Tag Archives: writing tips

#MondayBlogs: When Writing is Not All You Do

4 May

Intro:

Back in February of 2013, I wrote a little blog post called Writing Tips: How to Handle Rejection. A huge part of this post was dedicated to John Tompkins. At the time, he wrote a blog called Rejection Love Letters (Or How to Lose Agents and Alienate Publishers). That blog no longer exists, but it was one of my favorites. Why? Because John Tompkins had a fearlessness many crave. He shared his rejection letters from publishers with humor and honesty, and while I think every writer has been rejected, he was open about it, and that is rare. Since then, he has since self-published, and today, he is writing an article for us about another topic many authors can relate to—working and writing, as two separate full-time jobs.

When Writing is Not All You Do

Writing is easy. Getting published is hard. This is especially true for those who work and have families. It’s pretty difficult to advance your writing career when you’re alternating your time between a job, washing dishes after dinner, bathing your child and helping with laundry.

A writer recently posted an item on Salon claiming that authors who do nothing but write, thanks to financial security, shouldn’t be judged because they have the luxury to live all writing all the time.

cover 2One encouraging thing the writer did say, however, is that those who are privileged should disclose that and not pretend that they had to fight through the clutter on Amazon or through the slush pile with a publisher to get noticed. Many of them have connections in the publishing industry and quite simply don’t know what it’s like to struggle. The Salon writer offered two examples of successful writers. One is due to inherit a sizable fortune and has time to do nothing but write. The other is a young woman who was the only child of a couple heavily involved in the New York literary scene. Her being published was foregone the moment she was born.

I’m a married father of one with another one due in June. I also work full time, mostly writing at night while my wife’s asleep or during King of Queens reruns. Have to fit it in somewhere.

I’ve written now, three books (ok two books and one novella) all of which have been rejected (I’ve got more than 100 reject letters). Most of the letters I made fun of by posting to a now defunct blog. Reading the rejections, I noticed that they all pretty much sounded the same. “Sorry, you’re good, but you’re not spectacular.” I gave up with agents and publishers and decided, after having two PhD’s edit my book, to just put it out there.

I posted it to Amazon about a month ago. Hopefully it will make it through all of the clutter but I guess we’ll see. I’m doing my best to market it and I’m also struggling to find reviewers.

I think my problem with the publishing industry is mostly the second example. Too many people who are talented with something valuable to say are ignored by publishers because they didn’t grow up in the Northeast or have connections from graduate school. So they’re ignored. It’s a disservice to readers and the art in general. I said as much in a comment to the Salon story.

It shouldn’t anger me so much to hear authors who start off wealthy and have nothing to do but write. But it does and it is easy to get discouraged.

There are the handful of success stories, notably E.L. James and a series of books you may have heard of, Fifty Shades of Grey. She self-published her novels originally as e-books. You know the rest of the story. One of the tidbits I enjoy about her success is when the director was making the ending to the recently released movie, James ordered him to make the ending she wanted. That’s control that most authors never get because so few have subsidiary rights. (Further ironic because the whole story is about personal control and giving it up.) This all being said, James was a television executive when she was writing Fifty Shades. But unlike other privileged writers, she released her works as any other independent author. Her books actually started out as fan fiction of the Twilight series.

This is about the only thing I think that keeps me going. When I’m sitting in my bed at 12 a.m. trying to hit my daily 1,500-word quota on number four, I can only dream about the day when I can type at a desk during the day. I will probably still have King of Queens on in the background though.

Bio:

John Tompkins is a writer living in Texas. He is a former newspaper reporter specializing in court coverage, education and government. He is now working as a communications coordinator at local college.

Book & Blog

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs: Website Wonders

27 Apr

Website Wonders: 

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of April’s Website Wonders categorized into Writing, Reading, Travel, Coffee, and Art. If you enjoy these websites, be sure to follow me on Twitter because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Enjoy!

Writing:

Random Name Generator: For those who need help with naming characters

12 Techniques to Improve Your Writing in 2015: Solid

Reading:

42 Random Harry Potter Facts That Will Make You More Knowledgeable Than a Ravenclaw: Are you a Ravenclaw?

10 Nonfiction Books to Blow Your Mind: Because I adore nonfiction

7 Books That Will Change How You See The World: A great list with memorable quotes

15 Books Everyone Should Read At Least Once in Their Life: Which ones have you read?

12 Great Books (And The Perfect Mood to Read Them In): I love book lists.

The Ten Greatest Fantasy Series of All Time: Any of your favorites on here?

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Travel:

10 of the Most Magnificent Trees in the World: Because we know Shannon is secretly obsessed with trees.

Three Future Scenarios for Romantic Love: possibly my favorite article out of this entire bunch. This is sort of travel? Travel to the future.

Coffee:

The Best Time to Drink Coffee According to Science: Do you follow these rules?

Which Profession Drinks the Most Coffee: I’ll give you a hint. Writers and editors aren’t in the top three. (WHAT?)

Art:

Just Look At The Stunning Detail in These Mini Painting and Try to Not Be Impressed: Amazing! I’m impressed.

There you have it! I hope you enjoyed these website wonders! See you with more next month!

~SAT

#WW Writer Problems 1–5

22 Apr

#WW Writer Problems 1–5

If you’re on my Facebook, then you will be familiar with today’s content. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been sharing little cards that I make called Writer Problems. I only have a few out, but I decided that I wanted to share them on here too. So today was born, and hopefully, more days like today will follow. Basically, I’ll be sharing 5 cards at a time and explaining where the inspiration came from (because there are too many hilarious stories that go on behind the scenes of these), and I think many writers can probably relate to my writer problems.

Adding this information since I received an email requesting it: I highly encourage you all to share these photos if you want! Never be afraid to take anything from my website. In fact, I love it! But please give credit to one of my websites. If you want to use these photos, for instance, please don’t crop my website name out. Thank you!

Writer Problems #1

No matter how many times I press SAVE, I still think I’ll lose the entire document when I close it (even though I use a flash drive).

1

I’m currently working on…well…so many projects. Like most authors. But I have a problem. I’m a very neurotic person – very superstitious, very particular, and I have my rituals and my fears and they practically control my life. ::takes big breath:: So, one of my OCD issues is closing documents. I can’t. Whenever I am working on something – like a novel – I seriously struggle to close the twenty documents I have up at all. Even though I also save every five minutes, which is a problem in itself, I say a little prayer before I ever close anything. On top of that, I’ve been known to reopen everything after I close it just to check. And then I save it anything. And I might open it again. It’s exhausting.

Writer Problems #2

Eureka! I have a new idea! Now if I could only finish my other ten ideas… 

2

This goes back to my first problem. I never read one book at a time, and I never write one book at a time. I’m constantly working on different projects at the same time, so it isn’t rare for another project to sneak its way into my schedule. I’ve found that it’s both a blessing and a curse. My biggest issue is picking which novel to write next.

Writer Problems #3

Strangers catching you staring at them because they look like your characters.

3

Oh, goodness. On top of being neurotic, I’m always rather awkward, and one of those things that I tend to do (which often gets me in trouble) is staring at people. A lot. Even if people don’t look like my characters, I’ve found myself staring at someone that I WISH was one of my characters. You would think that I would get better at hiding my stalking eyes, but…I haven’t. I just stare. Creepily from my corner. Taking notes.

Writer Problems #4

Having nightmares about your novel during writing, editing, publishing, and after publication.

#4

It’s sort of like having the classic dream of showing up at school in your underwear. It happens – even though you’re no longer in school – and I find it’s even more frustrating when you’re out of school and have dreams like that. I have dreams of never finishing novels that are already finished. I have dreams of being called the shittiest author of all time. (But I think Honest Trailers already gave that to someone…) I have dreams of characters never coming out and talking to me again. Ah! I could go on and on about all the dreams I have revolving around books, but my heartbeat is racing.

Writer Problems #5

Hearing a song that inspired a novel…and now all you want to do it WRITE.

5

This particular card had a funny backstory to it, but I first have to explain how I make these. Basically, I pay attention to my everyday life, and when something reminds me of a writer problem I have, I create these. So, I might not even be going through what is on the card, but I will be going through something similar. For instance, in this case, I was doing the dishes, accompanied by my handy iPod mini – it’s green – and I Follow Rivers by Lykke Li came on. For those of you who listened to the 8tracks soundtrack for Take Me Tomorrow, you will know that this song heavily influenced my writing time, so just hearing it, made me want to go work on that trilogy. I struggled to continue washing the dishes, and it reminded me of times I’ve been out in public at an event and heard a song like this, which made it difficult to even concentrate at all. Writing consumes you.

Have any of these writer problems affected you? Have any funny stories to accompany them? Share below! And let me know if you want me to continue these cards and stories in the future. If you like them, be sure to follow me on Facebook because that is where I share them first.

~SAT

#Monday Blogs: Traditional vs. Self vs. Indie: What is the best way to get published?

20 Apr

Intro:

I have had the great honor of getting to know Kasi Blake through Clean Teen Publishing, and let me tell you guys, she is someone to watch. Her imagination began writing stories at a young – including one that was inspired by Star Wars – and she wrote across many genres. Now, she writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy…and of course, this lovely blog post about a constantly debated topic in the publishing world: which route do I take?

Traditional vs. Self vs. Indie: What is the best way to get published?

This question has been up for debate for some time, and that is why I am doing a post on it. However, I will not be telling you what you should do. Writing is a business with more than one way to do things. With that in mind, I will tell you about my experiences as I published all three ways, and you can decide for yourself which way you want to go. Each publishing arena has its pros and cons.

1. Traditional: There are still many people in the business who believe this is the only way to go and don’t consider you a real writer unless you published with one of the major publishing houses. You also need an agent in most cases. No one wants to wind up in the slush pile, wondering if their manuscript is even being read. I published two Romantic Suspense novels this way.

Advantages: Being able to say you are published with a major house gives you     credibility, and people don’t stare at you with glazed eyes when you talk about your book. Traditional publishers usually have a team of editors, graphic artists, and other awesome people to help your book along. The best thing about them in   my opinion is they can get you into stores. Seeing your book on the shelves is something you don’t forget.

Disadvantages: You have little to no control over your book. Once you sign the     contract, it is their book. They will choose the cover, change the content, and    usually they come up with their own title even if you slaved over it for months. If you think it will all be worth it to have help marketing, think again. Unless you     are a big name writer, there isn’t anything in the budget for you. Most first books lose money, and that’s why new authors have such a hard time getting signed.

2. Self-published: After getting a sparse two books published with a traditional house, I turned to the diy way. At first I was against it. I didn’t want people thinking I couldn’t get published and had to do it this way. Now, I am happy I took this journey myself, and I intend to do it again. I’ve published two series this way, the Rule Series starting with Vampires Rule (Free at the moment) and the Order of the Spirit Realm Series, starting with Bait.

Advantages: Total control. You are in charge of your book, and it is your baby       from conception to the finished product. Although you should find betas to read the manuscript before you publish, everything is up to you. Not everyone likes     this concept, but I enjoyed it. You can find out how to format and how to do your own cover on the Internet, or you can find skillful people to do those things for you. Many have taken the plunge before you, so take advantage of their      knowledge, and learn from their mistakes. You keep most of the money. I loved doing my own covers!

Disadvantages: There is still a stigma attached, and some people hate your books without giving them a chance. Marketing is difficult to do totally on your own. If the book has a problem and doesn’t sell, it is on you. There’s no one else to blame.

kasiblake

3. Indie: Although I am a control freak and enjoyed doing my own thing, it became tedious, so I found a small Indie Publisher for my Witch Game Novels. Crushed will be published August 4th with Witch Hunt following a few months later.

Advantages: I can’t tell you how great it feels to have someone else in this with     me now. While I concentrate on writing, they are editing the books, doing the    covers, etc. I can breathe. Unlike the traditional publishers, they offered me more control over my covers, content, and so on. It’s been great working with them. They also do some of the marketing.

Disadvantages: You are giving up part of your royalties and some control. Once you sign that contract, the book isn’t a hundred percent yours anymore, so make sure you can trust the people you are working with. Get recommendations.

There you have it, the top advantages and disadvantages of each publishing route. You have to decide which is best for you. Not everyone will do well with a traditional publisher, just like not everyone will succeed as a self-published author. It depends on what’s most important to you. Are you dying to see your books on the shelf in your local store even if they never sell? Do you have to have control over your own covers? Does it drive you crazy and give you an ulcer when you are in charge of everything?

Bio:

kasi-2Hi, my name is Kasi Blake, and I write Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy for the young and the young at heart. I love animals, wild and tamed, and years ago a blind date made my dream come true by introducing me to his cougar, Samantha. She was beautiful, and I was too stupid to be scared. In retrospect, my lack of fear probably saved me. He let me go into her pen so I could pet her. She walked up to me and fixed her open mouth on my upper thigh. I just stroked her head and told her how beautiful I thought she was. She was looking up at me sideways while gently biting down on my leg. He pulled her back, told her not to get me dirty, and I walked out of the pen. I think she was just testing me. Glad I passed.

I was born in sunny California, but I now live on a farm in the Midwest with a dog, two cats, ducks, chickens and cows. Hearing from readers is on my list of favorite things. You can find me at www.kasiblake.com

Please check out my books on Amazon. Vampires Rule is free at this time, and Bait is an awesome read about hunters-in-training. Think Supernatural, the TV show, but with a slightly younger cast. You can also find out more about me and my books at http://www.kasiblake.com

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#SATurday: Interview with Bogart, the author kitten

18 Apr

#SATurday: Interview with Bogart, the author kitten

First and foremost, I would like to thank The Acid Oasis for asking me to interview Bogart. I immediately knew that I HAD to do it, and today is the day I share the results. But – first – a little background on this fuzzy little (okay, he’s a bit chunky) feline.

A little over four years ago, a terribly horrible person ditched Bogart and three other black cats. In a closed box. On the side of a highway. He was two months old. Thankfully, a person who was the opposite of the first person (meaning, this next person is an amazing and wonderful human being) pulled over on that highway and saved the kittens by taking them to Wayside Waifs. Two months later, Bogart became my family, and here we are today – catlady and cat – writing stories together every day.

bogartcharacterprofile

Bogart: A lovely introduction. Thank you, Shannon.

Shannon: Well, you did help me write it. How are you doing today?

Bogart: Hungry. As usual.

Shannon: We just ate.

Bogart: I get a treat for this, right?

Shannon: (pause) Sure.

Bogart: (finally sits) Great. Let’s get this started.

Shannon: What is it like to be an author cat?

Bogart: It’s tough work! I sit in Shannon’s lap most of the day, and when I’m not in her lap, I’m next to her. Even when she doesn’t know it, I’m watching – making sure she doesn’t make a mistake, critiquing every word she types, and let me tell you, there are A LOT of words, and I keep Shannon in check.

Shannon: Why are you referring to me as Shannon when I’m right here?

Bogart: It’s for dramatic effect. (pause) And this is exactly what I mean. Without me, you wouldn’t even understand the meaning of drama. And who can have literature without drama?

Shannon: (blinks) Fair enough.

Bogart: So, as I was saying (yawn mixed with a meow), this is tough work. When Shannon makes a mistake, I jump onto her laptop. She doesn’t like it very much. I get thrown off a lot, you know? But the best partners have to have disagreements sometimes. Still, I think she knows I’m right because she ends up staring at her computer for a long while after. Sometimes, she even shuts it down altogether.

Shannon: So, what happens then? When you’re off the laptop?

Bogart: The inspiration, of course! Recently, for instance, I acquired two new friends, Boo Boo and Kiki. I’m sure you’ve seen us on Instagram. (leans in close, rubs face on recorder) We’re famous. (leans out) But Boo Boo and Kiki have been a great help. We set everything up, and the second Shannon comes into the room, we begin our masterpiece. There’s fighting and yelling and cuddling and sharing. An entire collection of emotions just for one plot, let me tell you.

Shannon: And how do I – er, I mean – how does Shannon react to these pieces?

Bogart: She loves them so much, she trips. (stretches) Sometimes, over Boo Boo, but mainly over me. I’m the star of the show, the big guy, the spark. (licks paw) It’s tough work, but the fight scenes in The Timely Death Trilogy wouldn’t be here without me.

Shannon: I thought Shannon wrote that before you two began collaborating.

Bogart: (ignores) What’s your next question?

Shannon: Ah. Right. (flips through notebook) Do you have any works of your own you’ll release? Anything by Bogart?

Bogart: Now that. (long purr) That is a great question. (sees water glass in front of him for the first time. Eyes go wide. Paw lifts up. He knocks it to the floor. Purr deepens.) I love the sound of water glasses hitting the floor. It’s the musical soundtrack of inspiration. Don’t you think?

Shannon: (stares at the mess) I need to clean that.

Bogart: Not now. Not now. (sits in lap and looks up with big, begging eyes to prevent movement) We were talking about my own story.

Shannon: (pets) Go on

Bogart: I do have my own stories. Many stories. Stories I’ve been piecing together for four long years. Stories of purr-fection and cat-astrophe and mew-tovation. But these things take time. A lot of time. And for now, I am enjoying my place – as a muse, a confidant, a kitten cat.

Shannon: Kitten cat?

Bogart: It’s a new spelling I’ve come up with – in reference to a cat that keeps their kitten qualities despite hardships – a cat that maintains their dreaming selves through adulthood, a cat that never gives up. (lifts face) I’m a kitten cat, and without me, Shannon would have a more difficult time with her dreams. Someone must encourage her – just as she encourages me with treats. (long pause)

Shannon: (throws treat)

Bogart: (eats treat) But, you see, we work together, and that’s a precious thing: an author kitten cat and his author, writing into the future. (pause) You could write a whole story on that.

Shannon: I already made a note.

Bogart: Great. We should get back to work.

Shannon: Agreed. (pets) Thank you for your time, Bogart.

Bogart: Thank you for the treat. (jumps down) Now open that laptop. We have books to write.

After the interview, Bogart and I got to work on the latest piece of fiction that will, hopefully one day, hit the shelves for readers. We worked all day and all night, only stopping for dinner, coffee, and treats. He purred and slept, but I know he kept his Halloween cat eyes on every word, just waiting for the opportunity to jump onto my laptop (to prevent mistakes, of course). When we finished our long day, we celebrated by talking some more. Bogart told me of the birds that taunted him, of the sunshine that warmed him, and of the toys he found beneath the couch. In his spare time, Bogart appears on Facebook and Instagram. He also models for donations. But he mainly looks forward to another day, full of writing and kitten cat adventures. It didn’t need to be said, but I found myself stating it anyway. I love Bogart very much.

~SAT

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 9.05.55 AMP.S. I was a guest blogger for Little Birdy Book Blog yesterday, and I talked about 5 lessons I learned since becoming an author. What was number 1? Being a reader is much more complicated now. Check it out by clicking here.

#MondayBlogs: Different Writing Techniques of Famous Writers

6 Apr

Intro:

I love info graphics. In fact, I’m a little obsessed with them. So, when Cindy Bates – a freelance editor and writer for Best Essay Tips – contacted me with her very own info graphic to share, I just knew I had to share it. Below, you’ll find a photo that outlines the Different Writing Techniques of Famous Writers.

Different Writing Techniques of Famous Writers 

Being a prolific and excellent writer is never easy. It took years to the world’s most famous and topnotch writers to be able to publish their work. For those who are aspiring to become one, possessing this skill does not happen overnight but you can definitely learn many things from famous writers. To improve your writing skills, constant practice is important. The best way to do this is to have your own journal. When you have your personal journal, you can freely write down your thoughts. You get to have your own space where you can express yourself without restraints and inhibitions. Apart from owning a journal, it is also known among famous writers that in order for you to be skilled in writing you also have to be a wide reader. By forming these habits, you can start having your own personal time for writing and to practice not just writing as a skill but as well as an art.

Writing techniques

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

March Ketchup

30 Mar

March’s Ketchup

Another month has passed, and during the month of March, we were able to meet more guest bloggers, read more news, and discover additional websites for writers and readers.

For those of you just now checking in this month, Ketchup actually means “catch up”. At the end of every month, I write these posts describing what goes on behind the scenes at ShannonAThompson.com. Some of the topics I cover include my big moments, top blog post, my top referrer, SEO term, and more in order to show insights that will hopefully help fellow bloggers see what was popular. I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

Thank you for being a part of my life this March!

Big Moments:

The new cover for Minutes Before Sunset, book 1 of The Timely Death Trilogy, was revealed, and what a delight that moment was! I am so happy you all enjoyed the new cover so much. It only makes the upcoming release more exciting. Because of all of the excitement, Clean Teen Publishing is hosting a Goodreads Giveaway. Staring on April 1, you can enter to win 1 of 3 ARCs, so look out for that!

My latest publication

My latest publication

In other news, I also received my copy of my first piece of nonfiction that was ever published. My personal essay, Nowhere, was featured in the 23 volume of Fine Lines, and now it sits on top of my desk, reminding me of why we continue to write and submit and share our work with everyone.

Thank you goes out to all of the readers who’ve supported me – novels, poetry, nonfiction, and all.

My #1 Clicked Item was my Facebook page

My #1 Clicked Item was my Facebook page

Top Three Blog Posts:

  1. #1 SEO Term: Wattpad

    #1 SEO Term: Wattpad

    The New Cover of Minutes Before Sunset Revealed: Ah! The excitement. Every day, it’s getting more and more difficult to contain my excitement about all of this. I am eternally grateful that you all are excited as well.

  2. The Lesson of Cats: I’m glad you all enjoy cats as much as I do. Bogart sends his love.
  3. Being Good Enough: Written by Sandra Nyamu, we were all touched when we read this honest article, describing the feelings of every writer who has been discouraged.

Other Blog Posts:

My #1 Referrer was Facebook

My #1 Referrer was Facebook

Guest Post: During March, I had the wonderful opportunity to guest write for Lit World Interviews. I wrote, How I Found a New Publisher after Losing One.

At the end of the month, I also like to take a moment to thank all of the websites who supported me by posting reviews, interviews, and features. If you would like to review my novels or interview me, please send me an email at shannonathompson@aol.com. I always love speaking with new bloggers, writers, and readers! And I will share your post on all of my websites.

Reviewers:

Interviews: Writing Room 101, Jonas Lee

Awarders: Kaine Andrews (Liebster Award), Addlepates and Booknerds (Liebster Award)

Calculated on March 27 at 19,420 followers

Calculated on March 27 at 19,420 followers

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