Tag Archives: controversy

#SATurday: Writing Update: Take Me Yesterday

12 Sep

I’m writing this blog post before I announce I’m working on Take Me Yesterday, book 2 of The Tomo Trilogy, but I’ve probably shown you a teaser by now. (This time warp I live in—two weeks before my life is posted—is still rather strange, but it is especially ironic in this case.)

For those of you who don’t know, my novel, Take Me Tomorrow, book 1 of The Tomo Trilogy, is a young adult dystopian novel about a clairvoyant drug. It released July 17, 2014, but it was taken off of the market less than six months later after that publisher closed. Now that I’m done rewriting November Snow, I’ve returned to The Tomo Trilogy with new insight, and I would like to experiment with that path next.

That being said, I’m basically writing this to ask you a few questions. Was there something you would’ve liked to see in Take Me Tomorrow? For instance, I am considering adding a few one-page chapters from Noah’s perspective, and I would like to hear your opinion on that. Originally, I kept the excerpts out because I thought he either said too much or too little, but so many of you expressed how you would’ve liked to see his voice, so I might add them. (But I warn you, his voice makes no sense, so please keep that in mind.) I’m also considering adding a few more details about the “massacre” that is mentioned, but there was an important reason I didn’t explain it in the first book. (It’s explained in book 2.) But I would love to hear any and all opinions if you have them.

That being said, working on Take Me Yesterday is different than I ever imagined. I’m basically rewriting it, too. The draft I had written is now five years old. FIVE. That shocked me enough. I’ve grown a lot as a writer since then, so I’m writing it with some older eyes, more experienced eyes, but that doesn’t mean it has been easy.

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You see, there’s a reason I didn’t return to Take Me Tomorrow right away. When it first released, I thought maybe it was the wrong decision, that the story was too controversial, that the story might even be too close to home. To this day, Take Me Tomorrow is the closest work I’ve written to my life, and I don’t do that often, but the topics surrounding drugs is important to me. Considering my mother died of a drug overdose when I was eleven, I’ve been affected by drugs my whole life, and after my mother’s death, I did a lot of research regarding how drugs are handled in society, both illegal and legal, and Take Me Tomorrow was the result of all that research. (If you want more information, I wrote an article a while back that gets in-depth about my reasoning, Why I Write About Drugs, Immigration, and Addiction) But, when it comes down to it, Take Me Tomorrow is my expressing a lot of pain I’ve had in regards to drugs. I don’t think it’s black and white. I find drug-related topics to be very gray, and I tried to portray that in the first book.

Perhaps releasing it when I did wasn’t the right time, but it did open my eyes to what I might face. Like, the woman who emailed me and told me I was encouraging kids to fall in love with drug addicts by writing what I did. (True story.) But I think, I’ve come to a point in my writing career where I know, no matter what, that I need to be true to myself…and I think I’m ready to tackle this controversy again. Most of all, I think I’m simply ready to share the rest of Sophia’s story.

I hope you’ll enjoy it too,

~SAT

P.S. For those of you wondering about November Snow, I still plan on releasing that next, and I’m hoping to announce something about it this fall/winter. Right now though, I’m just concentrating on getting The Timely Death Trilogy out before I worry about publication. Thank you for understanding!

Announcement time! And, boy, do I have a lot of announcements. (They’re exciting, I promise!)

Death Before Daylight, book 3 of The Timely Death Trilogy, releases in THREE days. Three! Pre-order your eBooks here: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks. (The paperback releases Oct. 19.) If you want to be a part of the release day, you can even sign up for a book blast by clicking here. And, if you haven’t started the trilogy yet, don’t worry. The first book is free everywhere. Here’s some links to get you started in the Dark: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks.

All three!

All three!

Death Before Daylight was even featured on Waiting on Wednesday,  a weekly post about what readers are waiting for. On top of that, we’ve had a lot of fun so far during the Seconds Before Sunrise blog tour, and as usual, you can visit any of these places to enter into a raffle to win great prizes! Here are the latest stops: Black Words-White Pages interview, Crazy Beautiful Reads Review, and Fic Gal Review.

As for events, UK fans, I will be doing an Author Takeover on Happily Ever After Seekers Book Club on Facebook tomorrow at 8 p.m. (UK), which is 3 p.m. (EST).

Another Facebook party is being thrown by Clean Teen Publishing on September 18 from 7-9 p.m. (EST) Come join us at the CTP Death Before Daylight Release Party.

And, finally, (OH! FINALLY!) I’ll be doing a Halloween book signing and paranormal talk at Headrush Roasters in Gladstone, Missouri on October 21 from 6-7:30 p.m. (CDT). Who else can’t wait?

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Everything I Learned From “Against YA” and More

7 Jun

Two announcements before my post:

T.B. Markinson’s debut novel, A Woman Lost, is on sale until June 11th. Only .99 cents. I really admire T.B. Markinson, so I hope you take the time to check out her novel by clicking here.

The eBook of Seconds Before Sunrise releases in 5 days! That’s right. Only 5 days. I cannot believe it. I plan on sharing more insights from The Timely Death Trilogy soon. (Actually, I wanted to today, but the upcoming topic is very important to me.) Feel free to check out my Pinterest board full of hints and surprises before I announce more information, and be sure to join the ebook extravaganza party on Facebook for your chance to win a Kindle.

Happy reading!

Two days ago, my Facebook and Twitter blew up with a giant pink picture of an Alice-in-Wonderland-Look-Alike. It is an image that came with a title I cringe at: Against YA: Adults should be embarrassed to read children’s books.Even worse? The subtitle is “Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children.”

This horrifying article I am about to discuss can be found here. Written by Ruth Graham (not by THE Ruth Graham, you know, the philanthropist, but by Ruth Graham of New Hampshire.)

Don’t know who she is?

According to her Twitter, she’s a “contributing writer to the Boston Globe’s Ideas section; freelancer out and about (Slate, the Atlantic…). Former editor (New York Sun, Domino).” Her website – Ruth Graham: Freelance Journalist – is actually right here on WordPress.

Why am I sharing this?

Because I think it’s important to understand the writer behind the piece. I was hoping that if I followed her, I would understand where her opinion derived from. I was desperate for a deeper understanding, a slight chance that she meant well when she clicked “publish” on her viral post, so I followed her Twitter feed yesterday. I learned a lot from the woman behind the chaotic arguments that consumed every social media outlet I can think of, and I thought I would share what I learned below.

This wasn’t good for my blood pressure. It probably won’t be for yours either. You have been warned.

1. “Also YA writers & agents asking if I think they shouldn’t do their jobs. Uh, no? Definitely keep doing your jobs!”

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It isn’t okay to read YA as an adult, but it’s definitely okay if you can make money off of it. Also, if you’re a YA author, make sure to tell your adult readers that if “they are substituting maudlin teen dramas for the complexity of great adult literature, then they are missing something.” This is because all YA novels are “uniformly satisfying” and completely unrealistic. Make sure your YA novel follows these standards because they are undoubtedly true. Every YA ending causes you to either weep or cry. Trust me on this. Graham explained how “emotional and moral ambiguity of adult fiction—of the real world—is nowhere in evidence in YA fiction.” Forget the fact that fiction is FICTION – not nonfiction. Adult fiction is a reflection of the real world and young adult fiction is a pleasurable escape from reality. Every. Time.

2. “Another mysterious thread today has been angry librarians & parents defending themselves for reading YA for professional/parenting reasons.”

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So mysterious. Readers actually want to defend a genre they read? Whoever thought readers actually cared about books? I definitely wouldn’t have expected teachers, librarians, and parents to defend novels they shared with their child. Weird. I would call Nancy Drew to get on the case, but I am a 22-year-old adult; therefore, I should no longer think of her as a viable reference to solving mysteries. But I do know this: parents should never read what their kids read. Knowing what their kid enjoys or trying to understand why their kid enjoys it is exactly why we have so many bad parents in this world. Librarians, too. Why should they spend more time trying to understand the marketplace? It’s not like it’s their job or something.

3. “I’m not saying I’m not pretentious at all, of course. But I’m definitely not the MOST pretentious. But trust me: There’s more pretentious stuff out there.”

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If you’re not the most pretentious, you’re okay. If you’re not the most mean-spirited or hateful or cruel, it’s also okay because there are worst people out there. In regards to reader shaming and reading snobbery, as long as you’re not the worst, it’s okay. Just put the disclaimer, “at the risk of sounding snobbish and joyless and old.” Follow that sentence with “we are better than this.” This will unify your reader and you while also distracting them from the fact that you don’t sound snobbish, joyless, old, or pretentious. You just sound like you want everyone else to be.

4. “I’m not at all opposed to guilty pleasures! I’m just arguing for some guilt along with the pleasure.”

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You can read YA as an adult, but you better feel damn guilty about it. You better feel so guilty that you ask for a gift receipt anytime you buy a YA book at your local bookstore so they won’t know you are the reader. Actually, get an eReader, so no one knows what you’re reading in public. Shame on you if you don’t feel any guilt. You could’ve spent that time reading real literature, preferably something with “Weird facts, astonishing sentences, deeply unfamiliar (to me) characters, and big ideas about time and space and science and love.” This is what Ruth Graham reads without any guilt, because she considers it literary, so you should, too.

5. “Working on something today that will make some people mad, wheeeeeeee!”

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Rejoice in the fact that you can anger people. This means you’re an adult with important things to say. Angering people means you are, in fact, important, and you should be proud and happy to anger people. This is literature. This is what reading is all about.

Okay. So I may have gone a little overboard. My blood pressure is still too high, after all, but I had to respond. I had to point out the fact that this article was written, knowing how much it would anger the reading community, yet we allow it to go viral because it strikes a place in our reading hearts that HURTS.

We love to read what we love to read.

I am very passionate about changing our reading community to only encourage readers. In fact, I’ve written about this before in my blog post Readers Hating Other Readers, and – sadly – I doubt this will be my last time writing about this.

With a heavy heart, I want to conclude all of the emotions I have ever had about reader shaming:

Adults shouldn’t be embarrassed to read young adult fiction. No one should be embarrassed to read anything. Reader shaming is what we should be embarrassed of.

~SAT

P.S. If you’re a young adult fiction reader – no matter your age – I would love it if you read one of my novels. In fact, I will probably do a little dance of excitement if you do. I even share all reviews right here on ShannonAThompson.com. (If you’re boycotting Amazon, don’t worry. Also available on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.)

Click today!

Click today!

Writing Tips: Dealing with Controversy

17 Apr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what can writers do when they face this issue?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~SAT

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