Tag Archives: high school bullying

#MondayBlogs The Worst Thing A Reader Ever Said To Me

2 May

I can admit the worst thing a reader ever wrote to me. It was 2007, I was 16, my publisher at the time had released my first novel, and Honesty Box was the hottest app on Facebook. My high school self was naïve enough to have one of these, and one day, I found myself staring at this. Message:

“You are the bastardization of the English language.”

honesty-boxI’ve tried not to think about this message often. In fact, I confess I’ve tried to completely cut it out of my memory—especially since I think it had more to do with high school bullying than anything notable—but the most common type of bullying I faced for writing a book in high school followed this script:

A fellow student would say, “Go write a book.”

Normally, I never responded, but sometimes I snapped and stupidly said, “I already did.”

Which almost always got, “Now, go write a good one.”

Perhaps, this affected me more than I would like to admit. A few months later, when I ran into issues with my publisher, I didn’t fight it much, and in turn, my book was taken off of the market. I can’t say I minded much. I think I was a little relieved. That’s probably why seven years passed between my first and second publication. Now that I’m 24, my coping skills have definitely grown.

Writers always get responses—both good and bad—and some days are more uplifting than others. Some days are even downright hilarious. Not in the mocking way, of course, but in the this-reader-could-be-my-best-friend sort of way. Some days, readers make your day, and other days, a reader’s comment inspires your next piece of work. Sometimes, they teach you by pointing out levels of confusion or confliction, and other times, they talk about how your work taught them something about life. The combination is a beautiful thing.

I have plenty of stories I wish I could tell you about all of the wonderful readers who have reviewed my novels, shared quotes, tweeted encouraging messages, and sent me an email just to explain their emotions, but the important part is how the uplifting readers always overcome the negative ones. I could share hundreds, but I would like to share a few to show types:

The Encouraging Reader

12657850_982614665119048_4239343172506995978_oMeagan from The Book Forums recently read an exclusive sneak peek of my upcoming duology, Bad Bloods, and she took the time to e-mail an encouraging message about how excited she is about November Rain and November Snow. I cannot begin to explain how much these moments mean to me. Releasing work—no matter how many times you’ve done it—is nerve-wracking, and in the end, all we want to do is release a story readers will enjoy. To hear they enjoyed it, is priceless. To connect and talk to readers as friends is the best part of the gig. Joking about my own work with someone is surreal. The friendship between a reader and an author is unlike any other type of friendship I’ve ever had, but it brings me just as much love, comfort, and joy.

The Confused Reader That Brings Laughter To My Laugh:

I want to clarify that this is not condescending laughter. This is more like a friend, even if the reader never knows it. I actually enjoy moments where readers have pointed out confusion or mislabeled something because it’s often something I (and many editors) overlooked. My favorite example came from numerous readers over Take Me Tomorrow. (I know. I know. That book isn’t available any longer, but I promise I’m working on it!) This reader story is still priceless. A few readers have compared the dictator, Wheston Phelps to Michael Phelps—the Olympic swimmer—instead of who I intended—Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church—and I’ve had a great giggle over that image-switch. If you’re one of the readers who thought of Michael Phelps instead of Fred, please don’t worry! I had a great giggle, and I feel like it’s more of an inside joke than anything else. Also, more people thought of Michael than Fred. (A handshake goes out to Just Another Girl and Her Books who pointed out many topics, including Fred Phelps, that went overlooked in Take Me Tomorrow. If you’re curious what the sequels might show, this review definitely foreshadows a lot of it. And, of course, Take Me Yesterday is complete. I plan on editing it and then working on Take Me Never ASAP.)

The Critical Reader

Of course, sometimes the negative can help me take a step back and laugh at myself. In fact, these have begun to remind me of my initial editing process. The clearest example I can think of was when my first editor for Seconds Before Sunrise was going through the first chapter and saw, “Robb grabbed his plaid sh*t” instead of his shirt. Yep. That editing mistake happened. That’s embarrassing. And—trust me—I will never, EVER make that mistake again. Every time I write the word shirt I will cringe. (And then, I will laugh uncontrollably). Thank the publishing gods it was caught during the editing process.

Me as a Reader

I am a reader, too, and while I’m not everyone’s reader, my day is made when I tweet to an author and they actually tweet back to me. This recently happened to me with one of my all-time favorite authors, Cassandra Clare. We even spoke about it person when I went to event later that week. My life was complete. No matter how many readers authors come in contact with, I think we find ourselves in their reviews, but more importantly, we connect with friends.

cassandra

To think that I might be able to bring joy to a reader in the way Cassandra Clare brought joy to me, fills me with a lot of hope and understanding that I didn’t have when I was 16.

I am very grateful for all the readers who have helped me grow since then, and I continue to love my readers more than anything else. It’s also nice to have reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble instead of Honesty Box.

Original posted February 18, 2015

~SAT

Pre-Order Bad Bloods today!

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#WW Bullies and Their Writers

14 Oct

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and Clean Teen Publishing participates by hosting giveaways and sharing posts about bullying. This is my story.

october-is-national-bullying-prevention-month

I was twenty-one and out on the town with a friend one evening—a rare event for an introverted writer and cat lady, such as myself—when I found myself on a bar’s balcony. My fourth novel had just released less than a month ago, so perhaps that was why I allowed myself to leave my writing cave for some fresh air. I never expected to run into her. A bully from my high school days, my days when my first novel released. She was there, standing on the same bar balcony as me, a girl I hadn’t seen since graduation day (which was only a few years ago at that point), but she was doing more than that. She was talking to me.

It took me a moment to realize she was talking to me. And not just that. She was smiling at me.

I thought the Matrix had a glitch. This girl used to laugh at me. Now, she looked prepared to laugh with me. There was no acknowledgment of our history, and I was so dumbfounded I simply stood there and listened to her ramble on and on about her life.

She had gone to college, dropped out, taken time to think, and now she was going back. She wanted to be a writer, maybe even a poet, but she wasn’t sure how to go about it.

She wanted my help.

In fact, she went on to quote a few of my blog posts and other articles. My blog. My writings. My tips and tricks. She had read hundreds of thousands of my words, and I was the one that was now speechless.

Here was this girl who used to tell me to “go write a book” whenever we passed one another, a trap I almost I always fell into by replying, “I already did.” Of course she’d then get to say the hurtful part. “Now go write a good one.”

Quite a few others picked it up, so it’s a phrase I’ll never forget.

Now, I’ll never forget the way she asked for my help.

Bullying is a complicated, distressing topic. It is disheartening, crushing, and sometimes—oddly—empowering. Now, I’m not giving bullies any credit or saying it’s okay to be one—it’s not—but I know, in my instance, they pushed me to prove them wrong, to write better, to get somewhere faster. And when I got somewhere, I learned from the bullies themselves why they did what they did. Most didn’t have the support at home to do what they wanted to do—which was the same thing I was doing (writing)—and they lashed out at me because of it.

I could’ve told that girl off. I could’ve ignored her or laughed at her or had her send me some poems and then told her to go write a good one. But I didn’t.

I helped her by handing her my business card and answering a lot of her initial questions about the publishing process.

She was one of my many bullies. Now, she is a fellow writer, trying to follow a dream, and I’m sure she has run into a bully trying to stop her from succeeding. We all have. But I often wonder how different her life would’ve been if she had simply approached me back then and asked those questions. She may not have had the support at home or from her friends, but I would’ve supported her dreams, and I would’ve introduced her to more people who supported her dreams. Alas, we make decisions, and they aren’t always the best, most logical ones.

I’ve never judged my bullies, even the ones who made fun of me when my mother died. A fact I still can’t wrap my mind around completely. But many bullies come from broken homes. I did, too. When my mom suddenly died, I was eleven, and naturally lashing out, I did quite a few mean and awful things as a preteen that I cannot take back. I sometimes wonder if I am the bully in someone else’s memories, if I have ever walked up to them and smiled and asked them how their lives are going, and not even realized who I was to them. Maybe that is the worst part of bullying. The perspective. The timing. The complications around such emotions. But maybe, just maybe, if we talked about it more, if we helped both sides of the equation, we could understand that we are all human and we could prevent more situations where feelings were hurt and dreams were lost.

We could help one another achieve greatness.

~SAT

I first want to thank Black Words White Pages for writing a review for every book in The Timely Death Trilogy. Read all three reviews here, and check out this quote about Death Before Daylight, book 3: “Wow, what a shocking story!! So many things happened in this story that I was not expecting!! This author has really outdone herself with this story…This author not only gets a five star review from me but a standing ovation for her incredible writing style. I will be keeping my eye out for more from this awesome author.”

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Blood Orange Pu-reh

Blood Orange Pu-reh

The paperback of Death Before Daylight releases on October 19! Two days later, on October 21, you can come see me at Headrush Coffee and Tea Roasters in Kansas City, Missouri for a paranormal talk and book signing. I was just up there the other day, and they had me try their blood orange pu-reh tea. It was amazing.

In other news, a few of you have asked me about my services since NaNoWriMo is about to take place. I am taking on new clients as soon as I get back into town today, so please feel free to email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. Since I haven’t shared/updated in a while, I thought I’d share some recent books I’ve worked with. You’ll now find them on my Services page and my Reviews page.

Most recent books I've worked with.

Most recent books I’ve worked with.

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylight: book 3

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

#WW The Reader’s Reaction

18 Feb

#WW The Reader’s Reaction:

I can admit the worst thing a reader ever wrote to me. It was 2007, I was 16, Golden Eagle Publishing had released my first novel, and Honesty Box was the hottest app on Facebook. My high school self was naïve enough to have one of these, and one day, I found myself staring at the message, “you are the bastardization of the English language.”

::blink blink::

I’ve tried not to think about this message often. In fact, I confess I’ve tried to completely kick it out of my mind – especially since I think it had more to do with high school bullying than anything notable. But the most common type of bullying I faced for writing a book in high school followed this script:

honesty-boxA fellow student would say, “Go write a book.”

Normally, I never responded, but sometimes I snapped and stupidly said, “I already did.”

Which almost always got, “Now, go write a good one.”

::sigh::

Perhaps, this affected me more than I would like to admit. A few months later, when I ran into issues with my publisher, I didn’t fight it much, and in turn, November Snow was taken off of the market. I can’t say I minded much. I think I was a little relieved. That’s probably why seven years passed between my first and second publication. Now that I’m 23, my coping skills have definitely grown.

Writers always get responses – both good and bad – and some days are more uplifting than others. Some days are even downright hilarious. Not in the mocking way, of course, but in the this-reader-could-be-my-best-friend sort of way. Some days, readers make your day, and other days, a reader’s comment inspires your next piece of work. Sometimes, they teach you by pointing out levels of confusion or confliction, and other times, they talk about how your work taught them something about life. The combination is a beautiful thing.

I have plenty of stories I wish I could tell you about all of the wonderful readers who have reviewed my novels, shared quotes, tweeted encouraging messages, and sent me an email just to explain their emotions – but the important part is how the uplifting readers always overcome the negative ones. I could share hundreds, but I would like to share a few to show types:

The Encouraging Reader:

Pau from Pau’s Castles recently read Death Before Daylight. In fact, she’s read all three books of The Timely Death Trilogy, and she even took the time to review them – and she goes even further. She LIVE tweeted to me about everything – her reactions, her jokes, her emotions (including how she squealed in the middle of class while reading), and her overall encouragement. Readers – WOW – you all make my entire life when you do this. I cannot begin to explain how delighted I feel when I am able to talk to readers and connect with them as friends. Joking about my own work with someone is surreal. The friendship between a reader and an author is unlike any other type of friendship I’ve ever had, but it brings me just as much love, comfort, and joy.

pau1

The Confused Reader that brings laughter into my overly serious writing life:

I want to clarify that this is not condescending laughter. This is more like a friend, even if the reader never knows it. I actually enjoy moments where readers have pointed out confusion or mislabeled something because it’s often something I (and many editors) overlooked. My most recent example came from numerous readers over Take Me Tomorrow. A few readers have compared the dictator, Wheston Phelps to Michael Phelps – the Olympic swimmer – instead of who I intended – Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church – and I’ve had a great giggle over that image-switch. If you’re one of the readers who thought of Michael Phelps instead of Fred, please don’t worry! I had a great giggle, and I feel like it’s more of an inside joke than anything else. Also, more people thought of Michael than Fred. (A handshake goes out to Just Another Girl and Her Books who pointed out many topics, including Fred Phelps, that went overlooked in Take Me Tomorrow. If you’re curious what the sequels might show, this review definitely foreshadows a lot of it).

The Critical Reader

And sometimes the negative can help me take a step back and laugh at myself. In fact, these have begun to remind me of my initial editing process. The clearest example I can think of was when my editor for Seconds Before Sunrise was going through the first chapter and saw, “Robb grabbed his plaid sh*t” instead of his shirt. Yep. That editing mistake happened. That’s embarrassing. And – trust me – I will never, EVER make that mistake again. Every time I write the word “shirt”, I will cringe. (And then, I will laugh uncontrollably).

Me as a Reader

I am a reader, too, and while I’m not everyone’s reader, my day is made when I tweet to an author and they actually tweet back to me. This recently happened to me when I sent a message to Stephen Collins, the graphic novelist of The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil. (Read it if you haven’t by the way)! It was literal Christmas for me.

Stephen

No matter how many readers authors come in contact with, I think we can find ourselves in their reviews, but more importantly, we connect with friends. To think that I might be able to bring joy to a reader in the way Stephen Collins brought joy to me, fills me with a lot of hope and understanding that I didn’t have when I was 16. I am very grateful for all the readers who have helped me grow since then, and I continue to love my readers more than anything else. It’s also nice to have reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble instead of Honesty Box.

~SAT

A big shout-out goes out to Charles E. Yallowitz for posting my guest article – Balancing the Editor’s Life with an Author’s Dream – on Legends of Windemere. Check his website out by clicking the link! In my article, I discuss balancing my life as an editor and an author, and I hope you enjoy the read.

I also want to give a gigantic shout-out to JK and CK from House Kelley! About one month ago, this wonderful couple guided me to Clean Teen Publishing, and I thank them for their guidance. Check their writing out, say hi, give them a big hug, and write with them. They are fantastic.

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