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#WritingTips Choosing a Setting

1 Feb

Every Monday, I recover previous posts that were popular, but I tackle them in a whole new way. Today, I’m covering how to choose a setting for your novel or poem or short story or whatever you’re writing. The original post, Setting: Picking a Location, can be read by clicking the link, and it covers other aspects to keep in mind, but today, I only want to tackle two ideas: real-world settings and imaginary ones.

1. Real-World Settings: Write What You Know or Research

When you’re writing about a place in the real world, you honestly have two options: write what you know or write after you research extensively. This is especially true if you’re writing a historical piece, but that’s a completely different topic to cover, so I’m basically talking about the here and now. If you’re making a decision, don’t pick what is easiest. Instead, pick what is right for your story. In fact, you might have to write your story’s first draft to realize what type of setting you need, and that’s perfectly okay. As long as you figure out what you need and where you need to go, do it the way that feels right to you as a writer. But once you know what you need, you can start researching. I always suggest considering places you already know, but I am probably biased because I moved all around the country as a kid, so I have a plethora of places to consider. That being said, you can always travel too, but please don’t think you MUST travel in order to write about a place. While Ally Carter does travel a lot—and bases many of her books on those places—she also says, “I try and try and try to get people to believe me when I say that my job is basically looking at a whiteboard covered with sticky notes and/or a computer and/or big stacks of paper all day long.” This is how picking a setting (or any part of your novel) is going to go. Research and think and research again. Even better? Research is SO easy nowadays. You can even talk to someone from that exact location if you want to. All you have to do is join a forum. One thing I’ve always loved is pretending I’m moving there. (If I play “your life is about to change dramatically,” it forces me to take it very, very seriously.) Look at the setting via Google Maps, read a travel guide, research schools, check out the town’s official website, talk to people who live there or have in the least been there. You can do it. Look at it this way, if you can spend months writing about it, you can take a week or three reading about it. One of my favorite tools—even just for fun reading—is Earth Album. You just click, and voila! Pictures of the location and the name, so you can start Googling. If you click on the picture too, it will generally send you to the source of the image so you can research it in-depth. It’s a good place to start.

A screenshot of Earth Album

A screenshot of Earth Album

Fun fact: Although not a real town, Haysworth, Kansas in The Timely Death Trilogy was a combination of two towns in Kansas: Hays and Ellsworth—both of which I’ve been to. I also lived in Kansas for seven years, so I was very familiar with the landscape, laws, people, beliefs, etc., and I wanted to have a paranormal story take place in the Midwest, especially since the Midwest is underrepresented in paranormal YA (actually in YA in general)…despite the fact that we have a gate to hell in Stull. (Google it. It’s a big deal to us Kansans…even though I’m a Missourian now.)

2. Imaginary Settings: World-Building and Map-Making

I could write an entire month’s worth of blog posts about world building, so this is going to be ridiculously brief, but I hope it’s a place to start. Just like the above option, I think it’s most important to figure out what your story needs first, but once you have that, you can start building. Again, that doesn’t mean I think you have to know all of this before you write. You can write the entire story to figure it out, and then, change everything in editing. Personally, I like building from the little details to the bigger ones, which I know is the opposite of many writers, but that’s okay, because I figured out what worked for me. (Most of my writing tips, you might notice, revolve around the idea of figuring out who you are as a writer.) I start with the story details, and I work my way up to a giant map. This way, I have my “rules” in place. I have the political systems, the social expectations, the movements, the beliefs, the types of people, the places, etc. Now, if you want to start with a map first, I’d suggest studying maps. See how they are drawn and draw yours. If you want something random, watch this YouTube video. It’s freakin’ awesome, and it’s an easy way to get all different types of terrain on various landscapes.

Personally, I am in the process of writing an epic fantasy, and I did it the old-school way: a piece of paper and a pen and a bunch of sticky notes. My living room was covered. (Because that’s what works for me.) Overall, it’s important to create a world just as rich and diverse as our world is today. Even if it’s a walled-in city, different types of people and beliefs will exist. Don’t sell your world short. Explore it, take notes on it, explore it some more. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to include every little detail of your imaginary world in your book (especially not in the first chapter), but knowing as much as possible can help fine-tune your voice and your characters. If you’re going to take inspiration from history, be honest but be respectful. That means being diligent. Be everything you’d want a future writer to be in regards to if they took inspiration from your lifetime or your country. Create a world we’ve never seen before.

Fun fact: Take Me Tomorrow and November Rain both take place in the near-future U.S., but were built very differently. The Tomo Trilogy takes place throughout the entire country, while Bad Bloods takes place in one walled-in city. While Take Me Tomorrow was largely built around rail transportation in the U.S., November Rain was built on a real city I never actually name in the story (but I do give hints as to what it is). The epic fantasy I mentioned above doesn’t take place in this world at all. That took a lot more time and consideration to create, but it was well worth it in the end.

Create, and create well. And, of course, have fun.

~SAT

Come get your books signed on February 13, from 1-3 PM during the Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas at Bradley Fair. Come meet Tamara GranthamCandice GilmerTheresa Romain, Jan Schliesman, and Angi Morgan! If you haven’t started The Timely Death Trilogy, don’t worry. Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, is free!

Minutes Before Sunset, book 1:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrisebook 2:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylightbook 3:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Get your free book today!

Get your free book today!

Feminism in YA: Knives and Candy

20 Jan

First, I would like to thank Dahlia Adler for inspiring me to write this post via her article What We Aren’t Talking About When We Talk About Feminism in YA.

Feminism is an important, vital part of my identity, but it’s also one of the scariest words in my life. Why? Well, I have a confession: I’m a bad feminist. I’m afraid to admit I’m a feminist on the Internet. I have no issues with this in RL (a.k.a. real life). In fact, I practically never stop talking about Feminism to my friends and family, but it’s not in any of my Internet bios, and despite reading Feminist conversations on Twitter (and all over the Internet), I mainly nod my head and shout at my computer…but I NEVER say anything on the Internet. I stay silent.

Why?

Because I’m scared.

I’m scared of the retaliation, of the sexual harassment many of these outspoken folks receive, and of the constant berating that happens for months afterward. In real life, I can walk away, but the Internet is forever.

Today’s the day I stop being afraid and I start being brave.

I am a Feminist.

What does that mean?

It means I want equality for both women and men. I shouldn’t have to expand any more than that, but the arguments and stigmas out there cause a lot of problems in many aspects of our culture and lives. That being said, this is a blog about writing and reading, so I want to focus on Feminism in YA, just as Dahlia did. Please check out her article. She tackles important topics, like female characters in STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering and math) and sports that show how dedicated girls can be. Friendships between girls, relationships between a girl and her mother, and asexual females are also underrepresented, and one of the biggest trends is giving female characters masculine traits to make them heroes…instead of heroines.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with a girl swinging a sword or kicking ass. In fact, that’s pretty awesome, too. But when that same character cries or has a romantic moment, many readers reject the character because she’s suddenly not “heroic” anymore. This idea is really damaging to female characters. It’s the idea that heroines need to be 1-D in order to be respected or believable.

As a reader, I saw this happen with Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas. I LOVED this book. It centered on a female assassin, and she is a tough fighter. That being said, she has also been imprisoned for a couple years leading up to the story, and this recent past makes her a bit weaker than her usual norm. She even throws up a couple of times, and she gets involved with some light romance. Many readers found this combination unbelievable or too girly. “She liked candy! Why would an assassin like candy?”

Maybe because she likes candy? Why do female characters have to solely be one thing? Why can’t they kick ass and like candy? Men like candy too. In fact, I mainly bake cookies for my roommate and my father—both men. I’m not even a fan of chocolate. I’m more of a salty snacks sort of a person. But that’s beside the point…

As a woman, I have many aspects to my personality, both feminine traits and masculine traits. (In the traditional sense.)

I have a knife collection, yet I teared up at that viral raccoon video where he lost his cotton candy in the puddle of water.

As a teen, I got into a lot of physical fights (with girls and boys), but I also cried if someone happened to hug me at the right time. (Not proud of the fighting. Just a truth.)

I drove a stick and shot guns, but I also squealed anytime I saw anything fluffy. (I still do.) I worked in a sports bar…and as a nanny.

I own tennis shoes and heels. I played sports throughout my schooling—basketball, track, and tennis—but I also loved school dances. My favorite activity was running through the woods with my dog and practicing with my throwing knives or with my bow and arrow. (Hello, Katniss. What can I say? I grew up in the Midwest.) Afterward, my husky would be my pillow, and I’d lie down in the forest to read a cheesy romance novel.

I can wield a knife in one hand and eat candy in another.

If I was a YA character, I'm not sure I'd be "believable" (Most of these were taken when I was a teen.)

If I was a YA character, I’m not sure I’d be “believable” P.S. Half of these photos were taken in my teenage years.

My life doesn’t make me any less of a believable person. So why are the characters unbelievable?

It’s an important question to ask in regards to female characters.

A female character—as well as a male character—does not have to be only one way in order to be believable. People have numerous aspects that make up their personality, and they react differently to many types of situations because they are also human.

So, next time your female assassin eats candy or falls in love, maybe we shouldn’t criticize.

Maybe we should talk about how awesome that is.

~SAT

Author in a Coffee Shop, Episode 3 happens this Friday at 7 p.m. (CDT) on Twitter via @AuthorSAT. What is Author in a Coffee Shop? Exactly how it sounds! I sit in a coffee shop, people watch, and tweet out my writer thoughts. I also talk to you. ;)

Come get your books signed on February 13, from 1-3 PM! I’ll be one of several featured authors at a Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas at Bradley Fair. I’d love to see you! If you haven’t started The Timely Death Trilogy, don’t worry. Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, is free!

Minutes Before Sunset, book 1:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrisebook 2:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylightbook 3:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

takefofytseve

You can even read The Timely Death Trilogy on your new Kindle Fire!

Clean Teen Publishing is giving one away. Enter here.

Giveaway-image

#WritingTips What I Learned Rewriting a Seven-Year-Old Novel

18 Jan

Every Monday I take a popular post from the past, and I recover it with new information and approaches. Today’s topic is more relevant than ever. I first tackled this topic over a year ago, explaining what it was like to rewrite November Snow, my first published novel from 2007, but, at the time, I had no idea I would finish the rewrite, let alone that the rewrite would turn into Bad Bloods and be signed with Clean Teen Publishing for release in July of 2016. The original post can be found here, and it covers totally different aspects, so I highly recommend checking out the first one too. Here are my top three lessons I learned by rewriting a novel…and getting it published again.

1. Every Change is a Ripple…and a GIANT Wave.

I was not prepared for this, even though you’d think it would be obvious. Well, it wasn’t. I went into the rewrite with a few goals. I knew of a couple of things I wanted to change, but the more I studied my own work, the more I realized I had to change, and each change—even the smallest of changes—had a HUGE ripple effect on the rest of the work. (It’s more accurate to call it a wave.) Before you ever attempt a rewrite, read your own work and take notes. As you rewrite it, take even more notes, so you know you aren’t contradicting yourself or messing up versions. Example? In the new version, I wanted the lunar calendar to be accurate since it was off in the original. That doesn’t seem so hard, does it? Wrong. A good couple of chapters, as well as a symbolic part of the story, revolved around the lunar calendar, and every change I made caused certain parts of the story to be shifted around. Tension and weather patterns moved. Whole paragraphs moved. Scenes had to be deleted, and others were pushed back. Even the purpose had to change. It was possibly the most difficult part of the rewrite. That one change affected everything else. Everything.

2. Aspects You Love will be Added…and Lost.

In the end, certain things had to go. I lost some of the funnier moments and the cheesy moments, but new humor and romance was added. Old characters became better (sometimes almost unrecognizable) versions of themselves, and other characters had to take a bigger backseat than they did before. Some details weren’t necessary. Other details I never even thought of adding had to be added. A change you didn’t want might even happen simply because of the ripple effect discussed above. You can rejoice in the additions and mourn these loses. It’s okay to feel sad about a particular scene going down the drain, even if it’s miniscule. Heck, you might even keep it in case you want to write a short story that goes along with your novel. Nothing has to go away forever, but deciding what is right and what isn’t for your story is important, no matter how much it hurts. You can do it. Follow your gut.

A comparison

A comparison

3. Staying True to You (And the Work) is Harder Than You Think

Maybe you started writing this when the genre was hot, but now it’s not. Maybe you had a purpose that has now been done before. Maybe X numbers of things have happened since you began the story, but now your life has changed. So, you want to stay true to the story, but you have NEW challenges (and temptations). I’ve covered this before, but I truly believe my 11-year-old self was a better writer than I am today. (Read this article to see what I mean: My 11-Year-Old Self was a Better Writer) To sum it up, she was fearless. I am not. My younger self didn’t worry about things like word count or trends or paychecks or deadlines. I just wrote. Now that I’m older, it’s HARD not to worry about if the book will fit the “correct” word count so you can even try to talk to a publisher about it. This can make you feel as if you’re a square peg trying to fit into a circle hole, and sometimes, it’s tempting to make yourself a circle. But you’re not. You’re a square. As an example, the original version of Bad Bloods was 110,000 words. So, I set out to bring the book down to 80,000 words in order to “fit” the industry standard. Spoiler alert: I failed. Terribly. I actually ADDED 20,000 words, because, in the end, I realized the story was missing vital aspects. This took me a long while to accept. It was a lot of banging my head against my desk. But guess what? It worked out in the end. I signed it with Clean Teen Publishing, and they love it, word count and all. Who knows what would’ve happened if I had forced it to go the other way? Be you…even if you have no idea where it will take you.

When I first covered this topic over a year ago, I had no idea where a rewrite would take me, but I knew it was the best thing for me to do. I also acknowledge all of the doubt, tears, and frustration I had along the way. Was this scene necessary? Can I condense this? But I love that scene! This dialogue is terrible. What was I thinking? Here we go again. Should I give up? Why would I want to rewrite this anyway? Who would want a book this big? This doesn’t fit any trend right now. No publisher wants something that was previously published. Gah! What am I thinking?

Guess what? All of my doubts were wrong. My gut was right.

It worked out in the end, and I am more excited than ever before to see Bad Bloods release this summer by Clean Teen Publishing. In fact, it will be published on the nine-year anniversary of the original version.

Follow your gut no matter how much time it takes. It’s worth it.

~SAT

Come get your books signed on February 13, from 1-3 PM! I’ll be one of several featured authors at a Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas at Bradley Fair. I’d love to see you! If you haven’t started The Timely Death Trilogy, don’t worry. Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, is free!

Minutes Before Sunset, book 1:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrisebook 2:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylightbook 3:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

takefofytseve

You can even read The Timely Death Trilogy on your new Kindle Fire!

Clean Teen Publishing is giving one away. Enter here.

Giveaway-image

#WW How Podcasts Can Help Your Writing

13 Jan

Audio books are getting more and more popular every year. Why? Well, it’s nice to be able to listen to a book while driving to work instead of the latest (and probably repetitive) pop song. On top of that, many people have less free time than ever before, so audio books help add to the variety of ways readers can still read. (Now if they could only get that price down…)

Personally, I’m not an audio book person. Not yet. But I have found another stream of entertainment through audio programs, and they help with my writing.

I love podcasts. I think they are brilliant, and they definitely help keep me updated when I FINALLY give myself a break from staring at my computer screen. I generally listen to a podcast while doing the dishes or putting away the laundry or chasing my crazy cats away from scratching up the latest UPS delivery. (True story.)

Basically, they help me continue to research the publishing industry or for my writings when I’m not on my computer. Since I work on the computer all day (and spend most of my free time on the computer as an author), it’s nice to have the option of simply listening to additional information and not have to go searching for it. I highly recommend giving them a try. Even if you already know the information given, it’s nice to have your feelings confirmed. (It’s also nice for a hermit like me, who practically never hears a human voice all week long.)

So, how do I recommend getting involved?

Well, think about what you want more information on and why. Personally, I wanted to follow at least two good writing podcasts, but I also wanted something that could help with my writing, especially in areas where I lack. To expand on that, I wanted something that would challenge my inspiration or force me to go outside my comfort zone. Seriously, there are podcasts on everything, but here is my example:

1. Writing Podcasts

There are dozens of podcasts dedicated to writing, publishing, and everything in between. Personally, my favorite has been Writing Excuses. The recordings are clear, the hosts are fun, and the topics are relatable but also challenging. I often find myself nodding along to everything they say, but then, they say ONE little thing in a way I’ve never thought about it before, and my entire afternoon is fueled with excitement. This is my favorite podcast of all-time. Highly recommended for every writer out there, no matter where you are in your writing career.

WritingExcuses

2. Help with my Research

As every writer, I research. A lot. But I don’t always have hours and hours of time to research. So, I searched for a podcast with mythology and classical stories to listen to. This is more for inspiration than anything else, but it helps me take a break, have fun, and educate myself (or even refresh myself) on the mythology out there literature uses to create. It also feels like a reprieve from work, even though it isn’t.

3. Challenge My Inspiration

This is an expansion on #2, but basically, I didn’t just want to be inspired; I also wanted to be challenged. So, in this example, I challenged myself to listen to a podcast on Japanese mythology. Granted, I’ve already had some interest in this field, but it’s more difficult for me to get involved since I don’t have a huge background in it. By listening to it more, especially while contrasting it against western mythology, I can challenge myself to find inspiration in topics I wouldn’t normally find outside of that podcast.

These are three simple ways you can use podcasts to help with your writing.

I hope you have just as much fun as I have!

~SAT

I’m starting a new series called “Author in a Coffee Shop.” If you’re wondering what Author in the Coffee Shop is, it’s just how it sounds. I sit in a coffee shop and tweet out my writer thoughts while…you know…I people watch…for inspiration.
Follow me on Twitter via @AuthorSAT next Friday at 7 p.m. CDT for episode 2.

Here’s a sample if you missed out:

In other news…you can now add Bad Bloods to Goodreads: November Rain and November SnowI’m also considering leading up to the July releases with short stories of each character joining the “flocks.” A flock is a group of 12 bad bloods that have come together to survive on the streets. In Bad Bloods, there are four flocks, one for each cardinal direction of the city, but only two flocks are left: The Southern and the Northern Flock. Some stories would purposely be left out, but I have six written. If this is something you’d think you’d be interested in reading, let me know! I would start sharing them at the end of February.

Speaking of February, on February 13, I’ll be one of several featured authors at a Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas. (More info to come.) I’d love to see you at Bradley Fair!

Also, my awesome publisher is giving away a Kindle Fire right here.

Giveaway-image

Starting your 2016 Reading Challenge? Minutes Before Sunset, book 1  in The Timely Death Trilogy, is FREE: (You could read it on your brand-new Kindle Fire.)

Minutes Before Sunset, book 1:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrisebook 2:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylightbook 3:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

#WritingTips Writing The Back Blurb

11 Jan

 Every Monday I take a popular post from the past, and I rewrite it with new information and approaches. Today, we’re talking about the dreaded back blurb. Why do we dread the back blurb? Well, because it can be the making or breaking point for the reader. That little blurb on the back can be the difference between a reader putting your book back on the shelf or taking your book to the counter to buy it. But there’s no reason to fret. There are plenty of ways to tackle this scenario, and today, I’m sharing one method. I’ll be using my latest novels in Bad Bloods as an example, but you can also check out the original post for a totally different way to try this out by clicking here.

1. Start with a 35-Word Synopsis

This is actually a method many use to tackle query letters, but I love this piece of advice. Summarizing your book into 35 words forces you to focus on the essentials. Look at it like writing an elevator pitch. In this case, you have a pretty direct formula: Character + setting + conflict + stakes. Stakes are the most important, and by far, the most forgotten one. Think about what your character has to lose. What happens if they decide not to save the world? Why should we care about those repercussions? While you’re writing this, you might start with a one-page synopsis or other notes. Keep those! They will help in part two. But, for now, read my example below. If you’re feeling discouraged, you might notice that I summed up TWO books in 35 words or less. In fact, those two books equal 136,000 words, and I only used 34 words. It can be done.

Bad Bloods in 35 words or less: 17-year-old Serena is the only bad blood to escape execution. Now symbolized for an election, she must prove her people are human despite hindering abilities before everyone is killed and a city is destroyed.

2. Expand. Be Catchy. Target an Audience. 

See? I told you that you’d need all those notes as you were trying to cut down to 35 words. Now, you get to use those notes again. (But, Shannon, why did you have us cut it down if we were only going to use it anyway? Because…It focused your work.) So, now that you’re focused on the main concepts, you can emphasize main themes. Be sure to focus on the right genre for the right audience. You don’t want to mention love if love is barely in it. You’ll only attract romance readers then, and they won’t be too happy when they realize they’ve been tricked. This means staying true to your work. Don’t try to force yourself into the latest trend. Be honest. Once you do that, you can show those little details that perfect your voice. Example? I’m going to use the expanded version of Bad Bloods, part one, November Rain. Instead of city, I’m going to name that city. I knew I wanted to bring Daniel into the Bad Bloods excerpt, because he literally tells half the book. I also wanted to bring attention to the romance side and emphasize the political part of the story. Do not forget your stakes!

Seventeen-year-old Serena isn’t human. She is a bad blood, and in the city of Vendona, bad bloods are executed. In the last moments before she faces imminent death, a prison guard aids her escape and sparks a revolt. Back on the streets determined to destroy her kind, Serena is spared by a fellow bad blood named Daniel. His past tragedies are as equally mysterious as her connection to them.

Unbeknownst to the two, this connection is the key to winning the election for bad bloods’ rights to be seen as human again. But Serena is the only one who can secure Vendona’s vote. Now, Daniel must unite with her before all hope is lost and bad bloods are eradicated, even if it means exposing secrets worse than death itself. United or not, a city will fight, rain will fall, and all will be threatened by star-crossed love and political corruption.

3. Edit. Get Opinions. Edit Again.

Okay. So you have a draft, or maybe you even have three drafts. It’s time to run it by a few people. If you can, try to have someone who has read your book read the synopsis to see if they believe that it what you should focus on. Try to have people who’ve never read your book review it. Have them tell you what they think the book is about. Now, edit. And have someone review it again. Edit again. But once you get a great one, stick with it. You can rewrite it a million times. Eventually, you have to choose. Once you have that, you can work on other wonderful marketing tools. Know Cassandra Clare? Well, freakin’ email her and ask her if she’d been willing to give you a review quote. (But, seriously, that would go on the front of the book.) Look at the back covers of your favorite books, find their catch phrases, figure one out for your book, place it somewhere bold. Since I’m not yet at this stage in the Bad Bloods process, I’ll refer to The Timely Death Trilogy instead. The back cover of the first book has a catch phrase (Two destinies. One death.), and it has a direct quote from the story (“Her kiss could kill us, and my consent signed our death certificates.”). Then, the blurb took place. Review quotes were placed beneath it. Your best bet is to look at the back of other books and mimic what you find successful.

Now publish.

~SAT

Book Haul from Episode 1 of Author in a Coffee Shop

Book Haul from Episode 1 of Author in a Coffee Shop

I’m starting a new series called “Author in a Coffee Shop.” Episode 1 happened this past Friday.
If you’re wondering what Author in the Coffee Shop is, it’s just how it sounds. I sit in a coffee shop and tweet out my writer thoughts while…you know…I people watch…for inspiration.
Follow me on Twitter via @AuthorSAT next Friday at 7 p.m. CDT for the next episode.

Here’s a sample if you missed out:

I hope to see you this upcoming Friday on Twitter!

In other news… you can now add Bad Bloods to Goodreads: November Rain and November SnowI’m also considering leading up to the July releases with short stories of each character joining the “flocks.” A flock is a group of 12 bad bloods that have come together to survive on the streets. In Bad Bloods, there are four flocks, one for each cardinal direction of the city, but only two flocks are left: The Southern and the Northern Flock. Some stories would purposely be left out, but I have six written. If this is something you’d think you’d be interested in reading, let me know! I would start sharing them at the end of February.

Speaking of February, on February 13, I’ll be one of several featured authors at a Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas. (More info to come.) I’d love to see you at Bradley Fair!

Also, my awesome publisher is giving away a Kindle Fire right here.

Giveaway-image

Starting your 2016 Reading Challenge? Minutes Before Sunset, book 1  in The Timely Death Trilogy, is FREE: (You could read it on your brand-new Kindle Fire.)

Minutes Before Sunset, book 1:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrisebook 2:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylightbook 3:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

#WritingTips Various Stages of Writer’s Block

4 Jan

Intro:

So, as promised, 2016 has brought new changes to http://www.ShannonAThompson.com. I’ll still have guest posts sometimes on Mondays, but it’s mainly going to be reserved for popular past posts. They will either be rewritten or posted as is (depending on if the information has changed or not since then). Example? Today’s text is more or less the same, but the photos/gifs are new.

Today’s post was originally posted on August 12, 2014. The original post can be found here. Right now, I’m picking them with Random.Org, so stick with me while I try to figure out another method. If there is one you loved that you want to see updated, don’t hesitate to ask for it! I’m open to suggestions.

Various Stages of Writer’s Block

Oh, the dreaded writer’s block. The horror of the static pen. The silence of untapped keyboards. The banging of your forehead against the desk.

We’ve all been there—some of us more than others—and that’s why we can all relate to it (and hopefully laugh at it). So I wanted to share the various stages of writer’s insanity.

Stage One: Staring (a.k.a. Denial)

Oh, no. Oh, no. This is not happening. This cannot be happening. I have a deadline. An actual deadline! (Okay. So I set the deadline myself, but still!) I do not have time for this. I NEED to be able to write.

200-6

Stage Two: Pacing (a.k.a. Panic)

Why is this happening?! ::breathes heavily for five minutes:: Okay. I got this. I will get through this. I just need to walk away for a little bit. Okay. Never mind. I need a drink. Drinking is good. Ernest Hemingway used to drink. “Drink write, edit subor?” Why can’t I write drunk? I can’t even spell! Oh, god. I’ll never be good at this.

200-4

If you have not seen Midnight in Paris, shame on you.

Stage Three: Running away (a.k.a. More Panic)

I just need to relax. How do I relax again? Reading! I love reading. I can tackle my TBR pile in no time. ::sits down with book:: Who is this author? Why do they write so…so perfectly? Why can’t I write like this? I’ll never write something this lovely. ::throws book across room:: I can’t read right now. Who am I kidding? I need to step away from the books. I know! I’ll go for a walk, and I’ll look at the stars. The stars are nice. ::goes outside:: It’s cloudy. Great. Of course, it’s cloudy.

If you haven't seen Silver Linings Playbook, double shame on you.

If you haven’t seen Silver Linings Playbook, double shame on you.

Stage Four: Return (a.k.a. Let It Go)

All right. ::sits down at computer:: What the hell is wrong with this manuscript? What is wrong with me? (Two hours pass, nothing changes.) ::finally puts computer away for the night:: I just need a break, a nice dinner, and a good night’s sleep.

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And you expected a gif from Frozen.

Stage Five: Acceptance (a.k.a. Overcoming It!)

::wakes up in the morning after the worst day ever:: I feel rested. Why is my protagonist sitting in my computer chair? ::stands up and crosses the room. Protagonist types with one hand and hands you a coffee with the other as you read over their shoulder:: “Oh! That’s what I did wrong.” I forced everything, but now it’s resolved. Writer’s block, you silly thing.

Time to sit down and write again.

200-7

Cats are the best.

~SAT

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Website Wonders

28 Dec

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 December’s Website Wonders categorized into Publishing, Writing, Reading, Cute & Lovable, and Interesting.

If you enjoy these websites, be sure to follow me on Twitter because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Enjoy!

My Favorite Article

Please Stop Saying Rey from Stars Wars is a “Mary Sue”

I think the title explains this article perfectly, but the article is a fantastic read about why we need to stop attacking female characters. It’s nonsense.

Publishing:

What Authors Have NO Control Over: This week Marie Rutkoski announced that the covers of The Winner’s Trilogy was changing—three months before the last book released with the original covers. There was major uproar (which I find terribly sad, because it’s the inside of the book that matters), so many authors took to the Internet to explain who makes these decisions and how punishing authors isn’t helping anyone.

What’s in a (pen) name? An article by CTP author, Sherry Ficklin. A great piece about how important choosing your pen name is.

Writing:

The Top Seven Arguments Against Using Profanity in Your Writing (And Why They’re Dumb as Fuck) This was easily the funniest article I’ve read all month. I absolutely loved it.

6 Depressing Realities Of Writing Young Adult Fiction It’s just so sad.

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Reading:

48 Of The Most Beautiful Lines Of Poetry: Because I love poetry.

10 of the Most Iconic Swords in Fiction: If you’ve read The Timely Death Trilogy, you know how much I love swords.

Cute and Lovable:

Portraits of a Baby Boy and Bulldog Who Were Born on the Same Day: They. Are. Just. So. Cute.

Dog Adopts A Baby Fox After His Mom Died In A Car Accident: Again, just so cute.

Interesting:

Women Try To Pose Like Female Comic Book Heroes: A great YouTube video. I’m a HUGE comic book fan, but this was still fun to see. I think it would be interesting to see men do this too.

Giant Ocean Waves by Mario Ceroli Art that is worth looking at.

~SAT

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