Tag Archives: ratings

#MondayBlogs Content Disclosures for Novels

11 Jul

Recently, my content disclosure tree for Bad Bloods released by Clean Teen Publishing. What is a content disclosure tree? Well, I’ll leave that up to my publisher to define on their website. (Click here to read the definition. If you want to read my full content disclosure tree for Bad Bloods, click November Rain and November Snow.) I suggest reading both before continuing, but I’m going to write the article as if the links are broken. Clean Teen rates everything based on 4 subjects: violence, language, drug use, and romance/heat level, and you can see my examples below.

Content Disclosures for Bad Bloods

Content Disclosures for Bad Bloods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P.P.S. Original posted here. (I covered The Timely Death Trilogy)

~SAT

Check out my latest interview on the KC Writes Interview Podcast! We discuss publishing, writing fantasy novels, studying poetry, hosting events, and other surreal parts about authors’ lives.

Clean Teen Publishing is hosting their Christmas in July giveaway, and it’s epic! They are giving away a Kindle Fire‬ and up to $200 in cash!!! Check out the details and yes, this giveaway is open for International contestants. They’re hosting a Goodreads Giveaway for Bad Bloods: November Rain as well.

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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Preorder Bad Bloods

Preorder Bad Bloods

 

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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

My Writing Process Blog Tour

10 Mar
Cyclops Bogart

Cyclops Bogart

Lots of announcements to share before I begin today’s blog post! As we near the release date of Seconds Before Sunrise (17 days to be exact), I am gathering so much support from lovely readers and writers that I want to share. So thank you to everyone. The people below, though, get an extra thanks today from Cyclops kitty.

Since Minutes Before Sunset is the first novel, I will share this untypical review by Tamara Morning, “Not only is the setting riveting and unique, but the characters are compelling, a combination sure to transport the reader to this magical world.”

Now that you’re up-to-date on the first book, you should check out the two latest reviews of Seconds Before Sunrise: (two?! Yes, two! ::excited dance::)

While Chris Pavesic wrote, “Thompson has produced an enjoyable story where the characters continue to grow and evolve. After reading the first two parts of the trilogy, I cannot wait for the next to appear!”, Pau’s Castle was living tweeting her incontrollable turmoil:

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By clicking the links, you can read their entire review, but I must warn you of spoilers.

I also wanted to let you know that The Timely Death Trilogy hit 100 ratings on Goodreads with an average rating of 4.47 stars. Oh, the delight.

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Whew. These announcements are getting out of hand (but any good party does), so I am continuing forth with today’s blog post:

Two weeks ago, I was nominated by author Dan Thompson to continue in “My Writing Process Blog Tour.” What is this tour? It’s just a bunch of authors gathering together (we have a tendency to do this over the internet) to share our writing process through these four questions:

  1. What Am I Working On?
  2. How Does My Work Differ From Others of its Genre?
  3. Why Do I Write What I Do?
  4. How Does My Writing Process Work?

Special thanks to Dan. His answers can be found here, my answers are below, and my nominations are just below that. Enjoy!

What Am I Working On?

Other than the fast-approaching release of Seconds Before Sunrise, I am planning on publishing the first book in a new series next. (I just turned it into AEC Stellar Publishing.) And I look forward to sharing more information on it in the future. In terms of writing, I have many more projects under works, five of which are already completely written. I also have three more almost finished. It’s just a matter of how the cards fall. (Or in this case: how the books are flipped open.)

How Does My Work Differ From Others of its Genre?

Other than writing from two perspectives, I work really hard to challenge norms in the genre as well in literature. For instance, The Timely Death Trilogy flips the archetypes of Light vs. Dark in the sense that the dark is full of the “good guys.” I also try to challenge the genre with my characters by focusing on stereotypes: ex/ Crystal is a punk who loves journalism and prom. Jessica’s relationship with Eric is also not what the genre generally goes for. She can live without him. He, on the other hand, is a little different. And showing what a boy feels in a relationship isn’t common practice in YA, paranormal romance.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

Even under severe torture, I do not believe I could satisfy an interrogator with an answer because I don’t even know why I write what I do. I don’t think there has ever been an AHA moment when picking what to write next – the stories just come…and come, and come, and come again. Sure, I have lots of scattered storyline folders on Weebo – my trusted laptop – but my writer’s heart always picks the one I will work on next like they are fated lovers who fall in love at first sight, with uncontrollable need just because they walked into the same room that day.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I will be the first to admit to how bizarre my writing process is. I know it’s unusual, and I’m okay with that. (I wish I could remember at what point I realized it was unique, but I cannot.) Nevertheless, I will try to explain to the best of my ability by using a scene from upcoming Seconds Before Sunrise:

  • I begin with a bunch of notecards, which I will probably write on for hours throughout the night. Preferably in dim lighting, just so I struggle to read it the next day. During this time, I also create maps, picture books, and more extras, including WAY too many notebooks full of information.
  • After everything is organized, the cards get typed up to this: (note that my handwriting is too bad to show what the notecards look like) What is this? It’s dialogue. The letter represents the name. I sort of look at this like a screenwriting approach (but not really.) This is just how my brain works.

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  • After I get almost all of the dialogue and scenes figured out, I add all the prose in-between to these scenes. So it turns into this teaser below:

…TEASER ALERT…TEASER ALERT…teasing…

I shoved my head into my locker and breathed hoarsely. It was the first day of school and sitting next to Jessica was already killing me. I wanted to talk to her, hold her, be with her − anything really − but I couldn’t. If the Light realized who or what we were, she’d be killed, and there was nothing I could do except stay away.

“You okay?” Jonathon asked, his voice squeaking through the slits of my locker.

I leaned back to stare at the blind artist. I wouldn’t believe he was Pierce, a powerful shade, if I hadn’t known his identities myself.

“I’m dealing,” I grumbled, unable to keep eye contact as Jessica passed us.

She flipped her brunette curls as she playfully hit Robb McLain’s arm. Robb McLain with his sparkling teeth, gelled hair, and playboy personality was the perfect jerk.

Robb slipped his arm over Jessica’s petite shoulders, and I gripped my locker.

“I am this close to killing him.”

Jonathon chuckled. “I’d like to see that.”

“This isn’t funny.”

Jonathon’s hands struck straight up. “No. No. Of course not.” He tried to smother his laughter. “Not funny at all.”

  • And repeat. Repeat. Repeat. At some point, it becomes this – my editing process in which I cut 130,000 words down to 80,000.

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  • Once that’s done, we work at publication.

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But publication is another process completely, so here are my nominations (with introductions) who will be posting on March 17th

Steven SanchezMy name is Steven Sanchez. I am a 31-year old writer, singer, and computer technician. I began writing my first book, The Acid Oasis: The Journal of Adrian Blackraven, at the age of 17 and self-published in January of 2012. Born and raised in New York City, I now reside in Florida with my wife and three children, where I am currently working on the ‘Satin’ novel series.

Raymond VogelPresident, AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc.; author, “Matter of Resistance” and “The Best Of You” (from “2013: A Stellar Collection”). All around decent guy.

Josephine HarwoodHi! My name is Josephine Harwood. I am a housewife, mother, and a family caregiver. In my spare time I love to read, play video role-playing games like Zelda, and writing stories. Writing a book was on my Bucket List, and Dark Secrets is my very first novel. It is the romantic-suspense story of two sisters who move from the East Coast down to West Texas and one of the sisters becomes the unsuspecting target of a stalker. Dark Secrets is only $2.99 and the first six chapters are FREE on Smashwords.

Be sure to check these authors out on March 17th, but in the meantime, I would love to hear about your writing process below! 

~SAT

Book Ratings & Review Exchange Debate

13 Sep

Before I get into rating novels, I wanted to share a link for Minutes Before Sunset fans:

As you’re waiting for Seconds Before Sunrise, tell me what you think will happen and/or what you want to see in Book 2 of A Timely Death trilogy on this Goodreads discussion by clicking here.

I also wanted to give links to two major developments in the young-adult movie industry:

  • J.K. Rowling is penning a new film-series which takes place 70 years before Harry Potter. Read more here.
  • Filming of City of Ashes has been delayed. (I’m so sad, but read more here.)

But now…book ratings!

If you follow my Facebook Author Page, then you know I have been asking writers and readers alike how they feel about when someone asks you to only post a review if it is 4 or 5 stars? Is this deception or is this “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all?”

I asked this question, because I’ve seen a trend in the industry of authors regulating reviewers (telling them to only post the review if it’s of a higher rating.) To me, I found it very surprising how many writers and reviewers accept and even encourage this concept. Personally, I am on the side of deception. I don’t think there is anything wrong with 1, 2, or 3 star reviews. I find honesty to be more important, and, also, honesty from one person may lead another reader to realize they will still like the novel. For instance, someone can review a book, give it one star, and say it was due to the genre. A reader might see this and realize they still love that genre; therefore, the one star review is still very helpful. I also think there is a major difference between a “hate” and a “critique,” and a 1-star review isn’t necessarily a “hate.” But this is my opinion.

I wanted to hear others’ opinions, and here are some from my Facebook page:

Joe H. Hinojosa: “I felt that if I’m going to be constrained in my review, I would have a hard time being honest, and my belief is that my integrity is on the line. I don’t want to compromise that. As for your question, it made me believe that the author did not believe that his book merited a high rating, that it lacked something, either grammatically, or perhaps the plot itself was poorly constructed. To solicit a review, and putting conditions on posting the review, seems to say that he himself rates the book poorly.”

Patrick Dixon:  “If someone asks for my opinion “but only if it’s good” I say no for similar reasons to Joe’s above. Now, if they ask without restrictions, and I can’t give it at least 3 stars due to nagging issues that are fixable (and I think the book has goodness buried in it, just needs an edit or a fix or an explanation about something), I’ll message the author directly (if I can) with what I’d give it and why, and give them the option if they want me to post it or not. If the book is completely not my cup of tea, but may be of value to someone else, I’ll post it, with the caveat near the top that “This is not MY kind of book, but if you like <x, y, or z> then it might be for you,” and try to point out the good points for other readers. But that’s just how I do things.”

Amber Skye Forbes: “It is deception because it isn’t allowing room for opinions that could provide a fair, balanced review for a potential reader to buy your book. For example, three star views are not inherently bad. I have bought books based off three star reviews before because what the reviewer didn’t like, I liked.”

Mariah E. Wilson:  “I think that authors need to let readers see the bad reviews along with the good. And how an author handles a less than desirable review speaks volumes. If you’re so insecure about your work that you ban reviewers from posting anything below a 4 star review, it seems unfair. And besides, not all “bad reviews” are bad. A review is what? An opinion. Everyone is different and everyone is going to have a different experience with the same book. If two people read a book and both give it a 5 star review, they could both love different parts of the book. It’s just an opinion.”

So what is everyone else’s opinion? If you read the opinions above, you will see they are generally on the deception side (which I am in agreement with) but I am interested in hearing more from the other side as well. Please share your opinion either way as I think this is a growing trend, and it’s important to understand why such things become popular if we want the industry (especially the Indie industry) to continue growing.

Other news: Submit your novel to AEC Stellar Publishing now! 

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150th Post

27 Jul

It’s a good feeling seeing those numbers rise–whether it be fellow authors I’ve connected with, sales, or blog comments that represent all the conversations I’ve had with passionate readers, writers, and dreamers. So I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who supports so many people on this journey of writing and publishing. I am very grateful to have every single one of you cheering me on! And I wanted to share a special moment with everyone:

The photo below was taken on July 31, 2007–the day I received the first copy of November Snow in the mail. I’d just turned 16, but I moved shortly afterward, and I lost the photo…or so I thought. A few days ago, I found it on an old computer’s files. It means a lot to me, because the moment was my first novel’s release, and I’m glad I have it again. I’m sharing it, because it’s another one of those instances where we, as writers, can find inspiration from our pasts. 

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But I also have three other wonderful things to share today:

The Examiner reviewed Minutes Before Sunset: 5 STARS! 

“Benevolent magical creatures of the Dark called shades live clandestinely among humans as nimble shape-shifters while readying for a pivotal battle against the evil beings of Light.” 

Read the rest here. I can promise the reviewer, Lionel Green, has a way with words, and I’m flattered by his in-depth review and analysis of the piece.

And if you want even more information, I’d recommend two delightful interviews I was able to participate in:

Interview by upcoming author, Jackson Paul Baer:

Although I’m interviewed about my novels, Baer also adds some fun questions about what I like outside my writing world. Oceans or Mountains? Favorite T.V. show? Happy or sad ending to a novel?

Find out what I said here.

And this interview focuses on the writing and publishing industry:

Writing Under Fire: Young Blood in the Publishing World

Joanne asks: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself? What do you do to promote yourself and your novels? Do you also write in other genres?

Find out what I said here.

I have to thank everyone who follows me, but I also want to emphasize how much I appreciate those who have interviewed me and/or reviewed my novels. I’m always excited to participate, and I look forward to discussing these topics with more and more readers and writers. It’s a wonderful and fun opportunity to connect further, but I can’t do it alone, so thank you for allowing me to do so through your support 😀

Speaking of which, I’m still giving away free copies of Minutes Before Sunset for review in order to celebrate Goodreads Book of the Month for July! If you’re interested in that (or interviews–or anything really!) email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

I am also thinking about doing more guest blog posts in the future, so look out for that!

Changes are coming, but I’m excited about them!

Have a great weekend,

~SAT

Updates: Chapter Two, Book of the Month Nomination & New Cover Photos

6 Jun

June 8th Update: My Facebook Author Page went over 400 likes tonight! Thank you for the support, everyone! Your kindness encourages the future in the best way an author can hope for.

Just a reminder: I am going on vacation, and I will be back Wednesday, June 12th. Until then, check out my new cover photos on my Facebook pages, help me by voting for my novel in the “Book of the Month” nomination from Goodreads, and check out chapter two from Minutes Before Sunset.

Book of the Month Nomination:

Minutes Before Sunset has been nominated for “Book of the Month” for July on Goodreads. If you click the link, you can vote too by seconding Christie (message 19) or any of the others who’ve voted for me. I’d really appreciate the support!

Special thanks goes to voters and supporters: Christie, Raymond, Amber, Silver Wolf, Greg Kelly, Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie, Stephanie, Nadine, and Vickie Kayuk! I really appreciate the votes! They really help, and I appreciate all the support I can get.

Goodreads: 4.55 average rating, 11 ratings, 7 reviews, added by 34 people, 23 to-reads.

New Cover Photos: 

As many of you know, I have three Facebook pages, which include the latest updates of Shannon A. Thompson, Minutes Before Sunset, and November Snow. As of yesterday, I’ve updated the cover photos of Shannon A. Thompson and Minutes Before Sunset to represent that specific page more directly. They’re below, but feel free to click the links and “like” the pages!

Shannon A. Thompson Facebook Cover Photo

I chose this collage, because it includes my three publications, and I thought it represented my history and future. I love being able to share my works, and I cannot wait to continue to do so.

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Minutes Before Sunset Facebook Cover Photo

Before I had an “Available Now” photo, but it’s been one month, and I thought the cover needed a change–something directly about the novel while hinting as to what the book was about. If you’ve seen the November Snow page, then you may recognize this format: I used the cover with the most popular quote from Goodreads.

MBScover

Because I’ll be gone for one week, I thought I’d leave a sneak peek into chapter two of Minutes Before Sunset. Feel free to read it below. However, I want to clarify that the novel has indentions on paragraphs and such, but WordPress won’t allow me to add them. You don’t even have to open a PDF file! 

Chapter Two: Eric:

I was raised with three simple rules:

  1. Fight defensively and offensively.
  2. Under no circumstances is it safe to reveal your identity. (Unless it’s Urte, Pierce, Camille, or anyone else the elders deemed an exception.)
  3. Win.

The last rule is my favorite, because of the dishonesty. Win didn’t mean win. It meant murder. It meant I had to kill the second descendant, the power of the Light, and I had no choice. I would get blood on my hands.

I brushed my hand along the shivering trees as my gaze darted around the darkening forest. I rarely had time to leave our underground shelter and use my powers, and I didn’t feel like wasting my night chasing Camille around in the dark.

I threw my senses out around me. The forest reeked of evergreen and pine. I could feel every prickly leaf and see every shadow. From stump to stump, I searched the darkness for Camille’s body heat. No one could avoid my radar.

Bingo. I grinned as I locked onto a girl by the river. I sprinted through the thicket, pushing past scraping branches and leafless oak trees. As I neared the forest’s opening, my body sunk into the shadows, and my skin tingled as it morphed into the chilly air. It was the greatest feeling—other than flying, of course—and I relished in the moment. The blackness of night flowed with me as I floated along the trees, the leaves, or snow. I was enveloped in silk.

I only solidified when I reached the forest’s edge. Just as I thought, a girl stood on the river’s guardrail, but she wasn’t Camille.

She didn’t have Camille’s white hair or mischievous dark eyes. In fact, this girl didn’t even look Camille’s age. She was my age, and she had the dark hair, pale eyes, and the pale skin complexion that our sect had.

She was undoubtedly a shade, but I didn’t know her.

My fingers gripped my jacket as I moved backwards, trying to conceal myself in the darkness, but the girl spun around and stared at me. She was perfectly still when her purple eyes met mine. She didn’t budge. Instead, she pointed at me, and the dark magnetically trailed her fingertips.

“Who—” She stepped off of the railing, and her eyes widened. “Who are you?”

I put my hands in front of me and stepped out of the forest. This must be one of Camille’s illusion jokes.

“Who are you?” she asked, backing up against the river’s guardrail.

I didn’t respond. Instead, I flew through the shadows and reappeared in front of her. My body heat escaped me, and she froze, completely petrified by my closeness. I laid my hand on her cheek, expecting her to disappear like any of Camille’s illusions, but she didn’t. She was real, and we were centimeters apart, teetering over the edge of the river.

She didn’t move. I had the ability to hypnotize any shade, but I hadn’t used any power. She was shaking—shivering—beneath my touch, and her heartbeat thundered her energy through my veins.

How odd. She was powerful, yet fear suffocated every bit of her being.

“Shoman!”

A shout split the air, and I sensed a body rushing through the forest. Camille was coming for me. “Where are you?”

Reflexively, I released the girl and turned to the forest, waiting for Camille to appear. Over here, I said, sending her a telepathic message. Immediately, she appeared in a beam of light.

Her dark eyes were ablaze as she picked sticks and dried leaves from her glittering hair. “What the hell, Shoman? At least tell me where you are going if you want to be alone.”

“I was with—” I closed my mouth as I waved my hand towards the nameless girl, but the ground where she once stood was empty. Nothing. No marks or anything signifying her leave. She was gone.

Impossible. No shade had ever been able to stay off my radar, yet I hadn’t felt her leave. It was as if she had never been there.

“With who?” Camille asked, trudging up to me.

“Shh,” I held up my hand and threw my senses out.

Camille tensed, and her black eyes darted around. “What are you looking for?”

“Be quiet,” I said, spinning in tight circles. My senses were useless. Nothing was there. Not even a bat or a plane. I was being blocked.

I grabbed my guard’s boney shoulders. “Camille, who else was out here tonight?”

“No one. Everyone is at the Naming,” she said, rolling her eyes. “If you haven’t forgotten, you’re supposed to be there.”

“I don’t care,” I said, ignoring the ceremony of the last harvest. It was hard to forget. A thick layer of frost coated the dying grass, and I knew that the first layer had fallen yesterday morning. As the first descendant, I always went, but my father hadn’t in years, and I was beginning to forget the point.

Camille touched my arm. “Is something wrong, Shoman?” she asked, widening her eyes. “Was someone here?”

“No,” I lied, patting her palm. “Let’s go,” I said. I dissolved into a shadow.

Minutes Before Sunset is available as an ebook and paperback on Amazon (4.5 Stars from 15 reviews), Barnes & Noble (4 stars from 5 reviews), Smashwords, Kobo, Apple, Sony, and more. 

I hope everyone has a great week! I’ll try to send pictures from my vacation. If I don’t expect some on June 12th.

~SAT

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