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When to Stop Writing

26 Oct

When to Stop Writing

This post is inspired by a comment that happened on my Facebook Author Page recently. The other day, writer – Angie Neto – asked me a fantastic question I’m sure all writers can relate to:

“Were you nervous when you published your first novel? I have edited, rewritten and changed chapters so many times now and still doing last minute searches for errors. When do you say enough?”

My Facebook answer:

“I still get nervous. I think that’s natural. You’re working hard to share your intellectual creation. It’s nerve-racking, knowing you will be judged off of it, but it’s well worth it. But I do think – at some point – you have to step away and have beta readers and editors deal with it, and eventually, you have to turn the manuscript in, and one day, you have to know you can’t change anything anymore (even though you’ll be dying to!)”

Special shout out to Angie Neto! Because of this conversation, I wanted to expand on this topic. That being said, I believe writing is always unique to the writer. Hemingway liked to drink while writing. I couldn’t write drunk if I wanted to. But I have been found writing in a dark closet before. (Don’t ask.) So I want to take a moment to share three times that I stop writing.

1. When I’ve spent WAY too much time editing and re-editing and re-editing

I’m only starting with this one because that was the main reason of writing this post. Editing is vital. Don’t get me wrong. But it can also be destructive, and I know this because I’ve been there before. I’ve hauled myself page over page over page over year over year – only to realize I’ve been editing this manuscript to death. At this point, I’ve basically butchered the entire manuscript because I’ve sliced my confidence apart a million times. What I mean to say…well, let me describe a sad recollection of events: Shannon writes book, Shannon edits book halfway through, Shannon decides to rewrite the entire script, Shannon edits that book, Shannon edits it again, Shannon edits again, Shannon still finds the wrong “you’re” in a sentence, and Shannon breaks down about how awful of a writer she could be to miss such an editing mistake five times in a row, and now Shannon believes the entire manuscript is this way, so she deletes it and starts over…Do not – and I repeat – DO NOT do this to yourself. Edit it as many times as you want to, but always remember that other editors are out there for a reason. Let them assess it. Let them help you. Breathe. Put down the red pen. It will be okay. If we don’t learn when to stop editing, we will – literally – never stop editing. A manuscript is like a person. It will never be perfect. The imperfections give it character. (Just don’t give it too much character if you know what I mean.)

notestop

 2. When I’m physically ill

Sadly, I do not mean that I have the flu. I can admit that I – in fact – have found a pen in my hand when I was bedridden. Safe? Healthy? Probably not. But I’m a writing addict. That being said, I don’t actually mean to say the flu is the problem. The problem is when I CAUSE the flu to happen in the first place because I’ve stressed myself out so much over writing that I stop taking care of myself and – in turn – I get ill. Stress ill. Headaches and body pains from sitting at my desk for too long ill. Don’t do that to yourself. In this case, strain is not gain. Strain is sickness that will only put you behind schedule even more, and it will only cause more pain.

 3.  When I start losing my love for writing

I never lose my love for writing – not entirely anyway. But I do have days where I step back, and I realize that I am struggling. In fact, I can confess that I went through this yesterday. I’ve been so focused on the edits of Death Before Daylight that I have forgotten to give myself time to write in a current novel I am very much emotionally involved in. Don’t get me wrong. I’m involved in Death Before Daylight as well. Very involved. But working on something new is quite the refreshing energy boost that I need to keep powering through edits of a novel. Although I love editing, working on the same project for long periods of time can be draining, especially since I’m more focused on the publishing side of things rather than the writing side of things, so I have to return to the “just writing to write” part of me often because that part of me is the most important in terms of enjoying my writing. I only have to remind myself of that.

In the end, you might have noticed that I don’t necessarily “stop” writing. I simply change my focus of writing or a take a moment to step back in order to relax. In fact, I was very serious when I said I’m going through the last one right now. Between my car and my laptop breaking down this week, my stress level peaked (and not in a good way at all). Writing is my coping mechanism, but working on edits was the last thing I needed. I had to shelve Death Before Daylight, and I had to do what I wanted to do the most desperately, so I worked on a new novel I’ve referred to before on here as TGO, and I felt much better afterward – almost like I learned to breathe again, and in all honesty, I might have to do this again next week. I’m still not sure I’m over it. All that matters is getting back on my feet again one way or another.

Do you have any times that you stop writing?

Feel free to share below! It’s also that time again – expect Website Wonders and October’s Ketchup to be posting soon.

~SAT

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

The Sequel Can Wait

18 Oct

Announcements:

The third section of my interactive poetry series has begun, and you can read the first poem – Miscarriage – by clicking the title. Here are the opening lines:

If I hadn’t stepped outside, I would not

have seen the cloud buried deep in the approaching

storm I vaguely remembering hearing about.

(Vote, share, and comment for your chance to be mentioned during my next YouTube video.)

Special thanks goes out to The Incorrigible Reader for reviewing Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise, book 1 and book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy, here. Find out why she said, “I really did love this series! It was intriguing, exciting, romantic, and so hard to put down!’ 

Another huge thank you goes out to SDAV Reads for reviewing Take Me Tomorrow. She describes both the character development and the world-building, but here’s a quote, “So even amidst some very serious fights, explosions, and runaway escapes worthy of Doctor Who, there is a lot of time spent with the emotions of the characters so that you end up feeling as connected to them as you ought to. They’re very well developed…If you like Dystopic books, or even if you don’t and you just want a good thriller, Take Me Tomorrow is certainly one to add to your shelf!” Read her full review here.

And I am thanking one more book blogger – Note to Selph Book Reviews – for also reading Take Me Tomorrow. You can read her full review by clicking the link, but here is a quote from her, “The overall plot was intriguing and exciting, filled with plenty of action running from police and sneaking out at night.”

I cannot thank you all enough! Please check out my books by clicking these links: Minutes Before Sunset and Take Me Tomorrow. If you write a review, let me know, and I will be sure to share it right here!

The Sequel Can Wait:

Before anyone freaks out, no, this is not about the release dates of Take Me Yesterday or Death Before Daylight. Not entirely anyway. Instead, it’s rather about the pressure writers can put on themselves to get the next book out – and fast – and how destructive it can be to the entire writing (and reading) experience.

You see, I once heard that authors nowadays are expected to release a novel every six months. I’ve actually heard this more than once, but I believe one of the times was during a discussion author, Ryan Attard, had on his podcast, The Lurking Voice. He was simply discussing this trend, not necessarily agreeing with it. I want to clarify that because I think the idea of getting a novel out every six months is fantastic. It’s just extremely difficult, and it should not be expected. Ever.

A lot goes on behind the scenes in the publishing world. Writing isn’t even half of it. Content editing is completely different than line-editing, and a line edit is different than just an edit. Those are just three types of editing, not to mention formatting for both an eBook or a paperback or – god forbid – the hours that go behind an audio book. And cover art! Geez. I could go on forever, and I’m not even talking about the amount of hours, people, or cost behind it all (or the fact that most of these people have second jobs).

1280px-Old_paper

Don’t get me wrong. I think it is great if an author can get a book out every six months. It can be done, and it can, in fact, be professional. After all, four months passed between the release of Seconds Before Sunrise and Take Me Tomorrow (but that explanation is for another post). It can be done, and it can be done well, but that does not – by any means – mean that every author should do this. Unfortunately, especially in the Indie market, authors are often competing with one another (a rather ridiculous notion in itself, but moving on…) and I’ve seen a lot of arguments that authors can’t possibly release books that quickly.

Again, it can be done, but I think authors should pick their timelines based on nothing but themselves. Basing it on readers’ expectations can be really destructive. For instance, you might rush editing to meet a deadline, and now, there are more mistakes readers are picking out in your novels, but if you hadn’t been trying to meet a deadline, you might have been more careful.

I say this with great caution. I know that this topic can cause a lot of bad blood, but I am author, and I go through the pressures of releasing the next book every day. The pressures are mainly focused on three things: get it out quickly, efficiently, and professionally. I’ve lost sleep over it. I’ve worried I was going to lose readers if Death Before Daylight took an extra three months to release. I’ve given myself writer’s block over it. And let me tell you – it isn’t worth it.

How do I know this?

Well, to be quite honest, I don’t. I’m still learning, and I still mess up. I estimated that Death Before Daylight could be cut down to 80,000 words in content edits, and I’ve already surpassed it. That being said, this had added time to my timeline, so it will probably come out later than AEC has been anticipating, and I have been losing my little writer’s mind over it. I feel guilty, and a huge part of me feels irresponsible at timing, satisfying my readers, and estimating my work abilities. That is a hard pill to swallow. But it is even harder to realize it isn’t a pill I have to swallow. Things happen in this industry, and we must roll with the punches, and readers will, too.

In fact, the other day, one of my all-time favorite authors, Meg Cabot, announced she will be releasing book 7 of the Mediator in 2015. Just to let you all know, it has been 15 years since book 6 came out. 15. And you know what? Readers are ecstatic. I’m ecstatic. 15 years is nothing for a fan. Look at all the talk about Harry Potter coming back. That’s about 10 years, and everyone is practically begging for it. And The Mortal Instruments movie was canceled, but the T.V. show is coming out, and although some are reluctant, I think most fans will give it a shot.

Of course readers want the sequel now. I am a reader myself. I understand the anticipation. Waiting for City of Heavenly Fire was so painful I cannot even begin to describe the countdown on my iCalendar, but I still picked the book up when it finally did release, and I never held it against Cassandra Clare, and I will always be excited for the release of a sequel whenever it happens. But – sometimes – I forget that as an author. On the writer side of things, I tear myself down, but on the reader side, I am only filled with excitement, and I think every author can benefit by remembering the support readers feel for authors. That pressure to release the next book is not pressure. It is support. It is encouragement. It is an excited fan-base authors should be proud of, not worried about, and it is the next step to enjoying every release, no matter how long it takes.

No matter how much time passes, words are endless, and there will be someone to read them. 

~SAT

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

Why Are Parents Dead in Fiction?

24 Sep

Announcements:

ShannonAThompson.com hit 18,000 followers! As a surprise, I shared the meaning behind all the chapter titles in Take Me Tomorrow on my Facebook page. Every chapter title is actually a direct quote from the chapter you’re about to read. This is to represent the clairvoyant drug, tomo, since it allows takers to experience the future. For those who haven’t read the story, tomo does not necessarily give you clear visions. It affects all people and all senses differently. Sometimes, you hear it, taste it, smell it, or feel it. In fact, it’s hardly ever clear as to what is happening. Only those who are experienced with the drug are able to interpret what they are experiencing, and even then, everything is just a guess, and the drug itself is debatable. But the chapter titles aren’t! If you go through the novel you will see the titles later on in the prose. Chapter One – Don’t Come Back – is found in this quote, “My heart lurched at his sudden change in demeanor, but I managed a nod toward the north. The forest opened up to the only park Topeka still had. ‘Don’t come back.’”

When Eat Books For Breakfast reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, she said it “was definitely an intriguing read—different from most of the other books in its genre…I would recommend it to readers of young adult dystopian fiction.” Read the full review by clicking here or check out my latest novel here.

I would also like to take a moment to thank Dan Thompson for including Take Me Tomorrow in his post Two Books Are Better Than One. (And no, believe it or not, we’re not related.)

Thank you for reading my announcements today!

Why Are Parents Dead in Fiction?

The other day, I was sitting in a hookah house while attending an online event. (I don’t always have the Internet at home, so I go there to work.) That’s when a good friend of mine came up to keep me company, and I was telling him about a novel I am working on. The main character is an orphan. That’s when we got to talking.

Why are parents always dead or absent?

This isn’t a new conversation. I’ve had it with many people, mainly in regards to Disney movies, but I think it applies to most fiction, especially young-adult fiction, but I’ll get to why I think that in a minute. First, I would like to admit that my stories are no exception. The Timely Death Trilogy involves two protagonists – Eric’s biological mother committed suicide, and his father doesn’t have the best relationship with his son, while both of Jessica’s biological parents died in a car wreck, but she was adopted, and she does have a good relationship with her adoptive parents. In Take Me Tomorrow, Sophia’s father is practically absent due to his traveling job, and her mother hasn’t been in her life since she was seven, but she does live with a mother-sister figure named Lyn. Why did I do this? I can’t speak for every author when I explain my theories, but I will explain my personal reasons for deceased or absent parents as well as a hypothesis from the literary side. Before I continue, I want to clarify that I am (in general) talking about fiction for children and young adults.

Literary reason:

Coming-of-age is a popular topic among fiction for teens and preteens, mainly because they are going through it themselves. That being said, I think a huge factor of “coming-of-age” is finding yourself through independence. This is one of the main reasons I believe parents aren’t included in fiction, whether that is through death or absence, but another reason includes freedom. I know. I know. I sound horrible for saying freedom in regards to an absent parent, but I don’t mean “freedom” as a good thing. I mean it as a driving force for a character to venture outside of their home, to go on adventures, to strive to survive on their own. If they had a perfect family at home, this need for survival or adventure would be hard to justify. But I would like to point out one thing that others seem to forget to mention. Even if a character is an orphan or under other unfortunate circumstances, the character (usually) has a parental figure, and I think that is just as important as having a “real” parent in the story. To me, a “real” parent doesn’t have to give life to a child or adopt a child or anything in terms of a traditional definition. I believe a parent can be anyone who is the main guide and protector for a child. In that sense, I don’t believe we take parents out of fiction. I think we show readers that parents (guidance) can come from many places, which can be vital during a time in which young people are striving for independence outside the home.

From The Write Catch

From The Write Catch

Personal reason:

I am only including this section to give insight to an author’s reasoning behind it (rather than my above section that simply guesses as to why we find ourselves in those instances.) When it comes to dead or removed parents in fiction, I can relate to it. My mother died when I was 11, and my father was a traveling businessman. I hardly saw him growing up. In fact, I saw nannies more, and we never had the same one for long. Mainly because my brother and I were rather…well…angry might be the best way of saying it. The only time we did have another parent in the house was my stepmother, and she was only married to my dad for a year before they were divorced, and we definitely didn’t get along. Whew. Is that enough personal information? I don’t necessarily have a problem sharing it, even if it makes others uncomfortable, because it was my life. My life is much better now. But it’s hard for me to imagine a teenage-life with parents being actively involved, so I personally write about orphans or absent parents because that was my life growing up, and my characters are going to reflect certain parts of my life, even when I don’t realize it. That being said, I still believe that parents are in my fiction (like Lyn with Sophia in Take Me Tomorrow or Jessica’s adoptive parents in The Timely Death Trilogy, not to mention Eric’s stepmother.)

So where am I going with this?

Sometimes authors aren’t writing about orphans or neglected kids for literary reasons. Sometimes they are writing from their heart, and – in reality – I have met more teenagers who can relate to absent situations than not. Having a “perfect” family is…let’s be real…impossible. No one is perfect. Everyone is human. And families will reflect that both in life and in fiction.

The reason that parents are generally dead and/or absent is simple: it happens. But that doesn’t mean we can’t add more parents to story lines. In my little opinion, including them is just as fine as not including them as long as the author is being true to the story.

Feel free to comment below with your reasons or thoughts on this topic! I know we’ve all at least read a novel or seen a Disney movie that includes this debate, so chat away,

~SAT

10 Things Authors Worry About

20 Sep

Announcements: 

The next section of my interactive poetry series on Wattpad has begun! You can read the first poem – The grave of my teenage daughter – by clicking the link. Remember to vote, comment, and/or share for your chance to be mentioned during my next YouTube video.

In other news, Star-crossed Book Blog reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, and she included excerpts and viewpoints on the characters. Read the full review by clicking here, but here’s a small quote, “Noah was a mystery that I enjoyed unraveling. He was broken, dark and even though he never showed it, I couldn’t help but feel as though he was suffocating from having the weight of the world on his shoulders.” Click here to check out Take Me Tomorrow on Amazon.

10 Things Authors Worry About:

One of my more popular posts has always been Being a Writer: Pros and Cons. So much so that I even receive emails about it to this day – mainly from aspiring writers who want a little more detail about an author’s lifestyle. That’s why I got to thinking about this topic, and that is also why I thought it would be fun to share some of those pesky worries authors can go through on a regular basis. Honestly? I probably could’ve gone on forever, but here are ten topics I’ve had a giggle at to start the conversation:

1. Is my title catchy enough? – This is my first one because I dealt with this while writing this piece. In all honestly, this should be titled “things I worry about as an author” but…A. That’s too long. B. Using “I” is generally frowned upon because…A. It’s self-centered B. It subconsciously removes readers from the center of the piece; therefore, taking down your chances of being clicked, read, and commented on. (This is true. Google it.) And let me just point out that this is just a blog post. Titling a novel is even scarier! That’s when even more questions arise: does it make sense, does it represent my novel, will readers enjoy it, is it eye-catching, how will it look on a cover? Even worse: how will it look like on a spine or as a thumbnail? Just. Title. Me. (and by “title” I truly mean “hit”)

2. Can I stare at this picture of myself forever? – Generally in reference to whatever photo we decide to use for various purposes, including our websites, business cards, and book covers. I don’t care how awesome someone looks or how stunning a photographer makes you look, seeing the same photo day-after-day-month-after-year is really strange (and borderline creepy). It is almost like staring in the mirror too long. Eventually, you start thinking, “Do I really look like that? Is that how people see me?” Ah! I just want to hide my face in a book.

3. Are my characters (fill in the blank)? – Too happy, conceded, whiny, or – the worst one – flat. It’s this solid shadow of worry that is impossible to forget.

4. What am I doing wrong? – Okay. Okay. This is just a question that I’m sure everyone has about numerous things in their life, but I feel like this question represents so much for authors. Why are my rankings so low? Why haven’t I gotten more reviews yet? How can I connect further with my darling readers? Everything is lined with this “I know I can do better, but first I need to know what I’m doing wrong so I can improve” and it slowly becomes this obsession of Googling for advice and begging fellow authors for some sort of know-it-all secret, but it results in one thing: you’ll get better. And you slam your forehead on your desk because you know they’re right.

5. Ratings, Reviews, and Rankings (Oh! And sales!) – Even if we try our hardest to ignore them, they are often discussed within the writing community. I can admit that I try to pay attention to everything – especially the reviews my readers post, because I look at it this way: if they are going to take the time to read and review my book (not to mention send me a link), I am definitely going to take the time to read their thoughts. Thanking them is the least I can do. That being said, this combination of numbers and scales can be just as exhausting and discouraging as it can be enthralling and encouraging, so there’s definitely a careful line we have to keep in mind if we’re going to keep our minds on these things, and I definitely don’t recommend that every author pay attention to these things. It’s completely up to the author’s personal preferences, especially in terms of whether or not someone can just have fun with it. (But that’s a different discussion entirely…that I’m already planning on posting about in the near future).

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6. What am I going to do in 2017? – Yes. 2017. I don’t know about many authors, but I think a lot of authors have year-long plans if not longer plans as to what they want to work on, release, and distribute next. While we’re publishing one novel, we’re probably already writing another one, and we might be writing a second one when we’re on break. It takes years to write and publish, so writers’ lives are generally planned out a year in advance. It can get overwhelming sometimes, especially when you want to fit in a new project or change directions entirely.

7. When will I write next? – As contradicting as this can be, a writers publication calendar can be set for a year or three, but finding time to write or edit or a number of other writerly things is entirely up to the writer and their personal life. Wait. I’m open from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. next Thursday? Not anymore. #amwriting

8. Am I reading enough? Am I writing enough? – Reading and writing go hand-in-hand into the sunset…while riding separate horses…that sometimes like the go in different directions. Balancing two passions can be hard, sometimes impossibly difficult, but we find a way.

9. Am I writing for fun enough? – Much like the above issue, it can go hand-in-hand with simply writing, but writing with deadlines can sometimes take that original fun out of it, and even authors need to take time to write something silly they never have to worry about releasing or sharing with four editors and the world.

10. Social Media – It was the best of nights and it was the worst of nights. I love it, and – sometimes – I do hate it. (Please don’t tell social media that.) It can be repetitive, and it can be so exciting that you fall off your desk chair and your cat leaps five feet in the air due to your sudden movements. Even then, your eyes can only stare at that little glowing screen for so long before you have to step away and remember what real-life colors look like without an alien illumination behind them. I can still love how it connects me with you all, though, and I enjoy speaking with everyone in the comments below, but I also worry about whether or not you’ll enjoy my next article, my approaching poem, or my non-HD video. (Sorry, a writer’s life isn’t always a rich life. I can’t afford HD yet, even though you all deserve it!) But I try to push my worries away, so I can fully enjoy the ride.

Let’s enjoy this ride together! Comment below, and we’ll chat about what you worry about as a reader or writer. Honorable mentions go to editing, mistakes that make it through editing, and other writer problems we all tweet about.

~SAT

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