Tag Archives: am writing

July Ketchup

31 Jul

July’s Ketchup

Can you believe it? July is coming to an end, and with it, Minutes Before Sunset has released. (Another release is on its way in August, but that’s for another post.) I’m unbelievably enthralled by your support this past month. Thank you. Thank you. Thank. You. And…you can win even MORE prizes soon. But I’ll talk more about that in this month’s Ketchup post.

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 posts, my top referrer, #1 SEO term, YouTube videos, Members of the Week, 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 July!

Big Moments:

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My #1 clicked item was ordering Minutes Before Sunset! Thank you!

Minutes Before Sunset released by Clean Teen Publishing on July 28! (Insert so many excited author girl screams.) It’s been emotionally difficult to be off the market for seven months, but it’s equally as wonderfully to be back on the book train! You can grab a copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and pretty much everywhere. ::wink wink:: If you review the novel, please let me know! I’d love to share it! Or…you know…send you a signed bookmark to thank you. Tonight, we even have the CTP Midsummer Magic Party on Facebook where you can win prizes. I also started a newsletter.

Which brings me to my next point: Seconds Before Sunrise is releasing August 25. (Yes. This August 25.) And my publisher surprised me by sending me a paperback for my little writer hands. (It’s like holding a sweet little puppy. My heart is warm with love.) You can also pre-order Seconds Before Sunrise at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and…again…pretty much everywhere. :]

Tish and me

Tish and me

Right before my release—as promised—I’ve started traveling more to meet readers, and I met a few of you at Penned Con in St. Louis. I even had the gleeful moment of meeting one of my favorite Indie authors, Tish Thawer. ::waves at Tish:: (I’m planning on writing a blog post about Penned Con, so I’m going to save the rest of that story for that.)

In writing news, I had my eight-year anniversary of publishing, starting with November Snow in 2007. It’s only fitting that I finished the rewrite of November Snow as well! (Can’t you tell this has been an absolutely insane month?) I could’ve written an entire post on the recent events in my life. Maybe I will. Maybe I have even more exciting news to come.

I like to tease.

Stay Dark,

~SAT

Top Three Blog Posts:

  1. Minutes Before Sunset Release Day! I hope my rejoice hasn’t been too repetitive yet. I simply feel so lucky and happy and delighted to be here today, and I know I wouldn’t be without my readers, so thank you to the ends of my writer’s heart for continuing to believe in Minutes Before Sunset! The Timely Death Trilogy lives on!
  2. Can We Stop Hating on E.L. James and Stephenie Meyer? After EL James was attacked on Twitter, I wrote an article about how destructive hate (not criticism) can be, and how many authors are affected by it.
  3. It’s Never Too Late To Start Writing Your Bestseller: Written by EssayMama, this infographic outlines famous authors and how writing fit into their lives.

Other Blog Posts:

#1 SEO Term

#1 SEO Term

YouTube Channel:

Minutes Before Sunset Release Day

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. I also like to specially thank the Members of the Dark. Every week, I award one member a “Member of Week” badge, and out of those monthly members, one of them will win an eBook of their choosing as well as more prizes. If you would like to be a member, subscribe to my newsletter. If you’d like me to share your review of my novels or if you want to 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.

Dark Members of the Week: The Schwartz Reviews, Red Sands Reviews and Ramblings, awkward Meow Productions, and Tranquil Dreams.

Reviewers:

Death Before Daylight: Pointe Taken

Features: Juniper Grove Book Blitz

Calculated on July 29 at 19,851 new followers

Calculated on July 29 at 19,851 new followers

 

#SATurday: Eight-Year Anniversary of Publishing, a.k.a. WHAT?

18 Jul

Yesterday, July 17, marked my eight-year anniversary of my very first published novel, November Snow. Coincidentally, it was also my one-year anniversary of Take Me Tomorrow (my last published novel with my old publisher). Both novels are currently unavailable, and neither novels had a lot of time on the market…although I hope one day they can make a comeback. November Snow is actually my current goal, but I am saving an in-depth post about that journey for the near future. (Insert wink here.)

I’ve been thinking a lot (as does every person on this planet, I hope), and reflecting over these past eight years of publishing is both surreal and nerve-wracking. It’s easy to beat myself up over the few years I left the market (between 2007 and 2013), but I try not to count that time as “lost” time. I was still writing, after all. In fact, I wrote Take Me Tomorrow in that time period. I do have my moments though, and if I had to compare it to anything, I would compare it to a reading problem I’ve had. (I hope I’m not the only one in this, but I shall confess my little heart’s sad beats anyway.) Sometimes, not as rare as I’d like those time to be, I will be reading a fantastic novel and suddenly think, “Oh. Wow. I could never be this good.” It’s ridiculous and silly and even petty, but the insecure and (hopefully) fleeting seconds pass. I generally shake my head back and forth really fast, like I can whip the thoughts out of my ears. (I credit Willow Smith for inspiring this move.) This has also caused quite a few stares in public. Nevertheless, I found myself doing that dance recently—the don’t-think-that head shake—and I know it’s because I was concentrating more on the “lost” time than on what I’ve accomplished with the current time and what I am continuing to accomplish with the time I have left.

All we can do is concentrate on being our best selves every day. If we do that, no time is lost.

I don’t know if November Snow or Take Me Tomorrow or any of my other novels will ever sit next to The Timely Death Trilogy. I don’t know if they’ll be on shelves one day or if I’ll make to a book signing or if I’ll try a new genre or deepen a series. I don’t know those things at all.

But I do know one thing.

I love what I do, and I love it more every day, and I look forward to my ninth anniversary and all of the anniversaries to come.

Oh, and just for fun, here’s a time lapse photo of the release day eight years ago and today…just cuddling with November Snow on the couch. I even found the same sweater. (And, yes, that’s a pegasus. I love pegasus.)

20072015

And because I think it’s fun to explain this to everyone I meet…the reason my eyebrows are missing when I was 16 is because I shaved them completely off when I was nine. Why? Well, that’s another story. (I promise it’s not what you think.) But they took ten years to (mainly) grow back. Don’t touch the brows. Don’t do it. However, I definitely recommend the pegasus sweater.

~SAT

Goodies and announcements:

ex55Minutes Before Sunset releases in TEN days! It is up for pre-order at $2.99, but the price goes up on July 28. You can also WIN a paperback via this Goodreads Giveaway! (It ends tomorrow.)

Seconds Before Sunrise and Death Before Daylight are also up for pre-order.

I’ll be at Penned Con July 25 in St. Louis, Missouri, and more news is to come shortly!

July 30, Clean Teen Publishing, is hosting an online party where we play games and give out FANTASTIC prizes. (Jewelry might be coming your way from yours truly.) So, join CTP’S Midsummer Magic Party, by clicking the link, and I’ll see you on July 31, from 7-9 p.m, via Facebook.

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#WW Real-Life Characters Behind a Novel

15 Jul

Everyone knows the author is not the only person behind a novel’s creation. Publishers, editors, cover artists, and formatters are just a few of the technical people behind the masterpiece. Bloggers, reviewers, beat readers, and readers are just a couple of the people who help spread the masterpiece. But there’s another type of person who helps create the novel, and that type of person is vital to the creation of a great story. Who am I talking about?

I’m talking about “the team.”

What is “the team”?

Well, it’s different for everyone. Some people may not even have a team, but I know I sure do. I have a wonderful group of people who deal with my writer’s insanity on a regular (if not daily) basis. They listen and argue and push me and sometimes inspire some of my characters, scenes, and lines. So, today, I want to introduce you to three of them, whether they enjoy the spotlight or not. (They’re definitely not used to it. That’s for sure.) These are the people behind the actual names you see mentioned in the back of my book, tucked away into the acknowledgements page, and scattered throughout my posts with vague nicknames and references.

Today we thank them. (And today, I use nicknames again.)

The Spray Painter

He’s an artist himself, armed with a spray paint can and horror movies, and he’s one of my best beta readers. He’s probably read everything I’ve finished so far, and he continues to talk to me on a regular basis about every last aspect of every single novel. He knows what could’ve happened, what happened before, what happens now, and what I plan to have happen. He deals with every last draft I’ve written. He is a walking spoiler alert (except he never tells anyone a thing). Without him, I wouldn’t have anyone to bounce possibilities off of, especially the more confusing ones, and his dedication has helped future stories more than ever before. When we get together, it’s “what draft was that?” And by the end, we’re talking about what draft we should stick with.

The Fashionista

A close friend of mine for over ten years, this chick-a-doodle has helped me with more than my novels. She’s also helped me pick appropriate clothes (for both myself and my characters). I would be lost without this personal shopper. She’s stylish, and she reads just as much as I do. We often consider friendship our own little book club, and her insight of the industry mixed with my knowledge has helped me figure out which aspects of my novels are unique and which ones need more work. She’s not afraid to be honest. (She can tell me when a character is weak while simultaneously confirming that, in fact, I do look fat in that dress). She’s also the one behind the camera of my Instagram feed.

The Dream Guy

He’d kill me if he saw me call him that, but it’s true. He’s the dream, and he inspires many of the dreamy moments in my male leads. Do you have a crush on Eric or Noah? Yep. This guy. He also helps create a lot of the political and military references scattered throughout many of my works, and I have a document dedicated to quotes he’s said in real life that I use in my novels (with permission, of course). He’s a walking character. He might even have dark hair and light eyes. But he definitely deals with my continuous ranting, and questioning, and idea-making the most. This is why he keeps me in check. He especially enjoys reminding me of the blatant loopholes I, somehow, missed on my own. He also doesn’t mind helping with fighting scenes. But who doesn’t like those?

These are three people behind my team. Hopefully, I’ll get to share more soon. They definitely don’t get enough credit, but they deserve a million acknowledgements.

Let’s make this even more fun.

Who would you want to meet? Would you want to ask them any questions? Let me know, and I’ll see what they have to say. We might have to do a follow up. ;]

~SAT

teaser5We only have 13 days until Minutes Before Sunset releases! And there is so much going on.

Pre-order Minutes Before Sunset for only $2.99 until July 28. You can also enter to win a paperback in this Goodreads Giveaway. 

Pre-order Seconds Before Sunrise too.

While you’re at it, pre-order Death Before Daylight. (EEEE. I still cannot believe this novel is finally available.)

And see me next Saturday, July 25, at Penned Con in St. Louis!

#WW Staying Focused as a Writer

8 Jul

#WW Staying Focused as a Writer

Staying focused. It sounds simple but is all too complicated for many. It’s different for every writer, but I’ve recognized quite a few common stressors among authors. Some get overwhelmed by finding time to write and manage social media. Others can’t finish a novel without another one sneaking up on them. Some even ditch novels altogether. Like I said, it’s different for everyone, and there are many reasons behind the variety of #writerproblems out there. (Hence why there is an actual hashtag for such things.)

So, today, I wanted to discuss one I deal with as well as the ways I’ve kept myself in check over the years, but I would love to hear about how you manage your writing!

My issue is completing a novel when a new one suddenly demands my attention.

How are we supposed to concentrate on such a beautiful day?

How are we supposed to concentrate on such a beautiful day?

While I have no problem finishing a novel or coming up with an ending, I used to have a hard time keeping focused on the one I need to complete next. Any time I got a new idea or a new character, all I wanted to do was obsess over the new, potential story in front of me. I realized it was a problem when I spent more of my time planning novels than actually writing them, and while this happened to me a few years ago, I learned a lot of little tricks to keep me focused. In fact, this exact issue happened to me recently. While I’m mainly working on the rewrite of November Snow, I have another completed novel—one that’s never been released before that I refer to as “D”—and while it is complete, there is something wrong with it in my gut. And I realized what it was just the other day. Now, all I want to do is go fix everything in that manuscript. But I have to control myself. This is how.

1. Give Yourself a Time Limit

Whether it’s writing in a new novel or posting on your social media, tell yourself you only have an hour or two to do what you want before you continue to do what you need to do. Maybe you give yourself a few days. (I did.) However much time you need, give it to yourself, but try to set a time limit so you can get back to your original task. For instance, I gave myself a few days to jot everything down for “D”, but eventually, I know I have a bigger goal that needed attention, and now, I’m back to focusing on November Snow. “D” will gets its day soon. This isn’t to say I don’t want to work on November Snow. I do. I want to work on both, but I had to pick one because of other goals I’ve set (publishing dates, for instance).

2. Be Aware of Triggers

Another aspect of this I have to control has to do with triggers. I will use music as an example. I’ve only recently started writing with music on, but now I have associated playlists, and they help me focus almost immediately. If I hear “Murakami” by Made in Heights, November Snow is the only thing I can concentrate on. But “Dreamland” by Fan Shiqi triggers “D” so fast that I’ve learned to avoid that song when I’m trying to focus on November Snow. Keeping the right triggers around me, while avoiding the wrong ones, not only energizes what I want and need to focus on, but also prevents distractions.

3. And finally—Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

This is going to contradict my first tip, but if you go over your time limit or you simply change goals altogether, that’s fine. You know in your gut what you need and want to do. It’s a matter of being honest with yourself, understanding yourself, and accepting yourself and your artistic process. I could beat myself up all day that I lost time on the November Snow rewrite for “D”, but that would be counterproductive. I got something done, after all. Now, I just need to get more done. Just keep moving.

This is how I’ve stayed focused through my #writerproblems. How about you? What are your tricks and tips?

~SAT

Announcements:

We’re 20 days away from Minutes Before Sunset!

Seconds Before Sunrise, book 2, is also up for pre-order.

And? Clean Teen Publishing listed another Goodreads Giveaway!

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Also, I’ll be at Penned Con in St. Louis Missouri on July 25. If you want to meet me, send me an email! I’m just going as a reader, but I do have my first author event booked for October 17-18 at the Texas Book Festival in Austin, TX. Other events will appear on my Events page in the near future.

In other news, I’m also accepting guest bloggers again. My earliest available date is in October, so be sure to email me at shannonathompson@aol.com if you’re interested. I accept any posts about writing and reading, and I encourage bios, photos, and links. I look forward to hearing from you!

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#WW Finding Your Style as a Writer

24 Jun

#WW Finding Your Style as a Writer

So, I just turned 24 yesterday. That means, I’m 113 in cat years (according to this calculator.) Since I’m 113, I thought I’d share some of my personal, cat lady wisdom, and by “personal” wisdom, I mean self-awareness in regards to my writing style. (Plus, a good portion of you have let me know you’d like to hear more about my writing and what goes on behind it, so I thought this was a good excuse to share some information about how I’ve gone about writing novels . . . a little extra insight, so to speak.) That’s why I’m going to splurge a little bit. While this looks like a long post, it’s really divided into two parts: Finding Your Style and Aspects of my Style that I Figured Out

Feel free to read one or both.

Finding Your Style

This July, my first novel—November Snow—was published eight years ago. Eight years. (49 years in cat years.) I’ve definitely learned a lot since then, but one of the things that took the most time was figuring out my “style.”

We hear that word a lot. STYLE. It is normally followed up with “finding your voice.” And all those years back, this entire conversation would’ve freaked me out. It made me feel inadequate—mainly because I could not pinpoint my “style” or “voice.” Now, that I’m a couple novels deep, I get it, and I’ll tell you a secret.

And we're writing...

And we’re writing…

It will happen naturally—so naturally, you won’t even realize it—so don’t worry yourself silly. (Us authors are good at that.)

But here’s the other side of that token: Not only is it different for everyone but also discovering it is different for everyone. It takes a level of self-analysis, but that’s just my little opinion. For me, it took a couple of novels and a large amount of readers to point out a few reoccurring themes for me to realize that there was a pattern to my writing. That pattern was my voice and style. Basically, pay attention to what beta readers and reviewers are saying. You might learn something about yourself. But it’s also important to decipher that pattern:

What is you (your voice and style) vs What is other (maybe the genre, for instance)?  

In order to explain what I mean, I want to share what I learned personally over the last eight years. Since a lot of what I learned came from beta readers, many of the works I’ll reference aren’t published yet. While I will refer to my published works as November Snow, Minutes Before Sunset, Seconds Before Sunrise, Death Before Daylight (The Timely Death Trilogy), and Take Me Tomorrow (The Tomo Trilogy), my unpublished works will still go by their abbreviations. If you’re a beta reader, you’ll recognize the titles: HBBL, TGO, D, TMG, S.

What is other?

These are themes that happen because they simply work for whatever reason. For instance, there are dances in both Minutes Before Sunset and Take Me Tomorrow, which caused a few readers to think I have a thing for dances. I do and I don’t. I mean, who doesn’t love a good dance scene? (Insert my love for a cheesy trope.) But while it’s cheesy in Minutes Before Sunset, it’s rather chaotic and uncomfortable in Take Me Tomorrow. There isn’t a single dance in November Snow either. (Sorry.) But there is one in HBBL and in TMG…but not one in TGO or D or S. And all of the dances happen under very different circumstances. That being said, there’s a larger factor to consider here. The characters’ ages. Most of my characters are young adults. They are in high school or some form of high school, and high schools—more often than not—have dances. So, it’s not just about me liking them. They happen naturally. They work with the story and with the lives of the characters. This isn’t technically my voice. This is the genre or the setting. It happens, not because of me, but because of the circumstances.

What is you?

These are themes that happen because of me being me (or you being you). These are your life experiences, your character, seeping through your words. For instance, in many of my novels, you’ll probably always see a character who struggles with memories. Mainly because I struggle with memory loss, although I’m not quite to the point in my life where I’m very open about that. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve publically stated I struggle with memory loss. But it is a part of my identity as a person, so it will more than likely be seen in my novels one way or another. For instance, the second book of The Timely Death Trilogy, Seconds Before Sunrise, has A LOT of memory loss. It’s practically the central theme. The Tomo Trilogy is that way to some extent as well, but you don’t see the effects of it until the second novel, Take Me Yesterday. That being said, memory loss doesn’t appear in anything else. Not HBBL, not TGO, not D, not TMG, not even S…okay, wait. No. S has a stupid amount of memory loss. But you get my point. Even when some themes come from my personal struggles, they don’t always show up in my work. But here’s the difference: memory loss affects the voice of the character. It affects the vocabulary used and the emotions involved. It develops everything else and with everything else. The difference with “other”—in my opinion—is “other” just happens. (The dance discussed above, for instance, was an event in the novel that pushed the novel forward, but the dance itself did not affect the character’s overall personality.) The “you” is your style because it is your unique voice, your vocabulary, your way of explaining.

The “you” is the way you write about the dance; the “other” is the dance happening. 

Aspects of My Style I Figured Out:

Now that that has been said and done, I thought it would be fun to show three other ones that I’ve realized about my style. This is really just for my readers who might want to get a larger grasp on who I am as a writer and what future novels might entail, as well as why current novels are the way they are:

Perspectives:

While I generally write my novels in dual first POV—like Eric and Jessica telling The Timely Death Trilogy or Daniel and Serena telling November Snow—I do have exceptions. For instance, the only POV in The Tomo Trilogy is Sophia Gray (although I have admitted changing that in a possible future rewrite, but I probably won’t.) This happens because I love writing in first POV and I love writing from both a male’s perspective and a female’s perspective. Fun fact: I actually prefer writing from a male’s perspective.

Family structure: I grew up in an unusual household. At first, it was the “normal” household: two parents, two kids, one dog. All-American, you know? But then my mom died. And then I had a stepmother and three stepsiblings. And then my father divorced. And then it was just my brother, my father, and I. So, you’re going to see a lot of different types of families in books, but I can also admit that you’ll probably rarely see a mother-daughter relationship. Not that I can’t do it. I can. But I would rather explore other relationships in fiction. In fact, I remember as a reader after my mother died, I wished there were more novels where daughters were close to their fathers or brothers. So, you’ll see more of that in my work. But there are exceptions. On a side note, I also write about orphans a lot, mainly because my mom died and my dad traveled, so I was often alone as a kid. I find a lot of comfort in writing about characters would had to be independent.

Violence vs Romance: I’m a violent writer. The Timely Death Trilogy is actually my least violent work, and if you get a chance to read the first few chapters of Death Before Daylight, keep that in mind. It’s still lighter. November Snow is often seen as my most violent. Why? I used to wonder about this myself, and I think I just realized why recently, but that’s probably for another post in the future. (Hello, July.) In contrast, I find romance difficult to write about. I dread writing kissing scenes. I think I get weirded out because I feel like I’m being a Peeping Tom on another couple . . . and I’m being a Peeping Tom who is writing about it. It gives me the heeby jeebies. That being said, every single one of my novels have a romantic factor in them. HBBL is probably my only romance-romance, and I doubt that I’ll write another novel that is just romanced based again. I like dystopian. I like sci-fi and fantasy. I like the plot to be character-oriented and action-orientated and in a new world. Love just falls into the slots.

I know this post has been longer than usual, but I’m trying to listen to what you all have expressed wanting to see! I hope you enjoyed seeing a little more in-depth information about my life and work. Maybe it’ll also help you analyze your own writing to see if there are certain themes that correlate with your voice as a writer. Or maybe you’re just a reader and learned something new about my stories. Either way, thank you for reading!

~SAT

#WW The Joy of Progress Bars

17 Jun

#WW The Joy of Progress Bars

If you’ve been with me for a while, you might remember when I used to have a progress bar on the right side of my website. I no longer have one, but I’ll talk about that in a minute. Since I no longer have on, my progress bar revolved around my current writing projects. Generally, I had two novels at once, and I included the status (ex. Editing) as well as the estimated release date. I have samples below, but I mainly outlined when my novels were being written, edited, and formatted until the release date. That being said, I loved having progress bars on my website, and I encourage every writer to at least try it for three months. Why?

1. It’s interactive with readers!

A progress bar keeps your readers up-to-date. Not only do they know where you are in your work but they can also talk to you about where you are. Everyone can be a part of the process now, and as a reader myself, I think it’s exciting to see all the steps as they happen. Want to know if I’m editing? Want to know if I’m reviewing edits? Now you know, and you can know where I’m at during every step of the process as the weeks pass. It builds up all that hype, and you can celebrate every milestone with your readers! This is actually the reason I started doing it. When I began receiving regular emails about my current status with my next novel, I wanted to find a way to keep everyone updated by just visiting my website, and it worked wonders for everyone! We could chat whenever we wanted about where we were at and skip the questions so we could go directly to celebrating progress.

Progress from June 3, 2014 - September 28, 2013

Progress from June 3, 2014 – September 28, 2014

2. It reminds writers of how far they’ve come

I definitely recommend progress bars to new writers because it will help you from getting discouraged. At first, it won’t seem like a lot, but when you see your bars over months right next to one another, you can see how much you are accomplishing, and that’s a great feeling! It can help you set goals and encourage yourself. But be warned. Some writers have the opposite feelings about bars. They feel discouraged, like they aren’t moving forward, and it sometimes puts too much pressure on writers, so while it works for many—it’s fun for me—it has also felt worse for others. So, figure out what type of writer you are. If you love writing goals, this might be for you. If you love keeping track of your word count, this might be for you. But if writing goals and word count makes you shrink away from your computer screen, I wouldn’t do it. I would just write.

So why don’t I have one anymore?

Well, I probably will again soon! Honestly, though, I deleted mine when my old publisher closed down because I knew I couldn’t update anyone. Now that I’m back in the swing of things, I will probably keep everyone updated on my writing progress with November Snow and other projects as we move forward. If you want to try one, I make mine via PicMonkey. It’s simple and free—and fun! I love looking back on mine, and I love looking forward to new ones.

What about you? Have you ever tried a progress bar? Would you ever consider trying one?

~SAT

#WW Judging An Author’s Life

10 Jun

Judging An Author’s Life

The photo

The photo

Recently—and by “recently” I mean a month ago—I posted this photo on my Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, and . . . well, pretty much anywhere on the Internet that I have an account on. To my surprise, (and still to my confusion), I received a bit a slack for this. It was a Wednesday afternoon, fairly nice outside, and due to the events of my day, I ended up in my hometown with one of my best friends. When it started raining, we ducked into a bookstore, and I couldn’t help myself. I bought a book—Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan to be exact—and some sticky notes for work since my stockpile was dwindling. The caption of my photo read, “Silly rain. Forcing me to hide in a bookstore to collect books until the sun came out.”

I didn’t think anything of it. I simply thought, “Hey! I am having fun. This has to do with reading, and I bet my readers would enjoy sharing this moment with me.” Because that’s what I think every time I post something—I think about how much fun it is to share these bits and pieces of my life with my wonderful followers. I don’t think much beyond that. So, I guess that’s why I was so surprised when I received a message, stating that I was adding to the misguidance of the industry and how authors live—how our lives actually are and how much of a struggle it is to be a writer—that I was adding to the “problem”, to the mirage of authordom.

And this is my open letter to you, dear sir, about that photo and my life as an author.

First and foremost, social media is up to the individual controlling that social media. No one else. I share what I choose to share, and I choose to share my fun and delightful moments. That goes to say that I’ve often—more often than not—discussed many difficult aspects of my life on my blog, particularly my mother’s death and my college roommate’s death. I’ve discussed moving around a lot as a child and finding myself creating stories and characters to make up for my lack of real human connection. I’ve confessed to doubting everything, and I’ve strived to remind myself (and my readers) why we write . . . which is always because I love to write and read. All of these topics have been on my blog. Numerous times. Throughout almost three years of blogging. But I’m assuming you’re judging me based on one or two photos posted during the afternoon. I know which ones you’re looking at. After all, I’m the one who shares all the moments of coffee, cats, and books. And guess what? That is my life. But it isn’t my whole life, and by no means have I ever expressed that “I do this every day.” Take this photo for instance. At no point does it state, “Here I am on my daily afternoon walk, just buying a dozen books for me to read this week.” In fact, I only bought one . . . with a gift card that my older brother bought me for Christmas . . . five months before this photo was taken . . . five months in which I saved that card just for the perfect moment to buy a novel on a day I needed some cheering up.

You see, back in January, I lost my car and my job, and I had to move to another state. (Something I openly discussed on my blog, by the way.) And ever since January, I’ve been building myself back up. On the very day this very photo was taken, I had finally saved up enough to buy a car, and I did, but I was broke afterward. That gift card was then used to help me buy office supplies (the sticky notes) that I had run out of, and I happened to see a novel I really wanted. Did I have to buy it then? No. Of course not. But it was a way of reminding myself that I am proud of how much I saved from my hard work and how far I’ve come in the five months since hitting rock bottom. My car was a long-needed necessity. This novel was a reward for the five months I’ve worked and saved and walked without one.

Why didn’t I put that story as my caption? Well, aside from the fact that it would be the longest caption in the world, the caption was my decision—and my decision was to express how much fun I was having and how much fun I wanted to share with my readers.

By no means was I trying to portray myself as an author who spends their days browsing bookstores. By no means was I trying to pretend I could afford every book left and right. By no means was I trying to prove something at all. I was just being me. I was just sharing me. By stating authors have to share ugly moments of their lives, we’re stating something ridiculous—that we assume they don’t have human lives—and that is a ridiculous presumption to have about anyone.

There is ugliness in everyone’s life, but I choose to focus on the happy moments, and I want my readers to know that they can have fun and encouragement when they come to me. I choose to share laughter and coffee and silly cats and paperbacks slung over my shoulder. I choose to post only when I’m smiling too—because I want to smile with my readers. I want my readers to feel encouraged when they come to me, not discouraged, and that is my choice, just like sharing my emotions around my mother’s death is my choice. I am not perfect, and I do not pretend to be, but no one should assume that about me either. Authors are human, after all, but not every detail of my life needs to be publicized all across the web (even though a large portion of it is).

Take my cats for instance. They’ve stared in my YouTube channel. They’ve done interviews on my blog. They’ve popped up on my Instagram and even shown their kitty faces on my Twitter. I love them, and since I work at home, I spend a lot of time around them. I share them in the grass, on the couch, while they are sleeping and playing. I make cartoons with them and pose with them and cuddle with them all the time (sometimes even when I don’t want to cuddle). And when I share them, people have fun—because most people love animals—and I have fun—because most people have shared their pets with me—and it’s a fun way to connect and relate to one another as friends instead of Internet strangers. I’d even like to exchange photos of my pets with you. But if you really want to see the ugly moments instead, I’d be more than happy to send you photos of me cleaning out the litter box instead of my three cats cuddling on the couch. (Just kidding, of course . . . I think.)

~SAT

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