Tag Archives: E.L. James

#MondayBlogs: It’s Never Too Late To Start Writing Your Best Seller

20 Jul

Intro:

I love infographics. How many times have I said that on here? They are fantastic. Quick, fun, and reliable, I’ve always had a good time seeing stats unfolded on a beautiful display for all to see, and this one is no exception. As writers, we are often way too hard on ourselves, and I know I worry about how I’m spending my time in regards to my writing career. Heck, even though I started at 16, I’ve been feeling down about turning 24 and waiting for my release dates to get back into the market. This infographic is sure to stop that sort of worry in its tracks. Today, thanks to Essaymama, we get to see where our favorite writers started, some as young as 13, others as late as 65.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the authors 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)

It’s Never Too Late To Start Writing Your Best Seller by Essay Mama

Do you think it is too late to leave your mark in the world literature and become an author of a new bestseller? Essaymama writing service doesn’t think so. Do you know that Virginia Woolf started writing at 27 years and become popular at 43 years after publishing “Mrs. Dalloway”? Do you know that Haruki Murakami was a bar manager till 29 years? And Charles Bukovski was a postman till his 40? Find out more from the following infographic and start writing right now, it is never too late.

essay writing never too late to start writingV4

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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#WW: Can We Stop Hating on E.L. James and Stephenie Meyer?

1 Jul

Can We Stop Hating on E.L. James and Stephenie Meyer?

Seriously. Are we over it yet? Surely, we can find something better to do by now—like talking about authors you love instead of the ones you hate.

I get it. I do. A lot of people had issues with the content of these stories, and they feel that they must express what was wrong with it and why. Don’t get me wrong. I deeply support you stating your opinion. What I don’t support is things like this:

The Twitter Live Chat with ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ author E.L. James Did Not Go Well. But since this article shows the “nicer” tweets, try going to Twitter and typing in #AskELJames. It’s horrendous.

There is a time and a place and a way to talk about what you disagree with and what you dislike. Take this article, for instance. Instead of bombarding a fan Q&A, these tweeters could’ve emailed her, written a review, posted on a blog, or a million other things, but instead, they took time away from her fans just because they don’t like/agree with her work. I don’t care if you agree with her work or not. This is the author equivalent of being a heckler at a comedic show. You showed up just to ruin it for everyone else just because you don’t like it. It’s like showing up at a movie theater and playing loud music so no one can enjoy the movie just because you find it offensive. It’s just noise. Again, I have nothing wrong with someone stating they do not like someone/something, but there is a time and place. At a fan Q&A is neither the time nor the place.

It’s moments like this that are causing a dramatic change in the publishing industry, and it terrifies me. More and more authors are retreating from social media completely (and, in turn, their fans), including people like John Green, who was recently accused of being a child molester just because he writes for teens.

Didn’t see that?

Well, here’s an article for you: ‘Fault in Our Stars’ author John Green launches furious attack on Tumblr users for accusing him of sexual abuse and being a pedophile. Keep in mind this is the man who wrote about cancer in The Fault in Our Stars, life and death in Looking For Alaska, and friendship in the novel and the upcoming movie, Paper Towns.

While we’re at it, here’s an article from the infamous Cassandra Clare about why she left social media for a while. ‘Mortal Instruments’ Creator Reveals How Female Authors Can be ‘Dehumanized’ by their own Fandom. Spoiler Alert: People were harassing her.

pic

By now, I hope my article’s title has gone beyond Stephenie Meyer and EL James, but I had to use their names because it seems—to me—that everyone loves to hate them, and no one sees that there are hundreds of other authors going through the same thing, because—unfortunately—it has become a trend. This sort of behavior does nothing but damage writers and readers alike. Again, I understand wanting to educate readers—but write an article. Write a review. Email the author directly. (Most have an email, and by the sounds of 50 Shades, EL James is probably a fan of email.) Talk to your friends, even. You know what? Go ahead and tweet your disagreements too, but try not to during a time set aside for fans. Put yourself in their shoes. What if you were at a book signing for your favorite author and it got canceled because someone showed up with a microphone shouting obscenities just because they didn’t like your favorite author? What if you FINALLY got to meet J.K. Rowling and someone was there, screaming about witchcraft and the devil the whole time? It just isn’t cool or fair or getting anyone anywhere.

On top of that, it should not be acceptable for people to tweet, “Has your husband killed himself yet?” for ANY reason. (This was a real tweet sent to EL James.) We should not support tweeters who make fun of disorders, like mental health issues, just because they want to make fun of an author (or anyone for that matter). I wish I could quote who said this (so please comment if you know because I cannot find it), butthere is a difference between criticism of a work and abuse of a human being.” And we should not just brush this off as “That’s the Internet nowadays.”

It doesn’t have to be.

The Internet can be as positive as we make it.

It starts with us.

Tweet about who you love. Go to their Q&As. Represent yourself well. And if you dislike something, email them, tell your friends, write an informative article. Hell, tweet to them during another time that isn’t meant for fans, and definitely don’t dehumanize an author (or anyone).

But for freakin sake,

Stop being a troll

~SAT

P.S. Just to reiterate an important part: It’s okay to dislike something and to express that dislike. I just feel like there is a time and place to state such things, like tweeting during a time that isn’t meant for fans. I also believe there is a way to express yourself. Ex. “I dislike this because a, b, and c.” rather than “You’re a pedophile for writing for teens, John Green.”

I’m afraid more and more authors are going to leave the social realm completely if things do not change. That is why I wrote this article—to encourage a more positive social environment on the Internet before everyone gives up and leaves. I truly believe it begins with us. It begins with expressing your dislikes in a meaningful way, but it grows when you share the authors you love more than talking about the ones you hate. Everything begins with love, and I love this industry more than anything.

P.S. OMG. (Can I say OMG? Can I? Just this one, little time? Please?)

We’re officially in July! 

Minutes Before Sunset releases in 27 days on July 28, 2015! 

Today is also the LAST day to enter the Goodreads Giveaway, but you can also pre-order Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, and Seconds Before Sunrise, book 2, by clicking the links.

Stay tuned. Stay Dark. ~SAT

Pre-order today!

Pre-order today!

#MondayBlogs: When Writing is Not All You Do

4 May

Intro:

Back in February of 2013, I wrote a little blog post called Writing Tips: How to Handle Rejection. A huge part of this post was dedicated to John Tompkins. At the time, he wrote a blog called Rejection Love Letters (Or How to Lose Agents and Alienate Publishers). That blog no longer exists, but it was one of my favorites. Why? Because John Tompkins had a fearlessness many crave. He shared his rejection letters from publishers with humor and honesty, and while I think every writer has been rejected, he was open about it, and that is rare. Since then, he has since self-published, and today, he is writing an article for us about another topic many authors can relate to—working and writing, as two separate full-time jobs.

When Writing is Not All You Do

Writing is easy. Getting published is hard. This is especially true for those who work and have families. It’s pretty difficult to advance your writing career when you’re alternating your time between a job, washing dishes after dinner, bathing your child and helping with laundry.

A writer recently posted an item on Salon claiming that authors who do nothing but write, thanks to financial security, shouldn’t be judged because they have the luxury to live all writing all the time.

cover 2One encouraging thing the writer did say, however, is that those who are privileged should disclose that and not pretend that they had to fight through the clutter on Amazon or through the slush pile with a publisher to get noticed. Many of them have connections in the publishing industry and quite simply don’t know what it’s like to struggle. The Salon writer offered two examples of successful writers. One is due to inherit a sizable fortune and has time to do nothing but write. The other is a young woman who was the only child of a couple heavily involved in the New York literary scene. Her being published was foregone the moment she was born.

I’m a married father of one with another one due in June. I also work full time, mostly writing at night while my wife’s asleep or during King of Queens reruns. Have to fit it in somewhere.

I’ve written now, three books (ok two books and one novella) all of which have been rejected (I’ve got more than 100 reject letters). Most of the letters I made fun of by posting to a now defunct blog. Reading the rejections, I noticed that they all pretty much sounded the same. “Sorry, you’re good, but you’re not spectacular.” I gave up with agents and publishers and decided, after having two PhD’s edit my book, to just put it out there.

I posted it to Amazon about a month ago. Hopefully it will make it through all of the clutter but I guess we’ll see. I’m doing my best to market it and I’m also struggling to find reviewers.

I think my problem with the publishing industry is mostly the second example. Too many people who are talented with something valuable to say are ignored by publishers because they didn’t grow up in the Northeast or have connections from graduate school. So they’re ignored. It’s a disservice to readers and the art in general. I said as much in a comment to the Salon story.

It shouldn’t anger me so much to hear authors who start off wealthy and have nothing to do but write. But it does and it is easy to get discouraged.

There are the handful of success stories, notably E.L. James and a series of books you may have heard of, Fifty Shades of Grey. She self-published her novels originally as e-books. You know the rest of the story. One of the tidbits I enjoy about her success is when the director was making the ending to the recently released movie, James ordered him to make the ending she wanted. That’s control that most authors never get because so few have subsidiary rights. (Further ironic because the whole story is about personal control and giving it up.) This all being said, James was a television executive when she was writing Fifty Shades. But unlike other privileged writers, she released her works as any other independent author. Her books actually started out as fan fiction of the Twilight series.

This is about the only thing I think that keeps me going. When I’m sitting in my bed at 12 a.m. trying to hit my daily 1,500-word quota on number four, I can only dream about the day when I can type at a desk during the day. I will probably still have King of Queens on in the background though.

Bio:

John Tompkins is a writer living in Texas. He is a former newspaper reporter specializing in court coverage, education and government. He is now working as a communications coordinator at local college.

Book & Blog

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

Website Wonders

29 May

Hi, everyone! For once, I’m not announcing anyone. I am back, and I am blogging! ::does a little dance even though you’re watching::

I am really happy to be back (obviously) and I am even happier that you all enjoyed the guest bloggers of May. Today is reserved for Website Wonders – all of the websites that I have obsessed over this month, so I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. The articles are organized into these topics: In the News, Writing Tips, For Readers, The Poets, Inspire, and For Fun and Laughter. All links will send you to the article.

Enjoy!

In the News:

As Publishers Fight Amazon, Books Vanish:  This article is first for many reasons. I’m really passionate about the publishing industry, and I want to see it succeed for everyone. I know. I know. Many have been taking Amazon’s side because everyone “hates” the big 5 – but shifting the power from 5 to 1 is not a good idea. Plus, preventing David Sedaris’ novels is never going to fly. Either is preventing Robert Galbraith. (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling) But I’ll stop ranting here.

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Book 4 Coming?: E.L. James is heating up the publishing world (and Kindles) again! Kind of. Photo included. Kind of.

Tim Burton to direct ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ slated for July 2015: Muh-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. ::cue the creepy and delightful laughter:: I am a huge Tim Burton fan.

Writing Tips:

Cheat Sheets for Writing Body Language:  This was really popular on my Facebook page. It’s an amazingly thorough list of different ways to describe body language based on emotions.

This Sentence Has Five Words: I can’t explain this because it would spoil the piece, but I definitely recommend it.

5 Editor’s Secrets to Help You Write Like a Pro

My friend sent me this

My friend sent me this

13 Wonderful Old English Words We Should Still Be Using Today

For Readers:

7 Historical Parallels to ‘Game of Thrones’: If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you will absolutely love this.

32 People Reveal The One Book That Blew Their Minds: My favorite novel is on here! Is yours?

For Lexophiles (lover of words): Read these sentences twice. You will love them.

From Random House

From Random House

33 More Things We’d Do if We Were Locked in a Bookstore Overnight: What would you do in Barnes & Noble?

Q&A with Cassandra Clare: I just finished City of Heavenly Fire last night :]

The Poets:

Words and Pictures by Grant Snider: This comic is hilarious and true!

He’s Counting Down from 21, and By the Time He Reaches 15, My Stomach was in Knots: These sort of poems live in the depths of your soul forever.

Inspire:

Top Ten Mythical Places

No Photoshop. These Are Real Animals! These models and their animals are fantastical.

12 Photos of the Strangest Weather Phenomena Ever Witnessed

These 22 Far Away Perspectives of Famous Places Will Change the Way You See Them Forever: Who doesn’t like a change in perspective?

Artist Turns Dead Old Watches into Creepy Mechanical Crawlies 

30 Awesome Photos from Iceland

From David Olenick

From David Olenick

For Fun and Laughter:

Which Magical Creature Are You? I am a Sphinx

20 Funny Cat Photos That Are Sure to Make You Smile

~SAT

My Thoughts On: Fifty Shades of Grey

6 May

One Announcement: I’ll be reading poetry at the University of Kansas this Wednesday at 11 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. in the English Room. If you live in Kansas, come out and support some talented poets! 

Back on April 10, 2013, I introduced a new topic, My Thoughts On, and I posted My Thoughts On: Young-Adult Fiction.

I did this for numerous reasons, but it really came down to the fact that I feel as if the analytical structures behind very popular novels do not seem to get discussed anymore. Sure, the plot, characters, and overall story does. But what about the sheer reasoning behind why it became so popular in the first place? I restate this, because I want to clarify that, although theses are “My Thoughts,” they are not my personal opinion on whether or not I enjoyed the novels, but rather why I think they became what they are. And analyzing popular books, especially as a writer, can help anyone understand the mainstream industry (even more so when the book isn’t originally considered mainstream.)

Book cover of Fifty Shades of Grey

Book cover of Fifty Shades of Grey

So I asked followers to comment on what they wanted to hear about, and here were the suggestions (with votes)

Fifty Shades of Grey: 2

Twilight: 2

The Hunger Games: 2

Eragon: 1

And, since there was a tie, I decided to go with the first mentioned novel, and that was Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. However, I am not going to bother going into description of the novel, as I’m going to assume this conversation is more about the why, and the plot will come out during the discussion.

I highly encourage everyone to comment as a healthy debate, which means, to me at least, to please keep out personal like or dislike (ex/ I hated this novel!) because, again, that is not what this is about. I encourage, however, “I don’t think the novel worked because of A or B, but rather C or D. I hope this makes sense. If it does not, I apologize. But, without further ado, this is my analysis on the popular, English erotica. (WARNING: There are spoilers below)

1. Language: In this specific case, I think it’s really important to remember where this novel came from. It was originally Twilight fan fiction, and it was written on a blog. The author is British, and, when reading this novel, knowing these few facts can change the opinion of the reader. Some of the slang my come across as awkward to American readers, but this is not something James should be judged for. She’s British. Of course her writing will have British terms. Granted, the argument I’ve heard about the setting taking place in America means it should use American slang makes sense. But I can sympathize with a writer, because she was a blogger. It wasn’t expected to get popular, and it first came out in Britain. I’ve read plenty of American books that take place in other countries that do not have that country’s slang.

When it comes to the explicit language, I had no problem with it. After all, it is an erotica (And, again, it’s English erotica, and Britain is more open towards sex than America is.) To me, complaining about sexual language in a British erotica, is like complaining about blunt honesty in a memoir. It’s the point, and it wouldn’t be true to the art without pushing boundaries held within the norm.

2. Characters: To me, the characters were the most important part of this novel and why I believe it went mainstream. James, unlike many erotic authors, had a reason behind the extreme sexuality of Christian Grey. He was abused sexually, and then he was taken under the arm of another woman who was sexually abused. She showed him, through a series of what is legally sexual abuse with a minor, how to control his fears by exposing him to S&M. Granted, he was the submissive, but the explanation given from Grey later (when he talks about how the submissive does not have to worry, because everything is chosen for them) explains how Grey was finally able to relax within his inner demons. (I am by no means saying this is right. However, I am saying it showed a reason behind his actions, and I commend James for creating a believable background story that led up to his present self.) A perfect example of this believability, although sickening, is when Grey confesses to Anastasia that all of his previous submissives, and Anna, resemble his mother. Another example happens at the very end of the three novels when we finally are able to see Grey right after he was adopted. He cannot hug his own adoptive parents, and the woman who takes him under, because he learns how to deal with it, is now able to touch his parents and other loved ones. He is attempting to defeat his problems, even if he isn’t consciously aware of it.

Now, Anastasia Steele. She’s a different story. I found parts of her to be completely contrasting to her behavior and background, especially in the first novel. However, she is an adult, and she can make whatever sexual decisions she wants to make, and she does. Even while being a submissive, James shows Ana’s ability to rebel when it came to the “hard limits” in the contract. This showed a realistic part of her I think many readers forget. However, I think Anastasia becomes much more believable in the end. And, in my opinion, she definitely becomes the dominant one once Grey realizes she isn’t a submissive, but rather a lover willing to be dominated in the bedroom but not in nonsexual parts of life. I think it’s also important, again, to go back to the Twilight fan-fic part. She was based off Bella Swan, a human who dates a vampire. That’s a very submissive role, so Anastasia being submissive is necessary in the sense of who she is based on.

3. Plot: Sex. Sex. E-mails. More sex. An argument. More sex. Everyone knows the basic plot, but I found the scenes between the sex to be the most telling, because that is when readers learn of Grey’s past and such. However, there was one scene to particular that struck me as brilliant, considering the context of sex. I have to admit that I cannot remember which of the three books it appeared in (and I leant my copies to a friend) so feel free to remind me (please!) It’s the lipstick scene. As all readers know, Christian Grey, because of his abuse (specifically with cigarette burns) he cannot be touched on his chest, and Anastasia pulls out her lipstick. She draws “barrier lines” on his body, so she can literally see the places he cannot handle. And, eventually, she breaks through these. This scene, from an analytical standpoint, not only stays true to the eroticism but the emotional boundaries of sexual abuse that I thought the author ultimately succeeded in. Basically, in terms of plot, it seems very pointless at the surface if the reader only pays attention to the sex. But, if someone looks into these scenes deeper, they will see a very dark reality many people struggle with on a day-to-day basis. This is, quite literally, a couple who works through it together, and, ultimately, ends with a connection created from the suffering they’ve endured. Fifty Shades of Grey really isn’t just an erotic adventure, but an exploration of sex under the pressures of extreme sexual abuse and the relationships (and people) effected by it.

4. Movie Adaptations: Seeing as this is not a movie yet (but is in the process) I cannot say much here. But I can say one thing. I hope the directors are honest to the work. I hope it is rated R, as it is meant for adults, and I hope they do not hold back on sex. However, I am not saying every scene should be explicit. In fact, I hope the focus isn’t necessarily just the sex, but the point of the sex, which truly revolved around Christian Grey’s abusive past. I’m afraid they will not explain how he became the way he is, because sexual abuse is often very difficult for viewers. I understand not having some of the horrible scenes (like being next to his dead mother or having S&M sex with an older woman) but my hopes is that they explain it (or at least hint to it) in a way that a viewer who has not read the book will understand. If they don’t do this, I’m afraid the novel will come across as what many already see it as: a pointless S&M novel. And, under analysis, I do not feel this way about the piece.

So why was it so popular? Fifty Shades of Grey pushed through the barrier of erotic fiction by facing a dark reality many struggle with. Instead of only being sexually based, it had a promise. One that suggested there are ways to deal with sexual abuse (Again, I’m not advocating S&M, but rather showing a specific way one couple was effected by it.) And, because of this, the appearance of a simple plot deepened into a complexity many erotic novels have not done before. It was also based on an already popular novel, and she gained many older followers that way. Hence the mainstream.

I hope you enjoyed a more specific “My Thoughts On.” Feel free to suggest more novels in the comment section and/or debate away! I love hearing what other readers and writers have to say. It’s fascinating, and I thrive on meaningful conversations that can potential show the meaning of art and where art can go in the future.

~SAT

P.S. Don’t forget that my young-adult novel, Minutes Before Sunset, is now for sale for $6.99 (plus a 20% discount until Wednesday)

There’s also an array of favorited quotes on Goodreads: two examples below

“Her kiss could kill us, and my consent signed our death certificates, selfishly and without control. (Eric)”

“I knew nothing of death, and, for some unexplainable reason, I was beginning to feel guilty for that. (Jessica)”

Thank you for all of your support! This release week has been very exciting! And Bogart is very happy you enjoyed all of his tips. I promised I’d post his collection of toys he’s received:

Bogart's pile of toys he collects in places on a regular basis.

Bogart’s pile of toys he collects in places on a regular basis.

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