Tag Archives: reading

Writers, It’s Okay To Log Out

27 Mar

Social media is a must for writers today. Connecting with readers through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms is easy and welcomed, but it can get overwhelming. With the myriad of ways we have of posting information—sometimes live—it’s easy to succumb to publishing pressures. Personally, I still struggle to figure out where my balance is in all the different types of social media platforms. Why? Because they are constantly changing and so is my schedule, but one thing remains the same. Making sure I’m interacting with readers and writers through social media is always near the top of my To-Do list.

There is also staying up-to-date in the publishing world. Whether you’re reading Writer’s Digest or Publishers Marketplace or one of the millions of amazing publishing blogs out there, there’s always something to read, to share, to consider.

But that doesn’t mean you should get lost in social media.

Extra tip: Pick only the social media platforms that you love. You don’t have to do everything.

One of my main pieces of advice to writers is to stop reading about writing and actually start writing. Not that reading about writing is bad. (I mean, I write about writing on this blog.) But if you’re reading more about writing than actually writing, then it might be time to log out. There’s only so much you will learn from studying writing. The best way to grow as a writer is to actually write for yourself. And I’m not an exception. Recently, I had to remove my social media from my phone. Mainly Facebook and Twitter. Why? Because I found myself spending more time reading my feeds than reading books. And quite frankly, it was starting to affect my writing. For example, I sometimes get so wrapped up in trends I forget about what I WANT to write—and honestly, what you want to write is generally the most important thing, because that passion will show in your voice.

Don’t get me wrong. I love these platforms. Twitter, in particular, is an important platform where writers get involved in publishing issues that need to be addressed. I also love joining Twitter events, because they are fun and fast and a great way to meet others who love reading and writing as much as you. But sometimes, I just need to read or watch TV or go for a jog or explore a bookstore without all the scrolling and pinging of notifications.

Setting boundaries and taking care of yourself is important, especially when you feel overwhelmed. In fact, I feel much better now that I’ve taken those apps off my phone. Admittedly, it probably won’t stay that way forever, but it is helping me stay focused on the recent conference I attended as well as my upcoming book releases in April and May. I’m sure I’ll put them back on my phone soon. But until then, I’m grabbing a coffee and sitting on my roof this morning. And I’m definitely logging out.

Don’t feel guilty for logging out. It’s okay to take a day off of marketing or tweeting or Facebooking or sharing photos of your cat on Instagram. (Though if you like that sort of thing, I often post photos of my three cats—Bogart, Boo Boo, and Kiki—via Instagram’s @AuthorSAT. If you post cats, feel free to tag me so I can see. I seriously love cats.)

You can log out, too.

~SAT

Give An Author A Second Chance

6 Mar

Recently I came across a poll on Twitter.

How many times do you give an author a chance before you swear off their work indefinitely?

Before I get into what everyone said, please take a minute to consider this question for yourself. Do you pick up every book someone writes and try it out? Do you skim the first chapter or so? Why did you pick it up in the first place? Was it because the author is extremely popular or because you liked the cover/genre/concept? Is it a debut or an author with numerous books under their writing belt? How many times have you given them a shot? And how do these questions affect swearing someone off indefinitely?

This week, check out a book from someone you've tried to read before.

This week, check out a book from someone you’ve tried to read before.

Personally, I’ll pick up any author’s work, numerous times, before I decide they are not for me. Why? Because authors grow and change. So do their ideas. Even their voice will morph overtime. If I only read authors’ debuts—or only one of their books—I would’ve never found some of my favorite authors. For instance, I literally just tried Maggie Stiefvater for the first time, EVER, this past year. I loved the Raven Cycle so much, I am now buying all of her books from the past decade. In contrast, I read Claudia Gray’s Evernight series when I was younger…and wasn’t the biggest fan, but her Firebird trilogy was one of my favorite reads last year. I didn’t even consider her past when I picked up her new work. It’d been eight years. It was also a different genre. All I care about is the storyline, the voice, and how it resonates. If I had considered how much I didn’t like her previous book, I would’ve missed out on one of my favorite reads of the year.

Granted, I have authors I stalk admire. Cassandra Clare is one author that I always buy. Maggie Stiefvater and Claudia Gray are now on that list, too. But if I read their next book and didn’t like it, I doubt I would remove them from that list.

That being said, I understand not liking an author. I do. I would name a few I dislike, but personally, I like to focus on the positive ones I’d recommend more than the ones I don’t enjoy—because everyone is different. That being said, I am sitting here, at my dining room table, trying to recall an author I’ve sworn off indefinitely, and cannot find one. Not a single person. Because I don’t know what the future holds.

So how many chances did the average reader of this poll give before swearing off an author indefinitely? Most people said one. ONE TIME. One book. One poem. One whatever. I was shocked by how many people said one.

I sort of understand—there are a million other authors on the market. Why keep disappointing yourself with the same person? But what if that same person was like Claudia Gray was to me? You could miss out on a lifetime of brilliant works, because one didn’t suit you.

I’m not asking you to read an entire book or even check out every book someone releases, but I am saying to keep an open mind. If something catches your eye—history or not—check out the synopsis. Check out the first chapter again. Before you swear off an author’s entire career because you didn’t like their vampire book back in 2007, or their dystopian book in 2010, or whatever craze comes next, give them another shot.

I’m not saying you have to pick up every book by every author that ever was. I’m just saying not to give up at the first go.

Writing styles change. Trends change. Stories change. So do authors.

Give an author a second chance. Or maybe even a third.

~SAT

P.S. Calling all book bloggers, the Bad Bloods book blitz is April 10-16 by Xpresso Reads. The sign up form is here. You will get exclusive excerpts, ARCs, and more. ❤

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When Writing Makes Reading Hard

23 Jan

When Writing Makes Reading Hard

by Susannah Ailene Martin

I’ve been writing seriously since I was 15. In other words, I’ve had 5 years of training in the craft of writing. That’s how writing works; the more you do it, the better you get at it. I’ve learned a lot about how story structure works and how to create interesting characters.

Now the good news about this is that my writing has become exponentially better. I mean, seriously, reading stuff I wrote when I was 15 makes my eyes bleed. The bad news is that’s it’s making reading less fun.

It’s a strange phenomenon that the more you understand how something works, the more the mystery behind that thing vanishes. Reading used to be something that I could sit down and do for hours without once thinking about how the book came to be. It used to be something that impacted me, but I didn’t know why.

Now I understand, and yeah, it kinda sucks.

Because I know so much more about writing, I see every trick and trope (well, maybe not every trick; I’m only human) that an author uses. No longer can I really enjoy reading a scene in a book without thinking, “Ah, that’s a neat little thing you did there.” I constantly, and subconsciously, analyze and look for ways to improve my own writing as I read along.

It’s also become much more easy for me to be able to tell when a book is objectively just bad. Have you ever watched a TV show with a younger kid and thought, “You know what, if I was ten years younger, I would have loved this”? That’s kind of what it’s like for me reading books that years ago might have entertained me, but now that I know a bit about writing, I can’t help but see every mistake the author made.

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I know that being able to analyze a book like this is a good thing for my writing. It shows that I’m getting it, that I’m learning. But I do miss just being able to mindlessly consume words on a page.

The worst part is that I don’t just write for my novels and short stories, but I have also been studying screenwriting for the past two years. That means that not only have books been (kinda-sorta) ruined for me, but also movies and television shows. *sobs*

If you think books are hideously formulaic, then you don’t want to study screenwriting. The formula for most movies is so similar that I can sit down and, without seeing the movie, tell you exactly what general thing is going to happen when and be absolutely correct.

For instance, did you know that there’s a scene in every movie about 20 minutes before the end and right before the climax where all seems lost and it looks like the heroes have failed? It’s in EVERY SINGLE BLOODY MOVIE. Seriously, just go watch any movie, and tell me I’m wrong.

And by the way, I’m sorry, because now you’ll be looking for it.

But that’s what I do now. I look for things that I know are going to be in everything. And it’s really annoying. I want to be able to just sit back and enjoy something without thinking, “Oh hey, there’s the inciting incident.”

So I’m sure you’re starting to think, “Sheesh, you make it sound like writing ruins all forms of entertainment. Why would I ever want to write?”

The last thing I want to do is to discourage someone from writing. But you should know that this is how it’s going to be. When you write, you are going to find it harder to be entertained by every mediocre book you read. BUT, that just means you have to find better books.

It’s rarer now, but there are still books that suck me in so completely that I forget to analyze. I still occasionally finish books and feel that old familiar sense of wonder. And my mind is richer for it.

Plus, you’ll never learn it all. If you feel like your reading is getting stale lately, go out and try a new genre. I read and write mostly in the sci-fi and fantasy genres, but my mom recently got me into reading this historical romance series. Because I don’t know the tropes for romance, it’s hard for me to predict where the story is going, which makes it more fun.

But whatever you do, don’t stop reading. The moment you do, your writing will suffer.


About Susannah

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Wattpad

SusannahSusannah Ailene Martin is an author from Norfolk, Va. She is currently a junior at Liberty University studying transmedia writing (which is just a fancy way of saying ‘various forms of screenwriting’). She blogs at Susannah Contra Mundum about her life, thoughts, and experiences. You can purchase her novelette, The Lifeguard: A Short Story, at Amazon for $0.99.


Thank you, Susannah, for writing such a great article! I know many writers who struggle with finding time to read and write, as well as feel that pure joy for both over and over again, so I’m sure many can relate. By sharing these struggles, we can help one another find those great reads and wonderful writing programs to keep us inspired and our work fresh.

Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep on being you.

Have a great week everyone!

~SAT

Writers and Vocabulary

9 Jan

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

The famous Stephen King said it, and so many more agree.

I vehemently say this to every writer I know. Why? Because it amazes me how many writers don’t read on a regular basis.

By reading, you’re expanding your creativity, your stories, your life, and even your vocabulary. And your vocabulary is vital.

Today, I wanted to concentrate on expanding your vocabulary and why it’s so important. I’ve sort of written about this before—Writing Tips: Build Your Vocabulary —where I discussed how you should not only read a lot, but pay attention while reading. This includes marking every word or phrase you come across that you’re unsure of, so that you can come back later to study them. I call this a vocabulary study guide.

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So what is my vocabulary study guide?

I create one every time I read a book. While reading, I circle words, and after I’m finished, I study them. This list includes words I don’t know, words that catch me off guard, words I know but forget to remember, and words I simply want to concentrate on more, maybe because they’re beautiful or strange or perfect for certain scenarios.

How do I organize it?

Personally, I categorize words by most likely subject. By feelings or people or places or, my personal favorite, body parts and other medical things. (Example from below? Carbuncle: a severe abscess or multiple boil in the skin, typically infected with staphylococcus bacteria.) Sometimes, though, I organize my lists by words I need extra help on. In my below example for instance, I circled inscrutable FOUR times in the SAME book. (And this isn’t the first book I circled it in.) Why? I know this word. I do. But for some reason, whenever I’m reading or writing, my brain stumbles over it. I want, more than anything, for inscrutable to become natural to me.

So here is a literal example from my most recent read.

All of these words come from Iron Cast by Destiny Soria, a young adult book about prohibition, asylums, and hemopaths, people capable of creating illusions through song, poetry, and art. I highly recommend this diverse read, and I hope this list of beautiful words encourages you to check it out. Seriously. Everything in this post comes from that book. If you’re curious, here’s my book review on Goodreads.

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria Study Guide:

Five Senses:

          Sound:

Raucously: making or constituting a disturbingly harsh and loud noise

Sonorous: (of a person’s voice or other sound) imposingly deep and full

          Smell:

Redolent: fragrant and sweet smelling OR strongly reminiscent or suggestive of

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Another reason to learn? Wooing women. 😉

Emotions:

Avaricious: having or showing an extreme greed for wealth or material gain

Imperturbable: unable to be upset or excited; calm

Languorous: the state or feeling, often pleasant, of tiredness or inertia

Temerity: excessive confidence or boldness; audacity

Beatific: blissfully happy

Body parts/Medical:

Carbuncle: a severe abscess or multiple boil in the skin, typically infected with staphylococcus bacteria.

Paunchy: a large or protruding abdomen or stomach.

Relating to People:

Spectacled: wearing spectacles

Haughty: arrogantly superior and disdainful

Stodgy: dull and uninspired, ex. stodgy old men

Gaggle: a disorderly or noisy group of people (also a flock of geese)

Expression: Speaking/Writing:

Asperity: harshness of tone or manner

Succinctly: (especially of something written or spoken) briefly and clearly expressed

Other Description:

Inscrutable: impossible to understand or interpret

Ostensibly: apparently or purportedly, but perhaps not actually

Anathema: something or someone that one vehemently dislikes

You might think you know every word you read, but really, if you slow down and ask yourself what the literal definitions of words are (rather than relying on context), you’ll force yourself to look up more and more words to learn on your own. It might seem like a waste of time or time-consuming, but I honestly love it. I revel in challenging myself to memorize new phrases and understand a wider range of the English language, and I believe it helps my writing.

Try it out for yourself and see which words you learn.

Who knows? You might need to use it in a novel one day.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs Dear Readers, Harness Your Power

5 Dec

I want this book, but it wasn’t in the store. I wish I could find more books by this author, or about this topic, or with these types of characters. I want more inclusive books. I want diverse books. I want debut authors. But why is that book online and not in the store? Why doesn’t my library carry that one book? Really though, I’m asking one question.

What can I do to get this book?

Readers, I hear you. Trust me, I hear you. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard questions like these—and asked them myself at one point. But there is a solution.

How can you get the books you want on your shelves?

YOU.

You have the power. You have always had the power. And you can harness that power any day you want. How? Check out these tips below.

1. Don’t Be Afraid Of Customer Service.

Readers e-mail me all the time to ask if they can get my books in Barnes & Noble. (Yes. You can.) It’s on their website and on their shelves in various stores—but not always. If it isn’t on the shelf in your local B&N, that’s where you come into play. That’s where Customer Service helps. That’s where you ask them, and they order it in, and you get a copy, and the store takes note that someone wanted something they didn’t have on the shelf. The more you ask, the more B&N and other stores will cater to your needs. So make demands! Shout to them from the rooftops! Grab your pitchfork-pens and take over! (Okay. Sorry. Just kidding. But seriously…don’t fear customer service. They’re readers like you and me.)

2. Love Librarians

Libraries. Talk to them. Ask for books they don’t have. If you are able to help, ask them if there is a way you can get your favorites on the shelf. Sometimes, you can donate. Sometimes, they look into getting eBooks for you, too. A friend of mine even got a prerelease ARC from the library. There are a million options available in your local libraries, including getting your favorite authors to visit. (How cool would that be?) Embrace that library. Move in if you can. (Okay. That last bit was another joke…but it would be pretty fun, huh?)

Extra tips: Tell everyone you know about that book you love, including that random dude at the store. If you can wear a custom T-shirt with said book on it, even better.

Extra tips: Tell everyone you know about that book you love, including that random dude at the store. If you can wear a custom T-shirt with said book on it, even better. 😉 

3. Leave Reviews

I cannot tell you how many times I am standing behind a booth or a signing table and someone walks up, pulls out their phone, and checks out my books online…along with your reviews. I once had a very enthusiastic gentleman read a few of your reviews out loud…to my face…in front of a dozen other readers. (Thank goodness they were positive. I could’ve died from embarrassment.) Point is, your thoughts count. Your feelings matter. Take a minute to share them with the world. (But preferably not to my face at an event…unless it’s positive. Okay? I’m clearly fragile.)

Finally, participate in publishing events. Various publishers, agents, authors, etc., run events weekly, both through social media and out in the real world. (Gasp. The real world. *shudders away*) Whether you’re online or out and about, this is an opportune time to be heard, and trust me, publishers are listening. In fact, their job is to listen. They want to publish what you want. That is their end goal. So, don’t be afraid to speak up about topics, characters, settings, genres, etc. that you want to see. We are listening. (And probably writing notes down at the same time.)

So pick up your sword…err…your reading power! Request books, read books, and review books! You do make a difference, and us writers love you dearly for it.

~SAT

Bye Bye Blogging (For Now)

1 Oct

Don’t be afraid! Don’t be!

Every year I do this, but I know many of you are new, so here’s a little explanation.

I am taking a month off of blogging and social media in general. While November was last year’s doom and gloom month, this year I have chosen October.

But what do I mean by “taking time off”?

I’ll still be writing, editing, and poking my head in on my social media accounts every now and then, but I won’t be around as much. Why?

I take one month off of regular blogging and social media every year for many reasons.

  1. It allows me to reevaluate my schedule, goals, and how to correlate them for the next year.
  2. It gives me a break!
Little Shannon reading her first book to her elementary class. (I bet I reevaluated myself back then, too.)

Little Shannon reading her first book to her elementary class. (I bet I reevaluated myself back then, too.)

I blog three times a week, all year long. (I used to blog every other day, without fail.) And I’m only human. I get really tired. I get overwhelmed. And sometimes, I just need some space to take care of myself outside the blogosphere that I love so very much.

Which…reminds me. If there is anything you want to see in 2017, let me know! I love hearing from you, and your opinions matter to me. ❤

Again, I’ll still be around! (And don’t be surprised if I come back early—I did last year.)

But until then.

Thanks for understanding!

If you’re here while I’m on break, and you want some great articles to check out, below is a list of my top ten articles from this year.

1. No. Reading is Not an OptionAs a full-time editor and author, I have come across more and more writers who believe they don’t have to read in order to be a writer. I adamantly disagree, and I stand by my opinion—and Stephen King’s opinion—that you must read A LOT in order to be a writer. So go out there and fall in love with reading again.

2. The 90-10 Rule for Marketing and Writing, and How To Love ItWriting is hard. It’s a business. I stay organized with my writing-marketing calendar, and I truly believe a lot of writers could help themselves by trying to organize themselves that way. It’s easy to get lost in marketing (and harder to swallow the fact that, yes, you must market, a lot, no matter how you’re published), but you can learn to love it, and you can guarantee you don’t forget to write with a few little reminders.

3. The Truth Behind an Author’s Instagram: I really want to write articles like this for all my social medias, because it is important for authors (and readers) to remember that social media—while fun—isn’t the whole picture. I know we show our highlight reels every day, and things seem perfect, and everyone’s life appears wonderful, but like I mentioned above, writing is hard. Writing is a career. Writing is more than sitting around and coming up with ideas, and I hope this showed how social media can warp that, even though social media is still a lot of fun.

4. 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.

5. Naming Your Characters: A lot can go into naming your characters, but hopefully, all these websites and tools help make the process smoother (and therefore, more fun)!

6. 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.

7. 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. 

8An Author Who Fears Public Speaking: Public speaking used to FREAK me out. But my speech class in college gave me the confidence I needed to accept my stutter and meet friends while laughing about my speech impediment. Now, I’m not afraid anymore.

9. How to Create Book Teasers on a Small Budget: Book teasers are so much fun, but they can be daunting. This is how I created 13 teasers for my book release on a relatively tiny budget. (It’s not impossible!) I’ll definitely keep creating teasers in the future, and I hope this article helps authors have fun creating them like I did.

10. Writing Tips for Love Interests: I’m a sucker for love, so I love writing about love, and in this post, I discussed how you can round out your characters and their relationships with one another. One mistake I often see in aspiring romance writers is making the romantic interest just that: a romantic interest. Your romantic interest should have goals and a life of their own. Find out how.

Also, book links! 😀 

Bad Bloods: November Rain (FREE)

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

Bad Bloods: November Snow

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

Bad Bloods Free Book:

Bad Bloods Free Book:

The Timely Death Trilogy
Minutes Before Sunset 
(FREE) 

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksSmashwordsKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrise

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksSmashwordsKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylight

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksSmashwordsKoboGoodreads

takefofytseve

 

Website Wonders & Four-Year Blogiversary

26 Sep

bloggiversaryFirst, I want to give a shout out to WordPress and everyone I’ve met in the blogosphere! Today is my four-year anniversary with WordPress, and I’m still totally, completely in love with this community. Thanks for having me.

~SAT

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of September’s Website Wonders categorized into Writing, Fairy Tales, Mysteries, and the Best Person Ever.

If you enjoy these websites, be sure to follow me on Twitter because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

I hope you love these articles as much as I do!

See you next month,

~SAT

Favorite Article: Do Better: Sexual Violence in SFF

I feel so strongly about this article. And I completely agree. We can do better. This article is on point.

Writing:

This Book is Broken, and Other Things I Tell Myself While Writing by Victoria Schwab: I really love her honesty in this article. A must-read for writers.

The Five Elements of a Story: Brush up on the basics in a new way.

Proust’s Questionnaire – 35 Questions Every Character Should Answer: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Fairy Tales:

14079612_1189549304445899_2149284556800308199_n15 Fairy Tale Cities That Actually Exists In Real Life: So cute!

Enchanting European Landscapes Inspired by Brothers Grimm Folk Tales Photographed by Kilian Schönberger: Can’t you tell I was feeling in need of a fairy tale this week?

Mysteries:

10 Ancient Books That Teach Supernatural Powers: Looking for book inspiration? Write a tale about one of these.

10 Unbelievable Urban Legends That Are Actually True: Chills

The Best Person Ever:

Man Devotes His Life To Adopting Old Dogs Who Can’t Find Forever Homes: Can we just give this guy a hug? What a wonderful thing to do. Adopt an old dog today.

See you next month!

~SAT

Penned Con 2016

Penned Con 2016

I had a ton of fun at Penned Con in St. Louis this past week! Thanks for coming out and seeing me. Now it’s time to cuddle with my three cats… 😀

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