Tag Archives: english major

#MondayBlogs An Author Who Fears Public Speaking

15 Aug

Despite working with the English language every day—as a writer, as an editor, and as a reader—I have difficulty speaking. I stumble and stutter a lot. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I worked so hard to master the written language. I was making up for another aspect of the language I didn’t excel in.

Looking back on it, I blamed moving around a lot as a kid—mixing up accents and idioms—but I don’t use blame anymore. In fact, I’ve rather embraced this awkward part of myself, and it no longer bothers me like it used to. A common comeback from a friend generally includes phrases like, “Okay. English major.” Or “Aren’t you the writer here?” Yeah. Yeah. I get it. I stutter. But it’s an accepted part of my life now, something I don’t fight, something I realized most people look past anyway. I was the one judging myself.

Take this anecdote as an example…

On a drive back from the grocery store, I saw Venus and Jupiter in the sky. I am a HUGE space nerd—probably due to Sailor Moon—so I started rambling about how new information on Pluto released, and that’s when I came across the word “meteors.” The problem was simple. I had just finished talking about how Meg Cabot’s final book in the Mediator series, and now I had to say meteor? It wasn’t happening. I stumbled for three minutes. Eventually, it turned into a giggle fit.

I know the words. I know how to say the words. I just can’t explain why it doesn’t come out that way. But I think the saddest part is when people can no longer take you seriously when you stumble over a word or two. In all honesty, I haven’t had that problem much. In fact, I think I simply worried that it would happen, so I stayed silent. My speech class in college got me over that fear. If I can say this without bragging, I got a big ol’ A in that course. (I know. I know. It’s speech class. But it meant the world to me. In fact, it meant Pluto, Jupiter, and Venus to me.) Up until that point, I thought there was no way I could succeed as a writer with a pronunciation issue like mine. What was I supposed to do if I ever booked a signing where I had to read a chapter out loud? The horror! What happens when people think I couldn’t have possibly written the words if I couldn’t speak them? Double horror! How do I explain myself? …I just died from horror.

It was a panic attack waiting to happen…a panic attack I overcame a long time ago but still comes back every now and then when I have to say specific or pacific, shoulder or solider, Neanderthal, and, I suppose, meteor or mediator. (Fun fact: I stumbled over mediator in my YouTube video—Book Boyfriends—and said “med-a-tore” instead. I suppose I could’ve deleted it, reshot it, edited it out, but…I’ve embraced this part of myself.) At my recent book signings in Barnes & Noble, I even messed up “Wattpad.” For some reason, I cannot, for the life of me, say “watt.” I always say “what.” So, “Whatpad” it is, and the crowd laughed when I made a joke about it. My fear somehow turned into laughter.

These are all words I avoided saying out loud. All words I’ve used in stories a hundred times. All words that are, no matter what, precious to me.

“Emma Saying” on YouTube and “How To Pronounce” are two websites I use on a regular basis to practice. I don’t avoid words anymore, but I still stumble, and I imagine that’s just a part of me that makes me me—a character in my own right—a writer who stumbled over her love for words.

Four events in the past year where I overcame my fear for public speaking!

Four events in the past year where I overcame my fear of public speaking!

Original posted July 22, 2015

~SAT

Bad Bloods: November Snow by Shannon A. Thompson

Bad Bloods: November Snow by Shannon A. Thompson

Bad Bloods: November Snow FINALLY came in the mail this week! Safe to say, I’m in love. On top of that, a lovely reader sent me a November Snow book review that cracked me up. “THE AUTHOR GAME OF THRONED ME AND I WAS IN MY FEELINGS OKAY?!?!?!?” – Chic Nerd Reads …Yep. I love your Bad Bloods book reviews. Thank you for sending them to me. 

Right now, Bad Bloods: November Rain (book 1) is FREE across all platforms. I hope you check it out. I’ll be debuting the paperbacks at Penned Con in St. Louis this September, and I’ll be sharing a booth with the lovely Natasha Hanova. Stop by her page and say hi!

November Rain (FREE)

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow 

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

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#WW The Difference of Pronunciation and Writing

22 Jul

#WW Pronunciation and Writing

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris demanded my attention simply from the title. Despite working with the English language every day—both as a writer and as an editor—I have difficulty speaking. I stumble and stutter a lot. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I worked so hard to master the written language. I was making up for another aspect of the language I didn’t excel in.

Looking back on it, I blamed moving around a lot as a kid—mixing up accents and phrases and idioms—but I don’t have much blame anymore. In fact, I’ve rather embraced this awkward part of myself, and it no longer bothers me like it used to. While most people around me avoided bringing it up a few years ago, it’s now a common joke. “Okay. English major.” “Aren’t you the writer here?” Both phrases I now hear on a regular basis, paired with laughter and a “Yeah. yeah. I get it.” It’s an accepted part of my life now, something I don’t fight, something I realized most people look past anyway. I was the one judging myself.

Take the other day for example…

On a drive back from the grocery store, I saw Venus and Jupiter in the sky. I am a HUGE space nerd—probably due to Sailor Moon—so I started rambling about how new information on Pluto released, discussing spots on the surface, and NASA was speculating what could’ve caused it. That’s when I came across the word “meteors.” The problem was simple. I had just finished talking about how Meg Cabot’s final book in the Mediator series was coming out and now I had to say meteor? It wasn’t happening. I stumbled for three minutes. Eventually, it turned into a giggle fit.

I know the words. I know how to say the words. I just can’t explain why it doesn’t come out that way. But I think the saddest part is when people can no longer take you seriously when you stumble over a word or two. In all honesty, I haven’t had that problem much. In fact, I think I simply worried that it would happen, so I stayed silent. My speech class in college got me over that fear. If I can say this without bragging, I got a big ol’ A in that course. (I know. I know. It’s speech class. But it meant the world to me. In fact, it meant Pluto, Jupiter, and Venus to me.) Up until that point, I thought there was no way I could succeed as a writer with a pronunciation issue like mine. What was I supposed to do if I ever booked a signing where I had to read a chapter out loud? The horror! What happens when people think I couldn’t have possibly written the words if I couldn’t speak them? Double horror! How do I explain myself? …I just died from horror.

It was a panic attack waiting to happen…a panic attack I overcame a long time ago but still comes back every now and then when I have to say specific or pacific, shoulder or solider, Neanderthal, and, I suppose, meter or mediator. (Fun fact: I stumbled over mediator in my YouTube video—Book Boyfriends—and said “med-a-tore” instead. I suppose I could’ve deleted it, reshot it, edited it out, but I’ve embraced this part of myself.)

These are all words I avoided saying out loud. All words I’ve used in stories a hundred times. All words that are, no matter what, precious to me.

Two moments, two poetry readings, I overcame my fear.

Two moments, two poetry readings, I overcame my fear.

“Emma Saying” on YouTube and “How To Pronounce” are two websites I use on a regular basis to practice. I don’t avoid words anymore, but I still stumble, and I imagine that’s just a part of me that makes me me—a character in my own right—a writer who stumbled over her love for words.

~SAT

And…announcements…

promoI’ll be at Penned Con in St. Louis, Missouri THIS Saturday. I’m going as a reader, not as an author, so if you want to meet me, simply email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. In other news…

Minutes Before Sunset releases in 6 days. 6 DAYS! We’re less than a week away, and all of your support matters. You make a difference in my life, and for that, I thank you.

All three novels in The Timely Death Trilogy are up for pre-order: Minutes Before Sunset, Seconds Before Sunrise, and Death Before Daylight. Please check them out or share them with the teaser. That would also mean Pluto, Venus, and Jupiter to me. :]

ANDDDD don’t forget. CTP’s Midsummer newsletterMagic Prty is on July 30, from 7-9 p.m. on Facebook. You can win paperbacks, jewelry, and more – all by playing games. You know I’ll be there. :] OH! And I started a newsletter, so feel free to click here to sign up. You’ll get to win more prizes!

Get excited! More information to come.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs: My Issues With Literature

18 May

Intro:

From 2009 to 2013, I studied English at the University of Kansas, and during that time, I had to decide whether or not my focus would be on literature or on creative writing. I fought with my adviser over this for my first semester. He wanted me to pursue literature; I wanted to hone my writing skills. After I showed him a copy of November Snow, he relented, and I was an English major with a focus on creative writing. Now, that being said, the majority of my classes were still focused on studying different types of literature (instead of writing), and we often talked about the differences between literature and “other writings”, so today’s topic—discussed and written by Eliot Gilbert—hits home for me, and I hope you enjoy his post as much as I do.

My Issues With Literature

There is an elusive mythical status in the world of writing which can only be obtained, seemingly, by bribing (or blackmailing) scholars and booksellers. The status to which I refer is what I like to call capital “L” Literature, and I’m so against the term that I almost sighed by typing it out.

I am sure at least some of you have scratched your head trying to puzzle out the term “Literature”, without much avail. I, personally, am studying English Literature academically, and I still am not entirely sure what means. Its seems peculiar to me to have a distinction between literature and Literature.

Here’s where I think the largest mix-up is: the western literary canon seems to insist that a work should be valued as Literature if it has a superb artistic merit, and if it has significantly contributed to cultural development of the western world. At first that definition seems to be satisfactory, but when put under any amount of scrutiny, it simply does not hold up.

Modifications made under the creative commons license. Photo by Brittany Stevens.

Modifications made under the creative commons license. Photo by Brittany Stevens.

Firstly, the definition seems to imply objectivity. In truth, the decisions are entirely subjective; works of writing are determined Literature by scholars and researchers who have their own interests and methods of interpretation. Put differently, some works are ignored because a scholar has no interest in them, and some works are elevated because they speak personally to the critic.

So, it is impossible to responsibly define Literature as an objective status. This brings up the second largest problem, in my mind: it’s a ridiculous “dog chasing its tail” situation.

Literature is determined based on personal interest of the scholar, and then either accepted into the critical community or rejected, over a span of time, and through further interest by other scholars and researchers. What happens, then, is that certain work gets attention, and then that work is elevated to Literature, and other work is ignored or put down because it doesn’t fit the present definition of Literature. Those who are fellow writers may see a similar situation in getting published without previously being published.

This, in my mind, has caused a host of confusions and issues. The main issue for me is a general dismissal of genre fiction. I like to use The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty as my go-to example. The novel, especially the 40th anniversary edition, is brilliantly paced, highly imaginative, has artistic and disciplined prose, and makes the reader think and discuss rather than spells everything out for her. In addition to this, the novel has had millions of copies sold, and spawned several adaptations, not least of which was the first film adaptation, which became one of the highest grossing films of all time. By anyone’s definition, The Exorcist should be literature, but a quick search on Google Scholar will demonstrate that is simply not the case.

The western canon of literature is extremely genre-biased. Works of science fiction, horror, fantasy, suspense, and YA fiction, are frequently ignored only because there is a preconceived notion about the quality of writing which is altogether unhealthy and false. In my own experience, there is frequently unskilled work that is considered “general fiction”, or even what is considered “contemporary literary fiction”.

As readers and writers, I think we need to broaden our scope of what is considered exceptional writing.

In his book Literary Theory: An Introduction, critic Terry Eagleton asserts that Literature should not be viewed in the standard way I described, but instead, as work that is highly valuable. I believe it is infinitely more useful to view Literature in this way, because it encourages subjectivity.

That is not to say I believe the casual reader is as skilled at literary analysis as a PhD would be, but I do believe that we should stop capitalizing the “L” in Literature; “literature” is, simply put, anything that is written, and every written work deserves an equal scrutiny, regardless of genre or format.

So go out there and create wonderful literature, and read wonderful literature. But please, for the sake of us all, try to avoid the more snobbish, capitalized consonant variety.

author+pictureBio: Eliot Gilbert is an emerging fiction writer, primarily working the in soft fantastic. He is a proprietor of aesthetic approaches to literature, and thinks genre work isn’t given enough attention as a serious medium. His work is appearing in the fall issue of Calliope, the literary magazine of the special interest writing group of the American Mensa. He studies English at York University, in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on his website, on his Twitter, or on his Instagram.

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

#WW: Pros and Cons of Reading Goals

25 Mar

Intro:

Normally, I have guest bloggers on Mondays, but today is an exception. (Shannon accidentally overbooked her website for March). That being said, today’s guest blogger is discussing a topic I’m sure many book bloggers and bibliophiles can relate to: reading goals. We’ve all seen them, the 2015 reading goals, the reading challenges, the reading lists. CL Mannarino is an avid reader who has found herself facing many of these lists, and her enlightening discussion brings up the question of why we read in the first place.

Pros and Cons of Reading Goals

Last year, I had a goal to read 35 books. It was going to be brilliant: I had a whole list of books/series that I would tackle for that year. Each one was designed to either clean out my bookshelf (10 unread books for every 1 book I’d already enjoyed), or round me out into a more aware, well-read person.

Didn’t happen.

Instead, according to Goodreads, I read…maybe 19. There were a few books listed that I didn’t finish. So let’s say 15. That’s generous.

clmannarino_2014editIn the past, this would’ve torn me apart. I would read lists that appeared on Facebook saying, “How many of these classics have you read? Most people read less than ten” and hurriedly go through to make sure I’d tackled at least ten listed. After I could check off at least fifteen, I would smirk to myself and sit back.

Those kinds of things made me feel so well-rounded. Until I followed who would review James Baldwin and Jack Kerouac and I would feel guilty. None of those kinds of writers ever interested me. I was never an Austen person, and the only Bronte novel I enjoyed was Jane Eyre. But because I’m an English major, any post or person, no matter how off-base or high-horsed, telling me “well-rounded people read classics” made me feel guilty for not reading more of them.

It’s why I set my Goodreads goal. These other people – smart bloggers, who enjoyed deep literature that didn’t speak to me but I felt like ought to because I considered myself fairly intelligent – set lofty goals. Read more this year, they said.

They had plans. So I planned, too. And I planned a plan for someone else’s dreams instead of mine.  That, and I’d read about 30 books in 2013, so I thought I could duplicate my success.

I thought I’d be more broken up about it than I am. I thought I’d feel guiltier about reading so much more slowly this year than I do. More than anything, though, I feel relieved.

I didn’t meet the goal, but I didn’t become a less-rounded person because of it. I tackled some pretty important literature, but I also read a lot of duds. And I didn’t finish everything I started. I’d just decided I didn’t want to waste my time with something that didn’t hold my attention.

Don’t be afraid to not finish something, by the way. Often, you’ll wind up coming back to it in the future, when you’re ready to read it.

I think a big part of this guilt-free feeling is that I know more about my ability to fulfill resolutions than I did before. I know my desires better, and I’m not going to beat myself up for not being the kind of reader I expect myself to be. (Or the kind I expect myself to be based on others’ outspoken expectations of “good readers.”)

This year, I’m going to tackle my bookshelf. I’ll widen my horizons a little bit. I’ll read a few things I’ve bought. I’ll read some stories from places I’ve never read from before. Above all, I’ll go where my literary desires take me and keep the pressure off.

Reading was fun for me. It should be, still.

Bio:

CL Mannarino is a fantasy and realistic fiction writer and personal essayist. She works in Massachusetts as an editor while she writes, reads, walks, and bakes on the side. She’s trained in line-editing, extreme shoveling, and home improvement. CL can be found on her blog, her Facebook, or her Tumblr.”

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

Back to School

25 Jan

I’ve officially returned for my spring semester at the University of Kansas!

As many of you already know, I’m studying to get my bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing. Because of that, I’m in two writing courses this semester—Poetry and Nonfiction. I’m really excited for what this semester will bring. I’m sure I will have the wonderful opportunity to connect with other passionate readers and writers (just like the magnificent opportunity this website has brought me by introducing us!)

For fun, I thought I’d share what books we’re reading in regards to these subjects. Maybe you’ve already read them, or maybe you’ll think about picking them up. Either way, I’m sure I’ll review them as time passes, and I hope you all can gain as much as I hopefully will from them.

Poetry Writing:

Well Then There Now by Juliana Spahr

The new black by Evie Shockley (I’ve actually already read this poetry collection, and it’s fantastic representation of generational shifts within the black culture.)

The Unmemntioable by Erín Moure

Poetry! Poetry! Poetry!   by Peter Davis

Nonfiction Writing: (I’ve never taken a Nonfiction writing course, so I’m particularly anticipating this one.)

How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One by Stanley Fish

Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction Judith Kitchen

The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present by Phillip Lopate

Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Non-Fiction by Dinty Moore

Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction Works from 1970 to the Present by Lex Williford and Michael Martone

Today I read the first 51 pages of Spahr’s “Well Then There Now” and Sarah Levine’s essay “The Essayist Is Sorry for Your Loss,” (via Touchstone Anthology) and I already love them.

What required readings did you love the most in school? Which ones were the most helpful? I’d love to hear your answers. 

Happy Friday!

On January 24, it was my father's birthday! This (with our creepy glowing eyes) is our surprise party for him.

On January 24, it was my father’s birthday! This (with our creepy glowing eyes) is our surprise party for him.

~SAT

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