Tag Archives: protagonist

Is Romance Necessary in YA?

6 Feb

Romance sells. (Or, as they usually say, sex sells.) And now more than ever, sex is being introduced into young adult literature every day. But that’s another debate for another day. Instead, I wanted to focus on the overall umbrella term of romance in YA.

Is romance necessary in every YA book?

The short answer is no, of course not. But the long answer is a lot more complicated.

If you’re a first-time author, then you probably already know the struggles of completing a manuscript, editing one, joining the query trenches, and understanding the marketplace.

More often than not, romance sells better than anything else.

Why? Well, we have to consider our buyer.

Ten years ago, YA literature was widely bought by the YA crowd (ages 14-18), but more recently, the average age of the YA buyer has increased to 20-25. (Hey, look! There’s me!) Granted, there is a lot of debate about this—and it’s hard to prove, considering adults can buy books as gift or teens can borrow books—but I love speaking to teens at my signings, and have listened to them say the same thing. A lot of young adults are reading fanfiction online instead, and hey, no shame! That’s awesome. I’m just happy when people are reading. But this fact has changed the marketplace, and I honestly believe that’s why we’re seeing more sex in YA literature, including less “fade to black” scenes. As an example, a YA book I just read had a one-night-stand between two inexperienced strangers, where both acted as if they were cool with it. Nothing wrong with that. Don’t get me wrong. But I cannot imagine reading that at 14 and feeling like I could relate, even though the characters were that age. However, I know some 14-year-olds can relate, and that’s fine! No worries. Just be safe. 🙂

That being said, at 14, I wanted to hang out with friends. I wanted to read books (and write them), and other than that, I ran around with my husky or my brother or studied a lot.

I particularly loved Ally Carter’s The Gallagher Girls books, because the romance was few and far in between. Same with Meg Cabot (specifically when she was known as Jenny Carroll and wrote the 1-800-Where-R-You series and the Mediator series). Oh! And Lynne Ewing’s Daughters of the Moon series. All of their YA books featured kickass, often hilarious, and always intelligent girls living life, figuring out a mess, and defeating any enemy they came across. Friendship mattered. Family, too. And, sure, sometimes a kiss was shared here or there, but romance never seemed to be the focus. Being a heroine was.

Granted, I must clarify that you can be focused on romance and still be a heroine. Please do not get me wrong. But I wish there were more YA books (in all genres) that allowed the characters to explore space, chase enemies, and save the world without falling in love, too.

Out of the last ten YA books I’ve read, the only one who featured no one falling in love was This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. Definitely recommended. (By the way, if you have suggestions, feel free to leave them below. I LOVE suggestions.)

Love that will never change? My love for YA

Love that will never change? My love for YA

Granted, I can admit I’m a hypocrite. I write YA, and every single one of my YA books has a romance subplot in it. That being said, my romantic plots are hardly romantic in comparison to popular YA books today. In Bad Bloods, Daniel and Serena kiss….twice?…in 600 pages. And that’s it. But hey, they’re trying to protect their families and survive a government out to kill them, so I think they have a lot on their hands.

They can always kiss later. If they even want to.

That being said, almost every editorial letter I’ve received included the suggestion of getting my characters “closer” or focusing more on their romantic endeavors rather than their friendships or families or fighting for the world they live in. And I find it increasingly frustrating.

While I can see the market value in focusing on these tropes, I feel an increasing value in the opposite of those aspects as well.

It’s okay to focus on studying and family and friendships instead of love. It’s a personal choice. But more than ever before, I feel pressured to include romance where romance isn’t necessary. Because of that pressure, I actually set out to include more romance in my latest, but sure enough, I found myself following the same pattern I always do: There is a romantic interest, but he’s on the sidelines while my protagonist is striving to…I don’t know…save the world or her sister or her friends. She’s too busy studying to think about some boy’s smile or (insert jewel description) eyes. But she does have her moments, albeit they are few and far in between, and at this point, I doubt they’ll survive my editing process. And I’m so torn about it.

I wanted to write romance. I tried. But I can’t. And I’m trying to be okay with that. I am trying to be okay with me.

I love romance. I enjoy reading it, and I sometimes seek it out. But I wish there were more books where girls (and boys) were simply living life or saving the world without romance. It’s okay not to date when you’re a teen. It’s okay not to have romantic feelings. It’s okay to be focused elsewhere.

I wanted to read about girls like that when I was 14, 15, 16, and even now, so I guess that’s why I write my books the way I do. It’s that fact that made me accept myself again. (Oh, and talking to a bunch of my fellow writer friends. They helped, too.)

Romance will definitely help you sell your book—be it to an agent, a publisher, or a reader—but don’t force it. The most important aspect of any book is to be true to your work, and if that means avoiding crushes and angst-ridden kisses, then so be it.

I will continue to have romantic subplots, because that is my style, but as of today, my protagonist will focus on her studies more. She might not even kiss anyone at all. And that’s perfectly A-okay with me. (And more importantly, okay with her.)

If one day she changes her mind, I will listen to her, and if she doesn’t, I will continue to listen to her. Why? My answer is simple.

A protagonist is enough without a love interest to back them up. So is a story.

~SAT

 

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September’s Ketchup

28 Sep

September was too much fun!

For those of you just now checking in this month, Ketchup actually means “catch up.” At the end of every month, I write these posts describing what goes on behind the scenes at ShannonAThompson.com. Some of the topics I cover include my big moments, top blog posts, my top referrer, #1 SEO term, and more in order to show insights that will hopefully help fellow bloggers see what was popular. I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

Thank you for being a part of my life this September.

Big Moments:

It was my four-year blogiversary, and WordPress was my #1 referrer other than search engines!

It was my four-year blogiversary, and WordPress was my #1 referrer other than search engines!

I went to Penned Con in St. Louis this month! I met so many new authors and readers, and had a blast! For those of you who came by our Halloween table, Natasha Hanova and I were giving away Halloween candy…and sometimes, I wore a Pikachu hat. It was fun!

The paperback of Bad Bloods: November Snow released! It debuted at Penned Con, and that was way too much fun! I’m now offering signed copies of Bad Bloods, too, so feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you’re interested.

My four-year blogiversary with WordPress also happened this month! I cannot BELIEVE I started blogging way back when in September of 2012. I freakin’ love blogging, and I’m not going away anytime soon.

November Rain (FREE)

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November Snow

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Bad Bloods Free Book: My #1 Clicked Item was Bad Bloods: November Snow

Bad Bloods Free Book: My #1 Clicked Item was Bad Bloods: November Snow

Top Three Blog Posts:

1. Help! My Female Character Is Flat: While writing my latest manuscript, I realized my female character was flat. How? Because I was holding her back. Why? Because I was afraid. When did I get scared and why did that happen…and how did I overcome it for her and myself? Read the article to find out.

2. Writing Quicksand: I use the term writing quicksand to describe when writing it doing more harm than good. It does happen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t overcome it or acknowledge it. This is how I got out from my quicksand and started writing again.

3. My Protagonist and Illiteracy: As many of you know, my protagonist—Serena—in Bad Bloods is illiterate. This article is about my journey in writing an illiterate character and why I chose to do so. 

Other Blog Posts:

#SATurdate: Sequel Sneak Peeks, The Light Between Oceans, Rook, & Cupcakes: A weekly update of what I’m writing, reading, watching, and baking!

#SATurdate: Pumpkin Spice Lattes, The Marked Girl, One Mississippi & Violins: A weekly update of what I’m writing, reading, watching, and baking!

Website Wonders and Four-Year Blogiversary: A monthly list of all the websites I loved and shared. Also, it was my four-year blogiversary. Can you believe it?

#SATurdate: Penned Con, Descendants of the Sun, Snow Like Ashes, & Paperbacks: A weekly update of what I’m writing, reading, watching, and baking!

#SATurdate: Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Jane Got a Gun, Sausage Party, & Galaktaboreko: A weekly update of what I’m writing, reading, watching, and baking!

November Snow Paperback Release & Sequel Sneak Peeks! The paperback came out and I released a bunch of surprises!

Penned Con St. Louis & Natasha Hanova Interview! Before I went off to Penned Con with Natasha Hanova, I interviewed her for all of you to meet. Check her out.

At the end of the month, I also like to take a moment to thank all of the websites who supported me by posting reviews, interviews, and features. If you want to be one of these websites, feel free to join my newsletter or email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I always love speaking with new bloggers, writers, and readers! I will also share your post on all of my websites.

Reviewers:

“I highly recommend giving this a shot. Time for part 2!” –Infinite Lives, Infinite Stories, November Rain.

“November Snow was amazing!” –Sue’s Reading Corner, November Snow

“Recommend it? YES!” –Daydreaming Books, Minutes Before Sunset

september2016

#MondayBlogs My Protagonist and Illiteracy

5 Sep

My protagonist is illiterate. She recognizes a few letters, she can identify her name, and she loves listening to stories more than anything. But she cannot read.

Her name is Serena, and Serena is a bad blood.

Bad Bloods in 35 words or less: 17-year-old Serena is the only bad blood to escape execution. Now symbolized for an election, she must prove her people are human despite hindering abilities before everyone is killed and a city is destroyed.

While Serena lives in a futuristic world where magical children like her are executed, illiteracy is a very real issue in our world today. An issue I wanted to discuss in my Bad Bloods duology. There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding illiteracy—some of which I discuss in an article Tackling Diversity in YA—but the main one is the fact that illiteracy isn’t as uncommon as the average reader might think.

1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read. (DoSomething.Org)

books-writing-reading-sonja-langford-large

For readers, this fact might seem startling. Readers generally know other readers, after all. And—on top of that—many of the characters in YA fiction love books, because readers love books, and it’s easy to relate to a character that loves the same things as them. For many readers, it’s impossible to imagine a world without reading, even in fantasy and sci-fi settings. I, for one, definitely struggle with that concept, but illiteracy is a reality for many young people, especially women all over the world. Granted, I will be the first to admit that I did not set out to write Serena as an illiterate person to spread awareness. No. I originally set out to write her as a character who didn’t enjoy reading due to severe dyslexia—something my brother and father deal with to this day.

As a child, growing up in a household where my two role models didn’t read was very difficult, especially when my late mother was a reader but no longer able to share that joy with me. That being said, we can relate to one another—readers or not—as people, and since so many characters are readers, I wanted to remind readers we can love those who don’t read, too (although maybe we can help them find the perfect book so they try reading again)! We can also understand how illiteracy happens, and hopefully, we can learn to sympathize with it and also help others learn to read in the future.

The issue of illiteracy developed with Serena’s character over time, but I wouldn’t change Serena for the world. She is smart. She is caring. She loves ice cream, her friends, and stories told beneath the full moon. She falls in love. She cries. She feels pain and sorrow. She laughs.

Serena may be illiterate, but she still has a story.

And so do the millions of people around the globe dealing with illiteracy today.

That is why she’s my protagonist.

~SAT

Bad Bloods: November Rain is FREE

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Bad Bloods: November Snow

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Free Bad Bloods Prequel: Wattpad

#MondayBlogs Writing Tips for Love Interests

6 Jun

Romance sells. This is a proven publishing fact. Though that doesn’t mean you should add romance to your novel just to add it, romance is quite popular in ANY genre, and let’s be real, love is everywhere. The chances of writing a book with no one (not even a side character) falling in love or being in some sort of relationship is pretty slim. Think of your own family and friends. Someone is going through something. Which is why love is so relatable. It might also be why we love reading about love. So, how do we write about love?

Like any topic, there are a million ways to write about love, but since I know you have a million more articles to read, I’m only giving out two quick tips to keep in mind when developing a relationship for your characters. But first, I want to get one stereotype out of the way, a stereotype we’ve all loved to hate. That’s right. I’m talking about Insta-love.

A note on Insta-Love:

I use the term “love” loosely here, but can we admit that insta-love happens? All. The. Time. In reality, it might be classified as infatuation or lust, but in the moment, a lot of people believe they have fallen in love at first sight or fight kiss, and technically, some people do fall in love right away. We’ve all heard stories of those couples many envy. You know, “She walked into the room, and I just knew!” It does happen, and it happens to people of all ages, but I definitely prefer when an author allows love to shape over time. This generally means love is more character-driven than plot-driven, and there are many ways to approach it.

Here is one system to think about.

1. Show How the Love Interest is Different

Why should we love them? Sure, he/she is good-looking and funny and smart, but so? Everyone is good looking and funny and smart to someone—and as an author, you’re not necessarily trying to get only one character to love another character. You’re trying to get most of your readers to also love that character, or in the least, believe in that character’s love. This is why we have to start thinking beyond types and start thinking about love in general. What makes love relatable? More love! Think about the love interest’s relationships with all of those around them—their friends, their family, etc.—and I guarantee you’ll make that character relatable. You’ll also figure out why your love interest is a standalone (and interesting) character. If that doesn’t work, try some personality questionnaires to get to know your characters better. Maybe they have a strange hobby or a secret phobia or a new dream that contradicts everything they’ve ever dreamt of before. Questionnaires will help you concentrate on the love interest as a person rather than as a love interest in your story…which is key to creating an interesting character for ANY situation. Not one character should be in a book to simply support another character. Sure, supporting characters support the main character, but much like the villain, supporting characters are still the main characters in their story. Treat them as such. Give them their own desires, interests, fears, and arcs. Love interests are never just love interests. Love interests are just characters who happen to fall in love.

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2. Now Show How the Love Interest is Different Around The Lover

This is the “two characters who happen to fall in love” part. To me, it basically translates to affection, and not necessarily physical affection. I mean, emotional affection. Maybe they open up to one another about topics they’ve never opened up about before. Maybe they simply cry in front of one another. Maybe they are the ones who challenge them the most and cheer for them even harder than anyone on the sidelines. Maybe they can dance and trip and don’t feel embarrassed that they tripped together. It’s both about comfort and accepting discomfort, knowing the other will love them anyway. The juxtaposition between positive and negative emotions—while sharing them with one another—helps readers relate to the couple while also allowing the couple to relate to one another on a more intimate level. In this process, you’ll probably see where the characters draw lines with friends and co-workers and family members as well. A great exercise I swear upon is taking your protagonist’s deepest darkest secret and figuring out how they would tell everyone in their life and why the situation changes based on who they were talking to. Of course this doesn’t have to go into the book. (But who doesn’t love a good secret?)

Of course, there are many types of love—and the English language is very limiting to the definition of love—so exploring lust, infatuation, obsession, admiration, and love all come with their own complications and expectations. That’s the joy in writing stories though. Get lost in the chaos. Figure out the unknown. Push boundaries. Listen to your gut. But most of all, follow your heart.

I hear that’s the key to love, after all.

Original—Insta-Love Isn’t Instant—is very different. 

~SAT

Enter Clean Teen Publishing’s Summer Fun Giveaway!

Clean-Teen-Publishing-Summer-Fun-Giveaway

Win a paperback of November Rain in this Goodreads Giveaway.

Win signed swag from The Timely Death Trilogy and Bad Bloods by signing up for the Bad Bloods Thunderclap and emailing me your support at shannonathompson@aol.com.

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

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November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

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August Ketchup

31 Aug

August’s Ketchup

Wow! Another month has passed, and with it, Seconds Before Sunrise has released. (And the last novel releases in September!) I was blown away by your support this past month, so thank you! I have more prizes and fun coming your way soon.

For those of you just now checking in this month, Ketchup actually means “catch up”. At the end of every month, I write these posts describing what goes on behind the scenes at ShannonAThompson.com. Some of the topics I cover include my big moments, top blog posts, my top referrer, #1 SEO term, and more in order to show insights that will hopefully help fellow bloggers see what was popular. I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

Thank you for being a part of my life this August!

Big Moments:

Seconds Before Sunrise released! This has definitely been a crazy season to keep up with for me, but I’m loving every second of it. I’m so happy to have the sequel out and in readers’ hands, and I hope you’re enjoying the read as much as I’m enjoying hearing from you all. To everyone who supported my book release by helping, tweeting, Facebook-ing, and more, thank you. You make up the Dark.

Minutes Before Sunset went up for FREE everywhere. This may not seem like a “big” moment for everyone, but it was for me. Anything I’ve never done before is a big moment, and this was my first time having one of my works out there for free. It was definitely a learning opportunity, and I loved it! In fact, I’m still loving it. Minutes Before Sunset even got as high as #5 in science-fiction, #7 in paranormal, and in the top 500 Kindle books overall.

The first time I've ever held Death Before Daylight.

The first time I’ve ever held Death Before Daylight.

We also had the Minutes Before Sunset blog tour this month, which was awesome. (And if you missed my guest posts and interviews, all links are below). While that was going on, I flew to Atlanta to meet a long-time blogger friend of mine, and it was a delight, and when I got back, we celebrated the sequel’s release. The very next day, Death Before Daylight arrived in the mail. For those of you who have been following me since this trilogy was first published, you know that I’ve never been able to hold this book in my hands. I teared up at the moment. I’ve been waiting for it for almost a year after it was supposed to release. It reminds me that dreams will always come true, as long as you keep trying. 

It was definitely a busy month, and I look forward to the excitement of September as well. Keep your eyes out for the Seconds Before Sunrise blog tour, the release of Death Before Daylight,  and more!

Stay Dark,

~SAT

#1 Referrer Other Than Search Engines was Facebook

#1 Referrer Other Than Search Engines was Facebook

Top Three Blog Posts: 

  1. The Emotions of Listing a Book For Free: Oh, silly ol’ me. Minutes Before Sunset went up for free this month, and I wrote a very honest post about my emotions surrounding it—all from horror to delight to absolute excitement.
  2. Seconds Before Sunrise Evolution Day: Seconds Before Sunrise released, and it was a delightful day, full of chocolate, surprises, and fun, but the post covers the seven-year journey of this trilogy, starting in 2008 when it was first written and ending today upon release day.
  3. Confessions of a Slow Writer: I’m a slow writer! I confessed, and now, you can read all about my confession.
#1 Clicked Item was Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon.

#1 Clicked Item was Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon.

Other Blog Posts:

Guest Post:

If You Could Be Any of Your Characters on Black-Words, White-Pages: I talk about my love for sidekicks, especially Jonathon Stone in The Timely Death Trilogy.

How To Make Your Paranormal Novel Stand Out on One Good Guy’s Guide to Good Reads, I talked about how I made my paranormal novel stand out by creating my own world inside of a world with new creatures.

At the end of the month, I also like to take a moment to thank all of the websites who supported me by posting reviews, interviews, and features. If you want to be one of these websites, feel free to join my newsletter or email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I always love speaking with new bloggers, writers, and readers! I will also share your post on all of my websites.

Reviewers:

Minutes Before Sunset: Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts, Cloud Nine Girl, I Feel The Need, The Need to Read

Death Before Daylight: The Modest Verge Book Blog, Macy Stories

Interviews: Melissa Book Buzz, Deal Sharing Aunt, Juniper Grove Book Solutions, More Than You Wanted to Know

Features: A Fold in the Spine, Girls With Books, The Bookie Monster, Mythical Books, The Cheshire Cat’s Looking Glass, The Wonderings of One Person, Lady Amber’s Reviews, and in the article, You Love Them, but How Well Do You Know Your Favorite Authors?

Calculated on August 26 at 19,887 followers

Calculated on August 26 at 19,887 followers

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