Tag Archives: Monday Blogs

#MondayBlogs: When Writing is Not All You Do

4 May

Intro:

Back in February of 2013, I wrote a little blog post called Writing Tips: How to Handle Rejection. A huge part of this post was dedicated to John Tompkins. At the time, he wrote a blog called Rejection Love Letters (Or How to Lose Agents and Alienate Publishers). That blog no longer exists, but it was one of my favorites. Why? Because John Tompkins had a fearlessness many crave. He shared his rejection letters from publishers with humor and honesty, and while I think every writer has been rejected, he was open about it, and that is rare. Since then, he has since self-published, and today, he is writing an article for us about another topic many authors can relate to—working and writing, as two separate full-time jobs.

When Writing is Not All You Do

Writing is easy. Getting published is hard. This is especially true for those who work and have families. It’s pretty difficult to advance your writing career when you’re alternating your time between a job, washing dishes after dinner, bathing your child and helping with laundry.

A writer recently posted an item on Salon claiming that authors who do nothing but write, thanks to financial security, shouldn’t be judged because they have the luxury to live all writing all the time.

cover 2One encouraging thing the writer did say, however, is that those who are privileged should disclose that and not pretend that they had to fight through the clutter on Amazon or through the slush pile with a publisher to get noticed. Many of them have connections in the publishing industry and quite simply don’t know what it’s like to struggle. The Salon writer offered two examples of successful writers. One is due to inherit a sizable fortune and has time to do nothing but write. The other is a young woman who was the only child of a couple heavily involved in the New York literary scene. Her being published was foregone the moment she was born.

I’m a married father of one with another one due in June. I also work full time, mostly writing at night while my wife’s asleep or during King of Queens reruns. Have to fit it in somewhere.

I’ve written now, three books (ok two books and one novella) all of which have been rejected (I’ve got more than 100 reject letters). Most of the letters I made fun of by posting to a now defunct blog. Reading the rejections, I noticed that they all pretty much sounded the same. “Sorry, you’re good, but you’re not spectacular.” I gave up with agents and publishers and decided, after having two PhD’s edit my book, to just put it out there.

I posted it to Amazon about a month ago. Hopefully it will make it through all of the clutter but I guess we’ll see. I’m doing my best to market it and I’m also struggling to find reviewers.

I think my problem with the publishing industry is mostly the second example. Too many people who are talented with something valuable to say are ignored by publishers because they didn’t grow up in the Northeast or have connections from graduate school. So they’re ignored. It’s a disservice to readers and the art in general. I said as much in a comment to the Salon story.

It shouldn’t anger me so much to hear authors who start off wealthy and have nothing to do but write. But it does and it is easy to get discouraged.

There are the handful of success stories, notably E.L. James and a series of books you may have heard of, Fifty Shades of Grey. She self-published her novels originally as e-books. You know the rest of the story. One of the tidbits I enjoy about her success is when the director was making the ending to the recently released movie, James ordered him to make the ending she wanted. That’s control that most authors never get because so few have subsidiary rights. (Further ironic because the whole story is about personal control and giving it up.) This all being said, James was a television executive when she was writing Fifty Shades. But unlike other privileged writers, she released her works as any other independent author. Her books actually started out as fan fiction of the Twilight series.

This is about the only thing I think that keeps me going. When I’m sitting in my bed at 12 a.m. trying to hit my daily 1,500-word quota on number four, I can only dream about the day when I can type at a desk during the day. I will probably still have King of Queens on in the background though.

Bio:

John Tompkins is a writer living in Texas. He is a former newspaper reporter specializing in court coverage, education and government. He is now working as a communications coordinator at local college.

Book & Blog

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

~SAT

#MondayBlogs: Guest Post Showing VS Telling

23 Mar

Intro:

I am very excited about today’s guest blogger. Since recently signing with Clean Teen Publishing, it has been an absolute delight getting to know my new family, and so, I am introducing one of those wonderfully supportive and talented authors, Jennifer Anne Davis. She is sharing fantastic writing advice about the well-known writing tip “Show, don’t tell” below, and I’m very honored to be able to present her words to you.

Showing VS Telling

I just finished reading a New York Times Bestselling book. Because it’s a bestseller, I had high expectations and planned to fall in love with it. However, I was left sadly disappointed. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. After finishing the book, I sat there thinking about it. The writing, for the most part, was decent. The story interesting. So why didn’t I love it?

Because I was told the story. I wasn’t invested in the characters or what happened since it was all telling and no showing. What makes readers fall in love with characters? Why do we root for characters like Katniss, Tris, or Celaena? I believe it’s because the writer takes us on that character’s journey. We feel his or her pain, triumph, and love. In order to be invested and take that journey, we have to be captivated by the story. I believe this is done by showing a reader what’s happening, rather than telling them.

Jennifer Anne Davis on Facebook

Jennifer Anne Davis on Facebook

As a writer, it’s hard to find that balance between showing and telling. For me, when writing my first draft, it’s almost all telling. I am simply trying to get the story out without worrying about how I’m doing it. Once the story is on paper, I go back in and basically rewrite the entire thing so that I am showing the reader what’s happening. However, there are times where I do need to tell in order to keep the story moving along. Usually when the telling occurs, it’s a minor plot point and not of importance. Where showing becomes vital is between characters. I don’t like reading a story where the writer tells me how characters think and feel about those around them. A lot of times, the characters aren’t clear nor do they even understand their own thoughts and feelings. So it’s a lot of fun to read/write a story where the characters’ interactions with one another allow the reader to draw their own conclusions as to what is really going on.

On the flip side, I don’t want to overdo it with the showing either. Sometimes it’s ok to say a character had a stern look on their face without describing what that stern look looks like. Again, there is a fine line between showing too much. You have to keep the action moving along. I think that’s why it’s really important for a writer to have beta readers and critique partners.

Let’s look at one of my paragraphs from The Key.

“The girl’s eyes flew open. They were brilliant like the sea. Her hair was the color of hay, only silky instead of stiff and rough. Darmik wanted to touch it, just to be sure. The girl’s wet, gray dress clung to her body, her bosom heaving up and down from running.”

Ok, so in this paragraph, I don’t tell you her hair is blonde, I show you by giving a comparison. Same with her eyes. Also, by having Darmik notice several details so quickly, the reader has a hint that he is immediately drawn to this girl. The paragraph would have been boring if I’d said:

She opened her eyes. They were blue. She had blonde hair. She was breathing hard from running.

Yuck! So in this instance, telling is boring, dull, and adds nothing to the story or characters. Showing is what draws the reader in, captivates them, and leaves them wanting more!!!

Bio:

ABM_3681Jennifer graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential. Afterwards, she finally married her best friend and high school sweetheart. Jennifer is currently a full-time writer and mother of three young children. Her days are spent living in imaginary worlds and fueling her own kids’ creativity.

Visit Jennifer online at www.JenniferAnneDavis.com

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

~SAT

#MondayBlogs: Get a Room – the Ultimate Author and Reader Connection

9 Mar

Intro:

Our second guest blogger for March is here! Don’t you just love Mondays? I do! I truly enjoy seeing everyone interact with authors and writers they might never have gotten to hear from before, and the discussions we have on Monday are always fun and enlightening. Today will be no exception. Sharon A. Crawford is here. Author of Beyond Blood, published by Blue Denim Press, and a member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sharon is talking about how readers and writers connect with one another – in the same way we will all connect today! Happy reading.

Get a Room – the Ultimate Author and Reader Connection

Readers and writers like to connect on Goodreads, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogs. Videos on YouTube give the reader some idea of the author’s persona. But they are not connecting physically. As the title of a song made famous by the late Peggy Lee (back in pre-online days) asks, “Is that all there is?”

But get an author in a “bricks and mortars” room with a group of readers and more can happen. Call it creative magic, call it real connection – whatever you wish, but it is like the icing on the cake.

Why else do authors still do readings and interviews in libraries, cafes, pubs, at book clubs, writing festivals and conferences? Sure, we authors want to sell books, but we want to meet our readers in the flesh. And when you do like me, partner up with authors from a writing organization, the atmosphere can escalate into a literary, or in my case, criminal high. No drugs needed.

As the crime fiction author of the Beyond mystery series (Beyond the Tripping Point, 2012 and Beyond Blood, 2014, Blue Denim Press) and a member of Crime Writers of Canada, I often “appear” with other crime writers to do readings and author interviews. A recent appearance at the Beaches Library Branch in Toronto, Canada, turned into an incredible evening.

Nothing about this evening was expected. A sudden early snowstorm prevented an out-of-town author from coming. I was waylaid by public transit delays and frantically phoned the library to say I would be late. Two of the authors were already there, so I was still determined to make it.

Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A. Crawford

I’m glad I did.

There were four of us crime authors reading and talking about our writing – Nate Hendley, who writes true crime (Steven Truscott – Decades of Injustice, Five Rivers Publishing, 2012), Steve Shrott who writes comedy-mystery fiction (Audition for Death, Cosy Cat Press, 2013) and D.J. McIntosh who writes historical thrillers (The Book of Stolen Tales, Penguin Canada, 2013), and me. A very diversified criminal-writing gang.

I arrived as D.J. McIntosh was just finishing her reading. Did I say “reading?” Yes, she read, as did the rest of us. But our reader audience wasn’t content to just listen. They got right into the presentation, right into the moment, bombarding us with questions on crime writing, where we get our ideas, how we write, our characters. etc. and with Nate Hendley, where is Steven Trustcott now and did he interview him? As we answered their questions, it became more than just a q and a. It was a conversation. It was as if we had all been siphoned off into a separate universe away from everybody and everything else (including the snowstorm) to get to know each other. These readers weren’t present only for entertainment. They wanted to connect. And so did we.

The readers were all ages, from young children to seniors. (I had to watch what I read as my fiction is for 14+). We found out at the end of the evening why those children were there with Mom or Dad. They were checking out different careers and that evening it was authors. I should have twigged in from some of the questions about what book authors earn and don’t-give-up-your-day-job answers. Yes, we sold some print books and probably more e-books later. And maybe set the seed for some future crime readers and writers.

Speaking of readers and authors connecting, there is Sisters in Crime, a world-wide organization begun by mystery novelist Sara Paretsky and other women mystery authors in 1986, long before Goodreads and LinkedIn existed. SinC was originally started to raise the profile of women crime authors. Chapters began springing up all over. Members include crime authors, librarians, publishers, and readers. SinC Toronto, which I belong to, also includes a few male crime authors. We call them “brothers in crime.” The criteria is still to promote crime authors to readers, but I find something else going on – that personal connection between authors and readers. And while SinC is on Facebook, it’s connecting in a real room that binds us together, almost as if we are stuck together with honey.

To answer Peggy Lee’s question – for today’s authors and readers, there is much more to life when we meet in person.

Sharon A. Crawford

Bio:

Sharon A. Crawford, a former journalist, is a freelance book editor, writing instructor/tutor and author of the Beyond mystery series. She is Writer-in-residence for Canadian Authors Association Toronto, a member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime Toronto, Professional Writers Association of Canada, and runs the East End Writers’ Group.

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

~SAT

#MondayBlogs: The Stigma of Writing Horror

23 Feb

Intro:

Monday brings us a new blog post by a new guest blogger.

Remember, if you want to guest blog, check out the information below this post, but be sure to read today’s post first! When author Alex Laybourne was asked why he chose to be a horror writer, he responded that horror chose him. Today, he is talking about the stigmas horror writers have to deal with in today’s market, but he goes much deeper than that, and his words are definitely worth the triumph in the end.

#MondayBlogs: The Stigma of Horror Writing

As a writer, I have found that there is a range of reactions that will come from that proclamation whenever anybody asks what I do. Sure, I have an office job, but I always respond with both of my jobs. Writing is, after all, a fulltime endeavour.

However, there is only one reaction that I get when people hear that I am a horror writer. It is usually accompanied by a slight step backwards, and they avert their gaze. Why? Well, I write horror. It must mean that I am about to try and murder them all for the sake of research. I mean, that is what I am, right? I am darkness. I must live in a basement where blood coats the walls and the screams of the damned are the lullaby upon which I drift off into the restful world of nightmares.

Blood of the Tainted ebook coverIn the modern world, writers are more and more approachable than ever, yet I still find that there is a stigma attached to being a horror writer. Maybe stigma is the wrong word, so let’s say that there is a certain level of expectation that comes with it.

To many people, horror is about blood, guts, and gore. What they know of horror is what they see in movies. Why is this? It is, in part, because people only think of slasher movies when they think of horror. Anything else seems to get the label of Psychological Thriller or some other titillating genre twist, which creates a feeling of expectant anticipation in the audience. Something that horror does not give.

Yet the truth behind it all is far different. We horror writers are no different than anybody else that puts ink to paper. We are no different than anybody else that goes to work in an office. Ok, our heads may be programmed in such a way that when we see certain things or hear certain snippets of a conversation we get ideas, but there are for plot and characters, rather than anything darker than that.

There is a very interesting wave of great horror writers out there at the moment, making waves in the indie scene and pushing the boundaries of genre to the limits and then some. I could throw around phrases like ‘ground breaking’ or ‘genre defining’ but I don’t wish to be labelled pretentious. All of these writers, these masters of the dark, are husbands or close to it. They are fathers and damned good ones. Hands on parents, too. They can be found watching cartoons or changing nappies (diapers) rather than hunching over Ouija boards, summoning the devil’s minions to help ensure their souls have the clean black gleam.

Sure, we write things that concern darkness, but what horror often gives, is hope. More often than not they are stories of triumph over adversity. Yes, we deal with the subjects that most people are afraid to think about. Yes, we take readers by the hand through nightmare worlds, but what we also do, is bring them out the other side. We help them face their fears; we allow readers, if only for a short time, to conquer their fears. Whether they do it by closing the book when it gets too much, or by reading it all in one sitting, they are standing up to what scares them, and not backing down.

The next time somebody tells you that they are a horror writer, remember that we slave just as hard over our words as the next Booker Prize nominee does. We have poured as much of ourselves into our work as any other author, and while it may never be a good idea to ask us what we are currently working on, never let the genre fool you. After all, it is nothing but a means by which bookstores can line their shelves. At the end of the day, genre means nothing.

I think it’s only fair that I end this with a quote from Stephen King.

“At parties, people usually approach the writer of horror fiction with a mixture of wonder and trepidation. … Most of us, you see, look and seem (and ARE) perfectly ordinary. We don’t drown houseguests in the bathtub, torture the children, or sacrifice the cat at midnight inside of a pentagram. There are no locked closets or screams from the cellar. Robert Bloch, author of Psycho, looks like a moderately successful used car salesman. Ray Bradbury bears an uncomfortable resemblance to Charles M. Shulz, creator of Peanuts.”

Me

Alex Laybourne

Bio:

Born and raised in the coastal English town Lowestoft, it should come as no surprise (to those that have the misfortune of knowing this place) that Alex Laybourne became a horror writer.

From an early age he attended schools which were at least 30 minutes’ drive away from his home, and so most of his free time was spent alone.

He claims to have been a writer as long as he can remember. With a wild and vivid imagination he finds it all too easy to just drift away into his own mind and explore the worlds he creates. It is a place where the conditions always seem to be just perfect for the cultivation of ideas, plots, scenes, characters and lines of dialogue

He is married and has four wonderful children; James, Logan, Ashleigh and Damon. His biggest dream for them is that they grow up, and spend their lives doing what makes them happy, whatever that is.

Links:

Blood of the Tainted (artwork by Richard van Ekeren)

Diaries of the Damned

Website

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

~SAT

Best Christmas Books of All Times

22 Dec

Intro:

Happy #MondayBlogs! What better way to lighten Monday’s normally dreadful mood by having guest bloggers come in and share their thoughts about reading and writing? Today is the first guest blogger for this new section of ShannonAThompson.com, but this isn’t their first time blogging here! If you’ve been with me for a few months, then you’ll recognize Ninja Essays and all of their perfection. Today, Ninja Essays has created another beautiful infograph titled “Best Christmas Books of All Times.” So, you might check it out and find that perfect Christmas gift for your reading friend or for your companions that are traveling this holiday season.

Thank you, Ninja Essays!

Best Christmas Books of All Times

It may be cold, crowded and hectic, but everyone agrees that Christmas is the best time of the year! It’s time to connect with our families and show appreciation for everything we have. The loving Christmas mood has inspired many authors to write heart-warming stories that embody the spirit of the holiday. 

When you get overwhelmed by cooking, event organizing, shopping and wrapping, it’s time to let the perfect Christmas read take you to a world of magic and mystery. The best Christmas books mix sadness with sweetness and joy; they make you reflect on your actions and recognize the importance of kindness, giving and affection. 

The following infographic by NinjaEssays.com suggests the best Christmas books in five categories: Children, Classic, Romance, Fantasy, and Mystery & Crime. It’s the perfect selection of books that remind us what Christmas is really about!   

Infographic Source

Best_Christmas_Books_By_NinjaEssays

Want to be a guest blogger? Wonderful! I am accepting guest posts that focus on reading and writing. No blatant advertisements. You are allowed a book link in the post as long as it’s relevant to the post. Including a bio and a picture is encouraged. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

~SAT

Surprise! Shannon’s Return to Blogging

17 Dec

Surprise! Shannon’s Return to Blogging

Shannon is back. After 32 days, I can no longer stay away. Idling is not my thing. But I collected my thoughts and worries and concerns, and I found a new road I want to take on ShannonAThompson.com.

Wait? There are changes?

Yes. There will be changes, but I sincerely hope (and believe) you all will enjoy them. And if you don’t enjoy them, I am a good listener, and I will find yet another path to take. That being said, for the first time in my two years of blogging here, ShannonAThompson.com is getting a new schedule, and below you can read all about it, starting with today:

Wednesdays: Also known as #WW – Writer Wednesday.

This will be the most familiar of days. I will publish a post that focuses on either writing or reading. This includes writing tips, publishing advice, and more. Basically, all the posts I’ve written in the past could be eligible material for this day.

Saturdays: #SATurday – Shannon Day!

Yes, I made that hashtag up with my initials in it. I know. I know. I’m creative. And a bit egotistical. This is the biggest change you will see, but I hope you’ll enjoy it because I contemplated this for a very long time. You see, after blogging about writing and reading for two years, I felt like I removed a lot of my personality from this website. Because of that, I’m creating an opportunity to share my daily stories and life with you. On Saturdays, I will post about anything – literally whatever is affecting my life – in the hopes of connecting with everyone on a more personal level. I’m also hoping you will share your thoughts so I can get to know you better. (And if you really only want to talk about writing, don’t worry! Writing and reading is such a huge part of my life, there is a big chance that most of these posts will also include ideas about writing.) So, keep your eyes out for #SATurday, and please use the hashtag!

While away, I started recording an audio book.

While away, I started recording an audio book.

Mondays: Also known as #MondayBlogs

Have you ever wanted to Guest Post here? Well, you’re in luck. Mondays are all about you. Every Monday will be open to you for blogging on my website. However, I am holding everyone up to the same standards as my guest bloggers in the past: focus on writing or reading with absolutely no blatant advertisements (a.k.a. “BUY MY BOOK”) You are allowed a bio, a picture, and book link in the ending description. A picture for the blog post is also needed. If you are interested in submitting, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. If you would like to look at previous examples, check out When the Protagonist Dies, Authors Don’t Read, Spreading the Love or go to the righthand side of my page, click on Categories, and then, click on Guest Blogger.

I will also continue Website Wonders and Ketchup posts every month. I hope you look forward to these changes! I’m keeping my fingers crossed. So – again – feel free to email shannonathompson@aol.com if you’re interested in guest posting. I’m also taking interview requests again! So, I’m logging into my email right now. Looking forward to seeing you there!

And – again – thank you so much for understanding my break. Your support lightened my worries and calmed my troubled heart. (Oh, the relaxing sigh of breath you gave me during all of my dramatics.)

It’s good to be back.

~SAT

P.S. The last installment of The Timely Death Trilogy, Death Before Daylight, is now on Goodreads. Click below! Add it to your bookshelf for an ARC! (Or email me at shannonathompson@aol.com) AEC Stellar Publishing announced the release date as January 29, 2015.

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