Writing Tips: Character Profiles

12 Jul

Lots of announcements today before I share my thoughts on creating character profiles:

ShannonAThompson.com hit 17,000 followers! This is truly amazing, and I cannot believe that we’re continuing to grow. I started this little blog without any expectations, but if I had started it with expectations – I’m positive you have surpassed even my wildest dreams. Thank you for your continued support!

Other than that, I partook in an interview with Lit Chic. You can read what I think the hardest part about writing is, but I also have a shout out for all of my readers :D So click here to read the entire interview.

And if you are just now checking in and you’re curious about The Timely Death Trilogy, you’re in luck:

Hines and Bigham’s Literary Tryst reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2) - Mindy says, “If you are a Young Adult fan and love a book that can make you feel like you are part of the story and part of a different world you have to read this trilogy. I know I love it!” But I have to share her favorite part of book 2. This excerpt happens when Eric is talking to his guard about Jessica and deciding if he should tell her the truth.

“I don’t know how she’d take all of this at once, especially without proof.”

“So, transform in front of her.”

“And give her a heart attack?” I couldn’t imagine her reaction. “No, thank you.”

“At most, she’d faint.”

Read her favorite romantic moment as well as the entire review by clicking here.

If you haven’t read book 1, My Library in the Making reviewed Minutes Before Sunset this week, stating, “One of the top reasons why I enjoyed this book was all the conspiracies.” But you can read the full review, including her favorite quote and favorite scene by clicking here.

Hope you check out Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise! Your growing support is the ink in my typewriter. Without you, my words would be invisible.

Now, onto today’s post (thank you for sticking with me!)

Writing Tips: Character Profiles 

A few weeks ago, I wrote The Beginning of my Writing Process, in which I revealed many details about how I first start off creating a novel. In the comments, I found a fantastic question about building character profiles, so today – this post is dedicated to Taking on a World of Words. I’ll be discussing three key elements I focus on when building a character profile – something I do BEFORE I write a novel – and I will be using Sophia Gray, the protagonist of my upcoming novel, Take Me Tomorrow, as an example. If you are interested in reading my dystopian book, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com for an ARC.

1. The Basics

I suggest covering these first when taking down notes because you don’t want to overwhelm yourself by trying to cover a vast amount of complicated information first. So – even though I know the complicated stuff first – I always begin taking my notes with the basics. This includes a small physical description, strong personality traits, and background. This is sort of like taking your driver’s license and adding your personality to it. If you like using pictures for inspiration, then grab some from Pinterest, and build from there. (And never be afraid to change things as long as you take note and edit it in your final draft.) Here’s an example of something you might come up with:

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I don’t normally create photos such as that, but I wanted to show what can be done. Below you’ll find some information from my notes about Take Me Tomorrow. (I had to cut a lot of it to avoid spoilers, but this shows my organization process)

“Sophia (16) Sophia Elizabeth Gray

Physical: always wears her mother’s necklace, curly, brown hair, barely 5 foot, three small scars on her neck from Lily’s black cat, Saga. But she also has scars on her arms and legs from the forest.

Personality: loves running, close relationship with her father and Lyn, a stubborn heart. Prefers sweaters and jeans over dresses and heels.

Background: Born in Albany Region, moved to Topeka Region when she was seven, currently lives with her father, Lyn, and Falo.”

2. Timelines

Create a past, present, and future timelines. This is where things begin to get complicated, but don’t fret. Start simple – with everything you know – and make sure nothing contradicts anything else. From there, I would suggest figuring out things you don’t know (when did your protagonist meet their best friend?) Don’t forget: if you write it on your timeline that doesn’t mean you have to write it in the book, but it is safe to know everything and anything you can think of. I would even go as far as saying you should create separate timelines for each character while also creating one large timeline that shows overlaps between characters. Below is a VERY small example of Sophia’s past timeline. This includes the top five major events that happen before the novel ever takes place.

timeline3. Cover Everything 

I mean it. I know it sounds like a lot of work – and it is – but it will save you a lot of trouble in the end.  I create so many maps it’s ridiculous. I even have a “height’s map” which shows what characters would look like standing next to one another. Another example of a character map I had for Take Me Tomorrow is a map with every character’s home (past and present), and routes that they took from home to school to work (basically, anywhere they walked.)

Basically, you can never have too many notes. If you want to graph out the neighbor’s life who is never mentioned, then do it. In fact, you know the years that I picture Take Me Tomorrow to be in, but the actual years are never mentioned in the novel. Most of all, have fun! Never forget to have fun.

~SAT

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Censoring Myself in the Publishing World

10 Jul

Fantasy is More Fun is giving away tons of prizes to celebrate their one-year anniversary. Check out the raffle by clicking here, be sure to join, and you might win ten novels! Minutes Before Sunset is included!

Censoring Myself in the Publishing World

It’s hard to be yourself in an art industry – as strange as that sounds.

Correction: It’s hard for me to be %100 myself 24/7 in the publishing industry. Perhaps this a fact of life – not just something in the publishing industry – but I have found myself censoring myself about my lifestyle because I’m afraid that I will lose readers if they don’t agree with me. (Personally, I don’t see why we have to agree about everything, but this still happens.) This happens in and outside the publishing world, but I wanted to share the topics I struggle with as an author in order to help other authors talk about their personal troubles. I also hope to take my first step at being %100 honest without fear of reader rejection.

So here is a list of things I have been afraid to mention before:

Books I Dislike and Like:

This isn’t about if they are good or not. I am a firm believer in the fact that books can both be good and be disliked. My personal example of this is Divergent. I just could not get into it. I could not wrap my mind around a society the forces you to be only ONE thing, and the color scheme seemed too simple for such a complex topic. I also felt like it had a lot of religious undertones that made me very uncomfortable. That being said, I still think Veronica Roth is a fantastic writer. I can see a variety of reasons to love it. I can appreciate her prose. On the opposite spectrum, I enjoyed Twilight. There. I said it. Granted, I was 14 when I read it, so it was also marketed to girls my age at the time. I actually remember buying Twilight after a friend told me about it and being reluctant only to go back the very next day to buy the second book that had just released. It wasn’t until much later that I considered the themes in it – when others saw it as abusive, I saw it as just a story – just entertainment. Either way, it still makes me really sad when readers hate on other readers, so that’s why I think I censor myself about my personal book tastes. I don’t want a fan to think I’m attacking their favorite book, because I understand how personal a book can mean to a reader, how much joy and heartbreak can come when a reader loses themselves in a story and how destructive it can feel when others try to tear it to pieces.

I smoke hookah and I drink:

I’m 23, so both of these acts are legal for me, but I try not to mention this about myself because my readers are primarily young adults, and I don’t want to encourage them to do either of the things. As a contradiction, my next novel, Take Me Tomorrow, deals with a lot of themes about drugs in society, including the youth. The sad fact is that many young adults find themselves involved with drugs. This a reality. But my biggest fear is someone telling me their kid blamed me for trying hookah or trying a drink. Here’s another ugly truth: my mother died from a drug overdose. They were legal painkillers prescribed to her. So I know the deadly consequences that can derive from drug use, legal or not. Perhaps – because of my various experiences – I am sensitive to how people perceive me in regards to the drugs in my upcoming novel. Who knows? When I’m asked in interviews “Where do you write?” I find myself struggling to answer honestly, “In a local hookah house.” Because I don’t want other kids to smoke because I smoke occasionally. I know it’s bad for you. I understand this. I am only afraid readers will somehow think I am saying it’s good for you when I’m not.

From Post Advertising

From Post Advertising

Depression associated with publishing:

It happens. I have days where I struggle – just like any person in any industry – but there seems to be a strange stigma associated with artists. If we complain, we aren’t grateful. If we complain, we are selfish because there are so many writers who wish they were published. But can’t we be honest? Can’t we say it’s hard? Can’t we feel sad sometimes, too?

Characters I’ve based off of people:

I don’t directly and purposely try to base my characters off of people in my life, but – as time passes – I can see strong correlations. Still, I am terrified of admitting to my relationships (friends or not) with these people because many of these people are no longer in my life. It feels rude. It feels selfish. Maybe I’ll get over it. Maybe I won’t. But sometimes – when I realize this – I miss them. I miss the characters that were once my closest friends. And I have struggled to even make friends. Since I moved around a lot as a child, friends didn’t last very long. We always moved. But losing friends when I still lived in the same area was an extremely difficult part of my teenage years. I didn’t have to deal with it until I was 15 – and it was hard. Really hard. I couldn’t comprehend how someone I confided in could turn their back on me (or how I managed to turn my back on others.) So when those characters clear up, it can be confusing and unreal and strange, so it’s much easier to deny the possibility that my characters might – in fact – be them.

Certain scenes:

When I was younger, it was easier to be true to the story. I didn’t care what readers thought of a controversial scene, but now I find myself changing them or cutting them out completely – mainly because I or people I have met have gone through many of these trials and I don’t want to stigmatize the victims. I don’t want to hurt them. I don’t want to trigger something.

My personal life:

So you know I have a cat. You know I live in Kansas. You know that I work for AEC Stellar as an author and an employee. You know I lost my mother at a young age and my college roommate. But you don’t know how much I mentally struggle to believe that I created a relatable female character because I struggle to relate to females in general (which I think stems from the fact that I was mainly raised by my father and brother, therefore feeling more comfortable around males.) I’m also more comfortable writing as a male, and when readers ask me about it, I get really uncomfortable about it, because I don’t even know why. To clarify, I’m not uncomfortable with the fact that I enjoy writing as a boy; I get uncomfortable when someone tries to make sense of it, like there has to be a reason for it. I – on the other hand – just want to accept it for what it is. The only other topic I would like to clarify on is that I am not just a “cat person.” I grew up with dogs, and I love and miss my husky, Shadow. (So much so that Argos in Take Me Tomorrow is based off of him.) He was in my life for 15 years. If I had a yard and the proper time and money for a puppy, I would get one. But I don’t. So I have my cat, Bogart, and I love him very much. But I love cats and dogs and pretty much every animal on the planet.

There are ugly parts of everyone’s life and art, but – even though it is common – it is hard to confess to those darker moments. That being said, confessing to those thoughts can help others who struggle with truths they avoid. I like to believe that my “ugly” parts aren’t ugly at all. I am human. That’s what makes us artists.

Feel free to share those things you avoid mentioning below! It’s quite a freeing moment, and I’m glad to share my struggles here, especially if it helps other artists come out with their struggles!

~SAT

Different Social Medias and How I Use Them as an Author

8 Jul

One announcement today:

Taking on a World of Words nominated ShannonAThompson.com for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! Thank you :D When I am nominated, I post the facts and blogs on my Facebook page, but I also want you to check out the three blogs I nominated: Ciara Darren, Fallen Manga Studios, Elie Eldritch.

Different Social Medias and How I Use Them

As a writer, readers might picture my every day schedule as my laptop and I sitting in a café, writing out the next novel to be released, but – in fact – that’s pretty far from the truth. I spend a good portion of my time on social media, both for myself and for AEC Stellar Publishing. Even if it looks like I’m logged off, chances are that I am writing a future post and scheduling it on a timer – chances are that I’m constantly posting somewhere online.

I first signed on with AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. as an author only. But a few months in, they asked me to become a Social Media Wizard. (That’s right. I’m a retired Wizard.) During that time, I learned a lot about how to optimize social media for authors, but I also had personal preferences that I still use today. During this post, I’m going to share the different social media platforms I enjoy and struggle with. If I struggle with it, I’ll try to find a helpful author that I know who uses that specific platform.

WordPress:

If you didn’t already know, this website is based off of WordPress. This is – by far – my favorite platform to participate on. Not only can I express what I’m doing in detail, but I can also go see what my readers are doing. I love being able to share pictures and links and ideas in depth – so I guess you could say that I love my blog. A blog allows us to express our day-to-day lives or to share inspirational messages or to connect on a deeper level than 150 characters. That being said, a blog demands a lot of time. I, personally, post every other day. That may not sound like a lot, but it takes up a majority of my social media time. Because of the level of fans I can meet, I definitely think it is worth it though – but even if I couldn’t meet fans, a blog is something I enjoy, so I believe I would blog anyway. In fact, I used to have another blog before this one.

Facebook:

Join me today!

Join me today!

This is my number two, mainly because it is my top referrer to my blog. That being said, Facebook can be a tricky slope to climb (and a fast one to fall down on.) Facebook is constantly changing, and it has developed a bad reputation for keeping viewers away from the pages they like. However, I’ve had a lot of luck with it. I do get views and clicks that continue to grow, and that satisfies me, but I have learned one thing: if my views are going up, but then I post something that gets no likes, my next post has a less of a chance of being viewed. Basically, as soon as you climb, you can slide back down very, very quickly. But I think it’s important to figure out what makes your stats climb and what causes them to fall. For me, I try to mix it up with inspirational articles, news about my novels, fun photos, and engaging posts that allow readers to post their favorite pages and other things that they enjoy, so I can understand them. I also share posts from other pages, and I contribute to their pages as my page (not as my personal Facebook.) Beyond that, I participate in Facebook groups for authors and readers, which allows me to connect with even more people, and I friend those people with my personal Facebook so we can stay in contact easier.

Twitter:

At first, I really disliked Twitter. I still find it a little more difficult than Facebook. It always seemed to reach writers but not readers. But I’ve been focusing more energy on Twitter recently – simply posting about my day – and Twitter was ALMOST my top referrer last month. So I’m still trying to fully optimize this, but I do like it, and I am beginning to understand more hashtag opportunities as they come. For authors, I would suggest dwindling down the number of times one posts “5 Stars! Buy this steamy romance for .99 cents! (insert link here)” I see it every other post on my newsfeed, and it’s very rare that I see anyone retweet it. I almost feel like these posts cause readers to stop following writers. I’m not saying you can’t post that ever. But every five minutes is pretty bad. I try to share my blog posts on Twitter, but I mainly use Twitter to discuss trending topics – like when Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal came out. I live tweeted to fellow viewers, and I gained 50 followers in one night. (That was awesome!) An awesome fan also created a hashtag for Take Me Tomorrow, so if you ever tweet about my latest novel, please use the hashtag #Rx. :D

bomGoodreads:

I am friends with many readers on Goodreads, and I love adding novels to my bookshelf, but – in my opinion – I have yet to really use Goodreads in depth. I have participated in groups, and Minutes Before Sunset won an award on Goodreads – but I find myself drowning in how much information is on there. It’s fantastic. Don’t get me wrong. I definitely recommend it. But to participate the right way, I feel like you have to spend A LOT of time on there, and I don’t have as much time as I would like in order to fully communicate with everyone. And – as an author – Goodreads has terrified me from time-to-time. They have many new rules in place that tell authors not to communicate with readers, and if you do, your novels and profile can be taken off forever. (EEK!) I know many authors who continue talking to readers and many who don’t, but the risk keeps me away most of the time.

Pinterest:

This is a personal thing. I love it. I only recently started it. I met a few new readers and fans, but I’m enjoying it as an author because it is unbelievably fun to create your boards for your books. I’ve started creating “private” boards for books I’ve just started writing, so it might be a great place for me to go back and share original concepts when the novel is published. In fact, I have boards for The Timely Death Trilogy, Take Me Tomorrow, and November Snow.

Tumblr:

I started Tumblr in the same week as I started Pinterest. I can’t get a grip on it. I like it, but I miss the ability to comment or communicate in a lengthy fashion. That being said, I’ve met many authors who absolutely LOVE Tumblr, and Amber Skye Forbes has a great post about how to manage your Tumblr in an effective manner.

Instagram:

Believe it or not, I have met a few readers there, and I love to update it once a week or so. But I don’t believe it’s necessary to have one as an author. I enjoy taking pictures and sharing them, so it worked for me in the sense that it easily blended in with my every day life.

YouTube:

It’s been difficult to keep up with my channel, and I’ve only uploaded two videos, so I can’t say if this is a great platform or not yet (not from personal experience anyway) but I am planning on continuing it.

Wattpad:

I’m very grateful to Wattpad. I love it. I haven’t been able to spend more time there, though, so I can’t really say a lot about for now, but I can say that it helped me out a lot before I signed with AEC Stellar Publishing, so I do recommend it for writers looking for advice on their manuscripts, but I have yet to spend enough time on it recently to get in-depth about this platform. If you’re interested in reading more, check out my article From Wattpad to Publication.

LinkedIn:

I barely use LinkedIn. I have one, but I probably only log in once a month or so. That being said, I heard it’s a fantastic place for nonfiction writers.

So there you have it. These are a couple of social media places that I go to during my author life, and I hope you enjoyed reading about them. If I had to give any specific advice, I would say that authors should treat their social media like they treat their novels: be true to yourself. Don’t force social media just like how you wouldn’t force a novel. Find what type works for you and enjoy your time on it. Just because everyone spends hours on Facebook doesn’t mean you should, and just because I love blogging doesn’t mean every author should have a blog. I believe readers can tell if authors are enthusiastic or not in novels and on social media, so find one you’re passionate about. You’ll be talking to readers in no time at all.

~SAT

Enough is Enough. I am not ashamed that I read Manga.

6 Jul

Two announcements before I begin today’s post about reading Manga:

The Nerdy Girlie is giving away two journals along with an eBook of Minutes Before Sunset to one lucky winner. You can join the raffle until July 10 so click here, join, and good luck!

I’m also going to start putting the title at the top of my post after the separation between announcements and the articles, so they are easier if you don’t want to read my announcements. (But please do!) Being able to share my author life with you all means a lot to me, and your kind support is the extra boost of energy I need when the author life gets tousled around in chaotic troubles.

Enough is Enough. I am not ashamed that I read Manga.

So – originally – I was hoping to upload a new video to my YouTube Channel Coffee & Cats (since I haven’t in two months!) but I was unable to, so my plan didn’t work out, but I am planning on uploading a new video soon. That being said, I sat in front of my laptop last night, slightly panicking over which topic I wanted to talk about instead. If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know I’m a planner. I have dozens of pre-written blog posts for moments like this, but I just couldn’t share one of those today because I had this urge to share what is at the tip of my tongue, and that is Sailor Moon. If you didn’t know, a remake released last night all around the world. (And it was amazing!)

But Shannon, wait, you only blog about reading and writing…What does Sailor Moon have to do with that?

A lot…to me. Maybe not to you. But stay with me because I’ll explain everything soon.

You see – to me – Sailor Moon is more than just a silly cartoon that played in the 90’s. I still remember the first time I saw it. I was sitting on the floor in my grandparents’ living room, watching it on a little, old television that could be turned to black and white by opening a panel on the right side and twisting a knob. If you turned the knob too far, everything flickered to neon green. (I got a kick out of doing this!) After that first episode, I was hooked – or obsessed, however you want to say it.

Photo from Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal website

Photo from Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal website

At this point, you might still be wondering – Sailor Moon is a television show. Seriously, why are you blogging about this?

Because it has to do with some hard reading lessons I learned.

Sailor Moon, yes, started out as a television show for me, but I grew up, and it disappeared from daytime television shortly afterward. At some point during my preteen years, I remembered that show because I read Daughters of the Moon by Lynne Ewing (still one of my favorite YA series) and it reminded me of my once-loved show. So I went searching, and I found out it was a comic book. I did not know the word “manga” yet, and I definitely didn’t know how different (and more mature) the manga was compared to the show I watched as a kid. But I quickly learned after that.

I read every manga I could get my hands on. (And I hid this because I was embarrassed.) You see, I feel like manga has a worse reputation than reading YA as an adult – it’s something we should ashamed of. Adults don’t read cartoons. Teens shouldn’t read cartoons. That stuff is for kids. Blah. Blah. Blah. It goes on and on. And I will admit that I fell into this at one point. I even asked for gift receipts at the local bookstore because a clerk once said something about how he could never read something like that. What can I say? I was fourteen and impressionable. Now, that I’ve gotten over it, I can admit that I was embarrassed because I fell into reading bullying.

But enough is enough.

I like manga. I like it a lot. It’s currently one of my “go-to” reads, especially when I can’t afford novels (or the bookstore is closed because it’s two in the morning, and I need a break.) But I read it anyway. I read it because I like it.

I’ve only started admitting to reading it within the past year. Perhaps this is because I’m older, and I don’t see a reason to hide it anymore. (And now I’m ashamed that I hid it at all.) After all, grown adults read Spider-Man and go to the theatres to watch Iron Man – both of which are comic books – but I, somehow, convinced myself that manga was different, that it was childish and immature and weird.  And it’s not just me. When I started admitting to reading it, I had friends and family say the same things (ironically, as they were talking about the new Batman movie.) It was almost like Marvel and DC comic books are acceptable, but manga isn’t.

Manga is not weird or childish or immature or something we should be ashamed of. It’s just like everything else. It can have bad and good stories with great characters, mystical plots, and wonderful emotions.

To me, watching the new Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal last night reminded me of how strongly I feel about this subject. Even though it was an anime that I started with and not the manga, it turned me on to manga. (Warning. I’m about to fangirl like crazy.)

Seriously. If only Bogart looked like this.

Seriously. If only Bogart looked like this.

You see, Sailor Moon is more than Sailor Moon to me. It was independence. It was power. It was being graceful and strong at the same time. It was not relying on a man but also not hating on men. It was friendship AND love. It was wearing boots with heels on them. It was kicking ass, being equal, and finding strength within yourself while believing in the strengths of others around you.

Oh. And a black cat. (Seriously. If Bogart was female, he would’ve been named Luna.)

Stories are more than stories to fans. They make up intricate parts of ourselves and resonate in our every day lives as lessons, hopes, and dreams. No, my dream is not to wear a mini-skirt and fight the Dark Kingdom. But it is to be true to myself and fight whatever it takes to get there. To me, even though Usagi cries and whines at the beginning, she grows into herself and she always steps up to the challenge. Always. And she’s never selfish when it comes to her relationships with her various loved ones. (Unless you consider getting bad grades selfish…then, okay. I’ll give her that.)

So, go ahead – poke fun at the fact that I’m 23 and reading a manga or a comic book. You can’t hurt me. You can only hurt yourself but not giving various types of literature a chance. You might miss out a story that resonates with you for the rest of your life.

But if I had to be completely honest, the older I get, the more I don’t understand reading bullying. It’s pointless and destructive. Please don’t make fun of anyone for reading anything. Seriously. It is okay if a type of literature isn’t for you, but that doesn’t mean everyone else has to hate it. Read what you enjoy. Give new things a chance, and even if you don’t like it, don’t bully other readers. What if you bully the next J.K. Rowling, but that reader never becomes a writer because they are turned away from reading because of reader bullying? Let them read what they enjoy, and perhaps, you’ll both find new types you enjoy when you support one another.

~SAT

Happy Fourth! & Take Me Tomorrow News

4 Jul

This is one of those rare posts where my announcements are not separated from my post, and you’ll see why below:

Happy Fourth of July for everyone who is celebrating today! The past two Independence Days, I talked about how important the holiday is for The Timely Death Trilogy. For that reason, I wanted to share this review first. Live. Laugh. Read. said, “Minutes Before Sunset” is an absolutely stunning novel that completely messed with my emotions… Shannon’s depiction of love is like none that I have read before, sweet and without angst. Theirs is the love that you wish you could have.” But you can read the latest review by clicking here, and Minutes Before Sunset is only $3.89 here. It begins with Independence Day, so you can start on the same day the book begins.

I also wanted to share my latest interview by Marcha’s Two-Cents Worth. I explain how I find time to write, how AEC Stellar Publishing found me, and what was most difficult for me in Take Me Tomorrow. You can read everything I said by clicking here.

Special thanks also goes out to The Troubled Oyster for nominating ShannonAThompson.com for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. You may recall that I was nominated during my last post, but this is a new blog, and I’ve nominated three new blogs that I would love for you to check out: Allie Potts Writes, The Worlds of Tarien Cole, and Carl’s Corner.

You may have also noticed that I updated my progress bar on the right side of my website. Here’s the funny part. It is already outdated. I’ve received the ARCS, and I’m sending them to those readers who are interested in reading Take Me Tomorrow NOW – so feel free to email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I’m also taking interview and giveaway requests. (That’s right. I can supply YOU with three, free eBooks to your followers, so….I’ll be on my email on week.)

Although I’m celebrating Take Me Tomorrow, I’m also celebrating Independence Day, and I wanted to find the perfect way to express those two events. Below you’ll see a photo of my father. He’s been very supportive of me throughout my many years of publishing adventures, and I have dedicated Take Me Tomorrow to him for this reason. In fact, Take Me Tomorrow began as a simple conversation my dad and I had over coffee one afternoon – so today, I am sharing my dedication and acknowledgements from Take Me Tomorrow with everyone. You are in them, I assure you <3 

Thank you for your support, and if you’re celebrating, have a safe and fun fourth!

~SAT

My awesome dad

My awesome dad

Dedication:

To my father – for every chat over coffee, the words will never cease.

Acknowledgements:

My dedication says it all. “Take Me Tomorrow” was inspired by a single chat my father and I had over coffee. Many years have passed since that unforeseen afternoon, and my father supported me through every single one. Even though his psychic abilities couldn’t predict my future, he always believed in my publishing dream. For that reason, I want to thank him.

A lot of research was done for this novel, including hours of hunching over texts that morphed the story in a direction I never expected it to go, but my loyal team at AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. always believed in it. For that, I want to thank Raymond Vogel, Heather Hebert, and Ky Grabowski. Special thanks goes out to Clarissa Yeo for designing the cover of my dreams, even before I saw it.

To all of my readers at ShannonAThompson.com and beyond, thank you. I love and appreciate every moment you’ve shared with me – today and into tomorrow.

~SAT

Don’t’ forget to email me at shanonathompson@aol.com and add Take Me Tomorrow to your Goodreads shelf by clicking here. I can’t wait for the future!

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I Am Not My Characters

2 Jul

First, I would like to thank Honya’s Bookshelf for nominating ShannonAThompson.com for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I posted about it on my author Facebook, but here were the three blogs I nominated – A Writer’s Life, EBook Bum, Books are Delicious – and I would love for you all to check them out.

July is here, and I’m beginning this sizzling hot month with a topic that I often get heated about. (Not angry. Just passionate.) As a reader, writer, and employee of a publisher, I see all sides of this topic, but the most common misconception I see is writers believe in whatever the characters or story expresses. I am here to disprove this.

I’ve actually mentioned it before in my article The Top Ten Seriously Awkward Conversations I’ve Had When People Hear I’m A Writer, but here’s the small quote about that:

“7. Why are you pro/con (insert controversial political or religious topic here)?

I’m sorry – what? Just because my character carries a gun on his right hip or gets an abortion or believes God isn’t real, doesn’t mean that I do these things, let alone believe in them. In fact, I don’t have a lot in common with many of my characters.”

When I started publishing, I was really young and naïve. I never even considered someone judging my personal life off of my work, but – to my horror – this happened. (And “horror” is an appropriate word.)

My first novel that I published was November Snow. A lot of characters – mainly young children – die. (It says this on the back of the book. Just saying.) And for some reason, shocked readers seemed to look at me a little different the next day. I even had a teacher ask me if I needed to talk to someone in a concerned tone I will never forget.

To me, this was so surprising because I felt like they looked at me as if the violent world was a reflection of some deep and dark complexity inside my teenage soul, but – in reality – I was just writing a story about discrimination, violence against the innocent, and oppression.

The reason I’m so passionate about this topic – that authors are NOT their fictional stories – is because I felt as if the meaning of my novel disappeared under the concerned wave of my reading peers.

Before you think, “Oh. That was only because you were 16 and in high school.” Here’s a few example from my latest work. (Spoiler Alert for Seconds Before Sunrise. If you want to skip the spoilers, please go to the next bolded line.)

In Seconds Before Sunrise, Jessica goes out with her friends. She drinks. The reader sees her have a few beers and a shot of vodka, but she does mention that she drank more than that in the next chapter. However, I am now being asked if I am such a lightweight. (Because apparently all of us brunettes are lightweights.) I’ve also been asked if I like beer (no) and vodka (yes. Only Grey Goose. What can I say? I’m half-French.)

…sigh…

Just because Jessica Taylor goes to a bar underage with her friends does not mean I go to the bar with my friends underage, that I ever went to a bar underage, or that I’m encouraging kids to get into bars underage. First of all, I’m not underage, and second, I don’t have any friends. If I’m going to the bar, I’m taking my characters with me. (And probably a notepad so I can write interesting stuff down about interesting people who will probably become interesting characters in my next interesting novel.)

Now, if I had to be honest, sure, there are some things I might have in common with my characters. But I have lots of things in common with a lot of people. That doesn’t mean we are the same person. Same thing with characters. One of the biggest questions I’m asked about The Timely Death Trilogy has to do with the physical description of Jessica Taylor in Minutes Before Sunset and how I look.

I get it. Jessica has blue eyes and curly, brown hair. I can see why people might think that’s why she looks a certain way. But there are millions of people with curly, brown hair and blue eyes. And she also has a double identity. As a shade, she has straight, black hair, so she doesn’t always have curly, brown hair. In another point, I picture her hair to be much darker than mine and a lot more maintained. It’s also curlier. She also has blue eyes. Mine are gray – they are technically called “moonlit.” (Awesome.) And she has purple eyes when she’s a shade. When I turn into a shade – wait. I don’t. I don’t transform into a mystical being at night, and if I did, I surely wouldn’t admit to it.

But I try to avoid describing my protagonists in extravagant details, especially since it is written in first POV, because I want my readers to be able to put themselves in their shoes. I don’t want readers to think they are supposed to be in MY shoes instead. And my next novel, Take Me Tomorrow, is told from one perspective, Sophia Gray. She loves her elkhound-husky, Argos, but she hates cats. She absolutely despises cats. If you’ve been following me for a while, then, you already know that I don’t. I’m a cat lady. But here’s a venn diagram – Take Me Tomorrow style – to show difference and similarities.

tmtrefer

Just because a character does/thinks/feels something does not mean that it is a reflection of the author. It’s not some subconscious, multi-personality Matrix. It’s not deep-rooted secrets or twisted desires surfacing under the tip of our almost-empty pens. Sure, it could be that way for some (or even many authors) but not all of us are basing our novels and characters off of our real lives. The art is just art. It’s a story. And that can be a pretty deep and complex experience without the author’s personal life being involved.

I am not my characters, but more importantly – my characters are not me. They are complex and meaningful and questioning and confusing and lovely in their own way, and that’s what makes books so amazing. If I were the protagonist in all of my novels, you wouldn’t be shown a world with clairvoyant drugs or paranormal shades. You would read about me sitting around with my cat. And I think we all know what we would rather read. :]

Sit back and enjoy the read! And if you’ve ever experienced someone thinking you are what you write, please share below! 

~SAT

 

June’s Ketchup

30 Jun

Here we are again – the end of the month, the beginning of a new one soon to come. Ketchup posts are among my favorite type of posts (but really, who can choose?) because I enjoy sharing what was the most popular and least popular here on ShannonAThompson.com.

If you’re new, these “Ketchup” posts are like the “Extras” on the DVD you just rented from RedBox – except you don’t have to pay $1 or give me your credit card information. I explain the behind-the-scenes this month, including 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. But I am missing two categories this month: YouTube and my guest blogger. (What can I say? I missed blogging so much after my two-week haitus in May that I could not stop blogging for anything, but I am definitely looking for a guest blogger for July, so be sure to comment below. You just might be chosen.)

Big Moments: (This might get a little insane)

You must be tempted by now.

You must be tempted by now.

Seconds Before Sunrise finally released as an eBook: FINALLY. You can read book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy on your tablet, iPhone, or whatever electronic, glowing device that keeps you awake at night. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this moment since the paperback released in March, and I am so happy to see the eBook selling (even more than Minutes Before Sunset!) So here are the links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords – although it is available everywhere – and the eBook is only $3.89.

The Seconds Before Sunrise book trailer released: And, yes, you can watch it below.

nominee-award-february14_(3)Among this chaos, Minutes Before Sunset received an award badge from Noveltunity. You see, back in February, the eBook club nominated Minutes Before Sunset, but I kind of just found out this month. (Silly me.) So here’s the badge that I found to be really pretty. My novels also hit 150 ratings on Goodreads. This may not seem like a big deal since authors like J.K. Rowling have…oh, millions of ratings, but I am very thrilled to see 150 readers taking the time to rate my novels on Goodreads. Thank you. Taking a moment out of your day to tell other readers what you think means more to an author than we can express. No matter if the rating is good or bad, it helps new readers decide on taking a chance on an Indie author like me. So thank you for taking that time to rate my books. :D

I also want to thank the many readers who take the time to quote my novels around the Internet, like on Twitter. In fact, Tony Jaa deemed me quote-worthy. I may be a gigantic Internet stalker fan of his now. (His martial arts moves are pretty neat!) So thank you for your support, Tony Jaa!

tony And last but definitely not least – we hit 300 posts on WordPress this June! Hasn’t it been quite the adventure?

Top Three Blog Posts:

1. The Top 10 Seriously Awkward Conversations I’ve Had When People Hear I’m a Writer: This was the top post I had this month and also the top post I originally thought wouldn’t get any views. I simply wanted to share a few funny moments I’ve had in my author life, and I’m glad you laughed with me. (Seriously. I was sort of nervous I would offend someone.) But it goes to show you how having a good laugh is always a good thing.

2. Author Announcements: This is going to sound strange, but it warms my heart when one of my “Author Announcements” posts becomes so popular. Originally, they didn’t get as many views as my “Writing Tips” but now, they do, and it’s a great comfort knowing that my readers are actually interested in my author life instead of only being interested in my tips.

3. Hachette and Amazon: Let’s Talk About it: This is such an important dispute to watch if you are a writer, publisher, or reader. (Or even just an Amazon customer.) And – unfortunately – it’s still going on today.

Actor and director, Andrew Vogel, with Minutes Before Sunset

Actor and director, Andrew Vogel, with Minutes Before Sunset

The Post I Wish Received More Views:

The Timely Death Trilogy Explained: World-Building and More: I should’ve titled this post “Writing Tips: World-Building” but I didn’t – mainly because I receive almost a constant strand of emails about my world-building in The Timely Death Trilogy. This post, however, is not about The Timely Death Trilogy. Sure, I use direct examples from my trilogy, but I wanted to help writers see the groundwork of world-building in a paranormal world that lives in our human reality. That being said, this did get views, but not the amount I normally get with my writing tips post, so I’m afraid my readers who enjoy the writing tips missed this one.

Other Blog Posts Organized By Topic:

Writing Tips:

Author News:

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

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

Controversy:

For fun:

At the end of the month, I also like to share my supporters, my helpers, and all of the little, lovely elves that created all of these shiny moments. If you would like to become part of the Keebler Factory, I am available at shannonathompson@aol.com for reviews, interviews, and features. (And cookies. I love cookies.) In the meantimes, here are my June supporters:

Reviews: Steampunk Sparrow’s Book Blog, The Leisure Zone

Interviews: Literary Heaven, Ebook Extravaganza, Dreams, Nightmares, Fantasties, and Visions

Features: Friday Fiction, Two-Cents Worth, Jonas Lee’s Imaginarium, A Way with Words

Awarders: Liebster Award by James G. Glass

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