Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Writing the Cliffhanger

1 Nov

Love them or hate them, cliffhangers are popular and utilized in lots of books nowadays, even the ones that never get (or intend) a sequel to follow up the ending. 

So what’s the difference between a cliffhanger that makes a reader pick up the next book and the one that makes the reader chuck the book across the room? 

That’s what I’m here to discuss. 

First, there are three ways to end your book:

  • Complete conclusion
  • Non-Ending Ending
  • Cliffhanger

Second, if you’re here to learn about cliffhangers, you’ll want to focus on the non-ending ending and the cliffhanger. What’s the difference?

A Non-Ending Ending doesn’t answer most (or any) of the questions posed, not even the ones asked at the beginning of a story. This is becoming more common. I personally dislike it a lot, but alas, this isn’t about my feelings. As an example, consider a murder mystery. The main question posed at the beginning of the book is “Who is the murderer?” The secondary question might be “Why/How did this murder take place?” 

(I will be coming back to the idea of main and secondary questions, so keep that difference in mind.) 

By the time you get to the end of a Non-Ending Ending book, you still have no idea who the murderer was. You may know how the murder took place, so some of the secondary questions might be answered, but the main question is not. 

A popular one that I can think of off the top of my head is The Selection series by Kiera Cass. The first book asks, “Who will be chosen to marry the prince?” The ending of that first book doesn’t answer. It just dwindles the group down to the top ten. If you take a careful look at the trilogy, you’ll notice all three books follow a one-book arc versus a trilogy arc. But that’s another post for another day. 

As much as I hate to say it, a Non-Ending Ending is a valid choice. But I recommend you be intentional when making this decision. By choosing this, you are risking the reader feeling duped and not trusting you to finish the story. I myself typically put a series down if they have a Non-Ending Ending. However, I finished The Selection series, so there’s always exceptions. Typically, though, the traditional cliffhanger is more likely to get readers coming back for more.  

In my opinion, reading and writing a traditional cliffhanger is a lot more satisfying. Why? Because you will answer that main question. Your reader will know who the murderer is. But those secondary questions might lead them into a new mystery. For example, instead of wrapping up why the murder happened, the murderer tells us they were under orders and don’t know the answer themselves. An underground organization hired them–and a few others. There are more murders to come. Now your hero isn’t trying to solve murders; your hero is trying to stop them. EEK! That’s a cliffhanger. 

Readers will be much more likely to trust your stories if you answer the main question posed at the beginning of your book. They know they might not get all the answers they want, but they know they’ll get a story that is satisfying, even in its twists. Whereas, in a Non-Ending Ending, they might ask themselves where the book is headed or how long the story will be stretched out. 

Don’t know which ending your book has?

Read other books. Have you ever been twenty pages away from the end and stopped, wondering how the author is going to wrap it ALL up? That’s either the best pacing ever or extremely poor pacing. Spoiler alert: It’s more often poor pacing.

Most of your story’s questions need to be wrapped up by the 75% mark. The subplots, the clues, etc. As your characters head into the climax, they need to know everything they are going to know about their opponent. Of course there might be that single plot twist that sparks the “hero is absolutely alone, hopeless, and at their lowest” part, but other than that, having your protagonist learn anything new after the 75% mark is going to feel convoluting, and it risks your ending spiraling out of control. 

So where do you throw in the cliffhanger?

Typically in the climax aftermath. 

Most writers have a natural cliffhanger buried somewhere in their work. I recommend taking a look at your main and secondary questions again. Typically, one of your secondary questions will serve as a lead-in to the next book. Make sure your cliffhanger is small enough that it doesn’t leave your reader feeling robbed of an ending, but big enough that they cannot resist the urge to pick up the next book to experience how your universe expands. Promise another story in that cliffhanger. This is also a great place to ask yourself what you have planned for book two. If book one’s cliffhanger is easily dismissed in the first few pages of book 2, it’ll feel cheap, and readers might put book 2 down before they’re invested in the next plot. Book one’s cliffhanger should lead us to the inciting incident of book 2. Example from our murder mystery: Book opens up with the detective tracking down the organization he believes hired the murderer. Instead of arresting, he poses as a hitman to infiltrate. He’s handed his first assignment… 

Now we’re invested in book 2, and the cliffhanger isn’t resolved. Rather, it’s evolved into a new story. 

A great cliffhanger will feel inevitable. 

A fantastic cliffhanger will appear right as the reader feels comfortable and believes the book is about to end with a satisfying conclusion.

Last piece of advice? All choices are valid. You don’t have to have a cliffhanger to have a fantastic book. Some readers love Non-Ending Endings. Some readers hate any type of cliffhanger. You can’t satisfy everyone all of the time, so make the decision you need to make to have a book you love. 

~SAT

2018: The Year of Writing Limbo

29 Dec

Last year I wrote this article—2017 Wasn’t My Writing Year—and I talked about failing my top three goals. Those goals were wanting an internship at literary agency, working for a library, and signing with a literary agent.

Every year, I write an article like this. But this year, despite struggling to find time to blog, I had to make myself follow up about this year. I mean, come on, I succeeded at one of my major goals! Two months after my past article, I was hired by the library, and last month, I was promoted and became full time. In regards to my other goals, I actually had the opportunity to speak to two literary agencies about internships this year, but with all my life changes going on, I had to back out. But hey, I’m still in contact with them about a future opportunity once life settles down.

This year, I didn’t make any goals for myself.Mainly because I realized how hard I was on myself last year due to the goals I created. In fact, I took a long, hard look at those goals and realized I shouldn’t have goals with uncontrollable results. Ex. “Signing with a literary agent” shouldn’t be a goal dependent on one year. The goal should’ve been “finish writing that new book,” or “query X amount of good fits this summer,” or “take a query workshop to improve your skills.” So, yes, signing with an agent is still a dream of mine, but I’ve learned how to redefine my goals overtime.

So what did I do this year to achieve my dreams?

To be honest, I barely wrote. I sent out a limited number of queries. I didn’t have a single publication come out for the first time in six years.

I could concentrate on the negative, or I could concentrate on this:

I was hired by the library, one of my dreams, and I was promoted eight months later. We moved into a better, healthier house and neighborhood, and my health is improving. I was featured in YASH (the Young Adult Scavenger Hunt) twice! I was invited to speak and sign books at the LitUp Festival, a YA festival run by teens. They were amazing, and I had so much fun. I even got to meet one of my memoir heroes, Ishmael Beah. Clean Teen Publishing released  Bad Bloods: November Snow as an audiobook, narrated by Jonathan Johns, and Minutes Before Sunset also released as an audiobook, narrated by Sarah Puckett and Steve Campbell. They were a blast to work with. I also signed books at the Local Author Fair here in Kansas City, and saw my books in a library for the first time. And I never stopped writing. I finished writing my first historical fantasy during NaNoWriMo, worked on lots of beta reader notes, beta read many books myself, and began writing my next sci-fi.

2018 highlights

So you know what? I did just fine, new publications or not, agent or not, internship or not.

I did my best every day, and I’m going to continue doing my best every day, and I feel pretty good about it in retrospect. Now, to be kinder to myself on a regular basis. I think I’d be a much happier, healthier person.

This is my only goal for 2019.

~SAT

SAT Update

1 Dec

So I thought I’d stop in and say hi since it’s been a while.

Since October, I had another huge life change that is pretty exciting. I accepted a full-time position at the library in marketing, as the Branch Programming and Community Engagement Associate, which means I am focusing on understanding our demographics and making sure everyone in our community is being served equally. I survived my first month! It’s been a blast, and I’m really looking forward to continuing this work. And before you panic, I am still providing my services, including editing. (What can I say? I’m a workaholic.)

The Local Author Fair

Last month, I signed books at the Local Author Fair in Kansas City, Missouri! It was so much fun. We even had pastries paired with our books. Mine was a mocha muffin (and they were delicious), so if you came out, I hope you had fun. In regards to future signings, I’m not actively pursuing events right now. Life’s just too crazy. But if something happens to come up and it works with my schedule, I’ll definitely show up with a smile. I’ll let you all know if I have another one.

I also participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time in my writing life. I’ve never been against NaNoWriMo, it just never felt like something for me. But with all these life changes happening, I’ve been feeling really bummed out about my writing, and I thought NaNoWriMo might help push me to put words down regardless. And I did! I was also able to host NaNoWriMo at my library, so that was fun! I learned what a five-headed Hydra word sprint was, and word wars, and so many other fun events. I’m now trying to host a Camp NaNoWriMo in July too.

In my personal life, I can gratefully say that we’ve finally moved everything. (Now to unpack.) But hey, life shouldn’t be so crazy anymore now that we’re settled. My health is improving, which is so relieving, and I am planning on continuing my tradition of end-of-the-year blog posts this month. For those of you who are new to my blog, I like to sum up the year at the end by sharing my top ten blog posts, writing journey summary, my favorite books, best new writing tools, and my publishing predictions. Granted, I’ll probably only share my favorite books and writing journey summary. But I hope you enjoy them regardless!

Happy Holidays, friends,

~SAT

CTP Free Book Weekend!

14 Sep

Hey, guys! I know it’s been a while. I miss blogging so much, not going to lie, but it’s still super hard to fit it into my schedule. Hopefully, one day. But today is a super fun day because my publisher Clean Teen Publishing is hosting a free book weekend! Below you can browse all the books CTP is offering for FREE this entire weekend, so go and grab them while you can. I also included a personal update.

CTP FREE BOOK WEEKEND

We’re one week away from Fall and CTP wants to celebrate with their Bring On Fall Free Book Sale and an Author Sponsored $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway! For one weekend only, they have selected a handful of titles throughout their different imprints that will be listed as free on Amazon from 9/14 to 9/16. This is a limited time promotion as the price will go back up to $4.99 on Monday. Take advantage of this exciting sale this weekend and Fall in love with some new books to cozy up with while you drink your Pumpkin Spice Latte, or tea, or wine, or whatever you love to sip on while reading. Enjoy!

FREE BOOKS AVAILABLE 9/14-9/16:

From YA to steamy romance, witches, queens and everything in between, there is sure to be something for everyone!

This group promo runs from 09/14/2018 to 09/16/2018 ONLY.

Some of the authors listed below are also offering Kindle Countdown Deals on their sequels, which means you can snag sequels or even a few series for the low, low price of $.99 each during this sale!

Get your Kindles ready, or download the Kindle App on your tablet or phone and prepare for an amazing FREE reading extravaganza!

HAPPY READING! LET’S BRING ON THE FALL Y’ALL!!!

Unspeakable - Michelle Pickett Vampires Rule - K.C. Blake The Woodlands - Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Skin And Bones - Susan HarrisResurgence - Sharonlee HolderThe Second Window - Erica Kiefer

Never Forgotten - Kelly RisserPrelude - Nely Cab

Queen of Someday - Sherry Ficklin

Minutes Before Sunset - Shannon A Thompson

Milayna - Michelle Pickett

Lady of Sherwood - Molly Bilinski

Dating An Alien Pop Star - Kendra L. Saunders

Dreamthief - Tamara Grantham

Extracted - Tyler H. Jolley & Sherry D. Ficklin

Crushed - Kasi Blake

Catalyst - Kristin Smith

Broken Fate - Jennifer Derrick

Bait - K.C. Blake

Aftermath - Sandy Goldsworthy

Bad Bloods - Shannon A Thompson

A Shine That Defies The Dark - Jodi Gallegos

 

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

Enter to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card sponsored by our amazing authors!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can’t see the Rafflecopter form? Click HERE to go straight to the form. Best of luck!

PERSONAL UPDATE

38720844_1838154042898435_6206065130963206144_oNow for the personal update. My health is getting slightly better. I’m actually on a new diet that requires two days to be liquid food only (crazy, right?), but it has been helping my malabsorption problem a lot, as well as keep pain and inflammation down. So if you have an awesome smoothie recipe, send it my way! I need more to try out. Meanwhile, the cats are fantastic, and I’m really enjoying working on two books near and dear to my heart. I finally finished writing my first historical novel, and got all my notes back from my lovely beta readers. It has a long way to go, but I’m getting closer every day. I’ve set a goal to finish the rewrites and edits by the end of the year. The other novel I’m working on is technically a new adult sci-fi/fantasy blend. (Here’s to hoping new adult becomes an accepted age category in the next few years.) I’m 20,000 words in. In other news, if you’ve been paying attention, then you know my social media has pretty much dissolved into pictures of books. But I hope everyone understands. There’s a lot going on right now. We had a close family member pass away this past week, and we found out we have to move as well. Both were pretty unexpected. This has been a super tough year. Here’s to hoping I’ll get back on track soon. I’m also still editing. So feel free to message me at shannonathompson@aol.com for a free editing sample or just to talk about my services. I’m also working at the library still, and I love it. I get to host NaNoWriMo at my branch this November, so I’m looking forward to that!

See you around,

~SAT

2017 Favorite Writing Tools

2 Dec

Toward the end of every year, I like to talk about my favorite books, but I thought I’d share my favorite new writing experiences, too. This list is based on tools I tried in 2017, not necessarily tools that released in 2017, but I hope you find it helpful anyway.

Website: MSWL

For those of you querying, MSWL (or Manuscript Wishlist) organizes agents, editors, and publishers by showing what they wish they’d receive in their inbox. Read profiles on the website or do a quick search on Twitter’s #MSWL. Sometimes wishes can get oddly specific, but don’t be discouraged. Specifics are not usually meant to be read as “this is the ONLY thing I want,” but rather a fun way to reach out to those perfect matches. Generalized wishlist items are mainly on the website profiles (and, of course, you should always visit the person’s main website). MSWL is a fun way to see what people are asking for. On top of that, they now have a fantastic newsletter, podcast, and classes. Even online pitch sessions! It’s a tool worth checking out, whether or not you’re querying. Any cons? Sometimes sketchy people show up. Always do further research on the agent, editor, or publisher.

Technology: Alphasmart Neo

After seeing the YA Gal post her Alphasmart Neo on Facebook, I had a flashback to middle school when these wireless keyboards were used in the classroom. I immediately wanted one for myself. Why? Because I spend all day on the computer at my job. My computer screen KILLS my eyes, and sometimes the Internet is too big of a distraction. I bought myself an Alphasmart Neo because I wanted to be able to write away from my technology…and I’ve used it so much it’s stupid. I absolutely love it, and wish I would’ve bought one earlier. Cons? I have major ADD. My mind skips all over the place when I’m writing, and scrolling/organizing can be a little difficult on a screen that only shows four lines at a time, so I’m mainly using it for first drafts/ideas. I also make a lot more spelling mistakes, but that could be because the keyboard is different than the one I’m used to, and, hey, I have to edit everything I write anyway, so no big deal. What’s an additional read-through?

App: SimpleNote

Last year, I downloaded Scrivener for the first time. Well, this year, I wanted to sync my Scrivener to my phone, but, as far as I know, Scrivener doesn’t have a phone app for Andriod yet. I did some research and landed on SimpleNote, which allows me to sync directly with my Scrivener. That way, I always have my books with me. Cons? You have to have some foresight as to what you want to take with you. It doesn’t automatically sync everything. You pick which file you want. But you can always create a new document and upload it later if you forgot to sync the file you want to edit.

Podcast: 88 Cups of Tea

Somehow I just discovered 88 Cups of Tea. How? No idea. Because I love it. If you want to listen to exclusive interviews with some of your favorite, big-name authors, this podcast is for you. It’s both casual and enlightening. Con? Sometimes I find interview titles misleading. Ex. An episode that says it will talk about X but they only discuss X for 10 minutes in a 50-minute episode. But if I could learn how to relax in my workaholic life, I don’t think this is an issue. In fact, being reminded that writers are people is incredibly important, and I appreciate how candid many guests get during discussions. So, if you love personal stories, this podcast is for you.

FB Group: AAYAA

I joined AAYAA this year at the suggestion of a friend, and I LOVE it. If you’re a young adult author, AAYAA is great. There’s a website, Twitter, and Facebook group, but I’ve found the FB to be my favorite place to go. It connects young adult authors together for insight, opportunities, and more. I’ve already made a couple friends, gained some new followers, and learned information that I didn’t know before. Con? Every once in a while, a troll might appear, but hey, that’s the Internet for you.

New Writing Tip?

Just last month, I attended the SCBWI conference. During the breakout session Revision—Preparing Your MG & YA Novel for Submission, Jennifer Soloway discussed so many amazing writing tips, but one in particular really stood out to me: They say to “Show, Don’t Tell”, but sometimes you have to do both. The example she used was a gasping girl with a pounding heart. Even in the context of the scene, a reader could interpret her emotions for fear, excitement, or a health condition. Sometimes it’s okay to say fear paralyzed a person or “I am terrified.” It’s about balance. I’ve been struggling with this a little bit in my writing lately. I have let traditional rules get in the way a little too much. This was a nice reminder. Con? Swinging too much the other way.

So these were my top new writing tools I used this year. Did you try anything out for the first time? Have any tips? Share away!

~SAT

A Writer’s Best Friend is Google

18 Nov

As an author, I LOVE helping fellow writers. In fact, I encourage writers to message me whenever they want with whatever questions they have. But don’t forget, folks.

Google is your best friend.

Recently, maybe due to NaNoWriMo, I’ve received A LOT more messages than usual. The most common one: “How can I get my book published?”

When I search “How can I get my book published?” on Google, the first three articles are actually pretty legit. One is about how to self-publish on Amazon. Another is a list of self-publishing tips by Forbes Magazine. The third is a step-by-step guide on how to get traditionally published. (No results were vanity presses, yay!) My favorite article that popped up toward the top was Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published by Jane Friedman.

If the writers who had emailed me had Googled their question first, they would’ve had these amazing articles at their fingertips…and as much as I wish I could deliver long, thoughtful pieces every time someone messaged me, I simply don’t have the time. I will ALWAYS try to point you in the right direction, but honestly, Google is often better.

Whether I’m researching publishing news or searching for information I’ll use in my books, Google is almost always open on my computer.

Don’t get wrong, though. I get it. I do. Publishing is hard. And there is so much information out there that it can be overwhelming/contradictory/seemingly impossible to navigate on your own. But guess what? 

Learning how to navigate your publishing journey is going to be key to your success.  

Why do I say that? Because I’ve been there. Publishing has confused the hell out of me, too. And I still have days where I get confused, because aspects of publishing constantly change. Knowing how to research and determine what is true/false/helpful/scam is going to save you a lot of time and pain. Asking others might not always work, because others also fall for false information and scams, so you need to be able to sift through information to form your own opinions. But don’t worry. You don’t have to navigate everything alone.

No one can get a book published by themselves. It takes a team to get a book from an idea to a draft to an editor’s pick to a novel on a shelf. There’s beta readers, proofreaders, sensitivity readers, reviewers, and more that will help you get from step one to step infinity. So you will need writer friends. You will even need their help. But before you message an author/editor/publisher, try to answer the question yourself. Why? Because you’ll probably find the answer to “How do I get my book published?” but then come across publishers that—no matter how much you research—you’re still unsure about. THAT is the perfect time to message a fellow writer (preferably a writer who is associated with said publisher) and ask them if they recommend that house.

If you are reaching out, specifics are a lot easier to answer. “Would you recommend this publisher?” is easier for me to give my opinion on than when I’m asked “What type of publishing should I go for?” A lot of questions I’m asked are, quite frankly, not answerable by anyone other than that writer. Choosing how to publish is a very personal choice. I can’t make that decision for you, no matter how much I want to help.

Show initiative in your pursuit of publication. Be brave. Research. But don’t read this article and think you can never reach out ever again.

If you were about to message me about how to publish, I won’t bite your head off. (Maybe just your fingers.) And I’ll still try to point you in the right direction—though there are lots of directions to consider.

Here are some of my favorite resources for writers.

Writer’s Digest: The go-to online resource for writers. If you’re starting out, set a goal to read a couple articles once a week.

Publishers Marketplace: This lists current sales and other important publishing news. Some pages on this website cost money, so if you can’t afford it, sign up for Publisher’s Lunch, which is free.

Janet Reid: She blogs every day about various topics and creates an amazing community of writers to rally behind. I still read her blog every day. It’s how I start my morning.

Pub Rants: A blog by Nelson Literary Agency. One of my all-time favorites. Her Agenting 101 class caught my eye in 2006, and I’ve been following it ever since.

BookEnds Literary Blog: Another blog from a literary agency. They talk about lots of topics as well, but mainly about getting agents and the publishing process afterward.

Query Shark: For learning how to query.

Query Tracker: For keeping track of querying. (This website is free, but you can also pay $25 per year to look at extra information.)

An Alliance of Young Adult Authors: Lots of helpful tips from fellow YA writers, whether you’re self-publishing or going traditional.

Oh! And right here. I try to blog about various writing and publishing topics every single Saturday. Use the search bar at the top of this page to look up topics I’ve discussed in the past. (Because, trust me, I’ve been blogging since 2012, I’ve probably covered it.)

If you have a topic you want to see me blog about, I always take suggestions. I’ll even blog about a topic I’ve discussed before if the article is outdated and/or not detailed enough. (And, yes, you can send the suggestion via email.)

But while you’re online, I suggest opening Google and becoming best friends again.

I think you’ll love the friendship more than you know.

~SAT

Take Notes While Writing a Series

11 Nov

While on Twitter the other day, writer A.J. Forrisi asked an amazing question!

P.S. Give A.J. a follow!

My quick answer? Take notes on your first book, so that writing the sequel isn’t as difficult. (And definitely do a read-through. ) I keep a character bible and chapter summaries for each book in a series. Notes help! But what type of notes should you take? How detailed should they be? Everyone’s method is going to be a little different, but I thought I’d share a couple places to start.

 1. Keep a Character Bible

This should cover all descriptors and main personality traits/issues. Personally, I keep a list of every single person mentioned in the book, even the tiniest characters. Why? Because that side character’s eye color is going to come up in book 1 on page 18 and in book 4 on page 127. It would take forever to read the entire series over and over again every time I need to find a detail. That being said, I still think you should read through your work multiple times. If you want to get fancy, take a note of the page number information is written down. That way, you can always double-check.

2. Organize Chapter Summaries

Sum up each chapter in a couple sentences. What happens? How does it change the book? If your book is heavy on revealing secrets, keeping track of what certain characters know will also help. That way, if those secrets move into book two, you don’t have to skim over and over again to find out where and what they learned. One thing I’m sure to emphasize in my chapter summaries is when certain characters make their first appearances. That way, I know when they entered the story (and the description tends to appear at the same time).

3. Other Notes to Consider

I keep a “General Resources” tab on my Scrivener. This is basically a sheet with links to educational websites on topics covered in book. (You know, in case I need a refresher, especially if I’ve taken a break between books.) I also keep a History sheet that tracks the years leading up to the book. Sometimes these events come up in the book, sometimes they don’t, but it’s good to know how my characters arrived at the first chapter. For fun and inspiration, I also keep a Pinterest board and a list of songs that remind me of my story. That way, if I’m finding it hard to get back into the series, I can connect with that original inspiration quicker.

Do you take notes between books? If so, what types?

Feel free to share your method!

~SAT

#MondayBlogs When NaNoWriMo is Over

28 Nov

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a lot of fun for many writers, and it can be that stepping stone that forces you to sit down and finish that draft you’ve been trying to complete for years. Whether you hit that 50,000-word milestone or not, I want to congratulate you, because—guess what??—you sat down, you got to work, and you wrote something that mattered to you.

That is worth celebrating.

But many writers might be asking themselves what to do now. Edit? Query? Write more?

The answer will be different for everyone, but here are my three universal tips for NaNoWriMo writers. (And, again, congratulations! You. Are. Awesome. Never stop writing.)

1. Do Not—and I repeat—DO NOT immediately start querying

NaNoWriMo’s goal is to get 50,000 words down. And while 50,000 words is certainly an accomplishment, it’s definitely a first draft. Querying now will only hurt you. In fact, working on a query letter at this point might not even be necessary—because a lot changes from a first draft to the final product—but that’s different for everyone. Sometimes, I like to write query letters before I write a book, just to make sure I understand my concepts and direction. This, of course, never becomes my final query or synopsis, but it helps to have a first draft of everything all at once. That way, I can see how my story changes and shapes over time.

So what are you supposed to do with a first draft?

Extra Tip: Make a plan. Set more deadlines, like NaNoWriMo. Maybe December can be drafting a query letter, synopsis, and pitch month.

Extra Tip: Make a plan. Set more deadlines, like NaNoWriMo. Maybe December can be drafting a query letter, synopsis, and pitch month. 

2. EDIT

Well, first, I normally tell writers to walk away for a little bit. Three weeks might seem like a long time, but it’ll distance you from your work…and your blind love might clear up. This is when you can see your plot holes, flat characters, and other flaws that definitely need fixing. Take word count for example. NaNoWriMo only requires a 50,000-word document, and while this is ideal for MG books, 50,000 words isn’t a great word count for an adult novel or even a YA fantasy. While 50,000 is an AMAZING accomplishment (please do not get me wrong), you’re more than likely going to receive automatic rejections because your word count is off. I know. I know. Word count isn’t everything. In fact, I think pacing matters more. But what’s the brutal truth for debuts? When your word count is off, it tells agents and publishers that you don’t know your genre or market (even if you do). Figure out your ideal word count here—and try to get it there. Don’t bank your entire career on being an exception to the rule.

3. Work on that query, synopsis, and pitch

Your novel isn’t the only piece of work needing attention. Now that you have a complete and edited draft, writing that dreaded query comes into play…and more often than not, query letters and pitches take just as long as editing does. Thankfully, there are plenty of helpful places to learn about this process, like QueryShark and the Query Critique Calendar (where you can get one-on-one help during competitions).

In the end, NaNoWriMo is a fantastic starting point, and you should be proud of your work and accomplishments. But it’s only one part of this wonderful journey. Take your time. Publishing is never a race. And make friends along the way.

Writing should be fun, after all. Try to enjoy all that comes along with it, including everything after THE END.

~SAT

#WW Writers Who Don’t Write

18 Nov

Recently, I came across an encouraging article by J.H. Moncrieff. And here you are: Writers, we need to stop saying this. To sum it up, Moncrieff speaks out against the phrase “Writers write” and encourages everyone to be more realistic. “Writers write whenever they can.” Way to go, Moncrieff!

I love that she posted this, and I love that she posted this during NaNoWriMo. Don’t get me wrong. I think NaNoWriMo is great—an exciting adventure for many—and it’s an opportunity to connect with others. I’ve never done it myself, mainly because I know in my gut that it isn’t right for me due to my own methods of writing. But I’ve seen a lot of writers have a lovely time. That being said, I’ve also seen a lot of pressure around joining it…and due to that pressure, I see a lot of writers feeling like they’re “less” of a writer for not joining NaNoWriMo or keeping up on their word count or attending other writing-related activities, like traveling to writing events or not writing in a certain genre or not posting on social media regularly or blah, blah, blah.

There is so much pressure out there to always be doing something and not enough acknowledgement in the writing community that writers are human too. We take days off. Some take years off. Hundreds deal with writer’s block, and everyone has personal issues that will disrupt them at some point in time.

Personally, I step away from my writing all the time, so I thought I’d share some of my times when I don’t write. It’s not that I’m giving up. It’s that I need to go sit outside and drink some coffee and listen to the wind for a while. (You know, Pocahontas style.) Maybe when I get inside, I need to cuddle with one of my three cats. (Or maybe one of my cats needs to cuddle with me.) Maybe I had a long day at work and I just want to roll around on my couch until I fall asleep. After all, I don’t write full time. I edit full time. And being on the computer all day sometimes makes it really difficult to get back on the laptop to write. Since I work the night shift now, I’ve recently felt guilty for missing the first half of #1lineWed every Wednesday. They start on Twitter as early as 7 a.m., and since I don’t go to bed until 4 a.m., I often don’t wake up until 1 p.m. So, even though it’s not a “necessity,” it’s something I enjoy, and my work schedule doesn’t correlate with it…but I still try.

Recent non-writing moments: Reading with my cat, baking, traveling, and crossword puzzles.

Recent non-writing moments: Reading with my cat, baking, traveling, and crossword puzzles.

Mainly, I know I always worry about the ever-present question lingering around this career I love so much. “When’s the next book coming out?”

Personally, I take this question as a compliment. Readers are excited for my next release? Yay! But I definitely don’t want to disappoint them. So, I sometimes lose it and turn into a red-eyed zombie at my laptop, trying to meet deadlines that aren’t even there. When this happens, I’m not even productive. I end up having to delete thousands of words because I was forcing rather than focusing, pushing keys rather than writing, and it’s difficult to know the difference some days.

Sometimes not writing is the best thing a writer can do. Sometimes writing is.

It’s all about knowing what is right for you.

~SAT

In my next newsletter, you’ll receive a Black Friday Sale for Seconds Before Sunrise book 2 in The Timely Death Trilogy, so be sure to sign up here, but if you need a head start on the first book and you just can’t wait for the others…

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1 (FREE)

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2

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Death Before Daylight: book 3

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SATurdate: Spectre, Presidents, MBTI Test, and More.

14 Nov

You all ready for some more updates? I know I said I would share the individual synopses for November Rain and November Snow during this post, but they are still in the editing process. Probably next week. 😉

What I’m Writing:

I’ve basically been working on the blurbs for my publisher in regards to Bad Bloods…BUTTTT I am returning to Take Me Yesterday, book 2 in The Tomo Trilogy shortly. This gives me the opportunity to remind everyone that you can ask me questions at any time via my Goodreads’ Ask The Author profile…which a reader did this week, asking about the sequel to Take Me Tomorrow. You can read that here, and you can ask your own questions here.

What I’m Publishing:

 Okay, for everyone who missed it, there was quite a lot of news released this week! The main announcement was the two-book deal I signed with CTP. That’s right. My next publication will be two books, both of which will be titled Bad Bloods. The first part is subtitled November Rain, and the second part is subtitled November Snow. If you want more information on why we’re doing this, read this blog post. They already have release dates too! November Rain will release July 18, 2016, and November Snow will release one week later. (The paperback will release that November.) I should have individual synopses for each book soon.

And…of course…here is a preview from the winning #1lineWed tweet. The theme of the week was “action/movement.”

The feline stretched before she strutted in, her orange fur gleaming as she leapt onto the windowsill.

I also just realized that Bad Bloods, which is centered on a presidential election, is coming out during a presidential election year. Pretty neat!

What I’m Reading:

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini: Not going to lie, I haven’t had a lot of time to read this week, mainly because of my services vamping up during NaNoWriMo. (You guys are doing awesome by the way!) That being said, I’m about halfway through this novel, and I might start another one this week.

What I’m Listening To:

My work desk has somehow been pushed against this picture frame on the wall, and any time I type too hard, everything around me squeaks.

What I’m Watching:

Spectre. I mean…of course I saw it. James Bond is a classic, although I have to admit I’m almost always rolling my eyes throughout these films. They’re like a guilty pleasure. Even though it’s basically the same formula every time, I still love them. I have to. I have no choice. That being said—and I don’t want to spoil anything about the film—there were a few aspects about this one I definitely thought was too much, mainly in regards to the cheesiness of the “love” story. I’m hoping they’ll let Daniel Craig go after this one too. I LOVE him, but I think he should be able to leave if he wants to, and I think he made a good point when he said he wasn’t sure what else he could bring to the franchise. Give someone else a chance to bring Bond to the big screen. I’m all over that.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel: Because, why not? I LOVE this movie. LOVE it. It’s brilliant. Everything about it is a delight. I’m so glad I own this one too, even though I probably watch it way too often. It was pretty fun to see Ralph Fiennes in Spectre too. Also, in the DVD version, they have extras, and they include the recipe to make Mendls cake…so expect me to bake that soon.

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

 12189942_934887766558405_6357613532321153491_nI fileted my first beef heart this week. That was lovely. (No. I’m serious. I had a great time. A crazy time, but a great time. I felt accomplished that I did it right…even though I had to look it up on YouTube.) My hunting father and brother would be proud. I also made chicken and lentil soup, and as many of you saw on my Facebook page, I baked strawberry oatmeal cookies. Healthy time!

 What I’m Wearing:

 New pants! I have new pants…and they are in my favorite color (dark red).

What I’m Wanting:

Mockingjay Part Two to release (because I want to cry). Star Wars: The Force Awakens to release (because I’m desperately wanting to see Luke turn evil). And The 5th Wave to release (because the book and Chloe Grace Moretz…and she’s also staring in The Little Mermaid, so eeeee). So many movies!

movmies

What I’m Dreaming Of:

Keira Knightly was married to this giant, hairy man-thing. (Not really a man. I have no clue what it was. Think Java the Hut.) Well, anyway, he was making her move, but Keira was like Bella from Beauty the Beast, and she loved going into town and singing about books. She was terribly worried how this would affect her, but Java the Hut promised her a ridiculous amount of honey butter in the new world, so she stopped singing, because she loved honey butter more than anything else. (Guys, my brain is crazy…but I think we can all agree that honey butter is fantastic.)

A young teenage girl, who was also my neighbor, was attending a funeral because her grandfather died. Then, 500 people dressed in funeral attire started marching up and down our block, and the girl hung out with my roommates and me. She asked how old I was, and when I told her 24, she was surprised, and told me everyone thought I was 17 and just didn’t want to hang out with them.

And last but not least, I owned this freakin’ GORGEOUS loft in a city somewhere, and I had this beautiful party happening…when someone wanted vinegar, and I left to go pick some up.

My brain is bizarre.

What Else Is Going On:

So, I took the MBTI test because an awesome friend (who I owe an interview still) asked me to. For those of you who want to know, I’m INTJ, a.k.a. The Architect, which I guess is crazy, because “INTJs form just two percent of the population, and women of this personality type are especially rare, forming just 0.8% of the population.” (Quote link.) So…I think I’m a fairy? A judgmental introverted but emotionless and intuitive fairy? I’m not sure. Vladmir Putin is apparently INTJ…which explains why I love photoshopped pictures of him riding bears shirtless. He must be my spirit animal. (And, yes, I’m kidding.)

~SAT

In my next newsletter, you’ll receive a Black Friday Sale for Seconds Before Sunrise book 2 in The Timely Death Trilogy, so be sure to sign up here, but if you need a head start on the first book and you just can’t wait for the others…

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1 (FREE)

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylight: book 3

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

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