Tag Archives: follow your dreams

The After Party

28 Mar

Yesterday was my official release date of Seconds Before Sunrise (now available on Amazon.) The virtual party was a great time – and if you weren’t there, we enjoyed a collection of shades, including 6 guards, 4 elders, 3 warriors, 1 student and 1 descendant during the What’s Your Shade Name? game. Eric even got a little dressed up:

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So, today is just about you guys and how wonderful you all are. Special thanks goes out to everyone who came to the celebration – all 338 of you – and I have a group of fantastic reviewers and interviewers that I want to thank below:

First, I must thank Dan Thompson for my latest interview. His questions were thought-provoking and engaged in ideas I haven’t had to answer during a review before. Learn if I believe in the paranormal and fate while reading about one of my recently revealed secrets by clicking here

After that, Jess and Sarah at The Mental Cheesecake held a meeting about Minutes Before Sunset, and they talked about how “many authors neglect to include the thoughts of characters in such a realistic and entertaining fashion. It’s exactly how our brains work while in conversation. We’re very rarely just listening: we watch their body language, judge what they’re saying, think things we would never say and debate over what to have for lunch at the same time.” Find out what they thought about the teens in The Timely Death Trilogy by clicking here. (You might also find out who was intimidated and why.)

Breathe Wild Flower also reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, stating “all I can say is that I enjoyed reading this book so incredibly much.” (But, really, she said a lot more than that, so check it out by clicking here.)

While this was happening, Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise made it onto the bookshelves at Fluente Designs Unique BoutiqueIf you like jewelry, purses, and other goods, check them out, too!

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So if you’re wondering about what bloggers are thinking about Seconds Before Sunrise, I have two more reviews! Remember how I shared a father’s review during my last blog post? His daughter reviewed it, too! And you can now read why she said, Seconds Before Sunrise has it all: Comedy; romance; action. You name it, this story is the real deal.” by clicking hereHer blog, Just a Third Cultured Kid, is definitely with the follow.

The Modest Verge also reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise, stating, “I wasn’t sure what would happen next. It was exciting. Both books full of moments like that.” Read the full review by clicking here.

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I hope you enjoy both books as much as these lovely reviewers did! Today, I’m shipping off paperbacks to the lucky winners. The future feels as great as the party was fun. I look forward to the next one, and I cannot wait to speak with you all live again. Moments like these are beyond exhilarating. They are encouraging, lovely, thoughtful, and fun!

So, thank you to all of the readers, writers, and dreamers who continue to support one another as we live our dreams. Thank you. 

~SAT

If you are interested in previewing my novels, click on these links to “Look Inside”

Minutes Before Sunset (book 1) & Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2)

Interview with Andrew Vogel, actor on Under the Dome, and director

5 Dec

Special thanks to Mrs N of Princess of the Light: Shining the Light for All for nominating ShannonAThompson.com for Blog of the Year: 2013 and the Dragon’s Loyalty Award.

Another special thanks goes to Jennifer K Marsh, author of ILIMOSKUS, for nominating ShannonAThompson.com for the WordPress Family award.

Today, I am delighted to announce that I was able to interview Andrew Vogel, the actor who played Carter Thibodeau in Under The Dome On CBS. You might have seen a photo of him holding Minutes Before Sunset in my last post. Afterward, he was nice enough to agree to an interview, and you can read it below.

Shannon: Hi, Andrew. Thank you for talking with me today.

Andrew: My pleasure.

Shannon: When do you remember deciding to become an actor, what inspired you, and how did you go about it?

Andrew: Well,  I think I was always somewhat of a performer.  I had done plays throughout grammar school and high school. It was always fun for me to be in front of people.  Although it was always nerve-wracking and still is. But I never saw acting as a career option and ended up studying psychology in college.  But even then I was always working on different creative projects.  I even had a comedic rap group going at one point.

At the same time I enrolled in grad school for business of all things, I enrolled in a local acting class. Almost immediately I dis-enrolled from grad school and decided I wanted to give film acting a run. The class had certainly awoken my passion for the art. I had taken a year off after undergrad to work retail and I was flat out miserable.  It was one of those things where I just knew it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. I don’t know if that year inspired me, but it certainly made me realize that I would never be content if creativity wasn’t a significant part of my work.

Anyway, I began training for film acting and also working retail part time. Which still wasn’t satisfying enough.  Did I mention I don’t like working retail? But soon enough, through some good contacts and well placed volunteer efforts, I landed a job as the Editor of Louisiana Film and Video Magazine which allows me to work from home and virtually pursue my creative endeavors full time.

Andrew Vogel as Carter on the set of Under the Dome

Andrew Vogel as Carter on the set of Under the Dome

Shannon: I also hear that you have a passion for directing. What do you like most about directing and do you have any upcoming plans with it?

Andrew: I directed one short film for a 48 hour film contest. It was one of the most rewarding creative experiences I’ve ever had. I had my hand on every detail of the film from the overall vision down to props and costumes. I think what I loved the most was the chaos of it all.  There was so much creative freedom within that chaos. Ideas were flowing off the cuff for myself and the entire team. My wheels were turning as fast as ever, and yet I was forced to be in the moment and keep things moving. There was no time for creative blocks.  We made decisions, improvised and adapted. It’s amazing what ended up remaining of the original vision by the time it was all said and done.  We had added so much richness by the end of the project that wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for the driving force of chaos. Never have I felt more focused and alive, ha.

The feedback we got on the film after the contest was as good as we could have hoped for. Unfortunately, we turned it in a bit late and were not eligible for awards.  On the upside, we did another version of the film with more footage and better quality sound that we are sending out to festivals.

Nothing is set in stone yet, but myself and the original crew of the 48 hour project are always cooking up new ideas.  I certainly plan on directing again in the near future.

Shannon: What has been your most interesting experience as an actor?

Andrew Vogel with Minutes Before Sunset.

Andrew Vogel with Minutes Before Sunset.

Andrew: Being on set as an actor is always interesting.  You kind of fall into a bubble where the outside world doesn’t seem to exist. And you tend to quickly get to know the people you work.  Often times there is little sleep and a lot of waiting. That combination leads to interesting conversation.

For me, my favorite moment as an actor was my first day on Under the Dome.  Keep in mind I had never worked on a project near this size before so I was excited to say the least.  I felt like I was living the dream.  I mean, I was getting paid to do what I love in a city I’ve never been.  I had a king suite at the hotel, a personal trailer on set, and food on demand.  Not a bad setup for a layman. So after being delivered a breakfast burrito to my trailer, I was taken to set with some other actors. They all seemed cooler than me. And probably were.  Once I was on set, I was introduced to the director who responded, “I know who he is. I hired him,” and followed by telling me, “Do exactly what you did in the audition.”  I was nervous at first.  The scenes I was in seemed to revolve around my character, Carter, who is an older bully crashing a high school party with a sixer of beer and a bravado worthy of Steve Stifler.  After my first take which to me felt shaky, the director said to me, “That was bleepin perfect,” and proceeded to give me minor technical notes.  That in combination with a seemingly endless amount of takes had me feeling confident.  By the end of the day I was teaching extras how to spin beer bottles in their hand and seeing how many winks I could fit in before they yelled “cut”. Slight exaggeration.

Shannon: Is your favorite genre of film to work with different from your favorite genre of film to watch?

Andrew: I don’t think I have a favorite genre to work with yet.  I’m certainly still discovering my strengths and weaknesses.  As a dream role I would like to play a villain in one of those comic book movies.

It’s hard to put a label on my favorite movie genre to watch, but I like films that have psychological or philosophical depth. Preferably with surreal or fantastical elements. In my opinion, a good film, like a good book, leaves me thinking afterwards.

Shannon: Has any one specifically encouraged you to become an actor? Has any one discouraged it? What are the best and worst parts about these careers?

Andrew: Since my decision to pursue a career as an actor, most everyone has been supportive. My parents have always encouraged me to perform I think from a young age. Because they knew I enjoyed it. More people are supportive since Under the Dome. Go figure.

I’ve always been a high-risk achiever.  Meaning I try to accomplish the unlikely. And there’s always been people who have told me that I couldn’t do something, and then when I do it, they look for some sort of corruption. That’s okay though. I think the people closest to me have learned to expect the unexpected.

The best part about my career is the fact that I do what I love as a profession.  The worst part is being rejected over and over. But even that isn’t so bad.  I’m at the point where, unless it’s a major audition, I forget about auditions as soon as they are over with.

If you care about having a lot of money, it’s a much tougher road.

Shannon: Finally, do you have any inspirational quotes or thoughts to share with those aspiring to become an actor or director?

Andrew: My philosophy in life is simply to pursue passion and never stop exploring. If you aren’t sure what you are passionate about, then explore life with an open mind until you do. Finding passion will guide you to truth and happiness.

That being said, first make sure you want to act or direct for the right reasons, then jump in head first and don’t look back. Be bold. Take chances. And no matter how much talent you think you might have, be prepared to start from nothing and learn from the best. Without humility and flexibility, you won’t grow as an artist.

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” ― Christopher Reeve

Shannon: Thank you again for speaking with me today.

Be sure to visit Andrew Vogel at IMDB.

~SAT 

Why Is Society Discouraging Kids To Follow Their Dreams?

11 Nov

My ultimate dream is to help people achieve their dreams, especially the youth. Because of this, I keep up-to-date on the latest news in the art world—again—with the youth, and I’ve come across more negative articles than positive ones. Although many have great points, I think they fail in encouraging young artists to continue forward with their dreams by, instead, suggesting children should wait and/or telling them they aren’t good enough yet to be considered professionals. I have a problem with this, and I will explain why by addressing the three main points I disagree with when it comes to children and young adult artists.

1. “Kids should be kids, not adults” As I said on my Facebook Author page, this is the number one phrase I see used. Society encourages children to follow their dreams but only to a point. They tell kids they can do it, but, once they do, they order them to wait. Why? There seems to be a belief that kids can follow their dreams but adults succeed at them (or only adults can handle the pressures—not the happiness—of being successful.) I find the articles that say adults can handle the pressures are biased. There are many adults who cannot. There are many kids who have. And no one seems to talk about the happiness successful artists feel. And, by successful, I do not mean money or fame. I mean personal fulfillment–which many of these artists express having.

Furthermore, this line suggests that following a dream is an “adult” thing, which I wholeheartedly disagree with. It’s a human thing to pursue happiness. And children do not have to sacrifice their childhoods to succeed at their dreams. I think kids/teens can follow their dreams, succeed at them, and still be kids (meaning, go to school, see friends, etc.) It is possible. I know it depends on the extremes of the dream, but I believe it can be done. For instance, I had my first book published at 16, but I graduated high school, had a job, saw friends, and managed my novels by myself (which I will get into more detail in the next segment.)

2. “Kids aren’t driving the train; their parents are.” Although this is true for many of them, there are just as many who are driving their passions by themselves with no pressure from their parents or bosses. I know this because I am one of those cases. I started writing seriously at 11, published at 16, and I did it by myself. My father supports me, of course, but he struggles with reading. To this day, he’s only made it 10 pages into any of my books, and I’m proud that he even tried. The point of sharing this is to prove that a child can drive that train. There isn’t an age limit on the license you need to drive the train of your dream. Look at Mary Shelley or S.E. Hinton (who was 17 years old when she published “The Outsiders.”) But what about Nancy Yi Fan? She was 12 when she published “Swordbird” in 2012. All of which were not pressured by an outside force but rather an inside passion.

3. “Kids haven’t lived enough to understand life, so how can they express it?” This is the most disturbing trend I’ve seen. This might be a newsflash to some, but I hope that it isn’t: most children do not have perfect childhoods. Many kids have to face difficult and even horrible things. Because of this, some kids have gone through more in their childhood than most people have in their fifty-some years. It is very unfortunate, but this is life. There are hundreds upon thousands of children who understand life a lot more than we’d hope. So, yes. They can express life. Just reading about Ishmael Beah, Nujood Ali, or Jeannette Walls is enough to remind of us of that; isn’t it?

There is one thing I want to clarify: I do agree with articles that are focused on the physical dangers in certain activities. For instance, it’s proven that extreme sports on young children can be beyond hazardous, and in art, for instance, we have Jackie Evancho. She sings opera, and many are worried (and can use evidence to support their worries) that her vocal cords will be destroyed for life if she does not have the proper training. In cases like this, I completely agree there are limitations we must face in a productive manner. But I want to emphasize the word “productive.”

To this, I end my post with my ultimate opinion over this issue:

Follow your dreams. Just be safe doing it.

~SAT

P.S. I want to share a book for all aspiring young artists:Do Hard Things” is a nonfiction book that encourages teens to “rebel against low expectations.” It was also published by Alex and Brett Harris — before they had their 20th birthday.

P.S.S. Comments from my Facebook Author Page: (read all of them by clicking the link)

Greg Lamb – Author: “No matter what their age, people should go after their dreams, especially if they have gift – I think most adults who say stuff like, ‘let kids be kids’ really just don’t want to see young people to suffer from the stress that adults tend to add into the equation.”

Samantha Ann Achaia: “I believe that parents should help them pursue their dreams no matter what their age is. The media needs to let kids be kids and not be in their business and follow them with cameras 24/7. I think that’s the biggest fear parents have with their children following their dreams.”

Angel Pricer: “We can only encourage our children in a healthy, productive way to the extent that we do so for ourselves.”

The Artist’s Guilt

6 Nov

Win a signed copy of Minutes Before Sunset today

Most people would agree that art is very significant to a culture, especially the older the art lasts. Ironically, those same people might belittle the “starving artists” or any artist for many reasons (the main one generally surrounds an income.) But, even more importantly, artists often belittle themselves, and that’s what I wanted to talk about today: the guilt associated with being an artist.

Granted, I am a writer. I cannot draw. I definitely can’t sing. And dancing might result in a broken limb. So why am I talking about artists like we’re all the same? Because all types of art are a form of expression. With a definition as simple as this, it’s hard to remember why we–as artists–might feel guilty. There’s nothing wrong with expression, right? As long as it’s not violent to others or to the artists, I would say there shouldn’t be any guilt in expressing something, but, to be quite frank, society just doesn’t function on expression.

There are basic necessities needed for survival. There are loved one who need attention. There are bills to be paid. And then there is expression. ( Take the order however you want to take it. )

Because of this, I believe the artist’s guilt comes down to two different categories: (Since I’m a writer, I will be using writers as examples.)

1. The art is conflicting with every day life: it either prohibits life’s needs or life’s needs prohibit the art.

I see this mainly with money. It’s a necessity to life. We buy groceries, see the doctor, and get clothes with money. But it’s hard to make enough money with art, and it’s difficult to pursue art while working a full-time job. Beyond that, we see a time guilt as well. This happen a lot with parents. Mothers and fathers take care of their children first which often takes time away from writing. (This is not to say this is a bad thing, of course.) But I also see it happen with students, who feel guilty about writing instead of studying or studying instead of writing.

2. The art is unsatisfactory to the artist: that can rely on the final piece or how people react to the piece.

I think many artists feel guilty for all of the time they spent on a project if it doesn’t satisfy the viewer or if they failed to meet their own expectations. But my biggest guilt hits me when I realize some of the topics I write about are truly traumatizing to people, and I’m afraid I might offend, hurt, and/or misrepresent those very people. Honestly, I’ve seen reviews of readers saying an author was disrespectful to a topic, and I found myself wondering how a reader could assume the author hadn’t gone through it themselves and that the author was actually being honest rather than disrespectful? It’s hard to say. But I think this guilt–whether it be a reaction from the artist or the viewer–happens a lot.

So what can we do to cope with this artist’s guilt?

A good cuddle session with Bogart also helps with the guilt :]

A good cuddle session with Bogart also helps with the guilt :]

Like everyone else, I have responsibilities: school, work, relationships, etc. But writing is a must for me. My emotional and mental, if not physical, health depends on my ability to express myself. Even if it’s for five minutes, I need it. But that’s not to say I don’t feel guilty when I spend an entire night writing instead of seeing a friend or running errands that I should’ve done last week. I do. And I definitely have anxiety over a reader feeling I’ve misrepresented a group of people. But these two worries are overcome by one fact: Writing brings me happiness. It completes me. No matter how much guilt I feel, I am quickly reminded by how much happiness I feel following my dream, knowing that expressing myself through art will allow me to be the best person that I can be. 

Basically, I think it’s vital for artists to remind themselves why they became artists in the first place and what/why art brings them happiness. We can also remind ourselves that we are definitely not alone in this.

To prove this, you can look at my Facebook Author Page where I asked, “Do you have any guilt associated with being a writer?” And here were two fantastic answers: 

Patrick Dixon: (Insomnia, Nightmares, and General Madness)

“I tend to suffer from an overabundance of guilt in general, but two kinds directly relating to writing are pretty common for me:

First, that I don’t do it enough or well enough, so the concept of even calling myself a “writer” feels like a bad joke. This has been especially common in the last couple of months since personal, financial and health problems have kept me away from the keyboard for far longer than they should have. There isn’t really a cure for this other than just sitting down and writing, but that has a way of making it’s own guilt complex (“What am I ignoring to do this, which is actually just a hobby or a joke or a waste of time, hmmm?”)

Second, similarly to you, that what I write will offend, irritate or otherwise alienate readers, especially those sensitive to the source material. One of my novels deals heavily with a suicidally depressed (and possibly schizophrenic or otherwise delusional) individual and ends… well. Quite poorly for him, we’ll say. I’ve received several angry comments, claiming that I don’t know what it’s like (and, actually, given a background of abuse and mental and physical health issues, that’s kind of where most of it came from…) and some that claim it’s essentially an endorsement for erratic and suicidal behavior (when I was trying to write it out of my system, not “infect” others with it.) Again, there isn’t much you can do except stand by your work; you wrote it, the “truth” as you knew it, and it’s bound to upset somebody… but it’s also likely that there’s just as many somebodies who found something useful in it.”

Josephine Jones Harwood: Romance Writer

“This is an excellent question and topic, Shannon. I just read this post and I hope I’m not too late to make a comment: As a first-time author there has been a transition that has occurred in my life. Writing is no longer a hobby like putting a puzzle together for relaxation. I feel a true passion and need to write and keep on writing…and this is when the guilt settles in like a stone in the pit of my stomach. I am a wife, a mother, and I am also a family caregiver. Writing must take a backseat to obligations and responsibilities. I have no regrets, and I have a very blessed life. I truly appreciate the quiet moments when it is my time to write…but this is always accompanied by guilt…because it is “my” time.”

So do have any guilt associated with being a writer? Or being any kind of artist? 

Comment below and share your story!

~SAT

One of my “Highs” as an Author

14 Oct

When I finished my last post, I received so many heartfelt comments, and I want to first thank those fellow writers and readers for their kindness and support when it comes to one another’s difficulties being an artist. I am, once again, reminded of how influential and inspiring the WordPress community can be. Thank you.

Now, as I looked back on my post, I knew I had to do a followup post about my “highs” because I didn’t want to only concentrate on the negative. I wanted to show how exciting and uplifting being an artist can be. So I’m going to share three exciting events that happened to me this week and how they made me feel–with all of the emotions that came with them.

Minutes Before Sunset will officially be in a store.

That’s right. Fluente Designs, an upcoming store in Tullahoma, Tennessee, will have all of the AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. novels on their shelves. The photo below are the books that will be shelved. This is an amazing feeling as an author. I have to admit that I’m beyond excited for this. The owner has also agreed to an interview (so look out for that) and I’m looking forward to be able to share another artist with everyone. I also think it’s natural for me to also feel nervous about this. This moment feels like Minutes Before Sunset is creeping up, spreading out, and reaching more readers that I couldn’t reach without Fluente Designs‘ support. A big thank you goes out to Fluente Designs. Who knows? Maybe more stores will follow their lead. That would be breathtaking.

AEC Stellar's FB cover photo

AEC Stellar’s FB cover photo

My Stats Spiked

Minutes Before Sunset had the biggest spike in Amazon sales since the release in May. It was #9,308 in the Kindle Store, but it also hit #649 in Fantasy and and #407 in Romance/Paranormal, which I thought was awesome, because they are such competitive categories.

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Although I’m truly happy this happened, I have to admit I have always tried to never pay attention to stats. I think they can bring people down a lot (because it’s much easier to go down than to go back up) so I’m simply trying to enjoy the moment while it lasts and hope that I can continue to see my novel get into more hands to entertain them. That being said, there’s a confusing emotion that comes with wanting to enjoy the moment and knowing you can’t stare at it forever (or even for the few days it lasts for.) So I patted myself on the back, smiled, and continued to look away from my stats, knowing it’s better to focus on my love for writing than seeing numbers rise, even though I am thankful for it. (Seriously thankful for it.)

Twitter Encounters 

I’m not sure why or how, but I logged onto my Twitter, checked my messages, looked at my interactions, and froze when I saw this:  T. Harv Eker, #1 NY Times Bestselling author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, quoted me on his page.

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Following that, Shawne Duperon, 6-time Emmy winner and founder of Project Forgive also retweeted the quote and tweeted to me.

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Again, I have no idea how they got this quote. (It’s from November Snow, my first published novel.) But I can admit that seeing them on my Twitter Interactions made me rub my eyes like I’d stayed up too late and stared at my computer a little too long. I actually asked my father to read it to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, which, for the record, I wasn’t. (Whew.) They made my day. Not because they’re celebrities but because they both used that quote as a list of inspiring quotes to encourage people to get up and pursue their dreams, and my ultimate goal is to inspire people to follow their dreams. By using my quote to inspire others, T. Harv Eker and Shawne Duperon gave me an amazing gift without even realizing it: a deeper hope and belief that I can help even more people. And, for that, I thank both of them immensely.

It’s been a strange week for me as an author. I started off feeling down, then I defeated a down, and I was met with numerous 1175490_2091842814335_794178008_n“highs” I could barely believe, let alone comprehend. It’s honestly reminding me a lot of creating plots for stories: a road trip where we know where we start, have a destination in mind, and a few places in-between we think we might visit.  But, this time, I don’t know where I’m going or how / when / if it will end, and these in-between places are making me realize something about my writing career: I’m starting to become more excited about the fact that tomorrow might meet me with a new writing surprise. I guess you could say I’m shifting the gears, enjoying the ride, and seeing where it takes me. All with my cat in the passenger seat.

~SAT

One of my “Lows” as an Author

12 Oct

Today I wanted to talk about something many artists–no matter what kind of art they practice–struggle with: lows.

We have them sometimes as often as we have “highs.” When I say “highs” I am talking about those moments where you feel on top of the world, like you’ve accomplished everything you’ve ever dreamed of, and when I talk about “lows” I am talking about those moments that often follow our “highs.”

For me, the lows that follow highs are the hardest, not because they are emotional but because they are difficult to understand. The day before, filled with a high, you feel confident and beyond excited. It’s almost paralyzing when a low hits you the next morning. I wanted to talk about the one that I struggle with the most in the hopes of helping other writers (or artists) understand they aren’t alone or strange to be confused about these highs and lows as I have felt before.

My hardest lows happen when I finish a book.

As many of you know, I finished Seconds Before Sunrise recently. Granted, I “finished” writing it in high school, but the finalized version is MUCH different than the original, not because my publisher has asked me to change it, but because I decided to change a lot. I’ve grown up a lot since I first wrote it, I’ve learned a lot about writing, so I practically rewrote the entire trilogy when it was signed with AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. Therefore, I’m still experiencing the “high” of finishing it, followed by the “low” the day after.

The low comes from the realization that the novel is over. The creating is done. The adventure has settled, and it’s ready to be shared, but I’m no longer traveling within words, and it takes me a while to get into another novel afterwards, because it’s hard for me to let go of my previous work.

So what do I do to cope with it?

Previously, I’ve talked about going back, reflecting on my childhood or another time where my love for writing was a little more pure, naive to the changes that must be made when an artist grows into another stage of being an artist. And it helps. This is why I decided I wanted to share the piece of me that got me out of my recent “low.”

14 years old and reading as usual

14 years old and reading as usual

I was 14 when this photo was taken, which, roughly speaking, is when I started writing Seconds Before Sunrise. (Remember, I wrote Seconds Before Sunrise before Minutes Before Sunset.) I had yet to publish November Snow, and I was still dreaming of the day I could hold my published works in my hands. Perhaps this is why I held onto a “Personal Profile” my freshman English teacher had us fill out on my first day of high school so she could get to know us better. Below are the two answers that brought my author love out of that low: (excuse my handwriting; it hasn’t been right since I broke my left hand and had to switch to my right hand)

20131010_193544 20131010_193555

When I read further, I was asked what my greatest goal was, and I said “to publish a book.” The perfect gift for me would be “a Barnes & Noble gift card” and when I get older, I wanted to be “an author.” I also said my favorite quote was “An ambition is a dream with a V8 engine” said by my favorite singer, Elvis Presley. I realized my dream was my focus in this questionnaire that I’m sure no one expected me to keep as one of the most important documents I have today.

I talked about my dreams, and, at the time, I kept it to remind myself of my goals. Since this was August 18, 2005, I was completely oblivious that November Snow would be published two years later or that Minutes Before Sunset would be published in 2013.

Today, this paper still reminds me of my goals, which I think is beautiful thing. In a sense, my 14-year-old self can still cheer me on. Even more important, I am reminded that I can cheer myself on by believing in everything I’ve done throughout the years. I may have been scribbling down answers as fast as I could (because who likes to spend hours on homework) but I still knew what I desired most: to live my life pursuing what I love most–writing–and I did.

As I continue to follow this dream, I have added more goals to my writer’s dream. Back then, all I wanted was my published book in my hands. Today, I want to help other aspiring writers achieve the same dream, and I also want to encourage other people to follow their dreams, no matter what it is. I want to challenge archetypes and stereotypes in literature. I want to depicts characters young adults today can relate to, learn from, and grow with. And I’m doing this by having the goal of challenging myself. In order to do this, I have to believe in myself, even in my lows, and I do, which is something much easier to write than to actually do. But, nevertheless, I know I’m not alone in this and no artist is alone in this.

We’re going to have days we’re on top of the world, and we’re going to have nights where we’re not sure if we should continue pursuing our dreams the next morning. But we get up anyway, because we know we can’t stop, because we can’t stop passion. We can’t stop a dream.

The point of this post has became less about my “lows” as an author and more about how we can stay in that “high” by reminding ourselves of what matters: happiness. And I hope this helps others find a place where happiness already resides: in our dreaming hearts.

~SAT

Why I Won’t Give Up

18 Jun
This is my favorite photo of my mother, and I share it on my video.

This is my favorite photo of my mother, and I share it on my video.

WEBSITE UPDATE: If you all recall, Minutes Before Sunset needed nominations for “Book of the Month” on Goodreads, and you all succeeded! But I need votes. PLEASE VOTE BY CLICKING THE LINK. We’re three votes away from first place. I need all of the support I can get :D 

Thank you for voting: Gregory S. LambChristina ChannelleAmber ForbesBob WilliamsMarie BaileyLaura B., Raymond, Silver WolfChristieKristy Feltenberger GillespieDale SpillerDan PawlowskiPeter JohnTuan HoRaul Diaz, Nada Faris, Chris, Jessica, Merilyn Dignum, Andree, Charles E. Yallowitz, Vickie Kayuk, KerriSarah, Ky Grabowski, David Thompson, Chris the Story Reading Ape, and Hereswhatsgoingon, !  (I’ll add your site here when you vote too!)

This post was inspired by Ky Grabowski, a writer and reader I mentioned on my last post: Published Paperback & Spotlight Interview. On June 7, 2013, Ky blogged Why I Won’t Give Up, and her story inspired me to share mine. So I shot a video explaining details of my life I haven’t released before, and I’ve added a link below. I’ve also added quotes to give you an idea of what it’s about, but there’s a file to open the text if you prefer to read. It’s four pages long or I would’ve posted it directly onto my site.

Quotes from my “Why I Won’t Give Up” Video:

  • You know every day you’ll have a moment of doubt. Every day. But you’ll also have hours of happiness and encouragement and people who believe in you and people you believe in. And it’s worth it again. It’s always—it’s worth it. Everything is worth it.
  • When I was sitting here and I was looking at this, I was thinking “How many people dream of this?” “How long have I dreamed of this?” “What do I still dream of?” I dream of getting people to this point. I dream of people being able to look at this: their words on a printed page, their name on a binding, their picture on the back of a book. This is what I dream of for others. That’s why I don’t stop.
  • My dream is why I continue. I continue for others. My dream is for others.
When "November Snow" was published, my father surprised me with this gift: the printed cover inside a silver frame.

When “November Snow” was published, my father surprised me with this gift: the printed cover inside a silver frame.

Watch the video by clicking this link or read the text by clicking the file: Video Text

"November Snow" was originally titled "It's Only a Matter of Time" and this is the original burnt file.

“November Snow” was originally titled “It’s Only a Matter of Time” and this is the original burnt file.

Specifically speaking, I talk about my nightmares and night terrors in detail, explaining an in-between place that inspired most of my novels today. I also talk about my mother’s inspiration and how her sudden death effected my life. I share a lot of information about November Snow I haven’t had a chance to talk about before, and I compare those details to being published in the poetry collection dedicated to my late roommate. In the end, I discuss my ultimate goal in life, which isn’t to become a famous author, but rather to open an affordable art school for talented young adult to be able to connect with professionals in their field.

"November Snow" "Poets: a collection of twelve young Kansas poets" & "Minutes Before Sunset." My publications that push me forward to continue chasing the dream.

“November Snow” “Poems: a collection of twelve young Kansas poets” & “Minutes Before Sunset.” My publications that push me forward to continue chasing the dream.

I truly summed up the video compared to the original explanation, but I did this, because I really hope others will share why they won’t give up. Towards the end I said this: “I hope other people analyze their dreams on a deeper level to see if they’re actually dreaming for themselves or if they’re dreaming for another reason entirely.” What I mean by this: we may have the dream to be an author, but what’s beyond that? Even if the answer is to share your words (and themes) with the world, you’re dreams are beyond what I think we might realize on a regular basis.

So take time today. Think about your ultimate goals when it comes to writing (or goals in general) and feel free to share. By sharing this post, I’m hoping to keep this topic going within the writing community. Share your story below or post on another blog altogether. Let’s inspire others together :D

~SAT

Writing Tips: Mother’s Day & Childhood Inspiration

12 May

Now, I have to admit that I’m unsure if this qualifies as “writing tips” or not, but I can’t seem to think of another way to explain it other than to explain recent events in my life and how I got to this decision to post about this.

On Friday night, I was driving home when I was hit by a drunk driver. Everyone was physically fine, but these moments often make you take a step back and wonder “what if?” or simply reflect on life. It’s also Mother’s Day, and, as many of you know, my mother passed away in 2003, so there’s been a lot of personal reflection happening for me over the past few days, and I wanted to share my thoughts on how reflecting can help your passionate spark if you feel as if it’s about to die.

Happy Mother's Day. This is Halloween, 1992, with my mother, my brother, and I. I was a ghost :] Probably perfect considering my paleness.

Happy Mother’s Day. This is Halloween, 1992, with my mother, my brother, and I. I was a ghost :] Probably perfect considering my paleness.

But, first, If you want something short and sweet, I posted this on my Twitter, and many followers found it comforting. “Do you sometimes feel like chasing your artistic dream is hard? This will cheer you up: click here.” 

Now–the bigger reflection: I’ve had more experiences in this sort of stuff than I’d like to admit to myself, but they always cause me to look back, and my childhood is often where I end up. I cannot say why this is other than it’s caused by a “flashback” sort of a thing. I begin thinking about what I’m grateful for, who I love, what I love, and everything that moves me from one day to another. But I’m going to concentrate on writing, because I want to stay in the “writing tips” as much as I possibly can.

So what in my childhood moved me forward into writing? (And many of you already know about my mother’s death being the biggest moment when I was pushed forward into taking it seriously, so, again, I’m going to talk about something else, although that is essential.)

Favorite Books:

I think this can be very important to remember, but, even more so, to return to every piece once in a while and read. Include first books, middle school reads, and beyond. On days where you’re feeling down, especially about writing, returning to these texts can spark your passion again, easily and without any strenuous effort. All you have to do is read, and you might be amazed at how quickly you’ll return to your timeless love for language, even if the original texts are simple and/or wouldn’t spark interest today if you hadn’t read it before.

Mine, as an example, includes childhood novels about Nancy Drew and Scooby Doo, young-adult series by Meg Cabot or Lynne Ewing (specifically Daughters of the Moon), and adult novels, generally memoirs like Mop Men, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, or A Long Way Gone. I can even return to literature I loved in school, my favorite being The Stranger.

As a comedic picture: this is me, shocked by novels, at 3 years old, and my great-grandmother quite thrown off by my craziness.

As a comedic picture: this is me, shocked by novels, at 3 years old, and my great-grandmother quite thrown off by my craziness.

Favorite Writing Experiences: 

These moments can bring back the original moments that brought you the utmost happiness before other moments brought you down. You can return yourself, especially to childhood, when you first started writing and you didn’t have the stresses of publication or critiques. These memories, although little, are very powerful.

My personal example? In second grade, my short story about my two dogs, Milo and Max, won the class writing competition, and I got to read it to the class. I still have it, and the drawings and wording often makes me giggle, but it also lightens my writing soul. I go right back to that podium, when I was fearless, and I feel it transition to today’s time.

Others who inspired:

Think beyond the top five people who inspire you today. Try to recall the first few who you may not remember on a regular basis but know that they linger somewhere in your artistic past (meaning they’re also in your artistic self today.) Most of the time, you might remember one, but then you’ll remember more and more, and you’ll soon have a list of small instances that led to your wonderful path you’re on today.

My personal example here is my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Metcalf. She was the first teacher to pull me aside and encourage my writing. When I was first writing back then, I was started my stories off with “Hi. I’m Henry, and this is my story…” and she taught me to start in the middle of action. I wrote her a story for Thanksgiving Break, and it started with a turkey running wild through a grocery store. Looking back on it, it was cheesy and poorly written, but she returned, having read the entire twenty pages, and encouraged me more and more, teaching me what else I could do in order to enhance my words. I was nine at the time, yet her teaching lingers today, and I’m grateful to have had such a wonderful teacher in my life at such a young age.

My hope is that you may take a moment today (or any day) to reflect on the moments that have brought you here today and remember never to give up on your dreams! It may seem cheesy, but it is, ultimately, very true, and I’m sure many of you know this, but many also have fleeting moments of doubt, and we can prevent these by reminding ourselves of what matters: life, love, and passionate dreams.

I always tell myself to write with passion; succeed with self-discipline. 

This is my personal philosophy, but I’d love to hear yours as well. Share below and spread the dream to others who may be struggling at this very moment in time (whether they read this today or two years from now.) Words are timeless. Let’s use that to embrace the love of art.

Have a great and meaningful day :D

~SAT

P.S. Goodreads Quote of the day:

I leaned against the desk, ran my hand over my father’s paperwork, and picked up a pen. Turning around, I shoved it into my father’s hand.
“What’s this?” he asked, raising a brow.
“You’ll need it to sign my death certificate,” I said, pain vibrating my veins against my muscles and bones. “Are we done now?”

Eric, Minutes Before Sunset

Contest Winners and Poetry From My KU Reading

10 May

Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest involving the final decision over the back cover of my young-adult paranormal romance, Minutes Before Sunset! As I’m writing this, we had 68 responses, and I’m really happy, because I love it when my readers can influence the final product. The voting went as follows (we considered the third part a vote on both, because very few seemed to see it, since it wasn’t visibly available):

Longer Description: 11

Shorter Description: 14

(Third received 3 votes)

After speaking with my publisher, since the split was so divided, we decided to go with the medium description with the author reviews, that way we get the best of both worlds :D Here’s the official photo:

The official Minutes Before Sunset cover, back and all, decided from your words!

The official Minutes Before Sunset cover, back and all, decided from your words!

The winners from the raffle are: (Email shannonathompson@aol.com within the week to receive your prize)

Paperback:

L. Marie (El Space)

eBook: 

kayuk (Where Do I Go From Here?)

whiteravensoars (Random Acts of Writing)

Nadeen Chrystal Davis (Nadeen’s Reading Corner)

Charles Yallowitz (Legends of Windemere)

Katsy Faustino (A Daily Dose of Katsy)

Congrats to the winners! But thanks go out to every person that contributed. If you still want a copy, Minutes Before Sunset is already available as an eBook through Amazon and Smashwords (includes Nook, Kindle, and more) along with KoboIt will be specifically available on Barnes & Noble when the paperback is released.

I also wanted to thank follower, Tuan Ho (The Noif Matrix), for posting an interview about my novel, Minutes Before Sunset. I really recommend checking it out, because Tuan Ho influenced the serious with the humorous, and it’s a great read! (It may or may not involved Shania Twain and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.) Click here to read it

And, as an extra, and special thanks, I wanted to post the two poems I read on Wednesday at the University of Kansas. Thank you to the Kansas followers who came out to listen to some talented poets I was blessed to get to know over the semester. (I had 10, so if you want more, I can post them. These are the two I specifically read.)

Terror-rium

We had an aquarium

A river, a lake, a sea.

On our desk—the ocean.

Our exotic fish, fished

from the very river, lake, or

sea which we have now.

On our desk—we provide forage,

food, plants, water, and fish.

The aquarium had us.

We had an insectarium

An arachnid, an insect, a butter

-fly. On our counter—the air.

Our countertop full of flourishing

flowers, fluttering wings of broken

butterflies, falling from feed, because

they drink—and we pluck their

wings, tape them to tapestries to

stare. Say, how pretty they are.

The insectarium had us

We had a terrarium.

A desert, a savannah, a floor of sand.

Our room is lit by a woodland, a

jungle, a place we’ve never been.

African violets decorate our reptiles,

all scales and shells and condensation.

It rains today—the lid which collected

our precipitation. Our pebbled floor,

formed over our marbled kitchen.

The terrarium had us

We had an arium,

and we destroyed it

to keep them on our desks,

nuzzled between family portraits and pens,

to remind ourselves of what

We used to have and

what we’ll never have

again, but at least they are

pretty, and no one needs

National Geographic to stare

anymore. We have our countertops.

In a world where traumas are written all over our bodies

He has a bipolar jaw line and a suicidal knee cap,

collapsing and shaking

and reverberating his thoughts through his PTSD lip.

It quivers, and she looks away with an autistic eyelid.

See her a deaf cheek?

Their blind foreheads fluctuate, and their arthritic fingers vibrate.

Reynard’s Disease. Or Disorder IV. Perhaps,

one we’ve never heard before consumes the heart that’s about to break.

I hope you enjoyed the contest and the poems as much as I did! I am so excited for the future, and I cannot wait for the paperback to be in my hands (and yours!) Time is moving forward so fast, and it’s astoundingly lovely.

As usual, thank you for your encouragement and support. In case you haven’t already seen, the acknowledgements page ends with this comment: “Thanks to the all the passionate writers, readers, and dreamers who follow me at ShannonAThompson.com and inspire me every day to keep writing.” 

That’s for you guys :D Have a great weekend

~SAT

P.S. If you’re looking for something to do, and you enjoy superhero flicks, I definitely recommend the new Iron Man movie! I saw it Tuesday, and it doesn’t disappoint!

Writing Tips: Being an Author: Pros & Cons

18 Jan

Yesterday would’ve been my mother’s 54th birthday if she hadn’t passed away on March 16, 2003.

My mother and I in 1992.

My mother and I in 1992.

Today, I’m dedicating this post to her, because she is the reason I have become so passionate about my writing dream. Her memory has pushed me forward, time and time again, ever since 2003, and my passion is very much driven by my inability to give up (as I want to succeed for myself and her) even when my career was looking nonexistent.

As a writer, you’ll have pros and cons, even after publishing. (In fact, this list will increase.) Some days, one outweighs the other, and that’s perfectly okay—temporarily—but don’t allow one to destroy the other.

So I’m going to share how I manage my pros and cons.

Writer’s Block: It happens. In this case, I truly believe there’s something wrong with your writing piece. It’s a matter of finding it. The best way I’ve solved it is to have conversations with my characters (or even the setting.) Figure out why they’d be unhappy, because your characters are very much your stream of subconscious, so if you’re unwilling—they probably are too.

Finding the Time: YOU CAN. I manage two websites. I’m a full-time college student, and I have family, friends, relationships, life, and my kitten to take care of on a regular basis. However, I still find time to write (a lot) and you can too. It takes sacrifice. You have to be willing to give up that Friday night every once in a while.

Overwhelming Passion: I’ve literally worked so hard on editing, writing, and organizing my vision was blurred. I’ve forgotten to eat, because I was so focused on writing (or too busy managing schoolwork with writing business), so it’s sometimes an art to put necessity before your passion (although you will learn quickly when you can’t see after staring at a computer screen for a week.)

Rejections/Criticism: Love it. I’m serious. There’s a difference between a “hater” and a “critic.” If someone doesn’t like YOU, they probably won’t EVER like your work. Don’t pay them any attention. However, a CRITIC is someone who gives you a fair chance. Even if you don’t like what they have to say, mentally take their side for a moment. Put yourself in their shoes to see if you can understand where they’re coming from. Chances are, you will, and you’ll learn SO much. Don’t feel hurt, because they’re essentially building you up to succeed in a better place.

Writing/Editing: Writing a novel isn’t easy. Writing an intelligible novel isn’t any easier. Writing will take a rigorous amount of passion. If you don’t have that, don’t write, because you’re writing for the wrong reasons. In regards to editing, it’s NECESSARY. End of story. A publisher won’t look at an unedited piece. It’s unprofessional and gives them a heavier workload. Edit to the best of your ability, have friends/family help you, and if you have money, consider hiring an editor.

Money: Not every piece of your writing will get published or make you money (Even if you’re already published.) In fact, you might write a 125,000 word novel, and your publisher doesn’t think there’s an audience. That’s OKAY. Concentrate on what you learned from writing it. Did you realize your characters aren’t differing much? Did your descriptions become more magical? If you can’t figure it out, give it time before returning. You’ll learn what that novel taught you.

Fellow Authors/Fans: This is MY FAVORITE PRO. You will meet so many bright and inspiring writers and readers to push you forward in your dream. The saddest part, for me, is running out of time to speak with all of you individually, but I try very hard (especially by e-mail), and I always will! By publishing, I’ve met authors: Elizabeth C. Bunce, Stephanie Meyer, Jodi Reamer, Greg Kincaid, Rosemary-Clement Moore, T.L. McCown, and more. I couldn’t be more thankful.

Writing Again: Have you ever read a book that was so good you almost couldn’t move on to the next one? This happens to writers too, except with their own work. You’ll get attached to your characters so much that it’ll be hard to let them go (whether you’re moving on to another piece or the next in a series.) Don’t be too hard on yourself. Write a small fun-piece in between. Give yourself a “writer’s vacation.”

If you have any others you’d like me to address, let me know!

~SAT

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