Tag Archives: Authors

Authors Can Change Their Mind

14 Aug

I’m a blogger, but I’m also an author. I love to write about writing, and I love to help fellow writers. Why? Because I didn’t have a lot of help back in 2007 when I was first published. There wasn’t as much information online or writers groups at the tips of your…keyboard. I mean, you’re talking about a time without Facebook or Twitter. So, I struggled a lot. I made a lot of mistakes…and I still make mistakes.

You see, blogging as an author can come with some controversy.

Times change. Ideas change. People change. And my opinions have shifted a lot over time.

And we have so many ideas to change!

For instance, I wrote a piece about sex in YA five years ago. I was adamantly against it, mainly because I think young people are already under too much pressure. To be honest, I still think there shouldn’t be overly graphic scenes of sex in YA, but that’s just my opinion. And, quite frankly, I have a beef with my opinion. (Yes, I have arguments with myself.) I mean, I have violent scenes in my books. Why not sex? Granted, don’t get me wrong, I’m still not there. I prefer to keep sex out of my young adult books. But that’s just me. I wouldn’t stop other YA authors from exploring these topics, even though—five years ago—I was strongly against it. (And this is just one topic out of dozens I’ve changed opinions about over time.)

Basically, I wouldn’t judge an author on their past articles or opinions too harshly.

We are people. We grow, and we change, and so does our work.

Let us learn over time, and we can all learn together.

~SAT

P.S. If you ever stumble across one of my old articles and have questions, don’t hesitate to ask! I always strive to answer comments, no matter how old the article is. Thank you for reading!

Book Marketing Woes

31 Jul

Marketing is a word authors either embrace or want to stoke in the fire, but one aspect is universal: It’s necessary.

Whether you’re self-published, published with a small press, or published by a HUGE publishing house, authors have to take on some of the marketing efforts in order for their book to be as successful as it possibly can be. This could mean being present on social media, attending conferences, or purchasing ads. This could also mean spending more time marketing than an author would ever want to. In fact, I work as a social media marketer for authors and publishers. I know how much goes into it because I market all day long. So, trust me, I hear your woes…and today, we’re talking about them.

I’m only using this photo, because I love Scrabble, not going to lie.

I Don’t Like It

Many writers don’t. Unless you’re like me who has a background in marketing, many creative types struggle (or completely reject) the idea of marketing and publicity. And guess what? I understand feeling awful when considering a tweet schedule or a Facebook ad. My tips? Don’t overwhelm yourself. Stick to platforms you actually like. If that means you’re only on Twitter, fine. Tweet away. Stay off platforms you hate, because your readers will be able to sense it. Then talk about what you like. Love Outlander? Great! Write episode reviews. Join fandoms. Just be yourself. Marketing often comes down to just making connections and being you, not selling your book. I mean, who buys a book from a tweet that says “Buy this today! #mybookisawesome #linkbelow #IwannabeJKRowlingoneday”? No one. People buy books because they love that author or their ideas. Share you with the world. Related Article: Authors, Be Yourself

I Don’t Have Time

Just like writers who say they don’t have time to write, guess what? No one has time to write (or market). The key is making time. Even if you only have one hour a week, take that time to schedule your tweets for the rest of the week through Hootsuite or similar companies. Or just be present when you can. If you have the funds, hire a personal assistant to take some of the workload off of your shoulders. Personally, though, I only post when I can talk to fans. Example? If you take a really close look at my social media, you might notice that my photo posts are almost always at 3PM. Why? Because that’s when I wake up. (I work the nightshift.) My photos are generally taken the day before, so my posts are rarely “live.” However, I post when I can so that I can talk to my followers once posted. This also prevents my posts from interrupting my precious writing time. Example? If I post a photo of me writing at a café, I don’t want that to be live because I’ll use my writing time to talk to fans. But if I save that photo for tomorrow afternoon, I can use that photo and talk to them when I am available to chat (and protect that precious writing time while I have it). The key is figuring out what works for you (and when). Related Article: The Truth Behind an Author’s Instagram

Lack of Funds 

This is a big one I hear from clients and companies, and it’s such a big one because it’s essential to success. What do I mean by that? You need to know your budget, and you need to stick with it. If, for instance, your self-publishing budget for the year is $2000, but you spend all of that on ads, how will you buy cover art for your upcoming release? Where are you going to earn that back? Are you going to earn that back? Being honest about your financial situation is important. Advertisements and traveling can rack up a bill…fast. Be careful about what you spend and where. Apply for grants and scholarships. Volunteer at conferences. Ask for help from other authors. Example? Guest post on one another’s blogs or switch mailing lists for a day. It’s free and a great way to increase exposure. Keep your head up, and don’t let your lack of funds bother you. There will always be more opportunities, and support is all around you. Related Articles: The Struggling (Sometimes Starving) WriterHow to Create Book Teases on a Small Budget

Social Anxiety or Other Health Issues

Everyone’s health is unique to their situation. The key is trying to find outlets that are just as unique as you. Don’t automatically count yourself out. Research accommodations. For instance, if you have social anxiety or find leaving the house difficult, online conferences are now available (and growing in popularity). Don’t be afraid to reach out to the event coordinator if you’re interested in attending but you’re not sure how you can. Talk to fellow writers. And don’t feel guilty if you need to take time away from writing or social media to take care of yourself. Writing will always be there, and your health matters. You are awesome. You belong. Related Articles: Writers, It’s Okay to Log Out & Taking a Writing Break and Why It’s Important

I know there are a lot of issues that come up with marketing your book, but I hope this was a solid place to start. If you have any questions, feel free to ask! I’ll try to leave a quick tip. And if you have a topic you want me to cover, feel free to suggest one any time. I love hearing from you!

~SAT

First or Third Person? Present or Past Tense? How Do You Decide?

5 Jun

So you’re writing a book…but your book requires some decisions. Your narrative needs structure. And there are a million options to choose from. So how do you decide a perspective and a tense? What is the best combination for your book?

Let me start out by saying that making the choice to write in first/third person or past/present tense is different for every writer (and often every book). This decision might also differ from what an author prefers to read. For that reason, I wanted to look at this discussion from two different perspectives—as a reader and as a writer—and how I decide, so that you might be able to see how you can make that decision for yourself. Of course, there are a lot more options and specifications than I’m going to get into today. Consider this the basics.

First or Third Person

As a reader…

I love both first and third person. I honestly can’t say if I favor one over the other. As long as the novel is written well, I love the story, though I probably prefer third person for multiPOV stories, only because nailing numerous (and immediately recognizable) voices in first person is basically impossible. (Which I’ll explain below.)

As a writer….

I tend to write in first person. In fact, all of my currently published novels are in first person, though they are also in multiPOV first person…which I just called “basically impossible” above. (Because it is!) Both of my published series are written this way, but none of my recent, unpublished projects are, because UGH. First-person, multiPOV is hard! Nailing a unique voice for each character while staying in the moment is a constant battle. Right now, I’m writing my first third-person book, and I’ll be honest, I think I’m in love. Why? I have an unpopular opinion about first vs. third person. Strangely, I think third person is more intimate than first. Most would argue me, and I totally get it. The average first-person book truly gets into someone’s mind and feelings. But I feel so NARCISTIC in first person (with all the I, me, we, etc.) Because of that, I tend to avoid discussing feelings on top of a first-person point of view. But in third person. Boy, in third person, I feel like I can let those emotions fly. 

Present or Past Tense

As a reader…

I HATE present tense. LOATHE it even. I know. I know. That’s been the favored tense in YA since The Hunger Games. But it drives me nuts. While many have described past tense as sounding like someone telling a story (as if it had already happened), I actually find present tense to feel this way. “I jump over the fire and land on my feet!” sounds like something your uncle shouts around a campfire while telling his college-glory stories. I just don’t like the way it sounds. Present tense makes me feel like I’m being talked at rather than coaxed along. Past tense, however, helps me disappear into the story. That being said, some of my favorite books are in present tense. Don’t get me wrong. I’d never put a book down solely because of present tense, but it will make it a little bit harder for me to enjoy at first.

As a writer….

I write in past tense. In fact, I’ve never written in present, nor do I have the desire to. (But never say never, right?)

So how do I decide what to write in?

Honestly, I don’t.

When I set out to write a book, the POV and tense happen pretty naturally. Granted, there are some exceptions. For instance, I wanted to have Noah and Sophia tell my now-unpublished book, Take Me Tomorrow, but Noah—well, to be frank—is on drugs, and he doesn’t make a lot of sense (or he makes too much sense). So, he was cut out. It turned out to be Sophia’s story anyway. And though I tend to write in first person, my current project is in third person. (It’s actually my first serious project in third person.) Why is this one in third person? I have no clue! It just sort of happened that way. But I’m glad it did. The tone suits it perfectly.

Keep in mind…

First/third person and past/present tense are not the only options out there, and, quite frankly, these are just shells of your options. In third person, for instance, you have to choose between limited third or omniscient third (all-knowing). Then again, who says you have to decide? Some books combine different types of structures to write a book. RoseBlood by Anita Howard had third-person past for her male protagonist, while her female protagonist was written in present first. That way, you could immediately understand where you were and who we were reading about without stumbling. Your book’s options are unlimited.

So how should you decide?

Listen to your gut. Even if you write an entire series in first person and then realize it needs to be in third, I say go for it! Everyone’s writing journey is different, and though there are always trends to consider, nailing your voice is more important than trying to hit constantly-moving goalposts. There are pros and cons and limitations in both perspectives, but I tend to choose perspective/tense based on what the characters tell me to do. It happens overtime. I might not even know until I’m knee-deep in outlines. It might change, too. And that’s okay! Change happens at every process. Write how the book demands to be written. Try first, attempt third, experiment with both, and you’ll eventually find that natural point where you can’t turn back, because the words are endless. But that’s just my perspective. 😉

~SAT

An Author with Poor Penmanship

29 May

Recently, I sent out letters and signed swag to some of my super fans who attended an online release day party for my books. And like so many times before that, I found myself dreading writing the letters. Why? It’s simple really.

I am an author with poor penmanship.

Now, please don’t tell me “I’m sure it isn’t horrible, you’re just being humble,” because, seriously, I struggle to read my own handwriting…and it’s never going to get better, no matter how much I practice or try.

My story is a little strange, but here it goes.

When I was eleven, I was at basketball practice before school when I tripped and fell. The growth plate in my left wrist fractured pretty severely, but, for those of you who don’t know, at that age, your growth plate is malleable. And it didn’t show physical signs of injury. (No bruising, blood, etc.) So when I went to the nurse’s office to explain the pain I was having, she wrote me off and said I was trying to avoid a math test I had later that day. (This still blows my mind, because I was a straight-A student, and I’ve always loved math.) Nevertheless, she sent me back to class and never called my father. Fast forward twelve hours later, and I’m in excruciating pain when I get home. At this point, the school told my father, and he is medically trained, so he took me to the hospital. Problem was, the damage was basically done. My left wrist is still damaged today…I’m also naturally left-handed. So, I had to learn to write with my right hand, and it’s atrocious. Yes, I can write with my left, but it hurts, so I basically type everything. Conclusion: My handwriting is UGLY.

But I can’t exactly explain that story to my fans in every letter. I’m always anxious when I write letters to fans, because I’m afraid of what they’ll think. Will they think a four-year-old wrote them a note? Will my poor handwriting ruin the excitement of the letter for them? I see all these beautiful letters authors send to their fans and my handwriting becomes an insecurity of mine.

Then I got to thinking…Why do I have to have an excuse for poor penmanship?

 My handwriting doesn’t change my ability to write a story. Other than struggling to read my own notes sometimes, I’ve never felt at a disadvantage for bad handwriting because that’s silly. But I’m still insecure about it. I see my chicken scratches in books I’m signing for fans and I cringe at my letters to others, and I worry that they’ll judge my handwriting, as if someone with bad handwriting can’t possibly be a writer.

I’m trying to get over this insecurity of mine, but here I am, still frowning when I mail out letters. Maybe one day I’ll be 100% confident in my chicken scratches. Or maybe I will continue to love typing more than handwriting.

You see, I find typing beautiful.

I’m a typist. My mother was also a typist. In fact, she was an associate for a lawyer, who had poor spelling, so she was constantly typing and re-typing his documents. He also smoked a mint pipe, and I remember this fondly. (Why? I will never know.) But when I was sick from school, I would sit in the lawyer’s office, sipping Sprite, and watch my mother type and type and type.

As a kid, I remember watching my mom type like someone would watch a pianist play the piano. Her speed was rhythmic. I found the entire process hypnotizing. And this is before I broke my hand or became a seasoned writer. All I wanted to do was learn how to type. And when I was in college, I would calm down after class by re-typing my notes.

I find it easy to lose myself in the keyboard. I’m at home when I’m using the keyboard. And, for me, the keyboard is my form of expression. The keyboard gives me a voice, and I can’t imagine anything more beautiful than that—even envy-inducing calligraphy.

It would be nice to write beautifully one day…but I think it would be even better if I found a way to let me insecurity go.

I always have my keyboard.

~SAT

Book Release! Bad Bloods: July Thunder

10 Apr

Bad Bloods: July Thunder released today!  

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I hope you enjoy the latest addition to the Bad Bloods universe! As the author, I can tell you that you will meet TONS of new bad bloods. (My personal favorite is Skeleton. He was born a healthy baby boy, but he is slowly turning into a skeleton over time, defying all science along the way. He even emits a poisonous gas.) You will also see some of your favorite characters from the first duology in a new light. Because Violet and Caleb tell this duology, you might see…other sides to people you didn’t see before. Old questions will be answered as well. Ever wonder what happened to Robert? Or did you want to see how the people of Vendona transitioned under a new president? Those questions will be explored (and new ones will come up). Explore sections of Vendona never seen before, including Eastern Vendona, which has the sunken bay. And the characters will finally step into the Pits again.

Keep reading for prizes, an exclusive excerpt, and extras!

Bad Bloods: July Thunder

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Fourteen-year-old Violet has been called many things: a bad blood, a survivor, an immortal…now she has a new name—citizen. But adjusting to a lawful life is not easy, especially when she must live under the rule of the same officers who justified the killings of her flock only eight months earlier.
Segregation of bad bloods and humans is still in effect, and rebellious Violet steps into a school where she is not allowed. When the police get involved, things deteriorate quickly, sparking a new revolution at the wall separating the Highlands from the outskirts.
That’s when Caleb steps in. He might appear to be an average sixteen-year-old bad blood, but he has secrets, and Violet is determined to figure them out. Caleb knows who’s attacking the wall and why, but his true identity remains a mystery—and how he relates to Violet could shake the threatened city to its very core.
Together or not, a storm will form, a rally will start, and shocking truths will be revealed.

Exclusive Excerpt

While the Northern Flock had to be quiet to survive, the herd played music in order to live.

Caleb’s hand found mine. “Dance with me?” he asked, but I hated my answer.

“I can’t.” My confession came with my wrecked knee. With one gesture, Caleb seemed to understand, but as he turned his eyes to his herd—to Britney prancing around with Plato, to Kat covering her ears, to Yasir holding Hanna with his protective gloves between them—Caleb pulled me up to my feet.

“Let me do it for you,” he said, and then, he lifted me up and placed me on the tops of his boots.

As he swayed, I saw the sunburn on the tops of his cheeks, the sand in his hair, the sea salt on his skin. Then, his chapped lips as he managed a shaky smile. For once, Caleb looked disheveled, and I had never liked him more.

“That’s some crew you have,” he said, but I hadn’t noticed anyone else in the world around us until he spun.

Life-sized shadows—dozens of them—danced all around us, and I recognized their shapes as people I would always know. Blake and his teddy bear. Floyd’s stretched limbs, and Ami’s swinging braids. Even Adam’s speed.

Alive or dead, the shadows of every member of my own flock joined in on the dance of a herd, and my heart fluttered at the sight.

Losing control had never felt so great.

Neither had a storm descending down upon us.

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 EXTRAS & PRIZES

Enter to win a Clean Teen Mystery Box, including paperbacks, here

Love bad bloods? Check out the inspiration board on Pinterest to meet lookalike characters and scenic areas.   

FUN FACT: Violet might be the main character in this duology, but she was just a side character in the first duology. She also has a prequel story on Wattpad. Be sure to read her origin story if you haven’t already. She’s also related to The Timely Death Trilogy, and I hope you enjoy that connection!

On top of that, Bad Bloods: July Lightning releases May 1! So there’s practically no waiting to finish this series. If you read, please leave a review. (And if you want me to share your review, send it to shannonathompson@aol.com). I love sharing your reviews! (And I love hearing what you’d like to see in the next duology.) Little authors like me depend on your support, so I greatly appreciate every minute you take to share, read, and review.

Keep on being you.

~SAT

P.S. Check out my latest YouTube video, Bad Bloods Book Release Bloppers in which I make a fool of myself trying to thank everyone for reading Bad Bloods: July Thunder.

#MondayBlogs Weaknesses in Writing

26 Dec

Writers always have room for improvement. Even if you’re a New York Times Best Seller, you are growing every single day, and knowing what aspects to work on can definitely help your career.

How do you know what to concentrate on?

Be honest with yourself.

Most writers know what their weaknesses are. Maybe it’s those pesky fighting scenes (or kissing scenes). Maybe creating villains is really difficult for you, or world-building takes wayyyyyy too long (like five years too long).

We probably know where we need extra help, because it takes us more time than usual to overcome that particular obstacle…and that’s okay!

Understanding your weaknesses as a writer will help you overcome them and learn from them. So, here are some tips to figure them out, work with them, and beat them.

1. Make Lists!

While you’re writing, you’ll come across those tricky areas and struggle. Take note of where and how and why you struggle during particular times. Also take note of how you figured out the issues eventually. By forcing yourself to step away and reevaluate it, you’ll see more patterns, and you’ll be able to research or study that particular area until you no longer struggle as much. Want an example? I LOVE my side characters, sometimes a little too much, and while I can explore side characters, I often let them overshadow my main characters during the first draft. In the current book I’m working on, I have a note to tone down those subplots. That way, I don’t get out of control again. (And if I do, I have notes on how to fix it when I’m editing.)

Another list I love to keep outlines my crutch words. This includes words I use WAY too often and words I often misspell or just need to look out for in general. Crutch is actually one of my misspellings. I always use clutch instead. Why? I have no idea, but I know that I need to search for clutch and crutch every time I’m editing. I also search for all those pesky, repetitive expressions like smile, nod, frown, smirk, laugh, etc. There’s nothing better than finding out you used the word smile six times on one page and deleting them ALL before anyone else reads your Crest commercial…er, I mean, book.

writerweaknesses2. Read, Research, Practice!

If you’re anything like me, you might struggle with romantic scenes. (Seriously, I feel like a Peeping Tom every time I write a romantic scene. It really ruins everything for me, which is probably why most of my novels have very little romance in them. But moving on…) I know this about myself. I know to take my time on these scenes, and I realize I’ll edit them a hundred times over. But one thing that I find that fixes my issues more than anything else is reading. By reading, I will see how authors evoke emotions I struggle to explain. Whenever I come across a romantic scene in a book I’m reading, I definitely pay more attention than usual. I might even take notes on how and why it was a successful scene, so that I can consider how to utilize those tools in the future. This is where research and practice comes into play. Once you start realizing what works for you and others, you can try out your new skills on short stories or individual scenes. By writing and rewriting those areas you struggle in, you will start to feel more confident and comfortable over time. (Plus, we could always use another excuse to read.)

3. Remember One Thing!

Weaknesses do not make you a bad writer. Everyone has them. Yes, even J.K. Rowling. Maybe you have a bad habit of dream sequences or too many flashbacks or your villain falls flat every time. That’s okay! As long as you understand that these are issues, you can fix them. Look at it this way, isn’t it better to know about them, and be honest about them, than be oblivious or ignore the issue at hand? Writing is a journey. Some scenes will work perfectly; others might need more work. Take your time. Embrace the challenges, and prove to yourself that you can overcome them.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs Dear Readers, Harness Your Power

5 Dec

I want this book, but it wasn’t in the store. I wish I could find more books by this author, or about this topic, or with these types of characters. I want more inclusive books. I want diverse books. I want debut authors. But why is that book online and not in the store? Why doesn’t my library carry that one book? Really though, I’m asking one question.

What can I do to get this book?

Readers, I hear you. Trust me, I hear you. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard questions like these—and asked them myself at one point. But there is a solution.

How can you get the books you want on your shelves?

YOU.

You have the power. You have always had the power. And you can harness that power any day you want. How? Check out these tips below.

1. Don’t Be Afraid Of Customer Service.

Readers e-mail me all the time to ask if they can get my books in Barnes & Noble. (Yes. You can.) It’s on their website and on their shelves in various stores—but not always. If it isn’t on the shelf in your local B&N, that’s where you come into play. That’s where Customer Service helps. That’s where you ask them, and they order it in, and you get a copy, and the store takes note that someone wanted something they didn’t have on the shelf. The more you ask, the more B&N and other stores will cater to your needs. So make demands! Shout to them from the rooftops! Grab your pitchfork-pens and take over! (Okay. Sorry. Just kidding. But seriously…don’t fear customer service. They’re readers like you and me.)

2. Love Librarians

Libraries. Talk to them. Ask for books they don’t have. If you are able to help, ask them if there is a way you can get your favorites on the shelf. Sometimes, you can donate. Sometimes, they look into getting eBooks for you, too. A friend of mine even got a prerelease ARC from the library. There are a million options available in your local libraries, including getting your favorite authors to visit. (How cool would that be?) Embrace that library. Move in if you can. (Okay. That last bit was another joke…but it would be pretty fun, huh?)

Extra tips: Tell everyone you know about that book you love, including that random dude at the store. If you can wear a custom T-shirt with said book on it, even better.

Extra tips: Tell everyone you know about that book you love, including that random dude at the store. If you can wear a custom T-shirt with said book on it, even better. 😉 

3. Leave Reviews

I cannot tell you how many times I am standing behind a booth or a signing table and someone walks up, pulls out their phone, and checks out my books online…along with your reviews. I once had a very enthusiastic gentleman read a few of your reviews out loud…to my face…in front of a dozen other readers. (Thank goodness they were positive. I could’ve died from embarrassment.) Point is, your thoughts count. Your feelings matter. Take a minute to share them with the world. (But preferably not to my face at an event…unless it’s positive. Okay? I’m clearly fragile.)

Finally, participate in publishing events. Various publishers, agents, authors, etc., run events weekly, both through social media and out in the real world. (Gasp. The real world. *shudders away*) Whether you’re online or out and about, this is an opportune time to be heard, and trust me, publishers are listening. In fact, their job is to listen. They want to publish what you want. That is their end goal. So, don’t be afraid to speak up about topics, characters, settings, genres, etc. that you want to see. We are listening. (And probably writing notes down at the same time.)

So pick up your sword…err…your reading power! Request books, read books, and review books! You do make a difference, and us writers love you dearly for it.

~SAT

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