Tag Archives: writing tips

#WW Writer Problems 6-10

13 May

#WW Writer Problems 6-10

We like to believe that writing is all fun and games (and the worst thing that can happen is battling a thesaurus.) But writing is so much more than that, and because of all the work that goes on behind the scenes, writing often consumes the writer entirely. It lurks in the night like a good ol’ villain. It distracts us perfectly like a cheeky sidekick. It overcomes obstacles—not often as smoothly as we’d like—but it overcomes them like our heroes. It’s moments like these that remind me why I love writing, but these moments also bring up the awkward truth behind all-that-is writing, and I like to share these moments as my #WriterProblems. Last month, I shared 1-5, so this month, I’m sharing 6-10. Be sure to like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter because I share these cards there first. This is just the additional stories that go along with the cards. And—of course—feel free to take these cards and share them around. Just please don’t crop my name out. :]

Writer Problems #6

Trying to Find Inspirational Photos for Writing.

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For all of you Pinterest lovers out these, I’m sure you can relate to this one. Trying to find a normal male teenager with dark hair is nearly impossible. Everyone is either famous, naked, or both. And who wants that on their Pinterest board (if it’s not erotica)? Considering the billions of photos that are on the Internet, I’m often surprised at how difficult it can be to find a person who looks similar to the description of a character or even in a place in a novel. In fact, this card can be taken literally. While my cover artist and I were trying to find a male model for the cover of Seconds Before Sunrise, we stumbled upon this beauty. And yes. That’s a nearly naked man, wearing armor made out of bread. It took us an additional three days to find a male model with dark hair who had clothes on.

Writer Problems #7

Cats…We Love You, But Please Get Off The Keyboard.

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I have three of them. Trying to get them off my laptop—let alone out from under my desk where all the tempting wires hide—is a daily task I fail at. In fact, Boo-Boo is slaughtering my cell phone cord as I type this.

Writer Problems #8

When You Can’t Find Your Pens

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Perhaps you no longer use pens. In this day and age, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if a writer never used a writing utensil to write. But I still do. I have to. I love my pens. I’m rather protective of them too. And I only write with G-2 pens…and they often go missing. This either goes back to the cats, my roommates, or the writer goblin…a secret creature who lies in wait to prevent any more words from being written. Oh, wait. No. That’s my hair. Not a goblin.

Writer Problems #9

Writing in Public and Playing Your Writing Music Too Loud

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You’re writing. You’re music is playing. You’re sitting in your favorite coffee shop. Your words are flowing. You reach the end of a chapter and pause to take a sip of coffee. That’s when you look up and realize everyone is staring at you. Everyone. And you take off your headphones to see if someone will explain…when the noise explains it already. Yes. We heard your Taylor Swift and Michael Jackson. We heard it all. You were practically dancing too.

Writer Problems #10

Pen marks.

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This happens to me all too often—so often that I wonder if I can ever be one of those authors that only uses computers. I…just…can’t. But this card was inspired by a recent outing. My roommate and I went everywhere. EVERYWHERE. The grocery store, the coffee shop I always go to, the hardware store, the diner. And the day was fantastic. It truly was. Until I went to the bathroom to wash my hands and saw it. I had black pen smudged all the way down my left cheek and part of my nose. And no one told me. ::facepalm:: Sometimes, though, a nice barista says something, and I can clean my pen off with dignity.

So how about you? What did these writer problems remind you of? Share your story below, and be sure to check out 1-5 if you missed it. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter too so we can talk about these as they release…because we all know more are to come. So many more.

~SAT

P.S. My latest YouTube video on my channel – Coffee & Cats – went up yesterday! We’re talking about book boyfriends. 

#SATurday: Authors, Be Yourself

9 May

#SATurday: Authors, Be Yourself

As an author—but also as a marketer—I am constantly stressing the importance of being true to yourself and being true to your work. For instance, it’s a popular question to ask an author how long it took them to write a story. In turn, this has caused millions of debates about how long it should take. The infamous Stephen King, for example, has been quoted saying that writing a first draft shouldn’t take longer than three months, the length of a season. And to that, I say, pish posh. (Respectfully, of course.)

To me, it is ALWAYS more important to be true to the story than to meet a deadline. I mean, George R.R. Martin practically dedicated his life to writing A Song of Ice and Fire (a.k.a. Game of Thrones for you HBO fans), and he’s labeled as a serial fantasy genius. His first draft, I doubt, only demanded three months. But he didn’t care. All he cared about was writing it, so he wrote it, and he took as much time as he wanted to write it.

So what does this have to do with you?

Well, I see a lot of authors getting frazzled over writing advice or reading discussions or publishing debates or marketing tips or (insert panic now as I continue listing uncountable reasons for authors to worry). And it isn’t worth it. None of these worries are worth an author’s identity. Be you. That’s my number one rule when I talk to my clients about social media marketing as we create a plan for them. As an example, if you hate Facebook, stay off of it. There’s no reason you should be worrying yourself silly about likes and shares and outreach when you could be on Twitter with your favorites and retweets and hashtags. There’s no reason you should be throwing your precious writing time away for all the millions of things the Internet demands you to do, because—I’ll let you in on a little secret—no one can do it all. No one. So, it’s better to just do what you want to do.

beyou

This doesn’t go to say that this is easy. It’s not. There are many temptations that sneak into our time slots. It’s easy to be on Facebook and see an author who has 10,000 more likes than you and feel like you have to do what they do in order to get to where they are. But we have to stop focusing on getting to “where they are” and start focusing on getting to “where you want to be”. I get it. That can be a little confusing, especially when you “want” to be where they are. Those 10,000 likes look nice after all. But those are THEIR 10,000 likes. Those exact same 10,000 likes are not going to be the 10,000 likes you want for you and your book. You want your own 10,000 likes—likes you achieve by being you. But this is exactly where I see a popular problem arise. Authors are so focused on getting “more” followers that they forget to dedicate time to the followers they already have. The goal is not followers. The goal is being yourself.

That being said, you can definitely have more goals and look up to someone—admire their work ethic, respect their status, learn from them, etc.—but remind yourself that you are going to achieve your own goals your own way, and there’s no need to copy what others are doing. As an example, one author kept sharing exactly what another author with a larger follower was sharing. That’s not going to work. That’s not going to do anything. Why? Here are three reasons:

  1. Someone is already doing it.
  2. You’re trying to be them, not you.
  3. You’re sharing it for the wrong reasons. (For followers, not because you enjoy it.)

You have to be you and do what you want to do. When you do that, you will come through as a unique and wonderful voice, and people who like you will find you. There’s no need to worry or debate or copy or steal or take shots at one another.

Just be you, and everything else will fall into place.

~SAT

Thank you for the announcement, Boo Boo.

Thank you for the announcement, Boo Boo.

Are you a writer? As many of you know, I have guest bloggers every Monday. I accept original posts about anything to do with writing and reading. It can be as complicated as in-depth writing tips to as simple as how your favorite series affected your life. You do not have to be published to be a guest blogger. Bios, links, and photos are encouraged. Please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com if you’re interested.

#WW Love Triangles

6 May

#WW: Love Triangles

Opening note:

I’m trying to create more YouTube videos, and this is one of my first ones where I discuss a fiction opinion over my channel, Coffee & Cats. I’m more comfortable writing my thoughts because I feel like I can express more, so I am trying this format: an article that goes along with the video. But I want your opinions. How can I improve? Should videos be separate from www.ShannonAThompson.com or do you like a sister article to support the video? What topics would you like to see next? I’m mainly leaning toward talking about movies and books I love on my YouTube channel, but any and all opinions are appreciated. Today is an experiment, so I need your help.

Thank you!

Coffee & Cats: Episode 14: Love Triangles:

What are love triangles and why don’t I like them?

Love triangles are nothing new. It normally involves one person who loves two people at the same time, and more often than not, there is a “who do I pick?” tension connecting all of them together. They are immensely popular, especially in YA, so why do we keep seeing them over and over again? Well, for one, they are popular. For one, it’s an easy way to create conflict. And for three…well, love triangles arguably go the whole way back to the bible, so it comes to no surprise that they are so embedded into our culture and no surprise that we keep continuing to explore them in literature and others medias

So why don’t I like them?

I’m not a fan of love triangles. Well, let me reword that. I’m very picky when it comes to love triangles. Why? Well, mainly because love triangles lose me. It’s difficult for me – personally – to believe in fully loving two people romantically at the same time…wait for it…especially when they end up choosing one and completely walking away from the other. I actually think it would be really interesting to see more polygamous relationships discussed in fiction, for instance, since I’m not against loving more than one person at once in fiction. Like I said, I hate the “choosing” factor. I find it the opposite of lovable. But love triangles as they stand now (most of the time) want me to believe in one person undyingly loving two people and not knowing which to choose, and this entire situation makes me extremely uncomfortable for everyone. No one should ever be a on the back burner, just simmering in someone’s else’s heart. That’s not love to me. That’s awful.

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Are there any exceptions?

I definitely have exceptions. Like I said, I’m not completely against love triangles or loving people at the same time in fiction. What I’m against is the concept of “choosing” but still claiming to be undying love. That being said, I do have exceptions. One major one for me would the love triangle in Delirium by Lauren Oliver. (Spoiler Alert) When Lena believes her love is dead, she falls in love with someone else, but then…of course her first love isn’t dead. (End Spoiler Alert) So bam! Triangle. I don’t mind this. In fact, I like this. It’s believable, relatable in that she honesty wouldn’t have done this if it weren’t for the circumstances sort of way, and exciting – in the sense that we now have conflict. So, yes, there are exceptions, and I also wanted to touch are a MAJOR exception for me.

What’s a “like” triangle?

Now that I’ve probably spent too much time debating a love triangle I wanted to talk about a literary trope that I think I just made up. A like triangle. I love these. When characters come together and one character likes people but isn’t sure if they love any of them or love one more than the other, I enjoy it. I enjoy the development, and I like watching “like” grow into love. We could always discuss that “instant love” or “instalove” right now, but I think I’ll save that for next time.

What do you think?

~SAT

Minutes Before Sunset now up for pre-order!

Minutes Before Sunset now up for pre-order!

#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.

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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

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