Tag Archives: aspiring writers

World Building: Where to Start, What to Consider, & How to End

17 Jul

I mainly write science fiction and fantasy, and both of those genres tend to come with heavy world building. A few of you have asked me where I begin. How do I start? How do I know when to write? When does world building end? Well, if you read my editing tips series, then you probably know my answer to most of this.

I don’t think it’s that important to have your world building down in your first draft or while you’re outlining. Why? Because you don’t know everything your world needs yet in order to tell your story. All that matters is having your world building down by the end of your drafts. That being said, I tend to spend more time on initial world building than I do with character profiles or plot outlines. Why? Because my world will affect my characters directly—and that tends to be when I start writing.

That’s right. I begin most of my stories with a scene or an idea, and then I world build…and I keep building until the world affects my characters directly. Then I start to write.

So how do I build my worlds?

Extra tip: World build together. Try to explain your world to a friend. If they ask questions you can’t answer, find an answer.

Well, let’s start with the foundation.

Think of the basics. Where are we? What is the climate? Is it temperate, freezing, humid, etc.? What are the seasons like and which season/s is your story taking place in? How does this location relate to the locations around it?

My favorite place to start is clothes. Why? Because clothes tell us about societal structures—like income class, careers, etc.—and also about the land/weather patterns. Are they wearing cotton? If so, where does the cotton come from? Who collects the cotton and uses that cotton to create clothes? How much does it cost, and who would wear it? Example: Throughout history, the upper-class generally wore clothes from far away to emphasize how rich they were; those clothes were expensive because of how far the materials had to travel (and how expensive the upkeep was.)

The next element I consider the most is water. Why? Because water is essential for life, including animal life, which means you’re looking at how people eat, clean up, make medicine, etc. Not to mention that water, like rivers and lakes, have been used as natural borders for a long, long time (along with mountains). So where does the water come from? How were borders decided? Start thinking about other natural materials on your land. What materials are used to make buildings, for instance?

Now time: What year is it, and how does that year in particular define your character/s? I tell new writers to at least understand their main characters and their family structure for three generations back. This information doesn’t have to go into your book, of course, but knowing where your protagonist came from, including how their parents raised them and why, will help you shape their family unit and beliefs. This brings me to my last two topics: Religion and language.

  • With religion, personally, I think the most important part of a person’s religion can be summed up in their burial practices. Start there. Most of the time, burial practices relate to how that person sees life, death, and how both their life and their death is connected to the land. This includes if your characters don’t have a religion at all.
  • When I am building a language, I focus on two elements first: How do people curse and how do people say I love you. Why? Because humans are built on emotion, and hate/love are the two strongest emotions and the biggest umbrellas of emotion out there. By finding out how they express those emotions, both as a culture and as an individual, you can start to shape everything in between.

Please keep in mind that this information—like where materials come from—doesn’t have to be explicitly stated in your book. In fact, I can’t recall a time where I talked about where water came from in most of my books. But it can help to know the simple, basic elements of your world. They are your foundation, after all. And the stronger your foundation, the stronger the rest of your world building will be. In fact, I only covered where I begin. I didn’t even get into magic systems, for instance. (Another favorite topic of mine.)

Build and keep building. Don’t be afraid if you feel intimidated, and don’t get frustrated when your world contradicts itself or doesn’t make sense at all. You have all the time in the world to…well, build your world. Take your time. Take notes. And enjoy the journey of discovering a brand-new place that your characters—and you—will call home.

~SAT

Managing Multiple Projects at Once

3 Aug

Announcements:

I’ve updated my publications picture! You can see it around my website, including my pages: About Me and Novels.

update

Managing Multiple Projects at Once

Okay. So here’s the truth. I’m not an expert on this topic. Personally, I’m struggling with this right now. While I’ve never found writing numerous books at the same time difficult, I do find marketing one book while writing another difficult, especially when they are in different worlds entirely. Maybe it’s the way my brain wires cross. It just doesn’t work. It hurts my cranium. My mushy muscle master feels…well, mushy. So here are my tips that I’ve come up with for others who’ve struggled like I have.

1. Set aside a time for each project:

Maybe you spend the morning writing and the evening marketing. Separating the two can help keep your mindset in check, and eventually, you mind will adjust to expecting this schedule, so it will be easier to focus on what you’ve scheduled to focus on. I do this with work. When I wake up, it’s email time. When I eat lunch, it’s marketing time. When I finish dinner, it’s writing time. I even have my breaks scheduled, and those breaks help my mind flip over to my next task. Hardcore? Maybe. I’m on my schedule right now. I blog right after dinner and right before I focus on writing books. But it works for me, and it’s important to find what works for you.

2. If you don’t want to dance, get off the dance floor

What does dancing have to do with writing? A lot. Because this is a metaphor. If you just can’t get in the mindset of Project A because you’re still focused on Project B, that’s okay. Work on Project B, try not to worry about Project A, and move forward productively. If you continue to beat yourself up, you’re not going to get anywhere with anything. In this metaphoric world, you’re just going to stand in the middle of the dance floor, contemplating whether you want to do the jive or the twerk without realizing you’re at a disco. But who cares? You can dance however you want to.

3. Step Away, Clear Your Head, and Take Care of Yourself

I shouldn’t have to explain this, but I do because this is the biggest problem I – personally – have. I’m obsessive in nature in an unhealthy way. Seriously. I can admit this about myself. When I have a deadline I’m worried about, I forget to eat, and when I do eat, I don’t eat well. I drink too much coffee, and the tangles in my hair become so bad that Medusa’s snakes would be terrified of me. But I’m learning, and I’m getting better at closing my laptop, Weebo, before my vision gets blurry. I go to the gym, I buy a goddamn sandwich, I see friends, I laugh, and I don’t think about my books. I might have to force my book thoughts away, but it’s worth it because I am refreshed when I finally sit back down and get to work.

Speaking of which, I’m about to sit down to work on Death Before Daylight. We’re about 30,000 words into the content edits, and I’m hoping to have the manuscript out late this year or by early next year. But I hope you enjoyed these tips. If you have any tips for managing multiple projects at once, feel free to share them below! I could always use more help, and I’m sure all of us writers would appreciate the ideas.

~SAT

My Week as an Author: the Many Ups and Downs

18 Jun

If you follow my Facebook page, then you’ve seen the events that I am about to talk about, and you saw them happen to me in real-time. (What can I say? Facebook is my go-to place to speak to you all live.) But if you don’t follow my Facebook page:

1. You missed out on all of the crazy events that happened this week.

2. You should be following my Facebook page. (I post entertaining stories, things that make you laugh, and the occasional interview. I even give away prizes, like guest blog post opportunities. I promise.)

So today I am sharing all of the crazy events that happened to me this week and how they affected me. Some were fantastic and others took my little ego down a notch. Why am I sharing this? Because readers are often sending me questions about what it is like to be an author. In fact, ever since I posted The Pros and Cons of Being An Author, one of the main questions I get asked is what my life is like and how I’ve dealt with ups and downs. And this week is a perfect example of how hectic, crazy, lovely, and insanely exciting it can be to be an author. (Did I mention soul-crushing and absolutely uplifting as well?)

Hopefully, these ups and downs that I went through will give insight to those who are curious about my author life and authors in general, but remember: no matter what, you must stay positive and believe in yourself. You’re following your dream after all.

The events are listed in the order that they happened:

I received a rejection for my poetry collection:

That’s right. I get rejected, too. Just because you’ve been published before, even in the same genre, does not mean you’ll be accepted everywhere you go. In fact, I’ve been rejected dozens of times, especially before I got November Snow published in 2007. A few months ago one of my favorite literary magazines – The Normal School – opened up their submissions for their fifth annual poetry competition. My collection didn’t make it. If I had to be completely honest, this is the second time I’ve been rejected by them. (The first time was a nonfiction piece.) But I am definitely going to keep trying! Even though every rejection hurts a little, you have to find the strength to fight back. One of my goals is to beat my fear of publishing nonfiction, so I’m working on getting at least one essay published within the next two years. Having a goal helps me accept rejection as the next step toward acceptance. That might seem backwards, but – to me – having a goal reminds me that I haven’t given up and how I won’t give up. It keeps me focused, and it prevents me from dwelling. When one door closes, it helps you move onto trying to open the next door in the hallway of life. In fact, on this exact same day, a door opened to me:

I received an acceptance letter for my short story:

On the same day I received a rejection, I received an acceptance. A few hours passed between the two, but I was glad I remained positive because I was able to be fully excited about this moment instead of allowing the rejection to taint my positive moment. The short story is slated for release in August of this year, but that’s all I can say for now.

I hit 20,000 words in Death Before Daylight

I mention this for many reasons, but here’s the main reason. It wasn’t a letter I received. It was a result of my hard work. If I allow myself to get distracted by the rejection, I might not have met this goal. It might have set me back a few days. Is that really worth it? I don’t think so. Staying focused on achieving the next step of my future publication is vital to enjoying my writing career. I’m not saying that a writer can’t take a day or two off to feel sad, but writers have to get back up again. For me, I don’t enjoy taking days off. It makes me feel like I’m letting disappointment control me, and I don’t want disappointment to control me. I want my dream to guide me. So I dove right back into Death Before Daylight the second I had some time off of work, and I met a goal I’ve been dying to meet. Plus, I thought fans of The Timely Death Trilogy would enjoy some news. If you’re on my Facebook, you also saw this little teaser:

booknews

I received my final edits for Take Me Tomorrow:

If you haven’t realized this, we are SUPER behind in meeting the publication deadline, so I’ve been biting my nails off. I practically don’t have any right now, but receiving the edits releaved all of that stress – which means that I had a moment feeling a little ridiculous for being so nervous about the edits in the first place. They were going to come no matter what. Worse case scenario, the publication date gets pushed back a little bit, and that’s not a tragedy at all. It’s still coming out after all. I wanted to share this because it shows how a negative focus can disrupt the overall positive experience of getting a novel published. Don’t be like me. Enjoy these moments fully because – when it’s all over and done with – you’re going to have your novel in your hands, and you’re going to want to look back and forward with a smile on your face. You’re working hard! Enjoy that work.

Amtrak Residency program sent me a rejection notice

I’m sure you’re probably starting to realize how often I apply to different events as a writer. Sure, I’m focused on my novels, but I’m also focused on gaining more from different experiences. I applied for this a few months ago. Basically, Amtrak allowed writers to apply to travel on their trains for free as they blogged about their travels. I love traveling. I love writing. It was perfect for me. But – alas – I am not perfect for Amtrak, and that’s okay. Applying isn’t about being a perfect writer for everyone. Being a writer isn’t about being perfect at all. It’s about loving all the adventures that open up to you. I can always apply next year, apply to other programs, and travel on my own. A rejection doesn’t stop me. Only I stop myself. It’s safe to say that I’m not stopping anytime soon. Or ever. (Probably never. Scratch that. I’m never going to give up. Ever.)

A radio show contacted me for an interview in July

Literally – two hours passed from receiving my Amtrak rejection to receiving the most delightful call of my week. A popular author radio show contacted me, and they want to interview me. Can you say, “EEEEEEEE!”? I know. I actually had to hold back from screaming out in delight over the phone. We’re already working out the details, and they’re recording the show in July, but that’s all I can say for now. (More news to come soon!) But this is another instance of how important it is to remain positive. After all, you can’t be crying to your cat about your rejection when a radio host calls you with an offer. That would be awkward.

from Pinterest

from Pinterest

In the end:

As you can see – negative things can happen, but positive ones can follow them within minutes, and it’s important to stay positive so you can receive that positive energy. (Did that sound hippy enough for you? If not, picture me throwing up a peace sign. I also have a flower in my hair. It is pink.)

It may have been a strangely bizarre and eventful week. I practically got whiplash. But it was an important week, and it was a great week, and I am going to continue to have great weeks as long as I focus on the positive directions that open up to me.

To all authors and aspiring authors, enjoy this ride. It’s sure to be a wild one full of adventures you might never see coming.

~SAT

Getting Unstuck as an Author

21 May

Shannon, here, for one announcement: I’ve joined Pinterest as well. You can join me by clicking here. I have boards for The Timely Death Trilogy, November Snow, and Take Me Tomorrow – as well as boards for cats, coffee, and my crazy imagination. There might be some spoilers, but I try to keep it to a minimum. Think of it as “behind the scenes.” I hope you like them.

Now – for today’s guest blogger: Hanne Arts!

Sometimes when I’m writing, I get stuck on a sentence or an idea, or I simply give up altogether and procrastinate instead. Everything seems better than to fight through the obstacle at that time.
 It is, however, necessary to fight through that brief “down.”

Every writer has them, and every writer deals with them differently, yet here are a couple of tips that I personally find very helpful. It might help you along the way as well!

1) Write (about) something different.

I often find myself staring at my computer screen or getting frustrated over not finding the perfect words. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to acknowledge that fighting with the same strategies will not always work. If you apply the same principles, the same problems will pop up again! If you try something entirely new, whether this means throwing the old manuscript out the window, giving it a twist, or momentarily focusing your attention on a new (practice) story, certainly try it out! A new approach will bring freshness to the story. Furthermore, “writing something different” does not even have to be content-related. Maybe you just need to write in a different style, genre, or with a different voice. The more you try, the more smoothly the words will come to you later.

2) Change your environment or approach.

Changing your setting or writing area can entirely change your writing and consequently spice things up. Moreover, it might get you unstuck. If, for example, you usually write in a quiet room, try going out to a café and writing there. You might get entirely different ideas and inspirations, and, on top of this, it will enable you to observe the people around you. I sometimes also choose to write by hand rather than my usual typing, and this sometimes helps me produce ideas and keep going.

3) Write in a different order.

Usually I start my story with either an ending or beginning in mind. I then fill in the pieces in between. This, however, is simply one way of doing things. You could just as well know the plot and then create a start and end, or you could start with a mere scene in mind. If there is a scene that is currently vivid in your head, write it first before the idea gets lost by the time you get to it!

4) Read your favorite book(s).

Read books you like that inspire you because, quite simply… they inspire you. Ask yourself why you like the book(s) and apply it to your own work. Wouldn’t you want to have the same effect on other that that author has on you?

5) Relax.

If you currently have no inspiration, no sweat. Focus on other things and experience life. Later come back to your writing and view it with new ideas. You’ll have new ideas and new motivation. Nobody feels inspired all the time (for me it is often not there at all, but when it is, I cannot stop writing for days and days on end). If you don’t feel like you can take a break from your writing or you have a deadline to make, then simply put yourself to writing something each night (or morning – whenever you usually write). This will put you in the right mindset and make you more fluent and time-efficient in the future. (You could even try timed exercises to further train and challenge your brain.)

– Hanne Arts

Hanne Arts can be found here, but here are more of her blog posts:

30 Writing Prompts

The Seven Best Tips to Fight Writer’s Block and Writer’s Jam

9 Common Writing Problems…and Their Solutions

6 Basic Guidelines to Make Your Book Work

5 Mistakes that Authors Make that Lose Their Readers

 

 

Writing Tips: The Five Senses

18 Mar

Special thanks goes out to actress, director, and dancer, Gracie Dzienny, for quoting my first novel, November Snow, on her Twitter. She is known for her work on Nickelodeon’s Supah Ninjas and multiple shows on AwesomenessTV. Visit her YouTube channel by clicking here.

Grace

 

nice

“This is a story of forbidden love, hidden love, and a war of love.” Find out why Endless Reading said they can’t wait to read Seconds Before Sunrise in the latest review of Minutes Before Sunset by clicking here.

I wrote this post in a way I don’t normally do so. Below, I ranked the five senses from easiest to hardest in terms of including them into a story – which was a task in itself because I kept questioning my order – and then I choose a random chapter in the middle of two of my novels – Seconds Before Sunrise (SBS) and November Snow (NS) – to tally my use of the senses. So the tallies might seem contradicting because I wrote the post before I collected the tallies to see if my perception was the same as my reality. Then, below that, I have a quote from those of you who commented on my Facebook author page.

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

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

But I want to add one last thing: there are many novels that do not include one or more of these senses for many reasons, mainly novels that cover blindness or deafness. Although those novels are very strong, I am dealing with the average novel that cover all senses in order to explore which senses are the most and least difficult to use so that we can analyze our styles together in order to improve in our five categories. But I want to thank those writers who have written novels with blind, deaf, or other protagonists in those various fields, so thank you.

#1 Sight

I’m not sure many will argue this being the easiest, especially if the novel is in first person. We see from the character’s eyes – and we see a lot. Whether they’re looking at road while driving or searching a library for answers, their eyes are working to keep the story moving forward.

Tally: Since both of my novels are from first perspectives, I decided not to tally this one at all because it’s practically every other sentence.

Paul Davis: “Sight is the easiest by far. I think it’s really easy to forget touch and smell.”

#2 Sound

I decided to forget about dialogue in order to really study this sense in reading and writing. If I included dialogue – just hearing someone speak – then this would probably be like number one, but I thought that was too obvious. However, I am including the way someone’s voice sounds, but I mainly wanted to hear thunder or creaking doors or a television rattling on a stand as a train zooms by an open window. Because of this, I did not include dialogue associated sounds in the tallies.

NS: 11: “Trees brushed against each other to the never-ending music of the crisp, November wind.”

SBS: 6: “…a rush of sounds consumed my senses.”

Alexis Danielle Allinson: The easiest I think is sound as we are taught to familiarize a sound with a distinct description from an early age.

#3 Taste

I think this was the first one I wrote down. For me, taste isn’t necessarily the hardest sense; it’s just the least likely used. A character needs to be eating or kissing or in an accident or a vampire or something along those lines to be reminded of taste.

SBS: 5 “I opened my mouth to speak but spit blood out instead. He wiped it away, but I tasted it.”

NS: 2 “A stream of salty water drove down my cheek to my lips.”

Alexis Danielle Allinson: Taste is the hardest as everyone does this different from each other.

three

#4 Touch

At this point, I have moved the five senses around on my list so many times that I don’t even know if this is where this sense originally started, but alas – this is where it ends up. For me, touch is a debatable and difficult area. Sure, characters can “grab” something, but that doesn’t necessarily make it “touch.” I feel like touch must be how rough a surface is, how cold someone’s skin is, how gravel coats hands with powdery dust. Touch isn’t a verb. Touch has texture or a sensation. 

NS: 13 “My lips were still tingling.”

SBS: 8 “The suffocating air was filled with electricity, and it burned against my exposed flesh.”

Aurélia Evangelaire: And still as a writer, the easiest sense for me to use is touch. I like the feeling of things under hands and I love to describe it.

#5 Smell

Oh, god. This exercise is not easy. At this point, I realize I didn’t know how hard it is to choose which sense goes on what ranking. You think you do until you try. It was really difficult to choose the most difficult, but I finally went with smell because smell, in many ways, is like taste. It’s limited in the sense (haha, see what I did there?) that it’s difficult to include this sense without it seeming forced. It’s often rare moments a character takes the time to “smell the roses.” Just like real people, their lives are hectic – they may even be chased around by enemies – and it’s often the slower, more intimate moments that they have smell. This goes to say that I just had another instance where I realized how the senses change dramatically over genres. I feel like smell, taste, and touch are much easier and more important in romance, especially erotica, but those same senses may not be at the top for things like sci-fi, especially if they are in a space suit that prevents all kinds of smells.

SBS: 11 “The smell of smoke broke through the blood dripping from my nose.”

NS:5 “The rusty smell of whiskey split the air.”

Phillip Peterson Smell, I think, is the easiest and most useful. It’s more of an all-encompassing scent to the scene, which, if done well, can most effectively put the reader into your world (as smell is the most connected to memory).

ts

Those are my five senses as well as a few other writers’ senses.

It was a fun exercise to write down what I thought about the five senses before going through my novel to tally away. In the end, this allowed me to see the difference in my perspective and in reality. (Like how I used smell a lot more than taste.) I definitely recommend writers try this out themselves. I realized quickly that senses change dramatically from novel to novel. For instance, the setting in November Snow is very dirty and dangerous, so sound and touch were actually HUGE. Taste? Not so much. But Seconds Before Sunrise was nearly the opposite. Then again, these were only passages. It would take me weeks to analyze the entire novels, but I still think this is worth it.

You must be tempted by now.

You must be tempted by now.

What about you? Did you try this exercise? Do you have certain senses you use more? Ones that you avoid? Were your results different than what you thought they would be?

Comment below!

P.S. “Look Inside” of Seconds Before Sunrise is now up on Amazon! Check it out by clicking the book cover on the right 😀

~SAT

You Have Committed Copyright Infringement

24 Feb

Three announcements before I talk about a REALLY important issue in the art industry that I recently – and very personally – experienced. Normally, this day is reserved for “Website Wonders.” But I have made an exception. You can expect February’s Website Wonders next time, but I hope you will read what I have to say today.

  • Inkwell & Paper reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy) and you should read her full review to find out why she said, “Shannon A. Thompson will one day be a famous New York Times Bestselling author.
  • As if that review wasn’t marvelous enough – YA Book Reviews ALSO posted their review of Seconds Before Sunrise, because she “started this book today… and finished it today. This was the perfect addition to the first in the series. I loved the first one and found that I loved this one even more.” Read Aubrey Joy’s full review by clicking here.
  • And in case you’re just now checking in, don’t worry: The Book Babble interviewed me on the same page that the reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, the first novel of The Timely Death Trilogy. Click here to find out why I read medical journals or learn how my book is filled with imaginative characters, teen angst, teen romance, an intriguing plot, and parents who just don’t understand.”

Thank you to all three of these lovely readers.

So, today is going to be a rather serious day, because – as you can tell from the title – I will be writing about a legal issue: Copyright infringement. You know that little © inside the book? That. We’re talking about that, and we’re talking about that because it’s important for authors, writers, and readers. (I do not normally differentiate between writers and authors, but for the flow of this post, I am. Writers = unpublished, not copy written work, Authors = published, copy written work.)

If you follow my author Facebook page, then you already know what happened to me this week. I was emailed by one of my followers who then directed me to a few people who have used my quote in their recent writings – without my permission, without talking to me, and definitely without any label that told readers where the quote came from. In fact, they didn’t even put quotation marks around it. The writers have placed my quote inside their own prose and acted as if it is their own, violating the U.S. Copyright Law.

At first, I was shocked – I couldn’t believe it, but I couldn’t deny it either – and then I was mad – because I worked REALLY hard on my stories, but these writers caused their readers to think that my quote came from them – but, ultimately, I became overwhelmed with sadness, because I couldn’t fathom how a writer (who knows the struggles of writing) could do this to another writer (because authors are writers, after all.)

Aren’t we supposed to stick together? I know I try to help other writers, so that’s why I’m sharing my story. To be honest, I wasn’t originally going to blog about this, because I thought it was better to handle it in a silent matter, but I cannot stay silent because – sadly enough – this happens all too often. 

I’m sharing my experience because I need to. I do not want to get anyone in trouble, but it is difficult when someone is literally breaking the law by stealing what one owns. In fact, I’ve already taken measures with everything because I have to. I spent years writing my novels, and they were properly copyrighted for this exact reason. That is my right as an author, but I have to practice that right if it is going to mean anything. I cannot simply sit back and be “the bigger person” because that causes this to happen more and more and more. By sharing my story, I hope to show authors why they should take all necessary precautions in order to protect their work. I also hope to encourage readers to quote authors properly, but I REALLY hope that this post discourages writers who are blatantly stealing from others and acting as if it is their own. I will get to all of these points below.

Let’s start at the beginning:

If you follow my author Facebook page, then you saw this photo on Valentine’s Day:

1623667_642631199117398_1151912015_n

(Here’s the full quote, “I was falling in love with her, and she was falling in love with me. It was fated, decided before any of us were born, and I hated it as much as I loved it. I could barely stand it.” It can be found on Goodreads here. The reason I add the full quote is because the full quote is the one that was stolen.)

If I hadn’t posted this photo, I doubt I would’ve ever found out what had happened, because that picture is why my follower recognized the quote later on. This quote has been used on numerous websites in different books. Not just once. The writings were mainly fan fiction stories that are not focused on my novel or even my genre, but one person was charging for their story. On top of that, not a single person put quotations around my quote nor added a footnote that explained where my quote came from. Every single one was published AFTER Minutes Before Sunset was published as well.

Now, since I have already filed, it has been removed, but below is an image from a Google search that still shows one of them: (Just for clarification reasons: I am not trying to attack this person for using my quote, but it is an honest example. Please, do not harass them as I have already spoken with them.)

boys

You might notice that there was a very SLIGHT change in the quote. While I wrote “falling in love with her” this says “falling in love with him.” You will see another, similar instance below, where this writer simply changed the pronouns to names as well as first to third person:

india

Although Charles Caleb Colton once said, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, I still feel very strongly about this as an issue that is wrong, not to mention a violation of the U.S. Copyright Office. You cannot change three words in an entire paragraph and claim it is yours. In fact, that is what is called “close imitation” and that is defined as plagiarism. On top of that, I do not understand why a writer who has already written books themselves would steal from an author at all. No one wins here. Writers won’t gain their own voice by stealing, readers won’t know who they are even a fan of, and authors will be giving up a piece of them for free because everyone tells them, “It’s nice that they look up to you.”

You know what is nice? It’s nice when they look up to you and share it with people – not steal. There is nothing “nice” about stealing. That’s like me telling my neighbor who’s house was broken into that it was “nice” because the robber was envious of their things.

It’s not okay, and we need to speak out about it instead of pretend it isn’t happening all over the World Wide Web, so here are some things to do:

For Authors Who Want to Protect Their Novels:

Take the necessary precautions. This means getting your novel copyrighted. This also means taking action when your copyright is violated. This could either be contacting the writer and asking them to either quote you or to remove it. Hopefully, it was a mistake. If they refuse to do either (or even ignore you) take action. File when your copyright is violated. On most writing websites, there’s a form right at the top. Please, do not sit back and allow people to use entire paragraphs from your stories by placing them in their stories. (Just for clarification, we are not discussing quoting someone on Twitter. We are discussing someone trying to pass your writing off as their prose.) If we sit back, it will continue to happen.

For Writers Who Want to Use An Author’s Quote in New Stories:

Go for it – WITH permission. Visit the author’s website, try to send the author an email, ask them if it is okay and/or how the author would like you to go about using it in your story. The author might be excited for you to use it as long as you use a footnote or some other identifier. Remember that authors are writers, too. They understand how long it takes to write a novel and how hard it can be. Most of us will want to help you. We just don’t want to be taken advantage of either. Mutual respect is the key. In fact, here’s this to help you: “How Do I Get Approval to Use Other People’s Quotes in my Book.”

However, if you continue to do this, I just want to add one thing from the U.S. Copyright Office, “Under certain circumstances, the infringement may also constitute a criminal misdemeanor or felony, which would be prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.” There are criminal charges, but no one wants to do that to anyone. Stealing a few sentences isn’t worth it. You can write on your own. Just believe in yourself. 

In the end, this can be a sensitive issue, but we must face it together – writers, readers, and authors. Writers who have done this don’t want to get in trouble for it, but authors who have been victims of this don’t want to continuously be taken advantage of. As an author myself, I would help any writer who came to me and asked if they could quote me in their novel’s prose by either allowing something like a footnote or helping them find a way to word how they feel in their own words instead of just using mine.

We all share the same love for words. Just share the same love for each other.

~SAT

Minutes Before Sunset is on sale until book 2 releases March 27!

Minutes Before Sunset is on sale until book 2 releases March 27!

One of my “Lows” as an Author

12 Oct

Today I wanted to talk about something many artists–no matter what kind of art they practice–struggle with: lows.

We have them sometimes as often as we have “highs.” When I say “highs” I am talking about those moments where you feel on top of the world, like you’ve accomplished everything you’ve ever dreamed of, and when I talk about “lows” I am talking about those moments that often follow our “highs.”

For me, the lows that follow highs are the hardest, not because they are emotional but because they are difficult to understand. The day before, filled with a high, you feel confident and beyond excited. It’s almost paralyzing when a low hits you the next morning. I wanted to talk about the one that I struggle with the most in the hopes of helping other writers (or artists) understand they aren’t alone or strange to be confused about these highs and lows as I have felt before.

My hardest lows happen when I finish a book.

As many of you know, I finished Seconds Before Sunrise recently. Granted, I “finished” writing it in high school, but the finalized version is MUCH different than the original, not because my publisher has asked me to change it, but because I decided to change a lot. I’ve grown up a lot since I first wrote it, I’ve learned a lot about writing, so I practically rewrote the entire trilogy when it was signed with AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. Therefore, I’m still experiencing the “high” of finishing it, followed by the “low” the day after.

The low comes from the realization that the novel is over. The creating is done. The adventure has settled, and it’s ready to be shared, but I’m no longer traveling within words, and it takes me a while to get into another novel afterwards, because it’s hard for me to let go of my previous work.

So what do I do to cope with it?

Previously, I’ve talked about going back, reflecting on my childhood or another time where my love for writing was a little more pure, naive to the changes that must be made when an artist grows into another stage of being an artist. And it helps. This is why I decided I wanted to share the piece of me that got me out of my recent “low.”

14 years old and reading as usual

14 years old and reading as usual

I was 14 when this photo was taken, which, roughly speaking, is when I started writing Seconds Before Sunrise. (Remember, I wrote Seconds Before Sunrise before Minutes Before Sunset.) I had yet to publish November Snow, and I was still dreaming of the day I could hold my published works in my hands. Perhaps this is why I held onto a “Personal Profile” my freshman English teacher had us fill out on my first day of high school so she could get to know us better. Below are the two answers that brought my author love out of that low: (excuse my handwriting; it hasn’t been right since I broke my left hand and had to switch to my right hand)

20131010_193544 20131010_193555

When I read further, I was asked what my greatest goal was, and I said “to publish a book.” The perfect gift for me would be “a Barnes & Noble gift card” and when I get older, I wanted to be “an author.” I also said my favorite quote was “An ambition is a dream with a V8 engine” said by my favorite singer, Elvis Presley. I realized my dream was my focus in this questionnaire that I’m sure no one expected me to keep as one of the most important documents I have today.

I talked about my dreams, and, at the time, I kept it to remind myself of my goals. Since this was August 18, 2005, I was completely oblivious that November Snow would be published two years later or that Minutes Before Sunset would be published in 2013.

Today, this paper still reminds me of my goals, which I think is beautiful thing. In a sense, my 14-year-old self can still cheer me on. Even more important, I am reminded that I can cheer myself on by believing in everything I’ve done throughout the years. I may have been scribbling down answers as fast as I could (because who likes to spend hours on homework) but I still knew what I desired most: to live my life pursuing what I love most–writing–and I did.

As I continue to follow this dream, I have added more goals to my writer’s dream. Back then, all I wanted was my published book in my hands. Today, I want to help other aspiring writers achieve the same dream, and I also want to encourage other people to follow their dreams, no matter what it is. I want to challenge archetypes and stereotypes in literature. I want to depicts characters young adults today can relate to, learn from, and grow with. And I’m doing this by having the goal of challenging myself. In order to do this, I have to believe in myself, even in my lows, and I do, which is something much easier to write than to actually do. But, nevertheless, I know I’m not alone in this and no artist is alone in this.

We’re going to have days we’re on top of the world, and we’re going to have nights where we’re not sure if we should continue pursuing our dreams the next morning. But we get up anyway, because we know we can’t stop, because we can’t stop passion. We can’t stop a dream.

The point of this post has became less about my “lows” as an author and more about how we can stay in that “high” by reminding ourselves of what matters: happiness. And I hope this helps others find a place where happiness already resides: in our dreaming hearts.

~SAT

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