Writing is Misery

10 Oct

Announcements:

The last poem of the second voting section has been added to my interactive poetry series on Wattpad. Remember to vote, share, or comment for your chance to be mentioned on my YouTube channel, Coffee and Cats. The poem is titled – To the Anti-American Teacher…We Knew You Were Pro-World – and here are the opening lines:

A clause in your contract slated your signature for patriotism.

You never signed, they never checked, but you took down your flag

after that.

Writing is Misery

Warning: I will curse in the first three sentences of this post. Not including these two or the next one. You have been warned.

Recently, I spoke with a writer I deeply respect, and one of things I said was something along the lines of “I am enjoying every minute of my writing.” To which he replied, “If you’re enjoying every minute, you’re not a writer.”

This has been one of those bitch-slapping moments of my half-assed career. I say half-assed with deep respect. I don’t mean it as a bad thing. Truly. I mean it as a reflection of how the general public sees my writing career, and I promise, there is no ill-will toward anyone who sees it that way.

Even though I don’t agree with the general public, I get it. I do. Oh, trust me. I really do. I am a writer, a lover of words, and although every part of me is tempted to agree with this author (who I respect so much I will take this moment to remind everyone how much I respect him) I – alas – cannot agree, even though I have contemplated the words for weeks. However, I will say this. He is right about one thing. I am miserable. But he is wrong about one, pesky detail. I love my misery.

You see, to me, there is no greater delight than exploring the deepest, darkest corners of life through writing, and when I explore, I often find myself in the hollowed out pit of a character’s soul – one that has been etched out through tragedy and despair and loneliness. So much loneliness. And it is in those struggled souls that I find my love for them, my appreciation for their fight, my determination to set their story free – and I write it out.

"I am going to help you write a new book." (Please. Oh, please, readers. Get this joke.)

“I am going to help you write a new book.” (Please. Oh, please, readers. Get this joke.)

This is the moment I lose myself, where my identity no longer matters, where I become another person. This is when my character takes over my existence, and perhaps, because of this takeover, I find myself saying that I am not miserable at all, because I cannot feel misery if I do not exist. Only my characters can.

Because of this peculiar way my brain works, only my character explores this thing called misery. In The Timely Death Trilogy, Eric has to face his fate, his ex-girlfriend’s murder, and his mother’s suicide – not to mention all of the other drama that happens in just the first book alone – but Jessica has to find herself in a world that didn’t allow her to have an identity, and that is really, really difficult for her. In Take Me Tomorrow – oh, Take Me Tomorrow – Sophia has to face the truth about all of her loved ones, but she also has to learn the truth about herself, and I can relate way too well to this instance because I, too, have to learn the truth about myself, and I do that through – you guessed it – writing as my characters.

It is in my characters’ misery that I find my own fight.

Sophia reminds me of how I had to see the truth about my own mother and the addiction that killed her. Jessica showed me how I can find myself no matter how many times I move or lose someone, even if it takes a very long time. Eric proved that tragedy is not an excuse, but that it can still hurt a lot and often and that is okay. And all of my other characters add to those lessons every day, and for that reason alone, I could never be alone.

I never could be miserable.

Yes, life is hard. Following a dream is even harder. But – I believe – even if I fail, I have already succeeded. I have found what I love, and there is no failure in that. Misery does not exist in the hollow depths of passion, because passion is not hollow. It is full of excitement, and love, and perseverance, and cheesy paragraphs just like this one that simply exist in hopes of encouraging someone else to continue on with their miserable head held high…showing off a big grin to prove it.

~SAT

Why Most of my Characters are Male

8 Oct

Announcements:

Red Sands Reviewz read Seconds Before Sunrise and wrote, “You know how they say sequels aren’t as good as the first? This is not the case. It was fun to read from the start to finish.” And now you can read her review from start to finish by clicking here.

Krazy Reads reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, and you can read the entire review by clicking here, but this review inspired my blog post today, so I will be referring to it throughout my post! Even then, here’s a small quote, “Unlike most dystopian novels, this one felt the most real to me. Don’t get me wrong, I ADORE all dystopian novels, but for me, this seemed the most likely to actually happen.” Check out Take Me Tomorrow by clicking here.

Thank you, Krazy Reads.

Why Most of my Characters are Male

I’m doing something today that I have sworn to myself I would never, EVER do. I am responding to a book review. (Oh, the taboo!) Don’t worry. I have Krazy Reads permission, and it’s more or less not a response. It’s a deeper explanation that was inspired by a single section she wrote about my latest novel, Take Me Tomorrow:

Most of the characters are male, and while some people may say that seems unbalanced, to me, it fits perfectly. In the novel, the boys are fighting for a cause, they break laws, set bombs, and carry out rescue missions, so having most of the characters male fits, and I like how there are only three major female roles. Even though Sophia doesn’t always understand, she’s strong, smart, and cunning, and often times, she and her best friend, Lily, are the reason the plans work at all.”

It’s true. I’m guilty. My latest novel, Take Me Tomorrow, has more male character than female characters, and before I explain why, I would like to clarify that I’m specifically talking about Take Me Tomorrow in this post. My other novels are not like this, and there will be minor spoilers throughout this piece. That being said, I am going to have to hold back on some explanations due to the fact that the sequel will deepen many of these explanations, and I don’t want to spoil major parts of the first novel. But I’m going to do my best to explain why I have more male characters than female characters, and I want to explain this because I have received dozens of emails asking me why Take Me Tomorrow is full of boys.

The main reason is, perhaps, the most important one: it was never a conscious decision. It just sort of happened, and it happened naturally. This is the same reason I ultimately never changed it, despite the fact that I had one beta reader in particular suggest it. Don’t get me wrong. I thought about it a lot. I did. I considered each and every character and their gender, but here’s what it ultimately came down to: it was never about their gender. It was about them, and here are the two main reasons, I believe, they were boys in the first place:

Their Past

Although some of the past is seen in Take Me Tomorrow, more is explained in the sequel – Take Me Yesterday (hence the title). But I am going to explain what I can. First of all, a lot of it has to do with how the society works. Even though boys and girls can see each other and go to school together, there are subtle hints the society subconsciously encourages them to be separate. For instance, the boys are more likely to be thrown in military for punishment, while the girls are generally thrown into the correctional houses – and the correctional houses that are blatantly separated by gender. The other subtle part was the dance. Sophia describes it as one of the only instances students from separate schools can meet. Socializing is definitely not encouraged, but let’s get down to physical relationships: Noah and Broden met as children, and although I cannot giveaway their full circumstances, they didn’t just become friends because their parents were friends or that they happened to be the same age. I don’t want to spoil the novel so I won’t explain Tony or the flashback of Liam too much, but those two boys were more or less a reflection of what could’ve happened to Noah if he were older. Pierson is explained in the sequel. (I’m sorry for how cryptic this is.) But I can talk about Miles. If no one noticed, the twins – Miles and Lily – don’t have a father, and again, more details will come in Take Me Yesterday, but I will say this: Miles was very attracted to Broden and Noah, the first two guys that gave him friendship. Lily, too (as explained in the book), but Miles pushed his sister away. I have an older brother. This happened to me. But that’s for my next section.

These are Pinterest photos that remind me of TMT characters

These are Pinterest photos that remind me of TMT characters

My Personal Life

After my mother died, I was practically raised by my older brother. (My dad, too, but he traveled a lot.) So I spent a lot of time with my brother and all of his friends, and – you guessed it – they were mostly guys, especially his best friends. We went hunting and off-roading and ate sandwiches by the lake when we fished. But – during some point – we didn’t hang out as much, and that just happens sometimes. I got friends of my own, but (you might have guessed again) most of my friends were guys. I was comfortable with guys. I was used to spending time with them, and there was no romance there. A girl can be, in fact, just friends with guys. So I think that leaked out with Sophia, but I think it happened because of Lily. That’s right. Because of Lily. Sophia is best friends with Lily, and Lily is the one who introduces Sophia to Miles and Broden. Sophia gets her guys friends by default, and if you read the story, you also might have noticed that Sophia is not a social butterfly like Lily is. Sophia would rather stay home with her dog and read. She was perfectly satisfied with Lily’s company, and Miles and Broden were just extra buddies she gained. And, yes, you will learn even more about all of their pasts, specifically with Broden, Lyn, and Sophia’s mother…oh, and Miles and Lily. Pretty much everyone. But now that we’re talking about the girls…

As an extra, I want to talk about the girls, and I want to start this section off by re-quoting what Krazy Reads said, “I like how they’re are only three major female roles. Even though Sophia doesn’t always understand, she’s strong, smart, and cunning, and often times, she and her best friend, Lily, are the reason the plans work at all.”

Sure, the guys appear to be running things, but sometimes, as an author, I struggle to understand whether certain aspects are forgotten just because gender gets focused on. For instance, Miles is so terrified in the beginning, that he runs away, and Sophia – a girl – takes his place. That’s just one instance where the girls come to the rescue, and yes, there are more rescues and reasons, but sometimes, I worry that literature has trained us readers to focus more on boys rather than girls, which is no one’s fault. I’ve been guilty of it, too. But just because there are more boys does not mean that boys are more important, and in Take Me Tomorrow, they definitely cannot survive without the girls in their lives.

In fact, even though there are more boys in the novel, the numbers should not take away from the importance of Lily, Sophia, Lyn, and later on, Rinley. I wish I could explain what these girls do throughout the novel, but those pesky spoilers prevent me. That being said, these girls – as well as more girls – are seen in the sequel. (And, yes, the boys will be there as well.) But Take Me Tomorrow isn’t about how many boys or how many girls are present. It’s about drug use, abuse, addiction, immigration, tragedy, love, and war. And everyone can go through that, no matter what their gender is.

But – just for kick’s sake – here’s a list of reasons I have more male characters than female characters:

I was true to story.

~SAT

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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tmtinst

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!

cover3

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

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