Tag Archives: author

Why Bad Things Happen to Round Characters

9 Aug

Announcements:

In my latest interview with eBook Review Gal, I discuss my favorite types of self-promotion, my novels, and more! A small excerpt is below, but you can read the full interview by clicking here.

“What would readers be surprised to know about you?

I quit publishing for five years. I honestly gave up all hope, and it took me a long time to gain confidence in myself and in my writing life again. If it weren’t for the encouraging readers on Wattpad, I don’t know if I would’ve found the courage to return. Readers are powerful. They are the best friends of authors, so I’m eternally grateful for every person who has taken even one minute to check out my work or email me.”

Why Bad Things Happen to Round Characters:

I spend a lot of time on the blogosphere. I read book reviews, comment on discussions, and stumble upon opinions that make me cringe. But – alas – we all have these opinions, and I want to share one of mine today. Bad things will happen to characters. Their past will be messed up, their present will be tense, and their future will probably take a tumble every now and then. This is a sign that the story is eventful and the characters are round. (#SorryNotSorry)

So why am I saying this? (Okay. I’m sorry for using a hashtag outside of Twitter.)

I recently read a list of popular cliché complaints as fans displayed them on my Facebook newsfeed, but only one stuck out to me. The reader was tired of seeing “damaged” protagonists. For once, they wanted a character that didn’t have a past that affected who they were, and they were definitely sick of seeing two damaged people coming together as love interests

What…the…actual…

Okay. I’m going to glue a pillow to my desk, so when I slam my forehead against it, I don’t get a concussion. But – first – I’m going to write this article.

Bad things happen to everyone. I actually loathe the phrase “bad things happen to good people” because it is wrong. So horribly wrong. Bad things happen to everyone. Every. Single. Person. (Especially if they live a long life…and if they don’t live a long life, I think we can count that as something bad happening to them.)

I get it. I understand that people might not be complaining about bad things happening to characters, that they are, in fact, complaining about stories in which those bad things become the glue, the foundation of a relationship. I can see how someone might think that is encouraging unhealthy beginnings, but – let’s be real – and I mean REALLY real – bad things happen to real people. Why wouldn’t bad things happen to characters, too? Because of this, I’m including more reasons bad things happening to characters can be a good thing for a story:

1. Round characters = Relatable characters

Okay. So the equation isn’t that simple, but round characters definitely contribute to relatable characters, and round characters include past, present, and future. If they had a perfect life, there would be nothing to talk about. On the flipside, bad events can build character, which means it can round out a fictional character, and it can make a person more relatable and real for readers.

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2. When bad things happen to characters, it reminds readers that bad things can happen to them.

This goes back to the complaints surrounding an abundance of dead parents and siblings in fiction. Of course someone has died somewhere in the book. That’s because everyone dies, and – unless the book takes place in a magical, immortal universe – I better see someone who at least knows someone who died or the threat of death isn’t present.

This correlates with bad events. If nothing bad has ever happened to a character, especially an older character, how could they have any perception of danger? Of life? Of happiness? Call me the cynical one, but how can you truly appreciate sunshine if you’ve never had to be locked out in a thunderstorm? (Figurateively speaking, of course.)

And lastly,

3. Let’s stop describing characters and people as “damaged”

This is when my evil demeanor to comes out – how dare we describe people as ”damaged” (especially when their trauma is beyond them.) This phrase seriously sickens me. We’re all human. Everyone has damages, sure, but we aren’t damaged. We aren’t objects. We are people. By describing a person or a character as “damaged goods” we have placed that second word on them: goods. Which they are not by the way. Goods can be bought at a store. People, in an ideal world, cannot be.

If we see a character that has a traumatic past that means they are round. Sure, a character doesn’t have to have a traumatic past to be round, but they do have to have a past, and – chances are – something bad happened to them somewhere along the way. That means they have depth. That means they’re more likely seen as a real human being.

So what do we want? A round character that had hardships or a flat character that knows nothing of the world?

Just to clarify, I am not hating on characters that have had nothing happen to them. In fact, in Minutes Before Sunset Jessica states, “I knew nothing of death, and for some unexplainable reason, I was beginning to feel guilty for that.” Yes. She’s had hardships but not of that kind (in her opinion.) But my point rests in the future. If a character has had nothing happen to them yet, but then something happens in the book, they should react like someone who has never had to go through anything. I, personally, cannot stand a story where a character who’s never held a gun picks one up and blasts away zombies like it’s nothing. Sorry. But I’ve spent time in a gun range. I see how people react the first time they pick up a gun, and I would hate to see how they react if it was a life or death situation. But – back to the main point –

Bad things will happen to characters in their past, present, and future. Just check out a Disney movie and see how many of their characters have happy beginnings. (Spoiler Alert: not many.) And hopefully – somewhere along the way – these events will shape those characters into people we can all relate to, look up to, and explore with. Hopefully, those bad things make them human, and good things will happen, too.

~SAT

July’s Ketchup

30 Jul

Announcements:

I Am a Reader is giving away three eBooks of Minutes Before Sunset, but they’ve also posted an interview I did with them. Join the raffle and the fun by clicking here.

If you want more news about Take Me Tomorrow, The Starving Bibliophile posted her review, stating, “Sophia is a goddamn hero” among various excerpts and lists. Read her entire review by clicking here.

July’s Ketchup

July’s Ketchup is here! For those of you just now checking in this month, I write “Ketchup” posts at the end of every month, 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. Because I received an email about this, I have added one new item to these stats – number one clicked item. For those of you who do not have a WordPress, this is a stat they offer on our Dashboards. This is a fantastic suggestion because I think it will show readers where my website sends my readers when they leave here, so I hope you enjoy this addition.

Big Moments:

takemetomorrow

#1 Clicked Item – Link to TMT on Amazon

Take Me Tomorrow released as an eBook. The paperback is coming (I promise.) And I am so happy to finally have this novel in readers’ hands. A few days ago, Take Me Tomorrow was even in the top 100 in dystopian novels, so that was really neat! I am truly looking forward to seeing how more readers react to the topics in Take Me Tomorrow because – in all honesty – this novel is going to affect major decisions for my upcoming novels, like if there is a sequel or not. So I hope you continue checking out my latest novel and telling me what you think.

You can check it out here: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords

New York Times and USA Today’s Bestselling author, M.A. Comley, quoted Seconds Before Sunrise. 

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And in the end, we hit 17,000 followers this month! Thank you for making these moments big, but – most of all – thank you for growing with me.

Top Three Blog Posts:

1. Why I Write About Drugs, Immigration, and Addiction: Take Me Tomorrow was written with great care. Considering there are very serious subjects in it – drug use, immigration, addiction, etc. – I took my time to research throughly, even changing the novel in a direction I never saw coming, including directions I was originally against because these topics are very personal to my life, and this post explains all of that.

2. Different Social Medias and How I Use Them as an Author: Social media is a crazy, confusing road, but it doesn’t have to be.

3. You’re Spell Check is All Ways Write: From my YouTube channel – Coffee & Cats – this video explains why writers should not rely only on technology.

game3The Post I Wish Got More Views:

Finding Time to Write in College: In all honestly, I have no idea how many views this got since I was a guest blogger on Pau’s Castles, but I wanted to make sure that everyone had a chance to see it and Pau’s fantastic website. I talk about how I managed my time in college so I could write novels, including Take Me Tomorrow.

Guest Post:

Spreading the Love: Written by Mishka Jenkins, this romance-focused post explains why some authors enjoy writing about love and why it is so important for us to continue to write love stories.

Other Blog Posts Organized By Topic:

Reading:

My #1 referrer was Twitter

My #1 referrer was Twitter

Publishing:

Author Life:

For Fun:

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: Live. Laugh. Read, Chris Pavesic, Things Matter, Ray’s Works, Inkwell & Paper, Diary of an Eager Reader, Elaine Jeremiah, The Starving Bibliophile.

Seconds Before Sunrise: Hines and Bigham’s Literary Tryst

Minutes Before Sunset: My Library in the MakingLive. Laugh. Read.

Interviews: I Am a Reader, Diary of an Eager Reader, Camisado Mind, The Authors Show, Lit Chic, Marcha’s Two Cents Worth, HeiBooks, The Starving Bibliophile, Indie Romance Convention

Awarders: Very Inspiring Blogger Award (The Troubled Oyster), Very Inspiring Blogger Award (Honya’s Bookshelf), Very Inspiring Blogger Award (A World of Words)

Giveaways: The Nerdy Girlie, Platypire Reviews, Fantasy is More Fun, I Am a Reader, Books to curl up with blog

Photo from Favim.com - reminded me of a scene from the TMT sequel. ::wink wink::

Photo from Favim.com – reminded me of a scene from the TMT sequel. ::wink wink::

Happy Fourth! & Take Me Tomorrow News

4 Jul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~SAT

My awesome dad

My awesome dad

Dedication:

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

Acknowledgements:

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

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

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

~SAT

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

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My Week as an Author: the Many Ups and Downs

18 Jun

If you follow my Facebook page, then you’ve seen the events that I am about to talk about, and you saw them happen to me in real-time. (What can I say? Facebook is my go-to place to speak to you all live.) But if you don’t follow my Facebook page:

1. You missed out on all of the crazy events that happened this week.

2. You should be following my Facebook page. (I post entertaining stories, things that make you laugh, and the occasional interview. I even give away prizes, like guest blog post opportunities. I promise.)

So today I am sharing all of the crazy events that happened to me this week and how they affected me. Some were fantastic and others took my little ego down a notch. Why am I sharing this? Because readers are often sending me questions about what it is like to be an author. In fact, ever since I posted The Pros and Cons of Being An Author, one of the main questions I get asked is what my life is like and how I’ve dealt with ups and downs. And this week is a perfect example of how hectic, crazy, lovely, and insanely exciting it can be to be an author. (Did I mention soul-crushing and absolutely uplifting as well?)

Hopefully, these ups and downs that I went through will give insight to those who are curious about my author life and authors in general, but remember: no matter what, you must stay positive and believe in yourself. You’re following your dream after all.

The events are listed in the order that they happened:

I received a rejection for my poetry collection:

That’s right. I get rejected, too. Just because you’ve been published before, even in the same genre, does not mean you’ll be accepted everywhere you go. In fact, I’ve been rejected dozens of times, especially before I got November Snow published in 2007. A few months ago one of my favorite literary magazines – The Normal School – opened up their submissions for their fifth annual poetry competition. My collection didn’t make it. If I had to be completely honest, this is the second time I’ve been rejected by them. (The first time was a nonfiction piece.) But I am definitely going to keep trying! Even though every rejection hurts a little, you have to find the strength to fight back. One of my goals is to beat my fear of publishing nonfiction, so I’m working on getting at least one essay published within the next two years. Having a goal helps me accept rejection as the next step toward acceptance. That might seem backwards, but – to me – having a goal reminds me that I haven’t given up and how I won’t give up. It keeps me focused, and it prevents me from dwelling. When one door closes, it helps you move onto trying to open the next door in the hallway of life. In fact, on this exact same day, a door opened to me:

I received an acceptance letter for my short story:

On the same day I received a rejection, I received an acceptance. A few hours passed between the two, but I was glad I remained positive because I was able to be fully excited about this moment instead of allowing the rejection to taint my positive moment. The short story is slated for release in August of this year, but that’s all I can say for now.

I hit 20,000 words in Death Before Daylight

I mention this for many reasons, but here’s the main reason. It wasn’t a letter I received. It was a result of my hard work. If I allow myself to get distracted by the rejection, I might not have met this goal. It might have set me back a few days. Is that really worth it? I don’t think so. Staying focused on achieving the next step of my future publication is vital to enjoying my writing career. I’m not saying that a writer can’t take a day or two off to feel sad, but writers have to get back up again. For me, I don’t enjoy taking days off. It makes me feel like I’m letting disappointment control me, and I don’t want disappointment to control me. I want my dream to guide me. So I dove right back into Death Before Daylight the second I had some time off of work, and I met a goal I’ve been dying to meet. Plus, I thought fans of The Timely Death Trilogy would enjoy some news. If you’re on my Facebook, you also saw this little teaser:

booknews

I received my final edits for Take Me Tomorrow:

If you haven’t realized this, we are SUPER behind in meeting the publication deadline, so I’ve been biting my nails off. I practically don’t have any right now, but receiving the edits releaved all of that stress – which means that I had a moment feeling a little ridiculous for being so nervous about the edits in the first place. They were going to come no matter what. Worse case scenario, the publication date gets pushed back a little bit, and that’s not a tragedy at all. It’s still coming out after all. I wanted to share this because it shows how a negative focus can disrupt the overall positive experience of getting a novel published. Don’t be like me. Enjoy these moments fully because – when it’s all over and done with – you’re going to have your novel in your hands, and you’re going to want to look back and forward with a smile on your face. You’re working hard! Enjoy that work.

Amtrak Residency program sent me a rejection notice

I’m sure you’re probably starting to realize how often I apply to different events as a writer. Sure, I’m focused on my novels, but I’m also focused on gaining more from different experiences. I applied for this a few months ago. Basically, Amtrak allowed writers to apply to travel on their trains for free as they blogged about their travels. I love traveling. I love writing. It was perfect for me. But – alas – I am not perfect for Amtrak, and that’s okay. Applying isn’t about being a perfect writer for everyone. Being a writer isn’t about being perfect at all. It’s about loving all the adventures that open up to you. I can always apply next year, apply to other programs, and travel on my own. A rejection doesn’t stop me. Only I stop myself. It’s safe to say that I’m not stopping anytime soon. Or ever. (Probably never. Scratch that. I’m never going to give up. Ever.)

A radio show contacted me for an interview in July

Literally – two hours passed from receiving my Amtrak rejection to receiving the most delightful call of my week. A popular author radio show contacted me, and they want to interview me. Can you say, “EEEEEEEE!”? I know. I actually had to hold back from screaming out in delight over the phone. We’re already working out the details, and they’re recording the show in July, but that’s all I can say for now. (More news to come soon!) But this is another instance of how important it is to remain positive. After all, you can’t be crying to your cat about your rejection when a radio host calls you with an offer. That would be awkward.

from Pinterest

from Pinterest

In the end:

As you can see – negative things can happen, but positive ones can follow them within minutes, and it’s important to stay positive so you can receive that positive energy. (Did that sound hippy enough for you? If not, picture me throwing up a peace sign. I also have a flower in my hair. It is pink.)

It may have been a strangely bizarre and eventful week. I practically got whiplash. But it was an important week, and it was a great week, and I am going to continue to have great weeks as long as I focus on the positive directions that open up to me.

To all authors and aspiring authors, enjoy this ride. It’s sure to be a wild one full of adventures you might never see coming.

~SAT

Genders Aren’t Defining Features: Why I’m Tired of Seeing Female Characters Described as Weak and Male Characters Hardly Being Discussed at all.

14 Jun

First, thank you so much for supporting the eBook release of Seconds Before Sunrise on June 12. I wanted to remind everyone that you can get my latest novel for only $0.99 on Smashwords by using the code – BW58C – but you can also go to Amazon and various websites.

Secondly, thank you to Jonas Lee for showcasing me on his website.

And lastly, I have a disclaimer: Today is obviously going to be a heavy discussion. I am not going to pretend that I could cover every little detail that I wish I could discuss. I couldn’t. Not even close. And I was quite sad to see the amount of information I had to delete just to have a reasonable blog post instead of a practice dissertation. That being said, I do plan on sharing more in the future if you would like me to continue this conversation, but I want this to be a positive place on the internet to discuss this topic. From the research I share below, I know how this topic can become highly sensitive very fast. Bullying, stereotyping, name-calling, and other spiteful comments will not be tolerated. I would also like to apologize to those who do not define themselves as male or female. Instead of discussing specifics, I will be discussing the beginning of my research and how the most popular results reflected my frustrations with judgment in literature.

Love,

SAT

Oh, no. I pulled out the gender card. I’m going to be one of those hardcore feminists – (whatever that word actually means ::sarcasm::) – and yes, I will be ranting about the stigmas of today’s world. Watch as people come running, some with popcorn, others with absolute disdain.

What else is new?

It’s a sad fact that I even struggled to write this piece. I’ve been working on it on-and-off for weeks now, wondering what was appropriate, how best to word it, and where to begin, but I should’ve been asking myself one thing: why censor myself at all?

The publishing industry isn’t new to this conversation, so I’m not going to bother with specific character examples. No matter what kind of reader you are, I am sure you’ve heard the debates over various female protagonists being “weak-minded” or “submissive” or “incapable.” In contrast – yes – there are conversations about male leads, but I do not believe they are nearly as judgmental as the discussions that go on and on about female leads.

What’s my proof?

Since I cannot go on forever, I found these two lists:

Yep. The stats for judging females are tripled, if not more, compared to their male counterparts, and that is only one set of lists on Goodreads alone. Even more unfortunate is how much these conversations continue through the depths of the chaotic Internet waves, never-ending, always judging.

Before I continue, I want to clarify that I am not blaming any specific person for this trend. I am not attacking men. I am not attacking women. I am not attacking any of the participants on voting lists or the writers of the articles I am about to share. I simply want to discuss how we – as readers – are judging women in novels more harshly when we shouldn’t be judging any gender at all.

I decided to start where most Internet addicts go – Google – and I knew I wanted to focus on how male and female leads in literature are judged, so I read a few articles here and there when I kept coming across something along these lines: “Author A should be ashamed for creating a character like this for girl’s (or boy’s) to look up to.”

Every discussion generally came back to the author, including an author’s history, religion, or other personal information. As an author myself, this disturbed me because I am adamant that authors are NOT their characters. Yes, some use real-life inspiration but that does not mean that the author intends for a young girl or boy to look up to a fictional character so much that they start repeating their actions. It’s important for readers to separate themselves from characters. (Ouch. I know.) I love characters, too. Some characters I’ve read have helped me through many difficult times in my life, and they will always be close to my heart, but I wouldn’t dress in a green dress to fight demons and fall in love with my enemy just because Serena does that in Daughters of the Moon. And I doubt Lynne Ewing wanted my 12-year-old self to sneak out of the house to fight paranormal crime anymore than my parents did. I am not saying you cannot look up to characters. You definitely can. But there’s a difference in looking up to a character and allowing a fiction world to dictate your decisions in reality.

But I’m moving on from that—(I could talk about that all night)—I want to talk about the next piece of research I did.

What does it mean to be a “good” male or female character?

mint-male-symbol-hiThis is when I returned to handy-dandy Google. I’m about to share the results that bothered me, but I need to take a moment to clarify that this isn’t going to be about how to write that character that will never be judged.

A)   Every character will always be judged

B)   The results are what I’m focusing on because they show how we focus our judgment in gender roles.

Here are pre-typed suggestion results:

When I Googled “How to write a good male character”

  • Pre-Typed Results: How to write a good male dating profile came up first. (Followed by social media profile, THEN character, and then a personal ad)

When I Googled “How to write a good female character”

  • Pre-Typed Results: How to write a good female protagonist came up first. (Followed by female lead, villain, and THEN dating profile.)

It seems we are more nervous writing about a female character than a male character in literature. We’re also curious about villains and leads. But these did not show up in the top four for males.

As frustrating as this was, I continued to Google anyway. I wanted to see the articles. I wanted more insight. I wanted to see what authors “should” be doing and what readers think, so here are the top articles I found: (these articles are informative and amazing pieces. My point is NOT against them, but how we view writing female and male characters in general.)

I Googled “How to write a good male character” These are the first articles that pop up:

Here’s something you should know about me. I HATE the words masculine and feminine. Perhaps because I have constantly been told that I’m a rather masculine girl, “one of the boys”, part of the gang, a “cool” girl. This generally happens because I drive a manual, collect knives, and have seen more dead animals than I would care to admit. I hate makeup, and I wear combat boots every day. I’m used to it. Whatever. What I hate is that these things are “masculine” – that if I do it, I am “masculine” – but so are female characters. In fact, I was reading an article that told female writers to stop having their female characters driving sticks, because it is a lazy attempt to get her to seem deep.

What the actual hell.

red-basic-female-symbol-hiFirst of all, driving a manual isn’t deep. (I should know. I drive one.) It’s learning how to press an extra pedal and move the gears around. Second of all, whether a female is driving a stick or a male is driving a stick, it shouldn’t be seen as masculine or feminine or a blatant attempt to break some weird social stigma we deal with every day. Third of all…UGH. In this belief, there is no winning with female characters. You lose if you use stereotypes and you lose if you don’t because you’re seen as purposely trying to stray away from “realistic” expectations. (This is also where I would like to point out that there are many articles complaining about the various dystopian novels and their female leads being so capable with weapons… I don’t even live in “dystopia” and I have weapons. Try me.)

In case you want the other results, here are the top three articles I found when I Googled “How to write a good female character”

  • How to Write a Main Female Character: this article actually begins stating that female characters are the most complex characters, but I have an argument. We need to stop thinking of women as more complex than men. We’re human. We’re all complex. And a good character – no matter the gender – will be complex.
  • Overcoming Object Love: How to Write Female Leads Who Are People: The title sounds horrible, but the writer does tackle another issue: female characters being treated as “objects, objectives, or incentives.” But it’s terribly sad that we live in a world where we have to CLARIFY that woman are people, too, so female characters should reflect that. I definitely did not see anything close to this on the male results.
  • On Writing Strong (Female) Characters: Again, nothing against the articles. I just dream of a day where articles are based on writing strong characters without focusing on what gender they are.

Just a quick summary: when I research male characters, the results were directed on how women can write them as masculine, and when I searched female characters, I was exposed to objectification. Both of the results revealed gender stereotypes I disdain – both in society and in literature. This isn’t just an article about how we need to stop judging female characters. We need to stop stereotyping male characters, too. But here is my main question:

Can we please stop judging all of our characters based on their genders?

When we do this, we are teaching young readers that they won’t be safe – not even in fiction. That might seem extreme to some, but let’s look at the widely popular complaint: “That female character was weak because of x, y, and z.”

A weakness should never be based on the expectations of a gender, but I would even go so far as to say that we need to stop calling characters weak in general. One (wo)man’s weakness is another (wo)man’s strength, and sometimes, they are the same thing. That is the complexity in literature. That is the complexity of life. And gender shouldn’t devalue the moral ambiguity displayed in various novels in a world filled with so many genres and eclectic tastes. The physical description should be the last thing we mention.

Genders do not define us. They shouldn’t define our characters either. 

~SAT

men-women-holding-hands-hi

Author Announcements

12 Jun

Today is a busy day for me! I normally only blog every other day, but I had to share a few fantastic announcements with everyone. If only I had an awesome podium to stand behind and a little microphone attached to my head. (Sorry – I’ve been watching a lot of TED talks recently…Wait. I’m not sorry. No one should ever be sorry for watching TED talks.)

Moving right along…

First, Tony Jaa – martial artist and actor – deemed me quote worthy. VERY quote worthy. Me. Little ol’ silly me. The amount of blushing my pale face fell victim to was rather embarrassing, but all that blushing is my way of saying thank you soooo much.

tony

and it continued into this morning:

mymorning

If that isn’t enough, Seconds Before Sunrise is officially available on Amazon and Smashwords (and everywhere else.) But you can buy it for only $0.99 by using this code –> BW58C <–  on Smashwords. If you prefer Amazon, don’t worry! It’s only $3.89 there.

nominee-award-february14_(3)I also received an award from Noveltunity – a worldwide eBook club that exclusively features new or undiscovered writers. Every month, they hold a contest for “Book of the Month” and Minutes Before Sunset was in the top 10, so I was awarded nominee status! How neat is that? I definitely recommend this website. In fact, I have a code for you to join. Normally, you have to pay, but with this code –> AESNOV30 <– you get %40 off. Oh, how I love the sweet combinations of letters and numbers that make up lovely codes.  

This is also my 300th blog post: (because this blog is my life.)

300

As a special thank you, I am also sharing something deeply personal about The Timely Death Trilogy, but I will be using an excerpt to explain it:

Below this explanation is an early excerpt from Seconds Before Sunrise. This is from chapter two. It’s told by Jessica, and it is the first dream sequence we see in Seconds Before Sunrise. But the reader knows something Jessica doesn’t because of Minutes Before Sunset – this “dream sequence” isn’t a dream at all. It’s a memory. We see different flashes of separate scenes from book 1, but what you don’t know is that this dream is entirely based off of one of the real dreams I had that inspired The Timely Death Trilogy. In fact, the first dream I ever had was of me running through the forest behind my house. During the dream, I scratched my arm on a thorn bush (which existed in real life) and I woke up with a massive scratch on my arm. Looking back on it, I probably did it to myself. This is one of the reasons I say I “suffer” from nightmares and night terrors in my interviews. I often hurt myself in my sleep. But I’m sharing it to explain why I had moments where I truly contemplated my sanity, moments where I lost myself to the thoughts and questions of “is this really happening?” And now those moment are books, and one of those moments is right here for you to read:

 …

            “Run.”

The sudden voice was barely audible. My heart was racing as fast as my legs were. I leapt over torn up brush and twisted past trees at speeds I couldn’t comprehend. The darkness blended together.

The ground was rigid beneath my feet, and I stumbled as I looked over my shoulder. They were after us. I could feel them, their heat and their strength. The suffocating air was filled with electricity, and it burned against my exposed flesh. As suddenly as it had touched me, it was around my neck.

Her black eyes were boundless, and I lost myself in them before she tossed my body. I flew over her shoulder, easily and helplessly, and collided with wet leaves. My limbs flayed, and I clawed at the ground, attempting to stop my momentum − but it was too late.

My head cracked against a rock, and the sound shuddered through my body. Light consumed my vision before it was replaced with blackness, and then I was awake again.

I saw his eyes first, crystal-blue but clouded with concern. When he met my gaze, he dropped the cold rag he had brushed across my face. The condensation awoke my consciousness.

I gasped, trying to sit up, but his hand pressed my shoulders down. My body reacted to his touch, and his fingers lingered as if he couldn’t let go.

He spoke, but I didn’t hear him, and time blurred like the night had moments before. He moved too quickly, and I couldn’t follow him. He was by the window, and my legs burned as if I’d stood moments before. But I was still in bed, and he spoke by the window.

I couldn’t hear him, but I knew what was happening. He was leaving, and he wouldn’t be back. He disappeared in a cloud of smoke, and I screamed.

I hope you will take a moment to check out Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise today. I won’t ask you to buy it or review it or spread the word about it. I just want to share my words with you – I am unbelievably grateful to be living my dream every day because you – my dear reader – are the reason I can even write on this blog at (currently) 1:17 a.m. on a Thursday since I’m too excited about the eBook release to sleep. Feel free to send me an email to say “hi” or stop by the eBook extravaganza party tonight to interview me live. I will be there. And I will be smiling. (Not in that creepy, Cheshire cat sort of a way, but in that … wait, no. I like the creepy smile. I’ll be smiling like that.)

Bogart and I send our love,

~SAT

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Why Genre Hopping is your best friend

27 May

Shannon, here, to announce our last guest blogger. That’s right. Our last. I will be back on May 29, but today is a wonderful day, because Ryan Attard – author of The Legacy Series – is sharing his thoughts on genre hopping, something we both feel very passionately about. Ryan has blogged on here before, so you might be familiar with him, but if you’re not, check out his website and podcast by clicking the links.

This is one of those subjects that gets a bad rep just for daring to go against the dogma, as established by . . . who knows who, and who knows where. Personally, I dislike rules and constraints of any sort – the reason I am an artist is because I wish to express myself in a free manner, and trying to limit art in any way shape or form makes that very difficult. After all most of what we consider rules are nothing more than guidelines that we misunderstood or took too literally.

Case in point is genre-hopping. For most old school authors this is a cardinal sin punishable by artistic death. I fail to see why. From a technical stand point it does make a shred of sense: if you’re just starting out and try writing fifteen different genres at one go your head will implode to the size of a jelly bean. Most likely you’ll end up with fifteen really good idea that are always ‘almost done’.

However I am addressing serious writers, ones who make a commitment (be it themselves or a slave driver – I mean, publisher) to finish their project. If you are that kind of writer then you and I have much to discuss. Genre hopping is your friend, but unlike marketing (who’s the jackass in the corner with the corny jokes) or editing (that anal guy who’s always correcting other), this guy is more like that erratic insane friend whom everyone keeps their distance from until you try engaging with him. And here’s why you should engage with this dude:

Anyone here ever get writer’s block? If your answer is yes, then join the club. Writer’s block is nothing more than your brain going “TAKE A FREAKIN’ BREAK, MAN!”

And how do you take breaks? You do something else, of course. See where I’m going with this? No?

Writing in multiple genres (let’s say 2 or 3, for kitten’s sakes; don’t overcompensate) means that when you get tired of writing, say, your urban fantasy novel, you can always go to your adventure thriller. You are still writing, so you are still productive – you’re just shifting focus. By way of an example I am going to use myself (and shamelessly plug myself in the process). When I was writing Birthright (coming to you in a few months) I was also writing Book 1 of the Pandora Chronicles (coming to you whenever my publisher decides to get a move on). If you’re of a similar mindset as myself, then you’ll easily get bored of the same old, same old. So switch it up – write something else.

And guess what? By the end of it all you won’t have ONE book but TWO. (That’s twice the fans and twice the money just in case you can’t get a hint.)

Now let’s talk marketing. Yeah, I said it: Marketing.

Don’t be afraid of it – it only looks evil. In reality marketing is what puts that story that you worked so hard for in your reader’s hands.

I’m going to get a little technical but stay with me. There are two types of growth in a business: vertical and horizontal.

Vertical growth is when you grow within a level – sort of like building an apartment complex. You get one apartment on top of the other. Horizontal growth is when you build the same ground floor but in different areas.

Let’s translate this into writing markets. Authors usually pick one market and write for that, i.e. JK Rowling is very famous on the fantasy genre for writing the Harry Potter series. That’s a perfect example of vertical growth.

It’s also the easiest in terms of branding. Think about it; it’s easy to establish yourself in one market if you are dedicating all your efforts to that one market. So you get Rowling with fantasy, Keri Arthur with fantasy romance, Rick Riodan with YA mythology-based urban fantasy and Clive Cussler with adventure thrillers. You genre becomes your branding and once this happens it’s nearly impossible to shift to another genre. How many of you can tell me the name of Rowling’s new book? I bet you had to look it up.

For most established (and old-school) writers, genre hopping after you’ve established yourself in a particular market is suicide. It’s like having HP Lovecraft write a historical romance about daisy-picking: that just won’t do (not unless something with teeth and tentacles was involved).

bdedebgfSo does this mean that horizontal growth is better? Not in the least. But it can be smarter if done at the right place, at the right time. Let’s take Jim Butcher as an example. Jim had just begun making a name for himself in the Urban Fantasy market when he released his epic-ish fantasy series. And in recent years, he also released a steampunk series. So why wasn’t the community in uproar? Because he timed it well. He established himself as a multi-genre author whilst growing vertically in his main market, allowing him to expand in multiple genres (markets) at the same time.

One of my favourite podcasts to listen to is the Self-Publishing Podcast. The three hosts, Sean Platt, Johnny B Truant and David Wright, are in full favour of genre-hopping and horizontal growth. According to them (and I fully agree) it wiser to build horizontally and then grow vertically rather than the other way round. To prove their point, they have multiple serials in multiple genres, and only in the past two years have they fully built each and every one of them. Now their library of titles is well over a dozen and that’s what you want as an author.

The idea of a one-hit wonder is not a viable career option. Writing professionally is a hard job: one that requires constant work at improvement and getting more titles out there.

Once again you have to be smart with genre-hopping. Writing in 4 different markets is not the best of ideas. Start with one, and then expand to an adjacent market. That way you get overlap value.

Let’s say you wrote a book for market 1 and later on wrote another book for market 2. When you decide to write another book for market 1, you won’t only get people from that market but also a few from market 2 who are just curious about your work. Those are your true fans.

In my opinion this is one of the best strategies you can use to sustain a long term career. Sure it’ll take you five years instead of two to fully stabilize your roots, but once you do, it’ll be very hard for you not to make it. If you’re concerned with name branding, just use a pen name of an abbreviation like Johanna Penn does. Same author, different pen name, different market; problem solved.

The worst thing that can happen to an established author is to finish their series and then sit on their ass twirling their thumbs. However, when you’ve spread your roots on a wide area, you can always wrap something up and move on to the next project.

After all a writer writes – period. Genre, word count, language – these are all frosting to a cake. So if it doesn’t matter, why bother with it? You’re a writer and an artist. Write what you want to write, in whichever way you want to write it, and power to ya, baby.

- Ryan Attard

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