Tag Archives: writing tips

July Ketchup

31 Jul

July’s Ketchup

Can you believe it? July is coming to an end, and with it, Minutes Before Sunset has released. (Another release is on its way in August, but that’s for another post.) I’m unbelievably enthralled by your support this past month. Thank you. Thank you. Thank. You. And…you can win even MORE prizes soon. But I’ll talk more about that in this month’s Ketchup post.

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 posts, my top referrer, #1 SEO term, YouTube videos, Members of the Week, 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 July!

Big Moments:

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My #1 clicked item was ordering Minutes Before Sunset! Thank you!

Minutes Before Sunset released by Clean Teen Publishing on July 28! (Insert so many excited author girl screams.) It’s been emotionally difficult to be off the market for seven months, but it’s equally as wonderfully to be back on the book train! You can grab a copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and pretty much everywhere. ::wink wink:: If you review the novel, please let me know! I’d love to share it! Or…you know…send you a signed bookmark to thank you. Tonight, we even have the CTP Midsummer Magic Party on Facebook where you can win prizes. I also started a newsletter.

Which brings me to my next point: Seconds Before Sunrise is releasing August 25. (Yes. This August 25.) And my publisher surprised me by sending me a paperback for my little writer hands. (It’s like holding a sweet little puppy. My heart is warm with love.) You can also pre-order Seconds Before Sunrise at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and…again…pretty much everywhere. :]

Tish and me

Tish and me

Right before my release—as promised—I’ve started traveling more to meet readers, and I met a few of you at Penned Con in St. Louis. I even had the gleeful moment of meeting one of my favorite Indie authors, Tish Thawer. ::waves at Tish:: (I’m planning on writing a blog post about Penned Con, so I’m going to save the rest of that story for that.)

In writing news, I had my eight-year anniversary of publishing, starting with November Snow in 2007. It’s only fitting that I finished the rewrite of November Snow as well! (Can’t you tell this has been an absolutely insane month?) I could’ve written an entire post on the recent events in my life. Maybe I will. Maybe I have even more exciting news to come.

I like to tease.

Stay Dark,

~SAT

Top Three Blog Posts:

  1. Minutes Before Sunset Release Day! I hope my rejoice hasn’t been too repetitive yet. I simply feel so lucky and happy and delighted to be here today, and I know I wouldn’t be without my readers, so thank you to the ends of my writer’s heart for continuing to believe in Minutes Before Sunset! The Timely Death Trilogy lives on!
  2. Can We Stop Hating on E.L. James and Stephenie Meyer? After EL James was attacked on Twitter, I wrote an article about how destructive hate (not criticism) can be, and how many authors are affected by it.
  3. It’s Never Too Late To Start Writing Your Bestseller: Written by EssayMama, this infographic outlines famous authors and how writing fit into their lives.

Other Blog Posts:

#1 SEO Term

#1 SEO Term

YouTube Channel:

Minutes Before Sunset Release Day

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. I also like to specially thank the Members of the Dark. Every week, I award one member a “Member of Week” badge, and out of those monthly members, one of them will win an eBook of their choosing as well as more prizes. If you would like to be a member, subscribe to my newsletter. If you’d like me to share your review of my novels or if you want to 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.

Dark Members of the Week: The Schwartz Reviews, Red Sands Reviews and Ramblings, awkward Meow Productions, and Tranquil Dreams.

Reviewers:

Death Before Daylight: Pointe Taken

Features: Juniper Grove Book Blitz

Calculated on July 29 at 19,851 new followers

Calculated on July 29 at 19,851 new followers

 

#WW The Difference of Pronunciation and Writing

22 Jul

#WW Pronunciation and Writing

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris demanded my attention simply from the title. Despite working with the English language every day—both as a writer and as an editor—I have difficulty speaking. I stumble and stutter a lot. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I worked so hard to master the written language. I was making up for another aspect of the language I didn’t excel in.

Looking back on it, I blamed moving around a lot as a kid—mixing up accents and phrases and idioms—but I don’t have much blame anymore. In fact, I’ve rather embraced this awkward part of myself, and it no longer bothers me like it used to. While most people around me avoided bringing it up a few years ago, it’s now a common joke. “Okay. English major.” “Aren’t you the writer here?” Both phrases I now hear on a regular basis, paired with laughter and a “Yeah. yeah. I get it.” It’s an accepted part of my life now, something I don’t fight, something I realized most people look past anyway. I was the one judging myself.

Take the other day for example…

On a drive back from the grocery store, I saw Venus and Jupiter in the sky. I am a HUGE space nerd—probably due to Sailor Moon—so I started rambling about how new information on Pluto released, discussing spots on the surface, and NASA was speculating what could’ve caused it. That’s when I came across the word “meteors.” The problem was simple. I had just finished talking about how Meg Cabot’s final book in the Mediator series was coming out and now I had to say meteor? It wasn’t happening. I stumbled for three minutes. Eventually, it turned into a giggle fit.

I know the words. I know how to say the words. I just can’t explain why it doesn’t come out that way. But I think the saddest part is when people can no longer take you seriously when you stumble over a word or two. In all honesty, I haven’t had that problem much. In fact, I think I simply worried that it would happen, so I stayed silent. My speech class in college got me over that fear. If I can say this without bragging, I got a big ol’ A in that course. (I know. I know. It’s speech class. But it meant the world to me. In fact, it meant Pluto, Jupiter, and Venus to me.) Up until that point, I thought there was no way I could succeed as a writer with a pronunciation issue like mine. What was I supposed to do if I ever booked a signing where I had to read a chapter out loud? The horror! What happens when people think I couldn’t have possibly written the words if I couldn’t speak them? Double horror! How do I explain myself? …I just died from horror.

It was a panic attack waiting to happen…a panic attack I overcame a long time ago but still comes back every now and then when I have to say specific or pacific, shoulder or solider, Neanderthal, and, I suppose, meter or mediator. (Fun fact: I stumbled over mediator in my YouTube video—Book Boyfriends—and said “med-a-tore” instead. I suppose I could’ve deleted it, reshot it, edited it out, but I’ve embraced this part of myself.)

These are all words I avoided saying out loud. All words I’ve used in stories a hundred times. All words that are, no matter what, precious to me.

Two moments, two poetry readings, I overcame my fear.

Two moments, two poetry readings, I overcame my fear.

“Emma Saying” on YouTube and “How To Pronounce” are two websites I use on a regular basis to practice. I don’t avoid words anymore, but I still stumble, and I imagine that’s just a part of me that makes me me—a character in my own right—a writer who stumbled over her love for words.

~SAT

And…announcements…

promoI’ll be at Penned Con in St. Louis, Missouri THIS Saturday. I’m going as a reader, not as an author, so if you want to meet me, simply email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. In other news…

Minutes Before Sunset releases in 6 days. 6 DAYS! We’re less than a week away, and all of your support matters. You make a difference in my life, and for that, I thank you.

All three novels in The Timely Death Trilogy are up for pre-order: Minutes Before Sunset, Seconds Before Sunrise, and Death Before Daylight. Please check them out or share them with the teaser. That would also mean Pluto, Venus, and Jupiter to me. :]

ANDDDD don’t forget. CTP’s Midsummer newsletterMagic Prty is on July 30, from 7-9 p.m. on Facebook. You can win paperbacks, jewelry, and more – all by playing games. You know I’ll be there. :] OH! And I started a newsletter, so feel free to click here to sign up. You’ll get to win more prizes!

Get excited! More information to come.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs: It’s Never Too Late To Start Writing Your Best Seller

20 Jul

Intro:

I love infographics. How many times have I said that on here? They are fantastic. Quick, fun, and reliable, I’ve always had a good time seeing stats unfolded on a beautiful display for all to see, and this one is no exception. As writers, we are often way too hard on ourselves, and I know I worry about how I’m spending my time in regards to my writing career. Heck, even though I started at 16, I’ve been feeling down about turning 24 and waiting for my release dates to get back into the market. This infographic is sure to stop that sort of worry in its tracks. Today, thanks to Essaymama, we get to see where our favorite writers started, some as young as 13, others as late as 65.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them)

It’s Never Too Late To Start Writing Your Best Seller by Essay Mama

Do you think it is too late to leave your mark in the world literature and become an author of a new bestseller? Essaymama writing service doesn’t think so. Do you know that Virginia Woolf started writing at 27 years and become popular at 43 years after publishing “Mrs. Dalloway”? Do you know that Haruki Murakami was a bar manager till 29 years? And Charles Bukovski was a postman till his 40? Find out more from the following infographic and start writing right now, it is never too late.

essay writing never too late to start writingV4

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

~SAT

#SATurday: Eight-Year Anniversary of Publishing, a.k.a. WHAT?

18 Jul

Yesterday, July 17, marked my eight-year anniversary of my very first published novel, November Snow. Coincidentally, it was also my one-year anniversary of Take Me Tomorrow (my last published novel with my old publisher). Both novels are currently unavailable, and neither novels had a lot of time on the market…although I hope one day they can make a comeback. November Snow is actually my current goal, but I am saving an in-depth post about that journey for the near future. (Insert wink here.)

I’ve been thinking a lot (as does every person on this planet, I hope), and reflecting over these past eight years of publishing is both surreal and nerve-wracking. It’s easy to beat myself up over the few years I left the market (between 2007 and 2013), but I try not to count that time as “lost” time. I was still writing, after all. In fact, I wrote Take Me Tomorrow in that time period. I do have my moments though, and if I had to compare it to anything, I would compare it to a reading problem I’ve had. (I hope I’m not the only one in this, but I shall confess my little heart’s sad beats anyway.) Sometimes, not as rare as I’d like those time to be, I will be reading a fantastic novel and suddenly think, “Oh. Wow. I could never be this good.” It’s ridiculous and silly and even petty, but the insecure and (hopefully) fleeting seconds pass. I generally shake my head back and forth really fast, like I can whip the thoughts out of my ears. (I credit Willow Smith for inspiring this move.) This has also caused quite a few stares in public. Nevertheless, I found myself doing that dance recently—the don’t-think-that head shake—and I know it’s because I was concentrating more on the “lost” time than on what I’ve accomplished with the current time and what I am continuing to accomplish with the time I have left.

All we can do is concentrate on being our best selves every day. If we do that, no time is lost.

I don’t know if November Snow or Take Me Tomorrow or any of my other novels will ever sit next to The Timely Death Trilogy. I don’t know if they’ll be on shelves one day or if I’ll make to a book signing or if I’ll try a new genre or deepen a series. I don’t know those things at all.

But I do know one thing.

I love what I do, and I love it more every day, and I look forward to my ninth anniversary and all of the anniversaries to come.

Oh, and just for fun, here’s a time lapse photo of the release day eight years ago and today…just cuddling with November Snow on the couch. I even found the same sweater. (And, yes, that’s a pegasus. I love pegasus.)

20072015

And because I think it’s fun to explain this to everyone I meet…the reason my eyebrows are missing when I was 16 is because I shaved them completely off when I was nine. Why? Well, that’s another story. (I promise it’s not what you think.) But they took ten years to (mainly) grow back. Don’t touch the brows. Don’t do it. However, I definitely recommend the pegasus sweater.

~SAT

Goodies and announcements:

ex55Minutes Before Sunset releases in TEN days! It is up for pre-order at $2.99, but the price goes up on July 28. You can also WIN a paperback via this Goodreads Giveaway! (It ends tomorrow.)

Seconds Before Sunrise and Death Before Daylight are also up for pre-order.

I’ll be at Penned Con July 25 in St. Louis, Missouri, and more news is to come shortly!

July 30, Clean Teen Publishing, is hosting an online party where we play games and give out FANTASTIC prizes. (Jewelry might be coming your way from yours truly.) So, join CTP’S Midsummer Magic Party, by clicking the link, and I’ll see you on July 31, from 7-9 p.m, via Facebook.

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#WW Real-Life Characters Behind a Novel

15 Jul

Everyone knows the author is not the only person behind a novel’s creation. Publishers, editors, cover artists, and formatters are just a few of the technical people behind the masterpiece. Bloggers, reviewers, beat readers, and readers are just a couple of the people who help spread the masterpiece. But there’s another type of person who helps create the novel, and that type of person is vital to the creation of a great story. Who am I talking about?

I’m talking about “the team.”

What is “the team”?

Well, it’s different for everyone. Some people may not even have a team, but I know I sure do. I have a wonderful group of people who deal with my writer’s insanity on a regular (if not daily) basis. They listen and argue and push me and sometimes inspire some of my characters, scenes, and lines. So, today, I want to introduce you to three of them, whether they enjoy the spotlight or not. (They’re definitely not used to it. That’s for sure.) These are the people behind the actual names you see mentioned in the back of my book, tucked away into the acknowledgements page, and scattered throughout my posts with vague nicknames and references.

Today we thank them. (And today, I use nicknames again.)

The Spray Painter

He’s an artist himself, armed with a spray paint can and horror movies, and he’s one of my best beta readers. He’s probably read everything I’ve finished so far, and he continues to talk to me on a regular basis about every last aspect of every single novel. He knows what could’ve happened, what happened before, what happens now, and what I plan to have happen. He deals with every last draft I’ve written. He is a walking spoiler alert (except he never tells anyone a thing). Without him, I wouldn’t have anyone to bounce possibilities off of, especially the more confusing ones, and his dedication has helped future stories more than ever before. When we get together, it’s “what draft was that?” And by the end, we’re talking about what draft we should stick with.

The Fashionista

A close friend of mine for over ten years, this chick-a-doodle has helped me with more than my novels. She’s also helped me pick appropriate clothes (for both myself and my characters). I would be lost without this personal shopper. She’s stylish, and she reads just as much as I do. We often consider friendship our own little book club, and her insight of the industry mixed with my knowledge has helped me figure out which aspects of my novels are unique and which ones need more work. She’s not afraid to be honest. (She can tell me when a character is weak while simultaneously confirming that, in fact, I do look fat in that dress). She’s also the one behind the camera of my Instagram feed.

The Dream Guy

He’d kill me if he saw me call him that, but it’s true. He’s the dream, and he inspires many of the dreamy moments in my male leads. Do you have a crush on Eric or Noah? Yep. This guy. He also helps create a lot of the political and military references scattered throughout many of my works, and I have a document dedicated to quotes he’s said in real life that I use in my novels (with permission, of course). He’s a walking character. He might even have dark hair and light eyes. But he definitely deals with my continuous ranting, and questioning, and idea-making the most. This is why he keeps me in check. He especially enjoys reminding me of the blatant loopholes I, somehow, missed on my own. He also doesn’t mind helping with fighting scenes. But who doesn’t like those?

These are three people behind my team. Hopefully, I’ll get to share more soon. They definitely don’t get enough credit, but they deserve a million acknowledgements.

Let’s make this even more fun.

Who would you want to meet? Would you want to ask them any questions? Let me know, and I’ll see what they have to say. We might have to do a follow up. ;]

~SAT

teaser5We only have 13 days until Minutes Before Sunset releases! And there is so much going on.

Pre-order Minutes Before Sunset for only $2.99 until July 28. You can also enter to win a paperback in this Goodreads Giveaway. 

Pre-order Seconds Before Sunrise too.

While you’re at it, pre-order Death Before Daylight. (EEEE. I still cannot believe this novel is finally available.)

And see me next Saturday, July 25, at Penned Con in St. Louis!

#SATurday: The Value of Knowing How Fast You Can Read or Write

11 Jul

The Value of Knowing How Fast You Can Read or Write

I don’t have time to read. I don’t have time to write.

We’ve all heard the phrases before…and possibly even said it ourselves. We get it. We do. Every writer and reader has a busy life, because every person has a busy life. Finding time to write or read isn’t easy. You just do it.

Easier said than done, right? Right. Which is why I want to share a small tip that worked for me in the early stages of my writing career. I’ve shared this with fellow writers before, so I know it works for some, but I must warn you that it has also discouraged others, so keep this one important fact in mind: It’s not about how fast you are. It’s not about comparing your speeds to anyone else’s. It’s about being aware of yourself, and using your awareness to manage yourself better.

Kiki helps me keep track.

Kiki helps me keep track.

My tip? Figure out how fast you read and write. (Remember, quality is key. This is not a race.)

What do I mean by that?

When you’re writing, take note of what time you start and your word count. When you’re done, take note of the time and how many words you get down. For reading, it’s very similar. Take note of where you started and when you started; then jot down how far you got and when you stopped. Do this a couple of times to get an average. Also, be aware of your nuances.

As an example, my major nuance is chapters. For both reading and writing, I cannot—for the life of me—stop in the middle of a chapter. So, for writing, I’m more likely to push myself longer just to finish that section, or if I feel myself getting tired, I might stop early to prevent myself from getting in the middle of a chapter. Now that I’m aware of my nuances, I can calculate speed. For two hours, I generally manage to write a chapter of 4,000-5,000 or so words and prep the next chapter, depending on where I’m at in those two hours. For reading, that’s about 200 or so pages, but this one is a little trickier since it is normally affected by the language or topic of the novel. That being said, that is my example.

Now what?

Now, pay attention to yourself. Did you just spend three hours watching television? I know I did that the other day. I couldn’t write due to carpal tunnel syndrome, so my situation was a little different, but I watched Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, an entire episode of John Adams, and the finale of Silicon Valley. I spent over three hours watching TV. Three hours. I could’ve written a chapter, prepped a chapter, and read 100 pages in my current read. This is where knowing your speed helps you manage your time. You stop counting time like one hour and you start counting time in word counts and pages.

Managing your time starts with being aware of your time. I know we all have difficulties—so, trust me, this is not a post slamming anyone who can’t find time to write and read. In fact, I’ve had a difficult time for the past week to find time to write and read since I’ve been moving more furniture from city to city. But there are days—like my three-hour television days—that I think we all have. And those are okay too. We’re allowed to take a break. This is more for those who might be struggling with their free time. This post is designed to suggest a new way to approach their situation. If you pay attention and figuring out another way to count time, you’ll be less likely to say, “I just watched one TV show” and more likely to realize that was an entire chapter in your WIP.

Remember that one important fact though. It’s not about how fast you are. It’s not about comparing your speeds to anyone else’s. It’s about being aware of yourself, and using your awareness to your advantage. And be aware of everything else too.

What do I mean by “everything else”? I wrote this blog post while cooking lunch—because I’ve been behind on blog posts and figured my lunch break would be a good time to sneak that in—so I wrote while I cooked. Pasta to be exact. It worked. I finished a blog post in time…but don’t let the water boil over like I did. ;]

~SAT

We’re so close!

As of yesterday, all three novels (YES, even Death Before Daylight) became available for pre-order

Minutes Before Sunset, Seconds Before Sunrise, Death Before Daylight

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Pre-order today!

#WW Staying Focused as a Writer

8 Jul

#WW Staying Focused as a Writer

Staying focused. It sounds simple but is all too complicated for many. It’s different for every writer, but I’ve recognized quite a few common stressors among authors. Some get overwhelmed by finding time to write and manage social media. Others can’t finish a novel without another one sneaking up on them. Some even ditch novels altogether. Like I said, it’s different for everyone, and there are many reasons behind the variety of #writerproblems out there. (Hence why there is an actual hashtag for such things.)

So, today, I wanted to discuss one I deal with as well as the ways I’ve kept myself in check over the years, but I would love to hear about how you manage your writing!

My issue is completing a novel when a new one suddenly demands my attention.

How are we supposed to concentrate on such a beautiful day?

How are we supposed to concentrate on such a beautiful day?

While I have no problem finishing a novel or coming up with an ending, I used to have a hard time keeping focused on the one I need to complete next. Any time I got a new idea or a new character, all I wanted to do was obsess over the new, potential story in front of me. I realized it was a problem when I spent more of my time planning novels than actually writing them, and while this happened to me a few years ago, I learned a lot of little tricks to keep me focused. In fact, this exact issue happened to me recently. While I’m mainly working on the rewrite of November Snow, I have another completed novel—one that’s never been released before that I refer to as “D”—and while it is complete, there is something wrong with it in my gut. And I realized what it was just the other day. Now, all I want to do is go fix everything in that manuscript. But I have to control myself. This is how.

1. Give Yourself a Time Limit

Whether it’s writing in a new novel or posting on your social media, tell yourself you only have an hour or two to do what you want before you continue to do what you need to do. Maybe you give yourself a few days. (I did.) However much time you need, give it to yourself, but try to set a time limit so you can get back to your original task. For instance, I gave myself a few days to jot everything down for “D”, but eventually, I know I have a bigger goal that needed attention, and now, I’m back to focusing on November Snow. “D” will gets its day soon. This isn’t to say I don’t want to work on November Snow. I do. I want to work on both, but I had to pick one because of other goals I’ve set (publishing dates, for instance).

2. Be Aware of Triggers

Another aspect of this I have to control has to do with triggers. I will use music as an example. I’ve only recently started writing with music on, but now I have associated playlists, and they help me focus almost immediately. If I hear “Murakami” by Made in Heights, November Snow is the only thing I can concentrate on. But “Dreamland” by Fan Shiqi triggers “D” so fast that I’ve learned to avoid that song when I’m trying to focus on November Snow. Keeping the right triggers around me, while avoiding the wrong ones, not only energizes what I want and need to focus on, but also prevents distractions.

3. And finally—Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

This is going to contradict my first tip, but if you go over your time limit or you simply change goals altogether, that’s fine. You know in your gut what you need and want to do. It’s a matter of being honest with yourself, understanding yourself, and accepting yourself and your artistic process. I could beat myself up all day that I lost time on the November Snow rewrite for “D”, but that would be counterproductive. I got something done, after all. Now, I just need to get more done. Just keep moving.

This is how I’ve stayed focused through my #writerproblems. How about you? What are your tricks and tips?

~SAT

Announcements:

We’re 20 days away from Minutes Before Sunset!

Seconds Before Sunrise, book 2, is also up for pre-order.

And? Clean Teen Publishing listed another Goodreads Giveaway!

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Also, I’ll be at Penned Con in St. Louis Missouri on July 25. If you want to meet me, send me an email! I’m just going as a reader, but I do have my first author event booked for October 17-18 at the Texas Book Festival in Austin, TX. Other events will appear on my Events page in the near future.

In other news, I’m also accepting guest bloggers again. My earliest available date is in October, so be sure to email me at shannonathompson@aol.com if you’re interested. I accept any posts about writing and reading, and I encourage bios, photos, and links. I look forward to hearing from you!

writing

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