Tag Archives: inspiration

#SATurday: The Lesson of Macaroni and Cheese

14 Feb

#SATurday: The Lesson of Macaroni and Cheese

When I was little, my mother was making me Macaroni and Cheese – something I continue to love to this day – and I was horrified when she poured it down the sink right in front of me. Of course, that isn’t what she had actually done. In reality, she had poured it into a strainer I couldn’t see from my position near the kitchen’s island. But I still screamed.

I started crying uncontrollably. I was starving (at least, I was starving in my kid mind), and she had just made food for me only to throw it away. As my five-year-old self began crying out my explanation (because she had asked when I was so upset), she began laughing uncontrollably. Now – in my tiny dramatic brain – she was laughing in my face. Of course, she hadn’t thrown out my food, but I think my panic surprised her so much she had no other way to react. Because she couldn’t stop laughing, she actually had to pick up the strainer to show me that my food was fine. After that, we were both laughing.

It might seem strange – and perhaps, it is – but this memory is one of my fondest memories I have of my late mother. Probably because she later taught me how to cook Macaroni and Cheese before she died, but I mainly love this memory because we were doing something together.

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I only had eleven years with my mom, many of which I don’t remember, and she was often too ill to do much, so my memories with her are fleeting – probably unmemorable to the kid who gets a lifetime with a mom – but then again, maybe not. I guess I’ll never know, but I do think about aspects of my life like this a lot, and I’m very grateful for even the tiniest moments because even the tiniest moments last a lifetime. Her lessons have stayed with me, after all.

Let’s take this memory for example. When she started cooking, I was really excited, and then, when she “poured it down the sink”, I was crushed, but then, I realized it was not what it seemed, and everything was fine. In fact, I was one step closer to eating, and I got to laugh so hard it stuck with me for life.

On my bad days, I try to remember Macaroni and Cheese. Aside from the pasta being possibly the best comfort food in the world – no exaggeration – I think there is a lot to learn from the lesson of the strainer. When everything appears to be going down the sink, so to speak, maybe it’s only being strained of all the bad stuff so you can move on to the best part – eating. And I do love eating.

We’re only getting closer to enjoying it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh along the way.

~SAT

TTSP.S. I am taking on more clients who need book reviews, interviews, and editing! I provide the first chapter’s edit for free. If you’re interested, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

In the meantime, check out Tiger Tail Soup by Nicki Chen. This historical novel was inspired by true tales about the Japanese occupation, and I recommend it to readers who enjoy historical fiction, literary fiction, and women’s fiction like The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.

#WW The Greatest Conversation All Authors Have

4 Feb

Please donate if you can – I am hoping The Timely Death Trilogy can get new covers so that they can appeal to new audiences! You will also receive a personalized picture of Bogart the cat, and I will mention you right here on ShannonAThompson.com if you want your website shared. :] Just click the link and check your email! Thank you so much for your continuous support!

#WW: The Greatest Conversation All Authors Have

I don’t go out in public often. I like to believe this isn’t uncommon in the world of authorship. Even if authors have free time, it generally becomes devoted to typing away fantasies on our laptops. Because of this, I am home. A lot. Or in a café. By myself. (Free Wi-Fi, right?)

But every now and then, a friend is having a going away party or a birthday party or a graduation party or some other kind of get-together celebration I find myself attending. And yes, I’m the cliché chick in the corner, not talking to anyone, who oddly attracts someone’s curious attention as to why I’m standing in the corner. “People watching” is my go-to answer, but eventually, the question “what do you do?” comes up, and all hell breaks lose.

Yes. Yes. I’m an author. Now, let’s chat about it.

My party depiction

My party depiction

When you say, “That should be your next book.”

This sentence generally comes up when you’ve heard an interesting story – possibly on the news, from a friend, or…in a book. The fact that it already exists should hint that I can’t write it, but I’ll probably just say, “Yeah.”

When you continue with, “I should be in that book – your next book, right?”

No. Please, no. I’ll only offend you – either by detailed descriptions or impending doom. That’s honestly the only thing I could do with you (probably because I just met you, so I don’t know enough to truly base a character off of you, even if I wanted to). But I’ll probably just say, “If you don’t mind dying.” Sometimes – and these moments are rare due to my collection of odd character names – I already have a novel with your name in it.

That’s when you ask, “You already have a character in your book named after me?”

Well, no. Not technically. You two share the same name. Kind of like the barista that shares your mother’s name on her nametag. Doesn’t mean they’re the same person. Or based off of one another. It just means Laura was a popular name that summer.

When you ask, “Do I die?”

::sigh:: Again, the character is not you. They’re not based on you. They…Never mind. I’ll say, “Probably.”

When you reply, “You suck.” Followed by sarcastic laughter.

I say, “I know.” Followed by sarcastic laughter.

When you continue with, “Why do authors always have to kill off characters? And it’s always my favorite characters, too. I mean, they kill villains all the time, but I kind of like the villains…”

I might cut you off because I love, love, love talking about my undying love for villains, but if I fail – which I probably will – I’ll probably just nod in agreement. Authors know they’re terrible. We create imaginary friends for you to love and cherish, only to take them away. But it’s necessary. If nothing happened to any of the characters, then…well, you wouldn’t have a bunch of stories to talk about. Libraries would be collections of happy, non-dramatic anthologies of extraneous giddiness.

In the end, when you say, “This has been an awesome conversation.”

You know what? It has been. Thanks for chatting with me. Even if I held back, it was mainly out of my own…well, chaotic confusion I’ve built up in my own mind. You probably wouldn’t have been offended if I killed your character off, but I came up with that scenario because…well, authors spend a lot of time in their own heads imagining the next scene. This often bleeds over into real life, which causes those awkward pauses I’m extremely sorry for. I’m simply thinking too much. But if it’s any compensation, I was probably concocting my next novel from whatever you just said – so, in a way, you are in my next book.

Thanks for talking with me.

I mean it.

~SAT

Please donate if you can – I am hoping The Timely Death Trilogy can get new covers so that they can appeal to new audiences! You will also receive a personalized picture of Bogart the cat, and I will mention you right here on ShannonAThompson.com if you want your website shared. :] Just click the link and check your email! Thank you so much for your continuous support!

Website Wonders

1 Apr

Welcome to April! Before I share those websites for writers, readers, and dreamers that I have collected in the last two months, I have two wonderful bits of new to share with you all.

Tranquil Dreams reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, but they also reviewed The City of Worms by Roy Huff, so you can check out two novels at once. “This novel sets the stage for the battle of Light and Dark and honestly, for the first time in my life, I’m behind the Dark.  I look forward to reading the next one a lot.” Find out why Tranquil Dreams said, “I totally recommend this one!” by clicking here

After checking that out, swing by my latest interview by clicking here. Mental Cheesecake asked me if I would prefer the powers of the Light or the Dark, what inspired the covers of The Timely Death Trilogy, and if I like Jace or Simon more in The Mortal Instruments.

Now – the website wonders: 

I wasn’t able to do this in February, so I’m including both February’s and March’s here. Below, the websites are organized by categories, including Great Reads, Business Help for Writers, Art Related to Books, Book-to-Movie Trailers, and Inspiration. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Great Reads:

14 year-old’s clever poem knocks Twitter backwards: I love this. Not only is it a great poem, but it’s relevant to today’s culture. It also shows off the great abilities of this young poet.

This Comic About Love Will Touch Your Heart: I thought this comic was a cute read. It sparked some debate among readers due to the subject matter of a breakup and a new relationship, but I think – if read for simple entertainment (which is what I think it was designed for) – it’s cute, sweet, and fun.

40 Freaking Creepy Ass Two Sentence Stories: I love horror. (American Horror Story is practically the only show I watch.) And these short stories gave me chills! You’ve been warned.

Business Help for Writers:

Amazon’s history should teach us to beware ‘friendly’ internet giants: As much as I love Amazon, I am afraid of any company gaining from a monopolized market. This article deals with the warnings of how this might be a future possibility and how we can prevent it.

8 Ways to be a Better Facebook Page Admin: This is great advice for anyone struggling with their business Facebook page. I used it, and my Facebook Page has been my number two referrer to my website (after search engines) for two months in a row.

A Facebook Change Authors Need to Know About: Again, this article is amazing. It will help enhance your views on your Facebook page.

Inside Amtrak’s (Absolutely Awesome) Plan to Give Free Rides to Writers: Amtrak called for writers to submit to this program, and I turned in my application a few days ago! It would be an unbelievable dream come true for them to pick me, but I hope the writers they pick enjoy it for all of us! I can’t wait to read what others write, even if I’m not chosen to travel in their program.

 Nine Writers And Publicists Tell All About Readings And Book Tours: I loved this because it shows the realities of what goes on behind the scenes, even for the most popular writers. A few years ago, I think it would be taboo for authors to share their true emotions about their dream profession, but it’s nice to see the acceptability of speaking truthfully about an author’s life.

Wait. A first person narrative isn’t serious???: By Nathan Bransford, I actually wrote a response to this article on my blog called It’s All About Perspective…Or Is It?. I loved what Bransford had to say about this narrative style because he proves how serious it can be, and I think it ultimately shows how much the industry is changing.

Art Related to Books:

Design Stack: Paper Jewelry: I thought these were beautiful, and they also made me wonder what my novel would be carved into. I would like to believe a tree necklace or a yin-yang symbol.

23 Epic Literary Love Tattoos: One of my favorite poems is in this collection of literary tattoos. I don’t have any tattoos, but I like looking at them. I find them to be quite inspirational.

Mind-Blowing LEGO Recreation of LOTR’s Helm’s Deep Battle: I grew up with LEGOS. I was crazy about LEGOS. My brother was worse than me. It wasn’t rare for one of my parents to step on our array of LEGOS. (We even had a LEGO camera) So I loved this LEGO town designed around Lord of the Rings.

Book-to-Movie Trailers:

The Giver Trailer: Meryl Streep Vs. Taylor Swift: I was so looking forward to The Giver movie adaptation (which I mentioned in my blog post 2014 Books to Movies, but this doesn’t even look close. Not even a little bit. Flying space ships? Oh, the nervous feelings I have. My heart might break for one of my favorite novels this August.

The Maze Runner (Official Trailer): Unlike The Giver, I am looking forward to this adaptation now that I’ve seen the trailer. It looks awesome.

Inspiration:

25 Romantic Words That Don’t Exist in English But Should: I find untranslatable words to be beautifully mysterious – like the gorgeous stranger you wish you had talked to that one night. (There’s probably a word in this list for that.)

24 Most Terrifying and Haunted Places You’d Never Want To Be In: Like I said, I’m a horror fan. This sort of stuff gets my heart going, and my heart gets my inspiration going.

Mugshots of Poets: I found this to be inspirational because it shows – again – the realities of some of the most famous writers of all time. Jack Kerouac is definitely in this list. (He’s one of my favorite authors of all time.)

Children Read To Shelter Cats To Soothe Them: I love cats. I love reading. This was amazing.

Again, I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did! I apologize for not sharing them in February, too, but I will share more. I always share these on my author Facebook page, so join me there. I can’t wait until my next blog post! I have exciting news coming. April is going to be an adventure.

~SAT

Help: I’ve Returned to an Old Piece of Writing, and I Can See Influences From My Past

20 Feb

Recently, I have truly enjoyed writing up my personal posts instead of focusing on writing or publishing tips. Sharing my story opened up a channel for me to hear your stories, and it was really nice getting to know more of you on a deeper level. If I continue this in the future, I hope to hear more from others. If you have an idea of a topic – any topic really – you can always comment below and suggest one. I will even credit your blog as the inspiration for the post. No matter what, thank you for reading and commenting. 

Today, though, I wanted to talk about a topic that is very much a personal twist on the writing spectrum. Yes, writing is always personal to the writer, but I wanted to discuss how certain writings can be influenced by a particular time in your life and/or how it can affect the writing process when you return to it later. The reason for this is simple: I’m currently going through it, and I wanted to talk about it in the hopes of reaching out to other artists who have experienced the same range of emotions I have,which include confusion, guilt, acceptance, and understanding.

If you follow my interviews, then you know I am already planning for which one of my novels will be published after Seconds Before Sunrise. (But I hope you’ll take a moment to check out Seconds Before Sunrise by clicking here.) Although readers might be expecting Death Before Daylight, I am moving towards publishing a new novel altogether before the last book of the trilogy. From this point on, I will be referring to this new novel as TMT.

When I went back to edit TMT, I found some surprises I wasn’t expecting:

There are some heavy influences that I could not see before. When I was originally writing it, I was in my freshman year of college. At the time, I could not see any correlations with my life in my science-fiction world. Now that I’ve been removed from the novel for a few years, I can interpret it more clearly. I can see old acquaintances in the characters. I can hear dialogue that sounds like a stranger I met. I can see where I mixed a scene together by blending a field by my dorm room and a forest by my old house. I can see my husky, Shadow, in the dog the protagonist cherishes.

This is Shadow - my buddy. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us, but he loved snow just as much as me.

This is Shadow – my buddy. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us, but he loved snow just as much as I do. (Probably more, of course.)

This was all unexpected, and – if I may be bold – difficult in many areas, because it brings up a lot of old memories I have since let go in one way or another. I believe this is a struggle many artists may face at one time or another. When we write in present time, we might not realize we have placed our friend in a novel as a protagonist’s cousin. Years later, after we’ve had a falling out with that friend, it is a struggle to return to the novel’s mindset where you must love that “cousin” you can now see was someone very real and dear to you but no longer is.

But it’s okay. There are many ways to accept these moments. They aren’t all bad. In fact, I would say most of it isn’t bad. As my posts normally go, I repetitively say, “It’s all about attitude.”

When you return to these older works, hoping to make them better, you can accept where the influences come from for what they are. Just accept them, and dive into it with the same passion you have today. Eventually, I have noticed that I am adding more influence from my current life into TMT, instead of letting my past life define it. It’s an interesting area to explore, because it’s the blending of me – my past, my present, and my future – and it brings a sense of serene acceptance.

Here are three thoughts that helped me through this:

A. Be prepared to feel this way. There’s nothing to be guilty or ashamed or feel any weirdness about. It’s natural. Think of it this way, it would be impossible to go sit in your high school parking lot without remembering a few times you were there. Art can be the same way. If you wrote it five years ago, don’t be surprised if memories from five years ago sneak up. It’s okay. Enjoy it, and change it if you want to.

B. You’re an artist – it’s bound to happen. You are inspired by life, after all.

C. If you are disturbed or upset, that’s okay, too. Put the writing down. Try not to be hard on yourself about it. The past isn’t always a place people are comfortable with. Write something new!

I actually asked about this topic on my Facebook Author Page, “Have you ever associated your novel (or a book that your have read) with a certain time in your life? If so, when you go back to edit it and/or reread it, have you seen influences you didn’t see before? Is this easy or difficult to comprehend and how do you think it affects the writing and/or reading process?”

Join me on FB, and your responses might be used next!

Join me on FB, and your responses might be used next!

Here are two fantastic answers,

The J. Aurel Guay Archive: “I wrote half a novel during a very transitional time of life. I set it down for several years and when I came back to it, I couldn’t find the motivation to finish it because I had progressed through that stage. I will finish it eventually, but it will change fundamentally as they open questions on which the novel turns have been answered in my life. I just can’t write it from the same frame of reference anymore. You can find a snippet here.”

Tanya Taimanglo: “My romantic comedy, Secret Shopper was cathartic for me. It resembles so much of my life, although I insist it’s fiction. (It is). The death of my father, elements of a bad break up and finding real love made its way onto the page. It was written years ago, and when I do reread it, I cringe at how much truth I allowed out there and I’m reminded of how much growth I’ve made. In some ways, it’s like a journal I’ve made public. I can’t undo it, just embrace its truth and move on.”

What about you? Have you ever returned to a writing and saw past influences you didn’t see at the time of writing it? How did you cope with it?

~SAT

Guest Post: Tanya Taimanglo

27 Nov

Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it.

Bob Dylan

            This morning, as I took my children to school, I went through a mental ‘to do’ list for the day. That included mundane tasks like laundry and planning dinner, and indulgent things like watching the latest episode of The Talking Dead and buying a mocha. Nothing necessarily inspiring.

After my children were safely in school, I walked back to my car. It was fifty degrees out with the sun hidden by clouds, typical for Washington State. The crossing guard lady nearly had her toes run over by a late, overzealous parent who hopped the curb with her car, then hopped back off as she rushed to drive her child to school on time. So, this little encounter made me really look at the crossing guard. I had seen her many times but never gave her a second thought. Today, it was different. She was suddenly on my radar and then my writer brain kicked in. I observed that she took the nearly getting her toes smashed by a bad driver in stride. I joked, “Maybe the school needs to issue you steel toe boots.” She laughed. I laughed. Then she stopped traffic for me so I could be on my way. That’s when I scanned her one last time. She looked about twenty years older than me. She was a volunteer, perhaps with a grandchild here, I mused. And the final bit that I noted was she was sipping the last of her iced coffee. As I sat in my car, I wondered why she would drink ice coffee as my teeth chattered and my fingers were numb. My conclusion. She is an alien and thrives in the cold.

Secret_Shopper_Cover_for_Kindle_(1)The point of the above example is that inspiration can come from anywhere. But, I find the best tidbits arrive when I have disconnected from the computer and television and carry on with my real life.

Will the ice coffee-crossing-guard-alien ever be the main character of a full fledged novel of mine? Maybe not, but an echo of her may have a minor role one day.

It’s easy to be inspired by a great movie or song. I mean, I’m currently inspired to drop a few pounds by that car commercial featuring hamsters getting sexy to a Lady Gaga song. That’s the nature of entertainment. Even the news is devised to make us feel something, good or bad.

I’d like to think my life is an ongoing movie with awesome songs on an ever changing soundtrack (currently it’s anything by King the Kid); but my life is just a busy mess of being a Navy wife, mom of two elementary age kids and domestic goddess. And, to top it off, I’m an indie writer who is currently participating in NaNoWriMo, 50,000 words in 30 days? Yes, it’s my second time taking the challenge.

Shannon, the gracious host of this post, entered my radar because she was interviewed by a fellow author, Jackson Baer. I took the time to read about her, as I do out of loyalty because Jackson once took the time to feature me on his blog. I like how things like this come full circle, all Lion King and stuff. But, I liked Shannon’s page a few months ago, and needing a break from NaNoWriMo, came across Shannon’s challenge. What inspires you?

This is what I wrote to her to snag her attention.

I find inspiration by disconnecting for a moment from Facebook, Twitter, email, TV, etc. and just observing. It could be something as simple as an exchange between a mother and child, a glance between lovers or a flash of anger on a stranger’s face. The world around me without the filter of the internet is a great source of inspiration.

I find inspiration from people—watching people, dipping my ear into their conversations, analyzing their body language and reactions. I’m introverted by nature, with social tendencies. So, I’m the ideal watcher. I observe, I absorb. I translate.

I also find inspiration when my mind is not bombarded by the media. When I give myself the opportunity to think without all that noise, without someone else interpreting data for me, magic sometimes happens. I want to extract my own flavors from life. A long drive does it for me. A long walk. A long shower without my children creeping about trying to get in the bathroom with me.

When I disconnect, I reconnect with myself and tap into that fire within. Metaphors and similes on life and situations start gelling for me. And, I jot it down.

I guess a writer’s mind requires a disconnect if we are to find our own voice. It’s true that one writer’s writing style may echo another. My romantic comedy, Secret Shopper, has been described as “Bridget Jones” replacing a British character with a Guam one. I don’t mind the comparison, since I was inspired by that novel many years ago.

I watch interactions between people, not because I’m nosy (really), but because I’m curious. I wonder about people and how they are behind closed doors. I wonder about where they’re off to and where they come from. Wonderment, curiosity, inspiration all tie in to possibilities for a writer.

A regular disconnect from your devices can prove fruitful. Give a try! But not after you connect with me on the links below.

TanyaTaimanglo

About Tanya-Tanya Taimanglo is a Navy wife and mother of two. Originally from Guam, she’s freezing her buns off in Washington State, but adjusting well—now having an excuse to wear fancy scarves. A former high school English and Creative Writing Teacher, Tanya now enjoys writing up a storm for herself. She had a stint as a Secret Shopper for 4 years. Tanya loves Wonder Woman and Bruce Lee equally and hopes to attend Comic Con for the third time. Taimanglo also published a children’s book, Sirena: A Mermaid Legend From Guam and short stories, Attitude 13: A Daughter of Guam’s Collection of Short Stories.

Tanya Taimanglo’s Links:

My BLOG

Facebook Page

My novel, Secret Shopper, on Amazon

My Goodreads 

My Twitter 

Challenge Your Inspirations

17 Nov

Fact of the Day: this is my 200th post.

If you follow my Facebook Author Page, then you already saw the photo I’m about to share. But this is at the beginning for a reason:

Yesterday, after sharing my journal excerpt that inspired Seconds Before Sunrise (The Timely Death Trilogy), Minutes Before Sunset hit #586 in Books > Romance > Paranormal on Amazon.com! Thank you for sharing my dreams with me.

#586

#586

So, yes, thank you so much! It’s an amazing feeling to know my inspiration can inspire others, and that’s why I wanted to say this: although my dreams inspire me, you all are my ultimate inspiration. Your support, encouragement, and kind words continuously bring a smile to my face.

I know I often mention how inspired I am by dreams—how my novels are derived from my nightmares—but today I wanted to talk about four other ways writers can find inspiration. Who knows? Maybe you’ll try one outside of your usual inspiration and find a new love you would’ve never expected:

People:

Unless you’re a hermit, people are all around us. Society holds teachers, parents, kids, cops, doctors, hippies, and so many other kinds. And they can all be heroes. (They can also be villains.) I think psychology is one of the fundamentals to life—and it transfers to writing. Knowing how people work or where they come from can help create more realistic and rounded characters—especially if you get to know more unique individuals. Taking a moment to talk to someone you never thought you’d talk to might end up in a novel one day.

Events/Stories:

As a child, I clearly remember reading an article over an eight-year-old organ donor who saved ten lives. This story struck me as beautifully tragic, but it is so alike to the 2008 movie “Seven Pounds” that I wondered if maybe the writer saw an article just like I had. Basing a story off of news events is pretty common. But there are also tales, mythology, classical literature, legends, and more. Recently, for instance, I shared “6 Baffling Discoveries that Science Can’t Explain.” The point of this was simple: mysteries from real life can often inspire fiction or the famous Mark Twain quote, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

Traveling:

Most people wish they could do more of this, but it’s expensive and time consuming. If you can, great! Travel away. I find traveling to be one of the most energizing life experiences, but, like many, I can’t do it as much as I’d like. Thank goodness for the internet. The World Wide Web has hundreds—millions—of websites dedicated to traveling and/or learning about other countries. It’s not as authentic, of course, but it can spark the imagination. One of the best articles I read recently was “He Was Arrested 20 Times For This. But I Think It’s TOTALLY Worth It.” The article follows photographer, Dan Marbaix, as he travels the world, trespassing into abandoned locations. Just seeing these unsettling photos is enough to make your mind wander.

Drugs & Alcohol:

I am, by no means, encouraging this. Again, I am not encouraging this. I’m actually very against using anything that can be potentially harmful for inspiration. But, nevertheless, this is a commonly used tool. In fact, there are entire articles dedicated to this topic, including this one, “Top 10 Substance-Addled Writers.” Reasons for this seem to be simple: drugs altar the mind and body. It can often relax the creative walls artists put up. But I think there are better and healthier ways than this.

So what to do?

Try talking to someone you wouldn’t usually talk to. Try going somewhere you haven’t been before or somewhere you never thought you’d like to go. Read about cultures you’ve never been interested in. Or, if you have extra time and money, travel somewhere.

If you share your story and/or a unique idea in the comments, you might be the one picked to be a guest blogger!

~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

One of my “Highs” as an Author

14 Oct

When I finished my last post, I received so many heartfelt comments, and I want to first thank those fellow writers and readers for their kindness and support when it comes to one another’s difficulties being an artist. I am, once again, reminded of how influential and inspiring the WordPress community can be. Thank you.

Now, as I looked back on my post, I knew I had to do a followup post about my “highs” because I didn’t want to only concentrate on the negative. I wanted to show how exciting and uplifting being an artist can be. So I’m going to share three exciting events that happened to me this week and how they made me feel–with all of the emotions that came with them.

Minutes Before Sunset will officially be in a store.

That’s right. Fluente Designs, an upcoming store in Tullahoma, Tennessee, will have all of the AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. novels on their shelves. The photo below are the books that will be shelved. This is an amazing feeling as an author. I have to admit that I’m beyond excited for this. The owner has also agreed to an interview (so look out for that) and I’m looking forward to be able to share another artist with everyone. I also think it’s natural for me to also feel nervous about this. This moment feels like Minutes Before Sunset is creeping up, spreading out, and reaching more readers that I couldn’t reach without Fluente Designs‘ support. A big thank you goes out to Fluente Designs. Who knows? Maybe more stores will follow their lead. That would be breathtaking.

AEC Stellar's FB cover photo

AEC Stellar’s FB cover photo

My Stats Spiked

Minutes Before Sunset had the biggest spike in Amazon sales since the release in May. It was #9,308 in the Kindle Store, but it also hit #649 in Fantasy and and #407 in Romance/Paranormal, which I thought was awesome, because they are such competitive categories.

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Although I’m truly happy this happened, I have to admit I have always tried to never pay attention to stats. I think they can bring people down a lot (because it’s much easier to go down than to go back up) so I’m simply trying to enjoy the moment while it lasts and hope that I can continue to see my novel get into more hands to entertain them. That being said, there’s a confusing emotion that comes with wanting to enjoy the moment and knowing you can’t stare at it forever (or even for the few days it lasts for.) So I patted myself on the back, smiled, and continued to look away from my stats, knowing it’s better to focus on my love for writing than seeing numbers rise, even though I am thankful for it. (Seriously thankful for it.)

Twitter Encounters 

I’m not sure why or how, but I logged onto my Twitter, checked my messages, looked at my interactions, and froze when I saw this:  T. Harv Eker, #1 NY Times Bestselling author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, quoted me on his page.

TJarvEker

Following that, Shawne Duperon, 6-time Emmy winner and founder of Project Forgive also retweeted the quote and tweeted to me.

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Again, I have no idea how they got this quote. (It’s from November Snow, my first published novel.) But I can admit that seeing them on my Twitter Interactions made me rub my eyes like I’d stayed up too late and stared at my computer a little too long. I actually asked my father to read it to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, which, for the record, I wasn’t. (Whew.) They made my day. Not because they’re celebrities but because they both used that quote as a list of inspiring quotes to encourage people to get up and pursue their dreams, and my ultimate goal is to inspire people to follow their dreams. By using my quote to inspire others, T. Harv Eker and Shawne Duperon gave me an amazing gift without even realizing it: a deeper hope and belief that I can help even more people. And, for that, I thank both of them immensely.

It’s been a strange week for me as an author. I started off feeling down, then I defeated a down, and I was met with numerous 1175490_2091842814335_794178008_n“highs” I could barely believe, let alone comprehend. It’s honestly reminding me a lot of creating plots for stories: a road trip where we know where we start, have a destination in mind, and a few places in-between we think we might visit.  But, this time, I don’t know where I’m going or how / when / if it will end, and these in-between places are making me realize something about my writing career: I’m starting to become more excited about the fact that tomorrow might meet me with a new writing surprise. I guess you could say I’m shifting the gears, enjoying the ride, and seeing where it takes me. All with my cat in the passenger seat.

~SAT

One of my “Lows” as an Author

12 Oct

Today I wanted to talk about something many artists–no matter what kind of art they practice–struggle with: lows.

We have them sometimes as often as we have “highs.” When I say “highs” I am talking about those moments where you feel on top of the world, like you’ve accomplished everything you’ve ever dreamed of, and when I talk about “lows” I am talking about those moments that often follow our “highs.”

For me, the lows that follow highs are the hardest, not because they are emotional but because they are difficult to understand. The day before, filled with a high, you feel confident and beyond excited. It’s almost paralyzing when a low hits you the next morning. I wanted to talk about the one that I struggle with the most in the hopes of helping other writers (or artists) understand they aren’t alone or strange to be confused about these highs and lows as I have felt before.

My hardest lows happen when I finish a book.

As many of you know, I finished Seconds Before Sunrise recently. Granted, I “finished” writing it in high school, but the finalized version is MUCH different than the original, not because my publisher has asked me to change it, but because I decided to change a lot. I’ve grown up a lot since I first wrote it, I’ve learned a lot about writing, so I practically rewrote the entire trilogy when it was signed with AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. Therefore, I’m still experiencing the “high” of finishing it, followed by the “low” the day after.

The low comes from the realization that the novel is over. The creating is done. The adventure has settled, and it’s ready to be shared, but I’m no longer traveling within words, and it takes me a while to get into another novel afterwards, because it’s hard for me to let go of my previous work.

So what do I do to cope with it?

Previously, I’ve talked about going back, reflecting on my childhood or another time where my love for writing was a little more pure, naive to the changes that must be made when an artist grows into another stage of being an artist. And it helps. This is why I decided I wanted to share the piece of me that got me out of my recent “low.”

14 years old and reading as usual

14 years old and reading as usual

I was 14 when this photo was taken, which, roughly speaking, is when I started writing Seconds Before Sunrise. (Remember, I wrote Seconds Before Sunrise before Minutes Before Sunset.) I had yet to publish November Snow, and I was still dreaming of the day I could hold my published works in my hands. Perhaps this is why I held onto a “Personal Profile” my freshman English teacher had us fill out on my first day of high school so she could get to know us better. Below are the two answers that brought my author love out of that low: (excuse my handwriting; it hasn’t been right since I broke my left hand and had to switch to my right hand)

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When I read further, I was asked what my greatest goal was, and I said “to publish a book.” The perfect gift for me would be “a Barnes & Noble gift card” and when I get older, I wanted to be “an author.” I also said my favorite quote was “An ambition is a dream with a V8 engine” said by my favorite singer, Elvis Presley. I realized my dream was my focus in this questionnaire that I’m sure no one expected me to keep as one of the most important documents I have today.

I talked about my dreams, and, at the time, I kept it to remind myself of my goals. Since this was August 18, 2005, I was completely oblivious that November Snow would be published two years later or that Minutes Before Sunset would be published in 2013.

Today, this paper still reminds me of my goals, which I think is beautiful thing. In a sense, my 14-year-old self can still cheer me on. Even more important, I am reminded that I can cheer myself on by believing in everything I’ve done throughout the years. I may have been scribbling down answers as fast as I could (because who likes to spend hours on homework) but I still knew what I desired most: to live my life pursuing what I love most–writing–and I did.

As I continue to follow this dream, I have added more goals to my writer’s dream. Back then, all I wanted was my published book in my hands. Today, I want to help other aspiring writers achieve the same dream, and I also want to encourage other people to follow their dreams, no matter what it is. I want to challenge archetypes and stereotypes in literature. I want to depicts characters young adults today can relate to, learn from, and grow with. And I’m doing this by having the goal of challenging myself. In order to do this, I have to believe in myself, even in my lows, and I do, which is something much easier to write than to actually do. But, nevertheless, I know I’m not alone in this and no artist is alone in this.

We’re going to have days we’re on top of the world, and we’re going to have nights where we’re not sure if we should continue pursuing our dreams the next morning. But we get up anyway, because we know we can’t stop, because we can’t stop passion. We can’t stop a dream.

The point of this post has became less about my “lows” as an author and more about how we can stay in that “high” by reminding ourselves of what matters: happiness. And I hope this helps others find a place where happiness already resides: in our dreaming hearts.

~SAT

Through Jessica’s Eyes

10 Oct

On October 8, you might have seen my first reblog (I’ve always been confused on how to do that and how it’d affect emails, but I’m excited Ky Grabowski’s blog was the first one I got to try it on. I’ll definitely be reblogging more in the future.)

Beyond it being my first reblog, it was my first guest blog post where I actually blogged about something. I was really nervous to be honest. I was worried about what to talk about, because I want my guest blog post to fit the blog I’m guest blogging for, so I had to ask Ky what to do. She, because she’s a genius, immediately suggested I write about what scene in Minutes Before Sunset was the most important to me, and I did just that.  I was truly honored when Ky asked me to be a part of her blog, Welcome to the Inner Workings of My Mind, and here’s the post, if you missed it.

To be honest, Ky Grabowski really inspired me to keep thinking about my favorite scenes in my written novels, which is why I want to share something with everyone:

I have to express how thankful and excited I am as I move into releasing Seconds Before Sunrise, Book 2 of a Timely Death trilogy. The cover, designed by Viola Estrella, is amazing, and I can’t wait to share it. But, for now, I wanted to share this photo:

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Now, I suppose, I have to explain:

This photo was taken while I was writing Seconds Before Sunrise. At the time, one of my biggest hobbies was photography, and I love winter, which is one of the main reasons archetypes always rubbed me the wrong way. I find untouched snow to be one of the most beautiful occurrences in weather. This is why I use it in Seconds Before Sunrise. This photo is very symbolic to Seconds Before Sunrise, because I took this in my front yard. If you’ve read my previous posts, you might remember Jessica’s house is literally based off of my house at the time, so, in a way, you are seeing exactly what Jessica would see in her front yard when snow falls, and you will see this in book 2. But that’s all I can say about this specific scene. You’ll have to check in as I release more information on this novel’s release!

In other news:

Joe H. won the 9,000 likes giveaway! So congrats to him, and I hope he has a great time reading all those wonderful novels he’s receiving as we speak (or write and read. Haha.)

I also have a special offer going on my Facebook Author Page, so you should check it out (especially if you’re interested in contemporary fantasy.)

Minutes Before Sunset was featured on Paranormal Palooza, which was really neat! And it officially hit 50 ratings on Goodreads with a 4.56 star rating 😀

Here’s to the future of every writer as we continue venturing forward, pens in hand, words in our hearts.

~SAT 

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