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July’s Ketchup

30 Jul

Announcements:

I Am a Reader is giving away three eBooks of Minutes Before Sunset, but they’ve also posted an interview I did with them. Join the raffle and the fun by clicking here.

If you want more news about Take Me Tomorrow, The Starving Bibliophile posted her review, stating, “Sophia is a goddamn hero” among various excerpts and lists. Read her entire review by clicking here.

July’s Ketchup

July’s Ketchup is here! For those of you just now checking in this month, I write “Ketchup” posts at the end of every month, describing my big moments, top blog post, the post I wish received more views, my top referrer, and more in order to show what goes on behind the scenes here at ShannonAThompson.com. Because I received an email about this, I have added one new item to these stats – number one clicked item. For those of you who do not have a WordPress, this is a stat they offer on our Dashboards. This is a fantastic suggestion because I think it will show readers where my website sends my readers when they leave here, so I hope you enjoy this addition.

Big Moments:

takemetomorrow

#1 Clicked Item – Link to TMT on Amazon

Take Me Tomorrow released as an eBook. The paperback is coming (I promise.) And I am so happy to finally have this novel in readers’ hands. A few days ago, Take Me Tomorrow was even in the top 100 in dystopian novels, so that was really neat! I am truly looking forward to seeing how more readers react to the topics in Take Me Tomorrow because – in all honesty – this novel is going to affect major decisions for my upcoming novels, like if there is a sequel or not. So I hope you continue checking out my latest novel and telling me what you think.

You can check it out here: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords

New York Times and USA Today’s Bestselling author, M.A. Comley, quoted Seconds Before Sunrise. 

mel

And in the end, we hit 17,000 followers this month! Thank you for making these moments big, but – most of all – thank you for growing with me.

Top Three Blog Posts:

1. Why I Write About Drugs, Immigration, and Addiction: Take Me Tomorrow was written with great care. Considering there are very serious subjects in it – drug use, immigration, addiction, etc. – I took my time to research throughly, even changing the novel in a direction I never saw coming, including directions I was originally against because these topics are very personal to my life, and this post explains all of that.

2. Different Social Medias and How I Use Them as an Author: Social media is a crazy, confusing road, but it doesn’t have to be.

3. You’re Spell Check is All Ways Write: From my YouTube channel – Coffee & Cats – this video explains why writers should not rely only on technology.

game3The Post I Wish Got More Views:

Finding Time to Write in College: In all honestly, I have no idea how many views this got since I was a guest blogger on Pau’s Castles, but I wanted to make sure that everyone had a chance to see it and Pau’s fantastic website. I talk about how I managed my time in college so I could write novels, including Take Me Tomorrow.

Guest Post:

Spreading the Love: Written by Mishka Jenkins, this romance-focused post explains why some authors enjoy writing about love and why it is so important for us to continue to write love stories.

Other Blog Posts Organized By Topic:

Reading:

My #1 referrer was Twitter

My #1 referrer was Twitter

Publishing:

Author Life:

For Fun:

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: Live. Laugh. Read, Chris Pavesic, Things Matter, Ray’s Works, Inkwell & Paper, Diary of an Eager Reader, Elaine Jeremiah, The Starving Bibliophile.

Seconds Before Sunrise: Hines and Bigham’s Literary Tryst

Minutes Before Sunset: My Library in the MakingLive. Laugh. Read.

Interviews: I Am a Reader, Diary of an Eager Reader, Camisado Mind, The Authors Show, Lit Chic, Marcha’s Two Cents Worth, HeiBooks, The Starving Bibliophile, Indie Romance Convention

Awarders: Very Inspiring Blogger Award (The Troubled Oyster), Very Inspiring Blogger Award (Honya’s Bookshelf), Very Inspiring Blogger Award (A World of Words)

Giveaways: The Nerdy Girlie, Platypire Reviews, Fantasy is More Fun, I Am a Reader, Books to curl up with blog

Photo from Favim.com - reminded me of a scene from the TMT sequel. ::wink wink::

Photo from Favim.com – reminded me of a scene from the TMT sequel. ::wink wink::

Fiction Complaints I’m Complaining About

26 Jul

Announcements:

We had a very exciting day yesterday! Take Me Tomorrow hit the top 100 in dystopian novels! It was even next to two of my favorite novels, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, and Fracture Me by Tahereh Mafi so my little heart was filled with overwhelming joy.

65 in dystopian!

65 in dystopian!

Thank you for your support! Whether or not the sequel is released is entirely up to you, the readers and fans, so I hope you continue to check out my latest novel. (Because I really want to release the sequel!) Be sure to let me know if you post a review on your blog, so I can share it with everyone. Just email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

To celebrate, I finally uploaded the soundtrack of Take Me Tomorrow to my favorite music station, 8tracks, so you can check it out by clicking here.

In other news, I was interviewed by Diary of an Eager Reader, and you can read it by clicking here. We talk about my biggest challenges as a writer, but we also discussed Take Me Tomorrow if you want to read more about it! And if you want to interview me, again, I’m available at shannonathompson@aol.com. I love speaking with you! So please don’t hesitate to message me.

Fiction Complaints I’m Complaining About

We’ve all dealt with this. You’re interested in a novel, and you tiptoe over to Amazon to check it out. Once you read the synopsis, you scroll a little further (hesitantly, of course) to see what other readers are saying. That’s when you read “Best Book Ever!” and “I hate this piece of crap” right next to one another. Confusing? Yes. But even worse are the ones that don’t explain.

Today, I wanted to talk about my top fiction complaints that have left me staring at my screen a little too hard. I only hesitated to write about this because I’m an author, too, and I don’t want any reviewer to think I’m complaining about them. In fact – this might seem strange – but I don’t mind these complaints as an author. If I saw any of these on my books, it doesn’t bother me. After all, readers are allowed to say whatever they want. But it does bother me as a reader when I’m looking for book suggestions because the reviews suddenly become very difficult to sift through. That being said, I normally don’t buy books based on reviews. Generally, I read the synopsis, take a look at the first three chapters, and go from there, but I do find myself reading the reviews after I’m done reading, and these are the top complaints I see that I truly don’t understand:

I hate this genre

So…why did you pick it up? No. Seriously. I want to know. Did you think this would be an exception? Why did you think it would be an exception? Why did it not turn out to be an exception? I don’t necessarily mind this complaint if they answer these questions, but I hardly ever see that. I just see one or two stars and this single statement. This doesn’t help me decide if this book is good or bad or in-between or anything. It just tells me about your preference, which can get really confusing since genres can describe a wide range of stories. In fact, genres are normally only picked for marketing reasons.

I bought this book for are friends, and there not happy with it, so don’t waist you’re money.

Sigh. Seriously. ::facepalm:: This kind of review blows my mind – especially if they complain that the book wasn’t professionally edited.

Parent/s and/or sibling/s are dead (or absent)

Warning: longest rant to come:

I realize that there is an abundance of these instances, but of course there are. Someone is going to be dead or absent or mean or have some kind of conflicting problem. If a character’s family were perfect, how annoying would that be? (Not to mention that it would be entirely unrealistic.) I don’t know about you guys, but every person I’ve met isn’t perfect, including parents, and “imperfections” is generally why someone is interesting because it’s make them…you know…human.

When it comes to the young adult genre, I think it’s also important to remember that teen readers are in a time in their life where they are striving to be independent, so they probably don’t want to read a novel full of parental influence. Not that parental influence is a bad thing, but a teen might even look at a perfectly good parent as a bad parent just because they are teens. I know I was that way at one point, so if the book is told from their perspective that could be another reason this trend happens.

But I want to add this to the conversation: As a kid who went through the loss of a parent, gaining a stepfamily, and watching my dad get a divorce from said stepfamily, I am not special. I met dozens of teens that were also going through many of the same shifts I was going through. The divorce rate is currently 50%, and 1/7 people will lose a parent or a sibling before the age of 20, not to mention other issues families can have. But you still feel rather alone when you’re young, and seeing teens in books going through the same kind of struggles helps. That being said, I would like to see more books with both parents actively involved, but I wouldn’t complain about a book where a parent or sibling is absent whether it is physical or emotional because it happens often in real life.

Factually wrong information in general

We’ve all seen it. That one review that says something like, “This book is told in third person, and it’s really weird.” But when you open the sample novel up, it’s told in first person, and you’re sitting there, scratching your head as you seriously consider whether you forgot the definition of first and third person until you realize – nope, you’re not crazy. The reviewer put the review on the wrong book. Or – worse – they didn’t read the book at all.

There are too many boys/girls in the book

Why does their gender matter? As long as the characters are round – complicated and they are there for a reason – I could care less if they are boys or girls. I understand this complaint if it follows up with “every girl was falling in love with him for no reason” but I have seen someone mention exact numbers like, “there were 10 boys and 4 girls” without elaborating on WHY this was annoying…especially when the book takes place in an all-boys school or in some other instance where the extreme numbers make sense. Without mentioning a specific book, I did read a book about a boy character who had a lot of friends that were girls in which someone complained about it, but I didn’t understand, because the boy was raised by his mother and sister, so he was more comfortable around girls, and it made sense. I can relate to this. As a girl raised by my father and brother, I mainly had guy friends growing up. That doesn’t mean every single one of them felt romantic toward me. In fact, I was as attractive to them as a lamp would be – meaning, not at all – but I don’t see anything wrong with a boy having girls around him or a girl having guys around them as long as it makes sense to the story and isn’t an excuse to have an empty array of love interests.

(Insert controversial political or religious topic here)

Keep your politics out of fiction reviews unless the book is specifically about discussing them. I’m looking at you, anti-reviewers of erotica. (At least, this is where I see it the most.) I have nothing wrong with someone having specific beliefs about when a man or a woman or anyone has sex with someone, but don’t shove it down others’ throats by filling up erotica book reviews with “I only read romance novels when they’re married like you should be” when you haven’t read a single page of their book. It doesn’t help potential buyers, and it will probably only hurt your review ranking, especially if you’re – in fact – wrong because I have seen this on a book where the characters were married, but (I’m assuming) the reviewer was mass reviewing erotica novels because it was against their personal beliefs. Amazon should not be your political or religious platform UNLESS the book is slated toward that discussion. Then again – on the contrary – I see nothing wrong with someone reading and reviewing a novel and stating something along the lines like “this book will not appeal to readers who are uncomfortable with premarital sex.” Just don’t go mass searching for these novels just to put them down.

And finally –

Complaining about another’s complaint

Haha. Yes, I just did it to myself. I’m just as guilty as everyone else. I am here, talking about the types I hate, but here’s the truth – readers are allowed to review a book for whatever reason they want to review it as. There is no rule that states your review has to be detailed or helpful to someone else, but I do believe Amazon asks reviewers to be helpful (and definitely not spiteful.) But I am amazed sometimes by the amount of drama I’ve seen unfold on someone’s review by other reviewers. If you think it’s spiteful, please report it to Amazon or Goodreads, but yelling at one another is getting us nowhere. We all have different opinions. I’m sure I’ve written a 5-star review on a novel that another reader thought was so bad it was insane. For all I know, someone is writing on their blog right now and using my review as an example as what not to do. But that’s okay because we’re all allowed our own opinions. That’s the beauty of it all! Just try to back up your opinion with sincere criticism and encouragement.

So those are my top types of reviews that I cannot stand as a reader. What can I say? I meant to do five, but I kept typing. Have you ever seen a review complaint that you couldn’t believe? As a reader, do they ever sway you one way or another?

Feel free to share below!

~SAT

Finding Time to Write in College [Guest Post]

23 Jul

Shannon A Thompson:

I wrote about how I found time to write while I was attending the University of Kansas. Check it out on Pau’s Castles.
~SAT

Originally posted on Pau's Castles:

Hello, everyone!

I haven’t been posting lately because school’s been eating most of my time. With this school year being my last one and all, things are at their toughest and time is at its shortest. I barely have enough time for leisurely things, or things that I find relaxing and enjoyable. Because of this, I remembered an author and a friend I met last year, who I admired so much primarily because she’s in college and her works are continuously being published. To be honest, I never thought it’d be possible! So I asked her to share her experiences, tips, and words of wisdom about this topic.

Without further ado, here’s Shannon A. Thompson!

View original 1,114 more words

My Mental Vacation

22 Jul

10522436_2406507240749_6078480465461130367_nSo…my mental health day turned into a vacation overnight. I hit the road! I am one of those people that can’t sit still for too long, so I’m celebrating life by traveling around. And I’ll be sure to share my adventure in the near future, but – as of now – I am living this adventure, and I’m expanding that little thing known as inspiration. But I will be back to blogging on Thursday, so you can expect a real post then. I promise.

Thank you for understanding this spontaneous life,

~SAT

Why I Write About Immigration, Drugs, and Addiction

18 Jul

Announcements: 

Take Me Tomorrow released as an eBook, and I’ve already received two reviews from wonderful readers that I want to take a moment to thank today. If you post a review, please let me know at shannonathompson@aol.com, and I will be more than happy to share it right here on ShannonAThompson.com.

Chris Pavesic writes, “The story itself is fascinating. Thompson unravels the mystery slowly for her readers; I read it in one sitting.” But you can read the full review by clicking here. I’ll also be referencing a part of this review in today’s post.

Live. Laugh. Read. reviewed all of the characters individually (so beware of spoilers) but she wrote, “All in all, a great story with awesome characters who had each other’s backs in a unique dystopian world. I highly recommend Take Me Tomorrow to those seeking an interesting read with characters that you can love and a plot line that twists and turns.” Read the full review by clicking here.

But don’t worry! I also have news for fans of The Timely Death Trilogy. Camisado Mind interviewed me, and I discuss the latest developments of Death Before Daylight, book 3, which is slated for release at the end of the year. (Can you believe it?) The trilogy is coming to an end, but a new book is just beginning.

Thank you for reading!

Why I Write About Immigration, Drugs, and Addiction

Disclaimer: Just a fair warning – this post is controversial, but I will delete any comment that I consider to be bullying or purposely attacking certain people, specifically in regards to drug abuse and addiction. I encourage everyone to share their opinions, but please be respectful of others. That is my only rule.

As you can tell from my announcements, this week has been insanely rad. Take Me Tomorrow is officially available on Amazon and Smashwords as an eBook for $3.89, and the paperback will release soon – It’ll also be available at Barnes & Noble and other locations soon. But today, I wanted to discuss the content of my novel and mix it with comments from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and reviews. Before I go any further, I am going to be talking about controversial topics that I understand many won’t agree with. I am not attempting to have anyone agree with me nor change their views. I am only writing this piece to explain why I decided to write Take Me Tomorrow and why it is important to me as an individual in society. I have provided further links for more information, including my personal life, that reflects much of the research that went into creating my recent novel.

Take Me Tomorrow is a young-adult, dystopian novel set in a world where the existence of a clairvoyant drug has caused a massacre. In case you want the full synopsis, here is the link to Amazon.

So why drugs?

Understanding drug use is very important to me, although I will take this moment to clarify that I am not encouraging drug use in anyway. However, I think it’s very important to understand various aspects of drug use, including addiction, abuse, trafficking, and basic creation. Why do I think this important? Why did I include various topics about drugs in Take Me Tomorrow?

“About 570,000 people die annually due to drug use. That breaks down to about 440,000 from disease related to tobacco, 85,000 due to alcohol, 20,000 due to illicit (illegal) drugs, and 20,000 due to prescription drug abuse.” – National Institute on Drug Abuse

Photo from Colorado Mobile Drug Testing

Photo from Colorado Mobile Drug Testing

My mother is among those who have died from prescription drug abuse. She was college educated, worked at a law firm, lived in the suburbs, and she was 44 years old when she died in her sleep very suddenly. There was no warning, and – in fact – according to her autopsy report, she had not taken a ‘lethal amount.’ The amount that ended her short life was prescribed to her. That being said, she did abuse her prescriptions in the past, and I was very angry for a very long time. I had all of the stereotypical thoughts people who lose loved one to drug abuse have:

How could she choose her addiction over her family? Why didn’t she get more help? (Because she did get years of professional help) It’s her fault she’s an addict. She was weak. She loved her drugs more than us.

And a few years later, I got old enough to research and understand more about addiction and drugs, both legal and illegal. To be honest, I don’t see much of a difference between legal and illegal now. If you didn’t notice from my previous statistic, the same amount of people die from legal and illegal drug abuse a year, unless you include alcohol and tobacco into the legal statistic; then, more people die from legal drugs than from illegal drugs per year. (I told you this would be controversial.) Going beyond that, many illegal drugs were once legal, and many legal drugs today will become illegal in the future. In fact, did you know that cocaine and heroin were given out to children between 1890 and 1910? (Here’s a short article.) And that isn’t just the beginning of how drugs have affected our society. One of my favorite shows – America’s Secret Slang – has an ENTIRE episode dedicated to phrases we use that derive just from drug use, including “pipe dream” and “up to snuff.” They talk about both legal and illegal drugs, even mentioning how heroin was purposely named heroin to get buyers to believe they could be a “heroine” if they took this drug.

I don’t want to spoil my newly released novel, but Take Me Tomorrow discusses this as well as addiction.

My mother and I on Christmas, 1999

My mother and I on Christmas, 1999

My mother was an addict. She was dependent on her drugs. But her drugs were prescribed to her for various health problems, including Raynaud’s Disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, and nerve damage caused by a car wreck in which she broke her neck. Without her drugs, she was unable to move or function as a ‘normal’ adult, but there are many studies that go beyond this.

“It is often mistakenly assumed that drug abusers lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or a strong will. In fact, because drugs change the brain in ways that foster compulsive drug abuse, quitting is difficult, even for those who are ready to do so.” – National Institute on Drug Abuse

Despite this, society often treats drug abusers like immoral and incapable individuals. Society portrays drug users as confused people on the streets, shooting up to get high, when in reality – many drug abusers begin with prescribed drugs. (Spoiler Alert) In Take Me Tomorrow, you will read about the fictional drug “tomo” that was originally created in pharmacies, but you will also read about addiction, abuse, and the consequences of it all. But I want to clarify one thing – I am not against medicine. I myself have two medications that I take on a regular basis – two I have to take just to eat food.

When I was seventeen, I went from 139 lbs. to 109 lbs. in three days. No one knew what was wrong, and I was in extensive testing for months before I found out that I have a tumor in my liver. It causes numerous problems, but – without getting into too much detail – my natural body rejects food now. So I am also dependent on a drug that helps me function like a regular human being who can…you know, eat food. Despite this, I am constantly trying to find natural remedies to help with my illness, and I am always trying to understand drugs, both positive and negative effects.

I could – quite literally – write books on this topic, but I decided to write Take Me Tomorrow to express the complicated world of drug use. I don’t want to spoil my novel, but you will see a character who is addicted for various reasons. You will also see violence associated with the drug, why the drug was made, who takes it, and how different types of people feel about it. I marketed it to the young-adult crowd, because of one simple fact:

“…education and outreach are key in helping youth and the general public understand the risks of drug abuse.” – National Institute on Drug Abuse

I hope that Take Me Tomorrow causes readers to understand everything they can about good and bad effects drugs can have, and I hope they research all that they can about drugs in order to understand how we can help more people. (Because – again – there are positive effects.)

But there are more topics that I cover in Take Me Tomorrow. I specifically wanted to focus on how youth is affected by drugs and crime related to drugs. I include immigration issues, as stated by Chris Pavesic’s review, “When reading Take Me Tomorrow, my thoughts drew comparisons between the current immigration crisis in the United States, where unaccompanied minors are illegally crossing the border in vast numbers fleeing faltering economies, rising crime, and gang activity in their Central American homelands, and the issued faced by Thompson’s characters as they flee similar situations.” My hope, when I included immigration issues, was to show that drug abuse is not only about drug abuse. It also affects other political issues that often pop up in the every day (and very real) world that we live in.

I understand how heated this issue can get. I – for one – followed Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death with a pounding heart. It hurt me to see people say his death didn’t matter because “he asked for it” – because I am a motherless daughter from a death that DOES matter for the same reasons. If you want to differentiate between her drugs and his drugs, I highly recommend you watch this full episode from Dr. Oz, because he talks about the LEGAL drug Zohydro that could spark another drug epidemic. I am sad to say that I am getting emotional just typing this article up because of how many people I know who have been affected by both legal and illegal drug use as well as the ignorance that has hurt them even more. In fact, when I learned about how my mother died from drugs, I started to lie about her death, and I told people my mother was murdered instead of from drugs because I was literally made fun of when people found out. (Disclaimer: Please, keep in mind that I was eleven years old at this time. I am ashamed that I lied like that, but it was my natural reaction to the severe bullying I endured after her death… And, yes, I was bullied because my mother died. In fact, I was told I was going to hell at one point.)

We need better programs, but we need more understanding first, and – if my novel can encourage one person to research both aspects – I can consider it successful. Until then, I understand how a reader might backlash against it. I understand how a dozen readers will become uncomfortable during various aspects of it. I did, too. I don’t want to see a young person addicted anymore than the next person, but that is why I included a young character who is addicted for various reasons, and that is why I wrote about this issue. That is why I chose to publish it.

Even though Take Me Tomorrow is dystopian fiction, I want readers to see the realities I’ve lived through – as well as the many thousands of people who have also become victims of drug abuse through many ways, whether it be personal or through the loss of a friend or through the struggles of a loved one.

On one last note, I could not include every aspect – every angle – that I wish I could have in this post nor could I include everything I wanted to include in my novel, but I hope that this is a fair explanation as to why this topic was so vital for me to cover in my writing career.

Thank you for reading,

~SAT

TMTready

You’re Spell Check is All Ways Write

16 Jul

You’re Spell Check is All Ways Write

If you’re a writer or a reader, you probably just had a panic attack due to my horribly written title. Fortunately, you don’t have to correct me. I know it’s wrong. It’s terribly wrong. But here’s the funny part: my spellchecker didn’t even underline that sentence. In fact, according to a few technology programs, the title isn’t wrong at all, and that is why I love editors so much. Real editors. Human editors. Don’t get me wrong. I love programs that aid us just as much as the next writer. In fact, I have some of my favorite ones linked to below, but we can’t rely only on them, and that is what I’m talking about today. I have FINALLY uploaded Episode 3 to my YouTube channel – Coffee & Cats – and I hope you enjoy it! If you aren’t into watching videos, don’t worry. Skip below.

Basically, in this video, I pick up Seconds Before Sunrise – a professionally edited novel – and text a small excerpt to myself. Granted, I know texting is not an editing tool, but I think this autocorrect experiment, especially since it is already professionally edited, shows a valid point about how writers should still hire an editor after using technology. For comparison reasons (and great laughter) here were the two excerpts: (On a side note, this particular excerpt on page 155 is told from Jessica’s perspective when she is drunk, so even the real excerpt might seem a little strange because of that. In the texting version, I italicized everything my autocorrect changed.)

Real excerpt:

I didn’t answer because I didn’t know. My head was spinning too fast to collect my thoughts, let alone my feelings, so I buried myself with silence. My body tingled, and the feeling, somehow, seemed familiar in the darkness. The overwhelming vision of flying flowed through my veins, and I shifted from side to side as if I would take off at any moment.

It was beautiful. The sky, I mean. It was clearer than anything else around me, and the midnight color mixed with the stormy clouds like an obscure painting. I wanted to paint right now – right now, like how Robb and Linda weren’t together right now.

Robb grabbed my arm. “Are you even listening to me?” His face swayed from side to side, and I could smell the bar on him.

Texting version: 

I didn’t as cms answer because I didn’t know. My head was singing too fast to collect my thoughts, let alone my feelings, sui I buried myself with silence. My body tingle and the feeling, somehow, seemed family in the darkness.,the overwhelming vision of flying flowed though my veins, and I shifted from side to side as if I would take I d at Abu moment.

It was beautiful, the sky,I mean. It was clever than anything else around me, and the midnight color mixed with the story clouds like an obscure painting. I wanted to paint right New..right new right now, like how rib and Linda weren’t further away right new.

Rib grabbed my arm. “Are you listening ruby?His face swatted from dude to suffer, and I could Angel the car on him.

Pretty bad, right? I just wanted to take this last section to clarify that I still encourage technology use. In fact, I love my Dragon Dictate, the Hemingway App, and my Grammarly account. I often use these throughout my writing process. If you know of a great app, be sure to share it below! Or tell us who your favorite editor is. I cannot thank my beta readers or my editors enough, but here’s a shout out to my amazing team: Tyler, Raul, Kyle, Atheil, Cassie, Kirsten, Alex, Elizabeth, Greg, and AEC Stellar’s Heather, Ky, and Ray!

~SAT

 

Spreading the Love

14 Jul

Shannon – here – for one announcement and a small introduction.

Special thanks goes out to everyone who came to the Indie Romance Convention last night! The event was amazing, and my Amazon rankings even went up! Thank you for checking out The Timely Death Trilogy and supporting me as we near the release date of Take Me Tomorrow. I appreciate your lovely support of the romance genre, and I am hoping to give back to all of you wonderful readers. Email me at shannonathompson@aol.com for a free eBook of my dystopian novel, Take Me Tomorrow before it comes out this Thursday. :D

Here on WordPress I talk to many fellow bloggers, and their websites become valuable gems that I visit throughout my day. Today, one of those gems is writing for ShannonAThompson.com. Her name is Mishka Jenkins, author of Heart of Arena, Stolen Bloodline, and The Queen’s Jester, and host of the fantastic blog, A Writer’s Life for Me. She’s written a great post about why author write romance, and I hope you enjoy it just as much as I have enjoyed having her on here!

Spreading the Love

Romance. By now we all pretty much know that romance doesn’t have the rep that other genres get. It’s generally classed as a sub-par genre that you should read only in the confines of your own home, where no one else can see you doing it.

Me? I read romance, I write romance, I like romance and care very little what others say on the topic, because I like what I like and have no shame in it. But, I think a lot of people miss the reason that most like the romance genre. It’s not for the bodice ripping moments or the final kiss (which are great too!), a lot of the time it’s because romance and love gives us a little bit of hope.

StolenBloodline

Stolen Bloodline by Mishka Jenkins

Every day we are bombarded with news of war and cruelty, so when I pick up a book I want to escape into it. It’s hard to go from a news story about war and then pick up a book that is filled with yet more fighting and brutality. There are times when I want hope, optimism and to read about moments that leave me breathless. For a while, romance gives me that world where there are more important things than the humdrum chores of washing the dishes or catching the bus.

Romance offers that breather and an escape in a much more comforting way than say a full-blow epic war fantasy or a fast-paced thriller. Those types of books are great, but sometimes their violence and heaviness leave me drained.

And that is why I think romance is important. It shows that not everything in the world has to be about violence or anger. The better qualities and emotions of humanity shine through in romance books, they focus on characters and how, just sometimes, the connection between people can make a bigger difference than a battle can.

If I pick up a romance book I can generally guarantee that when I finish it there will be a happy ending. The problems will have been defeated and the couple will be blissfully in love and I can sigh in happiness, because it gives me a sense of hope in a world that sometimes seems only full of war and cruelty.

Yes, I also read for those romantic moments that make me swoon and send my heart thudding into overdrive. And, honestly, what’s so wrong with that?

Mishka Jenkins lives in the UK with her family and fluffy muse, a rough collie called Harliquin, who she couldn’t write without. She has a penchant for writing love stories in a variety of exciting genres, and plans to keep writing them for as long as she can type.

She’s written three books- Stolen Bloodline, Heart of the Arena and The Queen’s Jester.

Connect with her by visiting her blog and Amazon page

Censoring Myself in the Publishing World

10 Jul

Fantasy is More Fun is giving away tons of prizes to celebrate their one-year anniversary. Check out the raffle by clicking here, be sure to join, and you might win ten novels! Minutes Before Sunset is included!

Censoring Myself in the Publishing World

It’s hard to be yourself in an art industry – as strange as that sounds.

Correction: It’s hard for me to be %100 myself 24/7 in the publishing industry. Perhaps this a fact of life – not just something in the publishing industry – but I have found myself censoring myself about my lifestyle because I’m afraid that I will lose readers if they don’t agree with me. (Personally, I don’t see why we have to agree about everything, but this still happens.) This happens in and outside the publishing world, but I wanted to share the topics I struggle with as an author in order to help other authors talk about their personal troubles. I also hope to take my first step at being %100 honest without fear of reader rejection.

So here is a list of things I have been afraid to mention before:

Books I Dislike and Like:

This isn’t about if they are good or not. I am a firm believer in the fact that books can both be good and be disliked. My personal example of this is Divergent. I just could not get into it. I could not wrap my mind around a society the forces you to be only ONE thing, and the color scheme seemed too simple for such a complex topic. I also felt like it had a lot of religious undertones that made me very uncomfortable. That being said, I still think Veronica Roth is a fantastic writer. I can see a variety of reasons to love it. I can appreciate her prose. On the opposite spectrum, I enjoyed Twilight. There. I said it. Granted, I was 14 when I read it, so it was also marketed to girls my age at the time. I actually remember buying Twilight after a friend told me about it and being reluctant only to go back the very next day to buy the second book that had just released. It wasn’t until much later that I considered the themes in it – when others saw it as abusive, I saw it as just a story – just entertainment. Either way, it still makes me really sad when readers hate on other readers, so that’s why I think I censor myself about my personal book tastes. I don’t want a fan to think I’m attacking their favorite book, because I understand how personal a book can mean to a reader, how much joy and heartbreak can come when a reader loses themselves in a story and how destructive it can feel when others try to tear it to pieces.

I smoke hookah and I drink:

I’m 23, so both of these acts are legal for me, but I try not to mention this about myself because my readers are primarily young adults, and I don’t want to encourage them to do either of the things. As a contradiction, my next novel, Take Me Tomorrow, deals with a lot of themes about drugs in society, including the youth. The sad fact is that many young adults find themselves involved with drugs. This a reality. But my biggest fear is someone telling me their kid blamed me for trying hookah or trying a drink. Here’s another ugly truth: my mother died from a drug overdose. They were legal painkillers prescribed to her. So I know the deadly consequences that can derive from drug use, legal or not. Perhaps – because of my various experiences – I am sensitive to how people perceive me in regards to the drugs in my upcoming novel. Who knows? When I’m asked in interviews “Where do you write?” I find myself struggling to answer honestly, “In a local hookah house.” Because I don’t want other kids to smoke because I smoke occasionally. I know it’s bad for you. I understand this. I am only afraid readers will somehow think I am saying it’s good for you when I’m not.

From Post Advertising

From Post Advertising

Depression associated with publishing:

It happens. I have days where I struggle – just like any person in any industry – but there seems to be a strange stigma associated with artists. If we complain, we aren’t grateful. If we complain, we are selfish because there are so many writers who wish they were published. But can’t we be honest? Can’t we say it’s hard? Can’t we feel sad sometimes, too?

Characters I’ve based off of people:

I don’t directly and purposely try to base my characters off of people in my life, but – as time passes – I can see strong correlations. Still, I am terrified of admitting to my relationships (friends or not) with these people because many of these people are no longer in my life. It feels rude. It feels selfish. Maybe I’ll get over it. Maybe I won’t. But sometimes – when I realize this – I miss them. I miss the characters that were once my closest friends. And I have struggled to even make friends. Since I moved around a lot as a child, friends didn’t last very long. We always moved. But losing friends when I still lived in the same area was an extremely difficult part of my teenage years. I didn’t have to deal with it until I was 15 – and it was hard. Really hard. I couldn’t comprehend how someone I confided in could turn their back on me (or how I managed to turn my back on others.) So when those characters clear up, it can be confusing and unreal and strange, so it’s much easier to deny the possibility that my characters might – in fact – be them.

Certain scenes:

When I was younger, it was easier to be true to the story. I didn’t care what readers thought of a controversial scene, but now I find myself changing them or cutting them out completely – mainly because I or people I have met have gone through many of these trials and I don’t want to stigmatize the victims. I don’t want to hurt them. I don’t want to trigger something.

My personal life:

So you know I have a cat. You know I live in Kansas. You know that I work for AEC Stellar as an author and an employee. You know I lost my mother at a young age and my college roommate. But you don’t know how much I mentally struggle to believe that I created a relatable female character because I struggle to relate to females in general (which I think stems from the fact that I was mainly raised by my father and brother, therefore feeling more comfortable around males.) I’m also more comfortable writing as a male, and when readers ask me about it, I get really uncomfortable about it, because I don’t even know why. To clarify, I’m not uncomfortable with the fact that I enjoy writing as a boy; I get uncomfortable when someone tries to make sense of it, like there has to be a reason for it. I – on the other hand – just want to accept it for what it is. The only other topic I would like to clarify on is that I am not just a “cat person.” I grew up with dogs, and I love and miss my husky, Shadow. (So much so that Argos in Take Me Tomorrow is based off of him.) He was in my life for 15 years. If I had a yard and the proper time and money for a puppy, I would get one. But I don’t. So I have my cat, Bogart, and I love him very much. But I love cats and dogs and pretty much every animal on the planet.

There are ugly parts of everyone’s life and art, but – even though it is common – it is hard to confess to those darker moments. That being said, confessing to those thoughts can help others who struggle with truths they avoid. I like to believe that my “ugly” parts aren’t ugly at all. I am human. That’s what makes us artists.

Feel free to share those things you avoid mentioning below! It’s quite a freeing moment, and I’m glad to share my struggles here, especially if it helps other artists come out with their struggles!

~SAT

Different Social Medias and How I Use Them as an Author

8 Jul

One announcement today:

Taking on a World of Words nominated ShannonAThompson.com for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! Thank you :D When I am nominated, I post the facts and blogs on my Facebook page, but I also want you to check out the three blogs I nominated: Ciara Darren, Fallen Manga Studios, Elie Eldritch.

Different Social Medias and How I Use Them

As a writer, readers might picture my every day schedule as my laptop and I sitting in a café, writing out the next novel to be released, but – in fact – that’s pretty far from the truth. I spend a good portion of my time on social media, both for myself and for AEC Stellar Publishing. Even if it looks like I’m logged off, chances are that I am writing a future post and scheduling it on a timer – chances are that I’m constantly posting somewhere online.

I first signed on with AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. as an author only. But a few months in, they asked me to become a Social Media Wizard. (That’s right. I’m a retired Wizard.) During that time, I learned a lot about how to optimize social media for authors, but I also had personal preferences that I still use today. During this post, I’m going to share the different social media platforms I enjoy and struggle with. If I struggle with it, I’ll try to find a helpful author that I know who uses that specific platform.

WordPress:

If you didn’t already know, this website is based off of WordPress. This is – by far – my favorite platform to participate on. Not only can I express what I’m doing in detail, but I can also go see what my readers are doing. I love being able to share pictures and links and ideas in depth – so I guess you could say that I love my blog. A blog allows us to express our day-to-day lives or to share inspirational messages or to connect on a deeper level than 150 characters. That being said, a blog demands a lot of time. I, personally, post every other day. That may not sound like a lot, but it takes up a majority of my social media time. Because of the level of fans I can meet, I definitely think it is worth it though – but even if I couldn’t meet fans, a blog is something I enjoy, so I believe I would blog anyway. In fact, I used to have another blog before this one.

Facebook:

Join me today!

Join me today!

This is my number two, mainly because it is my top referrer to my blog. That being said, Facebook can be a tricky slope to climb (and a fast one to fall down on.) Facebook is constantly changing, and it has developed a bad reputation for keeping viewers away from the pages they like. However, I’ve had a lot of luck with it. I do get views and clicks that continue to grow, and that satisfies me, but I have learned one thing: if my views are going up, but then I post something that gets no likes, my next post has a less of a chance of being viewed. Basically, as soon as you climb, you can slide back down very, very quickly. But I think it’s important to figure out what makes your stats climb and what causes them to fall. For me, I try to mix it up with inspirational articles, news about my novels, fun photos, and engaging posts that allow readers to post their favorite pages and other things that they enjoy, so I can understand them. I also share posts from other pages, and I contribute to their pages as my page (not as my personal Facebook.) Beyond that, I participate in Facebook groups for authors and readers, which allows me to connect with even more people, and I friend those people with my personal Facebook so we can stay in contact easier.

Twitter:

At first, I really disliked Twitter. I still find it a little more difficult than Facebook. It always seemed to reach writers but not readers. But I’ve been focusing more energy on Twitter recently – simply posting about my day – and Twitter was ALMOST my top referrer last month. So I’m still trying to fully optimize this, but I do like it, and I am beginning to understand more hashtag opportunities as they come. For authors, I would suggest dwindling down the number of times one posts “5 Stars! Buy this steamy romance for .99 cents! (insert link here)” I see it every other post on my newsfeed, and it’s very rare that I see anyone retweet it. I almost feel like these posts cause readers to stop following writers. I’m not saying you can’t post that ever. But every five minutes is pretty bad. I try to share my blog posts on Twitter, but I mainly use Twitter to discuss trending topics – like when Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal came out. I live tweeted to fellow viewers, and I gained 50 followers in one night. (That was awesome!) An awesome fan also created a hashtag for Take Me Tomorrow, so if you ever tweet about my latest novel, please use the hashtag #Rx. :D

bomGoodreads:

I am friends with many readers on Goodreads, and I love adding novels to my bookshelf, but – in my opinion – I have yet to really use Goodreads in depth. I have participated in groups, and Minutes Before Sunset won an award on Goodreads – but I find myself drowning in how much information is on there. It’s fantastic. Don’t get me wrong. I definitely recommend it. But to participate the right way, I feel like you have to spend A LOT of time on there, and I don’t have as much time as I would like in order to fully communicate with everyone. And – as an author – Goodreads has terrified me from time-to-time. They have many new rules in place that tell authors not to communicate with readers, and if you do, your novels and profile can be taken off forever. (EEK!) I know many authors who continue talking to readers and many who don’t, but the risk keeps me away most of the time.

Pinterest:

This is a personal thing. I love it. I only recently started it. I met a few new readers and fans, but I’m enjoying it as an author because it is unbelievably fun to create your boards for your books. I’ve started creating “private” boards for books I’ve just started writing, so it might be a great place for me to go back and share original concepts when the novel is published. In fact, I have boards for The Timely Death Trilogy, Take Me Tomorrow, and November Snow.

Tumblr:

I started Tumblr in the same week as I started Pinterest. I can’t get a grip on it. I like it, but I miss the ability to comment or communicate in a lengthy fashion. That being said, I’ve met many authors who absolutely LOVE Tumblr, and Amber Skye Forbes has a great post about how to manage your Tumblr in an effective manner.

Instagram:

Believe it or not, I have met a few readers there, and I love to update it once a week or so. But I don’t believe it’s necessary to have one as an author. I enjoy taking pictures and sharing them, so it worked for me in the sense that it easily blended in with my every day life.

YouTube:

It’s been difficult to keep up with my channel, and I’ve only uploaded two videos, so I can’t say if this is a great platform or not yet (not from personal experience anyway) but I am planning on continuing it.

Wattpad:

I’m very grateful to Wattpad. I love it. I haven’t been able to spend more time there, though, so I can’t really say a lot about for now, but I can say that it helped me out a lot before I signed with AEC Stellar Publishing, so I do recommend it for writers looking for advice on their manuscripts, but I have yet to spend enough time on it recently to get in-depth about this platform. If you’re interested in reading more, check out my article From Wattpad to Publication.

LinkedIn:

I barely use LinkedIn. I have one, but I probably only log in once a month or so. That being said, I heard it’s a fantastic place for nonfiction writers.

So there you have it. These are a couple of social media places that I go to during my author life, and I hope you enjoyed reading about them. If I had to give any specific advice, I would say that authors should treat their social media like they treat their novels: be true to yourself. Don’t force social media just like how you wouldn’t force a novel. Find what type works for you and enjoy your time on it. Just because everyone spends hours on Facebook doesn’t mean you should, and just because I love blogging doesn’t mean every author should have a blog. I believe readers can tell if authors are enthusiastic or not in novels and on social media, so find one you’re passionate about. You’ll be talking to readers in no time at all.

~SAT

Enough is Enough. I am not ashamed that I read Manga.

6 Jul

Two announcements before I begin today’s post about reading Manga:

The Nerdy Girlie is giving away two journals along with an eBook of Minutes Before Sunset to one lucky winner. You can join the raffle until July 10 so click here, join, and good luck!

I’m also going to start putting the title at the top of my post after the separation between announcements and the articles, so they are easier if you don’t want to read my announcements. (But please do!) Being able to share my author life with you all means a lot to me, and your kind support is the extra boost of energy I need when the author life gets tousled around in chaotic troubles.

Enough is Enough. I am not ashamed that I read Manga.

So – originally – I was hoping to upload a new video to my YouTube Channel Coffee & Cats (since I haven’t in two months!) but I was unable to, so my plan didn’t work out, but I am planning on uploading a new video soon. That being said, I sat in front of my laptop last night, slightly panicking over which topic I wanted to talk about instead. If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know I’m a planner. I have dozens of pre-written blog posts for moments like this, but I just couldn’t share one of those today because I had this urge to share what is at the tip of my tongue, and that is Sailor Moon. If you didn’t know, a remake released last night all around the world. (And it was amazing!)

But Shannon, wait, you only blog about reading and writing…What does Sailor Moon have to do with that?

A lot…to me. Maybe not to you. But stay with me because I’ll explain everything soon.

You see – to me – Sailor Moon is more than just a silly cartoon that played in the 90’s. I still remember the first time I saw it. I was sitting on the floor in my grandparents’ living room, watching it on a little, old television that could be turned to black and white by opening a panel on the right side and twisting a knob. If you turned the knob too far, everything flickered to neon green. (I got a kick out of doing this!) After that first episode, I was hooked – or obsessed, however you want to say it.

Photo from Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal website

Photo from Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal website

At this point, you might still be wondering – Sailor Moon is a television show. Seriously, why are you blogging about this?

Because it has to do with some hard reading lessons I learned.

Sailor Moon, yes, started out as a television show for me, but I grew up, and it disappeared from daytime television shortly afterward. At some point during my preteen years, I remembered that show because I read Daughters of the Moon by Lynne Ewing (still one of my favorite YA series) and it reminded me of my once-loved show. So I went searching, and I found out it was a comic book. I did not know the word “manga” yet, and I definitely didn’t know how different (and more mature) the manga was compared to the show I watched as a kid. But I quickly learned after that.

I read every manga I could get my hands on. (And I hid this because I was embarrassed.) You see, I feel like manga has a worse reputation than reading YA as an adult – it’s something we should ashamed of. Adults don’t read cartoons. Teens shouldn’t read cartoons. That stuff is for kids. Blah. Blah. Blah. It goes on and on. And I will admit that I fell into this at one point. I even asked for gift receipts at the local bookstore because a clerk once said something about how he could never read something like that. What can I say? I was fourteen and impressionable. Now, that I’ve gotten over it, I can admit that I was embarrassed because I fell into reading bullying.

But enough is enough.

I like manga. I like it a lot. It’s currently one of my “go-to” reads, especially when I can’t afford novels (or the bookstore is closed because it’s two in the morning, and I need a break.) But I read it anyway. I read it because I like it.

I’ve only started admitting to reading it within the past year. Perhaps this is because I’m older, and I don’t see a reason to hide it anymore. (And now I’m ashamed that I hid it at all.) After all, grown adults read Spider-Man and go to the theatres to watch Iron Man – both of which are comic books – but I, somehow, convinced myself that manga was different, that it was childish and immature and weird.  And it’s not just me. When I started admitting to reading it, I had friends and family say the same things (ironically, as they were talking about the new Batman movie.) It was almost like Marvel and DC comic books are acceptable, but manga isn’t.

Manga is not weird or childish or immature or something we should be ashamed of. It’s just like everything else. It can have bad and good stories with great characters, mystical plots, and wonderful emotions.

To me, watching the new Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal last night reminded me of how strongly I feel about this subject. Even though it was an anime that I started with and not the manga, it turned me on to manga. (Warning. I’m about to fangirl like crazy.)

Seriously. If only Bogart looked like this.

Seriously. If only Bogart looked like this.

You see, Sailor Moon is more than Sailor Moon to me. It was independence. It was power. It was being graceful and strong at the same time. It was not relying on a man but also not hating on men. It was friendship AND love. It was wearing boots with heels on them. It was kicking ass, being equal, and finding strength within yourself while believing in the strengths of others around you.

Oh. And a black cat. (Seriously. If Bogart was female, he would’ve been named Luna.)

Stories are more than stories to fans. They make up intricate parts of ourselves and resonate in our every day lives as lessons, hopes, and dreams. No, my dream is not to wear a mini-skirt and fight the Dark Kingdom. But it is to be true to myself and fight whatever it takes to get there. To me, even though Usagi cries and whines at the beginning, she grows into herself and she always steps up to the challenge. Always. And she’s never selfish when it comes to her relationships with her various loved ones. (Unless you consider getting bad grades selfish…then, okay. I’ll give her that.)

So, go ahead – poke fun at the fact that I’m 23 and reading a manga or a comic book. You can’t hurt me. You can only hurt yourself but not giving various types of literature a chance. You might miss out a story that resonates with you for the rest of your life.

But if I had to be completely honest, the older I get, the more I don’t understand reading bullying. It’s pointless and destructive. Please don’t make fun of anyone for reading anything. Seriously. It is okay if a type of literature isn’t for you, but that doesn’t mean everyone else has to hate it. Read what you enjoy. Give new things a chance, and even if you don’t like it, don’t bully other readers. What if you bully the next J.K. Rowling, but that reader never becomes a writer because they are turned away from reading because of reader bullying? Let them read what they enjoy, and perhaps, you’ll both find new types you enjoy when you support one another.

~SAT

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