Tag Archives: follow your dreams

Marking Mother’s Day with Bookmarks

11 May

Special thanks goes out to Tony Jaa, actor and martial artist, for quoting my latest novel, Seconds Before Sunrise, on his official Twitter page. Known for Ong-BakFast and Furious 7, and his stunt work in the Mortal Kombat Annihilation, visit Tony Jaa on Twitter and Facebook.

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Check out my latest interview with Confessions of a Book Geek! I explained the specifics of my book covers, and I also invited five of my characters to lunch. It was a great time, so read it by clicking here.

Today is Mother’s Day – and as many of you know, my mother passed away very  suddenly when I was eleven years old. It’s not difficult for me to write about it necessarily, but there is this peculiar heaviness that happens on days like these. I say “peculiar” because it shifts every year. Sometimes, it is crushing, and other times, it is a wave, but it’s always sad. So I find myself doing what I do every year – and that is to find a way to celebrate her life and her love. And I did.

Bookmarks. 

She was the definition of an avid reader. In fact, when she passed, we donated most of her novels to a half-price bookstore, and they joked that an entire library – not a family – was donating. My mother was a library. We had these beautiful, tall oak bookshelves, and she layered the shelves with enormous collections of trinkets. (Hence why I always talk about trinkets.) But she also kept bookmarks, and I reflected on that today – thinking of what bookmarks have meant to me.

A Bookmark is a Memory:

asleep“This is where i fell asleep” is my oldest bookmark. It was my favorite when I was a kid. I believe I read all of the Dear America books and the Magic Tree House series with this bookmark slid in the pages. I even remember getting it at a book fair. (I think they were cheaper because of the grammatical error, but I’m not sure? I think the i” was definitely on purpose and probably didn’t go over well with parents.) ANYWAY – I loved animals, so this was perfect for me. It used to even have a little puppy attached to the top, but that didn’t last for very long [obviously]. I don’t use it anymore, but it sits on my shelf of accomplishments. (Yes, I have something as egotistical as a shelf of accomplishments ::sigh:: It’s how I stay motivated.) But this bookmark reminds me of childhood and how I lost myself and found myself in novels, whether it was my first You Choose the Story Scooby Doo books, Goosebumps, or The Journal of Scott Pendalton Collins: A World War 2 Soldier. (My favorite Dear America book.) This bookmark is a memory because this bookmark represents my childhood love for novels that continued into my adult life.

A Bookmark is a Friend

badass“i may appear harmless…but inside i’m completely badass” This is my current bookmark, and I love it so much. (And I also just realized the I have a thing for “i” being lowercased.) This bookmark was a gift I received from a wonderfully talented painter, and it brings a smile to my face anytime I open a book and read the words. Just as a friend does, it makes me laugh, smile, and enjoy the time ahead (in this case, a novel.) Also, who couldn’t love the phrase? If you still need coaxing, it’s a magnetic bookmark – so it never falls out. This is good for clumsy readers such as myself. And – once again – like a friend, it is prepared more than I am. It knows I’m clumsy, even before I remember I am. The fact that it is also a gift reminds me of how much a gift can warm a heart up, no matter how small it is. This bookmark is a friend because this bookmark reminds me of laughter and staying true to myself.

A Bookmark is a Lifetime

mom“A hundred years from now, the world may be different because I was important in the life of my child” This bookmark is the most important bookmark that I own. It was my mother’s, and she was actually using it when she died. I keep it in a memory box to keep it safe, but this bookmark reminds me of how much she loved her family and how much she believed in all of our futures. On the most difficult days – like Mother’s  Day – it shows me how she would still be encouraging me if she were still alive, and in a way, she does encourage me by leaving behind a bookmark like this one. I may not be able to live up to the bookmark. I may not be able to change the world in 100 years. But I can at least try to change the world around me by encouraging and helping others to follow their dreams just as my mother encouraged me to follow my dreams.

Bookmarks don’t only mark a stopping place in a novel. They can symbolize parts of life and remind us of all the strength and passion we have to live for.  For me, they mark places in my heart , but they also remind me of where I left off so I can begin again.

~SAT

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

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