Tag Archives: excerpts

#MondayBlogs: The Importance of Setting in a Novel

2 Feb

Intro:

Monday has reached us again, and today brings us another guest blogger. Today, I am pleased to announce Tara Mayoros, author of Broken Smiles. This well-traveled writer has written a wonderful post about the importance of setting in a novel, and her writing tips are sure to stay with us the next time we pick a location for our stories.

The Importance of Setting in a Novel 

Write what you know. How many times have I heard that? Oh man, probably at every conference I have ever gone to, multiple times.

know setting.

Long before I was ever an author, I would surround myself in settings which filled my soul with wonder. I would cover my limbs and face with autumn leaves to feel the smell. I would spend many nights under the stars, listening to the scurrying of little animals and the sounds of wind applauding my appreciation through the trees. The stillness would settle in my heart and when I began to bring pen and paper with me to different settings, my world became magical.

To me, setting should breathe like a character. It isn’t just streets, buildings, and names of towns — it is the lifeblood which weaves your characters and plot together. It shouldn’t be tacked in, but rather an integral part of the story. It grounds the reader.

It should also ground the author. The author carries the responsibility to bring details that are often overlooked. Especially, in my opinion, when it comes to nature.

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Pilot and Index Peak – Cooke City, Montana

Recently, I returned from a long trip through Montana and Yellowstone. I have visited many times and even lived there at one point. Those wild, rustic places are some of my favorite spots in the world and I felt the heavy burden to show my love for it in one of my novels. I hadn’t been up there for over a dozen years and I started creating the setting for my novel through memory. When I had finished my book, I was satisfied. But something tugged at me to visit those places again. Either my wild heart, or the pull to immerse myself in those mountains.

Arming myself with laptop, pens and journals, I was ready to take my story to battle and add details that were missing and change a few things. I was surprised when I came home and realized that I had never even written one word when I had surrounded myself in the nature I so dearly love. Why? It wasn’t a conscious decision by any means, but looking back, my body and soul yearned to feel the lifeblood of the setting. I didn’t need to muddle it with words, I needed to experience it and let the setting wash through me.

In this world where setting and placement are so often overlooked or replaced with handheld devices that capture our attention, authors need to work harder to ground the reader. We need to scream at our readers to notice detail. It breaks my heart every time I see someone surrounded by stunning scenery and their faces are aglow with the pale light of a handheld device.

Here are a few ways you can bring your setting to life in your novel, followed by some examples I have written.

*Be specific – it isn’t only a flower, describe the details. example: The vibrant purple petals stretched beneath an indigo hat which drooped over a white lip and a yellow bearded pouch.(Calypso Orchid)

*Sprinkle in similes and metaphors to connect – example: His temper was like a loose cannon. It could explode at any given time and I would be the set target.

*Use the senses; sight, sound, smell, taste, feel – This one is huge! I love to incorporate the senses. – example: My stomach was empty, which was good, because the smell hit me, and I heaved once more against the vacant remains of my belly. The putrid, decaying stench of rotten flesh made my eyes water.

*Show, don’t tell – instead of stating that its raining, describe the dripping trees, the puddles gathering in the crevices of rock, and the pattering on tin resembling tinkling bells.

Here is an excerpt from my novel contemporary clean romance Broken Smiles. The setting is in China, another one of my favorite places. I hope you can feel my love for it as you read my words.

Here and there rocks were covered with ancient moss. Orchids blossomed spontaneously upon the trees. Vines hung like ropes and twine, twisting upon the rubber and the banyan trees. Bamboo stood proudly against the moonlight, casting shadows that had been the same for thousands of years. Away from big city lights and pollution, it was easy to be transported back in time to ancient China. This land had managed to remain untouched throughout the different emperors and dynasties. As they walked, they passed a small ancient graveyard built against the hillside. The limestone shrines glowed mysteriously in the moonlight. Chinese characters and mini-sculptures were carved in the pale rock. Incense smoldered on the top of an old gravestone…

Thanks for stopping by –

Tara Mayoros

Bio:

As a child, Tara Mayoros moved to Asia with her family where her love of different cultures and travel began. In college she satisfied her wanderlust by moving back to China, filling her head with countless stories, and occasionally writing them down.

Years, marriage, children and many adventures later, she picked up her dusty pen and paper (or laptop) and realized that writing took her to different worlds and gave her the experiences that she yearned for. As an author, artist, baker, music teacher, gardener, and nature lover – she sees the beauty in the process, and the miracle, of creation. The Rocky Mountains are her home and they call to her whenever she finds herself in need of inspiration.

Connect with her: Website, FacebookAmazon, Twitter.

Want to be a guest blogger? Wonderful! I am accepting guest posts that focus on reading and writing. You are allowed a book link in the post as well as in your bio. A picture and a bio are encouraged. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

~SAT

Happy Paperback!

1 Aug

Announcements:

I would like to thank an Industry Leader in Cheerleading News – @cheerUPDATES – for sharing the first quote from Take Me Tomorrow on Twitter (with a slight, creative change.)

cheer

The word-for-word quote from the novel is “As much as I didn’t want to recognize it, we had grown into one another somewhere along the way. We were officially a team.” You can check out more favorite quotes from Take Me Tomorrow on Goodreads by clicking here.

Happy Paperback!

As promised, the paperback of Take Me Tomorrow is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. (Click the links to check it out!) I received mine in the mail yesterday! And – if I do say so myself – Yocla Book Designs created a beautiful piece of artwork that I am eternally grateful for. As a special thank you and celebration, I am including a gift below, but you have to keep reading for further details. ::wink wink::

10584035_2414909610803_2629969243830099263_n-1If you want to read the latest review, Reading Page by Paige wrote, “I have a feeling that Take Me Tomorrow will become a super popular read in the Dystopian Romance categories. It has one of my favorite love plots.” But you can read the full review by clicking here.

But – in celebration of the paperback and this love-focused review – I thought I would share a never-before-released excerpt from Take Me Tomorrow. Below, you’ll read a part from chapter six: You Have to Jump First.

Broden slowed down, his freehand tightening on the backpack. “Listen, Sophia,” he whispered as the dirt trail turned into a hooked, gravel path. We were closing in on the lumberyard. “This whole situation—” his voice sounded like a hesitant apology. “Miles is right when he says you shouldn’t be involved.”

“It can’t be that bad.”

“It is,” he said, trying to turn away, but I had already seen his expression. The mixture of contempt and dread made me lose my breath.

As we neared the last curve, the sounds of rushing water surrounded us. “Don’t speak. Don’t do anything rash. Just let me talk to Noah, and then, I’ll get you out of here, and we never have to talk about this again.”

I nodded, but I doubted he saw me. His stride turned into a march as we made our way around the last corner. The trail ended at a river, and a bridge arched over it, enveloping us in shadows. Full of rainwater from the previous storm, the creek rushed over rocks and logs, and I gaped at the site. Considering I was never near the lumberyard, I was oblivious to the beautiful bridge. In fact, I was shocked by it. This area wasn’t a park. It was an abandoned forest. To see a manmade creation in isolation made every alarm in my body go off.

Unfazed, Broden walked in front of me, and I managed to tiptoe behind him. Gravel beneath my feet disappeared and reappeared as clouds flew across the sky, covering the moon only to conceal it again. One second, I could see the glittering water in front of me, only to have it disappear the next. I kept pushing forward, allowing my ears to be my eyes. The running water was soothing, but Broden’s voice was defensive when he spoke, “Noah.”

My neck snapped up as I stared at my best friend talking to the shadows beneath the bridge. It wasn’t until I stepped closer that I saw the boy he was speaking to.

Noah was leaned against the stone wall, but his green eyes focused on Broden with a stillness I was already familiar with. Shadows lingered beneath his gaze, and his black t-shirt blended into the darkness. If I weren’t closer, I wouldn’t have been able to see him. The only light part about him was his hair, blond and frayed, yet it hung over his forehead like a masquerade mask.

Broden’s old friend – the boy that Miles seemed terrified of – was the same boy I had encountered in the forest behind my house. He was the stranger who had my address in his hands.

Hope you enjoyed the excerpt! Thank you for supporting Take Me Tomorrow over the past two weeks. The book has been out for 13 days, and we already have 12 reviews on Goodreads – meaning, we’ve almost had a review posted a day! How fantastic is that? I love you all! And I cannot wait to post again soon.

May the unseen future be a bright one,

~SAT

Ebook Release & Extras!

11 Jun

On June 12th, the ebook of Seconds Before Sunrise releases everywhere. But you can buy it on Smashwords today for only $3.89 by clicking here.

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You can win a Kindle from 7 – 9 p.m. this Thursday on Facebook by playing games and interviewing authors LIVE. AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. is releasing the ebooks of Seconds Before Sunrise, A Dangerous Element, The Dragon Three, and Birthright. Just click here.

As a little extra, I wanted to share pictures that reminded me of favorite scenes in The Timely Death Trilogy with little excerpts.

Scene (1) Flying Scene. 

This first picture reminded me of the first flying scene between Eric and Jessica. The chapter is told from Eric’s perspective, but I wanted to include it because Eric’s only enjoyment comes from taking flights with Camille and Pierce. When he’s with Jessica, it comes naturally to him, but – obviously – not to her. But it also allowed her to show how quickly she can learn.

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Minutes Before Sunset, Eric, page 47

She screamed as her feet left the ground, and we shot into the sky. Her petite hands tightened on my jacket, and I twisted us into circles, shadows spiraling at our flying feet. The air spun around our bodies, winding our clothes with every moment and change in the atmosphere. I hadn’t flown in so long, and I had forgotten how alive I felt when I did.

“Shoman!” She wriggled against my grasp. “Put me down. Let me go!”

“If you say so,” I said, dropping her.

She plummeted, falling from my grasp and through the clouds. Guess she couldn’t fly. In an instant, I shot after her trail of shadows, grabbing her before she even neared the ground. Abruptly, she silenced, and her echoing scream pierced the air. As she hung from my grasp, her purple eyes blinked up at me.

“What the hell, Shoman?” She gasped as I pulled her up, steadying her against my chest. She dug her nails into me and glared. “I did not mean literally.”

Scene (2) The Bat Scene – Why bats?

I love bats. I know. I know. Most people do not, and – believe it or not – my love for bats has nothing to do with vampires. When I lived in Georgia, I saw fireflies for the first time. My brother and I ran around the back yard to catch all of the fireflies when a bat came out of nowhere and ate one right in front of me. The crazy part was how close it got to my face before taking a 90 degree turn and flying straight up into the air. When I looked up, there were dozens of them, and I’ve been in love ever since. But this isn’t the main reason I wanted bats to be in Minutes Before Sunset. I explained the main reason on Ky Grabowski’s blog, but here are the basics: the trilogy is based off of dreams I had and real events that sparked from those dreams. One morning, when I had a dream, I ran outside, half-expecting to see the people in my dreams, and I ran into a light storm settling over the sunrise, bats flying around in circling waves.

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Minutes Before Sunset, Eric, 208

She arched her neck, flicking her gaze over the mediocre spring shower. Thick raindrops fell from the sky, splashing against the water, and rain glittered against her hair. “I don’t see anything,” she said, turning back to me, but I pointed back up.

“Now you will.”

Bats, hundreds of them, circled and dipped, dove and flew, twisting through the air as they collected their dawning breakfast. She sucked in breath, and the gasp between her lips brought shivers to my spine in the same way the image of morning bats had when I first saw them as a child.

Scene (3) The forest

Since I shared the photo during my last post, I wanted to share a scene that showed the forest’s opening that leads to the Dark’s shelter. This forest is scene numerous times throughout all three novels, but the biggest moments (I feel) both happen at the beginning of Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise. In MBS, Eric sees Jessica for the first time. In SBS, Jessica is looking back for Eric without really realizing it.

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Seconds Before Sunrise, Jessica, page 4

I froze, gripping the cooling metal, and my blood turned into chilled water within my veins. I stared at my shivering hands and slowly brought my eyes up to the forest. The entrance was right in front of me, opening up to darkened brush and thickened ground. I only saw shadows, but I believed I could see more. A figure lingered in my memory, a vanishing outline in the darkness, even though no one was there. I fought the urge to shout at the trees.

Robb touched my shoulder, and I jumped. He stepped back, his eyes widened, and Crystal honked from the street.

“Jess?”

“I’m fine,” I repeated, brushing him off as I rushed past him. I didn’t want him to see my face. I felt like I was crumbling, and I didn’t want my friends, or anyone, to know it. My confusion was mine, even if it was bordering on insanity.

Perhaps I’ll post character profiles soon! I’m really enjoying sharing my Pinterest inspiration here, but I’m most looking forward to the eBook extravaganza this Thursday! I hope you all come. You can talk to me live, and you can win a Kindle!

~SAT

Behind the Scenes of The Timely Death Trilogy

23 Apr

In a few days, it will be the anniversary of the release of Minutes Before Sunset. Because of that, I’ve been thinking about how to celebrate it. That’s when I realized that I never shared the 30-Day Countdown event on here. This countdown was on my Facebook page, and it revolved around the release of Seconds Before Sunrise. I shared photos, excerpts, games, and more. I always meant to share it on here, and that day has finally come. For those who participated in the countdown, don’t worry! I’ve added new information, so you haven’t seen everything yet. (The excerpts will have small explanations in front of them, so beware of spoilers.) On top of that, I’m not including absolutely everything that was shared on my Facebook page. That is to thank those who follow me on Facebook. I share unique information on all of my social media pages, so if you like this, Facebook is a great place to connect with me by clicking here. 😀

Personality Quiz:

This is brand-new. I released it on my Facebook page this week. You can find out which Dark character you’re most alike. So far, this is the order in popularity via the results, the first one being the most popular: Jessica, Camille, Pierce, and then Eric. Click the photo or here to take it yourself.

quiz

I found out you had to have a membership to read the descriptions, so click Character Descriptions to read the descriptions without creating a membership.

Excerpt (1):

In this scene, Eric finally confronts the elders about what is happening. Instead of Darthon and Eric battling to the death, the Light wants a war where many more people will die. This chapter begins on page 106 in Seconds Before Sunrise, and it’s told by Eric. The bolded quote is on Goodreads if you want to “like” it.

“A war would improve our chances.”

“Our destined chances?” I argued. “We’re going to win.”

“We can lose.”

“Then, let me lose,” I said, refusing to move.

Among my stillness was a pounding heart.

“It they truly want a war,” I chose my words carefully, “they’ll be willing to meet on equal territory.”

“There’s no such thing, Eric,” Luthicer said. “We’re more powerful here, just as they are in their realm. Either way, one side will have to forfeit safety.”

“We’re talking about war,” I pointed out. “What is safe about that?”

Photo Shoot: 

I used to do a lot of photography when I was younger. This photo was inspired by The Timely Death Trilogy. It was also in celebration of my knife collection. That’s right. I have a knife collection. That is my machete. And, yes, I’m fighting myself, and those pants are from Thailand. Originally, I wanted to wear white and black, but I only own blue and black pants. I forget what they’re called, but they’re one-size fit all. You have to fold them and tie them around your waist. Fun fact, I’m actually wearing the black pants beneath the blue pants when I’m doing this. I couldn’t change on the stage, after all. We were in the middle of Ironwood Park – and, yes, that is the same park I got “Ironwood” from for my original pen name “Ashlee Ironwood” for November Snow.

sword

Fun facts about the elders:

There are ten elders in every generation. At the beginning of Seconds Before Sunrise, only four are left.

Alcohol doesn’t affect an elder’s mind state once they have transformed. This is often how the elders are picked, but – most of time – it runs in the family, so the elders are pretty fixed.

Luthicer is the first half-breed elder. Ever. And he originally worked for the Light as a warrior.

Wordplay:

I love word play, so here are some that happen in The Timely Death Trilogy:

The setting “Hayworth, Kansas” is not a real city but is rather a combination of two factual Kansas towns: Ellsworth and Hayes.

“Shoman” –Eric’s Dark name—is a play on “Show man.” Since he cannot reveal his identity, his name mocks him. Hence why he hates it. Eric’s last name “Welborn” is purposeful irony—“well born.”

Luthicer is a play on Lucifer.

The elder “Eu” is short for Eugene, which literally means “Well born.” (Like Eric’s last name.)

Photoshoot (2)

Below are two photos. The one on the left is the actual office I wrote The Timely Death Trilogy in. And, yes, that is my father circa 2007. The one on the right is the reason I loved that office. We had a forest behind our house. It was the perfect view, especially in the winter, so I thought I would share a picture of me back in the day – just doing the usual, hanging out in camo. Can you see me? I kind of glow.

P.S. This forest plays a HUGE role in my next novel.

forest

Excerpt (2)

The phrase “seconds before sunrise” can be found in the first novel, Minutes Before Sunset, but did you know “Death before daylight” can also be found in Seconds Before Sunrise? These moments are the ones that foreshadow what the next novel will be about.  Here’s the excerpt that includes book 3 as a phrase. During this scene, the shades are waiting orders to go into battle. This chapter begins on 257 in Seconds Before Sunrise, and it’s told by Eric:

Everyone was awaiting his orders, and everyone knew we had to obey them the second he spoke them. One man vomited in the corner while another pulled him to his feet. A woman, perhaps his sister or girlfriend, ignored his shameful nausea. I wanted to tell him it wasn’t, but the crowd stared at me.

I was their descendant, and my actions would dictate how long the war lasted. There would be death before daylight, but we didn’t have to wait for daylight to end it. The quicker I killed Darthon, the less of a massacre there would be. But I couldn’t afford to think about my people if I were going to stay focused, and they knew it as much as I despised it.

Photoshoot (3) Shades are everywhere! 

Since I wrote the trilogy in high school, fans of November Snow actually have already finished reading the original trilogy. This means there are people who have known the ending from the beginning—as well as the identity of Darthon. There’s actually a shade in November Snow. Her name is Katie, and she doesn’t know what she is. Here is the excerpt from Katie’s first appearance:

Katie

Music time:

The Timely Death Trilogy has a soundtrack on 8tracks.com, including the XX, Manchester Orchestra, Dido, Enya, First Aid Kit, Sara Bareilles, Florence + The Machine, Linkin Park, Stateless, Dj Tiesto, Tantric, Plump, Vanessa Mae, and Jem. Listen to it by clicking here.

Excerpt: (3)

This chapter starts on page 20, and it’s told by Jessica. During this novel, she doesn’t have a memory, but her memory comes and goes as nightmares. In this scene, she is painting one of her dreams. The bolded quote is on Goodreads if you want to “like” it.

The wind was beneath my feet, and the town was miles below. Lights twinkled through the mist of Hayworth, and purple sparkles clung to the atmosphere, shining against the moon’s dim light. I could barely breathe, but I was alive, and I couldn’t deny the reality of flight. It was too real to be a dream. Only expression through art could subdue my confusion.

My art class was an arrangement of seniors, chatting quietly as I sketched a loop of wires. I’d paint the sparkles across the sky once I began, but I couldn’t continue yet. My depiction of the dream I’d had the night before wasn’t even close. The sketch was too innocent and held no emotion. The dream wasn’t a nightmare, but it remained as if it were worse than the one about the forest. The comfort was peculiarly chilling.

“Nice painting.”

Number One Quote:

destiny

Seconds Before Sunrise Dedication:

To Calone – for showing how the darkness can be brighter than the light.

~SAT

P.S. If you enjoyed this, please take a moment to check out Minutes Before Sunset and/or Seconds Before Sunrise on Amazon. Book 1 is only $3.89 right now, and the ebook of Seconds Before Sunrise releases on June 12th. If you click the photo below, you’ll be sent to Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon. Thank you for your support! 

Amazon

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