Tag Archives: Barbie

#MondayBlogs Writing With Barbie

13 Jun

Authors use various methods to write novels. Some of these strategies are popular, while others are simply bizarre, and two years ago I confessed one of my strangest approaches.

Barbies.

You see, I began writing what would be my first published novel when I was 11, and because I was 11, I loved to daydream with dolls. Instead of plotting with a pen and paper, I pulled out those Barbie dolls—the same dolls that told me I could be anything while I was growing up—and I assigned each one to a potential character. I played out scenes, I tested dialogue, I assessed locations, and I watched my book come to life…Well, a plastic life. And the results were pretty humorous.

Many of my characters’ physical descriptions were actually based on the dolls I used. You can see more of this in the original novel, but some of the characters changed in the remake. That’s right. I’m talking about my upcoming release, Bad Bloods.

Bad Bloods began as a game I played with my Barbie dolls when I was a kid.

Now, if you’ve read the original or even the back covers, then you might be concerned for 11-year-old Shannon, considering how violent the book is, but there’s no need to be concerned. (I think.) Today is meant for laughter. Today, I wanted to share that funny truth behind Bad Bloods, no matter how dark the story is. Even better, I still have these toys (and I definitely still use them to this day), so I’m sharing a few of them as well as small excerpts from Bad Bloods that prove this goofy aspect of my writing.

You’ve been warned.

A little background before we begin:

Bad Bloods in 35 words or less: 17-year-old Serena is the only bad blood to escape execution. Now symbolized for an election, she must prove her people are human despite hindering abilities before everyone is killed and a city is destroyed.  

Bad Bloods 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 two pictures. Read below for info on the characters, including a one-sentence background and a real excerpt from the novel. I’m also including a little note, explaining how my 11-year-old brain worked. Got that? Okay. I think I’m even lost, but trust me—it’s organized. I hope you chuckle as much as I did while writing this post! Traveling to the past can be a funny adventure.

theboys

Robert: 20, leader of the Southern Flock (hates hugs)

“Everything is fine.” Robert’s light voice didn’t match his stiff movements. When he ran a hand through his hair, his brown bangs stuck up. “But everyone needs to be quiet.”

11-y-o Note: Believe it or not, he’s not the antagonist. Sort of? Okay. Let’s go with antihero.

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

Daniel walked through the crowd, but it wasn’t much of a walk. It was more like stumbling and I had never seen Daniel stumble. Not once. Not even when he was fighting. But he was wearing the blue-and-white plaid jacket and it fluttered amongst the crowd of black coats and gray sweaters. He was practically asking to be arrested.

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

Calhoun: 57, Daniel’s mentor (kind of a hard ass)

Before I had the chance to knock, the door swung open and smacked against the brick wall. An enormous man filled the entrance. The muscles in his left arm were hard to ignore, but the sleeve that should’ve been tightly wrapped around his right arm was dangling at his side, limbless. Despite his injury, Calhoun wasn’t troubled one bit. A shotgun swung outside and pointed toward my chest.

11-y-o Note: So, my one-arm GI Joe helped create this character, but this character’s personality is very similar to my father. Though, my dad has both arms…and he’s not a vet. But I swear they are alike. You might also remember me mentioning Calhoun in Tackling YA in Diversity, where I explain how I went about writing a character with a disability.

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Michele: 17, mother figure of the Northern Flock (Her origin story is up on Wattpad: Read Michele)

But the most beautiful one was the woman. She was tall and willowy, with long white hair and gray eyes like mine. Unlike me, though, every part of her seemed soft, like a warm glow followed her around wherever she went.

11-y-o Note: I definitely kept her white hair, and the character is almost always wearing black in the book as well.

Ami: 14, member of the Southern Flock. (Hates being called “Ami.” Her name is Ameline Marion Lachance.) 

When I first laid eyes on the girl, she was dressed head to toe in pink. Her blonde hair was threaded back into intricate braids, and a bow sat at the end of the braids where the golden strands came together. When Ami cried, she swung her head back and forth, and the bow swayed like a pendulum, all neat and tidy like a present.

11-y-o Note: You can’t really see the doll’s hairstyle anymore, but it was there. I promise. I also used pink on this character a lot.

Tessa: 9, member of the Northern Flock (too small to crush on Adam, but apparently, all the girls like Adam…maybe I should’ve shared Adam…Adam’s origin story is also up on Wattpad: Read Adam)

I pointed to the girl with pigtail braids. “That’s Tessa.”

“So what?” Tessa said, looking over her shoulder at Adam, then to me, her earthy brown eyes matching her powers and her complexion.

11-y-o Note: Her hair, like Ami’s, used to be tied up, too.

The End.

On a serious note, I think writing can be explored in a million ways, and I love my shameless Barbie play. I’ve legitimately called my #1 beta reader complaining of being stuck and she has asked me if I pulled the Barbies out yet. Having a physical representation works for me. I definitely don’t use their descriptions in newer writings, but I wanted to keep what I could for the rewrite since this particular work was built upon them. Imagination shouldn’t be chained to rules. Find what works for you, explore how you want, and daydream until the end of time. Even if that means playing with dolls.

Original posted April 19, 2014

It actually has different dolls and characters, but some of those characters have changed, so I didn’t include them in this post.

~SAT

To everyone I met at BFest this week, thank you for coming out! 

I had a blast!

BFest2016

If you missed out, you can buy signed books from Barnes & Noble in Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, KS and in Zona Rosa in Kansas City, MO!

For you online readers, don’t forget that Minutes Before Sunset, book 1 in the Timely Death Trilogy, is FREE right now. (And book 2 and book 3 are available, so no waiting!)

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1:

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Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

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November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

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#WW My Next Publication: Two Books, Release Dates, and More.

11 Nov

Last week, I announced that I signed November Snow with Clean Teen Publishing, and as promised, I’m releasing additional information today. The original version of November Snow that was published in 2007 was 600 pages. That being said, the rewrite is actually longer than the original, so Clean Teen Publishing has split November Snow into a two-part series (and the split is awesome). That means November Snow is getting a new title. As of today, both books will be titled Bad Bloodswith part one’s subtitle being November Rain and part two’s subtitle holding the original title November Snow. For readers of the first version, November Rain will cover November 1, 2089 – November 10, 2089, and it’ll be around 60,000 words, while the second part will be around 80,000 words. (See? The book was really long, too long to be published as one.) I’m really looking forward to seeing November Snow transform, and I hope you are too! November Rain already has a release date too! November Rain is set for release on July 18, 2016. The eBook of November Snow will release one week later, but the paperback of the sequel will release that November. You will find the series synopsis below, and I’ll be releasing each individual synopsis within the next week (probably on my next Saturday post) . . . but if you follow the individual links, you can read them now. 😉

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If I can be perfectly honest, November Snow is the closest to my heart in regards to my own writings. The original version was written shortly after my mother suddenly died at the age of 44. I was 11. She was always encouraging my love for reading and writing, and when she died, a part of me was lost forever. I’ve kept that part of me (her, really) alive by writing. November Snow was that first step, that single promise, to make the most of my life and to make her proud.

That being said, the original publication wasn’t very professional. It was thrown together, unedited, and had very little oversight, other than from a 16-year-old girl with a dream (cough, cough, me). I could’ve used more supervision eight years ago, but alas, that wasn’t how my first publishing experience went. Because of that, November Snow has been off the market for years—almost the entire time since it’s original release—and I’m eternally grateful Clean Teen Publishing is giving me a second chance with my first book, a second chance at making my mom proud, a second chance at beginning again.

This truly is a gift.

And…of course…for those looking for more information…here’s a short synopsis for the two-part series, and some places with extra information. If you have any questions, let me know, and I’ll do my best to answer them!

thumbnail90Series Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Serena isn’t human. She is a bad blood, and in the city of Vendona, bad bloods are executed. In the last moments before she faces imminent death, a prison guard aids her escape. Back on the streets determined to destroy her kind, Serena meets a fellow bad blood, a boy named Daniel, and his past with his brothers is as equally mysterious as her connection to them. Unbeknownst to the two, this connection is the key to winning an election for bad bloods’ rights to be seen as human again. But Serena is the only one who can secure Vendona’s vote.

When the two unite, their accidental relationship becomes the catalyst for a twelve-year war to continue. Exposing the twisted past of a corrupt city, Daniel, Serena, and every bad blood they know will come together to fight and win, but very few of them will survive to see the day. Bad blood or human, a city will burn, and all will be united by catastrophic secrets and irrevocable tragedy.

Bad Bloods on: Facebook, Pinterest, and my Extras page.

Older articles relating to Bad Bloods (keep in mind, it’ll be referred to as November Snow):

Writing With Barbie

What I’ve Learned Rewriting a Seven-Year-Old Novel

This is an awesome question about bad bloods from Twitter’s @SiameseMayhem. She asked this when I was still writing it, so that’s why we’re talking about publication.

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~SAT

P.S. I wanted to give a shout out to Instagram’s lovely @bookprints for this wonderful post.

“I badly wanted a printed copy of Take Me Tomorrow by Shannon A. Thompson since I’ve read it as an ebook and I finally have one (signed!)!

Thanks @shannonathompson for making this happen and for the lovely note! There was also a signed ‪#‎bookmark‬ of the first book in The Timely Death Trilogy with it!

Please, go check this author out and give her books the love they definitely deserve!

One happy booknerd over here!”

safe_image.phpDuring my next newsletter, you might be receiving a Black Friday Sale for Seconds Before Sunrise book 2 in The Timely Death Trilogy, so be sure to sign up here, but if you need a head start on the first book and you just can’t wait for the others…

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1 (FREE)

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2

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Death Before Daylight: book 3

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April Ketchup

29 Apr

These are my favorite posts to write. I love numbers, so I love analyzing my stats and sharing them with everyone. If you’re a blogger, I hope my stats help you know how my website grows – what works and what doesn’t. This month, I want to clarify that I’ve been rather busy with getting my next manuscript – “TMT” – ready for next month’s announcements, so I didn’t have as much time as I normally do to read other blogs. I am a HUGE advocate of reading other blogs. It’s a great way to meet fellow writers, and it is vital to creating a fun environment for readers. (I will get into why I believe this later.) As usual, I have adjusted my Ketchup post to new insights. 😀 Enjoy.

Here is how my April Ketchup is organized:

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. I’ve added two new categories though: my guest blogger has their own spot, and I’ve linked to my YouTube videos since I just began a channel this month.

Big Moments:

lalunaMy poem – Regretful Memories – was published in LALUNA Magazine. When one of my favorite photographers asked for poets to submit to her new magazine, I never thought she would pick one of my pieces to be in the first edition. I did a reading of it on YouTube as well, but this was a big moment because I haven’t had any poetry published since 2012, and it feels really nice to be able to participate in the poetry again, especially during National Poetry Writing Month.

ShannonAThompson.com hit 15,000 followers. Ah! So exciting! I cannot believe how quickly this website is growing and how many wonderful people I’ve been able to meet because of it. My next two big moments include two of those great people I have been able to meet because of this blog:

David Congalton, writer of Authors Anonymous, contacted me after he read my review of his film. I already finished interviewing him, so you can expect to see his interview on here in May. In the meantime check out his film. It’s perfect for writers.

And Gordon Tredgold – author, speaker, and leader – quoted me on his website:

10155262_673875619326289_5424221285165146459_n …

Top Three Blog Posts:

1. Writing With Barbie: I never thought my confession would be so popular, but I am glad you like my Barbie dolls as much as you like me. Maybe I should keep my dolls out of storage and start playing with them again…

2. Why Writers Should Watch “Authors Anonymous” This is the post where I wrote about the movie, Authors Anonymous, that David Congalton and I will be speaking about this week. I definitely recommend seeing this movie, especially if you’re a writer.

3. Editing Tips: I shared some unconventional ways to go about editing, including how you can use a shoebox.

The Post I Wish Got More Views:

Behind the Scenes of The Timely Death Trilogy: I meant to share my 30-Day Countdown from March last month, but I finally found a slot this month. I included new games and excerpts, too. Plus, I love talking about my books with readers, and I love sending out fun games about it even more. (This post even includes new hints for TMT!)

Other Blog Posts, Organized by Topic:

My Poem, Regretful Memoriesmyhome

YouTube:

Writing:

Interview:

Website Wonders:

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

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

  • Website Wonders: I was late in February and March, so I posted their website wonders at the beginning of this month.

Guest Post:

What if I Can’t Write What I Know: Written by Susannah Ailene Martin, this post explains how writers can get over the hurdle of researching for a novel. My stats spiked when I shared her post, which is a perfect example of why we should connect with one another through blogs and other kinds of social media.

YouTube Videos from Coffee & Cats:

My goal when I started was to only post one video this month to test it out. Plus, I had to learn how to create the channel and videos. I was really proud of myself when I beat my goal by uploading two videos.

Reading of “Regretful Memories” and Author Confessions

At the end of the month, I also like to take a moment to thank all of the websites who supported me by posting reviews, interviews, and features. If you would like to review my novels or interview me, please send me an email at shannonathompson@aol.com. I always love speaking with new bloggers, writers, and readers! And I will share your post on all of my websites. I will be looking for new reviewers for TMT soon! I can’t wait!

Reviewers: Making My MarkEndless ReadingParis CarterCoffee, Books, and ArtThe ExaminerReturn Novel.

Interviewers: Read to Write Stories, The Lurking Voice, Doodles, doodles everywhere.

Features: How to Write a Love Story

I used this photo because it reminds me of “TMT” - my next novel that will soon be announced.  (Photo from gdefon.ru)

I used this photo because it reminds me of “TMT” – my next novel that will soon be announced.
(Photo from gdefon.ru)

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. 

theboys

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.

 

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