Tag Archives: book reviews

When A Character Does Something You Dislike

13 Jan

I read a lot. I also read reviews, though I tend to read reviews after I have read a book myself. Why? Well, I used to rely on reviews to pick books, but now I tend to rely on a trusted few (and my own gut) to pick and choose. Even so, my interest in reviews never completely faded, so I tend to set time aside after I finish reading to skim book reviews.

One of the reasons I stopped reading book reviews was the obsession with tearing characters apart.

Don’t get me wrong. Characters are so, so important in fiction. However, I think many have forgotten that characters are supposed to reflect real-life people. They aren’t supposed to be perfect. They shouldn’t do things you agree with on every page. They will make mistakes, even mistakes that seem ridiculous to you.

Sometimes, your hero isn’t going to act very heroic.

Staying on the path of “when characters make mistakes that seem ridiculous to you”: As the reader, you might know more than the character. Or you might understand the tropes of your genre, so you expect certain things to happen (ex. a best friend’s betrayal, a love triangle admission, a mentor figure’s sudden death). However, to that character, they live in a world that doesn’t come with trope warnings (just like we don’t). So when their best friend betrays them and they’re shocked (and you’re not), I don’t think it’s fair to call that character stupid or naïve or etc. Even with dozens of clues, that character loves their best friend. They trust their best friend. As humans, we often lie to ourselves when the truth is looking us in the face. We make mistakes.

As much as characters are designed to entertain, they are also designed to be honest, ugly, thought provoking, loving, twisted, and more. In fact, if you design a character really well, they will be all of those things—sometimes in one scene.

As an example, I recently finished Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, and holy hell, I love it. I thought the voice was so honest, even though Dumplin has some seriously shallow thoughts. This was the main complaint I saw in reviews. Many called her hypocritical and hard to cheer on. And guess what? Of course she’s hypocritical. Of course she’s hard to cheer on sometimes. And that’s what made her believable. Dumplin’ is a teenage girl struggling with how the world judges her weight. Between that and the recent death of her beloved aunt, her contemptuous relationship with her mother, and her first (confusing) summer fling, I completely understood and sympathized with Dumplin’s emotional struggles. Does that mean I agreed with everything she did and said in every scene? Hell no! But I don’t have to agree with a character in every scene to love them in the end.

How many times has your sister annoyed you, bothered you, done something you thought was incredibly thoughtless? How about your parents? Your grandparents? Your best friends? But you still love them in the end. You give them second chances. You let go of the idea that everyone in your life must take your advice to heart. You understand everyone lives their own life their own way, and that sometimes you won’t agree with it, but that no one needs your approval. In fact, how many times have you done something that wasn’t perfect? How many times have you done something out of character? I know I’ve disappointed myself before. I still do. I’m human. I have moments of selfishness, of jealousy, of anger, of irrational depression. But does that make me worth tearing apart? I would hope not.

I expect characters to disappoint me at some point. I try to sympathize with flaws, but also understand that some flaws are going to be out of my realm. I cheer them on when they’re good and hope they redeem themselves when they’re bad. (And sometimes, I enjoy a good story where a character is never redeemed.) All I ask for is consistency—a sense that, no matter what the character does or believes, I understand them in that moment, even in the moments where they aren’t quite themselves. I need to believe they are real, and if I can believe that, I will more than likely enjoy the journey.

In the end, I want to enjoy the story—and sometimes, stories are told by those you might not understand. Maybe even by someone you would hate. But that doesn’t automatically mean the story is unlikeable.

Let’s be a little kinder to characters, especially character flaws.

We all have them.

~SAT

Writers and Vocabulary

9 Jan

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

The famous Stephen King said it, and so many more agree.

I vehemently say this to every writer I know. Why? Because it amazes me how many writers don’t read on a regular basis.

By reading, you’re expanding your creativity, your stories, your life, and even your vocabulary. And your vocabulary is vital.

Today, I wanted to concentrate on expanding your vocabulary and why it’s so important. I’ve sort of written about this before—Writing Tips: Build Your Vocabulary —where I discussed how you should not only read a lot, but pay attention while reading. This includes marking every word or phrase you come across that you’re unsure of, so that you can come back later to study them. I call this a vocabulary study guide.

books-writing-reading-sonja-langford

So what is my vocabulary study guide?

I create one every time I read a book. While reading, I circle words, and after I’m finished, I study them. This list includes words I don’t know, words that catch me off guard, words I know but forget to remember, and words I simply want to concentrate on more, maybe because they’re beautiful or strange or perfect for certain scenarios.

How do I organize it?

Personally, I categorize words by most likely subject. By feelings or people or places or, my personal favorite, body parts and other medical things. (Example from below? Carbuncle: a severe abscess or multiple boil in the skin, typically infected with staphylococcus bacteria.) Sometimes, though, I organize my lists by words I need extra help on. In my below example for instance, I circled inscrutable FOUR times in the SAME book. (And this isn’t the first book I circled it in.) Why? I know this word. I do. But for some reason, whenever I’m reading or writing, my brain stumbles over it. I want, more than anything, for inscrutable to become natural to me.

So here is a literal example from my most recent read.

All of these words come from Iron Cast by Destiny Soria, a young adult book about prohibition, asylums, and hemopaths, people capable of creating illusions through song, poetry, and art. I highly recommend this diverse read, and I hope this list of beautiful words encourages you to check it out. Seriously. Everything in this post comes from that book. If you’re curious, here’s my book review on Goodreads.

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria Study Guide:

Five Senses:

          Sound:

Raucously: making or constituting a disturbingly harsh and loud noise

Sonorous: (of a person’s voice or other sound) imposingly deep and full

          Smell:

Redolent: fragrant and sweet smelling OR strongly reminiscent or suggestive of

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Another reason to learn? Wooing women. 😉

Emotions:

Avaricious: having or showing an extreme greed for wealth or material gain

Imperturbable: unable to be upset or excited; calm

Languorous: the state or feeling, often pleasant, of tiredness or inertia

Temerity: excessive confidence or boldness; audacity

Beatific: blissfully happy

Body parts/Medical:

Carbuncle: a severe abscess or multiple boil in the skin, typically infected with staphylococcus bacteria.

Paunchy: a large or protruding abdomen or stomach.

Relating to People:

Spectacled: wearing spectacles

Haughty: arrogantly superior and disdainful

Stodgy: dull and uninspired, ex. stodgy old men

Gaggle: a disorderly or noisy group of people (also a flock of geese)

Expression: Speaking/Writing:

Asperity: harshness of tone or manner

Succinctly: (especially of something written or spoken) briefly and clearly expressed

Other Description:

Inscrutable: impossible to understand or interpret

Ostensibly: apparently or purportedly, but perhaps not actually

Anathema: something or someone that one vehemently dislikes

You might think you know every word you read, but really, if you slow down and ask yourself what the literal definitions of words are (rather than relying on context), you’ll force yourself to look up more and more words to learn on your own. It might seem like a waste of time or time-consuming, but I honestly love it. I revel in challenging myself to memorize new phrases and understand a wider range of the English language, and I believe it helps my writing.

Try it out for yourself and see which words you learn.

Who knows? You might need to use it in a novel one day.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs So, You Want To Be A Book Blogger

20 Jun

I must clarify one thing before I start: I am not a book blogger, but I used to be—for about three years—and I still post book reviews on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. I also help authors connect with book bloggers every day. I’m an author myself, after all. I know how important book reviews are, and because of this, I absolutely adore book bloggers. In a metaphorical publishing world, book bloggers are authors’ best friends, and readers who don’t blog are the friends authors meet at the book blogger’s party. The reason I’m writing this is to make that party as enjoyable as possible. Below, I have outlined some tips to help aspiring book bloggers get started with a website, as well as how to create a fun and safe environment for bloggers, readers, and authors.

For Your Website:

1. Find a Host: Name Your Blog and Yourself

Pick out where you want to blog. Personally, I love WordPress, and it’s free! But you can also go to Blogger and many other places. Once you choose, consider the name of your blog carefully. It is your blog, of course, but try to avoid a name that contradicts the blog’s purpose. Ex: “Magical Book Reviews” when you don’t read novels with magical elements. This could cause a lot of confusion and frustration when it’s easily avoidable. If you can pick a name that sums up what types of books you plan on reviewing, even better. But once you have a name, name yourself by creating an About Me page. Have a name on your blog. It doesn’t have to be your REAL name, but readers like to be personal. We want you to know we truly enjoy your website, and using your name is one way we can prove we aren’t mass commenting or sending you spam messages. Knowing more about you also helps readers share your blog to others. For instance, if you’re a librarian, I will tell others to go check out an amazing reviewer who gets to work around books all day!

Books I've reviewed this summer that I totally recommend!

YA books I’ve reviewed this summer that I totally recommend!

2. Have a Contact Page, Review Request Form, and/or a Review Policy:

This advice is for book bloggers who are looking for authors, publishers, and other people to submit novels. Be clear about what you want to read and what you never want to read. Include types of information you want in a request, like a link to Amazon or the synopsis. If you are closed for submissions, put that at the top in bold. This way, requesters don’t read pages of information only to realize you’re not accepting anything. Clarify if you accept self-published and small press published authors. I would also suggest adding if you reply to all requests or only the ones you’re interested in. That way, you won’t get as many repeat emails wondering if you received their request. You could also include your favorite and least favorite novels—and if you want to get really fancy, tell us your ratings of well-known novels. This will help start reading discussions with fellow readers of that genre.

3. Include a Rating System and Other Websites:

Clarify if you will use the 5-Star Rating System and/or explain how you rate on other pages. For instance, if you say 3.5 on your blog, explain what you’ll do on websites that aren’t accommodating to that (like if you will generally lean up or down or if it depends on the novel). Readers will want to know if, how, where, and when you will be posting reviews. This is also a GREAT opportunity to send your readers to your Bookstagram, Vlog, Goodreads page, or other places where you review books. On a side note, if you are accepting review requests, I would suggest stating if you will or will not post your review no matter the rating. Unfortunately, there has been hostility in the past with authors/publishers requesting readers to only post reviews if it is a certain rating. Although I don’t agree with anyone who demands this, I still suggest clarifying that you will post your review, even if it is below 5 stars. That way, they won’t demand it from you later or send you nasty emails when it happens. By posting your rules, you lessen your changes of internet negativity.

A Note For Authors:

Remember that book bloggers are your best friend. Respecting boundaries is important. Don’t request a review from someone until you have read their review policy, and definitely do not contact them with your dinosaur erotica if they state they hate dinosaurs or erotica or both (even if you think you will somehow change their mind). If you receive a poor review, do not retaliate in any way. If you’re going to say anything at all, just thank them. They read your book, after all. If you promised to share their review, share it. If they promised to review a book but never did, be polite when asking them if they are still interested in reading your novel.

Sometimes, expectations fall flat, but surprises are sometimes better. Helping one another know what to do in certain situations can improve everyone’s relationship, but it does take two. Taking these steps might help our friendship grow more than ever before.

We want the author-reader relationship to be fun and exciting, so let’s be sure to celebrate one another with respect and enthusiasm.

Here’s to our love for books.

Original posted March 6, 2014

~SAT

On a side note, my YouTube channel – Coffee & Cats – is back! This month, I discussed Female Romantic Tropes…We Hate, and next month, I’ll discuss Male Romantic Tropes…We Hate. Granted, these tropes work for both genders, but I separated them due to how much each trope happens to that specific gender. I hope you like it! And, of course, let me know what tropes you don’t like, so we can continue to change fiction!

We’re less than a month away from the Bad Bloods book release! 

Preorder Bad Bloods

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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Goodreads Book Giveaway

November Rain by Shannon A. Thompson

November Rain

by Shannon A. Thompson

Giveaway ends July 16, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

#MondayBlogs: Criticizing Wrongly

10 Aug

Intro:

We’ve all seen it happen. Someone reviewing a novel by stating, “There’s romance in this, and I don’t like romance. One star.”…on a romance novel. Or someone attacks a book because they don’t agree with the content…and when you read it, you can’t find that content. Book reviewing is a tricky (and sometimes) confusing place, and today, Desirable Purity is discussing when criticizers criticize wrongly.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

Criticizing Wrongly by Desirable Purity

There are some scenes, meetings and happenings in fiction that seem a bit far from reality and some criticizers are very specific about it. Now, let me divide this post into three parts.

Difference between Unrealistic Sequences and Unique Moments.

Genres.

Suspension of Disbelief

In this post, I’ll criticize the criticizing of new criticizers. Fine! You’ve never seen it happening. It’s illegal. It’s nasty. It’s immoral. Guys don’t talk like that. Girls don’t wear that stuff. Mothers don’t do that. People! That’s why it’s a story. What do you want to read all the time? Cliches? If these kinds of plot twists aren’t there that make you go, “What the hell?”, what good is the book doing to you? It’s fiction. Things ought to turn out that way. And let me tell you, these things do happen in real life. It’s just that you haven’t seen it yet.

Difference between Unrealistic Sequences and Unique Moments

There is a fine line between Unrealistic and Unique. Why do the new, young criticizers think that by saying that the scene didn’t look realistic, make them “professional”? I swear, some people think that.

Remember the fine line.

You’re allowed to say that the scene was far from reality when a guy is walking down the path, steps on a snake, snake hisses, the guy apologizes and presents it chocolates, the snake accepts them and says, “Thank you! But be careful before stepping on us or you’d have to spare some more chocolates.” Okay, now that was unrealistic. It doesn’t happen in real life.

I’ve come across people who call certain scenes unrealistic just because they haven’t seen them happening, or heard of it. A mother loved her child, but because she didn’t have money to keep it, she threw it in the river. And left to cry till her eyes bled. This is not unrealistic. It happens. People are like that. Maybe, you’re not like that, but some people are. (This behavior is called, “projection”: The person is convinced that his thoughts and feelings are the others—Psychology.)

A fine line between unrealistic sequences, and unique moments. Remember!

Desirable Purity

Desirable Purity

Genres

Let’s talk about Genres now. If the scene about the snake that I described above happens in Fantasy, it is acceptable. (Maybe not, because the scene is pretty stupid.) But the scene of a mother and her child can be in Romance, as well as Tragedy. You’re allowed to say that the scene was far from reality when the snake hisses and asks for Chocolate in the Genre of Romanticism.

In Fantasy, anything can happen. Looking out is necessary for genres other than Fantasy.

So, people! Before criticizing someone, think twice, because no matter how novice he is, the person has worked on it and asks for an honest review. If a moment in a genre other than Fantasy shocks you, it’s unique, not unrealistic!

Suspension of Disbelief

Wikipedia says,  Suspension of disbelief or willing suspension of disbelief is a term coined in 1817 by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who suggested that if a writer could infuse a “human interest and a semblance of truth” into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgement concerning the implausibility of the narrative. Suspension of disbelief often applies to fictional works of the action, comedy, fantasy, and horror genres. Cognitive estrangement in fiction involves using a person’s ignorance or lack of knowledge to promote suspension of disbelief.

It’s the reader that has to belief what the author is making him belief. The writer has created something. He thinks that it’s different and so he made it into a story. Now, it’s the reader’s job to belief what is, not the writer’s job to keep giving him reasons. That one person, who’s criticizing, should be of objective thinking, and not support projection. That’s one of the rules. Subjectivity and Projection can cloud one’s judgement.

There can be scenes where something doesn’t look right, but that can be a part of “Show don’t tell”. Just because the criticizer doesn’t think that a person exists doesn’t mean he’s an unbelievable character. In fact, his deeds might be a part of building his character as something not shown just yet.

Then again, the reader has to be willing to suspend disbelief.

Bio:

Munazza Bangash is a short story writer, but currently in the middle of writing a full-length novel in the genre of Romance/Psychology. Her first novel, which was a fan fiction written only for practice, gained her more than 100,000 readers.

When she isn’t glued to the computer screen, she’s usually painting her face with makeup, searching for it or buying it, or probably studying Psychology. Playing badminton or having a laugh with little kids. Being the worst cook and fashion designer, or maybe trying very hard not to gain more weight!

Easily reached at Wattpad: MunazzaBangash

Email: Munazzabangash@hotmail.com

Facebook Page: DesirablePurity

Blog: Desirablepurity.wordpress.com

Twitter: DesirablePurity

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs: The Importance of Goosebumps

13 Apr

Intro:

Today’s guest blogger deserves a huge round of applause. Not only does he spread the love for reading via his blog, November Notebook, he also teaches English to middle school students. In addition, Grant Goodman is talking about a series of books that filled my childhood, and I’m sure you’re familiar with these novels as well…They haunted all of our nightmares. Thank you for Goosebumps, R.L. Stine.

The Importance of Goosebumps

Most of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books left me terrified.

I remember how Night of the Living Dummy made me afraid to get up in the middle of the night because I knew that Slappy would be sitting at the top of the steps, waiting for me. I’ll never forget that moment when I hit the end of Stay Out of the Basement and the big twist made my stomach feel like it was full of ice. These books left me scarred, because even though I knew they were fiction, they took root in my mind and always threatened to crawl off the page and into reality.

For some reason, though, I kept reading them.

goose

Many of you, I’m sure, have strong memories of reading Goosebumps. It was the Twilight Zone for kids: a place where something strange and terrifying lurked, where people couldn’t always trust each other to tell the truth, and where sometimes you realized that Camp Nightmoon…well, I won’t spoil it for you.

These books were some of my earliest significant forays into genre fiction. Before them, I had been reading Encyclopedia Brown, Cam Jansen, the Clue books. They were fun, of course, but they didn’t hold my attention once I had found ghosts and werewolves and evil ventriloquist dummies.

Even though the Goosebumps books were largely stand-alone stories, I knew that they were all gathered under a single brand, one that I could trust to deliver a memorable story. So, while I never became a full-fledged horror fan, I did step into another type of book series: fantasy.

I read The Lord of the Rings. I read every Dragonlance title I could find. Somewhere along the line, the first Wheel of Time book showed up on my bookshelf. That led me down the path to Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, and Patrick Rothfuss.

The monster blood and the werewolves and the mummy, I’m sure, will never truly fade. They were a stepping stone for me, or maybe a catapult, that moved my imagination forward. And while the idea of a twist ending doesn’t resonate with me anymore, I’m glad to know that kids out there are still able to pick up Welcome to Dead House and start their own journeys through R.L. Stine’s many worlds.

Grant GoodmanBio:

Grant Goodman’s debut novel, Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve in…Tiger Trouble! will be released on May 4, 2015. He is also the head writer for November Notebook, a YA Lit blog for teens, adults, ghosts, robots, unicorns, dragons, and aliens. He teaches middle school English in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

March Ketchup

30 Mar

March’s Ketchup

Another month has passed, and during the month of March, we were able to meet more guest bloggers, read more news, and discover additional websites for writers and readers.

For those of you just now checking in this month, Ketchup actually means “catch up”. At the end of every month, I write these posts describing what goes on behind the scenes at ShannonAThompson.com. Some of the topics I cover include my big moments, top blog post, my top referrer, SEO term, and more in order to show insights that will hopefully help fellow bloggers see what was popular. I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

Thank you for being a part of my life this March!

Big Moments:

The new cover for Minutes Before Sunset, book 1 of The Timely Death Trilogy, was revealed, and what a delight that moment was! I am so happy you all enjoyed the new cover so much. It only makes the upcoming release more exciting. Because of all of the excitement, Clean Teen Publishing is hosting a Goodreads Giveaway. Staring on April 1, you can enter to win 1 of 3 ARCs, so look out for that!

My latest publication

My latest publication

In other news, I also received my copy of my first piece of nonfiction that was ever published. My personal essay, Nowhere, was featured in the 23 volume of Fine Lines, and now it sits on top of my desk, reminding me of why we continue to write and submit and share our work with everyone.

Thank you goes out to all of the readers who’ve supported me – novels, poetry, nonfiction, and all.

My #1 Clicked Item was my Facebook page

My #1 Clicked Item was my Facebook page

Top Three Blog Posts:

  1. #1 SEO Term: Wattpad

    #1 SEO Term: Wattpad

    The New Cover of Minutes Before Sunset Revealed: Ah! The excitement. Every day, it’s getting more and more difficult to contain my excitement about all of this. I am eternally grateful that you all are excited as well.

  2. The Lesson of Cats: I’m glad you all enjoy cats as much as I do. Bogart sends his love.
  3. Being Good Enough: Written by Sandra Nyamu, we were all touched when we read this honest article, describing the feelings of every writer who has been discouraged.

Other Blog Posts:

My #1 Referrer was Facebook

My #1 Referrer was Facebook

Guest Post: During March, I had the wonderful opportunity to guest write for Lit World Interviews. I wrote, How I Found a New Publisher after Losing One.

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.

Reviewers:

Interviews: Writing Room 101, Jonas Lee

Awarders: Kaine Andrews (Liebster Award), Addlepates and Booknerds (Liebster Award)

Calculated on March 27 at 19,420 followers

Calculated on March 27 at 19,420 followers

Finding Interesting Quotes

10 Nov

Announcements:

Bookstore Browser reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, stating, “The book sets up a great world, with interesting characters and storyline as a great start to the trilogy.” Check out the entire review by clicking here.

Finding Interesting Quotes

Quotes. We love them. I rarely log onto any social media site without seeing some quote being shared via photos or tweets or simple statuses. We find a lot of meaning in quotes because we can relate to quotes, and being able to explain how we feel or think by sharing a line or two is a wonderful way to communicate with friends, family, and other followers.

One of the most wonderful times of being an author is when a reader quotes you. The first time I saw this happen, I could hardly believe it. I probably rubbed my eyes, closed my computer, reopened my computer, and blinked before I accepted that somebody had shared a few words of mine with the world. Now – it happens pretty regularly, and every time, I am just as happy as the first time. Why am I mentioning this?

Recently, a fellow author asked me how they could increase their chances of being quoted by their readers. Now – while I wish I could say there is a simple formula – I don’t know if there is, but I do know how you can find quotes in your own work that you can use for marketing purposes. So…here are a few ways to start your treasure hunt!

Figure out your themes:

I think this is the easiest way to find potential quotes in your own work. For instance, The Timely Death Trilogy revolves around the light vs. dark theme, but it’s also a romance, so I can search for words associated with that. Examples would include dark, shadows, love, hate, etc. This is handy because it serves two purposes: sharing a quote and sharing a theme from the novel. For instance, if I shared the favorited Seconds Before Sunrise quote, “Chaos within destiny. It was the definition of love.” it appeals to readers who might want to read about love, destiny, and drama. It’s also short enough to fit on Twitter.

city

Read book reviews:

Readers will often point out their favorite quotes in book reviews. But – by the holy reading gods – do not respond to the book review. I think we all know how horribly that can go. While I generally let readers add quotes to Goodreads, this is a place where I’ve added a few quotes myself after a book reviewer shared one but didn’t add it. Book reviews can be a gold mine for finding quotes, but the only downside is the fact that you won’t have the quotes until after the book releases. If you need quotes beforehand, this method will have to be used later.

Google Yourself:

I know. I know. I just said that. But – seriously – I found photos people took and edited just for the quotes inside my novels. I even found quote websites and new social media websites where I could connect with readers. In fact, this is one of the reasons I ended up on Pinterest. When I searched for my name, most of the photos I found with my quotes on them were on Pinterest.

Now that you have quotes to use, use them! Create photos, tweet them out, post them on Facebook. There are plenty of ways to pick out those one-liners to share, but make sure you’re having fun with it! Create images, tweet out to readers, “like” photos fans create. Post them on your website!

There are no limitations to sharing words, and who knows who will share yours next?

~SAT

Coffee & Cats: Episode 6

16 Oct

Announcements:

I hope you enjoyed my interview on Whispers in the Dark last night. If you didn’t have a chance to listen to it, don’t worry! You can listen to it right now by clicking here.

In other news, People Like Books posted an interview with their review of Take Me Tomorrow, and you can read both by clicking here, but here is a small quote from both:

Review: “The pacing of this book is also top notch…I’d say if you are a fan of Divergent, Marie Lu’s Legend, and heck maybe even Alex Bracken’s The Darkest Minds, then you’ll like this book. (Hopefully LOVE it – just like I did.)

Interview: “…my characters change dramatically in different ways, but a reader might need to read it a few times to realize that. I don’t like making things too obvious. I want readers to experience the book one hundred times and realize something new every time.”

Lastly, Miss Heliotrope Reads also reviewed Take Me Tomorrow here, stating, “Thompson has come up with a good story and has, very impressively, managed to find a niche in a highly saturated genre.”  

Coffee & Cats: Episode 6

It’s that time! After four Fridays, you have voted, commented, and shared four poems, and based on your activity, I have read your favorite poem. The winning poem is The Autumn Railroad, and the winning fan is Steven Sanchez. If you haven’t already, click the links to check them both out. Below, you can watch my reading of the poem, but I had a bit of a cold! So I apologize if I sound sleepy. I tried my best. And just like last month, I have put smaller explanations below the video as a back story to the inspiration.

I hope you enjoy it!

The grave of my teenager daughter

Opening line:

is a restaurant she was born at 16.

This isn’t about losing a child. Not to me anyway. For me, it’s about burying your teenage years behind you as you move forward into adult hood despite the lingering pain many teenagers have to go through: first loves, first jobs, first drugs, etc.

Peeling Oranges

Opening line:

We sat on the floor as you began, and

This also resides in younger years, and the inspiration comes from many stories combined together, the main one being how a parent can teach a child many things, like cooking, but they never get the full opportunity to tell them the entire story. The second one is a combination of losing friends and realizing exactly what they brought into your life afterward – including different cultures, stories, and learning experiences. And, yes, I seriously cannot peel oranges.

The Autumn Railroad

Opening line:

it was a place of great indifference, the type

This poem can be read two ways (or possibly more) but most readers seem to enjoy it as a metaphor for the season, which I can definitely see, but it’s sadly based on a true story that happened near a town I used to go to. Two boys died on the railroad tracks while biking, and the accident left a haunting glare on the area. The tracks also got shutdown shortly after, but I was told it wasn’t from the accident, so I think – in a way – it did become this horrible real-life metaphor for fall and winter, coming and ending on a single day.

To the Anti-American Teacher…We Knew You Were Pro-World

Opening line:

A clause in your contract slated your signature for patriotism.

The last poem is the closest poem to a completely literal story. I had a government teacher in high school that did refuse to sign his contract (not because he was anti-American, but because – as he explained – he was shocked the teaching demanded such a thing.) He did, in fact, remove his flag, and he decorated his room with all the flags around the world, but no, he wasn’t fired for it. I seem to recall him getting in trouble, but I don’t know the full extent of it. However, I truly appreciated how he took the time to teach us about other countries in the spare minutes we had, and a lot of his teachings came from his personal experiences when he traveled the world. I can admit that I barely remember the classwork, but I remember every time he spoke about his travels. The Dr. Seuss quote is included in this poem because that was a quote my high school used a lot.

Hope you enjoyed the explanations and the reading! Can’t wait for the next poems to come out on my Wattpad every Friday. Remember to share, vote, and comment for your chance to be mentioned.

~SAT

 

The Pros and Cons of Setting Writing Deadlines

6 Oct

Announcements: 

Today’s HUGE thank you goes out to DJ FRESH, one of the most influential muso’s in the South African music industry, for quoting Seconds Before Sunrise book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy yesterday afternoon. Moments like these are unforgettable, especially since I have some wonderful music to follow!

fresh4

tmtinst

Rebekka.B’s Instagram photo

Also, I would like to thank Rebekka.B for reviewing Take Me Tomorrow on her Instagram. Not only is her picture beautiful, her review is wonderfully written, and she compared my latest novel to the song “Warriors” by Imagine Dragons. Here’s why: “The strength and power that the characters have are so on point and well written. I could relate to every one of them in a different way. At the end of the book you can only state that they are true warriors that fight for hope, justice and love…It’s a powerful book with powerful people who live in a powerful world.” Check out her full review by clicking here or read a preview of my book by clicking here. Either way, be sure to follow her book reviews!

In other news, I found out that two of my poems will be published in a literary journal at the end of November, but that is all I can say for now! Be on the look out for more news later this month.

The Pros and Cons of Setting Writing Deadlines

Being an author is one-part writing, twenty-parts managing everything else. By “everything else”, I mean editing, social media, interviews, organizing covers, and so much more. Marketing is generally where most of my time goes, especially if you consider any type of social media marketing. That being said, a wise woman once told me that I have to remember that I am always an author first. This sounds much easier than it actually is. Getting caught up in marketing is a slippery slope I’m sure almost all authors have fallen on once or twice before. One way I avoid that (and remind myself that I NEED to make time for just my author life) is by setting deadlines for myself. Sure, my publisher suggests timeframes as well, but today, I’m focusing on personally setting deadlines for oneself and what kind of benefits and disadvantages it can have.

Pro: It keeps you motivated

Even though passion can be the basis of writing, there are still days where authors just don’t want to write. Maybe we’re tired from our day job. Maybe our favorite T.V. show has returned for another season. Maybe we just don’t want to. And maybe it is okay to take a break. Not writing for a day is perfectly fine, but not writing for day after day after day? You’ll find yourself in a writer’s slump faster than you realized. This can also turn into the horrors of writer’s block. Having a circled date that says, “Hit 20,000 words” can help motivate you to keep your off-days in check. You don’t even have to force yourself to write in something you don’t want to. But having a time set aside to write SOMETHING can help you get somewhere much faster than you realized.

Con: It can make that motivation feel more like pressure

To me, motivation should always be a positive thing. It shouldn’t stress someone out unless it’s “good” stress (which I am told is an actual thing). If this motivation starts pushing you down or making you write less or pressuring you to rush or causing you to fret about dates, word count, and publication dates, then, don’t do it. That being said, I’ve failed at meeting a goal, and it was perfectly okay. I simply understood my timing a little better, and I started pushing my goals back a few weeks. Understanding my writing time has actually helped me understand my calendar a lot. For instance, I can more accurately guess when I will finish content edits so I know when to start talking to my editors and cover artist. A perfect example of this hit me recently. Originally, Death Before Daylight was supposed to come out in late 2014, but it’s now reschedule for January of 2015. That being said, I estimated the novel would be 80,000 words after content edits, and I’ve already surpassed that, so it might be pushed back again. But I can’t dwell on it. I have to move forward and keep editing the content so I can get it in the hands of readers.

Pro: use kitty stickers on your calendar to mark deadlines

Pro: use kitty stickers on your kitty calendar to mark deadlines

Pro: Achieving small goals can give a burst in energy

For me, actually hitting the exact goal I planned (or hitting it beforehand) brings so much excitement to writing. Think of it like a video game or a puzzle. Moving onto the next level can be energizing, and that burst of energy can assist in trying to get to the next one and the next one after that. As many of you know, I keep progress bars on the right side of my website, but you don’t know that I keep all of my progress bars on my laptop. They are dated, and if I’m feeling like I’m falling behind, I like to scroll through them in order to see just how much I’ve gotten done in the past few months. I always feel much better after.

Con: Having unrealistic goals can be disheartening

Sometimes, I think writers can set unreasonable expectations for themselves, but that’s also because every writer is different. I’ve known an author who can write a book in one month – and a good one – but that doesn’t mean every author out there should try to accomplish that. Setting deadlines is not about finishing quickly. The goal relies in writing well rather than writing fast, and setting a deadline can be that reminder to give yourself the needed amount of time to write well. Don’t let it turn into a reminder that you’re not writing fast enough or that you’re not keeping up with everyone else. It’s not about them or their deadlines. It’s about you, and your passion, and your love for writing.

In Conclusion:

Deadlines are not for everyone. They work for me. They keep me organized and feeling accomplished in-between publications, but I have also been known to put too much pressure on myself, so I also need to know to be aware of when deadlines become deadly to my writing life. It doesn’t happen often, but I do keep checking in with myself, and if I need to take a break – by, God, I do. I step away, hit the road, and crank Elvis through my Mazda’s radio until the sun sets. At some point, I return, and at some point, I set another deadline, and at some point, I complete another deadline before I make another one. But the goal goes beyond deadlines. The goal disappears somewhere in those words strung together into sentences put together in paragraphs for pages upon pages.

The deadline, whether it is met or not, will still become a book, and in the end, that is what matters most.

What do you think? Do you set deadlines for yourself? What were the pros and cons for you? Comment, like, and share below!

~SAT

Why Are Parents Dead in Fiction?

24 Sep

Announcements:

ShannonAThompson.com hit 18,000 followers! As a surprise, I shared the meaning behind all the chapter titles in Take Me Tomorrow on my Facebook page. Every chapter title is actually a direct quote from the chapter you’re about to read. This is to represent the clairvoyant drug, tomo, since it allows takers to experience the future. For those who haven’t read the story, tomo does not necessarily give you clear visions. It affects all people and all senses differently. Sometimes, you hear it, taste it, smell it, or feel it. In fact, it’s hardly ever clear as to what is happening. Only those who are experienced with the drug are able to interpret what they are experiencing, and even then, everything is just a guess, and the drug itself is debatable. But the chapter titles aren’t! If you go through the novel you will see the titles later on in the prose. Chapter One – Don’t Come Back – is found in this quote, “My heart lurched at his sudden change in demeanor, but I managed a nod toward the north. The forest opened up to the only park Topeka still had. ‘Don’t come back.’”

When Eat Books For Breakfast reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, she said it “was definitely an intriguing read—different from most of the other books in its genre…I would recommend it to readers of young adult dystopian fiction.” Read the full review by clicking here or check out my latest novel here.

I would also like to take a moment to thank Dan Thompson for including Take Me Tomorrow in his post Two Books Are Better Than One. (And no, believe it or not, we’re not related.)

Thank you for reading my announcements today!

Why Are Parents Dead in Fiction?

The other day, I was sitting in a hookah house while attending an online event. (I don’t always have the Internet at home, so I go there to work.) That’s when a good friend of mine came up to keep me company, and I was telling him about a novel I am working on. The main character is an orphan. That’s when we got to talking.

Why are parents always dead or absent?

This isn’t a new conversation. I’ve had it with many people, mainly in regards to Disney movies, but I think it applies to most fiction, especially young-adult fiction, but I’ll get to why I think that in a minute. First, I would like to admit that my stories are no exception. The Timely Death Trilogy involves two protagonists – Eric’s biological mother committed suicide, and his father doesn’t have the best relationship with his son, while both of Jessica’s biological parents died in a car wreck, but she was adopted, and she does have a good relationship with her adoptive parents. In Take Me Tomorrow, Sophia’s father is practically absent due to his traveling job, and her mother hasn’t been in her life since she was seven, but she does live with a mother-sister figure named Lyn. Why did I do this? I can’t speak for every author when I explain my theories, but I will explain my personal reasons for deceased or absent parents as well as a hypothesis from the literary side. Before I continue, I want to clarify that I am (in general) talking about fiction for children and young adults.

Literary reason:

Coming-of-age is a popular topic among fiction for teens and preteens, mainly because they are going through it themselves. That being said, I think a huge factor of “coming-of-age” is finding yourself through independence. This is one of the main reasons I believe parents aren’t included in fiction, whether that is through death or absence, but another reason includes freedom. I know. I know. I sound horrible for saying freedom in regards to an absent parent, but I don’t mean “freedom” as a good thing. I mean it as a driving force for a character to venture outside of their home, to go on adventures, to strive to survive on their own. If they had a perfect family at home, this need for survival or adventure would be hard to justify. But I would like to point out one thing that others seem to forget to mention. Even if a character is an orphan or under other unfortunate circumstances, the character (usually) has a parental figure, and I think that is just as important as having a “real” parent in the story. To me, a “real” parent doesn’t have to give life to a child or adopt a child or anything in terms of a traditional definition. I believe a parent can be anyone who is the main guide and protector for a child. In that sense, I don’t believe we take parents out of fiction. I think we show readers that parents (guidance) can come from many places, which can be vital during a time in which young people are striving for independence outside the home.

From The Write Catch

From The Write Catch

Personal reason:

I am only including this section to give insight to an author’s reasoning behind it (rather than my above section that simply guesses as to why we find ourselves in those instances.) When it comes to dead or removed parents in fiction, I can relate to it. My mother died when I was 11, and my father was a traveling businessman. I hardly saw him growing up. In fact, I saw nannies more, and we never had the same one for long. Mainly because my brother and I were rather…well…angry might be the best way of saying it. The only time we did have another parent in the house was my stepmother, and she was only married to my dad for a year before they were divorced, and we definitely didn’t get along. Whew. Is that enough personal information? I don’t necessarily have a problem sharing it, even if it makes others uncomfortable, because it was my life. My life is much better now. But it’s hard for me to imagine a teenage-life with parents being actively involved, so I personally write about orphans or absent parents because that was my life growing up, and my characters are going to reflect certain parts of my life, even when I don’t realize it. That being said, I still believe that parents are in my fiction (like Lyn with Sophia in Take Me Tomorrow or Jessica’s adoptive parents in The Timely Death Trilogy, not to mention Eric’s stepmother.)

So where am I going with this?

Sometimes authors aren’t writing about orphans or neglected kids for literary reasons. Sometimes they are writing from their heart, and – in reality – I have met more teenagers who can relate to absent situations than not. Having a “perfect” family is…let’s be real…impossible. No one is perfect. Everyone is human. And families will reflect that both in life and in fiction.

The reason that parents are generally dead and/or absent is simple: it happens. But that doesn’t mean we can’t add more parents to story lines. In my little opinion, including them is just as fine as not including them as long as the author is being true to the story.

Feel free to comment below with your reasons or thoughts on this topic! I know we’ve all at least read a novel or seen a Disney movie that includes this debate, so chat away,

~SAT

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