Tag Archives: science fiction

Podcasts for Writers, SFF, & More

20 Mar

I love podcasts. Since I spend most of my day on the computer, I’ve fallen in love with listening to podcasts while I’m off the computer. It helps me rest my eyes, while also giving me a chance to continue my research—whether it’s for publishing or writing in general. Below, I’m including my top three writing podcasts, which any writer could enjoy, along with my favorite inspirational podcasts for science fiction and fantasy. (Oh, and some extras.)

Writing Podcasts

Writing Excuses, PubCrawl, and The Manuscript Academy podcasts

Writing Excuses: This is my go-to podcast for writers. Every season has a specific focus—this year being structure—and the episodes are quick but informative. “Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.”

PubCrawl: Hosted by Kelly and S. Jae Jones, PubCrawl covers everything, from writing to social media to publishing promotion. I love how candid the hosts are, especially about life after publication. Their honesty is refreshing, as well as eye opening, and they’ve interviewed specific authors about certain books. Hearing about those authors’ inspiration is really interesting. My favorite recent episode was Author Life: Public vs. Private, which covered how to separate yourself from your public self.

The Manuscript Academy: A sister podcast for MSWL (manuscript wish list), this podcast is fairly new but totally awesome. From agent interviews to behind-the-scenes in publishing houses, The Manuscript Academy covers any and all topics that can help you navigate your publishing journey. Recently, they even allowed listeners to submit first pages to be reviewed. Definitely check out this podcast—and MSWL—if you’re hunting for an agent, but I’d recommend this podcast to any writer at any point in their journey.

SFF/Fantasy Inspiration

Lore, The Morbid Curiosity, and Myths & Legends podcast

These podcasts aren’t necessarily science fiction or fantasy, but I am OBSESSED with them. There’s nothing more inspiring than hearing spooky (and sometimes factual) tales from all over the world.

Lore: Lore is my all-time favorite podcast. It explores the darker side of history, including the paranormal. But sometimes, reality is scarier than the paranormal. Trust me, this one is worth it. Aaron Mahnke, the host, is also an author. He also just signed a book deal with Penguin Random House! And he has a TV show releasing. Both will be based on this podcast, and I cannot wait.

Morbid Curiosity: I just started listening to this podcast, and I cannot stop. Also, it’s just as it sounds. This podcast covers topics for the morbidly curious. Think serial killers or medieval torture devices or the wendigo. Anything really. My favorite part is the various topics—and how the host points listeners to places where they can get additional information.

Myths & Legends: This is the first podcast I ever binge listened to. If you love Greek and Norse mythology, King Arthur, and tales from other cultures, this podcast is for you. My favorite episodes are the ones that cover stories from other cultures. (Though I’m in love with Greek mythology.) Each episode also includes a creature of the week.

Other Podcasts

True Crime Podcasts

If you’re a podcast junkie like I am, I thought I’d cover a couple others I love. Truthfully, I mainly listen to true crime. My favorite is Generation Why, which is actually based out of KC where I am! Something I didn’t even know when I started listening to them. They cover famous (and often strange) criminal cases. I also love Court Junkie, Criminal, Serial, Detective, and The Vanished. (Told you I was a true crime junkie.) Court Junkie covers crazy court cases. Criminal is any topic dealing with crime. Serial is the famous podcast that covered the cases of Adnan Syed and Bowe Bergdahl. I preferred Adnan’s case, but they’re both interesting. Detective interviews a new detective every season, and The Vanished covers cases involving currently missing people.

Guilty Feminist podcast

Lastly, I recommend The Guilty Feminist for everyone. Just as it sounds, The Guilty Feminist covers feminism but from a no-pressure standpoint. The hosts are comedians, and there are also guest comedians who come on to talk about certain topics. I find it both informative, safe, and fun. It’s a great podcast for anyone, and I recommend it to everyone I know all the time.

Podcasts can help writers continue their research and inspiration while off the computer. I hope you love them as much as I do.

What are your favorite podcasts?

~SAT

P.S. BOOK BLOGGERS, you can now sign up for the July Lightning book blitz. Click the link for more info. (There’s also a book blitz for July Thunder.) You’ll receive exclusive excerpts, ARCS, and more.

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… 😀

#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

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

Preorder Bad Bloods

Preorder Bad Bloods

 

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

9 Jul

What I’m Writing:

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

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

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

What I’m Publishing:

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

What are readers already saying?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

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

Visit the Pinterest and Facebook Pages.

What I’m Reading:

Let There Be Linda by Rich Leder

Let There Be Linda by Rich Leder

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

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

What I’m Listening To:

Postmodern Jukebox is basically my favorite YouTube channel around.

 What I’m Watching:

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

Independence Day Resurgence

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

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

ALIENS.

Finding Dory, Unsealed, Conjuring 2

Finding Dory, Unsealed, Conjuring 2

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

Cream cheese stuffed muffins

Cream cheese stuffed muffins

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

What I’m Wearing:

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

What I’m Wanting:

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

What I’m Dreaming Of:

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

What Else Is Going On:

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

~SAT

#SATurdate: Salt to the Sea, Death Note, The Turncoat’s Gambit, & Tallulah

2 Jul

What I’m Writing:

Honestly, I go through phases where I dread writing. Mainly because I’m stretching myself too thin and/or trying to find my footing in my next project. I think I’m in the middle of both of those issues. I have three completed manuscripts—one of which needs editing—I want to start something new, but I’m also EXHAUSTED. All that being said, I started yet another novel. It’s my second attempt at a contemporary, but again, I. am. struggling. I know I’ll find my footing in one of my projects, but I haven’t hit solid ground yet. Between BFest, Bad Bloods releasing, and my day job, life hasn’t afforded me a lot free time for writing either (which might be part of the problem). Let me put it this way, I only wrote 5,000 words…in June. IN ALL OF JUNE. I need a hug. But I will power through it!

What I’m Publishing:

A new review is in of November Snow! “Truly, Thompson has done an incredible job here of story weaving. Just wonderful. Don’t underestimate your need for tissues here people, don’t do it. Prepare yourself with tissues and a cuddly stuffed animal.” – Babbling Books (Seriously, listen to her advice. Tissues will come in handy.)

Catelyn's Story on Wattpad

Catelyn’s Story on Wattpad

This week, Catelyn’s Story released on the FREE Bad Bloods Prequel on Wattpad. This is also the first origin story seen from the Southern Flock’s perspective. They formed later than the Northern Flock, so from now on, you’ll see stories flip back and forth between the two flocks. If you ever wondered why the groups of bad bloods are called flocks, this origin story explains why! In Bad Bloods, Catelyn is Serena’s best friend. Here is a preview: The girl was pretty enough for plenty of crimes. Read her story by clicking the link.

Also, because I created three cartoon photos of the first three characters, here are three cartoon versions of the most recent stories: Ryne, Violet, and Catelyn.

Ryne, Violet, Catelyn

Ryne, Violet, Catelyn

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

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

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

Visit the Pinterest and Facebook Pages.

Preorder Bad Bloods

Preorder Bad Bloods

What I’m Reading:

Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea

I began and finished Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. Heartbreaking and terrifying, yet informative, Salt to the Sea is an emotional story about the Wilhelm Gustloff, the single greatest tragedy in maritime history. Told from four different perspectives, Sepetys focused on young adults and how World War II was affecting their lives forever. I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially those who wish to learn more about how WWII affected the youth and what happened to the Wilhelm Gustloff. All that being said, this book is not for the light-hearted. Though I still think the light-hearted should read it, Salt to the Sea is graphic. I know there are scenes that will never leave me. But if I can call something graphic and beautifully written in the same breath, this book deserves that statement. You can read my full 5-star review here.

What I’m Listening To:

Wounded Rhymes album by Lykke Li. I was driving between cities a lot this week, and this was my soundtrack for the week.

What I’m Watching:

I saw Death Note for the first time! (I know. I know. Crazy, right?) I LOVE anime, but I’ve never seen Death Note despite the crazy big fan base. (Perhaps that’s why I haven’t seen it?) I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I LOVED it from episode 1. I have about 10 episodes left, but I think it’s fantastic. And I definitely think the shinigami are adorable.

I also watched 10 Cloverfield Lane, which I have mixed feelings about. I actually remember seeing Cloverfield in the theatre when I was 16, so seeing this kind-of-sequel-but-not-a-sequel of Cloverfield, was interesting. I think I had a more uncommon opinion by actually liking the first half more than the second half. I thought it was more psychological suspense at first, and then, it turned into a crazy sci-fi battle. The genre mashing didn’t feel very smooth, but it was an entertaining movie!

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

I baked stuffed peppers this week, and they were awesome! I’ve never made them before, so it was a plus that the recipe was easy. No desserts this week, but I promise they are coming.

What I’m Wearing:

I took new author photos this week, so look out for that! I wore two different outfits—one pink one, one blue one—and I’m excited to change my look. I saw a preview, and the photographer is awesome. 

What I’m Wanting:

Tallulah! That movie looks awesome. Why oh why was the release date July 29 and not June 29???

The Turncoat's Tambit by Andrea Cremer

The Turncoat’s Tambit by Andrea Cremer

Also, I LOVE The Inventor’s Secret by Andrea Cremer (and the sequel, The Conjurer’s Riddle). They are some of my favorite reads, so I cannot WAIT until November when book 3 of the trilogy releases. The Turncoat’s Gambit looks fantastic! November cannot come fast enough. Click the links if you wish to read my reviews of the first two books. I highly recommend this steampunk series.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

So, I became the first American to become the Queen of England. (Don’t ask me why or how or even if I understand why I had this dream…I mean, I do stalk the Queen’s corgis.) But, yes, I was “voted” in to become the next Queen of England, and everyone was—naturally—very put off by this. Even I was like, “Are you sure? I don’t know about this. Seems strange.” But everyone who voted was like, “You MUST!” So, I had to accept during this party, which was, apparently, only on the other side of the castle, but I had to go through all these secret passageways to get there, and there were assassins around every corner trying to kill me. They never killed me, but they did trap me, and it took me three hours to get out, but I got to the party…and everyone had left. The big surprise was that the Queen owned a Wheel of Fortune game that every Queen has to play in order to become Queen? But of course I was too late, so I didn’t get to play or become Queen. But I did get to play with her corgis.

What Else Is Going On:

I did a podcast interview this week. I look forward to sharing it, since the podcast focuses on Kansas City writers!

~SAT

#WW How to Create Book Teasers on a Small Budget

15 Jun

I love book teasers! I mean, who doesn’t? They are gorgeous, fun, and an easy way to get a feel for a book. But book teasers can be a pain to create, not to mention expensive, and because of this, many authors shy away from them. That being said, it might be easier than you think. Yes, even on a small budget. Yes, even without Adobe Photoshop. Yes, even when you have to make them all on your own. How do I know this? Because I did it.

1. Pick A Stock Photo Website

This is where you are going to spend your budget. In fact, this is the ONLY place I spent money. The rest of my process is free. I currently use Fotolia, though my example is from Deposit Photos. On a fun note though, there is a completely free stock photo website I love using for articles—Pexels—but it’s limited, so I highly suggest subscribing to another website as well. An important step in choosing a stock photo website is comparing prices (some charge by photo, some charge by how many times you use the photo, and some charges change based on the license you buy). Once you choose a company, though, you aren’t done. Understanding how photo licenses work is vital. Figure out if you can alter the image, if you have to credit the photographer, if you can use it to sell items, and if there is a limit to how many times you can use the photo. Once you find images you can use, you are ready to go on! Below, you’ll see a stock photo I transformed into a #TeaserTuesday. (I kept the watermark in the original to ensure the image would not be stolen.)

exam

A stock photo transformed into a book teaser

2. No Photoshop? No Problem. Use Pixlr.

I don’t own Adobe Photoshop. (It’s on my goals of software to own!) But not having Adobe Photoshop can make editing photos really difficult, especially when it comes to sizing photos and editing layers. Solution? Pixlr. In Pixlr, you can create a perfectly sized photo, add layers, edit layers, and transform your piece. (FYI: The dimensions for Instagram photos is 612 x 612 pixels. The dimensions for a FB cover photo is 851 x 315 pixels. Other dimensions can be found online.) Pixlr is where I start, because I can create those perfect dimensions for my pictures and see how my various layers will look. In my example, this is where I edited how I wanted the woman’s face to appear and where I wanted the logos to be. I will confess that I do not add my book covers as layers on here, because the clarity doesn’t transfer once saved. For that, I downloaded Collage Creator Lite, a free app from the Apple Store, and while that means I end up with a lot of white space when I click save, I crop the white space out in the next step and my original dimensions remain the same. I also find the Pixlr fonts rather plain, so I save that for the next step, but you can use Pixlr’s fonts, themes, and more.

3. Finish Up in PicMonkey & Ribbet

I live on PicMonkey. I love the filters, the stamps, the texts, and the themes. I find it easy to use, but more importantly, I find it fun! If you feel like spending money, you can buy a Royal account, which gives you access to more fonts and pictures, but I think the free version is perfectly fine. You can even add your own fonts if you own any on your computer. The clarity stays after saving, though you can only save your work as a jpeg file, so make sure it’s what you want before you exit out, or you will have to start over. The other thing I would mention is to use Google Chrome. I find it works best on there. But overall, I love finishing my photos with their fonts and other fun options. Ribbet is another free website I use, and it’s very similar, so finding which one you like better is up to you.

Additional tips?

Try to target different types of readers (as long as it’s appropriate for your book). For instance, I focused on various aspects of my Bad Bloods novels when I set out to create teasers. I knew I wanted sci-fi/dystopian scenes, but I also wanted to show the romance, the mystery, the political heartache, and the threat of death. I went through my manuscript and found lines that focused on those emotions, and then, I went from there. I kept an open mind, searching for both symbolic photos (like a grave for death) and literal photos (like a blonde woman for Serena, my protagonist who is blonde). In the end, I created 13 differently themed teasers for my marketing plan. Though how to create a marketing plan in another story, I created my teasers FAR in advance so that I could share a new #TeaserTuesday for the ten weeks leading up to the release dates, while saving three teasers for after the release. (And of course I can use them again in the future). I revolved my teasers around other marketing plans, such as releasing a full moon teaser on July 19, which happens to be a full moon that night. I definitely believe in planning ahead.

Making teasers doesn’t have to be overwhelming or expensive. Sure, it takes time, and sometimes, you’ll spend an hour on something before you scrap it, but in the end, I think it’s worth it, and I will definitely create more teasers for future novels.

Keep an open mind, test out different themes, make a plan, and have fun!

~SAT

teaser12Did you see the new Bad Bloods teaser? If not, now you do! A new one releases every Tuesday, and a new origin story releases this Friday on the Bad Bloods Prequel, FREE on Wattpad. Also, I’m looking for book bloggers to read and review Bad Bloods, so send me an e-mail at shannonathompson@aol.com if you’re interested.

What are readers already saying? 

“The best duology I’ve ever read! Action packed. Fast paced. Heartbreaking. The ending brought me to tears and made my heart melt.” – Crazy Beautiful Reads

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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#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:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksSmashwordsKoboGoodreads

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

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