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#SATurday: Interview with Bogart, the author kitten

18 Apr

#SATurday: Interview with Bogart, the author kitten

First and foremost, I would like to thank The Acid Oasis for asking me to interview Bogart. I immediately knew that I HAD to do it, and today is the day I share the results. But – first – a little background on this fuzzy little (okay, he’s a bit chunky) feline.

A little over four years ago, a terribly horrible person ditched Bogart and three other black cats. In a closed box. On the side of a highway. He was two months old. Thankfully, a person who was the opposite of the first person (meaning, this next person is an amazing and wonderful human being) pulled over on that highway and saved the kittens by taking them to Wayside Waifs. Two months later, Bogart became my family, and here we are today – catlady and cat – writing stories together every day.

bogartcharacterprofile

Bogart: A lovely introduction. Thank you, Shannon.

Shannon: Well, you did help me write it. How are you doing today?

Bogart: Hungry. As usual.

Shannon: We just ate.

Bogart: I get a treat for this, right?

Shannon: (pause) Sure.

Bogart: (finally sits) Great. Let’s get this started.

Shannon: What is it like to be an author cat?

Bogart: It’s tough work! I sit in Shannon’s lap most of the day, and when I’m not in her lap, I’m next to her. Even when she doesn’t know it, I’m watching – making sure she doesn’t make a mistake, critiquing every word she types, and let me tell you, there are A LOT of words, and I keep Shannon in check.

Shannon: Why are you referring to me as Shannon when I’m right here?

Bogart: It’s for dramatic effect. (pause) And this is exactly what I mean. Without me, you wouldn’t even understand the meaning of drama. And who can have literature without drama?

Shannon: (blinks) Fair enough.

Bogart: So, as I was saying (yawn mixed with a meow), this is tough work. When Shannon makes a mistake, I jump onto her laptop. She doesn’t like it very much. I get thrown off a lot, you know? But the best partners have to have disagreements sometimes. Still, I think she knows I’m right because she ends up staring at her computer for a long while after. Sometimes, she even shuts it down altogether.

Shannon: So, what happens then? When you’re off the laptop?

Bogart: The inspiration, of course! Recently, for instance, I acquired two new friends, Boo Boo and Kiki. I’m sure you’ve seen us on Instagram. (leans in close, rubs face on recorder) We’re famous. (leans out) But Boo Boo and Kiki have been a great help. We set everything up, and the second Shannon comes into the room, we begin our masterpiece. There’s fighting and yelling and cuddling and sharing. An entire collection of emotions just for one plot, let me tell you.

Shannon: And how do I – er, I mean – how does Shannon react to these pieces?

Bogart: She loves them so much, she trips. (stretches) Sometimes, over Boo Boo, but mainly over me. I’m the star of the show, the big guy, the spark. (licks paw) It’s tough work, but the fight scenes in The Timely Death Trilogy wouldn’t be here without me.

Shannon: I thought Shannon wrote that before you two began collaborating.

Bogart: (ignores) What’s your next question?

Shannon: Ah. Right. (flips through notebook) Do you have any works of your own you’ll release? Anything by Bogart?

Bogart: Now that. (long purr) That is a great question. (sees water glass in front of him for the first time. Eyes go wide. Paw lifts up. He knocks it to the floor. Purr deepens.) I love the sound of water glasses hitting the floor. It’s the musical soundtrack of inspiration. Don’t you think?

Shannon: (stares at the mess) I need to clean that.

Bogart: Not now. Not now. (sits in lap and looks up with big, begging eyes to prevent movement) We were talking about my own story.

Shannon: (pets) Go on

Bogart: I do have my own stories. Many stories. Stories I’ve been piecing together for four long years. Stories of purr-fection and cat-astrophe and mew-tovation. But these things take time. A lot of time. And for now, I am enjoying my place – as a muse, a confidant, a kitten cat.

Shannon: Kitten cat?

Bogart: It’s a new spelling I’ve come up with – in reference to a cat that keeps their kitten qualities despite hardships – a cat that maintains their dreaming selves through adulthood, a cat that never gives up. (lifts face) I’m a kitten cat, and without me, Shannon would have a more difficult time with her dreams. Someone must encourage her – just as she encourages me with treats. (long pause)

Shannon: (throws treat)

Bogart: (eats treat) But, you see, we work together, and that’s a precious thing: an author kitten cat and his author, writing into the future. (pause) You could write a whole story on that.

Shannon: I already made a note.

Bogart: Great. We should get back to work.

Shannon: Agreed. (pets) Thank you for your time, Bogart.

Bogart: Thank you for the treat. (jumps down) Now open that laptop. We have books to write.

After the interview, Bogart and I got to work on the latest piece of fiction that will, hopefully one day, hit the shelves for readers. We worked all day and all night, only stopping for dinner, coffee, and treats. He purred and slept, but I know he kept his Halloween cat eyes on every word, just waiting for the opportunity to jump onto my laptop (to prevent mistakes, of course). When we finished our long day, we celebrated by talking some more. Bogart told me of the birds that taunted him, of the sunshine that warmed him, and of the toys he found beneath the couch. In his spare time, Bogart appears on Facebook and Instagram. He also models for donations. But he mainly looks forward to another day, full of writing and kitten cat adventures. It didn’t need to be said, but I found myself stating it anyway. I love Bogart very much.

~SAT

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 9.05.55 AMP.S. I was a guest blogger for Little Birdy Book Blog yesterday, and I talked about 5 lessons I learned since becoming an author. What was number 1? Being a reader is much more complicated now. Check it out by clicking here.

#WW Rejected? How to Keep Submitting

15 Apr

Rejected? How to Keep Submitting

Lately, I’ve been trying to help a lot of fellow writers find publishers, literary journals, and websites where they can share their work. The market is HUGE (hence the giant, capital letters), but for many, this is both a positive and a negative description of the industry. With so many options, how does someone know where to submit? And with so many opportunities, why do I keep getting rejected?

rejectThere are so many answers for this, and none of them are accurate. It’s all guesswork. I can’t tell someone why their manuscript was denied by so-and-so, and I can’t explain why someone else’s poetry made it into The Gettysburg Review over someone else. Only the judgers could, for certain, say why, but even then, it often comes down to their mood that day or their theme that month or how well it would fit in with the other work they already accepted. Again, guesswork.

That being said, this is when I see too many writers give up hope. They’ve submitted to 20 or so places and either received rejections or nothing at all, so they stop. Now, I want to take this moment to clarify that I’m talking about submitting to places today. I’m not discussing self-publishing. While I completely support (and often suggest) self-publishing, it isn’t for everyone, and many people do give up when submitting starts to overwhelm them, so this post is more for them – this post is for those writers who have specific journals they want to see their name in, to see a certain label on their work, to be among the voices of their favorite journal. That’s their goal and their decision, and I see nothing wrong with it. So, again, while I support self-publishing, this post is directed at writers who are submitting to places who might feel discouraged by the process. Below, I’m outlining a few steps to keep your pen up and your ink flowing while also submitting and submitting and submitting until that rejection pile becomes an acceptance pile.

Here are ways to keep submitting: (I’m going to use poems for the example)

Keep a Submission Journal

Set a goal for submitting a certain number of times during a specific timeframe. Ex. I will submit three poems to three journals every month. Now, here’s the tricky part – keep track of that goal. Write down what poems, what journals, and what dates you submitted. This will help remind you that you are currently submitting, and even if you get rejected, I guarantee you’ll already feel better because – chances are – you’ll already have other poems circulating for submission. Many journals, for instance, take months to get back to someone, so submitting different poems in different places will prevent you from getting that “I’m never submitting again” feeling because you’ll already have other submissions pending.

Keep Writing

While I believe it’s okay to have a specific poem you definitely want to get published, try submitting other ones too, and definitely keep writing new ones. A story I like to tell everyone involves my poetry publications. When I started submitting them, it was almost always the poems I NEVER thought they’d pick that were chosen in the end. My “best” poems in my mind are not my “best” poems in someone else’s mind. Remember that one reader won’t like everything, so send out more than just one piece of work. Send out a variety. And then write some more. And keep writing.

Keep Reading

One mistake I see many writers make is the lack of reading, especially of the journals and/or publishers they’re submitting to. I, myself, have made that mistake by accidentally submitting a controversial piece to a journal that no longer accepted controversy. Despite the fact that I kept reading the journal, I never noticed the theme change – so it’s important to read the journal and also take notes on the journal’s overall voice and goals. Sometimes writers think they can go around this by just reading the submission guidelines, but it isn’t rare to see “to get a feel for what we accept, read our latest edition….” at the top of submission pages. Even better, many literary journals offer a free copy for you to review, so read, and read a lot. You might even find a new writer you love.

Make a Mentor List

You know you have them. Your favorite novelist. Your favorite poet. A TED speaker. We all look up to someone, and it’s great to figure out where that someone came from. Even better, find someone with similar topics and/or voice, and check out where they came from and how they got their start. That famous writer wasn’t born a famous writer. They had to submit too. And you know what? I bet they even received rejections. But they never gave up, and you shouldn’t either.

Keep on submitting!

~SAT

#WW: Debating Giveaways and Donations

8 Apr

#WW: Debating Giveaways and Donations.

By now, you probably know that Clean Teen Publishing is running a Goodreads Giveaway for 3 ARCs of Minutes Before Sunset. And if you’re involved in the publishing industry at all – and I’m assuming you are if you’re reading this – then you already know how widely debated giveaways are. It doesn’t matter if you’re an author, a reader, or a publisher. I’m sure you’ve seen the debates about giveaways. I’m sure you’ve also seen a few debates about donations as well. We all have our opinions, and both topics are deeply complex – probably too complex to completely cover in this article below – but I did want to try to explain why I choose to participate in giveaways and donations.

I’ve considered both deeply, so much so that I’ve spent hours researching all the pros and cons. I’m sure you can already tell from my website that I am all for giveaways and donations. That being said, I want to start with donations.

Let's start off with this bookstore I found recently - almost all books were donations.

Let’s start off with this bookstore I found recently – almost all books were donations.

Donations:

Some like to call it panhandling. Others – like me – like to call it support. I never consciously started my website with the idea of donations in mind. In fact, two years of blogging passed before I ever added a page. The first time I considered it was when a blogger – who I had gifted one of my novels to – asked if I had a donate page because she wanted to support my writing. She informed me that she had already bought my books and shared them with friends, but she wanted to do more.

I was touched – and a little bit insecure. I didn’t feel like I was worth any extra help. I didn’t feel like it was “right”, and we spoke about it for a while. She explained that she does this for a lot of her favorite authors, and I remembered something. I donate to my favorite authors and musicians. I have, and I still do when I can. But I was always the donator – not the receiver – and the flip of the relationship felt odd and surreal.

That’s when I started researching.

While I can’t share every article I ever found on the topic, I will share THE ONE – the one that ultimately changed my mind. It was a TED talk: Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking: and I suggest watching it whenever you have the time.

She is absolutely right. The donations become an exchange – a loving exchange. It’s not forced or expected or lazy. I donate to show my appreciation, and when I receive donations, I like to give unique photos of Bogart to supporters to show how much I appreciate them. (Since I’m not a statue actress with flowers like Amanda Palmer).

Now – my addition to this topic is something I’ll never forget. Last year, when I lost my old publisher, my job, and my car at the same time, I was walking around in the rain with holes in my boots just to try to find new work – and you all saved me. Quite frankly, you all kept me on my feet. And you kept my feet dry. Without you, I’m not sure where I would’ve been. But with you, I was safe, and for that, I am forever thankful, and I hope I can continue to move forward and helps others in the way you all helped me. Helping and being helped out of the goodness of your heart – finding ways to support one another when we can – cheering everyone on – and working together for a better future, that is love.

Now, for giveaways: (whew)

The main judgment I see in giveaways is generally worded like this: “Giving away your work for free devalues your work.”

This saddens me. As an author, I trust my readers to bring joy to giveaways, to be positive and uplifting, and to enjoy the event. I do not feel like it devalues my work. To me, that is like saying all presents aren’t valuable because they were given to you for free. Some of the closest trinkets I own are presents. They are immensely valuable to me. If someone handed me a free book – a free trinket or free cake or free notebook – I would never think, “This isn’t valuable.” Instead, when I received a notebook from a reader, my day was filled with warmth, and I have been filling up the notebook with poems ever since – poems I send to that reader, poems we discuss, poems we talk about, poems we build friendship on. That isn’t just valuable. It’s invaluable. Giveaways are gift-gifting opportunities, but they are more than that: they are friendship opportunities.

Now, this is where another concern slides in. Some people sign up who just want to resell your work: no reviews, no reader connections, just people “stealing.”

We choose to give it away. It is a gift. We cannot have expectations for what people do with the gift. That’s just not how gifting works. Granted, I do hope that people stop entering giveaways just to sell work – because yes, that’s unfair to the readers who actually wanted it to read it – but we must trust the readers to come through for authors, and I trust that we can work together to make it a better gift-giving system.

On a side note, I mentioned TED talks earlier, and now I will mention them again. I’m a TED talk junky. I have spent many nights – probably too many nights – watching TED talks. I have learned from TED talks and grown from them and shared them, and guess what? They are all free.

I recently watched a collection of six on forgiveness, and another one about poetry in prison, and the danger of the single story. Arguably, the last one – by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – is my ultimate favorite. The single story is damaging, and I think the “single story” theory goes beyond just hearing a single story. It stretches to any type of judgment, and that brings me back to Amanda Palmer’s speech, The Art of Asking.

We are quick to judge things like giveaways or donations and we are quick to praise them as well, but there are always two sides to the story, two sides to the pros and cons of an act, and two sides to debate.

I choose to stay on this side – as a reader and as an author – and I hope to stay on this side, even when things get tough.

~SAT

And in case you haven’t entered the giveaway (and you want to), click this link to the photo below for your chance to win 1 of 3 ARCS of the new edition of Minutes Before Sunset. Clean Teen Publishing will be picking winners on my birthday! (Because what better way to celebrate?)  bel234

#MondayBlogs: Different Writing Techniques of Famous Writers

6 Apr

Intro:

I love info graphics. In fact, I’m a little obsessed with them. So, when Cindy Bates – a freelance editor and writer for Best Essay Tips – contacted me with her very own info graphic to share, I just knew I had to share it. Below, you’ll find a photo that outlines the Different Writing Techniques of Famous Writers.

Different Writing Techniques of Famous Writers 

Being a prolific and excellent writer is never easy. It took years to the world’s most famous and topnotch writers to be able to publish their work. For those who are aspiring to become one, possessing this skill does not happen overnight but you can definitely learn many things from famous writers. To improve your writing skills, constant practice is important. The best way to do this is to have your own journal. When you have your personal journal, you can freely write down your thoughts. You get to have your own space where you can express yourself without restraints and inhibitions. Apart from owning a journal, it is also known among famous writers that in order for you to be skilled in writing you also have to be a wide reader. By forming these habits, you can start having your own personal time for writing and to practice not just writing as a skill but as well as an art.

Writing techniques

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#SATurday: Turning Dreams into Stories

4 Apr

#SATurday: Turning Dreams into Stories

I hate alarm clocks. I don’t hate many things, but an alarm clock is one of them. Most of the time, I wake up without one – I have my entire life – and I truly believe it’s because my brain is wired to dislike the act of waking up to sudden (and normally blaring) music. It doesn’t matter if it’s my favorite song. I will end up hating the song if it wakes me up every morning. I wish I could like it – I do. The practical use of an alarm isn’t even debatable. Even though I wake up most mornings, I still have those instances where alarm clocks have come through for me and saved me from accidentally sleeping through my day. (Although…accidentally sleeping through my day sounds pretty nice right now…as long as I didn’t have any responsibilities…which I do…so that accident would be pretty awful, but the sleeping part sounds nice.)

Garfield

Garfield

Who doesn’t love sleep? It’s a magical thing. I used to hate that, though, too. If you’ve read any of my interviews, then you probably already know that I had night terrors as a child. And, occasionally, I still do. I also have vivid dreams and nightmares, but I’m finding more often than not that many writers do. Perhaps it’s our overactive imaginations. Perhaps the dreams caused our overactive imaginations. What comes first, the imagination or the dreams?

For me, I believe my dreams came first. Despite the fact that my parents rarely allowed me to watch TV (and had very strict rules about what I was allowed to watch), I had violent dreams. Terrifying dreams. Dreams that hologrammed themselves into the real world, even after I woke up. The first one I recall involved a cheetah. It chased me through a neighborhood (not a jungle), and right before it caught me, I woke up. But instead of my dream ending, I would still see it – lying in wait, sitting at the edge of my bed, half-hanging off the end. I remember its beady eyes blinking, reflecting light in my dark room.

Much to my dismay (and probably my parents’ as well), it kept repeating, and I was losing all hope until art class one day. I can’t say what grade I was in. I can’t recall the teacher’s name. I can’t even – positively – say it was art class. I only remember the art supplies surrounding us, so that’s why I assume my location, but the teacher was telling us about nightmares. And, again, I can’t remember why, but I do remember focusing, listening to her every word.

Her nephew had a reoccurring dream. Every night, a lion chased him through the jungle. I was envious his dreams took him to exotic places – unlike mine – but his lion did something my cheetah didn’t. It ate him.

Now – it didn’t eat him the first time. Our teacher explained that the nephew kept having the dreams until he consciously decided he would stop running in his dreams, turn around, and face the lion. He did. And the lion ate him…And the lion never came again.

I went home, thinking I had finally found the solution to my own nightmare. I was truly excited, ready to be eaten, and I went to bed that night with new hope. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work out. I stopped, the cheetah killed me (I assume), and I woke up only for the next morning to have it happened again. My dream repeated itself for a few weeks. (Or maybe it was only few days – time is longer the younger you are). But it repeated, nevertheless, and I never defeated it like my art teacher’s nephew did. Instead, my cheetah slowly faded away, replaced by a T-Rex, then replaced by a murderer.

I don’t believe my dreams have ever stopped. It’s every other night that I dream of something violent, and on rare occasions, I can turn one of my dreams into a story. I can meet a character or see a situation or visit a new world – although I have yet to visit a jungle – and I can take readers there by sharing words on paper.

Those dreams aren’t so scary anymore. In fact, overtime, I think I learned to embrace them and learn from them and explore them and create with them – like my dreams were the real art class all along. And who wants an alarm clock to go off in the middle of class?

~SAT

P.S. If you missed it, here is my live interview with Jonas Lee. We spoke about knives, coffee, Clue, and writing tips.

And just to REALLY switch your Saturday up, I have finally returned to my YouTube Channel – Coffee and Cats – so feel free to ask any question on the video and I’ll be answering them during my next video.

#WW The Doubtful Writer – Who Says I Can Do This?

1 Apr

SURPRISE – This is not an April Fool’s joke

Clean Teen Publishing is hosting a Goodreads Giveaway April 1 – June 23. On June 23 – coincidentally on my birthday – three ARCs of Minutes Before Sunset will be given away to lucky and awesome readers (such as yourself). Enter here or below.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon A. Thompson

Minutes Before Sunset

by Shannon A. Thompson

Giveaway ends June 23, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

#WW The Doubtful Writer – Who Says I Can Do This?

This first paragraph is more or less an intro, but I feel like it was important to add it. I don’t normally have an intro for my posts, but this one wasn’t written in my usual, positive self. I wrote it about two weeks ago, which – coincidentally – was also the same day of the anniversary of my mother’s death. It has been 12 years since she passed, but the day still affects me in many ways, and I had a day full of doubt. I wrote down how I felt about it, and since I know many writers have many days full of doubts, I decided I wanted to share it on here. Hopefully, it allows fellow writers to feel less alone, more normal, and accepting toward an array of other emotions I think we’ve all had at one point. The photo you see below is of my father and my mother. It’s one of my favorite photos of them, and if you follow me on Facebook, then you already know how much these two people have influenced me by encouraging me to follow my dreams. Encouragement is a never-ending type of love.

parents

I’m having one of those days – you know them, I’m sure. The days where we doubt ourselves can seem like the longest, most dreadful days. I am already counting the seconds between now and tomorrow, knowing that I will, most likely, feel better tomorrow, but for this singular moment in time, I am writing out how I feel because writing has always helped me slow down those overwhelming emotions that drown you with fear and frustration and frivolous ideas like, “why did I ever think I could do this anyway?”

I don’t think I’ve ever believed I could do this – this writing thing – but then again, I’m not sure it’s about thinking you can do something but rather doing it anyway and trying to do your best every day, even during the days where you question it. I love writing. I love sharing my writing with readers. I love connecting with fellow writers and readers. I love everything that revolves around words and sharing them. That’s what matters. And most days, that’s enough to push me forward, but hard days still happened.

I can’t remember the last time I felt this unsure, but I’m sure I had another day just like this not too long ago. I’m only 23 years old, after all. Any life experience in writing I can think of is probably (at most) a little over a decade away. I, hopefully, have many more decades to go, but I know I’ve always believed I don’t have many decades in front of me at all. Perhaps it stems from watching three of my grandparents, three dogs, and my mother die before I was a teenager. I just can’t bring myself to believe in a long and prosperous life, so I’ve focused all of my attention on a meaningful one, no matter how long or prosperous it could be.

I’m uncharacteristically sad today, but that knowledge doesn’t lessen the depression much more. I normally write about continuing forward and confidence and love and a peaceful state of mind. I want this website to be a cheerful place, an encouraging place, and I promise I’m still trying to bring out the inspiration for the day.

There will be days that doubt takes over. There might even be weeks or seasons or years. But there will be another good day if you let it come, and there will always be more to say, to think about, to write about. It’s a matter of picking up that pen, accepting the doubt, and writing down your words anyway. It’s a matter of doing exactly this – expressing it, even if you don’t know if you should – and moving forward into the future, knowing you’re one word closer to meeting a new goal.

My goal today was to continue forward, no matter how much doubt suddenly rushed into me, and I did, and I will, and I do so by reminding myself of the love and passion that goes into my writing career as well as all of my readers who’ve shown support and care to me.

We stick together, and we keep our pens up until we run out of ink.

(And when we run out of ink, we walk to the nearest CVS and pick up more pens.)

Thank you for loving me – I love you in the same way I love this peace that has come by sharing it.

~SAT

servicesAlso, who else is looking forward to writing during the rainy month of April? 

Personally, I write at night, but during the day, I help authors find readers and interviewers. I also edit manuscripts and manage social media accounts. I can even create promo photos for you.

Feel free to check out my services as well as some reviews.

Message me at shannonathompson@aol.com if you have any questions – or even just to say hi!

Website Wonders

28 Mar

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 March’s Website Wonders categorized into Readers, Writers, Coffee Drinkers, and Cute Fun. If you enjoy these websites, be sure to like my Facebook page because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Enjoy!

Readers:

Neil deGrasse Tyson Selects the Eight Books Every Intelligent Person on the Planet Should Read: A lot of these books are for free too.

100 Legal Sites to Download Literature

The Best Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2012: A flashback

Writers:

How “Strong Female Characters” still end up weak and powerless (Or, Do they pass the action figure test?) A great article that debates all sides of the “strong” female character

 75+ Paid Writing Opportunities: Because writers can get paid too. 

32 Of The Most Beautiful Words In The English Language: Nefarious has a cat.

Billy Wilder’s Rules for Screenwriters: Yes, screenwriters. I think of you too.

10557215_804346322967523_6886263204870891271_nCoffee Drinkers:

Innovative Alarm Clock Wakes Users with Freshly Brewed Coffee:Who doesn’t need this?

Coffee Jokes: Why are men all like coffee?

Cute fun:

Japan’s Fox Village: The cutest place on earth.

21 Adorable Pictures Of Babies Chilling With Their Kitty Cat Companions: So cute, I died.

There you have it! I hope you enjoyed these website wonders! See you with more next month!

~SAT

In case you missed my LIVE interview today at 11 a.m. (CDT) on Google+ with author, Jonas Lee. Here is the video:

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