Tag Archives: writing

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

21 Apr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Read.

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

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

2. Watch.

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

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

3. Do.

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

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

4. Ask

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

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

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

Writing with Barbie

19 Apr

Prepare for laughter during today’s post. But – before we get onto the giggles – I want to share two important bits of news.

Paris Carter reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise, stating, “The novel also includes several internal struggles for Eric and Jess that sparks tension throughout the entire novel, and it’s the chaos of them struggling to work out their answers and fight themselves that bring Shannon’s novel to a second dimension.” Read the entire review here or check out his review of Minutes Before Sunset first.

I also participated in an interview with Doodles, doodles everywhere. We talked about what hurts me the most as a writer, and I expanded on the research that went behind The Timely Death Trilogy. Check it out.

It’s been a few days since I participated in my first podcast interview, but I wanted to write about something fun since my last post was rather dreary. That’s when my mind immediately returned to The Lurking Voice. (Just a small, Kansas City update though, they found the Highway Shooter, so things feel a lot better around here. Maybe that’s why I’m so eager to post something I can laugh at…I mean, laugh with you…as you laugh at me.)

Back to the topic.

If you listened to the full interview – which you can by clicking here – then you know that I confessed to many writing strategies that I haven’t mentioned before, although “strategies” will quickly turn into a debatable term during this post. My ultimate, reluctant confession happened when we discussed November Snow, my first published novel.

I was 11 when I started writing it and 16 when it was published. It’s safe to say that it isn’t my best work, but I am planning on re-writing it. As we were discussing this, Ryan Attard asked a great question. How does a preteen plan a novel out? That’s when I said it.

November Snow was based on a game that I played out with my Barbie dolls as a much younger kid. Now, if you’ve read November Snow, then you might be concerned, considering how violent the book is, but there’s no need to be concerned – (I think.) That’s what I told my high school teachers anyway when I was asked about the dark nature of it. But that’s another story for another day.

Today, I wanted to share a funny truth to November Snow. No matter how dark the story is, many of my characters were actually based on the dolls I used. I admitted to it on the podcast, and now I am re-confessing it on here. Even better, I dug through some boxes, and I found the old toys, so I’m sharing a few of them as well as small excerpts from the novel that proves this goofy aspect of my writing.

You’ve been warned.

A little background before we begin:

November Snow is a young-adult, dystopian novel, and it is told from dual, first perspectives: Daniel and Serena. Unfortunately, I lost the Serena doll (she might have lost a limb or two or maybe even a head.) But I still have Daniel, who you will see soon. I’m going to share three pictures, and each picture has numerous characters on it. Below each picture, I will have a one-sentence background, and below that, I’ll be sharing the real excerpt from the novel. I’ll also include page numbers as well as who was telling the story at the time (Daniel or Serena.) I am also including a little note, explaining how my 11-year-old brain worked. Got that? Okay. I even think I’m lost, but trust me – it’s organized. Hope you chuckle as much as I did writing this post! Traveling to the past can be a funny adventure.

First picture: from the left to the right: Robert, Daniel, and Calhoun. 

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Robert: 19, leader of the Southern Flock (hates hugs)

“I turned around to see Robert’s dark brown eyes staring at me, and my heart lunged into my dry throat…He muttered something, his brown hair shagging in his face, and I laughed. “ (Serena, 156-7)

Note: Believe it or not, he’s not the antagonist. Sort of?

Daniel: 18, leader of the Northern Flock (all around hunk)

“The guy looked like Daniel. He had the brown, muffled hair and tanned skin. He even had the blue and white jacket down, but he wasn’t responding to his name.” (Serena, 181)

Note: So, if you didn’t notice, I even based some clothes off of these toys.

Calhoun: age unknown, Daniel’s mentor. (kind of a hard ass)

“From the bottom step he could have been mistaken for a modern-day giant. His face was strong, as were his muscles, and he looked like he could barely fit into the sweater he was wearing. He had been in a POW accident, in which he had lost one of his arms, but he refused to tell the story. Normally, he had a fake arm in, but tonight, a gray sleeve dangled at his side, blowing in the chilled November wind.” (Daniel, 25)

Note: if you listened to the podcast, then you know this character actually ended up being very similar to my real father. Except my dad has both arms. And he’s not a vet. But I swear they are alike.

Second Picture: from left to right: Daisy and Maggie

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 Daisy: 16, member of the Southern Flock (I hate her.) 

She doesn’t deserve a note or description. Seriously. Have you ever hated your own characters so much that you regret bringing them into existence? I think Daisy might be in my top three of characters I’ve created and despised. #authorproblems.

Maggie: 16, member of the Northern Flock. (crushes on Adam in private)

“The front door opened, and Maggie walked in. She was wearing a small, pink coat and white disco pants that had gone out of style a century ago, but she still pulled them off easily.” (Daniel, 240)

Note: is it just me or is Daniel incredibly aware of fashion trends?

Third picture: from left to the right: Amy, Justin, and Marisa

Now for the youngsters, the category of characters that caused one of my high school teachers to ask if I needed to talk to someone after she read my novel and discovered only a few of the characters survive. (Seriously. It’s on the back of the book…) From left to right, we have Amy, Justin, and Marisa.

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Amy: 14, member of the Southern Flock. (Hates being called “Amy.” Her name is Amiel Marie Young.) 

“Amy’s hair was tied back in a French braid.” (Serena, 144)

Note: So this was more of a hairstyle thing, and you can’t really see it in the doll anymore, but it was there. I promise.

Justin: 6, member of the Southern Flock (borderline obsessed with hockey)

“Justin, blond-haired and brown eyed, was whisked off his feet by the collar of his shirt.” (Daniel, 479)

Note: There’s actually a hockey scene in the book just for this hockey-themed doll. (I really have no shame as I share this, do I?)

Marisa: 7, member of the Northern Flock (too small to crush on Adam, but apparently, all the girls like Adam…maybe I should’ve shared Adam.)

“A small girl struggled her way into Adams’s lap and leaned her bony elbows onto the table. She had long, brown pigtails that rested on the wiggling table and innocent eyes.” (Daniel, 44)

Note: The hair is there. The hair is totally there.

So there you go. My young-adult novel that almost got me in trouble as a teen was originally created during playtime as a kid.

Try to figure that one out.

I sure haven’t.

~SAT

If you want to check out the collector’s first edition, click here.

If you want to check out the collector’s first edition, click here.

 

Writing Tips: Dealing with Controversy

17 Apr

I live in Kansas City, and right now, if you watch the news, I’m sure you’ve heard of the recent tragedies that have happened here. I drive on the highways where the “Highway Shooter” is every day, and I live less than one mile away from the Jewish Community Center where three people died. In fact, I heard the sirens from my living room when it happened, and one of the victims went to Blue Valley High School, the same school I graduated from in 2009. But this isn’t about me. It’s about the effect it has on the Kansas City community.

I am reminded of how quickly a community can change, how the feeling of safety is a fleeting comfort, and how important it is to come together during this time. But I wanted to discuss an aspect of a writer’s life that these instances reminded me of that I’m sure many writers struggle with:

When we’re writing about sensitive issues, and they occur in real life – and occasionally, right down the street – we question ourselves.

I went through this when I wrote “Sean’s Bullet.” My military fiction story that was published in 2013: A Stellar Collection is fiction, but it deals with real-life issues, including friendly fire and PTSD. My recently published YA novel, Seconds Before Sunrise, deals with underage drinking and reckless driving. During this past week, I am going through some of the same thoughts I had when I was writing these stories.

Am I being true to the story? Am I not being sensitive to the victims? Am I portraying this respectfully and honestly? Am I over-thinking this? 

These thoughts run rampant through an author’s mind when they are facing a story with controversial events, but the answers are harder to find when the events are right outside your window.

My current manuscript – which I have yet to reveal – has a few instances where guns are used. Being a Kansas City resident during a time where we’ve had recent shootings and murders, creates a sensitivity to these things. I am a fantasy writer, but things that happen in fantasy can still happen in reality, and when that happens, it causes this pause – this hesitation that seemingly stops everything. For me, this pause is caused by guilt.

I feel guilty for having scenes that have affected real people. I want to find another way to entertain people in my stories. I break away from my story and question whether it’s right or not. But, eventually, I have to accept the fact that my story is fiction, that my scenes with violence or pain are not creating what occasionally happens in reality – near or far – and that I am doing my best to be a respectable artist.

So what can writers do when they face this issue?

I can’t tell every writer how to approach this. There is actually a lot of debate as to how to handle many controversial subjects in fiction, but I am not going to talk about what I consider appropriate because that’s my opinion. Instead, I’m giving advice.

1. Step away from your manuscript – when there’s an event that shifts your emotions about a piece, take a day and forget it. Then, return and think about it carefully. Is this event directly related to your work or is it just similar?

2. Cope with your emotions – This can include many types of coping. For instance, you can cope with a real-life event and then cope with an event in your fiction. You might realize they aren’t similar at all, and your thoughts will help you realize if your opinions have changed (or even if your characters’ opinions have shifted.)

3. Consider the actual event carefully – what makes it controversial? Who is affected by it? Have you personally dealt with it? Have you researched those who are affected by it?

4. Be willing to change but also be willing to keep it the same – sometimes bad things happen. Just because it’s in fiction doesn’t mean that it is directly related to something real. But if your opinions change, you might have to find a new way to go about a scene, and both are perfectly okay.

These things are very difficult to discuss. Even writing this blog post was challenging because these moments are very emotional, and we all react in our own way, but – in the end – we want to be respectful while pursuing our art in a passionate way. Every experience in our lives results in a lesson, good or bad, and it creates who we are. Personally, I have used my mother’s death as inspiration. Does that make me a bad person? No. It allowed me to cope in a creative way. That is me. I shouldn’t feel ashamed of it. But – at the same time – I strive to use that experience in a respectful manner. That’s all I can do.

I can either hide behind my guilt or I can embrace my emotions and pursue my art.

There are limits, but they are self-imposed, and every artist must decide what is appropriate for them and their audience. It is a responsibility of an artist, and it is one to be considered carefully.

I discussed this today with a heavy heart, but I wanted to open a safe place to talk about this, because I know many artists who struggle with the same emotions. If you’ve had an instance where you have dealt with this, feel free to discuss below.

~SAT

How Desk Trinkets Can Inspire You

7 Apr

I added a YouTube page to this website, so you can catch up here as well as on YouTube. I am expecting to upload my next video soon, but I’ll always make an announcement. If you subscribe to my channel – Coffee and Cats – you can watch all of my videos one day early.

I know. I know. A desk can be a clattered mess, a scattered collection of book remains, an abyss of wonderment, the aftermath of a chaotic genius. Chances are your desk is already filled with pens, photographs, and paperwork. The last thing you need is more trinkets. Right?

Wrong. Every time I think this, I am wrong.

I love trinkets. I love trinkets too much. I do not think my love for trinkets will ever stop. And today I am sharing a few of mine that I haven’t shared before because they help me during my every day stresses and excitement. In other words, the little things remind me of the important stuff – the feelings that make me work harder and smile longer – and I hope you might consider adding a positive reminder to your desk and/or share the ones you already have.

My Tiger’s Eye Statue and Stone:

Fun fact: I’m obsessed with meanings behind things. Whether it is the meaning of a name or the meaning of a certain type of flower, I could spend hours reading about how certain labels came about. Tiger’s Eye is my favorite stone. They are beautiful, but they are also associated with protection and clarity. Below, you’ll see two Tiger’s Eyes that I keep on my desk. One is a stone I was gifted, and the other one is a statue of a coyote that a very kind woman carved for me after my husky passed away in 2007. These stones remind me of many things, such as my love for my dog, Shadow, but they mainly remind me of the clarity I believe in that I am doing the right thing by following my dream as well as the protection I receive from all of my loved ones, passed on and still alive.

coy

Willow Tree Statues:

Obviously, I have a thing for statues, but Willow Tree (Demdaco) is one of my favorite companies. These are two gifts I received which both happen to be by Willow Tree. The one on the left is known as the Mother and Daughter. I received this from my aunt right after my mother passed away. I have my mother’s bracelet draped around the statue, because I used to wear it every day until the clasp broke. I considered fixing it, but I almost lost it, so I decided to keep it on my desk instead. The one on the right is the Love of Learning. This was given to me as a birthday gift from a great friend who is actually in the acknowledgements of Minutes Before Sunset. She’s always been so supportive of my novels. In a way, both of these statues remind me of the loved ones in my life that support my dream as well as all of the love that surrounds me.

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Maneki Neko

And my latest one that I received yesterday from my aunt. As many of you know, I really want to travel to Japan one day. She was just over there, so she brought me back a Maneki Neko, a.k.a. Fortune Cat, Lucky Cat, etc. You can read more about it from this article: 5 Interesting Facts About Fortune Cats, but I am sure it will fit right next to my “All You Need is Love…And a Cat” paperweight.

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So do you have any trinkets that inspire you? How do they inspire you? Do you think trinkets can help you throughout the day? Do you think they can hold good luck or good fortune? Be sure to share your thoughts and stories below! You never know. Your good luck trinket might help you get picked out to be April’s guest blogger.

~SAT

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.

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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

 

March Ketchup

30 Mar

Seeing as this is my second “Ketchup” post ever, I am amazed by how much I am falling in love with these. It’s a lot of fun to go back to analyze stats in order to figure out what you all found decided was the most popular. This helps me understand you all, and I think it also shows other bloggers what goes on behind the scenes here at ShannonAThompson.com. I’ll slowly be adding in more categories as I realize what will be the most helpful to everyone! Here is what I’m sharing this month: my big moments, top three blog posts, the one blog post I wish received more views, the rest of the blog posts, top referrer other than search engines, top searched term, and gains in followers, likes, and shares. I also included every website who has helped me this month.

Big Moments:

currentSeconds Before Sunrise released on March 27th, which is the moment every writer looks forward to, but after the release party, something amazing happened! My novels skyrocketed into the top 1,000 books in the Kindle Store. Your growing support is astounding, and I cannot wait to continue into the future with my next novels, including “Death Before Daylight” (book 3 of The Timely Death Trilogy.) If you want to start now, here’s a link to Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise.

Other big moments included actress, dancer, and director, Gracie Dzienny tweeting about my novels. I also found out my poem will be published in the first edition of LaLuna Magazine, so look out for more news on that coming in April.

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 Top Three Blog Posts:

1. Oh, yes. I Did Record a Video: I guess this means that I need to post more videos on my YouTube channel. I invited you to my launch party in all my nervous glory.

2. What’s Your Shade Name? And other Author Announcements: The shade name generator was possibly the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It’s also nice to know you all are interested in reading about my author life!

3. My Home Away From Home: This was a post I was nominated for, and I spoke about my favorite place to go. The post was also the anniversary of my mother’s death, and I shared how cemeteries bring me peace, even to this day.

The Post I Wish Got More Views:

Writing Tips: The Five Senses: This post actually got a lot of views, but I spent more time organizing and writing this blog post than the others. I analyze how to include the five senses in a novel, but I also ranked what I and other writers believed to be the easiest to the hardest sense to include. After that, I showed tallies from my own novels to display if my original thoughts were correct or not. I still believe this prompt is a fantastic (yes, time consuming but fantastic) prompt for all writers to try.

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Other Blog Posts: 

Below are the other blog posts I haven’t mentioned yet. They are organized into categories.

Writing:

My Writing Process Blog Tour: Nominated by Dan Thompson, I explained my writing process.

Why I Am Most Nervous About the Second Book of a Trilogy: Middle novels are often seen as transitional novels, and I fought that – hard.

What Changes from First Draft to Publication: I share my personal experiences in editing.

The After Party: The day after the release of Seconds Before Sunrise.

Reading:

The Controversy of Rating and Reviewing Novels: there’s a lot of argument going on between readers and writers. I discussed a few of the most common ones.

 So You Want to be a Book Blogger: Tips for setting up your book reviewing website.

Is that Novel REALLY Dystopian? How Market Trends Affect Incorrect Labeling: Novels are often mislabeled on purpose due to marketing strategies.

My top referrer other than search engines was my Facebook page.

My top referrer other than search engines was my Facebook page.

Other:

No Makeup Selfie Campaign for Cancer Research: I always take time to participate in important events like this.

Guest Post: The Passion – she is contagious: author, Sorin Suciu blogged about his passions.

The Oscars: Who I Want to Win This Year: I have to do fun posts every now and then.

And last, but definitely not least, I want to thank the websites who supported me this month by reviewing my novels, interviewing me, and featuring my work during this crazy fun month:

Reviewers: Fantasy is More FunLife With No PlotJust A Third Cultured KidThe Modest VergeWrite Out LoudA Reader’s ReviewCoffee Shop ReaderEnnlee’s Reading CornerPau’s CastlesChris PavesicThe Novel ListPress Pause, Fast ForwardBreathe Wild FlowerMental CheesecakeLife with no PlotEndless ReadingSo Little Books, So Little TimeFantasy is more Fun, and Tamara Morning.

Interviewers: Dan Thompson, A Reader’s Review, The Urge to Write, Writing Under Fire, and Desirable Purity.

Features: BIT’N Book Promoters, Paranormal Book Club, and Fantasy is More Fun,

I picked this picture because tonight is the Full Worm Moon. (by Free Photos and Wallpapers.)

I picked this picture because tonight is the Full Worm Moon. (by Free Photos and Wallpapers.)

February Ketchup

28 Feb

ShannonAThompson.com hit 14,000 followers!

Thank you. Bogart and I really appreciate your support. We often sit in front of the lap top together, gazing at the screen as if something magical might happen. When we hit 14,000 followers, something magical did happen, and it was exciting for both of us. (I, for one, was glad Bogart was able to refrain from sitting on my keyboard during this time.)

fun

The Journey of Two also reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise, stating, “When the battle finally comes it won’t be anything like you think…I finished the book in three days and I’m certain it could be devoured in even less. The pace is handled perfectly, the action and flow move forward seamlessly. The climax is satisfying and yet not completely whole, leaving readers primed and anxious for the next installment.”

I gave in. I had to call this new segment “Ketchup” instead of “Catch-up.” Oh, word play. How I love you.

But, yes, today is a new day that I will post at the end of every month. It basically outlines every post of that month so you can see if you missed anything you’re interested in. I will also show the most popular posts according to my viewing stats at the top. So enjoy!

Top Three Posts: 

1. You Have Committed Copyright Infringement: content from my novel was copy and pasted into other writers’ stories. This is what I did about it – it also outlines what writers and authors can do to prevent this from happening.

2. Readers Hating Other Readers: too many people are getting picked on for what they read. We need to stop this by encouraging positive reading environments.

3. My Insecurities and How I Overcame Them: Everybody has insecurities. This is how I overcame mine, especially those that I cannot change.

Writing Tips:

Dual Perspectives: Should Characters Have Equal Time to Speak? Both of my published novels are told from two perspectives. This is how I decided who got to speak more.

For the First Time in a Long Time, I Struggled with Writing and This is What I Did About It: When I was invited to submit to an event by The New York Times, I was ecstatic. Then I saw the topic, and I dropped out. Find out why.

Help: I’ve Returned to an Old Piece of Writing and I Can See Influences From My Past: I am already working on my next novel to get published, but I saw influences that I hadn’t seen before. This post helps you overcome these instances.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Helping Authors: 

How Readers Surprise Me: Favorite Quotes: In an interview, I was asked how readers surprise me. This was the number one topic I have dealt with and how I’ve embraced it with excitement.

Why I Love My Facebook Author Page: Facebook is getting a bad reputation with businesses recently. This is why I still love it.

My Author Life:

Author Announcements (1): I received my diploma, hit 100 ratings on Goodreads, and my novel was voted for on NovelUnity.

Author Announcements (2): my 30-Day countdown began, the first review of Seconds Before Sunrise, and website changes.

Book Trailer Tuesday: Minutes Before Sunset now has a book trailer.

Other:

February’s Entertainment Reviews: I reviewed 7 movies, 5 novels, 3 playlists, 1 cooking recipe, and a dancing cat toy.

This photo reminded me of “shades” in The Timely Death Trilogy. Photo by ddictator.

This photo reminded me of “shades” in The Timely Death Trilogy. Photo by ddictator.

Help: I’ve Returned to an Old Piece of Writing, and I Can See Influences From My Past

20 Feb

Recently, I have truly enjoyed writing up my personal posts instead of focusing on writing or publishing tips. Sharing my story opened up a channel for me to hear your stories, and it was really nice getting to know more of you on a deeper level. If I continue this in the future, I hope to hear more from others. If you have an idea of a topic – any topic really – you can always comment below and suggest one. I will even credit your blog as the inspiration for the post. No matter what, thank you for reading and commenting. 

Today, though, I wanted to talk about a topic that is very much a personal twist on the writing spectrum. Yes, writing is always personal to the writer, but I wanted to discuss how certain writings can be influenced by a particular time in your life and/or how it can affect the writing process when you return to it later. The reason for this is simple: I’m currently going through it, and I wanted to talk about it in the hopes of reaching out to other artists who have experienced the same range of emotions I have,which include confusion, guilt, acceptance, and understanding.

If you follow my interviews, then you know I am already planning for which one of my novels will be published after Seconds Before Sunrise. (But I hope you’ll take a moment to check out Seconds Before Sunrise by clicking here.) Although readers might be expecting Death Before Daylight, I am moving towards publishing a new novel altogether before the last book of the trilogy. From this point on, I will be referring to this new novel as TMT.

When I went back to edit TMT, I found some surprises I wasn’t expecting:

There are some heavy influences that I could not see before. When I was originally writing it, I was in my freshman year of college. At the time, I could not see any correlations with my life in my science-fiction world. Now that I’ve been removed from the novel for a few years, I can interpret it more clearly. I can see old acquaintances in the characters. I can hear dialogue that sounds like a stranger I met. I can see where I mixed a scene together by blending a field by my dorm room and a forest by my old house. I can see my husky, Shadow, in the dog the protagonist cherishes.

This is Shadow - my buddy. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us, but he loved snow just as much as me.

This is Shadow – my buddy. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us, but he loved snow just as much as I do. (Probably more, of course.)

This was all unexpected, and – if I may be bold – difficult in many areas, because it brings up a lot of old memories I have since let go in one way or another. I believe this is a struggle many artists may face at one time or another. When we write in present time, we might not realize we have placed our friend in a novel as a protagonist’s cousin. Years later, after we’ve had a falling out with that friend, it is a struggle to return to the novel’s mindset where you must love that “cousin” you can now see was someone very real and dear to you but no longer is.

But it’s okay. There are many ways to accept these moments. They aren’t all bad. In fact, I would say most of it isn’t bad. As my posts normally go, I repetitively say, “It’s all about attitude.”

When you return to these older works, hoping to make them better, you can accept where the influences come from for what they are. Just accept them, and dive into it with the same passion you have today. Eventually, I have noticed that I am adding more influence from my current life into TMT, instead of letting my past life define it. It’s an interesting area to explore, because it’s the blending of me – my past, my present, and my future – and it brings a sense of serene acceptance.

Here are three thoughts that helped me through this:

A. Be prepared to feel this way. There’s nothing to be guilty or ashamed or feel any weirdness about. It’s natural. Think of it this way, it would be impossible to go sit in your high school parking lot without remembering a few times you were there. Art can be the same way. If you wrote it five years ago, don’t be surprised if memories from five years ago sneak up. It’s okay. Enjoy it, and change it if you want to.

B. You’re an artist – it’s bound to happen. You are inspired by life, after all.

C. If you are disturbed or upset, that’s okay, too. Put the writing down. Try not to be hard on yourself about it. The past isn’t always a place people are comfortable with. Write something new!

I actually asked about this topic on my Facebook Author Page, “Have you ever associated your novel (or a book that your have read) with a certain time in your life? If so, when you go back to edit it and/or reread it, have you seen influences you didn’t see before? Is this easy or difficult to comprehend and how do you think it affects the writing and/or reading process?”

Join me on FB, and your responses might be used next!

Join me on FB, and your responses might be used next!

Here are two fantastic answers,

The J. Aurel Guay Archive: “I wrote half a novel during a very transitional time of life. I set it down for several years and when I came back to it, I couldn’t find the motivation to finish it because I had progressed through that stage. I will finish it eventually, but it will change fundamentally as they open questions on which the novel turns have been answered in my life. I just can’t write it from the same frame of reference anymore. You can find a snippet here.”

Tanya Taimanglo: “My romantic comedy, Secret Shopper was cathartic for me. It resembles so much of my life, although I insist it’s fiction. (It is). The death of my father, elements of a bad break up and finding real love made its way onto the page. It was written years ago, and when I do reread it, I cringe at how much truth I allowed out there and I’m reminded of how much growth I’ve made. In some ways, it’s like a journal I’ve made public. I can’t undo it, just embrace its truth and move on.”

What about you? Have you ever returned to a writing and saw past influences you didn’t see at the time of writing it? How did you cope with it?

~SAT

It’s All About Perspective … Or Is It?

29 Jan

Announcement one: I did an interview with The Modest Verge. Not only was it exciting, it was also fun and informative. You can find out if I kill bugs or set them free, what I would be if I weren’t human, and – of course – I’ve dropped yet another hint about what Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy) will entail. So check it out here, and follow them on Twitter @themodestverge.

Second: if you follow My Facebook Author Page (I’m only 6 away from 2,000 – please “like” me without judging me on how desperate that just sounded. haha) then you’ve already seen this article by the fantastic Nathan Bransford: Wait. A first person narrative isn’t serious???

That’s what I want to elaborate on today.

I recommend you read what he had to say first (as well as the commentary) but I’ll pretend the link doesn’t work by quoting the line that summed up his rant, “Apparently there are literary agents and professors and all kinds of ostensibly rational people out there who think first person narratives are somehow unserious.” After that, he shares a list of fantastic novels – some of which are on my top 10 favorites list (like The Stranger and Never Let Me Go.) – proving how first-person narrative can, in fact, be serious writing. (On a side note, I don’t like the term “serious writing,” which you can read about here.) But I think that was also Nathan Bransford’s point. Who gets to judge what constitutes serious writing? Isn’t that up to the reader? But I wanted to talk about a few things you should consider when choosing a perspective:

I thought this was a good picture for “perspective.” Bogart likes art as much as me, but his kitty perspective is probably different than mine.

I thought this was a good picture for “perspective.” Bogart likes art as much as me, but his kitty perspective is probably different than mine.

1. Your Story – of course.

This is obvious, right? But I still want talk to about it. Depending on how you write a novel, you might know exactly what will happen in your plot the moment you sit down or you might not. This actually might be a problem to consider. If you don’t know where it is going, your perspective can be harder to choose. Analyze your plot and your characters – figure out who would best tell it, and remember: it might not be so obvious. (Think of The Book Thief’s narrator.)

2. Your audience

Although I try to avoid the stereotypical writing tips as the “right way to write” I think considering your audience is always important when starting a new piece. Doing basic research on what they are more likely to accept might help your novel and you out, but I am by no means encouraging you to change your novel based on what others say is “right.” If your research says you MUST do third-person, but you still feel like you should do first-person, I would say go with first-person. I’m a huge believer on following your gut and challenging the norm, but taking the time to consider your research seriously is always helpful and shouldn’t be completely disregarded. For instance, if you choose first in the situation above, be ready to explain to a publisher why your first-person perspective is worth it, special, and why readers will like it.

3. Your voice vs. your characters

For me, one of the hardest decisions I had to make was in a recent novel I wrote. The character demanded to tell the story in first-person, not to mention that she was the only one who wanted to tell the story. (Most of my stories are told in dual first-person perspectives, so it was unusual for my male protagonist to stay quiet.) Plus, there were events that happened when she wasn’t around, so I would lose them in the narrative (and I was really excited about writing them!) So I tried begging the male protagonist to also talk, but he refused. Then, I tried third-person, and she basically rolled her eyes at me and asked me why I was making her talk so funny. Ultimately, I knew I had to listen to her, and it worked out! So perspective can be chosen by someone other than you, too.

All in all, your perspective isn’t all up to you. (You are a huge part, of course) But your story, characters, and readers – in my opinion – can affect what the ultimate decision will be. Consider your perspective carefully, and if youre not sure, I would suggest writing the first three chapters in first and then doing the same in third. Ask yourself which one felt more comfortable, which one seemed right for the story, and hopefully the answers won’t contradict one another. If they do, try again by writing a few scenes in the middle of story. 

In the end, I don’t think your perspective is going to make or break your novel. Instead, I would concentrate on your writing – that will make or break it (hopefully, make it – because we’re positive over here.) As long as your writing to the best of your abilities, willing to grow, and moving forward, a perspective shouldn’t define you, and it shouldn’t stop you. It should guide you.

But that’s just my perspective on things.

~SAT

Donate to ShannonAThompson.com

Donate to ShannonAThompson.com

Writing Tips: Family Variety

27 Jan

Two points before we start on today’s topic:

The other day I realized I haven’t even hit the one-year mark of the release of Minutes Before Sunset, yet I’ve already had so much encouraging support. Because of this, I’ve added a Reviews page for The Timely Death Trilogy. Check it out, and you’ll see a variety of fellow authors and bloggers who’ve read it. Thank you for taking the time to write a review after reading!

This brings me to my other announcement. The Paris Carter reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, and you can read the entire review here, but here’s a teaser: “Shannon A. Thompson is able to hold your attention to the plot with a refreshing story than the average young adult novel filled with romance and a few over the top scenes. This novel focuses more on action and suspense than actual romance. This novel is great for anyone looking for a quick young adult novel that still has a great plot and characters.”

Today’s topic:

Everyone’s family is different. Some people have siblings, parents, and grandparents – some don’t. Some people are raised by their family, while others find all of their role models elsewhere. There are so many types of family members and how they all link together and work together. In one neighborhood, there are stepparents, adoptions, half-siblings, and uncles raising their nephews as sons. Variety isn’t just prominent in the physical relationships – it’s also in how someone decides to raise children or how family members interact with one another. Every family is different, and novels should show this – it will add believability, and it will also allow more of the readers to relate to the story. Below, I will share my experiences when creating different family types in Minutes Before Sunset and why I chose certain types for specific characters. (All pictures were created by FreeFlashToys – Stick Figure Family)

Instead of focusing on one family at a time, I am going to organize this post by different family types.

Stepfamilies: “It’s been calculated that about one in three of us is involved in a step-family situation.” - Net Doctor

I only have one of these in The Timely Death Trilogy, but it’s one of the protagonist’s families: The Welborns.

Eric’s family is probably the most complicated of all of the families. Before the novel, it was Eric, his father, and his mother. Then, his mother commits suicide, and his family remarries a number of years later. He then gains a stepmother – Mindy – and a stepbrother – Noah.

I wanted to show this for many reasons, one being that stepfamilies are very common nowadays. But there was also an emotional line I wanted to have in the novel. In Minutes Before Sunset, Eric struggles to understand his mother’s death as well as how he’s supposed to be connected to a family unrelated to him. I wanted this relationship to be symbolic to the division of humans and the paranormal creatures (in this case, shades.) This happened when Eric discusses how his stepmother and stepbrother are human, while he isn’t – causing a divide that both sides cannot see or  understand.

Eric Welborn’s family

Eric Welborn’s family

Single-Parent Families: “One out of every two children in the United States will live in a single-parent family at some time before they reach age 18.” – Health of Children

Single-parent families are defined by children being raised by a parent who has been widowed, divorced, not remarried, or never married. I managed to get all of these into the story, although we only see Eric’s father as a single-parent (widowed before he was remarried) in the first few pages. Jonathon – Eric’s best friend – would be the divorced situation. His mother left and never came back. Crystal – Jessica’s best friend – would be the never married situation. Her father is completely absent (and her mother isn’t around that often either.) Through their actions in the first book (and the next two to come) readers will see how their family situations have affected them. For instance, Jonathon is like a second father to his younger brother, Brenthan. But we’ll get into siblings in a minute.

Single-Parents Homes: Dad or Mom?

I know. I know. I just talked about this, but I wanted to add one more diverse part to consider: single-parents can be (and are) mothers AND fathers. Although it has been more common for mother’s to raise children alone, the single-father households are growing (according to this article by The Wall Street Journal.) This was personally something I couldn’t find in novels. I was in a single-parent household, raised by my father, and I remember wondering why I couldn’t find that in many novels when I was younger. Because of that, I was sure to have both situations in Minutes Before Sunset. The Hutchins – where Lola raises her daughter, Crystal – and the Stones – where George raises his two sons, Jonathon and Brenthan.

The Stones

The Stones

Siblings: 

There are so many different kinds of siblings, kids who are close in age and far apart in age, kids who only have sisters, and kids who have both sisters and brothers. There are step-siblings and half-siblings. But all of these types fall under siblings.

In Minutes Before Sunset, I have characters who have full-blooded siblings (Jonathon and Brenthan), half-siblings (Zac and Linda), step-siblings (Eric and Noah), and characters who don’t have siblings at all (Jessica, Crystal, and Robb.) But, like the other topics, having a variety is key to shaping a character’s personality and background, but their relationships can always change throughout the story.

Adopted: In 2008, 135,813 children were adopted in the US in all types of adoption – CreatingAFamily.Org

Like I said above, not everyone has parents or grandparents to take care of them. In this case, I wanted to show two different kinds: raised by adoption and raised by the community. After her parents died in a car wreck, Jessica was adopted when she was a baby. In another situation, Camille – Eric’s guard – was ditched by her parents. She was raised by the Dark as a community. She doesn’t have a traditional system at all.

Pets: Pet ownership in the U.S. has more than tripled from the 1970s – The Humane Society

I REALLY wanted to have them in the trilogy, but it just didn’t work out. However, there are pets in my other works. November Snow has a “pet.” Serena is constantly around a squirrel.

Pets was not the only thing I couldn’t include. There are so many types of families I didn’t have room for (military, grandparents, uncles/aunts, twins, etc.) But I am excited that readers will learn even more about the diverse range of backgrounds my characters have in Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy.)

After writing this, I want to add one more thing. 

BgoartReaders have different kinds of families, and it can often be difficult for readers when they can never find families similar to theirs in any novels. Personally, I had this problem growing up, so maybe this is why I try to add as much variety as possible. When I was younger, my family included my dad, my mom, and my older brother. At one point, we lived with my grandfather, but then, my mom died. A few years later, my father remarried. I had two stepsisters and a stepbrother. They divorced later, and it’s been my dad, my brother, and I ever since. (Although my brother is getting married soon – yay for sister-in-laws!)

I shared my personal story for one reason: different kinds of families aren’t uncommon. Changing family types isn’t uncommon. But I think variety can sometimes go unnoticed in novels (either by the reader or the writer.)  This is my attempt to share why I try to include variety – I think it’s important for both readers and writers – and I hope you’ll consider adding more variety and/or sharing how you’ve already added variety in your novels.

~SAT

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