Tag Archives: how to write

Guest post: What if I Can’t Write What I Know? by Susannah Ailene Martin

21 Apr

Shannon, here, with two announcements and an introduction before the lovely Susannah Ailene Martin takes over.

Return Novel reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, book 1 of The Timely Death Trilogy, stating, “Who will stay up after dark? Readers who value solid character development and realistic motivations in their supernatural romance series.” Read the full thing here or check out the novel by clicking here.

If you want to see what readers think of the sequel, you’re in luck. Endless Reading reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise, book 2 of the The Timely Death Trilogy this week. She stated, “Thompson did an awesome job of creating scenes that left the reader breathless and heart pounding as though they were at the forefront and head of battle.” Click here to read the entire review or click here to go to Amazon.

Susannah Ailene Martin is writing for ShannonAThompson.com today, and her post is below, but here is an excerpt from her “About Me” page, so you can get to know this writer a little bit first: “I am mostly interested in creating fiction novels in the long run, but you will more than likely not see any fiction in this blog. My writing covers a wide range of genres, but usually I stick to Sci-fi and fantasy. I’m a big fan of “fractured fairy tales” and Greek Mythology.”

Now, for Susannah Ailene Martin. Check out her website by clicking here

sus

What if I Can’t Write What I Know? by Susannah Ailene Martin

One of the most often repeated pieces of advice for writers is, “Write what you know.” Okay, that’s great… if I’m writing about a white, middle class, homeschooled girl who’s never had a boyfriend. The problem with writing what you know is that, unless you’re writing your own autobiography, it’s not always possible. In fact, most of the time, it’s not possible. The path of the writer, especially the fiction writer, is to write what you don’t know.

So how do you do that? Here are four tips to help you write what you don’t know.

1. Read.

What if you’ve never been to the African Savannah, but you want to write a book on the life of meerkats? No problem. The first thing you’re going to have to do is hit the books. Read a book that tells you all about meerkats, and then read five more. This tip also pertains to writing in different genres. If you’ve never read a fantasy book, you’re going to have a hard time writing one. For the writer, reading is not only fun; it can be helpful for you as well. Through reading, you can immerse yourself in a whole different world. That way, you can learn to write about something that you have never experienced.

By the way, this tip isn’t exclusive to books. Looking on the internet for articles on subjects for your writing is a good idea too.

2. Watch.

Some people are more visual than others. If you’re one of those people, you have to see it before you can write it. We can’t go back in time and watch a battle during World War II (and most of us wouldn’t want to), but we can watch a movie or documentary that shows what happened during one of those battles. When I was writing my first book, I needed to write a kissing scene between two characters and I don’t have much experience (I’m homeschooled. Shut up). To remedy this, I went to YouTube and searched for kissing scenes.

This advice doesn’t just apply to watching movies and videos. One of the greatest tools in the writer’s tool box is people watching. Yes, it can get a little uncomfortable, and doing this might cause people to stare at you, but sometimes there’s no better option than going to the mall and watching people from the food court. Just don’t follow anyone around. That’s creepy.

3. Do.

Obviously, there are things you just can’t do, but in some cases, when you need to write a certain scene, going out and doing the thing in the scene can help you get a feel for what it’s like. If you’re writing a scene where your characters are in the woods, go camping. If your characters are trying to hail a cab in New York City, go do it. Admittedly, this tip can be a bit cost prohibitive.

You don’t necessarily need to do exactly the thing you’re writing about. Going back to my previous example of a battle in World War II, if you go out and play paint ball or laser tag, you can start to understand what it might feel like to be fighting in close quarters.

4. Ask

If you’ve never been skydiving, but you’ve have a friend who has, ask them about it. Don’t be afraid to dig in deep. Remember that whenever you ask someone about their experience, you want to try and make sure that the experience is recent. After a while, people tend to forget important little details, and that could get you in trouble with readers who are experienced in what you’re writing about.

Those are my four tips for writing what you don’t know. Whenever you’re using these tips, remember to keep a notebook and writing utensil handy. Doing these things won’t be very helpful if you forget what you’ve learned.

What about you? Do you have any tips of your own for writing what you don’t know?

New Page: Tips

10 Sep

If you follow my Author Facebook Page, then you already know I’ve been spending the day updating ShannonAThompson.com. I’m excited, because I’ve been talking about this update for a while, but I finally found some spare time (even thought it’s because I’m sick and sitting around in bed.) But I’ve added the “Tips” page. And, yes, it’s already up on the bar.

So what is the “Tips” page?

It is a collection of all the writing, editing, and publishing tips I’ve ever posted about. It also includes helpful websites and inspirational ideas at the bottom. From now on, I’ll be adding each of my posts to this list, so you can easily return to it in the future.

Check it out, and let me know if you’d like to see it set up different or anything else added! I’m always up for suggestions, and I look forward to continue on with more writing tips.

But, just for fun, the Minutes Before Sunset Facebook Page has a new cover photo:

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~SAT

Website Wonders

30 Jul

Website Update: Minutes Before Sunset hit 100 adds on Goodreads with a 4.7 star rating! 

So I want to share more websites I’ve come across for writing and/or writing tips. But I’m really interested if any of you have done any from the first list. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how to reblog, so I’m clarifying this part is NOT me. I’m simply curious to see how others feel about this list, because I found it to be very unique in terms of writing tips. Granted, I’m only putting the tips down–not the explanation, so you should probably go to the article :D

This is from VictoriaMixon.com (and here is the link to the article)

10 Things To Do To Become a Better Writer in 10 Days:

1. Spend one day being a troll.

2. Spend one whole day being silent.

3. Spend one day as a student of reality.

4. Spend one day with the lyrics of your favorite songs.

5. Spend one day writing and re-writing a single scene.

6. Spend one day on research.

7. Spend one day watching children.

8. Spend one day crying.

9. Spend one day laughing at things nobody thinks are funny but you.

10. Spend one whole day being grateful.

Shannon again. Whether or not you’ve read the article, what did you think of these tips? 

Personally, I really liked numbers 3, 6, and 7. I liked 3 and 6, because I think research is really important, but it can also be fun, and I think a lot of people forget that it can be fun. (That’s why I try to share websites like the websites on my post Writing Tips: Setting: Picking a Location.) I think 7 is great, because children can teach everyone a lot. Sometimes, as adults, we think too hard about things. I, personally, love learning when I’m around kids, because they remind me of the obvious–something that can truly morph writing, especially when writing about younger people.

But number 10 is perhaps the most important. Be grateful. I like that, and I value it.

So I wanted to thank everyone with a little piece of comedy from Rebecca Johnson (@johnsonr)

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One last thing!

Today is my last post during July! So I wanted to take another moment to thank everyone for this wonderful month of sales and ratings of Minutes Before Sunset during the time it will always be Goodreads Book of the Month

Thank you :D

I’m still giving away free copies in exchange for review, and I’m doing interviews as well–so feel free to email shannonathompson@aol.com at any time, and I’ll get right back to you!

Seconds Before Sunrise is still on the way, and the future seems…well…seconds away! I cannot wait for it, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the writing tips.

Have a great week,

~SAT

Writing Tips: Picture Book

16 May

Many writers use pictures as inspiration and/or reminders as they write their novels, but what pictures should writers try to find?

Since I’ve come across many who use pictures, I thought I’d expand by showing many different kinds of pictures artists can use throughout the writing process. I’m even going to use my personal picture book that I began in 2007 when I originally wrote Minutes Before Sunset. So you’ll not only get ideas, but you’ll also see an extra from behind-the-scenes of my recently published novel! (Which, by the way, is now available directly on AmazonBarnes & Noble, SmashwordsDiesel, Sony, and Apple.)

The original Minutes Before Sunset picture book, 2007

The original Minutes Before Sunset picture book, 2007

When I was creating Minutes Before Sunset, as many of you know, I already had a novel published. I also had two others written. As much I can keep my characters straight, I often need to go back, because of the abundance of information. I find this completely normal, and pictures can help more than you think! On top of that, it’s actually quite fun to create a picture book.

As you might notice, my book is titled “Characters,” but it contains much more than just people. At first, I thought I’d only need people, but then I realized that I could also use pictures representing scenes, objects, and more. Before I start, however, I’d recommend using Stumbleupon, Pinterest, and model websites to find the perfect picture (or as close as you can get) to certainties within your novel. These websites are also good just to find inspiration. Maybe you have character you aren’t sure of. On a lot of model websites, you can literally type in a description to find portfolios of genders, ethnicities, and even height or weight. Granted, models are models, so the pictures of characters may be much more perfect than they actually are in the novel. Simply keep in mind that you’re using these pictures as a map, not a definite rule. And here are my three types of pictures:

Characters: 

This example page includes Mindy and Noah (originally named "Colton")

This example page includes Mindy and Noah (originally named “Colton”)

This is one of my many character pages. I show this one first, because characters are often the most important to start with when making a picture book, mainly because a lot of novels revolve around the characters more than the scene. However, this can be very different, and it depends on your writing style.

I normally have a page or more per character (for clothes, hair, eyes, etc.) But I included this simplistic version, because it’s two side characters. Mindy is Eric’s stepmother; Colton is Eric’s stepbrother. Fun fact: his name was changed to Noah during the publication process.

However, in terms of character, you can add much more information on these pages than just pasting pictures into a notebook. (In fact, I keep a character list on my computer on top of these notebooks.) But I add basic information next to their pictures. As an example:

MINDY: married to Jim Welborn 2 years, curly red hair in her face, cheerful, brown eyes, comes across as perfect housewife, oblivious.

COLTON: Mindy’s ten-year-old, annoying, pries, brown hair with pudgy face, brown eyes.

In this case, for instance, Mindy’s picture is of a very young woman compared to her age in the book, but I used it, because it had the type of hair, skin, smile, and eyes that I wanted. Those were the most important features, for me, to find.

Objects: 

An example of an object's page.

An example of an object’s page.

This is an example of an object’s page from my picture book. When I was younger, I didn’t expect this to be too important, but it is, because there are so many scenes where these things can become symbolic and/or useful. For instance, throughout Minutes Before Sunset, Eric wears a vital necklace to the plot. I have pictures of it, but the words had a lot of spoilers, so I’m adding this one of dresses instead. Objects can includes clothes, furniture, cars, and possessions like phones or gifts like flowers. I’d recommend not stressing too much about objects unless they are very important, but, at the same time, keeping repetitive information straight. This example is a dress that my character, Crystal Hutchins, wears towards the end of the novel:

DRESSES: silver party dress, seen as rebelling against the fancy aspect of prom, but it really flatters her. Hair will be down, for once, very girly for Crystal.

An interesting fact to keep in mind is this is simply the dress, not how she looks in it or what it would look like in the light of a dim dance floor. As great as these pictures can be, they can get confusing if you don’t keep these scene aspects in mind. That’s why I added another category.

Scenes:

This is an example of scenes given through pictures.

This is an example of scenes given through pictures.

This is an example of my last category. (Thanks for sticking with me through this long post!) I struggled with adding scenes into my picture book, mainly because I believed I couldn’t find the perfect pictures (or even something close) that I needed to make notes. But I was wrong.

I found a lot of pictures, and I kept most of them. The only thing I’d recommend is keeping in mind, much like the characters and objects, that these are maps, not definite rules. In this case, the first photo is a railing at night, and that’s accurate, but the second photo is simply a tree in snow, and it isn’t the correct tree. It’s only a photo I can use for inspiration during a snowy scene I write later in the series. Here’s the example:

SCENES: First, railing by river where Eric (Shoman) first meets nameless shade. Second, lamppost and road used mainly in second book.

I hope this picture book with the examples helps inspire you to try out a picture collection for your novels, while also having fun exploring the internet for inspiration! 

Goodreads quote of the day: “Fate was a reality, but it wasn’t a beautiful or angelic thing. It was a heart-wrenching nightmare. And we’d fallen blindly into it. We had no escape. It was happening, and it was up to me to guarantee our survival of it. (Eric)” ― Shannon A. ThompsonMinutes Before Sunset

~SAT

Writing Tips: Naming Your Characters

29 Apr

2 days until the Minutes Before Sunset release! I’m feeling pretty supercalifragilisticexpialidocious about it all :D [And definitely not sleeping due to excitement] And I have one more announcement!

Minutes Before Sunset will be available as an e-book through Barnes & Noble and Amazon for $6.99 on May 1st! Please help spread the word :] The first day of sales is often the most important, and I really appreciate everyone who’s helped (and encouraged) me on here, Facebook, and Twitter. 

I’ve also received an author review for Minutes Before Sunset: “An exciting mixture of paranormal, romance, and page-turning action. Can’t wait to see book 2.” – Raymond Vogel, author of Matter of Resistance, a YA Science Fiction novel.

And the first chapter was published in The Corner Club Press yesterday! You can open an online version of it by clicking here. And congrats to the founder, Amber Forbes, who has signed her novel, “When Stars Die.” (I’ll be doing a piece on her soon, so look out for this emerging young author!)

But onto the writing tips !

Characters names are really important, and choosing them can take hours if you’re not sure why you can’t pick one out. So I’ve made a list of things to consider when naming your characters, along with websites to look things up in.

1. Time & Culture

This is the basic rule: Is it believable that your character’s parents would name them something within the setting’s restrictions? Of course, there are exceptions (especially within nicknames, which is another thing completely.) But consider the year. 1880 is going to be VERY different from 2030. If you want, you can actually look up popular names through the years at SSA, [Social Security Association.]

This is what my life has been like the past few weeks. Never ending. But minus the summer. [No complaints] I love being able to do what I love every day.

This is what my life has been like the past few weeks. Never ending. But minus the summer. [No complaints] I love being able to do what I love every day.

2. Unique and Memorable

You don’t want repetitive names or sounds. Of course everyone knows not to use names already used in very famous novels, but what about within your own book? You probably don’t want to name everyone with a “J” name. It’d be hard to follow Jack, John, Jared, and Jill around. Or even if all the names are very strange. I’d also consider the rhythm of couples (or protagonists in general.) Try to make them sound good together. The exception happens within relationships. If you have two brothers, having their names be similar is easier for the reader to follow.

3. Mixing Names (Sci-Fi)

I really believe science-fiction needs to have interesting names (along with most genres), but names that the eyes won’t struggle with. Unique names need to be considered very carefully, because you don’t want a reader unable to converse about your novel because they can’t say what they read.

As a personal example, Minutes Before Sunset is a paranormal romance. My characters have two names, one when they’re humans, one when they’re in their shade form. So their human names are very simple, while their shade names are more complicated and/or exotic. That way, it’s easily distinguishable:

Eric Welborn – Shoman

Jonathon Stone – Pierce

James Welborn – Bracke

George Stone – Urte

4. Names and Last Names

Remember most parents use iambic pentameter for names. The rhythm should work. On top of that, you can consider naming a character after another character. (A son may be named after his father or grandfather.) An example: In Minutes Before Sunset, Eric’s middle name is his father’s first name.

I also considered their last names very carefully. My protagonist, Eric Welborn, is born into a prophecy he cannot understand nor agree with, yet his last name insinuates he is “well born.” That is how it was created. (And it’s a real last name!) Jonathon Stone is Eric’s best friend. His last name is Stone, because he changes personalities the most when he transitions from human to shade. Stone, again, is used more for irony or, perhaps, a reality they have yet to see.

5. Where you can find them

There are many places you can go to inspire names.

  • Pick up an old yearbook. You’ll be surprised how many different first and last names (along with rhythms) you can find. However, I suggest not using a person’s exact name, but rather use it as a reference. Maybe a first or a last.
  • Babynames.com provides thousands of names within cultures, meanings, genders, and more. You can even save your favorite names as you skip around. (Although don’t be surprised if people ask you why you’re looking up baby names in public. ha.)
  •  Last Name Meanings provides a list of last names and where they derived from, along with the meaning behind them.

A mixture of all these things creates a list of believable characters, and I really hope you’ll enjoy playing around with names more than before! Join me on Facebook and ask questions anytime you want!

~SAT

May 1: Minutes Before Sunset Release Party! (a.k.a Dancing around with Bogart)

Writing Tips: Make Maps (Interior)

2 Apr

Website Update: April 3rd: I switched some posts around; sorry for the inconvenience if you were waiting for the publishing tips on April 4th. It will now be on April 6th.

So this is my 100th post, and there’s 29 days until the Minutes Before Sunset release. (Obviously, numbers excite me.) And I’m celebrating by posting two writing tips in a row :] Hope you enjoy!

Click here to join my Facebook Author Page! Your support brightens my day every day.

Click here to join my Facebook Author Page! Your support brightens my day every day.

The believability of your novel is going to reside on many factors: characters, plot, language, etc. But these are the obvious reasons, and many writers forget that the smallest details can also make or break your credibility. I’ve talked about this before in Writing Tips: Keeping Track of Time on March 11th. I described the importance of tracking every minute, day, month, and even moon cycles of your novel, and now I wanted to discuss the physical world you also need to track.

When I write a story, I always draw maps–both of the exterior and interior of places within the story. I even draw a much larger map, showing how the story moves. But that’s for another post. Today, I’m strictly clarifying the importance of a floor plan. Where’s the living room, kitchen, and bedroom? How are these places laid out? Where do your characters stand? What would they be near? These questions are important, because you can easily contradict yourself from scene to scene.

For example: In chapter one, you may describe Person A walking through the living room to get to the kitchen. THEN–ten chapters later–you write about Person A (or someone completely different) coming out of the kitchen into a hallway that leads to the front door next to the living room.

These little mistakes, even if the reader isn’t consciously aware of it, can upset the flow and take them out of the story. In other words, they may feel as if something isn’t quite right.

We can avoid this with detailed maps. (Even if you base your places on real-life, because you’re bound to change something.)

I really recommend drawing the map before you write a significant amount of your story. In my opinion, you can wait until that room appears in the book, describe it naturally, but then take note on EVERYTHING you said. That way, when you come back to the scene, everything is in place.

Another way to record it, however, is to physical draw or use realtor websites that allow you to create a room digitally.

I really like RoomSketcher, because you can morph the walls, stack floors, and even add furniture. I wasn’t able to use this while making November Snow in 2007, but I did make two with this website for an example:

NFlock

Northern Flock Home

The first drawing is of the first floor of the Northern Flock’s home. If you’ve read November Snow, you know many of the scenes take place here, so making sure my characters’ movements were flawless was very important. On the left, you’ll even see the lamp by the stairs, because it (and I don’t want to spoil anything) becomes very important at some point in the novel. This is just another reason to guarantee that I knew where it was. Other furniture that I used was a couch, desk, T.V., dining room table, and everything in the kitchen–the fridge, oven, and sink. The doorways are also very important, because it shows how the characters could leave and enter while also reminding me what would be in front, behind, to the right, and left of them as they did so.

As a comparison, I also created Calhoun’s house.

Calhoun's house

Calhoun’s house

I did this to show how RoomSketcher can allow you to create your own floor with walls, carpet, windows, and stairways. It’s very easy to use, and there’s even different kinds of furniture you can choose from. (Notice Daniel’s room–the blue one–has a different colored bed than Calhoun’s.)

I’ve had these maps drawn since I began writing, and it allowed me to be confident that my book could correlate with such pictures. I have no doubts that, if you read November Snow today, you could follow my maps along with the characters.

I have to admit that some rooms, homes, or even streets are very clear to me, and I very rarely have to go back to my notes. However, when writing the smaller scenes, the ones that I probably do struggle with, I often go back during revisions and use a pencil to trace the movements. This may seem tedious, but I feel as if it is necessary, and I have found mistakes before.

Plus, it’s fun to take a break from writing and editing to create something else. And you can share it as an extra with your readers & fans! I know I’ll keep spending more time on this website. I love how easy it is to manipulate the walls, the furniture, and recreate something without losing what I’ve already made. (I’m a pen addict, so that’s really hard to do when I draw on paper.)

I suggest you guys try it out too! And if you don’t like RoomSketcher, I remain loyal to the dedication of drawing a physical map. In the future, I will expand on how to draw an exterior map and/or trace the movements of characters in specific scenes along with overtime in general.

Good luck & have fun! (I also have Interior Maps for “Minutes Before Sunset” coming April 4.

~SAT

UPDATED: April 4: Movie Mention: The Host

April 6: Publishing Tips: Introduce Extras.  

Writing Tips: Different Perspectives

31 Mar

On March 17th post: News: Submissions Closing and Minutes Before Sunset Info one of my followers, rolark, asked “I’m trying out writing from more than one perspective right now (it’s my first time!), and was wondering if you had any advice?”

And I do!

As many of you know, November Snow is told from two perspectives (Daniel and Serena) while my upcoming paranormal-romance novel, Minutes Before Sunset will also be told this way (by Eric and Jessica.) I love using this technique for novel writing, because I enjoy first person, but I dislike how it restricts the storytelling to one character during particular scenes that may be told better by another.

So I use first person by two people—generally one male and one female. Why? Because I generally have a romance aspect to my stories, but I also think men and women can bring different viewpoints to the table. (But so can every character–this is a personal preference of mine.)

One of the coolest part of writing is when one of your fans creates something for you. This is fan art from a novel of mine on my previous Wattpad account. Sophia and Noah, my male and female protagonists.

I love it when fans creates something from my writings. This is fan art from a novel of mine on my previous Wattpad account. Sophia and Noah, my male and female protagonists.

Personally, this is what I do (although 3 comes first, but it’s the longest part), and I’ll be using November Snow as an example:

1. Consider Syntax.

Change it up. One character’s thoughts may drag on, so the sentences are longer or dragged out, while another may make lists or sporadic lengths of thoughts. Consider using italics, colons, and/or dashes for one character.

Ex/ Daniel is often exhausted, so I used shorter sentences to depict his energy state. Serena’s sentences are longer. This allows the voices to seem different in the basic way they think.

2. Pay Attention to Diction. 

One character may use very flowery language, while another may have less of a need to elaborate.

Ex/ Daniel is very patient, but also anxious (especially when walking around Vendona, considering the government is after his kind.) So I always have his eyes darting around. He’s constantly surveying his surroundings, paying attention to the little details, and often loses his thoughts to the physical world. His language, therefore, does the same thing.

Serena is rebellious. She’s tired of conforming to the rules and hiding, so she’s often taking risks she shouldn’t be taking. Because of this, I don’t pay attention to as many details when I wrote from her perspective. She no longer cares. Instead, she’s focused on changing, so I show more details about relationships, people, and the future within her language.

3. Now Perspective. 

Now, I’m about to use a gender stereotype to explain where I’m coming from, but it’s for an example. You’re welcome to swap them around for different effects.

Men may pay attention more to physical action than detail, while women may focus on the little details. For instance, a man may describe someone running, while a woman may mention the fact that the runner was in jeans. These little switches in descriptions between your perspectives will help create a realistic viewpoint in the sense that it’s subconsciously differing from one person to the other. The character doesn’t even consider it; it’s simply a part of how they look at the world.

One of my favorite exercises:

Write a chapter in which the two characters are talking. Let’s say this chapter is written from Daniel’s. Afterwards, whether I decide to use it or not, I’ll write it from Serena’s. Make sure the dialogue and the physical actions are the exact same, but compare the thought process. How did the scene change? What does this change mean?

As an example, two people can be talking and Person A could notice Person B is fidgeting. Person A may assume Person B is nervous, but, when you tell it from Person B’s perspective, you learn that they are distracted, not nervous. These little bits can truly morph the way characters interact. I always encourage this exercise, even if the writer isn’t planning on telling from another’s perspective.

This always helps me understand the consciousness of the characters, and I feel more confident when I move onto a new scene.

You can always post questions for quick answers on my Facebook Author Page! Joining also helps me out, and I really appreciate the support :]

You can always post questions for quick answers on my Facebook Author Page! Joining also helps me out, and I really appreciate the support :]

My hope is that this may help rolark and other writers who want to play with this technique, but I also want to encourage others to ask questions.

I will always do my best to answer! (And you will get credit for asking the question.)

Have a great day,

~SAT

April 2nd: Writing Tips: Make Maps (Interior) 

Relax & Read: How to Write a Sentence

19 Mar

As told in my Back to School post, my NonFiction Writing I class assigned Stanley Fish’s How-To book, How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One. We just wrapped up this short (only 160 pages) book, and, although my class had some complaints about simplicity, I really enjoyed it.

From the beginning, Fish describes the sentence as a medium (like paint to the artist) and how writers need to love the sentence before they can master the sentence. When he states, “I belong to the tribe of sentences watchers” I fell in love. I thought his honesty was relatable, and his task was courageous. As many writers like to believe they understand everything there is to writing, especially after practicing for years, no one does, and I think Fish acknowledges this very respectively. He doesn’t act as if he knows everything; instead, he opens up to forms upon forms upon styles that can be reviewed and studied, torn apart and understood.

This was the copy I bought, but it's often red and hardcover now.

This was the copy I bought, but it’s often red and hardcover now.

I really liked this, BECAUSE of his simplicity. I think, at least for me, I often get caught up in the complexity of language (meaning I’ve surpassed the basics, but I sometimes lose myself on complicating things too much.) Like an abstract artist, I may lose concentration on the overall piece, and Fish really grips reality when he discusses the relationships from word to word, sentence to sentence.

“This is what language does: organize the world into manageable, and in some sense artificial, units that can then be inhabited and manipulated.”

I really encourage others (and myself) to often return to the basics, because that is our foundation, and we need a strong foundation if we’re going to keep building up. You cannot neglect the support when it begins to topple. In other words, you cannot forget your basic structures, even if you’re working within complex ones.

On top of that, if you’re looking for some quick writing tips, Fish discusses first and last sentences towards the back of the book, and I think his insights are very useful.

So..if you’re in the bookstore, and you’re looking for a quick read to help improve writing, take a step backwards and relearn where you came from in the first place.

It will surely strike up that passion of our original love for our medium: the sentence,

~SAT

March 21: Publishing News: Synopsis & Cover Date Reveal

Relax & Read: Megan Kaminski

9 Mar

March 10th, 8:45 p.m. Update: Megan Kaminski’s most recent publication, Desiring Map, can be found by clicking here.  tn9781938055010

1 p.m. Update: My Facebook Author Page now has a cover photo. Check it out here

When I decided to attend the University of Kansas, I was really excited to meet inspiring professors and students. I knew I wanted to get my bachelor’s in English, but I was unaware I could have an emphasis on creative writing. Of course, when I learned this, I practically jumped through the ceiling with excitement (seriously—I think I hit my head), and I signed up.

Immediately, I threw myself into a fiction course, because, as many of you know, I write YA sci-fi/fantasy. But—much to my dismay at the time—the University of Kansas requires students to take two different kinds of writing. I was REALLY concerned about this, because I didn’t want to join a writing course I didn’t know anything about. I was afraid it’d affect my GPA, and, considering how much students pay at universities, this was a huge concern. But I had no choice, so I looked at what they had to offer: nonfiction, screenwriting, poetry, and playwriting.

imagesSo what did I take?

I enrolled in Poetry Writing I with Professor Megan Kaminski, and my writing life has never been the same.

She has taught me everything I know about poetry, and she has inspired me to chase knowledge beyond what classroom time allows us to explore. Through this website, I even advocate studying poetry, because the genre has taught me how to truly embrace the lyrical beauty of language in and out of fiction. For me, fiction is where I disappear into fantastical worlds I create, but poetry causes me to embrace the reality of what’s fantastical around me.

I give Kaminski all the credit for revealing this beautiful world to me.

Megan Kaminski has six chapbooks out, and through Dusie Press, you can even read directly from her chapbook, collection. This year, her most recent piece, This Place (Dusie Press, 2013), was published, and it’s available through her publisher and directly from her. She’s even on Goodreads and Directory of Poets & Writers.

Megan Kaminski's chapbook, collection.

Megan Kaminski’s chapbook, collection.

Not only has she accomplished so much, but she has given opportunity to other writers. Through the University of Kansas, Kaminski sponsors The Siren, a national online literary journal for students to share their work. She also leads the Creative Writing Exchange Program and the Undergraduate Reading Series that I got to participate in.

I have the utmost joy being taught by such a talented and inspiring woman. She’s an example of all I hope to be: accomplished while striving to create opportunities for other writers and their futures. 

I really encourage all of you to check her out and learn from her story. Any of the links above will send you to more information.

~SAT

Click here and go straight to her website.

Click here and go straight to her website.

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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