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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

Coffee & Cats: Episode 6

16 Oct

Announcements:

I hope you enjoyed my interview on Whispers in the Dark last night. If you didn’t have a chance to listen to it, don’t worry! You can listen to it right now by clicking here.

In other news, People Like Books posted an interview with their review of Take Me Tomorrow, and you can read both by clicking here, but here is a small quote from both:

Review: “The pacing of this book is also top notch…I’d say if you are a fan of Divergent, Marie Lu’s Legend, and heck maybe even Alex Bracken’s The Darkest Minds, then you’ll like this book. (Hopefully LOVE it – just like I did.)

Interview: “…my characters change dramatically in different ways, but a reader might need to read it a few times to realize that. I don’t like making things too obvious. I want readers to experience the book one hundred times and realize something new every time.”

Lastly, Miss Heliotrope Reads also reviewed Take Me Tomorrow here, stating, “Thompson has come up with a good story and has, very impressively, managed to find a niche in a highly saturated genre.”  

Coffee & Cats: Episode 6

It’s that time! After four Fridays, you have voted, commented, and shared four poems, and based on your activity, I have read your favorite poem. The winning poem is The Autumn Railroad, and the winning fan is Steven Sanchez. If you haven’t already, click the links to check them both out. Below, you can watch my reading of the poem, but I had a bit of a cold! So I apologize if I sound sleepy. I tried my best. And just like last month, I have put smaller explanations below the video as a back story to the inspiration.

I hope you enjoy it!

The grave of my teenager daughter

Opening line:

is a restaurant she was born at 16.

This isn’t about losing a child. Not to me anyway. For me, it’s about burying your teenage years behind you as you move forward into adult hood despite the lingering pain many teenagers have to go through: first loves, first jobs, first drugs, etc.

Peeling Oranges

Opening line:

We sat on the floor as you began, and

This also resides in younger years, and the inspiration comes from many stories combined together, the main one being how a parent can teach a child many things, like cooking, but they never get the full opportunity to tell them the entire story. The second one is a combination of losing friends and realizing exactly what they brought into your life afterward – including different cultures, stories, and learning experiences. And, yes, I seriously cannot peel oranges.

The Autumn Railroad

Opening line:

it was a place of great indifference, the type

This poem can be read two ways (or possibly more) but most readers seem to enjoy it as a metaphor for the season, which I can definitely see, but it’s sadly based on a true story that happened near a town I used to go to. Two boys died on the railroad tracks while biking, and the accident left a haunting glare on the area. The tracks also got shutdown shortly after, but I was told it wasn’t from the accident, so I think – in a way – it did become this horrible real-life metaphor for fall and winter, coming and ending on a single day.

To the Anti-American Teacher…We Knew You Were Pro-World

Opening line:

A clause in your contract slated your signature for patriotism.

The last poem is the closest poem to a completely literal story. I had a government teacher in high school that did refuse to sign his contract (not because he was anti-American, but because – as he explained – he was shocked the teaching demanded such a thing.) He did, in fact, remove his flag, and he decorated his room with all the flags around the world, but no, he wasn’t fired for it. I seem to recall him getting in trouble, but I don’t know the full extent of it. However, I truly appreciated how he took the time to teach us about other countries in the spare minutes we had, and a lot of his teachings came from his personal experiences when he traveled the world. I can admit that I barely remember the classwork, but I remember every time he spoke about his travels. The Dr. Seuss quote is included in this poem because that was a quote my high school used a lot.

Hope you enjoyed the explanations and the reading! Can’t wait for the next poems to come out on my Wattpad every Friday. Remember to share, vote, and comment for your chance to be mentioned.

~SAT

 

The Unconventional Working Habits of Brilliant Writers

14 Oct

Today is another fantastic post written by Ninja Essays. Shannon is taking a slight break, but I have a lot of announcements today that I hope you check out, including news about a radio interview, a reality T.V. show, and book bloggers.

On October 15, Whispers in the Dark radio will be hosting a LIVE interview from 8 – 9 p.m. (CDT). I hope you all listen in. We’ll be talking about Take Me Tomorrow and so much more. So click here to check out the radio’s page, and tune in tomorrow night.

I also have an array of wonderful people I want to thank today.

The first shout out goes to The Big Break Legacy, a reality T.V. show, for quoting Seconds Before Sunrise! Thank you for your support! The second goes out to Deborah Wong for nominating ShannonAThompson.com for the One Lovely Blog Award. I nominated Tune-In-NanaAj, So She Says, Fraser Sherman’s Blog, Author Dana Ellington Myles, and thedailyopine. Last but definitely not least, I have three fantastic book bloggers who reviewed Take Me Tomorrow the past 48 hours. (Please click the blog names to visit their full reviews and websites):

Southern Bred, Southern Read brought out the giggling author in me when they wrote, ” I personally would love to run into Noah anywhere… whoosh ya boy sounds dirty hot! He makes my cheeks blush and my eyebrows wiggle. *pulls out paper fan and cools off in true southern fashion*” But don’t worry. They got into the dangerous part in their review, so check it out!

The Book Spa spoke about the “refreshing take on the Dystopian genre…It has an interesting plot, is well written and is action packed.” And so is their review!

The latest review was written by The Incorrigible Reader, and she wrote, “If you are looking for an exciting story (and maybe a little romance)Take Me Tomorrow is an exciting read that I would highly recommend it.” Find out why in her full review!

Thank you to all of these wonderful people!

Unusual_work_habits_of_great_writersThe Unconventional Working Habits of Brilliant Writers

Creative geniuses are never linked to the ordinary habits normal people have. Their minds, their lifestyle and approach to work are completely different from what we would expect. Some of the world’s greatest writers had working routines that fell within our understanding of “normal”, but others had an approach that deviates from the picture we imagine when reading their novels.

Did you know that Ernest Hemingway wrote his lengthy novels while standing up? Maybe we should all try that sometimes and see if our minds would come close to being as genius as his. How would you imagine George Bernard Shaw working on his novels, plays and short stories? Vladimir Nabokov, Francis Scott Fitzgerald and Vladimir Nabokov had unusual approach to their work as well.

The belief of a “tormented genius” is more than a deviation from normality; it’s a state that has been reflected in the work and lifestyle of creative masterminds from the beginning of time. Great intelligence and creativity cannot be tamed within the boundaries of “normal”.

The following infographic created by NinjaEssays reveals the working strategies of some of the most brilliant writers throughout history. This information surely puts their work into a new perspective. 

When the Protagonist Dies

12 Oct

Announcements:

Zoe Mortez, an avid reader, reviewed Take Me Tomorrow on her blog, “When I’m about to flip over to the next page, my mind kept saying things that really determined me to read more and more and more until the last page of this story. I’ll be rating 5/5 for this book and it’s highly recommended for those who love Young Adult Dystopian Genre novels!” You can read the entire review by clicking here or check out Take Me Tomorrow by clicking here. Thank you, Zoe!

When the Protagonist Dies Introduction:

Shannon, here, but only for a minute. Today is a guest post, and as many of you know, I pick out guest bloggers by your activity right here on ShannonAThompson.com. This particular guest blogger commented on my post, Why Are Parents Dead in Fiction, and her comment struck me so much so that I just HAD to have her elaborate today. Cogpunk Steamscribe wrote about how death in fiction continues onto a whole new level during a protagonist’s death, and everything Lynne wrote can be found below. I hope you enjoy this discussion as much as I have!

When the Protagonist Dies … a response to ‘Why are Parents Dead in Fiction’ 

Spoiler & Trigger Alert! This is a post about books that have a main character who dies. As well, I’m avoiding John Green and his body of work in this discussion. I really don’t want to give away any spoilers. Most of the books in this discussion have been around for a while.

Shannon mentioned in her blog on that she wrote about absent parents or orphans because that was her experience growing up. Other writers want to throw their protagonists into situations where parents can’t interfere with the unfolding of the story. Disney really likes to take parents out of the situation so that the protagonist – or protagonists – is/are isolated, and this creates more drama and suspense and creates sympathy for the orphaned characters (think ‘Frozen’). When you want to ramp up an emotional response, kill off a parent or two.

But why stop there? Let’s take this one step further. Why not kill off the protagonist? Of course, there is a real risk when you kill off a protagonist that you will alienate the audience. But sometimes, in real life, people you love die. Why should literature ignore this?

The most famous examples of one of the protagonists dying in a Young Adult book is ‘The Bridge to Terabithia”, by Katherine Paterson. The author has openly admitted the book was inspired by the death of one the friends of her own child; she was writing from experience and from her heart. The book created a controversy when it first came out, as the topic of death was considered unsuitable for the target Young Adult audience. I don’t know why, when ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley is studied in schools, and the main protagonist dies in that book, so it isn’t like Katherine Paterson was reinventing the wheel.

Movie still provided by Cogpunk Steamscribe

Movie still provided by Cogpunk Steamscribe

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. The death of a protagonist or a main character has become a part of the tropes used in Young Adult Fiction.

The main character, Tris, dies in the final book in the Divergent series, ‘Allegiant’, by Veronica Roth. Both Bruno and Smuel die in the gas chambers in John Boyle’s ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’. In Morris Gleitzman’s ‘Then’, Felix has to watch his best friend Zelda die at the hands of the Nazis. As well, though the ending is ambiguous, ‘The Giver’ by Lois Lowry should be mentioned; I was certain Jonas and Gabriel were most certainly dying after finishing that book. All of these books are Young Adult, and none of them flinch away from the death of a main character or characters.

All of these books treated the deaths with honesty and respect. All of these books cover serious topics that are part of the human history, or analogies of the failings of human nature, and use death to highlight the points they are trying to make. The authors are trying to make people think. This is why all of these books have been banned at some point or another.

Not all books let death be the end of a character. Harry Potter, in ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’, dies as a major plot point, but then lives again. His death and rebirth made perfect sense as part of the plot, and wasn’t just used for dramatic effect. In ‘The Lovely Bones’ by Alice Sebold, the protagonist Susie narrates her own story even after her murder, as an entity from heaven. But these are more the exception than the rule, and aren’t the same kind of books as the others I have mentioned. As well, coming back from the dead is rather Hollywood’s set piece these days.

In the end, I don’t believe a writer should flinch away from the death of a protagonist or a main character, if that death is meaningful. Death is ugly, but like a shadow, it throws everything else into sharp relief. If you only ever paint with sunny and light colours, a painting is rather boring. If you only ever write about happy events, your writing will be bland. I’m not saying kill off your protagonist just for the hell of it, but don’t close yourself off to the possibility.

Bio: Lynne Lumsden Green has an addiction to learning that has seen her collect a B.A. in Creative Writing and a B.Sc. in Zoology. She runs Steampunk Sunday, Queensland Australia on Facebook, and writes the Cogpunk Steamscribe blog on WordPress. She has too many toys on her desk, but her excuse is they help ‘inspire’ her.

Writing is Misery

10 Oct

Announcements:

The last poem of the second voting section has been added to my interactive poetry series on Wattpad. Remember to vote, share, or comment for your chance to be mentioned on my YouTube channel, Coffee and Cats. The poem is titled – To the Anti-American Teacher…We Knew You Were Pro-World – and here are the opening lines:

A clause in your contract slated your signature for patriotism.

You never signed, they never checked, but you took down your flag

after that.

Writing is Misery

Warning: I will curse in the first three sentences of this post. Not including these two or the next one. You have been warned.

Recently, I spoke with a writer I deeply respect, and one of things I said was something along the lines of “I am enjoying every minute of my writing.” To which he replied, “If you’re enjoying every minute, you’re not a writer.”

This has been one of those bitch-slapping moments of my half-assed career. I say half-assed with deep respect. I don’t mean it as a bad thing. Truly. I mean it as a reflection of how the general public sees my writing career, and I promise, there is no ill-will toward anyone who sees it that way.

Even though I don’t agree with the general public, I get it. I do. Oh, trust me. I really do. I am a writer, a lover of words, and although every part of me is tempted to agree with this author (who I respect so much I will take this moment to remind everyone how much I respect him) I – alas – cannot agree, even though I have contemplated the words for weeks. However, I will say this. He is right about one thing. I am miserable. But he is wrong about one, pesky detail. I love my misery.

You see, to me, there is no greater delight than exploring the deepest, darkest corners of life through writing, and when I explore, I often find myself in the hollowed out pit of a character’s soul – one that has been etched out through tragedy and despair and loneliness. So much loneliness. And it is in those struggled souls that I find my love for them, my appreciation for their fight, my determination to set their story free – and I write it out.

"I am going to help you write a new book." (Please. Oh, please, readers. Get this joke.)

“I am going to help you write a new book.” (Please. Oh, please, readers. Get this joke.)

This is the moment I lose myself, where my identity no longer matters, where I become another person. This is when my character takes over my existence, and perhaps, because of this takeover, I find myself saying that I am not miserable at all, because I cannot feel misery if I do not exist. Only my characters can.

Because of this peculiar way my brain works, only my character explores this thing called misery. In The Timely Death Trilogy, Eric has to face his fate, his ex-girlfriend’s murder, and his mother’s suicide – not to mention all of the other drama that happens in just the first book alone – but Jessica has to find herself in a world that didn’t allow her to have an identity, and that is really, really difficult for her. In Take Me Tomorrow – oh, Take Me Tomorrow – Sophia has to face the truth about all of her loved ones, but she also has to learn the truth about herself, and I can relate way too well to this instance because I, too, have to learn the truth about myself, and I do that through – you guessed it – writing as my characters.

It is in my characters’ misery that I find my own fight.

Sophia reminds me of how I had to see the truth about my own mother and the addiction that killed her. Jessica showed me how I can find myself no matter how many times I move or lose someone, even if it takes a very long time. Eric proved that tragedy is not an excuse, but that it can still hurt a lot and often and that is okay. And all of my other characters add to those lessons every day, and for that reason alone, I could never be alone.

I never could be miserable.

Yes, life is hard. Following a dream is even harder. But – I believe – even if I fail, I have already succeeded. I have found what I love, and there is no failure in that. Misery does not exist in the hollow depths of passion, because passion is not hollow. It is full of excitement, and love, and perseverance, and cheesy paragraphs just like this one that simply exist in hopes of encouraging someone else to continue on with their miserable head held high…showing off a big grin to prove it.

~SAT

Why Most of my Characters are Male

8 Oct

Announcements:

Red Sands Reviewz read Seconds Before Sunrise and wrote, “You know how they say sequels aren’t as good as the first? This is not the case. It was fun to read from the start to finish.” And now you can read her review from start to finish by clicking here.

Krazy Reads reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, and you can read the entire review by clicking here, but this review inspired my blog post today, so I will be referring to it throughout my post! Even then, here’s a small quote, “Unlike most dystopian novels, this one felt the most real to me. Don’t get me wrong, I ADORE all dystopian novels, but for me, this seemed the most likely to actually happen.” Check out Take Me Tomorrow by clicking here.

Thank you, Krazy Reads.

Why Most of my Characters are Male

I’m doing something today that I have sworn to myself I would never, EVER do. I am responding to a book review. (Oh, the taboo!) Don’t worry. I have Krazy Reads permission, and it’s more or less not a response. It’s a deeper explanation that was inspired by a single section she wrote about my latest novel, Take Me Tomorrow:

Most of the characters are male, and while some people may say that seems unbalanced, to me, it fits perfectly. In the novel, the boys are fighting for a cause, they break laws, set bombs, and carry out rescue missions, so having most of the characters male fits, and I like how there are only three major female roles. Even though Sophia doesn’t always understand, she’s strong, smart, and cunning, and often times, she and her best friend, Lily, are the reason the plans work at all.”

It’s true. I’m guilty. My latest novel, Take Me Tomorrow, has more male character than female characters, and before I explain why, I would like to clarify that I’m specifically talking about Take Me Tomorrow in this post. My other novels are not like this, and there will be minor spoilers throughout this piece. That being said, I am going to have to hold back on some explanations due to the fact that the sequel will deepen many of these explanations, and I don’t want to spoil major parts of the first novel. But I’m going to do my best to explain why I have more male characters than female characters, and I want to explain this because I have received dozens of emails asking me why Take Me Tomorrow is full of boys.

The main reason is, perhaps, the most important one: it was never a conscious decision. It just sort of happened, and it happened naturally. This is the same reason I ultimately never changed it, despite the fact that I had one beta reader in particular suggest it. Don’t get me wrong. I thought about it a lot. I did. I considered each and every character and their gender, but here’s what it ultimately came down to: it was never about their gender. It was about them, and here are the two main reasons, I believe, they were boys in the first place:

Their Past

Although some of the past is seen in Take Me Tomorrow, more is explained in the sequel – Take Me Yesterday (hence the title). But I am going to explain what I can. First of all, a lot of it has to do with how the society works. Even though boys and girls can see each other and go to school together, there are subtle hints the society subconsciously encourages them to be separate. For instance, the boys are more likely to be thrown in military for punishment, while the girls are generally thrown into the correctional houses – and the correctional houses that are blatantly separated by gender. The other subtle part was the dance. Sophia describes it as one of the only instances students from separate schools can meet. Socializing is definitely not encouraged, but let’s get down to physical relationships: Noah and Broden met as children, and although I cannot giveaway their full circumstances, they didn’t just become friends because their parents were friends or that they happened to be the same age. I don’t want to spoil the novel so I won’t explain Tony or the flashback of Liam too much, but those two boys were more or less a reflection of what could’ve happened to Noah if he were older. Pierson is explained in the sequel. (I’m sorry for how cryptic this is.) But I can talk about Miles. If no one noticed, the twins – Miles and Lily – don’t have a father, and again, more details will come in Take Me Yesterday, but I will say this: Miles was very attracted to Broden and Noah, the first two guys that gave him friendship. Lily, too (as explained in the book), but Miles pushed his sister away. I have an older brother. This happened to me. But that’s for my next section.

These are Pinterest photos that remind me of TMT characters

These are Pinterest photos that remind me of TMT characters

My Personal Life

After my mother died, I was practically raised by my older brother. (My dad, too, but he traveled a lot.) So I spent a lot of time with my brother and all of his friends, and – you guessed it – they were mostly guys, especially his best friends. We went hunting and off-roading and ate sandwiches by the lake when we fished. But – during some point – we didn’t hang out as much, and that just happens sometimes. I got friends of my own, but (you might have guessed again) most of my friends were guys. I was comfortable with guys. I was used to spending time with them, and there was no romance there. A girl can be, in fact, just friends with guys. So I think that leaked out with Sophia, but I think it happened because of Lily. That’s right. Because of Lily. Sophia is best friends with Lily, and Lily is the one who introduces Sophia to Miles and Broden. Sophia gets her guys friends by default, and if you read the story, you also might have noticed that Sophia is not a social butterfly like Lily is. Sophia would rather stay home with her dog and read. She was perfectly satisfied with Lily’s company, and Miles and Broden were just extra buddies she gained. And, yes, you will learn even more about all of their pasts, specifically with Broden, Lyn, and Sophia’s mother…oh, and Miles and Lily. Pretty much everyone. But now that we’re talking about the girls…

As an extra, I want to talk about the girls, and I want to start this section off by re-quoting what Krazy Reads said, “I like how they’re are only three major female roles. Even though Sophia doesn’t always understand, she’s strong, smart, and cunning, and often times, she and her best friend, Lily, are the reason the plans work at all.”

Sure, the guys appear to be running things, but sometimes, as an author, I struggle to understand whether certain aspects are forgotten just because gender gets focused on. For instance, Miles is so terrified in the beginning, that he runs away, and Sophia – a girl – takes his place. That’s just one instance where the girls come to the rescue, and yes, there are more rescues and reasons, but sometimes, I worry that literature has trained us readers to focus more on boys rather than girls, which is no one’s fault. I’ve been guilty of it, too. But just because there are more boys does not mean that boys are more important, and in Take Me Tomorrow, they definitely cannot survive without the girls in their lives.

In fact, even though there are more boys in the novel, the numbers should not take away from the importance of Lily, Sophia, Lyn, and later on, Rinley. I wish I could explain what these girls do throughout the novel, but those pesky spoilers prevent me. That being said, these girls – as well as more girls – are seen in the sequel. (And, yes, the boys will be there as well.) But Take Me Tomorrow isn’t about how many boys or how many girls are present. It’s about drug use, abuse, addiction, immigration, tragedy, love, and war. And everyone can go through that, no matter what their gender is.

But – just for kick’s sake – here’s a list of reasons I have more male characters than female characters:

I was true to story.

~SAT

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