Tag Archives: goals

Sometimes Writing That Book Was A Waste Of Time

20 Jun

Before you freak at the title, please know that the point of blogging titles is to get you here, and now you’re here, so voilà. 

That said, I really do believe writing a book can be a waste of time. Why is that such a controversial thing to say? 

I know that the publishing industry loves the sentiment of “every book teaches us something new about our writing!” And though that may be true, that doesn’t mean the time and effort we put into the project was equivalent to the lesson learned. It might not have been worth your time. There are, in fact, other projects you could’ve been pursuing with that time that might have had better results. 

Saying that shouldn’t be controversial. 

I’ve personally felt like I’ve wasted time on a project before (and recently). From late 2020 to late 2021, I worked on a science fiction novel for adults that just wasn’t working. I rewrote it three times with my agent at the time, before deciding enough was enough. I put it down. I haven’t opened it since, and I don’t miss it at all. I don’t even want to think about it. 

Sure, there were parts of it I loved. I mean, it was monsters in space. Who couldn’t have fun with that? The world building was interesting. My main character had dynamic qualities. But the manuscript lacked focus. Besides the fun pitch, I couldn’t really tell you what I was trying to do or why I was trying to do it. Maybe I can’t now because I’ve done my best to forget the experience so that I could move on. (Leaving projects unfinished once I’ve decided to pursue them is hard for me! It wasn’t easy to trunk it.) However, I also believe it was a project that lacked focus at its core. In fact, I started writing it as a rage piece. It was just supposed to be a place I went when I was angry to get out my frustrations. I never intended to pursue it. At some point, though, I convinced myself I should and, honestly, I really regret it. I not only regret the time I spent, but I feel guilty for all the beta readers who I brought on to try to help me with the work, including my agent at the time. I feel like I failed them and myself. Not because I eventually said no, but because I didn’t do so sooner. 

Instead of spending the year writing a piece that ultimately fizzled out, I wish I had spent my time cultivating a new project. I could’ve written my novel-in-verse earlier on, or I could’ve already finished the revision of my historical fantasy (which is what I’m working on now). I’ve since written an adult fantasy and started a YA novel-in-verse, as well as a YA horror story I absolutely love. All of these projects are going 1000% more smoothly than my sci-fi ever did.

That said, there were some lessons (I think) I learned:

  • Three POVs is too much for me right now. I love writing two POVs. Both of my published series are written in alternating POVs with the love interests. It’s my jam. That said, I’ve written numerous novels with one POV. Two aren’t always necessary. Three just got out of control. 
  • Too many plot twists is too many plot twists. Enough said.
  • Same with betrayals/switches in alliances. I had wayyyy too many of them. 
  • Blending sci-fi and fantasy tropes can be awesome, but it can also be really hard! I should’ve been better about owning which genre my book would sit best in and leaning into those elements more. 

I acknowledge I learned a few things. But I think I learned these lessons early on in the process. I could’ve stopped a few months in, instead of dragging the book out for a whole year. Maybe I had a harder time discerning lessons earlier on since we were in the midst of a pandemic. But I’m much happier now that I’ve moved on and tackled other projects. Still, I keep regretting all the time/energy/stress I put into that sci-fi (and I’m a little paranoid I’ll do it again). I keep checking in with myself and where I’m at with my current projects. I keep questioning my intensions and my chances of success. If anything, I recognize that I lost some of my confidence writing that book, yet another reason for regret.

Right now, I feel like I wasted a lot of time and energy writing that book. Granted, that doesn’t mean my opinion won’t change one day, but I’ve felt this way for half a year now. 

But, Shannon, you might say, don’t you learn something from every book you write?

Yeah, I learned not to waste my time. 

~SAT

P.S. Usually, I post on the first and third Monday of the month, but since the first Monday next month is July 4, I will share my next post on Monday, July 11. Enjoy the holiday and be safe!

January Writing Journey Wrap-Up

31 Jan

I recently heard from a long-time reader, who mentioned my old Ketchup posts as blogs that inspired her. Basically, at the end of each month, I used to summarize all the blogs I’d written and showed behind-the-scenes glances at my stats: my top three blog posts, the #1 search term that brought readers to my website, views/comments, etc. I stopped the practice when I stopped blogging so often. (I couldn’t justify a summary post when I only blogged twice a month as compared to my previous twelve-a-month schedule.) However, her comment got me thinking about what I could wrap up at the end of each month. 

Every month, I am going to write a writing journey wrap-up post. It will include how many words I’ve written, what I’m working on, my wins, my losses, and other miscellaneous facts you may find interesting. 

For those who don’t know me, creating this is actually pretty simple. I keep a motivational calendar on my wall, where I write down what I do to pursue my writing dreams every single day. This post will basically make that calendar public. 

Without further ado…

In January…

I had my blog post – Yes, Writers Need to Hear the Hard Truths. But Warnings Can Go Too Far. – featured on Jane Friedman’s website. It actually just went live today, and I am beyond thrilled by this. I have followed Jane Friedman for a lonnnnnnnng time. I am a huge fan of her website, her nonfiction book, and her Business Clinic. I hope you enjoy the blog post! Blog-wise  on my website, my most popular post this month was The Truth About Giving Up Writing. Other than the WordPress Reader, Twitter was my best referrer. I wish I could share search terms like I used to, but they were all “unknown search terms,” and have been that way in my stats for a while. I think that feature has since changed. 

In other news, I chose my mentee for the SCBWI KS/MO YA mentorship. Her name is Anna LaForest, and she wrote a hilarious coming-of-age friendship story that takes place during two girls’ freshman year in college. You can follow Anna here

Our Pitch Wars mentee also submitted her materials for the Pitch Wars Showcase that takes place in February! Sandra and I are so excited for Damara and her novel, Don’t Play the Bone Flute. It’s a super spooky middle grade horror, and we’re so proud of all the work she did to shape up this book over the last few months. Go Team Stellify!

I also wanted to give a shoutout to author M. Phoenix. She is actually the long-time reader who inspired this post. She also read my free trilogy on Wattpad and gave not only an amazing shoutout to Take Me Tomorrow, but she also wrote a lovely review that meant so much to me. It makes my day to hear from readers. Knowing that y’all are still reading my work and enjoying it means more to me than I can express. It truly keeps me believing in the dream. 

Aside from all that news, here’s what I did writing-wise:

I started off January with 8,545 words of my middle grade novel-in-verse revised. I end the month with a finished manuscript, coming in at 23,000 words. I also sent it to five beta readers and revised the entire novel. What can I say? This is one of those projects that is coming way too easy to me. But that’s because it’s based on my childhood. I decided to finally write a middle grade book about an 11-year-old girl who loses her mom to the opioid epidemic. Unfortunately, that’s how my mom died when I was 11. Back then, I couldn’t find a book in the kid’s section about what I was going through, and ever since then, I promised myself I would write it. I finally found that strength. Going into February, I am hoping to finally put it out there! I want to especially thank my long-time friend and critique partner, Sandra Proudman, who not only helped me write this entire novel but also gave me the most thoughtful shoutout on Twitter. She also recently started a graphic design business for authors. If you need book banners, bookmarks, etc., check out The Book Bruja.

My plan to put my work out there is why I spent a mass majority of my January researching agents and agencies. I wrote a query letter, revised it a million times, wrote a 1-page synopsis, revised that, double-checked my formatting, and got my submission package prepped. I then sent my prospective agent list to my writer friends, and I just got feedback on that last Thursday, so I’m doing a little bit more research before I finalize my first round. I probably won’t query until the end of February. 

For fun, I actually dreamed up a brand-new book: an adult fantasy. I wrote the entire outline for it, created a Pinterest board, and started getting it organized in Scrivener. We will see if it goes anywhere beyond that, though. (You never really know. I have so many outlines for books I never actually pursued.) 

Event-wise, I taught Starting a Writing Project via ZOOM for The Story Center at Mid-Continent Public Library. I will teach it again in June, so keep your eyes on my Events page. I also had the utmost joy of guest speaking at Kearney High School’s Writing Club. What a talented group of teens! If you are a teacher or book club, and you’re interested in having me virtually visit, please visit my books clubs/teachers page. 

I also attended virtual write-ins every Tuesday evening, critiqued pages for some friends, hired a friend as a graphic designer, and attended a virtual writing conference. 

In my reading life, I read 9 books: 2 adult romance, 1 adult fantasy, 1 young adult fantasy, 4 graphic novels, and 1 nonfiction. My favorite? House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland. It had the perfect amount of body horror and spookiness.

All this while working full-time and recovering from COVID. Not a flex. Just blows my mind. 

I really want 2022 to be a successful year. I want to make my dreams come true, and I want to get my books back out in the world again. 

I will do my best to make that happen. I have to believe that it’s only a matter of time (and a little bit of luck). 

Thank you for supporting me, 

~SAT

P.S. My quarterly newsletter goes out in February! It includes a $25 gift card giveaway to any bookstore near you. Subscribe to my newsletter here

Want an Accountability Partner? Consider This First.

19 Jul

Maybe you’ve heard of accountability partners. Maybe you’ve considered getting one. But what is an accountability partner, really, and how do you get someone to help?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, “accountability partner” is teaming up with someone who will keep you accountable for your writing progress. For example, your friend may check in with you every Tuesday to make sure you’ve written 1,000 words that week, and if not, you may jump on Zoom for a quick write-in.

Accountability partners look different to everyone because every writer has their own unique goals.

It may include critiquing, or it might only be a verbal check-in. The partnership can go both ways or not. Your accountability partner might not even be a fellow writer. Finding what works for you is what’s key.

Here’s how I set up my accountability system without anyone but me knowing.

As of late, I’ve spent most of my writing time revising rather than writing a first draft. That said, I have a hard time concentrating on one novel at a time. On any given day, I tend to have three going: One I am revising, one I am writing, and one I am dreaming about (or outlining). That way, I have different projects for different energies. (If I only revise, I lose my motivation fast.) But working on three separate projects doesn’t come without difficulties.

How do you know you’re writing enough? What time do you dedicate to which project? When will you get it all done?

These were questions I had to ask myself. When it comes to revising, I know that I need to get it done as fast as possible, but I also need it to be quality edits, not just speed. That’s why I put most of my energy into that project. That said, I know I need to honor some creative/writing time for myself. If I don’t, I get burnt out. Nevertheless, it’s easy for me to forget that and fall into a responsibility trap, where I end up drained and frustrated.

This was why I knew I needed to make a specific, time-set goal around creative writing.

That goal? Every month, I will write two new chapters for my monthly critique group.

Sometimes I send more if they have the reading time and I had the writing time. But I tend to only manage two chapters. That’s about 20 pages. It’s very minimal. But guess what? It’s better than nothing. Believe it or not, by the end of the year, I tend to have a full-length novel.

But do my critique partners know about this? No, not really.

Here’s the deal: I don’t have accountability partners in the traditional sense. No one is going to email me and say, “You told me you’d have X done by this date, so where is it?” The way I approach it is a lot more light-hearted.

No one in my group knows that my goal is two chapters every month. No one gives me a hard time if I don’t meet that. But every month, my iCalendar bings the week before our meetup and asks me if my pages are ready. If they aren’t, I focus solely on those pages until they are good to go.

For me, accountability is about giving yourself permission to set everything else aside to focus on that one time-set goal you promised yourself.

It’s investing in your work, your future, and your writing. Finding a pattern that helps you do that is key. Sometimes discovering that requires help from a friend or a family member (or an alert on your calendar). Don’t be afraid to ask those around you if they’d be willing to check in. That said, I’d recommend considering your goals before you talk to others. That way, you can tell them what you need.  

My advice?

Set a small writing goal, but don’t forget to consider your accountability.

I will write (# of words) every (time: month, week, etc.) for (my critique group, my website, myself).

If you’re feeling really brave, add stipulations: As I approach my deadline, I will set aside (TV, other projects, dessert) until I complete it. I will also not hesitate to ask for help on (laundry, dishes, childcare, etc.) if I need extra time.

Lastly—and as always—it’s okay to adjust your goals.

Even your accountability partner will understand if you say you can’t write the same amount of words in the fall as you can in the spring. Life happens. Don’t punish yourself for not hitting your goal. Instead, ask yourself why. Are you being too hard on yourself? Are your expectations too high? Adjust your word count or time, and try again.  

It took me a long time to find my happy place with creative writing vs. revising, but I would never have found it if I hadn’t adjusted along the way.

For instance, I used to write 10,000 words a week. That number makes me gasp now. With a full-time job, a house to take care of, and the understanding that I need more time to be human, I’m nowhere near that output anymore. And that’s okay! I have new goals now. And with those, I am staying accountable.

What about you? Do you have accountability partners?

~SAT

Tips for Writing During a Life Change

3 Mar

Life is crazy, right? There’s moving, job changes, babies, weddings, divorces, health complications, weather disasters, and (okay, I’ll stop listing all these crazy life changes. You get the point.) Life is fun, but it can get complicated.

Working full time while writing is hard enough, but what do you do when you’re also coping with a life change?

You could curl up at your desk and cry…(which, totally valid)…or you could try these tips below.

To be honest, the answer to this question is going to be different for everyone. But I’m actually going through this right now. I just began a new job at the library, so my hours are totally different than what I’ve been used to for the past three years. Even my sleep schedule has changed, dramatically, and adjusting to my new way of living while trying to keep up with my writing goals is a little difficult.

So here are some quick tips I’ve learned by going through this.

1. Give Yourself Time to Breathe

If you’re not on a serious deadline, try to give yourself time to adjust to your new situation. In my case, that meant relaxing when I got home from work (even if it was a super short shift) and only writing on my days off. Slowly, I started to write after or before work too, but to be honest, I’m still adjusting to my new schedule, and my new job has to come first right now. Remember: writing isn’t a race. Start slowly. Getting burnout is the last thing you need, both for your new life change and your writing life. If you’re on a deadline though, you probably don’t have this luxury. In that case, I suggest as much sleep as you can get and, if possible, support from friends and family. Ex. If you’re moving, try to see if you can get a buddy to unbox a few things for you while you write. Pay them with pizza. Heck, hang out with them for five minutes if you can. You still deserve a little time to de-stress. Clearing your mind will help you hit those goals more than pushing yourself too hard all the time. If your stress levels are too high to write, binge-read all the books you’ve missed out on. Breathe.

2. Experiment

Whether you just had a baby or moved or divorced or (whatever), you will have to experiment with your new life to see what fits you best. It might take a while to realize whether or not the experiment is working. Like I said above, I’m still adjusting. I first made a goal to write on days I was off, but then realized I was exhausted during my first few days off. (Adjusting to a new sleep schedule has been the hardest part.) It took two weeks to realize I needed to try that experiment again, and sure enough, it was successful the second time around. My goal is to adjust, not to perform the exact same right away. Granted, my eventual goal is to get back up to speed, but for now I’m concentrating on work training, feeling energized, and getting back on my feet. Which brings me to my next point…

3. Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

Adjusting to something is HARD. The last thing you need to do is be any more hard on yourself than life already is. If you struggle with writers block because of the change, take a bigger break or write anyway (and don’t judge yourself when you hate what you wrote. You might find out when you read it later on that it wasn’t so bad after all). Remind yourself why you love writing and that this is a temporary feeling. You will adjust. Reward yourself for the little things (because those little, first steps can feel huge). For instance, on my old schedule, I tended to write 10,000 words per week pretty easily, but lately, I’ve been managing about 5,000, and that’s okay. I’m just glad that I’m still figuring out when and how I can write, so that I can continue more in the future.

So these are my tips!

If you’re currently going through a life change, I hope these help you write well and feel good about writing again.

~SAT

Reward Your Writing

13 Mar

Writing is hard. So is publishing. It’s easier than I want to admit to fall into a downward spiral of imposter syndrome. Or something worse. But there are ways to combat that spiral of doom. For me, that spiral consists of workaholic syndrome. I will write, write, write until I burn out, and sometimes, I’ll try to write even when I know I’m burnt out and need to rest. I mean, there’s always something to do, right? Whether it’s outlining, writing, editing, querying, or marketing, a writer ALWAYS has something on their To-Do list. It’s easy to lose yourself in that madness.

So what’s one thing you can do to prevent writer’s madness?

Reward yourself.

Reward yourself when you finish a novel or sign with an agent or get your first publishing deal. Get those new office supplies you’ve always wanted. Or take the day off to read.

Writing is often a lonely, thankless endeavor. After spending months writing a novel, it can hurt to hear questions like “When will it get published? Where’s your movie deal? Oh, you’re still doing that writing thing?” It can gnaw at you. Granted, I don’t expect anyone to thank me just for writing—don’t get me wrong—but it’s okay to thank yourself for continuing to follow your dreams.

So many people claim they will write a novel and never write a word. The fact that you are moving forward is worth something. You haven’t given up, and that’s awesome. By taking a moment to acknowledge that, you’re encouraging more positive feelings than negative ones. You won’t get so lost in the pressures of publishing or succumb to imposter syndrome. You will enjoy the writer’s journey.

My advice? Make goals, and when you reach them, take a moment to celebrate.

Every time I finish a novel, I buy myself a trinket—like a coffee mug or, more recently, a Funko Pop of Tuxedo Mask for my desk. Why? Because it’s part of my writing ritual. Every gift is under $10, but each item feels priceless. It represents time and effort and the passion I have to move forward. Those trinkets remind me of that on the hard days in between.

Maybe you’ll buy a coffee mug like I do—or maybe you’ll bake brownies on the weekend. Something. Anything. Even just a nap. Let yourself enjoy that goal you reached. And then, set a new one.

You’re worth it.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs Making More Time To Write

19 Dec

I wish I had more time to write.

Am I right?

But seriously, every writer I know wishes they had more time to write, and most writers also know it’s a matter of making more time to write. (You know, unless you managed to get your hands on Hermione Granger’s Time-Turner, in which case, lucky you.)

200

But how does someone make more time to write?

1. Study your schedule

2. See what you can adjust

3. Set a new schedule and stick with it

Sounds simple, right? But we all know it isn’t.

We have schedules for a reason. They work. We’ve figured out how much time we need each morning to make breakfast and get ready for work. We know how much energy we have to expend throughout the day, and we know that we HAVE to watch that new KDrama releasing this month. (I mean, we all need to satisfy our vices every now and then, right?)

But here’s the truth: You CAN change your schedule…and it might be a little uncomfortable at first. You also might have to change it more than once to find that extra timeslot that works for you.

Want an example?

Recently, I wanted to meet a deadline early, but I knew I didn’t have enough time in my day to do so. In fact, I rarely write every day. My full-time job on the computer often leaves me exhausted and, quite frankly, sick of staring at a computer screen. Add carpal tunnel, and, well, it gets easy to say no to writing after work. But I knew that was my weak point, so I started there.

I set my goal: Wake up an hour early every day just to write. Before emails. Before social media. Before work. Before everything. Just an hour to write.

The first three days were awesome. Granted, I started my goal on a weekend. That way, I was still rewarded with a little extra sleep. But then the workweek came.

Holy hell. The first day wasn’t bad, but the second? UGH. The fifth day was probably the worst day, though the sixth day had me wondering if I really wanted to do this. At one point, I actually wrote less than my usual amount, because I was too tired to concentrate. Then, the seventh day came, and I adjusted much faster that morning. Now, it’s routine.

After I adjusted, I definitely reached my goals and wrote more than I expected. (I added an extra hour of writing time, after all.) I’m still getting up an hour early every day, and so far, so good. I don’t feel any more tired than I used to, and I’m more productive than I was before. I mainly attribute this to the fact that I start my day with writing. Even though I’m not a morning person, it’s easy to get bogged down by the day, but if I start writing before all of that pressure puts me down, I can write without worry, without distraction, and without the world of work life. Granted, I’m not telling everyone to do what I did. Your goals are going to be different than mine, because your life is different than mine. But I promise you, you can find more time without a Time-Turner.

So, here are three additional tips.

1. Consider what is actually holding you back. For me, it was work exhaustion, so I knew I had to find time before work. But I was hesitant. I’m not a morning person. I’m a monster in the mornings. And this fact terrified me before I even started. I was sure I would fail, but I didn’t. Don’t let your limitations set you back. Many limitations are like your schedule: You set them. You can also change them. (Though I still don’t consider myself a morning person.)

2. Make smaller goals within your larger ones. Having a goal beyond “I just want to write more” helped me push myself to reach expectations. I had a deadline. This smaller goal helped me stay focused on something specific and attainable. If you go in thinking you’re changing your life, it might make you feel overwhelmed, but if you go in thinking you’re trying to change your week, it will feel reachable.

3. Tough out your new schedule. As you saw above, I had ups and downs. I had mornings I questioned myself, and plenty of times I wanted to stay in bed, but I didn’t. I forced myself to get up again and again, and eventually, I adjusted. Personally, I suggest toughing out your schedule for at least two weeks to see if you can adjust to it. If you can’t, try another adjustment.

Changing anything in your life isn’t easy, but having more time to write?

Now, that’s worth it.

~SAT

Bye Bye Blogging (For Now)

1 Oct

Don’t be afraid! Don’t be!

Every year I do this, but I know many of you are new, so here’s a little explanation.

I am taking a month off of blogging and social media in general. While November was last year’s doom and gloom month, this year I have chosen October.

But what do I mean by “taking time off”?

I’ll still be writing, editing, and poking my head in on my social media accounts every now and then, but I won’t be around as much. Why?

I take one month off of regular blogging and social media every year for many reasons.

  1. It allows me to reevaluate my schedule, goals, and how to correlate them for the next year.
  2. It gives me a break!

Little Shannon reading her first book to her elementary class. (I bet I reevaluated myself back then, too.)

Little Shannon reading her first book to her elementary class. (I bet I reevaluated myself back then, too.)

I blog three times a week, all year long. (I used to blog every other day, without fail.) And I’m only human. I get really tired. I get overwhelmed. And sometimes, I just need some space to take care of myself outside the blogosphere that I love so very much.

Which…reminds me. If there is anything you want to see in 2017, let me know! I love hearing from you, and your opinions matter to me. ❤

Again, I’ll still be around! (And don’t be surprised if I come back early—I did last year.)

But until then.

Thanks for understanding!

If you’re here while I’m on break, and you want some great articles to check out, below is a list of my top ten articles from this year.

1. No. Reading is Not an OptionAs a full-time editor and author, I have come across more and more writers who believe they don’t have to read in order to be a writer. I adamantly disagree, and I stand by my opinion—and Stephen King’s opinion—that you must read A LOT in order to be a writer. So go out there and fall in love with reading again.

2. The 90-10 Rule for Marketing and Writing, and How To Love ItWriting is hard. It’s a business. I stay organized with my writing-marketing calendar, and I truly believe a lot of writers could help themselves by trying to organize themselves that way. It’s easy to get lost in marketing (and harder to swallow the fact that, yes, you must market, a lot, no matter how you’re published), but you can learn to love it, and you can guarantee you don’t forget to write with a few little reminders.

3. The Truth Behind an Author’s Instagram: I really want to write articles like this for all my social medias, because it is important for authors (and readers) to remember that social media—while fun—isn’t the whole picture. I know we show our highlight reels every day, and things seem perfect, and everyone’s life appears wonderful, but like I mentioned above, writing is hard. Writing is a career. Writing is more than sitting around and coming up with ideas, and I hope this showed how social media can warp that, even though social media is still a lot of fun.

4. Help! My Female Character Is Flat: While writing my latest manuscript, I realized my female character was flat. How? Because I was holding her back. Why? Because I was afraid. When did I get scared and why did that happen…and how did I overcome it for her and myself? Read the article to find out.

5. Naming Your Characters: A lot can go into naming your characters, but hopefully, all these websites and tools help make the process smoother (and therefore, more fun)!

6. Writing Quicksand: I use the term writing quicksand to describe when writing it doing more harm than good. It does happen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t overcome it or acknowledge it. This is how I got out from my quicksand and started writing again.

7. My Protagonist and Illiteracy: As many of you know, my protagonist—Serena—in Bad Bloods is illiterate. This article is about my journey in writing an illiterate character and why I chose to do so. 

8An Author Who Fears Public Speaking: Public speaking used to FREAK me out. But my speech class in college gave me the confidence I needed to accept my stutter and meet friends while laughing about my speech impediment. Now, I’m not afraid anymore.

9. How to Create Book Teasers on a Small Budget: Book teasers are so much fun, but they can be daunting. This is how I created 13 teasers for my book release on a relatively tiny budget. (It’s not impossible!) I’ll definitely keep creating teasers in the future, and I hope this article helps authors have fun creating them like I did.

10. Writing Tips for Love Interests: I’m a sucker for love, so I love writing about love, and in this post, I discussed how you can round out your characters and their relationships with one another. One mistake I often see in aspiring romance writers is making the romantic interest just that: a romantic interest. Your romantic interest should have goals and a life of their own. Find out how.

Also, book links! 😀 

Bad Bloods: November Rain (FREE)

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

Bad Bloods: November Snow

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

Bad Bloods Free Book:

Bad Bloods Free Book:

The Timely Death Trilogy
Minutes Before Sunset 
(FREE) 

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksSmashwordsKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrise

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksSmashwordsKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylight

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksSmashwordsKoboGoodreads

takefofytseve

 

Interview with Andrew Vogel, actor on Under the Dome, and director

5 Dec

Special thanks to Mrs N of Princess of the Light: Shining the Light for All for nominating ShannonAThompson.com for Blog of the Year: 2013 and the Dragon’s Loyalty Award.

Another special thanks goes to Jennifer K Marsh, author of ILIMOSKUS, for nominating ShannonAThompson.com for the WordPress Family award.

Today, I am delighted to announce that I was able to interview Andrew Vogel, the actor who played Carter Thibodeau in Under The Dome On CBS. You might have seen a photo of him holding Minutes Before Sunset in my last post. Afterward, he was nice enough to agree to an interview, and you can read it below.

Shannon: Hi, Andrew. Thank you for talking with me today.

Andrew: My pleasure.

Shannon: When do you remember deciding to become an actor, what inspired you, and how did you go about it?

Andrew: Well,  I think I was always somewhat of a performer.  I had done plays throughout grammar school and high school. It was always fun for me to be in front of people.  Although it was always nerve-wracking and still is. But I never saw acting as a career option and ended up studying psychology in college.  But even then I was always working on different creative projects.  I even had a comedic rap group going at one point.

At the same time I enrolled in grad school for business of all things, I enrolled in a local acting class. Almost immediately I dis-enrolled from grad school and decided I wanted to give film acting a run. The class had certainly awoken my passion for the art. I had taken a year off after undergrad to work retail and I was flat out miserable.  It was one of those things where I just knew it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. I don’t know if that year inspired me, but it certainly made me realize that I would never be content if creativity wasn’t a significant part of my work.

Anyway, I began training for film acting and also working retail part time. Which still wasn’t satisfying enough.  Did I mention I don’t like working retail? But soon enough, through some good contacts and well placed volunteer efforts, I landed a job as the Editor of Louisiana Film and Video Magazine which allows me to work from home and virtually pursue my creative endeavors full time.

Andrew Vogel as Carter on the set of Under the Dome

Andrew Vogel as Carter on the set of Under the Dome

Shannon: I also hear that you have a passion for directing. What do you like most about directing and do you have any upcoming plans with it?

Andrew: I directed one short film for a 48 hour film contest. It was one of the most rewarding creative experiences I’ve ever had. I had my hand on every detail of the film from the overall vision down to props and costumes. I think what I loved the most was the chaos of it all.  There was so much creative freedom within that chaos. Ideas were flowing off the cuff for myself and the entire team. My wheels were turning as fast as ever, and yet I was forced to be in the moment and keep things moving. There was no time for creative blocks.  We made decisions, improvised and adapted. It’s amazing what ended up remaining of the original vision by the time it was all said and done.  We had added so much richness by the end of the project that wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for the driving force of chaos. Never have I felt more focused and alive, ha.

The feedback we got on the film after the contest was as good as we could have hoped for. Unfortunately, we turned it in a bit late and were not eligible for awards.  On the upside, we did another version of the film with more footage and better quality sound that we are sending out to festivals.

Nothing is set in stone yet, but myself and the original crew of the 48 hour project are always cooking up new ideas.  I certainly plan on directing again in the near future.

Shannon: What has been your most interesting experience as an actor?

Andrew Vogel with Minutes Before Sunset.

Andrew Vogel with Minutes Before Sunset.

Andrew: Being on set as an actor is always interesting.  You kind of fall into a bubble where the outside world doesn’t seem to exist. And you tend to quickly get to know the people you work.  Often times there is little sleep and a lot of waiting. That combination leads to interesting conversation.

For me, my favorite moment as an actor was my first day on Under the Dome.  Keep in mind I had never worked on a project near this size before so I was excited to say the least.  I felt like I was living the dream.  I mean, I was getting paid to do what I love in a city I’ve never been.  I had a king suite at the hotel, a personal trailer on set, and food on demand.  Not a bad setup for a layman. So after being delivered a breakfast burrito to my trailer, I was taken to set with some other actors. They all seemed cooler than me. And probably were.  Once I was on set, I was introduced to the director who responded, “I know who he is. I hired him,” and followed by telling me, “Do exactly what you did in the audition.”  I was nervous at first.  The scenes I was in seemed to revolve around my character, Carter, who is an older bully crashing a high school party with a sixer of beer and a bravado worthy of Steve Stifler.  After my first take which to me felt shaky, the director said to me, “That was bleepin perfect,” and proceeded to give me minor technical notes.  That in combination with a seemingly endless amount of takes had me feeling confident.  By the end of the day I was teaching extras how to spin beer bottles in their hand and seeing how many winks I could fit in before they yelled “cut”. Slight exaggeration.

Shannon: Is your favorite genre of film to work with different from your favorite genre of film to watch?

Andrew: I don’t think I have a favorite genre to work with yet.  I’m certainly still discovering my strengths and weaknesses.  As a dream role I would like to play a villain in one of those comic book movies.

It’s hard to put a label on my favorite movie genre to watch, but I like films that have psychological or philosophical depth. Preferably with surreal or fantastical elements. In my opinion, a good film, like a good book, leaves me thinking afterwards.

Shannon: Has any one specifically encouraged you to become an actor? Has any one discouraged it? What are the best and worst parts about these careers?

Andrew: Since my decision to pursue a career as an actor, most everyone has been supportive. My parents have always encouraged me to perform I think from a young age. Because they knew I enjoyed it. More people are supportive since Under the Dome. Go figure.

I’ve always been a high-risk achiever.  Meaning I try to accomplish the unlikely. And there’s always been people who have told me that I couldn’t do something, and then when I do it, they look for some sort of corruption. That’s okay though. I think the people closest to me have learned to expect the unexpected.

The best part about my career is the fact that I do what I love as a profession.  The worst part is being rejected over and over. But even that isn’t so bad.  I’m at the point where, unless it’s a major audition, I forget about auditions as soon as they are over with.

If you care about having a lot of money, it’s a much tougher road.

Shannon: Finally, do you have any inspirational quotes or thoughts to share with those aspiring to become an actor or director?

Andrew: My philosophy in life is simply to pursue passion and never stop exploring. If you aren’t sure what you are passionate about, then explore life with an open mind until you do. Finding passion will guide you to truth and happiness.

That being said, first make sure you want to act or direct for the right reasons, then jump in head first and don’t look back. Be bold. Take chances. And no matter how much talent you think you might have, be prepared to start from nothing and learn from the best. Without humility and flexibility, you won’t grow as an artist.

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” ― Christopher Reeve

Shannon: Thank you again for speaking with me today.

Be sure to visit Andrew Vogel at IMDB.

~SAT 

The Artist’s Guilt

6 Nov

Win a signed copy of Minutes Before Sunset today

Most people would agree that art is very significant to a culture, especially the older the art lasts. Ironically, those same people might belittle the “starving artists” or any artist for many reasons (the main one generally surrounds an income.) But, even more importantly, artists often belittle themselves, and that’s what I wanted to talk about today: the guilt associated with being an artist.

Granted, I am a writer. I cannot draw. I definitely can’t sing. And dancing might result in a broken limb. So why am I talking about artists like we’re all the same? Because all types of art are a form of expression. With a definition as simple as this, it’s hard to remember why we–as artists–might feel guilty. There’s nothing wrong with expression, right? As long as it’s not violent to others or to the artists, I would say there shouldn’t be any guilt in expressing something, but, to be quite frank, society just doesn’t function on expression.

There are basic necessities needed for survival. There are loved one who need attention. There are bills to be paid. And then there is expression. ( Take the order however you want to take it. )

Because of this, I believe the artist’s guilt comes down to two different categories: (Since I’m a writer, I will be using writers as examples.)

1. The art is conflicting with every day life: it either prohibits life’s needs or life’s needs prohibit the art.

I see this mainly with money. It’s a necessity to life. We buy groceries, see the doctor, and get clothes with money. But it’s hard to make enough money with art, and it’s difficult to pursue art while working a full-time job. Beyond that, we see a time guilt as well. This happen a lot with parents. Mothers and fathers take care of their children first which often takes time away from writing. (This is not to say this is a bad thing, of course.) But I also see it happen with students, who feel guilty about writing instead of studying or studying instead of writing.

2. The art is unsatisfactory to the artist: that can rely on the final piece or how people react to the piece.

I think many artists feel guilty for all of the time they spent on a project if it doesn’t satisfy the viewer or if they failed to meet their own expectations. But my biggest guilt hits me when I realize some of the topics I write about are truly traumatizing to people, and I’m afraid I might offend, hurt, and/or misrepresent those very people. Honestly, I’ve seen reviews of readers saying an author was disrespectful to a topic, and I found myself wondering how a reader could assume the author hadn’t gone through it themselves and that the author was actually being honest rather than disrespectful? It’s hard to say. But I think this guilt–whether it be a reaction from the artist or the viewer–happens a lot.

So what can we do to cope with this artist’s guilt?

A good cuddle session with Bogart also helps with the guilt :]

A good cuddle session with Bogart also helps with the guilt :]

Like everyone else, I have responsibilities: school, work, relationships, etc. But writing is a must for me. My emotional and mental, if not physical, health depends on my ability to express myself. Even if it’s for five minutes, I need it. But that’s not to say I don’t feel guilty when I spend an entire night writing instead of seeing a friend or running errands that I should’ve done last week. I do. And I definitely have anxiety over a reader feeling I’ve misrepresented a group of people. But these two worries are overcome by one fact: Writing brings me happiness. It completes me. No matter how much guilt I feel, I am quickly reminded by how much happiness I feel following my dream, knowing that expressing myself through art will allow me to be the best person that I can be. 

Basically, I think it’s vital for artists to remind themselves why they became artists in the first place and what/why art brings them happiness. We can also remind ourselves that we are definitely not alone in this.

To prove this, you can look at my Facebook Author Page where I asked, “Do you have any guilt associated with being a writer?” And here were two fantastic answers: 

Patrick Dixon: (Insomnia, Nightmares, and General Madness)

“I tend to suffer from an overabundance of guilt in general, but two kinds directly relating to writing are pretty common for me:

First, that I don’t do it enough or well enough, so the concept of even calling myself a “writer” feels like a bad joke. This has been especially common in the last couple of months since personal, financial and health problems have kept me away from the keyboard for far longer than they should have. There isn’t really a cure for this other than just sitting down and writing, but that has a way of making it’s own guilt complex (“What am I ignoring to do this, which is actually just a hobby or a joke or a waste of time, hmmm?”)

Second, similarly to you, that what I write will offend, irritate or otherwise alienate readers, especially those sensitive to the source material. One of my novels deals heavily with a suicidally depressed (and possibly schizophrenic or otherwise delusional) individual and ends… well. Quite poorly for him, we’ll say. I’ve received several angry comments, claiming that I don’t know what it’s like (and, actually, given a background of abuse and mental and physical health issues, that’s kind of where most of it came from…) and some that claim it’s essentially an endorsement for erratic and suicidal behavior (when I was trying to write it out of my system, not “infect” others with it.) Again, there isn’t much you can do except stand by your work; you wrote it, the “truth” as you knew it, and it’s bound to upset somebody… but it’s also likely that there’s just as many somebodies who found something useful in it.”

Josephine Jones Harwood: Romance Writer

“This is an excellent question and topic, Shannon. I just read this post and I hope I’m not too late to make a comment: As a first-time author there has been a transition that has occurred in my life. Writing is no longer a hobby like putting a puzzle together for relaxation. I feel a true passion and need to write and keep on writing…and this is when the guilt settles in like a stone in the pit of my stomach. I am a wife, a mother, and I am also a family caregiver. Writing must take a backseat to obligations and responsibilities. I have no regrets, and I have a very blessed life. I truly appreciate the quiet moments when it is my time to write…but this is always accompanied by guilt…because it is “my” time.”

So do have any guilt associated with being a writer? Or being any kind of artist? 

Comment below and share your story!

~SAT

Happy Halloween to 10,000+ Followers :D

31 Oct

First, I must apologize for my lack of posts. I know I always post every other day, but, between school, work, and edits, I’ve been swamped this week. On top of that, I have to admit this will also be a very short (but exciting) post. Don’t worry; I have some great posts already written and scheduled to come your way soon!

ShannonAThompson.com hit 10,000 followers. 

This is a milestone I am amazed I can celebrate, and I’m here because of you all. Thank you! I’m currently dancing in the rain here in Kansas (It’s been raining like crazy.)

As a celebration, I’m giving away a signed copy of Minutes Before Sunset via Goodreads! So enter that competition for FREE here 😀 

Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 6.02.37 PM

I hope everyone is having a fantastic Halloween! And I am looking forward to starting off November with more posts about writing, reading, and dreaming 😀

~SAT

P.S. I’m going to do a cover reveal for Seconds Before Sunrise on December 1st, and I am looking for blogs to help share the cover. If you’re interested, please comment below with a way to contact you or send an email to shannonathompson@aol.com. 

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