Tag Archives: Netflix

Learning to Write from TV: The Umbrella Academy Edition

2 Mar

Writers are often told to read (and read a lot) in order to know how to write. And while I totally agree with that sentiment, I also think writers can learn from other forms of media. Yes, including TV shows. (Even TV shows adapted from a novel or comic book.) In fact, I think TV is often an easier reference for writers to discuss. Why? Because there are dozens of best-selling novels that come out every week, whereas there’s only a handful of TV shows that everyone seems to be talking about. Recently, for instance, the Netflix show The Umbrella Academy began to trend, and it seemed like everyone was chatting about it, including the publishing industry. Perhaps this is because it was adapted from a comic published by Dark Horse Comics. But what I want to concentrate on is how we can use popular TV to teach writers about trends, topics, and storytelling.

How can we use TV to discuss writing? By picking out the pros and cons, of course.

Here’s a few based on The Umbrella Academy.

umbrellanetflixcov

Also, major spoiler alerts begin here. I will discuss major events, including the ending, so if you don’t want this show spoiled, bookmark this article now and come back later. If you’re not planning on watching, I think this can still be a beneficial example of using TV to discuss writing. If you’ve already watched and don’t care about spoilers, awesome! But make sure to warn your followers of spoilers if you decide to share this piece.

Thanks for keeping entertainment fun!

Let’s start with a pro, since I like to concentrate on the positive:

Pro: Siblings with Personality

The Umbrella Academy follows seven children adopted by an eccentric billionaire after they were born in quite an unusual way. Six of these seven appear to have superpowers and are raised practicing these powers, with the seventh “ordinary” child being kept from lessons. That being said, the actual show takes place in their adult years. Rarely, do I see siblings depicted so realistically (especially in fantasy, especially in big families). Each sibling has their own personality, struggles, and place in the family. Even better? They treat each other differently based on their past selves, present relationship, and future desires. I really enjoyed watching the brothers and sisters bicker as much as joke, and lift each other up (while also pushing each other down). You know, complications. Too often we see a brother or sister appear in a minor supporting role with little to no depth or personal drive. And we definitely don’t see enough big families. I absolutely loved them and thought they were believable, round characters. (My only complaint on these particular siblings was the relationship between Allison and Luther. Non-biologically related siblings who have romantic tension isn’t necessarily my issue. My issue is that I found it uncomfortable, based on the fact that they were raised from birth together, as compared to similar tensions found in cases where they were not raised together, i.e. Avery and Atlas in The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee.) But that is a personal preference and a different discussion for another day.

Con: Female Tragedy for Male Depth

Far too often female characters suffer trauma, including death, in order to push male characters forward. Now, I’m not saying female characters cannot suffer, or die, but when the suffering of a female character (or any minority character) exists solely to push the male character into growth, then I’m not happy. This particularly happens with Diego, whose girlfriend Eudora dies for no other reason than to have Diego question his purpose, not once, but a number of times. When it isn’t Eudora pushing him, then it’s his mother, a robot, who he has to turn off at one point. A simple solution would’ve been emphasizing Diego’s desire to make his childhood suffering mean something by becoming a superhero (though this is only mentioned once, by – you guessed it – Eudora, right before she dies), while highlighting Eudora’s personality as someone who always had to follow the rules, who then dies when she finally agrees to break the rules (though this only happens, because – you guessed it again – Diego dared her to). Ultimately, these topics were barely touched in comparison to Diego’s rage over her death. This caused an uncomfortable situation where the male character could not grow without two female characters being hurt, or more specifically, killed. This also happens later in the show with Luther and Allison, as Luther consistently decides he exists in order to protect her by forcing his decisions on her. Not to mention Allison gets her throat slit once, which further takes her voice away. Now, granted, I will acknowledge that Allison’s powers exist in her ability to speak, so her losing her voice is far more symbolic than just Luther trying to oversee her decisions, but the combination of Luther’s lack of boundaries mixed with her silence bothered me. (Probably because the other brothers become complicit in it.) In contrast, the female characters are not driven by male pain. Allison is driven by her daughter, and Vanya is driven by her need to be accepted. The only instance where we see a female character driven by male pain is with Vanya, who reacts violently when her boyfriend “Peter” is hurt in a fake fight. Even then, though, the ultimate attention is averted from Peter and placed back on Vanya’s inability to control her powers. This sort of emphasis could’ve easily gone the other way with the male characters as well. Basically, it’s not about one gender causing another gender to react, but rather the emphasis at which it is focused on and what it means. We can do better.   

Pro: Humor Mixed in with the Serious

We do not have enough humor in fiction. That goes for flat-out humor books, as well as humor sprinkled throughout other genres. It’s one of the reasons I often find 600-page fantasy novels exhausting. (Which, by the way, is the main type of book I read.) I have found that the fantasy novels I love the most include moments of quiet, as well as humor (and from numerous characters and situations). The Umbrella Academy kills with their humor, especially with Klaus. I wish I could expand (because my negative sections feel longer than my positive), but this love is pretty straight-forward. I want more humor in everything.  

Con: Villains Suffering From Mental Health and Broken Homes

Listen, I get it, villains are supposed to be evil, and evil things can happen because of untreated mental illness. I’m not denying that. However, evil comes from non-mentally ill places as well, but modern entertainment is still leaning towards one more than the other, especially when it comes to female characters. I feel like it’s an overused trope, especially when clear lines aren’t drawn and discussed. The worst part for me in The Umbrella Academy is how unclear they made Vanya, especially when using her childhood flashbacks. It is never clarified if her powers are causing her to kill or if she, herself, has mental health issues and those issues were exacerbated by her powers, not to mention her father’s decision to cover her powers up without telling her even into adulthood. By not clarifying, especially when she begins to hallucinate (something that could be seen as schizophrenia), the art is setting up viewers to interpret mental health vs. evil, or even blending them, and I don’t like that message. We need to do better when it comes to depicting mental health. Take the time to clarify, even it means clarifying that no one truly knows. Without that, we will continue to get the same images, in this case, a young Ellen Paige discussing anxiety and nerves while shakily popping pills, then adding a montage of killing nannies as a child before she was on medication, (when no one else is depicted to be using medication or to have anxiety or anything), and that’s unacceptable. On a side note, I also hate that the male villain comes from a broken one-parent home. Is it just me, or is the only “positive” depiction of one-parent homes in popular entertainment Gilmore Girls? I’m probably biased, because I grew up in a one-parent home after my mother suddenly died. My dad raised me, and he is awesome. (I’m obvs. sick of seeing deadbeat dads, too.) Most of all, I’m really, really tired of watching motherless children become the epitome of evil, while orphans become heroes. Not that orphans can’t be heros, but why is it that losing two parents equals a superhero cape and adventure, and losing one means anger and doom? And where are the villains who come from “good” homes? And the heroes with two parents? And, and, and. We need more variety.   

giphy-2

Pro: Mashup of Tropes

The Umbrella Academy is a master of mashing up common tropes in unique ways. What do I mean by that? Well, as most writers know, nothing is new. With hundreds of years of literature behind us, everything has been done before. Writing isn’t about creating something no one has created before, because – spoiler alert – someone has created it. Instead, writing is about creating something new by using what we already have in unique ways. And The Umbrella Academy kills it, specifically with science fiction and fantasy tropes. To name a few, we have superheroes saving the world, a boy who sees dead people, a time-traveler, a monkey who has been experimented on until it’s more human than monkey, and a girl who thinks she doesn’t have powers (but, duh, she does), who is also the person who can’t control their powers. We’ve seen these characters and abilities depicted dozens of times. So how was this show unique? Let’s look at Klaus, the boy who sees dead people. Instead of trying to scare the viewer with Klaus’s powers (think Fifth Sense), The Umbrella Academy focuses on how Klaus himself is scared and how he has coped (or failed to cope) with his powers. Not to mention his dead brother Ben who follows him around to try to help him cope with his drug abuse. Learning to utilize tropes is an important aspect of writing in any genre, and I’d point any sci-fi/fantasy writer toward The Umbrella Academy for a lesson on that. In fact, I could probably write another ten pages on every trope the show used and how it spun it in a fun, entertaining way. But I’ve already rambled enough on here.

Netflix Hargreeves GIF by The Umbrella Academy - Find & Share on GIPHY

Con: Non-Ending Endings

There’s a big difference between a cliffhanger and a non-ending. Cliffhangers leave the reader or viewer wondering what will happen to the characters after the ending wraps up most (if not all the questions) posed at the beginning of the book or show. A cliffhanger is a hand popping up from a grave after the characters killed the villain, only for the villain to come back to life. A non-ending ending is when the villain and the hero are finally facing off and someone holds up a gun and shoots, but we never see where the bullet goes or who shot the gun or if it did anything at all. In my opinion, I felt like The Umbrella Academy has a non-ending ending. The entire time it’s focused on surviving this impending apocalypse, only for when it hits for them to disappear to some mysterious non-named time period in the past due to their time-traveling brother. It feels really cheap. Honestly, I think it could’ve been a cliffhanger if they had showed us exactly what time period they went to. Or even their childhood with the father standing before them, ready to train Vanya with them instead of ostracizing her. It would wrap everything up, but would still make us wonder if the solution would work. The fence between a cliffhanger and a non-ending ending is thin, but I feel like creators have begun to favor non-ending endings more than actual cliffhangers, and it drives me crazy. (And not in a good way.) I love cliffhangers. I’m happy to be enticed to the next season. But don’t make me feel like I wasted my time by telling me nothing by the end either.

In non-writing related notes: I loved the soundtrack and cinematography and the storyline in general. In fact, they played one of my favorite writing songs (“Run, Boy, Run” by Woodkid) and even made it the title of Episode 2. (If you haven’t watched the music videos for Woodkid’s entire album, do it now. It’s pure art.) I also loved the sets and directing style of nearly every scene. And not going to lie, I was super happy to see Hazel and the donut lady end up together. (I’ve never been so invested in a side characters before.) The show is super entertaining, and I’d highly recommend it to sci-fi/fantasy fans. I enjoyed myself a lot, and actually made the time to finish all 12 episodes (which is rare for me). I would definitely check out another season. And I felt like I was reminded of a lot of writing skills.

So do you think writers can learn from watching and discussing TV and movies?

If so, what shows do you think are good examples?

Tell me about them!

~SAT

 

#SATurdate: Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Jane Got a Gun, Sausage Party, & Galaktaboreko

3 Sep

What I’m Writing:

I worked with some awesome writers this week on various projects! I’m keeping my fingers crossed about the future, because I love, love, love where everything is going. All that being said, I work with a lot of writers from all kinds of backgrounds every day. So many of us are not full-time writers, and I know how it feels to work numerous jobs and still try to find time to write. When I finished my first novel, I was a full-time student with a full-time job, so most of my writing time happened in fifteen-minute breaks behind a hostess stand at a sports bar. I still work a full-time job now. 😀 So, please don’t give up hope.

What I’m Publishing:

Sue’s Reading Corner reviewed Bad Bloods this week, and said, “November Snow was amazing!” I’m still working on the Bad Bloods sequel, so once I know more information, I’ll post it! I will say this, though. I worked on it extensively. I know I sort of froze at 38,000 words two weeks back, but it’s a good thing. Trust me. I need to rework it, and it’s coming along beautifully.

November Rain (FREE)

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow,

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads 

What I’m Reading:

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

I finished Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. I laughed, I cried, and I was terrified! The third novel in The Raven Cycle is even bigger and better than the first two (which is saying a lot)! These books are amazing. In particular, I enjoyed the creepy depths of the caves juxtaposed against the new (sometimes obnoxious, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes psychotic) characters we met. What a great continuation! I cannot wait to read The Raven King. Recommend to fans of magical realism, paranormal romance, and fantasy. Readers who want their imagination stretched and their fears confronted. Oh, and a little psychic fun. Favorite Quote? Weapons and poetry go hand in hand.

I also started Rook by Sharon Cameron, and I couldn’t help myself from buying more books. I went to the bookstore and bought The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele. I read the first chapter of that and The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee, and I cannot wait to read those in the near future!

What I’m Listening To:

Melanie Martinez’s double feature music video released! I love her.

What I’m Watching:

Jane Got A Gun

Jane Got A Gun

I saw Sausage Party and Jane Got a Gun this week. Jane Got a Gun is on Netflix, much to my surprise, because it’s fairly new. But that movie is fantastic, albeit a bit difficult to watch at times due to violence. But I loved the well-structured plot, the old Western feel, and the dusty, dirty imagery. I grew up watching old Westerns, because of my father (who still watches them all the time). One thing I never liked about those old Westerns was how all the women (or almost all of them) seemed like damsels in distress. I highly doubt women of that time period were weak at all. So, it was nice to see a tougher, believable chick, even though bad things definitely still happen to her. (I also love Natalie Portman.)

So, now Sausage Party. Not going to lie, it was just not my thing. It basically makes fun of some pretty offensive stereotypes, so if you’re into that, you’ll enjoy the movie. But it just made me uncomfortable.

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

Rook by Sharon Cameron

Rook by Sharon Cameron

Galaktaboreko! Granted, I did not make this lovely dessert. (A lovely lady did.) But it is basically the best dessert ever. Between that and a collection of baklava, I have wayyyy too many sweets in my house right now. (Yay, for roommate birthdays.) That being said, I also sort of promised I would stop baking desserts for a little while, because I’ve been giving away too much sugary desserts to everyone I know. Guess it’s time to pull out the veggie plates and hummus.

What I’m Wearing:

 Boo Boo the cat

Boo Boo the cat

Blue! Boo Boo the cat was all over my writing gig this week. We went out on the rooftops with a notebook and imagined new worlds and new characters and new everything. We had a pretty blue day. And by blue, I mean awesome. I’ve missed climbing rooftops. I’m glad the rooftop weather is back!

What I’m Wanting:

American Horror Story! (Come on, tell us what this season is about before it starts!) All of these teasers are killing me! I mean, did you see that doll? I think the teaser that freaked me out the most was the spider in the mouth. I mean, I know that’s probably someone’s super trained pet that loves them dearly…but spiders. ::shudders:: I am terrified of them.

American Horror Story Season 6

American Horror Story Season 6

What I’m Dreaming Of:

It rained a lot this week, so I’m assuming this is why I had a flood dream where I risked my life to save all of the kittens in Kansas City. I was successful, too! Yay, kittens!

What Else Is Going On:

My oven is finally fixed! Which means you can expect more baking posts in the near future. I even got my hands on a dessert book for this purpose. Nom nom nom.

~SAT

#SATurdate: The Secret Life of Pets, #1 YA Sci-Fi, Noble My Love, Criminal, & Aerie

13 Aug

What I’m Writing:

Wattpad Ami's Story

Wattpad Ami’s Story

While I’m dutifully writing in Bad Bloods: July Thunder/Lightning, I also had to take a step back and work on some other projects this week, mainly Dreammare, which was awesome. That being said, I’m 38,740 words into July Thunder/Lightning, and hit a bit of a snag (but in a good way). I had to concentrate on making a more precise timeline and will continue to do so. Also, my characters tend to reveal tricky things about 40,000 words in that I never planned, so I might have to go back and change the beginning. I’m looking forward to it! So far, I’m also continuing the Bad Bloods Prequel on Wattpad, so I wrote Ami’s story this week. She is the only bad blood character who was from the Highlands before joining the Southern Flock. What is the Highlands? It’s a fenced-off area in the center of Vendona, notoriously known as the “richer” area of the city. Her story also becomes a bigger deal in Bad Bloods: November Snow, sooooo…read it. 😉

What I’m Publishing:

#1 in YA Sci-Fi

Bad Bloods is now available! In fact, Bad Bloods: November Rain is #1 in the YA Sci-Fi Free Kindle Store (and #130 overall)! Thank you for reading.

November Rain

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow,

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads

Bad Bloods Bookstagram

Bad Bloods Bookstagram

I love it when you send me photos of Bad Bloods and The Timely Death Trilogy! This beautiful one is from Instagram’s @frazzledfairybooks. Stop by Amanda’s page and say hello.

This #1lineWed theme was enough, so here is your preview: Maybe it was a strong word. Maybe it wasn’t strong enough.

What I’m Reading:

Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray

Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray

Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray! I couldn’t help myself. I’m still reading An Ember in the Ashes and Sea of Stars, but I just NEED to continue the Firebird series. That being said, I’ve had little to no free reading time this week. As an editor, most of my reading has been during work and I’ve been working overtime…though I did find time to read a stupid amount of conspiracy theories this week, mainly John Titor, the time-traveler from 2036 who posted on web forums in 2001. (It’s a guilty pleasure of mine. I just can’t help myself.)

What I’m Listening To:

The podcast Criminal is my latest obsession. It’s pretty interesting and an easy listen. If you’re interested in crime, this one is a good podcast. It covers various types—like counterfeit money and murderous pigs—and is about 20 minutes a piece, so just long enough to do the dishes. The strangest part of listening to this podcast was stumbling upon Episode 6, which covers the shootings of Glenn Miller in Overland Park, KS. He killed three people in 2014, and if you followed my blog back then, I actually lived close enough to the shootings that I heard the sirens. (Here’s that article: Writing Tips: Dealing with Controversy.) One of the victims even attended the same high school I graduated from. Hearing his family speak was pretty surreal. I definitely recommend this podcast.

What I’m Watching:

While everyone went out and saw Suicide Squad this week, I saw The Secret Life of Pets. What? I want to see Suicide Squad—I do—but I needed something light, silly, and fluffy in my life, so a pet movie was my choice…and I was satisfied. It was pretty darn cute.

The Secrets Life of Pets

The Secrets Life of Pets

I also binge-watched Noble, My Love, which is a South Korean drama about a CEO and a veterinarian falling in love. Don’t judge me. I’ve been obsessed with South Korean dramas lately. 

Noble, My Love

Noble, My Love

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

apple pie bread pudding

apple pie bread pudding

I baked apple pie bread pudding this week, which was awesome. Hard to photograph though.

What I’m Wearing:

Sticky Notes. I’m buried in them. And I need to use more of them, ASAP.

What I’m Wanting:

Aerie by Maria Dahvana Headley

Aerie by Maria Dahvana Headley

Aerie by Maria Dahvana Headley! I LOVED Magnolia, and you can read my five-star review by clicking here. I’ve been looking forward to this sequel since July of 2015. If you haven’t read it, check it out.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

I went to Rome, but forgot that hotels were necessary, so I emptied out a famous fountain…and I slept in it.

That was it.

What Else Is Going On:

I went to a Royals baseball game with my dad and his friends this week…which means I—GASP—left my house…and went out in the sun…and SURVIVED.

Okay. It was fun.

~SAT

#SATurdate: Book Release, Stranger Things, A Thousand Pieces of You, & Swiss Army Man

23 Jul

What I’m Writing:

First and foremost, Dreammare—my YA fantasy—moved on in Adventure’s in YA Publishing’s Red Light / Green Light writing competition! That means I’m in the TOP FIVE! I am thrilled to be here, and I’ve loved reading everyone’s work so far. Next week, the winner is announced, and honestly, these manuscripts sound bomb. Check them out. Also, you’ll get to see more of what Dreammare is about.

I’m writing Bad Bloods 3—July Thunder/Lightning—and though I’m aiming for it to be one book instead of two this time, the Bad Bloods books are generally 600-800 pages long, which is why it has two titles like November Rain and November Snow. If you’re reading Bad Bloods: November Rain—because it’s OFFICIALLY OUT—then you might pay attention to the wall separating the Highlands and the outskirts. Bad Bloods 3/4 will focus on this part of the political spectrum. If you’ve read Bad Bloods, then you know a huge factor of my latest work was WWII and the horrendous genocide of many types of people. The next Bad Bloods book is no different. I’m definitely influenced by major political events of the world and history, so the Berlin Wall largely affected this next segment. If you want to learn more about the Berlin Wall—because something I quickly realized while writing this book is how much I DON’T know about the Berlin Wall—watch this short documentary. I will try to release new information about the book every week. I’m currently 10,129 words in and on July 4, 2090. Also, I wrote Blake’s origin story for the FREE Bad Bloods Prequel on Wattpad, so if you ever wondered how a blond-haired, blue-eyed baby boy ended up in the Northern Flock (and how a preteen flock handled it), it will release July 29. My goal is to also have a prequel for July Thunder/Lightning, because trust me, you’re getting a whole new cast of characters there, too.

What I’m Publishing:

RELEASE99cBAD BLOODS: NOVEMBER RAIN IS OUT! (Is all capitals reasonable? I think so!) For release week only, you can get Bad Bloods: November Rain for only .99¢! That’s quite the steal…especially since Bad Blood: November Snow releases THIS Monday!

What is the latest reader saying?

“I was in love with this novel right from the first page. It’s such a page turner and definitely a unique concept. I haven’t read anything like it so far. I love how fast paced and intense it is.” –Teen Book Lit 101

Bad Bloods: November Rain OUT NOW!

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads

Bad Bloods: November Rain book reviews

Bad Bloods: November Rain book reviews

What I’m Reading:

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

I picked up and finished A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray in one sitting. This book is sci-fi perfection. I cannot believe I waited so long to finally read it, because it is officially one of my favorite reads so far this year. I already cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel, but I highly recommend this book if you love YA sci-fi, multicultural casts, and romantic subplots. Also, dimensional travel! Are you kidding me? This book is awesome. Basically, you jump from dimension to dimension—worlds only slightly different from ours—and you jump straight into yourself. So, you control your other life…which has some interesting effects. Though the premise and protagonist is interesting enough to propel the story forward, the overhanging mystery of a murder is engaging and thrilling. The ending is satisfying. I absolutely recommend this read. Favorite Quote? I meant it when I said I didn’t believe in love at fight sight. It takes time to really, truly fall for someone. Yet I believe in a moment. A moment when you glimpse the truth within someone, and they glimpse the truth within you. In that moment, you don’t belong to yourself any longer, not completely. Part of you belongs to him; part of him belongs to you. After that, you can’t take it back, no matter how much you want to, no matter how hard you try. Read my full five-star review here.

I’m also starting An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, so expect that review next week.

What I’m Listening To:

The female protagonist of Bad Bloods: July Thunder/Lighting picked her favorite song, and she has not let go of it.

What I’m Watching:

Like everyone else this week in the Netflix world, I binge-watched Stranger Things, and I LOVED it. I mean, I wished we had more small town stories in fiction. Considering 90% of the US doesn’t live in Chicago, New York, or LA, I’m amazed that 90% of fiction seems to only take place in the big cities. Watching this Indiana paranormal/horror tale was awesome, and I loved how nostalgic everything felt. Down to the cinematography, Stranger Things FEELS like the 80s. Definitely recommended.

Stranger Things on Netflix

Stranger Things on Netflix

To celebrate release day, I went to the theatre and saw Swiss Army Man. Honestly, I had no clue how I would feel seeing this movie. (Farting is not my type of humor.) But without a doubt, I would recommend this movie to pretty much anyone. It’s hilarious, it revolves around philosophy, and the ending is phenomenal as much as it is emotional. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but the ending is both fantastic and sad—and it opens room for really important discussions. A must-see film.

Swiss Army Man movie

Swiss Army Man movie

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

As per tradition, I baked chocolate chip cookies on book release day.

What I’m Wearing:

I wore my Pokemon T-shirt this week, which was really bizarre. I mean, I wear this shirt all the time. I bought it two Halloweens ago, and nearly everyone scoffed at it. Now that Pokemon Go is out, I couldn’t be cooler. I even had a discussion with a stranger at the grocer store about it, which basically went like this.

Stranger: “I mean, everyone’s into this stuff now.”

Me: “I’ve always been into this stuff.”

Stranger: “You don’t look like someone who would be.”

Awkward pause as I considered not responding

Me: “I’m not sure there’s a ‘look’ to someone’s hobbies. I mean, I have a Sailor Moon collection at home.”

Stranger: “REALLY? No way.”

Me: “…Yes. What’s the big deal? Not everyone is going to like Game of Thrones. Not everyone is going to like Pokemon. We can all just like what we like and get over it.”

Stranger: “Good point.”

Conversations like this really throw me off guard. I’ve always loved what I love. I feel sorry for those who don’t. I feel sorry that we live in a society that shames people for liking things like books, arts, and movies.

So, I hope you’re enjoying something you love today.

What I’m Wanting:

Well, obvs. I want Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

There was this magical world divided into four sections, but the ones discussed were basically heaven, hell, and earth, though they didn’t work like our belief system. You could visit any of them at any time, and it had nothing to do with death and life. It was more symbolic than anything. Though, I played the part of this blond girl who’d been turned into a vampire? Which meant I had to live in hell, of course, and my best friend needed to escape to heaven, so we were going to escape together. We built this crazy slingshot, but it only shot him into heaven and I got stuck in hell. Yepp-ee! Eventually, I made more friends, and we moved to earth legally and without any problems, but my best friend didn’t know I was a vampire somehow? So when he came down from heaven to see me, he was shocked but ultimately didn’t care, because his sister was missing. (I know. This makes no sense.) So, we all went on this otherworldly adventure to this fairy’s house, and we had to climb a bunch of gigantic flower pots that had miniature water falls. And the entire time I kept thinking, Of course this would be a fairy’s house…and it’s really not handicap accessible. Which is messed up. But we finally got inside, where the fairy was throwing a birthday party for her daughter. (I also noticed this home plan was completely open, no walls, no room unattached from another.) Most curious of all, the fairy didn’t know why we came in through her garden. The front door was easier. ::facepalm:: I woke up.

What Else Is Going On:

I went to the bookstore to get my hands on Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray, but Barnes & Noble didn’t have it in stock, so I told customer service about it. Why? Because bookstores and libraries largely design their bookshelves based on what readers ask for. If you visit a store and they don’t have a book you want in stock, please tell them! It helps authors, publishers, bookstores, and YOU out. ❤

~SAT

#SATurdate: Good Morning Call, Bad Bloods 3, Top Ten, & Serial

16 Jul

What I’m Writing:

My YA fantasy, Dreammare, moved onto the third round of Adventure’s in YA Publishing’s Red Light/Green Light competition! That means I’m in the top ten! Read the opening page here. This week, I also wrote in BB, which is my second attempt at a contemporary YA, but I only have the first chapter done. I definitely believe in the story, but I’m not sold on myself writing it yet. Sometimes, we need more tools in our pocket before we can build something, and that might mean twenty more weeks of research for this bit. In bigger news, I’m DEFINITELY writing the next Bad Bloods book. Because of your raving reviews, Clean Teen Publishing already gave me the thumbs up to continue the series, and since I already have a draft from when I was 12 (eek! It’s terrible), I’m really excited to tackle this rewrite of an old project, too. So far, it’s titled July Thunder / July Lightning (but I’m aiming to make this one book instead of two). It takes place in July of 2090, and it will be told by two different characters, one of which you’ll recognize from November Rain and November Snow, and another who is completely new to the series. I’m 7,350 words in, three chapters deep, and working on the outline extensively. So far, the biggest hurdle is letting go of the focus of some of the original characters and allowing the current protagonists to focus on themselves and their story. You will see the members from the old cast as well as completely new characters and sections of Vendona. Most exciting of all will be an emphasis on Eastern Vendona, which I’ll talk a little about below.

What I’m Publishing:

Photo by The Bookworm Who Lived!

Photo by The Bookworm Who Lived!

We’re two days away from the book release of Bad Bloods: November Rain! I’m DYING from excitement. In fact, yesterday, Clean Teen Publishing let me know that we’re already on a second print run, even though the book isn’t out yet! This is big news. So, thank you for your support!

What are the latest readers already saying?

“I’m so hooked on this story and I am excited to start November Snow as soon as I’m done writing this review. I definitely recommend this book!”The Bookworm Who Lived

November Rain was a great read. The plot and the characters were pretty interesting and I was hooked from the very first page. The writing was smooth and easy to read and the pace was fast throughout the book. I easily finished this book in two sittings, it was hard to put it down. I am so excited to read the next part and see what happens! Recommend it? Yes!” –Daydreaming Books

Wattpad: Niki's Story

Wattpad: Niki’s Story

Since I spoke about Eastern Vendona above, you will love this news. Niki’s origin story released on the FREE Bad Bloods Prequel on Wattpad this week! You can read it here, and most of her story takes place in Eastern Vendona. Who is Niki? She is one of the higher ups in the Southern Flock, but before she joined, she was sold to a black-market psychic on the sunken bay. The sunken bay is a crime city in Eastern Vendona that literally sits on the beach leading to the ocean, but the ocean is poisoned with oil and other environmental issues. In fact, it’s one of the worst places to live, and though it plays a minor role in Bad Bloods: November Rain and Bad Bloods: November Snow, a large portion of the Bad Bloods sequel will take place in Eastern Vendona, so this story is a bit of a sneak peek. My goal is to finish the draft in two months and edit it before November for (hopefully) another July release. I mean, how cool would it be to have July Thunder release in July? (Especially since it’s the July after an election.) We will see…

The #1lineWed theme was “water” so here is your weekly preview:

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads

Visit the Pinterest and Facebook Pages.

Preorder Bad Bloods

Preorder Bad Bloods

What I’m Reading:

The Last Star by Rick Yancey

The Last Star by Rick Yancey

I finished The Last Star by Rick Yancey, and UGHHHHH, I’m so incredibly torn up after finishing this trilogy’s finale. It’s fantastic, it’s heartbreaking, it’s thrilling, and it’s…incredibly frustrating. I love how symbolic Rick Yancey’s voice is. I love how diverse his characters are. I love how REAL his sci-fi, apocalyptic alien takeover feels. And I think the ending was perfection. It was flawless. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m going to leave it at that, but if you haven’t started this alien sci-fi trilogy, pick up The 5th Wave today and check it out. It’s a thrilling ride you won’t forget. Recommended to sci-fi lovers who enjoy apocalyptic settings, alien takeovers, and mind-blowing twists. Must love metaphors. Must love numerous POVs. Must love surprises. Favorite Quote: For some, death is the midwife to faith. For others, it is faith’s executioner. Read my full five-star review by clicking here.

What I’m Listening To:

Serial Podcast

Serial Podcast

Okay. Okay. I’m FINALLY listening to the Serial podcast. I’m only on episode three, but holy bejeebes. I’m addicted.

What I’m Watching:

Speaking of addictions, I spent nearly all my free time watching Good Morning Call on Netflix. (Seriously. Each episode is 45 minutes long, and I finished all 17 episodes this week. I couldn’t stop myself. Not even a little bit. My writing time suffered, and I don’t even regret it one bit.) Good Morning Call is a Japanese romantic drama show based off a manga I’ve actually read, and I LOVED it. It’s super cheesy, it’s super ridiculous, and it’s super hard to stop watching. Even parts where the feminist inside me cringes, I have to admit I love. It’s such a guilty pleasure that I highly recommend, though you must be willing to read captions. The story follows a high school girl who finally gets her own apartment only to realize she’s been caught up in a rental scam and must room with the worst lover boy from her school…though maybe he’s not so bad, after all.

Good Morning Call

Good Morning Call

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

I made chili in the crock pot this week! But I have tons of plans on future desserts for this upcoming weekend. (My weekend is Sunday-Tuesday, by the way. I live in opposite land.)

What I’m Wearing:

Kiki and I were pretty in pink this week on Instagram.

What I’m Wanting:

La La Land with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. I have the BIGGEST crush on Emma Stone. She’s perfect. Oh, yeah. And Gosling. I guess he’s okay, too. 😉

What I’m Dreaming Of:

So, do you all have reoccurring rooms in your dreams? I do. Which I’m not sure is normal or not. But I have this one room that (and this is going to sound stalkerish, because it is) that is dedicated to Lily Collins. (WHAT? I love her. SO WHAT?) So, I visit this room in my dreams, for some reason, and it’s just filled with fan art, but this time, it was destroyed, and I was distraught, so I picked up what I could, and then, as I was leaving, I realized the back lights were on…which is weird. Because these lights have never been on. Then, I remember I’ve “sold” this room (apparently in a dream I can’t recall), and the new owner is there WITH AN AXE. So he hits me on the head.

Yep.

I woke up.

What Else Is Going On:

My new author photos are on the way! But I can’t believe we’re only two days away from the Bad Bloods book release! Thanks for your support!

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

Visit the Pinterest and Facebook Pages.

~SAT

#SATurdate: Independence Day Resurgence, The Last Star, & PokemonGO

9 Jul

What I’m Writing:

Unfortunately, I’m still in a writing slump. Right when I think I’m getting my footing somewhere, I feel like it slips out from under me. That being said, I’ve reached a point in the Bad Bloods Prequel (which is free on Wattpad, hint hint) that I’ve had to start writing more information in the stories to come. So, I wrote Niki’s story this week, and it will release on July 15!

I also started Take Me Never! Take Me Never is the third book in the Tomo Trilogy, and while none of the books in this trilogy are currently available, I have not given up on it yet. (And I never will.) I’m 3,099 words into it and desperately searching for rap music. If you have rap music suggestions, send them my way. Sophia loves it. As a hint, we are currently up in the air. (And Sophia doesn’t like it very much.)

I want to give a shout out to Renee Elaine for tweeting out the sweetest encouragement a writer can get. She read last week’s Saturdate post and wished me luck in beating this writing slump, and I promise I will! Thank you for your encouragement. ❤

What I’m Publishing:

We’re a week and two days away from the release of Bad Bloods: November Rain!

What are readers already saying?

“If you’re into X-men and corrupt government, then pick this up!! I am so left wanting more!! The writing is awesome and super easy. The story is fast paced, and you will fly through November Rain. The plot is easy to understand, and once you’re into the story, you just get everything that’s going on. I am definitely going to read more from this author.” Chic Nerd Reads

“You’ll need to pick this one up if you’re looking for a great quick read about wonderful characters in a corrupt world.” –Between Folded Pages

“November Rain is a fun read and very much a page turner!” –Tranquil Dreams

Clean Teen Publishing threw a Facebook party this Friday, and I hope you came and won some prizes! Don’t worry if you didn’t. You can enter to win a paperback of Bad Bloods: November Rain on Goodreads, and if you can sign up for the blog tour by emailing shannonathompson@aol.com, I’ll enter you to win a SIGNED copy of Bad Bloods: November Rain.

On a side note, I really love all of your reviews. They are making my day! I still haven’t decided if I’m continuing the Bad Bloods series or not, but my publisher is all for it. Your reviews are definitely helping! If you want to review Bad Bloods, email me at shannonathompson@aol.com!

The #1lineWed theme was “page 16” so here is your weekly preview:

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads

Visit the Pinterest and Facebook Pages.

What I’m Reading:

Let There Be Linda by Rich Leder

Let There Be Linda by Rich Leder

Since it was aliens week, I’m FINALLY reading The Last Star by Rick Yancey, and I’m loving this conclusion to The 5th Wave trilogy. If you haven’t started this sci-fi series, check out my 5-star reviews of The 5th Wave, my YouTube video about The 5th Wave, and my review of The Infinite Sea.

Let There Be Linda by Rich Leder released this week, and I was lucky enough to read a pre-release copy of this hilarious, twisted comedy. Rich Leder is one of my favorite indie authors of all time, so I definitely recommend all of his works, but this one is perfection if you love Quentin Tarantino. The novel follows two estranged brothers—one is an accountant and one is a con-man talent agent—as they get wrapped up in LA’s San Fernando Valley during the hottest summer in Southern California history. Maybe it starts with a girl who claims she can bring dead people back to life. Maybe it starts with a bad bet on a racehorse. Maybe it’s the missing $75,000 a psychotic comedian cop decides to chase. Maybe that’s not even the half of it. This dynamic cast features characters that are rich and crazy in their own unique way, and how the story weaves together is priceless. If you want to laugh this summer—and you’re searching for some glorious gore—this book is for you. Look out for Chachi. Recommend to readers who want to laugh, and those who don’t flinch away from a little horror and magical realism. Read my full five-star review by clicking here.

What I’m Listening To:

Postmodern Jukebox is basically my favorite YouTube channel around.

 What I’m Watching:

I went to the theatre a lot this week. (So it might be because I’m still in a writing slump). But I had a ton of fun! I saw Independence Day Resurgence, which—honestly—I was not expecting much, and I was proved wrong. I absolutely loved this sequel. It was great to see the old cast. I remember watching this movie with my dad when I was a kid, so it was fun to see it redone, and I loved how they embraced the old 90’s humor throughout it.

Independence Day Resurgence

I also saw Finding Dory, which PERFECTION. Who doesn’t love the Finding Nemo movies? There’s nothing to say about this movie other than if you loved the first, you’ll love this one, too. It couldn’t have been better.

I like scaring myself, too, so I saw Conjuring 2, which was pretty good. I freaked out a few times. But I spent most of my week watching Unsealed on Netflix. What’s Unsealed? An alien show, of course! (Because I could not get enough aliens this week.) If you like alien shows, think Ancient Aliens on the History Channel, then this show is pretty entertaining. I learned about a few new cases I’d never heard of before, and it’s fun to sit around a speculate.

ALIENS.

Finding Dory, Unsealed, Conjuring 2

Finding Dory, Unsealed, Conjuring 2

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

Cream cheese stuffed muffins

Cream cheese stuffed muffins

I baked cream cheese stuffed blueberry and chocolate chip muffins this week, and I definitely recommend this recipe. I split half my batch for the chocolate ones.

What I’m Wearing:

My Pikachu hat as I’m hunting for Pokemon on my PokemonGO app! I mean, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This app is perfection. I caught a freakin’ Eevee, which was my favorite Pokemon when I was a kid. (Along with Ponyta, Charmander, Pikachu, Togepi, Snorlax, …okay. I love them all.) I cannot get enough of this app, but I must thank Justin’s Book Blog for walking me through it via Twitter. Check him out, and tell him thank you for me! Also, my favorite coffee shop—Headrush Roasters—turned out to be a PokeStop. UGH. I’m never going to leave.

What I’m Wanting:

#YallFest! That line up is perfection. I’m honestly considering going since I plan to visit SC in September anyway. It’s a matter of dividing my St. Louis – SC trip to two separate trips instead of one, so I am able to go to SC in November. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can go! I’ll know at the beginning go August.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

Since I had a bunch of aliens in my life, I naturally had a dream about aliens. But I don’t remember much. (You know aliens. They sort of wipe your memory after they abduct you.) But my name was Mei? And I had a little sister that I saved by running into some caves, though our mother wasn’t so lucky. She drowned in a 5th Wave style flood. But we lived with two others at the top of this cave, and we started building a raft when we realized the aliens lived UNDERWATER. It was basically Jaws + Independence Day.

What Else Is Going On:

I have seen the proofs of my new authors photos, and I cannot wait to share them with everyone! Huntress Photography is wonderful, and they totally embraced my crazy, frizzy, angry hair.

~SAT

#SATurdate: The Lobster, My 25th Birthday, Spotlight, and Outrun The Moon

25 Jun

What I’m Writing:

I’m officially writing in the mysterious book I call “S.” It’s unrelated to The Tomo Trilogy and Dreammare, believe it or not, but I love it all the same. Right now, I only have the first two chapters written, mainly because I’m still world-building, and I imagine this novel is going to take a LONG time. That being said, I drew the official “map” this week—a modern map and a historical one—so you might guess this is a fantasy book. It’s also a very musical book, especially in regards to the protagonist, so I held a little dance party with her this week. She rejoiced. (And we argued about Elvis…Something we disagreed on severely. I mean…he’s my hero. My HERO. And she hated him. #Fail)

What I’m Publishing:

My monthly newsletter went out this week! There are a million ways to win prizes—including signed paperbacks of Bad Bloods—so check out the newsletter by clicking here. I’m looking for bloggers to help with release day! So, let me know if you’re interested at shannonathompson@aol.com. (Also, if you want to review Bad Bloods on your book blog, feel free to mention it!)

Babbling Books Bookstagram

Babbling Books Bookstagram

Specials thanks goes out to my latest reviewers. What did they think of Bad Bloods: November Rain? “Fresh and alluring. November Rain is an amazing treat. I loved it and can’t wait to be an avid fan of the series. The series is definitely going to be worth drooling over.”Read, Watch, and Think

“A fast paced fantasy and sci-fi story full of exciting characters with their own fascinating abilities and background stories. Didn’t disappoint one bit! For fans of Red Queen and Shatter Me: this one is definitely something you should check out!” Book Prints

Book Prints and Babbling Books also shared photos on Instagram! So, check them out. Babbling Books review of November Rain said, “I’m looking forward to delving into the next book to see what unfolds for the characters as I get deeper into the story.”

Other news? There’s a new Goodreads Giveaway going on for November Rain! Enter below.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

November Rain by Shannon A. Thompson

November Rain

by Shannon A. Thompson

Giveaway ends July 16, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Clean Teen Publishing is also throwing a Facebook party on July 8 from 6-8 PM (EST), where—you guessed it—there will be MORE prizes. Click here to join.

CTP's Sizzling Summer Reads FB Party

CTP’s Sizzling Summer Reads FB Party

This week’s Teaser Tuesday is honestly my favorite one, so I hope you enjoyed it. If you didn’t see it, check out my right side tool bar. Why is this my favorite one? Well, other than me being a sucker for love, Bad Bloods takes place in one month, so a lack of time is a huge factor in all of my characters’ lives. I feel like this line encompasses all of the feelings between the characters, down to the impending doom to the hope they have for their future. I hope you’ll fall in love with Serena and Daniel as much as I did.

The #1lineWed theme was “line” so here is your weekly preview:

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads

Visit the Pinterest and Facebook Pages.

Preorder Bad Bloods

Preorder Bad Bloods

What I’m Reading:

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

I finished Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee this week, and let me tell you, it’s perfection. Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee is brilliant, terrifying, unifying, and brave. If you aren’t familiar with this novel, Outrun the Moon is about a very intelligent young woman from Chinatown in San Francisco following her studious, entrepreneurial dreams in 1906. This means the story takes place during the historic earthquake, and the disaster definitely changes everything and everyone. If you’re looking for a culturally rich and historically moving piece, this book is for you. Read my full five-star review here. Favorite Quote: “When a law isn’t just, I believe it’s okay to disobey it. In fact, I believe we are morally obligated to disobey it.”

What I’m Listening To:

What I’m Watching:

The Lobster Movie: Swan Poster

The Lobster Movie: Swan Poster

I saw The Lobster, which is an independent British film set in the near dystopian future where single people are forced to fall in love in 45 days or turn into an animal of their choosing. It’s being marketed as a dark comedy, which is…sort of…accurate? I laughed. But I have a really twisted sense of humor, and I’m 99% sure most viewers who like the word “comedy” would not see this as a comedy (especially American viewers). It’s very dark and dry. It’s super twisted. It’s very in-your-face about the patriarchal expectations of dating (and being single) in modern society. And there’s one particular post-violent scene that even made me cringe (and I don’t normally cringe…but I LOVE animals). I’m not sure who I would recommend this to. It’s just one of those films you have to see for yourself. The acting was brilliant. The script, insane. The music, fitting (often in an awkward, lovable way). Colin Farrell was a genius, and I think my favorite part was the scene between the two best friends and the monologue about prom and all that. Hilarious! Oh, and the camel walking through the forest. Oh, and…okay…so maybe I liked this movie more than I thought. I also took a “Which animal would you be alone?” personality quiz, and I was a SWAN. A SWAN. Which, btw, means I would die if my partner dies. (Told you this movie was dark.) Check it out, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I also checked out the pilot episode for The Last Tycoon, because of Lily Collins. I’m a bit obsessed with her. I thought it was great. If you like that Great Gatsby era, you’ll enjoy the show. (Be sure to vote via Amazon Prime, too!) I also died during the finale of Penny Dreadful. I mean….WHAT. WHAAAAAAT the hell was that? No spoilers. But I wasn’t very satisfied. In fact, I was pretty put off. I think they let Vanessa’s character get dragged down by men too much in the end (rather than her strength found in the concentration of her faith, which is what I think they were going for). But, honestly, it ended up coming across as “women are sin and evil, no matter how hard they try to be good.” Also, considering the new characters introduced (who had little to no arc, but were freakin’ awesome), it felt very abrupt for an ultimate ending. But I still love that show and recommend it. Everyone I know who watches it loved the ending. Maybe I am just too in love to let it go. But while I liked the idea of the ending, it felt too rushed to be satisfying.

Spotlight is on Netflix, so I was finally able to see it, and it absolutely crushed me. For those of you unfamiliar with this Oscar-winning film, Spotlight is about reporters coming together to expose the church’s cover up over decades of molestation. Definitely not for the light-hearted, but it’s a brilliant film based on true events, and I highly recommend it.

Spotlight Movie Poster

Spotlight Movie Poster

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

Writer's Coffee Mug

Writer’s Coffee Mug

I’m drinking coffee out of my new, fancy-smancy coffee mug. I know. Someone obviously gets my humor.

Motto: Please do not annoy the writer. She may put you in a book and kill you.

(But, really, I might kill you in a book.)

What I’m Wearing:

I have a photo shoot coming up next week, so I’ve been trying to figure out what clothes should be in my next author photos. We shall see. 

What I’m Wanting:

The Selection Series FINALLY got a new director, so I’m crossing my fingers that it works out this time (since it didn’t the last three times).

What I’m Dreaming Of:

So, I had magical powers, and I managed a magical fortress, but magic is super illegal, and I enjoyed shoving my successful magic endeavor into the government’s faces by hiring a social media manager to share all my awesome magic-ness online. (Guys, I’ve been working too hard.) Well, then, my social media manager was killed in a magic shootout—Okay. So I killed the social media manager out of anger. But still—and so, an apprentice of mine called a company to hire a new one, which of course tipped off the local police where we were hiding. (In a beautiful log cabin, by the way.) But I ran out to escape, and THERE WAS A DINOSAUR. (For those of you just reading my blog for the first time, I am LEGIT terrified of dinosaurs. Like, I have nightmares when I see Jurassic Park movie trailers. I blame my older brother for scarring me in the 90s.) But, yes, there was a T-Rex walking through the woods, trying to find me, that the government sent to keep me in place. And I stayed (because…dinosaur). In the end, they arrested me and all my magical criminal friends, and I woke up, kind of glad that the dream didn’t end with the T-Rex chomping my head off. (Because we all know that’s happened before.)

What Else Is Going On:

s'mores

s’mores

So, I turned 25 on June 23, which means I’m officially a quarter of a century old. I celebrated by making s’mores in the middle of the night, and then working all day long. (Who gets to relax nowadays?) But really, it was a great birthday, and I really enjoyed hearing from so many of you. Thank you for being awesome. Here’s to the next 25 years.

~SAT

%d bloggers like this: