond Vogel Smashwords is in on it, with AEC books expected to be added (possibly already). So, we’ll see soon enough how/if it works from a company perspective.

Marci Balk-Ruggiero said, “I read so fast it would be awesome for me.”

David Thompson said, “The publishers make all the money. The authors get screwed – a small percentage of the fee. I’ve seen the stock photo/illustration industry go down this path. 10 years ago artists often made 50% of the money. Today it is way below that – 25% on good sites and pennies on the dollar for the biggest sites.”

Rusty’s Reading said, “Not for me. I like owning the books so they are at my fingertips any time I choose to re-visit their story, it’s an attachment thing for me. Let’s not forget sales are authors bread and butter!”

Joe Harwell said, “It’s another step back for the income stream of authors.”

So what do you think? Do you have different opinions as a reader and/or writer? 

I’d love to know. Share below!

~SAT

Publishing News: Anthology

19 Sep

Website Update: We hit 9,000 followers today! Thank you :D

Really fast:

Giveaway opportunity: ShannonAThompson.com is only 8 followers away from hitting 9,000, and I want to celebrate! Once we hit the mark, I’ll be hosting a giveaway, and, so far, I have 18 books, but I need as many authors to participate as possible. Please send me an email to ShannonAThompson@aol.com or message me on my FB Author Page for more details. Thank you for your support!

Even faster:

AEC Stellar is releasing an anthology, a collection of short stories from numerous authors, next month! I’ve added a page for it under novels, which you can look at by going to my tool bar or clicking hereBelow you’ll see the cover of this upcoming collection. I am REALLY excited for this publication, and I feel very lucky to be a part of this. It’s always an exciting moment to see another work of yours being shared with the world. My story, Sean’s Bullet, is a military-fiction piece I originally wrote in my Fiction Writing I class during my freshman year in college. Another reason I am excited for this short story stems from the genre. It isn’t a genre people have seen me write from before, so I can’t wait to hear what everyone has to say. I’ll announce when it’s released, so look out for it! In the meantime, check out what’s coming your way:

2013: A Stellar Collection~SAT 

Writing Tips: Sequel, Trilogy, Series, etc.

5 Sep

Since my last posting, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what writing tips I’m going to share next. I knew one thing: I wanted to expand on issues I’ve learned recently through rewriting and editing A Timely Death trilogy. Then I realized I wanted to talk about that in general: series.

I only need eight more likes on my Facebook Author Page to hit 600 likes. Can you help me out?

I only need eight more likes on my Facebook Author Page to hit 600 likes. Can you help me out?

Lots of writers want to explore what it is like to write a series, but they seem to run in to two problems: 

1. Where to start

2. Where to end

I think these are really important things to consider before writing a series. I know many authors start off with one book and then stretch it in to more, but I think, if you can, you should plan the series before you start writing book one, because it will prevent later confusion and contradictions if you know where you are going. I learned this through my experiences with A Timely Death and other series I’ve written. My experiences have been very different, and I want to share two of them, hoping that they show a possible path for other writers to consider:

First Path: A Timely Death

What happened: I didn’t know where I was starting or ending. In fact, I wrote Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2) before Minutes Before Sunset (book 1.) This happened, because I realized book 2 couldn’t stand by itself. The world needed to be created first, so I went back. As I was writing book 1, I came up with book 3. Obviously, this was very unorganized, and I had to do a lot of rewriting, not only with the scenes, but the characters. It look me a very long time to get to know my characters, since I got to know them out of order. It caused a lot of confusion, and that made it difficult to add the necessary things, like foreshadowing, symbolism, motifs, etc.

What I learned: I tried to take on too much too quickly. I was so excited to start the book that I didn’t even realize I was planning it entirely wrong. I was too focused on one thing to see all of the other loopholes I’d missed. After dealing with all of the issues I created myself, I realized I had to plan–but not only plan. I needed to breathe between planning and writing, take a break to make sure I was planning the correct path. I also learned to take more breaks: a break between planning and writing, a break between writing and editing, a break between writing book 1 and book 2 and book 3, a break when I finished, etc. Take breaks.

Original covers for A Timely Death trilogy: sizes represent order in which they were written

Original covers for A Timely Death trilogy: sizes represent order in which they were written

Second Path: (I can’t release the name, but I will call it by the primary colors: Red (book 1) Blue (book 2) and Yellow (book 3)

What happened: I planned Red, Blue, and Yellow before I started writing all of them. I drew out the world, charted the characters, played around with ideas, and just rolled around in my mind for months before I wrote down a single word. Even when I started writing Red, I contemplated more ideas and little scenes for Blue and Yellow. The entire time I was filled with excitement instead of confusion. I was never mentally “out of breath.” I went from Red to Blue to Yellow with ease, knowing I had all my time to add the symbolism, foreshadowing, and excitement that I wanted.

What I learned: Planning allowed me to have more time to enjoy the actual writing time. I was never worried about where I was going next–even if I was surprised by a sudden turn. This may seem like a contradiction, because I said to plan everything, but I must remind everyone of a little theory I live by: the characters are in charge, so my plans don’t always work out. That being said, I still insist on planning everything but keeping an open mind on how my plans go.

Basically: I’ve written numerous series, but the lesson that kept repeating itself to me was not to rush it. Even if I have a plan for one book that I know I want to expand, I stop myself from writing it until I know exactly where I’m expanding it too. (When I say “exactly” I mean a basic outline of events–not literally the entirety of the story, because, even if I planned that much, things always change in the moment of writing it.) My advice is simply to have a larger plan for the overall series and smaller plans within the books.

Think of writing a series like a road trip: You know where you’re starting, you probably know where it’s going to end, and you might have places you want to visit in between. But there might be some surprises along the way. Embrace them, and keep going. That’s where the fun is. 

~SAT

Guest Blog: The Scriptlings by Sorin Suciu

19 Jul

Website Update: The Shannon A. Thompson, author Facebook page has surpassed 500 likes! Thank you for making my trip that much better. I can’t wait to share it with everyone. 

Shannon again–for only a moment. I’m still out of town, but I wanted to introduce my next guest blogger and thank him for helping me by keeping my blog going. Sorin Suciu is the “author of the laugh-out-loud contemporary fantasy The Scriptlings, due to be conjured into reality in 2013.” Here’s a line from the description of his upcoming novel that I found completely enticing: “Caught on opposite sides of a battle for Magic, Merkin and Buggeroff are forced to question themselves and what is best for a world that is blissfully unaware of imminent danger.”

He’ll be talking about this upcoming work, starting now:

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You see, to me advertising is a read-only art form – I am reasonably good at appreciating it when I see it, but I am hopelessly unimaginative when it comes to performing it. That is why, when Shannon so generously offered to host a little sales pitch for my upcoming debut novel – The Scriptlings, I had to hesitate for a moment, before even remembering to thank her for the opportunity. I shall, nevertheless, endeavour to write about The Scriptlings without repeating too much of the content already available on my author page at AEC Stellar and on Facebook/The Scriptlings.1017096_146121828917299_924106237_n

The Scriptlings is a tongue-in-cheek contemporary fantasy, aimed at geeks and mortals alike. It is the unlikely, yet strangely charismatic lovechild you would expect if Magic and Science were to have one too many drinks during a stand-up comedy show in Vegas. I had an insanely amount of good time writing it, and I’ve been told by rather serious people that reading it can be conducive to LOL and OMG.

There you go. If you are looking for a fast-paced story played by a cast of endearing characters and a goat, or if you are a fan of Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Christopher Moore, Robert Asprin and others like them, then there is a not entirely remote chance you might enjoy The Scriptlings.

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Thank you,
Sorin

Guest Blog: Matter of Resistance – Six Years In The Making

17 Jul

Hey, everyone. For this brief moment, I am Shannon. The rest of this post has been written by the fantastic author, Raymond Vogel. You see, I’m out of town again due to a death in the family, but I’ll be back on Tuesday, and Ray has graciously agreed to help me keep my blog going while I’m gone. That being said, if you’ve sent me an email or message or any kind, I will reply when I return :]

One last thing: I’ve added my book signing event to both Facebook and GoodreadsClick the links to join either one. I hope I get to meet some of you again! It’ll be a lot of fun–a BBQ, music, authors, and other artists to mingle with.

I can’t wait! But I have to get back to my travels–so without further ado:

Matter of Resistance is being re-released next month, at last a product I can say I’m proud to have authored. It’s literally been “in work” for six years now, so it’s also a great relief to call it complete. Here, briefly, are the forces of fate that collapsed on top of me to make it possible. Special thanks to Shannon Thompson, a wonderful writer in her own right, for allowing me her page to share them with you.
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For almost three years, starting in 2007, I worked as a Systems Engineer on the NASA Orion Program. As a dreamer and philosopher, I couldn’t help but work out the future details about actually landing on Mars and colonizing it as we humans finally begin our disbursement out into the universe. With a strong background in material science, and three previous years holed up in a lab working with advanced materials, I also suspected there had to be another reason for us to go.
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With these two things in mind, I invented Mangematter – a material that doesn’t exist on Earth but that I theorized could hold some unique properties. And it’s not as far fetched as you might think (see articles like this one on the uses of magnetic pinning). Incidentally, Magnematter was the working title of the book for quite a long time.
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Also occurring at that time, as you may remember, was a war in Iraq. A war many conspiratorially believed (reference) was really being fought for a healthy supply of oil – a material we’re consuming rather quickly (See sites like oilddecline.com). A war waged over a critical material, plus the idea of Magnematter, gave me the epic-sized conflict I was looking for.
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With a relevant and scientifically feasible setting and a conflict in hand, it was the simple matter of creating the characters and plotline to fill in the details.
Methodology:
Having made several failed attempts to write novels before, I waited to write anything until I had first turned to the magical land where all answers appear in seconds: the internet. In one swift google search, I landed on the Snowflake Method. If you’re a writer, and you haven’t heard of this method, consider looking at it very seriously. As a logic based life form (aka engineer), it jumped out at me as the only way to write. It employs software development processing to writing – an unlikely combination if ever there was one – and it works.
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I followed the Snowflake Method diligently, making the one sentence version of my book, then the paragraph, and so on. I’ve been told, even on the original version, that the result was a “perfect plotline” – coherently linked from beginning to end. And I’ve been recommending the process ever since. In case you’re curious, the one-sentence synopsis I created for Matter of Resistance was:
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An evolved and brilliant youth must save Earth from devastation at the hands of his fellow Martian colonists.” – Aug 6, 2007
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Of course, the details changed CONSIDERABLY since the writing of that sentence, but it gave me the foundation I needed to write my novel. Using the Snowflake Method, it only took me about 6 months to finish the first draft of Matter of Resistance (Magnematter, at the time). I then spent the the next few years polishing my manuscript to get the grammar errors out, began the slow process of looking for a publisher, got bored waiting for rejection letters, and then put it up on Amazon in about 3 hours in October of 2011.
Significant Change:DSC_0256_(412x640)
Although my book was doing well and receiving good reviews, there was a universal comment from my most honest friends that was bothering me. No one was finishing the book. It simply took too much brain power to get through, and most people read that kind of book to escape rather than to learn. Of those that finished, all enjoyed it, but they were too few in number for my ego.
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Myself being rather talkative, I talked often about my book, to any that would listen. The results was a run-in with paranormal thriller and speculative Christian fiction author Marc Schooley. I was beginning to work on a new book, which will remain nameless for now, and he gave me a lot of advice on it that dramatically changed how I saw writing. This included referring me to the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King, a book I also often recommend to others (amazon link). After talking with Marc a few times and studying the book, I took another look at Matter of Resistance. And, boy, was I disappointed!
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So, I sat down in the summer of 2012 and wrote it again, from the beginning, keeping the story in tact but changing almost every word.
Updating for re-release:
After Matter of Resistance had been rewritten to take advantage of my new and improved writing ability, I followed a much smarter method of editing – I hired a professional, Heather Hebert to do it. I also hired a professional artist, Viola Estrella, to create a suitable cover. And, finally, after a series of beta readers, rounds of editing, and iterations, I finalized the manuscript this summer (2013).
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And I can’t wait for you all to read it.
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Raymond Vogel
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