Writing Tips

#MondayBlogs: Writing Tips for a Trilogy or Series

So, you have an idea for a trilogy or series. Awesome! Writing a series can be a lot of fun. I mean, who doesn’t want to spend more time with their characters and worlds? But many aspiring writers aren’t sure where to start, and writing a series is a lot of work. With these three steps, though, it might be a little easier than you think.

1. Determine the arc for the series—and each book

This step is important for your series whether or not your books will be standalones or need to be read in order. Each book should have an arc (and don’t forget that every character in your series should have an arc, too). On top of that, your overall series should have an arc. This means each book is building up to something by itself and working together to build up to something bigger. One easy way to do this is to consider your “sub-genre.” Maybe your first book of your paranormal romance trilogy will be a mystery (Who is the villain?), while your second book will be a thriller (We have to run from the villain!) and your last book will be your adventure (We have to go after the villain!). This method ensures each book brings something new to the series, while also working through an overall arc (in the example’s case, defeating the villain). Again, this is only one method, but you can mix and match to study your series and determine if you are keeping your books fresh and exciting but also unified.

Writing Tips for a Trilogy or Series
Writing Tips for a Trilogy or Series

2.  Keep Notes

Consistency is SO important. You might think you know your characters from top to bottom, but chances are, you don’t. We’re only human. We can only remember so much, and as your cast grows and changes, it gets harder and harder to remember every little detail. That being said, you must remain consistent throughout each book. You wouldn’t want a side character who is allergic to chocolate in book one to eat chocolate ice cream in book five. Same goes for scenes. If you’ve said a door was to the right, it better be to the right in the other books, too. Personally, I keep a file on places and characters, and I create an overall timeline. What’s a timeline? This tracks years before and during the books. This means if I have a character who says she broke her leg at five years old in book one, she says she was five in book three, not nine. Another file I keep is a summary of what was told to each character in previous chapters so I know what my characters know from scene to scene. It seems easy to remember, and it might be for some, but sometimes, we have to go work on something else or step away for a few months, and it can be hard to remember when you return. Keeping notes is never a bad idea.

3. Be Open

Writing a series is hard, even with a plan. But don’t fret! We all know that writers aren’t completely in charge of their characters, worlds, or ideas. Sometimes, the protagonist throws a curve ball, and everything changes. That’s okay! Think of writing a series like a road trip: You know where you’re starting, you probably know where it’s going to end, and you might have places you want to visit in between. But there might be some surprises along the way. Embrace them, and keep going. That’s where the fun is. And don’t give up! Following your dream is worth it, even if you have to rewrite that dream a couple of times along the way.

Original posted September 5, 2013

In this article, I discuss lessons I learned while writing my first two trilogies.

~SAT

A new review came in for 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.

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

Miscellaneous

June’s Ketchup

Another month has passed, and with it, came the summer and my 25th birthday. GEEZ.

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 June.

Big Moments:

Other than turning 25 this month, I hosted two author panels and book signings at Barnes and Noble in Overland Park, KS and Barnes & Noble in Kansas City, MO for BFest, and BFest was a blast! I had a great time discussing writing novels with avid readers and aspiring writers.

BFest 2016
BFest 2016

We’re officially less than a month away from the Bad Bloods book release, and there are a million ways to win prizes, including signed paperbacks. Enter this Goodreads Giveaway, e-mail shannonathompson@aol.com to sign up for a release day post, and come to the CTP’s Sizzling Summer Reads FB Party on July 8.

This month, the free Bad Bloods Prequel continued on Wattpad with two more origin stories. Meet Violet and Ryne. Violet is directly connected to The Timely Death Trilogy, so if you want to know what happened to Eric and Jessica after Death Before Daylight, Violet’s origin story is a must-read. If you haven’t read The Timely Death Trilogy, book one – Minutes Before Sunset – is free on all platforms! In July, you’ll meet Catelyn, Niki, and Blake!

My #1 SEO Term was “November Rain by Shannon A. Thompson” and November Rain was my #1 clicked item this month!

THANK YOU. 

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

Top Three Blog Posts:

1. 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.

2. So, You Want To Be A Book Blogger: Book bloggers are my best friends, and a huge part of my day job is connecting authors with book bloggers. I also used to be a book blogger, so I thought I would rewrite this popular post to explain how aspiring book bloggers can get started with their website.

3. 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.

Other Blog Posts:

#1 Referrer was WordPress' Reader
#1 Referrer was WordPress’ Reader

Taking a Writing Break (And Why It’s Important): After finishing a manuscript (or three), it’s nice (and important) to take a break. Let yourself recover. Clear your mind. Breathe a little bit.

Writing With Barbie: I use Barbies to write my novels. No shame. And I shared how Barbies affected my upcoming release, Bad Bloods.

Writing Tips: Build Your Vocabulary: Writers need words to write, but what happens when you don’t know that many words? This is how you can build your vocabulary naturally and NOT fall into the Thesaurus trap.

#SATurdate: BFest, YouTube Tropes, Thirteen Reasons Why, and My Library: A weekly update on what I’m reading, watching, baking, and listening to.

How Pre-Orders Help Authors And Readers: Pre-orders are definitely important, but they can also be fun! It’s not all about publishing. Readers can have fun with these tips, too.

#SATurdate: Peaky Blinders, Embassy Row 3, Dido, & Don’t You Cry: A weekly update on what I’m reading, watching, baking, and listening to.

#SATurdate: Me Before You, Thief of Lies, Pit Mad, & Bad Bloods Sequel: A weekly update on what I’m reading, watching, baking, and listening to.

#SATurdate: The Lobster, My 25th Birthday, Spotlight, and Outrun The Moon: A weekly update on what I’m reading, watching, baking, and listening to.

Website Wonders: A monthly classic.

YouTube Channel:

I returned to my YouTube channel – Coffee & Cats – this month by discussing Female Romantic Tropes…We Hate. Of course these tropes work for males, too, but I separated them due to how much it happens to that specific gender. I’ll cover males in July!

 

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:

“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, Bad Bloods: November Snow

“Captivating, strong and thrilling. I recommend November Rain to anyone who loves dystopian and learning the real meaning of trust in a world where trust is just an imagination.” – OMG Books and More Books, Bad Bloods: November Rain

“Fresh and alluring. November Rain is an amazing treat. I loved it and can’t wait to be an avid fan of the series. The series is definitely going to be worth drooling over.” Read, Watch, and Think, Bad Bloods: November Rain

“A fast paced fantasy, sci-fi story full of exciting characters with their own fascinating abilities and background stories. Didn’t disappoint one bit!” – The Book Prints, Bad Bloods: November Rain

“November Rain was thrilling and exciting and gets readers excited for more. It really focuses on the attributes of family, friends and loyalty, which was really refreshing to see in a dystopian novel. I will definitely be continuing on with this duology.” – Ronnie’s World Blog, Bad Bloods: November Rain

“I’m looking forward to delving into the next book to see what unfolds for the characters as I get deeper into the story.” Babbling Books, Bad Bloods: November Rain

June2016

Miscellaneous

#SATurdate: The Lobster, My 25th Birthday, Spotlight, and Outrun The Moon

What I’m Writing:

I’m officially writing in the mysterious book I call “S.” It’s unrelated to The Tomo Trilogy and Dreammare, believe it or not, but I love it all the same. Right now, I only have the first two chapters written, mainly because I’m still world-building, and I imagine this novel is going to take a LONG time. That being said, I drew the official “map” this week—a modern map and a historical one—so you might guess this is a fantasy book. It’s also a very musical book, especially in regards to the protagonist, so I held a little dance party with her this week. She rejoiced. (And we argued about Elvis…Something we disagreed on severely. I mean…he’s my hero. My HERO. And she hated him. #Fail)

What I’m Publishing:

My monthly newsletter went out this week! There are a million ways to win prizes—including signed paperbacks of Bad Bloods—so check out the newsletter by clicking here. I’m looking for bloggers to help with release day! So, let me know if you’re interested at shannonathompson@aol.com. (Also, if you want to review Bad Bloods on your book blog, feel free to mention it!)

Babbling Books Bookstagram
Babbling Books Bookstagram

Specials thanks goes out to my latest reviewers. What did they think of Bad Bloods: November Rain? “Fresh and alluring. November Rain is an amazing treat. I loved it and can’t wait to be an avid fan of the series. The series is definitely going to be worth drooling over.”Read, Watch, and Think

“A fast paced fantasy and sci-fi story full of exciting characters with their own fascinating abilities and background stories. Didn’t disappoint one bit! For fans of Red Queen and Shatter Me: this one is definitely something you should check out!” Book Prints

Book Prints and Babbling Books also shared photos on Instagram! So, check them out. Babbling Books review of November Rain said, “I’m looking forward to delving into the next book to see what unfolds for the characters as I get deeper into the story.”

Other news? There’s a new Goodreads Giveaway going on for November Rain! Enter below.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

November Rain by Shannon A. Thompson

November Rain

by Shannon A. Thompson

Giveaway ends July 16, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Clean Teen Publishing is also throwing a Facebook party on July 8 from 6-8 PM (EST), where—you guessed it—there will be MORE prizes. Click here to join.

CTP's Sizzling Summer Reads FB Party
CTP’s Sizzling Summer Reads FB Party

This week’s Teaser Tuesday is honestly my favorite one, so I hope you enjoyed it. If you didn’t see it, check out my right side tool bar. Why is this my favorite one? Well, other than me being a sucker for love, Bad Bloods takes place in one month, so a lack of time is a huge factor in all of my characters’ lives. I feel like this line encompasses all of the feelings between the characters, down to the impending doom to the hope they have for their future. I hope you’ll fall in love with Serena and Daniel as much as I did.

The #1lineWed theme was “line” 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:

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

I finished Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee this week, and let me tell you, it’s perfection. Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee is brilliant, terrifying, unifying, and brave. If you aren’t familiar with this novel, Outrun the Moon is about a very intelligent young woman from Chinatown in San Francisco following her studious, entrepreneurial dreams in 1906. This means the story takes place during the historic earthquake, and the disaster definitely changes everything and everyone. If you’re looking for a culturally rich and historically moving piece, this book is for you. Read my full five-star review here. Favorite Quote: “When a law isn’t just, I believe it’s okay to disobey it. In fact, I believe we are morally obligated to disobey it.”

What I’m Listening To:

What I’m Watching:

The Lobster Movie: Swan Poster
The Lobster Movie: Swan Poster

I saw The Lobster, which is an independent British film set in the near dystopian future where single people are forced to fall in love in 45 days or turn into an animal of their choosing. It’s being marketed as a dark comedy, which is…sort of…accurate? I laughed. But I have a really twisted sense of humor, and I’m 99% sure most viewers who like the word “comedy” would not see this as a comedy (especially American viewers). It’s very dark and dry. It’s super twisted. It’s very in-your-face about the patriarchal expectations of dating (and being single) in modern society. And there’s one particular post-violent scene that even made me cringe (and I don’t normally cringe…but I LOVE animals). I’m not sure who I would recommend this to. It’s just one of those films you have to see for yourself. The acting was brilliant. The script, insane. The music, fitting (often in an awkward, lovable way). Colin Farrell was a genius, and I think my favorite part was the scene between the two best friends and the monologue about prom and all that. Hilarious! Oh, and the camel walking through the forest. Oh, and…okay…so maybe I liked this movie more than I thought. I also took a “Which animal would you be alone?” personality quiz, and I was a SWAN. A SWAN. Which, btw, means I would die if my partner dies. (Told you this movie was dark.) Check it out, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I also checked out the pilot episode for The Last Tycoon, because of Lily Collins. I’m a bit obsessed with her. I thought it was great. If you like that Great Gatsby era, you’ll enjoy the show. (Be sure to vote via Amazon Prime, too!) I also died during the finale of Penny Dreadful. I mean….WHAT. WHAAAAAAT the hell was that? No spoilers. But I wasn’t very satisfied. In fact, I was pretty put off. I think they let Vanessa’s character get dragged down by men too much in the end (rather than her strength found in the concentration of her faith, which is what I think they were going for). But, honestly, it ended up coming across as “women are sin and evil, no matter how hard they try to be good.” Also, considering the new characters introduced (who had little to no arc, but were freakin’ awesome), it felt very abrupt for an ultimate ending. But I still love that show and recommend it. Everyone I know who watches it loved the ending. Maybe I am just too in love to let it go. But while I liked the idea of the ending, it felt too rushed to be satisfying.

Spotlight is on Netflix, so I was finally able to see it, and it absolutely crushed me. For those of you unfamiliar with this Oscar-winning film, Spotlight is about reporters coming together to expose the church’s cover up over decades of molestation. Definitely not for the light-hearted, but it’s a brilliant film based on true events, and I highly recommend it.

Spotlight Movie Poster
Spotlight Movie Poster

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

Writer's Coffee Mug
Writer’s Coffee Mug

I’m drinking coffee out of my new, fancy-smancy coffee mug. I know. Someone obviously gets my humor.

Motto: Please do not annoy the writer. She may put you in a book and kill you.

(But, really, I might kill you in a book.)

What I’m Wearing:

I have a photo shoot coming up next week, so I’ve been trying to figure out what clothes should be in my next author photos. We shall see. 

What I’m Wanting:

The Selection Series FINALLY got a new director, so I’m crossing my fingers that it works out this time (since it didn’t the last three times).

What I’m Dreaming Of:

So, I had magical powers, and I managed a magical fortress, but magic is super illegal, and I enjoyed shoving my successful magic endeavor into the government’s faces by hiring a social media manager to share all my awesome magic-ness online. (Guys, I’ve been working too hard.) Well, then, my social media manager was killed in a magic shootout—Okay. So I killed the social media manager out of anger. But still—and so, an apprentice of mine called a company to hire a new one, which of course tipped off the local police where we were hiding. (In a beautiful log cabin, by the way.) But I ran out to escape, and THERE WAS A DINOSAUR. (For those of you just reading my blog for the first time, I am LEGIT terrified of dinosaurs. Like, I have nightmares when I see Jurassic Park movie trailers. I blame my older brother for scarring me in the 90s.) But, yes, there was a T-Rex walking through the woods, trying to find me, that the government sent to keep me in place. And I stayed (because…dinosaur). In the end, they arrested me and all my magical criminal friends, and I woke up, kind of glad that the dream didn’t end with the T-Rex chomping my head off. (Because we all know that’s happened before.)

What Else Is Going On:

s'mores
s’mores

So, I turned 25 on June 23, which means I’m officially a quarter of a century old. I celebrated by making s’mores in the middle of the night, and then working all day long. (Who gets to relax nowadays?) But really, it was a great birthday, and I really enjoyed hearing from so many of you. Thank you for being awesome. Here’s to the next 25 years.

~SAT

Miscellaneous

#WW How Pre-Orders Help Authors And Readers

The importance of pre-orders is not a publishing secret. Dozens if not hundreds of articles cover how, when, and why authors should make upcoming releases available for pre-order. Why? The main reason tends to be placement on various lists—such as best-seller lists and coming soon lists—before or on release day. These lists allow new or undiscovered authors to increase their chances of being seen by voracious readers, and I definitely recommended listing your book for pre-orders before it comes out! For more information, check out these awesome articles that include in-depth details about tackling pre-orders as an author.

Pre-Ordering Books
Pre-Ordering Books

But pre-orders aren’t only about writers; they can also help readers.

How?

Well, pay attention to your favorite authors on social media and beyond. Many authors and publishers offer special prizes, like early sneak peeks or signed swag, if you pre-order an upcoming release. Just last night, for instance, A.G. Howard – the author of Splintered (and one of my YA heroes) – offered advanced reader copies of her latest, RoseBlood, to readers, but if I hadn’t been following her, I wouldn’t have seen that. Pre-ordering also guarantees you’ll be one of the first people to read the latest and greatest novels, because—chances are—you’ll get your eBook delivered to your Kindle at midnight while others are waiting for the bookstore to open in the morning. Sometimes, authors might even pick out pre-order peeps for advance reader copies. So, stalk…I mean, check out authors and what they’re up to when you can.

Here are some ways to follow your favorite authors: Click the “Follow” button on their Amazon or Goodreads profile, subscribe to their newsletters, add them to a list you create on Twitter, like them on Facebook (and subscribe to notifications), follow them on Instagram or SnapChat, and don’t hesitate to reach out.

Pre-orders often help authors, publishers, and readers alike, but they can be a lot of fun, too!

~SAT

Bad Bloods Teaser
Bad Bloods Teaser

So, I turn 25 tomorrow. Yeah, birthdays! I’ll officially be a quarter of a century old…and I’ll be working, but if you want to help a girl celebrate, pre-order ANY book you’ve been dying to get!

Also, shameless plug, Bad Bloods releases next month. Did you see the new teaser? It’s honestly my favorite one. What can I say? I’m a sucker for love. And despite Bad Bloods taking place in the month of November, there is some romance in my upcoming duology. This is a direct line from the book, but I hope you fall in love with Daniel and Serena like I did.

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

Goodreads Book Giveaway

November Rain by Shannon A. Thompson

November Rain

by Shannon A. Thompson

Giveaway ends July 16, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Miscellaneous

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

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

Writing Tips

#WW The 90-10 Rule for Marketing and Writing, and How To Love It.

I recently attended the 101st Annual Missouri Writers’ Guild Conference, and a lot of aspiring authors asked about how much marketing they would be expected to do. One instance in particular seemed to shock many. Janell Walden Agyerman from Marie Brown Literary Agency stated most of her authors followed the 90-10 rule. What’s the 90-10 rule? 90% marketing, 10% writing.

This is a standard many writers don’t like to hear, and it’s true all across the board. Whether you’re self-published, indie published, or traditionally published, you should prepare for the 90-10 rule.

Granted, I understand dreading marketing. I understand worrying about getting so caught up in the sales part that you forget the writing part. I understand feeling like you’re not sure what to do or how to do it.

This is why I suggest keeping a writing-marketing calendar.

What is a writing-marketing calendar? It’s a calendar ONLY used to keep track of how much marketing and writing you’re doing and why.

And today, I’m going to show everyone mine. Granted, this method is NOT for everyone, but I swear by it. My calendar keeps me organized, inspired, and motivated. I can see where I wrote, how far I’ve come, and if I need to step up my game somehow. This particularly helps me, because I work a full-time job outside of my writing. Granted, I consider my writing career my SECOND full-time job. Why?

Well, you’re about to see. But my writing-marketing calendar keeps me motivated outside of my other job. It forces me to keep going, even when I’m exhausted, even when I feel like I want to lay on the couch and watch TV, even when I don’t feel like I can go on anymore. So…here we go:

My Author Calendar

In reality, I keep a notebook, but I couldn’t take a picture of it, because I have information in there I can’t release publicly. So, to show everyone what I do, I adjusted my calendar onto the iCalendar. This is my real-life events for April of 2016. That being said, this is the BASICS. For instance, I wrote down when I wrote articles on this calendar, but I didn’t take note of when they were posted or how many comments and interaction I had to do. Why? Well, I always post on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and I record social media stats every first of the month. So that’s an entirely different file I keep. (Can you tell I’m a file person?) Writing is business. Staying organized is key…and below, you can read my calendar key.

If you want a calendar key:

Red is physical work: moving offices, book swaps, shipping, shopping for desks, organizing my stock piles of books, letters, stamps, etc.

Orange is my website only: writing articles, updating links, etc.

Green is meetings: This is the stuff I have to censor. It includes discussions with my publisher, with fellow authors, with bookstores, and other business professionals. I kept some details in there, like my attendance to the Missouri Writers’ Guild Conference and prepping the first pages for said conference, but it’s too complicated to fit and/or get into. This would be where you’re calling bookstores for signings or a beta reader for progress and suggestions.

Purple is marketing: This includes my Twitter series #AuthorinaCoffeeShop, and shopping around for stock photos and creating teasers and book trailers. I include formatting here, since it was visual, but this is mainly where I work on my overall marketing plan for upcoming releases. That being said, this is BY FAR all that I do. I post on FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc. almost every single day, and I don’t include any of that, because it’s a give-in.

Only blue is my writing…if I got to write that day. You’ll probably notice I don’t write in novels every day, but hey, I went from 27,457 words to 76,617 in one month. I was pretty happy with that. You might notice I have different books, too (S and D). I also include research and editing under this. I probably won’t record any writings I do “for fun.” This is strictly for books heading toward a publication path.

Again, this is everything I do OUTSIDE of my full-time job. You might notice that I’m missing this lovely thing called weekends. Out of thirty days, I either took two days off or I was too exhausted that I didn’t write my days down. It’s honestly hard to say, but if I had to guess, it’s probably the latter. I try to do something every day, no matter what, even if only for an hour.

I highly believe in keeping track of your progress for organizational purposes as well as motivational ones. For instance, if I see I’ve been marketing a lot but not writing a thing, I know I can give myself a day to step away and get some words down, and visa versa. Some might be discouraged by this, but I suggest trying it out for one month before you decide. You might be surprised by how much more you get done or how nice it is to see a physical representation of all of your hard work. I don’t know about you all, but since almost everything is on a computer, I sometimes walk away feeling like I did nothing all day. This helps me see that I, in fact, accomplished a lot. It helps me feel proud. It helps me feel like I’m moving forward and working as hard as I can for a better future for both myself and my readers.

I live the 90-10 rule, but I don’t FEEL like I live to 90-10 rule. I feel like I live the 100 rule. 100% focus, work, and dedication to the thing I love most: writing. And now, after I record this article in my writing-marketing calendar, I’m going to sit down to do just that. Write another chapter.

~SAT

instaThe news is out! Come see me at the Barnes & Noble 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.

Did you see this week’s #TeaserTuesday? If not, check out my right side panel. You can also pre-order BOTH Bad Bloods books. A newsletter will go out later this month with more details and prizes, so I hope you’ll sign up for your chance to win.

There’s also a FREE Bad Bloods Prequel releasing on Wattpad, and you can now read Adam’s origin story as well as Michele’s. On top of that, Maggie’s story will release THIS Friday! I hope you’re enjoying it! Don’t forget to pre-order your Bad Bloods books while they’re on sale for a limited time. 😉

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

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November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

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Miscellaneous

#SATurdate: Today’s Book Signing, The Infinite Sea, Shameless, & Puppy Chow

I have my book signing at Barnes & Noble at Bradley Fair in Wichita, Kansas today! Stop by the Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event from 1 to 3 PM to get your books signed by Tamara GranthamCandice GilmerJan SchliesmanAngi Morgan, and me!

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What I’m Writing:

I’m 26,000 words into Take Me Yesterday, which is only 1,000 more than last week, but hey, I’m actually HANDWRITING this entire novel before I type it up. What can I say? Noah is a delicate character. But this is why it’s taking me longer than usual to up that word count. But word count doesn’t matter, right? My goal to complete it before July, but we will see. I’m in no rush. I just want to get it right.

What I’m Publishing:

Special thanks goes out to The Book Forums for sending this awesome e-mail!
Special thanks goes out to The Book Forums for sending this awesome e-mail!

Bad Bloods is on Amazon, but only as a paperback right now. I also gave away an exclusive sneak peek of November Rain to everyone who is subscribed to my newsletter. I hope you enjoyed the first chapter! A special shout out goes to The Book Forums, for sending the awesome e-mail you can read on the right. If you want to have more opportunities like this, be sure to sign up for my newsletter by clicking here. (I’ll probably be offering pre-review copies through my newsletter. Hint hint.) In a month or two, both Bad Bloods books should be up for pre-order, which is awesome. This week’s #1lineWed preview theme was “smell.”

I could smell the night on my skin, the gunpowder, the sulfur smog, the betrayal of a city.

Add Bad Bloods to Goodreads: November Rain and November Snow

Visit the Facebook, Pinterest, and the Extras page.

What I’m Reading:

I finished The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey, and it was AWESOME. The sequel to The 5th Wave was gruesome, sometimes disgusting, uncomfortable, riveting, and completely insane. I would have to bet that The Last Star will be even crazier. Thank you, Rick Yancey. Thank you. You can read my five-star review by clicking here.

What I’m Listening To:

The radio while traveling on the road! If you’re curious, here was my route.

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What I’m Watching:

I binge-watched Shameless, which is an awesome train wreck of a show. Definitely recommended if you don’t mind the uglier sides of life.

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What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

Puppy chow!

What I’m Wearing:

12698387_979742842072897_8285426920474485363_oMy new sleeping mask. It’s adorable, I know. I couldn’t help myself.

What I’m Wanting:

To see your pretty faces at the book signing today! I have no idea what time you’re reading this, but thank you for sharing the event or even wishing you could be here. You are the best.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

This was freakin’ priceless. I have been working very hard on Take Me Yesterday, so it leaked over to my dream world. I was sitting at a concert, watching Noah and Broden, when a man sat down next to me. When I looked over at him, I realized he was “K.” (I will call him K, because I’m not positive about his name yet, but he is the protagonist from an epic fantasy I have written that I have referred to before as “D.” Basically, he’s from another book I’ve written that’s in limbo because I’m working on Take Me Yesterday.) Well, K watch Noah and Broden for a minute and then turned to me and said, “These are the dudes you’ve ditched me for?” He was not impressed. And I burst out into hysterical laughter. Noah and Broden heard this happen and immediately came over and started defending themselves. I could not stop laughing. I actually woke up, I believe, from dream Shannon’s laughter. Characters need to stay in their own books and dreams. But K is getting really pushy. I might just have to take a TMY break and give him some attention.

What Else Is Going On:

Boo Boo went to the vet on Thursday. He is 10 lbs., and healthy enough for another 13 years. In fact, all three of my cats had their yearly visit now, and all three are perfectly healthy. That is worth celebrating.

~SAT

I hosted #AuthorinaCoffeeShop Episode 6 this past Thursday instead of Friday. I might do the next four episodes on Thursday just to see what day is better for everyone, but I’d love to hear your opinions. Thanks for continuing to come and hang out and just have fun in the coffee shop with me (even though it’s virtual and kind of crazy). I can’t wait to see you there next week at 7 PM on Twitter via @AuthorSAT. I’ll be sure to let everyone know if it’s on a Thursday or Friday before then.

The Timely Death Trilogy is now available! 

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1: FREE 

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

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Death Before Daylight: book 3:

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Writing Tips

#WW How Podcasts Can Help Your Writing

Audio books are getting more and more popular every year. Why? Well, it’s nice to be able to listen to a book while driving to work instead of the latest (and probably repetitive) pop song. On top of that, many people have less free time than ever before, so audio books help add to the variety of ways readers can still read. (Now if they could only get that price down…)

Personally, I’m not an audio book person. Not yet. But I have found another stream of entertainment through audio programs, and they help with my writing.

I love podcasts. I think they are brilliant, and they definitely help keep me updated when I FINALLY give myself a break from staring at my computer screen. I generally listen to a podcast while doing the dishes or putting away the laundry or chasing my crazy cats away from scratching up the latest UPS delivery. (True story.)

Basically, they help me continue to research the publishing industry or for my writings when I’m not on my computer. Since I work on the computer all day (and spend most of my free time on the computer as an author), it’s nice to have the option of simply listening to additional information and not have to go searching for it. I highly recommend giving them a try. Even if you already know the information given, it’s nice to have your feelings confirmed. (It’s also nice for a hermit like me, who practically never hears a human voice all week long.)

So, how do I recommend getting involved?

Well, think about what you want more information on and why. Personally, I wanted to follow at least two good writing podcasts, but I also wanted something that could help with my writing, especially in areas where I lack. To expand on that, I wanted something that would challenge my inspiration or force me to go outside my comfort zone. Seriously, there are podcasts on everything, but here is my example:

1. Writing Podcasts

There are dozens of podcasts dedicated to writing, publishing, and everything in between. Personally, my favorite has been Writing Excuses. The recordings are clear, the hosts are fun, and the topics are relatable but also challenging. I often find myself nodding along to everything they say, but then, they say ONE little thing in a way I’ve never thought about it before, and my entire afternoon is fueled with excitement. This is my favorite podcast of all-time. Highly recommended for every writer out there, no matter where you are in your writing career.

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2. Help with my Research

As every writer, I research. A lot. But I don’t always have hours and hours of time to research. So, I searched for a podcast with mythology and classical stories to listen to. This is more for inspiration than anything else, but it helps me take a break, have fun, and educate myself (or even refresh myself) on the mythology out there literature uses to create. It also feels like a reprieve from work, even though it isn’t.

3. Challenge My Inspiration

This is an expansion on #2, but basically, I didn’t just want to be inspired; I also wanted to be challenged. So, in this example, I challenged myself to listen to a podcast on Japanese mythology. Granted, I’ve already had some interest in this field, but it’s more difficult for me to get involved since I don’t have a huge background in it. By listening to it more, especially while contrasting it against western mythology, I can challenge myself to find inspiration in topics I wouldn’t normally find outside of that podcast.

These are three simple ways you can use podcasts to help with your writing.

I hope you have just as much fun as I have!

~SAT

I’m starting a new series called “Author in a Coffee Shop.” If you’re wondering what Author in the Coffee Shop is, it’s just how it sounds. I sit in a coffee shop and tweet out my writer thoughts while…you know…I people watch…for inspiration.
Follow me on Twitter via @AuthorSAT next Friday at 7 p.m. CDT for episode 2.

Here’s a sample if you missed out:

In other news…you can now add Bad Bloods to Goodreads: November Rain and November SnowI’m also considering leading up to the July releases with short stories of each character joining the “flocks.” A flock is a group of 12 bad bloods that have come together to survive on the streets. In Bad Bloods, there are four flocks, one for each cardinal direction of the city, but only two flocks are left: The Southern and the Northern Flock. Some stories would purposely be left out, but I have six written. If this is something you’d think you’d be interested in reading, let me know! I would start sharing them at the end of February.

Speaking of February, on February 13, I’ll be one of several featured authors at a Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas. (More info to come.) I’d love to see you at Bradley Fair!

Also, my awesome publisher is giving away a Kindle Fire right here.

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Starting your 2016 Reading Challenge? Minutes Before Sunset, book 1  in The Timely Death Trilogy, is FREE: (You could read it on your brand-new Kindle Fire.)

Minutes Before Sunset, book 1:

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Seconds Before Sunrisebook 2:

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Death Before Daylightbook 3:

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Miscellaneous

#WW 2016 YA Reading Predictions

As the year comes to an end, readers are looking forward to new releases in 2016…and authors are nervous about all the predictions coming out. (Come on, I know I’m not the only one.) I’ve already read a few myself—and they ALWAYS freak me out. So what better way to combat them than by joining in on the fun?

These are just my silly predictions for 2016. Basically, I’m just having fun! (And I hope you have fun too.) A slight disclaimer: if you’re an author, please don’t be discouraged if you don’t meet my “predictions.” I mean, I have two dystopian novels coming out in 2016, despite my predictions being against it, so trust me, I don’t think any sort of predictions should stop anyone from publishing what they’re publishing. In fact, I think predictions can be rather silly. Readers pick what’s hot and what’s not. Not publishers, not authors, not booksellers. Readers do.

This is just for fun.

Without further ado…

Alternate History: Personally—and I know I’m not of the popular opinion—I think 2016 will become the year of alternate history books. This sort of ties into other dimensions, which is the next sub-genre I want to discuss, but I’m seeing a huge growth in alternate history books stretching over numerous genres, which is why I think it’s so powerful. You can have an alternate history in sci-fi—think Man in the High Castle, which has just become an Amazon original (and is awesome by the way) about the Nazis winning WWII—and then think of steampunk or historical romance, where we have books like The Inventor’s Secret, in which the American Revolution never happened. Granted, these could just be “other dimensions,” but I had to separate them from the next topic, because these alternate history tales aren’t always explained by alternate dimensions; they simply can just be. If I had to get specific, I think this will get hugely popular around the fall season…or even move into 2017, especially if steampunk is involved. Either way, alternate history can thread itself into all genres seamlessly…including what I think will be the biggest trend: Other dimensions.

Dimensions: This is the MAIN one I see growing. Other dimension stories—like Trial by Fire or A Thousand Pieces of You—are continuing their trilogies, and from what I’ve noticed in the industry, when books get to their final pieces, that’s when the genre is at its hottest, so you might be looking at 2017, too. Ex. Winter in The Lunar Chronicles and Ensnared in Splintered—the last in their series—just released in the same year fairy tale retellings were HUGE. So, if your book includes other dimensions, readers might be fighting for it in 2016 and 2017. That being said, I HAVE to tackle fairy tale retellings…

Fairy tale retellings: Can we talk about this without someone getting upset with me? Many are claiming this is going to be the hottest genre in 2016, but I’ll tell you what…I’m a bit tired of them. I love them; please don’t get me wrong. In fact, I just finished Winterspell by Claire Legrand, and it was one of my favorite reads all year. (It’s a retelling of The Nutcracker.) I just think that I’m ready for something else, so this is probably biased, but I actually think readers are going to sway away from fairy tale retellings by the time we get halfway through 2016. I think 2015 was the year for fairy tales. I mean, I just went to the bookstore the other day, and EVERYTHING was a fairy tale retelling. There was a glass slipper or an apple on nearly every cover. It was exhausting. I like variety as much as the next person. So, while I love fairy tales—and I definitely think they are still going to do great—I don’t think they are going to be the star of the show like they were last year.

Here are five books I'm looking forward to that already have covers!
Here are five 2016 books I’m looking forward to that already have covers! (The cover for The Winner’s Kiss will now keep the original design for the hardback! So excited!) 

In a quick sum up, I think aliens/galaxy novels are growing, especially at the beginning of the year with the release of The 5th Wave movie (and the last book in the trilogy releasing, The Last Star). I also don’t think dystopian is going away at all, despite big publishers claiming they are, hence why Lionsgate is hoping to continue The Hunger Games franchise with prequels. (Here’s an article.) There’s still value in the genre—probably because of the state of the world—but I do see dystopian swinging more into books that combine dystopian elements with epic fantasy, meaning it’s an entirely new world separated from our world. Think of The Jewel by Amy Ewing (Her last book in this trilogy should release in 2016 as well). Basically, not “the US once existed, but now it doesn’t” dystopian, but rather “this is a brand-new world with dystopian governments doing terrible things.” This also means I’m seeing more epic fantasy in general. New world, new rules, new faces, new creatures, and of course, maps. So many more maps! Think of The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. If you have a map in the front of your book, you’re doing 2016 right.

And finally…covers: I can’t talk about books without talking about book covers. From what I can tell, fancy fonts and symbolism is the “in” thing, especially feathers. Has anyone else noticed that? Feathers are freakin’ everywhere. Girls in dresses are somehow staying popular, and despite the overload of them, I think they’re here to stay. People love them too much. (I mean, they are gorgeous, aren’t they?) I have a hate-love relationship with them myself. But—yes—I think 2016 will be the year of symbols on the cover rather than people. That and hand-painted designs. Anything with special graphics, unique fonts, and/or strange artwork will be grabbed off shelves for their looks.

So, what do you think?

Any genre you see growing? Any genre you see simmering down?

Again, these are just my silly little predictions. Nothing too serious.

Just have fun,

~SAT

It’s official! There will be a Bad Bloods cover reveal for BOTH books on January 6. I will send out a newsletter December 29, asking for help, and three of you will win an exclusive sneak peek of November Rain

If you want to be a part of it, sign up for my newsletter here. (No purchase necessary, your information will never be given away, and you can unsubscribe at any time. I only send out one email per month, if that.)

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774959_954867311227117_7029831497832645098_oQuick shout-out to my lovely publisher, Clean Teen Publishing. These hard-working ladies crafted the most thoughtful gifts for the CTP authors this holiday season. They made this ‘S’ out of excerpts from The Timely Death Trilogy! How neat is that?

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1 (FREE)

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2

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Death Before Daylight: book 3

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Writing Tips

Available on Barnes & Noble

EXCITING NEWS 😀 (Click any of the links to see the page. I’ve also added a NOOK widget to the right side of my page.)

November Snow (NOOK Book) is now available on Barnes & Noble.

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I’m really excited and happy about this, because November Snow (Paperback) will also be available through them in the next two months. So look out for that. Once that happens, I’m working at doing local events within their community, so I’ll be posting about those as they come.

I hope everyone’s Sunday is fantastic, and don’t forget to come by the Undergraduate Reading Series this Wednesday if you’re in Kansas!

Since I know most of you don’t live in Kansas, I’ll be sure to post what I read when that evening comes.

Keep reading, writing, and follow your passion! November Snow is also on Facebook (Click here.)

~SAT

P.S Barnes & Noble also added Editorial Reviews onto my page (so check those out!):

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