Tag Archives: english

#SATurday Three-Year Blogging Anniversary

26 Sep

So, wow. Yesterday was my three-year anniversary of blogging right here on www.ShannonAThompson.com.

Three years.

The first photo I ever shared of myself on here with a similar one from today.

The first photo I ever shared of myself on here with a similar one from today.

My first blog post was on September 25, 2012. I never realized how much my life would change once I started this blog. For instance, back then, I had just started my last year of college at the University of Kansas. I lived in a townhouse with two other girls, and my bedroom was painted a deep merlot red. Bogart was almost two years old. I wasn’t publishing at that time, but I was studying English, specifically poetry. I didn’t have a job that year, but I did have my eyes set on a couple of master’s degree opportunities and law school. I drove a manual, a silver RX-8. I was writing Take Me Tomorrow. I almost always wrote in a hookah house. My laptop’s name was Weebo. I was twenty-one years, three months, and two days old.

Since September 25, 2012, my life has changed irrevocably. Two weeks after starting my blog, one of my college roommates passed away. I moved back home. I was published. I graduated from KU with a bachelor’s degree in English, with an emphasis on creative writing. I was published again, and signed on with a publisher. I started working for a publisher. My car stopped working. My publisher shut down, and I lost my job. I moved to another state on my own. My bedroom is now baby blue, and I drive an automatic pickup now. I signed on with a new publisher, and I started my own company. Bogart just turned five, and I have two other cats in my life, Boo Boo and Kiki. I write in coffee houses now. My laptop’s name is Luna-P. I’m currently writing many things. I am twenty-four years, three months, and three days old.

Back then, I just wanted to have a place to share books, music, and movies. I never knew it would change my life forevthree yearser. I cannot explain how much blogging can change your life, but I guess I can share my story.

I’ve thought long and hard about what to say today, but I don’t feel like
there’s anything I can say to express my gratitude for these past 525 blog posts. Today is my 526th article. I’ve been on here 1,096 days. I’ve had over 72,000 unique visitors. I never thought my silly voice would ever be heard, let alone by that many people. I am humbled.

Thank you for giving me a place in the blogosphere that I can call home.

~SAT

Minutes Before Sunset hit #12 in overall Free Kindle yesterday! (Woot. Woot.) We were also a #1 Bestseller in YA Science Fiction and Paranormal and Urban Fantasy! Way to go! Stay Dark!

12

#12 in overall Kindle!

Poster_Small_V - Book shop signingOn October 19, the paperback of Death Before Daylight releases! Two days later, on October 21, you can come see me at Headrush Coffee and Tea Roasters in Kansas City, Missouri for a paranormal talk and book signing.  It will be tons of fun!

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylight: book 3

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

P.S. For all you Timely Death Trilogy fans, here’s a little Dark humor from comedian, Drew Ryan.

throwingshade

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Various Stages of Writer’s Block

12 Aug

Announcements: 

The latest review of Take Me Tomorrow is in! Trials of a wanna-be-publisher writer states, “Take Me Tomorrow asks a lot of questions around thorny issues in today’s society without becoming preachy in its message…As I have come to expect from Shannon, this book is well-crafted, engaging and very well-written (pretty much a given for this author). While the genre may be classed as ‘Young Adult’, don’t let that fool you; Take Me Tomorrow is an intelligent and thought-provoking piece of writing and one I highly recommend you check out.” And I highly recommend you read her entire review by clicking here

Various Stages of Writer’s Block

Oh, the dreaded writer’s block. The horror of the static pen. The silence of untapped keyboards. The banging of your forehead against the desk.

We’ve all been there – some of us more than others – and that’s why we can all relate to it (and hopefully laugh at it). So I wanted to share the various stages of writer’s insanity.

Stage One: Staring (a.k.a. denial)

Oh, no. Oh, no. This is not happening. This cannot be happening. I have a deadline. An actual deadline! (Okay. So I set the deadline myself, but still!) I do not have time for this. I NEED to be able to write.

Computer Guy Meme

Computer Guy Meme

Stage Two: Pacing (a.k.a. panic)

Why is this happening?! ::breathes heavily for five minutes:: Okay. I got this. I will get through this. I just need to walk away for a little bit. Okay. Never mind. I need a drink. Drinking is good. Ernest Hemingway used to drink. “Drink write, edit subor?” Why can’t I write drunk? I can’t even spell! Oh, god. I’ll never be good at this.

Photo by Reddit

Photo by Reddit

Stage Three: Running away (a.k.a. more panic)

I just need to relax. How do I relax again? Reading! I love reading. I can tackle the TBR pile in no time. ::sits down with book:: Who is this author? Why do they write so…so perfectly? Why can’t I write like this? I’ll never write something this lovely. ::throws book across room:: I can’t read right now. Who am I kidding? I need to step away from the books. I know! I’ll go for a walk, and I’ll look at the stars. The stars are nice. ::goes outside:: It’s cloudy. Great. Of course, it’s cloudy.

Photo from addfunny.com

Photo from addfunny.com

Stage Four: Return (a.k.a. facing the problem; then, letting it go)

All right. ::sits down at computer:: What the hell is wrong with this manuscript? What is wrong with me? (Two hours pass, nothing changes.) ::finally puts computer away for the night:: I just need a break, a nice dinner, a good night’s sleep.

Stage Five: Acceptance (a.k.a. overcoming it!)

::wakes up in the morning after the worst day ever:: I feel rested. Why is my protagonist sitting in my computer chair? ::stands up and crosses the room. Protagonist types with one hand and hands you a coffee with the other as you stare over their shoulder:: “Oh! That’s what I did wrong.” I forced everything, but now it’s resolved. Writer’s block, you silly thing.

Photo from memorise.org

Photo from memorise.org

Time to sit down and write again.

~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

History Is Something That Happens To Other People

19 May

Two quick announcements from Shannon before today’s guest blogger takes over:

I have joined Tumblr, so please join me by clicking here. Also, my headshot pictures have changed. I recently did a photo shoot with Colt Coan Photography. Check out his website by clicking here!

Today’s guest blogger is Misha Burnett, author of the Catskinner’s Book and Cannibal Hearts, science fiction/urban fantasy novels. He will also mention his co-author, Jessika O’Sullivan. Please click on their names to visit their websites.   

I have always been intimidated by historical research for fiction. One of my favorite authors is Tim Powers, who writes an unique form of historical fantasy, blending real events with fantastic elements so seamlessly that you finish his books wondering just what the hell really happened.

I would read something like The Anubis Gates (about a secret society of Egyptian magicians in early 19th Century London) or Declare (the career of Soviet spy Kim Philby explained as a cold world battle over the control of a colony of djin in the Arabian desert) and be utterly blown away—and completely convinced that I could never attempt anything like that.

Recently however, I found myself having started a historical novel. It’s kind of a funny story. An indie writer friend of mine invited me to join a Google+ group called “Legendary Author Battles”. The purpose of the group was to writers working together on short stories. One would pick the setting, the other the characters, and they would take turns adding to the story. These “battles” weren’t intended to be serious, they were simply a writing exercise.

However, a writer named Jessika O’Sullivan and I found ourselves with the beginning of a very interesting story, with characters that we cared about, and both of us decided that it really ought to be given a change to become a novel.

Fortunately Jessika is well educated and willing to shoulder the brunt of the research. However, as I was going I found myself needing to know things in order to figure out how events would unfold.

Our novel is set in East Berlin, in 1947. We have a diverse mix of characters, English, German, Russian, ranging in age from their early 20’s to their mid 50’s. Suddenly I have to know things like what was going on in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1917 or how extensive was the firebombing of Dresden, Germany in February of 1945.

Thank God for Wikipedia. Not only do they have pages on everything, they have links to actual source materials and archive pictures. Did you know that you can get lists of articles that appeared in The Lancet magazine going back to the 19th Century?

Translating the cold data into a character’s experiences, however, I have begun to realize that looking up facts is only the first half. There is a phrase used by military writers; “Ground Truth”. They use it to refer to the difference between knowing something because your intelligence agencies tell you so, and getting physically into an area and seeing it with your own eyes.

Obviously, I cannot physically walk the streets of East Berlin in 1947. I wouldn’t even be able to swing the airfare to visit Berlin today. I’m a writer, though, I travel via my imagination. Looking at the photographs of the devastation wrought by the war, I can project myself into the shoes of the figures dwarfed by those piles of rubble. Those lucky enough to have shoes, that is.

That’s when I realized that history isn’t history to the people who live there. It’s obvious in retrospect, but that’s what I think is the key to writing historical fiction—the characters don’t know they are characters in historical fiction.

To take just one example, our character Helmut doesn’t know anything about The German Revolution as a historical event. What he knows is that one day his father went to a political rally and never came back, and he had to become the sole support of his mother and brothers at seventeen.

It isn’t the things that make headlines or chapters in history books that make up a life, those are things that are only seen afterward, by people who hadn’t been there. Helmut reads in the paper that the UN is voting on the establishment of the state of Israel, and he mentions it in conversation, but what his wife Amalia is going to make for dinner that evening is a thousand times more important to him.

I am realizing that I have to keep asking myself not only, “What was going on in that place, at that time?” but also “What effect, if any, would those events have on my characters?”

What is the Ground Truth? To a young girl in the Bund Deutscher Mädel, National Socialism isn’t an ideology, it’s the thing that makes her work after school making bandages for the troops instead of playing outside with her friends.

Now don’t get me wrong—good research is important, and it’s hard work. If I write that my characters are standing around watching the Soviets build the Berlin Wall, a lot of people are going to point out that construction on the Wall wasn’t begun until 1961. If I’m writing about a character driving a car I need to know what sort of controls that car would have, and how they differ from modern vehicles. Would the car have a radio? Air conditioning? Automatic transmission? What sort of lights, and how are they controlled? Seat belts?

A million details, and there’s a temptation, when researching, to include everything. On the 12th of November, 1947, the writer Emma Orczy, creater of The Scarlet Pimpernil, died. As a writer and a lover of esoterica, I find that a significant event, given Orczy’s influence on popular adventure and mystery stories.

Honestly, though, it’s not something that my characters would have noticed at all. So I resist the temptation to put it in the book. It’s not my story, it’s my character’s story.

What matters most about people isn’t when they lived or where they were born or what language they spoke. What matters most about people is that they are people.

History is something that happens to other people. When it’s happening, it’s not history, it’s just life. One of the themes that Jessika and I have discussed is how in the midst of these huge upheavals, wars and revolutions and reconstructions, life somehow still goes on. People still fall in and out of love, work and struggle, argue and make up, wake up each morning and go to bed each night.

The fundamental things apply.

Misha

Creative Licence or Obsolete Language?

4 Nov

Win a signed copy of Minutes Before Sunset today

First, some exciting news: Seconds Before Sunrise received an ISBN. I love these moments. It’s these moments that remind me it’s real. Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy) is coming, and you can win an advanced ebook! Enter the contest for free by helping with the cover reveal on December 1! Send me a message here, comment, or send me an email to shannonathompson@aol.com. Thank you!

The English language is constantly changing. In fact, it has changed so much that the Father of English Literature, Geoffrey Chaucer, is considered to have written in an almost completely different language. I should correct myself: we write in a completely different language. One of my most fascinating moments in college was when my professor of my Chaucer class actually read The Wife of Bath’s tale how it would’ve been read when it was written. As a reader and a writer, this moment stood out to me because we’d been studying Chaucer’s works long enough that I could comprehend reading it on my own, but then I listened to it (I have to admit I purposely didn’t read long because I wanted to submerge myself in what this was like.) Perhaps, if I read along, I would’ve thought this was nothing because I would’ve understood what she was saying, but I’m glad I didn’t read along. It proved how much has changed. Obviously, Chaucer isn’t the only one in history. But the purpose of sharing this story is less about Chaucer and more about how much has changed.

According to this article, changes have happened in the “sounds (phonetics), in their distribution (phonemics), and in the grammar (morphology and syntax).” I think most people agree on this fact, but what does this mean for the future of the English language?

As writers and readers, we might see a few grammatical errors, strange diction, and/or syntax we wouldn’t expect. In fact, we might mark this as a mistake. But what if the author intended this? When I come across something “strange” I begin to think of all of the “rules” we are given when studying writing.

Don’t use the passive voice. Don’t tell, just show. Don’t use adverbs. Don’t use anything but “said” after dialogue. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. But how will the English language change if we are stuck in our ways? When did we–as artists–stop challenging expectations and conform to rules because someone told us “this is the better way to write”?

I think dialogue is the easiest thing writers and readers can change and agree upon: it can change because no one speaks very properly. But what about prose? Personally, I think writers need to consider their settings and characters but ultimately follow their writer’s heart. If it doesn’t sound right, even if it’s proper, change it. If it feels right to be proper, be proper. For instance, I know a lot of writers who write historical fiction, and everyone insists they write in that time’s speak, but who’s to say there isn’t an audience who wants to read historical fiction written in today’s language in order to relate to it easier? In this case, I think it’s a risk, but, at the same time, I think the writer should be true to themselves. Challenge the English language. It’s meant to change. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, I would suggest there are many rules that are in place for a reason: like commas. Missing commas can be a HUGE problem.

So where do we draw a line?

Personally, I think we need one in certain areas–mainly with slang. I suppose this line is more about how quickly slang changes rather than the inappropriate usage of it. For instance, I wouldn’t want to read “OMG, he’s totes my bb4l, broseph.” (I don’t even know if that’s right or up-to-date.) Then again, when I was 14, I enjoyed TTYL by Lauren Myracle, which is entirely written in an AIM format. So, yes, I just contradicted myself, but I have a point to it:

When it comes to drawing the line, I think it more comes down to a balance of realistic, entertaining, and comprehensible language rather than whether it’s technically correct or not.

On my FB Author Page, I asked this question, “The English language changes constantly. Words that were once used daily are now obsolete. For instance, I was reading and a character asked, ‘Whom is that gift for?’ And I was taken out of the story. Although correct, I found the dialogue to be unbelievable. So my question is what are your opinions on instances like this (not necessarily whom)? Should writers change basic grammar like this since language is changing or be proper?”

Here are some opinions:

Samantha Ann Achaia: I think that a writer should write in the way that they feel best fits the time period, location and audience of their story. For example, if someone was writing a book in the 1500s, today’s grammar, spelling and sentence-structure probably shouldn’t be used (unless they want to). If a story is set in London and the characters are London-born then they should speak like the British do. If the book is aimed at senior citizens or children one may not want to curse as much as they do in books that are for Young Teens to Middle Adults

LeeAnn Jackson Rhoden: Characters speak the way the do according to their age, culture, location, era, and personality. I never worry about grammar in dialogue. In the text, that’s a different situation. I try to use correct grammar unless it sounds too awkward.

Carra Edelstein Saigh: I’m more bothered by spelling errors, and the use of the wrong word (ex: isle instead of aisle–isle is like an island; aisle is like an aisle at the grocery store). I don’t mind it so much when the story is written the way most people talk as long as it doesn’t get crazy. Outdated grammar rules become that way because no one wants to sound like an English textbook.

So what are your thoughts? Do you think authors should follow the current grammatical rules or do you think there are exceptions–such as in dialogue? If so, is dialogue the only exception or can the creative license move over to prose as well?

~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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