Tag Archives: diversity in fiction

March’s Ketchup

30 Mar

Spring has started, and we’ve officially gotten through the first part of 2016. How crazy is that? About as crazy as this month.

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 posts, my top referrer, #1 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:

Cover

#1 Clicked Item: Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon

This month the content disclosures for Bad Bloods released by Clean Teen Publishing! I was really excited to show future readers more of what they can expect when the novels release this July. We’re getting so close to pre-order, too! If you haven’t already checked them out, be sure to read the content disclosures for November Rain and November Snow by clicking the links.

In the meantime, I moved offices, which was a big deal to me. I’ve been working in a rather small space with a tiny desk, so now that I have a lot more room, I’m hoping I can get a larger desk and get more work done than usual. So far, so good. I am in love with my space.

Also, thank you for making Minutes Before Sunset, book 1 of The Timely Death Trilogy, the #1 clicked item on my website this month! Links below, in case you missed that click. 😉

Read Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, for FREE

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksSmashwordsKoboGoodreads

Top Three Blog Posts: 

1. Diversity is Vital, But Be Genuine: I tackled the topic of diversity in fiction this month, mainly because I’ve been DYING to discuss this issue for a while now, but I didn’t feel like I had a lot to add to the conversation until recently. As an editor, I heard a controversial question about forcing diversity, so I discussed why it’s so important to be genuine when writing your novels (and how you can be genuine).

2. Writing Tips for Book 2 in Trilogy: I worked on book 2 in a trilogy almost all month, so I thought I’d share my thoughts and advice about that step in the series process—mainly because I came across a lot of very scary articles I whole-heartedly disagreed with. Book 2 doesn’t have to be boring! It can be the best book there is.

3. How to Avoid Writer Burnout: Writer’s block is famous, but there’s another culprit I’m all-too familiar with. It’s called writer’s burnout, and I discussed how you can recognize it, tackle it, and avoid it, so it doesn’t happen again. Here’s a hint: Take a break.

#1 SEO Term: pros and cons of Wattpad

#1 SEO Term: pros and cons of Wattpad

Other Blog Posts:

Writer Problems 11-15: I continued my writer problems card series, a series a started over a year ago but then took a large pause.

Six Ways to Write Efficiently For Full-Time Workers: This guest post helps many writers find ways to tackle writing when they cannot be full-time writers.

Being a Writer Isn’t Everything: An inspirational TED talk for writers.

#1 Referrer was WordPress' Reader

#1 Referrer was WordPress’ Reader

Saturdate: Lady Midnight, House of Cards, & Coffee Grinds: I loved the new Shadowhunters novel, and I binge-watched the new season of House of Cards. I also got a coffee grinder.

Where My Girls At? A WONDERFUL guest post by Kendra Saunders. I highly recommend her article about women in fiction.

Saturdate: Witch, Writer Madness, Fairyland, & Rooftops: I saw a movie and ran into a plot twist 40,000 words into writing.

Saturdate: Cassandra Clare, Content Disclosure, & Lemon Cookies: I met one of my all-time favorite writers (and my hero), so my life is complete. Also, I need those lemon cookies again.

Saturdate: Lore, New Office, Paint Swatches, & Snow White: My fourth weekly update during the month. I’ve had quite the moving week.

Website Wonders: A monthly classic.
march16

#WritingTips Diversity Is VITAL, But Be Genuine

16 Mar

The word diversity is being thrown around a lot in the publishing world. Agents are asking for it, readers are requesting it, and publishers rejoice in it. As am I. Rounding out literature with realistic and varied groups of people is vital and wonderful and exciting and overall, beautiful. The world, after all, is made up of many different types of people. So should books.

That being said—and a lot of my articles are inspired by my full-time editing job—I am quite shocked when I hear questions like, “Should I make my main character a person of color, LGBT, have a disability, and/or be a part of an underrepresented religion to fit the market?”

Um…

Face to desk.

The quick answer to that question is a resounding NO.

Diversity is not a “fad.” It’s not a bullet point on your novel’s checklist. It’s not an aspect to treat like a trendy topic, and it’s most definitely not an afterthought.

Diversity is a fact of life. Diversity is all around you. Diversity is found in your friends and family and co-workers and strangers at the coffee shop. Diversity should appear in literature just as naturally as it does in real life. If you’re forcing it, there’s a likely chance you’re probably adding to the stereotypes and clichés that are even more damaging than leaving diversity out.

Case and point:

Avoiding LGBTQ Stereotypes in YA Fiction, Part 1: Major LGBTQ Stereotypes

Race in YA Lit: Wake up and Smell the Coffee-Colored Skin, White Authors!

Writing Tips: How NOT to write disabled people

Yes, we need more diversity. We need more people of color in hero roles and LGBT protagonists and characters with disabilities. We need to see a variety of religions and cultural norms and languages and backgrounds. We need varying body types and personalities and dreams and ambitions. We need more characters that are just like everyday people, but we need to be true to our stories. That means being honest. It means researching. It means taking that time to talk to those who represent the cultures we wish to write about. As authors, we need to communicate effectively and efficiently. We need to stay true to our work—not force in characters just because—and we need to love our characters because they are our characters, not because they were warped to fit a trend. Diversity isn’t about being trendy. Diversity is about being genuine. It’s about celebrating the unique characteristics of all types of people, so that readers can rejoice and relate to the stories they read. On top of that, diverse stories help teach acceptance, shape understanding, and encourage friendships to those outside of their own “box.” Diverse stories are a result of a diverse life.

So go out there and explore your world. Meet new people. Listen to their lives. Discuss topics and real trends. (Like fashion and movies and Pilates.) Get to know all the people around you, and who knows? You might find they inspire you to create a character just like them.

Favorite Go-To Article About Diversity: Diversity Writing Tool-Kit. She basically links to a million places to get in-depth knowledge about numerous topics.

Favorite (Recent) Novels Featuring Diversity: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon and Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare. Both of these wonderful women tackle diversity with genuine grace. You can read both of my 5-star reviews on Goodreads by clicking the titles. I highly recommend both books, but Everything, Everything is contemporary, while Lady Midnight is urban fantasy and a part of a much larger series that I recommend you start with City of Bones. She has diversity throughout her entire Shadowhunter series. I had the absolute joy of meeting Cassandra Clare last night. She signed Lady Midnight for me, and I took home some awesome Shadowhunter runes.

I also met Cassandra Clare, just last night! She is the greatest.

I also met Cassandra Clare, just last night! She is the greatest.

Soon, I’ll share my own experience with writing and diversity. As an example, my next release is a YA duology: Bad Bloods features illiteracy, LGBT characters, deafness, people of color, PTSD, and disabilities, such as one character who only has one arm.

I didn’t force any of these aspects. In fact, the cast was inspired by real people I have met (and Barbie dolls, but that’s a different story you can read about here). Talking to those in the groups I was writing about was vital. Don’t be afraid to reach out. The world is waiting.

~SAT

P.S. Today is the day my mother suddenly passed away in 2003. You never know when your life will change forever. Take a moment to say I love you today. Thank you for changing my life, Mom.

My mother and I on Christmas, 1999

My mother and I on Christmas, 1999

#MondayBlogs Where My Girls At?

7 Mar

Intro:

Shannon, here, but only for a bit. Today, I have a wonderful guest blogger with an equally as wonderful guest post. Kendra L. Saunders is a time-and-space traveling fashionista author. Even better? She’s broadening the horizon for female characters by featuring a protagonist in her late 20’s, a very underrepresented group in fiction, and today, she’s writing about why it’s so important that we give this group a bit more attention. Welcome, Kendra!

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.

Where My Girls At? by Kendra L. Saunders

Getting older is weird, isn’t it? I guess for some people it happens at a pace that feels normal, and you sense yourself progressing from a teenager to a young adult, falling in love, getting married, settling down, having a kid, or getting divorced and floating around in a mansion with only your fine champagne, pool boy, and fancy lingerie collection to keep you company.

For me, aging has been a cyclical waking dream of confusing beginnings and ends, exciting adventures, and a few too many sinus issues to keep track of.

Maybe it’s the artist lifestyle, but I never followed the well lit path from an early romance to a kid, steady job, functioning car, and 10pm bedtime. I’ve lived in Texas, New Hampshire, Idaho, Wisconsin, Ohio, and New York City. I’ve been a cool/cute music store clerk, a waitress, a skincare saleswoman at NYC’s 34th St. Macy’s, a telemarketer, a caterer to celebrity guests (yay Oprah), a marketing guru for YA books, and a retail cashier, among many other jobs. I’ve attended New York Fashion Week (twice, and counting), had a book signing at BEA in New York City, spent two amazing weeks in England all by my lonesome for research and recreation, and been front row at some of the coolest concerts ever.

I’ve also lived in a haunted apartment, dealt briefly with bedbugs (eww) and saw a gang leap out from behind a parked car and shoot someone right in front of my eyes in Brooklyn one night while I walked home.

Between all of these adventures and misadventures, I’ve picked up female friends from all over the world, from every pay grade and lifestyle choice. One thing that many of us have in common is that we are in our 20s-40s and still putting the pieces together. The women of our modern world have a new set of challenges that they haven’t before… we live in an expensive world, we work hard for what we have, and less and less of us are finding (or keeping) romantic partners, for a myriad of reasons. Many of us are finding our partners when we are older than ever before, too.

After working for a YA publisher, I saw firsthand that many readers of the increasingly popular YA genre are not actually teenagers, but ladies 20-45yrs who enjoy the fun storylines and fast pace of YA novels. At first I wondered if I had just missed out on something huge and everyone else was reliving the best years of their life. My own teenage years were a blur of anguish, loneliness, religious confusion, and abuse. Did everyone else really have all of these great adventures and romances in high school? I mean, maybe some people really did fall in love with hot vampires, go on adventures to Ibiza, sip expensive champagne, and hang out with fashion designers when they were 16. Hey, the Kardashians exist! It’s possible, sure.

But the truth is, there’s a scary gap in entertainment between sexy seventeen year old girls and the middle age stresses of traditional femininity. Bond girls seem to get younger and younger with every Bond movie. Even the chick lit category seems to be moving younger and older respectively. (Thank God for you, Sophie Kinsella. Please never stop writing!)

Women looking for exciting stories featuring female characters are flooding to the YA genre, because that’s where all the fun stories are.

I don’t see many of my friends in pop culture, and Amy Schumer can’t carry the almost-30-heroine torch alone.

Ebook- Date an AlienWith my upcoming book Dating an Alien Pop Star, I have a female protagonist who’s a lot like the women I know. Daisy didn’t have the easiest time in her teenage years… or her early 20s… or her mid 20s. Somewhere in her late 20s she decided to take a major risk and throw away the safe life that had been pushed on her, and move to New York City. Of course she’s kidnapped by aliens almost immediately, because nothing ever, ever, ever goes how you expect it to in New York.

Daisy also falls on the demi side of the sexuality spectrum, so she’s avoided hookup culture and finds herself at the crossroads of 30, single, and not sure if she feels as guilty about it as society says she should. She’d really like a partner, but until she finds one worth her time, she’s going to take care of herself and her dreams, thank you very much.

It gets discouraging for people like Daisy (and me, or you) when we see all the great, fun, exciting stories only going to beautiful CW-channel teenagers or twenty-one-year-olds who are preternaturally wealthy and well connected. Those stories are fun, sure, but they shouldn’t be all we see. We need first time love stories with a twenty-seven year old woman. With a thirty-five year old. With a forty-one year old. There are vampires, princes/princesses, and cute firemen to be met, even if you’re thirty-one. There are quests to go on, even at thirty-six. There are adventures for aromantic/asexual women who want to do something amazing and don’t care about falling in love. If guys can have movies and books about their life at every single age from 10-98, shouldn’t us ladies?

Bio:

12391420_10153788569476411_2361644470289704466_nKendra L. Saunders is a time-and-space traveling fashionista author who writes books about magical, dark-haired men, interviews famous people, and suggests way too many bands to you via whatever social media platform she can get her hands on. She writes with good humor because humor is the best weapon for a girl who can’t learn karate (or ballroom dancing). She is the author of upcoming sci-fi rom-com DATING AN ALIEN POP STAR, upcoming fantastical comedy THE UNLOVE SPELL, the magic realism novel INANIMATE OBJECTS, the dark comedy DEATH AND MR. RIGHT and the poetry collection GEMINIS AND PAST LIVES.

Find her online at www.kendralsaunders.com, on twitter at @kendrybird, and on instagram @kendralsaunders

Dating an Alien Pop Star: Amazon

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I accept 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

August Ketchup

31 Aug

August’s Ketchup

Wow! Another month has passed, and with it, Seconds Before Sunrise has released. (And the last novel releases in September!) I was blown away by your support this past month, so thank you! I have more prizes and fun coming your way soon.

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 posts, my top referrer, #1 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 August!

Big Moments:

Seconds Before Sunrise released! This has definitely been a crazy season to keep up with for me, but I’m loving every second of it. I’m so happy to have the sequel out and in readers’ hands, and I hope you’re enjoying the read as much as I’m enjoying hearing from you all. To everyone who supported my book release by helping, tweeting, Facebook-ing, and more, thank you. You make up the Dark.

Minutes Before Sunset went up for FREE everywhere. This may not seem like a “big” moment for everyone, but it was for me. Anything I’ve never done before is a big moment, and this was my first time having one of my works out there for free. It was definitely a learning opportunity, and I loved it! In fact, I’m still loving it. Minutes Before Sunset even got as high as #5 in science-fiction, #7 in paranormal, and in the top 500 Kindle books overall.

The first time I've ever held Death Before Daylight.

The first time I’ve ever held Death Before Daylight.

We also had the Minutes Before Sunset blog tour this month, which was awesome. (And if you missed my guest posts and interviews, all links are below). While that was going on, I flew to Atlanta to meet a long-time blogger friend of mine, and it was a delight, and when I got back, we celebrated the sequel’s release. The very next day, Death Before Daylight arrived in the mail. For those of you who have been following me since this trilogy was first published, you know that I’ve never been able to hold this book in my hands. I teared up at the moment. I’ve been waiting for it for almost a year after it was supposed to release. It reminds me that dreams will always come true, as long as you keep trying. 

It was definitely a busy month, and I look forward to the excitement of September as well. Keep your eyes out for the Seconds Before Sunrise blog tour, the release of Death Before Daylight,  and more!

Stay Dark,

~SAT

#1 Referrer Other Than Search Engines was Facebook

#1 Referrer Other Than Search Engines was Facebook

Top Three Blog Posts: 

  1. The Emotions of Listing a Book For Free: Oh, silly ol’ me. Minutes Before Sunset went up for free this month, and I wrote a very honest post about my emotions surrounding it—all from horror to delight to absolute excitement.
  2. Seconds Before Sunrise Evolution Day: Seconds Before Sunrise released, and it was a delightful day, full of chocolate, surprises, and fun, but the post covers the seven-year journey of this trilogy, starting in 2008 when it was first written and ending today upon release day.
  3. Confessions of a Slow Writer: I’m a slow writer! I confessed, and now, you can read all about my confession.
#1 Clicked Item was Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon.

#1 Clicked Item was Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon.

Other Blog Posts:

Guest Post:

If You Could Be Any of Your Characters on Black-Words, White-Pages: I talk about my love for sidekicks, especially Jonathon Stone in The Timely Death Trilogy.

How To Make Your Paranormal Novel Stand Out on One Good Guy’s Guide to Good Reads, I talked about how I made my paranormal novel stand out by creating my own world inside of a world with new creatures.

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 want to be one of these websites, feel free to join my newsletter or email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I always love speaking with new bloggers, writers, and readers! I will also share your post on all of my websites.

Reviewers:

Minutes Before Sunset: Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts, Cloud Nine Girl, I Feel The Need, The Need to Read

Death Before Daylight: The Modest Verge Book Blog, Macy Stories

Interviews: Melissa Book Buzz, Deal Sharing Aunt, Juniper Grove Book Solutions, More Than You Wanted to Know

Features: A Fold in the Spine, Girls With Books, The Bookie Monster, Mythical Books, The Cheshire Cat’s Looking Glass, The Wonderings of One Person, Lady Amber’s Reviews, and in the article, You Love Them, but How Well Do You Know Your Favorite Authors?

Calculated on August 26 at 19,887 followers

Calculated on August 26 at 19,887 followers

#MondayBlogs Writing About Heroes, Protagonists, and Other Characters with Disabilities

3 Aug

Intro:

Diversity in fiction is a popular topic, and with good reason. Aside from a lack of ethnicities in mainstream media, there is also a lack of diversity in sexuality and disabilities. That’s why I was more than ecstatic when author Frederick Crook approached me with an idea for these Monday guest blog slots. He expressed a true passion for writing stories with heroes and other characters with disabilities, and I commend him for addressing this literature issue head-on…but I’ll let him explain it. Welcome, Frederick!

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.

Writing About Heroes, Protagonists, and Other Characters with Disabilities by Frederick Crook

A couple of years ago, I wrote a short story entitled, Runt Pulse. It’s a dystopian adventure that features a protagonist that suffered a stroke brought about by a malfunctioning military grade, bio-electronic implant. The result is partial paralysis of his right side, affecting everything from his foot to his facial muscles. Now, I had seen the effects of such a tragedy on a neighbor of mine several years ago, and, fortunately for him, he slowly recovered. Many people aren’t nearly as lucky.

So, I encountered a person on Facebook that belonged to the same writers’ group as I did. I have no idea why he was in the group, as he had no publications that I could find, but I digress. He bought Runt Pulse, which I truly appreciated, but went on to complain that I had made a disabled individual the hero of the story. This took me by surprise because I had made that aspect of the story paramount. To me, it was like saying that I liked Doctor Who, but the time travel bit is a real turn-off.

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Exactly. It would be bonkers. Furthermore, why not have a protagonist with a disability? It’s not like I’m the first one to come up with the idea, either. Ever hear of Ironside, starring Raymond Burr? He played a police detective that was shot and left paralyzed. The show ran eight seasons from 1967 to 1975. For the younger audiences, we have Daredevil, a blind superhero from comic books. There was a movie starring Ben Affleck and now there’s a brand new series on Netflix. Clearly, there’s an audience.

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I have an author friend by the name of Jerrod Begora. His daughter has Down’s Syndrome. He’s written two books featuring a strong female protagonist with the condition. In, The Blood Between Us, the character Lorelei has Downs and, as the story progresses, she is obliged to become a vampire hunter. In the next book, Lorelei is denied a job with the police department and, not one to stand for it, she becomes a private detective in, The Case of the Missing Cat.

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I’m sure many of us author-types know someone who has written such books. They’re uplifting, empowering and inspiring stories that need to be told.

In fact, if one devotes some thought to this, it should become evident that most heroes in novels and comic books have a disability of some kind. It’s what makes a lot of them endearing to readers. What would the Punisher be like if he had not lost his wife and two children to mob violence? He’d be pretty damned boring had he not suffered such a horrible tragedy. Now, I understand that he’s not the most endearing comic book character ever, but how about Batman? Young Bruce Wayne was forever changed and emotionally damaged when his parents were killed right in front of him. The tragedy molded and inspired the character.

Certainly, such emotional trauma must be as disabling in some circumstances as a physical condition. The trick is for authors to turn the disadvantage into an interesting advantage. Case in point, my character, Detective Frank Campanelli from Campanelli: The Ping Tom Affair and Campanelli: Sentinel.

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Frank is a homicide detective originally from New York, but a fire in his apartment building took his wife and son from him, as well as his vision. The man relocated to Chicago, where he continued in his profession due to some very helpful bio-electronic implants that allow him to see well enough to live and do his job in an almost normal fashion.

What inspired me to create this character? That’s easy. When I was four years old, I had an accident in our Cicero home where I lost my right eye. Fast forward through three decades and I found myself writing two novels and three short stories centered around an event I called the “Great Exodus”, a massive migration of the human race to another, much larger planet. Quite naturally, I began to wonder what it would be like in a future world to have the technology to restore sight. That, paired with the wish to write about Chicago, the place where I was born, brought about the Campanelli stories.

If there’s one thing I want my fellow authors out there to take away from this, it’s that you can’t be afraid to feature a character with a physical or mental disability. Just do so with tact and respect, and don’t give any detractors a second thought, for they’re clearly suffering from debilitating cases of extreme negativity.

Bio:

Frederick was born in Chicago in 1970 and now lives in Villa Park with his wife, Rae and their three miniature dachshunds. He began by writing fictional works all through high school, earned an Associate Degree of Applied Science in Electronics in 1994 and the Bachelor of Science in Technical Management from DeVry University in 2005.

In 2009, Frederick began writing his first novel, The Dregs of Exodus, which was self-published in late 2010. This was followed up with another novel, The Pirates of Exodus in 2012.

Throughout that year and early 2013, he continued writing and published four short stories in eBook form for Kindle and Nook. All of these stories share the same premise, but all are independent from one another, though the short eBook, Campanelli: The Ping Tom Affair and his third novel, published by Solstice Publishing, Campanelli: Sentinel, share the same main characters.

Minuteman Merlin was released for the Kindle by Solstice Publishing, March 1st of 2015.

He loves writing and enjoys meeting and talking to readers at book signing events.

WebsiteFacebook Page, Twitter @FrederickHCrook, Pinterest,

Amazon Author PageYouTube Channel

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

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