Tag Archives: novel writing

How to Create a YouTube Channel and Video for Free

5 Apr

 First, I want to thank this beautiful couple for sending me this photo of them reading The Timely Death Trilogy together. They even posed as Jessica on the cover of Minutes Before Sunset and Eric on the cover of Seconds Before Sunrise. If you have a photo with any of my novels, please send it to me at shannonathompson@aol.com. It makes my day! (Even if it’s on your Kindle!) I will share it, your review, and your website if you would like.

coupleword

Seconds, The Examiner released 3-minutes book reviews: ‘Seconds Before Sunrise’ explores ‘chaos within destiny’. Lionel Green is a wordsmith, and his review reads beautifully, stating, “Thompson explores the humanity of Eric and Jessica so thoroughly in ‘Seconds Before Sunrise’ that the reader forgets the two teens are actually powerful supernatural beings. Thompson also understands no matter how inevitable destinies, fates and prophecies are, when love is introduced into the equation, chaos often ensues.” Read the entire review here. Spoiler alert.

Michael Noll at Read to Write Stories also released the interview I did with him. If you read his, “How to Write A Love Story” this is a wonderful extension. You can see why I chose Kansas as a setting as well as my advice for networking by clicking here.

I was actually going to post something else today, but I received so many emails from my fellow authors about my YouTube channel that I decided this was the most important topic I could possibly post about. I am here to help, after all, and I love it when I receive questions and suggestions for my blog because this blog is here to help and connect with you!

So, I am going to explain how I created my YouTube channel as well as the video I made. Granted, I am brand new at this, and I still have a lot that I want to improve on, but I can hopefully share some shortcuts, so you don’t have to spend as many hours researching as I did. I will explain iMovie, Photobooth, Pixlr, and many other aspects like creating an outro.

Step One: Creating the YouTube Channel 

I have a Google+, so all I had to do was log on that way and go to YouTube. After that, I went to the top, clicked on my name, and then My Channel. This post is where I started: Channel Art – YouTube: However, don’t download the template. It doesn’t fit. It is designed for T.V. viewing. I would suggest designing your YouTube channel art to fit for YouTube because it will adjust for everything else. Many artists suggest using Gimp, but that requires a download, so I used Pixlr Editor, which is completely free, and it doesn’t requite a download. You can use it to start off as a template, upload a photo, and then click “Edit, free transform” to size whatever picture to the size you need. During design, by aware of your thumbnail and the space on the right where your links will be. Most templates do not mention this, and it can cause you to take up more time because you’ll have to adjust it. As you can see, mine is designed so that you can see my face and links without anything getting blocked out too much. (I am planning on changing it.) Add your links via your Dashboard, because YouTube no longer allows videos to link to any websites outside of YouTube, so this will come in handy during your outro later on, and you cannot change your overall background. That’s no longer allowed in the 2014 version.

channel

Step Two: Creating Your Video 

I did not go out and buy a camera, although I am planning to. I just cannot afford that right now, and I think many can relate to that. So I used Photo Booth via my MacBook Pro. With the right lighting, this works. It isn’t perfect, of course, but it works if you’re on a small budget like I am. Record many versions of your video. Trust me: you want many recordings to work with later during editing.While shooting your movie, I am going to suggest that you include long pauses between sentences or topics, because this will help you when you’re editing. Be sure not to move your camera unless necessary because this will also help. I moved the movies to iMovie, which is also already on my MacBook Pro. I am a bit technologically confused, so I used How to Import Videos from Photo Booth to iMovie to do this. Then, I used How do I edit a video in iMovie to understand the basics. From there, I also knew I wanted a censor for my cursing, so I used this: iMovie censor effect. Once I was done with that, I knew I wanted an outro – like an intro but for the ending of your video. If you watch YouTube videos, then you know what this is. It’s that little box that shows previous films as well as links to other videos. To create this, I used How to Make an Outro. As you know, YouTube no longer allows you to link away from YouTube, so you’re going to be linking back to your channel, which is why you NEED those links to be on your home page. To add annotations I used the same video, How to Make an Outro, because he includes this at the end. Again, he uses GIMP, but you can create your own outro (instead of using a template) with Pixlr Editor.

My outro - without the previous video

My outro – without the previous video

Step Three: Upload Your Video and Share It

Believe it or not, this gets pretty complicated, because the visibility, sound, and everything else can get out of sync with YouTube requirements, so I used this: iMovie to YouTube Tutorial. I also used How to export in iMovie ’11 for uploading to YouTube, because it can matter what version you have, especially since YouTube changes their requirements a lot. Personally, I uploaded it as “Private” so I could add the annotations, and then I released it through “public” later. Be sure to add those SEO terms to your video as well as your channel, and connect it with your other sites, like Google+. This will help.

Now you have your video online. 

I know this was fast and a lot of information, but I hope it’s at least a starting place for your videos and channel.

In other news, thank you for your continuous support. As I said on my Facebook author page the other day, I’ve been struggling a lot due to my release. I have explained this before in One of my “Lows” as an Author. Although releases are always positive and uplifting, they take a tremendous amount of energy out of me, and it’s difficult for me to bounce back. But all of your love and encouragement has been helping me so much! I wish I could express my gratitude through this blog post but I could write about it forever. Instead, I just want to say that I love you all so much, and I am sending each and every one of you a hug through the internet today. Thank you.

~SAT

Amazon

 

Writing Tips: Hobbies & Talents

13 Nov

A writer has many goals when creating a story–one of which is making the characters as believable as possible. The main way to do this is making them relatable. I do not mean to say this in the sense that an author should make a character relatable to everyone in every way. What I mean to say is that an author often forms a believable character by adding qualities real people have; therefore, allowing real people to relate to a character on either a personal or “I know someone like that” level.

There are many ways to do this. Generally focusing on a character’s age, background, attitude, and physical looks come first. But what about digging a little deeper?

This post is about deciding on hobbies and talents–as well as why they are different.

Hobbies:

A hobby is something we do because we like to do it. It could be gardening or cooking or anything really. It generally gives people solace, time to think, and adds joy in their life. Having a character with a hobby can broaden the spectrum of their personality by showing more of what they like and possibly what they want out of life. It can also warp the way they look at the world. For instance, someone who really loves running will look at a hill differently than someone who like flying kites. They see the same hill that can be used in different ways. So knowing a character’s ultimate hobby (or passion) can be a fantastic way to figure out their personality, perspective, and goals.

In Minutes Before Sunset, Eric’s hobby is his love for cars. He loves reading about them, driving his, and hopes to have more in the future (if he can even consider the future.) I learned from this because driving is often a form a freedom, and Eric doesn’t have any. Driving is his only freedom. But I particularly love talking about hobbies because it’s a major theme in Seconds Before Sunrise, particularly with Jessica and Jonathon–also known as Pierce. (I cannot wait for the cover reveal Dec. 1) I love it when my characters discover more parts about themselves, and discovering their hobbies allowed me to learn more about who they are as a person and who they will become as an adult. It also allows them to see it for themselves.

Below is my personal example: I played a lot of sports in school. I played track and basketball in middle school and tennis in high school. I still have my tennis team’s photo, but I wanted to share it because I loved playing tennis. I wasn’t fantastic at it. But I still had a great time playing. It was a hobby rather than a talent, but it still shaped me, and I learned a lot from it:

I’m the glowing one.

I’m the glowing one.

Talents: 

A talent is something we excel in, sometimes with little to nor effort. It could be painting or education or even convincing people to listen to you. Yes, a lot of people’s talents are also their hobbies (or vice versa) but it can be really interesting to see a character who’s very good at something they hate. (Or really bad at something they love.) But I’d like to clarify that there is nothing wrong with someone having a talent and loving it at the same time!

In Minutes Before Sunset, Eric has a knack for lying. Does he like doing this? Not necessarily. Does he use it to his advantage? Absolutely. This “talent” became fun when Jessica decided to have a “talent” for knowing if someone is lying or not.

How to choose what hobby or talent to use:

Well, Discover A Hobby, of course! It’s a website dedicated to opening opportunities for informative learning on all kinds of new hobbies (even ones you might not have known existed.) I think this website is great for helping decide on hobbies as well as talents. Just to name a few on their website:

Soap-Making, Palm-Reading, Tai Chi, Wood-Working, and Novel-Writing. (See? Even us writers made it on there.)

Happy Hobby Hunting!

Do your characters have hobbies and/or talents? Are they generally the same or different? Did you learn anything about your characters when they choose that hobby or talent? 

~SAT

Guest Post: Zach Hitt: My First Time: From Short Story to Novel

25 Oct

An introduction by Shannon: Zach Hitt hosts the blog, sociallydecrepit: the writing of my first few novels, and I definitely recommend checking this insightful writer out. This post is the perfect example as to how he writes about his experiences as a writer, and I’m glad to have him on here!

My First Time: From Short Story to Novel

I ventured into the world of book writing a few years ago. I’ve had short stories, poetry, and journalistic articles published, but like many people, I only daydreamed the image of people waiting in an autograph line outside a bookstore at midnight in the winter for Zach Hitt’s (my) upcoming bestseller.
It was like my first time, if you get my drift. You would think that as a twenty year old college student from Troy, NY, I would have the confidence to move  mountains, but not so. Even before writing the first sentence, I felt the nerves. However, I still broke out the tool of the trade and took a swing for the fences. It started in a clumsy, messy way. No matter how many people I could show, they’d know that I was green. Sure, I’d tried to write long form before, but nothing I could truly call my own.
But with that, I started a blog called Socially Drecrepit, the goal of which was to keep a record of the transition from short story to full length novel. And hey, I figured, a little publicity never killed anyone. In this post, I’m going to attempt to take the lessons I’ve learned and put them in one place.
1. Stop thinking about the future.
I’ve spoken to a lot of writers who talk and talk and talk and talk about their goals for publication. I’m guilty, too. However, if your fantasising about what your cover art is going to look like, if you’re worried about who you’ll hire as a press contact, you’re not spending time actually writing. Courage2Create put it like this: if you’re thinking about the end product, you’re causing yourself writers block.
Let’s take a look at what we should be doing instead…
2. Write a sentence.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: write a sentence. Don’t put too much thought into the chapter, the part, or the book. Whether this is the first sentence in your outline, or your book, it doesn’t matter. Just get something down on paper.
The first sentence I wrote turned into my hook. I decided that I wanted to outline my book before writing it. One of the biggest problems I faced with my story was understanding how to pace, and how to layout the story. So outlining was my answer, but more on that later.
My point is this: the longer you spend working on your writing style, the better things will end up.
3. Find your comfort zone.
We’ve all heard that annoying cliche, “leave your comfort zone.” When I decided to write a book, that was me leaving the comfort zone. But I soon learned the importance of making things as painless as possible. Take it like this: if you’re going to bungee jump, why would you tie barbed wire around yourself if you have a softer option? Make sense?
As such, I learned to create an environment in which world building became easier. Here’s what it includes: my dog, Freedom (she’s a hyperactive Boarder Collie – Lab who REALLY wants to play!), some music (I like Coheed and Cambria and Falling Up more than anything), and a place either at my dining room table or the front steps.
I’ve learned to write in other places, too, like an air port, or a coffee house, or a library, but I still have my preferences. Find yours.
4. Appreciate the good stuff. Appreciate the bad stuff.
Writing is not a simple game of celebration. No one is completely content with what they write, and I’ve learned that it takes a serious amount of time to improve. On the same end, if you’re spending too much time beating yourself up, you’re not going anywhere.
Find a balance. Anytime you write a bad sentence, figure out how to improve it, and don’t think of yourself as a bad writer. Anytime you write a good sentence, pat yourself on the back.
The first time I wrote something “good” in my first manuscript, called The People Hive, it took until Chapter Five, but I was so excited about the paragraph that I called a bunch of friends and then posted it on Socially Decrepit. Seems a bit overboard, right? Maybe. But it was the first time I felt like I made a major breakthrough.
5. Make Regular Use of the “C Word”
Actually, it’s not what you’re thinking. Early on, I began to realize that it helps to have an extra pair of ears on your work. It is important that you have people around that know how to collaborate, criticize, and corroborate.
Collaboration – a person you can throw ideas around with. I’ve found that it helps to speak out loud about ideas. Others can help you flesh out a plan, or figure out where you might like to throw it. The danger is that you work with a person who does not have a personal boundary between your work and theirs.
Critique – a critic is a person who understands how to politely tell you when something could be executed better. The drawback of this is fairly obvious: if you’re in “writing mode,” and someone is editing you, it may cause writers block. Make sure you finish the chapter first.
Corroboration – a person who sits while you read (aloud) your work to them. Their job is to tell you that they understand or do not understand what you’re trying to say, and that it does or does not make sense.
I’ve found that my family is excellent in all three of these roles. We’ve all sat down for coffee and read something I’ve written. In fact, one particular morning, my brother, father, and I went out for coffee in which I was delivered a particularly ego – shattering speech about the anti climatic climax of my book. As difficult as it was, I attribute my pride in the finished product of my first manuscript to that meeting.
6. Read something
When I read, I do it for enjoyment, but also because I know that a more experienced writer has something to teach me. Additionally, I soon learned that the more I read, the more ability i had to write prose. To learn how to write something horrifying, I read king. To learn how to emotionally connect a character to an audience, I enjoy Conroy. If you want to learn about writing about what’s going on, and nothing fancy, read Karouac.
Bottom line: moving from short to long prose will better your writing. However, it will take time. I speant so long shut away that someone commented after a while that I was Socially Decrepit, which is where the name of the blog comes from. With that, I give you my last piece of advice: get outside and see the sun every once in a while.
Thank you for reading, and I wish you the best on all endeavors.
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Writing Tips: Character Chart

31 May

Over the past two days, I’ve had the pleasure of receiving two more reviews of Minutes Before Sunset and one interview about the behind-the-scenes of the work. And I’m here to share it with you all before I begin my “Writing Tips” sessions.

On May 29, Nada Faris, author of Before Young Adult Fiction, Fame in the Adriatic, and ‘Artemis’ and other Moms wrote a five-star review on Goodreads: 

“…This story has twists and turns (even the prophecy changes). It has magical powers, romance, and some funny moments. As a young adult novel, it will satisfy its readers. All in all, the first book in A Timely Death series, was promising. It sets the stage for more conflict. Seconds Before Sunrise, Book 2 of the series, is scheduled for release in fall 2013.”

Read the rest of her review by clicking here.

The five signed copies of Minutes Before Sunset are in the mail for the winners! Congrats!

The five signed copies of Minutes Before Sunset are in the mail for the winners! Congrats!

On May 30, Tina Williams, host of A Reader’s Review, wrote an analysis of my recently released novel while also expanding it with an interview/guest post: (Click the links to read more.) 

Review: “…Minutes Before Sunset is an original and compulsive read. The tale is told in the first person, with chapters told from the perspective of Eric and Jessica. This is effective in terms of both advancing the plot and giving depth to the characters. I particularly enjoyed the maturity and selflessness of the hero and heroine, Eric and Jessica, and found their growing attraction and love for one another both believable and sweet. The novel ends in such a way that I am chomping at the bit to read the next installment. Minutes Before Sunset is a magical, if slightly dark tale, containing romance and adventure, which explores fate and free will and self-sacrifice. I recommend it to readers of both adult and young adult paranormal romance.”

Interview: “As a much younger child, I often suffered from nightmares and night terrors (I honestly couldn’t differentiate between reality and dreams) so my mother had me turn them into stories in order to cope. My latest young-adult paranormal romance, Minutes Before Sunset, is actually a result of the same thing, but it was a different series of dreams. I was in a very dark time in my life, and I had dreams of a boy visiting me at night—just to talk. He’d ask me about how I was feeling, what I was going to do next, and what my hopes were for the future. When I got through that dark time, the dreams were quite literally ripped away from my conscious, and I was distraught. Despite my happiness, I still wanted him as if he was a real person, so I created a story explaining his visits. And Minutes Before Sunset was born.”

Special thanks to both of these talented and lovely ladies. I am proud and grateful to have such great supporters like you all. 

In case anyone is curious, Minutes Before Sunset is available as a paperback on Barnes & Noble and Amazon as a preorder. It will be shipped to you on June 14, 2013. Click the links to be directed to the website. (And don’t forget to let me know if you review it! I will put your blog right here.)

Now. ::takes deep breath:: The writing tips! 

I’m a big fan of graphs and charts. Seriously. I graph everything. (I’m sure I’ll do more posts on this later–you will not believe the things I can find ways to graph.) But why do I like to graph and chart?

Whether or not I expect it, graphs and charts show something–a pattern or lack thereof–and I think this visual information can help more than a writer (or reader) might originally think. So I came across one the other day called The Character Chart, and I wanted to share it with you all. I would take a screen shot and post it, but the website asks users to “link only” and use only for personal use, and I want to respect that. 

However, I will say that it is a great chart. It’s basically a questionnaire for you to print out and get in-depth with your characters about who they are, what drives them, and who they will become. I particularly like this one because of the detail involved (like self-perception compared to reality.) This is not to say that all of these details are completely necessary to know, but I do say this: this list will challenge you, no matter how well you know a character (especially minor ones), and you might learn something about your character you haven’t expected. I think this list is great for those who are also looking to bring depth to their character (or even to create an entirely new person!)

I’ll definitely be returning to it. Again, I’d share more about it, (I’d even share my answers for Eric or Jessica in Minutes Before Sunset) but I want to respect his copyright properly, so all I can really say is check it out :] And let me know if you’d like to see more interactive websites like this. I’ll be sure to share them as they come.

~SAT

P.S I hope everyone is enjoying the arrival of summer. I sure am! And I wanted to share a piece of my lake fun with everyone: Have a great (and sunny) day!

I'm on a boat...wait...a raft.

I’m on a boat…wait…a raft.

Writing Tips: Setting: Picking a Location

23 May

Before I begin today’s post topic, I have two things to address: 

First: Special thanks to Nicole Lee at “Ennlee’s Reading Corner” for reviewing Minutes Before Sunset:  “…The book alternates between the point of view of each of the main characters without a set pattern, and Ms. Thompson should be commended for her ability to create two characters that are similar enough to keep these sections from being disjointed, but different enough that the reader can tell in an instant who is speaking…”

Click here to read the rest.

As of now, Minutes Before Sunset is rated 4.5 stars on Amazon, 4 stars on Barnes & Noble, and 4.7 stars on Goodreads. Thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed! An author always appreciates the dedicated and honest support. 

This picture means a lot to me. These are two great friends of mine that I met at the University of Kansas, William and Brooke Jones, and you might notice what William is holding: my first novel, November Snow. Support (and friendship) like this is priceless.

This picture means a lot to me. These are two great friends of mine that I met at the University of Kansas, William and Brooke Jones, and you might notice what William is holding: my first novel, November Snow. Support (and friendship) like this is priceless.

Second: As many of you know, I held another contest where the winners receive a free account at Happify, a website dedicated to bringing happiness to social media within a great community of encouraging peers. The winners are:

whiteravensoars: Random Acts of Writing (invitation sent)

Ky Grabowski: Welcome to the inner workings of my mind (invitation sent)

willowysp: Freefall (I need an email)

Nicole Lee: Ennlee’s Reading Corner (invitation sent)

Amber Skye Forbes: Writing Words with the Tips of my Toes (invitation sent)

Based on status, you’ll receive a confirmation. (If you don’t fell comfortable sharing your email on my comments, please send an email to ShannonAThompson@aol.com identifying yourself, so I can send the invite) Follow me here, so I can find you, and I’ll  be sure to follow back!

Now, onto today’s post:

I wanted to discuss “setting” in a novel, but I specifically wanted to share websites where you can find more information on your place (or perhaps browse the world for inspiration, even if your setting is in another world entirely.)

I think your background is a great place to start. Everyone has heard “write what you know,” and there is truth in it. Placing your novel in a place your extremely familiar with is the easiest route (not necessarily the right route), and this can make descriptions easier. For instance, Minutes Before Sunset takes place in Hayworth, Kansas. This is not a real town. It’s actually a play on Hays and Ellsworth, both towns in Kansas. I haven’t lived in these locations, but I have been to them, and I currently live in Kansas, so I am very familiar with the culture, layout, and how the weather works. Plus, I wanted an ironic name. Since the novel is about a dark fate, it only seemed appropriate (and humorous) to have a name that suggested the town was worthy.

In regards to familiarity, another thing to think about is your basic settings. By this, I am referencing your rooms. I’ve discussed interior maps before, and every house in Minutes Before Sunset is based off of a real house I’ve lived in (aside from Eric’s. That’s my dream home.) And the maps are available on the Minutes Before Sunset extra’s page.

Back to location:

If you’re looking for a place you’re not entirely familiar with, I wanted to give a great website out there for beginning, especially if you’re not positive on what you’re looking for.

Earth Album Alpha: This is a slick flicker collection of photos, virtually capable in regards to clicking anywhere on the map just to see an arrangement of pictures from the specific country. This can be very broad, but it can also help narrow down what you’re looking for. As an example, the picture below is of Serbia. (I clicked randomly.) You’ll see a collection of tiny pictures at the top, which you can enlarge, that will show the region. In particular, this country has a lot of beautiful fields, so you may not be interested in Serbia, but you might realize you want an open space, and you can go from there.

Earth Album Alpha

Earth Album Alpha

Do you like these tips? Join my Facebook page for more!

Do you like these tips? Join my Facebook page for more!

Weather Base: This website helps summarize what happens in regards to weather in the average year based on the location you choose. This is actually a traveling website, meant for tourists to figure out ideal weather to travel in, but you can learn whatever you want all over the world. I really recommend checking these things, because fallacies can happen in location, if you’re not familiar with how citizens live beneath the weather clouds. A good example of this is the famous young-adult novel, Twilight. Although Meyer set it in a rain-prone state, the amount of rain she used was very unrealistic to the location. In an interview, she even admitted that she visited for weeks without rain and was quite disappointed with her lack of research. However, she was delighted to bring tourism to the city that wasn’t known before. So there are pros and cons to everything.

American Culture: If you want to stay in the states, this blog is full of information about history, culture, language, education, and more. It even includes family arrangements, death rituals, and relationships to other countries where these things may have taken place originally. This won’t only help your setting; it can help your characters round out as they’ll have a family background stabilized within reality. For instance, it may remind you of the variation in language used across certain areas. An exact quote: “Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog due to immigration from the countries where those languages are spoken, and to a certain extent French, primarily in far north New England, due to the Acadian-Canadian influence, and in Louisiana (Cajun).”

My hopes is that sites like this will help the initial process of choosing a location you (as much as your readers) feel connected to as much as your characters will be grounded in it. 

If you have any other sites, comment below! And, as usual, if you have a topic you want to hear about, let me know, and I’ll credit your blog for asking the question on that post.

I hope everyone is having a great time! (Paperback news is coming soon!)

Goodreads Quote of the day“I was falling in love with her, and she was falling in love with me. It was fated, decided before any of us were born, and I hated it as much as I loved it. I could barely stand it.” (Eric, Minutes Before Sunset)

~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

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: Colors

27 Apr

4 days until Minutes Before Sunset is release! Don’t forget:

  • E-book will be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble May 1st, but paperback will take a little longer. I will announce it when it is available. 
  • The first chapter can be previewed by clicking the PDF file: First Chapter Preview
  • Please Like Minutes Before Sunset on Facebook by clicking the link or the button below! It means a lot to me, because it helps spread the word about my novel. Send me a message, and I’ll like yours, too!

Please Like Minutes Before Sunset on Facebook by clicking here! It means a lot to me, because it helps spread the word about my novel. Send me a message, and I'll like yours, too!

I wanted to apologize for not posting every other day (like I usually do) but I’ve been crazy busy! Who knew being a college senior and publishing my second novel could take up so much time???? (If only my finals were done.)

See? I used Roiworld (Via CandyDoll Maker on my last post) to make myself :D I enjoy using these sites all the time.

See? I used Roiworld (Via CandyDoll Maker on my last post) to make myself :D I enjoy using these sites all the time.

However, I will be reading at the University of Kansas in the English Room May 8, 2013 from 11 a.m. to 12:15 a.m.. If you’re in Kansas, come by and check out some great poets! I will also have an author signing once the paperback comes out in Shawnee, Kansas. So look out for that announcement!

But onto the writing tips.

These are probably my favorite posts. I love them, because I love discussing them afterwards with all of you. (I will probably post another one on April 29th) And I hope you guys have fun with them as much I as I do sharing them (not to mention using them myself.)

Today’s topic is colors, because we, as writers, are artists, and artists generally LOVE colors. However, it seems in writing that the color spectrum (that is wonderfully magnificent and, not to mention, giant) is simply overlooked. Yes. We have all read emerald green, violet, or sea blue. But what about ash violet, orchid petal, and brinjal, not to mention merlot (the color of my bedroom in my first house), Dorian Gray, mouse’s back, or chilled chardonnay? I realize some of these colors may seem ridiculous in prose, but there are colors you can use or at least be inspired by.

Personally, I LOVE using Lowe’s Paint Color Fan Decks. Seriously. Go to Lowe’s, visit their paint section, and just read through some of their color descriptions. This is particularly wonderful to me, because I am a very physical person. The internet doesn’t really provide the vibrancy I want. But paint palates do. And their creative names may give you more ideas than you will think. Unfortunately, Lowe’s does not offer their paint names online, but they have hundreds of them in store (and who doesn’t like an excuse to get out of the house?) However, there are many house decorating sites that do offer unique paint names.

There’s also another site, and it’s in my top ten favorite websites: Color Name & Hue provides an interactive color wheel, and it’s also usable for people who are colorblind, because it provides descriptions. For instance, the picture below is of the website. I randomly clicked a space within the colors, and it provided the color “sherpa blue” beneath the hue “green.” The second picture shows the color after I shifted the bar on the right (opacity) which changed the color to “oracle” within the same shade “green” since the mouse never moved.

Photos taken by screenshots on http://www.color-blindness.com/color-name-hue/

Photos taken by screenshots on http://www.color-blindness.com/color-name-hue/

I recommend trying this out when thinking about colors within descriptions, whether it’s an area or your characters’ physical traits. Who knows? You may change your character’s eyes from emerald green to fruit salad (joke) or to amulet. 

Hope you enjoyed today’s post! And, as usual, I thank all of you for supporting me during my publication journey. There may be a surprise in the acknowledgements page for you all :D 

~SAT

April 29: More Writing Tips (Hopefully :D)

May 1: “Minutes Before Sunset” Release Party!!

Publishing News: One Week To Go: First Chapter & Extra

24 Apr

One week before the Minutes Before Sunset release! That means there’s only seven days left! And I have exciting free things to share. But there is one change: you’ll be able to buy Minutes Before Sunset online as e-book through Amazon and Barnes & Noble May 1, 2013, but paperback won’t be available for a few more weeks. I apologize for this inconvenience, but things happen in the printing world, and I’d rather be able to give you all a great product in a few weeks than rush something that isn’t perfect on May 1st :D. So I’ll announce when the print version is available (it won’t be too long! I promise!)

First and foremost: Here is the back cover (if you haven’t already read it) and the first chapter can be found immediately below it:

She was undoubtedly a shade, but I didn’t know her.

Eric Welborn isn’t completely human, but he isn’t the only shade in the small Midwest town of Hayworth. With one year left before his eighteenth birthday, Eric is destined to win a long-raging war for his kind. But then she happens. In the middle of the night, Eric meets a nameless shade, and she’s powerful—too powerful—and his beliefs are altered. The Dark has lied to him, and he’s determined to figure out exactly what lies were told, even if the secrets protect his survival.

He had gotten so close to me—and I couldn’t move—I couldn’t get away.

Jessica Taylor moves to Hayworth, and her only goal is to find more information on her deceased biological family. Her adoptive parents agree to help on one condition: perfect grades. And Jessica is distraught when she’s assigned as Eric’s class partner. He won’t help, let alone talk to her, but she’s determined to change him—even if it means revealing everything he’s strived to hide.

Read the first chapter of Minutes Before Sunset (AEC Stellar Publishing) by clicking the link provided (it will open a PDF file on another page): First Chapter Preview.

I’m excited to share the first chapter with you, and I cannot wait for the novel’s release next week! One moment comes down to a lot of time, dedication, and handwork (But I know many of you already know this) so I’d really appreciate it if you helped spread the word! Don’t forget I have a Facebook Page for both Minutes Before Sunset and myself (which just went over 200 followers!)

I also wanted to share a very dear to picture to me. As many of you know, I’ve been wanting to dedicate Minutes Before Sunset to my late roommate Kristine Andersen, but I also wanted to dedicate it to our other roommate, Megan Paustian, because the time we lived together lives forever, and those memories live within my passion. The picture below shows, from left to right, Megan Paustian, me, and Kristine Andersen during August, 2012. I simply wanted to share the two important people I’ve dedicated my novel to.

Megan Paustian and Kristine Andersen--the two lovely ladies I've dedicated "Minutes Before Sunset" to.

Megan Paustian and Kristine Andersen–the two lovely ladies I’ve dedicated “Minutes Before Sunset” to.

 If you’re interested in other extras, I have one more to share today! It’s rather childish, but when I was younger I spent a lot of my free time on eLouai’s Candybar Doll Maker 3. The reason is pretty simple: I wanted a break from writing, but I’m not very good at it, so I’d log on and create my characters (as best as I could within the limits of clothing, hair, etc.) and just have fun with it. So I returned to the website to create the cast of Minutes Before Sunset. I’ll be adding them as the novel is released, but I’m adding the protagonists below (and if you’re looking for something fun to do, I actually would encourage this website. I’m almost 22, and I still had fun. Then again, my childhood imagination has never faltered. BUT–they do have room makers, and you could theoretically create maps for scenes, or figure out what your character might wear or not wear. So it is a nice exercise.)

Protagonists from left to right: Jessica Taylor, Eric Welborn, Shoman, and the nameless shade.

Protagonists from left to right: Jessica Taylor, Eric Welborn, Shoman, and the nameless shade. There are differences. I, of course, couldn’t add supernatural things, including purple eyes on the last character. Clothes aren’t accurate, but it’s still fun to create!

Have a great day! And thank you for helping spread the word about my upcoming novel! 

~SAT

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) 

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