Tag Archives: guest

#MondayBlogs All You Need (as a writer)

14 Dec

Intro:

Being a writer isn’t a decision for many. You just are. Still, it takes a lot to decide to be true to you and your work. Today’s guest blogger knows this lesson all too well. Ken Hughes, an urban fantasy author, discusses the truth behind what it takes to be an author—and how to stick with it.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

All You Need (as a writer) by Ken Hughes

ken.jpegWhen I wake up, I step outside and leap hundreds of feet up to float above the city.

–Alright, it’s my character who does that. But I’m the one who gets to capture the sensation of Mark kicking away from gravity, hanging in the night sky, and staring around for a certain suspicious owl that might glide out of the moonlight above.

And it can be frightening… just how much I love that storytelling. But I think I’m starting to understand, how that passion is the best key there is to living as a writer.

As a career, writing is its own special kind of hard. Half the people you meet they’re working on a book, but nobody can help you in the trenches. It means

  • discipline – to keep at it for years and years in the hope that something gets better
  • choices – every scene, in fact every word, is your responsibility
  • doubt – never being sure you’ve gotten the tale to the level you want
  • and the twist: after all that time locking yourself in the basement, you have to come outside and SELL total strangers on your work. Seriously?

But what I think is, it all needs to come from the joy of the right story.

Because of one key:

“I only write what I can love.”

Prison or Prize?

Let’s accept one thing: writing is not an easy way to make your fortune, or even your fame.

Sure, there are plenty of comfortably-paid writers in the world, especially in the digital age. But If your goal is really to combine “cool stuff about what I read” with leaving your day job or having a boatload of eager fans, the time it takes to write one novel (long before you know what you’re doing) can get you on your way to making a world-class blog, a dozen clever apps, or an FX apprenticeship where you can get your fingertips onto making the magic happen. If that’s what you want, for cat’s sake follow that dream!

Writing is the way to chase those thrills where you have to reinvent everything, word for word, in many ways from scratch. (Not in all ways, luckily.) So if you write, it should be because you don’t just love spy stories, you love deciding how your spy scouts an area and the exact moment her lips quirk into a smile.

And… there is no secret, no plan or key that can change how a writer needs to spend hundreds of hours simply writing. All with no help, no shortcuts, doing nothing except putting the next word down. To many people, that sounds like a prison sentence, and it’s meaningless if it isn’t lifelong.

But that works both ways:

If you know your story is the exact kind of “leap to the sky” that you want to be writing, those hours become something very different. They mean that for the rest of your life, any time that isn’t locked down paying bills or doing laundry can go right back to writing in your own world—and nothing can take that away. All you need is a notepad and five minutes (thirty seconds if it’s jotting down a sudden idea) to get back to your happy place. It’s an exhilarating discovery.

And, it’s the best way to make the story better.

At least, it is if you’ve made that place your own.

Defining Your Bliss

We all come into writing through other writers and other stories. Since that’s what first inspires us, it makes a certain sense that it might also be the source of a few of our problems. That is, if we to learn too much of the wrong lesson from one of our heroes.

I can’t get enough of Brandon Sanderson’s sprawling worlds or Joss Whedon’s talent for maintaining a whole roster of Avengers… but I don’t want to write that crowded a story. I’d kill to produce one page as poetic as Patrick Rothfuss’s, but it’s not what my tales are about.

If you love witty dialog—write that. Learn what makes it sparkle, how to pick and choose so you aren’t just copying one writer’s style, and keep writing that. Learn to get all that annoying description out of the way with just enough to do the job, or maybe the right touches to make your banter even better. And then you know that every day, what you have waiting for you is a chance to write more wit.

If you want the ultimate romantic lead, go for it. Work out what makes him/her perfect for your protagonist… and just what kind of stylized or silly or traumatic conflict to play off of that to turn it into a STORY worth sweating over. All the rest of the tale is only a basic foundation for that.

Myself, the more I understand how much I savor the sheer suspense of pushing Mark and Angie to the brink in a fight or a round of cat and mouse, the more I look forward to the next chance I get to write. And the better my scenes get.

Discipline? The next struggle in the book calls to me to get in there and write it. In fact, each time I sit down and discover that, yes, what I’ve got waiting is another glorious twist on how my poor heroes have to master their magic, the easier it is to trust that the next session will be playing to my strengths too. (Which is what “discipline” really means: not pushing through resistance but training yourself until the right action becomes the natural one.)

Choices? Because I can put my finger on what I want to write, I can test and study what makes good suspense and how many other pieces a story needs to make that work. Plus it means I can track one of Sanderson’s brilliant battles or the terror in The Blair Witch Project and call it “research.”

Doubt? There’s always further I can go, but at least I know what I’m trying to do, and how good I’ve already gotten at it. And, bouncing my work off of writers and readers means I’m hearing from people who have the same love of a good magical thrill.

Even the writer’s great Introversion/Promotion Paradox turns out to be not so different from the rest of the process: it’s still learning to zero in on what sets me on fire. After all my years locked in with my books I never thought “marketing” and “networking” could be words I’d want to be in the same room with, but it’s true. All I need is to pick which piece of adventurous awesomeness to mention first, and let my excitement show. (And like every other aspect of writing, learn a few other basics to support them—but really only a few.)

In fact, the two top pieces of advice I’ve found about a writing career are, “write better” and “write more.” Tapping into my own excitement is the best—almost the only—way to put more time into writing, and that time plus my clearer focus and related studies are just the thing to raise my game. (Bonus: there’s a word for a writer’s sense of just which kind of fun we write and share: that much-sought-after thing called a “brand.” Sometimes everything falls into place.)

Writing isn’t for everyone. But if it is for you, and you find the kind of writing you can commit to, those hours and years of work can become kind of experience you need them to be. There’s a good chance some day you’ll have people lining up to share your own kind of excitement. And yes, you might enjoy it as much as the scribbling.

But, your fans will still understand when you have to step away again. Just tell them you have to get back to sending your hero onto his next leap to the sky.

–Ken Hughes

ken2Author Bio:

Ken Hughes is a writer on a mission to hone the sharpest suspense, most gripping adventure, and most desperately human heroes in urban fantasy. For a peek at what he’s doing and why, take a look at www.KenHughesAuthor.com.

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs Find Your Perfect Editor: 7 Valuable Tips

7 Dec

Intro:

Last week we talked about how to self-edit before you found an editor for your manuscript. This week we’re talking about how to find that perfect editor. This topic is very important to me, since I’m a full-time editor. It’s vital for authors and editors to find the perfect fit for one another. Special thanks to today’s guest writer, Antonio Tooley! Let’s welcome him.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

Find Your Perfect Editor: 7 Valuable Tips by Antonio Tooley

Every writer, no matter how great he or she is, needs an editor at some point. Now, it’s not just a matter of going through the ads and finding someone. You need to find an editor who is willing to dedicate their time and expertise in order to help you come up with the best work possible, not just someone who’s going to go through the motions, doling out generic advice that’s only going to frustrate you and have you end up with something you don’t like.

Not being able to get behind your own work is not an option, plus you will waste precious time and money getting nowhere. That is why you must really think good and hard when choosing an editor that will push you in the right direction, and ultimately, help you create something you are fully satisfied with. We have put together a list of 7 useful tips that will help you find the right editor. Here they are.

1. Figure Out What Type of Editor You Need

You need to establish the kind of editor you need for your work. If it’s a book, you’ll want to collaborate with a content editor that is not only concerned with it being grammatically sound, but is also interested in the big picture, and elements such as plotting and pacing. If you want someone to fact-check your work and make sure there aren’t any inconsistencies, you will need a copy editor. If you are simply concerned with getting your spelling, punctuation and grammar right, a line editor would be a good choice.

2. Experience Matters

Just because someone is qualified to be an editor based on their qualifications, is not enough in this case. In addition to having a degree in English, your editor should be someone who has experience, and by experience we mean a good track record in the industry. Although having someone inexperienced cut their teeth on your book or a novel for very little money seems tempting, you should always invest in someone who has previous experience in editing.

3. Know Where to Find Them

Simply going on Craigslist, or googling for an editor is not going to work. We would advise you to ask your fellow writers to recommend you a good editor. If you don’t have any friends that are writers, contacting the authors or editors of books you appreciate is not a bad idea, although it may prove to be an expensive one. You can also look for editors on websites and forums that cater to writers.

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4. Find Out How Many Clients Your Editor is Currently Working With

This is really important, because you need an editor who will be able to dedicate enough time to read your work, a few times if needed, and then proceed with editing it. Of course, they may work with some other writers at the same time, but if they are involved on 10 other projects, you may have to look elsewhere.

5. Sample Edit

So, you’ve found an editor with good credentials, but that still doesn’t mean they are right for you. Most editors are willing to do a trial edit for you that involves editing several pages, or a chapter of your book for a reasonable fee. That way, you can decide whether their ideas and what they bring to the table are a good match for your book or not.

6. Talk to Their Previous Clients 

Another way of narrowing down the list of editors you want for your book is to get in touch with some of their past clients which were satisfied with their work. That way, you can get an insight into how they work, and what they can do to take your work to the next level. Sometimes, even a brilliant editor may not be the right fit for your book.

7. Establish Your Budget

Figure out how much money you are able to set aside in order to pay for an editor. Experienced editors are always more expensive, especially if they’ve edited a best-selling book. On the other hand, if they are too cheap, that is usually indicative of their experience. Your best bet would be to look for an editor who fits into your price range, but whose references include books or authors that you appreciate.

book

If hiring an editor is still too expensive for you, there are plenty of online editing services that can help you edit your work, for a lower price. We have chosen the following three:

1. Editage.com – One of the biggest editing services on the web also has one of the largest editorial teams which edit the works of over 72,000 authors around the world. Their team is capable of covering over 1200 different subjects, so if your books, novels, or papers deal with a really specific field, you can rest assured you will find an editor who is an expert on that particular subject.

2. EduGeeksClub.com – EduGeeksClub is one of the leading services when it comes to editing books, papers, dissertations, and articles, among others. Their editors have years of academic experience, and they also work in teams on each project, which means no mistake can get by them. They will perform fact checking, as well as go through your grammar, spelling, structural and punctuation errors.

3. EditorWorld.com – Another top online editing service which gathers scholars, published authors, writers and professional editors whose qualifications are impeccable and whose excellent track records are a guarantee your book will receive the treatment it so rightly deserves. You can personally choose the person that will edit your work.

If you want your book to captivate the readers, it needs to be flawless first, and having a good editor that understands what your work is all about, and who is able to get on the same page with you, no pun intended, is of the highest importance.

Although the ordeal of finding the right editor for your work may feel tedious, the benefits of having one outweigh everything else, plus you will wind up becoming a better writer.

Author Bio:

Antonio is a hopeless optimist who enjoys basking in the world’s brightest colors. He loves biking to distant places and occasionally he gets lost. When not doing that he’s blogging and teaching ESL. He will be happy to meet you on Facebook and Twitter.

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in 2016, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs 6 Tools to Improve Your Grammar

23 Nov

Intro:

Every writer needs an editor, but before that, every writer needs to edit for themselves. It’s always best to make your manuscript the best manuscript you can before you hire someone else to help on top of that. Because of this need, I am excited to share today’s article with you. Sarah Whitson is here to help you help yourself with six tools for your grammar.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

6 Tools to Improve Your Grammar by Sarah Whitson

Whether you’re a writer, a novelist, or simply a student who would like to revisit English language skills once in a while, your top concern will always be how well you’re doing when it comes to grammar. Grammar is undoubtedly the trickiest part of learning a language because there aren’t always concrete rules to determine why something is said the way it is said.

Excessive use of slang, colloquial language, idiomatic expressions, and verbally spoken incorrect grammar also distort grammar rules, making it even more difficult for linguists and writers to get the hang of the latest grammar rules and making sense of it all. A recent article published on the Business Insider reveals how a Harvard linguist debunked many grand grammar myths, transforming the way we think about words such as “like“ and “as”, along with many other terms and usages.

So, what should keep you up-to-date with grammar rules and areas where you may need improvement? Here are X tools that might help.

  • Grammarly: If you often use word processors to type up your writings, here is a tool that will help spot your grammar mistakes– andwork ten times better than the typical default grammar checker, of course. Grammarly can spot and fix 250+ mistakes that MS Words can’t find. You can also add Grammarly to your browser and double check mistakes even when you’re using Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, or using other websites where you may have to write.
  • New York Times-Grammar and Usage Section: The infamous NYT dedicates an entire section to “grammar and usage” that includes commentary on grammar and archival texts published related to the topic.Find out what professional linguists have to say about grammar rules in the latest articles.

PicMonkey Collage

  • Writing Forward: Writing Forward is a creative blog founded by Melissa Donovan, a creative writer qualified with a BA in English from Sonoma State University. Donovan aims to provide writers with tips and ideas along with posts about grammar, good writing habits and practices, and tons of exercises to keep your language in shape.
  • Grammar Blog: If bad grammar gives you the pet peeves (whether it’s someone else’s or your own) join the Grammar blog! This blogattempts to “mock poor grammar” (and they mean that literally). Grammar blog will (jokingly) point out places where people went against the sacredrules of grammar and point out how they could have been used properly. You can also directly ask the blog’s team anything you like related to grammar with a quick email.
  • White Smoke Anywhere: This tool is an all-in-one English correction tool. The complete and comprehensive software aims to perfect your English with advanced techniques. The tools will check your spelling, grammar, as well as sentence structures. This is a great tool to use while writing a dissertation papers through Dissertation mall. You can install the software on your desktop computer, smart phone, tablet, browser or anywhere where you write digitally! Translation capability enables text translation for over 45 different languages. Oh, and if that wasn’t already enough, there is also a plagiarism checker.
  • Paper Rater: Paper rater is a free online tool that will proofread your text and point out spelling and grammar mistakes. Unlike other software, you won’t have to signup, download, and install this tool for it to work. Apart from grammar checking, Paper Rater also double-checks plagiarism from over 10 billion documents. Paper rater also offers writing suggestions that will help improve your writing style. Simply hit the “Use Now For Free” button, copy paste the text, and get a report. A paid version will enable faster processing, file upload capability, and an enhanced plagiarism checker.

About Author: Sarah Whitson is a creative writer, mostly helping those students who lack English language skills.

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in December, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs Writing Rituals: All You Need To Know

16 Nov

Intro:

There are so many writing tips out there many writers don’t know where to start when they are looking for extra help. Sometimes, it’s as simple as starting with yourself, like your daily habits or your office space. Today, Heena Rathore P. is discussing writing rituals and how creating one can help energize your writing. Let’s welcome her!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

Writing Rituals: All You Need To Know by Heena Rathore P.

First of all I’d like to thank Shannon for letting me do a post for her amazing blog, Thanks a lot, Shannon!

What is a Writing Ritual?

Rituals, as defined in Merriam-Webster, are a series of actions or type of behaviour regularly and invariably followed by someone. So, in layman’s terms, Writing Rituals are nothing but these actions done specifically for writing or writing better.

In short, Writing Rituals are actions that trigger your creativity while shifting your mind into a mood for writing.

How are they beneficial?

Writing Rituals make sure that you are using the creative side of your brain to the fullest. Imagine yourself as a fitness freak who goes to gym every single day. Now, what is the one thing you would do before beginning the actual workout or the heavy workout? The answer is a warming up. So, to put it simply, Writing Rituals are important to prepare your brain to write, a creative warm up or a jumpstart, so to say.

As creative beings we all are well aware that if a writer is not in the mood for writing then he/she will most definitely NOT write and, as as a writer myself, I know firsthand that this happens quite often.

But, this can be easily avoided if you practice Writing Rituals.

To summarise, following are the benefits of Writing Rituals:

  • The ultimate cure for the much dreaded Writer’s Block.
  • Helps in writing better.
  • Helps in utilising the complete potential of your creative mind.
  • Saves a lot of time and emotional energy.
  • Helps in writing regularly.
  • Makes you more organised and disciplined.
  • Helps in successfully avoiding distractions.
Photo provided by Heena

Photo provided by Heena

How to create a Writing Ritual?

The name Writing Ritual sounds heavy, right? But creating one is simple, trust me. Just think about what really relaxes you?

A hot bath? A cup of tea? Meditation? Music? Dancing? Exercising? Jumping? Eating? Power-napping?

You can make any of these things a ritual. But the key is to treat it like one and with respect otherwise it won’t work.

For e.g., Scented candles, hot shower, soft cotton clothes and meditation help me relax. So, my Writing Ritual involves all theses things. I take a long, long hot shower, put on my cotton shorts and T, light a scented candle on my writing table and meditate for 5 minutes.

After doing this when I open my laptop, I feel like I’m totally ready to write. And that, my friends, is what is really important. You can’t write unless you feel ready to write.

Sometimes I also add a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate to my ritual.

Writing Rituals can be as simple as having a fixed place to write or writing in a certain position. Or they can be as complex as having to climb the mountaintop to write at a particular spot there. So, you see, it’s not difficult because it’s all upto you. In fact, it’s quite fun and I’m sure you’ll love doing it.
Just make sure that you do it regularly (each and everyday, if possible.)

Is there some science involved? 

The answer is, yes. As everyone knows, our brains are divided into two parts: Left Hemisphere and Right Hemisphere. Left hemisphere controls logical thinking whereas the right hemisphere controls creative thinking (in creative people right hemisphere is dominant.)

So, in order to use the right side of the brain it’s important to buzz out the left side entirely and trigger the right side. And this can be achieve only through relaxation. As far as my research goes, right side of the brain works flawlessly when a person is relaxed.

And Writing Rituals achieve this state quite efficiently.

Do famous authors have Writing Rituals?

Yes, as a matter of fact, most of the famous authors have their very own Writing Rituals. Right from Jane Austin to Stephen King, Mark Twain to Victor Hugo, everyone had/has one. Some are a lot simpler than others while others are a lot weirder.

If you find this subject interesting, you might want to check out these amazing articles:

What about you? Do you a Writing Ritual(s) of your own? Or are you convinced to have one now?

If you want to create one but feel that you can’t, then don’t hesitate to contact me. Please feel free to share your experience in the comments.

Heena Rathore P. (pic)Bio:

Heena Rathore P. is a writer from urban India. By profession she’s a freelance writer. Presently, she’s working on her first novel, Deceived, a psychological-thriller.

Apart from writing she loves spending her time reading and doing other creative stuff like painting, sketching and drawing.

She’s an introvert, a thinker, a neat freak, a voracious reader who is highly opinionated and a dog-lover.

You can connect with her at her Author Blog, Twitter, Instagram Goodreads or Facebook.

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in December, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs Music as Writing Inspiration

26 Oct

Intro:

I never used to write with music. The lyrics would distract me or it simply wouldn’t work. Many years later, I found music I actually enjoyed using, and I’ve used it since while brainstorming. Today, our guest writer is talking about just that. Using music to inspire her, here is Audrey Leaman.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

Music as Writing Inspiration by Aubrey Leaman

Ah, yes, that terrifying word: inspiration.  How do we find it? And if we find it, how do we turn it into something worthwhile?

For those of you like me who bump (or crash) into writer’s block, perhaps the muse may speak to you through music.  Here are some specific ways to help get those creative juices flowing:

1) Pop/Rock: Listen to your favorite song, shuffle a playlist, or find new music…there is always a story behind the song.

For example: “Someone Like You” by Adele: who is Adele’s character? Why did she and her lover separate? What prompted her to show up at his door in the first place?

For example: “Mr. Roboto” by Styx: Is the character an actual robot/cyborg? Or is this symbolism for something else? Why does he need to hide, and why is his life in danger?

Music as Writing Inspiration photo

Photo provided by Audrey

2) Classical: Reverse-engineer the story as though it were a movie soundtrack.  Who are the characters? What are they doing? What’s the genre (romantic comedy, drama, action/adventure, thriller)?

For example: To me, Maurice Ravel’s “Valley of the Bells” sounds like a man standing above a valley at the brink of a terrible fate.  ( Here’s the full story )

3) A song you don’t understand: I don’t know about you, but sometimes I will love a song at the same time that I have no idea what it’s actually about.  When you start stringing a bunch of obscure phrases together, while it may sound awesome, I’m not quite sure what the artist is trying to say anymore.  So challenge yourself to take those seemingly random phrases and imagine possible meanings for them.

For example: “Hypnotic” by Zella Day: I understand the chorus, but the verses are less clear: “white threads on my laces / stuck on the hinges, swinging the door to the backyard” could represent all kinds of things.  Maybe the character is a young girl at the time of being in love, or maybe she is just remembering past childhood days.  It could even be representative of how pure and fresh her lover makes her feel.

3) Playlist: shuffle your music library.  Each song is the next action or character in the story.

For example: A love song (One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful) followed by an angry song (Bon Jovi’s You Give Love a Bad Name) could inspire the story of a relationship that starts out strong but then bitterly falls apart when the girl changes her mind.

Have you tried something like this before? Can you think of other ways music might inspire a story?

Bio: What if mermaids wore suspenders? What if the White Rabbit played an Olympic sport? What if music could take you on an adventure?  Aubrey Leaman loves pushing boundaries by mixing and matching both between and within genres because she believes that the resulting fresh perspective can be both fun and illuminating.  So she uses books and music (and more) as diving boards to plunge into the cosmic pool that encompasses anything and everything that can be imagined.  You know, in a light-hearted, casual way.

You can follow her blog here and on  tumblr.

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in December, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs Finding Your Author’s Voice

5 Oct

Intro:

Voice. A singular word that makes most writers cringe, especially if you’re just starting out. But it doesn’t have to! Finding your “voice” can be a fun adventure, and today, author Ryan Attard, is discussing the ever-dreaded topic most avoid.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

Finding your Author’s Voice by Ryan Attard

If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you would have come across the concept of an author’s voice – one of the most confusing concepts out there in terms of writer’s education. We hear it all the time, whether we are writing a book, talking about one, or even writing those dreaded query letters; readers, writers and agents alike are all seeking voice.

But what the hell is this thing?

Your voice is your identity as a writer; it’s what makes your words yours (barring some long and boring copyright agreement that I will not include here, because I’d like everyone to read this without feeling like they have to drive a long rush nail into their cerebral cortex afterwards).

Your voice is who you are; what makes you choose what words to write; or what drives you to write them in the first place. But without going all Flower Power, let’s talk about this from a technical perspective.

When you read an author, if they have found their voice, you will find yourself inevitably either loving or hating that author. There is very little middle ground here, simply because now you know what that author is all about. You know where they’re going to go, even if they get better – and that either jives with you or it doesn’t. This is what differs a pro writer from someone who’s just starting out. The reason why established authors tend to sell a bajillion copies of their work is because we as readers identify with that story – or rather the voice of that author in telling the story.

I know… no one said this was easy to wrap your head around.

Think of J.K. Rowling for example. Yeah, Harry Potter is a great story, and it’s got its ups and down, but the reason fans still go gaga over it years after the last book (and movie) ended is because of Rowling’s voice. We can all sit down and write the exact same story, with the exact same characters and mechanics (but no Time-turner cos that’s bullshit!) and we’d all end up with a slightly different story – better or worse. A more recent example is Patrick Rothfuss: story-wise there is little to engage us in his series. On face value it’s about a guy telling us about his past in a school. So why does it have raving fans (guilty as charged) clamoring for the third book, like a riot happening outside of Conan Doyle’s house when he literally threw Sherlock of a cliff? (okay, technically it was a waterfall, but that really doesn’t have the same punch does it?)

The point is, a massive success goes beyond the perfect plot. It takes an author who really knows themselves and who really knows not only what they are writing about but also who are they writing for, as well as why; all in addition to a great story.

Better yet, that great story has to fit your author’s voice. This is a rookie mistake (one that I am guilty of) – we see something on TV, or read something awesome, and be like “Hey, I can do that!”

No, you can’t. Or rather, you can, but expect it to go down the crapper at around page 17. Sure if you want to steal an idea, or a setting, or a trope, it’s all fair game. ‘Talent borrows, Genius steals,’ as Oscar Wilde said.

But whatever you do make sure it all fits with YOU – as an artist, as a creator. It’s common when starting out have an inconsistent voice. Think of it in this way: when we are children we hear all sorts of phrases and inflections and whatnot, and we simply imitate. And the only way we have of sifting through this chaos is by doing it even more, eventually eliminating what sounds unnatural to us.

voice

This is why most writers tell you to “keep writing” – this is why we have that 10,000 hours rule of thumb. The more you write, the more familiar you get with your author’s voice… or voices, cos there is no rule that say you can’t have multiple voices (cue Prozac joke here), just as there is no rule that says you can only write in one genre.

So how can you find your author’s voice? Well, you can write, write and then write some more… but there is a way to shortcut it – if you think about it.

Yeah, that’s the trick… think about it. Simply reread some of your stuff, analyze what you’re doing, and pick what sounds most natural. It takes time, sure, but more importantly it takes dedication and the willingness to go through with your crazy ideas (some of which you really need to write down).

And once you find your voice, you’re golden. Because whether you are writing the next bestseller, a query letter, or even a tweet, you will have identified yourself through your writing. I’ll end with this quote from Youtuber and fellow author Garrett Robinson (whose video inspired me to write this post. Highly recommend you checking it out here) who said:

“An author’s voice, once perfected, is more unique to them that their fingerprints.”

May you go forth and write according to the voices in your head,

Ryan Attard

Bio:

Ryan Attard is the author of the Legacy series, The Pandora Chronicles and, as of recently, Evil Plan Inc. When not tormenting his protagonists or ruling over his imaginary worlds, Ryan can be found within the confines of his house on an island far, far away, either geeking out about the latest book or manga chapter he read, or a television show he just finished watching.

He can also be found spewing his opinions and telling terrible jokes on his weekly podcast, The Lurking Voice podcast, which can be found through his website (although if you are easily offended you should definitely not listen).

He is also the kind of person who writes about himself in the third person.

Email: ryanattardauthor@gmail.com

Website: http://ryanattard.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Enkousama

Join the Mailing List and get an exclusive free copy of the Legacy Short Story Collection – 1 novella, 6 short stories and 50K+ words of pure awesome.  Sign up now!

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in November, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#WW Stopping Guest Posts & New Line-Up

23 Sep

Since January of this year, I’ve featured a guest writer every Monday. I was hoping to continue this tradition for at least a year, but with the Christmas season approaching, I’ve been denying articles more than accepting articles (due to the submitted articles mainly being advertisements). That being said, I’ve been very fortunate that so many fantastic and talented writers wanted to write for www.ShannonAThompson.com, and I’ve enjoyed every article shared. I am undeniably grateful that I have been able to meet more writers, speak with them, and share their work. It has been one of my favorite parts of this past year, here on the blogosphere. So, first, a HUGE thank you goes out to all the guest bloggers I’ve featured this past year.

Now, the time has come for a change.

change

I’ve been thinking long and hard about what to turn Monday slots into, and I’ve only recently come to a decision. Next week will be my three-year blogging anniversary. (What? Can you believe it?) This means I have HUNDREDS of blog posts that many of you—especially newer subscribers—have probably never read or seen. In fact, many of my most popular blog posts to this day were posted in 2012, and when readers ask a certain writing question, I almost always have an old article I wrote that I could send them. These pieces mainly include writing tips and marketing tips, so I thought it would be fun to rewrite these posts, update them with new information (and tips), and share them on Mondays. So, if you have an old favorite and you want to hear an updated version, let me know in the comments below. I’ll even tag you as the reader who suggested it.

I hope you’ll enjoy these posts when they start. I am already organizing it now, and I’m looking forward to the change. Of course, I’ll make another announcement when it gets closer, but until then, I am accepting a few more guest posts for October/November, so if you want to be a guest blogger, now is the time to submit at shannonathompson@aol.com. I accept original posts about reading and writing, and you do not have to be published to submit. Best case scenario, if I have enough guest bloggers, I might even continue guest posts and rotate them with revamped posts.

Another option is just having a weekly post where I talk about what movies I’m watching, what music I’m listening to, and what I’m reading, but I figure I sort of do that on Facebook anyway. 🙂

Let me know your thoughts!

~SAT

All three books in The Timely Death Trilogy are now available! The first book is even up for free. For those of you waiting for the paperback of Death Before Daylight, don’t panic! It releases on October 19. Speaking of October 19, you can expect my newsletter to go out then and from now on every month on the 19th.

Teaser from Death Before Daylight shared yesterday

Teaser from Death Before Daylight shared yesterday

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

#MondayBlogs Writing About Real and Imaginary Locations

24 Aug

Intro:

I’m passionate about many things, but writing and traveling top my list, and I find myself combining them all the time. Need a location for a story? Hey, that place I saw last summer would be perfect. Need something more exotic ? Maybe something surreal? Combining and creating comes into play. Today, our guest blogger, Natacha Guyot, is talking about just that.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

#MondayBlogs: Writing About Real and Imaginary Locations

I have loved imagining worlds and stories since I was a kid. I think I was a storyteller even before knowing how to write. From a young age, my passions have been Science Fiction and Fantasy. These remain my favorite genres to read and write. Even my nonfiction projects often focus on these genres.

I wrote my first novella and novel when a teenager. Even during my ten year break from original fiction, I still took notes about new universes. I love world building although my stories most often start with one or more characters when I only have a vague idea of the settings.

I still write about imaginary locations but end of 2014, a shift happened. I started writing a short story collection, which will be the first of a series. It is a Supernatural / Urban Fantasy universe. Most of the events take place in the UK. While all locations in the stories exist, I decided to focus a lot of my characters’ lives in the London area and Oxford. In 2008-2009, I lived in London and it has been my favorite city since then. As for Oxford, I visited it in 2012 for two conferences and fell in love with the place too.

I make sure to look up for some details (without getting lost in them) even for real locations I am familiar with. One of the funniest things about the scenes in London was using Google Maps to check on some streets and places. One character lives near where I used to and I was shocked finding out that my student residence had closed!

Mansfield College in Oxford, where I went to in 2012 for 2 conferences. It inspired my Fae character Dylan's estate in Clairvoyance Chronicles

Mansfield College in Oxford, where I went to in 2012 for 2 conferences. It inspired my Fae character Dylan’s estate in Clairvoyance Chronicles

This experience made me want to write more stories in places I love, regardless of how many Science Fiction and Fantasy universes I’ll keep creating! My home town still has a special place in my heart, so I decided to write a series about vampires taking place there! I am only at the note taking stage now but am excited about “Vampiric Versailles” (very tentative title). I studied in Paris but I am not a big fan of it. I have always preferred Versailles and its direct area. Most tourists come for the palace, but I like its gardens better. I hope to include lesser known parts in my story.

If it wasn’t enough, I am currently developing the early outlines for a YA Fantasy trilogy which will take place in Perigord, where I spent most of my holidays when in high school and a few more years afterwards. I will create imaginary castles that are related to families in my story, but I am looking forward to blend made-up and real places.

What about you? Do you prefer writing imaginary or real places? Do you include a mix of both?

Bio:

Natacha Guyot is a French author, scholar and public speaker. She works on Science Fiction, Transmedia, Gender Studies, Children Media and Fan Studies. She is a feminist, a fangirl, a bookworm, a vidder, a gamer and a cat lover.

Her released titles include Feminist Bloggers: The 2014 Collection (editor), Before Mako Came Yoko: Comparative Study of Pacific Rim and Yoko Tsuno and La Cité de Sharianth. She is currently working on a revised version of A Galaxy of Possibilities: Representation and Storytelling in Star Wars with additional content and other nonfiction titles

She also writes Science Fiction and Fantasy stories.

Connect with her on natachaguyot.org, Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook.

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

Why Genre Hopping is your best friend

27 May

Shannon, here, to announce our last guest blogger. That’s right. Our last. I will be back on May 29, but today is a wonderful day, because Ryan Attard – author of The Legacy Series – is sharing his thoughts on genre hopping, something we both feel very passionately about. Ryan has blogged on here before, so you might be familiar with him, but if you’re not, check out his website and podcast by clicking the links.

This is one of those subjects that gets a bad rep just for daring to go against the dogma, as established by . . . who knows who, and who knows where. Personally, I dislike rules and constraints of any sort – the reason I am an artist is because I wish to express myself in a free manner, and trying to limit art in any way shape or form makes that very difficult. After all most of what we consider rules are nothing more than guidelines that we misunderstood or took too literally.

Case in point is genre-hopping. For most old school authors this is a cardinal sin punishable by artistic death. I fail to see why. From a technical stand point it does make a shred of sense: if you’re just starting out and try writing fifteen different genres at one go your head will implode to the size of a jelly bean. Most likely you’ll end up with fifteen really good idea that are always ‘almost done’.

However I am addressing serious writers, ones who make a commitment (be it themselves or a slave driver – I mean, publisher) to finish their project. If you are that kind of writer then you and I have much to discuss. Genre hopping is your friend, but unlike marketing (who’s the jackass in the corner with the corny jokes) or editing (that anal guy who’s always correcting other), this guy is more like that erratic insane friend whom everyone keeps their distance from until you try engaging with him. And here’s why you should engage with this dude:

Anyone here ever get writer’s block? If your answer is yes, then join the club. Writer’s block is nothing more than your brain going “TAKE A FREAKIN’ BREAK, MAN!”

And how do you take breaks? You do something else, of course. See where I’m going with this? No?

Writing in multiple genres (let’s say 2 or 3, for kitten’s sakes; don’t overcompensate) means that when you get tired of writing, say, your urban fantasy novel, you can always go to your adventure thriller. You are still writing, so you are still productive – you’re just shifting focus. By way of an example I am going to use myself (and shamelessly plug myself in the process). When I was writing Birthright (coming to you in a few months) I was also writing Book 1 of the Pandora Chronicles (coming to you whenever my publisher decides to get a move on). If you’re of a similar mindset as myself, then you’ll easily get bored of the same old, same old. So switch it up – write something else.

And guess what? By the end of it all you won’t have ONE book but TWO. (That’s twice the fans and twice the money just in case you can’t get a hint.)

Now let’s talk marketing. Yeah, I said it: Marketing.

Don’t be afraid of it – it only looks evil. In reality marketing is what puts that story that you worked so hard for in your reader’s hands.

I’m going to get a little technical but stay with me. There are two types of growth in a business: vertical and horizontal.

Vertical growth is when you grow within a level – sort of like building an apartment complex. You get one apartment on top of the other. Horizontal growth is when you build the same ground floor but in different areas.

Let’s translate this into writing markets. Authors usually pick one market and write for that, i.e. JK Rowling is very famous on the fantasy genre for writing the Harry Potter series. That’s a perfect example of vertical growth.

It’s also the easiest in terms of branding. Think about it; it’s easy to establish yourself in one market if you are dedicating all your efforts to that one market. So you get Rowling with fantasy, Keri Arthur with fantasy romance, Rick Riodan with YA mythology-based urban fantasy and Clive Cussler with adventure thrillers. You genre becomes your branding and once this happens it’s nearly impossible to shift to another genre. How many of you can tell me the name of Rowling’s new book? I bet you had to look it up.

For most established (and old-school) writers, genre hopping after you’ve established yourself in a particular market is suicide. It’s like having HP Lovecraft write a historical romance about daisy-picking: that just won’t do (not unless something with teeth and tentacles was involved).

bdedebgfSo does this mean that horizontal growth is better? Not in the least. But it can be smarter if done at the right place, at the right time. Let’s take Jim Butcher as an example. Jim had just begun making a name for himself in the Urban Fantasy market when he released his epic-ish fantasy series. And in recent years, he also released a steampunk series. So why wasn’t the community in uproar? Because he timed it well. He established himself as a multi-genre author whilst growing vertically in his main market, allowing him to expand in multiple genres (markets) at the same time.

One of my favourite podcasts to listen to is the Self-Publishing Podcast. The three hosts, Sean Platt, Johnny B Truant and David Wright, are in full favour of genre-hopping and horizontal growth. According to them (and I fully agree) it wiser to build horizontally and then grow vertically rather than the other way round. To prove their point, they have multiple serials in multiple genres, and only in the past two years have they fully built each and every one of them. Now their library of titles is well over a dozen and that’s what you want as an author.

The idea of a one-hit wonder is not a viable career option. Writing professionally is a hard job: one that requires constant work at improvement and getting more titles out there.

Once again you have to be smart with genre-hopping. Writing in 4 different markets is not the best of ideas. Start with one, and then expand to an adjacent market. That way you get overlap value.

Let’s say you wrote a book for market 1 and later on wrote another book for market 2. When you decide to write another book for market 1, you won’t only get people from that market but also a few from market 2 who are just curious about your work. Those are your true fans.

In my opinion this is one of the best strategies you can use to sustain a long term career. Sure it’ll take you five years instead of two to fully stabilize your roots, but once you do, it’ll be very hard for you not to make it. If you’re concerned with name branding, just use a pen name of an abbreviation like Johanna Penn does. Same author, different pen name, different market; problem solved.

The worst thing that can happen to an established author is to finish their series and then sit on their ass twirling their thumbs. However, when you’ve spread your roots on a wide area, you can always wrap something up and move on to the next project.

After all a writer writes – period. Genre, word count, language – these are all frosting to a cake. So if it doesn’t matter, why bother with it? You’re a writer and an artist. Write what you want to write, in whichever way you want to write it, and power to ya, baby.

– Ryan Attard

Interactive Book Reviews for Readers and Authors

17 May

Shannon, here, for an announcement. Minutes Before Sunset was featured on Friday Fiction. You can read an 1,000 word excerpt by clicking here. The scene happens between Jessica and Eric, and it’s from a chapter told from Jessica’s perspective.

Now an introduction. Pau Castillo from Pau’s Castles has written a wonderful post about her technique behind her interactive book reviews. I believe this post is great for readers and authors, especially book bloggers who might be considering a new aspect to add to their websites. Using her interactive method allows readers to be both entertained and engaged while reading and reviewing. As an author, I highly recommend her reviews – but check her out for yourself. She’s stellar! Thank you for blogging here today, Pau.

Good day to all avid followers and readers of the lovely author, Shannon A. Thompson! My name is Pau, a 20-year-old blogger from the Philippines and I’m here to share you how I do my book reviews.

Before, I used to think the way I do my reviews is… quite typical. Or rather, I’ve never thought highly of it. I thought it was just right to do the things I do but, apparently, I’ve gotten some praises from other authors because of it. They appreciated my “notes for authors”.

So what are notes for authors? 

Well, as the phrase claims, it’s my portion of my review post that contains my notes for authors. Usually, it contains spoilers. Lots and lots of spoilers. Which is why it’s usually just for authors and not readers most especially if they haven’t read the book yet.

screenshot.jpeg

Here’s a screenshot of my notes portion from my review for Shannon’s Seconds Before Sunrise.

notebook

This photo is a photo I tweeted to Shannon to show her my current notes progress for her book. I was barely halfway and I had these much thoughts already! The notes jotted down here can be as random as “Oh gosh Eric is a lovely character! Can I marry him?”

The notes portion basically contains my thoughts as I read the novel. Usually, I take note of the pace, character development, plot development, plot twists, fan-girl moments (especially when I’m crushing over a character. In Seconds Before Sunrise‘s case, Eric Welborn) and, sometimes, grammar and redundancies. English is not exactly my first language so grammar is not usually something I deeply look into. As for ARCs, I also take note of possible typographical errors.

jas

Here’s a screen cap of Jasmine Carolina’s comment about my review. I greatly appreciated this one because, although I became a little technical with my notes, she still loved the review. Jasmine Carolina recently published her first novel called Losing Me, the first book of a trilogy. It was a great novel!

sat

Lastly, other than the notebook author notes, I also tend to live tweet to authors (with minimal or no spoilers at all) while reading their works. I personally like them to feel my actual emotions at the very moment I’m feeling them. Shannon and another author named Amber Skye Forbes (author of When Stars Die) loved the live updates.

Personal tip and conclusion

So basically, that’s it! For attempting book bloggers out there, you might want to consider jotting down your thoughts while reading a book and if you have a twitter account, you might want to live-update as well. It gives the authors the satisfaction and joy of knowing how we, the readers, truly felt while reading something they’ve surely worked hard on.

Thank you for reading!

——-

More about the blogger

Photo from Pau’s Castles

Photo from Pau’s Castles

Pau is a 20-year-old blogger from the Philippines. Her blog is mostly filled with book reviews but, once in a while, she inserts some random stuff like her life as a media student, the places she discovered, and the restaurants / food stalls that forever scarred her taste buds… in a good way. She is currently a fourth year college student taking up Advertising which is a course commonly known as a zombie virus in the world of her school. During her free time, she is mostly stuck with a book or attempting to be an artist by doing calligraphy.

You can contact her via:

Twitter: @pauscastles

Instagram: @pauscastles

Blog: http://pauscastles.wordpress.com

Email: pauscastles@gmail.com

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