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#WW: Can We Stop Hating on E.L. James and Stephenie Meyer?

1 Jul

Can We Stop Hating on E.L. James and Stephenie Meyer?

Seriously. Are we over it yet? Surely, we can find something better to do by now—like talking about authors you love instead of the ones you hate.

I get it. I do. A lot of people had issues with the content of these stories, and they feel that they must express what was wrong with it and why. Don’t get me wrong. I deeply support you stating your opinion. What I don’t support is things like this:

The Twitter Live Chat with ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ author E.L. James Did Not Go Well. But since this article shows the “nicer” tweets, try going to Twitter and typing in #AskELJames. It’s horrendous.

There is a time and a place and a way to talk about what you disagree with and what you dislike. Take this article, for instance. Instead of bombarding a fan Q&A, these tweeters could’ve emailed her, written a review, posted on a blog, or a million other things, but instead, they took time away from her fans just because they don’t like/agree with her work. I don’t care if you agree with her work or not. This is the author equivalent of being a heckler at a comedic show. You showed up just to ruin it for everyone else just because you don’t like it. It’s like showing up at a movie theater and playing loud music so no one can enjoy the movie just because you find it offensive. It’s just noise. Again, I have nothing wrong with someone stating they do not like someone/something, but there is a time and place. At a fan Q&A is neither the time nor the place.

It’s moments like this that are causing a dramatic change in the publishing industry, and it terrifies me. More and more authors are retreating from social media completely (and, in turn, their fans), including people like John Green, who was recently accused of being a child molester just because he writes for teens.

Didn’t see that?

Well, here’s an article for you: ‘Fault in Our Stars’ author John Green launches furious attack on Tumblr users for accusing him of sexual abuse and being a pedophile. Keep in mind this is the man who wrote about cancer in The Fault in Our Stars, life and death in Looking For Alaska, and friendship in the novel and the upcoming movie, Paper Towns.

While we’re at it, here’s an article from the infamous Cassandra Clare about why she left social media for a while. ‘Mortal Instruments’ Creator Reveals How Female Authors Can be ‘Dehumanized’ by their own Fandom. Spoiler Alert: People were harassing her.

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By now, I hope my article’s title has gone beyond Stephenie Meyer and EL James, but I had to use their names because it seems—to me—that everyone loves to hate them, and no one sees that there are hundreds of other authors going through the same thing, because—unfortunately—it has become a trend. This sort of behavior does nothing but damage writers and readers alike. Again, I understand wanting to educate readers—but write an article. Write a review. Email the author directly. (Most have an email, and by the sounds of 50 Shades, EL James is probably a fan of email.) Talk to your friends, even. You know what? Go ahead and tweet your disagreements too, but try not to during a time set aside for fans. Put yourself in their shoes. What if you were at a book signing for your favorite author and it got canceled because someone showed up with a microphone shouting obscenities just because they didn’t like your favorite author? What if you FINALLY got to meet J.K. Rowling and someone was there, screaming about witchcraft and the devil the whole time? It just isn’t cool or fair or getting anyone anywhere.

On top of that, it should not be acceptable for people to tweet, “Has your husband killed himself yet?” for ANY reason. (This was a real tweet sent to EL James.) We should not support tweeters who make fun of disorders, like mental health issues, just because they want to make fun of an author (or anyone for that matter). I wish I could quote who said this (so please comment if you know because I cannot find it), butthere is a difference between criticism of a work and abuse of a human being.” And we should not just brush this off as “That’s the Internet nowadays.”

It doesn’t have to be.

The Internet can be as positive as we make it.

It starts with us.

Tweet about who you love. Go to their Q&As. Represent yourself well. And if you dislike something, email them, tell your friends, write an informative article. Hell, tweet to them during another time that isn’t meant for fans, and definitely don’t dehumanize an author (or anyone).

But for freakin sake,

Stop being a troll

~SAT

P.S. Just to reiterate an important part: It’s okay to dislike something and to express that dislike. I just feel like there is a time and place to state such things, like tweeting during a time that isn’t meant for fans. I also believe there is a way to express yourself. Ex. “I dislike this because a, b, and c.” rather than “You’re a pedophile for writing for teens, John Green.”

I’m afraid more and more authors are going to leave the social realm completely if things do not change. That is why I wrote this article—to encourage a more positive social environment on the Internet before everyone gives up and leaves. I truly believe it begins with us. It begins with expressing your dislikes in a meaningful way, but it grows when you share the authors you love more than talking about the ones you hate. Everything begins with love, and I love this industry more than anything.

P.S. OMG. (Can I say OMG? Can I? Just this one, little time? Please?)

We’re officially in July! 

Minutes Before Sunset releases in 27 days on July 28, 2015! 

Today is also the LAST day to enter the Goodreads Giveaway, but you can also pre-order Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, and Seconds Before Sunrise, book 2, by clicking the links.

Stay tuned. Stay Dark. ~SAT

Pre-order today!

Pre-order today!

#WW Finding Your Style as a Writer

24 Jun

#WW Finding Your Style as a Writer

So, I just turned 24 yesterday. That means, I’m 113 in cat years (according to this calculator.) Since I’m 113, I thought I’d share some of my personal, cat lady wisdom, and by “personal” wisdom, I mean self-awareness in regards to my writing style. (Plus, a good portion of you have let me know you’d like to hear more about my writing and what goes on behind it, so I thought this was a good excuse to share some information about how I’ve gone about writing novels . . . a little extra insight, so to speak.) That’s why I’m going to splurge a little bit. While this looks like a long post, it’s really divided into two parts: Finding Your Style and Aspects of my Style that I Figured Out

Feel free to read one or both.

Finding Your Style

This July, my first novel—November Snow—was published eight years ago. Eight years. (49 years in cat years.) I’ve definitely learned a lot since then, but one of the things that took the most time was figuring out my “style.”

We hear that word a lot. STYLE. It is normally followed up with “finding your voice.” And all those years back, this entire conversation would’ve freaked me out. It made me feel inadequate—mainly because I could not pinpoint my “style” or “voice.” Now, that I’m a couple novels deep, I get it, and I’ll tell you a secret.

And we're writing...

And we’re writing…

It will happen naturally—so naturally, you won’t even realize it—so don’t worry yourself silly. (Us authors are good at that.)

But here’s the other side of that token: Not only is it different for everyone but also discovering it is different for everyone. It takes a level of self-analysis, but that’s just my little opinion. For me, it took a couple of novels and a large amount of readers to point out a few reoccurring themes for me to realize that there was a pattern to my writing. That pattern was my voice and style. Basically, pay attention to what beta readers and reviewers are saying. You might learn something about yourself. But it’s also important to decipher that pattern:

What is you (your voice and style) vs What is other (maybe the genre, for instance)?  

In order to explain what I mean, I want to share what I learned personally over the last eight years. Since a lot of what I learned came from beta readers, many of the works I’ll reference aren’t published yet. While I will refer to my published works as November Snow, Minutes Before Sunset, Seconds Before Sunrise, Death Before Daylight (The Timely Death Trilogy), and Take Me Tomorrow (The Tomo Trilogy), my unpublished works will still go by their abbreviations. If you’re a beta reader, you’ll recognize the titles: HBBL, TGO, D, TMG, S.

What is other?

These are themes that happen because they simply work for whatever reason. For instance, there are dances in both Minutes Before Sunset and Take Me Tomorrow, which caused a few readers to think I have a thing for dances. I do and I don’t. I mean, who doesn’t love a good dance scene? (Insert my love for a cheesy trope.) But while it’s cheesy in Minutes Before Sunset, it’s rather chaotic and uncomfortable in Take Me Tomorrow. There isn’t a single dance in November Snow either. (Sorry.) But there is one in HBBL and in TMG…but not one in TGO or D or S. And all of the dances happen under very different circumstances. That being said, there’s a larger factor to consider here. The characters’ ages. Most of my characters are young adults. They are in high school or some form of high school, and high schools—more often than not—have dances. So, it’s not just about me liking them. They happen naturally. They work with the story and with the lives of the characters. This isn’t technically my voice. This is the genre or the setting. It happens, not because of me, but because of the circumstances.

What is you?

These are themes that happen because of me being me (or you being you). These are your life experiences, your character, seeping through your words. For instance, in many of my novels, you’ll probably always see a character who struggles with memories. Mainly because I struggle with memory loss, although I’m not quite to the point in my life where I’m very open about that. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve publically stated I struggle with memory loss. But it is a part of my identity as a person, so it will more than likely be seen in my novels one way or another. For instance, the second book of The Timely Death Trilogy, Seconds Before Sunrise, has A LOT of memory loss. It’s practically the central theme. The Tomo Trilogy is that way to some extent as well, but you don’t see the effects of it until the second novel, Take Me Yesterday. That being said, memory loss doesn’t appear in anything else. Not HBBL, not TGO, not D, not TMG, not even S…okay, wait. No. S has a stupid amount of memory loss. But you get my point. Even when some themes come from my personal struggles, they don’t always show up in my work. But here’s the difference: memory loss affects the voice of the character. It affects the vocabulary used and the emotions involved. It develops everything else and with everything else. The difference with “other”—in my opinion—is “other” just happens. (The dance discussed above, for instance, was an event in the novel that pushed the novel forward, but the dance itself did not affect the character’s overall personality.) The “you” is your style because it is your unique voice, your vocabulary, your way of explaining.

The “you” is the way you write about the dance; the “other” is the dance happening. 

Aspects of My Style I Figured Out:

Now that that has been said and done, I thought it would be fun to show three other ones that I’ve realized about my style. This is really just for my readers who might want to get a larger grasp on who I am as a writer and what future novels might entail, as well as why current novels are the way they are:

Perspectives:

While I generally write my novels in dual first POV—like Eric and Jessica telling The Timely Death Trilogy or Daniel and Serena telling November Snow—I do have exceptions. For instance, the only POV in The Tomo Trilogy is Sophia Gray (although I have admitted changing that in a possible future rewrite, but I probably won’t.) This happens because I love writing in first POV and I love writing from both a male’s perspective and a female’s perspective. Fun fact: I actually prefer writing from a male’s perspective.

Family structure: I grew up in an unusual household. At first, it was the “normal” household: two parents, two kids, one dog. All-American, you know? But then my mom died. And then I had a stepmother and three stepsiblings. And then my father divorced. And then it was just my brother, my father, and I. So, you’re going to see a lot of different types of families in books, but I can also admit that you’ll probably rarely see a mother-daughter relationship. Not that I can’t do it. I can. But I would rather explore other relationships in fiction. In fact, I remember as a reader after my mother died, I wished there were more novels where daughters were close to their fathers or brothers. So, you’ll see more of that in my work. But there are exceptions. On a side note, I also write about orphans a lot, mainly because my mom died and my dad traveled, so I was often alone as a kid. I find a lot of comfort in writing about characters would had to be independent.

Violence vs Romance: I’m a violent writer. The Timely Death Trilogy is actually my least violent work, and if you get a chance to read the first few chapters of Death Before Daylight, keep that in mind. It’s still lighter. November Snow is often seen as my most violent. Why? I used to wonder about this myself, and I think I just realized why recently, but that’s probably for another post in the future. (Hello, July.) In contrast, I find romance difficult to write about. I dread writing kissing scenes. I think I get weirded out because I feel like I’m being a Peeping Tom on another couple . . . and I’m being a Peeping Tom who is writing about it. It gives me the heeby jeebies. That being said, every single one of my novels have a romantic factor in them. HBBL is probably my only romance-romance, and I doubt that I’ll write another novel that is just romanced based again. I like dystopian. I like sci-fi and fantasy. I like the plot to be character-oriented and action-orientated and in a new world. Love just falls into the slots.

I know this post has been longer than usual, but I’m trying to listen to what you all have expressed wanting to see! I hope you enjoyed seeing a little more in-depth information about my life and work. Maybe it’ll also help you analyze your own writing to see if there are certain themes that correlate with your voice as a writer. Or maybe you’re just a reader and learned something new about my stories. Either way, thank you for reading!

~SAT

#MondayBlogs: 6 Must-Have Tools/Apps For All The Writers And Editors Out There

22 Jun

Intro:

Being a writer is tough work, but there are ways to make writing easier on you. Today’s guest blogger, Ashley Sanford, is listing just some of the many tools writers can use to improve their writing. Whether these tools help organize you, keep you focused, or edit your grammar, these tools are bound to help some writers out there! So, if you’ve used one, let us know what you think, and if you haven’t used one, let us know which ones sound like something you would use. And—of course—if you have any additional tools you know about, tell us about them.

6 Must-Have Tools/Apps For All The Writers And Editors Out There by Ashley Sanford

As easy as it may sound to some people, writing is a difficult task and requires complete dedication of the writer. While you need a certain level of interest and skills to become a good writer or an editor, there are various apps and tools available on the internet which can help you make your life more convenient and efficient as a writer.

So, let’s not waste any more time and check out the following productive tools:

1. Google Docs

Google Docs is definitely the most popular app among writers around the world because this is a complete package that any writer can ask for. With Google Docs, you can create content in any manner you want. Insert pictures, flowcharts, tables or simply change the style of writing with just a few simple steps. Google docs provide the writers and editors with a facility to write and edit their content anywhere or anytime, at their own discretion.

2. Focus Writer

The on-screen and off-screen distractions play a major role in distracting away the writer. While it is easy to tackle off-screen distractions like noises, television, etc., it becomes difficult for certain writers to pay close attention and type their thoughts with a colorful screen. So, if you are looking for just a plain canvas for writing, then this is just the right tool for you. It also provides features like alarm, goal setting, sound effects and timer so that you can organize your work or projects and do things more efficiently.

3. AutoCrit

This is a must-have tool for all writers, especially editors. You can use this tool for free, though a premium account is also available. With just a single click, you can check everything in your content and correct it right away without having to read each and every word carefully as it helps highlighting the problematic areas in the manuscript. You can easily edit and remove grammatical mistakes, over-used words and other mistakes with this tool efficiently.

4. Peak Dissertation

Don’t let the name fool you! Be it a novel, creative write-up or a dissertation, you can let your transcripts proofread and edited by a professional via this service. The service is ideal for people who find it a bit difficult to do editing on their own. Regardless, with this resource at your disposal you can get your projects polished to perfection whenever you want.

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5. Merriam Webster

Sometimes, the biggest problem a writer may face is the selection of words that will be best suitable to describe his idea. So, get this app right now if you do not want to waste your productive time brainstorming the right words. This free app is by far the most convenient way to finding the right words that help you convey your message to the readers in the best possible manner.

6. Evernote

This is a very popular app among writers and editors who want to do things in a well-organized manner, and on-the-go. You can save relevant pictures, screenshots, write even the lengthiest notes and search for your required document easily within the app with a search option anytime as per your need. All you need to do is sign in from your account, and you can access your entire collection of content, pictures and notes from any computer, anywhere in the world.

7. Hemingway

Editing is indeed an intimidating task that editors have to do for ensuring the quality of their content. With quite a few apps available in the market to facilitate editors, Hemingway is an outstanding one with its great features and accuracy. All you need to do is to copy paste the desired content on this app and let it find mistakes for you. It points out all the sentences that do not make any sense or those that contain over-used words. Plus, it can identify any grammatical mistakes in your work.

Once, you know how and when to use online tools and apps to facilitate your writing or editing, you will realize how easy and manageable your work can become. So, it is indeed a wise idea to take a look at all tools and pick the one according to your nature of work.

Bio:

Ashley Sanford leads the team of content developers. Apart from content development, she’s also fairly talented at art and designs, and she loves to roam Art museums in her country.

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

#WW The Joy of Progress Bars

17 Jun

#WW The Joy of Progress Bars

If you’ve been with me for a while, you might remember when I used to have a progress bar on the right side of my website. I no longer have one, but I’ll talk about that in a minute. Since I no longer have on, my progress bar revolved around my current writing projects. Generally, I had two novels at once, and I included the status (ex. Editing) as well as the estimated release date. I have samples below, but I mainly outlined when my novels were being written, edited, and formatted until the release date. That being said, I loved having progress bars on my website, and I encourage every writer to at least try it for three months. Why?

1. It’s interactive with readers!

A progress bar keeps your readers up-to-date. Not only do they know where you are in your work but they can also talk to you about where you are. Everyone can be a part of the process now, and as a reader myself, I think it’s exciting to see all the steps as they happen. Want to know if I’m editing? Want to know if I’m reviewing edits? Now you know, and you can know where I’m at during every step of the process as the weeks pass. It builds up all that hype, and you can celebrate every milestone with your readers! This is actually the reason I started doing it. When I began receiving regular emails about my current status with my next novel, I wanted to find a way to keep everyone updated by just visiting my website, and it worked wonders for everyone! We could chat whenever we wanted about where we were at and skip the questions so we could go directly to celebrating progress.

Progress from June 3, 2014 - September 28, 2013

Progress from June 3, 2014 – September 28, 2014

2. It reminds writers of how far they’ve come

I definitely recommend progress bars to new writers because it will help you from getting discouraged. At first, it won’t seem like a lot, but when you see your bars over months right next to one another, you can see how much you are accomplishing, and that’s a great feeling! It can help you set goals and encourage yourself. But be warned. Some writers have the opposite feelings about bars. They feel discouraged, like they aren’t moving forward, and it sometimes puts too much pressure on writers, so while it works for many—it’s fun for me—it has also felt worse for others. So, figure out what type of writer you are. If you love writing goals, this might be for you. If you love keeping track of your word count, this might be for you. But if writing goals and word count makes you shrink away from your computer screen, I wouldn’t do it. I would just write.

So why don’t I have one anymore?

Well, I probably will again soon! Honestly, though, I deleted mine when my old publisher closed down because I knew I couldn’t update anyone. Now that I’m back in the swing of things, I will probably keep everyone updated on my writing progress with November Snow and other projects as we move forward. If you want to try one, I make mine via PicMonkey. It’s simple and free—and fun! I love looking back on mine, and I love looking forward to new ones.

What about you? Have you ever tried a progress bar? Would you ever consider trying one?

~SAT

#MondayBlogs Do You ‘Take’ Your Characters With You When You’re In The Outside World?

15 Jun

Intro:

As an author, I spend a lot of my free time on the computer. In fact, between my editing job and my writing time, I spend almost ALL my time on my computer. But you still have to get off the laptop sometimes and explore the world. This is what our guest blogger is discussing today. Author Marcia Carrington talks about how important it is to seek inspiration outside of the computer-sphere. If you’re an author, tell us about stepping away from your work and what that means to you. But first and foremost, let’s welcome Marcia!

Do You ‘Take’ Your Characters With You When You’re In The Outside World? By Marcia Carrington

This is something that I often do whenever I’m not at home, that is, I could be at the mall, waiting at a doctor’s surgery, in line at the supermarket, or at some other such place. I often find that my mind wanders to either characters from stories I’m presently writing or stories that I propose to write and a concept has been gnawing away at me. What will happen to these characters? In which direction should I take them? Would this be a good idea for a story? These are the kinds of questions that pose themselves when I’m out and about.

Maple leaves in Autumn provided by Marcia

Maple leaves in Autumn provided by Marcia

To be honest, I never take any kind of computer with me whenever I’m out of the home, as I find that my mind can wander freer outside, and there are many inspirations that can be experienced. The people you meet, the things you do, the places you go, could all trigger ideas and concepts that you never thought possible, or help you to take a story in another direction.

There is also another associated benefit to leaving the home sphere and going outside into the world. I have found in the past that when I am in the throes of writing and the ideas are becoming stagnant or non-existent in my mind, staying inside can be detrimental. Leaving the home, and going outside into the world, brings a freshness, a change to the mind and body that can definitely assist with writing.

Bio:

Marcia Carrington writes about the human condition, exploring what makes people tick, but in an upbeat and optimistic tone. She is an interested observer of popular culture, and fan of cinema from all eras and countries, especially from the 1930-1970s. Marcia is a long-time soap opera viewer, watching daytime, and night time serials from a very young age.

Marcia is also a food connoisseur, with a particular love of chocolate, and coffee. The morning coffee has always been a staple for Marcia, and something which she cannot do without. There is just something about the fresh aroma of coffee early in the morning, and anytime for that fact, which proves irresistible to her.

SmashwordsTwitterGoodreadsAmazon US,

Barnes and NobleI-TunesBlogPinterest

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: The Timely Death Trilogy Prequel and Contest

13 Jun

The Timely Death Trilogy Prequel and Contest

There’s so much I want to do as an author. I want to talk to readers more and travel more. (Something I talked about last Saturday.) But I also want to give YOU more. For instance, Take Me Tomorrow was the first book in The Tomo Trilogy, and now that series has been quite frozen . . . Literally. It isn’t for sale, and it probably won’t come back for a while. And I apologize deeply for that. If I had known that my publisher at the time was going to close down, I would’ve released the last book of The Timely Death Trilogy instead. That way, you all didn’t get a glimpse into the world of tomo without being able to continue with Sophia Gray’s journey through it. That being said, this is often out of the author’s control. One day though, I promise to return to that trilogy. While it is written, I don’t feel confident enough to release it on my own. I also don’t have the time to dedicate what I would need in order to release it on my own. For those of you wondering why I don’t have it up for sale, I have decided to take it down solely on the fact that the other two books will not be available any time soon. I do not want a reader to waste their time by investing in a story that cannot continue yet. There was also a lot of confusion on it being a standalone, so it will be waiting for the day it can return. Only tomo users know for sure. ::wink::

Because of what happened, I’ve also learned a lot from what I did by publishing two different series at the same time, so for a while, I’ll focus on one series at a time. Right now, that is The Timely Death Trilogy. That being said, a few months back, I admitted that I have a prequel for The Timely Death Trilogy.

trilogy

Yes. A prequel. I’m sure that’s why most of you clicked on this article, so that’s what I want to talk about. The prequel mainly covers Jim Welborn and Kim Smith (Eric’s parents) as they meet and grow up. I would love to share this with you all, and I’m seriously considering releasing it for free via Wattpad. This would mean that it would be completely free, but it wouldn’t be professionally edited. I can’t guarantee that it would be posted on a regular basis (ex. One chapter every Wednesday), but I can guarantee that I will try my hardest to post a chapter every so often. That being said, I am rewriting November Snow right now, so I need to focus on that first and foremost, but I can make time to release the prequel on Wattpad if you want it. This is up to you, really, truly. (Basically, if you want this, let me know by commenting, emailing, or flashing a cat sign against the clouds via spotlight.)

A full disclosure of the prequel’s content would include the fact that the prequel would be VERY different than The Timely Death Trilogy. Keep in mind that the shelter does not exist, the prophecy is not happening yet, and, at least in the beginning, many of the favorite older characters do not exist in the past (Luthicer being the main one.) Also, there might be a few spoilers to The Timely Death Trilogy in the prequel, so I will be putting a warning with the material. Here is the synopsis:

Welcome to the world of the Dark.

When eighteen-year-old James Welborn drops out of college, he’s both relieved and frustrated. While his parents want him to concentrate on what’s important—being human—James Welborn would rather focus on his paranormal side, the Dark side. He’s one of the best warriors in history, according to his tutor, but according to his parents, the Dark is just an easy way to get killed. And that’s it. They want nothing to do with it, and James wants everything to do with it.

The powers have only returned within the past generation, and while some see it as a promise for the descendants to be born, James sees it as an opportunity to succeed. When an elder calls him into the library, Welborn is expecting to be reprimanded for failing his human studies. But then the girl is called out. She’s fourteen. Her Dark name is Evaline. Her human name is Kimberly Smith. And when James is asked to protect her, both of his worlds—human and Dark—are closer than he thought. And a lot more dangerous.

Please comment and let me know!

I could use your input and help. (Even if there is something you would like to see in the prequel, let me know!)

Have a great weekend,

~SAT

P.S. As we approach the release of Minutes Before Sunset you can expect an array of prizes! This signed bookmark is for this week! To be entered once, tweet to me @ShanAshleeT23 with the hashtag #TheDarkisComing. You’ll be entered to win twice if you tell me what you think about the prequel in the comments below too, and you’ll be entered three times if you tell me on my Facebook post about this article too. ;] This is open internationally! (Also, don’t forget that there is a Goodreads Giveaway for three paperbacks going on until June 23.)

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#WW Judging An Author’s Life

10 Jun

Judging An Author’s Life

The photo

The photo

Recently—and by “recently” I mean a month ago—I posted this photo on my Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, and . . . well, pretty much anywhere on the Internet that I have an account on. To my surprise, (and still to my confusion), I received a bit a slack for this. It was a Wednesday afternoon, fairly nice outside, and due to the events of my day, I ended up in my hometown with one of my best friends. When it started raining, we ducked into a bookstore, and I couldn’t help myself. I bought a book—Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan to be exact—and some sticky notes for work since my stockpile was dwindling. The caption of my photo read, “Silly rain. Forcing me to hide in a bookstore to collect books until the sun came out.”

I didn’t think anything of it. I simply thought, “Hey! I am having fun. This has to do with reading, and I bet my readers would enjoy sharing this moment with me.” Because that’s what I think every time I post something—I think about how much fun it is to share these bits and pieces of my life with my wonderful followers. I don’t think much beyond that. So, I guess that’s why I was so surprised when I received a message, stating that I was adding to the misguidance of the industry and how authors live—how our lives actually are and how much of a struggle it is to be a writer—that I was adding to the “problem”, to the mirage of authordom.

And this is my open letter to you, dear sir, about that photo and my life as an author.

First and foremost, social media is up to the individual controlling that social media. No one else. I share what I choose to share, and I choose to share my fun and delightful moments. That goes to say that I’ve often—more often than not—discussed many difficult aspects of my life on my blog, particularly my mother’s death and my college roommate’s death. I’ve discussed moving around a lot as a child and finding myself creating stories and characters to make up for my lack of real human connection. I’ve confessed to doubting everything, and I’ve strived to remind myself (and my readers) why we write . . . which is always because I love to write and read. All of these topics have been on my blog. Numerous times. Throughout almost three years of blogging. But I’m assuming you’re judging me based on one or two photos posted during the afternoon. I know which ones you’re looking at. After all, I’m the one who shares all the moments of coffee, cats, and books. And guess what? That is my life. But it isn’t my whole life, and by no means have I ever expressed that “I do this every day.” Take this photo for instance. At no point does it state, “Here I am on my daily afternoon walk, just buying a dozen books for me to read this week.” In fact, I only bought one . . . with a gift card that my older brother bought me for Christmas . . . five months before this photo was taken . . . five months in which I saved that card just for the perfect moment to buy a novel on a day I needed some cheering up.

You see, back in January, I lost my car and my job, and I had to move to another state. (Something I openly discussed on my blog, by the way.) And ever since January, I’ve been building myself back up. On the very day this very photo was taken, I had finally saved up enough to buy a car, and I did, but I was broke afterward. That gift card was then used to help me buy office supplies (the sticky notes) that I had run out of, and I happened to see a novel I really wanted. Did I have to buy it then? No. Of course not. But it was a way of reminding myself that I am proud of how much I saved from my hard work and how far I’ve come in the five months since hitting rock bottom. My car was a long-needed necessity. This novel was a reward for the five months I’ve worked and saved and walked without one.

Why didn’t I put that story as my caption? Well, aside from the fact that it would be the longest caption in the world, the caption was my decision—and my decision was to express how much fun I was having and how much fun I wanted to share with my readers.

By no means was I trying to portray myself as an author who spends their days browsing bookstores. By no means was I trying to pretend I could afford every book left and right. By no means was I trying to prove something at all. I was just being me. I was just sharing me. By stating authors have to share ugly moments of their lives, we’re stating something ridiculous—that we assume they don’t have human lives—and that is a ridiculous presumption to have about anyone.

There is ugliness in everyone’s life, but I choose to focus on the happy moments, and I want my readers to know that they can have fun and encouragement when they come to me. I choose to share laughter and coffee and silly cats and paperbacks slung over my shoulder. I choose to post only when I’m smiling too—because I want to smile with my readers. I want my readers to feel encouraged when they come to me, not discouraged, and that is my choice, just like sharing my emotions around my mother’s death is my choice. I am not perfect, and I do not pretend to be, but no one should assume that about me either. Authors are human, after all, but not every detail of my life needs to be publicized all across the web (even though a large portion of it is).

Take my cats for instance. They’ve stared in my YouTube channel. They’ve done interviews on my blog. They’ve popped up on my Instagram and even shown their kitty faces on my Twitter. I love them, and since I work at home, I spend a lot of time around them. I share them in the grass, on the couch, while they are sleeping and playing. I make cartoons with them and pose with them and cuddle with them all the time (sometimes even when I don’t want to cuddle). And when I share them, people have fun—because most people love animals—and I have fun—because most people have shared their pets with me—and it’s a fun way to connect and relate to one another as friends instead of Internet strangers. I’d even like to exchange photos of my pets with you. But if you really want to see the ugly moments instead, I’d be more than happy to send you photos of me cleaning out the litter box instead of my three cats cuddling on the couch. (Just kidding, of course . . . I think.)

~SAT

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