The Pros and Cons of Setting Writing Deadlines

6 Oct

Announcements: 

Today’s HUGE thank you goes out to DJ FRESH, one of the most influential muso’s in the South African music industry, for quoting Seconds Before Sunrise book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy yesterday afternoon. Moments like these are unforgettable, especially since I have some wonderful music to follow!

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Rebekka.B’s Instagram photo

Also, I would like to thank Rebekka.B for reviewing Take Me Tomorrow on her Instagram. Not only is her picture beautiful, her review is wonderfully written, and she compared my latest novel to the song “Warriors” by Imagine Dragons. Here’s why: “The strength and power that the characters have are so on point and well written. I could relate to every one of them in a different way. At the end of the book you can only state that they are true warriors that fight for hope, justice and love…It’s a powerful book with powerful people who live in a powerful world.” Check out her full review by clicking here or read a preview of my book by clicking here. Either way, be sure to follow her book reviews!

In other news, I found out that two of my poems will be published in a literary journal at the end of November, but that is all I can say for now! Be on the look out for more news later this month.

The Pros and Cons of Setting Writing Deadlines

Being an author is one-part writing, twenty-parts managing everything else. By “everything else”, I mean editing, social media, interviews, organizing covers, and so much more. Marketing is generally where most of my time goes, especially if you consider any type of social media marketing. That being said, a wise woman once told me that I have to remember that I am always an author first. This sounds much easier than it actually is. Getting caught up in marketing is a slippery slope I’m sure almost all authors have fallen on once or twice before. One way I avoid that (and remind myself that I NEED to make time for just my author life) is by setting deadlines for myself. Sure, my publisher suggests timeframes as well, but today, I’m focusing on personally setting deadlines for oneself and what kind of benefits and disadvantages it can have.

Pro: It keeps you motivated

Even though passion can be the basis of writing, there are still days where authors just don’t want to write. Maybe we’re tired from our day job. Maybe our favorite T.V. show has returned for another season. Maybe we just don’t want to. And maybe it is okay to take a break. Not writing for a day is perfectly fine, but not writing for day after day after day? You’ll find yourself in a writer’s slump faster than you realized. This can also turn into the horrors of writer’s block. Having a circled date that says, “Hit 20,000 words” can help motivate you to keep your off-days in check. You don’t even have to force yourself to write in something you don’t want to. But having a time set aside to write SOMETHING can help you get somewhere much faster than you realized.

Con: It can make that motivation feel more like pressure

To me, motivation should always be a positive thing. It shouldn’t stress someone out unless it’s “good” stress (which I am told is an actual thing). If this motivation starts pushing you down or making you write less or pressuring you to rush or causing you to fret about dates, word count, and publication dates, then, don’t do it. That being said, I’ve failed at meeting a goal, and it was perfectly okay. I simply understood my timing a little better, and I started pushing my goals back a few weeks. Understanding my writing time has actually helped me understand my calendar a lot. For instance, I can more accurately guess when I will finish content edits so I know when to start talking to my editors and cover artist. A perfect example of this hit me recently. Originally, Death Before Daylight was supposed to come out in late 2014, but it’s now reschedule for January of 2015. That being said, I estimated the novel would be 80,000 words after content edits, and I’ve already surpassed that, so it might be pushed back again. But I can’t dwell on it. I have to move forward and keep editing the content so I can get it in the hands of readers.

Pro: use kitty stickers on your calendar to mark deadlines

Pro: use kitty stickers on your kitty calendar to mark deadlines

Pro: Achieving small goals can give a burst in energy

For me, actually hitting the exact goal I planned (or hitting it beforehand) brings so much excitement to writing. Think of it like a video game or a puzzle. Moving onto the next level can be energizing, and that burst of energy can assist in trying to get to the next one and the next one after that. As many of you know, I keep progress bars on the right side of my website, but you don’t know that I keep all of my progress bars on my laptop. They are dated, and if I’m feeling like I’m falling behind, I like to scroll through them in order to see just how much I’ve gotten done in the past few months. I always feel much better after.

Con: Having unrealistic goals can be disheartening

Sometimes, I think writers can set unreasonable expectations for themselves, but that’s also because every writer is different. I’ve known an author who can write a book in one month – and a good one – but that doesn’t mean every author out there should try to accomplish that. Setting deadlines is not about finishing quickly. The goal relies in writing well rather than writing fast, and setting a deadline can be that reminder to give yourself the needed amount of time to write well. Don’t let it turn into a reminder that you’re not writing fast enough or that you’re not keeping up with everyone else. It’s not about them or their deadlines. It’s about you, and your passion, and your love for writing.

In Conclusion:

Deadlines are not for everyone. They work for me. They keep me organized and feeling accomplished in-between publications, but I have also been known to put too much pressure on myself, so I also need to know to be aware of when deadlines become deadly to my writing life. It doesn’t happen often, but I do keep checking in with myself, and if I need to take a break – by, God, I do. I step away, hit the road, and crank Elvis through my Mazda’s radio until the sun sets. At some point, I return, and at some point, I set another deadline, and at some point, I complete another deadline before I make another one. But the goal goes beyond deadlines. The goal disappears somewhere in those words strung together into sentences put together in paragraphs for pages upon pages.

The deadline, whether it is met or not, will still become a book, and in the end, that is what matters most.

What do you think? Do you set deadlines for yourself? What were the pros and cons for you? Comment, like, and share below!

~SAT

Today’s Book Signing Event

2 Oct

Today’s post is short and sweet, but I would appreciate it if you helped me share the news!

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Today, from 6 – 8 p.m. (CDT) I will be signing books at Ice Fire in Shawnee Mission, KS. Here is the Facebook link for more information. There will also be free muffins and tea served (and smiles – lots of smiles), so I hope to see some wonderful faces there. I know. I know. Many of you are nowhere near Kansas. But maybe you have an internet friend or two that are. Who knows? I might even live update here during the day. As of right now, I’m incredibly nervous, and I’m distracting my nerves by planning a fun post about book signings later this month. Can you believe it’s October already? I’m still letting that fact soak in, but I’m hoping October will be good for everyone! To me, this signing is a way to start it out right.

A little fun fact that you might not know about me – I’ve done a book signing event before when November Snow was released, but I didn’t get one for Minutes Before Sunset or Seconds Before Sunrise. I did have one scheduled for Minutes Before Sunset, but my grandmother suddenly passed away that summer, and I had to cancel during my trip back to Pennsylvania. The time was very sad for my family. She was my last grandparent  that I had in my life, but I also found myself very saddened by not having something in my writing life to concentrate on. I hope that doesn’t come across as selfish. It’s hard to expression emotions over the internet. But – sometimes – in tragedy, solace can be found in every day life events or happy events or celebratory events, and I think I lost my opportunity back then, so a part of me is feeling as if that event is finally coming to a conclusion, so I can have new events in the future. I’ll have signed paperbacks of Minutes Before Sunset, Seconds Before Sunrise, and Take Me Tomorrow.

Past, present, or future – I am grateful for all of your support right here on the Internet, but I hope to have the opportunity to meet some of your lovely faces in real life someday.

Until then, I’m charging onto this battlefield!

Wish me luck,

~SAT

 

 

September Ketchup

30 Sep

September’s Ketchup

September’s Ketchup is here! For those of you just now checking in this month, Ketchup actually means “catch up.” At the end of every month, I write these posts describing my big moments, top blog post, the post I wish received more views, my top referrer, and more in order to show what goes on behind the scenes here at ShannonAThompson.com. I hope these insights help fellow bloggers see what was popular, but I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

Thank you for being a part of my life this September!

Big Moments:

#1 Clicked Item was Take Me Tomorrow on Amazon

#1 Clicked Item was Take Me Tomorrow on Amazon

On the 25th, I had my two-year anniversary of blogging right here on ShannonAThompson.com. Hitting these moments remind me of how much time I spend on here because I love sharing my thoughts and discussing your thoughts in the comments. What can I say? You keep me coming back! And now there are 18,000 readers here.

That’s right. ShannonAThompson.com hit 18,000 followers this month. As I’m writing this we have 18,201 club members. I only mention that because I wanted to clarify that I write my Ketchup posts a few days in advance. That’s because these posts take me a long time to collaborate. But I just wanted to thank everyone for joining me on this little website of mine.

Other big moments included the release of Take Me Tomorrow’s book trailer and the Author Extension Community’s services. (Prices have now been added, and I think there are very affordable for the Indie community. But that’s just me.)

Who knows? Maybe next month I’ll have more news about Death Before Daylight.

Top Three Blog Posts:

1. 10 Things Authors Worry About: I’m glad I’m not alone in these worries, but it looks like we all have to stop worrying so much. :] That’s my way of telling everyone how awesome they are.

2. When Reading is a “Fad”: What’s “in” doesn’t matter – what matters is how we’re all reading.

3. Coffee & Cats: Episode 5: I’m both shocked and very happy that you all are enjoying my interactive poetry series! My stats boomed that day, so I’m definitely continuing this, and I cannot wait to continue hearing from you about my latest poems. Thank you for supporting my latest project.

seotermsetpThe Post I Wish Got More Views:

My Love Story: Poetry Edition: This isn’t the usual type of post that I share here on my website, but I wanted to explain why I was starting my interactive poetry series by describing how I fell in love with reading and writing poems. That being said, it was also a very personal story, and it was a very difficult story to share here. A lot of it has to do with my college roommate’s death in 2012, and the anniversary of her death is approaching this October. I find that poetry has been the main way I’ve coped with it over the past two years, and this poetry series is very much reminding me of how and why I love poetry so much as well as my college years.

Guest Post:

Authors Don’t Read by T.B. Markinson: A fascinating discussion from author, T.B. Markinson, that I believe many writers and readers can relate to. Meeting an idol can be strange, but it can also cause questions to arise about our own goals and life. A shout out to T.B. Markinson for writing this wonderful piece!

Other Blog Posts Organized By Topic:

Writing:

#1 Referrer was TheShelf.com (I have no idea why, but that happened.)

#1 Referrer was TheShelf.com (I have no idea why, but that happened.)

Reading:

Author Life:

At the end of the month, I also like to take a moment to thank all of the websites who supported me by posting reviews, interviews, and features. If you would like to review my novels or interview me, please send me an email at shannonathompson@aol.com. I always love speaking with new bloggers, writers, and readers! And I will share your post on all of my websites.

Reviewers:

(Take Me Tomorrow) The Examiner, Eat Books for Breakfast, The Random Book Blogger, Star-crossed Book Blog, Tranquil Dreams, Read Watch and Think, Into the Written Word, The Bookie Monster.

(Seconds Before Sunrise) The Other Side of Paradise, Read Watch and Think

(Minutes Before Sunset) Written Art, Bonnie Brown’s Book Reviews, Read Watch and Think

Interviews: The Examiner, P.S. Bartlett, The Random Book Blogger, Bonnie Brown’s Book Reviews, Into the Written World

Features: Two Books Are Better Than One, Underrated Books

Awarders: The Opinionated Woman’s Musings, Books for Fun, Deby Fredericks 

Since fall arrived this month, I thought I would pick out a picture to represent this Ketchup post. Original picture by wallpaperswa.com

Since fall arrived this month, I thought I would pick out a picture to represent this Ketchup post. Original picture by wallpaperswa.com

 

Website Wonders

28 Sep

Announcements: 

In the latest review, The Bookie Monster highly recommends Take Me Tomorrow, and you can read why by clicking here. But here is small quote: “Once this story gets rolling, which is right in chapter one, you have to just keep turning the pages. It wasn’t my plan, but I read it in an afternoon.” If you want to check out my latest novel, click here for Amazon.

Website Wonders: 

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of September’s Website Wonders categorized as so: Reading, Writing, and Inspiration Art and Life. Between each category is a photo. If you enjoy these websites, be sure to like my Facebook page because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Enjoy!

Reading:

23 Science Books That Are So Exciting They Read Like Genre Fiction:

List of Newspeak Words from Orwell’s 1984: I’m a huge George Orwell fan, so this was really neat to read.

Which of the All-Time Top 100 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Books is Right For You?: I love, love, love this. It is so much fun to explore from various answers.

A Clever Visual Representations of Famous Quotes

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Writing:

How to Structure a Story: The Eight-Point Arc: A very basic way to start off writing if you want to study the structure of writing.

Free Landing Page Images: This was sent to me by CEO of Users Think, John Tuner, and it includes 99 free images for authors to use as covers.

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Inspirational Art and Life:

37 Photographic Proofs That Iceland is a Miracle of Nature: I found these to be both beautiful and shocking!

28 Magical Paths Begging to be Walked: Sent to me by reader, Steven Sanchez. (If anyone ever finds articles like this, please send them to me! I love them.) I found these photos to be a wonderful, mid-day escape.

24 Unusual Beaches You’ve Never Heard of Before: I’m stuck in Kansas, so this is what I end up looking for when I want to be on a beach.

DNA tests ‘prove’ that Jack the Ripper was a Polish immigrant named Aaron Kosminski: How could you not find this article fascinating? It might not be true – it might never be 100% solved – but the new evidence is pretty neat to read about.

This Man Found A SECRET Tunnel in His House. And It Let to a MASSIVE Underground City! What would you do in his position?

Have fun internet diving!

~SAT

Author Announcements

26 Sep

Author Announcements:

Yesterday was my two-year anniversary of blogging here on ShannonAThompson.com. For that reason, I would like to thank each and every one of you for liking, sharing, and commenting on my website as we move forward into the future. A special thanks goes out to my top five commenters – Charles Yallowitz, Mishka Jenkins, theowllady, Deby Fredericks, and Phoenix Rainez – and I hope the next year is just as amazing!

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If you’re interested, here were my top three blog posts from this past last year:

1. Censorship of Self-Published Authors or Something Else? (Oct. 13, 2013)

2. Scribd, Oyster, and Why I’m Hesitant as a Reader and Writer (Dec. 29, 2013)

3. Writing Tips: Hobbies and Talents (Nov. 13, 2013)

I hope you enjoy the posts if you haven’t read them already!

Moving onto the future – many exciting things are happening this fall, so I wanted to share them today, and I hope you’ll help me share the news.

I am doing a meet and greet book signing in the Kansas City area on October 2 from 6 – 8 p.m. Here is a link to the event’s page on Facebook for more information. I know many of you are from around the world and cannot make it in person, but it would mean the world to me if you shared it with your friends and followers in case they are nearby me. I would love to meet everyone that I can! (Also free chocolate muffins and apple tea will be served.)

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I would also like to take this moment to state that prices have now been added to my Services page. They are subject to change, but I hope you check those out. The Author Extension Community provides personal assistant services, including review requests and content editing, as well as social media help, such as Facebook event photos and assessment guidance.

In other news, my latest poem – Peeling Oranges – has been added to my interactive poetry series on Wattpad. Be sure to like, comment, and vote for your chance to be mentioned during my next YouTube video on my channel, Coffee & Cats.

My next two posts – Website Wonders and September Ketchup – will be closing up this month, but I just want to thank everyone for being so enlightening, encouraging, and energizing these past few weeks. I’m excited for what Autumn will bring, and I cannot wait to spend it with you all right here on ShannonAThompson.com.

Have a great weekend,

~SAT

P.S.

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Why Are Parents Dead in Fiction?

24 Sep

Announcements:

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

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

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

Thank you for reading my announcements today!

Why Are Parents Dead in Fiction?

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

Why are parents always dead or absent?

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

Literary reason:

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

From The Write Catch

From The Write Catch

Personal reason:

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

So where am I going with this?

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

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

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

~SAT

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