October Ketchup

30 Oct

October’s Ketchup

October’s Ketchup has arrived! 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 what goes on behind the scenes at ShannonAThompson.com. Some of the topics I cover include my big moments, top blog post, guest posts, my top referrer, SEO term, and more in order to show insights that will hopefully help fellow bloggers see what was popular. I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

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

Big Moments:

#1 Clicked Item was Take Me Tomorrow on Amazon

#1 Clicked Item was Take Me Tomorrow on Amazon

At the very beginning of this month, I had my first book signing in seven years! I was able to meet a lot of readers – both old and new – and we even shared muffins and tea while discussing books. It was a lot of fun! So quick shout out to Ice Fire Hookah Lounge for hosting the event.

Two amazing celebrities from South Africa quoted Seconds Before Sunrise this month. The first thank you goes out to DJ Fresh – one of the most influential muso’s in the South African music industry – and the next thank you goes out to The Big Break Legacy – a reality T.V. Show.

In other news, two of my poems were accepted for publication in a literary journal, but that’s all I can say for now! November will bring more information about that.

Top Three Blog Posts:

1. Why Most of my Characters are Male: I wrote this after a Take Me Tomorrow book review was posted, mentioning the controversy that’s been talked about surrounding my latest novel. That controversy was having more males than females, and I finally addressed why this is with the book reviewer’s permission.

2. A Day in my Life as an Author and Publisher: I’ve been meaning to post this for almost a year! You can see into my daily life by reading this schedule of mine I live by during my publishing work week and my author life.

3. The Five Emotional Stages of a Book Signing: I had my first book signing in seven years, and I recorded every moment of emotional stress as well as happiness.

Guest Posts:

My name was #1 again :D Thank you!

My name was #1 again :D Thank you!

The Unconventional Working Habits of Brilliant Writers: Ninja Essays came to the rescue when I needed a day off, and they sent me a wonderful infograph along with a small section of text about authors and their strange habits. Who knows? Maybe you have something in common with Fitzgerald.

When the Protagonist Dies: Cogpunk Steamscribe wrote a beautiful discussion out in reflection of my post about parents dying in fiction. Her post, however, covers the fiction pieces in which the protagonist dies and how both writers and readers can react to this happening.

Other Blog Posts Organized By Topic:

Writing

Entertainment:

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) People Like Books, ATROX, Reading in Wonderland, SDAV Reads, Note to Selph Book Reviews, Miss Heliotrope Reads, Southern Bred, Southern Read, The Book Spa, The Incorrigible Reader, Zoe Mortez, Krazy Reads, Rebekka B. Dan Thompson, Confessions of a Book Blogger

(Seconds Before Sunrise) The Incorrigible Reader, Red Sands Reviewz,

(Minutes Before Sunset) SDAV Reads, Real Rad Reads, The Incorrigible Reader

Interviews: Whispers in the Dark radio, Read to Write Stories, Life of a Young Adult Writer, People Like Books, Lit World Interviews,

Features: Ice Fire Hookah Lounge, Arvee Frenchie, Read to Write Stories,

Awarders: Deborah Wong

Original picture by Hulk Share

Original picture by Hulk Share

Website Wonders

28 Oct

Announcements: 

If you’ve always wanted to know just a little bit more about Take Me Tomorrow, Confessions of a Book Blogger reviewed the novel with slight spoilers (but nothing major!) And you can read why she said, “this book is practically perfection.” by clicking here to read her full review. I hope you check out Take Me Tomorrow!

Also, another review of Take Me Tomorrow is available on ATROX. Here is a sneak peek, “This book has lifted my spirits about dystopian books because this was fresh and original. If your a dystopian lover or you just love adventure, this book is definitely for you.”

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 October’s Website Wonders categorized as so: Halloween-Themed, Reading, Writing, and Just For Fun. 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!

Halloween Themed:

50 Scariest Books of All Time: You might have heard of Stephen King. He’s on this list.

Creepiest Literary Haunts Around the U.S.: Looking to travel?

18 Literary Pumpkins For a Bookish Halloween: Anyone carve one of these delightful pumpkins this year?

10632874_619494601504909_7679906442351708623_n Reading:

The Mortal Instruments to Return as T.V. Series: I know. I know this is T.V., but it’s one of my favorite YA series, so I am beyond ecstatic that they didn’t drop it completely. Holding out hope that it will be amazing.

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Huxley vs. Orwell: I am a huge Orwell fan, so this cracked me up.

Poetry Day: 10 British Actors Read 10 British Poems: I know the poets out there will love this.

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Writing:

Writing: How-Tos and Resources: The amount of information on this website is unreal.

There’s a Word for That: 25 Expressions You Should Have in Your Vocabulary: Nefelibata – cloud walker: one who lives in the clouds of their own imagination or dreams, or one who does not obey the conventions of society, literature, or art.

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Just For Fun:

Shiritori Game: a word game for all

How to be a nerd and why that is awesome: The defining characteristic that ties us all together is that we love things.

The 18 Most Suppressed Inventions Ever: I talked about how the drug in Take Me Tomorrow is not the only time society has created something to see into the future. Read this article and check out the Chronovisor

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Enjoy website hunting!

~SAT

When to Stop Writing

26 Oct

When to Stop Writing

This post is inspired by a comment that happened on my Facebook Author Page recently. The other day, writer – Angie Neto – asked me a fantastic question I’m sure all writers can relate to:

“Were you nervous when you published your first novel? I have edited, rewritten and changed chapters so many times now and still doing last minute searches for errors. When do you say enough?”

My Facebook answer:

“I still get nervous. I think that’s natural. You’re working hard to share your intellectual creation. It’s nerve-racking, knowing you will be judged off of it, but it’s well worth it. But I do think – at some point – you have to step away and have beta readers and editors deal with it, and eventually, you have to turn the manuscript in, and one day, you have to know you can’t change anything anymore (even though you’ll be dying to!)”

Special shout out to Angie Neto! Because of this conversation, I wanted to expand on this topic. That being said, I believe writing is always unique to the writer. Hemingway liked to drink while writing. I couldn’t write drunk if I wanted to. But I have been found writing in a dark closet before. (Don’t ask.) So I want to take a moment to share three times that I stop writing.

1. When I’ve spent WAY too much time editing and re-editing and re-editing

I’m only starting with this one because that was the main reason of writing this post. Editing is vital. Don’t get me wrong. But it can also be destructive, and I know this because I’ve been there before. I’ve hauled myself page over page over page over year over year – only to realize I’ve been editing this manuscript to death. At this point, I’ve basically butchered the entire manuscript because I’ve sliced my confidence apart a million times. What I mean to say…well, let me describe a sad recollection of events: Shannon writes book, Shannon edits book halfway through, Shannon decides to rewrite the entire script, Shannon edits that book, Shannon edits it again, Shannon edits again, Shannon still finds the wrong “you’re” in a sentence, and Shannon breaks down about how awful of a writer she could be to miss such an editing mistake five times in a row, and now Shannon believes the entire manuscript is this way, so she deletes it and starts over…Do not – and I repeat – DO NOT do this to yourself. Edit it as many times as you want to, but always remember that other editors are out there for a reason. Let them assess it. Let them help you. Breathe. Put down the red pen. It will be okay. If we don’t learn when to stop editing, we will – literally – never stop editing. A manuscript is like a person. It will never be perfect. The imperfections give it character. (Just don’t give it too much character if you know what I mean.)

notestop

 2. When I’m physically ill

Sadly, I do not mean that I have the flu. I can admit that I – in fact – have found a pen in my hand when I was bedridden. Safe? Healthy? Probably not. But I’m a writing addict. That being said, I don’t actually mean to say the flu is the problem. The problem is when I CAUSE the flu to happen in the first place because I’ve stressed myself out so much over writing that I stop taking care of myself and – in turn – I get ill. Stress ill. Headaches and body pains from sitting at my desk for too long ill. Don’t do that to yourself. In this case, strain is not gain. Strain is sickness that will only put you behind schedule even more, and it will only cause more pain.

 3.  When I start losing my love for writing

I never lose my love for writing – not entirely anyway. But I do have days where I step back, and I realize that I am struggling. In fact, I can confess that I went through this yesterday. I’ve been so focused on the edits of Death Before Daylight that I have forgotten to give myself time to write in a current novel I am very much emotionally involved in. Don’t get me wrong. I’m involved in Death Before Daylight as well. Very involved. But working on something new is quite the refreshing energy boost that I need to keep powering through edits of a novel. Although I love editing, working on the same project for long periods of time can be draining, especially since I’m more focused on the publishing side of things rather than the writing side of things, so I have to return to the “just writing to write” part of me often because that part of me is the most important in terms of enjoying my writing. I only have to remind myself of that.

In the end, you might have noticed that I don’t necessarily “stop” writing. I simply change my focus of writing or a take a moment to step back in order to relax. In fact, I was very serious when I said I’m going through the last one right now. Between my car and my laptop breaking down this week, my stress level peaked (and not in a good way at all). Writing is my coping mechanism, but working on edits was the last thing I needed. I had to shelve Death Before Daylight, and I had to do what I wanted to do the most desperately, so I worked on a new novel I’ve referred to before on here as TGO, and I felt much better afterward – almost like I learned to breathe again, and in all honesty, I might have to do this again next week. I’m still not sure I’m over it. All that matters is getting back on my feet again one way or another.

Do you have any times that you stop writing?

Feel free to share below! It’s also that time again – expect Website Wonders and October’s Ketchup to be posting soon.

~SAT

Why Writers Should Watch “Adult World”

24 Oct

Announcements: 

The latest poem in my Wattpad poetry series has been added! Share, like, and comment for your chance to be mentioned during my next YouTube video. This week’s poem is titled – The Affair – and here are the opening lines:

I fell in love with childhood,

he wore a red cape

made of polyester plaid,

There are a few spoilers in my latest interview with Read to Write Stories, including what The Odyssey has to do with the sequel and why certain elements of the book were mentioned in very subtle ways, so I hope you check it out by clicking the link.  I even talk a little about November Snow and how much my writing has changed in seven years, but – again – I’ll leave that up for you to read about.

But that wasn’t my ONLY interview I did. On Life of a Young Adult Writer, I talked about my personal life, the sequel, Death Before Daylight, and writing advice. When asked how I create believable characters, my first piece of advice was to stop thinking of them as characters, but you can read the entire conversation by clicking the link!

Finally, Real Rad Reads reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, stating, “Whenever I read a really good book, and something amazing happens, I find myself compelled to shout the author’s name out of excitement. Rick Yancey (The 5th Wave) and Susan Ee (Angelfall) have been some recent authors included in my repertoire for this, and Shannon’s name was added to the mix just last week after I read Minutes Before Sunset. In other words, I enjoyed this book.” Check out why she enjoyed Minutes Before Sunset by clicking the link! (And click here to check out Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon – only $3.89)

Why Writers Should Watch “Adult World”

Every now and then, I stumble across a movie MADE for writers. Last time, I wrote Why Writers Should Watch “Authors Anonymous” and now I am here to explain why you should also watch “Adult World” – especially if you are a poet.

MV5BMjIzNDY1NjgzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzMzMDEwMTE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_Here is the IMDB synopsis:

Amy, a naive college graduate who believes she’s destined to be a great poet, begrudgingly accepts a job at a sex shop while she pursues a mentorship with reclusive writer Rat Billings.

Amy is played by Emma Roberts, and although I am a HUGE fan of American Horror Story, I’ve never really been a fan of hers. The presence of Evan Peters convinced me to watch it, and I must admit – I enjoyed Emma Roberts a lot in this role, so I must take this moment to praise her for that. In fact, I enjoyed every bit of this movie. It’s charming, hilarious, and very relatable to a young writer’s journey.

We see a budding writer’s obsession with the famous – in this case, Sylvia Plath – and we see the melodramatics of someone trying to force drama in order to be the stereotypical “writing is misery” cliché, which – as good timing has it – I’ve written about recently (click the link). But we also see someone trying to find themselves, fighting to follow their dreams, and unexpectedly making a connection with a fantastically talented poet they’ve always loved, only to realize that role model may not be who they hoped they were.

On the surface, Adult World might seem like it is simply about writing, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about finding yourself and learning how to live so that you can write better each and every time you pick up a pen.

John Cusack is also a genius, and I hope sharing my favorite line that his character speaks might convince you to try this writer’s movie out on a rainy night.

“If you want to make art, you have to fail. And so, the hardest job is to fail better.”

Adult World is a perfect reminder of that.

~SAT

 

How a Writing Career Changes in Two Years

22 Oct

Announcements: 

Read to Write Stories posted a writing exercise called – How to Begin and End Chapters – and it features Take Me Tomorrow. Check it out by clicking the link. The post also includes passages from my latest novel. If you’re looking for a fantastic website to enhance your writing, I definitely recommend Read to Write Stories. The weekly pieces are great setups for new writers and wonderful practice for writers hoping to tune their craft.

How a Writing Career Changes in Two Years

The other night, I was doing something that most writers dread: Cleaning old documents off my laptop. Pretty much everyone I know dreads this, but writers – I believe – have a little extra to sift through. Between years of daydreaming, note-taking, and attempting to start numerous novels only to shelve them, writers can stack up hundreds if not thousands of mislabeled, unfinished, and probably unorganized pieces of writing, and I doubt I am alone when I say this, but it is so impossibly difficult to delete old writings…but I manage to do it anyway. When I do, I hold my kitten to make the pain bearable.

It was on one of these horrid nights that I found a document titled “Book To-Do.” I, being the unorganized cat lady that I am, had no idea what to expect from this docx icon I found buried among old college assignments and music wishlist bulletins, but I knew I could not delete it without reading every word of it, so I opened it.

I found gold.

Book To-Do was written on September 04, 2012. At this point in my life, November Snow was my only piece of work released, but I had quit publishing a long time ago. This document was also written approximately 20 days before I began this website, and the entire point of this single document was to outline where I was with my writing as well as label where I wanted to go next. I can’t share all of those notes (Spoilers are everywhere, even about books I haven’t told beta readers about yet!) but I am showing notes on pieces you will recognize:

November Snow

  • Old version: 125,978 words
  • New version written as of now: chapter 1—11: 30,265 words
  • Currently writing chapter 12

Take Me Tomorrow

  • Finished editing, sent query, responses gained, speak with author in contact.

The Dark Trilogy

….

So, where am I going with this?

The gain! Look how much has changed in two years alone. The Dark Trilogy became The Timely Death Trilogy, and Death Before a New Day morphed into Death Before Daylight, and all three received a rewrite, an edit, and a contract. Same with Take Me Tomorrow, and although I’m still working on November Snow’s rewrite, I am still moving forward with it, but the important piece was how I felt upon seeing this dated list: I realized how easily all of this hard work can be forgotten.

My friend made this two years ago, purposely using ‘right’ instead of ‘write’ to give me a hard time

Two years ago, my friend made this, purposely using ‘right’ instead of ‘write’, and the joke has stuck. I truly was writing a paper for college, and that is my lucky Elvis t-shirt.

You see, as an author, I am always looking forward, and I never think I am doing well enough (and especially fast enough) to further my career in order to meet more readers. That focus isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes I believe I get too caught up in moving forward that I forget how much work I have done to get to where I already am, and I found a lot of excitement in seeing physical reminders of that progress. It reminded me that I am – in fact – working hard, but it also forced me to take a step back from the pressures I put on myself, and it allowed me to pat myself on the back for a little bit (all, of course, while thanking anyone and everyone who has helped me along the way).

It’s safe to say that I didn’t delete this document. Instead, I updated it with today’s date, and I left a little encouraging note for my future self to stumble upon another two years from now.

Who knows how far we can all be by then?

It’s definitely a practice I would recommend other authors try. I know it brought a smile to my face, and it is for that reason that I want to take a moment to thank all of you again – for allowing me to share my words and for sharing your words with me.

In two years, I hope to see you again,

~SAT

The Sequel Can Wait

18 Oct

Announcements:

The third section of my interactive poetry series has begun, and you can read the first poem – Miscarriage – by clicking the title. Here are the opening lines:

If I hadn’t stepped outside, I would not

have seen the cloud buried deep in the approaching

storm I vaguely remembering hearing about.

(Vote, share, and comment for your chance to be mentioned during my next YouTube video.)

Special thanks goes out to The Incorrigible Reader for reviewing Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise, book 1 and book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy, here. Find out why she said, “I really did love this series! It was intriguing, exciting, romantic, and so hard to put down!’ 

Another huge thank you goes out to SDAV Reads for reviewing Take Me Tomorrow. She describes both the character development and the world-building, but here’s a quote, “So even amidst some very serious fights, explosions, and runaway escapes worthy of Doctor Who, there is a lot of time spent with the emotions of the characters so that you end up feeling as connected to them as you ought to. They’re very well developed…If you like Dystopic books, or even if you don’t and you just want a good thriller, Take Me Tomorrow is certainly one to add to your shelf!” Read her full review here.

And I am thanking one more book blogger – Note to Selph Book Reviews – for also reading Take Me Tomorrow. You can read her full review by clicking the link, but here is a quote from her, “The overall plot was intriguing and exciting, filled with plenty of action running from police and sneaking out at night.”

I cannot thank you all enough! Please check out my books by clicking these links: Minutes Before Sunset and Take Me Tomorrow. If you write a review, let me know, and I will be sure to share it right here!

The Sequel Can Wait:

Before anyone freaks out, no, this is not about the release dates of Take Me Yesterday or Death Before Daylight. Not entirely anyway. Instead, it’s rather about the pressure writers can put on themselves to get the next book out – and fast – and how destructive it can be to the entire writing (and reading) experience.

You see, I once heard that authors nowadays are expected to release a novel every six months. I’ve actually heard this more than once, but I believe one of the times was during a discussion author, Ryan Attard, had on his podcast, The Lurking Voice. He was simply discussing this trend, not necessarily agreeing with it. I want to clarify that because I think the idea of getting a novel out every six months is fantastic. It’s just extremely difficult, and it should not be expected. Ever.

A lot goes on behind the scenes in the publishing world. Writing isn’t even half of it. Content editing is completely different than line-editing, and a line edit is different than just an edit. Those are just three types of editing, not to mention formatting for both an eBook or a paperback or – god forbid – the hours that go behind an audio book. And cover art! Geez. I could go on forever, and I’m not even talking about the amount of hours, people, or cost behind it all (or the fact that most of these people have second jobs).

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Don’t get me wrong. I think it is great if an author can get a book out every six months. It can be done, and it can, in fact, be professional. After all, four months passed between the release of Seconds Before Sunrise and Take Me Tomorrow (but that explanation is for another post). It can be done, and it can be done well, but that does not – by any means – mean that every author should do this. Unfortunately, especially in the Indie market, authors are often competing with one another (a rather ridiculous notion in itself, but moving on…) and I’ve seen a lot of arguments that authors can’t possibly release books that quickly.

Again, it can be done, but I think authors should pick their timelines based on nothing but themselves. Basing it on readers’ expectations can be really destructive. For instance, you might rush editing to meet a deadline, and now, there are more mistakes readers are picking out in your novels, but if you hadn’t been trying to meet a deadline, you might have been more careful.

I say this with great caution. I know that this topic can cause a lot of bad blood, but I am author, and I go through the pressures of releasing the next book every day. The pressures are mainly focused on three things: get it out quickly, efficiently, and professionally. I’ve lost sleep over it. I’ve worried I was going to lose readers if Death Before Daylight took an extra three months to release. I’ve given myself writer’s block over it. And let me tell you – it isn’t worth it.

How do I know this?

Well, to be quite honest, I don’t. I’m still learning, and I still mess up. I estimated that Death Before Daylight could be cut down to 80,000 words in content edits, and I’ve already surpassed it. That being said, this had added time to my timeline, so it will probably come out later than AEC has been anticipating, and I have been losing my little writer’s mind over it. I feel guilty, and a huge part of me feels irresponsible at timing, satisfying my readers, and estimating my work abilities. That is a hard pill to swallow. But it is even harder to realize it isn’t a pill I have to swallow. Things happen in this industry, and we must roll with the punches, and readers will, too.

In fact, the other day, one of my all-time favorite authors, Meg Cabot, announced she will be releasing book 7 of the Mediator in 2015. Just to let you all know, it has been 15 years since book 6 came out. 15. And you know what? Readers are ecstatic. I’m ecstatic. 15 years is nothing for a fan. Look at all the talk about Harry Potter coming back. That’s about 10 years, and everyone is practically begging for it. And The Mortal Instruments movie was canceled, but the T.V. show is coming out, and although some are reluctant, I think most fans will give it a shot.

Of course readers want the sequel now. I am a reader myself. I understand the anticipation. Waiting for City of Heavenly Fire was so painful I cannot even begin to describe the countdown on my iCalendar, but I still picked the book up when it finally did release, and I never held it against Cassandra Clare, and I will always be excited for the release of a sequel whenever it happens. But – sometimes – I forget that as an author. On the writer side of things, I tear myself down, but on the reader side, I am only filled with excitement, and I think every author can benefit by remembering the support readers feel for authors. That pressure to release the next book is not pressure. It is support. It is encouragement. It is an excited fan-base authors should be proud of, not worried about, and it is the next step to enjoying every release, no matter how long it takes.

No matter how much time passes, words are endless, and there will be someone to read them. 

~SAT

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