Tag Archives: Sean’s Bullet

Writing Tips: Dealing with Controversy

17 Apr

I live in Kansas City, and right now, if you watch the news, I’m sure you’ve heard of the recent tragedies that have happened here. I drive on the highways where the “Highway Shooter” is every day, and I live less than one mile away from the Jewish Community Center where three people died. In fact, I heard the sirens from my living room when it happened, and one of the victims went to Blue Valley High School, the same school I graduated from in 2009. But this isn’t about me. It’s about the effect it has on the Kansas City community.

I am reminded of how quickly a community can change, how the feeling of safety is a fleeting comfort, and how important it is to come together during this time. But I wanted to discuss an aspect of a writer’s life that these instances reminded me of that I’m sure many writers struggle with:

When we’re writing about sensitive issues, and they occur in real life – and occasionally, right down the street – we question ourselves.

I went through this when I wrote “Sean’s Bullet.” My military fiction story that was published in 2013: A Stellar Collection is fiction, but it deals with real-life issues, including friendly fire and PTSD. My recently published YA novel, Seconds Before Sunrise, deals with underage drinking and reckless driving. During this past week, I am going through some of the same thoughts I had when I was writing these stories.

Am I being true to the story? Am I not being sensitive to the victims? Am I portraying this respectfully and honestly? Am I over-thinking this? 

These thoughts run rampant through an author’s mind when they are facing a story with controversial events, but the answers are harder to find when the events are right outside your window.

My current manuscript – which I have yet to reveal – has a few instances where guns are used. Being a Kansas City resident during a time where we’ve had recent shootings and murders, creates a sensitivity to these things. I am a fantasy writer, but things that happen in fantasy can still happen in reality, and when that happens, it causes this pause – this hesitation that seemingly stops everything. For me, this pause is caused by guilt.

I feel guilty for having scenes that have affected real people. I want to find another way to entertain people in my stories. I break away from my story and question whether it’s right or not. But, eventually, I have to accept the fact that my story is fiction, that my scenes with violence or pain are not creating what occasionally happens in reality – near or far – and that I am doing my best to be a respectable artist.

So what can writers do when they face this issue?

I can’t tell every writer how to approach this. There is actually a lot of debate as to how to handle many controversial subjects in fiction, but I am not going to talk about what I consider appropriate because that’s my opinion. Instead, I’m giving advice.

1. Step away from your manuscript – when there’s an event that shifts your emotions about a piece, take a day and forget it. Then, return and think about it carefully. Is this event directly related to your work or is it just similar?

2. Cope with your emotions – This can include many types of coping. For instance, you can cope with a real-life event and then cope with an event in your fiction. You might realize they aren’t similar at all, and your thoughts will help you realize if your opinions have changed (or even if your characters’ opinions have shifted.)

3. Consider the actual event carefully – what makes it controversial? Who is affected by it? Have you personally dealt with it? Have you researched those who are affected by it?

4. Be willing to change but also be willing to keep it the same – sometimes bad things happen. Just because it’s in fiction doesn’t mean that it is directly related to something real. But if your opinions change, you might have to find a new way to go about a scene, and both are perfectly okay.

These things are very difficult to discuss. Even writing this blog post was challenging because these moments are very emotional, and we all react in our own way, but – in the end – we want to be respectful while pursuing our art in a passionate way. Every experience in our lives results in a lesson, good or bad, and it creates who we are. Personally, I have used my mother’s death as inspiration. Does that make me a bad person? No. It allowed me to cope in a creative way. That is me. I shouldn’t feel ashamed of it. But – at the same time – I strive to use that experience in a respectful manner. That’s all I can do.

I can either hide behind my guilt or I can embrace my emotions and pursue my art.

There are limits, but they are self-imposed, and every artist must decide what is appropriate for them and their audience. It is a responsibility of an artist, and it is one to be considered carefully.

I discussed this today with a heavy heart, but I wanted to open a safe place to talk about this, because I know many artists who struggle with the same emotions. If you’ve had an instance where you have dealt with this, feel free to discuss below.

~SAT

Anthology & Announcements

27 Oct

I have A LOT of announcements to make, but I don’t want to overwhelm any one with a post simply filled with a checklist of things I need to say (I do have this checklist by the way…in a notebook…on a pink post-it note…ripping slightly in half as I read off of it.) So, for today, I’m going to focus on what happened during my week of guest posts (Weren’t they great? I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.)

Midterms decided to take place during a very exciting week for me (of course.) But now they’re over, and I can share all of the news I’ve been wanting to talk about on here!

ShannonAThompson.com was Freshly Pressed. Basically, Censorship of Self-Published Authors or Something Else freshlypressedbecame one of the hand-picked articles on the WordPress homepage. And I got a badge–how neat. It’s now beneath my name. This meant a lot to me for numerous reasons, but the most important one is how the information is spreading. I was so delighted to know that the discussion was put in the hands (or on the computer screens) of other readers who might not have come across the piece otherwise. Special thanks to the WordPress editors for featuring it!

On top of this, I got to experience one of those moments an author never forgets: my first published short story arrived in the mail, and I am now able to hold the anthology, 2013: A Stellar Collection, in my hands!

"Sean's Bullet"

“Sean’s Bullet”

My story, Sean’s Bullet, is military fiction, and it’s dedicated to every man and woman who has served, but there is almost every genre you could think of in this collection. There’s thriller, fantasy, contemporary fiction, and science-fiction. We have hilarious reads, like “Big Wolf on Campus” by Ryan Attard, and serious reads, like “Edge of Disaster” by Val Vogel, who recounts Katrina. I was so excited to finally read them all (because I was only able to read two of them before the release, and they were great!) The best part? 2013: A Stellar Collection is available for FREE on Smashwords. Here’s the link. I hope you download it to your library and enjoy these stories. I know I did.

Click Here!

Click Here!

It wasn’t shortly after I read these stories that my Facebook Author Page hit 1,000 likes, another exciting moment for me. I truly feel like I’m reaching out to more people and connecting with authors and readers alike. It’s safe to say this has been a crazy week–a crazy good week–and I am delighted to share everything with everyone.

Now that  I completed midterms, I can continue doing my regular posts. I know midterms doesn’t have anything to do with writing, but I feel really accomplished, and I can put more time into those pesky edits. You might ask, “What edits?” Well, I’m working on Seconds Before Sunrise! And I’ll be announcing the release date soon. So look out for that.

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~SAT

Publishing News: Anthology

19 Sep

Website Update: We hit 9,000 followers today! Thank you 😀

Really fast:

Giveaway opportunity: ShannonAThompson.com is only 8 followers away from hitting 9,000, and I want to celebrate! Once we hit the mark, I’ll be hosting a giveaway, and, so far, I have 18 books, but I need as many authors to participate as possible. Please send me an email to ShannonAThompson@aol.com or message me on my FB Author Page for more details. Thank you for your support!

Even faster:

AEC Stellar is releasing an anthology, a collection of short stories from numerous authors, next month! I’ve added a page for it under novels, which you can look at by going to my tool bar or clicking hereBelow you’ll see the cover of this upcoming collection. I am REALLY excited for this publication, and I feel very lucky to be a part of this. It’s always an exciting moment to see another work of yours being shared with the world. My story, Sean’s Bullet, is a military-fiction piece I originally wrote in my Fiction Writing I class during my freshman year in college. Another reason I am excited for this short story stems from the genre. It isn’t a genre people have seen me write from before, so I can’t wait to hear what everyone has to say. I’ll announce when it’s released, so look out for it! In the meantime, check out what’s coming your way:

2013: A Stellar Collection~SAT 

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