Tag Archives: Movie Reviews

#SATurday: Content Disclosures for Novels

16 May

#SATurday: Content Disclosures for Novels

This past Wednesday, my content disclosure tree for Minutes Before Sunset released by Clean Teen Publishing. What is a content disclosure tree? Well, I’ll leave that up to my publisher to define on their website. (Click here to read the definition. Click here to read my full content disclosure tree.) I suggest reading both before continuing, but I’m going to write the article as if the links are broken.

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In summary, Clean Teen Publishing allows readers to understand what they’re picking up when they choose a book—which I completely support for numerous reasons, but I will mainly talk about personal experiences, both from working with readers and from traumatic topics I’ve lived through myself, and how these examples have helped me understand the consideration of a content disclosure.

Starting off at my day job, I help authors find readers interested in their work. One of the topics I always discuss with authors is whether or not there is incest, rape, or other controversial topics in the story. Why? Because many of the reviewers I have worked with requested to know this for various reasons. By talking to numerous readers every day, I started to realize how many readers would prefer to know certain things up front—again, for various reasons. Sometimes, it’s triggering for those with PTSD. Sometimes, they are simply disinterested in that scenario. Sometimes, it’s just a preference of how they are feeling that day. While I’m not one to be against any particular topic in a novel, I can understand why someone wouldn’t want to read about certain topics, especially involving traumas.

That being said, this sort of disclosure hasn’t happened without controversy. Simply Google “disclosing content in novels” or “content ratings for readers” and I guarantee you’ll find a forum discussing the pros and cons of this. The main arguments I see revolve around ruining surprises and the effectiveness of even preventing someone from reading something they won’t enjoy. And that’s what I want to discuss.

First, as a writer who has written about controversial topics—particularly with violence and language in November Snow and The Timely Death Trilogy, and drug use in Take Me TomorrowI would – by no means – want a reader to pick up one of my works and accidentally be triggered by something. Speaking from personal experience, my mother died from a drug overdose when I was eleven, which is why I wrote Take Me Tomorrow, but through years of counseling, I met many kids like me who reacted very differently than I did. Reading Take Me Tomorrow would be extremely upsetting for them, and knowing what they went through, I would never want to cause them distress about such a personal topic. As a fellow reader, I would also rather find them something else they might like to read.

Granted, I understand the “just put it down” argument, but—at the same time—why can’t we prevent readers from picking up a book they definitely won’t like in the first place? This isn’t about ratings or reviews. This is about caring about your readers’ feelings and time. Now . . . here is where I hear the “but that ruins the surprise” argument . . . which I don’t understand, because—if done correctly—the content disclosure will say the topic, not which character and on which page. Take my full disclosure for example (if you click on this link, it’s at the bottom of the page). Clean Teen Publishing lets us know that Minutes Before Sunset talks about a parent’s suicide. It doesn’t say which one. It doesn’t say how it happens or when it happens. It doesn’t even say how much it is discussed. If anything, I’ve given away SO MUCH more on my website about the topic of suicide in The Timely Death Trilogy and November Snow.

I know I write about controversial – and often violent – topics in my stories, and I, by no means, have an issue with readers knowing that up front, especially because my novels fall under the YA genre, and genres alone don’t warn about the insides. TV and movies have had ratings for a long time, and while I understand that it’s much easier to be surfing channels and accidentally comes across a movie (and a book takes much more time to get into), I think content disclosures can help a large portion of readers find more suitable books that they will enjoy.

Content disclosures can help those that feel like they need it, and those who feel they don’t need content disclosures can ignore them. If you want to be surprised about all the topics, for instance, don’t read the disclosure. It’s as simple as that. At this point, I will say that I don’t think it needs to be an industry standard but rather something that is up to an author and their publisher (and of course, the reader). Personally, I love them. I see too many benefits coming from them for me not to love them. Content disclosures can help those avoiding triggering topics and even help parents choose books for their children that they deem appropriate. Disclosures can help readers find exactly what they’re looking for, maybe even a controversial topic they’ve struggled to find. Everyone who wants them can read them, and everyone who doesn’t want them doesn’t have to use them, but as an author, I’m glad my novels now have one.

~SAT

P.S. On a fun side note, my publisher actually makes these for anyone interested! Click here to check it out.

P.S.S. I reviewed Ex Machina and talked about robots during my latest YouTube video on Coffee & Cats!

February’s Entertainment Reviews

26 Feb

When The Eye-Dancers interviewed me one year ago, I didn’t even have a publishing contract for The Timely Death Trilogy. Now, they have emailed again, and you can see how much my life has changed in just 365 days. Read the full interview here to find out how I define myself as a writer and person.

I know. I know. On my last post, I said this would be February’s Website Wonders, but I am switching it up mainly because it would conflict with the Oscars. (What?) Yes, the Oscars. Since I posted about the Oscars last year, I decided I will post about it again this year. So, the next few posts will be a lot of fun!

Here’s the schedule:

2/28: February Ketchup (or Catch-Up – haven’t decided yet) This will be dedicated to showing everyone a list of February’s postings as well as the most popular post according to my stats.

3/2: The Oscars: Who I Want to Win – I think the title is pretty obvious as to what this post will be.

3/4: Website Wonders – See? I told you I would share them. They will just be shared a few days late.

Thanks for understanding!

Onto the entertainment reviews:

Movies – I’m starting out with these, because I watched so many of these that I couldn’t decide which ones to share…so I’m sharing pretty much all of them. It’s safe to say that I really, REALLY enjoy watching movies.

  • The Wolf of Wall Street: I hope Leonardo gets an Oscar. Seriously. Other than the fact that he already deserves one, he shows some crazy acting skills in this movie. From drugs to sex to sociopathic Wallstreeters – he covers a wide range of emotion in this movie.
  • 12 Years a Slave – It might win film of the year. But it was really depressing for me, which is the point, so it’s successful. That being said, I thought some of the long pauses were overdone and actually took me out of it instead of the intended effect, which – I’m assuming – is to give the viewer a moment to breathe and/or seriously think about what is happening. I still enjoyed this film.
  • The Lego Movie – I can admit I was laughing. If I wasn’t so tired, I probably would’ve enjoyed the flick a lot more.
  • I, Frankenstein: cheese graphics, definitely not the traditional tale (which I wasn’t expecting anyway.) If you’re okay with predictable action, go for it. I did think the gargoyles were cool, but that’s because I grew up watching Gargoyles, so I have a soft heart for them.
  • Last Vegas: This movie is definitely not directed for my age group, but I watched it with my father, and I was laughing along with him. He was laughing harder, but this cast was amazing. The storyline is predictable, but – come on – we’re talking about a comedy, so I had no problem with that. It was a great laugh.
  •  My Neighbor Totoro: As much as this is debatably the most popular and influential anime movie, I was slightly disappointed. Not saying I didn’t like it. I enjoyed it. But I would definitely put Grave of the Fireflies, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Spirited Away above this one. (P.S. anyone else hoping Hayao Miyazaki isn’t actually retiring? If he truly does, I am heartbroken.)
  • 24 Short Films of Famous Directors You Can Watch on Youtube: very interesting! Tim Burton’s was my favorite, but he’s also one of my favorite directors so this wasn’t a surprise to me. (I also loved Guillermo del Toro’s.)

1796519_2251975777559_1704430684_nCooking: Because I have to share this recipe. I made it for Valentine’s Day – because I needed an excuse to make something with this much chocolate in it – and I will probably make it again.

  • Oreo Lasagna: Yep. I made it, and – no shame – it was beyond delicious.

Books: Since February is the month of love, I wanted to share love books that I love.

  • Delirium by Lauren Oliver: Love is a disease. Do you need to know anymore? It’s an amazing trilogy – one of my favorites.
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: I couldn’t do this blog post without mentioning this tale. You must read it, especially if you’re going to see the movie in theaters this year.
  • One Day: This is probably one of my favorite novels. The tale takes place on one day over forty years. It shows how love can grow and die over a lifetime.
  • The Sad Love Story: For manga fans, this might be my favorite. I don’t want to spoil the story by describing it, but the title isn’t lying.
  • The World’s Greatest Love Letters: “for evil nor good shall never make me go from it.” This collection is beautiful and heartbreaking and everything in-between.

Music: One is technology, but the last three are playlists from 8tracks.com.

cat

My “Party Animal”

  • Party Animals: it’s a dancing cat. What could be better than that? I hook it up to my iPod or computer, and my cat dances to the music. I love it. Not going to lie.
  • Violin and Cie: a violin playlist
  • As One: if you like foreign music – in this case, Korean – then check this out.
  • Something Else: This is described as chill step, but I thought it was just mellow and wonderful.

Hope you check some of these things out! If you have already, be sure to let me know what you think below in the comments. If you have any suggestions, I’m always open, too.

~SAT

2014 Books to Movies

10 Jan

First, I am taking a moment to apologize for my extended absence. I was having unusual difficulties with my normally cooperative technology. But now my internet is fixed, and I’m delighted to return to my every-other-day blog schedule.

Since I was stuck on my phone rather than my laptop the past few days, the only thing I could really do was read up on book related articles, and this one was really popular: 16 Books to Read Before They Hit Theaters This Year. Now I’ve talked about what I think of movie adaptations before, and you can read about that here, but I just want to repeat my opinion in case you’re a newcomer (welcome!)

I look at movie adaptation as sister pieces – rather than something that needs to represent the novel exactly. I normally quite enjoy movie adaptations, even when other readers don’t. This doesn’t really mean anything aside from I love seeing a piece of art being interpreted using another method. So I wanted to share the upcoming movie adaptations and what I think about the book and/or the future movie. The links will take you to IMDB rather than the book. I would also love to hear what you’re looking forward to and what you’re worried about, so comment below so we can talk about it 😀

1. Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

I am a Kate Winslet fan, and the trailer left me wanting more. I will probably see this, but I have yet to read the 4.2/5 star novel. I will probably wait for the DVD, but it looks like a promising drama that leaves questions about the good, the bad, and the ugly.

2. The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter

I must see this. Again, I haven’t read this novel, but I am planning on checking it out a.s.a.p. I love history, and I love art. I plan on seeing this in theaters. It looks worth it to me. I’m also a John Goodman fan, so that helps.

3. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

I’m really on the fence about this one. I wish I could say more, but I honestly don’t know how to elaborate except that I’m afraid the magic will be hard to convey on the screen.

4. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

As much as I’m a young-adult fan, this novel failed to gain my interest, and – like many – I’m a little burnt out on vampires. (Although it is directed by the same director who did Mean Girls. I don’t know if this means anything, considering I’m not a fan of the story, but I hope it does well for the fans!

5. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby 

I don’t think this is my cup of tea, but this doesn’t mean I think the book is bad or anything.

6. Divergent by Veronica Roth

I think this might be one of the biggest films of the year in terms of young-adult trends. It will be interesting to see how the Chicago setting is done and/or if it fares well with the diehard fans. I’ll definitely be checking it out.

7. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

If I have the urge to have a cry fest, then, yes, I plan on seeing this emotional tale on the big screen.

8. The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

Although this is a remarkable tale, the trailer didn’t really interest me enough. I might change my mind, depending on what else it out around this time.

9. The Giver by Lois Lowry

This is one of my favorite novels of all-time, and I’m a HUGE fan of Meryl Streep, but I am worried about their decision to cast Taylor Swift. It makes me feel like they are simply trying to get people to come using big names, rather than finding the right people for the parts, but I still have hopes that Ms. Swift will live up to the high expectations of this classic and prove everyone wrong that she can, in fact, act.

I am wishing for too much, but I think it would be really neat if the first half shows how the world sees in black and white until the color vision begins to develop with the apple and hair through the protagonist. In fact, I made the photo below when thinking it would be really neat to see in black and white for one day. My roommate mentioned The Giver, and I got even more excited for this movie adaptation. I guess you could say this one is the one I look forward to the most.

So this is my black and white photograph inspired by black and white films!

So this is my black and white photograph inspired by black and white films!

10. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

I really want to see this dark tale, too. I think it will translate well, and I hope the visuals add to the dramatic and twisted story.

11. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Not sure about this one, but I am not familiar with the novel either.

12. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Yes. Yes. and Yes. I will be seeing this. I think that’s all I need to say.

13. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Wow. Second movie of the year inspired by Gillian Flynn. I’m a fan of Flynn, so I’ll probably see this, but I think I might wait until it’s out of the theater. But congrats to Gillian Flynn on the big year!

But I do have some (sad?) news about this movie adaptation. According to the guardian, the ending has been rewritten by choice of the director. Flynn has supposedly written it, but this mysterious ending is leaving readers wondering why and what will happen.

14. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand & 15. Wild by Cheryl Strayed 

Again, these both sound interesting, but I don’t think they are for me.

16. Serena by Ron Rash

I love Jennifer Lawrence too much to not see this. It’s on my top movies to look out for in 2014. Although I have to admit that I used to not be a huge fan of Bradley Cooper’s, he’s made a huge comeback with me since Silver Linings Playbook, and I adore every movie Lawrence and Cooper have done together. (American Hustle was great!) So I will be seeing this on the big screen if possible! Not that this matters, but Serena is also my favorite name for a girl, so…that’s one more reason, right? :] (Fun fact: Serena is the name of my protagonist in my first, published novel, November Snow.)

So what do you think? Are you looking forward to any of these flicks? Are you worried about any of them? Which novels have you read? Are there any you plan on checking out before you watch it? 

Feel free to elaborate as much as you want to about a specific novel. In fact, I hope you do! I would love to hear more about a story I’m on the fence about from someone who has read it and loved or hated it. Some of my favorite movies were ones I never thought I would see. (I can admit Silver Linings Playbook was actually one of those.) I’m really open-minded, and I love a challenge – meaning, I adore those moments where I have low expectations and the art blows me away. Surprises can be a beautiful thing.

~SAT

P.S. I took Bogart to the vet for his annual checkup, and he’s 18 lbs.! Now, I was worried he was overweight, but it turns out he is part Maine Coon. I thought that was pretty cool – and explains why he’s so HUGE! So I had to share 😀

He’s a little mad at me after the vet, but he’ll come around.

He’s a little mad at me after the vet, but he’ll come around.

Writing Tips From My Film Class.

6 Aug

As many of you know, I am about to go into my last semester at the University of Kansas. (I cannot wait to graduate!) School is a big part of my life right now, so that’s why I like to share my favorite books that we read during my classes. Since my summer semester just ended, I thought I’d do that again–except there’s one big difference: it was History of the International Sound to Film. Basically, we watched a lot of movies during the World War II era (before, during, and right after.)

Before I begin, you might be asking: what does this have to do with writing? I’m getting to that. I promise.

When I need more writing tips, I cuddle with Bogart.

When I need more writing tips, I cuddle with Bogart.

There were too many movies to post on one page (seriously) so I’m only sharing my favorites:

  • Under the Roofs of Paris (Rene Clair, 1930, France)
  • The Private Life of Henry VIII (Alexander Korda, 1933, Britain)
  • Listen to Britain (Humphrey Jennings & Stewart McAllister, 1942)
  • Alexander Nevsky (Sergei Eisenstein, 1938)
  • Port of Shadows (Marcel Carne, 1938)
  • The Bicycle Thief (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)
I also put writing tips on my Facebook Page!

I also put writing tips on my Facebook Page!

I don’t think I would’ve ever seen these movies if it weren’t for that class, although I wish I could say I would’ve. They were very enlightening in the sense that I do love older movies, yet I’ve never really watched the ones that were used politically from other countries during the war. It puts a twist on things, and it made me think. So this is where I get into writing tips. I’m always trying to find new ways to look at writing, and, when I look at life a little differently, I decide to line it up with writing. In this case, I thought about two things:

1. Silent Films: Imagine how difficult getting a story across must be when you cannot even tell the story. It’s like playing charades. As writers, we don’t necessarily have to worry about this, because our job is to tell the story. But what if we took a step back? What if we had to make a silent film out of the story? Imagine what would come across the clearest, what would be the most difficult, and how you would set things up to describe everything. I tried this prompt myself, and I might share it in the future ;] But, for now, all I will say is that it forces more emotions to come to the surface (and it might even help you change those pesky scenes that didn’t quite feel right and/or cut them completely)

2. The Other Side: Like I said, most of these films were foreign, so it was interesting to see how the rest of the world artistically displayed the war. Even more interesting? They all had the basic concepts laid out the same. However, I thought you could try an interesting prompt: imagine your story is being told by the other side, (in this case, by the enemy, or someone near the enemy.) How would they see things? Maybe they aren’t so evil, after all.

Who knows? Maybe you can combine the two and come up with a silent expression from the other side. That would be something, even if it were only for you to see. 

~SAT

P.S. Please support these wonderful writers and readers who’ve interviewed me and read Minutes Before Sunset:

Interview: 

Urban fantasy and paranormal romance writer, S.L. Stacy, took a moment to interview me, and it was lovely. My favorite (and fun) question? “If you could be bffs (best friends forever) with any fictional character, who would it be?” Find out who I picked here.

Reviews:

KatrPilr: Writer, Life-Living Extraordinaire: “The concept of Minutes Before Sunset is a breath of fresh air in a YA genre crowded with werewolves and vampires. Shannon A. Thompson artfully weaves two worlds together from two different perspectives: Eric’s, and Jessica’s. The result is well-rounded, in-depth characters, and a seamless story, while still retaining enough mystery to keep me wanting more.” Read the rest here.

Joe Hinojosa, Random thoughts from a random mind: “Thematically, the story deals with issues of prophecy and destiny, responsibility and free-will, and friendship and love. It deals with how people compartmentalize their lives, keeping a public face while at the same time harboring a private identity…Honestly, I have to say that it was an enjoyable read, so much so that I immediately read it again.” Read the rest here.

I’m always available for interviews and reviews at ShannonAThompson@aol.com. I will share it on all of my websites, and I will also supply you with a free ebook copy of Minutes Before Sunset. (My dream right now is to do an interview after someone has read it and asks about details in the book. Wink. Wink.)

But I’m off to complete more edits of Seconds Before Sunrise! Can’t wait for the release this fall!

~SAT 

Movie Mention: Night Watch

16 Jan

I’m a sucker for Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Thriller. Hence why I write that genre. In fact, one of the reviews for “November Snow” says,

This book was amazing. This book built up so much suspense, I couldn’t put it down. It is a mix of Adventure, Fantasy, Thriller, and Romance novels all in one. Great book for anyone. (William, Kindle Edition, 5 Stars)

Because I LOVE these genres, I strive to explore them in all types of art. I encourage other writers to do the same. Watch movies, listen to their soundtracks for music inspiration, and read novels, old and new. Today, I’m giving an example of expanding your palate by watching foreign films within the genre you enjoy. 220px-Night_Watch_(2004_film)_theatrical_poster

Night Watch (Nochnoy dozor) is a great Russian (English Subtitled) Action, Fantasy, Thriller movie to switch your inspiration up. Set in modern-day Moscow, Anton is stuck between the Dark and the Light when the Great Ones are discovered, threatening the apocalypse if they ever meet.

Or as Geser says, 

And so it will be, until a man emerges who is meant to become the Great One. And, if he chooses the side of Light, then Light will win. But, those, to whom the truth has been revealed, say that he will choose Darkness. For it is easier to kill the Light within oneself, than to scatter the Darkness around… The prophecies are coming true.

My friend and I found it on Amazon Prime, but you can rent it, and I’m sure it’s on sites such as Netflix.

Check it out (Or, if you like other genres, I really encourage you to try a foreign film in your genre to see differences, inspiration, and techniques that you can form into your own creations.)

~SAT

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