Tag Archives: sci-fi

Sometimes Writing That Book Was A Waste Of Time

20 Jun

Before you freak at the title, please know that the point of blogging titles is to get you here, and now you’re here, so voilà. 

That said, I really do believe writing a book can be a waste of time. Why is that such a controversial thing to say? 

I know that the publishing industry loves the sentiment of “every book teaches us something new about our writing!” And though that may be true, that doesn’t mean the time and effort we put into the project was equivalent to the lesson learned. It might not have been worth your time. There are, in fact, other projects you could’ve been pursuing with that time that might have had better results. 

Saying that shouldn’t be controversial. 

I’ve personally felt like I’ve wasted time on a project before (and recently). From late 2020 to late 2021, I worked on a science fiction novel for adults that just wasn’t working. I rewrote it three times with my agent at the time, before deciding enough was enough. I put it down. I haven’t opened it since, and I don’t miss it at all. I don’t even want to think about it. 

Sure, there were parts of it I loved. I mean, it was monsters in space. Who couldn’t have fun with that? The world building was interesting. My main character had dynamic qualities. But the manuscript lacked focus. Besides the fun pitch, I couldn’t really tell you what I was trying to do or why I was trying to do it. Maybe I can’t now because I’ve done my best to forget the experience so that I could move on. (Leaving projects unfinished once I’ve decided to pursue them is hard for me! It wasn’t easy to trunk it.) However, I also believe it was a project that lacked focus at its core. In fact, I started writing it as a rage piece. It was just supposed to be a place I went when I was angry to get out my frustrations. I never intended to pursue it. At some point, though, I convinced myself I should and, honestly, I really regret it. I not only regret the time I spent, but I feel guilty for all the beta readers who I brought on to try to help me with the work, including my agent at the time. I feel like I failed them and myself. Not because I eventually said no, but because I didn’t do so sooner. 

Instead of spending the year writing a piece that ultimately fizzled out, I wish I had spent my time cultivating a new project. I could’ve written my novel-in-verse earlier on, or I could’ve already finished the revision of my historical fantasy (which is what I’m working on now). I’ve since written an adult fantasy and started a YA novel-in-verse, as well as a YA horror story I absolutely love. All of these projects are going 1000% more smoothly than my sci-fi ever did.

That said, there were some lessons (I think) I learned:

  • Three POVs is too much for me right now. I love writing two POVs. Both of my published series are written in alternating POVs with the love interests. It’s my jam. That said, I’ve written numerous novels with one POV. Two aren’t always necessary. Three just got out of control. 
  • Too many plot twists is too many plot twists. Enough said.
  • Same with betrayals/switches in alliances. I had wayyyy too many of them. 
  • Blending sci-fi and fantasy tropes can be awesome, but it can also be really hard! I should’ve been better about owning which genre my book would sit best in and leaning into those elements more. 

I acknowledge I learned a few things. But I think I learned these lessons early on in the process. I could’ve stopped a few months in, instead of dragging the book out for a whole year. Maybe I had a harder time discerning lessons earlier on since we were in the midst of a pandemic. But I’m much happier now that I’ve moved on and tackled other projects. Still, I keep regretting all the time/energy/stress I put into that sci-fi (and I’m a little paranoid I’ll do it again). I keep checking in with myself and where I’m at with my current projects. I keep questioning my intensions and my chances of success. If anything, I recognize that I lost some of my confidence writing that book, yet another reason for regret.

Right now, I feel like I wasted a lot of time and energy writing that book. Granted, that doesn’t mean my opinion won’t change one day, but I’ve felt this way for half a year now. 

But, Shannon, you might say, don’t you learn something from every book you write?

Yeah, I learned not to waste my time. 

~SAT

P.S. Usually, I post on the first and third Monday of the month, but since the first Monday next month is July 4, I will share my next post on Monday, July 11. Enjoy the holiday and be safe!

Every Detail in Science Fiction and Fantasy Doesn’t Need to Make Sense

4 Apr

This is probably an unpopular opinion–and perhaps a less-than-stellar writing tip–but every detail in science fiction and fantasy doesn’t need to make sense. I’m talking about characters, world building, traditions, landscapes, magic systems, etc. Granted, of course most of your story needs to. Like 95% of it and certainly the most essential parts. But every little detail doesn’t require an origin story or explanation. 

I’ve been writing science fiction and fantasy (SFF) for over a decade now and reading it for much longer. Over the years, I’ve noticed a trend in word counts escalating, and while I love large books as much as the next SFF reader, it’s often unnecessary. 

You can have a fantastic, vibrant magical world without dedicating 700 pages to it. 

The way I write SFF might be a little different than others, but I tend to focus on my point of view (POV) character and plot before I flesh out my world. I mean, of course I know the basics of my magic system, but I don’t get into the nitty gritty until I know exactly what’s needed for the actual story to take place. In fact, I tend to write my first draft without much of my world figured out, not only to see what literally happens but also to get to know my POV character. It’s important to understand what your POV character would truly know. Yes, even about their own culture or circumstances. 

Look at your own world. 

Do you know why daylight savings started off the top of your head? Where wedding traditions stemmed from? How the border of your state or country was decided? What about why your neighbor is rude one day and sweet the next? 

No one knows everything, even if they love random fact-checking. 

Your science fiction or fantasy novel needs to make sense just enough for the story to suspend disbelief. Yes, some readers’ standards are going to be higher than others. But you’re not writing to satisfy every reader out there. You are writing the best story that you can. Sometimes that means cutting back and focusing on the elements that are most important. In fact, I’d love to see more SFF that is as quick and light as a cozy mystery. I want to flip through a SFF book in one afternoon and be blown away. And I know it’s possible. 

Look at The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells or Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor (both published by TOR.) 

We need shorter, quicker SFF. Not only for fun, but for accessibility, too. Not everyone can undertake a 700-page novel. Not everyone wants to. 

Allowing space for shorter, quicker SFF stories may also allow publishers to take more risks on genre mash-ups. Bigger books are more costly to print and shelve. With shorter books, we could experiment and see if readers would love that quiet fantasy that takes place in a fairy’s coffee shop. That coming-of-age story about a tech geek that invents a pet robot and then loses it. A fun rom-com in space. Graphic novels are already doing this. Check out Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and The Tea Dragon Society by Kay O’Neill. I desperately want more novels like these. 

Science fiction and fantasy doesn’t have to be dark. (Perhaps another post for another day.) It doesn’t have to be 700 pages either. Readers deserve variety in tone, length, and more. In order to achieve this, we need to remove the pressure of explaining every little detail in our stories. Readers and authors alike need to be open-minded to exploring novels with lighter structures. If we do that, I think we’ll see new genres emerge. 

The possibilities are truly endless. 

~SAT 

Shaming the Ship

20 Jan

If you’ve ever attended a movie premiere or book signing, you’ve probably heard someone squeal, “I totally ship them!”

I admit, the first time I heard this was at Cassandra Clare’s book signing in Kansas City over a year ago…and I was super confused. “Ship?” I thought. “Like a boat?” So here I am, picturing Dido singing, “I’ll go down with this ship.” Which, in retrospect, kind of works with today’s lingo. But at the time, a cosplaying Shadowhunter kindly explained to me what she meant, and I still dig her for it.

For those of you who don’t know, “ship” is short for “relationship.” Saying you “ship” a couple means you love those two characters being together. Yes, even when they’re sailing on boats. (Excuse me for my poor humor.) Fans can ship a couple that is actually together in the story or characters you wish were together. The term largely started in fandoms and fan fiction.

Is there a better photo for this article? I think not.

I’m totally for shipping whoever you want. I think it’s so much fun, even when I see people point out ships that are purely imagined. In fact, I’ve come across some ships that I had never even considered, but thought were awesome. (*cough, cough, Elsa and Jack Frost, cough cough*) It’s fan fiction heaven. That being said, there is always a negative side.

Recently, I’ve started to see people say things like, “If you ship those who aren’t together in the story, you’re a bad fan,” or “If you ship X and X, you promote abuse,” or blah blah blah.

Listen, I think it’s great to debate aspects of fiction, like how abuse is displayed. But “debate” is the keyword here. Just because one person feels a certain way about a character does not mean everyone should feel that way. One of the best parts of fiction is how malleable it is. A dynamic character could be seen differently by millions of people. Not to mention that fiction itself is fiction. Just because something criminal happens in a show does not mean it was criminal in the context of the show. Example? Take post-apocalyptic fiction. If it’s the end of world, and you see someone stealing from a store (or even killing another person), you automatically sympathize because survival, right? But if that character was doing that in our world, they’d be a bad person. In the context of a post-apocalyptic situation, the moral paradigm has shifted. Does that make anyone bad or good? That’s up for debate. *wink*

Sometimes, fiction is just fiction. Sometimes, a ship is something we sail on. It doesn’t have to have double meaning or be scrutinized beyond the fact that it’s purely entertaining. Just because a fan ships a couple on a show doesn’t mean they would ship them in a real-life situation. As an example, I thought I’d discuss a movie (hopefully) everyone has seen by now. If you haven’t, don’t worry. Just go to the next bolded line.

Spoilers for The Last Jedi beyond this point:

So, as many of you know by now, there was quite the shift in Kylo Ren and Rey in the last movie. Though nothing traditionally romantic happened (i.e. kissing), many felt their relationship was romantic in nature. Where it goes, no one knows, but that doesn’t stop the fandom from drawing photos, posting theories, and just plain ol’ fan girling.

Do I ship them? Yes and no. To me, I find their dynamic fascinating, which—as someone who is here to be entertained—is all I want in a story. So, yes, I love what happened between them in The Last Jedi, because I never saw it coming, yet it was believable, twisted, and exciting. But no, I wouldn’t encourage that sort of dynamic in real life.

Basically, if my best friend came to me and said, “This masked guy chased me through the woods as I shot at him, and then he knocked me unconscious and tried to read my mind. Later, I scarred him, and he killed his dad, but now we have a universe connection.” I would definitely not ship it. I would call the police. But Star Wars isn’t my best friend. Star Wars is a space opera. It’s not functioning on our moral constructs. In the setup of the fictional universe, you’re literally talking about a dark side and light side colliding in a space war. Of course unhealthy moments are going to happen. Does that mean you can’t enjoy the story? Maybe. Maybe not. If that ruins the story for you, that’s fine. If you want to debate it, go for it! But I draw the line at fans telling other fans what they can/should/want to enjoy.

Spoilers End

If you dislike a ship (or a story), by all means, we’re all allowed to our opinions, but I will always draw a line on those who shame others for enjoying (or disliking) a piece of fiction.

We’re here to be entertained and to have fun, and yes, there are times for debate. Yes, those debates are super important. I’m not telling you to stop debating. In fact, one of my favorite all-time quotes is, “The history books will tell what happened, but the art will tell them how we felt about it.” (Jermaine Rogers.) Debating art is society trying to encapsulate how they feel about current and past issues. Debating fiction is a natural response. All I ask is that we respect one another while we debate. No name-calling. No ship-shaming. Just a couple of fans having a reasonable discussion about how we feel about certain stories. Then, at the end of the day, we can enjoy our fandoms and sail off into the sunset on our preferred ships without trying to sink others.

Who are some of your favorite ships? (Actual boats allowed.)

~SAT

Character Motivations vs Morals

3 Apr

Not going to lie, I recently binge-watched The 100 through Netflix. For those of you who don’t know, The 100 is a TV show based off a young adult series with the same name. The first season follows a group of 100 kids dropped off on earth after a nuclear disaster destroyed the planet 97 years prior. It’s currently airing season 4. (I’m only on season 3.) Granted, I’m not normally a TV person. In fact, I usually have to be extremely ill to watch a bunch of TV, but I made an exception for The 100. Why? Because I fell in love during episode one. What do I love about The 100? The character motivations. They are 100% believable, even when the plot gets crazy, and I feel like that’s pretty rare.

There’s no spoilers in this article for The 100. Don’t worry. But definitely check out a few episodes to see what I mean.

Character motivations are so important, but often dwindled down to right vs. wrong. But motivation can (and should) be more than that. As an example from The 100, Bellamy just wants to save his sister, no matter what it requires (right or wrong) and whether she wants it or not. In fact, he often does horrible things in order to achieve his goal. Therefore, he is driven by his motivation to save his sister, not his morals to be a good person. On top of that, though he believes saving his sister is his responsibility, he doesn’t lie to himself and think he is morally perfect because of it. He doesn’t have a “hero complex.” An older brother complex, sure. But not a heroic one. He is driven by motivation, not morals.

Why do I bring up morals? Because morals is sometimes the opposite of motivation in fiction. Though they can be synonymous, it’s easy to let a character slide one way or the other. Personally, I always prefer believable motivations to morally-driven characters. Why? Because completely morally-driven characters can be hard to relate to. I mean, let’s be real. Sometimes, that self-righteous hero trope gets a little…boring.

I would much rather watch a show or read a book where the characters’ motivations are believable, morals be damned. Let’s take villains, for instance. The most popular writing tip today is that every bad guy believes they are the good guy, and while I love that tip, I disagree. Not all bad guys think they’re good guys. Granted, I like a bad guy who thinks he’s good. I often prefer them that way. But it’s also fun to follow a character who knows they are selfish, who has reasons for their selfishness, and owns it.

Of course, it’s always best to have both worlds, right? Motivations and morals (and sometimes one fueling the other) can be fun and exciting and terrifying and interesting. But I would like to see more books with strong, sometimes twisted motivations that overcome morally-driven characters.

What about you? Do you prefer characters with motivations or morals or a mixture of both?

Discuss away! Just don’t be the evil one and post spoilers about The 100 in the comments below. (Or at least put a warning at the top of your post.)

Thank you,

~SAT

P.S. Bad Bloods: July Thunder releases next Monday! I also received my first review from Babbling Books! “Another fantastic addition to the Bad Bloods series and a marvelous start to a new duology. Wonderful writing, captivating characters and a story that will reel you in until the last page, these Bad Bloods may have a tendency of breaking the rules, but their stories are way too good not to read!”

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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

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

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

August’s Ketchup

31 Aug

Wow! August, I’m looking at you. You are wonderful.

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:

Bad Bloods: November Snow by Shannon A. Thompson

Bad Bloods: November Snow by Shannon A. Thompson

November Rain hit #1 in YA Sci Fi in the Free Kindle Store! I’m so happy so many of you are reading the Bad Bloods series and enjoying it. I love reading your reviews, seeing your photos, and geeking out about all the characters with you. (I’m going to get into some more character details below, so check that out.) My #1 searched term was Shannon A. Thompson! So, thanks for Googling me. 😉

In other news, November Snow arrived! I loved holding it in my hands. And since I could finally buy some books, I got all the books I could for Penned Con St. Louis. I’ll be there at the end of September! I’ve also confirmed that I’m traveling to Charleston, South Carolina in November for YALLFest! (Can’t you tell I love traveling?) I hope to meet some of you there.

I also got new author photos this month! Thank you, Huntress Photography!

November Rain (FREE)

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November Snow

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

Bad Bloods Free Book

Bad Bloods Free Book

My #1 clicked item was Bad Bloods: November Rain again!

Also, the Bad Bloods Prequel is FREE on Wattpad. This month, the origins story of Ami and Steven released! You can read their stories by clicking the links. Ami is important because she’s the only character we meet from the Highlands. She will also play a huge role in the next books: July Thunder/Lightning. Steven, on the other hand, is just a plain ol’ sweetheart. He is one of my favorite Bad Bloods characters. His origin story has a lot to do with Catelyn, too, because they are practically inseparable. Fun fact: I almost told Bad Bloods from Catelyn and Steven’s perspective when I was first writing the books, but for those of you who’ve finished the books, you probably know why I didn’t do that now. ::cries into my hands forever::

#1 Referrer was Facebook!

#1 Referrer was Facebook!

Top Three Blog Posts:

1. 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)!

2. I Love Free Readers: There has been a lot of controversy surrounding readers who only read books they can legally get for free, but hey! I love them, and here’s why.

3. An 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.

 

Other Blog Posts:

Heroes I Want To See in YA: There are so many of them! And check out the comments. You all had the best conversation on this article.

When You Shouldn’t Write That Book: And I’m not talking about writer’s block.

Writing Tips: Different Perspectives: I love telling stories from two perspectives, but more goes into than you think

#SATurdate: The Secret Life of Pets, #1 YA Sci-Fi, Noble My Love, Criminal, & Aerie: A weekly update of what I’m reading, watching, drinking, etc.

Connecting Books Across Genres: Surprise! All my books are connected somehow.

#SATurdate: Suicide Squad, Little Alchemy, Marshmallow Popcorn, & Cinderella and the Four Knights: A weekly update of things I’m watching, reading, and more!

#SATurdate: Star Trek, Tallulah, Free Book, & Rice Maker Cake: A weekly update of everything I read, saw, and experienced!

#SATurdate: An Ember in the Ashes, A Torch Against the Night, W – Two Worlds, & YALLFest: Another weekly update of books, music, and more.

Website Wonders: A monthly update of all the websites I came across and loved.

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:

NOVEMBER RAIN

  • Lena May Books: “A powerful work of art. In November Rain, Thompson invites us into a world of secrecy, murder and unlikely friendships that are bound to make your head spin with wonder.”

NOVEMBER SNOW

August2016

#MondayBlogs Writing With Barbie

13 Jun

Authors use various methods to write novels. Some of these strategies are popular, while others are simply bizarre, and two years ago I confessed one of my strangest approaches.

Barbies.

You see, I began writing what would be my first published novel when I was 11, and because I was 11, I loved to daydream with dolls. Instead of plotting with a pen and paper, I pulled out those Barbie dolls—the same dolls that told me I could be anything while I was growing up—and I assigned each one to a potential character. I played out scenes, I tested dialogue, I assessed locations, and I watched my book come to life…Well, a plastic life. And the results were pretty humorous.

Many of my characters’ physical descriptions were actually based on the dolls I used. You can see more of this in the original novel, but some of the characters changed in the remake. That’s right. I’m talking about my upcoming release, Bad Bloods.

Bad Bloods began as a game I played with my Barbie dolls when I was a kid.

Now, if you’ve read the original or even the back covers, then you might be concerned for 11-year-old Shannon, considering how violent the book is, but there’s no need to be concerned. (I think.) Today is meant for laughter. Today, I wanted to share that funny truth behind Bad Bloods, no matter how dark the story is. Even better, I still have these toys (and I definitely still use them to this day), so I’m sharing a few of them as well as small excerpts from Bad Bloods that prove this goofy aspect of my writing.

You’ve been warned.

A little background before we begin:

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.  

Bad Bloods is told from dual, first perspectives: Daniel and Serena. Unfortunately, I lost the Serena doll (she might have lost a limb or two or maybe even a head), but I still have Daniel, who you will see soon. I’m going to share two pictures. Read below for info on the characters, including a one-sentence background and a real excerpt from the novel. I’m also including a little note, explaining how my 11-year-old brain worked. Got that? Okay. I think I’m even lost, but trust me—it’s organized. I hope you chuckle as much as I did while writing this post! Traveling to the past can be a funny adventure.

theboys

Robert: 20, leader of the Southern Flock (hates hugs)

“Everything is fine.” Robert’s light voice didn’t match his stiff movements. When he ran a hand through his hair, his brown bangs stuck up. “But everyone needs to be quiet.”

11-y-o Note: Believe it or not, he’s not the antagonist. Sort of? Okay. Let’s go with antihero.

Daniel: 18, leader of the Northern Flock (all around hunk)

Daniel walked through the crowd, but it wasn’t much of a walk. It was more like stumbling and I had never seen Daniel stumble. Not once. Not even when he was fighting. But he was wearing the blue-and-white plaid jacket and it fluttered amongst the crowd of black coats and gray sweaters. He was practically asking to be arrested.

11-y-o Note: So, if you didn’t notice, I even based some clothes off of these toys.

Calhoun: 57, Daniel’s mentor (kind of a hard ass)

Before I had the chance to knock, the door swung open and smacked against the brick wall. An enormous man filled the entrance. The muscles in his left arm were hard to ignore, but the sleeve that should’ve been tightly wrapped around his right arm was dangling at his side, limbless. Despite his injury, Calhoun wasn’t troubled one bit. A shotgun swung outside and pointed toward my chest.

11-y-o Note: So, my one-arm GI Joe helped create this character, but this character’s personality is very similar to my father. Though, my dad has both arms…and he’s not a vet. But I swear they are alike. You might also remember me mentioning Calhoun in Tackling YA in Diversity, where I explain how I went about writing a character with a disability.

girls

Michele: 17, mother figure of the Northern Flock (Her origin story is up on Wattpad: Read Michele)

But the most beautiful one was the woman. She was tall and willowy, with long white hair and gray eyes like mine. Unlike me, though, every part of her seemed soft, like a warm glow followed her around wherever she went.

11-y-o Note: I definitely kept her white hair, and the character is almost always wearing black in the book as well.

Ami: 14, member of the Southern Flock. (Hates being called “Ami.” Her name is Ameline Marion Lachance.) 

When I first laid eyes on the girl, she was dressed head to toe in pink. Her blonde hair was threaded back into intricate braids, and a bow sat at the end of the braids where the golden strands came together. When Ami cried, she swung her head back and forth, and the bow swayed like a pendulum, all neat and tidy like a present.

11-y-o Note: You can’t really see the doll’s hairstyle anymore, but it was there. I promise. I also used pink on this character a lot.

Tessa: 9, member of the Northern Flock (too small to crush on Adam, but apparently, all the girls like Adam…maybe I should’ve shared Adam…Adam’s origin story is also up on Wattpad: Read Adam)

I pointed to the girl with pigtail braids. “That’s Tessa.”

“So what?” Tessa said, looking over her shoulder at Adam, then to me, her earthy brown eyes matching her powers and her complexion.

11-y-o Note: Her hair, like Ami’s, used to be tied up, too.

The End.

On a serious note, I think writing can be explored in a million ways, and I love my shameless Barbie play. I’ve legitimately called my #1 beta reader complaining of being stuck and she has asked me if I pulled the Barbies out yet. Having a physical representation works for me. I definitely don’t use their descriptions in newer writings, but I wanted to keep what I could for the rewrite since this particular work was built upon them. Imagination shouldn’t be chained to rules. Find what works for you, explore how you want, and daydream until the end of time. Even if that means playing with dolls.

Original posted April 19, 2014

It actually has different dolls and characters, but some of those characters have changed, so I didn’t include them in this post.

~SAT

To everyone I met at BFest this week, thank you for coming out! 

I had a blast!

BFest2016

If you missed out, you can buy signed books from Barnes & Noble in Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, KS and in Zona Rosa in Kansas City, MO!

For you online readers, don’t forget that Minutes Before Sunset, book 1 in the Timely Death Trilogy, is FREE right now. (And book 2 and book 3 are available, so no waiting!)

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1:

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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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#SATurdate: Peaky Blinders, Embassy Row 3, Dido, & Don’t You Cry

4 Jun

What I’m Writing:

Right now, I have three manuscripts complete: Take Me Tomorrow, Take Me Yesterday (though I need to edit it), and the mysterious D. Now, I add the equally mysterious S. I’m still on a bit of a writing hiatus, but S is a manuscript I’d love to chase after the Tomo Trilogy and D. (It never ends, does it?) The reason I think S could be so neat is because it’s the first book I’m determined to save any and all notes while writing it. You see, I’m a thrower outer. I don’t like keeping my notes or old scenes or original files. I feel like keeping old materials holds me back in a jinx sort of a way. This makes it really difficult later on when I’m asked how I built my book from scratch…which means this novel—no matter how long it takes—could be the first one I’m keeping real insight on…or at least, a more than usual amount. (I’m still throwing out a lot. I honestly can’t help myself.) That being said, it’s a YA fantasy, and I’ve written the first two chapters, so it’s only 3,787 words so far. I’ve outlined the next twelve chapters or so as well. I look forward to seeing where this project might take me one day.

What I’m Publishing:

Wattpad RyneI hope you enjoyed this week’s #TeaserTuesday! If you didn’t see it, check out my right side tool bar. You’ll also see the link to Ryne’s Story—the fourth origin story in the FREE Bad Bloods Prequel on Wattpad—but first a sneak peek of his story: I never thought I was shallow until life proved that I was.

The #1lineWed preview was “late” so here’s this week’s preview: It was too late. There, standing right in front of me, was a group of people in riot gear, guns drawn, badges blazing.

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

What I’m Reading:

Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica

Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

I finished Winter by Marissa Meyer, and of course I rated it 5 stars. The Lunar Chronicles is a wonderful sci-fi/fantasy YA series for those of you who love fairy tale retellings. I really enjoyed Winter as a character, and the ending was priceless. Funny story, though. I was having issues posting a review to Amazon. They rejected me not once, not twice, but THREE times before I lost it and e-mailed them. Turns out it was because of my use of “idiot” which was a direct quote from the book:

“You might be an idiot, but I assure you, you’re quite a lovable one.”

He shook his head. “You’re the only person in the galaxy who would ever call me lovable.”

“I’m the only person in the galaxy crazy enough to believe it.”

Read my five-star review here.

I also began Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica. I actually won this book through Goodreads, and I’m enjoying it so far! It’s very vivid and suspenseful. I’m about 120 pages in.

What I’m Listening To:

Dido! She sings to my soul. She also happens to sing songs that I’m listening to while writing S.

What I’m Watching:

I went back to the theatre this week to see Alice Through the Looking Glass! I thought it was wonderful, but I spent most of my week watching the third season of Peaky Blinders on Netflix. If you love gangsters, Peaky Blinders is for you. This season was a bit more…crazy? (eh-hem, Russians)…than usual, but I enjoyed it, and I’m excited it was already renewed for a season 4 and 5.

netflix-Peaky-Blinders

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

13321957_1054522697928244_5706116307588296462_nI baked s’mores cookies this week! Here is the recipe I used, though I used dark chocolate, mini marshmallows, and an extra egg.

If you want summer s’mores but you also want cookies, this is the perfect recipe! They are super gooey in their marshmallow glory, and I loved how the dark chocolate cut through the sweetness. A great summer treat.

What I’m Wearing:

Sandals…because my cat Kiki decided to ATTACK the back of my foot. After I dropped a cup and scared her by accident, she went into fight mode and went crazy cat with her claws. I can’t wear normal shoes at all. 

What I’m Wanting:

Take The Key and Lock Her Up

Take The Key and Lock Her Up

Take The Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter! She revealed the cover this week, and I’m DYING for book 3 of the Embassy Row series. If you haven’t read her Embassy Row series, do it now. It’s fantastic, and Ally Carter’s cliffhangers kill me every time. If you’re curious about this series, read my 5-star reviews of All Fall Down (book 1) and See How They Run (book 2).

What I’m Dreaming Of:

I invited everyone to Kansas for a book event, but then there was an earthquake…which happened to kill everyone at the event? So, Kansas accused me of witch craft, and chased me down until the end of time. (Please don’t take this as an omen for future book signings like I did. I was TERRIFIED when I woke up.)

What Else Is Going On:

After working for a couple of companies and loyal clients, I’ve added an additional option to my services page. I’m now ghostwriting articles and managing blogs, so if you are interested in having some help in the blog-o-sphere, check out my Services page.

~SAT

#SATurdate: The Jungle Book, Thunderclap, and Through the Looking Glass

21 May

What I’m Writing:

This week I finished my initial edit of D, and now that I’ve cranked that entire manuscript out in a ridiculous amount of time, Shannon is taking a much-needed break. But hey! I have three novels complete and ready to pursue publication. I’m sure I’ll recover from writers’ burnout soon.

What I’m Publishing:

I received the book business cards and banner! I will show everyone those soon, and hopefully, give away some swag. My Thunderclap for Bad Bloods just started, too! What’s a Thunderclap? It’s an automatic social media post about Bad Bloods that will release on July 18, 2016. You can sign up for Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr, and it really helps little authors like me out. I’d appreciate any and all help. Sign up here

maggieIn other news, the Bad Bloods Prequel continues with Maggie’s story on Wattpad! Read how she joined the Northern Flock by clicking her name or start on the first chapter by clicking the prequel link. There are currently three chapters out: Adam, Michele, and Maggie. Now, a sneak peek from Maggie: Surely even the best gifts are worth less than saving a life.

The #1lineWed preview was “hooks,” which means any line that ends a chapter, so this week’s preview is actually a line from a previous Teaser Tuesday, so you might recognize it! We bled the same as humans, but there was one difference. We bled too much.

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.
draft3

What I’m Reading:

I’m reading Genesis Girl by Jennifer Bardsley, and it’s great so far! If you love light YA sci-fi/dystopian romance, you’ll enjoy this book. It is set in the future where certain people are raised without a digital footprint (no photos, Internet, etc.), and then, they are sold on their 18th birthday to the highest bidder.

What I’m Listening To:

I currently have a Disney sing-along CD in my Vietnam pickup, and let me tell you, it’s the best thing that’s happened to me all week. Singing “Under the Sea” while it’s pouring rain (and you’re terrified of driving in the rain) helps everything.

What I’m Watching:

I FINALLY saw The Jungle Book, and I LOVED it. (Duh.) I thought Neel Sethi was fantastic! And the graphics were both lovely and haunting and evocative. I enjoyed the songs, and I definitely enjoyed hearing some of my favorite actors among the cast—including Christopher Walken and Bill Murray. Fun fact: Bill Murray’s brother voiced the Disney Baloo, which is why Bill Murray is voicing this Baloo. (There’s actually a lot of interesting facts about this movie. Check them out on IMDB. I thought they were really neat.) My favorite part? The ending. It’s nail-biting craziness.

The-Jungle-Book-Movie-Wallpapers

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

No baking this week! Sorry, folks. When the family is in town, it’s a lot of busy craziness. I’ll make cookies or cake next week, so look out.

What I’m Wearing:

Pajamas! Yeah, vacation.

What I’m Wanting:

Alice_Through_the_Looking_Glass_(film)_posterI want to see the new Alice Through the Looking Glass movie. And the X-Men: Apocalypse movie. And (surprisingly) the new Emma Roberts/Dave Franco film, Nerve. I say surprisingly only because I’m not normally an Emma Roberts fan, but that movie looks right up my alley.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

I had a dream that I went to one of those slasher parties. What’s a slasher party? You know, those rumored events that extremely rich people attend to watch terrible things happen to people? Yeah. I was at one of those for some reason, and the party was held in a basement of a hospital. Why? No clue. Shannon’s brain is crazy. But as I was leaving—wearing a ridiculously expensive gown…through a hospital…though no one seemed to notice me anyway…I started screaming out that I had snot all over my face. (Plot twist.) I woke up, and I, in fact, did have a face issue. My allergies. They took over my dreams. Then again, not a bad thing consider the whole slasher vibe.

What Else Is Going On:

instaI had out-of-town family in town, so I didn’t have much news this week! I’m looking forward to next week’s chaos. But I did release exciting future news! Come see me at the Barnes & Noble for B-Fest in Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, KS on Saturday, June 11 from 1-3 PM for a book signing and author panel. More info on my Events page.

~SAT

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