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Behind the Scenes of The Timely Death Trilogy

23 Apr

In a few days, it will be the anniversary of the release of Minutes Before Sunset. Because of that, I’ve been thinking about how to celebrate it. That’s when I realized that I never shared the 30-Day Countdown event on here. This countdown was on my Facebook page, and it revolved around the release of Seconds Before Sunrise. I shared photos, excerpts, games, and more. I always meant to share it on here, and that day has finally come. For those who participated in the countdown, don’t worry! I’ve added new information, so you haven’t seen everything yet. (The excerpts will have small explanations in front of them, so beware of spoilers.) On top of that, I’m not including absolutely everything that was shared on my Facebook page. That is to thank those who follow me on Facebook. I share unique information on all of my social media pages, so if you like this, Facebook is a great place to connect with me by clicking here. :D

Personality Quiz:

This is brand-new. I released it on my Facebook page this week. You can find out which Dark character you’re most alike. So far, this is the order in popularity via the results, the first one being the most popular: Jessica, Camille, Pierce, and then Eric. Click the photo or here to take it yourself.

quiz

I found out you had to have a membership to read the descriptions, so click Character Descriptions to read the descriptions without creating a membership.

Excerpt (1):

In this scene, Eric finally confronts the elders about what is happening. Instead of Darthon and Eric battling to the death, the Light wants a war where many more people will die. This chapter begins on page 106 in Seconds Before Sunrise, and it’s told by Eric. The bolded quote is on Goodreads if you want to “like” it.

“A war would improve our chances.”

“Our destined chances?” I argued. “We’re going to win.”

“We can lose.”

“Then, let me lose,” I said, refusing to move.

Among my stillness was a pounding heart.

“It they truly want a war,” I chose my words carefully, “they’ll be willing to meet on equal territory.”

“There’s no such thing, Eric,” Luthicer said. “We’re more powerful here, just as they are in their realm. Either way, one side will have to forfeit safety.”

“We’re talking about war,” I pointed out. “What is safe about that?”

Photo Shoot: 

I used to do a lot of photography when I was younger. This photo was inspired by The Timely Death Trilogy. It was also in celebration of my knife collection. That’s right. I have a knife collection. That is my machete. And, yes, I’m fighting myself, and those pants are from Thailand. Originally, I wanted to wear white and black, but I only own blue and black pants. I forget what they’re called, but they’re one-size fit all. You have to fold them and tie them around your waist. Fun fact, I’m actually wearing the black pants beneath the blue pants when I’m doing this. I couldn’t change on the stage, after all. We were in the middle of Ironwood Park – and, yes, that is the same park I got “Ironwood” from for my original pen name “Ashlee Ironwood” for November Snow.

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Fun facts about the elders:

There are ten elders in every generation. At the beginning of Seconds Before Sunrise, only four are left.

Alcohol doesn’t affect an elder’s mind state once they have transformed. This is often how the elders are picked, but – most of time – it runs in the family, so the elders are pretty fixed.

Luthicer is the first half-breed elder. Ever. And he originally worked for the Light as a warrior.

Wordplay:

I love word play, so here are some that happen in The Timely Death Trilogy:

The setting “Hayworth, Kansas” is not a real city but is rather a combination of two factual Kansas towns: Ellsworth and Hayes.

“Shoman” –Eric’s Dark name—is a play on “Show man.” Since he cannot reveal his identity, his name mocks him. Hence why he hates it. Eric’s last name “Welborn” is purposeful irony—“well born.”

Luthicer is a play on Lucifer.

The elder “Eu” is short for Eugene, which literally means “Well born.” (Like Eric’s last name.)

Photoshoot (2)

Below are two photos. The one on the left is the actual office I wrote The Timely Death Trilogy in. And, yes, that is my father circa 2007. The one on the right is the reason I loved that office. We had a forest behind our house. It was the perfect view, especially in the winter, so I thought I would share a picture of me back in the day – just doing the usual, hanging out in camo. Can you see me? I kind of glow.

P.S. This forest plays a HUGE role in my next novel.

forest

Excerpt (2)

The phrase “seconds before sunrise” can be found in the first novel, Minutes Before Sunset, but did you know “Death before daylight” can also be found in Seconds Before Sunrise? These moments are the ones that foreshadow what the next novel will be about.  Here’s the excerpt that includes book 3 as a phrase. During this scene, the shades are waiting orders to go into battle. This chapter begins on 257 in Seconds Before Sunrise, and it’s told by Eric:

Everyone was awaiting his orders, and everyone knew we had to obey them the second he spoke them. One man vomited in the corner while another pulled him to his feet. A woman, perhaps his sister or girlfriend, ignored his shameful nausea. I wanted to tell him it wasn’t, but the crowd stared at me.

I was their descendant, and my actions would dictate how long the war lasted. There would be death before daylight, but we didn’t have to wait for daylight to end it. The quicker I killed Darthon, the less of a massacre there would be. But I couldn’t afford to think about my people if I were going to stay focused, and they knew it as much as I despised it.

Photoshoot (3) Shades are everywhere! 

Since I wrote the trilogy in high school, fans of November Snow actually have already finished reading the original trilogy. This means there are people who have known the ending from the beginning—as well as the identity of Darthon. There’s actually a shade in November Snow. Her name is Katie, and she doesn’t know what she is. Here is the excerpt from Katie’s first appearance:

Katie

Music time:

The Timely Death Trilogy has a soundtrack on 8tracks.com, including the XX, Manchester Orchestra, Dido, Enya, First Aid Kit, Sara Bareilles, Florence + The Machine, Linkin Park, Stateless, Dj Tiesto, Tantric, Plump, Vanessa Mae, and Jem. Listen to it by clicking here.

Excerpt: (3)

This chapter starts on page 20, and it’s told by Jessica. During this novel, she doesn’t have a memory, but her memory comes and goes as nightmares. In this scene, she is painting one of her dreams. The bolded quote is on Goodreads if you want to “like” it.

The wind was beneath my feet, and the town was miles below. Lights twinkled through the mist of Hayworth, and purple sparkles clung to the atmosphere, shining against the moon’s dim light. I could barely breathe, but I was alive, and I couldn’t deny the reality of flight. It was too real to be a dream. Only expression through art could subdue my confusion.

My art class was an arrangement of seniors, chatting quietly as I sketched a loop of wires. I’d paint the sparkles across the sky once I began, but I couldn’t continue yet. My depiction of the dream I’d had the night before wasn’t even close. The sketch was too innocent and held no emotion. The dream wasn’t a nightmare, but it remained as if it were worse than the one about the forest. The comfort was peculiarly chilling.

“Nice painting.”

Number One Quote:

destiny

Seconds Before Sunrise Dedication:

To Calone – for showing how the darkness can be brighter than the light.

~SAT

P.S. If you enjoyed this, please take a moment to check out Minutes Before Sunset and/or Seconds Before Sunrise on Amazon. Book 1 is only $3.89 right now, and the ebook of Seconds Before Sunrise releases on June 12th. If you click the photo below, you’ll be sent to Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon. Thank you for your support! 

Amazon

Writing with Barbie

19 Apr

Prepare for laughter during today’s post. But – before we get onto the giggles – I want to share two important bits of news.

Paris Carter reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise, stating, “The novel also includes several internal struggles for Eric and Jess that sparks tension throughout the entire novel, and it’s the chaos of them struggling to work out their answers and fight themselves that bring Shannon’s novel to a second dimension.” Read the entire review here or check out his review of Minutes Before Sunset first.

I also participated in an interview with Doodles, doodles everywhere. We talked about what hurts me the most as a writer, and I expanded on the research that went behind The Timely Death Trilogy. Check it out.

It’s been a few days since I participated in my first podcast interview, but I wanted to write about something fun since my last post was rather dreary. That’s when my mind immediately returned to The Lurking Voice. (Just a small, Kansas City update though, they found the Highway Shooter, so things feel a lot better around here. Maybe that’s why I’m so eager to post something I can laugh at…I mean, laugh with you…as you laugh at me.)

Back to the topic.

If you listened to the full interview – which you can by clicking here – then you know that I confessed to many writing strategies that I haven’t mentioned before, although “strategies” will quickly turn into a debatable term during this post. My ultimate, reluctant confession happened when we discussed November Snow, my first published novel.

I was 11 when I started writing it and 16 when it was published. It’s safe to say that it isn’t my best work, but I am planning on re-writing it. As we were discussing this, Ryan Attard asked a great question. How does a preteen plan a novel out? That’s when I said it.

November Snow was based on a game that I played out with my Barbie dolls as a much younger kid. Now, if you’ve read November Snow, then you might be concerned, considering how violent the book is, but there’s no need to be concerned – (I think.) That’s what I told my high school teachers anyway when I was asked about the dark nature of it. But that’s another story for another day.

Today, I wanted to share a funny truth to November Snow. No matter how dark the story is, many of my characters were actually based on the dolls I used. I admitted to it on the podcast, and now I am re-confessing it on here. Even better, I dug through some boxes, and I found the old toys, so I’m sharing a few of them as well as small excerpts from the novel that proves this goofy aspect of my writing.

You’ve been warned.

A little background before we begin:

November Snow is a young-adult, dystopian novel, and it is told from dual, first perspectives: Daniel and Serena. Unfortunately, I lost the Serena doll (she might have lost a limb or two or maybe even a head.) But I still have Daniel, who you will see soon. I’m going to share three pictures, and each picture has numerous characters on it. Below each picture, I will have a one-sentence background, and below that, I’ll be sharing the real excerpt from the novel. I’ll also include page numbers as well as who was telling the story at the time (Daniel or Serena.) I am also including a little note, explaining how my 11-year-old brain worked. Got that? Okay. I even think I’m lost, but trust me – it’s organized. Hope you chuckle as much as I did writing this post! Traveling to the past can be a funny adventure.

First picture: from the left to the right: Robert, Daniel, and Calhoun. 

theboys

Robert: 19, leader of the Southern Flock (hates hugs)

“I turned around to see Robert’s dark brown eyes staring at me, and my heart lunged into my dry throat…He muttered something, his brown hair shagging in his face, and I laughed. “ (Serena, 156-7)

Note: Believe it or not, he’s not the antagonist. Sort of?

Daniel: 18, leader of the Northern Flock (all around hunk)

“The guy looked like Daniel. He had the brown, muffled hair and tanned skin. He even had the blue and white jacket down, but he wasn’t responding to his name.” (Serena, 181)

Note: So, if you didn’t notice, I even based some clothes off of these toys.

Calhoun: age unknown, Daniel’s mentor. (kind of a hard ass)

“From the bottom step he could have been mistaken for a modern-day giant. His face was strong, as were his muscles, and he looked like he could barely fit into the sweater he was wearing. He had been in a POW accident, in which he had lost one of his arms, but he refused to tell the story. Normally, he had a fake arm in, but tonight, a gray sleeve dangled at his side, blowing in the chilled November wind.” (Daniel, 25)

Note: if you listened to the podcast, then you know this character actually ended up being very similar to my real father. Except my dad has both arms. And he’s not a vet. But I swear they are alike.

Second Picture: from left to right: Daisy and Maggie

girls

 Daisy: 16, member of the Southern Flock (I hate her.) 

She doesn’t deserve a note or description. Seriously. Have you ever hated your own characters so much that you regret bringing them into existence? I think Daisy might be in my top three of characters I’ve created and despised. #authorproblems.

Maggie: 16, member of the Northern Flock. (crushes on Adam in private)

“The front door opened, and Maggie walked in. She was wearing a small, pink coat and white disco pants that had gone out of style a century ago, but she still pulled them off easily.” (Daniel, 240)

Note: is it just me or is Daniel incredibly aware of fashion trends?

Third picture: from left to the right: Amy, Justin, and Marisa

Now for the youngsters, the category of characters that caused one of my high school teachers to ask if I needed to talk to someone after she read my novel and discovered only a few of the characters survive. (Seriously. It’s on the back of the book…) From left to right, we have Amy, Justin, and Marisa.

kids

Amy: 14, member of the Southern Flock. (Hates being called “Amy.” Her name is Amiel Marie Young.) 

“Amy’s hair was tied back in a French braid.” (Serena, 144)

Note: So this was more of a hairstyle thing, and you can’t really see it in the doll anymore, but it was there. I promise.

Justin: 6, member of the Southern Flock (borderline obsessed with hockey)

“Justin, blond-haired and brown eyed, was whisked off his feet by the collar of his shirt.” (Daniel, 479)

Note: There’s actually a hockey scene in the book just for this hockey-themed doll. (I really have no shame as I share this, do I?)

Marisa: 7, member of the Northern Flock (too small to crush on Adam, but apparently, all the girls like Adam…maybe I should’ve shared Adam.)

“A small girl struggled her way into Adams’s lap and leaned her bony elbows onto the table. She had long, brown pigtails that rested on the wiggling table and innocent eyes.” (Daniel, 44)

Note: The hair is there. The hair is totally there.

So there you go. My young-adult novel that almost got me in trouble as a teen was originally created during playtime as a kid.

Try to figure that one out.

I sure haven’t.

~SAT

If you want to check out the collector’s first edition, click here.

If you want to check out the collector’s first edition, click here.

 

March Ketchup

30 Mar

Seeing as this is my second “Ketchup” post ever, I am amazed by how much I am falling in love with these. It’s a lot of fun to go back to analyze stats in order to figure out what you all found decided was the most popular. This helps me understand you all, and I think it also shows other bloggers what goes on behind the scenes here at ShannonAThompson.com. I’ll slowly be adding in more categories as I realize what will be the most helpful to everyone! Here is what I’m sharing this month: my big moments, top three blog posts, the one blog post I wish received more views, the rest of the blog posts, top referrer other than search engines, top searched term, and gains in followers, likes, and shares. I also included every website who has helped me this month.

Big Moments:

currentSeconds Before Sunrise released on March 27th, which is the moment every writer looks forward to, but after the release party, something amazing happened! My novels skyrocketed into the top 1,000 books in the Kindle Store. Your growing support is astounding, and I cannot wait to continue into the future with my next novels, including “Death Before Daylight” (book 3 of The Timely Death Trilogy.) If you want to start now, here’s a link to Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise.

Other big moments included actress, dancer, and director, Gracie Dzienny tweeting about my novels. I also found out my poem will be published in the first edition of LaLuna Magazine, so look out for more news on that coming in April.

twomom

 Top Three Blog Posts:

1. Oh, yes. I Did Record a Video: I guess this means that I need to post more videos on my YouTube channel. I invited you to my launch party in all my nervous glory.

2. What’s Your Shade Name? And other Author Announcements: The shade name generator was possibly the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It’s also nice to know you all are interested in reading about my author life!

3. My Home Away From Home: This was a post I was nominated for, and I spoke about my favorite place to go. The post was also the anniversary of my mother’s death, and I shared how cemeteries bring me peace, even to this day.

The Post I Wish Got More Views:

Writing Tips: The Five Senses: This post actually got a lot of views, but I spent more time organizing and writing this blog post than the others. I analyze how to include the five senses in a novel, but I also ranked what I and other writers believed to be the easiest to the hardest sense to include. After that, I showed tallies from my own novels to display if my original thoughts were correct or not. I still believe this prompt is a fantastic (yes, time consuming but fantastic) prompt for all writers to try.

nomakep

Other Blog Posts: 

Below are the other blog posts I haven’t mentioned yet. They are organized into categories.

Writing:

My Writing Process Blog Tour: Nominated by Dan Thompson, I explained my writing process.

Why I Am Most Nervous About the Second Book of a Trilogy: Middle novels are often seen as transitional novels, and I fought that – hard.

What Changes from First Draft to Publication: I share my personal experiences in editing.

The After Party: The day after the release of Seconds Before Sunrise.

Reading:

The Controversy of Rating and Reviewing Novels: there’s a lot of argument going on between readers and writers. I discussed a few of the most common ones.

 So You Want to be a Book Blogger: Tips for setting up your book reviewing website.

Is that Novel REALLY Dystopian? How Market Trends Affect Incorrect Labeling: Novels are often mislabeled on purpose due to marketing strategies.

My top referrer other than search engines was my Facebook page.

My top referrer other than search engines was my Facebook page.

Other:

No Makeup Selfie Campaign for Cancer Research: I always take time to participate in important events like this.

Guest Post: The Passion – she is contagious: author, Sorin Suciu blogged about his passions.

The Oscars: Who I Want to Win This Year: I have to do fun posts every now and then.

And last, but definitely not least, I want to thank the websites who supported me this month by reviewing my novels, interviewing me, and featuring my work during this crazy fun month:

Reviewers: Fantasy is More FunLife With No PlotJust A Third Cultured KidThe Modest VergeWrite Out LoudA Reader’s ReviewCoffee Shop ReaderEnnlee’s Reading CornerPau’s CastlesChris PavesicThe Novel ListPress Pause, Fast ForwardBreathe Wild FlowerMental CheesecakeLife with no PlotEndless ReadingSo Little Books, So Little TimeFantasy is more Fun, and Tamara Morning.

Interviewers: Dan Thompson, A Reader’s Review, The Urge to Write, Writing Under Fire, and Desirable Purity.

Features: BIT’N Book Promoters, Paranormal Book Club, and Fantasy is More Fun,

I picked this picture because tonight is the Full Worm Moon. (by Free Photos and Wallpapers.)

I picked this picture because tonight is the Full Worm Moon. (by Free Photos and Wallpapers.)

The After Party

28 Mar

Yesterday was my official release date of Seconds Before Sunrise (now available on Amazon.) The virtual party was a great time – and if you weren’t there, we enjoyed a collection of shades, including 6 guards, 4 elders, 3 warriors, 1 student and 1 descendant during the What’s Your Shade Name? game. Eric even got a little dressed up:

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So, today is just about you guys and how wonderful you all are. Special thanks goes out to everyone who came to the celebration – all 338 of you – and I have a group of fantastic reviewers and interviewers that I want to thank below:

First, I must thank Dan Thompson for my latest interview. His questions were thought-provoking and engaged in ideas I haven’t had to answer during a review before. Learn if I believe in the paranormal and fate while reading about one of my recently revealed secrets by clicking here

After that, Jess and Sarah at The Mental Cheesecake held a meeting about Minutes Before Sunset, and they talked about how “many authors neglect to include the thoughts of characters in such a realistic and entertaining fashion. It’s exactly how our brains work while in conversation. We’re very rarely just listening: we watch their body language, judge what they’re saying, think things we would never say and debate over what to have for lunch at the same time.” Find out what they thought about the teens in The Timely Death Trilogy by clicking here. (You might also find out who was intimidated and why.)

Breathe Wild Flower also reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, stating “all I can say is that I enjoyed reading this book so incredibly much.” (But, really, she said a lot more than that, so check it out by clicking here.)

While this was happening, Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise made it onto the bookshelves at Fluente Designs Unique BoutiqueIf you like jewelry, purses, and other goods, check them out, too!

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So if you’re wondering about what bloggers are thinking about Seconds Before Sunrise, I have two more reviews! Remember how I shared a father’s review during my last blog post? His daughter reviewed it, too! And you can now read why she said, Seconds Before Sunrise has it all: Comedy; romance; action. You name it, this story is the real deal.” by clicking hereHer blog, Just a Third Cultured Kid, is definitely with the follow.

The Modest Verge also reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise, stating, “I wasn’t sure what would happen next. It was exciting. Both books full of moments like that.” Read the full review by clicking here.

duce

I hope you enjoy both books as much as these lovely reviewers did! Today, I’m shipping off paperbacks to the lucky winners. The future feels as great as the party was fun. I look forward to the next one, and I cannot wait to speak with you all live again. Moments like these are beyond exhilarating. They are encouraging, lovely, thoughtful, and fun!

So, thank you to all of the readers, writers, and dreamers who continue to support one another as we live our dreams. Thank you. 

~SAT

If you are interested in previewing my novels, click on these links to “Look Inside”

Minutes Before Sunset (book 1) & Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2)

Oh, yes. I Did Record a Video.

26 Mar

Before I share my latest video (and by latest, I mean first video in a year), I have great interviews and reviews to share, and I hope you check them out! All of these readers are fantastic, and their websites are always entertaining.

First, A Reader’s Review both interviewed me and reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise. An exclusive excerpt is included in the interview, and the review starts off with, “It has a compelling and addictive narrative which explores the elemental themes of good versus evil, love and self-sacrifice and fate versus free-will. All lovers of paranormal and fantasy romance are advised to check out this series so that they do not miss out on a fantastic reading experience.”

After that, Write Out Loud shared how his daughter and he have been reading The Timely Death Trilogy together, and that is just the most wonderful thing to hear! I love when people come together through their love for reading, and I am beyond honored that a father and daughter are reading my work together. You can read his review of Seconds Before Sunrise here, but here’s a sneak peek, “Over the last few years I’ve read too many books by older adult authors write cringe-worthy dialogue and I worried that young Thompson (who is only in her early twenties) wouldn’t be up to it.” Find out if his worries were confirmed or if I overcame them through my latest novel.

And last but not least, Coffee Shop Reader reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise, too. (So man reviews are pouring in!) What was her favorite quote? ““The fantasized kiss was stolen time from the dreams…” If you want to check out more quotes from Seconds Before Sunrise, click here, but click the link above to visit her wonderful review.

Now – onto my video:

Thanks for watching my video! I now have a YouTube channel, so feel free to subscribe. I will post more videos in the future, but – as of now – I am ready to PARTY! Can’t wait to see everyone there.

SBSpartytime

If you are wanting to check out Minutes Before Sunset, click here. It’s only $3.89 right now, and Seconds Before Sunrise is also on Amazon. Feel free to read away. In preparation, I have torn my closet apart in order to dress like the books:

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And I’ve shared one of my secrets: I have a knife collection. Below is a photo I did when I was 17 that was inspired by The Timely Death Trilogy. That is my machete. And, yes, I’m fighting myself, and those pants are from Thailand. I believe I was 17 here.

1618571_647815161932335_1292444422_nDon’t worry – I won’t bring my machete to the party, but I will be dancing around in preparation.

See you tomorrow!

~SAT

P.S. Thank you so very, very, very much - sorry. I had to say it again. ;]

What’s Your Shade Name? And other Author Announcements

22 Mar

Today I have lots of exciting announcements, including an opportunity to win tons of prizes, but there’s something I definitely wanted to start off with:

game2

The first name is your ranking and the second name is…well…your shade name! I’m Student Shoman. What would you get at the Naming of the Dark in Minutes Before Sunset? Feel free to share the name generator around! I worked really hard on it, so I hope your friends and you enjoy it.

My latest novels.

My latest novels.

Now, onto my Author Announcements:

I haven’t done one of these in a while because I’ve been really focusing on bringing fun and engaging articles to everyone – writers and readers alike – but I must share all of this overwhelmingly happy news today.

Seconds Before Sunrise came in the mail. Seconds Before Sunrise is also on Amazon – which means you can read sneak peeks for free. If you don’t want to go there, click Chapter 1 to 3 to check out the first three chapters or click here for Minutes Before Sunset (only $3.89)

AEC Stellar Publishing is actually hosting a VIRTUAL launch party on March 27th from 7 – 9 p.m. (CDT) on Facebook, so come in your pajamas and play games for a chance to win signed paperbacks, bookmarks, and more! I would invite everyone personally, but Facebook makes that really difficult, so I apologize for my massive post invite. However, you are cordially invited to celebrate the dark side via The Timely Death Trilogy. (You can also LIVE interview me. EEEEE!) Click here or the picture below to join in on the fun. I really hope to see everyone there!

SBSpartytime

Click here to join! Win paperbacks, bookmarks, prize packs, and more!

I am beyond ecstatic for the release day! And I wish I could express my gratitude by sending everyone a giant hug or high five in the mail. Your support has been unbelievable. Minutes Before Sunset recently hit 100 ratings with a 4.48 star average on Goodreads because of YOU, and YOU are amazing! I definitely included you all in my “Acknowledgements” inside Seconds Before Sunrise. This is what it said: “An artist’s life has many ups and downs, so thank you to all of the writers, readers, and dreamers for their timeless encouragement and inspiration on ShannonAThompson.com. With all of your love, the future will be filled with art.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 1.42.36 PM

~SAT

Writing Tips: Sequel, Trilogy, Series, etc.

5 Sep

Since my last posting, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what writing tips I’m going to share next. I knew one thing: I wanted to expand on issues I’ve learned recently through rewriting and editing A Timely Death trilogy. Then I realized I wanted to talk about that in general: series.

I only need eight more likes on my Facebook Author Page to hit 600 likes. Can you help me out?

I only need eight more likes on my Facebook Author Page to hit 600 likes. Can you help me out?

Lots of writers want to explore what it is like to write a series, but they seem to run in to two problems: 

1. Where to start

2. Where to end

I think these are really important things to consider before writing a series. I know many authors start off with one book and then stretch it in to more, but I think, if you can, you should plan the series before you start writing book one, because it will prevent later confusion and contradictions if you know where you are going. I learned this through my experiences with A Timely Death and other series I’ve written. My experiences have been very different, and I want to share two of them, hoping that they show a possible path for other writers to consider:

First Path: A Timely Death

What happened: I didn’t know where I was starting or ending. In fact, I wrote Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2) before Minutes Before Sunset (book 1.) This happened, because I realized book 2 couldn’t stand by itself. The world needed to be created first, so I went back. As I was writing book 1, I came up with book 3. Obviously, this was very unorganized, and I had to do a lot of rewriting, not only with the scenes, but the characters. It look me a very long time to get to know my characters, since I got to know them out of order. It caused a lot of confusion, and that made it difficult to add the necessary things, like foreshadowing, symbolism, motifs, etc.

What I learned: I tried to take on too much too quickly. I was so excited to start the book that I didn’t even realize I was planning it entirely wrong. I was too focused on one thing to see all of the other loopholes I’d missed. After dealing with all of the issues I created myself, I realized I had to plan–but not only plan. I needed to breathe between planning and writing, take a break to make sure I was planning the correct path. I also learned to take more breaks: a break between planning and writing, a break between writing and editing, a break between writing book 1 and book 2 and book 3, a break when I finished, etc. Take breaks.

Original covers for A Timely Death trilogy: sizes represent order in which they were written

Original covers for A Timely Death trilogy: sizes represent order in which they were written

Second Path: (I can’t release the name, but I will call it by the primary colors: Red (book 1) Blue (book 2) and Yellow (book 3)

What happened: I planned Red, Blue, and Yellow before I started writing all of them. I drew out the world, charted the characters, played around with ideas, and just rolled around in my mind for months before I wrote down a single word. Even when I started writing Red, I contemplated more ideas and little scenes for Blue and Yellow. The entire time I was filled with excitement instead of confusion. I was never mentally “out of breath.” I went from Red to Blue to Yellow with ease, knowing I had all my time to add the symbolism, foreshadowing, and excitement that I wanted.

What I learned: Planning allowed me to have more time to enjoy the actual writing time. I was never worried about where I was going next–even if I was surprised by a sudden turn. This may seem like a contradiction, because I said to plan everything, but I must remind everyone of a little theory I live by: the characters are in charge, so my plans don’t always work out. That being said, I still insist on planning everything but keeping an open mind on how my plans go.

Basically: I’ve written numerous series, but the lesson that kept repeating itself to me was not to rush it. Even if I have a plan for one book that I know I want to expand, I stop myself from writing it until I know exactly where I’m expanding it too. (When I say “exactly” I mean a basic outline of events–not literally the entirety of the story, because, even if I planned that much, things always change in the moment of writing it.) My advice is simply to have a larger plan for the overall series and smaller plans within the books.

Think of writing a series like a road trip: You know where you’re starting, you probably know where it’s going to end, and you might have places you want to visit in between. But there might be some surprises along the way. Embrace them, and keep going. That’s where the fun is. 

~SAT

Novels to Movies

11 Jul

Before I start, I have to apologize! I’ve been really busy with numerous things in my life. I’m working really hard to finish the edits of Seconds Before Sunrise while completing my senior year in college. I’m also spending a lot of time with my family, but I promise I’m trying to post every other day!

Okay. Phew. Now today’s topic:

Every time I go to the theatre, I see a new preview to a novel-movie adaptation. The crowd either sighs or is filled with excitement. There are even entire bookcases at the bookstore dedicated to upcoming movies, but movie adaptations are arguable. Readers are often disappointed by this, but do all adaptations deserve this? I don’t think so. In my personal opinion, I look at adaptations as separate pieces of art–”a sister piece.” It isn’t going to be the novel, but it will represent the novel in a visual manner, so I try to stay positive and open-minded by taking the movie as what it is: a movie. Because of this, I wanted to reflect on my top recent favorites. Why? Because I have a list of upcoming novels-to-movies that I can’t wait to see, and I’m hoping others do too! (Or considering seeing them after they think of their favorites and maybe decide novels-to-movies aren’t so horrible after all.)

1. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Adventure/Drama/Mystery)

book-vs-film-extremely-loud-and-incredibly-close

The novel has much more time to get in-depth with the protagonist’s background along with his family’s background, so I am biased when I saw this movie is great. A lot of information is left out. (The novel is amazing!) But I understand why they had to cut it. They didn’t have hours and hours to put in all of the stories they put in the novel. But, in my opinion, if you have read the novel, the director seems to do everything they could to hint at these stories and bring up all of the emotions the novel did. This is a very sad book, revolving around loss and 9/11, and the movie isn’t any different. There are amazing performances done by all of the actors, and I really enjoyed this adaptation, even through I watched most of it through tears.

2. Never Let Me Go (Drama/Fantasy/Romance)kazuo_ishiguro

This is one that I strongly encourage reading the novel beforehand. The way the reader learns as a child would learn (and with the characters) without the writer simply coming out to explain the situation is phenomenal. This was the biggest loss in the movie, because they had to come out and say it in the movie. But I still loved it, because the movie allowed me to simply concentrate on the relationships between Ruth, Kathy, and Tommy, while also considering the point of the novel (no spoilers.) I recently watched this movie again with a friend who hasn’t read the book, and they loved it. But it is a tear-jerker! (As most of my favorite movies are.) However, I still found remarkable beauty in the meaning, and you won’t walk away without thinking about life.

3. One Day: (Drama/Romance)

One Day Movie_book

I fell in love with this novel like Em fell in love with Dex: insatiably and with hopeless aggravation. The movie brought up an entire different range of emotions. I didn’t necessarily fall in love with the characters, but I remained in love, and I saw them for who they were, and it was perfect. I have to admit that I’m not normally a fan of Anne Hathaway, but I loved her in this movie. She did a marvelous job, and Jim Sturgess rounded Dexter’s character in a way I was worried the movie wouldn’t. In the end, I was filled with the same emotions I was with the book, and I walked away satisfied and chatting about all the symbolic aspects of the characters’ lives. 

4. On the Road: (Advernture/Drama)70401

A Jack Kerouac classic. I love this novel. It’s one of my favorites. (In fact, most of my favorite novels-to-movies are my favorite novels.) In this case, there were some major changes, especially at the beginning, but I could understand why they did it. I still think the director retained the voice of the novel while also depicting the Beat Generation. I definitely loved Dean Moriarty. I thought Garrett Hedlund did an amazing job.

5. Beautiful Creatures: (Young-adult/Fantasy/Romance)

You may have noticed, but this is my first young-adult book-to-movie adaptation. When I originally sat down, I realized I was generally disappointed by young-adult adaptations, but I am very open-minded when it comes to adaptations. The reason I think I loved this one so much, despite a lot of information being left out, was how visually stunning it was. The director clearly put in a lot of hours in to the set alone, and I found it beautiful and dark–just like the storyline.

So what novels-to-movies are coming out? There are plenty, but here are my top five:

In the meantime, I will be writing, working, studying, and walking my cat...

In the meantime, I will be writing, working, studying, and walking my cat…

1. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

2. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

3. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

4. The Spectacular Now by Tim Thrap

5. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

Other popular ones: 

Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (Second one)

Do you have any novels-to-movies you really enjoyed and/or looking forward to seeing? I would ask about ones you dislike, but I try to stay positive and talk about what others like rather than the parts they dislike. However, I also believe that the things people dislike are just as telling, so feel free to talk about that as well. If you have any older novels-to-movies you think I may not have seen, please let me know! Considering novels and movies are two of my favorite things, it isn’t surprising when I say I love reading and watching them.

Again, I’m sorry I’ve been so busy, but I’m trying really hard to stay on schedule! I hope everyone is having a great week, and I’m loving all these reviews coming in. I’m always available at shannonathompson@aol.com, and AEC Stellar Publishing is still giving away free ebook copies to celebrate Minutes Before Sunset winning Goodreads Book of the Month. I appreciate all the support that has poured in. It means a lot to me, and it keeps me on my toes as I continue on with the editing process of Seconds Before Sunrise.

~SAT

Goodreads Quote of the Day: “I wasn’t sure what was worse: being oblivious or living within reality.” (Minutes Before Sunset)

Editing Tips: Word Count

7 Jul

Word count matters. As writers,we’ve all heard this. Although there are exceptions, this rule is especially true for beginning writers applying to publishers. Because of this, I thought I’d talk about it today since I know many of my readers are looking at publications opportunities.

1. Target Audience: This is a big one, because it often decides what the word count will be in a publisher. The numbers are decided based on average reading ability and popular novels. These numbers are considered the target range for that specific audience. I’ll get in more detail later on, but here are the main three I’ve come across in discussion with publishers:

  • Children: Chapter Books: under 20,000
  • Young-Adult: under 80,000
  • Adult: 80,000+ (This genre is interesting, because it differs extremely within publishers and the genre you’re writing. A lot of publishers still encourage under 80,000 for first time, but they are often more willing to expand, especially for science-fiction and mystery.)

2. Publisher: Every publisher is different. That being said, you can search among publishers that are willing to publish new authors with larger and/or shorter novels, including series. If you haven’t started writing a novel yet, I’d highly encourage checking out numerous publishers in your genre and looking up their word count preference. This is an easy way to set a clear goal for your novel, and it will help move you forward to the next steps. I once attended a writing conference with Rosemary Clement Moore, author of Prom Dates from Hell, and she hosted a word count workshop. She talked about figuring out your word count before using math to split up the basic plot line graph to figure out where you should be on your word count during certain events. For example: if your novel is 80,000 words, your climax should be anywhere between 60,000 and 70,000 words (depending on how quickly you’d like the resolution to happen.)

3. Consider Cutting and/or Adding: This is a big one. Once you finish a novel, you’re attached to it.

Correction: once you’ve retained an idea or seriously began it, you’re attached to it. Changing it, especially after the product is completed, is a scary thought. It’s tedious work–often more tedious than actually writing it. But I like to think of editing as another writing process, because editing seems to be a “dirty” word; it holds negativity–like everything before wasn’t good enough. That’s why I think of it as writing. It’s still creating. It’s fun, and things that change are often wonderful.

Click here to check out Minutes Before Sunset's Facebook page!

Click here to check out Minutes Before Sunset’s Facebook page!

To be perfectly honest, I write really large novels. Minutes Before Sunset was originally 136,000+ words. The final product, however, is right below 80,000. All three novels of my trilogy have gone this way, and I love it. Minutes Before Sunset is more fast-paced, and I even added more information than the first. I did lose a few scenes, but I’m not saddened by this. I’ve kept all of them, and maybe one day I can share them as an extra! In fact, many authors are doing this now, especially young-adult authors. Examples include Cassandra Clare and Lauren Oliver. Side stories have even been mass produced. (Stories that aren’t even told from main characters.) I think this is a great sign, because it shows how much readers want MORE, even after the books have been completed. However, it’s often safer–as a beginning writer–to keep in mind that keeping these stories and scenes can be risky when applying to publishers who are looking for smaller books. Look at Lauren Oliver. Her first novel, Before I Fall, was much shorter than her Delirium trilogy. This happens a lot in the publishing industry. They want a “first” book that’s smaller and not as risky. They can see if your work is good in the industry, and then they can release longer books or even series (which is another risky move when applying.)

One last piece: this advice is advice. What I mean is this: I am not saying to give up on your longer novels or series. I’m only clarifying what many publishers have deemed risky when considering first-time authors. But I would suggest, which most artists do already, to keep an open mind. If a publisher loves your long novel but wants it shortened, you might be surprised by how much you enjoy condensing the art. You might even like the final series being one book.

I am planning on writing about series in general or I would expand further on that topic.

I’ve also created a list of questions to consider about word count:

How long are your novel/s? Is there an average length? Consider trying to write something outside of your range. Ex/ write a short story if you write novels.

Did you have a word count goal set out when you started? Did you go over or under your goal?

What about your chapters? Are some longer than others? Considering splitting the sizes. This creates a shift in rhythm readers often enjoy. Ex/ one short chapter among numerous long ones can be a bit of a breather and speed things up.

Feel free to answer below. Sharing your experiences within our community can help other authors and writers. 

I am excited to announce Minutes Before Sunset climbed 150,000 ranks in two days. AEC Stellar Publishing is still giving away free ebooks, and it’s also available for $3.89 to celebrate being awarded Goodreads Book of the Month! Comment, message, or send me an email to shannonathompson@aol.com if you’re interested 

~SAT

Writing Tips: Holidays

5 Jul

As promised, I’m continuing writing tips, and today I am concentrating on the use of holidays in literature. No matter what culture you have or what country you live in, you probably celebrate holidays. I think this is a beautiful thing. Not only do holidays give us an opportunity to remember aspects of life like love, parents, or independence–they also allow us to dedicate the entire day to it. So why not use holidays in our novels to do the same thing?

Happy late Independence Day!

Happy late Independence Day!

There actually are reasons to NOT do this. They can easily come across as cheesy or distracting instead of symbolic. This brings me to my first rule:

Pick a Holiday Carefully: 

Holidays are often unnecessary, so choose carefully if you decide to use one. This is simply a personal preference, but I think holidays become something more when the author uses it in a symbolic manner rather than an event that simply happens. But I think that goes for an entire novel. All events should mean something within the plot, so why shouldn’t a holiday? For example, Minutes Before Sunset begins on Independence Day (Happy belated Fourth by the way!) I did this for three reasons:

  1. Irony: Minutes Before Sunset has a huge theme about fate and choice. Independence Day is…well…as it sounds: Independence Day for America–the setting of the novel. Because of this, it can symbolize the beginning of independence. It can also symbolize the opposite: lack of independence. This is what I’m talking about. The holiday now has two meanings. It fits the plot, and it fits whatever the reader wants it to be.
  2. Symbolic: Minutes Before Sunset is about the Light and the Dark. To me, this holiday involve a major ritual that is very light versus the dark: fireworks. I thought it represented the powers well, but it also represented Eric’s confusion in the beginning.
  3. Timing: it fit. Although I don’t want to admit this is a reasoning, because it seems to take away the meaning, it is, without a doubt, one of the biggest things authors have to consider. Does it fit your plot without straining the time or the characters? Use the holiday if it fits naturally. If it doesn’t, move on to my next topic. You may want to consider it :D

Considering Creating Your Own Holiday: I think this is great in any kind of novel, not just sci-fi and fantasy. It can show a unique side to a character, family, or community, which, in turn, can create a more believable or relatable setting. This can also apply to creating a special event. Fun fact: Minutes Before Sunset has a “made-up” celebratory event: The Naming. This is when the shades receive their powers. I really enjoyed creating this, but, to my surprise, a lot of readers found interest in it as well:

Ky Grabowski wrote: “A part of the book I really liked was the naming ceremony that is held when kids turn of age to receive their powers. A big part of the Shade’s history. The ceremony is not all it’s shown to be with glitter and crowns. Eric shares his thoughts while watching it all unfold & he makes note that what was in store for the future was far from something to celebrate. They had responsibilities and a lot of pressure comes with that.” Read rest of her review here.

Basically: Holidays are great. That’s why there are entire books about them, like “A Dog Named Christmas” by Greg Kincaid.

Fireworks on the lake

Fireworks on the lake

I hope all of your writings are going well, and don’t forget that Goodreads Book of the Month, Minutes Before Sunset, is on sale for $3.89 (ebook) to celebrate the award! I’m also giving free copies away for review: email shannonathompson@aol.com

Available now on AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwordsKoboDieselSony, and Apple.

~SAT

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