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#MondayBlogs: Inner Dragons

26 Jan

Intro:

Mondays are easily becoming one of my favorite days of the week – all because of the guest bloggers right here during #MondayBlogs! Today’s post is brought to you by one of my top commenters last year – Deby Fredericks – and she is writing about writers and their inner demons…or dragons. Check out her website and her books!

Inner Dragons

We writers often do battle against doubts, fears, writing blocks, etc. Call them inner dragons. If we aren’t careful, we can sabotage ourselves with negative self-talk.

One common inner dragon is the fiendish beast Comparison, which makes us treat writing like a competitive sport. Say you struggled for an hour to finish a single page, 250 measly words. Then on Facebook an author friend brags about their wonderful 2,500-word day. It’s too easy to compare word counts and decide you’re a slacker because you didn’t get as much done.

Or when your publisher is a small press and only pays royalties, you might hear publicity of another author’s six-figure deal. That can make you feel like a failure because your deal isn’t as rich.

Comparison depends on a backward definition of success. It wants you to focus on the end of the process while you’re still at the beginning. Every page you write is a battle. Life is so hectic, anything you complete is a victory. A single page, a stanza of a poem, a chapter of a novel — they all build to something larger.

One of my favorite writing quotes is from the late SF author, Jay Lake. “If you write one page every day, you will have completed a novel in a year.” Believe this, and go slay that dragon!

Air&FireAnother inner dragon we writers often battle is the dire monster, Futility. This dragon wants us to become obsessed with things we can’t control. This might mean editorial rejections, sales figures, negative reviews, or the length of time it takes an agent to answer your query.

Even worse, writers sometimes make New Year Resolutions based on things we can’t control. “Sell five short stories this year” is a perfect example. All of these are things we can’t control, but I have several friends who consistently work themselves into a tizzy, swear to quit writing, then apologize to everyone who got worried about them.

Let’s just be logical. We have no way of knowing, when we query or submit a story, how many other queries and submissions will arrive on the same day. We don’t know what else is going on in the editor’s or agent’s life. We have no way to know what past experiences readers bring that affect how our work appears to them.

A more productive approach is to focus on things that we can control. We can’t make purchasing decisions — but we can set a goal to write five stories and submit them. We can’t make readers buy our books — but if we self-publish, we can choose enticing covers and work our social networks to increase sales. We can’t make agents represent us — but we can gather data and present it in a way the agent may look upon favorably. To attract friendly reviews, we might give a few reviews ourselves.

To quote that one song, we just have to “let it go” on things that aren’t ours to decide, and do the rest just as well as we can.

Do you ever tell people about your writing? I hope so. You’ll have a hard time building an audience if you don’t. Even more important, do you tell people about your work in a way that slights or insults yourself? “Oh, it’s just a hobby of mine.” “I’m not very good at it.” “It’s a little poem/song/story I write. Really bad, isn’t it?”

If any of these phrases sound familiar, you’re a victim of the evil dragon Self-Minimization.

I often hear writers minimize themselves. Sometimes men, but more often women. Our culture has this thing where we teach men to stand up and speak for themselves while women are taught to sit down and be quiet. But, as writers, we simply can’t afford to sit quietly.

Naturally, everyone has moments of doubt. The competition is intense and rejection hurts. Minimizing ourselves can be a way to deflect pain. It can also be a chain that holds us back. If your spouse said to you, “Why are you wasting your time with this?” you’d be pretty upset. You’d defend yourself. But when it’s your own voice saying, “You’ll never sell anything,” self-defense is that much harder.

Deby Fredericks

Deby Fredericks

It’s because the competition is so intense that we must slay this dragon. No one ever sold a story without submitting it first. Self-Minimizing can be as much a habit as a reaction to stress. Begin to train your brain for the battle. “Yes, I’ve been writing for ten years.” “I’m getting pretty good at this.” “It’s a poem/song/story I wrote. Isn’t it great?”

Funny thing is, most people will take you at your word. If you say you’re a poet or author, they’ll believe you. Once you fight off that self-minimizing dragon, you’ll see how high you can fly!

Bio: Deby Fredericks is a small press author of fantasy and children’s novels. The latest is a book for middle-grades, Masters of Air & Fire, due in February 2015. Her blog, Wyrmflight, is all about dragons, and her home on the web is http://www.debyfredericks.com.

Want to be a guest blogger? Wonderful! I am accepting guest posts that focus on reading and writing. You are allowed a book link in the post as well as in your bio. A picture and a bio are encouraged. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

~SAT

Website Wonders

29 Dec

 Website Wonders:

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of December’s Website Wonders categorized as so: Reading, Publishing, Around the World, and Learning. If you enjoy these websites, be sure to like my Facebook page because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Enjoy!

Reading:

Stupid Plot Tricks: The funniest thing I’ve read all week.

10 Book Series So Addictive, You Never Want Them to End: Read forever. Or tell yourself you’ll be reading forever.

Non-fiction Books Everyone Should Read: I’m a HUGE fan of non-fiction, especially memoirs.

8 Books that will have a Profound Impact on your Life: impactful.

10710630_897096090301990_4910407088402865734_nPublishing: 

How to Keep Your Paperback Books in Good Condition: I’m a hardback person myself, but this is awesome!

The Art of Making a Book: A really neat video via Facebook

Around the World:

A Majestic Cathedral Made of Living, Breathing Trees: The title explains it, but it’s so much more than that.

21 Photos of Nature Winning the Battle Against Civilization: I’d be okay with nature kicking my ass.

This is what happens when an artist lives in a cave for 25 years

Learning: 

Encourage an Artist: Probably my favorite comic I’ve read in a long time.

You Can Easily Learn 100 TED Talks in Five Minutes: It’s a fantastic list to find TED Talks as well as summaries for the ones you might not have time for.

Is Tsu a Scam? 6 Things to Consider: Honestly, I’m not joining Tsu for these reasons as well as many others after I researched it.

~SAT

P.S. WE HIT 19,000 FOLLOWERS! Thank you for joining this wonderful group of readers and writers. I am grateful. You might have seen this live photo on my Facebook page, but Bogart fainted from the excitement.

bo19

#SATurday: Scrabble without Friends

27 Dec

#SATurday: Scrabble without Friends

Writing has both benefited me and disrupted me. It has allowed me to live in the moment – to pay attention to every detail, to feel every breath, to notarize every scene – and it is because of this phenomenon* that I often stretch living in the moment by crumbling it into observing the moment. Like a journalist standing at a scene of a crime, I am note-taking while waiting for the opportune time to shine, but it often never comes.

I still wonder if it will.

Perhaps my lack of connection is a purposely-practiced motion – something I prefer. I believe psychologists claim, “Introvert!” when hearing such a thing, but I’m not one for labels. I find life much too complicated in density to sustain a label, even the complex ones, even the simple ones.

As I write this, I – ironically (and undeniably inaccurately) – have labeled this room my office. Perhaps it was designed to be an office. There’s a desk, a computer, a round meeting table, not one but two bookcases, and a plush couch that seems to have never been sat on. I’m not even sure if this place has been dusted. The lights are dim so it’s impossible to say, but since it’s supposedly an area for the community, I’m assuming it has been taken care of. I probably even have a camera on me, but I don’t care enough to check. I might come Tuesday. (Big Brother can wait.)

In all honesty, I have ended up in this plum-painted room by default. Someone else is in the 4×4 gym I use to prevent condensing into complete insanity, and I didn’t want to leave the building out of the sheer guilt I created by thinking he would believe I was avoiding the place because of his existence – which I am (sort of).

I don’t mind people. I generally enjoy company. But I come to this place for silence – and by “silence” I mean music blaring against my eardrums as I use the elliptical for two hours (or until I am contemplating whether or not I’m actually breathing anymore). But – apparently – this new neighbor of mine has the same idea. Little does he know that his exercise is on my blog now. But in this little world, I half-expect I might be on his. In fact, while peeking into the gym’s glass door, I saw he, too, is on his laptop. Even though he got back on the elliptical before I could finish writing that sentence, I’m sure he was note-taking. I should know. I can recognize these things in others. I’m insane, too. Sure, insane might be a strong word, but I’m a writer. Exaggeration is in my bones. And only insane people are up at the witching hour, jogging to the new Boys II Men album. Only people like us could be found in this dinky room wondering why I cannot overcome my social anxiety to go run next to a stranger who couldn’t care less. Only I refer to total strangers as “us.” Living on the road does that to a person. And that is why I sit in a room by myself, staring at the bookshelf until I see “Scrabble” on top of a pile of unwanted books. The conclusion comes faster to me than all of the other ones before it.

Yes. I can play alone.

It might even be fun.

~SAT on #SATurday

*Not in reference to the John Travolta movie. Maybe. I haven’t decided yet.

scrabble

P.S. I’ve updated my Services and my Donations page – please check them out and share them if you can. 

P.S.S. ARCS of Death Before Daylight are now available, but I will only have a PDF file. Please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com if you want one. 

aecarcs

Surprise! Shannon’s Return to Blogging

17 Dec

Surprise! Shannon’s Return to Blogging

Shannon is back. After 32 days, I can no longer stay away. Idling is not my thing. But I collected my thoughts and worries and concerns, and I found a new road I want to take on ShannonAThompson.com.

Wait? There are changes?

Yes. There will be changes, but I sincerely hope (and believe) you all will enjoy them. And if you don’t enjoy them, I am a good listener, and I will find yet another path to take. That being said, for the first time in my two years of blogging here, ShannonAThompson.com is getting a new schedule, and below you can read all about it, starting with today:

Wednesdays: Also known as #WW – Writer Wednesday.

This will be the most familiar of days. I will publish a post that focuses on either writing or reading. This includes writing tips, publishing advice, and more. Basically, all the posts I’ve written in the past could be eligible material for this day.

Saturdays: #SATurday – Shannon Day!

Yes, I made that hashtag up with my initials in it. I know. I know. I’m creative. And a bit egotistical. This is the biggest change you will see, but I hope you’ll enjoy it because I contemplated this for a very long time. You see, after blogging about writing and reading for two years, I felt like I removed a lot of my personality from this website. Because of that, I’m creating an opportunity to share my daily stories and life with you. On Saturdays, I will post about anything – literally whatever is affecting my life – in the hopes of connecting with everyone on a more personal level. I’m also hoping you will share your thoughts so I can get to know you better. (And if you really only want to talk about writing, don’t worry! Writing and reading is such a huge part of my life, there is a big chance that most of these posts will also include ideas about writing.) So, keep your eyes out for #SATurday, and please use the hashtag!

While away, I started recording an audio book.

While away, I started recording an audio book.

Mondays: Also known as #MondayBlogs

Have you ever wanted to Guest Post here? Well, you’re in luck. Mondays are all about you. Every Monday will be open to you for blogging on my website. However, I am holding everyone up to the same standards as my guest bloggers in the past: focus on writing or reading with absolutely no blatant advertisements (a.k.a. “BUY MY BOOK”) You are allowed a bio, a picture, and book link in the ending description. A picture for the blog post is also needed. If you are interested in submitting, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. If you would like to look at previous examples, check out When the Protagonist Dies, Authors Don’t Read, Spreading the Love or go to the righthand side of my page, click on Categories, and then, click on Guest Blogger.

I will also continue Website Wonders and Ketchup posts every month. I hope you look forward to these changes! I’m keeping my fingers crossed. So – again – feel free to email shannonathompson@aol.com if you’re interested in guest posting. I’m also taking interview requests again! So, I’m logging into my email right now. Looking forward to seeing you there!

And – again – thank you so much for understanding my break. Your support lightened my worries and calmed my troubled heart. (Oh, the relaxing sigh of breath you gave me during all of my dramatics.)

It’s good to be back.

~SAT

P.S. The last installment of The Timely Death Trilogy, Death Before Daylight, is now on Goodreads. Click below! Add it to your bookshelf for an ARC! (Or email me at shannonathompson@aol.com) AEC Stellar Publishing announced the release date as January 29, 2015.

dbdgr

October Ketchup

30 Oct

October’s Ketchup

October’s Ketchup has arrived! For those of you just now checking in this month, Ketchup actually means “catch up.” At the end of every month, I write these posts describing what goes on behind the scenes at ShannonAThompson.com. Some of the topics I cover include my big moments, top blog post, guest posts, my top referrer, SEO term, and more in order to show insights that will hopefully help fellow bloggers see what was popular. I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

Thank you for being a part of my life this October!

Big Moments:

#1 Clicked Item was Take Me Tomorrow on Amazon

#1 Clicked Item was Take Me Tomorrow on Amazon

At the very beginning of this month, I had my first book signing in seven years! I was able to meet a lot of readers – both old and new – and we even shared muffins and tea while discussing books. It was a lot of fun! So quick shout out to Ice Fire Hookah Lounge for hosting the event.

Two amazing celebrities from South Africa quoted Seconds Before Sunrise this month. The first thank you goes out to DJ Fresh – one of the most influential muso’s in the South African music industry – and the next thank you goes out to The Big Break Legacy – a reality T.V. Show.

In other news, two of my poems were accepted for publication in a literary journal, but that’s all I can say for now! November will bring more information about that.

Top Three Blog Posts:

1. Why Most of my Characters are Male: I wrote this after a Take Me Tomorrow book review was posted, mentioning the controversy that’s been talked about surrounding my latest novel. That controversy was having more males than females, and I finally addressed why this is with the book reviewer’s permission.

2. A Day in my Life as an Author and Publisher: I’ve been meaning to post this for almost a year! You can see into my daily life by reading this schedule of mine I live by during my publishing work week and my author life.

3. The Five Emotional Stages of a Book Signing: I had my first book signing in seven years, and I recorded every moment of emotional stress as well as happiness.

Guest Posts:

My name was #1 again :D Thank you!

My name was #1 again :D Thank you!

The Unconventional Working Habits of Brilliant Writers: Ninja Essays came to the rescue when I needed a day off, and they sent me a wonderful infograph along with a small section of text about authors and their strange habits. Who knows? Maybe you have something in common with Fitzgerald.

When the Protagonist Dies: Cogpunk Steamscribe wrote a beautiful discussion out in reflection of my post about parents dying in fiction. Her post, however, covers the fiction pieces in which the protagonist dies and how both writers and readers can react to this happening.

Other Blog Posts Organized By Topic:

Writing

Entertainment:

At the end of the month, I also like to take a moment to thank all of the websites who supported me by posting reviews, interviews, and features. If you would like to review my novels or interview me, please send me an email at shannonathompson@aol.com. I always love speaking with new bloggers, writers, and readers! And I will share your post on all of my websites.

Reviewers:

(Take Me Tomorrow) People Like Books, ATROX, Reading in Wonderland, SDAV Reads, Note to Selph Book Reviews, Miss Heliotrope Reads, Southern Bred, Southern Read, The Book Spa, The Incorrigible Reader, Zoe Mortez, Krazy Reads, Rebekka B. Dan Thompson, Confessions of a Book Blogger

(Seconds Before Sunrise) The Incorrigible Reader, Red Sands Reviewz,

(Minutes Before Sunset) SDAV Reads, Real Rad Reads, The Incorrigible Reader

Interviews: Whispers in the Dark radio, Read to Write Stories, Life of a Young Adult Writer, People Like Books, Lit World Interviews,

Features: Ice Fire Hookah Lounge, Arvee Frenchie, Read to Write Stories,

Awarders: Deborah Wong

Original picture by Hulk Share

Original picture by Hulk Share

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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